Author’s Note: Hello, everyone! This is my first story, and I fervently hope that you enjoy it, should you choose to read on after this silly note. I won’t beg for reviews or favorites, promise virtual cupcakes, or spell things wrong on purpose, because I think that you, as the reader, should feel uninhibited by authorial interference.
As you are well aware (or at least, I HOPE you are…), I am not J.K. Rowling. Therefore, all things magical that I mention in my story belong to her. I wish to take no credit except for my own inventions of fantasy.
The November rain dripped down the windows of The Leaky Cauldron as I watched from my lonely seat by the window. Arnold would be late, I was certain. He was always late for important events, and his dislike for me always made him later.
For nearly thirty minutes, I sat, lost in my own tangled thoughts. Tonight would be a crossroads, the most treacherous and unforgiving of my short life. It was a bit much to take in, but at that time, I was certain that I was ready for whatever was in store for me.
I almost didn’t notice the carriage creak slowly to a halt in front of the building. The whinny of two black horses shook me out of my reverie, and I quickly gathered my belongings and strode towards the door. The looks I received from the old men that littered the tavern were appraising and unfriendly.
They resented me for being a young woman, flaunting youth in their hollow faces, but they dared not insult me with the jeers reserved for busty tavern maids.
They knew that I was too powerful to be a plaything.
Outside the door, the rain pounded the streets mercilessly, washing debris into the sewers. I cast the Impervius charm above my head, for I noticed that the driver of my carriage had stopped too far away from the sidewalk. This was not the first time he had done this, and I knew that he acted on the orders of the bitter man inside the conveyance.
I opened the carriage door myself and peered in at the glittering grey eyes within. The despicable man made no move to assist me, so I clambered in by grasping at the slippery door frame.
I had barely settled in before the carriage began to move. Straightening the skirts of my robes, I glared at Arnold Moore. He leered at me, unashamed of his actions. Then, he spoke.
“Are you certain that you’re ready for this, Persephone Fay?” It was a politely concerned question, but there was no air of politeness or concern to soften his bitter tone.
“Now more than ever, Arnold,” I replied, turning away. I would not let him anger me today.
We rode down the street in silence after this brief exchange. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, and rain pounded the carriage windows. In conditions like these, even the spells cast upon the carriage and horses did little to alleviate the force of the dismal wind and rain.
We wound our way through back alleys and dark streets. Sometimes we doubled back on streets randomly, so that it became useless to watch the scenery from the window. I knew my destination, but I could not know the path.
Finally, we stopped at an unassuming house with a grey door. It was a perfect meeting place: dull, unobtrusive, and completely Muggle. No one would be able to find it without knowing first where it was and exactly how to get there. It could not be reached by Apparition or Floo Powder. Only the most senior members knew where to go, and only they could lead others there.
Since my seventeenth birthday, I had been a junior member of the Society, but tonight, exactly one year later, was the point of no return. If I had bowed out, I would have been Obliviated and left to live my life in peace, but such a choice was impossible. Now, there was no turning back, no other option. Tonight, I would join them. It was my fate.
If I did not join the ranks of the Society, my family would never be safe.
Arnold opened the door and clambered out. “Are you coming, Persephone? Or are your womanly weaknesses finally starting to come alive?”
I clenched my teeth, but said nothing. As soon as the induction was over, I would not have to bear any insults that he would choose to throw at me. I would be my own mistress. I could hex him if I wished, and no one would stop me. As the first woman ever under consideration for the Society, I had endured his prejudices (and everyone else’s) for long enough.
My ill-mannered companion climbed the steps as I made my own descent from the carriage steps. He looked back, his face leering eerily in the light of the lone lamp above the door.
I shivered at the sight of him. In that moment, I had a fleeting sense of doubt in myself. There really was no turning back, and if I made one mistake, I would be dead before I could hide from my punishment.
But I forced myself to remain calm as I climbed the steps and took my place beside him. He met my eyes for what seemed like an eternity, but was only a moment. This time, for the first time since I had entered his tutelage, there was a hint of pity in his stony eyes.
“Welcome to real life, duckie,” he said, his voice rough with some strange emotion that I couldn’t place.
He grasped the ornate brass knocker and tapped it on the door in a soft staccato rhythm. Silently, the door opened to reveal a well-lit hallway. This is for you, Annemarie, and Mother and Father as well, I thought.
My head held high, I stepped over the threshold, out of the dreary night.
It was time.