Chapter 1 : Running
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May 3, 1975
“Have you completely crossed on us?”
The young woman in question could only manage a light smile as she stared out the dingy library window. She hesitated responding though, knowing it would set the small group of boys off again. Instead, she straightened up, reaching for one of her discarded books.
Lazily flipping the pages of the book, Vena sighed. “I don’t see what the big issue is here. I’m not harming my own reputation by helping you do something illegal, something that could hurt you.”
A beat of silence passed, causing Vena’s sight to move toward the younger boys sitting around the table. The lankiest of the bunch, James, sat with his mouth agape; overdramatizing the situation, as usual, to get her to give in.
Vena sat back in the chair, annoyingly pushing her dark curly hair off her shoulders. “I hope you lot do realize that I’m not the only seventh year in this castle.”
James shook his head and leaned forward, lowering his voice just in case someone walked by their intimate conversation in the nearly abandoned area. “Yeah, but you’re the only one on our side who has more than enough pull from your father to get things the easy way instead of Sirius having to go dig around that house of his.”
“Yeah, and you’re the only one that puts up with our mess,” another, Sirius, added with that same tired smirk playing on his lips.
“You mean the only one that cleans your mess,” Vena corrected.
James and the shortest of the bunch, Peter, both released quiet snickers. Vena smiled as well, but locked eyes with Sirius, noting something behind the dim light in his eyes.
Quickly, she went back to watch James as he ran a fast hand through his untamed mass of hair. “And this is truly all for Remus?”
“Yes,” James said with a nod. “You know about his...little problem. We’ve been practicing this for years now. We just need that one book.”
“We’ll give it right back,” Peter jumped in. “Honest.”
“Yeah, and if your father finally comes in and kicks Slughorn out of his position, we’ll hand it to him personally,” James said.
With a sigh, Vena snapped her book close, stuffing it into her small bag. “Fine. I’ll send my father a letter and see what he can do. I don’t know what lie I’m going to spin though.”
“That you’re the greatest daughter ever,” James interrupted, “who just wants to do some extra studying for the exams.”
A small chuckle escaped her. “He’ll certainly buy that--,”
Vena cut off as a sharp cramp cut into her stomach for a split second. Sirius quickly jumped up, hurrying over to her side.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She nodded, regretting it almost instantly as a fistful of nausea slammed into her. Taking in a few deep breaths, she stood, resting a hand over her lower abdomen, as the cramps and sick feelings began to writher away.
“I’m okay,” she explained.
“You’re okay?” James asked, skeptically. “You’re still nauseous, aren’t you? You’ve been like this for a week now.”
“It’s probably just a bug,” she said, waving them off.
“Then how come you haven’t gone to the nurse to fix you up?” James asked.
Vena attempted to walk away, but all three of the boys were standing by then. Rolling her eyes, she gripped her bag. “I hate taking potions, you know that. I’ll be fine in a few days with some rest. It’s just a bug.”
Vena turned to her side, preparing to move on out, but stalled once another boy headed her way.
“Remus,” James nearly shouted, rushing to the boy’s side and seemingly forgetting all about Vena’s earlier discomfort. “So, Vena’s in. We’ll be transforming before the year is over.”
A confused look crossed Remus’ face for a moment before rapidly being replaced with relief. “That’s great. Oh, um, Vena, Professor Flitwick passed me in the corridor with this letter he received for you. I told him I was coming to see you, so....”
Vena looked down, noting the folded parchment in Remus’ hand. “Great. He probably has some more fifth years for me to tutor.”
“Hey, you’re good,” Peter said, “one of the best in this place.”
Vena tossed him a thankful smile before taking the parchment and unfolding it. Her eyes scanned the messy handwriting, and a large lump formed in her throat, almost rendering her breathless. Her free hand quickly gripped the chair as her legs grew numb.
“Vena?” came a voice; she couldn’t manage to pick out which of the boys asked it.
“This can’t be,” she whispered, something that none of the boys heard.
As the content of the letter sunk, Vena lowered it, the reality around her slowly floating back.
“Is something wrong?” Peter asked, a hint of concern on his face replacing the amusement form earlier.
“Come on now,” James said with a light chuckle, “nothing’s wrong. We all know it’s probably from her sweet little Edmund.”
Peter broke out in laughter, ignoring a sharp response from somewhere else in the library to keep quiet. Remus let loose a chuckle as well, but Sirius kept quiet, staring hard at Vena.
“The perfect, rich, Slytherin, pure-blood boy,” Peter added in through his laughs.
“And why would Burton give a letter to Professor Flitwick to give to Vena?” Remus asked, more laughter evident in his voice.
“Who knows?” James asked with a shrug. “You know Burton will do anything to keep in contact with his dearest Vena since his parents are awaiting a wedding any day now. Especially after we caught them, hem hem, getting lost in the broom cupboard about four or five times. I’m surprised she hasn’t wound up with a few little sprogs here and there in this castle yet. Hey! Maybe that’s why she’s been so sick. Burton’s finally had his wish at getting an heir.”
“We should build a nursery just in case,” Peter chimed.
As the boys laughed louder than before, Vena crumpled up the letter, jamming it down into the pocket of her tight trousers. “I have to go.”
She didn’t wait to hear their response and tore out of the library, clutching her bag tightly.
Her feet carried her quickly and swiftly through the corridor, smoothing past the stray student or two as her mind was only focused on getting up to see the Headmaster.
Rolling her eyes at the voice, she continued on, but at a slower pace. It didn’t take long for her to be caught up with by Sirius.
“What did the letter say?” Sirius asked, walking in sync with her.
“It was just from my father,” Vena explained. “I have to go see Dumbledore.”
“Why didn’t he just send you the letter?”
“He probably tried. That blasted owl delivered it to Flitwick’s class right after I left, I guess. It isn’t the first time the daft thing made that mistake.”
“Well, is it bad?”
“You wouldn’t have rushed out on us if it wasn’t bad.”
Vena reached the stairs, her long legs taking them up two at a time to keep a small enough distance between herself and Sirius. “Sirius, please don’t.”
“We’re supposed to be friends. Just tell me--,”
“No,” she snapped, spinning around to fully face him. Sirius’ shoulders fell, a slightly desperate look crossing his face. That lump went at her throat again as she never saw him look that...hopeless before; at least not since they had their last discussion dealing with that little brother of his. “Look, I’m sorry. I’m just having some family issues that I need to work through. You understand how that is.”
“It’s about Him, isn’t it?” Sirius asked, his voice lowering. “You-Know-Who?”
Vena closed her eyes for a second at the slight mention of the dark wizard, but attempted to regain her composure. “It’s family problems, nothing more. Go back to your friends, I’ll be fine.”
But Sirius didn’t budge, and neither did Vena despite the aggravating, aching feeling in her stomach that screamed at her to continue on.
“Not many pure-blood families turn him down and get away with it like your parents have,” Sirius muttered, jamming his hands deep into his pockets. “I just want you to be okay.”
Vena’s face softened and she moved closer, her hands resting on his scrawny shoulders. “And I will be. It’s just Dumbledore’s office. I’m not walking into a warzone. Relax, okay? I’ll be back in no time.”
A small snarl covered his face for a moment. “And back into Edmund’s arms.”
Vena gave him a light shake, provoking that tiny smile to come back to him. “Edmund’s out of the picture.”
Sirius lightened up, but only by a hair. “Really?”
“But you seemed to have had fun with him.”
“And that’s all it was at the time: fun. Nothing more.”
“And if James is right about you spewing out some sprogs?”
Vena gave a light laugh, attempting her hardest to ignore the sickness that crept up on her again. “I’d die before I had a child with him. You’ll be the first person I see, and we’ll finish coming up with some elaborate plan to get you away from those blood-crazy parents of yours, okay?”
Sirius choked out a short laugh before answering, “Okay.”
“Good.” She leaned forward and slightly down, placing a soft kiss on Sirius’ forehead. The younger boy shook a bit under her touch and breathed in heavily once she backed off. “See you later.”
Vena gave him one last look before starting up again, the sinking feeling in her stomach falling deeper with each step closer she made toward the Headmaster’s office.
Knowing Sirius’ eyes were still on her, Vena quickened her pace, not wanting to see that lost-look on his face again, and found herself on the floor of the Headmaster’s office in seconds. There wasn’t another student in sight; she trudged on, the sound of her footsteps creating eerie echoes throughout the empty corridor. Upon reaching the statue, Vena recited the password that was written on the parchment and quickly ascended the revealed staircase up into the Headmaster’s office.
“Professor?” she asked, pushing open the door.
The sight in the room sent her stomach in a barrage of flips once more; Dumbledore was indeed inside, but he was paying her no attention as he was too preoccupied in assisting her own startled father up off the ground.
“Father,” Vena exclaimed, dropping her bag and rushing over.
He waved her off, steadying himself. “It’s nothing, dear. I just lost my balance for a moment.”
“And perhaps your head, Amar,” Dumbledore gently added, smiling at the situation but not so subtly hiding a curious look.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Vena asked, placing a hand over her midsection as that sickness titled off into the straining cramps; it certainly was not the first time her father had a sort of fainting spell, and she knew he only had them at the worst of times just like his grandfather before him.
After rubbing the side of his head once more, Amar faced his daughters, smiling through the stressed-look on his face and deep wrinkles that lined it.
“My dear,” he said, arms outstretched. Vena immediately met him, sighing deeply as his warmth began to shake away the nauseous, uneasy feeling. “I’m so sorry it all had to come to this.”
“What are we going to do?” she asked, her face buried against his smooth robe.
“We’re going to keep you safe,” Dumbledore answered.
Vena broke the hug, facing the Headmaster. “Professor?”
The hint of lightness he held when she first entered was long gone, replaced by something more serious. “Your parents and I agreed that it will best to move you until it all settles. I already have a house set up around London--,”
“What?” Vena said, her voice rising. She turned to her father, the nausea back. “Father, I thought we were fighting them, not running?”
“Dear,” Amar tried, “it isn’t that black and white. They’ve destroyed the house--,”
“Then we’ll go to India or Russia with your family,” Vena interrupted.
“—and,” Amar continued unfazed, “neither your mother’s, nor my, family is willing to put us up after we turned...turned the Dark Lord down. Albus is willing to put us up in a Muggle neighborhood only until the rest of the Order can--,”
“This is ridiculous,” Vena interrupted again, panic sinking into her, making her head spin. “I-I’m not even done with school. How can I go on and be a Healer if I don’t finish school? I just can’t leave the wizarding world.”
“Shhh.” Amar moved in, embracing his daughter once more. “I know it’s a lot to absorb, but we must leave now. Your things are all packed and gone. Once we go through the fireplace, there’s no turning back.”
A powerful burn struck the back of Vena’s eyes and throat, but she held it all in, backing away from her father to retrieve her tossed bag.
“Anyone you wish to say goodbye to, Miss Nirav?” Dumbledore asked, staring intently at her as she moved. “Perhaps... Mr. Burton?”
Vena shook her head, swiping at the stray tears that managed to sneak down over her cheeks. “N-no, I spoke with Edmund yesterday and that was enough.”
“Oh, forgive me. I thought the two of you--,”
“No, Professor,” Vena firmly stated. “He doesn’t need to see me.... No one else here does either.”
“Are you sure, dear?” Amar asked.
Vena opened her mouth, but hesitated. Sirius flashed through her mind, washing a chill over her body, along with the rest of the boys. She had made her fair few of friends during her stay, but the boys managed to crawl under her skin in a good way. They were her brothers.
“Yes,” Vena whispered, shaking away the chill, “I’m sure, father.”
Amar nodded, moving toward the fireplace in the office as Dumbledore approached Vena.
“Miss Nirav,” he started, placing a hand on her shoulder, “do be careful. If any...incidents were to occur, go to a Muggle hospital.”
Vena began to question it, but thought best. She knew her Headmaster: if he didn’t want her in the wizarding world, even if something were to happen to them, then she had best stay out of it until the storm dies.
“Thank you,” was all that could come out.
He said no more, allowing her to step into the fireplace with her father. With her bag thrown over her shoulder, Vena closed her eyes, not wanting to watch as the bright green flames engulfed her, snatching her away from the only other place she could call home.
December 25, 1975
Vena made a futile attempt at keeping the scream settled inside, but failed miserably as it tore through her throat and out of her mouth. The electricity in the delivery room flickered as it had done each time a scream erupted out of her, but the doctor paid it no mind. After ten hours of painful labor, everyone had gotten use to the odd string of electrical interference and had prepared for it all with a generator.
“Just push a little bit more,” the doctor coached from the end of the bed. “I see the head.”
“You’re doing great, dear,” her mother said from the side.
“Ana, get the camera out,” her father said from the other side.
Her mother hurried off to grab their old camera as her father gripped her hand tighter.
“Daddy,” Vena said through clenched teeth, “I want this thing out of me.”
“It’ll be over in a few seconds, love,” Amar coached. “Just hold out.
Vena groaned, trying to focus all her remaining strength on the task at hand. The increasing, burning pain was nearly insufferable though, making her regret carrying the damn thing for so long. She had known about those Muggle procedures, abortions or whatever, and wished she would have gone through with it. If she had, she wouldn’t have had to go through with that-that parasite feeding off her for the past long, grueling, eight months. She wanted it out.
“One more big push,” the doctor said, “and you’re in the clear. Just take a deep breath, and go for it.”
Vena did what she was told and soon felt an immediate flood of release, her muscles loosening, as something slid out of her body. She rested back against the pillow, breathing heavily, as excitement blew up around her. However, the excitement bug didn’t manage to sink its teeth into her; she didn’t speak when asked what the baby would be named, and refused the offer to hold or even look at it. She didn’t want to touch the creature. She didn’t want it anywhere near her.
A few minutes passed, and the room emptied out all except for Vena’s parents and the baby. She was told that the baby was perfectly healthy, cleaned, and clothed. The family earned some alone time. However, Vena kept her sight up at the white ceiling. That part of her that refused to look at the baby was winning. The baby was unwanted, and a part of him. She couldn’t bear to look at it if it resembled that haughty pure-blooded bigoted she blindly got involved with in the slightest bit. He didn’t deserve to create something with her. He didn’t deserve it.
“Vena, dear, you must hold her,” her mother said from her side as she finished bottle-feeding the baby for the first time.
“Why?” Vena whispered. “We should drop her off in an orphanage or at the Ministry; you know we can’t afford carrying around a baby while they’re still after us. Besides...it’s dead weight, it’ll slow us down.”
“Vena,” her father snapped, outrage in his voice. “Don’t you dare speak that way of your own flesh. Now sit up and hold your child.”
Sighing, Vena sat up in the bed, still feeling the after-effects of the birth. She turned a bit to her right and looked down at the bundle in her mother’s arms.
“Give her over,” Vena reluctantly said.
Giving her daughter a small glare, Ana slowly handed the baby over. Vena hesitantly adjusted the baby in her arms, and pushed down the small blanket that was wrapped around it. The baby’s eyes opened after some struggle, and stared on up at Vena, barely blinking. Vena opened her mouth, a hint of bile threatening to come up, but her throat seemed to have closed the longer she peered down at the fidgeting baby.
“She’s...,” Vena tried.
She was beautiful. Perfectly beautiful. Those large blue eyes, so eerily similar to Vena’s, hypnotized her. That child...it—she—looked nothing like that pure-blood elitist; she was Vena’s clone down to the flecks of gray in those startling eyes.
“She’s yours,” her mother said, smoothing back Vena’s matted hair.
Vena only nodded, that disgusting feeling that had taken her over those past months burrowing down to a hidden spot in her stomach.
“Figured out a name yet?” Amar asked.
Vena glanced at her mother before looking back down at her daughter. “Yes…. Morana.”
Her mother gasped in surprise and Amar grinned.
“Dear,” her mother started, “are you sure?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
Ana kissed her cheek. “Oh, dear, thank you.”
“No need to, mother. Father?”
Vena struggled to keep an onslaught of tears from coming. “What are we going to do now?”
Amar sat down on the end of the bed. “Well, Albus has someone in America who could look after us since our last home was-was found.”
“Why all the way there?”
“That’s where the man settled,” Vena’s mother stated. “He’s been from country to country trying to gather other wizards to be on our side. He said it’s best if we go to where he is now.”
“You can settle down there,” Amar continued. “You’ll find yourself a wonderful man and raise an amazing family with this beautiful little girl. Don’t worry about anything, honey. It’ll all be okay.”
Vena nodded and slowly leaned down, resting her lips against her daughter’s forehead for a few seconds, trembling a bit as a soft moan came from the baby. There was a warm kind of smell emitting from her, one that should have warmed Vena as well, but it failed to touch upon that cold spot deep into her stomach. She wanted to feel unimaginable love for the baby like every mother did, but she couldn’t.
“I’ll just protect you,” she whispered. “I’ll protect you.”
It was the only true promise Vena could bring herself to make for her...daughter.
A/N: Chapter Image: Squiggles at TDA
Quote: Kenny Loggins (I'm Free)
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