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Chapter 1 : I
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Marlene McKinnon had done her upmost best to disregard the signs.
The constant targeting, which oftentimes involved awkward, intense incidents with young Death Eaters, was the first signal. She strived to ignore this; it was just a coincidence, she told herself. The majority of her classes were with Slytherin, which was the obvious explanation to the involvement with the Serpents. She managed to convince herself that it was, in fact, a simply coincidence, and that it meant nothing.
Until one morning, over Christmas break the previous year, she found herself perched upon the top of the spiral staircase which led to her family’s den. Her sister, Alexandra, and herself, were sent to their bedrooms earlier than they normally were. This peaked Marlene’s interest, and she found curiosity overriding her. Soon enough, she was peering down through the rails of the staircase at her father, who had arrived later than usual. He was bloodied up, his left eye swollen shut as it shone deep purple along with his thick, dark hair matted with red clots. Marlene, at the age of fifteen, was well aware of the situation at hand. She was neither oblivious nor in denial; she paid close attention to her surroundings, and was far more mature than the average teenager.
She knew they were coming for her.
Returning to school after holiday, Marlene did her best to blend. She avoided James—who was not particularly thrilled by this—and Sirius, along with their mischievous schemes. Her grades dropped a tad, so she was no longer top of the class. She spent the majority of her time in the library, or locked away in the fifth year girls’ dormitory, reading book after book on Defense Against the Dark Arts. Her friends were well aware of her sudden disappearance, though chose wisely to disregard her actions. They trusted her, who, in their eyes, was not oblivious to anything.
In fact, her only escape from the world she was forced to live in—one consumed by dark magic—was her one friend who lived up the road, in the small blue house at the corner of the street, with the cute garden down front, colouring the yard brightly with flowers. The white fence kept her friend’s younger brothers off the street, as well as finished the beautiful scenery her house provided. Radiant and bright, just as her friend was.
Marlene was not an oblivious person. She paid close attention to her surroundings, noticing every glance in her direction, every comment spoken toward her. She noticed that Lily was extremely guarded, though to the public eye seemed very open; that Pettigrew was up to no good, though James chose to ignore her warning comments; she realized that Sirius was quite infatuated by the lovely Mary MacDonald, though had never truly spoken to her; and that the Death Eaters were, in fact, interested in her.
She was so sure of herself, so confident that she never missed a detail, that she failed to notice the ice cold gaze of Narcissa Black. Narcissa was gifted with the art of blending in; she was capable of disappearing into the background. She, too, was well aware of her surroundings, missing very little. Therefore, she was the perfect recruit, courtesy of the Dark Lord, for discovering some way of manipulating Marlene McKinnon into joining their ranks.
And oh, how she found it. Glowing so obvious, one of the most important things to Marlene: her friend, Kiera.
My voice cut through the peaceful morning air brashly; it shattered the homely feeling that enveloped the neighborhood. Naturally, I ignored this, and continued to chase my eight year old brother around the yard. In his thin, long fingers was my favourite record—a Beatles, to be precise—covered in fingerprints. Beside him was Chris, our eleven year old brother. He cackled along with Ben, and kept the role as guard of Ben and the Beatles. I could slowly feel my last strand of patience wearing off, and I knew it was only a matter of possibly two more laps around the yard before it deteriorated entirely.
Our yard was at its most beautiful during the month of July. The flowers in the bed were at full bloom, colouring the garden in an array of bright, vibrant yellows, oranges, and purples. The bushes were all a brilliant shade of healthy green, trimmed to perfection and groomed daily. The stone pathway that led to the front door, which was a shade of light tan with glass windows covered by pastel green curtains that matched the pastel paint on the outside of the house wonderfully, was overflowing with small pebbles that shone in various different colours and large, thin circular stones that were meant to step on. Not a single weed peeked out from between the pebbles to disrupt the perfection thanks to our mother’s obsessive gardening. A light yellow, wooden fence surrounded the carefully trimmed grass of our yard, and kept the threats out and the perfection on.
The only benefit of having such a beautiful yard was that mum was adamant on keeping strictly on the stone path, and nothing but. Of course, when I was small, this was a horrific rule; I was forced to walk down the street and play on the schoolyard. However, in this case, it was my saving grace.
“Benjamin, Christopher, Kiera!” mum screeched as her blond head poked out the kitchen window, closely followed by the aroma of apple pie. “Get off my lawn this instant!”
“Bloody hell,” Chris mumbled beneath his breath. “You’d think she was some old bloke.”
I rose my eyebrow in his direction, but chose to act as though I hadn’t heard him. I took their distraction as an opportunity, and seized it easily. Bending over Ben, who was already to my shoulder in height, I snatched the record from his grasp and sprinted toward the house. I ignored their cries of outrage, and laughed gleefully.
I raced through the front door, all the way up the staircase to my small bedroom, which was just across the hall from Ben’s and to the left of Chris’s. My walls were painted a light purple—I called it powder purple, though mum insisted it was periwinkle—and were entirely covered with posters of different bands; The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zepplin particularly. If there wasn’t a poster or lyrics covering a portion of the wall, it was a picture of my friends and me. All of the photographs I had taped on the wall were moving, which I found thrilling. Marlene never told me how, only that it was a secret and to never tell a soul. I kept my word, and she continued to grace me with the captivating photos to hang on my wall. My absolute favourite was hanging on the ceiling above the head of my bed. It was of Marlene, James, Sirius, and I; the only time I ever truly met Sirius, and merely the third I spoke to James. We were all rolling around in my mother’s garden while she was off on a field trip with the boys for the day. Sirius had dirt through his hair, and he was setting a tulip on my nose as I was lying down in the grass, blinding throwing pebbles at Marlene, who was wrestling with James. We were all fourteen, which meant it was two years ago. So much time had passed, and I had yet to speak to the boys since. Marlene, however, was over regularly, especially during the summer months, when she wasn’t away at school.
The remainder of my room consisted mainly of records, clothes, and empty or old make up kits. My bed was unmade, and covered in clean clothes I threw out of my closet today in frustration. I gently placed my record back on its stand, where all of the Beatles albums were alphabetically sorted and regularly sanitized. My brothers were well aware of my rules when it came to my records: stand clear, or be cleared, as they like to word it. My only advice to them was to avoid doing so much as think about them. Normally, they obeyed that rule.
The boys chose to disregard my rule when I told mum about their adventure into the garden earlier that morning. Ben wanted to pick a Calla Lily for his crush, so Chris was on watch, and failed to notice me as I peered through the curtains over my bedroom window that faced the garden. Honestly, they should have been more careful.
Walking over to my window, I noticed that the weather took a turn for the worst in the past few moments I had been in my room. Dark storm clouds coated the sky, and heat lightning flashed, lighting up the dark sky. My gaze traveled down to the garden, and what I saw made my stomach turn: the flowers in mum’s garden were shriveled, wilted, and covered in frost.
I gasped slightly, and felt my fingers move to clutch the windowsill tightly. Instantly, my fingertips started to sting from the cold, and I retracted my hand back quickly, and looked down at the frosty wood. The sky grew even darker. My brow furrowed, and my breathing began to come in more shallow paces. Panic set in, and my head grew cloudy. What was this? What was happening?
“Kiera!” mum bellowed from down below. It sounded as though she was still in the kitchen, so I began to descend the staircase, weak-kneed. Her voice sounded slightly strained, and I felt my stomach drop considerably. My hands shook as they gripped the railing that led down the staircase. The temperature in the house dropped every bit of twenty, thirty degrees Fahrenheit, and my teeth chattered against my will.
That was when the lights went out.
Instantly, darkness consumed me. The only things I could see were the bright coloured spots that made me woozy. I heard Chris scream, and Ben wailed obnoxiously. I prayed to god, or whoever else would listen, that they were hidden well. Not a sound came from my mother, although there was a slight chuckle that was deep and husky. My grip on the railing tightened, but my feet slipped out from beneath me—whether it was from my shaking knees or that I was dizzy, I never did discover—and before I knew it, I felt my cheek making contact with the edge of a step. My body flipped over my head, and I tumbled down the remainder of the stairs, my elbow and cheek both swollen, and my forehead was bleeding.
The scent of blood overwhelmed me drastically. I dry heaved, desperate to not make any more sound than I already had. My limbs all shook, and I was entirely blinded, unable to see in the dark. Despite this, I pushed myself up from the fetal position I was in on the hardwood floor. I stumbled around the corner, feeling my way toward the corridor that led to the kitchen. I could hear voices, slight murmurs. I was unable to decipher any words, but I was capable of making out one voice: Chris.
Eager to discover what my younger brother was saying, I silently crept down the remainder of the corridor. I slid down the wall when I reached the end, and pressed my back, which was throbbing with heat, against the cool wall. I kept my breathing as calm as possible, albeit my clouded judgment and mind. I was incapable of thinking properly, and allowed that to overwhelm me.
“I will ask you one last time,” a deep, ragged voice growled as it sliced through the darkness. “Where is she?”
There were murmurs echoing the bold voice, which made it clear that there was a leader and his companions. My head began to throb as I clenched my jaw tightly, which slowed the blood flow to my head a bit.
“I haven’t a clue who you are talking about.”
His voice was slightly strained, yet the cool indifference in it was quite impressive. There I was, nearly hyperventilating and bleeding due to my own stupidity. My younger brother, however, was far more contained than I, and refused to answer the inquisitions from the intruders.
A flash, brighter than I could have imagined, lit the house. Green consumed me, and allowed spots to return to my vision. It seeped through the glass of the windows, and cascaded onto the lawn, where it reflected off the fence.
I was unaware that, just up the street, Marlene McKinnon was in a mass panic.
“Chris!” I screamed. My voice was raspy, ragged, and hysterical. I was no longer in control of my emotions. Panic overwhelmed me, and before I knew it, I was up on my feet, racing toward the kitchen. I stumbled, and slammed into the walls, which allowed picture frames to clatter to the floor, shattering. I heard men shouting commands, and I could see bright lights. Bright lights of all colours: reds, greens, blues, whites.
I felt something strike my face, and I sprawled out on the tiles of the kitchen. I struggled to push myself up, only to receive a foot in the back. I was slammed back onto the floor, and my head connected with an unhealthy crack against the white tiles, which were now undoubtedly stained with blood. My lungs burned, I heaved for breath. I needed oxygen.
“Hold her down, for Merlin’s sake!”
“Filthy little mudblood… Why would the Dark Lord want her?”
“Bloody hell, just stun her!”
“Don’t let her get away!”
The last thing I saw was red.
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