Karen Davies

What we see when we aren't looking

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New Year's Eve, VH34


There was a certain much needed peace around the pond that day. It was almost as if the water was telling the world that serenity did still exist, and while Karen had never particularly yearned for that serenity in the past, it was nice to see it as the world kept on changing around her.


It had been months since the attacks at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, and while she had escaped with a clean bill of health and a stable mind, the same couldn't be said for the other occupants in the castle. The attacks weren't he only thing on her mind that day, though. After months of ignoring summons to 'Career Advice' meetings, a final one had come from Professor Ripley that morning telling her that under no uncertain terms was she to miss the next appointment, with him this time, under threat of being held back. And then there were OWLs. They were looming around the corner, and while she inherently didn't put much stock in standardized testing, the weight was still present. If she failed the wrong test or chose the wrong path, it would decide what she could or couldn't do for the rest of her life. It was suffocating.


Next to the pond, though, there were no expectations, no change on the horizon except the flip of a calendar page and the start of a new year. She had started out early that morning wishing to avoid the preparations for the Davies New Year party; Axel would be arriving around noon, so she only had a few hours that would be all her own. The crisp December morning air was threatening to cut through the extensive layers of warm clothing she had piled on before leaving, and not for the first time, she cursed the restriction that meant she couldn't use magic outside of school. A warming charm would have been nice at that moment. The only true casualties of the cold, though, were her cheeks poking above her heavy wool scarf, tinged pink. She burrowed her chin deeper into the scarf to accommodate, shifting her back against the tree as she brought her bent knees closer. Her gaze lazily tracked a disturbance in the water as she let the serenity of her sanctuary wash over her. There was nothing else in the world but this place, for the moment.

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The minutes dragged on as the tree rustled above her. Lights flipped on and off in houses towering in the near distance, shadows moving behind closed curtains as life stirred. Even at the nestled pond, wildlife began to flit around. But Karen didn't notice any of it. Her gaze had fallen still on a single point in the pond, her eyes half lidded as she let her mind wander into bleak emptiness.


For a girl with such an active mind, it was rare that she it trailed into oblivious nothingness, but when it did, it was like a full mind reset - something that she needed from time to time. The problem was, as always, finding that time. In her earlier years, Karen hadn't understood the strain that her constant thought processes took on her health, but one day, when she was nine, she had found this exact spot. It was rather unassuming, at first, and she had quickly become bored with the meager entertainment it offered. However, it had been the discovery of an exhausting journey, so to recoup her energy, she had taken a seat under the very tree she was curled under now. She had lain her head against the trunk and turned her gaze towards the only possibly interesting thing: the pond. What started as a rest stop, though, stretched from minutes into hours. She felt her mind relax, her gaze rest as it did now. Three hours later she had stirred, the biting cold nipping at her bringing her out of her reverie. Thoughts flooding back, she took stock, and felt a certain lightness in both body and mind, something that was never achieved with a solid night's sleep. She had looked, puzzled, around the haven, and then, realizing that she had stayed much later than anticipated and her mother was likely ready to give her an earful when she got back, she left. Ever since that day, she had periodically come back. Most of the time, it was when the world started to feel too heavy on her shoulders, but sometimes, it was just to relax in the sun.


She sat there for about an hour before it started. First it was a slight shadow. Then, colors started to bleed into the mirror-like water, moving and twisting. Karen's lids raised as the movement registered, plucking her mind like a taut string. Her eyes stayed fixated on the spot as she lifted her back away from the trunk of the tree, leaning ever so slightly closer. It was like something was pulling her to the water's edge. Heeding it, she pushed off from the ground and made careful steps to the water's edge. The colors continued to swirl and blob, but she couldn't discern anything distinct from the mess of shapes.


Suddenly, a twig snapped sharply off to her left, and her head reflexively swiveled to the source of the noise, breaking her fixated gaze. There was nothing there. Brow furrowing as she squinted, she tried to spot signs of life, but whichever creature had cause it was likely long gone now. Accepting that, she looked back at the pond.


The colors were gone.

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Frowning, she looked away from the placid water, and then back again, as if what she had just seen would return if she gave it another chance. Nothing changed, though, and the water only reflected the grey clouds coating the sky above. Where had it gone? Or, more importantly, what in the hell had that been? She sat back, her butt hitting the dirt with a soft plunk that reverberated through her as she slumped. A wave of fatigue washed over her, as if she hadn't been sitting there at the bank, motionless, for hours. It was a puzzling feeling, and, as she felt the drag on her lids and limbs, she couldn't muster enough will power to put her mind truly to work to figure out the anachronism.


Mustering what strength she could, Karen pushed herself back up and retreated to the tree, sitting back against it once more and curling tighter to conserve heat. She let her lids close all the way, this time, and as a slight wind picked up, she let herself drift off to sleep.

Edited by Karen Davies

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