Author's Note: well normally I put these things at the end of the chapter but I didn't want to ruin the suspense this one time :D. Anyway this is written with many thanks to my brilliant beta, JackieJLH
Disclaimer: All rights belong to JK Rowling and all associated publishing companies, no copyright infringement is intended.
The sun was just breaking over the horizon, spreading its slanting rays upon a shallow valley that seemed to hold something ominous in its air. A voice called a halt to the proceedings that had happened in this dark place during the night and the silence that followed seemed weighted with dread. No birds called, nor animals rustled as might have been suspected at this hour; it was as if nothing dared to move save from the three that could have been the sole occupiers of the valley.
The half light of approaching dawn revealed a young woman trembling on the bare earth, where she had just spent the worst night of her life. Regardless of this, her mind was as sharp as it had ever been; in fact a clarity she had never known she could feel had settled upon her. She could taste her own blood in her mouth still, and although the pain had settled to a dull ache - instead of the bone-splitting horror of what it had been - it would not leave. She gave a slight wince every time she drew breath, and her breathing was ragged through chapped lips. It didn’t matter anymore though; she had known from the minute she’d been brought here what her fate would be, and she could sense it was almost over now. She was going to die.
A monstrosity of a man stood over her, lazily twirling a wand between his slender, white fingers. He regarded the woman before him, dispassionately noting her almost destroyed beauty from her sloping cheekbones that held the dulling marks of bruises and shallow cuts to the crumpled position in which her body lay. He’d had an enjoyable night, though it had been profitless, and was idling the minutes away as the line of light that blazed the sun’s progress across the slanting land drew steadily close. He knew his fun would be over by the time it reached this place.
Only one other person was there; another woman whose eyes never left the scene in front of her. She had been allowed to accompany the man as a reward for delivering this woman to him, and she smiled at the other’s pain. She was aching to add her own mark to her, but she did not dare step out of line on a capture that was so important. She was surprised her master still remained calm in spite of the fact that he had learned nothing.
“Do you think the sun will rise on a day when I am not here, not in control?” he mused to the woman shivering at his feet. His voice was almost disinterested, but there was an underlying tremor that did much to betray his thoughts.
“The sun will rise on such a day for all who walk this earth,” she answered dully, no longer caring what he said or did.
He gave her a smile that did not meet his pitiless eyes, the shadows surrounding his face seeming to enhance his clear cut features as he refocused his attention on what was at hand.
“Not I,” he told her calmly. “I walk a road that none have taken before me, and that day will not exist for such as I.”
The woman on the ground gave a derogatory laugh, causing the other woman’s eyes to flash in anger. She made as if to hit her, and the movement was picked up in the steadily changing light. The man held up a single finger and she subsided without question.
“You think anyone will be able to stand in my way?” he sneered down at her. “You imagine your Muggle-loving leader could stop me? I wouldn’t call his half-formed little group a threat. You, in any case, have proved pretty worthless.”
He bent to tilt her head up with three fingers, holding her chin.
She shivered as she felt that touch that held everything of the previous night and promised nothing better for the future, but she still met his gaze steadily. There was still something that burned within her to offer the defiance that had been a part of her all her life.
“One day, the phoenix’s wings will be free to open on a world untainted by you,” she stated, mouth curling into an infuriating smile.
For a moment the man’s fingers tightened threateningly on her face, but then he laughed.
“Perhaps I cannot see the future right now, but the present is plenty of time to be changing that. The future is no longer yours to worry about,” he said coldly.
The dark haired woman’s eyes gleamed with anticipation as she pointed her wand at the woman on the ground.