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Standard disclaimers apply. Don't sue my ass, I can barely pay my rent.

I do apologise for the craptasticity of the obituary. I have no idea how to write one, and I threw something together for the sake of a first draft.

Chapter One


The Times
19 August 1974
Amanda Marie Higgins passed away Saturday. She was a kind and generous young woman, beloved of all who knew her. The eighteen-year-old leaves behind her mother and father, Marie and Jacob Higgins, and her twin sister Mary Ann. There will be a small service for the family following the burial on Wednesday.

The Daily Prophet
19 August 1974
You-Know-Who Murders Auror-to-Be; Flatmate Vanishes
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named attacked the Diagon Alley flat of two promising Aurors-in-training Saturday evening.

Amanda Higgins, 18, was found dead by Aurors arriving on the scene at approximately 8:30 p.m.

Healers at St. Mungo's say the deceased was a victim of the Killing Curse.

Badb Clota, 17, was at her mother's home outside London when neighbours rang to inform her that the Dark Mark had been sighted above her building.

The Department of Magical Law Enforcement trainee arrived by Floo at the flat, where she co-operated fully with the investigating Aurors, at 8:37 p.m.

'I had no idea we were on You-Know-Who's list,' Clota told reporters.

'What could he want with us? We're just kids.'

Clota refused further comment and left the scene on broomstick.

Witnesses say the young witch took only her wand and a small brown satchel.

Aurors looking for her at her mother's home on Sunday learned that she had never returned from her flat.

Mrs Ariadne Clota says she has no information as to her daughter's whereabouts.

Said the former Holyhead Harpies Chaser, 'Even if I knew where Badb might be, I wouldn't tell the Minister of Magic himself.

'In these troubled times, you can't be too careful.'

***

Kore Nebty-Davis was not feeling very well at all.

It was a lovely winter morning in the Nile Delta, the bright circle of the sun shining upon the rippling waters and stands of papyrus in the grounds, but all Kore wanted was the strength to cast a proper cooling charm. She had tried several times to do so but was unable to concentrate her efforts as she was far too busy emptying the contents of her stomach into the enchanted chamber pot she had carried downstairs from the vast master bedroom to the library garden. She had hoped to take advantage of a cooling breeze, but the air in the garden was still.

She had barely eaten a thing—and really, cold pumpkin juice and a scrambled egg over toast had been frightfully appetizing on the way in—but, owing to her current condition, she was unable to keep anything down at all.

Kore was pregnant.

This was certainly cause for considerable celebration, the current political climate notwithstanding; You-Know-Who might be on the rise, the ranks of his Death Eaters growing by the day, but a daughter was necessary to continue the family line—and now, after their continued efforts spanning months and even years, Kore could finally announce the happy news to her husband, Eubuleus.

As soon as he returned from his mission, of course. It would be impossible to contact him while it was underway.

Eubuleus, like Kore herself, was an Auror, and of course there was an official Ministry purpose to his current endeavour, but it was equally certain that this was not his main purpose. The Davises were members of what the Daily Prophet would likely call a 'fringe group'—possibly even a 'dangerous' one—known to its members as the Club and to non-members, thankfully, not at all. The sole purpose of the Club was to gain information regarding, and work to curtail, the activities of You-Know-Who and his cronies. Club members had already managed to discover that many prominent witches and wizards were linked in various ways to You-Know-Who, but they lacked the sort of evidence required to substantiate such accusations in court. The Death Eaters were very cunning—as Kore was well aware; she had known several of them at school.

Many Club missions, therefore, consisted either of gathering more evidence of wrongdoing or of seeking information with which to threaten individual Death Eaters in order to prevent them from any further nefarious activity. Eubuleus' current mission was of the latter sort.

Having finished disposing of her breakfast, Kore summoned her wand and performed a palate-cleansing charm. This was the third morning in a row, and it was getting rather tiresome. No, she decided, she certainly could not allow this ridiculous morning sickness to continue; at he very least it would be bad for the baby; weren't there studies, after all, conclusively proving breakfast to be the most important meal of the day? She would have to whip up some anti-nausea potion, though just which variety remained to be seen. A trip back indoors to the library was clearly in order.

The papyrus she required was at the top of a rather large and dusty rack, way in the back of the alcove behind the pillar carved and painted to resemble Thoth. The ibis-headed statue removed his beak from his book long enough to nod absently at Kore as she passed, but his eyes never left the page. She shook her head fondly at him, forbearing to comment on his choice of reading material—a paperback romance with a lurid portrait of an impossibly attractive couple, locked in a passionate embrace, gracing its cover—and levitated the scroll into her waiting hand.

She was just unrolling it on the worn, smooth writing desk in the corner when the flutter of wings drew her gaze to the window. An owl—Ministry by the look of the band on its leg—glided down to land on the desk, carefully avoiding the scroll, and drop its burden before her.

It was a small envelope bearing a Ministry seal.

Kore tore it open. This was probably from Eubuleus; he'd probably completed his mission and was writing to tell her when he would be arriving home or, perhaps, that she should come and meet him in London. Either way, she could hardly contain her joy; she'd be able to give him the news sooner than she'd expected!

She unfolded the letter. This wasn't Eubuleus' handwriting.

Dear Mrs Nebty-Davis, she read. We regret to inform you...

Kore stared at the parchment, unseeing. She fumbled on the desktop for her wand, heedless of the owl's annoyance when she pushed it out of the way, and summoned a glass of the good, aged wine from the cellar.

Kore looked at the glass for a moment before transfiguring it into a cup of strong tea. It wouldn't do to drink wine in her condition.

She stared at the tea. She drank the tea.

She returned her attention to the letter.

Dear Mrs Nebty-Davis,

We regret to inform you that Eubuleus Davis was killed in the line of duty on Wednesday afternoon. The Ministry offers its condolences on your loss. Your husband was a brave man and a fine Auror. He will be sorely missed.

Attached, please find details of his pension and so forth.

Yours,
Cornelius Fudge


His pension. Kore scoffed, blinking back tears. Not even Fudge's real signature; it was obviously a stamp. Her husband, the father of her unborn child, one of the greatest operatives the Club had ever had, didn't even rate Fudge's notice, not even at the hour of his death, and they thought she'd care about the pension! She tore open the drawer of the writing desk, reaching for a piece of parchment to write a scathing reply. She would tell them what they could do with their pension!

Her hand, reaching for the quill, shook so violently that she dashed ink across the desk, spraying black flecks and spatters over the letter and her clean sheet of parchment. The Ministry owl, hooting in disgust, took flight and soared toward the window.

'Fly!' Kore shouted, her voice raw with grief and anger. 'Fly away home to your masters, you miserable bird!' She hurled the ink pot at the owl's retreating tail, missing its exit by scant moments; the pot crashed against the windowsill and shattered. Kore stared at the spreading puddle of ink, stark against the pale alabaster of the floor, and shook with the force of her sobs.

***

The Babe Among the Reeds
The king's daughter went down to the river to bathe. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him...


Annan Pryor was an orphan. His parents had deposited him at a London orphanage at the tender age of five months, and had fled the country immediately, hoping he would be safe with the Muggles to whom they had entrusted him. They had been found and murdered by Death Eaters the following year, deep within the rainforests of Brazil.

Annan had no knowledge of this. All he knew was that he had been adopted when he was two by Mr and Mrs Brian Johnson, that his real parents hadn't wanted him, and that he was different from the other children.

Annan wanted to know everything about everything. He wanted to be the best and the brightest of the students in his school, and very nearly always was. He was rarely to be found spending his free time any other way than reading or studying, and his favourite subject was ancient history.

He had become convinced that the people of ancient times had had special knowledge, magical knowledge, that was lost to the scientific and intellectual community of the modern world. He hoped that, if he could study hard enough, he could discover some sliver of this ancient knowledge and teach the world how human beings had been meant to live.

Annan had always been drawn to magic. When he wasn't reading his historical texts or doing his homework, he was reading fantasy novels. His most prized possession was a collector's edition boxed set of The Lord of the Rings, complete with fold-out map of Middle Earth, that had been printed before he was born. It had pride of place on his favourite bookshelf, prominently displayed in the middle of the top shelf.

He had always hoped to be the one to discover how magic could become real, how it could be integrated with modern culture and everyday life. Then, the summer after he turned eleven years old, a letter arrived that would change everything.

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