Notes: I'm well aware I'm on crack, thanks.
"Moony, you always treat me like a child. Try to whip me."
"I wouldn't dare."
"Damn right you wouldn't."
Another lazy voice joined what she presumed was Sirius's. "I'd pay Galleons to see that match." It was not an entirely unfamiliar voice, but the joke and easygoing manner was foreign. Weary muscles tensed, she crept towards the conversation.
Her hands clenched into tight fists and she sucked in a deep breath, gestures ingrained in her by years of fighting. She could not understand how to react to the being in front of her, and anything she was unable to grasp - even to the smallest degree - in a matter of seconds frustrated and disoriented her. The usual confident tone disappeared as she spoke, her raspy voice only evoked confusion. "Harry?"
The hero did not respond. Outlined in red by the living room's ever present fire, Harry simply moved past her and gestured to an invisible audience. His normally brilliant green eyes were now cast in a silver tint, as they watched some private dream. "Sirius'd kill me before I could utter a word." Lupin's voice rose from the throat of Harry Potter.
"He can't hear you." Mahogany whipped her head to the other side of the room, and raised an eyebrow at the speaker lying lazily on the couch. Ron didn't flinch. He just watched his friend impassively, shadows guarding his pale face.
"What's wrong with him? Lupin... and was that Sirius before? What the hell-" The words flew out of Mahogany's inquisitive mouth, as her fists unfurled slowly.
"He tends to focus on Lupin, Sirius and James, but I've heard him talk as Dumbledore, and his mother, which is rather disturbing." Ron sighed and folded his arms over his chest before continuing on in a dull manner. "I wouldn't touch him, he can get a bit wild."
She shook her head, trying to shake the puzzle pieces into their proper place and let her see the picture. "Why."
Mahogany recieved a dismissive shrug in response. "Harry's never been able to deal with death. After Lupin and Dumbledore, he locked himself away in Dumbledore's room. Few days later, he comes out, refusing to talk about what he had been doing, but the room looked like Buckbeak had done the decorating blindfolded." Ron laughed bitterly and it was easily the most eerie sound to wander through Grimmauld Place that busy night. He didn't seem to care. "I come downstairs late one night and find him rampaging about the house, cursing at the Black family china in Sirius's voice."
The voice of James Potter issued faintly from the corner, something about Snape and fur. Mahogany glanced from Harry's troubled face to Ron's tired one and bit her lip, only to elicit pain from the bloody pricks. As she took an accusatory step towards the man on the couch, one thing became disturbingly clear. "And you just sit down here watching him, not even trying to help?"
Finally Ron raised his head to look at her with boredom. "Help how?" It was obvious that he didn't understand Harry's issue any better than she did, making helping incredibly difficult. "No one knows about this," Ron jerked his head in Harry's direction, "not even him. He fights fine, why make a big fuss about a little more insanity?"
It felt so odd to be forced into the caring, sensible role twice in one night when she was usually accused of being rash and immature. "Your best friend is standing in the corner talking as dead people."
"We haven't been friendly in awhile."
"Christ, James, I expect lectures from Moony but not from you! When did you turn fifty?" Sirius's harsh voice startled them both and shoved them towards the edge.
"Are you that bloody jealous of him? What, not getting enough attention, Robin? Why don't you just throw Batman down a well and be done with it?" Mahogany snapped, disgusted by this display.
"Oh, and you're perfectly content to just sit back and take orders from others, are you?" With equal force, Ron lashed back at her and jumped off the couch with one fluid motion. "It doesn't matter. He'll die or You-Know-Who will, and then I won't have to put up with this hell any more."
It was Hell. Mahogany still blindly searched for bits to the puzzle in her mind, but the picture was already twisted and repulsive. The images of Harry's lips moving, his bizarre expression, Ron's blank visage - they all danced surreally in her mind, adding to the confusion that was her world. Speechless for once, she turned to stare at Harry once more.
"Oh, come on Prongs, it was funny and you know it. You couldn't find a more amusing expression even if I danced in front of Moony wearing a tea cozy."
Her trunks floated magically ahead of her, bobbing in the air while Mahogany trained her thin wand on them and followed Mrs. Weasley. Only after the recent deaths had she given into the demand of Moody that she give up her small apartment to live there. As they climbed to her room, allexcept for the stairs creaking under their feet. Mrs. Weasley found it harder to cry with teeth clenched, and Mahogany had nothing to say, comforting or otherwise.
She had been in the Order for over a year now, but she had never penetrated the bonds that seemed to hold the other members together. The death of Remus Lupin and Dumbledore barely scratched her hardened exterior compared to the rest, who walked about in a shattered state.
Mildly intrigued by the half-closed, battered wooden door at the top of the stairs, she glanced into the room and was instantly drawn to what met her wandering eyes. Papers and broken glass mingled with large scorch marks on every available surface, and a broken table lay on it's side in the corner of the room. A hurried hand had scrawled all over one wall in black ink, the names Sirius, Lupin, Dumbledore and their murderer's, Luna, standing out boldly in the center. However, most striking was the silvery substance that covered everything, granting the room an unearthly sheen.
The door closed in her face, and Mrs. Weasley gave her a reproachful and sorrowful look before continuing down the hall. Instantly, Mahogany knew who's room it had been. She had heard worried whispers for days that Harry had locked himself in Dumbledore's quarters, refusing to speak or acknowledge a soul. The popular theory was that he was attempting to find a way to destroy the Death Eaters once and for all, and the writing verified that. Although Harry appeared to have come to his senses and out of the room, Mahogany did not see any signs of relief on Mrs. Weasley's face.
Her guide opened a door at the end of the hall, to a spacious, if Spartan, bedroom. Aware that this was the end of the line, Mahogany let her trunks drop gently onto the floor. Mrs. Weasley gestured to a neatly made bed and dresser, and spoke to her without a hint of warmth. "You will share a room with Ginny. Tell me if you need anything else."
Mahogany replied with a kind, blunt "thank you", directed at Mrs. Weasley's retreating back. Robotically, she dug into her things while her thoughts skipped over her new home and its inhabitants, analyzing it all like the outside observer Mahogany was.
Her thick leather boots thumped smartly against the pavement as she cleared a path for herself through the crowded street with a steely glare. Although it was around noon, she had just woken up after a restless sleep the night before. Mahogany had neglected to tell anyone about Harry by slipping away from the house as soon as she awoke, only stopping to mention to Ginny that she was going out. She needed to clear the fog that had invaded her head.
As usual, she was without a plan after passing the "get out of the asylum" stage. Tugging her battered leather jacket closer to her body against the harsh October wind, she ducked into a small shop and attempted to remain ignored while browsing through magazines. She had no such luck, as the bubbly and very pregnant cashier looked up from her book and called her out of the crowd of three.
"Hey - what's your name?"
"Eh?" Mahogany asked distantly, pulling a newspaper from the stack and digging in her pocket for loose Muggle change.
"I'm trying to find a name." The woman winked and held up her book, 1000 Fabulous Baby Names and Their Origins.
Raising an eyebrow, she paused then replied with her last name, "Kipling", preferring to keep her first name to herself. The cashier flipped through the book while Mahogany slapped the paper and necessary coins onto the grimy counter.
"Let's see... well, that's... interesting. Your name means cured salmon."
"No shit." The words slipped out of Mahogany's mouth before she could stop herself, and it was the cashier's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Blame the church. Bloody nuns." Mahogany was a little surprised at her own attitude, merely because she normally avoided talking to those she did not know, but she kept going. "As a matter of fact, blame Satan. Funny bloke with funny horns."
The cashier said nothing. Mahogany nodded at her, grabbed her paper and walked out the door. Even she would of admitted that her behaviour had been weird. It was almost as if someone had taken control of her mouth, perhaps a small, drunken child.
She stopped as she passed The Leaky Cauldron, the idea of a drink rather appealing. Vodka was better than fresh air for clearing one's head, or at least, filling it with new ideas. Slipping through the door, she headed towards the bar, before veering off course and stepping through the back door into the alley. Puzzled, she turned her head back towards the building, quite confused as to what she just did.
As if on it's own accord, her hand pulled her wand out and tapped the appropriate brick on the wall, opening the gateway to Diagon Alley. A sharp pain shot through her head, and Mahogany winced and closed her eyes briefly, allowing herself to stumble blindly down the street. Upon opening her eyes, she found herself facing down Knockturn Alley.
A Muggle-loving girl wearing a long black trenchcoat, thick boots and ragged jeans, holding a Muggle newspaper was not the sort of patron Knockturn Alley wanted. The few wizards on the street gave her a hostile, suspicious glare as she stood there. Mahogany knew that walking down the alley in these times was akin to suicide, and she disliked coming near it unless she had a mission. Yet she still walked down the alley into the darkness, her feet carrying her quickly towards an unknown destination. It was not the glory of free will.
A brilliant red door stood out in the black, swaying in her vision and beckoning her within. She obeyed and tossed it open to a bare, dim room. "What the bloody-"
A voice rang out in the gloom. "Stupefy!" Mahogany's words were cut short as she was thrown against the doorframe by the spell. Unconscious, her body crumbled pitifully to the dirty floor.