Chapter 1 : Chapter One: Sometimes Goodbye Really Is Forever
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A/N: This story is written for water_lily43175's Order of the Pheonix Challenge.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I own nothing that you recognize.
The scarlet engine chugged along the lush green English countryside, expelling a thick stream of grey smoke in its wake. The clouds in the sky above began to thin along the horizon, fading from various shades of pale grey to a more subdued pink color. Rays of brilliant golden sunlight filtered down over a small lake, sparkling like diamonds off of the still black water, which was as smooth as glass. The reflection blinded her momentarily, forcing her to squeeze her eyes shut tightly and avert her face from the blinding white-gold light.
A tinkering laugh sounded across from her, which sounded of church bells ringing out on a cool, crisp morning. “You’ll get crow’s feet if you keep making that face Dori,” the stunning blonde said the words slowly, allowing them to sink in.
“Oh shut it Marlene, leave her alone,” came to reply from Lily Evans, their stunningly beautiful friend whose fiery waves of red hair were falling into her face. “I still can’t believe I’ll have to survive without you two next year. Promise you’ll owl me every week!”
“I think we can do that Lils,” said Marlene in a hushed and sad undertone, as though she were afraid if she spoke the words aloud they would actually be real. “At least, we will every chance we get…” she trailed off, leaving the dire words hanging in the air.
“Do you know yet where you’ll be staying?” Lily asked, her large doe-eyes amplified with the innocence of her youth.
Snapping from her reverie, Dorcas Meadowes shook her head violently. “Lily love, I haven’t even decided where I’m actually going yet. But I promise I’ll keep you in the loop,” she added, not meeting her friends’ eyes for fear of them exposing her lie.
Lily sighed audibly, and sat back in her chair to resume Dorcas’ position of starring out the window, wishing things could be different. Marlene popped a chocolate frog in between her perfect rose-bud lips absently, nearly allowing it to jump from her hand before it reached her mouth. Dorcas furrowed her brows together as she continued to watch her two friends, wishing that they could all stay together. As Lily was a Sixth Year, she would have to return to Hogwarts next year, while Marlene and Dorcas were leaving their beloved school behind forever, more likely than not. The tension and unease was palpable in their compartment, as each of the three girls knew that their goodbyes would come sooner than they wanted them to, and that for Lily, it could possibly be goodbye forever.
Since the beginning of their fifth year, Dorcas had heard rumors of a very powerful dark wizard gaining popularity and followers, committing vile and evil acts in the name of pure-blood supremacy. While at first the only news was the occasional odd disappearance of a muggle or muggle-born, the attacks continued and picked up their pace in both viciousness and frequency. Their Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, a very powerful wizard himself, had begun to watch his students very closely, unbeknownst to them at the time.
Dorcas was called into his office the week before end of term, and as she trudged up the stone steps with worry and apprehension, beads of sweat had collected on her upper lip, and her hands began to shake. She very rarely got detention, and was a pretty good student, so she doubted Professor Dumbledore’s motives were academic based.
“Come in, Miss Meadowes,” a low and smooth voice sounded from behind the door before she had a chance to knock. Dorcas took a deep breath and walked slowly into the professor’s office, glancing around, although she was far too worried to question the strange and curious things that decorated the oval shaped room. “Please, have a seat,” the older man gestured with his long elegant fingers to a shapely antique chair situated on the opposite side of his desk.
“Professor, I—“Dorcas began as her stomach flipped and turned sour.
“My apologies Miss Meadowes, I must interrupt you. You are not in any trouble. I was simply hoping to speak with you about your plans once you leave Hogwarts.”
“When I leave Hogwarts sir?” Dorcas as, the confusion clear in her voice. “My mother was hoping that I would join the staff of Witch Weekly like she has, but I applied to join the Healer training program last week.”
Nodding his head thoughtfully, the professor turned from his student, facing out the window. “I’ve seen your marks, you could certainly join the Healer training program with little issue. I’ve seen over the years that you enjoy helping others, is that correct Miss Meadowes?”
Dorcas nodded before speaking aloud. “It is professor. Ever since I was little I wanted to become a Healer.”
Turning back to her abruptly, Dumbledore audibly cleared his throat, “I’m sorry to put you in this position Miss Meadowes, but I can think of a better use of your talents as a witch, at least for a time.”
“Sir?” she questioned, growing more and more confounded by his odd behavior.
“I’m certain you’ve heard of all the strange disappearances going on…the muggle killings?” Dorcas nodded her head slightly and leaned forward, her interest growing.
“I’ve recently formed a sort of resistance to this group of people that have been torturing muggles and muggle-borns alike. We’re growing, but we could use a witch like you. I hear you’re advanced in non-verbal magic and dueling?”
“Yes sir. What exactly is it that this…resistance group of yours does?” Dorcas questioned, raising her eyes to meet his powerful gaze.
“Oh, all sorts of things,” the professor declared flippantly whilst pushing his half-moon spectacles back up his nose. “A few of my members work in the Ministry and are trying to coincide our efforts before this dark wizard gets out of hand. But there are several other things that we do as well.”
“But sir, what is it that I can do to help?” Dorcas asked, swallowing a hard lump that began to form in her throat.
“That remains to be seen Miss Meadowes, but we certainly have a place amongst our ranks for you, if you so wish. I won’t lie to you, it will be highly dangerous, and it may delay your training as a Healer.”
Dorcas settled back into the arm chair and rubbed her temples slowly, as if willing her brain to digest all of this new information. She thought of her parents, both of whom were pure-blood, and her friends Marlene and Lily. Lily, lovely Lily with the emerald green eyes. Despite being a year younger, Marlene and Dorcas had taken an instant liking to her, and the three quickly become inseparable. Unless they were studying, of course. Marlene was a half-blood, but Lily was a well- known muggle born. Her aptitude for potions and advanced wand work made her a target for the Slytherins, who especially loved to call her mud-blood at every opportunity that they could find. She could certainly be a target if this dark wizard’s power grew, and Dorcas found that thought unbearable.
“I’ll do anything I can to help Professor Dumbledore. I don’t want anyone else to die over this madness,” Dorcas declared strongly, although her voice wavered slightly, as the implications of what she had just committed to sank in.
“Excellent Dorcas,” the professor waved his wand, opening the door into the hallway. “’ll be in contact with you in two weeks’ time with information about our upcoming meeting. Please, don’t speak a word of this to anyone,” he added, his blue eyes sparkling. Nodding, Dorcas walked from the office quickly, suddenly feeling unsure of everything.
Everyone around them was hugging and crying. One girl that they passed, a first year Hufflepuff by the look of her, wept openly before blowing her nose into the sleeve of her robe.
“Disgusting!” Marlene shrieked before she turned to her friends and wrinkled her nose. “Don’t they teach kids manners these days?”
Lily let out a hearty laugh, which was followed by a strangled sigh, as though she were remembering that in a few minutes she would have to say good-bye to two of her best friends. The three reached the end of the platform, and before they entered the muggle world, Dorcas pulled her two friends to the side.
“Listen, I know we’ve been putting this off, but this really must be goodbye.” She stated simply, trying to wipe the emotion from her face. Professor Dumbledore had forbidden her from telling her friends or family of her place in the Order, and immediately after leaving the station she was planning to disappear and stay hidden for a while, at least until they had figured out a more permanent post for her. “I’ve promised mum and dad that I would apparate home straight away, and you know they don’t like to be kept waiting.”
Marlene’s eyes opened wide as she stared at her friend incredulously. “How can you be so blasé about this Dori? We may never see each other again. What with this dark wizard attacking muggle borns and now half-bloods. This could be it…” she trailed off as the emotion overcame her.
“Yeah Dorcas, since when do you do what your parents tell you to, especially when it comes to your friends?” Lily asked with her eyes narrowed, referring to Dorcas’ parents distaste in her non pure-blooded friends.
“I don’t, I just don’t want to fight with them the minute I apparate into the living room,” Dorcas mumbled under her breath while she dug her right toe into the ground in an attempt to avoid looking at her friends. “Besides, we’ll see each other again soon, I’m sure of it,” she added rather unconvincingly.
Lily looked as though she were about to cry, and she wiped her eyes before any tears could spill over. “Well either way, I’m going to miss you both so much! Don’t forget to owl me as often as you can!” she shrieked before she threw her arms around the other two girls. “At least I’ll have Alice next year, but it just won’t be the same…”
Marlene let out another tinkering laugh and raised an eyebrow at Lily. “Maybe without the distraction of your friends, you’ll finally give Potter a chance,” she said cruelly, referring to a sixth year Gryffindor with an incessant crush on Lily, which almost bordered on stalker behavior.
“You’ll have to commit me to St. Mungo’s if I’m ever that desperate,” Lily laughed good-naturedly before she poked her blonde haired friend in her ribs. “But I can think of a certain friend of Potter’s who will sorely miss having you around Marlene…”
Marlene nodded knowingly before a Cheshire cat grin spread across her face. “Poor Black never knew what hit him. After what, nearly six years of following me around like a lost puppy I just pulled him into that broom closet and snogged his socks off.”
Dorcas couldn’t help herself from joining in, and she stifled a snort. “Yeah, and if by that you mean his trousers, than you’re right.”
The three girls laughed so hard they were nearly doubled over. With tears of joy streaming from the corners of their eyes, they tried to stand up straight, before doubling back over with laughter. “Remember the look on his face when he sat down next to me at breakfast the next morning and I ignored him?” Marlene managed to gasp between hiccup-like snorts.
“Poor bloke. You are a bloody hag Marlene,” Dorcas said while trying to bury the tiniest hint of jealousy she had felt creep up on her. Marlene was a wonderful friend, but Dorcas had always been cast in the beautiful blonde’s shadow.
“I know!” Marlene shouted, still struggling to regain her composure. At that exact moment, Sirius Black and James Potter strode past pushing their trolleys, both of them wearing matching looks of arrogance and mischief. Dorcas watched as they disappeared into the cement divider and off into the muggle world, and the tiniest twinge of regret hit her squarely in the chest. Perhaps she had spent too much of her time at school studying, and not enough time having fun.
After a few minutes of continued snickering, the girls regained most of their composure. “I sure am going to miss this,” Dorcas murmured, almost inaudibly, as she was beginning to feel ashamed of deceiving her closest friends. Surely they could be trusted, couldn’t they?
“Me too,” Lily added as she sniffled slightly, before pulling Marlene and Dorcas in for one last hug. “I have to go now, my mum and dad are waiting for me. And I can only imagine the look on Petunia’s face, watching all these wizarding families walk by,” Lily puckered her lips and screwed her face into a mix of disgust and horror, in a scary likeness of her older sister.
“Mustn’t keep Tuney waiting,” Marlene added with a chuckle before embracing Lily once more. “Don’t lose that fire Lils.”
Dorcas braced herself for the onslaught of emotions coursing through her body. She had an overwhelming desire to spew the truth out to her two best friends and let the chips fall as they may. But at the same time, she held herself back, not wanting to endanger them further, especially Lily, who lived with her muggle family during the holidays and would have to return to Hogwarts for another year. “I love you Lil,” was all Dorcas could manage, her insides bubbling with worry.
The beautiful red head straightened her back before she turned back to her trolley, silently bracing herself to meet with her family. She turned the trolley toward the platform exit and began to pick up speed when she heard her name called out.
Dorcas ran to Lily, panting and nearly out of breath, more so from crying than anything. Tears openly streamed down her cheeks, and she made no effort to wipe them. She grabbed Lily by the shoulders and looked directly into her emerald green eyes. “Listen to me Lily. I don’t care what the Ministry says on the matter…you make sure you keep your wand on you at all time. All the time, do you hear me?” She shook Lily’s shoulders hard and the volume of her voice raised to a near shouting level. “Promise me!” Dorcas demanded, refusing to let go.
“I—I promise Dorcas, but what is this all about?” Lily asked, her eyes wide with innocence.
“You’ve heard about the muggle and muggle borns being killed…”Dorcas said in a voice barely above a whisper. “I just need to know that if anyone ever tried to hurt you, that you would be able to protect yourself,” Dorcas took a deep breath as she struggled to hang on to the thin shred of composure she had left. “I couldn’t live with myself if something were to happen to you, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.”
Lily took a step back from her friend’s embrace and appraised her critically from head to toe. “I knew you were acting weird. Dorcas, please don’t do anything rash. I’ll be just fine, you’ll see.”
Marlene approached the two girls from behind, and sensed that she was intruding on something serious. “Erm, is everything okay?” She asked in a quiet voice, as though she were afraid anything louder would cause the whole world to come crashing down.
Dorcas shook her head, wiping away all traces of emotion from her face as best she could. “Everything fine Mar, I was just telling Evans here to be careful this summer,” Dorcas reached out and ruffled Lily’s hair fondly, before embracing her for the final time. She kissed the top of her head gently, and inhaled Lily’s sweet scent of jasmine and honey. “I love you Lils.”
With that, Dorcas turned on her heel and headed back toward her trolley, not wanting to leave it unattended for any length of time.
Lily turned again to Marlene, and the two girls exchanged a quick hug. “Have a good holiday my lovely little Lily,” Marlene smiled.
“You too, my merry little Marley,” Lily watched as Marlene turned on her heel and headed off in the direction of their third friend. “Hey Marlene!” she shouted above the noise and din of the platform. “Keep an eye on our girl, alright?”
Marlene and Lily locked eyes for a brief moment, before Marlene let out a barely perceivable nod. “You know I will.”
The two girls walked toward the end of the platform together, leaving behind the Hogwarts Express for what would probably end up being the last time. Dorcas had a very strong sense of déjà vu, as her and Marlene had begun school in the exact same fashion the first day of first year, pushing their trolleys toward the platform together. Their parents had trailed behind them, not wanting to interrupt their blossoming friendship, and they had been best friends ever since.
Walking through the muggle section of King’s Cross felt different to Dorcas, as though even the muggles could sense the impending doom of the storm that was sure to come. She bowed her head in silence, not daring to make contact with anyone, as a sense of dread reverberated through her very core.
A harsh wailing sounded from behind them, and Dorcas grabbed her wand and spun around, ready for the attack. When she saw that they were alone, she wrinkled her eyebrows together, before realizing that the source of the noise was a train travelling past on the opposite tracks. She stuck her wand back into her pocket before turning around sheepishly to face Marlene and shrugged her shoulders.
“I guess I’m a little on edge,” she gave as an excuse, knowing that Marlene probably wouldn’t believe it.
“You’ve been on edge all the time lately. I’m starting to worry about you Dori. You know,” Marlene sighed, pushing her fringe from her face, “there’s nothing that you can’t tell me. I would never betray your trust. Ever.” Marlene emphasized this last point before turning her attention back to her trolley.
Taking a deep breath, Dorcas decided to plunge forward. “I know Marley, it’s just…hard to explain. But I promise you, one day, soon, when I have it figured all out, you’ll be the first to know.
The girls continued to walk through the station, re-emerging into a large group of very loud and obnoxious American tourists wearing brightly colored shirts. “You’d think they wouldn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb in a foreign land,” Marlene muttered, more to herself than anyone else.
Dorcas laughed, and the tension from before eased somewhat. They kept going straight out the glass double doors and into the dreary grey weather, all traces of sunlight from earlier long gone. A shiny red car waited along the car park for Marlene, with her older brother behind the wheel, and their elderly parents sitting together in the back seat.
“Well, I guess this is me,” Marlene said, suddenly unsure of everything around her. “And my brother must’ve found some new muggle fascination,” she pointed at the car with her thumb.
Dorcas nodded in agreement before waving to Marlene’s family. “Hey, at least they came to pick you up,” she said in a small voice. “But I have to run, have a good holiday, yeah?” Dorcas couldn’t bear the thought of another long and drawn out goodbye.
“Yeah, take care of yourself Dori,” Marlene pulled her close and hugged her tightly, almost afraid to let go. It was bad enough finishing Hogwarts for good and venturing out into the real world, but without your best friend and with a war looming in the horizon, the world seemed a much scarier place than it ever had before.
“I love you Marley,” Dorcas responded, no longer able to contain her tears. “Take care of mum and pops will ya. And try not to let Corey run off with the first good looking muggle girl he meets,” she chuckled, referring to Corey McKinnon’s love of all things muggle.
“Love you too,” Marlene managed to spit out before breaking down into a series of sobs. “And when you see your parents, don’t forget to give them hell for me, huh?” With that, Marlene turned her back on her best friend and crossed the street to her family. She opened the car door and climbed into the front seat, fastening her seat belt as slowly as possible. As her brother Corey pulled away from the curb, she chanced a glance back to Dorcas, who was still standing in front of King’s Cross, looking more lost than ever.
So, this is the first chapter in my short story about three friends trying to survive the first war. It's honestly been years since I've written anything, so please, treat it gently, and don't forget to review!! Thanks.
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