I have extreme luck. Not good luck or bad luck, per se, but extreme. When it's running on the good side, it goes very good. When it's going bad, it goes straight to hell.
I think you get some idea of what kind of luck I have when I tell you that my first memory is of being beaten. Before that, there's just… well, nothing. Sometimes I get flashes, but they're always half remembered little thinks like a song you forgot years ago.
Anyway, I might as well start with my first memory, because that's where this whole adventure begins.
When I say "beating", I'm not exaggerating. I don't mean the kind of swatting an unruly child gets for introducing the walls to the miracle of permanent markers. I mean full on, rib cracking, "who'd you just call a sissy" beating. The memory doesn't start until the beating has already gone on for quite a while, if the amount of pain I remember is any indication.
The fellow doing the hitting was easily twice my height and a dozen times my girth. His face was an interesting shade of puce, but he didn't seem to be able to speak much above the level of snarled obscenities. I eventually found out that he was my Uncle, but that's a story for another time. Whatever I'd done, it apparently warranted a savage beating from an oddly colored sea mammal. I don't recall what it was, of course, seeing as I've already said that this is my first memory.
Anyway, he hit me a couple more times, breaking stuff and causing me no small amount of discomfort. Having no other memories, I couldn't do much more than take it. The fact that my jaw was cracked in two places really didn't make negotiation an option, after all.
All I could think about was that I wanted, desperately, to be somewhere far away from there. Somewhere safe. That's about the time I discovered Apparition.
Let me tell you, Apparition is a singularly unpleasant form of travel. You have to greatly compress your body, much like an expansion charm in reverse, and then send it through a tiny little magical portal to somewhere else. That's one reason why messing it up leads to splinching; you don't manage to get a part small enough and it gets severed by the portal. However, I digress.
Apparition isn't fun in the best of times, but when you do it in the physical shape I was in, you're just asking for trouble. On the plus side, my command of magic is so instinctual that I didn't splinch so much as a fingernail. On the down side, the agony on my already battered body meant I was unconscious within two seconds of arriving wherever I went.
All I can remember about the place is that I somehow knew it was "safe" and that if no one found me while I was unconscious, the odds were quite good that I'd die from my injuries. See? That's the kind of luck I have.
When I finally woke up, I knew I'd been moved. The glimpse I'd had of the "safe" place was a bare room with worn wooden floors. When I woke up, I was face down on silk sheets. I was also missing the lion's share of the pain I'd been in, too.
In my mind's eye, I leapt out of the bed, dove for cover and prepared to defend myself against possible assailants. In reality, I managed to rise two inches off the silk before collapsing in pain. Every one of my limbs, my ribs, my jaw, and even my pelvis flared with the kind of pins and needles sensation you get after a foot falls asleep. There was also a good deal of pain that I'd associate with stretching stiff muscles.
My mind's eye decided that I'd be resting right where I was until someone came to get me or that sharp tingling went away. I wasn't going to be doing anything acrobatic for quite a while. Knowing I couldn't move, much less defend myself, made the wait for someone to come see me take forever. In reality, it couldn't have been more than a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity.
By the time the door finally creaked open, I had resigned myself to a quick death at someone's hands. Maybe it was the manatee again, come back to finish off what he'd started. I'd come to the conclusion that at least the worst of my injures were healed, but that didn't mean they had good intentions. It was best to keep torture victims in good health until they tell you what you want to know, after all.
"Oh, you're awake," a soft feminine voice asked. I knew better than to try to answer, so I just grunted in response. "There are likely to be some lingering effects from all of the healing magic we had to use. You were very near death when my husband brought you here." She went about examining me for a while and then, rather gently, rolled me over giving me the first real look at where I was.
The bed I was on was huge, with a canopy above and plenty of pillows. The rest of the room, or what I could see of it, was furnished with expensive antiques and more ornamentation than you could shake a stick at. It was a perfect example of the "I'm rich, look at me" school of interior design.
"I will get you something for the stiffness, but you will have to be very careful for a while," came the voice again and I noticed her for the first time. She was tall, at least from my perspective, and blond. Her beauty was no small thing, and she looked to be in her mid twenties, though it could well have been older if she were magical. Wait, magical? "Quite a bit of your muscle tissue is brand new, and the bones have been recently mended, as well. My husband will want to speak to you tonight. Until then, please try to rest."
The closest I could come to a response was another grunt and the angel that had been tending me walked out of the room, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I want to repeat that my first memory was of the beating. Before that? Absolutely nothing. In total, that gave me about twenty minutes of lifetime experience.
Still, I seemed to know things. I knew what Apparition was, though I only recall using it that one time. I knew that magic was real, somehow, and it was what had probably been used to keep me alive. I couldn't think of any spells or specific potions, but I somehow knew, in a general sense, what could be done with that type of thing.
I could have stayed there for a week, doing nothing but discovering new things that I "knew" but had no memories for. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, I was only alone for about twenty minutes before the door cracked open and I caught a flash of platinum blond hair sneaking into the room.
"Who are you?" she asked softly. I managed to raise my head an inch or so, just enough to catch a fleeting look at the newcomer. She was young, no more than thirteen or fourteen, if I didn't miss my guess, but stunningly attractive. The woman from before was definitely her mother.
"I…" I managed, more than a little surprised at being able to talk, even though it hurt. "… don't… know."
"You don't know who you are?" she asked, her voice hesitant but sounding very nice.
"No," I managed again, wincing and gulping as my jaw ached.
"You are not here to cause trouble, are you?" she asked.
I would have laughed if I could, but instead managed another soft "no".
She was silent for a while, and my neck ached too much to look at her again. "Well, then, you had better not."
With that, she slipped out the door again, and I realized that she was sneaking around. Most likely, her mother had forbidden her to speak with me, but she'd done so. Quite brave, really.
After that, the mother came in a while later to feed me some potions which helped a lot with the soreness. Before long, I was sipping a thin broth and relaxing against a mound of pillows. I was exhausted just from getting to a sitting position and I'd taken more than a few naps during the day.
I still didn't know any names, though I'd caught a few more glimpses of the daughter. I was starting to get a very clear sense of who these people were, and they weren't dangerous. The mother was confident, with a powerful personality and enough beauty to be accustomed to having her way. The daughter was on her road to that, but the awkwardness of her teens was making it hard on her.
Rather unsurprisingly, both of them were magically very strong.
That's another thing I'd discovered after waking up. I could sense magic, even from a distance, and I could feel it in people. At the time, I didn't think it was that significant because I simply didn't know how rare of a talent it was.
It was evening when the mysterious "husband" appeared. He was handsome and tall, with piercing blue eyes and dark hair. He projected an aura even greater than that of his wife, and I could tell they were a good match. I immediately knew that if this man was not politically powerful, it was by his own choice. I got a feel for his magic, as well, and thought it rather solid, though not quite so strong as that of his wife or daughter. At the time, I had no clue how the average person "felt" to my magical senses, but my instincts were helping me out a little.
"I am glad to see you awake," he said in a warm tone of voice, though I could tell that he was guarded. "Do you know how you came to be where I found you, young man?"
I started to shake my head but immediately thought better of it. "No, sir."
"What's your name?"
"I don't know that, either, sir."
"Do you remember anything?" he asked gently.
"I remember a big fat man hitting me. Then I wanted desperately to be safe and Apparated to some room with a wooden floor and passed out. I thought I was going to die." I can assure you, the quiver in my voice was completely genuine. Talking that much still hurt.
"You know how to Apparate, then?" he asked, his eyebrows rising slightly.
"I did it once. I could do it again, if I wanted to. It was so painful, though…"
"Yes, Apparition with injuries is a dangerous prospect," he said, grimly. "You are too young to be Apparating, in any case."
"Too young?" I mumbled in response. It wasn't a thought I'd really considered. I had no clue how old I was, and it's not like you can tell from your internal monologues.
"Can't remember any of that, either? Well, you look like you're nine or ten. Maybe a really small eleven, as far as I can tell," that answered, he went back to the topic at hand. "I've got a few friends in the Ministry, and they're keeping a watch on missing person reports. As soon as your family reports you missing, we'll get you home."
I nodded stoically. I had no clue what I'd do with a family I couldn't remember. At least they might be able to tell me what I'd done to get captured by that walrus with an attitude problem.
"Fortunately for you, you Apparated to a safe house that some of my friends established during a war not too long ago. No one has been there in years, but we still keep some monitoring charms on it. When you showed up, I found you there and brought you back to tend to. The healers tell me that you've got a great deal of dark magic residue on you, which could account for your amnesia. Whoever tried to kill you might still be looking to finish the job, so you're welcome here until we find your real home," he said softly but warmly.
"I'll have the healer determine your age when she returns. If we don't find your parents by the end of the month, I wouldn't mind if you joined my oldest in her lessons. She's being home schooled this year because of some developmental issues that run in her mother's side of family. Nothing bad, just… well, hopefully you're too young to have a problem with them. Anyway, if your magic is stable enough, you might be able to take some lessons with her."
If nothing else, I was impressed at the generosity of this man that I had never met before in my life. He was opening up his home to me, a kid with no memory and dark magic about me. I resolved right then and there to never do anything to make him regret trust in me like that.
Author's Notes: But Lily is going nowhere fast, so I tried another tactic. I've got two more chapters written, and will upload them every few days. I do want to thank everyone who reviews this and my other stories… I know I haven't been responding to reviews much of late, but RL has been a problem. Anyway, thanks even if I don't say it to you directly.