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Dorcas Meadowes, you are about to die.

Each step you take carries you closer to death, and you know it. You are dancing, agile, graceful, and your wand twirls so quickly in your fingers that it is little more than a perilous blur. It is almost like a game, dodging the spells that are sent to kill you, laughing as the green light flashes past your face, travelling within a couple of centimetres of your body. You are, quite literally, inches from death. It is that one inevitability, and right now it is hurtling towards you as fast as a racing broom, the seconds ticking down until you reach your last breath.

If things had been different, perhaps you would care that, at the age of just twenty-seven, your death is approaching fast. But while you stare the cold certainty in the face, fear does not come into it. Here you are, facing the most powerful and darkest wizard of the century, matching him in a duel which he sought, and three of his Death Eaters lay dead on the floor beside you, felled by the fury you channelled through the oak in your hand.

You volunteered for this. It wasn’t certain that Voldemort would come after you, but everybody knew you were a target. The war crashes on around you, and people are living in fear, scared to look into the shadows. The deaths and violence are constant, a never-ending onslaught of bad news. The Order, though nobody will say it, are in danger of losing. Your death will be a blow to your friends, but it is better than the alternatives, and as you spin into the path strewn with bodies there is a sense of satisfaction that it hasn’t been in vain.

A high pitched noise rings out from your opponent, something between a laugh and a scream. It is not fear, but anger. You can feel the raw power in the room increasing, a current running through the air that assures you that your life will only continue for a matter of minutes.

A hiss. “You can’t win against me.” It seems to linger around you, but the response it elicits is a wry smile; you have been chosen today, by the self-styled Dark Lord. At least if you are to be killed, it will be by the best.



You feel like a princess as you twirl in your beautiful white dress, escorted into the room on your brother’s arm. Your family have made sure you feel like it, too, and the admiring coos that you receive as a ten year old, the adults in the room sharing smiles over the way you hold yourself. Like a doll, you are small and slim, your hair cascading down your back. Your brothers and sisters, however, have learnt to fear you; in chess and learning and everything else, you are a formidable opponent. Quidditch is your only weakness, and so you do not play, because you detest losing. Only victory is acceptable for you, Dorcas.

“William, will we get to sit with Mummy and Daddy tonight? Will we get to eat the grown-up food? Will I get to dance?” Your questions are constant, revealing the excitement that you have tried hard to keep contained. This is the first ball you have been to, and for weeks you have been boasting of it to your sisters, who have to stay at home because they are too little to go. It is only when your brother reminds you that you have to behave like a lady, be the ‘little princess’ that your father so loves, that you manage to close your gaping mouth and take in the splendour in silence.

After dinner, your father pats you on the head. He has not spoken to you throughout the meal, and you do not like the lack of attention. But, disappointed, you accept it. It is the part of a lady you are playing now, one belonging to the house of Meadowes.

“Well done, princess,” your father says, smiling down with his kind blue eyes. “You’re behaving just like a little lady. Mrs Selwyn has said that you can go into the smaller ballroom now, with all the other children. William will go with you. I’ll see you later, princess.”

You don’t want to go; it would be much nicer to stay and watch the adults dancing around this grand room, perhaps even dancing yourself. You don’t want to be classed as a child and sent to play, dismissed as if you’re nothing. But you are going to be the best girl that you can be, because that is what your parents want. They begged you and William to behave yourselves before you came here tonight, and even though you do not know why, you know it is important for them to be here, amongst all these other pureblood families. So you nod and take William’s arm again, following him through the white doors into a room that is equally magnificent.

It is here that you first meet the Black girls. Your eyes are drawn to them because they are the only other girls in the room. There are three of them, and one looks about your age. Tentatively, your lips twitch up into a smile, and the girl responds in kind. As William greets some of his friends from school, you wander over to them, hoping you don’t look too out of place.

“Who are you?” the tallest one asks roughly, as she sees you approach. She is the oldest, you think, and clearly the leader of the three. Despite the fact that she is perfectly presented, the coldness in her black eyes makes you feel uncomfortable. The other two girls shift awkwardly, not looking at you, the youngest one playing with her blonde hair instead of meeting your eyes.

“My name is Dorcas. Dorcas Meadowes.” Your voice is clear, proud, and you match the girl’s haughtiness word for word. It is hard for you to believe that someone would speak to you this way, as though you are inferior; it is not a feeling you enjoy.

“Meadowes? I haven’t heard mother talk about you. I doubt that you’re a girl we want to associate with. Come on, ‘Dromeda, Cissy.”

She turns on her heel and darts away, the youngest girl trotting behind her obediently. For a second, you glimpse an apologetic smile on the face of the third girl, but she too joins the others, going to talk to a dark haired boy you recognise as Theodore Nott. You have heard your father speaking about his family, at times when you should have been tucked up in bed, and you wonder if it might be a good thing if you don’t speak to these girls. You don’t think that Daddy would want you involved with those families.

The oldest girl – you hear somebody calling her Bella – laughs and points at you, and your cheeks flare with anger. For a moment you contemplate speaking to the girl, telling her off for treating you in such a way, but you remember that you must behave like a lady tonight, because you are representing your family. The house of Meadowes is just as good – better – than any other family here, and you won’t give that girl the satisfaction of proving her right. Instead of reacting, you slip, unnoticed, into the hallway.

You are not supposed to be here, but that fact makes it more exciting, in a way. There is nobody here who can see you, anyway, so you creep along to the door into the main ballroom. It stands open, and from the shadows you spy on the adults. You see your mother and father, both striking and attractive, twirling around the ballroom together, admired by many of the grown-ups there.

It is now that you resolve that nobody will treat you the same way that Bella did again, because one day it will be your turn to take centre stage, and when you are there you will command the respect and admiration that your parents do now.



The Hogwarts Express gleams scarlet, racing through a countryside that is completely unfamiliar to you. The train is not halfway through its journey, but you are already dressed in those black swishy robes that you’ve longed to wear for years, ever since your oldest brother Gerald started school. Today you don’t need to cry when you wave your brothers off, because you are with them, on the way to starting your new life, immersing yourself in magic and learning spells that will make you even more brilliant.

The journey flashes past, and before you know it you are clutching the hand of a girl that you met on the Hogwarts Express, waiting nervously for your sorting. Briefly, you caught a glimpse of Andromeda Black on the train, but Bellatrix whisked her into a compartment full of Slytherins before you could speak to her. So you found yourself in a compartment with a girl who is bubbly and bright and not at all ladylike, but in spite of that you already feel like best friends.

You line up together in the Great Hall, not able to see your brothers at the Ravenclaw table and trying to hide the way your hands are shaking with nerves. The sorting hat sings its song, there is thunderous applause, and then Professor McGonagall begins to read names off the list.

The group of first years thins out and you stumble forward, clinging to Marlene’s hand. You have already discovered that your names are next to each other in the register, so you hope not to be separated for long. From here you manage to catch a glimpse of William, who gives you an encouraging smile and a thumbs-up. Your heart sinks a little as you remember that Marlene is determined to join Gryffindor like her parents, and you have always assumed you will accompany your family into Ravenclaw.

“McKinnon, Marlene.” The little girl trots forward, leaving your hand feeling empty and letting the terror take hold of you. The grotty hat sits on her head for little more than a second and then shouts out its verdict.

“GRYFFINDOR!”

Her brown eyes fill with excitement and she beams at you before skipping off to the cheering table decked in red and gold. Your heartbeat speeds up and your palms feel clammy; the atmosphere in the Great Hall is overwhelming.

“Meadowes, Dorcas!” There is a cheer from the Ravenclaw table at your name and your lips twitch but cannot form a true smile. Your legs feel wooden as your trip up to the stool.

“GRYFFINDOR!” The hat yells out before you have chance to think. Your eyes blink, wide as saucers, and you sit frozen for a second. A surprisingly gentle hand nudges your shoulder, pushing you in the direction of the table that’s cheering once again. Somehow, miraculously, you make it there and find a seat next to Marlene, who gives you a hug. You glance around the Hall and see your brothers, still smiling proudly. You catch the eye of Andromeda Black, sandwiched in at her sister’s side, and a nervous smile passes between you.

Later on, after the biggest feast you’ve ever laid eyes on, you listen to Professor Dumbledore’s speech about equality and house spirit and you glimpse Bellatrix Black, her cold eyes glittering in the candlelight. Her appraisal is haughty, hostile, but you refuse to yield to her threat. Your blue eyes meet her black; never again will you let someone try to make you feel inferior.



“Look at her, Muggle-loving scum.”

You freeze, but it’s the voice rather than the words that have made you do so. Your friends hesitate and stop with you, falling into an arrowhead formation that almost looks like it’s been planned. Instinctively, your hand has already slipped into your bag to draw out your wand, and you slide it up your sleeve, ready for a fight.

“What was that?” Like sugar, your voice wraps around the words and coats them in a false sweetness.

“I called you Muggle-loving scum, Meadowes. Got a problem with that?” Bellatrix’s question is full of menace. She has her own posse, a group of Slytherin boys that all aim for the same goal as her. You can tell that she tolerates them purely for the purposes of recruitment. Some of their parents are already Death Eaters, and those are the sorts of contacts she needs.

“I do, as a matter of fact.”

“Haven’t you seen the paper this morning? Didn’t Daddy tell you about the way he supported a Muggle for Minister?”

Your eyes narrow at the malicious smile on her face. Few people are aware of it, but your father knows more than most people – certainly more than Bellatrix Black – about the war that’s being fought in the shadows. And you, you and your brothers, know how to listen to whispered conversations that you aren’t meant to hear.

“Clearly you and your little Death Eater wannabes are lacking some intelligence. Do you really think a Muggle could run for Minister? I thought better of you, Black. Really, saying stupid things like that can bring shame on your whole family.”

Her wand is pointed in your face before you have time to take a breath. “Don’t you dare.”

“What?” Your voice is innocent and calm, though inside you’re the complete opposite. It’s only now that you remember you’re only a fourth year whilst she’s in sixth, with a growing knowledge of dark magic. It’s a pity that you’ve never been able to let an insult slide.

Your wand slips smoothly into your hand and you grip it tightly.

Meadowes.” It’s a drop of poison, pouring into the air around you. Instantly, your hand twitches upwards, the wand creeping gradually towards Bellatrix’s face. Your mind is racing with the different spells you can cast, but before either of you can do anything, the hallway is ripped apart by a furious shout.

“Black! Meadowes!” Your heart sinks as Professor McGonagall appears, fuming, brandishing her own wand. Both sets of friends disperse, and her mouth is set in a line so thin you can barely see it. “Come with me now.”

You stow your wand away, and though you know you’re approaching punishment you can’t help but be a little relieved. McGonagall has saved you, in a way. Still, nobody can say that you don’t give as good as you get.



By seventh year, you are the queen of the school. Since Bellatrix Black left two years ago, there has been nobody else to dispute your crown. You’re not Head Girl; that title went to a Hufflepuff who is much better at keeping the peace, but you were hardly prefect material anyway. You’re not a troublemaker, exactly, but you won’t let anyone walk all over you and you certainly won’t stand for any of the pureblood mantra that the Slytherins are throwing around at the moment. The teachers couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when Bellatrix left. The clashes between the two of you were becoming infamous, dangerous even.

Her sisters are not so much of a threat to your little kingdom. Andromeda stays at a respectful distance, largely keeping out of the disputes over blood status. It would be hypocritical of her to wade into the argument, you think, since you caught her skulking round the corridors with Ted Tonks a couple of months ago. And the youngest sister, Narcissa, is much more concerned with clinging to the arrogant Lucius Malfoy than stirring up trouble.

Let’s not exaggerate – not everyone likes you. There’s a grumbling group of Slytherins who are irritated by your opposition to their attempts at propaganda for the man calling himself the Dark Lord, and an even bigger group of girls who are jealous of your good looks and popularity. You let their words wash over you, and you remain their unchallenged ruler.

It is a Saturday afternoon, and Gryffindor have just emerged victorious from their Quidditch match against Slytherin. The common room is buzzing with the glow of the triumph, and the team are being congratulated by everyone. You beam at Marlene when she enters, her wet hair pulled up into a bun, and throw your arms around her.

“Well done!” you exclaim, genuinely pleased for your friend. The two of you have been close since that first train journey, and although you generally dislike Quidditch because you’re so bad at it, when it comes to Marlene there is no jealousy. Next year, you think, she could be playing in one of the league teams. The idea fills you with pride.

“Thanks, Dor.” Marlene grins back at you, embarrassed as others in the common room, people she has never even spoken to, begin to pat her on the back and congratulate her.

In the evening, all anyone can talk about is Quidditch. It’s not quite a party, because in spite of the music playing, there is a distinct lack of food. Since the Prewett twins left last year you’ve missed the extra food that they managed to produce from their visits to the kitchens. You discuss Gryffindor’s improved chances at winning the Quidditch cup with Marlene. Last year the team came up short and finished second, and your best friend is determined that this year she’ll score more goals than ever before.

It is amongst this buzz of talk and music that you get your biggest shock of the year.

“Hey,” a first year, tall for his age, sidles up to you with a grin on his face. You raise your eyebrows and glance at Marlene, unsure if this kid is actually talking to you. She smirks and directs her eyes towards him.

“What do you want?” Looking at him, you vaguely recognise him. He’s one of the first years who likes causing trouble, but his features look strangely familiar.

“I’m Sirius. Sirius Black.”

Usually the name itself would spark anger, but you remember the furore at the beginning of the year when this boy was sorted into Gryffindor. Professor Slughorn has lamented over it enough since then for you to know he’s the first of his family not to be in Slytherin. But that still doesn’t explain why he’s talking to you.

“What do you want?” you repeat, more sharply.

Strangely, his confident grin stays in place. You can’t quite work him out, this boy. He’s the first in his year who’s dared to talk to you, although that doesn’t really surprise you. Marlene has told you time and again that you’re too aloof, too cruel to people you don’t know. Perhaps it’s because you don’t like letting people get close to you; the trust is almost always broken. You haven’t taken the time to consider the reasons why. Introspection is not one of your strong points.

“Well, princess, I was wondering if you’d like to go for a walk.”

Marlene, at your side, is shaking with silent laughter. Your blue eyes are round and disbelieving. This is a first year, and he just called you princess. He’s certainly a Black – the arrogance seems to radiate from his grey eyes.

“Excuse me?” It takes you a minute to be able to speak, and you can’t work out if he’s being serious or not. For once, you feel completely unprepared for the situation.

“Take a walk with me, princess.” It isn’t even a question.

“Leave me alone.” The words come out harshly, but you don’t care. It is remarkable that the boy doesn’t even seem embarrassed; his cheeks remain a perfectly normal colour as he clutches at his heart dramatically.

“Alas! I should have known – James said you never date.” Stunned, you sit in silence as the boy turns and leaves, joining another boy with equally dark hair and glasses. You don’t know whether to be offended or amused.

It is only months later, when you return from the Easter holidays and you notice the boy is sporting a black eye and a deep cut on his cheek, that you wonder if his request was something more than a joke.



Since you left Hogwarts a year ago, your job at Gringotts has failed to satisfy you. Curse-breaking sounded thrilling when you read the leaflets, but it has turned out to be anything but. You haven’t left your desk in England – the glorious visions of Egyptian pyramids have faded to dust and you’re fed up of looking at pictures of hieroglyphs and runes and translating them for someone else.

The goblins are the worst. They treat you with an indifference that you cannot bear, and this year of training cannot be over quick enough, as far as you’re concerned. You’re itching to get out of the office, to travel and get away. The most frustrating thing is perhaps that you haven’t even managed to get enough money together to leave home. You hate relying on your parents when your friends are moving out and starting their own lives. When you left Hogwarts with fantastic results and a glowing report from the teachers, this was not how you imagined life would be.

You miss how easy life used to be, back when you were the top of the school and the hardest decisions you had to make were whether or not to jinx the Slytherins who were bullying a Muggle-born (the answer was invariably yes). In the real world you’re surrounded by a war that’s raging and you can’t help feeling completely powerless with every fresh death you read about in the papers. Then there’s the dull monotony of your job, and the dependence on your family. You want to get away from it all.

So when Fabian and Gideon Prewett get in touch and invite you and Marlene to a party at their flat, you don’t hesitate. The thought of it, of getting drunk and being back with the people who know and like you, is what gets you through the next week at work. On Friday, you get ready with Marlene, buzzing from anticipation, and turn up at the given address wearing a new dress you purchased for the occasion.

Smiling, you ring the bell. The door is painted a bold blue which stands out from the dull white ones that line the rest of the hallway. It opens promptly, and a freckled face appears around it.

“Marlene, Dorcas! Come in, come in.” Kisses and hugs are exchanged and you step inside. The Prewetts are some of the only people that you’ve kept in touch with from Hogwarts. The laughing young men are a breath of fresh air whenever you see them.

Their flat is brightly coloured, filled with tatty furniture and, surprisingly, empty. Inside, you falter, turning to face them, the questions clearly written across your face. What’s going on? What are we doing here?

A finger on his lips, Gideon motions for the two of you to take a seat. Fabian has his wand out and is scanning the hallway outside, before touching the tip of it to the door. Several locks click into place. Nervous, you take a seat. If you didn’t know these boys so well, you’d get worried about their intentions. But they smile reassuringly and sit on the sofa opposite.

“Sorry to have dragged you here like this,” Fabian says apologetically.

“False pretences and all that,” Gideon chimes in. “Wish we could have had a party, really.”

You glance at Marlene and see confusion fighting with curiosity in her green eyes. You’re sure that your own echo the feelings.

“What’s this about?” Your voice is calmer that you expected. The twins glance at each other, then turn back to the two of you.

“Girls,” Gideon starts. “What’s your opinion on Lord Voldemort?”

Two hours later, you leave the flat with Marlene, going over the address you’ve been given in your mind to make sure you don’t forget it. Your mind can’t escape the gravity of the situation, and the two of you remain silent as you make your way back home together. But in spite of all that, you feel like a fire’s been lit in your stomach, burning warm and bright. The predictability that you so detest is about to disappear from your life.



A year later, you meet Benjy Fenwick. He’s in the Order, too, but you’ve missed one another at meetings through your trips to Egypt and his missions in the United States. You’re back at Fabian and Gideon’s flat – they’re actually having a party this time, rather than just pretending – and mingled in with your old school friends are some of the younger Order members.

He’s a little on the short side, with scraggy black hair and brown eyes; the antithesis of your perfect man. Yet when he sees you and starts a conversation, you find the smile doesn’t leave your face for the rest of the night.

It’s not love at first sight – far from it, in fact. But he kindles a curiosity in you that you’ve never felt before. It takes you days to realise it might just be because he treated you like you were the only person in the room.



The shadowed room is familiar to you, and you slip into it silently, taking a seat amongst faces you know well. The Prewetts send identical grins in your direction, Marlene waves at you and Benjy takes your hand under the table. Professor Dumbledore – you can never think of him as Albus, no matter how many times he asks you to call him that – is already here, his silver hair shining in the soft light. McGonagall is seated at his right hand side, Elphias Doge on his left. At the opposite end of the table, Hagrid seems to take up half the room, sitting on a chair that the head teacher has conjured specially for the meeting.

“Shall we begin?” The muttered conversations end instantly, all eyes turning towards your leader. “First, I’d like to start with the reports from the Ministry. Alastor can’t make it tonight, but Frank, he’s asked you to speak in his place.”

Frank Longbottom nods and begins his report, his wife Alice sat next to him. The news from the Ministry isn’t good. At least two more of the workers have been turned, and Barty Crouch is considering some legislation that could cause an outcry. Marlene comes next, talking about her job in the Ministry records.

You listen to the reports until it’s time to make your own. The goblins aren’t very cooperative at the moment, preferring to stay out of a war that doesn’t concern them. In a way, you can’t blame them. But what’s more worrying is that Voldemort seems to be luring some of them to his side with offers of returning goblin-made objects. Either Voldemort or someone close to him has a good enough understanding of goblins to give them effective offers.

Dumbledore looks grim at your news. He’d been hoping that the goblins and the giants would stay out of the war if they wouldn’t fight for your side. You hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s a hard blow.

After a couple of hours, Dumbledore begins to bring the meeting to a close. You know what your tasks are for the next two weeks, and you will be relieved to leave the room. The darkness is oppressive.

“Before we go, there is one more topic I’d like to speak about. Minerva and I have considered for a while, and we’ve asked some more people to join us. These people have just left Hogwarts, but I believe they will be an asset to our ranks. They are James Potter, Lily Evans, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Sirius Black.”

A few people seem uneasy at the news that such a big group is joining the Order, especially when they hear the name Black. But you have to be thankful for the news, because five more members will help considerably, even if they are just kids.

Until, that is, they walk in. They are meek, quiet, and sit nervously in the five chairs that Dumbledore has just conjured. All, that is, except for Sirius Black. You remember him from that one conversation, years ago in the common room, and for a second you feel sympathetic. But then he sends a wink in your direction and you turn away, annoyed.

Once the meeting is over, you join Alice and Frank and catch-up on recent news; Augusta, who you remember from your childhood, is still fighting fit. As Benjy hands you your cloak, someone clears their throat behind you. Turning, you see a grinning Sirius Black.

“No chance of that walk then, princess?”



Your hair glints in the summer sun as you walk along the pebble beach, hand in hand with Benjy. There’s something preying on your mind, and although he hasn’t mentioned it, you know that Benjy’s just as aware of it as you are. You can feel the nervousness in the way that he looks at you, but you can’t work out why.

Demanding. The word whispers on the wind, coming back to haunt you no matter how much you try to banish it. Marlene looked guilty as soon as it slipped from her lips, but it’s not something she could take back. You’ve heard the twins joking about it before, but until your best friend mentioned something too you never paid any attention to it.

Benjy smiles at you, wrapping his arm around your waist and pulling you closer. It’s not the easiest way to walk, bumping along beside him, but being so close to him makes up for that. A year ago you’d never have imagined such a thing, being close to someone – loving someone like this. That, of course, was before your father was killed, before you were put on missions with Benjy, before you broke down in front of him that day you stopped the Death Eaters tearing apart another family.

“Am I high maintenance?” You didn’t mean the question to come out like that, but the words can’t be retracted now.

Benjy stops mid-step, his arm falling away from your waist. The smile is still on his face, and he seems relieved, if anything. His brown eyes glance out to the sea for a second, and then he breathes a soft sigh.

“Is that it? I thought you were going to break up with me.”

The confession astonishes you, and you stare for a second before putting your arms around his neck.

“How could you possibly think that?”

“You’ve been distant in the last few days, quiet. I was convinced you were going to split up with me.” Red stains his cheeks, and he looks down, not meeting your gaze.

“Of course not! Besides, I asked first. You’ve still not answered my question.” It’s just like you, Dorcas, to cover up your real emotions with false bravado.

“What happens if I say yes?”

It’s enough of an answer. The tears that spring to your eyes surprise you. It’s true that you’ve always wanted the best, to be the best, but you’ve never thought of it quite like that.

“Hey, stop that.” Benjy’s rough thumb wipes away the moisture that is escaping from your eyes. Embarrassed, you try and shake your blonde curls in front of your face to hide your blush.

“Did I say it was a bad thing?” demands Benjy, tucking your hair back behind your ear. “You might be a little high maintenance, but you wouldn’t be Dorcas if you weren’t.”

At this, you meet his eyes and your lips twitch into a smile. “Really?”

“Really. I love you, Dorcas, don’t forget that. Even if you can be a bit of a princess sometimes.”

In the end, you decide that instead of elbowing him in the stomach, that’s worth a kiss.



When the question comes, it’s not much of a surprise to either of you. You’re walking along the beach on a windy October day, your hair wild and your cheeks pink with the cold. Nobody else is there, not even the usual hardy dog walkers. There’s an immeasurable beauty in the calm.

“Marry me, princess.”

Despite your initial protests, he insists on calling you that. Somehow it sounds sweeter on his lips than anyone else’s. You raise an eyebrow.

“Please?” he adds.

“I thought you were meant to bend your knee to royalty?”

“Is that a yes?” He grins wickedly.

“I’ll think about it.”

There’s a pause. “I’ll let you pick the ring.”

Another silence. “Deal.”



Am I a bad person? That’s the question that’s running constantly through your mind, torturing you more than the lack of sleep or the pain that’s conquered your body. It’s been ten days now, five since the funeral, and you still haven’t cried. Why?

Benjy is dead.

Every few minutes, the cold realisation hits you like the stench of a troll, only it isn’t, it’s the stench of death and loneliness. Your eyes seem to have dried up, even though the pain you’re experiencing is unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. Visitors come and go as you sit in the flat that the two of you shared, but no matter how many people pass through, you feel no different.

Alone. So alone.

And broken.



At your first Order meeting afterwards, the other members eye you warily. Marlene hovers over you like a nervous mother fussing over her child. Moody’s magical eye seems to be permanently trained on you, and it’s that which makes you feel most uncomfortable. To distract yourself, you scan the table and notice that your numbers seem to have halved. Alice and Frank Longbottom have gone, as have Lily and James Potter – both couples are in hiding, according to Fabian. You’re not entirely sure why, but it’s something to do with their sons and it’s at Dumbledore’s insistence.

Edgar Bones, too, and Caradoc Dearborn. The seat next to you is empty.

There’s suspicion, as well. Someone in the Order is feeding information back to the Death Eaters, to Voldemort. You didn’t want to believe it when Marlene told you, but the evidence points to it. There have been too many coincidences to be explained away. There’s a spy, and you don’t know who it is, but the tension in the room is palpable. You look around you, and the people that you trust entirely now can be counted on one hand.

The meeting goes on, and you listen with a kind of apathy, until Dumbledore begins talking about the tasks that Order members need to do in the next two weeks. Before you know it, the words jump out of your mouth and bounce into the room.

“I’ll do it.”

You pretend not to hear the muttering, the questions about whether you’re suicidal. You’re perfectly informed about this mission, you know that it could mean death, but for the first time in months you really want something. It's not that you want to die, but since Benjy - you're not scared anymore. And you've got much less to lose than some of the others around the table with you. You want to make a difference. The pull makes you feel alive again.

Instead of listening to the other members, you look directly at Albus Dumbledore. He is the man that holds your fate in his hands. Slowly, he nods.



So here you are. Dancing with death. You’ve never thought about it before but now you know he is pale and cold and has a high-pitched laugh. You thought you’d be scared, staring Lord Voldemort in the face. But you feel nothing but pride, and it’s hard to explain to anyone but Benjy, who understood you perfectly.

The bodies are getting in the way. You’re getting tired, and your feet keep tripping over the three Death Eaters who tried to kill you before their master arrived. There’s a smile on your face still, because you succeeded in some measure. And now the Dark Lord himself has come to murder you, a final acknowledgement of how brilliant you are. Bellatrix, you are sure, would laugh at the idea – would have begged to come herself. You deserve the best treatment, though, and you’re about to be killed by the best.

“Come, Dorcas. I’m going to kill you. You can’t win.”

“I know.” The words wheeze out, barely audible above your heavy footsteps. He hears them though, you know. “But you won’t win either, not in the end.”

Your kingdom is crumbling around you. You have reigned in beauty, brains, brilliance. The crown is slipping away, but you catch a glimpse of the brief confusion on your opponent’s face and know that in reality, you have triumphed. Benjy’s face floats into your mind, closer now than it has been in months. You smile.

Green.

Goodnight, princess.



Author's Note: Hello! The quote I was given for this challenge was 'I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other' from the book Emma, which belongs to Jane Austen.
This was a bit of an experiment for me; I've never written in second person before and I'm not sure that Dorcas Meadowes was the easiest character to write! Nevertheless I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading!

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