Chapter 2 : 01: Whispers in June
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Albus Dumbledore was dead, thrown upon the grass, in the shadows of the Astronomy Tower, underneath the stars and the moonlight. The scorched remains of portraits, the damaged armory, the constant stream of rubies pouring from the Gryffindor's hourglass, and spilled blood all 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 very different. Tonight it played host to someone no longer full of life and, consequentially, love.
The scene was unimaginable, but his body was there.
It was real and before their eyes.
The wreckage was taken in by the students and the ghosts of Hogwarts, whom were huddled 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. "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 and get them far away from the night's bitter cold and the Astronomy Tower. She pushed and the other professors joined in, under McGonagall's orders.
Eventually, the chattering ceased and the students moved, leaving the Great Hall silent and empty once more.
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 in bewilderment. 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.
But 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, until Pansy decided to stand on a chair.
"What did that stupid Potter do? I want to know what's going on, right now!" Pansy's voice soared over the chaos, yet her confidence seemed to falter as she whispered, "and where's Draco?"
The blonde's face contorted into a sneer that rivaled both her uncle and her 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 just continued to stand and look at those around her, waiting for the appropriate moment to leave the common room, unnoticed.
"I agree with Pansy! Where are they?" the bulky Millicent Bulstrode rang out next from the blonde's left.
"As your Slytherin Prefect, I think we should get the answers from McGonagall herself!" Pansy yelled. Her voice carried over the room and hurt the blonde's ears further.
As the mob mentality was beginning to form under Pansy's rule, Illyana Macnair knew it was time to make her escape.
Illyana didn't bother to 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.
Pansy could take a lot of Slytherins 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 the Slytherins 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. She worried about him, but could never 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 Dark Lord 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 figured they all weren't safe.
But they were from the same house as the Dark Lord. Most 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 soothing voice, 'If Dumbledore dies, he will sorely be missed and we will all be in trouble.'
Illyana sunk further into the mattress. She never quite understood what her mother meant when she said 'trouble', but she trusted her mum enough to know that Dumbledore's death did not imply anything good.
Yet Illyana couldn't help thinking, what about her father?
He face scrunched up.
To her father and the majority of her house's pureblood ideals, Illyana knew, Dumbledore's death was an advantage for their Dark Lord, and an even larger advance for his belief in purity. Her father would be at the Dark Lord's side, and her mother would be forced 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 knew she never had any special connection to Dumbledore 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.
Deep in thought, Illyana didn't hear the door knob rattle or turn.
"I'm leaving!" Pansy burst into the room, opening the door so roughly that it hit the wall with a loud boom. "Forget Professor Slughorn and forget about a funeral. I'm getting out of here!"
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. She missed what Pansy said, but she watched as Pansy and Millicent went directly to their beds, in the middle of the room, and started to mess around with their trunks and belongings.
Daphne, however, caught Illyana's eye and as if it never happened, Daphne ran to her 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 not to cry. She wanted to comfort Daphne, but didn't know how and she didn't try. They were as close as any good Slytherins were; as close as they needed to be, never closer.
Instead, she gauged Pansy and Millicent's actions, when she found her voice, "Why are you two packing?"
"My parents will want me home the second they hear of the mess Hogwarts is in," Pansy replied first, in her usual curt manner with Illyana. Pansy was already sorting her whites 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. Then she raised her head from her hands and looked at Illyana expectantly. Daphne's face was blotched red and puffier than ever.
Illyana noticed that Daphne's hands were shaking a bit even though she had tried to calm them by placing them upon her lap. She pitied the girl really, but she found herself in no shape to offer any words of condolence. How can I possibly say anything comforting? 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 fifty-fifty shot right, Daphne?" Pansy laughed again and Millicent joined in.
Daphne stood up from her bed violently and shrieked, "I am a Pureblood 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. 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, "Don't you dare talk to me like that! I'm not a brat! I am better than you!"
Illyana stared back and forth between Daphne and Pansy, waiting for any sign of a fight to break out. Tensions were surely 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. It was clear to Illyana, that seeing Dumbledore's body had made Daphne crack.
Why wasn't she feeling the same amount of emotion? She wondered, perplexed with her inability to be effected.
As Ilyana was opening her mouth, to ask more about what PRofessor Slughorn said, 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 and her eyes searched for a reason behind the most somber lullaby she's ever heard. 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 liking 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 entire ceremony and thought of home, as her mother told her to do in her hastily written reply to her yesterday morning.
Respecting her mother'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. Her mum always seemed adamant in her support of 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.
NRB writes: I hope you enjoyed the first chapter :) Please, if you feel that I could improve/correct anything do not hesitate to review and let me know!! Thanks!
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