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Chapter 10 : Dark Times
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I guess the first one will always be the scariest. The most shocking, the most devastating. Something that you’ll never forget. Completely unexpected, and it was just as horrible as anyone could imagine.
Or that’s certainly how it felt, completely numb in the common room. All of us. Not even Alice herself was saying a word or showing any sign of emotion.
I was worried myself for my best friend, and though I’d shared a similar loss, it wasn’t like this.
I sat in between Lily and Remus on the couch, watching the fire die. Inside it burning a crumpled piece of paper, which read as condolences for the first victim of an oncoming war.
Only one name rang in our ears then. Unspeakable, but the rule of that seemed to be crushed by the anger that I felt towards the monster itself.
Over and over, Voldemort.
Alice was the first to break the silence. “I can’t believe it,” she whispered, not moving from her spot in front of the fire. “I can’t believe it.”
Lily’s lip twitched, but no one knew what to say.
I felt as Alice’s best friend, it should be me to speak up. “I’m so sorry Alice,” I said quietly. “I’m so sorry.”
She didn’t move, but nodded solemnly.
“What did McGonagall say?” Lily asked. “Are you going home tomorrow?”
“Yes,” said Alice, “She said that I could have the rest of the week, but I don’t want to be home for that long. Not in that house.”
I understood. When my mum died, I spent most of my time outside. I never wanted to be near where she wasn’t. If I saw she wasn’t there, I would lose it. Even now everyone in my family avoids her study. It’s too painful.
It probably always will be.
I moved from my spot on the couch and sat next to Alice. Her face was streaked with silent tears, an opposite reaction to what you would expect.
Normally Alice is very animated. She usually laughs and smiles or screams and shouts. It was kind of scary to see her this silent, as a matter of fact.
I took her hand and we sat there for a while. I only left when McGonagall came in to tell Alice her father had arrived.
By then Lily was the only one still sitting in the common room.
“It’s just so terrible,” she whispered, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye.
I nodded and we silently made our way up to the dormitory.
It was too quiet at breakfast for my liking. Even though Alice was gone, it seemed as though everyone else was mourning as well.
I had only met Mrs. Collins five or six times, but I had plans to attend her funeral. As did James and Sirius, who lived on the same court as Alice.
It was going to be held on Saturday, and I was dreading it. That sounds terrible, but I hate funerals.
But who doesn’t?
I pushed my eggs around on my plate, not hungry for once, and fiddled with the silverware a little bit.
“It’s too bloody quiet,” James said, to break the silence. “We need a little pep.”
Lily looked enraged. “Alice’s mother was just murdered by a power-crazed lunatic! How exactly do you expect anyone to be peppy?”
James avoided her gaze. “Sorry, I just thought that maybe we should be a little happier. I mean, nothing’s happened to any of us.”
Lily left the table.
I thought about it, but James did have a point.
“Fine then. What do you propose we do?” I asked James, who sighed.
“I dunno. It’s just rather gloomy, don’ t you think?”
Remus, who had been silently reading the paper, looked up with a grim expression on his face. “Look at this,” he said, showing us the front page.
The headline read: ‘DEATH EATERS ATTACK OUTSIDE LONDON’. Under, in smallerprint, were the numbers.
The picture was of a burned house, not Alice’s, luckily, and a skull in the sky.
“What do you suppose that is?” Peter asked, pointing to the symbol.
“The dark mark,” Sirius answered. “It’s He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s mark. All his death eaters have it.”
I wondered how he knew that.
Sirius isn’t a death eater, that I know of.
Mary beat me to the question. “How’d you know that?” she asked, frowning. “I don’t think they’ve ever said in the Prophet, have they?
James shifted awkwardly, as he always seemed to when something he knew the answer to but wasn’t exactly his place to tell came up.
Sirius sighed, and avoided the answer. “Just shut it, Mary.”
“I was only asking a question-!”
“I said just shut it!” Sirius exclaimed, leaving the table. James followed him silently, not bothering to leave a word with Peter, myself, Mary or even Remus.
“What’s got his knickers in a twist?” Peter asked Remus who didn’t react.
“I’ve got to get my books.”
That told me that Remus knew some answers.
And I needed them.
I followed Remus until the corridors were empty.
“Do you know what that was about?” I asked.
Not that I expected an answer.
Remus is a wonderful person for telling secrets. He never speaks. Ever.
“I do, but I doubt Sirius would be too pleased if I told you,” Remus said finally.
“Is it bad?”
Remus nodded. “You can figure it out if you know anything about the ‘most Noble and Ancient house of Black’.”
Things began to click into place instantly. The Blacks were known for being dark wizards, and with You-Know-Who rising, that could only mean that the lot of them were also death eaters.
I should have guessed it in the first place, after hearing Sirius’ story of escape.
I really do feel bad for the guy. Apparently his parents are really terrible people and they wanted Sirius to act more like them.
I should’ve figured that one out on my own too. In first year, Sirius, who I didn’t really know, received several howlers from home, making known that it was shameful for him to be in Gryffindor and not Slytherin.
“I get it now,” I said lightly. “Merlin, it’s been so gloomy lately.”
Remus chuckled. “I guess we just need you to make it brighter then, don’t we?”
I took his hand, not caring that no one was around to see our fake romance and walked the rest of the way to the common room with him.
Thankfully, James had done something right for once.
I was laughing so hard I was crying and the soap that was chasing Severus Snape bubbled louder.
Apparently James thought that we needed to lighten the mood (I agreed) and decided that a prank on Snape was just what everyone needed.
I don’t think I’d ever managed to have a conversation with the guy, but I knew that he was a terrible git and that he was often regarded as simply target practice for the marauders, which I can agree with.
“Potter, will you stop it!” Snape exclaimed, backing into a corner, where the charmed soap tried to get to his greasy hair.
James, who was also howling with laughter, shook his head. “Sorry Snivellus, but I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “James, please cut it out before I have to report you. McGonagall’s really been on me lately about keeping you and Padfoot under control.”
Remus was a prefect, and though his friends sometimes hated him for it, he was much easier than Lily, who, no matter friend or foe, would report you faster than you could say ‘detention’.
James shrugged and undid the spell. “I’m sorry, Moony, but Snape’s hair was dripping on my shoes from his nose. You should be punishing him, really.”
Remus ignored James once again and faced me. “Do you see what I have to deal with?” He complained, running a hand through his sandy hair.
“Wait,” I said, putting my face painfully close to Remus’ head. “I think I see a couple of grey hairs!”
James, of course, at this ran up to Remus to confirm. “Remus Lupin: gone grey in sixth year! Who’dve thought?”
Sirius, who had been relatively silent up until this point, ripped one of the hairs out. “I told you to stop stressing out so much. If you would only let us get away with everything, then you wouldn’t have these lovely things.”
Remus sighed. “I’ve found them before. It’s probably from being friends with you two,” he said to James and Sirius.
“It’s okay,” I said in a flirty manner, “I still think you’re cute.”
James, Sirius, and I laughed as Remus turned pink.
“Yeah, Moony, it’s adorable! Isn’t our little Remus just adorable?” James said to Sirius, who was too busy laughing at Remus’ reaction answer.
“It’s not going to be so adorable when I give you both detention,” Remus joked.
I stuck my tongue out at James and Sirius. “Ha ha, boys, have fun.”
“Oh, did I say both? I meant all three of you,” Remus added, wiping the smile off my face.
“I can’t believe Remus actually gave us detention,” I grumbled, as Sirius finished up a particularly dusty trophy on the shelf.
“I can. He does it now and then, you know, just to prove how much authority he has. Although, he’s probably the only bloke on the planet that would give an undeserved detention to his own girlfriend,” Sirius smiled.
Remus had indeed give Sirius, James and I detention, but James complained that he had Quidditch strategies to plan, so Remus let him off.
He also probably gave me and Sirius the harsher punishment since we deemed it was appropriate to charm his hair to match is cheeks before he left for class.
“He really likes you, you know,” Sirius said offhandedly, grabbing another trophy off the shelf. “He talks about you all the time.”
Oh fucking hell.
I tried my best to hide the shock. “Really? Anything bad?”
Sirius laughed. “No. He said you were really funny, and very pretty. He said he was lucky, actually. Which is rare coming from the poor guy.”
Shit, shit, shit.
This is not supposed to happen.
“I’m glad he thinks so,” I mumbled.
Sirius frowned. “Why all the enthusiasm?”
“Well, we haven’t really been going out all that long, that’s all.”
Sirius nodded. “I thought I’d just tell you. You know you are lucky. Remus is a good guy.”
Yeah, if we were really going out. Which we’re not.
“Well, I’m done. You?”
I nodded and put up my trophy, following Sirius out of the dingy cabinet.
This is not what I wanted.
The funeral of Mrs. Collins was oddly short. I expected myself to cry as well, but I didn’t.
I sat, stoic, next to my dad, watching Alice in the front row. She wasn’t crying either, just staring off into space.
I pulled on a loose string at the hem of my black dress, trying to break it without having to cut it.
Afterwords, there was a small reception, where I went off to find James and Sirius. They were, shockingly, standing by the buffet, eating.
They’re always eating.
“Hello,” I said quietly.
James nodded, his mouth too full to properly greet.
“Hi, Elsa,” Sirius said.
“Have either of you talked to Alice?” I asked hopefully. I hadn’t been able to catch her yet.
James shook his head and swallowed. “No, have you?”
“No. I was just looking for her, actually.”
“She’s by the grave,” Sirius said quietly, gesturing to where Alice was indeed seated, a frown on her face in front of the new stone.
The plot was small, since Mrs. Collins was buried outside the house and not in a proper graveyard.
I debated walking over to my best friend, to let her know I was there, but I decided against it, knowing that moment was only for Alice.
But the sinking feeling in my stomach told me that it wouldn’t be the last shared between human and dirt.
The war was coming.
And no one was ready.
A/N: Hello, all! So anyway, sorry about the lame-ish chapter, this ones been written for ages, but I still really don't like it. It's just kind of a filler type with important plot points thrown in there. But on the brighter side, thank you to everyone who's read, favorited and/or reviewed this story. You= AMAZING.
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