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The Healer might as well as handed her a death sentence. Prudence Proctor walked the streets of Massachusetts in a catatonic state; she'd suspected something was wrong and her worst fears had been confirmed. Why had she needed to know? There were worse things, she supposed, but she felt empty.

A homeless man wrapped in a stained traveling cloak grabbed her by the arm. A lot of so-called prophets littered the streets and scrapped by with a living this way for money; a few Dragots meant a meal and full belly for the night. Prue stood outside the clinic, wiped her eyes hastily with the sleeve of her robes, and conjured an umbrella as an afterthought. If you fed one pigeon, as her father used to say, you fed them all and ended up penniless with a bleeding heart.

"A reading, ma'am?" asked the homeless man.

"Oh, no. No, thank you," said Prue, hugging herself. She quickened her pace, but she tipped a couple Dragots into the man's battered guitar case. True Seers were a rare find indeed, and Prue got the results on parchment from a cold, distant Healer minutes ago. He followed her and shifted a spirit board, a Ouija board, under his arm. Annoyed, she turned around to tell him to back off.

"You look lost," he said, placing the spirit board on an upturned trash can. In another trash can, there were bright blue flames that didn't extinguish despite the rain. He went back to his squatter's square under a bridge and waved her inside his makeshift dwelling. Prue added three more Dragots, until she realized he didn”y get the point. "I don't want your money, miss, but I'll take it. What do you wish to know? Your past life? Your husband? Your children?"

He must've saw something flicker across her face, for he gave her a knowing smile and beckoned her closer. The man shook a dirty, probably flea ridden sheet and tossed a bundle of twigs upon it. This was Xylomancy, a form of Divination taught at school as an elective; she'd seen it, but Prue held no faith in the shaky art of fortune telling or any form of divination. She turned to leave, thanking the stranger, but she really must get going.

"Let's see." The homeless man placed his hands on the pointer. When she turned, it was on the letter P.

"Prudence Proctor," she said, deciding to humor him. Had he seen her Healer records or something? Maybe he read her name in the Chronicle because he heard she taught History of Magic at Ilvermorny School and recently written an academic paper on the Salem Witch Trials. She was a direct descendant of John Proctor, of Salem Village, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Knowing she read into nothing and made connections where none existed, she stayed to prove him wrong. "You moved that pointer."

"Did I?" asked the man, shrugging. He let go and the triangular pointer zoomed back to the middle; next moment, it darted unmistakably back to the letter P. Prudence, who guessed he was no Leglimens, asked if he was skilled in telekinesis; he said no. Prue thanked him kindly, or so she hoped, and said she was going; a name meant nothing. He waited, speaking softly. "You did not ask about yourself. You asked about your child, ma'am, and it's a girl. The twigs say so."

"A girl." Prue froze, angry. Though she'd spent years teaching at school, she had none of her own. She reached in her handbag and tossed him a roll of parchment. These people, the bottom of the food chain, fed off pain; they read people well. Had he heard the nurse talking to her outside Massachusetts Bay Memorial Hospital? "You know nothing. What does that say? Are you literate?"

"Prudence Ruth Proctor, 32, infertile. Sterile." A flicker crossed his face and he studied her for a moment, wiping his dirty blonde hair out of his face; there was something there. Pity or pain? She had time for neither. "Prudence, please."

"The joke's on you, sir. I rode my fiancé like clockwork like a fucking through-bred horse for seven years. We had nothing but that in the end. He said it was me ...and he left. David was right... he was right." The homeless man offered her the healing record, and she held it over the blue flame before casting into the fire. "None of it matters."

"What you seek will come when you least expect it," he said, reciting a proverb off a fortune cookie or something. "Stop searching. Life isn't so difficult."

She gave a harsh laugh. "Says who?"

"I did," he said simply, raising his eyebrows. He saluted her. "Nice seeing you again, Prue."

Prue froze. She stopped herself from giving him a jab, for he'd fallen on hard times, and it wasn't his fault. Her fiancé had lost his job at MACUSA last month. Well, he was her ex-fiancé, really, though Prudence kept reminding herself of this fact. What did he mean? Where had they crossed paths? When she started to ask the homeless man questions, he gathered his spirit board, winked at her, and Disapparated. The blue flames extinguished themselves.

Prudence Proctor lived up to her name. Other than her run-in with the soothsayer or so-called prophet some seven years ago, she colored within the lines because the lines protected her, and life went on as usual. She was a blonde from Massachusetts, the wealthy part of the state. If she didn't want to lift a magical finger, she really didn’t have to. At thirty-nine, she was slated to become the youngest headmistress at Ilvermorny.

This would all be well and good, except an old story had cropped up, and she couldn't do anything about it at the moment. In the summertime, she spent her days in the sanctuary outside Romania, and she pretty much owed her life to Charlie Weasley at the moment for a welcome escape from the mundane. So what could she do? Prudence taught History of Magic at school; she joined the research team whilst in Romania. Everyone who was everyone came to study dragons here. She loved the chase.

Prue set the copy of the New York Ghost on the nightstand and thought about what she’d just read. There was fact in there, cold, hard fact, but she had no dog in this fight. A Brazilian wizard, a handler of the infamous Vipertooths, laid beside her. Flashes of the night before ran through her mind, but it wasn't like this hadn’t happened in the past. What was the use of being one of the two women on the tightly knit research team if nobody kept her bed warm at night?

“Jorge? Jorge?” Prue groaned. The man slept through everything, but he preferred to cuddle as a sleeper, and she didn’t have time for this. Carefully and deftly, Prue got out of bed, got dressed in light Muggle clothes, grabbed the latest editions of the papers, and headed downstairs.

There was a small pub on the ground floor. A mop danced across the floors as it cleaned them. Charlie Weasley, red-haired and burly, nursed a couple new burns on his arms. Rolf Scamander, swarthy and built similarly to Charlie, read through academic publications. He sat with his wife, Luna, a woman in her early thirties who didn't appear to always be all there. Teams got assigned randomly, though Charlie held onto his people like a Welsh Green clung to a sheep.

“Brazilians sleeping in this morning?” Rolf usually called Jaime Flores and Jorge Bello-Ríos, cousins by marriage, the Brazilian brothers.

Charlie raised his eyebrows. “Oh, well, Jorge had a long night. You should really cast a Muffliato Charm, American girl, because the walls are thin. You wore my Brazilian out? What do you have there? I didn't know you could read.”

“Funny, funny, funny English man.” Prue didn’t humor him.

Prue slapped his hand away and laid the copies of the New York Ghost and the Massachusetts Bay Chronicle on the table as she went to grab a coffee. She turned a large blue mug over and the coffee poured itself from the cafe. Prue downed the first cup right there and thanked the landlord for a refill. She headed back to the table and smiled when Charlie helped himself to the copy of the New York Ghost.

"I try," said Charlie, checking out the codiment selection; he chose ketchup for his scrambled eggs. Rolf smiled. "What's going on your side?"

“Long story short, and you’ll find this funny, Charlie,” said Prue, taking a seat and slipping her coffee. “Americans are racist.”

“Fact,” said Rolf promptly. pointing at the ceiling. Charlie snorted and clapped him on the back, and he looked around, lost for support. “Oh, we're not playing that game? Charlie, warn people. It’s a curtesy.”

“Nah, Scamander, nah.” Charlie patted his shoulder sympathetically and poured him some tea. “That’s a drunkard’s game. Did you see Jaime?”

“Where is Jaime?” Luna asked.

Luna, coming back from her dreamy state, frowned at her. Rolf, the wide-awake, 24/7 man, took a clean plate off a stack and tapped it when his wand. It filled itself with scrambled eggs, pork, toast, and fruit; he handed it to Prue. The word peaked Charlie’s interest, and he said it was totally worth it that Prue paid the extra money to get the spiel on the Americans, and he flipped through the pages.

Charlie pounded the table. “Racist Americans, people, let’s focus, shall we?”

“That’s an over exaggeration,” said Rolf, handing Prue some wrapped silverware. As his grandmother was a graduate of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he had an understanding about the place. He scratched his greying beard, nudging Charlie and reading the article over his friend's shoulder. He conceded defeat. “All right, yes the way that reads, it’s bad. Really bad. Unfortunately true.”

“Ha!” Prue pointed her fork at him and spread jam into her toast with a butter knife. Rolf checked the other paper. 

Charlie shared a confused look with Luna. “Scamander and Proctor know something we don’t know. Share. Sharing is caring.”

“There is an American school of witchcraft in Massachusetts. There are four Houses,” said Rolf, smirking when Charlie called their friends across the pond copy cats. He gave up on arguing that point, too, and Prue pointed out that a lot of stuff got modeled after England. He nodded at Prue. “This can't just be cropping up after almost four centuries.”

“No, but that’s not the point,” said Prue, shrugging. If the argument held, and it added fuel to the fire, it marked a scorch upon American magical history.

“So, anyway, back to the story. The crests figures are named after creatures in Native American folklore.” Rolf, a magi-zoologist and sometimes history buff knew a lot about a lot. “Different creatures from different tribes. Isolt Sayre, an Irish witch, clearly didn't know what she was doing. It’s odd that those creatures would even be together geographically. We’re talking about the States in the seventeenth century.”

Rolf Scamander, a globetrotter, had been to the United States on a number of occasions. Most of the time, he visited New York, and he almost always stayed in the Northeast. He phrased this carefully, nodding at the Brazilian when Jorge finally came downstairs. Jaime, it appeared, had Apparated back home to care for his ailing grandparents. Charlie had expected to lose him this summer, anyway, which is why he brought Prue into the fray as more than a tagalong.

“Morning.” Jorge went over to get coffee and brushed his finger on Prue’s neck.

“So, what you’re saying,” said Prue, tucking into her breakfast when Jorge sat down and Rolf filled him in hurried Portuguese, “is that Isolt might’ve wanted to connect the dots and she ventured into what she didn't know?”

“Yes,” said Rolf slowly, sounding like he didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. He readily admitted he didn’t know enough about Native American history to back this up. True, they had all picked a mythical creature, but it read differently on paper.

“And it’s all right because some girl didn't know. Ignorance is bliss. That sort of thing?” Prue set down her fork, feeling a little nauseous, lost her appetite, and she openly said she wasn’t calling the founder of Ilvermorny a racist witch. There was Native American magic, and the young woman, a girl, had remained clueless about the world and the culture about her. And she built the school on the wrong foundation.

“No, no!” Rolf appealed to the others for help where none came. He was surrounded by two fellow former Hogwarts students and a former student of Castelbruxo, the magical school in the South American rainforest. He cleared his throat and placed the conversation on pause. He lowered his voice. “If it makes you feel any better, there are aspects of Hogwarts that are glossed over in Hogwarts, A History, although the house-elves readily serve wizardkind, they keep the castle running.”

Prue felt as though she matched him here. She was no historian, but she knew the history of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry like she knew the back of her hand. House-elves were free in the United States thanks to the Magical Constitution. Slavery was illegal since the 1800’s thanks to the Thirteenth Amendment; slavery and involuntary servitude were against the law. The Pukwudgie was a humanoid, grayish creature, but it had never been forced into servitude. The house-elves and the goblins had been the real ones freed under that amendment. The Pukwudgie, a grumbler to rival the grumpiest of old men, stayed in a state of malcontent.

“What’re you saying?” asked Charlie, eyeing Prue. History bored him, but he often said she told it like an interesting story. Prue went to the counter and asked the landlord for a Nausea Nox, a simple potion to take away her queasiness. “No more drinking for you.”

“I don’t drink,” said Prue, leaving Galleons on the bar and paying for her coffee. Luna said she needed more than a brew on an upset stomach, so the landlord gave her scones and fruit in a bag. They thanked the landlord and left. When they Apparated to the dragon's den, the sanctuary, she felt worse, and steadied herself in Jorge’s arms. Before she got ill.

“Oh, my. What is this?” Charlie cleaned up the sick after he stepped over it. The leader of the group, he was rather fastidious about his territory. He laughed heartily, following the Scamanders into the cloaked area. Whilst there were many dragons here, Charlie focused on Welsh Greens, the Romanian Longhorns, and Hungarian Horntails. His voice trailed off as he went further into the encampment. “Don’t tell me you’re pregnant, Proctor.”

“No, no. I’m fine.” The joke didn't sound too funny once she said it.

Prue’s eyes got as big as saucers. She followed them into the encampment, but a certain hobo filled her thoughts. As a historian, dragons were more of a hobby, an interest, but she’d gotten accepted into the program as a helping hand. This was her sixth year in the trenches, and she refused to show any signs of weakness. She’d been here since June and needed to head back in two weeks to see if she got the position.

Jorge gave her a quizzical look. “Are you …?”

“No, no.” She gave him the same answer.

Prue stopped, as she counted back and walked through the encampment. She kept a pocket-sized calendar with these details, and she couldn't remember. They released the Welsh Greens, calmer creatures that preferred to hunt sheep and other livestock instead of humans.

Jorge, a specialist with Peruvian Vipertooths, disappeared into another arena. The more she thought about it, and despite the workload, she had a lot of free time on her hands, the pieces fell into place. She’d had a heated summer fling. It had started out as nothing, a flirtatious joke, yet they shared a bed whenever summer rolled around.

She went to help Luna and Rolf with the Hungarian Horntail nests. She didn't look either of them in the eye, for this was too embarrassing. Teen pregnancy didn’t happen too often at Ilvermorny School, but wouldn’t this be quite the scandal to bring back home? She was unmarried, and whatever Prue did was her business, but what if this wasn't her call anymore? The school owned her.

“You missed an owl earlier this morning,” said Luna serenely, handing her an envelope with the Ilvermorny crest. Prue stared at it like it was a Howler. “It’s rather like you’re eleven years old again, isn't it?” 

The reason the four Houses scared Prudence was because it insulted the Native American cultures; it was more than one direct hit. Whether intentional or no, it was enough that No-Maj schools were not allowing the Native Americans to speak their own tongues. Many of them lived on reservations, but the languages were dying out. A lot of the Native American wizarding students had pulled out because the school symbols were a slap in the face. Would the magic die out like the cloistered language? 

“Thank you.” Prudence ripped open the envelope and read through the correspondence. The tears came out of nowhere and she took off from the sanctuary. She felt confined, claustrophobic, and the world weighed down on her shoulders. Luna followed her. “I can’t … I can’t…”

She slipped on the precipice, and Luna caught her and held her back. Jorge conjured a brown paper bag and handed it over. How in the world had he Apparated to her side so quickly? They were friends, close friends, but he’d be gone once autumn came.

“Breathe,” he said, nodding when she sat down and breathed into the sandwich bag. In and out … in and out. A Muggle-born, Jorge liked his Muggle remedies and claimed there was a simple solution for almost anything. Over the years, he’d stayed by Charlie Weasley’s and Rolf Scamander’s side, and he’d picked up English along the way. Prue nodded, following his patient instructions. “In and out. It’ll be all right.” 

Prue lowered the bag and watched a pair of Welsh Greens devour some ewes.

“Is it good or bad news?” Luna took the letter when Prue handed it over. Prue laughed so hard she cried. Luna, confused, smiled at her. “You’re headmistress. That’s wonderful news! Why are you crying? Why is she crying?” 

Luna turned to Jorge, completely lost. Jorge shrugged and patted Prue on the back. Not wanting anyone else to follow them, Luna suggested they take a walk around the encampment. A Welsh Green left a burning carcass in a nearby field. Prue didn't know how to say this and not have Jorge Bello-Ríos, a blessed free spirit, not running back towards the Amazon and his wonderful Rio de Janeiro. She took the tissue Luna handed her; she tore it to shreds.

“Remember I told you the Healer told me I’m sterile, and we have nothing to worry about?” She kicked a rock on the terrain and picked another one up, weighing it in her hand.

Luna had known she was barren the first year Prue took this assignment. Luna covered her mouth; she understood before Jorge. Jorge nodded. Angry and afraid, Prue threw the rock. She hated Charlie for planting this seed in her head just this morning. She blinked furiously. The summer had passed in a lot of sex and adventure, and she wasn't exactly a stranger in Jorge’s bed.

“Yeah, er, that might not be entirely true. I’m not sure, but I … I think …”

Prue fought to gather herself and barely managed it. Jorge, a flat nosed, muscly man, raised his large hands in a gesture of surrender and walked back towards the sanctuary. She didn’t bother calling after him. Luna called after her, but what was the point? It might’ve been easier if she had been alone with Jorge. In fact, especially since she didn't know anything about this, it might’ve been easier if she kept her mouth shut. She had three days left on assignment, but there were other concerns on her mind.

She Disapparrated. Before the others returned for dinner, she left a note for Charlie and another in broken Portuguese for Jorge. She fled.

Funnily enough, things that people ran away from had an odd way of catching up with them. Prue contemplated this as she watched the snow fall at Mount Greylock. Three months in the school year were gone, and she had no plans for Christmas. As this was her first year as headmistress, she wanted to stay at Ilvermorny Castle and continue to ignore what was right in front of her face. Her suspicion grew into something more.

As she was both in the circle and out of it, Prue caught wind of news. It wasn't much, bits and pieces, but it was enough. Charlie wouldn't have shut her out because she'd bound herself to no contract because Prudence had responsibilities after summer came to an end. She stood in Jaime Flores's place, yet she was no Jaime. This stuff happened all the time, more often thsn people would think. Dragon hsndlers, experts as they were, could not trsin their beasts and often got attacked. One of the Peruvian Vipertooths, the most difficult, got a hold of its handler the other day, so this meant either Jaime or Jorge paid the price.

She hadn't slept well for three days since receiving that owl.

There was a knock on her office door. Prue put down the quill and got to her feet.

“Come in,” she said.

William the Pukwudgie led in a pair of students by their ears. Since Rappaport’s Law had been lifted fifty years ago, the students got to travel with their wands off of the grounds; it was privilege they all took for granted. On the last day of the winter term, some senior students took the Unofficial Senior Skip Day; this was a tradition, and there was an actual Senior Skip Day in the beginning of June, but some of the students liked taking two bites of the apple; they let senioritis, the disease where the upper level students let the power go to their heads, take over.

“Mr. Micah Keats and Mr. Jaime Steward,” she said, smiling as she closed a roster and stood in front of her desk. Jaime, the cocky one who reminded Prue irresistibly of Jaime Flores, the other Brazilian brother, grinned at her until William the Pukwudgie bowed him hard in the shin.

“Ouch,” said Micah, groaning when William returned the favor and bowed him, too. Micah, bent double, winced as William tightened his hold on his ear.

“Ass. The reason you’ve got these big ears,” said William, leaning in closer as Micah winced. “It ain’t your daddy you’ve got to thank for them, boy, that’s me.”

“William. Thank you.” Prue smiled at him until he backed out and left her with her students, grumbling all the way out. Prue conjured a couple chairs and asked them to sit. Neither of them did, so she settled for setting her wand on her desk and brushing the wrinkles out of her navy blue robes. She spoke softly, opening a crystal container and helping herself to a peppermint. “Gentlemen, I don't want to send an owl to your parents the day before the Christmas holidays. Come on.”

“Miss Proctor, we wouldn’t want that either,” said Jaime, jumping on the opportunity to get out of this. He ran a hand through his dark hair and nudged his fat friend, Micah.

“No. Not cool.” Micah caught on after a minute or so and added, genial as always, “What’s up, Miss Proctor?”

“What’s up, Micah?” Prue returned his greeting, smiling at him.

She dragged this out. She’d had this whole spiel prepared, for it was obvious some students would take advantage of the new headmistress. For a History of Magic teacher, she’d gained a reputation as a cool professor; she made history come alive on the pages; they sometimes played pivotal moments out. Micah and Jaime had been in her classroom for six years; she was hard not to like, and she used this to her advantage.

“Miss Proctor,” said Jaime, waiting for her to look up. She did not. He whistled, inventing a wild excuse on the spot. “Okay. See, there was an emergency … my grandmother …”

“Don’t tell me she died again,” said Prue, crossing her legs and swallowing the candy. Micah snickered. “Shall I write her, Mr. Steward? I wouldn't want you locked away for Christmas, but if you insist …”

She snapped her fingers and a notepad and a quill appeared there.

“Wait. Don’t. My grandmother’s fine. We … we were skipping,” said Jaime lamely, no longer grinning. Prue feigned surprise and set her notepad down. Jaime went out like a candle and he sat down in one of the chairs. He pointed at the closed office door. “Okay, yeah, well, Mr. Todd is boring. Really boring. He’s not you.”

"Preach," said Micah, seconding this assessment.

“Micah, nobody’s me. And Jamie. But … you can’t be stupid in your senior year because it’s crucial! How many times must we go through this?” Prue ran a hand through her hair and calmed herself with a few deep breaths. They knew better, and this was infuriating because they were the best and the brightest in their year! “Micah, how badly do you want to be an Auror? I’ll get you there, I will.”

“I know,” said Micah, shuffling his feet. He lapped up the guilt.

“But you have got give me an inch! You want to throw this away on a what? An afternoon off the grounds? Why?” Neither of them answered her, and she took this as good enough. “And James? You want to be a Healer? Is this responsible, Jaime? Is this worth it? Answer me!”

“No, ma’am,” they said together, avoiding her gaze.

“We all do stupid stuff in the moment. Believe me when I tell you I get it.” Prue rested her hand on her belly and told them to go. She’d let this one slide. She started crying for Mercy Lewis knows what reason, losing her fight, and both of the boys exchanged awkward, puzzled looks. She grabbed some Kleenex and blew her nose. Her tone faltered. “Just go, please. Merry Christmas.”

Jaime doubled back, taking his win. “Congratulations, ma’am.”

“Thank you,” she said meekly, watching them go.

She hadn’t publicly released any statement, but she guessed her secret was hard to miss nowadays. When there was another knock on the door, she tossed the Kleenex in the wastebasket and readied herself for the next round of over zealous seniors. There needed to be a potion against this senioritis madness. Prue cracked her neck and cleared her throat.

She gave the same invitation. “Come in.”

A house-elf dressed in casual dress led a man into her office. It wasn't everyday a Brazilian walked into Ilvermorny Castle, and she had no idea how he'd found the place. Jorge wore simple black dress robes and handed her a bouquet of vibrant orange and yellow tipped flowers. Heliconia. Prue blushed. The house-elf chuckled, muttering that this answered a question they had in the kitchens, and left.

The door locked itself. “Sr. Bello-Ríos.” 

Prue didn't know what she was going to say to him, but he kissed her the moment she got his name out. Prue, forgetting herself, melted at his touch and closed her eyes, running her fingers through his thick locks. Next moment, she shook her head and backed away from him. She unconsciously wiped the nonexistent wrinkles out of her robes and sat behind her desk. She conjured a crystal vase from the cupboard and filled it with water before she added the heliconia.

Jorge sat down. The side of his face resembled charred hamburger meat.

“These are beautiful.”

“You are.” Jorge stopped for a moment, letting her know he hadn't misunderstood her. Not knowing what else to say, he told her the heliconia were native to the rainforest, and he smiled when she said he’d told her this once before. He rubbed his arms and made a good show of shivering. “It’s cold here.”

“It’s winter.” Prue pointed her wand at the fireplace, and sat back when flames erupted there. She tapped her desk and two mugs of hot chocolate appeared there. They had soft peppermint sticks for stirring. Jorge took one and left it on the desk. He laughed at her as she drank hers and rubbed his upper lip. She wiped the whipped cream off and licked her finger. “What?”

“Nothing. That’s not hot chocolate, but you’re enjoying it,” said Jorge. Whenever Prue got a hankering, she definitely went to town on this stuff. She said it was the best part about Christmas and only stopped when he lifted a finger. “Two things. Coffee and spice. A little. Not a lot.”

“Hot chocolate in summertime? In the rainforest?” Prue shook her head, not believing him. Jorge claimed she’d never been there, and yes, there was always hot chocolate on Christmas Day. She didn't know how long the small talk would last, but she wanted him to stay. When she asked the house-elf to serve her dinner in the office, he obliged, saying the students were headed home. They were served pork loin and roasted vegetables. “How are the others?”

“They’re fine.” Jorge said grace silently before eating and cleared his throat when she waited for him. “You must be starving. How are you feeling?” 

“Pregnant.” She felt so relieved that she could share this with someone that his hurt expression distracted her. Of course, she said it was pretty obvious and she couldn’t hide it anymore. "Forget about me, Jorge. How's your face?"

“I left you,” he said, ashamed. He grimaced a liittle, and she could tell the slightest facial movements pained him. Jorge put on a smile. "I'll live. I figured you'd heard ... so I came."

“Thank you. And it's fine. I, er, I’m over it. You’re not ready … and I am. Technically, I left you, so you're off the hook. This is a gift.” She squeezed his hand reassuringly. There hadn’t been a word, not an owl since they’d parted ways at the sanctuary. She wanted to clear the air. Prue didn't know whether she’d head back to Romania, and there was little doubt in her mind that the gang remained ignorant. “Charlie keeps sending me care packages. That’s strange.”

“Charlie cares for his people, Prudence,” said Jorge. “It’s Charlie.”

“How old are you?” How had she not asked this in the all this time? As she said it, a slew of unanswered questions filled her mind and spilled out uncontrollably like word vomit. “Do you have any other children? In case she asks, you know, I want to know your full name. Where were you born? Did you … love me?” 

The last question was a hard one.

“It’s a girl?”


“Ah, good. Of course. Well, I’m forty-one.” Jorge got comfortable and tucked into his food. “Charlie and I share the same birthday. You know this.”

“Tomorrow. December twelfth.” She fed him the answer and returned his smile.

"Yes. Back to your questions." Jorge shifted in his chair, sipping the hot chocolate to amuse her; he didn't like it. "I have no other children, and although you didn't ask, I will tell you I've never been married. My name is Jorge Altair Giancarlo Bello-Rìos. It's a proper Portuguese name; Giancarlo is my mother's maiden name. I was born in Rio de Janeiro. And, yes, I love you. I thought that was a given."

Prue stared at him, speechless for a while. Jorge shrugged, nonchalant.

"You are unfair," he said, shaking his head sadly. Prue left the partially dissolved peppermint stick in the mug. "My turn. Why did you leave?"

"Jorge. I don't... you walked away. You weren't ready."

"You decided that. I said nothing!" Angered for the first time since she'd known him, Jorge stormed around, positively raving in Portuguese; Prue didn't understand a word and stood, frightened to interrupt him. Jorge gestured at her, all of her, and she guessed he spoke about the baby. A few of the words were close to English. There was a knock on the door, and Jorge, annoyed, caught up in his ranting, shouted, "I need a moment!"

Prue shushed him, glaring at the door. "You can't do that."

When she opened the door, a hastily wrapped gift was there. It was from William the Pukwudgie. He was no longer there. William, an agèd Pukwudgie who had been around since the beginning of time, had a softer side, though he put on a front as the grumpiest of the Pukwudgies, and he'd liked Prue since she was a student here. The beginning of time thing was a bit of an exaggeration, but he'd been at the school for a long time.

The wrappings fell away, and she hugged a pink crocheted blanket.

"You deserved to have a say," she said, folding the blanket. "I took that away, and I'm sorry. I was afraid. This ... this wasn't supposed to happen."

"I was afraid, too, but I'm here. And thank you." He nodded at the blanket. "How do you know it's a girl?"

"I...I don't." She lied, which did her no good because she confessed a moment later. "You're going to think I'm insane."

"Practical Prue? No." He smiled, taking Jaime's chair; the laughed off the whole soothsayer thing. Prue walked over, took his hand and moved it above her navel; she asked if he felt it. Jorge frowned. "No. When did this happen?"

"June. That's the Healer's guess, and she doesn't know why. It just happened, so I stopped asking questions. It doesn't really matter." Prue climbed a winding staircase up to her bedroom and changed into her night things. When she poked her head out, Jorge stood there like a dutiful schoolboy, so she beckoned to him. "Nothing's going to happen, Sr. Bello-Rìos. We're not children."

"Change again, minha flor, you're not old yet," he said, shaking his head and declining the invitation.

Prue rolled her eyes and flicked her wand. A set of deep, rich people maternity robes replaced her nightgown and house robe. He nodded, patiently waiting for her to do her hair again and put on makeup. She stepped into heels and alerted the Deputy Headmistress before following Jorge onto the snowy grounds. She giggled, pulled along by him, and waved at a few students. He tucked to end of her single French braid playfully, completely comfortable with himself, and pointed his wand at her hand. A plain golden band appeared there.

Prue glared at him, punching him in the arm when he dropped on one knee. The Pukwudgies and some of the milling students zeroed in. William, she suspected, sulked in his humiliation of human affection as he stood by the statues of Isolt Sayre and John Steward, the founders of the school.

Jorge turned her head and held her hands. "Marry me, minha flor*."

Prue turned her head, immediately honed in on Micah and shook her finger. She didn't catch him at anything yet, but Prue packed away her telling off for a rainy day. When she muttered a quiet "Yes," ready to drop dead from embarrassment, an elated Jorge dipped her like they performed a waltz, and kissed her passionately. She stroked his face, the injured left side, and kissed it. He sighed. No simple burning paste would heal this wound, for it would take time. Jorge didn't pull away.

"You owe me a story," she said softly.

"Oh. Yeah. The bookish historiicans like those." Jorge snortted, grabbing her by the wrist when she shook her head. He stole another kiss.

Micah wolf-whistled with a handful of his friends. Still looking at Jorge, she wagged her finger at him disapprovingly again. She straightened up, walked with him hand-in-hand to the outer boundaries, and they Disapparated.

"Where are we?"

Prue froze and gripped Jorge's hand tighter as she noticed they stood outside the Woolworth Building. He led her up the stairs without a care in the world. The guard at the entrance saluted her when Prue said she was Headmistress of Ilvermorny School; she presented her wand as evidence when they got inside. There was a shift and MACUSA revealed itself. Even though it was a late hour, a house-elf stood with a feather duster apparatus and a bellhop goblin greeted them at the elevator.

"Got a wand permit?" asked the goblin, inclining his head towards Jorge. Jorge, worried for the first time, shook his head. The goblin didn't seem to care one way or the other; he struck up conversation as he pressed a button. The elevator ascended. "Ooops. Wand Permit Office won't be happy. Where you from?"

"Rio de Janeiro," answered Jorge promptly, pulling Prue closer though there was nobody else in the elevator.

"Rio. Cool," said the goblin.

The goblin grinned toothily and waved when the elevator doors opened. They waited outside the conference room, though Prue had no idea where they were going, but another goblin led them into a large conference room. Prue, thinking they ought to had at least sent an owl ahead, froze when she saw a beefy man in pinstriped robes. They stood in front of the President of MACUSA, Samuel Quahog. He wore rectangular glasses and walked with a slight limp. He sat with a small council.

"Mr. Quahog," said Prue, not knowing why her mind immediately jumped to this conclusion. "Rappaport's Law was repealed fifty years ago. He isn't my husband...but we intend to marry ..."

"Solidarity," roared Mr. Quahog, raising his fist in the air. He looked like he couldn't care less, but he got the friendly smile he wanted from Jorge. He rested his large hands over his bulk and got comfortable in his expensive leather chair. He checked his watch, apologized more moving this meeting down the agenda for the day. "But we squeezed you in, and you received the owl, so no harm done."

Prue looked at the committee like they were lunatics. What owl? She hadn't requested a meeting with anyone in the government: Prue avoided the government like the plague. She noticed a few justices from the Magistrate Supreme Court because they wore navy blue dress robes, but that's about all she understood. President Quahog pushed a thick envelope towards her. She sat down and flipped through a detailed, exhaustive proposal to address the Native American community.

They needed more than a sorry to wipe the slate clean. And with the changing of the guard up at the school, even though she recognized the research as her own, she hadn't had the time of day to address this. President Quahog's press secretary asked if this was truly her work, and she held up a finger to silence him.

"Not your school, Miss Proctor," said President Quahog, his body shaking in laughter.

"Footnote on the back," whispered Jorge in her ear.

"Why the hell would a footnote be on the back? That's ridiculous!" She snapped at him, but Prue turned the final pages of the document over nonetheless. She fingered the paper as Jorge waved his wand over it lazily.

A note appeared in a fine scrawl:

For the American girl who lives for history righting itself. Not necessarily repeating itself. Your friends in Romania thought you needed a gentle push to turn into a quickened shove. You laid the foundation, Miss Proctor, we merely laid the groundwork. Take a breath and take your first step. Hope your dragon egg is doing well.

-Charlie & Co.

PS. You stole my man. I'd like him back one day, please and thank you.
PPS. You're still the nerd, Proctor. Scamander concedes defeat

Prue gave a shaky chuckle and then she burst out crying. Jorge, rolling his eyes, fished a handkerchief out of his robes and handed it to her. He muttered something about pregnancy brain to the committee. He erased the message scrawled in invisible ink when the committee gave her a moment to gather herself. For the next half hour, Prue paced up and down the conference room as she presented her argument for appealing to the Native Americans.

"Magic is stronger together," she said, nodding at President Quahog, a Native American chief who got into office on a prayer. "And we are forever indebted to those who came first. We owe them an apology. We have a chance."

"I like you," said President Quahog, a former representative for MACUSA. He clapped, giving her a crinkly-eyed smile. "But your feet must be killing you, Miss Proctor. Do sit down."

She thanked him, breathing a huge sigh of relief. MACUSA added this to the itinerary for session in the following year. It would be placed to vote and hopefully be set in motion. The meeting adjourned and they all headed home. After paying a hefty fine at the Wand Permit Office for Jorge, she kissed him good night in the corridor.

"I'll pay you back," he promised. "Three hundred Galleons? That's a lot."

"Dragots. Yeah, that's pretty steep, but who cares? Don't worry about it. What's mine is yours, what's ... it's whatever." She waved it away, for she couldn't remember the old saying. They called it a birthday present, and she threw her arms around his neck. He pressed his lips to her forehead, saying he still had to go. He didn't even have a fake Muggle passport; Jorge broke the law. A collection of world clocks along the wall announced the hour; it was midnight on the East Coast. "You're forty-two, Sr. Bello-Rìos. How're you going to celebrate?"

"I don't know, future Sra. Bello-Rìos, but I'm sure Charlie will send photographs by owl."

Promising to give her best to the gang, he walked with her outside the Woolworth Building and kissed her hand. He conjured flowers again, yellow roses, telling her they'd meet again. And he Disapparated. She smiled, smelling the roses, and felt pleased this friendship lead to something more.

On Easter Sunday, Prudence cursed them all to hell. She didn't want to leave the school, insisting she could wait this out, as she'd paced her bedroom for hours and hours since Thursday afternoon, but time caught up with her, and Prue ended up in the hospital wing at school. Usually the student with the Quodpot injury would've bothered her, but common sense went out the window a few hours ago.

"Where the hell have you been?" She shot at Jorge as he walked into the wing. He rushed over to her side and relieved the attending nurse a little. Jorge gave an apology she didn't even hear. She cried out in bloody murder as the pains took her again. "I hate you, Bello-Rìos, I hate your mother for having you!"

"I missed you, too," said Jorge, running his fingers through her soaked hair. "You're beautiful. It's Easter."

"Damn you to hell!" She softened when he said that crossed a line. The nearby student laughed.

"And rest. Very good." The nurse rested her hands on Prue's legs and answered Jorge's slew of fretful questions. Yes, she did a rotation on maternity at the Massachusetts hospital. No, she'd never delivered a baby up at the school, so this was a first for all of them, and she hoped to never do it again. Prue had stubbornly waited out the clock. After a few minutes, she did things in quick procession and attended to the baby at a makeshift station. "It's a girl. Look at that hair."

"A girl. We have a girl," said Jorge, switching to Portuguese and wiping tears from his eyes.

"What's he saying?" The nurse still had her back turned.

"I don't know," said Prue, counting the seconds as they passed. "Why isn't she crying? Isn't she supposed to be crying? What's wrong with her?"

"Wait for it. Nothing, momma, we're fine." After she finished her work, the nurse wrapped the bundle and handed her over when she screamed. She laid the baby on Prue's chest. It was a dark-skinned thing with curly locks. The nurse congratulated them and adjusted the curtains around them as she bustled off to check her other charges.

Jorge's native language rolled off the tongue as he picked up the baby after Prue said hello. The newborn fussed a little, but he shushed her, and it was hard to believe this gentle soul handled Peruvian Vipertooths deep in the Amazon rainforest. She felt dazed, not believing this child was hers. She insisted on learning Portuguese, since Jorge spilled the beans like an old lady in a spinning circle. He nodded, resting the baby's head on his shoulder.

"He's chatty," said the nurse, coming back around and adjusting Prue's pillows. "Attractive. You know any other rainforest men? Because he's taken."

"Shame." Prue accepted a cup of ice water and suggested Jaime Flores. "He drinks ... he drinks a lot when he celebrates. He's a younger version of Jorge, his cousin, but he's a playboy at heart."

"Nah. I'm good." The nurse cast a spell and towels and linens folded themselves. She explained she'd sent an owl ahead to have them transferred to Mass Memorial, simply to make sure everything was all right. She smiled when Jorge, who was instantly in love with his daughter, sauntered back over to them. The nurse said Prue was one lucky woman. Jorge placed their girl in Prue's arms. "What're we calling her?"

Prue turned to Jorge; it sounded better when he said it. Jorge called her the quintessential American. "She's American."

"Brazilian-American, Prudence, please," said Jorge, rolling his eyes. He sat down and offered her the crocheted pink blanket. The nurse suggested they discuss her magical education, but they'd cross that bridge when they got to it. "Not yet. Please. This is Paloma Raquel Proctor Bello-Rìos."

The nurse nodded, saying she hoped the baby never had to sign a bank note. Jorge explained the naming structure to her, but she didn't quite get it. Prue would be out for the rest of the school year and looked forward to the summer, though she doubted she'd she any dragons this year. When they got outside, Prue sat up straighter in the wooden wheelchair, and waved old William over.

"She's a chubby potato." Old William snapped his fingers and conjured a crocheted cap that matched his blanket and placed it over Paloma's locks. He made a face when Prue went back on her favorite topic.

"Were you this gentle with Isolt and James's children?" she asked.

"Miss Proctor, we've been through this over, and over, and over. In order for me to be that William ... that's a common name, yes? William?" The Pukwudgie waited patiently for her to nod and mirrored the gesture. "In order for me to be that William, I'd have to be over three hundred. Can I really be that William?"

"I don't know. Can I be a descendant of Salem Village's John Proctor?"

"I don't know and I don't care!" The Pukwudgie jammed his spade into the earth, his patience spent. "I'm not that William, Miss Proctor, and you know it!"

"I do not know it. See you in a few months, William the Pukwudgie." Prue smiled when he called her Prudence and insisted he tired of her games. Maybe he'd quit. What the hell did she know? Maybe, just maybe, all the Pukwudgies would quit because none of them liked it here anyway. Yeah, then she’d have a problem on her hands, yeah. (They did this every year and threatened to leave Ilvermorny Castle, yet they kept coming back.) Prue waved at him with the baby's little arm and said she'd see him around.

"Miss Prudence," he said, turning back to his landscaping. Jorge turned her around and checked his watch. William, always one to have the last word said, quite audibly under his breath. "The baby looks nothing like you, and that's a good thing because it's squishier and cuter! I don't even like you!"

“Uh huh.”

“This happiness? This blissful whatever it is? It’ll wear off.” William stomped his foot and muttered his begrudged congratulations.

"Uh huh, and thank you,” she said again, swept up by her daughter, no longer listening to William the Pukwudgie. There was a faint pop.

Jorge stared at it, amazed, he did a double take, shocked. "I think that thing winked at me before it Disapparated!"


*Since the small details needeth an explanation , the term "mihna flor" is a Brazilian term of endearment roughly translated to "My flower."

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