Disclaimer: Don’t own anything or anybody you recognize. Cambri is mine. Other than that, they all belong to Ms. Rowling who refuses to share. Author’s Note: Okay, I really suck at summaries, but the story itself is pretty good. I write a lot of fan fiction, but this is the first one I’ve ever posted. Please read and review. Fading Into Something Have the courage to live. Anyone can die. ~Robert Cody “Cambri.” “Hi.” “Should I ask, Cambri?” “Not unless you really want to know.” “Well, I do.” “Pity. I don’t really want to talk about it. Do you mind?” “As your replacement parental figure, yes. As your friend, yes.” Years ago, eons ago, it seemed, Cambri had been happy. She had lived with her parents, with her brother, and they had been happy. Of course, then everything changed. But for the first year and a half of her life, she had known what happiness was. She had known what content and acceptance had felt like. She had known what love meant. But everything had changed. In one night, everyone she loved had been taken, quite violently, away from her. And things had only gone downhill from there. “It's just some . . . relief, I suppose you would call it.” “Relief. You know, I rip myself to shreds a few nights a month, but I generally don't do it intentionally.” “Remus, I'm hardly ripping myself to shreds. Just enough.” “Enough?” “Never mind. Listen, it's not hurting anyone, so could we just drop it?” “Oh, good lord. You sound like Sirius. And I do not mean that in a good way.” “Yes, well . . . I guess I'll have to live with that. Honestly though, it's fine. It doesn't bother anyone. In fact, everyone is grateful for it, even if they don't know it. This is the only way I've been able to live so far. It doesn't bother me, so it shouldn't bother you.” “Cambri, that's the worst logic I have ever heard you use.” “What do you mean, exactly?” The orphanage she had been dumped at wasn’t terrible, as orphanages go. She was teased of course; she was small, and insignificant, and she didn’t fight back. She was too much in shock from her parents’ death to do too much for almost a year. And then, of course, there was the question of her brilliance. All of the older kids made her life miserable because, at two years old, she already had the vocabulary of a fairly competent adult. But the orphanage had been nothing compared to what was coming next. Her foster home seemed promising at first. The mother, Adrianna Terrangs, was a snobbish woman who wore far too much makeup, but other than that seemed all right. The father was a quiet, brooding man who didn’t give his opinions lightly, and when he did, people listened. He was deeply involved with his work, and didn’t seem to care much about his family, so different from Cambri’s loving, doting father that it almost made her cry. Their daughter, though, who was a year older than Cambri, was the worst of all of them. Janae tormented Cambri even worse than the children at the orphanage. Compared to her, the other children looked like Mother Teresa. At first, Cambri thought that perhaps the Terrangs didn’t notice that Janae was torturing her. Then she realized, with horrifying certainty: they noticed, and they were glad of it. It took her two years of living with them in their Beverly Hills mansion to figure it out, and once she did, it only brought more questions. Why? Why did they hate her? And if they did hate her, for whatever reason, why did they keep her? She was just a foster child, after all. After awhile, though, it all became too much for her five year old mind to handle, so eventually she dropped it, resigning herself to eternal torment at the hands of her foster sister. Then, everything changed again, and not for the better. “No one wants you to be hurt, Cambri. Me least of all.” “That's just the thing, Remus. I'm not hurt. And besides, that’s a terrible lie to tell a child, let alone an unstable teenager. No one wants you hurt. Honestly. The truth is, no one gives a damn as long as I seem happy and they don't have to deal with teen depression.” “I give a damn.” “Just you then. Point is, everyone wants shortcuts, and I'm giving them one, so why mess it up for everybody?” “Sirius would kill you.” “Sirius is dead.” When she turned seven, Richard, the father, apparently decided that she was old enough to do real work. She had a feeling that he had just been waiting for the day he could do this to her. Not that she needed to work. They had three maids, a butler, and a gardener who could have gotten all the necessary jobs done easily. But Cambri had to be reminded that she was not their child, and that they were only keeping her for tax reasons. She did the work quietly, not arguing. What was the point? She had no place to go if she ran away, and the work took her mind off things. It also meant that Janae had less time to torment her. After awhile though, it seemed apparent that the workload was not going to let up, and a small, somewhat fragile seven year old could not handle it all. Cambri would never forget her first “punishment” for when she didn’t finish weeding the garden. Mr. Terrangs walked over to her, and jerked her to her feet, even as she struggled to finish before sunset. She was a best slightly anxious about not finishing, but certainly not afraid of what was going to happen; why should she be? He had never mentioned any punishments, so she had never expected any. But she stopped being unafraid after the first blow fell. Cambri gasped. She had never been hit by an adult before. Children, yes, but they had been little kids, and it had not hurt her. It hurt now. He hit her straight upside the head, sending stars into her vision. “When we tell you to weed the garden, when we tell you to work, you do it, understand?” he had half-shouted, hitting her again, and Cambri, near tears had nodded yes. “You understand?” he demanded again. “Yes!” she had cried, to avoid another blow. His grip on her arm had tightened considerably, but then he let her go, pushing her roughly down to the ground. “Finish it,” he told her coldly. “You finish that, and you don’t get dinner.” From then on, she was on the warpath. And, of course, like everything else in her life so far, the situation only worsened. “No, you’re right, Sirius wouldn't kill you. He'd be depressed and come cry on my shoulder, because he never could talk to you. And I never understood why, but now I do.” “Can we not talk about him? He's dead. I prefer not to dwell on it.” “Then what's this? What's this, besides dwelling on it?” “I'd prefer not to discuss this, if you don't mind. And, even if you do, I don't want to talk about it.” “All right. We won't talk about it. I'm not your father and I'm not even your godfather. Fine. But remember I do care about this.” At ten, Cambri ran away. Even though she had no place to go, she figured that anywhere was better than that . . . place. She was wrong, of course, but how was she to know that at the time? After a week of living on the street, the only thing stopping her from going back was the thought of handcuffs. She constantly rubbed her healing wrists to remind herself of what awaited her if she ever went back. Then, suddenly, an idea hit her. She had stolen a wand already; she could hardly bear the thought of being without one when she was so alone, and she knew that she could accomplish things with it. As she sat on a park bench one day, she suddenly thought of her parents’ most magical belongings, just sitting alone in a vault in Gringotts. Things that could help her a great deal. She couldn’t just go and get them out; the key to the vault had been destroyed in the fire, so she’d have to steal them. That didn’t turn out the way she’d planned either. “All right, I surrender. Do you- do you plan on telling anyone?” “Who would I tell? Molly?” “All right, then. I was just wondering.” “I'm good at keeping secrets.” “I know. You're also good at not overreacting. Thanks for that.” “Oh, no, I under react.” “Yes; it’s a virtue we share. Of course, I've had to train myself to do that, but there you are.” Cambri almost made it. She had managed to break into the vault, take a few things she thought she might need, and then gotten out of the vault. She smiled a little as she made her way through the labyrinth. It was supposed to be a difficult maze, but it was no match for Cambri’s brain power. Pity she had no common sense, a trait she had inherited strictly from her father. Bill Weasely stopped her at the entrance to the bank. He was just doing random checks; he had never dreamed that he might actually find something. But on this little girl who looked eight, maybe nine, he found severable valuable artifacts that she had no business having. So, after a brief but pointless scuffle (since there was no way Cambri could have won it) he confiscated her wand, and arrested her. Since she was a minor, and refused to speak for herself, they set to work finding her parents before they gave her her trial. It turned out, however, that she didn’t have parents. Or, at least, none they could find. The Ministry was at a loss, and they hadn’t the faintest idea of what to do, so when Dolores Umbridge suggested a nearly hassle-free solution, they were all to willing to take it. “Think about it,” said Dolores. “With the little criminal put away for a few years, the problem will be solved.” “But what about her parents?” someone had demanded. Dolores gave them an all too sweet smile. “What about her parents? She doesn’t seem to have any, does she? And if she does . . . do they never need to know?” The council all hesitated. This was highly illegal, and they knew it. “Where would we put her?” the same person asked. Dolores’s smile grew. “Isn’t it obvious? Azkaban. She would sweet talk her way out of another prison. The guards at Azkaban will have none of it.” “Now, Dolores,” said Fudge nervously, “Surely sending her to the dementors is a little extreme, don’t you think?” “Minister, have you forgotten what this girl did? She robbed a high-security vault using very dark magic. Not to mention the fact that the vault belonged to people killed by Voldemort himself. It would be an insult to their memory if she was not punished.” Dolores stopped; she could see that people were almost convinced. “And,” she continued, “think of how much less trouble she’ll cause us and the rest of the world if she’s put away. It’s foolproof.” Except it wasn’t. “Please don't do this, Cambri.” “Do what?” “I hate seeing people bleed.” “Ah. I see. Not to be callous or anything, Remus, but you don't have to watch.” “But now I know you're doing it.” “I guess so . . . Are you still waiting for an answer? Listen, I know you worry, but don’t.” “Don’t do this, Cambri. It’s hurting you worse than you know.” “Sorry, I have to keep doing it.” “You do not have to.” “Well, I kind of do. It's more convenient for everyone, and when everyone’s happy, they don’t nag at me. And when no one’s nagging at me, I’m happy. So this really is necessary for my happiness. And that’s what you want, isn’t it?” “You aren’t happy, and you know it.” “Sure I am. Happy no one has bothered me up to now. Listen, lay off, okay? This is just something I have to do.” “There I things I have to do that are not convenient for anyone. Do not talk to me about things you have to do, Cambri.” Twenty years in Azkaban. They could have just killed her. It would have been kinder. Cambri knew from the moment she walked into the prison that she was going to die. But it was going to be slow. The dementors were excited when she walked in, excited to have a new prisoner to feed off of. And this one was so young, so full of hope and stubbornness. They knew it would take her a very long time to die. She was put in a cell next to Sirius Black. They figured that the least they could do for the child they were getting rid of was to put her in a cell next to someone who didn’t scream all the time. Most people at the Ministry weren’t cruel, they were just cowards. For awhile, Cambri was quiet, just listening to the screams. This was something new. Usually a new prisoner screamed their head off as they were brought in and for the next couple of days, only going quiet when they finally succumbed to the dementors. Either Cambri possessed some quiet strength that they were not aware of, or she had already submitted to the dementors. The latter seemed much more likely. One night, as Cambri lay awake, listening to the screams die down as the prisoners drop off into their troubled dreams, she heard someone banging their head very gently on the wall they shared to her right. She stood and listened to see if they were muttering to themselves. She wouldn’t bother speaking to them if they were. She hadn’t spoken at all, in fact, since she had gotten here almost a year ago. There was nothing to say, so why waste her time? But, as luck had it, they were not muttering nonsense to themselves, so Cambri, desperate for some sane conversation, rapped hard on the wall. “Hey!” she said through it, surprised at how raspy and hard her voice sounded. It was no longer the voice of a child. The banging immediately stopped. “I’m trying to sleep in here.” “Sorry,” they muttered, and pulled away from the wall. “Out of curiosity, why were you banging your head on the wall?” she asked him. “Nothing else to do, is there?” he demanded. “I can’t believe this. Are you sure you’re sane?” “Are you sure you are?” she asked back. “No way,” he told her. “I lost it a long time ago.” “I was born crazy,” she answered. “Me too,” he replied. “By the way, I’m Sirius.” “Sirius!” she cried. “Oh, hell, here it comes,” he muttered darkly. “Here what comes?” Cambri demanded. “Sirius, I’ve been looking for you everywhere! No wonder I couldn’t find you!” “You’ve been . . . looking for me?” he asked, and by his tone, she could tell that he thought was quite insane. Cambri realized that of course he wouldn’t recognize her voice; it was quite changed. “Sirius, it’s me. Cambri.” There was a long pause, and then . . . “Cambri?” he spoke weakly. “Cam, are you sure it’s you?” She laughed. “Of course I’m sure.” “What the hell are you doing in here?” he demanded, and from then on, neither of them was alone. “We're talking about two completely different things here, Remus. If you want to talk about lycanthropy, that is fine with me, and I'll listen, but your being a werewolf has nothing to do with my . . . actions.” “Maybe it does. I like how you think you can decide what it does and what it doesn’t have anything to do with.” “Maybe it doesn't. Maybe you're hallucinating. Again.” “I give up. Good night.” “Good riddance.” “You didn’t mean that.” “You’re right, damn it. I didn’t mean that.” Cambri escaped, after only three years of Azkaban. She went with Sirius, being just as thin as he was in dog form, and for awhile they were on the run. Cambri was just happy to be out; she wouldn’t have cared where they went, but Sirius told her to hide in his house in London, and she was all too happy to oblige. His house meant beds, and fresh water, and food; about the only things that mattered anymore. Once Sirius had specifically told Kreacher not to leave the house and to never, never tell anyone about himself and Cambri, he left. Cambri was only mildly worried about Sirius. She knew he could take care of himself. They passed a year like that, with her staying at his house, and him trying to get close enough to Pettigrew to kill him. She was surprised, actually, when he was caught. She had thought he was smarter than that. But he was okay, and that was what mattered. They had a very good relationship overall, even if it was rocky sometimes. Occasionally, Cambri would get frustrated enough to wish herself, or even him, back into Azkaban, but she regretted it almost as soon as she thought it or said it. And life went on. When she turned fifteen, he told her that she was going to go to Hogwarts. At first she thought he was crazy. Did he think that she needed the schooling? And what about the Ministry? But it turned out that she didn’t need to hide from the Ministry any longer. They were just grateful that she hadn’t reported them. And life went on. But, of course, things changed. She was starting to be happy again, so everything rearranged itself so that she could barely recognize her life once things settled down again. “Are you going to be all right, Cambri?” “I’m always all right. Good night.” “Good night, then. I love you.” “I love how you hesitate before you can bring yourself to say it.” “You know it’s not like that. I’m just not used to telling people that.” “Well, don’t get in the habit. It can turn out very poorly. Painfully, even.” “I do love you, though.” “I know.” The portkey had taken Harry and Cambri straight back to Dumbledore’s office. Harry walked around aimlessly, waiting for Dumbledore to arrive, while Cambri situated herself at the window and stared blankly out of it into the clear, starry sky. Harry wasn’t feeling the pain yet, she could tell. He was strong enough to bear Sirius’s death, but not without tears or anger, and he was showing neither at the moment so the pain must not have hit yet. She could feel it. The pain was intense, swallowing her whole and suffocating her with its thick, black mass. She couldn’t move, couldn’t breath, and she was glad of it. She didn’t want to breathe, or think, or speak. Sirius’s death was so illusory, and yet so very, horribly real at the same time. Even as she felt the pain of her loss drown her, she still couldn’t believe that he was . . . gone . . . Dumbledore arrived, and he and Harry exchanged words. Cambri didn’t bother to turn around. She could only hear snatches of the conversation anyway. She came back to reality only when something large and glass shattered near her head. Harry was throwing things, shouting meaningless words, and Dumbledore was responding calmly. Their words meant nothing in the face of her pain. How could words ever be sufficient to explain what she was feeling? Cambri did understand vaguely that Dumbledore was explaining about the prophecy. Good. About time. Finally, Harry was placated, and he left. Well, thought Cambri with grim satisfaction, that didn’t take long. “Cambri,” said Dumbledore gently. Cambri turned slowly to face him. She felt like she was moving underwater, or through molasses. The only other time that had happened to her was when she had been sentenced to life in Azkaban. “Cambri, talk to me,” he said. “Can I go?” she asked slowly. Every word pained her. She would avoid speaking again if she could help it. “No, have a seat,” he said quietly. “Do you want to say anything?” “I’m not going to scream and throw things, if that’s what you mean,” she said, clenching her teeth momentarily because of the pain. Every word, every breath, every heartbeat . . . pain . . . could it just end . . . please . . . Dumbledore didn’t know what to say to her. She was so obviously in pain, but if she wouldn’t talk about it, then he couldn’t help her. “But is there anything you’d like to say, to get out in the open?” I loved him. He was one of the only ones. Even though I’d get angry with him sometimes, he was like a father to me. He was almost as good as having James back. I loved him, and now he’s gone . . . dead and gone forever . . . will this pain never end? Cambri screamed this last thought so loud in her head that she was almost surprised when Dumbledore didn’t appear to hear it. “No, Professor. There’s nothing.” Nothing except pain. Binding, building, excruciating pain that was so powerful she couldn’t feel anything else. She seemed to be pain personified. “Surely you must be feeling some pain-” Some pain. Yeah. I feel it a bit. “-and talking about it will help.” “Yes, of course I’m feeling some pain, Professor, but I’ve had this before. It will pass in time. I’ll be okay.” Okay . . . lies, of course. The pain that was constricting her very thoughts would never leave her. Like the pain of her parents’ death, it would lurk behind her eyes, behind her mind, surfacing when she was reminded of him. Sirius would be just another wound, fresh pain . . . pain . . . would she never be free of its icy grip? Dumbledore sighed heavily. “All right, Cambri. You may go, but please remember that if you ever need to talk, I will listen.” Cambri nodded and left, her legs protesting being made to walk; her heart beating faster than was necessary-oh how she wished it would slow down, or stop entirely-; her lungs complaining every time she filled them with air. She walked down into a spare classroom, locked the doors, and conjured some pillows. She was much less likely to be disturbed here than if she went up to her dormitory. For a moment, Cambri looked around the room, then a sudden burst of rage and grief sent her to her knees. Now the suffocating darkness was giving way to a white-hot burning. She didn’t know which was worse. She felt like she was being burned alive by the passionate hatred and anger and another, nameless emotion she was feeling. She was tired-so tired- of playing by life’s rules. Who decided them anyway? Well, if fate was going to take away everything that was good about her life, she wasn’t going to play anymore. She no longer cared about the so-called rules of life. Cambri would do what she pleased and who-who- was going to stop her? With a last, comforting thought of taking horrible revenge on Bellatrix, and Voldemort, and everyone else who had made her life a living hell, Cambri collapsed onto the pillows. She slept. “This had better not continue, Cambri.” “I said I didn’t want to talk about it, Remus!” “There’s no need to shout. I just hate seeing you hurt yourself.” “Do you think these hurt, these pathetic, shallow cuts I give myself? Let me clue you in. They don’t. Not even a bit.” “Then what in the world do you do it for?” “It lets out emotion.” “So does talking about it.” Cambri told no one about what she was feeling. She wouldn’t talk to them; they couldn’t understand, they couldn’t even imagine what it was like to be living while almost everyone she cared about was dead. Remus was the last one she lived for, not that she would have had the courage to kill herself anyway. Another strange thing: she found she could no longer look at Harry. His face was filled with silent pain most days that reflected on what she felt inside. And he looked like James. He looked exactly like James. She refused to look at pictures of Sirius as well. He couldn’t be with her; she wanted to make that good and final in her mind. And, strangest of all, she couldn’t think about Bellatrix or Voldemort. After that one time she had imagined revenge on them, her mind would no longer focus on it. This irritated her, far more than she liked to admit, because she no longer seemed to have control of her mind. That frightened her. It terrified her. Her mind was the one place she had always seemed to have control, but now . . . now it was slipping her control too. She tried to ignore it, like everything else. She could tell Remus was at a loss. He was feeling responsible, as usual, and she knew she wasn’t helping. Sometimes she wanted to speak to him, and other times she wished he would just leave her alone forever so she wouldn’t have to think anymore, or breathe, or . . . feel. And whenever she did want to talk to him, she found that she couldn’t get any words out. So she would just stand near him, watching him, calling herself all sorts of horrible names because she couldn’t even talk right anymore. Sirius’s death seemed to have been the beginning of the end. It had begun to unravel her life, and now everything was coming undone. It was a strange feeling, but she didn’t try to stop it. It was almost comforting to think that soon there would be nothing left to live for. Not that she could ever work up the nerve to die, anyway. Pathetic. Weak, pathetic, wretched, not even worth saving. All this combined was too much for any adult, much less an impressionable teenager, to bear, which is what drove Cambri to start torturing herself. “Drop it, Remus. I mean it.” “Cambri-” “Drop it.” “I just-” “Now, Remus!” “All right, you win. I’m sorry you won’t let me help you.” “I don’t need help. Just don’t tell anyone, okay?” “I already said I wouldn’t.” “Good . . . I’m sorry. I don’t mean for it to hurt you.” “I know, Cambri. Please don’t do this.” “I have to.” “I’m not even getting into that argument. Good night.” “Good night, Remus.” “I love you.” Cambri spoke again, a long time after Remus had left. “Pity,” she whispered. “If you didn’t, I wouldn’t care if I lived or not.”
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