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Chapter 1 : almost.
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"You wanted to see me, Professor Dumbledore?"
A red streak of light shot past Mary's elbow and she whirled around with a retaliation, hurling a disarming spell at the hooded figure that stood at the end of the Muggle street. Beside her, Fabian Prewett duelled three at once. She dared not interfere in his fight, for their wands sliced the air so fast they were a blur and she didn't want to risk hitting any other Order members.
Various spells and jinxes flew through the night and the Death Eaters did little to conceal themselves from the eyes of Muggles. Mary knew this wasn't right, that the Order had gotten something wrong. It was supposed to be a routine area check, just to check that their wards on a known Muggle target were still intact and in working order. Instead, they had found themselves outnumbered by Death Eaters and the Muggle man dead on the ground.
She felt something hit her from behind and the next thing she knew she was on the ground, her jeans torn at the knees and her palms bleeding from the gravel. She spun back around and started to get to her feet, casting a shield charm as she went. Edgar Bones stumbled into her and grabbed her by the shoulders.
"Mary, take Benjy and go back to Headquarters. Fabian and I will follow. Don't argue," He said tersely and turned to engage an approaching Death Eater. She turned around quickly, trying to pick Benjy out from the darkness and spells.
There he was, at the other side of the eerie street, duelling a young Death Eater. As Mary watched, Benjy stunned the man and conjured bonds for his wrists and ankles. She heard the sound of apparation and realized the Death Eaters had called for reinforcements. He caught her eyes as she sprinted towards him from the Muggle's driveway. She grabbed his arm tightly, spun, and - crack.
Mary stumbled as they landed in the front hall of Headquarters. Benjy nodded his thanks to her and strode further into the house, no doubt to notify Mad-Eye of their arrival. She followed him into the Prewetts' large drawing room, where Mad-Eye was convening with Caradoc over one of many newspaper clippings strewn about the room.
Benjy cleared his throat. "The Death Eaters were waiting for us. Fabian and Edgar said they'd follow us, that we couldn't stay. They were already bringing reinforcements when we left. Their target had just been killed when we arrived," he said.
Mary pressed her lips together. She hadn't wanted to leave them there and neither had Benjy. But she wasn't fool enough to disobey Edgar, not when there were that many Death Eaters around. She only hoped he and Fabian had managed to disapparate before the newly arrived Death Eaters had made it to the scene.
Mad-Eye grumbled to himself and sighed. "He was right to tell you two to leave, we wouldn't have sent you if we had known there was a risk of ambush. You're both still rookies and Dumbledore won't appreciate it if we let all our new recruits get killed. Doesn't really help the cause, now does it?" he said. "And don't look like that Fenwick, it's true."
Mary didn't turn around. She knew Benjy would have bristled at the term rookie, but she didn't really mind the label. There was no use fighting it if it was true.
Two loud cracks resounded from the hallway.
The group moved to the doorway, but Fabian and Edgar were already there. Fabian grinned. "Alright there, Macdonald? Fenwick? Enjoy your first taste of the resistance?" he said.
She smiled. "I guess you could say that," she responded, glancing at Benjy.
Edgar clapped them both on the shoulders and looked past them. "Mad-Eye, could I have a word? And Mary, you and Benjy need to go to the infirmary." He cut off her protest before she could open her mouth. "I'll have Hestia on my case if you don't at least let her look at you. It won't take long, and then you can head home." He went into the drawing room with Mad-Eye, and Fabian and Caradoc wandered off towards the kitchens.
"Of course I've heard of the Order of the Phoenix, sir."
Months later, on New Year's Day, Benjy kissed her. She's only surprised it took him this long.
They both know it can't happen, not now, not when the Order needed them more than ever. Caradoc disappeared last month and Dorcas Meadowes was murdered the month before that. The Order needed its remaining members to be focused entirely on the task at hand.
She started to speak, but he beat her to it.
"I know, Mary. I know it can't happen," he says regretfully. "Merlin, I wish it could, but it can't."
She bit her lip and didn't say anything. There was nothing to say, because he was right. Part of her still wanted him to change his mind and decide that they were better off together than alone. But this isn't a novel. This is not a tragic against-all-odds romance and they are not star-crossed lovers. This is war, plain and simple.
"After the war, Mary. We'll just have to wait. After we beat these bastards, then we'll see. I promise," he added.
She frowned. "Don't make promises you don't know you can keep, Ben."
He just smiled and kissed her forehead. "Don't be so morbid, Mary."
"But what does the Order want with me?"
Mary attends the Bones funeral with the rest of the Order. She will have to buy new mourning robes soon. The old ones are wearing out.
The family is buried together in one large cemetery plot. The headstone is simple, detailing the names and dates of birth and death. An Order of Merlin sits at the foot of the stone marker.
No one mentions it at the meeting the next day, but they all realize it by now. The Order is crumbling before their eyes and there is nothing they can do about it.
The Death Eaters seemed to grow in number each day, and they're becoming increasingly bolder. Muggles are being attacked in broad daylight. People are stating their Death Eater loyalties in the middle of Diagon Alley. The Ministry has declared that every witch and wizard are to try their best to protect their Muggle neighbours and friends. People are talking of fleeing the country, going to America, Canada, Australia. Benjy calls them cowards, but she thinks maybe they ought to be doing the same thing.
For the first time, Mary wonders if they can really win this war.
"I understand the risks, sir."
They kill Benjy in front of her, two weeks later.
It was supposed to be a routine raid. They were supposed to get in and get out with no difficulties. Simple. Easy, even. But their information had been wrong. The house wasn't supposed to be occupied at the time. The plan had been to burn it down and leave.
The group apparated into the copse of trees behind the rather depecrit building. An unnatural breeze washed over her and Mary felt her stomach sink as she realized new protective wards were in place. The enchantment had found no Dark Mark staining their arms.
And then the world exploded around them.
Death Eaters appeared where before there had only been darkness and spells lit up the property. There was no chance of retreat. She fired a Stunning spell at Dolohov, who had been about to curse Hestia's turned back. The spell soared under his outstretched arm and missed, but got his attention nonetheless. He turned to her with twisted smile on his face and the duel commenced. Their wands flashed in both defense and retaliation. She felt her wand grow hot in her hand as she struggled to block the rapid stream of curses. Behind her, a stray spell set one of the trees on fire and Dolohov glanced up for half a second. She seized on his momentary distraction and a second later, he lay unconscious on the ground.
She turned from Dolohov's still form, wand raised. Most of the Death Eaters had fled or been knocked unconscious by now. Benjy was duelling Rosier, his teeth clenched in concentration. Mary brought her wand up to help, but before she could Rosier muttered an incantation she didn't recognize. There is a horrible sound, like that of an antique cannon blasting everything in its path. She blinks. There is a half of a second of blissful ignorance where she does not know, wonders where he went. Then she sees the blood on the ground.
Rosier is dead before he can lower his wand.
The rest of Voldemort's servants are gone. Some have fled and some lie unmoving on the ground. No one speaks. This is not a death. This is a mutilation. Mary is shaking and she feels as though ice is piercing her skin, being injected into her veins. His words come back to her in a sudden rush of grief and bitterness: "After the war..."
There will be no end of the war for Benjy, she knows this now. She has a sudden urge to hold his hand one last time, to see his face. It is the realization that she cannot and never will again that has her hunched over and sobbing. The ice in her veins cracks like brittle wood being made to bend. There will be no body to bury, nothing to say goodbye to.
She turns to the others and forces herself to meet their eyes. They will have the answers, she knows they will. They're supposed to. They are adults and she is just nineteen. She is still a child and yet she is a soldier and now, a not-quite-widow. Mary supposed she was not quite anything of Benjy's. She needed them to give her the answers.
Fabian just shakes his head and won't meet her eyes. She turns away.
"Of course I want to join, if you'll have me."
Mary walked quickly down the street, wand in hand. She was going to be late for the Order meeting, all because the damn taxi broke down. She'd given the driver his money and insisted on walking the rest of the way.
There was sound of feet crunching on gravel behind her. She turns, wand up, but she only has a second to register the green light coming at her. She understands it is too late. She closes her eyes before the impact, and thinks of what might have been.
A/N: Hi there! If you've made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully review it! This was written for TenthWeasleyWriter's Sad Story Challenge, and I really enjoyed writing it! If you needed some clarification, the bits in italics are from a conversation I imagined Mary and Dumbledore having when he asked her to join the Order. The chapter summary is a line from the poem Armistice by Sophie Jewett (under the name Ellen Burroughs). Huge thanks to my_voice_rising from the forums for the title help!
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