celestine_fics: The four Hogwarts founders in Potter Puffs style (Books - Harry Potter - House Unity)
celestine_fics ([personal profile] celestine_fics) wrote2011-12-24 06:58 pm

Harry Potter Fic: These Walls Stand Silent 4/4 (NC-17)

Find the first part here.



These Walls Stand Silent
Part the Fourth: The Silence of the Heart



I. Moon

The moon, the moon, it shines down on him and does not change him on the outside, but he can feel the push and pull of the tides of his blood, calling him to run and bay and growl and hunt. But he is bipedal, not a quadraped, and he does not have fangs, and to go hunting in this body would be a massive breach of protocol. Not to mention all the rules of polite society.

Oh but he wants to, he wants to so badly, and the moon isn't even truly full anymore.

Ah well, he'll have to settle for being Dark Lord to the confused, milling children running about the grounds. He can see them, or the one team unlucky enough to be relegated outside, wandering about. He frowns at them, because this is the team to represent the Order, they are supposed to work together, but they look as though they haven't talked at all about what to do with their predicament. They should be talking, planning, finding a good place and conjuring materials for tents. Not to mention food from the kitchen, which the house elves lovingly created for exactly that purpose.

Instead, Kate Goyle faces away from her team, arms crossed and scowling. Sebastien and Scorpius are huddled together talking, but they aren't paying attention to the rest of the team. Celestia, "Little Celie," as he's heard, is dancing as though there isn't a camp to make. Martin sits on the ground a little away from the others, watching Celestia, looking lost. Theodora, unwilling to join Celestia in her dancing, but looking on the huddled boys with just as much contempt, and then Payton, standing just a little away from Theodora, peering at the Tower as though contemplating what it would take to wrest it away from their enemies. Idiots.

Teddy breathes in deep, pushes away the wolf as best he can, and turns away from the window, from the kids, from the pull of the rising moon. They're only children, and this is just the moon. If he can get through it, everything will be fine.

Besides, it's time for him to go announce the next mission.



II. Prisoners

Forgive me for interrupting the narrative, but perhaps I should explain how these children came to their second day.

It's simple, really. Later, Longbottom will be certain it was his fault. Perhaps there is blame to be laid at his feet, but no more than at those of Potter, or Lupin, and the majority of their crimes are rooted in naivete. There was no malice here. As I said, I have seen inside the minds of all the players involved, and I know where the real blame may be placed. Not that it makes any difference now.

The first day, then, after the Astronomy Tower fell under the control of our pseudo-Death Eaters:

"Hah, we're going to win!"

Rose gives her cousin a roll of her eyes. "The point isn't to win, James. The point is to learn something."

James, in return, offers her a scowl. "The point is always to win. That's what the war was about, right? Winning. Winning because if you didn't win, losing would be worse than death."

The others look at him, not bothering to hide their shock that he actually managed to express such a concept. Rose opens her mouth, ready to say something along those lines—and assure him that it isn't that she thought him stupid, merely a bit dense—but the door opens and in swoops Teddy Lupin in long black robes that Harry and his contemporaries would find all too familiar.

"Well done, my Death Eaters, but the day is not over yet!"

Groans all around. The children are tired from their little battle, and had thought to fortify their base, or at least begin the process. Lupin only grins at them.

"Don't groan at me, if I were really the Dark Lord, I'd have to hex the lot of you."

"I don't think Lord Voldemort settled for petty hexes," says Rose, and she manages to say the name without stuttering, having benefitted from a childhood in a home where names were not given the power of fear over her or her family. "I think he would probably have used the Cruciatus."

"Don't give him ideas," Audra mutters, frowning at a scrape she suffered to her knee, so she misses the rolled eyes thrown her way by Caleb. She is the only Slytherin on this team, here by the grace of her mother being a member of Dumbledore's Army, no matter how briefly.

"Like he'd really do that."

"Couldn't even if I wanted to." Lupin throws his arms out, black cloth billowing around them. "Nifty little barrier, isn't it? Professor Longbottom and I did it ourselves. No Unforgiveables allowed, or any of the banned spells. Anyone who tries them gets an unpleasant little shock as punishment for attempting to break the rules." A raised eyebrow and pointed look for each of them. "Not, of course, that any of you fine students would stoop so low."

James smiles, all innocence and enthusiasm. "'Course not."

"Good." Lupin claps his hands together. "Because your next mission relies on all of you respecting the rules, being crafty and quick."

"Stop being a berk, O Dark Lord." James leans on a wall and gives Lupin an annoyed glance, which is returned in kind. They have grown up together, and Lupin is practically James' brother. But it's obvious that right now Lupin feels as though James shouldn't be thinking of him that way.

"Fine. There's a new mission, and it involves getting to a certain object before the other team does, taking it, and keeping it." He grins then, a big expression, wolfish. "The best part is that as of this point onward, you're allowed to claim prisoners from the members of the other team you hit with spells. Once you have your prisoners, then you'll not only have to keep the object safe, but make sure your prisoners don't escape, or aren't rescued."

There's silence for a moment, all of them watching Lupin with his predatory grin, some of them simply shocked, others unsure of him, and at least one silent with planning. Finally, it's Rose that speaks, "Prisoners?"

"Prisoners."

James again, grinning. "What's the matter, cousin? Feeling squeemish?"

She wants to say no.



III. The Third Day

"He's burning up."

Rose pulls her hand away from Sebastien's forehead. Whatever else that spell did to him, it's manifested a strong fever. Looking up, she sees Scorpius frowning, concern in every line of his body, even though his arms are crossed, closed. Sitting beside him, knees up to her chest, arms wrapped around them Kate Goyle glares at and her and makes no attempt to hide her lack of trust. Rose doesn't blame her. This isn't the way things were supposed to happen.

Worse, Assistant Professor Lupin came in earlier and pronounced the whole thing in line with the purpose of the exercise. Rose's stomach has been in knots ever since, because it's not true, it's not, and Lupin… Teddy… she doesn't know why he's ignoring that. He's supposed to make sure things like this don't happen.

It has to stop, but she feels as though the ground beneath her feet shifts and slides, and she isn't entirely certain at the moment how it started. She's unaccustomed to this. School is easy, the spells come to her as swiftly as she can think the words, always have, and relationships have always been the same. Rose has always been sure of her footing, until now. James has changed all of that in three short days. She thought she knew him, and thought the James she knew was arrogant, intolerant, but would never have guessed this.

"He'll die if someone doesn't tend to him soon." Scorpius watches her, grey eyes distant and slightly cold. He looks more like his father this way, the man she's only seen from a distance. He looks nothing like the passionately intelligent young man Albus praises.

"I know. I'll stop this. I promise."

Rose stands and moves to leave, before she has to reveal the doubt in her eyes. She hopes she hasn't made a promise she can't keep.

Outside, Franklin waits, hands in his pockets, a glance flicked over her shoulder to see what lies beyond. There's a frown on his face that only furrows deeper when he sees Sebastien, and hears the unconscious boy moan. "This is bad."

Rose nods, crossing her arms because there's nothing else to do with them. "Very bad."

"What do we do?"

Franklin never speaks much. She likes that about him. He's thoughtful, and when he speaks, it's to the heart of the matter without wasting words. "We stop it," she told him, trying to emulate his outward calm. "We talk to James."

A hesitation as Franklin steps from one foot to the other, still frowning, eyes unfocused. Rose waits, because sometimes that's what one has to do with Franklin. It's always worth it, though.

"Tomorrow. When Professor Lupin comes. We'll talk to them both." His eyes lift then, briefly, to meet hers. "If Seb will make it."

It's Rose's turn to hesitate, to think of Sebastien's current state, the heat of his forehead, the way he spends most of his time unconscious or delirious. She isn't a Healer. She really just doesn't know. They should have Madame Pomfrey in here, but James has forbidden anyone to send up a flare for help. "He'll have to, I guess. But… I think… he won't make it past tomorrow. It has to be tomorrow."

Franklin nods. "Both of us."

"Both of us. They'll have to listen."

They'll have to listen. She tells herself that again, internally, because she hates that she isn't sure about two people she should know.



IV. Spells

Written in a notebook left in the Gryffindor common room:

Torqueointussempra.

A spell to twist the insides and make them near impossible to untwist.

Inffindointus.

A spell to cut the inside without cutting the outside.

Faciesdetrunco.

A spell to mutilate the face.

Contrunco.

A spell to cut the target into many pieces.

Absumo.

A spell to cause the environment (walls, floor, furniture, etc.) to absorb the target.

And many, many pages of additional spells. Well after midnight, enough to say it is closer to dawn, the boy comes down the stairs, flushed with the sudden realization that his notebook, that notebook, was left downstairs. Idiot, he calls himself, because that notebook, well, he's just lucky it's still here and hasn't been discovered. It isn't where he left it, but he can only imagine it was the dutiful house elves who closed and stacked it with other forgotten books, for anyone else would have taken one look at the spells written within and taken it straight to Professor Longbottom.

It hasn't happened. His precious work is safe.

James smiles and hugs the book to him. He is fifteen. He's been writing spells in this notebook since he was twelve. It's the only thing close to a friend.



V. The Fourth Day

Things are getting worse.

She said: Stop this, James, it's wrong, you know it's wrong, you have to send up sparks and end this.

They hold her down. James on one side, Audra on the other, even though Audra looks about to vomit, and Caleb straddles her stomach. She's been told about things like this, but this isn't what she expected. If she were going to be held down, she expected another sort of violation, and in a twisted way she's almost been ready for it, especially the past four days. Somehow, a part of her mind said it will get worse, and then you know what will happen, with all these boys around, but that isn't what's happening. That's not what Caleb wants from her.

Caleb grins down at her, and no matter how hard she tries she can't break from James' hold, or Audra's. "Please," she gasps, suddenly not too proud to beg, not when it isn't a game anymore. "Please, Audra, don't. Don't let them." She appeals to Audra, because she is aware now of the depth of James' cruelty, and knows not to expect any mercy from her cousin. "Please!"

"I'm sorry." Audra glances over at James, on Rose's other side, and flinches at what she sees there. "I'm sorry."

She said: What's wrong with you, where did you get these spells, why are you using them?

"Shut up," James barks at Audra. "This is just what she deserves as a traitor to the cause. It's what the real Death Eaters would do, isn't it, Caleb?"

"Yep," says Marietta Edgecombe's son, his eyes gleaming with a fever unrelated to his health. "Absolutely. She's been fraternizing with the enemy, boss." He's taken to calling James that, 'boss,' as though James were somehow paying him for every act of hatred. Perhaps simply because they seem to share a spirit.

She said: Why'd you tell Elaine to do that to Sebastien? That spell should be an Unforgiveable.

Caleb leans down closer to her, and runs the tip of his wand down her cheek. It's warm, not yet hot enough to burn, but it will be, oh it will be, and she knows it will hurt.

"You know," he whispers to her, as though sharing a long-cherished secret, "I always imagined what would happen when I'd be able to pay your bitch of a mother back for what she did to mine. I imagined a lot of things, but never something this good."

Rose turns her face away from him, then the other way, because to her right she can see the crumpled form of Franklin, felled by one of James' curses after trying to stop them from wrestling her to the ground. She can't tell if he's still breathing or not, so she doesn't want to look at him. What if he's…

Then the pain begins, and it isn't like fire, it isn't like knives, it's like both of them together and a million other agonies she's never known existed, all of them focused on her face.

She said: If you don't stop this, I will.

"It's too bad, little bitch. You had a pretty face."

Caleb gets off her, and James and Audra let go of her, knowing very well they no longer have to hold her down. Rose can't move, she's in too much pain, more as her tears fall and sting the wounds. Spell wounds, curse wounds. Merlin, how shallow is she that even now she's thinking about St. Mungo's and how little they'll be able to do for her? Caleb is right, she'll never be pretty again.

Caleb's gone, and James follows quickly after, leaving only Audra behind, Audra, who hugs herself and looks back and forth between Franklin and Rose. Rose can barely see her through the haze of red filmed over her eyes.

"I'm sorry," Audra whispers, then flees. Rose knows that nothing will stop James now.

All of this, because Rose said she would, she would stop him.

Teddy said: She's a traitor, guys. You know how Death Eaters would deal with traitors. Then he walked away.



VI. Wayward

This happens at St. Mungo's. It happens right now:

The Healer sits with them, with the Potters, who are already devastated. Harry sits staring at the opposite wall, and his eyes do not refocus when the Healer's head moves into his line of view. Beside him, his wife, clutching his hands, white-knuckled and white-faced, but more focused.

They are here about their daughter.

What the Healer tells them causes Harry to snap back to the present, to break Ginny's grip on his hands, and send him careening to the nearest corner to vomit. There's silence, save for his heavy breathing, until Ginny makes a wordless sound in the back of her throat.

"I can't be certain, of course," the Healer says quietly into that silence, "she isn't very coherent. But… based on what she's said about him… it seems the most logical conclusion."

The problem is that it seems the most logical conclusion to a pair of parents who have had questions over the years, who looked sideways at two of their children and wondered, but pushed the thoughts away. What terrible things to think, how could they? Harry and Ginny never even shared their thoughts with each other, and as Harry stands with his head bowed over the pool of his vomit, as Ginny sits staring at the Healer, they still don't know that the other is thinking but I knew, I knew, didn't I, but I didn't want to know.

How did their children go so wrong?



VII. Defiance

Lily slips through the curtains dividing the common room headquarters for her team from the balcony overlooking the western grounds and approaches her brother. The lines of his back are so well known to her in their rigid defiance of every rule and anything that would seek dominance over him. Has she always known such lack of respect for the rules—both of people and of nature—would lead to where they are now?

No.

Yes.

She isn't certain. James has always been heading somewhere known only to him, barreling straight through all obstacles, and she shudders with the memory of one barrier in particular he battered down. Do not say no to James, because he doesn't hear it. He hears only what he wants to, and on those occasions when even he can't deny what's standing in his way, he gets rid of it. By any means.

"James?"

No response.

She's surprised he hasn't tried one of his horrible spells on Scorpius yet. He has much to say on the subject of their brother dating a Malfoy.

"James?"

The second time she says his name, it's quieter. She's heard Rose talking to Franklin, seen Audra crying, seen Elaine staring stone-faced at the fireplace. All around her trembles potential and promise for the following day, positive words with perhaps negative outcomes. The potential is for violence, the promise is for the loss of James' temper. If he's heard what she's heard, if he knows….

Lily places her hands on his shoulders, and lays her cheek against his robed back. Through the clothing, she can feel the heat of his skin, always burning, as though there's a fire inside him that can't be contained by mere mortal flesh. By now, the others have felt it, though they don't know it as intimately as she.

"What?" It's like a pin in the heart, when he finally speaks to her; his tone is brusque and cold.

She slides her arms down and around his waist, only to have him pull away from her. "They're not here, they can't see," she tells him, though he's never been the one concerned with being seen before. She just can't conceive of a different reason he would move away from her.

"What do you want?"

Lily feels her bottom lip begin a quiver, and stops it cold. He has these moods sometimes. It's nothing. He still loves her. He always loves her. "I just thought you might like some company. Are you looking for the other team? I don't think they'll try anything. It's been three days." She steps to his side so she can see his face.

"If they're following the rules they will. The Order would stage a rescue." James scowls out from the balcony.

"Maybe they're not following the rules. Maybe they're going to just abandon their teammates. It's what their parents would have done." Except Scorpius'. And maybe Kate's. And…. Saying any of that to James would be a certain way to gain his anger, however, so Lily remains silent on her personal opinions of their opponents. She is worried, though, about Sebastien Lestrange's fever. "Listen, James, can't we—"

"No, they have to play by the rules," he growls, glaring out over the grounds. Below, there's a couple of large tents set up, that the other team finally conjured for themselves after the mission that saw their teammates captured. James ignores her. "Longbottom won't let them abandon the captives."

Lily stares at him. Longbottom? Since when is Neville anything but Neville or Professor Longbottom?

A hand on his arm, she tries again. "I think Sebastien Lestrange is too sick to—"

James jerks his arm from her, and turns to glare at her with eyes she's never seen before, never, not even that night when… not even then. Lily's breath catches and she steps back from him, eleven years old again and unsure of who her brother really is, and maybe then she did see this, maybe she saw it behind everything else, maybe everything else was just a mask to cover this James. All she really knows for sure is that this James doesn't care if Sebastien lives or dies, and doesn't care that Elaine will have to live with it if he dies. A sob, before she knows it's coming, and Lily gasps, "James."

"Go back inside. Don't talk to anyone for fuck's sake, unless it's about the morons out there on the grounds. Understood?"

Lily nods, and turns, and goes, because this is not her James. Audra rises to meet her, hugs her, sits her down in a chair next to Elaine, but doesn't ask why she's crying. She probably just assumes James was cruel, which he was, but there's so much more. Audra brings her tea, and murmurs soothing but meaningless words while Caleb ignores them. Rose is probably with Sebastien, and Franklin is probably with her.

"It's all right," Audra assures her quietly. "I'm sure it's fine."

It's not fine, but Lily can't bring herself to say that. All she can do is hope that her James, the James who loves her, will come back soon.



VIII. The Last Day

They run, because there's nothing else to do. They run because they have been discovered, because the devil himself is on their heels, because if they don't run, they are absolutely certain they will die.

Rose's face is bandaged, but still bleeds, and still she runs.

Between her and Kate, they practically carry the stumbling Sebastien, who sweats and gasps but is still somehow, miraculously alive. Behind them somewhere is Scorpius, who was not so lucky once Caleb cursed him to the ground. Kate didn't see what happened after that, but she heard him screaming, and will remember those screams every day for the rest of her life, and every night in her nightmares. Damn it, damn it, damn you, Daddy, for asking me to do this. I didn't even want to!

Ahead of them Franklin, limping, stops to look behind. "Can I help?"

"No, keep going, stupid!" Kate answers for the both of them, though she has no doubts he was talking to Rose. Kate is the only one of them not injured, but she thinks that's only because she, as a Goyle, has been beneath James' notice until now. He had bigger names to torture, like Lestrange and Malfoy.

Beyond Franklin, Kate sees something else, something that makes her curse with joy. Theodora and Payton, their wands in their hands.

"Move!" she shouts, takes a better grip on Sebastien, and forces the three of them to move faster whether Sebastien or Rose can handle it or not. "Keep going, keep going, move move move!" If they can get to Theodora and Payton, they'll have two more people on their side. As it is, it's only her, Rose, Franklin and Payton. Scorpius gone, probably dead, and the rest of James' idiot team chasing them with their leader.

It's all so fucked up.

"Oh my god." Theodora's exclamation on seeing them says it all about their appearance. After a moment, she shakes her head, as though shaking herself from a stupor. "We were coming to get you," she tells them as they make it to the territorial line. Kate isn't sure how the territories were drawn the past few days, as she's been a prisoner, but she can feel the protective barrier as they pass it. Rose and Franklin have some trouble, until Payton makes some adjustments to let them cross. It seems some of the Death Eaters have officially become deserters.

"That should protect us from them," Payton says, casting another charm on the boundary. He turns to them, almond-shaped eyes glancing over each of them in turn. "For a little while anyway." Then he and Theodora stare at them. Kate realizes this must be their first indication of how wrong things are in the "Death Eater" camp. She turns her own gaze to her companions.

Rose pants, the sounds closer to whimpers with every moment that goes by. Kate can't blame her, with the way Caleb fucked up her face. On the ground, Sebastien groans, weak, and a bit wheezy, which can't be good. Franklin's better off than either of the other two, and they haven't figured out the extent of the injury to his leg. None of them are going to be safe sitting out here in the open, even with Payton and Theodora's protective charms. When James finds them, and he will, it will be only a matter of time before he tears through those charms.

"What do we do?" Rose whispers, Ravenclaw Rose, daughter of the woman often called the brightest witch of her generation. Even Kate can see the brightness of panic in the other girl's eyes, though.

Rose, losing it. Sebastien, maybe dying. Franklin hurt. Theodora and Payton conferring on the strength of their smaller barrier, both pale with shock, showing uncertainty. Out there, big-shot Potter with his lost mind and his pack of morons.

"We have to go back to the tower," Kate blurts before knowing it. Of course, they all look at her like she's out of her mind. "No, really. They're all out looking for us. We leave Sebastien and Franklin here, the rest of us go back to the empty tower, get to the top, and fire off sparks to end this stupid fucking thing."

"We can't leave—"

Payton cuts Rose's protest off before her stubbornness can bloom. "Sebastien obviously can't go any further, and Franklin's leg will slow him down. They're safe enough here, Franklin can protect them."

"But it won't matter, because we're going to lure James and his idiots back to the tower with us anyway." Kate scowls at them, and stands, her wands gripped tight. "Keep them away from our wounded, confine them inside the tower if we can, and if not, as long as one of us gets to the top to set off the sparks, it'll be enough."

They're silent, all of them looking at her, their eyes unfamiliar. Kate scowls deeper and looks at the ground. She doesn't like the look in their eyes, the surprise.

"Why the top of the tower?" Rose asks, shivering, though the inside of the barrier is warm enough for spring. "Can't we just do it here?"

"We set off sparks here, James will definitely get to us before anyone else can. In the tower, we have a chance of cutting him off, locking him up, and the rest of them." Theodora speaks what Kate already knew. "And sparks from the top of the tower will be seen faster."

"All right," says Payton at last. "All right. That's the only plan we have. Let's do it."

"And fast." That's Rose again, voice shaking. "Ted—Assistant Professor Lupin is coming."

He is, off to their left, fast approaching. "Go," Franklin says, limping to place himself between Sebastien and the running Lupin. "Go!"

They go.



IX. An Accident

This is now:

They are gathered, and they are nervous. It's less than a week into the exercise that's supposed to last two, but all the parents were contacted and asked to come to Hogwarts immediately.

Well, they were all asked, but some are missing. Weasley looks around the room, face ashen and expressionless to hide his distress from the wife with her nails in his arm—I knew something like this one happen, he can hear it already—as he tries to find his best friend. The trouble is, there are two families not present. Weasley doesn't know it's because they were contacted in person, they've already been told what's happened, and they are at St. Mungo's. In the morgue. There's only one representative from one of them present in this classroom, the person other than the parents who is most affected by what's happened at Hogwarts.

Albus Potter. He sits with the questioning parents, talking to none of them, frightening them with his paleness and silence, with his obvious distress. He has no time for a glance or a word with his aunt and uncle.

Something is wrong, the parents all know it, and others have noticed the two missing families. This must mean that whatever has happened, their child is safe. Right? Of course.

The classroom door opens. Longbottom enters, without Lupin on his heels, which is probably best, as Longbottom looks disheveled enough for the both of them. After closing the door, he stops just inside, and looks around at the gathered people with a vaguely surprised expression, as though wondering what they're all doing there.

"What's happened?" someone finally says. Marietta, heavy makeup unable to hide her scars or her fear. Beside her, her husband, who pulls her close and turns back to the man who assured them their children would be safe. Michael's face is tight with fear and the promise of anger.

"I…"

"Just tell us!" It's Daniel Lidden this time, Muggle and out of place, allowed where no other Muggle goes due to the situation. He is the first to stand, but others follow quickly. "Are our kids all right?"

Longbottom sits on the closest available surface, the desk. "Audra is fine. Shaken, but… healthy." His hand shakes as he brings it up to cover his eyes, his face, and he thinks it was a monumentally stupid idea to talk to the rest of the parents all in one group. They should have been told individually, like the Potters and the Malfoys.

Faced with all their demanding expressions, he can think of only one thing to say.

"There's been… an accident."



X. The Lightning Struck Tower

How did it come to this, how how how?

It's my fault. Mine.

Teddy groans, looking up through bloodied eyes to the boy standing above him, wand drawn. This is not the James he knew, the boy who might as well be his little brother for all that they grew up together. Somewhere in there must be the same kid who ate a handful of mud before spitting out the worms, who always tugged on Teddy's nose as an attempt to make it grow, who once made it rain blue frogs directly over his babysitter's head. Where is he, where's the kid Teddy loved?

Not here. There's no trace of him in James' eyes, brown and cold, nor in the smirk twisting his lips.

"James…."

Nothing, just the widening of his mouth to show teeth Teddy imagines are sharp like a snake's fangs. Lightening strikes, and there is a gleaming, like venom.

"James!"

It's Lily, finally breaking from the spell of shock that kept the rest standing still. She runs forward, placing herself between Teddy and James, though Teddy tries to tell her no, no, don't, Lily, move away.

"James don't," she says, her hand on his wand arm, the other hand starts on his chest, then moves up to touch his face in an odd manner. Teddy can't place it until he realizes it's the way Victoire sometimes touches his face when he's upset. "James, don't. This is Teddy, don't do this. James, please, for me, please don't—"

"Oh shut up," James snaps, and Lily steps back as though struck, and then she is struck when James snaps his wand to the side and a blast of light shoots out, striking her in the chest to throw her back against the battlements. His face screws up into a mockery of expression as his voice rises several octaves. "'James don't'," he mocks, "'James please, James stop.' Don't you know how to do anything but beg?"

This isn't right, Teddy thinks, because there's just something about the way James mocks her, and the expression on her face, but there's no time to consider it further as James turns back to him and steps closer, two steps, wand only a foot or two away from Teddy's face. His wand arm is broken, even if he could get to his wand.

"James," he tries again, but it's cut off when James's wand flicks, he says a spell Teddy doesn't recognize, and pain slices through his body as though the lightening has found him.

"Torqueointussempra!" screams a high-pitched voice, to high to be James.

The boy in question, so young, so cold, grunts and stumbles backward, somehow remaining on his feet as he convulses.

Infindointus!

Teddy sits up, gasping, looks, and incredibly it's Lily with her arm outstretched, eyes wide and shocked and pained but filled with hate, too, so much hatred, so much fear and anger.

James screams now. Blood begins to drip from his nose, slowly at first, then in a gush. Teddy's never heard these spells before, but they're dark, that can't be denied. "Lily," he gasps, "Lily stop, you're killing him."

"He killed Scorpius," she whispers in return. But she's not there. Not really. "He hurt Sebastien, and Kate, and helped Caleb hurt Rose, and me, he said he loved me but he hurt me, he—"

Her mouth snaps shut on what words she might've said then, though Teddy is beginning to suspect, he's beginning to think he understands. There's too much, all Teddy wants to do is go crawl in a hole somewhere and forget, maybe die, but he has to see if he can save his godfather's children first.

There's no time, as they all feel the barrier around them buckle and snap, probably due to his own weakness. Cold air rushes over them; the barrier is gone, and James begins to lift his wand, pointing it toward his sister, his eyes manic and deadly. "Stupid whore," he growls at her, at his sister, and the hate in her is nothing compared to the hate in him, the disdain that he's laid bare for them all to see, including Lily.

"Avada Kedavra!"

James' form lights up for a split second, then he's falling back, first on the foot still behind him, and then back against the battlement and over the crenelle. In that moment, he is gone. There's not a one of them that wants to look over the side, that cares to see his broken body at the bottom.

"Lily," Rose says, Teddy hears her footsteps, and in a moment he's able to move enough to see wounded Rose kneel next to Lily, who has her wand still extended in the direction where James was only a moment ago. After some silent trembling, Lily's wand arm falls and so does she, sideways into the waiting arms of her cousin. "Lily!"

Lily's only response for a second is a choked whimper, so faint Teddy barely hears her. In her eyes, he can see they are in danger of losing her forever. Another whimper, and her face, blank except for tears, turns up to Rose's and she whispers, "He said he loved me, Rosie. He said he loved me always."

Rose looks up at Teddy, the same sick understanding in her eyes.

"I know he did," she says, looking away, helping Lily stand. "I know he did, Lily-bean."

The sky opens, snow falls.