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Obsessed by Reyes91
Chapter 1: Running
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May 3, 1975
“Have you completely crossed on us?”
The young woman in question could only manage a light smile as she stared out the dingy library window. She hesitated responding though, knowing it would set the small group of boys off again. Instead, she straightened up, reaching for one of her discarded books.
Lazily flipping the pages of the book, Vena sighed. “I don’t see what the big issue is here. I’m not harming my own reputation by helping you do something illegal, something that could hurt you.”
A beat of silence passed, causing Vena’s sight to move toward the younger boys sitting around the table. The lankiest of the bunch, James, sat with his mouth agape; overdramatizing the situation, as usual, to get her to give in.
Vena sat back in the chair, annoyingly pushing her dark curly hair off her shoulders. “I hope you lot do realize that I’m not the only seventh year in this castle.”
James shook his head and leaned forward, lowering his voice just in case someone walked by their intimate conversation in the nearly abandoned area. “Yeah, but you’re the only one on our side who has more than enough pull from your father to get things the easy way instead of Sirius having to go dig around that house of his.”
“Yeah, and you’re the only one that puts up with our mess,” another, Sirius, added with that same tired smirk playing on his lips.
“You mean the only one that cleans your mess,” Vena corrected.
James and the shortest of the bunch, Peter, both released quiet snickers. Vena smiled as well, but locked eyes with Sirius, noting something behind the dim light in his eyes.
Quickly, she went back to watch James as he ran a fast hand through his untamed mass of hair. “And this is truly all for Remus?”
“Yes,” James said with a nod. “You know about his...little problem. We’ve been practicing this for years now. We just need that one book.”
“We’ll give it right back,” Peter jumped in. “Honest.”
“Yeah, and if your father finally comes in and kicks Slughorn out of his position, we’ll hand it to him personally,” James said.
With a sigh, Vena snapped her book close, stuffing it into her small bag. “Fine. I’ll send my father a letter and see what he can do. I don’t know what lie I’m going to spin though.”
“That you’re the greatest daughter ever,” James interrupted, “who just wants to do some extra studying for the exams.”
A small chuckle escaped her. “He’ll certainly buy that--,”
Vena cut off as a sharp cramp cut into her stomach for a split second. Sirius quickly jumped up, hurrying over to her side.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She nodded, regretting it almost instantly as a fistful of nausea slammed into her. Taking in a few deep breaths, she stood, resting a hand over her lower abdomen, as the cramps and sick feelings began to writher away.
“I’m okay,” she explained.
“You’re okay?” James asked, skeptically. “You’re still nauseous, aren’t you? You’ve been like this for a week now.”
“It’s probably just a bug,” she said, waving them off.
“Then how come you haven’t gone to the nurse to fix you up?” James asked.
Vena attempted to walk away, but all three of the boys were standing by then. Rolling her eyes, she gripped her bag. “I hate taking potions, you know that. I’ll be fine in a few days with some rest. It’s just a bug.”
Vena turned to her side, preparing to move on out, but stalled once another boy headed her way.
“Remus,” James nearly shouted, rushing to the boy’s side and seemingly forgetting all about Vena’s earlier discomfort. “So, Vena’s in. We’ll be transforming before the year is over.”
A confused look crossed Remus’ face for a moment before rapidly being replaced with relief. “That’s great. Oh, um, Vena, Professor Flitwick passed me in the corridor with this letter he received for you. I told him I was coming to see you, so....”
Vena looked down, noting the folded parchment in Remus’ hand. “Great. He probably has some more fifth years for me to tutor.”
“Hey, you’re good,” Peter said, “one of the best in this place.”
Vena tossed him a thankful smile before taking the parchment and unfolding it. Her eyes scanned the messy handwriting, and a large lump formed in her throat, almost rendering her breathless. Her free hand quickly gripped the chair as her legs grew numb.
“Vena?” came a voice; she couldn’t manage to pick out which of the boys asked it.
“This can’t be,” she whispered, something that none of the boys heard.
As the content of the letter sunk, Vena lowered it, the reality around her slowly floating back.
“Is something wrong?” Peter asked, a hint of concern on his face replacing the amusement form earlier.
“Come on now,” James said with a light chuckle, “nothing’s wrong. We all know it’s probably from her sweet little Edmund.”
Peter broke out in laughter, ignoring a sharp response from somewhere else in the library to keep quiet. Remus let loose a chuckle as well, but Sirius kept quiet, staring hard at Vena.
“The perfect, rich, Slytherin, pure-blood boy,” Peter added in through his laughs.
“And why would Burton give a letter to Professor Flitwick to give to Vena?” Remus asked, more laughter evident in his voice.
“Who knows?” James asked with a shrug. “You know Burton will do anything to keep in contact with his dearest Vena since his parents are awaiting a wedding any day now. Especially after we caught them, hem hem, getting lost in the broom cupboard about four or five times. I’m surprised she hasn’t wound up with a few little sprogs here and there in this castle yet. Hey! Maybe that’s why she’s been so sick. Burton’s finally had his wish at getting an heir.”
“We should build a nursery just in case,” Peter chimed.
As the boys laughed louder than before, Vena crumpled up the letter, jamming it down into the pocket of her tight trousers. “I have to go.”
She didn’t wait to hear their response and tore out of the library, clutching her bag tightly.
Her feet carried her quickly and swiftly through the corridor, smoothing past the stray student or two as her mind was only focused on getting up to see the Headmaster.
Rolling her eyes at the voice, she continued on, but at a slower pace. It didn’t take long for her to be caught up with by Sirius.
“What did the letter say?” Sirius asked, walking in sync with her.
“It was just from my father,” Vena explained. “I have to go see Dumbledore.”
“Why didn’t he just send you the letter?”
“He probably tried. That blasted owl delivered it to Flitwick’s class right after I left, I guess. It isn’t the first time the daft thing made that mistake.”
“Well, is it bad?”
“You wouldn’t have rushed out on us if it wasn’t bad.”
Vena reached the stairs, her long legs taking them up two at a time to keep a small enough distance between herself and Sirius. “Sirius, please don’t.”
“We’re supposed to be friends. Just tell me--,”
“No,” she snapped, spinning around to fully face him. Sirius’ shoulders fell, a slightly desperate look crossing his face. That lump went at her throat again as she never saw him look that...hopeless before; at least not since they had their last discussion dealing with that little brother of his. “Look, I’m sorry. I’m just having some family issues that I need to work through. You understand how that is.”
“It’s about Him, isn’t it?” Sirius asked, his voice lowering. “You-Know-Who?”
Vena closed her eyes for a second at the slight mention of the dark wizard, but attempted to regain her composure. “It’s family problems, nothing more. Go back to your friends, I’ll be fine.”
But Sirius didn’t budge, and neither did Vena despite the aggravating, aching feeling in her stomach that screamed at her to continue on.
“Not many pure-blood families turn him down and get away with it like your parents have,” Sirius muttered, jamming his hands deep into his pockets. “I just want you to be okay.”
Vena’s face softened and she moved closer, her hands resting on his scrawny shoulders. “And I will be. It’s just Dumbledore’s office. I’m not walking into a warzone. Relax, okay? I’ll be back in no time.”
A small snarl covered his face for a moment. “And back into Edmund’s arms.”
Vena gave him a light shake, provoking that tiny smile to come back to him. “Edmund’s out of the picture.”
Sirius lightened up, but only by a hair. “Really?”
“But you seemed to have had fun with him.”
“And that’s all it was at the time: fun. Nothing more.”
“And if James is right about you spewing out some sprogs?”
Vena gave a light laugh, attempting her hardest to ignore the sickness that crept up on her again. “I’d die before I had a child with him. You’ll be the first person I see, and we’ll finish coming up with some elaborate plan to get you away from those blood-crazy parents of yours, okay?”
Sirius choked out a short laugh before answering, “Okay.”
“Good.” She leaned forward and slightly down, placing a soft kiss on Sirius’ forehead. The younger boy shook a bit under her touch and breathed in heavily once she backed off. “See you later.”
Vena gave him one last look before starting up again, the sinking feeling in her stomach falling deeper with each step closer she made toward the Headmaster’s office.
Knowing Sirius’ eyes were still on her, Vena quickened her pace, not wanting to see that lost-look on his face again, and found herself on the floor of the Headmaster’s office in seconds. There wasn’t another student in sight; she trudged on, the sound of her footsteps creating eerie echoes throughout the empty corridor. Upon reaching the statue, Vena recited the password that was written on the parchment and quickly ascended the revealed staircase up into the Headmaster’s office.
“Professor?” she asked, pushing open the door.
The sight in the room sent her stomach in a barrage of flips once more; Dumbledore was indeed inside, but he was paying her no attention as he was too preoccupied in assisting her own startled father up off the ground.
“Father,” Vena exclaimed, dropping her bag and rushing over.
He waved her off, steadying himself. “It’s nothing, dear. I just lost my balance for a moment.”
“And perhaps your head, Amar,” Dumbledore gently added, smiling at the situation but not so subtly hiding a curious look.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Vena asked, placing a hand over her midsection as that sickness titled off into the straining cramps; it certainly was not the first time her father had a sort of fainting spell, and she knew he only had them at the worst of times just like his grandfather before him.
After rubbing the side of his head once more, Amar faced his daughters, smiling through the stressed-look on his face and deep wrinkles that lined it.
“My dear,” he said, arms outstretched. Vena immediately met him, sighing deeply as his warmth began to shake away the nauseous, uneasy feeling. “I’m so sorry it all had to come to this.”
“What are we going to do?” she asked, her face buried against his smooth robe.
“We’re going to keep you safe,” Dumbledore answered.
Vena broke the hug, facing the Headmaster. “Professor?”
The hint of lightness he held when she first entered was long gone, replaced by something more serious. “Your parents and I agreed that it will best to move you until it all settles. I already have a house set up around London--,”
“What?” Vena said, her voice rising. She turned to her father, the nausea back. “Father, I thought we were fighting them, not running?”
“Dear,” Amar tried, “it isn’t that black and white. They’ve destroyed the house--,”
“Then we’ll go to India or Russia with your family,” Vena interrupted.
“—and,” Amar continued unfazed, “neither your mother’s, nor my, family is willing to put us up after we turned...turned the Dark Lord down. Albus is willing to put us up in a Muggle neighborhood only until the rest of the Order can--,”
“This is ridiculous,” Vena interrupted again, panic sinking into her, making her head spin. “I-I’m not even done with school. How can I go on and be a Healer if I don’t finish school? I just can’t leave the wizarding world.”
“Shhh.” Amar moved in, embracing his daughter once more. “I know it’s a lot to absorb, but we must leave now. Your things are all packed and gone. Once we go through the fireplace, there’s no turning back.”
A powerful burn struck the back of Vena’s eyes and throat, but she held it all in, backing away from her father to retrieve her tossed bag.
“Anyone you wish to say goodbye to, Miss Nirav?” Dumbledore asked, staring intently at her as she moved. “Perhaps... Mr. Burton?”
Vena shook her head, swiping at the stray tears that managed to sneak down over her cheeks. “N-no, I spoke with Edmund yesterday and that was enough.”
“Oh, forgive me. I thought the two of you--,”
“No, Professor,” Vena firmly stated. “He doesn’t need to see me.... No one else here does either.”
“Are you sure, dear?” Amar asked.
Vena opened her mouth, but hesitated. Sirius flashed through her mind, washing a chill over her body, along with the rest of the boys. She had made her fair few of friends during her stay, but the boys managed to crawl under her skin in a good way. They were her brothers.
“Yes,” Vena whispered, shaking away the chill, “I’m sure, father.”
Amar nodded, moving toward the fireplace in the office as Dumbledore approached Vena.
“Miss Nirav,” he started, placing a hand on her shoulder, “do be careful. If any...incidents were to occur, go to a Muggle hospital.”
Vena began to question it, but thought best. She knew her Headmaster: if he didn’t want her in the wizarding world, even if something were to happen to them, then she had best stay out of it until the storm dies.
“Thank you,” was all that could come out.
He said no more, allowing her to step into the fireplace with her father. With her bag thrown over her shoulder, Vena closed her eyes, not wanting to watch as the bright green flames engulfed her, snatching her away from the only other place she could call home.
December 25, 1975
Vena made a futile attempt at keeping the scream settled inside, but failed miserably as it tore through her throat and out of her mouth. The electricity in the delivery room flickered as it had done each time a scream erupted out of her, but the doctor paid it no mind. After ten hours of painful labor, everyone had gotten use to the odd string of electrical interference and had prepared for it all with a generator.
“Just push a little bit more,” the doctor coached from the end of the bed. “I see the head.”
“You’re doing great, dear,” her mother said from the side.
“Ana, get the camera out,” her father said from the other side.
Her mother hurried off to grab their old camera as her father gripped her hand tighter.
“Daddy,” Vena said through clenched teeth, “I want this thing out of me.”
“It’ll be over in a few seconds, love,” Amar coached. “Just hold out.
Vena groaned, trying to focus all her remaining strength on the task at hand. The increasing, burning pain was nearly insufferable though, making her regret carrying the damn thing for so long. She had known about those Muggle procedures, abortions or whatever, and wished she would have gone through with it. If she had, she wouldn’t have had to go through with that-that parasite feeding off her for the past long, grueling, eight months. She wanted it out.
“One more big push,” the doctor said, “and you’re in the clear. Just take a deep breath, and go for it.”
Vena did what she was told and soon felt an immediate flood of release, her muscles loosening, as something slid out of her body. She rested back against the pillow, breathing heavily, as excitement blew up around her. However, the excitement bug didn’t manage to sink its teeth into her; she didn’t speak when asked what the baby would be named, and refused the offer to hold or even look at it. She didn’t want to touch the creature. She didn’t want it anywhere near her.
A few minutes passed, and the room emptied out all except for Vena’s parents and the baby. She was told that the baby was perfectly healthy, cleaned, and clothed. The family earned some alone time. However, Vena kept her sight up at the white ceiling. That part of her that refused to look at the baby was winning. The baby was unwanted, and a part of him. She couldn’t bear to look at it if it resembled that haughty pure-blooded bigoted she blindly got involved with in the slightest bit. He didn’t deserve to create something with her. He didn’t deserve it.
“Vena, dear, you must hold her,” her mother said from her side as she finished bottle-feeding the baby for the first time.
“Why?” Vena whispered. “We should drop her off in an orphanage or at the Ministry; you know we can’t afford carrying around a baby while they’re still after us. Besides...it’s dead weight, it’ll slow us down.”
“Vena,” her father snapped, outrage in his voice. “Don’t you dare speak that way of your own flesh. Now sit up and hold your child.”
Sighing, Vena sat up in the bed, still feeling the after-effects of the birth. She turned a bit to her right and looked down at the bundle in her mother’s arms.
“Give her over,” Vena reluctantly said.
Giving her daughter a small glare, Ana slowly handed the baby over. Vena hesitantly adjusted the baby in her arms, and pushed down the small blanket that was wrapped around it. The baby’s eyes opened after some struggle, and stared on up at Vena, barely blinking. Vena opened her mouth, a hint of bile threatening to come up, but her throat seemed to have closed the longer she peered down at the fidgeting baby.
“She’s...,” Vena tried.
She was beautiful. Perfectly beautiful. Those large blue eyes, so eerily similar to Vena’s, hypnotized her. That child...it—she—looked nothing like that pure-blood elitist; she was Vena’s clone down to the flecks of gray in those startling eyes.
“She’s yours,” her mother said, smoothing back Vena’s matted hair.
Vena only nodded, that disgusting feeling that had taken her over those past months burrowing down to a hidden spot in her stomach.
“Figured out a name yet?” Amar asked.
Vena glanced at her mother before looking back down at her daughter. “Yes…. Morana.”
Her mother gasped in surprise and Amar grinned.
“Dear,” her mother started, “are you sure?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Ana kissed her cheek. “Oh, dear, thank you.”
“No need to, mother. Father?”
Vena struggled to keep an onslaught of tears from coming. “What are we going to do now?”
Amar sat down on the end of the bed. “Well, Albus has someone in America who could look after us since our last home was-was found.”
“Why all the way there?”
“That’s where the man settled,” Vena’s mother stated. “He’s been from country to country trying to gather other wizards to be on our side. He said it’s best if we go to where he is now.”
“You can settle down there,” Amar continued. “You’ll find yourself a wonderful man and raise an amazing family with this beautiful little girl. Don’t worry about anything, honey. It’ll all be okay.”
Vena nodded and slowly leaned down, resting her lips against her daughter’s forehead for a few seconds, trembling a bit as a soft moan came from the baby. There was a warm kind of smell emitting from her, one that should have warmed Vena as well, but it failed to touch upon that cold spot deep into her stomach. She wanted to feel unimaginable love for the baby like every mother did, but she couldn’t.
“I’ll just protect you,” she whispered. “I’ll protect you.”
It was the only true promise Vena could bring herself to make for her...daughter.
A/N: Chapter Image: Squiggles at TDA
Quote: Kenny Loggins (I'm Free)
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 2: Beginning of the End
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November 23, 1984
The light, yet cold, rain drizzled down over me, shocking awake those weird bumps on my bare arms.
“Come on,” I whispered, rocking back and forth on the damp porch step.
The wind picked up, letting loose a shrill howl that caused my heart to skip a few beats. If I weren’t waiting for her, I would have rushed inside and huddled underneath my blanket until the creepy sounds stopped. But no, I had to sit out there and wait. She had to make me wait by being late. Again. It was supposed to be the last time she’d be late, the last night I had to spend alone. But if it would allow me to see them again, my grandparents, then I would gladly wait out in the cold, dark night instead of sitting in that house with him.
The sky rumbled, jumping my heart and nerves again. Sighing deeply, I pulled my knees closer to my chest, rocking a little less than before, but still refused to go inside. Any second, and she’d pull up in that busted car of hers. Any second and—
“Morana, what are you doing out here?”
The sound of that abnormal, deep voice sent a chill through my body that the weather couldn’t dare touch.
Turning around slightly, my eyes slowly traveled up from the thick, bare, hairy legs and into his dark eyes. The white in them were red; he had been drinking that nasty-smelling drink too much again.
“I was waitin’ for mom,” I muttered, quickly adverting my eyes from him.
“She’ll be here,” he said, stepping back inside the house while holding the door open for me. “Come inside before you freeze your ass off. I won’t have your mother getting pissed at me because you decided to catch a cold out here.”
I did what I was told without a beat of hesitation, ignoring the stale stench radiating off of him as I passed, and felt a slight bit of comfort at the warm heat that slammed into me. Wiping my shoes off on the mat, I moved to rush up the stairs, wanting to get as far away from him as possible. Reaching the stairs, I nearly collided into a much too-tall woman with nasty bleached hair.
“Oh, she’s adorable,” she said, leaning down to grasp hard at my cheeks. I flinched away, only causing her to laugh. “Nick, you didn’t tell me your daughter was going to be a knock-out.”
“She’s not mine,” Nick grunted from behind us.
The woman reached out for me again, and a slight fire lit up in my chest. She had been at the house before, I saw Nick sneaking her out. The ugly woman had been in my mother’s bed. I knew she had.
“Don’t touch me,” I said, slapping her hand away.
The amusement in her died. “Excuse me?”
“I said don’t touch me,” was my last response before squeezing past her and jogging up the remaining stairs.
I rushed into my bedroom, not bothering to listen to whatever else she or Nick had to say about my snapping. Gently closing my door, I threw myself on the bed, burying my head in my rough pillow. That kind of reaction from me would usually have her in the room, sitting quietly at the end of my bed until I calmed down and fell asleep. But no. She was late.
“I wish you’d hurry,” I whispered into the pillow.
But she wouldn’t hurry, she never did. She’d hurry if it was Allen, she always made sure to run to his every call for the past five years.
“Morana!” came a shout just as my door was yanked open.
My hands clenched around the pillow, but I wouldn’t sit up; not looking at him always did me better in the end.
“Morana,” Nick repeated, quieter that time. “What did I teach you about manners?”
“Nothin’,” I muttered. “You don’t teach me nothin’.”
A weird laugh came out of him and he moved closer, the horrible smell pouring off of him and suffocating over me.
“I do hope your mother gets here soon,” he said, placing himself at the end of my bed, “for your sake more than mine.”
The room quieted as my nails nearly dug into the old fabric of the pillowcase. Nick suddenly stood with a sigh, and made his way out. My body refused to relax though; he’d be back. He always came back.
I cuddled up on my small bed, alone sans the ugly, dark brown teddy bear she made for me that I nearly strangled the harder my arm would wrap around it. I hated Nick. I hated him...but hate was such a strong word, one my grandpa always says not to use. It was a strong emotion—perhaps stronger than love—and can take you over. He says I should never let that happen....
“Morana, come down here,” Nick called from downstairs, his voice hardly heard through my closed door. “I have dinner on!”
I squeezed the teddy bear tighter to my chest, my arm growing weak at the intense pressure I applied. No, I hated that man. I hated his voice, the alcohol-smell that drenched him; I hated every reason he existed.
Knowing Nick would intrude in my room if I waited any longer, I tossed the teddy aside and headed toward the door. Stalling, I glanced at the clock on the wall. It was well after eleven; seeing my grandparents wasn’t an option any more. She had never been that late coming home before, not even if she was picking up Allen from Nick’s father’s house.
“I don’t need her,” I muttered to myself, pulling open the door.
Trudging out into the hallway, a bitter laugh crawled out of my mouth. Of course I needed her; she may hardly spare me a look, even if she sat in my bedroom at night, but she kept me fed and I needed to eat. I needed to live.
Descending the stairs, I crept into the living room, plopping myself down on the cushy sofa in front of the TV as Nick cooked away in the kitchen behind me.
“Hungry?” he asked.
I shuddered at his voice despite it being a good distance away. “A little.”
“Good. I’m making hamburgers.”
Hamburgers, they were my favorite. That laugh came out again, but softer that time. Nick, of all people, knew to fix my favorite meal when she probably didn’t even know.
Stinging met my eyes in seconds, and I swapped at the tears that threatened to fall. I wanted my grandpa. More than anything, I wanted him. I wanted, needed, him to perform a cool magic trick to make me laugh again; a real laugh at that. Or maybe just have him do a spell to make Nick disappear; that spell would be nice.
Nick’s rough footsteps against the hard wood floor jolted me from my thoughts, he was coming. As he approached, I pulled my knees up to my chest, not bothering to look up from the dark television.
“Here,” he said. Looking up, he held a small bowl filled with dark, purple grapes. “You could use a snack before dinner.”
I only stared at the bowl, my thoughts racing until coming to the conclusion that he was sobering up quicker than usual.
Letting loose an annoyed sigh, he placed the bowl by my side on the couch and reached for me. My body instantly recoiled, and his hand hung in the air. A confused expression crossed his face before being replaced with anger. No, not exactly anger, he seemed upset.
“Just eat the grapes, kid,” he said, lowering his hand and going back to finish in the kitchen.
With a shaking hand, I grabbed the bowl, shoving one large, juice-filled grape into my mouth. My eyes went back to the blank television, and the burning sensation alerted me of the tears that wanted to fall again. If only...if only I had magic powers like my grandparents, like her, then I could get away from Nick. Get away from all of it.
Keys jingled at the door, surprising me. Placing the grapes aside, I jumped up off the couch as the door opened. A twinge of excitement struck me as she walked in looking as if she hadn’t slept in days. Allen ran in after her, dragging his small backpack on the floor and meeting me by the couch.
“Hey, Ana,” he said in his high-pitched voice, wrapping his tiny arm around my waist for a second. “Let’s go.”
“Go where?” I asked, staring at our mother as she placed her purse down, her body trembling with every movement.
“Vena, you’re home early,” Nick stated, walking up to her.
Vena ignored him, eyes locking on me and Allen. “Allen, go up and do what I told you.”
“‘Kay,” Allen said, locking his hand into my own. “C’mon, Ana.”
Despite his small, weak frame, he managed to tug me along. I gave Vena one last look before we rushed up the stairs.
“We gotta get our stuff,” Allen explained, stopping at his bedroom.
“Why?” I asked, stealing a look at the stairs.
“‘Cause mommy says.”
That excitement bubbled up in me again. “We’re gonna see grandma and grandpa?”
Allen shook his head, his eyes dark blue eyes shining with eagerness. “Nope. Mommy says we’re doin’ somethin’ else.”
The smile that had almost come vanished, and my shoulders slumped. “Then I’m not packin’.”
I turned to go into my room, but Allen grabbed at my arm. “But mommy says--,”
“I don’t care what she says,” I snapped, snatching out of his hold.
A deep frown formed on his face that would usually have me apologizing in seconds, but it didn’t. “I hate when you be mean.”
With that, he tore into his room. Rolling my eyes, I strode into my own, heading to the dresser to yank out various articles of clothes. Before long, my bed was littered with everything I had in my drawers and my closet, which wasn’t much to scream about.
My door creaked open, freezing my heart for a split second before I turned to see Vena. The heavy bags under her eyes and paleness of her skin worried me. If anything, she almost always looked her best.
“Ana,” she gently said, moving in closer. Her hand reached out, causing me to flinch as she brushed aside a strand of my long dark hair. The flinch didn’t go unnoticed as she lowered her arm to her side. “I really need you to pack.”
“Why?” I asked, taking a step back from her. “Allen says we can’t see grandpa and grandma.”
Vena shook her head and spoke with a slight shake in her voice, “N-no, we aren’t going to see them. We can’t.”
“Not right now?”
“No, not ever.”
Confused, I asked, “Why?”
“Because they’re gone.”
“Gone where? Gone in Europe again?”
Vena shook her head once more, eyes slowly brimming with tears. “No, Ana, they’re--,”
A deafening ‘bang’ from downstairs shook us both from the conversation. I opened my mouth to speak, but Vena shut me off, snatching at my arm and pulling me out toward Allen’s room.
“Mommy?” Allen asked as we entered.
“Get in the closet with your sister,” she ordered, throwing us together.
“But mom--,” I tried.
She whipped her wand out, and I was flown back into the open closet along with Allen. “Stay.”
The doors slammed close on us before we could say another word. Allen tried to open them, but I pulled him back into me, holding him almost as tight as I did that teddy bear; Vena hardly ever used magic, and never against us.
“What’s happenin’?” he asked.
“I dunno,” I whispered. “Just be quiet.”
For once, he listened to me. Though that stupid whimpering he did whenever he was scared came about, it was soft; no one could hear from outside.
The noise below us intensified; glasses broke in the kitchen probably at the sound of what seemed like a body fell into something. In seconds, silence took over.
“Ana?” Allen whispered.
“Shh,” was all I could say to him.
The sound of gentle footsteps coming into the room caused him to back into me a bit more before the closet door was flung open. A wonderful wave of relief fell over me at the sight of Vena, but it quickly went away after seeing how frazzled her hair was and the redness of her face as if she ran a few miles outside.
“Come here, both of you,” she said.
Allen rushed into her arms before she could finish speaking. “What happened?”
“Not now, just hold onto me even if you start to feel a bit dizzy, okay?”
“Ana, you too.”
I hesitated, but the loud sounds of more footsteps approaching caused me to latch onto her. She held us tight before the uncomfortable feeling of something yanking at my stomach took me over along with the tight feel of a large hand wrapping around my arm.
“No!” Vena cried as the room began to spin.
In seconds, Allen’s room vanished and was replaced with the dark outdoors and cold rain that poured down. I was thrown down before I could everything in, and heard more cries from Vena. In seconds, a startling green light and a gust of wind blew just over my head, awaking more of those little bumps on my arm. Jumping up from the mud, I spotted Vena trying to wrestle away her wand that a rather large man had been trying to point my way.
“Get your brother and get Christopher,” Vena called to me as she struggled with the man.
Looking around, I spotted Allen pulling himself up from the ground. He wasted no time in turning and running. I followed him, seeing we were near a large log cabin. Christopher, Vena’s magic friend, lived there. We had only been there once, but she seemed to trust him enough to take us there again.
“Chris!” Allen called, banging his little fists against the back door.
I rushed forward, doing the same. “Chris! We need you!”
Our calls went unheard inside the quiet house. As Allen continued on, I turned to watch Vena as the man roughly threw her down into the ground. She cried out in surprise and pain as something cracked, possibly a rib or even her leg; with the amount of power that man held when he threw her, any bone could have broke.
“Running from the Dark Lord wasn’t a good thing, Nirav,” the man said with a light chuckle, aiming her own wand down at her. “And having some Muggle kids? Such a shame. You would have made a great Death Eater.”
Confusion wrapped over me as Vena struggled to her feet, cringing with every movement. “The Dark Lord was nothing. A weak excuse for a man taken down by a child, and you’re no better. It took you almost nine bloody years to find me.”
The man glared, raising the wand. “I’ll deal with you, then those children. Avada Kedavra.”
A green jet shot out of the wand at a rapid pace. My eyes locked onto Vena as she glanced my way, tears shining in her eyes despite the stone expression on her face.
“Mom?” I asked as the green light struck her chest.
Her expression hardened even more as she fell backwards without a sound. I took a step forward, wanting to see what had happened, but the large man placed his sights on me and grinned a nasty grin; worse than any look Nick could have given me.
“Well, well, well,” he said, moving slowly towards me with the wand still raised. “Little Nirav, looking just like her mother. Bad luck for you that she was such a cowardly traitor. Avada--,”
“Avada Kedavra,” came another cry.
My eyes shut tightly as a peak of green light poured in underneath my eyelids. Opening them, I caught the larger man falling down just as Vena had done.
“Morana, are you okay?”
Glancing over, Christopher had come out with his long wand at the ready.
Not answering him, I rushed over to Vena, going down to my knees by her side. “Mom?”
“What happened?” Allen asked, coming over to her other side.
“Kids, get in the house,” Christopher ordered, but neither one of us moved.
“Mommy?” Allen asked, shaking her to no avail; it was like moving a doll. “Mommy, wake up. Wake up. Stop sleepin’, it’s not funny.”
Christopher easily picked Allen up into his burly arms. “Come on kid, your mom isn’t waking up.”
“Why?” Allen asked, trying to squirm out of his grasp.
“I’ll explain in the house,” he said, moving away from Vena. “Come on, Morana, before the rain gets too bad.”
The rain, I had hardly noticed it was still raining.
Moving closer, I stared into Vena’s cold, unblinking eyes. She wasn’t sleep; she never slept with her eyes open before. There was something wrong.... Something very wrong.
The sharp tone of Christopher’s voice forced me up. I trudged away from Vena, stealing a look at her frozen body as I went. An unnerving chill rushed through my body as I kept my sights on her upon entering the cabin; she wasn’t waking up. If I was sure of anything that just happened, I was sure of that. She wasn’t waking up.
Vena and Nick were dead. That’s how Christopher explained it. That man hurt them both, killed them both. They were actually dead. Gone. Probably up in Heaven...or maybe in that other place. Either way, they were dead, and possibly my grandparents as well or else they would have picked us up. Christopher was all we had left. We had to stay with him or else more bad men would try to find us.
Only three nights went by since that last, yet Allen never spoke a single word to me. I don’t think he fully grasped the situation, and neither did I. No matter, he never spoke to me. Perhaps it was because I was so rude to him before, or because I couldn’t shed a single tear no matter how hard I tried. He wouldn’t speak. He clung to Christopher later in the day once he came back from work or whatever it was he was doing, and slept in his bed at night instead of sneaking into mine like he usually did. It was like I didn’t exist anymore to him. To him, I went to sleep with Vena that night.
Lying in my new bed three nights from the attack with the teddy Christopher had gone to receive along with our other belonging, I tried to force myself to cry, to be more like Allen, but I couldn’t. My body was all dried up like some old raisin. Right then, I wanted magic more than anything. Grandpa always told me it made the world seem a bit brighter. If I could do magic, I could fix everything.
“Chris,” I whispered. Right, Christopher. He had a wand. He could do magic for me.
Setting the teddy aside, I climbed out of bed and crept into the hall. Allen’s door was closed; Christopher was still awake.
Slowly making my way down the stairs, I rounded the corner into the living room to catch sight of the dim kitchen light on and Christopher sitting at the table.
“Would you please leave?” he asked, speaking to someone unseen.
I crept forward a bit more, catching sight of a rather large figure in the shadows bouncing on the wall.
“It’s going to be difficult without you,” said a thick voice, his accent similar to Christopher’s. “We’re bringing in a lot of new recruits, a few more women who will be honored to give for the cause, if you know what I mean.”
Christopher sighed as the man laughed, running a hand through his thick hair. “Fenrir, I have these kids and I made a promise to their mother that I’d help if anything were to happen.”
The man named Fenrir let loose another strange laugh. “Still clinging to those wizards as if they would accept you if they knew about the real you.”
Christopher went to retort back, but spotted me and jumped from the chair. “You. Up to bed.”
“But--,” I tried to say.
He rushed over, pulling at my arm almost tight enough to break it. “I said bed.”
Wincing from his tight hold, I glanced over my shoulder to catch the shadowy figure begin to fully come into sight just as Christopher nearly dragged me back up the stairs and into my bedroom.
“When I tell you to do something,” Christopher said softly, yet sternly, “you do it. Understand?”
“Yes, sir,” I muttered, dropping on my bed and rubbing at my arm.
He frowned a bit. “Sorry I hurt you, kid. I just don’t want any strangers meeting you.”
“Okay. But I just wanted to see your wand.”
Christopher looked over his shoulder before staring down at me. “Why?”
“So I could see magic.”
“Oh, kid,” Christopher said, releasing a deep breath, “you’ll be performing magic soon enough.”
I sat up, neglecting my aching arm. “Really? How do you know?”
“Because you’re a pure-blood.”
Christopher looked behind him one last time before moving to sit by my side. “The magic that runs through your blood is pure from both your mother and your...real father. You do know that Nick wasn’t your father, right?”
I nodded. “Mom told me.”
“Good. Well, you’ll certainly be able to do magic. Once you’re eleven, you’ll get a letter to attend the more affordable school around here, and I’ll take you to purchase your first wand. How does that sound?”
I smiled a bit, but the first hint of excitement that struck me deflated; Vena should have been buying me my first wand in a few years, not a stranger. “Sounds good.”
“Perfect.” Christopher gave me a light pat on my back before standing. “Now get to sleep. Goodnight.”
He backed away with that, closing the door as he went. I crawled back under my covers, forcing my teddy up against my chest. Whoever that Fenrir man was, I didn’t like the sound of him or what he was saying about Christopher.... I didn’t want to stay there, even if I would get a wand soon. Not with him at least.
“Mom,” I whispered, clinging onto the teddy tighter than before.
Closing my eyes, a stray tear escaped, gliding down the side of my face and moistening up my pillow. I was crying. For once, I was crying. I wanted to escape, escape it all. I wanted my grandparents; my warm, always loving, grandparents.... And I wanted Vena.
A/N: Chapter image: SillyBeee at TDA
Quote: Breaking Benjamin (I Will Not Bow)
Chapter 3: Dying
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Michigan Institute for Magic
I stared up, absently, at the plain, low dark ceiling with my thoughts going a mile a minute. My finger nervously scratched at my arm even though the nearly faded small scar hadn’t itched in months. Months. It had only been months since Kraven filled me up with that mess of his, but my body had begun to ache for it again as if the last trip had only been yesterday.
“You’re such an idiot,” I muttered, forcefully yanking down the sleeve of my dark red sweater.
Yes, I was an idiot. To think I had gotten myself into a relationship with that stupid Muggle-born just because my friend figured I needed to start dating, to get my mind off of things and my nose out of our textbooks. Never again would I let her talk me into anything that trivial.
The light above flicked on and I sat up, wincing as it blinded me for a moment. “Damn, Julie, give a little warning next time.”
My friend, Julie, strolled inside, pulling out the rubber band that held her dirty blonde hair up.
“Oh, calm down, gorgeous,” she said, pushing my feet aside and placing herself at the edge of my bed. “What are you doing stuck up in here?”
“I’m just tired,” I lied, moving so that my back pressed against the headboard of my bed.
Julie’s face was full of skepticism, but she didn’t press my lie. “Okay then, but you should go down and grab a bite to eat before they clear the place.”
I looked away from her, placing my attention instead on the one small window in our room, watching as the snow billowed around outside. Just staring at the falling flakes caused a dark chill to creep up under my skin. The irritating feeling struck me each time around break; sitting in that cabin with Christopher giving me strange looks wasn’t my idea of “fun.”
“I’m not hungry,” I muttered.
The weight of the bed shifted; my sight of the window was soon blocked by Julie who tapped her foot impatiently down on the soft carpet.
“Bull,” she said, taking hold of my wrist. “At the rate you eat, you’re never ‘not’ hungry. Let’s go.”
“I haven’t even finished packing,” I explained, allowing Julie to pull me off the bed anyway.
“Well, you’ll just have to pack after lunch. Now come on.”
I was able to slide into my old shoes before Julie led me out of our room and into the warm hallway. Other beaming, chatty girls bypassed us, seemingly oblivious to the dreadful weather outside.
“Looks like a storm,” Julie said, glancing occasionally out at the glass windows that laced the brick walls. “Still want to have that snowball fight?”
With a small snort, I shook my head. “Yeah right, we’d freeze before grabbing a fistful of snow.”
Julie laughed, reaching down to wrap her soft hand around my own. My nerves jumped a bit at the bold move, but I ignored them for once. More girls passed us as we began to get closer to the stairs. A few looked our way, staring at our clasped hands, before whispering to each other, laughing. Both Julie and I quickly released the hold, Julie with more hesitation though.
“Come on,” she muttered, “let’s hurry and get a window seat.”
She jogged down the stairs, leaving me behind. Glancing once more back at the chuckling girls, I continued on after her. She slowed her pace as we entered left the girl’s side of the building to enter into the main Entrance room where several students were mixing around with each other for one last time. We had to squeeze past the large crowd in order to make it into the Dining Hall.
“I can’t wait to get out of here,” I said as we looked around for an empty seat.
“Same here. Hey, honey, look.”
My sights followed to where Julie pointed to see Allen off to the other side of the room. He was sitting amongst a few other guys who were joking around, but didn’t seem to actually be there. With his head leaning down, his long hair covered nearly every inch of his face, but I could still make him out. Those rough hands laced with small scars were enough proof.
“You gonna talk to him?” Julie asked.
Shaking my head, I headed for one of the smaller tables in which a group had just left. Placing myself in a chair facing the front where a handful of teachers sat at, I waited for a plate of food to appear in front of me before reaching for the fresh silverware.
“You guys should really talk,” Julie said, sitting down opposite of me.
“Don’t,” was all I said. Julie grew quiet, more quiet than usual, causing me to look up to meet those dark brown eyes of hers. “What?”
She raised an eyebrow and I rolled my eyes. “He’s your brother, Morana. I mean, have you ever asked him how he got those scars? Or why he’s lost weight? Maybe he’s sick or something; you heard how he takes those frequent trips to see the nurse.”
Turning a bit in my chair, I watched Allen. Indeed, he had lost weight since I last saw him nearly two weeks ago.
“As if the kid talks,” said a kid from the table near ours. “The creep’s a mute.”
It earned a round of laughter from the others at his table, but none from ours.
“He’s not a mute,” I snapped, slamming my fork down on the barely touched plate of food.
Julie quickly reached out for me as the smiles from the others sunk. “Don’t worry about them. Go on.”
With a frustrated sigh, I stood and made my way across the Hall, feeling Julie’s eyes glued to me with every step. Before I could reach Allen, he abruptly stood, his long legs carrying him quickly to the doors.
“Allen,” I called, quickening my pace.
Either he didn’t hear me or he didn’t care. He continued on out, pulling the hood of his blue jacket up over his head.
I rushed out of the Dining Hall, despite telling myself to drop him, to see that the main floor was nearly abandoned as everyone had gone up to finish packing. Allen had begun to head down toward the entirely too long hallway that connected to the boy’s section.
“Allen,” I said again, and he stalled.
He kept his back toward me, but turned his head slightly to show he wasn’t going anywhere. “What the hell do you want?”
The deepness of his voice still shook me as, in that moment, he sounded more like his father. “I just wanted to know if you were feeling okay.”
He gave me a half-shrug, still facing forward. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“What about the scars? What happened?”
He released a deep breath, moving so that he was resting back against the wall. Keeping his hood up, he reached to move a few strands out of his face and his eyes landed on me, the small bit of candle light bouncing off of the glass-like orbs. Unknowingly, I took a small step back, seeing Nick come out of him more and more.
“I fought a cat,” he answered.
I rolled my eyes, stuffing my hands into my pockets. “Really?”
He gave me a curt nod. “Yeah, really.”
There came that brewing anger again. “Why are you lying to me?”
“Why are you?”
I removed my hands from my pockets, moving closer to him. “What’s that suppose to mean?”
He folded his arms across his chest. “That Ryan girl sent you over here, didn’t she?”
“Her name is Julie.”
“Whatever. You only came over because your little girlfriend made you--,”
“--so don’t go on bullshitting me, acting like you really care.”
Sighing, I gave up. “Fine, screw it.”
I turned on my heel to start down toward the hall that led back to my side of the building, but felt a strong hand grip around my arm, spinning me around. I was inches away from Allen then, and could smell a strange musk emitting from him.
“Can’t take what you always give out?” he whispered, his hot breath flowing over my face.
“Let me go,” I said, attempting to keep my voice leveled.
He leaned in, gently brushing my hair away from my face. My attempt at keeping calm failed as a shiver ran through the moment his dry fingers glided over my face. “Why? We haven’t been this close in...years.”
I gave him a hard shove, causing him to hit the wall. “Piss off, Allen. I was just trying to be nice.”
His eyes narrowed and he swallowed hard. “Trying to be nice? Please, these past few years, Chris has been more like family to me than you’ve ever been.”
“Oh, of course Christopher is more like family to you,” I snapped. “You kiss his ass at every chance you get since you’re trying so hard to replace Nick and Vena.”
His wand was out and resting under my chin before I could blink. His eyes watered up and I thought, for a second, he might actually cry, but not out of sadness. No, his jaw was clenched too hard and his hand shook a bit. Those tears forming in his eyes weren’t caused by thoughts of Nick and Vena, they were brought on by rage.
“Take it back,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
Keeping my stare steady, I spoke low, “Why? It’s true. You’ve been trying to replace them since that night they died.”
“Well it’s not like I could have came to you for help.”
Disbelief struck at the coldness of his tone. “Come to me? You acted like was dead as well. If you don’t want to talk, then I won’t bother trying again.”
“Good,” he said, “wouldn’t want you to take precious time out of fucking your girlfriend for the past five years to come and check on your brother.”
I glared, reaching in my pocket for my own wand. “Stop talking about her.”
A smirk crossed his face, and he lessened the pressure from his wand against me. “You sure are protective of her.”
Allen backed away at the sound of the booming voice and we both placed our attention on the Potions instructor, Professor Stanton. He eyed us over the rim of his small glasses, a frown resting on his face.
“Lower that wand, Mr. Milton,” he ordered, to which Allen reluctantly obeyed. “Get on up to your room and finish packing before I give you detention until for the rest of your years here.”
“Yes, sir,” Allen muttered.
He tucked his wand in his pocket and gave me one last lingering stare before retreating. Professor Stanton placed his attention on me, his posture relaxing a bit.
“Nirav,” he said, removing his glasses and wiping them off on the handkerchief from his robe pocket, “I see that the relationship with you and your brother isn’t going so well.”
“No, it isn’t,” I said. “I’m sorry, Professor. That won’t happen again.”
“I wonder,” he went on, “why is it that you don’t share the same surname?”
I was caught off guard at the question as my mind was still spinning from the encounter. “Excuse me?”
“Just curiosity; the Head never reveals much personal information about you students, but this has been a concern of mine for a--,”
“He took his father’s last name,” I quickly explained, “and I kept our mother’s. Now, excuse me, Professor, but I have to pack.”
Professor Stanton replaced his glasses. “Right, of course. Have a lovely break, Miss Nirav.”
I was halfway down the hall before he could finish with his well-wishes. Ignoring the other girls, I burst inside my room, slamming the door behind me. He was insufferable, impossible. Screw trying to make peace with him, trying to actually be his sister.
Running a hand through my dark hair, I glanced over at the wall clock: ten more minutes before the bus would come. Quickly, I threw open my trunk on my bed, snatching up clothes and stuffing them inside.
“You’re in a mood.”
Pausing, I rested my hand on the edges of the trunk. “Not now, Kraven.”
Kraven came in anyway, placing his large, hard hands on my shoulders. “I have some more at my house if you want to, well, experiment again. Being locked up in a room is easier for you as we both know how well you take it.”
I shrugged him off, turning to face him. “Get out.”
He smiled, showing off his perfectly straight, white teeth. “My parents are away again, Italy this time I believe. We’ll have the house to ourselves. I’ll just send those wretched house-elves away, maybe even brew a larger batch while I’m at it. My brother said it works well with that Muggle drug Ecstasy, I think. It even it gets a person exited, if you know what I mean.”
“No.” I went to move, but he grasped my wrist, forcing me to stay. “Let go.”
“Listen, Morana,” he said, lowering his head closer to speak directly in my ear, “there are rumors circulating the school about you. Hanging around Julie with her little issue is not helping those rumors. Come with me for break, people will know for sure that you lie in the right bed.”
Removing my wrist from his hold, I pressed my hands against his chest, shoving him back. He tripped over Julie’s trunk, falling down onto her bed.
“Shut up about her,” I snapped, pulling my wand from out my pocket; the boiling anger from the confrontation with Allen was coming to a rise. “Who gives a shit about who she decides to fool around with?”
“Morana, she’s--,” he tried, standing up.
I aimed the wand higher, causing him to stop his approach toward me. “Say one more word about her, and I’ll use the Cruciatus Curse until you piss blood.”
Anger replaced his cool expression. “Fine, stay with the freak. Now I know why you were so hesitant to be with me.”
With that, Kraven started out but froze in the doorway. I lowered my wand as he glanced back at me before leaving. Julie replaced his spot, nervously fiddling around with her sweater.
“I’m just about packed,” I told her, pushing my wand back into my pocket.
She grabbed her own trunk, watching silently as I finished up. After slipping on our coats, we started out in silence. My eyes remained straight ahead, but Julie kept hers on me. Just in time, the bus appeared. Students piled in, Julie soon following, but I waited. Allen was nowhere around. He was usually first on to get a seat all to himself.
“Forget him,” I said under my breath.
Clutching my trunk, I dragged it up to the bus. Julie had saved me a seat near the back, and I slid my trunk up on the rack above next to hers.
“Morana?” Julie asked.
She remained quiet for a few seconds, waiting for the other students to go on up the stairs that resided near us. Once the bus started off and the students erupted in loud conversation, Julie carried on.
“I was wondering if it would be cool to stay at your place for Christmas?”
I looked on toward her, a bit surprised at her question. “Umm--,”
“I’m sorry about throwing this on you,” she quickly explained, “but I meant to ask sooner. I mean, my aunt won’t notice if I don’t show up, she never does, so I thought it’d be cool to hang out some more.”
“No, it’s all right,” I muttered “You can come over, I don’t mind at all.”
Her eyes landed on me, and a small smile came to her face. “Thanks.”
Giving her a small nod, I stared blankly out in front of me. When I took a peek around the whole bus, Allen wasn’t anywhere. Not on the lower deck, and probably not on the upper three; he never enjoyed riding on the top anyway.
Sighing, I turned to converse with Julie. Thinking any more about Allen after that incident wouldn’t do me any better. I wanted to start the break off well, not worried about the asshole Kraven or…or Allen.
Five days came and went, and Allen still wasn’t at the cabin. I had spent the time talking about school with Julie and watching her chess pieces destroy one another, but kept my eyes on the door whenever possible. Allen’s shoes never graced the matt near the door; not at night before I went to bed, and not in the morning when I got up early to fix breakfast. There wasn’t a single hint of him in the cabin, and it worried me.
Christmas Eve crept on by as I lied in my bed, eyes glued to the small window across the room watching as the snow fall let up. Christmas Eve. The tree was up (all Julie’s doing), and still no Allen. Christopher was scarce as well. If anything, Allen went scampering to him yet again.
A soft knock hit my door, but I didn’t turn over.
“Come in,” I said. The door creaked open, and the weight on the bed soon shifted. “What’s wrong, Julie?”
“Nothing,” she muttered.
I turned around, barely seeing her due to the darkness of the room. “Something’s wrong.”
She sighed, crossing her legs on the bed. “I just wanted to thank you.”
“For sticking up for me to Kraven.”
Pushing the covers off a bit, I sat up. “You heard?”
“Yeah, I did. Thanks.”
I shrugged. “No big deal, you are my friend. My only friend, to be honest.”
I managed to see her smile brightly in the dark. “I am so glad I didn’t decide to go to Salem’s Institute.”
I chuckled a bit. “Why? Didn’t you want to be in an actual castle that had more than two floors? Or eat something that resembled real food?”
“That does sound awesome, but I’m more prone to hanging out with you peasants.”
“Why, thank you. If only all of you rich kids were this nice. Maybe you should teach Kraven a bit of a lesson.”
Julie snorted. “Yeah, right. His parents should have shipped him off to Durmstrang when he wanted to go.”
“True. Speaking of, it’s your fault for convincing me to date him.”
“He was kind of good-looking before the attitude came out. Admit it though, you would have loved to actually lose your virginity to him if he wasn’t such a jerk.”
I reached behind me, throwing my pillow at her which she easily caught. She chuckled, holding it high as if to hit me with it.
“Don’t start,” I playfully warned.
“Whatever,” Julie said with a laugh. “We both know how this would end.”
The quiet laughter from both of us died down and she stared at me. Hard. An uncomfortable shiver came over my body as the realization of our closeness dawned on me.
“To be completely serious,” Julie started, “I’m really happy to have met you.”
“Same here,” I murmured.
Her attention turned to the clock in my room before going back to me. “Oh. Happy birthday.”
“It’s not my birthday yet,” I said with a bit of amusement.
“Technically it is. You’re legal...and can finally get your Apparation license so I don’t have to pull you along.”
I laughed. “Whatever. Don’t act like you don’t enjoy tugging me along.”
“You’re kind of right then; I do enjoy it.”
Julie’s smile softened. With her hand raised, her fingers came forward, gently touching the side of my face. I flinched a bit, inwardly scolding myself by the involuntary action, as she tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. Noticing my flinch, she backed off.
“Julie,” I started, my eyesight traveling down to staring at my lap, “I’m sorry. Tha-that...it wasn’t because of you.”
“No,” she said firmly, “it’s because of those damn bruises on your back and legs.”
My head shot up, a slight nerve struck. “Those are old.”
Her eyes narrowed. “That doesn’t matter. You still have them, and you hardly let anyone touch you because of it. You flinch if someone bumps you in the hall. I’m surprised Kraven got as close as he did.”
“No, Morana,” she interrupted, snatching up a tight hold of my hand. “You’re uncomfortable with everyone, and it has to stop. You have to let me help you get over this.”
I opened my mouth, but not a word would come. Her hold on my hand loosened, but she didn’t release it. Instead, with her free hand, she gently raised it, successfully pushing aside more strands of long hair out of my face. My body trembled and shook, but it didn’t stop her.
Julie inched forward, the closeness sending a strange chill through my body as I could almost feel her breath against my face.
“You have to let me help you,” she whispered.
“Julie, I--,” I tried.
A door slammed loudly downstairs, causing us both to split apart jump up. The only one to do that would be Allen.
Forgetting our incident, I shoved the covers aside and hopped off the bed, hurrying out the room. Julie was soon behind me, rushing down the stairs. There were wet shoeprints all on the wood floor, leading in practically a circle, ending at the door. Allen; it had to be him.
An odd feeling took over me, sort of like an ache in my gut, and I ran out the front. Not bothering with the freezing cold wind that sliced at my arms, lifting the bottom up of both my tank-top and my thin pajama bottoms, I peered around.
Julie was standing out, barefoot, in the snow next to me in seconds. “What the hell are we doing?”
“Allen,” I explained.
I spotted his shoeprints heading off toward the woods. That ache in my gut increased, part of it telling me to go back inside, grab my wand at least, and the other telling me to find my brother. That part won over, making me trudge through the three feet of snow after the shoeprints. Julie stayed close behind me the entire time, quietly saying how we should go back. Despite her resistance, she continued to stick with me. Good, I didn’t think I could travel out in the dark woods all by myself to see God-knows-what.
We reached a clearing in the woods in about a minute. There, I spotted Allen. He stood with his back near a tree, dull light from the sky shining down on him. Even with his hood up, I sought out nearly frozen tear stains on his face.
“Allen,” I said, slowly walking toward him. “What’s going on?”
“He wants you now,” he whispered. His sight traveled past me, and he forced off his hood, eyes wide. “What is she doing here?”
“Don’t bother with that,” I said, still moving toward him. “Where have you been?”
Allen groaned. “No, this’ll ruin everything.”
“No, Allen, it won’t.”
I spun around to see Julie being held by her hair with a hand clasping her mouth to keep her quiet. My feet urged me to move forward, do something, but they remained put. Those were Christopher’s grubby hands grasping Julie’s hair and keeping her mouth shut.
“This is perfect,” Christopher said. “We need more in the clan, a lot more.”
“Clan?” I asked, not letting Christopher out of my sight. “Allen, what is he talking about?”
Allen cleared his throat, obviously ready to speak, but Chris yanked back on Julie’s hair, causing a slight, muffled scream to slip out.
“There isn’t time for this,” he snapped, lowering his hand from her mouth.“We need to move on.”
“Let her go,” I shouted. “You came here for me, not her. She has nothing to do with this…with us.”
“Morana, don’t,” Julie shouted.
Christopher smirked, throwing Julie forward. I ran to meet her, but the glaring sound of bones cracking and popping caused my head to snap back up. Christopher’s shirt had ripped off, the bones in his body visibly breaking and changing shape.
“It isn’t a full moon,” Julie cried, scrambling to her feet. “What the hell is going on?”
“He’s a true wolf,” Allen said, “a true, born wolf. Not like me. Not a mutt.”
Latching down on Julie’s hand, I made my move, rushing back toward the bare, thin trees. Christopher tore at us, roaring. Before we could get out of the clearing, a sharp pain shot down my back, pushing out a powerful, throaty scream from my mouth. I was thrown forward, my body twisting so that my back landed roughly against a tree. The stinging pain made my eyes blur over, I could hardly make out Julie being snatched, kicking and screaming. A wave of nausea poured over me as the fire in my back grew. An attempt to move proved useless; my body would no longer obey my mind.
In seconds, it seemed, the screaming from Julie vanished along with the burn on my back. Still, I couldn’t move.
“Julie!” I screamed. The shout was lost to the wind, probably not heard by anyone.
A shadow soon fell over me, I could feel the tears pouring freely down my face by then. I should have listened to that other part of my gut. I should have stayed inside. Maybe then, with the two of us by our wands, we would have stood a chance.
The shadow grew closer, and I lost the ability to even beg.
“Don’t worry, my dear,” a soothing, sickening soft voice said.
The sight around me changed; I was being carried. I didn’t even feel myself in the arms of someone else, but I was certainly being carried. The wind soon left me as I found myself back in the cabin, being gently laid out on the couch in front of the dark fireplace.
The lights shining from the Christmas tree fell over me. Trying to keep my eyes open, I watched as a man knelt down, sliding my hair out of my face. His bright green eyes shone brightly, almost hypnotizing me. He was beautiful, stunning; hardly human really.
“You’re dying,” he stated calmly. “You’re already paralyzed and the amount of blood loss is frightening. I’ll probably give you…another minute or so until you bleed to death.”
“W-what--?” I tried to ask, a numbness beginning to spread from around my back to the front of my stomach.
“That Christopher,” the man continued, “I warned him. Your friend is definitely gone, my dear, but you can be saved. I want to save you, I need to save you. A power like yours can’t be wasted. Now, you’re going to drink and heal within a few weeks. It’ll be painful, there’s no denying it. However, the pain is fleeting as you are only dying on the inside. You will be reborn a more powerful, beautiful creature.”
His face had begun to darken, or my vision was just giving out. Either way, a fear crawled up inside of me. I couldn’t feel a thing; death was certainly yanking me down to a place I wasn’t ready to go to yet.
My mouth was soon invaded by something, a wrist maybe, and a warm, metallic taste dropped into my mouth. Blood, it had to be blood.
“Drink,” the man ordered gently.
He forced the wrist deeper, the blood racing out of him and down to my throat. The taste soon vanished, and my tongue worked on its own, allowing the blood to slide down into my stomach. It growled, twisting and turning. The twisting gravitated toward pain in seconds, egging me to scream. But I didn’t. No, I just drank.
A/N: Chapter image: Ladywolf at TDA
Quote: Three Days Grace (Time of Dying)
Chapter 4: Rebirth
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Two hours was all it took. Two hours, and I began to die, tied up alone on my bed in the dark room. Gabriel, my Sire, walked in occasionally, silently observing, but refused to falter as I cried out for help. Never before would I have prayed for the paralysis to return so I wouldn’t feel anything, but it didn’t.
The first to go was my digestive system. My stomach and intestines twisted and groaned, my liver shutting down, as the blood—the venom—oozed down, seeping into every inch of my body; crawling under my skin and veins. My entire upper body burned as if I were drowned in gasoline and swallowed a lit match as I went.
My lungs went next. Lead must have filled them as I couldn’t even bring myself to sit up with the amount of pressure bearing down on my chest. By then, I could no longer scream or beg as my lungs shriveled and withered away. Gabriel still, even as I squirmed against the tight ropes that held me down, remained stoic to it all. He was only waiting. Waiting for me to die.
Lastly was my heart. The intense beats began to lessen until it was dull thud echoing in my mind every other minute or so. A few minutes after, and it stopped altogether, no longer pumping my blood throughout my body.
Another hour. Another hour and my body officially died; my organs unmoving, even the bits of pure magic that coursed throughout my body had stalled and diminished. My eyes remained open though, staring up at the dark ceiling. Dying wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t get a flash of my past. I didn’t see any bright light.... I didn’t even see Vena. No, darkness was all that encompassed me; gloomy, obscure, darkness.
I couldn’t feel. My body had weakened, numbed. I couldn’t feel when Gabriel sat beside me, lifting my head and hovering above a see-through plastic bag that contained a dark, red liquid.
“My blood,” he whispered. “Drink.”
The bottom of the bag was soon pressed over my mouth. Against my will, my mouth tore into it, my teeth seemingly sharper than before, and the dark liquid rapidly poured out. My body jumped into autopilot, inhaling all of the blood in seconds. Gabriel moved the bag away, but kept at my side, running his fingers gently through my hair as the blood settled in. Once the first drop crash-landed in the pit of my stomach, my nerves jumped alive, shocking my organs awake.
“Brace yourself, my dear; this part is tougher to handle,” Gabriel whispered, his once cold voice sounding softer, gentler.
The blood sunk deeper, the electricity intensifying. My eyes slammed shut as tears flowed; I wanted it to end. I wanted to die. My body may have perished, my organs completely shut down for over an hour, but I had yet to die.
The weight of the bed shifted as Gabriel stood. “Tomorrow, love, and the pain will subside. Tomorrow and your rebirth will be complete.”
His remaining words were lost to me as another electric current shot up my spine, arching my body up off the bed. A cry that so desperately clawed at my throat ripped out, the husky sound ricocheting off the walls. Gabriel remained immune to it, and backed away toward the door.
“Tomorrow,” he repeated. “The pain will put you asleep and tomorrow...you will be reborn.”
The door soon closed and I was left to truly endure my anguish alone with only the sinister darkness to keep me company.
I awoke to the sound of the wolves howling about in the woods. The sound of the howls frightened me; it was like they were right in the room yet I was still alone.
Emitting a soft moan, I sat up, wincing as a prickling feeling washed over my body. I could breathe again. An ache struck my chest each time I exhaled, but at least my body was functioning again. The sounds though. The sounds of the wolves, the wind whistling...it unnerved me. The sounds and the smells; the smell of dirt, mud, and of-of an aroma so appetizing it made my mouth water.
“Gabriel,” I whispered, hardly able to hear myself.
Moving more, I noticed the ropes had been removed; great, they had begun to burn and itch.
“You stopped fidgeting a few hours ago. I knew I could release you without you harming yourself.”
That sweet aroma intensified; glancing toward the door, I spotted Gabriel. The soft light from the hall clashed wonderfully with him, giving him an odd, undeserving, angelic look.
Gabriel strode further in, a gentle smile playing on his rose-colored lips; it was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I crept back a bit as he sat beside me on the bed. “Wh-what now?”
He reached forward, playing with the loose strands of my hair. Surprisingly, my body remained as still as ever as he cool fingers graced my face.
“You eat,” he stated. “You eat. You heal. You grow. Come. I’ll hunt with you here, and then we move onto Britain to finish your transformation with the rest of the coven.”
“Why?” I asked, my stomach beginning to growl the closer Gabriel moved toward me.
“The coven has to meet with you,” he explained. “It is kind of a big deal when a Master such as myself sires someone. And someone as powerful as you are bound to become, they will have a lot of use for you. As of now, we need to get some human blood in you.”
“No, why me? Why did you save me?”
“Well,” he began, “you have something I knew I couldn’t let go. You’re a strong one, I know it. I can feel it. I felt it the moment I laid eyes on you over a year before when I began my observance of Christopher. Us Masters only get a few sires every century or so, and I wanted to make mine count.”
“Christopher?” I asked, feeling a pang just mentioning him. “He took my friend, he took my brother.”
“I apologize, dear,” Gabriel said, “but you cannot contact them. His clan had...gone a bit rogue and killed some of our coven. Any other wolf and I wouldn’t care if you communicated, but Christopher is off limits. That includes young Allen and the woman. The decision is final, so do not go out searching for them. Now, come.”
His stance sounded final, so I pressed it no longer; at least, I wouldn’t press it while I remained weak and unable to fully defend myself.
Gabriel’s hand soon moved down into my own, preparing to assist me out of bed. As he pulled me to my feet, I fell into his hard frame, my legs turning into mush.
“It’s alright,” he whispered. “The weakness will vanish once we get out and get more blood.”
“You,” I muttered, the gratifying fragrance almost hypnotizing me. “You-your blood.”
Gabriel chuckled, holding me up. “Oh, love, you will certainly taste more of my blood in due time. As of now, your body is craving human blood and you need it to begin to harness your strength and fully heal those wounds. Come now.”
I leaned into him as we strode out of the bedroom. We stalled near the stairs and he sighed.
“What?” I asked, the growl in my stomach beginning to hurt.
Gabriel gently pulled me away from him. “It’s frigid out there; you need to wash and get a fresh pair of clothes on before we go out. I don’t want you getting sick.”
“You’re a fledgling. Your immune system is still working with your blood and the vampire blood; you cannot risk getting injured or attracting any illnesses.”
“No more talk,” he snapped. His voice was hushed, tender, but the tone completely stiff. I could only stare into his gleaming, icy eyes, my body frozen and afraid to move or speak any further. “You do what I say; you always obey your Sire, understood?”
“Yes,” I said with a shaky nod.
“Good.” He cocked his head to the side, playing a bit with my hair. “You need a trim, love, it’s far too long to begin hunting.”
“Yours--?” I tried to ask, but cut myself off.
He smiled. “I manage; a newborn cannot show the slightest bit of weakness at the beginning of the transformation. Now, come and let’s get you situated.”
My first hunt went by with drastic results. I will admit the shorter hair did wonders; it didn’t get in the way nearly as much as it could have. However the hunt was still draining. The unsuspecting victim Gabriel had acquired nearly got away as I was still growing use to my raging senses; the sounds of dogs barking two towns over, the smell of rotting garbage, all of it jumbled together, distracting me. Gabriel had to step in to attain the victim for me; he didn’t argue, he didn’t fret. He just handed the man over, allowing me to feed until the man was almost dead.
My second hunt was much better. It occurred the night after, and I managed to obtain the victim after only ten minutes of running. The blood was...satisfying. It eased the ache in my stomach and somehow melted into everything, going into my veins and rushing to my heart. It pounded faster, harder, heightening my senses even more. Still, I pinned for another taste of the fluid that rushed through Gabriel’s veins.
By three weeks, I was ready to meet the coven. Gabriel made me a fake passport to get through security and we took a private jet over. Seeing the coven, the Elders, face-to-face almost made my heart stop again. They were tall, intimidating, and hardly emotional. I was yet to be given the title of full-member as I was only a fledgling. However, Gabriel insisted he would see what I could do for them in order to gain respect. Until then, I would be allowed out during the night to test my amount of control around a crowd with a guide: Raoul Sanguini. The man was older, but wasn’t nearly as liked and respected as the others for being, as they called it, a “wizard pet.” Of all the rules Gabriel explained to me, the main one was dealing with wizards. Contacting Christopher’s clan was highly forbidden as well, but keeping close contacts with the wizards was just as frowned upon. The Ministry treated vampires like animals, so contact with any wizards wasn’t liked. Doing magic itself, mainly for the younger vampires, could result in punishment. Sanguini was lucky to remain around the coven as long as he was useful when it came to watching fledglings like me.
During my first night out in crowd, Sanguini stayed dutifully glued to my side as my senses ran wild. I could hear, almost taste, the heart of each person passing by. Even though it was late, well after three in the morning, quite a few people remained out. Sanguini noted my troubles. At first, I believed he would drag me back to the Elders, have me undergo some sort of punishment for not fulfilling my task. Instead, he hauled me off to a small, cramped alley and told me to wait. In seconds, he returned dragging along some stumbling man.
“Here,” he explained, shoving him at me. “You could use a little snack.”
Without wasting any time, I tilted his neck to the side, jamming my teeth down into his throat while covering his mouth with my free hand. He squirmed, cried out, but I dug deeper, lapping up the thin, salty, alcohol-fueled blood that rushed out as that large vein I aimed for ruptured. The taste wasn’t as ripe as others Gabriel gave me, but it was enough to settle the thumping in my stomach.
“Enough, Morana,” Sanguini said. His hand landed on my shoulder and he forced me away. “I said enough, child.”
I stepped back as the man fell to the ground in the dirty alley, bleeding to death and moaning as he could hardly speak.
Sanguini chuckled. “You’re like a little lion cub; you just don’t know when to quit. You had best learn some control soon.”
“What’s the point?” I asked, a bit breathless. “Gabriel’s going to keep me locked up most of the time.”
“That wolf hasn’t gone back to that cabin of yours in America.”
I straightened up a bit. “What?”
“Yes, Gabriel’s been checking. He figures, with a little more control, you can go back home and live there without constant supervision. A fledgling with a Master Sire gets more freedom than the usual ones. You’re lucky.”
I stared down at the pool of blood falling out of the drunken man; going back to that place didn’t have me jumping for joy, but it was the only good option I’ve been faced with since traveling with Gabriel.
“It’ll be better than staying here,” I said.
Sanguini nodded. “Agreed. Come on now, I need to quench a thirst that doesn’t deal with blood.”
He pulled a folded, dark handkerchief from his pocket, wiping my mouth off with it.
“Thank you,” I muttered.
He nodded, taking hold of my arm. He began to walk, but stalled, glancing back at the groaning man.
“He’s going slowly,” Sanguini explained. “Someone could find him and he could talk. End it now.”
He pushed me forward, almost causing me to trip up over him. The man’s feeble hand reached for my boot, attempting to plead.
“Morana,” Sanguini warned, glancing around in case anyone came by.
I had never ended any of my hunts before; Gabriel would step in for that. But I had to do it. Eventually, I knew I would have to do it.
Bending down, I cradled the man’s head in both hands and twisted as hard as I could. A sickening crack filled the air for a second, and the man’s body slumped. His agonizingly slow heartbeat was no more. I swallowed a thick lump in my throat as I stood straight, stuffing my shaking hands deep into my pants pockets.
“Good work,” Sanguini said, wrapping his arm around my shoulders. “Let’s go.”
With his hold tight, he led me away. I glanced back as we walked, feeling the knots in my stomach loosen up. The thought of ever actually murdering someone never really crossed my mind until Gabriel entered my life, but...but it wasn’t as difficult as I had perceived. Maybe it was the blood settling or the fact that Gabriel had turned me into a hunter. Either way, I wasn’t as sick as I thought I would be.
“First kill,” Sanguini whispered as we walked. “Upset?”
“No,” I responded, equally as quiet, “full.”
A laugh escaped him. “Oh, you are certainly Gabriel’s. I see the vampire taking you over sooner than with the other fledglings. Good. You’ll need those animalistic skills because at the end of the day, we’re all animals, my dear. Just ones held in captivity waiting to break out into the wild.”
His ending words sunk in, stirring hints of apprehension inside me, as he led me to a tiny pub in some seedy little place a bit off of London. It was almost five in the morning by then, far too late for it to be opened, but a group of men remained in the place and the bartender only slid a pre-made drink toward Sanguini as he sat on a stool at the bar.
“Stronger one for my friend,” he instructed.
“I don’t drink,” I told him, shivering slightly as the blood smell from the few others in the room filled me up.
“It’ll help with everything,” Sanguini explained.
The bartender sat a foul-smelling drink in front of me, but I downed it. The smell of blood still remained, but wasn’t anywhere near as strong. I took three more, only smelling Sanguini and something that resembled a wet dog. By the time I worked on my fourth, Sanguini had left me alone to go to the restroom. Checking my watch, I saw that it was getting close to sunrise. Gabriel would go insane if I wasn’t back at the house.
Stumbling off the stool, I checked around the small room for Sanguini. All that remained was the group of men, three of which had passed out on the table. The bartender was gone, possibly preparing to finally close up. Sighing, I made my way out of the pub. Sunlight peeked out of the gray clouds from above, but not enough to do any damage. Gabriel had promised that my skin would be able to withstand small bouts of direct sunlight the longer I absorbed his blood as Masters and Elders could walk almost freely for long periods of time. The day that would come would be welcoming; not feeling the warm sun against my face was something I didn’t want to experience for long.
“A little late for you to be out, kid.”
I spun around, almost colliding with one of the other men in the pub. He smiled down at me, pushing away a strand of his perfectly combed, light brown hair.
“Duncan,” he said, holding out his hand.
I gently shook it, feeling the smell of dog growing. “Morana. What do you want?”
“Just to see why a vampire is out so late.” My eyes widened but he waved me off. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell.”
“How do you know?” I asked, taking a step back from him.
“I’m a wolf,” he explained, “that’s what you’re smelling.”
“Christopher,” I quickly said, “are you a part of his clan?”
He sighed, shaking his head. “I’m more of a mutual party. I know what he did to anger the coven that rests here. I figure you’re a part of them?”
“Oh, then I guess we shouldn’t speak much.”
“Then why did you follow me out here?”
A serious expression came to his face, and he moved closer. “You smell like him, Allen I mean. I was just a bit curious--,”
The hint of uneasiness I felt left at once. “Allen? He’s my brother.”
“Oh, no wonder.”
“How do you know him?”
“This mutt Fenrir brought him further into the clan once Christopher up and vanished with a few birds.”
“A few birds?” I questioned. “Girls, you mean? Was one of them a little young, around my age?”
“Yeah, only one young bird that looked barely out of school; Jordan or something,” he answered. Julie. This “Jordan” had to be Julie. At least she was still alive. “Anyway, Christopher is long gone, but Fenrir figured Allen would be a good addition to the clan. He’s been fishing for more young kids on his side since he’s pretty heavily involved with the Dark Lord and those Death Eaters or whatever they call themselves.”
“I thought the wizards didn’t like you wolves.”
“They don’t, but apparently when the Dark Lord was up and running, he promised a few a place with him. Fenrir figures the younger kids he have, the bigger and faster army he can build for whenever the Dark Lord decides to show up again. He knows Allen is a wizard, so he knows he can use him.”
“Allen doesn’t like the Dark Arts,” I said, knowing full well about what the Dark Lord was capable of. “He hated that our school taught it so much.”
“Fenrir is quite persuasive,” Duncan said. “He can make a lot of people do what he wants.”
“Will you watch him?” I abruptly asked. “I mean, are you a wizard?”
“No,” he said. “The only reason Fenrir keeps me and my brother Darren around is because we’re full wolves; apparently, we can help him out a bit more by getting other wolves to go along with his mutts.”
“Oh. Can you still…?”
Duncan smiled, digging around in the pockets of his pants. He pulled out a small white card, handing it over.
“This is the number to my workplace,” he said. “Give it a ring and I’ll get back to you. Don’t let that Sire of yours find out, okay?”
“Okay,” I said, staring up at him. “It doesn’t take much to get your help, does it?”
He shook his head. “Well, not for the people I like.”
“You barely know me.”
“But you’re not like some of the parasites I’ve met, no offense.”
“Well, you’re different. I can...see it.”
He stared hard into me as if trying to see through me; that uncomfortable feeling crawled up into me again, but it was easier to handle. It was the first time in what seemed like decades where I felt I could truly trust someone.
“Don’t worry about that animal inside,” Duncan said gently. “It’s possible to control it; you just have to find the will to do it.”
“Yeah, well, thanks,” I said, stuffing his card in my pocket.
In seconds, Sanguini burst out of the door, red in the face.
“Morana,” he exclaimed. “I was worried. Come on, let’s go.”
He walked off, not sparing Duncan a glance, taking me with him.
“Don’t tell Gabriel you know them,” Sanguini said from ahead, “or it’s both of our heads.”
“I won’t,” I whispered, fiddling around with the card in my pocket.
I stole a last look back, seeing Duncan keeping his sights on me the entire time. He gave me a small nod, and warmth began to take over the cold spot in my chest. If I couldn’t watch Allen myself, then at least someone trustworthy could help me. For Julie, I just had to resort to blind faith that Christopher will keep her alive for years to come.
With a small wave at the handsome wolf, I allowed Sanguini to pull me away, all the while hoping against everything that Allen wasn’t so gullible to align himself with the crazies that still believed the Dark Lord was returning.
A/N: Quote: Disturbed (The Animal)
Thanks for reading!