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Young Padawan: The Shadow Glow 1
‘Watch the door, and await my signal.’
‘Watch the door, and await my signal.’
Planet Duggan, Citadel of Riches, Third Echelon, King’s Quarters.
Kis was a Jedi. For as long as he could remember he had known that the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Republic, but for the last three years they had been warriors too. More so than that, they had become soldiers. Along with his Master, Reyn Tee, the young padawan had been thrust into fighting above the planet Duggan, which had recently seceded to the Separatist cause. The only issue for the Jedi in orbit around the planet, the Grand Council of Duggan had neglected to inform them of their change of allegiances before opening fire from the planet’s surface. Both of the Jedi starfighters had been destroyed, and their freighter had been shot down over very unfriendly skies. They crash landed in the centre of the capital city, Maytar, surrounded by an entire squadron of battle droids.
Odds of
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Literature
Harry Potter: Wizarding War Chapter Two
Harry and Ron and Hermione
“It might seem like you have to burn down the whole forest to drive off the darkness, Harry,” Dumbledore counselled, “it might seem like it’s the only way to feel warm and bright again. But I do suggest that you remember that shadows disappear at the flick of a switch.”
It already felt like a lifetime ago. Harry had spent the first eleven years of his life in mundane cruelty, surrounded by his loveless loved ones and a future that wasn’t only grim, but still unimaginably far away. Then the next seven had been taken up with both his amazement and joy at entering the wizarding world, and the shock of potent terror at the knowledge that this paradise contained far more horrors than the cupboard under the stairs. Dumbledore was right in that situation, when he was small, and needed to make the shadow a little less deep in the long space under the Dursley’s stairs, he could sit up, reach out, blind, and turn on the light.
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Literature
Harry Potter: Wizarding War Chapter One
A tale in which a young wizard discovers more of himself than he might have liked, and a long lost hero gets her due. This story takes place both during the year after the siege of Hogwarts and twenty three years previously, during the dark victory of Voldemort in his first reign as Dark Lord. Even the brilliant candlelights of Hogwarts keep were turned to smoke and whispering ash, the towers jagged and mottled against an indifferent moon.
1975.
Forbidden Forest, wolf country.
Another howl, this one louder, this one closer.
They were gaining, the poor brutes. Her feet pawed through the maze of tree roots and stones along the forest floor, a place as filled with pitfalls as the dungeons of the school itself. One slip and it would all be over.
“The secret is,” she thought to herself, distracted for a moment, “not to slip.”
Behind her a snarl in the darkness, and shortly afterward, a wet whelp made it clear that the shadows contained a mass of teeth and claws and b
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Literature
The Promise P1
A veil cast about my eyes.
I felt a soft pressure, pushing me downward as if I were falling into taught fabric.
The force of the substance was enough to give resistance for a beat, but only for a beat.
Shock explodes.
The mind reels.
A girl dies under a shower of splintering wood.
All my friends and family look on in sheer terror.
Calmness takes me.
Thick and impossibly dense calmness, the darkness of the deep; without sight or sound for a generation, for an eternity in all directions.
There isn’t anything, everything has let me go, and I fall forever.
I fall through sunsets on misty shores, through soft summer walks in fields thick with crops as tall as my head, past moments of brilliant importance, moonlight reflected in wet cobblestone, sobbing in a watercloset, a hand to hold, let go, and then the very first breath.
-
I awoke in the apartments with no memory of my travels, though the toll they had taken was readily apparent in the reflection in the polished silver mirror abov
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‘Watch the door, and await my signal.’

‘Watch the door, and await my signal.’

Planet Duggan, Citadel of Riches, Third Echelon, King’s Quarters.

Kis was a Jedi. For as long as he could remember he had known that the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the Republic, but for the last three years they had been warriors too. More so than that, they had become soldiers. Along with his Master, Reyn Tee, the young padawan had been thrust into fighting above the planet Duggan, which had recently seceded to the Separatist cause. The only issue for the Jedi in orbit around the planet, the Grand Council of Duggan had neglected to inform them of their change of allegiances before opening fire from the planet’s surface. Both of the Jedi starfighters had been destroyed, and their freighter had been shot down over very unfriendly skies. They crash landed in the centre of the capital city, Maytar, surrounded by an entire squadron of battle droids.

Odds of survival? Thirteen thousand, seven hundred and forty two, to one.

But a Jedi doesn’t need to know the odds. A Jedi doesn’t need to know anything. They are one with the Force.

And within the Force, anything is possible.

One squadron of battle droids down, the Master and the Apprentice arrived at the highest echelon of the Citadel, the central helm of the planet’s governance, which had recently been vacated by the Grand Council. The halls echoed with their steps. Not a single other sound could be heard. Kis hung behind his Master, not wanting to trigger any traps lurking in wait, or getting in the older Jedis way. As they passed through the shadowed corridors, with the only light leaking through covered archways from the fires below the castle, their breathing became as quiet as possible too. Something was awaiting them, they both had the sense to know that, it was the promise of a surprise reveal that was keeping them so careful.

They ascended to the third echelon, where in ancient times the royal family of Duggar had lived, now a council chamber and an empty, dusty, throne room. Master Reyn held up a hand, staying Kis in his approach too. There had been no resistance through the entire citadel, but the Force was afire with warning, opening the door to the throne room would be the trigger. They both knew it. Standing on opposite sides of the entrance, Reyn to the left and Kis to the right, they summoned their powers and thrust the doors open in an instant. The wood panels clanged in their hinges, splintering as they crashed forward, but still there was no sign of defences. Clearly they had been mistaken.

Kis waited for his Master to take a look around the corner, but intstead the older Jedi closed his eyes, and opened his mind. He breathed calmly, and took on such a relaxed stance that Kis thought he might have zoned out. He was allying himself as close to the Force as possible, until he was ready to leap into the fray. They stepped into the shadow of the throne room, finding instead a receiving room, with a further set of closed doors beyond it. Kis took up the same position as he had earlier, but his Master remained in front of the crafted black wood. In an almost dream-like fashion, he turned the clasp, and opened the left panel, walking through, and signalling for Kis to do the same.

“There is no power here we can defeat through surprise,” the Master spoke. “There is only shadow…”

He ignited his orange saber.

“And the only cure is the light.”

Kis had not yet received a lightsaber of his own. Training blades were for use only within the confines of the Jedi Temple, and he couldn’t be trusted with a blaster due to his age. He did show tremendous affinity with the Force, but he was instructed not to indulge his urges for action. There was no sense instructing a child to kill. That was not the Jedi way.

“The Council have fled, Jedi.”

Kis had never felt the shadows so deep, nor so full at the same time. The room was bathed in darkness, with the only glow of goodness and light coming from his Master’s saber. But they weren’t alone in the room. Atop the throne at the far end of the procession was a… something. Kis couldn’t see, nor did he particularly want to. He’d heard of the dark side, but he hadn’t felt it until that second. Freezing cold and boiling hot, the extremes of the Force. Anger, hatred, loneliness, a scream in rage and a whimper in pain. He saw flashes of all, but not the one sat on the throne.

“It would have been wise to join them,” Master Reyn instructed. He was a teacher, and couldn’t help but share a lesson, even with this foe. “I feel the Council expected their insurrection to last less than a few hours.”

“You are mistaken. The time of the Jedi is at an end, there is only darkness, and me.”

He might have been a padawan, but Kis had spent two years nearly solidly secluded in the Jedi archives, and had watched recordings of the meetings between Jedi and Sith from thousands of years previously. In the great tradition of duelling fates, this was where their opening gambit would end. The time for words was over. He expected a red lightsaber to ignite from somewhere in the shadow, and the danger to pitch. Instead only silence reigned, and then its opposite.

There had been a bolt of red energy, but it had remained in place for but a microsecond, before flying across the throne room, and smashing directly into Master Reyn. He tumbled backward through the air, out through the reception area, and instantly dropped through empty space. There was a lot of distance between the third echelon and the third, Master Reyn would learn the exact measurement in his fall.

Kis felt his insides tense, his mind cloud and his hands shake with fear and rage. That was his Master! His Master! Propelled by the potency of the Force, his arm shot forward, and the well of power began to overflow. He dragged the entity from the darkness, leaving its blaster rifle clattering to the floor. The light was gone, so he picked up his Master’s sword, and ignited the blade. The first time he’d held a true lightsaber.

It was a pathetic looking creature. The face of a man but nothing else resembling human. Two stunted insectoid legs crafted from rusting permasteel, a body made up of grey sealant and electronics, and a single overlong arm, with a trigger finger only on its hand. Struggling against its imprisonment, it opened a mouth of the sharpest teeth Kis had ever seen, but remained quiet. He’d seen mighty terrors, despite its weakness and frailty, this one frightened him more.

“What are you?” he asked, through blinding rage. He had never felt quite so strong, and had never wielded the Force so focused. The darkness was giving him strength, or perhaps it was the memory of his Master.

“What am I? Do you not mean who?” the Beast replied. In speaking, it’s lower jaw never quite closed properly, but there was a wryness and a sarcasm, and a threat to its every movement. Kis didn’t like being laughed at. “You should speak with more respect toward your captor.”

“You’re just a little broken man,” Kis growled, walking down the length of the room. “You’re not my captor.”

He took a seat on the throne, and closed the doors with his remaining affinity to the Force. The entity fell down to the floor, crumpled for a second, but took up a seated position after a few seconds of scrambling. Their eyes met, and just before he could leap forward, Kis stopped the Beast from moving once again, though in a demonstrably diminished capacity. The point was made though, it was captured. Instead of appearing shocked or distressed in any form at having the tables turned against him, the sharp intelligence on the entity’s face pointed itself in a different direction.

He would attack.

“You’re just a boy,” he calculated, sizing Kis up. “You couldn’t be older than fourteen? Fifteen?”

“Thirteen,” Kis shot back, visibly considering whether or not to rise to the bait.

“My! You must be ten years off the trials then. How long have you been a padawan?”

“Two months.”

“Two months? I expect you never expected to become a soldier so soon? Would you even have orders for such a scenario?”

Kis nodded. The doors audibly locked.

“I keep watch over my prisoner, I trust in the Force, and I await the return of my Master.”

The Beast smirked, this was going to be an easy one. The grip over him was relinquished, and he scuttled about under his own power in a small circle before making himself more comfortable. The boy kept the lightsaber at his side, but curled up into a meditative sitting position, and aping his Master, closed his eyes, and summoned the Force. There was of course no answer, but there were new questions, new pathways and new choices. The light brimmed around him, the bright blue of calm.

Hours passed, and the two sat facing each other. The Beast had on multiple occasions considered making a break for the blaster sitting not twenty metres away on the floor, but had stopped in his tracks. He had no idea just what the little padawan was cooking up in his head, and knowing Jedi this could all be a trick. Serenity was as much a Jedi weapon as anger was of the Dark Side, but as with all weapons, dulling the blade was often as effective as killing the wielder.

“Your Master, he seemed to be a competent military commander. He would have to have been to get through a squadron of battle droids singlehandedly, but do you know what it is that makes a military commander effective?”

Kis didn’t open his eyes.

“It’s the knowledge of when to sacrifice.”

The Beast looked up, and the boy was staring at him. Knowing just how powerful the young Jedi  was unnerved him immensely.

“The High Council of Duggan have seceded to the mighty cause of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, and have done so with extreme prejudice. If the planet is to be held, then his priority will be to relay a communication to your overlords back on Coruscant. Given that he survived the blaster bolt, and then the fall, he will make this, not you, his priority.”

Kis wasn’t so much angry but uncomfortable, he wasn’t quite old enough to know just what the creature was telling him.

“And knowing that the controller for the droid mainframes is not with the Council, as he either knows, or will soon find out, he will not aim to eliminate me personally. Doing so would not be wise. It would be done swiftly, and from orbit, and I’m afraid you will only become so much collateral damage. Such is war.”

“He wouldn’t do that.”

“He would when he knows how much explosives I’ve packed the base of this building with. Any attempt by Republic troops to enter the Citadel will cause the two of us to go sky high, as well as most of the capital city and a good chunk of Duggan itself. It depends on whether your Republic surveyors do their jobs as competently as I’ve done mine. There is only one way out of this mess, young Padawan, and it’s escorting me through that door, and to a waiting ship. Nothing else will suffice.”

“I will walk through that door, but with my Master. He’ll come back for me.”

The Beast smiled, he was enjoying this.

“You might kill me first.”

“I might. Master has told me not to.”

“What if he hadn’t?”

“Then you wouldn’t have been alive to ask the question.”
Young Padawan: The Shadow Glow 1
I've been reading quite a few Star Wars comics recently and this was my attempt at the beginnings of a Star Wars story. Let me know what you think and I'll take a look at continuing it. I was thinking of it being a locked room drama, with the conflict coming from the machinations of this very intelligent and very ruthless, but impotent, villain and a naive Jedi padawan, who has to hold onto his values, or compromise for the safety of himself and his hero.
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Harry and Ron and Hermione

“It might seem like you have to burn down the whole forest to drive off the darkness, Harry,” Dumbledore counselled, “it might seem like it’s the only way to feel warm and bright again. But I do suggest that you remember that shadows disappear at the flick of a switch.”

It already felt like a lifetime ago. Harry had spent the first eleven years of his life in mundane cruelty, surrounded by his loveless loved ones and a future that wasn’t only grim, but still unimaginably far away. Then the next seven had been taken up with both his amazement and joy at entering the wizarding world, and the shock of potent terror at the knowledge that this paradise contained far more horrors than the cupboard under the stairs. Dumbledore was right in that situation, when he was small, and needed to make the shadow a little less deep in the long space under the Dursley’s stairs, he could sit up, reach out, blind, and turn on the light.

Voldemort had been so easily dispatched, though for seven years the boy had been filled with the knowledge and the duty that he was the only one who could defeat the dark lord. Now that the spirit of evil had exited the world, this specific instance of dire deeds and evil thoughts, fear and cold destruction of courage, Harry felt somewhat empty.

Purposeless.

He had of course returned to Hogwarts after the summer, wherein it became his intention to collect the required qualifications to enter employment within the Ministry of Magic. If defeating dark wizards was the thing he did best, he might as well do it for a living. But as the leaves turned from green to brown, and the clouds gathered once more about the ruined keep, he found himself focusing less on a bright future, and closer on a past that sometimes felt so real he could reach out and touch it.

Trauma did that to a person.

The master of death, Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, who had died surrounded by his friends and family.

You could never go home again, he’d heard once. He felt like he’d never been home in the first place. The stress was sometimes so much he had to scream into a pillow, bat some luggage around the room, or walk long in the grounds of the castle, eschewing conversation or attention in being quiet, and concerned, and alone. His friends were there, but the three of them hadn’t been speaking much that year.

Well, the three of them hadn’t, but Hermione and Ron had been almost inseparable since they finally gave into their emotions. They’d spent the summer together too. Despite the fact they’d spent a year on the run together as a threesome, and had more or less lived out of eachother’s pockets, he still missed the camaraderie. Perhaps it was just needing that sense of danger, of adventure about the world that captured his imagination so completely.

At Hogwarts, he’d always felt as if he belonged. But now, with most of his friends already graduated and back in the world, he felt more alone than ever. It was so hard to focus during his lessons now, seeing as how he felt as if he’d lived a lifetime’s worth of magic. How could he sit through another Defence Against the Dark Arts when he had successfully defended the world from the Dark Arts? What more was there for him to learn?

As for the class itself, the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher had long been a cursed one, with the member of staff in that position either being unable to complete the year due to some unforeseen magical malady befalling them, or being so shocked by the requirements of the class that they swore to never take it up again. Despite the fact that this was the first year of the curse supposedly being lifted, as it was Voldemort himself that had cursed it, the teachers of the school were taking no chances. Instead of instituting a new faculty member as a guinea pig to test whether the curse was still around, they had all banded together to share the role. Thus Professor McGonagall was Headmistress, Transfiguration Teacher and Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher. Hagrid was Care of Magical Creatures and Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher, and so on. This was in the hope that by sharing the curse between the whole of the teaching body, the magic would be spread so thinly that it couldn’t hurt all of them. But this remained to be seen.

He was sat on a bench in the grounds, wand in hand, gripped so tightly his knuckles had turned bone white, staring out onto the Forbidden Forest, and beyond it Hogsmeade, when Hagrid the half giant groundskeeper of the school sat down next to him. The bench leaned in a see saw manner, with Hagrid dipping the side he was in into the ground. He grumbled, annoyed, before turning to his young friend.

“It’s a rare sight that Hagrid gets to sneak up on someone,” he laughed, giving Harry a nudge. “What’s wrong Harry? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Nearly Headless Nick gave the two of them a dirty look as he floated on by.

“I see ghosts all the time, Hagrid,” said Harry, lifting the corner of his mouth in a facsimile of a smile. He didn’t quite manage it. “It’s the ones who I don’t see any more that’s the problem.”

The resurrection stone. Seventeen years of grief and agony, but a few shining moments of contact with his parents. Voldemort had tainted that too, just like he tainted anything else pure and good.

“Well, I don’t like seeing someone so young looking so peaky. Eh, let’s talk a walk down to the cabin, I’ve got something to show you besides.”

Harry smiled, this time genuinely. Whatever it was Hagrid had in store, it was generally small, very dangerous, and full of teeth. This was bound to be good. As they stepped away, Hagrid put a meaty hand in front of Harry and stopped him, speaking in as much of a whisper as he was able.

“And word of this doesn’t get to the teachers, I’m on thin ice with the Headmistress as it is.”

There was no doubt in Harry’s mind that this was the case. Hagrid had always been a nominally distant part of Hogwarts faculty, and had been able to exercise a modicum of freedom, and risk, when living so far from the school itself. Coupled with a liking for the dangerous creatures in the world, it often produced some hilarious results as Hagrid was not the best at corralling his secret projects.

“No sign of Hermione and Ron?” he asked, as they climbed down the long path to the foot of the forest.

Harry shook his head. He’d seen them at breakfast, but by the time lunch had rolled around there was no sign of them.

“More for the two of us then.”

Hagrid was one of the good ones, Harry decided. Someone who had managed to come out of a relentlessly difficult childhood, losing his father at the age of thirteen, and losing his place at Hogwarts, his true place, a short time after that. How could someone who had seen such rank and complete darkness continue to be so loving, friendly and attentive?

“Come in, come in, come in, come in, come in,” Hagrid encouraged in a sing song way, bringing up a small spare chair and placing it in front of the fire next to his own huge seat. The hut was warm and smelled of smoke and something else, but Harry couldn’t work out what it was. “Tea?”

Harry nodded. And as quickly as he’d just sat down, Hagrid was on his feet again, darting this way and that around the room, boiling the kettle, cutting some cake, asking Harry how he was doing, seemingly at the same time. It was a marvel, though Harry was focusing on the embers in the fire a little closer than he normally did. The way the flames danced around the smouldering wood, it looked just like how magic burst from the end of a wand. Potent, deadly. He felt fear in his heart again, though the thrust of a mug of tea into his hand was enough to jolt him back into the world.

Hagrid sat, spilling some tea on his left leg, but grimacing through the pain, rather than doing anything to alleviate it. He’d finally sat down, and probably didn’t want to show how much he’d hurt.

“Is that alright?” Harry asked, as the steam rose from Hagrid’s knee. The groundskeeper was pounding on his other leg with a closed fist, and tensing his jaw as tightly as he was able, but he wasn’t doing anything about it.

“Just fine Harry, nothing to worry about…”

There was definitely something to worry about. Madame Pomfrey would not be best pleased seeing Hagrid needing another repair spell and a night in the infirmary.

“Anyway, take a look at this.”

He pulled out a large wooden box from the space by the fire, and lifted it at such an angle that Harry could see inside, but it also caught the light. Harry’s eyes narrowed as he eyed the contents, seeing only a silver, sparkling substance, not unlike gunpowder or ground rocks.

“What is it?” Harry asked, looking closer, but Hagrid yanked the box right back, as if to say that the contents were ever so slightly dangerous.

“I was tending to some of the centaurs on the Hogsmeade ridge, bartering with them and the like. Those boys drive a hard bargain, and play cards a lot better than I might have thought…”

They both realised what he’d said for a second, but Hagrid pressed on after a moment.

“Seems like something’s spreading pure silver powder along the forest floor. Collected some of it up so I could have the Headmistress take a look at it. Nothing out in those woods should be producing this whatsoever. Might be something, might be nothing. But it needs looking at by someone smarter than me. I was hoping young Hermione might have an idea.”

Harry agreed that was probably the case, but the room did go quiet after that comment. The two friends sat in front of the fire, feeling the warmth of the flames and of their company, and kept quiet as the sun set slowly outside. Soon it was time to return for evening meal, so Harry said bye and headed back inside.

He decided that night he was going to brave the great hall, despite the fact he’d been eating his dinner in the dormitories most nights, just so he wasn’t surrounded by so much noise. Seeing as how he had an excuse to talk to Hermione and Ron, this was probably a good time to press that. He really missed them. It didn’t feel like there was the three of them, more like the two and one. He did get a lot brighter seeing them sat in the usual spot in the hall, with Hermione having her head buried in a book and Ron munching on a chicken leg, he would have almost been forgiven for thinking it was years previously. They might have changed so much, but they hadn’t changed that much.

“Hagrid’s been looking for you,” Ron said, with a mouthful of chicken.

“Ronald,” Hermione scolded, “mouth closed.”

They had a silent argument for a second, conducted only with eye contact, but soon they turned back to Harry.

“I saw him, he said he was looking for you,” Harry shot back, sitting down and filling his plate with the food on offer.

Hermione shrugged, this was the first she’d heard of it.

“Well if he needed something he should have said. How’s your potions work coming along? Slughorn is going to go spare if you miss another piece of homework,” Ron said once again through a mouthful of food.

Harry sat down and just smiled at them, and for a moment, he forgot everything that had been troubling him. He might have to rush some potions homework for Slughorn, but that, for the moment, was the peak of his worries.

-

RAF Boulmer Base, Northumberland, United Kingdom.

Sgt Timothy Campbell stalked another step through the solid treeline, keeping his body crouched and attempting to make as little noise as possible. He had been posted to Boulmer Base a few weeks previously as an intelligence analyst, focusing primarily on sound and energy data coming in from both the skies of England and from across the North Sea. In his younger days he had been the one to first flag an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean, as well as assist with some particularly sensitive moments during the Cold War. Now he was outside, in the middle of the night, in his dress uniform of all things. There had been a commencement ceremony at the base that night, congratulating their newest fleet of fighter pilots, as well as honouring him for joining the team. It had been a particularly fun evening, and he’d spent most of his time talking to one of the girls from the informatics pool, she’d rebuffed his advances, but he’d had fun trying.

Stepping further into the brush between two trees, the sergeant felt an unexpected dip in the ground, which his foot fell into. A deep puddle, with the water going up to the middle of his left calf. He had to go even deeper to extricate himself, just to stop from falling in completely. It was freezing cold by the time he was out, and even darker. Autumn just wasn’t the time for being outside in Northumberland, he might have fared well had it been the summer.

But the disturbance hadn’t come in the summer.

In the time since he’d began his career at the base, Timothy had noticed some strange atmospheric readings for what should have been a neutral part of the world. The nearest nuclear active sight was across the whole country, and there wasn’t a power station for miles and miles. Yet any readings the receivers made were always pointing in the direction of the air being slightly more electromagnetically charged than anywhere else he’d worked. The other analysts called it the Boulmer Bump, and had managed to successfully filter it from their results, but the cause itself still remained a mystery.

“Best not to worry about it,” Commander Ray Weatherby instructed him, looking the image of the affable RAF major. White, perfectly straight moustache, his suit was always 100% pressed and perfect, and he spoke as if he’d fell through a wormhole from 1940. Sometimes Timothy suspected just that.

The only issue was that if the readings were an anomaly, then they should be a consistent anomaly. If the air was 0.3% more charged because of the Bump, then it should always have been that wrong, but the difference was sometimes in magnitudes, and sometimes not there at all. It was singularly confusing, and after piecing through all of the receiver technology atop the base, as well as travelling up into the hills in his own time to inspect the exterior readings also, he could see no reason for anything to be coming in incorrectly. As it turned out, most of the technology had been replaced as recently as a few years before, and the wiring had been gutted and replaced only that year.

There was no reason for a disturbance.

Which confirmed his theory, that if the measurements were picking up an anomaly that could not be replicated with the receivers themselves…

Then there was an actual anomaly.

Truth be told, he’d had a few to drink as he’d returned to the office for some of his belongings so he could turn in for the night. Seeing his computer screen, the only light in the office, was still turned on, he sat down and began the shutdown procedure.

Only he noticed something that had to be an error.

This had to be an error.

Usual background readings for any kind of electromagnetic energy fluctuated between 1 and 10 joules, sometimes more if they had the missile guidance systems online, or if there were an electrical test. But what he saw on the screen…

BGD READING 102EE

That was a worry, considering the ‘EE’s showed that the screen was attempting to display a number five digits long in a space only allowing three. Three was more than at Chernobyl. Not radiation, just the electricity in the air. Like static. He had to retry the check. He sat down and put his drink on the desk, rebooting the system and running through the standard procedures.

BGD READING 128EE

ACTIVE READING 41E

He almost spat out the champagne. Logging through the various receivers to see where the problem was, he saw that one of the smaller receivers on the North Sea side, about three miles east of the base, was showing the highest readings, with everything else spilling out slowly from there in a normal distribution. That was the epicentre. With no time to alert his superiors, and sure that it was all just a mistake anyway, he rushed from the base and out into the forest. It should only take about ten minutes to get to the receiver anyway.

That was half an hour before the puddle incident, and he still couldn’t make head nor tail of where he was. He’d been through basic training, and had some night time navigational instinct, but all of that seemed to be falling into irrelevance. The fact of the matter was that he was completely, hopelessly, lost.

That’s when he heard a sound up ahead. The kids from the local villages did often come out into the forest at night to drink and worse. The fact that a storm was coming in would turn back many adults and dog walkers, but not the kids. They were so determined to get messed up that they would brave the gales and the rain.

“Who’s out there?” he called, stumbling a little. “Anyone I know?”

Silence. This was concerning because there had at least been some sound previously. Timothy didn’t know what compelled him to put a hand on his service revolver, especially considering it was illegal by UK law for him to take it off the base, but he did suddenly feel like he needed an extra level of protection.

“Hello? No one to worry about, I’m just from the research station.”

No answer again. Were it kids they’d probably already be on their way, but the sergeant couldn’t help but feel as if he were stumbling onto something a lot less palatable than some teens messing about in the woods. The sea roared nearby, which told him he was at least closer to his destination than he’d thought. Closer to the disturbance. As the whispering grew once more, he realised he maybe didn’t want to be so close to the disturbance.

“Who’s out there?” he asked, this time with a lot more authority. The revolver spilled from the holster into his hand, the weight a relief in a tense moment. His approach slowed and he adopted a more defensive stance, minimising his centre of gravity and presenting a smaller target. Stupidly, he’d already not only revealed his position, but also that he represented the air force. It could just be a lost homeless person up ahead, but it could be something worse.

The alcohol should have given him a little extra courage, but instead he found the slight lapse in his orientation, the blurriness of his vision and the slight ringing in his ears to be more distracting than anything else. If he was entering a fight, he’d have preferred to have been in full mental faculty than confident.

A shape moved up ahead, Timothy ducked down and kept still for a second. Still moving, still whispering. Looking down at his arm, he did feel the hairs standing on end, a slight crackle in the air as the static ran between the trees.

Just what in blazes was going on?

He narrowed his eyes, making out the shape to be a man, walking slowly and purposely through the woods, glancing about occasionally. General field tactics dictated for him to attempt to engage from the rear, which had caused some sniggering from the other recruits in his original training, but now the tactic did make a lot of sense. Unable to completely make out which direction it was heading in, he decided to move south, and then attempt to upend it.

Moving away from the shape, he began to feel as if he were doing the right thing, it was a frightful image, and one that was causing difficulty, but he kept his cool. It was heading in precisely the direction of where he’d been when he was yelling through the trees. A brief flash of light, and then back to darkness. In the second of inferno, he was able to make out a black robe, and a single white, very spindly hand protruding forward from within the cloth, holding some kind of thin implement.

This was too odd for him to tackle alone, and bringing the service weapon into play might kill someone the air force were going to be very interested in speaking with. Thus he brought up his walkie talkie, and buzzed into command. While he whispered, the dispatch didn’t have the same degree of decorum, and asked for his call sign in clear, loud tones. Before he could silence the device, the thing was walking toward him, no doubt drawn by the sound. The moon caught the white hand as it approached.

Timothy couldn’t help but notice a power on the ground where the thing had been walking. It reflected moonlight, and looked distinctly alien in these parts of the country. It almost looked like silver powder.

Spotting the prone airman on the forest floor, the wizard’s hand raised and a voice uttered the words for the killing curse. A shock of green energy fried the air as it thudded through Timothy Campbell, ending him there. The dispatch at the station continued asking for his call sign, before hanging up in frustration.

“He’s gone,” she muttered angrily, not knowing just how correct she was.

The figure tread across the ground, bending down and taking a good look at the man who had accosted him. He looked so pathetically human, mundane, not quite deserving of life. He had been fighting a war, as his uniform demonstrated.

There was going to be another war, the one to end the others.

-

Back at the base, a blonde woman from the informatics pool popped her head around the door into the analysis department, and found no signs of the man she’d assumed was going to be collecting his stuff from in there. She might have been a little harsh earlier, and was wanting to see if he wanted a second attempt at wooing her. Stepping further into the room, she did notice his computer was turned on, and the page he’d been on before he’d left in a hurry. With her meagre statistical training, even she instantly knew where he’d gone. The North Sea receiver showing now 253EE, and then in a flash, 0. Something was going on.

She’d not been able to find Timothy anywhere else on the base, not to mention his own quarters, and couldn’t help but assume he was out walking through the storm in an attempt to get to the bottom of all this. She sighed, this was totally like him, but she was going to have to go and get him. However, she wasn’t going to brave the ran and the gales without telling someone where she was going, she pulled out a bulky mobile phone and called it in with the site security that there was a strange reading at one of the exterior stations and it looked like an analyst was caught in the storm.

Caught by whom though?
Harry Potter: Wizarding War Chapter Two
So this is the second chapter of my Harry Potter story, Harry Potter: Wizarding War. It takes place both during the first wizarding war and then immediately after the second in both the wizard and muggle worlds. I'm trying to add as much as I can to the mythos without stepping on any toes. Please give it a read and favourite or review. Thanks!
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A tale in which a young wizard discovers more of himself than he might have liked, and a long lost hero gets her due. This story takes place both during the year after the siege of Hogwarts and twenty three years previously, during the dark victory of Voldemort in his first reign as Dark Lord. Even the brilliant candlelights of Hogwarts keep were turned to smoke and whispering ash, the towers jagged and mottled against an indifferent moon.

1975.

Forbidden Forest, wolf country.

Another howl, this one louder, this one closer.

They were gaining, the poor brutes. Her feet pawed through the maze of tree roots and stones along the forest floor, a place as filled with pitfalls as the dungeons of the school itself. One slip and it would all be over.

“The secret is,” she thought to herself, distracted for a moment, “not to slip.”

Behind her a snarl in the darkness, and shortly afterward, a wet whelp made it clear that the shadows contained a mass of teeth and claws and bloodlust, but not much intelligence. A wolf had collided with the particularly sharp spines of Scythescale bush, no doubt planted by Professor Sprout when the forest had been more encouraging for exploration. The place didn’t suit tending any more, it suited being burned to the ground.

How more muggles weren’t dragged to their deaths in the infinite shadows and caverns of the deep woods was beyond her. A witch in her final year of school had seen much of what the Forbidden Forest could do, most of it terrible, but muggle hikers had no idea of what lurked in the depths.

Another howl. The moon shone through the upper canopy of trees as Sylvia turned to look. The wretch’s skin was a hollow and sanguine pale, hairless, though trying in places, with an almost sorry look about it. A werewolf was a man with all of the urges and strength of a wolf, but none of the poise or grace. Humans were ugly creatures by comparison, and the sleek, streamlined quality of a wolf was lost in translation. It was perhaps a few feet behind her before she removed her wand from the cloak about her shoulders. Without uttering a word, the monster was dispatched with a wave and a thought. No time for worrying about how this all looked.

She had to escape the castle, and she had to make it look like she’d been caught by something dire while attempting it. Hence the midnight chase through enemy territory, hence the secrecy, hence the danger.

She found herself cursing her ragged breath, her stamina was waning. While the wolves may have lacked any magical ability, they did have good old fashioned brute strength. They could have been anywhere in the pitch. Hogsmeade was near, only a hop skip and a jump down the exterior ridge of the bluff the castle was situated on. Then it would be a short journey to Highland Scotland, and then back into the cities somewhere, back to the real world.

If she made it, that was.

Not wanting to lose her balance, or her life, she stopped at a pleasant clearing, something that hadn’t been expected in this part of the world. Even in the dead of night there was some shimmering quality to the flora that some unearthly hand must have been involved. It was almost distracting enough to make her forget…

The werewolves.

Both stood up on their hind legs, extending their shoulders and backs, growing from around five feet whilst curled up, into a majestic eight and a half. Despite her training, Sylvia couldn’t help but let out a sound from between her lips that reminded her of her mother’s favourite drink.

A little whine.

Neither of the wolves could agree on what to follow this cornering victory up with. Wolves were the ultimate pack hunter, but where they worked as a team, the gangly human equivalent quickly fell into infighting. Professor Kettleburn might have been quick to point out the smaller creature’s more submissive behaviour and signs of mange, as well as ask the class just how to get out of such dire straights. After all the time she’d spent studying the texts, there wasn’t a single solution coming to mind.

Her wand was in her hand.

Once the display of dominance was at its end, the larger werewolf began to approach, sniffing at the air, totally ensuring that there was no one lurking just out of sight, waiting to ruin its fun. It took a step forward, with no soil displaced at its print, magical creatures always stepped lightly. She’d been hoping it wouldn’t end this way, she’d been hoping she’d end up with a better plan.

Everyone had seen her rushing into the Forbidden Forest, wild eyed and fleeing the increased authoritarian methods of the teachers to keep them safe and out of the hands of those who sought to cause great harm to witch, wizard and muggle alike. Then the cheers of victory stopped as the howls of the wolves came up. The Dark Lord had long set his eyes on Hogwarts as a jewel in the crown of the magical establishment. Were he able to increase his reach within the walls, then an entire generation of witches and wizards would be his for the taking. Thus far his intrusion had been held back at the gates of the school, but the Forbidden Forest was another matter. It was Forbidden for a reason.

It was precisely this thought that passed Sylvia’s mind as the wolf grew so close she could smell the stench of rotten flesh on its breath, of the wild winds on its fur, and the song of swift death in its claws. Both of them were on her, growing closer and closer, mouths watering with the thought of tearing her limb from limb.

After all, what could she do to stop them?

“Do you think it worked?” she asked. “For a moment Ben I thought the wolfsbane hadn’t taken.”

The atmosphere lifted significantly, and freed from their part they were playing within the escape, the two wolves sat down on their haunches and giggled in a soft, canine way. The Forbidden Forest might have been filled with the servants of evil, but it didn’t hurt for appearances or for safety having a couple of them along for the ride. The ruse might have the school fooled, but Sylvia knew better than to underestimate the faculty. Once word got back to Dumbledore et al, there was going to be trouble.

Neither of the wolves were able to communicate past general grunts and barks, as their throats no longer possessed the power of speech, but there was an air of understanding that for the moment, the school was under the impression she’d been chased into the depths of evil by a mutiny of gangly killing machines. The pace could slow to a more comfortable one however, now that they were free from the charade.

The forest was a lot more of a pleasant place now she wasn’t on her own either, and even the more adventurous creatures wouldn’t dare stray near her path. Werewolves did not hesitate to brutalise their prey, and there certainly were other wolves in amongst the trees. The moon was about as full as it could possibly get, and even Sylvia could feel a little shimmer of its power. Black clouds were doing their best to cover the depth of the corpse light, but it could do nothing compared to the ancient power of the lunar surface.

Sylvia was pleased at the uninterrupted guide they had through the trees, it really was almost as clear as day. Soon after they passed through the final layer of brush before the cliff’s edge, the candle lit down of Hogsmeade was just bright enough to shine through the moonlight. This was a place where Voldemort’s influence hadn’t tainted everything yet. The people were still compelled to turn their lights on, not like in London and the South, where the nights were now spent hiding beneath beds and furniture, praying for the dawn and the absence of a knock at the door.

That was exactly what she was fighting against, what the three of them were fighting against. There was nothing she could have done while still at school, but people were dying out there, good people, at the hands of cowards and hatemongers, all for believing that people were people, no matter what their background or purity.

“It’s all very pretty,” she turned to them, starry eyed. “But it doesn’t help us being stuck on this cliff edge. Do either of you know a way down the hillside?”

Ben and Regis Thompson had been vehement in their promise that they could get Sylvia out of the school and back into the world, by any means necessary. While the wolfsbane potion was primarily used to grant a werewolf their human mind back after a transformation had been completed, the effects were never 100% as expected. Ben always lost much of his intelligence despite the promises of the recipe, and Regis always gave into the wildness slightly too much. But they had never harmed Sylvia, never came close to it, even without the brew keeping their minds sane.

Regis kept close to her, growing tall and broadening his shoulders, attempting to look bigger should anyone happen upon them, while Ben bounded ahead on his hands and feet, looking more like a big baby than a killing machine. That wasn’t to underestimate them however, the two twins were more than capable of reducing cattle to a clean carcass in a few minutes, and had slain more monsters than the heroes of old. The fact was that they were dangerous creatures, no matter how close she might have been to them, and she had to respect that, or one day find herself on the receiving end of their curious bloodlust.

Scampering off ahead, Ben whimpered noisily, indicating he was onto a trail. He couldn’t communicate what scent it was, but after some communing with his brother, it was agreed that it was a good lead. Just as well, the clouds did seem to be winning their war against the light, and the forest was becoming an increasingly desolate place by comparison to the little town down the hill.

She’d been hoping to come face to face with a centaur. She knew the creatures called those woods their home, but it was more than probable that her current companions were to blame for the lack of friendliness on their part. Or perhaps it was a sign of the times. Centaurs required stability in their lives, they had a civilisation much as the humans did, and perhaps the forest just wasn’t safe any more for a buck to raise a family.

They continued along the trail for perhaps ten minutes or so, before the two lupine companions stopped, sniffed the ground, and then sniffed the air. Something was wrong, something might have been wrong for quite a long time. A thud, and another, and another. Slow, lumbering, and almost random in its wandering. Troll definitely. The three of them hunkered down in the undergrowth. If they were quiet enough, and kept out of sight, then the thing would certainly stroll past without any further thought.

Sylvia was shocked and appalled at the sheer volume of insects that joined her in the brush. She batted them from her skin, and tried her best to do the same for the two werewolves. After a few seconds though, she noted that every bug she pulled from her cloak was distinctly arachnid in origin. So much so that she realised they were crouching mired in spiders in all directions. The troll continued walking its path, but the three had to struggle even harder to avoid being noticed.

That was until one of the big brothers showed up. A foot in length and bearing down on them hard, it was Regis who made the move, silencing the spider with a claw through the head. The beast squealed in sickening pain.

There had been word of an Acromantula living beyond the trees throughout the school ever since she’d enrolled seven years prior, but Sylvia had never once considered the rumours to be true. They were native to the swamps of South America, and wouldn’t long survive the brutal Scottish winters. She might have thought all that, and genuinely believed it, but confronted with the largest arachnid she’d ever seen, she was beginning to think twice. The Thompsons circled her, keeping her back against a tree, while the troll still thumped its way about its route.

Caught between a club and a spider’s web. Her major difficulty was in the realisation at how stupid all of this was. Faking a werewolf attack to get into the forest was the easy part of the plan, not the only one. She’d done nothing over the past hour or so but put more distance between herself and anyone who could help her.

The spiders were massing, the small ones on the ground and a brood of larger brothers tumbling over one another as they approached. For such ferocious beasts, they were timid in the presence of the werewolves, but gained in confidence as their number grew. Regis swept his hand back and forth, clawing at the larger of the encroaching hoard, but doing little to hold them back. Ben was itching with the conflict between launching an all out assault on the creatures, and staying quiet for the troll. In the end, the decision was made for them.

Rustling from the depths of an ancient nest, the first leg of a fully grown Spider King slipped through the fallen leaves, extending itself through the night air before thrusting itself into the ground with enough force to lift the weight of its body. Another leg raised up, before the rest came pouring through the dirt, carrying a beast that easily dwarfed both Thompsons put together.

“Why… Why do you disturb my slumber?” the spider croaked in haunting monster speech. The vanguard retreated, surrounding him and covering most of his exposed, hairy, skin. All Sylvia could really see were the glint of a wall of eyes, while judging from her friend’s expressions, there was a lot more terrifying sights she was missing out on. Perhaps that was for the best.

The actual concept of communicating with the Acromantula was lost on her for a few moments, as the weight of the seriousness of her misadventure was becoming clear. She stuttered somewhat, looking to her friends for ideas, before having to rely on herself.

“Speak,” the spider instructed, “before I lose my patience!”

Off in the distance, a footstep sounded closer. The troll had heard them.

“Shh,” Sylvia sighed. “It’s going to hear us.”

“Let it! I have no fear in my heart for any forest troll. My children will feast upon its entrails.”

What should she have expected from a spider? Directness might have failed her, and as the Thompsons beside her began to whimper louder in fear, knowing they were hopelessly outgunned, she decided to be significantly more conciliatory.

“Spider King of the Forbidden Forest,” she bowed, trying not to take her eyes off the first line of guards, which were once more growing in confidence. “I kindly request, nay, beseech thee. A great evil has stolen this land from my friends and my family, and without my help, everything we hope for will be lost forever. Please, allow me, safe passage through these woods and I shall repay you a thousand times over.”

One of the Thompsons grunted beside her, offended.

“Oh yes, grant me and my friends safe passage, thank you.”

She shifted backward, amazed at her diplomacy and ability to actually force the words out. She’d had a million nightmares just like this. The kind where all you can do is scream. As the troll continued its journey to investigate the scuttling and hushed voices, the spiders seemed to be convening between one another. As they communicated in their own tongue, their eyes flitted back between Sylvia, Ben and Regis, before beginning the cycle anew. They could have been discussing the merits or her argument, or which they were about to eat first.

After a few seconds, some enthusiastic consensus had clearly been reached. The King lifted itself up, almost struggling against its own bulk as well as that of its brood, and took a step forward.

“Your name…” it asked, without much intention on display.

“Sylvia Merkin,” she answered in as political a tone as she could muster. She’d never been so composed. The two wolves snickered behind her, but they cut this out after she gave them a look that could kill. A basilisk would have been proud.

“Sylvia of clan Merkin, my name is Aragog. I am the father of the family you see before you. These are my sons and my daughters, and as the head of the household, I need to provide for my brethren…”

Sylvia had already began running away, she wasn’t going to wait around for him to explain the specific reason why he was going to kill her. The Thompsons were right behind her. Regis was the swifter of the two, but Ben could carry a larger load. So he grasped her by her waist and hoisted her, in one smooth motion, up to her back where she could hold on. Their escape was fantastically quick, with the whole party of two werewolves, a family of ravenous Acromantulas, passing by the most confused troll in the world, who also decided to join in the chase for good measure.

“Funny how it works out,” she chuckled aloud, at least slightly confident that they were getting out of there. “I really thought the two of you were going to be the ugliest creatures I ran into tonight. Guess you’ll have to settle for third and fourth.”

Ben barked back a rebuttal, but quickly returned to the chase. The trees were dense here, but not so strong as to hold back the rampaging troll. With each step it barrelled closer to them, with the spiders bunching up in the middle to avoid being crushed.

There! Up ahead!

A turn in the path that definitively lead down the hill. If they could just break through the treeline, then the spiders would be exposed, and the troll would balk at charging through the light. She felt Ben increase the pace of his sprint, while his brother did the same. The spiders might have been gaining, but not for much longer.

She smiled in victory, but did have to hedge her bets. A shadow in the path up ahead. A shadow growing closer. Ben saw it too. Another danger. She was beginning to realise just why this place was called the Forbidden Forest after all.

There was nowhere they could go. The path down the hillside was in between two sheer cliffs, and then to the right there was only the denseness of the wood, and their pursuers, desperate to consume them. At least, while brazen, this shadow wasn’t large enough to pose much threat unless it was a significantly evil magical creature, something unheard of in the wilds around Hogwarts. Perhaps a vampire. Sylvia’s imagination ran away with her, and soon the cloaked figure was indeed a Dracula, just waiting to consume her. The Thompsons continued their escape, and ploughed right past the shape, attempting to evade it.

Sylvia rolled her eyes in disbelief.

Not a vampire.

Not a ghost.

Not a shade.

Not even a pixie.

It was Billie.

It had to be Billie didn’t it. The goofy Ravenclaw was the exact kind of fool to chase after Sylvia into the Forbidden Forest at night. Ot it could have been that she was out there for completely other reasons. However, she was now in danger, and in the way of their escape.

Sylvia tried to reach down and pluck Billie from the ground, to throw her up onto Regis’ back, but she didn’t have a tenth the strength of Ben. Instead, it just meant that she, Billie, Ben and Regis, Aragog and family and the troll all piled up into one wriggling, furious pile.

“You should not have ran from us, girl,” the spider cautioned, though what Sylvia could have done to placate him was beyond her imagination. Perhaps he would accept Billie as a compromise. She laughed to herself, though sprang from the mound of limbs as quickly as she could. Wands drawn, Billie and Sylvia edged backward, while the werewolves crouched ahead of them, ready to pounce.

It was the spiders who came first, scurrying over the ground in a mass of teeth and spindly legs. They could be kept at bay with the knockback jinx cast as rapidly as possible, though they were able to summon more strength in numbers than the girls could with their wands. Aragog the Spider King was bearing down on them too, with the werewolves using their dirtiest tactics to slash at his eyes and distract him as much as possible.

Billie, wide eyed and unsure of what part she should play in this cacophony of magical and animal warfare, saw the troll rising from the ground, a look of fury on its face. Generally, while violent to an extent, trolls mostly kept to themselves. This one had found a multitude of creatures deserving of its rage, and so, began stumbling forward in the direction of the humans.

“Stupefy!” Billie screamed shrilly, sending a bolt of magic through the air, that collided squarely with the thick forehead of the troll.

Sylvia couldn’t believe it. Stupefy? Against a troll? She’d have had better luck just throwing her wand and hoping it went in its eyes. The werewolves screeched as the spiders began to turn the tide of the assault, tearing the skin from Ben’s front paw, and biting Regis straight into his calf. And more came, piling forward and forward toward them. Sylvia Merkin had had quite enough of all this, she hadn’t fled school to die in the middle of the Forbidden Forest surrounded by the trappings of her own stupidity. No, she was going to die heroically, though preferably not at all.

Focusing her energy on the perfect flick of the wrist, she spoke clearly and concisely.

“Wingardium leviosa.”

Nothing happened, at least at first, though the absence of an effect was enough to stop everyone in their tracks. They were transfixed on what came next. Struggling against the invisible energy, the troll began to slowly lift from the ground. First an impossible inch, and then further still, until it was hovering a few feet in the air, and then all the way above their heads. It fought, yes it fought, but was no match for wizard skill.

The spiders took this as an advantage, pressing forward in the sudden power vacuum that Sylvia had wrought on them all. Billie tried a few more ineffective spells, that seemed to annoy the spiders more than anything else, but it was Sylvia who once again stopped them in their tracks.

“Aragog, King of the Spiders,” she began.

“Yes, human Merkin,” he responded, which caused an even more raucous laughter from the werewolves than previously.

“You lay claim to these lands, and to my flesh.”

“I do, and I wish to press that claim,” he said, continuing forward for a beat. Only for a beat.

“I hold in my possession something you might be interested in.”

“What could you possibly hold that I desire more than the tiny morsels of your human flesh?”

“A forest troll.”

The spiders all looked up as one, noticing the sheer bulk of the creature hanging in the air above them. Aragog twitched forward, eyes suddenly not as hungry, not as beady as they had been before.

“Merkin, perhaps I have been too hasty…”

The troll fell from the air. Of all the bugs she’d ever squashed in her lifetime, Sylvia was the proudest of this particular instance.

And soon they were off, an unlikely foursome, hoping the horrors of the forest were behind them.
Harry Potter: Wizarding War Chapter One
Just a small experiment I'm doing in writing some fan fiction. I'm a big Potter fan, but the time of the first Wizarding War is barely covered in the books, aside from some reveals and so on, so I thought I'd try and write a story that could fill in the blanks in the time after Voldemort came to power but before he's defeated by Harry Potter for the very first time.

If you like it please do let me know what you think, and if you don't please give me some guidance too. I'm trying to get better :)
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A veil cast about my eyes.

I felt a soft pressure, pushing me downward as if I were falling into taught fabric.

The force of the substance was enough to give resistance for a beat, but only for a beat.

Shock explodes.

The mind reels.

A girl dies under a shower of splintering wood.

All my friends and family look on in sheer terror.

Calmness takes me.

Thick and impossibly dense calmness, the darkness of the deep; without sight or sound for a generation, for an eternity in all directions.

There isn’t anything, everything has let me go, and I fall forever.

I fall through sunsets on misty shores, through soft summer walks in fields thick with crops as tall as my head, past moments of brilliant importance, moonlight reflected in wet cobblestone, sobbing in a watercloset, a hand to hold, let go, and then the very first breath.

-

I awoke in the apartments with no memory of my travels, though the toll they had taken was readily apparent in the reflection in the polished silver mirror above the dressing table. Cuts across my face and torso, deep and likely to scar, red as blood in places, pink as flesh in others. My breath came ragged, wheezing in a throat that had not seen liquid in an age. A coughing fit took me, the pain in my abdomen a flame with each nauseous wretch forward. The ivory white nightgown splattered with viscera. I tried to matt the stain with my hands, but I only smoothed it into the dress. My fingers were soon thick with the blood.

Water. In the decanter on the table, I lifted it and drowned the pain, filling my stomach to bursting. Parts of the gown turned see-through with the wastage, and I retired to the sheets before someone could discover me in amongst the horror. In this animated state I was lost amid terrors unbound, receding into a primal state. My hair had become saturated with the wretched remains, so where it went, so too did a spray of thick rouge. The bedclothes were ruined, as was I. Thus I made my best to clamber beneath them and hide from whatever the world might bring.

The intensity peaked within me, causing every muscle to betray me, shambling, shivering. A phantom clicking sound coming from beyond the portal by the roaring hearth. I wrest the sheets back, watching every shadow billowing in the calamity, eyes bulging with alarm as I had never experienced. My mind was a blank slate, with no idea of what might be beyond the quilted finery of the door, no memory of this place, or even my own name. I had left myself somewhere. I had left myself.

When the source of the impending clicking sound smartly opened the door in one fluid motion, seemingly without using either of his hands; occupied as they were in carrying a silver tray, I fell back slightly. I haven’t the faintest what I was expecting to breach the entrance, but it certainly hadn’t been the white haired in man in the impeccable black suit. To my eyes he seemed almost a comical character, which turned my fear to laughter.

“It’s funny is it now?” he smiled genuinely, which put me at complete ease, and proceeded to lift the cover from the tray. Piping hot roast beef dinner, with ice cream and chocolate pudding for afters. I might not have known his face, but I knew a delicious meal when I saw it.

And smelled it.

He had to restrain me from the feast, trying as he was to clean the stain from around my mouth where it had been spat. In only a few minutes I’d scarfed down the lot, which led to me sitting, comfortably full, on the edge of the bed. I was still reticent to venture further, but in higher spirits than I had been.

“Thank you.”

I found an unexpected politeness flowing, and as quickly as that, my words had returned to me.

“You’re most welcome,” he responded, just as surprised as I.

We remained in our astonishment for a moment, neither of us knowing exactly how to follow it up, but he took the initiative and bid to sit down on the bed next to me. I waved him an acceptance and moved to cover some of the blood soaking through the material.

“Mistress, what a pleasant feeling it is to see you in such vitality once more. The Master had warned me you wouldn’t be quite yourself…”

We both looked down at the blood, and some of the colour did rush from his face. He was trying not to see it, he was trying to see something in me, something that wasn’t there. After a deep sigh and a tight squeeze of my hand, he stood and composed himself.

“I’ll have the maid come and replace the sheets, do give the bell a ring any time you require something, and come back to us soon Lady Rosetta, for all our sakes.”

And with that he left.

Those clicks that had filled me with such an animal reaction were replaced by the most human of qualities. I felt nothing but sore sorrow and a desperate urge to help the poor fellow. Desperately, depressingly, I pored through my mind attempting to remember a single detail of the place, attempting to remember a single detail of him, of my situation, of who and where I was. I found nothing but a looming darkness, and a promise. The same promise that follows every man from birth. My reach exceeded my grasp, and standing above the parapet of dreams, I saw only true emptiness. There was nothing within me, nothing I could recall.

In that first evening I scanned the place, reminding myself of my letters, and then reading something from a book of poetry on the bookshelf. The visions it conjured were fascinating, completely fascinating. So much so that I barely looked up from the tome until I’d read it from cover to cover. The novelty of making sense of the words wore off after some time, but in those initial moments of success I felt such strong pride.

The house was a noisy one, and from time to time the clatter of metal from the kitchen would give me a fright, or the clicking of the small man from an unseen corridor would echo all the way to my bed. As promised the maid arrived and greeted me uncertainly, I stood up and allowed her to clear the bedclothes, sheltering by the reduced flames of the dying fire for warmth in the duration. I knew to hold my arms up as I myself were undressed. She asked if I required a bath, but I suggested that I wait for morning, though I had not seen one yet.

“For the blood, Mistress,” she put up a little fight, indicating to the mess of browning residue hanging from the threads of my hair. To this I shook my head, and once the new nightgown had been slipped onto my pale form, I bounced back into the comfort of my rest. She left behind her a tall jug of ice water, and some small sandwiches to nibble on should I find myself to hunger even after my supper. I left the food well alone, but did drink some more water, tending to the stains on my teeth with my tongue in the mirror. I knew I was acting out of turn to be performing in such an uncouth manner, even alone, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get the job done. It felt somewhat like I’d been trained to think that way, and consciously there was no reason not to hold my lips wide open and ring my tongue back and forth across the filth until it was removed. It tasted of metal, and I was glad to be rid of it.

She’d been eyeing my scars quite closely, never meeting my eye line, always looking slightly to the right at my pink mark, or a little below and to the left for my red. I covered them in the reflection in the mirror, and smiled. You couldn’t tell any more. They were marks that would draw looks, and ones that might have drawn me were they owned by some other poor soul. I didn’t know how long I’d had them. Had I been born wearing them, or were they a part of why I was there in that house with the little man and the fidgety maid? I didn’t know. As the hours passed, more and more of the mechanics of my world became clear to me, and I remembered how to live in it. I remembered walking and talking and breathing and travelling and how to sew, how to play the harp, how to ride, but I knew nothing of myself.

The man had called me Rosetta, but that name didn’t fit. As if wearing someone else’s clothes. I felt as if I were taking it from someone else, and so left it behind.

I wasn’t Rosetta as much as I wasn’t the little man or the fidgety woman, the King himself or some other famous character. But I couldn’t simply exist in the world nameless, I had to choose one for myself. The Bible remembered itself to me, and I thought of all the names that might have been right for one such as me, but nothing seemed to fit. Nothing I wore was made for me.

Which is when I saw it, the little ball of dried blood, ripped from somewhere in my chest. A little piece of Scarlet.

As if slipping on an old and well worn cloak, a friend to the storms and from the knives in the darkness. And so I was Scarlet.

I watched the reflection, repeating the name, feeling how it felt on the tongue, how I might speak it in certain situations, and it did feel simply marvellous to say. While my hair was silver blonde, and while my skin was as white as snow, I did have a red mark and a pink mark, and they were as much a part of me as any of the rest.

Scarlet it was.

Scarlet I was.

I read some of the other books on the shelf, feeling need for sleep but having an aversion to giving in to the urges of my body, I kept myself awake until the early hours of the morning, remembering more and more of life in this modern age. King George IV was experiencing a graceful reign, the streets of London were more tightly packed than ever, and plague was afoot in the countryside. I knew this. A great highwayman had been captured nearby and hanged from an oak tree, his accomplices picked off one by one by man and dog as they fled the scene of his capture. I knew this much also.

There were no books in the meagre library with the subject of my current lodgings. The name wasn’t known to me for reference, and there was no monograph on the parchments or decorations. I would have quite enjoyed finding a thing or two out about myself. It had become crystal clear that I was one without memory of my own history, but of the world I knew as much as any normal folk. I was a blank slate, and one that had already gone through some rather harrowing experiences purely in a room on her own. My own eyes lingered, though softly, on the marks on my face, all the while I tried to send them anywhere else. Behind me the bed called me to sleep.

When the sun had fully reached beyond the horizon and finally once more crested the waking world, I drew myself up from my fitful rest and, just for a moment, I was lost once more. Memory is such a curious thing, so important and so centric to our entire selves, and yet so fragile as to be lost in an instant, never to return. In my confusion I lay on my side, watching the wallpaper and trying to decipher the pattern. I was nameless, formless, and too still. Then it all flooded back.

The smart little man must have had some precognition abilities, as he was able to walk through the door at the precise moment that I rose and wiped the sleep from my eyes. There was still a forlornness about him, knuckles white as his hands gripped the silver tray. The clicking skipped as he jumped, realising I was awake, before picking up the rhythm once more as he placed it down on the table.

“I hope there’s been much improvement overnight.”

“I suppose so,” I answered brightly, clambering out of the sheets a little and feeling the thrill of cold, morning air. At this he turned for the entrance, and left in as quick a fashion as when he’d entered. The door swung softly on muffled hinges, and remained so for a while until the energy had been expended. I scoffed my breakfast and then returned to bed, thinking I would spend the rest of the day perhaps reading, or trying to coax some conversation from my flighty hosts. After only a few hours of it however I was bored stiff, and was ready for a little more adventure than I’d bargained for.

My fingers brushed the raised scars on my face, they were unusually smooth, as if kissed by the lick of fire. The skin was stretched tight across them, and itched slightly at my touch. They didn’t feel as if they were truly attached to me, barely a part of anything. But they were me, and I had to remember that.

I looked up from my dazed glance to the mirror, and saw a girl once again holding the skin of her face, and decided I’d been inside for long enough. It was a bright, crisp morning and I wanted to find out just where I was, and perhaps, why I was too. The door that the small man had appeared from each time had almost taken on a mystical quality. Having not seen what was beyond, it was as if it were a portal to the real world, or perhaps an exit from it.

Turning the knob, the air rushed out from the bedroom suite and into the void. I smelled perfume and cooking, and the mustiness of old wooden places. The furniture in the next room was both fine and comfortable, all positioned around another fireplace. It appeared to be a receiving room in the apartment, and the centre of the activity in this part of the upper floor. There did seem to be some evidence of upheaval, spilled drinks, some debris and signs of the furniture being knocked out of place, but I thought little of it as I stepped sprightly across the wooden beam floor.

There was some degree of commotion going on outside, but I couldn’t make head or tail of it stepping through and onto the landing of the grand stair case. The entire hall must have been the size of a cathedral, and decorated as exquisitely. From the lush thick carpeting from the lower floor all the way up until the entrance of my wing, to the classical architecture of the pillars and ceiling artistry, as well as the sheer number of colours represented in different forms across the room. A menagerie of rich purples and decadent blues, far more than some royals could afford to adorn themselves with. I’d never seen such a complete feast for the eyes.

My hands wrapped tightly around the material of my dress, working the smooth coolness back and forth as I tried to take it in. Overstimulated, I fell back, echoes filling the room at my movement. Statues and busts lined the walls, bridging the gap between the antiquated and the modern, there were poets, artists and scholars from across every age present, and even some faces I did not dream to recognise. Matching the physical art on the floor was the enormous detailed friezes taking up the walls, between the paper on the lower level and the emerald painted space above them was completely alive with visions of the past, the present and the future. When I followed the images from right to left, I had to gasp and stop at the painting dead centre of the room. The frame was gold, the portraiture unparalleled. It was the subject, however, or rather the subjects, that shocked me so.

On the left of the frame stood a proud and well dressed man, in typical dress of the time. His brow was concerned yet confident, his face full yet not fat. Handsome, still young though creeping further in age than he might like, and with a delicate disposition in the eyes. I’d have passed it by, but the woman on his arm, the one with the vacant stare and the slack expression, the one holding tightly as if letting go might spiral her further than she might expect, the one looking as if she’d prefer to be anywhere else in the world-

Looked just like me.

A hard shriek shot out of me, and I fell backward, tipping over a side table and spilling whatever was contained in a jug atop it. I leapt to run, but someone grabbed me from behind. I tore forward but it was no use, no use at all. My fingers tore up carpet as my weight was hauled backward, tears blurring my vision and head spinning too fast to comprehend. I don’t remember much past that.
The Promise P1
Hi, so I'm looking into putting some of my writing out into the world for people to read, so I hope you can leave some feedback, it would be awesome to hear what you think! Essentially this is the first part of a story I intend to be a lot more action packed than the first appearances give, though this should change very quickly! 
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Jonny James
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
I write every day, and hope I'm improving. Let me know what you think of my stuff!
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AtriaClara Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hello and welcome to deviantArt! Hope you enjoy your stay! :D
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Shining-Scribe Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Hello there! Thank you very much for choosing to join :iconunseen-writers:. Feel free to submit your written works to our gallery and help yourself to sampling the works of other writers our gallery has to offer. A writing prompt, our theme of the week, is produced every Monday to help provide creative inspiration. I hope we'll be able to help you grow as a writer. Heart
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hewrites Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks very much :D
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