Chapter 19 : Ch. 18 - Release
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"Holy shit, guys look at this."
All of us looked up from our plates, turning our attention to James as he turned around the paper he was reading and set it on the tale for all of us to see. There were various sounds of exclamation from my friends as they read the headline that caused James to get our attention but I just stared at the paper in shock:
Department of Magical Law Enforcements Approves Aurors Use of Unforgivable Curses
My father would have never allowed this, was the first thought to cross my mind as I picked up the paper. I read through the article, through the sections where they quoted Crouch and it occurred to me that his zealotry knew no bounds. The article claimed that Crouch had been pushing for this approval since he was instated, saying that the dark forces they were fighting would not hesitate to use an Unforgivable Curse, putting the Aurors at a disadvantage. The article also made a comment comparing Crouch to my father, and their blaringly different administrative ways which made me chuckle because now it was clear that Crouch was trying to outdo my father.
If my father had thought that allowing the Aurors under his command to use Unforgivable Curses would do more good than harm, he would have pushed for the approval of their use himself. But he knew that they would ultimately have a backlash that was more trouble than it was worth. I wouldn't be surprised if after this, Aurors would be found switching sides because they had just a taste of what using Dark Magic was like and would want more. This wouldn't help, it would turn our Aurors, the ones meant to protect us into dark wizards, tainted by the very Ministry they vowed to serve.
"I don't understand why this is such a big deal," Lily said, looking at all of us.
"Are you kidding?" Peter asked her, bewildered.
She shrugged, "I've read a lot but Unforgivable Curses haven't been brought up and if they were, they weren't elaborated on."
"… Lily Evans doesn't know what something is? Fuck, I think the world is about to end!" Sirius exclaimed dramatically causing Lily's cheeks to flush.
I smacked Sirius in the arm. "Leave her alone, she didn't grow up in this world incase you've forgotten. And if you ever bothered to crack a textbook in your life, you'd know that none of our past Defense books ever talked about the Unforgivable Curses."
I wasn't wrong. Our past Defense Against the Dark Arts textbooks never talked about the Unforgivable Curses in depth. They only touched on the topic briefly, saying that they were dark magic and as their name implies "unforgivable". They never said what they were or what they did, I also highly doubted there was any information in the library on them outside of the Restricted Section. I think it's the preferred way the school's board of governors wants the teachers to deal with the topic of Dark Magic - if we don't learn about it, we can't use it.
"Seriously?" James asked me.
I squeezed the bridge of my nose in frustration. "Remind me again how you two pass classes?" Both Sirius and James pointed to Remus. Sighing, I turned to Lily, "We can ask Professor Perkins in class about it if you like."
Lily only nodded, smiling kindly at me as the bell rang for our first class of the day.
"Good morning class," Derek called out once everyone had taken their seats.
"Good morning, Professor," the class replied only because we had learned that he would make us say it over and over again until he got a 'good morning' he was satisfied with.
He smiled at us and clapped his hands together once, "Well as you recall, last lesson we were working on - uh… yes, Elaina?"
I set my hand back down. "Is it true the Department of Magical Law Enforcement is going to let the Aurors use Unforgivable Curses?"
He sighed and crossed his arms, looking exasperated. Derek should have known that if I had seen the article before class I would be the one asking if it was true. He had told us that he would not shelter us from what was going on outside of Hogwart's, so I knew he would tell me the truth.
After a moment, Derek nodded. "Yes, it's true. The new Head has been pushing for the approval of their use ever since he got the job. "
"Why was it approved?" I heard Remus ask from somewhere behind me. "It wasn't mentioned in the article."
"I'm not sure," Derek replied with a shrug.
I wasn't surprised Derek didn't know why it was approved. He had been my father's partner after all, and he had also probably been in the running for the new Head position along with Crouch. To have been my father's partner and, for all intents and purposes, his second in command Derek held quite a bit of sway with the other Aurors and several Ministry officials. Crouch most likely saw Derek as a threat to his newly acquired position and chose not to tell him his reasons for why he was pushing for the approval of the use of the Unforgivable Curses. Crouch was most likely using this Ministry approval to solidify his leadership position.
"Is that why you took the position to teach here," I wondered, "because Crouch was pushing for the approval?"
At my question I watched Derek take in a discreet deep breath before he released it. He didn't want to answer me, I could tell, or at least, he didn't want to tell the truth. Derek had loved his job, he was pretty much married to it ever since his wife died so he wouldn't have given it up simply because Dumbledore offered him the teaching position.
After a few moments of silence, he began nodding. "Yes, that is partially why. Allowing the Aurors to use the Unforgivable Curses perverts our purpose and the oath we took. They are Dark Magic inherently and allowing the main law enforcement apparatus to use them makes the protectors and defenders no better than those they are trying to fight and essentially makes them a threat to the public they vowed to protect."
Derek sighed again, "Alright, although this was not what I had in mind for today's lesson since it got brought up in one of my other classes as well, we might as well continue it… I know your texts do not elaborate on the Unforgivable Curses, so we'll talk about them to make everyone understand what I'm talking about it. Is there anyone who doesn't know what they are?"
I knew Lily must've raised her hand and when I heard a Slytherin scoff, "Stupid Mudblood", I had my affirmative.
Derek looked sharply in the direction the slur originated. "Thank you for volunteering your time tonight Mr. Lestrange, I'll see you at seven o'clock and you've just lost twenty points from Slytherin."
Derek wand-lessly pushed his desk to the side and dragged a rolling chalkboard before the class. Spitting in his hand, he picked up a piece of chalk and wrote along the top Unforgivable Curses and underlined it.
"There are three Unforgivable Curses," he began, and wrote the numbers one through three along the side of the chalkboard. "Can anyone tell me why they are so labeled 'Unforgivable'?" He turned back around to face all of us and pointed to someone in Gryffindor who had their hand raised, "Yes, Peter?"
"They're called the Unforgivable Curses because the use of any one of them is unforgivable," he replied. "If a witch or wizard is found guilty of using any one of them they're sentenced to life in Azkaban prison."
Derek nodded, "Very good. Now, who can tell me what they are?" He looked over in the Slytherin half of the room, "Evan?"
Evan looked up from where he was doodling on his parchment. "Uhm… one of them is The Killing Curse."
As he spoke, Derek wrote on the board listing The Killing Curse beside the number one he had written. "That is the worst of them. The Killing Curse does just as its name implies - kills. It is signified by a bright green flash of light, there is no way to block or repel it and it kills not only the body of the victim, but strips the spirit from the body as well, locking it in the castor's wand… Next?"
"The Imperius Curse," Sirius said directly behind me.
Derek nodded, "The Imperius Curse gives the castor complete control over another human being, body and mind, the castor can make the victim do anything he or she wishes and the victim is powerless to stop it. The only known way to break the spell is by sheer willpower and internal fortitude." He turned around and addressed the class once more, "There's one more… Elaina?"
I was perfectly fine with the lesson until that moment. My hands had been clenched into fists so hard, I could feel my fingernails cutting into my palms. No one else seemed nearly as uncomfortable about "learning" about the Unforgivable Curses as I did. After all, less than six months ago I had borne witness to two of the three, even felt the effects of the very curse Derek was expecting me to name. I doubted anyone else in the room could say the same.
I took a deep steadying breath, "The Cruciatus Curse is the third Unforgivable Curse, it is commonly referred to as The Torture Curse."
"Good. Can you tell me what it does?"
I looked up at him in shock. Why now, did he ask the student to suppliment the effect? There must have been something in my eyes or in my expression that startled Derek then because his eyebrows slanted together and his head tilted ever so slightly to one side.
I gulped heavily. "Pain," I shot out in a breath. I felt my eyes flutter close and my brow furrow as I took another steadying breath. "It causes the most unbearable pain from the roots of your hair to the very tips of your toes..." Suddenly, I wasn't in the classroom anymore, but writhing on my front lawn as I screamed myself hoarse, and I was shaking. "... and no matter how much you tell yourself that you won't scream, the sounds that come out of your mouth won't sound anywhere near human... and it doesn't matter if you're only subjected to it for thirty seconds or thirty minutes - it feels like years."
Remembering the pain that was inflicted on me from that curse, I could feel the goosebumps raising the hairs on my arms and at the back of my neck. My back was straight, my heart racing and my nerves were on edge as if I was expecting to be hit with the curse inside the classroom. The classroom had disappeared around me and the only thing I could hear was my father's screams as he was subjected to the curse in the front living room of my home, meshing in tandem with my own from that night.
There was awed silence all around me. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Marlene had her hand pressed to her mouth but she wouldn't look at me. I looked up at Derek who regarded me with a saddened expression, but I could see the anger tightening his eyes because I had left that part out when I told him what happened the night my parents were killed.
Derek swallowed audibly, "Well, as you can see the Unforgivable Curses would do more harm than good… Your homework for tonight will be to work on your wand-less Summoning Spells, we'll be working on those next lesson… class dismissed."
I couldn't breathe, I needed out of the classroom, away from everyone and their prying eyes, their gossiping whispers. The space suddenly seemed far to small, and the walls were closing in. I didn't even bother to pack up my bag, just picked everything up off my desk, tucked my quill behind my ear and all but ran from the Defense classroom.
I found myself in the nearest girls lavatory, locking myself in a stall and immediately turning to empty anything and everything that had been in my stomach. What the fuck were you thinking, Elaina, I demanded of myself, running your mouth like that! I slowly sank to the tiled floor, resting my hot cheek against the cool porcelain and burying a hand in my hair; I was so embarrassed.
I had half expected someone would come looking for me before class, but to my relief no one did. When the late bell rang for the next class, I slipped out of the bathroom and headed back to the Common Room. Younger students who were on their break littered the room, but paid me no mind as I trudged up the dormitory and climbed into bed with no intention of leaving it for the rest of the day.
Right around the time my stomach began to ache from hunger, the door to the dorm opened and I recognized Lily's slim figure through my hangings. In her hands she was carrying a steaming plate of food and placed that on the nightstand between our beds. I could hear the shifting of fabric as Lily slid off her robe and tie, the thud of her shoes as she kicked them off. Then I heard her move the hangings around my bed aside and lift the covers I had placed over me. Lily slid her skinny body underneath the covers behind me until she threw an arm over my side, searching for my hand and tucked herself against me.
Then I felt her forehead pressed against the base of my neck. "I'm so sorry Elaina," she said, squeezing my hand. "I brought you dinner in case you're hungry."
"Thank you, Lily," I replied.
"James and Sirius are worried about you," Lily told me. "You're lucky they can't come up here, otherwise they'd be storming the dormitory."
I couldn't help but chuckle, "I'm sure."
Lily took a deep breath, "Have… have you talked to anyone about what happened?"
I shifted, making Lily release her hold on me so I could turn over to look at her. She looked so distressed and upset that I felt guilty because she was upset over me. I shook my head, "No, I haven't, besides telling the Aurors what happened and then recounting it for the Wizengamot I haven't talked to anyone."
"You should," she replied. "It'll help."
I inhaled deeply, making a split second decision that would end up solidifying my friendship with Lily from that day forward. "Okay, I'll talk to you.
While the three other houses held their Quidditch Trials in the early afternoon, James had decided that Gryffindor's needed to be held at 8:30 in the morning. The reason for this, according to James, was that the early time would help weed out the people who were lazy. While I admit there may be some credence to that line of thinking, I was not very happy when I woke up on Saturday to get ready for Quidditch Trials. I barely slept during the week, Saturday and Sunday were my only days to try and sleep in, and now James was ruining it.
I ignored the noises of the other Gryffindor Team hopefuls as I turned to a mirror and pulled my hair into a bun at the back of my head that would have made McGonagall proud. I watched the reflection of some of the other girls as they got into their gear and almost laughed. It was clear who was there because they wanted to play Quidditch and who was there to try and get guys' attention. Some of the girls were actually putting on make-up and leaving their hair down, which was ridiculous - their mascara would be dripping down their cheeks and their hair would be a windswept, knotted mess by the end.
I walked out onto the pitch with my broom in hand (a Star Streaker 270), taking in the refreshing scent of fresh cut grass. The soft terrain under my feet was such a relief from the hard unforgiving stone of the Hogwart's corridors. I looked around, a good distance from me was James and Sirius probably talking about how try-outs were going to work since James was gesticulating to different areas of the pitch. A burly, dark skinned young man, a sixth year by the name of Mike who played Beater was talking to a small group of boys - all of whom I assumed were interested in being a Beater. I slowly turned in a circle, there were only four players from last year who were still at school so where was the last one?
"Well fuck me sideways! I was wondering when I'd see your face down here!" someone shouted and suddenly I was engulfed in a tight, boney embrace. "I'd know that no nonsense hair-do anywhere!"
Well that answers my question, I thought as I hugged the girl who was at least six inches shorter than me. She was probably the skinniest thing I've ever laid eyes on and couldn't have weighed more than 110 pounds, if that. To look at her sharp, drastic features and dancing eyes you would think that she was a faerie but she was all human, standing at a terrifying 5'0'' even, however what she lacked in height she made up for with a sailor's mouth and big personality. Not to mention she was the only girl to get away with wearing combat boots with her school robes. McGonagall got on her for awhile about wearing them, but after what accumulated to about two month's worth of detentions she gave up.
I stepped back as she released me and looked down at Vesper as she smiled up at me, her short, pixie cut blonde hair sticking up in every direction. Vesper was the Gryffindor Seeker, and has been ever since her third year - she was a fifth year now and the only reason she knew who I was, was because the two of us played on the same team during summer leagues.
"James, how the hell did you convince her to finally try out?" she shoulder over her shoulder.
"You two know one another?" James asked us as he walked over. Unless James stood a little away from her, Vesper had to tilt her head back to look at him because he was almost a foot taller than her.
"Elaina and I were on the same team in summer leagues. She's one of the best fucking Chasers I've ever seen, if you don't let her on the team, so help me god, I will castrate you!"
"Merlin, Ves, we haven't even had a single practice yet and you're already threatening James with castration?" Sirius said.
Vesper laughed, "How the fuck else is he going to take me seriously?" Suddenly the expression on Vesper's face changed into a grimace. "Good Lord! Please tell me who let the hussy parade on my pitch?"
I turned to the direction Vesper had been facing and wasn't surprised to see the girls who had been in the locker room with me flouncing onto the field. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at their dramatic entrance.
The other boys, with the exception of James, didn't seem to find anything wrong with their display. There were a few wolf whistles from the group of boys Mike was talking with and Sirius himself was eyeing a particularly leggy brunette.
"Come on now Ves, we gotta give everyone a fair chance," Sirius said.
Vesper made a gagging noise and pantomimed vomiting. She spun abruptly on her heel and muttered to herself, "Every fucking year, never fails."
Within the next few minutes the other people trying out showed up. In total, there was about twenty five of us, a good turn out. James explained that for the actual team, he would only need three more players - two Chasers and another Beater; however, he was also looking to fill the entire Reserve Team because it never failed that someone on one of the other team would play dirty and a Gryffindor ended up missing a game or two. It would also probably be a good thing to mention that James and Sirius ended up in detention so often they ended up missing at least one game a piece every year.
James had us all split up according to the position we were interested in. There were about fifteen of us interested in being Chasers. James had us go up one on one against Sirius first, seeing how many goals we could make out of ten. I ended up getting eight out of ten because it had only taken me two shots in to figure out how to get past Sirius' defenses. After that, James split us unto groups of three at random making us perform different plays and maneuvers alternating us being First, Second and Third Chaser. I always performed better being Second Chaser because it lifted most of the responsibility off my shoulders and I could focus more on the game.
I had to admit, being on my broom again was like a dream, the freedom, the wind on my cheeks. It had been over a year since I was on my broom on a Quidditch Pitch, and it almost made me want to have my hair down so I could enjoy it fully. On my broom, zooming through the air was where I felt connected with my mother. She had retired from Quidditch just before I started Hogwart's but she always found time in her day to fly for at least an hour. I understood why, it allowed us for a short time to shake off the confines of our structured life and be something other.
It was all too soon for me that James was calling everyone back. Everyone sat down in the grass laying their brooms beside them, stretching out their legs as James conferred with Sirius, Vesper and Mike. After about five minutes, the four of them turned around and James approached, looking over his clipboard and the notes he had taken.
"I just want to take a second to thank all of you for coming out and I can honestly say that I was pleasantly surprised with many of your talents," he said. He cleared his throat and swallowed compulsively leading me to believe that James was not going to get any pleasure out of telling us who did not make the team. "Unfortunately, we only have three open positions on the team, but there is still the Reserve Team and if any of you have been paying attention to Gryffindor Quidditch, you know we'll need it."
A round of chuckles broke out before James continued, "That said, our new Second Beater is… Drew Ketner."
A stocky boy with sandy blonde hair and freckles shot up with a 'whoop!' a couple people to my left. He was grinning like it was Christmas day as he walked over to Mike and high-fived him. James regarded his clipboard again, "Our new Second and Third Chasers are… Elaina Cochran and Jeremy O'Connell."
I'm pretty sure Vesper was more excited about my admittance onto the team than I was from the way she shouted and began dancing in place.
Yes, I know I have horrible updating skills, I'm sorry!
Real life has gotten in the way so much, I'm now working six days a week.... and when I'm not working I'm trying to catch up on my sleep.
I know as you were reading (at least if you've been with me from chapter one) and you got to the part where Elaina talks about the Cruciatus Curse being inflicted on her, I'm sure you thought to yourself "I don't remember that!" ... That's because it originally didn't happen. But I went back and fixed "Survivor" so it fits.
In case anyone reads my next generation fic I have posted on here, you'll recognize Vesper's name. They're not the same girl... for the most part. I decided that I really liked the character I made for her, so I duplicated her into my other story.
That's all I've got today!
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