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Chapter 1 : Ch. 1
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Gwen had felt suffocated in the house. She sought solitude, to make her spinning world slow down for a minute. Although usually averse to cold conditions, she wanted to feel the icy wind biting at her exposed face; the chill seeping into her bones was welcome.
She thought of everyone back in Number 12. The kids were probably laughing over a bowl of hot soup in the kitchen, or else trying to eavesdrop on the last minute Order meeting, where they were sure to be discussing her.
She couldn’t stand to be in the room, hearing her name thrown around like she wasn’t there, or like some sort of object to be fought over and won. It was unbearable. Gwen had slipped away unnoticed, but was unsure how long it would be before someone came looking for her.
She sighed, her breath creating a frosty cloud in the winter air. Her mind was far from easy as she stared across at the serene landscape before her. The uncertainty inside in no way matched the quiet little town below. The lampposts were all coming alive on the streets, casting yellow circles of light in the snow. A soft glow emanated from each of the windows of the little houses, and Gwen could almost feel the warmth from the fires crackling in the hearths. She pictured the people inside, cozy by the flames, in a world all to themselves. She sighed again, wishing that that was her life, her reality. Instead, a fear she dreaded her whole life loomed in front of her, and she worried that that fear was about to manifest in her reality.
Does he know?
This question had plagued her for over a week, bouncing around in her head ever since that day she had been forced to reveal herself, to show her secret. It was a tremendous ally for the Order, and a tremendous enemy if used against them. If he discovered what she was, he would stop at nothing to have her join him. He could never have knowledge of her. It was to be avoided at all costs. She was only to use her power in life or death situations, when there was no other way out. And the use of her power had been unavoidable.
The only way out. The only way to save Harry, who was their only hope for a world at peace someday. She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. It had been the only way. She knew it had been the only way.
Her thoughts inevitably led her back to that day. That day when they were attacked, out of nowhere, on a routine trip to St. Mungo’s to visit Arthur.
Death Eater’s had materialized in the deserted courtyard behind the building, at least 10 of them. As for the Order, they had 2 aurors, Gwen, and Molly. Not to mention 6 underage wizards to protect. Bellatrix Lestrange had gone right for Harry as everyone else started fighting. Hermione was knocked unconscious, and Ginny blasted out of the way.
And there Harry was, wandless, in Bellatrix’ grasp.
Gwen tried to get to him, but her way was blocked as the Death Eaters who remained upright retreated back towards Bellatrix and Harry. They blocked every curse as they backed slowly down an alleyway.
And then Bellatrix raised her wand.
Gwen felt the incantation rather than heard it. The hair on her arms had stood on end as fire erupted from Bellatrix’ wand. It wasn’t ordinary fire. It was FiendFyre. Gwen remembered crying out, and then rushing forward to meet the flames speeding toward them. The fire engulfed her, but she felt no pain, only intoxicating energy and power. She drew the fire into her very skin, until nothing was left but wisps of smoke.
The looks of shock on the Death Eater’s faces was one Gwen will not soon forget. The Order took advantage of their stillness and attacked, forcing them to spread out, and Bellatrix to let go of Harry to defend herself.
Soon one of the Death Eater’s gave a cry to retreat, and they all disapparated.
It had been the only way. The FiendFyre would have burned them alive. She had only used her power defensively. Maybe the death eaters hadn’t really seen what she did, hadn’t really understood. Maybe...
But how else would the fiendfyre have disappeared? There is no counter curse, and it is nearly impossible to control. They had to know. And now he had to know. Fear started to rise up inside her, but she forced it down with a hard swallow and shake of her head. She couldn’t give in to it. She wouldn’t. Not until she knew for certain.
The sun had finally disappeared, and a half moon was rising to take its place in the dark sky. The cold had begun to creep through her gloved hands, and she shoved them deep into the pockets of her coat. The wind started to blow insistently, throwing her dark hair all about her face, but the cold was oddly soothing. After absorbing the FiendFyre, she had given into an awful fever. Her blood had felt like it was boiling in her veins, and her skin burned like fire, so much so that holes were burned into her clothes. It had been too hard on her to take in such ferocious heat all at once. Plus, FiendFyre is very dark magic, which heightens the aftereffects considerably. It had been the worst reaction she had ever suffered.
She shivered under all her layers and continued to stare out, not really focusing on anything in particular. Her thoughts strayed back to Grimmauld Place, wondering if Snape had returned, bringing news from the other side. He would be able to tell the Order if her secret was no longer secret.
“Merry Christmas to me,” she said sarcastically to herself.
She was once again lost in her thoughts when she heard the crunch of footsteps in the snow behind her. She tensed at the initial shock of shattered silence, but was otherwise undisturbed.
“I knew someone would be along eventually,” she said quietly, “But I wasn’t expecting you.”
A small smile played on her lips. “I’m surprised they let you out of the house.”
“We’ll, I never have been one for rules and I don’t plan on starting now,” Sirius replied, also smiling.
He came to a halt beside her. They stood side by side, both staring down at the hushed town, letting their smiles slowly slide off their faces as their thoughts consumed them. After a minute or so of silence, Gwen finally worked up the courage to speak. She just hoped her voice would let her.
“He knows,” she said, almost whispering, with the tiniest lilt of her voice suggesting it was a question, and also betraying that she still held the smallest hope that it should be a question, instead of a statement.
Sirius hesitated, and slowly nodded his head, still staring straight ahead. Gwen nodded, also keeping her eyes locked ahead, chewing the inside of her cheek. Her face betrayed nothing. She was the picture of serenity on the outside. They stood in silence again, watching as lights went off one by one in the little cottages as people went off to bed. Gwen tried to feel as calm as she looked, to squelch the fear gnawing at her insides. Tears threatened to flow, but she blinked furiously, denying their release. When Sirius finally turned to look at her, her face was as still and tranquil as their snow-blanketed surroundings. The only thing that gave away the distress she felt was how hard she squeezed his hand when he reached for hers.
She turned and looked at him. His grey eyes searched her face, looking for a sign of what she was really feeling. His gaze finally rested on her eyes, and she knew he found it. Her dread and fear were teeming behind her dark eyes. He reached up to touch her face, a crease forming between his brows. His finger delicately traced her cheekbone, and his touch brought everything she was feeling to the surface. Her tears defied her and spilled over onto her cheeks. She quickly turned away so he wouldn’t see, but he caught her face in his hand and brought it back around. He placed his hand under her chin and turned her face up towards his. The pale moonlight shone on the tear tracks running down her cheeks.
“Don’t hide from me,” he whispered, looking at her with so much care and concern that she buried her face in his chest and let her tears go.
Sobs racked her body as he wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. Gwen allowed her feelings to overwhelm her bit by bit, each wave bringing fresh tears, and each time Sirius’ arms tightened around her. She stood there, pressed against him, her fear almost too much to bear. She was amazed that she could be so vulnerable with someone. But everything was different with Sirius. They stayed there, unmoving as her tears finally ran dry and she took a few deep, shaky breaths. She pulled away gently, wiping her cheeks on her sleeves, and looked up at him. He smiled softly down at her and ran a hand through her hair. His grey eyes once again roamed her face.
Gwen couldn’t help managing a small smile of her own.
Her troubles were momentarily forgotten as he leaned down and kissed her tenderly. Without hesitation, she put her arms around his neck and pulled him closer.
“I’m glad it was you who came for me,” she said softly, tracing his lips with her gloved finger.
“Oddly enough, there weren’t too many volunteers. Who wants to spend their Christmas Eve out in the cold looking for you?” he said teasingly, giving her a toothy smile.
Gwen laughed, grateful his sense of humor knew no bounds.
“Plus,” he added, “I knew where you would be. I didn’t exactly get permission to leave, but no one said ‘Sirius, don’t go out looking for her’, so I took that as free reign.”
“Why am I not surprised?” she said, rolling her eyes, but laughed again.
She looked into his eyes, and reality hit her once more. The laughter died from her face.
“We should go back?” Gwen asked.
Sirius nodded sadly, stroking her cheek with his thumb. She sighed, not keen on facing the rest of the Order. But it had to be done. Time to face the music. A ridiculous expression in her opinion. Music was marvelous. Who wouldn’t want to face it?
She reluctantly pulled out of Sirius’ arms, still holding fast to his hand, when he said, “We can’t go back just yet, though.”
Gwen looked up at him, confused, and recognized the glint in his eyes. That ‘I have something up my sleeve’ glint. Literally or figuratively, she never knew.
“What?” she squinted up at him suspiciously.
He dropped her hand and started digging around in his pocket. So it was literal this time. She didn’t even try to hide the apprehension on her face as she looked at him. He found what he was looking for, and gave her a quick grin.
Slowly, he lifted his hand and pulled a sparkling silver chain out of his pocket. On the chain hung a stunning pendant in the shape of a raindrop. The raindrop was also silver, but covered in tiny, brilliantly blue, sparkling stones, with a larger one in the center. Her breath caught in her throat. Never had anyone given her something so exquisite. The moonlight reflected off the stones, which glittered like the snow, throwing dancing flecks of deep blue light onto Gwen’s face. She stared wide-eyed as he held it before her eyes, all apprehension forgotten.
“Like it?” Sirius asked, although it was all too clear from his tone that he was all too pleased with himself.
“Understatement,” Gwen breathed. “Sirius, I--“ she felt too choked up to go on. And she did not feel like crying again.
“Here, let me see you try it on.”
He moved quickly behind her and put it around her neck, his fingers fumbling a little with the delicate clasp. Gwen stripped off her gloves and reached up to touch the pendant hanging just right of her heart. It was cold to the touch, and the blue stones winked up at her in the pale light. She absolutely loved it. Sirius moved back in front of her, and smiling, took her hands in his.
“Wow, finally, I found a safe place to keep that thing,” he said with a wink. “It looks pretty good on you. I guess I’ll let you keep it.” She barely heard his teasing as the mysterious coldness the necklace held seemed to sink into her skin, soothing the remaining heat coursing through her.
“It’s cold,” she said, surprised.
“Oh, well, I enchanted it. A spell of my own invention. It always stays cold. So the fire inside won’t burn too much.”
She threw her arms around his neck, and a few rebellious tears escaped.
“Happy Christmas, love,” he whispered in her ear.
She responded with a soft kiss for his lips.
Sirius tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear as he cupped her face in his hands.
“Ok, now we should go,” Sirius said reluctantly.
Gwen had temporarily forgotten the rest of the world still existed, which happened frequently when Sirius was around, but all those ugly feelings began to resurface as she thought about returning to Grimmauld Place. She sighed and looked up into Sirius’ grey eyes. Her hand went up to touch the raindrop around her neck.
“As long as you’re around, nothing can be too terrible,” she said.
Sirius smiled and said "I’ll always be around, love.”
He gave her one more slow, sweet kiss, and took her hand to lead her away. She looked over her shoulder for one last glance at the sleepy town below the hill, then turned and walked with Sirius back to reality.
A/N: Thank so much for reading! Please please PLEASE drop a review! It would mean so much!
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