Chapter 10 : Act 8 - The secondary effects of shockwaves (part 2)
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Act 8 – The secondary effects of shockwaves (part 2)
Fear is a wonderous thing. It makes you coil into yourself, it makes you whimper. It makes all the worst parts of you shine into the light of day. It brings you forth until you see yourself in your black mirror
It all happened so fast it was almost like falling into a nightmare.
All Anya heard was a high-pitched sound and then she felt herself being sucked backwards inside something that came to surround her like a translucent bubble. She barely caught a glimpse of it when an extraordinary force hit her out of nowhere, so strong that Anya flew backwards and smashed against the wall three feet behind her.
Her back and her head were the first parts of her to make contact with the unmovable surface. The pain was sharp and sudden but thankfully, it lasted very little. Everything got dark and quiet right after that for a moment or two.
When Anya came back, the screaming and explosions were like sounds coming off a badly tuned radio. She felt light-headed , like she had had too much to drink. Her body felt disconnected, the pain in her limbs dull, as if not really hers. Sluggishly, she touched the back of her head, and it came back soaked red. The vividness of her own blood made everything spin faster. Anya stopped looking at it and instead tried to focus on moving. On looking in front of her, to try to remember why everything hurt…
The thoughts in her head were messy and disconnected.
The hit, yes. Bellatrix moving under the table.
Damage control time: Even now, the thought of breaking a limb was worse than anything else. A couple of years ago, Bellatrix had promised her: ‘… next time, I’ll break both your legs…’
Funny, she’d failed. Both her legs her fine.
Anya’s head cleared a bit, enough to recognize Alicia’s pink sweats, somewhere near to her right. But Ali refused to keep still and Anya kept seeing two of her. The next to be noticed was the figure of a man – planted in front of her like a living shield. He moved constantly, but not away from her. Anya had to make herself remember again why she was on the floor. Her brain felt drunk, stoned… concussed.
Bellatrix… Who was currently away from her, almost at the door of the pub.
But Anya knew now that she was in the middle of a duel and she couldn’t just stand there and do nothing; she had to find somewhere to hide, something to protect herself with. Spells kept flying around like small explosions and pieces of wall and wood kept being blasted off and raining like small daggers on the people in the pub.
Screams – a lot of them. They pierced her brain like alarms.
A crazy, high-pitched laugh sliced the air and for Anya there was another round of abuse by something she could neither see nor fight against: She felt like she was being hit with the force of a giant hammer. Anya was thrown back against the wall once… fell down hard on the floor, trying to protect her head with her hands…
But she didn’t even have time to draw a breath when again, the unbelievable discharge of energy hit her and again bashed her entire body against the hard wall for the third time. Anya didn’t even have voice enough to whimper. She fell on the floor again and her cheek hit the wood surface hard. Her teeth rattled. Her shoulder hurt so badly that she thought she’d dislocated it. There was a terrible pain somewhere along her ribcage that made every breath pure agony…
It wasn’t been like being hit with a direct spell. More like… like being inside a purse when someone was banging it against the wall. The impact of her flesh against the wall hurt just the same, but that was the only one Anya felt. The bubble around her – by now Anya had realized it was a shield – had absorbed force of the initial impact. But from the blunt power of the spell, it shook and ended up pounding against the wall – along with the person it protected.
Her suffering was not to end just yet… Anya should have known. Bellatrix would not leave until she got a scream.
Out of nowhere, Anya felt as if an immense force was crushing her. Gravity 50 times stronger, trying to spread her on the floorboards as if she were butter on hot toast. Anya struggled against it to no avail. The pressure she felt was immense, as if she was under 10 thousand tons of water, being squished under a whale… the pressure so strong that she couldn’t even fight against it to fill her lungs with air…
She couldn’t breathe and the rib that had burned a little before, now was a hot poker in her chest. Her insides felt like they were going to burst out of her every pore.
Her head would explode from all the pain… a chainsaw in her brain, a thousand needles in her ears, eyes melting in their sockets, the pain, the pain, the pain would kill her… stop stopstop please…
And then, just as it had come, it lifted!
And Anya sobbed her despair and sucked the air in her burning lungs with all the strength she had, tears and blood staining the wooden floor. Breathing hurt, air was like tiny needles, but she inhaled sharply again and again - and coughed blood, almost choked in it. She sobbed, in the jaws of the kind of despair unlike any she had ever know.
For a moment she hated life and the oxygen filling her lungs. Hated ever being born. Now that she was breathing again, death didn’t seem so bad, even as she had held on tooth and nail to life when her eyesight was fading, not a moment ago…
The next second everything went quiet. The repeated screech and blast that sounded like multiple car accidents died out as quickly as it has started, leaving no echo of itself behind, as if it had been sucked out of this dimensions. The deafening silence was worse. It was a silence woven with the whimpers of the people around her and it pressed against Anya’s ears, it hurt so badly, as if it was trying to break through her eardrums into her brain and liquefy it out of her ears.
Anya tried to quiet herself, gather back her pieces. Everything – oh God… everything hurt… -but the tears had stopped. She tried to move but her muscles protested like they never had before. There was blood in her nose and blood in her throat – breathing was a gurgling mess. The metallic taste in her mouth made her want vomit, but she tried hard to keep it down because she was honestly afraid that her insides would pour out. The buzzing in her ears didn’t stop, not even when the shimmery barrier around her was lifted.
After that, she wasn’t seeing her surroundings through a fuzzy screen and at once she closed her eyes and tried to cower away. The whimpers and groans around her got louder and Anya couldn’t stand them. She pressed her hands on her ears to block the sounds out, to keep everything out, only succeeding in causing herself more pain.
Anya flinched away from the hand that touched her, but it was Alicia’s voice that made her open her eyes. Alicia was bleeding from the brow and had a strange blue thing on her arm. But it was the look on her face that scared Anya the most: she as completely terrified.
“Calm down, she is fine.” a gruff voice said.
Anya didn’t recognize it, but to her hurting ears the voice felt like a blow.
“She’s bleeding from everywhere, how is that fine?” The hysteria in Alicia’s voice was contagious.
Anya’s breathing accelerated. She was bleeding from everywhere?
“Relax or shut up kid. You’re scaring her.” The man said harshly. “Do something useful and go see if anyone’s hurt. Be quick, the ministry will be here any minute and we have to leave before that.”
Alicia looked at the man helplessly, but saw the logic of the order and did as she was told. When the man turned to Anya, his tone was almost soft.
“Ok, I need you to be calm, alright? Can you hear me? I’m going to check if you have any broken bones now.”
Anya had seen him before, she knew. But right at that moment, she couldn’t remember where. His rough, battle-worn face, his sandy blonde hair were incredibly familiar. As were his calm blue eyes. Anya tried desperately to find her voice. When he touched a particularly sore spot on her shoulder, she finally did.
“My ribs hurt…”
“Did that happen before or after the last hex? Can you remember?”
Could she? Anya couldn’t even tell her arms apart from her legs anymore, the pain was making everything so fuzzy. Which one had been the last hex? The one that made her feel like she was being crushed?
“Before, I think… after I hit the wall…”
But she had hit the wall a lot of times. Everything was blurred together.
“You’re hurting everywhere, aren’t you?” Anya closed her eyes and hope he would understand that was a yes.
“That’s ok. If the last hex hasn’t affected you enough to break anything, then you should be fine. Take this…” The man said taking a yellowish vial out of the internal pocked of his leather jacket. Just as he handed her the vial, Anya remembered who he was: Alastor Moody, Decorated Auror.
Her mother liked him. There was something about Hogwarts… they had been to school together or something…
“… it will take the edge off for a while. I’m going to have to let someone else take care of that bleeding wound in your head and your ribs though, we can’t stay here long enough for me to take care of them.”
Moody neared the vial to her lips and even though Anya didn’t trust him for a second, the doubt didn’t stop her from swallowing the potion. The pain was too great and the will to fight was weaker than ever. But nothing bad happened, on the contrary. Her sight cleared, her headache stopped, her ears stopped thumping in pain at the barest sound. The pain that reverberated up and down her body like an electric current toned down to manageable levels, becoming a dull ache. She could cope with that – she’d had worse after a particularly strong workout.
Anya took a deep breath and tried to sit up…
“Don’t!” The man above her warned, but he didn’t even have to push her back down because Anya had already slumped back. She had underestimated the pain in her ribs. The suddenness of it almost blinded her. Her breathing became harsh.
“Don’t move. I will carry you, so stay put.” He was fumbling with his pockets when Anya closed her eyes in an attempt to subdue the nausea that was threatening to overtake her.
“Everyone is hysterical and scared shitless, but nobody is hurt except for a few scratches and such.” Anya heard Alicia say. She felt her friends hand as Alicia brushed her bangs out of her eyes. They were stuck to her forehead form sweat and blood.
“I’m going to take you both somewhere safe now.” Alastor Moody said. That brought Anya out of the sleep she was about to fall into. Her eyes snapped open. She had to attempt twice before she was able to talk properly. The words kept jumbling up on the way out.
“You don’t have… Hospital… you should take me…”
“I have orders kid, and the orders say that in case of emergency, you’re to be taken to a safe location.” Then his voice softened a little. “Listen, there is a healer where I’m taking you, so you’ll be fine, I promise.”
Anya tried to make him stop, to say something more, but breathing in and out, concentrating on not throwing up and keeping her eyes open – all those things were taking up too much of her energy.
She was so tired…
Moody was holding out an old pen and Alicia instantly understood where this was going.
“Hold up a sec. I’m not taking a portkey with a stranger to God knows where.” Alicia said at once. Anya couldn’t agree more and all at once she was grateful that she had someone like Alicia there, who always said what Anya wished she could say…
Moody turned to glare at Alicia, who held her own admirably.
“If you’d ducked and stayed out of it like I told you to, you wouldn’t be this shit right now.” He grumbled.
Alicia had the audacity to glare back at him, but she didn’t say anything. Moody muttered something that sounded a lot like ‘bloody stubborn’. Alicia’s outrage was so comical. Anya chuckled, and felt her eyes rolling in the back of her head as she did.
… oh the relief that sleep would be…
Alicia looked down, panicked. “She’s laughing?”
Moody’s frown deepened even more if that was possible. “She’s under shock. We have got to go, now!”
The pen in his hand glowed blue – he snatched Anya’s hand and put it on the portkey at the same time that Alicia reached for it.
The moment after, they had vanished.
Moody landed hard on his knees but the momentary shock of the hit didn’t even register - he had been expecting it. Which was why he didn’t move his hand from under the kid's head. The last thing she needed was another concussion. That godammed head-wound of hers wouldn’t stop spurting out blood!
Everything had been such a bloody disaster! He couldn’t believe he'd been so fucking stupid.
He'd been told to protect Anastasia Rain at all costs, but his priority number two was always to keep a low profile. Kate had been clear that she didn’t want her daughter to find out that she was being watched. But he had been wrong to act in the last moment, he’d been so wrong! He should have disarmed Black and Lestrange the second they showed their face. God he hated that psychotic bitch.
Moody felt an overwhelming need to rub his face raw...
Fuck him to bloody hell, Kate would skin him alive for letting this happen to her daughter!
“The Potter house? This is your safe location?”
That irritating kid's voice – a McKenzie none the less, go figure - reminded him that she was tagging along. He'd had had to bring her, she was too involved now. That stubborn kid had even taken part in the duel! Whether she wanted to or not, she had chosen a side now...
Moody didn’t dignify her with an answer, because in that precise moment Anya contorted in his arms, and as she shook all over, a weak whimper escaped her lips, right before she went completely limp. As he looked her over, he felt the grip of panic getting tighter around his neck.
God... she looked so much like Kate it was nerve-wracking.
And seeing her so hurt and drenched in blood was not doing him any good. For the first time in years, he was almost shaking. The sudden stillness and quiet of the kid scared him for a moment. She'd fainted…
His heart lurched in his chest.
He picked Anya up and practically ran towards the Potter’s back door, Alicia hot on his heel. He kicked the back door open so hard that it almost flew off its hinges. Somewhere else inside the house he heard something smash and a second later, the sounds of multiple steps coming down stairs.
Moody did the first thing he could think of: yelled his head off.
“Dorea! It’s me, I need your help!”
Dorea Potter wasn’t too far away. As Moody entered the corridor that connected the kitchen with the rest of the house, she practically ran out of the living room, looking pale and alarmed – but she was quick into action when she saw him, instinctively going to check the girl in his arms.
This wasn’t the first time Moody showed up on her doorstep with someone that needed medical attention, but he’d never broken in like a savage before. The rumble from the stairs that made Moody think of a crowd running down – even though he knew very well that it could only be two boys too surprised to think of apparition.
“What happened?” Dorea asked, her tone clipped as he put Anya on the bed. The guest room on the first floor had been turned into an improvised medical quarters.
“Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange. One of them tried to hit her with an ‘Ubi immensa’ . And she hit her head at least three times before that. The other one is fine – I took care of it.”
Moody kept his distance as Dorea put salts under Anya’s nose. The kid shook and moaned weakly, her eyes peeled open, her breathing picking up irregularly, moaning.
Moody clenched his fists so hard he felt his nails dig in his palm.
He shouldn’t have let her faint. He should have kept her awake, by all means necessary. He couldn’t deny to himself that he had forgotten to tell the kid – to warn her – that she should stay awake. She undoubtedly had suffered a concussion and he’d been so bloody stupid… Moody stopped the mental tirade trying to take a deep breath and calm his thoughts. But the anger at himself remained. It had been a rookie mistake, one that he had never made - not even when he had been a rookie. If this girl came out of this in any way harmed, it would be his fault, not Bellatrix’s.
“What is wrong with her?”
Moody turned and looked down on the McKenzie girl. Since he had started keeping tabs on Anya, he’d had the chance to get to know her best friend as well. Alicia McKenzie… Moody still couldn’t believe it, how she had jumped into that duel without the barest hesitation, gracelessly, but making up for her inexperience with amazing fierceness.
But now, looking at her friend bloodied and moaning, she looked frightened – a reaction that in his weeks of seeing her around, he had never witnessed before.
“The hex she was hit with is designed to break every bone in your body, and when it doesn’t succeed in that, it can still make the main vessels in the human body explode.” Moody explained in a steady tone.
McKenzie sucked in a harsh breath.
“Dorea is a good healer, I’m sure the kid will be fine.” He said through gritted teeth. He wished he believed it…
“What the…” James’s voice was too close and it made Alicia almost jump off her skin when she heard him. He was right by her side, at the doorframe of the room where Anya was being taken care of. Black was a second away, looking more tired and worn out than she’d ever seen him. He had a black eye, a busted lip and a cut on his nose, as well as minor bruises all over his face.
“What the hell happened to you?” James asked, looking at Alicia with wide eyes that scanned her up and down with something akin to worry. Black leaned around her to look inside the room, and Alicia saw how his eyes widen at the sight, the shock of it making his breath hitch. James looked in too – in Alicia’s opinion, the ‘bloody hell’ he murmured didn’t quite cover it.
“Bellatrix Black and Rodolphus Lestrange happened.” Alicia murmured, still looking at Anya.
She missed the way Sirius and James’s eyes snapped in her direction because right in that moment, Anya was take by a violent coughing fit – Alicia was horrified when she saw her friend cough up so much blood that she looked like she was going to drown in it.
Anya had been bleeding from both her ears, mouth and nose… and there were strange dark marks on her skin, like bruises but not quite. She’d spent enough time in St Mungos to know it for what it was.
Internal bleeding, a small voice inside her head whispered.
“What happened to her?” James’s voice was now calmer. Before Alicia could begin to explain, she was pushed aside roughly by the same man who had just saved her neck.
“Hey!” Alicia protested, but the Auror didn’t even bother to glance at her twice. He closed the door behind himself, so careful not to make any noise that the gesture looked improbable and distinctively in contrast with the aggressive expression painted on his face and his rough manners.
“Quiet.” Moody said firmly. “Now… You two go back upstairs, and take her with you. Keep her there until Dumbledore arrives.”
“What?! I am not your prisoner!” Alicia hissed, barely containing her indignation. She was still clutching her wand and immediately stepped away from Potter and Black. Instead of ignoring her existence, this time the man limited himself to glaring at her, irritated.
“Relax, would ya? Dumbledore will talk to you, tell you what you got yourself mixed into and then send you home.”
Alicia wanted to argue, but she had nothing smart to say. No matter what happened, she knew that nothing bad would take place as long as she was in Professor Dumbledore’s hands… but she still wanted to make clear that she hadn’t been subdued that easily.
“When will this goo come off my arm anyway?” She looked at the blue mousse-gel-thing that covered her entire left arm from shoulder to wrist.
“When your burns heal.” The man said simply before starting to walk away. “Sorry about the door James. Say hello to your father for me.” Moody was out of their sight before James could open his mouth.
For a few moments, an uncomfortable silence reigned between the three teenagers, who simply looked at each other without knowing what to do.
Then James decided to break the awkwardness.
“We just keep meeting in the strangest situations don’t we?” He said, with a barely there smile. “You need anything? To eat or drink…”
“I’m alright thanks.” Alicia said. She didn’t want anything to do with food at the moment, and though she was tired she just couldn’t stand still. The adrenaline was still flooding her veins, making her restless.
James nodded towards the staircase. “Come on up then.”
The three of them went to the second floor and ushered Alicia into one of the guestrooms. He wondered briefly if they should leave her rest – she looked awful and was even bleeding… but the blazing need to know what happened was stronger.
“I could heal that for you I you want.” Sirius offered, looking at the cut on her forehead. The reluctance in his voice was palpable. He’d never liked Alicia and she’d never liked him, but this was not one of those situations. This was real life – and looking at her bleed made holding on to superficial resentments felt childish.
“Yes please. It’s starting to sting really bad.” Alicia said and let Sirius point his wand at her forehead. Instantly, she felt the burning ache subdue almost entirely. Afterwards, James handed her a little vial of transparent potion.
“It’s for your headache, and any other muscular pains. It’ll make you feel better, but might also cause light-headedness.”
Alicia took that also, unable to help a little smirk.
“Experienced huh? How many times have people showed up at your doorstep bleeding?”
James didn’t react visibly. He was used to small lies to protect the Orders activity. Even though Dumbledore wouldn’t let him or Sirius join yet, they couldn’t keep them entirely in the dark – after all, some of the meetings took place in his own house and Sirius practically lived there.
James shrugged carelessly. “Not that many, but it has happened before. My mum is one of the best healers in England. People come here for help sometimes.”
“What kinds of people?” Alicia’s suspicion grew with every second that passed.
“People like yourself and your friend.” James didn’t allow that occasion to pass him by. “What happened to you two?” He asked, keeping his tone disinterested.
Alicia looked at him carefully, not without suspicion and he remembered how at school, she prided herself on being a living bullshit detector.
“I’ll tell you, if you tell me why Anya and I were send here instead of at St Mungos.”
“We’ll tell you what we know, which isn’t much.” James said calmly. Alicia scrutinized him hard, trying to tell if he was playing her or not… only to realize that it was useless. She was aching to understand what had happened back in that pub, but really it wasn’t that hard to guess.
Bellatrix had attacked Anya to intimidate her mother. She’d even said so: ‘a message for your mother…’
What Alicia wanted to know was something else: This house was a safe location, according to what that man had said. The question was what was it that this house was safe from. Who had been that man protecting Anya? Why had he been there? It sure hadn’t been dumb luck, he’d literally appeared out of nowhere!
Alicia took a deep breath. Anya’s screams back at that pub, as if she was being ripped apart…it had been a sound that Alicia had never heard before – those screams still echoed in her ears. She took a deep breath and it came out as a long sigh.
“Ok then… here it goes.”
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