A/N pt 1: "Mumia" is Polish for mother; the Polish business becomes a funny little subplot later! Don't take my separation of Bulgarian Veela and Polish Veela to actually mean anything, or that I'm making a generalized statement about the people in either country.
I rolled out of bed as the sun was rising, I made my way over to the window and looked out at the South Boston skyline. It was actually quite pretty, but that wasn't what was on my mind. My brain was too pre-occupied with thoughts of the day ahead.
Cleaning, cooking, working, shopping, going to and from classes. That was my daily routine; that's how I take care of my sisters. It’s the only way anything ever gets done around here.
I'm barely sixteen, but that doesn't stop the house from needing to be cleaned or taken care of. As I stretched, I felt the nagging feeling I was forgetting something huge. I paced my bedroom, deep in thought.
And then it came to me. Crap. It was Etty's birthday. Well, there goes the day.
I looked outside again and savored the moment of peace before my sisters woke up and the madness would inevitably began. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an owl diving all around the. How odd, I thought. There aren’t many owls in Southie; it’s more of a gulls-and-pigeons sort of place. This one had a big bit of paper in its beak. Also odd. I pushed the thoughts about the owl out of my mind. I'm no expert in owl behavior, I thought. Maybe that’s normal for them. Heck, maybe owls eat paper on a regular basis. Faith would probably know. She acted pretty ditzy, but according to Grace (the only one who can actually get through to her) she’s just deep in thought. That didn’t surprise me, given the fact that Faith could pull the deepest philosophical statements at the oddest times, but presence of mind would be much appreciated. Yesterday's toast fiasco- in which Faith attempted to make toast- she kept burning them and replacing them in the toaster, until there was no bread left. She had no idea until Grace pointed out there was nothing left. I really don't have money for anything outside The Budget. Activities first, food second. That's just how it has to be.
I frowned to myself as I turned away from the skyline, the sun and the owl so that I could start my day.
Patience lived in a two-family in South Boston, Massachusetts (commonly referred to as Southie) with her four sister: Faith, Grace, Amaretta, and Mercy.
While Patience worried in her sleep in the small master bedroom that once slept her mother, through a thin wall, a scene in the second bedroom was far less stressful and far more calm.
Three beds, clothes strewn about everywhere, and four sleeping figures, dreaming about the free week ahead.
It was far less crowded now that Patience had moved into Mumia’s old room, and the girls were grateful. As soon as she did, Merce shoved Etty out of the bed they shared and Etty gladly complied. Now Etty had a bed, and Merce had a bed, and neither pushed the other out of bed anymore. Grace and Faith still shared their bed. Despite Grace being inappropriately snarky, and generally antisocial, and Faith living in her own little world, the twins were closer than anyone else in the house. Grace was the only person who could pull Faith out from between her own ears, and Faith could calm Grace down like no one else. Grace would talk and talk to Faith and Faith alone.
They were extremely close, but the joke was that the two were like night and day. Faith was day, and looked like the rest: milky skin, extremely light blonde hair, perfect features. Faith had glowing gold eyes that tended to stare either into space or into the face of whoever was trying to converse with her. Faith was a hopeless romantic, and was somewhat notorious for her belief in love at first sight. Patience, a ruthless cynic, often mocked her for it. Grace would fire up at this, and would immediately move to defend Faith. Grace looked like the odd one out of her sisters, but was no less gorgeous. She had purple-blue eyes, olive skin, and thick black hair that was currently mussed into something resembling a rat’s nest on the pillow.
The next bed was Etty’s, and had fashion articles and patterns pinned over it. The girl in it slept with a huge smile, no doubt dreaming of the celebrations to come tomorrow. The girls didn’t have much to look forward to after the money ran out. It was all birthdays, holidays, and paydays these days, and those were few and far between.
Etty dreamed of being the head of a fashion house, and her creations were strewn about the room: three manikins, one of which sported a piece of pinned fabric like a thin dress, the precious bolts of fabric sticking out from underneath the bed, the patched shorts she sewed for Merce last week from scratch. There were also guitar picks on the floor from where Merce opened her new box and they went flying. Mick bought them for her birthday. He said he went past the guitar shop near Berklee, saw them in the window, and was reminded of her eyes. They were unique in their color, a pure dark green that lightened a bit near the pupil. Indeed, the picks were colored the same way, even with a round black dot in the center. It might have been creepy, but they didn’t look like eyes- they just looked like Etty’s eyes.
Merce was strewn halfway off the bed, and was snoring loudly. Each time Etty passed her sleeping form on her way out of the room, she would shake her head and thank on everything she could think of that she didn’t have to share a bed with the sleeping monster that was Merce. Merce was wild like her mother before her, charming in her own natural way. She even looked more like her mother than the others. The others were fairly uniform with a few exceptions (Patience’s features were sharper and her hair was even lighter; Grace’s overall complexion was darker): Patience and the twins were done growing and stood at a relatively tall 5’ 10”, and had the same body shape and size. Merce, on the other hand, was shorter than the others had been and like their mother, leaned more towards “sturdy” than “waify.” A few years, Patience thought, and it would be like the laughing dark grey eyes and wide mischievous grin of their mother had been copied and pasted onto her sister’s face.
Over the weekend, Merce had carefully plotted just how she would spend time with her new friends. Patience was quite overbearing and liked to screen each of Merce’s friends. She surely wouldn’t approve of her new friend Julia, who was given free rein and was allowed to run all over town. Merce had decided she wouldn’t tell Patience unless she officially asked. Patience wouldn’t like it, but then Patience and Merce almost never got along.
Next to the bedrooms was the teeny tiny bathroom. It was stuffed with tubes of cosmetics, bottles of generic store-brand medicine, and old bottles of hair products. Every morning, one girl would be in the shower, one would be using the toilet, and the rest would be battling for the mirror.
The bathroom opened up into the kitchen, an awkwardly shaped thing made almost entirely of useless cabinets in circa-1962-eggshell-blue. The larger part (which really wasn't too large at all) had a microwave, sink, and toaster, which still smoked from Faith's attempt to make toast the day before. The trash stank of the fully-burnt loaf of bread and Patience's silent tears. Bread is expensive in this place, and food is hard to come by.
The smaller part of the kitchen was on the other side of the little hallway in the apartment and was no more than a row of more baby-blue cabinets, complete with another sink and a stack of clean bowls and spoons. There was also a long black table, so fancy and yet so beat up, much like the other atricles of furniture in this house. This table also featured a fat old radio, and was the site of many of Merce's impromptu concerts.
The living room was the second-clearest place in the house (the first being the refrigerator), and was furnished with a couple couches Mumia had brought over from Poland all those years ago. In the corner was a most curious sight: there was a mound of instruments in it. Mumia, like all Veela, was addicted to indulgence. She splurged on guitars, the too-big grand piano, Faith's dancing lessons, and Grace's drumsticks.
Bulgarian Veela were comparatively more beautiful than Polish Veela, but Polish Veela were known for their music, and Mumia made sure the girls took advantage of that up til the end. Faith played the electric base, and danced. Grace played the drums, Etty did guitar, and Merce was the prodigy who played piano, violin, and a bit of clarinet.
All along the walls were framed photos, some from when Mumia first came to America, some of the days before the sisters were born, and some of the girls as children. Grace always smirked, Etty's smiles were shy, Faith stared piercingly at the camera, and Merce was always laughing. Patience smiled in the earlier pictures, but it became more and more unsure as time passed, and the latest photographs showed a cold stare that had become her trademark. The newest photos were mostly taped or even stapled to the walls. Frames were unecessary expenses in Patience's book.
This was the way things were in this house on Douglas Avenue. Soon, it would all change. Soon, a mother's secrets would come to light, and all would turn on its side.
There are a few things you need to know before this story goes on.
One: Veelas have wicked tempers and tend to do rash things.
Two: They don't blush, they glow.
Three: Veelas resent being assumed as being a creature of magic. Veela's do not have magic of their own. A half-blood Veela with magic must have one wizard parent. Veela's get extremely pissed off when ignorant wizards assume they have magic. Refer back to point one if you don't understand.
Raising four girls isn't fun at all. It's a struggle to get anything done. Some days I totally get why Mumia left. But, I, unlike Mumia, pull myself together and pick myself up for the sake of the girls. You have to, when you have others to think about and look after.
Today I was on a mission, I had to report to work early and I couldn't leave without telling Etty something about her past. Plus, I still had yet to buy her birthday presents. I know, aren't I the crappiest sister?
That was rhetorical.
I looked at the clock on the wall above the kitchen table. Damn. It was almost ten. I have to get to the pub by ten fifteen- time for a head count.
I threw my head back and shouted at the top of my lungs, "Faith!"
"I'm going to the studio for tutoring." She shouted back.
I nodded to myself, satisfied with her answer. The dance studio was where she danced and taught the younger ones, she was also provided lunch there. So that's one less mouth to feed. "Grace!" I shouted again.
"Fuck off!" was the response. I waited with my hands on my hips until Grace stuck her head out of the bathroom to glare at me. "I'm going to Mrs. O'Rileys to fix her A/C. 'Kay?" She rolled her eyes at me as she said it and then went back into the bathroom.
I yelled again, "Etty!"
"She's playing guitar across the street at Donaugh's. She got up real early." Merce shouted back.
"How early?" I ask. Even from the kitchen I could hear Merce chuckle in their bedroom. "Before the sun." Merce replied.
That meant that Etty had been there since before I had woken up. She wouldn't be back for a while; I knew that from previous experience, so my news would have to wait. Ah, well. "Merce!"
She laughed from down the hall, "You know I'm here Patience."
I sighed. Merce was open until she wasn’t. "Yes, but what are you doing today?"
"Going walking in the park with Shannon and Julia." she shouted back.
I thought about it for a second, Shannon was a good girl and her mother would feed Merce if she went back to her house, but I didn't know of the other girl Julia. I glanced at the clock again: five past ten. I went against my better judgment and didn't ask Merce about Julia, If Merce thought she was a nice person then who was I to judge? I made a mad dash for the door as I picked up my keys and bag, "Bye everyone!" I called as I slammed the wooden door behind me.
I'd have to run all the way to the pub now, otherwise my boss Mick would kill me. I looked across the street at the McLaughlin’s house where the boy and Etty were playing guitar. They were sat in the living room and I could see and hear them through the open window. I paused to listen and then something caught my eye. An owl was circling the house, and it looked like the same one from this morning. So weird. All the same, I kept on walking down the street. At this point Mick was going to eat me.
Mick did flip out on me when I arrived, but I survived and set myself to work. The pub was pretty much empty except or I and Mick. Maybe I would even get a chance to make some of my special chowder for lunch. I'm famous around these parts for my New England clam chowder; I make it fresh whenever I can. It's always a sell out when it's on the menu, I haven't made it for a while though and it would be good because then I could take some home for Etty's birthday. I bent down behind the bar and picked up an apron. Chowder making can be a long, hot, messy business.
I stood up and was about to go into the kitchen when I saw a hooded figure looking at me from the other side of the bar. I looked closely and saw it was an elderly woman. I put on my best bartender smile and said, "Hello and welcome to Mick's pub. If you're hungry you can have some of my chowder. There should be enough left and if there isn't, I'm just about to make some more."
She lifted her hood, revealing her face and frowned, "Chowdah?"
Crap. She had a British accent and would probably have no idea what chowder is. Part of the reason I like working here at the pub is because I don't have to mind my accent. We usually only get townies at the pub; people from the neighborhood around it. "CHOW-DER. It's famous 'round here." I smiled and enunciated the word. She kept frowning at me, and it made the lines and wrinkles on her forehead crease. Her grey hair was in a neat bun and from what I could see, she was dressed all in black. I got the impression that she didn't smile very much.
"No thank you. I'm looking for a Patience Hutchinson?"
I instantly stopped smiling. I've always loved in fear that a social worker would take the girls away. It's never happened but you can never be sure- with our neighbors, I’m almost shocked it never happened while Mumia lived with us. "What is it you want?" I demanded, staring her down across the table in my most intimidating
The woman bent her head low and said, "I need to speak to you about your sister, Amaretta Gallagher and her future at our school."
I relaxed again. When Mumia told me about Etty’s father, she mentioned how people would discuss it. Even though Mumia was almost always drunk, she was right: they called it “our school,” and she said that was you knew they were special.
"What's your name, Ma'am?"
She lifted her head up to peer at me, "I am Professor Minerva Mcgonagall."
I nodded, "Etty doesn't know about your kind, but I do. I've heard all about you and you don't have to whisper, Mick's a squib." Her eyes widened in shock and she glanced towards Mick, who was further down the bar cleaning the bar top. I smirked, "I'll go and see about the chowder and then we can talk."
The woman made her way to an empty table in the corner and took a seat as I went into the kitchen and set about making the chowder. Once I had finished I re-heated some of the chowder from yesterday and put it into two bowls. I left the kitchen and saw that she was still sitting there, checking out the pub and the things in it. Good, I thought.
I plopped a bowl down in front of her and she jumped a little. "Eat," I demanded. "You look thin." I can't help but fuss over my customers. Merce always calls me the Mother Hen, though she’s usually complaining about how "overbearing" I am. The funny thing is that I'm not that much of a mothering character. As much as Merce calls me overbearing, she's called me cold and heartless twice as much. It's true, but coddling never results in success. If any of the girls were looking for a sensitive ear to listen to their sob stories, Etty was the one they went to.
She started eating and nodded at me. I took that as she thought it was good and started eating my own. She stopped to smile at me before finishing what was left in her bowl. I watched, occasionally eating some of my own chowder until she had finished eating.
"So," I began, "You're letter was surposed to come last year, on Etty's eleventh birthday."
The smile fell from her face and she looked uncomfortable. "Well, we had a lot of paperwork, Etty's got mixed in with another's and it wasn't found until now." She trailed off looking at my face, sine I was starting to glow with annoyance.
I pursed my lips and said, "Continue."
She held her head up and fixed a stern gaze on me, "We are willing to make special arrangments for Miss Gallagher."
I frowned, "And what would they be?"
She took a deep breath, "Miss Gallagher has missed her first year at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry. If she was to leave in a week's time she could make up that year by the end of the summer. She would then be able to enter her second year along with peers of her age."
I nodded, "And the catch?"
"She wouldn't be able to come home until a week before the first day of school."
I swallowed the lump in my throat. Our little family unit was the only constant in our lives. No Etty, for that long? It was hard to imagine home without Etty, but even when you want to quit, you have to pick yourself up again. For the sake of the girls and for Etty, I nodded. God, there's a lot of nodding on this side of the conversation.
"Now, I’ll need to speak to Miss Gallagher of course."
I tipped my head at her and she moved to get up. I chuckled. "Not just yet. Shift's over in a few. Won't be long since the pub's near empty." She sat back down and placed some coins on the bar before folding back into her chair.
A/N: I erased all of the A/Ns because there were about six, and none of them helped the story. And here are some little things that were left out of this chapter:
1) In the Northeast (region of the States), we start school in September and we go until mid-June. Spring break in the Boston area, where the girls live, is at the very end of April. I Googled it and it’s the 19th thru the 22nd this year.
2) A word about Patience’s motives: she wants to be selfish and keep Etty close, but she knows Hogwarts offers opportunities Etty won’t have anywhere else. She also doesn’t want to make tough decisions like this one; she wants to be an average teenage girl, and she wants to crawl back to bed. BUT she can’t, she she’s got to deal with her life as it is.
3) Revamped Chapter 2 should be coming VERY soon.
4) I’m going to start posting little fun facts about each of the girls- possibly other characters. They probably won’t be related to the narrator, but they’ll have some prevalence in the story. Here are a few:
FACT: The sisters all have different fathers. The exception to this are the twins.
FACT: Mick’s mother was a muggleborn who attended Salem Witch Institute (Salem, MA is around 45 minutes north of Boston). Mick’s brother did too, but did not bother to keep in touch with Mick.
FACT: Grace is considered the genius in the family. She wants to attend MIT and study rocket science.
Look for the next chapter!