Chapter 79 : Amelia
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Rebecca Wright held her month-old daughter, sitting on a chair in the nursery. Charles was downstairs, making them both some tea, and they were going to read to Amelia to pass the time. The sun had just set, which they’d watched from their window, their daughter’s blue eyes wide, taking in the crimson colors that the sky seemed to bleed up from the horizon. Becky kissed her daughter’s fingers, adjusting the white dress she had been wearing that day. A faint whistle issued from the kitchen, signaling the tea was ready, then faded as Charles took off the kettle. Soon enough he was coming into the nursery, carrying two steaming cups of tea. Becky reached and took hers, gingerly sipping the piping hot liquid.
"Which story are we reading tonight?" Charles asked.
"Why don’t you pick one?" she murmured, tired.
"Hmm… how about The Warlock’s Hairy Heart?"
Becky wrinkled her nose, "She’s far too young for such a gruesome story, Charles."
"It’s got a good moral to it!" he said. "It’s not as if she can comprehend what we’re saying. They’re just words to her."
"Nonetheless I’d rather my month-old daughter not be told of a cruel prince who is so mad by his own magic he has to kill to get a real heart," Becky whispered.
They sat in silence for a moment, before she said, "How about the Tale of Three Brothers?"
Charles shrugged and nodded, reaching for the old copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard that he had owned since a child, flicking through the pages to find the story. Charles cleared his throat, looking down at the pages in a most scholarly manner.
"There were once three brothers," he said, "who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight…"
Becky tuned out, adjusting Amelia slightly in her arms and gazing wearily out the window. The borrowed invisibility cloak lay folded on the edge of the crib, never far from their reach. Her husband’s voice rose and fell with flexion as he read to the baby, always one for literature. She wiggled her finger, which Amelia had clutched in her whole hand, and gently kissed her soft forehead. Charles licked his finger and turned a page, casting his daughter a smile.
"The youngest brother was the humblest and also the wisest of the brothers, and he did not trust Death. So he asked for something which would enable him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. And Death, most unwillingly, handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility." Charles grinned, "Quite like James’, except much, much better."
"Don’t let James hear you speak such blasphemy," Becky muttered.
He grinned, then stood, handing Becky the book, "I’ll take the teacups back. Finish reading to her?"
Becky nodded, taking the book and reading. Charles took the cups out into the kitchen, charming them clean and putting them neatly back into the cabinets. He rounded into the bathroom, using it before intending to go back to finish the story with the girls. Becky, in the nursery, came to the last page, feeling a bit tired from having been awake all day with Amelia. She faintly heard a knock and paused, then remembered that she had been mailing Lily about getting together to have dinner, after being unable to spend much time with their friends.
"It’s Lily, Charles," she called out to her husband. "She’s probably come to round us up for dinner at their house."
Charles, who had paused in the doorway of the bathroom, nodded and went to open the door. Becky turned back to the book, intending to finish it before leaving.
"But though Death searched for the third brother for many years," she said, "he was never able to find him."
Charles reached the door and unlocked it, peering cautiously through the peep-hole, hand on the knob. He saw the familiar, small figure standing there, her hood drawn up in the evening chill. Pulling the door open, he stepped aside,
Charles hardly managed to lunge aside, his auror reflexes kicking in before he could think. He dove to the side, into the dining room, reaching for his wand as the spell hit the banister in the hall and the wood railing shattered. A shocked cry came from the deep, back room of the house, and there was a muffled scuffle, before absolute silence. Becky, in the nursery, had cast a silencing charm on her daughter so fast she hadn’t realized she’d done it, and grabbed the invisibility cloak, throwing it over the both of them. The attacker stepped into the house, and was swiftly followed by others. Charles lunged into view, wand whirling-
The spell from Charles’ wand blew a hole in the wall, giving him a view of at least five Death Eaters standing in his entryway. He ducked down, running through the doorway that connected the dining room with the kitchen, dodging a few exploding pieces of furniture as he went. He whirled his wand and suddenly all the hanging pots and pans flew through the air, flying to attack the Death Eaters. During the ensuing yells and resounding clangs of hard iron hitting skulls, Charles rolled through the hall, dashed down the adjoining corridor, and into the nursery.
Looking up, heart hammering, he saw a lamp swinging towards him and ducked, but it stopped just in time, and then he realized that his wife was the one swinging it. She dropped it and grabbed him, hugging him tighter than she’d ever hugged him in her life. He clutched her to him, and hardly noticed her casting all sorts of locking spells on the doors and windows.
"Where’s Amelia?!" he demanded.
"Under the cloak, there-" she pointed vaguely towards the chair.
Charles rounded, taking her face in his hands. She was panicked, he could see it.
"Listen. One of us has to try to keep them off-"
"No, listen, we can’t apparate in or out, the owl’s off right now, and the floo doesn’t work. Our only chance is to fight them off here. We have to!"
"I can help you-"
"Stay with Amelia!"
"Stay with Amelia!" Charles demanded.
Becky’s eyes were watering, smarting in a way they normally didn’t, and she couldn’t think of any way to argue with him. She was desperate to be able to help, not to let him out of her sight, but she knew she would drop dead and die before she let anything happen to her child. Shaking with tears, she nodded, hugging him so tight it hurt, kissing him hard.
"I love you-"
He grimaced, shaking his head and kissing her back, hating that she was giving him a farewell. He turned, happy for once that they had meticulously planted secret doors into their house, and pushed the dresser aside. Ducking through, he snuck into the living room, which was empty and allowed him a way to head off the Death Eaters on their way to the back of the house. Becky watched him go, shaking with tears, and turned, brushing the cloak off Amelia’s face. She was crying, silently because of the spell, and had never looked so distressed. Becky sank to the floor in front of the crib, wrapping the both of them in the cloak and listening to the sounds of battle outside. She heard the muffled voices, the yelling, the spells that caused the house to shake and shift. Becky cringed with each one, imagining the worst and hoping against all hope that Charles’ exceptional training would win out.
Without warning there was a great, swirling suction that seemed to almost pull her towards the door, before just as suddenly exploding outwards. The world became a great white mass of noise and heat as something exploded, doors flying off hinges, all locking spells disintegrated and walls shattered. When Becky could blink, again, she saw that the walls were gone and she could see clear into the kitchen, where her husband was struggling, floating in air and restrained by magic. That was gone in a moment, though, because at that moment she realized the cloak had half fallen off her, and at that moment Bellatrix Lestrange had looked into the nursery.
"You little bitch!" shrieked the woman, diving on Becky.
A sharp, blinding pain ripped over her skull as the Death Eater dragged her by her hair out of the room. The robe, pinned under the weight of the fallen crib, slipped off her easily, momentarily giving her a view of her silent, crying daughter lying on the floor, unharmed and then suddenly invisible again. Writhing, kicking, screaming, trying to reach for the wand that had been blown out of her hand, Becky felt nothing but panic, knowing more than ever that she had been right. She felt her body being dragged into the kitchen, heard her husband yelling, struggling, trying to break free.
"This will teach you to put my friends in Azkaban!" Bellatrix spat. "CRUCIO!"
Her body exploded with pain. Nothing, literally nothing could compare to a cruciatus curse that was applied with the purest form of hatred. The pain was so intense that it was like a great hand, crushing her with a million twisting, hot knives.
"BECKY!" Charles was yelling. "BECKYYY!!"
The spell let up for a moment, enough for Bellatrix to lean in and ask, "Where is she?"
"Fuck off!" Becky hissed.
It intensified to an even greater level, so that she couldn’t even scream, couldn’t bring in the air to do so. Charles twisted and turned, cursing and shouting out spells to attempt wandless magic. The circle of gathered death eaters laughed, faces illuminated by a flickering fire from furniture that had ignited in the initial explosion. The world began to dim and spots of blackness spurted into Becky’s vision, before it stopped again-
"I’ll ask you one last time. Where is your daughter?!"
"With the Potters!" Becky gasped. "Where you’ll never find her!"
Bellatrix’ spell was upon her again, crushing her with a hatred so intense that Becky could only lay on the floor, eyes wide, mouth open trying to gasp in any air to her lungs as they were being crushed. She saw her husband, panicked, crazed, crying, watching her, trying to break free from the bindings that Lucius Malfoy held him in.
"BECKY!!! FIGHT IT!!!" he wailed desperately. "YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME! I LOVE YOU!"
The spots of blackness were starting to connect, slowly bleeding together and blocking everything out. Her hot body began to still, not moving as much, unable to function with no lungs, no air. The pain dulled, Charles’ voice resounding in her head-
"I LOVE YOU BECKY!!!! DON’T LEAVE ME!!!" his face was pleading.
Becky strained to watch his face, to make her lips move enough to make the shapes, to mouth it back, "I love you, Charles."
He stared at her, disbelieving, her wide, blue eyes staring back at him in the same way she looked at him every night before bed. Her twitching body, still under the spell, began to still, before not moving at all. Sneering, Bellatrix lifted her wand, and Charles stared, waiting for her to jump to her feet and fight back. There was silence, save for the crackling of his couch on fire, before he began to sob.
"BECKYYYYYY," he wailed, doubled over in mid-air. "NOOOOOOO!!!"
The Death Eaters were laughing, which infuriated him more. Something in him snapped, something primal that he had no control over. Thrashing more wildly than ever, he felt the magic grip on him waver, hearing his own mouth issuing a stream of curses, hexes, and spells so strong that his wand, lying on the floor, began to rattle, shaking and sporadically shooting off the spells he was naming.
"Crucio!! Crucio!! Mortis Vixis!! ABOLEOMENTIS! AVADA KEDAVERA!!"
The dark lord’s minions were scrambling, trying to avoid the jets that were flying everywhere. The wreckage of the house was illuminated by flashes of multicolored light, the tears on Charles’ anguished face streaking down onto the floor. His wand shot off and killed the death eater whose spell held him in it’s grip, and he crashed to the ground. Sobbing, he crawled to his wife’s body, taking her in his arms and holding her, cradling her as if it would bring her back. Lucius Malfoy took the opportunity to stomp on Charles’ wand so hard that it snapped, drawing himself up to his full height. Charles rocked on the floor, sobbing, closing Becky’s eyelids and unwilling to believe she was gone. He was shaking, sobbing, trying to recapture the warmth quickly leaving his wife’s corpse, kissing her forehead. Malfoy swiftly walked over, wand pointed, and took in a deep breath. Charles, feeling it coming, turned and stared up at the man, face clearly showing how heartbroken he was.
The house flashed green, and there was a soft thud, before absolute silence reigned. The three remaining death eaters stood, panting slightly, and surveyed the bodies before them.
"What will the Master say?" one whispered.
Bellatrix, angry, kicked a chair lying near her. "He will be furious we didn’t find her."
"Kill the Potters, kill the girl," Lucius said, putting his wand away. "The Potters have her. Wormtail! Check the nursery."
Pettigrew scurried down the hall, uneasily as the house was nearly falling down. He stood in the hall, just out of sight of Malfoy, contemplating on whether or not he wanted to enter the nursery, as the roof above it was creaking ominously. Glancing into the doorway and seeing nothing but overturned furniture, hearing nothing but creaks and groans of heavy wooden beams, he shuffled his feet around on the floor a bit and moved the door to make it sound as though he had gone in. He knew that eventually the entire house would catch fire anyways, and kill her if she was here. After a moment he scurried back down the hall.
"Nothing. She’s not there."
Bellatrix cursed, before looking back at the Wrights lying on the floor.
"You’re smart regarding your daughter, and nothing else. You god that you bloody deserved."
The three of them swept from the smoldering house, onto the front lawn, before disapparating into the night.
James looked up, hearing a heavy knock on his front door. It was twilight, and no one ought to be standing on their stoop so soon after putting their son to bed. Lily looked up at him from the couch, just as confused, and he stood, crossing to the door to peer through the peep-hole. The tired, worried face of Albus Dumbledore stood there. James wrenched the door open, but Dumbledore stood there, looking clearly as though something had happened.
"Professor?" James asked. Lily, behind him, peered from the living room door.
"James, I…" Dumbledore sighed. "I need your help."
"Of course, professor," James was already reaching for his cloak. "What-?"
"Retrieval. I need you to… to get her. Peter got an alarm from Becky this evening, but by the time he had reached their house…" Dumbledore shook his head, voice catching. Lily gasped, hands springing to her mouth. "Amelia is missing, we need to search the house for her."
A heavy feeling of dread in his stomach, James nodded, straightening his cloak and stepping out the door after the headmaster. They disapparated together to the Wright’s house, which was no longer invisible, unplottable, or untouchable. It was now a destroyed, smoking wreck, the skeleton of the house barely visible.
"You think she’s here?" James whispered.
Dumbledore didn’t respond except to say, "Be swift. We don’t know if they are watching or will return. I’ll check their room, you check the nursery."
The men swept into action. James rounded down the hall, to the room he had seen once before, when Becky was still pregnant. Here, the roof threatened to cave any moment, furniture tossed about like toys. Remembering he had given then his cloak, James searched anywhere that was large enough to allow the baby to lay underneath. As his eyes scanned, tip-toeing through the room, he noticed that the cushion from the crib lay at an odd angle on the floor, as though it were being propped up by something. Pushing it aside, his fingers grazed silky smooth material, which he ripped side. A baby lay there, face contorted into magically silent tears. James gently picked her up, throwing the cloak over them both and trying to comfort her as best he could.
Turning, he rejoined Albus in the hall, to see the old man standing still, staring into the kitchen. Looking in as well, he saw his longtime friends lying there, motionless. He fought the urge to step in to check their pulses, not wanting to think this was really what death looked like. Charles lay back awkwardly, as if he had been sitting when killed, Becky draped over his chest as though he had been holding her.
"They killed her first," James whispered, voice thick.
"They killed her worst," Albus corrected. "Last to die gets it easiest. Avada and done. The torture is always the first bit, the part they came to enjoy."
Chest shaking, James shifted Amelia in his arms, trying to keep the baby from taking in the sight of her dead parents. He turned, pulling the hood firmly over his head to disappear completely, walking out the crooked front door. Albus knelt, touching the heads of his pupils, his friends. He stayed there for a while, long after James had gone, and then stood, working his way through the house to gather everything that he knew Becky would want him to preserve, for Amelia. He took the family picture from the table, Becky’s jewelry box and it’s contents, the music box from next to Amelia’s bed. He took their wands, even Charles’ broken one, and gently took their wedding rings, the proof of their love.
The only thing he couldn’t take was their lives back from the hands of death.
Lily launched to her feet as soon as the door opened. James stepped inside, invisibility cloak halfway upon him, and shut the door. He cradled Lily’s goddaughter in his arms, looking tired and distressed and everything a newborn should not look. Lily quickly took her, shaking and trying to hold in the tears, trying not to think her best friend was dead. Nothing was said for the longest time, not during the crying nor the shushing of the baby nor the washing her clean of smoke and dirt and tears. Eventually the baby girl lay asleep in one of Harry’s old nighties next to Harry in his crib. Tears streaming silently down her face, Lily stared at the two of them, at the only bit of her friend she had left. James rubbed her shoulders, kissing the back of her head.
"She can’t stay here," Lily whispered.
"What? Of course-"
She shook her head, turning to look up at him. "They were killed because they are aurors. There’s no other explanation. They wouldn’t try so hard to find them if they weren’t so important to kill. If they hadn’t done so much to punish those death eaters."
James looked down at baby Amelia, sleeping on her back, her little fist balled up near Harry’s chin. The two of them slept so peacefully there, without any worries on their minds, that it broke his heart to think of all the things wrong with this picture. Amelia shouldn’t be here, not now or ever, she should be with her own parents, who were lying dead on their own kitchen floor.
"She can’t stay here. She can’t be around magic," Lily sniffed. "Magic can get her killed."
"You’re her godmother."
"Becky…" Lily gasped, as if it hurt to say her name, "made me promise to make her safe, no matter what or where. I owe her that. I’m going to make sure that not one witch or wizard other than us knows where she is."
James nodded, rubbing a tear from his eye, "We’ll need help."
"Albus will help," Amelia whispered. "He’s her godfather. He’ll help us make sure she disappears."
Lily, sniffing slightly, held the baby girl to her breast, standing in the entryway of her house. Dumbledore was before her, wearing a traveling cloak and a frown of grief. James was leaning against the wall, looking at the floor. None of them wanted to move, to have time pass, to let this child go beyond the immediate borders of their vision. Lily had hardly been away from her for the past two days that she had been in their house, and was scared to death that something would happen to her when she left.
"I have a niece there," Albus whispered again. "I’ve explained to her the gravity of the situation. She will personally keep an eye on her in the orphanage. It’s all muggles, there, the entire city. She’ll be given a new name. No one but us four will ever know. I have made arrangements with the Daily Prophet to run her whereabouts as missing, likely killed in the fire."
"Just keep her safe," Lily murmured, blinking back tears. "I promised."
Slowly, she lifted the sleeping baby, holding her out and putting her in the old man’s arms. Albus blinked at the child, before nodding up at Lily.
"I know. I promised, too."
Excerpts taken from "The Tale of Three Brothers" as written in "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" written by J.K. Rowling. Quotation from Ch. 4, pg.s 89 and 92.