Chapter 1 : 1
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I stood with my wand drawn, my heart racing. The man in front of me looks confused and for the first time since I’d met him, I actually could see fear in his eyes. This man who made my life hell, who had twisted the truth and showed the world, my friends and my family that I had let them all down. I stood there, knowing that within seconds I could have my revenge and I could make him suffer like I had for the past few months but still I was frozen. I remained still as he looked me square in the eye, a small smirk crossing his face as if he was mentally challenging me to make my next move. I was not brave enough to torture him, to make him suffer. I was not so cruel and as twisted as he was.
I closed my eyes and after a few seconds of silent thought, uttered those unforgivable words.
‘Engaged?’ I asked again, not quite sure of the words James had just spoken. He nodded enthusiastically while continuously tapping me on the shoulder as if he was physically driving the idea into me. I could not believe it. The kindest and most loveable man I had ever met was betrothed to Lily Evans, the smart red head who always seemed to get in the way. James and Lily Potter just didn’t quite fit together as much as James and Cora Potter did, well not in my mind anyway. I loved James ever since he had been forced to spend a whole evening with him during detention and he had always had a soft spot for me as I helped him and Sirius plan their little pranks. Nothing could happen thanks to Lily, who was always wrapped around him. I always assumed that they wouldn’t last and once they had broken up I would be James’ shoulder to cry on. How wrong did I get it?
James pats me on the back again before disappearing into the other room of Dorcas' small flat that was now used as a makeshift head quarters and I was left to watch that red haired cockroach show of the rather small, glittering ring to all the other Order members. She shot a glance at me then rolled her eyes as I forced a smile across to her. We had never got on, not since Hogwarts and we had only spoken when we had needed to when I was inducted into the Order. If there were any woman I would not want James to spend the rest of his life with, it would be Lily Evans. I just hope James would see his mistake before he paid for it; I would never want him to be hurt.
Caradoc Deanborn approached me. He was the main link between the Order and the ministry and also had the immense pleasure of being my boss. As much as it was only an admin job, he hated me. It was obvious and he would constantly stalk me as I filed away at my desk, waiting for me to misspell something or to seal a piece of parchment incorrectly but I, being the complete stubborn individual that I was would not let him have that satisfaction. It was the determination to show him that I'm smarter than he thought I was which stopped me from quitting the low paid, monotonous job.
‘Why are you looking so glum, Cora?’ He asked in that patronising tone that would set my blood boiling.
‘Glum? Not me, it’s a celebration Mr. Deanborn…’ I shot him a mocking smile and leaned back on the edge of the table behind me. It was slightly uncomfortable but I ignored the pain and returned my gaze to James who had now flung his arms around Sirius, pulling him into a brotherly hug.
‘Not jealous of Miss Evans are we?’ I rolled my eyes. ‘I never thought that you were James’ type, he always seemed to go for the more…free spirited.’ I choked back a laugh and smirked at him.
‘If that is the word you want to use to describe her then…’ He did not dare say anymore as he realised he had hit a nerve. Although I retained my composure, he seemed pleased with himself to be able to rattle me slightly. I looked at the man with complete utter hate in my eyes, he detested me on the pure basis that I was part of the Order and he was unsure of my loyalties. I knew clearly were my loyalties lay and as much as they lay with the Order, they mostly revolved around myself. Sounds selfish, but how would I be able to protect anyone else if I wasn’t all right. Anyone can pretend to play the all-selfless and giving character if they want, but it’s all so fake. Lily tries it, and I am the only person who can see right through it.
The snow outside was continuing to fall heavily and there was no real reason for me to stay any longer. The Order had called a meeting but I realised it was nothing official, it was to give James and Lily some sort of engagement party since it would be tough to have anything official with everyone connected to them being targets for Death Eaters. The small battles between the Death Eaters and ourselves were escalating and I could tell that sooner or later someone was not going to be able to be patched up by St. Mungos and sent off home. I had been patched up in this flat half a dozen times now, the most recent injury required some ribs to be healed and a large volume of sleeping potion to help me avoid the pain. It was a sacrifice whenever you got caught in a situation where wands were drawn and curses were exchanged and Voldemort's small armies were growing stronger. Their attacks were unexpected and truly evil. They'd torture any innocent soul for information on people like us who had decided to stand against them. It was disgusting and I realised that I needed to keep my family safe. Along with my older brother, we set up security charms and extra measures to insure our parent’s home would remain safe and it did. After a few harsh tests we agreed it would hold up and warned our parents to stay visual. They agreed not to leave the house at night alone; darkness was the disguise Death Eaters would use to commit their evil, cold-blooded crimes. I felt somewhat reassured.
'I'm off home,' I whispered to Sirius as James and Lily gathered, informing the Order members of every little detail about how they got engaged. I heard something about a broomstick, Lily refusing to fly then James getting down onto one knee. I nearly gagged but Sirius laughed at me and wished me a goodnight. I left and wandered away from Dorcus' flat before Apperating two doors down from the little house I had been raised in.
'I'm home.' I called, pulling off the heavy cloak that had been soaked by the constant sleet. Richard, my older brother laughed at me while pulling at his smartest dress robes, that confident smirk across his face. 'I see, Richard has another "informal meeting" with his new shop worker,' I shook my head and tutted sarcastically but he pushed me playfully. I hoped my parents would hear that he had another date with another younger girl from work but he just laughed at me.
'Nice try, little sis but Dad's too busy reading to take notice of our little conversation and Mum isn't back from Mrs Blackwell’s yet...' He pushed a strand of his long, dark hair behind his ear and grinned cheerily into the hall mirror.
'Are you going to get her before you go?' I raised my eyebrows, silently reminding him of our agreement to escort our parents wherever they were going after nightfall. He sighed and then pushed past me, informing that he'd be back in a few minutes. The door slammed and I laughed quietly to myself before walking towards my father’s office. I eased the door open slowly; you would not what to interrupt my father if he was reading. It was wrong to interrupt him if he were doing anything, even if you were in tears. He thought of showing emotion as a sign of weakness. As a child, I had learned this the hard way, one of the most memorable occasions being when my darling little china doll broke when I was only 9. I had been running around in the garden, trying to teach her how to fly a broomstick when she had slipped out my grip and collided with the ground. I had picked up the small pieces and carried it into my father, knowing that he could repair it with his magic wand, just like Mum did if she dropped one of the dinner dishes while clearing the table. It was one of the biggest mistakes I could have made.
I was in tears by the time I reached him and he had looked at me sternly, seemingly disappointed by my behaviour. He took the pieces out of my small hands and told me that he would not fix her until I stopped crying. Shocked by the warning, my crying became louder and he took that lovely little shattered doll and placed her high up on the fireplace, forbidding me for touching her until he said so. He did not repair her and she remained in pieces. Hours, days, weeks and eventually years passed and my father did not give me permission to hold my china doll. I did not dare ask for her, knowing fine well what the answer would be. Infact, as I stared at my father, sitting, reading in that armchair, I could see my china doll sitting in the exact same place he had left her. My mother had told me that my father was just trying to teach me about life, and indeed as I looked back now, I had learned. I had cried no more than twice during my teenage years in front of my Father. I realised there was just no need for it.
Realising that my father was not going to acknowledge me, I turned on my heel and closed the door quietly behind me. It was indeed useless and I had not longing to stay in that room with only the dulling silence for company. The light from the kitchen was bright and I headed towards it, knowing that there would be something sweet to fill my stomach until my mother came home. It was terrible, it really was. I was 20 years old but I still had not cooked for myself, I blamed it on the Hogwarts house elves, the creepy little creatures did everything for you. My mother would tut at me when I'd come home for my rather monotonous job and ask her what she was making for dinner; however she had never refused to make me anything. The smell of fresh home baking filled my lungs and I realised that my mother had probably spent all day in the kitchen baking. She'd make cake after cake then take them to family members and friends in the small village; Mrs Blackwell was always on the top of her list. The lonely old woman hadn't stepped out of her home since her husband died when I was just a girl. Mum always told me it made her realise how lucky she have us, my father, my brother and I. I guess I just didn't realise how lucky I was to have her.
I was sitting at the dining table, a cup of tea and a piece of warm Victoria sponge in my hand when Richard came bursting through the back door. I immediately jumped up, sending the cup flying and I was about to scream at him when I noticed the look of horror on his face. He looked around the kitchen and called out for my mother before I interrupted him, asking him what was going on.
'Mum's not back yet?' I shook my head, stepping on the broken cup and moving closer towards my brother. 'Mrs Blackwell said she had already left. I don't understand how I could have missed her...' I grabbed my wand and pushed out past him, into snow covered garden. The cold filled me as I realised that had no cloak and shivers erupted as I heard my brother call out for my mother.
There was no reply.