Chapter 1 : Her
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The opening of the airlock on the sealed door was followed by a clamp and hiss. I stepped inside. After the security guard verified my clearance status, I was escorted to the cell of Prisoner 11.
Prisoner 11 had been my academic fixation for numerous months—of intensive research, topic of discussion with colleagues and mentors, of practicing queries in front of the mirror in the mornings, and yet as my gaze fell upon her red-but-graying scalp and heavily creased forehead, I was at a loss of words. In the flesh, behind the bars, she met my confusion with a courteous smile, gesturing to the chair that had been placed outside the cell, right across from her. Her age was positively inscrutable from her appearance, though what had remained of records placed her at eighty. Her legs were crossed, her hands politely folded in her lap, a practiced smile on her face—her mannerisms resembled ones of a quaint grandmother.
This was not all how I had pictured the notorious criminal sentenced to death row.
“Do sit down, Mr. Walker. I won’t bite.” The voice spoke, raspy and deep and so exquisitely toned it ran shivers up my spine. We were now face to face, my hands shaking tentatively as I removed pen and paper from my breast pocket. I took a deep breath.
“Ms. Weasley, I am going to state a series of facts that I will need you to validate--”
“Rose.” She interrupted, her eyes bright. “Call me Rose.”
I blinked momentarily but then quickly regained my composure.
“Your name is Rose Weasley.”
“You are the last of your kind.”
“There are no more wizards or witches in the world.”
“Given the choice to live the remainder of your life in prison or death, you chose death.”
“You have fifteen days to live.”
“When you die, there will be no more magic in this world.”
No reply. I looked up to meet a jaw clenched in deliberation and a pensive stare, directed at me. “Tell me, how much do you know of magic, Mr. Walker?”
I pressed my dry lips before reciting what I knew by heart: that it was a source of evil that had undisputedly ravaged countless lives, destroyed entire areas of England, caused mayhem—
“I did not ask for your professors’ opinions on the matter, Mr. Walker. Or the textbook definition. What do you know, truly know, about magic?”
The woman studied me with an unfathomable expression. I felt dumbfounded. “Ms. We...Rose, I suppose.” I stammered, “We aren’t allowed to…you see, the government doesn’t—”
“But that is why you’re here isn’t it?” She said, with a half-smile, “A graduate. Historian. An Intellectual. You came looking for answers, didn’t you? You want to know what happened that blew the best kept secret of mankind—magic.”
Had she peered into my mind and holistically assessed the essence of my soul? Could she look into my past and see the years of painstaking work I had done to get to where I stood now? I had no friends, girlfriend, or social life—only a sharp mind and an insatiable curiosity that kept me incessantly in the library poring over information of this absurd world of dragons and flying broomsticks. I had discovered startling gaps in our collection of knowledge, things that could have been easily overlooked if you weren’t looking for them. The Inevitable War—that took place between the magical and muggle realms fifty years ago had no recorded cause. Tell me everything that happened, I said. The war—no, no the war was the end. I want to know everything that led to it. I want to know every instance, accident, revelation that resulted in the precise calculations of the downward spiral. I want to know your life, Ms. Weasley. I want to know you. All of you. Each and every broken piece of history that I can preserve is a step towards building a better future, and— no, that’s bullshit. That’s what I told the guys at the security clearance. The truth is that I have no noble reason for knowing. I’ll keep your secrets. I just want to know.
“How did you survive?”
“Survive? My—because I’m a parasite.” She gave me her practiced smile, “Surviving is a habit, Mr. Walker, which I have perfected over years of labored practice. The more you face, the more resilient you become. I have escaped death sentences before. If I liked, I could escape this cell, I could kill each and every one of the guards, I could kill you, and I would leave without too much trouble.”
“But where would you go?” I asked, undaunted.
“That’s the problem, isn’t it?” I could see the outline of every crack on her darkened face, hear the fatigue in her voice—the pain of a woman who had suffered countless indignities, who had become the monster she was through a series of hardship. “Freedom has a price, Mr. Walker. Nothing is without consequence. It took me a lifetime to understand that.”
The art of witchcraft and wizardry was founded, indisputably, on the principles of science. Magic is only energy, after all. Energy that wizards use manipulate to perform various functions.
Please let him live.
The inherent truth is that energy cannot be created or destroyed.
He’s all she had left. Can’t you understand? Dammit it’s just not fair!
Needless to say there are some things that aren’t humanely possible. The creation of something out of nothing. But reviving someone on the brink of death?
God. Merlin. Please. Both of you. Either of you. Anyone. Is anyone out there?
Both of them drenched by rain, she sat holding his little body. Slowing pulse. Dilating pupils. He was going under again, sickly little Hugo, only this time it was different. His sweet baby face, crumpled from the severe pain, had started to relax. The hand that had so tightly gripped hers, so many times, began to loosen—no. Hot tears sprang into her eyes.
At its core though, magic isn’t just a collection of spells. It’s not a compilation of potion ingredients. It’s not the stream of light that comes out the end of a First Year’s shaky wand. It is the essence of consciousness, a fixation, an algorithm, an amplified mixture of willpower and highly concentrated neural energy. Words are a superfluous attribution, uttered to increase focus. In its simplest form, magic is an idea. And a very good idea, mind you.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He had been a ticking clock from the day he had been born. Now he would die right in front of her. Except, he couldn’t—not like this. There had to be something, anything! Vital seconds of his lifespan trickled away as she wracked her brain for answers. Concentrating as hard as she could. Ideas whirring through her mind faster than tears slipped through her eyes. Tentatively gripping her wand, she began muttering incantations—nonsense, made-up syllables. With her head bent, her focus consisted on one thing only: the preservation of his life.
She had no idea what the hell would happen.
Just as every algorithm has a heuristic, there are techniques in magic that are able to bypass… certain technicalities. Still, you can’t get nothing without something. There is always a price.
A bright vortex of light emerged from under her, consuming Hugo’s limp body. She gripped him as hard as she could to avoid separation. Wind and flame swirled around them at an impossible pace. The force, spell, whatever the hell you want to call it, was out of control. A surge of lightning shot through her body. She screamed in pain. She screamed in anger.
“Give him back! He’s all I have left!”
Thunder boomed in response as the destructive and reparative force burned through her insides. Then for a split second, while it felt like her entire body would be ripped apart, everything stopped. Time stood still. The searing pain vanished instantaneously. Vision blurred, noises deafened, any semblance of reality disappeared for a few brief moments, until she fell limp on Hugo’s body, both of them breathing heavily. She couldn’t move her legs
In that moment it didn’t matter. Nothing else mattered. She sat there holding him in her arms, sobbing silently. Tears of joy
Blinding lights struck her face as the emotionless voice pronounced her name.
“How do you plead, Miss Weasley, to the charges made against you?”
She licked her dry lips nervously, “And what would those be, your Honor?”
Amidst the crowd of indistinguishable faces, Minister Kingsley, longtime friend of her parents, gave her an impassive stare.
“The use of previously untested dark magic.”
At this there were curious murmurs in the audience. Kingsley slammed his hammer, enforcing silence. “We don’t have all day, Ms. Weasley, how do you plead?”
She could feel her heart plunge. There weren’t words to describe the hopelessness she felt, as the entire scenario played out in her head. From the confines of her chair, she would lift herself up, slowly, painfully, for her legs hadn’t healed yet. Your Honor, if I could just explain—Answer the question, Ms. Weasley! How do you plead? How the hell am I supposed to plead?! You’ve already made your decision, anyway. I’m going to Azkaban. You brought your dead brother back to life. He should have died! I saved him. Are you aware of the transgression of your actions, Ms. Weasley? Everything your parents fought, died, to protect —do you have any idea of precisely the damage you have caused in trying to play God? The ripples of your actions? The Pandora’s box you have opened for every other wizard in the world? I saved him. I don’t give a damn.
There was silence in the room as people who had been watching her collectively let their gaze swivel toward the minister, awaiting his verdict, all except the man on the left. The man on the left was dressed fashionably in a double-breasted navy plaid suit, with four button cuffs and matching trousers, possessing the fastidious expression of someone who was rarely ever pleased. The man on the left was middle-aged and wrongfully ambitious for his position as Head Auror, and had a distinctively angular face marked with a single scar running over the left side to the pointed chin. The man on the left was not interested in what the Minister had to say—he didn’t like the sodding prick anyway. He was far too busy observing the fifteen-year-old girl, her tight jawline, the firmness of her brow, the occasional expression of fear that would flash in her eyes and falter the façade she held in the face of her verdict. She possessed an agile frame, nothing special but workable, and though her legs were limp and weak, with the right amount of training, he could see them become muscular. She was neither big nor small nor plain nor conventionally pretty (which was excellent, because prettiness would annoy him) but fine featured and lean. With the exception of that startlingly bright hair, she was a blank canvas. There was potential. He could morph her easily.
With a peculiar grace, the Head Auror stood up and cleared his throat.
“My dear Minister, allow me to offer a suggestion on behalf of the girl.”
Kingsley considered the Head with disdainful deliberation. “Very well, Vincent.”
“Grant me custody.”
The Minister blinked twice, quite unsure what he had heard was correct. Never would he have considered the Head the type of man with paternal instinct or a particular fondness of children. Rather the opposite. Rose had not yet recovered from the jaw-dropping statement.
“Precisely what do you intend to do with custody?”
“I meant professional custody, of course. Allow me to make Rose Weasley an asset to the Ministry. She is young, weak, injured—but I believe there is potential in her. She can reside under my surveillance where we may study the effects of dark magic on her. In the meantime, I shall train her personally.”
“Need I remind you, Vincent,” The minister stated, his nostrils flaring, “that being awarded the rank of Auror is a privilege—which not to mention requires complete schooling and outstanding OWLS, neither of which Ms. Weasley possesses—”
“Yet it cannot be denied she has displayed prodigious talent in witchcraft.”
The Minister sputtered. “Why—this is an utterly ridiculous proposition…I shall not hear another word of this nonsense! It’s settled! Rose Weasley is going to answer for her mistakes and nothing else!”
Just when Rose thought the nonsense had ended, the Head intervened again, on her behalf:
“My Dear Minister, you may feel comfortable with sentencing an under-aged orphan to Azkaban, but I assure you that many others in this room, much like myself, do not. Perhaps we shall put it to the jury to decide.”
Rose learned something about irony that day, as each hand slowly rose to commit her fate to a lifetime of servitude, the Minister’s nostrils flared, and the scary man in the suit eyed her like a champion prize horse (or perhaps a useless piece of shit. They had only just met. She was not so sure what a hawk-like glare meant yet). Within minutes she had gone from contemplating Azkaban to being adopted.
The Head lived by himself and two house elves—German, polar opposites by the names of Una and Gus who were always bickering and flinging strongly worded insults at each other. The Head enjoyed this clash of personalities in the same way one enjoys a glass of lemonade of a hot summer day. The house itself was nothing short of extravagant, with its larger than life décor and spiraling staircase, and a grand dining room with enough seating for an army yet held only a distraught girl and fashionably dressed man that particular evening.
Una and Gus had, as always, prepared a contrasting meal of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine, though the Head wasn't as much interested in food as he was in his new ward. As he chewed on his tonkatsu slowly, he observed her from across the table—the hollow, darkened eyes, the hunched over demeanor, the mangled urchin I’m-not-hungry look.
So resolute. So… adolescent.
He would have crush that defiant spirit in due time, mold and shape it into submission. She would never grow if she didn’t eat, and if she starved to death, he would be prosecuted on charges of abuse…which would ultimately damage his prospective chances of becoming the Minister. Unacceptable.
No response. He tapped the tip of his glass impatiently, waiting. Was this defiance or was she just not much of a talker? Not that he minded the latter, having no interest in listening to adolescent chatter about shoes and clothes and boys and whatnot. The last thing he wanted with his new ward was a relationship not wrought in fear and mutual resentment.
But respect, no, respect was different. She would learn to worship the ground he walked on.
For a few brief moments they sat there as the kitchen rattled with bickering between Una and Gus. There was a clattering of pans followed by violent threats made in German.
“Gus! Put down the knife or I deduct from your pay!” The Head called.
“Meister bezahlt mich nicht!”*
This was followed by the loud pattering of feet and shrill sobbing.
“Well now look what you’ve done, Gus.” The Head tsked, pouring himself a glass of wine, “Go make a healing potion and apologize to Una. This is not how families behave!”
Family. That word must’ve triggered something because the girl’s head instantaneously shot up.
“I have aunts, uncles, cousins.” She said, “I have people who have known me since birth. But no one came to the trial. Why hasn’t anyone come to help me?”
“Who knows, maybe they just don’t like you. Maybe no one’s ever liked you. Did you think of that?”
She stared at him, utterly stupefied. The Head reassessed his remark thinking that perhaps he had been insensitive. Damn this child raising business. He put down his wine glass and pulled out a cigar.
“Look, Weasley,” He said as he lit it, “I know it’s hard to believe it, but no one really likes orphans. When and if you have kids, you’ll understand. In fact you’ve probably been a burden on everyone since your parents died, especially your Aunt…Germy?”
He puffed, coughing as he accidentally inhaled too deeply. “Right, right. Well, life is a cruel, tough place and it’s only when you’re in trouble you realize how alone you are. Not to mention you’ve broken rules that would scare the hell out of most people. They probably think you’re some reincarnation of Herpo or le Fay or, Merlin forbid, our most recent Tommy. ”
At this point there was so much smoke in the room, Gus had reentered to open windows. Una was holed up in the bathrooms crying her eyes out. Rose had not made a single movement. The Head paused for a moment of deliberation before continuing.
“However, I’m not most people, Weasley, so this misunderstood urchin thing won’t work with me. I can see you don’t feel a sliver of remorse for your actions, nor do I particularly care. But you’re ambitious and I like that. You will train and study under me, and, further on, serve as my right hand and secret vessel of power. I will make you stronger than you could ever imagine. In turn you will help me achieve my subversive goals until I become the Minister of Magic. Is that understood?”
He had intended this information to be a shock for her: outrageous, exciting, scandalous, or at least eye-opening. Or perhaps there would be outrage for the depravity of his request and self-serving agenda, but there was none of that either. Here he was, offering the brat ultimate power as temptation and she hardly seemed interested. She returned only a hollow look.
Irritably he continued, “But that doesn’t mean you can feel free to make yourself at home. Furthermore, I’m not your father and I have no interest in pretending to be so. You will address me as Sir or Head or nothing at all. As long as you are my ward, you will live by my rules and restrictions, which means no boys, no drinking, no communication with boys, no junk food, no thinking about boys, and no magic without permission. Also, there will be no talking to reporters and boys of any kind and curfew is strictly 6 PM.”
“Will I get to see him?”
The Head stared at her for a moment, in dismay.
“My brother. If I do this for you, will I get to see him?”
“If that’s…all you want, I don’t see why not.”
“That’s all I want.”
*Master doesn’t pay me
A/N: First chapter! Leave me a review telling me how you think it went. I have high hopes for this story. Next chapter: Albus.