Jackie gripped her wand tightly as she walked through the darkened forest. She heard birds singing a warning song and moved in their direction. “Augustus...I’m not doing this anymore. Come out.” She wished her voice wasn’t shaking.
“You never act like I’m your father.”
Jackie quickly looked towards Augustus’ voice as he stumbled towards her through the trees. He looked worse than she had ever seen him. He was covered in blood and bruises. His tattered clothes were barely hanging onto his body. His body was filled with small bites and thorns. There were no remnants of his previous grandeur. “You’re my daughter and I love you.”
Jackie took a deep, shaky breath. “...you’re nothing to me.”
“If that were true, why would you have wandered out into the wilderness to find me?” asked Augustus. “Why did you choose to live in such a dreadful place, anyway? You could have had a beautiful, safe castle and-”
“I want you to leave,” said Jackie, more firmly. “I won’t allow you to ruin my home."
Augustus tensed. “What did I tell you about interrupting your father?"
“You are nothing.” Jackie’s hand trembled heavily as she raised her arm.
Augustus moved closer and looked into Jackie’s eyes. She recognized a familiar fear as his eyes flickered back and forth. “I hope your son says that to you some day."
“Stay away from me or…” Jackie looked into Augustus’ eyes and realized that there was nothing there to reason with. She pointed her wand. “Sectumsempra!”
Jackie was knocked to the side and her spell missed Augustus. She got up quickly. “Incarcerous!”
Augustus was already ready with his next spell. “Expulso!”
Jackie was thrown backwards. She hit a tree and blacked out.
She woke up an unknown amount of time later. Her body was sore and there was a loud ringing her ears. She struggled to stand on her weak muscles and felt powerless.
She moved deeper into the forest slowly. After a while, she faintly heard Theo’s voice and quickly sped up. She wondered what he was doing out of the house at this hour. Her heart pounded as she heard Augustus’ voice as well.
"You’re a Halifax,” he was saying. “That means we’re family.”
“What’s Halifax?” asked Theo, seeming unconcerned by Augustus’ frightful appearance.
“It’s blood that lives in you and me and your mother,” said Augustus. “But your mother has rejected it, so you and I only have each other.”
Theo seemed confused. “Dad Halifax?”
“No.” There was detectable anger and contempt in Augustus’ voice.
Jackie was furious that Augustus had come to her home and was talking to her son. Her instinct was to attack, but she didn’t want to hurt him in front of Theo. She turned into a lyrebird as quickly as she could and tried to remember her fallen family relatives.
“Leave the boy alone.”
Augustus tensed as he heard his mother’s voice. He looked around.
“I know what you did."
“Leave me alone,” said Augustus, his voice trembling. “I don’t care who knows anymore...I have no secrets.”
“You shouldn’t be allowed to live with what you’ve done.” Jackie did her best to imitate the voices of his siblings as well.
“Stay away from me!” Augustus backed up, hitting a tall tree. He began running.
Jackie moved to follow him and looked back to Theo. She used her own voice. “Go home, sweetheart.”
She chased after Augustus and continued her mimicry. She jumped from branch to branch in an attempt to sound like she was all around him.
“You will never be able to escape.”
“Was it worth it?”
“I will never let you go.”
She began to drive him towards a steep cliff. “You will never forget what you’ve done.”
She became louder and louder. As they neared the edge of the cliff, she screeched in Mireille’s voice.
Augustus barely seemed to notice as he fell down, hitting several roots and rocks along the way. He screamed in pain as his body slammed against the ground.
Jackie changed back into a human and nervously moved over to the edge. She wasn’t sure what she was hoping for.
Augustus’ body seemed very broken. His limbs were bent. He had already been very malnourished, so his bones had taken the full force of the impact. He struggled to move.
Jackie stayed very still, her muscles tense. She didn’t know what to do next. She heard familiar hoofsteps and her father screamed in terror.
Alidor slowly stepped out of the shadows. He loomed over Augustus, who threw a rock at him. “STAY AWAY!”
Jackie watched as more thestrals appeared from the trees. Some flew down and landed next to him so that he was surrounded. “STAY AWAY FROM ME!”
Alidor bit Augustus’ shoulder. He shrieked in pain and tried to get away, but he couldn’t stand. His blood ran down the thestrals muzzle. He bit him again, and Jackie could hear the crunch of bones. Alidor swallowed the flesh he had ripped off and took a step closer.
The other thestrals moved in as well. Augustus was completely helpless as they all began hitting him with their hooves and biting into him. He shrieked several times, his eyes full of fear and desperation. He looked up at Jackie. “MAKE THEM STOP! PLEASE! I AM YOUR FATHER!”
Jackie watched as the monster that had had so much power over her for so long was slowly ripped apart. Livorette was trying to tear off his arm. She stepped back silently.
She saw a genuine feeling of betrayal in his eyes as he realized that she was going to leave him. “JACQUELINE, PLEASE!”
Augustus was silenced as his chest was crushed. He faintly heard his mother’s unsympathetic voice as his face was torn off, even though Jackie had not made a sound.
Jackie wasn’t sure exactly when Augustus died. But she did know that she felt an almost overwhelming sense of relief and lightheadedness. A trace of a delirious smile flickered on her lips.
She was brought crashing back to reality as she heard Theo’s whimper. “Mama…?”
She looked to him, completely unsure of how to even begin explaining to him what had just happened. “It’s-It’s safe now.”
Theo shook heavily and ran away. She chased after him, the relief she had briefly felt being quickly replaced with a crushing guilt. “Theo!”
She wondered if he thought she was a monster. As she processed what had just happened, she knew that she couldn’t blame him.