"Where's Elle?" asked Remus frantically, as he and Sirius were moved with the crowd of Gryffindors on the their way back to their tower.
"You saw her out on the field a few minutes ago," said Sirius, moving his friend along. "She's fine, Moony."
Meanwhile, Elle had dropped her broomstick on the ground and was running towards the Gryffindors. "Remus?" she called, her voice high-pitched with fear.
She brushed her sweaty hair out of her face as she reached her House, trying to calm down a little bit. They were easy to follow, with their colors of red and gold. She followed the crowd back in through the castle, finally getting in through the portrait hole.
Elle quickly scanned the crowded common room and spotted Remus and Sirius near the back of the room. She pushed past people in her attempt to hurry over to them, nearly knocking into a small, crying first-year as she broke into a run. As soon as she reached him, Elle buried her head in Remus's chest, and he wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly to him.
"It's alright," he murmured, rocking her gently. "We're fine. We're all fine."
"Where's Brigid?" asked Sirius abruptly.
Elle looked up, alarmed. "I don't know," she said, looking around nervously.
"Sh-she went to the library," said Peter, suddenly appearing next to them and causing Sirius to jump.
"Did she?" asked Sirius, brushing his hair out of his eyes. "I suppose they'll be keeping them safe there, then?"
"Probably," said Remus, kissing the top of Elle's head.
The portrait hole swung open, and Albus Dumbledore stepped in, accompanied by Professor McGonagall. James and Lily slipped in behind them, and they slowly made their way over to their friends, James supporting Lily, who looked dazed and as though she was going to faint again.
When they reached the other Marauders, Sirius tried to catch James's eye, but it wasn't working. In fact, James seemed to be avoiding eye contact completely. He had his arm around Lily's waist, and she was leaning heavily against him. And she's crying, thought Sirius, his heart jumping to his throat.
"Who is it?" whispered Elle, her eyes wide in fear.
Lily didn't even look up.
Finally, Dumbledore spoke, his voice ripping through the tension in the room. "There has been a death," he said, his face bearing an expression of great sadness. "It seems Voldemort's dark shadow has finally reached us here."
Elle pressed up against Remus, trembling. She was torn between wanting to know and wanting it to stay a secret forever. She glanced over at James and Lily, both who were looking completely shaken. It would have been normal for Lily to be upset for anyone, but even James looked near tears. But he wouldn't cry, she thought frantically. Unless it was someone from-
"The student murdered was from this house," continued Dumbledore slowly. "The seventh-year, Brigid Mullins."
Siriu's jaw dropped, and he stared in disbelief. "No," he said hoarsely. "That's not possible."
Dumbledore's blue-eyed gaze drifted over to him, and he bowed his head slightly. "You will stay here for the rest of the night," he said. "Nobody is to leave for any reason what-so-ever."
And so he left, followed by a crying Professor McGonagall.
Sirius made his way over to James and, pushing Lily out of the way, grabbed his shoulders. "It's not true," he barked. "You tell me it's not true!"
James raised his eyes to look at his best friend. "It's true," he muttered.
Sirius dropped his arms and stared off into space, his expression lost. Tears began rolling down his cheeks, as he whispered, "Brigid."
He dropped to his knees and buried his face in his hands, sobbing wildly. "She can't be dead," came the muffled cry. "She can't be dead."
James glanced nervously at Lily, who had tears streaming down her own cheeks. "Talk to him," she said softly, her voice cracking.
"I can't," muttered James.
Lily threw him a look of disgust and knelt next to Sirius, putting her arms around him.
He looked up at her and shook his head. "It's a joke, right?" he said desperately. "Brigid."
"I only wish it were," she whispered.
"How could she leave me, Lily?" asked Sirius, his voice choking with sobs. "She can't leave me!"
"I know," she murmured, hugging him.
Remus had led Elle over to the arm chair, both in shock. Elle hadn't said anything yet and seemed to be having a hard time comprehending what had happened. Remus knew it was best to let the truth sink in before trying to get her to speak.
"Brigid's dead," she whispered finally.
She turned to Remus, and he nodded slowly. Her blue eyes filled with tears, and her face scrunched up in despair. She pressed her head against Remus's chest, completely breaking down.
Remus, feeling his throat tighten, kissed her head and closed his eyes to keep away the tears. Why is this happening to us?
"Padfoot?" muttered James.
Lily and Sirius both looked up, their faces streaked with tears. James, who had been holding back his own tears, felt himself choking up.
"Prongs," said Sirius hoarsely, nodding curtly.
"I'm sorry," said James, blinking hard.
Sirius swallowed hard. "Yeah," he said, starting to stand. "I'm going to call it a night."
He headed towards the stairs, but just as he reached them, he turned back. "You know," he said, his eyes filling with tears again. "I think I might have actually eventually married her."
Maudie Oakley sat in her bed, gripping her covers tightly. Brigid's dead, she thought. People are dying. People I know.
She jumped as the door opened, and Elle stepped in.
"Elle!" cried Maudie, leaping out of bed.
The chubby girl threw her arms around her dorm mate and cried into her shoulder. "Where's Sharon?" asked Elle tonelessly.
"In the Hospital Wing," said Maudie, sniffing loudly. "When she collapsed, they took her down there." She clutched Elle's arm. "You're not going to leave me, are you?"
Elle, who been fully intended to go spend the night with Remus, slowly shook her head. "I won't leave you alone," she said softly.
A few hours later, Elle lay awake in bed, staring at her bed curtains. She was trying not to the think about the absence of Brigid's soft snores. Brigid's dead, she thought, her heart clenching in what felt like agony.
Images exploded in her head. Memories. Memories of times so long ago.
She could see her first ride on the train, sitting terrified, all alone. The compartment door slid open, and a bouncy girl with blonde pigtails stepped through, dragging her trunk. She seemed to glow with a excitement and a confidence that Elle knew she would never have.
Elle turned away, focusing outside the window, hoping that the girl would go away.
Instead, she sat down. "I'm Brigid," she said, her voice sounding so young. "Brigid Mullins. Who are you?"
Twelve year old Brigid, Lily, and Elle walking down the hallway with their books clutched in their arms, when at least three dozen water balloons came crashing down on their heads. Lily screamed and tried in vain to cover her books. But Brigid, Elle smiled through her tears as she remembered, Brigid immediately raced away, up the nearest staircase. There was a shout, and four boys shot out of hiding, as the blonde girl ran towards them, looking much like a charging bull. James was in the lead, his long legs carrying him faster than the others. Next came Remus and Sirius, neck and neck. And Peter, always the slow one, was huffing and puffing to keep up. "Get them, Brigid!" screamed Lily. Brigid jumped forward as she ran and tackled Peter, who came crashing to the ground.
"Can you believe we're already fourth-years?" asked Lily, as she and Elle stepped into a compartment. Just as they shut the door behind them, it as flung open, and a tall, blonde girl was framed in the doorway. "Hello, my sexy ladies!"
"Brigid!" said Lily, her mouth hanging open. "You got tall!"
The fourteen-year old Brigid opened her mouth and let out a loud laugh-a laugh that grabbed at Elle's heartstrings as she lay there remembering. But somehow, she couldn't seem to make it stop
"Sirius-fucking-Black, I'm going to kill you!"
Elle could see Brigid, who had been forced to share a cauldron with Sirius, after Professor Slughorn had decided that he had melted enough cauldrons for one week. As the memory Elle, turned her head, she could see that Brigid's-I'd forgotten she used to have bangs-bangs had grown over her eyes and were now reaching past her waist. "Now, now, Miss Mullins," said Professor Slughorn amiably. "I can't have that kind of language in my classroom."
And so came Brigid's first detention. Elle gave a bitter smile. But certainly not her first.
Brigid grabbing Sirius in the middle of the hallway and snogging him.
Brigid and Sirius tumbling in the snow.
Brigid looking beautiful as she finally got Sirius to dance with her.
Elle sat up in bed, crying quietly. I don't care if I said I wouldn't leave, she thought, sliding out of bed. I need him right now.
As she reached the door, the doorknob turned and Sharon appeared.
The girl's mournful blue eyes met Elle's, and she silently gave her a hug.
Without a single word, the blue-haired girl clumsily made her way over to her bed.
Feeling slightly less guilty, now that Maudie was no longer alone, Elle stepped outside and climbed down the stairs. The firelight illuminated the unusually empty common room. As she glanced over at the armchairs that the Marauders had claimed as their own, she could see in her mind's eye, Brigid and Sirius smiling and laughing.
She headed over to the boy's staircase and made her way up. She knocked softly on the door. There was a faint sound of rustling and footsteps, and then the door open. Remus stood in his boxers and a white tee-shirt. He took one look at her disheveled hair and tear-stained face and, taking her hand, led her inside. "He just fell sleep," he whispered.
"I couldn't sleep," muttered Elle, climbing into Remus's bed.
He lay down next to her, kissing her forehead softly. "Try now."
And in the arms of the man she loved, Elle slowly fell into her dreams. Dreams in which seventh-year was not drawing to a close. Dreams in which there was no threat of a Voldemort. Dreams in which Brigid was still very much alive.
Dreams which could no longer be true.
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