A/N: I've noticed that some people have pointed out certain similarities between TV shows, movies, even real life events. I'd like to state that any similarities you may notice to any sort of reference are unintentional. There are bound to be influences, but again, these are not intentional.
“Are you insane?!”
“No way, that's entirely too risky!”
“You must be bloody mad if you think we'd do something like that for you.”
Evie was expecting this. Looking at each member of the group list their numerous reasons as to why such a meaningful event for her was utterly out of the question for them made Evie's heart sink, no matter how hard she tried not to let it affect her. As everyone continued to argue amongst themselves what was the most important reason why she couldn't even begin to contemplate the idea of attending the funeral, Xavier walked in and the room instantly fell silent.
“I heard yelling. What's the problem?” he questioned politely, glancing at Noah. He had a small but perplexed smile on his face. Evie was impressed at how easily he could command such authority, but she had a feeling that he was well practised. She quietly thought that the fact he was so tall definitely helped.
“Evie's just told us all that she wants to go to her guardians' funeral. The logistics of it are nonsensical, and it seems to me and probably the rest of the group like a suicide mission!” Noah pointed out with a voice steadily increasing in tone. He looked angrily over at Evie, who shrunk back at such a vicious gaze. She found her voice once more.
“With all due respect, I don't think that going'll be such a huge risk to us all.”
“That's easy enough for you to say, you've been here a grand total of one day!” Issy piped up. Her face was smug in the fact that she knew Noah was on her side. Evie couldn't take it.
“Shut it, Issy. You have no idea what I've been through in the past few days. It's been like hell, being caught by those weirdos and then being told you're an outcast in society, on top of losing the only parents you've ever known because your mother abandoned you. Yeah, you have no idea. I'm going to the funeral, even if it's just me on my own.” she finished and looked round the room. Looks of defiance met her eyes, but also ones of respect. Xavier sighed heavily, seemingly deep in thought for a few moments. He regarded Evie with a certain sort of disdain.
“We're going to escort Evie to the funeral. That's my final word!” Xavier called over the fuss that instantly kicked up. With a final swish of his long coat, he was gone, and no more could be done about the decision. Noah followed in Xavier's wake like a lost puppy, whilst Eden came over to offer a comforting arm around Evie.
“It'll be potentially risky, Evie, but I'm sure everything will be fine, darling.” Eden said with a smile. Issy watched the touching sentiment and stalked off to complain to one of the boys, to which Eden rolled her eyes. “Well, if anyone is killed, let's hope it's her.”
Evie laughed. She was feeling better already, despite the situation. All she could do was wait for the rest of the team to come around.
All but two of the team warmed to the idea.
“We best take as many precautions as possible. That means … hmm … Noah, you can take the firearms, two pistols and the grenade,” Adam said, deep in concentration. He broke into peals of laughter when he noticed Evie horrified expression at the mention of the weapons.
“What the bloody hell are you gonna need a grenade for, Noah?!” she exclaimed, turning to the culprit. He smiled sheepishly.
“I don't know … I just like having them.”
“Issy, you get two pistols as well, I know how you hate being weighed down.” Evie suspected that there may have been a double meaning to that when Issy poked Adam in the stomach hard. “Robbie, you get your darling ...”
Robbie stepped up to the arms table and grabbed a huge gun that looked extremely terrifying. Evie wondered how he would camouflage that in sleepy Kent; he winked roguishly at her in return.
“Why thank you, darlin'.” Adam muttered something about not being gay, just camp to himself vehemently at the retreating form of Robbie. Evie caught Noah's eye and they both broke into giggles, rather uncharacteristically for him. Issy eyed him curiously, before following in Robbie's footsteps.
“Eden, you've got yours already … I should have mine, yeah. Xavier sleeps with his. I'm joking, Evie! You need your stuff anyway,” Adam handed her a smallish-looking firearm and a revolver. “For a vintage touch!”
“Oh, no thanks. I'm not planning on shooting anyone.” Evie replied, laughing nervously and looking up at the slightly incredulous faces. She placed her hands behind a back in a gesture of not accepting the weapons, and sucked on her lips. Adam leant over the table to talk to Evie in a hushed whisper.
“Between you and me honey, I didn't think that I'd need a gun or anythin' like that on my first … outing. Thought I was a bloody fool after. The revolver right in front of you saved my life when I had to shoot someone in the foot. It distracted them for long enough to escape. Now, you're gonna be a good girl and take the pretty guns.”
Evie ignored the comment at the end. “Adam … have you ever … killed anyone?”
Adam shrugged. “It's neither here nor there. I don't want to potentially freak you out right before your very first mission as such! Robbie'll brag all you want about it, though. Ask him when we get back. If we get back.”
Evie quietly collected her weaponry and assembled in the main warehouse room. Noah turned round at her arrival, but made no sign of friendliness. Eden and Robbie were paying rapt attention to what Xavier was saying about strategies – he had talked over the area with her the night before, going over minute details which Evie never could have thought of in a million years; she strongly felt as if she were being interrogated for a terrible crime. At the time, Noah had pulled funny faces to try and distract Evie until Xavier shooed him away, cracking a rare smile, and had mimed that he felt for her as she was slowly questioned to the point where she felt exhausted – and suddenly, he showed no sign of even recognising her. She would never understand that man.
She shook herself back to reality and focused on what Xavier was projecting to the small group.
“... Evie's told us that the location of the funeral takes place a cemetery close to the centre of Sevenoaks, at 2pm – that's fifteen minutes from now. Everyone has now been briefed about their positions and worst case scenario. There's a chance that we're attacked – I think that this may be greater since Evie contacted the local crematorium. However, you all know what to do.”
“Err, I don't.” Evie stated quickly, feeling herself tense up at the thought of physical combat. She was fit enough, sure, but the thought of harming another human being had crossed her mind more than once since she had entered the arms room that morning. Xavier looked up at her interruption.
“Stay with Noah then.”
Out of the corner of her eye, Evie saw Noah groan silently at the prospect. She was enraged. How dare he react like that when they had seemed to be getting on pretty well, after a rocky start? She glared at him and silently thought that she would make herself as useful as possible. The fact that it was her guardians' funeral had barely entered her mind.
“Now, everyone needs to be on the top of their game for this. As well as being Evie's first official 'mission' with us, there's also a greater risk of Ministry activity. So, a warning to all of you: be vigilant. Let's move on out!”
Evie quickly walked over to Eden so that she wasn't paired up to apparate with Noah; she could barely look him in the eye at the moment, let alone share a device with him. Eden smiled at her encouragingly.
“Are you alright?” she asked, securing the Apparator.
“What? Oh .. yeah, I'm alright, considering the circumstances.”
“I just thought you'd be a little more … upset, is all. Having your guardians pass away so close to one another is bound to be pretty traumatising. I guess my intuition deceived me. Though, you're probably holding it all inside -”
Evie pressed the button that would instantly take them to Sevenoaks, cutting off the stream of annoying chatter. When they arrived, tumbling on the grass slightly, she giggled at Eden's shocked face.
“That was so weird, talking whilst Apparating! Did you hit the button by accident?”
“Uh .. yeah.”
Eden seemed happy enough with this answer and started too unhook them both from the equipment. Evie smirked to herself, only feeling a little guilty, and looked round. The others had since joined the duo and were dusting themselves off, faces set in a tense and rigid mask. The wind whistled quietly through the trees, and a dappled sunlight cast the group in a bright glow. They had arrived at the forest nearby. Evie could see the oak trees which the town were named after, and her heart gave a small pang as she began to realise the significance of the place. She was home.
Evie spun round to ask Xavier a question. “Xavier … would it be possible for me to visit my old home? It isn't too far from here, just a few streets away.”
“That is out of the question. You're already pushing our generosity by having the entire group come out here today, at an extremely high risk. Visiting your old house would jeopardize the entire day.” Xavier stared at Evie, as if he were looking right through her very being, and suddenly turned away, stalking off in the direction of the cemetery. Noah strolled up to her, catching Evie unaware.
“For future reference, never ask him to change plans on the day.”
“I realise that now, you unhelpful sod.”
Noah merely snickered at her anger and walked in the same direction as the others, crashing through the undergrowth and leaping over a fallen tree. “Coming?”
Evie had no choice but to oblige. She didn't want to annoy Xavier any more, and she was beginning to feel extremely nervous about this entire charade. None of them wanted to be here. She herself was surprised that this was even agreed to, and was prepared to mourn back at the base. Why had they all come?
Contemplating these niggling thoughts, Evie found herself leave the mossy haven and entered onto the main road which snaked round the corner. A car hurtled past, frightening Evie out of her reverie and beeped noisily at her stupidity. She blushed beetroot. Noah smirked once more.
I swear to God, I am going to wipe that effing smirk right off his face one day. Evie surprised herself at such a mental outburst. The group, still much further ahead, looked back to see where the guest of honour was situated. Evie was almost certain she saw Eden smile to herself at the two trailing behind, but she couldn't be sure. Not a bloody chance, Eden, not one bloody chance.
All too soon, they arrived at the crematorium. Evie had almost forgotten why they were here.
Robbie nodded at Noah, and Evie was quickly hustled into the building, arriving at the entrance of the cemetery. She saw people she recognised, friends and acquaintances alike, gathered around two coffins which were elaborately adorned with various wreathes of flowers. A vicar started to lead the procession to the Hart's allotted resting places in the cemetery.
Silently following behind the procession, seeing the two coffins so close made Evie want to break down in tears. She wanted to say that she was alright, that she knew the truth, but the dead weren't the right people to tell.
They were mere shells left of human beings.
It seemed that the funeral passed with a blur. The cemetery itself was a vast, open space that boasted only a few graves. Some were elaborate works of architecture, others simple headstones, which Robbie and Adam were observing. Eden and Xavier were a little while away, watching for any sort of disturbances, whilst Issy and Noah of all people had stayed with Evie. Even Issy was looking a little sad instead of aggravated, avoiding looking at Evie, who was kneeling on the floor. Friends of the Harts had offered their condolences to her and left hurriedly ages ago, but she didn't notice the time. Time seemed suddenly irrelevant. The cool breeze, the sweet smelling grass dotted with grey slabs of stone, the boring eyes of Noah … nothing mattered now, as Evie stared at the two mounds of earth in front of her. She barely noticed the vicar taking a long time to pack away his possessions. The chirping of two doves fell on deaf ears. Her numb legs didn't matter.
The pain she felt in her heart was far worse.
Evie thought vaguely that it was amazing she wasn't crying. She willed herself to, tried to force a solitary tear, but none came. Her body felt racked with guilt at such a predicament. Cry! Evie screamed in her head, a vicious mantra. Cry, if you loved them! Gary and Eleanor Hart, the most loving parents anyone could ever have, were dead and gone and Evie was alone in the world.
She barely comprehended the swarm of Aurors arrive, and the vicar pull out a wand from within the folds of his robes.