Chapter 1 : The Beginning
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Seventeen year-old Lucia Ignatius lay on her stomach in the darkened living room of her flat, her head pillowed on her crossed arms, and stared listlessly into the roaring hearth. Her storm-gray eyes were welling with tears for the umpteenth time that day as the memories rolled over her again and again. Why, why didn’t he let me fight? she asked herself silently. Maybe I could have done something, maybe things would have turned out differently, maybe… She wiped the tears away with her hand and, in the same motion, brushed a loose strand of her dark auburn hair back into place before resuming her original position.
It had been just yesterday when Hogwarts had closed for the summer—perhaps for forever, she thought sadly—and over a month since two of the closest people to her had been murdered in the Death Eaters’ attack on the school. Dumbledore had been killed, as everyone knew, by Severus Snape, former Professor and current traitor to the Order of the Phoenix. But few people knew about the death of her father, Henry Ignatius, a quiet but fierce Auror from the Ministry of Magic and part-time Healer at St. Mungo’s who had died at the hands of a Death Eater. What tortured Lucia the most was her father’s visit before the battle began, before anyone could dream of the losses that would be sustained that night.
Lucia was writing a last-minute essay for Defense Against the Dark Arts in the Ravenclaw common room. A pop from the fireplace made her look up blearily from her work. She was in time to see the flames in the hearth flash green before a tall, grey-haired wizard stepped out. He brushed loose ash from his cloak while Lucia rose in surprise. “Father? What’s wrong? Why—” Lucia began before he stopped her.
“The Order has been notified of a Death Eater attack at Hogwarts,” he said hurriedly. “I’m here to do whatever it takes to get those monsters out of here, but in the meanwhile—”
“But Father,” Lucia interrupted. “I’m of age, I’m a member of the Order, and I’m here already. Why wasn’t I notified?”
“Because there is no way I am letting my girl put herself in danger of getting killed!” Her father’s voice rang eerily in the empty common room. His brown eyes locked with her grey ones in a silent war of wills before he continued, using the nickname he had given her as a young girl. “Now listen, Angel, there isn’t much time left. I came through here to ask you to do something for me. No matter what happens tonight, you must not leave the common room. Do you understand?”
“But why can’t I help—“
“No, Angel! Don’t even think about helping the Order! They’re here to kill this time—there will be no fun and games tonight. I order you, do not leave the common room under any circumstances until the coast is clear.” And her father turned away hastily for the portrait hole.
“Father,” Lucia called after him in consternation. “What do you mean by ‘kill’?”
“Just stay here!” he shouted as he opened the portrait hole and leaped out. The portrait slammed shut, and she heard the muffled voice of her father as he cast a spell on the portrait.
“Father, no!” Lucia ran to the portrait hole and threw herself against the door. It refused to budge, no matter how many times she tried to get out, and she finally collapsed on the floor in tears.
That was where Professor McGonagall found her after the battle was over. Lucia rose from the floor where she had been curled up and quickly stood to attention before her Transfiguration Professor. “Professor, I’m so sorry, Father locked me in here—” Lucia stopped at the pained expression on the witch’s face.
“Miss Ignatius, my consolations,” McGonagall began with difficulty. “Your father is—he’s dead. He was killed by one of the Death Eaters during the battle. From what we can tell, it seems as if he was Crucioed relentlessly by the last witch he was dueling before he was murdered.”
Lucia felt her world swirl around her. It took all her control to stay upright. “Who?” she managed to say. Her voice cracked in a faint whisper. “Who did it?”
“Bellatrix Lestrange,” McGonagall replied sadly, and that was the last thing Lucia remembered before fainting dead away into McGonagall’s arms.
Lucia let the tears fall as her memory finished its playback. He knew, he knew he might not survive…and he wanted me to have the chance to live. She rose and stumbled to the pile of tissues lying on the coffee table next to her. Turning her back to the fireplace, she blew her nose vigorously, her mind still occupied by her nightmarish memory.
Pop! A familiar noise from the fireplace interrupted her thoughts. She whirled around to see a familiar head sitting in the now emerald-green flames. A bespectacled boy with unruly raven-black hair and a famous scar was staring out of the fire with eyes that matched the fire around him. “Lucia?” Harry Potter asked. “Is this a bad time?”
“Harry! Of course not, but what’s going on?” Lucia walked over and knelt before the hearth. Even though they had rarely met except through their mutual friends, she still felt closely tied to this Gryffindor. Now, she realized sadly, they were both orphans because of Voldemort’s hellish war.
“I’m alerting all Order members of a Death Eater attack on Diagon Alley,” Harry said grimly. “We need as many fighting members out there as soon as possible. Can you go?”
“Why—” Lucia hesitated for a brief second. The news shocked her, and yet her mind was still clear enough to know what her answer should be. “Yes,” she said finally.
“Good. Apparate to the entryway before Gringotts’ in five minutes or less. You have your license, right?”
“Yes, but does it really matter at this point?”
He rolled his eyes at her, and she snorted in return. Everyone in the Order, including Lucia, knew full well how he had double-Apparated with an injured Dumbledore from the far coast of Wales to Hogwarts—even though he was still a minor. “I’m not going to answer that. See you there.” And with another pop, he disappeared.
Lucia continued to stare into the fire for a long moment after Harry had left. At last, her opportunity had come to do something useful for the cause. And yet, anything could happen to her during the fight. Would this have been an invitation her father would have wanted her to accept?
She shook herself out of her melee of emotions and walked to the coffee table where her wand lay. She picked up the slender stick and savored the feeling of its magic coursing through her arm. Lucia took a step backwards and raised her wand, mentally summoning the elemental powers from the air around her into a swirling mass of color and energy.
Because of the fickle and often explosive nature of elemental magic, the Ministry of Magic had passed strict regulations against its practice. However, Henry Ignatius had been one of the few wizards left who knew the secrets of controlling the four elements—fire, water, earth, and air. Not only had he practiced it secretly while escaping detection, but he also had trained his only daughter carefully to follow in his footsteps.
Lucia let the power build up in the elemental cloud as her father had taught her. If her concentration faltered, she knew there was nothing to stop the elements from breaking free and annihilating her instantly. But nothing happened out of the ordinary. Red, green, blue, and white flashes whirled and sparkled around her with increasing speed. Lucia basked in the energy of her elemental magic for a full minute before vaporizing the cloud with a flick of her wand. The living room remained visibly unchanged, but she could still feel the remnants of the power she had summoned, lingering like a pleasantly strong taste in her mouth.
Lucia felt a smile break across her face for the first time in weeks. She was ready at last.
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