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“Did she tell you she had to go see him?” Sirius asked as he lay in bed, still far too uncomfortable to try and get out, though pressing matters might force him to.

Remus shook his head. “I don’t know if she told anyone. She just told Bridget she was going to the library, and that those who need to know would know what that meant.”

“Surely she told Dumbledore,” Peter put in, sitting at the end of Sirius’s bed for the meeting.

“I don’t think so. She did something last night that she didn’t want him to know about. I don’t think they’re quite as peachy right now as they usually are.”

“But un-peachy enough that she wouldn’t give him a head’s up?” James posed disbelievingly. “That doesn’t sound like Kristen, she’s smarter than that.”

“No, she did something really bad. She wouldn’t tell Dumbledore to save her life because she’d no longer be the golden girl.” Sirius told them, at a loss of what to do. He felt like he should tell Dumbledore, but he wasn’t sure how much trouble this would get her in. It was one thing to be mad at her enough to pull her down the stairs with him, it was another to get her kicked out of the Order and right into Voldermort’s clutches.

“What can be that bad?” James scoffed. “What’d she do, murder someone?”

Sirius shrugged. “Not yet, but she got the ball rolling so that she could.”

James’s mouth dropped in surprise, along with Peter’s, but Remus quickly put that to an end. “Sirius, your flair for dramatics is stopping us from getting any real answers. Just tell us why she would be with Voldermort tonight, and why she didn’t tell anyone.”

“Can’t, sorry. Merlin only knows why she blathered to me about it, but I don’t think she wanted me to tell anyone else.”

“She could die, and you’re just worried about her asking you to keep it a secret?” Remus asked angrily.

“She could have died a ton of times before this too, but she always came out fine. Give her until morning guys, she’ll be fine.” Sirius tried to persuade them. Remus and James still looked particularly nervous, so he continued, “Look, she probably did tell Dumbledore. You know Krissie, she never hides anything from him for long.” A lie on most occasions, but hopefully this time it wasn’t.

Remus, James, and Pete eventually calmed down enough to go to bed. It took Sirius a few hours to convince himself to believe his own words, but eventually he was able to pass into a fitful sleep, his mind so eager for morning that his dreams dragged by, one monotonous story after another. He was grateful when Remus shook him awake, for the sun was shining brilliantly through his window. He could go to her room and see that she was safe, and then get back to his vow of silence against her.

That plan ended quickly.

“She’s not back. Lily said she hasn’t been seen at all since nine o’clock last night.” Remus said, ashen faced.

“Why aren’t you in Dumbledore’s office then?” Sirius demanded to know, jumping out of bed and hurriedly grabbing for jeans and a sweater.

“Lily left a couple minutes ago to find him. Do you know at all where she could be?”

“Voldermort always changes his lair, he could be anywhere with her!”

“Why are you yelling?” James complained as he pulled the covers over his head.

“Kristen’s missing,” Remus informed him.

For a moment, James did nothing, and he remained hidden in his cocoon of covers. They suddenly went flying off him and he nearly broke his glasses and he grabbed for them. “Missing? What do you mean, missing?”

“As is no where to be found you idiot!” Sirius told him, sprinting for the stairs now that he was fully clothed. Remus was right on his heels as he ran as he never had before to Dumbledore’s office. He nearly ran into Lily, who was having quite the argument with the gargoyles who refused to let her through. “Sugar Quils! Cockroach Clusters! Chocolate Frogs! Bertie Bott’s! Fizzing Wizzbees! Cauldron Cakes!”

He wasn’t sure which one did it, but the statues sprang apart and the stairs began to spiral upward. They couldn’t go fast enough for him, every second was an eternity in which Kristen was being tortured or even laying dead in some destroyed house.

He was about halfway up when he heard the voices. Loud, quarreling shouts, that reverberated through the stair case. He didn’t care what they were doing with Dumbledore, he had one mission at that moment, and nothing was going to stop him.

He burst through the door, startling a few people, but most kept shouting at one another. “Kristen is gone!” Sirius shouted, elbowing his way to Dumbledore’s desk. “She’s missing! Kristen is missing!”

Dumbledore quickly turned away from Moody and turned to the three sixth years in front of him. “When was she last seen?”

“Last night, around 9:30.” Lily answered.

“We think she went to meet Voldermort,” Remus supplied next.

“Are you sure?” Moody growled, putting his hands on the edge of Dumbledore’s desk and leaning forward to get a better look at the distressed teenagers.

“Bridget said that last night she had a piece of paper she referred to as her ‘death warrant’ and then she left, only telling her that she was going to the library, but making it very obvious that that was supposed to be code for something,” Lily rattled off.

“She may not be with Tom at all,” Dumbledore said calmly. “Perhaps she got up early and is in the owlery or another part of the school.”

“She wasn’t in the dorm all night!” Lily fought back.

“And I suppose you kept awake the entire time?” Moody inquired, looking bored with them already. “St. Claire knows to come to us before a meeting. She has to change her hair, her eyes…she didn’t do that last night. Besides, we’re not going to waste our resources finding an errant girl when we’ve have multiple Death Eater marchers throughout the country.”

“Then I’ll find her,” Sirius said decidedly, turning to leave. Andy grabbed his arm before he could, looking more than a little concerned.

“I know, as a fellow Black, that it’s hard to be rational sometimes, but please consider it.” She asked of him. “Let us deal with this crisis, and then, if you haven’t found Kristen within the school, we’ll send aurors out looking for her.”

“We don’t have time for you to deal with a crisis!” Remus shouted, at wit’s end. “She could be dead, and you want us to just sit around?”

“I want you to make sure she is not in the school, or perhaps even in Hogsmeade,” Dumbledore attempted to placate them as well. “There is no reason for us to believe she is with Tom at this moment. She had a meeting the night before last; there is never so short an interval between. If you do not find her by three, go to Professor McGonagall.”

“Are you leaving,” Remus asked Sirius as they angrily left the Headmaster’s office with Lily.

“Yeah, you coming?”

“Of course. James and Pete will want to as well I imagine.”

“You can’t!”

Sirius raised an eyebrow at Lily. “Watch me flower child. I don’t give a damn what Dumbledore wants, I’m not going to let her die!”

She rolled her eyes. “I mean you can’t all leave. You and Potter are so loud, one of the professor’s will realize you are missing if you both are gone, even if it is Sunday. You need to stay Sirius, cover for the others. Dumbledore will be the most concerned about you anyways.”

“She’s got a point.” Remus said.

Sirius stopped in his tracks. “No! I have to find her! I don’t care if anyone finds out I left.”

Lily was quite ready to fight back, but Remus gently stopped her as Sirius stormed ahead of them. “If there is any subject Sirius will not bow down on, it’s her. He’s going to go, whether we want him to or not.”

“Look, you know as well as I do that he should not go because of that very reason. He’s liable to get himself killed more than you or Potter or even Peter.”

“That’s why we have to go with him.”

Lily contemplated his words for a moment. “I’ll try and cover for you as best I can then. I’ll at least keep an eye of her sisters; they’ll want to go too if they find out.”

Remus only nodded, his nerves starting to build. He was not ready to go look for a hoard of Death Eaters, or to see Kristen dead, which seemed a likely outcome at this point.

“Do not be ridiculous Mr. Black! I will find her, you stay here!”

“No way in Hell!”

McGonagall and Sirius were sparing next to the common room door, James and Peter close by. “Sirius, I agree with you, we must find her, now. I will get all the members the Order can spare.”

“So you and two others are going to roam the country looking for her?” Sirius scoffed.

“Sirius, listen to her. We’re sixteen! What would we do once we found her, battle it out with Merlin knows how many death eaters?” James asked him. He had known to go the McGonagall, because through everything Kristen had told them, McGonagall was usually the one that cared the most for her well being. He had known it would mean he wouldn’t be able to leave, but he had to face facts. He was not an adult. More importantly, he was not an adult in the Order, a group of people that knew what to do when faced with a Death Eater.

“What are you going to do? Hold me captive in some room until you find her dead?”

“If I have to, I will.” McGonagall said menacingly. “However, you can do this the easy way. Stay here today. If we don’t find her, then you can come with us. You are an Order member after all, that is your right.”

“I’m an Order member, exactly. I have every right to go now!” Sirius pressed.

“What is it going to be Sirius? Do I need to keep you under the watch of Pringley all day as you scrub down the floors, or are you willing to stay here and make sure she is not simply on the grounds or within the castle?”

Sirius breathed deeply, for once realizing that he was fighting a losing battle. “Can I just go with you?” He pleaded. “I’ll go mad if I just stay here all day!”

“Don’t you think maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves?” Peter put forth, looking unsure of himself as he faced down the five people who were about to face death for an unsure notion. “She didn’t say anything to anyone. She probably went to the room last night and hasn’t woken up yet.”

“Precisely as Mr. Pettigrew said,” McGonagall concurred. “Search the castle. When you’re done, go to Professor Slughorn.”

“This is so stupid,” Sirius grumbled as they made their way to the room of requirement. “She wouldn’t do this to us.”

“Maybe she just fell asleep. It’s only eight after all.” Peter was sticking by his assumption.

“She doesn’t usually get up until ten or so,” Lily added, suddenly unsure of her own position.

Remus understood their train of thought, and for a moment, he toyed with it himself. But it all came down to what she had told Bridget, that she was holding her death warrant. “I’ll go on the grounds.” He decided. “It’s stupid for us all to go together. The sooner we finish this, the sooner you can go to Slughorn.”

They split up, each agreeing to meet at noon in the great hall before proceeding to Slughorn. Sirius was in charge of the library and any rooms around it, as it was the area with the most professors lurking about. The hours were agonizing. He wanted nothing more than to abandon this futile search and go. He knew the chance of finding her was slim, but he had to do something.

The clock was edging towards half past eleven with no results. He was getting increasingly antsy, which was saying something indeed. He was about ready to make a run for it, until two Slytherins got in his way.

“Thank Merlin we found you!” Belle breathed, his face flushed from an apparent sprint. Regulus looked just as out of breath.

“Why?” Sirius asked, instantly on alert. He should have known to go them first, they would have way more information than anyone else in the school. “Do you know something about Kristen?”

“Ranulf told us that there are rumors going around that she…” Belle faltered and looked to Regulus to finish.

“She what?” Sirius demanded, the blood quickly rushing from his face.

“That she killed someone last night, and all these raids are some sort of sick celebration,” Regulus finished.

“That one’s a lie!” Belle exclaimed, glaring coldly at Regulus. “That was one rumor that’s going through the Death Eaters. The other is that she’s dead and the raids are the other Death Eaters celebrating that!”

“Which would you rather believe?” Regulus shot back.

Sirius, whose heart had momentarily stopped at the mention of her killing someone, now hammered wildly at the prospect that she was gone. “So you’re telling me she’s either alive or she killed someone?”

“I know, both sound far fetched,” Regulus conceded. “For all we know, it’s neither. What we know for sure is, Lucius took Kristen to the Dark Lord last night, and she never came out of that room, but Voldermort did, and he ordered every Death Eater onto the raids.”

“How do you get anything out of that?” Sirius asked, his heart slowing only marginally.

Belle pushed a piece of hair behind her ear in obvious frustration, a habit she shared with her two sisters. “That’s just it, we don’t know. No one has seen her or the Dark Lord since then. Ranulf thought you should know, so he told me, as that wouldn’t raise as much suspicion.”

“That pretty boy is the one feeding you information?” Sirius lashed out. “He’s probably the one that killed her!”

“Winston’s not bad guy,” Regulus tried to convince him.

Sirius was done listening at that point. He had all the information he needed. Kristen was with Voldermort, he could stop this idiotic search of the castle and get to real matters. Slughorn’s office seemed impossibly far away, but he managed to span the distance in only a few minutes. He burst through the door, exclaiming, “He has her! I know he has her!”

Slughorn did not look up from the potion that was simmering before him. “Minerva is already out looking for her.”

“You should go too then!” Sirius protested, slamming the book shut that Slughorn was reading from. “Don’t just sit here while she gets tortured!”

Slughorn sighed heavily at the thought that he was going to have to pull away from his potion, a particularly valuable one at that. “My job is to stay here, with you, and all the other students while the Headmaster is away.”

Slughorn simply looked at the sixth year as Sirius stared him down. After a few moments, Sirius turned around, ready to leave, no matter what any teacher told him. However, the moment he tried to step through the door way, he instantly rebounded off of it. “Let me out!” Sirius demanded.

Slughorn said nothing, but began searching for his spot in his book. Once again, Sirius slammed it shut to garner his attention. “You can not hold me captive here!”

“I don’t want to hold you captive,” Slughorn recaptured his book. “I would like you to help me with this potion. It’s rather hard to complete alone…”

“My best friend might be dead!” Sirius tried to bore that one simple fact in his dead as he leaned threateningly across the table.

“Imagine her shame then, if you were to die while out looking for her.”

He was ready to try and storm out again, but the moment he made to stand up he found himself stuck to the table. “Slughorn, you’re a bastard!”

Slughorn began humming a festive tune as he added ingredients, gleefully ignoring Sirius’s battering of insults. He had had little hope Sirius would be cooperative when McGonagall informed him of her plan. Therefore, he had been forward thinking. After half an hour of continuous yelling though, even someone as good natured as he could no longer take it.

“Silencio,” He irritable waved his wand, and reveled in the immediate silence that followed.

“We’ll find him later! Come on, he said come here at noon.”

Slughorn was hoping the newest additions to their group would be a little more cooperative. “Ah Mr. Potter. I trust you were looking for Mr. Black?”

“Padfoot, why did you come without us?” James asked, momentarily confused, but then quickly went back to what was important. “We didn’t find Kristen; she’s nowhere to be seen.”

“Yes, Mr. Black informed me already,” Slughorn told them calmly. “Now, if you four could just sit until Professor McGonagall returns then we can begin a more heavily manned search.”

“Sit? You want us to sit?” Remus asked heatedly.

And that’s how it came that five silent teenagers were stuck to the table in front of them. Hours passed in silence as his potion came to fruition. At some point, they all stopped shouting soundless insults. Every few minutes, Sirius would shoot a particularly nasty glare at him, but other than that, there was little noise save Slughorn’s gay humming.

It was nearing five o’clock when McGonagall appeared in his classroom. The students were all slumped down in the seats Slguhorn had generously sat behind them. Lily and Peter had been granted their voice back, but they were using their freedom to reaffirm their anger and refused to speak to him. “Had to resort to plan B Horace?”

“They gave me no choice,” Slughorn said easily, giving one swift stir to his potion before pulling it off the fire with a broad smile. “I take it you found nothing.”

“We didn’t expect to,” She sighed heavily, the two witches with her gratefully sitting upon two unoccupied chairs. “England may not be the biggest country in the world, but it is quite large nevertheless.”

“He hasn’t let us move since noon!” Lily loudly complained. “We could have been out helping, yet we’ve all been stuck to a bloody table!”

“Language Miss Evans,” McGonagall chided out of habit. The wrinkles around her eyes seemed more pronounced than usual as she looked at them. “I only agreed that Mr. Black may go, as he has already sworn himself to the Order.”

James, who had perked up upon her entrance, began his battery of silent insults once more. His face was almost instantly red from sheer anger at what she was proposing. “McGonagall, please! I love her just as much as Sirius, I deserve to go!” Lily protested, tears rimming her eyes from desperation.

“No.” McGonagall stood firm. She took out her wand and removed the spells she knew Slughorn had preset in the likely instance that they would become uncontrollable that had been put on Sirius.

He gratefully straitened his back, arching it as five long hours of stress was released. “I hate you,” He told Slughorn spitefully before turning to his head of house. “If it makes any difference, they should go. They could really help.”

“Sirius, I feel awful enough putting you in a Death Eater’s path. I could not bare to do it to four more of my students. I would refuse to take you if I didn’t know that you four know her so well, I don’t doubt you won’t be able to feel her very presence. At the very least, she might try and reach out for someone else’s conscience. She’ll lock onto a familiar one.”

Sirius looked at James. He hated leaving him behind. James was the unquestionable leader, it didn’t feel right. Besides, it was like Lily said, they loved her just as much as he did, albeit, it was in a much different way. But if it was one of them or none, he knew what decision they would all support.

“Hope you ready for the wrath of the Marauders,” Sirius warned Slughorn, ready to do what he had to save her.

“Be safe Padfoot,” Peter implored him.

He could only nod, knowing that nothing about looking for Voldermort was safe.

“Step quickly Mr. Black, for if we run into the Headmaster things will not be good for your cause.”

“He still doesn’t believe it?” Sirius asked in shock.

“He knows that she is missing, but he would not agree to you going,” one of the witches clarified, looking like she just might agree with him.

“Hestia, stop it,” the other witch chided. “Dumbledore is being a fool. Kristen is our greatest tool and the youngest and most fragile of us. The fact that he didn’t send everyone out at first light to find her is abhorrent.”

“Sorry Kennedy, but they were a little busy with all the muggle killings, which we should have been helping to stop!”

“Be quiet,” McGonagall told them harshly.

The cold corridors were so stuffed with the tension of the day, that their footsteps hardly disturbed the silence. Sirius could feel his heart becoming stiff again. He felt cowardly. He should be thinking of nothing but making her safe, and yet he was concerned with his own fear. He wanted nothing more than to kill those vile Death Eaters that dared to touch her, but he could not help but think of what it would be to face them.

“The Keep,” McGonagall said as they excited the Hogwarts grounds. Hestia and Kennedy nodded and promptly disappeared. “Hold tight,” she told him, a small smile upon her lips. She wrapped her arms around him, as if giving a bear like hug, and then apparated them both to a dingy hut, cluttered with bits of parchment here and there.

“You know he never frequents a head quarters more than once,” Kennedy reminded her.

“I don’t want to find him; I don’t think any of us are ready for that. However, it may be in use by a Death Eater he favors that could give us information.”

“Won’t it look strange, that we’re looking for her so fervently?” Sirius asked, suddenly contemplating what it would mean if they were to burst through the doors of a Death Eater stronghold.

Kennedy smiled knowingly. “Exactly. She knew the risks when joining, she needs to get out herself.”

“We’re hoping he’ll believe we value her solely as a missing student. He knows Dumbledore would do anything for one of you.” McGonagall answered, her reasoning far more agreeable that Kennedy’s.

“We might as well go look so we can move onto the next house,” Hestia sighed, opening the door to harsh wilderness.

“Are you nervous Sirius?” McGonagall asked him quietly as they began their journey.

He nodded, unable to speak from the nerves that enveloped him.

“If it makes you feel better, I was very nervous the first time I faced one of them. Keep in mind, this was before their formidable reputation. I was scared simply of the fight. You are very intelligent though, and you obviously care a great deal for her. As long as you are fighting for something good, you can not go wrong.” She smiled at him, the kindest, most loving smile he had ever seen from her. “We most likely won’t find anything. Like Kennedy said, he –

“Minerva!” Hestia said in complete shock, standing at the edge of the hill. Sirius and McGonagall trotted up to meet her and see what had put her in such a complete trance.

There were dead and bloodied bodies surrounding the house, a sort of human moat. At least a hundred, perhaps more. There were men and women, young and old, no discrimination was made.

“We need the Order,” Hestia breathed, unable to rip her eyes from the scene in front of her.

“This could be our one chance to get information. We can not storm them, even with all the aurors. Obviously, they have a much larger number than he originally assumed. We need to get in and get out quickly.” McGonagall countered, looking very nearly sick.

“No way am I going in there!” Kennedy began retreating. Her eyes were wide in terror at the very thought, and who could blame her? It had always been known his followers were evil, but not this barbaric.

“I’ll go,” Sirius volunteered, gratefully numb to the situation. What he had seen had shocked him so much, that he was having an entirely out of body experience, for which he was grateful. “In and out, I can do that.”

“Absolutely not.”

“Why not Minerva?” Kennedy pressed. “He’s in the Order, and he wants to do it. Let him.”

“He’s a minor and not thinking rationally.” She stood firm. “I’m not letting him any where near anyone who would dare to do this sort of sick sacrifice.”

As they stood bickering among themselves, Sirius schemed. He knew Kristen was in there, he just had to figure out how to get to her.

*   *   *

I think that was the first chapter without Kristen in it... which kind of made it difficult to write. I'm so used to her perspective, that it made it feel a little weird.
So, I think I am going to go ahead and move the rating up. There is nothing in this chapter that would require, except maybe that rather disturbing image of a human moat, sorry about that one, so I haven't gotten around to it. I'll try and get the next one out as soon as possible!

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