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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 23 : Surviving the First Defy
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14

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Gorgeous CI by heartfelt. @ tda
Chapter 23 - Surviving the First Defy

“I need you to stay in bed, just for a while longer. The potion works more slowly when it’s matching an O positive blood type, so you’re going to need to be patient with us, okay?” Lily stared past the woman’s face, unwilling to answer. She was dizzy. She was exhausted. But she was alive. She was alive. And right now, she didn’t know if she could say the same for James. All she wanted was to see him. She needed to hold his hand and urge him to keep fighting, just like he’d done for her when Bellatrix tried to steal every ounce of blood from her. She needed to see James.

She glanced up at the woman. Kind, dark eyes stared back down at her, and she felt a twinge of guilt for how unkind she was being. But she was alive, and James was sitting one room over possibly dying. She didn’t have time for guilt right now.

“Yes, I understand,” Lily said, offering her the most earnest smile she could muster. The healer nodded, then wrote something down on the parchment by her bedside.

“Okay,” the woman explained, pointing to the scribble she’d just made. “This is the name of the nurse on your floor. If you start getting dizzier or feel nauseous or need anything, just give this a twist,” she pointed to a small wooden knob on the nightstand “and that will alert her.” Lily nodded her head, trying again for a convincing smile, then closed her eyes while the woman poked around her a bit more. After a second, she was left alone in the room and the door closed with a click.

She took a few deep breaths, then arched her legs and began moving them toward the edge of the bed, sliding her feet onto the cold floor. Someone had placed a pair of white slippers next to the table, which she was grateful for as she squeezed her toes snugly into them. After another second, she gritted her teeth and stood up, moving only an inch at a time.

The light flickering from oil lamps lining the room began to fade as a soft black edged into her vision, but she waited it out. After a few seconds, her body adjusted to the change and she took a hesitant step forward, then another. She made it to the chair placed in the corner of the room and took her time slipping the gown off and putting on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a loose blouse. Once she was dressed, she paused again to take a few breaths, annoyed at herself for feeling so weak. She made the mistake of glancing in the bathroom mirror as she walked past and was half terrified of her own reflection. Pale didn’t even begin to describe her appearance. She bit down on to her lip, ignoring the exhaustion, and kept going. A small sense of pride washed through her when she reached the door handle.

Opening it carefully, she looked both ways in the corridor before stepping out. She hung her head, just in case her nurse or healer were to walk by, and tried to remember if she’d heard her friends saying that James’s room was next to hers on the right or the left...

She decided to go with right for the sole reason of it being a few feet closer than the left. Her feet moved quietly, not making a sound against the clean tile, and she crept into the room. Relief washed through her when she saw James spread out over the bed. But Lily’s relief disappeared not even a moment later when she realized his eyes were still closed tightly. His face pale, but far from serene. She glanced around the empty room, wondering where the group had gone. Her fingers shook as she pulled back the sheet on the bed and climbed in, knowing her legs wouldn’t be able to support her for much longer.

She glanced over at James; his features weren’t smooth or relaxed. They were stressed, angry. He didn’t look peaceful. That meant he couldn’t die, didn’t it? People always looked peaceful when they died.

“Oh god,” she whispered as she curled next to the limp body beside her. “Don’t leave me, James. Don’t leave me.” She reached for his hand and found a small amount of comfort in the fact that it was warm. She kissed it the same way she had the night before, and part of her was desperately praying that it would be enough to wake him up. He’d say something and surprise her just like he had in the hotel room. After a moment, she realized that wasn’t going to happen. She moved his hands from her lips and nuzzled it against her cheeks.

“Lily.” She glanced up at the sound of Mrs. Potter’s voice, though the movement was enough to cause her vision to darken once again. “Honey, you aren’t supposed to be up and about yet.” The woman walked to the side of the bed that Lily was on and ran a soft, wrinkled hand over her forehead. “Healer Knowles said that you needed at least a few more hours of sleep so the potion can finishing replicating your blood.”

“Please,” she croaked, her voice raw. “I can’t... I have to...”

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Olivia soothed as fresh tears gathered around Lily’s green eyes. “We just spoke with a healer. They’re going to wake him up any minute, and he’ll be fine. William is just speaking with Albus right now, and then he’ll come in and the healer will administer the potion.” Lily heard the distress filling Olivia’s voice, and couldn’t imagine how much it took for a mother to be strong.

“And, he’ll really...” she began, terrified of getting her hopes up.

“Yes, darling. He’ll be okay. Trust me, I didn’t raise my boy to give up without a fight. He’s strong.”

Lily could only nod, and was relieved when the door opened, preventing her from trying to speak. She knew that she should feel uncomfortable laying in the bed with James as their headmaster walked in, but she couldn’t even muster the energy to pretend that she did. Nothing in the world would get her away from his side. Away from the feel of his warm hand, a small reassurance that life was still pumping through him.

“Miss Evans,” Professor Dumbledore greeted, nodding somberly at her. She tried to nod back, but felt an intense wave of fatigue sweep through her and force her eyes to drift closed.

“Can you tell us why this happened, Albus?” Olivia whispered, her voice sounding somewhat far away to Lily’s ears.

“I think it’s best if we wait until Mr. Potter is awake, that way we can discuss everything at once,” the professor answered. Lily heard the faint sounds of Mr. Potter’s voice when her mind began separating itself farther from consciousness. She knew her healer warned her that the potion would do this, but she didn’t want to believe it. She wanted to stay away, to stare at James until he opened his reassuring eyes... to hear him make a joke out of all this. God, she needed to hear his voice.

Somewhere inside of her, she felt her body give willingly into sleep. She knew it realized what her mind refused to acknowledge; she needed the blood. It needed to shut down while it struggled to recreate itself. Lily’s last thought before slipping into the darkness was that when she was a healer, she wanted people to look up at her eyes and find kindness in them. Just as she did earlier. Kindness was the only thing that made it all less terrifying.

“You know, if you ever scare me like that again... I don’t know what I’ll do. It won’t be nice, though. It’ll be really taking away all your books.”

Lily felt herself chuckle at the joke even before she realized she was awake. Then, as if a light had been flicked on inside her brain, she understood whose voice was speaking.

“James!” she whispered, almost too excited to get the word out. Her eyes darted open, the heaviness that had plagued them earlier seemed nearly gone. “James,” she said again when she saw his smiling face glancing down at her.

“Morning, sweetie,” came another soft voice, and she turned to the other side of the bed to see Belle and Alice, both sitting in chairs that were pulled up right next to her.

“Alice, Belle,” she said, overwhelmed by the emotions pumping through her.

“There’s our girl,” came the deep voice she knew so well. She leaned over James as Sirius took a step closer to them and gave her friend what she hoped passed as a hug.

“Hey, don’t go hogging her now,” Remus said, and Peter laughed next to him. By the looks of their rumpled hair, both boys had been asleep as well.

“How long have you guys all been here?” she asked as Frank came over and gave her a peck on the cheek.

“For a few hours,” Frank answered, bending over to kneel beside Alice. “My mum was here earlier, but she had to get to work. She dropped off those for both of you.”

Lily smiled at the bright, happy flowers gathered into a vase. Beside them was a large box of chocolate-peanut-butter Snitches.

“Yeah, my parents were here as well,” Alice added. “They dropped off some sweets and said to get well soon.” Lily smiled, and as thankful as she was for her friends’ parents and their concern, she was more thankful that none of them were around just then.

“Good afternoon, sleepy head.” Lily looked up toward the door as her healer, along with Mr. and Mrs. Potter, walked in. “I believe I ordered you to stay in bed.”

She couldn’t help but blush, though she knew by the tone of Healer Knowles’s voice that she wasn’t angry. “How long was I asleep?” she asked, glancing around at her friends.

“Well, you and Mr. Potter here have both been in and out for the last twelve hours. You took your final dose of blood replenisher fourteen hours ago, and Mr. Potter woke up for the first time ten hours ago before falling back asleep.” Lily nodded, happy that the healer gave her such a detailed answer. “Can you tell me the last thing you remember happening?” she asked, her eyes soft as they stared into Lily’s.

“Zat ‘ardly seems necessary. She’s been zrough enough without ‘aving to discuss it,” Belle interjected cooly. Lily knew she should lecture her friend about her tone, but the concern behind her words was far too moving.

“Don’t worry, it’s fine,” Lily said, smiling over at Belle. “The last thing I remember is when she, Bellatrix, tried to curse me.” The image of the woman, her wild eyes drilling into Lily, came jetting back. “I think I remember other people being there too besides Belle and Sirius... but...”

A soft knock came at the door, taking the entire room’s attention away from the healer’s question.

“Pardon my intrusion,” came the light voice of Albus Dumbledore.

“Albus, please come in,” Olivia said before turning back to the healer.

The dark eyed woman glanced around at the room, probably waiting to see if anyone else wanted to speak, then continued. “Well, as you both know, dark magic was used on you. You need to understand that it’s terrifyingly tricky to narrow down exactly what it was or how it was done, but we have what’s important figured out.” She paused for a moment, sorting through a few papers before pulling out one and scanning it.

Lily felt James’s hand slip into hers and squeezed it tightly as the healer cleared her throat and continued. “The spell that was used on you, Miss Evans, very literally drained the blood from you. How exactly, we’re not sure. I wasn’t able to track down any sort of curse that resembled it in my texts, but we were able to rule out internal bleeding. Our best guess is that the woman was, in some way, transporting your blood somewhere else. But the Draught of Blood worked well and you’re on your way to recovering. You’ll still feel tired the next few days, and you need to drink and eat as much as possible, but you’re doing well. I can’t say that the same would be true if you’d taken the other curse that was meant for you, though.”

“And you have no idea what that spell was, either?” Frank interrupted. Lily could already tell by the pained look on the Potters’ faces that the healer didn’t know.

“I’m sorry, no. We were unable to find anything that even resembled it.”

“But,” Alice began, “you’re certain that neither curse will have any lasting effects apart from the immediate damage?”

“As certain as we can possibly be. From the descriptions Miss Leclair and Mr. Black where able to give me, the curse that was delivered to Mr. Potter depended on its caster’s concentration. That’s a fairly definite clue as to the fact that the spell isn’t able to survive without its power source. And the two of you,” she said, looking from Belle to Sirius, “lessened the severity of the curse when you attempted to stun the caster, because it broke her focus. But even with that, the injuries were severe. The curse hit your chest, Mr. Potter, which resulted in a hemothorax - internal bleeding between your chest wall and lung. That build up of pressure caused one of your lungs to collapse. It’s very, very fortunate that you were able to get here when you did. We immediately started you on a blend of potions. One was to stop the bleeding, and you’ve already taken the last dose of that, and the other was to eat away the excess blood. However, the second wasn’t working quickly enough, and a Muggle medical specialist was called in. He relieved the area around your lung of the pressure, and that lung inflated back up. We kept you asleep for a few more hours while we allowed the potion to continue working.”

“And you’ve given them both the extra phial of vitamins we discussed?” Olivia asked, her face pale. Lily was sure this was far from the first time James’s parents had heard about their condition, but the worry in their expressions still looked fresh.

“Yes, absolutely. And both of you are going to be just fine,” the healer added, offering them an encouraging smile. “I’m going to give the nurse my paperwork, and she’ll begin the discharge process. Our fireplaces are connected to the Floo Network, so if anything feels off we’re only seconds away. Mr. and Mrs. Potter, if you can come with me for a few moments, there are some things I need filled out before you can go.”

“Of course,” they both agreed, following the healer out the door. The moment the large wooden barrier closed, James sat up straighter and turned his head toward Professor Dumbledore.

“Professor, how did we get here? How did Bellatrix get away? And what do my parents know?” he asked in a hushed voice, and Lily could just pick up the hints of exhaustion.

“And you both,” Lily interrupted, turning to Belle then Sirius. “Neither of you were hurt?”

“Well, I zink I may have ‘urt my wrist when I zrew a stunning spell at ze woman,” Belle said, giving Lily one of her classic smirks.

“Both of your friends were tremendously brave, Miss Evans,” Dumbledore added. He stood up from the bench lining the hospital room and took a step closer to the bed. “And I can’t tell you how proud I am to have the honor of calling you all my students. To answer your questions, Mr. Potter, your parents know hardly more than you. That you were targeted, fought courageously, and were transported here.”

“How were we-” Lily began, before Sirius interrupted.

“Some bloke and a witch came barging in and scared off my cousin. Then they Apparated us all here. Apparated! It has to be at least three hundred miles!”

Dumbledore let out a soft chuckle before continuing. “Yes, you’re nearly correct with the distance, Mr. Black. The recommended hundred mile limitation can be stretched considerably in necessary circumstances.”

“‘Ow did zey know we’d be zere?” Belle asked, piping up from Lily’s side.

“And what about Butterscotch?” James said, sending a cold chill through Lily. Oh God, how had she not thought about her kitten?

“We have him, mate,” Peter answered. “Sorry, forgot to mention that Remus and I used the Floo and took him to your parents’ house.

Lily watched as Professor Dumbledore’s face seemed to grow more and more amused. She supposed the man probably wasn’t often surrounded by a bunch as demanding as hers.

“The two people who Apparated you here,” the headmaster began again, “are ones that I have working alongside me in certain efforts. I was concerned for your safety due to Beowulf’s interception, but believed it to be nothing more than an old man’s folly. Nevertheless, I requested those two to journey to Swansea and keep an eye on you both.”

“What about them? Are they injured” Remus asked, his calm voice such a contrast to the intensity of the room

“They’re safe as can be. They were cornered by a second Death Eater during the time of the attack, which is why they hadn’t been able to get to Miss Evans and Mr. Potter immediately.”

Lily felt James shift beside her, and looked over to see his features tight, like he was struggling with something. When he began to speak, his words were hardly more than a whisper. “Professor, she, Bellatrix, knew we’d be there. She didn’t just run into us. She must’ve been the one that got the letter and... the Death Eaters followed us. Mum and dad... they can’t know. I can’t do that to them.”

“I’ve informed them that I had you both accompanied without your knowledge as an extra precaution. I believe I’ve told what I feel is necessary from my perspective, any more is up to you, Mr. Potter.”

Lily felt James relax beside her. “Thank you, professor.”

“Sir,” Lily interrupted, unable to contain the question buzzing in her mind. “Why us? Or James, I suppose. She was going to kill me regardless, but she didn’t want to kill him.”

“Trust me,” Sirius said with a snort, “she did want to kill him. My cousin wants to kill anything she can get her bloody hands on. Sorry for the language, sir,” he added quickly, his eyes darting to Dumbledore.

“What Mr. Black so eloquently stated is, I believe, rather accurate. I can’t pretend to know of the inner most workings Voldemort has constructed, but I am certain that his followers are not often known for their choice to allow a person life. I can only assume that Mr. Potter was sought out for his reputation as a leader. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t concern us, though. What needs to be focused on now is not allowing the terrible events of that evening to dictate where you move on from here. Your friendships and the trust you all place in one another stopped two very priceless lives from being lost. That’s what I believe is the most important aspect to dwell on.”

They all remained silent, and Lily felt a soft kind of warmth spread through her.

“If there are no other questions I’m able to answer-”

“Professor,” Remus began, “will they go after James again? And Lily?”

Lily watched as the professor’s eyes searched over them, and part of her was certain he was trying to decide on whether or not the truth was necessary. But they already knew, didn’t they?

“I believe that any and all who stand in opposition to Lord Voldemort will be targeted. Maybe not as directly as Mr. Potter and Miss Evans, but it would be foolish to think ourselves untouchable. This is precisely why we must keep our wits about us and our friendships strong. It won’t be long now until you’re all stepping from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy as fully trained witches and wizards. For now, enjoy these last few months before you must succumb to the cruelest of all masters, adulthood.” He nodded at them all, then turned to the door. Just before twisting the handle, he glanced back at them, a small smile playing on his bearded face.

“Ah, there’s one other thing. I had the pleasure of speaking with the keeper of the hotel. It seems there was a large, black motorbike parked in his lot. I took the liberty of having the machine transported to the Potters’ home.”

Lily couldn’t hold back a chuckle as Sirius let out a quick whoop!

“And you have no speculations as to why they were targeted?” William asked, pacing the small, dim hall. Olivia glanced back towards their son’s room, wanting to be sure the door was still closed.

“I always have ideas, William. But none that will prove of any worth. Your son and Miss Evans are very well liked students at Hogwarts, that alone could be enough,” Albus answered kindly, and Olivia just nodded her head. She knew that William had to ask, though they were both certain of the answer they’d receive. No one truly knew anything about the attacks and the war, apart from those that administered the cruelty.

“Albus,” she began, her words sounding nearly as weak as she felt. “Is there anything we can do?” She knew he would pick up on the meaning of her question. Just because she and her husband had been forced into retirement, their health being far from up to par for the Auror Department, didn’t mean that they wouldn’t take an investigation into their own hands. They would do anything they could if it meant bringing Bellatrix Lestrange in, alive or dead. Preferably alive, so Olivia could watch her deteriorate month by month in Azkaban. Watch her pay for her attempts at taking her son’s and Lily’s lives.

“I’m afraid you’re both doing everything you can. At this point, the only thing we’re capable of controlling is our own actions: our own paths. Those four students fought with more strength and determination than most would be capable of. If Miss Evans would have let her focus, her intense desire to stay alive, slip for even a moment... I can’t say I’m confident she’d be here with us today. They’re strong and capable, and all we can do now is give them every ounce of knowledge we possess to keep them safe.”

“Would it help if we were part of it?” William asked, glancing over at Olivia. She wrapped her arm through his, making him understand that she was willing to take on anything he was. “Would it help if we did more than just pass information to you? Were a more active part of the Order? You know we’ve always wanted to remain in the foreground. We can’t risk putting any unwanted attention on our boys. Not when Sirius’s family is already so involved in Voldemort’s group. But if the attention is already there...” he let his sentence trail off, and it pained Olivia to hear the desperation in his voice. But they both felt it. They needed to keep their children safe, and would die trying.

She glanced back over at the door, satisfied that it was still closed, before meeting Dumbledore’s eyes. She could already tell his answer by his expression.

“If I thought for a moment your more active support in the Order would do any good, I would have told you so months ago. The information you are both able to collect and pass because of your connections has already helped tremendously. You’re doing more than your share of assisting in our efforts to stop the senseless cruelty. Now, all we can really do is stick by one another and see this through,” the man answered. Olivia knew it was silly, but she felt a small pang of jealousy for the kind of vigor he seemed to posses.

He was nine years her senior, seven years older than William, but he seemed to be in a state so much stronger than them. She knew they’d run their bodies down faster than most - taken more curses than people should live through. But as the constant fiery ache of her bones flared up from hours of standing, she knew she was half grateful that there wasn’t more they could do. Their bodies couldn’t take the abuse.

“And now, I think it’s time we part ways. Minerva has been waiting anxiously at the school to hear news from me. She’ll be more than a bit relieved to know all of her Gryffindors are safe and whole.”

“Albus,” Olivia said, reaching out and grabbing his arm. “Thank you for keeping our babies safe. We know after this year there won’t be much anyone can do besides stay alert, but they deserve this last bit of childhood before having to become part of such an unstable world. Thank you.”

She witnessed a rare flush of cheeks in the headmaster’s face, and smiled despite the gravity of the situation. He was truly a kind man. She knew he wouldn’t be able to do much when James learned of the Order and became insistent on taking part in it. She knew her boy, and knew that he would throw his heart and soul into doing what was right. But as of now, he was just a seventh year Hogwarts student. A Quidditch captain and Chaser who happened to have the privilege of being cared for by a girl more lovely than Olivia could have ever prayed for. She knew Albus would accept his help willingly when that day came, unable to pass up young, bright and determined spirits. But, for now, they weren’t members of this war. They were all just her children.

The chilling air snuck under Regulus’s cloak, forcing him to hold back a shiver. He knew it was foolish to be pacing outside in such unacceptable weather, but he couldn’t stomach the thought of using the fireplace in the manor just yet. He would need to walk past Bellatrix and possibly some of the other Death Eaters to make his way back to the Malfoy’s sitting room. That was something he was not yet ready to face. Hopefully she would leave soon, and he’d be able to slip undisturbed through the flames and back to his parents’ house.

He slowed down as the garden path twisted farther into the dark and lowered his body onto one of the many decorative rocks. The cold stone was sure to numb him in a matter of minutes, but that could be precisely what he needed. Maybe he’d become so full of the icy air that it would coat his insides and stop his heart from feeling the current ache that grew with every beat. He was lucky, incredibly lucky, and he knew that’s what he should remember. The Dark Lord had ordered him to only focus on the other Slytherins, and he’d done just that. He had no part to play in Bellatrix being unable to capture Potter and Evans. But that didn’t stop him from being made to witness the punishment delivered by Avery Sr.

Whether it was for the purpose of reminding him what happened when things didn’t go as they were supposed to or it was simply Avery’s way of testing his strength as the youngest member, Regulus didn’t know. He knew that the man’s son would soon join their ranks, and part of him felt sure that the seventh year would be just as cruel as his father. But those thoughts were for another day... just now, he had to concentrate his energy on draining his mind of what he’d just witnessed so he could walk confidently back through the manor. But that was much easier said than done.

He took in a deep breath and let his thoughts go over it all. He had to remember them before he could forget. He’d always been that way, ever since he was a small child. He had to understand before he could accept. His cousin’s face... he hadn’t known how she’d been able to keep from screaming. The pain that had been glowing in her dark eyes twisted his stomach into knots. Though Regulus was sure she was more hurt by the fact that the punishment had been delegated instead of administered by the Lord himself. Her obsession and devotion to him was something that not even he understood. She had failed him, though. And that’s why she’d been forced to undergo the ordeal. Regulus wouldn’t fail, and he’d never have to feel that kind of pain.

The oddest part of the torturing, however, wasn’t Bellatrix’s lack of screaming. It was the way she’d kept whispering about revenge. But Avery Sr. had made it clear that Potter would no longer be in the hand’s of his cousin... so how would she make them pay without defying the Lord’s orders? She’d been taken off her mission and told that her only new goal was to assist Regulus in preparing the interested Slytherins for challenges that would test their loyalty. The Death Eater had told the two of them that they would be responsible for setting up a meeting between the students and one of the First Five: Rosier Sr., Mulciber Sr., Nott, Avery Sr., and Dolohov. Obviously they couldn’t set up Rosier, Avery, or Mulciber with their own fathers, but their meetings hardly mattered anyway. Those three would be guaranteed positions; their fathers’ statuses assured that. They would still need to be tested though, just as every other Death Eater was. Just as Regulus had been at the start of the summer... but no. He wouldn’t remember his own trial just now. Too many demons for one night.

He would watch his follow Slytherins carefully. Then, when the time was right, he would tell Evan, Burgess, Avery, and Severus to expect word from Bellatrix. She would meet with them during the next holiday: Easter holiday he assumed. And the day after they graduated, they’d be Marked.

Regulus was uncertain what Alrek’s next focus would be. Avery Sr. had told him to continue to play the position of friend, and if he wasn’t able, he would be worthless to the Dark Lord. And that meant they’d have no reason to keep him alive.

Regulus felt a tremor run through him. He wasn’t particularly fond of Rukin, but he also didn’t want to be present if the Dark Lord decided the Bulgarian was disposable. He would probably let Bellatrix do the honors... and she’d never been a clean killer.

He coaxed the image from his mind, slowly replacing it with his own goals. He needed not to dwell on what could happen to the other servants, but to concentrate on watching his house mates. To see if there were any other promising students that would serve the Lord well.

He let a long breath escape him, the white puff of air falling away in the darkness. It was time for him to go home. Time to forget about the agonizing cries that had tore from Alrek’s mouth. To force away the memory of Bellatrix’s mental muttering as she repeated over and over that no one defied her, no one disarmed her without suffering the consequences. The words she said hadn’t been severe, not nearly as cruel as usual... but the detached sort of desperation in her voice had sent chills to his bone.

He would let all that drain from him. He’d walk into the manor, take the Floo home, and request that Kreacher bring him a hot meal. He’d fall fast asleep, still in good graces with the Dark Lord, and try and ignore the small voice in his head that said he hoped his cousin was never able to get her hands on Potter and Evans, or whoever else she was muttering about. That was a fate worse than any other he could think of.

He stood from the rock and began his journey back into the house. His brain was no less saturated in the dark images he’d seen, but now he was able to handle them and walk confidently through Malfoy Manor. He filed them in the back of his mind, and was ready to move on.

Tomorrow was Christmas Eve after all, and he had his heart set on a new racing broom.

Hi guys, and thank you so much for continuing to read Before They Fall! As always, massive thanks to my amazing beta, CambAngst!

I know the last few chapters have been far from happy ones, but the next is centered around Christmas at the Potters! And the Death Eaters are not invited ;).

I'm going to have family visiting from out of next weekend. Friday through the following Sunday, so Saturday's next two updates might get a bit off. I'll try and not let that happen, but just thought I'd warn you guys in case it does.

So, what did you think of this chapter? I'd planned on going back into Bellatrix's perspective, but for some reason Regulus decided he wanted to come out and play instead. Besides, Bella's gotten more than her fair share of attention the last few chapters :P!

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