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First posted: September 18, 2004



Suggested music: “The Freshman” by Verve Pipe



 



Chapter Seven



The First of Many



 



A dazed silence took possession of the Hall with the abruptness of a deafening roar that might have occurred in its place. Lily thought she would have preferred noise to this earsplitting stillness that sent an icy current through her veins.



But no one spoke for several minutes—minutes that seemed to drag on for centuries. The students didn’t seem to comprehend McGonagall’s words. The professor had braced for a crowd of terrified children but they neither looked nor acted frightened. When they finally did speak, all they wanted was more information, something she could not give them. They all looked up to her for answers and assurance but McGonagall, with a sickening feeling of guilt, could provide them with neither.



This, if anything, is what scared Lily and probably most of her classmates; The uncertainty, the questions left unanswered. It was all too vague and unfamiliar for their young minds to wrap around. 



Moments before, in blissful ignorance, they had been laughing and dancing, with nothing to care about but the trivial problems that marred their otherwise secure world. Suddenly, they were forced to acknowledge something larger than anxiety about a test or whether or not they would have a date. It cast a haze over their clear, premeditated futures and twisted them till they were no longer recognizable. When, seconds before it was clear, the students could now only guess what the next few days would bring. It was shocking, like a lightning storm after years of flawless weather.



When the Gryffindors returned to the tower, what they had thought would be a night of animated discussions and recounts of the dance, contained nothing but muttered “goodnights” before they trudged quietly off to bed. The stark change in the fervently joyful atmosphere left them all overcome with exhaustion. They didn’t know what to think, much less what to say to each other.



Not much had changed by the following morning. As usual, the students ate breakfast down to the Great Hall, which was back to its everyday appearance. Professor McGonagall, who, Lily noticed, looked very troubled, failed to give them any more details than the previous night. They all looked nervously to the chair at the center of the head table that was still empty.



Then there was the process of last minute packing, riding to Hogsmeade station in the horseless carriages, and boarding the Hogwarts Express. Everyone talked and acted as they would have if they had never heard about the Diagon Alley attack. Lily felt strange going about her day as though nothing was wrong when they all knew that outside of the grounds, miles away, wizards and witches were in danger, possibly losing lives at that very moment. But the people around her seemed to have come to an unspoken conclusion that it had nothing to do with their own lives so they might as well enjoy the last few hours with their friends before the holiday. Outwardly, Lily went along, though it made her feel rather ill.



Lily, Summer, Tara, and Di found an empty compartment toward the back of the train and talked about what they hoped to get for Christmas and how they each planned to celebrate the holiday. The hours passed quickly and they did not notice the darkness stealthily encompassing the train until the lanterns flickered on.



At that point, the compartment door slid open and the Marauders walked in.



“Good evening, ladies,” greeted James, a rare tone of gravity in his voice. “Have any of you seen today’s Daily Prophet?”



“No, why?” asked Summer.



“Because it finally tells us something about this attack,” said Sirius.  “Remus just got his copy. Are you interested?”



He took a folded newspaper from Remus and held it out to Summer, who snatched it. Then he settled himself across from her and stretched out his legs. 



Peter parked himself next to Tara. No one noticed the peculiar look that flashed across James’s face when he saw Remus take the seat next to Lily. Normally, James would have swept into that seat whether he was wanted there or not, but now that Lily and Remus were practically a couple, it didn’t seem appropriate. Instead, he took the seat next to Sirius without another moment’s hesitation. Everyone felt that there was something oddly wrong about this arrangement, but no one said anything.



Summer straightened out the crinkled newspaper in preparation to read and Lily, sitting beside her, saw the big, bold heading and the black and white photo below of a skull with a serpent protruding from its mouth in a starlit sky.



Slowly, Summer began to read aloud:



 



Diagon Alley Under Attack!



 






At approximately 7:30 pm yesterday evening, Diagon Alley was struck by an unforeseen attack. The complex of all-wizard shops was bombarded by about one hundred black-robed wizards Apparating at once among the crowd of Christmas shoppers in the street.



            “One second, people were bustling about, doing their shopping. The next, loads of masked men appear and it turns into a scene of total havoc,” says an extremely flustered Mr. Fortescue, owner of Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. He was fortunate enough to escape harm and was able to give some details to a Ministry official.



            The members of the mysterious party immediately began throwing around the Killing Curse, a severe Unforgivable, to any ill-fated bystander, “as…if they were merely Disarming them,” quotes Mrs. Dorellus to an investigator, who watched from inside Flourish and Blott’s bookstore. “I heard them call themselves ‘Death Eaters.’ It’s no wonder.” She shudders before bursting into a flow of tears.



The so-called Death Eaters continued to raid the stores and alleys, evidently searching for any known ‘muggleborns’ or ‘half-bloods,’ instantly killing the ones they found. Aurors arrived on the scene as soon as they got wind of the attack but for many it was too late.



“Those who weren’t killed or severely injured by other Unforgivables are suffering from severe trauma,” reports Auror Smith Ganders, looking very distressed.



The entire force of trained Aurors appeared as soon as they caught wind of the attack but had no chance to capture any of the perpetrators. As soon as they came, the Dark Wizards Diapparated, leaving the devastated Alley scattered with limp bodies and a bright green symbol (as shown in photo above), floating in the sky above the destruction.



Since then, St. Mungo’s Hospital has been packed with victims of the attack and the Ministry has been working relentlessly to repair the damage.



When asked if this sort of disturbance had been expected at all, the Head Auror gravely admits that they’d heard of a new Dark Arts terrorist club being formed but no, they had never been prepared for anything this extreme.



As of now, the number of casualties ranges from 120-140; the vast majority of them ‘muggleborns’ and ‘half-bloods.’ Never, in at least half a century, has something of this severity and degree of damage taken so many lives from our community. This will undoubtedly leave a scar in wizarding history and in the hearts of those who have suffered losses.



The Ministry, having very limited information concerning the identities or whereabouts of this group called Death Eaters, implores the community to be extremely cautious and aware. The Death Eaters are presently at large and it is unknown where or when they will strike next. They also assure the public that they are doing everything in their power to acquire more details so that justice and safety can reign again.





 



Summer stopped reading at this point and looked up at the seven intent listeners with fearful eyes. Lily met them, her own eyes wide and brimming with tears. She didn’t know what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. The article had provided them with the facts they had craved but it had not supplied the ease or comfort she had subconsciously been hoping for.



She sighed deeply and looking down, saw Remus inch his hand closer toward Lily and fold it gently over her own. Lily squeezed his warm hand in response. 



It was done so discreetly that no else noticed any unusual interaction between the two. At least, that’s what they thought. However, they both underestimated James’s observation skills which were extraordinarily quick to pick up even the slightest details connected to Lily. 



Lily raised her head and faced her friends. “Why did this happen? There was no forewarning at all?” she asked quietly.



“Apparently not,” replied Sirius darkly. “I wonder what my parents think of this… Actually, no, I don’t. I don’t want to know. I’m just glad I’m going to your house, Prongs, so I don’t have to put up with them.”



“Your parents…wouldn’t actually…like the fact that this happened…would they?” Lily asked him tentatively. 



“They probably won’t exactly support all the killing but I’m sure they’ll be overjoyed to know that all those muggleborns are gone now,” he said, with a dull glint in his eyes.



The four girls gasped. Of course they believed him. In spite of his name, Sirius was so rarely serious and on the occasions that he was, you could count on him to be honest. 



Sirius just sighed and looked out the window, a brooding look settling into his dark features. No one spoke for several minutes.



“They can’t possibly get away with this! The Ministry will find out who these Death Eater people are and put them in Azkaban,” said Remus suddenly, shaking his head.



“Yes, they must! How could they just let them all walk free?” cried Tara.



“They better catch those stupid, evil, murdering gits before they do anything else—anything worse,” growled James. His hazel eyes were alight with fury.



“How could it be possible for them to do anything worse than what they’ve already done?” wondered Di.



“Anything’s possible,” said Sirius pensively. “You don’t know how some wizards’ minds work. Blood is the only thing that means anything to them. They loathe muggleborns and some are willing to go to any lengths to get rid of them…and…they think it’s right.”



He uttered the last few words through a disgusted shudder.



“But at least the Ministry will be more prepared if there’s a next time. Which I doubt will happen anyway. The Aurors are sure to catch them soon,” said Tara, though she sounded somewhat hesitant.



“It won’t be easy for them. There were at least a hundred of those Death Eaters in Diagon Alley and it says here that they were all wearing masks,” said Remus, indicating the Daily Prophet that had slid from Summer’s hands to the floor by her feet.



“Yes, it will be difficult to find out who these horrid people are but they’re up against the whole Ministry…a Ministry that has been humiliated, no less,” Summer said emphatically. “Really, how long can they last out there?”



“I don’t have much faith in our Ministry,” replied Sirius contemptuously. “I mean, they were thick enough to let all this happen, weren’t they? They were completely oblivious to any dark plots at all and they couldn’t even catch one of the hundred Death Eaters.”



“Where do you think they’d attack next…if they did?” Peter asked no one in particular.



“Maybe Hogsmeade…anywhere there are muggleborns, I suppose,” answered Lily, not looking directly at anyone.



Remus gave her hand a little squeeze. Then something she had heard awhile ago, long forgotten, sprung to life, replaying inside her head all at once. 



Things are going to start changing and mudbloods are first on the list to go. 



Bellatrix must have known this was coming. Maybe her parents had been under two of those black masks in Diagon Alley. Lily suddenly understood why Sirius had acted the way he had when they confronted him about his cousin that day in Hogsmeade. She shivered involuntarily, imagining a family like that.



Summer noticed her shiver and put a comforting arm around Lily’s shoulder.



“What if they attacked the school?” asked Peter, fearful for his own safety.



James shook his head. “They have no chance of doing that. Dumbledore would never let that happen to Hogwarts.”



They all nodded slightly in agreement. 



Suddenly a burst of giggles broke out from the compartment next-door. They fell silent, listening to the laughter, each wondering how people could laugh while the wizarding world was in peril. Whoever was laughing probably hadn’t seen the article in the Daily Prophet and were blissfully unaware of the true danger of the situation. Their conversation was free from such things as the Ministry’s ability to save the crisis or future attacks. 



At that moment, the train slowed to a stop and slowly, the group was pulled from their dark thoughts that burdened their minds. 



The girls got up to gather their belongings and the Marauders bid them goodbye and left to get their own. Remus, on the contrary, watched his friends depart then turned to Lily, who was bent over her trunk.



“Er—Lily?”



Lily straightened and gave him a confused sort of smile. Summer, Tara, and Di continued with what they were doing, though all three of them had sharpened their ears in interest.



“So. Doing anything special over the holiday?” he asked, clearly trying to be as casual as possible.



“No, not really. Just family stuff, you know. What about you?”



“Yeah, just family stuff…nothing special,” he answered. Then he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and continued. “Um— I was wondering if we could get together some time over the break. Maybe get lunch or something?”



“Sure, that would be nice,” said Lily brightly, a little surprised, but pleasantly so. “Just send me an owl whenever and we can work out a day.”



Lily nodded. Remus exhaled, as though he had been holding his breath for the past few minutes. His tense face relaxed into a big smile.



She looked around and became aware of the absence of her friends, who had taken their things and quietly left the compartment to give them some privacy.



“I guess I’ll see you then,” he said with a grin.



Then, as if struck by a gust of confidence, he bent down and softly kissed her smiling lips in one swift movement. Lily, amazed by his boldness, smiled wider.



“Yes…can’t wait!”



“Well, bye. Happy Christmas, Lily,” said Remus and practically skipped out of the compartment.



Lily jumped around and grabbed her things, feeling much livelier than she had five minutes before. She walked off the train with a bounce in her step despite the heavy trunk she was dragging. Out on the platform, Summer, Tara, and Di found her, their eyebrows raised in anticipation.



So?! What happened?” Tara demanded.



“Well,” began Lily slowly. “He asked to see me over the holiday-”



“Yeah, yeah. We heard that! Then what?” cried Tara impatiently.



“He just said he’d see me then,” shrugged Lily, enjoying the opportunity to tantalize her friends.



“That’s all? He didn’t…do anything else?” asked Summer.



“He did…um…well…” Lily said, loving the effect of suspense had on her friends.



“Just tell us, Lily!” cried Di, who was rarely driven to aggravation.



“Alright! He…kissed me,” Lily said reluctantly, giggling a little.



Summer made a triumphant gesture with her fist, Tara hooted, and Di laughed.



“How was it?” Tara inquired, wiggling her eyebrows playfully as they began to walk toward the exit. “Is he a good kisser?”



“It was just a little kiss. Nothing…long or anything like that,” explained Lily, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “But it was nice.”



“I suppose you’re looking forward to some more of that, eh?” said Summer slyly, nudging Lily’s arm as they emerged from the platform through the steel barrier. “You’ll get the perfect chance when you see him over the holiday.”



Lily blushed.



“Lily!” called a deep, familiar voice. “Over here!”



“Dad!” shouted Lily, and pushed her way though the crowd toward where her parents stood, beaming.



Her father engulfed her in an enormous hug and planted a juicy raspberry on her cheek, something her had done ever since she was an infant.



“Oh, my baby!” exclaimed her mother, and as soon as Lily was released, she was swept up in another strangling embrace.



“What are you looking so happy about…aside from seeing us?” asked her dad with a knowing grin.



“Bye Lil! We’ll talk to over the holiday!”



As Lily turned around at the sound of Summer’s voice, her attention focused on a girl with shiny dark hair and heavy-lidded eyes talking with a woman with identical drooping eyelids. Bellatrix noticed Lily looking at her and shot her a sneering smirk.



Lily went cold as the Death Eater attack came rushing back to her. Perhaps that woman had been part of it. She quickly broke eye contact and waved absently to her friends before leaving the station under her mother’s loving arm.



 



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



 



The air filled with a series of piercing popping noises and as quickly as they had come, the dark masked figures were gone. 



With them went the desperate feeling of utter confusion, turmoil, and terror that had swarmed the scene so thickly that it was suffocating to those in the midst of it. Behind them they left what had been a cheerfully busy street filled with happy families preparing for the holiday as a place where destruction, pain, and loss flooded every corner. 



It had transformed from a source of liveliness and joy to a dark, shadowy grave, poisoned by murder and unmerciful hatred. A deathly silence followed the abrupt departure of those responsible for the transformation. It stung deep into the unfortunate souls who had been so harshly forced to witness it, forever scarring them. The eerie silence screamed with agonizing grief and fear. It deafened the onlookers and the most they could do was stand motionless in shock.



They had watched helplessly as the lives of their friends and loved ones were viciously stolen without as much as a breath of warning. They had watched as people around them fell to the ground, flailing in pain, their eyes pleading to be killed to end the brutal torture. They had watched the beginning of the end of the beloved world they knew.



Then, with sudden realization, safety had temporarily returned, the survivors quickly hustled about the darkened street, tending to victims who had been spared. 



The snow-covered alley glistened with a foreboding, greenish glow. The source of the unnatural tint came from above. A mark hovered high in a deep, black sky scattered with stars that continued to twinkle innocently despite the tragedy below. The mark was comprised of tiny emerald stars, forming a colossal skull with a long serpent hanging from its mouth like a tongue. 



Next to this sinister image was a message engraved into the night sky, the letters of which were made up of the same small green stars. The message read:



 



BEHOLD THE WORK OF LORD VOLDEMORT, THE GREATEST SORCEROR IN THE WORLD



 



The wizarding population was introduced to Voldemort that night. He would soon become known as the Dark Lord as he brought more and more evil into the world, destroying and tarnishing lives without a second thought. It wouldn’t be long before members of the community could not even bring themselves to speak his name. Future generations would be taught to fear him. 



It wouldn’t be until a certain baby boy, unbeknownst to anyone at that time, entered the world blinking his big green eyes, would hope be restored. This newly risen Dark Lord had many years before he would meet his young equal and for now, he planned to rule with fear and hatred.



The world changed that fateful December night when Lord Voldemort left his first mark on the lives of the hardworking and the innocent, on the hearts of the tender and the loving. 



The first mark, of many to come.



 



 








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