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Chapter 18 : Over My Head (Cable Car)
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Also, don't mock me for using a song by The Fray for a title! FYI, I loved that song since it was free on iTunes many moons ago! I ain't no sell-out!
From October to December, five Order members, 87 wizards and witches, and 145 Muggles died at the hands of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Each week left Rhian more bewildered than the last at the exponential growth of the death and destruction. The world could not keep going on like this for much longer. Within five years, either the Order of the Phoenix or Voldemort would win. Rhian really, really hoped it wouldn’t be Voldemort.
While Rhian spent many stressful nights at Order meetings, Will was almost blissfully unaware of any nationwide disarray. Sure, he had noticed an unusual number of serious storms and unexplained, mass accidents, but Rhian knew he had not linked any of these deaths in his mind.
Was it better to be a Muggle and have no idea that your group was the target of a massive genocide? Rhian felt it didn’t much matter what the answer to this question was, because she was not a Muggle and she knew that they, Muggle-borns, and their friends were victims of the war. She was training almost every day, at the Auror department and Order headquarters, to fight for the side that she believed was right.
“Lily, can you believe that next week will be our ninth Christmas together?” Rhian asked when she, Will, Lily, and James were out to Christmas Eve dinner.
“I just can’t believe that we’re old enough to have done something for nine years!” said Lily.
“And next Christmas you will be able to have some turkey, baby Harry!” said Rhian gleefully to Lily’s stomach. “And Mummy will be able to have wine again, which will make Mummy very happy!”
“Will, she’s been talking nonstop to my stomach for two months. Can you do something?” Lily tried to come across as exasperated, but Rhian knew she was entertained.
“Are you kidding? When she’s not around you, all she talks about is Harry. She’s so excited, I don’t want to disappoint her.” Will grinned.
“But has she stopped talking to inanimate objects?” James joked. He had not only accepted Will’s high place in Rhian’s life long ago, he had warmed up to him and they had become friends.
“Let’s just say that the television is never lonely when we watch cricket.” Will smirked.
“Uncle Will and Daddy think Aunt Rhian is mad,” Rhian patted Lily’s stomach, “but Aunt Rhian secretly knows that the players can hear her and take direction, yes they can!”
“Mummy also thinks Aunt Rhian is mad,” Lily said, swatting away Rhian’s hand, “because Mummy knows that the baby cannot hear Rhian!”
“Mummy didn’t mean it!” Rhian continued to talk to Lily’s stomach. “Mummy loves you very much! Almost as much as Aunt Rhian!”
“I think it’s time for the bill, then,” said Will, getting the waiter’s attention.
“Put your wallet away, Carlyle, I’ve got it,” said James, taking out his own.
“No, no, you footed it last time,” Will insisted.
“That’s not true! We asked you to dinner last time, and you paid the time before that,” James argued.
“We definitely did not pay two weeks ago!” said Will.
“How about we split the bill?” Lily suggested, hoping to avoid the argument than always broke out whenever the two couples went out to dinner.
“I suppose that’s logical,” James conceded.
“Fine,” said Will. “But I’m paying for you,” he added to Rhian.
“What can I do?” she shrugged and smiled.
As they left the restaurant, Rhian leaned down and whispered to the unborn Harry Potter, “And you get your Christmas present from me next week!”
“What could you possibly give my negative seven-month-old son?” asked Lily.
“Ssh, it’s a surprise!” said Rhian very seriously.
“Aw, Lily, it’s nice that Rhian got Harry a gift,” James smirked.
“And it’s entirely within my character,” Rhian self-advocated.
“Thoughtful, generous, and quirky in the best possible way,” Will added.
“I think someone has a little crush on me.” Rhian reached up and pinched Will’s cheeks.
“Ow!” he protested. “Not anymore!”
“Well, we’re this way,” said Lily as they reached an intersection. “See you guys!”
The group said their goodbyes and parted ways.
As they walked to their flat, Will said, “I’ve got that job fair in Birmingham tomorrow. Remember? I told you about it a few weeks ago.”
“Oh yeah.” Rhian remembered that indeed he had mentioned something about a job fair thingy.
“I also told you that it was two days and it’s too far away to come home in between?”
“That’s still okay, right? I know it’s right before Christmas.”
“Of course it’s alright,” said Rhian warmly. “If you feel this job fair will help you get a job when you graduate in a year and a half, then you have to do what’s best for you.”
“I know it’s a bit on the early side, but I want to get my name and my resume out there before everyone else, you know?” Will explained.
“Hey, I don’t need convincing. Go for it.”
“Okay,” Will smiled. “Oh, and I cooked a dinner for you earlier and put it in the freezer, so you don’t have to worry about what to eat.”
“Wow, what foresight,” Rhian remarked. “I haven’t even thought about tomorrow morning yet.”
“I made sure there’s coffee and bagels, too.”
Rhian stopped. “You haven’t committed any murders or anything, right?”
“Pardon?” Will was very confused.
“Nothing. You just seem so gosh darn perfect.”
“I don’t really like the word ‘perfect’,” Will admitted, “because nothing really every is, right?”
“And so philosophical,” Rhian took his hand. “How did I end up with a philosophical university student with a million pounds in the bank?”
“Mostly, it was your coffee habit that kept you coming into the shop every day and how you would tell me every intimate detail of your life when you had your caffeine buzz, even though I didn’t want to hear it,” said Will frankly.
Rhian laughed as they climbed the steps to their flat.
The next evening, Rhian watched The Beverly Hillbillies after an exhausting day at Auror training. She had just begun to Scourgify the dishes, a luxury she did not have when Will was home, when she heard a loud, urgent knock at the door.
Rhian casually answered the door and dropped her jaw when she saw that it was Regulus Black.
“Let me in, I need to talk to you,” he said hastily. His skin was pale and he looked like he hadn’t eaten a proper meal in weeks. Rhian also realized that she had never seen Regulus in anything but expensive designer robes, but here he was, standing before her in a cheap, mud-splattered cloak.
“What—” she stammered “—how do you know where I live?”
“Let me in before somebody sees!” Regulus hissed, looking side to side and then pushing her aside as he strode in.
“But—why are you here?” Rhian asked dumbly as she closed the door behind her and followed Regulus.
“Where’s my brother?” he looked around frantically.
“We broke up well over a year ago, Regulus,” said Rhian incredulously. “Why are you in my house?”
“Quite frankly, that’s none of your business. Why do you need him?”
“Where is he?”
“I don’t know! Get out of my house!”
“I had to run!” said Regulus strongly.
“What? From who?”
“From him, who else? The Dark Lord!”
“Why’d you have to run from Voldemort?”
“Because of this!” Regulus took a silver locket from his pocket and held it up.
Rhian observed the necklace with great confusion. “What, you raided his jewelry chest?”
“This is one of the keys to defeating him!” Regulus ignored Rhian’s feeble attempt at a joke.
“But—I don’t understand.”
“He has these things—I think they're called Horcruxes—but they make it so he can’t be killed! They're bits of his soul, or something!”
“Why we haven’t been able to stop him,” Rhian said softly to herself.
“I stole it!” Regulus sounded terrified. “It was in this remote cave, guarded by Inferi, but I stole it.”
“Regulus, we have to bring this to Dumbledore,” Rhian said rationally.
“No!” he protested. “He doesn't know I've taken it yet, but he knows I've deserted him! The Dark Lord won't let me go free, I know too much! I have to go into hiding, they’re all after me already! See, he’s already called them!” Regulus stuck out his arm, revealing a glowing Dark Mark.
Rhian stepped back in horror. “Well then what do you want from me?”
“You have to take it, Rhiannon!”
“Take it?” she stammered. “Fine, I’ll bring it to Dumbledore myself.”
“You can’t! If you bring it directly to Dumbledore then the Dark Lord might be able to track it and find your headquarters!”
“Well I can’t keep it here if there’s the faintest possibility he could track it! I live here!”
“Holy shit, holy shit,” Regulus muttered as he paced back and forth. “I know! Keep it here until you can meet Dumbledore someplace safe, I don’t know, get someone to cast a Fidelius Charm, then come back here and get the locket and bring it to the safe place!”
“Hold on, that’s completely mad! You took the goddamn locket, you take care of it!”
“What? No, I can’t! I have to go into hiding, or they’ll kill me!”
“God, give me a second to sort this out.” Rhian’s mind raced. How did Regulus know the importance of this stupid locket? How’d he manage to nick it from right under Voldemort’s nose? Why had he come to her, of all people?
“Hurry up!” Regulus whined.
“I’m trying to figure out a way to save your ass!” Rhian hissed.
“I’m leaving it here,” Regulus said decisely, setting the locket on the table.
“NO, Regulus!” Rhian picked the locket back up and thrust it in his hands. “Let me think for a minute!”
“He’s going to find me!” Regulus sounded absolutely terrified. “All because you took so fucking long to figure out what to do!”
“Dammit!” Rhian shouted, frustrated. “Just go home, Regulus! Get out of my flat, once and for all!”
“I can’t go home! Don’t you know who my parents are?”
“Go HOME!” Rhian drew her wand and held it threateningly.
“You can’t just cast me out, Rhiannon! I’m begging you to help me!”
“It’s not my responsibility! You have to defend your own actions!”
“I can’t go to Dumbledore! I can’t destroy it myself! What am I supposed to do?”
“Argh, I was trying to figure that out a minute ago but you snapped at me! You know what, I’m finding it hard to believe that anyone would care to tell YOU about Voldemort’s Hor-whatevers! If you’re so concerned about your own skin, hide it yourself! And go home! You’re the kid your parents love, remember?”
“You seriously want me to go to Number 12, Grimmauld Place with one of the Dark Lord’s most sacred possessions, which I conveniently stole?” asked Regulus sarcastically.
“No, I want you to go to Dumbledore, but you won’t! You won’t leave me out of this, but you’re going to have to, because I’m not going to clean this up after you! So, as a last resort, you better go crying to Mummy and Daddy, because you’ve run out of lifelines!” Rhian stared at Regulus viciously.
Without another word, the youngest member of the House of Black Disapparated.
Rhian had a nightmare later that night. She dreamed of an old, dying man and a young man on a quest. They journeyed to a desolate, cold, dark cave. They faced many obstacles in the way of their goal. The old man almost died before they retrieved what they set out for. When they finally got it…the dream became even more vague after that. The object wasn’t what it appeared. The pair went home, but…something happened to the old man. The boy was confused, someone who the old man had always trusted apparently betrayed him…it was an event that changed everything…
Every time Rhian’s mind wandered to the haunting evening of Regulus’s visit, she shook it off and tried to forget it forever. That was insane, that was bloody mental—Regulus Black, the slightly twerpy kid who had been a year behind Rhian in school, had stolen something of paramount importance to Voldemort? It couldn’t have been true, it just couldn’t have.
But it was. Rhian knew she should tell Dumbledore, but she was too overwhelmed when she saw the old wizard the next day. The shock had not worn off the day after that, either. She was so stressed, she had a huge exam for Auror training…
One week later, Rhian was sitting at the large round table in the Order of the Phoenix headquarters, doing paperwork when Sirius walked in.
“New murder’s just been reported,” he said with little emotion, placing a folder in front of her. Rhian thought this was odd, because Sirius had seemed rather chipper these past few weeks.
Rhian opened the folder and looked inside. “Oh my God,” she said slowly, “your brother.”
“Little jackass got himself knocked off,” Sirius said crassly.
“But—how—when?” Rhian stammered.
“They just found his carcass this afternoon, in a dumpster in an alleyway,” Sirius took an apple from the small kitchenette and began to eat, “but the autopsy report says he died a little less than a week ago. Death by Killing Curse, of course; a Dark Mark was cast several days ago at the site, corresponding with the autopsy report. No one found the body until today, though.”
“Oh no,” Rhian said quietly.
“What I want to know is why they wanted to kill one of their own,” Sirius said objectively, like he had never even met the victim. “What did old Reg do to tick them off so much?”
“I—I have to go to the bathroom,” Rhian stammered, rushing out. When she entered the bathroom, she burst into tears. What had he done after he left her flat? Did he end up going to his parents’ house? When did his former friends find him…and kill him?
More importantly, where was the locket? Rhian saw now that she had been all wrong. The locket had been important, immensely important! Regulus knew he risked his life when he stole it, but he was willing to be that sacrifice! Rhian had practically had it in her grasp, and now it was gone, missing! Or…oh no, what if the Death Eaters who killed Regulus had taken it back? What if Voldemort had it once more?
God, why didn’t she just bring it to Dumbledore on her own? Damn Regulus, if she hadn’t been so proud and independent she could have taken care of his dirty work and he might still be alive and the locket would be destroyed!
Well, there was no point in crying any more. Rhian took a tissue and wiped her eyes. The locket was gone and Regulus was dead.
An important part of being human is having faults. Rhian was one of those people who held herself to the highest standard and never accepted mediocrity. She always tried to do the right thing and hated making, and could not admit her, mistakes.
For the rest of her days, she never let a living soul know that Regulus had come to her for asylum right before he was killed. Neither Dumbledore, nor Lily, nor James, nor Remus, nor even Sirius would ever know as much as Rhian did about Regulus Black’s last night on earth.
Kind of intense, I know. Since the beginning, I needed Rhian to make a crucial mistake. And, since I know with two OCs as main characters I deviate a lot from HP canon, I had to relate it back to book six (my favorite HP book!). So, if you loved it or hated it, write a review and let me know! You won't have many more opportunities to do so, because we've got three more chapters and an epilogue and that'll be it for Rhian Clark stories!
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