Chapter 1 : As the Wind Blows
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Even your room doesn’t seem comforting anymore, riddled with memories you’d rather forget. Someone had come in while you were away at school and boarded up the windows. The gold and red curtains had been replaced with black ones. All the chocolate frog cards you had been collecting for seven years had vanished. Whoever it was had come in and thrown away any semblance of childhood in that room, except for your posters on the walls. You smirk, thankful for the permanent sticking charms you cast on them. Their ends are frayed and torn, though, as if someone had used a great deal of effort to try and remove them.
Your grey eyes travel to your desk. Miraculously, it’s untouched. The letters from your friends still lie on its surface. One from Peter, five from Remus and fifteen from James. You pick up the topmost one, indulging in a small smile when you see a stamp that bears the image of a palm tree. It’s from James; you pull out the parchment from within.
Aloha from Hawaii, Sirius! the postcard reads. Mate, this place makes England look like an ice box! There are oceans and beaches and tropical forests everywhere! I wish you could have come with us, it’s too bad that your parents wouldn’t send you. Can’t wait to see you at Hogwarts! - James
Your eyes close for a brief moment and pictures flash across your mind. Sunny beaches with sparkling white sand beyond what the eye can see. The sea is deep azure, the rays of light scattering on the water’s surface like diamonds. There’s a tropical drink in your hand dripping with perspiration. It’s amber in colour and you wonder what flavour it is. Orange? No, you decide, it’s definitely mango.
A whiff of expensive cologne enters your nostrils and the image is abruptly shattered. You open your eyes again to see another figure in the doorway. A young boy, merely nine years of age, is placing a tentative hand on your doorframe. It is your brother. Regulus Black.
The instant you fix your eyes on him, a sick feeling enters your stomach. Standing before you are all the hopes, expectations and success that your family used to see in you, all personified in this young boy. His very presence reminds you of all you’ve failed to achieve and all the disappointing looks you’ve seen on people’s faces. Your first thought is hatred. You hate this boy, for his gaze is an unspoken taunt. He is all that is needed for your self-confidence to begin digging its own grave.
Then you look into his eyes. You see his innocence, and all the hatred you feel inside instantly disappears. You cannot hate him. It’s impossible. He’s your younger brother, still uninfluenced by the rest of your family. Still free to change. Still free to become his own person. Not for long, but there is still time.
You ask him what he wants, making sure that your trademark scowl is set in place. You wouldn’t want him to get comfortable in this room. You wouldn’t want him to think you were getting soft.
He hesitates before opening his mouth. You feel impatience rising in the pit of your stomach, bubbling and about to explode, like every potions experiment you’ve ever done. You want to shake the words out of him.
Finally he says what’s on his mind, and his words leave you speechless. It’s now your turn to gape, like the goldfish you watched your cousin Bellatrix practice the Unforgivable curses on.
Your brother just told you that he wants to leave. He wants to leave this prison right now. You watch his dark eyes turn brighter as he explains his method of escape. He tells you the right spell to remove the wooden planks from your window. He says he invented it himself. You feel a surge of pride. He tells you how to tie a rope from bed sheets. He tells you that the perfect time to escape is tonight, when the family is going out to attend a ball at Cygnus Black’s mansion. He asks you, his eyes radiant with hope, whether you will join him.
You hate to shoot him down, but being on the run is no life for a boy like your brother. It’s no place for a boy growing up in riches with a personal house elf to tend to his every need. It’s no place for a boy with presents from every relative and acquaintance flooding in for every special occasion. It’s no place for a boy who has the latest broom resting by his bedside before it even hits the shops. No, running away is impossible for a boy with everything except freedom.
So you shake your head sadly and watch the glimmer of hope fade from his eyes. Your stomach lurches with guilt as you see him leave, his form bent as if he is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He shuts the door behind him and you stand frozen for a second.
A memory swims to the surface of your mind. It is several years old. You were ten then and still adored by the rest of your family. The weight on your heart felt lighter. You were in the ballroom, playing wizarding chess with Regulus. A tinkling sound fills the air, like the wind chimes swinging in the wind. It is laughter. You watch your brother’s eyes fill with mirth.
I beat you again Siri, he says, banging his hand on the board in triumph. You smile, not having the heart to tell him that you lost on purpose. It was worth the look of utmost joy that now lights up his face. You cannot help but join him in his joy, although your barks of laughter ruin his melodious sound.
Then, suddenly, you find yourself back in the present. Your heart is beating wildly against your chest as you begin to move quickly. What your brother doesn’t know is that you have been planning to run away for a while now. Your brother is seemingly unaware of the outside world, trapped in here like an animal on display; you, on the other hand, have plenty of experience with it. You know where to go. James’ parents have let you spend entire summers at their house before. James is your best friend. James is almost...your brother.
You also have enough money to survive. Just two days ago, your uncle Alphard sent you a heavy bag of Galleons that you concealed in the linings of your curtains. It came with a note that said Be Free. You had smiled at the time, but now the knowledge of the money weighs heavily on your mind. Uncle Alphard was willing to give up his heritage and position for you to be free. He is in danger of being thrown out of the family because of you. This is no time for second thoughts.
Yet when the time comes, when the night has fallen like an inkwell spilling its murky contents across the sky, you find yourself in a dilemma. You’ve already blasted your window open. You’ve already made a rope of blankets. Yet you sit on your window ledge on the brink of familiarity. Out in the distance is a sense of unknown possibility. Back in your room is an accustomed albeit unpleasant life. You can picture your brother looking so hopeful at the thought of tasting freedom. You can picture his grief and anger as a result of the fact that you left without him.
Your brother is in the room across from yours, breathing deeply in his bed. A question sears through your mind. Should you wake him up, or will you go on alone, leaving him trapped in a life you no longer want? You hesitate. If you leave him behind, you are betraying and letting down the only person you feel the need to prove yourself to. If you take him with you, you have already signed your death sentence. Your embrace of freedom will be short if you carry this extra baggage. One child of the Black family, especially one not favoured by a majority of the family, can easily fade into oblivion. To have two children running away, one of whom is the golden child of the family? There’s not a chance in the world of escaping consequences for that.
Yet you find that you don’t want to leave your brother. He will have to face the horrors in this house alone. What kind of brother does that make you, to force that upon him?
At last you make your choice. You turn around, drop your head and walk toward a horizon you cannot see. After that, you do not look back anymore. You know that if you do, you will weaken. You will hear his voice in the cold night, begging for you to be there for him. But you can’t. You would be unable to leave when the morning came. You would be trapped here for eternity.
Siri. Don’t leave me.
His cries will haunt you as long as the wind blows.
Welcome to my latest story! It's a bit more angsty than something I would normally come up with, but I had a massive amount of fun writing it! This piece was for the Khaled Hosseini Quote Challenge by the ever so wonderful Nadia! Also, a special shoutout to Amanda (academica) for beta'ing this and moulding this into the story it is today :) The quote "At last...weaken" is from And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. It's an amazing book that you should totally check out. Feel free to tell me your thoughts and opinions on the story!
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