Chapter 7 : Rooks and Knights
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“Remus you may head home now,” Albus said kindly. “However, Dorcas I must ask that you stay for a moment.” Remus hesitated for a moment, before Albus jerked his head lightly towards the door, prompting him to leave quickly, leaving Dorcas and Albus to discuss a rather confusing matter.
“Dorcas, something occurred earlier today in Morocco,” Albus began solemnly, before Dorcas stood up quickly, her face paling significantly. Any air left in her lungs had long since left. There was no oxygen in the air to take in, it felt so thick.
Already, she could feel herself drowning.
They would kill me if they knew…
I’m taking you with me.
You’re a good person Gus.
You don’t belong here.
You’re far better than this.
“Where is he?” Dorcas asked in a panic, her pulse racing with fear. “Albus tell me he’s okay, please.” Albus took a step towards her calmly.
“Take my hand Dorcas,” he said, his hand outstretched. Dorcas didn’t appreciate his avoidance of her question, but took Albus’ hand all the same, instantly feeling herself being jerked away from headquarters. They arrived quite suddenly in a dimly lit corridor.
Dorcas looked around quickly, recognizing it as the second floor of the Leaky Cauldron almost instantly. The door they stood before was the entrance to room number 100. Dorcas looked to Albus questioningly, as he reached forward and tapped the door knob four times with his wand. The lock clicked, letting the door swing open. Dorcas felt a breath catch in her throat.
Before her, a very battered looking Augustus Rookwood sat at the edge of the room’s bed, that same half-smile he always had etched across his face. His right cheek was thickly swollen and bruised, split open from what looked like a rather painful hit. Scratches from what looked like finger nails tore down both of his forearms. He was battered, but he was alive. Dorcas entered the room quickly and practically dove into his outstretched arms, embracing him tightly.
“What happened?” she whispered, afraid to let go of him in fear that perhaps he was only her imagination. But he hugged her tightly and pulled away from her so he could get a good look at her. Augustus gazed at her with the utmost fascination for a few moments before speaking. It had been only a few weeks, but that had been more than enough time for him to miss her horribly. He swallowed thickly, before speaking.
“Travers and Rosier came for Bones,” Augustus explained, as he still held Dorcas tightly. “I managed to get Calvin and his wife out just before they broke down the door. They were definitely surprised to find me, without the Dark Mark. So they called in the Lestranges, got in a few punches, and then I apparated back to Hogwarts, found Professor McGonagall who brought me to Dumbledore who brought me here to wait for you. In a nutshell, that’s what happened.” He winced slightly as he smiled at the still shocked Dorcas.
“You’re looking a lot better Dor,” Augustus continued, his tone softer. Dorcas smiled sadly, still amazed that he was actually there standing before him.
“Yes well you’ve looked better,” she said lightly, prompting Augustus to roll his eyes.
“Had I known you would be back so soon I would’ve cleaned myself up,” Augustus retorted. “Albus made it sound like you wouldn’t be back for well over a week.” At the sound of Albus’ name, Dorcas turned suddenly to him, her smile replaced with a sad grimace.
“You’re sending him away again aren’t you?” Dorcas accused, her eyes glazing over. “Why else would you have brought me here to see him? To say goodbye again?” Albus opened his mouth to speak, but Dorcas became frantic.
“Please Albus, they found him in Morocco. What does it matter where he is? Why can’t he stay here in London, with me? My flat has more security than the bleeding ministry at this point. Please, you can’t send him away again.” She didn’t know what Albus’ plans had been for Augustus, and she didn’t really care. She bore into his bright blue eyes with her own golden ones, pleading with him. Fighting a silent battle for Augustus to stay. Albus finally sighed deeply.
“I have to say Dorcas, I do agree with you,” Albus said, prompting surprised looks on both Dorcas and Augustus’ faces. “Apparate directly into your flat from here. As soon as that sun is up, I want you to take Mister Rookwood to Lily for a patch up at James’ flat, but be patient with her, as she is only just out of St. Mungo’s and we don’t want anyone upsetting her, or James for that matter.” Dorcas nodded quickly, a smile growing on her face.
“Thank you sir,” was all she could manage before turning back to Augustus. He seemed in awe of her.
“You’re quite amazing, you know that?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief. Dorcas shrugged and pulled him up gently, avoiding the bruises and scrapes covering his arms.
“Hold on tight,” she whispered, gripping his hands tightly and disapparating away from the Leaky Cauldron, to her own flat, located a few floors above her fellow Order members Lily, James, Sirius, and Remus. They reappeared in Dorcas’ dark living room. She let go of Augustus’ hands gently and moved to the wall, groping for the light switch.
“Aha,” she exclaimed, flicking the lights on to reveal her tidy, simple living room and a bruised and battered Augustus standing in the middle of it. Dorcas smiled shaking her head. “Come here you, I’ll clean you up a bit so you can get some rest.” Dorcas pulled him lightly into the kitchen and sat him on a stool by the breakfast bar, pulling off her coat in the process. She flicked her wand, summoning a kit filled with bandages into her hands. Augustus watched her in slight amusement as she conjured a basin of warm water and began to cleanse his wounds one by one.
Dorcas had nearly finished his forearms when she noticed a red stain that had slowly formed on the side of his shirt. She gave Augustus a particularly suspicious look, very similar to one a mother would give her son when catching him in the act of stealing cookies from the cookie jar. Without a word, Dorcas lifted his shirt, to find a bruising gash on his left side. Augustus hissed slightly in pain as his shirt brushed against it.
“That looks quite bad doesn’t it?” Augustus said with a painful chuckle. Dorcas rolled her eyes as he tugged the shirt over his head. She grabbed for a wet cloth and a handful of bandages.
“Of course it hurts you dolt,” Dorcas retorted. “Because you let it sit there and bleed for hours I’m guessing? How long were you planning on letting that sit?” Augustus didn’t answer as he only hissed again in pain. “Oh quit whining, I’m almost done.”
Dorcas bit back a smile at Augustus’ nonsense. She had to hide her immense fascination with the various tattoos scattered across his torso and back: pictures, ancient runes and the like. She wrapped a thick roll of bandage around his abdomen multiple times, until the gash was snugly covered. She noticed how aware she was of the proximity between the two of them. She could feel his every breath lightly brush her cheek. She could hear his heart beating in his chest, they were so silent. She swallowed thickly and started to take a step back.
“All done,” Dorcas whispered, a chill running up her back as Augustus suddenly reached his hands forward and gripped either side of her face softly. He leaned down hesitantly, afraid of being too forward with her. Afraid of scaring her away. Dorcas nodded without a thought, closing the gap between them and lightly brushing her own lips against his, standing on her toes in order to do so. Augustus couldn’t help but chuckle at this, smiling against her lips, which only prompted Dorcas to push him away playfully. Augustus only shook his head, still chuckling, and pulled her back to him, kissing her harder.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he murmured against her lips, his hands wrapped lightly around her cheeks and her jaw. Dorcas shook her head with a smile, lifting her hands from his chest and wrapping them around the back of his neck, pulling herself closer to him.
“Nowhere,” she whispered as he lifted her small frame so that her legs were wrapped around his waist, and walked down the corridor, snapping the bedroom door at the end of the corridor closed behind them.
Sometime later in the night, Augustus laid awake, watching Dorcas’ every deep and even breath. He watched the woman he had fallen for when they had both been prisoners. The woman that had saved him. Even in her state at the manor, Augustus had thought she was beautiful. Her spirit was beautiful. Seeing her now, so full of life, made him never want to look away.
“You’re staring,” Dorcas mumbled sleepily, opening one bleary golden eye. He couldn’t help it. Everything about her enticed him. The line of her jaw, the tiniest of scars scattered all over her, everything about her. And those golden eyes. They were hypnotizing to him. He was hers without question. He owed her his life, and he only wanted to spend it with her. He loved her.
“You’re easy to look at,” Augustus replied simply, pulling her closer to him. Dorcas leant against his chest sleepily, her chin resting in one hand while the other traced the ink-stained skin of his shoulder.
“What does it mean?” she asked in a whisper, so quiet, even in the silence of the night.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage,” he said just as quietly, staring at her hooded eyes as they scanned the black markings beneath her finger tips. She tilted her head to let it rest heavily on his chest in exhaustion.
“That’s beautiful,” she whispered again. “So tell me Mister Rookwood, how courageous are you exactly?” Augustus chuckled lightly and pulled her forward to kiss her one last time, as he felt his drowsiness slowly taking over.
“Extremely so,” he said airily, pulling her closer and drifting slowly into sleep. Neither knew what their fates were, and at the moment, neither truly cared, as long as they were together.
“Remus sit down, eat something, and tell me about your mission!” Lily pushed him down into his chair roughly and took her seat across the table, gripping her steaming cup of tea tightly. Remus pulled a few pieces of toast off the plate nearest him and chuckled.
“All this food for just me?” Remus asked eyeing the multiple plates of assorted breakfast foods. Lily sighed with a slight eye roll.
“James and Sirius left just before you got here,” Lily explained quickly. “Order business. Shocking I know. It’s just irritating. Albus is going to bench me for missions for the next few weeks because of what happened. I’m officially on desk duty.” Remus nodded understandingly. Lily was a bit of a spitfire, just like Dorcas. She couldn’t stand sitting around doing nothing.
“He’ll come around shortly, I’m sure,” Remus said comfortingly. Lily sighed deeply into her cup of tea.
“Enough about me,” Lily said quickly, doing a bit of a 180. “Tell me about your trip. Have you managed to patch things up with Dorcas?” Remus shrugged slightly.
“We were basically running around France for three days,” Remus explained. “We laid low for the first two days, just tried to stay out of sight you know? Then we nearly caught up with Edwin and the Jones sisters in the countryside, but they panicked when they saw us and disapparated. Just by chance we thought to check a few of the pubs in Paris. There was some sort of festival going on, so the streets were packed, ideal place to hide really. Turns out Bellatrix Black had been hot on our trail for most of our time in Paris. We barely got the three of them out of there in time.” Lily smiled lightly.
“Sounds like you did well Remus,” she said reassuringly. Remus shook his head and continued.
“I just can’t get through to her Lily,” Remus said quickly, his voice filled with desperation. “I saw everything that’s happened to her and I understand it, but she just won’t let me in.” Lily bit her lip but didn’t interrupt Remus. “She’s not the person she was before. She’s not Dorcas.” Lily leaned forward and grasped his hands tightly, a look of internal conflict on her face.
“Remus, she will never be who she once was. She can’t go back to that,” Lily said tentatively. “When we’ve experienced such tragic things, such traumatic things, we have to adapt to survive. It’s self-preservation. She will never be the girl we knew before. You have to learn to accept that.” Remus opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a knock at the door. Lily frowned and glanced at the wall clock.
“Who could be visiting at this hour?” Lily wondered aloud as she left the table and walked towards the door. “Everyone should be working.” She winced slightly at this and looked back to Remus. “Sorry. Didn’t mean that.” Remus waved it off.
“Don’t be silly Lily,” he said shaking his head. “Not your fault no one will hire a werewolf.” Lily smiled sadly and turned back to the door, looking through the small peep hole. She frowned and swung the door open.
“Augustus Rookwood?” Lily asked in confusion, as Dorcas half-carried him through the doorway quickly.
“He wasn’t well off last night but I didn’t want to wake you so I just patched him up,” Dorcas breathed out heavily. “This morning I could hardly wake him. I think there may have been some internal damage. Gus sit still for a moment.” Rookwood was doubled over, groaning in pain. Lily reached down beneath her pant leg and whipped her wand out of her holster.
“Augustus just calm down for a moment,” Lily said, her voice a bit shaky. She had never had such serious injuries to repair. She lifted his shirt to reveal a large swelling bruise on his lower back. “It looks like it’s your kidney that’s damaged. Let me just grab this potion for you.” Lily sprinted down the hall to her room, leaving Remus alone with the two visitors. Dorcas seemed to finally notice his presence.
“Good morning Remus,” she said cheerfully. Very unlike Dorcas, Remus noted. Pain streaked through her eyes as Rookwood’s grip on her hand tightened with his own pain. She turned back to him.
“It’s alright Gus, just relax,” Dorcas said soothingly. “Lily will get you sorted out.” Lily reentered the room quickly at these words, holding a small vile of a mossy green colored potion.
“This should do the trick,” she breathed out. “Open wide.” With the Dorcas’ help, Lily managed to pull open Rookwood’s mouth and dump the potion down his throat. Rookwood shook his head violently at the terrible taste, but finally grimaced and sat up.
“Thanks Lily,” he said gratefully, resting his forehead heavily on Dorcas’ shoulder. “That’s much better.” Dorcas chuckled as Lily quickly examined and healed Rookwood’s other wounds, before giving Lily a quizzical look.
“So Lily, what exactly are you doing staying at James’ flat?” Dorcas asked suggestively, exchanging a glance with Rookwood.
“Yeah, didn’t you two have a nasty rivalry in school? Hated each other and all that?” Rookwood added. At this very statement, James himself waltzed through the door followed by Sirius.
“How could I possibly hate such a ravishing woman?” James said in a sing-song voice, earning a dramatic eye roll from Lily. The two arrivals joined Remus at the kitchen table and gave Rookwood an odd look.
“Rookwood right?” James asked, thrusting out a hand to shake his. He winced slightly at Rookwood’s swollen and bruised knuckles. “What happened to you mate?” Rookwood shrugged.
“Death Eaters,” he said simply. “Karma I suppose.” This earned him a frown from Dorcas.
“They’re dreadful,” Dorcas scowled. “Don’t you dare start thinking like that. You made the right decision.” James looked between the two of them in confusion. Lily froze, coming to a sudden realization.
“You were a Death Eater weren’t you?” Lily asked, her voice shaking. She pulled her hands away from him, in a mixture of fear and slight disgust. James stood suddenly, whipping out his wand and sending a spell towards Rookwood. Dorcas reacted just as quickly, ripping her own wand out of her pocket and slashing a Protego spell through the air, sending James flying a few feet backward.
“Back off James,” Dorcas seethed with a glare. “I’m the wrong person to mess with. Atleast hear him out before you start shooting off curses. Merlin.” James stumbled back up and sighed, shooting a concerned look Lily’s way.
“Fine,” he said finally. “Get explaining then.” Rookwood went on to hesitantly explain his journey over the past five years. His job at the ministry. Voldemort seeking him out. Threatening his family. The day he was given his mark. The day he began spying in the Department of Mysteries. The day he met Dorcas. The day he escaped. By the time he had finished, he had the entire room in his hands. Even Lily had softened at his story.
“I’m so sorry Augustus,” Lily whispered. “That’s horrible.” Rookwood half-shrugged sadly.
“I should be the one apologizing,” he said heavily. “For the pain they’ve put you through. I could have done so much to stop so many things.” Sirius shook his head.
“Once Voldemort wants something done, there’s nothing you can do to stop it,” he said darkly, as though he knew something that affected him deeply. James nodded in agreement. Lily waved the two of them off in dismissal and handed Rookwood a vial of jet-black potion.
“Take this as soon as you get back upstairs. It should knock you out for five or six hours,” Lily explained. “You’ll be good as new when you come to. And then you two can come over for the dinner party I’m throwing tonight.” Dorcas nodded cheerfully and pulled a worn-looking Rookwood up and out of the flat, bidding the rest of them a quick goodbye. James rounded on Lily the moment they left.
“Dinner party?” James enquired. “Lily, you just got in from the hospital yesterday.”
“I’m a grown woman James,” Lily sighed. “I am perfectly capable of deciding what I can and can’t handle.” She stood from her spot in the living room and entered the kitchen, dumping leftover bandages in the waste bin.
“And besides, Maggie is coming, and she’s bringing a friend who apparently finds you positively dashing James,” Lily continued, earning a frown from James and a gleaming smile from Sirius.
“Maggie is coming?” and “What?” came from the mouths of Sirius and James, respectively, simultaneously. Lily chuckled slightly.
“Yes Maggie is coming, and yes James, she’s trying to set you up.” Lily paused. “Not me.” James scratched the back of his hair nervously and looked to Sirius, who had a lovesick smile on his face.
“Do you need me to pick anything up from the market?” James asked lightly, still looking a bit struck by the whole situation. He and Lily shared a look, that neither Remus nor Sirius could really read. Lily smiled slightly, though it looked a bit forced.
“That’d be great James, thank you,” she said quietly, conjuring a small list and handing it to him quickly. James was quick to put on his coat and was out the door within a few moments. Remus and Sirius exchanged a rather confused look, but both shrugged as Lily pasted a cheerful smile on her face and started planning for the evening.
The dining room table had been lengthened considerably to seat the nineteen diners. Everyone had dressed to impress, though it was only a dinner party among friends. Or who they thought were friends. He sat quietly at his corner seat and examined the table’s occupants. That was what he was told to do. Sit quiet, be inconspicuous, watch and listen. That’s what he was good at. He was observant.
Gideon and Mary were huddled all lovey-dovey across the table, talking in hushed tones about who would be bridesmaids. Mary was wearing an airy light blue dress that haltered around her neck and felt down her front in light ruffles with a low cut back. Her hair was pulled back in a sleek bun with a few flyaways. Gideon looked as he always did: curly dark red hair and a beaming smile plastered on his face.
Fabian was seated right next to his twin, though a distinct smirk was etched across his own face, marking the difference between the two brothers. He was talking up Amelia Bones, trying to cheer her up it seemed. She was still a bit shaken up about the attack on her twin brother and sister-in-law the day before. Her straight brown hair hung around her shoulders, parted to one side so that only one dark blue eye was visible. She looked barely pulled together, as though she had just thrown on her strapless black dress and walked right out the door. Amelia definitely didn’t know what was coming in the next few weeks…
Across the table from them, and next to him were Alice and Frank Longbottom, looking happy as always, though in these times, one had to ask why. Alice donned a white blazer and dress pants, a new simplistic style she seemed to have picked up since becoming an Auror, going along with her short buzzed hair. Frank never seemed completely able to take his eyes off of her.
Next to the happy couple were the always stoic Kingsley and his date, an Egyptian woman named Isis that interned with Kingsley in the Law Enforcement department at the Ministry. She was quite striking, with long black hair and deep brown eyes. She wore a remarkably obvious golden strapless dress, with a chunky jewel necklace draped across her collarbone. They were laughing about a case gone wonky at work earlier that day. Oh, how happy they looked, he thought with disgust.
Sitting across from the two interns were Benjy Fenwick and Marlene McKinnon. So close on the McKinnons, so close. Benjy looked his typical disheveled self, his bright blonde hair sticking up at every angle, his wide clear blue eyes always looked surprised, regardless of the circumstance. He was a bit odd, and had a neverending supply of useless facts that he chose to share at the strangest moments. He and Marlene had been close friends since first year at Hogwarts, despite being in different houses. They shared a quirkiness that few others seemed to understand. Marlene’s untameable hair was pinned out of her face and shot out in every direction at the back of her head. She wore a pale green loose dress that hung on Marlene’s frail frame lightly and fell off one shoulder. The two were quite an odd pair.
Emmeline Vance and Maggie McGonagall sat beside the oddballs, both clad in simple black dresses, sipping their wine and chatting with the two main men of the table. James and Sirius shared the head of that end of the table, the very opposite end of their two once dear friends. They were still all friends, but Lily had arranged the seating so that the two men could sit near their possible dates. Why she had sat him only two seats from her, he did not know.
“Peter, are you doing alright?” a clear bright voice came from his left. Lily had just entered the dining room levitating large platters of food onto the table simultaneously. Peter turned his attention away from the rest of the table’s occupants and to the smiling red-head. She wore a strapless white dress, contrasting from the darker attire of the rest of the guests. Peter nodded his head.
“Of course,” he lied quickly. “Just a bit tired is all.” Remus chuckled at Peter’s left.
“I know the feeling mate,” Remus said with a nudge. “Full moon was rough this month. Still healing up.” Peter nodded understandingly and looked up suddenly as two more guests walked into the room. Peter paled considerably at the sight of them.
Dorcas and a very nervous looking Augustus Rookwood had stepped through the door. Dorcas wore a lavender off-the-shoulder dress, looking a lot healthier than she had the last time Peter had seen her, bound and tortured in the main hall of the Malfoy Manor. Peter would have been more nervous if Rookwood had ever actually seen his face, but he still tensed at the sight of them. Lily beamed at the two of them.
“You two can just sit yourselves right there next to James,” Lily called across the room, waiting for them to sit before lifting her glass, prompting silence in the room.
“Well, I’d like to start off by thanking you all for coming,” Lily began, smiling as everyone else along the table raised their glasses. “Also, huge congratulations to Mary and Gid on their engagement.” There were cheers throughout the table. “And to Alice and Frank on their new positions as aurors. Let’s eat shall we? Cheers!” The rest of the table lifted their glasses and recited a “Cheers!” before sipping their drinks and digging into their food, chatting cheerfully. Peter noticed the side-long glances Lily was shooting down the table at James, who was making a quite gorgeous Emmeline Vance laugh loudly. Remus noticed this as well.
“Lily, you know he’s only got eyes for you,” Remus said quietly, earning a dumbstruck look from Lily.
“Dunno what you mean Remus,” she said with a forced smile, looking to Peter to change the subject. “How have you been Peter? Haven’t seen you around at dinners much lately! Could there be a girl in your life?” Peter laughed loudly at this, but Lily was no longer smiling. Her eyes glazed over quite suddenly, her bright emerald eyes shone for just a second, fear. Almost instantly however, she hid this with yet another forced smile.
“That’s a no then?” she asked Peter, a slight shake in her voice. It couldn’t be. The only thought that could race through her shocked mind.
Peter Pettigrew was quite observant, yet he couldn’t see Lily Evan’s realization. He couldn’t feel Remus Lupin’s jealousy as he watched Dorcas Meadowes with glazed eyes. He couldn’t sense the joy surging from Alice and Frank Longbottom’s every pore, or the shifty looks Marlene McKinnon and Benjy Fenwick exchanged. He also couldn’t tell you exactly how concerned James Potter was for the sole red-head at the table. He did not truly know any of these people.
James knew Lily very well. Almost too well. Even an instant of emotion could be seen by him. From the very opposite end of the table, James paused in his conversation with Emmeline. He saw the sheer terror that crossed Lily’s eyes, even for just that moment. He saw her cover it as quickly as possible. But he saw it. He didn’t miss it.
“James?” Emmeline’s sensual voice asked. James glanced back at her. She was quite enticing. Incredibly seductive in her every movement. But she was no Lily. A few more drinks and maybe she could be, maybe. James glanced back to Lily, who was now speaking animatedly with Mary, probably about wedding plans. She still glanced to her right anxiously, even as she spoke with Mary. Sirius kicked him suddenly under the table.
“What?” James hissed at him. Sirius rolled his eyes dramatically.
“Emmeline and Maggie here were just wondering if we wanted to grab drinks at the Leaky Cauldron after this dinner party here,” Sirius said rather loudly, drawing the attention of several others along the table. James glanced quickly down the table to Lily, but she avoided his eye. He sighed and pasted a smile on his face.
“Of course we want to!” James said cheerfully, taking a large sip of his butterbeer. “But there’s no point in buying what we already have here am I right? I’ve got a fully stocked bar in my kitchen.” Emmeline giggled at this.
“Sounds like fun,” she said smoothly, bringing her glass up to her red lips. This would be an interesting night.
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