So stay away from me, the beast is ugly
I feel the rage and I just can't hold it
-Monster, by Skillet
I feel the rage and I just can't hold it
-Monster, by Skillet
Flashes of light, blurs of color, bodies either rushing by too fast to see or lying perfectly still on the ground; that’s all there is. It’s difficult to hope that it’s not all there will ever be. I don’t even know where Bill is, let alone whether or not he’s all right. Would I feel something if he wasn’t? If he died, would some part of my soul detect his leaving the world, and rip itself out of me to follow him?
I think that’s how it should work, but I won’t bet any galleons or the safety of my husband that it does.
Beauxbatons did not believe in teaching its students about dark things like war and how to survive one. Only children in their final year learned anything more than pure defensive spells; our Ministry decided it was not ‘proper’ to teach any under-age witches and wizards curses that could be used for ill will. It did not occur to them to think that perhaps someday, it might be useful to know how to fight an enemy who would not care whether it was proper to use the most foul magic imaginable.
Everything I know, I learned from the Order. Bill mentored me, patient and kind and caring as I struggled with a branch of magic I was unfamiliar with. He helped me hone and perfect spells we only touched on in Beauxbatons, showed me some that would make our Defense professor faint. Once, he allowed me to practice the Unforgivables on a moth. Even for a moth, it was completely unfair.
None of that matters now. Fancy spell work isn’t going to save me tonight. My only hope is in dodging whatever flies my way, and casting enough Stunning spells to keep the Death Eaters occupied.
“Rictusempra!” I hear someone cry. That’s a child’s spell, which certainly doesn’t belong in the battlefield. A Death Eater erupts into raucous laughter, a laughter that doesn’t match the murderous look on his face. He’s snarling hideously, trying to wheeze out a curse through all the laughter.
I aim my wand at his feet. “Reducto!” The ground explodes, and he goes flying.
The round face of a little blond boy flashes me a grin. “Hey, thanks! Gotta go, my brother Colin’s around here somewhere!” He dashes away, weaving through Death Eaters, students, and Order members alike.
“You’re welcome,” I say to no one, and then add with a shriek, “Stupefy!” One of the three Death Eaters rushing toward me falls; unfortunately, the other two don’t.
They wear identical sneers as they train both their wands on my chest. “Pretty little thing, aren’t ye?” one snickers. “Shame to damage that lovely skin. We’ll make it quick, then, shall we? Avada-”
I’ve heard that a true Veela can become a monster on the outside as well as inside. My grand-mére says I’m lucky that it can’t happen to me, because there’s nothing worse than, in a fit of anger, erupting into a beast that resembles a bird on fire. I never believed it was true, having never witnessed it with my own eyes, but I can feel something rising inside of me. I refuse to die. Not here, not tonight. Whatever it takes.
I don’t suddenly grow a beak. I don’t burst into flames and start hurling fire at my attackers. I don’t miraculously end this whole war by embracing whatever monster lives within. There is a spark, however, deep down, a sudden strength and urge to destroy this completely unbeautiful thing in front of me. Apparently something of this shows, because the Death Eaters now look torn between confusion and fright.
That moment of distraction is all I need.
“Crucio,” I hiss, and it crashes into the uglier one first, sending him to the ground, where he stays, thrashing about madly and making him look even less human than I feel. It’s as if the other one isn’t even there. All my hatred is focused on him for now, making sure he pays for the price of his flaws.
He begs, but I don’t give him a chance. I kill thoughtlessly, as though the green light is really just that, a light, a harmless color passing through the air that will just disappear after a while. It does disappear, but only after it hits the man.
And that’s when it stops. That’s when I become myself again and realize what I’ve just done. Horrified, I raise both hands to cover my scream, not noticing my wand drop to the floor. Killing is nothing, this is a war, after all -- but what I did went beyond that. That wasn’t right. It wasn’t human. Neither am I, but I always thought I was just a little bit more so than that.
The other Death Eater recognizes that whatever happened is over now. He still looks frightened, but now he’s angry as well, and the anger is definitely the primary mood. He towers over me, menacing with his teeth bared and his eyes wild. Now I definitely notice that my wand is on the ground somewhere by my feet, and it’s too late to snatch it.
“Remus!” I choke. The Death Eater whirls around and faces him. Remus doesn’t hesitate before locking into battle, shooting off hexes and curses and counter-curses faster than I can think. The Death Eater matches him evenly, dodging when he needs to, using far more Unforgivables, blocking every spell that comes his way.
I won’t say time slowed down, but for how short it was, it felt like I was standing there for years waiting for one to claim victory over the other. From the fierce taunts they exchange, I conclude that the Death Eater’s name is Dolohov.
Finally, and all too soon, the emerald streak that is the Killing Curse flies from both directions. One soars harmlessly between Dolohov’s torso and outstretched arm. The other strikes Remus in the chest.
He looks at me just before it hits, and even though I know he would never blame me, how can I not feel responsible when I watch the light leave his eyes? It doesn’t fade slowly; it disappears like someone switched it off. One minute warm and brown, the next cold and grey.
But when he falls, there’s someone else looking at me, the last person I would have wanted to see this happen. It’s Tonks, whose Metamorphmagus abilities allow her to go so pale it’s like she’s dead as well, and even her hair turns whiter than snow when she sees that her husband is on the ground, never to move again.
“YOU!” she screeches, and my heart stops until I follow her gaze to Dolohov. Her hair changes magically to pure red and she thrusts a shaking hand into her robes, but while her hand gropes furiously for her wand, Dolohov sneers and performs the same curse a second time. It’s strange, how her skin gains color in death. With her abilities lost along with her, the skin that had gone so white in grief was now only as pale as any other corpse.
That shouldn’t matter compared to the fact that she’s dead, but it does, because she should have at least been able to keep that much.
Now I’m alone again, and Dolohov returns his menacing look to me. I close my eyes and hope for the Killing Curse, so that when I die, I can remain something akin to the way I normally look.
Goodbye, Bill. I’m sorry.
But it doesn’t come. Instead there’s a hiss of pain, and I slowly open my eyes to see Dolohov pulling his sleeve back, revealing the dark shape of a serpent winding its way through the open mouth of a skull. The Dark Mark, burning at its blackest. Upon looking around, I realize all the Death Eaters are mimicking the same gesture.
That’s when You-Know-Who’s voice infiltrates the castle and says, like he’s doing us a favor, that the Death Eaters are to withdraw for an hour, and until then we can care for our wounded.
We can care for them longer than that, according to him. All we have to do is sacrifice the Chosen One. When his announcement ends, no one stops to discuss this proposal. Dolohov gives me a disgusted look, but he does nothing, only trails away after all the others flooding out onto the grounds.
I stare after him until someone calls, “Fleur!” I look to the side, already knowing who it is from the voice but hardly daring to believe it’s true. It has to be true, though, because he’s standing there, relatively unhurt: my husband. Except he is hurt; his eyes look pained, but I see no wound. Then, over his shoulder, I find it. A familiar man, sprawled on the floor, surrounded by a family with hair red like his. One of the twins. It’s easy enough for me to pick out the features that define which one.
Bill follows my gaze and nods, slowly. Then his eyes fall on a point a few feet to my left. Without looking, I know it’s Remus and Tonks. I nod in return, just as slowly, and he beckons me forward.
My shaking legs lead me his way of their own accord. My body is learning to do what it wants whether my mind is able to tell it to or not, which is wonderful in situations like these, when it seems like my mind will never be okay again.
Bill has his arms stretched out and at the ready, folding instantly around me once I'm near enough. The tears have been slipping down my cheeks for a while now, but no longer are they silent. Now my whole body shakes with the sobs that are desperate to come out.
"It's going to be okay," he whispers in my ear, pressing his face against my hair, kissing it. It's completely unfair that he's trying to comfort me when he's the one who lost a brother, but I have no idea what to say about it. "I know it's not okay now, and it might not be for a long time, but it will be, I promise, Fleur."
Only I know it won't. He thinks the tears are because our friends are dead. Of course that's what they're for -- some of them. Most of them, though, are because I'm a monster, and there's nothing I can do about it. In no sense can that ever be all right. Not even Bill Weasley can make it so.
We spend our hour trying to help in any way we can. There are bodies left to be discovered by the people still alive to mourn them, there are the mourners themselves who need as much comfort as anyone can offer with the threat of more deaths still looming overhead. And there will be more; no one who has lasted this long is about to give Harry to You-Know-Who and make it all for nothing.
I avoid the other Weasleys the entire time, too ashamed to let them see my tears while they're spilling their own. Who deserves to cry the most? Someone who lost a loved one, or someone who fears they're losing themselves? It's not a question I want to ask, let alone answer.
As the minutes fall away, tension returns to the Great Hall. Everyone knows the fight will recommence soon, probably for the final time. It's late; actually, it's early, very early. I've never felt wearier in my life, and unless adrenaline does its job, I won't stand a chance this time around.
We wait in silence for the respite to draw to a close. It's been exactly an hour since You-Know-Who gave the decree, and I wonder vaguely if we're so unimportant that he's forgotten about us or decided we're not worth the effort to destroy.
A minute passes, then a couple more, and I almost murmur my theory for Bill to hear, but a voice so loud I can feel it speaking interrupts before I can even begin. It says four words, words very different from the ones any of us expected to hear and far, far worse. I hear those words and decide, without consulting anyone else for their opinion, that it's over. After all, no one dared to consider this eventuality. No one ever asked what we ought to do if it happened.
"Harry Potter is dead."
The last line is taken directly from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, page 728 (U.S. Hardcover).
I've got the rest of the chapters planned out a bit better, so hopefully update won't take quite as long from now on. Let me know what you think! Also, don't be afraid to point out mistakes or typos, because I'm more than willing to change them!
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