Previously in Vengeance:
She leaned across the table to tuck the curl back in, and just as she pulled her hand back, she watched as Amber’s eyes went wide in horror and amazement.
Flying towards the table they were sitting at was a jet of bright orange light.
The Reducto curse hit the table, which immediately exploded.
Shards of wood were stuck into Dorcas’ arms, which she had used to cover her face, looking like large splinters. Immediately, her concern jumped to Amber. Her head jerked up, fixing on the little girl sitting a few feet from her.
Dorcas’ breathing resumed when she saw the Amber was unharmed. She had been given only a moment of notice before the spell had hit the table, and had used it to cast a shield spell around Amber.
Upon seeing her sister unharmed, Dorcas breathed for the first time since she had seen the attack coming. Now that she had half a moment to think, knowing Amber had been safe from the blast, a white hot fury filled her veins.
She immediately began an effort to scan for whoever could have attacked, her wand in her hand at the ready. It took only a few seconds before she found a pair of Death Eaters, standing at the edge of the outdoor patio, smirking at their supposed success.
Dorcas recognized both of the men, but wasn’t thinking clearly enough to know either of their names.
With a silent determination and a not so calm rage, Dorcas formulated a plan.
While they were standing, idiotically gloating over their minor victory, Dorcas shot a stunning spell at the larger of the two Death Eaters, Without even enough time to formulate a look of shock, he crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
Dorcas jumped across the table and grabbed Amber roughly by the arm, feeling a twinge of guilt when the little girl yelped in surprise and a bit of pain. Reminding herself that this was more important, she placed Amber behind her, and backed up against a wall, completely shielding the little girl from view.
Now comforted that Amber was safe, Dorcas turned her attention to dealing with the situation at hand. She was furious that this had even happened, blaming herself for being careless.
Leaning back every few moments to ensure that Amber was still ensconced safely behind her, Dorcas braced herself for battle. She was ending this now and anyone who heard about what happened was going to think twice about following this example.
The Death Eater who remained conscious was eyeing Dorcas frantically, unsure of what to do next. He clearly hadn’t planned on taking her on alone, but with his friend unconscious, he now had no choice. He was going to have to duel a very powerful, very angry witch by himself.
He managed to dodge the first spell Dorcas shot at him, but couldn’t move quickly enough to dodge the second, His legs locked together, but before Dorcas could silence him, he had the forethought to mutter the counter curse. He wasn’t however, quick enough to get up.
Only halfway risen, Dorcas hit him again, and his left arm opened wide with a gash. The Death Eater looked at his arm in horror, watching the blood pour from his arm, before scrambling for his wand. Immediately upon finding it, he apparated away, leaving his friend (and his left pinkie finger due to an unfortunate splinching) behind without a second thought.
With the other Death Eater still unconscious on the ground Dorcas immediately turned to Amber, remaining conscious of keeping her shielded with her own slim body, though she knew it would do no good. She would defend Amber with her own life, but if a spell were to hit her, her sister would be defenseless anyways.
Looking down, she noticed that Amber was crying silently, tears running down her cheeks and eyes wide with fear. Crouching down and using the pads of her thumbs, Dorcas wiped the tears away like she used to when Amber was a baby.
Standing again, she pulled the little girl into her chest and stroked her curls gently, humming soothingly under her breath. Amber’s breathing slowed slightly, but Dorcas’ heart was still racing.
It skipped a beat a moment later when Dorcas heard a slight crash. Spinning on her heel rapidly, she turned around just in time to see the previously unconscious Death Eater press a finger to his Dark Mark, glancing fearfully at the chair he had accidentally kicked over in the process of rolling over.
Screaming with rage, Dorcas immediately used a spell and knocked the Death Eater unconscious again, perhaps a bit too violently. His head cracked against the concrete, and a stream of blood began to trickle onto the ground. By the time Dorcas thought to apparate herself and Amber away, it was too late. Other Death Eaters were arriving, responding to the distress call of their comrade.
Using her last free moment, Dorcas sent a Patronus to Mad Eye with only the address of her current location, hoping he would understand the need to send her assistance immediately.
Backing up so much that Amber was literally pressed to both the heavy brick wall behind her and her sister’s body, Dorcas put up a shield spell to protect herself from at least the more minor spells that were sure to be flying in half of a second.
She may have been a good dueler, but even she couldn’t take on 15 Death Eaters at once.
With this in mind, Dorcas began incapacitating those who she thought she might have been able to quickly. She started with the boy who looked no more than 17, and couldn’t help but frown at how he was wasting his life and his potential. He crumpled to the ground half a moment later.
Next she hit the slight statured Death Eater who looked hesitant about being there at all. Immediately afterwards, the female Death Eater peering warily at Amber, hiding behind Dorcas.
As they fell, one after the other, Dorcas gained in confidence. She couldn’t help but to think that perhaps, just maybe she could actually do this. She could hold them off until help arrived.
This wasn’t going to be the end of her life, and she wasn’t going to leave her little sister defenseless to die.
Still, she had over 10 Death Eaters to deal with. Even with this knowledge though, Dorcas was hopeful. She was confident that Mad Eye would be sending help any minute now, and even only 2 or 3 moderately talented Aurors would make getting out of this jam more than reasonable.
Two more Death Eaters fell over the next 3 minutes, but by this point, Dorcas was only barely holding her own, and she was worried that someone was going to get to Amber soon. Amber wasn’t a toddler anymore, and Dorcas was a small woman; it was difficult, if not impossible, to shield Amber from every angle with her own slim body. Taking a few curses, she put a few shield charms around Amber, but they would only do so much in the event of a truly harmful curse.
Dorcas was struggling, even though she was dueling only the most inexperienced of Death Eaters, those clearly sent to tire her out, or capture her as a best case scenario. Still, they had numbers where she had skill. Still, she knew up until now she had been lucky. Their complete lack of skill was the only reason she wasn’t dead right now.
Her luck was about to run out.
Just as Dorcas knocked out the Death Eater she had been dueling most actively, more and more Death Eaters began arriving on the scene. And these were the ones that Dorcas knew by name.
Dolohov, the Carrows, Karkaroff, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy were making their way closer and closer to the active battle, though not doing anything to actively participate. Still, Dorcas didn’t have a good feeling about what would happen next.
“What did I tell you imbeciles!” A shrill voice shrieked, and with Dorcas’ recognition of it came an almost insuppressible urge to vomit. “I told you that the way to get Meadowes was to get the girl! You can’t even follow simple instructions.”
Horrified, Dorcas steeled herself to face Bellatrix, who emerged from the crowd. All dueling had ceased now, and every eye was transfixed on her, her long hair tumbling behind her, her dark beauty both enticing and terrifying at the same time.
Dorcas grabbed the child’s arm and pressed her so close to the wall she gasped as the air was squeezed out of her lungs. As Bellatrix and the other Death Eaters inched closer, it became harder and harder for Dorcas to suppress the urge to hyperventilate.
Panicking, Dorcas tried to think of a way to escape the situation. Where was Mad Eye when you needed him?
She couldn’t apparate, she didn’t have enough time and the spinning would expose Amber, even if it was only for a fraction of a second. She had been struggling before, was worn out, and even if she wasn’t, she didn’t have a chance against the Death Eaters currently present, so that option was out.
It wasn’t looking good.
“Meadowes, it’s really too bad the trap you’ve got yourself caught in right now, isn’t it? And with the lovely Amber out with you as well. You really shouldn’t have been so careless.” Bellatrix said, her voice trying to sound loving and concerned, but it was off. It came off terrifying and psychotic instead.
“Don’t even think about it.” Dorcas said warningly, but Bellatrix looked unconcerned. “You may think you know me Lestrange, but no one knows what I am truly capable of. Stay away from her or you will all find out.”
“See Meadowes, that’s where you are wrong.” Bellatrix said calmly, pacing back and forth in front of Dorcas, her wand dangling carelessly between her fingertips. Dorcas thought about making an attack, but the risks outweighed the benefits. “I know exactly what you are capable of, and it’s not much. I’m not concerned, but you should be. You underestimate me.”
Dorcas wondered to herself, for perhaps the first time, if she did underestimate Bellatrix.
“Oh, Bella love, no one underestimates you.” A suave voice called out, and Dorcas looked warily to see who was approaching. If this was a friend, they could be her saving grace. If it was a foe, her chances had just gotten even slimmer.
“It’s impossible to underestimate a psychopath.” The figure finally emerged, and Dorcas sighed audibly in relief when Sirius Black and James Potter emerged from the crowd, followed by other Order Members. Something had finally turned in her favor.
Bellatrix shot a dark purple hex at her cousin, and he yelped as it zoomed past his head.
“That was not very nice.” Sirius said, a semblance of calm covering his features, but it wasn’t difficult to see how enraged he really was. He and Bellatrix never had been the closest of cousins. He shot an equally nasty looking hex her way.
“Blood traitors don’t deserve kindness.” Bellatrix responded, and their skirmish turned into a fully fledged battle. Potter shot a curse at Malfoy when he appeared to be about to join the conflict between the Black cousins, and that began their duel. Pettigrew and Lupin each also grabbed a Death Eater and began a duel. The rest of the Order and Death Eaters joined in moments later.
During the momentary confusion, Dorcas stunned a few more of the lower level Death Eaters, and the rest scattered. Mind scrambling, she thought desperately in an effort to come up with what she could do to save herself and her sister.
Amber couldn’t get caught up in the middle of this.
Thinking quickly, Dorcas developed a plan, though a rough one. Checking once again to make sure all of the Death Eaters were occupied, she turned to Amber and kissed her forehead briefly.
“I love you so much, you know that, right?” Dorcas said, and Amber nodded in response. “Amber, listen to me closely. I’m going to put a spell on you, and it’s going to feel kind of funny, but you need to trust me. I’m going to try to help us.”
Amber nodded, looking terrified, and Dorcas tried frantically to think, and for it to be clear and logical. She was usually so calm under pressure in the middle of a battle. However, Amber was never there. She brought it all to a totally different level.
“I’m going to put a spell on you that makes you kind of invisible, okay?” Dorcas asked, and Amber nodded. “Then, I’m going to cause a big distraction so you can get away. Amber, when I get everyone’s attention, I want you to run, no matter what you see happen, do you understand me?”
She nodded, but bit her lip nervously. “But what about…” She started to ask, but Dorcas pressed her fingertips to her little mouth.
“Do you trust me?” She questioned, and Amber nodded again, without hesitation. “Then I need you to not worry about me. I want you to run as fast as you can, and the only thing I want you to do besides that is make sure that no matter what, no green light comes near you. It will hurt you. Do you understand me?”
“Yes.” Amber replied in a small voice, and Dorcas was reminded of exactly how young she still was. She was only seven years old, and she wasn’t part of the wizarding world. Dorcas felt sick at how terrifying this must be for her.
“I love you so much baby. I’m so sorry.” Dorcas reminded her, and Amber hugged her tightly, whispering that she loved Dorcas too, before backing up bravely, ready for whatever came next. Dorcas smiled a small smile at how brave her baby sister was.
Not missing the parallel from what could have only been 15 minutes ago (but seemed like a lifetime), Dorcas reached and tucked the same errant curl from before back into the headband, before touching her wand to her sister’s forehead.
She watched as the Disillusionment charm ran down Amber’s small body, and she gradually disappeared. With a gentle shove in the other direction, Dorcas watched Amber’s small pink trainers head slowly away from the battle, until they finally disappeared, the spell complete.
Steeling herself, Dorcas turned her attention back to the battle. Without giving herself a chance to think about what she was doing, she shot a tickling curse at Bellatrix’s back.
Enraged, Bellatrix spun around, and her face transformed from a snarl to a cackling laugh when she saw who had shot the spell at her.
“So Meadowes,” She said evilly, and Dorcas ignored the shivers that ran down her spine. Her instincts were screaming that something wasn’t right, but she ignored them. “You had the chance to finish me off, and you couldn’t even do it then. I always knew you didn’t have it in you.”
Dorcas merely smiled, and shot another curse. Their duel began actively, and with a quick nod, Sirius moved on to someone else, slashing down a Death Eater who had almost cornered Pettigrew.
Dorcas felt a slight movement behind her, and looked around anxiously but saw nothing. Shaking her head angrily to get rid of her paranoia, she turned back to Bellatrix. This battle required all of her attention, and she needed to stop getting distracted.
Just for a reaction, Dorcas blew up a table behind Bellatrix. A large shard of wood stuck itself into her arm and she shrieked, enraged. Dorcas laughed, only to make her angrier. The longer she could keep Bellatrix from realizing Amber was gone, the safer the little girl was.
Though Dorcas didn’t realize it, she had exploded a table that one of the Death Eaters who had scattered earlier was hiding under. She didn’t see him rise, infuriated, a large scrap of wood sticking out of his eye.
She was so focused on Bellatrix, she never saw what happened next.
She didn’t see him pull out his wand, and train it carefully on Dorcas with his good eye. She missed him mutter the Killing Curse under his breath, and the satisfaction that flooded his features when the bright green light left his wand.
She didn’t see the curse head straight for her heart.
Someone else, however, did.
Dorcas did see the honey blonde curls flying in the air, moving too fast for the Disillusionment charm to hide them. Her eyes trained on the curls, and she saw them move in front of her.
But most of all, she saw the bundle of curls and the curse collide.
Both time and Dorcas’ heart stopped at the same time, as the Disillusionment charm failed and Dorcas saw Amber lying immobile on the ground.
Immeasurable pain swept through her, and Dorcas lost all sense of reasoning.
Without even realizing what she was doing, Dorcas released an angry burst of accidental magic so large, the Death Eater who performed the curse collapsed to the ground instantly, dead. She had never killed anyone before. She wasn’t sorry.
Within moments all of the other Death Eaters were apparating away as well, each sporting a grievous wound. Even as they apparated away, however, the attention wasn’t focused on them.
Everyone was transfixed on the scene in front of them as Dorcas Meadowes, one of the toughest Aurors in the department, a girl who wasn’t going to take any of your shit, belly sobbed on the ground, stroking the hair of a small girl.
“I love you so much baby, so much.” She sobbed, picking up the small body and cradling it in her arms, as if she was holding a newborn. “You’re gonna be okay, I just need you to wake up and tell Sissa where it hurts. Talk to me baby, just talk to me.”
All of the Order watched this scene, horrified and unsure of what exactly to do next. The devastation was obvious, but it was equally as clear that what had happened hadn’t sunk in yet, not really.
No one wanted to be the one to truly break the news.
Just as a few of the Order members appeared to be bracing themselves to approach Dorcas, more cracks of apparition were heard. Everyone but Dorcas grabbed their wand, armed for battle.
It was unnecessary however, because the new arrivals were instead every member of the Auror department that Mad Eye had managed to scrape up in the last 20 minutes.
Instantly, both groups dropped their wands, though they were still clearly on edge. Mad Eye strode through the crowd to assess the damage.
First he saw the dead Death Eater, still slumped over the table where he had been hit by Dorcas’ magic. His eyes followed the trail of devastation until he saw the most devastating sight of all.
His favorite cadet, the toughest woman he knew, sobbing, cradling the remains of the only thing she loved on the ground. And he knew without a doubt she was broken.
Swallowing hard, Mad Eye approached Dorcas slowly, cautiously.
When he finally arrived at her side, he crouched down on the ground, wincing slightly when his bad leg creaked with the movement. Dorcas didn’t even notice him.
Putting one hand gently on her shoulder, Mad Eye shook her gently. She looked up at him, blurry eyed, hives erupting on her face and body. A strong, beautiful woman no more, she was nothing but a shell of a girl, desperately trying to turn back time.
With his free hand, Mad Eye reached over and gently closed the bright blue eyes of the dead little girl. Taking his hand off of Dorcas’ shoulder he scooped Amber out of her arms, more determinedly when Dorcas struggled not to let go.
Carefully, he placed the small body on the ground, onto the blanket someone had conjured when he hadn’t been looking.
He turned to Dorcas, who was sitting on the ground, staring desperately at her hands. She looked up at him, and the look in her eyes was so pathetic that he almost didn’t recognize her.
“She’s gone.” He whispered, and it was as if when someone said it, it finally became real. Dorcas turned to the side and vomited all over the ground, her body unsure of how else to deal with the horror and trauma she was currently experiencing.
“No, no no.” Dorcas murmured under her breath as it all sank in. “No, this is all my fault. I told her green was dangerous, and she must not have left when I saw her feet disappear and oh no she can’t be gone!”
Mad Eye merely looked at her grimly, knowing nothing was going to make this go over any easier. He helped her carefully to her feet, and couldn’t help but notice the way her whole body was trembling violently.
He knew that when this truly had time to sink in, there would be no containing the rage and no knowing how she would handle this happening.
“This is all my fault. It should have been me instead.” Dorcas muttered angrily, and Mad Eye said nothing, knowing whatever he said would make no difference, not in her mind. Sometimes it was better to say nothing at all.
Dorcas looked down, and tears welled in her eyes again when she saw the small form crumpled on the ground. She bent over carefully, and tucked an escaped curl into the simple black headband one last time.
Her hand accidentally brushed her sister’s face, and she instantly recoiled. Her skin had been cold.
A shift took place in Dorcas Meadowes in that moment.
Amber had been everything good in her, and now she was gone.
She knew who was responsible for this. And damn it, they were going to pay.
So, this chapter has been really, really hard for me to write. Those last lines were the first that I wrote down for this story, and though I wasn’t sure how I was going to get this far, I knew I had to try.
I wrote this whole chapter in one night, knowing I just had to suck it up and get it out, and that I would feel better afterwards.
So here it is. And the next chapter is about halfway done as well.
I’d love to hear what you thought about it, whether through a review or, if you’d like to discuss it further, on my brand new MTA page.
Thanks for reading.