We sat on the lawn, bundled up in sweaters and scarves under the starry New Year's sky. Mr. Potter had procured a good lot of fireworks from a shop in Diagon Alley, and planned to treat us to a night of colorful flashes of light. He lit his wand and hundreds of small bursts of light traveled into the sky, erupting with large bangs. Halos of green and red and orange blanketed the sky with light, almost masking the fact that it was night time. Sirius wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me in close to him, pressing his face into my bushy, untamed hair. His lips grazed my ear and a surge went through me like an electric current. He whispered something in my ear, but I could not hear him over the bangs from above. I mouthed 'what? 'but he just shook his head and mouthed back 'I love you.' I smiled and leaned into him, now watching what looked like a scene of two wizards dueling, outlined by different colors of sparkling beams of light.
It was nearly midnight when all of the fireworks had been exhausted. We headed back into the house, our noses pink from the nip in the air. We all bid each other goodnight and headed to our separate rooms. I had just finished getting dressed into my night clothes when my door creaked softly. I turned to see a starry-eyed Sirius tiptoeing into the room. I had started to speak when he put his finger up to his lips, gesturing me to stay silent. He walked over to me and grabbed me aggressively by the waist, pulling me into him. But then his grip softened and he ran his hands up my back, and pressed his lips tenderly against mine. He reached back and shut the door with a furtive clunk. I had never wanted him as badly as I had in that moment. It felt like no matter how closely we were pressed against each other, there was still too much space between our bodies. I rolled my fingers up his face and through his hair, stroking each lock as it passed through my fingers. His scent was that of a love potion, sandalwood and evergreen mixed with a hint of vanilla. I breathed him in slowly, longingly, as time seemed to slow down and suspend us in this intimate moment. With his lips still locked with mine and our fingers now intertwined, he nudged me backward and I felt my body collapse onto the bed. He looked up at me and smiled, the light in his eyes reflecting me smiling back at him. The house was entirely still and soundless and snow was now sticking to the window pane as I gave myself completely to Sirius Black.
The winter holidays were drawing to a close as we all had our trunks packed and hauled them onto the platform. I had my kitten (which I named Lux) snuggled in the crook of my arm, her pink collar glinting light onto the stony floor as it reflected off of her many jewels. Her electric blue eyes were wide as she tried to take in all the excitement of people bustling around the train station. We bid the Potters goodbye and I thanked them for their hospitality before we boarded the platform to embark back to Hogwarts.
On the train, we sat in a compartment near the end of the narrow hallway, and stuffed our luggage above our heads. The train lurched forward and began to chug toward the countryside. Lux jumped from my lap and began to wander around the cabin, stumbling as the train rocked from side to side. She took to a small ball of dust under James's feet and pounced happily, sometimes getting her tiny claws caught on his pants leg or his shoelace. We chuckled at her playfulness as we ate the remaining sweets left over from Christmas. Then the train went completely hushed, as if someone had blanketed it with a silencing spell. We looked around at each other as Lux jumped clumsily into Sirius's lap, her hair standing up on her back and her eyes wide with fear.
Thick black smoke filled the hallway and the door slammed open, allowing the smoke to fill the compartment. I could not see anything through the black screen, and it began to fill my lungs as I heard screams echoing down the hall of the train. Then the screaming came closer. Then it sounded like it was coming from the compartment to the side of us. I heard footsteps approaching where we were. I felt Sirius's hand shoot into mine, squeezing it tight. My heart was pounding. I could hear breathing coming from the doorway, then an eerie chuckle as a large hand gripped my arm and wrenched me out of my seat, pulling me away from Sirius. I could hear him yelling my name, commotion was coming from all sides of me as I tried to wriggle away from my captor, but then I felt a jerk behind my navel and my head felt like it was upside down as my stomach rose into my throat.
I did not land gracefully as I had done the last time I apparated. Instead, it felt like I was shoved to the ground, my face hammering a hard, dusty wooden floor. I looked up to see where I was. I was surrounded by tall figures in black cloaks. The room was large with high ceilings, and a chandelier hung above a long table, spider webs draping it like garlands. The man closest to me lowered his hood, revealing a slender pointed face and black hair that was slicked back. His mouth twisted into a distorted smile as he peered down at me.
"Hello, dear cousin," he said as he strolled closer.
"Zephyros," I said through clenched teeth. I reached for my wand, but my pockets were empty. He gave a sinister chuckle as he crouched down beside me.
"Looking for this?" he said as he waved my wand in front of my face. "You don't have the upper hand this time. Instead, you'll be getting what you deserve." His eyes burned with fury as he stuffed my wand out of sight in his robes and raised his own wand at me.
"Not now, Zephyros!" called another cloaked man, seizing Zephyros's arm. "She needs to talk before you can have your spoils with her." He grinned as he lowered his hood as well. Severus Snape released his arm and grinned at me.
"Where am I?" I barked at them, heat rising up from my face. I began to stand up when a sharp toe struck me in the ribs.
"You'll see soon enough," Zephyros smirked. He then gestured to one of the other hooded people in the room. "Tell him we're ready. We've got her." The figure nodded and glided from the room. He put his face inches from mine and hissed into my ear. "You never should have come here."
"You brought me here!" I said wildly, my teeth still clenched. He shook his head.
"You know what I mean," he said viciously. My eyes widened. He knew my secret. He chuckled darkly. "Oh, yes. I know all about you, Miss Time Travel. Personally," he said as he rolled his wand between his thin, pale fingers, "I think you're a pest. I wanted to exterminate you. However, Snape thinks differently. He'd rather draw out your misery. Make you beg for death after we extract every inch of sanity left in that traitorous little head of yours." He dug the tip of his wand into my temple threateningly as he stared crazily into my eyes as they began to fill with tears.
"That's enough, Zephyros," a chilling voice said as it strode across the room. "Now, would you please introduce me to our honored guest?" Zephyros yanked me to my feet and shoved my head forward, forcing me to look at the man now standing in front of me. He looked barely human. His skin looked paper thin and his eyes were only piercing slits. My heart nearly stopped as I looked Lord Voldemort straight in the face. He held his wand loosely in his hand and gestured me to come forward. Zephyros shoved me as Voldemort held out a shriveled, grey hand, intending me to shake it. I stood frozen in the middle of the floor, trembling. A voice then manifested inside my head. Shake my hand. Go on. SHAKE IT. I thrust myself forward and grabbed the cold, dry hand he extended to me. "Very good," he said, bearing his nearly pointed teeth at me. "Now tell me your name."
"Marilyn," I spat out quickly. "Horsefeather." Voldemort looked pleasantly surprised as he swept his gaze toward Zephyros.
"Any relation to this young man over here?" I did not say a word. My mouthed quivered as the hairs on my arms stood up. Zephyros's expression was emotionless. "I asked you a question," he said, a little more forcefully this time. I nodded slowly.
"Cousins," I said meekly, my eyes shifting. Voldemort paused for a moment, then my mind began to race. I saw the headline in the Daily Prophet revealing my father's portrait as he stood in the striped clothes given to the prisoners who inhabit Azkaban, then I saw his face from across the Great Hall sneering at me, and Sirius's hand jerking me away from it, then I relived our duel on the staircase. I jerked back to the cold, dusty room. Voldemort's mouth was distorted in what almost looked like a smile.
"You lied," he said, shooting another glance at Zephyros. "This is not your cousin! This is your daughter!" Zephyros's face changed suddenly. I could not tell whether it was a look of discomfort or disgust. Maybe fear. "My, my, my," he continued as he brushed my hair away from my face. "What a happy reunion!" his voice became crazed. Then he came closer to whisper in my ear. "I know how you feel. I hated my father as well. The filthy muggle. I killed the bastard in his sleep," he hissed. He stepped away from me and examined my face. "I understand," he said, his tone a bit softer, "that you may be of certain importance to me. Being from the future and all, you know things that even I, the greatest wizard of all time, could not possibly know." My face burned with fury.
"Dumbledore is the greatest—"
"Silence!" His voice boomed throughout the whole room, shaking the chandelier and making the cloaked people standing around take a few steps back as they cowered. "You will tell me what you know, or I will do it myself." I clenched my teeth as I glared up at him. He raised his wand and I felt my mind racing again. I saw Cedric Diggory's body lying on the ground during the Triwizard Tournament. I saw bloody letters on the wall saying the Chamber of Secrets had been opened. I saw Harry Potter's face on the front page of the Daily Prophet. 'Don't let him see that,' I said to myself. 'Don't let him see Harry.' A scene of a full moon flashed and I saw a werewolf shaking someone's hand by a large tree. I was walking by the lake with somebody, their arms around me. I was flying on a broomstick with a large ball in my grasp. I was sitting in an office with small glass objects hovering around me. I was jerked back again by a frustrated yell. "You will let me see!" He shouted in fury. "Crucio!" Pain shot through my entire body, as if I was being thrust through a meat grinder and my bones were being split apart. I writhed on the ground, my body contorting and twisting in agony. I yelled for it to stop, and just like that, the pain lifted. I gasped for air as I heard people yelling and running around on all sides. I opened my eyes and saw hooded figures begin to disapparate out of the room, and Voldemort was hurling flashes of red light at someone. I looked up and saw a tall, white haired wizard with his back to me, flinging spells across the room at Voldemort. I saw Zephyros standing frozen to the floor, his eyes glazed over in shock. I crawled over to where he stood frozen and reached into his robes, retrieving my wand. I darted behind Dumbledore and grabbed the back of his bright purple robes. I pointed my wand over his shoulder and waited for a gap and shouted "Protego Horribilis!" A thick blue shield conjured itself between us and Voldemort, knocking him backward as his spells ricocheted off. Then with a jerk behind my navel, Dumbledore and I apparated out of the dusty, dark room and landed in a bright office, a large red bird squawking as we arrived with a small pop.