Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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“Hey Amber, guess what?” Dorcas said, playing a game with the sweet little girl. She smiled and cooed, knowing what was coming next. “Amber, I missed you today!!” she cried, and the little girl smiled and giggled.
Dorcas felt pudgy little baby fingers entwined in her hair, and the pieces pulled none too gently as they got caught on the stickiness on the baby’s fingers. She took her own small hand and tugged gently on her sister’s soft blonde curls.
“Excuse me miss, but I believe you have your own hair.” Dorcas teased lightly, and Amber giggled again, this time intentionally pulling harder on her sister’s hair, loving the attention it got her.
“Mine.” Amber insisted, and Dorcas smiled and shook her head.
“Not yours silly, that hair is mine.” Dorcas gently removed Amber’s fingers from her hair, pressed the little hands together and kissed them. She snuggled Amber close to her. “You don’t want my hair anyways baby, it’s a boring old brown and yours is so pretty.”
“Sissa pretty too.” Amber protested, and Dorcas couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Why thank you, that means a lot coming from the prettiest princess in the land.” Dorcas declared grandly. “But you’re a very lucky little girl, Amber. Most little girls don’t get to have their name be the color of their hair.”
Amber gently touched Dorcas’ face. “I tell Mummy Dor home from school! Dor home.”
Amber snuggled into her sister one last time before pushing away and attempting to run across the living room. She lost her balance and fell, and it took only a second before Dorcas was at her side, wiping the tears away with the pads of her thumbs.
“Shh, baby, it’s okay.” Dorcas comforted, before tickling Amber for a brief moment. The little girl laughed and tried to escape.
“Seriously Meadowes, what’s your problem?”
Dorcas ignored the tall, broad young man training to be an Auror with her. If Dorcas was interested in dating, she would have been hard pressed to deny that he was attractive. However, Dorcas didn’t date.
Frequently, her parents would lecture her about her lack of social behavior and the fact that she never seemed happy. Dorcas argued back that she was fine; this was her personality, that she didn’t want friends or a boyfriend.
They didn’t like this answer.
They wanted her to try harder and to put in more effort, and while sometimes Dorcas did feel guilty for worrying them, usually she got over it rather quickly. She’d never been particularly close to them, and she knew they didn’t understand her.
To be honest, most didn’t.
“I don’t have a problem Clark, do you?” Dorcas snapped back, and the young man named Clark laughed. Everyone was used to this behavior from Dorcas, she was usually quite grouchy.
“Honestly Meadowes, I’ve never met somebody as unhappy as you.” Clark replied, knowing he was annoying Dorcas and pushing her buttons, but honestly it was just so fun. She rolled her eyes at him.
“You know Clark, if your opinion mattered at all to me that could hurt my feelings.”
“C’mon Meadowes, come out with the guys after work today. We’re gonna go down to the Hogs Head and grab a drink or two. It’ll be good for ya. You never do anything fun.” Clark looked at her imploringly, and Dorcas resisted the urge to laugh.
“Just because I don’t include you in my fun Clark doesn’t mean I don’t have any. And you don’t think all our training exercises are fun? I’m telling Moody.” Dorcas said lightly as she walked away. Clark followed quickly behind her.
“Meadowes, I refuse to believe that you have fun until you at least tell me what you do for fun.” Clark wasn’t going away, and Dorcas sighed in annoyance. She turned to look at him.
“Seriously Clark, I think we have different definitions of fun. My evening has already been completely planned out. I promised my sister I would visit her by dinner so we would have enough time to have a tea party before she goes to bed. If you keep holding me up, there is going to be a very disappointed 4 year old at my parents’ house. Satisfied?” Dorcas looked at him and saw a wide grin.
“Well then, if the fair lady already has a date I’ll be going.” Clark turned and walked away. Just before Dorcas was out of earshot he spun around and yelled to her. “Enjoy your tea Meadowes!”
“Stupid prat” Dorcas mumbled before climbing into one of the fireplaces and flooing to her parents’ house. She stepped out of the fire and heard little footsteps coming quickly from the other room. Dorcas headed in that direction eagerly, ready for Amber’s tea party.
“Dorcas, I swear I honestly don’t understand what’s wrong with her. She refuses to talk to me; she absolutely insisted that you came over right away. I don’t know what little girl refuses to talk to her own mother.” Mrs. Meadowes looked at Dorcas’ back. Her oldest daughter was walking ahead of her so her mother couldn’t see her roll her eyes.
“Mum, it’s not a big deal, I’m over here almost every day anyways to play with her, and dropping by this afternoon doesn’t matter, especially if she wanted me.” Dorcas said, and her voice had a light snap to it.
“Well I still don’t understand. She’s my daughter, not yours, aren’t little girls supposed to want their Mummy?” Mrs. Meadowes sighed deeply and rubbed her temples. “She never does, anything goes wrong and she wants her Dor. Her primary school called me the other day, do you know that? They were concerned because her school forms looked like they had been filled out by Amber herself. Turns out she erased everything I wrote down and wrote down your number as her in case of emergency number!”
Dorcas tried very hard to stifle her laughter, but found it difficult. The child was simply too smart for her own good.
Her mother wasn’t finished yet, and didn’t find her daughter’s smile the least bit amusing. “And then, when I asked her about it she said ‘I just didn’t want them to worry you Mummy. Dor is strong, she doesn’t get worried.’ Honestly, I don’t know what I am going to do with that child.”
Apparently her sister was a charmer too.
“Don’t worry about it Mum, I’m going to talk to her. It’ll be fine, I promise.” Dorcas said, having finally arrived at Amber’s bedroom door. She looked at her mother pointedly until she huffed and walked away. Dorcas knocked softly on Amber’s bedroom door.
“GO AWAY MUMMY, I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU.” Dorcas heard the little voice from inside and laughed under her breath. She couldn’t let Amber hear her laughing, or the little girl would be too angry to tell her what was wrong.
“You don’t want to talk to me?!?” Dorcas called back lightly. “I guess I’m just going to have to eat all of this ice cream I snuck past Mummy by myself then.”
She could hear Amber scurrying over to the door, and braced herself. As soon as the door opened all the way, she barely had time to catch sight of the blonde curls before Amber launched herself at her.
“Dor, you came!” She cried happily, burying her face in her sister’s hair and Dorcas smiled. Hair had always soothed Amber, braiding it and touching it had been a comfort to her ever since she had been a baby. She was still so small for her age sometimes Dorcas had to remind herself that she was almost 6 years old.
“Of course I came you silly little ladybug, why are you so surprised? Dorcas asked, walking into the room still holding Amber, and closed the door softly behind her. Amber pulled her head out of Dorcas’ hair, but continued to stroke it with one small hand. Her big blue eyes were bloodshot, and the little thing looked exhausted.
“Well Mummy said that you are an Auror now, and your job makes you very tired and you probably didn’t have any time to come and talk to a silly little girl.” Amber told her, and Dorcas fought to keep herself from seething. She plastered on a fake smile and placed the little girl on her huge canopy bed. Dorcas had bought her the bed last year for her birthday, spending a whole month’s paycheck on it but insisting that the prettiest princess in the land should have a beautiful princess bed.
“Mummy is silly.” Dorcas said, taking the less is more approach. She would have to speak to her mother later about that later. “I always have time for my little ladybug. No matter what. Do you understand me?”
“Yep!” Amber replied happily. “I told Mummy that and she told me to stop talking back ‘cause it’s fresh and she’s the grown up so she knows what she is talking ‘bout.” Amber now had her hand fully entwined in Dorcas’ long hair, and she snuggled closer to her sister. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too bug.” Dorcas whispered softly and kissed Amber’s forehead. “Now do you maybe want to tell me why you look so sad?”
Amber sighed, and a troubled look came over her little features. It made Dorcas want to punch a wall.
“Dor, do you think I’m pretty?” Amber asked, and even Dorcas couldn’t hide the horror on her face. Wasn’t she too young to be worried about this stuff? What happened to being a child? Amber looked away, embarrassed.
“Amber, look at me.” Dorcas demanded, but she still refused. “I said look at me.” She said again, softly grabbing Amber’s face and turning it to face her. “You are the most beautiful little girl in the whole world, inside and out. I don’t want you ever worrying about things like this, do you understand me? Who told you that you weren’t pretty?”
“The other day on the playground Timmy Hodge told me I looked like his pet lizard.” Amber said, her little face twisted with horror. Dorcas stifled her laughter. Amber wouldn’t find it amusing, and laughing about such a serious matter would do far more harm than good. “I am not a lizard.”
“Oh no, definitely not.” Dorcas said, her voice very somber. “Do you want to hear a secret little one? One that most grownups don’t even know?” Amber nodded eagerly.
“Well you have to promise not to tell.” Dorcas said playfully, and Amber nodded solemnly. “Amber, when people say mean things to other people, it’s because they don’t think nice things about themselves. The things they say about other people are the things they secretly think everyone says about them.”
Amber looked extremely satisfied with this answer, and Dorcas smiled.
“Do you know what that means?” Dorcas whispered, and Amber shook her head. “It really means that Timmy Hodges thinks that he looks like a lizard. Is that true?”
Amber immediately burst into a fit of giggles, nodding happily, and Dorcas tickled her just a little bit to encourage this.
“Dor, can I ask you a question?” Amber asked, and Dorcas nodded and gestured for her to go ahead. “Why did you leave to live someplace else? I miss you, and when I try to go to sleep at night and I want to rub someone’s hair there is no one here for me to do that with!”
“I had to move out baby, because Dorcas is a grown up now and when people grow up they go to live by themselves.” Dorcas explained carefully. She couldn’t very well tell her little sister that as an Auror and secret Order member, she might as well be one big walking target. “And I bet that if you asked Mummy she would let you rub her hair while you fall asleep.”
Amber crinkled her nose at that idea and Dorcas couldn’t help but laugh.
“Mummy’s hair is no good.” Amber insisted. “Her hair is just like mine and I don’t want that. You’re so pretty Dor, and your hair is so soft. And it’s a different color, which makes you special.”
“Well, I think you’re the most special little girl in the whole universe.” Dorcas told her, and Amber gave her a toothy grin. “I have an idea. How about just this once you go put your jammies on and I’ll stay and put you to bed. You can even rub my hair if you promise not to pull it all out on me like you used to do when you were a baby.” Amber nodded aggressively, and Dorcas gently pushed her off the bed to go get changed.
Dorcas ducked quickly and only narrowly avoided the jet of lavender light that had been heading straight for her head. The color was so soft, so beautiful, that it was difficult to believe that the spell it carried could do any damage. Dorcas knew without a doubt however, that that particular spell would have done irreversible harm.
After all, Bellatrix dueled to kill.
Seething on the inside, but determined not to let it show, Dorcas shot a stunner straight toward Bellatrix’s head. She laughed when she saw Bellatrix’s hair catch on fire. She only barely dodged the spell Bellatrix shot at her in fury.
“Come on Bella, you know you’ve been needing a haircut anyways.” Dorcas sniped, and she would’ve sworn she saw actual steam come out of Bellatrix’s ears.
“Someday Meadowes, you’re going to wish you learned how to treat your superiors with a little more respect.” Bellatrix replied, and the two women continued their careful dance of shooting and dodging spells.
“Bella, I don’t think that Dumbledore wants my respect. I mean, the greatest wizard in the world doesn’t seem too concerned about that stuff.” Dorcas quipped, and when she saw the fury behind the Crucio heading her way, she knew she was playing with fire.
“Meadowes, surely you’re not this stupid.” Bellatrix said, trying to maintain her composure, though it was obviously difficult for her. “You have to know what happens to the people who anger me.”
“See Bella, your threats would work on me if I had anything I loved enough to be afraid for.” Dorcas bluffed, but in her mind popped an image of the only thing she did care about. This is why she moved out. The distance was safer for Amber.
The battle was clearly winding down, and injured and dead were strewn everywhere. Bellatrix winced and grabbed her wand arm, before turning and looking Dorcas straight in the eye for the first time.
“Meadowes, if you don’t start watching your damn back I am going to kill you myself just so some dirty, good for nothing Death Eater doesn’t get the pleasure of doing it!”
Dorcas ducked slightly into her small cubicle in the Ministry’s Auror office, naively trying to follow the idea that maybe if Mad Eye thought she didn’t hear him, he would go away.
“You’re kidding yourself if you think I am so old that you running from me and hiding in a cubicle is going to stop me from giving you an earful.” Mad Eye informed her gruffly, carefully fitting himself into the cubicle with her. Dorcas sighed. She had hoped the lack of space would be enough to deter Mad Eye from chasing after her. As she thought it, even she knew it was ludicrous. Nothing deterred Moody when he wanted something.
“I know.” Dorcas replied curtly, and Mad Eye nodded. This was more like his favorite cadet. Brash and to the point. Not a hider.
“Well then, you mind explaining to me what the hell was running through your mind when you decided to challenge Bellatrix Lestrange and taunt her the entire time you dueled? It’s one thing to fight the best of the best Meadowes, especially as a rookie Auror. It’s another to get distracted by a verbal sparring match!” Moody’s eyes bore straight into Dorcas’, and she stared right back, unflinching.
“Come on Mad Eye.” She said, her voice displaying a tone of cockiness. “You know that even as a rookie I can hold my own against that sort of scum better than most of the people here in this office. And you also know that verbal sparring is part of my dueling style. There’s no one easier to beat than a distracted opponent.”
“That’s exactly the problem Meadowes! If you want to duel a distracted Lestrange, that’s fine. The problem comes when you let Lestrange distract you!” Mad Eye shook his head dismissively at the confused look Dorcas shot him. “Meadowes, I know you, I trained you. There is no one better at acting like they are invincible, at putting up the shield that will protect them from all the fighting.”
Dorcas barely suppressed a grin. This was as close to complimenting Moody would ever come. He wasn’t finished though.
“I also know you outside of this damn office Meadowes. It is my job to know everything about my cadets, and you’re no different. And I am telling you right now that if you think that Bellatrix Lestrange won’t find out about that little sister of yours, you are the most delusional person I have ever met! So if you want to be reckless Meadowes, you be reckless with yourself. I won’t have the blood of a little girl on my hands because my cadet was acting like an immature Hogwarts student!” Mad Eye growled, and Dorcas felt the blood begin to boil in her veins.
Before she knew it, or could consider the consequences or even the logistics of the small cubicle, Dorcas was on her feet, her rigid wand pressed to her mentor’s throat.
If both Aurors weren’t fighting raging tempers, the situation would have been almost comical. There was Mad Eye Moody, the craziest, toughest and least likely to take your shit Auror there had potentially ever been.
And standing in front of him, her small stature and slim frame completely eclipsed, was Dorcas Meadowes. She was reckless, headstrong, and terrifyingly talented with her wand. Her long hair was streaming down her back, rustling as if the wind was blowing. The papers Dorcas had been shuffling moments ago were on fire. She hadn’t performed accidental magic in years.
“I would never jeopardize my sister.” Dorcas snapped, and before she knew it, her wand was in Mad Eye’s hand pointed at herself. She didn’t even flinch at the sudden loss of control of the situation. “That little girl is my whole world. I will murder anyone who touches a single blonde curl.”
“Well then, you might want to start thinking a little more before you speak. Because you just challenged Bellatrix Lestrange to find the only thing you love. She now has a determination to find that little girl and do Merlin only knows what to her. And you are the one who proposed the bloody challenge.” Mad Eye pointed out, shoving Dorcas’ wand back at her chest. She sucked in a breath quickly, horrified at the truth he had just illuminated for her.
“She won’t find her.” Dorcas stated quickly. “I won’t let her find Amber.”
Mad Eye’s mouth was in a grim line, and he shifted his weight from one leg to another. The horror still evident in Dorcas’ eyes was all that he needed to know that he had gotten his point across.
“Well then, you had better start being a hell of a lot more careful.” Mad Eye stated gruffly. “If not for your sister or yourself, then for me. I don’t have the time or the energy to hunt down Lestrange for taking out my favorite cadet, do you hear me?”
Dorcas merely nodded.
Mad Eye growled and pushed himself roughly out of the cubicle, letting out a curse under his breath when his bad leg slammed against the side wall.
Dorcas’ mouth set itself in a hard, straight line. Her eyes became expressionless and cold. As much as she didn’t like it, Mad Eye was right. She had been reckless. And it wasn’t going to cost her. It was going to cost Amber.
She picked up the only personal possession she had in the cubicle, a small muggle photograph in a simple black frame. In the picture, a toddler Amber was balanced precariously on a rock wall, holding a popsicle. Most of her face was dyed red from it, and her little white jumper had red streaks going all down it. She was giving the camera a toothy grin.
Before she could think about it, Dorcas pulled the picture out of the frame and tossed the frame in the trash. She carefully placed the photo in her back pocket, determined to take it home and hide it out of sight.
The way things were now, Amber was in danger.
So things were going to have to change.
A/N: Hey everyone! If you made it this far, I would like to thank you for reading my story. Just another weird story from the recesses of my mind. This was clearly an introductory chapter, and the later chapters will get darker and more serious, just as a heads up.
Anyways, thanks again for reading and I would really appreciate it if you took the time to review!