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Chapter 3 : Dying
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Michigan Institute for Magic
I stared up, absently, at the plain, low dark ceiling with my thoughts going a mile a minute. My finger nervously scratched at my arm even though the nearly faded small scar hadn’t itched in months. Months. It had only been months since Kraven filled me up with that mess of his, but my body had begun to ache for it again as if the last trip had only been yesterday.
“You’re such an idiot,” I muttered, forcefully yanking down the sleeve of my dark red sweater.
Yes, I was an idiot. To think I had gotten myself into a relationship with that stupid Muggle-born just because my friend figured I needed to start dating, to get my mind off of things and my nose out of our textbooks. Never again would I let her talk me into anything that trivial.
The light above flicked on and I sat up, wincing as it blinded me for a moment. “Damn, Julie, give a little warning next time.”
My friend, Julie, strolled inside, pulling out the rubber band that held her dirty blonde hair up.
“Oh, calm down, gorgeous,” she said, pushing my feet aside and placing herself at the edge of my bed. “What are you doing stuck up in here?”
“I’m just tired,” I lied, moving so that my back pressed against the headboard of my bed.
Julie’s face was full of skepticism, but she didn’t press my lie. “Okay then, but you should go down and grab a bite to eat before they clear the place.”
I looked away from her, placing my attention instead on the one small window in our room, watching as the snow billowed around outside. Just staring at the falling flakes caused a dark chill to creep up under my skin. The irritating feeling struck me each time around break; sitting in that cabin with Christopher giving me strange looks wasn’t my idea of “fun.”
“I’m not hungry,” I muttered.
The weight of the bed shifted; my sight of the window was soon blocked by Julie who tapped her foot impatiently down on the soft carpet.
“Bull,” she said, taking hold of my wrist. “At the rate you eat, you’re never ‘not’ hungry. Let’s go.”
“I haven’t even finished packing,” I explained, allowing Julie to pull me off the bed anyway.
“Well, you’ll just have to pack after lunch. Now come on.”
I was able to slide into my old shoes before Julie led me out of our room and into the warm hallway. Other beaming, chatty girls bypassed us, seemingly oblivious to the dreadful weather outside.
“Looks like a storm,” Julie said, glancing occasionally out at the glass windows that laced the brick walls. “Still want to have that snowball fight?”
With a small snort, I shook my head. “Yeah right, we’d freeze before grabbing a fistful of snow.”
Julie laughed, reaching down to wrap her soft hand around my own. My nerves jumped a bit at the bold move, but I ignored them for once. More girls passed us as we began to get closer to the stairs. A few looked our way, staring at our clasped hands, before whispering to each other, laughing. Both Julie and I quickly released the hold, Julie with more hesitation though.
“Come on,” she muttered, “let’s hurry and get a window seat.”
She jogged down the stairs, leaving me behind. Glancing once more back at the chuckling girls, I continued on after her. She slowed her pace as we entered left the girl’s side of the building to enter into the main Entrance room where several students were mixing around with each other for one last time. We had to squeeze past the large crowd in order to make it into the Dining Hall.
“I can’t wait to get out of here,” I said as we looked around for an empty seat.
“Same here. Hey, honey, look.”
My sights followed to where Julie pointed to see Allen off to the other side of the room. He was sitting amongst a few other guys who were joking around, but didn’t seem to actually be there. With his head leaning down, his long hair covered nearly every inch of his face, but I could still make him out. Those rough hands laced with small scars were enough proof.
“You gonna talk to him?” Julie asked.
Shaking my head, I headed for one of the smaller tables in which a group had just left. Placing myself in a chair facing the front where a handful of teachers sat at, I waited for a plate of food to appear in front of me before reaching for the fresh silverware.
“You guys should really talk,” Julie said, sitting down opposite of me.
“Don’t,” was all I said. Julie grew quiet, more quiet than usual, causing me to look up to meet those dark brown eyes of hers. “What?”
She raised an eyebrow and I rolled my eyes. “He’s your brother, Morana. I mean, have you ever asked him how he got those scars? Or why he’s lost weight? Maybe he’s sick or something; you heard how he takes those frequent trips to see the nurse.”
Turning a bit in my chair, I watched Allen. Indeed, he had lost weight since I last saw him nearly two weeks ago.
“As if the kid talks,” said a kid from the table near ours. “The creep’s a mute.”
It earned a round of laughter from the others at his table, but none from ours.
“He’s not a mute,” I snapped, slamming my fork down on the barely touched plate of food.
Julie quickly reached out for me as the smiles from the others sunk. “Don’t worry about them. Go on.”
With a frustrated sigh, I stood and made my way across the Hall, feeling Julie’s eyes glued to me with every step. Before I could reach Allen, he abruptly stood, his long legs carrying him quickly to the doors.
“Allen,” I called, quickening my pace.
Either he didn’t hear me or he didn’t care. He continued on out, pulling the hood of his blue jacket up over his head.
I rushed out of the Dining Hall, despite telling myself to drop him, to see that the main floor was nearly abandoned as everyone had gone up to finish packing. Allen had begun to head down toward the entirely too long hallway that connected to the boy’s section.
“Allen,” I said again, and he stalled.
He kept his back toward me, but turned his head slightly to show he wasn’t going anywhere. “What the hell do you want?”
The deepness of his voice still shook me as, in that moment, he sounded more like his father. “I just wanted to know if you were feeling okay.”
He gave me a half-shrug, still facing forward. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“What about the scars? What happened?”
He released a deep breath, moving so that he was resting back against the wall. Keeping his hood up, he reached to move a few strands out of his face and his eyes landed on me, the small bit of candle light bouncing off of the glass-like orbs. Unknowingly, I took a small step back, seeing Nick come out of him more and more.
“I fought a cat,” he answered.
I rolled my eyes, stuffing my hands into my pockets. “Really?”
He gave me a curt nod. “Yeah, really.”
There came that brewing anger again. “Why are you lying to me?”
“Why are you?”
I removed my hands from my pockets, moving closer to him. “What’s that suppose to mean?”
He folded his arms across his chest. “That Ryan girl sent you over here, didn’t she?”
“Her name is Julie.”
“Whatever. You only came over because your little girlfriend made you--,”
“--so don’t go on bullshitting me, acting like you really care.”
Sighing, I gave up. “Fine, screw it.”
I turned on my heel to start down toward the hall that led back to my side of the building, but felt a strong hand grip around my arm, spinning me around. I was inches away from Allen then, and could smell a strange musk emitting from him.
“Can’t take what you always give out?” he whispered, his hot breath flowing over my face.
“Let me go,” I said, attempting to keep my voice leveled.
He leaned in, gently brushing my hair away from my face. My attempt at keeping calm failed as a shiver ran through the moment his dry fingers glided over my face. “Why? We haven’t been this close in...years.”
I gave him a hard shove, causing him to hit the wall. “Piss off, Allen. I was just trying to be nice.”
His eyes narrowed and he swallowed hard. “Trying to be nice? Please, these past few years, Chris has been more like family to me than you’ve ever been.”
“Oh, of course Christopher is more like family to you,” I snapped. “You kiss his ass at every chance you get since you’re trying so hard to replace Nick and Vena.”
His wand was out and resting under my chin before I could blink. His eyes watered up and I thought, for a second, he might actually cry, but not out of sadness. No, his jaw was clenched too hard and his hand shook a bit. Those tears forming in his eyes weren’t caused by thoughts of Nick and Vena, they were brought on by rage.
“Take it back,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
Keeping my stare steady, I spoke low, “Why? It’s true. You’ve been trying to replace them since that night they died.”
“Well it’s not like I could have came to you for help.”
Disbelief struck at the coldness of his tone. “Come to me? You acted like was dead as well. If you don’t want to talk, then I won’t bother trying again.”
“Good,” he said, “wouldn’t want you to take precious time out of fucking your girlfriend for the past five years to come and check on your brother.”
I glared, reaching in my pocket for my own wand. “Stop talking about her.”
A smirk crossed his face, and he lessened the pressure from his wand against me. “You sure are protective of her.”
Allen backed away at the sound of the booming voice and we both placed our attention on the Potions instructor, Professor Stanton. He eyed us over the rim of his small glasses, a frown resting on his face.
“Lower that wand, Mr. Milton,” he ordered, to which Allen reluctantly obeyed. “Get on up to your room and finish packing before I give you detention until for the rest of your years here.”
“Yes, sir,” Allen muttered.
He tucked his wand in his pocket and gave me one last lingering stare before retreating. Professor Stanton placed his attention on me, his posture relaxing a bit.
“Nirav,” he said, removing his glasses and wiping them off on the handkerchief from his robe pocket, “I see that the relationship with you and your brother isn’t going so well.”
“No, it isn’t,” I said. “I’m sorry, Professor. That won’t happen again.”
“I wonder,” he went on, “why is it that you don’t share the same surname?”
I was caught off guard at the question as my mind was still spinning from the encounter. “Excuse me?”
“Just curiosity; the Head never reveals much personal information about you students, but this has been a concern of mine for a--,”
“He took his father’s last name,” I quickly explained, “and I kept our mother’s. Now, excuse me, Professor, but I have to pack.”
Professor Stanton replaced his glasses. “Right, of course. Have a lovely break, Miss Nirav.”
I was halfway down the hall before he could finish with his well-wishes. Ignoring the other girls, I burst inside my room, slamming the door behind me. He was insufferable, impossible. Screw trying to make peace with him, trying to actually be his sister.
Running a hand through my dark hair, I glanced over at the wall clock: ten more minutes before the bus would come. Quickly, I threw open my trunk on my bed, snatching up clothes and stuffing them inside.
“You’re in a mood.”
Pausing, I rested my hand on the edges of the trunk. “Not now, Kraven.”
Kraven came in anyway, placing his large, hard hands on my shoulders. “I have some more at my house if you want to, well, experiment again. Being locked up in a room is easier for you as we both know how well you take it.”
I shrugged him off, turning to face him. “Get out.”
He smiled, showing off his perfectly straight, white teeth. “My parents are away again, Italy this time I believe. We’ll have the house to ourselves. I’ll just send those wretched house-elves away, maybe even brew a larger batch while I’m at it. My brother said it works well with that Muggle drug Ecstasy, I think. It even it gets a person exited, if you know what I mean.”
“No.” I went to move, but he grasped my wrist, forcing me to stay. “Let go.”
“Listen, Morana,” he said, lowering his head closer to speak directly in my ear, “there are rumors circulating the school about you. Hanging around Julie with her little issue is not helping those rumors. Come with me for break, people will know for sure that you lie in the right bed.”
Removing my wrist from his hold, I pressed my hands against his chest, shoving him back. He tripped over Julie’s trunk, falling down onto her bed.
“Shut up about her,” I snapped, pulling my wand from out my pocket; the boiling anger from the confrontation with Allen was coming to a rise. “Who gives a shit about who she decides to fool around with?”
“Morana, she’s--,” he tried, standing up.
I aimed the wand higher, causing him to stop his approach toward me. “Say one more word about her, and I’ll use the Cruciatus Curse until you piss blood.”
Anger replaced his cool expression. “Fine, stay with the freak. Now I know why you were so hesitant to be with me.”
With that, Kraven started out but froze in the doorway. I lowered my wand as he glanced back at me before leaving. Julie replaced his spot, nervously fiddling around with her sweater.
“I’m just about packed,” I told her, pushing my wand back into my pocket.
She grabbed her own trunk, watching silently as I finished up. After slipping on our coats, we started out in silence. My eyes remained straight ahead, but Julie kept hers on me. Just in time, the bus appeared. Students piled in, Julie soon following, but I waited. Allen was nowhere around. He was usually first on to get a seat all to himself.
“Forget him,” I said under my breath.
Clutching my trunk, I dragged it up to the bus. Julie had saved me a seat near the back, and I slid my trunk up on the rack above next to hers.
“Morana?” Julie asked.
She remained quiet for a few seconds, waiting for the other students to go on up the stairs that resided near us. Once the bus started off and the students erupted in loud conversation, Julie carried on.
“I was wondering if it would be cool to stay at your place for Christmas?”
I looked on toward her, a bit surprised at her question. “Umm--,”
“I’m sorry about throwing this on you,” she quickly explained, “but I meant to ask sooner. I mean, my aunt won’t notice if I don’t show up, she never does, so I thought it’d be cool to hang out some more.”
“No, it’s all right,” I muttered “You can come over, I don’t mind at all.”
Her eyes landed on me, and a small smile came to her face. “Thanks.”
Giving her a small nod, I stared blankly out in front of me. When I took a peek around the whole bus, Allen wasn’t anywhere. Not on the lower deck, and probably not on the upper three; he never enjoyed riding on the top anyway.
Sighing, I turned to converse with Julie. Thinking any more about Allen after that incident wouldn’t do me any better. I wanted to start the break off well, not worried about the asshole Kraven or…or Allen.
Five days came and went, and Allen still wasn’t at the cabin. I had spent the time talking about school with Julie and watching her chess pieces destroy one another, but kept my eyes on the door whenever possible. Allen’s shoes never graced the matt near the door; not at night before I went to bed, and not in the morning when I got up early to fix breakfast. There wasn’t a single hint of him in the cabin, and it worried me.
Christmas Eve crept on by as I lied in my bed, eyes glued to the small window across the room watching as the snow fall let up. Christmas Eve. The tree was up (all Julie’s doing), and still no Allen. Christopher was scarce as well. If anything, Allen went scampering to him yet again.
A soft knock hit my door, but I didn’t turn over.
“Come in,” I said. The door creaked open, and the weight on the bed soon shifted. “What’s wrong, Julie?”
“Nothing,” she muttered.
I turned around, barely seeing her due to the darkness of the room. “Something’s wrong.”
She sighed, crossing her legs on the bed. “I just wanted to thank you.”
“For sticking up for me to Kraven.”
Pushing the covers off a bit, I sat up. “You heard?”
“Yeah, I did. Thanks.”
I shrugged. “No big deal, you are my friend. My only friend, to be honest.”
I managed to see her smile brightly in the dark. “I am so glad I didn’t decide to go to Salem’s Institute.”
I chuckled a bit. “Why? Didn’t you want to be in an actual castle that had more than two floors? Or eat something that resembled real food?”
“That does sound awesome, but I’m more prone to hanging out with you peasants.”
“Why, thank you. If only all of you rich kids were this nice. Maybe you should teach Kraven a bit of a lesson.”
Julie snorted. “Yeah, right. His parents should have shipped him off to Durmstrang when he wanted to go.”
“True. Speaking of, it’s your fault for convincing me to date him.”
“He was kind of good-looking before the attitude came out. Admit it though, you would have loved to actually lose your virginity to him if he wasn’t such a jerk.”
I reached behind me, throwing my pillow at her which she easily caught. She chuckled, holding it high as if to hit me with it.
“Don’t start,” I playfully warned.
“Whatever,” Julie said with a laugh. “We both know how this would end.”
The quiet laughter from both of us died down and she stared at me. Hard. An uncomfortable shiver came over my body as the realization of our closeness dawned on me.
“To be completely serious,” Julie started, “I’m really happy to have met you.”
“Same here,” I murmured.
Her attention turned to the clock in my room before going back to me. “Oh. Happy birthday.”
“It’s not my birthday yet,” I said with a bit of amusement.
“Technically it is. You’re legal...and can finally get your Apparation license so I don’t have to pull you along.”
I laughed. “Whatever. Don’t act like you don’t enjoy tugging me along.”
“You’re kind of right then; I do enjoy it.”
Julie’s smile softened. With her hand raised, her fingers came forward, gently touching the side of my face. I flinched a bit, inwardly scolding myself by the involuntary action, as she tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. Noticing my flinch, she backed off.
“Julie,” I started, my eyesight traveling down to staring at my lap, “I’m sorry. Tha-that...it wasn’t because of you.”
“No,” she said firmly, “it’s because of those damn bruises on your back and legs.”
My head shot up, a slight nerve struck. “Those are old.”
Her eyes narrowed. “That doesn’t matter. You still have them, and you hardly let anyone touch you because of it. You flinch if someone bumps you in the hall. I’m surprised Kraven got as close as he did.”
“No, Morana,” she interrupted, snatching up a tight hold of my hand. “You’re uncomfortable with everyone, and it has to stop. You have to let me help you get over this.”
I opened my mouth, but not a word would come. Her hold on my hand loosened, but she didn’t release it. Instead, with her free hand, she gently raised it, successfully pushing aside more strands of long hair out of my face. My body trembled and shook, but it didn’t stop her.
Julie inched forward, the closeness sending a strange chill through my body as I could almost feel her breath against my face.
“You have to let me help you,” she whispered.
“Julie, I--,” I tried.
A door slammed loudly downstairs, causing us both to split apart jump up. The only one to do that would be Allen.
Forgetting our incident, I shoved the covers aside and hopped off the bed, hurrying out the room. Julie was soon behind me, rushing down the stairs. There were wet shoeprints all on the wood floor, leading in practically a circle, ending at the door. Allen; it had to be him.
An odd feeling took over me, sort of like an ache in my gut, and I ran out the front. Not bothering with the freezing cold wind that sliced at my arms, lifting the bottom up of both my tank-top and my thin pajama bottoms, I peered around.
Julie was standing out, barefoot, in the snow next to me in seconds. “What the hell are we doing?”
“Allen,” I explained.
I spotted his shoeprints heading off toward the woods. That ache in my gut increased, part of it telling me to go back inside, grab my wand at least, and the other telling me to find my brother. That part won over, making me trudge through the three feet of snow after the shoeprints. Julie stayed close behind me the entire time, quietly saying how we should go back. Despite her resistance, she continued to stick with me. Good, I didn’t think I could travel out in the dark woods all by myself to see God-knows-what.
We reached a clearing in the woods in about a minute. There, I spotted Allen. He stood with his back near a tree, dull light from the sky shining down on him. Even with his hood up, I sought out nearly frozen tear stains on his face.
“Allen,” I said, slowly walking toward him. “What’s going on?”
“He wants you now,” he whispered. His sight traveled past me, and he forced off his hood, eyes wide. “What is she doing here?”
“Don’t bother with that,” I said, still moving toward him. “Where have you been?”
Allen groaned. “No, this’ll ruin everything.”
“No, Allen, it won’t.”
I spun around to see Julie being held by her hair with a hand clasping her mouth to keep her quiet. My feet urged me to move forward, do something, but they remained put. Those were Christopher’s grubby hands grasping Julie’s hair and keeping her mouth shut.
“This is perfect,” Christopher said. “We need more in the clan, a lot more.”
“Clan?” I asked, not letting Christopher out of my sight. “Allen, what is he talking about?”
Allen cleared his throat, obviously ready to speak, but Chris yanked back on Julie’s hair, causing a slight, muffled scream to slip out.
“There isn’t time for this,” he snapped, lowering his hand from her mouth.“We need to move on.”
“Let her go,” I shouted. “You came here for me, not her. She has nothing to do with this…with us.”
“Morana, don’t,” Julie shouted.
Christopher smirked, throwing Julie forward. I ran to meet her, but the glaring sound of bones cracking and popping caused my head to snap back up. Christopher’s shirt had ripped off, the bones in his body visibly breaking and changing shape.
“It isn’t a full moon,” Julie cried, scrambling to her feet. “What the hell is going on?”
“He’s a true wolf,” Allen said, “a true, born wolf. Not like me. Not a mutt.”
Latching down on Julie’s hand, I made my move, rushing back toward the bare, thin trees. Christopher tore at us, roaring. Before we could get out of the clearing, a sharp pain shot down my back, pushing out a powerful, throaty scream from my mouth. I was thrown forward, my body twisting so that my back landed roughly against a tree. The stinging pain made my eyes blur over, I could hardly make out Julie being snatched, kicking and screaming. A wave of nausea poured over me as the fire in my back grew. An attempt to move proved useless; my body would no longer obey my mind.
In seconds, it seemed, the screaming from Julie vanished along with the burn on my back. Still, I couldn’t move.
“Julie!” I screamed. The shout was lost to the wind, probably not heard by anyone.
A shadow soon fell over me, I could feel the tears pouring freely down my face by then. I should have listened to that other part of my gut. I should have stayed inside. Maybe then, with the two of us by our wands, we would have stood a chance.
The shadow grew closer, and I lost the ability to even beg.
“Don’t worry, my dear,” a soothing, sickening soft voice said.
The sight around me changed; I was being carried. I didn’t even feel myself in the arms of someone else, but I was certainly being carried. The wind soon left me as I found myself back in the cabin, being gently laid out on the couch in front of the dark fireplace.
The lights shining from the Christmas tree fell over me. Trying to keep my eyes open, I watched as a man knelt down, sliding my hair out of my face. His bright green eyes shone brightly, almost hypnotizing me. He was beautiful, stunning; hardly human really.
“You’re dying,” he stated calmly. “You’re already paralyzed and the amount of blood loss is frightening. I’ll probably give you…another minute or so until you bleed to death.”
“W-what--?” I tried to ask, a numbness beginning to spread from around my back to the front of my stomach.
“That Christopher,” the man continued, “I warned him. Your friend is definitely gone, my dear, but you can be saved. I want to save you, I need to save you. A power like yours can’t be wasted. Now, you’re going to drink and heal within a few weeks. It’ll be painful, there’s no denying it. However, the pain is fleeting as you are only dying on the inside. You will be reborn a more powerful, beautiful creature.”
His face had begun to darken, or my vision was just giving out. Either way, a fear crawled up inside of me. I couldn’t feel a thing; death was certainly yanking me down to a place I wasn’t ready to go to yet.
My mouth was soon invaded by something, a wrist maybe, and a warm, metallic taste dropped into my mouth. Blood, it had to be blood.
“Drink,” the man ordered gently.
He forced the wrist deeper, the blood racing out of him and down to my throat. The taste soon vanished, and my tongue worked on its own, allowing the blood to slide down into my stomach. It growled, twisting and turning. The twisting gravitated toward pain in seconds, egging me to scream. But I didn’t. No, I just drank.
A/N: Chapter image: Ladywolf at TDA
Quote: Three Days Grace (Time of Dying)
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