Chapter 2 : Chapter II: Signs and Returns
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Summary: A Seer receives the sign she’s been awaiting for months, members of the Light worry over their friends and family, and the weary fighters return – but something still isn’t right.
Author’s Note: Yep, the second chapter of Thoughts in the Abyss is here, and it’s even lengthier than the first one was. Unfortunately, it’s not the chapter that’ll be titled “Taken”, as the scene for that chapter has been pushed back yet again (more in end A/N). A “Thank You” goes out to fg_weasley of MNFF for beta-ing this chapter, too! But I’ll let you get right to the story, so I present for your enjoyment, Chapter II of Thoughts in the Abyss, entitled, Signs and Returns.
Thoughts in the Abyss
By Dark Princess
Image by GoCalgaryFlamesGo of TDA!
Chapter II: Signs and Returns
A bright, white orb hung in the dark night sky, and the nearly full moon provided light over the grounds of the centuries-old stone castle. The evening was quite cold this far north, winter still the season of the year in mid-February. Stars shone from the sky, their little lights dotting among the blanketed sky, and owls flew from the surrounding trees, as well as into and out of the school’s Owlery.
Everything about this night was perfectly normal at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; this night was not any different than any of the other nights before it, nor was it any different than the many nights that were sure to come after it – at least, not as far as the natural wildlife was concerned.
Inside the stone walls of the massive castle, however, nothing could ever be described as being ‘perfectly normal’. Most of the students had retired to their beds, as the hour had grown quite late in the evening and there were classes the next day, and many of the teachers had done the same as those young witches and wizards. A few of the ghosts, for whom sleep wasn’t needed, could be seen floating along the shadowed corridors, their translucent appearance helping to provide an eerie sort of lighting to the halls.
But up in a small room in one of the highest towers in the school, there sat a teacher who was not anywhere near being sleepy or drowsy in the slightest. Her long and wild strands of silvery grey hair fell around her lined face in a crazy and whispy manner. Tangles snagged at her comb repeatedly as she brushed through the strands, though she did not even seem to flinch as she yanked on her hair, and her light blue eyes stared off into the distance – though not as if seeing anything of importance. Her actions seemed almost trance-like.
Professor Sylvia Silverstone, the teacher of Divination for nearly five years, had been awakened over three hours ago by a vivid, yet weird dream. She had, obsessively, already scribbled down the facts of the scenes and words imparted to her, but try as she might, she could not remove them enough from her mind to allow her to return to slumber.
She had been all alone in a large, empty room, the walls and floor coloured as white as possible and stretching on endlessly, no boundaries in sight. Looking around for a door and finding none, Sylvia had yelled out for someone, her voice echoing around in the space, though calling no one – or so it had seemed. For, barely a moment after the last of her echoing plea had faded away, she turned around to find herself staring at a young girl, one who couldn’t have been older than ten years of age.
The child had blonde hair that was almost as white as the room, smooth yet still slightly straggly, and her large, silver eyes stared directly into Sylvia’s blue ones, the gaze as intense as if she was staring into the woman’s inner soul. Both Sylvia and the girl continued their staring contest for several silent minutes before it was broken by any speech.
“Who are you?” asked Sylvia, her voice still seeming to echo around the room regardless of its volume being a near whisper.
“The Moon can always impart knowledge to those who See,” replied the child, whose own soft voice did not echo as Sylvia’s had. “Though she cannot always make others understand.”
Sylvia, who had always before prided herself on her dream interpretation and cryptic riddle solving, had to admit that this girl had her at a loss. “What do you mean, child?” she asked.
“I know that you can See, but you must make way for another to take your place,” answered the girl, her eyes gazing unblinkingly at Sylvia. “The other must inform the White Teacher that the heir to the Leader and Flower will be the one he’s long awaited, the one to stop the Black Serpent. But that is not your part to tell,” she whispered, grabbing onto the sleeve of Sylvia’s robe and pulling the professor down to her level. “You must inform the White Teacher of this knowledge.”
And the child had proceeded to whisper said knowledge to Sylvia, the new words just as cryptic and as unknown to the professor as all of the girl’s other statements had been, but they attached themselves firmly in her mind. There would be no possible way for her to forget them when she returned to the waking world.
And Professor Sylvia Silverstone had not forgotten the words of the child. Upon awakening, she had hurried from her bed and into her attached office, grabbing a quill and quickly scribbling down the girl’s statements. She had then placed the quill back upon her desk and sat down in the chair, a position she hadn’t moved from since leaving her bed.
Her gaze travelled over the parchments on her desk once again, resting for a brief moment on her hurried notes from her dream before stopping on that last piece of parchment, the one she had removed from a drawer after completing the transcript of the vision. It had been written months ago, though she had never thought far enough to deliver it. She had, after all, been in this teaching post for five years, and there was a part of her that was never sure if she was ready to give it up completely. Always, as she had glanced at the parchment in her drawer, she would claim that she was waiting for a ‘divine sign’ to lead her to the right path to take.
Sylvia smiled, setting the comb down on her desk and picking up the letter of resignation. Perhaps she had finally received that sign – and five years was enough for her. It was time to move on.
She would tell the Headmaster in the morning that a new Divination teacher would be needed for the next school year.
The same bright moon that gave light to the grounds of Hogwarts also shone through the windows of a run-down, wooden house on the western side of the country. Surrounded by nothing but grass and forests, the house seemed fairly non-descript and certainly nothing to admire. Most of the windows on the first floor were destroyed, bits of glass still littering the front porch, and the front steps shook and groaned with just the slightest weight. The front door barely remained upright, and holes could be seen all around the house, especially atop the roof. All in all, it looked as if the slightest touch would send the structure tumbling to the ground.
But such was not, in actuality, the case.
Protective charms had provided the grand appearance of the house, which actually stood as strong and sturdy as it had for years. Built and enchanted to outlast every natural disaster known to mankind, the house looked impeccably clean. The windows – all unbroken and solid – gleamed with their lack of dust, and there were no gaps or holes in the walls or roof. The front stairs could hold the weight of dozens of grown men all jumping down on them at once, as well (such a thing was known for a fact; just last week, the group that used this house had tested just such an idea).
What had appeared to be an abandoned and run-down house in the middle of nowhere was, in reality, a grand home that was filled with nearly twenty individuals on this night. (It was still, though, in the middle of nowhere.)
Most of the house’s inhabitants were gathered in the main room, a large meeting table in front of them that was covered with maps, books, scrolls, and other documents. Some sat in chairs, a drink in their hands as they talked with friends, while others were poring over the documents on the table, discussing what they thought in low whispers – though some conversations had been approaching a level of ‘argument’ earlier in the evening. A couple of them had even fallen prey to slumber.
But still others, who, for whatever reason, could find nothing else to concentrate upon, were pacing repeatedly across the room, to the great annoyance of their friends before they left the room to continue their actions elsewhere.
One such pacing individual was a young, red-haired woman, barely over twenty years of age and just starting to show the first physical signs of her pregnancy. Back and forth, back and forth, she walked through the nearby kitchen, having left the group of people over an hour ago to pace in peace. Her green eyes were clouded with worry, and she did not even seem to notice the opening of the kitchen’s door or the entrance of another individual … until he stood right in her path and she ran into him, of course.
“Lily, you’re going to wear yourself out if you don’t sit down,” said a quiet voice as the man put his hands on the red-haired woman’s shoulders. “I’m sure everything will be fine –”
“You don’t know that, Remus Lupin,” Lily snapped, though she allowed herself to be led to a nearby chair. She lifted her gaze to meet the blue eyes of her friend. “No one knows that.”
Remus sighed. “You’re right, Lily, I don’t know for certain,” he said. “But –”
“And I know what you’re going to say,” interrupted Lily, lifting a hand as if to emphasise the point. “You’re going to say that it’s just a normal raid, nothing unexpected. We had plenty of information about the manor and enemy before anyone went on this mission, and there shouldn’t be any logical way for anything bad to happen.” She gave her own long sigh before continuing.
“But I don’t care if it’s logical or not, Remus,” she said. “I’m worried, more worried than I was the last time they went on a raid like this, and I don’t know why. There were fewer secrets on this mission than there were on previous ones, but I’ve got this feeling that something’s going to go horribly wrong.”
Remus frowned, Lily’s words reverberating in his mind. Lily usually had very good intuition, her ‘feelings’ generally always leading in the right direction; very rarely were they too far off the mark, so to speak. And though Remus himself had felt an increased anxiety over tonight and the Order’s mission, he knew better than to tell Lily that he, too, shared her increased fears. Such words wouldn’t calm his friend’s wife in the least, and would only make the situation worse by seeming to confirm Lily’s worries.
Silence had fallen over the two of them as Remus was lost in his thoughts, though they had known each other long enough for there to not be any awkwardness in the lack of conversation. The quiet didn’t last too long, however, before it was broken by a series of chimes – three short, two long, one short – echoing around the house. It was the signal that the wards were allowing entry via the correct keys, rather than the series of two short, one long that signalled the wards being forcefully breached and broken.
“They’re back,” said Remus.
He and Lily both rose from the chairs at the same time, Lily making it through the kitchen door a split second before Remus. The two of them joined the others in the main room, all of whom had ceased their previous activities and had focussed their eyes on the front door. (Gazing through the window wouldn’t help, as allowed visitors had the capability to maintain invisibility until they stood upon the front porch.) Even the few sleepers had rejoined their waking companions and were watching the door.
And with a few sounds of tapping wood – a wand against a door – that was followed by the clicking of locks, the front door of the Order Headquarters swung open.
The sounds of several, quiet pops could be heard as eight individuals materialised out of thin air, four being held up by a combination of spells and physical help from their living companions. Barely a second passed after the witches and wizards had arrived before they had all collapsed to the ground, exhausted. The four unfortunate souls who had not managed to leave the battle alive – Michelle Waterstone, Alexander Rogers, Marcia Penn, and Jonathan Bennett – were lowered to the ground slowly by the others.
“We should get back into the house,” said Frank Longbottom, turning to face his wife as she wrapped a torn piece of cloth around the deep gash on his shoulder. “Let the others know what happened.” His brown gaze turned to take in the sight of the four unmoving bodies, whose faces were either twisted in expressions of pain or surprise – and in some cases, both.
“And what you’re not mentioning is that they’ve probably started to worry sick about us and are pacing holes in the floor as we speak,” Alice muttered, tying off the bandage and standing to help Frank to his feet. “You know, James, how Lily’s been during these past few missions.”
The black-haired man who was currently receiving the female Auror’s gaze smiled, rising from the dead, grassy ground himself. “Well, then let’s not keep them waiting any longer,” he said, waving a wand as he spoke to conjure up four stretchers for the dead – Everyone who was alive wasn’t injured so badly as to prevent walking. Dorcas Meadowes and Alice Longbottom enchanted the bodies of their fallen companions onto the floating stretchers, while Frank and James Potter began keying their way into the wards.
After hearing the series of chimes that signalled they’d made their opening and were allowed, the eight members of the Order of the Phoenix crossed the field, maintaining the invisibility that the wards provided, and slowly climbed the front steps before unlocking the door and entering the house.
James had barely made it through the front door before Lily had her arms around him. It only took him half a second to return the action, giving a small smile and nod to his friend as he did so. The slight sounds of voices coming from the others in the room reached his ears, though James couldn’t concentrate on them enough to know what was being said. He figured, of course, that his companions on the mission were telling the others what had happened – and the sounds of gasps that came from some of the members seemed to confirm just such an idea.
Memories of the recent fight chose just that moment to swim to the very forefront of his mind, and he winced inwardly as he thought about the deaths of his friends. Apparently, though, his face had shown the expression.
“James,” said Remus, “what happened?”
Lily leaned away from her husband, though neither of them completely let the other one go, and the trio walked into the other room to join the rest of the Order. After they had each taken a seat, James began to tell both Lily and Remus the events of the night.
He told them how they didn’t make it into the manor; how they had apparently been expected and planned for, if the number of Death Eaters waiting for them was any indication; how both Michelle and Alexander had been killed before anyone could do anything about it (both Lily and Remus looked slightly sick as James told them just how the four members of the group had died). He told them how the battle had turned south extraordinarily quickly, and that the call for retreat had to be given.
“So, in short,” muttered James, sighing, “the entire thing was a complete and utter failure. We didn’t get what we went there for, and we lost four people in the fiasco.” He rubbed his hands over his exhausted face, willing the tiredness to leave him, at least for the moment.
The voices in the room had quieted, though conversations were still being held in whispers. Members of the Order had broken off into groups, just as they had earlier in the evening, and the four bodies of Marcia, Michelle, Jonathan, and Alexander had been taken upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Frank, Alice, and Dorcas had a witch or wizard acting as a Healer next to them, trying to heal the worst of the injuries, as they could allow slight cuts and bruises to heal naturally. Lily had started doing a similar thing for James, nodding thanks to Emmeline as the dark-haired witch passed her a pain-killing potion.
Remus, returning from the kitchen with a couple of drinks, suddenly stopped in the doorway. He scanned his blue eyes over the room, seeing each and every Order member that had been present when he left, and realised why that feeling of unease had not completely left when the members of the raid returned to Headquarters. At first, the werewolf had passed it off as being caused by the deaths of nearly half the group – and vicious deaths at that – but now he knew that such was not the case.
There was someone missing who should have returned with the others.
“James,” he said, stopping in front of the Potters and placing the drinks in his hands on the table, “Where’s Sirius?”
Author’s Note: Yeah, I know, another cliffy – but it’s only slight, as you know where Sirius is (for right now). I promise, though, that he’s back in the next chapter, in the scene that should be called the “musical scene”, as it has changed position every time – It’s what uses the title of “Taken”, by the way. (It started out being in the first chapter, and then moved to the second, and now it’s in the third – where it will stay.) As for now, though, thank you so much for reading, and please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think of this chapter!
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