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The Most Powerfully Magical Number by AvadaKedavra1
Chapter 1 : One
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 7


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One

A crystal blue sky glistened across Northern Tennessee, adding a confusing element to a cold December day. Outside the windows of his cruiser, Adam Pearson knew it was downright frigid. He need not be fooled by the brightness of the heavens or the relative comfort he and his companions felt inside his warm car.

Adam drove as his girlfriend and two cousins rode in peaceful silence. Sitting up front was the love of his life, Emily. She held his hand while they drove through the sleepy town of White House just north of Nashville.

Emily's eyes were glassy with exhaustion as she gazed at farm after farm rushing past the windows. It had been a long few weeks for them all, and they were reaching the end of a very long year. In the back seat sat twin brothers Matt and Derrick Emberson. Almost fifteen years junior to Emily and Adam, these young men were rapidly reaching their twentieth birthday. They too dozed in bright sunshine, looking disheveled and drained.

Adam turned onto the last street of their journey, and one by one each of his passengers began to stir.

"It's so weird coming to Grandma's house, without Grandpa." Derrick said, fussing with his shaggy hair. "I'll never get used to him being gone."

"Hmm," Adam hummed, driving slowly into his grandparents' subdivision. "For the family that lives here, they say it's gotten easier. I think. For those of us who live elsewhere, it's definitely still a shock."

"I've never seen a family take a death so hard, to be honest." Emily smiled, looking back towards Derrick and Matt. "Especially considering it was sort of expected, you know?"

"Cherry, you cried, didn't you?" Matt asked of Emily, using her nickname. "I mean, I swore I saw you—"

"For your grandfather? Oh, definitely," she smiled. "I loved him dearly, it was really sad to say goodbye to him. Charlie was the best. He accepted me into your family when Adam and I were still in school. What was that? Third year, when you brought me to meet them?" Adam nodded from the driver's seat, looking at little spacey. "You forget, back then Adam was the only one magical in your family. Your grandfather didn't care. In fact he loved it. I never felt out of place or odd, even when my hair was ridiculous."

"You've got great hair, boss." Derrick interrupted, with a laugh.

"Thanks, but not today." Emily pulled down the front visor and looked at her auburn reflection. "Your Aunt Sally is far too conservative for my style. So for Adam, I keep it toned down when his mother is around."

"It's funny, our mother is a nightmare, but you all say she's your favorite," said Derrick speaking of his own mom. "Matt and I like Sally the most, she's so cool."

"Not if you're her kid," Adam added of his mother as he pulled behind a parked gray Suburban in his grandmother's driveway.

"That's what we say about our mom. It's funny how all the cousins say their parents are jerks, but they adore the aunts and uncles." Derrick leaned forward, noticing the other vehicles in the driveway. "Looks like the Bumbles are here, sweet."

"Aw, I may get to see 'my' triplets after all." Adam smiled.

"Aren't they staying at school? Something about Ray-Ray and Ali having Quidditch?" One of the boys in the back said.

"Well, I think Sara stayed behind for a Transfiguration project, so I guess it will just be their parents." Emily added.

"To imitate Ali, I say, B-O-R-I-N-G!" Matt sassed, causing everyone to laugh. Matt was imitating their younger cousin Alison, who was one of the three Bumble triplets currently in their third year at Salem's School for Witches and Wizards.

Adam turned the ignition off and leaned around to address his cousins in the back seat. "Okay, its Christmas, guys. As soon as we step out of here, we're family and the holidays are about family. So relax, spend time with your parents and your brother and sister. Do me a favor and keep the alcohol to a minimum, and try to at least pretend to eat healthy. We resume training in four days. For the next four days enjoy yourselves, and recharge those batteries, but remember it will be me and Cherry burning all that poison out of your system come Tuesday."

Both young men nodded.

"Try and keep your wands away at all costs. The Harmon cousins will be here, and you know their holy-roller ways can't fathom our lifestyle."

"I think Uncle Chip and Aunt Donna would rather we were gay, to be honest." Matt snapped.

Emily laughed a quick snort before covering her mouth and trying to look serious.

"When I became a wizard," Adam continued, "it was a secret in this family. When you two got your letters, it was harder to hide, but late at night we would talk about it after the kids went to bed and the cocktails ran the holy-rollers out of the room."

"That was such a cool day, Adam. I still look back on that and smile." Derrick said while pumping his fist.

"Indeed, but now that 'my' triplets are in school, it's all a matter of public record. The Harmon kids just don't understand, and of course their parents do nothing to soften the controversy. So let's not get into any sort of conversations or debates about magic, okay? Just refer them to their parents."

"Lisa is an adult now, and she's just as nosey as ever, so avoid her, too." Emily added. "Or you're liable to get preached to."

"Yeah and no Confunding or Stunning relatives, do you understand me?" Adam raised a pointed finger to Derrick.

"B-O-R-I-N-G!" laughed Matt.

The group shared one last quick laugh before stepping out into the cold. Emily cringed and reached for Adam's arm as the frigid wind caught her. Together they walked up the front walk of their Grandmother's home to find her already waiting for them at the door.

Grandma's smile was immediately contagious to the new arrivals and seemed to take the ice out of the air. She ushered them inside quickly and out of the weather. At once, a long line of relatives, more than fifteen, formed an informal receiving line for hugs and holiday greetings. This group—these four—had been away for a very long time, and their arrival was most-welcome.

Emily, being gracious, found Adam's mother, Sally, before anyone else. They exchanged sincere holiday greetings and hugs, before Sally asserted her dormant, yet overbearing maternal instincts toward Emily. Adam's mom was genuine, albeit annoying, and had the very bad habit of treating her three grown children like toddlers.

In an attempt to be warm and kind, Sally fussed over Emily's diminishing weight, having no idea what the poor child had just been through. Standing in the crowded entry way Emily smiled through compliments and questions about her new hairstyle. Sally knew the witch could change hair color at will. She also knew most wizards grew and cut their own hair. Nevertheless, the motherly questions still came out. "Oh, what a lovely haircut, was it expensive?"

Finally, Adam's youngest sister, Janis, with her two year old son in her arms, moved in to rescue her adopted sister with a hug.

"Aunt Cherry!" Janis's son, Nicholas, squealed with extended arms. As Emily took hold of Nicholas, Adam swooped in to deflect his mother's attention from Emily to himself, allowing her to escape.

On the other side of the room, Matt and Derrick were alternating hugs and fist pounds between their sister and brother. Parents David and Linda were also right in the fold. Matt and Derrick becoming wizards was a significant challenge for this group. Being Muggleborn is one thing, but they really weren't considering Adam was a wizard. In fact, it was Adam and Emily who brought the boys their first school letters. David and Linda were Muggles, as were older siblings Kelly and Andy. Through the hugs, even across the room, only an idiot would miss the fact that Matt and Derrick's family missed them very much.

Though there were many other greetings and embraces, the only other couple of note were Barb and Ray Bumble. They put on good faces at the arrival of these four, but their faces quickly turned sad once the excitement wore off. Barb and Ray had three children—triplets—Alison, Sara and Ray Junior. Halfway through their third year at Salem's, the children chose to remain at school for the holidays. That disappointment, for their parents, was obvious.

Adam walked up and hugged Barb. They had a fantastic relationship, and Barb trusted him without hesitation. He looked after her only children in the magical world since she too was a Muggle, and that made the bond between them insurmountable.

"Hey, Babs," Adam smiled as she took a sip from her Martini glass. "Sorry I've been away. Are we gonna see our trips soon?"

"Christmas Eve, hopefully before dinner and then they will stay here until term starts again, thank God." Barb's face definitely lit up as she spoke.

"Aw, that's great. Staying at school is so much fun for them. I used to love it. But they know we all miss 'em, and they'll be home real soon." Adam admitted, trying to offer some reassurance.

"Oh, well you just stayed so you could be alone with Emily." Barb laughed, being playful. "It's hard, they're growing up so fast, and they're so busy. I refuse to stand in their way, but I miss 'em so much."

"And they know that, Barb. Every time I see them, they ask a thousand questions about you and Ray. Do they write often?"

"Oh, all the time, but it's not the same."

It took a good ten minutes for Adam, Emily, Matt and Derrick to say hello to everyone, but eventually the room settled down and people found seats. Grandma fussed about, individually reminding everyone over the age of eighteen that the bar was open. White House, Tennessee may be a sleepy little dry town nestled in the buckle of the Bible Belt, but Grandma Martha had a liquor cabinet worthy of admiration from even the most casual of drinkers. If you couldn't find the booze you needed in her cabinet, well, you could always check her liquor closet, or if all else failed, hit up the reserves in the garage. Drinking in this family was just a fact of life, and even though you had to be twenty-one to drink legally in the United States, in Grandma's house, eighteen was close enough.

Grandma's daughters Sally, Barb and Linda helped her in the kitchen as she laid out enough food to feed an army. On occasion, meals were formal, but most of the time, it's everyone for themselves and after almost an hour, the entire family was well-fed. Children disappeared into bedrooms to watch television and to play in peace leaving the adults huddled in small packs of conversation throughout the common areas.

Adam headed towards the living room and could see Emily sitting in a recliner talking to Big Ray. As he moved through the hall his path was impeded by his cousin Lisa Harmon and her younger brother Steven.

"Hi, Adam," Lisa smiled giving him another hug.

"Lisa Brooke," He smiled a polite, yet fake smile before turning toward her brother. "What's up, Cousin Steven."

Steven looked uncomfortable, which was nothing new for the boy. He was adopted from somewhere in Europe when he was four. The only polite thing to say about the boy was that he was a very unstable and very disturbed person. There were behavioral issues and intense emotional scarring, so Steven lived a very, very challenged life for a fifteen-year-old. As sad as it was, adding an extremely-religious upbringing into the mix made him a very unpleasant person to be around. Conversations with him always turned disagreeable. Adam held his breath waiting for the bomb to explode. He tried to squeeze past the two, but they seemed intent on conversing.

"I love Emily, Adam." Lisa spoke first. "She's so pretty!" This was a typical statement for a Harmon child. As if looks alone defined someone's quality.

"Thanks," Adam said sarcastically. "I do like the pretty ones, you know."

"When're you guys gonna get married? You're getting so old!"

"Ha!" he laughed, pretending the question was funny. "I don't know. I ask her every day, but I think she is still holding out that someone better will come along."

"Are you still a witch, Adam?" Steven asked quite rudely.

"No, Steven, witches are girls." Adam moved around to try and escape. "But, yes, I am still a wizard."

The really annoying part of these conversations was that Lisa stood there casually, as if it was okay to ask. She knew as well as Adam, that Steven was about to preach. The truly sad fact was that in Lisa's mind, this was perfectly acceptable.

"God says witchcraft is the Devil's work." Steven continued, trying Adam's patience further.

"Well, then you might not want to stand too close to me, kiddo. God might try to strike me down and miss, in turn hitting you." The lecture to his cousins in the car was always more for his benefit than theirs. Adam had the world's shortest fuse for this sort of conversation because he had been getting it for almost twenty years.

"How can you sleep at night knowing you are breaking God's law?" again Steven continued.

"Quite well, actually. Steven, as I have said before, not everyone believes what you do. So why don't you just let people do what they want, huh? It was nice talking to you, kid." With that, he finally moved past the boy.

"God says –"

"God says that you shouldn't touch pork, Steven." Adam interrupted. "How's your ham sandwich, kid, is it delicious?"

Steven looked down at the plate of food in his hand and then looked up angry. "Everyone knows you are going to Hell, Adam."

"Thanks for the heads up, at least I will get to see old friends. Now, why don't you go and annoy someone else."

"Hey!" Lisa yelled, drawing looks from other family members.

"Magic isn't real, Adam. Only God is." Steven chastised.

"I'm done with this." Adam turned his back to them.

"You don't have to be a jerk, Adam. He's just a boy." Lisa scolded, acting twenty years older than she was.

"How am I being a jerk, Lisa? Being a jerk would be pulling out my wand and showing him it's real. And if I really wanted to be a jerk, we could have a little contest to see just exactly what is real and what can be proven. But, oh no, I have to be the adult here. I don't question your life or your beliefs, so why don't you two just go away before I turn you both into something unnatural."

"Asshole," Steven said, just low enough that his parents couldn't hear.

"Oh, Steven, that's very Christian of you. Just like your sister, you obviously have no concept of that whole brain-to-mouth thing. Get lost."

Adam moved into the living room while ten sets of eyes followed him. He sat on the arm of Emily's chair as she reached out and grabbed his hand. Big Ray shook his head as Adam looked frustrated. Being an in-law, Ray very publicly aired his discontent about the Harmon children and their ultra-religious ways, especially when they cornered his children.

Of the ten other people in the living room with Adam, Emily and Ray, none of them were Harmons. In fact, all were tied to magic in some form or fashion, being either parents or siblings to the wizards in the family.

Matt and Derrick's father, Uncle David spoke first in his usual quiet, yet profound tone. "Adam, just ignore it, they're only trying to get a rise out of you. "

"Well, it worked. It always does."

"What're they saying?" Linda asked, who was sitting on the couch between her sons Matt and Derrick.

"They asked when Emily and I were going to get married."

"As if!" Emily sassed. "I'm still waiting for someone better!"

"I know! That's what I said!" Adam replied to everyone's amusement. "At least they didn't go on about making an honest woman out of you! Ha!"

"Yeah, that ship sailed long ago." Emily said smacking Adam's leg. Everyone continued to laugh for a few minutes, before Barb spoke up.

"Okay, so let's have it." Barb started from across the room. "My kids say you guys have been up to something—that something is going on in your world."

Emily, Adam, Derrick and Matt each looked uncomfortable. Adam shuffled his plate to an end table and grabbed his cocktail taking a big gulp.

"It's been a long year, to be sure." Emily said, looking to Adam.

"We, uh, well, we had a busy month. But thanks to a lot of luck, and some great wand work by our two rookies over there," Adam pointed to Matt and Derrick. "We dealt a crushing blow to an illegal organization. So this holiday is not just a vacation for us, but a pseudo graduation for your kids."

"I can't wait. I'm freaking exhausted, yo!" Emily cheered, raising her glass.

The Muggles in the room looked to each other, before Barb continued. "Is this anything Ray and I should know about?"

"Oh, Barb, no!" Adam set his drink down and looked directly at her. "You know what Emily and I do, as Aurors. We're the cops in our world. Derrick and Matt are training, and although we're training them, all we do is fight crime. What we were involved in is just that—crime. We dealt with it, but it's really no different than some drug lord operating out of this city. It was big for us, but not really national news, if you get what I am saying."

"You guys look really tired," Linda added, "And my boys look beaten up."

"I think they look great, mom," said the twins' older sister Kelly, sitting on the floor next to her fiancé, Angel. "They're so buff!"

"Thanks, sis!" said Matt, turning to face his mother, Linda. "The work has its dangerous moments Mom, and there were some tight spots. Lucky for Derrick and me, we're well looked-after. Cherry's got my back!"

"And Adams got mine," Derrick added with a smile.

"Indeed," said Emily raising her glass to her student.

"Why do they call you Cherry, Emily?" asked Angel. Angel was Kelly's longtime boyfriend and just recently became her fiancé. When Kelly was in town for a visit, she'd been bringing Angel around for years.

"Um," Emily looked to Adam, and then to Kelly.

Kelly smiled, "He's been briefed, Em. When he put the ring on my finger, he got 'The Talk.'

"Well, I can change my hair color at will, Angel. It's a hereditary thing that not many can do. Actually, I can change my entire appearance at will."

"Which comes in very handy in the bedroom, let me tell ya!" Adam said to an assortment of boos from the ladies in the room followed by laughs from the men.

"Anyway, Asshole, my natural hair color is whatever I want it to be. When I was in school it was my mission to have the most obnoxious color I could come up with. As I got older, I settled on a select few favorites. Mostly, its bright white, even though I have it brown today. That's what I wear from day to day, occasionally adding some streaks of said obnoxious color."

Angel wasn't the only one following Emily's every word.

"Anyway, they call me Cherry because my other color is cherry red. Like, an unnaturally bright red, like right out of a can of paint."

"Ah, gotcha," said Angel, not sure if he really understood.

"What she means to say is," Matt said, taking over for Emily. "Day-to-day, she wears white, but the Fire Engine red comes out when she's involved in some bitchin' magic. Like when we go on an operation or are having a duel or something. So, the red's an intimidation thing. If you see it, you are in trouble because she's got her game face on."

"Oh, nice!" said Uncle David with a nod.

"I keep my hair short, mostly, even when it's white. But when it's time to really throw down, its long, and straight, and bright red. It makes me feel like a witch, and in turn, makes me feel powerful."

"Do your feelings feed your magic?" asked Angel.

"A bit," Adam added. "I mean, they have an effect, but there is so much we don't understand as it pertains to emotion. We know that love and hate are the most powerful, obviously. But that's really it, although confidence is a big deal just like in anything."

Linda looked at her two boys and smiled. "Well, I am just glad my boys are here. Thank you guys for looking after them, and teaching them."

"Oh, Linda," Emily laughed, "We've long passed the point where Adam and I teach them anything. Now, it's just about nurturing strong investigative skills, and proper technique, which they're learning quite quickly."

"Since they're in civilian clothing, am I to assume they're out of training?" Asked Linda, looking over her youngest sons' attire.

"Ha, no." replied Adam, who reached for a bite of food from the coffee table.

"They've still got a bit more, and then their Boards. If they pass, which they should, they'll become fully-fledged Aurors and take on an active caseload." Emily looked to Adam, as if looking for reassurance before continuing. "And to answer your question, no, they are not yet allowed to wear Muggle clothing. It's all a part of the disciplinary and training process. It keeps them in the proper mindset."

"Um," Kelly said, looking confused.

"We are wearing our robes, Kel." Matt answered his sister. "It looks like I am wearing jeans and sweater, but in fact, these are my robes."

"All of us are wearing our work robes," Adam looked down at his shirt, and brushed off a few crumbs. "Aurors are always on-call; it just saves time, not having to change."

"I don't understand," said Angel.

"There is an aspect of magic called Transfiguration, Angel." Emily smiled at him. "Changing an object into something else. We dress in our robes, which have magical qualities for protection and small amounts of armor, and then we change their appearance to resemble Muggle clothing. In the event, we are needed for duty, it is a simple incantation to remove the effects."

"Wow, fascinating."

Steven appeared from one of the back bedrooms holding an empty plate, obviously looking for a refill. He managed to catch the tail end of the conversation as he walked through the living room toward the kitchen. As was typical behavior for him, he felt the need to comment on the conversation, magic in general and God, as he passed through. No one paid him any mind as he passed through to continue stuffing his fat face with junk food, sweets and caffeine.

The conversation in the room shifted from magic to regular events and people's lives. Angel and Kelly talked about their engagement, and Andy talked about his life at university.

The day stretched into evening and everyone enjoyed each other's company. Grandma kept pouring drinks and made sure the appetizers remained fully-stocked. Eventually, Big Ray got up and demanded the adults start a Poker game, which was a fine tradition they picked up with the recent increased-popularity of Texas Hold 'Em.

Emily and Kelly cleared off the dining room table as Ray and Matt sat down and started dividing Poker chips. People began throwing money into one of Grandma's vases, and one by one the family and friends moved to the dining room.

Adam wasn't sure if he actually saw the Cheetah Patronus appear in the living room or not, but for one mad second he actually considered reprimanding one of his students for casting it in front of Muggles. However, neither Matt's nor Derrick's Patronuses were a cheetah. Whomever cast the cat that stood silently in his grandmother's living room, Adam didn't know.

Emily appeared beside him, along with their two trainees, and they all stared at it, glowing white. No one made a sound, wizard or Muggle, all stunned into silence.

The cheetah opened its mouth, but did not speak, and then opened it again, and again made no sound.

"Who do we know that casts a cheetah?" whispered Emily as Adam shrugged.

"Maybe they were interrupted before they could send a message," Derrick said as a matter of fact.

"It would disappear," Emily said as the cat again opened its mouth.

Emily drew her wand, appearing to have enough of standing around. "You two," she said looking to Matt and Derrick. "Perimeter! Now!"

Matt and Derrick each drew their wands and shuffled past other relatives.

"I'm sorry, Martha," Emily said, looking to Adam's grandmother, "Something's not right. We're going to set up protections around your home."

Grandma didn't even flinch in a response. She, like everyone else in the room had eyes only for the silver and white Patronus standing on the dark hard wood floor. The only person speaking was Steven, who was ranting about heresy, but as always, everyone ignored him.

Adam drew his wand and walked toward the cheetah. With a flick, he commanded, "Reveal your secrets."

The cheetah opened its mouth, and again it did not speak.

Derrick appeared from the garage just as Matt came up from the basement, and both twins reported finding nothing of significance.

"Cherry, I'm releasing," Matt said, waving his wand over his sweater. With a whoosh of air, his robes appeared—charcoal-gray with yellow trim. Derrick followed Matt's lead and did the same.

Family members began to mutter quietly while Adam and Emily tried to figure out who sent the Patronus and why it hadn't faded. Finally, the silvery cheetah opened its mouth and let out a noise. An ear-crunching scream in a female voice forced Adam backward, away from it.

"Was that Ali?" Barb yelled stepping forward. "That was Ali! I swear I know my own child's voice."

Emily looked to Adam who was getting to his feet, and then to Derrick and Matt.

"This'd better be a really bad joke," Matt said looking angry, yet serious. "Since when can a third year do a corporeal patronus?"

"Let's assume it's not a joke. Jump to Salem—you know the place." Adam snapped, taking charge. "Matt and Derrick you're with me, Cherry, get my cousins back here now!"

Emily nodded, raised her arms over her head, and vanished with a crack!

Steven watched her vanish and ran screaming from the room.

"Salem's?" Derrick sighed, looking to Adam. "That's a really big jump."

Adam pulled his wand closer and grabbed a hold of Matt and Derricks' robes. Together, with Adam in control they turned on the spot and were gone.

The next few minutes seemed like days. Lisa immediately opened her mouth to comment, but half the family shut her down. They all stood silently in a large circle staring at the cheetah, which made no sound after its initial scream. Steven returned to the living room, asking questions no one answered. Linda, David, Kelly, Angel and Andy held silent vigil for Matt and Derrick. Barb and Ray stood hand in hand fearing for their children, Alison, Sara and Ray Junior. Sally, Janis and Nicholas stood quiet for Adam and Emily. At the apex of the circle stood Grandma, holding strong for all of her missing grandchildren.

After ten minutes, the only change was that the cheetah had vanished. Which was neither good nor bad, but the looks on the faces of those who remained in the circle slipped into a darker state as time passed. Just as Barb was about to explode from tension, the living room was engulfed in a loud pop! A blast of frigid air forced people to look away, and when they looked back to the center there were two new people, covered in snow, standing huddled arm in arm.

Emily stood up, her hair long and fire red, as Sara released her grip and tried run to her mother. Emily reached out from her jet-black robes and grabbed Sara by the back of her school robes. She turned around to face Emily, looking scared to death.

"Sara, you three did wonderfully, now listen to me." Emily said in a stern voice, dropping to her knees to look the child in her eyes. "You keep your wand out, until I say otherwise, do you understand me?"

Sara nodded, looking panic stricken with glossy eyes.

"If you see anyone you don't know you have my permission to curse them stupid, okay?" Emily's voice was calm, yet shaken as she barked orders to the teenager. "And if anyone you don't know shows up here, the charm is Protego Totalum. Do you understand? That will lock everyone out of this place, okay?"

Sara nodded again and pulled out her wand.

"Remember what we've always told you, okay? You're a bright girl, keep it simple. I'm gonna go get your brother and sister."

Emily released her grip on Sara, looked up to Barb and Ray with a very serious look on her face, but said nothing. Emily stood up, pulled her flame red hair out of her face and vanished.

Again the family was left in silence as Sara found her mother and fathers arms at last.

It took only two minutes for Emily to arrive again. This time she held Ray-Ray as she appeared with a pop. She released him, but Ray-Ray did not want to be left behind. He held on to her, but she pushed him away hard. The look on her face was one of pure determination, but Ray-Ray too was determined to not be taken out of the fight.

Another Pop! Derrick appeared with Alison.

"Cherry!" Alison yelled half excited, half scared, but Emily only had eyes for Derrick.

"Where's Adam?" She asked.

"I saw you breaking up Ali and Ray and I came to help." Derrick shook his head. "I counted five near you, so I broke contact. That makes nine total, at least that I have seen."

"Get back there, I'm right behind you." Derrick was gone before Emily finished the statement. She turned to the triplets.

"You three, you work together, if anyone shows up here, Sara knows what to do. This is not school! You defend yourselves with force, do you understand me?"

The three Bumble children nodded, and Emily vanished.

The Muggle adults tried to question the Bumble kids, but there was very little to tell. They'd been attacked at school and really had no idea what was going on. The triplets were more determined to carry out Emily's orders than answer questions.

The twenty minutes of silence were an eternity before Matt appeared in the center of the circle. Blood trickled from his nose and the back of his neck, as he dropped to his knees. He was out of breath and looked heart broken. Alison, Sara and Ray-Ray stepped forward looking curious, but Matt ignored them, raising bloody hands to his face and running them through his hair.

He looked at his wand, made a sour face and then threw it across the room. Matt looked like he was about to cry.

Another pop, Derrick appeared directly behind his twin. Matt didn't move; he knew it was his twin.

Derrick dropped his head with a sigh and did not answer anyone's queries. He reached out and grabbed his brother's shoulder as Ali walked up.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Oh, Ali you're bleeding, love," Derrick said distracted, raising his wand to her and fixing a gash over her eye. "Let's clear out. Adam and Emily will be here shortly." His voice broke as he pulled Alison aside, making room.

"Did you see it, Derrick?" Matt asked, getting up from his knees.

His brother nodded with a grim face.

An arctic burst of air filled the living room, blowing everyone's hair back and averting their eyes. Adam and Emily appeared laying arm in arm, covered in snow on Grandma's hard wood floor.

Adam sat up and stared up at the ceiling, as Derrick and Matt fell to their knees.

Ray-Ray noticed first that Emily did not stir.

"Cherry?" Ray-Ray whispered seeing the tears that streaked Adam's face.

"Oh, no," Janis gasped, covering her son's eyes.


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