Do You Believe in Magic?

Claire Mendler, in a desperate attempt to save both herself and her mother, must become, well, Claire. Trying her hardest, it is decided that Claire will be safest in a very Hogwarts-esque American boarding school. Shee soon comes to the realization that she knows less about herself and her surroundings than she thinks...


1. Chapter 1

     Claire stood stock-still in front of the office supply shelf at Wal-Mart. She ogled the array of notebooks, each a different size and color. There was just something about a brand-new notebook. It was a blank slate. An adventure to be had. Her finger just grazed a beautiful green one when she snapped out of her trance.

     Stationery, she reminded herself. Mom wants me to get stationery.

     She recalled the previous evening with ease. She had been sitting on the plush carpet in her new living room. Her back was propped up against a box that had yet to be unpacked, watching a television set that lay on the floor in front of her. Her mother came in and sat, cross-legged, next to her. They sat quietly for a moment, but Claire knew what was coming to her. She was right.

     Finally her mother blurted out, "You'll write to me, won't you?"

     "Mom," she snipped. "It's boarding school, not the eighteenth century. I'm sure they'll have phones." To be quite honest, Claire wasn't sure why she was saying this. She was the type of girl who admired the intimacy of a hand-written letter. There just wasn't anything personal about a text or an e-mail. Maybe it was to comfort her mother; to keep up the strong front.

     "I know, I know," her mother cooed. "You know how I love a good letter though." Now bursting into tears, her mother choked, "And I need something to have when you can't talk on the phone!"

     Claire rubbed her mother's back, trying to soothe her. "I don't have to go, you know. I can always stay here. You need someone to help you unpack, don't you? We can both adjust to our new lives together."

     Coughing and wiping her face, Claire's mother regained her composure. "No, no. You know you can't stay here. It'll be much safer for you there."

     Claire knew her mother was right. She nodded.

     Starting again, Claire's mother began, "So, it's settled. You'll go and buy a nice set of stationery. None of those papers ripped out of one of your notebooks. I hate those frilly edges. They make a mess." Claire laughed.

     She wasn't laughing now though. In fact, she sighed. She took a step toward the stationery and stared at it. There weren't very many options. All of them had a letter at the top, each in a curly script. Instinctively, she reached for the one with a purple  'M' on the top with a fancy, swirly border. No! she thought, smacking her hand. Your name is Claire now. You can't be Maggie anymore. She quickly snatched the same stationery, but with a cobalt blue 'C' on the top, and left the aisle.

     She caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror in the cosmetics aisle and she stopped. Claire took inventory of her reflection. She had chapped lips and a normal enough nose. Her mother's wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. There were three freckles in the shape of a triangle at the corner of her left eye. She decided that maybe she looked like a Claire, but she definitely acted like a Maggie. She dressed plain, in a navy and white baseball tee and jeans. She had to now. Claire and her mother had to go to great lengths to go unnoticed. This didn't work too well at the register.

     Claire set her stationery down for the checker-boy to scan. He looked up and smiled at her. Her looked to be about her age, seventeen at the oldest. He had longish brown hair that swept over to the left and tanned skin. He was cute, she decided. He reminded her of one of the boys back in California. "That'll be five dollars and three cents, Miss...?" he told her, smiling again.

     She hesitated. She could probably get away with telling him her real name. She would be leaving this town soon enough. "M—" she started. "Claire." Claire knew she might never be safe enough to tell anyone.

     The boy laughed a little. "Are you sure?"

     She nodded.

     He held out his hand, "Zach," he told her.

     She shook it, "I know," she responded, looking pointedly at his nametag. Claire smiled sheepishly.

     He laughed again, "Right," he handed her her stationery in a plastic bag. "Well, it was very nice meeting you, Claire."

     Zach was flirting, she knew. She walked away, not feeling right about flirting back when she couldn't even tell him her name. She stood in front of the store, waiting for her mother to come get her. She reminded herself that she wouldn't be able to tell anyone her name. Not now, not ever. Not since that night.

     She remembered it more vibrantly than she could remember breakfast this morning. It had started out normal. Maggie got home from school, she did her homework, ate dinner, and went to bed. That's when the trouble started. Maggie was awoken by the feeling of cold metal on her throat. A knife. "Come quietly and I won't use it," a gruff voice told her. She nodded carefully, holding back tears. This had to be a nightmare. "Now, stand up slowly." he told her. She did. After her eyes had adjusted to the dark she saw the figure. It was a tall man with broad shoulders. He wore a ski mask and a black everything else. He tied her arms behind her back, taped her mouth and pushed her towards her bedroom door. She stumbled, but slowly made her way to where he directed her. A light was on in the living room, or maybe it was the kitchen. That's where they were headed.

     One lamp was on in the living room. Enough to see her mother's sobbing face, accompanied by another man, in the same apparel as the first, but shorter and wider. The men threw the two of them on the sofa. The first man stepped forward. "We covered your mouths so that we can talk and you can listen, and you're gonna listen, alright?" He didn't wait for an answer before continuing. "We're here to get some... reassurance," he told them.

     At this point, Maggie's eyes were trained on the handgun holstered on the man.

     "We wanna know that you won't send her." He continued, "You're not gonna send her to that school."

     Maggie's mother looked confused, as if to say, "Of course I'll send her to school. Why wouldn't I?"

     Now pointing at Maggie, he commanded, "And you won't go! You won't go even if she pays for it." He noticed where her attention was and reached for the gun, saying, "If you do, you'll wish I would've used this."

     That's when something funny happened. The gun slipped out of the holster before his hand could reach it. How does that happen? Guns don't fall out of holsters. And neither did this one. It slowly slid out, as if guided by some invisible hand. The invisible hand left it there, suspended in the air for a good moment before it fell to the ground. The man saw what happened and looked back at his accomplice. "She knows what she's doing, Marty. Let's get out of here." At that, the first man grabbed his gun and led his partner out through the front door, before adding, "Listen to me. Or we'll be back and we won't be as kind."

     Maggie and her mother immediately leapt from the couch and towards the kitchen. They struggled to cut the ropes around their wrists. They removed the tape from their mouths when they heard the sirens. Maggie and her mother looked at each other, eyes wide. They looked at their front door and noticed the red linking light. The two men had tripped the security system! The police were here! Maggie stowed the rope and tape in the oven, where no one would look, when the first policeman came in. Immediately he asked what had happened. He was a thick, older black man, who looked too tired to believe any lie they tried to tell him. Maggie tried to convince him that she had been sleepwalking and accidentally tried to walk out the front door.

     "Listen," the officer had told them. "If someone is trying to hurt you, we can protect you. We're the good guys here." And protect, they did. Maggie and her mother were shipped off to a different state with different names and different stories.

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