On the first day of school, the ebon-haired witch practically flounced into the DADA classroom and took her seat in the front row. She was a fifth-year Slytherin. Her appearance uncanny; she was a flawless blend of her parents. What he did not expect was the sound of her voice when she answered the roll call.
She smiled up at him, her lips touched by a slight smirk. "I'm here."
Soft and sweet; the angelic sound was uniquely hers. As were her eyes, where devilish mischief danced.
In the days and weeks that followed, Professor 'Moody' would trail the young witch from a distance. Ducking behind the pillars, he often watched her socialize in the courtyard. He couldn't put a label on the sensation fluttering around his chest; it was foreign and wholly not what he was accustomed to.
One fateful day in October, the wizard was lost to his thoughts and did not see her leave the courtyard until she rounded the corner and ran straight into him.
"Professor," she gasped, "you startled me."
"Aye, Miss Black," the wizard grunted, mumbling incoherently, until all he could think to say was, "shouldn't you be writing your essay instead of running around the castle like a thundering herd of hippogriffs?"
At this, Raya smirked. "Actually, sir, I've already finished."
How this could be, he wondered, considering he'd only just assigned the essay two days ago. "I suspect it's a bit a drivel," 'Moody' quipped starkly.
"Clearly, you don't that I am the top student in my year," she answered, reaching inside her school bag and handing him rolls of parchment. It was five pages, well-researched, and impeccably written.
He invited Raya to his classroom to discuss her essay over tea, which soon became a weekly ritual. She craved knowledge, and he was happy to bestow it upon a student so eager and willing to learn. Over time, Raya also learned more about 'Moody' than she ever thought possible, due in part to her telepathic ability. Try as he might, he couldn't prevent the next series of events that were set to unfold…
Professor 'Moody' looked up to see Raya standing in front of his desk. She stayed behind after the other students filed out. Her features were taut. There was a glint in her eyes that he couldn't discern.
"Who are you?"
"You are not Mad-Eye Moody," the witch shook her head, so self-assured, "not the real one."
"I don't know what you're on about, lass, but I can assure you that I am the one and only Alastor Moody." The wizard chuckled to pass off the nervousness budding inside of him. "Are ye sure you haven't had too much to drink? Has the euphoria of the Triwizard Tournament addled your brain?"
"No, I haven't lost it." She was visibly shaken; the infamous Black temperament he knew all too well flaring up. He realized the look he saw in her eyes was betrayal, and it wounded him deeply to know that he was the root cause of her pain. "Tell me who you are. If I have to go to Professor Dumbledore, I will."
She started towards the door. Panicked, he slammed the door shut with a flick of his wand and plodded over on his one good leg. When she turned, 'Moody' was right in front of her, his tongue flicking, the electric-blue eye swirling around its socket. "You're certainly as clever as him, but are you as brave?"
"M-my father," Raya frowned, picking up on his thoughts, "how did you know?"
"Meet me at the Hog's Head tonight," 'Moody' growled. "Not a word about this to anyone."
Slipping the hood of her cloak over her head, Raya pushed open the door and entered the Hog's Head. The heady scent of alcohol was thick in the air, instantly filling her nostrils. She looked around the building cautiously. If what she alleged was true, then the man impersonating Moody could be any one of the strangers in the pub.
Just as she was about to sit down at the bar, another cloaked figure grabbed her by the arm and hauled her upstairs. He thrust her inside a room and closed the door, pressing his ear against it to make sure no one was following them. Raya wasn't sure what mess she'd gotten herself into. Biting her lip, she took in her surroundings and jumped slightly when the cloaked man turned his attention to her.
There was a brief pause, and then slowly he pulled off the hood, revealing his identity. He was tall and thin with a mop of brown hair and matching eyes. He was unshaven but otherwise handsome.
"Who are you?" asked Raya.
"Barty Crouch Junior."
"Junior," the witch murmured, mostly to herself. "You're Mr. Crouch's son?" An agitated gleam surfaced from the depths of his brown pools, as his tongue peeked out between his teeth. His breathing had become erratic, but he managed a nod in reply. She made a mental note never to ask about his father again. "Why are you here?"
For the second time, Barty hesitated. Narrowing his eyes, he rolled up his sleeve. There, branded on his left forearm, was the Dark Mark—the same mark that her Uncle Coleridge bore.
Raya took a step back away from the man, her mouth agape. "You're a Death Eater."
"The Dark Lord has returned, and he wants Potter," said Barty, to which she rolled her eyes.
"Of course, he does."
"I've been tasked with—"
"How do you know my father?" She didn't want to know the details of his mission. The less she knew the better.
"Regulus was my best friend," he answered quietly.
"What are you going to do…?" To me. The last two words died on her lips. She stared at the man, whose features had suddenly gone manic. She couldn't shake the feeling that this man was insane.
"Not going to do anything." All fervor seemed to recede, leaving him looking almost somber. "I could never hurt you."
"I'm glad we have that established," the witch muttered, before darting past him. No sooner had she reached the door, she was suddenly wedged against it. She was breathing hard against him, her eyes wide. His tongue flickered, as his eyes traveled her up and down.
"Don't tell anyone, or else."
"You said you could never hurt me," she threw back defiantly.
"I don't have to kill you to temporarily dispose of you."
When Barty let her go, Raya didn't hesitate to vacate the room. She sprinted down the stairs two at a time and dashed outside. Shining like a beacon of solitude and sanctuary, the full moon filled her with its ethereal glow. With a howl loud enough to pierce the night and freeze the hearts of those inside the tavern, the white wolf disappeared into the Forbidden Forest.
She is brave, Barty concluded, as he watched over the slumbering witch. She was pale against her otherwise dark features. Beautiful, he thought. He'd spent all night trying to locate her. At sunrise, he found her at the edge of the forest. Once she was awake, it took several moments before she was stricken by recognition of her surroundings. Gasping, she caught Barty staring at her out the corner of her eye.
Rubbing the back of his neck, Barty muttered, "Sorry for scaring you."
To his wonder and disbelief, the witch shook her head. "Not scared, just overwhelmed. My guardian is a Death Eater, too. Perhaps, you know him. Coleridge Black."
"Coleridge," the wizard growled the name. "Reg never…He…The last person on Earth he'd want you…" Barty began pacing frantically back and forth, running his hands through his hair, losing all sense of himself to frustration.
"He isn't very nice," she replied softly, becoming strangely accustomed to his insane outbursts.
Her voice brought him back, spreading through him, anchoring him. He was intrigued, curious, and nervous all at once. She wasn't walking out on him. In fact, she seemed calmer, too. "You're a werewolf."
"No, a veela. I can shapeshift into a wolf. If you knew my father, then I'm guessing you knew who my mother was?" She looked at him expectantly, receiving a nod in response. "When people find out who my parents are, what I am…" The part-fey witch shook her head, seeming to curl in upon herself.
"Your father would be proud of you," Barty interjected. "You're a brilliant witch."
Meeting his gaze, Raya let out a sigh and said, "I'm not going to tell anyone. If the Dark Lord truly has returned, then it's only a matter of time. Just…Don't hurt anyone I love."
"I won't, Luv."
Author's Note: Vila, according to Slavic mythology, can shapeshift. I created the character, Raya Black, shortly after I read Order of the Phoenix fifteen years ago. I love mythology & Fey Folk. Thus, I wanted to incorporate their actual myth into my story.