The Second Station Stop
Disillusioned, standing out of the way against the wall, Queenie waited in the Entering Chamber for Elizabeth to apparate in for her weekly parole interrogation. Soon she would know how Maitland would react to Elizabeth moving into the Hotel Bellaclaire where she was doing the laundry for both the hotel and the residents. She entered Elizabeth’s mind as soon as she saw her apparate into the Entering Chamber with her son Calvin. When Elizabeth left to meet with Maitland, Queenie waited a moment to assure herself that the Entering Chamber was empty before she made manifest her physical self and walked back to her desk.
At her desk, Queenie followed Elizabeth as she walked down the hall. She was nervous about what Maitland’s reaction would be to her moving into the Hotel Bellaclaire where she took washing. She walk through the door to Maitland’s office without knocking. Queenie saw the satisfaction she experienced when Maitland reacted angrily as she entered unannounced.
“In the future you will knock, announce yourself, and wait until you are summoned.”
“I was summoned,” she said. “I was summoned by you to be here at this time. I am here at the appointed time. Drop the power play. Give me the veritas serum; let’s get on with this. I have work to do and Calvin does not like it here; he’s afraid of you. Your threatening manner when he first saw you ensured he would not like you.”
“You would be well advised to adopt a less aggressive attitude,” said Maitland threateningly. “Things will go much smoother if you do.”
“You want me to appear subdued before your implied threats,” replied Elizabeth defiantly. “I will not be intimidated by you. The veritas serum—please.”
Queenie saw that Elizabeth noticed Panty shifting uneasily in his chair. Maitland brought out a vial of some liquid. Elizabeth placed a piece of paper on his desk. “Accio vial,” she said, taking the vial from Maitland’s hand. Catching the vial, she put a few drops on the paper, stirred the droplets with the tip of her wand, and read the words that appeared on the paper, “ ‘Veritas serum,’ Ok, we can begin.”
Queenie was surprised. Elizabeth had used a revealing charm on the serum to write on the paper which must have be like the paper the wand examiners used to record the results of the prior incantato spell. She was very competent as Jacob had said—more competent than she had suspected.
She administered the veritas serum herself.
“You may begin,” she said.
It was Panty who asked, “Why did you test the veritas serum?”
“I don’t trust you, either of you,” she answered. “I don’t trust the MACUSA. Continue please.”
“Where are you working?” asked Maitland harshly, determined to not let her know that he already knew—that he was tracking and watching her.
“I am taking in laundry for the Hotel Bellaclaire,” she answered plainly with no elaboration.
“That’s a no-mag hotel,” exclaimed Maitland. “You will stop this.”
“I will not!” said Elizabeth. “I have spent over 15 years shielding my magic from the no-mags in whose world I chose to live. I didn’t just hide from you wizarding predators, I hid from everyone.
“I know what I am doing. You don’t. I have created a secure cleaning room in the basement of the building where none of the no-mags ever see my cleaning methods and seldom see me. I have built a wall of clothes hampers, much like the no-mag postoffice mail boxes only larger, where the hotel maids can place the dirty laundry in a hamper dedicated to one resident. I mark the clothes, clean them, package them, and return them to the hamper where the maids will pick them up for delivery to the residents. I have separate hampers for hotel linens. I have even created a false wall in the cleaning room and expanded the space between it and the real wall to create an apartment suite for myself and all of my children when they leave Ilvermorny for the summer. This has the advantage of not only allowing me to come and go without alerting the no-mags but also not costing me the rent that the MACUSA charges for my assigned quarters. Which I might add is rather excessive. I have stopped paying that rent.”
“You are not permitted to change your residence,” said Maitland. “You will move back and make application for a change of residence.”
“I—will—not!” she emphasized. “You know nothing. I will not be driven into poverty because of your insatiable lust for power—your desire to lord that power over me. I have complied with your demands that I not contact my husband. You assured me that he would remain alive and well, albeit without any memory of us, as long as I remained away from him—I have.
“I intend to do what I must to ensure that my children grow up with only the sadness of the sudden death of their father. Time will ease their pain. I will not let you pour salt into their wounds. I will not have them grow up in poverty. Obeying your every whim is not part of what I agreed to.
“You have not asked, but I will tell you. I engage with the no-mags because I can hide from them that I am a witch. Their bigotry will not affect me. The bigotry of witches and wizards is something that I cannot shield against. It is that bigotry that would drive me into poverty. I will not allow you to do that. I will protect my children, and by staying away protect my husband.
“I do nothing more than many witches and wizards do. There is simply not enough work in the magical community here in America to provide an acceptable income for all of us. As I said, you don’t know what you are doing.”
The interrogation continued along this vane with Elizabeth assertive and defiant. It was almost as if Elizabeth had not taken the veritas serum. When in school she had herself taken veritas serum in potions class, she had felt only distress; Elizabeth experienced no distress. Perhaps her willingness to be fearlessly truthful coupled with her anger allowed her to be so defiant without feeling the distress of resisting the veritas serum. She was not resisting the veritas serum. She was defiant but she did not resist the serum.
Elizabeth’s interrogation came to an end with Maitland asserting that an auror would check on her every day. As they moved to leave Maitland’s office, Queenie gathered an arm load of files she had held for this moment and timed her walk to Mr. Abernathy’s office so that she would be there when Elizabeth arrived with her escorts. She was about to leave when Maitland walked into the office, followed by Elizabeth and her son, followed by Panty.
“Oh, hello,” said Queenie as she left Elizabeth’s mind and entered Maitland’s. “Say, I know you. Don’t tell me. I will remember. Elizabeth, right? Your name is Elizabeth. Forgive me, but I don’t know your last name.”
“It’s Wohlfort,” said Elizabeth.
“I’m Queenie Goldstein, and I am pleased to meet you Elizabeth Wohlfort,” said Queenie. “And I assume this is your son. He looks a very fine young man.”
Queenie got from Maitland one new thought: If Calvin did not manifest himself as a wizard, he would have to obliviate Elizabeth’s memory and that of her other children of Calvin’s existence, and deliver Calvin to a no-mag orphanage.
“I must go now, but stop by on your way out. I brought pastries for the office. I am sure that your son would like one, or maybe one for now and one for later.”
“Thank you, Queenie,” she said. “We will.”
Before Queenie left she entered Panty’s mind, she saw through Panty’s mind Maitland say harshly to Elizabeth, “You had to tell her your last name. Don’t even think about telling this Queenie about your situation.”
“You’re an idiot. I’m still under the effects of the veritas serum,” replied Elizabeth. “I’m not a fool, I know what’s at stake and I know that you would like nothing better than to find some excuse, any excuse, to restrict me further. I know that you would think nothing of harming William more than you already have.
“Now, Mr. Abernathy, this is my wand. Do what you have to do so I can be out of here.”
Queenie did not have to follow Maitland. She knew what he wanted and she knew what she had to do to protect Elizabeth. Now she wanted to know what Panty was about. So after gushing over Elizabeth’s son Calvin and informing her that she always brought pastries on Tuesday and Thursday, and inviting her to visit whenever she came, Queenie, in Panty’s mind, followed him. Both he and Maitland had stayed to observe Elizabeth until she departed. Maitland appeared to go back to his office, while Panty headed to the elevators. Queenie knew where he was going. His excitement about being chosen to report to President Seraphina Picquery was so strong, she doubted that he could conceal it even through occlumency. She waited patiently for him to be summoned into Picquery’s office, and followed him in when he was finally summoned.
“Well Ruggero, how did her first interview go?” asked President Picquery.
“Elizabeth Wohlfort answered all questions while under the influence of the veritas serum,” said Panty. “However, she’s very angry, very defiant. I had never seen such hostility in a subject before.”
“Did she resist, try to lie?” asked Picquery.
“No, not at all,” said Panty. “But before we had given her the veritas serum, she had walked into the room without knocking or announcing herself. Maitland tried to reprimand her for not waiting to be summoned. She angrily replied that Maitland had summoned her and that she was here at the appointed time. She said, ‘I will not be intimidated by you. The veritas serum—please.’ The contempt in her voice was obvious. She took the vial from Maitland, put a few drops on a paper—she verified that it was veritas serum; then she administered it to herself.
“I asked her why she had tested it. She stated without hesitation that she did not trust us, that she did not trust the MACUSA.”
“And you say she was unable to resist the veritas serum?” asked Picquery.
“Yes, but she was angry, defiant, insulting,” said Panty. “I have made an auto-scribe recording. You can listen for yourself. I have never seen a subject respond the way she did.”
“Was there anything else, other than her defiance, that was out of the ordinary?” asked Picquery.
“No, nothing I can think of,” replied Panty. “Unless you count the fact that Goldstein was in Abernathy’s office when we arrived to examine her wand.”
“Goldstein—Goldstein was there! I thought she was in England. She did not notify us of her return.”
“Not the auror, Porpentina Goldstein,” said Panty. “Her sister, Queenie who works for Abernathy. She was leaving as we arrived.”
“Oh, that’s a relief; Queenie is of no consequence,” said Picquery. “Was anything said that would alert Queenie as to something being wrong?”
“No, Goldstein only partially remembered Wohlfort,” said Panty. “She remembered Elizabeth but not her last name. Maitland was angry that she told Goldstein her name. She replied that Maitland was an idiot as she was still under the influence of the veritas serum. When Wohlfort left, she stopped by Goldstein’s desk where she picked up a pastry for her son. It’s all on the auto-scribe.”
“No matter, Goldstein’s no possible threat,” said Picquery. “Maitland will have his way soon enough. As soon as all the children are together and away from Ilvermorny, I will have him obliviate all memories of their no-mag father. For them and her, he will not have existed.”
“I understand why it must be done,” said Panty. “I don’t understand why you haven’t done it already. Why don’t you just take the older children from school and be done with it?”
“The Headmaster and none of the teachers would cooperate,” she said. “Their opposition began not long after the passing of Rappaport’s Law. They would not allow children to be taken, and if they learned what we planed to do, they would warn the parents and assist them in evading us.”
“But there are the aurors,” said Panty. “You could force them to accept your orders.”
“It’s been tried many years ago with very poor results,” said Picquery. “The school’s protections were increased to protect against witches and wizards, in addition to discovery by the no-mags. Ilvermorny has the heaviest concentration of competent, powerful witches and wizards in America, perhaps in the world. A witch or wizard cannot enter or leave except through a magical gateway that must be opened for him.
“Maitland did not accompany you in when you took Elizabeth to tell her children that their father had been killed. An auror would have no place in this. His presence would betray our true interest, and our true intent, but an administrative assistant from the MACUSA would not alert them. We must maintain our deception for a few months longer. Wohlfort must not get outside assistance from those at Ilvermorny.
“The professors at Ilvermorny have never been cooperative with our efforts to enforce Rappaport’s Law. And, without assistance from Ilvermorny, we cannot know about children of no-mags who are attending.
“Toward the end of the last century, we created the Wand Permit Office so that we could examine wands to discover magic used that was not consistent with what might be expected of an unmarried witch or wizard. It is not a sure thing, but it helps to identify someone who might need watching. It narrows our pool of suspect miscreants.
“Even then, it is important to gain the cooperation of the subject until they can be gathered together. Of course, if there are no children at Ilvermorny, we just move ahead and obliviate all. The most important thing when children from Ilvermorny are involved is to get the wand out of the hand of the witch or wizard and convince him that the only way he can protect his children from being oblivated is by cooperating. But even this doesn’t always work. A few years ago, my predecessor found out the hard way. Three aurors ended up totally oblivated.”
“Alexandros Metaxas,” said Panty.
“Yes, you have certainly heard the rumors,” said Picquery. “What you do not know is that Metaxas must have interrogated the aurors before he obliviated them. We do not know for certain, but all the files relating to the Metaxas family have disappeared. We assume he stole them. He also obliviated the memory of those who knew anything about him and the operation against him—not the total obliviation of the aurors who obliviated his wife, but their memories of him and the operation. We have no idea of where he is now. The only reason we know anything about Metaxas is through piecing together what he missed. We knew something had happened because the three aurors were left with no memories. Even my predecessor had no memory of Metaxas and he certainly would have known.”
“But we are hunting him for what he did,” said Panty.
“That is Maitland’s fantasy,” said Picquery. “We keep that rumor active. It might help to keep him out of MACUSA territory, but no real effort is made to find him. There is too much to do without having to hunt a man who could be anywhere. Our efforts have focused on finding those marriages before the children attend Ilvermorny.
“This, you keep to yourself. Very few know this. We need the rumor to be believed.”
When Panty left the office of the president, he was thrilled that Picquery would entrust him with such a secret.
“So, Picquery thinks me of no consequence,” thought Queenie, remembering what she read in Jacob’s copy of The Art Of War. “She knows herself, but not her enemy—But I know you, Picquery, and I will not be in peril.”
Queenie had all she needed. She had to prepare to meet Elizabeth again before she left for her job at Slug and Jiggers. But, before she did, she had one loose end to tie up, one piece of information to gather.
Disillusioned, Queenie walked along a dark, seldom visited, corridor from which numerous half height doors led to clusters of rooms. She would have to stoop low to pass through. These were the elf quarters. She did not enter.
At the end of the corridor was magnificent large door made of glass and exotic woods. She could see Mowbray sitting at his desk which was on a raised podium. He was addressing several elves in white. It was all that she needed.
Looking directly at Mowbray, Queenie entered his mind. He was yelling at the cleaning elves over some complaint by some wizard who considered the effort of the elves inadequate. This was of no concern to her. She searched his memory for the information she wanted—information about his dealings with Gnarlak and where he kept the gold he got for those dealings. And just as Mr. Boveri kept a ledger of his extortion, so Mowbray kept a ledger of his back room dealings with Gnarlak. He was confident that his decoy safe would provide all the safeguard he needed against theft and that the gold in the legs of his desk would not be discovered. He had even left a few gold dragots in the safe to discourage further searching. He reveled in his trickery. The ledger was on a shelf among other books with similar covers. He had some serious protections on entering his house, but now she knew how to pass through.—Now, that was interesting, very interesting and very disgusting, she thought at the discovery of an endeavor she had not suspected. And all very precisely recorded in his ledger. She would do this again now that she was familiar with his mind.
When it was time to meet Elizabeth, Queenie apparated to her apartment. But before she did anything, she took the memories she had taken from Mowbray and put them into a pensieve. She then chose a middle aged, attractive although somewhat plump woman for her disguise and after disillusioning herself apparated to the hall outside Elizabeth’s laundry room. Opening the door with her wand, observing that the receiving room was empty, she entered, locked the door, and made herself visible. She unlocked the door that allowed her to pass behind the wall of individual hamper cabinets and walked in to find Elizabeth duplicating a shirt. She quickly turned with her wand in her hand to face Queenie.
“You shouldn’t be here,” said Elizabeth. “The manager assured me that I would not be disturbed while I worked. There is a bell outside if you needed to speak to me. Wait, how did you get past the locked door?”
She only noticed Queenie’s wand when she said, “Muffliato.”
Queenie who had entered her mind as soon as she saw her, said, “You need not fear. I am here to help protect you from those you do fear.”
“Who are you?” asked Elizabeth. “And what do you want?”
Answering her, Queenie said, “I am Mahalia Anderson. I am here to preserve your memories so that they can be restored if we fail. You are very angry, but I am not the one on whom you should focus your anger.”
Queenie placed her wand on the table and took from her shoulder purse one large and one not so large jar.
“I will preserve your memories in this pensieve I have created for you,” she said. “Your’s and your son’s. You know why. You already must suspect that Maitland isn’t going to play fair with you.”
“I do,” Elizabeth said. “I don’t trust him, I don’t trust any of them.”
“You are right to not trust them. They plan to obliviate your’s and each of your children’s memories so that none of you will have a memory of William.”
“What do you mean ‘if you fail?’ “ asked Elizabeth.
“If Maitland chooses to act before we can get you out of America to a safe location, we must be able to restore your memories so that when we do, you can start over with an undamaged mind.”
“Will you get Bill out too, so we can meet again for the first time?” asked Elizabeth.
“It’s done,” said Queenie. “We have preserved and restored Bill’s memories. He’s playing his part.”
“Can I see him?”
“No, you must not,” said Queenie. “If Maitland gets even a whiff of a suspicion that Bill is not thoroughly oblivated, he may change his methods. I cannot even guess what he might do to Bill. Right now, he is not observing or even considering Bill; he thinks Bill has been satisfactorily neutralized. You must not make any attempt to see Bill or discover what he is doing. If you do so, you could bring everything down on your heads.
“Maitland intends to grab you and your children as soon as they are home from school. George and Annie must know how important it is for them to always stay within the confines of Ilvermorny.
“Bill is fine; he remembers you and is already building a life for when you join him. You must stay away.”
Queenie saw in Elizabeths mind what she wanted—a strong fear that Maitland might do something worse than obliviate Bill and a strong determination to stay away from Bill.
She knew, but she asked, “Will you be visiting your children at Ilvermorny this weekend?”
“I will,” she said. “If the weather holds, we will have a picnic lunch and watch a quidditch match.”
“Good; now listen carefully,” said Queenie. “Even if the weather is not suitable for a picnic, take your children for a walk to the very tall solitary pine tree that is just east of the quidditch pitch. Do you know the one?”
“Yes I know it.”
“It is important that you come at noon,” said Queenie. “I will meet you there and save the memories of George and Annie. I won’t be able to do this often, but I must do it soon. I also must arrange for your passports under your new name. Visit every Saturday; make it a regular event so that Maitland will come to expect it as a pattern of action on your part. If he asks, tell him it is to reinforce the idea that William is dead and to comfort George and Annie. When I am ready, I will meet you at the pine.”
“I understand,” said Elizabeth.
Queenie then quickly poured first Elizabeth’s memories into her pensieve and then those of Calvin. With that done and after putting the two pensieves in her shoulder purse, still in Elizabeth’s mind, she isolated all her thoughts about the discussion except her strong emotions about not seeking Bill and the desire to take her children for a picnic lunch by the solitary pine and comfort them. She would remember Mahalia, but not expect to meet her.
Queenie excused herself, walked out into the receiving area of the laundry, disillusioned herself, took out the padlock, inserted and turned the appropriate key and portkeyed to the solitary pine east of the quidditch pitch. Unseen, she walked quickly and quietly to the castle that was Ilvermorny. The halls were empty as all were at lunch. She looked in and verified that the Headmaster was there. She entered his mind to search for what he knew about the Elizabeth and her problems with Maitland. She found what she wanted. The Headmaster knew—now she was certain. The Headmaster knew and would protect George and Annie. A turn of the key in the second padlock brought Queenie to spot on the mountain ridge, slightly above where she could see all of Ilvermorny. She paused to take in the view before she apparated home to prepare for an evening of potion making and the study of wandlore.
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