Chapter 2 : 01: Whispers in June
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amour. | TDA
Albus Dumbledore was dead, thrown upon the grass, in the shadows of the Astronomy Tower, underneath the stars and the moonlight. Scorched portraits, damaged armory, a stream of rubies pouring from the Gryffindor's hourglass, and puddle of blood told the story of his fall.
Not one of the pajama-clad students expected to see their Headmaster lying helplessly, as if he were sleeping, at the base of the Tower. Especially since it was the very same Tower that had often played hostess to the late night rendezvous of lovers.
Tonight was different. Tonight it played host to someone no longer full of life and, consequentially, love.
The scene was out of a horror story, unimaginable to most, but his body was there. It was real to anyone who had the strength to greet death openly.
The wreckage was taken in by the students and the ghosts of Hogwarts, who were scattered from the Tower all the way into the Great Hall.
"Students! Students!" Professor Sprout waved for their attention. Her patched hat was lopsided on her head, and her robes haphazardly covered her nightclothes. "Please, make your way back to your common room! For your safety, please, back to your common rooms!" She attempted to herd the students back into the castle, to get them far away from the night's bitter cold and the Astronomy Tower. She corralled and the other professors joined in, under McGonagall's orders.
After long tedious minutes of crying bewilderment, the chattering ceased and they heard their professor's requests. The students started to clear the area, slowly, languidly. Half-asleep, half unsure of what they saw, all the while questioning why they were woken in the night.
Moving the students away from the body did not silence them however. Everyone was in a panic: frightened that they were next to die or angered that they were not warned of the attack. The commotion coming from inside the Slytherin common room was by far the worse.
Being that the residents of the Slytherin house were just as clueless as the rest of the student body, despite their obvious affiliations with Death Eaters, hurt more than it helped. People were screaming, each an echo of collective mass confusion. Some cried and some continued to gossip like children over a new beau.
Although the majority of Salazar's house desired the very same answers, it seemed like no one would stop trying to be louder than the person standing next to them.
Until one high-pitched screech seemed surpass all the others.
The whole room was nothing short of a crowded mess of Slytherins. Yet a silent blonde-haired girl had the misfortune to be stuck in front of the yelling pug-faced Pansy Parkinson. That is, until Pansy decided to stand on a chair.
"What did that stupid Potter do? Everything awful that happens here is his fault!"
Other students joined in, with cries and whispers of, words that sounded like "Diggory" and "now Dumbledore" and "murder" and "dark marks."
Pansy wailed again, "I want to know what's going on, right now! We deserve answers!" Pansy's voice soared over the chaos, to be joined by hoots of approval and supportive uproar of her stance.
Only the blonde haired girl noticed how Pansy's confidence faltered with a pout, as she surveyed the room, and whispered, "Draco..."
The blonde's face contorted into a sneer that rivaled her uncle and her aforementioned cousin's as she thought about what a waste of her time this was. The lack of knowledge sent the room into a spiral of outcries and further confusion, which, she felt, had the uncanny resemblance to goblins running around to find a missing galleon.
The fact that no one in the room had any accurate information about what happened was an obstacle in her mind that she could not solve. For many continued to scream, piss, and moan out their frustration under the false pretense that someone was going to randomly blurt out the answers they wanted. But the blonde continued to stand and look at those around her, waiting for the appropriate moment to leave the common room, unnoticed.
"Where are they?" the bulky Millicent Bulstrode rang out next from the blonde's left.
"As your Slytherin Prefect, I will demand answers direct from McGonagall!" Pansy yelled. Her voice carried over the room and hurt the blonde's ears.
As the mob mentality was beginning to form under Pansy's rule, Illyana Macnair knew it was time to escape.
Illyana didn't push or shove anyone as she made her way out of the common room. In fact, she wanted to be as invisible as she could be. Especially since it was her cousin that suddenly went missing after all was said and done. She couldn't handle any questions. Her brain was fuzzy, unable to process what had transpired in less than an hour.
Pansy could take the lot of Slytherins and do whatever she liked, Illyana thought. As long as no one bothered her or asked her anything, she didn't care what the rest of her house decided to do.
She made her way down the long, winding corridor towards the 6th year girls' bedroom, reveling in the fact that no one bombarded her for her thoughts and answers. Unlike Pansy, Illyana knew that her words needed to be properly spoken and worded. And as much as she tried to succeed at Slytherin pride and politics, right now she just did not think herself up to that duty.
Right now, as she swiftly opened and shut the door of the 6th year's dorm room, she was conflicted.
Dumbledore had just died. And her cousin Draco was clearly involved.
Illyana walked over to her bed, the one closest to the door. She found the sunken spot of her mattress with ease and sat. This spot, where the mattress dipped lower than any other, was the spot Illyana thought over many of her life problems and now was no different.
A frown formed on her lips.
Hogwarts had been broken into. Albus Dumbledore was dead. Snape and Draco were missing.
Draco had been acting funny for months, talking to her even less than usual, if not altogether avoiding her, she recalled. While she couldn't say that their relationship was anything more than forced by blood, he was still family and they were connected in the eyes of their fathers and others...Despite her better judgment, Illyana worried about him, but never thought to actually help him. He always made it very clearly that he was above her, and beyond her help.
Saving him from himself, his father, and the darker shades of their blood were all moot points unfortunately. But those points didn't change the fact that Albus Dumbledore was dead and that Professor, no-Headmistress, Illyana corrected herself, McGonagall all but said outright that they all weren't safe.
Illyana felt a burn in her eyes. But they were Slytherins! From the same house as the Dark Lord. Almost all of them were purebloods. They had all been exposed in a variety of ways since his return, how weren't they safe? Even if Hogwarts' impenetrable magic was no longer reliable, they should be safe.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Illyana heard her mother's voice, 'Be kind to Headmaster Dumbledore, he watches after you, little love.'
Illyana sunk further into the mattress. She never quite understood what her mother meant when she said things like that, nor understood a lot of her mother's quirks about other Slytherin families. But Illyana loved her mum, and trusted her enough to know that Dumbledore's death was bad.
Yet Illyana couldn't help thinking, what about her father?
Her face scrunched up.
To her father and the majority of her house's pureblood ideals, Illyana knew, Dumbledore's death would be rejoiced. Her father would be at the Dark Lord's side, and she and her mother were expected to follow orders and be there too.
Illyana could not help but think that she did not know how she felt about the situation at all. She was uneasy. Do I even like Dumbledore?
She started to pick at the lint stuck to her pajama bottoms as she mulled over the events: the pouring red rubies, a body, crying faces, and the glow of Death's mark.
She had no special connection to Dumbledore, despite her mum's efforts, like Potter or the other Gryffindors, nor did she ever speak to the older man outside of the polite 'Hullo' when she could not be seen by fellow Slytherins.
But he was a good man. Or so her mother told her.
Or was he really just a man in the way of a more powerful wizard on the rise? Like her father proclaimed when she was growing up. She felt tears forming at the thought now circling in her mind, was my father here tonight? Terror and confusion began to sink in. No, no, no, he's in Azkaban, she reassured herself quickly.
"I'm leaving!" Pansy burst into the room, opening the door so roughly that it hit the wall with a loud boom. Illyana jumped in her skin and snapped her head in the direction of the door, startled by Pansy's outburst and her, Millicent and Daphne's sudden arrival into the room.
"Forget Professor Slughorn and forget about a funeral. I'm out of here!" Pansy barked. Illyana frowned, gauging what Pansy said as she and Millicent started to mess around with their trunks and belongings.
Daphne, however, caught Illyana's eye and went to her own bed. She kept wiping her eyes and looked a bit pink in the face.
Illyana thought it looked like she had been crying or was trying, and failing, to not cry. Illyana thought to comfort Daphne, but didn't budge from her bed. They were estranged, unable to help one another even if they wanted too. They were as close as any good Slytherins were; as close as they needed to be, never closer. It was safer that way. Better. Especially in moments like these, where one cannot expose a weakness unless they wanted to deal with the inevitable harm a weakness would cause.
Illyana looked away from Daphne, unable to look at her sad face any longer. Gauging Pansy and Millicent's actions, Illyana mustered up her cool, even keel, prideful Slytherin air. She took on the tone of a prominent Death Eater's daughter when she said snootily, "Term isn't over because the Headmaster is dead. You can't just leave."
"Well, my parents will want me home the second they hear of the mess Hogwarts is in," Pansy replied, in her usual curt manner with Illyana. Pansy was already sorting her lights and darks and folding them up neatly.
"We are leaving and not attending Dumbledore's funeral," Millicent tagged on, stuffing her trunk full of books and reams of seemingly blank parchment.
Illyana's face went blank, pale and hesitant. She didn't consider a funeral; she's never been to one before. Unless she counted her grandparents, but both sets died before she turned five.
"We-" Daphne chocked between subdued sobs, "have a c-choice to stay or go. My parents aren't going to let me come back I-I know it!" She blurted out. Her face was blotchy, red, and puffier than ever.
Illyana noticed that Daphne's hands were shaking a bit on her lap. Why am I not feeling the same? She wondered, perplexed with her inability to be effected. She pitied the girl really, but she found herself in no shape to offer any words of condolence. How can I possibly say anything to her? Illyana thought. For she was pure, she never had any worries and she knew it.
"Nothing will be 'alright' for those little Mudbloods now," Pansy snickered, poking fun at the sensitive topic. She looked up from her things to see their expressions, "you have a little more than a fifty-fifty shot right, Daph?" Pansy laughed again and Millicent joined in.
Daphne stood up from her bed violently and shrieked, "I am a Pureblood, I tell you! And just as worthy as you, you brat!"
Both Pansy and Millicent stopped laughing. Millicent snarled at Daphne and shut the lid of her trunk violently.
"Don't you dare talk to me like that!" Pansy stomped her foot and waved the white shirt she was holding in her hands up and down with each word that she yelled back, "I am better than you!"
Illyana looked back and forth between Daphne and Pansy, waiting for any sign of a fight to break out. Tensions were high enough. But Daphne slowly settled back down into her bed, going mute like most do when they go against Pansy. Illyana remained silent. She could see tears starting to form again in Daphne's eyes. Illyana thought, maybe seeing Dumbledore's body made Daphne crack?
As Ilyana was opening her mouth, to defer the subject from a real fight and ask more about what the students were supposed to do now, she heard the strangest of songs. Daphne looked up as if she heard it too and both Pansy and Millicent stopped moving.
It was as if the world had stopped, turned on its axis, and then started all over again. The song rang in Illyana's ears. Her heart began to ache as if it was bleeding from a wound she did not have. But she didn't know why. She couldn't tell where the song was coming from or what it meant. She felt pain and sorrow in her chest and she knew something had changed. Something must have happened. The sound reminded her of her mother's voice. Of her singing accompanying Illyana's piano forte. Of the comfort of her home and mum's loving embrace.
Illyana rose from the bed, ignoring the other girls and leaving the comfort of her sunken mattress. As if she was possessed by the song she heard, she went over to her desk and grabbed a piece of parchment and her quill. She was going to write a letter to her mother, her confidant and best friend, to tell her what had happened.
As she was writing, Daphne went to write her own letter and Pansy and Millicent went about packing. She finished the note and resolved to send it on the morrow once she found her owl, Ludwiggy, perched about around Hogwarts. Illyana went back to her bed and laid down, thinking only of the comfort and counsel of her mum's perfect cursive lines of reassurance.
Silent and still, Illyana again thought of home and the comfort of her mother's arms. She looked around the room, one last time and noted that Tracey Davis had not returned to their shared dorm. And she wasn't surprised that the Muggleborn Slytherin was no where to be seen, but Illyana couldn't be bothered by that.
She shut her eyes firmly, ignoring the grunts and sobs of those around her, as she thought of what her mother would be writing back to her. She hoped and longed for some message of safety.
The words swept in and out of Illyana's ear like the wind that brushed over her blonde hair and cheek. She stared ahead with the firm brown eyes of her father's likeness as a nameless man gave his speech for the crowd of all Dumbledore's admirers and acquaintances.
All seemed to be quiet around her as he spoke, his voice fading easily in the backdrop of the scene.
"His death was not only a loss of a brilliant mind and a respected man, but it was the loss of the greatest wizard of all time..."
Illyana sat through the ceremony and thought of home, as her mum told her to do in her hastily written reply to her yesterday morning.
Respecting her mum's wishes of staying at Hogwarts for Dumbledore's funeral, Illyana grew anxious. She was surprised that her mum did not come to the ceremony like other parents did since she was adamant in her support of the late Headmaster.
Illyana mentally shrugged off her confusion. It didn't matter and neither did all the people around her. Soon, she anticipated, she would be on the train and then she would Apparate home, where she knew she would be safer and certainly have been missed and loved.
She couldn't wait to leave Hogwarts.
As the funeral ceased...all was quiet, but the whispers. Both the whispers of good-bye to the late Albus Dumbledore, and the single whisper of good-bye from a lost mother to her naive daughter.
The whispers were carried off by the wind, barely to be heard and the sorrow of those present, both young and old and brave and frightened, began to melt into the crisp spring air.
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