Chapter 1 : Born a Leader
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Oh, the things I let Minerva McGonagall talk me into! Remind me why I’m here again?
One of them walks up to me and bows. She is still young, I notice. “Miss Saleena, it is such an honor to have you back here with us,” she says to me. I give a short nod, but say nothing. She doesn’t leave.
“Did you want something?” I ask, though I hadn’t meant it to sound that cold. I really should work on controlling my temper. That will be hard though, considering that I really do not want to be here right now.
“Queen Carla has sent for you,” says the young girl, looking slightly more nervous now. These people find me intimidating... As well they should.
"I bet she has,” I mutter. “Take me to her then.”
I follow her outside, down one of the village side streets, and it becomes apparent that she is leading me to my grandmother’s house. It sits at the end of this road, it is the largest house in the entire village, and it has been in my family for years. When we arrive, the front door is opened for me. I am ushered inside and up a grand staircase to a room where she will no doubt be waiting for me.
A young boy is standing outside Queen Carla’s bedroom. He is no doubt her servant, I can already tell by the looks of him. Anger and even more hatred flares up inside of me as I remember the way these people treat their children, should they happen to be born male. Moments later, the door is opened for me once more and I enter, my head held high and proud.
I am immediately wrapped up in a hug from my mother, Kireonna. “Saleena, I knew you would come back,” she exclaims. “I've never given up hope in you, my daughter. I knew you would not betray us.” I really wish this woman could understand the concept of personal space. I am not a hugger.
“She's not back, Kireonna” a feeble old voice calls out. I look up, and there she is; Carla Blackwell, queen of the most ancient clan of Gypsies in all of England. She was lying in a queen sized bed, laden with blankets and pillows. Her weakened state had kept her bedridden for almost 2 months now, or so I had been told. No one knew for certain how much longer she would live.
Queen Carla was a legend among these people for her 350-year-reign as their leader. None of them wanted to see her go, just as much as I was certain that none of them wanted to see me take her place. I’d be willing to bet there are several of them out there right now, secretly planning to assassinate me just for coming here tonight.
My Grandmother sits herself up and looks straight at me. “You’re not back here for good, are you Saleena?”
I knew I had to choose my words very carefully now, “I am considering it at the moment,” I answer. “That is to say, I've decided to come back and finish my training, at least. Just in case --”
“-- In case I should die a sudden and unexpected death?” Carla finished, cutting me off mid-sentence. I hate it when she does that. Then again, there are many things I hate about these people.
“Yes, in case of that,” I harshly snap back. “And I see that you're still using the males in an undesirable way,” I add to quickly change the subject.
“It is not for you to question what is, or what isn’t, desirable at the moment, now is it?” Carla spat.
“It doesn't matter!" I was practically yelling now. "I still don’t think it’s right for you to discriminate against them, just because of their gender. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair. It’s unjust, and --”
“-- It is also a part of who we are,” Carla firmly interjects. “The decision not to allow men into the clan was made centuries ago, and it has been a Gypsy tradition ever since. You must accept this, if we are to move forward and continue your training.”
“Sorry, but I can’t.” Hey, at least I'm being honest with her. That’s got to count for something, right? “And when I’m queen, that’ll be the first thing to change.”
“You can’t just go about changing our traditions, granddaughter.” I really hate it when she calls me that. “It goes against Gypsy law.”
“I stand corrected then, don’t I?” Clearly I was being sarcastic, but Carla smiles at me nonetheless. She thinks she’s won, but she hasn’t. “What I should have said is that the law; which states that you cannot mess with Gypsy tradition, will be the first thing to go.”
“Good luck getting the clan to follow you then.” My Grandmother can be difficult to reason with at times, but she is foolish if she thinks saying something like that will offend me in any way. It doesn’t, because I could care less of what they think of me!
“You were born a leader, and if you want them to respect you as such, you must first earn their trust," she continues. "I cannot deny that my passing will be difficult for all of them. It is likely to cause troubles even for you, as this change will take time for everyone to get used to.”
It could not have been more obvious that Carla did not want to die. I highly doubted that she even wanted to relinquish any of her powers to me. She was old, selfish, and senile, of that much I was certain. The two of us have nothing in common, besides our looks. I am almost the mirror image of my grandmother in her younger days, and I hate that we look so much alike, for I am nothing like her!
When I have no more to say on the matter, she sighs and looks me over carefully. “It appears I have much to teach you,” she says quietly. “I can see right now that one day you will indeed take up your rightful place as Queen of this clan. As to how soon that day may be, I cannot tell, for that part of the future has yet to be written.”
In case you are wondering, my grandmother is a seer. She can see future events that have yet to unfold, sometimes long even before they happen. It all just depends, really. But Queen Carla is known as the greatest seer of all time. She is very powerful, and her visions have always come true… That part worries me. If she really does see me leading them, if she’s not just saying that to get me to go along with whatever she wants, then I am truly scared now. As I have said, I have no desire to lead them.
I only came here to strengthen my powers, so that I might be better suited to help the Order of the Phoenix win the war against Lord Voldemort. What might that power be, you ask? Well, I am a rememberer, which means I can see anything that anyone can remember. I have access to the memories of all people I come into contact with. It is both a blessing and a curse at times, but that’s only because I haven’t quite learned how to control it yet. But hopefully, when I leave here, that problem will be resolved.
“If you really do see that,” I say, speaking up at last, “and if this is indeed not a lie, then I am ready for you to teach me.” And even though I do not want to, I bow to her anyways, knowing it's the right thing to do. “I want to learn to control and harness my gift in a way that will be beneficial to us all. Please teach me what I need to know, Grandmother.”
Carla stares me directly in the eye, carefully considering me. Right now, I’m just thankful that she’s not a mind reader, for if she were, she’d know that I was not being serious about that whole wanting to be beneficial to us all thing. Like I would aspire to help anyone in this clan! All I'm here for is to benefit myself really, because learning to control my powers will help in both my job as a Healer, and in my position with the Order.
I guess Carla finally decides to put her trust in me, because she looks away and heaves a heavy sigh. “We have much to go over, and very little time to cover it all in, for I fear that this body will not serve me much longer.”
I almost feel sorry for her, I mean after all, she is in quite a pitiful state at the moment. “Now let us begin,” she says, and I stand up tall.
Well, here goes nothing I guess...