Chapter 5 : Mission: Chaos
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Lily gaped at the Quidditch pitch before her. A few seconds ago, it had clearly been the multipurpose room situated on the highest floor of the safehouse, with its plain walls and lack of any furniture or decoration.
“You can’t be serious,” she sputtered. “How’d you…holy Merlin…”
Sirius grinned and flicked his wand. Six brooms popped out of midair and landed parallel to one another on the ground. “Why not? It’s not like we have anything better to do.”
Lily visibly struggled for words. True, they didn’t have anything else to do, but Quidditch? If flying had been considered a subject back at Hogwarts, she’d have gotten Ts on all the exams.
She turned to Alice pleadingly, but found that her friend was quite excited at the prospect of playing the game. Aileen seemed impartial, but her amused grin suggested that she wasn’t averse to the idea either. Was Lily the only one who couldn’t handle a broomstick?
She gazed helplessly at her boyfriend, who at the moment, had quite forgotten about his girlfriend’s lack of experience in the area. He was currently engaging in mindless banter with Sirius and Remus.
Alice picked up a broom and threw another to Lily, who just managed to catch it with her pudding-like fingers. She glared at the offensive object. She wasn’t even off the ground and she was already shaking. Imagine how things would be if she actually started flying.
“Six of us, right?” Sirius hollered. When there were affirmative nods, he nodded satisfactorily. “What a nice round number. Three on each team.”
Alice immediately lunged over to Lily and grabbed her hand. “Lily’s on my team!”
Sirius smirked. “How about guys versus girls?”
“Now that would be hardly fair,” Aileen said. “Who doesn’t know James was the Quidditch captain and both you and Remus are excellent players? We would hardly stand a chance.”
“Fine then.” Sirius glanced at James and Remus. “How do you guys want to do this?”
James looked at Lily and a corner of his lips lifted into that secretive smile. Lily scowled. Did he finally remember that she couldn’t fly? He walked over and threw his arms around Lily and Alice. “I’ll be on their team.”
Remus smiled. “So it’s Sirius, me, and Aileen versus James, Lily, and Alice?”
Aileen picked up a broom. “Is there going to be a Seeker?”
Alice glanced around. “Sure. One Seeker, Keeper, and Chaser. Works out perfectly fine.”
“All right guys!” Sirius yelled. “We all know the basic rules. Let’s hop to it, boys and girls!” And with that said, he jumped onto his broom and zoomed into the air. Remus and Aileen quickly followed till they were huddled around one of the goal posts.
Lily bit her lip as her two group members turned to her. One was her friend and the other her boyfriend. Both were brilliant, talented players…and then there was her, who knew next to nothing about flying.
“Do you think I could sit out on this one?” she asked hopefully.
Alice shook her head. “Nope. If you sit out, we’ll be a player short and that’ll give them an advantage.”
James laughed when Lily turned a shade of bright red. He patted her head. “Don’t worry. You may not be an advantage, but you aren’t a hindrance either.”
Alice’s eyes widened. “Did you just call her a hindrance?”
“I doubt she minds.”
“And she doesn’t like people talking about her as if she isn’t here,” Lily snapped. She crossed her arms and tried to look imposing. “So what if I don’t know how to fly? It doesn’t mean you can freely insult me.”
James lifted both hands, palms outward. “All right, all right.” He smiled. “Let’s see you in action then.”
She sniffed indignantly and tightened her grasp on the broom. So maybe she hardly knew anything about flying and had never played Quidditch in her life, but it couldn’t be that hard, right? There were so many people out there who knew how to play the game.
Sadly enough, Lily was eating her words ten minutes into the game. Sirius had charmed the Bludgers to do their own whacking business without having Beaters, which meant that she had an extra thing to focus on other than her own job as Keeper.
She let out a little gasp when she saw James perform a complicated little maneuver that involved a little flip to the side to avoid Sirius’s groping hands, and with the Quaffle tucked tightly under his left arm, James raced towards Remus. From the force that he had thrown it, Lily actually thought that it would go in…until Remus knocked it away from the metal hoops and towards a waiting Sirius.
And that only meant one thing.
Sirius was heading right towards her.
Lily panicked. So far, James had managed to keep the Quaffle away from her end of the pitch, but now with Sirius pelting towards her at a mile a minute, her mind went completely blank. Natural instinct kicked in then. Lily mustered up all her courage and shot away from the hoops at full speed. Her move was so strange that Sirius even paused for a moment to observe her before he lazily tossed the Quaffle into the tallest hoop.
It was only until Lily had haphazardly landed on the ground did she realize what she had done.
Dear Merlin, how could she have been so stupid? She was a Keeper. Keepers didn’t fly away from the Quaffle. They blocked it.
Someone landed next to her a few moments later and gently pried her hands away from her face. James’s smile brightened when he saw her flushed cheeks and he picked up the broom she had dropped.
When he held it out for her, she shook her head and grabbed his arm insistently. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to fly away. I really was going to block it, but then…”
Alice interrupted her confession with a loud burst of giggles. She had just touched down next to James. “Of course you didn’t.” And then she started laughing again. “I can’t believe Lily Evans was scared! The girl who could face a Death Eater without batting an eye.”
“Oh shush.” Lily scowled, embarrassed. “I can’t believe I…”
James rubbed her back soothingly. “Oh Lily, calm down. You’ve never played Quidditch before. It’s perfectly understandable that you’d fly away from the scary Quaffle.” Even as he said this, Lily could detect a small quiver to his mouth. He cleared his throat and smoothed his expression when he noted the suspicious furrow of her brows.
“Anyway, listen closely. Sirius has a chance of shooting into either three of the metal hoops. Your job is to determine which one he’s going to aim at. It’s relatively similar to dueling. Figure out what your opponent is going to do next and act accordingly. Watch his eyes and his movement. Got that?”
Lily nodded slowly. “I think so.”
“Good. Just watch the Quaffle and focus on getting it away from the hoops by all means necessary.”
The game resumed. James had managed to score another twenty points and Sirius was, once again, pelting towards Lily with that ominous-looking ball tucked securely under his arm. She tensed in anticipation, James’s words still running through her head.
Focus on getting it away from the hoops by all means necessary…
And then Sirius was practically in front of her, and without thinking, Lily whipped out her wand and shouted, “Reducto!” Sirius was thrown back as the Quaffle under his arms burst into shards, shattering in multiple directions.
The game halted.
Alice and Aileen paused in their search of the Snitch to watch Sirius as he righted himself from the unexpected blast. James and Remus stared at her, shocked. Lily gulped and felt her face grow even redder than before. She cast one glance at them, shook her head, and flew as steadily as she could down to the ground and walked towards the stands where she would sit and watch the rest of the game. She refused to participate anymore, especially not after what had happened.
She was halfway towards the bleachers when Remus caught up to her and pulled on her arm. “Lily, Lily,” he said, laughter in his voice. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to sit down,” she told him evenly.
“James and Alice will be lacking a teammate then.”
Lily just shrugged. “They can do fine without me. Alice will catch the Snitch even without me acting as a Keeper.”
“Lily, don’t be such a spoilsport!” Sirius shouted, making his way towards them. He landed gracefully and engulfed her in a wild hug. “Bloody hell, that was awesome! Now that’s something that has never happened in all my life at Hogwarts.”
She blinked, surprised. “You mean you aren’t…”
“Mad?” Sirius looked shocked. “Bloody hell, no! That was one of the most exhi-”
He never got to finish what he was saying. A sudden loud chorus echoed through the pitch, a blare that sounded alarmingly similar to a siren. It was a warning call, and it meant that something was very, very wrong.
James, Alice, and Aileen landed next to the two hurriedly. James jabbed his wand towards the sky and shouted a spell, transforming the Quidditch pitch back into the gray-walled multipurpose room.
“What do you think it is?” Alice asked urgently, her voice hushed.
“An attack,” Remus replied grimly. “These are the warning sirens.”
The double doors of the room were suddenly flung open, revealing Marlene McKinnon in her frenzied state. “There’s been an attack on a safe house!”
James and Aileen flew out the door after her. The others exchanged a glance and quickly pursued. Lily made sure that neither James nor Aileen left her sight, else she would’ve been lost in this maze of a house. They stopped upon reaching what appeared to be a meeting room, and Lily saw that the rest of the group was already there, congregated around a brown-haired guy and a map that he seemed to be pointing at.
Lily squeezed herself in as much as she could so that she could see the speaker and the map. Maxim Caden pointed his finger at a diagram that represented the safe house.
“The safe house is here, so we should enter through the back door and…”
The sirens blared again, louder this time.
Maxim, however, continued talking. “I suggest blasting the door open, but if it’s possible, we could…”
Sirius let out a grunt of annoyance and forcefully shoved his way through the Aurors till he was face-to-face with Maxim. “We don’t have time for this nonsense! We have to go. Now.”
Maxim eyed him with a look of distaste. “We can’t just go barging in without thinking. That would only get us killed. We need to plan things out.”
“If we continue planning, they’ll already have control of the safe house.” Sirius rolled up the map and tucked it into the sleeves of his robes. “We have to get there now and you need to learn how to be more spontaneous.” With that said, he Apparated away, taking Alice and Dorcas Meadows along with him.
Lily turned around to search for James, and found him frowning thoughtfully at the ground. She reached out to grab his arm, but right at that second, his eyes widened and he abruptly sped out of the room. She blinked in shock and went after him.
“James! Where are you going?”
“Go along first,” he called, looking back briefly. “I’ll catch up with you guys in a second!” And then he turned the corner and disappeared.
Before she had even vaguely registered what had happened, a blue-haired girl stepped up beside her. She smiled at Lily’s expression and offered her arm cheerfully. “Want a ride? It’s free of charge.”
Lily looked at the girl, smiled gratefully, and then felt the familiar sensation of Apparation. She landed behind what she assumed was the safe house and gaped at the condition it was in. There was smoke drifting out of a shattered window, and Death Eaters were swarming the place, their wands out and shouting various curses at anything even remotely alive.
The girl quickly grabbed Lily’s arm and dragged her off to the side so they could observe without being seen.
“I’m not sure where Sirius took Alice and Dorcas, but they shouldn’t be too far.” Lily turned to the girl and her eye caught a strange-looking pendant on a black leather cord hanging around the girl’s neck. She would’ve inspected the symbol further, but there was limited time. “Max and the others should be here soon, and when they…”
Remus, Maxim, Marlene, and Aileen suddenly appeared beside them. Marlene grimaced at the scene and coughed a little at the fumes. “So what’s the verdict, Tris?”
Triscilla Montgomery, Lily recalled abruptly. The girl shrugged briefly. “I say we just waltz in there and give them the old one-two.”
Maxim lifted an eyebrow disdainfully. “I don’t see how that would be a good idea.”
Tris rolled her eyes. “It’s called sarcasm, my dear Max. Have you not heard of that term in all your excessive studies?”
Remus lifted a hand to keep Maxim from saying something scathing in return and shifted slightly over to the right so he could better observe the scene in front of them. He frowned when he saw a hoard of Death Eaters running out of the burning house, their expressions hidden by the masks they wore.
“What’s up with the stampede?” he muttered.
Lily’s eyes narrowed when she noted their hurried footsteps. It was clear that they were all fleeing from the house, but what had sparked their sudden desire to retreat? She zeroed in on one of the masked men who was attempting to stuff something into his pocket as he ran.
She jumped up and pointed at the object. “What is that?”
Tris caught onto her line of sight immediately. “Oh blasted hell!” she shouted. “Those are our stupid plans!” She jumped over two burnt planks of wood, nearly tripping over a crate in the process, and raced off after the man, waving her wand madly in the air as she ran.
Maxim let out a curse. “You can’t just run off like that!” he yelled at her retreating figure. “That’s not what we discussed in the beginning!”
Remus patted him on the back gently. “I don’t think anything is going according to your plan, Max.” He tilted his head ever so slightly towards the steadily burning house and lifted an eyebrow. Lily caught onto his silent meaning and nodded once.
She blasted away the boxes that were in her way, startled a few Death Eaters in the process, and stunned the first one that she saw.
Maxim let out a roar of indignation and barely managed to dodge a hex. “You two are utter barbarians!” he cried, punching the nearest Death Eater in the face. “Tris already ruined my plan, and now you two…”
It was getting steadily louder, with all the yelling and curse-shouting that Lily could hardly hear what he was saying. She stupefied three more Death Eaters and shoved her way into the house. The smoke was so thick that her eyes began to water. She blinked them rapidly in hopes of seeing where she was going, and stumbled against someone who came up from behind her.
“Lily, go after Tris!” Remus shouted over the din. “I’ll find Sirius and the others and clean up this mess!”
She wanted to protest, but realized that he was right and nodded once before heading back out. She passed Maxim, who was holding his own in a duel against three Death Eaters, and started running towards the direction that Tris had taken off.
Lily didn’t know how long she ran, but it seemed as if she had gone quite a distance when she saw dark blurs ahead of her. Certain that she was getting closer, she quickened her pace…only to hear a loud voice that could only belong to one person.
“Just because you guys have more people doesn’t mean you can outsmart me!” Tris shouted. She was occupying all their attention, so Lily was able to slip up, unnoticed. “You think you look so cool hiding behind those horrendous masks, don’t you?”
The Death Eater that was closest to the girl jeered at her. “If you had half a brain, girl, you’d get out of our way.”
“Well then you’d best be thankful that I have more than half,” she retorted. Lily smiled with disbelief at the wide grin that was plastered across Tris’s face. She was already taking a liking to the girl and she had only met her a few minutes ago.
Another Death Eater was growing steadily impatient, evident in his constant shifting of footing and his wary glances around the area. Funnily enough, he didn’t notice Lily in his scans. “Crabbe, come on. We don’t have all day. Just kill the girl and leave.”
Tris faced him now, her blue eyes narrowed dangerously. “I’d like to see you try.” A second later, the man was lying flat on the ground, his face in the dirt.
Chaos suddenly erupted. There were shouts and hoards of spells flying around. Tris was doing an alarmingly good job of ducking and firing at the same time. Lily jumped into the fray, attempting to seek out the man who had the important parchment with all the plans on it. But with the constant movements and the spells, it was proving to be rather difficult, and she suddenly found herself back-to-back with Tris, surrounded by a circle of masked men.
Tris let out a loud huff of annoyance. “This is bloody great,” she muttered. “We’re surrounded.”
Lily shifted her stance, her eyes wary. “What are the chances of getting out of this alive?”
“Pretty good, actually.”
“I’ll create a diversion and then you can lunge towards the bastard with our plans.”
Lily turned slightly to look at her fellow Auror. “And how do you propose to create a diversion when we’re the center of attention?”
Tris winked and produced a sleek black ball from within her robes. “I have my ways.” She gave a brief command of “duck!” and then threw the ball with all her might at the Death Eater that was directly in front of her. Lily had just flattened herself on the ground when the loud explosion rocked the earth.
When she looked back up, she saw the Death Eater flat on the ground, blood seeping from every inch of his body. The other men were looking on with pure horror in their eyes and they scrambled away without another word. Lily jumped up to go after them, but she stopped upon noticing Tris sitting on the ground, a hand to her abdomen.
She looked up when she noticed Lily crouch down and smiled faintly. “I think I got too close to my target.” She lifted her hand slightly and Lily saw the blood. “You go on ahead and give those bastards a good kick in the rear. I think I’ll just admire the scenery a while.”
Lily peered at her worriedly. “Are you sure? Maybe I should bring you back first.”
“Nah, there’s no need.” Tris made a dismissive motion with her hand. “Now shoo.”
Lily could do nothing but nod. She gave her friend another look before she turned around and followed the Death Eaters. She had never been the fittest girl back at Hogwarts, and the running was taking a toll on her. Still, she persisted until she could hear the shouts of the Death Eaters she was pursuing. It dawned upon her then that they could’ve Apparated away, but then realized that there were anti-Apparation wards around the house. Apparently, they hadn’t gotten out of the boundaries yet.
It was three minutes later when Lily realized that her pace was slowing. Her stamina was weakening and the distance between her and the Death Eaters was growing.
Letting out a groan of exasperation when she felt her legs give in, Lily was forced to stop and take in deep, labored breaths. She was hunched over, hands placed at her sides in an attempt to catch her breath again. The cramp that she was getting from the lack of oxygen was not doing her any good, and as it was, she was letting the Death Eaters escape.
She was still trying to figure out how she was supposed to catch up to them when there was a sudden gush of air around her. James jumped off his broom and hurried to her side. “Lily! Are you hurt?”
She didn’t have time to convey her surprise. “I’m just a little out of breath.” She pointed an urgent figure towards the spot that she had seen the Death Eaters last. “Go after them!”
He nodded and swung his leg over the broom handle. “Patronus me if you need help, all right? Tris said that she already went back to the safe house.”
“Okay, thanks. And be careful.”
James sped off, leaving behind a trail of dust. Lily waited another second or two to fully catch her breath before starting in a slow sprint back to the safe house. It took her longer than she wanted, but she knew she had to save her energy.
The safe house was in shambles by the time she returned. Lily stared at the gaping holes and the semi-smoky atmosphere. Remus and the rest of the Aurors seemed to have done a good job with clearing away most of the smoke, but some still lingered. She stepped through a hole in the wall, alert for any attacks.
But the house seemed to be empty.
Confused and alarmed, she jumped over the fallen boards and looked around. What used to be an entrance hall was now nothing but burnt wood and charred furniture. She picked her way through the debris, searching for anything that was out of the ordinary. Perhaps she would be able to find a clue as to how this whole thing had started?
Lily headed to the other side of the room. She saw a particularly cluttered section, and assuming that nothing was there, turned away…only to do a double take at something she saw sticking through the wreckage.
It was an arm.
Lily’s eyes widened in alarm. The arm could’ve belonged to an Auror or a Death Eater. Deciding that the person was probably dead by now, she lunged forward and levitated the pieces off as quickly as possible.
The person was hurt badly, burned in several places, and from the red that was tinting his dark brown hair, he had a severe cut in the head. It took a few minutes for Lily to recognize whom the person was, and when she did, she could barely contain her scream. Though she didn’t remember him too well, Alice had shown her more than one picture of the two of them together, and she also had a vague memory of him from when they were back at Hogwarts.
Frank Longbottom lay there, bruised and broken, either unconscious or dead. Lily laid her ear on his chest and blew out a faint breath of relief when she felt the shallow rising and falling. He wasn’t dead yet, but she knew that without help, he would be as good as dead in a few short hours.
Her instincts kicked in then. Hurriedly sending her fellow Aurors a message through her patronus, she gently levitated Frank out from the ruins and transfigured a plank of wood into a mattress that could cushion his broken body. She then moved to fix as many cuts as she could, but the conjured bandages were soon dyed red.
There was a sudden cry behind Lily and she turned around to see Alice rushing in, her eyes wide and fearful. She let out a strangled gasp when she spotted Frank and stumbled over, crashing into him.
“Frank! Frank, talk to me! Frank!”
Sirius and Dorcas stepped up, both looked rather alarmed by the situation. Sirius tilted his head towards Frank with a concerned frown but Lily could only shake her head at his query. She had no idea what had happened to him, and until they got a professional healer, they could do nothing but wait.
Alice had grabbed Frank’s tattered shirt and was now shaking him like there was no tomorrow. It unnerved Lily somewhat to see Alice in tears. The girl wouldn’t even cry if her arm was broken in three parts and now she was practically in hysterics.
“Lily?” She turned around to see Remus, Marlene, Tris, Maxim, and Aileen behind them. Remus stood beside her. “What happened?”
“Frank’s in critical condition,” she murmured. “We need a healer.”
Aileen nodded. “I already sent for one.” She winced when she saw Frank’s battered state. “Poor guy.”
There was a loud pop behind them and then a sharp “Move aside!” was heard. They obliged, shifting to the left and right to clear out a path for the newly arrived healer.
The healer furrowed her brows when she saw Frank’s condition and impatiently brushed at Alice. “Out of the way, Auror. You’re making him worse.”
Alice glared at the woman and tightened her hold on Frank in defiance. The healer let out a grunt of annoyance and forcefully tugged Alice away, causing the girl to stumble back. Lily reached out and steadied her fuming friend.
“Come on, Alice,” she cajoled. “Let the healer work.”
They all cleared a ring around the woman, who clucked her tongue when she noticed a particularly nasty burn or cut. She would mutter random words under her breath and would occasionally turn around and glare at the rest of them as if everything was their fault. Alice and Tris sometimes let out a few words of protest, but other than that, everything remained silent…until Moody’s distinct voice came reverberating throughout the ruined safe house.
“Who did it?!” he thundered, storming his way in. Even the healer paused her work to turn around and stare at the furious man who had just entered. Moody ignored her and zeroed in on the rest of them. “Who’s the damn traitor?!”
Dorcas lifted an eyebrow. “Traitor?” She crossed her arms. “I think you’re looking in the wrong place, Moody.”
“No, I’m definitely at the right place, girlie,” he spat. His magical eye whirled around, focusing on each person before moving onto the next. He was huffing and puffing in his anger. “Someone let those damn Death Eaters leave! Someone told them we were coming!”
Now it was Tris’s turn to look skeptical. “Are you sure you didn’t drink one too many goblets of firewhiskey?” She transfigured a plank of wood into a chair and moved to help him. “Perhaps you should lie down and sleep away that hangover before yo-”
“Do not tempt me, Montgomery!”
Tris’s eyes grew wide and she lifted both hands in surrender. “All right, all right. Jeez…temper,” she grumbled.
Moody ignored her and looked at the rest of them. “Well? Who is it?” He took a step forward. “Do I need to bring out the Veritaserum?”
“Now that’s going a little too far, Moody,” Maxim spoke up. “It’s against the law to use Veritaserum on Aurors unless there’s solid proof that the Auror has committed a crime.”
Lily observed Moody with furrowed brows. While Moody was often rather irritable, he never accused without reason. “Moody, do you have some kind of proof?”
“A huge portion of the Death Eaters had already fled by the time we got here.” Moody stomped around, aggravated. “And then others left right when we just got here. There was no way they could have done that unless someone spilled the damn beans!”
Lily looked up, along with everyone else, to find James standing in the doorway, broom in hand and looking rather breathless and ruffled. He tipped his head in confusion when he detected the seriousness of the atmosphere.
Sirius started forward. “Prongs, Mad-Eye’s gone off his rocke…” Moody’s cane lashed out in front of Sirius, stopping him from taking another step forward. He scowled. “Oh shove off, Mad-Eye. This is just James.”
“Just James?” Moody snarled, rounding on him. “It was you, Potter, wasn’t it? You’re the traitor!”
There was a moment’s pause before James’s eyes grew wide and horrified. “I’m the what?!”
Author's Note: A lot more action in this one :) Hope you all enjoy it! I had quite a bit of fun writing all the intense parts of the chapter.
Thanks for your reviews! :) I loved them all!
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