If someone had taken the time to ask Amelia Flint what occasion in her young life she’d describe as most memorable or life-altering, good or bad, she wouldn’t have had any trouble naming a few.
The first thing that sprang to mind was when her father got promoted to Head Unspeakable and the public expectations their family had to uphold because of it. Her parents had always been strict before that, but after her father’s promotion, they had double-downed on the Pureblood traditions and the associated conduct, especially Amelia’s.
At eight-years-old at the time, she hadn’t understood why she couldn’t wear her favourite trousers or play outside with her cousins any longer. The only answer her parents had supplied her with when she’d asked about was that she was supposed to act like a lady from here on out. In reality, it had meant to make herself as invisible as possible to the point that people forget that she existed.
Then there was the day she got her first monthly at the tender age of ten and the earful her mother had given her about it. For months after, recalling her mother’s anger and the harsh words she hadn’t known the meaning of had haunted Amelia for a long time, making her feel dirty and broken somehow each time her monthly had made a new appearance.
Only years later, at Hogwarts, she had learnt not to be ashamed of a perfectly normal bodily function. By then, she’d already learnt to twist the truth a bit, and during the nightly girl talks in her dormitory, she’d spun a story about her loving mum and how she had helped and explained everything worth knowing about the subject. Because that was her friends’ experiences had been. It seemed wrong to confess that it had been her brother’s house elf, Bippy who had taught her what was happening to her body and what she was supposed to do each month.
There were a few other things, of course. Without much words, too afraid to say something wrong, Amelia would have said that the first time she’d heard about the war they were currently in the midst of had changed her view of the world. But most of all, it had distorted her view of her brother -the only one she had ever looked up to- after hearing him and his friends talk and laugh about the stomach-churning things that needed to be done to Muggles and Muggleborns.
There were good times too, like the day she’d received her Hogwarts letter and many weeks later, riding the Hogwarts Express to Scotland. The feel of being free from her restricting home life for a greater part of the year, the knowledge that she’d be a full-fledged witch in seven years’ time had been exhilarating. That very first day at Hogwarts had been the first step towards becoming her own person, free from her parents who’d only seen her as a burden; the unnecessary child since they already had an heir. She wasn’t even considered a spare to him since she had the misfortune of being born a girl.
However, as memorable as those events were, there was just one she would name as life-altering, and it wasn’t the by the day worsening war. No, the most life-altering, one of two, happened mere days after her fifteenth birthday during the Christmas holiday, now almost sixteen months ago.
The morning after the first time, Amelia had been foolish enough to think that she’d be able to forget. She had convinced herself that if she’d try hard enough, she could ignore the throbbing pain between her legs and the blood on the sheets. She’d told herself that if she tried hard enough, she’d forget the paralysing fear when he had stumbled into her room in the middle of the night. If she were patient enough, she’d forget the stench of Firewhisky that had washed over her when he had hovered over her, pressing his hand against her mouth as he’d touched her in places her mother had ordered her not to let any boy come near.
All she had to do was try, but then it had happened again, and again, and again.
Forgetting, however, was easier said than done. Amelia had worked hard to convince herself that it had been a nightmare. Given the time, the memories of those torturous nights that had felt unending would fade away like all other dreams. And as it was with dreams, she’d forget how the fabric underwear had cut into her skin when he had ripped it off.
One day, she’d forget the burning pain as he’d rocked in and out of her, ignore the echoes of his grunts that nearly drove her mad at the most inopportune times. She’d be able to ignore it all, just like he had ignored her muffled pleas to stop.
Amelia had truly believed that she could have made it go away. If only he had given her the chance to do so.
It hadn’t stopped after that first time, unfortunately. The in hindsight ridiculous precautions hadn’t kept him from entering her room each night until the day to return to school had come. She'd been safe there. Until the summer holiday, when he had joined her family in France for two, too, long weeks.
Amelia had threatened to tell on him, of course, which had resulted in black and blue thighs where he had grabbed and pinched her while mocking her. For days after, each time she had dared to look into the mirror after hours spent scrubbing herself raw, the bruises had mocked her, reminded her of what he’d made her: a useless throwaway.
Nevertheless, she did tell on him Once. But like he had told her, and as she’d expected, her mother hadn’t believed her. Even now, as she breathed through a different kind of pain in her belly and between her legs, she could feel the sting on her cheeks. That had been a tough lesson to learn; if her own mother refused to believe her, the chance that someone else would was non-existing.
Of course, Amelia wouldn’t have been Amelia if she hadn’t tried to rationalise her mother’s disbelief. He was her brother’s best friend, her father’s talented apprentice at the Ministry, but most of all, he was the handsome son of an affluent, ancient wizarding family with more important connections than the Flints. In contrast to that, she was just Amelia, a scrawny schoolgirl lacking the looks and intelligence to attract the attention of such a fine young man. Or so her mother had told her, each word followed by a slap. At least her mother hadn’t hexed her.
Alas, as it was, no one ever took the time to ask Amelia what her most memorable or life-altering experience was. She was just Amelia, mostly invisible and when she wasn’t, she was an embarrassment to the Flint name.
“You’re doing great, love,” the yellow-eyed hag cooed as Amelia fell back into the pillows, gasping for air. “It won’t be long now.”
Too exhausted to talk, Amelia nodded as she wiped the sweat from her forehead. In an attempt to distract herself from the gut-splitting pain, her eyes wandered over the bare walls in the room; her prison ever since her father and brother had collected her from Hogwarts last November when it had become clear what the cause of her illness was.
The silk wallcoverings as well the posters of her favourite Quidditch team were removed. There had been shelves upon shelves with books once, her escape from reality whenever she was home from school. Even her most cherished possession, a knitted doll her grandmother had made for her was long gone. Everything that had made her room her room had been taken away as a punishment for her 'scandalous' behaviour and the shame she’d brought upon the family. Her dream of travelling the world had never been so far out of her reach as it was today.
“Never gonna happen,” she muttered to herself in resignation as the last of her dreams shattered. A harsh ‘hush’ was the only reply to that.
Snapping her eyes up, Amelia saw her mother sit motionless by the door, watching her with disgust. The only reason she was here at all was that pureblood tradition demanded a witness to every birth. In any case, it made the disposal of unwanted descendants easier.
"Mother, please," croaked Amelia, despite knowing better. All she needed was for her mum to sit with her, hold her hand and tell her that everything would be all right. Her mother merely huffed and turned her head. And as a new, much stronger wave of pain rippled through her, constricting her belly and commanding her to push, Amelia finally gave up on having a mother.
The hag rushed to her side, pushing her knees further up and apart as she peered between her legs. “This is it, love. The little bugger is ready to come out.”
Mere hours later, Amelia studied the newborn on her knees. He was dressed in a makeshift nappy and half-covered in a ratty old blanket. She hadn’t dared the move or pick him up since he -her son- had been placed there. The hag had told her to expect him not to make it. Born two months too early, he was too small and weak to make it through the night without a little help. Her mother had refused the offered potions, of course, offended that someone would think that the baby was wanted enough for such help.
Just a half a day ago, Amelia would have agreed with her. All she’d envisioned since Madam Pomfrey had explained to her what ‘with child’ meant was a replica of him growing inside her, ruining her plans to forget.
With each flutter and kick, Amelia had wished it gone, cursing the fact that neither the brew her mother had forced her to drink nor the charms to rid of it had worked. But now, as she studied the small boy, Amelia wished the hag had given the potions to save him regardless instead of asking her mother about the necessity.
“You’re mine,” said Amelia as she stroked his ink-black, downy hair, the colour so much like hers. She counted ten fingers and ten toes, and as she ran her finger up his belly where a thin cloth covered the severed cord, she remembered how hard he had wailed when the midwife had cleaned him. It must have made him angry, Amelia thought with a wry smile. He couldn’t be as weak as the hag had made him out to be, not with lungs like his.
She wouldn’t allow it.
“You’re a Flint,” she said with more conviction. There was nothing of him in the boy before her. Not the blond hair or the blue eyes, nothing. Her son was hers alone. “You’re a Flint in dire need of a name.”
As if he agreed with the sentiment, the babe let out a shrill cry. His thin arms and legs feebly jerked with every gush of air he let out.
“Shh, you need to be quiet. They’ll hear you,” Amelia consoled him as she ran her fingertip down his cheek. She surprised herself by giggling -something she hadn’t done in a long time- when the little boy puckered his lips and turned to her finger, sucking in nothing but air.
“Are you hungry?” She eyed the phial her mother dropped by the baby’s head on her way out. The accompanying order had been clear; four drips in the baby’s mouth and to call for her once it was done.
Amelia wasn’t a Potion’s Master, nor had the subject been her favourite at school, but she’d recognise belladonna from thousands. She knew what the undiluted extract could do, and she was quite sure that when the hag had talked about helpful potions, this hadn’t been one of them.
She wouldn’t. She couldn’t.
The babe’s cries intensified, the sheer force behind them solidified Amelia’s half-meant resolution. She wouldn’t hurt her baby, but she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to keep him safe either. Licking her chapped lips in nervous anticipation, she slowly reached out and picked him up. He felt so impossibly small and fragile as she settled him against her chest.
“Shh,” she cooed again. Another giggle escaped her when her son turned his face to her chest with puckered lips. “You are hungry, aren’t you? How are we gonna solve that?”
Instinctively but still a bit hesitant, Amelia reached for the buttons on her nightgown. Helping her get dressed in clean clothes after the birth had been the only act of kindness her mother had shown her in a long time. Just as she reached the second button, the sound of someone unlocking the door startled her. She hastily covered herself again, expecting her mother and braced herself for the scolding that was sure to follow.
It wasn’t her mother.
“Can I come in?” her brother, Miles, asked from the door opening. With his mussed-up hair and dark circles underneath his eyes, he looked as if he hadn’t slept in ages.
Too stunned to form a proper reply, Amelia nodded. Miles hadn’t spoken or even looked at her since he and Father had come to pick her up from Hogwarts. Even during the long months that she had spent alone in her room, the only interaction she had with him were the books he had left by her door on occasion.
“How do you feel? Are you alright?” he asked as he sat down at the foot end, clearly feeling uncomfortable. His expression hardened when his eye fell on the phial, the liquid inside shimmering in the faint light. He cleared his throat a few times, searching for the right things to say almost. “I heard Mother tell Father that it’s a boy. She said that she gave you something in case- Have you?”
Amelia swallowed hard as she pressed herself against the headboard and the grip on her baby tightened, making him wail harder. “No, I- I can’t. Please, don’t make me do it.”
Miles’ expression didn’t change, and just as she feared that she’d given the wrong answer, he let out a deep, quivering breath and pocketed the phial.
“Never,” was his simple answer. After a few moments of silence wherein he watched Amelia try to soothe the baby, he quietly spoke again, “Can I ask you something?”
“Ask.” Amelia let out a small breath in relief when her son quieted, suckling her pinkie. When Miles remained silent, she snapped her eyes up to him and was taken aback by his expression He looked as if he was in pain, tears brimming in his eyes. “What’s wrong? Miles?”
He shook his head, slowly swallowing before he began to speak. “Last summer, in France… I-I heard you tell mother something about…’ his best friend’s name came out in a hoarse whisper, ‘Did he really? Were you telling the truth?”
“You heard?” Amelia ducked her head, not sure what to make of it. If Miles had heard, it would explain why he had suddenly gone home. Then she remembered her mother’s insults and the walloping that had followed, and Amelia wasn’t sure if she could be honest now. She’d much rather prefer her brother’s silence and ignoring her than hear him calling her the same names their mother had called her.
Sensing her hesitation, Miles moved closer, laying his hands on hers resting on the baby’s belly. “I won’t be mad, promise. I’ll believe you, just be honest with me. Did he? Is the boy his?”
“Yes,” Amelia whispered and braced herself for the accusations. They never came, and the longer Miles’ silence lasted, the more she got worked up. “I tried to stop him, I swear I did. I didn’t want to, honest-”
She repeated how she'd tried to stop him until the words got caught up in a knot in her throat, taking her breath away until she couldn’t do anything more than gasp for air as panic rose inside her chest. Her shoulders shook as the memories she had tried to lock inside the deepest and darkest crevices of her mind broke free again.
“S’alright, hush now,” Miles consoled her as he wrapped his arms around Amelia's shoulders, rocking back and forth with her until she calmed down. And even after she did, brother and sister sat like that for a long while, their attention on the restless newborn in Amelia’s arms.
Although neither said it aloud, both had the same thought; how could something so innocent come from such a horror. Eventually, Miles broke the silence, aware that time wasn’t on their side tonight.
“Do you want to keep him?” he simply asked. When Amelia tried to shrug off his arms off in reply, he held on tighter. She needed to know this. “Mister Yaxley came to talk to Father last week. Corban’s wife, she’s barren. They’re offering Father to take the babe off his hands. They’re prepared to pay a lot of Galleons as compensation, telling him it’d be a waste to spill pure blood. I guess Mister Yaxley had a hunch or-”
“He told him,” Amelia finished for her brother. And as she clutched her son closer to her chest, she hissed, “He’s mine, no one else can have him.”
“I thought you’d say that.” Miles reached into his pocket and pulled out two phials, much different than the one he had pocketed earlier. “Take these. You’re gonna need them. One for you and the other for, ah, him.”
“What are they?” she asked warily.
“I made new friends in the past few months. Better ones.” Miles ran his hand through his hair, unsure of how much he could tell her. “In exchange for my help with, ah, something, they’re willing to hide you until- until this blows over.”
“I-I don’t understand.”
“If you say yes, you’ll leave tonight. I need you both to be healthy enough to travel by Portkey.” He clutched her hand, hard. “Say yes. I can protect you from Mother’s potions tonight but not from Father. He’s made up his mind. I think that deep down, he knows why the Yaxleys want the boy. They will be here tomorrow morning to collect him. It’s one or the other.”
Amelia dropped her gaze to her son. Her lips curled up into a small smile at seeing him slowly blink back at her, yawning widely. For a brief moment, giving him to Mr Yaxley tomorrow didn’t seem like such a bad plan. They could raise him, one of their own, and she’d go on to live her life as if she’d never given birth. As if she didn't have a son walking around. She could go back to school, or at least bide her time until she turned seventeen and could leave without owing anyone an explanation.
“No,” she mumbled, pushing away the thought. Because her son would be a Yaxley in that case, the same as him. She’d rather die a thousand deaths than allow for that to happen. Her son was going to grow up and have a good life; she’d make sure of it.
“Amelia?” Miles asked tentatively, misunderstanding her mumbling.
“Yes,” she whispered. Her son wouldn’t have the life she had. “I’ll go. There’s something else we need first, though.”
“What is it?”
Suddenly embarrassed and feeling stupid because she couldn’t come up with something as simple as that on her own, Amelia smiled sheepishly and waved her hand over the baby in her arm. “He, ah, he needs a name.”
Less than two hours later, Amelia found herself in an Order safe house on a deserted island off the Welsh coast, her new home for the next five years. Despite her young age, she had found a new purpose in life, and that was to protect her baby, the boy who she gave her brother's middle name.
Little Marcus was hers to protect, by any means necessary.