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In My Time of Dying by Stag Night
Chapter 21 : The Tube
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 8


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In My Time of Dying
Disclaimer:
The story title is a song originally recorded (under that title) by Bob Dylan. The world, characters and canon events belong to J. K. Rowling. Everything else belongs to me. It is illegal to publish and distribute fanfiction without J.K. Rowling's permission. You may not copy, post elsewhere, change or edit any part of this story. You may not claim it as your own.



C H A P T E R . T W E N T Y - O N E
The Tube




“James. James!”


James’s eyes opened and he blinked in confusion for moment. His mind was still in his dreams; he could still smell Lily’s hair, still feel her warmth around him. His hand shot out and ran over the smooth bed sheets beside him. Empty. There was no Lily there, and he paused long enough to feel suddenly lonely.


“James, please!”


It occurred to him, then, where the familiar voice was coming from. Rubbing his face tiredly, James sighed and rolled over, fumbling for his wand on the bedside table. It had been an excellent dream and he was reluctant.


Lumos,” he said slowly, tiredly. The tip of the wand obediently lit, and James laid it down on the bed to light the room. Remus’s room. He spent the night in Sirius’s flat again. He’d barely spent any time at home with his parents since learning of the McKinnons’ deaths nearly two weeks earlier. He wasn’t sure why.


James heaved a sigh and his hand came to rest on the small mirror lying on the bedside table. His fingers closed around it, vaguely registering who it was on the other end in his bleariness, despite knowing who, exactly, had the other mirror.


“Please wake up,” Remus said desperately, a hoarse whisper.


“I’m awake,” he reassured, lifting the mirror to his face in the weak wand light.


Remus breathed a shaky sigh of relief, for he had been whispering into the mirror for at least ten minutes now. James watched as Remus banged his head back against a wall of earth and swallowed roughly at the small victory. His friend’s face held a slight sheen of sweat, and worried brown eyes stared back at him after a moment.


“What is it, Moony?”


Remus glanced away, at something nearby in the dark. “Keep your voice down, Prongs, please!” he begged, his voice barely a faint breath. He looked wary, as if afraid of being caught at any moment, and James was slightly fearful for him.


“All right,” whispered James agreeably. It felt terribly familiar, sitting up in the dark late at night, whispering through the magic mirrors. When Sirius still lived with the Blacks, the two of them always did the exact same thing. He hated doing it now, the innocence of it lost as he looked upon Remus’s worried face. “What’s wrong?”


“I heard the werewolves talking,” whispered Remus. “One of them meets with Voldemort and his Death Eaters on occasion. They came back, and they met with the Elders to speak of Voldemort’s plans and the werewolves’ role in the war.”


Remus closed his eyes. James waited patiently.


“James, tomorrow morning there will be an attack in the London tube.”


James thought his heart stopped for a brief moment. “What?”


“Nine o’clock, Prongs. You have to tell Dumbledore. Please, James, I can’t send a Patronus from here without it being seen and giving me away.”


“All right,” James whispered, his throat dry.


“I’ve got to go,” said Remus then; his job was done. James only nodded. “Hey, James. Be careful, right?”


“Yeah, right,” he whispered, and then Remus was gone. James lowered the mirror and sat in the dark for a moment, lost in his thoughts. All he could do was glance towards the heavens in disbelief. He shook his head slightly and wondered why they couldn’t get a break.


He picked his wand up again and raised it towards the window. The familiar silver stag burst from it’s tip and soared through the window effortlessly.


And then he rolled out of bed. Dumbledore would be calling them all to an emergency meeting shortly, anyway. James glanced at his watch. It was barely three o’clock. He rapped loudly on Sirius’s door as he made his way down the hall to the kitchen.


They might as well have breakfast, at least.







II.

All of the Order members looked rather drowsy as they sat in the familiar old basement of the Hog’s Head. Sirius had dark circles under his glassy eyes and he stared dully at the floor. Peter looked as if he’d rather be anywhere but there; he chewed his fingernails nervously and stared unseeingly at Frank and Alice. And Lily’s red hair could rival James’s for its messiness; she looked rather unhappy at her appearance and was constantly running her hands over her robes in fits of nervousness.


The silvery Patronuses that had soared to everyone’s homes had gone out like an army, and they were only waiting for the last few members to show up. Caradoc was still in his pyjamas, and Dorcas sat with her arms crossed and her eyes closed in her dressing gown, as if hoping to catch just a few more minutes of sleep.


Gideon and Fabian entered the room, yawning and stretching. Dumbledore, looking worried as he stood at the front of the group, gave the brothers a curt nod.


“What’re we waiting for?” growled Moody after several long moments.


James looked around.


“I guess we were waiting for Marlene,” said Peter sadly. Everyone stared at him for a moment, and an awkward silence, followed by forced shuffling and mutterings, came over all of them.


Dumbledore looked particularly heartbroken at the realisation, as if surprised to suddenly understand that Marlene wouldn't be coming. His blue eyes, their twinkle long gone, met James’s for a moment. The old man then cleared his throat, causing the room to grow quiet, and he began to explain to the group the news from Remus. They didn’t know what to expect, didn’t even have a clue about where, exactly, the attack was going to happen. Nevertheless, a hopeful plan was worked out. They were going to attempt to counter something they knew nothing about.








III.

Brian Evans sighed at his wife as she powdered her nose in their restroom.


“You’re going to make me late,” he told her impatiently, though his voice betrayed a hint of amusement.


Mae spared his reflection a glance through the mirror and then pulled out her tube of lipstick. “Honestly, Dear,” she responded. “You aren’t normally leaving the house for another thirty minutes! Would you relax? We have got a ton of time.”


Brian grumbled and left the bedroom, presumably heading downstairs to turn on the television. And Mae was glad, for he was driving her insane with all of his hovering. She checked her make up one last time and then ran the brush through her hair again.


It was Monday morning. Brian had to go downtown to work as he did every weekday. But today was quite different, for today Mae was going with him. Her daughter, Lily’s, birthday was the next day. Mae was going to be meeting with her elderly mother and then they planned to shop together for birthday gifts and have lunch.


And then the next day - Tuesday, January 30th - Mae planned to surprise Lily.


She smiled at her reflection in the mirror, excited. She missed her youngest child since Lily had moved to London. It was going to be so very hard not to stop by for a surprise visit today, as she would be in the area. She was torn between desperately wishing to see Lily, and praying they wouldn’t bump into each other and spoil the surprise.


“Mae!” shouted Brian from downstairs.


“All right!” she called back, putting in her earrings. “I’m coming, you impatient old man.”


Grumbling to herself, Mae gathered her purse from where she had set it on the bed, checking to be sure she still had the money she had pulled out of the bank on Saturday. Once she was downstairs, she pulled her travelling cloak from the closet.


Petunia was slouched over a teacup at the table, looking disgruntled.


“What is it, Tuney, darling?” asked Mae in hurried concern after catching sight of her.


Petunia’s hard, pale eyes turned towards her. “Nothing,” she said irritably. Mae tutted, for she knew how jealous Petunia was of Lily. She felt quite terrible for her eldest daughter; it did seem rather unfair that one child was magical and the other couldn’t be. But at the same time, she couldn’t punish Lily for that. She cast Petunia a sympathetic look.


“Are you certain you don’t want to go with us, Petunia? Grand mum would be properly thrilled to see you.”


“No, thank you,” grumbled Petunia, turning back to her teacup. Then she tossed her brown hair importantly and stood from the table, carrying her tea over to the couch. The news was on and she intended to watch it just as she did every morning after her father left.


(Vernon, after all, was always up to date on the current events. He always had an opinion to voice, and she wanted to be able to agree with him.)


“Anyway,” she said snidely, setting the teacup down on the tea table and turning back to her mother. “I’ve got far too much work to do for the wedding. I was going to order the cake today, Mum. You know, I really would have liked to have your help with these things! A mother should be involved in her eldest daughter’s wedding!”


Mae couldn’t help rolling her eyes. “Yes, Petunia. But I can’t just ignore your sister’s birthday, can I? If you would like to wait until this afternoon, I would be more than happy to visit the cake shop with you.”


Petunia’s eyes narrowed at the words, ‘your sister.’ She couldn’t stop her nostrils from flaring slightly as she looked up at her mother’s face. “And tomorrow, Mum, I made arrangements to meet with a Florist-”


Mae sighed. “Oh, Petunia,” she said impatiently. “Tomorrow is Lily’s birthday! You know-” but she was interrupted by the impatient sound of the horn honking. She hadn’t even noticed Brian slip out the front door and head to the car. Mae threw her hands up into the air, tiring of his impatience. “We will talk about this tonight, Petunia.”


Petunia glared at her mother’s back until the front door slammed shut.


The small village of Cradley Heath was a two hour drive from London. The train, however, cut the travel time in half. Brian read the newspaper as he travelled, ignoring his wife’s presence. Mae didn’t mind; she was happy to look out the window. She didn’t go downtown very often, and for the moment, life was good.


One daughter getting married, and the other happy and successful and in love. The middle aged woman sighed contentedly and allowed her mind to slip off into a day dream - a day dream that she had often as of late. She was dreaming of her future grandchildren.


The hour long ride breezed by; Mae was quite stunned when they pulled into the train station in London. Brian held her hand as they got off the train, and he led her out of the station and onto the sidewalk. He took her down a flight of stairs to the subway.


The underground platform was crowded with commuters. Mae was bumped and jostled as people hurried past, and she gripped Brian’s hand even more tightly, lest she be ripped away from him. She certainly didn’t know her way around the city as well as a woman her age should have.


Brian seemed to know exactly where he was, which car to board, where they were going. He pulled her around, and she soon found herself travelling at high speed through the tunnels beneath London, heading for another part of the city.


Mae stared solemnly at her husband’s face as she clutched a pole for support in the rocking carriage. He looked so relaxed, so confident and at ease. Perhaps it was because he did this every day. Mae felt on edge and paranoid. She glanced around at the people in the carriage with them. Then she checked her handbag to make sure she hadn’t lost the money in the crowd. It was still there.


Brian glanced at her. “This place we’re going,” he said, talking loudly over the noise of travel. “I will meet you right where we get off. Be there at noon, and I’ll join you for lunch.” He smiled at her. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you which train to get on after we eat and you can go home. Then you won’t have to see my ugly mug again until you pick me up from the Cradley Heath station this evening.”


Mae only nodded and clutched the pole tighter. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.







IV.

Sirius hammered the palm of his hand nervously against his thigh. The underground station was crowded, sweaty. Horns honked as the trains went rushing past at breakneck speeds. Businessmen in suits stood and waited, reading newspapers. Mothers soothed crying infants in bulky prams that caused others to give irritated looks. Children - those too young to be in school - danced on their toes and complained that they needed to use the restroom.


Sirius eyed the little ones and his sense of fear grew. Sweat erupted on his forehead and he pushed his black hair off his face, feeling sickened.


He glanced over the heads of everyone. Alastor stood on the stairs, looking gruff and wary. When he caught Sirius’s eye, he gave a curt nod.


Beside Sirius, James was looking suspiciously around at the crowd of people. He searched for anyone who looked like they might be planning something. He narrowed his eyes at several different people, earning affronted glares.


Peter chewed his lip nervously. “Do you think we ought to warn people?”


“Sure, Wormtail. Go tell these people that they all have to leave because you’ve had a psychic vision of disaster, and see how well that goes over, eh? Go on, then,” snapped Sirius. “That bloke over there looks friendly,” he said, eyeing a harsh looking importantly dressed man. “Go on and tell him, Wormtail.”


“Shut up, Padfoot,” demanded James, digging his elbow sharply into his best friend’s ribs. “Now’s not the time. What do you think of that bloke over there?” He surreptitiously nodded his head towards a dodgy looking fellow in a trench coat.


Sirius ignored the smug look on Peter’s face and followed James’s gaze.


(Part of him, though, wanted nothing more than to sock his friend. Peter had a terrible way of trying too desperately to be on James’s good side, and sometimes, on the few occasions when James actually stood up for the boy, Sirius felt slightly betrayed.)


“I don’t know, James. He just looks like a common thief or something to me…”


“Oh, blast it,” sighed Peter in frustration. “We don’t even know what we’re looking for! By the time we figure it out, it’ll probably be too late!”


“Shut up, Wormtail!” growled Sirius. This time James said nothing. Peter made a face at Sirius, and several seconds passed in which the tension built to the point of being almost tangible.


“Oh, sod off, you two,” James finally muttered miserably, catching Peter’s face-making out of the corner of his eye. “There are bigger things going on here.”


“You’re right, Prongs, I’m sorry,” said Peter automatically, and he turned away from Sirius.


Sirius could only roll his eyes and huff indignantly, falling silent and broody. He wondered how everyone else was doing, if anything had happened yet. They had been split into groups and were covering various platforms throughout the area. Lily had been sent off with the Prewett brothers and Edgar Bones.


(He knew it was why James was so irritable. James had thrown a fit over the fact that Lily was going to be separated from him. Dumbledore had quite calmly explained that, while they knew not what to expect, he had tried to divide groups based on skill level. The three Marauders had gotten Alastor Moody - Lily, the newest Order member, was placed with the skilled Edgar Bones.


James knew, at least, that she was in good hands, but he hated not knowing for certain that she was all right.)


“I’m sure Evans is fine, James,” said Sirius under his breath, and it was this that earned an appreciative glance from James. “Edgar’s a hell of a wizard, and Gideon and Fabian are no slouches, either.”


Peter scowled at Sirius, and Sirius couldn’t help but smile crookedly and smugly back at him after James had turned away. Just to be irritating, he winked, and Peter pursed his lips and looked away.


No matter how much Peter admired James, no matter how much he tried to be like him, tried to suck up, tried to be his best friend, he could never understand the way Sirius could. Peter felt sickened with yearning and desperation, how badly he wanted to be apart of something like that. How teasingly close he was, witnessing it every day and always feeling just on the outer edge of the circle. He crossed his arms and turned away on the pretence of surveying the crowd once more.


(He'd tried, sometimes, to duplicate the friendship that James and Sirius had with his remaining fellow Marauder, Remus. But Remus wasn't the same, wasn't as enthusiastic. Remus loved them all and had no chosen 'best friend.' And Remus wasn't James; Peter didn't idolise him like that, and it wasn't there.)


A horn blew loudly. Again, again. It happened very quickly, all at once, so that there was no stopping it - there was nothing they could do. It was on top of them before they could even react.


Sirius heard the horn and instantly looked up, glancing around the platform. All of the Muggles glanced towards the oncoming train in horror. A few of them turned and ran past Moody and back up the stairs to the street. Sirius’s grey eyes searched desperately through the crowd, hoping to find somebody with a wand, somebody looking as if he were concentrating very hard whilst everyone else looked terrified. Somebody who looked to be controlling the speeding train.


And then he saw him. Sirius pulled his own wand out. “There!” he shouted loudly, and he saw Moody start towards the man dressed in robes.


“Run, run, get out!” screamed Peter suddenly. He shoved past Sirius and James and took off for dear life, shoving through the crowds that moved with him.


The tracks shifted, so that the incoming train was directed to where the scheduled outgoing train was parked and waiting for people to board. They shared the same tracks now. There was no time before the collision. It would be a head-on crash. The one headlight of the approaching train grew quickly larger, until it was blinding.


“Fuck, go!” screamed James now, deciding in a split second that they wouldn't have time to stop it. He picked up a wailing child and gave Sirius a hard shove, pushing him to run. Obediently, Sirius did, James’s hand on his back, pushing him ever faster, the child crying in his ears.


He glanced over his shoulder. He couldn't see the Death Eater any longer. Moody was looking around as well, appearing flustered. It looked as if their suspect had Disapparated in the commotion.


It was a mere five seconds from the time the horn sounded, the time people began to see a nightmare and try to get out of it, to the time of collision.


The sound of breaking steel and glass was deafening. The crash was horrendous, sparks flew everywhere as James and Sirius ran. Upon impact, the oncoming train was thrown into the air, using the parked train it had hit almost as a ramp to launch itself. Sirius looked over his shoulder in horror as he saw it approach - it was going to hit the platform. It was going to land right on top of all these people.


James had a handful of his shirt, dragging him along almost mindlessly. Sirius twisted away.


“Sirius!” James yelled in dismay, half turning back. He shoved the child into the arms of a stranger running by, and reached out to grab Sirius’s arm. Sirius ripped it away, out of his grasp.


Without bothering to think of how many people might see him standing and casting a spell with his wand, how many Muggles would find it odd, or how the secrecy act would be breached, Sirius yanked his only weapon out and flung his wand arm towards the flying wreckage.


Impedimenta!” he screamed, and like an explosion, the spell shot from his wand and hit his target just as his target hit the platform.


In horror, Sirius watched as a few people - those who hadn’t been fast enough, hadn’t reacted in time - were crushed beneath it, disappearing from sight. Though slowed, the train was still a beastly mass of metal and could still kill with ease.


And though the train slowed as it slid across the platform on its side, the flying debris did not. A sharp scrap of thin metal flew towards Sirius at incredible speed - he didn’t see it coming, not through all the other bits of glass and blazing engine parts. He was stunned when it hit him, embedding itself deep into his chest. It was like being stabbed by a butcher's knife.


He dropped to his knees as he felt the warm blood soaking through his shirt.


Instantly, James had an arm around him, struggling to hold him up. “Protego!” he panted, tapping Sirius’s shoulder with his free hand. He didn’t know if the shield charm would work against physical harm as well as magical. It was something he had never tested.


Perhaps they were just lucky that nothing else hit them as he dragged Sirius towards the stairs, or perhaps the shield charm did, in fact, stop more debris from striking them. The platform was nearly empty now, the last dozen people shouting in a panic as they rushed out. Moody rushed forward and grabbed Sirius’s other arm, helping James drag him out of the station. The gruff man eyed the wreckage in wide-eyed worry as they moved.


“It’s going to explode,” he said then. James threw him a look of horror; how did things get this bad? They were ready, they were here waiting and were prepared.


Alastor dropped Sirius’s arm and rushed towards the fiery wreckage.


“Alastor,” James shouted after him. “Damn it.”


Screams of anguish and pain could be heard from within the two crushed trains. Sounds came from a woman trapped beneath the train, terrible sounds, sounds that James knew he would never forget. They were the sounds of people who knew they were going to die, people who probably accepted it and welcomed it now, and for some it wasn’t coming fast enough.


Aguamenti,” growled Moody, approaching the smoking mess and trying to ignore the weak cries for help. The water poured from the tip of his wand like a fountain as he walked, wondering where to begin, which blazing area was the biggest risk. He never got the chance to water the mess down, however.


The explosion came quite suddenly, and Moody was thrown off of his feet with the force of it. He landed on his back at the foot of the stairs. James, who still stood on the stairs clutching Sirius, nearly lost his glasses as they were blown up into his fierce hair. The heat of the explosion played against his face and parched his lips. He glanced down at Sirius.


And Sirius, who barely held onto consciousness, saw the bright light of the explosion in a blur. And then it all went black.







V.

The wails of sirens rocked the scene. The streets of London were alive with flashing lights. The entire block was roped off, barring onlookers from seeing what had happened. The sidewalks were lined with the people who had been on the platform. Many of them were bleeding from the flying debris, some had torn clothing from the stampede to safety.


Paramedics and firemen crouched over people, and smoke poured out of the underground stairwell.


Aurors were on the scene, speaking in raised voices with policemen. Peter was speaking with Bartemius Crouch, giving an account of what he had seen. Moody had a handkerchief out and was attempting to wipe soot from his face. His eyebrows were singed and his forehead bright red with burns from the explosion.


James didn’t stick around. He Disapparated right where he stood, halfway up the concrete stairs, clutching Sirius tightly. He didn’t care who saw them disappear.








VI.

When Sirius woke up, he was startled to find himself in an unfamiliar white room. He slowly became aware of various small details, such as hushed voices or the fact that he didn’t even have a shirt on. He glanced down at himself and saw a thick cream slathered upon his chest. His nose wrinkled in dislike.


Sirius glanced around then and his eyes fell on James, who sat in a chair at his bedside. James was leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees and hands clutched together tightly. He was watching Sirius earnestly, his face solemn. When Sirius turned his head towards him, James’s eyebrows raised.


“Hello,” James said simply, looking rather pale.


Sirius groaned, feeling a sudden ache within him. And suddenly, he could remember it all. “The tube,” he croaked. Just breathing, the effort to use his voice, caused a sharp pain in his chest. “Ow,” he moaned.


“Shh. It’s over, Sirius. We're in St. Mungo's.”


“H-How mm-many... p-people were... were kill-killed?” gasped Sirius with great difficulty, struggling to voice the question through the stabbing pain with every breath. His face contorted with pain; he was surprised at how he sounded. Like a dying person, struggling. James stared at him a moment, wishing he'd stop talking.


And then he pursed his lips as he considered how to answer. “A lot,” he finally sighed. Sirius groaned, and James quickly added, “But not as many as there would have been if you hadn’t gone back to slow the train. You were a hero.”


“Nnn... No,” Sirius quickly disagreed. He felt as if an elephant were standing on his chest with every word.


James shrugged. “You did more than I did.”


Sirius also shrugged, though he winced and bit back a pained whine that threatened to escape him over the movement. His voice was laboured and weak as he spoke, straining with each syllable. Words were broken as he was forced to inhale in sharp pain; it seemed to take ages to spit out and stutter what he was trying to ask.


He felt foolish at how his voice shook and gasped as he tried to fight through the burning in his chest. James didn't seem to mind.


“You- saved-d a ch-child. That’s... just... just as immmp-portant, I th-think. Was any-anyone... anyone h-hurt? The... the Order? Did- did P-Peter ...get out ...out of th-there?”


He swallowed, trying to ignore the horrible gurgling sound that seemed to occur each time he inhaled, and looked earnestly at James for an answer he half dreaded.


James nodded slowly. “Peter got out,” he confirmed gently.


“Guh... good.”


James rolled his eyes. He didn’t understand how two people could argue so much and still show concern for each other at the end of the day. “Moody suffered some small burns. But that’s it.”


“Good,” whispered Sirius. His hand reached up to touch his bare chest, the injury. It ached fiercely, sharply; every breath was a struggle between pain and necessity. He recoiled, however, when his fingers touched the sticky cream. He made a face at James.


“Don’t touch it,” warned his best friend. “The Healer will have a fit.”


“What haa-happened?” He gasped for air. He thought he might die at any moment, though James didn't seem worried. Clearly his injuries weren't life threatening, and he had only to wait for them to heal.


James took a deep breath and rubbed his hands together. “A piece of metal was stuck in your chest. Broken ribs, a collapsed lung.” He forced a smile. “You know, the every day sort of thing...” The smile quickly slipped from James's face. “If this was a Muggle hospital, you probably wouldn't have survived...”


Sirius allowed his head to crash back against the pillow. A collapsed lung certainly explained his difficulty breathing and horrendous pain in speaking. “I w-wish we could have... could have ss... st-stopped it,” he said hoarsely.


James looked down at his hands and wished for the very same thing. It was overwhelming, suddenly, after their recent victories, how terribly things had gone wrong. “We can’t stop it all, Pads,” he finally said, feeling defeated.


Sirius eyed him for a moment before looking away. “N-nno, I- guess not,” he agreed dejectedly. The room was filled with silence.


Lily and Peter rushed into the room then, and Sirius recognised the hushed voices he had heard upon waking as being theirs. They had been arguing with the Healer about being allowed in to see him, and, judging by the smug look upon Lily’s face (and the irritated one on the trailing Healer's), they’d won the argument.


Feeling much more self conscious around Lily than he was when it was just James alone, Sirius hurried to pull the white sheets up to his chin to cover the disgusting wound.


“Sirius,” said Lily kindly, approaching his bed. “You’re awake.” She combed the hair off of his forehead for a moment as James and Peter looked on and then quite suddenly slugged him in the arm. “You gave us a fright!”








VII.

It was ten o’clock. Petunia had showered and gotten dressed and done her hair. She had already phoned Vernon and had a long, pleasant chat. He spoke of how grand the wedding was going to be, boasted that it would be the wedding to talk about for years to come.


And Petunia loved every bit of it; she felt special among Vernon’s family. She knew Vernon was the spoiled child of the Dursley family, the youngest, the one everyone rooted for. She knew Vernon’s family would throw the most extravagant wedding, even if her own didn’t have the funds to do so. She relished the thought of being the centre of attention for once, of being known as “Mrs Vernon Dursley,” or even just “Vernon’s wife.”


She felt privileged just to be a part of it all.


To the Dursleys, Lily Evans was nothing, a nobody. Petunia Evans was everything - the future wife of everyone's son.


Humming pleasantly as she wiped down the kitchen counters, for she loved to clean and sometimes allowed herself to picture having her very own home soon, Petunia imagined the cakes she had seen in the bridal magazine.


She was quite fond of several of them. She looked forward to this afternoon when her mother would accompany her to the cake store, and for once everything would be about her.


Folding the wet cloth after she was finished with the wipe down, Petunia cheerfully grabbed the magazine off the table and headed to the living room to pour through it once again.


She settled on the couch. The television was still on, and Petunia spared it a glance as she opened the worn monthly digest. A breaking news story was on, and that immediately caught her attention.


“…massive wreckage on the Underground,” the reporter was saying. Behind him was the scene, the ambulances and the injured people lined up. “Hundreds are presumed dead. There were passengers in both trains involved in the collision and it has been confirmed now that none of the passengers have survived the impact. Additionally, several people on the platform were brutally crushed…”


Petunia’s heart hammered furiously in her chest. She launched herself from the couch and leapt towards the television, turning the old fashioned knob to change the channel.


“...all scheduled departures are now on hold...” droned one man. She interrupted him, changing the channel again.


“...suspected act of terrorism...”


“What time was this?” she worried, feeling sick and turning the knob again.


The breaking news story was playing on all channels, she quickly came to see. She flipped through all of them, and back again, until one of them finally gave her the information she was looking for.


“That’s right, Jim, this happened at about nine o’clock this morning…”


Petunia tuned out the rest of it as she stared blankly at the glowing screen. After a moment she reached out a pale arm and shut it off. The house was filled with silence. Petunia stood up and paced worriedly, unsure of what to do or how to distract herself, or how to find out more information.


After a moment, she picked up the telephone and dialled her father’s work. His secretary answered and confirmed her worst fears: he hadn’t arrived yet.


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