Chapter 1 : Trails in the Dark
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Since it has been so long since my last update (over a year, yikes!), help on grammar, word choice, and so on is greatly appriciated.
Now, please enjoy.
at TDA for the chapter image!
Trails in the Dark
December 1st, 1976
A dimmed presence of the moon's light danced in the air this evening. Clouds choked most of the silver rays but what did reach the ground caused the snow to glisten in a way I couldn't describe. The cold was suffocating, as it always was in the midst of winter, and I grew tired of feeling like I was breathing in icicles with each breath, but even I had to admit how marvelous the snow looked tonight. So bright, so soft, so red.
I froze and looked to the ground again. Red? No, that wasn't right. Snow was white and occasionally yellow, but never red. It took only a moment for a shiver ran down my spine, not from the cold, but from the realization of what this red coloring was. It was blood, and there was a lot of it leading straight into the Forbidden Forest, along with a set of small, staggering footprints.
The hair on the back of my neck rose as I looked around. What happened here? My first instinct was to turn around and head back to the castle, but my curiosity was overwhelming. With a quick glance behind me, and a deep breath to cool my sudden nerves, I trudged into the shadows of the forest.
Darkness engulfed me.
The air was even cooler in the trees, so cold it actually hurt to breathe. I pulled my scarf up over my face, but even that didn't help the burning cold. Light was scarcely available here, for the dense trees and their long branches blocked out majority of the moon's rays. I was careful to not step on the dribbles of blood, which lead deeper into the forest away from the path Hagrid would normally take each morning (whichh was easy to distinguish as his foot prints here three times the size of mine). The trees grew closer and closer together along the red trail, making it nearly impossible for me to step through without getting a twig stuck in my hair.
I pushed forward, though, being careful not to lose vision of the bloody trail. At one point, when the clouds covered the moon and night became too overpowering, I was forced to dig into my pocket for my wand.
“Lumos,” I whispered. My heart skipped a beat, my own voice had startled me and made my ears ring with the realization of how quiet it was out here.
As light flooded through the area from my wand, my heart dropped and the cold rushed deep into my bones. The red trail had ended, and so did the foot prints.
I was puzzled. The area was completely deserted. I took a few steps backwards, looking for the prints that should have continued ahead of me. The person who should have been at the end of this trail appeared to have been lifted away. Something was not right here.
I looked up into the branches, but the trees were so dense it was impossible to spot anything farther than the first few twigs. Whoever this person was either climbed, or was taken up.
An uncomfortable feeling dipped into the lowest points of my stomach. Was it possible for someone who was bleeding that badly to climb?
Fear made my gasp. My stomach rolled with a new wave of discomfort as I realized that something was horribly wrong here. I didn't know how I knew it, but I did. Regretting even stepping into the forest I turned, quickly as I could, and fled from the spot. In my haste, however, I tripped and fell to the cold ground with an 'oof.'
I sat as quietly as I could, trying to hold in my ragged breaths as fear built up inside me. I was in danger and calling out now would only get me into trouble faster.
"Please! Is someone there? I need help!" the voice called out again, quavering with each word. It was a girl’s voice, I noticed, soft and pleading. Maybe I was overreacting, perhaps there was no danger… Yes, surely the dark had simply frightened me a bit.
"Who are you?" I asked, slowly pushing myself up from the ground. I tried to see into the trees, but my wand light only reached so far.
"I'm Annabel," the voice answered. "Are you-" She fell silent, and suddenly I grew curious.
"Am I what?" I asked, forcing the fear in my throat to flee. I walked closer to her voice, but still she was no where in sight.
She was above me somewhere. But where? I scanned the branches ahead of me, but still she was out of sight. "Yes, I‘m a student. Are you?"
"What are you doing in the forest," she asked, ignoring my question.
"I should be asking you the same thing." I heard a sigh and the breaking of a twig. I squinted, wishing desperately that the light from my wand could reach further.
"Someone was following me, I tried to get as far away as possible…" I could hear the strain in her voice from fear, or pain, or perhaps both. She fell silent, and shuffled in the branches for the moment. Before I realized what was happening, the girl fell to the ground. Her knees buckled under her and she fell into the white snow, gasping in pain.
I knelt down beside her and grabbed her waist to hold her steady. "I don't know what happened," she whispered. "It all happened so fast. I didn't realize I was hurt until I climbed into the tree."
"You don't know who did this to you?" I asked.
"No," she said in a gasp. "I'm just in a lot of pain." She heaved herself to her feet using my shoulders to aid her balance.
"We should go back to the castle," I said. "Madame Pomfrey will heal you just right."
"Sure, Madame Pomfrey," she said as if she was only half listening. "What is your name?"
"I'm Sirius Black," I said, watching as she took a shaky step forward. "Can you make it to the castle alright? I can carry you if it hurts too much."
"Oh no, the pain isn't so bad now that I'm standing upright," she said with a quick shake of her head. "So you're a Black?"
I grabbed hold of her waist with one arm, leading her through the thicket, and held out my lit wand in the other. "Yeah, I suppose I am," I said. "I mean, sort of."
"Is all this blood mine?" she asked, stopping to examine the red trail. She placed her hand over her stomach, where I guessed the wound was, and brought her hand to her face. Blood dripped from her fingers. She shuddered and continued forward again. "What were you doing out so late at night, anyway?"
"Just walking. Thinking, you know." The trees, quite suddenly, opened up into a wide space. The castle loomed in the short distance now, and the moon offered enough light I was able to stuff my wand into my pocket. I looked to the girl at my side, taking in her blonde hair and squinting eyes. I frowned, wishing I could be of more help.
"You weren't the one following me, were you?" she joked as the silence grew thicker. She managed a smile before grimacing with pain again.
"No, I couldn't hurt anyone as pretty as you," I said. She laughed at this and, from what I could see, rolled her eyes. "I don't think I've ever seen you before, anyway." I looked at her blonde hair again, it looked so foreign and beautiful. It would definitely be a head of hair I would remember. "What house are you in?"
"Ravenclaw,” she said after a moment of heavy breathing. “I’m in your Potion’s class, though. I make a habit of avoiding people who might distract me from my work. Your buddy, Potter, is far too troublesome for me to meddle with.”
I reached into my memory, trying to remember Potions class. My mind drew a blank. “I feel bad for never noticing you before,” I muttered.
Silence followed us as Hogwarts grew closer. She staggered a few times more, the walk was becoming more difficult for her, and I helped by offering her support. She mumbled thanks and continued forward with determination.
I helped her into the castle with as much stealth as possible. Being out this late was strictly forbidden, and sneaking back in was not an easy task. It took several minutes to get inside, and even more minutes to get to our destination.
"I can take it from here," she whispered as we approached the door to the Hospital Wing. "Thanks for, um, everything." With that she turned the handle of the door and entered the room. She turned to look at me, her eyes meeting mine through the darkness. Within seconds, however, she was behind closed doors and I was on the other side, staring at where she stood only moment before.
I was in a daze as I turned to make my way to the Gryffindor tower. All the way up the stairs only one thing stayed in my mind, and it was the pair of deep purple eyes that had just disappeared behind that door.