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A Place Not Far From Here by Chemical_Pixie
Chapter 15 : The Witch's Trial
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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The stars twinkled above me as a gentle wind blew across my face in waves. I was suspended in darkness, perhaps standing on a patch of the silkiest grass or lying on a bed made of the fluffiest feathers. A calm curiosity spread throughout my body as I stared ahead.

Murmurs came from somewhere behind the stars, whose foreign constellations seemed to be constantly shifting. Slowly, I reached towards the stars as they shone brighter. The tips of my fingers brushed against soft fabric, and I knew then that I was not gazing at stars. I was underneath a dark veil, which was blocking my view of the whitest light I had ever seen. Only little tears in the fabric, which mimicked stars, allowed me the tiniest of glimpses into the world beyond.

The murmurs grew louder as I ran a finger along the veil. People were definitely in the white light. Could they see me? Or was this veil like the Invisibility Cloak? Was I standing or lying down or sitting? I couldn’t tell.

What would happen if I lifted the fabric? What was beyond?

A crack of light appeared near my extended hand: an opening. The breeze intensified, as if encouraging me to part my shroud of fabric.

Just as I was about to open the veil, I felt a pull from somewhere behind my navel. No. I shouldn’t shed my cover. For now, I was to remain hidden from the light. Clearer voices reverberated from within my bones, echoing in my ears. I recognized a few, and they sounded panicked. Scared. Tearful.

I wanted no such things, for they had been so painful. There was no pain here. Only the enticing breeze and twinkling light from beyond.

“Amelia.”

Yes, that was my name.

“Amelia.”

There was a pang in my chest, a deep ache that wasn’t the pain I remembered. It was of a great sadness. A fathomless longing. I couldn’t leave them now. I had to go back to them. I had to go back for me. I still had things to do.

As soon as I thought this, the holes in my veil began to shrink, causing the lights to become smaller and smaller at such a rate that I felt like I was falling backwards. A dark shroud wrapped around everything that I knew.

In the darkness, the voices from within me, the voices who drew me away from the light, came across me in different decibels and snippets.

“She’s stabilized, for now. We stopped the curse from spreading...”

“Tell us again, James, what happened...”

“Was she hallucinating about the Forbidden Forest, Hopkins? Or remembering?”

“I need to see my best friend NOW!”

“How did she gain access to such Dark material?”

“The Aurors are here. They want to speak with you, Minerva...”

“Amelia, sweetheart, we love you so, so much...”

“Thank Merlin she didn’t use her wand or mutter any incantation...”

The dark shroud around me lifted, and slowly, I had the strength to open my eyes.

Dim light filled my vision. I blinked rapidly, trying to get my gaze back into focus. A sour taste coated my tongue, and my throat recoiled in protestation when I tried to swallow. I let out a soft moan as I tried to adjust my posture. My joints flared in pain when I moved.

“W-water,” I croaked.

“Amelia! Oh, Amelia, thank God you’re awake.” Aunt Susan suddenly appeared, hovering over me. She lowered a goblet of water to my parched lips. “Hannah! Hannah, she’s awake!”

In moments, Hannah Longbottom, Head Nurse, came to my bedside. Immediately she began taking my vitals.

“Heart rate’s at a good pace,” she muttered. “Blood pressure still a little low, but we’ll get there. Breathing at mostly full capacity… let’s see your bandage.”

“Bandage?” I mumbled as she gingerly lifted my left arm. White linen was wrapped around my entire left hand and went up past my sleeve. Memories of my blistering burns flooded back to me.

“Still clean. Healing nicely, too,” Hannah said, giving me a small smile. “You gave us quite a scare, dear.”

“What happened?” I asked quietly.

Hannah and Aunt Susan glanced at each other, frowning. “You nearly died,” Aunt Susan replied as she sat in the chair next to me. Her eyes swam with tears as she clasped onto my good hand. “You were cursed… your left arm is burned, and you… you… “

“You started to experience liver and kidney failure, heart palpitations, and an incredibly high fever,” Hannah finished as she walked over to a cabinet filled with potions. “Symptoms similar to blood poisoning.”

“Blimey,” I breathed, blinking towards the ceiling. Torches kept the Hospital Wing dimly lit. There was no sunlight, so it must have been dark outside. I wondered what time it was. What day it was. The events before I fell unconscious were still foggy inside my mind. “Did I have blood poisoning?”

“No,” Hannah answered grimly. “Bacteria didn’t cause your ailments. Dark magic did.” She handed me a goblet. “For your pain,” she told me, and I slowly drank the bitter liquid. “You’ll start to feel sleepy soon. You’ll need your rest for the morning. I suspect that Professor McGonagall and a couple of Aurors would like to hear your account.”

My stomach turned uncomfortably. I opened my mouth to reply.

“Amelia, what were you thinking?” interjected Aunt Susan tearfully. “Why did you think writing those Runes on your hand was a good idea?”

I turned my head towards her and stared for a moment. I remembered being in Ancient Runes, sitting next to James. Oh, I had been so angrily with him! I had been so determined to solve the mystery of the Runes on Hogsmeade station’s wall by myself. The Runes had such enticing energy, I just had to write them on my skin.

Knowledge enlightens skin.

I shuddered. “I-I dunno,” I said thickly. “I… I just thought that maybe… maybe I could figure out what it meant.”

“Oh, you thought that, did you?” fumed Aunt Susan, standing up from my bedside. Hannah put a steadying hand on her best friend’s shoulder.

“Y-yeah,” I yawned. My eyes grew heavy. “I think I was a little off in my translation, though…”

“A little off in your translation?” muttered my aunt as she shook her head in disbelief. “Hannah, am I hearing this girl correctly?”

“Let Amelia rest, Susan. She’s only just regained consciousness. She’ll have plenty of time to come to understand the extremities of her actions.”

Great. I wonder what that will entail? I thought as I drifted back to sleep. In my dreams, neither my dark shroud nor my veil made an appearance as I crawled my way through a forest.

The following morning, Hannah allowed me some bone broth. From my organ failure, I had a very strict diet. “No potatoes, spinach, cheese, salty foods, and acidic fruits. Limit your legumes and dairy intake,” she said as I sipped the broth carefully. My stomach wasn’t rumbling in hunger, so I was fine with my restrictions at present, but I knew later on this would cause me much grief.

She and Aunt Susan prepared me for my upcoming visit: Hannah changed my bandage (only the blisters where the Runes had been remained, but my skin was still a shiny red), and Aunt Susan ran a brush through my greasy hair and plaited it. Professor McGonagall, my Head of House, and two Aurors were going to meet with me. I longed to see James and Victoria and Eddie and Helen and even some of my other classmates. I wondered if they knew that I was awake now after three days, but I dared not ask.

Finally, it was the moment of truth. Professors McGonagall and Ritter appeared with an Auror I didn’t recognize and, to my horror, Harry Potter. This was not how I imaged meeting my boyfriend’s father.

“Good morning, Miss Fortescue,” Professor McGonagall said as the four of them came to my hospital bed. I wished that the bed would swallow me whole, that I could disappear from their line of sight. I avoided Harry Potter’s gaze.

Hannah placed four chairs around the bed as Aunt Susan sat right beside me. As my guardian, she had the right to be here, since I was underage.

“Thanks, Hannah,” Ritter said as she went into her office. His dark eyes flashed back to me, and he gave me a small smile. “Good to see you so alert, Amelia.”

“I’m Auror Hyacinth Barrow,” the new Auror said. She shook my good hand. “I’m glad that we can finally meet.”

There was no more avoiding it. I turned my attention to the remaining wizard. “I’m Harry Potter,” he said kindly as he, too, shook my hand. “Let’s begin, shall we?” Auror Barrow got out her quill and some parchment. “First of all, we are relieved that you are alive and are able to speak with us today.”

“Thanks,” I said quietly, flitting my gaze away from him.

“We have some questions for you, and it would help immensely if you answer them honestly and cooperatively. Don’t think that the truth will get you into trouble. And I know that you’re still recovering, but it’s better if we can get this done in one go. Can you do that for us?”

“Yes.”

“Good. We would like for you to tell us what happened, in your own words,” Harry said. Everyone, including me, held their breath. What was there to say? What did I actually know for certain, and what was speculation?

Taking a deep breath, I started from the moment I saw the Runes on the wall to the moments right after I left Ancient Runes class. As I told my account, the memories of what happened after I wrote the Runes on my hand came flashing back with an austere pang. The pain, the confusion, the panic. I kept James’ presence throughout all of my story vague.

“…And I think it was Professor Hopkins who conjured a stretcher for me before I passed out,” I finished. I cleared the phlegm out of my throat, and Aunt Susan handed me water.

“Thank you, Miss Fortescue,” Professor McGonagall said. I glanced around at the witches and wizards, whose expressions held a grim seriousness. My stomach twisted uncomfortably.

Harry leaned back in his chair, stroking his chin. “Your teachers and some Aurors went through the things you left behind in class that day. Tell us more about the book from where you got the Runes.”

I swallowed. “It was a gift from my mother,” I answered and looked down at my lap. I didn’t want to bring up my mother. If she was indeed connected to the murders at Hogsmeade station, I feared what would happen if I mentioned my doubts to anyone. Would she find out that it was I who ratted her out and then seek revenge? If she was already capable of murder… James and I had agreed that we wouldn’t say anything until we knew for certain, but now it seemed like I was stuck in a corner.

“Rita? When did she give it to you?” Aunt Susan asked suddenly, tensing in her seat.

“When she left. It was a departing gift,” I said. I shifted in the hospital bed to alleviate the growing pain in my shoulder.

“From the last time she saw you in November?” Professor McGonagall asked. She sternly peered through her glasses at me.

“No,” I replied slowly, wondering where this was headed. “When she first left me at Aunt Susan’s when I was seven.” The adults exchanged stunned looks, and Auror Barrow wrote that tidbit with extra gusto. “What?”

Professor Ritter crossed his arms, gazing curiously back at me. “Amelia, that book is full of Dark magic.”

Shivers traveled down my spine and to my toes. I shook my head. “No… it’s just a book of little known Runes. What could possibly be Dark about that?”

“You don’t know?” interjected Auror Barrow, raising her eyebrows.

“No…”

“Can I tell her, sir?” she asked Harry. He nodded without taking his eyes off me.

“Tell me what? What’s going on?”

Auror Barrow rested the quill and parchment in her lap. “I’m on a team of Aurors who were investigating the Runes from the murders. The Runes contained in your book are ancient ones, ones that have been banned throughout Europe for centuries: Blood Runes.”

Aunt Susan grasped my hand as my mouth dropped. Auror Barrow took my astonishment as an invitation to continue.

“It was over four hundred years ago that the last case of Blood Runes was reported in Europe, so it took awhile for my team to research them. In fact, your book led us to exactly what we’re dealing with. The Blood Runes have Old Norse origins.” Her blue eyes flashed. “Blood Runes are particularly powerful and addictive Runes, with the ability to grant the recipient immense magic or immense pain, especially if they are written using the recipient’s blood. Ancient texts indicate that the potency of Blood Runes increases when wands and incantations are used, which you didn’t do and is probably the reason why you’re alive.”

I nodded to show my agreement and comprehension. I had only used a quill and some ink on my skin. What if the tip of my quill had broken my skin, and blood had mixed with the Runes?

“Amelia,” Harry began quietly, “did your mother teach you these Runes?”

Biting my lip, I glanced over at Aunt Susan, who looked at me expectantly. “Kind of,” I said. “She mostly taught me Proto-Germanic ones, the ones that are commonly used in Great Britain, but there were some of these Blood Runes in the mix.”

“I see,” Harry said grimly. “Did you have any idea these Runes are Dark magic?”

“No.”

“Were you aware of the effects of these Runes?”

“No.”

“Why did you write them on your hand?”

I sighed, glancing around the adults. My energy was draining, and I was beginning to break into a nervous sweat from the intense questioning and from the new developments about what had happened. “Look, I’m not entirely sure why I wrote them on my hand,” I began. “I was so caught up with trying to translate them, that it just… kind of happened.”

“Can you elaborate?” Professor McGonagall, ever the teacher to press for further details, asked.

“I’ll try… Okay. When I first saw the Runes, you know, at the station, I felt a pull coming from them, like they wanted me to come closer, to touch upon their magic. When I was translating them after I found my mother’s book, I felt that pull again… except it wasn’t as strong as before. When I realized that two of the Runes weren’t in the same family as the… the Blood Runes, I discarded them and only wrote out the Blood Runes… and they… they became alive. There was a breath to them, a movement I couldn’t quite place… and because I thought they meant ‘Knowledge enlightens skin,' I figured… well, I felt compelled to put them on my skin… to see…” I stared off into the distance, lost in thought.

“To see what, Amelia?” Harry prompted, causing me to jump in my place.

My fingers played with the end of my blanket as I said, “To see if I could get some insight into these Runes, Runes that I translated from my mum’s book. To see if I could draw a connection between her and… the murders.”

Professors McGonagall and Ritter looked at each other. Auror Barrow scribbled away at her notes as Aunt Susan put her hand to her forehead. Only Harry continued to stare steadfastly at me.

“And why do you think your mother has a connection with the murders?” Harry finally asked.

This was it: the moment that I had truly been dreading.

Sighing, I replied, “It was the Rune that I hadn’t translated. I’m sure you saw it in my notes.” Harry nodded; his gazed intensified. “That Rune… well, it means a great deal to my mum. It’s why she left me all those years ago with Aunt Susan. It’s what she’s dedicated her life to.”

“Which is?”

I met his eyes, matching his intensity. This moment was essential to how I would proceed.

“Gellert Grindelwald.”

The Dark wizard’s name resonated into the space around us, enveloping us into a tense silence. Professor Ritter leaned towards me with a questioning look; Auror Barrow paused her writing. I dared not elaborate. I dared not bring up the Hallows—not in front of such a big audience.

And deep down, I didn’t want to share that I knew about them because I wanted to continue to research them, to continue to discover the extent of their power and allure over my mother, and I knew that I would have been stopped had I said anything about them to my teachers, my aunt, and the Aurors.

Harry tilted his head to the side, studying me. After another moment, he said, “Has your mother ever mentioned Grindelwald?”

I shook my head. “No… but last year, she gave me his symbol, that Rune… And I figured it out from there.” With your son’s help, I added silently. I could see the question forming on Harry’s lips, so I beat him to the punch. “I learned of Grindelwald’s anti-Muggle sentiments and how he used to attack and kill them. Then, over the summer, I read about attacks against Muggles in The Prophet. My mum hinted that her work would be negatively received by newspapers, and even by teachers,” I added, casting a look over at Professors McGonagall and Ritter, whose frowns deepened. “She also said that this was a family matter, that my ancestors were affiliated with Grindelwald’s symbol, that they were a part of The Cause…”

That seemed to have done the trick, letting them think that my sole knowledge of this Rune was associated with Grindelwald and his hatred of Muggles. I saw my answer mull over in the minds of the adults, and I sensed they got as much satisfaction as they could with my information.

“What ‘Cause’ is this?” Harry asked, running a hand through his hair. I thought of James then, and I gripped harder onto my blanket.

“Not sure. I assume it has something to do with Grindelwald and his ideology. My mum wasn’t very specific,” I answered.

Harry gave a small smile. “Thank you, Amelia, for your cooperation. You’ve shed some valuable insight. Anything else to add, Minerva? Ti?” He gestured towards my professors.

“Well, under the present circumstances, I think it’s safe to say that there was no malicious intent with your mother’s book or with your… accidental implementation of Dark magic,” began Professor Ritter, “So at this time, no disciplinary actions will be taken.”

Aunt Susan gave a loud sigh of relief. I raised my eyebrows. I hadn’t really thought about getting myself into trouble.

“That being said,” continued Professor McGonagall, “the Ministry has confiscated your book, whose subject matter is banned from this school. I assume the Ministry will take no disciplinary measures, either.” She glanced sharply at Harry, who shook his head.

“No, of course not,” he said. I found that my sense of relief did not match my aunt’s. The adults stood up, and Harry turned his attention back to me. “Amelia, if you do come across any new information or remember something else, please contact Auror Barrow.”

Auror Barrow nodded down kindly at me, extending her hand in farewell. “Yes. My team will work with you. What you’ve given us today is, as Auror Potter said, very valuable indeed.”

I didn’t know whether to say ‘Thank you’ or ‘You’re welcome,’ so I gave a small smile. The adults made their way towards the door as Hannah appeared by my bedside to check up on me. Aunt Susan was going to a meeting to discuss with Professor Ritter how I was going to keep up with my schoolwork while I was in the Hospital Wing.

“Rest! You need rest!” Hannah muttered as she placed a goblet in my hand. I didn’t even ask what it was as I drank.

As the adults were leaving, a familiar voice reached my ears. I craned my neck towards the door, blanching at my stiff muscles.

“Dad! Hey Dad! Did you talk to her? Is Amelia okay? She’s not in trouble, is she? Because if she is, then I am, too. What’s going to happen to her? What’s going on?” James appeared in the doorway, blocking his father’s path. He glanced past him and saw me staring back at him.

I was rendered speechless and tried to get out of bed. A sharp pain in my abdomen stopped me as my left hand throbbed from the sudden movement.

Harry waved the others on as he looked at James, whose face held a look of deep concern as he saw me wince in agony. From the distance, they appeared to be the same height, but I wondered if that were really the case. Harry placed a hand on his son’s shoulders, diverting James’ attention back to him. “C’mon,” he told him, nodding his head in my direction, “I need a quick word with both of you.”


--


My fingers itch to grab onto my wand as I step into the dark pub, but I suppress the urge to do so. I cannot come across as hostile. And it’s probably better if I can refrain from using magic for as long as possible.

Straightening my spine, I close the door to the pub behind me and face the small room before me.

Blue flames sputter in the fireplace, giving the pub an unyielding glow. Most of the patrons sit at the wooden tables, but there are a few at the bar, whose shelves are filled with exquisite, unlabeled bottles. A few candles hover in the space around, mixing with the blue light. The candles allow me to see the intricate patterns carved on the walls. A few portraits hang stoically around the room, and their occupants are all present tonight.

“Welcome, Lia,” a voice greets me to my left. The bar goes quiet as a couple dozen pairs of eyes flicker my way. The witch who has greeted me, Anouk, beckons me towards her with a wrinkled hand. “Come take a seat.”

I take the seat at the head of the table. Lowering my hood, I glance around. Everyone at the table, everyone in the entire pub, are witches. There are no men here. My heart sinks a little bit at the prospect of no James.

“Good evening,” I say, intrigued at the scene before me. Anouk gives me a toothy smile.

“Hello, Lia. I’m Faye. What are we drinking tonight?” the bartender asks. She has bright orange hair and a mole at the side of her nose. And she knows my name.

“Double Firewhiskey on the rocks,” I say. A murmur of approval spreads throughout the table as I turn my attention back to Anouk.

“It’s so good to see you tonight,” she begins as she twirls a gray, curly lock with a long and gnarled finger. “Damaris and I were wondering if you’d come.”

The witch across from her blows a long line of smoke from her mouth. In the firelight, her dark eyes match the color of her skin. Damaris nods in agreement. “I knew you’d be here eventually,” she muses in a husky voice.

“I got caught up. So sorry I’m late,” I say. “I had to walk through part of Muggle London.”

“Say no more,” snorts a witch at the other end of the table. “Sinead’s the name.”

I re-introduce myself as Lia, which sparks a round of introduction by everyone else at the table. The other witches in the bar are half listening to my table’s conversation. I am easily the youngest person here, with Faye the bartender being the second, and she has at least eight years on me.

“Your drink.” Faye places a crystal glass in front of me. As I go to pay, she says, “No, no. Your first drink is on the house.”

“Thanks,” I murmur.

Anouk raises her glass. “To Lia.”

“To Lia.” The other witches clink their glasses and drink. I take a sip, hiding my wince at the burning alcohol sliding down my esophagus.

“I think it’s time to begin,” Damaris says. The bar goes quiet, and I sit up straighter in my chair. There’s a buzz of magic in the air as the witches seat themselves in one, big circle. Even Faye joins. Damaris stands to address everyone. “Welcome to another meeting at the Devil’s Mark. Tonight we have a potential new sister joining us.”

Another welcoming murmur erupts in the pub. I take another sip of my firewhiskey, keeping my gaze on Damaris.

“Let’s have our historian bring her up to speed, shall we?” Damaris gestures towards Anouk, who places her hand over her heart as she walks into the center of the circle. Silence falls over the women, and the fire flares to its normal orange state.

With eyes closed, Anouk extends her hand from her heart, and bursts of flame extend from the hearth and swirl into the air. As I glance around, I realize that this is a normal experience, since everyone remains calm and has a look of expectant excitement on her face.

“Witch.”

The flames shape themselves in the curly tendrils around Anouk and circle her. Their warmth opens the pores on my face, and I shed my cloak to keep cooler.

“An accusation that has brought despair and death upon thousands of people,” Anouk begins. “But only a few are worthy to bear the name… Muggles can be ignorant creatures, but they are also vicious, spreading their hate against magic throughout all of Europe! For centuries, magical people were greeted with suspicion and contempt despite being embedded in communities for as long as humans can remember…”

A murmur of agreement travels around the circle. There is a magnetic pull towards the center, where Anouk stands in her frayed cloak, surrounded by swirling flames.

“Witch hunts and trials caught witches and Muggles alike. Torment and torture were their fates. What started in southern and central Europe plagued the shores of Britain, too. How could Muggle Europe rid its plight of witches, who are in league with their Devil and bring much suffering to the good moral people of the land? Why, write about it of course! And spread Muggle lies across borders and have them fester in courts and religion and encourage generations of Muggles to commit murderous acts against wizardfolk! And thus, the insidious Muggle publication, Malleus Maleficarum, was born in the 1480’s. Our sisters in Germany suffered first at its words, but our founding mother, Verena Selwyn, of the Devil’s Mark answered their cry and created this establishment, a sanctuary for witches, a place where they didn’t have to hide their power from Muggles or even from their wizard husbands.”

Anouk pauses as shivers run down my spine. Is this group of witches connected to NeoGrindelwalds? Their sentiment towards Muggles suggests that they are sympathetic towards The Cause at the very least. I lean forward in my chair, eager to learn more. Of course, I learned much of this in History of Magic, but this group is a living piece from all the pages of parchment I’ve read through over the years.

“The magical community has its protections, with spells and charms to remain hidden or unharmed by torture. But not all witches were so lucky. And there were some admittedly good Muggle women and children and even men lost during these dark times.”

Someone on the other side of the circle blows her nose. The flames twist themselves into painful looking knots as Anouk continues.

“The guilty were slaughtered: tortured by evil Muggle contraptions and burned at the stake. How were these witches found guilty? They bore the Devil’s Mark! And here we are, centuries later, proudly bearing our Devil’s Marks, witches of Britain, sorceresses of ancient magic!”

A round of applause and cheering erupts around the circle, and I join in. Faye and another witch smile approvingly at me. The tendrils of flame shrink, which dims the room. Anouk turns towards me.

“Tonight, we have a witch amongst us. May the accused stand trial before me!”

The two women on either side of me grab my arms and hoist me up. My heart races as I’m brought to the center of the circle. They push me to my knees, and I look up at Anouk, who stands before me with an unreadable face. My wand hasn’t been confiscated, but a small voice in my mind tells me that it is unwise to use it yet.

“State your name, witch!” Anouk exclaims, pointing a gnarled finger at me.

“Lia,” I say confidently.

“She lies!” hisses someone from the circle. “I know who she is: Amelia Fortescue! She’s been in the papers recently.”

Anouk peers down at me. “Is this true?”

I hold her gaze. “Yes--though I do go by Lia, so I’m telling the truth.” The same accuser harrumphs before my interrogator continues.

“Was your grandmother the witch Elspeth Bones, a disgraced sister from the Devil’s Mark?”

My mind reels in my family history. “That was my grandmother’s maiden name, before she married the wizard Florean Fortescue. As for being a disgraced member from the Devil’s Mark, I do not know.”

Anouk laughs. “She left when she married the Muggle sympathizer. And is your mother our sister, the witch Rita Fortescue?”

My mother’s name causes my blood to boil. I swallow, keeping a neutral look on my face as I answer, “Yes, she is my mother.”

Anouk smiles and resumes. “Lia Fortescue, have you ever performed maleficarum, or harmful magic?”

There’s an excited silence as the witches wait for me to answer. I think of the book of Blood Runes my mother had given me as a child. What had her inscription said? To my girl and the journey ahead… “There is no good magic nor bad magic, only magic,” I reply steadily, quoting the last part of my mother’s message to me, her guiding words of wisdom.

Anouk’s smile widens, revealing her large teeth. “And have you a Devil’s Mark? The court shall search you if you do not come clean!”

A Devil’s Mark? What on earth does that mean? I certainly have made no deal with any devil, though I’ve probably done deeds which are just as bad… My time to answer is running out. Before Anouk can call for a search, I hold out my left hand.

“I admit to having a Devil’s Mark!” I begin breathlessly. “There are burn scars on my hand--faint, but they’re there, created by Runes that only the most powerful witches can use.”

Anouk takes my hand and runs her fingers over the patch of skin that is only slightly rougher and off color from the rest of my hand. She grasps my wrist and helps me to my feet.

“The Mark is there! How does the court find the accused?” she proclaims, tightening her grip onto my.

“Guilty! Witch! She’s a witch!” chant the women around me.

“The court finds Lia Fortescue guilty of witchcraft!” shouts Anouk. The two witches from earlier appear at my side. I break away from Anouk, sliding my wand down my sleeve and gripping it into my right palm. I don’t have time to fully brandish it out before I am pushed against a wooden pole--a stake. Wood appears at my feet, covering the stone floor.

“Burn her! Burn her!” the women around me shriek. Ropes magically appear around my feet and my wrists.

Anouk stands before me, eyes glinting. The circle begins to move, the women are completing unified movements, all chanting sinisterly.

“Burn her! Burn her!”

“Spawn of darkness!”

“Devil’s bride!”

Witch!

Anouk waves her arms, and the hovering tendrils of flame shoot towards the pile of wood beneath my feet, which immediately starts on fire.





---




A/N: Anything you recognize belongs to JKR!

Oh my plot! This is a BIG chapter! :)

Just some notes on this chapter:

At the beginning, when Amelia is "stargazing", she is on the brink of death. If she had parted the veil, she would have died, but she is spared in time. Also, this chapter brings up some dark themes with Blood Runes and then the backstory of The Devil's Mark. While these concepts have some historical roots, they serve my story as fiction! Also, Amelia's style of narration has really developed. In the beginning of the story, she's direct (though she doesn't explain everything, since she assumes that you know what she's talking about--which you didn't at the time, but it should be clearer now if you do reread the beginning chapters), but she has this clipped way of sharing her POV. Now, Amelia is much more comfortable sharing layers of detail of what's going on--though she does still brush over some things--some of it she assumes the audience knows (which you don't--yet!) or she is purposefully keeping vague (for reasons known only to her--but you might be able to piece together her reasons if you read closely enough). And before I forget--Hannah Longbottom IS the healer at Hogwarts, but in the present day, she is on maternity leave, which means that she can better oversee The Leaky Cauldron, which she still owns. This point should be brought up within the next couple of chapters, but I wanted to address it now!

Edit: Enjoy 26 June, 2017! 20 years of Harry Potter! :) 

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a review!

[Edit: This chapter was previously titled "The Devil's Mark." All content has remained the same.]


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