Whispers enveloped Alcyone as she sat huddled in the Gryffindor common room, staring blindly into the fire and plucking restlessly at the small red buttons on her cream cardigan.
Her little cousin…Elisabeth Lerant…a ten-year-old…
Somehow her mind hadn’t registered it. It was so impossible. So unreal.
A death in the family. That was what they used to call it when somebody died. Wagging tongues gossiped about it. The funeral held everybody’s attention for some time and then passed on, just one more event in a lifetime.
Now it was her family that was the center of it all.
But Elisabeth hadn’t passed away, peaceful and serene, content in old age.
Her life had been snapped off, cut short, cruelly. She could have been tortured, screaming for hours before she was finally granted the mercy of death. She could have watched her friends die in terror, not understanding.
Alcyone hadn’t realised she had been biting her lip until she tasted blood.
The coppery taste brought her back to the present. Faintly, she was aware of the murmurs, the quiet movements around her. But they seemed of a different world.
She glanced at the clock indifferently. It was time for lunch. She was in the midst of the streams of students heading toward the Great Hall when she heard someone call her name. She waited patiently until Regulus caught up with her.
“I…I’m sorry about your cousin,” he began.
“So many people died.”
She nodded in calm acknowledgement.
“But…well….at least not many wizards died…that’s the positive side to it…”
They were pressed together so closely that he felt her stiffen.
“The positive side?” Alcyone repeated disbelievingly. “It was an act of terrorism Regulus! It was pure evil!”
She welcomed the irrational tongues of anger that began to flare up within her. Feeling was a joy after the void that had filled her.
“Yeah, but…it’s a good thing that there wasn’t much magical blood spilt, right? I mean…”
Regulus was more than a head taller than Alcyone but she seemed to tower above him as her rage broke.
“So it’s all right that blood was spilt so long as it wasn’t pure blood? So long as it was Muggle blood? How can you even think that?”
“But – but that’s the way of the world,” Regulus was at a loss for words.
“The way of the world?” she said derisively. “Fifty-two people die and you call it the way of the world?”
“I didn’t mean-”
“That’s exactly what you meant,” she said scathingly. “I suppose I should have seen it coming, shouldn’t I? Considering your family?”
He stared at her.
“Speechless?” she asked recklessly. Is this why you’ve never discussed your family with me Regulus? Because the dreaded blood-traitor might just come to visit in the holidays?”
“Don’t make excuses.”
“You don’t know the whole story!”
“I don’t need to.”
“But if you did, you wouldn’t do this, you would understand-”
“I think I’ve given you enough understanding, Regulus,” she hissed. “What’s the whole story anyway? That you’re a Death Eater?” Scorn dripped off her words.
Something flickered in his eyes and Alcyone gasped.
“I don’t want to talk to you.”
She stalked away in the direction of the Great Hall without another word.
Behind her, Regulus stood stunned, in dismay and disappointment.