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Why did you fail me? He asks in an icy tone. I thought you wanted this to be your glorifying achievement…

I did! the hooded figure on the floor implores, trying his best to win Him back, to show Him his loyalty… Potter got in the way! If he hadn’t been there, they wouldn’t have been distracted! It’s like I’ve been trying to tell you –

Do you dare to contradict me? He demands, rising suddenly to cross the room to stand before him. I thought I told you before already that there can be no more excuses, no more mishaps, no more mistakes! From here on out, every step must be executed with precision and decisiveness, or all else will fail. Do you understand me?

B-b-but Master, I –

In one swift motion, He swoops down and picks him up off the floor by the front of his cloak, His long pale fingers clutched around his neck. He begins to splutter for air, dangling helplessly in The Man’s grasp.

Silence! He hisses at him, pulling him closer to His own face. Never before have I ever had a more disobedient servant than you!

Master – I – I – apologize – really – I

QUIET! Disgusted, He finally throws him to the ground again, sending him barreling into the nearby wall. He rubs his throat vigorously, trying to get the feeling back in his windpipe again, and removes his hood to reveal his face. Master, he begins delicately, using the wall to stand as thin bars of moonlight fall across his pale blonde head, I honestly meant no disrespect, but I just wanted to point out to you that perhaps, things will be harder now that they are together…I mean, the Oracle said so herself that –

- Do not speak of the Oracle here fool! There are spies from the other side even here, amongst my own ranks. But yes, I do realize the complications due to their relationship. He crosses over to the dirty curtained window and slowly draws back the fabric, revealing the dimly lit spider web network of streetlights below. But I have a plan, He mutters quietly, a plan to fix all that…in due time of course…

Will it involve me, my Lord?

The Man turns and faces the simpleton behind him with hidden skepticism in his eyes as a malicious smile crosses normally unreadable features. Actually, yes, I do believe that this time I will once again require your assistance. He turns to face the window again as his hand slides stealthily to his pocket. But first…

CRUCIO!


“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

I wake up thrashing around on the floor like a mad woman, trapped in the confines of my own blankets. “What the -?! Where am I?!”

Glancing up, I can see I’ve fallen out of the bed I slept in, and sunlight is streaming in through the open curtains of the window on the other wall, probably meaning that it’s still before noon. I’m still in the clothes I was in yesterday, which is a relief, since that probably means that no clothes-changing-people-perverts got to me. “Hello?” I finally call out timidly as I attempt to untangle myself from the sheets. “Anyone else in here?” As I look around the room, it becomes apparent to me that there’s no one else in here with me, at least, until I hear the voice from the wardrobe.

“Are you going to change deary, or do you intend to go out in public looking like someone that went and got in a fight and went to sleep in the clothes they scuffled about in?”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! TALKING FURNITURE!”

Without even bothering to close the door behind me, I take off pell-mell into the hallway, disoriented but nevertheless determined to make my way out of this nutter house. Tearing down the nearby staircase, I nearly run over a little hunched back woman muttering to herself about the price of dragon’s blood being far more expensive than it should be.
Dragon’s blood?!

“I say! Watch where you’re going, will ya? If you ask me, far too many hooligans like yourself wandering around late at night! Preposterous! Simply preposterous! Write a letter to the Ministry I will, just you wait and see! Now get on your way! ‘Bout time I went and talked with Maybell it is…”

Without waiting for another word, I dodge around her and skip the last flight of stairs with a jump I didn’t even know myself that I was capable of, and find myself in a room very much like that of a normal bar. Save for the fact that there are two hags squabbling in a foreign language at the booth in the back, and there’s a man at a table a few chairs away from me snapping his fingers together to light his pipe. “Lovely day, isn’t it?” he asks, gesturing out the door behind him. I take off without a second thought through it, and find myself trapped between the back of the building, and a large brick wall. I could try climbing it, I think to myself, beginning to panic. Don’t be thick! a second voice chimes in. It’s far too tall! And there’s no footholds!

I’m beginning to wonder if this inn comes with its own complementary inner demons.

“Might want to try tapping the bricks,” says a real voice from behind me. I spin on my heel to find myself face to face with a tall, black-haired boy about my age by the looks of it, with a childish grin on his face.

“P-p-pardon?”

“The bricks,” he says again, stepping forward. “You just tap them, like this.” He reaches out to the spot beside my head and runs his finger over the wall in a certain way, and before I know it, the bricks are jumping apart to form a hole, and I’m left gaping at this stranger (and the hidden alley of shops appearing in front of me) like he’s some kind of….

Oh, right.

“Uh, you’re a wizard, aren’t you,” I find myself stating lamely. He laughs, and I find myself blushing for no reason at all. “Of course not!” he tells me, his sky-blue eyes twinkling mischievously at me. “I’m a witch, can’t you tell?”

Once again, I feel like a complete idiot.

“Uh…yeah…sure….uhm, I don’t wanna seem rude, but I kinda gotta -”

“EMMA!”

My name echoes from above down into the alley and I look up to see Potter hanging from over a balcony ledge, waving his arms like a madman and very much so on the verge of tipping over and falling to the ground below.

“Yeah, as I said, I gotta go. Thanks though.” And without even bothering to wait for his reply, I take off into the streets of the hidden alley, sort of wishing that there were more people than this to cover my tracks. No doubt Harry will be outside in a few moments…

I whiz past apothecaries, owlries, and other various odd-ball shops of the sort, trying to put as much distance as possible between myself and The Leaky Cauldron (how I ever remembered the name is beyond me), where no doubt Harry was heading out of at this very moment, trying to catch up to me. Well, maybe if I lay low in one of these stores…

I pause in front of a rather brightly advertised shop, the front window covered in posters for a product apparently named You-No-Poo, a constipating prank thingy of some sort. At least these wizards seem to have a sense of humor around here, I find myself thinking wryly.

“Can I interest you in a deck of magically altered cards my good lady?” a tall ginger-haired man in shiny leather boots asks as he pops up in front of me, as if from the air itself. Panicking, I try to take deep breaths and back away slowly, flashing him what I hope is a courteous smile. “Uh, sorry, kinda in a rush…” I turn to bolt, but I barrel into a second tall ginger-haired man, and I realize it’s the same exact one that just offered me the cards! “Hang on! Didn’t I -”

But when I turn around, I see he’s still standing behind me, smiling in his strange attire.

“We’re twins,” he explains simply, gesturing to the man behind me. “I’m Fred Weasley, and that’s my brother and dearest partner in business, George.”

“Pleased to meet you,” George says with a genial grin, extending his hand. I shake it wearily. “Nice to meet you too. I’m Emma. Emma…Just Emma.”

“Well, Ms. Just Emma,” Fred says as I shake his hand as well, “can we offer you anything good today?” He gestures to the store behind him and I shake my head, trying to keep my mouth shut as I glance at all the magically altered gizmos and gadgets they’ve got in there; not to mention the strange assortment of odd colored puff balls on the back wall.

“Uhm, no, that’s alright. Thanks though – unfortunately, just browsing for today, but -”

“EMMA!”

I spin around at the sound of my name, and who should be calling it none other than the shaggy-haired boy who got me into this whole crazy world himself. I try to run like I did when I (sadly) had to ditch that other guy back at The Leaky Cauldron, but these Weasley twins are too smart and grab both my arms before I can escape. “Hang on,” says one of them (I’m so mixed up and confused now, I can’t tell who’s who), “you didn’t tell us you knew Harry!”

“Yeah!” chimes in the other as the man in question forces his way past a rather tight group of people. “If you had told us that, we would’ve offered you our family and friends discount!” I try to worm my way out of their grips, but no such luck.

“I DON’T WANT ANY RUDDY MAGICK; I JUST WANT TO GO HOME!!”

My angry outburst startles them, and using this to my advantage, I finally manage to wriggle free, but in all the excitement, who else should I end up running into but –

“Emma! You’re alright!” Harry exclaims, grabbing me by my shoulders to keep me from slipping away again. He seems to battle with himself for a moment, and then fold me into a gruff hug.

“Get off!” I yell at him, trying to shove him away. “I don’t want hugs, I want out!” Screaming in frustration, I start throwing a fit like a two-year old, fists flailing and all. I scream and scream and scream until I feel like my lungs are about to burst, and that’s when I my legs go numb from exhaustion, and I know I just simply can’t go on.

“Can I just die here please?” I ask quietly as Harry struggles to keep my upright. “Really, you don’t need to bury me or anything. No flowers, by request…”

“Here, let’s take here into the back, shall we?” one of the twins offer, and I’m vaguely aware of being picked up and brought into the store that sells magical constipation products.

“Honestly, you can just leave me…”

Fred and/or George leads us into a discreet storage room separated from the actual shop itself by a hanging turquoise cloth, and I’m actually kind of surprised, considering the fact that I was expecting some magick staircase or secret room behind the fire-place sort of thing to happen…

Harry sets me down in a chair, and I can’t even find the strength to keep my own body upright, so he stands behind me and holds me straight by my shoulders.

“Sooo,” Fred/George starts up conversationally as George/Fred puts a kettle on for tea, “is this an angry ex of sorts?”

I may not be able to see his face, but even an idiot could tell that Harry’s blushing, and I suddenly feel his grip on my shoulders get tense, as if touching me suddenly makes him feel all weirded-out inside…

“I’m not related to him in any way, shape, or form,” I reply bluntly, crossing my arms over my chest. “Just in case you were wondering.”

Chagrined, Fred/George gives me a puzzled look and glances back to Harry.

I jerk my head back behind me. “I’m just his captive,” I add bitterly.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” he counters aggravatedly. “I didn’t kidnap you!

“Well, it sure as hell seems like it. I don’t know any other words that sum up what you did to me quite as nicely.”

“I saved your life is what I did! And maybe you could be a little more grateful about it! I mean, I didn’t have to save your arse from those dementors; I could’ve just bolted and saved my own skin. You think that you’re the only one that’s suffering here?! Well think again!”

I huff in annoyance, and I don’t care anymore how childish I may seem at the present moment; besides – it’s all a dream, right?

“…and you can forget about going back to that muggle place of yours; after what happened the other day, there’s no way I’m just turning you loose with that sort of information without a proper wipe or better yet, an explanation of what the hell is going on!”

“Why don’t you tell me…” I mutter darkly as George/Fred gives me a mug. I sniff the contents suspiciously and he laughs at my cautiousness. “Jeez Harry! You had to pick a skeptic, didn’t you?”

He sighs irritably behind me and begins to pace restlessly, apparently satisfied that I can hold my own now. “Well, maybe she didn’t have to be quite so bloody difficult…”

“I’m not the one being difficult!” I shout at him, feeling another rage coming on. “Who’s the one that brought me to this weirdo town anyways, leaving me on my own in some creepy hotel of sorts?!”

“Shut up, will you?!” he counters savagely.

“No! Not until you - ”

“YOU WANT ANSWERS?! THEN JUST - ”

“BOTH OF YOU - SHUT IT!”

We spin around to see Fred and George both glaring at us, and one of them casts a quick peek behind the turquoise rug. “Keep it down, will you?” the nearer one hisses. “Not only do we haven’t the faintest idea what you’re ranting on about, we haven’t got any guarantee either that all of our customers here are solely for the purpose of shopping for pranks; Harry, didn’t you just say that dementors came after you two?”

The raven haired man nods gravely, suddenly appearing very weary, and sinks down into what had formerly been my chair. I’m about to protest and perhaps even throw in an insult or two, when I get the strangest sensation in the back of my mind, not quite an image, yet not quite a feeling either…no, more like a foggy memory of a story that was told to me a long time ago, but yet, it was still lacking a lot of details and sorts…

“No! Not him…Take me! …”

A flash of green…cold, cruel laughter…

A woman, screaming…


There’s a sharp stab of pain from below as my knees buckle and hit the ground. One of the twins rushes forward and grabs me before I can do anymore damage, but my head is still stuck…still hearing…

“Give me the boy…”

“NO!”

Green…cold…screams…laughter…


“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The words slip from my mouth before I even realize I’ve thought them, and instantly, it’s like my strength returns in one fell swoop, and my head is clearer than I can ever remember it being. I jerk away from Fred/George’s grip, and stumble over the broken mug, which I don’t even recall dropping. My hand shoots out to break my fall, and I feel a horrible queasiness steal over me as one of the smashed shards slips through my skin. “Ow” is all I’m able to mutter before the blood starts dripping down my arm, and that’s when the smell hits me.

I’ve puked even before I can realize my stomach’s reversed itself.

“Ugh!” one of the twins says from above while the other side-steps my mess to fix my mangled hand. “Not exactly an iron stomach you’ve got there is it?” he jokes, grinning as he whips out his wand and mutters, “Episky!”

The glass pops out of my palm and lands carefully into his outstretched hand, while the cut knits itself back together, leaving behind no trace of the nasty incident whatsoever.

“How’d you do that?” I whisper incredulously. “How’d you…”

“Magic of course,” the other twin replies with an identical grin as he whisks away my vomit. I wince; this was definitely not one of my more graceful moments. Instantly, my gaze switches over to Harry, and I find myself burning with embarrassment when I see the pitying look on his pale face, mixed with the unmistakable look of a man who has suddenly witnessed something truly strange and would like to know more, but thankfully knows better than to persist further. Suddenly, he seems to remember himself and hurries over to help me up. “Here,” he says as he slips an arm around my waist and uses the other to drape mine around his neck, “let’s see if we can get you back to The Leaky Cauldron in one piece now, shall we?”

For once, I refrain from being stubborn. “Thanks,” I mumble as Fred and George hold the curtain back to let us pass. “I think…I think I may need to lay down some more…”

“Of course, of course…don’t feel too bad though; my first time with the dementors left me a wreck too.”

I study his face out of the corner of my eye as we maneuver our way through the precariously lined shelves of the shop, like an un-choreographed tango couple, and I notice there’s a crooked smile on his lips, the first I can recall seeing all day. Somehow, it’s enough to even get me grinning, and I’m about to make some snippy comeback about how it was he who was the first one to pass out when we were facing down those caped freaks, when a flicker of movement to my right distracts me, and I whip my head around just in time to glimpse what I believe to be a familiar face, slipping in and out of view through the shifting crowd. I can’t say that I ever remember actually meeting him though - I can tell he’s a boy just by looking at him, maybe a little older than myself with pale blonde hair – but I’ve definitely seen his face somewhere before…Perhaps recently?...

Suddenly, we’re all outside the shop and stepping into the jostling crowd of the alley, and I find myself blinded by sunshine. I try to squint back the way we’ve just came to see if what I thought I saw was really there, but by the time my eyes adjust to the light, there’s no one there but an old crone, babbling on to herself about how overpriced dragon blood is.

“Emma? You alright?”

Harry’s voice cuts through to me like a beam in a fog, and I have to physically give my head a little shake before I realized how dazed I must appear. “Wha - ? Oh, yeah, I’m fine, I just thought…”

“Thought what?” He stops walking to hoist up the grip he has on my waist a little further, but I’m still trying to look past him back at the crowd, trying to discern the numerous faces from each other, to look for what I could’ve sworn was just there…

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I finally assure him, giving up and thinking it all a lost cause. “I just thought I saw someone…familiar…”

He laughs at this and raises an eyebrow at me skeptically. “Someone you know? Here? In Diagon Alley? I find that hard to believe.” He gives another chuckle before continuing on again. “Maybe that fall went to your head or something,” he jokes as the twins hold the door to the Leaky Cauldron open for him.

“Yeah, I guess so…”

Later that night, as I slip into uneasy dreams, I see The Boy for the first time in ages.

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