~ Joseph Stalin ~
Once his mind awakened, his wits dimmed by the drugged wine he had willfully taken, it was not the darkness, nor his unfamiliar surroundings, nor even the cloaked figure patiently waiting besides him that he noticed.
It was the stale air.
They were coming...
Just as he had.
It was why he had isolated himself for the past fortnight. From Harry, from Kally, from Tonks...
Lucius Malfoy had not given up on recruiting him. After all, there were only so many pureblood werewolves.
Two days after the incident with Kally and Harry, he had received a blank envelope addressed to him, sealed with the Dark Mark.
After reading it's contents, it's offer of safe haven from the cruel, prejudiced Ministry standing in cruel contrast to the Death Eater's own prejudicial beliefs, Dumbledore had asked the one thing of him that he had felt unable to do.
He had asked him to consider joining them.
He had stayed in isolation, not wanting his affections for Harry, Kally, or Tonks, especially Tonks, to sway his decision.
The other werewolves began emerging from the underground corridors surrounding him. Here the walls were lined with bone. Femurs rising up like sadistic pillars from hell, supporting the long line of skulls outlining the subversive passages. Cool water dripped rhythmically from the damp ceiling, wetting his sweating scalp.
There was only one place in the world that flaunted such morbidity. Deep beneath the streets of Paris, over sixty million of a time long past lay dead. Their skeletons disassembled, grouped systematically to form walkways, a remnant of a darker time.
Upon drinking the drugged wine, the Death Eater had said he would awaken in the Empire of Death. Only now did he understand what he had meant.
A heart shape, shaped out of human skulls, lay set into the walls of the Paris catacombs besides him. A standing remnant of the macabre sense of humor, stretching endlessly into the darkness.
This was a prefect place of meeting. Public, isolated, and gothic.
Not to mention how winding the corridors were. It was doubtful that anyone would be there to witness their dealings.
"After our last meeting I must admit that I am surprised to see you here."
Lucius Malfoy stepped forth from a shadowed corridor, dropping his hood to reveal white blond hair.
He inclined his head. "Since then I've realized how my kind is rewarded for good deeds." He replied resolutely.
Lucius gave him an appraising look, before reaching forth a cloaked hand to beckon the others forward. Half a dozen other cloaked figures emerged from the shadows, forming a circle around him.
"Who's the gaunt one?" Growled one of them. Remus distinctly saw the glint of fang beneath the hood.
My God... It is true....
Voldemort had truly found a way to control their transformations.
Werewolves could now roam the world at will.
"The gaunt one..." Lucius said sneeringly. "Is a pathetic excuse of a pureblood, friend of the Potters...."
"Former friend." Remus interrupted nastily, snarling for effect. "I've seen how their sort repays my kind, thinking I'd betray them because of what I...."
"Spaaaaaare us the speech wolf." Interrupted the one who had brought him there. "What we need to know is if we can trust you."
"Of course we can't." Lucius snarled, threateningly extending his incisors and nails. "But we can make him one of us."
"If you don't trust me how do you plan on accomplishing that?" Remus countered, not wanting to sound too eager.
Lucius smiled evilly. "I'm so glad you asked." He withdrew a silver flask from his pocket, tossing it to him.
Remus caught it with his shirt sleeve, uneager to come in contact with the forbidden metal.
"Tsk, tsk. Not too trusting are we blood traitor?" Lucius chided.
"It's platinum. Wouldn't want to be carrying around something deadly now would we? Remember, I share the same curse as you."
Remus scoffed. "By choice."
"Ahh.... Still looking at it as a burden rather than the power it is?"
"You said you'd give me a reason to think of it otherwise."
"That I did. Now drink it." Malfoy ordered.
He eyed the solid flask distastefully, uncorking it to sniff. "What's in it?"
The Death Eater that had brought him there smirked. "You drank the other substance without question."
Remus shrugged. "Your not about to kill a potential ally before you have time to try and turn them now are you?"
Lucius laughed. "Always the shrewd one."
"It keeps me alive."
"So. It. Does." He said coldly. "That substance..." Lucius indicated the flask. "Will assure that you are one of us. But once you drink it, there is no going back."
Remus eyed him with distrust. "Meaning?"
"Meaning that you will gain the ability, like most of us here, to transform at will. The moon will no longer hold it's power over you."
He watched Lucius pacing down the damp corridor, rubbing his pale fingers along the rough bones. "And?"
Lucius halted. "Once it's drunk, you will know what the taste of human flesh feels like." His pale eyes shone with a homicidal glean. "They say once you know that, there is no going back. You will crave it forever. Your precious Mudblood lovers will never accept you back once you desire the taste of meat."
Remus felt his insides run cold. Now there was a catch neither Dumbledore nor himself had thought of. It was too perfect really. They didn't trust him, and they would give him something that would make him crave human flesh so much that he was bound to join their side, regardless of his intentions upon first coming there.
"I told you." Snarled a woman's voice. She must have seen his hesitation, smelt his fear. "It was a mistake bringing him here."
Remus knew what he had to do. He only hoped his will was strong enough to never cave.
He turned to the unnamed witch, smirking as evilly as possible. "The only mistake was not seeing what those Ministry bastards have kept from me my whole life."
He felt the air thicken with tension.
"And what's that?" Nott spat from besides him.
Remus curled his lips back, tilting the flask to his lips, chugging it down. Liquid fire flowed through his veins, energizing him, changing his molecular make up...
A delicious, tantalizing taste filled his mouth, leaking over his tongue, overwhelming his senses so that he nearly lost himself to it.
Reigning the hunger in, feeling the power his kind had always been meant to feel, rather than the pain, Remus met their gazes, his own teeth elongating. He was as changed as they were now. One of Voldemort's mutated creatures, even if he were internally against them.
Only now he understood what power it was to be the beast he was, even as his consciousness screamed out the consequences, his hunger beckoned.
He tilted his head back and howled.
Lucius stepped forward, a wolf like snarl on his face. "Welcome..."
The rain hammered down, darkening the tombstones. A small girl was crouched besides one, sheltering beneath the comforting dryness of her star speckled umbrella, her braids flapping lightly in the wind. The resemblance to her mother was striking.
Watching the child kneel, Tonks barely restrained her own tears.
Emily Bothan had just asked her mother to come home soon. She missed her bedtime fairy tales. While she told her mother's slab of stone this, Emily meticulously arranged, then rearranged, the flowers in the bouquet her father and her had brought.
Mummy only deserved the best.
Emily has said so herself, when she had spent the better part of an hour searching the floral boutique, seeking out the perfect arrangement of irises and hydrangeas. Mummies favorites.
Tonks sniffled, allowing the light breeze to inconspicuously dry her eyes.
"You saved my daughter's life." He said, finally speaking. "And for that, I owe you mine."
The thin line of Kenneth Bothan's lips gave away his carefully hidden despair. He was a man of private mourning.
"No Mr. President, if any..."
"Kenneth. Please." He implored, his dark eyes never leaving the small form of his daughter. "If anyone has earned the right to dispense with formalities it is you."
Tonks smiled sadly, not agreeing. The fiasco had been entirely her fault. Her own incompetence leading to why his young wife, his high school sweetheart, lay beneath his daughter's small feet. "If anything Kenneth, your daughter saved mine. She has the bravery of one three times her age."
"Like her mother." He whispered, looking loving upon his little girl, who was now recanting the events of her week into the grass.
One day, Tonks realized, the loss would hit Emily. But for right now, she was grateful that the child could still smile for her father's sake.
Because when she looked at Kenneth, she could tell he needed his little girl to remain just that. She prayed to God that Emily would never show the scars of what she had gone through.
"It's such a shame..." Kenneth remarked, gesturing to his daughter, drawing her from her thoughts. "That it takes something like this to happen, before wizards will let someone know of their existence, or of any danger from them."
She paused thoughtfully. "You were a history major. I trust that you are familiar with the Salem witch trials."
President Bothan nodded. "Yes."
She smiled ruefully. "That's why. Were afraid of what Muggles would do to us. Even we can fall victim to guns."
Kenneth Bothan sighed. "Part of me understands. But it still saddens me." His brow wrinkled, pain etched in every line. "All the misunderstanding between both our kinds... Had I only known before hand I would never have let Emily's party occur. We could have remained inside. My family would have been better protected."
"They still would have found you." She spoke truthfully. "When the monster we spoke of wants to hurt someone, he will, no matter what the obstacle or cost."
Kenneth nodded sadly. "I suppose I knew that. Hindsight is 20/20."
The rain was letting up, a soft scent wafting towards them. One that had nothing to do with the flowers speckling the lonely cemetery.
Kenneth tilted his head to the sky, breathing deeply. Sometime in the future, he would swear to Tonks that sometimes, like right then, that he could still smell her favorite flowers in the breeze.
Watching him now, Tonks was thankful the Order had granted her and several other members permission to remain with him and his daughter as a rotating guard.
They would be needing it.
Harry hung his head over the butterbeer, not hearing a word Luna said. He had tuned her out when she had started talking animatedly about the special edition of the Quibbler that week, the one concerning how Cornelius Fudge's army of Heliopaths had drowned in a freak toilet flood accident in the Department of Mysteries.
The gentle chime of bells drew his attention to the door of the Three Broomsticks, just in time to see Kaylens, Dean, and Neville walk in, their hair windswept from the rough fall breeze that day.
He instantly looked back down into his mug, not wanting to have a repeat of their latest confrontation.
He didn't know what the hell he had been thinking, violating her like that.
That was just it. He hadn't been thinking. He had been suffering the familiar after effects of Voldemort invading his thoughts, and those included everything from temporary insanity to violence.
Needless to say, forcibly getting the information he wanted out of her had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Hermione and Ron had seen the entire thing, turning the corner right as he shoved Kaylens against the wall, hissing "Legilimens". Mione had gone on a tirade about their being no excuse for such violation of personal privacy, and him running after Kaylens' hadn't helped.
Particularly when he grabbed her again, desperately trying to stop her, to make her understand that he had not been in his right mind, only to find out that she had a rather nasty right hook.
"Harry why don't you just apologize."
Luna's voice got through to him, and he turned a startled face to her. "What do you mean?" He asked, feigning stupidity.
Luna smiled, looking at something just over his head intently. "If you like her, apologize. It's as simple as that."
His jaw dropped, flabbergasted. "What!?" Embarrassed by the odd stares they were now receiving from his outcry, he lowered his voice. "Luna I don't like her. I just feel bad becau... Wait a minute? How did you know I had something to apologize for?"
Luna's expression changed, her normally dreamy countenance gone, if only for a second. She looked like she was about to lecture a small child. "Every time we've seen her recently she hasn't glared, she just pretends your not there. She stated simply. "Before you both took every chance to be at each others throats."
Luna's dreamy demeanor returned, and she opened her purse, withdrawing a lime green straw. "Plus she just walked in, and now your staring into your butterbeer. You used to watch her you know. Or didn't you?" She looked up, puzzlement gracing her face. "With you it's hard to tell what you are or are not aware of."
Before Harry even had a chance to marvel at her astuteness, Luna had begun asking what kind of eulogy a Heliopath would like at it's funeral.
"I wonder if their flames go out when they die? If not then their burial methods would have to differ from our own, since they would burn right through their casket..."
"I guess you'll have to get a hold of one of their bodies to find out." He commented cynically.
Luna looked scandalized. Indeed, she was shaking her long, dirty blond hair with such vigor that it knocked over her drink. She didn't seem to notice.
"Oh no Harry." She said very seriously. "Daddy would never disrespect one of their bodies. Just because their a different species doesn't mean they should be less entitled to proper mourning."
He was so distracted by the absurd turn of conversation that he failed to notice Ginny until she dropped down next to Luna, grinning from ear to ear.
"So Harry, I heard Ron gave you detention." She commented mischievously, giving Luna a quick one armed hug. "Shocking isn't it? Considering how he's never exactly been the model Prefect."
Harry nodded miserably, longing for a return to the Heliopath conversation. Anything was better than talking about this again.
Luna nodded absentmindedly. "Harry was just thinking of apologizing to that... Well what would you call her hair color?" Luna seemed to ponder this for a second before shaking out her own dirty blonde mane. "Fourteen carat I suppose. But I think Harry's having a hard time getting up the nerve to talk to her."
Harry gaped. Since when had he been considering doing that? And her hair was golden, not...
He suddenly realized what he had been arguing with himself about, and hung his head.
Ginny shot him a sympathetic look. "Can't say I blame you. How's the eye by the way?"
His head shot back up instantly. Was there anyone who didn't know about that?
"Don't worry Harry. The only ones who know are us three, Kally, Dean, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Seamus." Ginny said, ticking them off her fingers. "No one would have found out if that git of a brother of mine hadn't blabbed."
Harry fought the urge to kick something.
The table leg was saved by Seamus' arrival. He had been getting butterbeer for himself and Ginny. "Heya Harry."
He grunted in response.
Seamus chuckled, brushing his sandy bangs from his eyes. "Heard Kaylens decked yaaaRH!"
Seamus' yell of pain was preceded by a loud THUNK from beneath the table, and a scolding look from Ginny.
His Irish housemate was rubbing his shin rigorously. "Sorry... Couldn't resist ya know? Dean and I have had this running point system between you twooOW! Will you stop that Ginny!?"
Harry shot her a grateful look, to which she inclined her smirking head.
By this point Luna's ever-present dreamy look had once again vanished, for she was clutching her stomach with laughter, pounding a fist on the table, making quite a scene as she ceased to restrain her laughter.
"So glad my life's entertained everyone this week..." He muttered hollowly.
He spent the rest of the conversation sneaking surreptitious looks across the relatively empty pub at Kaylens. Dean and Neville seemed to be debating something, and he thought he caught the words 'bloody thesteral' more than once, while Kaylens stirred her butterbeer, sipping it through a straw like Luna, looking for all the world as if she were not listening to a single word her companions were saying.
He jumped, clearly startled when Ginny leaned down next to him, balancing on his shoulder. He hadn't even noticed Seamus get up.
"I'm not sure what's going on between you and Ron, but the git will come around, and everything will be okay." She said this so quietly only he heard. "Just remember, I'm not just his little sister, I'm yours too."
She squeezed his shoulder lightly, re-joining Seamus, where he patiently had been waiting several feet away, just far enough to have given her the privacy she had requested.
She linked arms with Finnigan, and a warm feeling billowed up inside him at her reassuring words. She was right, maybe not right now, but when this was all over things would be okay.
He watched her wink over her shoulder before sauntering out into the blistering wind, her red hair swirling around like a wild tornado.
He smiled stupidly.
He had a little sister.... Regardless of what Ron currently thought.
The thought was comforting, and he hailed Madam Rosmereta's new waitress, a small, happy looking brunette, over.
There was nothing he could or would do about Ron and Hermione. At least not right now.
But a new resolve to fix the things he had legitimately screwed up had been awakened. It would be hard, and he would probably wind up getting decked again, but it was worth a shot.
Luna smiled knowingly, humming Weasley is our King far too loudly for anyone's taste but his. Except at the moment he thought it should be more along the lines of Weasley is our Queen.
A single droplet, clinging to the earthen ceiling of the catacomb, broke free.
Remus caught the raw slab of meat that was thrown his way, not sickened as the four other werewolves with him dug in, watery blood dripping down their humanoid chins.
"Dig in Wolf boy. You're going to need your strength for this." Nott chided.
He eyed Nott with distaste. He preferred Wolfy, only from Tonks' lips.
He let her name fade, giving in to the irresistible craving he had been fighting since dawn. Ever since he had drank that cursed potion...
It was a craving for blood that would not go away, and for the dozenth time that day, he extended his canine fangs.
Only now he was using them to tear the proffered flesh, instead of just practicing his transformations, hoping Dumbledore could concoct a cure for this horrid craving he would now deal with.
His eyes rolled black, the pleasurable taste consuming him
For a moment, the only thing that mattered was the meat in hand. The thought of protecting the innocents later on, forgotten.
Now the blood dripped from his mouth as well.
Kally sighed exhaustedly, wishing for the solitude of her dormitory. At least there she could kick and scream, venting without the prying eyes of others following her every move, as Potter seemed to be doing from his seat in the shadowy rear of the pub.
Potter was not someone she wanted to think about right now though.
She relaxed, allowing her elbows to prop herself up. She cast a glance resolutely down the bar's counter, stirring her straw around in her empty, bear-sized, mug. It was a nervous habit she had picked up as a child, when she used to twist them into random configurations. It had always been her brother's biggest pet peeve.
"Can't take you anywhere...." Sean smirked, tousling her hair.
She swatted him away, glad to embarrass him in front of his friends.
A sharp nudge caused her elbow to slip, freeing her from that line of thought. She cast an annoyed look at her housemate, ignoring the shooting pain the sudden jarring had sent up her left arm.
"The physical scars, the nerve damage... They are the least of your children's concerns Mr. And Mrs. Kaylens..."
Dean was grinning lopsidedly back, ignorant to where her thoughts had been, taking her back nearly a decade. They hadn't known she was listening when they had spoken to the hospital's psychiatrist. But in their defense, her anesthesia had been heavy.
They had not been expected her to be waking up so soon.
"You look like your off in your own little world there Kaylens. I didn't drag you forcibly out of the castle for nothing today, so being a mute will just not do." Dean said cockily.
If possible, Dean's grin had grown even more crooked with his words.
The resemblance his smile had to Sean's was striking.
Perhaps that was why she put up with him, while she distanced herself from all others, save for Remus. Dean was not Sean, but just seeing such similarity in another human was oddly comforting. It did not hurt like she had expected it to.
Seeing him looking at her expectantly, she shrugged, knowing full well he was about to start prodding Neville. Dean was someone who seemed to think that it was his personal mission to make everyone around him laugh, and her stony silence was probably pushing him to the brink of insanity.
"Well look at this Nev." He commented predictably, nudging Neville so hard that the poor boy almost fell from his stool. "We've got ourselves a mute. I guess that means she can't back talk now can sh..."
"Don't even try it Thomas." She shot out, feeling the corners of her lips tugging up at his persistence. Not only had he been insistent about her needing to chat, but he had adamantly refused to leave the castle for this 'so-called' day of freedom in Hogsmeade, without her.
How Dean had convinced 'I'm-Afraid-of-My-Shadow' Neville to help in that endeavor was beyond her.
In the end, she had gotten sick of Dean's persistence and given in.
The counter vibrated as the Three Broomsticks' waitress magicked three butterbeers to them with a loud thud. The liquid frothed a bit around the edges.
Catching their questioning looks the young witch flashed a dazzling, dimpled smile. "Courtesy of the gentlemen in the back."
She eyed the new butterbeer with a profound sense of distrust, before exchanging glances with Neville and Dean. She spun around on the bar stool, catching sight of the only patrons still in the back of the pub.
No sodding way in hell did he send us this.... She thought with no small amount of anger.
After what he had done, any gesture of this sort was insulting.
She snatched up the butterbeer roughly, storming away from the startled Gryffindors towards Potter.
Best to get this over with...
She came to an abrupt halt in front of him, slamming the mug down so hard that the liquid sloshed over the sides, joining the already pooling puddle on his table.
"What exactly do you think you're doing?" She asked angrily, not bothering to keep the contempt from her voice.
The girl with him smiled dazedly, humming some unrecognizable tune, and Kally suppressed the urge to stare her down. But the most infuriating thing was Potter himself.
He looked rather pleased, though she could not deduce why, since she was within half an inch of using the only hex she was capable of on him.
"Buying you a drink." He replied steadily, wiping at the mess she had made with a spare napkin.
"Oh?" She quipped sarcastically. "And why's that? So you could lace it with truth serum and interrogate me in that swarthy pub down the street? I must admit Potter, if that’s the case you're losing your touch."
She leaned down till their faces were level, using the table for balance. "After all..." She hissed quietly, ignoring the blonde's expression. "Why drug someone for information when you can just hex it out of them."
Potter continued wiping at the table, unable to meet her eyes.
Kally jumped ever so slightly, ignoring Potter's amused expression. She turned an eye on the blonde, who had just slammed her hands down on the table top like an excited four year old. The girl's protrubent blue eyes were now so wide they looked ready to pop out of her skull.
"Harry you wouldn't mind if I excused myself would you?" She said excitedly. "All this tension could attract an Ira, and I want to be in the best spot to see one."
Without waiting for an answer the girl stood, not noticing their identical expressions of bewilderment, and began shoving spare straws into her lime green purse, speaking in a far off voice.
"You can only see one in your peripheral vision you know. It's why daddy hasn't gotten a good picture of one yet, but I'd so love to see one..."
The girl marched off to the other side of the pub, turned to face the wall, and stared blankly at it. Kally caught a few glimpses of pale blue eyes flickering their way, and each time this would happen the blonde girl would grunt unhappily, stamp her foot, and resume staring at the wooden siding as if frustrated.
What the hell was that abo...
His intrusion brought her back to the situation at hand, and she narrowed her eyes shrewdly. "Ah your famous line." She whispered harshly. "So which personality do I get today Potter? Because really, this split personality thing is getting to be a bit of a headache."
Potter's eyes rose, meeting her own in a way she had thought the coward incapable of, and for a second his pleased look faltered. He blinked oddly, drawing in a deep, audible breath. "Kaylens..." He said quietly. "I tried to apologize for that once already, and it's a bit hard to explain, but I wasn't exactly myself when I did tha..."
Her eyes widened considerably. "Did it ever occur to you, in that thick skull of yours, that I might not give a damn whether you apologized or not?"
His expression fell, the damp napkin dropping with an audible thump. "After you stormed off that day by the lake, actually, yes. It did occur to me."
Trust him to bring that up, she thought angrily, quick to push back the uprising of shame within herself.
She swallowed hard. "Glad to see your not quite that oblivious Potter." She muttered, forcing her voice icy. "I would think by now that any fabricated apologies would be a mute point."
She felt more than heard him drawing in a deep, frustrated breath. Jut like she felt, more than saw him leaning closer to where she stood. "I wasn't lying to you when I said I was sorry for all of those other things Kaylens."
He spoke so seriously, too seriously for someone their age. "And I didn't even get the chance to apologize for the other night..." He continued, his Adam's apple rising rhythmically. "Since I didn't fancy getting decked again, I figured sending you a drink was the best apology I could come up with on short notice. At least the best one that could keep me a safe distance away, while getting you to come over here."
She arched an eyebrow disbelievingly, eyeing the mug a bit too carefully. "Oh? So you thought buying me a drink would make up for that then?" She mused allowed.
He began to shake his head in the negative but she cut him off, the full weight of his insulting, woefully inadequate gesture sinking in.
"Will you just sit with me so I can try and expla...."
Impulsively she snatched up the mug, expelling it's contents all over him, a sopping, frothing mess now staining the front of his shirt.
"That’s what I think of your pathetic apology." She muttered shakily. "Enjoy."
Harry sat there sputtering. Of all the ways he had seen that possibly playing out, this had not been one of them.
Sitting there, stunned and sopping wet, he felt too shocked to respond effectively.
Instead his eyes fell upon her delicate left hand, hanging limply at her side.
It was shaking.
Inside he felt a horrible, twisting sensation , recalling precisely why her hand shook thus. How could he have failed to notice before?
"That’s what I think of your pathetic apology." Kaylens snapped shakily. "Enjoy."
His mouth flapped wordlessly, his words never reaching her ears, for Madame Rosmerta's alarmed cry stole the words from his lips.
"Lara what are yo.." Rosmerta questioned shrilly. Her eyes were fixated in confusion upon the young waitress, the friendly one from whom he had ordered drinks earlier.
The same dimpled girl now had her wand drawn, a blank expression drawn upon her features, striking a horrifying similarity to a porcelain doll.
"Stupefy!" She hissed mechanically.
As if in slow motion, Rosmerta fell, her limp form disappearing behind the bar's wooden counter. The glass she had been cleaning took flight, hovering in mid-air for a small eternity, before breaking free of it's unearthly suspension, shattering across the counter.
For the first time in it's history, the Three Broomsticks fell silent. Only the howl of the October wind, leaking in through the windows, proved to him that he had not fallen into some horrific silent film.
The gentle chiming of bells broke his attention from where the porcelain girl stood, smiling cruelly down.
Ginny Weasley, floated slowly in, Professor Très following closely, their movements oddly halting.
Hours seemed to have passed, but the clock registered mere seconds.
Seeing Ginny's wand haltingly rise, her movements faltering, as if some invisible force were yanking her arm forcibly up against her will, was what finally broke him free of his slow motion reverie.
His blood ran cold at her blank expression.
"EVERYBODY DOWN!" He shouted, overturning the table. Liquid splattered, and their empty clay mugs had not even struck ground before the first green curse flew from Ginny's wand.
His own already drawn, he screamed a stunner, watching the killing curse miss Ron's dismayed face by inches.
Ginny side stepped easily, and Professor Très turned an eerie eye upon him.
"Kaylens move!" He hollered, but she did not need telling twice. She was already dropping down, covering her head as a slew of wooden shards whizzed by, an onslaught from the now smoldering chair before her.
A stunner grazed his ear, and his body jerked instinctively away from the heat, and in that single second he lost sight of her.
Somewhere in the dim background of his mind the screams of the other patrons began to register.
Less than a foot away from where he stood, a decorative pumpkin exploded, a poorly aimed stunner searing right through it, striking the wall. Stringy orange pulp and seeds erupted, hurtling outwards, covering the floor and himself with slippery orange clumps.
A red light flew from Très' wand, and he dove to the ground, sheltering behind the table as the curse blasted through it. The screams of other students could be heard, pleading with the Defense Professor.
Très could not hear their pleas, with his ear length hair flung over his eyes, his arm jerkily fired blindly at students, patrons, people...
Grabbing the side of the overturned, round table, Harry heaved it to the side, rolling it with all his strength, scrambling behind it like a rat until it hunkered to a halt. Unable to go any farther, for an unconscious body now blocked it's progress, he found the entrance to the bar in sight.
It ran the length of the pub, and Ginny and Très' backs were now to it. If he could just get behind it he'd have safe cover until he was right on them...
He dove for it, leaving the cover of his table behind, rolling across broken chair legs and glass until he came to a crouch behind it.
The waitress was hiding behind it as well, firing curses over the counter.
"Stupefy!" He whispered, letting the red light fly.
Her body went careening to the side, her wand flung from her grasp as she passed out next to Rosmerta's limp form.
He scampered down the length of it, snatching both their wands up, passing wine bottles, clean mugs, and storage areas as he went.
Reaching the end near the shade covered windows, he hastily pocketed the wands in his trousers, leaping to his feet, the disarming spell partially formed on his lips.
His words died there.
The jet of green light erupted from Ginny's wand like a volcano of death, less than an arm's length from where he stood.
Across the room Ron leapt to his feet, abandoning the temporary shelter of a overturned bench to dash to where Hermione and Luna fought unaided.
There was no time to think, to duck, to react.
The green light hit Ron mid-stride, flinging his body backwards against the wall.
Hermione's brown eyes widened, her mouth caught in a strangled, silent wail, and Luna only just pulled her to the ground before the next green spell whizzed by.
All was still.
The blank look of the Imperious curse faltered upon Ginny Weasley's face, unabashed pain replacing it for but a second.
The mask was re-erected, his own wand turning to her, tears of anger streaming down his face at what had been just done to the only brother and sisters he had ever had.
Before the disarming spell could leave his lips, a hard fist collided with his skull, sending the world blurring until it's hellish glory faded to black.
The sound of small feet, pattering in the rain, accompanied Emily's return. The sound of her quiet humming lingered like a breath of fresh air upon Tonks' ears.
The small child stepped out onto the pebbled path, quickly shutting her tiny umbrella before scurrying to huddle beneath Tonks'.
Tonks smiled uncertainly as Emily's tiny hand interlaced with her own. Why Emily was choosing the comfort of her, a stranger, over that of her father was puzzling to her. Kenneth would later on smile, informing her that she had a lot to learn about how children think.
But for now, Kenneth gave her a small, pained smile, before setting off across the soggy cemetery grass.
She had been right, he was a man of private mourning.
She adjusted the umbrella so the runoff would not drip onto the little princess' head, never noticing the thoughtful look that suddenly passed across Emily's tiny face.
Feeling the insistent tugging on her arm she looked down, two small brown eyes meeting her own. Emily looked rather pensive.
As Tonks inwardly wondered what one should say to a child who has just lost her mother, Emily spoke.
"Your friends are in trouble Nymph."
Le Règne d'Enfer Commence is French for The Reign of Hell Begins
Recommended Stories of the Week:
Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon by Edward Ollivander (He has a fabulous and creative 6th year fan fiction featuring a HP/GW pairing, and it is completed.)
Dark Tendencies by Two Sadists (They have a 7th year fan fiction featuring a HP/OC pairing.)
Photograph couresty of the previously mentioned public domain website. Accreditations can be found via my personal website.
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