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Halfway To Infinity by Eponine
Chapter 21 : Chapter Twenty: The Muggle Revolt
 
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Author's Note: Thank you a million times over to TheBird for beta'ing this chapter! We were up until three in the morning working on it last night!

This chapter is dedicated to the awesome guy I met in Scotland who made me the journal I handwrite my chapters in.

~ ~ ~

Chapter Twenty: The Muggle Revolt

Third year began and the schoolwork got more difficult. Lottie found writing the numerous essays and keeping up with her reading quite challenging, especially with the bulbous calluses on her hands left over from a summer of cleaning the entire school. After all of that scrubbing and polishing, there was little left of Alsemore that Lottie couldn’t find. By October, the blisters had disappeared, but the essays weren’t any easier.

The third years had to take up two new classes along with all of their other subjects. The classes that both Lottie and Andrea had been placed in were Arithmancy and Magical Creatures. Magical Creatures was much easier than every other class at Alsemore; all the students had to do was walk and feed various types of animals. Arithmancy, on the other hand, was a pure disaster. It only involved counting and recounting various characters in people’s names, locations and historical eras to predict various events that had already happened. Apparently, once they were skilled, they’d be able to predict the future in a very boring, inconsequential way.

The night of Halloween, Lottie and Andrea took a break from essay writing to enjoy the festivities. The staff table was emptier than Lottie had ever seen it; the few teachers there had darkened faces that flickered with fear every time there was a particularly loud chorus of cheers came from the students.

The new first years, still unaccustomed to regular meals and feasts, were almost completely blocked by the mounds of food on their plates. Andrea did not find the plight of the first years’ overly stuffed plates amusing, and now that Stanley had left the school, Lottie had nobody to laugh at their expense with.

Andrea had grown much more serious since the beginning of school. She cut at her meat furiously and ate as though she wasn’t going to eat again for several months.

“Andrea,” Lottie said through a mouth full of chicken, “slow down. You’re going to choke.”

Glancing around nervously, Andrea swallowed her food and shrugged. “I don’t know…” she said, looking over her shoulder. “I just have a funny feeling, like something isn’t right.”

As if on cue, Palmyitor ran through the front doors of the Great Hall. Her high heels clacked against the stone floor until she reached the staff table. She leaned into the few teachers there and whispered seriously before turning around to face the students. “There has been a revolt,” she said over the deafening silence. “Students who have family in the London camp, please go to the entrance hall.”

Lottie heart froze. Andrea’s silverware clattered on her plate. They stood up in an instant and ran to the entrance hall. Students already crowded together, talking in a low buzz. The air seemed to be vibrating with anxiousness.

“A—a revolt?” Lottie whispered to Andrea, who stared at the floor. “A revolt? Why were they revolting? Don’t they know we’re going to help them soon?”

“No, I don’t think they do,” Andrea said softly. “Besides, didn’t you want to revolt when you were there?” She exhaled loudly. “I just want to know if my family is okay. Shit!”

Lottie blinked at Andrea. She had never heard her swear before. “It’s okay, Andrea,” Lottie said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “They’re all fine. I’m sure they’re all fine.”

“How do we know? How do you know your family isn’t dead?”

Lottie took her hand off of Andrea’s shoulder and stared at her. Her ribcage seemed to shake beneath her skin. How did she know? How could she be so sure?

“Everybody!” Palmyitor shouted over the whispering students. “Everybody calm down. We will be Apparating in groups. Find a professor who will help you.”

There weren’t many students from the London camp, twenty or twenty-five at most. Palmyitor approached Lottie and Andrea. “You two,” she said stiffly, “can’t be left alone in the Camp after what happened this summer.”

Andrea was nearly in tears.

“Professor Gabaldon will be accompanying you to visit your families.”

Gabaldon held out her arm. “Let’s make this quick,” she said in a bored voice. “I don’t want to be at that camp for long.”

Lottie closed her eyes and held onto Gabaldon’s arm; when she opened them, they stood on a pile of rubble.

The old building that the school used as an Apparation site was gone. Only a crumbling, spiral staircase remained. The night sky was black and starless. The moon was nowhere to be seen; only a Dark Mark shimmered, green above the Camp.

Andrea turned to Lottie. “Let-let’s go to your family first. Th-th-they’re closer.”

Lottie could tell that Andrea was just being polite, but she was dying to find her family. “Okay,” she said, ignoring Andrea’s stare. She turned to Gabaldon, who looked horribly out of place. “Let’s go!” She broke into a run with Andrea close at her heels. Gabaldon was a several paces behind them, panting to keep up.

The door to the apartment building her family lived in was completely knocked down. They ran through the hallway, passing the dozens of huddled people taking refuge in the building. Lottie pounded on her family’s door. “MUM! DAD! It’s me! Open up, please!”

The door cracked open and Posy peeked out. “Lottie!” she shrieked, grabbing Lottie around the shoulders in a tight hug. “Oh, thank goodness.” Posy stared at her and put her down when she felt her shaking. “Lottie, what’s wrong?”

“Wh-where’s dad?” Lottie stuttered. “Where is he?”

Posy put a hand on Lottie’s shoulder. “Don’t worry,” she said in a soothing voice. “He’s completely fine. He was injured, but nothing serious. He’s sleeping it off right now.”

Lottie wasn’t convinced.

“Here, he’s on the bed.”

Lottie ran in to her parents’ old bed. Nathaniel was fast asleep with a makeshift bandage wrapped around his shoulder. The blood seemed to have no end; it ran across the mattress and dribbled off the bed frame. “Can you do anything?” she asked to Gabaldon.

The professor sighed and pulled out her wand. She pulled off the bandage, causing Nathaniel to stir, but not to wake and muttered an incantation. Before Lottie’s eyes, the wound healed itself.

“Thanks,” Lottie said, turning to her mother. “Mum, we need to go. Andrea still needs to see her family.”

Posy nodded. “Keep my daughter safe, will you?” she asked Gabaldon. “I love you, Lottie.”

“Love you too, Mum!” Lottie shouted, as they ran back out the door.

Lottie had never been to Andrea’s home before. The run was much farther than she thought it would be. Every few minutes Gabaldon would spin around, wand extended, checking to make sure that there were no Death Eaters following.

Suddenly, Gabaldon shouted, “MOVE!” and took a sharp dive into a narrow alleyway. Andrea spun around and followed Gabaldon, pushing Lottie down behind a dumpster. Breathlessly, Lottie picked herself up and poked her head out to see what was approaching. The other two crouched in the shadows, watching the scene in front of them play out, horrified.

A Muggle dragged himself… or herself (Lottie couldn’t tell) across the bloodstained pavement. The skin on its face seemed to have melted, leaving parts of muscle and bone completely exposed. The Muggle cried out in pain, waving a partially skinless arm in the air to try and catch someone’s—anyone’s attention. Lottie looked away, staring determinately at the floor.

Hoarse laughter drowned out the Muggle’s cries as a Death Eater approached. Gabaldon pushed Lottie and Andrea farther into the shadows. The masked Death Eater, wand raised, stood before the decaying Muggle, laughter shaking his—or her (again Lottie couldn’t tell) entire frame. “Filth!” the bitter voice hissed. It flicked its wand and the dying Muggle screamed as the Death Eater guided it through the air and dropped it unceremoniously in the dumpster.

Once the Death Eater was out of earshot, Gabaldon rose. Lottie immediately turned to the dumpster where the Muggle was still crying, but Gabaldon stopped her. “It’s hopeless,” she said under her breath. “We don’t have time.”

Grudgingly, Lottie continued running, following Andrea, who now was sprinting faster than ever. Finally, she stopped at a much smaller apartment building and pushed the door open. She ran down a flight of stairs, with Lottie and Gabaldon following closely, and pounded on the first door they reached.

A girl opened the door. For a moment, Lottie thought that it was Andrea; they were nearly identical, except that this girl had no glasses and was even tinier. “An-Andrea?” she stuttered.

“Helen,” Andrea said quickly, sweeping into the apartment. “Where are Mum and Dad?”

The girl didn’t reply.

“Helen?”

“Mum’s-Mum’s in the other room. And D-D-Daddy…”

“No. No he didn’t.”

Lottie wanted nothing more than to leave and let Andrea find out the news by herself.

“He-he’s dead, Andrea!” the girl shouted, tears streaming down her face.

Andrea dropped her wand and didn’t bother picking it up. Lottie turned to Gabaldon, who did not seem affected at all.

“What?” Andrea asked, her voice strangled and slightly too loud. “No, he’s okay, isn’t he?”

A petite woman with curly brown hair came in from another room. Upon seeing Andrea, she ran over to her and embraced her. “It’s okay, Andrea,” she whispered. Andrea stared at the ceiling, fighting back tears. “It’s okay to cry.”

Immediately, tears streamed down Andrea’s face and she buried her head in her mother’s shoulder, sobs shaking her entire body. “Is-is-is he here?” she stuttered.

“No,” her mother said quietly. “We didn’t have time to get him from the Death Eaters before they turned on us.”

Andrea wiped her eyes with her sleeve and turned to Gabaldon. “Can’t you do something?” she pleaded. “You helped Lottie’s dad.”

“Unfortunately,” Gabaldon said through clenched teeth, “magic does not work like that.”

Andrea fell to her knees and crumpled on the ground. Her little sister – Helen – ran up to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Drea,” she said through tears. “Mummy said Daddy’s happier now. She said that he’s free and outside of the gates now.”

Lottie wiped her eyes.

“Yes,” Andrea said, picking herself up and putting a hand on her sister’s shoulder. “He is. But--”

Gabaldon cleared her throat behind them. “I hate to break this up,” she said sounding far less than sympathetic, “but we really need to get back to the school. For your own safety,” she added.

Andrea’s breathing slowed. “Can—can I just have one more minute?” she asked, tears welling in her eyes.

Gabaldon sighed and said, “I suppose you may.”

Andrea turned to her sister and held her hands tightly. “Helen, you need to be strong for Daddy, okay?” she said. “Stay inside for the next few days. It will be dangerous. When things clear up, don’t get yourself into any sort of trouble. I’m going to come and help you when I’m older. We’re going to beat the Dark Lord and we’ll all be in a better place – outside these gates.” Her little sister nodded seriously. “Okay,” Andrea said with a deep breath. “Let’s go.”

As they were leaving, Andrea turned to her mother. “I love you Mum, Helen. Stay safe!”

Lottie’s body ached from the running by the time they were back on the street. “We need to get to the Apparation spot,” Gabaldon yelled. “Come on.”

Lottie held a stitch in her side as they continued on. It felt as though the remains of the Turtle Building weren’t getting any closer; Lottie’s legs burned with each step.

“Hey, you!” They stopped and turned around. A Death Eater’s mask reflected the Dark Mark that was shining above their heads. He stood on the top of a makeshift barricade, his wand out. “Where do you think you’re going?”

Gabaldon pulled her wand out and stood protectively in front of Lottie and Andrea. “Leave us alone,” she hissed.

The Death Eater waved his wand and shouted, “AVADA KEDAVRA!”

“Run!” Gabaldon shouted, pushing Lottie and Andrea out of the way. They froze, staring at the curse hurtling towards the professor. “RUN!” she demanded again; the light of the curse reflected the fear in her eyes.

They didn’t need to be told again. They ran and didn’t look back until the sound of a body hitting the stone ground echoed through the camp. Lottie froze in her tracks, her legs unable to carry her any farther. “Is she—?”

“She’s dead,” Andrea said, in shock. “H-he killed her.”

The Death Eater climbed down the barricade.

A boy came running up to them from the opposite direction. “What happened?” he asked, eyeing Gabaldon’s body. It was Colm.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Lottie demanded.

Colm smirked but didn’t answer. The Death Eater was gaining on them. “You need to run!” Lottie shouted, shoving Colm forward. Andrea and Lottie broke into a run again.

“Shouldn’t we get the body?” Colm asked, starting to waddle along with them.

“No,” Lottie panted. “No time.”

The Apparation spot was in sight. Colm slowed, clutching a stitch in his side. “Damn it!” Lottie shouted, shoving him to the ground. “Let’s go!”

Colm groaned from the ground, but Lottie and Andrea didn’t turn around. The Death Eater cackled cruelly, but his laughter was cut short when he tripped over Colm and fell face flat on the pavement. Slowly, the Death Eater pushed himself up, growling at the pair.

“You know,” the Death Eater cooed, looming over the two teenagers. “I just killed a man who looked an awful lot like you.” His laugh cut through Andrea like steel.

“INCENDIO!” she hissed.

Fire shot out of her wand and caught on the man’s robes. He shouted as the flames grew in intensity until they almost covered his entire body. Lottie backed away from him and put a hand on Andrea’s shoulder. She lowered her wand and slowly turned away from the Death Eater. The flames from the burning man’s robes flared behind her, framing her body grey against the blaze.

“Andrea, let’s go,” Lottie said shakily.

Andrea let her wand fall to her side and nodded.

“Help me!” Colm groaned from the ground, halting Lottie in her tracks. “I—I can’t walk.” He looked up at them. He had scraped his face and arms badly.

“Honestly, Colm, I don’t think we can carry you,” Lottie said frankly.

He pushed himself up and shouted, “It’s your fault I’m here in the first place!”

Andrea ran over to him and pulled out her wand. “Wingardium Leviosa.” Colm shouted as he levitated into the air. “Oh shut up,” Andrea said. “If you want us to help you, just take what you get.”

They ignored the Death Eater’s screams of agony and ran to the Apparation spot where Palmyitor was waiting for them with crossed arms.

“Where is Professor Gabaldon?” she demanded. “And what happened to this boy?”

Andrea shook her head and looked at Lottie. Palmyitor rounded on her as well.

“She’s dead,” Lottie breathed. “That Death Eater—” she pointed to the man on fire “—killed her. And Colm wasn’t even supposed to be here! He snuck in—or something and got himself hurt.”

“That’s a lie,” Colm moaned from the air. “She pushed me.” He pointed to Lottie.

“He wasn’t running,” Lottie said. “We needed to get away from a Death Eater.”

Palmyitor turned to Andrea, who remained silent.

Something on the Muggle barricade, just hardly in sight, exploded. The flames from the Death Eater’s body caught and started to burn the remains of the barricade, causing screams to shoot through the Camp. “We need to leave,” Palmyitor said hoarsely, waving her wand at Colm. He fell to the ground and, whimpering, pulled himself to his feet. “We’re going to Disapperate.” She offered her arms to the three students and in a moment they were gone.

“I need to…to go to the dormitory,” Andrea said once they were in Palmyitor’s office. Her voice was strained, as though she was restraining tears. Without waiting for a reply, she ran out of the office.

After a tense pause, Palmyitor rounded on Lottie. “What happened?” she demanded.

“Her—her father was killed,” Lottie explained.

Colm snorted from the floor. “No wonder she wasn’t butting in as much as normal.”

“You shut up!” Lottie snarled.

Palmyitor held a hand up and stared at Lottie. “Continue.”

Lottie took a deep breath. “A Death Eater followed us when we were going back to the Apparation site. He killed Gabaldon with—with the Killing Curse and followed us. I think he was the same man who-who killed Andrea’s father. Andrea cursed him when she found out and he—” she paused and took a breath “—he lit on fire.”

Palmyitor put a hand to her mouth. “Dear Emma…” she said softly. Immediately, she regained her composure with a brisk, “Well!” She glanced to the door that Andrea had left open. “You,” she said to Lottie, “should go help your friend in her time of need. I’ll help Scrivener here to the hospital wing.” Palmyitor’s newfound compassion was surprising and slightly unnerving.

Lottie left the office silently, trying to respect Palmyitor’s grieving. She couldn’t force herself to run anymore, so took her time getting downstairs. In the Palmyitor common room, Julianne and Sophie sat, waiting.

“What’s with Andrea?” Sophie asked once she saw Lottie.

“There was trouble at our Camp,” Lottie said. “Her father was killed.”

The two other Palmyitor girls sat in silence. “Is she in the dormitory?” Lottie asked. Julianne nodded.

Holding her breath, Lottie hobbled down the stairs and into their dormitory. “Andrea?” she said with a knock. “Are you okay?”

“Do you think I’m okay?” Andrea asked, turning around furiously. “I’ll never see him again.”

Lottie sat down on the bed next to Andrea and looked at the floor. She really didn’t know what to say at a time like this. “I’m sorry,” she said awkwardly. “No, I really am, Andrea. But I don’t really know what else I’m supposed to tell you. I mean—” She stopped. Maybe saying, “My dad is still alive,” would be a poor choice. “Do—do you want to talk about him?”

Andrea took a breath. “I’m not sure, Lottie… I’m really not sure. He—he was protective and kind and—” She bit her lip and buried her head in her hands. “I can’t talk about it anymore,” she said through silent tears.

Lottie nodded and said, “Okay. Well I’ll be here. When you’re ready.”


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