Notes: Thanks to Olly for helping me kill people.
The butterbeer bottle dangled from her fingertips. The intriguing mixture of flat butterbeer, gin and orange juice she had concocted earlier was disgusting, but it gave her that buzz she needed. Any other witch simply would of conjured a good drink instead of ransacking the sparse kitchen, but she possessed a rare and annoying problem: everything she conjured tasted like salmon. Bottle of Scotch? Salmon. Chocolate? Salmon. In a bit of reckless experimentation, she had licked one of her conjured pencils and discovered what salmon in a light lead sauce tasted like.
Ironically, a clap of thunder sounded as Ginny yelled her name from the bottom of the stairs. "I'm doomed, you say?" She muttered at the window, before shouting back. "I'm coming, damnit!" Slowly, Mahogany put down the Muggle newspaper she had been reading and grabbed her wand from the table. Rolling off the uncomfortable bed, she trudged downstairs to the Order meeting with bottle and wand in hand.
The Order had already gathered in the dim meeting room as she walked in. Some chairs remained empty, but their usual occupants were out on assignment, not reading Muggle news in their chambers. Ignoring the disapproving stares, she flippantly addressed the wizened wizard at the head of the table. "Sorry I'm late, Moods. What's happening?"
Mad-Eye Moody stiffened and growled back at her. "Do not call me 'Moods' and do not be late to a meeting again."
"How about Moodsy?"
Tonks and Ginny supressed giggles as Mahogany dropped into her chair. Refusing to acknowledge his new nickname, Moody began the meeting. His low, rough voice put her into a daze, although she did not need to listen anyway. It was merely a summary of a small fight the night before, in which some masked pure-blood fanatics decided that torturing Muggles by floating them through glass windows was a brilliant ideas. Luckily, she had been there to sort the whole thing out along with Ginny and Hermione, and was even able to kick one of the Muggle assailants through a window. No one else was amused.
Turning her head away from Moody, her eyes roved over each of the hardened faces of her companions. The tempermental light from the fireplace cast them all in an unearthly glow, softening their features and washing away the sadness that lurked in their visages. The frail but steady McGonagall sat by Moody's right side, listening attentively. Despite her age, she stayed at Hogwarts, working faithfully to carry on Dumbledore's work. Next to her was Molly Weasley, whose bright red hair was marred with glistening silver strands. She clutched her husband's hand, afraid to let go while Arthur simply rested his other arm over her worn shoulders. Then there was Fred, whose spirit had died along with his brother and Angelina. Ginny's arm was looped through his as she nodded along with Moody's words. Like Mahogany, Ron did not stare at Moody, but at Harry and Hermione across the table. The inseperable three were breaking apart as Ron became more consumed by self-doubt and jealousy each day and Harry paid more attention to the dead than the living. Neville and a blue-haired Tonks appeared calm and reserved as they listened, faint emotion showing on their pale faces. The last member sat by on Moody's left, and even the dim light could not erase the bitterness etched into him. Snape's black eyes glittered coldly, having seen everything before.
She was on the outside looking in. Each person at the table was so wrapped up in their personal horrors she was unable to touch. It was as if she was a ghost, and if she tried to reach out and feel their warm skin, her hand would sink right through. The glass spheres on the mantle were closer to the group than she was, and they were only reminders of those who had been killed in service to the Order. She remembered Harry talking to them late one night when she had snuck out of her room for a drink. It had sent chills down her spine, and she could of sworn that someone answered back.
"...and we might of been able to find out who he was if Mahogany wouldn't have foolishly kicked him through that window."
"What?" Mahogany's voice cut through the dreamy haze of the room, startling everyone, including herself. A bit too defensive, she stood up abruptly and turned on Hermione. "He could of killed that woman."
Hermione's cheeks turned a bit pink, but she replied strongly. "You could have at least used your wand instead of resorting to Muggle fighting, stunned him so he couldn't get away."
"I was disarmed, and I didn't have time to grab my wand! I had to react fast, so I kicked him, and thanks to me, that woman is still alive. God bless resorting to Muggle fighting!" Her voice was steadily rising and filling the ears of everyone in the room. "Besides, I don't like waving my wand about yelling 'stupefy!' in close quarters with many people, because I don't want to stun the wrong person!" As Mahogany ranted, she waved her long arms about madly, holding the bottle and her wand. Accidentally, a shot of red light hit the wall on "stupefy". "Except that damn wall."
The stunning spell might as well have affected the entire Order, they were all silent momentarily. Finally, Moody spoke in his usual deep rumble. "You have a lot to learn, girl. First thing ought to be learning how to control yourself."
Taking a giant swig of her drink, she let the empty bottle drop and shatter on the ground. "Yes, I know." Her quiet tone was in stark contrast with the clatter of breaking glass. Spinning on her toe, she walked out the door, unable to stand the emotions. Blindly, she stumbled up the stairs to her tiny room and closed the door. "Oh yes, behaving like a mercurial teenager is excellent. Bravo. They'll all respect me now." Mahogany snatched her Invisibility Cloak from the hook on the back of the door, and Disapparated from 12 Grimmauld Place with a tiny sigh.
The violent rain and wind had driven everyone else inside, leaving Mahogany to walk through Hogsmeade alone. Clutching the Invisibility Cloak around her for dear life, she wandered aimlessly. Her mind was on fire, analyzing her past one more time. First of all, joining the Order of the Phoenix was possibly the stupidest move she had ever made.
Three years ago, she had been working in the Ministry of Magic in the Muggle Relations office, patiently dealing with Muggle parents who could not come to terms with the fact that their son or daughter could turn people in toads with enough training. Unpopular at the Ministry because of her refusal to wear cumbersome wizarding robes and standoffish manner, she kept to herself and lived alone in a small apartment in London.
When Dumbledore approached her, offering her another, more dangerous job, she accepted. Perhaps it was her respect for Dumbledore and her curiosity that compelled Mahogany to accept a place in the Order of the Phoenix. There was also a hint of desperation in his words. Quickly, she learned that an attack on a shop in Hogsmeade had decimated the ranks.
Mahogany shook her head as she looked up and realized what she had unconsciously stopped in front of. Lightly she traced the address on the broken door of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. Three years before, a battle took place within it's walls and the result destroyed the Order of the Phoenix. Molly Weasley forbade anyone to speak of it, but four shining orbs on the mantle commemorated Angelina Johnson, Seamus Finnigan, George and Percy Weasley. Memorials for Kingsley Shackebolt, Mundugus Fletcher, Remus Lupin and Albus Dumbledore solemnly surrounded them now, too.
Observing their pain, she knew that becoming close to anyone would ultimately be her downfall. The day she cast her lot with the Order, she vowed to stay detached. The other members did not question this, choosing to ignore her for the most part. Mahogany was not a tragic hero, a faithful friend or a wise leader. She was just a soldier.
An oddly familiar shriek of delight snapped her out of her reverie. Pressing the door open, she was instantly drawn to a light seeping through a trapdoor in the charred wooden floor. Using her bitten nails, she pried it open and gritted her teeth at the scene in front of her.
Sibyll Trelawney rocked back and forth on the floor, eyes blank and unblinking. She seemed to talking to someone or something, murmuring under her breath wildly. Without a second thought, Mahogany dropped down, let the Invisibility Cloak fall to her feet, and rushed to her aid.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..." Repeating words she had spoken twenty years before, Sibyll did not react to Mahogany's touch or questions. The prophecy was not new to her, Dumbledore had told her upon induction into the Order.
As if jerked by an invisible string, Sibyll sat up and grabbed Mahogany's shoulders. Her voice was a harsh whisper, and she shook Mahogany violently with every word. "She will rise up from the unknown with power.... the boy will defeat Him, but the soldier carries the knowledge.. she will destroy them all and bring the Phoenix to the water-"
"Crucio!" Sibyll screamed in pain and fell forward into Mahogany's lap. Slowly her body stopped shaking as life slipped away. The killer laughed from the shadows, the sound matching the shriek Mahogany had heard before. Bellatrix Lestrange and her protege stepped into the light, and the other woman raised her wand to attack. Mahogany's eyes grew wide with fear as she Disapparated, leaving Luna's stunning spell to hit the ground harmlessly.