Chapter 15 : The Aftermath
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As told by Sirius Orion Black
Silence. That’s all I heard. That’s all that followed after the explosion. I opened my eyes to find myself lying on the grass, shielding Courtney with my body. Blazing debris was lying everywhere, the air was thick with sulphuric gases and black smoke hung low to the ground.
Courtney moaned. I slowly got off her and shook her shoulder gently.
‘Sirius?’ she whispered. Her eyes fluttered open and she suddenly sat up, staring around in horror. ‘W–what happened?’
I looked around the garden. Nobody else seemed to be conscious. There were people moving around about twenty meters away, wearing long black cloaks and … masks.
I grabbed Courtney and dragged her behind a table on its side. She looked at me questioningly, but I pressed a finger to my lips and gestured in the direction of the people in masks.
Together, we peeked over the edge of the table. Courtney squeaked and we ducked back behind the table. One of them was five meters away, but luckily he wasn’t looking our way.
‘Death Eaters?’ Courtney mouthed. I nodded nervously. She gripped my hand so tightly I thought it might fall off.
‘J – James?’ said a voice. ‘James, what happened?’
Shit. It was Lily. She clearly hadn’t seen the Death Eaters.
I crawled round the table and peered out. Lily and James weren’t too far away. Lily was up on one elbow, trying to wake up James, who suddenly started coughing loudly like he had something caught in his chest. If they hadn’t heard Lily, they definitely heard James.
‘Oi!’ one of the Death Eaters growled, running over to them.
‘Who are you?’ Lily asked in a meek voice.
‘None of your business. Who the fuck are you?’
‘Why do you want to know?’ James demanded. He coughed some more and a black, sooty powder escaped from his mouth.
‘Enough of that, you bastards.’ The Death Eater kicked at James, who groaned and doubled over on the floor. Lily screamed and rolled him over.
‘Stop it!’ she yelled at the Death Eater as he kicked at James again with his metal-studded boot. ‘Stop it, you monster!’ She jumped to her feet and started punching out at the Death Eater, who was taking her blows like she was a three-year-old.
He laughed, pulling out his wand. Lily didn’t see him aim it under her flailing arms at her ribs. He prodded her and she tried to move away, but he muttered a curse and she flew backwards, landing hard on the ground, knocking her head against a tree.
‘Lily!’ Courtney screamed out, but then covered her mouth with her hands, looking horrified. Two huge Death Eaters came running round. One grabbed me by my arm.
‘Get off me, you bastard,’ I growled, yanking my arm out of his grip. The other one lifted Courtney over his shoulder like a potato sack. ‘Put her down!’ I ordered. He laughed at me and growled.
I reached into my pocket for my wand and pulled it out, aiming it between his eyes. ‘If you don’t put her down, I swear I will kill you.’
The Death Eater hesitated and suddenly had a wand in his hand, but I was prepared.
‘Expelliarmus!’ I yelled, and his wand flew into my hand. I kept mine carefully trained near his eyebrows, while I pointed his wand at the other Death Eater, who was advancing on me. ‘Don’t get any nearer!’ I warned him. Then, turning back to the other one, I repeated, ‘Put. Her. Down.’
Slowly, the Death Eater dropped Courtney on the floor, where she crumpled on the grass for a moment, but jumped to her feet in an instant, whipping her wand out from her purse. Her eyes met mine and we took off in a run towards James and Lily.
I knelt next to James, while Courtney dropped to her knees next to the tree.
James was still groaning, and I became aware that the Death Eaters were creeping towards Courtney, who had her back to them. I pointed my wand at them and screamed,
‘Stupefy!’ They both flew past the tree and landed in a heap thirty meters away. Courtney looked round in surprise, but I gestured to the unconscious bodies of the two Death Eaters lying in the grass.
I gently tried to rouse James, but when that didn’t work, I picked up my wand and whispered, ‘Rennervate.’ He opened his eyes sleepily.
‘What happened?’ he asked. ‘Whoa. What’s – why – where’s Lily?’
I swallowed. ‘Courtney’s over there with her. There were these Death Eaters …’
‘I remember. They were kicking me, and then I passed out, didn’t I?’ James said, trying to get up. A deep, painful noise came from inside his chest and he coughed again. The sooty powder came out of his mouth in a cloud again, and he had to lie back down.
‘Sirius!’ Courtney called.
‘I’ll be back. One second.’ I told James as I got to my feet, being sure to pick up the wands, and jogged over to Lily and Courtney.
Courtney’s hands were covered with the blood that was coming from the back of Lily’s head and a huge gash on her arm.
Lily was moaning slightly and her eyes shot open. She tried to sit up straight, but she screamed in pain and leaned back against the tree, clutching at her head.
‘Lily, please, be quiet,’ Courtney whispered. ‘Please, don’t –’
‘My head,’ she groaned, ‘my arm …’
‘I think I can fix your arm –’ Courtney said, placing the tip of her wand on Lily’s arm near the wound. She muttered a spell and the skin wove back together, closing over the cut leaving a thin pink scar. Tiny stitches appeared and sewed themselves over what remained of the cut.
Lily ran a finger up the stitching. ‘Thank you,’ she breathed, but her eyes were out-of-focus like she wasn’t seeing properly. Sticky blood was still steadily flowing from her head and she was getting paler by the second.
‘Can you do anything for her head?’ Courtney asked me. ‘I can’t do anything without messing it up more.’
I shook my head. But I knew who could. ‘Remus!’ I yelled. I stumbled to my feet and staggered across the garden, searching for any sign of him.
Then suddenly there he was, lying on the grass with open cuts on his body and black marks on his face and hands.
‘Remus!’ I called, shaking him. ‘Rennervate!’ I said, and he woke up.
‘Death Eaters?’ he said straight away.
‘Yes. I need your help. You’re good with head wounds, aren’t you?’ I said hastily.
‘Um … I guess … why?’
‘Lily needs your help!’
Quick as a flash, Remus scrambled to his feet and shot off in the direction of Lily with me close behind.
Remus had Lily propped up against the tree, leaning forwards slightly so he could look at the wound. While he worked, I crawled back over to James.
‘What’s going on?’ he croaked, thumping his chest.
‘Remus is helping Lily. She … um … well, she had a bit of a head injury.’
‘What? Where is she?’
‘Just over there. James, I really don’t think you should –’
But he’d already steadied himself and was blundering towards Lily. He dropped down next to her and started brushing her hair out of her face, kissing her cheeks and her lips.
About ten minutes later, Remus knelt back on his haunches. His hands, like Courtney’s were covered in blood, but he didn’t look fazed. He picked up his wand, waved it over his hands and the blood melted away. He did the same for Courtney and I went over to them.
Lily was looking less pale, but the tree trunk behind her had gone red, and there was a lot of it.
Remus conjoured a glass of water. Holding up the back of Lily’s head, he slowly let her drink it until a little bit of colour slowly etched into her face again.
All of a sudden, I heard growling and we were blasted backwards from the tree. Lily laughed drunkenly, as if she didn’t quite know what was going on.
Feeling dazed, I looked over at Lily. My vision had gone blurry and black specks had appeared from nowhere. After blinking, I started seeing clearly again and looked round. Courtney was lying face-down on the grass, but she was starting to get up. Remus was nowhere in sight, but James was already on his feet and sprinting towards Lily, yelling her name. I tried to stand up, but my leg suddenly shook madly as I put pressure on it.
I hobbled over to Lily, where James was trying to get her up.
I put a hand under her armpit and she giggled loudly. I realised that a red trickle was slowly starting to drip down from the wound in her head.
‘Someone undid Remus’s healing,’ I said to James.
A huge dark shape jumped out from behind the tree and knocked me in the chest, causing me to fall down hard, feeling winded and hitting my head on the ground. James was suddenly lying on the floor, his eyes open, not breathing.
Lily started to scream. I lifted my head, too weak to get up. The shape … it was another Death Eater.
‘Let’s go!’ he called out gruffly to the others. As more Death Eaters moved out of the shadows, kicking James aside, I briefly saw one grab Lily’s arm. I reached out, determined to stop her, but a huge, metal-studded boot stepped down on my hand, opening gashes.
I cried out in pain, but through the thick mass of Death Eaters, I could still see Lily. She was squirming as the Death Eater tightened his grip around her upper arm.
‘Stop it,’ she mumbled, but they took no notice. The Death Eater sent a fist into her stomach and she doubled over, groaning. Then, all at once, they all turned on the spot, disappearing into the night.
And they’d taken Lily with them.
There was nothing we could do. James grabbed at the air where they’d been, he Apparated away but came back five seconds later. He sank onto the grass, pressed his hands into his forehead and started to cry.
I’d never seen him cry before, and it was kind of a shock. I knelt next to him and put an arm around his shoulders.
‘It’s OK, James. We’ll get her back. We will.’
‘But she’s gone,’ James sobbed. ‘She’s gone.’
Remus scrambled up from nowhere. His face was covered in dirt and he was bleeding in several places, but he didn’t seem to notice.
‘James, we can get Dumbledore and the Aurors involved. If the Death Eaters have kidnapped someone, they have to. And we’ll make sure they don’t stop looking.’
People started to stir. They sat up, staring around in horror. Mr and Mrs Potter were suddenly there, with their arms around their son.
‘Where’s Lily?’ Mr Potter asked.
‘G-gone,’ James choked. ‘They t-took her.’
‘Mother! Father!’ A sorrowful shriek echoed across to us and we all looked round. Lily’s sister Petunia was kneeling beside two people on the grass. We rushed across to them and James crouched by them.
Mr and Mrs Evans were ghostly white. Some sort of sooty liquid was dribbling down Mrs Evans’s chin and Mr Potter had a nasty burn mark on his face.
‘Do something!’ Petunia shrieked at us. ‘Anything! D-don’t let them leave m-me.’ She broke down in tears and sobbed over her father’s body.
We looked at Remus, who was the most skilled in healing, but he looked anxious, like there was nothing he could do. Then we turned to Mr and Mrs Potter, who both shook their heads.
‘But you’re wizards!’ she cried. ‘Surely you can –’
‘It’s not that simple,’ said Mrs Potter. ‘We have to get Dumbledore.’
‘You can’t leave them like this!’ Petunia screamed. Mr Potter turned away from her and took his wand out from his robes. He cast a Patronus – a large cat like a tiger – and spoke to it.
‘Tell Albus Dumbledore this: You need to come to Godric’s Hollow, to the Potters’. There’s been a Death Eater raid and there are casualties and … and possibly some deaths. Lily Evans has also been taken hostage.’ The Patronus glowed a little brighter and sped off into the night.
‘L-Lily’s a hostage?’ Petunia whispered, gasping and holding her face in her hands. ‘She can’t be! She’s the only sister I’ve g-got.’ She started to sob again, and after two seconds of awkward silence, Courtney bent down and put an arm over her shoulders.
‘Where’s Mary? And Ella and Lisa? We have to find them, and make sure they’re okay.’ Courtney said sharply. I could tell she was worried. Remus and I got to our feet. James was kneeling by Mr and Mrs Evans, sobbing quietly and Petunia was holding onto Courtney, bawling her eyes out.
We moved among the people, occasionally stopping to help, or check if they were still breathing.
Mary, Lisa and Ella were crouched together by an over-turned table.
‘R-Remus?’ Mary whispered. Remus knelt in front of her and wrapped her in his arms. ‘What happened?’
‘It was the Death Eaters,’ Remus said. ‘They’ve – they’ve taken Lily hostage.’
The three of them gasped.
‘What?’ Ella hissed. ‘No, they can’t have. Maybe you’ve just – she can’t be gone. You’re lying!’
‘We saw it,’ I said. ‘We’re going to get Dumbledore involved, and the Aurors, and we’ll find her.’
Lisa was rocking backwards and forwards, her eyes brimming with tears, her face streaked with grime and dirt.
‘Come on,’ Remus said, standing up and taking Mary’s hand. ‘We, um, Mr and Mrs Potter want to check you’re OK.’
Mary and Ella stood up. Mary clutched Remus’s hand so tight it went purple and Ella was shaking her head. Lisa didn’t move. Ella knelt down and carefully lifted her up by her elbows.
We walked in a silence that was only broken by the cries of people waking up and sobbing.
‘Mary! Lisa! Ella!’ Courtney called. Petunia had gone back to clutching at her parents and begging them to wake up. Even though she was a stuck-up snob, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.
‘Is it true?’ Ella demanded. ‘Is – is Lily gone?’
Courtney lowered her head.
James sniffled again and Remus put an arm around him.
Suddenly, a group of people appeared over the hill. There must have been about twenty of them, and they started walking down the hill towards us. Remus, Mary, Ella and I drew our wands and pointed them at the oncoming group. As soon as they got close, the one at the front said,
‘Do not worry, it’s only us.’
I recognised the voice – it was Dumbledore. Remus lowered his wand and breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Professor, you have to help us. They took Lily and her parents, they –’
Dumbledore silenced him by raising a hand. One of the Aurors rushed forwards and knelt down by Mr and Mrs Evans. Petunia was still clutching at Courtney and James got to his feet, quickly wiping away his tears.
‘We have to get her back,’ he said firmly. His eyes were red, but he was holding his wand tightly and he looked ready for a fight. ‘That has to be our first priority.’
‘James, I know you’ll want to get Lily back, but we have to investigate why –’
‘I don’t care why they came!’ James yelled. ‘I just – I just want her back.’
‘It’s going to take time,’ said a deep voice from behind Dumbledore. A tall black wizard with a ring in his ear and black hair stepped forwards. He looked about ten, fifteen years older than us. ‘For one, we don’t know where they’ve been hiding all this time. Most likely they’ve been moving around. We also need to find out why they took the girl and how they found out about the party.’
‘Kingsley’s right,’ Dumbledore said. He put a hand on James’s shoulder. ‘I promise you, when we find her, you’ll be the first to know.’
Someone came running up to us. It was Peter. He was covered in dirt and soot and he had a blood smear on his hand.
‘What happened?’ he gasped. His small eyes were wide with fear and his hair was a mess. He had his wand out and he looked exhausted, but he didn’t seem concerned. I frowned at him. We’d searched for him before and we couldn’t find him. I’d been worried out of my mind about him, but now that he was here, I didn’t feel relief or anything. It was weird.
‘Peter, they’ve taken Lily,’ Ella said.
‘Where the hell have you been?’ James demanded. He stood close to Peter, towering over him. ‘Where were you when Lily was being taken? Huh? We needed you, and you weren’t there!’
‘I – I’m sorry!’ Peter squeaked. ‘I just woke up and everything was like this – I heard shouting but I couldn’t walk – my leg –’
‘Your leg looks fine to me!’ James growled. ‘If we’d had one more person, just one, Lily might still be here!’
Peter looked on the verge of tears, but I almost didn’t feel sorry for him. James had a point. If he hadn’t been able to stand up before, how could he have run up to us? True, he could’ve healed it, but Peter had never been too good with healing spells.
James prodded him in the chest with his wand. ‘Lily’s been taken by Death Eaters. We’re going to get her back. Not that you’d care, Wormtail.’
Peter squeaked again, his eyes full of terror. He’d always been a bit frightened of James. ‘Of – of course I care! She’s my friend too!’
‘THEN WHERE WERE YOU?’ James bellowed.
‘Stop it!’ Lisa said angrily. She hadn’t spoken until now. ‘Stop!’ James lowered his wand and stepped away from Peter, glowering at him. He turned to Dumbledore and Kingsley.
‘What’s our first move?’
‘Dispatch these guys around the area,’ Kingsley said, ‘find something – anything – that could lead to their location and try to find out how they found out about this party in the first place. Also why they wanted to crash it.’
The Aurors nodded and left swiftly, searching the garden. The big Auror, Kingsley, leaned closer to Dumbledore and said quietly,
‘Albus, you don’t think they could have found out about –’
Dumbledore raised his hand. ‘It is possible, though we mustn’t jump to conclusions.’
‘What do you mean?’ Courtney asked. ‘Who could have found out about what?’
‘This isn’t the time,’ Dumbledore said. ‘You must tell me exactly what happened.’
James turned to me, and I could see in his face that he couldn’t explain it all again, so I stepped forwards.
‘Mr and Mrs Potter had a countdown to the end of the year, so everyone gathered in the marquee to count down to zero. And – and when the clock reached zero, the marquee exploded. I don’t know where the explosion came from, if it was a bomb or if they were hiding nearby and, I don’t know, waited for zero. But – but the marquee exploded and I don’t remember what happened after that until I woke up and everyone was unconscious. The Death Eaters were prowling around; I think they were checking to see who was awake. I don’t think Lily noticed them, because she started calling for James. I could see he was in a bad way, but one of the Death Eaters went over and started yelling, and there was this big fight and Lily – she – she hit her head against a tree. Remus tried to heal the wound, but the Death Eaters grabbed her when we were distracted and they Apparated away with her.’
‘Did any of you see anything suspicious beforehand? Anything … out of place?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘Everything seemed normal.’
‘Wait,’ said Mary, furrowing her brow. ‘I think – I think I saw something.’
‘What was it?’ Dumbledore asked.
‘W-well, I didn’t think much of it, but when we arrived, I was upstairs and I looked out of the window and there was someone sneaking around.’ Mary muttered, glancing at James as if she was afraid he’d blow up or something.
‘WHAT?’ James said loudly. ‘And you didn’t say anything?’
‘N-no,’ Mary stammered, ‘I just – I – I mean, I didn’t –’
‘If you’d said something, we might not be in this mess! This could all be your fault, Mary!’
‘Hey!’ Ella snapped, stepping between Mary and James and shoving the latter hard in the chest. ‘Who do you think you are? It’s not her fault, so stop taking your anger out on her!’
James looked like he wanted to yell back, but he just lowered his head. ‘You’re right. I’m sorry.’ Mary looked kind of shocked and scared, but she nodded a little.
‘You’re worried about Lily. I get it. We’re all worried about her, and we will find her.’ Mary said firmly. ‘And right now, we can’t afford to accuse each other.’ She glared at James for a moment before turning to Dumbledore. ‘What can we do?’
‘For the moment … nothing.’ Dumbledore said sadly. ‘Not until we figure out the facts.’
‘Well, what else do you need?’ Ella asked, sounding annoyed. ‘We know Lily’s been taken, we know it was the Death Eaters – isn’t there some sort of trail you can follow?’
Dumbledore looked at the sky thoughtfully. ‘Perhaps there is. But we have to search this area first. We have to make sure there isn’t anyone still lurking. And – and we have to make sure everyone is alright.’
The Auror that was checking up on Mr and Mrs Evans hadn’t said a word. He was performing all sorts of spells, pulling bottles of dittany and ointment out of his bag and getting more and more frantic, but he wasn’t stopping. Petunia was watching anxiously while tears streamed down her cheeks.
‘I’m going to help them search,’ James said. He glanced at Dumbledore for a moment, but he didn’t say anything, so James turned on his heel and marched off.
‘Maybe we should help too,’ Courtney said, nibbling at her bottom lip. She looked at Mary and Ella, who both nodded anxiously. She then turned to Lisa, who was standing there, her face chalky white. ‘Lisa? You up for it?’
Lisa nodded and took a shaky breath. ‘I – I think I’m OK now.’ The four of them took off in the opposite direction the Aurors went.
‘What’s wrong with Lisa?’ I asked. ‘Why is she so shaken?’
‘I’m not sure,’ Dumbledore replied, furrowing his brow. ‘I think we’ll have to ask her some questions. But for now, we must help with the search.’
Hours later, the sun was starting to rise, casting a gold glow over the garden and the wreckage. Nearly everyone was conscious now, except for a few people, who the Aurors were trying to revive. And there was still nothing we could use to track the Death Eaters. By the time we regrouped, James was looking exhausted, and even paler than he had before. He sank onto the grass and pressed his hands to his face.
Petunia had helped us with the search after the Auror trying to heal her parents decided they needed to get to St Mungo’s. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying and her boyfriend Vernon was trying to tell her that ‘coming to this blasted party wasn’t a good idea!’
A red-haired man, who looked like he was in his late twenties, came jogging up to us. He didn’t look like an Auror, but he looked familiar.
‘Albus,’ he said, ‘have you found anything?’
‘Not yet, Arthur. But we are keeping our fingers crossed.’ Dumbledore replied. His half-moon glasses were halfway down his nose, which made me think he was silently judging everyone as if trying to see if we had anything to hide.
‘You’re Arthur Weasley, aren’t you?’ James asked. ‘My parents know you.’
Arthur Weasley nodded. ‘You might have met my wife, Molly. But what happened to that young lady I saw you with before the –’
‘She was taken by the Death Eaters,’ I said quickly. ‘We need to try and get her back.’
‘Ah,’ Arthur said. ‘Of course we’ll get her back. Don’t worry, James.’
James took a deep breath and nodded. ‘I know. I trust these guys. They seem to know what they’re doing.’
‘We’re in good hands, James,’ Arthur assured him. ‘Albus, have you told them about –’
‘Not yet. It’s not the right time yet.’ Dumbledore said firmly. Arthur nodded and glanced at us once more before turning on his heel and walking away.
‘What is he talking about?’ Lisa asked quietly. Dumbledore shook his head.
‘All in good time.’
It was frustrating that he wouldn’t give us any straight answers. James was distraught and he still wouldn’t tell us everything.
‘Sir,’ I said, stepping forwards, ‘no offence or anything, but if we’re going to help you with the search, I don’t think you should be keeping things from us.’
Courtney shot me a look, as if to say Are you mad? but I ignored her and stared at Dumbledore, frowning.
‘Mr Black,’ he said, sighing, ‘all of you – you are all far too young to be carrying something like this –’ He gestured around the garden ‘– on your shoulders, and I do not want you to have something else to worry about.’
‘Worry about?’ Ella asked. ‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean that the truth – the reason for the explosion and the ambush – is far too terrifying for a group of teenagers to think about. Please – for now – just let us deal with this. I promise you can help us get Miss Evans back and after that … we’ll see.’
Hellooo! I'm really sorry it's taken this long to update and it's kind of an awful chapter, but I hope you guys like it! While I was writing this, I've decided it would be best for me, and you, if I stuck to just one story at a time to try and speed it up and try and update most (if not all) as quickly as possible. So I decided that I'll be focusing on my other WIP Peanut Butter Geli Time, as that one seems more popular at the moment. I promise I'll keep writing this one and I'll probably update it once in a while, but while you guys are waiting for the next chapter, how about you go check out PBGT? Soo ... I'll see you in the next chapter! xo
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