She was a woman of routine and control, yet also a woman who quite enjoyed going with the flow. To the harried drive-thru worker who forgot her drink and two of her tacos, she'd shrug, smile, and continue on her way. To her mother who decided that, no, you horrible child, we're not having your siblings over to celebrate your birthday this year, you're plenty old, she'd shrug, smile, and buy herself something nice online. But if you interrupted her schedule, you'd catch hell. Running every morning before work was one such ritual and unless ice or gallons of water were falling from the sky, she'd be out every morning at 6:00 am, run exactly 3.25 miles around the same streets of her neighborhood every morning, and be home about 6:37 for a hearty bowl of cheerios.
When she'd started this particular ritual in her life, the mornings had been freezing cold and in near complete darkness - a thrill and motivator to get running for sure. She'd grown used to hot, sticky, bright mornings, but was thankful now to run again in the slightly cooler darkness. She wasn't the least bit worried about tripping on all the leaves scattered - light or dark, she'd memorized her path and the particular breakaways where sidewalk was better than street and vice versa.
So at first she was cheered by the sight of a small dog coming down the street towards her. No owner attached, which was odd, but she would smile, wave, maybe get a pet in before continuing her run. She was undeniably pissed when the small thing growled, jumped at her, and sank its teeth into her side. She wrapped her hands around its neck, squeezed, ripped it from her side, and threw it as far from her as she could. The pain on her side burned and her vision swam more than she was comfortable with when she looked down at the small holes in her tank top whilst trying to speedily stagger away and promptly fell over into unconsciousness.
When she woke up, there were trees above her and the ground was warm. Like warm, as in having had the sun shine on it for a few hours, which was a little alarming. Also, there were a lot more trees hovering over her than the few big ones, scattered by separate front yards that she was used to. And yeah, she was in a forest, she discovered as she woke up. It reminded her of the trail she'd run on the weekends, and vaguely she wondered if she'd been dreaming. But there was no trail, no pavement, just dirt, trees, wind. At least the trees were still scattered with red, orange, yellow, and bits of lingering green and the air had the same chilly fall smell to it. There was pain in her side as she stood up. The bloody bite was still there and she frowned at it. So same day, different location, and most likely late for work judging by the brightness of the day now.
Huffing, she started limping through the trees and then nearly had a heart attack when she realized her phone and earbuds were missing from her running belt. Okay, now she was panicked. She never was without her phone, her source of music and internet. No way in hell. Immediately, she was scared and pissed all at once. Spite and fire kept her moving, determined to get back, take the day off work, call her brother, get a new phone immediately, and tell work that some kidnapping gang used a dog to lure her in, but clearly failed in their attempt, hence waking up alone, injured, and confused in the forest.
Things were probably a little more complicated than that, she amended, when she finally made it to a clearing, an open backyard, and watched a woman wave one arm and one arm with a stick in it around, causing clothes and sheets to float in the air and land themselves on laundry lines. She watched for a few seconds more because surely she couldn't be seeing someone do magic. Then the woman, a hale, cheerful thing with wispy brown and peppered hair noticed her and let out a shrilly 'oh!'.
"Uhh. Hi there. Can I get a little help?" she said, gesturing to the blood on her hip. The woman stared so she added in an awkward, toothy smile. "Please?"
And that seemed to do the trick.
She stared blatantly and probably as if she was touched in the head as the woman startled, came back to herself, led her inside quickly with soft hands and half-finished curious mutterings, and set her down on a chair in a homey kitchen. A kitchen where pots of food were stirring themselves, a scarf was knitting itself, and photographs of a man, woman, and young boy were moving. It reminded her of the Harry Potter movies and when Harry walked into the Weasley's house for the first time, so amazed by the magic of it all. But there was no way. She must still be dreaming, like Alice in Wonderland. She'd been running on the trail on the weekend and fell down a bank or something.
"You poor dear! What on earth happened to you?" the woman said, returning with some gauze, some glass bottles of something, and what was definitely a wand in her hand, elegantly carved wood and all.
She blinked and then opened and closed her mouth a few times, before figuring out how to words. "I was out running this morning and a dog bit me, I think."
"Oh I see," the woman murmured curiously, dubiously, before inching in closer. "Well, let me have a look then."
So she lifted her shirt a bit and pulled away her yoga pants, letting the woman get a look at the bite, which actually was quite gruesome in the light. The bloody gouges looked almost black, but with points of white or silver pooling in the very centers, like puss or infection. She held back a gag and the woman gasped.
"Fleamont!" she suddenly said, shouting behind her down a hallway. "You better call Alastor!"
She frowned and her already tetchy nerves and confused brain caused her to spit out a rather sharp, "Is something wrong?"
The woman looked at her tearfully and with a striking amount of pity that automatically just made her more angry. "My dear, were you bit before the sunrise?"
A tall man with wrinkled laugh lines and wild black hair came in and there was rushed conversation and a fireplace with green fire that definitely looked like the floo network from the Harry Potter movies and more fussing from the woman, and in all of it, she just sat there in a daze, watching it happen. Another man arrived in the fireplace, scraggly shoulder-length light brown hair and a trench coat and another wand. The three gathered around her and the old woman touched her softly with gentle, cautious hands.
"Show them the bite dear."
So she did, obviously, and the scraggly-haired man hummed rather intensely and seriously, before there was more quick talking between the adults standing over her. A werewolf bite they said, but no reported attacks he'd heard of, he'd have to head in and check, they needed to treat this immediately, a miracle she's alive. It was a blur.
Then she was on a couch, the woman beside her holding her hand and nudging her head towards her shoulder with the other hand. The men leaned over her other side, told her to brace herself, and poured a bottle of liquid onto her bite. The pain definitely brought her back to her senses and she screamed through gritted teeth, digging her tear-pricked eyes into the shoulder of the woman who was cooing softly and comfortingly at her. She didn't look, but felt the cold swish of liquid and the settling of fabric securely on her side.
Things kind of slid away again as the woman petted her hair and then rose, saying something about tea. The men conversed between themselves and maybe were addressing her. She answered back without thinking.
It was October 1st. She'd been out running. No idea where she was. Don't remember anything about her attacker, but the dog, the werewolf, was small like a terrier. She doesn't know where her family is. What was her name? There were a lot of words and too much to focus on, but she wasn't just some push-over or some victim, so she asked questions back as she thought of them.
It was apparently still October 1st. It just wasn't 2020 anymore, but rather 1974. She'd been bitten by a werewolf and was now in the home of a witch named Euphemia Potter and a wizard named Fleamont Potter. She'd just seen the Alastair Moody. From Harry Potter. Adrenaline wearing off and pain ebbing, she felt warm and comfortable on the couch and then tilted over and fell asleep.
When she woke up, it was dark. She was, blessedly, horizontal and tucked under a warm, patchy quilt. For a while, she stared at the ceiling and wondered if her last memories were actually memories, or a strange dream. Unfortunately, her side still hurt like hell and she did not recognize the ceiling, the windows, the blanket, nothing. So she sighed and then heaved herself up.
Her tank top and yoga pants had been replaced with a t-shirt and shorts. Upon further inspection, she noticed her running shoes sat nicely by the door to the room which had been left open an inch. Her heart leapt when she looked upon the dresser to her right and found not just her folded up clothes, but a familiar black shape. Tearing back the covers, she nearly tangled her legs and fell off the bed in her haste to reach her phone. So it had been on her. She had never felt so relieved.
The weighty metal in her hand was grounding and a grin widened her lips as she thumbed the home button and saw the light flicker to life. The first thing she noticed was the obvious lack of signal and wifi which, while expected, was still disappointing. She was in a world of magic, brought here by something magical, and said magical force couldn't let her keep fanfiction? It was more than a little heartbreaking. And overwhelming. Suddenly, everything was just really overwhelming.
With a shaky breath and a slide of her fingers across the dark screen, she stood. It was impulsive, the way she peaked out the door, saw nobody, and then tiptoed her way to the nearest door outside. It led to the backyard and the forest. With barely a glance back, she sprinted with a thrill through her chest across the grass, uncaring of the wetness on her feet, or the painful crunch of branches and leaves. She didn't stop until she was well into the forest and sure nobody could hear. She slumped down against a tree and pressed play on her music. Music didn't need internet or service. It just was - a bit of something from fifty odd years in the future, possibly a future that didn't even exist anymore, and now also her past.
She sat, breathing hard, doing her best to focus on the songs playing, not unlike trying to force her way through a tough workout or trying to beat a personal record on a run. A sudden thought hit her and she acted on it without thinking. Twisting, she pulled the nape of her t-shirt around and angled herself so the moonlight shone on the stretched tag. Hysterical laughter wheezed out as she read the name 'James Potter' on the tag and then she let it go so the shirt could spring back. She laughed for a while and then gulped air like she was in a competition and drinking the remaining half of a bowl of really delicious ramen noodles. Eventually, the panic and anxiety and confusion and thrill and grief faded into a burned out fuse of nothing. Here's what she knew.
She was in the world of Harry Potter. It wasn't funny or cool or exciting like she'd always daydreamed - ending up in a favorite fictional world, that is. And yeah, she'd daydreamed it a lot. She had daydreamed of endings and twists and turns and adventures and meeting the main characters. But the truth of it was that she had no clue what to do or what she would do or how she would get on from here. Meeting a 'main character' was the least of her worries.
She knew Euphemia Potter was a kind woman, and Fleamont was a decent guy who had gotten rich off a hair potion he invented. They had one child, James Potter, who was so far, nowhere to be found. They believed in helping strange, bleeding women who were recently bitten by werewolves. At the very least, she figured they would help her for a little while longer. She hadn't been taken in chains to the ministry for werewolf registration or whatever awful thing was hinted to have happened to werewolves. Remus Lupin wasn't a traumatized defeatist for nothing, after all.
So there was that. A couple sweet smiles, good manners, a shy demeanor and she could probably live off their kindness for a little while. Worst come to worst and they sent her off sooner, she'd knick some fancy looking objects and sell them off for money, set up in a hotel, and get a job as a waitress somewhere. She knew how to do that at least. Knowing that the Potters' were likely to look after her for at least another 12 hours or so, she felt another wash of relief and then exhaustion set in. Well, she wouldn't want to offend her new landlords or make them think she'd run off on them. That quilt was sounding real good. She walked back slowly, taking the time to pick over branches this time, and savoring one last song with a bittersweet smile that was sometimes a frown. She'd have to ration the remaining power on her phone without a charger. There was no way in hell she'd get through this without her music.
Back at the house, nothing seemed to have moved. She wiped her feet as best she could on the back welcome mat and snuck back through the house. In her room, she leaned back against the door softly until it closed and then collapsed under the covers. Going back and forth in her mind a few times, she eventually turned her phone off and slid it under her pillow.
Although she was used to rising before the sun for her morning excursions, she found herself sleeping in without her alarm and waking with the obnoxious chirping of birds and bright sun sliding across her face. There was a few deep breaths before she resolutely swung out of bed and tip toed around the house again. When she heard Euphemia and Fleamont speaking quietly in the kitchen, she paused and listened closely.
"I'm just saying we should be cautious is all. You know what Moody said-"
"Oh yes, Mr. Constant Vigilance believes she might be a werewolf planted here by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to spy on the Order! That little thing, who limped out of the forest, confused and alone and hurt. Poor dear couldn't be more than 13! Certainly no older than our James, and you think she's a death eater?"
"It's just suspicious is all. There's nobody for miles in those woods and to turn up with few memories, needing help? Fenrir Greyback is known for biting children, and, you know, raising them.."
"Well what if she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time? She said it was small, like a puppy."
"She could have been lying!"
"But she wasn't! Take one good look at that sweet, young thing and tell me she doesn't sincerely need our help."
Honestly, she wanted to be offended. Not at being thought of as a spy for Voldemort, no, because Fleamont and Moody did have a point and were right to be cautious. Mostly, she wanted to be offended that Euphemia thought she was 13. She'd been an early bloomer, taller than most girls and with actual, fairly large breasts when she was actually 12. Thing is, she didn't grow much taller after that. Oh, she grew wider in hips and belly and thighs, and then in her twenties had decided enough was enough and had worked hard to trim it all off, hence the running. She was a grown woman and she knew she was small, 5 foot and proudly slim and lean with muscles that developed more every day.
She wanted to be offended at being confused for a 13-year-old, but really, it could only work to her advantage. No older than James, Euphemia had said. Meaning, James was at Hogwarts right now likely. A darling, sweet, thing she'd said. With those thoughts in mind, she slunk back to her room and crawled back under the covers, mussing up her own hair and curling her body up into a little ball, with just her face peeking from the blankets. She waited, pretending to still be sleeping, and when there was the soft sound of someone coming into her room and a soft hand resting on her head, she groaned softly.
"Mom?" she said, dreamily.
If Fleamont was suspicious of her, he didn't show it outwardly whatsoever. It didn't even seem as if he were watching her all that closely as Euphemia guided her out of the room and into the kitchen for a hearty breakfast. Really, she should've played it cute and demure, eating peckishly like a good, sweet girl, but she was downright starving so she scarfed down two plates of eggs, tomatoes, beans, ham, and toast quite quickly. Euphemia looked overjoyed and Fleamont laughed heartily at her enthusiasm before disappearing off to his workshop.
Aside from her hearty table manners, she did her best to be as cute and sweet as possible through the morning, offering to help with dishes, thanking Euphemia profusely for the clothes and room, drinking every drop of the tea set in front of her, and letting the woman fuss over her. Her small, tentative smiles got bigger as she got more comfortable. They became more honest too as she saw drinks stir themselves, little letters fly around the ceiling in paper plane form, a broom dusting the floor on it's own. Magic was incredible and it finally occurred to her that she might have a chance of actually being magic. At least, she'd be living in a world with it. Euphemia led her back to her room after breakfast and handed her some more clothes to wear.
"I'm sorry I don't have a dress or anything cuter for you. All I've got that fits you is my son's old clothes," Euphemia said.
She hummed to herself as she buttoned up a plaid shirt. Cute dresses, huh? The room she was in was decorated fairly femininly too, she noticed. "You have a son?" she asked.
"Yes, one. His name's James. He's probably a bit older than you. He's off at Hogwarts right now."
"Hogwarts? What's that?" she said with a curious gaze as she opened the door and let Euphemia appraise her. The two ended up back in the living room with more tea while Euphemia talked about James. Eventually, Euphemia turned the conversation back on her and began asking tentative questions. Before she answered with a sweet, sad smile, she requested Euphemia's help in brushing her hair, stating she never had the patience for clearing out the tangles at the back of her head, what with her hair as long and unruly as it was. Euphemia grinned and agreed while she answered the questions as best she could.
Her family was gone. They had loved her very much, but had been separated and the chances of her finding her way back were very slim. It was as if thousands of miles had been put between them when she'd been bitten and passed out. She 'denied' being young and stated petulantly, childishly, that she could take care of herself. She was used to being on her own and liked to run because it made her feel powerful and free. She had brothers and missed them already. She'd never been very close with her mother, but had always wanted to be. She liked music. Her name was lost.
The day passed with a tour of the house, far too much tea, far more half-truths, and sweet lying smiles that were kind of real because Euphemia was actually a really cool person. Euphemia talked about Fleamont like he was the scourge of the earth, but also like she'd never known anyone better. She talked about James like he was an idiotic, energetic, teenage boy with a mind half too clever and far too troublesome. She clearly missed him more than anything. She poured whiskey in her 4 o'clock tea and licked cake batter straight out of the bowl. She censored out swears in music with words like 'sugar' and 'fudge', but let Fleamont turn the wireless up loudly anyways. She hated gardening, but hated Mrs. Delores down the street thinking she had a superior garden more. By the end of the day, Euphemia had as good as adopted her, or maybe it was the other way around.
They were eating the freshly baked chocolate cake out of the pan and clashing forks when Euphemia asked a question that she actually found herself terribly interested in.
"Well, what should we call you?"
She thought she'd like to be called Persephone, like the Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld. Or maybe something pretty like Cataleya, or something foreign yet fitting like Kagome. But, she felt a sense of debt towards Euphemia, even if only for these delicious sweets alone. "I don't know. I have this feeling that my last name was rather boring, so pick something exciting alright?"
"You want me to choose?"
"You found me. It only seems right."
"Alright then," Euphemia said. She hummed, looked through the back door and across the yard to the forest, and then looked back.
"We'll call you Fae."
"Fae? What's that mean?" she asked, lying again. She thought about a Fantastic Beasts fanfiction she'd read about Newt helping a fae and ending up having a magical baby with Percival Graves. Mentioning accidental baby acquisition via fairy folk was probably laying it on too thick, so she pretended to be ignorant.
"A Fae, or a Fairy, is a nature spirit, known for their small and sweet appearance, but are rather sneaky, cunning, tricky beings. I think it suits, don't you think?" Euphemia nodded with a sly smile and suddenly she realized that her sweet attitude all day had probably been a little too sweet, a little too obvious, and Fleamont wasn't watching her closely because Euphemia had been.
Fae grinned sweet, sharp, and toothy all at once. "Well, I'm actually a werewolf, but you're not wrong."
That night, Fae ran through the forest with a lightness in her step. She was used to running for at least an hour every day and so even without the anxiety and panic, she found herself sneaking into the forest in the dead of night again. The restlessness and adrenaline and small happinesses she had that day made her feel as if there were springs in her legs.
The next day, Fae found out that mentioning accidental magical baby acquisition may not have been going too far after all.
"Euphemia has always wanted a daughter, you see. She was pregnant with one when James was about a year old. Unfortunately, she got sick and well, having children after that was no longer an option. My darling girl was heartbroken."
Fleamont was a man with no diplomacy, but plenty of boyish charm. Fae liked his laugh lines and the way his hands were always moving. They were constantly turning and twisting objects. If there were no objects available, they were wiggling and waving in empty air, or flailing because he liked to talk with his hands. Gangly and tall, it was no surprise that he was ungraceful and bumbling in most places, but here in his basement workshop, he moved with the grace of a figure skater.
The only thing she really knew about him was that he made a potion for hair, but the workshop reminded Fae vaguely of Ariel's Grotto from The Little Mermaid in that it was full of bits and bobs, all displayed in boxes and glass cases on numerous shelves. The shelves lined two walls of the room, chaotically and curiously overflowing desks lined the third wall, and the fourth wall was entirely floor to ceiling windows. They were clearly charmed as the room was entirely underground and she was not embarrassed to say that she had circled the house once or twice, seeking the windows to peer in from the outside. It was quickly becoming Fae's favorite room in the house. It was homey and put-together and invited movement. Flurried activity. Creation.
"It works perfectly you see. You needed help and a place to go and Euphemia had always wanted a daughter," Fleamont said, peering through his thick framed glasses rather intently at what seemed to be a blue feather flickering under intensely close lamp light.
"Too good to be true, is what you mean, right? I overheard you talking yesterday morning. You think I'm a spy for whats-his-bucket."
Fleamont didn't even pause. "Well yes. But you seem a nice enough girl and now that Euphie's got her hands on you, there'll be nothing to worry about I'm sure."
Fae wasn't sure if that was his assurance that he believed her, that he still wasn't sure but it didn't matter because Euphemia was watching her closely, or that he thought she was a spy but Euphemia had hunted her and now she would surely change sides. Fae wasn't even sure how to feel about his implication that Euphemia hunted her. She could work with it though. And she certainly appreciated Fleamont's straightforwardness.
"Right then. So whatcha working on?"
The blue feather was being studied as a potential ingredient for a potion to turn red roses into cerulean ones. How that worked, Fae had no clue, but it seemed cool.
"Wouldn't that turn them purple?"
He paused in his intense gaze and glanced at her over his shoulder. "Purple? How do you suppose?"
"Because mixing red and blue makes purple, not that I have any clue about potions, mind you."
Evidently, the fact that she had no idea about potions or flowers or dyes didn't bother him because, for all intents and purposes, he didn't really have a clue either. He was good with potions, but explained that he normally worked with different materials and this was a special project as a gift for Euphemia. She had envy over Mrs. Delores' pale blue lilies and no green thumb.
"Well you could always just paint them blue." Which might still make them purple. She imagined that when Alice and the Red Queen painted the roses red, they used a rather strong paint, or else the roses turned pink.
Fleamont looked thrilled. "Now there's an idea. A potion that would permanently change the color of flowers, perhaps even at will!"
Now Fae was grinning. "Yeah! Just imagine, a flick of a wand and the flowers become yellow, or indigo, or even rainbow!" Fleamont would lose his shit in the future when color-changing lights became a thing.
"Rainbow! Now that's an idea!" His glasses seemed to bounce on the boney bridge of his nose, as if his energy made them sentient. He galloped around his workshop, grabbing this and that. It reminded Fae of Jim Carrey's Grinch and how he tip-toed quickly with really high knees whilst stealing Christmas, and yet super smooth at the same time. Should've been a strange sight for a man as old as Fleamont, but his enthusiasm and the gears turning in his head and the twitching hands made it all fascinating.
They worked out a system, Fae and Fleamont. He talked out loud a lot and Fae got pretty good at figuring out when he just needed a soundboard and when an answer was fine or when an answer was needed. In return, she spent mornings in wonder and she gained access to pen and paper. In his wild workshop, Fleamont had pens. It was marvelous and she wasn't prepared to bother with a quill. He had paper and sketchbooks and gridded sheets everywhere. At her request, he dug up an 8 by 10 notebook which had scribbles across the first few pages, and a bunch of blank nothing across the rest. Thus, Fae was finally able to get all her thoughts down and out of her brain. She was able to write her memories from her last life, her memories from this new life, her memories of this world's future, everything that was bouncing around her head like popcorn. Or bowling balls. It was a massive relief and she wrote for hours straight on that first morning in Fleamont's workshop, not even pausing when her hand cramped terribly.
It was after lunch the next day when Fae did her first bit of magic. She couldn't bear another drop of tea, but was still eager to be polite and sweet to her caretakers. But ugh, tea. After cleaning up lunch and settling down onto her prefered side of the couch, she stared unhappily into the mug in her hands. The mug was pretty, a fun bright orange with blue and yellow triangles on it, but she really wished the dark colored liquid was coffee instead of black tea. She took a deep, hopeful whiff and then promptly recoiled. Nope, still black tea.
Euphemia and Fleamont came into the room a moment later, Fleamont taking his armchair by the back door and nearly launching his tea into the air with the force it reclined. The saucer and cup rattled, but remained upright with a steadiness and a hinge of the wrist that would've made any server impressed. Euphemia rolled her eyes and sat on the other side of the couch. In sync, they both took deep sips of tea. In sync, they sighed and then looked up at Fae. Fae didn't quite jump, but it was a near thing. Hastily, she took a sip. Paused.
Wait a second.
She took another sip, followed quickly by a second and a third. Then she took a long, deep smell. Oh. That was coffee. Black coffee with no cream or sugar, but definitely coffee. Did Euphemia and Fleamont catch on? Oh, what she would give for some Coffee-Mate Vanilla Caramel creamer. No sooner than she had thought it, the liquid in the mug became a cloudy, light brown. Fae dropped her mug and then squeaked as she realized the coffee was about to get all over her and the couch. The coffee and the mug froze mid-air, sideways, just for a moment while her breath caught. As air eventually rushed out of her lungs, the coffee finished it's descent into her lap.
"Fuck!" she said, because it was quite hot. And then, right after, "Oh my God. OH MY GOD. Holy shit!"
As she stood and fanned at her lap and reached for the mug and also kind of spasmed, the mug floated up onto the table and there was a murmured Scourgify that she vaguely registered as the coffee disappeared. The coffee on her lap and the couch disappeared and she stared at her hands. Stared up at Euphemia. Stared back at her hands. Grinned.
"Was that me?"
"Was what you?" Fleamont answered, still lounging bonelessly in his chair. He had a keen smile and a sly expression in his eyes.
"The coffee! I mean, the tea. It was tea, right? Definitely drinking tea and then not tea? I mean, drinking, but drinking not tea. I was drinking, but I was not drinking tea. It was tea and then I drank it and it wasn't tea?" Fae asked, words tripping clumsily in her excitement.
"Oh? Do you not like tea?" Fleamont asked at the same time Euphemia exhaled slowly through her nose and answered, "Yes darling, that was tea."
"I hate tea! And I turned it into coffee. I just did magic! Holy fuck!" A sweet, nice girl shouldn't use words like 'fuck' or 'shit', but she had just done magic and she sincerely could not contain herself. Whatsoever.
Fleamont barked out a laugh and pointed a victorious finger at Euphemia. "I knew i- wait what?"
"I turned tea into coffee and caught it midair and then cleaned it up! With no hands! I did magic! My first time doing magic was making coffee!" Ah yes, all was still right with the world in some ways. As far as first time magic and accidental magic goes, making coffee was terribly on brand for her. She wondered if she could turn some tea into a Salted Caramel Frappuccino if she thought about it hard enough. Already an entirely new world of possibilities was blooming in her brain.
Euphemia looked rather crossly at Fleamont before smiling sweetly at Fae. "Oh shut up Fleamont, you win. And yes, you made coffee out of tea, but technically I stopped it and cleaned it u- excuse me, first time?" Halfway through her sentence, Euphemia had paused rather abruptly and stood up.
Fae nodded, still grinning. And then looked at them quizzically. This was by far the most horrified that she had seen them, even counting the whole stumbling-into-the-backyard-bloody- from-a-werewolf-bite thing.
"Darling, you've never done magic before?"
"Nope. I've always known about it, but this is a first."
Euphemia and Fleamont looked as if the world had ended and fired question after question. There were a lot of questions, and frankly, Fae was too busy sipping her remaining delicious, warm, caramel-y, creamy coffee and thinking of all the awesome things she could do with magic. She would never need a lighter again for candles. Getting books or food from the top shelves would never be a problem again with Wingardium Levi-o-sa. The possibilities were endless. And, well, fuck. Being in this world as a werewolf, but as non-magic would've been heartbreaking.
Before she knew it, Euphemia had run off in a flurry and Fleamont was left gaping at her.
"Oh, you're in for it now," he said, and then turned to walk into the workshop, washing his hands of Fae's happy daze and Euphemia's sudden tornado-like flurry of activity. Chugging the rest of her coffee, she ran to the kitchen, poured some more tea, and followed Fleamont down into the workshop with her notebook and a pen clutched under an arm. She spent the afternoon thinking of every spell she'd ever known or heard of and writing it down to try out later. She also frequently thought at the mug of black tea, hoping it would turn into coffee again. It didn't, but that didn't discourage her from trying.
What Fleamont had meant by 'You're in for it now' was that Euphemia on a mission was an unstoppable force. An unstoppable force who was also a part-time nursery teacher for magical children at a primary in town. Fae came down for breakfast and found Fleamont nibbling on a plate of bacon sitting on the counter while the entirety of the kitchen table was covered in piles of colorful paper books.
"What's all this?" Fae asked, hopping onto the counter next to Fleamont and stealing a few slices of bacon from him. Fleamont tsk'd her lightly and pushed her off the counter before sliding the plate her way and promptly disappearing. Somewhere in those few actions, the plate had refilled itself to a heap of bacon.
"These are James' things from when he was young and a few books from the classroom," Euphemia said.
Fae raised an eyebrow. "A few?"
"Well, I thought you might like a proper magical education and we've got to start somewhere. Now, sit. Let's see what all you know."
Suddenly, Fae was very grateful for Fleamont refilling the plate of bacon. She was going to need the energy. Grinning, she raced to a chair at the table beside Euphemia, bacon in hand, and buried her eyes in kids booklets on magic. There were tons of questions and it reminded Fae a good deal of a job interview, but the type where she didn't want to bother lying or exaggerating her skills. She knew nothing about magic and would only stand to gain from being transparent about her lack of knowledge, embarrassing as it was. Quoting one of her favorite movies, fundamentals were the building blocks of fun. Or as she learned from college - rules in design are only necessary to learn until you learn them well enough to break them successfully. And magic was going to be a hell of a lot of fun once she got the basics down.
It was clear by the pitying and flabbergasted looks on Euphemia's face that her age did not at all match with the amount of knowledge about magic she currently possessed. That is, if she were to be a child actually born in this world. Since she wasn't, Fae didn't get offended at it, but rather took it as a challenge to learn so fast that it made Euphemia impressed. Two days passed at the kitchen table in a blink of an eye, with the occasional break for food or visits to Fleamont to write in her journal.
It was late at night when she finished every single book on the table. Well, almost every book. What had started as a ginormous messy pile was only added to over the past two days. Apparently, Euphemia had meant to just start with those and get rid of any books that were redundant in terms of knowledge. Cute and young as they were, Fae determined that every single one was necessary and so she read them all, picking randomly from the pile and settling it into a neat stack when finished. At the end of two days, all that was left was a single book - A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot. That wasn't a kids book, obviously, but Euphemia figured the first few chapters would cover the bases and Fae was easily able to read it. Now that was a touch and go conversation, Euphemia wondering if Fae was illiterate on top of being completely ignorant about magic. Fae was kind of offended by that even if it was a slightly fair question. Sort of. Well, she loved to read and write, so definitely not illiterate. Fleamont had laughed at that. But anyways, the only reason she hadn't finished it yet was that it was a rather dry textbook. Super interesting, but still hard to digest all in one go. That, and she'd gotten distracted and a little enchanted by the little notes on the pages that she guessed to belong to James. Sometimes, it was easy to forget that she was living with the grandparents of Harry Potter.
And sometimes, it was easy to forget that she was living in a completely different world altogether. Sometimes she was so caught up in magic and Fleamont's inventing and Euphemia's stories and running in the woods that she forgot her own world. It was after she left the kitchen that late night and returned to her room that it hit her. It hit her very hard.
She walked into her room and realized it was her room, and not just a room she was sleeping in. She had specific t-shirts of James' that she liked to wear lying on the ground and books on tables and paper and pens on the desk and her running shoes by the door. Her old clothes were hidden away safely, her blankets always ruffled. There were trinkets from Fleamont's workshop he said she could have and three glasses of water sitting on the nightstand because she was notorious for getting water and for forgetting to put it back in the kitchen.
It had been five days, nearly six now, since she had come here. Fae's body was still used to large amounts of exercise, specifically running. She ran every night in secret, sneaking out of the house and to the woods like clockwork. However, she'd been so caught up in settling in and figuring things out that she hadn't really let any of the anxiety or reality of the situation get to her like she had the first night. She liked to run - it cleared her mind and made her feel good. Most nights, the combined thrill of sneaking out and the happinesses she experienced from the days had made her night trips very fun. Not tonight.
Tonight, she needed music. She needed to sprint. She needed to be careless about branches and leaves and flowers that dared be in her way. With cagey, quick, panicked motions, Fae gathered her old clothes, running shoes, running belt, and her phone. Her phone, which had lain beneath her pillow for the past few days untouched. The battery was still at 94%, thank goodness. She was in such a hurry to get out and release her mounting anxiety in a furious burst of speed, that she almost didn't notice Fleamont sitting in his recliner by the back door.
"Going somewhere?" he asked.
Fae jumped and then froze. Deer-in-headlights-froze and stared at him. It hit her very quickly what this looked like. It looked a lot like she was sneaking out which was sneaky behaviour which is what spies were known to do. Shit, she wasn't even thinking. She'd been so careful the nights before. Excuses came to her head quickly, and most strongly was the idea to just tell Fleamont the truth. He wasn't one for bullshit anyways and she wasn't actually doing anything wrong. She just needed air, badly. All the same, she felt bad for sneaking around, even for something so small. The last thing she needed was them thinking she was untrustworthy or suspicious or that she didn't want to be here. She was starting to fit in and kind of belong - even though moments ago that very fact had terrified her.
She needn't have worried. Fleamont had her figured out in seconds.
"Don't be out too late, and take a jacket. It's a bit chilly," he said, standing and walking over to tower over her with his gangly, loving form. He draped a jacket around her, waited for her to put her arms in the sleeves, and zipped it up. Then he took her hand and placed a cold piece of metal in it.
"You're always welcome to go, you know. If you need to run or to get away for a bit," he said. Then he smiled and brushed his mouth over the top of her head. "You're always free to come back too. This is your home now, if you want it." And then he was heading up the stairs to the bedroom he shared with his wife.
Next thing Fae knew, her chest was on fire. It was heaving and her eyes were tearing up from the wind and her legs were pumping like a machine. She'd never run so fast in her life. A lot of time, probably twice what she normally spent out at night, passed before she stopped and bent over, one hand bracing herself against a tree to keep from falling over. She slid to the ground, gasping for air. In her other hand, the house key had left indents on her palm. Fae stayed like that for a while, and then started walking back in the direction of the house. How she knew which way that was, she didn't know. But she got there eventually and paused at the edge of the forest.
Remembering that she brought her phone, she listened to one song because that is what she had so desperately wanted when she initially came out to run. She wanted to listen to her music and remember and hold on to who she was. The song played and she didn't really hear it. When it was over, she tucked her phone away and walked to the back door. The key in her hand fit smoothly into the lock on the door and turned with a click. When she went in, she turned and locked the door again behind her. She didn't bother being extra quiet as she returned to her bedroom, just quiet enough not to wake Euphemia and Fleamont. In her room, she collapsed face first on her bed. After five minutes of lying there, she toed off her shoes and turned onto her side, settling her phone and the key on the blanket next to her face. She stared at them. The too-long jacket sleeves bunched around her hands smelled like the workshop, like cedar and a touch of maple and something herby.