Charlie sat outside of his house, wondering what he was going to do next. He wasn’t sure if this was right, with him having to deal with Manfred and the results from that night.
And there was also the painful fact that he could have lost his parents. But Charlie didn’t want to think about that right now.
Benjamin Brown saw him and said, “What’s going on, Charlie?”
Charlie said to him, “Things have gotten really bad since last night.”
“Did you succeed?” Benjamin asked.
“Why does it feel like I lost?” Charlie asked him.
“Whatever do you mean?” said Benjamin.
Charlie then told him about the red tree, the strange Evans children, and the fight with Harry Potter. At that, Benjamin said to him, “Well, I bet that it must have irked you to have to face that kid. He must sound like a jerkface.”
“He is a jerkface!” Charlie snapped back. “I mean, just because he vanquished some evil wizard when he was a kid doesn’t make him great at all! Who did he think he was, anyway?”
Benjamin said, “What a loser. I bet that he’ll be sent to an institution for the criminally insane soon.”
“If he gets caught,” said Charlie. “Right now, I bet that he’s on the run somewhere, as the mayor put a huge bounty on his head and alerted the entire community to what had happened at Bloor‘s Academy.”
“So, do you have school?” Benjamin asked.
“I’m not sure,” said Charlie. “And with any kind of luck, I hope we never go back there. That place is nothing if filled with misery and pain.”
“Speaking of which, I heard that the Looms and the Brankos have moved away from here, as have so many other families and other people,” said Benjamin. “I guess that things around here have gotten way to weird for them to deal with.”
Charlie said, “Well, looks like the less evil endowed I have to deal with, the better.”
“But there’s still your aunts,” said Benjamin.
“Good point,” said Charlie. Changing the subject, he said, “So, where are your parents?”
“The police asked them to help investigate what happened in your school,” said Benjamin. “Many of the people who knew that guy were arrested, but they’re not talking at all. Plus, they’re looking for Miss Something-Or-Other, so they can’t be too bothered with other distractions right now.”
Charlie nodded; Benjamin’s parents were private detectives and they often worked long hours, leaving Benjamin by himself at their home. Sometimes, Charlie would come over Benjamin’s house to keep him company.
Benjamin said, “Can I come in, or is Manfred here?”
“Manfred won’t hurt anyone; he’s too busy sulking,” Charlie said hastily. “But we need to be careful. My parents are here and dad’s still trying to recover from what had happened to him years ago. I don’t know if he’ll recover his memories.”
“Maybe he will, and maybe he won’t,” said Benjamin. “The important thing to remember is that while you may not get your old memories of your father back, you can still create some new memories.”
“Yeah,” Charlie agreed as both boys walked inside Charlie’s house.
Jason returned to his apartment and was greeted by his children 11-year-old Joseph, 10-year-old Fiona, 8-year-old Madeline, and 5-year-old Maxwell. All four children were slowly recovering from their mother’s death when the taxi she was riding in crashed into a freight train a few weeks earlier that month.
Jason sighed as he took note of the 13-year-old girl sitting by the window. The girl was none other than Jacquel Romanov, who had turned on Harry Potter after being freed by Charlie Bone and his friends. Her brown hair was braided carefully and she was still wearing the same clothes that she was wearing yesterday.
Jason said to the kids, “I know that we’ve fallen on hard times since your mother’s death, but not to worry, I have some better news for all of you.” Everyone stared at him. “I have decided to marry again.”
At once, there was a collective “WHAT???” and then a large protest regarding Jason’s second marriage. Jacquel stared out of the window, frowning at the rather unwise decision that Jason was making when he chose to remarry one month after his wife’s death. Something isn’t right in this situation, she mused, and I don’t know why. I need to figure out how and why this is happening.
She clutched a stuffed blue unicorn, since her pet had vanished during the melee that followed the murder of the Bloor family and the ransacking of the school just hours earlier. Many people were arrested, and Jacquel was lucky enough to escape before she was recaptured.
Jacquel recalled hiding out at the apartment and the curious questions that the neighbors posed about her as she went door-to-door, asking for a safe place to hide. She finally came upon the Rutherford home, which felt ironic because she had vowed to never run and hide like a coward.
Trichenbergs are not cowards, Nichollo’s words were drilled into her head. Jacquel imagined her old guardian berating her for running away. We don’t run away and hide; we face whatever is coming at us head on.
She sighed and climbed from her seat and went straight to the kitchen. There was takeout on the table and the kids were eating silently. This could not be the way that she had envisioned her escape at all.
Jason looked at her and said, “Well, since you’re here, I might as well tell you the truth.”
“The truth about what?” Jacquel frowned. She seemed to frown a lot these days.
“Why I’m getting married,” said Jason.
“Ok, now where are you going with this?” Jacquel snapped at him angrily.
“My wife is dead and I can’t raise my children all by my onesie,” said Jason. “Plus, the daughter of my old friend shows up out of the blue and I need to figure out what to do with her.”
“So you’re getting married just for the money?” Jacquel said disapprovingly.
“I had to marry someone who was rich or my aunt would disinherit me,” said Jason. “She never did like Faryn and begged me to divorce her shortly after Joseph was born. But I refused, and for the next few years, she and I were at odds.”
“I wouldn’t put it past your aunt to have arranged that accident so that your wife died and with her out of the way, you could marry someone that she approved of,” said Jacquel.
“Indeed,” said Jason. “And my aunt saw fit to find Venetia Yewbeam. She never did like the Yewbeams, as they did her a great disservice years ago. But enough about that. We have much to discuss.”
“Like what?” Jacquel said.
“We need to figure out your new name and change your appearance,” said Jason. “Someone is looking for you, and they won’t rest until you’re back with that Dumbledore guy. I don’t know why he insisted on keeping you when he killed your family.”
“I could come up with a name easily enough,” said Jacquel. “Mayhaps I could call myself Irene? After my mother?”
“Not Irene,” said Jason. “Too obvious. Maybe we could call you Katelyn.”
“Katelyn?” Jacquel frowned again. “After who?”
“How should I know?” said Jason. “But I know of some people who are in dire need. The Yewbeams are helping them. The woman has expressed a desire to have a child, but because of her age, a pregnancy would not be advisable. So we will claim that you are an orphan and needing a family. Maybe that will work out for you.”
“Well,” Jacquel said suspiciously, “that could work. After all, I had been raised by an uncle for many years, so maybe a parent would be nice.”
“I hoped that you would agree to that,” said Jason. “So tomorrow, I shall take you to my aunt and she could fix you up. She’s a great make-up artist and she’ll have you looking the part in no time flat. Then you’ll be introduced to your new parents. After I am married, the school will be opened up and…”
“You mean you’re going to re-open Bloor’s Academy?” Jacquel asked. Everyone stared at her. “I was wondering, since there were two murders committed there, wouldn’t they want to shut down the school for good?”
“Maybe,” said Jason, “but remember that the school is a part of the town. It would be such a travesty to know that the school had to be shut down for such a morbid reason as murder. But the school will be reopened, and under new management.”
“So, you’re taking over the school?” Jacquel said.
“I’m going to be the new headmaster and I have some plans for the school,” said Jason. “There won’t be any problems when I get through with restarting the school.”
Jacquel nodded, wondering what she was getting herself into. It was one thing to change her name and appearance, but someone could still find her no matter who she called herself. She needed to completely change her entire life as well.
Nichollo won’t approve of this, she mused, and he certainly didn’t approve of my attending the Hundred Heads’ Ball either. But how do I go about creating a new life for myself without having anyone finding out about who I really am?
For once in her life, Jacquel Romanov didn’t know what to do with herself.
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