понедельник, 8 октября 2007 г.

ixaquasa: Time and time again

Fanfiction.

Meh. Meh. And meh.

Summary: Someone is running. Hiding. From the Death Eaters. Non-canon.

Warning: DH spoilers! And non-canon character. But no Mary Sues, don't worry. And, erm, a Discworld character too. Crossover, heh.

Length: Length? What length?

The Night Before Chistmas

He had been running for three days now.

He'd lost them just as he escaped through a crowded shopping mall.

Now he didn't know where they were, or what they were doing.

There had been no news of his friends either.

If anything, things were just beginning to get worse.

***

He knew that things would never be the same again, not with Dumbledore dead, and Snape installed as Headmaster of Hogwarts. Then had come the Carrows. The other students had kept up hope though, especially the resuscitated group who called themselves "Dumbledore's Army". He had signed up to become a member days after word got round that the Weasley girl was leading a silent  rebellion, together with the Longbottom boy and Loony Lovegood.

The meetings had been fun at first, with the members learning new defensive spells and plotting their little rebellions.

It hadn't been so easy towards the end though. Some left the DA after they were threatened by the Carrows; some were forced to leave when they got wind that their families were being threatened. Others had quietly left the group when they gave up hope.

He hadn't given up, not till the end. Weasley and Longbottom were the only ones who were still planning and fighting by then; the other members seemed to have disappeared or mysteriously taken home by their parents overnight.

And then the Carrows had called him up for the interview with the Muggle-born Registration Commission.

Ginny Weasley had sent a coded message that night, telling him to join the rest of the DA in the Room of Requirement, where they always had their meetings. He'd sneaked in, but decided not to stay.

He had to return home, after all. His Auntie Maud was in danger.

***

It had been raining for two nights in a row, and it was misery to have to spend the nights alone in the tent. The sleeping bag was damp and cold by now, despite his attempts to cast a permanent Heating Charm on the flimsy material.

He knew he'd be safe here, in the woods miles from any village or human dwelling. The dome of protective charms should last through the night; he had kept himself out of sight for weeks now, and that was pretty good, wasn't it?

Tonight was misery worse than other nights, because he'd run out of food, and the portable radio he had brought with him had died. There didn't seem to be much prospect of him finding food out here in the dark and rain, and the radio ran on batteries, not magic. Plus, he was miles from where he had intended to go. He might have reached Scotland by now for all he knew. Maybe he was even close to Hogwarts.

Auntie Maud had sent a letter through the Muggle post the other day, after he had Apparated home late one night to visit her. She had advised him to go incognito among Muggles and not to return home again till the trouble was all over. He hadn't wanted to listen to her, but after she told him what Mr. Pronto had said to her, he had made a quick run for it.

Blue fire trickled sadly from the tip of his wand into a grimy jam jar. He sighed, tucked the wand into his jeans and began reading the letter for the fifteenth time by the insufficient, flickering blue night.

My dearest Bobby,

Hope you're well. Can't say much, because I've been so busy trying to deal with my quick-growing gooseberry bushes here. They seem to be everywhere, even in places they shouldn't! I've asked for help from dear Mrs. Lula over the next hill, and she promised to look out for a remedy for me.

The weather here has been pretty good, with sunny days and clear nights. I hope you have fun playing in the tent I gave you for your birthday. If there's any rip or tear, I would suggest a basic Repairing Charm - does the trick every time.

Send my love to your mother. I hope she is doing well.

Auntie Maud

P.S - I'm afraid I won't be replying your letters for some time - my owl seems to have injured his wing the other day.


The letter was coded to prevent Mr. Pronto from finding out more than he should. Death Eaters were swarming round the village, and harassing Muggles and wizards alike. Mrs. Lula was really Mrs. Weasley, who did live over the hill - and so did many other wizarding families. So Mrs. Weasley had promised Auntie Maud that she would contact the Order, and possibly get them to track him and bring him to a safe place...

"Weather" had been the code word for the situation there, and there hadn't been any murders so far. The advice from Auntie Maud about the tent had come in time too. She had also asked him to "send his love to his mother"...which meant that he had to keep tuning in to Potterwatch and send any information to them if he could. She was worried about him, he knew, and this had kept up his hopes for the past month since he got the letter.

But she had asked him not to send any letters to her...

He took out his wand and tapped the bottom of the page. There had been a hidden message there a few days earlier from Auntie Maud. He could only read it by using the specific charm to break the Locking Charm. It was pretty ingenious, but then again, it was Auntie Maud.

'Expecto  Patronum.'

The message came into view, shining in the soft light as though it had just been written with wet ink. It was still the same: Stay where you are, Lucas. I'm going to the Ministry tomorrow, pronto.

There had not been any news of her on Potterwatch, and now the radio was dead.

***

He had been hiding out in the Muggle office for a week now, posing as a clerk. It was a good thing that he knew how to handle a computer, unlike his magical peers. Living in a village full of Muggles - and being Muggleborn himself - had its advantages now. He had to thank his Muggle friends for teaching him how to shoot ugly green aliens on a computer screen.

'Hey Charlie,' one man called from across the room, 'can you send the letter over to me?'

He nodded and sent the letter. Click. There. The wonders of Muggle technology and the Internet.

'Hey Charlie,' a lady called from behind him, 'someone's come to see you.'

He stood up slowly, his heart beating fit to burst. So this was it. The Death Eaters had tracked him. He had to get out, before the other Muggles got in the way  -

'Wotcher, Charlie,' a young lady said, stepping in front of him.

He blinked. The young lady had green and pink striped hair.

'Can we have a talk? Outside?' She turned and headed out of the office before he could answer.

She led him into a broom cupboard, locked the door, and then cast protective charms on all the walls. He stared at her bemusedly, wondering where he had seen her before. He had seen her before, positive, and Auntie Maud had liked her.

'Okay.' The young lady smiled at him. 'I'm Tonks.'

He shook her hand. 'Er.'

'I'm from the Order,' she said. He held up a hand, and brought his wand to point at her face.

'How do I know that I can trust you?' he asked hoarsely.

'I haven't killed you yet.' She shrugged. 'We're alone in a broom cupboard. I could have led you to my mates if I had wanted to kill you.'

'Prove it.'

Tonks took out a gold coin and held it up to the single bulb in the cramped space. He grabbed it and checked it for charms. Nothing. It was a coin from the DA.

'I got it from one of the Weasley twins,' she whispered. 'I would appreciate it if you could return it, because George would brain me if I lost it.' He handed it back to her silently.

'Why are you here?' he said. 'It's dangerous - '

'Your Aunt Maud sent me,' she cut in. 'She's asked me to pass on a warning to you - Don't go back home. Don't even attempt to go back in that direction, not until all the trouble has blown over.'

'Anything else?'

'Yes. The Order has finally managed to keep track of you, especially since you've been here for a week. You're pretty smart...though I should warn you, the Death Eaters have spies everywhere.'

'I know. I keep a Sneakoscope with me.'

Tonks grinned, her fantastic hair changing to sky-blue. 'Good work. Now keep on...keeping low, my boy. You've done a very good job hiding yourself. We'll get back to you if things get bad.'

'I...oh, okay. Thanks.'

'We'll be sending your situation to Potterwatch tonight, if you don't mind.'

'Yeah. Thanks. And - Tonks?'

'Yeah?'

'How are...Potter and his friends doing? Are they - are they still alive?'

Tonks grabbed his shoulders, laughing as she did so. 'Yes. YES! They're alive and out there, somewhere, hiding themselves as well as you. We haven't been able to trace them at all, and that's a very, very good thing.'

He sagged slightly. 'Thank the gods.'

'Yes.' Tonks patted his arm reassuringly. 'You've done well. Keep up the work. We'll be contacting you.'

And with a loud pop, she was gone.

***

It was nearing Christmas. He passed by villages and towns daily now, and everywhere there were Christmas decorations and trees. He had been tempted - more than once - to drop by some places, particularly those which look like his own. He had resisted it every time, remembering Tonks' and Auntie Maud's words. This wasn't a time to slack and get himself caught because of his carelessness.

Death Eater activity was getting more obvious and brazen; Muggles were beginning to notice. He caught conversations and worried whispers whenever he stopped by supermarkets to stock up on food and other essentials. Money was running low, but with the countryside covered in snow and ice, it was difficult finding food and shelter out there. Even the money he had earned during his brief stint as a typing clerk was nearly all gone.

'Happy Christmas Eve, hey,' he said forlornly to himself that night in his tent. It was a Muggle tent, and didn't have the usual perks and conveniences that came with magical ones. Auntie Maud had been lucky to find one the night he Apparated home. Speaking of Auntie Maud, there had been no news of her...

'Isn't this nice,' he grumbled as he stuck a single candle on his cupcake. 'Christmas Eve and birthday on my own. Incendio.' The flame flared weakly. 'Okay, make a wish, Lucas. Make a wish.' He shut his eyes. 'I wish...that I can go back to Hogwarts, and take those bloody NEWTs. And go back home to live with Auntie Maud again. And I wish - I WISH - that this whole mess would be over. I wish...that Potter would defeat He Who Must Not Be Named.'

Strange. There was something cold and wet on his face. Water. He wiped it away before blowing out the candle.

There was more water on his face now. He opened his eyes slowly. Everything looked blurry and jagged. He was crying.

'Sod it,' he muttered, pulling the candle out of the cupcake. 'Stop crying, Lucas. You've gone this far, haven't you?'

Potterwatch was still playing when he slid into his sleeping bag, shivering in the cruel cold. He was just drifting off when he heard...

...something.

'There has been a death this evening.'

Lucas sat up at once, his hands and feet frozen and stiff. Lee Jordan sounded somber this evening.

'Maud Thistletop of Ottery St. Catchpole was found in her house this evening at 5 p.m., but there were no signs of a break-in or struggle. There was also no Dark Mark over the place, leading speculations that the murder had not been committed by the Death Eaters themselves but by an Imperiused member. There have been eye witnesses of a man named Mr. Pronto visiting the place regularly this week.'

Lucas crawled to the radio, his breath stuck in his throat.

'Bobby Lucas,' Lee Jordan was saying now, as though from far away, so far away, 'we wish you all the best. We are still watching you. Keep up the good work.'

He couldn't hear any more. He heard the radio smash and saw the blood on his hands, but he didn't feel the pain.

Auntie Maud was dead.

That was the only family he had left. His parents were Muggleborns, both killed during You-Know-Who's first uprising. He'd been left an orphan - he hadn't mind...much...exactly, because Auntie Maud had been so good. But now she was - she was -

He broke out of the tent, fighting back tears and dry sobs. He couldn't care less about himself now; it was all over; the only thing that had really kept him going was the return home -

The river was partially frozen when he waded noisily into the icy water. And then he was on his knees, vomiting painfully in the dark. The water came up to his chest, but he didn't feel the cold.

'You bastard,' he said to no one. Fists pounded the water, the ice, and blood dripped into the river. 'Kill me then, Voldemort. Kill me.'

He heard the sounds of Apparition, and then the noise of people hurrying down the slope to the river. He heard the splash behind him. The tip of a wand nudged his neck.

'Lucas Thistletop eh?' someone said softly. 'We've been looking for you for months. Where've you been, boy?'

'He's Maud Thistletop's nephew right?' someone else said from behind. 'That woman what the Pronto guy killed today?'

'Yes.' The first voice came closer to his ear. 'She was passing on valuable information to the Order, you see. She wasn't even a member. Foolish woman. Do you want to know how she went?'

Lucas didn't reply. He was past caring.

'Answer me.'

There was a short sharp burst of pain on his cheek, and warm blood began dripping onto his neck. The man pressed his wand into his neck, intending to make the boy scream and plead for mercy. There was no answer.

'Would you like to be bound, perhaps?'

'Hold it,' said a new voice, now coming down the slope. 'I'll take over.'

The first man hissed, but stepped back from the boy.

'Well Lucas,' Mr. Pronto said as he placed a heavy hand on his shoulder, 'looks like we've found you. If your aunt had only listened to me, she would have made a good Death Eater. She was pretty good, you know.' A hand closed around the back of his neck tightly. Lucas felt the fingers squeezing harder and bit back a retort.

'And now,' Mr. Pronto continued, calmly pointing his wand at the boy's temple, 'you die. Avada Kedavra.'

***

NEED ANY HELP?

'Sorry?'

He appeared to be on his back in a frozen field, white with moonlight. There was someone standing at his feet, a tall someone in a hooded black cloak and what looked to be a farming tool.

DO YOU NEED ANY HELP?

'Yeah, thanks.' He took the proffered hand and got up unsteadily. He felt light. The pain at hearing Auntie Maud's death was still there, but less acute.

IT IS A CLEAR NIGHT.

'Yep.'

I BELIEVE THAT IT IS ALREADY CHRISTMAS.

'Not that it makes any difference to me.' He sighed. 'Here, who are you?'

The hood turned, and the face under it looked at him. He caught two sparks of blue before the stranger looked away.

I AM...THE EXPECTED ONE.

'Eh?'

And then he looked down. He was still lying on the ground. But he had already stood up.

'I'm dead, am I?'

THERE IS NO ONE WHO CAN SURVIVE THE KILLING CURSE.

'Except Harry Potter.'

HE SURVIVED BECAUSE HIS MOTHER USED HER LIFE AS A SHIELD. ELEMENTARY REALLY, BUT PEOPLE DON'T USUALLY GIVE UP THEIR LIVES FOR SOMEONE ELSE. The stranger paused. EXCEPT MOTHERS AND FATHERS, PERHAPS.

'And my Auntie Maud. Did she - did she...die peacefully?'

I WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU DO NOT ASK MORE. The stranger's tone was kind. SOMETIMES IT IS BETTER IF YOU DID NOT KNOW SOME THINGS.

'Yeah. Still...it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair.'

YOU HUMANS TALK ABOUT JUSTICE AND MERCY AS THOUGH THEY EXIST.

'But they should! Shouldn't they?'

BELIEVING THAT SOMETHING SHOULD EXIST DOES NOT MAKE IT CERTAIN THAT IT DOES AND WOULD.

'But that would mean that we're believing in lies all this time,' he said miserably.

BUT YOU BELIEVE IN HOPE, DO YOU NOT?

'Yeah.'

THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH.

'So do you think that Potter would win then?'

YES.

'I thought you just said that justice and mercy don't exist because we think they should.'

HE WILL WIN.

'Can you see into the future?'

I DO NOT NEED TO. THERE IS NO FUTURE BUT ME.

'Ah.'

BUT HARRY POTTER WILL WIN.

'How can you be sure of that then? Come on, tell me!'

I WILL MAKE IT SO.

'You can interfere - ?'

NO. I CANNOT AND WILL NOT INTERFERE IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN. BUT I WILL BE THERE AT THE END, WHEN GOOD TRIUMPHS OVER EVIL.

'I see. Yeah, you would.'

DO YOU WANT TO MOVE ON, OR REMAIN AS YOU ARE?

'Move on, I guess.'

THEN GO ALONG THEN. YOU ARE A PARTICULARLY INQUISITIVE WIZARD, NO OFFENSE MEANT.

'None taken. But how do I...er..."move on"?'

CAN YOU FEEL YOURSELF BEING PULLED AND PUSHED IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS?

'Yeah...now that you mention it...yeah.'

WELL THEN. RELAX. GIVE IN TO THESE FORCES. IT IS AS SIMPLE AS THAT.

'Yeah...'

And in a few minutes, there was nothing more.

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