Clash is an apocalyptic next gen. Non-OBHWF. It is heavily character driven. It jumps between past and future. The story is intentionally confusing at first; it makes more sense as it goes.
There is romance. It plays a big part, but I won't give spoilers.
Rated M for horror, graphic violence, mentions of rape themes (No graphic scenes), language, sexual content, substance abuse, sensitive subjects, and ambiguous relationships between family members. Please don't read if any of these bother you.
March 23, 2019: Undergoing edits.
With a hisssss the airlock on the sealed door opened and I took a shaky step inside.
It was my first of fifteen ordained visits to Her Majesty's Prison—Monster Mansion—home to the largest number of war prisoners in England following the magical catastrophe of 2031. At one point in history it'd been an all-male prison.
Now it housed the most dangerous woman in all of England.
The inside was humid. Perspiration quickly soaked the armpits of my starched, white shirt. I felt overdressed, out-of-place. Too prim and proper and academic, among the grey-eyed, washed looking men in uniforms. I didn't meet the gruff stare of the overweight man who verified my clearance status. I stayed mum as he escorted me down a long flight of stairs, followed by a dim spindly hallway. As we approached her cell, I dabbed incessantly at the sweat-sheen forming at my forehead, trying to push back my springy, forever-messy curls.
I could almost feel the infamous 'magic' rising in the air.
More than an academic fixation of mine, more than papers and debates…this woman was the subject of dreams.
The relic of a dying age.
The fabled last witch.
In the flesh, behind the bars, she sat.
I took her in. Her age was impossible to tell from appearance alone (magic-folk, based on my research, aged slower than normal people) but what remained of historical records placed her at eighty-one. Her legs were crossed, hands politely folded in her lap. Her mannerisms resembled ones of a quaint grandmother.
My heart stuttered a little when she flashed me a formal—a disarmingly well-mannered—smile.
This was not at all how I had pictured England's most notorious criminal.
"Do sit down, Mr. Walker. I won't bite," she spoke, her voice deep, and so raspy it ran shivers down my spine. I sunk into my seat. We sat face to face, my hands restless as I removed pen and paper from my bag. I took a deep breath.
"Ms. Weasley, I'm going to state a series of facts that I will need you to validate—"
"Rose," she interrupted, smiling. "Call me Rose."
I blinked twice, trying to regain my composure. I opened my notebook and scribbled prefers to be called Rose.
I drew another deep breath.
"Your name is Rose Weasley," I began.
"You are the last of your kind."
"There are no more wizards or witches in the world."
"Given the choice to live the remainder of your life in prison or death, you chose death."
"You have fifteen days to live."
"When you die, there will be no more magic in this world."
She did not reply at once. I looked up to meet a pensive stare, curious yet somehow reserved in its manner.
"How much do you know about magic, Mr. Walker?" she asked.
I pressed my dry lips before reciting what I knew by heart: magic was an anomaly in the natural world, both a moral and biological abomination. Magic was a weapon, mechanized from the faulty genetics of a dangerous people. It had taken countless lives since and before the Inevitable War, destroyed entire areas of England from Camden to York, all the way north to the Scottish Highlands and—
"I did not ask for your professors' opinions on the matter, Mr. Walker. Or the textbook definition. What do you know, truly know, about magic?"
The woman studied me with a curious expression. I felt dumbfounded. "Ms. We...Rose, I suppose," I stammered. "We aren't allowed to…you see, the government doesn't—"
"But that is why you're here isn't it?"
I grew quiet.
She smiled again. "You are a historian. An Intellectual," she said observantly. "You came looking for answers, didn't you? You want to know what happened that blew the best kept secret of mankind—magic."
Had she read my mind? Could she see into my past, the years of painstaking work I had done to get here? I had no friends, girlfriend, or social life, only a sharp mind and a curiosity too insatiable to be anything but a vice. I was obsessed with the world of dragons and broomsticks and unfathomable mystery, a world to which I did not and would not ever belong. But this did not stop me from late night pouring over texts ranging from the likes of Merlin to Rowena Ravenclaw, from Albus Dumbledore to the legendary Harry Potter himself.
It was I, perhaps, that had discovered a startling gap in mankind's collection of knowledge. A crack in the glass wall that could have been easily overlooked if you weren't out looking for it.
The Inevitable War—which took place between the magical and muggle realms fifty years ago—had no recorded cause.
Tell me everything that happened, I said. The war—no, no the war was the end. I want to know everything that led to it. I want to know every instance, accident, revelation that caused the precise calculations of the downward spiral. I want to know your life, Ms. Weasley. I want to know you. All of you. Each and every broken piece of history that I can preserve is a step towards building a better future, and— no, that's bullshit. That's what I told the guys at the security clearance. The truth is that I have no noble reason for knowing. The truth is that the archives over at the Manchestor Magical Library are dreadfully empty. So I'll keep your secrets, Ms. Weasley. I just want to know.
"How did you survive?"
"Survive? My— why, because I'm a parasite," she said with a laugh, humorless. "Isn't that what they teach you in school, about us? Well no matter, I really don't mind. But know this—surviving is a habit I've perfected only after years of practice. I have escaped death sentences before. If I liked, I could escape this cell, I could kill each and every one of the guards, I could kill you, and I would leave without too much trouble."
"But where would you go?" I asked, undaunted.
"That's the problem, isn't it?" I could see the outline of every crack on her darkened face, hear the fatigue in her voice. "Freedom has a price, Mr. Walker. Nothing is without consequence. It took me a lifetime to understand that."
What was Magic?
Witchcraft and wizardry was founded, presumably, on the principles of science. Magic was only energy. Energy that wizards manipulate to perform various functions.
Please let him live.
The inherent truth is that energy cannot be created or destroyed.
He's all she had left.
Needless to say—there are some things outside the realm of possibility. The creation of something out of nothing. But reviving someone on the brink of death?
God. Merlin. Please. Both of you. Either of you. Anyone. Is anyone out there?
The two of them drenched by rain, she sat holding his little body. Slowing pulse. Dilating pupils. He was going under again, sickly little Hugo, only this time it was heartbreakingly worse. His sweet baby face, crumpled from the severe pain, had started to relax. The hand that had so tightly gripped hers, so many times, had begun to loosen—no. Hot tears sprang to her eyes.
At its core though, magic isn't just a collection of spells. It's not a compilation of potion ingredients. It's not the stream of light that comes out the end of a First Year's shaky wand. It is the essence of consciousness, an algorithm, an amplified mixture of willpower and highly concentrated neural energy. Words are a superfluous attribution, uttered to increase focus. In its simplest form, magic is an idea. And a very good idea, mind you.
He had a sickness called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He had been a ticking clock from the day he had been born. Now he would die right in front of her. Except, he couldn't—not like this! There had to be something, anything! Vital seconds of his lifespan trickled away as she wracked her brain for answers. Concentrating as hard as she could. Ideas whirred through her mind faster than tears slipped through her eyes. Tentatively gripping her wand, she began muttering incantations—nonsense, made-up syllables. With her head bent, her focus consisted on one thing only: the preservation of his life.
She had no idea what would happen.
Just as every algorithm has a heuristic, there are techniques in magic that are able to bypass… certain technicalities. Still, you can't get nothing without something. There is always a price.
A bright vortex of light emerged from under her, consuming both her and Hugo's limp body. She gripped him as hard as she could to avoid separation. Wind and flame swirled around them at an impossible pace. The force, spell, whatever the hell you want to call it, was out of control. It felt as though a surge of lightning had shot through her body. She screamed in pain. She screamed in anger.
Thunder boomed in response as the destructive and reparative force burned through her insides. Then for a split second, while it felt like her entire body would be ripped apart, everything stopped. Time stood still. The searing pain vanished instantaneously. Vision blurred, noises deafened, any semblance of reality disappeared for a few brief moments, until she fell limp on Hugo's body. She couldn't move her legs.
In that moment it didn't matter. Both of them were breathing heavily.
In the circular chambers of the Wizengamot, blinding lights struck the fifteen-year old girl's face. An emotionless, booming voice pronounced her name.
"Rose Weasley—How do you plead to the charges made against you?"
Her fingertips dug into the sides of her wheelchair; she swallowed her flinch, leaning forward.
"And what would those be?" she asked, bravely.
Amidst the crowd of indistinguishable faces, Minister Kingsley, longtime friend of her parents, gave her an impassive stare.
"The use of untested dark magic."
Foreboding murmurs echoed through the chambers. Kingsley slammed his hammer, enforcing silence. "We don't have all day, Ms. Weasley; How do you plead?"
She could feel her heart plunge. There weren't words to describe the hopelessness she felt. The vestibule, hollow expanse of space, allowed for the entire scenario to play out in her head.
From the confines of her wheelchair, she would try to lift herself up.
If I could just explain —Answer the question, Ms. Weasley! How do you plead? How should I plead when you've already made your decision!? I'm going to Azkaban. You brought your dead brother back to life. He should have died! I saved him. Have you considered the magnitude of your actions, Ms. Weasley? Everything your parents fought, died, to protect —do you have any idea of precisely the damage you have caused in trying to play God? I saved him. The ripples of your actions? The Pandora's box you have opened for every other wizard in the world? I saved him. I don't give a damn.
There was silence in the room as people who had been watching her collectively let their gaze swivel toward the minister, awaiting his verdict.
All except the man on the left.
The man on the left was different. He was dressed a bit too fashionably for the grim occasion, navy plaid suit, salon-perfect hair, and wore the glowering expression of someone who was rarely pleased. The man on the left was wrongfully ambitious for his current position as the Head Auror, and had an angular face marked with a single scar running over the left side to the pointed chin. The man on the left was not interested in what Kingsley had to say—he had never liked the sodding prick anyway. He was far too busy observing the fifteen-year-old girl, her tight jawline, the firmness of her brow, the occasional expression of fear that would flash in her eyes and falter the façade she held in the face of her verdict. She possessed an agile frame, nothing special but workable, and though her legs were limp and weak, with the right amount of training, he could see them become muscular. She was neither big nor small nor plain nor conventionally pretty (which was excellent, because prettiness would annoy him) but fine featured and lean. Except for that startlingly bright hair, she was a blank canvas. There was potential. He could morph her easily.
With a peculiar grace, the Head Auror stood up and cleared his throat.
"My dear Minister, allow me to offer a suggestion on behalf of the girl."
Kingsley considered the Head with disdainful deliberation. "Very well, Vincent."
"Grant me custody."
The Minister blinked twice, quite unsure what he had heard was correct. Never would he have considered the Head of Law Enforcement the type of man with paternal instinct or a fondness of children. Rather the opposite. Rose, meanwhile, had not yet recovered from the jaw-dropping statement.
"Precisely what do you intend to do with custody?"
"I meant professional custody, of course. Allow me to make Rose Weasley an asset to the Ministry. She is young, weak, injured—but I believe there is potential in her. She can reside under my surveillance where we may study the effects of dark magic on her. In the meantime, I shall train her personally."
"Need I remind you, Vincent," the Minister stated, his nostrils flaring, "that being awarded the rank of Auror is a privilege —which not to mention requires complete schooling and outstanding OWLS, neither of which Ms. Weasley possesses—"
"Yet it cannot be denied she has displayed prodigious talent in witchcraft."
The Minister sputtered. "Why—this is an utterly ridiculous proposition …I shall not hear another word of this nonsense! It's settled! Rose Weasley is going to answer for her mistakes and nothing else!"
Just when Rose thought the nonsense had ended, the Head intervened again, on her behalf:
"My Dear Minister, you may feel comfortable with sentencing an under-aged orphan to Azkaban, but I assure you that many others in this room, much like myself, do not. Perhaps we shall put it to the jury to decide."
Rose learned something about irony that day, as each hand slowly rose to commit her fate to a lifetime of servitude, the Minister's nostrils flared, and the scary man in the suit eyed her like a champion prize horse (or perhaps a useless piece of shit. They had only just met. She was not so sure what a hawk-like glare meant yet). Within minutes she had gone from contemplating Azkaban to being adopted.
The Head lived by himself and two house elves—German, polar opposites by the names of Una and Gus who were always bickering and flinging strongly worded insults at each other. The Head enjoyed this clash of personalities in the same way one enjoys a glass of lemonade of a hot summer day. The house itself was nothing short of extravagant, with its larger than life décor and spiraling staircase, and a grand dining room with enough seating for an army yet held only a distraught girl and fashionably dressed man that particular evening.
Una and Gus had, as always, prepared a contrasting meal of Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine, though the Head wasn't as much interested in food as he was in his new ward. As he chewed on his tonkatsu slowly, he observed her from across the table—the hollow, darkened eyes, the hunched over demeanor, the mangled urchin I'm-not-hungry look.
So resolute. So… adolescent.
He knew, of course, that he would crush her defiant spirit in due time, mold and shape it into submission. He had crushed the hardest and strongest of men, most being his political rivals. He had crushed many beings throughout his life, on his upward ascension to his future reign as the Minister of Magic, and a silly little child was nothing different.
He had provided Rose Weasley with food. Which meant she had to eat. She would never grow if she didn't eat, and if she starved to death, he would be prosecuted on charges of abuse…which would damage his prospective chances of becoming the Minister.
"Not hungry?" he asked irritatedly.
She said nothing. He tapped the tip of his glass impatiently, waiting. Was this defiance or was she simply not much of a talker? Not that he minded the latter; he had no interest in indulging teenage girl chatter about shoes and clothes and boys and whatnot. The last thing he wanted with his new ward was a relationship not wrought in fear and mutual resentment.
The kitchen rattled with bickering between Una and Gus. There was a clattering of pans followed by violent threats made in German.
"Gus! Put down the knife or I deduct from your pay!" the Head called.
"Meister bezahlt mich nicht!" Master doesn't pay me!
This was followed by the loud pattering of feet and shrill sobbing.
"Well now look what you've done, Gus," the Head tsked, pouring himself a glass of wine. "Go make a healing potion and apologize to Una. This is not how families behave!"
Family. That word must've triggered something because the girl's head shot up.
"I have aunts, uncles," she said, her voice soft, her brow furrowed in frustration. "And no one's come to get me. Why?"
"Who knows, maybe they just don't like you. Maybe no one's ever liked you. Did you think of that?"
She stared at him, wide-eyed, confounded.
Inwardly, the Head reassessed his remark wondering if perhaps he had been insensitive. Damn this child raising business. He put down his wine glass and pulled out a cigar.
"Look, Weasley," he said as he lit it. "I know it's hard to believe, but no one really likes orphans. If you ever get the chance to have kids, you'll understand. In fact you've probably been a burden on everyone since your parents died, especially your Aunt…Germy?"
He puffed, coughing as he accidentally inhaled too deeply. "Right, right. Well, life is a cruel, tough place and it's only when you're in trouble you realize how alone you are. Not to mention you've broken rules that would scare the hell out of most people. They probably think you're some reincarnation of Herpo or le Fay or, Merlin forbid, our most recent Tommy. "
At this point there was so much smoke in the room, Gus had reentered to open windows. Una was holed up in the bathrooms crying her eyes out. Rose had not made a single movement. The Head paused only for a moment of deliberation before continuing.
"However, I'm not most people, Weasley, so this misunderstood urchin thing won't work with me. I can see you don't feel a sliver of remorse for your actions, nor do I particularly care. But you're ambitious and I like that. You will train and study under me, and, further on, serve as my right hand and secret vessel of power. I will make you stronger than you could ever imagine. In turn you will help me achieve my subversive goals until I become the Minister of Magic. Is that understood?"
He had intended —or maybe just hoped — that this information would be a shock for her. That it would be outrageous, exciting, and scandalous. Or maybe there would be outrage for the depravity of his request and self-serving agenda. But there was none of that either.
There was nothing.
The look in her eyes was hollow.
Irritated that he wasn't making a suitably frightening first impression, the Head continued: "But that doesn't mean you can feel free to make yourself at home. I'm not your father and I have no interest in pretending to be Ron Weasley—You will address me as Sir or the Head or nothing at all. Because you are my ward, you will live by my rules and restrictions, which means no boys, no drinking, no communication with boys, no junk food, no thoughts about boys, and no magic without permission. Also, there will be no talking to reporters and boys of any kind and curfew is when I say it is."
"Will I get to see him?"
The Head stared at her for a moment, in dismay.
"My brother. If I do this for you, will I get to see him?"
"If that's…all you want, I don't see why not."
"That's all I want."