Prologue: Introductions

I listened to the rain that was hailing relentlessly outside of the apartment, the small clear droplets crawling their way slowly down the small window. I then pressed my forehead against the cool glass of the frosted over window allowing myself a small sigh as I listened – once again – to the pounding of the thunder, seemingly surrounding me , echoing the bright blue sparks of life that came before it. The flashes illuminating the dimly lit room in which I sat. The kitchen of my run-down and rented apartment building.

I watched in silence as the flame of the pale cream candle infront of me slowly licked its way down the remaining wick, burning it away and melting the wax of the candle below its intense heat, but still filling the room with the heavenly scent of soft vanilla that I loved so and the necessary light.. I watched as the flame slowly dimmed, the room growing darker still, now only to be brightened by the occasional flashes of the storm still raging outside.

I woke uneasily the following morning to the sound of the various birds in the tree outside, singing merrily and unperturbed by the storm that had ravaged their home only the previous night; my head still pressed against the glass as it had been the night before, a small ring of condensation circling it.. Groggily I lifted my head which was sticking slightly to the window and wiped the cold wetness from my forehead.

Get up Keira…

I glanced over at the clock above the worktop; which told me that it was quarter to eight. I needed to get changed quickly and ready for school. That unrelenting hell where I had spent the last sixteen years of my life; I needed to go though as it was the day of my last GCSE exam and it was in French. I suppose it could have been worse in that respect and after all I no longer had to attend after that one today.

I headed into my bedroom. It was rather small with a single bed in the far corner with a small wooden table beside it, a wardrobe behind the door that had a desk beside it. The walls were painted a rich cream colour and the floor had been left bare with its dark wooden floorboards to match the dark coloured furniture. The curtains and the bedding were cream with squares coloured in different shades of brown.

I pulled out a pair of black trousers and slid them on, replacing the faded denim jeans that I had been wearing the night before; then removed the black T-shirt that had accompanied them replacing it with a clean white school shirt. After that I had put on my blue school tie, and hurriedly shoved the materials that I would need for my exam into my worn black shoulder bag – well it had been black at some point, it was now more of a faded grey. I took my black blazer off it's hanger and placed it in the hall with my bag before heading into the bathroom to clean up as much as I could in the remaining five minutes that I had.

I tied my black hair back roughly with a hair tie and then proceeded to try and remove the eyeliner and mascara from the night before replacing it with some more. I was quite plain in my opinion, I had straight black hair that was of a generous but not overbearing length and bright green eyes, I had decided long ago that they were my best feature. My skin was rather pale and a few freckles sat on the bridge of my nose. I knew that I wasn't ugly, but I also knew that I wasn't gorgeous and I accepted it.

Finally I left the bathroom and put on my blazer then grabbed my bag. I rushed through the apartment pausing only to check the time, I was a couple of minutes late. I locked the door behind me and walked hurriedly to school.

Half an hour later and I was at school. I was sat outside on a small brick wall waiting out to be allowed into the building for registration. Fifteen minutes after that and I would be in the library studying; a month ago I would have been in English class but I had already taken my final English exam and was now left to informal study. I liked it that way. I would have three hours to study, followed by my dinner hour and then near enough two hours of exams before I could go home.

I was surrounded by the sound of everybody else's pen scribbling furiously in answer to the question which I had finished only moments ago - the sound seemed suddenly deafening, the hall much smaller than it had been five minutes ago. The invigilator was looking at me with her beady eyes from behind her small glasses, her nose upturned as though she was better than us - she wasn't. I felt suddenly claustrophobic, sick and needed to get out.

I started to panic and could feel the bile rising in the back of my throat, my chest heaving quickly. I needed to leave, I needed to be outside. The invigilator was walking towards me now.

"Are you alright?" She whispered, so as not to disturb those that were still working even though most of them were looking at me.

I started to shake and looked up at the clock on the wall above the entrance, twenty minutes to go. I stared at the desk infront of me trying to block out my surroundings.

"Hello?" the invigilator was trying to get my attention, trying.

I'm not totally sure what happened after that, I felt a rush of heat throughout my body and saw an orange flame leap from my desk towards me. My exam paper was on fire. I briefly recall the look of surprise on the invigilator's face as she leapt back and the scream of the girl who was at the desk beside me but after that I can't remember much at all.

I know that there were sirens; and I can remember that later we were all sat down on the soft green grass of the school field, I was still in shock. We watched as the hall flames leapt from the windows of our school hall, lucky to be outside and I can remember somebody – a boy – shouting something to me, no at me. He was calling me a witch. I can remember the pain as the first stone hit me, then the second after that. Then it went black.