Gwen Newman stopped, trying to catch her breath, her mother by her side. They'd been running for an hour straight and she couldn't take it anymore and had to stop. A cramp in her side, sweat pouring down her face and a feeling of hopelessness in the pit of her stomach.
"Do you think we lost him," Gwen asked her mother.
"I don't know," said her mother who was standing a few feet away, her eyes searching the forest for any sign of pursuit. Always on guard. Always ready.
However their rest didn't last. With a slight whoosh there appeared a man, not 5 feet from them and he had literally appeared there out of nowhere. He was dressed in long black robes and his face was covered by a mask that looked like a skull. Before he could do more than blink, a stream of red light hit him in the chest knocking him back 4 feet.
She looked to her mother, whose hand was still raised clutching her wand. Her mother met Gwen's eyes and without a speaking they ran. Further up the mountain slope they went, thankfully it was an old forest that covered that particular slope so there was very little undergrowth. But it was wet and quite slick.
Gwen was a witch. A young and untrained witch, but a witch nonetheless. Her mother also, but having years of practice and experience. Witches and wizards are not too uncommon in the world, but muggles, non-magical people, have no clue of their existence and both prefer it that way.
On and on they went, higher and higher they climbed. When they got to the top they didn't even bother slowing and plowed down the other side. The whole way down Gwen was almost out of control and it wasn't until they had reached the valley bottom that she finally caught a root with the tip of her shoe and fell hard.
Pain shot through her ankle, the other ankle that hadn't been attached to the traitor limb who had tripped her. Throbbing in her knee indicated that it had sacrificed itself in an attempt to break her fall. Nothing broke, thankfully, but the skin on her palms did.
Her mother, hearing the crash, stopped, and rush back to Gwen. "Are you alright," she asked Gwen.
"I think I sprained my ankle," replied Gwen as she sat up inspecting her wounds. But before her mother could check her ankle they heard something large barreling down the mountain towards them. Gwen's mind raced, with her ankle sprained they couldn't run and it would take too long for her mother to fix it with magic. They had to stand and fight, or her mother anyways, she could only sit there and watch it all happen, helplessly.
As they waited for the inevitable confrontation to take place, yet another man appeared about 20 feet away, but he was different from the first in almost every way. Dark, rich coloured skin with brown eyes and grey almost white hair. He had no wand in hand, and no mask covering his face, but he was wearing a leather tunic and pants decorated in multi coloured beads and shoes or slippers, Gwen couldn't tell which, also made of leather.
"Find rest in my lodge," the elderly man and immediately a building appeared behind him with a door standing open as if he had just come outside. Gwen looks to her mother for what is to be done, but the crashing is getting closer so it needed to be done fast.
"Wingardium Leviosa," said her mother, pointing her wand at Gwen. She rose two feet into the air and floated through the doorway being held open by the old man. The door was open long enough for Gwen to see the black robed wizard come into view before it was closed.
"Do not be concerned with him," said the old man, "None can find my home without being told and none may enter unless invited."
"Like the Fidelius Charm?" asked her mother.
"In concept, but more powerful and secure. The spell you speak of hides a secret in the very soul of a person and when the secret is told to another they can see, feel and interact with it. My home is similar but imagine that the secret is being kept by the Earth herself and I am merely a steward over it," replied the older man who was busy filling a kettle and placing it over a fire.
It was then that her mother remembered to place her down. The floor was made of dirt, but it was so packed and so hard it felt like concrete. As her mother was looking at her ankle Gwen even tried to scratch a mark in it with her fingernail and it didn't even leave a mark. About that time her mother tapped the point of her wand on her ankle followed by a sharp but brief pain.
"It'll be tender but you'll be able to walk," her mother informed her. She got to her feet slowly and was relieved that her ankle could take her weight completely. It was then that she got a good look at her surroundings.
The room was pretty big, and had a very homey feel to it and was clearly used as a kitchen. There were cupboards along the walls on the left side of the room and counters underneath with two windows, one on the left wall where the stone sink was and one on the wall with the door to the outside. On the back wall was a fireplace made from river stones and a very old refrigerator, so old it probably needed ice blocks to keep things cool. Straight across from the door outside was a hallway that lead to the rest of the house. And on the right side of the room was a very long and old looking table with benches made from split logs. The windows were in mirrored places to the others on the left side.
Carrying a plate of sandwiches, the old man gestured for them to sit at the table and put the plate on the table to be followed by tin mugs, they were a royal blue with tiny white dots, and a matching kettle of tea.
Gwen was starving so when she was offered a sandwich she took it despite the warning look from her mother, who was thinking they might have been drugged. But after the first bite she couldn't stop it was so good. With thick sliced homemade bread, fresh juicy tomatoes, crisp lettuce, a salted meat of some kind, and butter spread on both slices, it was the best sandwich she had ever had. After downing her second she took a sip of her tea and was surprised at the flavors she could name and the many she couldn't. It had an earthy taste, but very light and refreshing and sweetened with honey.
"Why do those that consume-death chase the daughter of their master?" asked the old man.
"What?" exclaimed Gwen. Her mother was on her feet in an instant and her wand raised.
"Why do they want you? And why do you run?" explained the man.
"How do you know who I am? Who are you?" retorted Gwen.
With a sigh the old man said, "The Great Spirits whisper to me many things. That is how I knew you were coming. You may call me Eagle Feather. I have answered your questions. Will you answer mine?"
If she did answer his questions, what would be the harm? Unless he was stalling for backup, but then why did he even help them? He must not be a one of them, so it should be fine and he had been really nice.
"I don't know why they want me. They could think that I can help bring back their master or maybe they want me for when they think he returns again. I don't know and I don't care, they want me and I don't want to be a prisoner. And...and...I run because I can't get them to stop chasing me. I only just turned 11 today. I don't know how to use magic. I don't even have a wand. What would you expect me to do?" said Gwen, her mother was uneasy that she had said so much, but she wasn't stopped so her mother must think that Eagle Feather might not be a Death Eater.
"I have only one more question I need answered. Where does your future lead?" asked Eagle Feather.
"My future?...I don't know. I'm just hoping to have a future," replied Gwen.
"You are welcome to stay for as long as you need," said Eagle Feather as he rose from the table and left the kitchen.
"Do you think we can trust him?" Gwen asked her mother.
"I'm not sure. If he is a Death Eater, then he's trying something different but I don't think so. Cunning and evil they might be, but they aren't the most creative," said her mother.
"What are we going to do?" asked Gwen.
"We'll stay for now, but keep your eyes open," said her mother.