Violent Delights

Chapter 1

Sahara watched with detachment as her mother directed her things into her trunk, making short, quick moves with her wand. Her mother Evelyn was nothing if not methodical, but seeing her lingerie float patiently in mid-air, waiting for its turn to fold itself nicely in the carved trunk was a bit much to take, even for a "sullen" teen like Sahara. She almost laughed at herself for adopting the word her mother and grandmother used to describe her, "sullen", as if she were nothing more than a regular teenager just being a little difficult. As if she had the same mundane problems the Muggles did, like the latest "technology", or whatever else they occupied their time with. She didn't care much.

"Done," Evelyn chirped, her smile never reaching her icy grey eyes, which Sahara had so inappropriately inherited. Named after a notoriously warm place, she had a tendency to burn with her icy personality more than anything else. But her father, Claudius, had chosen the name in a happier time, when his word carried more weight with Sahara's mother. Evelyn made a swift gesture with her wand, making the top of the trunk fall briskly, almost slicing a soft silk scarlett-and-gold scarf which she of course hated for not being silver and emerald.

Left alone to get ready for her last first day at Hogwarts, Sahara took the room in, looking at it as if to check that she wasn't forgetting anything. She sat in front of the mirror, breathing deep, trying to let go of the anger at everyone in her life despising her still, six years later, for being sorted into Gryffindor. Almost everyone. Her sweet father had never been anything less than tender to her.

She mechanically ran a brush through her hair, shining dark blonde in waves down her back. Sahara let a puff of air escape her lips out of frustration as she remembered, yet again, that she could be neither sad nor happy about finally reaching the last year at Hogwarts. She was sure to have most other students at her fingertips - she was talented, rich, beautiful and coming from an influential family - but her skin crawled with disgust as she thought of the crass stupidity that could sometimes be found in the halls of Hogwarts.

Alas, it was time to go. The family car, a black limousine that could hardly be called discrete, and truly it was a miracle that Muggles didn't realize it wasn't a regular old car, had already been pulled up to the front entrance. It awaited her like a gilded cage at the end of a dozen white marble steps. Sahara had already said a formal, proper goodbye to her mother and grandmother, but was trying to stall, to give her father another chance to venture out of his study. It was a lot to ask, these days, as he wasn't quite himself, but she couldn't keep herself from hoping.

She was dragging her feet, making odd noises and trying to somehow draw attention. But nothing seemed to shake the eerie silence of the Fairbanks Manor. She closed the door behind her and started down the steps, slowly, heartlessly.

"Sahara!" she suddenly heard a desperate, panting voice. Her father emerged from the garden, it appeared, disheveled as he tended to be as of late. "My sweet, are you leaving already?" he asked, his eyes wide open as if in a panic.

"The Hogwarts Express awaits," she replied with a half-smile. Her dad enveloped her in a real, loving hug. It dawned on her that he seemed shorter somehow, and definitely thinner, and was that grey in his hair? Claudius released his daughter from the embrace, but kept hold of her hand, squeezing her long, white fingers.

"You will be careful, won't you now?" he begged. "These things, they have nothing to do with us. You... your blood is... all wizard. Old wizarding family. Please stay out of it, my sweet," he added.

Sahara was flabbergasted. Rumours had been flying of course about attacks on Muggleborns. About people starting to whisper that the time of peace was coming to an end. Her father had been acting odd for a while, but she had never realized that the reason for it might be that he knew more about those attacks than he let on. So they had indeed not been random acts of violence? Was someone truly targetting Muggle-born wizards and witches? In this day and age? All that and more ran through her head in what seemed like a second. But all she could say was, despite herself,

"Yes, father."