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Echoes

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Victoria Dodger was a strange thing; all bright hair and dark eyes, small body pulled tight into itself, almost as if to hide from the world and its inhabitants. One would be hard-pressed to notice her, so small and quiet was she, that it would be no leap of imagination to assume that she was a ghost or a spirit. Perhaps, if one were to look close enough, they would notice the knowing gleam in her eyes, the weariness set in her fragile bones, and the way she would look into space- as if seeing something that was no longer there. Such a strange child, one would think with a shiver, and would move on with their life and think on it, on her, no more.

Sometimes, in the darkness of the night and press of the shadows, neighbors would whisper to each other; harsh words on sharp tongues, malicious eyes and soulless hearts, gossiping of things not theirs to tell. Humans are such fickle things, deriving pleasure at the torture and misery of others, and it would only make sense that they would pick up on the weakness of each other, would notice how a child's mother would look on in fear rather than fondness at something that would -should- be considered a treasure in her eyes. It would only make sense that they would notice this and act in what is their nature – with destruction. With fear.

Victoria Dodger owed this world nothing. Not her happiness, not her grief, not her family, not her love, and most certainly not her life. She owed a world not her own not-a-thing, not when it had so unjustly and selfishly thrust her into its midst and expected of her. How could she look into her mothers' eyes and not see another's? How could she stare into the folds of a candy shop, thick with the scent of chocolate and taffy, and not think of Sister? Or listen to the joyful laughing of children playing hopscotch, of teasing one another soulfully, and not hear Brother?

How could she endure the whispered fear of her own flesh and blood, see the sadistic intent in a stranger's eyes, and be grateful? Perhaps, in another life, she would be happy – thankful, even – at what this world offered to her, perhaps she would look at this chance with a light heart, would try to make the most of it. However, another life this is not, and so all she could see in the life around her were things long dead, long gone. She did not ask of this, did not want this, and all the emotion she could muster was muffled rage and grief.

What use is knowledge of the future when so much of it has already passed?

- She owed this world nothing.

She is an adult. Responsibility, expectations, work, marriage, children, politics, bills – this is what it means to be an adult. And then-

She is a child. Chores, school, homework, friends, parents, siblings, games, candy, naivety – is this what it means to be a child?

She doesn't know. She is an adult masquerading a child's body.

She destroys the letter, when it comes. Teared it and burned it, scattered the ashes and pretended it never existed in the first place, green ink on thick parchment disappearing without a trace. She knows it won't work. She still tries.

Her mother is overjoyed when she finds one she didn't have enough time to decimate. Doesn't even question it, so desperate to be rid of a daughter with eyes that speak of death and tongue that won't speak at all. She doesn't blame her. This woman is not her mother, just as she is not her daughter. They both have come to that understanding long ago.

Watching her 'mother' pack her trunk with almost disturbing glee she takes the time to wonder if this will be the last time she'll see the woman. Wonders how far she'll go to get away, if she'll skip town or even change her name and identity. She finds it amusing. She isn't hurt in the least.

- She owed this world nothing.

It is 1994 and she is a child of 1999, a child of the internet, of computers, and iPhones, and tablets, and flat screens, and technology, and advancement. It is 1994 and the story's already begun.

What use is knowledge of the future if she isn't given any time to plan?

She is preparing for war and no one even knows it.

Every child knows the stories, of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, of the Chamber of Secrets, the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Goblet of Fire, the Order of the Phoenix, the Half-Blood Prince, and the Deathly Hallows. Stories for bedtime, of imagination and magic. She believed in magic too, once upon a life, and even with the absolute proof, of the knowledge, she can't bring herself to care. She'd give anything for her perfectly boring life from before. Anything.

There is war coming, death and destruction, and she is so very tired. Isn't dying once enough? So many books, devoured, one after another and not out of a love for reading, but out of desperation for survival. This world could rot for all she cared, she wasn't eager to die again. Everything would be fine without her interference.

September 1st is fast approaching and she is given her very first glimpse of the magical community. Diagon Alley is everything and nothing like she expected it to be. So wonderful, and magical, and cheerful, and beautiful – but all she can see is what it will become. The bodies that will litter the ground, the houses that will be destroyed, and the Death Eaters that will prowl the streets. She has not lived to see this before, yet somehow she feels as though this is her thousandth time visiting this street.

She tries to leave as soon as possible.

- She owed this world nothing.

Her mother buys her a cat, the first gift she's ever truly received, and there is something in her eyes – pity, and sadness, and madness, and glee – and she knows. Her mother will not be there to pick her up on the last day of school. She says nothing. Smiles. Moves on.

She loves the cat preciously. The cat has her sister's eyes. She names it Sasha.

For the first time, it feels like home.

What use is knowledge of the future if she doesn't even care?

- She owed this world nothing.

This story would continue without her.