Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to JK Rowling. No offense is intended.
Note: Takes place in an alternate world after the fifth novel in the Harry Potter series.
Into the Grey
When Angelina woke in the hospital, her vision was blurry and the pain radiated from her chest, spreading to her toes and fingers. She didn’t recall everything at once. It came back in slow frames, like in the movies Alicia always insisted they see when they were in Muggle London.
Movies. Alicia. Muggle London.
The words were the beginning, middle and end to the story. The details had to be filled in for everyone. They’d heard a version of it from Katie, the only one to come out unscathed, but insisted on hearing her side. They pestered her with questions when all she wanted to do was sleep or push her imagination elsewhere to escape the pain. Telling was feeling, and feeling was pain.
“This is the last time I’ll repeat this,” she said to the Auror during his third visit. Her parents were standing in the background. Their worry had faded a day ago, anger quickly taking its place.
“Katie, Alicia, and I went into Muggle London to see a movie. We met a few people there and decided to have a pint at a pub around the corner. We were walking back to the Leaky Cauldron when a man attacked Alicia from behind with a knife. He told us to give him all our money. We tried to tell him we didn’t have any. We’d finished all our Muggle money at the pub. He called us liars and he…” She faltered there, but pushed ahead. “He stabbed Alicia, right there, right in front of us. I took out my wand and I hexed him with the Jelly-Legs Jinx and he fell over. I ran to Alicia. Katie was in shock, I think. She just stood there. I was trying to stop Alicia’s bleeding when I heard it. It wasn’t like anything I’d heard before. It was this loud bang. I looked over at the man and I saw that he had this thing in his hand. I was looking right at him. I don’t remember much after that. Just a lot of pain, and then I could feel myself bleeding.”
When the Auror had gone, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson came to Angelina’s bed. Yesterday had been the day of hugs and words of comfort. Angelina had finally woken up and by nightfall the healers were certain she would live. Because of that certainty, today would be a day of scolding and harsh words.
“It was stupid of you to go,” Mr. Johnson said quietly. “I’ve warned you before.”
But Angelina had never taken those warnings to heart. She was the youngest child, prone to fits of rebelliousness and thinking on her own. Whatever her parents deemed right she deemed wrong and vice versa. Like them, she was stubborn enough to think she had the answer without even knowing the question.
“Did you think we were lying to you when we said they were dangerous?” Mrs. Johnson hissed, careful to keep her voice low. “You could’ve been killed, and all because of your stupidity. I hope you’ve learned your lesson.”
Mr. Johnson placed a hand on his wife’s arm. “Evelina, this isn’t the time for this,” he said. His voice was soothing like the gentle motion of the sea. “We almost lost you,” he told his daughter. “Do you know how long you laid there in that street bleeding before Katie got help? A very long time. It shouldn’t have happened. You shouldn’t have put yourself in that situation. You’re very lucky, Angelina. The Spinnets… Well, you’ll see in a few days.”
Her father had always been the reasonable one, the only one of the two who could make her cry and repent.
Lucky. Angelina heard the words a few more times during her stay at the hospital. She’d almost died from blood loss. She’d been given so much blood replenishing potion that she could only receive a limited amount of healing potions. The lack of such potions should’ve spelled her death, but as the healers said, luck was on her side.
Angelina also heard another word and learned its definition. Gun. It was a weapon Muggles used to defend themselves or to cause harm. It discharged small bits of metal into the body at a high speed. The Muggle man had shot her with a gun twice, once in the heart and once in the lung. He’d shot Alicia in the head. The day Angelina was scheduled to leave Alicia still had not regained consciousness. It was likely she never would.
The Spinnets had come to visit Angelina once. Their anger and grief had been tangible, as well as their jealousy. They hadn’t been able to look Angelina directly in the eye. Mr. Spinnet had made an attempt but quickly turned away, tears surfacing.
It was on her last day in the hospital when Katie came to see her. Angelina was in the middle of packing the cards and sweets she’d received when she came. Katie was nervous and pale, pulling on the hem of her jumper. She looked like she hadn’t slept in days. Katie confessed she hadn’t.
“Are you alright?” she asked. “You look okay, but—”
“I’m fine,” Angelina interrupted. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
“I guess so,” Katie murmured. “I’m sorry, you know.”
“About what? You didn’t do anything.”
“I just stood there while everything happened. I didn’t do anything.”
“You saved our lives. It was you who cursed that man and made him stop. You ran for help.” The words were hollow and unfeeling. There was no doubt of their accuracy, but there was more to be said, more to feel.
“I’m going to visit Alicia. Do you want to come with me?”
“Angelina has to go home, Ms. Bell. She shouldn’t be under any unnecessary strain.” Mrs. Johnson’s neutral tone was a contrast with her haughty expression. With it she said everything she dared not speak. She would’ve moved the heavens to have this loathsome mudblood never speak to her daughter again. It was because of her and her influence Angelina had gotten into this mess. It was Katie’s desire to impress the two older girls that had started the trips to Muggle London.
“Are you all packed?” Mrs. Johnson asked her daughter. “We really must go. The sooner you’re home the better. The things you’re exposed to here,” she drawled, eyeing Katie.
Indignant, Katie opened her mouth to retort but saw Angelina’s harsh glare. Her mouth snapped shut with a click.
Neither said goodbye.
Without the aid of sleeping potions, the nightmares came. Over and over, Angelina heard the loud popping noise. She felt her blood sliding over her skin, and the little pinpricks of pain as her head hit the ground each time her body convulsed. Beside her, Alicia lay motionless, her blood covering the dirty ground like a newly formed river.
Every night Angelina woke up a few hours after going to sleep, her breath caught in her throat, her nightclothes moist from her sweat, her pillows wet from the tears she refused to shed during the day. The nightmares became longer and more detailed as she recovered. The memories began to form.
“What the hell are you?” the man had shouted. The sound of his legs knocking together had been faint. “Goddamn freaks,” he’d shouted before drawing the gun. Angelina hadn’t had the knowledge to be afraid. She’d stared curiously at the thing and hadn’t looked away, not even after the first shot.
Two weeks had gone by when Angelina woke up screaming. Her father rushed to her side and closed his arms around her. Mrs. Johnson lingered in the entryway of the bedroom.
“Oh, Angie,” Mr. Johnson sighed. He held her close, rocking her like a child. “Why did you have to do it? You didn’t think anything would happen, did you? You thought you were invincible, that your magic would protect you. It’s hard to find out that isn’t true. Do you see what your mother and I have been talking about? Do you see?”
Angelina didn’t reply, choking on her sobs.
A month after the shooting, Angelina received an owl from the Spinnets. Alicia was dead.
Finally accepting there was no hope for their daughter, the Spinnets had decided to end Alicia’s life. A small dose of poison was all it took. Alicia had not so much moved a muscle as she died.
Angelina sat on her bed, holding the letter, too numb to cry. Her mother found her hours later in the same position.
“I suppose you’ve heard about your friend,” she said softly. “It shouldn’t have been this way. Do you see what we’ve been trying to tell you? Do you see?”
Although uncertain, Angelina nodded. “I suppose I do.”
In the aftermath the Johnsons became closer than they’d been ever since Angelina had begun puberty. Angelina’s brother and sister frequently visited. On evenings and weekends there were games, the odd picnic, and hours in the sitting room listening to the Wireless. Because she was not shut up in her room, involved in a universe in which she was its center, Angelina began to notice her mother’s absences. Some nights when dark came, Mrs Johnson would excuse herself and would not be seen until the next morning. She always looked tired, yet elated, as if she’d spent the night dancing.
Angelina also noticed the frequent visitors her father had. Like him, they were pleasant-faced men and women with heavy tongues. Some would’ve called them weak, but Angelina knew better. Their words were precise, well thought out, and always seemed to have many meanings. Information gatherers, Angelina’s brother called them.
Logically, there was no doubt of what was going on, but Angelina still needed proof. One afternoon she went into her parents’ empty suite to search their closets.
The robes and masks were neatly contained in two boxes on a top shelf, obscured by a charm. There was no shifting of Angelina’s worldview. She’d always known the truth about her parents. Now she was ready to acknowledge and accept it.
Her father found her in the closet, staring inside one the boxes. “You don’t seem very angry,” he said.
“I’m not.” She picked up the pale mask. It was beautiful in its own way. With it each Death Eater stripped away their identity and became free to do whatever they pleased without fear of judgement. The mask allowed its wearer to occupy a space most craved to inhabit but were too afraid to.
Mr. Johnson sighed. “I hope you understand. Someone has to protect our world. You don’t know the things I know. Muggles have more dangerous weapons than guns. I’m doing this to protect you.”
“I’d rather protect myself,” Angelina snapped.
Realizing what she’d said her eyes widened. She wanted to say that she didn’t mean it, but that would’ve been a lie.
Mr. Johnson didn’t respond. Instead he took the box from Angelina and put it back in its place. “Come,” he said. “Dinner’s ready. We’ve invited the Parkinsons. I know you and their daughter have had difficulties in the past, but I’m sure you two can be civil. You might find that you like her. You two have a lot in common, I think.”
Angelina nodded slowly. Like a child, she put her hand in her father’s and allowed him to lead her.