I really do have too much muse for this story, I just can’t stop writing. That’s probably a good thing, haha. This gorgeous chapter image was made by the incredible AzureSeas from TDA. Once again, let’s start with the chapter:
The sweet, floral scent enveloped her senses as she walked through the meadow. Tall bushels of violet wildflowers, some even high enough to gently brush her cheek, surrounded her. The sky was painted black, with only an occasional spotting of stars lighting her way. The moon seemed to have disappeared, despite the absence of any clouds, forcing her to use only starlight to guide her way through the high crowds of overgrown grass.
Rich dirt squished in between her bare toes with each step she took. Nora wasn’t even aware of the serene smile forming on her lips until she came upon a sight that made it morph into a surprised grin. Millie, clad in a pale nightgown, sat cross-legged only a few feet away from her, a firefly cupped in her petite hands. As her eyes met Nora’s, it was obvious she was only a couple years older than Nora herself. There was not a wrinkle to be found on her face, and she wore a playful grin that her charge had never seen before.
Millie released the firefly from her palms, watching with delight as it fluttered away into the night air. She caught Nora’s eyes and, with a gesture of her hand, got to her feet and began to effortlessly glide through the meadow.
With an easy laugh, Nora raced after her, adrenaline rushing through her as her powerful legs worked underneath her. She tried to call out to Millie, but her voice seemed to be stuck in her throat.
And then, everything changed.
In the blink of an eye, Nora found herself in a forest bursting with giant oak trees that seemed to go on forever. She looked all around her, searching for her guardian and sighed with relief when she caught sight of a white dress once more. Her relief immediately transformed into panic as she found Millie lying in the forest floor, motionless, pints of blood seeping into the ground.
Nora tried to shout for her guardian once more, but, again, no sound emerged from her throat. She tried to rush to her, but was stopped as a hand grabbed her forearm and spun her sharply towards them.
Fenrir Greyback leered down at Nora, blood dripping from his lips as he sneered ferociously. “You did this,” he growled, his grip tightening to where she could no longer feel her fingers. “And now, you will pay.”
His mouth ravished her collarbone, ripping away at skin and tissue and allowing blood to escape. Claws forced deep gashes into her stomach, blood puddling at her feet. And with each scratch or bite, her silence was broken. Shrieks and screams finally escaped her, echoing off the trees and reverberating throughout the forest.
Millie’s head suddenly twisted around painfully, her eyes entirely white as she began to shout, “Nora!”
“Nora, wake up!”
Nora pried her eyes open, her breathing shallow and short as she tried to tear Greyback’s claws out of her. But, as her eyes adjusted to the dim candle light, she found that the forest had completely vanished, and she was now lying on her bed in Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. There were no windows in the room, but, judging from the garb of those in her bedroom now, it was obviously nighttime.
Sirius sat on her bed, clutching her struggling wrists with his jaw set, fear slowly fading from his gray eyes. A short, red-headed woman stood beside her bed, her warm, dark eyes filling with concern at Nora’s petrified expression. Another man, with equally vivid red hair as the woman and dressed in a patched set of blue pajamas, was beside her, close enough to where there was clearly some sort of intimate relationship.
Outside her open door, she could vaguely hear someone else screaming at the top of her lungs, but no one seemed to take notice. As she turned back to Sirius, Nora swore she thought she saw a pair of curious brown eyes glancing into the doorway, but they vanished before she could give them a second thought.
“Are you alright?” asked Sirius now, gently reaching up to smooth away a lone curl of black hair from her face. Nora flinched at his soft touch, but Sirius did not allow his hurt to be visible to the prying eyes of his companions.
“Just a nightmare,” whispered Nora, roughly brushing away the stray tears on her cheeks. “I—“ she turned to the red-headed couple watching her, “I’m sorry if I woke you up.”
“No worries, dear,” said the man kindly. “It’s certainly understandable.”
Feeling the woman’s motherly eyes still on her, she glanced at Sirius briefly and tried to ask, “Who…who are—“
“This is Arthur and Molly Weasley,” answered Sirius before she even got a chance to finish her question. “The family that we were talking about earlier, remember?”
“Oh,” said Nora softly. She felt guilt lash at her insides at the thought that she had just ruined these people’s first night in their new home. “I’m really sorry; I…I just…”
What Nora was going to say, she wasn’t even sure of. Sure, she had had nightmares before, but none this realistic. She felt her fingers tracing her stomach through her t-shirt, checking to make sure she wouldn’t find any gashes. She could still catch the scent of Greyback’s breath—coppery and foul—in the silence that followed her fading statement. It took all of her strength just to give Mr. and Mrs. Weasley a weak smile, hoping it would wipe the concern off their kind faces.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. “Are you sure you’re alright?” asked Mrs. Weasley now, her fingers twitching, as if she was holding back a desire to grasp Nora’s shoulder.
Not willing to open her mouth in fear of what might come out, Nora nodded silently. Not seeming particularly pleased with this answer, Mrs. Weasley nodded as well and, just before she left the room with her husband, told Nora, “In case you’re hungry, there’s some roast chicken in the kitchen. I know it’s a bit late, but...well, it’s there if you want some.” With one last heart-warming smile, Mrs. Weasley left with her husband. Nora swore she heard her hiss, “Go on, get back to bed—the girl has enough on her plate without you lot sneaking around out here!”
Turning back to Sirius, who was still sitting on her bed, she promised him, “I’m really fine. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“What was it about?” he asked, not budging just yet.
“What do you think?” said Nora, forcing her eyes away from his.
After a moment’s silence, Sirius moved his hand over hers, as if to grasp it, but eventually brought his hand back to his side. “You can talk to me, when you’re ready. Don’t forget, you’re not the only person who loved Millie,” he said quietly.
“I know,” said Nora; the raw emotions were still stirring in his eyes, and she found it incredibly to watch them develop. She kept her eyes down, away from his.
Sirius did not miss her behavior, but said nothing about it. Instead, he nodded and, after giving her shoulder a squeeze, got to his feet and took hold of the door, about to close it behind him. “Get some sleep, Nora. I’ll see you in the morning.”
After he finally left, Nora laid back down in her bed, closing her eyes to block out the dim light of the candle beside her. Her comforter was pulled up to her chin, the candle eventually blown out in frustration. As soon as her world went black, flashes of her nightmares jolted her wide awake. Every time she would try to close her eyes, his eyes, his mouth, his claws were haunting her. It was so difficult to even close her eyes that, after about fifteen minutes, she finally threw back her covers and sighed heavily.
Deciding to appease her growling stomach, Nora slipped on her tennis shoes and got to her feet. Just before she snuck out of her room, she snatched up her wand and stuck it in her back pocket. After everything that had happened, it seemed only reasonable to be a little cautious.
The corridor was pitch black and silent, which was a surprising relief. She crept all the way down until she found the winding staircase once more. After she reached the last landing, she retraced her steps to the dark, grimy kitchen that held the reason behind her vicious nightmares. Even as Nora entered, her emerald green eyes instinctively strayed to where she had been sitting hours before. However, her attention was forced to turn to the shadowy silhouette standing by the counter near the aging fridge, its back turned to her.
Hands trembling, Nora raised her wand to point at the person’s back. From what she could see, it had to be a man, one who was taller than her and certainly much broader. She tried to open her mouth to demand who they were, but no sound came out. Greyback flashed before her eyes, startling her so badly that red sparks shot out of the tip of her wand.
The person jumped in surprise at the flash of red light, spinning around and pointing some foreign object directly under her nose. The movement was so surprising that her wand slipped from her fingers, landing on the floor with a quiet clang.
“Ha!” gasped the person, continuing the aim the object right at her face. She wasn’t sure if he even knew who was standing right before him, as the kitchen was smothered in darkness. “I’ve got you now!”
With a roll of her eyes, Nora kicked her leg out and knocked the man’s knees out from underneath him. With a grunt, he was instantly on the floor; Nora fumbled in the darkness for her and, as soon as her fingers found wood, she shoved herself on top of him. “Bloody hell,” he mumbled, trying to throw her off of him, but Nora ignored him, finding some inner strength to keep him contained.
With the tip of her wand directly in his face, she hissed, “Lumos.”
Light finally flooded the kitchen and illuminated her adversary’s face. This man turned out to be simply a boy, maybe a year older than herself. His hair was vividly red, appearing almost ethereal under the light of her wand. Shocked, sky blue eyes gazed up at her, clearly completely unaware of who was lying above him. As soon as her own eyes took in his bright red hair once more, something clicked inside her mind.
“You’re one of the Weasleys, aren’t you?” she asked, feeling blood rush to her face as she began to put the pieces together.
“Afraid so,” said the boy lightly, as if they were simply discussing the weather, and she was not straddling him, wand pressed to his head. “George Weasley, actually. And you are?”
“Uh,” started Nora, various thoughts running through her mind. Should she tell him exactly who she was? No, probably not. “Nora. Nora Baker.” Just as she allowed herself to meet his eyes again, something else caught her eye. “Is that…a chicken bone?”
“Oh, this?” asked George, glancing at the bone clenched in his fingers, the same hand that had been pointing at Nora only moments before. “Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.”
“You were threatening me with…a chicken bone?” she asked, unable to believe the words that were spewing out of her mouth. It was all too ridiculous to believe, and yet there George sat before her, chicken bone in hand and appearing as if this happened on a daily basis. “You do know I could have cursed you to oblivion, right?”
A grin flashed across George’s features as he pointed out, “That would have been pretty remarkable, seeing as how your wand was on the ground the entire time.”
Nora held in a sudden desire to roll her eyes as she pulled herself off of George. Feeling she might as well do something to make up her obvious error, she thrust her hand down to him. He gratefully took it, although it was obvious that he hardly needed her help. As he stood before her, Nora found that he was at least a head taller than her, and rather stocky. “Uh—sorry about, you know, kicking you—“
George waved her apology away easily with that same cheerful grin spread across his face. Nora couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable with how relaxed he was, even though she had pointed her wand at him only moments before. “So, you’re the one they were talking about?”
“They?” asked Nora.
“My parents and Sirius were talking about some girl that was living here with us,” said George, taking his chicken bone and tossing it into the trash can. “Unless there’s another girl roaming around here, trying to threaten innocent bystanders, I’m guessing that’s you.”
“I’d hardly call you innocent,” scoffed Nora, rolling her eyes and bending over to glance into the fridge, desperate to eat anything. “You threatened me with a chicken bone, remember?”
“Only because I feared for my life,” explained George, feigning desperation.
“Oh yes,” said Nora, straightening up from the fridge, a plate of chicken in hand. “A sixteen-year-old girl who is shorter than you and can barely hold onto her wand is just terrifying.” Ignoring the ripped off pieces of chicken, she dug into the carcass, pulling off a breast and transferring it to a plate she had grabbed moments before. She was so ravenous, she didn’t even care that she probably looked revolting, scarfing down the chicken like she hadn’t eaten in days.
“Maybe I should have feared for my life,” smirked George.
Swallowing a particularly large mouthful of chicken, she ignored him and asked, “How long are you guys staying here? Dumbledore just said you were taking refuge here, nothing else.”
“Until we all go off to Hogwarts,” replied George. “Then Mum and Dad will head back home, since it should be safe for just them.”
Nora nodded, continuing to chew her chicken thoughtfully. She was shocked that, even cold, it was still delicious—that was saying something, since Millie had been a remarkable cook. As soon as the name of her late guardian popped into her head, a lump formed in her throat, causing her difficulty to swallow her chicken. Feeling tears burning at her eyes, Nora turned away from George’s confused face and tried her best to compose herself.
“Are you alright?” asked George now, a genuine look of concern spread across his face.
“Yeah,” responded Nora lightly, giving him a weak smile before taking another bite of chicken. “Just fine.”
Although he clearly didn’t believe her, George returned her nod and said, “So, what are you doing here? You’re…not related to Sirius, are you?”
Nora bit her bottom lip, thinking deeply as she recalled Dumbledore telling her that it was alright to tell the Weasley family about her past, that they were to be trusted. And yet, as she looked up into George’s eyes, something held her back. He was gazing down at her as if she was normal, as if she hadn’t just witnessed her guardian being murdered, nor that her parents hadn’t been killed by one of the most notoriously evil wizards of all time. Would that change when she told him all about her long-lost brother? “No,” replied Nora finally. “No, I just have some family in the Order, and they’re…out on a mission, so I have to stay here. You know, just to stay safe.”
George nodded, trusting her immediately. It only added to the guilt burning in her stomach, forcing her to lose any desire to finish her chicken. “You don’t go to Hogwarts, do you?” he asked as she cleaned her dish in the sink. “I’ve never seen you there before.”
“No,” she said, “I go to school in the States. It’s, uh, in the northeast; really obscure, hard to find.” As soon as her hands were dry, Nora finally faced George and gave him a warm smile. “Well, I better get back to bed. I’ll, uh, see you around, yeah?”
“I’m sure,” grinned George, completely oblivious to her anxious tone. “Sweet dreams.”
As soon as she was out of the room, Nora let out a breath of relief. She hadn’t lied to anyone in a long time, and now she realized why—the gnawing feeling inside of her stomach was just too much to bear. And now, as she ascended the staircase to her room, she knew she would be lying awake with that burning inside of her, sleep evading her. It was probably a good thing, she thought—who knows what her dreams would bring her.
I really enjoyed writing this chapter, and I’m not exactly sure why. This set up a lot of plots down the road for this story. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did, and please leave a review!