Chapter 10 : Difficile Death
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A/N: Extra long chapter, yay! And, if all goes as planned, there will only be one more chapter in Death and Destiny.
Warning: This chapter is called "Difficile Death" for a reason!!!
He took a step towards James, his smile and red eyes showing traces of nothing but evil, and began to carve the Dark Mark into James' chest with the same dagger he claimed took the life of his son.
Remus continued to wander the seemingly endless corridors of Voldemort's abode. It had been quite a while now, and he was growing a tad bit worried. He had yet to find Lily - or to run into anyone for that matter - and that gave cause for concern about what was happening to one of his best friends, being alone with Death Eaters, and possibly Voldemort himself, all this time.
Of course, Remus didn't want to leave his best mate alone with Death Eaters and Voldemort for any amount of time, but James Potter could be the most stubborn person on the planet when he wanted to be, and when it came to Lily, he wanted to. James wasn't leaving this place again unless he knew Lily was safe or taking her to safety himself, and Remus knew this. Remus also knew that the best chance he had at getting the Potters out alive was by focusing on getting Lily out first, then seeing James to safety.
And then, Remus realized with a mental groan of frustration directed at himself, he would be home and able to beg forgiveness from the girlfriend he liked like no other for not filling her in on what he was doing and where he was going. But it would be worth it. If being on this mission where he and those he was closest to might not be alive at the end of made him realize anything, it was that he loved her, and just wanted to be with her. He, Sirius, and Jasmine had used to poke fun at James for the way he spoke about Lily, the way he acted when thinking about her, but now Remus understood how James could operate like that, because he felt the same way about Nymphadora. He had only known her for about a year; he had met her when Dumbledore called together his more devoted Order members just a month after Remus had resigned from his teaching post at Hogwarts from suspicions Voldemort would soon be attempting something big to return to power. Remus had gone over to talk with Jasmine and her "dog" and ended up meeting her enthusiastic niece with spiked bubblegum pink hair. They had only been dating for a few months - he started going out with her after much persuasion and many threats from Sirius - but Nymphadora Tonks quickly became the best thing that ever happened to him. He was enamored with her. He loved her.
Moony! Focus! a voice inside his head shouted at him. He had to get out of his own thoughts and focus on the task at hand so he could get back to Tonks. He had, of course, been looking for Lily while thinking, but he hadn't been as wary as he should have been. He had to make it home alive, and see that his fellow Marauder and fellow Marauder's wife got out alive too.
Remus flattened himself against the wall as two Death Eaters came down the corridor and entered a room opposite the wall Remus had pressed up against. Cautiously, wand drawn, Remus followed through the door they left open.
Remus looked around the dimly lit room, it seemed to be some kind of store room, and the Death Eaters were searching for something and exchanging words when they didn't find it; and they were completely oblivious to the disillusioned presence in the room.
With as much sleuth as possible, Remus aimed his wand at one of the Death Eaters and cast a nonverbal stunner. The spell hit its target square in the back, and he fell unconscious into the stack of boxes in front of him.
The remaining Death Eater spun around, wand at the ready, but Remus was too quick for him. Another stunning spell and Remus was hiding the two unconscious bodies in the collection of items scattered around the room.
Remus took the moment - and opportunity - to look around. He didn't find anything unusual or even unpredictable, except for a few items he thought would be worth taking. Stowing them in his pocket, he left the room for the deserted corridor, and realized that if he had any hope of finding his way around, he'd need a map, or someone to follow, preferably the former. He headed down another corridor, not even able to recognize it enough to know whether or not he had been down that one before.
Sirius threw some Floo Powder into the fireplace, calling for Dumbledore. To his immense surprise, the flames turned bright green, and Fawkes the Phoenix flew through, followed closely by the Headmaster.
"Hello, Sirius," the aging wizard said. "I understand that you have been trying to contact me for quite some time, and I apologize for being unable to get here sooner."
Sirius looked at Dumbledore's calm face, and, while he was relieved that the person who might be able to help his godson more than anyone else had arrived, he wanted to scream. How could anyone be so calm while his godson was upstairs dying?!
But a reasoned voice, that sounded oddly like Remus, reminded him that Dumbledore had only just arrived, and therefore didn't know what was happening. If Sirius wanted to help Harry, he knew he would have to remain calm, something that he was finding exceedingly difficult to do now that the task of contacting Dumbledore was completed and off his mind.
"Harry," Sirius managed to say in a strangled voice that sounded most unlike his own.
"What about Harry?" Dumbledore asked calmly.
Yet Sirius didn't miss the flash of fear that showed on his old Headmaster's face; and that did nothing to help calm his nerves.
Sirius had the question answered for him when the sound of glass breaking was heard upstairs, followed by Tonks's teary voice shouting "There is no more!"
"There has to be more!" Jasmine's shout was heard downstairs as well.
Whether is was the glass breaking or someone shouting, Sirius didn't know or care, but when he heard his mother's portrait go off again, he couldn't keep it in any longer. Shouting and cursing at the top of his lungs, he rushed to the painting to shut it up.
Dumbledore, however, hurried up the stairs with Fawkes perched on his shoulder, to see for himself just what was happening. He was honestly surprised.
The Weasley children and Hermione were looking through anything and everything that could contain a potion - more specifically, Blood Replenishing Potion - Tonks seemed to have recently abandoned her search and was going into the study to answer Molly Weasley's call for assistance, and Jasmine was sitting just outside the study door, a large assortment of books scattered around her as she leafed through every one as fast as she could without missing anything.
Dumbledore walked into the study, his features betrayed nothing as he watched Tonks and Molly re-bandage Harry's arm and force a few drops of a potion down his throat. He walked over to the three and calmly had the two witches move aside. Pulling out his wand, Dumbledore muttered incoherently over Harry, trying to find exactly what had done this. He knew it had to be some kind of powerful dark magic for the occupants of Grimmauld Place to be this state. Fawkes perched by Harry's exposed, bleeding arm, and shed two tears over the wound. Dumbledore paused to watch. Nothing happened. The Phoenix Tears hadn't worked, Harry's arm was still bleeding.
Dumbledore sighed, hoping it wasn't too late, as he muttered one last incantation.
"I will do what I can, but I know of nothing that will help Harry at this time," he said regrettably to the anticipating women.
THUMP! They turned to see Jasmine standing in the doorway. She had dropped the book she had been holding, and looked ready to join it on the floor.
Tonks went forward to help her aunt stand, and guided her back to the corridor. Jasmine sank to the floor, trying to digest what she had heard Dumbledore say. Tonks sank down beside her, and Jasmine wrapped her arms tightly around the younger witch. Although she still had many questions about what was happening, Tonks didn't voice them, now wasn't the time.
Molly," Dumbledore asked softly after the other two left, "would you assist me in this?"
"Why, yes, of course," she said, still shocked by the revelation that Albus Dumbledore hadn't been able to help Harry.
James fell to his knees, panting heavily, as Voldemort stepped away. Two Death Eaters still had a strong grip on him, and his chest was bleeding profoundly. The cuts weren't deep enough to kill him, but James had felt the power that resided in the blade as it had pierced his skin, and it hurt, much worse than anything he had been expecting. He knew unconsciousness was close, he could feel the blackness creeping up on him, but then a jet of light hit him. It caused his senses to become more aware, more awake, and while it didn't make his body feel any stronger, James knew his chance of passing out had just been eliminated.
"James," Voldemort said with mock disappointment, sitting in his Dark Mark throne he had just conjured, "we can't have you passing from consciousness when there's so much I'm sure you're dying to hear now, can we? Especially not after I presented you with such an honor as to bear my Mark for ridding me of the nuisance of Harry Potter."
How he hated that thing who called himself a wizard.
James screamed as the orange light hit him, and the worse physical pain that he had ever felt consumed his entire being. Once the curse was lifted, James found himself unable to move off the floor he had fallen to.
"It would do well for you to pay attention, Potter."
James's only response was to turn his head so no one would see the single tear he had allowed to escape.
"I may even let you see your wife again, before she is put to death, that is."
That caught James's attention. "No, please," he rasped.
"Then listen, Potter. I want you all to understand the power of Lord Voldemort."
James tried to show that he was listening. Anything to keep Lily alive.
"I will prove to you now that I made no mistake that Halloween night, other than overlooking the Mudblood's sacrifice."
James had to bite his tongue to keep from lashing out at Voldemort's words.
"Wormtail, step forward," Voldemort commanded.
Despite the pain, it took every ounce of self-control that James possessed to stop himself from attacking the fidgeting man who nervously came forward at his master's call.
James stared unbelievingly at the dead body of his once best friend turned traitor. He didn't know what to feel: sorrow for the man he had once counted among his closest friends, satisfaction that the coward who had betrayed his family was dead, or some complicated mixture of the two.
"I couldn't keep a follower indebted to your son if that debt could be passed to you once he died, could I?" Voldemort asked James with a cruel and taunting tone. "Now," he continued as if nothing had happened, changing his position in his throne to a more comfortable one. "Leave the body!" he suddenly shouted as two Death Eaters stepped forward to remove Wormtail's body from their master's presence. "I want him to hear this as well, even if he is dead."
Voldemort looked around at his obeying, most faithful and trusted, "followers".
"That night," Voldemort began, "I went to Godric's Hollow with one objective in mind: To fulfill a Prophecy by killing Harry Potter. I never had the intention of killing either of the parents until the boy was dead. The Potters had defied me too many times, and I wanted them to witness the world after I completed my path to immortality when I was truly undefeatable. So when they meddled in my plans of killing the Potter boy, I had to get them out of the way. As you all know, Unforgivables do not work without enough power or if they are not meant. I did not mean for the two who dared defy my to die at that time, and so they didn't. But had I willed it, they would be dead. Because the Mudblood believed she would die, the protective spell that now runs through my veins as well acted as if she had died, and not seeing that, was the only blunder I had ever made. Now, though, it is completely rectified."
James stay still, in a sickened silence. That answered many questions, but it wasn't want he had been expecting; of course, he hadn't really known what he was expecting, but that most certainly wasn't anything close to it.
As if to prove the point of what he had said, Voldemort flicked his wand in the direction of Pettigrew's body, causing it to burst into flame. As well as being lighted, the room instantly filled with the disgusting odor of burning flesh. Voldemort stood, apparently unaffected by the reeking scent, and addressed three of his Death Eaters.
"Take Potter where ever you see fit."
James heard no more as two pairs of hands roughly pulled him to his feet and shoved him out the door. The two Death Eaters who were holding him seemed to be following the third. As relieved as James was to make it out of that room alive, he was still nervous about where he was about to go.
Remus looked around the corridor. He was positive he had been to this one before, but he continued on. Eventually, he decided to check in on Grimmauld Place, maybe he could get some assistance from there. He pulled out the mirror he had.
"Black," he said quietly but clearly, unsure which one would most likely be holding the mirror he was trying to contact.
It took a few minutes, but soon the face of Jasmine Black came into view. "Remus," she said, wiping her eyes, but she didn't say it to him.
"Is he all right?" Remus heard Tonks ask.
"Moony, what's going on?"
"I'm lost," he said, "as in going in circles with absolutely no idea where to step next."
"Oh, uh, that's not a problem," Jasmine said. Remus could see her stand from the floor in the mirror. He could tell something wasn't quite right.
"Jas, what went wrong?"
"Nothing," she said, a little too quickly. "Just, um, Dumbledore's here, and he's, uh, helping."
"Wait a minute," Remus said, hiding the mirror in his still Disillusioned robes as he heard voices and footsteps approaching, along with a strong, repulsive smell that made him want to be sick. Once the danger had passed, although the horrible smell still lingered, Remus pulled out the mirror.
"Two Death Eaters just carried away a burnt body. There was no way that thing was still alive."
He didn't miss the alarm in his friend's eyes. "It wasn't--"
"I don't think so," he said hurriedly, "but I've got to get away from this smell before I'm sick."
As he continued to walk as far away from the Death Eaters, and the smell, as he could, Jasmine got a glimpse of where he was.
"Wait, wait!" she said. "Show me where you are, what it looks like!"
Remus held up the mirror so she could see all around. "Why, do you know this place?" he asked, half jokingly, trying to lighten the mood a little.
"Actually, I think I do."
"Leave," the Death Eater in the lead ordered the two half-dragging James through the corridors of the place.
"But-" one began to protest.
The order was simple, level, and calm, but James didn't know if he was more amazed by the power it held or by who he knew had given it.
Once the other two Death Eaters left, Severus Snape pulled off his mask to reveal his face.
"What do you think you are doing, Potter?!" he spat. Obviously, until he had seen James, he hadn't known the Marauder was there.
"Oh, I don't know, I missed the place and fancied a stroll. I'm here to save my wife!"
Snape cast a hurried glance around the deserted corridors and replaced his masked. "Get her out," he hissed, opening a door in front of them and shoving James through.
James heard the door close and lock behind him. It didn't take long for James to look around and recognize his surroundings. This was the room - her room - where he had seen her tortured again and again. This was where she was. It had to be.
James spotted her instantly; no matter how filthy, her hair was still the beautiful, fiery red James had so often longed to feel again. "Lily," he muttered.
He forced himself to stand and make his way over to her, his body protesting painfully, but he paid it no mind. He had to see Lily. The pain didn't matter.
He collapsed next to her, and longed to touch her, feel that she was real, but he was afraid to, scared that if he did she would disappear forever.
"Lily," he whispered, gently tracing his finger down her pale, gaunt face. Tears were threatening to fall over. Here she was, after fourteen long years, right in front of him. She felt so cold.
James would have though she was dead, except that her emerald eyes opened wide in shock and fear when he touched her, looking wildly around the room.
"It's all right." His voice was breaking as he gently cupped her face in his hand. James had thought he'd have so much to say, but he found himself at a loss for words.
Her eyes were dull, void of life. They held only the fear and pain she had suffered all these long years. "J-James?" she asked, shakily, unbelieving, and weak. Her voice was nothing like the sweet melody it once was, but James couldn't have been more relieved to hear it. "How?" she asked, and weakly raised her hand and used a terribly thin finger to wipe the tear on her husband's face, as if she couldn't really believe he was there.
James gently seized her hand and kissed her palm. He wanted nothing more than to be home, holding her safely and securely in his arms forever. "Just got lucky, I guess."
"Lucky?" she croaked.
"It's been fourteen years; I'd say some luck is long overdue."
Lily looked as if she had just lost her hearing. "Fourteen y-years?"
James nodded as he pushed her matted hair off of her dirty face, savoring the feel of her skin and hair. "But we're getting out of here. Soon, I promise, we're going home."
Lily gave a small smile. "That sounds nice, but I think you're being a bit too optimistic, James." She was crying too. She had missed him so much, she thought she'd be dead before hearing his voice again, and here he was. Right there.
He flashed her one of his famous Marauder grins. "Not when Remus is walking around trying to find us."
"Remus? Remus Lupin? How did he get here?"
"That's a long story, and not the best to tell here. I had to come back for you though, Remus, Sirius, Jas, and Harry are going to help get us out of here. We'll be home with him soon."
James had all but forgotten that Lily didn't know Harry was alive. "I thought we lost him too, but he's alive. He's amazing, Lily. I- you're going to be so proud of him."
She smiled. "I already am." Her husband was holding her, her son was alive. How could this all be real and true? Lily wanted to believe it was; after the hell she had lived in for so long, she had to.
"James," she whispered, her eyes wide. She placed a hand on the dried blood that covered his chest.
His jaw tightened as the thought of what was under that blood. "It's nothing," he said unconvincingly. James gently moved her hand and repositioned his legs so that he could hold his wife's body, shivering with cold, against his own. He felt the effect of the past fourteen years as she tensed in his arms, relaxing ever-so-slightly against him. She was so thin, so fragile; and James knew that it was because everything that happened to had happened so much worse to her. They had used her to torture him.
"Jas, I think you're directing me in circles."
"No. No, I'm sure that's the right way."
"Really? Because half the time you've had your nose in that book, and it's been what? twenty-some years since you've been here?"
"Well do you want to find them and not have a way out of there? And once Bellatrix gives you your fifth grand tour of her oh-so-charming basement, you start to learn your way around."
"This place is more complicated than Hogwarts."
"And I had that down well before Christmas of our first year. Shut up!"
"I didn't say anything," Remus said tonelessly.
"No, I know how to get you out of there. But. . . oh, crap."
"Nothing. Yeah, this isn't a problem. I think I can get Sirius or myself there and one of us can bring it."
"If you're talking about a Portkey, I can just--"
"No, you can't. Protective charms. But I found the charm that may have been used on that knife, or some variation of it. . . Yes, definitely a variation; it needs to be placed on the object at the location the person traveling by it wants to end up. Since I think it's based off whatever that dagger had placed on it, it should be able to bypass the security charms that would prevent Portkeying or apparating. And Sirius and I should be able to get in there because we're closely related to the Lestranges."
"Send Sirius," Remus quickly decided. "If something goes wrong, I'd rather have you with the resources to get us out."
Jasmine snorted, glad to have a temporary distraction from what was happening with her godson. "Like I would really leave the survival of everyone there solely in the hands of Sirius Black when books are a necessary part of the equation."
"Wait, I think I've found it." Remus pushed open a door with his wand held in front of him. It was empty. He quickly made his way to a large window in the room and looked through it. "Yeah, I see them!" We may all get out of this alive after all, Remus thought to himself.
"Yeah, what?" Remus heard Sirius ask through the mirror. He then heard Jasmine perform some spell he had never heard before, and under a minute later, Sirius was standing right beside him.
"Did he get there all right?" Jasmine asked. "I had to remember a few passwords and whatnot from twenty-some years ago, so. . ."
"No, I didn't 'get there all right', I was sent there," Sirius answered cheekily.
"Hit him for me, would you? And make it hurt."
"Gladly," Remus said, and smacked Sirius upside the head.
"Okay, here's where to go. . ."
Jasmine gave them directions to reach the room Lily and James were being held. They made their way to it without much problem.
At Grimmauld Place, Jasmine kept the mirror with her, but it was no longer connected to the other one after she finished the directions. She went to check on Harry.
Just as she reached the door, Dumbledore came out looking solemn, and Molly was in tears. Jasmine felt her heart tighten in fear, and Dumbledore slowly shook his head.
"NO!" She ran past them to her godson's pale body. No breathing, no bleeding. No life.
But she didn't hear the Headmaster, who, in that moment, looked his true age. She couldn't speak, couldn't think, couldn't cry. She was operating only on what primal instinct told her to do. Slowly, as if in a trance, she raised her wand and watched as a small, silvery fox ran out of sight.
Unable to control it, she collapsed to the floor and cried.
Lily had fallen asleep. She finally felt safe enough to close her eyes. James made sure she could feel that safety. He was still awake, though; he had to wait for Remus to come or contact them.
But Remus didn't come first. A fox that James recognized as Jasmine's Patronus did. The fox stopped in front of him, and spoke in Jasmine's tear-filled voice.
"Harry. . . He-- he's. . . dead."
A/N: Well, there's chapter ten, and, the way the story's looking, there's only going to need to be one more chapter for it to be completed.
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