Chapter 8

The Aftermath

Donal sat in the second year dorm, his head in his hands, unable to stop silently crying, the tears rolling down his cheeks and dripping onto his bedclothes. He was still shocked by the events that had happened at the ball. So many people had been injured and six of the Wrightwards boys had been killed, including Ethan.

Oh Ethan.

If Ethan had not been off sneaking around the castle with Donal and Avery, he would still probably be alive. He would have not been on his own when Prince turned up, and maybe he would have survived if they had all been in the Great Hall where they should have been.

He, Donal Talmorra, was responsible for that: for the death of someone whom he had not known long, but liked and thought of as a friend. He was responsible.

And the Seeings had been flooding his brain for the last couple of days. Not as strong or as vivid at first, but still the same. The darkness would consume everything. And it had begun, with Ethan. Was Avery at risk? For that matter, any of his friends? Agatha or Brian? The professors? There were too many strands in the life threads, all tangled too tightly together to make sense out of them, but still he tried following one strand, only to loose it, then another, and another…

He lay back on his bed, aware that another Seeing would happen soon. He had gotten used to the warning signs that often precluded a vision now, so it shook him less. But why had he had no warning of Prince’s attack? Why did he get visions of distant events, but not of ones happening sooner? He had so many questions! It made his head spin.

He sat up again, as a vision began, having learned that lying down usually made him feel rather queasy afterwards.

Avery entered his room, walking as slowly as possible to prolong studying as much as possible.

He noticed Donal, sitting on the bed, head in his hands. “Dude, you alright?” he asked cautiously, walking over to him.

This whole school is messed up.

Donal was starting to shake a little as Avery approached, beads of sweat starting to form on his forehead. He swallowed hard, rocking slightly, not really aware of Avery’s approach.

Donal started to breath hard, panting, his mouth open slightly, and licked his dry lips. A look of fear was on his face, his hands pressed hard against his eyes.

”No. I don’t want to see it again,” he murmured, “Not again. No. No. Agh!”

Avery backed away from the boy, thinking of all the reasons why Donal might be convulsing.

Seizure? Possibly, but not likely. He’s never done that before.

There weren’t many more possibilities he could think of, but he was worried all the same.

“Donal,” he breathed, kneeling down beside the boy.

Donal’s hands dropped to his sides, and his eyes were wide with fear, but unseeing. His jaw dropped open and a tiny drop of spittle dribbled down his chin. His body went rigid, his breathing labored. He overbalanced and landed on the floor, still totally stiff, and staring into space.

He started to convulse, and just as it started to look like he might have a heart attack or something, his body suddenly relaxed, and Donal let out a small cry.

“Agh!”

Donal’s breathing, whilst still hard, slowed a little, and his eyes gradually focused on Avery, standing by him. “How long?” he asked, slightly anxiously.

“How long?”

“Dude! What the heck happened? You were freaking out for about a minute, forty-five seconds!”

Donal’s breathing slowed to normal, and he realized that he was lying on the floor. He stood up slowly, and sat back on his bed.

“That’s not too long,” he said absently, rubbing his head, still bewildered.

“Not too long for what?” Avery followed suit and sat on the bed next to Donal. “What’s going on?”

Donal’s senses returned and he realized Avery did not have a clue as to what had happened. He sighed, nodded his head, and started to explain.

“You know how my family are Seers right? My grandfather and father are, and it seems that I will become one too. You know how I was away from school for a while last year? Well during that time I had my first Seeing, or vision as most people would call it.” He swallowed at the memory of that first Seeing.

“I’ve had a couple since, but it’s always been the same as the first one. Except this one, and one before the ball were different. I didn’t understand it then, but it makes so much sense now…if only I had known, if only I had realized before the ball.

“Ethan wouldn’t have died during our stunt. He might still have died anyway, that’s true, but at least I wouldn’t have felt responsible for that. Avery, I knew he would die, I just didn’t realize that I knew until afterwards.” Donal ran a hand through his hair, and sighed.

Avery just shook his head dumbly, trying to understand everything Donal was telling him.

“Seer? Okay,” he said. “You knew Ethan would die? What was the Seeing like?”

Okay, it was a dumb question. Why on earth would Donal want to remember it so vividly that he would be able to explain it?

There was always that off chance, though…

Donal knew Ethan would die? What else does he have knowledge of? And what was this one?

Avery sighed. Why did things always have to be so complicated?


The door to the common room was already open when the small first year approached. It was a careless blessing given to her by some foolish student before her. Her time in the dungeons had left her unawares of the password changes.

Her long black hair lay limp across her forehead, hardly more than a mess of tangles. Dark circles hung like decorations under her steel eyes and her clothes were disheveled. Her legs were ready to give way at any moment. The brightly colored couches made quite the contrast to the small pale girl, and held an appealing glow to the weary child.

She moved slowly past the other students and began the long climb to the dorms.

Upstairs, Vivienne Moor tumbled sleepily out of her dorm, having slept much later than normally. She brushed messy hair out of her face, threw on some robes, and hurried out of the dorm door towards breakfast. A moment later she stopped cold in her tracks, staring.

“Aiko?” Her voice trembled slightly and her fists automatically clenched.

Flashes of memories flew through Vivienne’s head, all of them horrible. The Ball, Prince, death, Avery flying through a window, Ethan falling dead into the hall…and then there was Aiko, wielding her wand for Him in the midst of it…

More memories hit her too, of a timid Aiko agreeing to be her partner in DADA, of Aiko at the Ball before the awful things happened, joking about being part of the misfits club…

Confused, Vivi stayed posed on the stairs, looking down.

“Aiko, ya look a mess,” she commented slowly, biting her lip, but otherwise not moving.

Aiko could barely bring herself to raise her eyes from the step in front of her—though she managed, with difficulty. If Vivi was going to punch her, which her clenched fists hinted, or denounce their somewhat rocky friendship, which recent events entitled Vivi too, Aiko was not going to go down face hidden.

“I feel every bit as tired as you look,” she mumbled, and her knees trembled dangerously at the remembrance. She resisted the urge to collapse there on the stairs. It was harder still to look the other girl in the eyes, and she settled at gazing politely on the tip of Vivi’s nose. Her tongue grasped for a subject—any subject—that could draw a conversation. Being forced into a dungeon left much to be desired, and the stiff Headmistress was not a conversationalist.

“Are you sleeping all right?” she blurted out stupidly. “Because if you aren’t I’m sure you could find a sleeping medication at the hospital wing. You need sleep you know.”

Aiko trailed off, embarrassed by her ramblings. “I’m sorry for…everything.”

Emotions whirled through Vivi’s head. She wanted to just run down and punch Aiko, knock her clear off of her feet. She wanted to say it was okay, wanted to hug her, wanted to pretend nothing had happened, wanted to run away…

Instead she shrugged off Aiko’s worthless comments about sleep, instead focusing on the main point. Almost coldly she looked down, though a small flicker of doubt danced in her eyes.

“You should be,” she said, a sudden picture of Avery running through her mind. It was a good thing he wasn’t here, he might kill Aiko.

“And I want an explanation. But ya ought to lay down first. Come on up.” She disappeared back into the dorm, having decided that breakfast could wait. This was more important.

Aiko nodded submissively and followed her to the dorms above. Never before had the prospect of lying down sounded so inviting. But Vivi’s semi-cold stare kept her eyes wide open, even as she rested on the magic improved comfortable bed.

“What do you want to know?” she asked her tone polite. Every ounce of apprehension was well hidden beneath years of manners.

Vivi considered for a moment before speaking, but finally decided that she could not narrow the topic down to anything specific.

“I wanna know everything,” she said finally, staring once more at Aiko. “I wanna know why ya did all of that stuff, I wanna know why ya attacked Hogwarts, why ya hurt Avery, but most of all I wanna know how ya could ever help Prince. How could you help him kill?” she gulped, but continued, feeling that she needed to finish.

“Ya know don’t ya? Ya were there, so o’course ya know. He…he…and ya served him! Ya served Prince! And I need some reasons why I shouldn’t jus’ throw you out of a window right now.” It was an accusation wrapped up with a threat wrapped up with a plea for something that made sense. Behind her angry demeanor Vivi simply felt betrayed, and that was something she could not easily forget.

Aiko’s arms shook as she propped herself up on the bed to face the other girl. Vivi had lost trust in Aiko, and there was no point in telling her story if it wasn’t going to be believed. So Aiko looked Vivi straight in the eyes and began.

“I was weak,” she started. “That was the start of it. I was weak and afraid and every bit of a coward as I could have been. Everyone knew it. He knew it. So when he chose his servants, he knew I’d obey. So I was called.

Each of us served a purpose for him, like challenges almost. Or sick jokes. Serenity, she was his challenge. She was powerful and he wanted to capture that power. Alex was cruel and obeyed gladly. And he was gifted. Lys was always a rebel. If she was in trouble it was no new thing. And me…he likes to see people afraid. And I was.”

Aiko took a deep breath to steady her nerves. Her heart beat wildly in her chest but she kept on. “He wanted us to find the items of the houses, a watch for Hufflepuff. Once he had all four he could have taken over the school easily. He gave us free reign to do whatever we wanted…attacking students, slashing portraits…burning the common room.”

“I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong for ages, I think I found out a week before he came back. It was like being in a dream, where you knew who you were but you couldn’t control yourself. And control didn’t matter because it wasn’t real. It wasn’t really happening.”

Her voice caught in her throat and she closed her eyes. “It was like going crazy. I thought I was crazy, and sometimes I couldn’t figure out what was real and what wasn’t. And once I figured it out…I hid. It was stupid of me, but I didn’t go to the Headmistress and tell her Prince was coming back. I never thought he’d hurt anyone…”

Aiko brought her legs to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.

“The night of the ball, once it had started, I had full control. I didn’t want to see anyone hurt, but I was too afraid of getting hurt myself. The things Prince had threatened, the things Prince had done. You can’t imagine. I threw Avery out the window as a compromise: I wouldn’t be killed, but neither would he. And when he came back, I snapped. I wouldn’t hurt him again, but I came so close…I had a wand at his throat.”

Aiko opened her eyes at last and searched Vivi’s face for a reaction. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone but I did. You have no reason to not want to throw me out of the window.”

Aiko lowered her head again. It was up to Vivi.

Stormy grey eyes searched Aiko’s face, looking for a clue to the truth. The story, or explanation made so much sense, it fixed the picture. Aiko could not help it. Far away expositions echoed in Vivienne’s ears as she struggled with the urge to stay mad, to disbelieve.

In a sudden unexpected movement she sat down next to Aiko and hugged her, whispering softly, “It must o’ been awful.”

So that was it. The decision was made. Vivienne could never hate another person for sins out of their control. Prince was powerful, far too powerful to resist. If Serenity, Ravenclaw’s angel, submitted, how then could soft-spoken, well-mannered, first year Aiko have ever stood a chance?

The things Prince had threatened, the things Prince had done. You can’t imagine.

Vivienne could imagine though, and as torture was her worst fear, she could understand. She would have been as vulnerable, she would have obeyed. She might have thrown Avery out of a window, and worse, she might not have had the strength to walk away in the end as Aiko did.

Aiko stiffened for a moment, unable to believe it. Unable to understand it. After all the first year had done, all the harm she had caused…she was being forgiven? She hugged Vivi back quickly and only barely managed to squeak out the words, “Lets go have breakfast than, shall we?” before dissolving into a puddle of overwhelmed tears.

Unsurprised, Vivi just stayed next to Aiko, wiping her own eyes. She was unable to admit how much she had missed Aiko, despite all of what she had done. Sniffing slightly Vivi said, “Gosh Aiko, we must look silly, sitting here soakin’ the dorm. Tell ya what though, let’s have the house-elves bring breakfast up…I don’t wanna brave the Great Hall this morning.”

She also wasn’t sure Aiko was ready to face Avery yet; one hard confession a day was plenty. And as both of them were red eyed and sloppy looking there was really no reason to go where the rest of the school could see them.

Aiko stared at the floor again, all traces of amusement gone from her delicate features. She suddenly remembered what complications she had set herself up for. As Vivi had suggested, going to the hall would not be wise decision, though Aiko was more worried about the schools population as a whole. And there was one last thing…

“Why don’t you call the house elves?” she said, toying with the soft fabric of the sheets. “I kind of hurt one of them once when I was looking for the watch.”

Aiko had told Vivi the night of the ball about the house elves polite hate towards her, though now she was safe enough to share the entire reason. “I’m gonna go take a shower while we wait.”

Aiko suddenly smiled. A shower meant getting the grime that had been painted onto her skin washed down the drain. “Just order anything, alright? I’m starved!”

Throwing a last timid smile in the direction of her friend she disappeared behind the large oak doors of the bathroom.

“Yah, I just remembered that.” Vivi said, remembering the conversation during the Ball. Curiously she wondered what exactly Aiko had done to the house-elf, decided that for once she didn’t want to know, and pulled out some parchment. Carefully she began to write down the order, trying to think of all kinds of food as she wasn’t really sure what Aiko liked.

Vivi finished writing and bounded down the stairs to the commonroom fire. She deftly tapped the paper with her wand, commanding “Kitchens,” before dropping it into the fire. With a whoosh it disappeared and she sat down to wait for the food.

Minutes later, Misty, clumsy though she was, bounded up the stairs with a laden tray of delicious things to eat. She had not been told who had sent the order, in fear of Misty talking to them, starting a conversation, or accidentally cursing them. She tripped slightly as she entered the common room, but managed to save the large pitcher of pumpkin juice.

“Here you are miss” She said, in such a quiet whisper she doubted whether the girl had heard her. But that, of course, was the House Elf’s duty, never to be seen, heard or mentioned by a Wizard. She laid the tray carefully down on a small round side table. Taking one last frightened look at the young witch, afraid that she would say something to her, she ran away into the common room and through the fire to the Kitchens. Safe once again, where no Wizard could see her.

Vivienne smiled, watching as the house elf vanished out of the door. “Cute things, aren’t they?” she commented, jumping when the portrait beside her, a grumpy old man in a high backed chair, took it upon himself to answer.

“Yeah, sure they are, until they attack you with orange cleaner and water.” He grimaced, shot Vivi a disgusted look, and strode out of the picture.

“Touchy, touchy,” Vivi said as she began to lay out the food from its precarious resting place on the tray. “Now, Aiko just needs ta come…” she trailed off, looking towards the stairs, and resolving to hold off eating until her friend reappeared.

Aiko slipped out of the bathroom quietly, wrapped in a deep red robe. Her dark hair lay flat against her face and neck and her skin was flushed from the heat. But she was clean.

She laughed outright when she saw the meals that had been prepared for her and Vivi’s feast. “Mmmm….”she said and hopped onto the bed. “Looks great…”

She smiled and picked up a fork.

Vivi grinned, nodding in agreement. The food looked absolutely delicious, and she was hungry. Taking a sip of pumpkin juice she asked, “Does the Headmistress believe that ya didn’t have control over what ya did?”

Blushing, Vivi realized that perhaps Aiko wasn’t really comfortable with the subject. Yet nothing else had really been going on at Hogwarts, so it was hard not to talk about what had happened.

“If she thinks we’re innocent, she certainly had a funny way of showing it,” Aiko said, a hint of bitterness escaping. “But she’s fair. She won’t give us any punishment she doesn’t believe we deserve.”

A sour taste filled Aiko’s mouth at the remembrance. She knew that if she tried to eat anything now, her stomach would reject it violently.

“On second thought, I think I’ll just head to bed,” she said, backing away from the sweet smelling foods. Already she could feel her insides squirm. “You can save the leftovers when you’re finished though. I may be hungry when I wake up.”

Aiko stretched herself across the far corners bed. Now that she was tucked into a soft bed she didn’t want to move, and barely managed to draw the curtains before she fell asleep.

Vivi sighed, realizing her mistake in bringing the topic up, and laid down her fork. Somehow she wasn’t quite as hungry now.

I suppose it’ll take a while for Aiko to be normal again…though she can’t be like she was before, can she? None of us can.

Steering her mind away from those morbid thoughts, Vivi picked up two pieces of toast and headed for a walk, needing to get some fresh air.


Donal sat in the second year dorm, his head in his hands, unable to stop silently crying, the tears rolling down his cheeks and dripping onto his bedclothes. He was still shocked by the events that had happened at the ball. So many people had been injured and six of the Wrightwards boys had been killed, including Ethan.

Oh Ethan.

If Ethan had not been off sneaking around the castle with Donal and Avery, he would still probably be alive. He would have not been on his own when Prince turned up, and maybe he would have survived if they had all been in the Great Hall where they should have been.

He, Donal Talmorra, was responsible for that: for the death of someone whom he had not known long, but liked and thought of as a friend. He was responsible.

And the Seeings had been flooding his brain for the last couple of days. Not as strong or as vivid at first, but still the same. The darkness would consume everything. And it had begun, with Ethan. Was Avery at risk? For that matter, any of his friends? Agatha or Brian? The professors? There were too many strands in the life threads, all tangled too tightly together to make sense out of them, but still he tried following one strand, only to loose it, then another, and another…

He lay back on his bed, aware that another Seeing would happen soon. He had gotten used to the warning signs that often precluded a vision now, so it shook him less. But why had he had no warning of Prince’s attack? Why did he get visions of distant events, but not of ones happening sooner? He had so many questions! It made his head spin.

He sat up again, as a vision began, having learned that lying down usually made him feel rather queasy afterwards.

Avery entered his room, walking as slowly as possible to prolong studying as much as possible.

He noticed Donal, sitting on the bed, head in his hands. “Dude, you alright?” he asked cautiously, walking over to him.

This whole school is messed up.

Donal was starting to shake a little as Avery approached, beads of sweat starting to form on his forehead. He swallowed hard, rocking slightly, not really aware of Avery’s approach.

Donal started to breath hard, panting, his mouth open slightly, and licked his dry lips. A look of fear was on his face, his hands pressed hard against his eyes.

”No. I don’t want to see it again,” he murmured, “Not again. No. No. Agh!”

Avery backed away from the boy, thinking of all the reasons why Donal might be convulsing.

Seizure? Possibly, but not likely. He’s never done that before.

There weren’t many more possibilities he could think of, but he was worried all the same.

“Donal,” he breathed, kneeling down beside the boy.

Donal’s hands dropped to his sides, and his eyes were wide with fear, but unseeing. His jaw dropped open and a tiny drop of spittle dribbled down his chin. His body went rigid, his breathing labored. He overbalanced and landed on the floor, still totally stiff, and staring into space.

He started to convulse, and just as it started to look like he might have a heart attack or something, his body suddenly relaxed, and Donal let out a small cry.

“Agh!”

Donal’s breathing, whilst still hard, slowed a little, and his eyes gradually focused on Avery, standing by him. “How long?” he asked, slightly anxiously.

“How long?”

“Dude! What the heck happened? You were freaking out for about a minute, forty-five seconds!”

Donal’s breathing slowed to normal, and he realized that he was lying on the floor. He stood up slowly, and sat back on his bed.

“That’s not too long,” he said absently, rubbing his head, still bewildered.

“Not too long for what?” Avery followed suit and sat on the bed next to Donal. “What’s going on?”

Donal’s senses returned and he realized Avery did not have a clue as to what had happened. He sighed, nodded his head, and started to explain.

“You know how my family are Seers right? My grandfather and father are, and it seems that I will become one too. You know how I was away from school for a while last year? Well during that time I had my first Seeing, or vision as most people would call it.” He swallowed at the memory of that first Seeing.

“I’ve had a couple since, but it’s always been the same as the first one. Except this one, and one before the ball were different. I didn’t understand it then, but it makes so much sense now…if only I had known, if only I had realized before the ball.

“Ethan wouldn’t have died during our stunt. He might still have died anyway, that’s true, but at least I wouldn’t have felt responsible for that. Avery, I knew he would die, I just didn’t realize that I knew until afterwards.” Donal ran a hand through his hair, and sighed.

Avery just shook his head dumbly, trying to understand everything Donal was telling him.

“Seer? Okay,” he said. “You knew Ethan would die? What was the Seeing like?”

Okay, it was a dumb question. Why on earth would Donal want to remember it so vividly that he would be able to explain it?

There was always that off chance, though…

Donal knew Ethan would die? What else does he have knowledge of? And what was this one?

Avery sighed. Why did things always have to be so complicated?

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