Chapter 1 : 1
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But I soon realized as the flurry of projectiles rained down on me. One hit my temple and split the skin, sending me into toddler hysterics. You had been a few feet away, sitting on the bench where you could overlook the playground, and had rushed over to me. Once you knelt down beside me you frantically asked if I was alright, if I was hurt anywhere but my head. Three year old me just shook my head and started to cry as I saw my red blood on your fingers.
You rushed me home and set about cleaning the wound, comforting me when you accidentally made it sting. Though you had easily healed it with magic, you put a small bandage on my temple and kissed it better. But I was an inconsolable toddler, screaming about being hit again. “I will always protect you,” you had said, wrapping me in a hug. And I believed you.
I was seven when the house had been robbed, stripped of anything of value. We had just gotten home from the grocery store and my first step inside the house felt wrong. I raced to the living room where I saw our armchairs tipped over and the glass case that held the family heirlooms you had inherited from your late grandmother those many years ago was broken and ransacked. I then ran to my room, but it had not been spared.
The bag of galleons I had hidden underneath a loose floorboard had been taken, along with several necklaces you had given me from your extensive collection. And even though I had been saving the galleons to buy you a present for your next birthday and the heart pendant you had given me had once belonged to your mother, I was distraught over the loss of my late father’s wristwatch. I had dropped to my knees in the middle of the room and begun to sob, mourning over the only thing I had owned from the man who had passed away before I was born, when a sound from behind me made me turn around in surprise.
A large man with a ski mask slowly stepped into the room, eyeing me delightedly. I had screamed and shuffled backwards, crying out for you as he came at me. His fingers barely brushed my leg when he slumped down onto the ground in front of me. I continued to scream but when I looked up I saw you, your wand outstretched and your eyes wild. When you realized that I was still crying out, you ran to me, enveloping me in an embrace. “I will always protect you,” you said, stroking my dark hair in an attempt to calm me down. And I believed you.
I was thirteen when I first woke up in a state of panic so extreme that I couldn’t breathe. It was Christmas time and I had come home from Hogwarts for the holidays, excited to see you again. I had gone to sleep, excited about the presents that would come in the morning, but also awaiting impatiently the moment you would open my present to you, hoping that you would love it. With my green and silver blanket wrapped around me I had drifted off into a world I could not bear.
The faces of all those I had loved and lost danced across my eyelids. Father. Grandmother. Grandfather. Aunt Jackie. Cousin Annabelle. And then came you, your warm eyes and loving caress, and the dream was not kind to you. A figure cloaked in darkness had reached out to you, severing the life from your body and I had yelled at myself to wake up. It turned to me, letting your corpse fall to the ground, lifeless and unmoving, and I had screamed, willing myself to wake up.
When I did I began to search for air, unsatisfied with what was filling my lungs. It had taken me minutes to realize your arms were around me, your lips murmuring comforting words into my ear, but when I did I began to relax. You soothed me and waited until I was able to breathe properly before letting me go. “I will always protect you,” you had said, wiping the tears I hadn’t known I had cried off of my face. And I believed you.
I was fifteen when three boys in the year above me surprised me on my way to the common room. I had seen them before, laughing as they talked about the state of the world in the common room, their features distorted unpleasantly by the green light the dungeons cast.
The first one grabbed me by the waist as I walked past their hiding spot and wrestled me to the ground, my screams echoing in the dark corridor. The second helped him pin me down, their hot skin scorching me as I cried out for help. The third, their ringleader, looked down at me from where he stood, laughing at the situation in front of him. He took the small camera I hadn’t noticed from around his neck and took a picture as I lay there, struggling against my attackers.
To my surprise they let me up as soon as the third boy turned away, strutting back down the corridor towards the dungeons and into the darkness without another thought. The next week I returned home from Easter to find you crying in the kitchen. I had been furious that you had left me to find my way home by myself from King’s Cross but all my anger dissolved when I heard your cries. I ran to you but you pushed me away, my heart breaking as you did so. I noticed a letter lying on the table, the parchment bearing signs that you had attempted to burn it but then rethought your decision.
I picked it up and a photograph fell off of the page. I turned it over to see my screaming face staring back at me, the hands of my attackers pining me down. I scanned the letter to see the warnings of what would happen to me should you not join him. I looked at you, crying as though all you loved in this world had been ripped away, and slowly rested my hand on your left arm.
You did nothing to stop me so I rolled up your shirt sleeve to see the moving black mark that was now etched into your skin. You suddenly reached out to cup my face, bringing my eyes up to meet yours. “I will always protect you,” you had said, slowly unrolling the sleeve to hide the hideous mark. And I believed you.
I was seventeen when Professor McGonagall announced that my entire house would be evacuated, even those of age, during the Battle of Hogwarts, because at the time no Slytherin was to be trusted. I had fought against those who herded us towards that strange room others had long believed to be a myth, until finally I broke away and ran through the halls, trying to find my way back to the fight. I had been prepared to stand for what I believed was right, no matter the consequences, even though most of those I had grown up with would not be of the same mind.
I should have known that the battle would not be held solely in the Great Hall, as the corridor I had been running through began to shake. I begun to run faster, trying to find my way back quickly, when the walls exploded. A large stone hit my leg and I felt immeasurable pain, but I just turned towards the gaping hole in the side of the building I called home and looked through to see the army of Death Eaters and their cohorts that were ready to kill me and any other person who stood in their master’s way.
The adrenaline that was rushing through my body pushed my forwards and I leaped through the hole in the wall, using my wand to conjure things like blankets of cushions that would make the fall easier. I bounced from ledge to ledge until I finally hit the ground. As I ran through the battle field, dodging spells and casting hexes of my own, I felt powerful and strong; even invincible, although that was far from the truth. As I stuck down a particularly large man with a silver mask, I turned to see a woman facing me, the way she cocked her hip and set her jaw as familiar to me as my own face.
Time stopped as identical pairs of eyes stared at each other, one set mine and the other’s yours, almost obscured by your silver mask. And then you attacked and I faltered, just enough to send me back into the closest wall. I got up and saw you advance, your gait slow but steady. As you got within a few feet of me you took of the glaring silver mask to show your face. And the eyes that were the same as mine stared back at me, but the difference was unnerving.
They were glassy and held none of the warmth I remembered of you. You were not you. But in that moment it didn’t matter, because the you that was not you raised your wand. And the you that was not you said the words. And the you that was not you hit me with that irreversible spell. You said you would always protect me, but in the end you were the one I needed protection from.
Blood spilled blood that night, for a war that was not theirs to fight. And they will not be remembered for their sacrifice, for when the known wage war it’s the unknown who die.*
A.N.: *This quote is from Jean-Paul Sartre in Le diable et le bon dieu, although the original quote goes: “When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die.” And the scene where Professor McGonagall says that Slytherin house will be evacuated first is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (don't have my book with me, so I don't know what page), during preparations for the Battle of Hogwarts.
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