I am currently rewriting this (January 2018).
The clock counts down on the ticking time bomb that is my life. Each moment draws me nearer to my fate, and all this time, when I've been free, has been nothing more than illusion. There was a moment when the clock had stopped, when the sand in the hourglass had defied gravity, but this was only me deceiving myself. Destruction waits for me, despite my efforts to thwart it. It's lurking around the corner, hiding in my shadow, whispering over my body with that familiar chill.
And it's just up the stairs to my left.
Losing my wand in a battle three hours ago, being captured by a demon named Lucius Malfoy, and having my bruised body thrown into a magic-muffling cellar has never been on my "to do list." Yet here I am, surrounded by stone and near perfect darkness, waiting for the moment that Lucifer himself comes for me.
I'm afraid the Death Eaters are going to torture me to insanity for all I've done while trying to escape over the years. From what I've read over the years, they're not afraid to do such atrocities. Three of them are already serving life sentences in Azkaban for such deeds.
Less than two years after I was born, my mother was thrown into Azkaban. I wonder if she knew the three who drove that couple to insanity.
No one has ever found it worth their time to tell me why my mother was put there, nor have they seen fit to tell me where the hell my father disappeared to. Apparently, my dearest mother died just a few years after that. If the stories of Azkaban are true, if the Dementors are truly as evil and ruthless and heartless as people say, part of me is rather glad that she died. The other part…not so much. That woman knew what she was doing when she went against the Ministry of Magic; she knew what she was risking. And she did it anyways, which left me as an orphan. I hope she suffered.
She died believing I was dead, and my father probably believes that as well.
For a short time, a guardian angel was watching out for me and gave me a home, and even though it was not the most loving, anything is better than the orphanage. However, my being such a young child with such great needs, my great-uncle, my mother's uncle, could only take care of me for a few short months before dropping me off at the orphanage and leaving me there, claiming that he did not have what it took to raise a child. So he, too, abandoned me as my mother and father did. I was not even two years of age. It was there at the orphanage that I made my home for almost nine years.
I'm fifteen now and have been on the run for roughly five years.
Now, you might be asking why I've been running. It's not for petty reasons, I assure you. No, I am running because, as a baby, Voldemort chose me to bear his child so he could come back through it, just in case his other plan fell through. (I'm not sure what that other plan is, but it can't be good if it was designed by the Dark Lord himself.) When I learned what I was to do, I bolted. Lucius Malfoy, as well as a number of Voldemort's other followers, has been hunting me since then.
Today, Malfoy found me.
I had been in a cave for two months and found myself wanting companionship, longing for a conversation that was not one-sided; rats are not the best of conversationalists. So I went to London. That was my first mistake, I suppose. Malfoy found me almost immediately. The only choice I had was to run, and the closest, safest place I could go was a building that was under construction. And that's where I ran, but it wasn't enough to evade him. It didn't matter that I am faster than him, it didn't matter that I buffeted his climb to the top of the building with every chance I got. In all honesty, I knew this day would come.
Upon reaching the top, my error became all too clear: There was no other way down than to fall.
I enjoy living. But above living, I enjoy freedom, and I was not about to hand myself over to Malfoy so he could take me to Voldemort. I had the choice to jump or fight, and I chose poorly. I chose what I thought would help me live just a tiny bit longer. I turned to fight Malfoy head-on. Battling Death Eaters is something I've done many times before, and usually I am able to distract them just long enough to escape, but time was against me and allowed Malfoy to get the upper hand. Within seconds, my ten-inch walnut wand was expelled from my hand and was flying to the ground below.
I was left with no other choice.
I jumped from the building, a free fall to my death, which I believe is better than living to face having Lord Voldemort's child. Instead of dying, I woke up in Malfoy Manor, in this tiny dungeon-like room.
Alas, I guess there is no point in dwelling on what cannot be changed. I need to focus on my present dilemma: This room I am in blocks my ability to use magic.
Malfoy says he has something planned for me. He says that Voldemort is coming to see me.
The cell door creaks, drawing my attention. Narcissa Malfoy stands in the doorway. "Don't just sit there. Come on," she demands coldly. Something about her frightens me, and I oblige as politely as my terror allows, stiffly but compliantly. She takes me just up the stairs—I can feel the magic-blocking spell release me. Too bad my wand is still nowhere to be seen and I'm not overly fluent in wandless magic—actually, I have absolutely no idea how to perform wandless magic and have never even tried. Come to think of it, I need to learn for situations like this, not that I'm planning to be in anymore situations like this, but it would be a good skill to learn.
We come to a stop, and I find myself in a larger room, almost like a living room but without the warmth and the inviting spirit. This whole manor is unwelcoming, so I guess I'm not too surprised. There is a man standing by the window, his back to me. My first thought is one of dread. Could this be the Dark Lord, the one who hopes to force me to have his child for his Dark Magic? Something tells me this is not he, and I am once again able to breathe. "Severus," Narcissa acknowledges him, almost as coldly as she spoke to me. This confirms that the man is not Lord Voldemort. She would never speak to him that way.
"Narcissa," he replies in the same icy tone she had offered him. His eyes dart to me. "Is this the one?"
"Yes," Lucius Malfoy answers, walking into the room. The look in his eyes tells me that he has not yet forgiven me for attempting knock him off the building earlier. Slowly, he makes his way behind me and shoves me toward this Severus person. "Be a nice child now. Tell the man who you are."
"I know who she is," Severus says as puts his hands behind his back, his black eyes twitching with annoyance. "What I don't know is why you have brought me here."
"Isn't it obvious, Severus?" Lucius questions, his voice degrading. Apparently the Malfoys see themselves above everyone, not just me. "The Dark Lord requires her safety, and the safest place for her would be Hogwarts. Until the time is right, of course. She will be under a watchful eye—your eye. She will not be able to escape as she has done so many times in the past."
"And I'm just supposed to bring a student into Hogwarts at the age of—" he stops and looks at me. "How old are you now?"
"Fif-fifteen," I say quietly.
He grimaces. "And you expect a new student at the age of fifteen to go unnoticed?"
"Of course not," Narcissa answers, "we expect you to convince Dumbledore to let it happen."
"You want me to convince him to endanger the other students?" he asks. It's quite obvious that this Severus person does not want me at Hogwarts, whatever Hogwarts is. The word "students" gives me an idea of what it might be, but I don't like the thought of going to a school. I cannot give up my freedom like that right now, not when it will be taken from me at some point soon—or at least, probably soon.
"The Dark Lord demands her safety," Lucius says.
Severus raises an eyebrow. "I will attempt this, but I cannot predict what Dumbledore will decide."
"Succeed, Severus, or will be forced to inform the Dark Lord of your failures," Lucius replies, contempt in every word. "And take her"—Malfoy points to me, hatred on his face—"with you. I've had enough of her being in my home."
Lucius walks toward me. Instinctively, I take a step back, shouting, "Don't touch me!"
He growls from somewhere deep in his throat, then flicks his wand in my direction. My body then lifts off the ground without my consent and blasts through the air—I can only imagine what I look like to the spectators—only to slam against the cold, unrelenting floor, sliding until I come to a stop almost at Severus's feet. "Disrespect me in my own home again, and—"
"Lucius, enough!" Narcissa commands. Gentle hands take me by the arm and help lift me to my feet. She holds tightly onto my shoulders until I'm once again stable. "Go with Severus." Her voice is much calmer towards me than it was towards her husband moments before, and I can't help but wonder if she is a mother.
The Severus man begrudgingly offers me his arm, looking just as uncomfortable with this arrangement as I am. He no more wants me at Hogwarts than I want to go there. When I secure my grip on his arm, we vanish, reappearing in a forest. I know what we are doing; we're Apparating. I've never Apparated with anybody, but I've Apparated many times before by myself.
Being a Metamorphmagus has its advantage. I went into the Ministry and took lessons as some poor bloke that never knew what happened to him. I knocked him out and hid his body, took the Apparation Test, passed it, then disappeared again. Changing my appearance is also how I got out of the orphanage. I disguised myself as one of the plumbers and walked right out of that place, never to return.
Now I am in a forest with Severus. Up the hill on which we are now standing rests a large castle with little flames flickering in every window, as if the place is winking and joking with me, as if it is aware that I am staring and is trying its best to make me feel welcome. Despite my adamant hatred of being forced to do things I don't want to, I like this Hogwarts place, I think. It is already much better than Malfoy Manor. So intent on taking in the sight, I do not realize Severus is already walking away from me until he is so far ahead that I have to jog to catch up to him.
God only knows what could be stalking around these trees, ready to eat me or devour me or rip me to shreds. A talon-ed, winged beast could be tramping up just a few feet away from me right now, and I would never know it until it is too late. I quicken my pace to catch up to the black-haired man.
"Hurry," he snarls at me, not even giving the courtesy of a glance back at me.
"Where are we?"
His eyes dart at me before curtly answering, "Hogwarts."
After a few seconds of debating on whether or not I should delve further into the subject, I decide against my better judgment and ask, "What exactly is Hogwarts?"
Severus sneers at me. "You've never heard of it before?" I don't think I could stand it if he had another reason to look at me like I am a fool, so I avert my eyes. "Hogwarts is the best school of Witchcraft and Wizardry in all of Britain. Though, I don't know why I am shocked you have not heard of it. After all the trouble you've given the Dark Lord and us—his faithful followers—it is no surprise that you should have no knowledge of the magical world, seeing that you so eagerly run from it at any chance you are given."
My jaw clenches. I know much about the magical world. Just because I run from Lord Voldemort and his followers does not mean I run from magic itself. Diagon Alley had everything I needed in order to teach myself magic, and I seized that opportunity many times. Magic has been the one positive constant in my life since I ran from the orphanage, but I fear that if I snap and tell him this, the Dark Lord will only require my services that much sooner. "Just because I was not raised by wizards does not mean I am ignorant of magic, Mr. Severus," I decide to say. It felt like the safer option.
"Professor," Severus replies. "It's Professor Snape to you, Rodgers." At least I know his surname now.
"Only if I am forced to stay here at Hogwarts, Severus," I answer pointedly, unable to stop myself from smirking at the infuriated look on his face. The rest of our walk is uncomfortably silent, Snape nearly six feet ahead of me from that point on. We walk into the large castle and make our way up seven flights of stairs, through countless corridors, and beyond hundreds of rooms. I don't know how long we continue walking before Snape stops us, but it seems like an eternity. The looming silence is probably to blame. Either way, I don't understand why we pause in front of a gargoyle. My first thought is that Snape wants to kill me, but I soon realize that this is foolish. Had he truly wanted to kill me, he would have done it while we were alone in the woods, not inside a large castle. Still, I don't like being by myself with him. He makes me incredibly uneasy.
"Acid Pops," Snape says to the gargoyle. The gargoyle moves aside to reveal a spiral staircase, and he starts his ascent. I can't bring myself to dart away from him even though now is my opportunity to try to get away. I have to know where the stairwell leads and why it was important enough to be kept hidden behind a password-seeking gargoyle.
We get to the top, where a small opening and a door greet us. Snape knocks and shortly after receives an, "Enter," and I am shocked by the odd room I see once the door is opened. The room is circular with a claw-footed desk, little noises fluttering around the room, coming form every wall. Before I even have a chance to completely take in this strange room and fully appreciate it for what it is, my eyes land on the elderly man sitting in the desk. He meets my eyes and smiles through his long white beard, a beard that blends into his equally long white hair. "Severus." He seems like a jolly person.
"Albus, forgive me for this intrusion," Snape begins.
"Don't be ridiculous, Severus," the man called Albus says. "It is only an intrusion if there is no reason for the visit. And by the looks of that young girl standing next to you, I would say that you have a reason for coming to see me."
Snape gives me a look that tells me not to move. "This is Charlotte Rodgers. The Dark Lord has demanded her safety. He believes it best for her to be here, under my protection." There is a distinct harshness when he said those last three words. I'm so confused. So this old man knows Snape is a Death Eater? Why would he let him work here? And why is he telling this man all of this? "She has been chosen to bear his child, so he can come back through…" He drifts off. He obviously doesn't want me to know something, or he doesn't know himself and expects Albus to know what he is hinting at. Maybe the older man knows what Voldemort is planning. "Rodgers, this is Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts."
The man smiles at me. "Pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise," I say, though I really don't know if it's a pleasure to meet him. What if it's not a good thing to be acquainted with this man?
"How old are you, Miss Rodgers?" Dumbledore asks me.
"Fifteen," I say quietly.
"And your parents? Who are they?"
My eyes shift to me feet, "Never met them."
Dumbledore locks eyes with Snape. "Why has she been brought here? A new student at the age of fifteen is not going to be overlooked."
"I argued the same thing," Snape agrees.
"Excuse me," I say, "but if it's not too much trouble, sirs, I would much rather one of you do your little magic thing"—I would prefer them to have no knowledge of the magic I have taught myself—"and take me somewhere and leave me. I don't want to be here anymore than you want to watch after me. Just let me go. I believe it will be better for us all in the end."
Dumbledore walks to his desk and picks up a raggedy hat. "The Sorting Hat," he announces. "It will tell us which House you will be staying in."
They're forcing me to stay, the bastards. "And I have no choice in the matter?"
"If the Dark Lord wants you for any reason, your choices are forfeited," Snape answers icily. "You have no choice in the matter."
I don't like this Severus Snape, and I don't like that he's just shared all of this information with this Dumbledore person. The old man hands me the hat, and I plop it onto my head. "Hmm…" the hat says. I flinch away, surprised that it can speak. Dumbledore smiles at me light-heartedly; Snape remains expressionless. "Cunning and ambitious"—I've never considered myself ambitious—"Slytherin!"
I see Snape clench his teeth together.
Dumbledore removes the hat. "Congratulations," he says. I look up at Snape, expecting him to congratulate me as well, but he only seems angry. Before I can ask what his problem is, Dumbledore says, "Professor Snape is Head of the Slytherin House," which answers my unspoken question.
"And as House Leader I expect your full obedience," Snape adds, his monotone voice really beginning to irk me.
"Severus, if you will please lead her to the Slytherin Dungeon." The man then turns to me. "The other students are not set to arrive for another fortnight. Your things are where exactly?"
I hadn't given it much thought honestly, but I don't want them know where I've been hiding. What if I need to go back there? "I haven't had 'things' since I was ten and left the orphanage."
Dumbledore seems puzzled but only for a second. "Severus, escort her to Diagon Alley." His voice drops to a hushed whisper, almost too quiet for me to hear, "Stick close to her. Be inconspicuous. If Lord Voldemort has indeed returned, it is safe to assume that he has already gotten as many enemies as he does followers. If any of them find out about her, she will be in grave danger. They will gladly kill her without a second thought. To them, she will be no better than a Death Eater." Dumbledore flicks his wand, and a piece of parchment appears in the air, which he then hands to Snape. I am no better than a Death Eater. Great. The people I hate most in the world are now the people I will be associated with.
"You know I am willing to do anything for you, Albus, but I do not believe that babysitting was ever part of the deal…" Snape glares at me.
"I would take her myself, but I have to be at the Ministry of Magic early tomorrow morning for the hearing. I have to prepare for it. I wouldn't put it past the Wizengamot to twist things in their favor. I must be ready for anything."
Snape nods curtly, and I hear a distinct, resentful noise come out of his mouth that sounds a lot like "Potter." There is obviously no way of getting out of this now, and I silently curse Lucius Malfoy for catching me and Lord Voldemort for choosing me in the first place. "This way, Rodgers," Snape commands. He leads me out of the castle so we can Apparate to Diagon Alley, Snape having no idea that I have been to this place, have stolen from this place, and have hidden in this place when needed. We step off the castle grounds, and the too familiar feeling of being stuffed into a tube comes over me.
After just a moment, I open my eyes and behold, again, the wonders of Diagon Alley.
Reviews are appreciated! Thanks for giving it a chance!