author's note - Well, this is story about the first war against Voldemort and for about the nexty twenty chapters or so there will be a blend of sorrow (I don't classify this as angst), violence, occasional humor and happiness. Every character that dies in this story dies for a reason and if you stick it out, you'll find out that there is actually a happy ending....for nearly everyone. Thank you for reading. Chapter Thirteen: Amelia Strong had never known such fear. Three of them were still behind her, pounding through the woods, searching. Her heart raced and she had the dreadful feeling she was going to be sick. She could still smell the burning flesh in the air. She looked around wildly, there had to be a way to hide. No one could apparate because of the spell Remus has placed in the graveyard by the tiny village. It was a spell given to him by Dumbledore, it was nearly impossible to break. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, it increased their chances of finally apprehending a Death Eater and perhaps learning more about Voldemort’s plans. Her face was bleeding where it had been scratched by the branches she plowed through desperate for safety. “Crucio!” She heard a man shout behind her and she could have sworn she knew the voice. She flung herself sideways behind a tree, and saw the red spell strike in front of her. She stuck her wand out and shouted: “Protego!” It ought to buy her some more time but Amelia knew how much trouble she was in, she wasn’t a good dueler. God alone knew where Remus, Sirius, Alice and James were. She’d seen what had happened to Timothy and the memory made bile rise up in her throat. Remus had wanted her to go with him to the mausoleum, the reported headquarters of one of a group of Death Eaters but she had chosen to remain behind. She had even laughed and told him that she could protect herself. She’d seen the uncertainty in his face and it had been pride, cursed pride that made her insist that she remain with Timothy. She would be perfectly safe, she had said, her chin raised in defiance. Besides, what could happen to her here? Remus had looked concerned but with a final warning to stay hidden until he gave the all clear, he had left with the others. She had emerged into the open when she’d heard his voice calling her name. Relieved, she had heaved herself out from cover and found herself facing five Death Eaters. Even through the mask, she had seen the mad glint in the eye of the grinning man that had his wand pointed at his own throat. She had been tricked. She hadn’t waited for the password. She might have died right then had it not been for Timothy Ferngrow, who had disobeyed orders and leapt from the safety of his hiding place and managed to stun two of them before a tall figure had gotten him. “He’s no use, we need the girl.” The man with the familiar voice had said. “Kill him.” Amelia had thought she was frozen to the spot, paralyzed with fear. “Incendio!” Cried one of the Death Eaters, it had been a woman’s voice, shrill and insane. To Amelia’s absolute horror Timothy had burst into flames before her eyes. That had done it. That had shocked Amelia back to life and with Tim’s screams still ringing in her ears she had pointed her wand at the DeathEaters and shouted: “Stagnatum!” It was a weak spell but it would effect all three of them at least, make it difficult for them to move for a few moments. It was the best she could do with the sight of Timothy engulfed in flames right before her eyes. She’d turned and fled. Up until then the patrols had been going well, whoever their informant was they were reliable. Although there had been seven more raids by the Death Eaters, the Order had managed to intercept two and had saved the lives of the people who had been targeted. Now they were safely hidden in another town, with a secret keeper they trusted to protect their location. The wizards and witches who had been killed all had one thing in common they were either Aurors, or the family members of Aurors. Voldemort was targeting those trained against the Dark Arts first but they all knew that others were in danger. Amelia’s eyes searched the forest, and saw that there was a clearing off to the side in one area. If she could make it there, perhaps she would be able to apparrate back to headquarters and get help. She had to try. :::::::::: Inside the mausoleum James stooped and examined the evidence. There were spell books instructing the Death Eaters on mind control. By prowling through the room carefully, sometimes on hands and knees as Sirius and Remus stood guard at the door James and Alice had found the protected areas, the scrolls of parchment. “Hurry up and figure out the counterspell, Alice.” Remus felt tense and could not explain why. “I’m trying my best.” Alice hissed and tried once again to break through the magical barrier that kept them inches away from the scrolls. If they could be decoded, the Order might have a list of who was being targeted, perhaps even why. Or plans, or any piece of information. Anything would help. The sweet-faced girl looked grimly determined as she finally broke through the incantation. “Got it!” She cried happily. The sounds of screaming filled the air. Screams and an unpleasant smokey odor. Without wasting a moment, they grabbed the parchment and sprinted back towards the rendezvous. “Oh my God, what is that?” Remus Lupin had stared at the flaming pile on the ground. It was twitching and writhing about. “Timothy!” Alice screamed and as she tried to run to him, James Potter caught her and held her firmly. She beat against him futilely with her fists. “Timothy, no, oh no…how? They were hidden, they were so well hidden.” She was sobbing, her throat aching with the acrid smoke she was inhaling. Sirius Black pointed at two unmoving mounds nearby. “Someone got two of them, knocked them out cold.” He too felt as if he were going to throw up, he’d never smelled anything worse in his life. “Where the hell is Amelia?” Remus said in a near panic. James looked towards the forest, broken branches clearly marked her path. Poor Amelia, she had chosen the only route of flight, but she had left a trail as easy to follow as breadcrumbs in doing so. “Sirius, get Alice and one of these DeathEaters back to headquarters now. Remus and I have to find Amelia. Remus, take the anti-apparation spell off of here.” James had no idea when he had become so used to giving orders. “Which one?” Sirius asked, still unbelievably sick to his stomach. “Your pick. Make sure you bind them well though.” Sirius flicked his wand and bonds shot out onto both of the prone DeathEaters. He grabbed the closest one and ripped of his hood. He gasped. The man before him was the father of Patrick Grupp, one of the Hufflepuff students. “What the devil?” Not all DeathEaters came out of Slytherin obviously. Remus removed the spell his blood running so fast in his veins he could feel his pulse in his temple. “James, we can’t apparrate to where she is….” “Because we don’t know where she is…” James finished miserably. “We’ll have to follow the trail and for mercy’s sake be careful Remus, there could be any number of Death Eaters in those woods.” Remus met James’s eye but looked quickly away. They both knew that Amelia Strong was as good as dead but they began to follow her trail, safety dictating that they could not proceed in a headlong rush. They had to check carefully for Voldemort’s followers as they went. Remus tried not to count the passing seconds that he knew were bringing Amelia’s death closer and closer. Would they burn her alive too? Why would someone choose such a cruel method? To revel in the pain it caused, Remus realized. He proceeded with as much haste as he dared. :::::::::: He had to think. There had to be something that he could do. Severus Snape ran through the forest chasing the Strong girl. He had thought his plan was brilliant. He had leaked information to a spot where he would be that very evening, thereby hopefully throwing all suspicion off of him when it came to the Dark Lord. It had all gone horribly wrong though. He had planned to take Grupp with him when he went on their nightly search of the graveyard but he hadn’t anticipated the alarm Bellatrix had put in place. As soon as the members of the Order had entered the graveyard, a high pitched squeal had announced their presence. The four Death Eaters plus Severus had at first scattered but then come together again. Montague had overheard the instructions to Strong and Ferngrow. He’d sent up the green sparks that told the Death Eathers where to pounce. The damned Order members hadn’t been able to see the sky from where they were hiding. Montague and Bellatrix were still with him, and it was obvious that Strong couldn’t fight well. Montague spotted her and sent the Crucio curse flying, but the girl had managed to duck it. Her Protego spell had shot uselessly into a tree. Now they were closing in on her and there was nothing Snape could do. ::::::::::: Just as Amelia made a break for the meadow, someone had launched at her, pinning her with veritable ease to the ground. She struggled with all her might, kicking out with her long legs, trying to gouge at the eyes behind the mask. Her wand had been knocked from her hand when the tall man had struck her. “That’s right, fight Strong.” The Death Eater laughed. “Montague!” Amelia screamed, recognizing his voice at last. “Filthy worm, associating with Mudbloods, halfbreeds, and scum.” He kicked her viciously in the stomach. “Now, now Montague,” Bellatrix’s voice was terrifying. “The little warrior won’t be able to talk, if she can’t get her breath.” They had all tried to apparate when the alarm had sounded, they knew they were blocked. Snape sent a Crucio curse flying at Amelia but had deliberately missed by inches he had hoped to keep stalling but this too had gone wrong. “That’s it, that’s it.” Bellatrix said in approval. “We know how to do this.” She pulled Amelia to her knees by her hair and crooned, “Crucio.” With her wand pointed directly into the terrified girl’s face. Strong screamed and blood began to seep from her nose. ::::::: The pain was unbelievable. Amelia knew she wouldn’t be able to take it for long. “Crucio.” The mad woman cursed her again. Amelia felt her shoulder separate but was thankfully unaware that blood was pouring from her ears. She gasped in agony. “More to come, little warrior.” The woman laughed. “Tell, us…tell us where your headquarters is, we need things from there. We need certain people.” Then she laughed. “Out of luck.” Amelia managed to gasp. “I think not.” The woman answered and blasted Amelia in the stomach this time. Strong was brave but as she knew her resistance was wearing down quickly. This spell wouldn’t kill her it would break her soon. She came to a decision. :::::::: James and Remus both heard Amelia screaming, and the eerie echo of mad laughter. “Over there!” Remus hissed to James, “Move!” But James was sure that they would never get there in time. :::::::: Snape couldn’t look. Amelia was writhing in agony, screaming but there was nothing he could do. If he saved her, he would deprive Dumbledore of his inside information. “Hurry up you fools!” Snape thought as sweat trickled down his brow, thinking of the members of the Order that he knew would be coming. :::::::: “Montague, Montague. How lovely to see you. Pity you have to hide behind a mask. Face still green?” Amelia taunted, her voice coming in gasps. “Shut up, filth.” Montague snapped. “I’m filthy am I? That’s not what Sirius said about your sheets, have trouble keeping some of your parts clean?” Amelia was terrified and shocked by the words that came out of her mouth. “Crucio!” The woman screamed again and Amelia howled in agony. There were very faint sounds coming from the forest now. Twigs snapping, branches being pushed aside but Amelia could not hear them. “Hurry!” Snape yelled, in spite of himself but Bellatrix and Montague both thought he was talking to them. Amelia had recovered enough to talk again. “He’ll lose, Montague.” She sneered. “He’ll lose and what will you be? Just another foul Slytherin who can’t wipe his own…” “Crucio!” Montague shouted. Blood poured from Amelia’s nose now, it wouldn’t be long. But Montague’s spell was much weaker than the woman’s. “Can’t do any better than that, you impotent, useless….” Montague completely lost his head. “Impotent? I’ll show you impotent.” “Adava Kedavra!” He yelled and shot a jet of green light into Amelia’s chest. She gasped once, and was still. “You fool!” Bellatrix screamed. “We could have broken her!” “The clearing, now!” Snape shouted desperately, the Order members were nearly there. “We can apparrate from there.” “We can fight whoever’s coming.” Bellatrix said eagerly. “Yes and risk this idiot losing his head again?” Snape snarled. Bellatrix considered for a brief second. “Run.” She said simply. All three turned and ran with a pop, they were gone. :::::::::::: Oh God, what had they done to her? James wondered as he stared down at the body of Amelia Strong. Her face was covered in blood. He reached her before Remus did. Bending swiftly her tried to find a pulse in her neck but she was gone. “Don’t Remus! We were too late.” James said trying to restrain his friend who knocked him aside. Pulling Amelia’s tall frame towards him and into his lap, Remus wiped the blood from her face with the sleeve of his robe. In death she had a triumphant smile on her face. He knew she had died without betraying them. James Potter turned away for a moment so as not to interrupt his friends tears. He wanted to be sensitive to his pain, but the danger was still very real. At any moment they could be surrounded. “Grab hold of her and let’s go.” James said. “We’ll take her back to headquarters.”
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