The Lies You Tell Yourself by Shanastay
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Disclaimer: (In the spirit of Crimson Starlight)

Shana: OW! Stop poking me in the back with that damn wand!

Snape: *prods woman with wand again* WRITE!

Shana: Maybe if you asked reeeeeally nicely…

Snape: *glowers* I could simply employ the Imperius Curse…

Shana: Ok OK! I get the point! *goes back to typing* I own nothing of JKRowling\'s. Any characters you don\'t recognize obviously belong to me. I make no monies, American or otherwise, from this.

Snape: WRITE!!

Shana: *types, muttering to herself*

Chapter 1: Things Left Behind

Shaluinn Callaway stood outside the gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry trying to talk her reluctant feet into taking those several steps that would bring her onto the school grounds. I can\'t believe I\'m actually here. All the years of running, of living as a Muggle, of trying to hide my true nature and here I am returning to a world I turned my back on long ago.

A burst of wind blew past the 5\'7\" woman, whipping her waist-length flaming red hair out behind her, the ankle-length black leather duster she wore billowing around her legs. The air carried with it the scent of incoming rain and the woman narrowed her deep emerald eyes behind the lenses of her wraparound Ray-Bans, her bowstring lips drawing together in a mild frown.

Naturally ivory skin had tanned to a warm chestnut hue from the long hours she had spent outdoors training. Her face was oval with distinct cheekbones and a high forehead. Wispy bangs fell to just above her eyebrows, softening the lines of her face that tended toward harsh with the intense concentration she devoted to everything in her life.

A black long-sleeved scoop-necked lycra bodysuit clung to the curves of her DD-cup breasts, the damned things being the bane of her competitive athlete\'s life. It didn\'t matter how hard she trained, that her chest arched down to a 28 inch waist and back out to 34 inch hips clad in black leather boot-cut pants in an almost perfect hourglass, no matter how much weight she lost the heavy breasts remained. Staunchly refusing the option of breast-reduction surgery she used the assets for what they were, an advantage that often disrupted her opponents\' attention.

Her feet were shod in chunky, high-heeled knee-high black leather boots, the added height bringing her to a solid 5\'10\". Small, long-fingered and dexterous hands clutched the handles of the two bags she carried with her, containing all her worldly possessions.

Releasing a breath she hadn\'t realized she\'d been holding Shaluinn took those two steps onto the grounds and towards the destiny she knew she could no longer turn away from. As she trudged up the hill to the front portal of the castle she let her mind drop to the letter safely tucked into the inside pocket of her coat.

My Dearest Miss Callaway,

With regret I find I can no longer forestall the request I spoke to you about in our last meeting. Your unique assistance is needed in the aid of our cause. I am aware of your reservations but as I have previously expressed this conflict does not merely involve the wizarding community of Europe but has the potential to encompass the whole of the planet including America and your beloved United States. It is only after serious and prolonged consideration that I have come to this conclusion.

Please make your way to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland as quickly as you are able where I will install you in the position we have discussed. I understand you have loose ends you must tie up but remember time is of the essence and make haste.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at the school soon.

Your friend,
Albus Dumbledore


The redhead couldn\'t help shaking her head as she thought over the words of Albus\' missive. Friend? Uh huh. Manipulative bastard. Though I really shouldn\'t be surprised, the woman chided herself. She had seen more of Albus Dumbledore in the past year than she had in the preceding twenty. In fact she had almost entirely forgotten the aged wizard in the years intervening their last encounter.

That long-ago encounter had set her upon an unlikely path that had led her across the world and finally to this castle, an ocean and a continent separating her from her last home in Pacific Northwest.

Born to an unwed mother in Southern California she had been adopted by an older staunchly Roman Catholic Muggle couple. Overprotective to a fault, her formative years were spent closely monitored by the man that, to this day, was the only one she called, \"Father.\" A high-ranking member of the Intelligence community and chief of the West Coast region of the CIA and a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church, Aloysius Callaway kept Shaluinn on a very short leash, especially when strange occurrences began manifesting around the passionate child.

Despite the limitations he put on his adopted daughter Aloysius encouraged and instilled in her an addiction for learning. Forbidden to partake in the mind-numbing activities of TV watching and video games Shaluinn\'s growing intellect was directed toward books. These she devoured in copious amounts to the delight of her father, his daughter exhibiting the intelligence of a college student before even entering her teens.

That was, until that spotted owl arrived with that fateful letter.

Miss Callaway,

Congratulations on being accepted into the Pacific Branch of the American Institute of Magic and Mysteries! I\'m sure you have many questions that we will hopefully be able to answer in the coming years of your study. Enclosed is the book list for the upcoming semester as well as information on travel arrangements. We look forward to seeing you this fall.

Sincerely,

Maria Janevosa, Principal
Pacific Branch
American Institute of Magic and Mysteries


Shaluinn had read and reread the letter at least a dozen times by the time her father returned home from work, so many things in her life suddenly making sense and so many new questions swirling through her head. Buoyed by this newfound knowledge she rushed her father as soon as he walked through the door, jabbering excitedly and brandishing the letter.

Aloysius\' reaction was undeniably not what she expected.

The silver-haired man became visibly agitated, a red flush creeping up his neck from his chest as his blood pressure rose with his anger and he uncharacteristically cursed. Shaluinn\'s face fell as he muttered about practical jokes and the utter rubbish of the letter. He cut off every attempt the red-headed girl made at proving the validity of the missive. It quickly became clear to the girl that she most certainly would not be attending the school come fall.

And that was when things really went south…

Not a week later Shaluinn was approached by a petite woman with a shock of red hair the exact shade of her own while waiting to be picked up from gymnastics practice.

With a start the girl recognized the woman standing over her as the \"adopted older sister\" her parents had shown her pictures of over the years, but who she had never actually met.

The woman smiled as recognition shown on the girl\'s face and bent down to sit on the curb next to her. \"Hey Shaluinn. I can see from your expression you know who I am, but as courtesy dictates,\" she stuck out her hand, \"I\'m Jolena Anhel, your \'sister.\'\"

Shaluinn simply gaped, shocked into silence before finally shaking the woman\'s hand.

\"Close your mouth dear, before you swallow a fly.\"

The girl\'s mouth snapped shut with an audible click, her eyes still wide with surprise.

Never breaking eye contact, Jolena spoke quickly and carefully. \"You got the letter, correct?\"

Shaluinn didn\'t have to ask what she meant and simply nodded.

\"I\'m sure \'Dad\' took it as well as he took mine years ago.\"

The girl\'s eyes narrowed in confusion.

Clarifying, Jolena continued, \"He pitched an absolute fit and swore I wasn\'t going anywhere near some bullshit \'Magic School\' and how he\'d find the bastards who sent their sick idea of a joke, etc etc…\"

The girl blushed at the use of profanity but nodded again in confirmation.

Remembering just how small her window of opportunity was the older redhead plunged onward. \"Here\'s the deal. Dad\'s not gonna let you go to that school. No way, no how. But from what I\'ve been told you\'re already exhibiting more than a few indicators of high latent powers. As high as the ratings seem to be you simply can\'t NOT be trained. And if you\'re even half as smart as I was at your age you\'ll be able to handle a double course of study.\"

Proving she was every bit as astute as advertised, Shaluinn leapt to the correct conclusion. \"I\'m going to be studying regular subjects AND magic? But how…\"

Jolena waved a hand, cutting her off. \"Let me worry about the logistics. I\'ll be contacting you again soon.\" She stood quickly. \"It goes without saying…\"

\"…Don\'t tell Dad,\" Shaluinn finished for her. \"I get it.\" She spotted her parents\' car making the turn into the parking lot. \"You probably should go…\" she started to say as she looked back to find her \"sister\" gone. Just… gone. The girl spun in a circle, thinking she had missed the woman walking away only to realize Jolena had vanished into thin air. Curiouser and curiouser…

And so Shaluinn began her secret, double life that fall. Due to the extraordinary circumstances and situation Jolena had been granted the use of a time-turner. So Shaluinn found herself living two days for everyone else\'s one as well as having to be careful what she said or did around her parents.

Over the course of the following seven years the young witch pulled off and excelled at a double course of Muggle and Magical study that would have made Hermione Granger envious. She would have been unique had her \"sister\" not already done the same thing years prior.

Jolena kept a low profile and interacted with Shaluinn on a limited basis only to the extent necessary to restart the girl\'s days and deliver her to the Institute for classes. The younger redhead could not help but wonder at the snatches of overheard conversation she picked up over the years that gave her the impression that far from being the failure their parents had indicated Jolena was a smashing success as an Unspeakable in the American Magical world. But then again, to their parents that would be a failure.

It was not long before her graduations from high school and the \"Institute\" that she met a younger Headmaster Albus Dumbledore who was visiting the American school. The meeting would have been filed away and long forgotten had it not been for the events that immediately followed that meeting and caused the young woman to turn her back on the Magical world entirely for what she intended to be forever.

The redhead mounted the steps into the castle proper, deciding to meet her fate head-on, eyes wide open.

TBC…

Please. Please review! I know it\'s short, but the next 3 chapters are already written and I will be posting them shortly…