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Light faded in and out, a tunnel. I was in a tunnel. My pulse quickened, my hand gripping my wand in preparation for what was to come. I looked behind me. There was only darkness but in front of me, there was light, a small hope. I took a step forward, the fall of my boot echoing loudly. It was too much noise. They would find me and then all would be lost. I had to make a choice. Either I stood and waited but the light would eventually fade and darkness would swallow me, or I could make a run for it and try to escape. There was no choice. I put another foot in front of the other and began to run. My pulse quickened even more, anticipation an ache in my chest. There was something behind me; I couldn’t hear it and I didn’t dare look. The opening at the end of the tunnel was growing with each footfall but inside me something tugged, drawn to the darkness but I pulled away from it. Just a few more steps. I just had to press harder. I had to resist. Pain seared through me and I fell to my knees. The darkness, like a mist, began to curl about my legs, tugging at me violently. It wanted to envelop me but I couldn’t let it. I heard the distant rise and fall of voices, laughs and playful yells coming from just outside the tunnel. If I could just get there, if I could just get help. With renewed energy I threw myself forward escaping the mist and began to run even faster toward the exit.

I burst into a beautiful summers day, the rolling grounds of Hogwarts before me, the sky an opalescent blue. There were groups of students sitting on the grass, soaking up the wonder of the day. I walked past them away from the castle. There was someone I had to meet.

With his back to me, I recognised the upright back, set shoulders and long sleek hair. Severus stood on the dock looking out at the water, his hands in his pockets, completely at ease. I placed myself beside him and stared out to where he was looking but there wasn’t so much as a ripple on the water.

“We’re here again.” He said in a tone that didn’t denote surprise.

I didn’t answer but turned to look at his face instead. There was something in the tone of his voice that I did not like.

His forehead was crumpled, as he looked out, pensive as always.

“What is it?” I asked, my voice soft and caring.

Instead of answering, he slid his hand into mine and gave it a light squeeze.

“Yves.” He said but he didn’t look at me, his eyes were still focussed on the water. A cloud had passed over the sun darkening the water but it was still enough to see what secrets it held.

Something white began to appear in the water. But it was too far down for me to see what it was. I took a step closer to investigate but Severus pulled me back.

“No.” he said curling his arm around me and placing his lips into my hair, “Do not go looking for it Yves.”

But I was curious. I craned my neck to see what was rising from the depths. Painfully slowly it rose, whitening even more as it enlarged. Finally it broke the surface sending ripples into the water on the otherwise still lake.

Her hair was splayed around her like Ophelia. I couldn’t make out her face, just the clothes that clung to her back as the water lapped against it. Severus clutched me even more tightly stopping my progress.

“Who is it?” I asked my voice a little more urgent now. The voices of the students sitting around became louder, their yells turning to screams.

“Do not go looking for it Yves.” He said again, his voice breaking.

“But why?” I asked trying to get out of his arms, “Who is it Sev?”

“Yves,” he said as he struggled to hold me, pulling me away from the water, “Don’t…”

But it was too late, I pushed away from him with such force that his hands released and I hurtled backward into the black water. I sucked in a mouthful of water but it felt thick and tasted funny. I spat it out as soon as I broke the surface. But I couldn’t see properly, something thick covered my face. I wiped my face furiously to get it off of me and opened my eyes panicked. My hand was coated red. I kicked my legs but it was like swimming in syrup, it was too thick. I looked down at the water, it wasn’t clear anymore. It was blood; I was swimming in blood.

 

I sat up gasping for breath, sweat had broken out on my brow. It had felt so real. I tried to shake off the dream but it was the second time I had dreamed of Severus. If only I could have seen the girl who lay face down in the water. It felt like a warning but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was warning against.

I pulled on my clothes and made to fulfil the next step in my plan. Today I was looking for more Death Eaters. And where best to start than the place they would least expect me to be.

 

I arrived in Hogsmeade just a stones throw from where I had had my nightmare. I wasn’t afraid of being recognised; there was no one here who would expect to see me. I was, after all, the dead girl. Besides, if they did recognise me, I would just have to deal with the problem. I walked down the main road but there were less people about than I expected. Then again, I had only ever been to Hogsmeade on a weekend with the school. I had chosen Hogsmeade because there was a chance that I would find the person I had heard whispers about when I was still working for The Order, but if I didn’t find him here, I would have to make an appearance at Diagon Alley. I ducked into The Hog’s Head Inn and walked up to the bar, taking a seat in the corner before ordering a beer from the bar wench. The woman did not deliver the drink to me, instead a very tall man did. He looked familiar, there was something about him but before I could ponder who he reminded me of, the door creaked open, letting in a sliver of light into the filthy place. A wizard walked in, his dark grey robes battered and torn. His pockets looked overly full beneath the haggard fabric as though he was carrying absolutely everything he owned of value on his person. His head swivelled around as he surveyed the bar and its patrons. Satisfied with his assessment, he took a stool a few seats over from me and ordered a drink. His assessment was incorrect. He hadn’t been looking for me and he hadn’t identified the threat. He had been pilfering secrets out of the Ministry for months for Voldemort the sneaky rat. What all betrayers don’t know is that the moment they betray, they think they gain value in the eyes of the person for whom they betrayed. In reality, they’ve pulled a double-edged sword, their trustworthiness a thing of question and they become valueless.

This was my man. He was tall and thin, his brown hair beginning to grey. His face was pock marked and he continued to pick at it nervously as he sat.

I took a swig of my beer and listened to the man as he rattled and shook in the bar stool, looking over his shoulder periodically. He was scared out of his mind. As well he should be. His tumbler arrived and he downed it before indicating for another. The bar wench sneered at him but obliged nonetheless, sloshing more of the golden liquid into the glass, spilling some and not bothering to clean up the mess. I looked at the other occupants of the bar. Shady characters focussed on their drinks without looking up but I could tell that they were listening, waiting for something of import to happen, and, when it did, I was sure they would all flee. These weren’t the types of people to get involved in direct confrontation if they could help it. Sure they would curse you in the back at the first sign that it would benefit them to do so.

“Perhaps,” a deep voice said softly beside me. The barman was looking at me tentatively, “you should read this before doing whatever it is that you came her to do.” He slid over a newspaper but his eyes did not shift from my own. I looked at him, for signs that he may interfere but his face was open and, although I couldn’t say exactly why, he looked friendly, there was something about him that I recognised, something told me to trust him. I eyed him a moment longer and then cast my eyes down to the paper in front of me. I kept my guard up, looking on my periphery for any signs of movement, my ears listening intently to the smallest sounds.

The headline read, Dark Mark Conjured Over Murdered Wizarding Family Home in Scotland. Beneath it was a moving photograph of Aurors scuttling around a house. There were three covered mounds on the front lawn, no doubt the bodies of whoever had died inside.

I looked up at the man who was still watching me tentatively. Was he giving me a target? Did he know that was the reason behind me being here?

He nodded towards the paper encouragingly and I cast my eyes down again and began reading the article.

Ministry Aurors identified the Dark Mark this morning at a remote homestead in the Scottish countryside. Details about the murders are scarce at present; many Ministry members are refusing to divulge any details about what exactly happened in the early hours of this morning. However, in a Daily Prophet exclusive interview with a lead Auror for The Ministry of Magic, we have been able to confirm that the bodies found are those belonging to MacDonald family. We were able to confirm that the entire family, comprising of Mr Dingle MacDonald, his wife, Fego and his daughter Mary, were all murdered in an apparent Death Eater attack…

My body felt as though my blood had ceased to pump. I went cold; my hairs began to stand on end. Surely, no, I couldn’t have read that correctly. I scanned the beginning of the article again. Sure enough, the words were the same and so were the names of the deceased.

“Mary.” I said out loud.

“Yes.” Said the man, “I recognised the name. She went to Hogwarts didn’t she? As did you.” He was looking at me intently.

I nodded, the shock causing a deep searing pain to erupt in my chest. The cold was telling me that it didn’t matter, that we already had a target but the other voice, the usually quiet one, the one I recognised at the old Yves, was wailing in pain. Mary, my dearest Mary.

“Yes,” he said sadly, “I though you may want to know.”

“Why?” I asked, my voice a little broken because of the news and the internal struggle I was having. I’m not really sure I what I was asking about. Why did the Death Eaters kill Mary? Or why did he think I would want to know?

“Because,” he said, “sometimes it doesn’t matter how far we’ve travelled. A friend remains a friend despite the distance.”

Something clicked inside me at his words. She had been my friend. I still loved her no matter the distance or mortality of it all. She was, and always would be, my Mary. The proud, fierce woman who had understood me, stood up for me, consoled me, helped me and made me feel secure and loved was dead, murdered. I scooted the chair back and it scraped noisily on the floor. Everyone turned to look but I hardly noticed them. The pain searing through me had me doubled over, breathing hard.

“Go!” The little voice said inside my head.

“But your target!” Squealed the other voice, demanding action. I pulled my wand from my robes but the man had already begun his flight. He pulled open the heavy wooden doors and hauled himself through them. I went after him. I could do both.

“Impedimenta!” I said pointing my wand at him. He fell face first into the floor, his body immobile. I strode after him and took a fistful of robes.

“You’re coming with me.” I said before disapparating.

 

I arrived at the house out of sight of the buzz of activity. I dragged the man into some nearby shrubbery and conjured ropes, lassoing him to whatever I could in case I stayed away long enough for the curse to wear off.

I walked towards the house. The rational part of my brain was telling me that such a brazen display probably wasn’t the most strategic move seeing as just about everyone in the Ministry believed I was dead. But I couldn’t care. Another swell of pain caused me to again double over, my legs shaking with the effort of keeping me standing upright. But I had to go; I had to see what I could find. A small part of me wondered if this was Voldemort’s retaliation for me killing one of his own. Another part of me said that it probably would have happened regardless, he was a murdering swine and he would have killed all the muggle born and blood traitors whenever he had the chance. Neither of those thoughts did anything to quell the awful feeling inside me.

As I approached the house, my senses became dull and I began to feel exhaustion ripple through me. The power was fading. Shit! I took another deep breath but before I could take one more step, I felt a powerful grip on my arm, dragging me back out of sight of the house. I turned to fight, holding my wand at the ready but I looked up to see Fabian, his eyes wide, his face pleading. He was covered in blood, his clothes torn and dirty where the blood hadn’t stained is dark red.

“Yves!” He breathed, “Stop fighting and come with me! They cannot see you!”

I looked again at the house and thought about fighting him but he had had the same thought and wrapped his massive arms around me, pinning my arms at my side, and lifted me off the ground and into a nearby covering of trees.

“Let go of me!” I demanded through gritted teeth. Once we were a safe distance away, he released me.

“Stop it!” He said in his sternest tone.

“Come on Yves, give the guy a break!” Another gravel voice said to my side, “We’ve had a long couple of days.” Sirius stood leaning against a tree. He was sweating despite the near cold weather, his skin drawn and pale, his eyes dull.

“What are you doing here?” I said waspishly. I didn’t mean for it to come out as aggressively as it had.

“Well,” Sirius said pushing off the tree to come stand beside me, “we’re the ones who found them.” By them I knew he meant the MacDonald family.

“How did you know I was coming?” I asked looking at him trying to conceal my pain.

“Someone sent us a message. But that’s not important now, what the hell is going on with your eyes?”

I looked at Fabian; he was staring at me concernedly.

“What do you mean?” I said irritably. There wasn’t time for this!

“They keep changing colour.” Fabian said to the point as always.

“I don’t know.” But I did know what it meant. And it wasn’t good for me if there were any Death Eaters lurking around.

“What happened?” I said briskly changing the subject.

“It seems the Death Eaters attacked the family last night and killed them all.” Sirius said shaking his head no doubt trying to get the though out of his mind.

“We have some interesting information that you may want to hear.” Fabian said taking s step closer, “If you just come back with us to Headquarters we’ll fill you in.”

I looked at him, studying his too tightly wound posture. This felt like an ambush, a trap.

“No.” I said backing away.

“Yves,” Sirius said taking a step towards me, now standing in line with Fabian, “we can help you if you’ll just let us. Come with us and we can get to the bottom of this together.”

“No.” I said again, backing up again.

“Yves…” Fabian said but I pointed my wand at him.

“No, I have to do this on my own. I know what I’m doing and…”

“Actually, I don’t think you do.” Sirius said, his voice harsh. “Look what’s happened…”

“Are you saying that this is my fault?” I asked furiously even though he was probably right.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying but were stronger together…”

“I wont let anyone get hurt because of me.” I said. I knew they didn’t know what I was talking about but they didn’t need to. If they knew then they would meddle and try more things like this…

“You know…” I said in a whisper.

“What?” Sirius said in his most singsong voice, his smile lopsided, “That Voldemort is after you and that he’s going to try lure you out by killing people you love? That you’ve already retaliated and killed one of them? Is that what we know?”

I stared at them both. Fabian was looking at Sirius as though he was pond scum but Sirius was smiling brightly as though he had just won a prize.

“How do you know that?” I asked a little dumbstruck.

“Bellatrix.” He said grinning and tilting his head to the side in the way I loved most, “Apparently she wants you out of the way and thinks we’re the guys to do it.”

“What Sirius means,” Fabian said still looking at Sirius with a deep set frown, “is that we she told us about the attack, about Voldemort’s plans to lure you out and capture you. It’s an attempt to stop that from happening on her part.”

“Isn’t that what I just said?” Sirius said shaking his head at Fabian as though he was no fun at all.

“Why would that be a disadvantage to her? If he managed to capture me?” I asked quizzically.

“Because the bitch is psycho and like in love with her Prince of Darkness or something.” Sirius said rocking on the balls of his feet, his hands thrust into his pockets.

“And, she doesn’t need the competition.” Fabian completed.

“Well…” I said considering this, “this is news to me entirely.

“We thought you wouldn’t have known.” Sirius said.

“I didn’t know about Bellatrix,” I said looking at them in turn, “but I knew about Voldemort.”

“You did?” Sirius asked a little deflated.

“Yes, he told me himself.”

The both looked at me obviously not expecting this.

“When?” Fabian asked looking at me with concern.

“When I killed Sasha.”

Sirius’s mouth opened a little and Fabian crossed his arms.

“You did that?”

“Yes.” I said looking at them before realisation kicked in. “You’ve already found the body.”

“Yes.” Fabian said. “What happened? Why didn’t he take you then?”

“There isn’t time for all of this now. I have to get into the crime scene and see what’s happened. There may be things I can see that you can’t.”

“Yves,” Fabian said in a kind voice, “there aren’t any messages its just…” He couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Blood. It’s just blood.” Sirius finished.

I turned around to ignore them. I needed to see for myself.

“Can you just wait!” Sirius said impatiently, “Listen to me for once.”

My temper was bubbling ominously, the pain in my chest subsiding as it rose.

“You have a choice to make. Either you can let me go to the house on my own accord and go and find the Death Eater who has been pilfering information out of the Ministry and straight to Voldemort. I’ve left him in the grounds here but the binds will not hold him for long.” They looked at me, their eyes wide, both of their foreheads creased, “Or, you can try to stop me from going to the house and, in the process, lose the Death Eater and I will stun you both and make my way up there anyway.” They looked at each other but it was Sirius who spoke first.

“You wont hurt us.”

“Correction.” I said fiddling with my wand, “I don’t want to hurt you but if you get in my way, I’m afraid you leave me no choice.”

“There is always a choice Yves.” Fabian said gruffly, for the first time looking at me with impatience, “and you’re choosing wrong.”

“I am doing what I have to.”

“To the exclusion of everyone else.” He said raising his voice in frustration.

I looked at him.

“He’s right.” The little voice whispered.

“Who cares!” The other voice roared, “We have a job to do!”

“You’re right.” I said but I stood immobile. “I am excluding you but this is my burden to bare…”

“It’s everyone’s burden Yves.” Sirius said impatiently. “It’s Voldemort.”

“Yes, but he’s not after you.”

“Yes he is.” Sirius said loudly, “He’s after all of us. What don’t you get about that?”

I paused thinking over his words. It didn’t change anything.

“Rookwood is tied to a shrub just over that hill to the west. Go get him if he’s still there.” I said before apparating right into the house.

 

Fabian and Sirius were right. The entire house was a mess of broken glass and furniture and bloodstains. My stomach recoiled. I ignored the voices of the witches and wizards who were trying to stop my progress and scanned the area as I moved from the den, up the stairs to the next pool of blood and followed the drag marks into a room with Wizarding Band posters permanently stuck to the walls. This was where the rage had been focussed. Even though the other murders had been violent, they weren’t like this. This seemed personal. Someone else was leaving me bodies now, the horror of the realisation a shock to the sensitive part of me that bellowed in pain. My entire body was a continuous shooting pain and it was taking all my strength not to scream. Of course it was retaliation, of course this would have happened and I provoked it all. This was all my fault.

“It’s horrific isn’t it?” A cool voice said behind me. I wasn’t expecting him to be here.

“Albus.” I said curtly turning to keep him in my line of sight.

“Yves.” He said staring at the blood-stained carpet.

“Here to take me in?” I asked trying to keep the bitterness from my voice. I knew what he thought about me already, that I was wrong, that I was other.

“On the contrary,” he said taking his eyes off the scene, “I’m here to gleam from your insights. You are quite an accomplished detective. Perhaps you might have seen something I missed.” His face was smooth, his eyes never moving from my own.

I tore my eyes from his and paced the length of the room, recreating what I could in my head. Mary had obviously been injured where her mother had fallen and dragged herself to the bedroom, perhaps to get her wand, perhaps for another reason. Two people had ascended the stairs, walked through the blood and came after her into the room. And that’s where the real violence was. I couldn’t tell exactly what happened because of the sheer amount of blood.

“I need to see the body.” I said taking a deep breath in to quell my quivering innards.

“In a moment.” He said infuriatingly calm, “Do you see anything specific within your realm of notice.” I cast my eyes upwards and looked at him for any sign of mocking. Of course, Dumbledore didn’t mock.

I looked around for something like what Sasha had left for me before but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a piece of blood-stained parchment.

I bent to collect it but I couldn’t contain my shaking any more. My knees were close to caving, pain causing me to shiver and sweat. Dumbledore came over and bent instead, picking up the paper. He held it in his palm for a moment and tapped it with his wand. Nothing happened and he passed it to me. Perhaps he had been checking for hidden magic. But there was no magic here. Just a beautifully written note, the script perfect and flowing, confidently slanted, not an ink smudge or speckle anywhere.

 

Yves

One of yours for one of mine.

Now it is my turn.

Join me.

I am waiting.

 

He didn’t need to sign it for me to know from whom it came as well as the reason for it. Merlin! What had I done? I had precipitated all of this! I felt as though I was going to be violently ill but I pushed it down as best I could.

I passed the letter to Dumbledore who was silent while he read buying me some time to pull myself together.  

“Yves…” He began to say but I had just had another thought.

“He’s going to kill someone else and he’s going to do it soon.”

I looked at Dumbledore whose eyes had flared wide behind his half moon spectacles.

“We have to go.” He said turning and striding out of the room.

“Yes.” I breathed weakly behind him. “Yes we do.”

 

 

 

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