Prelude to the war

It's an uncommonly warm day in October so I take off my cardigan, slinging it over the twisted banister as I arrange the pumpkins on the porch. There are six all together... A cyclops, a vampire, a spider, a dragon, a mummy, and a zombie... all lined up in a perfect little row. I turn them so they're facing the road and look around to make sure no one is watching before pulling out my wand and lighting them with a flick of my wrist. They roar to life with green fire that licks around inside each pumpkin in an odd devilish dance that makes me smile.

I want everything to be just right for when Ethan comes home.

My son loves Halloween and I've spent the better part of my morning turning our old Victorian into the ultimate haunted house to surprise him. I step back to appraise my work with my hands on my hips. I've wrapped every beam with fake spider webs that sparkle in the light and I made cut outs of ghosts to hang in the windows so when the lights are on it will look like they're floating around our house in the darkness. I bite the corner of my lip and glance at the dementors hanging from the trees in the front yard. Of course, muggles have no idea what they are... but they look pretty freaky anyways.

"Oh, Ginny!"

I close my eyes when I hear Linda's voice and I plant a fake smile on my face before turning around to face her. Linda's my bottle blond neighbor that loves spray tans and plastic surgery as much as she claims to love Jesus. She's my friend, though...kind of... In a neighborhood full of old money and decaying homes she's really the only one that bothers to talk to me.

"This is a hazard," she jokes as she weaves her way though the foam tombstones I stuck in the grass. "Wow, Gin... You really went all out this year."

Linda was born and raised here in Virginia and she has an accent to match. Her lips are puffy and pink with lip gloss and she makes a duck face as she looks over the house.

"How do you have time to do all of this?" The wand burns against my thigh and I push it down a little further so she won't see it. "Oh! I love all those black wreaths. What'd you make those out of?"

"Twigs and spray paint," I answer and she smiles, a big pearly grin that's so white it's almost blinding.

"You're so crafty," she says, punching my shoulder. Her rings hurt and I rub out the pain with my palm. "You should start your own blog. I swear you could make a fortune just from the ads! That's how everyone's getting rich now-a-days."

I snort at the thought and she flicks some hair over her shoulder. It falls down her back in blonde curls and I stare at it for a moment as something stirs within me... Something like a memory just barely there, scratching the surface of my mind... I shake it away quickly and smile when she gives me a questioning look with her perfectly made up face. I don't see how she manages to look so put together all the time, especially being the stay at home mother of three wild children. I always feel so frumpy next to her and I only have one kid to take care of.

Linda starts messing with her hair again, her finger nails finished bright blue and shimmering with glitter. She calls it her super star manicure and I look down at my own dull nails, half bitten to the quick and as ugly as hell.

"Oh, Gin-Gin," she sighs in a sing song voice as she brushes something from my shoulder. I suspect it must be dirt of some sort and she smiles at me when I furrowed my brows. "You're always covered in dirt or paint when I see you." Her blue eyes twinkle as she looks me over and I hide my hands in my pockets.

I know she actually likes me, which makes me feel guilty for not trying to be a better friend to her.

.I think if I was in your position, I would be the saddest girl in the world.

I shake my head to rid it of that candy coated voice that haunts me from time to time. I think it's because Linda reminds me of someone. Someone who was once in my life... but I can hardly remember them now...

We both jump when a horn sounds and I turn quickly, my hand automatically going to the hidden wand in my pocket.

"Don't worry," Linda waves a manicured hand like my reaction was silly. "It's just Matilda."

"You left your toddler in the car?" I say in disbelief, looking at her large SUV. I can see the pudgy two year old bouncing around in the drivers seat, having the time of her life with her blond curls in pigtails. "Linda, that is so dangerous."

"It's fine, I cracked a window," she says as she pulls out the phone from her pocket. "It's almost time to pick up the boys. I thought we could car pool today..." she says as she starts texting, not once looking up from the screen to judge my reaction. "That way we could see them come out in their adorable costumes."

I hesitate a second. Her kids are really hyper and my Ethan is pretty laid back. I think it all gets a little over whelming for him when they're all together.

"Let's head out," she says as she pulls out her keys, not once looking up from her phone.

She starts walking off...

I guess I'm going, then.

"Just give me a second," I say as I run into the house. I grab my phone and I pause a second to look around the front hallway as I stuff it in my pocket. I used a lot of magic to make the front of the house look like a dark forest, with smoke rolling in from under the stairs and lights flickering against the tree branches like fire flies. I hid a few of Ethan's favorite toys just to give him something fun to do when he gets home and I'm sure he's going to love it.

I smile a little to myself and then lock the door behind me, grabbing my cardigan from the railing and putting it over my t-shirt.

Linda is already in the car and her daughter is secured in the back. I wave at little Matilda as I pass by her window and then I slide into the passenger seat, craning my neck to give one final look to the house to make sure it still looks good.

"Geena made the boys costume this year," Linda says and I blink away from the house to stare at her profile. "They are so adorable. You are going to love it."

"I'm sure," I say as I look out the window and think of my son... How adorable he looked in his costume this morning... I smile at the thought and only vaguely listen to Linda as she talks to me about a friend of a friend who is pregnant by a one night stand who also contracted a severe case of gonorrhea last year.

Charming stuff, really.

It only takes us a ten minutes to get to the school and the kids are already piling out of the building in straight little lines as we park the car. It's a private school and they usually wear uniforms made up of khakis and dress shirts, so to see them looking so wild and free is kind of fun.

The third graders start to march out of the building and I smile when I see Linda's twins. They're blond haired, blue eyed boys named Paul and Peter and they're as rambunctious as they come. When they see their mother, they start running towards her dressed as toothpaste and a tooth brush. I laugh at how silly they look... silly and so very adorable. Peter puts Paul in a head lock and starts wrestling with him as they approach with quick steps, nearly tripping over their cloth and cardboard outfits.

Fred and George...

I shake the voice away. Nonsense. Pure nonsense, that voice.

"That is cute," I say but Linda doesn't answer because she's too busy taking pictures with her smart phone.

I crane my neck so I can spot my Ethan when Miss Shelby's first grade class starts coming out of the building. I see his teacher and all of his class mates... but he's not with them.

"Where is..." I start walking towards the school with my face getting hot. I always have this fear of losing him...That one day he will leave and it will be like he never existed. "Where is he?" I say to myself as I push through the throng of children running towards their parents and waiting in the bus lines.

When I finally see his head of dark hair, I exhale slowly in relief.

"Thank goodness," I whisper as I speed walk towards him. He has his hands stuffed in his pockets and a firm frown on his little face as the doors shut behind him. When I notice that he's not wearing his costume, I tilt my head in question. "Hey baby," I say when I get close enough and he glances up... dark eyes shining in the sunlight. "Where's your costume?"

He nods to his backpack where I can see a bit of the red cape peeking out.

"Why did you take it off? I thought you wanted to be superman this year."

"I don't want to anymore," he answers flatly, his voice soft and barely audible.

"Why?" I ask, stopping him and kneeling down so we're eye level. He's wearing his khakis and a light blue dress shirt that's buttoned all kinds of wrong. "What happened?" I push hair away from his face to try to judge his reaction... but he's not giving me anything.

"I want to go home."

I nod my head, accepting his answer because I don't want to press him in front of everyone.

Of course, Linda notices he's not wearing a costume and points it out as soon as we get to the car. I give her a quick look to drop it, but she's already moved on to her next distraction. Her phone rings and she answers it, chit chatting loudly with one of her friends about some gossip going down with her high school sweetheart.

I wish I would have driven myself and I give Ethan a sympathetic smile as he climbs into the car, buckling his seat belt with his lower lip caught between his teeth as he sends shy looks to the other children. The twins are going crazy in the back seat and Matilda is crying over a toy she dropped on the floor.

I understand his reluctance.

My Ethan has always been melancholy and he carries a weight around that's unfitting for a child of six. Sometimes I look at him and I feel like he must have the oldest soul that has lived a million lives... I watch my son from the rear view mirror as Linda puts the car in drive and I sigh a little when he presses his forehead to the glass, watching the trees pass by.

"Did you get a sitter for tonight?" Linda asks over the wails of her daughter and I glance her way when she puts her phone in the cup holder. "Remember? Murry and I are having a little get together after trick-or-treating is done. I sent you an e-vite," she says like I would know or care what that is. "It's just a little bit of candy for the grown ups, if you know what I mean," she says as she wiggles her brows. I catch Ethan in the mirror again. He's looking at me now, his dark brows furrowed as he waits to hear my answer. "It's gonna be fun."

We make eye contact in the mirror and I smile a little.

"I don't think we can," I say gently, giving her an apologetic look. "We couldn't find anyone to watch Ethan." I lie because we never even tried.

I spy Ethan's relief before he goes back to staring at the trees.

She makes an odd hmf sound like she was irritated with me before waving her hand. "Just bring him and he can hang out with my boys. If we throw an extra twenty at Geena she won't mind watching another child. You need to get out and socialize more often."

I don't say anything to that and I turn in my seat when we get closer to the house. "Ethan," I say gently and he glances at me. "Close your eyes," I tell him with a smile. "I've got a surprise for you."

For a moment he looks happy and then he slams his eyes shut with excitement making him sit up straight. Linda starts talking to me about redoing her kitchen in summer colors and I only half listen until we pull in front of our house. When I go to open the door, Linda grabs my arm and smirks.

"Remember," she says, nodding her head. " Ten o'clock...and bring that handsome husband of yours."

I give her a tight smile as I go to the back to help Ethan out of his seat. His eyes are still firmly closed and I hold him against my hip like he was a toddler again. His body is the dead weight of a loved child against my side as I walk him towards the front of the house with my lips pressed to his cheek. When I place him on his feet, I kneel behind him and wait for Linda to speed off before gingerly taking out my wand.

"Ready?" I ask softly into his ear and I can feel his smile as he nods his head. "Okay... One... Two... Three..." I lift my wand and shoot a spell. "Open your eyes."

The house comes to life with magic, lights burning brightly, illuminating dark shadows and showing off the mechanical werewolves on the balcony. It starts to dance... turns and clanks and glittering lights that make him roll on his toes.

"What do you think?" I ask against his ear, pulling him to me with my arm around his middle. "Do you like it?"

He nods again and I kiss his cheek.

"Wait until you see the front hallway."

He runs inside and I jog in behind him, loving the sound of his laughter as he walks through the forest I had made for him.

"Brilliant," I hear him whisper and I smile smugly while warding the door behind us.

"Hey," I say and he looks over his shoulder, a large grin on his face. "I hid some things around those trees," I say, nodding to a large root. When he sees one of his plush toys... a turtle named Thaddeus... he nearly squeals in delight as he runs towards it. "If you can find all five, I'll let you have a piece of candy before dinner."

That makes him happy and he takes off, disappearing into the magical land I had made for him while I go into the living room. I take a seat on the couch and pull his backpack to my lap, unzipping the top so I can grab his superman costume. I fold it up, laying it on the arm rest and running my fingers over the home made cape before pulling out a story book. I look it over curiously and sigh loudly when I realize which one it is.

"Ethan," I say as I shake my head and turn the leather bound book in my hand.

The Strange Tales of the Wandering Knight.

It's a children's book with moving illustrations that tells the story of a wizard who uses magic to become a knight. Ethan knows he's not allowed to bring this book to school and I bite the corner of my lip as I flip through the pages. The whole thing shimmers with a spell to keep the pictures moving like a television screen and the words move about the page whenever they're looked at by human eyes.

It's Ethan's favorite, but he knows he can't show the book to anyone. Not to muggles, anyways, and that's all he's ever been around. Ethan knows that we're different than other families, of course... He knows that I am a witch and his father is a wizard and one day he will be a wizard too... but I don't think he totally grasps that the muggles we're surrounded by are not like us and our magical items are not to be mixed with them even though we've told him so time and time again.

I guess it's unfair to ask a child to hide a part of himself from the world... but it's safe here... We're far away from the dangers of home and the warlord that resides in England. There was a purge after the war where pureblooded families were being targeted by fringe elements who wanted them dead. The government was torn apart and a warlord took over, changing the voted in tribunal into a dictatorship one bloody night in the spring. We moved to America when Ethan was just a baby to escape it and here we've stayed... in a crumbling home in Virginia among the muggles where no one knows who we truly are.

I put the book to the side and take out his homework folder. Inside I find his spelling words written in his shaking boyish hand writing and a couple sentences he had strung together with them. I smile at the drawing he made of our trip to the zoo before finding the red slip hiding behind one of the pockets.

We get one of these every other week.

I hesitate a second before unfolding the slip to see his teacher's familiar script written in bold sharpie.

Ethan got in trouble for disrupting class. He had to be sent into the hallway for shouting in a nonsense language during reading time.

"Mama!" I look up. Ethan has all of the toys I had hidden, but his smile falters when he sees the red slip.

He knows what that means.

"Come here," I sigh, patting the spot next to me.

He thinks he's in trouble and his eyes water for a second before be bites back his emotions and walks towards me with his jaw tight and fists clenched. He lets his toys falls to the ground as he climbs beside me and I pull him to my lap, pressing my lips to his temple so he knows I'm not angry with him.

"Did you talk to Lyle today?" I ask softly, leaning back to look into his eyes.

He nods his head.

"What did he say?"

He shrugs and when I press him, he furrows his brows. "He was hungry," he admits after a long pause.

"Remember when we talked about this last time?" I ask gently and he nods, dark hair falling across his brows in a way that makes him look like such a serious little man. "I told you that if he starts talking to you again... just ignore him. All he does is get you in trouble."

"I know, but he wouldn't be quiet and I just wanted to listen to the story," he says, his little hands balled up in frustration. "And I tried to be nice and tell him to be please stop... but everybody laughed at me and Miss Shelby told me to stop it... but he just kept on talking." He looks away, his cheeks red in anger. "So I yelled at him."

"And them Miss Shelby made you sit in the hallway?" I finish for him and he nods his head... a short and angry nod. "I'm sorry, baby," I tell him as I hug him tightly. "I'm going to talk to your teacher on Monday. Maybe we can finally convince her to move Lyle out of her room."

...and maybe she'll listen this time. My thoughts become bitter as I think of his first grade teacher. Miss Shelby is a spinster well into her sixties who's as hard as nails and seems to hate children with a passion. I honestly think she has no business teaching first graders.

"Why doesn't he bother anyone else?" Ethan asks, pulling me from my thoughts as I run my fingers through his hair.

"No one else can understand him," I say honestly as I think of Lyle, Miss Shelby's class pet... He's a red corn snake with orange stripes on his back and beady eyes that glisten.

"I wish I could never understand him," Ethan says, his voice twisted in irritation. "He just ruins everything." I lean back as he makes himself comfortable against me and he starts playing with one of the buttons on my cardigan, twisting and pulling until I'm sure he means to pop it off. "Why can't you hear snakes like me?" he asks, his lips in a firm frown.

"The same reason why your hair is brown and my hair is red," I explain as I squeeze his arm. "It's just something we're born with. Sometimes you get things from your family members that others don't. I think it's a very special talent." I give him a little smile. "Just imagine all the adventures you could go on."

He thinks on that for a moment before his stomach growls and we both laugh.

"Are you hungry?" I ask with a smile and he nods a sheepish head. "Lets go get a snack. Shall we?"

I let him lead the way into the kitchen and I pull out some fruit and yogurt from the refrigerator while he takes a seat at the table.

"Do you want to tell me why you took off your costume? Was it bothering you?" I ask curiously as I pour him a glass of milk. "Was the cape itching-"

"Superman is not real," he cuts me off, giving me a look like I was silly. "He has super powers, but he's not real."

"But you still like him, don't you? Just because a person isn't real doesn't mean they have any less to offer. A hero is still a hero even if they only exist on the page."

"I am real," he says as I place his snack in front of him with a handful of pretzels on the side.

"Of course you are," I reply as I sit beside him and grab a strawberry from his plate.

"I am real and I like being Ethan," he says and I give him a soft smile.

"I am glad you like being Ethan," I tell him, leaning forward to kiss his head. "Because Ethan is my favorite man in the world." He smiles at me before starting to eat. "Do you still want to go trick-or-treating tonight?" I ask carefully and he blinks a few times before nodding his head. "Do you still want to dress up... or do you want to just be Ethan tonight?"

He shrugs.

I pause for a second as I watch him and then I think of the book hidden in his backpack. "Perhaps you would like to dress up as Bodrick the Bold," I say and when he looks at me, his eyes are shining in recognition. "You can be the Wandering Knight. I know he's not real, but he could talk to snakes," I tell him with a smile. "He was special like you."

He smiles again, a full out grin that turns my heart.

"Would you like that?" I ask and he nods his head, causing his dark hair to fall across his brows.

"I would but... but I don't have that costume..." He starts to pout at the thought and I smirk, pulling the wand from my pocket.

"Your Mommy is a very talented witch," I say as I twirl the wand in my hand. "I'm sure we can make something suitable."

He jumps up and down in his seat and I make him finish his snack before we start gathering supplies. The wandering knight always wears full armor colored a dark navy with a bright red cape. I take his superman cape and take off the giant S on the back, then I start cutting out cardboard pieces for his armor. All the while Ethan hands me tools and gives me ideas like a good little helper. He's very serious about this business and I send him sly little looks as he bites the corner of his lip with his brow furrowed in concentration. I smile a little and kiss the side of his head, pressing my nose to his hair and taking him in.

"Mom..." he pushes me away. "We're working."

I laugh at that and go back to cutting.

It takes us hours to get the whole thing right and then I make him stand up so I can press the pieces against his little body to make sure it's all going to work together.

"This is going to be just great," he whispers when I start changing the color of the pieces with my wand until it shimmers into a deep dark blue. "Don't forget the star."

Of course. The wandering knight has a bright yellow star on his chest plate. I have him fetch his paint brushes so I can carefully outline the symbol. After I'm finished, I hand the brush to my Ethan and let him fill it in.

"Stay in the lines," I remind him as his shaking hand tries to make it perfect. "Good job."

He smiles and I make him stand on the couch again when he's done. I piece together the armor, making it stick with magic and tape and glue...

"I think this just might work," I tell him as I secure the used to be superman cape around his shoulders and cinching it with a home made clasp around his neck. "I don't think I'll be able to make a helmet, though," I tell him honestly as I push hair away from my face. "Is that alright?"

He nods his head, looking down at our handiwork as I use my wand to fix up the rough edges.

"I need a wand," he says as he bends down and grabs his discarded story book. He opens to one of the pages and shows me a drawing of the wandering knight standing in front of a castle. "And a sword," he says, pointing to the picture. "And a spell book too. See!"

"I think we have most of that," I tell him as I stand back to appraise our work. "What do you think?" I ask softly, making him lift his arms and bend his knees. "How does that feel? Is it too heavy?"

"It feels fine," he says shortly, officially done with the work part.

"Run to the stairs and then run back."

"Why?" he asks with a frown. I lift him from the couch and place him on his feet.

"I just want to make sure you can move," I tell him, looking over the costume and taking the book. "Go on, run to the stairs."

I turn him and give his back a little push.

"Go on."

He starts trudging that way... almost waddling. "Why are you walking like that?" I ask seriously with a hand on my hip. "Run normally."

He sighs loudly before actually running towards the banister—and a few pieces fall before he even reaches it.

"Alright, come back."

I pick up the pieces and make him stand on the couch again as I use my wand to fix it all again.

When I'm finished, I have him run around until it all stays in place. It looks clearly homemade and almost last minute... but I like it and Ethan likes it too because he's smiling like a fool each time he looks down at it.

"Let me fix the cape," I tell him and he groans as I make him climb on the couch one last time. He stares blankly at the wall as I adjust the cape with his cheeks flushed from all the running. "Are you going to say the words?" I ask to keep him engaged and when he looks at me, I wiggle my brows. "When there is darkness..." I start for him with a smile.

"When there is darkness I will bring the light," he says, smiling a dimpled smile with shining brown eyes like mine. "Where there is struggle I will bring my might. Where there is-"

He gets cut off by a loud pop of Apparation that sounds like crack of thunder coming from the open App zone in the garage. Ethan looks at me with his eyes shining and he curls on his toes, knowing what that noise means.

"Dad," he says before hopping off the couch and running towards the kitchen.

I look at my watch and blink a few times. Jesus, I didn't realize it was six already.

"Wait for the knock, Ethan!" I call behind him.

It's a security thing we do... just in case.

Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Two short knocks then a pause before three long ones and then finished with two short ones again. Something that was a agreed upon years ago...

"Dad!" he calls when the doors open, having grown past the point of calling him Daddy... but every once in a while it slips and I find it so adorable.

"Oh, look at you," I hear his father answer and I smile when I step into the kitchen. He's standing in the threshold that leads to the garage with his hands on his hips and a little smirk threatening to break at the corner of his mouth. "The wandering knight in all his glory."

"How does it look?" Ethan asks. He stands back and turns around to show his father, swishing the cape around a few times because I know he just likes the way it feels. "We worked really hard on it all day."

"It looks very good, indeed," his father says, ruffling Ethan's hair and lifting him with a quick kiss to the head. "Mommy's been busy, hasn't she?"

"Don't move him too much," I warn, walking towards them when he puts Ethan back on the ground. "That thing is held together with magic and a prayer."


He laughs and grabs me around the waist to steal a kiss. "What happened to Superman?" he asks against my lips.

"He decided he wanted to be the knight instead," I answer with a shrug.

"Well, I agree with that choice." He pulls away from me to put his bag down on the table. "It is much better to be a wizard than an alien, I always say."

"Is that truly something you always say?" I question with a brow up and he laughs.

"I try to get it in at least twice a day," he jokes as he heels out of his loafers.

He's wearing the midnight blue robes of a potions master and he shrugs out of them, leaving him in the white button down and gray slacks he put on this morning. He always smells like fire when he comes home and I crinkle my nose when I catch a pretty strong whiff of it. I turn to Ethan and start messing with his outfit again, playing with the cape and adjusting the bits on his shoulders

"How was work?" I ask when I realize I barely even looked at him.

"It was hardly worth getting out of bed for," he admits, creeping up behind me and wrapping his arms around my middle...pulling me back into his chest. "I am hungry, though," he says as he presses his lips to my neck. I smirk and bring a hand up to run through his thick hair. "I had a light lunch and I'm regretting it now."

"I haven't even started dinner," I reply and Ethan looks up at me with his brow furrowed. "Why don't you go upstairs and get that sword from your toy chest, honey," I tell him just to give him something to do. "We can pick out a spell book from one of your father's potion texts."

He nods his head and takes off running, leaving me alone with my husband. I turn into his embrace and exhale slowly.

"I didn't realize we'd been working on his costume so long," I admit with a smile as I lean up to kiss the corner of his mouth... where that smug smirk is always threatening to appear. I start fiddling with his collar, loosening his tie and undoing the first few buttons of his shirt. "He's so excited."

"Why don't you go finish up?" he says, running his hand down my face and tilting my chin up. Successfully pulling me away from the coddling I was subjecting him to. "I'll make us something to eat."

I smile at that. He cooks dinner more often than I do... He's just so much better at it and he enjoys doing it a lot more... I suppose because it's so much like potions making and he's so very good at that.

"Thanks." I kiss him again. "You're good to keep around."

"I'm good for more than just cooking, you know," he says as he reaches down and grabs my bottom with a wink.

"Draco!" I laugh, batting his hand away... but his face falls and he pulls back, giving me a golden eyed glare.

"What did you just call me?"

I blink for a second when I try to remember... He get's so angry when I call him that silly name. "I don't know," I say, pulling him close to kiss him again. "I called you Blaise, of course," I correct myself as I run my fingers through his dark hair.

I don't know why I keep letting that name slip. I don't even know anyone named Draco.

"If you call me that again, I'm going to have you flogged," he says and I snort at the thought.

"You wouldn't even try," I tease him, pressing against his chest. "You love me too much."

"That," he smiles a little, a handsome smile that makes my heart melt. "And I'm scared of you. I'm all talk with hardly any bite." he laughs."But you have fangs."

Ethan comes running back into the room with his play sword, but he's frowning. "The pieces fell of again," he says and I smile before going to him and taking his hand.

"Come on. Back to the couch."

Blaise makes tortellini with pesto for dinner and after finishing Ethan's costume I make him take it off so we can eat our fill before trick-or-treating. He reminds of his earned candy and I let him pick out some chewy fruit thing before he sits down to eat in just a white undershirt and his khakis.

"Linda reminded me of her party tonight," I say over a glass of wine as Ethan digs into his pasta. Blaise raises a dark eyebrow in response because he knows what a home body I am. "She said we could bring Ethan and her nanny would watch him."

"Do you want to go?" Blaise asks as he uses his wand to refill his wine glass. He uses magic for everything. It honestly borders on laziness sometimes, but his reasoning is that he's a wizard without a house-elf, so what more can one expect from him?

"Not really," I admit as I look at my Ethan. He has pesto on his face now and he's devouring a piece of buttered bread. "I would rather just stay home."

"Then stay home, we must," he says as he takes my hand and kisses my knuckles. I smile and pull my hand back because I want to keep eating. "I hate going to those things anyways," he says as he picks up his fork. "That Linda woman is a real C-U-Next-Tuesday."

"Blaise," I scold, looking at Ethan who is perfectly oblivious. "Watch what you say around him. What if he says something like that at school?"

Blaise laughs at the thought and then winks at our son. "I'm sure he'll use it only when the situation permits it."


Blaise starts talking to Ethan about his day and our son doesn't bring up the snake or getting in trouble... and neither do I. I figure I'll talk to Blaise about it later... when Ethan isn't around because he always gets so upset.

Once dinner is finished, I suit Ethan up in the wandering knight outfit, rubbing his face clean of pesto, butter, and left over milk. He grouches at me the entire time and barely even smiles when I take a picture of him with the camera we brought from England so many years ago.

"Stop frowning so much," I tell him, pinching his cheek. Blaise goes upstairs to change into some casual clothes while Ethan and I get ready. "We want to remember this night forever," I tell him, snapping another picture of the nasty look he's giving me.

That one's going in the scrap book for sure.

"Mom?" he asks as I take a clean pillow case from the top of the laundry stack in the living room. I hand it to Ethan who's now impatiently waiting by the front door. "Do you think I'm weird?"

"Of course," I say and when he frowns at me, I smile and kneel down so we'll eye level. "All the greatest, most interesting people in the world are weird," I tell him as I take his hand and play with his little fingers.

"I don't want to be great or interesting," he says, looking impossibly adorable in the bulky home made armor. "I don't want to be weird either."

"Well... I am weird. Your father is weird... Everyone worth knowing is weird," I tell him, pushing his hair back because it always insists on getting in his eyes. "I think you're perfect. Weird is not an insult to people like us. It means we're not boring and there is nothing in this world more awful than being boring."

He smiles a little, accepting my answer for the moment and letting me kiss his forehead. I take down the magic forest I had made while we wait for his father and Ethan watches me with his head cocked to the side and a disappointed frown on his face. Blaise finally comes bounding down the stairs a few minutes later in a pair of denim jeans and a gray fisherman's sweater pulled over a soft white shirt. I catch myself staring at him longer than I should... and I can't look away as he runs his hands through his hair.

"What?" He asks.

I shake my head. "Nothing," I reply quickly as I grab my pea coat and button it up with a smile. "Are you ready, little man?" I ask as I push a hat over Ethan's head. "Put on the gloves. It gets cold at night," I tell him and he gives me a look before reluctantly putting on a pair of red gloves I made him take out from the closet.

Sometimes he finds me just so annoying. But I don't care. I'm his mother. I'm supposed to annoy him.

"Are we ready?" Blaise asks as he checks his pockets. "Do we have everything? Wand, stupid muggle phone that is fucking pointless..."

"I think we're good," I say as I open the door and Ethan goes stomping by me. I grab Blaise before he passes and give him a look. "Stop cursing."

"You might have to punish me," he says as he wiggles his brows and he laughs at the face I make. "Or, perhaps, I should punish you for trying to tell me what to do," he offers as he pulls me close and he nips at my lower lip with his sharp teeth.

I push him away.

"Stop it," I shake my head and he laughs.

Blaise sets up the candy bowl on the porch while I ward the door behind us, making sure no one is around as I take out my wand to do it.

"What if people take all the candy?" Ethan asks as Blaise puts up a handwritten sign that tells the kids just to take two pieces.

"Then the candy will be gone," Blaise answers. "But I like to think people are a little better than all that..." When I give him a look he laughs. "And we put a spell on it," he finally admits and Ethan looks at the bowl curiously. "No one will take more than two unless they want a shock. That's a good lesson, son," he says. "Always see the best in people, but be prepared for the worst."

"Oh..." Ethan says. He smiles like it was funny and then he takes off running down the sidewalk with the pillow case slung over his shoulder.

"Always see the best in people," I repeat his words as he takes my hand. "But be prepared for the worst."

"Words to live by," he says as we make our way down the sidewalk, passing children dressed up in colorful costumes. "Life is one big candy bowl," he smirks at me and I shake my head, leaning into his arm and using my free hand to wrap around his forearm.

Mrs. Melling, our elderly neighbor who lives in the colonial style house across the street calls to us from her porch. Blaise waves at her and then mumbles a nasty cuss word under his breath that earns him one of my glares.

"How are you doing tonight!?" she calls from her porch, waving me down like she wanted me to stop and cross the street. "I see your house is all decked out!"

"Yes. Very well, thank you!" I call back before speed walking away, pulling Blaise along with me. "See you later!" I add so I don't get stuck talking to her.

I don't have two hours to spare talking about her garden and the cyst she had on her ovary two months ago.

"Real smooth, Gin," Blaise says once we're out of ear shot and he laughs at the look I give him. "You practically just ran away from her. You know she's going to catch you on the way back."

"I have a series of distractions planned," I say and he smirks.

"That's my girl."

The whole neighborhood is out and we wave and nod and make small talk with the other parents as Ethan collects candy from all the various houses on our block. He's so adorable and his outfit is holding up rather well even though no one else knows who he is...

"Ethan got in trouble at school today," I say once we move on from a group of chatting parents I know from the neighborhood.

"Doesn't he always?" Blaise answers flatly. "What did he do now?

"He yelled at Lyle because he kept talking during reading time and was sent in the hall for it. I think I'm going to schedule a meeting with Miss Shelby and ask her to remove the snake again. "

"We've asked that bitch to get rid of that fucking class pet a million times," he says sharply and I look around to make sure we're not in hearing range of any children. "But she won't. So we can either take matters into our own hands...which, considering I'm a fucking wizard and you're a fucking witch could be quite easy... or we can do what I originally wanted to do in the beginning and just get him a private tutor. He's not a muggle, Ginny." he says, his eyes shining against the street lights. "He's a wizard and the older he gets, the more different he's going to seem to them."

"I just wanted him to make friends," I admit in a small voice as I watch Ethan run down the sidewalk a few yards in front of us, his red cape billowing behind him.

"He's not making friends," Blaise says and the truth hurts, so I look away for a moment. "He doesn't get invited to birthday parties and the other kids don't like him."

"I don't think that's true," I say, offended that anyone wouldn't like my Ethan. "They're too young to even think that way."

"Gin," Blaise shakes his head like I was being silly. "He hisses at that snake most of the day and they laugh at him... When they laugh at him he ends up doing accidental magic. I know he doesn't mean to do it... but he does things to their minds and most of those children are afraid of him now. If we home schooled him, he would be a lot happier. He's too stressed out. He has a stomach ache nearly every morning before school. You know something is wrong. We're not helping him by making him go. We're harming him."

"Why don't we just go back to England?" I ask softly. "Move into a magical neighborhood so he can be around kids his own age who share his talents."

"We can't go back to England now. You know it's dangerous if we're recognized by the wrong type of people. There are many who want to use your blood and they will kill me and Ethan to get it. The administration that's in charge right now will not grant us safe passage... We just need to wait it out here, where it's safe, before returning to our world."

I nod my head in understanding and then I turn to Ethan again. He looks so happy... but he's alone... While the other kids are running around with their friends... my son is forever by himself...

Maybe it would be best to take him out of school and get a tutor.

"I don't want him to be lonely," I admit softly. "I don't think it's healthy for a boy just to be around his parents all the time."

Blaise is silent for a few moments as we cross the street and then he smiles to himself. "He needs a sibling," he says and when I look at him, he raises an eyebrow. "A brother or a sister will do."


"I'm serious," he says and when I look, I realize he's actually telling the truth. "I think it's time."

I turn away and furrow my brow as I think about it. To be honest... I'm not sure if I even want any more children. I love Ethan more than anything... but there is something inside of me that's sour to the idea.

"We don't want them to be too far apart in age if we want them to be friends," he continues. "And Ethan is already six."

"I think that's a conversation we need to have some other time," I say flatly, not wanting to tell him no again after so many years of begging.

Blaise has wanted more children from the moment we came to America and I am forever raining on his parade. We were too young when we had Ethan... Too young and too unprepared for what parenthood could mean. It's a lesson that we're still learning and, even though we've grown so much from those first sleepless years on our own, we're still young.

"I don't understand why you don't want to have more children with me," he says, his face smiling but his voice sour and dark. "It's starting to hurt my feelings."

"When you're the one with a wrecked body and morning sickness then you can have hurt feelings," I snap and he laughs, but it's hallow and unfeeling.

"I'm serious, Ginny. Look at him," he says, nodding to Ethan who's coming down the steps of a red brick home surrounded by hanging ghosts made out of tissue paper. "I didn't have any brothers and sisters growing up and I think my life would have been different had I had any."

I ponder on that. He's right, of course. I never had any siblings either and my parents died not long after the war started. We're completely alone in this world. All we have is each other and the family we've made together...

"Would it really be so bad?" he asks softly, watching my profile as we walk through the fallen leaves.

"No," I say honestly as I blink a few times. "It wouldn't be bad," I admit and I can feel the smile on his face without even having to look. "Just let me think about it, okay?" I say gently and I know... I know he knows I might say yes this time and that pleases him greatly.

He leans over and kisses the side of my head.

"Think away," he says with a smirk. "But let me know soon so I can draw up a fucking schedule."

"Jesus, Blaise," I hiss, hitting his arm at his joke. "These kids are going to hear you."

"Let them. They're just words," he says with a humored shrug. "And besides, remember how big your tits got last time?" he asks and I give him an affronted look that he finds amusing. "I like that part the best."

"And they were never the same again." I counter and he smirks. "So let's just drop it now."

"If you wish," he teases, moving his arm so he can wrap his hand around my hip to pull me close. "But we'll pick it up later," he can't help but add and I give him another sour look that earns me a smirk.

"Ginny! Blaise!" I inhale an annoyed breath when I hear Linda's voice. She's dressed like an angel with wings and she's holding a bowl of candy on the porch of her large yellow house. "Come talk to me," she says as she throws a handful of chocolate bars into Ethan's pillow case with out even looking at him. "Geena took the kids out so I'm stuck here handing out candy. Murry is in the house getting drunk already," she rolls her eyes as I put my hand on Ethan's hat, where his hair is peaking out from underneath in dark wings around his face. "You can go in and say hi if you want," she says, blinking at Blaise and smiling. "We have a ton of beer ready for tonight."

I hide a face at the way she's looking at Blaise... She thinks he's pretty and I'm sure she wants to fuck him. It doesn't really upset me or anything... Everyone wants to fuck Blaise, but I hate it when they stare at him so openly. He's smart, rich, and good looking... with a foreign accent to boot. It's a perfect combination that makes every ovary in the vicinity practically explode when he's around.

"American beer is shit," Blaise answers as Ethan starts bouncing impatiently by my side.

Linda laughs like his joke was funny, but he wasn't joking... he actually hates American beer as much as he hates American cheese. He's a picky bastard when it comes to his taste buds.

"Well, we have plenty of other drinks at the ready," she smiles wide at him and then she looks at me, her smile a little bit duller. "You are coming, right? I already told Geena you were bringing your kid and she agreed to watch him. You remember me talking about Cara, right?" she says, waving her hand and I nod. I guess I remember... "Well, she's coming and you need to meet her. You just have to come. You're going to come, right?" she asks, blinking at Blaise and he looks to me for direction. "Of course you're coming. I already told everyone that you would."

Of course, you have to come... I blink at the sweet voice in my head. The sugary voice of a friendship long forgotten.

"Mommy?" I shake out of it and look down at Ethan. He is so bored. "There are more houses..."

"I know, babe," I tell him and I sigh before looking at Blaise.

I want him to be the bad guy and say no, but he just raises an eyebrow waiting for my answer. I'm forever a people pleaser and I reluctantly nod my head because... because a part of me wants to go too. "I think we can come for a little bit."

She squeals in delight before handing me some candy. "For the road," she jokes. "I'll see you at ten, then?"

I nod my head and then I start steering us away, putting the candy in Ethan's pillow case when we hit the side walk. Blaise starts laughing and then he shakes his head as he pulls me close when we get far enough away.

"Honestly," he starts, smiling when Ethan takes off running ahead of us. "You need to start working on your bitch skills. You're bloody awful at it."

"You could have said something," I hiss and he just laughs some more. "You didn't want to go."

"I didn't care either way. I'm not fighting your girl battles for you. She's your friend."

I frown at that. "You don't think we'll be expected to dress up, do you?" I ask with a horrified face.

"We'll just go as insanely good looking people. Luckily we're already wearing the costume," he says as he smirks.

I laugh a little. Sometimes his jokes tickle me too.

We cover another block before heading back to the house and I pull out my phone, pretending to do that texting thing when Mrs. Melling waves me down. We make it into the house without delay and I sigh happily at the thought... before realizing that soon we'll have to go back out and I'm have to brave Mrs. Melling again.


"Let's take a look at what you got tonight, mate," Blaise picks Ethan up and they walk towards the living room. Ethan dumps out all of his candy on the floor and starts sorting it in little piles as he sits on his knees, looking excited with his cheeks red from running. "Quite a stash you got there. Let's hope your Mommy doesn't eat it all this year."

"Shut up," I say as I take off my coat. "You ate more than I did last year."

"Can I have some tonight?" Ethan asks, looking at me and blinking before turning to his father.

"Just two pieces," Blaise answers as he lays down on the floor beside him and starts sorting though the candy as well. "We don't want you to get a stomach ache."

"I'm going to get dressed," I call to them from the hallway.

Blaise waves a dismissive hand as I climb the stairs to our bedroom. It's decorated in plums, greens, and golds of varying shades with a king size bed lounging against the south side wall. I strip out of my clothes until I'm left in just my underthings and then I go to our walk in closet, rummaging through my clothes and frowning at everything I own. I never have anything I want to wear... but as Blaise has pointed out on numerous occasions... I have far too many clothes.

It's so frustrating sometimes.

I tap my fingers against my lips as I decide whether I want to wear a dress or jeans... but when I hear footsteps in the hallway, I quickly pull on a slip just in case Ethan comes in the room. My panic was for nothing, because it's Blaise and he smirks when he sees what I'm wearing.

"I'm having Ethan change into something more comfortable," he says as he closes the door behind him, his eyes dark and focused on my breasts. "Is that what you're wearing?"

"Obviously not," I chide him as he slinks towards me, his movements languid and heavy with a particular purpose that I have no time for. "Don't even," I tell him as I put my hand up. "We don't have time."

"There is always time," he says as he grabs my wrist and pulls me towards him with a yank. "You over estimate me," he adds as he lifts his wand to lock the door.

I try to push him away, but he laughs and pins his body against mine, pressing me into the closet door. He kisses me before I can get away from him and holds my right hand down in a iron grip when I attempt to push him back. It's a savage kiss that makes my head spin and when he pushes his knee between my legs...I feel something in me give way. The carnal lust of a husband after years of marriage does something to me and after a few moments of hesitation... I kiss him back.

"Get on the bed," he says, pulling back and giving me a serious look with his golden eyes shining once he realizes he's won me over.

Which he always does.

"Ethan..." I trail off as I think of him and Blaise is quick with an answer.

"He's playing with some toys in his room. We've got time," he says as he pulls the sweater over his head. "Bed," he commands. When I hesitate, he narrows his eyes before bending down and actually lifting me up to put me there himself. "It pisses me off when you don't listen to me," he says and I snort in laughter as he dumps me on the bed.

"Then you must always be in a state of anger," I comment as I sit on the edge of the bed with my feet dangling just above the floor. I lift his t-shirt and kiss his chest, trailing my lips down his stomach.

"True," he says as I start on his belt buckle. "But then I get to live through moments like this and it makes me feel better ."

"Moments like this," I repeat as I start working on unzipping his jeans. "And what do you think is going to happen exactly?" I ask, placing another kiss just above his boxers.

"Something that involves your mouth and my dick," he says with a smug smirk. I lick my lips, laying back on my bed and resting on my elbows as I smile up at him.

Poor guy, he looks so thoroughly disappointed... until I start taking off the slip and then I hook my thumbs into the waist band of my knickers so I can push them down.

"Never mind that," he says when I bundle up the bit of lace and I throw it behind me. He pulls out of his clothes quickly and then he crawls on top of me, caging my body underneath his.

"Never mind?" I ask as I reach between our bodies to grab him. He inhales sharply and I push his shoulder, changing positions so I'm the one on top. "But it's Friday, you cooked an amazing dinner, and you looked very good in that sweater..."

He looks up at me with his hands on my thighs as he tries to judge my expression.

"Does that merit a blow job?" he asks with his head cocked to the side. "Please say that it does."

I smirk and start moving down, but when I hear something crash in the hallway, I jump and scurry to put on clothes before running out and finding Ethan with toys all around him just outside the bedroom door.

"What are you doing?" I ask as I kneel down to help him pick them up with my cheeks red.

"I dropped them," he explains as he starts throwing them in his back pack. "Daddy said we were leaving for a little bit."

He's wearing a pair of sweats and a thermal shirt with miss matched socks and I give him a little smile when he looks at me. My Ethan is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to his toys and he's packed about twenty little action figures like he would never see them again if he didn't bring them tonight.

"Blaise," I call over my shoulder. "Are you decent?"

"Fully dressed," he calls back, sounding disappointed as I take Ethan's hand and lead him into the bedroom. Blaise is in the bathroom and I set my Ethan down on the bed. "Stay," I tell him with a wink as I go back to my closet to pick out an outfit. "We're going over to Paul and Peter's house for a little bit," I tell him so he knows what's going on. "We're not going to stay very long," I reassure him as I pull out a pair of dark skinny jeans and a white blouse. "But it will be fun to stay up a little later, right?" I say, smiling at him as I pick out a black blazer. Blaise was right. Ethan doesn't really have any friends, but Peter and Paul treat him nicely, even though they're crazy as hell. "What do you think?"

"Can I bring my toys?"

"Of course you can."

When Blaise comes out of the bathroom, I go in myself to get dressed. I redo my hair and touch up my make-up, studying my reflection in the mirror and getting angrier for giving in because I do not want to go to Linda's and I do not want to take Ethan.

"Babe," Blaise raps his knuckles against the door. "It's getting late and Ethan's almost asleep. If you want to go, we need to go now."

I nod my head even though he can't see me and I open the door a second later. He nods approvingly at my outfit and once down stairs, I put on a pair of heels by the front door while Blaise pushes a pair of trainers of Ethan's tired little feet. Linda's house is only a block away, so we opt to walk with Blaise carrying Ethan against his chest, leaving me free to bite my fingernails nervously.

"You shouldn't have said yes if you didn't want to go," Blaise scolds me when he sees my hesitation and I give him a narrow eyed glare.

"I know that," I tell him flatly.

I can hear the music from here and I give Ethan a sad look as we approach her brightly lit house.

"How old is Linda anyways?" he asks, hiking Ethan up as we go up the walkway towards her home. "I know her husband is fucking ancient."

"Thirty...Thirty two, I think... Murry isn't that old. I don't even think he's forty yet."

"That bitch is too damn old to be having house parties on the weekends. She should be having afternoon brunches and clam bakes," he says and I laugh as he takes my hand. "Wine tasting on Wednesdays and maybe once a year she'll go bar hopping with the girls and thoroughly embarrass herself, but this... this is reprehensible."

"Yet, here we are," I say as we climb the porch stairs.

"Yes," he says, giving me a look. "Here we are."

I ring the door bell and no one comes for a few long moments before a man dressed as a viking opens the door. His face red and his eyes blurry with drink.

"Hey," he says, looking between me, my husband, and then to Ethan. "You brought a kid. That's not cool, man."

"Is Linda anywhere around?" I ask and he blinks a few times.

"Hey," he says again and Blaise narrows his eyes. "You're from Ireland."

"England." I correct and he blinks.

"Same thing," he shrugs, stepping aside and to let us through. "Linda's over there." he nods to a group of women dancing around a large speaker where modern club music is blaring.

My poor Ethan covers his ears and whines.

"Ginny and Blaise!" Linda calls when she sees us, a drink in her hand. "Oh, you made it." she pushes through people until she reaches us and then she looks me over. "Where are your costumes?"

"Can we take him upstairs?" I ask, rubbing Ethan's back.

"Oh, yeah, let me show you!"

We follow her wobbly steps up the stairs. She keeps talking, but I can't hear her and Blaise doesn't care so neither of us try to talk back. After forever, we finally reach a room on second floor... It's a toy room that's in complete disarray and the twins are running around like crazy, their faces smeared with chocolate and candy. The nanny, Geena, is looking frazzled as she rocks Matilda back and forth in a rocking chair while the toddler screeches like a banshee.

"Just plop him down somewhere," Linda says as she waves her hand around the room. "Hey can play with anything he wants."

Blaise make a noise like the click of his tongue and when I look at him, he has his eyes narrowed.

"He'll be fine," Linda notices our hesitation. "The twins will crash any second anyways."

Blaise hesitates a second before setting Ethan on his feet. "Alright, buddy," he says as I help Ethan out of his coat and hat. "We'll be right down stairs," he reassures him, messing up his hair and handing him his back pack full of toys. "It won't be very long. Okay?"

Ethan nods his head, sending a shy look to Peter and Paul who are wrestling by one of the windows.

I kiss his head and follow drunk Linda back down the stairs to the party. We're the only people not dressed up as something ridiculous and I guess I should be embarrassed by that... but I'm not. I accept the drink given to me by a passing man dressed as a lobster and I down it quickly, leaving it on a nearby shelf that's full of precious moment statues.

"I'm going to go smoke," Blaise says, kissing my head and leaving me with drunk Linda as he disappears to the back of the house to get to the patio.

I get handed another drink by another animal and I'm thankful that I have something to hold.

"God, that man," Linda sighs as she watches Blaise leave and then she turns to me. "Cheers to being social!" she says as she clanks her drink with mine.

"Cheers," I repeat flatly, taking a sip and balking at the taste because it's far too fruity and far too strong.

A part of me is pleased to be out of the house for a night, I suppose. I'm such a hermit I rarely leave unless necessary. Perhaps it would be good to go out of my box every once in a while.

My feelings are always so conflicted on these kinds of matters.

"Listen, I am really glad that you came," she slurs, putting her hand on my arm. "I really think you and I could be great friends." She pulls out her cell phone that was hidden somewhere in her cleavage. "Here. I want to take a picture with you."


She presses her head towards mine and angles the phone away. I can see us on her screen. She's smiling a big plastic grin while I look slightly miserable to be alive.

Oh, Ginny... You didn't smile...

"Smile, Ginny," she says and I blink a couple times before giving in and giving my own fake smile with my head knocked against hers. She taps the button and the flash blinds me for a moment. I blink it away as she looks it over picture with her lips pursed. "Ugh, that one was awful. I have a double chin. We're taking another."

We're taking another one... Smile this time...

"Just one more," she says to my sour face. "Now, just tilt your chin up. There you go..."

We take ten more before she's satisfied.

I did learn that the best way to take a picture with another female was to have the camera angled above your head and you should always suck in your cheeks while you smile... which seems painful and ridiculous, but whatever...

"What are you doing now?" I ask as she starts clicking things on her phone that I can't see.

"I'm posting them," she says like I was stupid and I furrow my brows.

"On the internet?"

I realize it sounded stupid when I said it and I was rewarded with a silly look from Linda.

"Could you not do that?" I ask softly as I crane my neck to watch her do it anyways. I know that it's dangerous to have my picture out there for anyone to see. After all, part of being in hiding is actually hiding and the internet can bring all of those hidden things to light.

"Only my friends will see. Look." She presses her phone into my face to show me the cropped photo we just took. There's a caption underneath that reads: Best neighbor ever.

A lie if there ever was one...

"This is going to be my profile picture," she nods her head like I would care as she clicks more things. "My boobs look amazing..." She looks up when someone says her name and smiles."Oh, here's Cara," she says, waving her hand to catch the attention of a woman dressed like a slutty police officer. When she approaches, Linda puts her hand on my back. "Cara, this is my friend Ginny. Ginny, this is Cara."

I shake her hand, feeling silly to be meeting someone who's dressed like that. She's younger than Linda... Around my age...

"Cara, I think your son in in the same class as Ginny's boy... Ethan," Linda says as I take another sip from my glass.

"Ethan Crow?" Cara asks with her brow raised.

Crow... a name we picked when we came to the states. Although Ethan knows we're truly Zabini's it's a lie we tell to further protect our identity. Another lie we make our son repeat... I sigh...A private tutor is looking better and better.

"Your son is the hissy boy?" Cara asks and I frown.

"Hissy boy?" I repeat.

"The one who hisses at the snake all day," she says and then she narrows her eyes, putting a hand on her hip and cocking her head. "You know, your son gave my boy a scare last week. Jacob said that Ethan cornered him at recess and told him he was a wizard who was going to burn him up. Your son has anger issues," she says and I tighten my jaw. "I think he might need to see someone for it because this isn't the first time he's done something like that to Jacob."

"Maybe he wouldn't have anger issues if your son didn't call him hissy boy," I state, blinking in anger when she tilts her head.

I walk away before she can answer and I go towards the stairs, leaning against the bannister and drinking the rest of my beverage in one large gulp. I regret dragging my family here and I look up the stairs into the darkness... Poor Ethan... After a few moments by myself, Blaise finds me. He smells of smoke and he tastes like cigarettes when he kisses me.

"I think I'm over this already," he says, tugging a hand through his hair and glancing up the stairs. "A man just puked beside me..." I crinkle my nose at that and then hide a smile at the look of utter disgust on his face. "I feel kind of bad leaving Ethan up there by himself. I know how miserable I am... I can't even imagine how he's doing in that madhouse," he admits, giving me a look that lets me know how serious he is. "Those kids are fucking nuts and I'm pretty sure that nanny is going to kill them one day. I'm going to take him home."

He bounds up the stairs before I can even reply and a second later he comes down with Ethan against his hip and his bag of toys slung over his shoulder.

"I'll come with you," I say, leaning forward to kiss Ethan's cheek for the millionth time as Blaise awkwardly helps him into his jacket.

I walk with them to the door as I push Ethan's hat on his head. He looks really tired and I give him a sad smile when someone calls my name. I look over my shoulder to find Linda running towards me on those crazy high heeled shoes.

"Ginny, where on earth are you going? I know you possibly can't be leaving now." She's just standing there in that stupid angel costume, looking disappointed. "I know Cara is a bitch-"

"Ethan is tired. I think we're just going to call it a night."

"Oh, but you can't," she whines as she tugs on my arm. "I've got so much fun lined up."

I look at Blaise and he shakes his head. "I'm going," he says, leaning forward to kiss my head. Linda takes a picture and I give her a glare. "You can stay if you want."

I don't want. He knows I don't want.

"Just for a little bit longer," Linda cuts in when she sees my hesitation. "There's a really fun game we're going to play and I really want you to be here for it," Linda pulls on my hand and Blaise gives her one more look before walking out the door.

I look at Linda before calling to Blaise. He stops on the porch and they both look at me with matching looks of irritation. Maybe... Maybe I should stay for a little while. I only have a handful of women who are my friends... No... That's a lie. I have one friend and her name is Linda and I barely know her.

"I'll be home in a little bit," I say and Linda claps her hands together.

I watch them walk away with Ethan's chin resting on Blaise's shoulder. He waves to me before the door closes and Linda pulls me back into the party. I just stand beside her and listen to her ramble on while Cara throws shade at me from the other side of the room. I was half tempted to take out my wand and hex her for being such a bitch, but I reeled myself in and decided not to abuse my power. Because that's what I had. Power. Where she was just a muggle with a glaring problem, I was more than capable to curse her face off and then make the others believe it never happened.

But I like to think I'm better than all that.

The fun game Linda was so proud of turned out to be a raunchy version of charades that I didn't bother participating. I drank a few more glasses of the awful fruity tasting atrocity before calling it a night. I ignored Linda when she tried to pull me back this time and didn't make eye contact as I left her house.

It didn't hit me until I was out in the cold that I was a little bit buzzed from the alcohol and the walk home felt like a ten mile hike uphill. I fumble opening the door, bringing down the wards awkwardly with my wand. I kick off my heels and lock the door behind me, pausing a moment because my head is spinning. After a few moments, I right myself and climb the stairs with my face red and my thoughts overlapping. I check on Ethan first. He's asleep in his bed and I run my fingers down his smooth cheek for a moment, smiling at how much I love him before leaving his room with the door closed behind me.

Blaise is still awake when I find him, reading a magical newspaper that he folds over when he sees me walk in.

"How was it?" he asks as he checks the clock. "You weren't gone long."

I make an odd noise as I peel out of my clothes and he sits up to watch me.

"Are you drunk?" he asks with amusement.

"Just a little bit warm," I admit.

Once down to my blouse and panties, I climb on the bed and start crawling towards him. He's shirtless, just in a pair of red boxers, and I feel like he deserves a reward for being so perfect.

"What are you doing?" he asks with a brow raised as I push him back and then I start lowering the waist band of his boxers.

I smile before kissing him and then I move down his body because, if one thing does merit oral sex, I think it's being a good father. I know his body well.. I know this part of his body very well... and I take my time teasing him into frustration before finally giving in and using my whole mouth. Blaise thoroughly enjoys himself, of course, but he stops me before I can finish. I tilt my head in confusion when he pulls me up and has me rest on his lap.

"I don't mind," I tell him, thinking that's why he pulled me away, but he just smiles and tugs at my blouse, pulling it over my head and throwing it on the ground in a heap of white ruffled silk.

I rub his shoulders and press my nose to his hair when he starts kissing my neck, unhooking my bra with his nimble fingers and letting the straps slide down my arms until it joins the other discarded clothes on the floor. He used my shampoo this morning and I smile a little as his kisses turn to love bites and his hips thrust up to find purchase in my clothed sex. He flips us in frustration and I gasp at the quick movement, laughing as I pull him to me so I can kiss him while his those clever fingers of his work to take off my panties. When those get thrown on the ground, he gets to his his knees so I'm caged underneath his lean body with his hands on either side of my head and his hips between my open legs.

He looks me over, studying my face and then moving down my naked body with his eyes lidded and lustful.

"Open, and willing, and waiting," his says, his voice deep and thoughtful. "Sometimes I thought I would never have you like this."

"Well, you do," I tell him, not able to come up with anything witty or sexy because I'm no good at either.

"I do," he says as he pushes my legs open a little more so he can rest between them with his sex pressing against mine.

I look down and watch as he adjusts his hips to sink into me and I smile a little when he presses all the way in with his jaw clenched. It's funny seeing his body so close to mine... He's so much much tanner than I will ever be. I'm so pale, I'm almost blue in color, but his skin is golden and it looks so drastically different next to mine... I feel like my skin glows next to his.

I wrap my hand around his arm when he starts moving and I keep looking down where his body is joined with mine, wondering if he notices too.

"Ginny. Ginny. Ginny..." he says as he thrusts into me, his voice sing song and light with amusement. "Can I?" he asks, suddenly serious as his golden eyes look into mine. He tilts his head and presses a kiss to the corner of my lips like he wanted to convince me.

I know what he wants and I pull back to look into his eyes for a few long moments before nodding my head. He smirks and stops moving to grab his wand from the side table. I move my hair away and tilt my face to the left as he puts his wand against my neck.

"Not too deep," I warn him.

He went too deep last time and I thought I was going to pass out.

He nods and then whispers the spell. I wince, but the pain doesn't really bother me anymore so I push it away as Blaise throws his wand to the side. He bends down to lick the blood from the cut his magic had made and I worry my lower lip between my teeth, arching my back at the sensation. I know my blood has magical properties because of the family I was born from and that was one of the reasons we had to leave England. People wanted to use it for darker purposes, but Blaise... mostly it just gets him high and every once in a while I let him because I love him and when I drink his right afterwords it makes me high too.

He pulls back after drinking his fill. There's some blood on his lips and his eyes are dark as he stares at me with his teeth coated red. He grabs my knees and yanks me down before plunging into me with a growl in his throat. The roughness of his love making takes me by surprise and I hold onto him as he lifts me up so we're both sitting on the bed, facing each other as I lower myself into his lap. I'm starting to sweat and I press my face into shoulder, riding out the tremors in my body before a wildness over takes me and I bite his neck.

I bite him hard... and he makes a noise when I draw blood.

I pull him painfully close and he throws me back against the pillows, mounting me again as his blood dribbles down my chin. After a few seconds, I feel the blood go to my head and, mixed with the alcohol, it's a lethal combination. I'm not very nice to Blaise for the rest of the night because of it. I push him, and scratch him, and slam him against different surfaces in our room. He's so lost in the blood lust that he hardly notices because he pushes right back... with slams, and smacks, and bites that leave painful marks to be regretted later.

We end up by the window, on the floor, pushing against each other in something that could no longer be considered love making... It was fucking. Straight and animalistic fucking that was no where near being romantic or loving, but take me to hell if it didn't feel insanely good in all it's awfulness. I grab the curtains and yank them down when he turns me around again and he kisses me hard, his mouth biting at mine and his tongue twisting until I can barely breathe.

It wasn't until he punished me with another bruising kiss that I realized I had called him Draco again and I made a weird whimpering noise at the sensation. He gripped my hips a little too hard as he spilled his release inside of me with a cuss so filthy coming from his scratchy throat.

"If you call me that fucking name again, I'm going to make you regret it," he says darkly, grabbing my chin as he pulls out of me and forcing me to look into his eyes. "Do you get that?" he snaps. When I smile, he pushes my chin away and glares at me. "You think this is funny?" he asks harshly, his voice bitter and full of hate. "You get enjoyment out of hurting me?"

I can't help it... I start laughing.

I laugh and I laugh and I laugh as I fall back against the carpet with my arms stretched above my head. He doesn't appreciate my humor, of course, and he give me a disgusted look before stomping to the bathroom. He slams the door, making a few framed photos on the dresser fall over and smack to the ground. I don't care for his tantrum and I refuse to go after him to apologize. I muffle another laugh with my hand before pulling myself to my feet and turning to the window.

I'm impossibly hot now, so I pry the window open and let the chilly October air hit my body that's now full of marks and bruises and blood... Sweat dries on my skin as I stare out at our backyard, barely visible in the moon light. It's made up of endless green grass with a play set and pool covered for the coming winter...An upper middle class suburb at it's finest...

My body aches from all that twisting and turning, and I bring my hand down to run between my thighs, feeling the wetness that's left over and smiling a little to myself in satisfaction. I only pull back when Blaise exists the bathroom... the harsh light filling the dark room with a brightness that hurts my eyes. He pulls his pack of cigarettes from the hidden spot in his dresser and I raise an eyebrow as he puts one in his mouth and lights it with the end of his wand.

"How would you like it if I kept calling you another woman's name?" he asks, turning the bathroom light off and approaching me with his fists curled in anger. He's still undressed and I take a moment to look down his body before catching his eyes again.

"I wouldn't like that at all," I admit as I let him pull me to him with a yank. I hit his chest hard and he puts his hand on the small of my back to keep me there, his cigarette a dot of red burning light in the darkness. "I'd probably kill you."

He smirks then. It's an ugly smirk that's unpleasant and cruel, but I don't react... I just stare him down as he blows smoke out of the side of his mouth.

"Should I kill you, then?" he asks coldly, his lip curling up in a sneer.

"I don't think so," I say, running my fingers down his warm arm until I get to his right hand...Where I pluck the cigarette from his fingers. He glares at me some more as I snuff it out on the windowsill.

He knows he's not allowed to smoke inside.

"No?" he asks, grabbing my wrists and staring me down with means to intimidate, but I won't break so easily. I flick the cigarette out of the window with a little smirk.

"No," I say as I crawl on the bed and then I look at him over my shoulder. "If you kill me, who's going to be left to have your beautiful babies?"

His anger melts immediately as he crawls behind me and I smirk when he runs his hands up my spine.

"Is that a yes?" he asks, his voice soft and hopeful like he had never been angry in the first place. He wraps his hand around my hair and tilts my head back to look at him when I don't answer quick enough.

"It's a yes," I say with a smug smile, pleased that I can dangle that power over him.

He flips me around again and he rests on top of me, pushing damp hair away from my face and kissing me sweetly.

"I'll stop taking the potion. Maybe we'll have a redhead this time," I say hopefully and he laughs. It's a deep chuckle that shakes his chest

"You're all recessive genes," he says, tugging on some of my hair. I scratch his back in response and his spine arches. "Mine will trump yours every time. I'm sorry, but all of our babies are going to be dark haired and tan."

"Ethan is pale like me," I point out and something in his eyes change... something that turns back to anger and I tilt my head curiously when I notice it. "You don't win the genetic lottery every time, I'm afraid," I joke, but he doesn't return my smile. "I can always change my mind, Blaise," I remind him. "So stop looking me like that if this is what you want," I warn.

He looks like he's going to yell at me for a moment before he shakes his head, like he thought better of it. He pulls me up after that and turns me so I'm on my hands in knees again.

"If there's one thing I never thought I'd be," he starts as he lines his body up with mine again. I smirk when I feel his arousal against my sex and I grab the covers in anticipation. "It was being completely pussy whipped by Ginny Weasley," he says before sinking into me with a hard thrust.

I laugh and rest on my forearms, riding out another rough session well into the night.

After today's events all lined up in my mind, I realize something with a smug smirk of my own. Finally, after so many years together... I have actually managed to domesticate the notorious Blaise Zabini.

I wake well before dawn and I take a moment to stare at Blaise as he slumbers beside me. His features cut a sharp outline in the darkness and I turn on the side to look at him more closely in the waning moonlight. There's no doubt that he's beautiful, more beautiful than me, actually... but there's a manliness to him... a hardness that cuts to the core with a glare of his golden eyes.

I bring my hand up to touch his face... He stays clean shaven now-a-days but when we first moved here, he grew a full beard and mustache. He had it for a good year and a half before shaving it all off because he didn't like the way it felt. It added an element of realness to his perfection and it made him look like... like a man.

I kind of wish he'd grow it all back.

He makes a noise in his sleep before turning around and tucking a hand under the pillow. Blaise is not a cuddler and I smile a little at that. He has a few freckles on his shoulder and I lean forward to kiss them, pulling him close and sighing thoughtfully as I reach out to touch his hand, running my fingers over his palm. I rest my head against his and throw a leg over his thigh. How much would change if we had a baby? I let that thought wonder off with a furrowed brow and then I start thinking of Ethan.

What would he think of the whole thing? Would he be pleased to be an older brother or would he absolutely hate it?

Blaise tries to shrug me off after a while and I nearly laugh at the noise of irritation he makes before slinking off of him so he can sleep peacefully. I debate whether I want to go back to bed... but I decide against it and I stand up, stretching out every which way before going towards the bathroom. I flinch when I turn on the light and it takes a moment for my eyes to adjust before I catch my reflection in the mirror.

I look pretty frightening, actually... like someone who just survived a horror movie.

I take a shower to scrub off all the dried blood and I wash my hair with the same shampoo that Blaise always steals. I just stand underneath the shower head for a while, letting the warm water run down my head and back as I think of everything and nothing at all. My mind plays tricks on me sometimes. It shows me things that can't possibly be real... memories that never happened, voices that I've never heard... a man that I've never slept with. I let my hand trail down my stomach and in between my thighs when I think of that man, his image blurred and unfocused but his voice as sharp as a whip.

I'm glad fantasies don't count as cheating, because I've been having an affair with these thoughts in my mind ever since Blaise and I came to Virginia. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but then I realize how silly that is. After all, one can't have an affair with ones own hand and I'm sure Blaise has his own thoughts that don't involve me all the time. When I'm finished, I step out of the steaming shower and use a wand to heal all of the marks left on my body. I'm too damn old to have love bites and I don't feel like dodging questions about what happened if other people see them.

I dress quietly in a simple blue tunic and comfortable cotton over stretchy black leggings. I forgo putting on a bra because it's Saturday and, honestly, fuck bras. I slip on a pair of slippers and I glance at Blaise still sound asleep in bed before carefully leaving the bedroom and closing the door behind me. Between Ethan and Blaise, it is very rare that I find time where I am completely by myself and I try to take advantage of the situation anytime it actually presents itself. I tip toe away from the bedroom to the spare room at the end of the hall where the windows face the street.

It's my room.

After all, it was Virginia Woolf who said a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction... and this room is all mine and the money I make from the stories I write is all my own as well. Though it really isn't much...The magazines that buy them hardly pay me well... but I could still survive if I wasn't with Blaise. I could make a home for me and Ethan and live comfortably with-in my means.

Or...I like to think so, anyways.

I go inside and lock the door behind me, staring at the computer outlined in the darkness before turning it on with a glance out the window. The moon is still out and the stars are still blazing... a street lamp is out on the corner and a cat runs down the sidewalk after knocking over a trash can...

When the computer is fired up, I sit down at the desk and type in my password before stretching out and I pull up the story I've been working on for the better part of three years. I'm almost finished with it, but the final chapter eludes me... so does the title. I can never think of a proper name to call this thing I've spent so much of my time perfecting.

I don't even know if it's good.

It's just a series of stories that pop into my mind and I felt compelled to write them down after a while. A part of me doesn't even want to share it with anyone else. It's mine... Just mine and I don't know if other people will even like it... A part of me doesn't even care if they do...It's a twisted story where the characters never choose the right path and where darkness always seems to win.

I fear it will not have a happy ending... and people love happy endings.

I start typing, the keys clicking under my finger tips... I keep writing, reading, changing... writing, reading... changing... editing... writing... changing... looking up... changing... writing... waiting for an idea to come...What does this word really mean? I look it up and then use it in a sentence... writing... rewriting... stopping... getting a drink... writing... go to the bathroom... reading... erasing... saving... writing... A title...A title. A title. A title...


I type the word out and then stare at it as it jumps out at me from the screen.


I stare at the two words together, relating them to my characters and their situations.

Envy & Manipulations

I didn't realize how long I was just staring at those two words until I heard some birds chirping outside followed by the cold gray color of day breaking through the window. I shake my head and rub my eyes out when I realize they're burning something awful and I sit back, yawning into my hand and scratching my head as I stare at the computer screen some more.

Envy & Manipulations

"Envy and Manipulations," I say out loud just to taste it and I let the words roll around in my mouth for a while before I hear a set of small feet creaking down the hallway. A few moments later, the same little feet knock against my door and I smile before picking up my wand and unlocking the door with a simple spell.

"Come in," I say softly and Ethan steps inside, looking all sleepy eyed with red cheeks and messy hair.

"What are you doing awake?" I ask softly. He walks towards me and crawls on my lap, shrugging his little shoulders and not bothering with a real answer as he makes himself comfortable against me. I snuggle him close and press my lips to his hair with a long sigh. I love him in the mornings... he's all soft and sweet and warm. "It's pretty early, my love."

He doesn't say anything, he just yawns and nuzzles his head against me like a kitten.

"Did you have another dream?" I ask curiously, holding up his hand and looking at his little fingers.

He nods.

"What was it about?" I ask a I press his palm to my lips.

"The burning tree," he whispers tiredly.

I know this dream of his. A tree with white bark stands at the center of a dark forest and suddenly it bursts into flames... Flames that dance with green fire that threaten to burn the whole world up... I know it well because I have it too.

"Did anything else happen this time?" I ask softly, gently rocking him back and forth as I rest his hand on my neck.

"Not really," he mumbles, his eyes drooping shut.

I squeeze his arm because he's so soft, but I pause when I notice a little red spot on his forearm. "What is this?" I ask, bringing it close so I can see and kissing it when he shrugs. "Another bug bite?" I ask and he nods sleepily. "I think they just like you because you're so sweet."

He chuckles a little before opening his eyes and glancing at the computer screen. "Can you tell me a story?" he asks, turning in my lap so he's facing the computer and he puts his hand on the mouse like he was going to take matters into his own hands.

"What story do you want?" I ask, placing my chin on top of his head and putting my hand over his to click through the folders.

"The one about the boy and the crow," he says softly.

I find the story I had written when he was just three years old and I clear my throat before starting.

"There once was a boy who lived in a small village called Thorpe," I say, smiling a little when he whispers the words with me. "This boy lived with his mother in a little shack on the outskirts of a dark forest. This forest was home to many sinister creatures and no one from the village would dare go near it, but this particular boy was very brave."

"Every day the boy would enter the forest using a book of spells his father had given him to bypass all the creatures who tried to harm him. He did this so he could fish from a magical pond that rested at the heart of the woods. The fish were plentiful and the boy would always catch enough to feed his family and use the rest to sell to the other villagers in Thorpe. One day, when the boy was resting by the pond, a crow landed in front him and looked at him with it's beady eyes."

"'Hello, there,' The crow said as it stretched out it's wings. 'What are you reading?"

"A book about magic," Ethan says the line and I smile again, kissing the side of his head.

"What kind of magic?' the crow asked."

"All kinds," Ethan whispers.

"Who would give a young boy such a dangerous thing?' the crow asked, hopping on a nearby rock and looking curiously at the boy with a tilted head."

"Books aren't dangerous," Ethan whispers. I'm pretty sure he knows it by heart now.

"Ah,' the crow said. 'Books are sharper than any sword, mightier than any wand...."


I blink and then look over my shoulder. Blaise is there, rubbing sleep from his eyes and glaring at me.

"What are you guys doing up so early?"

"What are you doing up so early?" I counter.

It really isn't strange that Ethan and I are awake at this hour. We have awful sleeping habits, but Blaise usually sleeps later than most teenagers on the weekends.

"I have to go in," he says, walking into the room and kissing my head. "It appears like there's some sort of crisis," he says with an eye roll as he presses his lips to Ethan's cheek.

"On a Saturday?" I ask with a frown.

"On a Saturday," he confirms, putting his hands on the back of the chair and staring at the computer screen for a moment before shaking his head. "It should only take me a few hours."

"I'll make you something to eat while you get ready," I say as I stand up, shifting Ethan so I can carry him. He's almost too big to be carried like this... but I don't mind the extra weight just to keep him close. "We'll finish the story later," I whisper into his ear and he nods with a sigh of disappointment as I take us down the stairs.

I set my Ethan down at the table when we get into the kitchen and run my hands through his dark hair, musing at the redness I can see come out just barely when the sun shines on it.

"What should we have for breakfast?" I ask softly, a dull ache in my head letting me know that the alcohol I had last night was going to punish me today.

"Cereal," he answers, as he answers every morning.

"Are you sure?" I ask with a brow raised. "I can make some eggs and bacon. Or maybe some biscuits with gravy. Waffles? Pancakes? French toast? It's Saturday... anything is possible," I tell him with a smile.

"Just cereal," he says flatly, not even bothering to think about all the fattening possibilities.

"Alright. Cereal it is." I grab his favorite and pour it in a bowl, adding milk until he tells me to stop and then placing it in front of him. I give him a glass of orange juice and a bowl of cut up bananas before getting myself a large glass of water to drink greedily. Hydration is a beautiful thing. "What should we do today?" I ask, stifling a yawn. Perhaps I'll take a nap when Blaise gets back. "Maybe we can go to the park if it's not too cold out. Would you like that?"

He nods his head in response and I start pulling things out of the fridge to make breakfast for Blaise. He eats healthier than I do... so I make him egg whites with peppers and some whole wheat toast on the side. I have no desire to eat healthy, so I make my eggs like God intended them with the yoke over easy and some toast with a good amount of butter on top. Blaise is throwing on his potions robe as he walks into the room and I smile tiredly at him.

"Just in time," I tell him as I set his plate down a the head of the table. I pour him a glass of orange juice and smirk when he kisses my temple. "What time do you have to be there?"

He glances at his watch and sits down, picking up the fork and shoveling the food into his mouth like a mountain man. "I've got about ten minutes."

"Did they say what the crisis was?" I ask curiously as I sit down and pick up my fork. When I notice he has a bite mark on his neck, a little bit of bestial pleasure warms me before I shake it off and take out my wand to fix it.

Like I said, we're too old to have love bites... Especially ones that resemble actual bites that had every intention to cause pain and draw blood.

I stand beside his chair and start healing him as I pull down his collar. He doesn't even bother to stop eating or ask me what I'm doing... that's how often this happens.

"Something about a horrible smell coming from one of the rooms," he says with a wave of his hand around a mouthful of toast. "When something starts smelling like fire they call me in," he says, winking at Ethan and making him smile. "Your father is an important man."

"Very important," I confirm, leaning down to wrap my arms around his shoulders when I'm finished healing. I press my face into his neck for a moment before sighing and pulling back, but he grabs my hands to keep me in place.

"Is it still a yes?" he asks, his voice soft and barely audible as Ethan eats his breakfast. He tilts his face to catch my reaction with his dark brows furrowed in a line. "Or was that you just being drunk?"

"It's still a yes," I assure him with a smile as I press a kiss to his lips. When I pull back he's smiling that charming smile of his. "We'll talk more when you get home, yeah?" I ask and he nods his head, smiling even wider like I had just given him the greatest news a man could ever receive.

When it's time for him to leave, he kisses Ethan's head and bends down to kiss my cheek.

"When I come home, I'll fill you up again," he whispers against my ear. I blush at his words before pushing him away and watching him leave out the garage door.

"I'm done now," Ethan says, showing me his empty bowl. "Can I watch cartoons?"

"Of course," I give him a tired smile and walk him into the living where I turn on the television.

I lay down on the couch and Ethan lays on my back, his little body warm against mine as I adjust the pillow underneath my head. This is a morning routine of ours. Where we lay about and watch cartoons on the television before really starting our day. I close my eyes and yawn as he shifts on top of me and he yawns as well.

"I'm tired," he says and I nod my head.

"I am too."

I almost fall asleep that way until someone starts banging on the door. Ethan and I both jump up and he looks frightened as the door shakes.

"Ginny!" That's Linda's voice and I grab my wand. "Are you home!?"

"Stay here," I say to Ethan as I run towards the front door.

"Linda?" I ask as I look out of one of the windows. She's standing on my porch in her pj's looking frantic with her twins by her side and the toddler against her hip. "What?" I whisper before putting down the wards so I can let her in. When I open the door, she runs by me with her kids close behind looking scared. "What are you doing?" I ask as I close the door and ward it again.

She goes into the living room where my Ethan is sitting on the couch with a pillow cradled to his chest. She picks up the remote and starts clicking through channels.

"It's all over the news," she says and I look at the television where they're showing coverage of various monuments and buildings around Washington D.C...They're completely demolished and up in flames. The Jefferson Memorial... the Washington Monument... the White House... "Do you think it's terrorists?" Linda asks as she walks towards the screen with her hands shaking. "Look!" she shouts as she points to the footage taken on someone's cell phone."Did you see that black spot? It's like they're flying and look!" she shouts again and the children jump. "Did you see that colorful thing... It hit that statue and blew the whole thing up!

"Mama?" Ethan is worried now and I pull him to me, holding him against my hip as we watch the destruction of America's capitol.

"It has to be the Taliban," Linda says as Ethan shakes against my side. "I know it is!"

"It's not the Taliban," I whisper when I realize what the black spot is... It's a person in a billowing cloak riding on a broom... and the colorful thing Linda pointed out was a curse... a curse that came from a wand.

These were witches and wizards.

A news anchor, who looks pale and shaken, comes on the next and she's gripping a piece of paper in white knuckled hands. Linda is clicking things on her phone, no doubt posting about the attack while her children shake in fear.

"What you're watching is video taken by a civilian just moments ago showing the attack on Washington D.C. by people unknown at this time. We're hearing reports that other major cities across Europe are being targeted by this group as well... Moscow, London, Beijing, Madrid..."

"Is this real?" Ethan asks, his little face frowning. We've told him there's difference between what happens on television and what happens in real life... but this was real... and I didn't have the heart to say it.

"….The president has issued a level red alert for the entire country," the news anchor says. "and they're urging people in the surrounding states of Virginia and Maryland to stay indoors and call 9-1-1 if they see any suspicious activity. Most roads in the capitol have been closed..."

A loud bang shakes the entire house and Linda looks at me before we both run towards the front window.

"Oh, my God!" she screams when we see the robed creatures on brooms zoom past, shooting curses at the surrounding houses. "The terrorists are here!"

"It will be alright," I reassure her, trying to keep my voice calm and leveled. "Let's go in the basement," Nothing can happen to this house. We have good wards," I say and Linda doesn't understand, but she nods anyways. I think of Blaise and I swallow hard before shaking out of it. "I have flashlights and blankets in the hall closet. Let's grab those and then go downstairs. Grab some water and snacks from the kitchen as well. There's a basket in the closet where we can put everything in the pantry."

She nods again and blindly follows my commands, handing off the supplies to her children who are looking just as shocked as she is. "I don't have any reception any more," she says after a moment and I glance at her as she pulls her cell phone from her pocket. "I tried to text Murry, but look," she shows me her phone. "It won't go through. Do you have reception?"

I check my own phone and shake my head. It's hard getting reception in here anyways because of all the magic... but I'm sure most of it is because of what's happening outside. Ethan is staring out of the window now and watching as the neighborhood gets destroyed by colorful curses.

"Get away from the window," I tell him sharply, my fear making my voice harsher than I intended.

"They've got Mrs. Melling."

"What?" I ask as I rush over and pull him away, only to see our old neighbor being twisted around in her front yard by a pinch faced witch with a mane of bright red hair. Mrs. Melling starts screaming... screaming something terrible and it stirs something in my chest. "Linda," I call and she looks up from her flashlights and blankets, all pale faced and duck lipped. "Take Ethan and go in the basement."

I push him off on her and take out my wand...

"What are you doing!?" she shouts as I open the door and step out.

I slam it behind me and put up a double ward when I see how many cloaks there really are flying around our neighborhood. There have to be two dozen of them... I manage to catch one mid flight as he zooms past our porch, sending the brute tumbling to the ground and smacking against the cement of my neighbor's driveway. When I'm sure he won't get up, I turn my attention to the redhead who's torturing my neighbor.

Mrs. Melling's body is twisting in sickening ways and my stomach curls as I lift my wand, shooting a well aimed curse that hits the witch right in the head. The redhead falls back and lands against the ground a few yards away, but Mrs. Melling doesn't stop screaming.

I sprint towards her and shoot curses at the people on brooms flying over head when they notice me.

"Mrs. Melling?" I say when I get close enough and I kneel beside her, dodging another curse that get's thrown right at me. It scorches the ground beside us and I send up a shield to buy myself some time."Debbie," I say her first name to get her attention and I shake her arm because she keeps screaming with her eyes rolling in the back of her head.

She's wearing silk pj's of pink and white stripes and she's bleeding at the mouth with her frizzy hair loose and wild about her head.

"It's me," I shout, grabbing her face and forcing her to look at me. "Your neighbor. Ginny. I'm going to help you, but you have to stand up." I say and after a few painful moments, she nods her head and helps me pull her to her feet. Her ankle is broken. I can see it as soon as she tries to put pressure on it and she howls in pain as it cracks beneath her. "I can heal you if we can get inside," I tell her and she blinks a few times, her pudgy face screwed up in pain. "But we have to hurry and it's going to be painful." She nods like she understands and I lift my wand. "I have to lower the shield for us to move, so we have to run fast. Don't look up..."

She leans all of her weight on me and I nearly buckle under her girth. She's a large woman in the shape of a ball, but my adrenaline is pumping and I feel a lot stronger than I actually am. I start dragging her towards my house and she screams bloody murder when a curse whizzes past us, just missing and singing off some of her crazy hair.

"It will be okay," I reassure her because she's crying and mumbling things to herself under her breath about how this must be a nightmare and how she wishes she could wake up.

Two wizards in black robes try to stop us, but I shoot them away with a red curse that makes them yell in pain and fall from the air, landing on the ground in heap of broken bones and groans. We start walking again, but a wizard lands before us, making me stumble back and causing Mrs. Melling to fall hard on the ground. She howls again as the wizard pushes back his hood and smiles when he sees me.

He's younger, with dark hair and wide set eyes.

"It's you," he says as he takes a step towards me with his eyes wide and cheerful like his little group didn't just declare war on all muggles. "You have been gone for a very long time. We've been looking," he says, messing with some dials on his watch. "We've all been looking. He's going to be so pleased."

"Who will be pleased?" I ask, but he doesn't get a chance to answer because Mrs. Melling pulls herself up, grabs the man's discarded broom, and starts beating him about the head with it.

I raise my brows as she hits him to the ground and his wand rolls away. The others take note of his beating by broom and they come zooming towards us, so I put up a shield and I grab Mrs. Melling's thick arm so I can drag her to the house. When we get inside, I actually smile for a second when I think of the wizard who was beaten by a broom wielding muggle, but when Mrs. Melling speaks... her voice is full of venom.

"You're one of them," she says accusingly and I look at her in surprise. "You're one of those things!" she shouts as she leans against the wall with her broken ankle off the ground.

"One of those things just saved your life," I say harshly, warding the door again and then turning towards her. "Let's get to the basement. I'll heal you down there."

She pulls away from me violently. "I want none of your witchcraft!" she hisses, clutching the cross necklace she wears with a trembling lower lip.

I give her a look, my eyes narrowed and my fists clenched.

"Think of me what you will," I tell her flatly. "But I'm the only one who stopped that woman from killing you in the most painful way. If you don't want to be helped, that's fine. I can push you back outside-"

"No," she says quickly and I know I was being cruel but I had no patience for her dramatics. "No.. Thank you," she says reluctantly. "I'm just shocked... is all..."

I nod, a short nod of understanding before I grab her arm. "To the basement," I order as she limps beside me. When we get to the stairs, I use my wand to turn them down so they resemble a slide. Mrs. Melling says something awful again, so I force her to sit and I push her down because I have no time to walk to through all this magic business with a bitter old woman.

We have a finished basement with a television and a few couches that Linda and her children are sitting on as they watch the news together. I help Mrs. Melling over to one of the lounge chairs and I lift her broken ankle to rest on an ottoman...Then I realize my Ethan isn't down here.

"Where is he?" I ask, giving Linda an awful look as her hands shake. "Where is Ethan?"

Linda looks at the ceiling and I follow her gaze. "You let him upstairs by himself?" I say in a panic, dropping Mrs. Melling's broken ankle with out much grace and she howls in pain when it makes contact with the foot rest. "What is wrong with you?" I hiss as I run towards the stairs.

I use magic to turn them right again and everyone starts screaming when the electricity goes out, leaving the basement in pitch black darkness.

"Use the flashlights," I chastise as I light the end of my wand.

I hear a few fumbles and then two of them power on. I don't even bother to give them more direction as I run up the stairs to find Ethan.

What if he went outside?

The thought makes my heart speed and I search for him frantically with my voice high pitched and strange as I call his name. The black cloaks are flying about our house now, passing windows and peering inside as I run up the stairs.

"Ethan!" I scream, throwing open each door with my wand white knuckled in my right hand. I have an insane anger taking over my chest towards Linda. If anything happens to Ethan I'm holding her personally responsible. "Ethan!"

I hear something fall on the top level of the house and I tilt my chin up... When I hear the noise again, I take off running up the attic stairs, sighing in relief when I see Ethan. He's standing on a chair by our only magical fire place, desperately turning the knob on the mantle.

"Ethan?" I run towards him to pull him into a tight hug. "You scared me. I thought you had gone outside."

"It's not working," he says, tears in his eyes as he turns the floo line knob again. "See. There's no fire. I was going to call Daddy... but it's not working..."

"I'm sure your father is fine," I lie.

I hear more screams outside... More screams and slams and gunfire and noises of destruction. We live in a family neighborhood. Almost everyone has kids here and I look down at Ethan, cupping his face and kissing his forehead.

"I need you to go back to the basement with Linda and the others," I tell him, glancing towards the circular window. "I have to go back outside."

"Why?" he asks, his lower lip trembling like he knew how dangerous it is... but how could he? He's just a boy.

"Because someone has to help," I tell him seriously. "And not many people around here know magic."

"I can go with you."

"No," I say sharply. I pull him from the chair and rest him on his feet. "You're too young," I whisper to soften the blow of my harsh voice. "You have to wait here for your father to come home."

I take his hand and start pulling him down the stairs. We're almost to the basement when we hear a pop of Aparation coming from the kitchen. Ethan's eyes light up in hope before he starts sprinting towards the garage door.

"Ethan, stop," I shout and he pauses, but only for a moment

"Wait for the knock..." he whispers and he holds his breath for a moment before it comes.

Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap. Tap... Tap. Tap.


I sigh in relief and he takes off running again. I follow after him, telling him to slow down and wait for me, but he doesn't listen and a part of me can't blame him. I want Blaise too, but when there's a situation as dire like this, there are more security questions to be asked, more lines to be drawn before an outsider can come in. Of course, Ethan only knows the knock and I try to catch up with him as he slides into the kitchen and runs towards the door that leads to the un-warded garage.

"Ethan, wait before-"

He opens the door before I can stop him and I stop dead in my tracks.

It's not Blaise who's waiting for us on the other side.

I inhale sharply at the stranger, not liking the way he's looking at my son with his head titled so curiously to the side. I run towards Ethan, yanking him back by the shirt and pushing him behind me as I stare at the man on the other side of the threshold. He has white blond hair cut short and parted down the side and he's dressed in a fine three piece suit of black with a cape lined in forest green silk.

His features are sharp, cut like glass and unyielding, with cold gray eyes that are staring me down with an intensity that makes me uncomfortable. He's looking at me like he knows me... Like he's seen me before... Like I have wronged him in some way and this was his vengeance for it all.

"Ginevra," The way he says my name sends a chill down my spine and I back up, pushing Ethan as I go. "It has been a long time."

That voice. I know that voice and it sends a pulse between my legs. Why is it so familiar?

"What do you want?" I ask, my wand hand shaking... but I'm not afraid to use it. I will kill him before I let him harm my Ethan. He looks at the wand I have pointed at him before giving me an unpleasant smirk and stepping into the kitchen with black dress shoes so impeccably shined.

"Is it not obvious?" he asks calmly, his head tilted and smirking that unpleasant smirk again. I push Ethan back and clench the wand. "It took me a very long time to find you..."

You have been gone for a very long time...We've been looking...

"You want my blood," I interrupt him and he raises an eyebrow.

"No," he says, tilting his head again. "It's been over five years. I come for much more than that," he says flatly, taking another step towards me with a hand in the pocket of his dress trousers. "I've come to reclaim what is mine."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I tell him. "Leave us alone," I add for good measure and he hesitates a second before storming towards me, pulling a wand from his pocket and deflecting the curse I try to throw at him. Ethan yells in fear and hides under the kitchen table when the man grabs my arm.

I glare up at him and swallow hard when he glares right back. His features are oddly angular, like someone had broken glass and rearranged it to form a face with sharp points and smooth planes. He's handsome... but not in the way that my Blaise is handsome. He was harder, sharper... not as inviting or as warm, but there was a similar darkness in his expression that was lurking just below the surface. The same expression that my husband would get from time to time...

The look of a killer.

I blink hard when he clenches his hand around my upper arm, tightening his fingers and making my skin burn. Under all the darkness, there was a cleanness to him...everything about him was so impeccably put together in a very specific way. His hair, his clothes... even his shiny wing tip shoes were all thought out and just so perfect. Nothing was just thrown together last minute or improvised... I could just imagine what he was like at home...Everything in it's place...

He was a perfect monster.

"Is this a joke?" he asks sharply after studying my face so hard I thought he meant to melt it with his eyes burning like molten silver. "Do you not know who I am?"

"Should I?" I ask with a brow arched, matching his look of disdain.

I must have hurt his pride because he clenches his hand around my arm so tightly I nearly make a noise.

"Yes," he says flatly, his jaw twitching in anger. "You should." he pauses for a second then he wets his lower lip. "I am your husband," he says and I furrow my brows. I would have scoffed had my position not been so awful. "That boy," he continues, nodding to the table where Ethan is hiding. I can only see his little toes and his hand wrapped tightly around one of the legs. "Is my son."

Son...I feel myself poison at the word and my heart starts thumping so loud I can hear it in my ears.

"That is not true," I tell him with my eyes narrowed as I try to tug my arm away from his firm grasp. "You're mad."

The way he's looking at me... He looks almost sorry before he shakes off that emotion and he furrows his brows.

"Call me mad all you like. I've come to claim what is rightfully mine and bring you home once and for all."

Home... That word and the way he says it... I shake my head. I'm a witch. Why in the hell am I just standing here? I press my wand into his stomach and he looks down. A smile threatens to break on his face before he grabs my wrist.

"You will not hurt me," he says as he digs his fingers into my skin. "You know me, Gin," he says, his voice hard and deep. "You know me."

Gin... the way he says it...

"Draco." A voice breaks our staring match and I look at the woman standing in the garage way door. She's petite with dark hair cut short and around her shoulders is the same black cloak with green lining the man is wearing. "The wards are broken. Do you want us to follow through?"

"Draco..." I repeat the name and he looks at me quickly... watching me blink through it as I try to piece together how I know the name.

"Take the boy," he orders and that snaps me back to reality. I fight against him, a curse hitting his hip and making him hiss. I take the distraction to grab his wand and I press it to his throat.

He looks amused again and a piece of hair falls across his brow as I press my wand to his adam's apple, breaking his well kept image... but somehow making him look even more perfect.

Why am I even thinking that?

"Don't touch me," I warn, shaking away the disgust of my own thoughts.

"Put the wand down, Ginny," the girl says and when I glance at her again... my heart stops.

She has Ethan.

"It doesn't have to be like this," she says with her wand along Ethan's throat. He looks so frighted right now and when he tries to pull away, she grips him tighter.

"No," the man says as he glares down at me. "This is exactly how it has to be," he says before reaching out and grabbing my wrist again. "You're not going to hurt me," he says sharply. "Not only because Pansy has our son, but deep down you know you don't want to."

Our son? Those words were disgusting to me. How do they even know me? How can they speak my name with so much familiarity while breaking into my home and saying such nasty lies? I don't know them. I don't know this man... How could I forget someone who looked as cold as he did? How could I forget this history he seems to think we have? And that woman... That woman is just looking at me like I was the most pathetic thing she's ever seen.

"You will not hurt me," he repeats gently, his voice soft like a lover's and it makes me sick.

How wrong could one man be? Of course I wanted to hurt him... but when Ethan calls to me again, his little voice calling a strangled mommy...I feel something in me break. I let the man take the wands and Ethan is finally let go with my submission. He comes running towards me, tripping in his haste and falling hard his on top of the unforgiving kitchen tile. His lower lips trembles as I dash towards him, ignoring the other adults as I pull him to his feet. The look on his face... he's so scared and he falls against me, wrapping his arms tightly around my neck. His little body feels as light and breakable as a birds, so I lift him, holding him like a toddler again as he trembles.

"It's okay," I lie as I kiss his ear. "Don't be frightened."

"When is Daddy going to come home?" he whispers and the man makes a noise.

His eyes... he looks murderous for a second and he turns to the dark haired witch like he was going say something nasty... but he stops himself when his gaze shifts slightly over her right shoulder. I watch his jaw tick as he walks towards our refrigerator where he takes a moment to stare at all of the things hanging on the door with silly magnets we had collected over the years. It's a mess of our life together... Full of pictures and programs and progress reports from Ethan's school. There are drawings in crayon and printed out recipes littered around a calender full of events with important dates marked with red ink.

To be honest, it's embarrassingly messy and I have no idea what he could possibly be looking for.

"Malfoy," the woman says softly, like she was treading lightly around his thoughts as he glared at our refrigerator door.

I hear the front door open and more footsteps file into our home. Ethan presses his face to my neck as the cloaks invade, opening doors and stomping up stairs... The blond man doesn't look away from the refrigerator... he just keeps staring at it. Then, after a long while, he reaches out with a gloved hand to pluck one of the pictures from the door.

It's a family picture taken over the summer at the Strawberry Festival. Ethan had just gotten off of a ride with Blaise and I was set to take their picture, but a woman had walked by and offered to take it so I could be in it as well. It was rare that we were all in a photo together. Ethan dominated most of our films, but every once in a while there would be one of me... or a random one of Blaise. It was kind of nice to have a memory where all of us were present outside of a studio setting.

"What are you doing?" I ask, not even realizing I had said anything until the witch looked at me, her dark brows furrowed with worry.

"What do you care?" he asks coldly, his voice sounding like a petulant child as he studies the picture with his silver eyes narrowed.

I don't want him to do anything to that photo. It's important to me. Even though I was sunburned because I was too busy slathering Ethan down with sunscreen to worry about myself and even though Blaise had an awful stain on his white t-shirt because I had accidentally flicked chocolate ice-cream at him... it was still one of the better photo's we had of our family and I didn't like the way he was gripping it so tightly.

"It's very lived in here, isn't it?" he says to no one in particular and the witch... she looks very concerned as she watches him tilt his head. "Very average and domestic. I didn't think he had it in him," he whispers, more to himself than to us and then he licks his teeth. "But Zabini has always been full of surprises."

"You know Blaise?" I ask stupidly and the look he gives me... It pierces my heart.

"Better than you do," he replies darkly.

I put my hand on Ethan's back and furrow my brows at the way he's glaring at me. There's something boiling under all of his anger, something far away and almost sad... but I can't rightly put my finger on the emotion I see and it's gone as soon as it came... getting buried under his ire as he clenches his fist. He opens his mouth like he wants to say something, but he stops when one of the black cloaks walks into the room. He's a younger man with a cleft lip and he just stands there until the man acknowledges him.

"Since you are standing here alone, I can assume you did not find him?" he bites sharply. The cleft lip nods a short nod of disappointment. "Of course not," he says shortly and then he looks at me, his eyes blazing in a silver flame reflecting the sun. "Do you know where he is?" he asks and when I don't answer he smiles unpleasantly. "Of course, you won't answer that even if you did."

He wants to say something else, something awful... but he decides against it and then he starts tearing the picture up... ripping it into pieces and letting it fall like confetti to the floor. Ethan holds on to me so tightly it actually hurts and I look towards the garage door that's still open behind him, contemplating making a run for it.

The stranger notices that the other cloak is still standing with us in the kitchen and he blinks in irritation. "Why are you still here?"

"There are muggles in the basement," cleft lip confirms after a short pause

That one sentence made my heart drop and I look away from the open door.

I had forgotten all about them and I look at the stranger, his cold eyes narrowed his his lip curled up in a sneer.

"Correct the house." he says before grabbing my arm.

"What does that mean?" I ask as I watch black cloaks file into the house and make their way to the basement. "What are they doing?"

I think of Linda and her children in the basement with Mrs. Melling and I swallow hard.

"No," I snap as the man starts pulling me towards the garage door. I try to yank back, so the stranger stares me down, his jaw ticking in anger. "What are you going to do to them?"

"Are those muggles your friends?" he asks, tilting his head when I hear Mrs. Melling's screams.

I nod my head, hiking Ethan up against my hip.

"Good," he says nastily before pulling on me again.

"There are children down there," I say as I rip away from him, only to run into the dark haired girl who's standing way too close behind me. "Don't hurt them."

"You think I would?" the man asks with his chin tilted down.

I don't have an answer for that and I step away as the dark haired girl saddles herself beside the stranger.

A loud noise shakes the walls and Ethan gasps loudly, burying his head in my neck again. I bring my hand up to his hair, trying to sooth him with little words of encouragement whispered in his ear. When I hear more screams, I look over my shoulder to see a group of black cloaks passing by the archway with my neighbors being dragged behind them with bags over their heads. Ethan sees it, and he clenches his fists against my tunic, bunching up the fabric in his sweaty little fingers.

I can't do this anymore. I am a witch, this is my home, those are my friends, and this is my son that's being traumatized.

I close my eyes to collect myself before freeing my right hand. The stranger doesn't even expect it... a little wandless magic can go a long way and I drop Ethan... Lifting my hand and getting the stranger in the gut with a quick spell that blazes in a shock of bright blue magic. It hits him hard and he flies back against the refrigerator, taking the dark haired girl with him as they slam oddly against the wall. Their wands go flying and I scramble to find mine under the wreckage... clenching it with my fist and then grabbing another to push at Ethan.

"Come on," I say as I grab his hand and start running towards the door.

I shoot curses at black cloaks who try to stop us and we make it halfway down the road before I lift Ethan again, holding him against my hip because he's moving way too slow. I whip my head around to see more black cloak's taking over the neighborhood like roaches with their cloaks and magic and fire. I don't see Linda, her children, or Mrs. Melling. All the muggles seem to be gone now and I look around frantically for a few moments before I lift my wand and attempt to Apparate us away.

….but it doesn't work.

There must be some kind of block set up and I start sprinting down the sidewalk, my slippers not protecting my feet from the hard ground that bites underneath. I run as hard and as fast as I can, but I'm not seventeen anymore... I'm not as in shape as I used to be and Ethan seems to be getting heavier with each turn. Wandless magic always drains me and I'm trying so hard to fight back against the cloaks that I can't possibly run anymore without falling over. I throw up one last concealment charm so Ethan and I can duck in someone's backyard to seek shelter under one of their awnings, hidden from view by stacks of chopped fire wood.

I set Ethan on his feet and lean against the house to catch my breath. My poor boy is trembling and that stranger's wand looks so out of place in his small hand.

"Do you remember that stinging curse your father taught you?" I ask, putting my hand on my side to rub out the stitch there. I look at my Ethan when he doesn't answer right away. His hair is a mess and his eyes are wet with tears, but he's trying not to cry. I kneel down in front of him so we're eye level, my knees pressing into the soft earth. "I want you to use that if you see anyone you don't know coming towards you," I tell him softly, pushing hair away from his face. "Do you think you can do that?"

He nods his head, his bottom lip trembling as he looks down... When I realize he's barefoot, I feel guilty for making him run."Where is Dad?" he asks, his voice sounding so young and hopeless. He glances at me again, his dark eyes shining against the light. "Why are those people here? Why are they after us?"

"I don't know," I admit softly, feeling guilty that I can't do more for him. "But it will be alright," I reassure him with a little smile that feels so forced. "We'll just—"

I stop short when I hear foot steps and I crouch down even more.


"No," I say sharply, tugging Ethan back when Blaise comes into view.

He looks worse for the wear with some blood at the corner of his lip and the sleeve of his right arm in tatters. His golden eyes have that dead look in them he gets every time he's angry and he glances at his watch, tapping it a few times before turning and looking right at us. His eyes soften the slightest bit and he holds out his hand with a relieved sigh.

"Thank God," he says as he pulls me to my feet. I'm skeptical for half a second until he gives me this look... This completely Blaise look that could belong to no other. "Can you fucking believe this?" he asks, kissing me hard before bending down and picking up Ethan. "Are you alright?" He pulls back like he just realized he should ask, his wand hand squeezing Ethan's bare foot as he looks him over. "You're not hurt?"

"No," I answer for the both of us as I reach out to touch Ethan's back. "Who are these people? They came to the house..."

"How did they break our wards?" he asks, his voice suddenly incredibly serious and his golden eyes narrowed. "We put them up ourselves."

"They didn't have to try very hard," I admit, blinking a few times as I remember the stranger with his sharp features that were very nearly handsome had the situation been different. "Ethan opened the garage door..."

"I thought it was you," Ethan admits, his voice sounding guilty. I kiss his head so he doesn't feel bad. "The man did the knock and everything."

"A man? What man?" he asks sharply, his voice now angry in it's intensity. "What man, Ginny?"

"It was some blond guy," I admit and something in his face changes... that dead look comes back. "The woman called him Draco."

Draco... The name rings through my mind, waking up memories so deep I can hardly see them rise.

"He knew you," I add, furrowing my brows. "He claimed to know all of us." I open my mouth to tell him of the troubling and awful things the man had said...about me and Ethan and what he thought he was to us... but Blaise takes my hand instead.

"Come on," he says as he starts dragging me away. "There will be more men coming. They put up a ward so we can't Apparate out, but if we get far enough- away we can get out of here. I know of a place we'll be safe."

We run and run and run... with curses flying overhead like fireworks. I can see other men and women in midnight blue robes like the one's Blaise wears to work, fighting against the black cloaks...but I don't have time to question it because I can see the end of the wards they set up. It burns yellow against the ground and the air shimmers lightly, like a wall made of magical bricks to keep us in. Just before we reach the end of the blockade, a pillar of smoke passes from above and lands with a cement cracking thud against the street right in front of us.

Once the smoke clears, the blond man emerges looking even worse than Blaise does.

Some of his hair is matted with dark red blood and there's an open cut on his forehead that's dripping blood down his face. When he looks at me, my heart thumps and I swallow hard because his gray eyes are blazing with a betrayal I could never understand.

"Ah, Malfoy," Blaise starts, his voice light and mocking. I narrow my eyes when he turns to hand me Ethan because he sounds familiar with the stranger. "Come to visit after all these years? That was a nice trick with the smoke, by the way," he says, stepping back as I cradle Ethan's head. "But I guess it is in your blood-"

The blond shoots a curse meant to hit Blaise in the chest, but Blaise is able to deflect it... causing it to shoot off to the right where I'm standing with Ethan. It grazes my arm and I shout as I fall back, landing hard on my backside and trying to make it so I don't drop Ethan, but he's hurt anyways... hurt and frightened and he starts crying loudly...All the emotions he had been bottling up during this nightmare come to the surface as he sobs against me with his face in the crook of my neck as he lets the wand he's been holding on to clatter to the ground.

The men start fighting as I scramble to get us out of the way. Colorful curses go flying back and forth in a wizard's duel that is violent and beyond respect with the unforgiviables they were trying to hit each other with. Blaise got hit in the arm and then in the shoulder and in return he hit the stranger with an awful curse that got him in the leg. It made him drop to his knees for a moment with blood pooling on the asphalt underneath him before his rage took over and he stood up, charging Blaise and shooting curse after curse with a deadly persistence that was almost scary to watch.

Blaise was able to hold his own, though, and he fought back with just as much determination. While the stranger handled himself with a calculating skill, Blaise was like a butcher, his wand work choppy and out of practice...It made sense somehow. The way they were fighting... fitting for the men that they were.

You don't even know him... I chastise myself and I shake away memories that my body had no business having.

I should do something... I should help... but with Ethan so frightened and refusing to let me go I know I can't... The best I can do is get him away from the carnage and I look at the shimmering ward just a few yards away. It's so close... I glance at Blaise, waiting for him to notice me... to see what I intend to do... but he's too focused on the stranger to even notice.

He would want Ethan out of harms way.

I know that for sure.

I make a quick decision and start running towards the barrier, but Ethan starts screaming and I turn around just in time to see Blaise fall. His head smacking against the pavement and his wand rolling from slack fingers.


I put Ethan down and level my wand at the blond with every intention of killing him... But my wand hand hesitates and it gives him just enough time to look over his shoulder and see what I intend to do

"Of course," he snaps, lowering his wand as he wipes blood from his face. "This isn't exactly the reunion I had envisioned, but somehow I find it completely fitting."

"Is he dead?" I ask, my voice a strangled whisper as I glance at Blaise's body.

"Not yet." The strangers voice is bitter and then his sharp eyes look to Ethan who has gone stone still by my side. "You've always had one major flaw, Ginny," he says, his voice taking a softer tone. "You've always hesitated at the worst possible moments."

Something hits the back of my neck and I gasp, bringing my hand up to cover the spot and pulling back to find blood on my fingers.

"What?" I whisper, trying to grab onto Ethan, but my fingers are numb and my vision starts to blur as black cloaks surround us, swarming like flies.

The stranger comes towards me... Draco comes towards me... and he plucks the wand from my fingers before brushing hair away from my face. I don't even put up a fight, my head feels so fuzzy.

"You've grown up so beautifully," he says gently, his voice sweet like it was in a dream.

I think we could be great together.... His voice feels like velvet... His voice... feels like velvet? God, what did they hit me with?

I blink to stay focused and then I hear a cuss when a spell shoots from my side. Ethan. He used the stinging curse his father had taught him and when Draco jumps back,Ethan grabs my arm, desperately calling to me in my haze. Mom, please... Mommy, you're bleeding...There's a commotion and a fight ensues, but I can't focus on anything but my own overlapping thoughts that are dark and full of steam.

Get him... Don't let him go...

My movements are sluggish and my reactions are slow... I don't even blink when a spell shoots from the right and hits Ethan in his little chest. It makes a cracking noise and Ethan makes an awful sound before falling to the ground. I come to long enough to catch him and I stare, blinking furiously as I try to come out of my daze.

"Goddamnit," Draco says, hitting the curse thrower with an awful spell that makes her scream. "You can not hit children with curses that strong."

"Is he dead?" I ask, my voice detached and hardly feeling anything as I stare down at Ethan. You are going to feel this, Ginny... the voice in my head taunts... It's going to hit you like a tidal wave...

"Of course not," Draco snaps, his voice turning sharp again as he bends down to lift Ethan from my arms. "He's mine," he says, like it explained everything and he pulls me up with a yank.

I grab his arm when I stumble and he stares me down before bringing his hand up to run his thumb over my chin, passing over my lower lip and pulling it down for one second before letting it pop into place with a his brows furrowed.

"I know this is hard for you to understand right now," he starts, his brow raised. "You loved me once," he says, with Ethan passed out against his chest. "You will remember that in time."

He steps back then, and nods to one of the cloaks.

"Put the bracelets on her," he says as someone approaches me from the side. "She's going to pass out."

I don't fight it. I let a baby faced man put two golden hoops around my wrists and when he cinches them with magic to fit snugly, I smirk because it feels funny.

"Magic," I say and the baby faced man shakes his head.

"No magic," he says. "Not for you, anyways."

Not for you...

I close my eyes for a moment and think of magic inside and all around.

No magic... The inner voice whispers...Not yet.

Another cloak takes my arm to steer me towards an Apparation zone and I watch the back of Draco Malfoy as he carries my Ethan.

You loved me once...

I twitch, rubbing out my right eye with the palm of my shackled hand.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

I think of a harsh kiss with music blaring loud in the background. It was a demanding kiss that hurt and nearly drew blood when sharp teeth bit down on my lower lip.

You have your rules, I have mine.

A tug of hair a few sharp words... a jumbled mind of a drunken girl.

I'm not a child...


He stops and looks at me over his shoulder just in front of the shimmering ward with a brow arched in surprise.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

You loved me once.

"What?" he asks shortly when I don't respond right away and I blink slowly, feeling the darkness take me.

"It was just dancing..." I say with a furrowed brow. He gives the man beside him a concerned look before coming towards me with Ethan dangling like a doll in his arms.


"It was just fun..." I whisper and he now looks worried.

It wasn't fun for me...I would appreciate it if you wouldn't do it again.

"It's not like we're official," I reply to the voices in my head.

"She's delirious," one of them say and I look to Ethan, dead asleep in his thermal pj's.

You're delirious... You're mad... You loved me once... Do you remember?

Those words aren't mine... They aren't his either and I blink a few times.

Do you remember?

"I remember," I whisper, but it wasn't the blond I was talking to because I wasn't in my little Virginia neighborhood anymore.

Gone were the black cloaks and the blond named Draco Malfoy who was holding my son... It all fades away until I'm standing in a field surrounded by black hills that rise from the earth like stone giants against an overcast sky. There are dark clouds rolling in from the west and my dress is swirling around me in a flurry of golden silk brocade and red velvet.

"I've always liked you in red," the man says with a sardonic smile.

He stands a foot taller than me, decked out in all black with the house sigil of two dragons intertwined on his chest plate. He's a big man, a strong man, with gray-green eyes and brown hair just brushing his cheek bones.

"I imagine I'd like you in red too," I respond, a sly smile of my own.

"You already know," he starts with a smirk, a beard two days grown on his tired face. "I don't wear red."

"You will," I answer, smiling sweetly in the way that he likes.

He's clever enough to detect the threat behind all the honey in my voice and he shifts uncomfortably for a moment because he knows... He knows that I know what he has done and I will never forgive him for it. He's serious now, more serious than he has ever been before.

"Did you expect a different outcome?" he asks, his voice bitter and dark. "You dishonored me, you dishonored my family... you dishonored yourself."

"No," I say gently, tilting my chin down when the wind picks up, sending my hair blowing behind me in wild waves of red. "It was Merek who dishonored me," I tell him, my voice light and playful as I watch his eyes darken. "Many... Many... times. In fact, he dishonored me so often it is a wonder I can even walk properly."

I nearly giggle in pleasure at the jealousy that flares in his eyes. How easy it is to provoke a temperamental man.

"You were promised to me," he says, his voice a strangled calm of an irate killer.

"I made no such promise."

"Your father-"

"My father has no right to promise me to anyone." I cut him off, for a moment my emotions getting the better of me because it was such a sore subject. I take a moment to collect myself, smoothing down my skirt and smiling again. "Especially not to someone like you."

"Someone like me?" He questions sharply. "And what am I?"

What am I?

I look at his long sword and that freshly used wand he murdered my Merek in cold blood with.

"Weak," I answer after a short pause, looking at him and blinking. "So very weak."

The rage was back, a torrent of emotions behind his gray-green eyes.

"You gave up your honor to a lowborn half blood," he says with intent to hurt and humiliate. "What does that make you?"

"I gave him more than my honor," I tease with my brows up as he gives me a disgusted look. "I suspect that makes me something vile."

Smile with vile wiles, child...

"He gave up some things too," he snaps, his right hand on the hilt of his shining sword. "His head, for instance. He gave that up rather easily. You should have seen the magic he was throwing at me. Pathetic sparks with a silly twig...and he begged. Oh, how he begged for his life before I was through."

I don't reply to that, I just stare at him. He's nearly heaving now, his eyes wild and his face red with barely concealed emotions of anger and pain... and something else I refuse to identify because he doesn't deserve to have it. He watches me closely, his eyes dancing over me like he was waiting for something... anything.. to show how he had affected me.

Time passes slowly as the wind swirls around us until finally I find it in me to speak.

"Do you expect me to cry?" I ask because I would never give him the satisfaction of seeing my grief. "Or shall I throw myself on the ground and tear out my hair like a proper lady?"

"Perhaps you should think about throwing yourself at my feet and begging for mercy," he says as he takes out his wand.

I would laugh if the situation wasn't so very serious. I'm sure Lancaster wouldn't appreciate it.

"I'm not one for begging," I tell him. "Or mercy," I add and then I hesitate a second before taking a step closer, my slippered feet light against the the hard ground. "But I wouldn't be against watching you beg on your knees."

He grabs my arm at that and yanks me close.

Like all rage filled men, he uses his size to intimidate and when his grip becomes iron tight, I don't even bat an eyelash.

I've had my share of brutes.

"You're hurting my arm," I say flatly, watching his lip curl up in a sneer. He was handsome, Lancaster of house Malfoy. He could have been much more than he allowed himself to be.

"Do you have any idea what you do to people?" he asks, shaking me violently and wanting me to bear witness to his rant. "Why are you like this?" he snaps, pushing me away until I stumble and fall on the ground. "You play with people. You twist their emotions and push them into doing things . Awful things... and you don't even care."

I stare up at him. He wants something from me... He would have tried to kill me if he didn't care. But he does... He still does and I know the best way to a brutish man's heart. My lower lip starts to tremble, my eyes begin to water, and I use the oldest womanly trick in history.

I start crying.

"Stop it," he hisses at me as grabs my arm again to pull me to my feet. "Stop crying."

"I don't know why I am the way I am," I say through thick tears and snot. "But you didn't have to kill him!"

"Everyone knows you ran off with him and it's known you're promised to me," he says, his voice changing to something much more softer. "I had no choice."

Wonderful logic.

"I know," I whisper, staring at his throat with tear blurred eyes.

I look down and start sobbing, my shoulders shaking as I try to wipe away tears. I lean into him, and after a few moments of hesitation, he loosens his grip on my arm. Instead of grabbing me, he was holding me. I hide away a smile as I bury my face into his chest because above all his anger and resentment, Lancaster Malfoy wanted nothing more than for me to love him.

Because he was weak in the way that most men are weak.

"Did you really love him that much?" he asks, his voice softer than before. "You hardly knew him."

I shrug and wipe away more pathetic tears. He hooks his fingers under my chin to tilt my chin up until I'm looking into his eyes.

"You loved me once," he says, his voice soft and with out anger. "Do you remember?"

"I remember," I say, letting my eyes trail down to his lips.

He has a full lower lip and for a moment I try to remember the way he tastes...

"It was him, wasn't it?" He says, willing to put the blame on anything and anyone to make my betrayal of his fragile feelings not his fault...or mine... because like all warriors he still wants to be a conqueror... and everyone knows you can only conquer a woman with love. "He's been putting those thoughts into your mind again."

I think of Edmund. The way he walks and talks in my dreams...


"I will kill him."

"You can't kill what's already dead," I say softly, my voice dream like and far away because I was already dead too, he just didn't know it yet.

He starts looking at me like he used to, long before I decided I wanted nothing to do with him.

"Did you really lay with him?" he asks, his voice half full of heartache.

"No," I lie because it's what he wants to hear. If he only knew how many man I've had... he would probably fall on his own sword. "I shouldn't have even said that. I was just angry."

He wants to believe me so badly he's willing to accept any lie...It's like all my worth, and all his love, depended on whether or not I would spread my legs for a man not assigned to me by people I never even liked. I was reminded, not for the first time, how pathetic the male sex could be and when he kisses me as an answer, I nearly smirk in victory because Lancaster didn't know it—but I was warrior too. Only my game was much more deadlier than his.

"We will tell everyone that the half-blood bewitched you," he says when he pulls back, running his nose over mine and pressing another quick kiss to the corner of my mouth with a hand tangled in my hair. "My father will accept that answer because he wants peace with your family."

"And what of us?" I ask.

"We will find a way."

Yes, we will.

"Do you remember last summer?" I ask softly, my voice barely above a whisper. I smile at the thought. "The first time you kissed me..." He smiles a little too, it's not unpleasant. "Let's go back there," I say, taking his hand and intertwining our fingers. "Back to the cavern."

The cavern.

The cave.

The most perfect place in the the entire world.

He's pleased to follow me... Thinking that I will give him something he feels he deserves. There's a cavern under the hills that runs deep into the earth where a small pond of the clearest blue water rests undisturbed. Stairs had been etched into the earth long ago and I start running into the darkness with my wand igniting ancient torches to light our way. Lancaster grabs me before we reach our destination and pulls me into a another fiery kiss, completely lost in a dream as my laughs echos off of the high ceilings.

"Just think," he says, playing with my hair with a handsome smile. "This could all be ours once we're married. All the fighting will stop when we have children."

Men are so stupid.

"Wouldn't it be nice," I say softly as I back up and start untying the front of my dress as he watches me with darkened eyes. "I have a gift for you."

And that gift will never be children.

"Do you?" he asks with a smile, thinking I mean to offer him my body.

"Look at the water," I say and he smirks before doing as I ask and turning towards the water that glows unnaturally bright in the darkness. "No peeking."

I pull out my wand and with a spell, the bodies come floating to the surface of the pond. It takes a moment for Lancaster to see them, and when he does, I smile.


He recognizes one of the bodies... a head of fine blond hair tied in green ribbons laying face first in the water... He wades into pond to turn over the bloated mess, a feral yell leaving his throat as he looks upon his dead little sister. Only six with gray-green eyes and a slit throat looking so very pale...

Then he notices the others.

A dozen of his family members surround him, turning the blue water red with their blood.

"You don't seem to be enjoying my gift," I say, savoring that look on his face when he finally turns to me with hopeless, glassy eyes very near tears. "Did you think really think I would be okay with you murdering my lover just because you were feeling slighted? I thought you knew me better than that."

No one knows me at all.

He doesn't have words left and I laugh a little before turning around to leave him in the cave to be miserable in the shock before the magic wears off. Right before I reach the stairs, I hear him coming for me with stomps of his hard boots like thunder against the cave floor. I turn around to taunt him more, but he was closer than I had realized and his long sword went right through my gut.

I don't feel anything at first and I start laughing when the blood gurgles up my throat.

"You're mad," he says as I laugh and laugh and laugh. "You're delirious."

You loved me once.

"It was just fun..." I whisper with a crooked smile. "They begged," I say around another laugh as I grab the hilt of his sword to push it in further. "Oh, how they begged for their lives before I was through."

In a fit of anger and despair, Lancaster pulls the the sword from my body and then he starts hacking at me like an unskilled butcher.

"You loved me once!" I mock his pathetic words with each swing of his sword. "You loved me one. You loved me once. You loved me once. You loved me once. You loved me once. You loved me once."

I laugh the entire time as he slashes at my skin, tearing off my arm, and hacking through my ribcage, breaking bones and tearing muscle, until finally his anger brings him to the place where he can take my head from my shoulders with ease, leaving a good chunk of my red hair stuck to the blood on his messy blade.

He's always had such an awful temper.

You loved me once... the words were echoing in the cave all around us and getting inside his simple little head... You loved me once....

When his blood lust was sated, he was near mad with grief as he turned back to the pool where his dead family was... and suddenly he realized why I was laughing so hard. The bodies disappeared with my dying magic and he looked so forlorn to know that it was just a trick... just a bit of fun... and I had gotten him good.

My blood ran from his long sword and down on to the cavern floor as glittering eyes watched from the shadows. He let out a deafening wail before falling to his knees with my body behind him, completely sliced apart and in pieces.

You loved me once... Do you remember?

It was funny because it was the greatest revenge I could ever get on him. Because Lancaster was a big dumb animal. A big, dumb, jealous animal that had more feelings than a man his size should and absolutely no impulse control.

The glittering eyes in the darkness watch as Lancaster panics and stumble from the cave...tripping over my remains and getting sick over his violence. I would laugh if I could, but I can't, so I don't and the eyes watch as I look over myself, strewn about the cavern floor in bloody pieces...and suddenly a story pops into my mind, a little tale sung to me as a child on my mother's lap.

"What are you reading?"

"A book about magic."

"What kind of magic?"

"All kinds," answered the boy.

"Who would give a young boy such a dangerous thing?"

"Books aren't dangerous," the boy replied with a frown.

"Ah," the crow said. "Books are sharper than any sword, mightier than any wand, and greater than any man. In fact, the wrong book can corrupt even the purest mind if given half the chance."

"What if one was corrupted already?" the boy asked and the crow tilted it's head. "What damage could a book do then?"

The crow had no answer and the boy removed the wand from his pocket, sending a deadly curse right at the bird's chest. The boy watched with shining red eyes as the crow fell on it's back with it's wings outstretched against the grass. He smiled as he stood and picked the creature up by it's feet with the magic book tucked under his arm as he made his way back home.

The boy knew books themselves weren't dangerous. Books were like food, made to be devoured by a hungry public willing to read them to satisfy their appetite. The pen was much mightier than the sword, for sure. The right words could send a whole nation to war, but they had to be strung together in the right way to sway the hearts of the people in one direction or the other. If a sword was nothing without a knight to swing it, than surly a pen was nothing without it's writer.

The boy wondered, if a book was corrupt, then perhaps it could be likened to spoiled meat that people would pay to consume because they were hungry for it already... and if that was the case then the writer himself was the hunter and cook of such a dish so willingly eaten by the masses. Who was to blame, then? Surly it wasn't the books fault for it's content. After all, a book was nothing but paper and ink... but was it the patrons of such atrocity, or the chef that served them what they wanted that truly was at fault?

The boy wasn't sure.

Later that night, as he sat at the table with his mother to eat the crow he had killed, surrounded by books he had read a million times over... he realized it didn't really matter what the answer was...writer, reader, content... He was in good company and the boy smiled at the thought because the boy named Edmund was corrupt already and books were just his tools to get where he wanted to go.

"You loved me once," his mother said, worried to see such a smile on her son's face. "Do you remember?"

"No," The boy named Edmund replied with red eyes glowing. "I've never loved anything at all."

I've never loved anything at all... the darkness whispers before pulling me under.