Chapter 1 : The Death Eaters' Threshold
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1: The Death Eaters’ Threshold
Lily Evans brushed off the dirt that had fallen on her face. She knew she should’ve worn protective goggles, or something along the lines of eyewear, but Moody had strictly forbidden it. Muggle objects were not to be worn when the situation needed to be dealt with by magic. That was a strict Auror code, and Lily was adamant about following the rules. Still, she should’ve at least thought to place a spell over her eyes. Now she was stumbling around the dark tunnel while attempting to keep the nasty little particles from invading her vision.
There was a sudden grunt from behind her, and then a muffled curse. Alice must’ve tripped over something, as always.
The two were heading towards a Death Eaters’ ex-stronghold in the middle of the night. Lily had never thought that this was a good idea in the first place, considering that both she and Alice were Aurors-in-training. But Moody, apparently, felt the need to put his commonly stressed ‘constant vigilance’ into action. Thus, they were now scurrying down the dark and musty tunnel, with only the light at the tip of their wands as guidance. Alice had suggested apparating, but that idea had been quickly squashed.
“How dare you think of apparating?” Moody had practically snarled. “As Aurors, you can’t afford to be lazy. You must take all precautions necessary, even if it means you come out a hunchback! Understood?”
Becoming a hunchback was an understatement. Lily and Alice were practically crawling on all fours. Lily’s robes were caked with grime and her cloak was already torn and dirty. No one would be able to tell that the cloak was brand new.
Alice hurried forward and walked beside Lily. “Two wands make the light brighter,” she explained.
Lily nodded. “Right.” Even though Alice had graduated a year prior to Lily, she had entered Auror training in the same year. The two had been made partners and they were now steadfast friends.
“Did Mad-Eye mention stairs of some sort?” Alice asked, her voice quiet.
“I don’t think so. He hardly told us anything.”
The brunette narrowed her eyes and frowned. “We’re underground right now, and unless we’re going through the basement, we need a means of getting to the first floor.”
Lily paused to listen to their surroundings, and then continued forward. “Are you sure the house doesn’t have a basement?”
“They could’ve remodeled,” Alice suggested.
“Remodel?” Lily raised an eyebrow. “I doubt it. They would want the extra space to hide their Dark Magic-infested objects.”
Alice shook her head. “That’s the first place the Ministry would look if they got a warrant. Even Death Eaters aren’t as stupid as to store everything there.”
“Ever since our intensive training started, we haven’t been allowed to receive any letters so Riley hasn’t been able to tell me much about the Ministry’s work these days.”
“Riley Cohen? As in…”
“My friend from Hogwarts and the Head of the Department of the Misuse of Magic.”
She grinned inwardly upon remembering her friend. They had parted ways after the summer following graduation. Kim had decided to pursue her job as a Healer and was now working at St. Mungo’s. Riley had changed her mind last minute about becoming an Auror and applied for a job at the Ministry. They were both doing extremely well in their current positions, but Lily hadn’t heard word from them in weeks.
Alice suddenly reached out and grabbed Lily’s arm. She pointed her wand towards the ground and smirked. Lily rolled her eyes upon seeing the wooden steps.
“So you were right about the whole first floor thing. Big deal.”
“You know I’m right. And smarter too.” Alice extinguished her light. “Scourgify.” The grime and dirt were swept off the steps with a clean swish and the steps actually looked approachable now.
Lily headed up first, her wand directed towards the trap door that she could see from where she was. It was made of iron and the dimensions were narrow, but she had no doubt that both she and Alice could slide through.
Alice grumbled when she caught sight of the door’s size. “So we’re going to crawl through that thing? What are we, animals?”
“No need to be so melodramatic.” Lily examined the trapdoor with a critical eye and then lifted a hand towards it. It was locked. She sighed and brushed the dust off her face again. Her eyes were already growing irritated, but she couldn’t stop now to place a protective charm on her eyes. They were at the Death Eaters’ threshold.
It clicked open. She glanced around one more time and nodded affirmative to Alice. The brunette gave her the thumbs-up and Lily hoisted herself through the opening. She quickly slid behind the cabinet to the side of the door. Alice let the door slide close after her and they ducked in opposite sides of the room. There was no sound.
Lily stepped out quietly, her cloak swishing behind her. Alice skipped ahead and pressed her ear to the door.
“There’s no one here,” she whispered.
“Do you still have the map?”
Alice frowned. “The map? You mean the one Mad-Eye gave us?” She took it out of her cloak and Lily shined her wand on it. The little contours and turns were marked clearly with dark ink, and Lily quickly realized that they were in the den.
“We’re here.” She pointed towards the square marked on the map. “According to Moody, the Dark Magic objects are most likely scattered throughout the house. The tome will most likely be in the study. I’ll head there and you can…”
“I’ll search the upper floor bedrooms.”
Lily nodded. “Meet back here and then we leave. No lingering. No getting amused by food. No…”
“I know, Lily,” Alice said exasperatedly. “This may be our first mission, but don’t forget I received the same amount of training as you did.”
Lily grinned and slipped across the room that headed towards the first flight of steps. The study was on the third floor, meaning that she needed to get past the second floor without alerting any possible Death Eaters. The house may have been an ex-stronghold, but Moody had warned them of possible Death Eaters returning to collect last-minute items. She sincerely hoped that she and Alice would not run into trouble. Though they were trained, this was their first mission. Lily didn’t think either of them would respond well if they encountered opposition of any kind.
As it turned out, she needn’t have worried. Alice had gone a few steps ahead of her and had cleared everything for her. Lily smiled at the thought. Her friend may have been a little spontaneous and compulsive at times, but she still had a clear head. Lily crept up the stairs, careful to avoid any possible creaking steps, and ascended to the third floor.
Torches dimly lit the hallway. Her eyes immediately adjusted to the darkened surroundings and she crept along, keeping a watchful eye around while judging the distance between the doors she passed. The lengthier the wall between them, the greater the span of the room. It was easy to pinpoint the study.
It was marked my two tall double-doors. She inched forward and pressed her ear to the door.
Judging it safe to enter, Lily lifted her wand and the doors clicked open softly. She quickly slid in and closed them again. Just as a precaution, she left the lock open.
The talk bookcases loomed over her, and Lily had to stifle a gasp. The study was a wondrous library, with towers and towers of books to mark years of collecting. If she were given the chance, she’d definitely stay and flip through at least three quarters of the books provided.
And then she frowned. How in the world was she supposed to find a tome in such an extensive collection of books? She couldn’t just flip through everything till she found the right one. That would take no less than five hours, and by then, she would’ve been skinned and boiled alive by the Death Eaters.
Lily pursed her lips in thought. What could she use? And then she got it: a summoning spell. She lifted her wand and uttered a silent ‘Accio,’ and waited for the book to come to her.
Annoyed and a little startled, she tried again, only to realize that her spell had malfunctioned…or even worse, had been deflected. Did that mean there was someone in the room with her?
Lily suddenly whirled around, and saw a hooded figure leaning against the door, clad in dark robes. Her eyes trailed down to the book in his hands. It was the book she had come for, the tome that contained an extensive collection of Dark Magic spells.
“Looking for this?” He lifted the book in his hand.
Lily gripped her wand tightly and forced herself to remain cool. She would not, could not, fail on her first mission. “As a matter of fact, yes. Would you like to hand it over?”
The Death Eater laughed. “Nothing comes without a price, Auror.” He pushed himself away from the wall and took a few steps closer to her. Lily stepped back in alarm. “You’re going to have to earn it.”
“Earn it?” she scoffed. “It’s going to be mine either way. Now we can do this two ways. Either you hand it to me or I take it from you. Take your pick.”
She could practically hear the smile in his voice. Lily shook her head in false pity. “Sorry. Game over.” She lifted her wand. “Petrificus Totalus!”
The Death Eater lunged towards the right. The spell smashed into the wall behind him, showering books onto the ground. Lily sprang forward and shouted another spell, attempting to knock the book out of his hands. Either he was an extremely agile person or he had played Quidditch in his younger years, but either way, he was faster. He spun around, shifting out of her grasp, and shouted, “Reducto!”
Lily dodged, and then sent a table flying at him. The Death Eater stopped it midair and shot it back at her. She gasped and winced as a corner of the table smashed into her side.
He snickered at her expense. “Painful, wasn’t it?”
He spiraled into the air and smashed into the wall. Lily got hold of the fallen tome and ran towards the door. She yanked it open and stumbled out into the hallway. There was a loud curse behind her, but she didn’t stop to investigate it.
Alice suddenly appeared at the foot of the stairs, a bulging bag hitched over her shoulders. Her eyes widened at Lily’s frazzled state, and without saying a word, started sprinting towards the den.
“I swore I wasn’t going to ask,” Alice huffed, running around the corner. “But I can’t help myself. What happened?”
Lily sucked in a deep breath and hitched the tome up again. “Death Eater after us.”
Alice suddenly jerked to a halt. Lily had to shift to the side to prevent from crashing into her, and her body crashed into the wall, causing a white flash of pain in her side. It was still bruised from earlier.
“My, my. I’m curious.”
Lily’s breath caught in her throat and she rested a hand on Alice’s arm to prevent her from lunging at the Death Eater.
“Curious as to how you’re going to prevent us from leaving?” Alice’s lips peeled back into a snarl and her body grew stiff. “Difficult, isn’t it?”
The Death Eater laughed. “How can two measly little Aurors think they’re going to get out of here unscathed?”
Lily hid the tome under her cloak and positioned her wand. “We’d be happy to teach you.”
He blew out a sigh. “This is such a pity.”
“Stupefy!” Alice shouted.
Though the Death Eater dodged the spell, it gave them enough time to make a getaway. She grabbed Lily’s arm and sprinted towards the den, throwing random hexes over her shoulder every once in a while to prevent the Death Eater from following them.
“Quickly! The den!”
Lily threw herself at the door and twisted the knob. It was locked.
Alice shoved past. “Alohomora!”
The door still wouldn’t budge. Lily whirled around. By now, another Death Eater had joined the previous one, and they were advancing, arms raised and wands pointed. Alice pulled Lily back another step, but realized it futile when their backs crashed against the locked door. They were blocked on all sides, with their only path of escape barraged by the approaching Death Eaters.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” one of them said. “You both look quite…stuck.”
Alice’s eyes narrowed. “You think we can’t get out of this?”
The other threw his head back and laughed. “I’d like to see you try.”
Without a word of warning, Alice sprang onto the first Death Eater, knocking him down to the ground with her weight. “Lily, run!”
She didn’t need to be told twice. Normally, she would’ve gotten Alice out of the situation before leaving, but they both had no time. There was a greater chance that they would be able to escape if she ran first.
Lily shoved past the remaining Death Eater, but she didn’t get far. He grabbed her arm and shoved her against the wall. Her head flew back, hitting the wood behind her. There were black spots in her vision, and blurrily, she saw him raise his wand.
Alice shouted something from the floor, but Lily couldn’t decipher it. Her vision was failing and the sound of the roaring sea was in her ears. She only saw a bright flash of light and then nothing.
When Lily came to again, she was highly aware of the stiffness behind her back and the hard wood under her bottom. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the room and they widened in surprise. It wasn’t a torture chamber like she had expected. Instead, the room was rather barren, with nothing except a table along and another wooden chair.
The walls were made of brick, alarmingly similar to the walls in Hogwarts. The only window in the room was close to the ceiling and was practically unreachable.
Lily wriggled, but found herself bound to the chair. She might’ve been able to get out of it if ropes had bound her, but trying to physically release herself from magic was futile.
She looked around. How long had she been there? A day? Two days? A few hours? She had no idea. But she did know that she needed to find Alice and find a way out of there.
The door opened.
Lily looked up and saw a Death Eater enter, his long, dark cloak billowing out behind him. From where she sat, she couldn’t tell who he was due to the hood covering his face and his mask. He smirked at her position and closed the door behind him. Lily tensed when she heard the familiar click of the lock.
She narrowed her eyes as he stepped closer. “What do you want, Death Eater?”
“What do you think I want?” he asked, a hint of playfulness in his tone. It was the playfulness that made Lily start. It sounded somewhat familiar.
She glared. “What kind of question is that? Are you a new servant?”
His posture grew stiff. “Servant?” he hissed. “How hypocritical of you to call me that when you’re just that pathetic old fool’s follower.”
“At least I’m not a dog,” she snapped. “A pathetic bastard who goes around licking his master’s shoes.”
In a flash, he was in front of her, his hand around her neck, pressing against her pulse. He forced her head back and his breath brushed her cheek. “Watch your mouth, Mudblood.” Lily struggled against his hand, but his hold only tightened. “You’re my prisoner, so I suggest you act like one.”
He released her and stepped back.
Lily jerked against her invisible bonds. “Watch your mouth, Death Eater.”
“You really aren’t in any condition to tell me what to do.” The Death Eater perched himself on the table. “So let’s try this again. You tell me what you know of the Order and I’ll let you go. Simple as that.”
She couldn’t help but burst into laughter. “Now that’s funny.” He observed her with faint interest. “After all these years, I think I’ve learned enough not to trust the word of a Death Eater.”
He chuckled. “Wise words. But I’m afraid you can do nothing but trust me right now.”
“In your dreams.”
“And how would you know what I dream about, Evans?”
Lily’s eyes narrowed. That line…that voice…that tone…that sounded so familiar. It sounded too much like…
“Who are you?”
Now he sounded amused. “I don’t believe I’m supposed to reveal this information to Aurors such as yourself, Lily.”
She licked her lips and attempted to make herself sound as assured as possible. “And what if I already know who you are?”
“You mean what if you think you know who I am?” He didn’t sound the least bit fazed. “Well then I suppose that’s good for you. Now tell me. What do you know about the Order?”
Lily bit her lip. She was adamant about remaining quiet, even though she personally had no idea what the Order was. How were the Death Eaters supposed to know that she was only an Auror-in-training?
She changed topics. “Are you scared to reveal your identity? Is that why you wear that pathetic mask?”
The Death Eater shrugged. “It’s part of our uniform.”
“Or you just don’t want to go to Azkaban if you’re caught,” Lily challenged. “Isn’t that it? Why else would you be too scared to tell me who you are?”
“That sounded so unbelievably clichéd, Lily. I never would’ve expected it from you. But then again, even the strongest of men grow insane at the prospect of death.”
“You knew me?”
He nodded and picked up a quill lying on the table. “Quite well, actually.” He sounded almost bored. “Which is why I’m bothering to talk to you. Aurors are always so boring. They always say the same things.”
Lily twitched again. “What do you mean?”
“Well,” he began, “you guys always say things like ‘I refuse to tell you anything’ or ‘you’re all going to Azkaban’ or ‘you really think the Dark Lord can triumph’ and other things like that. And then we end up having to kill them. We don’t have much cell space after all.”
“That’s what makes them good Aurors.”
He laughed. “Maybe.” He tilted his head. “So what will you be? A typical Auror or will you breach the unknown and try something new?”
“Why don’t you tell me who you are first?” Lily needed to come up with a plan and fast. If she could, she’d get out of this unscathed and then find Alice. She needed to make sure her friend was alive.
The Death Eater remained silent for a while, as if contemplating her suggestion. Finally, he shrugged. “You asked for it.”
Lily watched with rapt attention as he pulled off his hood and lifted up his mask. Her eyes widened and her jaw unhinged. Merlin was surely playing tricks on her. It wasn’t possible…was it?
“James?” she gasped.
His smiled broadened and he jumped off the table. “At your service.”
Author's Note: The sequel to Leave It To Fate is here! :) I hope you all enjoy this. I know this chapter is a little short, but it's very similar to a prologue.
Please review for me! I'd greatly appreciate it.
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