Chapter 1 : The angels weep
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(A/N: This story contains a lot of scenes of a sensitive nature due to the nature of the story. I’ve ‘growed-up’ Roxanne to ten years older than she would have been at this time, making the events of the Battle of Hogwarts and the events of HP to ten years before they happened. I hope this doesn’t confuse anyone.)
Tuesday, Sept 11, 2001
Hogwarts, Scotland, 09:30am
The large group of second years poured into the Muggle studies classroom as the sixth years were leaving. It was quite daunting having to brush shoulders with older students and Roxanne caught Teddy Lupin’s gaze, he was one of the few sixth years that had decided to go on with the course, he winked at her and embarrassed by that, Roxanne quickly ducked her head and she found her best friend’s hand as they tried to inconspicuously find a seat where they could not be noticed.
Once the class had settled, their professor quickly erased the board and faced her class with a large smile. “Goodmorning class,” she said brightly, “as you may all remember, last week, I said we were all going to do something fun this week!” she turned to write the topic on the board.
While her back was turned, Afia nudged Roxanne, “What do you think she’s up to this time?”
Roxanne shrugged. Professor Minnie Mitchell was not your conventional Hogwarts professor, first off, she did not wear the usual black robes all the professors wore, instead, she wore this multicoloured cloak, brown boots and had her hair dyed bright orange. This had been her second year as a professor at Hogwarts and Roxanne remembered the previous year when her uncle Ron was talking about the outrage at the Ministry when they heard that for the first time in Hogwarts history, a muggle had been asked to come and teach Muggle Studies, some pureblood parents even had their children stop taking her classes.
“Okay!” Professor Mitchell said as she turned to face her class once more, “you can now read what I have written!”
Roxanne felt the corners of her mouth curl upwards as she read what was written in the board: “TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY”. There were gasps and sighs from the rest of the class as they read what had been written.
“Yes, I talked Professor McGonagall about the trip and she gave us the okay, your parents were informed as well and luckily, all of them consented,” Mitchell said, “but there is a catch.”
“Huh?” Afia whispered.
“Well,” Mitchell continued, “we have been given the opportunity to go out to this city and study their everyday muggle lives for a day. But since there are so many of you, we can’t go all at once, so it was decided that one group goes today and another goes after the Halloween ball.”
“But that’s next month!” Gabriel Nott protested.
“It’s all I could afford to ask for; I’m already cutting into your lesson time for other subjects by taking you.”
“So how are you going to choose?” Nott asked.
“Just wait and see,” she replied as she ducked under the desk and pulled out a large ball with tiny little balls in it.
“Yeah, um, what is that?” Nott asked.
“We are going to do something like a lottery.” Mitchell explained, “In this ball are 40 balls, 20 have the number one on them and the other 20 have the number two on them. There are thirty eight of you here so each one will have a fair chance of going today, those that get the number two are going to have to go after Halloween. Now, in a straight file, I would like you all to come and each get a ball.” They all went and picked a ball each and returned to their seats. “Now, look at the number on your balls.”
Roxanne looked down and beamed at the sight of the number one in her hands, looking to her left, she saw a downcast Afia holding a number 2.
“It’s okay,” Roxanne whispered.
“Yeah, I guess,” Afia said sullenly, “it’s just that, I really wanted to go today, all those who go today will come back talking about it and I’ll have to wait a whole month and a half to go.”
Roxanne sighed, she knew she was going to regret this but she went on with it anyway, “Here, switch with me.” she whispered.
“But-” Afia started to protest but was cut off.
“But shut up and give me your ball, Mitchell won’t notice, anyway, she’s still taking names at the first row.”
Afia sighed and made the exchange with Roxanne, “Thanks.” She smiled.
“What are friends for?” Roxanne replied.
After Professor Mitchell had gone round the class and taken the names of all those that had the number one on their balls, she looked up and said, “Alright, I will go and give these to professor McGonagall, and we soon will be good to go.”
“How soon is soon?” Nott, who had taken the number one, asked. “And how are we going to get there?”
“We will be using the Floo network from the headmistress’ office.” Came the reply, “We should be able to leave in about two hours Mr. Nott, now be patient.”
Manhattan, New York, 05:30 am
Maria Shannon looked at her bedside watch; it was not even six yet. She slowly got out of bed and looked out of her window, she could see a few cars on her street, and a girl jogged past, but that was it. Anyway, it’s not like anyone would be awake at that time in her neighbourhood, those were the luxuries that came with being rich. There was no reason to wake up at ungodly hours to do whatever, as it was always done for you and besides, the important things in the world of a woman like Maria were lunch dates with the girls from the book club, shopping and throwing benefits for charities she only just got introduced to yesterday.
But today was different, today Maria Shannon was going to make the most important decision of her life. The negotiations had been going on for some time now and today was the day that Shannon Construction Company was going to merge with a Chinese construction company of the same magnitude and together, Maria knew that the company to be formed would become a world super power. She herself had gone to none of the previous meetings and had her son delegate for her, and today, she was finally going to meet Mr. Chung. Normally, Maria was never nervous about business deals but this was a big merger, besides, what would Mr. Chung think of a fifty eight year old woman who only just took over the company from her late husband? Truth be told, even though she was a talented business woman with an eye for economic trends, Maria Shannon had no formal education in that field. Just a simple waitress who got married to a rich man, Maria was much unlearned, but she would never let anyone know that.
She slowly made her way downstairs to the kitchen and found Philip at the kitchen table. He must have stayed the night here as this was closer to work than his home in New Jersey.
“Oh, good morning mother,” Philip replied, “I decided to spend the night, but don’t worry, I called Greta, she knows I’m here.”
“Philip, what are you doing up so early?” she asked.
“I’ve been thinking mother,” Philip replied.
“Well, about the big merger this morning.”
“Are you having second thoughts?” Maria asked.
Philip shook his head, “Mother, I was thinking, what if I went there instead of you? Not to offend you mother but I think they will be more comfortable dealing with someone they’ve already met.”
“I see,” Maria observed, “then why don’t we do this together?”
“Mother, you have to trust me on this one. I have noticed that you have been quite nervous about this deal and we can’t afford to have any mistakes.”
Philip reached for her hands, “You are the strongest, most confident woman I ever knew, but we both know that I will have to take over the company one day. And if you don’t trust me to make decisions like this now, when will you ever trust me?”
Maria nodded, it was true, she was growing old and sooner or later, Philip was going to be left to run the company on his own. In all honesty, he had been running the company for quite some time now, and this was his time to prove himself, with a sigh, she said, “Okay, you can go.”
Philip smiled and planted a kiss on his mother’s cheek, “Thanks mother.” He whispered.
Harlem, New York, 05:50 am
Behrooz Ali fidgeted in his bed as he heard the usual shuffling around the house that came around this time. It was his father preparing for work, the postal company he worked for demanded he show up by seven and since it was all the way on the other side of town, his father always had to get up this early. Being the hyper-active seven year old he was, he quickly jumped out of bed and crept out of his room. Making sure he was not seen, he tip-toed behind his father until just the right moment before finally pouncing on him.
“Oh! Who’s this little monster?” Syed mock-growled as he playfully rolled his son on the floor and tickled him.
Behrooz was in a fit of laughter when his mother emerged from their bedroom door. “Behrooz, now what did I tell you about bothering father when he is preparing for work?” she asked sternly.
“Oh come on Amira, let’s live a little!” Syed laughed as he slung his son over his shoulder.
“I just don’t want you getting late,” Amira replied, “its bad enough that your new boss doesn’t like you already.”
Syed smiled as he handed Behrooz over to his mother, “Okay,” he said, “here you go, he’s all yours.”
Amira smiled lovingly at her husband as he disappeared into the bathroom. The Ali’s had moved to New York from England about ten years ago when they first got married, in the beginning, it was difficult for them because Syed had no permanent job and had to do various odd jobs for them to survive. But five years ago, he managed to land himself a job at a postal service company and as the years went by, he was promoted to assistant manager and was making enough money to support his family. Amira had started giving violin lessons to children and was also making some extra money so if truth was told, the Ali’s were quite a happy family, and despite the occasional minor setbacks, they always managed to pull through.
Amira lifted Behrooz so he was face to face with her, “You, young man have to go back to bed. We don’t want you dozing in class again today do we?”
“But mom!” Behrooz protested.
“But nothing! Go! Now!” she said as she playfully slapped his bottom as he scurried to his room.
Once in his room, Behrooz got his plane models and started to fly them around. He had always adored pilots and wanted to be one himself, so pretending he was flying a large plane across the Atlantic ocean, he zoomed across the room making a very loud buzzing noise and it was not long before his mother’s head poked through the door.
“Behrooz Ali!” she yell-whispered.
“Bed! Now!” she said as she air-lifted him into his bed, “you’ll thank me for this one day,” she said silently.
“Mother,” Behrooz called.
“Do you think I can be a pilot?”
“Behrooz darling, you can be anything you want to be.”
Behrooz smiled as he planted a kiss on his mother’s cheek, she got up and closed the door behind her.
4 HOURS LATER
Roxanne slowly walked out of the library, she had not bothered to go for lunch since Afia had left about two hours ago and because classes had been cancelled for the second years, Roxanne decided to go to the owlery to see if she had mail. On her way to the owlery, she was stopped by a loud gasp from one of the portraits; they always conversed among themselves but never this loud. Slowing her pace, she inched towards them so as to get a clear shot at what they were saying.
“............ and I heard that that muggle Professor had taken them there, today of all days.” One of the men was saying.
“I always knew it was a terrible idea on the school’s part to bring that teacher here,” another with a deep gruff voice said, “She was nothing but trouble!”
“Don’t say that Anton,” a woman interjected, “who could have seen it coming?”
Who could have seen what coming? Roxanne wondered, changing her route, she quickly made her way to the Gryffindor common room, if anyone was going to know something about this whole thing, it was the Fat Lady.
The Fat Lady was dabbing away some tears by the time Roxanne got there, “Oh, you’re here!” she said gratefully as she saw Roxanne.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh, you poor things,” the Fat Lady said, and without asking for the password, she swung open and let her in.
The common room was fuller than usual and everyone was huddled in silence, some people were crying and Roxanne tentatively walked across the room. At her sight, Molly and Victoire ran up to her and engulfed her in hugs and sighs of relief.
“What’s happening?” Roxanne was beginning to get that panicky feeling she got when she knew that something was terribly wrong.
“You didn’t go, oh Merlin you’re alright!” Molly was saying.
“They are dead, all of them,” Victoire said in a hushed tone, her voice sounding like she was going to cry any moment, “the building, the American ministry...........New York....... the second years.” Her words did not make any sense but they all came together perfectly in Roxanne’s head. She felt her legs slowly turn to jelly as she sank to the floor and curled up in the foetal position right there.
“Roxy, are you okay?” she heard a far away voice ask her.
Roxanne felt like she was drowning, her chest became tighter and tighter until a blood curdling scream escaped her mouth. Afia was gone, she was never coming back, and it was all her fault.
“Your breakfast is ready ma’am,” Clara, the house maid said to Maria as she eased the trolley into her room.
“Just set it down there, will you?” Maria replied as she got out of her covers. After her talk with Philip earlier in the morning, she had gone back to bed, but sleep had not come to her at all as she spent the whole time wondering whether she had made the right choice to go through with this deal and whether it was wise to let Philip go on his own.
“Turn on the TV Clara,” she said, the middle aged Jamaican woman going to flick the screen on, “Thankyou,” she said as Clara left the room.
Maria glanced at her watch, it was quarter to nine, the documentary she was watching was instantly interrupted when she saw a reporter saying something about urgent message. The camera switched to the world trade centre building, one of them was on fire, the reporter saying something about investigations suggesting that the plane lost control and rammed into the building, there were people screaming everywhere and Maria dropped the remote and started to look for her diary hastily. In there, she heaved a sigh of relief when she read that the meeting scheduled with the Chinese company was in the South Tower. The reporter said the north tower was the one hit so that meant that Philip was alright wasn’t he? Maria instinctively reached for her rosary at her neck and started to pray silently, something she had not done in years. Philip is okay, Philip is okay it played in her head like a mantra. A loud whooshing noise woke her from her mantra as she looked at the screen to see what it was. Like everything was in slow motion, Maria looked in horror as a second plane dove through the sky and buried its nose right in the centre of the South Tower, the place Philip was in, she looked at the page with the appointment on it, it read:
September 11th, 2001
Meeting with Chung Construction Co
South Tower, 15th floor
Everything else was fuzzy in Maria’s mind, she tore out the piece of paper and held on to it like it was the last thing that kept her harnessed to sanity. Somewhere on the TV, some reporter was saying it had been confirmed that it was a terrorist attack and that damage control was being sent into the building. The room around Maria was spinning, she held on to the breakfast trolley Clara had brought in and tried to use it for support, the breathing got difficult and she could feel her heart pounding in her head as she struggled to walk to the door and call Clara for help, the wheels on the trolley had her lose her balance and the last thing Maria remembered seeing was the bejewelled ceiling fan before everything went black.
“Okay everybody turn your books to page 71,” Miss Gonzales said to the class of second graders in front of her.
Behrooz smiled as he turned the pages to where his teacher had told him. He liked Miss Gonzales and he liked doing things that pleased her. To him, she was the nicest teacher in the world, she had the prettiest smile and her dark hair which came up to her shoulders reminded him of his mother. She always gave him gold stars and his always seemed to shine brighter than all his friends’.
“Okay, so who can tell me how many times three can go into nine?”
Behrooz’s hand was the first to shoot up.
“Yes Behrooz?” she asked kindly.
“Three,” he said confidently. Behrooz was naturally good at maths and he loved looking over his father’s shoulder when he would be calculating their bills.
“Very good,” she said, “now, would anyone else tell me how many times three can be multiplied to make nine?”
No one raise their hands.
“I don’t know,” Dennis Sutherland replied when Miss Gonzales looked at him for an answer.
“How about you Mandy?” she asked.
Mandy Clark shook her head violently, causing her tiny blonde curls to bob up and down.
“Keyana?” Miss Gonzales asked, Keyana simply shrugged.
Behrooz shrugged and shook his head, this one was really tricky. Miss Gonzales smiled kindly, and went on to explain the connection between multiplication and division when Mrs Byrne, the teacher of the other second grade class walked in. She hastily said something in a hushed tone to Miss Gonzales and with one wary look at Behrooz, which he couldn’t understand, she left the classroom.
“Okay class, copy the questions on page 72 into your workbooks, I’ll be right back,” Miss Gonzales said, “Keyana, you be the class monitor while I’m gone.” And with that, she left.
Behrooz turned the page of his book as Keyana strutted to the front of the class and sat in Miss Gonzales’ chair.
A few minutes later, Miss Gonzales came back to the classroom, she looked really worried, “Okay, children, today we are going to leave school early, your parents have been called and they will be waiting for you at your school bus stations, now in a straight line, please head to the car park.”
Behrooz packed his bag and walked behind Ming Lee. He, Ming and Keyana all lived in the same neighbourhood and so were all good friends. The hallways were filled with students and it was not easy for a small boy to make his way out of there. Once they were outside, Behrooz saw that all the big yellow buses had been lined up back to back waiting for students to get on.
“Trash!” Behrooz heard someone hiss as he walked towards the bus.
“Oh look, my mom’s here!” Keyana said as she pointed to a tiny green car, “would you like a ride?”
Behrooz shook his head, “No, I’m sure my father will be waiting for me at the station, thanks anyway.”
Keyana smiled and waved as she jogged towards her mother’s car, Behrooz stood waited in line and before he went back into the bus, Keyana was back.
“My ma said your mom asked if she could pick you up as well, she says your dad was stuck at work,” she said smiling.
Behrooz nodded and quickly waved to Ming, whose father was there to collect him.
“Hello Behrooz,” Keyana’s mother said as Behrooz and Keyana got into the back seat.
“Hello Mrs. Shacklebolt,” Behrooz replied with a small smile, her British accent always made him laugh.
Mrs. Shacklebolt turned on the stereo and off they went, looking out of his window, Behrooz noticed that there was a lot of traffic in the opposite direction and many people looked very upset. “What’s going on?” he asked.
Mrs. Shacklebolt merely shook her head, “The important thing is that we get home safely,” she said quietly as she wove through the little streets that led to home. Normally, Grove Street was swarming with children playing left right and centre, but today, one could swear it was a ghost town. Mrs. Shacklebolt parked the car and out hopped the children.
“Keyana, get inside,” she said to a pouting Keyana who was about to start playing hopscotch near the stroop.
“Thankyou for the ride Mrs. Shacklebolt,” Behrooz said as he started to walk home.
“Uh, Behrooz,” Mrs. Shacklebolt said softly, “Your mother asked if you could spend the night with us, just for today, she had somewhere to go,” there was some sort of sad pity in her eyes.
Behrooz nodded and climbed the stairs to the Shacklebolt’s apartment complex. Behrooz had been inside Keyana’s house many times, it was different from theirs, there were alot of little things Behrooz could not place and on many an occasion, he spotted Mrs. Shacklebolt waving around a stick.
“Do you want to come and play video games in my room?” Keyana asked. Behrooz nodded and followed her.
After some gruelling minutes of video games, Keyana turned to Behrooz, a mischievous glint in her eyes, “Do you want to see something really cool?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Behrooz replied, he was still dazed and confused about all that was going on, Keyana scrambled to her feet and went to get a notebook.
“Okay, but you must promise never to tell anyone,” she whispered, Behrooz eagerly nodded, she placed the book on the pink carpeted floor and looked at it, a few moments later, the pages started to flip by themselves, Behrooz gasped, then, slowly, the book began to levitate.
“Okay stop!” Behrooz said, “You’re scaring me!”
“Wha-why?” Keyana asked, “My ma says its normal for a young witch to have her powers showing up still young.”
With every word that came out of her mouth, Behrooz’s eyebrows Rose further and further up his head, “But it’s not normal,” he replied.
“Is to! My grandpa is the minister of magic in London!” Keyana pouted.
“Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you’re my best friend.” Keyana replied simply, “but you must promise never to tell anyone, my ma says people like us are not accepted by muggles.”
“What’s a muggle?”
“Someone who has no magical blood in them.” Keyana spoke the words like an expert.
Behrooz shook his head, for a seven year old, that was really easy to believe, but hard to fully take in, “I want some milk,” he said quietly.
“Let’s go to the kitchen,” Keyana grabbed his hand and led him to the small kitchen, Mrs. Shacklebolt was mixing a salad.
“What are you two little monsters up to?” she asked as Keyana got two cups from the cupboard.
“We are getting milk ma,” Keyana replied, “and, I also told Behrooz about grandpa’s job.”
At those words, Mrs. Shacklebolt’s spoon dropped to the floor, “Keyana, you didn’t......” she whispered.
“Don’t worry, I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone,” Behrooz said.
Mrs. Shacklebolt looked at Behrooz for some time, it felt like someone was poking something in his head, then, a few moments later, she sighed and said, “Okay, now, get your milk and go back and play. I need to fix your dinner.”
Behrooz grabbed a cup from Keyana and sat down to drink it, his gaze reverted to the TV where there was a reporter talking about some attack of some sort. Then, they showed a plane going into a building, then they showed ambulances and firemen and crying people, then the TV was clicked off.
“Okay, that’s enough telly for everyone,” Mrs. Shacklebolt laughed nervously, “Now head off to your room, both of you!”
The two did not need to be told twice, once in Keyana's room, Behrooz asked what all that was about.
“I don’t know,” Keyana replied.
Behrooz looked out of his window, the sun was setting and the sky was a bloody red.
“It’s because the angels are weeping for all our sins,” Behrooz’s mother always told him when he asked.
Behrooz sighed, there was something wrong, he knew it. And the angels wept that day.
(A/N: I hope you enjoyed this first chapter, I just hope that it was not too long. Stay tuned!)