[ Printer Friendly Version ] [ Report Abuse ]
Chapter 33 : Giants
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 55|
Background: Font color:
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.
There was nothing to do but stare at each other, wonder what on earth had happened, why nobody had seen anything. The fact that somebody had used magic in the alley had done little to help them. Dumbledore had them out all night in search of Caradoc - they walked the streets. Some of them were stationed in the town’s pubs in case he came in. Some of them walked the narrow alleys, looking for anything.
Gideon and Fabian attempted to put their tracking skills to use, but they found nothing around the town’s perimeter. They had even wandered up to the cave they had found so many months before, but they knew before they even got there that it hadn’t been used. Their protective charms hadn’t alerted them of a breach, after all.
Dorcas Meadows and Lily sat in Caradoc’s cottage, waiting. He never came back. Dorcas cried throughout the night, and Lily made attempts to console the woman, but even she herself teared up whenever she allowed herself to dwell on her worry. Instead she spent much of her time in the cottage pacing around, staring unseeingly out of the windows, always waiting for something. She made them both tea that neither of them really took more than a sip of, and felt guilty about dirtying some of Caradoc’s dishes afterwards. She busied herself with washing the teacups the manual way, and that quickly turned to tidying the entire house. And then she felt even more guilty for not leaving things just as they had been when Caradoc was last here.
When morning finally came and there was still no sign of Caradoc, Frank and Alice had gone to the Ministry to file a report on a missing wizard. Being Aurors for the Ministry, they simply went straight to Frank’s cubicle and began to fill out the form themselves.
“How can you file a missing wizard report on a grown man?” grumped one of the fellow Aurors over his coffee, scanning a copy of the report after Frank dropped it on his desk. “Maybe he just decided to take a vacation from all of this for a while.”
Frank growled and leaned closer, towering over the man in a threatening fashion. “He is a friend of mine,” he said stiffly. “He disappeared right out of Hogsmeade. He didn’t run away.”
The Auror stared at Frank a moment, as if surprised to see such a personal interest in a case by a fellow employee. They saw this sort of thing every day, after all. Frank had never responded to any other case with such venom. “Does Crouch know?” the Auror finally asked.
Frank held up the stack of paper. “He’ll be getting a report as I get to him,” he responded.
The Auror sighed and leaned back in his chair, picking up the copy to scan it once more. “I’ll start looking around,” he said, and Frank moved along.
Over the next week, as the Aurors began to focus more on locating Caradoc and less on locating other missing people - those who were strangers, unknown to them, fell by the wayside in the wake of one of their own missing - the Daily Prophet began to take notice. Soon, the missing Caradoc Dearborn made it to the front page, though in reality, there was little different about his case than anyone else’s. But the Dearborns were an old wizarding family. Not as rich as some of the old families, but well known and well liked all the same. It became the topic of conversation everywhere, and at Hogwarts, where the old castle towered above the town of Hogsmeade, the latest class of seventh years were heavily disappointed that their last visit to Hogsmeade was once again cancelled.
It mattered not, however, for the school year was over, and the village soon saw a bustle of activity for one last day as students crowded around the station and boarded the train to go home. This time, however, due to Caradoc’s recent disappearance from the village, the Ministry had stationed ten Aurors around the train to protect the students from any danger. The moment the train was gone, so were the Aurors, with loud pops that marked their disappearances, unaware of the disappointed looks of shopkeepers as they once again placed boards over their doors and windows.
One week turned into two, and July quickly came upon them once more. James sighed and idly flipped his wand through his fingers, resting his cheek upon his other hand as he leaned lazily on the table. He was reading the newspaper with an irritated look on his face.
“It’s been nearly a full year since we joined the Order!” said Peter excitedly. He was sitting beside James, sipping a bottle of butterbeer in the Potters’ small kitchen. It seemed to be a personal victory to him to have made it to a year without being killed or injured. Or, perhaps, without running away screaming.
(He wasn’t as brave as people seemed to think he was, and he still wasn’t sure why he had been made a Gryffindor rather than a Hufflepuff.)
Sirius plucked a cigarette from his mouth and mashed it into a conjured ash tray. With a wave of his wand, James silently cleared the smoke and the smell from the room.
(Lily didn’t allow the smoke in the house. Fortunately, she had gone out with Alice, who had invited her specifically for a girl’s night. She had told Lily she wanted to ‘talk,’ and Lily, rather uncertainly, had agreed to go out. She had few friends of her own, after all, and it would be nice to get away from the four boys who where a constant presence in her life these days.)
“Lily was there all night, right?” asked Sirius, banishing the ash tray. His grey eyes studied James. “At Caradoc’s, I mean?”
“She was there all night,” confirmed James. “So was Dorcas.”
“And no Dark Mark ever appeared over Caradoc’s place,” continued Sirius. He idly rubbed his chin, looking thoughtful.
James paled considerably as he looked up, away from the newspaper to study his friend. The thought of Lily being in the house whilst a Death Eater conjured a Dark Mark over it was disturbing. He said nothing; he only stared at Sirius as this thought dawned on him.
“Doesn’t mean anything,” said Remus tiredly. “As far as I can tell, they only put the mark where they kill somebody. Not over the person’s house. Obviously, Caradoc wasn’t killed there, or we’d have found him by now.”
“Have there been any other reports of Dark Marks?” asked Sirius, leaning forward to search for the evidence of any in James’s newspaper.
James sighed and shoved the newspaper across the table, towards Sirius, who snatched it up. “There’s always reports of Dark Marks, idiot.”
Sirius, who was rather good at ignoring James’s quips after nearly eight years, wasn’t listening. Instead, his brow sunk low over his eyes as he scanned the articles. “Hang on,” he said tersely. “What’s this rubbish?”
“What?” asked James warily. He was mildly surprised at his friend’s reaction, for he hadn’t seen anything in the paper worth getting angry about. He rubbed his forehead tiredly, and then motioned to Peter to hand over the bottle of butterbeer he’d been drinking. Peter did so, and James stole a large swig.
Sirius handed the paper back and very deliberately tapped his finger on a section for James to read. James peered at it and murmured aloud, “’Caradoc Dearborn - missing or runaway?’” He lowered the paper and made a face at his friends. “Rita Skeeter,” he growled.
“They need to fire that bitch,” said Peter, carefully wiping the rim of his butterbeer bottle where James had drank. He seemed to suddenly decide that getting James’s germs could, perhaps, help him to be more like his cooler friend. He shrugged and took a hurried drink, as if to get them before they dried up or escaped.
Remus fought against the smile that threatened to crack his face. He attempted to look disapprovingly at Peter. “Really, Wormtail,” he uttered, trying not to laugh.
“She is a bitch,” muttered Sirius in Peter’s defence, as he lifted his own butterbeer for a drink. Remus rolled his eyes and idly rubbed his elbow, which had begun to ache.
Sirius noticed and swallowed his mouthful of butterbeer. “Full moon’s in a couple of days,” he said idly. Remus only sighed.
James was too distracted with reading the hurtful article to pay attention. Until the door suddenly opened.
All four of the young wizards jumped to their feet with their wands drawn, the newspaper forgotten where it lay on the table.
“Goodness,” said Lily in an amused tone, turning to slip off her jacket as the door slammed shut behind her. She carefully hung it on the peg, and looked even more suspicious of them when she turned back to find they still hadn’t lowered their wands. Just as she was about to speak, she was interrupted.
“What did you used to call James at Hogwarts?” demanded Sirius.
Looking momentarily confused, Lily glanced at James. “Er… Bigheaded? Arrogant? A bullying toe rag? I could go on and on…”
Sirius grinned and tucked his wand into his pocket, satisfied that it really was Lily. Remus groaned and sat down much more slowly. The sudden movement had brought on a sudden explosion of aching in all of his joints.
James shoved his own wand into his pocket again and smiled ruefully at Sirius. “You’re an arse, Padfoot,” he grumbled, stepping around the table and bounding forward eagerly to greet Lily. They exchanged a quick peck on the lips while the rest of the Marauders watched expectantly.
“That’s it?” asked Peter, sounding mildly disappointed as he dropped heavily into his chair.
“Shut up, Wormy,” said Lily cheerfully, tossing her hair.
“What would you like, Wormtail - porn?” teased James, wrapping an arm around Lily’s waist and leading her to join them at the table. “How was your night?” he asked her brightly, throwing Sirius a pointed look. Sirius, understanding, suddenly grabbed the newspaper and shoved it aside, as if it were in the way.
“Everything all right with Alice?” continued James, pulling Lily onto his lap.
Lily narrowed her eyes at Sirius as she sat down with James. “What’s in the paper that you don’t want me to see?” she demanded.
Sirius paled slightly. “Just making room,” he muttered, balling the paper up in his hands.
“I’m not stupid,” insisted Lily defensively. She turned to Remus, who immediately blushed. “You can’t lie to me, Remus,” she told him confidently.
James sighed. “It was just a stupid article by Skeeter,” he said. “That’s all. You can see it if you want. I didn’t think you’d want to,” he added, motioning to Sirius to give the paper back.
Lily looked irritated. “No, its okay,” she told Sirius, stopping him from handing the wrinkled paper back. “I don’t really care to see it, you’re right.” She turned to James and made a half hearted attempt to flatted his hair. “Frank and Alice are trying to have a baby,” she told him.
“Oh,” said James, caught off guard.
“Guess they’ve been trying for a few months now. No luck, though. That’s why she wanted me to come over for a bit, she just wanted a break from everything.”
“Maybe it’s not a very good time to be having kids,” suggested Sirius. He sounded oddly annoyed.
Lily shrugged at him. “Maybe they know that, too. Maybe that’s why it’s not working for them. Too much stress… but they still want to have children.” She caught the look on Sirius’s face. “Oh, Sirius,” sighed Lily. “You wouldn’t understand. They’re newlyweds! Of course they want to start a family, war or no war. They’ve been married nearly a year now, I think they’re more than ready…”
“Is that what you want?” Sirius demanded then. James shot him a warning look, which Sirius ignored.
Lily seemed caught off guard. “I… I wouldn’t mind having children,” she said defensively, thrusting her chin into the air.
Sirius tried very hard to stop the flicker of disgust from crossing his face. He stood up suddenly, causing his chair to fall backwards. Luckily, Remus reached over and caught it before it hit the floor.
“It’s late,” said Sirius shortly, stalking towards the back door. He threw over his shoulder, “I’m going home.”
Remus, partly in an attempt to cover Sirius’s attitude, and partly to give James and Lily some time alone, stood as well, though much more calmly. “It is rather late. Good night,” he said, patting James’s shoulder as he passed. “Come on, Wormtail.”
When everyone had left the small kitchen and James and Lily were quite alone, she turned to him in worry. “Just what is wrong with Sirius?” she demanded, not even wasting a second after the door clicked shut behind Peter.
James frowned, not expecting her concern. “Jealous,” he mused, staring at Sirius’s empty chair as if he were still sitting there.
“That’s silly, I’m not taking you away from him,” objected Lily, seeming to take Sirius’s attitude as a personal insult. She’d always gotten along well with him, after all - she would even venture to say she understood him, the rejections from his family, in a way that nobody else could.
“He thinks a baby will,” said James with a yawn. He caught her staring at him, apparently not understanding. “Oh, come on, Lily,” said James, as if it were obvious. “Padfoot doesn’t have a family. Except for me and my mum, now. And he already knows he has to share me with you. He probably thinks I’ll have no time left for him once we start having babies. And he probably thinks we won’t consider him family anymore once we start making one of our own.”
Lily sighed impatiently. “I’m not going to put aside my dreams of being a mum just because Sirius has some sort of attachment issue,” she told him shortly.
James frowned at her. “I don’t expect you to,” he said, becoming almost defensive himself. “Don’t be mean, Lily. He’ll get over it, just give it a few days. I’m the most important person in his life, after all…”
She grinned at him, quite suddenly amused. “Oh, now you just sound conceited again,” she said.
James smiled as he kissed her. “You already knew that about me… Anyway, it’s hardly my fault I’m so irresistible.”
A ghostly monkey tumbled out of the fireplace in Sirius’s flat. A second one soon followed it.
Sirius, who had been eating lunch with Remus, hardly flinched at the sight. He abandoned his meal of corned beef sandwiches and approached the hearth, getting to his knees in front of the small creatures. “Hallo, Gideon, Fabian,” he greeted the Patronuses.
“It’s nearly time,” said one of the monkeys, not bothering to return the greeting. The other one interrupted it.
“The giants are crossing the English Channel as we speak.”
“Swimming in it?” asked Remus dubiously. He had gotten up as well, and had silently approached to hover behind Sirius.
One of the monkeys nodded. “The Straight of Dover is less than thirty miles wide,” he said in Fabian’s voice. “The giants have strength enough to cross it. Thirty miles isn’t as big to them as it is to us. The main thing is that this confirms what we’ve suspected all along - that they are headed for London.”
Several long moments passed as Sirius considered this. At last, he sighed and asked, “What time will they reach Britain?”
“They’re too busy keeping their heads above water to do any bickering at this point. Though the water slows them down, they’re still large enough to cover great distances in short time. We’re expecting to see them sometime around midnight.”
Sirius glanced at Remus, who didn’t look happy, though he said nothing. He turned back to the Patronuses. “Thanks, we’ll be ready.”
Despite the fact that it was July, it was a cold night. The wind rushed around the unofficial Aurors as they stood spread out in a line along the shore, at least a hundred yards between each of them in an attempt to cover a larger stretch of ground. They waited, staring out across the crashing waves, for any sign of what was coming.
The waves were much choppier than Sirius thought they should have been, though, admittedly, he had never spent a large amount of time around the ocean and had no idea if this was normal. But he was convinced the waves looked fairly large, tiny tsunamis coming from every stroke of the giants’ arms.
He glanced to the left. He could hardly make James out through the fog. Peter was one hundred yards to his right, and looked to be frozen solid, huddling against the wind. Sirius could see nothing on either side beyond James and Peter.
The wind was howling, but in time, Sirius became quite certain that he could hear the moans and grunts of the giants being carried along with it. Perhaps it could have been the sound of nearby trees bowing in the wind, but it sounded mildly animalistic. His heart began to beat faster as he sat and listened to the eerie noise in the dark.
From somewhere, far to the left, something red exploded in the sky. The glow of it caught the corner of Sirius’s eye. It was far, far to the left, far beyond James, even. It was a sign from one of the others. The giants were here.
Without waiting another second, Sirius took off, sprinting through the sand towards the light, towards James, towards everyone else that was in that direction. A glance over his shoulder revealed that Peter had also seen the sign, and was making his way over as well (though he seemed to struggle to run against the wind). Sirius didn’t slow down for anything - he’d already ripped his wand from where he’d been clutching it in his pocket, trying to keep his hands warm.
His heart was threatening to explode from his chest as he struggled through the sand and wind, and all the while he was squinting against breeze to keep an eye on the sea, to make sure there was nothing coming, nothing that had been missed in case the giants had split up.
Ahead of him, the sky was already lit up with spells. He could see them flying towards the giants in all different colours - it looked like a scene right out of a film. For a moment, he had to simply stop to take it in, and he gasped to catch his breath as he watched Dedalus Diggle fling an orange spell whilst trying to keep his top hat on.
Looking out at the water, Sirius could make out the giants. They were larger than he’d been able to imagine. They almost looked like simple rocks jutting out of the water. They were dark, surrounded by the ocean and night, but whenever somebody’s spell went near them, it illuminated their fierce faces, casting shadows that threw their features into horrifying extremes. Sirius gulped to wet his dry throat after all the running, and then lifted his wand arm to join in.
It was chaos; as he surveyed the scene, he tried to keep an eye out for his friends. He had no idea where James had gone, and he hadn’t seen Lily or Remus at all, having been too far from them in the first place to make them out through the fog. Peter was only just catching up, and right beside him was Benjy.
Sirius wasn’t sure why they were casting spells. He could only assume that the giants had taken them by surprise in the dark. That they had been able to get much closer than the Order had anticipated, having the advantage of the night, the waves and the wind covering their approach. People were forgetting the plan, and were simply firing spells like mad in an effort to hold the monsters back.
Something suddenly flew at him from the darkness, making him flinch when he saw the stars suddenly disappear as the object neared him, blocking out everything else - one giant mass, barely noticeable but from the corner of his eye. It was then that Sirius realised why the others were casting spells rather than sticking to the original plan of manipulating the water. He only just managed to yell, “Depulso!” in time as he realised what the object was. The giants were ripping large, barnacle covered rocks from the seabed, and hurling them towards the shore at the Order.
His spell struck the boulder, and with a loud crack, sent it flying back into the ocean. A few of the barnacles chipped off from the force of the impact, and rained down on Sirius. It smelled like salt and seaweed.
He hoped James was all right. It was hard to see the deathly rocks in the dark. He glanced at Peter again, but he didn’t see anything heading for his friend yet. Without wasting another moment, he raised his wand and screamed, “Agua Maledictio!”
Where his wand pointed, the water began to churn madly, as if gathering itself. Indeed, that was precisely what it was doing. A wave began to form, though it remained in place, growing larger and larger as more water swirled towards it.
His face was a terrible sight as he concentrated on what he was doing. This was what they had spent their latest Order meetings on. They had learned all about this spell, what it was, how to cast it and how to control it. It was the opposite of Fiendfyre - it was cursed water, and nothing could stop it. It could be controlled only by its creator. Sirius grit his teeth as he used all his strength to summon the water into his building wave; his hand gripped his vibrating wand so tightly that his knuckles were white, and his hand was sweating so fiercely that he feared the trembling wand might slip right out of it.
When he was certain the wave was large enough, he suddenly flung his wand arm forward, and without delay, the wave tumbled over itself towards the giants, picking up even more water as it went. Exhausted from the effort, Sirius watched it’s progress, until the starlight was suddenly blacked out again.
He glanced up, and knew there was no chance to cast the spell this time. He flung himself to the left, falling to the ground as the boulder crashed into the place where he’d just stood. The impact shook the earth slightly in the immediate radius, and Sirius stared wide eyed as it suddenly broke apart and crumbled.
“Are you all right?” Peter bellowed from twenty feet away. Sirius glanced up to see that Peter had seen the whole thing, his face etched with concern and fear.
Before he could answer, he saw another movement in the darkness, up to the left of Peter. “Wormtail, look out!” he shouted, and Peter turned, flinched away from the dark mass hurtling towards him. But Sirius knew that Peter would never react fast enough. Without another thought, Sirius quickly shot a spell from his wand, and the flying rock disintegrated in the air, leaving pebbles to rain down on Peter. Sharp little shards bounced off his face, leaving small cuts everywhere.
Peter’s complexion paled as he realised what had almost happened to him. For a moment, he simply stared at Sirius in shock, suddenly feeling the sting of the small cuts in the salty breeze. Then he glanced back out at the ocean. “Sirius!” he yelled in alarm, pointing. “Your wave!”
Sirius quickly turned to look at the tidal wave he’d created. It was nearly twenty feet tall now, and as it neared it’s target, things began to take shape within it. What looked like a sea monster slipped forward, leading the wave to the giants. Octopus tentacles took form for seconds at a time before disintegrating into sea spray, only to form again moments later. The wave wiped the giants out as it crashed over them. For a brief second, Sirius felt elation as he saw the giants tumble, disappear beneath the surface.
But the wave continued on, past the giants.
“No,” gasped Sirius, scrambling to his feet. He threw out his wand and yelled, “Finite!” The wave seemed to be too far for his spell to reach it, however, and it continued on, towards the shoreline farther away. Sirius ran his hands over his face as he watched in horror. He couldn’t stop it, his runaway spell. He should have known better, should have waited until the situation with the giants was more under control. Perhaps he shouldn’t have used the spell at all, and let the older, more experienced witches and wizards use it.
It hit him then, quite suddenly, that he was still only a teenager. Perhaps he had become too confident when he and his friends had been able to become Animagi so young. Or the fact that their studies had come so easily back at Hogwarts, to the point of hardly even having to study for tests. They had created marvelous things, the Marauders Map the biggest of them.
But after everything, they were just teenagers. And this time, he'd bitten off more than he could chew.
Dumbledore had warned them all, very seriously, that the spell required a lot of magic and skill to be controlled. Perhaps Sirius had become too confident. If only he hadn’t stopped, become distracted by the boulder about to hit Peter. Maybe he'd have been able to keep his hold on the wave, if he'd just turned his back and let Peter fend for himself for once.
“Oh, no,” he whispered in despair as he watched his wave crash over a small jetty of rocks, and slam against a neat row of cottages. Without another thought about the giants, the battle, Peter or flying boulders or anything else, he turned on the spot and disappeared with a pop.
Instantly, he was at the top of the jetty, looking at what was left of the cottages, at the damage he had done with his out of control spell. The wave seemed to have died now, having climbed out of the water and exploded against the row of cottages. Everything was wet. One house was completely gone, and a couple of others had only a wall or two still standing.
“Help!” screamed a woman desperately. Sirius could barely hear her over the sounds of the battle and the wind and crashing waves. For a moment he turned, looking for the source of the cry, and then he saw her. She was clinging to a rock in the ocean not far out. She had two daughters, around the age of ten and twelve, clutching her and the rock desperately.
Sirius didn’t think twice. He jumped into the icy water and began to make his way towards them. He hadn’t been anticipating the powerful waves emanating from the battle, however. The straight was practically alive. It pulled him under, pushed him around. His wand slipped from his grip, and though he made a grab for it, it was dragged even further away, out of reach.
In that moment, he had to make a decision: save his wand, or save the family.
Sirius angrily let out a loud curse and turned towards the three wet victims tiredly hanging onto the rock.
Peter’s eyes were wide open. He was frozen in shock, unsure of what to do. Sirius was suddenly gone, and Peter felt terribly insufficient, standing all by himself. It wasn’t he, after all, who had blasted apart the boulder hurling towards his face - Sirius had done that. And now that Sirius was gone, Peter felt vulnerable.
He warily glanced at the sky, though he saw nothing heading towards him in that moment. The giants had been knocked down by the force of Sirius’s wave. Probably why, he mused, they weren’t currently throwing any more rocks. He squinted out to the sea as he began to trudge quickly through the sand; the giants were getting up again, soaked and angry.
They seemed to blame each other for what had happened. One giant hauled off and walloped another upside his head. Peter sighed and looked through the darkness at the other Order members.
“James?” he yelled, not wanting to be alone anymore. He hoped none of the giants would target him, because he wasn’t paying much attention to things possibly flying through the sky.
Alice Longbottom turned when she heard his shout. She did a double take when she saw the small streams of blood criss-crossing his face. “James is over there, Pettigrew, with Lily.”
Peter stared at her and then scowled. Since when had she called him ‘Pettigrew,’ anyway? He had always been just ‘Peter’ to her. He began to trudge on when she suddenly interrupted him.
“Was it you who made that wave?” she demanded with her hands on her hips. Beyond her, her perfect husband Frank was firing spells at the massive creatures looming in the water, rising again. “Took out an entire row of houses!”
“No,” said Peter, affronted. “It wasn’t me!”
(Of course, the instant a spell went wrong, became a failure, people assumed it came from Peter Pettigrew. He knew that he wasn't as skilled as his friends, and certainly not as skilled as the trained Aurors in their group, but that didn't mean they had to make assumptions.
He gave a huff of annoyance, and felt mildly embarrassed.)
“Oh,” was all she said. Peter thought about telling her it had been Sirius, but then thought better of it. He had to refrain from sticking his tongue out at her as she turned her back to him and began to cast spells of her own beside Frank.
As Peter passed, Frank made a single glance back at Peter. The look in his eyes was wary, as if he figured Peter was lying about the wave. His expression was accusatory, as he watched Peter wandering around looking for his friends rather than fighting the battle like the rest of the Order.
Ignoring him, Peter turned away and continued his search for James and Lily. When he finally spotted them, he hurried forward. By now, the giants were bellowing loudly and hardly even paying attention to the wizards on the coast anymore. They were having an all out brawl in the water, still angry and blaming each other for the massive wave that had knocked them underwater.
“Wormtail,” said James breathlessly, sending another large wave towards the giants, although his was only just a normal wave, even if a bit large, and not the cursed version that Sirius had created. A grin cracked his face as his creation smacked into a large female with her fist raised, sending her sprawling beneath the surface with a splash.
James did not bother to look his way. James didn't notice the bloodied mess that Peter's face was, and this, perhaps, bothered Peter more than anything Alice had implied. James always looked at Sirius, after all. And here he stood, bloody and trying to speak to his friend, who hardly acknowledged him.
“Padfoot is gone,” Peter said sullenly, looking away from James.
The smile instantly slipped from James’s face as he lowered his wand and turned to Peter for the first time. “What?”
Peter swallowed and pointed to the row of ruined houses sticking out on the jetty. The waves still crashed against the rocks fiercely. “He created that wave,” said Peter, looking around and hoping that nobody else was listening.
James frowned as he glanced towards the damage. Peter quickly recounted the story. Sirius had saved him, after all. He didn't want people to think that Sirius had purposely done it, or that he hadn't been paying attention, or wasn't skilled enough.
“He didn’t mean to! He cast it, and he had it under control, but he had to stop. A boulder was coming at me, and I didn’t see it, but Padfoot did! He saved me, but it broke his concentration, and the wave got away from him.”
James pursed his lips, and then demanded, “Where’d he go?”
“I… I don’t know. He Disapparated when he saw what happened.”
Lily, who had been listening, stepped closer. “He wouldn’t have run from what he’d done, would he?” she said worriedly.
James’s face hardened and he bit his lip. “He’s run from things before,” he admitted regretfully. “We all know that.”
“But this wasn’t his fault,” said Lily urgently.
“Well, it wasn’t mine!” snipped Peter irritably, when both James and Lily glanced at him and looked furtively away again.
Lily blushed. “It was an accident,” she said for his benefit, to reassure him that she wasn’t blaming him.
(James sighed, and he didn’t say what he was thinking, which was that perhaps Peter should have been paying more attention to his surroundings, instead of needing somebody else to look out for him. Instead he simply ran his hand through his hair, which was wet with saltwater.)
“Peter, go find Remus,” said James. “I haven’t seen him in a while - make sure he’s all right. With the full moon being so near...”
Peter frowned. “What are you going to do?” he interrupted, wiping at his face with his arm. It left a smear of blood on his sleeve.
“I’m going to find Pads,” said James simply. He pulled a small mirror out of his pocket. Peter sighed and trudged off into the darkness once more.
But James soon found that there was no answer from Sirius’s mirror. He sighed and glanced at the scene around him. Things seemed to have calmed down now; there were no more flying rocks from the giants, and even the Order wasn’t casting nearly as many spells. Out in the water, the giants were practically pummelling each other to death, the humans on the coast forgotten. One particularly large giant shoved the head of another under the water and held it there for quite some time.
“Potter,” said Fabian, suddenly hurrying up to him. “Moody says the Aurors are on their way. Dumbledore wants everyone to get back to headquarters before they get here.”
“But-” objected James, motioning out to the fighting giants. Fabian glanced out at them as well before turning back to James with a confident smirk.
“I don’t think they’re going to cause any more trouble, James,” he said simply. “I’d say they’re pretty distracted.”
James sighed and ran his hand through his hair once more. “All right,” he said. “We’ll be there.”
Fabian clapped him on the shoulder, all but ignoring Lily, and hurried off to tell somebody else of Dumbledore’s wishes. James waited a moment for him to go, and then grabbed Lily’s hand and Disapparated on the spot.
Lily, who hadn’t been prepared for the side-along Apparition, appeared at his side gasping for breath and with watery eyes.
“Sorry,” said James quickly, glancing around at the ruined cottages on the jetty. He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted Sirius’s name, but there was no response.
“Maybe he went back to his flat,” said Lily timidly, for she didn’t want to imply that Sirius had, in fact, run from his mistake.
“Maybe,” grumbled James. “I thought he might have come to try and fix it.” He glanced back at the cottages, the broken windows and wooden frames barely hanging on in the wind. They were covered by mud and seaweed, and a dining room table was broken and hanging out over the collapsed wall of one house. “I suppose not, then,” he sighed, scratching his head.
“Maybe he already went to the Order headquarters,” Lily suggested then, more confidently when James didn’t become irritated with her.
“I doubt that,” said James. “Or he’d have answered to my mirror.” He sighed once more. “All right, then. Let’s go check his flat.”
This time, Lily was ready for the Disapparition as James gripped her hand.
When James and Lily walked into the basement of the Hog’s Head Inn, all eyes were on them warily. Remus and Peter looked suddenly relieved, as if they’d been worried that their friends were in danger.
“Where have you lot been?” demanded Dorcas. “When we realised you were gone, we walked the beach yelling your names…”
“And that didn’t go over so well with the Ministry,” said Frank irritably. “Wanted to know what we were doing there.”
“I don’t think they believed our story that we were vacationing…” said Alice worriedly.
James rubbed his forehead tiredly, too worried to laugh at their pitiful excuse given to the Ministry. “We’ve been looking for Sirius,” he admitted.
“Where’s he?” said Benjy, looking around James.
“I don’t know,” James finally admitted quietly.
“No,” groaned Gideon. “First Caradoc, and now Sirius. Missing, vanished without a trace… God damn it.”
James stared at the old floorboards, so worn down that they were grey. Lily squeezed his hand reassuringly. She was certain Sirius wasn’t quite as missing as Caradoc was. Peter had seen him Disapparate. Wherever he was, he had likely gone there of his own choosing, and not because he was in any sort of danger. Still, in such times, it was difficult to keep hope in mind. Sirius was missing, and that was the bottom line. She didn’t know the facts - why he’d gone, or if he’d possibly run into trouble somewhere. There was always the chance that something wasn’t right.
“We need to look for him,” said James through gritted teeth, when he became aware of everyone watching him, everyone sitting still and not moving and not bothering to do anything. “We’ve been searching for Caradoc for weeks. We’ve put up notices in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and we’ve done raids on suspicious people’s homes. Sirius deserves the same.”
Dumbledore quickly spoke to calm the situation. “James is right,” he said. “We have no time to lose. James, Lily, you have already been looking? Where have you searched, so that we won’t waste time by going there again?”
James sighed. Lily spoke for him. “We searched the beach where he disappeared, we searched his flat and neighbourhood in London, and we searched the shops here in Hogsmeade,” she added, with a meaningful glance at Remus. The Shrieking Shack was what she’d meant, Remus knew.
Dumbledore immediately began to give Orders. “Frank, Alice, Alastor - please visit the Black family home and do a thorough search. James, perhaps you should visit your mother’s-”
But he was cut off when Sirius suddenly walked into the room. The rest of the Order gave a collective small gasp. James and Lily, who still stood just inside of the room, having not yet taken their seats, turned to see what everyone was reacting to.
When James met Sirius’s eyes, he sagged in relief.
Immediately, he dragged Sirius into an embrace, right in front of everyone. Sirius’s clothing was soaked, but that didn’t matter, for, though he didn’t want to admit it to Lily or to anyone else, he’d thought his friend was lying dead somewhere. After all, it wasn’t like Sirius to not answer his calls.
“Where have you been,” demanded James quietly in his ear.
Sirius sighed as James’s arms wrapped around him, pressing his cold, wet, clothing to his skin. “I knocked down a row of houses,” he admitted. “There was a family in one of them. They were being washed out to sea. I jumped in to save them,” he said. “The water ripped my wand out of my hand. I lost it. I tried to find it again, but it was too late.”
James finally let go of him. “You worried us sick,” he growled. “I thought you were dead.”
“I’m sorry,” said Sirius, looking away.
“Well?” demanded Benjy from where he sat with the rest of the Order.
Sirius blushed and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I lost my wand. I looked for it, but I couldn’t find it. And eventually I started making my way here, but I had to walk to town, and then take the Knight Bus… I couldn't Apparate without my wand...”
He’d deliberately left out the part about where he’d taken down the cottages by mistake, and how he’d had to rescue the family. James frowned but said nothing.
“First thing tomorrow, Sirius, you will need to visit Ollivander for a new wand,” Dumbledore instructed him.
Sirius gave a single nod. “Yes, sir,” he muttered. He had already planned that, after all. He was rather disappointed not to have found his original wand. It was the wand that had gotten him through school, after all. It had returned to Grimmauld Place with him each summer. It never left his side, even when he wasn’t allowed to use it. It had chosen him, even before James had. It was as if he had lost a part of himself. He knew people lost their wands, or broke them, or had them taken in duels, all the time. But he never really thought about how lost it made one feel.
Dumbledore turned to the rest of the Order. “Everyone is now accounted for, and is alive and well,” he announced happily. “It is almost three o’clock in the morning. The giants have been defeated, though mostly by their own hands. I would say that you could all go back to your homes and rest.”
Gideon and Fabian, especially, looked pleased. They, after all, had been tracking these giants for over a year now.
As everyone began to stand up and make their way towards the door, past Sirius and James and Lily, Sirius began to turn for the door as well. He couldn’t wait to get back to his flat, to take a shower and rinse away the feeling of sea salt and the smell of brine and seaweed. Mostly, he couldn’t wait to be out of his wet, cold clothing.
James grabbed his shoulder and stopped him. “Come home with us,” he said. “You can have a shower at our place. In the morning, we can all go to Diagon Alley together.”
Lily smiled at Sirius. “It would be nice to get out of the house and simply go shopping, for once.”
Sirius shrugged at them. “All right,” he said. He didn’t care where he went, so long as it was out of his wet clothes.
First off, I'm sorry for the condition of this chapter. It didn't turn out quite the way I had first imagined it to. For example, I wanted more focus on the battle and less on Sirius. But this is how it came out when I was writing it, and I don't want to waste more time trying to change it since it's already been more than 2 months since I updated. Having said that, I'll likely be back to do some major editing and changes to this chapter in the next week, though the general idea will still be the same. It's a pants chapter, but possibly not as bad as it could be considering how much I was dreading writing it.
Second, PLEASE point out any mistakes or horribleness you might have noticed while reading. I quite literally just finished writing it, and now I'm putting it up. That's right - I haven't even reread it or looked for typos, aside from those squiggly red lines that Word points out when I screw up.
Third, I'm really sorry it took me so long. I started out avoiding it, fearful of writing it. I've been talking about these giants since the Marauders joined the Order, after all, and now here they are. It was supposed to be a bigger deal than what I made it look like, which is why I'll be going back to edit. Anyway, I started out avoiding it and I ended up being unable to even think about it due to the death of a friend's father. He died tragically and in a disturbing manner, and he died before he was supposed to. This chapter should have been up weeks ago, but when he died, I really, seriously, couldn't think about this story at all. All I could think about was him. So thanks for understanding and not abandoning this story. Hopefully the next chapters won't be nearly as long for updating, seeing as how they aren't battle scenes, and also seeing as I'm obviously tuning into this story again.
And fourth, I would probably still be stuck and floundering if it wasn't for pennyardelle and her wonderful ideas. She totally saved me AND this chapter, so seriously, thank you SO much, penny. I know I haven't done it justice, but I really do intend to fix it up soon. I just can't hold the chapter another day when it's taken me so long!!!!
P.S. I'm sorry for Gideon's blasphemy near the end, there. I hope that didn't offend anyone.
Other Similar Stories
Darkness of ...
by Lexi Black