Chapter 7 : Spinning Out
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Instead, she was looking at Madam Mildred’s Exotic Tea Shop which had been our favourite shop since we were eleven. Madam Mildred herself was being dragged out into the alley by a man dressed in black with a silver mask across his face. He had her by the hair, blood was smeared across her face, and her screams echoed down the alley like the cry of a Siren. Haunting and yet there was something in it that called you to it.
Men dressed the same as the first followed after them and a child smashed his face against the glass window of the shop, fogging up a small circle where his mouth was. His blue eyes wide with desperation as he looked on. Madam Mildred, who’d always been known for tumbling brown curls, was now soaked in sweat with her hair stuck to her like seaweed.
My own heart was thumping and I crept over to Amelia, who still hadn’t moved. Her hands were now shaking, and her eyes were wild. I grabbed onto her hand and felt her long fingers tighten around mine.
These must be Death Eaters. I hadn’t ever seen them but the name had always been whispered behind closed doors. Sirius told me of them first, his face had been full of repulsion and hurt. He said they left death wherever they went. Eaters of life. The worst kind of cannibal he’d say because the things they did were that repulsive, that degrading. They ate the lives of others and even if it wasn’t their actual flesh it was just as despicable.
They barely even took notice of the few people who stopped dead at the action that was playing out before their eyes. How the vicious act made an older couple jump out of the way while others tried to sneak away as quickly as possible. Some just stared wide mouthed and eyed at the display. It suddenly felt very much crowded and suffocating, like we were stuck in a room with no ventilation.
I pulled a little at Amelia’s hand. I didn’t know what I wanted from her because I wanted to leave but was captivated by this. Like an insect to a light, knowing that if I got too close I could get burned. The thump in my chest though came from more than just fear; there was something else and I couldn’t be sure what it was.
The man who still held Madam Mildred by the hair laughed as he stared out at us. Maybe he realized we were all petrified.
“This is what happens,” he said. A clear warning that it could be us instead. His voice was low and he turned away from the spectators. That is exactly what we were in that moment because none of us did anything. Just stood like idle fools because none of us wanted to be Mildred. You know as much as we liked her there were an underlying feeling that – that it was better her than us. That’s what made me feel sickest.
He shoved her to the ground. Her knees scraped the ground and she let out a low moan. Grasping at the cobblestones below her, she coughed up blood.
“Please, I don’t know,” she choked. She tried to push herself up but her arms were shaking so bad that she could only make it halfway before collapsing onto the ground again. A couple other wizards crept into a shop and locked the door behind them.
My heart was beating in my chest. One. Two. Three. So fast that I felt like it would burst. One wrong step, one wrong move and they’d turn on us like we were a field ready for the harvest.
“Get the kid,” the man said. One of the other Death Eaters went in and grabbed the boy from the behind the glass and dragged him out. He was crying and his eyes were glued to his mum. He was old enough to understand what was happening.
The other four Death Eaters patrolled around the perimeter making it clear that a wrong move could mean death. There wasn’t a lot of us but with the bottle neck it seemed that everyone who had dared venture out today was now involved in the drama. One of the Death Eaters prodded a younger man with his wand sending the man flying backwards until he hit the side of a building. He laughed and moved on.
My eyes widened and I took a step forward without thinking. This- I couldn’t look at the kid without getting ill because I knew what they’d do. There had been too many news reports lately about innocent children dying.
The man grabbed Madam Mildred’s arm and thrust her up into standing position and held her there for a moment, she grabbed onto the arm for support. I noticed the tears that ran down her cheeks; the trail gleamed in the sun.
“No,” I mumbled, barely audible to even my ears. But this- this shouldn’t be. It was sick. I felt my eyes moisten and I tried to brush them away because all I could imagine was death and I couldn’t even fucking move.
“Tell us where he is,” he demanded.
Before anyone could say anything there were a few load cracks that made me jump back and then there were cries and flashing lights. I looked over and coming down the alley were Ministry officials, Auror’s perhaps, their black robes billowed out behind them as they ran. Three of them. Only three. As if their forces were somehow better or more equipped than the Death Eaters. I doubted it and almost laughed at their ignorance.
People scrambled out of the way but a man who I knew worked as an apprentice at the Daily Prophet got hit with a curse from one of the Death Eaters. He withered to the ground, crying out for God to stop the pain. His shrill moan could be heard echoing down the alley like a cry from hell. No one could get to him even if they tried as the spells were firing from one side to the other.
I pulled Amelia away, her body was stiff and her hand was gripping her wand tightly like a cat ready to attack. My head felt heavy and light at the same time, barely able to take in the sight before me.
For a moment it looked like they might be okay. The Death Eaters seemed scattered, confused and the Aurors fell on them like the setting sun. Surrounding them and beating them down. The charge of their anger radiated out of them like fire. One of the Aurors was shouting orders and jabbed his wand at ever faster intervals.
People dodged out of the way, some even took up the fight as well, briefly as it were, to shout out a stinging hex or body bind. But it seemed as if this fight had was no place for such spells and the ones who tried ended up withering on the ground, by a better placed spell from a Death Eater.
My heart beat faster still.
The chaos made it seem like people were everywhere, scrambling around like ants on a log. Amelia and I got separated as we dodged a rogue spell. I couldn’t see her amidst the bodies and ruin. However I found myself captivated by the scene in front of me. I clung to the cold stone of the building behind me.
The Death Eater who had been interrogating Madam Mildred was still standing next to her, trying to block spells aimed at him and she was trying to crawl away. But with her injuries she wasn’t getting very far. Her son was close by, huddled by a rubbish bin as during the chaos he escaped from the man holding him.
Things started to shift again as the Death Eaters got the upper hand and four of them were fighting the Auror’s while the others grabbed the woman and the kid. Outnumbered. It seemed like two separate dramas were being played out. There was the fight and the chaos in front while behind a more subtle game of shadows behind.
“Not him, please leave him out of it!” I heard her scream over the din of voices surrounding us. People were scattered, some were pressed tightly to buildings like they hoped it would suck them in. I couldn’t move though, my eyes transfixed by those in front of me.
“Get out of here,” one of the Aurors shouted to me as the fight got closer. His voice was gruff but I didn’t listen, couldn’t. My mind felt blank, like it couldn’t make the connections it usually would. I just froze. God so frozen but I could feel wetness behind my eyes. So much destruction.
I could almost see the sequence of events in my head before it happened and the man who held the kid roughly in his hands raised his wand, looking at the woman one more time who was still screaming. He said something to her and she started to cry harder. Things seemed to go in slow motion then. Like I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing or my brain couldn’t comprehend it.
I was so dizzy, so heavy as if a weight was pushing down on me as I saw the mighty green flash. I stopped. Everything stopped. For a moment, there was only green and it swallowed us. As instantly as the slow motion began it stopped and the child fell to the ground. I screamed a real gut wrenching scream along with the mum who was looking with an almost vacant expression on her face.
The man walked to the woman and grabbed her chin, yanking her face to look at him. I didn’t know what he was saying or even if he was saying anything. It seemed like they were years away from me.
I couldn’t take my eyes away from the boy and without even realizing I was making a decision about it I darted for him. I knelt over him and tried to block out the sound of the cries above and the fear that was gnawing at my heart. Didn’t even think of what would happen if the Death Eater turned around and saw me there.
I heard the mum somewhere in the back of my mind. I could hear voices and cries and screams but I couldn’t focus on anything but the child in front of me. It seemed to get louder around me. Fiercer, like the energy of the fight had changed again but I found myself muttering spells, all the spells I knew about healing and directing them at the child. One after another.
They kept hitting his chest. Over and over. My head felt so heavy. I pleaded for his life. I had read too many stories of children dying in the last few weeks. Months. Whenever this whole thing started. Too many had just died.
I felt someone’s arms around me. Strong arms.
“Get out of here!”
I grabbed onto the child. No.
“Please,” I said and muttered a few more spells but nothing got rid of the glassy eyes that stared at me. Yearning for life but not getting it. I had just stood there watching. Just stood there.
My head felt heavy and my heart beat so fast. One. Two. Three. I kept breathing and the arms pulled me away. I looked wildly around and noted there seemed to be more people around. More fighting but I couldn’t see their faces. Couldn’t recognize them as they all had freckles and blue eyes of a child.
“Come on, fuck you’re going to get yourself killed woman!”
“No, I just- I just,” wanted to save him. The person pulled me away and I clawed at the air with fear.
“Black what the bloody hell are you doing? They’ve got Dearborn,” a woman screamed. It was then that I turned my head to see a pair of steel eyes looking at me with exasperation.
“Let me go!” I cried to him and motioned to the kid. He just shook his head and kept dragging me away. His face was creased and as hard as stone when he finally pushed me down a small alley beside Flourish and Blotts.
“Stay here,” he commanded. I could hear the anger radiating off of him, but before he walked back out I heard a woman screaming again and then a loud crack that I took as someone Apparating away. He visibly tensed but I couldn’t focus on him.
Couldn’t see him but rather I saw Madam Mildred’s child; I didn’t even know his name and now I may never know it. I don’t know why that bothered me so much. That I didn’t know his name. That I couldn’t wave to him as I bought another cup of tea. I had just... I closed my eyes trying not to picture myself there without movement. Like a statue.
I took a few deep breaths and tried to fight the dizziness, like the world was turning way too fast for me. Like I was on one of those annoying carnival rides that makes your stomach feel like it’s going to flip out of your mouth at any second.
Seriously, why do people think that’s fun? It is about as fun as going to visit that aunt of yours who’s clearly mental but you have to go and pretend you don’t smell the moth balls in her furniture and eat the food that’s probably been sitting in the fridge for weeks.
Gods. I didn’t even know his name.
There was stillness. I could feel it the same as I could feel a weird fluttery feeling in my heart. How it was still pumping and yet not quite as madly as it had before because the energy seemed to have changed again. I leaned against the wall of the alley and felt my legs collapse from under me and I put my face in my hands blocking out the way the boy’s blue eyes were so empty.
“Black, I gave you and Potter one job and that was make sure they don’t take Dearborn and you go gallivanting off to your girlfriend. Do you realize what you’ve done?”
“Meadowes calm –“
“Don’t tell me to fucking calm down! This is why I warned Dumbledore not to get involved with adolescents whose hormones are raging a mile a minute!”
I glanced over briefly trying to clear my mind and saw a tall woman with electric black hair jabbing Sirius in the chest. She looked familiar but I couldn’t place her and did it really even matter who she was because someone had died and I hadn’t done a damn thing.
“I wasn’t just going to leave her there to die, friends matter, strangely enough,” Sirius shot back. I knew if I was closer I’d see that he’d be tense, coiled and ready to spring no matter how hard he was trying to control himself. He was never good at that.
“She’s as good as dead now and so is her husband; think of that next time you decide to go against orders.”
There was silence.
I didn’t break it. I could still feel the softness of the boy’s clothes under my hands and his blue eyes were dancing around me.
“Sirius-” Another voice started and then stopped and I felt that maybe they were looking at me but I kept my face in my hands, hiding because I didn’t want them to see this. See me like this. I didn’t know why this bothered me so much. I read about it all the time. I knew what happened in the world. I knew it. It was harsh and scary.
“What?” Sirius asked. His voice was still laced with anger. I could almost feel the burn of it myself.
“They’re gone mate and we’re just- well cleaning up out there, just thought you should know that.”
“Fine, great,” Sirius snapped again. Footsteps faded away but I knew he still stood there on the other side of the alley leaning against the wall. I could still feel his damn overpowering presence.
More silence. It seemed to extenuate the beating of my heart. How it wouldn’t stop and I could almost feel everything that was coursing through my body but I tried to push it all away. I didn’t want it.
The bricks were so cold behind my back and the longer I sat here the more I could smell the rotting rubbish at the end of the alley way. It was tense. So much more tense right here than it ever been between us. It had always been easy, us being together. Being friends. Until the war changed that when it actually mattered and all I could think of was how bad I wanted him gone. Didn’t want him to see what I really was.
“Go,” I said. It drifted in the air between us and he just laughed. Coarsely as if his vocal chords were being dragged across rubble.
“Eleanor, what the hell was that? You ran into the middle of a bloody fight!” His voice was still hard. Pent up anger and frustration from the weeks of silences. I didn’t know, maybe I was just imagining that, but neither one of us found it easy to get over things.
“No- just go,” I said. I stood up and dodged away from him when he walked closer. I wasn’t crying. But I knew I looked rubbish and maybe a little mental. I couldn’t look at him, I still saw the boy. Still saw his face. His freckles and blue eyes that would never age. Just rot away like the rubbish.
He let out a long breath of air and rubbed his hand through his hair.
“What’s wrong with you?” he finally asked. I was asking that myself. I needed to get a grip but the world was spinning.
“I just- just...” I couldn’t answer, the words kept getting caught in my throat. How annoying, just like those typical hysterical females I’ve always loathed. How pathetic was this. I wanted to roll in my own misery by myself and I didn’t want anyone else to see. That’s all I bloody well wanted. That and for the boy to survive; I wanted to know his name. Somehow that would’ve made it better. I hated faceless people.
He took another step closer, his hand was out and his eyes cautious. Maybe he thought I was contagious. Which for all I know I was.
“Please,” I yelped and shied away from him. Panic kept building up and I saw the boy fall again and again and again. I let it happen.
“Come here,” he said. Calling in that voice. The voice he used to use for me. I couldn’t explain it but it was when he was actually being sincere and not his usual dickish self. His eyes seemed softer around the edges, wanting to tell me he understood. But I don’t think he did. Not really.
I couldn’t believe that just this morning we found out that Bertram was alright and we celebrated like a bunch of arrogant tossers who thought the shadows could disappear. It was only a couple hours ago and the sun was shining and it just didn’t seem right that this could be happening right outside our doors. The sun was still shining but it felt wrong. So mocking, so harsh to my eyes like the callous reality that things were rotting.
“Just go!” I said. I felt the panic and the tears were building up and I couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t right. I could see his face but it morphed into a young man with blue eyes and freckles and I knew he’d never get to see that far. God it sucked.
Sirius reached out again and this time he looked scared. Scared of me as I grabbed onto the tips of my hair and jerked away from his warm fingers. I had to get away. I had to leave. The air was suffocating like there was only so much oxygen that could be breathed. I shook my head.
“Don’t...” he said but his voice was lost to the wind and in that moment I left. Disappeared into space and for once I didn’t mind the feeling of being squished into a small space. When I reappeared, I leaned against the oak door and felt the breeze against my skin. I breathed. I told myself that was all I could do now, was keep breathing. Though even then I knew that it was a lie.
I do not own any part of Harry Potter. Anything you recognize is a part of JKR's world and not mine. Thank you for reading! Hope you stay tuned for chapter 8!
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