The black high heels were pinching her feet.
Instead of this being a problem however, Dorcas enjoyed it. Though it didn’t feel nice,
the physical pain was comforting. Bearable.
It was the emotional pinch (that was actually much more like a Crucio) that Dorcas couldn’t handle. Physical pain she was used to. This was a war she was fighting in, and physical pain was part of the package.
For the most part however, up until now Dorcas had escaped the emotional pain. This was a time when it was beneficial that she wasn’t close to anyone. When people went missing, it stung a bit, but she moved on easily.
When the most important thing in your life was gone, it was a bit more of a challenge.
Trying to zip the black tweed dress was another challenge, but Dorcas had plenty of time. Amber’s funeral wasn’t for another hour and a half, and leaving now would only give Dorcas more time to stare at the small wooden box and try to suppress the overwhelming urge to vomit.
No, going at all would be difficult enough. The last thing she needed was to be early.
If Dorcas had her way, there wouldn’t be a funeral, and even if there was one, she certainly wouldn’t be attending. However, Amber was being buried as a muggle and Dorcas didn’t have it in her to leave an entire church full of muggles unprotected with the distinct possibility of a Death Eater attack.
Focusing on her job was perhaps the only thing keeping her alive at this particular moment.
However, even her job, the most stable thing in Dorcas’ life, was causing such difficulty
lately. Being an Auror meant she had to protect people. The very aspect which she had loved so much at the beginning now made her knees go weak.
What was the good in protecting people when she didn’t protect Amber?
To Dorcas at least, the main purpose of becoming an Auror wasn’t to protect all the citizens of the wizarding world. Her main focus was to improve the future for only one, and now she was gone. There seemed to be little tying her to her career choice, and sometimes she just wanted to give up being an Auror all together.
She had enough in savings that she was confident she would be fine without working for at least a little while if she was careful how she spent her galleons. And if she didn’t have to work, it would give her much more time to hunt down the people responsible for what happened to Amber.
Dorcas shook her head, as if by doing so she could eliminate those thoughts from her own mind. As much as she wanted revenge, and she would
have it, now was not the time to think of such things.
Today was Amber’s day, a day focused on her and celebrating who she was and who she should have been. It would already be the most difficult day of Dorcas’ life without the added problem of ruminating on how to hunt down and kill the entire Death Eater population.
Dorcas milled about her flat for another 45 minutes, cleaning idly, anything to keep her mind from wandering and give her hands something to do. It was one of the only things she had inherited from her mother, the desire to clean as a distraction. Over the past few days, Dorcas had found that distraction was key to her survival.
The first day after Amber died, she didn’t get out of bed. She laid there, trapped in her own mind, unable to stop replaying that day. She was physically incapable of movement, so she just stayed still and her thoughts almost swallowed her whole. Eventually, exhaustion took over and she had about an hour of sleep, dreaming of what had happened.
The next day, she managed to get out of bed to shower and change pyjamas, but that was about it. She now hadn’t eaten since that fateful lunch, and she had vomited the contents of that meal not long after she had finished consuming it. However, there was no desire to eat. She made a decision that day that she would remain in her bed until she just wasted away in peace.
The third day, Mrs. Meadowes showed up, forced her out of the house and to the Ministry to apply for a leave from work. Dorcas wasn’t quite sure how her mother was so pulled together, so calm, but she didn’t really have the energy to question it. It showed exactly how unperturbed she had become with everything around her that she didn’t even question that her mother went to the Ministry of Magic, a place that had terrified her since she was 11 years old.
That afternoon, Dorcas made an active decision. Though she had no desire to live, she couldn’t die yet either. If she allowed herself to waste away now, Amber’s death would go entirely unpunished.
That was unacceptable.
So this morning, the morning of the funeral, Dorcas got herself out of bed. She showered of her own volition, and put on the somber dress her mother had placed out for her the day before. Wasting away wasn’t an option, at least not now, when the people indirectly responsible for Amber’s death walked the streets.
Now that it was time to leave, Dorcas grabbed her parka and headed outside for the cold, wet trek down to the church.
The weather seemed fitting for the day that Dorcas had ahead of her. The sky was grim and grey, and the rain fell slowly but steadily. Had the sun been shining, the weather wouldn’t have appropriately reflected the sadness that this day contained.
Despite her determination to defend her sister’s funeral and avenge her death, Dorcas was entirely unsure about how exactly she was even going to survive this day.
The church came into view, and Dorcas became short of breath. Forcibly, she put one foot in front of the other, but her footsteps were slower now, more deliberate. The muggles on the street passed by her, no one glancing twice at the slim woman struggling to get herself down the sidewalk.
Though each step was a struggle, Dorcas eventually made her way to the front of the doors. There, she halted, unable to convince herself that she had to go inside.
The second that she walked through those doors, front and center would be a glorified box with her sister inside. She didn’t think she could handle that.
She already knew what they would say if they knew what she was thinking. They would tell her she was wrong, that it wasn’t her sister, that it was only a body and that everything that made Amber who she was had left her the moment the curse had hit her small body.
In Dorcas’ opinion, this was bullshit. Her sister’s spirit may be gone, but that didn’t make the body in that box any less Amber. That body was the form Amber had taken for the last 7 years, and if anything represented her better, Dorcas would like to know what it was. That body, it was her sister whether she liked it or not.
She didn’t want to go in the church, she didn’t want to see the casket and she didn’t want to have to face everyone.
Amber was dead because of her, and how do you explain that?
Yesterday, when she went into work, everyone had looked at her like she was going to unhinge at any moment. To be honest, she wasn’t entirely sure she wouldn’t.
As she filled out her paperwork, Mad Eye had sat and watched her silently. It was disconcerting, his penetrating gaze on her, as if he could read her mind and know what she was thinking.
She didn’t envy anyone else who also had to live in her head at the moment.
Then as if trying to prove how well he knew her, he merely stated, “It wasn’t your fault you know.”
Dorcas looked up, stunned, and just continued to stare at him, unsure of what exactly to say next. She didn’t agree with what he had said, but she didn’t really have the strength to argue with him either. She nodded.
“Meadowes,” he said softly, and it was so out of character that it forced Dorcas to meet his eyes, “you were prepared to sacrifice yourself so that she could get away.”
“We all saw how well that plan worked out Mad Eye.” Dorcas snapped, and Mad Eye merely sighed. “Nothing you say is going to convince me that I wasn’t directly responsible for this. I didn’t do enough to keep her safe. Hell, I’m the one who started all of this! You said it yourself once.”
“You could never have predicted what was going to happen Dorcas.” He said, and she flinched. He used her first name, and it made her want to cry. She liked it much better when she was the impersonal Meadowes.
“I should have.” Dorcas whispered, and Mad Eye made a move to come closer to her. Dorcas, positive she couldn’t handle anymore of this right now, signed her name with a flourish.
Without even a glace behind her when she heard Mad Eye call her name, Dorcas walked out of the Auror office.
Now, standing outside the church, Dorcas knew that if anything was going to unhinge her, it would probably be this service.
Suddenly, a horrifying thought occurred to her. Would her sister’s casket be open? She had refused to speak to her mother about the funeral arrangements, so now she didn’t know. Amber’s death, though violent and traumatic to Dorcas, hadn’t been disfiguring. The casket could easily be open.
Now, a new thing was holding Dorcas back from entering the church. This had all been hard enough when she didn’t have to once again look upon the consequences of her own actions.
Feeling like a coward, Dorcas felt her own body betray her, and began to turn around, fully prepared to walk away from the church. She didn’t have to be the Auror here. If she sent a Patronus to Mad Eye, surely he would send someone to watch over her dead sister’s funeral.
Before she could even fully turn around, however, another slim arm linked through Dorcas’. Glancing quickly to her right, Dorcas’ body was racked with a dry sob when she saw the honey blonde curls, so familiar. A large hand rested gently on her other shoulder, and the familiarity was strangely comforting. She looked up, and her eyes met her father’s.
Standing outside the church with her parents on either side of her, Dorcas wasn’t sure what exactly was going to come next. She glanced at her balding father, his normally serene face pain ridden. Her mother’s face held a similar expression.
“Today is a day we can only survive together.” Mrs. Meadowes said softly, and Dorcas felt the tears well in her eyes for what seemed like the hundredth time in the past week. “The three of us may not always see eye to eye, but today is about the only thing we had in common. She would want this.”
Dorcas nodded, and though it went against everything she usually felt, she couldn’t help but be grateful to have both of her parents by her side at that moment. She needed someone to feel close to today.
As if reading each other’s minds, what remained of the Meadowes family simultaneously took a deep breath, and together, made the final, hardest steps into the small church.
Over the next half an hour, the church filled slowly with people. Dorcas sat in the pew with her parents, as she knew she should, and while their presence was a relief, it was suffocating at the same time. She couldn’t look them in the eye, the guilt was overwhelming.
Even just being in the church was such a challenge, and Dorcas was regretting coming at all. The ceremony started, and she found herself unable to concentrate. Though her sister’s casket was closed (apparently her mother was unable to face her dead child any more than Dorcas was), its very presence dominated the room.
At this point, the minister was droning on, saying all the correct kind words about Amber. It made Dorcas want to puke.
This man didn’t know her sister. He would never truly understand what the world lost. He couldn’t properly convey the tragedy that had struck. His mild mannered words did nothing but make Dorcas angry.
He didn’t know that she got grouchy when she was sick, or threw a tantrum when the different foods on her plate touched. He didn’t know that she loved broccoli and chocolate frosting, or that her best friend’s name was Mary.
This man didn’t know Amber at all, and it was immensely frustrating to Dorcas that he was even pretending to.
After only a few moments, she couldn’t look at him anymore. Using a skill she had honed so carefully over years of schooling, she tuned him out, choosing instead to focus on the other side of her sister’s coffin. Her mother grabbed her hand, and for the first time since she was a small child, she didn’t pull away.
By default, refusing to meet the minister’s eye had her gazing at the beautiful flower displays that had all been placed carefully to the right of Amber’s coffin. Dorcas deliberately didn’t let her eyes wander even the slightest bit to the left. She couldn’t handle it.
Inexplicably, Dorcas felt drawn to one particular bouquet of flowers. The roses were a brilliant red, and the stems a vibrant green. Upon her close examination, Dorcas noticed each of the flowers still had their thorns.
Without knowing why, Dorcas spent the rest of the short ceremony transfixed on the flowers. She didn’t feel it when her mother squeezed her hand at the end of the eulogy, or notice the people slowly filing out of the church. It wasn’t until she felt her mother slowly disentangle their fingers that she noticed she was in the church alone.
Now held back by nothing, Dorcas felt herself approaching the bouquet, almost against her will. She was entirely unsure as to why she was so fascinated, but she knew something wasn’t right.
As she got closer, Dorcas couldn’t help but notice the small condolence card attached to the side of the flowers.
The parchment was heavy, and the handwriting was elegant. The ink was blood red.
Her mouth went completely dry, and Dorcas rushed the last few steps.
Unceremoniously, she yanked the note off, the sense of dread overcoming all else. She just couldn’t believe this was real. She would have to read the words before she was convinced.
It is unfortunate that you were struck with such tragedy last Tuesday. My deepest condolences for what is surely a devastating loss.
Infuriated, Dorcas ripped the note into tiny pieces.
Today of all days, Bellatrix was mocking her. She didn’t even pause to think, and before she knew it, she found herself outside of the house of a suspected Death Eater she had been looking into last week, before the incident.
Though she knew it certainly wasn’t her best plan, Dorcas was far too blinded by anger to consider the possible ramifications of what she was going to do next. She was going to go in there and demand answers. And if the answers she was looking for weren’t here, she was going to move to wherever they were.
Grabbing her wand from her purse, she aimed in front of her, and before she could even really think about it, she blasted out a window. Determination in each of her steps, she moved closer towards the house.
She was cold.
She was calculating.
She was cruel.
But most of all, Dorcas Meadowes was angry.
“Damn you Meadowes!” Mad Eye shouted at her in his office. Before Dorcas would’ve been upset her mentor was angry at her. She had always been the type to follow rules carefully. Now, she just didn’t care.
“You can’t just go completely against Ministry protocol and invade Death Eater’s houses without back up Meadowes. What is wrong with you? You could have gotten yourself killed! And this isn’t even the first time you’ve done it! It’s the third time this month!” Mad Eye growled, but he wouldn’t meet Dorcas’ eye. “Are you trying to get yourself fired?”
“If we’re being completely honest Mad Eye, I couldn’t possibly care any less.” Dorcas replied, and the older man looked at her in shock.
“Listen Meadowes, I know what happened last month hit you hard.” Mad Eye began. “But you’re throwing your entire career away here.”
“I’m sorry Mad Eye, but I can’t do this anymore.” Dorcas replied, and if Mad Eye had been shocked before, it was nothing compared to now. “You haven’t been letting me fight. I’m not accomplishing anything. And I swear to God next time I see one of those bastards I’m going to kill them. No questions asked.”
“Well that certainly won’t fly with the Minister.” Mad Eye replied, and Dorcas nodded somberly, because she had known this time was coming. She had certainly thought about it a lot.
“I know Mad Eye, that’s why I quit.” Dorcas said, and Mad Eye looked like he wanted to jump across his desk and strangle her. Dorcas wished she could bring herself to care. About anything really.
“You’re going to let them win?” Mad Eye growled, and Dorcas turned bright red.
“Absolutely not.” She declared angrily, and Mad Eye looked confused. “I’m not going to lie to you Mad Eye. The people who killed my sister are going to pay dearly for what they did. There is nothing in this world I care about anymore, and I’m not going to stop until I’m dead. But I can’t accomplish everything I need to within the confines of the Ministry.”
Mad Eye nodded. “Well, as your mentor and a Ministry employee, I have to inform you that vigilante action will not be tolerated Meadowes.”
Dorcas only nodded in response. She had been expecting this. She went to leave.
“Meadowes.” Mad Eye said simply, and Dorcas turned around. Mad Eye was looking her directly in the eye, unflinching. “I know you’re going to catch those bastards. Make them pay.”
“Don’t worry Mad Eye.” Dorcas replied. “Voldemort himself will pay, even if it’s the last thing I do.”
A/N: Another chapter down! Wow. I feel like the remnants of the story that is my baby are flying by me in the blink of an eye.
I think this story will probably only have 3 or 4 chapters left!
I’d love to hear what you think about what has happened so far! Please review, or come visit my MTA page!