Chapter 31 : Failure
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Don’t cry child, you’ve got so much more to live for
Don’t cry child, you’ve got something I would die for
And if it comes to the rain just be glad you’ll smile again
‘Cause so many don’t, and so many go unnamed
~ Failure ~ Laura Marling ~
Easter seemed to drag at first. It was nice spending time with my family, but I knew home wasn’t really where I wanted to be. It was Hogwarts. Perry was my friend again, and she was pregnant; I was in love with Sirius and he still needed to come to terms with Regulus being a Death Eater. At home things were… fine. My Dad was working a lot, and of course he couldn’t tell us why. Mum told me quietly that we were actually under even more protection from the Order of the Phoenix now, but that was all she had been told. I knew that must mean we were still at risk, but whenever I had the urge to shrink into myself, whenever I remembered those weeks I had endured as a hostage, I kept my head up. The only thing to fear is the unknown, and the Death Eaters were no longer an unknown. They were a fact, and I could choose to hide from them, or I could choose to go down with a fight.
Sirius wrote to me on Easter Sunday, as I sat munching on a chocolate egg:
School is quiet. I was wondering how your holiday is going. Happy Easter, by the way.
I wrote home to my parents about Reg, but my mother just sent a Howler denouncing me and telling me never to contact them again and stay away from my perfect little brother. So that ship has sailed. I suppose Bellatrix is assuring them that no danger will come to their precious little boy, because anything that risks his neck and they would turn against it straight away. They’re not nice people, but they care more about survival than anything else.
I miss you. I can’t wait ‘til you’re back.
I smiled at the note and tucked it away, dipping my own quill into a pot of pretty purple ink my Mum had got for me.
I wish I was at school, there’s so much going on.
It’s a shame about your parents but I don’t think there’s much else you can do. You’re a good person, don’t let them drag you down.
I miss you too, but I’m rubbish at writing letters.
I sent it back with Sirius’ owl and made my way downstairs. My mother was sitting at the kitchen table reading The Daily Prophet with a frown on her face that told me something new had happened. I glanced over her shoulder at story she was reading: a large black and white moving photo depicted The Dark Mark over a house, with the headline ‘UNSPEAKABLE FAMILY KILLED ON INFORMATION PROBE BY DEATH EATERS’.
“What are they trying to find out?” I wondered aloud.
“I don’t know….” Mum sighed, pushing the newspaper aside. “I wish I knew. I wish your father would just leave…”
“They’d Obliviate his memory.” I pointed out.
“Yes, and they know that! So they wouldn’t go after him.” I realised where my Mum’s concerns lay then, but I didn’t say anything in response. I was thinking of the Order of the Phoenix.
Sirius continued writing to me everyday over the rest of the holiday. Most of the time our responses were very short, neither of us being keen correspondents, but it was nice to be able to communicate with someone else. I’d be relieved to escape the repressive atmosphere of this house, that was for sure. I told him as much.
You should be safe, he wrote, targeting you didn’t work the first time.
But we might not be so lucky this time around, came my reply.
As much as I was desperate to escape the constant cycle of worrying and wondering what the Death Eaters were doing, I was more than a little horrified when my Dad actually came home from work early one afternoon and made a brusque announcement in his Irish accent:
“Erin, ye have to go back to school early. We need to move fast. Ye’ll be safe at Hogwarts, but yer mother and I have to go into hiding.”
“But-“ My Mum and I both spluttered.
“There ain’t no time to argue over this. Get moving. I’m sorry, Erin,” He added to me, as my mother ran upstairs to pack all our things quickly using magic. “I haven’t seen much of youse, and now we have to say goodbye.”
“Dad.” I flung myself at him, hugging him tightly, tears stinging my eyes. “Don’t say goodbye, Dad.”
“Aye, it won’t be forever. But I do have to ask ye to be brave.” He said, kissing me on the forehead. I nodded. My mother appeared with my trunk. I grabbed it and turned towards the fireplace.
“Please write to me, if you can. I love you, Mum, Dad.” I added sadly, grabbing a handful of Floo Powder, feeling weird about this speedy goodbye.
“We love you too, Erin.” Mum said. I chucked the powder into the flames, which turned a dazzling emerald green. I put my trunk in and followed after it.
“Hogwarts!” I yelled, and caught a last flash of my parents hurrying to take their own leave.
“This must be a very difficult time for you, Miss McNamara.” Professor Flitwick had taken me straight to Dumbledore when I landed in his office and explained tearfully what had just happened. “All the problems of a young woman on top of the problems of a war.”
“I just… I was complaining so much about not deciding to stay here all along… but if I hadn’t gone home, I might never have seen them again.”
“You will see your parents again, Erin.” Dumbledore said gently.
“Can you guarantee that, sir?” I looked at the old man with his twinkling blue eyes, and he just looked back apologetically.
“There are no guarantees in life except death, Erin. But remember, for now, you and your parents are safe under the protection of the Order of the Phoenix. I won’t let any harm come to them if it can be avoided.” I nodded my acceptance of this, because there didn’t seem to be much else I could do. “I summoned Mr Black to my office. I know you are close friends…”
I was in a daze as I made it down to the stone gargoyle that protected Dumbledore’s office. Sirius was already there, looking anxious. He hugged me tightly as soon as he saw me.
“I’m sorry, Erin.” He said fiercely. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” I said, “Just… it was all so random.”
“I know it’s selfish, but I’m glad you’re back.” He said as we started walking down towards the grounds. Fresh spring air was definitely what I needed to clear my mind.
“I’m kind of glad I’m back too… the outside world is an ugly place.” I said, feeling some of the tension of the past hour or so leave me as I admitted it. Something about walking with Sirius made me feel a little more assured about everything- only a tiny bit, but every little helps. “There’s too much that’s been going on lately.”
“There has?” He looked somewhat surprised. I frowned.
“Well, everything with you, with Remus, with Perry, and now at home too… not to mention everyone else’s dramas.” I listed. Now it really didn’t sound like much when I said it out loud, which made me realise how messy a space my brain had become.
“I suppose there is a lot on your plate… what made you start talking to Perry again, anyway?” He enquired with interest. Now of course I couldn’t tell him, because he would tell Remus, and I really thought that should be left up to Perry.
“We’ve been friends a long time… and I missed her.” I said evasively. “I know she’s been a bitch to me, but I haven’t been the best friend to her either.”
“Girls.” Sirius rolled his grey eyes, though he smiled at me.
“You seem a lot happier than I thought you were, judging by your letters.” I noted, seizing on the opportunity to not have to talk about home.
“I’ve just decided to stop being so negative. Things are bad enough as it is, without holding a black cloud over your own head.” He turned with a small grin on his face. “And you’re here now.” He caught my hand in his own as we continued walking, but I didn’t say anything. It felt kind of nice, having his big hand covering mine.
“What brought on this change of mind-set?” I asked.
“Nothing, really. I’m just sick of being miserable, and I’m pretty sure everyone else is sick of me being moody all the time too. Well, Peter assures me you all are, anyway.” I laughed.
“Where is Peter?”
“In detention, where else?” He regaled me with the tale of Peter attempting to booby trap the trophy room but being caught out by Filch thanks to Snape snitching on him. As Sirius told the story, I thought of my parents. I wondered where they were going to go- and where I would go, once summer came. I would be of age by then and allowed to live independently, but I had no idea how I would even start that process.
Sirius and I sat by the lake for most of the afternoon. It wasn’t quite warm yet, but the sun was yellow and languid on the surface of the water, glistening with the small waves created by the movement of the Giant Squid. It gave me an awful lot to stare at whilst not seeing. I was of course thinking about my parents again. Sirius watched my face for a while as we sat in silence.
“It’ll be easier, once everyone else is back.” He told me softly.
“That’s not for another week.” I pointed out.
“I didn’t think my company was that sucky.” Sirius pouted, and I couldn’t help but laugh at his mock-forlorn expression.
“You’re not too bad, Padfoot.” I conceded.
A/N: So quite a busy chapter full of movement! What do you think of it? Please let me know. There isn't a whole lot left to this story now so it'd be nice to know what people think :)
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