Chapter 1 : Goodbye Memory Lane
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I wipe the tears from my eyes as my body spasms in pain. My hands are shaking, my head is ringing. My mind is numb.
Laughter surrounds me, an evil cackling that echoes through my bones. It sounds strangely distant, as though underwater. I watch through my watering eyes as the Death Eaters face me, their wands raised. Their mouths move, forming a curse that I cannot hear. The pain slams into my body again, my every pore screaming; I’m crying freely now. Still, my mouth remains shut. As I sink to my knees, my resistance is still resolute. I will not give in. Even though the pain is enough to reduce me to dust, I will never give in. If they see even a glimpse of pain, they will be satisfied; I refuse to give them that. The pain rises like white hot needles in my sides, finding every inch of my skin. I wish it over now, so that it doesn’t hurt anymore.
A scream resonates beside me, and I open my glassy eyes to see my wife; she is lying on the floor, her body cramped and wasted. Her eyes are shut, her lips cracked and she is a shadow of the woman she once was. Her hair is no longer dark and lustrous, but faded and brittle; her skin is ashen and pale, no longer full of life. Alice is slipping away from me, and it makes me cry out for the first time. I am more scared than I have ever been. But there is nothing I can do. My arm remains limp by my side, my wand already fallen from my fingers.
My eyes dart around my surroundings, taking in my position. It is not somewhere I have ever been before and not somewhere I ever want to go again. The room is dark, the walls are damp and there is an unmistakable stench of fear and desperation. I cannot decide whether it was here before we came, but I know that we are scared enough to have filled the world with our terror. There are three people nearby, excluding Alice and I, and their steady footsteps remind me that there is no escape; we are trapped.
My breathing quickens, each breath feeling like the last. I don’t want to close my eyes as I am scared that I could forget what it is to see, as though my eyes would never open again. It feels close to the end, now, and I cannot face the fact that soon this will all be nothing to me, a blank space in a blank mind.
Alice screams again, her voice sounding more and more hoarse. The sound sends terror crawling over my skin, and it goads me into trying to stand up. I will not let them hurt her anymore, I will resist them. I have to be strong enough or else neither of us can hope for the future; our future.
We don’t have the information they want. They choose not to believe us, that we cannot give them the hope they crave. We cannot give it to them and for that they will kill us. Voldemort is dead, and Alice and I will pay the price. Our son will pay the price.
My strength weakens as my mind turns to Neville; he is too young to understand the horrors that life hides, the fallibility of mankind. He will, one day, be familiar with our plight, our pain. I will not be there to save him from it. My legs buckle, and jeering drowns my ears. There is nothing I can do, nothing I can do to grasp the fragments of life that remain. As my body hits the floor, I focus my gaze on my wife. She is all I have left now, she is the only reminder of the life I once had. I don’t want to forget it, I can’t forget it. Those memories are mine, they are part of who I am. Without them, there is no proof that I even exist.
Real fear strikes me now, stronger than the fear of the pain or the fear of death. It is the fear of losing my identity, forgetting who I am; losing my memories. What is the point of a life forgotten? Pieces of mind are slipping through my fingers, I can feel it; no matter how I try to grasp them they leave me. Moments that seem a lifetime ago flash before my eyes.
My father’s coffin vanishes out of sight, sinking for the final time into the ground. From dust he came, and to dust he will return. I am fifteen years old, I do not understand the evils of the world. The smell of soil stings my nostrils, the Earth smelling fresh and sweet. The ground is moist, my eyes are damp. I am shaking as I lean into my mother for support. She doesn’t know that I am there with her; her mind is somewhere else entirely. She will not talk to me properly for another three years. Her depression will suffocate me, will entrance me and scare me. She doesn’t know who she is, who I am. She has forgotten it all, her memories lost. Every time I look at her face I see the woman she once was; her strong will, her kind eyes. Now, she is but a shell. I will grow to fear her and her condition. Amnesia, they call it. I despise it. I loathe the Death Eaters who have killed my father and I swear to avenge him.
Alice’s voice filters into my mind, and it feels as though waking from a deep sleep. Her eyes find my face as we hear the footsteps fade. They have gone and we are still alive. Her mouth forms my name again but this time she makes no sound. How frail she looks, how vulnerable. My name is the last word she utters, her body lying still on the floor.
A strangled cry falls from my lips, and I desperately pull myself across the cold ground to reach her. With every heave of my body I can feel the life seep out of me; my mind is weak and numb. I rest my head on her chest and I know she is still with me, just. Her body is warm and her heart beat is slow and dull, her pulse gently keeping her alive. Her eyes find mine, and I see my mother in them. They are glassy, pale and unaware of me. I am no longer her husband, I am not the father of her child; to her, I am nothing. I tear falls from my eye, the fluid dripping onto her robes. I am cold, frozen. A lifetime of shared memories thrown away instantly, my soulmate destroyed.
And we are soulmates, we always have been. Ever since our love blossomed five years ago we have been inseparable. There is just something so comforting about being with Alice that makes me never want to leave her side. We fit together perfectly, we are of one mind. I do not make sense without her. The thought of losing her causes me to shake uncontrollably. I feel sick at the thought of dying, knowing that I cannot share that with her. Memories do not survive in death. Before me I see our wedding day, the day when our souls become one. It breaks down in my mind like dust.
Finally, our eyes meet. Her veil lifted, I can see every contour of the face I know so well. Her eyes are filled with joy, her lips tremble slightly with nerves. Of course, I am nervous too. We are about to start our life together. We have been waiting for this moment for a year, and I cannot wait to say “I do”. We are meant to be together; I can feel it every time we exchange glances, when we kiss and when she smiles that smile she saves just for me. Her laughter in infectious, and I have a hard time feeling sad around her. She makes me forget my woes, the weight on my shoulders feels lighter. When you realise that you’ve met the person you can’t live without, the person who makes your world complete, you just have to marry them. I know we are young, but with the oppressive climate that surrounds us there is no point in wasting time. We are committed as much to our cause as we are to each other. We will stop at nothing to bring Lord Voldemort down, to defeat him.
Behind me sit only a few of our closest friends. They are all members of the Order of the Phoenix, their goal the same as ours. We are not the only newlyweds; James and Lily Potter sit on the second row from the front, their fingers intertwined. Their happiness has convinced Alice and I that marriage is what we want. Neither of them could possibly know that in a few years time they would both be dead. Sirius Black sits boldly beside them, his hair unruly as ever; he is now condemned to rotting away in Azkaban. We must have known that eventually they will get us too, that one day our lives will fade to nothing, that our memories will become worthless.
I kiss Alice’s cheek gently, hoping that she will respond to my caresses. Her eyes rest momentarily on my face before resuming their random movements. Her mind is spent.
Pain hits me again, and I know that this is the end. My nerves are aflame, my skin feels scarred and tight. Any movement I make sends me into fits of agony. I try to remember Alice as she used to be before tonight, before the torture damaged her. I can’t. All I see is her withered face, her wild eyes and the vacant expression. My eyes search the room frantically, looking for something familiar to remind me of who my wife was. There is nothing but darkness, nothing but the darkness in my mind. Without Alice I do not know who I am. I have no wife, I have no son. I have nothing but the pain that envelopes me.
My body lies limp beneath my numb mind. Is it a part of me anymore? Where does my mind join my body? How can it be that my body suffers but my mind cannot understand it? Beside me lies the woman whose name I feel I should know. It slips through my focus, evading any attempt to grasp it. She is so familiar to me yet I cannot remember anything about her. Fear engulfs me, making me shiver. Terror comes and goes like waves, surging as it captures me again and again.
I don’t even know why I am afraid.