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Dancing with Death  PV 

Curfew was approaching, and the first year ambled through the corridor on her way to the Ravenclaw dorm rooms. Gnawing on her lip, the girl clutched her bag to her chest, which contained notes and drawings of her investigations into the infamous masked figure. She felt a bit foolish, being so obsessed with him. She had tracked down most every rumour of him to the source, and had an impromptu meeting with those she knew had been attacked by him.

That meeting had not gone well. A student had brought up Voldemort, and Cecilia shivered at the thought. Her eyes moved furtively around the emptying hallway, anxiety blooming in her chest, as if the Dark Lord's ghost was watching her. Don't be silly, Cecilia. It's nothing. Don't be scared.

She berated her own nervous thoughts, strengthening her grasp on the bag as her pace picked up. It was dangerous to be out so late, but she had been so absorbed in her work that she lost track of time in the library. Dorian had left in a huff earlier, and she was still slightly bitter that he brought his anger out on her papers. He had said they couldn't plan the masked figure to death, but a plan was better than what she feared he and Eris would attempt.

They were all targets now. She didn't feel safe here, especially not in the hallways at night. If he wanted, he could silence her forever, and he'd do it without hesitating. She was never much of a fighter back home, but she was strong for her age. Spending days helping her father hammer away at steel in his forge tended to help with that. She only hoped she wouldn't have to face him alone, if at all.

Cecilia was no hero. She wasn't like Merlin, and she wasn't a superhero either. She was a kid. A scrawny 11-year-old who had bitten off more than she could chew with this entire event. The professors had to know something. They had to. Why they haven't said anything was beyond her. Students were starting to take things into their own hands, and Cecilia was afraid.

The back of her neck prickled. She whipped around to glare into the darkness, but there was nothing. Turning back around, she walked even faster, and it felt like this corridor was endless. The shadows stretched into infinity, and she definitely did not want to join them. 

Her mind kept flickering back to the masked figure, and she cursed under her breath. She had picked up a few words from her father and classmates, and she wasn't afraid to use them. Not anymore. There were no parents to stuff soap into her mouth, and there wasn't anyone around to overhear her anyways...

Or was there? She suddenly stopped in her tracks, closing her eyes for a brief moment. It was just her nerves, that's all. Opening them again, fear was getting the best of her. Paranoia was setting in. She's too young for this crap. Standing in the middle of the hallway, she raised her voice to barely above a whisper. Her wand remained in her robe, it'd be useless here. She didn't know any spells that could be used.

"...If you're here, show yourself. I'm- I'm not afraid of you."

She shuddered a bit, before raising her voice to a more audible level. "I'm not afraid of you, whoever you are. You don't scare me. You hide your face in the shadows, and you only strike when you have no fear of retaliation. Show yourself, coward."

She spat out the last word. Coward. That's what he was. She then scoffed to herself. She was rambling. There wasn't anyone here, she was being silly. Yet, it felt nice to voice her anger out to an empty room. "You aren't even here, aren't you? I'm just talking to myself... Do you ever talk to yourself? Do you ever wonder why you've led yourself down this path? Do you ever regret..?"

Cecilia rolled her eyes. She was definitely going crazy. She began to walk again, senses on overdrive.

Cecilia Moore | Ravenclaw Reporter | Year Two

STA: 5, AGL: 4, STR: 5, CTL: 6, AP: 5, ACC: 5

Dancing with Death  PV 

The masked figure had been waiting. Patience was not one of the Master's strongest virtues. He recalled this was one of the girls he burned in the trophy room not too long ago. Somehow she had decided to lead the charge of some student vigilante group in search of him. How little she knew. How foolish their quest would become. How painful the punishment would be for them all beyond what the school itself suffered. There was hope. She could stop her campaign now and be spared but that had not gone well the last time he sent a warning. Likely this leader had heard of the event. He would not be baited again. The masked figure and the Master would be mindful.

"Cecilia Moore." It was almost a whisper with how quiet he could speak in the empty, dark hallways. "Are you lost?"

It wasn't where she had spoken out, but he had been listening. The shadows played well when one wore all black including a mask. His exactly location wasn't revealed yet. She appeared terrified of even the idea he existed out here. The masked figure considered what to do about the leader of this group. Killing her outright seemed fair after the last outburst. Cut the head off the snake and it would die as well. Perhaps two injuries and a death would stop them. Perhaps the same would only add fuel to the fire and be more issue than it was worth. Master had not given any explicit commands yet.

"Don't be afraid." He said, his cold voice a bit louder this time.

She should be afraid.

A taunt from the Master was not uncommon. This wasn't an order but the masked figure was compelled to make sure his will was met. It was not a stretch to say she was already there though. He simply stepped forward at this point to show his location a few feet ahead in the hallway. Wand at his side, obvious from the silhouette, he stood and waited for what she would do next.

Dancing with Death  PV 

He was here. She should have known her hunch was correct, that he'd find her before she found him. He knew her name. His words chilled her to the core, and his appearance froze her movements, locking her in place. Her knuckles turned white from clutching onto the bag like a lifeline, her eyes as wide as a deer in the headlights.

It took her a moment to find her voice, green eyes boring into the figure of her nightmares. He looked like.. nothing. All black, and no skin to be seen. His mask made him faceless. She was absolutely terrified. He probably knew it, too.

"I.. I know what you did to Eris and Dorian. You tried to kill them. You could have killed them. Yet you didn't."

She took in a steely breath, forcing her body to relax, thawing out her legs and arms. Cocking her head to the side, her heart raced as she tried to.. understand. It was probably the dumbest thing she had ever decided to do, her desire to understand why he was doing what he was. 

"Neither of us are lost, not yet. And I'm not afraid."

That last bit was a lie. The first? She knew where she was, he knew where he was. But she had another meaning. He was capable of killing her, but she had a feeling he wouldn't if she played this twisted game the right way. And he could change, she hoped. She prayed she was right, that he was not yet lost to his madness. Her voice trembled, but she persisted. Her previous thought, that she wasn't a hero, was starting to fade. She'd be strong in front of this enemy, she'd show she was a capable foe.

"I have many questions, but I bet you know that. There's the who, the what. The why. The why's the big one, ain't it?"

She grew bolder as she spoke, anger slowly replacing her anxiety, but she still felt on the verge of a heart attack. 

"What's your goal? Is there a vendetta against us, against this school? From what I see, you attack indiscriminately," She prided herself on knowing that big word, "And yet you continue to hide in the shadows. I'm not afraid, but are you?"

She was pushing it, but she continued. She was a good person at heart, she had yet to be subjected to true evil in this world. She still believed that this boy could change. 


"You can't hide forever, you can fix this. Turn yourself in, and I'm sure your punishment won't be as bad compared to if you're caught. Don't- don't do something even worse, something that you'll regret."

Was what she was saying even getting to him? Was she going to be the one to regret this? She didn't know anything beyond what she saw before him, and what she saw was simply a crazed boy. She had no idea how bad it really was. One could only hope she'd live long enough to find out.

Cecilia Moore | Ravenclaw Reporter | Year Two

STA: 5, AGL: 4, STR: 5, CTL: 6, AP: 5, ACC: 5

Dancing with Death  PV 

A certain sense of anonymity pleased the Master. This girl was so ignorant to who she spoke with that she hoped to reason with the boy. The masked figure simply listened and waited. Her questions brought a smile below the faceless mask. A smile his current adversary would not see through the mask. This bravery would normally be considered a Gryffindor-like feat and here she was as a Ravenclaw doing the opposite of their stereotype. She was calling a dark figure who almost killed her friends a coward. She was alone in the dark without help. The masked figure could do little more than shake his head when her series of questions were finished.

"You can not save me." He said firmly, feeling the pain of the truth. "You wish to know the truth. I have a little bit of truth."

The masked figure held out his wandless free hand towards Cecilia. A glove covered it as well to fully hide who it could possibly be. Darkness hid everything about him besides that he was short, obviously a student of some kind. Master wanted her to understand and to make sure she feared them. If she would remain silent out of fear that was victory better than killing her. If she could remain silent.

"Come with me." He offered in a somehow more neutral and friendly tone. "If you want facts rather than violence I will show you. If you truly wish violence they will find your body in the Great Hall tomorrow morning. Am I clear?"

Remember. If she shows too much resistance I want her dead.

Master was much more clear recently. All he could do was hope she would listen. There was too much at stake for both of them. The masked figure remained wary but hopeful.

Dancing with Death  PV 

She stared at his offered hand. His words mollified her, and for the first time in her life, she realized that not everyone was capable of change. Whoever this boy was, she wouldn't be able to convince him to turn himself in, to right his wrongs. That thought scared her just as much as the danger she was presently in. This person would kill her if she said the wrong thing, made the wrong move. Eris and Dorian had been close to death, they had seen it flash before their eyes, whispering that they made the mistake of antagonizing him.

She wouldn't do the same.

Even though his outstretched hand seemed harmless enough, her gaze snapped to the wand in his other hand. That wand had endangered too many people. She couldn't let her guard down. She'd play his game, for now. But he'd be an idiot if he didn't think she'd take the first chance given to get that wand away from him.

"..Okay. I'll come with you."

Her feet shuffled closer to him, agonizingly slow. The thought that she might yet survive this encounter kept her cautious, optimism getting the better of her. Cecilia couldn't help but think that merely a yer ago she knew practically nothing about the magic world, and now she was face to face with a being capable of giving her her worst nightmares. She didn't often dream of demons, but this faceless student had become both her fear and her drive.

She wanted to see him fail. A deep-rooted instinct told her to pivot on her heels and sprint as far as her shaking legs would take her, so that she didn't have to deal with him.

No. She wouldn't do that. She was here in front of him, and he was offering her exactly what she wanted. Finding that she had paused in her movements, she forced herself to move closer, stopping a few feet in front of him. Please don't hurt me.

Removing her nigh paralyzed fingers from her schoolbag, she shouldered it instead, letting it hand to her side. Even though they were most likely around the same height, she felt so small, so vulnerable. She didn't know any spells, it would be her fists and feet if it came to a fight. She hoped it wouldn't.

Holding out her hands, she showed him she had no weapons in their grasp, before letting them fall stiffly back to her sides.

"Lead the way."

Cecilia Moore | Ravenclaw Reporter | Year Two

STA: 5, AGL: 4, STR: 5, CTL: 6, AP: 5, ACC: 5

Dancing with Death  PV 

A hint of surprise came to the masked figure when she accepted the offer to follow. It was his plan to have her listen, but somehow he had expected a similar reaction as Eris and Dorian. Hope poked at the back of his mind where the Master still had not melded their wills. She could play along and get to live if she was lucky. The masked figure led them, careful to still watch for tricks, to a nearby window overlooking the grounds of Hogwarts. He stopped and faced out to the dark (but still visible under moonlight) landscape in front of them. No one was out there anymore and what lights existed were fading. A faint glow could be seen coming from the forest, but that wasn't unusual due to Centaurs who would travel through it.

"Look out into the distance." He said slowly, his hands now behind his back as he looked out the window. "Do you see the muggle city lights in the distance?"

Not visible through the mask, his focus was still on Cecilia as he looked out of the corners of his eyes. He did not trust her to be a good girl after his last attempt. In truth no one could probably tell if distant light came from muggles, but that wasn't the point he was trying to make. The question would be answered by himself before she really had a chance.

"You probably don't." He answered his own question for her. "And they do not see us. By our own design. Does that seem fair to you?"

This time he meant it was a real question for the girl. Muggle children who became magical somehow and attended Hogwarts were common. Ripped from a normal feeling world and tossed into magic. It wasn't even their choice. Pure-bloods and half-bloods at least got to know and position themselves to be prepared. They were the ones who had all the power. Muggle-born and muggles themselves had no place in the wizarding world.

"Should muggles be allowed to send their children here?" He asked a second question as well, hoping to see what she would say.

Recruit her to our point of view, silence her, or kill her. Don't fail me again.

Master said our point of view. How wrong he was to think the mask had fully converted him yet. The masked figure held on to what humanity and individuality he had left. Hope still existed but it was burning out day by day. It was hard to say how long he had left, but he had little time to think of that with Master's thoughts flooding his mind as well.

Dancing with Death  PV 

He had led Cecilia to a window. If she was being honest with herself, she had assumed they'd go somewhere.. more interesting. A hidden crypt with magical doodads and prophecies foretelling the end of the world, that kind of thing. No, it was just a window. 

Shifting her position to get a better view of the grounds he spoke of, she was painfully aware of their close proximity. She could practically reach out to touch him, to steal his wand from him.. No. She shouldn't. She couldn't see his eyes on her from behind his mask, but her neck prickled like it does when you feel like you're being watched.

He answered his first question for her, but he seemed to expect an answer to his second and third ones. Is it fair that muggles can't see us? Should muggles be able to send their kids here? 

She silently repeated his questions to herself, unsure of what he wanted to hear. Her father was a muggle, he hadn't known about magic until well after marrying her mom, when Cecilia was a baby. Her mother, Emilia, hadn't inherited magic from her wizard family, but her brother and sister did. She had been bitter for years, that she had been unlucky enough to be born a squib, forced to stay behind when both her siblings attended Hogwarts without her. She felt cheated. Cecilia knew this by overhearing conversations not meant for her, conversations held only when she should have been sleeping. 

She was too curious for her own good. And his questions scared her, because his opinions could go either way. In her mind, if she wanted to live, she had to answer carefully.

"I.. uh.. I don't know about calling it 'fair', I guess. We're essentially hidin' from them, but I think it might.. be for the best. My father'd always say that people were afraid of the unknown, so I think if they knew about magic they'd- they'd be afraid. And afraid people sometimes do bad things."

She glanced to him after speaking, gauging his body language for signs of any anger. She wasn't sure of his stance on the matter, if he was a pure-blood extremist, or a sympathizer. She didn't know.

"And, if a kid's got magic, I think they gotta at least learn how to control it. If they didn't come here or another school, they might hurt someone on accident. Or muggles would find out about magic, an' it wouldn't be a controlled reveal. I haven't thought much on it, but that's my take."

She paused, worrying over the thought that she answered it wrong. She tried to use logic more than emotion, but she simply didn't know how he'd respond. Hopefully this would be a civil discussion, but she doubted it.

"What's your opinion?" 

It was asked lightly, somewhat timidly but asked nonetheless. She, despite her fear, was interested in seeing what he had to say.

Cecilia Moore | Ravenclaw Reporter | Year Two

STA: 5, AGL: 4, STR: 5, CTL: 6, AP: 5, ACC: 5

Dancing with Death  PV 

If Cecilia was hoping to see a response from the masked figure, she would get nothing at first. He didn't flinch or really move at all when she gave an answer. Master was curious on her position and if she could be trusted to join them. If anything her answer was safe. She did not seem to give much opinion at all, instead trying to find a neutral path. The masked figure wondered if perhaps she thought differently and only was playing it safe. After a few moments he turned his head to give her more direct focus.

"It isn't fair, but it is for the best?" He gave her a look over and noticed the bag was still there. "A very safe answer without giving much opinion. You could go into politics."

For the first time during this meeting, the masked figure pointed his wand at Cecilia. No spell was cast right away but it was there nonetheless. He was not here to answer questions and give her insight. That much was supposed to made clear. His master would not allow him to reveal too much even if he wanted to spill it all. She would possibly be helpful, but it was too early to tell.

"Let me make one thing clear," the masked figure warned with his wand pointed directly at Cecilia. "I am not here to be interviewed. You have a choice. Give me a real opinion or be silenced."

It wasn't meant as a death threat per say, but it certainly could come across that way. Master wanted her to stop urging others to find the boy. He was frustrated to say the least. These children wanted to stop a bully and it was noble, but they were so wrong.

I do not think she will join us.

Master was right. She would likely never join them even if she agreed with their point of view. He was a bit sad to hear the truth from his Master. The masked figure gave an audible sigh before she had a chance to answer his threat. Instead he made a different demand.

"Hand me your bag." He said, holding out his free hand.

Dancing with Death  PV 

Those first few moments of silence following her answer were uncomfortable, to say the least. Cecilia felt like a rabbit, and she flinched when his head swivelled to face her. She was weak, and she knew it. She hated it.

He had easily caught onto her noncommittal answer, and as he looked over her form she clutched her bag protectively. It did, after all, contain all of her notes about him. Fear began bubbling at the thought that he knew what she was doing, that he knew about her research and investigations. The fear then rocketed to the surface when he pointed his wand at her. He definitely knew.

No wonder he had been able to call her by her name. He very easily could have been watching her if he knew of the sudden meeting she had called in the library. He'd know she'd be late returning to the Ravenclaw dorms. She never should have underestimated him, and now with his wand pointed straight at her, she was faced with an ultimatum. Give a real opinion, or be silenced. 

Cecilia could only assume being silenced included death. This was no ordinary boy her age, and she didn't want to tempt fate by lying. He'd probably know if she did. Her thoughts raced with the echoes of his threat, and she almost missed his last demand. He wanted her bag. The one that would definitely incriminate her.

Her fingernails dug into the leather of the satchel, eyes wide and pleading. She was screwed. There was no point in fighting. With her wand useless in her robe and fists too slow to fight against his magic she only had one choice. Comply. Well, technically she could instead choose to die. But she was no martyr, she was 11!

Slowly slipping the strap of the bag off her shoulder, she stiffly removed the satchel from her person. Her arm stretched out towards him, bag in her tightened fist. 

"Here."

The bag was free for him to take. If he indeed did so, he'd find but a moment of resistance before her whitened fingers released the item from their desperate clutch. All she could hope for now was that he'd listen to her opinion and not hurt her for it. 

"...Muggles should be able to send their kids to Hogwarts, aye. I got two nonmagical parents, and so do lots of others. My mum's what wizards call a.. squib. If I didn't go here I might've hurt somebody. I get to learn how t' use what I have here, and safely."

She paused, taking in a breath. The second answer had been given, and now for the first.

"I dunno what would happen if Muggles knew 'bout magic. I think they'd be afraid of us. My dad was, when he found out... But he got over it. I really don't know an answer to if it's fair or not, promise."

Her last sentence left her breathless, scared out of her mind. Was she supposed to know if it was fair or not? She didn't know about the power struggles of purebloods, of the politics in the magic world. She was oblivious. The unknown had always been a mystery to unravel for her, but at the moment she decided she didn't want to know, for once.

Cecilia Moore | Ravenclaw Reporter | Year Two

STA: 5, AGL: 4, STR: 5, CTL: 6, AP: 5, ACC: 5