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Chapter 6: Losing it all
I stepped off the train, not entirely certain of anything. It had been a very long trip. After boarding the Hogwarts Express I spent several hours completely alone. Not even the Trolley Lady was there. All of the time alone took a toll on my mind. By the time I got off at King’s Cross I was ready to beat my head in. From there I caught a muggle train that took me to the coast where I got on a ferry to Northern Ireland. I then walked the short distance to the train station, waited about an hour, and was on the last leg of my journey. It was very early in the morning when it finally stopped. When I got out I had expected my mother or Sean to be there, but no one was in sight.
“Nienna!” a voice called out to me. The female voice startled me. I turned around to face Alorah, my sister-in-law. It was hard to believe that the chubby, black-haired woman was Sarah’s older sister.
“Alorah, what are you…” Before I could finish she threw her arms around me and immediately began sobbing.
“Thank goodness you’re here!”
“What’s going on?”
She let go of me and wiped her eyes. “I can’t explain here. Let’s go.” She grabbed my things and led me to the muggle car Sean and her owned.
Once we had piled everything in she drove quickly to the little house my brother had bought when they got married. No words were exchanged on the short trip and when we arrived I once again expected Sean to be there.
Alorah immediately stepped out of the car and popped the trunk so we could grab my belongings before rushing me into the house and locking the door. After that she cast several spells to ensure that no one could get through the door. I sat down in a chair in the kitchen as she reinforced the whole house.
I couldn’t understand what was going on. I had never seen Alorah so frantic, so scared. She ran about the house for five minutes casting protective spells everywhere. Her actions were bothering me so much I grabbed my own wand and cast a couple over the whole house. Finally she began to settle down and sat across from me. Her eyes showed a kind of fright I had never known.
“Alorah,” I began slowly. “Where’s Sean? Where’s Bobby?”
Fat tears swelled in her eyes. “They’re gone. Everyone is gone. Your mum, Sean, my…my baby!” Violent sobs shook her body.
“Wha…what are you saying?” Chills ran through my body, already guessing what she was going to say.
“There have been attacks Nienna. A couple days ago Sean took Bobby over to see your mum and…and…they never came back! They were found that night when Dr. Mavros went to see your mum after she didn’t go to her appointment. It was nothing short of a massacre. I can’t…” Sobs over took her. Silent tears ran down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe it. There was no way.
I slowly stood and walked over to one of the windows. The sun was quickly rising. “When are the funerals?”
In two days. Sarah’s coming with my parents,” she choked out. I grabbed some tissues and took them to her. She greedily took them and blew loudly. I stared at her. Why wasn’t I acting like that? Why, except for the few tears falling from my eyes, was I not crying? I shook my head. Maybe I was just too tired to believe any of this.
“I’m going to go lay down,” I announced walking out of the room. Alorah blew her nose again in response. With my wand I lifted my belongings up the steep stairs to the spare room.
Once I entered the room I dropped my things and flopped on to the bed. As I closed my eyes I hoped beyond hope that I would wake up in my dorm and all of this would have just been a bad dream.
Alorah warned me the next morning that nothing was cleaned up and that the sight was not going to be pretty. Still, as dawn broke I left my brother’s house and made the five kilometer walk to my home. I used the free time to prepare myself for whatever I was about to encounter. I reminded myself that I had come across tragedy before and I had been able to get through it. Unfortunately, I knew nothing I had gone through before was going to prepare me for this.
I forced myself to look at the ground the whole way. I didn’t want to see it before I was ready. Of course, to my dismay I came to the house well before I was ready. I had stopped at the front gate and took a moment to breathe in before I let my eyes wander to the house. The once large beautiful home was now splotched black with burn marks. It looked as though it had been abandoned for years. Several windows were shattered, shingles and siding littered the surrounding yard. I could feel a lump in my throat, but I did my best to swallow it down.
With steps slower than a sloth, I made my way to the house. Every step became heavier and slower. I was almost to the door when a loud bark stopped me. I turned my head to the side of the house to see Charlie, the half German shepherd half wolf my father had given to me before he died. He limped over to me and I slowly knelt to pet him. His fur was matted and chunks were missing. Tears began to swell in my eyes as I softly pet him. If this is what became of my dog, I couldn’t imagine what happened to my family. Charlie nuzzled my cheek with his cold nose and then licked it. After lightly kissing him I stood and grabbed the handle. My hand shook as I did and I thought about not going through with it. I made myself turn the handle and push the door open and as soon as I did I wish I had stayed with Alorah.
Dark red stains were splattered on all surfaces. Furniture was toppled over and broken ceramics and glass was strewn across the floor. I hesitated at the doorway, not sure if I could continue, but Charlie nudged me forward. Cautiously, I stepped through the wreckage. I couldn’t believe it. The whole house was in total disarray. Pictures were scattered across the floors along with other debris, most of which I couldn’t make out. I spent little time downstairs before I climbed the steps. More blood covered everything. According to Alorah the second floor was where they’re remains were found. I explored the floor, but most of the stuff had been torched.
With Charlie following me I pulled down the ladder to the attic and climbed up the rickety wood rungs. To my surprise everything was intact. It didn’t seem like anyone had bothered to come up here. The boxes my mother had spent hours meticulously packing were just as always; each with their very specific labels. My composure was finally starting to crack. The horror of the lower floors was sinking in and the reality of everything came rushing at me.
I fell to the ground as tears rolled from my eyes. I stared at the boxes of my past: Sean’s baby clothes, C.J.’s toys, Nienna’s dancing outfits. I choked on the lump in my throat and my sobs began. I reached over to the box with my name and opened it up. Three pairs of dancing shoes, one soft, one hard, and one glittery lay on top. Underneath were several folded up costumes and gowns in a variety of colors and embroidery. My sobs continued to grow as I lifted them out one by one. As I unfolded them I found pictures, some still and some moving, inside them. Shaking I looked them over. In the first one was a picture of my father and I after his last competition. His golden trophy was held in one hand while he held me with the other. In the next was after my first performance. It was a moving picture. I stood in the middle, a bright smile on my face. Next to me stood Sean and C.J. As they always did they were fooling around, trying to give each other bunny ears. Behind me was my mother. Her young face sparkled as tears of joy filled her eyes. I remembered the day perfectly. It was the happiest moment we had shared after my dad’s death. I broke down more and found myself unable to continue. My sobs shook my whole body. What was I going to do? Everything, everyone, they were gone.
A small shuffle brought me back to the reality of where I was. My head popped up and I carefully laid the pictures on the ground. Everything was silent again, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was there. I sniffled and wiped my eyes before pulling out my wand, more than ready to use it.
“Show yourself!” I yelled. The fear of what could be lurking didn’t even cross my mind. Charlie growled and led me to where the sound had come from. It was on the other side of the attic. I looked around the boxes, but found nothing. Charlie sniffed at one of them and immediately began barking. I looked down at it. It was labeled Ellie’s dresses. I knelt down slowly to open it up. Lying on top were the many bright dresses Ellie had out grown, but something was wrong. The dresses smelled disgusting. It was like entering an old outhouse, the stench was overwhelming. I gagged and began to shut it back up, but Charlie kept barking.
“Oh, c’mon Charlie, it’s just soiled dresses.” Just as the words were out of my mouth it dawned on me. My mum was constantly cleaning. Everything had to be perfect or it was trashed. She never would have packed away soiled clothes.
I kicked the box and a whimper came from it. With my wand I dumped out the contents, not realizing how unready I was for what was to come out.
“Ellie!” I screamed. On the ground, surrounded by the dirty clothes, was my little sister. She was crying and squirming, trying to crawl away, but I grabbed her sharply. “Ellie?”
She stopped moving as soon as she looked up into my face. “Nen?” Her face was dirty and she smelled of sweat and waste. Her shaking arms wrapped themselves around my waist and she sobbed into them. I lightly patted her greasy hair. I didn’t know what to think. How did Ellie manage to survive when no one else could? “Nienna, I was so…so scared!”
I pushed her back so I could look at her face. I couldn’t help but be overcome with a joy I didn’t think was possible to feel at a time like this. I picked her up as I began crying too. “It’s okay, El. I’m here. You’re going to be okay. I promise.”