The excited babble filled the living room of a small flat. Laughter rung out from various conversations as friends chatted animatedly, and smiles were visible everywhere. Tonight was a night for celebration. The loud tinging of a fork on glass slowly brought silence to the room, and they all turned to the balding man who was calling the attention of the party-goers. He smiled kindly before he began to speak. “I propose a toast!” he cried out happily. “To Ron, Harry, and Hermione! Congratulations!” He shoved his glass up in the air and the crowd cheered and followed suit. The three 20-year-olds grinned as the conversations began buzzing again. “I can’t believe we finally finished. Oh, I was so worried we wouldn’t get in!” Hermione exclaimed, and Harry and Ron simply rolled their eyes. “’Mione, you passed every test with about a perfect score,” the dark-haired wizard next to her said. She shot him a look and he hurriedly tried to change the discussion. “But think of it! Voldemort is gone, and we’ve got so much to look forward to. Aurors...it’s incredible isn’t it?” The three smiled at the thought. “Bloody unbelievable, it is,” Ron agreed. “And the Golden Trio is still together,” Hermione added in with a smile. The trio grinned and began walking through the crowds to an ambush of congratulations.
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7 Months Later
I stared at the picture of the family in front of me. I never knew them, and yet an overwhelming grief threatened to consume me. How was it possible? How could they all have just…disappeared? The little girl was sitting on the grass, blinking out of the frame. She pointed at whoever had taken the picture and turned to her mom with a confused look. The parents only laughed, though the sound was lost in the picture. They were just your average family. But a week ago, they had gone out for a picnic and never came back.
With a deep breath I closed my eyes and put my head in my hands. Things were supposed to be good now. Voldemort was gone. What was happening? This wasn’t the first disappearance to have happened over the last 2 months. A couple people gone here, and then a few more there. I opened my eyes and put my left elbow on the table, next to the picture. With a sigh, my head drooped to the left and my cheek rested on my open palm. Without taking my eyes off the picture of the smiling family, I reached for my mobile and dialed a very familiar number. It rang only once before he picked up.
“Hey, Harry. It’s Hermione.”
“Oh, hey, Hermione! What do you need?” I sighed at his happy voice. He wasn’t stuck with the case I was on. He was only looking for remaining Death Eaters, though there really weren’t any around anymore. Not now, almost four years after Voldemort’s final death. He didn’t have to look at these pictures day after day.
“There’s been another disappearance. I was wondering if it might be another old Death Eater. Do you know if there have been any sightings recently?” I asked tiredly. I pretty much knew the answer anyways.
Silence from the other end. A very slight rustling noise as he shifted uncomfortably.
“Oh. Another one, huh? Gosh, Hermione, I’m so sorry but no, there haven’t been any sightings.” His voice was regretful. I took a deep breath.
“That’s okay, Harry. Don’t be sorry that the Death Eaters are practically extinct. That’s…a good thing. Thanks for your time.” My voice sounded strange, almost monotone. It’s like this conversation had happened so many times, the lines were memorized.
“Yeah,” I heard him mumble. Then he sighed. “Talk to you later, ‘Mione.”
“Mmm,” was all I replied with. A click came from the other end, so I hung up as well and set the phone down. Normally, I would feel guilty for how I was acting recently. But there was no room for guilt in my body. It was too filled up with frustration and sadness. I didn’t hold the frustration for anybody else. It was all for myself.
When Voldemort was still at large, at least there was a reason for disappearances. And it was always known who it was, what with the Dark Mark always hanging above a house. But now was different. There wasn’t any reason at all for what was happening. People simply disappeared without a trace, and nobody ever turned up after that.
I let out a shaky breath and squeezed my eyes shut, struggling to keep the tears back. What was wrong with me? I was the smart one. I was always able to figure out mysteries. Now when it was really needed, why was I falling apart?
Sure, it was great that the number of Voldemort’s followers was dwindling, on the verge of being crushed out completely. I meant it when I said it was a good thing. But there was a con. If there were no sightings of the old regime of evil, then what new kind of evil was this? Who was taking these people away? What was taking these people away?
I struggled to hold back a yawn, but failed. I glanced at the clock and shock registered as I took in the late hour. It was midnight. For the first time that night I felt guilty at calling Harry so late. He must’ve been out partying or something. I briefly wondered how anybody could be doing any such thing at a horrible time like this. Maybe it was just me that was so worried about these missing cases. I rose out of my seat and stretched, popping some of my joints. I had been sitting at my desk for a long time. I glanced around my tiny cubicle in the Auror’s office. Pictures of missing persons were everywhere on my walls. They looked eerie, being only dimly illuminated by the lamp on my desk. The lamp was shining brightly on my newly acquired folder of the missing family, open to the picture. More papers were stacked neatly in piles, next to my computer, which was turned off.
Sighing, I pulled out my wand and lit it before reaching over and flicking off the lamp. The only light came from my wand, as all the other Aurors had left hours ago. I made my way to the golden lifts. My shoes made light clapping noises that echoed strangely in the empty ministry. Shadows jumped at me from every corner in frightening images, but the Gryffindor in me wasn’t afraid. I was too deep in my thinking to really notice anything.
As the lift clanged to a halt, the cool female voice sounded much too loud in the empty Atrium. As I made my way to one of the large fireplaces, my chest tightened uncomfortably and I realized I was holding my breath. Taking shallow little breaths, I stepped into the ashy hearth, and whispered my address clearly into the empty room, uncomfortable at disturbing the quiet. As I began to spin, a distinct shadow caught my eye but as I was whipped around, it seemed more like just another dark outline in the gloom.
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Okay, so after making the Others for the Collaboration piece, a few of the reviews were curious about what would happen, and wanted to know more. So I decided what they hey, why not? So here's the first true chapter of The Others. Yes, it's very short but I thought I should at least get this out to let everybody know what is going on with it. For those of you who HAVE seen the chapter submitted for the collab, know this: there are going to be changes to the plot. At this time, I'm still planning out the entire story line so it might take time for the next chapter to get out. But there will be a lot more to the plot now, instead of just evil beings attacking people in a forest. =] Anyways, if you've managed to read this entire A/N, I commend you. It was rather boring and long. =] So now everybody is on the same page (hopefully) and toodly doo! =]