Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the characters and places from Harry Potter. The only character that is mine is Amanda.


Prologue: Symptoms

The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage exhibits loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) in which the hostage has been placed.


Let me begin by telling you my name
So you may know it well and I in times to come,
If I can escape the fatal day, will be your host,
Your sworn friend, though my home is far from here.
The Odyssey (214, Fagels translation)



Before you even begin to read this, I'm going to tell you that you'll never believe it. I still don't believe it, and it's already been a few years. When did Order of the Phoenix come out? It happened around then.

I haven't told anyone, you know. Not even my parents. They won't believe the truth. I still don't believe the truth. What everyone thinks – my friends, my relatives, my teachers – is that I was kidnapped by some psychopath who brought me far away and held me captive and a spy saved me, and got me back home using top-secret high-tech stuff to literally teleport me back to school.

In a way, it's true. But the real story is far more outrageous than that. And if I brought it up, I'd be laughed at, or at worst carted off to the loony bin or something; things like that simply don't happen. But it happened to me.

I'm no hero. I sometimes feel like Rip Van Winkle – ever hear that story? Guy falls asleep and wakes up twenty years later, goes back to his home town and finds out there's been a revolution and everything's different now and everyone he knows is dead. He never did anything. The story just kind of happened to him and he was bewildered the whole way through. I feel like that sometimes.

I wear a necklace with a silver serpent on it, you know. It's curled around an empty, tiny vial. I've never known what to put in it, but it is more precious to me than anything. Sometimes I'll take it off and sit on my bed and hold it up to the light, admire it in the harsh electric brightness of my room. If my parents come in at such a time, and ask me what's wrong I'll tell them that I miss my friend – my friend who saved me. And they'll smile and ask, "Your spy?"

And I'll smile back, worriedly, and answer, "My spy."

No, I know what you're thinking. I'm not, and never was, in love with "my spy." Well, no, that's untrue. I was in love with him before I met him. Yes, that's possible.

You've guessed by now, of course. But that isn't so hard for you, reader, considering that there's only one spy that we knew of when Order of the Phoenix came out. I'm a living, breathing Mary Sue. Don't worry, when I reached that realization, I was horrified, too. Then I was slightly irritated – I mean, where was my magic, beautiful hair, witty intelligence (that didn't get tied up in knots when I tried to use it, thank you), funky eyes, love life, etcetera, etcetera? I'm no hero. I'm just – me, mostly bewildered and scared, because I'm a coward.

But it happened. It's real. And for all that I was terrified, there was always a black shadow at my side. In the beginning it was scary and it seemed harsh, but as time went by I began to appreciate its quiet strength and startling softness.

So listen to my story. Decide for yourself whether you want to believe it or not, for I know that no matter how many times I tell you it's true, you'll never believe it unless you come to that conclusion yourself. But give me a chance before you scoff and turn away.

For now, just listen.

"Host" in Greek and Latin means both "guest" and "host"… it's a sort of reciprocal relationship. A wanderer is taken in by strangers and taken care of. Should the strangers ever be in the wanderer's homeland, the wanderer will take them in, in return. Fagels translated this word to be "host," which works just fine for the Odyssey but for the sake of this story, let it also mean "Ally."