Chapter 1 : Painful Curiosity
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The ‘Boy Who Lived’ is still a boy. The wizarding world so far unknown. He slumbers, the sleep of the young, content for once, in the womb-like cupboard under the stairs.
The boy dreams and easy sleep turns restless. She’s screaming, light flaring green and bright. Pain, sudden and quick, then gone. He snuffles in his sleep and stretches, then eases slowly down into dreamlessness again.
Far away, in another realm, a witch is awake.
Her sleep is not so easy, dreams not so easily defined. Strange, frightening dreams. Something beckons her; a throb in her soul, a deep pain she cannot define, calls her from her warm bed. Again. She finds herself wandering, corridors silent. Bizarre images flash in her head as she wanders. Silent. She has honed this skill at least. She roams the deserted corridors until she feels at ease, or at least enough to fall exhausted into bed. For this is an ongoing thing. Every night. Looking for something she cannot find.
Finally, a witch sleeps too.
The corridor is silent, students and teachers long since gone to bed. She steps, silent in bare feet over the rough stones, soundless. Darkened alcoves hide her if the need arises, her curtain of black hair to hide her face. Wand in her pocket, forgotten, she moves through the darkness trailing slim fingers against the icy wall to guide her. Stairs emerge suddenly before her and she barely catches herself, toes hooked over the edge of the top stair, balancing precariously. Peering down, she sees nothing. Drawing her wand from a hidden pocket in her robes she murmurs a spell.
The stairway is deserted, the door at the bottom closed. She has no doubt that there are powerful wards guarding against entry. She steps carefully down until she reaches the door. No simple spell will open this lock, she thinks, but she feels no magic. No vibrating hum that betrays enchantment, to her at least. Not all have the gift. She reaches tentatively for the knob, curious. She closes a soft white hand over the brass handle, cool beneath her palm. The sudden surge of power is so quick, she feels it a moment too late. Before she can jerk her hand away her flesh is fused, bonded fully to the metal.
“Shit!” she moans, stifling sobs.
There is nothing for it, she realizes. She can either wait until morning and be found here or…
Bracing herself she furiously tears fused skin away from the knob. The pain buckles her knees for a moment and she clamps her uninjured hand over her mouth to smother her cries. She wipes her streaming eyes briskly on the sleeve of her robes. For another night then.
Stealing quickly up the stairway she risks a glance at her injured hand before extinguishing her wand. Her palm is torn, bloody and throbbing. She watches and gags as tight blisters rise and break. Curious, the very center of her palm is virtually unmarred, the only injury a letter “S” branded deep into the flesh.
She wakes abruptly. The dormitory is hushed. Light does not penetrate these walls and sound is muffled. Silence here is pressure. Her eyes flick to the clock on the wall, it’s just after four-thirty. Her hand is throbbing but she will not allow it to drive her from bed again. Her attempts at healing charms have failed. That is not her gift.