Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling; various publishers including, but not limited to, Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books; and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: Oooh! Two reviews already! Thanks!
Chapter Two: Moving Home
Aurilia sighed as the plane landed. She was back home… almost. It had taken the two years since adopting Harry to sell her parents' old house in Ames, and to find a suitable home for the two of them in Iowa. She couldn't bear living in the house where she had so many memories of her father and mother, let alone the place where her mother had killed herself. With the money that her parents had left her upon their deaths, after the life-insurance policies and all her father's investments were taken into consideration, it was unlikely that either she or Harry would ever want for anything. She had finally decided on a small acreage in southern Iowa, paying the full asking price without even blinking. It was a hundred and forty-three acres of hilly, somewhat forested land, bordered by a private wildlife reserve on one side, farmland on another, a small river on the third, and un-farmable wild forest on the fourth. A portion of the property – only about three acres or so – was a veritable tangle of miscellaneous farm buildings. The paperwork concerning the land also told her that she owned thirteen city lots – not that the town it was a part of could be considered anything but a tiny little village. The population was right around eighty, and there were but thirty houses in total, though the realtor that sold her the land had said that the town of Marysville had once been a prosperous mining town. The mine had been for coal, and suffered a cave-in in 1923, killing several miners. The mine had never re-opened, and when a major flood washed away the sawmill in 1954, the town slowly started dying off.
The pictures she'd seen of the area reminded her strongly of the forested foothills of the mountains of Scotland, but more importantly, it was Iowa. Her home. She'd spent nearly forty thousand dollars in having a house built on the land. The realtor had mentioned how, of the two houses already there, neither had indoor plumbing, and the one didn't even have electricity! So, Aurilia had contacted a contractor in the area and had a four-bedroom house built. She'd also made sure to have the seven wells on the property tested, and discovered that two were completely unusable, one had caved in, and three were fit only for animal use. The last one, though, apparently was tapped directly into a sweet spring, the water naturally filtered through the native layers of sandstone, limestone, and coal.
Shaking her head from her musings, she gently woke Harry. "Little luz, the plane's landed."
Harry blinked his eyes open. "We're dere?" he sleepily asked.
Aurilia shook her head, "Not just yet, luz, but we have to get off the plane and find a car to go the rest of the way."
Harry yawned and clutched his bear, the same blue one that Aurilia had purchased that first night. "'Kay. 'Fore we get a car, can we eat? I hungry."
"Sure, Harry. No problem. We have to get off the plane, though, otherwise, they just might ship us off to Alaska or the South Pole!"
Harry giggled and allowed Aurilia to assist him in undoing his seat-belt and getting their carry-ons. Aurilia had shipped all but their carry-on luggage ahead to the nearest post office to their new home. Aurilia shook her head in bemusement at the fact that they would be living – technically – in Marysville, but since the town was so small, would have a Lovilla phone number and a Hamilton mailing address.
Harry zipped Mr. Blue, the plush bear Aurilia had purchased that first night, into the front pocket of his miniature backpack and Aurilia helped him into the straps, then tugged her own backpack on over her purse straps – a little trick a woman in Berlin had shown her years before, to ward off purse-snatchers. Harry took Aurilia's hand and preceded her down the narrow isle between the seats. He'd gotten to meet the pilot, and was given a little pin of wings that he still wore on his backpack strap.
It took about half an hour to find a car-rental place where Aurilia could rent a car that could be returned to a corresponding agency in Knoxville – another town near where she and Harry would be living, though significantly larger than any of the others mentioned previously. She would be purchasing her own car in Knoxville, before finishing the last leg of their journey to their new home.
Once they had a car squared away, Aurilia and Harry left the airport. "So, kiddo, where do you want to eat?" Aurilia asked while navigating the heavy Des Moines traffic; momentarily marveling at the fact that she was on the proper side of the road for a change.
Harry shrugged, "Dunno. What here?"
Aurilia grinned, "I know you haven't had a really good pizza yet. Why don't we find some?"
Harry brightened. He loved pizza, and if his Mum said he'd not had really good pizza yet, he believed her. "Pizza!" Just then, Harry noticed something odd. "Mum?"
"Whacha need, honey?"
"Why you on the wrong side?"
"Wrong side of what, Harry?"
"It's backwards!" He pointed to the steering wheel.
Aurilia laughed. "No, it's not. This is the right way for the US. We do things differently here." Harry seemed to accept that, and fell silent.
An hour later, they were leaving Pizza Hut. Harry had to agree, it was likely the best pizza he had ever had. Probably the best in the world. With a full belly, he contentedly fell asleep in the drowsy heat of the late May sunlight before Aurilia had even driven a quarter of a mile. He woke up again when the car pulled to a halt at the Ford dealership in Knoxville. "Harry?"
"Come on, luz. It's time to buy our own car. You don't think I would do something that important without your help, do you?"
Harry grinned, showing off a little dimple in his right cheek, and bounced out of the car. "Can we get a blue one?"
"If they have any," Aurilia retrieved her pack from the trunk. Harry was still wearing his.
"Cute kid. Yours?" A voice startled her.
She jumped and whirled around, and saw one of the salesmen standing a few feet behind her. "Sorry, you scared me. Yeah, he's mine."
The salesman smiled, "Didn't mean to frighten you. How old is he?"
"He'll be four at the end of July."
"Ah… To be four again," the salesman said, though he couldn't be much older than Aurilia was. "Playing in the mud, learning how to fish…" He shook his head, "Anyway, how can I help you today?"
Aurilia handed him the keys to the rental, "I need to return this, and buy one of my own."
The salesman checked the tag on the keys, "Des Moines Airport… No problem. We'll take care of this in a minute or two. What sort of car you looking for?"
Aurilia opened her mouth to answer, but Harry beat her to it, "A blue one!"
The salesman leaned down and grinned at Harry, "I'm sure we can find a blue one. What's your name, sport?"
"Harry. What yours?"
Harry held out his hand – the wrong one – and in the tones of one who has been rehearsing the phrase far too many times said, "Pleased to meet you, Mike."
Mike chuckled and shook Harry's hand. "Same here, sport." He straightened and met Aurilia's amused gaze.
"I swear he watches too much telly." Aurilia sighed.
Mike's brow furrowed, "I could have sworn you were local, but -"
Aurilia cut him off, "I've lived in the UK for the better part of four years now, and it was inevitable that some of their terminology was bound to rub off. I'm Aurilia, by the way. Aurilia Westlake."
Mike shook her hand as well, "Mike Thompson. And back to why you're here. Just what sort of vehicle were you looking for?"
Aurilia shook her head, "I'm not too sure… I recently purchased an acreage, and have had a few vague thoughts about horses, but other than that…"
"And you'll no doubt need something for Harry here," he said, ruffling Harry's messy black hair.
Harry scowled and ducked out from under the offending hand. "You're mussing my hair!"
"Sorry, champ," Mike responded, but looked anything but apologetic. He turned back to Aurilia. "So… a pickup?"
Aurilia thought for a moment. "That would probably be my second choice. Do you have anything else similar?"
Mike shrugged, "What about an extended-cab? Seats four comfortably, and has all the benefits of being a truck."
Aurilia sighed, "I just don't want to get a truck until I have a real need for one. I'm not comfortable driving something that big just yet. I've spent the last several years either not driving at all, or tooling about on a Vespa, or in one of those Euro-boxes that are hardly bigger than your average motorcycle."
Mike laughed, "Okay, I can see where the apprehension is coming from. You want something safe, obviously, that isn't too large, but is big enough to haul groceries and other whatnot, right?"
Aurilia brightened and nodded. "Right."
"And blue!" Harry said, reminding the adults that he was still there.
"Of course, sport, we'll make sure it's blue, just for you." Mike motioned for Aurilia and Harry to follow him through the lot. Two hours later, Aurilia pulled their new blue Mustang convertible into their driveway. Though she had intended on getting something more practical, she just couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a convertible; she'd always wanted one.
"We're here, we're here, we're here!" Harry shouted as he undid the seat belt and struggled with the heavy door.
Aurilia laughed at his antics and got out to help him with the door. "Yes, yes. We're here." He raced up the flagstone walkway and stood, nearly bouncing, by the door. She retrieved the key to the front door from the false brick the contractor had placed at the foot of the porch stairs. She unlocked the door and pushed it open to reveal the entrance hall of her new house. Aurilia nodded in satisfaction; the contractors had done a marvelous job so far. The hall was done in a rich golden oak – wall panels, floor, and staircase to the second story. She noticed a note taped to the banister. She picked it up.
As the house was finished ahead of schedule, we didn't turn the power on, nor did we turn on the propane. You will need to do this yourself. To turn the power on, you need to flip the main circuit breaker in the fuse-box, which is located in the utility room off of the kitchen. To turn on the propane for the stove, furnace, and water heater, you will first need to turn the knob on the propane tank fully to the left. I trust you know how to light the stove pilot lights, and the pilot light for the furnace will light automatically when you turn the power on. The pilot for the water heater is the small red button on its front, likewise, you will need the power on first in order to light it. The phone should be up and running, so no worries there. As you requested, there are two cots set up in the living room and the items you asked for are stored in the cupboard over the stove.
Aurilia sighed, but knew that there was little that could be done about it. The house had been completed three months earlier. She understood their caution in turning any of the utilities on. She yawned. Though it was only four in the afternoon, she was about ready for bed. Damn jet-lag. "What's it, Mum?"
Aurilia turned her attention back to Harry. "Nothing much, just a note from the people who built the house for us. It says we have to turn a few things on ourselves. Do you want to help?"
Harry nodded eagerly. "Sure!"
"Come on, then." She lead him to the utility room and picked him up. "See that switch there?" she pointed to the right one. Harry nodded. "I need you to flick it for me. It will turn the electricity on for us." Harry did so, struggling with the stiff circuit breaker. Stepping back into the kitchen, they were rewarded with a hum coming from the open refrigerator. Setting Harry back on the floor, she told him, "Hurry and close the doors on the fridge, honey. We want to make sure it's nice and cold for when we go grocery-shopping tomorrow." He ran across the floor and slammed the doors of the side-by-side shut. "Thanks, kiddo."
"What next?" Harry asked.
"We have to turn the gas on so we can have hot water for baths, then we have to make sure all the pilot lights for the gas are lit."
Aurilia chuckled, "Come on, I'll show you."
They went outside to where the propane tank sat a little ways from the house. Aurilia lifted Harry to sit on the tank. "All the gas we use is stored in here," she banged the metal tank. "Right now, it's trapped inside." She flipped the domed cover off the top of the tank. "To let it out, we have to turn this knob. You want to give it a try?"
Harry nodded and struggled with the knob for several minutes, "Sorry, Mum. Too tight."
"That's okay, honey, let me try." It was indeed very tight. By the time she got it to loosen enough for Harry to finish turning it the rest of the way, she had an imprint of the knob on her hand. She shook her hand and rubbed the palm to restore circulation. "Come on, let's go light the pilots."
His recent plane trip very much in mind, Harry slid off the tank and wondered why they would be lighting up their pilot from the flight, and just how they would be doing so. Going back into the house, they stopped in the utility room where the furnace and water heater were. "See that red button on the front of the water heater?" Harry nodded. "Go ahead and press it." He did so, and there was a faint whooshing hiss, followed by some pinging. Aurilia knew it was evidence that the pilot was lit. A green light on the face of the furnace also told her all was well.
Aurilia grinned at Harry. "Now all we need to do is light the stove, then we can get some sleep."
Harry frowned, "But I'm not tired!"
Aurilia shook her head and led Harry to the kitchen. She lifted Harry up to sit on the counter and then removed the cast-iron burners and cover from the stove. She was relieved to note that Mr. Jonas had left a box of fireplace matches on the counter. She picked up the box and withdrew a long match. She handed it to Harry, "You want to do the honors?" She believed in teaching responsibility, rather than fear, of things like fire, scissors, and knives. It was how she had been raised, and she turned out all right in the end, so why would raising Harry be any different?
Harry nodded eagerly and took the match from his mum. She showed him the patch of sandpaper glued to the side of the box and how to hold the match to keep the wood from breaking. It took him two tries to get it lit. Aurilia then pointed out the two pilot lights for the stove top and Harry grinned an ear-splitting grin when the pilots lit with a little pop of gas. He went to blow out the match, but Aurilia took it from him. "Not just yet, Harry. I have to light the one for the oven, first. He carefully handed her the burning match and watched as his mum pulled out the broiler-tray – though he didn't know that was what it was called – and after a moment there was another faint popping sound. Aurilia blew the match out and got to her feet. She tossed the match into the sink and Harry crawled the few feet along the counter to it and turned the water on. This hadn't been the first time his mum had let him use a match, and he knew that he had to douse it to keep Mr. Blue safe.
Aurilia scooped Harry up and exclaimed, "Perfecto, my little luz! Come on, I think it's time to go to bed. No arguing," she added in a stern tone. "We've had a very long day, and tomorrow's going to be even longer. We have to retrieve our things from the post office, go grocery shopping, and arrange for furniture delivery."
Harry pouted but knew better than to argue with his mum. The duo headed into the living room and Aurilia helped Harry into the pair of pajamas he had stuffed into his backpack. Despite Harry's earlier protestations of not being tired, he was asleep shortly after his head hit the pillow. Once he was safely asleep, Aurilia sighed and got to her feet. She had one last task to attend to before she could bed down for the night.
Now, it should be mentioned that though Aurilia thought of herself as a witch, for the purposes of this tale, she is a muggle. She would not be able to find her way into Diagon Alley unassisted, would not be able to get a wand to do more than lay there and look pretty, and would not be able to see Hogwarts without help. However, there is a lot that sheer simple belief can do, even for those not traditionally magically inclined. One of the many, many things her parents had taught her to do was to set a circle of protection around her home.
Though she had been teaching Harry in the ways of Wicca, her boy would be of little help in what she had to do. What Harry was learning was the Wiccan equivalent of the Christians' Sunday School – mainly the legends of the Goddess and her Horned Lover, when the Sabbats and Esbats were and the more child-friendly of the traditions for those holidays. Not even Aurilia was mad enough to teach a child, barely out of toddler-hood, the real reason for the Beltane bonfires or the symbolism behind a maypole dance. It wasn't that sex and sexuality were anathema in her household, quite the opposite, really, but she did try to keep it age-appropriate. She had explained the difference between boys and girls when she was teaching Harry what his body parts were named – she didn't show him the difference, Goddess bless! She had located a cunning series of books aimed at small children that helped to explain how boys and girls were different and where babies came from.
Aurilia shook herself from her musings and reached into her own backpack and pulled out a little wooden box. The box contained a plastic bag full of sea-salt and a silver goblet she had located at a festival in Wales. She carried the box to the kitchen, setting it on the counter while she opened the cupboard above the stove. Another wooden box, much older and larger than her own, was sitting there. Thank the gods, Uncle Jack came through. 'Uncle' Jack was not really Aurilia's uncle, he had been her mother and father's best friend. Through an uncountable number of international phone calls, he had gone through all of her parents' belongings, packing away those things that Aurilia said she wanted to keep and putting them in storage for her. The box that she withdrew from the cupboard was one of those things. It contained the ritual tools of the Craft that had been handed down her father's family for generations; an athame – or ritual dagger, a boline – a knife with a white handle and a slightly curved blade, a small cast-iron cauldron, an ivory statue of the Mother Goddess – what archaeologists referred to as a 'Venus figurine,' a charcoal-powered incense burner, several candles in various hues, a bundle of packets of herbs that Aurilia remembered helping her mother, an associate professor of botany, set aside the fall before her father died, a thick handwritten tome, and a heavily-embroidered altar cloth that had been made for her mother's father during the second World War by a fellow pagan in Germany.
The woman that had created the altar-cloth had been very old, or so her grandfather had once told her, and blind, though you wouldn't know it from the embroidery. The base material was black silk – her grandfather had been one of the first nighttime paratroopers – and it had soft green vines twining sinuously around the edges. The vines had darker green leaves and pale purple flowers. Her grandfather had also told her that the vine had been used as a symbol of the Goddess for millennia. Every part of the vine had a use; the stem made strong cloth and even stronger cord, yet was as soft to the skin as modern nylon, the flowers could be brewed into a mild sedative much like chamomile, the leaves had the opposite effect and held a rather high amount of caffeine, and the roots were used to see the spirit world – they were hallucinogenic. It was the perfect example of the wisdom of the Gods, covering everything from the mundane world to the medicinal to the magical. Unfortunately, its name had been lost to time, and the plant itself had either died off naturally or been harvested to extinction. Aurilia was pretty sure it was the former, as Wicca and the other Earth-centric religions tended to warn against over-harvesting of anything, be they plants, animals, or other natural resources like coal or native pigments like red ochre.
Within the ring of vines, done in bright yellow and gold, the Wheel of the Year was stitched. It looked rather like a wagon wheel with eight spokes. Along the 'rim' of the wheel, in traditional Theban script, were the names of the Sabbats and Esbats. In the wedge-shaped areas directly under the names of the holidays, pictures of the plants and portrayals of the customs of the holidays were embroidered. For example, the wedge below Yule depicted holly and mistletoe, a merrily burning Yule log, and a startling image of the Crone. The wedge under Beltane showed the precursor to the modern May-basket – a wreath of spring flowers, a maypole dance, and shadowy figures dancing around a bonfire. Close inspection revealed the dancing figures to be skyclad, or nude.
Where the hub on a wagon wheel would be, the altar cloth was embroidered with the interwoven pentacle – a five-pointed star whose lines appear to be woven together from a single strand. The pentacle was done in silver. Aurilia didn't know if it was real silver making up the thread, but she did know that it was the only thread on the entire cloth that was metallic.
Aurilia sadly laid the cloth to one side. It would do no good for her tonight. Instead, she leafed through the packets of herbs, setting aside those she would need. When she was done, she filled her goblet from the tap, lit a white pillar candle, and stripped. In Aurilia's experience, the heart of a home was the kitchen. It was where all her best memories were – long discussions about whatever came to mind with her father, playing cards with her mother, learning how to bake cookies and how to clean a fish. Therefore, she laid her preliminary protections on her and Harry's home in the kitchen.
It took her several hours to finish her task. During that time, she used the water from the well on her own land and the sea-salt to bless the property. A bit of sage burned in the censer all the while. Sage had protective properties, and Aurilia wanted all the protection possible for her Harry; the letter she had found with him had not been forgotten. She strung small bunches of angelica on thread, tying one to each of the house's window and door frames. The salt-blessed-water and the sage were also walked through each room of the house, further purifying and laying protection for her home.
The last thing she did was creep into the living room and carefully cut a lock of hair from her boy. When she returned to the kitchen, she did the same to her own hair and burned them in the censer. According to her beliefs, this would help whatever spirits on her land, as well as the land itself, recognize that she and Harry were the rightful residents. When she had all of her tools available – particularly her paternal great-grandfather's sword – she would be setting the boundary of her land with similar protections. However, that would have to wait until the rest of her and Harry's belongings were retrieved.
Glancing at her watch, and realizing that she needed to reset it to Central time, she noticed that it was nearing midnight. She did some quick calculating. Aurilia had been awake nearly thirty hours. Gratefully, she sank onto her cot after donning her own pajamas, and fell asleep. She knew that Harry would wake her when he got up. He always did.
A/N2: And that's chapter two. Again, I hope everyone liked it and will continue to read.