Chapter 19 : Chapter 19
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Today, Elena thought as she awoke. She had gone to sleep with her stomach in knots, and now she felt even more apprehension. Today.
The group convened again in Augusta Longbottom’s dining room. While they had lost many of their maps when Elena had set them on fire, they had been able to find replacements and not much time had been sacrificed.
Frank and Simon were eating the breakfast that had been spread on the table, but Elena wasn’t sure how they could manage to even think about food. She felt lightheaded with worry, and was sure there was no room in her twisted stomach for even tea.
Alice, too, looked pale. Elena noticed that her face had grown thinner, over the past month, and her hair hung limply around her face. Even the invincible Corinne looked tired. She had circles under her eyes and a pasty tone to her skin.
“We should eat,” Alice said reluctantly, reaching for a bowl of eggs. She spooned some onto her plate, but didn’t seem able to take a bite.
Corinne followed her example and took slightly more food than Alice. She, however, didn’t seem to have a problem eating the food. It was just as if she had forgotten that she was hungry.
Elena served herself a piece of toast, and nibbled at it. She needed strength, but the thought of food made her throat dry and her head spin.
“Alastor will be here soon,” Frank said, trying to diffuse the tension in the air.
“And from there,” Simon added, “we will take our short list of Death Eaters, and track them. “
The plan had been explained to her before, but Elena still found it difficult to understand. If the Death Eaters could be found, with enough determination, why hadn’t they been rounded up earlier?
The Aurors all had answers. The Ministry was waiting to see if a Death Eater would contact others, and give them more information. It was very dangerous to try to capture a skilled dark wizard, and might result in excessive Ministry death. Some of those on the list had been merely suspected of being Death Eaters and it wasn’t strictly legal to arrest them without more evidence in this post-War world. There were also a few candidates who had been tried and acquitted after claiming to have been under an Imperius curse, but who could have been lying. And, of course, some of the Death Eaters weren’t easy to be found. It would require visiting places they had frequented during the war, and asking questions, and being conspicuous and hoping the Death Eaters were still out for blood and would show themselves. Elena had the sense that the others were trying to convince themselves that these reasons were logical as much as they were trying to convince her.
Rabastan Lestrange had also given Corinne some valuable information about tracking known Death Eaters on the run. And, if he hadn’t been able to warn them yet, they might be able to catch them off guard. This was the tactic they would try first, hunting down the short-list of Death Eaters whose whereabouts Lestrange had revealed. If they wanted the element of surprise, they needed to move quickly.
Alastor Moody did not arrive until five minutes before the group was about to depart. He had said he would come at eight, but it was nearly half past nine when the pounding on the door was heard.
Madame Longbottom greeted the older Auror and brought him into the room where the others stood waiting.
Elena heard a series of dull thuds, and wondered if Moody walked with a cane. But if he was as superb an Auror as Frank seemed to say, he would have to be more physically fit, wouldn’t he?
The door opened, and Frank jumped to his feet. “Alastor,” he said, holding out a hand in greeting.
Before Elena could even get a close look at the man, he had his back towards her, and had pinned Frank up against the door, wand pointed at his face. Elena gasped, and couldn’t understand why none of the others was rushing to Frank’s aid. “What spell did you use to kill Nott?” Moody growled in a deep voice.
“Stupefy,” Frank said rather calmly. “Who gave you your eye?”
That seemed a strange question to Elena. But, Moody responded quickly, “Dumbledore.”
The exchange seemed to have satisfied him, for Moody backed up from Frank, and shook his hand. “Thank you for coming,” Frank said with sincerity, not looking shaken at all by the questioning.
Elena snuck glances at Simon, but he didn’t seem alarmed either. She didn’t dare speak though, because Moody had turned around and was now facing the rest of the group. She couldn’t help but recoil at his appearance. He looked—simply—dangerous. He had huge scars across his face and a chunk out of his nose. His hair was tangled and a dull brown. But most disturbing of all was a whirling magical eye in his left socket was a brilliantly blue colour. Elena felt slightly nauseated as the eye rolled upwards, so that only the white was visible.
“None of us are imposters,” Simon said with a grin, going forward to shake Moody’s hand.
“That’s what an imposter would say,” the man growled, but extended his hand anyways, after Frank gave a nod of assurance.
Elena inched her way backwards, not sure if she was going to be introduced, or if Moody had already researched her. That seemed like him.
Frank, however, seemed to see Elena’s uncertainty and waved her forward. “This is Oliver’s sister,” he told Moody.
She tried to hold her head up and walked towards the formidable Auror. “Alastor Moody,” the man said with a nod. “I knew your brother—a good man.”
“Elena Wood,” Elena said, meeting his unsettling gaze. She felt as if Moody could read her mind as his magical eye turned inside its socket at an unnatural speed.
“Constant vigilance,” the older Auror said, as if it were a greeting.
Elena wasn’t sure what the correct reply was, so she just stepped back again.
After a quick greeting to both Corinne and Alice, Moody sat down heavily at the table and pulled a flask from his jacket, taking a sip.
FIrewhiskey? Elena mouthed at Simon, feeling a bit shocked. It was too early for alcohol, especially if one was about to go fight dark wizards. No one had mentioned Moody was a drunk.
“No,” Moody said casually, as if Elena had asked him the question. She jumped, looking at Simon quizzically.
Simon smiled a little bit, and pointed to his eye. Elena blushed, realizing how stupid she was making herself look.
“So, we’ll travel in pairs,” Moody said, as if the exchange had not occurred. “That way it won’t seem odd to anyone who sees us. We’re going to a small town, after all. But it’s large enough that people won’t talk about all the newcomers.” He pulled from his pocket roll of parchment. “I made my own map,” he said by way of explanation.
Everyone slowly drifted towards the table and Moody, drawing closer to see the map. It was odd, Elena thought, how much the others deferred to him. He obviously looked like a fighter, with his wooden leg, scars, and magical eye, but Elena could sense that he was a leader as well.
“You two,” Moody said, pointing at the Longbottoms, “Will take a portkey that will put you here.” He pointed to a spot in the centre of town.
Alice nodded, confirming what had already been outlined the night before. “We’ll say we’re visiting a friend.” It seemed that Frank and Alice were too prominent to be able to travel unnoticed.
“Corinne and I will ride brooms and land here.” He gestured at a forested area outside of the town. They would not go into the two unless it was necessary.
Corinne seemed to have gained back much of her energy since Moody had arrived. She looked attentive and ready for battle, as if she were trying to impress the older Auror—which she might be, Elena thought to herself.
Moody took another drink from his hip flask. “The both of you will apparate to the pub and investigate their lodgings.”
Elena wasn’t sure she appreciated this direction. She opened her mouth to ask a question, but Moody seemed ready to depart.
“Ready?” Moody stood, seeming not to care what Elena thought of the plans.
Everyone assented. Corinne gathered two broomsticks from a cabinet. Frank and Alice found their portkey (a tarnished vase). Simon moved closer to Elena.
“See you soon,” Simon said to the others, and grabbed hold of Elena’s arm. The portkey wasn’t set for another half hour, so they would be the first to leave. Casually, Simon turned in mid air and they were gone.
Elena blinked at the brightness of the sun. Despite the light, the air was frosty and Elena shivered. Simon, who had let go of her arm, gave her a reassuring smile and gestured towards the pub in front of them. It was a cheery building with a wooden sign that read “The Tawny Owl.”
Elena felt a wave of panic. She hadn’t had time to prepare much for the acting she was going to have to do next. She and Simon, she knew, would try to ask information about the first death eater they were searching for, Avery. But she wasn’t sure how one went about searching for a dark wizard.
With a sigh, Elena took step forward, but instead, Simon shook his head. He started walking towards the alley between the pup and the next building. “I thought we were going inside,” Elena whispered, running a bit to catch up with him.
Nonchalantly, Simon turned the corner, striding into the alleyway. Once he and Elena were a few feet in, he stopped. “We’re looking around back, first,” he said.
Elena felt a wave of annoyance. “Does nobody bother to tell me what’s happening?” she asked with a grimace. It was as if they just thought her along for the ride, at times like this.
Simon smiled and Elena hated that she felt like mimicking his gesture. “Sorry,” he said softly, with a glance towards the street. “You should know. There’s a bit chance we will find dark wizards in this building, or one of the others we search. If at all possible, we won’t fight them without the others, but we may have no other choice if we want to prevent their escape. Can you be ready for that?”
“Of course.” Honesty was all that Elena wanted from him.
“Personally,” Simon said, starting to walk again, “I doubt that there will be anyone here. But you can’t be too careful.”
The back of The Tawny Owl was not as welcoming as the front. There were several waste bins, and a barren garden. A single door needed to be cleaned. “I imagine this is where the owners enter,” Simon said and with a flick of his wand, opened the door.
Elena rather wondered why he wasn’t being more cautious, but was appeased as Simon moved more slowly into the back entrance. They entered into a confining hallway. There was a single light that cast a faint glow on the walls. A staircase took up most of the room, and lead up into more darkness. It was clear that this part of the pub was not often used as Elena choked on the dusty air.
They headed up the stairs, and Elena winced each time the steps creaked. Despite the charming front, this part of the building appeared abandoned and almost sinister. Perhaps the Death Eaters they were hunting were at the top of the stairs, waiting in ambush. This would be the perfect place to catch them off guard. They were so vulnerable here on the steps.
But this worrying was nonsense. The point of the hasty mission was to catch the Death Eaters by surprise. Elena reassured herself once more as they reached the top of the stairs and opened another door to a more cheery hall. This corridor was carpeted with long windows that let in sunlight. Bright signs proclaimed the numbers of the guest rooms.
Without a pause, Simon knocked on closest door. Elena barely had a chance to think before a middle-aged wizard opened the door. “Yes?” he asked.
Simon put on a charming grin and extended his hand. “Sorry to bother you, sir. I was told by the owner that I might come up here and look around the rooms. My wife and I were thinking of renting one.” At that, he reached over to put his arm around Elena’s waist.
Only her healer training let her paste a smile on her lips, while her mind was reeling. Wife? Simon wasn’t so good of an actor as to be able to improvise that twist. He could have at least told her before what he was planning.
The wizard, who was wearing a gray striped dressing gown, shook his head. “Sorry,” he said in an irritated tone. “I was asleep when you knocked. Ask someone else.” With that, he slammed the door shut.
Elena stood there stupidly. The man had been lying, of course—the door had been open in instants. How could Simon have known that there wasn’t a trap behind the door? He was being too hasty and was again leaving her in the dark as he improvised.
Simon’s hand came up to brush her cheek. “Are you alright?” he asked softly.
She jumped at the gesture. It was so familiar, so romantic. It was not a gesture one made when one was in some confused sort of relationship. “I thought this was going to be more planned,” she said bluntly. She didn’t want to be angry with him, but she had no choice, the way he was acting. He might be able to improvise, but she could not.
He smiled. “I’m sorry.” There was a playful sound to his voice that Elena found odd. She had only seen Simon look this happy once and there was no reason this situation should make him at all happy. She was rather annoyed.
But as Simon started to laugh, Elena couldn’t help but giggle at the ridiculousness of it all. Perhaps he didn't know what he was doing any more than she did. After a moment, the two stopped laughing at the same moment, and Elena could hardly breathe. She leaned forward, towards Simon. Never mind that romance was unimportant here, she decided. Never mind that now.
Their lips had almost touched when the sound of a door opening made them jump apart. “Oh, I’m dreadfully sorry,” said an older witch. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you both. It’s just that I heard what you were saying to Richard, and thought you might want to come in for a cup of tea and take a look at my room instead.”
Elena blushed, trying hard not to shirk away from the woman in embarrassment. “Thank you,” Simon said graciously, seemingly unbothered. He let Elena walk through the door first.
“I’m Peter,” he said by way of introduction. “This is my wife, Callida.” If she hadn’t already been embarrassed, Elena would have laughed. Callida? Could he have invented a more unsuitable name? Surely the woman would be suspicious of that.
“Vera,” the woman said cheerily. “I’ll just start the kettle now.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Elena said in as friendly a voice as she could muster. She glanced around the room, taking note of the eclectic decorations. Framed bits of embroidery hung on the walls in between photographs of famous celebrities and newspaper clippings. Too many overstuffed chairs were congregated around a small fireplace, where a gray cat was curled up on the hearth. The various patterns of fabric—checks, plaid, velveteen, spotted—made for a rather disorienting view. But despite the rather random décor, the room felt well lived in and homey.
“Please sit,” Vera called out from the small kitchen.
With a look at Simon, Elena took a seat on the sofa, leaving room for him to sit beside her. Almost absently, he took a hold of her hand. Elena shot him a look. “Not here,” she hissed, feeling like blushing again. Their poor hostess was going throw them from her flat.
“What?” Simon whispered back, a grin on his face. He leaned forward, as if to kiss her, but Elena put up her hand. Really, when did Simon start teasing her so much? They were supposed to be serious. She was bad enough at acting as it was; she couldn't switch from "Callida" to Elena at a moment's notice.
“Simon,” Elena glared at him. “Honestly?”
He carefully, pulled her hand down and again moved closer, but instead kissed her cheek. “I’m sorry,” he said softly.
Elena’s nerves were on edge, and she felt the ridiculous urge to giggle at the situation. If they had been doing anything other than hunting for murderers, she would have let herself be giddy, but she couldn’t afford to let herself get distracted. She didn’t have enough experience to begin with.
The sound of the kettle boiling made Elena sit up straight and brush her hair out of her face. She gently pushed Simon back, so that they were sitting without touching. Yet even with a few inches between their shoulders, Elena had to exert every effort not to be distracted by his presence.
Once they were settled with their tea, Simon began to ask questions to Vera, still posing as a potential neighbour. At first, his queries were irrelevant, how much did it cost, was the landlord fair, how long had she been there. Elena tried to say something once in a while, but mostly listened. But soon, he began to shift towards more relevant inquiries. “How are your neighbours?”
Vera took a sip of tea, and stroked the cat now curled up on her lap. “Most of them have been here for ages as well. And some of them are quiet, but none of them are horrible. One lad, he used to cause a bit of trouble, but he moved out a week or so ago. I think I heard him telling Mrs. Elswint that he was going to live with some family.”
“That’s a pity,” Elena said.
“Yes, but it’s his flat you two would take,” Vera said with a smile. “You know, I think you might be able to take a look, if you’d like.”
Simon and Elena exchanged a glance. It was possible, perhaps, that this man was only an unfriendly civilian, but his reclusiveness marked him as a suspect for a potential Death Eater. “That would be lovely,” Elena said faintly.
A few minutes later, the two were alone inside the uninhabited flat, after thanking Vera and promising to say goodbye to her before they left. The room was not empty, but had some rather basic furniture set neatly up. “It’s probably nothing,” Elena said with a sigh. “It can’t be this easy.”
Simon shrugged and walked the perimeter of the room. “But sometimes it is,” he said. “Even during the war, Death Eaters would try to hide in plain sight. Many of them had Ministry jobs and had to act normal during the day.”
“Are you expecting to find something?” Elena asked as Simon kept pacing. She thought it unlikely that the man would have left anything of importance behind.
With a grin, Simon raised his wand. “Watch this,” he directed. At his silent command, a bubble of air expanded out from the point of his wand and surged to encompass the room. It distorted the air with bumps and whirls, and with the sound of a harsh alarm, popped.
Simon looked grimmer. “There’s been dark magic here,” he said definitively.
Elena heard his words, but at the same time heard the sound of the lock turning in the door and a few clicks throughout the room. “Simon,” she said slowly, looking around. “The door.”
Elena moved over to it and turned the handle, but it was frozen in place. A simple unlocking spell produced no effect as well. “We can always apparate out,” she reassured herself. But as she tried to turn, she simply couldn’t.
“What did you do?” she demanded of Simon. “That spell…”
He blanched. “There must have been enchantments to try to trap anyone who came looking for this man. If I know the spell correctly, they’ll know we’re here.”
“Then let’s leave,” Elena snapped, spinning towards the wall of windows. To her horror, they too were locked. “Break them,” she told Simon.
“Would you jump?” he asked, as if doubting that she could survive the fall.
“Just do it,” Elena said, not wanting to waste time discussing. She would have done it herself, but she sensed that Simon knew what might work.
“Magic won’t work,” he said bluntly, and reached over to lift one of the end tables, before smashing it though the glass.
Elena jumped backwards as shards of the window cut through the air. Simon has moved so quickly, she hadn’t had time to step away.
Simon dropped the table, and peered down through the window. “As soon as you jump,” he told her, “cast a cushioning spell.”
“Not before?” Elena now saw that they were higher off the ground than she had thought. Broken glass now littered the ground below.
“You can’t cast magic inside this room now. Most likely, it will wear off as soon as you’re outside.”
Elena gulped. Most likely. She looked at Simon. “You’ll be right behind me?” she confirmed, not wanting him to stay and put himself in more danger.
He nodded. With an inhale, Elena climbed onto the windowsill and flung herself off. As soon as she was no longer touching the building, she screamed the spell that would arrest her fall. For a moment, she was still falling, but then she jerked to a halt, inches above the ground, as if a rope had caught her.
A moment later, she dropped the final bit to the stone pavement and scrambled out of the way. Above her, she saw Simon squeezing out the window, and watched as he too fell. Even though she knew he could stop himself, it was still terrifying to see him careen towards the ground. He wasn’t going to stop, Elena thought for a second, but with moments to spare, he slowed, and tumbled to the ground in a heap. Her heart nearly stopped as she saw his motionless body. Panic coursed through her veins: Had he hurt himself? A moment later, her healer training sprang to the front of her mind, and Elena rushed towards Simon.
But by the time she reached him, Simon was already sitting up. He appeared unhurt, except for a red gash on the side of his cheek.
“Are you alright?” she asked, feeling her fear subside.
He nodded, and pointed to the glass on the ground as if to explain the injury. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, pulling up to his feet. “We need to go.”
“Where?” Elena looked around, searching both for an escape and potential trouble.
A shout sounded from the building above and Simon moved rapidly, grabbing Elena and dragging her towards the end of the alleyway. They rounded the corner at a full pace run, pausing only to turn to the left, so that they were running behind several storefronts.
The sound of footsteps vanished as they ran though Elena didn’t bother to look behind to confirm that they weren’t being followed. Still they ran and had covered several blocks when there was the distinct crack of apparation much closer behind them.
Simon pulled Elena into a narrow street that ran between two shops. They slowed to a jog and reached the main street, which was bustling with unknowing citizens.
Simon jumped up the steps that led to the nearest store three at a time and Elena followed him, breathing hard. A cheery bell rang as they entered. Elena made out the shapes of various pieces of old furniture and stacks of mouldy books. There was an empty sales counter to the left with a curtain hanging behind it.
It seemed that Simon was acting purely on training as he veered towards the back of the store and away from the counter. Elena followed on his heels, her heart pounding as she glanced around for a place to hide. Simon, it seemed, was searching for the same and after turning another corner, deeper into the recesses of the store, stopped by a large table. It was some strange wood, and covered in a lacy tablecloth that touched the floor. Behind it was a large cabinet that acted as a sort of divider that created the winding rows of goods.
Simon lifted up the cloth and Elena ducked underneath, moving so that her back touched the cabinet, Simon followed as soon as she was settled. As the tablecloth fell to hide them, an elderly man’s voice cried out from the front of the store. “Hello?”
Elena was sure that she was breathing loud enough for the whole store to hear, as she slumped under the table. Simon, who was much taller than she was, crouched uncomfortably, facing her.
“Why are we hiding?” Elena said between gasps for air. She felt a drop of sweat trickle her spine.
Simon looked grim. “Have you ever apparated while running for your life?” he asked.
“Oh.” He was right, of course. She would have splinched for sure. Even if Simon would have been safe, she simply didn’t have the training to escape in that way. “Who were they?” she wondered in a whisper.
He shook his head and the gesture seemed too expansive in the small hiding palce. “I suspect we’ll find out. But I know that they came for us after we sprung their trap.”
A moment later, the bell rang again, followed quickly by the slamming of the door. “May I help you?” the old man said loudly.
Elena restrained a gasp and shrunk further back towards the cabinet. Simon raised his wand and sent a quick glance towards Elena. “I’m sorry,” he breathed, reaching out his free hand to cover hers.
The old man’s cry prevented her from answering. “Where are they?” a harsh male voice said.
“Who?” the owner said, sounding bewildered.
“Don’t bother,” a deeper voice responded. “They’re in here somewhere.”
There was a horrible crack, and the old man’s pleadings stopped.
“Who do you reckon it was?” the first voice said amid the sounds of footsteps. They made no attempt to be quiet.
There was a crash, as if a pile of books had been knocked over. “Burke,” the second said. “And some girl. It looked like the Minister’s brat.” He had mistaken her for Alice, Elena realized.
“Aurors,” the one man spit. “Lestrange said to be expecting them.”
“He also said we should call him if anything like this happened.” A scraping sound ripped through the air, as if a large piece of furniture had been moved.
“Do you hear that?” the question was said in a raised voice, directed at Elena and Simon. “The Lestranges will come very soon. But if you come out now, that won’t have to happen.”
“Fine,” the man spat, after a drawn out silence. “We’ll just wait outside until then.”
“Don’t bother trying to apparate,” his companion chuckled. “I’ve already spelled the place against it.”
Laughing, the men exited the store to the incongruous bell. “Say your goodbyes,” one called out.
Simon turned around as best he could in the small space. “Elena,” he said softly. “I want you to run.”
“You heard them,” she replied, her voice trembling. Almost involuntarily, she clasped her hands together and pressed them against her chest, trying to contain a seed of growing panic. "They’ve spelled it against that.”
“I don’t care.” Simon gazed intently at her, as if trying to convey his words with his eyes as well. He reached up and put his hands firmly on her shoulders. “You need to run.”
“I can help you fight,” she said petulantly, feeling a bit hurt that he wanted her to leave so badly. If she was gone, Simon would be horribly outnumbered. She heard the sound of the old man hitting the counter and shuddered: Simon’s fate would be worse.
He sighed, looking back nervously. “I’m not saying this because I think you can’t fight. If it was just Avery, and the other man, I would want you here. But he means more than just one Lestrange. The brothers may be deadly but the woman is mad. She would torture and kill you for sport. Now that she has a reason to be furious..." He trailed off with a shudder. "Listen to me, god damn it.” Simon raised his voice, glaring at Elena.
Elena had looked away, unable to face what he was saying. “But you…”
“I need to make sure they don’t escape. So, go find the others,” he continued. “I suspect there might be another exit behind the counter. If you’re lucky, they haven’t thought of it yet.”
There was a note in Simon’s voice that made her turn her head back; it was something she had not heard before: desperation. He lifted a hand to her cheek.
Elena closed her eyes and nodded. Perhaps that was another lesson to learn—when it was time to fight and when it was time to run.
Simon’s eyes were bright even in the dim light under the table. He looked as if he would have said something, in any other situation, but he was silent as he watched her.
Elena broke away. She couldn’t think to say goodbye nor did she have the time; instead she moved quickly from under the table, wand ready. This was the most dangerous part—she was now in the open. If she had waited too long, perhaps the others would come inside. At a run, she traced their path back to the font of the shop. The sales counter now featured a slumped and bloody man.
Elena forced herself not to care as she stepped over his legs and pushed through the curtain into the back room. She barely registered that it was cluttered.
Instead she focused only on the door that was miraculously at the far end of the room. Perhaps there was such a thing as luck.
The world appeared in fragments to Elena. Her mind could simply not process complexities. If she thought of emotion and sentiment, she would crack. This was the detachment she had experienced as a Healer, during times of the most intense stress.
There was the door.
She opened it.
The outside air was cold and crisp.
Her mind seemed to thaw slightly, despite the chill of the street. Elena had been told to run, but she wasn’t about to leave Simon alone. If they were to try to trap these Death Eaters, they needed reinforcements. Raising her wand, she thought of the man still inside the building and spoke two words softly, “Expecto Patronum.” From her wand, her silvery patronus appeared. Thinking of Alice and of Corinne, she willed them a message: come now.
She had never performed this spell before and wasn’t entirely sure if it had worked as the patronus faded. Either she had failed, or it had gone in search of the others.
Elena knew that she had only a few minutes before it was too late. But she could not think about what too late would mean. Nor did she dare to try to discover if the Lestranges had arrived yet. Elena instead huddled in the darkest corner and waited. She should go back in to find Simon, to tell him to just leave, but she couldn’t. That would reveal them both. If he had only left with her while they had the chance. But then the Death Eaters would have vanished, going so deep into hiding they could never be found. No, they had to make sure that they were captured.
So preoccupied was Elena that she didn’t smell the smoke until the door was consumed by fire. She screamed as it singed her face and clothing, leaving tiny sparks of pain on her skin.
The crackling of the fire had hidden the sound of four more people appearing behind her, so when Elena turned, she almost screamed again. In front of her, stood Corinne, Moody, Frank and Alice, looking fierce and alert. At once, they all spoke at her, throwing their questions towards her but she couldn’t understand because their words were drowned out by the noise of burning. Feeling as if she were in a dream, Elena slowly turned back towards the shop and saw fire everywhere. It choked the air, teased at the roof and put up a wall of flames that blocked the doorway. Sparks of magic danced within, creating a breathtaking display of destruction. A single thought filled Elena’s mind, the face of the man she had left behind.
“Simon,” she said in realization, in horror, in hope, in lament.
Note: I'm sorry that this took so long to update, I really am. Let's just say that real life (school, exams, job hunting, etc) took up way too much time and energy this past month. But I will do my best to keep updating. I won't leave you with this cliff hanger forever :D
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