Violently, I wake up. My thrashing limbs have kicked the sheets from my body. My throat is dry from screaming. I was very young when the dreams first began. I've dreamt of dying in almost each and every one of my dreams. The Killing Curse, bullet to the brain, knife through the heart, there are so many possible ways to die, and by my teenage years I had experienced all of them. I've dreamt the same scene so many times. A year ago, one of my older cousins, Louis Weasley, was reaped for the Wizarding Games. And he didn't come home.
The Wizarding Games were the sole product of Voldemort's sick and twisted mind. The Games were created because twelve years ago, my father disappeared. He abandoned my mother, my brothers and I, and we haven't heard from him since. No one has seen or heard from Harry Potter in twelve years, but Voldemort thinks that this is false. As punishment, each of the ten districts must offer up a girl and a boy from the ages of thirteen to seventeen to compete in the Wizarding Games. The Wizarding Games are a fight to the death, until only one lone victor remains. This is the eleventh year of the Games.
I try to calm myself, breathing heavily I run my fingers through my hair and fall back against my pillows.
My door creaks open, "Lily?" James, my oldest brother asks, "Are you alright? Did you have another nightmare?"
I nod slowly. He flips on the light, and sits on the edge of my bed. He cracks a smile at me and ruffles my hair. When we were little, our father would tuck us in every night. He would search my room for monsters. After he left, James would come in and search the room for monsters sometimes, and on nights where the only thing I could hear and see was the headlines from the Daily Prophet or the horrible images on the television, James would stay with me.
"I just wish I could stop dreaming about what happened to him," I say, exhausted from my lack of peaceful sleep.
We knew that Louis didn't have much of a chance when he was reaped. Voldemort has too much hatred for the Potter's and the Weasley's. When I was little, I dreamt about the Games a lot, even though my brothers and my family did all they could to shelter me from it. After Louis' death, I dreamt of the Games for the first few months following his death. But today, something has brought it back. It's reaping day.
James nods, and squeezes my knee. "Whenever I have a bad dream, I like to think about all the good things I've seen people do. I make a mental list of every little thing. It helps, Lils."
I nod, "I'll try that next time, Jamie. What time is it?"
"Around six thirty," He answers.
I swallow hard, "I only have until ten."
I start to get out of bed, but James squeezes my knee again. He says, "Lily, you're not going to be chosen. It'll be okay, just get some more rest. I've been through all four years of this worrying, and I can tell you that a good night's sleep helps a lot."
I look up at him, "Will you wake me soon? I want to see everyone before I have to leave."
He nods. I lie back and bury my face in my pillow. James is right, a few hours of good sleep will help. He pulls my discarded blankets up, and proceeds to tuck me in. I laugh a little and even James cracks a smile. He grins at me and says, "Sleep tight Lilsy."
I throw one of my pillows at his head. He ducks easily, laughing heartily. He switches the light off and leaves me to my thoughts.
I close my eyes, and try to think of all the good things that I've ever seen. But the only thing that I can think about is my father. He left when James was seven, Albus was six, and I was five. When he left, he left us behind a great deal of money. Enough money that my mother, James, Albus and I will never have to worry or want for anything. Some of us have still obtained jobs just to fill the time. Teddy owns a restaurant on the outskirts of our district. James and Fred are now the proud owners of Uncle George's and deceased Uncle Fred's jokeshop. Even Albus works at a store run by the Pierce siblings, Logan and Rae. We still reside in Godric's Hollow, also commonly called the second district. We still live in the same two story home we lived in long before my father abandoned us. James, Albus and I have went to Hogwarts each year like any regular and normal children. But we're not normal.
I'm painfully reminded of our abnormality each father's day, each birthday, each holiday. Even on normal days, I'm reminded that there's a huge piece missing from my life. My father has missed out on so much. James is expecting his first child, Albus swears that he's found the love of his life in Rae Pierce, and in a few months, on October thirty-first, I will be seventeen.
I squeeze my eyes shut, and try my hardest to fall asleep.
When I open my eyes again it's eight thirty. Breakfast will be ready soon, and I'm quite ready for this day to be over already. I get up quickly and head to my bathroom. When I see my reflection in the mirror I halt. My face is white, even though I know that it's thoroughly tanned from a summer spent outdoors. My eyes are wide and startlingly green, they are haunted by both my past and my future.
I get into the shower, turning it to a searing hot. But the warmth does nothing to soothe my nerves. After I'm clean, I let the water flow over my naked body. I let it wash away my nightmare and any thoughts of my father.
I pull on a simple white dress with a high neckline, and call for someone to come zip the back for me. Chloe walks into my bathroom, sleepily rubbing her eyes. She yawns a greeting towards me, and zips up my dress.
Chloe is an orphan, she has no brothers and no sisters. She and James met at Hogwarts in James' first year and Chloe's second. At first, Chloe and James were very close friends. He followed that girl wherever she went, and when my mother learned of Chloe's predicament, she started letting Chloe come home with James for holidays and the summer. Soon enough, Chloe moved in with us permanently. Things didn't start changing for Chloe and James until James' last year at Hogwarts, I remember it well because he was very moody being away from her. After he graduated, they steadily started dating, and now, two years later, they are expecting their first child together and are engaged to be married.
Over the years, Chloe has become like a big sister to me, which was nice considering I lived with two teenage boys for the majority of my life. She smiles at me, and rests a hand on her stomach.
"Breakfast will be ready soon," She reminds me.
I nod, I can smell it from here. "Thanks for your help Chloe."
She smiles softly at me. Chloe is beautiful, in every sense of the word. She has long and wavy brown hair, and soft blue eyes. In pregnancy, Chloe has only grown more beautiful. It suits her well. She has a glow in her cheeks that only an expecting mother can have, and for a moment I envy her.
"How are you doing with today?" She asks me.
Magically I dry my hair, and it falls straight down my back. I shrug and begin to brush my teeth to avoid answering her question. She smiles understandingly and says, "Okay, if there's anything you want to talk about you can come to me."
I nod, and wrap my arms around her. She laughs as I get a drop of toothpaste on her oversized tee shirt, and I give her an apologetic smile. She squeezes my shoulder and heads back downstairs.
After brushing my teeth, I apply mascara and chapstick, before I take one last look in the mirror. I chew on my lip, there's one thing I want to do before breakfast.
I head downstairs, where the smell of food is even stronger. I head for the big bay window by the living room, looking out to see the silence before the storm. On reaping day, no one is allowed outside until the bell tolls, otherwise the punishment could mean death. Of course, that's only if you're unfortunate enough to be caught.
My eyes rest on the large house across the street from me, Malfoy Manor. Scorpius Malfoy, my best friend since I was in diapers and my boyfriend of almost two years lives there. His house is usually calm, except on reaping days. His grandfather, former Death Eater Lucius Malfoy has gone a bit loopy since the Battle of Hogwarts, and on occasions like today his temperament is even worse than usual. Narcissa has stayed married to him throughout all of it, and now they both live with Draco, Astoria and Scorpius.
I crack open the window, sometimes you can hear Lucius shouting from here. Today is no exception.
"It is a disgrace!" Lucius shouts and I wince.
The majority of Lucius' and Scorpius' arguments are because of me. Lucius severely disapproves mine and Scorpius' romantic relationship, seeing that I am related to Harry Potter. I'm not sure if Lucius remembers what his wife did for my father during the Battle of Hogwarts, but I think even if he did his mind would have twisted it by now.
"Grandfather," I can hear Scorpius' voice rising, "She is not a disgrace."
"She is! She is! She is!" Lucius shouts.
I groan. Sometimes, it helps that I'm there during the fight. It helps Scorpius keep his temper in check and it helps that I'm there to reassure Lucius that I am no threat to him or his family. But today it would be too dangerous to risk going outside.
And besides, I have responsibilities to my family today. Mostly, to my younger cousin Lucy. She just turned thirteen in the spring, making her an eligible tribute for the first time this year. She's the youngest child of my Uncle Bill and Fleur Weasley's, and also sister to Louis. This day must be especially hard for her.
I'm sure that Narcissa, Astoria and Draco will diffuse situation before it escalates too far.
"You know," Al says from behind me, "Stalking is a very unhealthy habit."
I nearly jump a mile. I turn around and smack at his arm. Today I'm on edge even more than usual.
"I am not stalking you prat," I glare at my older brother, "Scaring people is not a good habit either."
He chuckles and ruffles my hair. This seems to be James and Albus' universal sign of affection, and for a moment I feel bad for Chloe and Rae.
"I wasn't trying to scare you. Mum sent me in here to inform you that breakfast is ready,"
I nod and force a smile, "Good, I'm starving."
I'm really not. But, I know I need my strength for today especially.
Mum has gone all out this year with our pre reaping feast. When James and Albus were eligible for the Games, she made a huge breakfast to cheer them up, and the tradition has stuck through for my eligibility as well. It consists of crepes, scrambled eggs, bacon, coffee, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, toast, sausage, hashbrowns and black pudding. Mum is under the impression that a full stomach helps with nerves, but, in all honesty, it makes the butterflies in my stomach worse.
I sit down next to the empty head of the table, it was once my father's seat. Mum sits at the opposite head, and James and Albus sit next to me. Chloe and Rae sit across from us, and sometimes when he joins us, Scorpius sits across from me.
Today, Chloe is here, but Rae is not. She must be spending the morning with her brother Logan at the store. Chloe is already sitting down, sipping at a small mug of coffee. She's smiling brightly, I think she's good for James, she's like the ray of sun that he needs in his life.
We make small talk throughout the meal. Mum asks Chloe multiple times about the baby and the upcoming wedding. Chloe announces that she and James still haven't set a date for the wedding, even though they have been engaged for almost half a year now. Secretly, I think that Chloe wants to wait until the baby comes. Mum also asks Albus about Rae, which he responds with his mouth full of food that he and Rae are dating steadily. Mum asks me about Scorpius, and I answer that we are just fine. I would love to elaborate to my mother on how I think that I'm going to marry him one day, but I don't want her to get too excited and start planning our wedding. She asks me about schooling as well and my plans for the year, and I tell her that as long as Roxanne, Dominique and I are not reaped today, that we will most likely be returning to Hogwarts after the Games have come to a close.
After we are all finished, Mum asks James and Albus to help her clean up. Of course, I volunteer to help as well. It'll help me keep my mind off of things. While Chloe goes to lie down for a few minutes and then change.
After we have cleared all the dishes off the table and straightened it, mostly using my brothers magic, my Mum calls me into the kitchen. I walk in, not quite sure what I'm about to walk into.
My mother smiles at me, a soft and reserved smile. She's not exactly as fiery as she used to be back in her Hogwarts days, at least that's what Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione have told me.
"You look beautiful today, so grown up. The time just flew by, just yesterday I could have sworn I was taking you to Hogsmeade to buy your first schooling supplies and now… Well, I have something for you," She says, pulling a small box out of her pocket, "This is for you, my darling little girl."
She motions for me to turn around, and when I do she reaches up and clasps something around my neck. She pulls me towards the toaster so I can look at it. It's a beautiful pinkish and square gem necklace.
"It's an opal," She tells me, smoothing my hair down. "It's your birthstone."
I turn around and hug her. Despite being a single mother most of her life, Mum has done an amazing job. Growing up, she always made sure that James, Albus and I were well taken care of and that we had no unfulfilled wants or needs. She is the strongest woman that I know, and I'm so proud to have her as my mother.
"Thank you," I say, wrapping my arms even tighter around her neck. It's funny, because she was always taller than me until just this past summer. It's weird, being taller than your parent. "I love it, it's perfect."
She smiles at me, "You just don't have a lot of nice jewelry, and I wanted to make sure that your first nice piece came from me. And since it's from me, I believe that it will protect you just as much as I have over the past few years. I can see how much you're worrying about today," She pauses to brush a piece of hair out of my face, "but honey, you are so strong. You are not going to be reaped today, and even if you were you would win. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you would win."
I try to give her a smile, but it feels fake on my lips. "Thanks Mum."
The bell from the town square tolls, and I look at my mother, alarmed.
"I have something to do," I tell her, "I'll catch up with you later."
She nods and squeezes my arm, "Alright, just make sure that you're not late today."
I give her a reassuring smile and walk away. I hastily make my way next door, where my adoptive brother Teddy lives with his wife Victoire, their daughter Kaitlyn Lee, and Victoire's two younger sisters Dominique and Lucy. Dominique and Lucy usually live with their parents, however this summer they decided to stay with their eldest sibling, probably because of the quietness in France since Louis' death. Quiet is not something that any member of my family does well, so I think it helps to fill the gap for Dominique and Lucy.
"Lucy?" I call out as I enter my brother's house.
Lucy is tieing her sneakers as I step in. She looks older today, she's the baby of the family, and it's weird seeing her look so mature. Her hair is curled beautifully, most likely thanks to Victoire or Dominique, and she's dressed in a sea green dress that brings out her eyes.
"Lily, is that you?" Victoire smiles as she walks into the room.
"Yes, I thought I'd stop by to see Lucy before the reaping." I say, moving to hug my cousin and sister in law.
She smiles and hugs me back with one hand, the other is holding Kaitlyn's hand. Kaitlyn is six years old now, with blonde curls and blue eyes she is already so beautiful. She's one-sixteenth veela so I'm not exactly sure how her veela genes have dominated Teddy's, but it's clear. She's so charming already.
"That's so nice of you," Victoire says smiling, "We're just waiting for Teddy to get here, he's running a bit late. He slept at the restaurant last night, he had a lot of business last night and just couldn't get his work done by the time we were supposed to be inside for the night."
I nod, "Yeah, it'd be great to see Teddy before the reaping. But we should probably go soon, we don't want to be late."
Victoire glances down at the expensive watch on her wrist, a present from my brother. "It's that late already? Well I guess I'll just have to bring Katie here with us,"
I glance down at Kaitlyn. She's never been to a reaping before, and she's much too young to witness that. She knows of the Games, but she has never watched any part of it.
"I can go with Lucy if you want to stay here with Katie," I offer, "I'll keep an eye on her since I'm guessing Dom went with Roxanne."
Victoire nods, "That would be great. Lucy are you ready to leave?"
Lucy looks up at us. She's so young. She looks like a deer caught in headlights, she's too young for this. We both are too young for this. She has goosebumps on her arm, so I grab a black jacket from the coat rack and hand it to her before we walk out. She gratefully takes it, and zips it up as we walk.
As we near closer to the town square, she starts to shake and her breathing quickens. I look over to her and reach out my hand. She takes it and holds on tight. I look at her and say, "Don't be nervous, Luc. I doubt that you will be picked, if anyone out of our family will be reaped, it's me."
She shakes her head, "I don't think that you'll be picked, Lily."
I smile at her and swallow hard. "Well I wish that I had the same confidence that you do. Be brave, it's not useful to be afraid. Voldemort feeds off of our fear,"
She nods grimly and holds her head up high as we reach the crowd. I lead Lucy to the second to front row of girls lined up, where Dominique and Roxanne are standing. Dominique smiles at her younger sister and motions for Lucy to join her. I smile at Lucy one last time, and reassure her that she will be just fine.
Secretly, I'm thankful that Dominique can keep an eye on Lucy for the time being. I want to see Scorpius before the reaping. I go to the front row and stand on my tip toes, looking over several boys. But I don't see him before Voldemort steps onto the stage.
Godrics Hollow is the only District that Voldemort visits personally for the reapings, I think it's because this is where most of the Weasley and Potter clan resides.
His red eyes survey the ground, he looks like he's searching for something. When his eyes rest on my face, he looks like he's found it. I am the last Potter to be in the reaping, and that makes me nervous to no end.
"You are all aware of why we have these games. It is the proper punishment for your cowardice in protecting the whereabouts of Harry James Potter. Again, as I do every year, I will offer you all the chance to save your loved ones, being the merciful Lord that I am. Would anyone like to come forward today?" Voldemort's voice booms loudly. Next to me, a young girl is cowering. Of course, silence resounds around the square. No one knows where my father is, if they did they would have come forward a long time ago. If I knew, even I would come forward to end this madness. "Very well, I see that you have all made your decision for this year. We'll start with the boys,"
Voldemort strides towards the table and goes to the first large glass bowl. He sticks his hand inside, and moves it around for a minute, before he retrieves a piece of paper. He unfolds it, and a large, twisted smile cross his face. He's happy with this year's tribute for the Games.
"Scorpius Malfoy," He says, his voice booming across the square.
I look around wildly and finally I am able to spot him. Scorpius walks on stage slowly, his grey eyes wide with an emotion that I can't quite explain and that I doubt he would be able to explain either. I watch as he practically walks to his death as he moves to stand beside Voldemort. Scorpius is looking for me now, I can tell. I swallow hard, this can't be happening.
Voldemort moves to the second glass bowl and grabs another piece of paper. As he unfolds it, the same delighted smile crosses his face and I know immediately that it's someone from my family.
I turn around horrified. Lucy looks around wildly, she's shaking erratically now. Dominique looks at her younger sister, and I know what thought is going through her head. After losing her brother, she's about to lose another sibling to the Games. Lucy starts to move, she starts to walk away. I look forward again and I catch Scorpius' eye. He looks at me and starts to mouth something, but I turn away again. I reach out my arm, and stop Lucy from passing through. Dominique opens her mouth and I know what she's about to do, but I can't let her do it. For Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur and Lucy and Victoire and Dominique's sake, I can't let any of this happen.
"I volunteer as tribute," I yell.
Voldemort's eyes look down at me, and I can tell he's even more delighted with this turn of events. Scorpius looks like he wants to pass out, he's shaking his head at me and urging me to take it back but I won't. I can't.
"No!" Lucy shrieks from behind me, "I'll do it!"
Dominique looks at her younger sister, "Roxanne, take Lucy out of here."
Roxanne nods and tries to usher Lucy away, but she's screaming and struggling and making a huge scene. Death Eaters are watching us very closely, and I know that if this isn't taken care of soon then they will step in, and it will be very bad for Lucy when they do. Luckily, Logan Pierce, Rae's older brother, steps in and scoops Lucy into his arms. Quickly, he and Roxanne make their way to the back of the crowd, waiting for the right moment to slip away.
"We don't have all day, Potter," Voldemort snarls at me.
I take a step forward, but Dominique reaches out and grabs my arm.
"Lily, I should do this. Not you," She says. I shake my head but she continues, "Lucy is my sister. I want to volunteer for her."
I shake my head again, and squeeze Dominique's hand. "It's already done. Lucy needs you here, go be with her, please, for me."
I turn around, and I don't look back. With each step I take, the dread inside of me increases. My head is blank from shock, I can't form a single coherent thought besides the recurring fact that I am going to die. I stand beside Scorpius and Voldemort.
Scorpius holds out his hand, and I take it gratefully.
"Only one person will live," Voldemort smiles wickedly. I notice his red eyes flicker down to mine and Scorpius' joined hands, and I know what he's implying. One of us is going to die, if not both. As if we could ever forget that only one person out of twenty survive the Games. He finishes his speech on a sinister note, "The odds will never be in your favor."
Then, Scorpius and I are ushered away from everything we once knew.