Chapter 2 : Chapter 2: In the past
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Roxanne's eyes wandered over his face and she gulped nervously as she looked into Albus' green eyes. They were still dull and glazed over, his pupils dilated. As she saw those lifeless eyes, it suddenly hit her. Why hadn't she realized sooner? She had behaved like an amateur. Roxanne raised a hand and cautiously put it on Lorcan's hand, who still pointed his wand at her cousin. She gently pushed his arm down.
"It wasn't him," she whispered softly. Her gaze snapped back at her cousin. He somehow had stopped all activity but now stood there with an empty expression on his face. He didn't even look at her but seemed to just stare vacantly in front of him.
Lorcan turned his head and stared at her. "What…?"
As an answer, Roxanne just uttered her words, "Take a good look at him, Lorcan. What do you see?"
Lorcan's eyes widened and darted back to his friend.
"He's been…?" he asked deeply shocked. "That’s impossible. How could they have got to him?"
Roxanne shrugged her shoulders, grim expression on her face. This didn't sit right with her. All her senses were on high alert. She turned and quickly scanned her surroundings.
They stood alone in the middle of a hall-like room. The floor and walls were made of stone. Countless pillars flanked the walls and grew towards the high ceiling, melting together in round arches. Huge windows were set into the thick stone walls. Their glass had once been coloured beautifully but layers upon layers of dust had turned it opaque. Only dull light managed to penetrate the blind glass. On the far end of the room, the dreary sun shone through a round window. Its rays died even before they reached the broken altar which stood under the window. A golden cross had once proudly been attached to the wall behind the altar, but it had broken from its mounting and now lay, burst in two, on the floor. The gold colour had flaked off the wood long ago and now the sad pieces only gathered dust. As if swept away by a hurried hand, wooden remnants of pews lay in a mouldering pile in a corner.
Everything was broken and covered by dust. The place looked like it had not seen any human presence for years, which wasn’t too strange if you thought about it. Roxanne balled her hands into tight fists as she let her gaze travel over the church. Seemingly, it was abandoned and empty.
Looks were deceiving, though, and Roxanne could sense it. Their magic, their craft, was thick in the air. When she squinted her eyes, she could even see a sheen emanating from the stone walls and the high ceiling. It was almost imperceptible and cleverly woven into the stone, but Roxanne could see it gleaming in a dull green light. One should always be careful, cautious and a observer; common sense was the best tool in anyone's arsenal in this world. There was no better time to exercise that common sense now, when they were at a greater risk than they had been for many years.
They needed to leave. Now! She threw a concerned glance at her friends. Her cousin still stood where they had left him, his dead looking eyes staring into space. Lorcan eyed his surroundings with an alarmed expression on his face. Roxanne was sure he could also see the threatening film that covered everything. He also knew they were in great danger. Roxanne took a step towards Lorcan and grabbed his hand.
"We need to leave," she whispered urgently.
He only nodded at her, unease clear on his face. Roxanne took a hold of Albus' hand which lay unresponsive in hers. Holding tightly to her friends, Roxanne twirled on the spot. She gasped softly as the dark pressure of Apparition did not want to welcome her. Instead of disappearing from this place, they ran into what felt like a solid wall.
"What's wrong?" Lorcan asked nervously.
"Shit. I don't know," Roxanne replied shakily. "I can't apparate. You try!"
Roxanne heard a soft gasp coming from Lorcan. “ Roxanne, I can’t…” he whispered, fear ridging his voice.
This wasn't possible. Panic started to tug at her. Roxanne closed her eyes, grabbed her wand and summoned all her magic. It crackled around her forcefully. But as soon as it came into contact with the green light, her magic recoiled. There was an incredibly strong ward spun over the whole church. Never before had Roxanne encountered magic like this. However hard she tried, she was not able to overwhelm it.
"It's a ward," she informed Lorcan breathlessly. "I can't take it down."
"I really don't like this," he replied softly. "We should leave."
Roxanne nodded. She threw a glance at Albus. He still stood at the same spot and hadn't moved an inch. Maybe he knew what this was about?
There's no time for this, a cold voice warned. Roxanne threw in a breath of air and collected her thoughts. This was not the time to panic. Decidedly, she grabbed Albus' hand and started to pull him over to the huge oaken doors which hopefully led out of this place.
"We are leaving the Muggle way. We can’t risk using portkeys. Keep your wand and weapons out," Roxanne ordered and turned to Lorcan.
He nodded and made to follow her, his eyes still flying nervously around the church. Then he whispered, "Hope the gate's not lock-"
He couldn't finish his sentence as suddenly sharp cracks echoed through the empty church.
Shit! Bloody hell!
Strangely colourless magic seemed to gather at a point just above the altar, spinning faster and faster.
Roxanne and Lorcan took a wary step away as suddenly that vortex exploded in a surge of blazing bright light. As the vortex collapsed it ripped a hole into the air. Through that portal, powerful magic, if you could call it that, was pouring into Roxanne's world. Her whole body trembled as she was confronted with such quantities of seemingly dark magic she had never seen before .
At first nothing happened. The portal still hovered there, looking like a wound ripped into another dimension. Dark angry magic was bleeding from that wound. Suddenly a terrifying screech ripped through the silence. Roxanne felt her heart hammering away in her chest. Hand already half raised, her body froze in horror as she stared at the scene before her
She swallowed nervously as she could see something moving in the darkness of that portal. There was another angry screech, now closer. Slowly a figure detached itself from the portal. Roxanne felt her hands shake as she was hit by a wave of dark magic. It painfully wandered over her body and the fury behind that magic made her breathing hitch.
With wide scared eyes Roxanne watched as a woman appeared in the portal. Her body was still shrouded by darkness, but Roxanne could see her face. She was beautiful. Her smooth skin was white like porcelain, without any flaw. She had full rosy lips and her high cheekbones were only increasing her exotic beauty. Her fair face was framed by jet-black wispy hair.
Even though she was the most beautiful woman Roxanne had ever seen, that otherworldly beauty made cold chills darting down her spine.
The woman's face did not mirror any emotions. As if chiseled from marble, there was no movement on that face. Not even her eyes showed anything. Roxanne shivered as she looked into the woman's eyes. They had no resemblance to a human being. There were neither pupils nor irises, instead her eyes were two pitch-black orbs. They looked unnatural and out of place on that face. It was wrong.
With strangely abrupt movements, the woman made to come out of the portal. Roxanne gasped in fear as she saw the rest of the woman's body. Her torso was bare and as unblemished and soft as her face. Starting from the skin at her shoulders and her stomach, shiny dark feathers grew on the woman's body. Their pitch-black colour clashed with the paleness of her skin. Where her arms should have been, strong wings were folded against her smooth body. The woman's lower body was completely covered by the same black feathers. Half woman half animal, the creature looked like a twisted image of a powerful bird of prey.
Gracefully the bird-woman detached herself from the portal and landed on the flagstones of the church, the talons of her feet scratching sharply over the stone. Her unfathomable black eyes took in their surroundings, the woman's head following the movement abruptly. Soon her eyes fell on them.
The bird-woman did not react but just stared at them, her eyes strange and inhuman. Suddenly she opened her perfect lips. A harsh screech left her mouth. The sound made Roxanne flinch in fear. Somehow it must have detected that movement. She turned her head and her black eyes fell on Roxanne.
Fear paralysed Roxanne as the woman looked at her and then at Albus. Magic dark as night was swirling around the creature. The bird-woman released another screech. Then she spread her wings and with one powerful stroke of them she raised into the air. Swift as a predator, the bird-woman charged at Albus, talons raised threateningly.
Quickly Roxanne waved a shaky hand. A dark blue spell sped towards it. She could see that Lorcan had done the same, as another dark blue spell sped towards it. The moment their curses reached the woman it just disappeared. The curse's magic was sucked into the aura of dark magic which surrounded it, adding to its power.
Roxanne felt Albus being ripped from her grip. It was bent over him, held him by his hair and its abominable claws wandered over Albus’ hair. Grabbing a fistful, it forced his head back. Roxanne stiffened as she saw it bend further down to him. Slowly, lecherously, it licked over the skin of Albus’ neck. Roxanne shuddered in disgust. Unnerved Roxanne realized that the greenish ward which covered the whole church reacted to its presence. As if welcoming back an old friend the green ward burned up excitedly.
For a moment Albus still looked vacantly in front of him. Then his green eyes cleared up with a new glint of life. He blinked several times and shook his head slightly as if getting rid of dizziness. Roxanne saw how first bewilderment and then shock washed over his face. He struggled against the grip it had on him.
"Wha- what happened?" Albus exclaimed, trying to free himself. "Let go of me!"
His eyes frantically skimmed over the room. With confusion and panic in his eyes, he spotted Lorcan.
"What's going on?" he whispered, fear ridging his voice.
"C- calm down, Al," Lorcan stuttered in a shaky voice. "Everything's going to be alright."
Of course it didn't calm Albus down at all. His wide eyes jumped from Lorcan to Roxanne.
Albus continued struggling against it. "What is going on?"
Roxanne's stomach constricted painfully as she stared at him. She or Lorcan needed to save her cousin. She felt the tears rolling down her cheeks.
Albus's eyes widened with understanding.
"It’s one of them," he choked out, fear tinting his tone. Albus's eyes widened in horror. His gaze snapped at Lorcan. “Tell me one of them hadn’t had me in control," Albus stammered desperately. "I didn't bring you- I didn't bring you here, did I?"
Lorcan quickly shook his head. "No, Albus. No. It wasn't you. It wasn't your fault. You've been controlled. Don't blame yourself."
Pain crossed Albus's face as he heard him.
"Oh God," he whispered brokenly, his green eyes staring at the both of them, begging for forgiveness. "I'm so… so sorry, Lorcan, Roxanne. I didn't want this. I swear. I wasn’t me."
She tried to smile at him reassuringly. "I know you didn't. It wasn't y-"
It snapped Albus’ head.
"No!" Roxanne screamed, begged and cried.
Albus' eyes widened in shock. He was unprepared. He was not ready to go. A soft surprised gasp left him, then Albus' body grew limp and he sagged down to the floor. He lay on his side, sprawled on the cold stone floor, unmoving and completely still. His eyes were open, disbelief etched into his features. Albus lay there, lifeless and abandoned. Not himself anymore.
Roxanne weakly fell down on her knees. Tears streamed down her face as she stared at her cousin. She couldn't breathe.
He was gone. She knew it. Gone.
She heard Lorcan cry out in pain and shock, but she couldn't make out his words. The only thing she saw were those green eyes in front of her. They were all that existed for her. This could not be true! No! NO! Roxanne's hands balled into fists, her fingernails cutting into her skin. She didn't notice anything around her. Only Albus. She stared at him and she knew he was dead.
Roxanne couldn't think straight, not with those empty green eyes still staring at her. It took her an immense effort to pull her eyes away from Albus' expressionless face. She turned her head and looked up at it, a numb feeling ripping at her painfully. It scanned her, not a hint of compassion on its face.
She gazed back at Lorcan. Lorcan had fallen down beside her body; tears streamed over his cheeks. Roxanne knew no amount of tears or begging would ever convince Albus to come back. He was gone.
But they weren’t. They needed to survive, otherwise Albus had died for nothing. It looked at them and then at Albus.
Roxanne's eyes widened in shock and she could only just leap out of the way. She yelped in pain as she felt a sudden claw grazing her left elbow. It left behind a deep cut.
Roxanne was crouched on the floor, on one knee and both hands. Her heart hammered away in her chest. Another inhuman screech tore from the its lips as it lunged at Roxanne. Roxanne scrambled away. Its talons scraped over the stone, leaving deep claw a powerful beat of her wings it touched off the ground and was airborne again. Lorcan sent a curse at it. Once again his curse was sucked into it.
Running out of harm's way, Roxanne tried to avoid the razor sharp talons which aimed to rip her apart. She ran over to one of the pillars of the church as pain erupted in her back. It felt like someone had drawn a knife across her back. The incredible pain made Roxanne's knees give in. She fell on the floor. A sticky liquid pasted her blouse to her back. Ignoring the blood and the pain, Roxanne scrambled away on the floor. By a hairbreadth she escaped its razor sharp talons. Roxanne rolled away and pressed against the church's pillar, aiming to bring the pillar between it and herself. Roxanne shuddered with exertion, wondering how to destroy the beast.
As if he had read her thoughts, she could hear Lorcans voice echoing through the church, "Killing them is not possible, Roxanne. She will hunt you till you are dead before coming for me. They are only fixed on one victim at a time."
As if to confirm his words, it screeched furiously, its talons angrily scratching into the pillar which kept her from her prey. On all fours Roxanne crawled away. She could feel the air brushing her from the angry strokes of the its strong wings. Magic was completely useless against it and Roxanne did not know how to protect herself. Her back collided with the church's wall and she gasped in pain. She could feel the blood running from the lashes as she pressed herself against the wall.
It had by now rounded the pillar and lunged at Roxanne, talons raised. Roxanne brought up another shield. Again it was useless against its dark magic. Roxanne squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head to the side, awaiting the merciless talons to be rammed into her. Till she felt something slam at her.
Roxanne still lay sprawled on the floor, her heart racing away in her chest. Her breathing was fast, her back hurt intolerably and her body trembled heavily as she raised her head and looked to see Lorcan laying bloodied on the floor and it surrounded by a white, diamond shaped shield a couple of feet away from Lorcan. Roxanne's heart clenched with fear as she heard Lorcan yelp painfully.
Heart racing away in her chest, Roxanne quickly crawled to Lorcan. A terrified sob left Roxanne's mouth when she reached him. There was not a chance he would survive the wounds inflicted on him.
“Roxanne,” he groaned. “Listen, we don’t have much time till my magic ends.”
He reached for a ring hanging on a chain around his neck. Grasping the ring in his hand he said, “Take this. It’s the only way for you to survive this.”
Roxanne bit her lip painfully hard. Tears were starting to run down her cheeks as she clung to him. “It’s impossible for us to survive this,” she sobbed.
He threw in a shaky breath of air. “No, it isn’t impossible for you.” Very slowly Roxanne raised her head and looked up at Lorcan's face.
She found him smiling at her softly.
Her voice broke as she said, “But I can’t leave you. I can’t. I can’t.” Her whole body started to tremble.
“Yes, you can, Roxie. Take the ring and ask for Malfoy. He’ll help you,” Lorcan told her in a gentle voice as he wiped the tears from her face. “I estimate we only have a minute left before it kills us both.”
Roxanne's eyes searched the room until she found that horrible creature standing not far away from them. She shuddered as she watched it. Obviously Lorcan had followed her gaze and soothed her. "It will not get to you if you grab this ring,” He pushed the chain with the ring in her hand. “I activated it for you. It will take you away the moment it gets out of the spell.”
She furrowed her brow, panic swirling through her whole body. "I- I should be the one lying there. It aimed for me." Desperately Roxanne stared up at Lorcan and gestured at her chest. "Me. It’s my fault. Mine. "Fearfully she shied away from him, knowing that he would surely blame her now.
Roxanne stiffened as Lorcan grabbed her shoulders and forcefully turned her around so that she fully faced him. Timidly she looked up into his angered eyes. Then he said in a furious tone, "Don't you ever blame yourself, Roxanne. Don't you ever think that you are responsible for our deaths."
There is blood, and blood, and blood. Blood all over everything. It's on her hands, and clothes, and she can feel it caked and layered on her face. It makes her want to throw up, and so she does. She spits and spits to try and get rid of the long strands of saliva and the horrible taste in her mouth, but it doesn't work.
Her fingers curl in stone and dirt, and she's crawling. Crawling until she manages to get enough momentum up to pull her feet to the ground. There is a cracking in her chest and throat as she strangles air in through all the phlegm and bile, and her heart is like a dead weight in the hole made for it.
"Merlin, help me. I just... Albus. Lorcan." She's starting to edge to hysteria and she knows it, because her tears have made her blind.
Through her tears, she sees a movement, trivial at first, and then the outline of a hood.
"Help!" she screams. "Help me! Lorcan! Albus!” Gasping in air, and reaching out to clutch something, but there is nothing there.
Her eyes drift, and she peels them open, but they drift again as she hears voice just above her. Andromeda Tonks is in her face as she opens her eyes from that dark. "It's alright, Roxanne," she whispers, and Roxanne realizes that they both are crying.
There is a tightness in her chest that soars up into her throat, and it cracks and explodes as she breathes out, and she sobs. Pitiful, broken sounds.
"Albus. Lorcan," she whispers as she remembers what happened and does not know if this was real or if she has lost her mind fully to the war, if you even could call it that.
"It's okay." She heard as arms wrap around her.
It is not.
"Where am I? Where..."
"You are safe. You are at Gringotts. “
An: Second chapter is up. This chapter is beta'ed by Phoenix_Flames So for the people who are confused this story goes like this: a chapter in the present, chapter in Roxanne's past, chapter in the present, chapter in her past and etc. . I had difficulties writing this chapter. I want it to look as realistic as possible but I'm not sure I accompliced that. So what do you think is going on? I'm curious about the guesses.