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Chapter 19 : Chapter 19- Rush Hour
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Two things happened that month that put an end to the string of perfections that had flown our way. The first came in the form of a letter.
“He’s gone.” James whispered, sitting down, placing his head in his hands. No one made a move to touch him, no one was sure of what to do at all. We were standing on the rocky outcrop outside the owlery. The sun was setting for the day, but suddenly the pale pinks and faded blues that painted the sky did not seem as beautiful as they had minutes before. Now they were burn-out love and dried tears, cold, unfeeling sky and nothing more. A strong, cold wind made fools of our hair and chilled us to the bone. We felt the cold, and James felt the pain.
No one made a move. Lily, Remus and I looked at each other awkwardly. Sirius, Jasper and Peter stared at the ground. James knelt on the ground with his face bent upwards, like a broken man offering his soul to God.
I felt bad that I had not thought to ask him about his father before the news arrived. I remembered that months ago, just after Sirius and I had officially started dating- that was the night James had first received the news. His father was seriously ill with dragon pox. But being the Potter he was, Robert had avoided seeing a healer until it was already too late. Now he was dead.
I felt guilty about being here. What was I to do? James and I were friends, but we were not close. I felt like I was intruding, almost making fun of some personal pain of his. I shifted awkwardly once more. Lily was the first to break the silence. No one had spoken in five minutes.
“James?” She asked tentatively, stepping forward, nearer to the ledge and closer to James. “James, please.” She couldn’t think of more to say, but what more was there?
‘I’m sorry for your loss, he was a great man’? No, those words meant nothing. I knew that from experience.
Cautiously, Lily knelt down next to James and took his hand. Gently, Sirius reached out and took my own.
“James, I’m here.” She said. And then she pulled him into her arms and let him cry.
The funeral was to be held on a Wednesday, just a week after he passed. We did not speak much in that week. People cried a lot, I remember that. And there was a lot of frustrated conversations and nerves stretched to breaking point. We fought a lot in that week as well. I spent less and less time with Jasper, and more time alone with Sirius, holding him and being held.
The morning that they left for the Potters’ was a pain as much as it was a relief. It had been tough, the past few days. Robert Potter had been as much a father to Sirius Black as anyone ever could be, and it hurt Sirius to lose him. It made me sad to see him upset, but it killed me even more when I knew I couldn’t fix it.
So it was a relief, if anything to see him, James, Lily, Peter and Remus walking across the grounds and out the gates, dressed in black suits, on their way home. I hoped he would be alright, I hoped he could be strong for me, because I knew I couldn’t bear to see him down any longer.
I stood with Jasper outside the entrance hall and watched them walk away until they were nothing more than specks in the distance. Then together, we sighed and went back to our studies.
Two things happened that month that put an end to the string of perfections that had flown our way. The second was a bottle of memories.
It was breakfast time at Hogwarts. I sat at the Ravenclaw table with Jasper. He had his Potions book flipped open, doing some last minute study before we had a practice exam for our NEWTS. I wondered vaguely if James and his friends would get an extension on the tests, with all that had happened.
The funeral had happened yesterday. I hadn’t heard anything from any one of them, but what could you say in a letter? That the funeral was nice? I didn’t know when they were coming back. All Sirius had said to me when he left was that he’d be back ‘when they were ready’. I wasn’t sure if you could ever be ‘ready’ after a death.
In a flurry of wings and cries the mail arrived. It didn’t shock me like it had on the first morning. Indeed, Jasper’s eyes never once twitched from the page he was reading. However, to my surprise a large snowy owl landed right in front of me. Pulling my cereal out of the way I detached the letter and parcel from it’s leg.
Jasper looked up too, and took the letter from my hands and read it aloud.
Lulah and Jasper,
This is a surprise we have for you. Open it in private. It’s special.
Love, Leon and Audrey.
I shared a confused glance with Jasper and picked up the small parcel and examined it carefully. It was a short cylinder, wrapped in brown paper. Curiously I shook it, but nothing happened.
“Do you want to open it?” Jasper asked, his eyes glittering as he looked at the package. He was excited about this surprise.
“Upstairs?” I asked, and he nodded. Together we quickly gathered our books and began to run up the stairs.
There were some third years studying in the common room so we went to the boys’ dormitory. In the quiet of the room, we opened the paper.
Inside was a small, thin, glass phial. It seemed to be filled with a silvery, insubstantial substance. It was warm in my hand.
“What is it?” I asked Jasper, holding it out to him, letting him take it for a while. Surprise flashed across his face as he too felt its warmth.
“I don’t know.” I watched him frown and gingerly touch the cork that kept it sealed. He looked at me for permission, I nodded and then he pulled the seal.
A heart wrenching scream filled the room. I fell to the floor, clutching my ears and stared in horror at the shape that was rising out of the jar. Two misty, misshapen forms coursed out of the phial, shrieking as they went. I looked across at Jasper who looked at the apparitions with wide, scared eyes.
A hollow, echoing voice permeated from the smoky human shapes that stood in the center of the room.
“Bang, bang, bang goes the hunter’s gun. So, run dragon, run dragon, run, run, run!”
My head was reeling, this could not be happening. It was Rostam. No, surely not. He was dead, wasn’t he? Wasn’t he dead?
The shapes flickered again and Leon and Audrey’s voices drifted from their bodies, disjointed, like a crackling radio.
“He’s here- come- help- save- danger…”
The message trailed off with another wracking scream, and in a flash of light and heat the shapes erupted. All that was left in their wake was a small, smoking scrap of parchment.
Jasper picked it up. I could see him shaking uncontrollably.
“’Guess who came back to finish the job. Don’t worry, Leon and Audrey have put up quite an impressive fight so far- Rostam,’” He read, his voice cracking several times. The paper slipped from his hands and he looked down at me, crouched on the floor. My body shook all over. This wasn’t happening. My brain wouldn’t accept that it was.
Rostam Ayers could not be back. He had killed our parents, but he was gone, he was gone. He couldn’t possibly be at Leon and Audrey’s. I glanced at the paper, lying on the ground. I thought of the tortured screams I had just heard. Leon and Audrey’s cracked voices ran through my mind.
He was back.
“Jasper,” I whispered, but Jasper wasn’t functioning. He had walked to the window where he gazed out onto the day; I could see his body quivering. He kept shaking his head. I could hear him saying the same thing, over and over again.
“Not again…” He murmured. “Not again.”
“Jasper,” I stood up and walked to him. He jumped when I touched his shoulder. I stared into his wide, blue eyes and felt his fear. His pale, pale face was taut with concern.
“Do you think it’s real?” He asked. “Do you think this is really happening again?”
I thought about it. I thought about the message during the holidays. I thought about the long, tense, quiet between now and then. Jasper waited for me to reply, holding his breath, clenching his hands.
“Yes. I do.”
“Then we have to go.” Jasper said, already in action- grabbing his wand from the floor where it must have fallen. “If we can run fast enough across the grounds then we won’t be seen. We can go through the forest, that’s a good cover. Then all we have to do I get to Hogsmeade and apparate to Leon and Audrey. We have to hurry!”
I looked at his determined, terrified face. I was scared, what would he have done to them? Had he realized that they were like us too? I shuddered as the thought of Leon and Audrey, tangled and broken like our parents flooded my mind. I was going to save them.
“Let’s go.” I said, my eyes ablaze, my mind on fire. He nodded his head and then we vanished out the door.
Sirius and James waited outside the Ravenclaw common room. They were still in their neat muggle clothes. They’d just wanted to see Lulah and Jasper, to let them know they were alright. Lily had been the one who’d agreed to go in. Ravenclaw’s liked her the most.
“Where is she?” James complained. “She’s been about five minutes. She’s probably decided to have a party without us.”
Just then, Lily emerged from the portrait hole. Her skin was white, her face ashen and shocked.
"What is it?" Sirius asked, his grin fading fast, his heart pounding. Both boys rushed to her.
“They’re gone.” She whispered and held out the scrap of parchment with Rostam’s note written on it. There was a shuddering silence as they all read it. It couldn’t be true. The three friends looked at each other.
“We’ve got to save them.”
A/N: HOLY POO. It’s literally been months since I’ve updated, and I am so sorry! I’ll be surprised if anyone still remembers this story! Well… it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve written ANYTHING. It seems to me that my writing style has changed. To be honest, I don’t know what to think about this chapter. It was really tricky coming back to this story after so long. Please review!
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