The funeral arrived, and after the ceremony, we gathered in the small graveyard. It did not feel right to leave her here and I certainly did not want to come back to this place to lay flowers in the years to come. I looked around me to the neighbours and family friends; their heads were bowed as the wooden case was lowered into the ground. Richard and my father stood beside me. They did not once, that whole day, make eye contact with me or acknowledge my presence. I felt invisible as I realised none of my fellow Order members had turned up to support me. I wondered silently if they had done this purposely as I had requested for them to leave me alone a few nights ago, or if they just could not be bothered with me anymore. I was a burden to most of them, even a waste of time to some. I wondered why James didn’t show up, I felt betrayed. He had spent the time holding me, waiting for me to calm down. He even laid out my outfit. I wanted to tell him what my father and Richard thought of me, I wanted him to tell me that they were wrong, and I did everything I could to save her. I felt so alone as the small gathering broke away and disappeared, leaving me alone with the fresh grave. I looked down at the ground and apologised to my mother for the final time, before turning on my heel and leaving the horrible place.
I walked on my own, my father and brother walking far in front of me. I wanted to run up to them, break down and fall to my knees, begging for their forgiveness and I had to calm myself, counting each footstep to stop me from doing so. The snow lay thin, footprints had melted it away and it was sloppy under my feet. I was struggling to even move and follow my broken family home. A mental block stopped me in my tracks, and I changed my path. My pace quickened as ran through the old, overgrown paths, looking for somewhere that was safe enough no apperate from. I had no longing to stay and watch my father and brother avoid my eyes and ignore me. I did not want to walk past the place where my mother died. I wanted my life back and I realised within a few seconds that there was no life left for me here. I withdrew my wand from my pocket for the first time in almost a week.
Diagon Alley. The first place that sprung to mind and also the busiest. Here, I would be able to disappear into the crowds and attempt to forget everything. I remembered how I used to walk these streets with my mother, buying items for another new term at Hogwarts. I used to hate those trips, almost as much as I hated most of the year at school. I wondered if my mother would still be disappointed in me because I had left in 6th year. She asked me to stay on and complete my 7th just like Richard had, but I refused stating that I was 17 and that I could get a job and start living my life. Plus, I was going to be inducted into the Order, I had told her. She had disapproved of me joining such a secret society but she liked that I was taking a stand. Now, more than a year later I wished I had listened to her, and had stayed on to 7th year and had never joined the Order. Then maybe, just maybe my mother would be here and I wouldn’t be stuck in a dead end job in the ministry and, I’d probably be pretty happy.
The Leaky Caldron looked oh so tempting on a day like this and I followed the crowds into it. It was ridiculously busy, like always and I liked it that way. I headed straight towards the bar and the toothless owner made his way quickly towards me.
“What can I get you lass’?” I pondered for a moment, due to today’s events, consuming too much alcohol wasn’t really an option. But, the strong smell of fire whiskey was far too tempting and I really couldn’t resist. I asked him for the drink and he quickly complied but my anticipation for the drink seemed to lead to a slight loss in memory. I forgot I had to pay for drinks, and I had nothing whatsoever to hand over to the man. I smiled apologetically, just as he took the bottle back from the bar. His arm wavered mid air as some coins were quickly tossed onto the counter.
“No worries, Tom. Let me get it,” I spun around to see a tall, dark haired and slightly windswept stranger standing behind me, his dark eyes glimmering mysteriously in the dull light. He looked down and smiled. “On one condition though, you must tell me your name…”
I stared at the most handsome stranger as looked back at me, his words still echoing in my mind. My Order instincts were telling me that I shouldn’t talk to this man, but my head was telling me that the luring scent of fire whiskey was just to hard to resist. I opened my mouth to tell him my name, but stopped. I was smart enough to make a compromise.
“My mother always told me that I shouldn’t talk to strangers.” I tried to sound as if I was joking but I guess my mothers funeral had dampened my spirits. It did make sense, but I had never failed to make a sarcastic or witty comment. I really did need help.
“Well, if I introduce myself, then that will mean you know how I am,” I could see where he was going with this, it sounded a lot like something I would typically say. “And I won’t be a stranger anymore.” He smirked and I noticed his dark eyes once again. They were so luring, so eye catching. I raised my eyebrows.
“Maybe.” He slid the fire whiskey within my grasp but still kept his grip on it. He was just being plain old mean now. “Well, come on…” He rolled his eyes and brought his other hand out from the pocket of his robes.
“Markus Dorment.” Holding out his hand, I lifted mine slowly to join his. He still had that stupid cocky look across his face, and he started sliding that bottle back a forth slightly. Git. “Your name? Or should I just drink it?”
“Cora.” He smiled, and slid the bottle towards me. I picked it up and lifted it to my lips. It tasted just as good as I knew it would and I suddenly felt at ease. I turned to this Markus chap and raised my eyebrows. He was sitting staring at me, and had not yet ordered a drink for himself. All the signs were telling me to be wary of this man but I couldn’t look away. There was something about him that seemed…addictive. Even if I did look away, I don’t think I would be able to look away for long.
“Is there something wrong?” He asked his voice low and suspicious. He had no reason to be suspicious of me; I was just here drowning my sorrows. I let my eyes fall from him and fought the strong urge to look back by taking another large gulp of the burning liquid. I then shook my head, answering his question. “Really, because you could have fooled me.”
“Maybe you’re just too suspicious.” My gaze turned towards the opposite direction and I could hear him sniggering behind me. That’s when James’ voice started shouting in my head. He’s not the one that needs to be suspicious. I shook his voice away and looked back at him; he still looked so entrancing. That was a sign.
My Mother was dead. Death Eaters had killed her. I had buried her today. I had left my family as soon as it was over. My friends had never showed up to support me. The Death Eaters were probably looking for me. I was a target. I was sitting alone, drinking a drink purchased by a stranger who I had just given my name to. Everything in the room seemed to spin all at once. My heart thudded heavily in my chest, almost reminding my body that this was all read.
My mother is dead. I repeated it over and over again in my head.
“I have to go.” I stood up off of the stool and accidentally knocked the bottle of fire whiskey over. I jumped as the sound of the glass colliding with the floor brought silence to the bustling pub.
I headed for the door, my legs moving faster than I ever thought they could. Behind me I could hear someone calling my name and I tried so hard not to turn around. But I was helpless; suddenly I was moving out onto the street so fast I couldn’t keep up with myself. I was scared because I knew that Marcus was right behind me, shouting my name. He knew my name. I didn’t like that.
“Cora! Wait!” The sound of his feet colliding with the ground grew louder behind me and I had a mental block that was stopping me from moving any faster. I could hear his heavy breathing and sooner than I expected, I felt his cold touch wrap around my wrist, pulling me to a halt. I think I screamed.
Through the dim light I could see him dive into his robes with his free hand. I scrambled to get free; tears rolled down my cheeks and I was trying to move. I was trying to get away. I could see his wand, it was a dark shadow in the empty street and I wondered what he was going to do next. Is this what my mum felt like? Helpless, knowing that she was most probably going to die. I stopped crying. I did not even try to scream. I closed my eyes and thought about how cold her body had felt when I had found her.
“Lumos.” He said. I looked up at him, the bright light illuminating his angel like complexion. His eyes were wide, but there was something in there that suggested he wasn’t going to kill me. His grip loosened and he just stared at me, his face softening. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Please, let me help you.”
Marcus held out his hand and I just stared at it. I could feel the cold breeze freezing the tears against my face and I shivered. I couldn't take this man's hand. I had met him in a pub; he had bought me a drink. Who was he to tell about my Mother's death? Who was he to take my hand?
Apparently, he was the only person who was willing to. Even my friends and family hadn't put in this much effort. He sensed my discomfort and dropped his arm, deciding to take another step closer to me instead.
"Look, I know you have no reason to listen to me but I couldn't live with myself if I let you go home alone like this. Please, let me apperate with you or we can go back to the Leaky." I sniffed, wiping my face as I realised that he could see how vulnerable I was. I hated that. However, he did not seem to be taking advantage of it or mocking me like other people would. He wasn't even questioning why I was so distraught. Perhaps Markus wasn't as scary as he seemed as he chased me down the street. I gazed up at him, my frown straightening. I knew I should be heading home and I knew I shouldn't be staying with this stranger but with no one whom I loved or cared for there to tell me otherwise, I nodded.
"Can we walk?" I managed to mumble. Marcus smiled and simply replied,