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Creatures of the Wind, Part 1

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Creatures of the Wind

“…And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world,

Are immune to your consultation; they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.”

 

Fred and George Weasley. Of all the terrors imaginable to Ophelia Lestrange. She had seen them making their way up to the top rows of the stadium, along with their family, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter. Their faces were painted silver and green, for Ireland, and she wondered inwardly if they’d realized those were Slytherin colors, too.

“Oh, if it isn’t the Mademoiselle Lestrange!” one had sneered, as they dipped into mock curtseys.

“My word, they make blood-proud folk like you walk up all these stairs?”

“I would’ve thought Krum’d have to fly you up here himself!”

Draco had struck back with some slur-laced retort, leading her away by the arm while Lucius lingered back to snipe at Arthur Weasley. It bothered her, more than the teasing. She hadn’t needed his protection.

She spent the entire match glancing over her shoulder, hoping they were too distracted by the game to try and bother her again. Luckily, they seemed to have had their fill.

Afterwards, she slipped from the Malfoys’ lavish tent and disappeared into the forest, where she could be far from the noise and the crowd. It was dangerous, what she was doing. She knew that. Especially as she was unable to use magic. But she’d had enough of the family for one night. Neither Draco nor his father had seemed to notice, or otherwise didn’t care when she’d wandered off. Then again, Lucius had become rather distracted, as the match drew to a close, and she knew precisely why. Draco, for his part, was nauseating her. He had been strutting around the house like a prince for days, boasting endlessly about his box seats to the match. It had baffled her, especially since she herself had a seat in the exact same box.

At least Narcissa hadn’t accompanied them, she thought. Small mercies.          

Oi!”

She whipped around in the darkness to see the Weasley twins tailing her through the trees.

“Where are you off to, Lestrange?” one of them needled, as they trotted up on either side of her.

“Off to senselessly murder some more of our friends and family?”

“That’s what your lot do, isn’t it?”

It was more than she could tolerate. Without a word, she pushed one of them back by the chest, nearly sending him toppling to the ground. And before he could exact revenge, she burst into tears. The pair watched in stunned silence as she collapsed back against a tree, sinking to the soft moss as she wept.

One of them demanded, “Are you mental??”

“Oh, sod off!!” she shouted, throwing a handful of sticks and leaves at them.

The one she hadn’t pushed moved to retreat, tugging at his brother’s arm. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Nah, you go,” he whispered, casting a wary glance in her direction, “I feel sort of… bad.”

With a scoff, his brother left, traipsing noisily through the forest. The remaining twin cautiously sat down. She noted that he seemed to have taken care not to be within arm’s reach of her.

“What do you want?” she asked pointedly, voice hitching on her tears.

He seemed surprised by the question. “I dunno. That was a bit of a disproportionate response, don’t you think?”

It made her want to scream. She wanted to call him names until he went away. Him, and everyone else who had ever called her a murderer.

And yet, somehow, he was still talking. “So, are you, er… Does that mean you’re alright, then?”

“No,” she snapped, as though it should’ve been obvious.

He shifted uncomfortably, leaves crunching beneath him.

“What have I ever done to you?” she suddenly demanded.

He shrugged, picking a twig up from the ground and beginning to peel the bark away.

“Do you honestly think I like my family?” she continued, gaining momentum, “Do you think I like the things they’ve done to people? You think I want any part in it?”

“I ‘spose not,” he allowed, flicking shreds of bark at a nearby tree. “I ‘spose you’d have to be barking mad to like all that. But how am I supposed to—”

“By asking,” she snapped, “By talking to me, for once in your life, instead of just chasing me around, everywhere, and shouting at me! You’ve been doing it for years, and I’m bloody sick of it!”

“Sorry.” He seemed genuinely chagrined. He averted his gaze, but she could just make out the color rising to his freckled face, beneath the cracked and smeared paint.

She sighed, making a very concerted effort to ease down. She took a deep, stilling breath before speaking again.

“Which one are you, then?” she asked, “Fred or George?”

“George,” he said, abruptly extending a hand towards her, “I’m George.”

The gesture shocked her, and she eyed his outstretched hand with grave suspicion.

“Oh, go on, then,” he coaxed, “Let’s call a truce.”

She hesitated for a moment, before reluctantly taking it. He smiled broadly when she did, giving it a tellingly enthusiastic shake.

“And now you tell me your name,” he encouraged, a slightly patronizing tone to his voice.

She rolled her eyes. “You know my name.”

“C’mon,” he groaned, “Do it right.”

“Ophelia.” She straightened her back, drawing herself up to her full seated height. “Ophelia Belladonna Yaxley Lestrange.”

“Blimey, you’re a mouthful, eh?” he chuckled.

The awkwardness of the remark hit them both at once, and she looked at him with an expression bordering on disgust.

George quickly cleared his throat. “I mean, er… What kind of a name is that?”

“I’m named for the constellation of the serpent-bearer.”

“Which one’s that again?”

Ophiuchus,” she nearly snapped, “Don’t you pay attention in Astronomy?”

He laughed explosively, quickly composing himself again at the sight of her expression. “Er…” he stammered, feeling the heat rise to his face, “No. No, I do not.”

She frowned. “People say you’re meant to be the sweet one.”

He shrugged, giving her a nervous smile. “Dunno about that, but I’m the handsome one.”

She cocked an eyebrow, not yet impressed. They simultaneously realized that their hands were still clasped, quickly and awkwardly releasing one another.

After a pause, he spoke again. “I really am sorry,” he offered, avoiding her gaze, “It’s just that you’re always hanging about with Malfoy, and he’s such a pompous little git. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard you speak, till you told us to sod off just now.”

“Draco’s awful,” she announced, matter-of-factly, “He’s a spoiled little brat, and most of the time, I can hardly stand him.”

George looked at her in surprise. “Really?”

“Of course! God, what must you think of me? I’ve just been stuck living with his family for so long, I’ve got no choice but to be around him all the time.”

“Right,” he nodded, returning to his twig, “’Cause your family, they’re all—”

“In Azkaban,” she pointedly interrupted, “I’ll save you the trouble of trying to be polite about it. My mother died in there, but my aunt, my uncle, and my father are all still inside.”

Again, George was caught off-guard by her candor. But this was the first time, all her life, that she’d been given the opportunity to explain it for herself.

“It’s where they belong, all of them,” she said frankly, “They’re vile, evil people, and I hate that everyone just assumes, right out, that I’m like them. Or that I want to be like them. But nobody ever talks to me about it, do they?” she mused bitterly, “Nobody ever asks. No, isn’t it so much easier to just pretend I don’t exist at all? Or, even better, take all of your anger with the Death Eaters out on me. Yes, that’s the real winner.”

When George didn’t reply, she thought to needle him a little further.

“Like you do.”

He cringed a little at the frank reminder. “Well…” he tentatively offered, “Suppose we have a go at being friends? You and me and Fred. So you’re not stuck with that git Malfoy all the time.”

She rolled her eyes dismissively. “What kind of talk is that? Honestly, I've no idea why I’m even telling you this. I know all about you and your dodgy brother, and you’re just pulling some trick. You’re going to wind up using all of this against me, sooner than later, and I won’t—”

“No, honestly!” he insisted, shifting around so he was facing her, “You’re right, we’ve been bang out of order towards you, and we had no cause for it. You actually seem like you’re…”

She watched, unimpressed, as his voice trailed off. “I’m…?”

He stammered, color rising to his cheeks again. “Well, I’ve always sort of thought that—”

He was cut short by a piercing scream, sounding from the direction of the campground. They both leapt to their feet. Through the trees, they watched as a roaring column of fire rose skyward from amidst the tents.

George took a few stumbling steps backward, eyes wide. He threw an oddly protective arm across her chest, shocking even himself. “What the hell was that?”

“Oh, no,” Ophelia whispered, clapping a hand over her mouth, “No, he’s actually going through with it, I didn’t think—”

“Wait, going through with what?” George asked, astonished, “Who— What is that?”

She looked up at him, sickened by what she was about to say. Her eyes were wide and glassy as she announced, “It’s the Death Eaters.”

His heart dropped. “What?”

She took him by the sleeve, and they sprinted for the tree line. “You need to find your family and get out of here,” she panted, “Lucius Malfoy’s the one leading the attack, and he’s got it out for the lot of you.”

“Hang on,” he ground to a halt, tugging sharply at her arm, “Are you serious?”

Yes!” she said desperately, forcing him to keep running. “He brought his mask and robes with him. He tried to hide them, but I saw them in our tent. And the rest of them must’ve just Apparated in.”

As they neared the edge of the forest, the scene at the campground became all the more horrifying. Flaming tents, people lying stunned on the ground. Parents were grabbing their children and Disapparating. And, above the frightened screams, there could be heard the twisted, occultist chanting of the Death Eaters. They were marching from tent to tent in their silver masks and tall, pointed black hoods, leaving carnage in their wake.

All at once, they pair were met by a wall of frantic people, running into the trees. George and Ophelia were the only two sprinting towards the attack. A few tried to stop them, screaming at them to turn them around, to flee, but George clasped her hand and forged a path upstream. The closer the got to the camp, the harder it became to breathe. The air was thick with smoke and scorching ember. At the edge of the forest, Ophelia suddenly ground to a halt.

“Are you mad?” George demanded, tugging at her hand, “What are you doing?”

She raised a shaking finger towards the sky.

“What?” He followed her gaze, and his face went white.

Floating in the sky above the campground was a colossal skull, composed of what looked like wisps of glittering emerald. A writhing serpent was protruding from its mouth like a tongue, twisting itself into a knot. As they watched, it rose higher and higher, a smoldering haze of greenish smoke, etched against the black sky like a new constellation.

The Dark Mark.

A familiar voice snapped George back to reality. Mr. Weasley was fifty or so meters ahead, silhouetted against the wall of fire. He was screaming his missing son’s name, whipping around wildly.

“We need to go,” he urged, tugging at her hand.

“No!” She stood her ground. “I can’t, Draco and I are meant to get back to our portkey and go home! I’m sorry!”

In a panic, he looked back and forth between her and his father, eyes finally coming to rest on hers. “Stay safe,” he said quickly, giving her hand a light shake. His voice was hoarse from the smoke, and quavering.

They winced as another explosion rocked the earth around them, sending leaves raining down from the trees above.

“Go!” she urged, trying to shove him away, “And tell your dad it’s Lucius Malfoy!”

He nodded hurriedly. “Thanks, Lestrange,” he said in earnest. With one final squeeze of her hand, he turned, and ran towards his father.