Chapter 1 : Just Keep Running
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The bar was dark, just as she had planned and she could feel the heat burning at her face, when she’d come this far into the world she hadn’t expected this. The noise, the desert and most of all the heat had surprised her.
As she walked in further, she dropped her cloak from her face, she wasn’t very good at facial transfiguration at the best of times, least of all when she couldn’t focus but she just couldn’t risk being seen. A dim light shone through a small hole opposite the bar which she walked slowly towards.
As she walked closer to the light, the shadow of a man came into view. His bearing was crooked and below his eye a small chunk of flesh was missing but she had bigger things to worry about. She pulled up a chair, brushing the dust off the seat vigorously. The dirt made no difference, it was already embedded in her nails, her skin yet she still tried, there was at least this much pride left in her.
The man in the darkness limped over to her, clunking with what she could only assume was a wooden leg. The war had been waged all over the world, so it wasn’t unsurprising. Muggles were often hunted with bear traps in the times of snatchers.
‘Drink?’ he questioned in a gruff voice, looking at her up and down. She supposed that she could not blame him after all. Her clothes were most disheveled, coming apart at the seams and fraying at the edges. His eyes focused on her face where tearstains had left hollow marks on her pale, bloodless cheek.
‘Wine, please.’ She replied in an almost autonomic tone. All she could think about at the moment was making the pain go away; the pain which was now embedded into her soul, weaved into her timeline.
He wiped the rim of dust from the glass with a filthy rag but she did not care. There were much worse things in the world to be worried about those little specks of dirt.
Tears burned at the corner of her eyes as she thought of the worse things. Thoughts of the war, her parents and Fred. Oh her dear, lovely Fred. Unbidden, the thought of that moment played back in her mind. She should have stopped him, she should have told him why she needed him to stay, she should have been there with him. If she’d have been there, he’d have been protecting her not his family. He would still be alive if she hadn’t been so selfish.
Tears started rolling down as he passed her drink over the bar. He kept throwing furtive glances toward her way, probably wondering whether he should ask, but looking at the state of her he thought the last thing she needed was to be questioned by a complete stranger. He appeared to recognise her from somewhere, one of these odd folk, who came over on boats in search of the beach but instead ended up with no where to even sleep. He wondered if he should offer her a room but convinced himself she wouldn’t be interested.
He watched as the tears trickled down her face; while her hands wiped them furiously off as she drank the wine, brushing the remnants from her lips. The red wine dripped across her fingers, staining between her pores like blood flowing from a cut. Her eyes glanced across it, the wine, before trying to scrub it off with the remainder of her clothes.
She wiped her eyes again, scrubbing the wine even more. The bartender limped once again over to her and offered her another rag. This one was cleaner than the first. She took it gladly to clear the stain away but in her clumsy attempts, she only ended up staining the rag instead. Her hand shook as she placed the dirty scrap of cloth back on the bar. The stain was still there. The pain was still so raw.
Picking it back up the bartender threw the bag in the sink, poured a little more alcohol over it and set the rag on fire. The bright orange flame illuminated the rest of the bar. It was bigger than she originally thought, there were more seating along the other side of the bar and another doorway where she imagined there was a restaurant. Beautiful artwork covered the walls and striking mosaics full of seashells lined the floor.
‘Thanks.’ She grunted appreciatively watching the flames dance on the sink. There was no more stain and no more blood yet the pain inside her raged on.
‘So where are you from?’ He asked caringly, the roughness almost gone from his voice. He reminded her so much of her father that more tears threatened to fall once again.
She tried to remember the last time she’d seen her father. The fear in their eyes as they told her they had to leave…the longing almost tore her heart apart as she realised that was the last time she saw him. He’d wanted her to go too with him and her mother, but she couldn’t leave Fred and everything they had. The last time she was with him, they’d argued and she would regret that until the end of her days.
If she’d have gone with them then maybe she would have been able to protect them from the Ministry, maybe she’d have been able to save her mother from their evil clutches. She thought about how everything might have been different. Fred could have gone with her too, he had offered but she wouldn’t leave, she had told him she couldn’t whilst the people she loved and the people she had spent most of her life with were out there risking their lives. If only she had…
When she awakened from her daze the barman was standing next to her. He was younger than she’d imagined with much softer features. His eyes were warm and caring.
‘We don’t have to talk.’ He looked at her, wondering about her background. Her accent was British, not something he heard around for a long time. The war stopped the tourism but he knew she couldn’t be a tourist. The more he looked, the more he realised just how much pain she was in. The deep scars were plain to him, that hint of pink shining through her ebony skin, emphasisng the recency.
Once she started she just couldn’t stop. The story came bursting out, everything that had happened over the past few months. It didn’t matter anymore, keeping all of her secrets. What did it matter? The muggles had been hurt just as much as they had, they’d lost just as much yet they were still sheltered from the real truth.
She told him about her parents first. Her beautiful mother killed for her own parentage. How could they have said she stole her magic? That was almost like saying that owls stole their feathers. She recalled the warrant for her arrest and stories of the trials which made their way through to the papers. They set an example of her, sent her to Azkaban for life. She died 3 days later, they claimed that it was due to the guilt built up inside her but they all knew the truth. She was murdered for being born to muggles.
Her father on the other hand had been murdered in cold blood. They hunted him down, tracked him down from country to country, following every move, just waiting for him to make a mistake. His mistake was hunting for food. Some snatchers caught him and he resisted, so they killed him for trying to protect him in a world full of evil.
The tears flowed quicker as he passed her another drink. She looked at it wondering whether it was a good idea. She knew she shouldn’t get drink but she needed one more just to push the pain away. Her thoughts flew to all those months ago when she had first met with the healer, ‘Two glasses are fine, any more could be harmful’. She pondered for a moment wondering for a moment whether she should have a second before pushing it away. She brushed the tears from her eyes. The bar keeper was sitting closer now, on her side of the bar. He’d pulled up a chair next to her and looked at her attentively, worried if she’d collapse from the grief at any moment.
‘So how did you get here?’ he asked wanting to know what had happened to her next. She was damaged, the poor girl. Listening to her grief he realised that she was younger than he expected. Her clothes and her gaunt face could have belonged to a 40 year old yet they belonged to her. If he looked close enough, he could see the beauty behind the pain.
Then her story unraveled once more. She told him of the war, the rise and fall of evil. His eyes narrowed in disbelief as he wondered if it was possible she was telling the truth. He couldn’t help but believe her though as the story continued flowing. She told him of the big War, the war she hadn’t been there for. All the loss, all the destruction, each part was painstakingly explained by her to this stranger.
Fred. She tried to explain the weight of her grief yet when she came to his name her throat caught. Her lover, her best friend, gone in a matter of seconds. Amidst anguished sobs she told him about how she may have been able to help if she’d have been there. She would regret that for every second of every day. If only she could have been there instead of having gone into hiding.
When she found out, she wished more than anything she’d been there just so she could have died alongside him. Death would have been a welcome release from the pain she felt. She ignored the deaf stab in her stomach as she continued. George was the one who told her, the day after the War ended. He’d been laying there, her Fred, on the cold hard floor. She wished she could be by his side but she couldn’t face it. She couldn’t face her Fred being surrounded. It was only ever her and him against the world.
So she ran instead, as far as she could think of. She had used their emergency portkey that they had stashed away at the old home of potterwatch, just in case they were discovered. It had sent her to the Middle East, Cape Town in South Africa, and she’d been running ever since. She had taken the long route, travelling through South Africa to Namibia by bus. In Namibia she looked for a job to be able to fit in with the people. She needed to hide from those people.
She had stayed there for almost 2 months before they were onto her trail, so she started running once again, hiking through the depths of Angola, through the Democratic Republic of Congo to Tanzania. The hike had been tough, grit had got into every single pore of her body yet not once did anyone stop to help her.
Tanzania was by no means her final stop; she just kept running as far and as fast as she could, leaving decoys in every town she visited. She knew other people were watching out for her, telling her every time they arrived. She couldn’t believe she had managed to evade them for that long, she couldn’t let her past catch up with her.
Travelling through Kenya was the final straw, the dehydration and exhaustion finally catching up with her. She told him how she had almost crawled to the nearest place she saw: the bar.
Although he didn’t completely understand, he couldn’t help but empathise with her. Her ordeal sounded terrifying yet there was something about her that made him believe her story.
He stood up, making his way back around the bar, leaving Angelina once again in complete darkness. When he returned, he had some bread and cheese laid out on a plate. She looked up at him, with eyes red and puffy from the fresh surge of tears, appreciative of the thought. She was so hungry; anything was a welcome release from the pangs. She took the bread hungrily, tearing off each bit slowly, savoring every mouthful.
Once she had finished she turned to get up, ready to continue on her journey round Africa. She barely had a month left before she had to settle down properly. The thought filled her with dread.
He didn’t want her to go so soon, not when this mysterious woman had just filled his head with tales of woe and fear.
She got up, her cloak falling away from her body.
He gasped as she turned towards him.
‘You’re pregnant?’ he asked questioningly.
‘What’s your name?’ she said softly, ignoring his question.
As he turned back towards his bar, she pulled a long thin stick from her pocket.
‘Obliviate.’ She whispered turning on her heel.
Just like that, she’d managed to escape once more. He would be none the wiser she had been there and none the wiser to the War that had ravaged both of worlds. She covered her tracks and as much as she hated having to hurt people, she couldn’t afford for them to catch up with her.
If they caught up with her she would have to go back. She would have to go back and admit to herself that Fred, her darling Fred, would not be coming back. She would have to admit that she was alone in this world and that her baby was going to be fatherless in this world and no matter what George, Molly or even Katie said it was always going to be the same.
She would just keep running.
This is my house cup entry for this year. I had so much fun writing it!
Thank you to both AtheneGoodstrength and Debra20 for looking at this and really helping to change it from my rambling to a cohesive piece!