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On Crumbling Lives by cherry_pop94
Chapter 15 : Fight
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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Warning: This chapter is quite violent. 





The little candle in the tent blew out as a gust of wind entered the room through the open flap. The cold breeze made Astoria shiver under her blanket and she rose to close the flap again. It had already become dark outside with the moon shining brightly overhead, just a crescent shaped sliver. Sam was still outside, though Astoria couldn’t make out his blurry silhouette anymore. He hadn’t been gone for more than five minutes, but Astoria still wanted him to come back soon. She didn’t want to be alone, not while Daphne was gone.

Daphne and Marcus had been gone for nearly half an hour. Astoria would have thought that they’d have returned already, perhaps with Daphne kicking and screaming in Marcus’s arms, but they hadn’t. Though Katherine didn’t show it, Astoria could tell that she was worried for her husband. Rory had long fallen asleep, but Katherine was up, pacing around the small bedroom.

Astoria could barely hear the older woman’s footsteps over the wind that continued to howl outside. It was the kind of howl that made children curl up into their parents’ beds for fear of werewolves and ghosts and all manner of monsters that may lurk in the night. Astoria wasn’t afraid of anything that went thump in the night anymore. She was unperturbed by the howling, though it may have once frightened her too. It was just another part of nature. A normal part of her new life in the tent. The strong winds beat against the fabric, whistling through tree branches – howling like banshees.

And because of the strong wind, Astoria almost didn’t hear it. A loud scream – a shout for help. It nearly disappeared within the violent winds, just another part of the nighttime gale. But Astoria did hear, she heard the shout over the din, at first she thinking that it was just a trick of the mind. But then she heard it again and jumped up to her feet. She still couldn’t see anything in the dark, but outside, she heard the yell once again, loud and clear.

“Katherine!” Astoria cried as recognition of the voice dawned on her. “Katherine come here quickly!”

The brunette woman rushed out of the bedroom, wand in hand at Astoria’s cry. “What’s going on?”

“I heard a yell,” Astoria explained as she pulled her jumped on over her shoulders and ran out the tent flap into the dark night.

~

Walls crashed down all around Daphne as spells from both sides whizzed over her head as she ran through the crossfire of a castle full of simultaneous duels. All she could hear was destruction and screaming and people crying as their loved ones fell all around them. But Daphne had one goal in mind that day. She was not at Hogwarts Castle to fight for some noble cause or for the liberation of people she didn’t know and didn’t care for. Daphne Greengrass, for all her work in the rebellion against the Dark Lord, was still a Slytherin through and through. She was not there to make an honourable sacrifice for the betterment of society, she was there for revenge. Simple, sweet, pure revenge.

Vengeance: a bloodlust reserved for the one woman in the world who took everything away from her.

And so Daphne ran. She ran through the entirety of Hogwarts searching for that untameable black hair and devious smile. Bellatrix Lestrange though, was a hard woman to find. Daphne had been at Hogwarts for over an hour and had still not seen a single trace of her.

She decided that she’d be best off searching for Bellatrix from a higher vantage point. There didn’t seem to be anyone up on the Astronomy tower, so Daphne decided to try her luck up there. Luckily, all the protective enchantments around Hogwarts had long been broken, so she apparated up to the top instead of climbing the gruelling staircase she remembered from those late night astronomy classes and frequent rebellious trips with her friends. As Daphne expected, the top of the Astronomy Tower was empty. No one else had felt any inclination to go all the way up there and from her spot, Daphne could see the chaos across the whole school grounds. Parts of the castle were sitting in ruins, the Quidditch pitch ablaze.

Daphne scanned across the entire ground, but she could not see Bellatrix Lestrange’s unmistakable black mane. She spotted Professor McGonagall out near the edge of the forest and Mulciber next to Hagrid’s hut, but not the one person Daphne had come to search for.

“I thought I’d find you here,” a voice from behind her said. Daphne whipped around and saw Marcus standing there, his brown jumper dirty with a bit of soot, but otherwise, looking unscathed. He held his hands behind his back and gave Daphne a weak smile.

“You’re looking for her,” he said.

Daphne nodded, but didn’t move any closer. There was still six feet between them, but she didn’t feel the need at all to bridge that. “I can’t find her,” she said.

“The Great Hall,” Marcus said, gesturing down the staircase. “I saw Bellatrix duelling Flitwick. Tiny man, a lot of power.”

Still, Daphne made no move towards the staircase, nor did she turn to disapparate away from the Astronomy Tower.

“That first night,” Marcus began. He looked Daphne directly into her dark, black eyes with an expression of empathy on his face. It wasn’t one that she saw often directed to her. He had that spark in him, something that said that maybe, he’d grown to care for her. Marcus saw her as small, poor, parent-less little girl who had seen her world fall apart. She was just a child, a child who had seen and done more than was right.

“You were delusional,” he said in an almost whisper. Marcus was close to Daphne now, close enough to make her shiver at his words. “You were screaming and it didn’t make any sense, but I understand now. It’s her. She took your mind and soul away from you and that cannot be forgiven.”

“I have to go,” Daphne said, looking down at her feet. Her lip quivered, and she held her wand in both hands, as if she were afraid it would run away from her.

“Revenge doesn’t change anything,” Marcus reminded her again. “But, I understand.”

“You do?”

“Let me help you, Daphne.”

~

Astoria tore through the forest with Katherine right at her heels, both of them wands drawn, as they followed the screams. Astoria could make out other voices, low ones, not all of them distinct, but she heard maybe three or four people. They gnarled, shouted, and cursed loudly between Sam’s cries for help. Astoria could feel her heart racing inside her chest as she weaved around trees and over roots, tearing through the new spring flowers.

“Sam!” Katherine’s cry rang out behind her. Her voice broke as she cried out for her oldest son, her knees buckling as she finally came across the scene. Astoria turned and saw a look of absolute fury that she’d never seen on the woman’s face before. Her wand slashed through the air with the speed and accuracy of a much more experience dueller, hitting one of the men square in the chest. Sam managed to scamper away, his wand in hand, towards his mother.

There were four men facing Astoria, Katherine, and Sam. They were snatchers, Astoria was sure, not skilled enough to have been called on by the Dark Lord to Hogwarts, but snatchers nonetheless. One man, dark, matted hair, and grey, almost sallow looking skin, leered at her with a gold capped tooth in his mouth.

“What’s worrying you, love?” the man jeered at Astoria. He sauntered towards her and she felt herself freeze up. Astoria clutched onto her wand tightly, but somehow, could not move, not even to save herself.

The man was coming closer towards her. Astoria could see the prison mark on his wrist and a large knife hanging from his belt. He gave off a pungent odour as he reached towards her. She flinched back, shutting her eyes tightly, but the man’s rough fingers never touched her. Instead he felt a soft hand on her shoulder and a wand drawn out in front of her. The man was crashed against a tree several feet back, rubbing the mark forming on his forehead.

“Don’t touch her!” Sam shouted in a bit of a shaky voice. Astoria felt tears stringing her eyes, but this time, she raised her wand too. The man Sam jinxed was quickly back on his feet, fury in his eyes as his wand sliced through the air sending a curse towards Astoria and Sam.

Instinct took over. Astoria blocked the curse with a shield charm and sent another back at him without skipping a beat. “Impedimenta!” she shouted. The curse just missed him, but that was enough. The fight had begun between the four men and Astoria, Sam, and Katherine. Spells were flying across the forest, hitting trees and roots, the noise of explosions filling the once tranquil forest.

Astoria moved like a dancer across the forest floor. Her wand moved with grace befitting of her skill, but duelling for her life was not something Astoria and her wand were used to. Spells rebounded around her, shaking branches from trees, making the birds shriek out as they left their homes. Out of the corner of her eye, Astoria saw Katherine blast away a scraggly looking attacker. Bright red blood spurted from his arm as she stumbled away from the woman who before, had only ever healed wounds.

Astoria shuddered at the sight of the blood, slowing her just enough to allow a curse to hit her on the back of her head. Astoria was flung back into a tree with what felt like a rope yanking her backwards, nearly snapping her neck. Her head hit the tree trunk hard, echoing inside her head. For a moment, the world went fuzzy, but Astoria was back up again soon, undeterred from the fight.

“Confrigo!” Astoria shouted. The spell made one of the men yelp with burns as the fire licked up his side and set his clothes ablaze. He furiously beat at the fire with a weak stream of water from his wand, but it almost consumed him already, making him walk around nothing more than a ball of fire. His screams were almost inhuman and Astoria flinched at the sound.

“Stupefy.” The man fell stunned onto the ground from Astoria’s spell. His screaming stopped, but still, all around her, explosions and yelled out spells continued on and on.

Make it stop, Astoria screamed inside her head. Her brain was pounding inside her head, screaming out in pain begging her to slow down, to stop, to end it all right there. The pounding felt like a drum again and again and again. She wanted to go home, she wanted to cry and shut her eyes and forget that anything was happening anywhere. As if she could close her eyes and then Astoria would be back in her comfortable bedroom at home with her mother and father downstairs. But they would never have that again. Now Astoria just really wanted Daphne to come back and make all this go away like she promised she always would. Her skilled sister could do that, she had promised to take care of them. Daphne was Astoria’s hero, she could make anything go away.

But Daphne wasn’t there and Astoria had to be her own hero.

~

The Great Hall was unrecognizable. The furniture was smashed into wooden chips, the ornate high table where the professors once sat had become a dueling stage with a masked Death Eater fighting against some Order of the Phoenix member. The beautiful high windows were smashed, fires blazing below them. Even the enchanted ceiling was cracked and threatened to fall down on them all. Daphne sucked in a deep breath of sulfur as she and Marcus apparated into the hall. Her eyes were immediately drawn to her – Bellatrix Lestrange. Her black hair flew out behind her as a fire burned in front of her. She looked like a demon, just crawled out from the depths of hell.

Daphne froze in her tracks as she watched her tormentor, the person who took away her soul and her parents’ lives, dance her wicked dance across the broken Great Hall. She felt her whole body freeze up, petrified, just like it always did in that dark, dark fortress.

Darling child, I’ll take care of you.

The memory of Bellatrix’s voice hissing in Daphne’s ear assaulted her. She said that she cared. Daphne darling, I love you. That slimy voice and her false promises of safety and security. Bellatrix had lied through her teeth to Daphne, taken advantage of the naivety that people rarely got to see in her. She had trusted this demon with her family’s lives. Daphne felt the rage once again boil up inside her, getting tunnel vision focused only on the degenerate witch.

Without even realizing what she was doing, Daphne turned her wand on her mentor. She sliced through the air turning Bellatrix’s own signature spell on her, catching her by surprise. Bellatrix was flung across the room, but managed some mid-air twist, landing back on her feet facing her unexpected assailant. A sly grin on her face as she began to saunter towards Daphne.

“Well, well, well,” Bellatrix cackled. “My darling Daphne! You’ve come back to me!”

Daphne gripped her wand tightly as sweat began to trickle down her forehead. She could feel herself freeze up, tense, the way she always did when Bellatrix approached. She could see nothing else but her one-time mentor’s swaggering walk, that sly grin revealing a kind of rottenness and hardness gained from years in Azkaban. All around Bellatrix, Daphne’s world blurred until it was all just darkness, darkness and her. Just like it was in that fortress, or was it a prison? Daphne wasn’t sure, it was always so dark there.

“Y-you don’t scare me anymore,” Daphne shouted as loudly as could, though her voice trembled. “You’ll pay for what you did to me!”

Still Bellatrix came closer and closer, ignoring Daphne’s shouts and the spells she hurled her way. As if deflecting a simple jinx, Bellatrix blocked each and every one of her opponent’s spells, that smile never leaving her face. Closer and closer, and still Daphne’s skill betrayed her. She trembled and shook, scared of what punishment she would have this time.

“Don’t come any closer to me!” Daphne cried. She looked around furiously, finally shaking off her singular tunnel vision in time to see the Great Hall burst into flames around her. A ring of fire all around her and Bellatrix. Daphne could make out Marcus on the other side of the flames, shouting for her, crying out for her, but he couldn’t reach her. He couldn’t help her, no one could, just like always.

And Bellatrix pounced. Daphne was knocked off her feet as Bellatrix pressed her wand into her chest, burning through her clothes, searing her skin. She had a snarl on her face, like some kind of animal’s growling mug.

“Blood traitor,” Bellatrix spat into her face. “You and your whole filthy family. You don’t deserve the mark bestowed on your arm.”

Still squirming under Bellatrix’s weight, Daphne tried to cry out as Bellatrix reached for her left arm and rolled up the sleeve of her ripped and dirty jumper. It had once been white, pure white cashmere, a gift from her parents a few birthdays ago. But now it was stained with soot and sulfur and dirt and the unmistakable red flowers that came only from blood. Bellatrix’s wand sliced through Daphne’s skin, cutting her like a knife around the area were her terrible tattoo was burned.

Daphne’s screams echoed through the hall, but almost no one heard over the other yells, the other screams from people crying out all around her. Daphne shut her eyes again, wishing to see, to feel nothing at all, but she couldn’t. She closed her eyes and remembered the dungeon with the Carrows, she opened them and there was Bellatrix giving out her punishment in the Great Hall and then in that dark fortress. The flames around Daphne turned into the cold, stone walls, the cry of the other combatants suddenly disappeared, there was only Bellatrix and there was only her.

Daphne shut her eyes again, blocking out her own screams until she was lost inside her own head, unfeeling. Nothing else existed for a moment and there was just nothingness. She could no longer feel Bellatrix’s weight on top of her, nor could she feel the sharp jab in her arm, the blood forming in a pool around her.

“Daphne, come on!” a voice shouted at her snapping her back into reality in the fiery Great Hall. She opened her eyes to find a bandage wound around her left arm, the pain gone, Bellatrix disappeared. Instead Marcus pulled her to her feet and pulled her away from the circle of flames that threatened to gulp up the both of them.

“How…?”

“I may have a boring desk job now, but I used to be a pretty good duellist in sch-”

The smile was still on his face, his wand still drawn in front, his warm hand, suddenly cold, was still holding Daphne’s as he fell pulling her down with him. His warm brown eyes, once having so much warmth were suddenly empty as a scream escaped from Daphne’s lips.

“Marcus!” she cried shaking his body and turning him so he was facing up towards the broken ceiling. His eyes were still open, but he was unmoving. “Get up!” Daphne howled.

She turned around and saw Bellatrix still coming towards her with that ever-present grin. “Did I do that?” she asked with her eyes wide. “Oops.”

Daphne got to her feet and her wand bolted through the air sending a jet of green light at Bellatrix. She dived and missed death by an inch, but Daphne was still at it, sending deadly spell after deadly spell, fire dancing in her eyes. Passion there, the kind of passion she thought that she’d never feel again after Bellatrix beat her down and destroyed her in that fortress. There was light in her eyes again as she fought back with every fibre of her being.

But still, Bellatrix Lestrange had decades of experience on Daphne Greengrass. She was the one who taught the young girl every trick she knew, so she could beat Daphne at every turn. Bellatrix knew her every weak point because she had already carefully exploited them once before, but now was different, now Daphne had nothing to lose. Her parents were dead, Marcus was dead, she had no friends, Astoria was safe under a Fidelius Charm, she had no family left in the country.

“Avada kedavra!” Daphne shouted. An angry green jet shot out from her wand and exploded off the wall just inches left of Bellatrix’s head. “Incendio! Expulso! Crucio!”

Her spells, all missing their target or deflected by Bellatrix’s impossibly nimble hand, exploded on the wall behind her, threatening to send it crashing down. Daphne hoped, though she knew a witch as skilled as Bellatrix would never allow it, that the wall would crush her enemy.

But the wall did begin to crumble. It began to fall, slowly at first, just little bricks crashing against the floor and smashing to bits around Bellatrix, but then more and more fell. The stones began to rain down around Bellatrix’s shield charm protecting herself from them. Daphne watched in awe as it seemed like just maybe the castle was on her side.

Just as the last chunks of bricks began to rain down, Bellatrix opened her arms, as if she were being crucified and screamed out her banshee shout as all those heavy stones and rocks whipped towards Daphne before she even had to chance to throw up a shield. Wind swirled around Bellatrix like some kind of tornado carrying all the debris as if they were just pebbles. Daphne didn’t even have time to scream before it all went black.

As Daphne fell under the pile of rocks burying her, across the Great Hall, a red stunner hit Bellatrix in the back and she too saw the world turn black.

~

Astoria had never turned her wand on anyone else before in a real duel. She’d never in her life caused another person pain with her magic, let alone dueled to kill. She was inexperienced in the art of duelling, but watching her in the forest, as she danced on her toes around the four grown men hell bent on capturing her dead or alive, Astoria could have easily been mistaken for a season professional. Her spells ricocheted off of trees and around stones like firecrackers, the lights looking like colourful beams of lightening illuminating the dark night.

Green. Red. Blue. Purple. White. Yellow.

They were like fireworks – beautiful, but these were also deadly. Astoria could feel herself losing blood on her right arm, but she had no time to heal herself up between dodging curses and firing them back at her enemies. Even worse, it was hard to tell who was enemy and who was friend in this dark night. Katherine had cast a light above the clearing, but still, Astoria had to squint to see in the darkness more than once.

Another purple light illuminated the clearing, making all the trees shine, bathing them all in that ethereal light. She didn’t recognize the spell at all, Astoria thought it was perhaps some kind of dark magic that she’d never encountered before. It filled the whole the clearing, looking like the kind of light that then rebounded off the person, like Northern Lights on the ground.

The purple light was just bright enough for Astoria to watch as its mark slumped to the ground, blue eyes still wide open, screaming out in pain as he erupted with blood. Her eardrums were assaulted simultaneously by another earth-shattering shriek as Katherine dropped to her knees beside her fallen son. Astoria watched helplessly as Sam bled out all over the dark glass, the red seeming much too bright to even be real. Katherine cried out, waving her wand over his body and mumbling all the spells she could, but without the help of all the resources in St Mungo’s, she could do nothing for him. They were so close too, just a few feet back and they’d have been safe. Astoria could see their tan tent and sizzling fire in the protected clearing just behind them.

Katherine and Astoria were severely outnumbered now and with Katherine bent over her son and Astoria frozen to her spot, they certainly had no chance. The Snatchers closed in on them, but still, Katherine wept and Astoria stared, until finally she wasn’t just staring anymore.

Astoria raised her wand and stared intently at her target with the tears welling up under her eyes.

“Everte Statum,” she whispered. Katherine’s eyes went wide as Astoria’s spell flung her and Sam, who’s breathing was getting shallower and shallower, back into the camp, leaving the teenage girl alone among the four Snatchers.

~

Draco Malfoy watched as his aunt fell to the floor with a thud among a pile of crushed rocks and debris from the falling castle. He ran towards her, but then right past her, his wand raised at another pile of rocks, lifting them all up and flinging them wherever else there seemed to be space at a frantic pace. He kept digging through the pile, flinging the stones until he saw that peek of raven black hair and pale skin covered in angry red cuts. Daphne’s once lovely white jumper was all covered in dirty and torn up so much that Draco could have seen the Dark Mark on her forearm had it not been covered in those white bandages and red blossoms.

Daphne’s hand stirred as Draco lifted more of the rocks burying her, but her face was blank. Her eyes were shut tight with bruises and cuts forming all over her. Her breathing was shallow, but she was still alive. Draco picked her up, grunting a bit under her weight, but then ran off with Daphne slowly inching further and further away from their world. 





Author's Note: Sorry this took me so long to post! It actually would have been here about three days earlier, but I kept editing it and pulling it out of the validation queue last minute. Because of all my ridiculous delays though, the next chapter is actually really close to done! So hurray for that! Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter, though there are some parts I'm still iffy about, I'm generally pleased with the way it turned out. Feedback would be lovely!

Stefanie


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