Chapter 95 : Crashing Down
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It was hard to enjoy the simple beauty of Godric’s Hollow when you were forbidden to leave your own home, but they were making the best of it. James did, however, sometimes feel tempted to sneak out, but he couldn’t. He didn’t even have his Invisibility Cloak to protect himself, as he had let Dumbledore borrow it. But the lack of freedom was worth it. Lily and James felt truly safe for the first time in a long time. They didn’t have to worry if they were going to find Death Eaters on their doorstep every day. No, this was good. This may not have been the ideal life, hiding out from the rest of the world, but it was safe and, for the time being, it was the only life they could afford.
Lily had been looking forward to dressing up Harry for Halloween, but it was out of the question. It was unfortunate. The night was calm and peaceful and she could hear the sounds of children running about outside, no doubt going from door to door, getting bagfuls of candy. Unfortunately for those children there was one house that they would not be getting candy from, because they couldn’t see it. They had no idea it even existed. To them, it was just a vacant lot that had yet to be filled. This was solely for the safety of the Potters and children could miss a few rotted teeth because of it.
The Potters were enjoying a quiet evening at home. James was resting in the squashy armchair that reminded him so much of the ones in the Gryffindor common room. He wondered if Dumbledore had purposely put the armchairs there for that reason. He was leaning forward; waving his wand around so clouds of smoke appeared, much to the amusement of Harry, who was sitting on the floor in his blue pyjamas, nearly ready for bed. James grinned as his son laughed merrily and tried to catch the smoke in his tiny hands, only to laugh harder as it disappeared through his fingers.
“James, it’s time for Harry to go to bed.” Lily had just appeared in the room. She had been in the kitchen, cleaning up the dinner dishes while James entertained their son. She couldn’t help but grin at the sight of James playing with their son. They looked so happy and she hated to stop their fun, but Harry had to go to bed.
“Right, then,” James said, scooping up Harry and handing him to his mother. “Night, Harry,” he said as he ruffled Harry’s hair. As Lily left the room, James lightly tossed his wand onto the sofa just feet from him, stretching out his arms above him and yawning. Merlin, he was tired. He thought he’d have all the energy in the world, not having to go to work or fight on missions for the Order, but being in hiding was bloody tiring. Who knew?
Being in hiding was filled with finding ways to pass the time until it was over. Merlin knew James was at his lowest now if he was producing clouds of smoke for his entertainment as well as that of his son’s. Well, at least Harry enjoyed it. That was what mattered. Maybe he would work on a letter to Sirius. James hadn’t seen the man since they moved in and he badly missed his best friend. James didn’t have many of those left in the world, after he’d been stabbed in the back by one of them. He was going to go out of his way to appreciate the best friends he did have - the ones who would do anything to keep his family safe, even if it meant risking their own lives.
And then the front door burst open. James rushed into the hallway, completely forgetting to take his wand with him. His mind was racing madly. Peter hadn’t mentioned anything about maybe stopping by, but if he was coming by, he would knock. Peter knew better than to burst into the house without announcing himself or even giving them a warning that he was coming to visit. He knew it would terrify them. That was when James saw who had come to call and he knew at once that it was all over.
It didn’t take long for his heart to stop beating.
This wasn’t real. It wasn’t. It couldn’t have been. There was no way Lily and James were dead. No, no, no! This wasn’t the plan! They were supposed to live! The whole point of making Peter their Secret Keeper was for it to be a bluff. It wasn’t so Voldemort could be handed a ticket directly to them. Sirius had gone to check on Peter at his place. Peter was supposed to be home, yet when Sirius got there, the place was empty. Sirius couldn’t help the eerie feeling that crept upon him. Something wasn’t right. He didn’t know why, but there was a bad reason for why Peter wasn’t there and Sirius didn’t like what he thought it was.
When he arrived at Godric’s Hollow, he made a beeline straight for where the house was, where it should have been. Instead of a house, he was greeted with a pile of smoldering rubble. Sirius could feel his world crashing down around him. He was almost surprised the rest of the village couldn’t hear it. Their house was destroyed. James… Lily… Sirius wanted to be sick; he felt his heart throbbing horribly in his throat. No… no, this was a mistake. This wasn’t their house! It was another one, it had to be. Peter wouldn’t have, he couldn’t have.
But he did. Peter had betrayed them!
Merlin, Sirius was so stupid! This was his fault. He had said Remus was the traitor. He had said that there was no way Peter was capable of betraying them. Sirius was convinced Peter wouldn’t last for a minute living the life of a Death Eater. Yet Sirius had been proved a fool. He had suggested that they use Peter as their Secret Keeper and it had come back to get him in the end. His best friend… Lily… his godson! They were all gone and he had been the ultimate cause of it. Peter may have given the information to Voldemort, but Sirius had given him the means to do it. He walked on unsteady legs towards the rubble, using his motorcycle as support. He knew he should turn around; spare himself from seeing what he knew would be there. But he couldn’t. He kept walking.
He moved around the rubble, stepping around protruding pieces of wood, and he felt something crunch beneath his feet. Stepping back, he looked down and his stomach flipped inside of him. Black, round-framed glasses. The lenses were cracked where Sirius had stepped on them. James’s glasses. Sirius brought a hand to his mouth, trying to keep the bile inside. His best friend’s glasses. That only meant James, or what was left of him, wasn’t far away. Sirius couldn’t do it. He had to get out of here. He didn’t want to see James. Not like this. Not now… not as a… not as he was.
He glanced up, startled, when he heard movement that wasn’t coming from him. For a quick, fleeting second he expected to see James walking towards him, maybe looking for his glasses. He would be injured and ill, but alive nonetheless. Who are you trying to fool, you idiot? He furiously questioned himself. No one could survive this. That meant Lily was dead as well; it meant… it meant Harry was dead. Harry had barely gotten to live his life and it was already taken from him. Sirius wanted to scream. He wanted to shout that it was unfair. Why did three good people have to die so terribly?
The movement was a large, hulking figure that Sirius recognised even in the darkness. Rubeus Hagrid. Sirius approached the man, still wheeling along his motorcycle. Sirius could see Hagrid was cradling something in his arms. “Hagrid?” Sirius croaked.
Hagrid was startled as well. He looked at the young man with surprise in his eyes. He didn’t think anyone else would be here tonight. The large man looked just as shaken as Sirius was. “Sirius Black?” Hagrid questioned.
Sirius nodded, gulping in the cold night air. “I… W-what are you holding?” Sirius pushed the kickstand on the bike down and approached Hagrid. What he saw nearly made him faint in shock.
There was a tiny bundle in the man’s arms. A tiny, baby-sized bundle. Harry was alive. He was alive. Sirius’s knees were shaking so badly he could have collapsed where he was standing. His godson had survived. How was this possible? How could a baby survive an entire house breaking up when his parents couldn’t? But why was he questioning it? Harry was alive, that was what was important. “Harry,” Sirius breathed in amazement.
“I’m ter take him to his aunt and uncle’s,” Hagrid explained.
Sirius looked up in slight horror. Take Harry to live with the Dursleys? Hadn’t the baby suffered enough? Legally, Sirius was Harry’s guardian! James had specifically asked him to take care of Harry should anything ever happen to him and Lily. Why was Hagrid taking him to Petunia and Vernon? It would be horrible for him there. He wouldn’t be loved, not with them. “No… no, Hagrid let me take him. I’m his godfather; I’ll take care of him.” Harry would have the best life he could with him. If his parents couldn’t be around, Sirius would raise him as though he was his son. It was the least he could do.
Yet Hagrid wouldn’t concede. “No, I have me orders from Dumbledore.”
Sirius’s jaw clenched. It was Dumbledore’s orders. Hagrid would never disobey Dumbledore’s orders, no matter how much Sirius would beg him to reconsider. Though it killed him to do this, Sirius nodded. “Take my motorcycle. I won’t need it anymore.” It would get them there. Besides, Sirius didn’t want it or need it anymore.
Hagrid took the bike and was gone within moments, steadily becoming a shrinking dot in the night sky. Sirius watched until they were no longer visible. That was the final straw. He couldn’t take care of his godson. His best friend was dead. Merlin knew where Remus was or if he would ever speak to him again and Peter had done this all. Peter Pettigrew. He was the cause of this and he was going to pay. If there was one last thing Sirius did in his life, it would be to make that bastard pay for all the pain he caused. James and Lily were dead because of Peter Pettigrew.
Now it was Peter’s turn.
He was in a rage. He was blind with it. Peter was going to die. He was going to suffer. He was going to suffer just as James and Lily had because he was a bloody coward who would save his own neck rather than protecting those he had once called friends. Peter was going to die and it wasn’t going to be quick. He didn’t deserve that. He deserved it to be long and excruciatingly painful. Now was just a matter of finding him. Sirius had roamed around as Padfoot for a long time, sniffing out the man’s disgusting scent. Merlin, how could they have not seen it? The man’s Animagus form was a bloody rat! Were they that blind as teenagers to not have made the connection?
Rats were rats and inevitably betrayed anyone who had ever once meant anything to them. That was precisely what Peter had done.
Sirius had finally caught up with him. Peter had seen him and had begun running. That was right; the coward was running, as was so typical of his kind. He knew Sirius was out for his blood, all of it, and he would not be stopped until he had it all. James and Lily… The images of their destroyed home flashed before Sirius’s eyes. His breath caught in his throat and his eyes began to sting as tears filled them. No, he couldn’t do this, not now. Now was not the time to break down. He had to finish this first. He had to make Peter pay. He had to kill the bloody traitor.
It was ironic. Sirius had tried for his entire life to avoid becoming this person, but what did he have left to lose? His life was shattered. His best friends were gone, what else did he have to lose? He had no family that he would or could go to. There was no one he wished to see and if he was going to risk everything by tracking down and murdering this piece of filth, then so be it. At least there would be a sense of closure, a sense of retribution.
Peter would get what was coming to him.
Peter had led him onto a crowded Muggle street. Sirius could see him just ahead, trying to force his way through the unrelenting crowd. Perfect. This was perfect. The crowd wasn’t letting him through, Sirius had a clear shot. He didn’t care about the stupid Statute of Secrecy; he was using his wand and blasting the scum to tiny pieces. Have someone step on his clothing and see if they kept their lunch inside. Have someone else feel the pain Sirius felt that night in Godric’s Hollow. Sirius didn’t care anymore!
His best friend was dead and the man responsible for it was going to suffer.
“PETER!” Sirius roared, drawing the attention of many people within the crowd. They all stared at him, no doubt wondering who this mad man was.
“Sirius,” Peter squeaked. He hadn’t planned for this. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He wasn’t supposed to be running right now because the Dark Lord was supposed to be around to protect him from his furious friends. Yet he had not foreseen the backfiring of this plan. He had not foreseen the downfall of the Dark Lord at the hands of a not-so-special one year old boy. He didn’t have a plan and Sirius was enraged. There was no telling what Sirius would do in this condition. He would certainly do nothing that would benefit Peter. It was time for some quick thinking.
“PETER PETTIGREW!” Sirius roared again, forcing his way across the street. He was going to kill him. He was going to hurt the mutant and then kill him. All it would take was a simple flick of his wand and the life would disappear from Peter just as it had from James and Lily.
Then Peter shouted the only thing he could think of, “Lily and James! How could you, Sirius?”
No. There was no way Peter was doing this. He was not turning this around on Sirius and making him look as though he was the murderer. Sirius may have done some of the damage, but he did not give Voldemort Lily and James’s location. Sirius’s hand plunged into his pocket where his wand was, but Peter was surprisingly quicker. There was a blinding flash and an explosion, knocking Sirius off his feet.
When the smoke cleared, there was a deafening commotion and there were bodies lying on the ground, but there wasn’t the one Sirius was looking for.
Peter was gone.
Peter had tricked them again. He had gotten the best of them again. Little, talentless Peter Pettigrew had proved them wrong and they had all been stupid enough to let it happen. Their lives were destroyed by a spineless Flobberworm who had duped them one too many times. It was awful and yet it was funny at the same time. It was sick and disgusting but funny. People were lying dead around him, others were hurt and the culprit had gone from sight and yet this was bloody funny.
Sirius couldn’t stop laughing. He didn’t even try. Who knew when the next time he may laugh was? He didn’t stop laughing, not even as the Ministry wizards who arrived on the scene dragged him away.
He only stopped laughing when his cell door in Azkaban was closed and locked.
Remus had no clear idea of how he ended up in St. Mungo’s, but he didn’t very much care. It had just been explained to him that Albus Dumbledore had brought him in and left once he was sure the man was going to be okay. The Healers certainly found it odd that Remus had been brought in by the Headmaster of Hogwarts, but they didn’t question it as they had their work cut out for them. Remus didn’t have the sharpest memory of what happened to him out in the forest. The last thing he remembered for certain was someone landing on top of him. Everything after that was a blank.
He had been out of it for days. He wasn’t entirely unconscious, but he wasn’t aware of anything when he was awake. His eyes may have been open, but he wasn’t seeing or hearing anything. It was only now that he was able to speak and understand what others were saying to him. The Healers didn’t have to ask for his information as he had been there so many times in the past. All they had to do was get Healer Smethwyk and they knew all they had to. The Healers stopped in frequently to give him his pain potions and to make sure his injuries were healing correctly.
Merlin he was in terrible pain. The werewolves must have found him and taken no mercy. All of his ribs were broken or cracked somewhere. His spine was bruised and that kept him from moving below the waist for a while. For a moment, he had been terrified that the damage to his spine would be permanent, but the Healers assured him that it was only temporary. He would be able to walk again in a few weeks, once he finished the course of potion treatments. His jaw was broken and a number of his teeth were chipped. His nose had been broken. There were too many injuries that he barely remembered them all. All he knew for certain was that he hurt everywhere. Badly.
On the morning of November first, Remus found it rather odd to find that the hospital was loud, almost obnoxiously so. The Healers were compulsive about keeping the corridors quiet so as to not disturb any patients, yet even the Healers were partaking in this raucousness. Remus didn’t understand it. Yet he was too tired to bother asking. Instead, he merely wondered, but his mind didn’t get very far before sleep overtook him once again, bringing him back to the worry-free land of his dreams.
It was only the following night that he received his answer. One of the Healers had just finished checking to make sure he was still healing properly when Professor Dumbledore entered the room. The man looked solemn when he took a seat beside Remus’s bed. Remus tiredly greeted the Headmaster.
“Firstly, I am terribly sorry,” Dumbledore said, his eyes taking in the injuries that afflicted his former student.
“Don’t be, Professor,” Remus told him wearily. Dumbledore had no reason to feel guilty. Remus had known the risks when he took the job. He would have been a fool to think he would escape without at least one injury. Maybe he didn’t expect quite so many injuries, but he knew they were inevitable.
“I should have realised you would not go forever without being hurt. I only got you away before they truly damaged you.”
Remus didn’t even bother to ask how Dumbledore could possibly know to pick that moment to come check on him in the woods, but he would forever be grateful. “I’ll be okay soon. The Healers said in a few weeks I’d be better.”
A shadow of a smile appeared on Dumbledore’s face before it disappeared and was replaced by the solemn look he had entered the room wearing. “I am afraid that is not the only reason I have come to visit you.”
Remus didn’t like the way he said that. It was very much the way Moody had sounded when he’d come to tell him his parents were dead. Maybe they hadn’t used the same words, but the tones were similar. But what did he have to worry about on that front? His parents couldn’t die twice.
“James and Lily were under the protection of the Fidelius Charm. I trust you know what that is?” Remus nodded. He had read about it once before. It was a very powerful, very effective spell. He didn’t understand why it was making Dumbledore look like that. Surely if they were protected by it, that was a good thing? “They had selected Sirius Black as their Secret Keeper.” Of course, who else would they have picked? Remus still didn’t understand… “James and Lily were killed on Halloween night.”
Remus felt the room spin violently around him. No, no he had heard incorrectly. Dumbledore didn’t just say that. He did not just say that Lily and James were dead. No… no, it was impossible. His injuries were acting up again, making him hear things. That had to be it because, if it wasn’t, it meant that Dumbledore was telling the truth. “No, you’re lying,” he said, his voice no louder than a whisper.
Dumbledore felt his heart tug at the desperate look on the young man’s face. This was a man who had lost so many things in his life. He had lost his innocence at the age of three. He had lost the freedoms he should have had. He had so recently lost his parents. It killed Dumbledore to be the one to tell him that he had now lost everything. “I would not lie.”
Remus knew this. He only hoped that may be the case this time. “And Harry?” If James and Lily were gone, what chance did the baby have?
“Harry is living with his aunt and uncle. Miraculously he survived.” Remus breathed out slowly in relief; he was unaware he had been holding his breath in the first place. “I must ask you not to see him there. His aunt and uncle would not let you see him.” Remus nodded slowly. He didn’t know if he could even bring himself to see the baby if he’d had permission. “I’m afraid there is more bad news to share.”
Remus felt his stomach turn over again. What else could have happened? What could be worse than finding out two of his friends were dead? What was worse than realising Sirius had betrayed them? Not very many things, he imagined.
“Peter Pettigrew took it upon himself to track down Sirius.” Oh no. Remus knew where this was going. No, no, no. He wanted to clamp his hands over his ears and shut the next part of the news out, but he didn’t. “You know as well as I do that Sirius is the better wizard.” Oh please no. Remus could feel himself beginning to shake. “Peter was killed. All that remained of him was a finger.”
“No…” Remus could feel the bile rising in his throat, could feel the tears sliding down his face. Peter was dead too. Three of his friends in one heavy, merciless blow. He swallowed with great difficulty. The next question was one he almost couldn’t bear to ask. “And Sirius?”
“He is in Azkaban. He will remain there for the rest of his life.”
“He deserves it,” Remus snapped, his voice hitching. Warm tears continued to slide down his face, but he didn’t bother to wipe them away. He didn’t hold his sobs in. It was scary to think Sirius had been the one to teach him how to cry again. It was scary to think the man was in Azkaban now. “He deserves it. He deserves what he got!” The sobs racked his body and Dumbledore could think of no comfort to offer him except to gently squeeze his shoulder.
Dumbledore understood it just as poorly as Remus did. He did not understand how the friendship that had once bound them together had fallen to pieces in such a devastating way.
Upcoming Chapter: Epilogue
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