Seconds passed in between each scream. Midwives rushed around the room, alternating between assisting the soon to be new mother and mopping up the blood that was unceasingly forming a puddle on the ground. The cries of a little girl could be heard in the distance, but those were easily ignored; nobody had the time to pay any additional attention to the young Darlene, they were on treacherous waters now. The master of the house could be seen pacing the length of the outer chambers, wincing as each scream passed through the stone walls. He wanted to rush into the room and hold his wife’s hand during this time; however the heavy door was barricaded shut. The doctors needed some form of peace in order to successfully save the young Mistress of the manor.
Kennedy Baker heard the infant’s screams as the doctors mumbled quietly about the size of the baby. His fear rose higher as he heard the first of the midwives’ cries. One by one they all gasped and a few quietly said their goodbyes to the young Verlidaine. He began to pound on the door. Boom, boom, boom. The sound echoed throughout the birthing chamber and the head nurse looked towards the door. The unvoiced question, ‘what do we do?’ lingered heavily in the air as if it were a pressing weight that would come crashing down at any given second. One of the younger nurses held the screaming newborn to her chest and went towards the oak door. “Don’t,” the close friend of the Bakers whispered, but it was already too late. Kennedy came flying into the room before the sight of what had occurred hit him square in the chest. Unable to tear his eyes away from Verlidaine’s dead form, he began trembling. Softly at first and then so violently he fell to the ground in a fit of sobs. “My wife,” he whispered, “what did you do to my wife?”
A tense silence passed between those wise enough to recognize the gravity of the situation. “Ken…” one nurse began to speak before quietly realizing it was for naught. While Kennedy was known for lenient and understanding, he was also incredibly prone to frightening outbursts when provoked. Such behaviors were cause enough to make all steady themselves on their tiptoes.
Suddenly, the master of the household his tear filled gaze away from the corpse lying half covered on the bed. “The babe?” he asked tensely, his eyes growing wide in fear. “Is the baby alive?” All but one looked to one another for answers; in the wake of the loss, no one seemed to remember where the baby had gone off to. “Where is my son!” Kennedy demanded, his anger rising like the molten lava of a too long dormant volcano.
“Daughter,” the recently acquired wet nurse broke the silence and could be seen in the doorway bouncing the newborn softly. “She’s alive and fighting despite the early birth.” Kennedy stepped forward then, his arms stretching outward timidly. Annie, after taking one last look at the snoozing infant, obliged her master and handed over the snoozing baby. He held his daughter close to his chest and suppressed yet another sob. He named her Delaney Eylse after her maternal grandmother. He couldn't bear to call her Vera.
Growing up on a blossoming farm turned out to be a more exciting feat than one would normally imagine. Rather than living in a city house with cramped quarters, Delaney and Darlene had acres upon acres to play on. They would play in the river that ran through the land, run across the freshly planted crops, and eventually began to grow their own garden together. By the time Del was five she was already exhibiting signs of magic, even if she didn't understand or notice them completely.
Despite being able to play with her elder sister and run free on the farm, Delaney was a sickly child and was too frequently kept inside. Her fair skin burned even under clouds, she caught cold at the slightest differentiation of temperatures and more often than not she was too tired to rise out of bed in the morning. Doctors after doctors were brought in to perhaps find the illness that possessed Del, but nearly all of them blamed it on her premature birth and how small she was for her age; the others, well, they offered more 'mystical' answers. Kennedy didn't like them very much.
Delaney, when she was allowed to play, loved gardening alone. Even at the young ages of five and six she realized her love of watching things grow. Flowers, vegetables, the occasional planted fruit, anything she could get her hands on she grew, except for the few exotic plants she knew of that the changing climate could never support adequately.
It was when she was about seven that she began to notice the different treatment she got from her father. While he was distant and cold with Darlene, he was warm and comforting towards Del. She was the one to receive the best gifts from his travels, and she was the one he gave all his free attention to. Darla didn’t take well to Delaney being made the favorite, as the first born and the eldest girl she felt she deserved some sort of entitlement to her father’s heart. However, she possessed one defect, she had no magical capabilities. Darla could put a dress together in a day and she acted as proper as she was demanded to, but even that wasn’t enough to sway Kennedy’s love.
One evening when she was about ten, her father brought home a woman. They had been at a party and he wanted to spend time with her after the party. The woman was of a fabulously wealthy family from down the country road and she had no qualms against showing such wealth. “If you got it, flaunt it.” Del heard the mysterious woman say too loudly while Darla and she were supposed to be asleep. The two girls looked to one another as their father’s booming laugh fell into inaudible whispers, “What are we to do?” Del asked her sister that October night. “Nothing, we do nothing.” Darla replied and tugged on Del’s arm until she consented to go to bed.
Darlene Baker had grown bitter as her teenaged years progressed. Where she used to tromp around in the mud with her younger sister, she now had tea with their great aunt in the largely overdone parlor. Darlene, who once loved the outdoors, came to love the inside of what Del perceived to be a box, planning her upcoming nuptials.
It came as no shock to anyone when Delaney received her letter to Hogwarts a year later. Her father, although elated that she was accepted, was too engrossed in his soon to be wife, Myrtle, that he seemed to forget about his children some. So rather than take Del to go buy her supplies, he sent his favorite child away to go live in London with her aunt until school started.
Delaney missed her father and sister horribly. She was only eleven, much too young to be so isolated from those closest to her. She spent days lying on one of the sofas wishing she could be back on her farm, and when she wasn't laid up in bed she was being shown around as if she were a horse being betted on for a race. That summer Del lost count of the amount of times her cheeks were pinched.
September 1, 1878 could not have come fast enough for the anxious girl. She had her books, wand and clothing all packed away neatly in her trunk, and her kitten, Mr. McNabb, was situated comfortably on her shoulder. The ancient stone castle glared at her from atop the cliff as the boats silently glided on the dark water's surface. The previously excited children all fell silent as they approached the school for the first time. In all of Delaney's life she had never seen anything more beautiful.
The sorting was short and effectively done. Because her last name was closer to the beginning of the alphabet than the end she was sorted within the first twenty or so students. The girl before her, Seraphina, started to grow irritated when she found she was sorted into Hufflepuff. Del stifled a laugh as she approached the stool with the ancient hat on it. "Why oh why, a Baker I see. I remember your father. Well, you're just like him." It rambled in her ear once it was comfortable on her head. The hat continued talking to her, little comments over every aspect of her personality until it screamed out, "Gryffindor!" Suddenly the table of red and gold stood and cheered, Del felt as if she were finally home.
Months went by and by March of her first year both her father and sister were married. Her father to the woman Del had yet to meet, Darla to her betrothed. Delaney was disappointed to be so bluntly ignored by her family, but rather than express such sadness she poured her efforts into her school work.
Naturally, herbology became her favorite subject. While it wasn't the planting she was used to, it was enough to make her feel connected to the Earth once again. It was in the final months of her first year when she was first paired up with Finley Prewett. Immediately she came to realize how much she disliked him. He was cocky, annoying and loud. He relied on her to do most of the work all the while failing at flirting (most eleven year olds can't flirt) By the time the project was over, Del was ten seconds away from taking one of the clay pots and beating Finn over the head with it.
Her summer in between her first and second school years was largely uneventful. She had the farm to herself because her dad was on an extended honeymoon but she liked it that way. She didn't need permission to plant a certain seed in a particular area, for the first time she had choices.
Life faded into routine. School, farm, classes, the occasional hogsmeade visit, and then classes again. The only outstanding event was Finn. His unrelenting pestering for her to 'date' him was something Del wasn't willing to give up. Her father would never approve of Finn, and she liked him too much for him to focus his entire attention on someone else.
So now, Delaney is a fourth year in school and beginning her campaign for possible prefect next year. Her sister is expecting her third child, her father is off living in some distant land pretending his life with his two eldest children doesn't exist. Finn is as annoying as ever, but Del secretly loves it. And she's living happily as a fifteen year old girl trying to prepare herself for life after school.