ttoJ—Prologue

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May 2, 1998

Where the evergreen hedges meet olive trees, a bluebird lay squealing in agony, pecking at its broken wing. A young girl with familiar black hair was bent down, looking at it a foot away.

Juniper Black saw an image of a younger her looking at the bird unsure of what to do. It was only for a millisecond. For once in the life she lived as a witch, she finally remembered something of her past. Even if it passed as a quick blur, it made her feel more accomplished in her decision than any other time she convinced herself it was for the right reason.

There had been a drawn out debate between herself and her trusted elf, Elvina regarding that decision. Despite the little thing’s protests, June had won. Her reasoning and determination were unbreakable.

The thought of it had taken her the same amount of years she’d been in Hogwarts. The length of time in which the decision was made was more than a full month. By then, June had been surer than she’d ever been. She was so sure, only she and Elvina knew. She told no one, not any of her closest friends and especially not her siblings.

She took off at a running start through corridors, whizzing past duels and flying spells, and up countless flights of stairs that fated day. She’d thought to count the steps, to keep her mind straight, but too many were chiseled by spells to even consider them as one. And as she ran past tapestries, it made her think about secret passages she used to hide in. It made her wonder if Hogwarts would remember her. How would it remember her? Can a building have memories? She looked at the walls lined with quiet paintings. The images of famous wizards and witches were most likely piled in one central image that enabled them to watch the war like some spectacle. She thought she’d do the same after everything was done and over with.

The last step up caused her to heave her leg up, her clumsiness getting the better of her. The jagged edges pierced through her skin. This she would remember as her last wound of the war.

June paused at the top, a little out of breath and dizzy from all the thoughts running through her head. She must have brushed back her hair a million times before finally heading towards the Room of Requirements, heart pounding, and tears ready to burst.

The doors to the secret room opened, vomiting out three imbeciles and the Golden Trio. The blaze of the Fiendfyre was a burst of warmth. She’d almost been distracted by the beauty of such a deadly spell when she noticed the six before her in a short staring battle.

She didn’t bother with their fight. She stepped forward for all of them to clearly see but said nothing for what had been less than a few seconds, though ages to others. Again, she took a step, this time towards the one she called Mione.

The boy beside her, the one June called Ron-Won before he even knew what it meant, whipped his wand out at her.

“Don’t you hurt her,” he shouted.

June could only smile as she whispered something to Hermione.

Only a few more moments now.

She pulled herself away and smiled again. She started to walk away, still facing the six of them. When it all happened, it probably hadn’t been as slow paced as they all remembered it to be. As soon as she took six steps, she was gone.

She faced them as she walked off a few steps with a smile plastered on her face. She then turned and took off running again. Where she ran to, there was laughter, the first of many jokes to later be said, and red hairs. Her last step landed her right before the taller one of the two immersed in a conversation.

“Hey,” was the only thing she could say from the long speech she’d written that past month before her back felt the pangs of a spell and the rubble from the fallen wall collapse on her.

It ended just like it should have with her smile frozen and forever etched in the minds of those who saw her draw her last breath. She had done the deed she’d promised at the very beginning. She saved the one person she was meant to save all along and paid with her own life. And the lone little elf, who knew before the event’s transpiration, cried the whole year through, grieving the loss of a friend.

Juniper Black, a beloved sister, eccentric, and clumsy friend laughed last at the age of 18. She took with her three things: the only memory of her childhood, a silver bracelet, and the scent of strawberries.

To others, on the seventh floor died a young witch who betrayed her house.

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