"A witch," she said aloud rather slowly. Her eyes narrowed as she kept her grey eyes locked on the portly man. The man nodded her head, his eyes watching her carefully.
She eyed him carefully as she tried to assess what in the world was going on. Kirsten always knew she was different. But somebody telling her she was a witch – or the fact that witches and wizards even existed – was ridiculous. However, weird things have happened around Kirsten for as long as she could remember. Nothing seemed to make sense to her whenever something odd would happen.
And this wasn't the first time she saw someone dressed in a cloak.
Kirsten Carlisle decided to do something she never thought to do.
"Care to explain?"
The thirteen year old found herself seated in a comfortable armchair in a small parlor of the pub. A fire burned brightly in a grate illuminating the handsome pieces of furniture that adorned the room. She found herself observing the portly man; who was taking off his lime green bowler hat and his pinstriped cloak, revealing a bottle green suit. He seated himself opposite from Kirsten, in another armchair.
"Who are you?" she asked curiously. This day was getting stranger and stranger by the minute. What happened at the orphanage, the man and the dog, the odd bus, Harry, and now a man claiming that witches and wizards exist.
"Yes, yes, I apologize for not introducing myself," he said quickly. "I am Cornelius Fudge. The Minister of Magic."
Her eyes narrowed in comprehension as she continued to stare at him.
"So, you're like the Prime Minister….But for the magical people here?" she asked, and he nodded as a response. "So none of this is a joke."
"Not a joke at all," he said sternly. This time she saw his anxious and uncomfortable demeanor ebb away. "I am the Minister of the Ministry of Magic, which in comparison to the Muggle world is the government of the Magical community of Britain. The ministry is branched out into departments as well. For example, the Department of Magical Law Enforcement –"
"Can you show me some magic?" she cut him off, folding her legs onto the chair. If the man didn't like her feet on the armchair, he didn't show it.
He seemed a little startled that she cut him off. Nonetheless, he reached for something in his pantsuit and Kirsten had to hold in her laughter.
It was a wand.
The amused look was wiped off her face, however, when he muttered something and waved the stick. In the next instant, a tray full of treats and two steaming mugs of tea appeared before her on the table that separated the two armchairs. She couldn't help but let her jaw drop at the sight. If she had any doubts about witches and wizards, those flew out the window as she stared at the tray.
"Okay… so we really are witches and wizards," the black haired teenager stated. He nodded his head in response. Most of the things were beginning to make sense to her now. Like what happened back at the orphanage, or those times when she would somehow get away from danger. How she survived the incident on the field trip. But one factor cause Kirsten's brow to furrow in confusion as this processed through her brain.
"Why am I only figuring this out now?" she asked, more to herself than to Fudge. Sure she had been living in an orphanage for her entire life but she should have been smart enough to put all these things together.
She remembered seeing oddly dressed people in London whenever Ms. DuPont took some kids into London. Her memory took her back to when she was around five and she met an elderly woman that she would never forget. Her eyes were the same shade of grey as hers, as was the color of her hair and she asked her the oddest questions… and she remembered seeing her stop by the orphanage the day after, arguing with Madame DuPont –
"I'm curious to know why as well," Fudge said, breaking her away from her thoughts. He handed her one of the steaming cups of tea. Looking at the man, Kirsten caught Fudge staring at her in a way that made her feel as if she was the suspect of an interrogation.
She definitely knew what that felt like with the amount of times she was questioned by DuPont, but Kirsten caught something in his tone and look. The way he said it, the way he was staring at her. As though he thought, for a second, that Kirsten knew she was a witch. All that seemed to vanish as he continued, "It seems that is going to be the mystery that will need to be solved very soon."
"What do you mean?"
"The Trace, Kirsten," he said. Both of Kirsten's eyebrows shot up in confusion. Before she can open up her mouth and ask, "what the hell is the Trace?" he began to explain.
"So…if there's this Trace on all underage wizards and witches, why couldn't you detect me?" she asked, trying to see if she pieced the information together correctly. A sigh escaped the Minister's lips as he looked down at his folded hands and he lifts his eyes to meet Kirsten's once again.
"For some reason, when you went missing—"
"Missing? When was I missing? I've been an orphan since I was a baby."
"Until now," Fudge said. His eyes narrowed as something registered in his head. "An orphan? Who have you been staying with?"
"I've been at Blake Orphanage since I was two, I think, according to Madame DuPont," Kirsten said, trying to recall the years she had been living there.
"And where is this Blake Orphanage, Kirsten?"
"It's just outside of London. In the Southeast region of England," she said. Fudge's brow furrowed considerably as he stared at her.
"Who was the matron, if I may ask?"
"Madame DuPont," she replied.
"And how exactly did you end up at the orphanage?" he continued his question. Kirsten gave the man a dead look.
"I was two," she told him, then frowned as she remembered what Madame told her. "Madame said that a woman found me wandering in the neighborhood on Halloween night. I was crying and she heard me."
"So this woman did not have a name?"
"Not that I can remember," she said dryly. "Remember, that I was only two. I couldn't remember a thing."
The man was about to open his mouth to ask another question, but Kirsten was tired of it already. And she had a few questions of her own.
"I don't understand this whole missing nonsense," Kirsten said. "Why was I missing? Are my parents alive or … how do you know that I'm the girl you've been looking for anyway?"
Nothing was making sense to Kirsten at the moment. She understood that she was a witch. That would explain why she was able to do what she couldn't explain. But how did this man take one look at her, and come up with the conclusion that she was the girl who was missing.
"I am certain that you are her, Kirsten," the minister said, his eyes looking over her once again. "I will report to the ministry as soon as we are done here, see if you still have the Trace, and have a team investigate the orphanage immediately."
He was avoiding her question.
The thirteen year old frowned at the old man, wondering why he didn't want to answer her question upfront.
"Are you not going to answer my question?" she asked, eyes narrowing at the man. She could see the difference in his demeanor right away as she caught his eye. She didn't miss the look of unease that was etched across Fudge's face. From the way he shuffled uncomfortably in his seat to the way he was currently looking at her. A glint in his eyes that she knew well from her earlier years in the orphanage.
If she didn't know any better, she thought that Fudge was somewhat fearful of her in a way.
"Well, Kirsten… it's quite complicated and I feel as if it is not the right time to explain –"
"I didn't know explanations were difficult at all. It would just save a lot of time if you told everything to me, instead of keeping me in the dark," Kirsten interrupted him. She was getting tired of Fudge's secrecy and it was annoying her. "Forget I asked."
Relief replaced the anxious expression on Fudge's face.
"So, when I was missing wouldn't you still have found me because of the Trace?" she asked. The minister sighed at her question.
"Yes, we would have immediately tracked you down if you were to perform any magic and many young underage children do perform magic," he replied. "I will have to stop by the ministry to go and check on the department first thing tonight."
"But what if I'm not her? I wouldn't be registered then would I? And if I am, how could you have found me either way?"
"No matter where you would be located in Britain, we would be able to detect your magic. It would have been difficult to find you but eventually you would have been found," he said in a matter of fact tone. "And you most likely are the Kirsten that has been missing. I'm certain. We have been trying to look for you for years."
"If you were ever looking," Kirsten muttered.
"As a matter of fact, young lady, we were looking everywhere for you," he said, raising his voice slightly; his face turning a bit pink. "Dumbledore was part of the search himself but after several years we assumed you had died."
Kirsten's brow furrowed in confusion at the Minister's words.
Fudge shot her a look of disbelief her way before he shook his head and a small smile appeared on his face.
"I'm sorry. I forget that you are new to this," he apologized, clearing his throat. "Albus Dumbledore is the Headmaster of Hogwarts. Very powerful wizard indeed. And I should notify him immediately. Excuse me."
Fudge pulled out his wand once again and with a flick, a thick piece of paper, an envelope, a feather, and jar of some black liquid appeared. Kirsten tried to take a closer look at what he was writing but before she could see a thing, he folded it and placed the thick paper into the envelope. The man walked toward the fireplace after grabbing a handful of some sort of powder and threw it in the fireplace.
"Dumbledore's office!" Fudge said. Her eyes widened as the flames became an emerald green color and he threw the piece of paper into the fire.
No words escaped from Kirsten's lips and the Minister caught the look of shock on her face.
"Floo powder," he said. "Much quicker to send the message along than an owl can for this case."
Owl? Did she hear him right?
"What exactly happened to you?" Fudge asked, gesturing towards his face. With the numerous things running through her head, Kirsten forgot that her eye was possibly black by now, and scabs probably formed over the shallow cuts on her face. She softly prodded at the large cut that was on her cheek and felt it scabbed over.
"Got into a bit of a fight," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "with this girl back at Blake. It's honestly nothing."
The Minister of Magic nodded his head and pulled out his pocket watch, glancing her way before putting it back.
"Well, Kirsten, Tom has prepared a room for you. Any questions that you have, I trust Tom can answer. I'll have Tom give you ointment for those injuries, and Dawlish will come by and escort you to Muggle London for whatever else you need. I'd rather not take you to the Ministry because that would, well…start an uproar.
"I'm glad that you are alive and we know that you're safe… however, there is a lot of work to be done now that you're found," he said, pulling on his cloak. He looked at her and smiled. "Good night, Kirsten."
"Do you mind telling me who my parents are?" Kirsten asked, before the man had the chance to leave.
The reaction wasn't what she expected as the Fudge looked back at her with a rather anxious expression, shifting from one foot to the other.
"You're mother passed away almost twelve years ago, but she was an excellent witch," he told her.
"And what about my father?" she asked curious this time about the Fudge's response. If he wasn't nervous before, then he was now. His eyes darted from Kirsten's eyes to the fireplace and he consulted his pocket watch once again.
"There isn't much time for an explanation and I must really be heading off to the Ministry and get things sorted out. Tom will help get you situated," he said quickly, shaking her hand and averting her eyes as much as possible. "Goodnight, Kirsten."
And with that, Fudge disappeared beyond the door where she heard him muttering with whom she thought was Tom. Several seconds passed until the man named Tom entered the room. The balding brown haired man gave her a smile and she returned the kind gesture with a small grin of her own.
"Hello, Mister…" she trailed off, realizing that she didn't know what to call him.
"You can just call me Tom, Miss Carlisle."
"Then you can call me Kirsten."
Nodding his head to the small agreement, he guided Kirsten out of the small private parlor and up a handsome wooden staircase. They both walked down a hallway until Tom stopped in front of a door with a brass number twelve on it which he unlocked and swung the door open for her.
"I suppose you're hungry so I'll bring you some food in a moment and something for your injuries. If you want to clean up, the bathroom is the other door inside," he informed the young witch, heading down the hallway and down the stairs.
At the mention of food, Kirsten's stomach growled but her stomach didn't matter to her at the moment as she walked in the room. Her eyes wandered in fascination at the highly polished oak furniture and the welcoming fire crackling in the fireplace. Her eyes traveled to the large four poster bed and a rush of excitement ran through her mind.
Kirsten walked closer to her bed to get a better look at the inviting sheets, and almost climbed onto the bed until she remembered that she needed to shower. Turning her head around, she spotted another door Tom mentioned that led to the bathroom. She entered the bathroom and glanced at the mirror to see her reflection stare back.
"Okay," Kirsten said slowly, pulling off the hairband and running a hand through her hair to only have it caught in a knot. "Dirty is an understatement."
Pulling out her hand out of her black knotted hair, Kirsten noticed that there were all the necessities she needed in the bathroom and dropped her bag on the floor. In around ten minutes, she exited the bathroom dressed in the sweatpants and the shirt that she packed in her bag. The knock on the door startled her a bit and she walked towards the door. Opening the door, she saw a large tray of food and a small jar with a couple of swabs, while a large cup was balanced in the air in front of Tom; his wand directing the floating objects. Kirsten's jaw dropped once again at the magic being performed in front of her. The tray floated passed her and settled on top of the bedside table. A prickling sensation on the back of her neck made her aware of a pair of eyes on her. She glanced back to see an amused look on the landlord's face.
"Will I be able to do that?" she asked him.
"Of course, you will," he replied. "Should I apply the ointment?"
"No thanks, Tom," she said, smiling. "I can definitely handle that."
"If there's anything more that you'll need, don't hesitate to call. You can leave your tray here when you are finished. Goodnight, Kirsten."
"Night, Tom," she said, closing the door. Kirsten headed towards the nightstand and picked up the jar and a cotton swab. She was about to apply it in front of a mirror settled over a dresser, but went into the bathroom instead. Kirsten looked at herself in the mirror, thankful she was able to take a shower. Pulling her long black curly hair into a ponytail, she was able to apply the ointment to the black eye and the cut on her cheek. She sighed in relief at the cool sensation on her injuries. It was already feeling considerably better. She smiled at her reflection, looking at the way her grey eyes narrowed. Kirsten couldn't wait to see how fast her bruised eye would turn back to its natural shade of brown with the help of the ointment.
It was amazing how content Kirsten felt at the moment.
Exiting the bathroom, Kirsten ran and jumped onto the bed; laughing as she landed on it. She pulled back the covers and grabbed the tray of food and placed it on the bed. Carefully, she got under the covers and brought the tray closer. Taking a sip of the liquid in the cup, the young witch frowned slightly at the strange but tasty flavor. It wasn't bad…it just tasted odd.
Thoughts of Kirsten's entire day whirled in around her mind as she ate her meal. From the moment Victoria was magically thrown back to the wall behind her to the strange dog and man to the Knight Bus to the moment the Minister of Magic stated that she was a witch.
Finishing her meal, Kirsten got out of the bed and set the tray on the bedside table and grabbed her bag. She made sure that the switchblade was secured in the bag along with the other items but something else caught her eye. Pulling it out, she recognized the folded paper to be the newspaper that she grabbed from Alec on the way out of the pub.
BLACK IS STILL ON THE LOOSE AND DANGEROUS
She curiously read the header over again, remembering what DuPont's cousin said. Black was the man who escaped from a high security prison up north, as if it wasn't unnerving to know the madman was armed too. Unfolding the paper, Kirsten's eyes narrowed in confusion as she looked at the picture of the man. Black hair framed his gaunt face with his light colored eyes staring right at her.
"I know I've seen you…but w—" she stopped, breathing in deeply as she suddenly recognized who this man was. "Oh…my…God…"
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