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24 Hours Shichan Goddess Hour 16: Hour of Decisions “The truly brave are soft of heart and eyes, and feel for what their duty bids them do.” ~Lord Byron (1788-1824) Frigid, lifeless scarlet surveyed the room disdainfully, landing with disgust where the figures were huddled together in the damp room. Disregarding Lily completely, he stared past her and spoke to James, who had weakly pushed himself up onto his elbows. Lily’s mouth was hanging slightly open in shock, emerald orbs huge with surprise and terror. James was pale, but his mouth was a grim line of defiance and his eyes were hard. Oh, how Voldemort hated that defiance. Defiance in his eyes that would never die, no matter how tortured the body was. Voldemort was indeed looking forward to the moment in which that defiance would be snuffed out of that body. It was a pleasure that he would partake in *personally*. “You should be honored, Potter. It is quite rare that I spend so much time on any prisoner. But you…you are a special case. You shall be my public example to the wizarding community so they know exactly what will happen to those defy me. And then when I destroy the man he looks to as a son, then perhaps Dumbledore shall realize that he shall never win.” He smiled with pleasure then, if that’s what one could call the horrifying twist of lips that brought a cold jolt of fear through the prisoner’s spines. “No!” Startled out of his reverie, crimson eyes glanced at witch that was glaring at him, stubbornness written on her attractive features. She stood straight and tall, proudly looking at Voldemort in the eye. “No?” Voldemort drawled, staring at her with cold amusement. “I—I won’t let you!” She scooted a little bit closer to the battered form of the wizard that lay at her feet. In an instant, he was in front of her, and Lily took an involuntary step back in alarm. “And what, you naïve child, could you possibly do to stop me?” Lily regained her composure as she stared icily into Voldemort’s horrid face, putrid breath reaching her nostrils and decaying features meeting her eyes. Her fingers twitched for her wand that had been taken. Voldemort did not miss the action, and smirked at her, irking Lily with the sheer smugness of it all. “How about this, my little flower? I will be giving you both a choice. I will let you have the decision regarding your lives. You must choose which one of you shall live, and which one of you shall die. One will be the traitor and live; the other shall be the one who dies a miserable death as the,” Lips twisted into a sneer of disgust and faint amusement, “--hero. Which one will you choose?” ****************************************************************************** “Damn it, damn it, damn it!” Sirius cried, searching the darkened forest with desperation, cobalt eyes wild, and expression dark. “There’s nothing bloody here!” Remus sighed, running a hand through his hair as he stared up at the gray skies that threatened to break at any given moment. They had found nothing, it was true, and everyone was beginning to get a tad disheartened, for once the rain began, there would be nothing. The rain would wash away any footprints and scents that might have been left behind. Funny how something so essential to life and desired everywhere came exactly when and where it was not wanted. In general, Remus was one of those people who enjoyed rain. A person who enjoyed the pitter-patter of the droplets on the roof, the rumbling thunder and beautiful lightening, and then the gentle, clean scent afterwards that left the earth renewed. It washed away the earth’s troubles, washed away the sins of mankind. It reminded him that even the foulest of creatures could be cleansed spiritually. But he prayed now, with all his might, that the rain would indeed wait for another day. For if it rained, they were doomed. ****************************************************************************** Shocked silence filled the room as the two stared at him with unadulterated horror. “Well? Which one shall it be?” Voldemort hissed, glancing disinterestedly at them. “Hurry up now, this is an offer that shall expire soon if you don’t give me an answer.” Lily opened and closed her mouth a few times without sound, creating a remarkable resemblance to a fish. “I’ll do it.” Her voice was calm, unwavering, and resolute. “Let James go.” “Lily, no-!” Lily turned to James sharply, and hissed, “Shut it, you git! You’ve done all of *this*;” She gestured wildly, eyes hard and desperate, “--you’ve gone through all of this all for me! Please, please allow me to repay the favor! Don’t deny me this, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you took my place. Please James, *please*. I am ready to die, as any soldier should be, and I’ll die at peace, I’ll die willingly, if I know that you would live. Let me regain my honor, James. Let me go. I’m ready.” “But Lily!” “No! You have to understand, James. Please don’t make this any harder than it already is.” “But…” The words died on his lips, and he turned away in shame. When he spoke, it was in harsh, low tones that rasped his throat with emotion. “And what about me? How do you expect *me* to live, knowing I sent the girl I l-” he choked, “Knowing that I sent you to die? How?” “James. I’ve made up my mind. I hope you’ll understand one day.” She stooped over and gave him a light kiss on his brow, ruffling the silky black strands through her fingers. James was pale, silent. In a whisper, she added, “You were a good friend…thank you.” Lily turned to Voldemort, shoulders back with pride and determination. “I shall be the one to die. You will let James go.” Voldemort sneered at her, features malicious with perverse delight. “You have reached your decision then? Very well. Potter shall die.” “What?! No! But you said-” “Evans, you seem to have forgotten one very important detail. I AM LORD VOLDEMORT! You have condemned Potter to death with your sickening noble acts of courage.” James gave a cry of agony before he stiffened, petrified, a look of abject resignation frozen upon his face. He was hovering in mid-air, and was calmly floated towards the door. Lily gave a shriek of anger, adrenaline rushing through her veins as she lunged at the creature, but he only laughed, a chilling, bitter laugh, and she was suspended in mid-air, bound by invisible chains. “Now, now, Evans. Your time shall come.” And with a bang, the cell door slammed shut, and the chains lost their grip. She lunged at the door, staring through the little bars at the figures that were getting smaller and smaller. A cry of pain crawled up her throat, tears flooded her eyes and emotion clutched her breast, making it difficult to breathe. “James!” She sobbed, sinking to the floor. “Damn it, James…don’t go…please… don’t go…” ****************************************************************************** “Remus!” Sirius cried joyously. “Remus, get your skinny arse over here!” Remus sighed and jogged lightly over. “What is it now, Sirius?” “My good man, look at this!” Remus squinted at Sirius’ seemingly empty hands, searching for whatever had made Sirius beam so proudly. At last a bit of light caught upon the long crimson lock, and it glinted gold in the faint light. “By Merlin, is it--?” “Yes, you git, it is! Lily’s hair! It isn’t much, but at least we know that they were around this area.” Sirius set out, rejuvenated with hope, in search of any clues. And there—*there*! There was the faintest impression of footprints! “Come on, Moony! We’ll save them yet!” ****************************************************************************** They were probably dead. At least, that’s what Peter told himself. It was of little use to dwell on and mourn their passing when it was he who had condemned them to that fate. And Remus and Sirius…they were most likely scouring the entire forest for a clue, a hint, *anything*. But Peter knew that they wouldn’t find it. Idly, he entertained the notion of helping them find the lair, helping them defeat Voldemort— But the thought was quickly banished from his mind as reality set in. Voldemort would kill him if he double-crossed him, and it would not be a pleasant death. Peter was not ready to make such a decision so that his own skin would be at risk. He had learned one thing in this entire bloody war. Make no ties, no true loyalties until you were sure which side was strongest, which one was sure to win. Survival of the fittest. And Peter would do anything—*anything* to make certain that he was the fittest. ****************************************************************************** Oh, wasn’t this just peachy? James was rather frustrated as of late because of the sheer and utter helplessness he had felt in the past few hours. He was completely immobile, suspended in the air at the mercy of Voldemort with dark blobs—Death Eaters, he presumed, as he squinted a bit, flanking his sides. He was marching, rather—floating, to the gallows, and there was little he could do about it. He had believed that he had banished the fear of dying from his mind, but there was still that twinge of fright, soon pushed down and replaced instead by grim determination. How life had changed since the days of Hogwarts. In Hogwarts, up to his fifth year, everything had been about himself, and only himself. He was a naïve moron, and life seemed so rich back then. He was untouchable. Death was a concept, a theory, that did not apply to himself. He had had a rather rude awakening. A lot had changed since those times. He knew, with utter certainty that was to die, and felt only two emotions—determination and remorse. Grim determination because if he was to die, then he would die like a man *should* die. His back would be straight and his features proud. Remorse because of all the things that he would never be able to do, of things that he would never be able to *say*. There was so much left, but he supposed that time waited for no one. He had missed his one and only chance, and it was gone. Never to return. But he accepted his fate, more or less. He was going to die, but he was going to die fighting. He would die with honor. ****************************************************************************** “Damn it, damn it, damn it!” Lily growled, pounding on the door angrily. “You can’t die on me Potter, not until I say I’m sorry!” She had screamed herself hoarse, calling for help, for justice, and then, when that did not work, cursing Tom Riddle’s ancestry in rather creative, ludicrous ways. She pounded on the door more slowly now, her head leaning upon the hard wood, resting. Her hands were bleeding with splinters, but still she persisted. “No, no, no—” Clink. She stopped, and froze, before she hissed, in absolute amazement, “-yes.” The door creaked open slowly. In the distance, a pale figure slinked back into the shadows, his dark Death Eaters robes caressing the darkness. And in his hands, there was a glint of silver as the light caught upon the cell’s keys. A/N: Thank you ever so much for the lovely reviews! Special thanks to Boe, who has been a consistent and amazing reviewer! ^_^

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