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Chapter 16: Shadows
“All right, guys,” I begin at the first meeting of Unity after the Christmas holidays. “We’re at war. And war means fighting. Please raise your hand if you are willing to fight for the cause.”
About thirty people raise their hands, and I can’t help smiling. I was half expecting Scorpius and I to face DOWIAH on our lonesomes.
“Good. I now pronounce those of you with your hands raised as faithful members of One Hogwarts. Please come forth and sign your name on this piece of parchment.”
“That was straightforward,” Scorpius comments.
“No need to be overly complicated about such things. We need to start thinking about how to train this army.”
“We re-establish Dragons Awakening, of course. Open only to One Hogwarts.”
“You’re a genius.”
“I do try. Professor Lupin, can we use this classroom for an extra night a week?”
“You’d be better off in the Room of Requirement,” Teddy replies, “And I’ll meet you there when I can, help you out.”
“Done. We’ll meet tomorrow night…Hey guys!” I call, addressing everyone who put their hands up for One Hogwarts. “Tomorrow night at seven for the first meeting, in the Room of Requirement!”
“I hate that room,” someone comments. “It seems far too complex.”
“It’s not. The default place for the door to show up is the seventh-floor opposite Barmy Barnabus’s tapestry, but it can move around if it’s required to—you know, because it’s a Room of Requirement…But we won’t need it to. Just walk past the spot, thinking “Man, I’d like to see the meeting place for One Hogwarts” or something along those lines.”
“So it’s not going to move around or anything trippy like that?”
“It shouldn’t. In fact, we’ll require it to stay in one place.”
“What about security?”
“We’ll ask it to only admit members of One Hogwarts. It’s the Room of Requirement, it can do anything.”
“And it’ll hold them out? DOWIAH and such?”
“You want to hear about what the Room can do, ask Professor Longbottom,” I tell them. “He and other members of Dumbledore’s Army hid from Death Eaters in there for weeks during the second Wizarding War. Gave them beds, a bathroom, access to food, you name it.”
“Did your parents hide in there?” someone asks.
“My parents?” I repeat. “My parents were too cool for that. They spent seventh year hunting Voldemort’s Horcruxes.”
The following evening, thirty people make it safely to the Room of Requirement, which takes the form of a long hall equipped with cushions and spellbooks. I can’t help but wonder if it looked like this for Dumbledore’s Army in my parents’ day.
“All right,” I call, and the chattering slowly subsides. “Everyone made it all right? I just realised I completely forgot something. Anyone who is not of age, please raise your hands. I don’t care if it’s your birthday tomorrow or next Monday or your mum says you’re as mature as a seventeen year old or you’ve been illegally Apparating for years, I want your hands in the air. Okay, you three, back to your common rooms. Sorry.”
The three sixth-years get up from the floor, muttering amongst themselves, and I watch them depart.
“Glad I remembered that,” I comment. “Don’t want kids fighting in battle. Now, I want to ask you all a serious question.”
Scorpius shoots me a disbelieving look.
“Don’t be ashamed to put up your hand. In fact, I would be surprised if you didn’t. It’s a reflection of human nature. Please, raise your hand, anyone who has ever sat in Defence Against the Dark Arts and asked either yourselves or the person next to you, or, even more impressively, your professor, that age-old question, ‘When are we ever going to use this in real life?’”
Half the assembled group raise their hands.
“Okay, and the rest of you are lying,” I inform them. “Because let’s face it. We are Generation Peace. Our parents and grandparents were embroiled in wizarding wars, and they’ve done all they can to keep peace and protect us little munchkins. We sit in DADA and we think, honestly, unless we’re planning to become Aurors, we ain’t gonna need this. Am I right?”
This time, there’s quite a loud murmur of assent.
“Well, let me answer the age old question. When are you going to use this in real life? Now, ladies (And yes, I’m aware there are boys here, but I’m calling you all ladies to insinuate something and make you more motivated to be big curse-throwing manly men.) We are about 97.998% sure that the Honour Guard, the elite army of DOWIAH, is comprised entirely of Dark wizards. I hope that doesn’t alarm you.”
The faces looking back at me indeed turn to alarm. To be honest, I knew I was expecting too much from them.
“Don’t look at me like that!” I protest. “If our parents could fight Dark wizards when they were our age and younger, we sure as hell can take them on. Let me tell you all something. We’re not going into this unprepared. Professor Lupin is going to help us prepare, and Head Auror Harry Potter—yeah, you’ve all heard of him—will be coming in as well. You’re looking calmer already.”
“We’re not just a group of unprepared, unskilled students,” Scorpius says quietly. “I don’t know how much you’ve heard about me or about my family. I’d be an idiot not to think the rumours have been flying around since the Battle of Hogwarts. But it’s likely that everything you’ve heard about my family is true. We have some major skeletons in the closet. Why am I telling you this? Because there was a time when my father and my grandfather came under the jurisdiction of the greatest Dark wizard ever known. There was a time when my father and grandfather were loyal Death Eaters, and when they were Death Eaters, they learned of magic so dark you can’t imagine it.”
Scorpius’s voice shakes, and I take his hand and squeeze it. “My father was sixteen when he was forced into the Death Eaters. He was given the task of killing Albus Dumbledore, but he couldn’t go through with it. He was asked to betray friends and classmates, watch people get tortured and murdered. He saw horrors he can never forget, and heard of things so terrible we can’t even comprehend them.”
He’s trembling now, but he keeps talking. “My father has seen first hand what Dark magic does. It corrupts, it divides, it ruins, it destroys. Since I was old enough to hold a wand, he has taught me every counter-curse, every block, every way of defending myself against the Dark Arts. He has told me the effects of every curse he ever learned or ever saw, so I can recognise it, and know what I’m up against. And I tell you right now, it is possible to defeat the Dark Arts. It is possible to defend yourself. And I, and Rose, and Professor Lupin, and Professor Longbottom, and Harry Potter, will make damn bloody sure the lot of us are prepared and able to fight the worst the Dark Arts have to offer.”
“You’re, ah, joking, right?” I ask weakly.
“Would I joke about such matters?” Pomfrey asks sharply. “You, Miss Potter, are most definitely pregnant.”
“But…I can’t be.”
“I’d love to hear how,” she says tartly.
Fuck my life.
“Do you know who the father is?” she continues.
“Bloody Merlin, I’m not that much of a slut,” I say hotly. Her accusatory tone is really getting to me.
“No need for that language.” She bustles around, rummaging through bottles of potions and coming back to me. “Strengthening Solution.”
I made that stuff in Potions last week. A weird thought.
“You’ll return to class after a brief rest,” Pomfrey continues. “There are, of course, a number of procedures that must be followed when dealing with a student pregnancy. Your parents will have to be informed—”
“You can’t be planning on keeping it a secret.”
“I’ll tell them,” I say emphatically. “I don’t want them finding out from you or McGonagall or an owl casually sent out this afternoon.”
“If you say so. You’ll also have to come in every once in a while for a checkup…”
“I’d rather go to Mungo’s.”
“It’s not an option, Miss Potter. There are procedures in place. The school takes a very firm stance on issues such as this.”
“It didn’t happen at school!”
“Calm down. Where it happened is irrelevant. You are still a student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and we hold a high expectation of behavior from our students, whether on the grounds or off.”
Listening to Pomfrey’s admonishment is the last straw. Panic is already threatening to take over; panic, disbelief, this can’t be happening, I’m trapped, what can I do? It takes me several moments to realise the loud sobbing I can hear is coming from me, but I don’t care. How could this happen? How could I have been so stupid? What’s going to happen to me now? My life is over, everything I planned to do, over. I’m sixteen fucking years old!
Pomfrey dismisses me from the hospital wing after another half hour, but I hide out in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom instead of going to class.
“Lily Potter,” Myrtle gushes, flitting across the top of the cubicles. “What are you doing here?”
“Revelling in my fucking amazing life, obviously.”
“You’re in a mood. Did your boyfriend dump you?”
“No, he did not,” I say icily.
“Didn’t fail a test, did you?”
I ignore her. “Don’t suppose you speak Parseltongue, do you?” I ask, eyeing the snake engraved on the top of one of the taps. Going and dying in the Chamber of Secrets sounds like an appealing idea to me right now. With my parents’ history in the place, it would be oddly symbolic.
“No,” Myrtle says. “But that boy did.”
“What boy?” I ask, not really paying attention.
“The boy. He went down there once. He was very good looking. I helped him with his Triwizard Task. He was in the Prefects’ Bathroom, and I talked to him.” Myrtle lets out a high-pitched giggle. “And watched him. Bit before your time, of course.”
Oh dear, sweet Merlin, she’s talking about my dad.
“Scuse me,” I manage to mutter, “I’m going to be sick.”
“We need to talk,” I hiss to Lorcan, intercepting him as he comes out of Potions at the end of the day.
“Those are the most frightening words I’ve heard in a long time.”
I tow him through the castle to a far corner of the quadrangle, scale a tree and cast muffliato amongst its branches.
“What in Merlin’s name is this all about?” he asks.
“I’m fucked, Lorcan.”
“Because I’m pregnant.”
He stares at me, those blue Scamander eyes wide and unblinking with shock.
He shakes his head wordlessly, but his knuckles have gone white as he digs his nails into the bark. He raises one hand, runs it across his forehead and through his hair, before gripping the branch again. He’s shaking.
“Lorcan?” I ask worriedly, hearing the pleading in my voice. Say something. Anything. Please. You’re scaring me.
In one swift motion, he leaps down from the tree and strides away, leaving the branches shaking.
“Lorcan!” I scream after him, but he doesn’t hear me. I cling to the trunk of the tree, shivering and sobbing uncontrollably as an icy wind rushes through the branches. I’m alone. So alone, and no one can hear me.
“Shit,” Natalia says when I run into the Room of Requirement with seconds to spare. “We thought we’d have to leave you behind.”
“I’m here,” I mutter, lunging for the Portkey, which this time is Emily’s hairbrush. It glows brightly, and I feel the familiar jerking sensation as it spins into nothingness.
“Welcome back,” Medea says when we arrive at Headquarters. “Good Christmas?”
“Shit Christmas,” I reply.
Lorcan glances at me, then looks away. He hasn’t spoken to me at all since I told him, and his dismissal is like a kick in the guts.
“Someone’s in a good mood,” Medea drawls, raising one eyebrow at me. “Brighten up, Potter. We’ve got an interesting lesson lined up for you lot today.”
“Enlighten us,” Emily says.
“The Cruciatus,” Medea says, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “One of my favourites, because it’s so effective. Now, because I have no desire for any of us to be tortured, I’ve had to import a victim. Don’t look at me like that. I may have been on many occasions compared to the infamous Bellatrix Lestrange, however, torturing a person for no reason other than education or amusement isn’t high on my list of fun. There is one fundamental difference between myself and Bellatrix: She was stark raving mad, and I have my wits about me. Serpensortia.”
I leap back as a snake bursts out of her wand and slithers along the floor towards me. “Go away,” I yelp.
The snake pauses, eyeing me. Why?
“It’s fucking talking!” I cry, looking wildly around the room. Lorcan, Natalia, Medea, Octavian and Cadmus are staring at me.
“Well, well, well,” Octavian drawls. “A Parselmouth, like her father.”
“I’m not a Parselmouth!”
“Funny,” Octavian muses. “Because it was Parseltongue we heard from you moments ago.”
“I’m not a Parselmouth,” I say, staring at the snake, “I’ve never done that before in my life.”
“And how many snakes have you come across?” Medea asks. “Not many, I daresay.”
“No, but…I would know if I was.”
“Look at the snake, Lily.”
What am I doing here?
“Apparently, I’m lying to it,” I say, dumbfounded.
“Keep lying to it, else it’ll attack us,” Medea replies off-handedly. “Natalia, you know the incantation, I trust.”
Natalia steps forth and the snake seems to switch its gaze from me to her and back again.
What is she going to do to me?
No, I’m not doing this anymore. Just my fucking luck we have to torture a snake that can talk to me.
I turn my back on the thing, taking my place beside Lorcan.
“Going to talk to me yet?” I whisper.
“I’m sorry,” he replies, eyes fixated on Natalia and the snake. “I need…time.”
“And I need you,” I hiss back angrily. “Or did that not occur to you?”
“I said I’m sorry,” he replies in a clipped voice. “And this isn’t the time or place.”
The five of us take turns casting the Cruciatus on the snake. It never speaks again.
A/N: Sorry about how long it takes me to update, I have a number of different stories on the go. Things are getting much darker now, aren't they? Let me know what you think! And a massive thank you to nitenel for the Dobby nomination, it means so much!