Author's Note: As a general rule, I try to keep notes short and unobtrusive, but this story is such a beast I simply cannot send it out into the world without a bit of explanation. This story is huge so it will be divided into several different novels. The name of the whole series is "Gravel on the Ground," but each short story or novel will have its own title within the series. No, it isn't completely written yet. Yes, I know how many other stories I have going. But I've been writing constantly on this story since March, and I finally decided to stop fighting it.
I've borrowed a concept for this story from another fandom. In the TV series Charmed (created by Constance M. Burge and Aaron Spelling) strong magic is passed down through the women in a family, and each witch usually inherits skills that focus on one of three abilities: moving objects, manipulating time, or mental abilities like seeing the past or future. I've made my characters descended from the same magical line – the Warren family – which means that they have these magical traits, but because they are combined with the form of magic used in Harry Potter, they have been altered slightly. It explains the ability to do wandless magic easier than usual and a few unique characteristics, but that's the only connection to Charmed. This isn't meant to be a crossover between the show and the Harry Potter books.
I intend to remain as faithful as possible to the plots and events of all the books, with a few exceptions:
- The inclusion of original characters in events they obviously weren't present for.
- The appearance of characters may reflect the movie characters more than the book versions.
- When I read the books, they seemed to be sort of timeless. I had no idea they were set in a specific year until I read DH and saw the dates on Lily and James' tombstone. I was a little peeved, as it messed with my mental image of things, but I digress. Anyway, to make this story work with things I have planned farther down the line, I needed to adjust the HP dates. I have added five years to the HP timeline, pushing it forward slightly, but it really shouldn't change anything for readers.
Also I consider all the "extra" information JKR has given us about characters that wasn't included in the actual books to be "suggestions" rather than canon. I don't want to know everything! It doesn't leave my imagination any room to play!
Special thanks to Smuffly for being the heart behind this story and loving it as much as I do. For hours of endless plot help, encouragement, reading and re-reading, and editing. For making me keep writing it, and convincing me to post it. Without her, this story wouldn't exist, so, Smuffly, this story is for you.
Disclaimer: The characters, settings, and world of the Harry Potter books are created by J.K. Rowling and belong to her. Only the original characters and the story idea belong to me. I make no profit from this.
Gravel on the Ground: "From the Ashes"
….watch me rise like smoke from fire.
watch me fly above your hate.
watch me dance upon your meanness
like a ballerina with posture; grace.
watch me laugh over your hatred;
watch me soar above your sea of grief.
And know that i am out there
- Coco J. Ginger
The rain was pouring down in sheets, turning the streets to dirty rivers full of garbage and covered with the slick sheen of oil from the millions of automobiles that drove the city day and night. It was only early evening but the storm had made it prematurely dark.
In the shadows outside of a deli a young girl crouched, huddled inside a ragged sweatshirt that did nothing to keep out the rain. She sat unmoving in the downpour, despite being soaked completely through, her dark, haunted eyes gazing longingly at the warm light spilling from inside the little shop. Occasionally, a small, pale hand darted out and wiped the drops of water from the glasses on her face before disappearing again.
Night came and the shadows turned to true darkness, yet still the girl sat there shivering, her bare feet pulled up into her dirty skirt in a desperate bid for a little warmth. Finally, the back door of the deli opened and a figure emerged, lugging a bag to a waiting dumpster. The girl sat up hopefully, but her face quickly fell as the light revealed the person in full.
It wasn't the one she'd been hoping for.
"You, girl!" a harsh voice suddenly cut through the night, muted slightly by the pounding rain but fierce just the same. The girl shrank back against the wall. "Get out of here!"
She didn't move.
"I said git!" the woman shrieked, grabbing a nearby broom and advancing slightly. "Or I'll call the police this time for real!"
Fear shot through the girl at those words. She scrambled up and dashed off, her bare feet splashing through the filthy water.
There would be no food again tonight.
Trying to ignore the hunger gnawing at her stomach, she weaved and dodged between the crowds of umbrella-bearing people who were hurrying to their destinations with heads down, anxious to be warm and dry. Even in the rain, New York City never slept.
Eventually, she slipped into a narrow alley. It didn't block the rain entirely, but it was lessened in its force. She made her way to the back where an ancient awning clung to the side of the building, sheltering a long ago boarded up window and ducked underneath.
From behind her glasses, her brown eyes scanned the darkness as she pulled a threadbare blanket from the corner and wrapped it around herself. She was looking for the flash of smoky, gray fur. For the last four nights that she'd slept in this spot, the gray cat had showed up each evening and stayed for an hour or so before disappearing. But tonight, there was no sign of the friendly animal.
A deep feeling of loneliness overwhelmed her and she hung her head. She hadn't realized how much that hour of companionship each night had meant until it was gone. Worried, she hoped the cat was okay and had simply moved on.
Wet, hungry, and miserable, she huddled back into the corner and closed her eyes, preparing to endure the night.
Sleep claimed her and for once the nightmares stayed at bay, until her heart stopped in terror when a voice invaded her dreams.
"Hey, girl, wake up!"
Her eyes snapped open and she cowered back instinctively in fear, looking for a way out before she actually took in the sight before her.
A strange, old woman crouched before her, blocking the entrance to her awning and her escape route. She was dressed in a baggy pair of overalls, a bright green bathrobe, pink galoshes, and a black hat adorned by flamingos. To top it all off, she carried a tiger-striped umbrella.
"Come on, girl; it's cold and wet. We don't have all night!"
Adamantly, she shook her head no, stuffing herself farther back against the wall. Who was this mad woman and why was she invading her corner of the world?
"Look, don't you want to get out of this rain? Dry off? Have a proper supper?"
Now all the internal warning bells the girl had went off. People who offered to take you in and feed, help you out, always wanted something in return and it was never something good. She'd never knocked an old woman down before, but she needed to escape and that was the only way out…
Shifting slightly, she got into position. The moment the woman was even slightly distracted she would go, bursting out and running off before the old lady could gather her wits. But before she could set her plan in motion, the crazy lady shook her head in frustration.
"Oh, for the love of Merlin," she muttered, reaching into the pocket of her bathrobe. She pulled out a long, thin stick and suddenly, the girl's heart froze.
A wand! The woman had a wand! The shock made her hesitate and that was all it took. Suddenly, the wand was pointed at her, a few words uttered, and then she was changing, shrinking as the world grew huge around her and the sound of the rain faded away.
The last thing the girl noticed before it all went dark was that the old woman's hair was strangely the exact same color as the cat's fur had been.