With the window drawn so tightly, Katherine could only faintly hear the sounds of the birds chirping from outside. She slowly opened her eyes and saw the morning sunlight shine through the break of the curtains. She waited for her eyes to adjust, then looked at the time: eight fifty-three a.m. She rolled over, her hand touched something--someone.
Katherine smiled at him, her husband. They had been married for four years now and she loved him just as much as she did the first day she met him. She pecked his cheek and went off to the bathroom. His name was William Leighton, the brother of Katherine’s old boss, and he was 31--six years her senior. Her mother Andrianna had not approved of him at first--not ever actually--but grew to become tolerant of him.
There was shuffling coming from the bedroom behind the bathroom door and a few moments later, William walked in. He slightly nudged her aside with his hip and turned on the faucet next to her’s to wash his face. She spit out the toothpaste foam, rinsed, then wiped her mouth dry with a towel.
“Did Grant ever call back?” Katherine asked while tying up her hair in a high ponytail.
William murmured something through a towel that Katherine didn’t catch, then dropped it in the sink and began to brush his teeth. Katherine grabbed the towel before it got soaked by the faucet water and wrung out the little part that did. She watched him, then went around him back into the bedroom. She slipped out of her pajamas and into a pair of denim flares and a deep purple crew neck tee. When she reached the kitchen, she phoned her older brother Grant.
“Hello?” he answered from the other end.
“Hey, have you heard anything from Mum these past few days?”
Grant could be heard quietly whispering with someone else for a while, then returned only to tell Katherine that he had to go and that he’ll call her back. She placed the phone back on the receiver. An owl was perched on the kitchen windowsill with what looked like a newspaper in its talons. She opened a drawer, lifted the secret compartment and took out a sizeable gold coin called a galleon. She exchanged the galleon for the paper and the owl flew away. Katherine couldn’t believe that she hadn’t canceled Andrianna’s subscription to the Daily Prophet yet, but perhaps she knew the answer herself.
For as long as she has lived so far, she knew she was a squib. A disgrace to a magical family, but how her mother still loved her so dearly, she never knew. The Prophet and Andrianna’s hidden stash of galleons were the only magical things Katherine possessed--those and her family. William was what they called a Muggle, someone with nonmagical abilities. She hadn’t even bothered to tell him that she came from a magical family for fear that he might leave her or send her to an asylum.
The front page displayed a picture of a castle-like structure named Hogwarts, the school for witchcraft and wizardry where her entire family attended. Dark, puffy clouds circulated the tips of the circular towers and the lake moved restlessly. She read the passage about Professor Albus Dumbledore’s death and the positioning of Professor Severus Snape as Headmaster. She personally had never met either of them but according to Xavier, Katherine’s junior two years, he disliked everyone who wasn’t in the house called Slytherin.
Suddenly the kitchen phone rang and she picked up immediately.
“Hello?” It was Andrianna. “Mum? Are you alright? I haven’t heard from you this past week,” Katherine said.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Andrianna replied hurriedly. That dreamlike voice that Katherine used to know was gone. “Well… Actually… No, we’re not fine. Xavier, Henry, and I are going to leave.”
“Leave? What do you mean leave? Not leave town,” Katherine said.
“No, we’re leaving England. It might be safer for us in America. We were going to buy you a ticket, too. Are you coming?”
Katherine peeked out up at the stairs. The bath water could be heard from the open doors. She waited until she heard William step into the shower before continuing her conversation.
“Mum, I can’t. I don’t have anymore money. All we had was spent on getting these complexes, Mum. And I can’t just leave William,” Katherine whispered.
“Kath, you are a squib. With Dumbledore dead and You-Know-Who back in power you will not be safe and you know that.”
“But I can’t just leave. And besides, I haven’t even told William that you guys are magical, if he finds out he’ll run away.”
Andrianna said that maybe that was for the best, and hurriedly hung up. Katherine was confused for a slight moment then put up the phone and opened the refrigerator. She took out four white eggs, and a half-full package of bacon and set them on the counter. She sighed to herself, grabbed her large ring of keys and walked out the door into the hallway. She went to the first door on the right, opened it with one of the many keys, and made a check to make sure everything was in place and ready to be moved in to. She did the same to all the other complexes, each with a different key.
She was in the last room of the third floor when a sudden whooshing and popping noise came from behind her. She jumped and turned around to face the older of her two younger brothers, Xavier.
“Xavier,” she breathed with a hand over her chest.
She laughed and he smiled. Katherine opened her arms and motioned for him to come in for a hug. He did so, and they stayed that way for a while before Xavier let go. He had a grave expression on his face, and looked quite weary.
“Are you okay?” Katherine said as she sat him down on one of the few couches.
Xavier opened his mouth, hesitated, then shook his head. He laughed rather bemusedly and then shook his head again.
“They’re looking for Newt,” he finally said.
“Dad, Xavier,” Katherine corrected.
“Newt,” he repeated. He waited for Katherine to push on, but she didn’t. “They’re looking for him and he’s come back to Mum for help, so she did. Transfigured him into a fly and told him to leave, so he did. And now they’re after Mum because she helped him, see.”
Katherine shook her head now. It’s not possible for Death Eaters to be after her family if they did nothing wrong. But then again, they did attack a whole camp of innocent wizards and witches to look for Harry Potter during the World Quidditch Cup. She poured and handed Xavier a glass of cold water and he drank it thirstily.
“Why were they after Dad, anyway?” Katherine asked, taking the now empty glass back and setting it on the small coffee table.
Newt had been helping to hide some friends of his that were Muggleborn, which meant that their parents were of Muggle blood. He had hid a good six or so of them before they were discovered by the Snatchers. He abandoned them, and ran for his own miserable life, or so Xavier said.
They sat in silence for a while and Katherine began to feel worried. There was a reason why he was here, and he hadn’t told her yet. She held her hands in front of her, elbows on her knees.
“Mum, and I are leaving. We were sure Henry was going to come, too, but he ran away just now. I don’t know where to, but… We’re looking for him. And Grant won’t come along either. You have to come with us.”
Katherine slowly shook her head. “Xavier,” Katherine sighed. “I can’t leave William. And I don’t have enough money for traveling now.”
Xavier stood up and Katherine followed suit. He turned his back on her, and she heard him sniffle. He faintly said goodbye, then the popping sounded again, and he was gone. Katherine watched the spot where her brother stood for a moment longer, then returned the glass to the dish rack and exited the complex. She sighed to herself again, then went back to her own complex and found that William was already cooking the food she had left out.
Katherine placed her sunglasses on top of her head, and looked around for any signs of Andrianna. There weren’t as many people in the morning as there were now, but even then she couldn’t find them. She spun around one more time and spotted a short, brunette who resembled a thick tree branch.
“Mum!” Katherine yelled.
Many people standing around her stopped and stared, but Katherine didn’t see them. She dashed off towards Andrianna and when she reached her, threw her arms around her mother. For a moment Andrianna stood confused, but when she recognized her daughter’s light brown hair, she circled her arms around her, too. Katherine looked up at Xavier and held out her hand to him. He squeezed her hand and smiled lightly.
Andrianna pulled away from Katherine and placed both hands on Katherine’s face. “Are you coming with us?”
Katherine shook her head. “No, Mum. I can’t leave William. We don’t have enough money to support ourselves elsewhere, yet, but when we collect enough, we’ll come.”
A voice rang over on the intercom calling for Flight 731 to board the plane. Andrianna sadly smiled at Katherine, and used her thumbs to caress her daughter’s cheekbones.
“I bought a ticket under your name anyways, just so they think that you’ve fled the country.” Andrianna examined Katherine’s face for a moment longer. “I’ve always loved these cheekbones of yours,” Andrianna said through stifled tears. “Be safe. Let no one know of your magical ancestry. Stay hidden.”
Katherine nodded fiercely and scrunched her face for she was on the verge of tears. Andrianna kissed her forehead, hugged her for a last time, then released her so she could hug Xavier who buried his face in the nook between her neck and shoulder. After a few short seconds, Katherine let him go, and Andrianna and Xavier grabbed their luggage handles and began to walk through the terminal.
“I’ll look for Henry,” Katherine half shouted to them.
Andrianna kept walking, but Xavier turned and gave Katherine a faint smile before finally leaving her view.
Henry crawled under a brush and held his breath. Three pairs of feet rushed past him and downwards toward the river. He had only meant to find Grant and tell him to come with them to America, but he was greeted by three Snatchers. Henry, like his mother and older brothers, was a half-blood. He only heard of them catching Muggleborns, however, and was confused when he had found three dirty, rotten-toothed, and famished men in his way. His first instinct was to run, and so he did. Their first instinct was to chase, and so they did.
Henry had always been quick on his feet, but he had only nearly escaped with his life just now. After he made sure they disappeared, he crawled back out and ran uphill back to where he first encountered them. Looking around to make sure that they were not anywhere in sight, he apparated into Katherine’s complex, fortunately in a closet.
He knew that William wasn’t aware of their family situation or background, and so for the sake of Katherine’s marriage, he kept quiet. He could see William light a fag, then grab his keys and exit the complex. Katherine was sitting on a wooden, kitchen chair with her forehead in her hands. She stayed that way for a while longer, then sniffled and wiped her eyes which she revealed to be extremely puffy.
Henry walked out of the closet and approached Katherine quietly, then lightly tapped the kitchen table. She looked up in surprise, her eyes bulging when she realized who was standing in front of her.
“Henry!” she cried.
Katherine stood up and ran to hug him, almost squeezing the life out of him. He didn’t hug her, though, because they were never really close even before she married William.
“Why are you still here?” Katherine finally asked when she pulled back. “Why didn’t you leave with Mum and Xavier? Why did you run away?”
“I was only going to tell Grant to come, too,” Henry replied blandly.
“Well, you could have used a payphone! Was that too much to ask? You had the three of us worried sick about you!”
“Well, I didn’t ask you to worry now, did I?”
“It’s fine if you don’t want to worry me, but you didn’t need to frighten Mum! Do you know how dangerous it is to be alone now? You could have been killed!”
“But I didn’t get killed, I fended for myself!” Henry shouted.
Katherine just stared at him in disbelief. Then, it turned to worry and concern.
“What do you mean? Were you being chased by those…” Katherine rolled her hands over one another. “Those… Those catchers, one of those people?”
“Snatchers,” Henry corrected, “and I ran from three of them, not just one. They never travel alone. There’s too much a risk of losing a Mudblood if they do.”
“Henry!” Katherine exclaimed. “Mum said to never use that word--”
“Well Mum’s not here, is she? She and Xavier couldn’t wait until I got back? Were they that afraid that they didn’t have the decency to wait for my return? But then, they are just one family, aren’t they? Just the same as Dad or probably worse.”
“It was your fault for running away without telling them, and if anyone is like Dad, it’s you. You only do things for yourself and you don’t think about how it will affect others like Mum or Xavier. I understand you don’t like me, but now I’m all you have left because Mum is gone! Dad is gone! Grant is leaving, I spoke to him an hour ago! And you think you’re so different from Dad?”
Katherine took some time to calm herself down, but she could clearly still see that Henry was far from calm. She felt bad for lashing out at him like that, but she felt it was the right thing to do. Andrianna had been worried to death, and Xavier went popping around random places he knew to see if Henry was there. Katherine sighed, then got up and left to the kitchen to grab him a glass of water. He didn’t want it, and was about to leave when William came through the front door again.
William stared at Henry with confusion, then looked to Katherine for an answer. “Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?”
Henry stood bewildered, then looked back at Katherine.
“He’s my youngest brother,” Katherine said, walking up to stand next to Henry. “Why are you… I thought you were off to work already.”
“I… forgot my reports,” William answered, still staring at Henry suspiciously. Then he whispered to Katherine, “We’ll talk about this when I get back.”
He went upstairs to grab his reports, then left without saying another word to either of them. Henry turned to Katherine with raised eyebrows and an open mouth.
“That’s William? The husband that you wouldn’t leave behind?”
“You’re going to stay with me until I can contact Mum and Xavier,” Katherine said ignoring his questions, and then briskly walked to the kitchen and sat down with her head in her hands again.
Henry watched her silently, then approached her and stood behind the chair across from her. He opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it. Henry waited until Katherine took a huge breath, then looked up at him and slid her hands down her face before he finally chose to speak.
“They’ll find me, you know. And they’ll find you,too,” Henry said.
“And so what’ll we do? Phone Grant to come and take us with him to Greenland? I don’t have enough money for traveling, Henry. I’ve spent everything on these stupid complexes and no one has come to look at them.” Katherine put her head in her hands again.
“I don’t know. If only I were at Hogwarts, I could ask Professor Sprout for a few spells. But of course Professor Snape probably wouldn’t allow her to give out any protection charms.” Henry plopped down in the chair, too, and folded his arms on the table.
Zoe ran down the dark, empty streets of southern London at the fastest pace she’s ever gone. She looked back every now and then to see whether or not the Snatchers had caught up to her. Suddenly, she felt something wrap around her legs and she fell to the ground with a loud thud and a scream that was cut short. She turned around to see two middle-aged girls smirking down at her.
“That was quite the run, eh?” said the one with blue eyes.
“Well, at least she’s down now,” said the other.
Zoe pointed her wand at the one with the blue eyes and shouted, “Expelliarmus!”
She waved her wand easily, and instead, Zoe’s wand left her hand, flying into the air and behind her. Zoe tried desperately to remove the chains from her legs now, but with no luck. She had suddenly wished that she stayed in Hogwarts, because at least she wouldn’t have been chased by Snatchers there with Professor Snape in charge. Zoe began to whimper as she tried desperately to remove the chains.
The two Snatchers laughed at her many failed attempts, and were about to grab her when they heard a voice shout, “Reducto!”
The girl with the blue eyes dissipated into dust, and the other Snatcher looked about worriedly before disapparating. Zoe looked around and saw a figure coming into view from between two thick bushes. She recognized the face to be Henry Atwell’s and sighed with relief.
“Henry!” she said. She threw her arms around him when he knelt down beside her and cried a little.
He pulled himself away and looked at the chains on her legs. “I don’t know the counter jinx. We’ll have to take it off before that Snatcher comes back.”
Henry handed her his wand, though he knew it wouldn’t work quite properly in her hands, and began to untangle the chains. Surprisingly, he untangled it quickly and helped her to her feet, then apparated outside the front door of Katherine’s complex. He knocked five times and tapped his feet impatiently.
“Whose house is this?” Zoe asked, looking around the lengthy hallway.
“My sister’s,” Henry answered after knocking again.
The door opened and Katherine stared at Henry and Zoe in confusion. She closed the door, released the chain lock, then opened the door wider for them to come through.
“Henry, what’s going on? Who are you?” Katherine asked.
“Zoe Accrington, my year at Hogwarts. She was being chased by two Snatchers so I brought her here,” Henry answered.
“I’m sorry if there’s any inconvenience, Miss Atwell. I’ll be on my way as soon as you say so.”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” Katherine said, poking her head outside cautiously. “They haven’t followed you back here, have they?” Katherine asked after some quiet thinking.
Zoe and Henry looked at one another, then Henry shook his head. Katherine pursed her lips, then went into the kitchen and grabbed two glasses of water for them. Zoe downed the glass in two gulps, then wiped her mouth and made a gesture as if she was about to burp, but suppressed it. Katherine handed her a second glass, and Zoe finished that one shortly also.
“Well, I don’t have any clothes that can fit you properly. You’re probably one or two sizes below me,” Katherine said searching through her closet.
She pulled out a pink, flowery blouse and held it under Zoe’s neck, cringed her face, then hung it again. Next was a light green, crew neck t-shirt but at that Katherine also cringed and put it back.
“Miss Atwell, I really don’t mind what I get, as long as you don’t need it anymore, I’ll be more than glad to accept,” Zoe offered politely.
Katherine looked at her with pursed lips. “That sounds like I’m giving you my scraps, now, but the ones I don’t want are the ones that don’t fit so I’ll just give them all to you.”
With Zoe’s permission, Katherine began pulling out all sorts of different colored shirts from hangers and cardboard boxes. Next came the skirts, dresses and pants, some of which were not up-to-date with Zoe’s taste in fashion, but clothes were clothes and Zoe wasn’t going to refuse any.
William stared at his glass of whiskey. He twirled the two remaining ice cubes around the cup slowly, then gulped down the rest of the drink, exhaling loudly as he did so. A figure came to sit beside him, and seemed to be facing him. He peeked under the bar and saw two tan knees poking out underneath a bright red dress. He looked up to find a stunning, brown-haired girl with hazel eyes and a dashing smile.
“Hello,” she said to him. She had an American accent. “What’s a handsome man like you doing here alone?”
He smirked, then turned to face her properly, and held out his hand. “William Leighton.”
She took it, and shook his hand. “Kellie Wright.”
“My wife has been driving me crazy these past few days.”
“Your wife? A stable man, I see,” Kellie said.
He chuckled. “Well, I am. She thinks I’m broke.”
“What has she been doing? Cheating on you?”
“Her younger brother has been staying with us, but he’s been going in and out of the house like it’s his own. And she doesn’t even regulate him. He must be some type of hooligan and is trying to sell our stuff.”
“Well, I would never let my little brother treat you like that.”
William looked at her with raised eyebrows, and she smiled at him alluringly.
Zoe looked out the window longingly. A group of teenagers were walking down the street, laughing and pushing each other. She had never spent a year away from her friends before, especially when the sun was still out. A handsome young man was among them, brushing his brown bangs from his face. Then, there were three knocks from the door, and she turned around to see Katherine standing there with a tray in her hands.
“I’ve brought you some lunch,” Katherine said. “It’s kind of lonely eating alone, isn’t it?”
Zoe smiled, then stood up and took one plate of food from the tray. “Well, after spending so long at Hogwarts it’s a bit weird to be eating with so little people.” Katherine set the tray down, and both of them sat on Zoe’s bed, slowly eating their food. “What house were you sorted into?”
Katherine looked at her for a second, confused about this sorting, then realized that she was talking about Hogwarts. “At Hogwarts?” Zoe nodded. Katherine chuckled, “I didn’t go to Hogwarts. I went to a public school. I’m… not gifted.”
Zoe’s eyes bulged, and she swallowed her half-chewed food. “I’m sorry, I… I didn’t realize.”“It’s all right. You would expect me to be like them, but… Unfortunately, I’m not,” Katherine said dully.
Zoe smiled half-heartedly, then continued to chew her food until there was nothing left but the crumbs that had fallen off of her bread. Katherine took the plates back to the kitchen sink and began to wash them. Zoe stared out the window again, when suddenly there was another knocking coming from her door. She turned and saw that William was standing there.
“Mr. Leighton,” Zoe said silently, turning to face him.
“Look, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but Kathy and I have to make a living off these complexes. You and Henry have been here for a week or so now, and you’re using up an awful lot of what’s left of our money,” William said in a low voice to be sure that Katherine wouldn’t hear.
“I’m… I’m sorry, Mr. Leighton. Please, let me stay for a few more days until I can find where my parents have gone.”
William looked at her coldly, held up one finger and said, “One week.”