Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Wow, another update. It's amazing, isn't it? I haven't forgotten you exist... Hope it's worth the wait, oh and:
Chapter 20 – Salazar's Locket
"Never mind that," snapped a voice suddenly. "What are you going to do about them?"
Katherine glanced up at the portrait of Mrs Black, one eyebrow arched questioningly. "Do?"
"The boys are traitors to their blood and the girl is – is filth – she's a mudblood," hissed Mrs Black, rolling eyes steady for once and fixed intently on the woman before her.
"Watch your mouth," said Katherine quietly, head held high. "Your precious Voldemort's half and half."
"Lies!" howled Mrs Black, pointing an accusing finger at her almost-daughter-in-law. "You only seek to disgrace your family-"
"Like Sirius disgraced yours?" asked Katherine, brushing off Robert's calming hand. "Leaving home was the best decision he ever made, except for the fact that it left Regulus to your clutches. He was a good man and you destroyed him, or tried to."
"What's that supposed to mean?" spat Mrs Black, furious now. Katherine just smiled grimly.
"Leopards don't change their spots, Amelia."
Mrs Black's lips tightened to a thin white line, yellowing eyes blazing. "So it would appear. You always did seem to have a soft spot for Gryffindors, sometimes I think you're a Lion at heart."
"I am not," snarled Katherine, glowering at the portrait. "I was never a bloody Gryffindor."
"How'd you explain this then?" asked Harry softly, emerald eyes hard. Katherine started and looked at the photograph he was holding out.
"What is it?" asked Mrs Black, craning to see over Harry's shoulder. "What's he got?"
Katherine gazed at the picture, then up at Harry, something like pity in her eyes. "You shouldn't have that."
"It was in that box of yours, along with the one of you and Regulus. Well that's not Regulus you're with this time – that's Sirius. And that's my Mum and Dad and Remus," said Harry hotly.
"I know," said Katherine, leaning against the wall.
"You do?" asked Robert, frowning at her. "You hated them, Kat – except for Lupin. I don't remember you ever going near them."
"You wouldn't," said Katherine, sighing. "It was the train ride home at the end of seventh year."
"Ah," said Robert, understanding dawning.
"You betrayed them," said Harry, glaring at her.
"I didn't," said Katherine softly, but firmly. "Firstly, we were not exactly what you would call friends to start with, and secondly...secondly we need to talk, Potter, but not here. Too many prying eyes and ears."
"Meaning me, I suppose," said Mrs Black, positively bristling.
"Among others," grinned Katherine slyly, before turning her jewel bright eyes on Harry. "Can I ask you something, Potter? Sirius seems to have done his level best to remove most of his history from this place so why is that portrait still here?"
"Permanent sticking charm," said Harry grudgingly.
"Ah yes," smiled Katherine. "Impervious to all magic." The portrait of Mrs Black smiled sourly, looking a little smug. "But not to fire, I think," added Katherine quietly, looking thoughtful. Harry stared at her and she smiled sourly. "Sirius must have been really depressed not to have thought of that. It's a Marauder solution if ever I saw one."
"You knew him, didn't you?" asked Harry, frowning at her.
"Like I said Potter, neither the time nor the place. Well, perhaps the time, but definitely not the place. Probably not the best time either come to think of it – Kreacher?"
"Did Sirius throw everything out?"
Kreacher looked up at her, large eyes suddenly fearful and seemingly close to tears. "Kreacher tried to stop him, Kreacher knew Mistress wouldn't like it, but Master was determined to ruin his Mother's good name – Master wouldn't listen to Kreacher-"
Katherine looked over the head of the prostrate elf at Robert. "Well that's it then. I didn't really expect it to be that easy."
"It was worth a try at any rate," agreed Robert soberly.
"What was worth a try?" asked Harry, unable to stop himself.
"Never you mind," muttered Robert, casting a hostile look towards the young man.
Katherine half smiled, then turned sharply towards Kreacher who was still sobbing his apologies. "What was that last bit?"
Kreacher broke off abruptly, gazing up at her fearfully. "Kreacher did not like the blood traitors? Kreacher tried to escape to warn-"
"No," said Katherine carefully. "The bit where you said you salvaged what you could."
"Kreacher tried to-"
"Where?" asked Robert sharply, following Katherine's train of thought. "Where did you put what you stole?"
"Steal? Kreacher would never steal, Kreacher was only-"
But Katherine was already gone, tossing Robert's wand back to him and dashing along the corridor and down the back stairs to the kitchen pantry, Robert close on her heels.
"Alexandra, isn't it?"
Alex McKenzie looked up from the book she was reading with a guarded look on her face. "Yes. Was there something you wanted?"
Bellatrix Lestrange smiled and sat down opposite her, eyes bright. "Do you remember someone called Faye Belle?"
Alex arched an eyebrow. "Why do you ask?"
"She's Riddle's cousin," said Bella silkily. "You do know Katherine, right?"
"I used to," said Alex, scowling. "But if you're trying to get to her through Faye you're wasting your time. Faye's dead – Katherine killed her."
"Riddle did away with her cousin?" asked Bella incredulously. "Are you sure?"
"She told him she did," said Alex in a tired voice. "Why would she lie? She's ruthless right? Least that's what I've heard and from the look in her eyes when she brought James back I could well believe it."
Bella frowned, leaning forward slightly, her dark hair falling to frame her pale face. "Ruthless, yes, but not towards her family. If she found her cousin there's no way in hell she'd hurt her – Riddle hasn't got much family and the friends she has got she'd give her life to protect. Besides, Faye Belle is teaching at Hogwarts."
Alex took a moment to consider this, twirling a strand of copper hair between her fingers. "But Jamie already tried that. He went up there to see her and it was Katherine – she knocked him out for sneaking around her room. So you see – even if Faye is alive, it's not her at Hogwarts."
"Your brother," said Bella carefully, thinking fast. "Was that the only time he tried to see her?"
"Of course," said Alex, brown eyes large with surprise. "She threatened to use Number Four on him if he came back – what? Why are you smiling?"
Bella leant back, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. "Why would she need threats if there was nothing to hide?"
Alex frowned, looking confused. "I'm not following you."
"Look, if it really was Riddle up at the school, which I don't believe for a second – she's got far to many commitments down here for her even consider a teaching job – why bother threatening Inopia? The worst your brother could do to her is be a nuisance – always checking that she was who she said she was..."
"But if it's Faye, he'd find out she was lying," completed Alex, eyes wide.
"And Riddle would have to answer some very tricky questions," agreed Bella, smiling nastily.
"And then she'd kill us," said a low voice from the doorway.
Bella jumped out of her seat and whirled to face the intruder. James McKenzie smiled pleasantly at her and looked over at his sister. "You're not getting involved, Alex. Katherine's not the sweet little girl we used to think she was. If you cross her she'll kill you."
"I'm still alive, aren't I?" interrupted Bella, looking coolly at James.
"Maybe she's having a hard time thinking up a suitable punishment," grinned James, flaming red hair falling softly onto his forehead.
"Maybe she knows she can't handle me," said Bella icily, looking distinctly ruffled at his suggestion.
"Maybe," conceded James. "And maybe Severus has a heart. Or Dumbledore was a Death Eater."
"Very funny," seethed Bella, giving him a look that would have felled a tree. "We'll talk later, Alex." With that, she swept out of the room, taking no notice of James' smirking features.
"You never know, maybe Potter wants to join forces with the Dark Lord," he shouted after her.
"Don't Jamie," chided Alex, giving her brother a disapproving look. "And she had a point, you know."
"Yeah, I know," said James, gazing at her calmly. "I also know I don't want Katherine after my blood. She invented that, you know," he added, nodding towards the book that lay open on the desk before Alex. The red head glanced down at the page and sighed.
"Not timid little Miss Average, then?" she asked, looking up at her brother resignedly
"Not exactly, no," agreed James, taking the seat Bella had vacated and sliding the book towards him. "Haven't looked at this in ages – I suppose mine's at the bottom of one of my trunks or something."
"Well go find it," grinned Alex, snatching the book back from him and snapping it's green cover shut. James smiled ruefully, then frowned as a thought occurred to him.
"You're not planning to use any of those on Riddle, are you? Because she probably knows that book inside out-"
"It's ok, Jamie, I won't," sighed Alex reassuringly. "I'll stay out of it."
"Good," said James and stood to leave but Alex asked quickly:
"Jamie? How did you know?"
"Know she invented it?"
James shook his head and smiled grimly, brown eyes meeting his sister's identical ones. "You really should read the papers Allie."
"Harry, where are you going? We should go and get someone!"
"It'll be too late," shouted back Harry, taking the stairs three at a time and rushing along the corridor that lead to the kitchen and Kreacher's den.
"But we don't know what they're looking for," chipped in Ron, catching up with his friend.
"It doesn't matter – this was Sirius' house, it's my house, she's not taking anything from it," fumed Harry, pushing open the kitchen door and meeting a grim looking Robert Avery on the other side.
"I told you, Kat. Stupidity always wins in Gryffindors," he said softly, gaze never moving from Harry's face, his wand pointing directly at his heart.
"It's bravery, Rob," came Katherine's muffled voice from the depths of the room.
"Same thing – both get you killed," said Robert calmly.
"So does loyalty," replied Katherine distractedly, making Robert frown slightly. "Oh yes..."
Robert cast a quick glance over his shoulder to see Katherine straightening up, a golden chain dangling between her fingers. She smiled brightly at him, opening her hand so that the heavy locket dropped, swinging gently from the chain.
"Loyalty's not all bad then," murmured Robert, gazing at the gold locket and not even caring when Harry darted around him, wand pointing at Katherine. Katherine gave the boy a withering look.
"I thought I told you not to bother with that," she said tiredly. Harry wasn't listening however, his gaze was fixed on the locket hanging menacingly from her fingertips, things suddenly clicking into place with alarming speed. There was no mistaking that locket this time – it was definitely the one he'd seen in the pensieve, and this wasn't just Sirius' house – Regulus Black had lived here too – Regulus, whose own fake locket he had in his jeans pocket at the very moment. He'd spent weeks with Ron and Hermione trying to decide on the best course of action for tracking the horcruxes down and here was one, sitting quietly in his very own house, just waiting to be remembered, waiting to be found. And now it had been, but by the wrong person.
He raised his gaze and emerald eyes met sapphire ones. "You can't use it," he said quietly, scowling at her.
"Use it? Potter it's a locket, a very old locket. You wear them," replied Katherine, but her expression didn't match the light tone of her voice. She was studying him, weighing up what she knew about him and putting things together very fast by the looks of it.
"Salazar's locket?" tested Harry, trying to keep his voice level. Was there a chance she didn't know what it was? Or was she retrieving it for Voldemort? A slight movement in the corner of the room caught his eye; Kreacher was back.
"Someone's done their homework," said Robert Avery carefully, stepping around the large table to reach Katherine.
"Master's locket!" exclaimed Kreacher, catching sight of the trinket. "Master told Kreacher to keep it safe – he said it was not to be removed. Master made his mother proud, Master would never have run away-"
"Master was trying to destroy his master," said Katherine softly, her voice, quiet as it was, cutting into the elf's tirade and stopping him short. "And you know what this is, don't you, Potter." Harry's stubborn silence was answer enough for her and she smiled grimly. "Yes, I thought you might after all that business with Regulus up on the rooftop. Why would you be interested in a dead man? Reg never did anything particularly notable in his life except for discover Tom's best kept secret. How did you know about him? I'm pretty sure Tom never knew, so I doubt Dumbledore would've."
In answer, Harry withdrew the small locket from his pocket and held it up for Katherine to see. "He left it in place of the real one," said Harry impassively. "We found it the night Dumbledore..." He trailed off, then looked up at Katherine again, gaze as hard as diamonds. "Give it to me."
Katherine gazed back almost sadly and very slowly shook her head. "No. This one's mine."
"No!" shouted Harry, making a lunge for the locket but Katherine held it out of his reach and Harry slammed into an invisible wall courtesy of the quick work of Avery. Katherine turned her attention to the locket and promptly forgot everyone else existed.
"Looks safe," she muttered eventually. "What d'you think?"
Robert took the locket in gentle fingers, though the chain remained looped around Katherine's hand. "Only one way to know for sure," he said carefully, looking grim. Katherine nodded in agreement and tugged the locket from his hands.
"What are you doing?" asked Harry in frustration, barely noticing Hermione's efforts to dissipate the shield that Avery had constructed.
Katherine met his gaze, bright eyes gleaming in the dim light and said simply. "What I promised." And before Harry could move or say anything she flicked her wrist and a shimmering mist crept down the chain of the locket, hardening as it did so and glistening like ice. In a matter of seconds it had covered the entire surface, making the locket look like a very odd icicle.
Katherine glanced up and smiled genuinely at Harry. "Whatever Remus tells you about me, it's probably true. Even the good bits."
Harry stared at her in confusion. Why had she said that? What did Remus have to do with anything? Katherine grinned at his expression and added only one line of explanation.
"Just in case it kills me when I do this."
And she slammed the frozen locket in the wall, shattering it in fragments of gold and ice. A moment later, Harry, who had unconsciously been leaning against Avery's shield, fell forwards as it disintegrated. He was helped to his feet by Ron and Hermione who were looking worriedly over at Katherine and when Harry adjusted his glasses he saw why.
The locket may have lain lay smashed on the floor but there was a dark sinister shape hanging in the air before Katherine that looked like black smoke, except it was swirling, growing and forming into a shape – a human shape. Harry now realised why Avery had dropped the shield charm, the blond man was constructing some sort of spell or jinx under his breath, strange lights dancing at the tip of his wand and throwing his face into deep shadowed relief.
Katherine, just visible through the dark, smoky figure that was becoming more defined by the second, seemed to have her eyes shut, her face screwed up in concentration. Suddenly Hermione tugged Harry and Ron backwards and downwards so that they fell to the floor and by the time Harry got his breath back to ask what she was playing at, it had already become clear.
Avery had hurled his spell at the dark figure at the very moment it had solidified and the resulting blast caused a wave of rushing air that shot out at waist height with all the force of a tidal wave, crashing into shelves and cabinets around the room and knocking Avery and Katherine off their feet and into the wall with a sickening thump. The torrent roared just above the trio as they lay on the floor, their hands over their heads, but there was no way of blocking out the howl that penetrated the noise of falling crockery and the rush of wind – the anguished scream of a soul in torment, which seemed to go on forever...
And then, just as suddenly as it had started, it stopped and silence rushed back to fill the room, broken only by the sound of heavy breathing. Harry lifted his head, distractedly brushing plaster dust from his hair. Ron and Hermione were on either side of him, but both were unhurt thanks to the latter's quick thinking. On the other side of the room, Avery was getting up, grimacing as he extracted broken crockery from his shoulder. Harry cast a glance at the room's other occupant and felt a curious rush of panic when he saw she wasn't moving.
Robert looked up at his sudden intake of breath and followed his gaze. He frowned, then stumbled over the broken chairs to reach his friend, the shards of porcelain forgotten and his brown eyes wide with fear.
"Katherine? Kat? Are you all right?"
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Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Hey, guess what, there are some answers in this chapter, a rare occurrence, I know. Don't expect it to happen to often...
Chapter 21 – Alea iacta est
Faye looked up at the urgent knocking on the door. Hesitantly she laid down her quill and moved over to the door, opening it curiously. At the sight of the person on the other side, her look of surprise turned to a frown.
"It's Katherine," said the brown haired girl, twisting her hands together nervously. "She's...in a bad way and I heard you tell Remus that you'd trained as a Healer in America. Please – Avery won't take her to Saint Mungo's and..." She broke off, biting her lip and looking imploringly up at Faye. "There's a lot of blood."
Faye stared down at the girl, a thousand and one scenarios flitting through her head. Hermione knew Katherine? How was that possible? Was this really Hermione or...?
"Please, Faye. You've got to help." Hermione's eyes were wide, her face pale and the expression of concern on it was genuine enough. Maybe she was walking into a trap but could she afford to take that chance?
"Ok," she said quietly. "Where is she?"
The fireplace at Grimmauld Place flared green and Hermione stepped out, expression worried but calm.
Robert Avery regarded her distrustfully, Katherine lying unconscious on the floor next to him. "If you've gone to the Aurors you're going to regret it," he said softly, malice underlying every word.
Hermione shot him a scathing look, moving to stand next to Harry and Ron who had their wands trained on the two Death Eaters. "Of course I didn't. I said I knew someone who could help and I found her. She'll be here in a minute."
Avery scowled at her, then turned his attention back to Katherine, hating the fact that he had to put her life in the hands of a group of teenage Gryffindors. He supposed he could have tried Saint Mungo's but that would mean Azkaban for them both or at the very least awkward questions from him and that wouldn't do anyone any good. He sighed, moving his hand away from Katherine's head to see if the bleeding had stopped yet; he'd used his shirt to try and stem the flow of blood but it hadn't helped much. Don't die, Kat. You didn't come this far to get killed at the first hurdle. You didn't come this far to give up on me...
Green light lit up the room again as Hermione's supposed Healer arrived and Robert glanced up, then did a double take and looked again.
"Who the hell are you?" he demanded, getting to his feet, blood stained hands reaching for his wand, only to remember the trio had taken it from him as he'd examined Katherine.
"My name's Faye," said the woman, setting a bag down the floor and reaching out towards Katherine. Robert knocked her hand away, glaring at her.
"That wasn't what I meant," he growled through gritted teeth. Faye looked back, meeting his gaze with equal animosity.
"Well if this is how all her friends behave when I'm trying to help I can see why she made sure we never met," said Faye pushing determined past Avery and kneeling by her cousin.
"What are you talking about?" asked Robert, dropping to the floor as Faye examined first Katherine's eyes, then the back of her head.
"Later," said Faye distractedly. "How did she do this?"
"Got slammed into the wall," said Robert curtly, holding Katherine's hair back as Faye took something out of her bag. Faye's oak green eyes looked at him in surprise at this gesture and he let his gaze fall to Katherine's pale face. He hadn't seen her look so helpless since Evan had poisoned her over twenty years previously and she'd very nearly died then.
"Who slammed her into a wall?" asked Faye innocently, sealing the wound with her wand.
"What then?" asked Faye, looking up at him. "Doing something she shouldn't have been?"
Avery smiled grimly, though his brown eyes remained worried. "Always."
Faye smiled back faintly and turned Katherine over, taking her pulse. "Katherine? Kat? Can you hear me?"
Looking thoughtful, Robert leant down and whispered something in Katherine's ear. One blue eye flickered open and looked blearily but nevertheless accusingly up at him.
"Liar," she murmured, half raising a hand to thump him on the arm, but letting it fall again almost immediately. "What happened?" she asked, not even bothering to open both eyes, let alone try and sit up.
"You nearly gave me a heart attack, that's what," said Robert, looking appraisingly down at her.
"I said it might kill me," muttered Katherine with a sigh. "It was a chance I was willing to take. Shame it didn't work. Is it gone?"
"Destroyed," smiled Robert, eyes triumphant now.
"What was?" asked Faye, leaning back against the sink and gazing down at her now lucid cousin.
Both of Katherine's eyes flew open at the sound of her voice and she turned her head, wincing slightly, to stare at Faye.
"What are you doing here?"
"Saving your life," answered Faye, folding her arms. "What were you doing?"
Katherine managed a half hearted smile. "Attempting to save everyone else's." She turned her head back to look up at Robert. He shook his head, rubbing his face tiredly.
"You can explain later when you've thought up a suitable story," he sighed, getting to his feet and helping Katherine into one the chairs that had survived the blast of fury from the horcrux.
"She's my cousin," said Katherine quietly, looking him in the eye. "She works at Hogwarts and I told Dad I killed her and that it's me working there in disguise."
Robert regarded her carefully for a moment, then looked at Faye. "In that case you'd better be getting back there before anyone notices you're missing."
Faye nodded, picking up her bag. "I want you to come and see me tonight, Kat – or I'll come and see you. You've probably got concussion and I need to give you a proper look over, right?"
Katherine sighed but agreed reluctantly. "Ask Rem where my house is and meet me there – only don't tell him about this. He'll probably lecture me."
Faye smiled. "Ok. I'll see you then."
"And not a word of this to anyone," added Katherine, as Faye moved over to the fireplace.
"I won't tell a soul – so long as you meet me tonight," answered Faye, clear eyes serious before she turned to the fireplace and said calmly: "Hogwarts."
Katherine smiled wanly then placed her folded arms on the table and rested her head on them. "How did she get here?"
"I got her."
Katherine raised her head and unfocused eyes settled on Hermione. "You?"
"You didn't think we were going to let you die without giving us answers, did you?" asked Harry, pulling up a chair opposite her.
Katherine studied him for a moment then frowned, though Harry could have sworn she was suppressing a grin.
"You're a bloody clone of your father, you are."
"And are you a clone of yours?" asked Harry, gaze fixed on hers.
Katherine grinned wickedly, burnished eyes glittering. "Hell no, Potter. I'm unique."
"You destroyed the horcrux."
"You knew it was Voldemort's horcrux."
"Why did you do it?"
Katherine raised an eyebrow. "Why? Because I promised Reg I would." She smiled with all the lazy menace of a tiger and added: "And because I hate Tom. Yours weren't the only parents he killed."
"He killed your parents?" asked Harry, his forehead creasing in a frown.
Katherine smiled mirthlessly. "My fault; I should have stayed with him."
Katherine gave Harry an odd look. "Excuse me?"
"Your father's alive," said Harry, returning her look with one of anger. He didn't like being treated like a child.
Katherine tilted her head to one side and smiled tightly. "Biology isn't everything, Potter."
"But he is your father," said Harry, only a trace of uncertainty showing in his voice.
"Tom? Yeah, I guess giving me twenty six chromosomes means he qualifies as being my father, but he's not my Dad. My Dad was murdered when I was sixteen, along with my Mum," said Katherine, looking ruefully at Harry. "My fault." She glanced at Robert, who had stopped removing the last of the broken pottery from his shoulder and was staring at her. "What?"
"You never told me that."
Katherine chuckled softly. "You never asked." She sighed heavily, then cast a sudden glance around the room, looking as though she'd lost something. "Where's Kreacher?"
Harry started, realising he hadn't heard the elf's discontented mutterings for a while now.
"Maybe he went back to Hogwarts," suggested Ron, shrugging, but Hermione tugged on his arm and pointed towards the pile of splintered wood that had previously been a set of shelves. Katherine leant over the table and saw a pair of feet sticking out from under them; they weren't moving.
"Ah," she said quietly as Robert muttered something Harry couldn't hear and sparks flew from his fingertips, engulfing the small body, turning it to ash in a matter of seconds. "You weren't too attached to him were you?"
"To Kreacher?" asked Harry, his incredulity evident in his voice.
Katherine laughed, sitting back in her chair. "I see you've inherited your godfather's distaste for him then. Can't say I blame you – Reg always said he was a nasty little git."
"So you did know him," said Harry, green eyes boring into Katherine's. He was going to get answers if it killed him.
"Course I did – he was in my year," said Katherine nonchalantly, though something about her stance told Harry she was being deliberately careful.
"He's got his arm round you in the photo," said Harry, a touch of accusation in his voice.
"End of term high spirits," said Katherine calmly, eyes bright with mystery.
"You were friends?"
"For a while," admitted Katherine quietly.
"Then what happened?" asked Harry, determinedly.
Katherine smiled again, eyes full of regret. "Neither the time nor the place, Potter," she sighed.
"And when will it be," asked Harry angrily.
"I don't know," said Katherine. "But it's not now." She got up and Harry noticed she wasn't even swaying anymore; how could she have recovered that quickly? She'd lost a lot of blood – the evidence of that was congealing on the kitchen floor and matting her glossy black hair, but if you hadn't known that, you'd never have guessed she'd been at death's door ten minutes previously.
Robert Avery chuckled, rinsing out the cloth he'd been using to tend to his own wounds. "She's a fast healer," he said quietly, noticing Harry's confused expression. "Very fast," he added as Harry shot him a disbelieving look.
Katherine stood up from her crouch, fragments of gold in her hand. "One down," she grinned, dropping the shards onto the table and sitting back down, her alert gaze focused on the trio. "Now, I think, is the time to talk horcruxes."
"Why should we talk to you?" asked Ron, pulling up a chair beside Harry, Hermione with him.
"Because we're smarter than you are," offered Robert flippantly. "Or maybe because you just saw us destroy one and you can't afford not to be on out side."
"Can't we?" asked Hermione defiantly.
"No," answered Katherine softly. "Because if you're going to go shooting your mouths off to anyone, we're going to have to kill you, prophecy be damned."
"But you work for Voldemort," pointed out Harry, hand clasping the fake locket in his pocket, Remus' words echoing in his head: "...you really don't want her as your enemy..."
"And you think that means we're on his side?" asked Katherine, looking vaguely amused. "Tom uses threats and punishments to ensure loyalty and they're not exactly the best methods of winning the hearts of your followers."
"You're risking a lot by tracking down horcruxes then, aren't you," said Hermione. It wasn't a question.
Katherine looked at Robert, then back at the trio. "I've got nothing to lose and he's got everything," she shrugged. "Tom has to be stopped."
There was a short pause, then Ron asked quietly:
"Look, exactly whose side are you on? His or ours?"
"Mine," said Katherine firmly. "Nasty Slytherin habit that – don't care much about other people."
"Except Remus?" questioned Hermione sharply. Katherine grinned and surveyed the girl with an amused gaze.
"You not caring about others isn't a very good reason for us joining you, is it?" remarked Harry, frowning deeply. There was another factor in this somewhere, he knew it – if only he could work out what it was...
"You need us," said Robert seriously. "We're more experienced with Dark Magic."
Harry looked at him thoughtfully. "You mean you need us. I'm the one who can defeat Voldemort and..." He paused, smiling grimly. "...and you don't know how many there are, do you? One down – but how many more to go?"
Katherine's eyes narrowed, though not in annoyance. "Father's looks and mother's astuteness. That's rather a dangerous combination you've got there, Potter. No wonder Dad's mad at you." She sighed, smiling slyly. "But Rob's still got a point – you do need us."
"Because you're better at magic?"
"No, because you've got no idea where to look," said Katherine simply. "If you did, you would have found that locket long ago and would be well on the way to tracking down the next one by now."
"And you know where to look?" asked Harry, irritated.
Katherine smiled artfully. "When I first met Tom he used to tell me a lot about his childhood – he wanted to get me on side I guess, by telling me all about his troubled life. I know of plenty of places where the horcruxes might be – we just don't know what they look like or how many there are, so we're in a bit of a dilemma. For all we know, that horcrux could have been the last, but I don't fancy some one on one combat with Tom to check, 'cause if it wasn't I'll die."
"You'd help us?" asked Harry, gazing at Katherine in puzzlement.
"You want to get rid of Tom?"
Katherine glanced at Robert, who nodded, then she turned back to the trio and smiled magnanimously. "Then providing you don't speak a word of this to anyone, our skills are at your service, Potter."
Harry looked at his friends; Ron shrugged and said softly: "She has a point – we don't know where to look. Worth a try, isn't it?"
"And you?" This was directed at Hermione, who was looking dubious.
"I don't like it, but Ron's right, we need them," she ventured slowly. "Plus, I think we can trust Katherine at least – she wouldn't do anything that could hurt Remus; you saw the way they were talking on the rooftop."
"Aside from trying to kill my parents?" asked Harry sceptically.
"Hey – for the last time, I did not kill your parents, Potter," interrupted Katherine, making Harry jump. He scowled; he hadn't realised she'd heard them.
"That's not what the papers said," he argued.
"That's not what you said, come to that," added Robert, looking appraisingly down at Katherine.
Katherine pulled a face, folding her arms. "Yeah well, I say a lot of things."
"So what did happen?" asked Harry, looking questioningly at her. "I'm not telling you anything unless you explain," he added quickly.
Katherine cast a wretched look at Robert. "I don't suppose there's much chance of you putting your fingers in your ears and humming loudly is there?"
"None at all," said Robert, trying not to look amused at the expression on his friend's face.
"You're going to get mad at me," she warned.
"Quite probably," he agreed. "But I'm sure I'll get over it."
"Fine – but none of you are to tell Remus, you hear? He'll probably never talk to me again if he finds out," said Katherine and there was real earnest in her voice. At unanimous nods from the trio and an over exaggerated cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die from Robert, Katherine explained. "Tom told me to eliminate your parents about two days after Regulus had told me about the horcruxes, only I knew that if I did it I'd break Remus' heart and if I didn't Tom would kill me, so I took the only other option left open to me. I went with my partner to the restaurant we'd found they were going to and made the attack. Unfortunately, Wilkes somehow managed to get between me and them just as I aimed and..." She shrugged, sighing theatrically. "Poor Leo."
Robert chuckled darkly, grinning at his friend. "Oh yes, I bet it just broke your heart when that happened."
"Hey, I loved Leon," said Katherine in a mock hurt voice. "He was the best mistake I ever made."
"Only you had to kill him."
"Well I couldn't have Rem hating me, could I?" asked Katherine, eyes glittering playfully. "Anyway, the Aurors turned up just after Wilkes fell and I ran for it," said Katherine, smiling ruefully at Harry. "Had a bit of unfinished business to catch up with before they carted me off to Azkaban, see."
"Azkaban was your other option?" asked Hermione in a slightly shocked voice.
Katherine's blue eyes flicked up to her face and she arched an eyebrow. "When it's a choice between death, prison and Remus giving you that disappointed look he does so well, I'd take prison any day. Food's terrible but at least Tom can't get you."
"What about the Dementors?" asked Harry quietly, looking curiously at the woman in front of him. He had the feeling that it was going to be a long time before he could even try and understand her, but he was starting to think it was worth the effort.
Katherine shrugged again, though her blue eyes were serious. "They're not so bad when you know your greatest fear can't come true. Anyway," she sighed, shaking her head to clear it. "I had a lot of time to think about everything Reg told me about the horcruxes and I don't break my promises – I will destroy them. Tom's not invincible, despite his telling us otherwise on a regular basis."
Harry was silent for a while, considering all this information. Could he run the risk of collaborating with Death Eaters? But then they already knew about the horcruxes and he'd seen them destroy one – and aside from all that it would be useful to know if Voldemort had any inklings of what they were up to. Plus there was the glaringly obvious point that they were far more experienced with magic than the trio were and Katherine had seemed to be telling the truth when she'd said she wanted to be rid of Voldemort...
Slowly, he pulled the fake locket out of his pocket again and slid it across the table towards Katherine. She frowned and picked it up, flicking it open in one easy movement and unfolding Regulus' note in elegant long fingers. She quickly read it, grinning and passed it to Robert. The blond man raised his eyebrows.
"Always did have a certain way with words, that boy. Basically along the lines of F you, isn't it?" he remarked, handing it back to Katherine, who laughed.
"Good old Reg," she said softly, giving the locket back to Harry who was studying her carefully.
"You miss him, don't you?" he asked gently.
Katherine smiled mirthlessly. "I'll be seeing him soon enough." She glanced at her watch, the glass of which had a crack running through it, presumably a result of her collision with the wall earlier. "And now I think I'd better be off. We'll owl you if we think we've found anything of significance."
"And how do we contact you?" asked Harry, rolling Robert's wand across the table. The blond man picked it up, smirking.
"Send me an owl or a memo or something – I work at the Ministry; Transportation Department. Try not to be too conspicuous – Aurors aren't the only ones I need to avoid," he said, pushing the chair back and getting to his feet.
"Or if it's incredible urgent, ask Rem. He'll probably agree unwillingly to seek me out," grinned Katherine, also standing. "Good to meet you, Potter." She picked up a fragment of the broken horcrux and stared at it for a moment. "Nice to know you're a little more open minded than your father," she added quietly. "We'll be in touch. Good luck."
Feedback? You know you want to.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Ok, I actually managed to finish the chapter so it turns out that you don't have to wait another week. I was up rather later writing it so if it's a load of nonsense, I apologise. Enjoy.
Chapter 22 – Non illigitamus carborundum
"Remember when Fi died?"
There was a slight pause then: "Yeah…"
"My Uncle came to Hogwarts to see Dumbledore – asked him to make sure my mother didn't find me, I think. Well, he brought Faye along and…" Katherine shrugged, glancing sideways at Robert through a curtain of dark hair.
"You've known about Faye since seventh year?"
"To be fair we only met once – I've really only known her for about a week if you add the time up."
"Seventh year, Kat," said Robert, giving her an appraising look. They were walking along an empty London street in the growing twilight and Robert was getting some answers for a change.
"Well you were all grieving and so was I – you didn't miss me and I didn't see any reason to add to your problems," said Katherine, tucking her hair behind her ear and gazing up at the darkening sky.
"You found out you had a cousin and you thought that was a problem…?"
Katherine smiled weakly. "It is when you know your friends aren't going to like you in a couple of months time. They could let things slip."
Robert gave his friend an odd look and exhaled deeply. "You planned it that far ahead?"
Sapphire bright eyes met his as Katherine turned her head to face him. "I didn't plan it – I just saw an opportunity and took it. When people have friends they feel the need to do stupid things like protect each other. Look at you and Cass – you'd walk through hell and back if you thought it would make her happy, and don't say I'm exaggerating – we both know you're tracking down the horcruxes for her sake. When Tom's gone, she'll be safe."
"And I'll be in Azkaban."
Katherine smiled slightly, though it was tinged with sadness. "Maybe – but at least you'll know she's ok."
Robert frowned, brown eyes dark with thought. "Is that what kept you sane?"
"I'm sane, now, am I?"
Robert smiled half heartedly. "As sane as you ever were."
"Knowing you lot were ok, you mean? Yeah, that was part of it," agreed Katherine, squinting up the road into the shadows of the houses.
"Even though you left us to fend for ourselves?" questioned Robert, raising an eyebrow in jest.
Katherine laughed. "Well you fared better than most of our year, didn't you? In fact, if I recall correctly, the only Slytherins in our year that died were killed by other Slytherins. Evan killed Fiona and I killed Evan."
"So it pays not to be friends – as long as you're not enemies," surmised Robert, grinning despite himself.
"Pretty much. I guess I'm going to have to revise that theory now, if we're all gonna make it through this war," she said quietly, shaking hair out of her eyes.
Robert smiled grimly. "You know that's highly unlikely, don't you? That we'll all make it? It was a miracle we pulled through last time."
"I know," acknowledged Katherine in a small voice, meeting his heavy gaze. "But I can hope, can't I?"
"Dangerous thing, hope," said Robert, looking thoughtful.
"Only if it's false," said Katherine calmly. "I'm not deluded, Rob. Overly optimistic perhaps, but not deluded."
Robert laughed, running a hand through his blond streaked hair. "Now that's something I'd never have thought anyone could accuse you of, Kat. What happened to the pessimistic cynic we all knew and loved?"
Katherine just grinned. "She grew up and a met a person called Regulus Black. Best one of all of us really, wasn't he? While we were moping around being bitter and angry at the world he went straight to the root of the problem."
"And got killed? Do you know why that was?"
Katherine shrugged. "All I know is what Bella told me – that Tom was disappointed with Reg's recent work and that she was going to pay him a visit."
"Then you went to warn him and he handed over the papers?" asked Robert musingly.
"That's right," agreed Katherine. "Never did manage to drive him away."
"No – though I notice he never made any attempt to tell us that you'd purposefully split us up."
"Why would he? He knew I was right," said Katherine, smiling slightly. "Besides, you wouldn't have thanked me for it. The only reason you're still talking to me now is that you thought I was dead and you're pleased to have me back. To be honest I'm surprised that most of your reactions weren't more like Cass'; I wasn't exactly expecting to be welcomed back with open arms."
"Why not?" asked Robert, looking slightly amused. "You're the one who kept me on the rails when I first joined, Kat – I wasn't intending on abandoning you just because you faked your own death and Nic's never one to hold a grudge. As for Severus, well he's in love with you, so-"
"That was a long time ago," interrupted Katherine, face impassive in an instant.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."
"Or turn to resentment."
Robert shook his head, looking seriously at his friend. "You hurt him when you went off with Black but he never stopped loving you – why do you think he joined the Order?"
"Because Dad told him to," said Katherine simply, frowning into the middle distance. "Or because he wanted to get close enough to Sirius to kill him."
"Or because he wanted you to be proud of him?"
"Now you're just being ridiculous," said Katherine scathingly. "He knows I hate traitors."
"He also knew you were always fighting against your father and you have to admit it's a good ruse. He couldn't be punished for foiling our attacks if it was part of his role as a double agent. And then of course there's Remus."
"Remus? What about Remus? Severus detests Remus," scowled Katherine, shoving her hands in her pockets.
"And yet he's safe and relatively well, isn't he? Never went on a doomed mission – escaped from most battles with a barely a scratch," pointed out Robert quietly. "Very lucky that – especially without you there to protect him."
Katherine had stopped walking and was surveying Robert with a calculating expression. "And Severus told you all this, did he?"
"No, but I'm a genius, aren't I?" chuckled Robert, treating Katherine to a sardonic grin.
"You're a hell of a propaganda minister," conceded Katherine, gazing at him from under jet black lashes.
"It makes sense – and he does love you. If you say otherwise you're either in denial or actually insane. I'd prefer to think it's the first, although by your behaviour earlier I have to say the latter is not entirely unfeasible," added Robert, looking slightly worried.
"We can trust Potter," assured Katherine, choosing to ignore her friend's theorising on the subject of Severus. "The worst he can do is not accept our help."
"Correction – the worst he can do is go telling on me – like you said, I have everything to lose," put in Robert, brow creasing with anxiety.
"He won't tell."
"How can you be so sure?"
Katherine grinned wickedly. "Because he's not James and he's not Lily. He's a troubled teenage vigilante."
Robert cocked his head to one side and frowned at his friend. "You like him, don't you?"
Katherine chuckled softly. "He's got spirit – something that is severely lacking in most people I know. He was seriously considering hexing us too – us – Death Eaters twice his age. That's not bravery – that's sheer cheek."
"It's stupidity," said Robert flatly, not sharing her enthusiasm.
Katherine shook her head, still grinning. "I think he's smarter than you give him credit for."
"You've changed your tune," observed Robert. "A couple of weeks ago you were calling him a prat."
"Well I hadn't met him then, had I?" said Katherine, smiling. "I thought he was a reckless little hellraiser. How was I to know he was such a…Marauder?"
"Oh no – you did not just use that word as a term of praise," said Robert, pointing accusingly at her. "You've spent far too much time around Gryffindors, Kat."
Katherine just laughed, hugging her arms around herself for warmth. "How are you going to remedy that, then?"
"I'm going to take you out for a drink with proper Slytherins," said Robert decisively. "The old crowd – tomorrow night, at The Centaur's Arms."
"Eight o'clock. Auriga Nott runs it and she'll let us use the back room."
"Fine, I'll see you there then. Now you'd better head back to Cass and get that shoulder seen to," said Katherine, giving him a loose hug. "Go on, push off."
Robert smirked, shaking his head. "You know, I'd hex you if I thought I could get away with it. You're completely ruining my thick-but-hard-as-nails image."
Katherine laughed again and turned away, striding down the street, her black hair rippling slightly in the gentle breeze. Robert gazed after her for a moment then pulled out his wand and disapparated.
The door to Nicola's house swung shut as Katherine stepped out of the shower. She frowned – Nicki wasn't due back from work for at least another two hours. Wrapping herself in one of the large fluffy white towels that lay on the towel rack, she padded out of the bathroom and onto the landing as a figure came up the stairs.
"Severus?" she asked, staring at him in surprise. She hadn't seen him in a month – not since he'd gone to Bulgaria.
"Ah, Katherine – I wondered if you were home," he said softly, dropping a canvas bag on the floor by his bedroom door and surveying her critically. "How are you?"
"Fine," said Katherine distractedly. "What happened to your hair?"
"Hmm? Oh, I had to cut it short for the assignment," he shrugged, tugging absently at a dark lock. "It's growing back," he added, dark eyes flickering to the pile of clothes she'd dropped on the bathroom floor. "Are you sure you're ok?"
"Perfectly healthy, thanks."
"That's someone else's blood, then, is it?" he asked innocuously, gesturing to her blood stained shirt that lay in a crumpled heap behind her. Katherine's innocent expression faltered; she'd washed the blood out of her hair, but she hadn't had time to dispose of her clothes. "What happened?"
"I had a slight disagreement with a wall," shrugged Katherine, shivering slightly in the cool air of the hall.
"You should see the wall," she joked, smiling wanly.
"Are you ok?"
"Bit tired, but I heal fast," shrugged Katherine. "I've had worse injuries."
"That may be true, but it hardly means it's not a cause for concern," remarked Severus. "After all, you've nearly died quite a few times and that's about as bad as you can get. Where did you hit?"
Katherine rolled her eyes. "You sound like-" She broke off, acutely aware that she'd been about to reveal the existence of her cousin to the very man she was most in danger from. If Severus thought Faye's life was putting Katherine in danger he wouldn't hesitate to extinguish it and face the consequences later.
"Like who?" asked Severus lightly, though there was a note of steel in his soft words.
Katherine pulled a face, thinking fast. "Would you be dreadfully offended if I said Remus?"
Severus shook his head in despair and the tense atmosphere melted away immediately. "If you ever say that again to anyone I will hunt you down and use a hex considerably more potent than Ophelia's tickling curse."
Katherine laughed, stepping back inside the bathroom to get changed. "You know you love me really," she said slyly, as she made to shut the door. Severus arched an eyebrow and picked up his bag.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" he said mildly, black eyes devoid of emotion. Katherine looked bemusedly after him as he disappeared into his bedroom and closed the door behind him. Would I?
When Nicola Meliflua came home from work that evening it was to find Katherine asleep on the sofa and Severus cooking dinner in the kitchen.
"You're back," she observed, dumping a pile of folders on the kitchen table and smiling at the smell of hot spices from the saucepan Severus was stirring. "Good trip?"
"It was ok. Not much to write home about."
"Yes I did notice that," commented Nicki, shrugging off her travelling cloak and draping it across the back of her chair. "Have you talked to Kat?"
"Yeah, she fell asleep about half an hour ago," said Severus absently, turning the gas down and putting the lid on the saucepan. "Do you know what she was up to today? She refused to tell me."
Nicki looked vaguely surprised. "Up to? She usually goes out somewhere during the day but she's never very forthcoming with the details. Why? Is something wrong?"
"Not exactly – she just got hurt and I was wondering how it happened," said Severus, coming to sit opposite her. "You don't bleed that much from getting pushed against a wall – she must have hit something with considerable force to injure herself that badly and she was out like a light as soon as she lay down on the sofa. Her body must have had to go into healing overdrive to make her that tired."
Nicki frowned, gazing into Severus' troubled eyes. "You know it's probably best not to interfere. If she's keeping quiet there's bound to be a good reason for it."
Severus' frown deepened and he looked agitatedly at his hands. "If she's got herself into trouble again…"
"Severus, she's a fully grown woman. She can do what she likes," said Nicki gently, her dark brown eyes sympathetic but firm.
"Not if it means I'll lose her," said Severus roughly. "I'm not going through that again."
Nicki sighed, knowing exactly how he felt; she remembered all too well that fateful news report sixteen years ago. The journalist had put a rather jaunty spin on the article, as though he was glad she was dead, which he probably was. Nicki smiled grimly as she recalled the article that had appeared the following week reporting that he was now in Saint Mungo's recovering from a rather nasty set of curses that had been slung at him while he was shopping in Diagon Alley. Some people never learned…
"What are you grinning at?" asked Severus, arching a questioning eyebrow.
"Oh nothing," said Nicki, getting up to check on the food. "You can't protect her forever, Severus."
"I can try," he muttered, pushing dark black hair out of his eyes.
"You two are mad," sighed Nicki, taking the saucepan off the heat. "Both trying to save each other at the cost of your own sanity."
"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Severus, frowning at her.
"Well look at you. You snap at everyone regardless of whether or not they deserve it and refuse to let anyone close enough to hurt you and Katherine buries herself in work and tries her level best to replace you."
"Katherine doesn't have a job," objected Severus, leaning back in his chair and watching Nicki serve up dinner.
"Well she does something all day," said Nicki, shrugging. "Sometimes all night too. She might not get paid for it but she's definitely got some sort of project going on."
Severus sighed, summoning cutlery and glasses from the cabinet and setting them out on the table. "She was engaged to Black. Did you know that?"
"Yeah, she told me – well, let it slip," said Nicki, levitating the hot plates over to the table and grabbing a bottle of wine from the work top. "Like I said – she was trying to replace you."
"By getting engaged?"
Nicki shrugged again, uncorking the bottle. "Maybe she loved him, but not as much as she loves you."
Nicki stopped pouring and looked purposefully into Severus' dark green eyes. "Don't you think she would have brought him back by now if she'd really wanted him that much?"
Severus stared at her, confusion flooding his face. "What?"
"Sirius Black didn't die – he was stunned and fell through a veil," said Nicki brusquely. "Katherine was an Unmentionable, Severus – she may have been in charge of the Hall of Prophecy but that doesn't mean she doesn't know how to work that veil. If he meant more to her than you did he'd be out by now and d@mn the consequences." Nicki left this to sink in for a minute whilst she finished pouring the drinks, then looked up at her companion again. "You see, Severus. She did have a choice – she chose you."
"She might be waiting for her chance-" began Severus uncertainly, but Nicki cut him off.
"If it had been Remus who fell through that veil, do you honestly think the entire armies of Genghis Khan would have stopped her getting into the Ministry and hauling him back out again?"
Severus considered this for a moment and discovered that he couldn't truthfully say no. "She'd probably send them to sleep and walk right on past them," he muttered, frowning as the implications of this scenario hit him.
"Precisely," agreed Nicki, sipping her wine.
"But she's still angry at me," said Severus quietly.
"Oh yes," said Nicki, a little too heartily for Severus' liking; she could at least have made a half-hearted attempt to deny it. "But she'll get over it, uh, eventually."
"Who'll get over what?" asked Katherine, entering the kitchen and coming to sit beside Nicki, blinking tiredly.
"Severus was rude to some poor Bulgarian girl," grinned Nicki as Katherine summoned another glass and poured herself some wine.
Katherine smirked. "Severus is rude to everyone," she said, looking playfully over at him.
"Is that supposed to be an insult?"
Katherine smiled sleepily. "Would you be offended if it was?"
"Outraged," affirmed Severus, sighing heavily. "In fact I might just have to kill you."
Katherine laughed, glossy black hair falling across her face and obscuring her bright blue eyes. She tucked it behind her ear and grinned mischievously at her old friend. "Bring it on."
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: I'm back... And I wrote you all a lovely new chapter while I was away. Sorry - no Rem here, but I promise he'll be in the next one. Along with his friend. Got you thinking now, haven't I...?
Chapter 23 – Le Rose Noir
"I'm telling you it wasn't me," insisted Daemon Nott, half laughing, half exasperated.
"Well who was it then?" asked Nicki, her dark brown eyes glinting with puckish delight.
"I don't know – and no, that's not proof it was me!" said Daemon quickly, holding out a hand to stem Nicki's accusation. "Just because I didn't send it doesn't mean I know who did."
"What are you two talking about?" asked Katherine, leaning her head on Daemon's shoulder and gazing over at Nicki with distinctly glazed eyes.
"That singing cupid in sixth year," said Nicki, who wasn't half as drunk as her friend. "Remember the one? It started singing rude limericks in Potions and Professor Delphinus nearly burst a blood vessel when he heard it."
Katherine grinned impishly, dark hair falling across her face and contrasting starkly with her pale skin. "Yeah; we all thought it was hilarious – best prank he ever pulled."
"Who?" asked Nicki sharply, eyes alight with interest. Katherine smiled slyly and placed a carefully manicured finger to her lips. "Was it Black?" demanded Nicki, brow creased suspiciously.
"Black?" asked Severus, glancing up from his conversation with Robert and looking sharply at Katherine who gazed back blandly.
"Not Sirius," she murmured softly. "Don't give yourself a heart attack."
"Regulus?!" asked Nicki, staring at her friend. "That sly little- He swore blind he had nothing to do with it!"
Katherine propped herself upright, chuckling quietly. "Reg was very good at lying. He was very good at a lot of things, come to that. Smart enough to keep it to himself, too."
"Shame he wasn't smart enough to stay alive," remarked Daemon, leaning back into the leather sofa on which they sat. "He broke my sister's heart, dying like that."
Katherine frowned, expression sobering slightly. "Wasn't his fault."
Katherine turned her intense, almost angry gaze on him. "No. It wasn't. He didn't deserve it."
"No one deserves to have Bellatrix Lestrange as the last thing they see," murmured Severus idly, running a pale finger around the rim of his wine glass. Katherine fixed him with an odd look, one eyebrow half raised in a question, but was stopped from making a comment by the opening of the door. A woman in her thirties with a head of blonde hair that fell around her face in glossy ringlets entered, carrying an owl on her arm. Hazel eyes sought out Katherine, who was lounging back on the sofa now, looking preoccupied.
"This came for you," said the woman, flicking her wrist so that the owl fluttered down onto the table. Katherine frowned, leaning forward and detaching the small envelope from the owl's leg while Daemon smiled up at his sister.
"Everything all right out there?" he inquired genially.
"Fine – no Aurors yet, at any rate," she said, lips twitching into a smile. "I'm surprised you risked it – if they happened to raid this place they'd be able to knock at least two people off their Top Ten Most Wanted list." Katherine and Severus, the two people in question, exchanged smirks at this and Severus said lazily:
"We'd be long gone before they got through the door, isn't that right, Katherine?"
"Half way to Mexico," grinned Katherine, slitting the envelope open, having first examined the handwriting on the front. She pulled out the single piece of paper inside and frowned down at it.
"Who's it from?" asked Robert, eyeing the owl who, having been relieved of it's epistle, was preening itself on the table.
"I don't know," said Katherine, as Auriga Nott departed, closing and locking the door behind her. A locked door wouldn't be much of a hindrance to a squad of Aurors but it would at least buy her brother and his companions some time, should they be surprised.
"You don't know?" asked Severus, suddenly sounding concerned. "It's not signed?"
"It's not a letter," said Katherine, passing it over, brows creased in concern.
"What is it then?" asked Nicki, stirring her cocktail idly, though her brown eyes were open and attentive.
"It's an article from Le Bénéfice," said Katherine, her gaze seeking Robert's. "The journalist claims that there's a group within the Death Eaters who are trying to foil His plans from the inside."
"Is there?" asked Robert, raising his eyebrows and flicking his wand to open a window so that the owl, who was getting restless, could fly out.
"I don't know," said Katherine quietly. "I haven't been back long enough to find out."
"Why so worried, then?"
"Because they're calling the group Le Rose Noir," said Katherine darkly, making Robert start.
Cassandra frowned, shifting slightly in her husband's arms. "The Black Rose? What's so bad about that?"
"Could be coincidence," said Katherine quietly, ignoring the question and holding Robert's uneasy gaze.
"Not very likely though, is it?"
"It's more likely than them finding Reg's arcanus membrana," said Katherine, forehead creased in a steady frown.
"Much as I hate to interrupt, what are you two going on about?" asked Daemon, eyes flicking from one to the other and back again.
Robert sighed heavily as Cassandra twisted her head round and fixed clear emerald eyes on his face, her expression torn between reproof and anxiety.
"When we were in school, Katherine, Regulus and I had...well, a suppose the best word for it is a secret club but that hardly does it justice."
"And it makes it sound silly and juvenile, which it wasn't," added Katherine. "It was just that we were the only DE's at Hogwarts when we were in sixth year, so we stuck together, and when Regulus joined after his brother ran away from home, we took him under our wing as it were." Katherine shrugged, glancing at Severus who was regarding her with an inscrutable expression on his aristocratic face. "We enchanted some parchment so we could contact each other whenever we needed to – which was surprisingly often, especially if we needed help on missions or something."
"Or just wanted to talk," said Robert, in a subdued voice. "Anyway, seeing as Regulus was good at drawing he created a kind of header for the parchment – mainly so you could tell where you should start writing really – and he chose to do two roses with intertwined stems in black ink; can't remember why – something to do with you, probably," he finished, gesturing at Katherine. "I've still got mine somewhere, I think."
Katherine smiled grimly. "Every rose has thorns, I seem to recall it was," she said softly, blue eyes gleaming with a hint of remembered mischief. "I'm not entirely sure that wasn't a slight on the way we used to operate back then."
"How was that, then?" asked Severus, who had rarely been on a mission with Katherine at any time.
Katherine shrugged nonchalantly. "Damsel in distress; poor, sweet, defenceless little girl trapped by bad men – you'd be surprised what people will tell those who they believe to be in a similar situation to their own."
"Kind of like good cop, bad cop, only the good cop is an undercover agent," observed Daemon dryly. "Bit heartless, isn't it? You didn't even give them a fighting chance."
"Course we did – they were the ones who chose to divulge their secrets to a complete stranger," said Robert absently, mind still on the news article.
Daemon cocked an eyebrow at him. "And you'd be able to keep quiet when thrown in a room with a pretty girl who's upset?" This question made Severus frown, Katherine noticed, and she grinned to herself.
"Am I pretty, then?" she asked, smiling flirtatiously up at Daemon, eyes misted again, the little sobriety disappearing now that thoughts of Le Rose Noir were driven from her mind.
Daemon started, staring at her with something close to horror, acutely aware of Severus' gaze boring holes in the back of his head. "Uh, that's not what I meant…"
"So I'm not pretty?" asked Katherine, pouting and looking mournfully up at him out of wide, baby blue eyes.
"I…have a wife," he said, squirming under her earnest gaze.
"That's not an answer to her question," chided Nicki, suppressing a grin. Daemon scowled at her, casting a nervous glance at Severus who was looking thunderous, though his gaze was not directed at Daemon, but at the girl by his side. Katherine tossed her hair and stared insolently back at Severus, as though daring him to say something.
"Of course you're attractive, Katherine," said Cassandra at length, in an attempt to lighten the mood, the temperature of which had dropped a couple of degrees as a result of the icy looks her friends were exchanging. Katherine's eyes tore themselves away from Severus' black holes and she smiled vaguely at her friend.
"Thanks, but I think…" She paused, unsure of how to continue, then shrugged. "I think I've had rather too much to drink. I need some fresh air." She got up and moved unsteadily towards the back door, stepping outside into the mild autumn evening.
"And I think we oughtn't to let her go wandering about the streets in the state she's in," said Daemon, making to stand and follow her, but Severus was already at the door and through it before he could do so.
The remaining companions exchanged despairing looks and Daemon sat back down, seeming a little relieved.
"D'you think those two are ever going to sort themselves out?" asked Cassandra, gazing at her own rippled reflection in the glass of red she was holding.
"Not with Black's ghost hanging over them," said Robert darkly, thinking back to the diamond ring he'd seen on Katherine's hand and the expression that crossed her face every time the elder Black was mentioned. He picked up the newspaper clipping, chocolate brown eyes flicking uneasily over it. Who had sent it? If Katherine hadn't recognised the handwriting, then was it from friend or foe? A warning – 'be on your guard' – or a threat – 'watch your back, we're on to you'?
He glanced over at the discarded envelope that lay on the table – the writer was female, he was sure of that at least. But who did they know who got the French newspaper? The McKenzie's had been in France, hadn't they? But would they get the paper delivered still? He checked the date on the article and saw it was from yesterday's paper. It could have been Alexandra McKenzie, but why would she send it to Katherine? Why-?
He stopped, suddenly doubting his friend's sincerity. Yes, she was drunk and by nature curious, but she was also a fugitive and criminal and as such was aware of the risks of opening mail from unknown composers. Would she have opened the letter if she hadn't had some idea who it was from? Perhaps denying knowledge of the sender was borne not from ignorance, but from a wish to conceal an identity. That of her cousin's, maybe?
After all, Faye, the blonde woman with so striking a resemblance to his own companion, had to have attended school somewhere and from what he had gleaned from Katherine of the character of her Uncle, that school was unlikely to have been Durmstrang. Beauxbaton, on the other hand, was in France, and the article was from a French newspaper. Faye had seemed to care for her cousin, so sending her warning that the Dark Lord may be alerted to seeking out traitors, whether the rumour be substantial or not, did not seem improbable.
Robert did not think for a second that Faye knew of their 'club' and arcanus membranae, as Katherine termed it, but she did seem aware of her cousin's rebellious nature and would want to put her on her guard…
Robert blinked, suddenly aware he was being addressed. "What was that?"
"I asked if you were ok," said his wife, studying him with light green eyes. "You looked a million miles away."
"I'm fine," said Robert, putting on a smile for her sake. "Really – don't look so worried."
"Ah, here comes trouble," said Nicki, setting down her glass and giving Daemon a gentle push to shift him. Daemon frowned, but then the sound of raised voices reached his ears and he caught on to Nicki's meaning, moving swiftly across the room and ducking under a tapestry that led to a secret passageway out of the pub.
"…telling you, there's no need for this," came Auriga's gentle, almost amused voice from the hall beyond the door. Nicki waved her wand casually to remove a large majority of empty glasses and bottles from the room and took another sip of her foaming cocktail. Another flick unlocked the door just as the intruders reached it. The handle turned and the door swung open to admit three purposeful looking Aurors and a sighing Auriga Nott.
"Is something wrong?" inquired Cassandra, sitting up and gazing benignly at them.
The Aurors looked a little put out and one cast some sort of searching spells around the room, but it must have come up blank for he shrugged helplessly at his colleagues and murmured: "There's no one else here."
A brown haired man with smoky grey eyes and bushy eyebrows turned his gaze on Nicola who was regarding the three Aurors with an expression that clearly showed irritation whilst at the same time declaring that she was willing to be helpful provided they had a good reason for bursting in on her.
"Miss Meliflua," nodded the grey eyed Auror. "I didn't expect to see you here."
"Nor I, you," she remarked. "What are you doing here?"
"We received some intelligence that certain old acquaintance's of yours were to be found here tonight," replied the Auror, eyes darted around the room as though hoping to catch a hidden renegade sidling towards the door.
"Which acquaintance's would they be?" inquired Cassandra, gazing coolly at him.
"I think you know the ones," he replied, returning her gaze with equal disdain.
Nicola laughed, her dark eyes sparkling. "I'm afraid you're going to have to be a little more specific. If, as I take it, you are pursuing criminals, which I would judge likely after that impertinent entrance, then that probably narrows it down to about half the people we have ever known," she said easily, flashing him a dazzling smile.
The old Auror glared at her and the youngest figure stepped forward, saying: "We were informed that a Mr Snape and possibly a Miss Riddle were to be present here."
"Severus and Katherine?" asked Cassandra incredulously. "I haven't since him since the Summer before last and as for her – isn't she supposed to be dead?"
"It would appear not," growled the older Auror, eyeing her with great suspicion. "You haven't been in contact with either of them, then?"
"Certainly not," said Robert calmly. "One's a murderer, the other is no doubt insane and they're both Death Eaters. They're not exactly the top of our list of people to invite to a quiet lock in."
The grey eyed Auror did not look convinced by this speech, but one of his associates laid a hand on his shoulder and said softly: "There's no one else here – it must have been a bogus tip. Come on, there's no point in lingering any longer – we're needed back at HQ."
Grudgingly, the man turned and strode out of the door without another word. The last of the three, the one who had spoken to Nicki, bid them goodbye and apologised for interrupting their evening, before following in his comrades' wake. Auriga Nott, who had been standing by all the while, grinned at them, relief mingled with wicked amusement evident on her face and shut the door without a word.
Nicola and Cassandra exchanged similar looks and Robert cast a meditative look towards the back door, through which the subjects of the Aurors' raid had disappeared some quarter of an hour previously and wondered how they were getting on.
As a matter of fact, Severus was also wondering something along those lines himself. He'd followed Katherine out of the pub and across the road into the local park. It was empty and dark, the only light being that of the moon and the overspill from nearby houses. When his eyes adjusted to the dim light he saw her sitting on the ground near a expanse of dark water that he supposed must be a pond or lake of some sort.
She didn't look up as he approached, and when he stood beside her and saw her face, he realised she was crying. After hesitating for a moment, he sat down on the dry grass beside her, deliberating what to do. Angry Katherine he could deal with – happy, excited, evil Katherine was fine, but sad Katherine… Well, he'd never been very good with emotions.
They sat in silence for a long time; Katherine absorbed in her own thoughts whilst Severus' dwelt mostly on her.
"Sorry," she mumbled at last, making Severus look up from his reverie.
"For what?" he asked, looking vaguely surprised.
"For getting drunk. I do stupid things when I'm drunk," she answered, rubbing her eyes tiredly. "Such as telling the truth," she added, a touch sardonically.
"Or trying to poison certain arrogant prats?" asked Severus, wondering if she'd remember what he was talking about. Her fine eyebrows drew themselves together in a frown and she was quiet for a while.
"Evan?" she ventured at last. "Did I poison him?"
"Avery found you with arsenic in your hand the night of Fi's funeral," said Severus, gazing out over the lake. Katherine smiled absently and Severus chose to assume that it was the alcohol rather than her that found this amusing, though he wouldn't have been surprised if he was wrong.
"I don't remember that."
"Avery took it off you."
Severus turned and arched an eyebrow at her. "Arsenic isn't the most subtle of poisons, Katherine."
Katherine gazed at him ruefully and Severus could tell from her eyes she wasn't taking much of this in. "Why don't you call me Kat anymore?" she asked languidly, sounding almost accusing. "You haven't called me Kat since I came back."
"I've only seen you a few times," objected Severus, frowning at her with dark eyes. Why should she care about something as trivial as that? He hadn't even noticed his omission of the old nickname. Katherine made a face, as though to indicate that this wasn't a satisfactory excuse in her book, but she was willing to let it slide for the moment, and turned back to the lake.
"Why were you crying?" asked Severus at length, determined to rekindle conversation, even if it meant straying to a subject that he would prefer to forget about altogether.
"I was thinking about Sirius," answered Katherine, not noticing Severus' grimace as she wasn't looking at his face. "He was Remus' last ally."
Katherine raised her gaze from the dark water to look at her companion. "I missed you."
It took Severus a moment to realise that she'd changed the subject, and then another second to process what she'd said. "Missed me?" he repeated, not quite knowing what to say to this sudden confession.
"When you were in Bulgaria," elaborated Katherine. "I'm glad you're back."
"It's good to be back," shrugged Severus. Katherine smiled and leant her head on his shoulder, gazing absently into the darkness that lay before them. They sat in that way for a while, both in perfect silence before Severus noticed that Katherine's eyelids were drooping shut and insisted on taking her home to bed.
Katherine smiled in a way that made Severus slightly uneasy at this suggestion, but she stood up steadily enough and agreed to let him apparate them both back, lest she splinch herself. Severus pulled his wand out of his pocket and Katherine wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her head sleepily on his shoulder as he flicked it and transported them both back the relative safety of Nicola's house.
Katherine blinked in the glare of the lamps that illuminated the landing, but her eyes soon adjusted and she smiled happily. "Home."
"Yes," agreed Severus, steadying her with one hand, for she was swaying dangerously. "Home."
She smiled up at him again and ran her fingers lightly down the side of his face, then, to his surprise and utter bewilderment kissed him on the cheek. "Night," she whispered softly, leaving his slackened grip and entering her room, before collapsing on her bed and falling promptly asleep.
Outside on the landing, Severus Snape stared bemusedly at her closed bedroom door for a full five minutes before retiring to his own room, where, unlike Katherine, he lay awake till dawn, head filled with unanswered questions.
Feedback? Pretty please?
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Well I promised you Remus and friend(s), and here's the delivery.
Chapter 24 – An issue of trust
Stevenson Residence, 19 years previously
"Seriously mate, are you sure you know what you're doing?" asked James Potter, hazel eyes studying his best friend closely with a concerned expression. "I thought you were trying to leave all that behind."
Sirius shook his head, waving the hand that held a pint glass carelessly. "She's not like that – she wasn't brought up by purists, Prongs. She's…pretty normal."
Remus, who was sitting on the window sill behind them snorted into his glass at this remark and regarded Sirius with an amused expression. "How long have you been going out with her, Padfoot? Three years and you still think she's normal?"
"What? She is!" protested Sirius, looking bewildered as Remus shook his head in despair.
"She's also been eyeing up Eric Bateman for the past five minutes," chipped in Peter, joining them.
"What?" asked Sirius, whirling round, seeking out his girlfriend in the crowd of vague acquaintances. They were at Samantha Stevenson's wedding reception and the guest list mostly consisted of their old school mates, minus all Slytherins save for Katherine, who Sirius had insisted on bringing despite her protests that everyone would shun her. This hadn't in fact happened, but as Lily pointed out, this was most probably because everyone was too scared of what might befall them if they scorned her, rather than out of the goodness of their hearts.
Sirius spotted his nefarious girlfriend talking to Elliot North on the far side of the room and looking bored out of her mind. He frowned, wondering if Peter had been winding him up, but then he saw her eyes flicker over Elliot's shoulder in the direction of…yes, Eric Bateman. He scowled, and threaded his way over to her, ignoring Remus' chiding of Peter for being ridiculous.
"Everything all right, darling?" he asked, slipping an arm around Katherine's waist and frowning slightly at Elliot. Elliot backed off hurriedly, muttering some excuse or other and Katherine glanced up at him, bright blue eyes almost surprised.
"Fine – utterly bored, but fine. Is something up? You look like someone's scratched your motorbike."
"Hey – don't joke about that," said Sirius, treating her to his best puppy dog look. She laughed and kissed him by way of apology, then lent her head back on his shoulder and resumed her study of Eric. "But since you ask…" he said slowly.
"What?" she asked, tearing her gaze away and looking up into his reproving eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Aside from the fact that you're either incredible callous or deliberately trying to make me jealous?" he asked, looking hurt. Katherine's innocent gaze descended to confusion and she arched a questioning eyebrow at him. "Bateman," he said, contriving to put as much feeling into the one word as possible.
"Bateman…? Oh – oh, no, I wasn't-" she laughed, relaxing in his arms and stroking his hair absently with one hand. "I was just wondering what he was doing here."
"You know him?"
"Uh huh," she replied, casting another glance in his direction and this time Sirius could see the real feeling behind it – distrust.
"Dare I ask how?" he ventured, arms unconsciously clasping her waist a little tighter.
"Dad," she answered, twisting her head to look up at him. "Can't see anyone else thou-" She stopped, and Sirius followed her gaze. His eyes settled on a young boy of about twelve who was gazing calmly at Katherine with amber eyes. Something about the boy's face reminded Sirius of someone, but he couldn't quite place it at that moment.
"He's a bit young, isn't he?" asked Sirius, giving his mind time to try and make the connection.
"In training," muttered Katherine, twisting herself out of his arms and gliding through the crowd to meet the boy. Sirius leant against the wall, watching her talk quietly to him and he suddenly realised who the boy reminded him of – those hollow cheekbones and narrow eyes were Snape's.
"You two haven't had a fight, have you?" asked James, sauntering up to his friend and unfortunately not hiding the hope in his voice incredibly well. Sirius scowled at him, but he couldn't hold a grudge against James for anything and gave up the futile attempt to make his friend feel remorse for his relentless suspicion of his girlfriend. He sighed and shook his head.
"Bateman's a DE."
James started, staring at his friend. "Seriously?"
"Kat may be many things, but she's not a liar – not about things like that," said Sirius firmly, taking a swig of his beer.
"But he just went outside with Frank – said he had something to show him," said James, hazel eyes clearly showing his anxiety. Sirius opened his mouth to try and assuage his friend's fears, but Katherine reappeared at that moment, looking grim.
"Then I suggest you get after him," she said in a quiet voice, nodding in the direction of the door. "Otherwise Frank won't be around for very much longer…"
"Well she sounds absolutely mental," pronounced George Weasley, tossing down the paper and grinning at his brother. Fred shook his head, laughing and continued stacking the shelves of their shop.
Tonks frowned, drumming her fingertips on the counter. "It's not funny – she's dangerous. Just...look out for anyone suspicious, all right?"
"We've seen her picture, Tonks," said Fred, standing up and looking seriously at her. "We weren't planning on giving her guided tour of this place or anything."
"No," agreed George. "But you have to admit, her track record is pretty cool. I mean not many people would decide the easiest way to get rid of a dozen Aurors is to turn the floor they're standing on into a portkey."
"Who told you about that?" asked Tonks, her dark eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"Moody," said Fred, grinning again. "He really hates her, doesn't he?"
"It took him years to catch her," said Tonks grudgingly. "He's not all too keen on her being out again."
"Is it true they've let him back on the Auror squad?" asked George, opening the till and starting to count out the change for that day.
Tonks made a face; she didn't know how these two managed to find out all this stuff. "He's advising on the case," she admitted. "He's known her for a long time, so they thought it wise to consult him."
The twins exchanged a look, then Fred asked carefully: "Have they consulted Remus?"
Tonks looked sharply up at him. "What?"
"He knows her, doesn't he? They went to school together," put in George.
Tonks frowned but was saved from saying anything by a knock at the door. Fred peered round the shelves to see who it was, then hurried to open the door. He returned a moment later, Remus himself in tow.
"Remus, what are you doing here?" asked Tonks, beaming at him.
"I've got a message from Molly – she's cooking a large meal tonight and wants everyone there – you included, Tonks," answered Remus, smiling back at her.
"What's the occasion?" asked George, shutting the till and looking over it at Remus.
"Well Bill and Fleur came back from their honeymoon last week and now they've got settled in their flat your Mum wanted to welcome her into the family properly, I think," said Remus, shrugging. "And she said to tell you specifically not to pull any pranks, ok?"
"Well you can tell her we'll be there," nodded Fred, returning to his shelf stacking.
"But we can't give a guarantee on the no jokes ban," added George, grinning broadly.
Remus chuckled and Tonks slid off the chair she'd been sitting on. "Well I'd best get back to work – I'm meant to be giving out warnings and you two have kept me here for over half an hour," she said, pointing accusingly at the twins.
"You could have left," objected George, looking innocent. "You were just enthralled with our charming company."
Tonks laughed and shook her head despairingly, then left the shop with Remus. Fred glanced at George thoughtfully, holding a box of brightly coloured fireworks in his hands.
"Well it is supposed to be a celebration," he said quietly.
Godric's Hollow, 19 years previously
"Now James, be nice," said Lily Potter, looking severely at her husband.
"What?" asked James, face the picture of innocence. "I am nice."
"I think what she's trying to say, Prongs, is don't scowl at Katherine all evening like you did last time," said Remus lightly, as the doorbell rang.
"I did not scowl at her all evening," protested James as Lily went to answer the door. Remus raised an eyebrow, looking reprovingly at his friend. "Ok, maybe I frowned a little-"
"Prongs?" Sirius Black's familiar head appeared round the door and James broke off hurriedly.
"Hi," he grinned, then, after an encouraging look from Remus added, "How's Katherine?"
"Fine, but she couldn't come - had to work late," said Sirius carelessly, sauntering into the kitchen and pouring himself a drink. James brightened up considerably at this news and by the time Peter arrived he was back to his normal self.
The five of them spent an enjoyable evening together until the doorbell rang again at half ten. James answered it, but the grin on his face disappeared when he saw who it was.
"I thought you were working late," he frowned, leaning on the door frame.
Katherine arched an eyebrow. "I was. I work quick." She frowned for a moment then asked suddenly, "Is Meredith Tyler your cousin?"
James started, hazel eyes narrowing slightly. "Why?"
"'Cause she's in Saint Mungo's," said Katherine promptly. "Got attacked – don't worry, she's fine – it's just a cautionary procedure. They're keeping her in overnight for observation."
A flurry of emotions crossed James' face at this news and settled on confusion. "How do you know this?"
"Like I said," said Katherine quietly. "I was working."
"At the Mi-" James stopped at the look Katherine gave him and smiled sourly. "Not at the Ministry."
"But Meredith's all right?" asked James softly.
"Yes, hardly a scratch on her," reassured Katherine, her blue eyes sincere. "I just thought I should let you know."
"Who is it, Prongs?" asked Remus over his shoulder as he headed to the kitchen to fetch more drinks. James was about to answer when Katherine put a finger to her lips and shook her head, retreating into the shadows of the garden. James' hesitation in answering, however, caused Remus to stop and walk over to him. "Everything ok?"
"Yeah," said James quietly, shutting the door softly. "Fine."
"How are we going to get a note to Avery?" asked Ron, running a troubled hand through his already messy hair. "I mean, trying to make it look inconspicuous is just going to make it more so."
"Well how about if we just ask Remus to contact Katherine?" suggested Hermione, sighing heavily. "She did say he'd probably do it."
"And ask a lot of questions," put in Harry, shaking his head. "We don't ask Remus unless we really need to. We'll just have to send Avery the note."
"And you trust him?" asked Hermione, brown eyes sceptical.
"About as much as I trust Katherine," shrugged Harry, wiping his glasses on his shirt. "Probably less, actually."
"Precisely," said Hermione quickly. "Avery didn't seem that keen on us – at least we know Katherine won't betray us – she likes Remus too much to do anything to hurt him."
"But if we could send her an owl, she would have said," said Harry tiredly. "There's got to be a reason we can't and there'd be a lot of trouble if it got intercepted."
"Ron! Harry! Hermione! Dinner's ready!" Mrs Weasley's voice floated up to them, bringing an end to their conversation and summoning them downstairs. The table was set out in the garden and magically enlarged to fit everyone in. Tonks and Remus were there, along with Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt. Mrs Weasley went inside to get some more punch and came back two minutes later accompanied by Faye Belle.
"Someone to see you, Remus," said Mrs Weasley, setting the drink down on the table and nodding at Faye. Remus glanced up and smiled and a few people called hello to Faye. Harry however looked cautiously at Faye out of the corner of his eye. Remus had smiled when he saw Faye, true, but then he'd frowned. It was a momentary thing, only lasting a second but Harry had noticed it and it didn't seem consistent with the greeting of old friends.
"Are you staying?" asked Tonks, smiling up at Faye, who shook her head.
"Just dropping off some papers for Remus," she answered, pulling some folders out of the bag she had slung over her shoulder. Remus stood up to take them, looking slightly bemused to Harry. "Stuff on the Dark Arts," she added in a softer voice, though still smiling pleasantly. Harry wondered if he was imagining it, but there was something distinctly un-Fayish about that smile.
At that moment there was an explosion that made Ron spill his punch over the table and everyone stared towards the far end of the garden where three rockets had just zoomed into the air, leaving trails of sparks behind them. A second later another firework ignited, spinning round and round in a tight wheel of white fire.
Harry joined in the laughter with the rest of them, though his eyes were drawn once again to Faye. There was something not right about her, he was sure of that. His eyes fell to the wand that was tucked into the belt of her jeans and started. He hadn't seen Faye that much, but he was positive her wand had been made of some kind of light wood – beech or maple or something, but whatever it was, it wasn't as dark as the wand that was now rested on her hip. That was ebony or mahogany surely. What were the chances she'd changed her wand? Were they less than the chance that that person standing next to Remus wasn't her?
Above them the remainder of the fireworks exploded in a shower of sparks and a whining rocket spelt out something Harry couldn't understand in French.
"Welcome to the family, Fleur," read Faye, smiling slightly and then Remus did something that made Harry positive that whoever it was, it definitely wasn't Faye that had given Remus the papers – he turned sharply and whispered something urgently in her ear as Fleur squealed delightedly and hugged Fred and George.
"What's wrong?" asked Hermione quietly, as Fleur turned to hug Faye, who smiled brightly at her and said something in French.
"That's not Faye," answered Harry in a low voice. Ron looked up at him, startled.
"Then who-?" asked Hermione, but Ron nudged her and raised his eyebrows.
"Who'd you think," he said quietly, glancing towards her. "Who else knows Remus?"
"She wouldn't risk it..." began Hermione, darting a cautious glance at Moody. "Would she?"
"Remus did say she wasn't exactly an animagus," said Harry in a soft voice. "The only other thing I know that can change shape at will is a metamorphmagus."
They all looked over at Remus and 'Faye' again, trying to find something that would confirm their suspicions as Fleur laughed and returned to her seat next to Bill. Faye said something quietly to Remus who nodded.
"I'd better be off," she said in a slightly louder voice, though Harry still had to strain to hear it. "Lessons to plan and all that."
"Right, I'll see you some other time, then," agreed Remus. Faye smiled and cast an eye towards the smoking remains of the fireworks.
"Almost worthy of the Marauders, that."
Remus laughed and muttered something in the affirmative, not noticing Fred and George's heads whip round to stare at the two old friends.
"Marauders?" asked George, trying to sound nonchalant and failing.
Faye glanced at them, then at Remus, who was frowning.
"You know the Marauders?" asked Fred, eyes alight with interest.
"Oh dear, have I got you into trouble?" asked Faye, looking at Remus with bright emerald eyes and trying very hard to suppress a smirk. The twins frowned at this comment and Faye grinned wickedly at them. "Yes, I think I'd better go now." She smiled slyly at Remus who was still looking confused and hoisted her bag up onto her shoulder. "Bye Moony."
Fred and George's eyes very nearly popped out of their heads at this last remark and rounded on Remus who was half smiling now. "Ah, I always did wonder where Harry got the map from," he said quietly.
Faye grinned at him and walked towards the back door, intending to leave. Harry jumped up from his seat, muttering something about needing the toilet and followed her. He caught up with her by the front door.
Faye stopped, turning her head to look at him with narrowed eyes. "D@mn you're sharp."
"Can I talk to you?" he asked as she leant against the door, arms folded.
"You are, aren't you?"
"What about them?" asked Katherine, her eyes playful. "We haven't found anything yet if that's what you're wondering."
"No, I just wanted to tell you that two of them are already destroyed. And," he hesitated, then pressed on resolutely. "And there are seven of them. Probably." He shrugged and added, "That's what Dumbledore thought anyway."
Katherine tilted her head sideways, surveying him with interest. "What were the other two?"
"A diary and a ring. I destroyed the diary and Dumbledore did the ring," answered Harry in a subdued voice.
"A diary?" asked Katherine, arching an eyebrow. "Tom had a diary?"
"He used it to possess...someone. It made them open the Chamber of Secrets," said Harry, glancing up at her.
"And you found the Chamber?"
"You went in a girl's bathroom?" Harry stared at her and she smiled grimly. "You're not the only one who found it. You can speak parseltongue, then?"
"Yes," replied Harry quietly. "I didn't know the diary was a horcrux when I destroyed it."
"No, you were only eleven I seem to recall," she said, looking oddly at him.
"How do you know that?"
She smiled again and said mysteriously, "You're the stuff of legends, Potter. A friend told me – no, not Remus. A different friend. How did you kill it, anyway?"
Harry frowned at the term 'kill' but replied: "I stabbed it with a basilisk fang."
Katherine arched an eyebrow again. "And where was the basilisk at this point?"
"Who killed it?"
"No, with a sword," said Harry, frowning. "Why all the questions?"
"I'm intrigued," said Katherine, smiling languidly. "What about the ring?"
"It was Salazar's – I don't know how Dumbledore destroyed it," replied Harry, glancing back towards the garden. Someone was sure to come looking for him in a minute, though Ron and Hermione would hopefully stall them for as long as possible.
"Well in that case we're over half way there. Assuming the seventh part is in Tom, that leaves us two more to find."
Harry frowned at her, not quite agreeing with her arithmetic. "Three more," he said slowly.
Katherine smiled. "I forgot to tell you – I destroyed one too. A statue – when I was seventeen." She laughed, though Harry could detect little mirth in it. "I didn't know it was a horcrux either."
"What was the statue of?" asked Harry, not quiet sure he believed her, but her next words convinced him of the sincerity of her words.
Something of Ravenclaw's. That just left Hufflepuff's cup and Nagini...
"Dumbledore thought Nagini might be one," ventured Harry. "And he thinks Tom stole Hufflepuff's cup, too."
Katherine raised her eyebrows. "Nagini?"
"Dad has a snake?" asked Katherine, giving Harry an incredulous look. "Seriously? Well, I'll see if I can find her – it should be easy enough to do away with her, but we'd better leave that till last. I'm pretty sure Dad will notice if someone kills his pet – better aim for the cup first."
"You said you had an idea where to look?"
"I'm working on it."
"The locket was in a cave," offered Harry and Katherine smiled grimly.
"Ah, well that eliminates one place. I thought he might have hidden one there – it was the first time he really used his powers, I believe. Well I'll see what I can do. Something as powerful as a horcrux corrupts the things around it."
Harry frowned at this. "The locket didn't."
"No? Kreacher was always a spiteful little thing, but he wasn't mental," said Katherine quietly. "He wasn't normal Harry – that kind of madness doesn't stem from being alone for a couple of decades. I should know; the Death Eaters who escaped from Azkaban had the Dementors to deal with and even they're not as crazy as Kreacher was." She sighed heavily as the clock in the lounge struck nine. "I should go. I promise I'll owl as soon as something comes up. Goodbye Harry."
There will be some action soon, I promise. Just need one more chapter to set things up. In the meantime, Nana loves feedback.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: I was going to do homework, but I wrote you an update instead. Hope you like it.
Chapter 25 – Rebel or traitor?
Faye frowned at the knock on the door and opened it cautiously, starting at the sight of the man on the other side.
"Remus? You didn't tell me you were coming."
"I didn't know I would be," answered Remus, shifting a box of papers in his arms and smiling ruefully at her. "Special delivery from your delightful cousin."
Faye raised her eyebrows and stood back to let him in. "What is it?"
"Her papers," answered Remus, dropping the box on her desk and lifting the uppermost folder up for her to see. "Just in case any of her friends come snooping."
Faye took the folder and flicked through it, expression darkening as she did so. "Katherine did that?" she asked, clear green eyes gazing imploringly at him, and Remus wished he could say no, say Katherine had made it up to throw people off the scent, but he couldn't.
He didn't even have to look at the file to know that every word was the truth; that was the thing about Katherine – she saw no reason to lie in matters like this. There were many situations where little white lies could have saved some embarrassment or pain, but Katherine only thought long term, and if Faye getting a rude awaking to the real character of her cousin now was going to keep her safe from prying Death Eaters, then it was a price Katherine was willing to pay.
"Look, just put it in your cupboard somewhere – there's bound to be a secret panel or something," said Remus softly, not meeting her eye. "Don't leave them lying around – Katherine wouldn't and anyone who knows her knows that."
"So she did do it?" asked Faye, a despondent note in her voice. Remus sighed heavily, raking a hand through his thinning, sandy blond hair.
"What does it say?"
"She made an attack on Diagon Alley."
Remus shrugged. "Probably. There were lots of attacks in the last war – I wouldn't be surprised if she was in some of them."
"On the 22nd September?" asked Faye earnestly.
"The 22nd?" repeated Remus, wondering why the date seemed so familiar for a second, then realising. "That's today's date, isn't it?"
Faye stared at him for a moment, then looked back down at the paper to check the year. "Oh," she said quietly as Remus grabbed some Floo powder from the pot above the fireplace, muttered a quick goodbye and shot off to the Burrow.
Harry and Ron stood in the corner of the almost empty bookshop as Hermione browsed the shelves, looking for any books that might help them defend themselves from...well, everything. Death Eaters, horcruxes, Katherine & Robert.
Abruptly Hermione pulled one last book from the shelf and walked back over to Harry and Ron.
"Right, that's enough for now at least," she said, holding up the five heavy volumes and smiling tiredly. "Just got to pay for them and we can go home."
"Here, I'll help you carry them," put in Ron quickly, taking the top three books in his own hands. Harry grinned as he watched his two friends walk over to the counter and glanced at the clock on the wall above the shop assistant's head. 10:32am. At that moment, the door of the shop swung open and Lupin strode in looking, in Harry's opinion, rather worried.
He stepped forward to meet his father's old friend and ask him what was wrong but was prevented from doing so by the hand that was suddenly covering his mouth and the whisper of "Petrificus Totalus" that pinned down his arms. Harry looked down, having the use of his eyes left at least, and found to his surprise that he couldn't see the hand that gagged him. They're using a disillusionment charm, he realised vaguely, still struggling to free himself from the curse that bound him.
Outside the screams started and at that moment, Remus caught sight of him and hurried over. Harry felt the person behind shift and Harry knew that whoever it was, they were taking aim at Remus. Harry tried frantically to warn him, though since he only had control over his eyes and he wasn't touching his wand, this proved rather difficult.
Harry screwed his eyes shut, hoping that this would make Remus pause or figure out something was wrong. He didn't know what he'd do if he lost Remus too – he felt just as helpless as he had done on the tower last year, the night Dumbledore fell...
The sound of a falling body made his eyes snap open again but he only had time to catch a glimpse of a heap of black robes on the floor before the world promptly disappeared and reappeared again with disconcerting speed.
The person holding him relaxed their grip on his shoulder and sat him on the floor in a cold stone room, materialising as they did so. Harry stared up as the figure pulled back their hood to reveal glossy black hair and for a moment Harry thought everything was going to be all right.
Then he remember the woman had fired at Remus and his eyes met the dark ones behind the white mask – dark eyes, not blue. It wasn't Katherine; it wasn't even close. The woman removed her mask, laughing throatily and Harry looked up into the gaunt face of Bellatrix Lestrange.
The tangled heap of black clothes on the floor of Flourish and Blotts moved and a white mask was tossed aside as a slim figure got up, kneeling on the floor beside the man she'd been lying on top of.
"Rem, are you ok?"
Remus Lupin groaned in answer and rolled over, blood pouring from his nose. The other figure in the black hood waved her wand and the blood vanished immediately.
"If you think I'm going to say thanks you've got another thing coming," muttered Remus, looking gravely at her. The figure shrugged and looked at the spot where Harry had been standing moments before. "Where is he?" asked Remus suddenly, following her gaze. He looked quickly at Ron and Hermione who were looking shocked.
"He just disappeared," said Ron quietly. "He froze, then disappeared. Where'd he go?"
Remus turned back to look at the black robed figure who was scanning the faces peering at her from under the dark hood that concealed her face. She caught Remus looking at her and he could tell her expression from the tone of her voice when she spoke.
"How the bloody hell should I know? I was more concerned with the fact that she'd just shot AK at you."
Remus glanced at the bookcase behind her and saw the smoke rising from the still smoldering scorch mark the spell had left.
"Who is she?" he asked, more calmly than he felt.
The figure was silent, though Remus could see her fingers fidgeting in her pockets – no, not fidgeting-
"What are you doing?" he asked sharply and when she still didn't answer he raised a hand to grab her shoulders. She shied away at his touch and a few seconds later her fingers stopped moving. "What have you done?" asked Remus in a tired voice.
"Covered my tracks," she answered, the smile evident in her voice. Remus glanced around and saw that the few other customers in the bookshop all wore vaguely glazed expressions. To his surprise however, Ron and Hermione did not. He grabbed his friend's arm and gestured to Ron and Hermione. "Back to the Burrow – now. Are their anti-apparation wards up?" This last question was aimed at the woman by his side.
"Meant to be."
"But are they?"
"Good, because you are coming with me."
Molly Weasley looked up at the sound of two people tumbling into the living room and poked her head around the kitchen door to see her two sons brushing soot off themselves.
"Fred? George? What's wrong?"
"Attack on Diagon Alley," answered Fred, scowling darkly as two more people materialised in the middle of the room. Molly stared at Ron and Hermione, taking in their pale faces, then glanced up the stairs. She'd been wondering why it was so quiet.
"Please tell me you weren't in Diagon Alley," she said quietly. "Not on your own."
"We were only going to be ten minutes, Mum," said Ron in a small voice. "We knew no one would let us go by ourselves-"
"Hang on, who's we?" asked Molly, anger turning to worry. If Ron & Hermione had gone, she very much doubted Harry would have been content to stay behind. The two friends were saved from answering, however by the sudden appearance of Remus a struggling figure in heavy black robes.
"- the hell off me!"
Remus glanced at Molly, smiling tightly and increasing his grip on the hooded figure. "Don't worry, Molly. Everything is under control."
"Everything is bloody well not under control," snarled the hooded figure, but Remus just pulled open the nearest door, which happened to lead to what served as the Weasley's study/library/general junk room, dragged the figure in and shut the door firmly behind them. A second later, they heard the lock click and a voice say sarcastically:
"Yeah, that's going to stop me leaving."
Remus said something quietly in return and the woman laughed bitterly. Mrs Weasley stared at the locked door for a moment, then turned to her son.
Ron rubbed the back of his neck, looking extremely uncomfortable and said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. "We don't know."
"You left him?"
"No!" said Ron quickly. "He disappeared."
"We think someone took him," added Hermione, eyes brimming with tears.
"And who is Remus yelling at?" asked George, glancing towards the door from which Remus' angry tones could be clearly held. Hermione shrugged hopelessly.
"Haven't seen their face," put in Ron, sinking into a chair and trying very hard to stop himself from shaking. Hermione perched on the arm of the chair next to him, tears now trickling silently down her cheeks. The unseen voices filled the room again with renewed anger.
"Don't you dare blame me, Remus Lupin. How the hell was I supposed to know he'd be there? I'm not his personal bodyguard and he's seventeen, he can look after himself!"
"You could have stopped her!"
"Not without getting myself killed!"
"You saved me!"
"You aren't important! If I rescued him Dad would kill me!"
"And that would be bad, would it?"
In the silence that followed this exchange Fred looked quizzically at Ron & Hermione.
"That's a Death Eater he's got in there with him, isn't it?" he asked eventually, in a comparatively level voice. Hermione gave a weak shrug and Ron made a small noise of confirmation. "And he's talking to her like that?"
The fireplace flared green suddenly and Tonks stumbled out her face grave, her Auror's robes torn in places.
"Is everyone all right?" she asked breathlessly, casting a quick look round. "Where's Remus? And Harry."
"Remus is fine," said Molly, her voice trembling slightly. "He's in there," she added, gesturing towards the door behind which Remus and his companion were continuing their sudden silence. "Harry-" She stopped, voice breaking into sobs.
"What?" asked Tonks, dark eyes wide and alert. "What's happened to him?"
"He got taken," said Ron quietly.
"Taken?" repeated Tonks. "Have you told the Ministry?"
"Only just got back," filled in George. "We got distracted."
"By what?" asked Tonks incredulously, staring at him as he was mad. On cue, a sudden thump and a loud curse issued from the adjoining room and Remus' voice said dryly:
"Well that was smart, wasn't it?"
Tonks frowned and asked quietly: "Who was that?"
Remus shut the door and Katherine finally tugged her arm out of his grip, rubbing her wrist pointedly. Remus ignored her and locked the door with a flick of his wand.
"Yeah, that's going to stop me leaving," remarked Katherine sarcastically, arching an eyebrow at him.
"No, I am. You won't leave, Katherine, because if you do I will not talk to you again," said Remus calmly, turning to face her.
Katherine laughed sourly, and sat on the edge of a desk, shaking back her hood. "That wouldn't be a smart move."
"I think we both know you'd suffer more than I would from it," he replied, brown eyes deadly serious.
"I survived before," she argued, gazing insolently back at him.
"And you're sane now, are you?" he asked, meeting her gaze easily. She didn't answer, choosing to look around the room instead. "Where's Harry?"
"I don't know. It was just an attack on Diagon Alley – we didn't have orders to take anyone prisoner," she said carelessly. "It was an opportunist kidnapping."
"And you didn't think to intervene?" asked Remus, voice edged with anger. Katherine's gaze snapped back to him, her expression altering in a second.
"Intervene?" she asked in a dangerously quiet voice.
"Yes, intervene – you could have stunned the person you seem to know was holding him," answered Remus sharply, his anger at his old friend breaking through his calm demeanor. Why had she let Harry be taken? She knew he was vital to the ultimate destruction of Voldemort – she'd said herself she knew the prophecy.
"Don't you dare blame me, Remus Lupin. How the hell was I supposed to know he'd be there? I'm not his personal bodyguard and he's seventeen, he can look after himself!" snapped Katherine, scowling at him.
"You could have stopped her!" retorted Remus.
"Not without getting myself killed!"
"You saved me!"
"You aren't important!" said Katherine dismissively, knowing it was harsh but that it was also true. Why should Tom care if a werewolf managed to escape death? He couldn't care less who his daughter spent her time with, but if she stopped Bella taking Potter to him he would know she was up to something. "If I rescued him Dad would kill me!"
"And that would be bad, would it?" snapped Remus, regretting his words immediately. The look on her face brought back a conversation they'd had in seventh year when she'd told him what her greatest fear was. "Sometimes I think I should just grab Tom and find a very high cliff to jump off. It'd save a lot of lives."
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I didn't mean it."
Remus hung his head, rubbing his face tiredly. He couldn't remember the last time he'd argued like this with Katherine – not for years, certainly.
"It's just, Harry's important – and he's James' son. If anything happened to him I don't know what I'd do," he sighed, feeling drained suddenly. This wasn't how things were supposed to be – none of it. James and Sirius were supposed to be alive – this war wasn't supposed to be happening...
"He'll be ok," said Katherine quietly, surprising Remus.
"And you know that for sure, do you?"
"No, but I know her. She won't take him straight to Tom."
"And how's he going to get out?" asked Remus, raising an eyebrow.
"He's bright. He'll find a way," shrugged Katherine. Remus took a long look at her then said shrewdly:
"Sirius was his godfather, you know." Katherine looked up, clear blue eyes studying him suspiciously, but didn't say anything. "If things had been different, if Peter had been discovered and you hadn't gone to Azkaban, Harry would have gone to you two."
Katherine stared at him, trying to decide whether or not to laugh. "Dumbledore wouldn't have allowed that."
"James wanted Sirius to raise his son if anything happened to him and Sirius would have fought tooth and nail to ensure his wishes were granted," said Remus gently. "I don't think even Dumbledore could have persuaded him otherwise." He smiled slightly. "He never did persuade him to ditch you, and it wasn't through lack of trying."
Katherine gazed cynically at him from under jet black lashes. "Could you seriously imagine me raising James' son?"
Remus tilted his head to one side, surveying her interestedly. "Oh I don't know, you too were being almost civil to each other near the end."
Katherine smiled sourly and slid off the desk, walking around the room and finally stopping next to Remus, leaning her head against the wall, eyes closed. "I hate you sometimes, you know. You're so d*mn...right." She scowled, thumping the wall with her fist and cursing colourfully.
"Well that was smart, wasn't it?"
"Shut up," she growled. "It made me feel better."
A knock on the door to their room made both of them start and a soft voice called anxiously: "Remus? Are you ok?"
Feedback would be lovely and make up for the disapproving looks I'm going to get tomorrow when I neglect to hand in that homework...
Last edited by Purple Banana; September 15th, 2006 at 5:03 pm.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Hmm, I think my posting has been erratic of late, to say the least. Well, I felt like writing, so you get another chapter only a couple of days after the last one. And I still haven't done my homework. I'll do it today. Promise…
Disclaimer: The book extracts in this chapter are from Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell and I do not own them in any way, shape or form. Well, I have a copy of the book, but I certainly didn't write it.
Chapter 26 – The female of the species
"Good day, Potter." She said it cordially, but there was a mad glint in those eyes that made her seem not quite human and gave an unpleasant edge to the words. Harry said nothing; not that he could, even if he'd wanted to – the Petrificus Totalus hex was still very much in place. Bellatrix laughed again and got her to her feet. "Don't go anywhere," she said softly. "I'll be back soon."
Harry watched angrily as she turned and opened a heavy metal door. Beyond it, Harry could just see the grey stone walls of a long corridor before Bella shut the door firmly behind her. Harry resigned himself to the fact that he couldn't do anything in the state he was in at the moment and decided to see if there was any ways out of the room aside from the door which he could take if he ever did manage to get free.
A quick survey of the room destroyed this illusion, however. It was perfectly clear that there was no way out of this room, except for the door, especially without a wand. Harry frowned inwardly at this last thought. Without a wand? But had Bellatrix actually taken his wand?
He tried to think, but couldn't remember her snatching it from him. If that was the case, it should still be in his pocket… He concentrated and was sure he could feel it there through the material in his jeans; a slight pressure against his right thigh.
Suddenly he was aware of muffled footsteps in the corridor and then the door swung open admitting, not Bellatrix, but a younger woman with flaming red hair and dark brown eyes. She smiled delightedly and pulled out her own wand, casting some sort of spell. A moment later her eyes darted towards his right pocket and a quick Accio charm relieved him of his wand. So much for that idea.
The woman chuckled softly at his glare and at that moment Harry Bellatrix's voice came floating down the corridor:
"…very amusing, Iscariot."
The woman glanced around and Harry heard Bella greet her. "Find anything?"
"Yes, you forgot to take his wand." Harry thought he saw a flicker of annoyance cross Bella's face, but it only lasted a second.
"Well it's not as though he could have used it," she shrugged, crouching down to Harry's level and smiling manically. "Could you, Potter? Ickle baby Potter – all alone and helpless. How does it feel knowing you've lost?"
Harry glared at her, hatred radiating off him. This woman had killed Sirius, maybe killed Remus – no, he wouldn't think like that. Remus would be ok – he'd have ducked, wouldn't he? Wouldn't he? But then what had the crash on the floor been?
Bellatrix seemed to read his thoughts – and, Harry realised a moment later, that's exactly what she had done. He never had been very good at Occlumency.
"Yes, Potter, your precious wolf is dead," smirked Bellatrix. "The Order's pet is no more."
Harry wanted to lash out then, he felt he'd give just about anything to get his hands round Bella's throat and wipe that stupid smirk off her face once and for all. A new, male voice intruded on his thoughts and the words he said distracted him sufficiently that he actually listened instead of trying to think up new ways of killing the woman in front of him.
"You killed Lupin? D*mn, Bella. Riddle's going to murder you."
Bella arched an eyebrow, her gaze still fixed on Harry.
"You think so? She didn't even touch me when I killed my dear sweet cousin."
"Black?" asked the red haired woman. "Why would she care about him?"
"They were going out," said Bella, standing once more.
The man, who Harry could see now that Bella had moved, laughed. "Oh come off it, Bella. I know Riddle's not exactly the most conventional person in the world, but she wouldn't touch Black with a barge pole – he was a blood traitor. Her father would kill her."
"He never found out," shrugged Bella.
"She wouldn't risk it," repeated the man. He had the same red hair and brown eyes as the other woman – Harry guessed he was her brother.
"I would," said the red haired woman in a husky voice.
"Don't be stupid, Allie," scoffed the man. "Why on earth-?"
"He was gorgeous," said Allie, giving her brother a sly look. "Nicola was with him at one point. I wouldn't be surprised it Katherine decided to hook up with him for a bit of fun. From what I've heard she likes to live dangerously. Besides – she was friends with Lupin, and him & Black were best friends, weren't they? She would have had seen him a lot."
At this last remark, Harry's eye snapped up towards the red haired woman. Friends with Lupin? Regulus Black wasn't friends with Lupin… And that could only mean one thing: they were talking about Sirius.
"Who was that?"
"We're not entirely sure," answered George, gazing towards the door. Tonks moved forward and rapped on the rough wood.
"Remus? Are you ok?"
There was slight scuffle and a pause, then Remus' voice called back. "Fine, Tonks, I'm fine."
"Hurt my friend and I'll kill you," added a second voice cheerfully. Tonks raised her eyebrows.
"Who was that, Remus?"
"No one," said Remus firmly. "Everything is fine."
"That's the third time you've said that," muttered the second voice, just loud enough for both Remus & Tonks to hear.
"Shut up, feles."
"Remus are you sure you're-"
The sound of the lock clicking cut her off and the door opened far enough for Remus to stick his head out. His grayish hair was slightly ruffled but aside from that he didn't look hurt.
"Someone needs to tell the authorities that Harry has been kidnapped," he said gently. Tonks nodded, her eyes scanning his face anxiously.
"Do you know who by?"
Remus withdrew his head, apparently to look at the room's other occupant, but when he stuck his head out again, it had a disappointed expression. "No. Sorry. It was a woman, though."
"Not the one you've got in there?" probed Tonks gently.
"That's rude. You don't even know me," chided said woman.
"I would if you came out," replied Tonks sourly.
"Rem won't let me," answered the voice again, adding, "You probably wouldn't want to know anyway."
"Who is she, Remus?" asked Tonks, gazing at him with large dark eyes.
"Someone who can help," answered Remus sincerely. Tonks bit her lip, but then nodded.
"I'll go back to HQ and alert the Aurors. Be careful, Remus." She kissed him lightly on the cheek and disapparated. Remus shut the door quickly, mostly to avoid the curious glances from the living room's occupants and turned back to look at Katherine.
"You're not going to tell me who took him, then?" he asked, sighing tiredly. Katherine looked almost confused for a moment, then shook her head.
"Can't," she said shortly, leaning against the wall and looking down at her shoes with a preoccupied air. Remus frowned, studying her carefully.
"Are you ok?" he asked softly, casting Imperturbable Charm on the door. He didn't want anyone listening in on this conversation. Katherine glanced up at him, scuffing her shoes idly on the wooden floorboards.
"Aside from being locked in a room by a man who is supposed to be my best friend, you mean?"
"You would have been difficult," said Remus, smiling gently at her.
"I didn't have the chance," objected Katherine, trying not to grin at her friend's expression. She sighed, running a hand through her dark hair and glanced ruefully up at Remus. "Why did you tell them everything was fine?"
"Because it was – will be, at any rate," answered Remus, perching on the edge of the desk and gazing solemnly at her.
"If Dad gets to Harry he will kill him."
"Then stop him."
"How am I supposed to do that?" asked Katherine exasperatedly, her eyebrows creased in a frown.
"You'll think of something," shrugged Remus. "You always do." Katherine smiled, tilting her head to one side and regarding him thoughtfully.
"That's a hell of a feat to ask of someone."
Remus raised an eyebrow smiling back at his friend. "Well then it's just as well I have a hell of a lot of faith in you, isn't it?"
Harry would have shouted at them that they were lying if he'd been able to – he wouldn't believe it – he couldn't believe it.
But somehow, he did. Sitting on a cold stone floor unable to do anything but think, he saw that the clues had been there all along, he'd just never put them together. That incident with the black haired man on the roof of Remus' block of flats. Katherine'd been talking about Remus and he'd asked whether Black wasn't too much of a good boy for her and she'd said something about him having style and abruptly changed the subject. Harry had always assumed she'd been talking about Regulus, a theory that had been endorsed by the fact she had a key to Grimmauld Place and it had been Regulus who told her about the horcruxes, but now he saw he was wrong. She'd obviously been good friends with Regulus, but it was his brother she'd been interested in.
Now that he thought about it, her expression when he'd confronted her with the picture of her & Regulus, the way she'd been quick to point out they'd both been drunk were the biggest indicators of that. Anyone seeing that would see clearly that she'd never liked him in any more than a platonic way. Sirius on the other hand…
Harry thought back to the photograph he'd picked up which Katherine said was taken at the end of seventh year. She'd been between Remus & Sirius and even though she'd had her head on Remus' shoulder, it had been Sirius' lap she was sitting on and Sirius' arms that had been wrapped around her waist.
Head spinning, Harry tried to concentrate on what Bellatrix and her companions were talking about. He pushed all the questions he had to the back of his mind, trying very hard not to wonder why Sirius had never mentioned her and why on earth he'd gone out with her in the first place.
"…don't you just take him straight to him?" the red haired man was asking.
"Because I don't know where he is," explained Bellatrix, as though talking to a very small child.
"I thought you were supposed to be one of his most favoured?" pointed out the man. "You can't be that close to him if he doesn't even trust you enough to tell you where he is."
Harry could almost see the look on Bellatrix's face, even though she had her back to him. "I've got someone out looking asking around for him," she said through gritted teeth.
"Who?" asked the girl called Allie.
"Can't you guess?" said the man, in what Harry thought was a rather amused voice – the man seemed determined to wind Bella up. "Who's the one person that it would really gall Riddle to have as Bella's ally?"
The woman thought about this for a second and her answer, when she gave it, made Harry's blood boil and threw his thoughts into turmoil.
Julian Lloyd pushed open the door to Brandon Manor and noticed with a smile that the lanterns were lit. So someone was here, at least. The smile left his face, however, when he saw who that person was.
"Morning, Ju. Rather brave of you to be here, isn't it? Or is it stupid?"
Julian sighed, closing the door and walking to the foot of the stairs Katherine was sitting on.
"Is the Master here?"
Katherine gazed meditatively at him, twirling the pen she was holding absently. "Upstairs. Why?"
"I have something to tell him," answered Julian, frowning at her. She was trying to use Legilimens on him and if he didn't find an excuse to get past her soon, she was going to succeed.
"What is it? I've already given him the status report from Diagon Alley. Fourteen dead, one DE injured. What else is there to tell?"
"Who got injured?" asked Julian, trying to use idle curiosity to bypass her questions. He didn't recall anyone getting hurt.
"Bella," answered Katherine calmly.
"No she-" began Julian but Katherine cut across, softly but with the force of a tidal wave.
"She will be."
"And I thought you were putting on a front when you said you weren't going to hurt Potter," said Julian, sneering slightly.
Katherine arched an eyebrow, doing superiority so much better than him.
"Potter? What's Potter got to do with anything? Bella tried to kill Remus – I'm going to use Jack Horner on her." She said it in a matter of fact voice, as though she was commenting on the weather and it made Julian's blood run cold; the look in her eyes alone would make a Hungarian Horntail flee for its life. "Do you know where she is?"
"No," said Julian and Katherine grinned dangerously.
"Liar," she said softly, almost playfully, but there was a look of triumphant in those startlingly blue eyes that told Julian he hadn't been quick enough. The slight flicker in his eyes when he'd lied had been enough of a crack in concentration for Katherine to get through; Bella was going to kill him. Of course, she might very well not get the chance if Katherine got to her.
Katherine stood up, and folded the newspaper she'd been reading. Not the Daily Prophet, Julian noticed absently. Not a wizarding newspaper at all, in fact. The pictures weren't moving and Julian could see the headline was about something called global warming, whatever that was. Probably some new muggle idea thought up by some crackpot who wanted to put the scarf industry out of business. Bloody stupid idea in his opinion – if the world got warmer all the icecaps would melt, wouldn't they? And all the low lying areas would flood – although on the bright side, that would wipe out a considerable amount of muggles. Somehow he didn't think the idea would catch on.
Julian caught Katherine's eye as she stood up and pocketed her pen. He wondered why she was reading the paper – it was clearly full of rubbish. She grinned at him, shrinking the paper so it fitted easily into her back pocket.
"The crossword's better," she said pleasantly, and descended the stairs, walking past him and out into the street.
Severus Snape sat on the white leather sofa in Nicola's living room, reading a book he'd found in the bookcase. Well, perhaps reading wasn't quite the right word; he'd been looking at the same paragraph for over half hour now and he still had no one idea what it was about. He tried again, concentrating this time.
"…Shall I tell you why we have brought you here? To cure you! To make you sane! Will you understand, Winston, that no one leaves our hands uncured? We are not interested in those stupid crimes that you have committed. The Party is not interesting in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them…"
Severus sighed and put the book down, rubbing his face with his hand. It was no use, he just wasn't in the right mood to read. Besides, the speaker in the book was sounding far too much like Katherine for his liking and she was the very person he was trying not to think about.
He thought about that last sentence again, and decided the character was probably Katherine in another life. Katherine changed everyone – friends and enemies alike. She'd changed him certainly, though Severus wasn't quite sure which he was to her anymore. Not quite a friend, but not quite an enemy either.
The sound of the door opening brought him out of his reverie and a moment later Nicola entered the room, tossing her cloak over a chair and smiling at him.
"Hey – you all right? I was going to make chicken salad for lunch – want any?" Severus shook his head, his eyes falling once more to the discarded book. Nicola followed his gaze and frowned. "Good book?" she asked, coming to sit beside him.
"I thought it was yours," answered Severus, glancing up at her.
"Nope, not mine. I don't go in for George Orwell much," she said carelessly, leaning back into the soft leather and closing her eyes. "Must be Kat's. Doomed cynicism is more her area of expertise than mine."
"Our world isn't as bad as that," said Severus quietly, eyeing the book thoughtfully. "Not yet."
Nicola opened one large brown eye and gazed seriously at him. "Maybe that's why she likes it."
Severus nodded vaguely and steeled himself to ask the question he was dreading.
"Have you seen her?"
"Katherine? Not since breakfast, no. Been a busy morning – Death Eater attack on Diagon Alley. Rumour is Potter got snatched," answered Nicola, shifting in her seat, trying to get comfortable.
"She hasn't been caught?" asked Severus, a little too quickly to go unnoticed. Nicola opened both eyes and gave him a long look.
"No one's been caught. Is that why you're so edgy?" she asked, propping herself up and gazing at him. "You've really got it bad, haven't you?"
"I don't know what you mean," said Severus testily, picking up the book again, intending to resume the pretence of reading, but Nicola snatched it away, raising one fine eyebrow in reprehension. Severus tried to outstare her but knew he wasn't going to win. He sighed, dragging a hand through his black hair that still hadn't grown back properly. "The attack was at half ten and I haven't seen her since. I just thought she would've come home by now."
Nicola glanced at the clock; it was one o'clock in the afternoon.
"She's a big girl," she said carefully, setting the book down on the table. "She can look after herself. She's probably just gone for a walk or to see Lupin, or something. Nothing to worry about."
Severus half smiled at this, though it was tinged with bitterness.
"I don't think it's possible to honestly say that there a single moment of the day when Katherine isn't doing something that we should worry about."
Nicola laughed, standing up and heading towards the kitchen.
"You're probably right," she called over her shoulder. "Knowing her she's probably sitting in a library somewhere, plotting the ultimate downfall of her father. The way she's been acting recently, I think she's mad enough to think it's possible."
Severus smiled absently, reaching for the book once more. Nicola was right – Katherine was probably perfectly safe – she'd turn up later, completely oblivious to the heartache she was causing and chastise him for not washing his hair. He flicked through the book, trying to find his page and his eye fell on a sentence, standing out on a single line in bold italics.
Thoughtcrime does not entail death: Thoughtcrime IS death.
He frowned and stared the line for a moment, thinking of Nicola's words. He knew she'd been joking but he couldn't help thinking she might have inadvertently hit upon the truth. And if Katherine was trying to bring down her father, she was in for a lot of trouble. The Dark Lord did not take kindly to would-be assassins – Regulus was proof enough of that. Katherine wouldn't be that stupid, would she? But then she had got engaged to Sirius and Gryffindors didn't call it stupidity, did they?
Severus shook his head, dismissing the idea as ridiculous and resuming the search for his place in the book. Besides, she had no chance of defeating the Dark Lord – only Potter could do that – the Prophecy had been very explicit on that account. Severus froze in the act of turning a page, the penny dropping at last with a resounding clunk.
Katherine knew the Prophecy.
Why hadn't he realised that before? The reason she'd never asked him about it when he'd let it slip was because she knew it already. Nicola had told him only a few days ago that Katherine had been a Unspeakable, and not just any Unspeakable, either – she'd been Head of the Hall Prophecy.
Mentally cursing himself for not making the connection sooner he tossed the book back down and went into the kitchen where Nicola was washing leaves for the salad. He was sure she'd said something earlier, but he'd been too concerned with Katherine's whereabouts to pay attention properly.
"Did you say Potter had been taken?" he asked, voice tense. Nicola glanced over at him, looking surprised.
"You didn't seem to care," she said, turning off the tap and dropping the wet leaves into a bowl.
"So he has?"
"Tonks seemed to think so," she shrugged. "She came in a while after the others and said his friends had seen him disappear. They're guessing someone grabbed him under a Disillusionment charm. Why do you ask? I thought you hated the kid."
"I do," said Severus gravely.
Severus looked at the clock that hung above the sink. Two and half hours and Katherine still wasn't home. His eyes fell till they met Nicola's concerned gaze and he shrugged hopelessly.
"But Katherine's crazy."
Hmm, I think I covered everything... You like? You want to give feedback?
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: This story is making me so behind with my school work. Do I care? No, not really. Writing's far more fun and I do get the work done...just at 11pm, rather than a normal of the day. Hope you like.
Chapter 27 – The Switching Hour
Harry looked up at the sound of the door opening. A man with glossy black hair stood there, calling something over his shoulder to some unseen companion.
"...check him for every kind of weapon, did you? And I don't think the Master would be best pleased if he were to get here and Potter knifes him."
The man turned and gazed at Harry with hawk-like amber eyes; it was the man from the rooftop. The door shut behind him with a firm clunk and he smiled, pulling a vial out of his pocket. Harry would have frowned if it had been at all possible, but as it wasn't, he had to content himself with trying to remember what the man's name was.
The door was pushed open again and Harry saw the man slip the vial back into his pocket and arch an eyebrow at the red haired woman who was peering around it at him.
"Bella wants to know when the Master is getting here," supplied the woman, gazing coolly at him.
"As soon as we're sure it's him," said the man – Katherine had called him Julian, Harry remembered.
"What do you mean? Of course it's him," said the woman, looking distinctly ruffled at this slight.
"One hundred percent sure?" asked Julian, quirking a eyebrow. "So sure you'd bet your life on it, because that's what you'll be doing. The Dark Lord doesn't appreciate being tricked. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an interrogation to conduct."
The woman scowled at him but left, all but slamming the door behind her. Harry had the distinct feeling she was going straight to Bella to report Julian's words. Julian apparently felt exactly the same way because he pulled the vial out of his pocket again and crossed the room, kneeling on the floor in front of Harry.
A quickly muttered spell released Harry from the constraint of Bella's hex and a second later, the vial was tipped down his throat. Harry was about to spit it back out again and make a run for it, but Julian darted out a hand and held his nose. In his struggle to inhale, Harry swallowed the liquid and Julian smiled, letting go of him immediately and leaving him to squirm, choking on the floor.
When Harry had got his breath back he looked up at Julian, ready to do what he had to get his wand and run, but something about the man's expression made him hesitate. He was looking critically at Harry with sharp blue eyes, almost as though measuring him up for something.
"What?" asked Harry uneasily, moving himself into a sitting position. The potion Julian had forced down his throat tasted disgusting and he wasn't feeling all that great. To his surprise, Julian grinned wickedly in a way that seemed curiously familiar and ever so slightly out of place, then Harry remembered where he'd seen that smile before and said quietly: "Oh."
Remus glanced up at the sound of falling books and his eyes darted towards the closed door to the Weasleys' study. Cautiously he got up and, holding his wand ready, pushed open the door. A man with jet black hair and amber eyes stood leaning against the desk, looking bewildered and holding a black ebony wand loosely in one hand. He looked up and met Remus' gaze, still looking slightly lost. Remus raised the wand.
"Who are you?" he asked, trying to work out where he'd seen the man before. The man looked confused, then glanced down at himself.
"Ah," he said quietly and Remus' eyebrows shot up; he knew that voice.
The man nodded ruefully. "Someone gave me Polyjuice. Uh, I think it was Katherine."
Remus half smiled. "Probably. Where is she?"
"Wherever I was," shrugged Harry, looking vaguely at the wand in his hand as though wondering what to do with it. Remus followed his gaze, the smile turning to a frown.
"That's her wand, isn't it?"
Harry shrugged again. "All I know is that she tipped Polyjuice down my throat, stuffed the wand in my hand and...I can't quite remember. Next thing I know, I'm standing here." He glanced up, amber eyes curious. "This is the Burrow, right?"
Remus nodded, though his expression was rapidly turning to worry. "Do you know where Katherine is now?"
Harry shook his head. "Last thing I remember is the Polyjuice taking effect." He frowned, thinking back to the funny look she'd been giving him, the inklings of an idea forming in his mind. "I think...I think she took my place." He looked up at Remus and the older man's countenance told him that he was thinking the exact same thing.
"Do you know who took you, Harry?" he asked, quickly but softly. "It's important."
Harry's face darkened and his next words made Remus' blood run cold. "Bellatrix Lestrange."
"Come in." Robert Avery didn't even bother to glance up as the door opened and a figure entered. "Yes?" he asked, frowning down at the paperwork in front of him. The figure didn't answer the cue and this time he did look up as the door was shut softly, cutting off the babble of noise from the cubicles outside. The frown deepened when he saw who it was, though out of curiosity more than displeasure.
"And to what do I owe this visit, Nic?"
Nicola Meliflua sighed, placing a folder on his desk and gazing down at him out of large brown eyes.
"Officially or unofficially?" she asked as Robert swiveled the folder round to read the title.
"Officially," said Robert, placing the folder in his in tray, "You are delivering a folder that was sent to the wrong department." He smiled wryly at her, something like amusement in his light eyes. "Perfectly innocent mistake."
"Perfectly," agreed Nicola, sitting herself down in the leather chair opposite him.
"Strange how it was mislaid between floors, though," remarked Robert, setting down his quill and leaning back in his chair. "Only meant to come down one level and instead it goes down five. I'm guessing the unofficial business is very important."
"A mutual friend seems to think another mutual friend has gone and done something very stupid," supplied Nicola. "And he's usually right," she added at Robert's confused expression. "And, let's be honest, she usually does."
"Ah," sighed Robert. "How stupid?"
"Very," answered Nicola, as a small note zipped under the door and quivered to a stop, hovering patiently above the desk. Robert grabbed the memo from mid air and opened it, scanning the few scribbled lines quickly.
"Important?" asked Nicola, seeing his expression. Robert looked over at her, chocolate brown eyes, usually so unmoved, showing a glimmer of worry.
"It's from Tonks."
Nicola frowned and it took her a moment to realise he meant Nymphadora Tonks – the Auror. She was about to ask what in heaven's name she could want, but then she remembered something else. Tonks wasn't just an Auror, she was Lupin's girlfriend, and if Remus was sending messages to Robert, then Katherine was in a lot of trouble.
"And?" she prompted, half not wanting to hear the answer.
"And I think we can upgrade 'very' to 'incredibly'."
Remus Lupin sat in a dark booth, head in his hands. If Katherine didn't get out of this, he would never forgive himself. He peered out from between his fingers as the door to the pub opened but it was just a harassed looking woman who strode up to the counter and ordered a pint of mead, so he resumed his solitary musings.
A moment later he looked up, light brown eyes searching the room quickly. He had the peculiar feeling that he was being watched and years of living with Katherine had taught him to trust his instincts. There weren't many people in the small tavern yet the feeling of eyes burning a hole in the back of his head persisted. Cautiously he turned his head, and brown eyes met yellow ones.
Remus barely had time to register his surprise when someone slid into the seat opposite him and he looked around to see the short blond hair and scowling features of Robert Avery. Remus glanced back but the man at the table behind him was already getting up, not even flinching under Avery's glare.
"Lunching with a wolf, Avery, tut tut, what would your wife say?" he muttered, smiling nastily down at the blond man.
"I'd shut that mouth if I were you," answered Avery, his words spoken just a softly but positively dripping with menace. "Unless you want Riddle to put another bullet in you."
Fenrir Greyback sneered, but left them all the same and headed out of the pub quickly, letting the door slam behind him. Avery watched him go, then turned back to Remus, eyes still hard. Remus raised a polite eyebrow.
"Another bullet?" he asked lightly.
"He was being rude," said Avery darkly. "And it wasn't silver. She used the wrong cartridge."
Remus frowned; he would have to have a word with his wayward friend when she got back; if she got back.
"So, are you going to tell me what she's done? It must be bad if you've sought my help," said Avery, casting a silencing charm around their booth under the table. Remus pulled a black wand out of his pocket and laid it on the rough wooden surface of the table.
"Harry was kidnapped by Bellatrix Lestrange, Katherine found out, decided to switch places with him and for some reason best known to herself gave him her wand as well," surmised Remus, smiling wanly and running a hand through his thin, grey flecked hair. Avery swore quietly, hand clenching into a fist and for a moment Remus thought he was going to thump the table, but he managed to stop himself in time.
"Why did you come to me?" asked Avery, glancing up at him, anger rapidly changing into something more useful - determination.
"Because you were the only one of Katherine's friends who I thought I could stand to work with – and the only one that would listen," answered Remus sincerely. "To be perfectly honest I had no idea whether she was still in contact with any of you, except perhaps Nicola – she gave me rather an odd look when I saw her at the Ministry – but I had to try. I thought you'd help, even if it was for old times sake."
"And if I hadn't?" asked Avery, half smiling in that lazy way of his.
"Then I would have swallowed my pride and sent a letter to Snape," said Remus quietly, in a constrained voice. "And have left him to it."
"Not keen on working with Severus, then?" asked Avery, leaning back meditatively in his seat.
"To be quite frank I think if I saw him again it would be all I could not to kill him," said Remus, a small smile on his lips and an strange look in his eyes.
"Yes, Katherine's not too happy with him at the moment, either," said Avery quietly. Remus looked vaguely surprised.
"She's seen him again?"
"She didn't tell you?" asked Avery, frowning slightly.
"She asked me not to kill him," said Remus levelly. "But she didn't overtly mention that she'd spoken to him, no."
"Well she has," shrugged Avery carelessly. "Shouted in fact. Many times." He glanced up, meeting Remus' gaze with sharp brown eyes and Remus wondered for a moment how anyone could ever think this man was stupid. "He stills love her though."
Remus smiled bitterly and nodded. "That's what I was counting on."
"He's probably not the best person to send up against Bella, though," said Avery after a moment's reflection. "They aren't exactly the best of pals – she doesn't trust him."
"Even after he killed Dumbledore?" asked Remus, scowling.
"Oh no – she trusted him after he killed him," said Avery quickly, waving a hand dismissively. "It's just since Katherine came back. Now she won't go near him – probably thinks Katherine's going to ask him to kill her as a favour or something."
"She wouldn't do that," said Remus, and Avery grinned.
"Course not – she'll hex anyone who even plans an attempt on Bella's life. She's not going to let anyone else have that pleasure. Still, Bella never was the sharpest tool in the box and it's not as though Severus is greatly mourning the loss of friendship." Avery smiled languidly and leant forward, placing his arms on the grimy table. "When's full moon?"
"Next Friday," answered Remus instantly, despite being thrown by the sudden change of topic. "Why?"
Avery was quiet for a while, considering this, then said slowly: "She could survive five days, couldn't she? If Potter stayed hidden and the Dark Lord didn't visit."
Remus raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
Avery looked up, brown eyes deep in thought. "I think we could make the Dark Lord sufficiently paranoid so that he won't go near Potter until Bella provides some irrefutable evidence that it's really him."
"Who exactly is 'we'?" asked Remus, folding his arms; he didn't like the sound of his companion's musings. Avery smiled as though this should be obvious.
"His followers," he said softly. "And as we've already agreed, Severus would do anything for Katherine."
"Without asking questions?"
"I can deal with questions," said Avery dismissively. "I'll tell him Katherine wants to annoy Bella – no, I'll tell him it's you."
"Me?" asked Remus, staring incredulously at him. He was starting to reconsider his earlier view of Avery – maybe he was stupid, or perhaps he was mad. Either way, he wasn't making any sense.
"You – I'll say Katherine's found out you were posing as Potter and-"
"Won't work," said Remus shortly. "I was there – Bella tried to hex me when she took Harry and Katherine knocked me over."
"Fine – I'll just tell him Katherine wants him to do it," sighed Avery, looking slightly put out.
"And when he asks why she's not the one asking?"
"I'll tell him if he doesn't she'll die," he shrugged. "He doesn't need any more motivation than that. Well, maybe he'd do it just to wind Bella up, but I think it's only Katherine who's that childish." He grinned again, brown eyes bright with ideas. "Exactly how effective is the Wolfsbane potion?"
"In what way?" asked Remus, struggling a little to keep up with Avery's fast pace.
"I mean how much control do you have over your actions," explained Avery patiently. Remus raised his eyebrows, wondering where this was leading.
"Complete control, so long as I'm left alone," he said carefully.
"And if you're not?" prompted Avery anxiously.
"Well, it's pretty much the same as being human – if someone winds you up, you're likely to retaliate," shrugged Remus. "Only with the wolf so close to the surface, you can't keep your anger in check quite as much. Other than that you're probably ok so long as the wolf doesn't wake up."
"What wakes it up?" probed Avery, looking thoughtful. "Just anger?"
"Yes, and blood."
Remus nodded wearily. "The smell of blood is very...potent. It's not something that can easily be ignored when you've got a heightened sense of smell. Why all the questions?"
Avery grinned in a way that reminded Remus heavily of his friend and leant forward conspiratorially.
"Exactly how far are you willing to go to save Katherine?" he asked, brown eyes gleaming.
"She's saved my life at least three times now," replied Remus quietly. "I think it's time to repay the favour."
Avery's grin widened. "Good answer."
Harry sat on his makeshift bed in Ron's room, staring blankly at a poster of Chudley Canon's newest chaser, Quentin Miller, slam a Quaffle through a hoop. Hermione was downstairs going through the newest books they'd got now that she was sure Harry was safe and Ron was sprawled across his bed, pretending to read Martin Miggs comics and sneaking worried glances over at his friend every couple of minutes. Harry hadn't said much since his abrupt arrival other than to assure everyone that he wasn't hurt, and it was starting to worry him.
Harry was fully aware of this, but right at this moment, he had more pressing matters on his mind. Remus had persuaded Mrs Weasley that Harry was fine and begged her not to tell the Aurors – he would explain when he got back, he promised. And then he'd disappeared and Harry hadn't seen him since, not that it mattered – he knew exactly why Remus didn't want the Aurors to know he was safe. If they did, Scrimgeour, or whoever was in charge of the Aurors would refuse to keep searching for him and when word reached Bellatrix Lestrange that the Harry Potter sitting in her dungeon wasn't the real one, Katherine was in for a lot of trouble.
Harry himself was fine with this arrangement – he was all for getting Katherine back in one piece; how else would he get her to answer all his questions about Sirius? Remus wouldn't answer them, or even if he did, he would be bound to leave things out – besides, since it had been Katherine who had been with Sirius, it was Katherine who would be best able to tell him what the hell was going on.
He hadn't told Remus he knew about the relationship – partly because he still wasn't entirely convinced that he believed in it, and partly because there hadn't been time. Remus had rushed off as soon as he'd extracted a promise from Mrs Weasley that she'd keep quiet until he could explain properly – he hadn't even asked why Harry had thought it was Katherine, or why on earth he was referring to her by her first name.
He lay back on the bed, prompting another anxious glance from Ron, and dug Regulus' locket out of his pocket. He didn't know why he was still carrying it around – they'd already destroyed the real one after all. He opened it, gazing at Regulus' note, still tucked securely inside the gold rim; he pulled it out – it wouldn't do for it to fall into enemy hands as it could so easily have done only hours earlier.
He dropped the locket on the covers next to him and unfolded the note, more out of the need to do something than wanting to read the note again – he knew it off by heart anyway. To the Dark Lord...
Harry sat up, staring at the parchment in shock, because instead of the elegantly scripted note of contempt, the surface of the letter was completely blank. He turned it over, wondering if he was imaging things, but the other side was blank too.
"Something wrong?" asked Ron, laying down his comic and peering over at him.
"It's-" began Harry, but stopped abruptly, staring at the parchment. A thin line of black ink was spreading slowly across the top of the paper and for a moment Harry thought of Riddle's diary and had half a mind to burn it straight away, but something stopped him. The ink wasn't forming letters, it was forming...a picture. The seeping across the paper, the black line was filling out and twisting itself into new shapes. Two lines, intertwining, blossomed into an intricate sketch of a rose – two roses, and snaked off again, mirroring the lines on the opposite side of the paper – lines which Harry now realised were meant to be the stems. Just under the roses, an unseen hand now scrawled three words in elaborate calligraphy: morituri nolumus mori.
"What's that?" asked Ron, sliding off the bed and craning over Harry's shoulder to frown at the parchment as the last few words appeared, clearly written by a different, though just as elegant, hand:
Better than mirrors.
Feedback? Come on, you know you really want to.
Last edited by Purple Banana; November 4th, 2006 at 10:51 pm.
Re: Fallen Angel
Chapter 28 –Boldly going nowhere
Friday 27th September
"Potter you can't keep your eyes closed forever," said Bella, gripping her wand tightly in her hand. Harry had been most uncooperative these past five days despite her best efforts to make him talk. Even the best of Riddle's hexes had only made him scream – she'd be having words with that girl – smug ones. It seemed there were some people that even the infamous Katherine Riddle couldn't crack – not that she'd tried. On Tuesday she'd asked Julian to see if he could track her down and he'd come back a couple of hours later saying she was busy with work.
Bella stared musingly down Harry who was sitting huddled in a corner, eyes staying resolutely shut. It seemed he'd found a way round being a failed Occlumens; Bella might have been impressed if she hadn't needed to get into his mind so urgently.
The handle of the door turned and a black haired man with amber eyes poked his head around the door.
"What?" snapped Bella irritably. Julian arched an eyebrow at her, face as impassive as his cousin's.
Behind her, she heard Harry move slightly and glanced around to see him shut his eyes hurriedly. Bella laughed, crouching down to his level
"Scared, Potter? You should be."
Julian frowned and observed quietly: "He's not tied up."
"No," agreed Bella. "But it's not as though he can move, either."
Julian cast an eye over the pitiful form cowering in the corner and almost felt sorry for him. He didn't even want to know what Bella and the McKenzies had done to him this past week. If truth be told, he was surprised the kid was still alive.
Then, just as Bella stood up, turning to face him, the boy opened his eyes and looked straight at Julian with piercing green eyes. Julian almost blanched – there was something inhuman about that stare; it wasn't accusatory or pleading, it was just...blank. A look that tore straight through your defenses and saw inside your soul.
Julian visibly jumped and looked hastily over at Bella. "What?"
"I said what is it?" said Bella slowly, glancing back at Harry, who had shut his eyes again. "You look as though you'd seen a ghost."
"It's nothing," said Julian, with all the indifference he could manage, his mind racing. No Gryffindor had eyes like that, the only person who'd ever given him a look like that was... "I have to get back to work," he said, trying not to sound anxious to get away. Bella raised her eyebrows.
"Bit late to be working, isn't it?"
"Avery usually does nights, but he took the day off," shrugged Julian. "Think he was taking his daughter to the zoo or something."
"How sweet," muttered Bella, rolling her eyes. "When will his Lordship arrive?"
"About half an hour," said Julian, eyes sliding over to Harry again, but the boy remained stationary, the only sign of life the gentle movement of his chest as he breathed. He really needed to get a grip on himself – he had nothing to feel guilty about. It wasn't as though he'd sworn to her not to hurt Potter or anything, though he hadn't, he realised. He hadn't been near him all week, but that was just coincidence...wasn't it? He shook his head, bade farewell to Bella and debating whether he should warn her about Katherine's threat and wondering for the umpteenth time that week why on earth she hadn't carried though with it yet.
Left alone with Harry in the small stone room, Bella smiled to herself. Riddle didn't control everyone, after all. It was only when she heard Harry stir behind her that Bella realised she'd spoken aloud. She whipped round and met emerald green eyes gazing up at her. Grinning, she cast the Legilimens skill in the hope of catching him off guard and...hit a wall. Literally.
The resulting thump brought Alex McKenzie running, wand in hand, wild red hair flying behind her.
"What happened?" she asked breathlessly, staring from Harry's miserable form to Bella, lying prostrate on the ground.
"Snape said you couldn't do Occlumency to save your life," said Bella softly, staring at Harry. Alex frowned, then cast a confused glance over her shoulder.
"Is Julian here?"
"Just left," muttered Bella, picking herself up and rubbing her arm where she'd smacked into the wall. She'd get Snape for that later – the boy was obviously an advanced level Occlumens – how else would he have the power to throw a fully grown woman across a room when she'd barely even scraped the surface of his mind.
"But Jamie's out tonight," said Alex, and Bella caught the unease in her voice.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, tearing her gaze away from Harry and frowning at her companion.
"I just thought I heard-" began Alex but a low growl cut across her words and she stood, frozen to the spot, not daring to finish the sentence. Bella's eyes widened and she hissed: "Shut the door!" but Alex couldn't, or wouldn't, move.
Then, above the snarling in the corridor, Bella heard something else. Thud, clunk, thud, clunk, thud, clunk... There was someone with the wolf – someone with...a wooden leg? The footsteps stopped and the snarling dwindle, replaced by the hushed noise of something sniffing the air and then...silence. A minute ticked by, seconds dragging into hours and still nothing happened.
Bella crept over to the door and was about to push it shut, when curiosity got the better of her. She peered round it and met the electric blue eye and disfigured face of Alastor Moody, and crouching in front of him, posed ready to pounce, a grey brown wolf, lips drawn back in a silent snarl.
Hurriedly, she slammed the door shut, but met with thirteen stone of flesh and sinew coming the other way. The door held for a fraction of a second, then rocketed backwards, sending Bella flying for the second time in as many minutes and the wolf tumbled into the room, a fully fledged growl reverberating in the back of its throat.
Alex stood flat against the wall, trembling from head to foot as the wolf wheeled around, backing the two women into a corner. Behind it, the door, which had swung closed again after hitting the wall, opened and Mad Eye Moody walked in calmly, disarming them both easily.
"Wouldn't do you much good against a werewolf anyway," he said gruffly, turning to Harry and helping him to his feet. Bella glared furiously at him, too angry to speak. How dare he just walk in and...and...and just saunter off with her ticket back into the Dark Lord's inner circle?
Moody put an arm under Potter's, supporting him and whistled to the wolf which was still snarling softly. Unwillingly, the wolf retreated with him, padding lightly out of the room and disappearing into the corridor. As soon as it had left, Bella darted across the room, trying to reach the door before it shut, but didn't make it. The sound of a lock clicking echoed in the small room and Moody's voice, muffled by six inches of solid steel, floated back to her.
"Send my regards to your master."
Bella screamed with fury as the flap in the door that she herself had modified to allow food to be pushed through, swung open and two halves of wands were pushed through. Alex, still leaning against the wall, stared down at them in shock.
"He broke my wand..."
Bella barely heard her, glaring down at the polished wooden stick that was what remained of her own wand. Someone was going to pay for this and she had the nasty feeling it was going to be her.
In the back of a dark car with blacked out windows and white leather seats, a wolf, a boy and a man sat in exhausted silence as, outside, trees and county lanes flashed past. The car was doing well over 50mph but the driver didn't seem to care – the faster they were away from that place, the better, and no was quite sure what happened if you tried to portkey a transformed werewolf.
"Dawlish will have my job for this if he ever finds out," the driver muttered at last, casting a quick glance in her rear view mirror to check they weren't being followed; they weren't. Still, as Remus had pointed out, no one was expecting them to use muggle transport. From the back, the wolf whined and she smiled. "That's not the point."
An unpleasant squelching noise told her that 'Mad Eye' had removed his fake eye. "Are you sure no one noticed it wasn't moving?" she asked, risking a glance over her shoulder.
A vague look of surprise greeted her question. "She didn't. It's called the weapon effect," remarked Moody in a distinctly un-Moodyish voice. "Everyone's so busy concentrating on the weapon, in this case our dear furry friend here–" the wolf gave a low growl "– that they barely even register anything else."
"Right," she said slowly, then, searching for a topic which she knew she couldn't be tripped up on, asked: "Remus, are you sure your friend won't mind us borrowing his car?"
"He's a she," said a female voice quietly. "And no she doesn't. She's just thanking high heaven she's alive at present."
Tonks almost crashed the car in her shock and had to fight to keep control of the wheel. She slammed on the brakes, turning into the skid as she'd always been told to and at last bringing the car to a halt at the side of the road. She sat still for a moment, then twisted round and stared at the place where Harry had been sitting.
"You?" she asked incredulously. The black haired woman cast a side ways glance at Moody for help.
"We told her it was a Manes," he explained simply. Katherine cocked her head to one side and looked back at Tonks.
"You believed something he said?" she asked, gesturing towards Moody.
"I believed Remus," said Tonks hotly, glaring at the wolf who was doing its best to look innocent. Katherine smiled crookedly, reaching out a hand to scratch behind his ear.
"Never trust a Slytherin, never believe a Marauder," she said cheerfully. "Isn't that right, Moony?"
The wolf made a noise of agreement, sticking its head in her lap. Something like jealously flashed across Tonks face; it was gone in an instant, but Katherine caught it and smiled gently. She stopped scratching Moony's ear and flicked him on the nose instead. Moony flinched back, staring up at her out of large brown eyes that only served to amplify his hurt expression.
"Don't lie to your girlfriend," Katherine admonished. "It only leads to trouble."
Moony tilted his head slightly and gazed up at her with an expression that seemed out of place to Tonks after Katherine's words. It was almost...curiosity?
Beside her, Moody peered out of the window, and Tonks noticed wisps of blond hair where grey had been a moment before; the Polyjuice was obviously wearing off.
"We really had better be going. My wife's going to wonder where I am," he said softly.
Tonks jumped, then nodded hurriedly, turning back round to the wheel and starting the ignition. Ten minutes later, they dropped a now fully restored Robert Avery off near St James' park and Tonks looked over at Katherine and saw to her surprise that she was asleep. Moony wasn't however, so she posed her question to him.
"Where to now?"
Remus awoke the next morning, in human form once more, to find a thick woolen blanket laid across him. He twisted round to look at the sofa that Katherine had fallen asleep on almost as soon as they'd arrived and frowned when he saw she wasn't there. He sat up, wincing as his sore muscles protested and pulled the blanket around him, wondering if Tonks had remembered to leave him some clothes.
The noise of a door closing somewhere in the house made him look up and a moment later Katherine appeared in the doorway, holding two steaming mugs of tea. She smiled as he wrapped the blanket round himself and sat on the sofa, accepting one mug.
"Did you, um-?" he asked awkwardly, gesturing to the blanket and she grinned.
"You haven't got anything I haven't seen before, Rem," she said calmly, mischief glinting in her eyes. Remus pulled a face and she laughed. "Oh don't worry – you were still a wolf when I put it on you." At his questioning glance she shrugged. "I woke up about 5am; needed a drink. How are you feeling anyway?"
"About the same as usual," answered Remus, embarrassment assuaged for the present. He sipped the tea and studied her face with clear brown eyes. "How about you?"
"Fine," smiled Katherine. "Throat's a bit sore, but a good night's sleep can cure everything."
"Your throat's sore?" asked Remus, staring at her in bewilderment.
"From screaming," filled in Katherine, looking surprisingly cheerful about this.
"No, just screaming. I figured Bella would get suspicious otherwise," answered Katherine, wrapping her hands around the mug and shifting her position on the sofa to get more comfortable. Remus waited for her to continue, but she just smiled vaguely at him and gazed thoughtfully into her cup of tea.
"You're not going to explain, are you?" he said eventually, sighing heavily; Katherine just grinned at him. "Well I'm glad you're ok, at any rate," he added, pulling the blanket up around his shoulders.
"So am I," said Katherine softly, gazing at him, vivid blue eyes serious for once. "Thank you."
"What are friends for?" shrugged Remus, smiling slightly.
"Yeah, well, I owe you one," she said quietly, tucking a stray stand of hair behind her ear absently. Remus just shook his head – the amount of times she'd saved his life, and she thought she was the one that owed him. "Tonks is nice," she said quietly, disturbing Remus' reverie.
"Tonks - your girlfriend, remember?"
"Of course I remember," said Remus, frowning. "You like her?"
Katherine shrugged noncommittally. "She seems to really like you. I'm willing to give her a chance." She half smiled, a playful light glinting in her bright eyes. "Still stand by what I said though."
"That I look old enough to be her grandfather?"
Katherine laughed, almost spilling her tea. "No – but you do; we really need to get you some new robes – and no, I'm not taking no for an answer," she added, as Remus started to protest. Remus made a dubious noise but let it go for the moment.
Katherine grinned. "But if she hurts you, I will kill her."
Remus was about to admonish her, but a knock on the door stopped him in his tracks and his half smile turned to a frown. Who on earth was that? Tonks had dropped them off at an old Order hideout that no one really used much anymore since the place it had been set up to watch had burned down over six months ago.
Katherine caught his expression and set her half empty cup of tea on the floor and cross the room to the window, peering out through grimy net curtains.
"Who is it?" asked Remus quietly and Katherine shrugged.
"No one there." She turned back to him as a knock sounded again. "Unless they're invisible," she added, picking up a pile of clothes from a chair and tossing them at him. "They're invisible, aren't they?"
Remus shrugged, pulling on a shirt. "Probab- Oh no."
"What?" asked Katherine, looking worried. "Why 'oh no'?"
Remus didn't answer her as she peered out of the window again, squinting over at the door to the small bungalow. He stood up, fully dressed now, and went into the hall to answer the door, Katherine following but careful to hang back in the shadows.
"Good morning, Harry," said Remus softly when he'd opened the door. "And to what do we owe this pleasure?"
A moment later, a mess of black hair and a bespectacled face appeared out of thin air as Harry stepped inside, pulling off the invisibility cloak.
"We? So Katherine is here, then?"
Remus grimaced, noticing his mistake too late and Katherine stepped out of the shadows, frowning at Harry but remained silent. Remus looked from one to the other, trying to work out what he was missing. He frowned suddenly running Harry's words over in his head. Since when had he started calling her by her first name?
"Is it true?" demanded Harry, green eyes blazing and Remus thought, not for the first time, how like Lily he looked at times like these.
"Is what true?" asked Katherine, with an ease that told Remus that this was not the first conversation she'd had with Harry. Something was definitely going on here...
Harry held up a photograph and Remus recognised it as the one Harry had taken from his flat the first time he'd met Katherine – the one of the Marauders, Lily & Katherine that Peter had taken during their final trip on the Hogwarts Express. The one which showed Sirius with Katherine. Oh. He'd realised.
Katherine sighed heavily, leaning against the wall and gazing wistfully at the photograph.
"Perhaps not the place, but the time?" she asked softly, raising her eyes to meet Harry's fierce gaze.
"You were with him?"
"Because I fancied him," shrugged Katherine. "And because he didn't care."
Harry frowned at this. "He didn't care?"
"That I was a Slytherin," clarified Katherine. "I think his precise words were 'I couldn't give a rat's a-'"
"Yes we get the idea, Kat," interrupted Remus hurriedly. Katherine arched an eyebrow at him.
"Well he did ask."
"So what happened?" asked Harry, determinedly to get as many answers as possible before Remus stepped in.
"Azkaban happened," said Katherine soberly. "I got arrested, he got arrested, I died, he escaped, I escaped but thought he was dead, then he died." She smiled sourly. "Ironic, really. I tried to visit Grimmauld Place a couple of weeks after I got out but couldn't get into it. He was a wall's width away and I never even knew."
"Would you have got back with him if you'd met?" asked Harry, his anger subsiding a very little. Katherine looked almost surprised.
"Potter, we never broke up."
"Yeah, but you'd been apart for so long," said Harry and Katherine smiled wanly.
"Yeah, in the same prison. It wasn't as though we could hook up with anyone else, was it? He didn't fall for anyone else, did he, Rem? Remus?"
Remus glanced up at her, seeming not to have heard her question. "That can't be right, Kat."
Katherine frowned slightly. "What can't? He could have fallen-"
"Sirius died over a year ago," said Remus quietly, looking oddly at her. "And you only broke out last month."
You like? I'm going away for the weekend, so I finished it tonight so you wouldn't have to wait. Feedback is adored, as always.
Last edited by Purple Banana; September 29th, 2006 at 2:19 pm.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Here's the next update. Sorry it took a while – I was busy.
Chapter 29 – Insano quod sano
There was silence in the small hallway as Katherine looked blankly at Remus. Remus arched an eyebrow at her; he knew she'd heard him, so he wasn't going to repeat himself, but she wasn't being very forthcoming with an explanation – or a denial for that matter. He had the distinct feeling that she'd just slipped up. Again. Exactly how much was she hiding from him?
"Well?" he prompted at last.
"Well what?" asked Katherine pleasantly, keeping her expression carefully neutral.
"Katherine when exactly did you get out of Azkaban?" asked Remus with a sigh, not really expecting her to tell him.
"On the day of rebirth," she answered flippantly, an overly cheerful expression on her face that told Remus not to push the subject, and turned away from him to look at Harry. "How did you find out about me and Sirius?"
"Trix? But she didn't know that-" Katherine stopped, a thought occurring to her. "Uh, exactly how much did she tell you about me and Sirius?"
"How much is there to know?" asked Harry, staring incredulously at her. "She said you were together and the other woman said you were probably only with him because you liked to live dangerously."
"Other woman?" asked Katherine. "Red head? How the hell did she know about him?"
"Bellatrix told her," answered Harry. "Who is she?"
"Alexandra McKenzie," said Remus quietly, half smiling at Katherine. "You two used to be quite close in first year, I seem to remember."
"Yes, well, that was before she decided she wanted to kill me," said Katherine carelessly. At Remus' questioning look she shrugged and elaborated: "I brought Jamie to a DE meeting in a crumpled heap after he'd gone snooping after Faye. That's what the folders I gave you were for – so if anyone goes looking again, she can use them to prove she's me."
"And if they demand more substantial proof?" asked Remus gravely.
"Then she can tell them to stop wasting her time or she'll start screaming for help. She's got everyone else convinced she really is Faye, so no one would believe the ravings of Trix or the McKenzies."
"And when they find out everyone else knows she really is Faye?"
Katherine grinned, blue eyes glinting. "Then I'll tell them I'm very good."
"Does everyone who was there want you dead, then?" asked Harry quietly. If they did, then she'd taken a hell of a risk in switching places with him.
"Pretty much. I only saw four people – Lestrange, the McKenzies and Lloyd. I don't think he wants me dead, but you never can tell with Ju." She smiled, though Harry could see the weariness behind it. What kind of life was that? Always having to watch your back in case the person behind you was carrying a knife; no wonder she was so strange. At least he didn't have to constantly mix with the people who wanted him dead.
"Bellatrix mentioned someone called Iscariot," offered Harry, then frowned as both Katherine and Remus gave him very odd looks. "What?"
"Iscariot? You sure?" asked Katherine carefully.
"Yeah, she definitely called someone Iscariot," said Harry, wondering why they were still looking at him as though he'd suggested they sing Happy Birthday to Voldemort. "I didn't see who it was, though."
"Well they're not a DE," said Katherine. "I think Dad would refuse to enlist anyone named Iscariot on principle."
"Why? What's wrong with it?" asked Harry, growing more confused by the second.
"Iscariot," said Remus gently. "As in Judas Iscariot, possibly the most infamous traitor of all time."
"Oh," said Harry quietly, looking over at Katherine whose eyebrows were knitted together in a frown. She glanced up, a sour expression on her face.
"She got to Ju."
"Ju?" asked Remus curiously.
"Julian – he was the guy on the roof of your flats. Never did quite trust him exactly, but... Well, I guess I'll just have to be a little more careful around him, that's all." Her hand went to her throat and for a moment she looked confused, then sighed. "Ah, I forgot I took it off."
"Took what off?" asked Harry, frowning at her.
"My necklace; it has..." She trailed off, pulling a face. "Ok, look, I'm going to tell you, otherwise you're only going to find out from someone else, but if you go mental, I'm going home, all right?"
"Sirius and I weren't just going out," she said delicately. "We were engaged."
Severus looked at his watch for what felt like the hundredth time and ran an almost frantic hand through his hair. This was the fourth place he'd tried and no one had seen her for weeks. The sound of a door slamming in the hall made him start and he hauled open the study door and looked out.
Bellatrix Lestrange stood in the dim light, tossing her cloak onto a peg and muttering something angrily under her breath. Severus sighed, making Bella whirl round to face him.
"You? What are you doing here?" she asked shortly, glaring at him.
"What concern is it of yours?" asked Severus, having no intention whatsoever of telling Bella the real reason behind his visit. Bella scowled at him and made for a room on the other side of the hall, but stopped before she reached it, looking back at him.
"You're a real git, you know that, Snape?" she said softly, loathing underlining every word. "All that stuff about Potter being rubbish at Occlumency – you could have just said he was good at it. Honestly, you're getting almost as bad as her."
Severus kept his face carefully blank, processing Bella's words. Potter had shown no particular aptitude for Occlumency when he'd taught him, and as far as he knew, Dumbledore had discontinued the lessons after that last disastrous session, so that could mean only one thing – it wasn't Harry after all.
"I presume you're referring to Katherine," he said quietly, wondering how much information he could get Bella to tell him before she got suspicious.
"Of course I'm bloody referring to Katherine," snapped Bella. "'Insano quod sano'. She's a raving lunatic!"
"And you're not?"
The look Bella shot at him would have made a weaker man flinch. "Riddle will get hers," replied Bella softly. "I'll make sure of that."
Severus did frown this time, something about Bella's expression was making his blood run cold. "What can you possibly do to her that she hasn't already thought of? Hurting Lupin is suicide and trying to trip her up will only make her angry."
Bella smiled slowly, dark eyes shining with secret knowledge. "Riddle doesn't know everything."
"Perhaps not, but she's lost everything once before, and she's still standing."
"I'm not planning on taking everything," said Bella calmly. "Just what matters most. Good day, Severus."
Severus didn't answer as she disappeared into one the rooms and shut the door behind her. What matters most. What was that supposed to mean? Bella had barely spoken to Katherine since they'd escaped from Azkaban – how on earth did she know what mattered most to Katherine? She hadn't got a clue – not if she'd ruled out Lupin so carelessly. That man was Katherine's rock – it didn't matter what happened to her, as long as she still had him, she'd keep fighting.
Maybe that was part of the reason he'd spent all those years making sure that Lupin wasn't put in unnecessary danger – all those snide remarks that a werewolf wasn't suitable had been meant of course, and had been duly argued against by various Order members, Black and Potter especially, but no one, not even Saint Lupin, had seen them for what they really were – a way of salvaging that last memory of Katherine. Because even then, when she'd been issued with a death certificate and her cell had been bricked up, he still hadn't been able to let go of the idea that none of it quite fitted. People like Katherine didn't just get arrested and shipped off to Azkaban without kicking up a fuss, and they certainly didn't slip away quietly in a dark cell in the middle of the North sea. People like Katherine went down in a blaze of glory or not at all. People like Katherine didn't leave without saying goodbye.
And then on a warm night in late August, he'd gone to her parent's old house and half an hour later, she'd walked in through the back door, looking pretty much the same as she ever had – same glossy black hair, same brilliant sapphire eyes, same fierce smile – and she'd run off, only this time he'd run after her. He was not going to lose her again.
He sighed, looking at his watch again and after a moment consideration disapparated. He was going home – it was as good a place as any to wait for her.
Harry was silent, mostly from sheer shock, but partly because he knew if he opened his mouth right at that moment, he'd go mental and he was certain Katherine would carry out her promise and vanish the second he did. He didn't want that – he wanted to know what the hell had possessed his godfather to propose to Voldemort's daughter.
"Uh, Kat, I think you could have been a little more tactful about that," said Remus gently, eyeing Harry worriedly.
"How?" asked Katherine bluntly, arching an eyebrow. "It's the truth and I don't want anyone else giving him their distorted version of it. There's only one person living who knows the full story and that's me. A couple of people know the facts, but I don't think even you fully understood it, so they don't have a hope." She looked over at Harry who was still trying to decide how best to phrase the sentiment: 'What was he on?' without making Katherine leave.
"You could have explained first, though," said Remus, heaving a sigh.
"Maybe that's not the problem," said Katherine, gazing at him from under dark black lashes. "Maybe he's just not used to hearing the truth."
Remus narrowed his eyes but was prevented from commenting further by Harry, who had at last managed a strangled: "Why?"
Katherine looked almost surprised. "Why were we engaged? Because we were in love."
She said it so simply that it took Harry a moment to register it and even when he had, he wasn't entirely sure he believed it.
"But you were a Slytherin."
"He was raised among Slytherins," shrugged Katherine. "It didn't bother him, so I didn't let it bother me." She smiled softly. "And if I'm being completely honest, we didn't actually think it'd last."
"What?" Harry was staring at her now, very nearly lost for words. First she said she was in love with Sirius, now she was saying she hadn't intended to go out with him?
"We...well, we got together at the end of seventh year, after the exams and..." She shrugged. "It was just meant to a bit of fun – a crazy fling to show we didn't care what anyone else thought and it just...didn't end. Somewhere along the line it stopped being a joke and became something...quite different." She looked Harry straight in the eyes and said firmly: "I did love him. If you believe nothing else, believe that."
"Then why did he never mention you?" asked Harry quietly.
"Because he thought she was dead," answered Remus, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "And if nothing he could do would bring her back, he saw very little point in bringing up the subject. I think he was afraid you'd think less of him for falling for a Death Eater and that was the last thing he wanted – especially after he'd just found you again. You meant the world to him, Harry."
There was quiet for a while, then Katherine sighed. "Look, I know it seems about as likely as Malfoy being awarded the Noble Peace prize, but it just kind of worked. I guess you really had to be there to understand. "
"Show me then," challenged Harry, gazing at her with fierce green eyes. "If you had to be there, then show me. I've seen how pensieves work."
"Harry it's not quite as easy as that," said Remus gently. "You have to have-"
"Have we got any wooden bowls?" interrupted Katherine. "Or plastic – that'd probably work too."
Remus looked completely thrown by this, then said hesitantly. "Uh, there might be some in the kitchen. You'd have to check the cupboards. Wh-?"
But Katherine had already gone, the door swinging behind her and a moment later Remus heard her rummaging through the cabinets. "And who's got my wand?" she called, voice slightly muffled through the door.
Remus sighed and entered the kitchen, pulling it out of his pocket. Harry followed, just in time to see Katherine straightening up, a blue Tupperware bowl in her hand.
"This'll do," she said brightly, taking her wand from Remus and pulling a knife out of a cutlery drawer. Harry eyed the knife warily, but she just sat down at the small table and began carving symbols into the plastic.
"Dare I ask what you're doing?" asked Remus, taking the chair opposite her and giving her a bemused look.
"Makeshift pensieve," replied Katherine, a look of intense concentration on her face. "Won't hold many memories, but it'll be fine for what we need it for."
"You're serious, aren't you?" asked Harry quietly. Katherine flashed him a wicked grin and set about her work again. He glanced at Remus, who was watching Katherine with an expression halfway between amusement and exasperation. What must it be like to have a friend like her, he wondered. Someone who could shut someone up just by looking at them, who could slip so easily underneath the radar of the Aurors when she was just a room away and who, just for a while, made the impossible seem possible.
And that was probably what had attracted Sirius, too. Katherine looked so calm and composed on the outside, but even though he'd only seen her a couple of times, he'd seen that mask slip a lot already; she couldn't help it, especially when she grinned like that. That was the smile of someone who knew the world was out to get her and was fighting back with everything she had. The smile, he realised, of someone who understood the wolf. No wonder she was Remus' best friend.
"Are you completely sure this is going to work?" asked Remus, resting his head on his hand.
"Course I am," said Katherine, glancing up at him with bright sapphire eyes. "I'm making it, aren't I?"
Severus heard voices coming from the kitchen when he apparated into his bedroom and it took him a moment to realise it was Nicola and Robert. He tossed his cloak on the bed and went downstairs, listening outside the door for a minute to make sure there was no one else in there, and entered. Nicola looked over at the sound of the door opening, but the disappointment that appeared on her face told him Katherine hadn't come back yet.
"You haven't seen her have you?" she asked, not looking very hopeful.
"No," said Severus quietly, glancing at Robert. "She still not back?"
"Well she got out all right," said Robert, scratching his head. "I presumed they'd drop her off here but evidently not."
"Who's they?" asked Severus, narrowing his eyes. Robert hadn't mentioned any 'they' before.
"Lupin and a friend," said Robert evenly, sipping at the mug of tea he was holding.
"You got Lupin to help but you wouldn't tell me what was going on?" asked Severus angrily. "What the hell can he do that I can't?"
"Turn into a wolf once a month," answered Robert dryly, smiling very slightly, which only served to infuriate Severus further.
"He's got you there," pointed out Nicola, turning round to pour another cup of tea so that Severus wouldn't see her grin.
"What did you need a werewolf for?" asked Severus, not in the least bit pacified by this explanation.
"To get her out," said Robert simply. "It worked – that's all that's important, Severus. Katherine is fine, wherever she is. At a guess, I'd say she's probably staying with Lupin somewhere. She'll turn up later, she always does."
"And in the meantime we're just supposed to sit around going frantic?" asked Severus scathingly, although he already knew what Robert's answer was going to be.
"Yes, because that's what we do." He stopped smiling and look seriously at his old companion. "And honestly, would you really have it any other way?"
Severus shot him a dark look. "Yes, I would."
"Then perhaps you should tell her you're madly in love with her and then maybe she'd come home once in a while," said Nicola, handing him a steaming mug of tea. Severus stared at her, then at Robert, who didn't look in the least bit phased by Nicola's remark.
"I...what?" he managed at last.
"We kind of twigged back in sixth year when you cursed Rosier into next week when he suggested she was a mudblood," explained Robert calmly. "Then when you took her to the Halloween Ball."
"And slaved night and day to make that potion when she got sick," added Nicola.
"Then you broke Rosier's nose when we found out it was his fault, I seem to recall," nodded Robert, draining his tea. "Never mind very nearly murdering Black for asking her out."
"Oh, and the fact that you've become a bitter recluse ever since she died – that was a small hint, too," put in Nicola, dark eyes amused. "But it's ok."
"Ok?" asked Severus, sounding slightly lost. "How on earth is it ok?"
"Because she loves you too," answered Robert, making it sound so simple.
"If she had, she wouldn't have got engaged to Black," pointed out Severus sharply, fervently wishing he wasn't having this conversation. It was bad enough having it with himself, but not here, not with two of his oldest friends.
"You can love more than one person," said Nicola with a slight smile. "Take it from me."
"And she's taken her ring off," said Robert casually. "Don't know where she's put it, but it's not on her finger anymore. I'd say that's as good a sign as any that she's moved on."
"So don't be an idiot," said Nicola curtly. "Because there's a big difference between the way she feels about you and the way she felt about Black."
"And that would be?"
"She loved him, but she's in love with you," said Nicola gently, smiling softly.
"I don't see the difference."
Nicola shrugged. "You will."
Feedback is the fuel of updates.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: First off, I don't own the lyrics in the chapter - they come from the song American Pie by Don Mclean. Secondly, I've written the scene in the pensieve from a flashback point of view, rather than as a proper pensieve scene. This is simply becauseit's important that you know what the characters were thinking and I can't get that any other way, so just assume Harry, Remus & Katherine are standing around somewhere watching it. Enjoy!
Chapter 30 – Bad influence
Harry looked at the small plastic bowl that now lay innocently on the table, then up at Remus who was considering it critically. Over all, it had taken Katherine about half an hour to complete; it seemed it wasn't quite as simple as just carving a few symbols into the bowl – you also had to cast a number of complicated spells, most of which Katherine said she'd forgotten and had subsequently made up. As a result, Harry didn't blame Remus for being a little sceptical about the reliability of the makeshift pensieve.
"Don't you trust me?" Katherine was grinning, leaning back in her chair and twirling her ebony wand idly. Remus glanced up, brown eyes neutral.
"Trust you? With my life, yes. With this, not exactly, no."
Katherine pouted, blue eyes glinting with amusement. "And why, may I ask, is that?"
"Well I think the misgivings started around the time you said that you'd never actually tried it with plastic before and then multiplied rather rapidly when you decided to start inventing your own spells."
"Would it help if I made it look more like a pensieve?" asked Katherine, flicking her wand at the blue bowl, which shimmered for a moment, then transformed into an exact replica of the pensieve Harry had seen so often in Dumbledore's office.
"Does that make it any more reliable?" asked Remus, picking it up and weighing it in his hand.
"Right, so if this thing collapses on us-"
"It won't," said Katherine calmly. "But if it does, I'll get us out."
Remus smiled for the first time since she'd started making the pensieve.
"Now that I can believe." He sighed and set the bowl down on the table. "Are you sure you want to do this, Harry?"
Harry nodded and Katherine smiled happily. "Right then, choose a memory Rem. Preferably one where we're not arguing."
"Why me?" asked Remus, frowning.
"Well he's hardly going to believe anything I tell him, is he?" asked Katherine, raising her eyebrows. Remus sighed again, and pulled out his wand, thinking hard.
"You argued?" asked Harry as Remus tried to recall a suitable memory.
"Everyone argues," said Katherine seriously, gazing at him with clear blue eyes. Harry said nothing, wondering why, the more innocent Katherine looked, the less trustworthy he found her. Beside him, Remus put his wand to his head and drew out a long, silvery strand and, after only a moments hesitation, placed it in the pensieve. Katherine glanced up at him, the silver light from the memory reflecting on her face.
"Which one?" she asked softly. Remus just smiled and gestured for her to see for herself. She narrowed her eyes slightly, then shrugged and looked into the pensieve.
A twenty year old Remus gazed shrewdly over at two of his best friends, wondering how long it would be before one of them started shouting. In the corner, the radio was playing some new song he hadn't heard before and the lead singer's dulcet tones were at present concealing the conversation on the other side of the room. Remus sighed, draining the remainder of his drink and glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece. Sirius was due soon; he hoped Katherine and James wouldn't have killed each other before he arrived.
Leaning back into the sofa, he closed his eyes and let the song drown out all other sounds.
'…I met a girl who sang the blues
And asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away…'
The sofa jolted and Remus opened his eyes to see Peter sitting next to him, a slightly worried look on his plump face. Remus followed his gaze and saw the look Katherine was giving James.
"I hope you two aren't arguing," he said loudly, frowning at them. James turned to him, face the picture of innocence.
"Of course not, Moony," he said cheerfully, walking over to him.
"We were just having a mutual disagreement," added Katherine, smiling sweetly.
"About?" asked Lily, appearing next to James and giving him an appraising look.
"It's not important," said James, slipping an arm round her waist and kissing her gently on the forehead. "We'll sort it out later."
Remus could tell Lily was about to press the matter but at that moment the doorbell rang and after a moments indecision, she hurried off to answer it. Remus glanced at James, but he just shrugged and went to pour himself another drink. One look at Katherine told him not to even try and get answers from her, not that he really needed to. There was only ever one thing that James and Katherine argued about and he had just entered the room.
"I swear that man gets more paranoid with every passing day," sighed Sirius, tossing his cloak over a chair and grinning at Katherine. "You've really got to stop tormenting him, Kitten."
"Me? What did I do?" asked Katherine, arching an eyebrow. "I've been at work all day – whoever's making him worried, it's not me."
"Kitten, you can probably make people nervous simply by not doing anything. It confuses them," said Sirius gently, wrapping his arms round her waist and grinning down at her.
"Would you rather I wound him up?" asked Katherine, smiling playfully. "At least then you'd have a legitimate reason to complain."
"I think he'd complain no matter what," said Remus lightly. "He just wants sympathy."
"I can't help it," objected Sirius, giving Remus a mock hurt look. "It's my terrible childhood – I was deprived of love. You love me, don't you, Kitten?"
Katherine grinned and twisted out of his embrace. "We'll see."
"Where are you going?" asked Sirius petulantly, looking slightly miffed at this rebuff.
"To get a drink. Want one?"
Katherine nodded and disappeared into the kitchen as Sirius dropped down onto the sofa between Peter and Remus.
"So, apart from the paranoid colleague, did you have a good day?" asked Remus, shifting position to make himself more comfortable.
"Yeah, managed to skive off early to get here, too," answered Sirius, loosening his tie and grinning. "How about you, Wormtail? How are things going in the Ludicrous Patents Office?"
But how exactly things were going, they never found out, because at that moment, the doorbell rang. James, who had just reentered the room with a stack of records, paused and glanced over his shoulder, frowning.
"Are we expecting anyone else?" he asked, glancing over at Lily, who had risen from her seat.
"Well I ran into Michael Green in town a couple of days ago and he mentioned he hadn't seen you in ages, so I said he should drop in sometime. I guess he must have decided to come today."
"Uh, when you say Michael Green, do you mean the Michael Green in our year?" asked Katherine, sticking her head around the door to the living room, a concerned expression on her face.
"Yes – why? Is something wrong?"
"No," said Katherine slowly. "Not exactly wrong."
"But, well, does he know about me and Sirius?"
"Of course he does – you two were the talk of the school," laughed Lily, frowning at her as the doorbell rang again.
"Yeah, but that was two years ago," said Katherine uneasily. "Do you really think he's going to expect us to still be together?"
"Well no one's ever said you broke up," shrugged Lily, moving past her to go and open the door. "Why would he presume otherwise?"
"Hey don't worry," said Sirius lazily, getting up and throwing an arm around her shoulders. "It doesn't matter what he thinks, does it?"
"Not to me," said Katherine quietly. "To you it does."
Sirius frowned. "I told you before, I don't care what anyone else thinks."
"No, I don't care – you don't worry," said Katherine, glancing towards the hall where she could hear voices approaching. "It's not the same thing."
"I would be inclined to agree with her on that point," put in James, looking at Sirius with troubled eyes. "Maybe you should go."
Katherine nodded, but Sirius grabbed her arm before she could move. "Oh no, you're not going anywhere. Honestly, why is it that the first time you two agree on something, you're both being ridiculous?"
"Who's being ridiculous?" asked a bright voice, and a woman with clear blue eyes and long wavy blonde hair entered, followed by a brown haired man and behind him, Lily, looking slightly annoyed. The girl stopped short when she saw Katherine and her cheerful smile faltered for a second. "Oh, hello. I didn't know you were going to be here."
"I was invited," said Katherine quietly, her small smile doing little to conceal the malice in her eyes. "Were you?"
"She's with me," said the man, softly. Sirius cleared his throat and tore his gaze away from the woman, focusing instead on Michael.
"Do you want a drink? I'll go and see what we've got." He slipped out into the hallway, heading towards the kitchen and Remus exchanged a look with James, whose usually light brown eyes were dark with anger.
"So, how have you all been?" asked Michael, either unaware of or choosing to ignore the frosty atmosphere in the room.
"Surviving," said James quietly, flicking through the records in front of him.
"How are you getting on?" asked Remus, trying to lighten the mood a little. After all, it wasn't Michael's fault – he hadn't known Sirius would be here. If he had, he certainly wouldn't have brought Rose, would he?
Michael started to tell them about his new job and Remus cast a glance over at Katherine, who was gazing at Rose with an expression that Remus had long ago learned to be worried about. She caught him looking and smiled slightly before walking out of the room to find Sirius. Michael finished talking and glanced over at the door Katherine had just walked out of.
"Black's still with her, then?" he asked as Rose perched on the arm of his chair.
"Why shouldn't he be?" asked James, and Remus could see him tense visibly. He almost smiled; James may not have agreed with, let alone understood, Sirius & Katherine's relationship, but woe betide anyone else who said so. What was that Voltaire said? 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it'?
"No reason," said Michael placidly. "I was just saying."
"He does know she's a Death Eater, right?" asked Rose, gazing at them all with wide blue eyes and Remus wondered how two pairs of blue eyes could look so different. On Rose they made her look like an angel, whereas one look at Katherine's and you'd swear she was the devil's advocate.
"He doesn't see why that matters," said a low voice and Rose looked up guiltily to meet the sober gaze of Sirius.
"I didn't mean-"
"I'd love Katherine if she was the daughter of Satan himself, and she very nearly is, so I'd thank you to mind your own business, Rose," said Sirius, a touch of anger in his voice. "You lost the right to have any say over my life a long time ago."
Rose raised her eyebrows and Michael frowned at him, leaning forward in his seat.
"There's no need to take that tone of voice, Sirius. She was only asking."
Sirius threw him a dark look. "I would have thought she'd be happy. I'm returning to my roots, aren't I, Rose? You can take a Black out of Slytherin, but you can't take the Slytherin out of a Black, right?"
"I never said that," said Rose, looking horrified, blue eyes bordering on tears. "I would never say that."
Sirius snorted, gazing at her with dark brown eyes. "No? So that wasn't the reason you ditched me? There was another reason? And what would that be, pray? Do tell. I'm hanging on your every word."
"I said I was sorry," said Rose, blinking back tears in the face of such hostility. "I was just a stupid girl-"
"It was only two years ago, Rose," interrupted Sirius harshly.
"No one ever said she stopped being stupid," said a soft voice and Sirius turned round to see Katherine standing in the doorway, a glass of white wine in her hand.
"How long have you been there?" he asked, staring at her in surprise.
"'You can take a Black out of Slytherin, but you can't take the Slytherin out of a Black'," quoted Katherine, an odd smile on her face. "Honestly, Sirius, you'd be no fun without the Slytherin. Everyone's got to have a mix of the Houses to be interesting."
"Are you trying to suggest you're not pure Slytherin?" asked Rose, scowling at her with an emotion that went way beyond loathing. Katherine smiled dangerously but it was Sirius who answered.
"Don't be ridiculous, of course she's pure Slytherin." He grinned roguishly, running one elegant finger down Katherine's cheek. "What was it my dear old mother used to say? A true Slytherin is smarter than a Ravenclaw, more dedicated than a Hufflepuff and fiercer than a Gryffindor, while all the time being as deadly as poison. I'd always thought she was being a bit over dramatic till I met you," he added quietly and Katherine smirked.
"Flattered at being compared to poison?" asked Rose stiffly, arching an eyebrow. Katherine smiled cruelly at her.
"You don't think it's true?"
"I think he can do better," replied Rose shortly, looking coolly at her.
"I don't give a toss what you think," said Katherine evenly.
"Well I think we should be going," put in Michael quickly, standing and retrieving Rose's cloak from a chair. "We promised Samantha and George we'd join them for dinner." Rose took her cloak silently, gazing deliberately at Sirius as she did so. As Lily ushered them out, Rose paused in front of Sirius and said something quietly in his ear, but he only arched an eyebrow and said levelly:
"Wouldn't be the first."
Rose's doll like eyes widened, then she shook her head and followed Michael out without another word. Katherine looked curiously at him, but he only smiled bitterly and ran a hand through her soft hair.
"You're gorgeous, you know that?"
Katherine rolled her eyes. "Flattery will get you nowhere."
"I thought you said you liked being complimented," said Sirius, chuckling.
"I may like it, but that doesn't mean it will get you anywhere," replied Katherine, blue eyes glinting playfully. The sound of the front door shutting made them look up and Lily reentered, looking apologetic.
"I am so sorry about that, Sirius. I didn't know they were together – Micheal never mentioned her and I'm sure I didn't say he should bring anyone-"
"It's all right, Lily," said Sirius soothingly, waving a hand to assuage her fears. "You weren't to know, no harm done."
"Are you sure?" asked James, frowning at his friend. He'd stayed out of the argument simply because he wasn't sure if he'd need to restrain Sirius at some point, and he couldn't do that if he was shouting himself, but that didn't mean he wasn't furious at Rose for having the audacity to turn up as though nothing had happened. She'd hurt Sirius more than she knew when she'd broken up with him and James didn't think he'd ever quite gotten over it.
It wasn't that Sirius had loved her or anything like that, it was just that he'd spent seven years trying to prove to everyone that he wasn't like his family, and then Rose and turned up and reminded him that no matter how hard he tried, he'd be stuck with that same stigma forever. People were always going to presume the worst, unless you presented them with bona fide evidence that you were innocent.
"I'm fine, Prongs," assured Sirius airily, walking over to the radio and searching through the stations. "I'm perfectly content with life, all right? Now come on you lot, cheer up – this is supposed to be a party. For the first time in ages we've all got jobs, even Moony, and we're all healthy and happy and we're going to celebrate, ok?"
"Ok," agreed James, laughing.
"Good. Now I'm going to go bring the drinks in here and when I get back, I will personally hex anyone who isn't smiling," said Sirius, turning the radio up and grinning at the room in general. James shook his head, grinning back and Lily pulled a reluctant Peter into a dance. Katherine caught his eye and smiled bitterly; they both knew Sirius wasn't fine, but Katherine would make sure he was later and James was content to leave it to her – there were some things that girls could handle better than boys.
"I'm impressed." James jumped and turned to see Remus standing beside him.
"Well you've been in same room as Katherine for at least ten minutes and not only have you refrained from arguing with her, you've actually agreed with her on several points. I'd say that alone calls for celebration – I'm surprised Sirius didn't point it out in his little speech."
"Maybe he thought it'd jinx it," said James, as Sirius reentered, floating a tray of bottles and a crate of beer before him. Sirius caught them looking at him and grinned before grabbing Katherine and pulling her into a dance besides Peter and Lily. "He loves her, doesn't he?"
Remus looked seriously at his friend. "I think so, and really, would you be so against their relationship if you thought it wasn't going anywhere?"
"If she hurts him, I'll kill her," said James quietly, watching them calmly. Remus just smiled, and summoned a bottle of butterbeer. The song on the radio changed and Peter and Lily stopped dancing as a piano picked out the first few bars of a slow ballad. James smiled softly and held out a hand to his wife, who took it as Peter flopped down onto the sofa.
James cast a glance over Lily's shoulder as she lay her head on his chest and caught Sirius' eye as he glanced up. He smiled and Sirius returned it, before shifting his attention back to Katherine. Maybe Moony was right. They weren't soulmates, but maybe they didn't need to be. In times of crisis, you take what you can get, and if Katherine made Sirius happy, maybe that was all that mattered.
He smiled, resting his chin on Lily's soft red hair. Still, if Katherine couldn't handle a few arguments every now and again, she definitely wasn't good enough for him...
Harry felt a hand on his shoulder and a moment later he was in the kitchen once more. He glanced up at Remus who was frowning slightly and Harry realised a moment later that Katherine had disappeared.
"She's not-?" he began, looking worriedly at the pensieve, but Remus shook his head.
"She just disapparated," he said quietly, neglecting to tell Harry the expression that had been on her face. There had been a reason she'd vanished so quickly.
"Who was that woman?"
"Hmm? Oh, her name was Rose Perseus. She went out with Sirius in seventh year, then someone's father was killed by Death Eaters and she dumped him," said Remus, sighing tiredly. "Sirius never quite forgave her."
"She dumped him because Death Eaters attacked someone's father?" asked Harry incredulously. Remus gave him a shrewd look.
"You have to understand that the war was just really starting to get going when we left school – Hogwarts was probably the safest place to be with Dumbledore there, and the full impact of it didn't really reach us. It's one thing to read about attacks in the papers, but quite another to have someone you know affected by it. The person who's father died was in Rose's House, and I would think their probably would have been a great deal of speculation over who could have done it." Remus leant on the back of a chair and looked seriously at Harry. "You know yourself that most of Sirius' family were Death Eaters, and when people are angry and hurt, they don't tend to think straight."
"She thought he might be a Death Eater?"
"Maybe," shrugged Remus. "Maybe she just didn't want to be associated with someone whose family was so heavily involved with Voldemort."
"But Sirius had left home by then, hadn't he?"
Remus smiled wanly. "Yes, but he hadn't made it common knowledge. Much as he hated his parents, I don't think he was quite reconciled to the fact that they'd disowned him back then. After all, parents are supposed to love you unconditionally – being disowned is not something you really wish to shout from the rooftops."
"My dad – he was arguing with her?"
"Well they never did get along. James thought Sirius was being reckless and he didn't trust Katherine."
"Katherine knew where he was coming from but couldn't care less," smiled Remus. "I think that was actually what annoyed James the most."
"Did she really love him?" asked Harry, thinking about Sirius' face when he'd been dancing with Katherine. He'd looked happy – happier than Harry ever remembered him being before.
Remus looked at Harry soberly; did Katherine love Sirius? She'd given up her friends for him, abandoned Severus for him – and Remus knew that however much she claimed she didn't regret it, that had been one the hardest things she'd ever done and, after seeing that memory replayed in front of her, she'd been on the verge of tears and that was saying something; it took a lot to make Katherine cry. So had she loved him?
Severus awoke to the sound of a piano playing somewhere in the house. He sat up, glancing at his watch. It was only two o'clock, he must have dozed off after lunch. He sat still for a while, listening the hauntingly sweet melody before he realised that Nicki had gone back to work an hour ago.
He got up and headed out of the lounge and into the study across the hall. Katherine looked up when he came in, hands frozen over the keys.
"Hi. Sorry, did I wake you up?" Severus just stared, not quite knowing whether to yell or hug her. "Cat got your tongue?" she asked quietly, attempting a smile. Severus frowned. Attempting? Had she been crying?
"What's the song?"
"Ange déchu," replied Katherine in an English accent, though Severus knew the name was French.
"It's good. Who wrote it?"
Katherine smiled faintly, though it was tinged with sadness. "Sirius."
"Black?" asked Severus, surprised. She nodded. "I didn't know he wrote music."
"There were a lot of things you didn't know about him," said Katherine, turning away from him.
"Are you going to tell me where you've been?" asked Severus, ignoring this slight.
"Why bother? You already know," said Katherine quietly, starting to play again. "Avery told you."
"How do you know that?" asked Severus, staring at her. Katherine smiled, though Severus could detect little warmth in it.
"A little birdie told me."
"I've been worried."
"What d'you want? A medal?"
Severus arched an eyebrow. What on earth with up with her? First she came in without so much as a word and now she was acting like he'd done something wrong.
"I was just saying," he said in a clipped voice. "You could have been killed. What the hell were you thinking giving Potter your wand? What would you have done if Bella had found out it was you?"
Katherine stopped playing and turned to face him.
"I would have run like hell," she said softly. "And who told you I gave Potter my wand?"
"Avery isn't as good at Occlumency as he likes to think," said Severus, glaring down at her with dark green eyes. Katherine stared back at him for a moment, then looked away.
"Well I'm back now, ok? And I'm fine. You don't need to worry."
Severus arched an eyebrow. "Katherine, for as long as you exist on this planet I don't think it would be possible for me not to worry about you. You're always going to be in some sort of trouble."
"Yeah well, I'm a big girl now. I can look after myself," said Katherine firmly. Severus smiled bitterly.
"Everyone needs someone to look after them." Katherine laughed darkly at this.
"Nice philosophy. Does it include Dad?" Severus appeared to think for a moment, then said carefully.
"No, your father needs someone to take care of him. But I think you've got that pretty much wrapped up yourself." He smiled faintly at the look she gave him. "Like I said: Avery isn't as good at Occlumency as he likes to think."
Katherine watched suspiciously as he left the room, turning his words over in his mind. Robert had said Severus used to teach at Hogwarts. Exactly how close had he been to Dumbledore? Would he have – but no. Severus had killed Dumbledore. You didn't do that sort of thing unless you meant it.
But as Katherine resumed her playing of Ange déchu she couldn't quite ignore the nagging voice at the back of her mind that was trying to remind her that people don't usually mean to get sent to Azkaban...
Feedback is adored. Especially after that extra long chapter.
Last edited by Purple Banana; October 24th, 2006 at 4:35 pm. Reason: Unreadable font
Re: Fallen Angel
Chapter 31 – Not quite right
"Harry, can I see that note again?"
Harry looked up from his musings and stared blankly at Hermione.
"Regulus' note," said Hermione patiently, smiling slightly.
"I, uh, haven't got it," he said slowly. Ron, who had been perusing The Prophet, looked up, eyes wide.
"Haven't got it?"
"No, someone swapped it," said Harry, pulling the locket out of his robes and tossing it over to him. "I think it was Katherine; I've only showed it to you two, her and Avery, and I doubt he would have done it."
"So what's this then?" asked Ron; he was holding up the piece of paper with the rose header.
"I think it's a way for us to communicate," shrugged Harry. He still wasn't quite sure of his feelings towards Katherine, but he knew that if she'd been with Sirius, she probably would have known about the mirrors he and James used in school and afterwards. He wondered vaguely why she'd said they were better; he hadn't had the chance to ask her at their last meeting.
"Write a letter?" asked Ron. "Couldn't we do that anyway?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and took the parchment from his hand, then, carefully, she dropped a bead of ink onto the creamy surface. It shone there for a moment, then disappeared.
"Magic," said Harry unenthusiastically, trying to ignore the unnerving similarities between the parchment and Riddle's diary. Like father, like daughter... "Why did you want the note anyway, Hermione?"
"I was just thinking – how exactly does the end of it go?"
Harry shrugged, reciting it by heart. "I face death in the hope that when you meet your match, you will be mortal once more."
"Those were his exact words?"
"Yes, why? Is it important?" asked Harry, raising an eyebrow. He didn't think it was particularly strange that Regulus should have thought he wouldn't survive for very long after the locket was taken – he must have thought he'd get discovered – or maybe he already knew Voldemort was after him. Hermione shrugged, but she looked troubled.
"It's just, well, Katherine said it was Regulus who told her about the Horcruxes, right? I mean, I know she hasn't actually said all that much about him, but he must have told her there was more than just the locket, right? Else she wouldn't be looking for more than one."
"What's your point?" asked Ron, looking at her with a bewildered expression on his face.
"Didn't you hear the last line of Regulus' note?" said Hermione with exaggerated patience. "The hope that you will be mortal once more. Do they sound to you the words of a man who thinks there's more than one Horcrux?"
There was an uncomfortable silence while the two boys processed this idea. Harry had to admit that Hermione had a point – Regulus sounded like he thought he'd found Voldemort's only Horcrux and that it's destruction would make him weak enough to be brought down. But if that were the case, why had he told Katherine that there was more than one?
"Maybe he wanted to trick You-Know-Who?" suggested Ron uncertainly. "You know, catch him off guard. If he thought only one Horcrux had been discovered, he might go into battle thinking he was indestructible when really all the other Horcruxes are gone too?"
"If I were Voldemort, and I found that note, I'd check the other Horcruxes," said Harry darkly. "He's not stupid – Regulus would have known that."
"That's another thing I don't get," said Hermione softly. "Why leave the note? I mean, 'I know I will be dead long before you read this' does rather seem to imply that he thought Voldemort would read it at some point, but why? Does he check up on them?"
"Look, wouldn't Katherine have thought of all this?" said Ron, shifting in his seat. "She's not exactly stupid either."
"No, but she's had other things on her mind," said Harry mildly, thinking of the talk he'd had with Remus the night before. '...yes, she loved him, Harry. She went to Azkaban loving him, and I think she always half expected to come out and find him again - I know Sirius did. He was devastated when she was arrested, but then the Prophecy came about and your Mum and Dad had to go into hiding, and he had other things demanding his attention. I don't think either of them ever quite got over the fact that they didn't get to say goodbye...'
"I think we should ask," said Hermione quietly. "Just to be on the safe side."
Harry nodded and took the rose headed paper from where it lay on the table in front of Hermione.
"Are you sure it's from Katherine?" asked Ron, frowning worriedly as Harry picked up a quill.
"No," answered Harry, looking at the words written beneath the roses. "But it's hardly likely to come from a dead man, is it?" He ignored the utterly perplexed looks his two best friends gave him and wrote a short message.
We need to talk.
It's not about Sirius.
He watched at the ink disappeared into the parchment, then sat back to wait. After about a minute's silence, Ron spoke up, confusion etched into his voice.
"What was that about a dead man?"
Harry sighed and was about to reply when the parchment in front of him glowed gold. He picked it up warily and the glow faded, words scrawling across it in black ink.
St James Park.
Harry looked up as a pretty young woman with short auburn hair sat herself down next to him. She looked about twenty five, he thought, but then she turned to look at him and he saw the eyes.
"Did you know there're a couple of Aurors over there?" asked Katherine, smiling pleasantly and relaxing in her seat. Harry was almost surprised that this didn't seem to bother her at all – almost.
"No. Who are they following?"
"You mean me or you?" asked Katherine, lips quirking into a smile. "At a guess, I'd say you."
"Dare I ask why?"
"I don't get followed," said Katherine, eyes glinting challengingly. "They can't track me. Only Alastor's ever come close." She shrugged, eyes flickering over the undercover Aurors. "So, what did you want to talk to me about? And where are the other two?"
"They're covering for me," said Harry carefully, trying not to look at the Aurors; he didn't want them to know he knew they were there. "Look, did you take Regulus' note? 'Cause that paper thing is yours, isn't it? And that Latin stuff is done in Regulus' handwriting."
Katherine gave him a sideways glance, something like approval in her deep blue eyes.
"Yes, I took it. It's safe – you don't want just anyone getting their hands on it." She sighed, exhaling loudly and looking up at the clear September sky. "And that paper thing is a way of contacting me – and Robert when he finds his." She smiled faintly, adding, "But you already figured that out."
"What do you mean when Robert finds his?"
"We all used have one – me, Reg and Rob," explained Katherine. "Don't worry, I didn't give you Reg's – that wouldn't be...right. I've burnt his – yours is new. That's why it's not connected to Robert's yet. Anyway, that's not what you wanted to talk about, is it?"
"Not exactly, no. I wanted to ask – did Regulus tell you there was more than one?" A slight frown crossed Katherine's face and at last she said slowly:
"Now why would you ask a thing like that?"
"You've read the note," said Harry levelly. "He doesn't sound like he knew that more than one had been made. So what exactly did he say to you, because I know you thought there was quite a few of them." Katherine breathed out heavily, running a tanned arm through her short ruffled hair.
"Didn't actually say there was more than one," said Katherine quietly. "He didn't have time – but he gave me his research and told me about that one. He did know, I'm sure of that."
"But the note-"
"Yes, the note," sighed Katherine. "I suppose it does rather give that impression, doesn't it? But the thing is, he only found it about a week before he died, so unless he tried to kill Dad or something – which I assure you I would have noticed – I can't see how he would suddenly change his mind."
"Maybe he found another one?" suggested Harry, but Katherine shook her head.
"He would have told me. Besides, he wouldn't have kept looking, would he? And I hardly think Dad is likely to go flaunting them around the place." But even as she said it, Harry could tell she didn't believe it – not quite.
"Maybe he wouldn't, but someone else might," said Harry quietly, and Katherine's head snapped round to face him, fine eyebrows drawn together in a frown. "Malfoy gave Ginny the diary to open the Chamber, remember?"
"Malfoy did that?" asked Katherine, incredulously.
"Yes – he hates muggleborns," said Harry, wondering why she was surprised. "He was hoping Slytherin's monster would kill them all."
"But you destroyed it," said Katherine softly. "He sent it into Hogwarts and you destroyed it. No wonder Dad's angry at him."
"Voldemort's angry at Malfoy?" asked Harry, staring at her.
"Bloody furious," agreed Katherine. "Avery said it was because he lost the Prophecy, but I thought that was rather odd, because there's more than one way of retrieving it and Dad wouldn't be that mad over the words of a seer."
"You think it's because he let the diary get destroyed?"
"Potter, you Crucio someone for failing you – you don't enlist their son unless they did something really bad."
"What?" Harry was aware that he was gaping at her, but didn't care. He knew Draco had become a Death Eater but- "Voldemort forced him into it?"
Katherine smiled sourly. "You don't refuse the Dark Lord unless you really want to die. Even then he'd probably use you as an Inferi."
"But he didn't want to do it?" asked Harry, though he thought he already knew the answer. Draco crying in the toilets, his face when Dumbledore had been talking to him on the top of the tower...
"Not many people do – not unless you're metal like Crouch, or just plain thick like Crabbe, if you think he's actually capable of making a decision without Malfoy hissing in his ear. Oh yes, and then there are the people like him – Malfoy – who relish the idea of being involved in The Cause because they're too blinkered to see where it will lead. And those who are just plain scared."
"And where do you fit in?" questioned Harry, surprised to find he really wanted to know. Katherine shrugged; she'd never really believed in The Cause, had just wanted to know her father, had just been stupid.
"I guess I just got a little too caught up in it – went with the flow and didn't realise how deep in I was until it was too late."
"I figured I had two choices – go along with it and pretend everything was alright, even though I knew I'd never agree, or try and get out and be killed." She gave him a twisted smile. "Needless to say I chose survival."
"And now you want to kill him."
"It's my only way out – the only way we'll ever be free. Rob's got a kid, so has Daemon. D'you think they like knowing that as soon as they're old enough, he's going to summon them and they'll get pulled into the whole tangled web too? You can only protect people for so long."
"Yeah, and that really doesn't add up," said Katherine, shoving her hands in her pocket and looking up at the sky again. "Even he wouldn't put that diary in danger if he knew what it was – he must have known he'd pay if it got damaged. And he's not as arrogant as to believe that that wasn't a possibility. Much safer to keep it locked up in vault at Gringotts or even his house, where no one will ever find it."
"You think he didn't know?" asked Harry, raising an eyebrow. "But Voldemort wouldn't give it to him without telling him what it was, or at least warning him not to damage it, would he?"
"No," said Katherine, but something in her tone made Harry think she was still dubious about it.
"What? He wouldn't tell him?"
"No, he wouldn't give it to him."
"But he had it-"
"Yes, he had it eleven years after Voldemort fell. But that doesn't mean he had it all the time." She stood, eyeing the Aurors thoughtfully. "I have to go check something out. Leave it with me – I'll get back to you when I'm done."
"And when will that be?" demanded Harry, half considering insisting on going with her, but deciding against it. It probably wouldn't be a good idea. Katherine appeared to think about this for a moment, face scrunched up in thought.
"About three hours? Maybe four? Depends on how willing people are to talk."
"And if they're unwilling?"
Katherine grinned. "I know someone who brews some excellent verita serum."
"Regulus?" asked Auriga Nott, ice blue eyes narrowing in suspicion. "Why do you want to know about him? He's dead, Katherine – you know that."
"Yes," agreed Katherine, looking down and running a hand through her dark hair. "But did anyone visit him in the two weeks prior to his death?"
"Anyone like a Death Eater anyone?"
"Anyone unusual – maybe someone who hadn't visited for ages, or who you didn't think he knew very well?" asked Katherine. This was a long shot and she knew it, but she had to try.
Auriga shook her head. "It was a long time ago, Katherine. I can't honestly remember."
"So Malfoy didn't show up?"
"Malfoy?" asked Auriga, eyebrows raised. "Why on earth would Malfoy be visiting Regulus at home?"
Katherine shrugged. "I don't know."
"So why are you asking?"
"Because if he did, I would," said Katherine softly, meeting Auriga's gaze at last. Auriga frowned slightly, considering.
"This is important, isn't it? It's got something to do with that project Reg was working on, hasn't it?" She smiled at Katherine's look of surprise and relaxed back into her seat. "He wouldn't tell me what it was, but I knew he was up to something. Don't worry – I never told anyone, and I don't intend to ask. If he wouldn't tell me, then I probably shouldn't know."
"I can see why he loved you," said Katherine quietly, smiling a little at the younger girl.
"Yes well, he had to, didn't he?" replied Auriga, smirking. She sighed, smile fading. "I'm really sorry I can't help you, Katherine. I don't think anyone strange came round in those last few weeks. I mean, Andy dropped in one lunch time about a week before, but apart from that-" She shrugged. "No one."
"Right," said Katherine slowly. "Um, when you say Andy, you mean Andromeda, right?" Auriga nodded.
"Yeah, but that wasn't exactly unusual. She came round every now and then to check on Reg – I think it was mostly to reassure Sirius – you know him and Reg could never admit they still cared about each other."
"Yeah," murmured Katherine, glancing at the clock. "Listen, I'd better be going. You've got work to do I'm sure. Thanks for your time."
"No problem. Sorry I couldn't be more help."
Katherine lay on her bed in Nicola's house, thinking. There was something about the whole business that didn't quite add up, but she was damned if she could think what it was. Questioning Auriga had been a dead end, although not quite without it's good points. She knew one thing at least – however Regulus learnt about the other Horcruxes, it wasn't from anyone who visited his flat.
Probably wasn't from Lucius, either. He wasn't an idiot, however much she liked to make him out to be, and he must have known Tom would come back one day – and the price he would pay if he put a portion of his master's soul into danger. But if Lucius hadn't known, how had he got hold of the diary? It wasn't the kind of thing you left lying around.
She exhaled, shutting her eyes. No visitors except Andromeda, and that wasn't unusual. Checking up on Reg for Sirius.
Checking up on Reg for Sirius?
Katherine frowned, opening her eyes again. Why on earth would Sirius need to ask his cousin to check up on Reg when he was engaged to a Death Eater?
Feedback is, as usual, adored.
Last edited by Purple Banana; November 4th, 2006 at 10:53 pm.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Ahem. The update has arrived at last – really sorry about the wait. I have no better apology than the fact that I have been incredibly busy/stressed/have had no access to a computer. Anyway, without further ado, here's the next chapter:
Chapter 32 – Black tales
Ted Tonks opened the door to his house and looked politely at the woman on the doorstep.
"Hello. Can I help?"
The woman looked uncertain for a second, but only for a second. She smiled brightly.
"Does Andromeda live here?"
"Andromeda who?" asked Ted, careful not to look suspicious. Both his wife and daughter had warned him against letting strangers in, even going as far as to say not to open the door when he was in alone. There was a war on, they said, and you couldn't be too careful. Coming from anyone else, Ted would have listened with a degree of scepticism, and gone on to deliberately ignore their advice, but he trusted his wife. He'd met her sisters.
The woman on the doorstep was looking slightly puzzled, as though she hadn't been expecting this question. She laughed with an air of embarrassment.
"Would I sound like a complete idiot if I said I don't actually know?" she asked, meeting his gaze with brilliant blue eyes. "It used to be Andromeda Black, but she married." There was a pause, then: "I'm guessing you're the husband."
"How did you know her?" asked Ted, ignoring the assumption.
"Old school friend, well, more like acquaintance, really. I was friends with her cousin." She hesitated at the look on his face and bit her lip. "Ok, not really the best thing to say, was it? I was friends with the cousin that wasn't a raving lunatic. And I was engaged to the one that wasn't a Death Eater." Again she paused, thinking this over. "Does she know that?"
"That you were engaged to her cousin?" asked Ted, wondering how far he would get if he slammed the door and ran. Then he remembered his daughter saying she'd put up wards around the house to protect it – only witches or wizards on the list his wife had written up would be let through, but Ted had met everyone on that list and he'd certainly never seen this woman before. Yet she'd said school friend and she appeared to know Andromeda's cousins…
The woman was shaking her head, forehead creased in thought.
"That he wasn't a Death Eater," she said softly. "Look, is she in?"
"How did you get through the wards?" Ted asked quietly, frowning at her, hand already moving towards the door handle, ready to close it.
"Wards?" asked the woman, gazing around and up. She squinted in the late September sunlight, and made a noise of approval. "They're very good – who cast them?"
Behind him, Ted heard his wife come down the stairs, asking who it was.
"What's your name?" he asked the woman, realising she hadn't told him. The woman's attention snapped back to him and she gave him a lazy smile.
"Now I'm definitely not telling you that. Andy'd refuse point blank to see me if you said-" She broke off as Andromeda herself appeared next to her husband, looking quizzically past him to see who the visitor was. "Ah. Andy. Hello."
Andromeda's large brown eyes widened at the sight of the woman and Ted saw her pull her wand out of the back of her jeans, keeping her hand behind her back.
"So the rumours are true."
"They usually are," replied the woman, smiling faintly. "It's the true stories you have to watch out for."
"Who sent you?"
"I did. I need to talk to you."
Andromeda considered this for a minute, then nodded slowly, opening the door to admit her. After the woman had stepped inside, and Andromeda had directed her to the lounge, she turned her husband.
"Send an owl to Nymphadora, tell her Katherine Riddle is here, and then leave. It doesn't matter where you go, just take the car and get out of here."
Ted nodded, but hesitated. "What about you?"
"I'll be fine. The Aurors will take care of everything and she won't harm me – not if she wants something."
"But you said there were many ways they could make people talk."
"There are, but she won't use them. Out of respect for Reg, she won't hurt me, now go."
Ted nodded, and headed into the kitchen to write the letter. Andromeda stood alone in the hall for a moment then entered the lounge. Katherine was standing with her back to the door, examining the photographs on the mantle piece.
"Setting the Aurors on me, Andy? You know that won't work." She turned, but her sapphire eyes weren't angry or accusing. She smiled. Andromeda didn't.
"You've got five minutes. That letter will take three minutes to get to my daughter, and I should think the Aurors wouldn't waste more than two once they know you're here."
"Ah yes, your daughter. She has an interesting taste in men, I must say," remarked Katherine, frowning slightly.
"You've met?" Andromeda was surprised; Nymphadora hadn't mentioned anything.
"Once or twice. She only tried to kill me on one occasion, I think, but who's counting?"
"I am – four minutes," she said softly as the front door slammed shut; Ted had left. They were alone and Andromeda was starting to think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. Nymphadora would certainly be lecturing her later if she got through this – but then what else could she have done? You don't turn someone like Katherine away unless you have a death wish, and if she hadn't informed the Ministry and someone had seen Riddle arrive, she'd be accused of being in league with You-Know-Who. It was hard enough warding away suspicion as it was, what with both her sisters and cousins being Death Eaters.
"When was the last time you saw Regulus?" asked Katherine, evidently deciding to cut straight to the chase. Andromeda was startled – whatever she'd been expecting, it wasn't this. "Please? It's important," said Katherine.
"I – why?"
"Because," said Katherine testily. "You're the one who put a time limit on this conversation, Andy, not me."
"Well what was I meant to do? You just turned up on the doorstep in broad daylight!"
"I was being polite," said Katherine, voice low. "If I'd apparated right into your kitchen you would have hexed me and run. I need you to speak to me. Auriga said you went to see Reg about a week before he died – what did you talk about? She thought you were reporting back to Sirius, but he already knew how Reg was because I told him."
"You-?" Andromeda sat down abruptly, and Katherine sighed heavily, glancing at the clock. Three minutes. She unclasped her necklace and slid the diamond ring off it, holding it up in front of Andromeda.
"We were engaged," she said softly, trying to keep the note of desperation out of her voice. She was going to have to explain – it would take up time that she didn't have, but Andromeda wasn't going to cooperate unless she understood, so she had to make time. "And he wasn't a Death Eater, Andy. Trust me, I would know. He didn't betray the Potters – he would never do that in a million lifetimes – it was Peter Pettigrew. He's alive and he's an unregistered Animagus – a rat. He transformed that day, and cut off his finger – he's the one that killed all those people, not your cousin. Peter's the Death Eater, not Sirius."
"Peter in our year?" asked Andromeda slowly. Katherine nodded, wondering how much of this she was actually taking in. Andromeda took the ring from Katherine's loose grip, gazing at it, lost in thought. "Bella." She said at last.
Katherine cast a nervous glance over her shoulder.
Andromeda sighed and looked at her with dark brown eyes, so similar to her cousin's.
"I asked him about Bella. I know she's evil incarnate, but she's my sister, Katherine. I had to know how she was and if…if the rumours were true. If she really had done all the things people were saying she had. Do you know how hard it is, seeing all these reports in the paper of Death Eater attacks and trying to be sympathetic to people who've lost their loved ones, when all the time there's this horrible knowledge at the back of your mind that it might have been your own sisters that did it? Do you have any idea what that's like?"
Katherine shook her head. She never thought her friends and Father might have been involved – she knew whether they were or not. Somehow, that seemed worse; at least Andromeda had hope.
"So you asked him how Bella was?"
"Yes, and he said he hadn't seen her in while, but that he'd go and check on her if I wanted. I said I didn't mind, but I think he went anyway – I don't know. I never heard from him after that. Katherine? Katherine, are you all right?"
Katherine glanced at her, waving a hand to say she was fine, even though her face had gone white and Andromeda was sure she'd seen a look of horror cross her face.
"I'd better...I'd better get going," she said after a moments pause. "Sorry if I've got you into trouble, but...well, you're just going to have to believe me when I say it was necessary."
Andromeda nodded, getting to her feet. "Has this got anything to do with... Is Bella in trouble?"
Katherine laughed, and there was a sour note in her voice when she spoke again. "She will be when I catch up with her."
"Oh don't say that," murmured Andromeda, looking imploringly at her. "Don't-"
"She killed Sirius," interjected Katherine, scowling now. Andromeda stopped, staring incredulously at her.
"What?" she whispered, brown eyes wide with shock. "He's...Sirius is-?"
"I'm sorry," said Katherine quietly. "It was last year. He was fighting for the Order and Bella caught up with him."
"How...?" asked Andromeda weakly, leaning against the mantle piece for support. "How did he die?"
"I don't know," replied Katherine, glancing at the clock. She didn't have very much longer before the Aurors came. "I wasn't there. Someone told me a couple of weeks ago."
"You're sure it was her?"
"Yes," said Katherine, meeting her pleading gaze. "I'm sorry."
Andromeda smiled weakly. "Why? It wasn't your fault."
Katherine said nothing, only stood watching her with an odd expression on her face. The thought never even crossed Andromeda's mind that it might be guilt.
"I should go," said Katherine after a short pause. Andromeda nodded, looking at the clock.
"Thank you – for telling me about Sirius."
Katherine smiled faintly. "You needed to know." And then she was gone – out of the room, out of the house and, from the heavy thump that followed a moment later, into the Aurors. Andromeda ran to the front door which was still open and looked down at the slumped figure on her garden path. She hoped he wasn't dead.
She looked up, casting an eye around for Katherine, but she evidently hadn't felt like hanging around. A shout made her turn around and she saw her daughter running towards her. She smiled, suppressing a sigh; this was going to take a lot of explaining.
Robert Avery looked up when he heard the key turn in the door. A minute later, Katherine appeared, plastic carrier bags hanging from each hand. She dumped them on the table, giving him a bemused look.
"Hello. Dare I ask what you're doing here?"
"Nicola let me in," he answered, watching her start to unpack the bags.
"Oh." Katherine paused, fridge door half open. "I don't think I saw her cloak in the hall."
"She went out about half an hour ago," said Robert, studying her with an odd expression on his face. "She said I could stay and wait."
"I was looking for you."
Katherine shut the fridge and leant against it. "I'm listening." Robert gazed at her for a moment, then shook his head, smiling slightly. "What?" asked Katherine, looking confused. "What's so funny?"
"You are," answered Robert, as she folded her arms, giving him a worried look. "There's a squad of Aurors out looking for you, and you go grocery shopping."
"We were out of milk," said Katherine defensively. "What was it you wanted to see me about anyway?"
"I wanted to know what you were up to," Robert said simply. "Why did you go to see Andromeda Tonks?"
"Tonks?" asked Katherine, arching an eyebrow. "Her surname's Tonks? But I thought her daughter's name was-"
"Her daughter's name is Nymphadora," explained Robert calmly. "Which is why she prefers to go by her last name. And don't avoid the question," he added, as Katherine came to sit down opposite him. Katherine shrugged carelessly.
"Just following up something Potter said."
"What did he say?"
"That Regulus didn't sound as if he knew there was more than one horcrux." She smiled at the confused look on his face and hastened to elaborate. "He didn't – well, when he wrote the note he didn't. I think he found out later – I think he saw the diary Tom made and figured out there must have been at least two, so when I went round just before Bella arrived he gave me all his research instead of just telling me about the locket."
"Right," said Robert slowly. "So he saw the diary? What's the diary?"
"Tom's diary – Malfoy sent it into Hogwarts. Potter says it possessed someone and made them open the Chamber of Secrets. It's gone now, I think I recall him saying he stabbed it with a basilisk fang." She smiled as Robert let this sink in.
"He destroyed a horcrux when he was twelve?"
"It's his destiny, remember?" grinned Katherine, flicking her wand in the direction of the kettle to turn it on. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches," she added, lowering her voice, eyes glinting wickedly.
"I'm glad you find this amusing," remarked Robert, arching an eyebrow at her. "Because some of us don't have your remarkable talent for refusing to die."
Katherine grinned and shrugged carelessly. "Death is just a state of mind. Want any tea?"
"No, I'm all right, thanks," said Robert slowly as she got up to make herself a cup. "Listen, there was something else I wanted to ask – the main thing I wanted to ask, actually."
"Yes?" she asked, not looking round.
"How did you get to Andromeda's house? And how did you get out again? Because I know you were there – you knocked an Auror out, for heaven's sake, but I looked at our records and I can't find you anywhere. The wards didn't register you at all and I know you didn't apparate or Floo on either network." He watched her closely as he continued; she hadn't turned around yet. "I know you're good at Portkeys, Katherine, but believe me, if you'd used one, I would be able to find out and you didn't. You just...appeared - out of thin air – and then disappeared. How the hell can you do that?"
Katherine fished the teabag out of her mug and picked up the cup, turning to face him with a blank look that he knew of old. It meant he wasn't going to get anything out of her no matter what he said.
He tried anyway.
"The Aurors did a search, you know. About thirty seconds after you stunned that guy, and you weren't anywhere within a five mile radius, so don't try saying you hid or ran – no one moves that fast."
"Maybe I transformed," said Katherine, face still the picture of innocence.
"The wards weren't disturbed," said Robert sighing. "I told you that – they didn't register anything apart from Aurors passing through them – and I know you didn't morph into an Auror because that wouldn't fool the wards in the slightest – they're too good for that."
"Yes they were," agreed Katherine, surprising Robert; he hadn't expected that. "Do you know who cast them?"
"Tonks probably," shrugged Robert. "Are you going to answer my question or not?"
"Not," said Katherine, smiling maddeningly. "You're the genius – you figure it out."
Robert opened his mouth to argue but at that moment the door opened and Severus walked in.
"I thought I heard voices," he said softly. "Hello Robert."
"Hi," said Robert, glancing at Katherine and considering pushing the point for a moment, but then he saw the look Severus was giving Katherine and decided that maybe it was better to leave. Katherine probably wouldn't tell him anything anyway.
As he stood to make his excuses, however, a thought struck him and before he could stop himself he asked suddenly:
"Does Malfoy know?"
Katherine glanced sharply at him and Severus frowned.
"Does Malfoy know what?" he asked, giving Robert a suspicious look, but Katherine shook her head.
"No – he doesn't. Don't worry." She smiled. "I expect you'd better be getting back to Cass – she'll be wondering where you are."
He nodded, apparating, and, in his relief for the excuse, completely missed the look in Katherine's eyes and the real reason behind her helpfulness.
Back in the kitchen Severus looked warily at his old friend.
"What are you up to?" he asked as she lounged against the sideboard, hands wrapped around the steaming mug of tea.
"Nothing," she said carelessly, smiling brightly and sipping her tea. Severus arched an eyebrow, looking dubious and after a while said softly.
"Be careful, Katherine. Please."
Katherine glanced at him, blue eyes betraying her surprised, but a instant later she smiled again.
"There's nothing wrong, Severus, really. Nothing to worry about."
A second later an owl tapped at the window and Katherine turned to let it in, taking the cream envelope from it's beak before it flew off again. Severus watched it go as Katherine opened the letter and wondered why Remus had written to her. He didn't usually do that – not unless it was something important.
Katherine turned round, pocketing the letter with a slight frown on her face.
"Not from your friend?" asked Severus, seeing her expression. Katherine smiled vaguely.
"Not exactly. I think I may have upset his girlfriend."
"Tonks?" asked Severus, not quite managing to keep the surprise from his voice. "He-" he paused, seeing her warning expression and decided not to finish that sentence. Instead he asked calmly: "What did you do?"
"Well I think the fact that I'm alive is main problem," said Katherine in a mock thoughtful voice. She grinned. "And I think she may be slightly jealous for some obscure reason. Knowing Rem he probably hasn't explained things incredibly well."
"Well you two do have rather a strange relationship," pointed out Severus gently. Katherine gave him an odd look.
"We're just friends," she said quietly.
"And you'd do anything for him," replied Severus, looking at her with an unreadable expression.
"So? I'd do anything for you as well," she retorted, adding quickly, "I'd do anything for any of my friends."
"Are you quite sure about that?" asked Severus.
"Yes - if it was important, I would," said Katherine stubbornly. "Why on earth would you think I wouldn't?"
Severus shrugged. "You abandoned us for over a decade, Katherine. You lied to us – you pretended to be dead. You can't expect trust to come back over night."
Katherine gazed at him for a long moment then she said quietly. "I don't lie."
"No. People just misinterpret me."
"We misinterpreted a corpse?"
Severus stared at her, then shook his head. "You're impossible, you know that?"
Katherine raised an eyebrow but what she had been about to say, Severus never found out because at that moment he felt the Dark Mark burn, and saw Katherine's hand fly to her left arm. They looked at each other and without another word turned and headed for the fireplace. The argument could wait – it wasn't as if they were ever in want of one.
Feedback be the food of updates...
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: I'm pleased to say this update took a lot less time than the last one. I've just finished it so I thought I'd post it now. Merry Christmas!
Chapter 33 – Confrontation
Harry stared at the piece of paper in front of him with an exasperated expression. He'd been checking it every ten minutes since he'd left Katherine, and now she'd finally got around to writing back, it was only to say:
Regulus knew there was more than one horcrux.
That was it. No explanation – just the plain facts. He grabbed a quill and wrote:
A minute later, new words scrawled themselves across the paper.
He saw the diary.
Harry bit his lip, thinking for a few seconds before writing back:
So Malfoy had it?
Two minutes passed till Katherine replied and Harry wondered if it was because she was deciding how to put something down that wasn't a direct lie. As it was, her answer was simply:
He tried again, beginning to get the idea that Katherine was more cryptic than the Sphinx he'd met in the Triwizard Maze. He had a feeling he was going to have to write exactly the right kind of questions.
How did Regulus see it? Who had it?
He smiled as the ink faded anyway – she shouldn't be able to get out of that. A simple question required a simple answer. Her next words surprised him though.
You don't want to know.
He frowned, and wrote:
Yes I do.
Her reply was quick this time.
No, really, you don't.
Harry scowled, getting annoyed, and scrawled:
He half expected her to her to refuse, so the fact that an actual name appeared a short while later was shock enough, but his heart skipped a beat when he allowed himself to register it. No, no it couldn't be... Not her, not...
But there it was, black ink still glistening on the creamy parchment.
The door opened and Ron poked his head round it.
"Harry, dinner's ready – hey, are you ok?"
"Bellatrix knows about the horcruxes," said Harry quietly. There was silence and Harry glanced up at Ron to see a look of complete horror on his face.
"What? How do you-? How does she-? What?"
"She had the diary," said Harry hollowly. "Malfoy must have found it after she'd gone to Azkaban and, I dunno, maybe he wrote in it or something and Tom Riddle told him it could be used to open the Chamber. Katherine doesn't think he knew it was a horcrux."
"And she's sure of that, is she?" asked Ron, frowning. "Did she ask him?"
"She said he wouldn't have put it into danger if he'd known what it was," replied Harry, and after a moments pause added: "She said Voldemort recruited Draco to punish him."
"That's ridiculous – Malfoy wanted to join," said Ron scornfully, but Harry shook his head.
"No he didn't." He glanced down at the paper in front of him and started in surprise at the writing there; he'd forgotten he hadn't replied.
Harry, are you still there?
Don't go after Trix. She's not worth your time.
If you don't write something soon, I'm coming over there.
And then, because he thought it ought to be said:
Someone needs to go after her.
The reply he got almost surprised him, though he wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because he knew she meant it.
No. You can't torture dead people.
He looked at the parchment for a while, then sighed, scrawled a goodbye and followed Ron downstairs to dinner.
Katherine stood quietly in the doorway to Remus' kitchen, looking out into his lounge. Remus was on the sofa with his back to her, flicking through a book or a photo album or something; he hadn't noticed she was there yet. Katherine tilted her head, gazing curiously at him and wondering what exactly had possessed Tonks to pose as him. It was a good effort, she had to admit, but Katherine could tell Remus a mile away and the person sitting nervously on the sofa wasn't him.
He looked up suddenly and caught sight of her in the mirror above the mantelpiece. Katherine saw him start and smiled pleasantly as he turned to face her.
Remus stared at her for a moment, then opened his mouth to say something but Katherine spoke before he had the chance.
"I know it's you, Tonks. Remus doesn't look like that – you haven't got the whole anguished-disapproving look he always gives me right. And he's certainly not scared of me," she added, lounging easily against the door jamb.
"I'm not scared of you," said Tonks quietly, morphing back into herself. Katherine shrugged, and Tonks got the feeling she didn't believe her. Tonks didn't blame her – she barely believed herself. She'd seen this woman's file and despite what Remus said, she couldn't see her being anything other than ruthless Death Eater Moody had always made her out to be.
"You wanted to talk? Alone?"
"I haven't told any Aurors," said Tonks, pleased with how calm her voice sounded.
"I know. I checked," said Katherine. "You haven't told Remus, either."
Tonks' eyes widened. "You went to see-" she began, but Katherine shook her head.
"Of course not. It's just that if you had, he would have talked you out of it. He would have known I wouldn't be fooled by a letter and a disguise."
"Oh?" asked Tonks weakly.
"Remus doesn't send me owls," said Katherine quietly, giving her an odd look.
"Then how does he contact you?" frowned Tonks, staring at her.
"He doesn't," said Katherine simply.
"But if he was in trouble-"
"Then I'd know."
"Not if it wasn't Death Eater related," said Tonks hotly.
"I'd know," repeated Katherine softly. "If he needs my help, I'll know."
"Did you know when you were in Azkaban?" asked Tonks, arching an eyebrow. "He needed you then. When the Potters died – when Peter was murdered – when Sirius was sent to Azkaban – did you know then? Where you there for him then?" Katherine gave her a look that would have frozen steam.
"He was safe," she said quietly. "He was hurting, but he was safe. He survived."
"He might not have. You didn't even check."
"I did," objected Katherine, glaring at her.
"How? You never left Azkaban!"
"Yes I did. I made an appeal. I was taken back to court."
Tonks laughed scornfully. "Oh yes, I've read about that. You said you had names for them – you said you'd exchange them for freedom and then you went and said Dumbledore and Moody were Death Eaters! You even said the French Minister of Magic was a Death Eater! That wasn't an appeal, that was a joke!"
"Yes. But Remus came," said Katherine in a quiet voice that nevertheless demanded attention. "And I knew he was ok."
"But he didn't have anyone to talk to! He was alone!" shouted Tonks, scowling at the black haired woman before her. "How he possibly have been ok?" Katherine looked mildly at her.
"So why-?" started Tonks but Katherine held up a hand.
"Not 'he wasn't ok' – he wasn't alone," she said in that same quiet voice that put Tonks on edge.
"He isn't entirely devoid of friends, you know," said Katherine calmly. "There are those who stuck by him when he lost everything. And like I said – he survived. He's fighter, however much he likes to pretend he's not."
"Who stuck by him?" asked Tonks, in a slightly calmer voice. "He never mentioned anyone."
"I don't suppose he likes to talk about it much," said Katherine levelly. "It wasn't one of the better times in his life."
Tonks gave her a long look, then said: "I don't mind."
"Mind what?" asked Katherine blankly.
"If it was a girl." Katherine put her head to one side, surveying her curiously but not saying anything. Tonks sighed. "Well it has to be a girl, doesn't it? Or you would have said otherwise. You know he hasn't told me about her, so you're not going to say anything in case I get angry or something, right?"
Katherine smiled faintly, but remained infuriatingly silent. Tonks frowned at her, wondering what she wanted. If she wasn't saying anything, she was probably waiting for her to finish her theorising, but she had finished. Hadn't she? Remus had been comforted by a girl – end of story.
But Katherine hadn't come right out and said that, had she? And why would Katherine have thought she'd be angry? She was just glad he'd had someone to talk to. So why be angry? It wasn't as though the girl was still arou-
Tonks' eyes widened and she stared at Katherine in shock.
"Faye," she said softly. "It was Faye, wasn't it? That's why they act so strangely whenever I'm around. They don't want to let something slip."
Katherine made a face. "Well, to be fair, they're probably talking about me and don't want you to hear." She smiled grimly. "Rem says you don't like me very much."
"Funny. He said the same thing to me," replied Tonks sourly.
"He was telling the truth."
There was quiet for a moment, then Tonks said:
"Why did you tell me about Faye?"
"I didn't." Tonks scowled at her; fine, if this was the way she wanted to play...
"Why did you make – let – me work it out?"
Katherine smiled. "Do you want my truth or your truth?"
"I want the truth."
Katherine grinned, irritatingly. "That would imply that truth is absolute."
"That would be because it is," said Tonks through gritted teeth. She didn't know how Remus put up with this woman.
"No it's not," said Katherine calmly. She looked at Tonks for a moment, then said. "I told you because you deserved to know. If Rem told you, you'd fly off the handle. I thought if I told you, you'd be fine with it to spite me."
Tonks snorted. "That's not true."
Katherine grinned, as though she'd passed some sort of test. "What is the truth then?"
Tonks was quiet for a moment, then said slowly. "I think you told me because you want me to confront Remus about it. You want me to think he's cheating on me with Faye and break up with him."
Katherine smiled, gazing at her from under dark black lashes.
"It's not going to work," said Tonks resolutely, glaring at her. "I trust Remus – I love Remus, and nothing you can say is going to change that. I don't know why you don't like me, but if it doesn't bother Remus, I'm not going to let it bother me."
Katherine was quiet for a moment, and Tonks thought she was frowning slightly. Eventually, she said: "Don't you?"
"Don't I what?" asked Tonks, slightly deflated. She'd been expecting her to deny it or say that she was acting in Remus' best interests or something, not ask a question.
"Don't you know why I don't like you?"
Tonks stared blankly at her; she hadn't really given it much thought. She was a Slytherin and a Death Eater. It stood to reason she wouldn't like a Gryffindor, much less an Auror.
"Do you need a reason?"
"Everything has a reason."
"What is it then?" she asked, curious despite herself.
"I'm Remus' best friend. It's my job," said Katherine simply, and now Tonks thought she could see laughter glinting in those impossibly blue eyes. "And yes, what you said was the truth – your truth. It'll probably be Remus' too if you tell him about it."
Tonks leant against the back of the sofa, looking thoughtfully at Remus' oldest friend. "So what's your truth?"
Katherine smiled. "I wanted to see how you'd react. Remus is a good man – I needed to know you trusted him. After everything he's been through he deserves someone who loves him. For what it's worth, I think he's found them."
"Do you mean me or Faye?" asked Tonks and Katherine laughed.
"Do you really think I'm going to answer that?"
"No, not really," said Tonks, with a small sigh. "Remus did say you're the most irritating person he knows."
Katherine grinned. "Yeah, I love him too."
"Why did you go to see my Mother?" asked Tonks in the silence that followed. Katherine smiled; now they were getting somewhere.
"Didn't she tell you?"
"She said you just turned up."
"She said you told her Sirius was innocent."
"He was," said Katherine quietly, studying Tonks' face carefully. "She deserved to know."
"So you just felt compelled to tell her? After all this time?" asked Tonks archly.
"Yes," replied Katherine. "I liked your mother, Tonks. We went to school together, she looked out for Regulus – she's a good person. She doesn't deserve sisters like Trix and Narcissa."
"Trix? I've never heard anyone call her that," said Tonks, frowning.
"No, they're too scared; she hates it," said Katherine, lips curling into a smile. "Which is precisely why I shall persist in doing it until I'm dead and buried."
"It's not a good idea to cross Bella," said Tonks softly.
"It's not a good idea to cross me," replied Katherine. Tonks smiled sourly, and Katherine looked curiously at her. "Why didn't you tell your mother about Sirius?"
Tonks looked up. "What?"
"Well you knew, didn't you? Remus must have told you – Sirius was your cousin."
"Yes, I knew."
"But you didn't tell her?"
"How was I meant to explain?" asked Tonks quietly. "She would have wanted to see him – she would have wanted to know how I found out. I couldn't tell her that."
"She doesn't know about Remus, does she?" asked Katherine,
"I told her he was an older man," shrugged Tonks.
"Hmm, not quite the same, though, is it? Not really the same as saying if dating the guy you went to school with. Does she know you're in the Order?"
"No," said Tonks, sighing. "She already thinks I'm putting myself in danger by being in the Aurors."
"You are," said Katherine simply. "But if you believe in something, you've got to fight for it."
"Like you fight for You-Know-Who?"
"I don't fight for Tom, I fight for me," said Katherine softly. "No one ever tries to save the whole world, well, not unless your name's Harry Potter. Sensible people just save the ones they love. Potter's not very sensible."
"He's good at it, though."
"Yes." There was a pause, then: "You're good at being an Auror, you know. Those wards were some of the best I've seen."
"You still got through them."
"Yes well, I'm me, aren't I?"
Tonks studied her for a moment, then put her hand in her pocket and pulled out a ring.
"Mum said to give this back to you."
Katherine looked at the engagement ring for a long time, then she looked up at Tonks.
"Tell her to keep it. She needs it more than I do. I doubt she kept anything connected with Sirius – not after he was sentenced. I wouldn't have."
"But it's yours-"
"It's not going to do me a lot of good to keep it, though, is it? He's not coming back. Please – I want her to have it."
"Ok," said Tonks softly, pocketing the ring again.
"I have to go – stuff to do and all that. This war isn't going to fight itself."
Tonks frowned, but decided not to comment. Instead she asked: "Are you going to tell Remus?"
"About what? This?"
"Look, there's nothing to tell, ok?" said Katherine gently. "Just don't send me any more letters signed with Remus' name. I don't want him getting into trouble."
"Right. Bye then."
Tonks let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding when Katherine left. Moody was right about one thing at least – Katherine was definitely one of the strangest people she'd ever met. She sighed and, pulling out her wand to disapparate, tried to shake off the feeling that she'd only just managed to escape with her life.
Make my Christmas: leave feedback!
Last edited by Purple Banana; December 22nd, 2006 at 2:01 am.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Happy New Year! Here's the next update that I was up late last night finishing. Much more fun than Maths revision.
Chapter 34 – Orphanages and absinthe
"Katherine, what do you do all day?"
Katherine looked up from the evening edition of the Daily Prophet and looked blankly at her friend.
"I said, what do you do all day? You're never around but you don't have a job, so where do you go?" asked Nicola, sitting down in the chair opposite her. "And don't say you're working for your father, because Severus says you haven't had an assignment for a while."
Katherine cast a narrowed eye look at Severus, who was sitting at a desk with his back to her.
"Oh he does, does he?" she asked calmly.
"Yes he does," replied Severus, glancing over at her. "The Dark Lord doesn't trust you, Katherine."
"Oh? So he's not completely off his rocker, then?"
Severus gave her an appraising look and returned to his writing.
"Who's in the inner circle now, then?" asked Katherine after a short pause. "If I'm out, and Bella's out, and after what Tom did to Malfoy, I'm guessing he's out, who's in?"
"I'm not in a position to say," said Severus firmly. Katherine laughed.
"Oh give over, Severus. You're his right hand man after Dumbledore." Severus didn't move for a moment, and Nicola shot Katherine a warning look which she ignored. Nicola sighed; she didn't want to be caught up in another of their arguments. She was just trying to decide how best to excuse herself when Severus said quietly:
"Do you want to get back in?" He turned round, gazing at Katherine with eyes like steel.
"You don't think it would be good if he trusted you?"
"I don't need him to trust me."
"You do know he's got everyone watching you, don't you? You still haven't told anyone how you escaped."
"I fail to see why that's important," said Katherine calmly. "I'm out – that's all there is to it."
At that moment the doorbell rang and Nicola jumped up to get it, silently thanking whatever deity might be listening for giving her an escape route. Back in the lounge, Severus cast a dark look at Katherine.
"He'll find out."
"No he won't."
"I didn't mean how you escaped, Katherine."
"Are you sure you covered your tracks?"
Katherine gave him a disparaging look. "No, Severus, I have a death wish. Of course I covered my tracks. How stupid do you think I am?"
"You're not stupid, you're reckless," replied Severus softly, gazing at her. "And if you carry on like this you're going to get caught and then I'd have a serious problem because I'm not entirely sure I can live without you."
Katherine looked up quickly, staring at him with something like surprise in her eyes and Severus was about to say something when Nicola reentered the room, Robert Avery behind her. They both stopped when they saw what they'd walked in on, but Katherine stood up, seemingly determined to ignore Severus and feigned a smile.
"Hi," said Robert uncertainly, glancing at Severus, who was frowning at Katherine pensively. "I found that report you wanted."
Katherine frowned reaching out to take it. "What report?" She opened the brown file and glanced down at its contents. "Oh. That report." She looked again, surprise on her face this time and Robert smiled sourly.
"Yes, I noticed that too."
"St Catherine's?" asked Severus and Katherine hurriedly shut the file, glaring at him. He arched an eyebrow, as though to say that if she was stupid enough to open it in public she couldn't get cross with people for looking over her shoulder at it. "What are you two doing looking up orphanages?" he asked softly, so that only she could hear.
"Never you mind," she answered, smiling at him with that sweet expression that warned against pushing her any farther as he would almost certainly be the one coming off worse from the ensuing argument.
"I have to get back to work," said Robert tactfully, stepping back out into the hallway.
"I'll show you out," added Nicola quickly, hurrying after him.
"I think we keep scaring them away," said Severus quietly in Katherine's ear. She turned around, a guarded expression on her face. "Oh don't give me that look," he said, sighing tiredly. "I'm not going to tell anyone."
"No, because unlike you, I'd very much prefer it if the two of you stayed alive."
"It's not like I try to get myself killed," she snapped back, glaring at him.
"So you don't think this is suicide?"
"I think it's necessary."
Severus heaved a huge sigh and gazed intensely into her eyes. He wasn't going to change her mind and deep down, he didn't really want to.
"If you ever need anything...you know where I am," he said in a soft voice.
"I won't need anything."
He looked at, dark eyes holding her gaze. "I know. But I'll still be here."
"...completely ridiculous!" finished Tonks, throwing her hands up in the air in an exasperated fashion while Remus laughed, pouring her a fresh cup of tea.
"You knew what you were taking on when you joined the Aurors, Tonks," he said, smiling. Tonks glared at him.
"Nowhere in my contract does it say that I have to deal with reckless little hooligans with bad haircuts whose idea of joke is filling the ornamental fountain with muggle washing powder. That is not Auror business – that is caretaker business. We're trying to fight a war and Dawlish's got us tracking down restless teenagers."
Remus laughed again as the doorbell rang, and shook his head, heading back through the hall to the front of the flat. "Maybe he's working up to it, you know, deal with teenagers first and then when you've mastered that, you move onto-" - he opened the door - "-Death Eaters."
"Talking about me?"
"The universe is not centered around you, Katherine. What are you doing here?"
His old friend held up a suspiciously familiar green bottle.
"Ah," he said slowly. "What's happened?"
"Severus is still in love with me."
"And the world is ending – Remus, this is bad."
Remus gave her an appraising look. "Katherine, I thought you were suppose to be smart."
"And you didn't realise he still loved you?"
"Well yeah, but I didn't think he was going to say anything."
"He said he loved you?"
"No, but this is Severus we're talking about and he came very close."
Remus looked at her a moment then said quietly. "I think I'm failing to see the problem here. He loves you, you love him, it's a match made in hell – you'll be on familiar ground."
"I can't – if I tell him how I feel he'll get himself killed trying to protect me."
"Katherine, and by the way, I mean this from the heart, get together with him. Please."
Katherine shot him a venomous look. "Very funny."
"What d'you expect?" asked Remus, arching an eyebrow at her and turning as he heard footsteps behind him.
"Remus, do you have any-" Tonks halted and the cheeky expression on her face faded as she recognised the woman standing at the door. "Oh. It's you."
"No need to sound so happy," remarked Katherine, smiling at her with a look in her eyes that Remus knew he'd seen before but couldn't quite place.
"I'm sorry," replied Tonks with the same sarcastic tilt to her voice. "I should of course be delighted to see the most wanted Death Eater in the country who's putting my boyfriend in danger and who I should really be arresting."
"Why don't you then?" challenged Katherine, half grinning.
"Because people I trust keep telling me how nice you are," answered Tonks, looking slightly dubious. "I'm trying to find out if it's true. I can't do that with you in Azkaban, can I?"
"Who's been saying I'm nice?" asked Katherine, looking hurt.
"My mother, Remus, Faye-"
"Faye doesn't know me, so you can ignore her account."
Tonks looked surprised, glancing uncertainly at Remus. "But she's your cousin-"
"I've met her five times."
"Five times. We've probably spent less than week in each other's company in the entirety of our thirty nine years of existence."
"Is she being serious?" Tonks asked Remus, who was frowning in thought.
"I think..." he paused, and glanced at Katherine. "I know three. Faye hasn't mentioned the other two. What did you do?"
"Me? Why do I have to be the one to do anything?"
"Because it's you."
"Faye doesn't have to tell you everything about herself."
Remus smiled, gazing at her with a look that told her he could see right through her. "No, and I have no doubt there's many things I don't know about her, but she would have told me if she'd met you because she keeps trying to work you out and she thinks I can help."
"You've worked me out?"
"No, but she thinks I have. And I think I'm probably right in saying that out of everyone, I understand you best. Even if understanding is sometimes just accepting a fact, rather than following your logic, because frankly I don't think even you know what you're doing half the time."
Katherine smiled at him. "I know exactly what I'm doing."
Remus made a dubious noise but didn't comment. "Why did you ask Faye not to tell me she'd seen you?"
Katherine looked at him for a long moment, then shrugged and said nonchalantly. "You would have worried."
A flicker of concern crossed Remus' face and he frowned. "Exactly how bad was it?"
"I'm fine, Remus."
"I don't worry about you, Katherine; you are more than capable of taking care of yourself as you have proved countless times in the past, so if you thought I'd be concerned, you must have been hurt rather badly."
"Who said I was hurt?"
"You did," said Remus softly.
"No I didn't."
"You said you were fine – if it had been something to do with your father, you would have said 'it's fine'." Katherine narrowed her eyes, looking irritated and Tonks put her hand on Remus' arm, wondering whether she should try and pacify the situation and then wondering if she was brave enough to interrupt, but Remus only sighed, his gaze not wavering from Katherine's and said calmly: "Glaring at me isn't going to change the fact that you slipped up."
"Look, I'm ok, right. Nine lives, remember."
"Down to six now," replied Remus, frowning.
"Six?" asked Katherine, looking confused.
"Seventh year, Azkaban and this mysterious ailment. Five if you count our last little adventure."
"Six," said Katherine, grinning wickedly. "I would have found some way to escape if dad had actually arrived. Your plan was much better though."
"It wasn't mine, it was Avery's."
"He couldn't have done it without you. Or you for that matter," she added, looking at Tonks.
"Well Rob won't go within a mile of Alastor if he can help it and I can't see Remus finding an excuse to go round and make small talk with him, and you must have got his hair or something somehow, because the Polyjuice wouldn't have worked without it." She smiled, gazing interestedly at Tonks. "As far as I know, you're the only other one who was in on the plan so you would seem like the obvious candidate. I would say thank you but I have a feeling you'd say you were only doing it for Harry. Or Remus, of course." She glanced at Remus and caught the expression on his face. "What?"
"Am I missing something here?" he asked slowly, looking from Katherine to Tonks and back again. "Only you two haven't spoken more than ten words to each other before and now you're... You-" he began again, pointing accusingly at Katherine, "-used to be like this with James. What's going on?"
"I'm not arguing with her," frowned Katherine.
"But that's how I was with James."
"Not towards the end; you were only teasing each other in the end. You stopped arguing properly a little while after you got engaged to Sirius – everyone noticed but no one pointed it out because they were afraid to jinx it, but you'd both changed. I never asked what happened to do that, but now-" He glanced at Tonks, wondering if he'd get any answers from her, but she was looking supremely innocent which meant she was not going to tell him a thing. "-now the same thing's happened between you two. So what am I missing? And don't say nothing."
"Are you going to help me drink this absinthe or not?" Remus glared at her.
"That's not an answer."
"I'm perfectly aware of that fact, but seriously, I may well go blind if I have this entire bottle to myself," said Katherine calmly, gazing at him serenely.
"It's a little early to be drinking, isn't it?" he asked tiredly. Katherine glanced at her watch.
"Ten past twelve? It's not that early."
"Katherine, I haven't even had lunch yet."
Katherine sighed melodramatically and fixed her expressive blue eyes on him. "Will you help if I come back tonight? Please?"
"Will you leave me in peace if I say yes?" Remus asked her, knowing that she knew he was giving in, and not caring.
"Then yes." Katherine grinned.
"Excellent. See you at ten, then." And she disappeared into thin air. Tonks glanced uncertainly at Remus.
"Is she always like that?"
Remus gazed at the spot where his friend had been a moment before, then sighed and shut the door. "Pretty much."
At seven minutes past ten, Archimedes landed outside Remus' kitchen window and tapped on the glass. Remus opened it and took the scrap of rolled up paper from his claws. It was a flyer for some muggle club in London, and for a moment he wondered if Katherine wanted to meet him there, but then he turned it over and saw the familiar handwriting on the back.
Something came up.
He frowned; it wasn't like Katherine to cancel on him. He wondered what the something was; it must be incredibly important if she was prepared to miss an evening of absinthe for it.
A noise in the lounge made him look up from the note and he closed the window and walked in. Tonks stood by the fireplace, brushing soot off her cloak.
"Hi," he said, a little uncertainly. She smiled.
"A little birdie told me you'd been stood up."
"Did it now?" asked Remus, grinning despite himself. That was one thing Katherine had going for her at least: she always had a back up plan. Tonks smiled and pulled a bottle out of her bag, putting on a mock serious face.
"Now, exactly how do you drink this?"
At eleven minutes past ten, Robert Avery looked up from his paperwork and met the gaze of two jewel bright eyes.
"Katherine? I didn't hear you come in – what? Why are you grinning like that?" he frowned, leaning back and studying his friend with light brown eyes. Katherine sat down in the chair opposite him and placed her folded arms on the desk, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
"I've found one."
Feedback would be very much appreciated. *looks hopeful*
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: For anyone who isn't familiar with the term a 'cat's cradle' (which appears in this chapter) it's a game I used to play in junior school (it may just be an English thing, I don't know, which is the reason for this note). You have two people and you to make patterns with a loop of string threaded around your fingers. Yes, I know that's not a very good explanation which is why you should click here for a full description. With illustrations. (Disclaimer: the site the link refers you to is not mine – it's the first site that came up when I typed cat's cradle into google.)
Not really a major point, actually, since it's only a passing reference, but I always find it annoyed when authors refer to something to illustrate something and I haven't got a clue what they're on about, so I thought I'd make sure you weren't confused.
Hope you like the chapter!
Chapter 35 – The light at the end of the tunnel...
"Are you sure about this?" asked Harry, peering into the tunnel that stretched away in front of him. A few meters in it faded to complete darkness and even the torches they'd brought with them didn't provide much in the way of illumination.
He looked up at the ebony haired woman beside him, who was twisting a long loop of thick black thread between her fingers in the manner of a one person version of cat's cradle. Blue eyes flicked up to his face and soft lips curled into a smile.
"Don't you watch the news? Course I'm sure."
He frowned and looked at Hermione, who shrugged and said: "She's got a point. If the horcruxes corrupt things...well, I can't think of anything else in London that stands out more."
"How about the Houses of Parliament?" asked Robert Avery with a distracted look on his face. "I'm sure I saw something about civil unrest in that paper you keep reading." This last comment was directed at Katherine, who sighed heavily.
"Governments are perfectly capable of corrupting themselves without any help from a fraction of Tom's soul, Robert. Just look at our Ministry."
"Yes, but I still don't see why-" Robert began, and this time Katherine pulled one hand out the tangle of twine she was twisting around her fingers and gave him a weary look.
"That's because you've never used London Underground in rush hour. If you had, you'd understand."
"Look, the fact that public transport in London is a bit iffy-" he held up a hand to stem Katherine's protests and continued doggedly "-does not mean that Voldemort planted a horcrux in it."
Katherine shook her head and shared an exasperated look with Hermione. "Firstly, it's not public transport that's the problem – the buses are fine, it's the trains that are a shambles. The highest fares in Europe and quite probably the worst service – delays, break downs, strikes, the wrong kind of snow, commuters packed into carriages like sardines with no air conditioning for hours – seriously, Robert, 'iffy' doesn't quite cover it. There's got to be something else behind it – it can't just be the product of human incompetence – no one's that stupid."
Robert gazed at her, unimpressed, as she continued in a voice that clearly implied she thought they were wasting time. "Secondly, Tom spent a large majority of his life here in London – first at the Orphanage and then again after Hogwarts when he worked in Knockturn Alley. At the time he was making the horcruxes, this city would have been an important part of his life – he was born here, he got his magical awakening here and he would have used the trains to get to Kings Cross – his route to Hogwarts – probably the only place he's ever been happy. London is very important – the trains especially so."
"Well that's all well and good but you're missing one very important factor here, Katherine," said Robert, leaning against the grimy brick wall of the tube line, and looking dubiously at his old friend.
"The reason he liked Hogwarts so much was because he was miserable here – he hated London."
To his eternal bemusement, Katherine grinned.
"All the more reason to corrupt the trains. Think about it – making people's lives hell for a couple of hours every day of the working week for their entire working life – that's clever. He can't be out slaughtering muggles all the time, but this-" She gestured around the darkened station, that one movement of her arm encompassing the gloomy, enclosed platform and the dirt that permeated everything, product of a thousand peoples' sweat and frustration from the past century, that was ingrained into the very essence of structure. "-this is genius. He's killing thousands – a tiny bit at a time.
"Besides," she added, shrugging a little and assuming a lighter tone of voice. "Hate is basically the same as love when you get right down to it. It's indifference that's the worst – that hurts most, because it means that you don't care – that you don't even notice. At least if you hate someone you're recognising that they exist."
"Somehow I don't think the muggles would object to him being indifferent," remarked Robert, shaking his head. "Something tells me they'd prefer it."
"Of course they would," agreed Katherine. "But the fact is that he does care what happens to them because he hates them, and that means he wants to harm them, which means-"
"-he's put a horcrux under London," finished Hermione, firmly. "Because if he lived here most of his life then muggle Londoners are the ones he has most reason to hate because they're the ones he knows." She smiled faintly at Katherine. "The rest of them he hates on principle but is pretty much indifferent to."
Katherine grinned, dark eyes showing admiration. "Smart girl. I knew there was a reason I liked you." She looked over at Robert, eyebrows raised. "Convinced yet?"
"No," he said softly. "Because like I said back at the house, why here? London, ok – trains, maybe - but why here? Why not Kings Cross?"
"Because horcruxes radiate dark power and Dumbledore would have noticed it. Besides, he doesn't want to harm Hogwarts or Slytherin students. Where would his recruits come from?"
"And the diary was his link to the school in terms of location," said Harry quietly. "It was the key to opening the Chamber of Secrets and unleashing Slytherin's monster on the muggleborns. The locket marked where he first terrorised his muggle companions. There's definitely a connection with making people suffer."
"But why here? Why this station? It's not even the nearest to his orphanage."
"No, but it's got the highest suicide rate of the entire network, so I thought it might be a good starting point," said Katherine without a trace of insincerity, resuming her methodical weaving of the black thread between her hands. Harry saw Hermione blanche and look uneasily around her, clutching at Ron's arm, and gaze at the metal tracks on which she stood as though expecting to see some trace of the lives lost here.
He looked down at the tracks too, and then at the rubber soled shoes Katherine had insisted they wear. She's assured them the electricity would be switched off at night for track maintenance, but he was still wary of the two live lines that ran parallel to the metal coasters the trains travelled along.
The dark hole that was the mouth to the tube gaped menacingly in front of him, a black abyss that beckoned like Pandora's box, drawing him in.
"Dumbledore had a scar on his left knee that was a map of the London Underground," he said suddenly, surprising even himself. Katherine paused in the middle of pulling a section of black thread through a diamond shaped hole she'd managed to create with the loop of string to look strangely at him, a bewildered expression on her face and Hermione gave a half laugh, glad of something to distract her from the oppressive knowledge that people had died on these tracks.
Ron just stared at him and asked carefully: "How do you know that?"
"Sirius told me," answered Harry, tearing his gaze away from the mocking darkness. "He said he thought he was joking but Moody heard him, and said it was true." He looked back at Katherine who was considering him critically. She gave a small smile and shrugged.
"Probably was. Surprised that fact didn't make it onto the Chocolate Frogs cards, though."
"Do you think Voldemort knows?"
"He might do," said Katherine, appearing to think about it. "That kind of thing would be right up his street – Dumbledore's a got a map to his horcrux on knee and he still can't find it. It'd make him feel he'd got one over on his old teacher."
"Now that," said Robert deliberately, disengaging himself from the wall he'd been leaning against and smiling lazily, "Is a reason."
Katherine cast him a look that was somewhere between exasperation and contempt. "Now you think it's a good place to find a horcrux? I give you plenty of perfectly grounded reasons for Tom hiding a horcrux here, and only now that you find out Dumbledore had a weird scar do you think I might be right?"
Robert smiled enigmatically. "Everything you said made perfect sense, but nothing about your reasons marked this out as special. The Dark Lord's hatred for muggles is powerful but generic – his desire to get one up on Dumbledore, on the other hand - that is something I can believe in."
Katherine gazed at him for a while, aristocratic face studiously blank, then she rolled her eyes, making a few final deft movements with her fingers, and grinning with satisfaction. She caught Harry's confused frown and winked, disentangling her hands from the knotted mass of black thread and pocketing it.
Harry's gaze switched from Katherine to Robert at the sound of the man's voice. What on earth did he mean by that? Katherine nodded towards the tunnel on Harry's right.
"Down there. About half a mile along. Not sure which side, but there's definitely some sort of dark magic down there." She dug two torches out of the bag that was slung over her shoulder and threw one to Robert who stared at it, looking a little lost. "Press the button on the top," said Katherine softly, shaking her head slightly. Robert threw her an irked look and did so, directing the powerful beam into the dark of the tunnel.
"Come on then," said Katherine, looking over her shoulder at the trio. "Only three hours before the next train comes along and I don't know how long it's going to take us to find the entrance."
Reluctantly, the three teenagers switched their torches on and trudged after the two retreating figures. Harry glanced at his watch in the dim light before the tunnel and saw she was right – it was gone 2 am already.
There was silence in the tunnel save for the sound of dully echoing footsteps and Harry took the opportunity to try and sort through the last few hectic hours in his head. He'd been upstairs with Ron when the note had arrived, the paper she'd given him glowing gold to get his attention.
Meet us at Kings Cross in half an hour.
Wear rubber soled shoes.
When he'd asked why, her answer had simply been:
We've found one.
He had the feeling she'd thought it was obvious.
She'd explained at Kings Cross, handing them all orange rimmed tickets and they'd followed her onto the last train, hoping she knew what she was doing. When he'd asked her why she was so keen to find it tonight she just shrugged and asked 'why not?'. He pointed out that they could have had a good nights sleep and prepared and she'd smiled slyly and asked whether he would have been able to sleep knowing what might face them the following day.
"Besides, how were you intending to prepare?" she'd added, drawing long black hair into a pony tail as the train slowed down approaching the next station. "If it's skill you want, me and Rob have it in buckets. You don't have to worry on that score."
He was well aware of that fact, thought Harry as he cast the beam of light from the torch over the curved stone wall. He just wasn't entirely sure she intended to use it to help him. He wasn't planning on telling her that, though; she seemed to approve of him distrusting her – another example of her seemingly fragile grasp on sanity, because for all her intelligence and beauty and fierce loyalty, she was mad, bordering on insane, and he kept wondering why no one else seemed to notice.
Maybe she'd been like that before Azkaban, he mused, or maybe they just mistook the look in those enigmatic eyes for something else.
Or maybe, he thought, looking at the indistinct figures ahead of him, they knew and just didn't mention it. For some reason, this theory seemed to fit best with the way people acted around her, but he couldn't for the life of him work out why. If Ron or Hermione had ever looked at him with eyes like hers he'd have been seriously worried, but even Remus didn't seem anxious about her state of mind.
The figures ahead of him had stopped, and as the trio drew nearer, Ron and Hermione talking in low voices, he saw them examining a stretch of wall intently.
"Here?" asked Robert in a low voice and Harry saw her run her hands over the wall and nod.
"You can feel magic?" asked Hermione, watching her intently. Katherine grinned, and fished the black loop of string out of her pocket again.
"What is that?" asked Harry, frowning deeply. He'd never seen anyone else use something like that at Hogwarts.
"This?" asked Katherine, holding up the loop. "This is black twine, Potter. From the kitchen drawer." She hooked the string over her fingers and pulled it into a pattern, examining it with narrowed eyes.
"You're using twine to try and find a horcrux?"
"Well it was a little short notice to find any dragon heartstrings," murmured Katherine, in a voice that made Harry think she was being sarcastic. He frowned again and looked at his friends who were standing just behind him.
"It does work," whispered Hermione softly. "It's a form of scrying – using thread to locate magic, but humans don't usually use it."
"Why? Is it unreliable?" he asked, glancing back at Katherine and starting to doubt that she'd been joking.
"No, it's hard," answered Hermione. "Centaurs do it sometimes, when stargazing fails but it's really difficult to see the patterns. It's supposed to take years of practice to even be able to see the obvious ones and if this is dark magic, it's going to be very complicated."
"Yeah well, she's had years, hasn't she?" put in Ron, surveying Katherine dubiously. "She was in Azkaban for over ten years – that's plenty of time to learn something."
"Don't be ridiculous, Ron, she wouldn't have been able to learn in there, would she? Her cell was bricked up and everyone thought she was dead. How on earth is she supposed to have learnt it there?"
Ron conceded this point but Harry said softly: "Yeah, that's another thing that doesn't fit."
"She's mental," Harry pointed out. "You can see that, can't you?"
"Well yeah, but it's not the kind of crazy that harms anyone but her," said Ron and Harry stared at him, considering this insight. Ron went red and shrugged self consciously under the gazes of his friends. "Well it's not, is it? She's just kind of balanced on the line between sanity and lunacy but I think it'd take something huge to push her over it."
And that, thought Harry, was what he'd missed. That was reason no one said anything – they did know, of course they knew, they couldn't miss it, but they kept quiet because however thin the line she was treading, Katherine wouldn't fall off – she wouldn't let herself and her friends knew that. Which rather begged the question of why they were so sure. As usual, an answer was replaced by another question; it was starting to get a little repetitive.
"What was it that didn't fit?" asked Hermione, bringing Harry out of his musings. He looked at her for a moment, trying to reassemble his thoughts then said:
"I can't see her sitting in a cell doing nothing for a decade. Can you?"
Hermione didn't get the chance to reply however, because at that moment a light flared behind them, shedding eerie purple light over the five figures and illuminating the tunnel. They turned to see what had caused it and Harry heard Hermione's sharp intake of breath as she laid eyes on the twisting line of violet that writhed above Katherine's hands.
"What is that?" she breathed, grabbing Ron's hand unconsciously.
"The spell that's keeping this door shut," muttered Katherine, eyes narrowed to slits against the bright light emanating from the spell.
"But it's alive," said Ron uneasily. "Spells aren't-"
"No?" asked Katherine, casting a sideways glance at him. "Why'd you think they fade over time, then? They don't just disappear, they die."
"But what? But you wouldn't have used them if you'd known? I said they were alive, Granger, I never said they could think. They're not sentient, they're just – there. Like a tree. You know it's a living organism but you don't have any qualms about chopping it into firewood."
"But you can't kill spells," said Ron quietly, frowning at Katherine.
"So this is just a figment of my imagination is it?" asked Katherine, jerking her hands apart and ripping the writhing line into fragments that seemed to go supernova and then wink out. "Nice illusion," she muttered in the sudden darkness as Robert fumbled for his torch and switched it back on.
"Can we get in now?" he asked, peering dubiously at the nondescript wall, blackened by dirt and grime.
"Mmm," murmured Katherine, placing a hand on the wall, her forehead creasing in a frown. "Hope so."
Harry edged closer to her and cast a weary eye over the brickwork. She glanced at him, and he looked back at her defiantly.
"How can you tell it's there? Apart from that spell, I mean," he asked, curious despite himself. Dumbledore had managed to find that chain for the boat without being able to see it and he presumed Katherine was using similar skills here. Blue eyes studied him critically for a moment, then she grabbed his wrist and held with hand against the wall.
"Do you feel that?"
"A kind of thrumming?" he asked, feeling the bricks tremor beneath his fingers.
"That's magic?" he asked, glancing up at her.
"That's the reason the entrance is here," she replied, releasing his wrist and pulling out her wand with a look of deepest concentration on her face.
"So magic gives out vibrations or something, does it?"
He frowned, letting his hand drop from the wall and looked at her in confusion. "But the bricks are trembling."
"It's not magic," said Katherine dully.
"And it's not just the bricks," said a small voice behind him. He glanced around to see Hermione, looking pale and worried in the torchlight. "I really think we ought to be getting in there now."
"Why?" asked Harry, though he thought he already knew. He could feel the ground beneath his feet shuddering even as he spoke and the constant air currents along the tracks seemed to have picked up speed. He looked in alarm at Katherine. "I thought you said trains didn't run at night."
"I said nothing of the sort. There are always maintenance trains in the shut down hours – when else are they going to repair the tracks?"
"But the power's not on," said Ron desperately as Katherine cast a few idle shapes with her wand, leaving small trails of light in the darkness. "Dad said trains can't run without electricity."
"They're battery powered – go about half the speed of the normal ones," Katherine murmured, flicking her wand with a decisive stroke and examining her handiwork. Harry had barely spared a glance for the glowing lines but now they were hard to ignore. The ancient letters flared gold and exploded, leaving afterimages on his eyes and a dark shadow on the wall behind them.
No, not a shadow – darkness.
Darkness where a wall should be.
He stood still before the mouth of a tunnel into the unknown and wondered how on earth he had expected to be able to hunt down horcruxes on his own.
"Impressive," muttered Robert and Harry saw Katherine grin and roll her eyes, having caught the sarcastic inflection in her friend's voice.
"Is it safe?" asked Hermione, looking nervously at the dark entrance, but no one had a chance to answer because at that moment the gloom to their right suddenly grew a lot lighter very quickly and the distant rumbling that had been growing steadily louder for the past thirty seconds burst upon their ears as the late night maintenance train rounded the bend in the track and bore down on them.
Well? Did you like it?
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And a there's cookie for the first person who gets why I chose this particular chapter title in light of how it ended.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Only one thing to say, really, and that is:
Chapter 36 – Darkness and light
Then he blinked again.
The darkness remained.
Slowly, feeling his way with his hand, he sat up and managed to locate his wand. He lit it and scanned the area around him cautiously, afraid of what he'd find. The last thing he remembered was someone grabbing him by the collar and hurling him into the arch of darkness, and then he was falling and then...and then?
The light from his wand found a leg, clothed in dark jeans. Who had been wearing jeans?
He scrambled over and the light illuminated jet black hair falling over a white face. He nudged Katherine and she raised a hand to shield her eyes from the light.
"Are you ok?" he asked, lowering his wand.
"I think I've dislocated my shoulder."
"You're going to have to put it back."
"What?" he stared at her and she sat up, wincing. "I can't do that."
"Well there isn't anyone else around, so you're going to have to."
"Can't we find the oth-"
"Harry, this really hurts." Harry looked at her for a moment, then nodded, swallowing hard.
"Ok. What do I have to do?"
"Pull my arm; it should just sort of, pop back into place."
"Are you sure?"
"No, but exactly how many physiotherapists do you expect to find down here? Just try it. Please?"
Harry put down his wand and did as she instructed, trying to not grimace as he felt the joint slid back into position. Katherine let out a deep breath and Harry heard her fall back onto the floor. He reached for his wand again and lit it in the darkness.
"Ok now?" he asked quietly. She nodded, eyes closed.
"Can you move it?" She wiggled her fingers gingerly.
"A bit. Probably needs strapping up. Have you seen the others?"
"No. We did all make it, didn't we?" One blue eye opened and looked up at him solemnly.
"Robert's got a five year old daughter and I can't go telling Cass I've got her husband killed. She'd never forgive me. Don't much fancy seeing Remus' face if Weasley or Granger snuffed it, either." She grimaced, sitting up slowly, feeling her left shoulder tentatively. "So yes, they must be alive. They can't not be."
"Right. Just a matter of finding them, then." He scanned the surrounding area with his wand and found they were in some sort of stone tunnel, carved out of the rock. The tunnel seemed to start where they sitting and stretched away in front of them beyond the reach of wandlight. He wondered how they got there – he certainly recalled dropping quite a long way yet there was no hole above them that they could have fallen through.
"It sealed itself." He looked around to see Katherine watching him.
"Can we get back out?"
"Not this way." She stood and reached above their heads with her good arm, tracing her fingertips lightly over the rock. "One way ticket, I'm afraid." She glanced at him, apparently trying to decide something, and then nodded her head upwards. "Put your hand up."
"There's magic there?" he asked, with more than a little scepticism in his voice. She tilted her head to one side, thinking about it.
"Not exactly. Magic residue. That's what it is. Feel." He reached up uncertainly, touching the cold rock, but she shook her head. "Not the rock, just below it." He looked dubiously at her but lowered his hand slightly, fingers hovering a few millimeters away from the low ceiling of the tunnel.
"I don't-" And then he felt it. A peculiar sensation, like a million tiny strands of smoke brushing against his fingertips. "That's magic?" He half smiled at her expression. "Sorry, magic residue."
"What do you think?"
"I think you're going to say it's air currents, and it means we're about to get burnt to a crisp by a magma flare or something," he said, letting his hand fall to his side and looking challengingly at her. Katherine laughed, eyes glinting wickedly.
"Sorry to disappoint you, Potter, but there isn't much magma under London – not at this depth, anyway."
"So it is magic residue?"
"Yes. It's fading, but judging by the rate of decay, we haven't been down here long. Not if it sealed up right after we arrived, anyway."
"You could have just checked your watch to find that out," said Harry, peering at his own one.
"I broke it when I landed," answered Katherine, peering into the deep darkness that lay ahead of them. "I wonder why it split us up," she added, almost to herself.
Harry glanced at her, realising she'd changed the topic then looked back at his own watch, leaving her to her musings. Then he frowned, tapping it uncertainly.
Katherine looked round at him, then bent down and felt on the floor for her satchel.
"I don't think it's just your watch. No muggle technology seems to be working down here; no doubt that's deliberate."
Harry looked at the dead torch in her hand without really seeing it, his brain still catching up with the last thing she'd said.
"What split us up?" he asked abruptly, looking expectantly at her.
"The gateway," she answered, lifting the bag gently onto her right shoulder and pulling out her own wand. "Must have. I was holding onto your two friends when I went through, then they got pulled away from me, and the next thing I know, you're shining a light in my face and my shoulder's hurting like the blazes."
"Yeah, different directions too. That's not good." She sighed heavily and glanced back at him. "Come on then. Can't go back, so the only option is forward."
"Why would it spilt us up?" asked Harry, falling into step beside her.
"Don't know. More importantly, why keep us two together? What have we got in common that the others haven't?" She waved her wand in a complicated shape and an softly glowing golden orb flew from it's tip to hang in the air before them, lighting the way. Harry put his own light out and tightened the hold on his wand; if something was waiting for them he was going to be ready for it.
"Orphans?" he ventured, in answer to her question.
"But I'm not an orphan, not really," she said slowly. "If that was it, you'd have woken up with Robert beside you, not me. Might be something to do with family, though. I mean, there's only so many ways you can divide people with spells."
"But we're not related," objected Harry, giving her an odd look.
"Not through blood, but you can speak Parseltongue, Harry, and you shouldn't have been able to feel that magic, not at your age, not without practice."
"What are you getting at?" asked Harry, starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. Katherine glanced sideways at him.
"No Gryffindor has ever been able to commune with snakes before. That's a Slytherin trait – not because it's evil, it's not, but because Salazar was a Parselmouth. It's his descendants that can speak it, and you are not his descendant, believe me. There are only two known descendants of Slytherin left on earth and I'm one of them. I'd know if you were."
"You think my link with Voldemort made it put me with you?" he asked, looking resolutely up at her.
"I never said you were linked, just that-" She paused, turning her head to consider him through slightly narrowed eyes. "You said link. Why did you say link?"
"No one told you?"
"Told me what?"
Harry looked at her for a moment, then, with a certain amount of hesitation, explained about the dreams he'd had over the past few years and about his scar hurting whenever Voldemort was having particularly strong emotions. When he had finished, Katherine was quiet, a thoughtful look on her face.
"You really didn't know?" he asked curiously; she seemed to practically be an expert on everything else.
"Was that why Severus taught you Occlumency? To keep Tom out of your head?" she asked slowly.
"How do you know about that?" asked Harry, face dark. If she'd been consorting with Snape...
"Just something Bella said when I was posing as you," replied Katherine, appearing not to notice his changed countenance. "Said that Snape had told her you weren't very good at it."
"Why would she say that?"
"Because she tried to use Legilimens on me and I happen to be very good at it," said Katherine, a hint of a smirk tugging at her lips.
"She got thrown across the room," replied Katherine, grinning at him. "So she probably won't be trying that one again in a hurry."
"I never did ask," he said quietly. "Why did you do that?"
"Take your place?" she asked, and he nodded. "Because Remus asked me to."
"Do you do everything he asks you?"
"Yes, most things." She half smiled to herself. "Most of the time."
He was about to ask what exactly she meant by this when the walls of the tunnel suddenly fell away and revealed a large chamber before them. Cautiously, they stepped out into it and Katherine flicked her wand at the orb that had lit their way so that it disappeared. One look ahead of them told him why.
"What is that?" he asked in an awed voice.
"Not entirely sure."
He exhaled slowly, looking up at the seething mass of white gold light that twisted up in front of them.
"Just how big d'you think this place is?"
Katherine tore her gaze away from the pillar of churning light and cast an eye around the chamber.
"About the size of St Paul's Cathedral? Bit bigger, maybe?"
"And all this is under London?"
"So it would appear. Might be under St Paul's, come to think of it."
"Or the Houses of Parliament?" he asked nonchalantly. Katherine glanced sideways at him, trying not to grin and failing.
"Or the Houses of Parliament," she agreed.
Katherine and Harry turned towards the voice and saw two figures in the distance, illuminated by the ethereal light.
"See, told you they weren't dead," she smiled, starting to walk towards them.
"I can't see Hermione," said Harry, frowning.
"No, but they were pulled in different directions, like I said," murmured Katherine thoughtfully. "I wonder..."
"Well he used blood last time, didn't he? That's what you said? Blood to open the door?"
"So maybe he used it again this time – to split us up. The Avery's are as about as pure blooded as you can get and Weasleys are notorious for being blood traitors, so if they were together..."
"And we're both half bloods," Harry realised.
"Just about," agreed Katherine. "Not pure, anyway."
"But Hermione's muggleborn," said Harry suddenly. "She'd be left on her own."
"Looks like it."
"We have to find her!"
Katherine nodded as Ron and Robert reached them.
"Have you seen Hermione?" asked Ron, an anxious look on his face.
"No, but don't worry; we'll find her," answered Harry as Ron ran a hand frantically through his red hair. "What happened to you, anyway?" he added, casting an eye over his friend's dishevelled appearance; his clothes were torn and there were scratches covering his face and lower arms.
"Met a couple of Manes," muttered Robert, looking sagely at Katherine. "You don't look any the worse for wear, though."
"Nothing attacked us," replied Katherine, giving a one shouldered shrug. "Hurt my shoulder when I fell though."
Robert frowned and raised an eyebrow when she pulled her shirt across so they could see the swelling.
"It's not healing?" he asked in a concerned tone.
"It's not a direct blood injury," said Katherine. "Only cuts and poison heal quickly."
"Damn," sighed Robert. "You got a sling in that bag of yours?"
"Probably." Robert took the bag and rummaged through it till he found one, then helped her put it on.
"Where'd you think Hermione is?" asked Ron, watching Robert distractedly.
"There must be another entrance somewhere," replied Robert. "If we came through one, and you to came through another one-" he was cut off by the sound of screaming.
"No, wait!" Katherine yelled, but it was too late; Harry and Ron were already running across the cavern towards the source of the noise. Robert sighed, tying the sling firmly in place.
"Think you can run with one arm? Not going to be too unbalanced?" he asked, giving her a half amused look.
"I'm always unbalanced, Rob," she smiled back, turning to follow the boys. "I thought you knew that already." Robert grinned and ran after her, only slowing when he saw what had made Hermione scream.
"Inferi," he whispered, more out of shock than fear.
"Makes sense," replied Katherine, drawing her wand. "Nothing for me and Harry, because Tom's half blood and he doesn't want to be assaulted if he comes to check on his horcruxes, Manes for you, because at least you're pure blood, and Inferi for muggleborns, because they don't belong here."
"Do they know how much danger she's in?" Katherine looked sideways at him, a pensive expression on her face.
"That's not fair, Katherine."
"No? You didn't join for the social aspect, Rob," she replied softly as Harry turned his head to look at them.
"Fire's not working!"
"Maybe it's not hot enough," answered Katherine, catching sight of the brown haired girl at last; she was backed into a corner, Inferi advancing slowly.
"Do something," yelled Ron, trying to hex the nearest figures to no avail.
"Would fornax be strong enough, d'you think?" asked Robert, advancing on the assembly of living dead. "Katherine?" He glanced round and saw her standing where they'd stopped, not moving. "Katherine, what are you doing?"
Blue eyes flickered vaguely over to his face, and then she turned away, arms wrapped protectively around herself. Behind him, Hermione screamed again and he felt a hand tug at his arm. He looked around into Ron's desperate eyes and suddenly figured out what Katherine had seen the first time she saw Harry's friends together.
Putting Katherine's odd behaviour out of his head for the moment, he shot a stream of white hot fire into the middle of the crowd, which shrank back instantly, flinching away from the heat and light. Ron ran forward and grabbed Hermione by the hand, pulling her towards the others, and Robert cast a quick shield charm to stop the Inferi reaching them.
"Thanks," said Harry quietly by his side. Robert looked down at him, almost surprised.
"What's up with her?" asked Ron softly, resting his chin gently on Hermione's head as she hung onto him, trembling slightly. Robert followed his gaze and saw Katherine hunched on the floor, head resting in her hands. He frowned, and called out to her but got no response. He sighed and walked over to her, crouching down before on the ground and surveying her critically.
"What just happened there?" he asked, frowning slightly; she didn't usually freeze in the face of danger. "Katherine? Come on, say something, you're starting to scare me."
And then she raised her head and looked at him with eyes like black holes and suddenly he realised just how much trouble they were in.
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Last edited by Purple Banana; February 3rd, 2007 at 12:31 am.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Sorry this chapter's a bit late, it was rather hard to write, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. Hope it lives up to expectations.
Chapter 37 – Breaking point
Harry glanced at Ron, who looked just as nonplussed as him. Cautiously, he walked over to where Robert was.
"Is she ok?" Robert looked up at him, brown eyes betraying his fear.
"What's wrong with her?"
"I don't know." He ran a shaky hand through short blond hair and swallowed hard. "We've got to get her out of here."
"But the entrance sealed up behind us," said Harry, casting an eye around the dark chamber. "And we haven't seen any other exit."
"Well we're going to have to find one," said Robert quietly, reaching out a gentle hand and brushing the hair away from Katherine's face. "Katherine? Can you hear me? We're going to get you out, ok? Don't you go giving up on me, all right?"
"Uh, Robert?" Robert looked up, scowling at Hermione.
"What?" Hermione gestured nervously towards the Inferi and he swore; the shield charm was fading and the group was advancing. "You three get back," he ordered, pulling out his wand and glancing anxiously at Katherine, still huddled on the floor. He needed to get her out now and find Remus or Severus or someone who could get through to her before she withdrew completely, because if that happened...well, he remembered only too well what she was like last time and he still didn't know how she'd snapped out of it then..
He got to his feet and faced the crowd of Inferi, trying to work out how many of them there were; twenty at least, he guessed. There wasn't any more time to waste, however, because they were getting nearer and Katherine wasn't in any state to move, so he drew back his wand, ready to fight, but just as he did so, someone blocked his path.
He looked into eyes as dark as midnight and fought the urge to take step back. She had her wand pointed at his heart.
"Put your wand away."
"Do it. Now."
"But-" he faltered under the gaze of those eyes but didn't lower his wand. "Katherine listen to me, we're going to get you out of here but we need to destroy them first."
"If you don't put your wand away within the next five seconds I will make you do it, and you really don't want that."
"Fine, you want to kill me, then do it," he challenged, glaring at her. "I'd rather be killed by you than by them."
"They won't kill you," said Katherine evenly, in that same dead voice. "Not if you run."
"Run? Run where? There's nowhere to go and they'll keep coming after us – they don't give up. We've got to get rid of them now."
"Why not? What the hell's wrong with you?" he yelled, gaze flicking nervously to the group who were only a few feet away now.
"You so much as lay a finger on them and I'll kill you."
"Katherine, they're already dead, what does it matter what happens to them?" he pleaded, edging away as the nearest Inferi reached out a shriveled hand towards them.
"No," whispered Katherine softly, and he thought he saw tears glistening in her dark eyes, "they're not."
"They're not dead. Look at their eyes, Robert, they're not dead. He used Inopia and made them Inferi and stuck them down here where no one will ever find them and they're not dead." She was crying now, tears running unchecked down her pale face and her next words were said so quietly that he nearly missed them. "And it's my fault."
"No," he said fiercely. "It's not-"
"I made it up," she shouted at him, eyes blazing with fury and hurt and despair. "I told him there were things worse than death and I made it up to prove it and now he's gone and used it against me."
Behind Katherine, the mass of Inferi had stopped, pressed up against an invisible wall and in the light emanating from the white gold pillar behind him, he could see the faint outline of shield charm. He frowned and saw Katherine's eyes dart over his shoulder; curious, he followed her gaze and saw the three teenagers with their wands out, maintaining it. Maybe they weren't so useless after all.
He returned his attention to Katherine, her last words ringing alarm bells in his head.
Katherine just looked at him, eyes burning with hurt and hatred. He frowned, surveying the ranks of Inferi behind her, trying to search the rotting faces for one he knew, because that was what she meant – she knew one of the undead standing there, clawing at the barrier that prevented them going any further, and if he didn't do something about it soon, she was going to go back to that state of barely controlled insanity that she'd slipped into after becoming a Death Eater and this time he wasn't sure she'd be able to come back.
"We've got to kill them," he said at last, and she shook her head violently.
"Yes," he said firmly. "We can't leave them like this, you know that."
"But I can't..." she trailed off, squeezing her eyes shut in an attempt to stem the flow of tears. "I can't," she said softly, shrugging her good shoulder. "Not her."
"I'll do it-"
"No." She shook her head, taking a deep breath. "No." She looked up at him, searching his face earnestly. "Did you mean it? That you'd rather be killed by me?"
"Yes," he replied quietly. "If I had to be killed, I'd rather it was someone I knew. Someone who was doing what had to be done because it was the best thing to do." She smiled sourly at this.
"You sound like Reg."
"Regulus?" he asked, frowning, but she'd already turned away towards the Inferi.
"When I say go, drop the shield charm and run," she said softly, glancing back over her shoulder at the trio. "Understand? Get as far away as you can. You too, Rob."
There was a slight pause, then Harry glanced at Ron and Hermione and nodded. Katherine looked at Robert, who held her gaze for a moment, deliberating.
"Are you sure about this?"
"I don't have very much choice, do I?"
"I told you, I could-"
"She's my mother, Robert. I'm doing it." Robert's eyes widened and he looked again at the ranks of the half dead, trying to discern a female with black hair or blue eyes but finding none. "Adoptive," murmured Katherine, gazing soberly at him.
"Right," he said quietly. "Ok."
Katherine watched him for a moment, then turned around, wand raised.
Robert felt the blast of heat from twenty meters away but kept running. The trio were just ahead of him, running flat out towards the other side of the chamber. They didn't stop till the reached the smooth stone and collapsed on the floor, gasping for breath. Robert leant on the wall, almost bent double and tried not to be sick.
"D'you think she's all right?" asked Ron eventually. "I mean, that spell – if we could feel it-"
"She can protect herself," said Robert softly, peeling himself away from the wall and looking at the young boy.
"But did she want to?" asked Hermione quietly, sitting hunched on the floor, knees drawn up to her chin. Robert looked sharply at her, frowning.
"She won't rest till the Dark Lord's gone."
"Is it safe to go back?" asked Harry, standing up shakily and squinting in the direction of the pillar of light.
"What else is there to do?" replied Robert heavily. Slowly, the four of them made their way back in silence. Robert wondered if he'd done the right thing, leaving her to deal with things on her own, but he deep down knew he'd had very little choice. If he'd tried to stay, she would have used Imperius or something to make him leave. She was in that sort of mood.
By the time they'd walked back to where the Inferi had stood, Katherine had gone. Robert looked around but couldn't see her anywhere.
"She's not-?" Hermione trailed off, gesturing helplessly towards the piles of ash littering the ground.
"'Course not," muttered Robert, trying to sound confident. Katherine wouldn't give up like that, she wouldn't. She'd want revenge on her father for what he'd done and that might make her reckless, but she'd make sure she didn't die. He looked towards the central pillar of churning light again, half raising a hand to shield his eyes, and then he saw her. A small dark figure, silhouetted against the glow. Hurriedly, he made his way over to her, slowing as he approached.
She was crouched on the floor, peering closely at the glimmering light. He was about to say something, but she got there before him.
"It's ether." He started, staring at her.
"Ether," she looked up at him and his heart sank when he saw the look in her eyes. He had hoped she might have recovered a little with the Inferi gone but if anything she seemed worse; now she was just hiding it better. "It was a concept of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. You could call it the fifth element." She smiled, ticking them off on her hand, "Fire, water, earth, air and ether. It's how he's protecting his horcruxes." She looked past him as the trio trailed up, looking understandably nervous. "The locket was in the middle of a lake, wasn't it, Harry?"
Harry nodded, glancing uncertainly at her; she smiled brightly.
"Right, so that's water, and Ravenclaw's statue was on a plinth underneath Riddle's tomb, with no way to reach it except by flying – that's air. And Dumbledore found Salazar's ring in the Gaunt's old house, yes?"
"Yeah," agreed Harry. "But he didn't say where it was – just that it was protected."
"So we don't know that one for sure, but I'd be willing to bet rather a large amount that it was buried." Katherine grinned again, and Harry couldn't help but feel there was something wrong about that smile. "So that's earth, yes? Which leaves fire and ether, and this definitely isn't fire."
"But there are six horcruxes to hide," said Hermione nervously. "And there's only five elements."
"Yes, but he was keeping the diary out in the open, right?" said Katherine patiently. "He wanted it where he could see it - that's what I'd do. If I was splitting up my soul and hiding bits all over the place, I'd keep one near me for safe keeping. After all, I don't want someone's coming along and destroying all of them without me knowing, do I? I'd want the last one where I could see it, so even if all the others are broken, I'd know I was safe until that one went, and I could prepare – maybe make another one."
"So he's keeping an eye on Nagini, now?" asked Ron, brow creasing into a frown. "Because he knows the diary was destroyed?" Katherine nodded, squinting thoughtfully at the pillar.
"That's why once we've killed her, we've got to go after him straight away so he doesn't have a chance to get ready."
"That also means there's a spare hiding place," said Robert quietly. "There might not be a horcrux, here, Katherine. Not if it was where he planned to keep the snake."
Katherine looked steadily at him for a long moment, then turned back to the pillar without saying anything. He frowned, wondering what she'd do if this trip turned out to be for nothing, then Harry asked quietly:
"What exactly is ether?"
"It's supposed to be what the heavens are made of," answered Katherine softly, sitting back and gazing serenely up at the seething pillar. "It doesn't exist, not really, not as Aristotle thought anyway, but... Well, this is what it would be if it did exist." She smiled faintly. "It's Greek – really should be aether, with an 'a', meaning 'that which is ablaze'."
"How do we get past it?" asked Robert, eyeing it doubtfully.
"Don't know," replied Katherine cheerfully, getting to her feet. "I guess we just walk through it."
"Is that possible?" She looked at him, lips curling into a smile that didn't reach her eyes.
"Only one way to find out."
And she stepped through. Robert swore loudly, darting after her and trying to catch her hand but she was gone before he'd gone more than a few paces. He looked back at the trio who were looking worried at him and sighed heavily wondering what on earth had possessed him to make friends with her.
"There doesn't seem to be any other way out," said Harry quietly, studying the pillar of light critically. "Maybe it's just a test of nerve."
"And maybe it's not," said Robert brusquely. "We don't know anything about ether – I've never come across it and the only person who seemed to have any idea about it is stark raving mad because she's just been forced to kill her own mother."
"So all in all, not one of our better days, huh?" said Ron quietly, after a long pause. Robert looked sharply at him, and he shrugged. "Look, like Harry said, it's not like we've got much choice and so what if we don't know about ether? Katherine said it's not meant to exist so it's not like we could have prepared anyway – there's probably not a lot known about it."
"But there might be something-" began Robert, before he was cut off by Hermione.
"Hogwarts has got one of the best collection of magical books in Europe and I've never seen anything about it there."
"And you've read every book in the library, I suppose?"
"When we found out about the horcruxes I went through all of the restricted section looking for information and we never came across ether when we were researching for Harry's Triwizard Tournament tasks, either." She looked defiantly up at him, face pale but determined. "So yes, together we have read a large majority of the books in there."
"And you said yourself she won't rest till she's destroyed Voldemort," reminded Harry. "She may be mental but she's not stupid."
"Of course she's not stupid, but you don't know what she was like last time," said Robert through gritted teeth. "Intelligence has nothing to do with it. Bellatrix is clever but that doesn't stop her being a raving lunatic and Katherine's...well she's never been all right, not really. She's not...normal. Even when she first came to Hogwarts she wasn't right – she was quiet and no one really spoke to her but she didn't care.
"She just sort of sat in a corner and did homework or wrote home, and went completely unnoticed by everyone and then in fifth year she suddenly starts going out with Leon Wilkes and that got everybody's attention and then-" he hesitated, smiling sourly. "You know that phrase – 'it's always the quiet ones you've got to watch out for'? You know why you should watch out? It's because one day they'll turn around and say something and that's when you realise that in all those years you were ignoring them, they were watching you." He sighed, running a frantic hand through his blond hair, then stopped abruptly, frowning. "She said I sounded like Regulus. Why did she say I sounded like Regulus?"
The trio stared at him blankly, and he wondered vaguely whether he wasn't going a little insane himself, changing topic so suddenly, but it seemed important. What had he been saying when she'd said that? Something about Inferi, wasn't it? He hadn't really been paying attention to his words at the time – he was just saying anything and everything to try and get her to stop pointing her wand at his chest.
"You could ask her," said Hermione gently. "But we'd have to follow her to do that."
Robert shook himself mentally, trying to refocus on the task at hand. Follow Katherine – go through the ether, even if they didn't know what it would do or even whether there was a horcrux waiting for them on the other side.
He looked at the three teenagers in front of him and wondered how many times they'd done this before, faced unknown dangers together with the odds stacked high against them. He wondered what it felt like – to be on the right side for once, doing what was right because nothing else would do.
Even Katherine knew that wasn't the reason he was here – she'd not even tried to pretend otherwise when she'd brought Regulus' research to his house. He didn't care about the war – what did it matter to him if muggles he didn't know were killed – but as long the Dark Lord lived, his family was in danger and he couldn't have that. Katherine was doing it because Regulus asked her to, and probably for Remus and Severus as well.
But these three, these three weren't doing it for any of those reasons. Yes they wanted their family and friends safe, but that wasn't their main aim – they wanted to stop the Dark Lord because they believed what he was doing was wrong. Even Potter, whose part in this whole affair was decided before he was even born, was doing it of his own volition.
Sometimes he thought he was the only sane person in the world.
"Come on, then," he said tiredly. "We've only got everything to lose, right?"
And he turned around and walked through the ether, not because he wanted to, not because he didn't have any other option, but because Katherine had done it, and he'd follow her anywhere.
Even if she was insane.
*hides from angry pitchforks wielding mobs*
Feedback goes here.
Last edited by Purple Banana; February 12th, 2007 at 9:33 pm.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: Warning you in advance that this chapter may be a little confusing. If you have any questions, just ask. Hope you like it.
Chapter 38 – Into the ether
The first thing Robert saw when the afterimages had died from his eyes, was Katherine, leaning on a plinth of some sort in the middle of the open space. The light from the ether lit up the area like day, but it was colder than the outer chamber had been.
"Katherine?" he asked gently, half expecting his voice to echo and slightly unnerved when it didn't.
"It's not here."
"What?" She twisted her head around to look at him and smiled sourly.
"It's not here."
He frowned, and hurried up to the plinth where she stood, looking dazedly at the smooth stone.
"Might be hidden somewhere inside it," he offered, running a hand across the top, but knowing even as he did so that it was useless. There was nothing here, only a very slight trace of magic, and that wasn't even enough for a concealment charm. Something had been here once, something powerful, but it had taken away long ago. "Well it looks like human error is responsible for the Tube service, then," he muttered, heaving a deep sigh.
Katherine didn't seem to be listening, she was just gazing dully at the plinth with a dead expression in her eyes. He glanced around, trying to see a way out – Potter had been right, there didn't seem to be an exit outside the central pillar, so there must be one inside it.
"There isn't," said Katherine quietly, and he started, turning back to see she was watching him closely. "There's no way out. Not for you."
"For any of you – not without consequences."
"What about you?" he asked slowly, fighting the urge to back away from her. He didn't like where this conversation was going and the look in her eyes was starting to unnerve him.
"I escaped from Azkaban, Robert. There isn't a place in the world that can hold me for very long."
Robert held her gaze for a moment, then found he had to look away. He turned his attention instead to the churning mass of ether that surrounded them and wondered if he could get back through it. There had to be some way out, didn't there? The Dark Lord would want to be able to check on his horcrux, wouldn't he? But if he'd taken it back already, if he'd just shut the exit off...
He shook himself mentally; thinking like that wasn't going to solve anything. He walked slowly up to the glowing wall and placed a hand gingerly against it, disappointed but not surprised to find it held firm. Definitely no way out that way, but then that wasn't what Katherine had said, was it? She hadn't said there was no way out, just that they couldn't escape without consequences.
He was about to turn back and ask her what she meant when he suddenly realised there hadn't been any sign of the trio yet. Had they not followed? If they hadn't maybe there was some way to get a message to them, ask them to look for another way out-
Katherine's voice interrupted his musings:
"You three took your time."
Robert sighed, and look around at the three disheveled teenagers.
"We were seeing if there was another way in," replied Harry, eyeing Katherine dubiously.
"And there wasn't," shrugged Harry. "Is it here?"
"You've got ears, haven't you? It isn't here," said Katherine shortly, turning her back on him and leaning on the stone plinth, the sapphire studded ring on her finger glittering brightly in the ever changing light. He gazed at it for a moment, wondering just how long they had before she withdrew completely and the teenagers found out exactly why everyone was so afraid of her.
Hermione was saying something, but he was barely listening; he couldn't stop looking at the ring sitting innocently on his friend's finger. There was something wrong about it, but he couldn't work out what – it looked the same as it always had, a broad silver band inset with blue jewels, but-
He jerked his head up, looking irritatedly at Hermione.
"I asked if you knew how to get out," said the brunette quietly, brown eyes studying him worriedly. He glanced at Katherine who was watching him with a vaguely amused expression, arms folded challengingly, then back at the trio.
"I-" he began, then looked sharply at Katherine. "Where's your sling?"
For a moment, something flickered in her blue eyes, then she shrugged.
"My arm healed."
"So where's the sling? Did you burn it or what?" he asked, taking a step towards her, the uncomfortable feeling in his stomach growing. There was something seriously wrong here – this whole place was wrong. Katherine opened her mouth to reply but he spoke before she got the words out. "And since when do you wear that ring? You haven't worn that ring since before Azkaban," he said accusingly, narrowing his eyes. "I know you haven't because you always used to and I always expect it to be there and it's not."
"So I put it back on, so what?" asked Katherine, scowling at him. "Honestly, Robert, you're being ridicu-"
"What does ether do?" he cut in, not letting her finish.
"The Dark Lord went to all the trouble of practically inventing ether, and for what? A test of nerve? Step through this and you can get the horcrux? Step through this and you'll never get out again unless you're a descendant of Slytherin and completely off your rocker? What does ether do, Katherine, because so far it hasn't done anything."
"Robert, it doesn't exist," snapped Katherine. "It doesn't do anything-"
"Tell me about Aristotle."
"Tell me something about Aristotle. Anything, anything at all."
Katherine surveyed him coolly for a long moment, then said quietly:
"And you have the cheek to call me crazy."
"You are crazy," replied Robert hotly. "You know you're crazy, Katherine – everyone knows you're crazy, but you're not like this. This isn't how you behave – this is how I'm always scared you'll behave but you never do. Back when we were sixteen and I'd just joined the Death Eaters one of our missions went wrong and the Aurors turned up. Everyone ran but I was trapped and you came back for me. You wouldn't just sit back and accept that the horcrux isn't here – you'd go mental and bring the place down trying to find it because you'd think it was a trick and you'd want to be sure. You don't just give up, Katherine. You're incapable of giving up."
"What are you getting at?" asked Katherine quietly, in a voice that was so calm it was almost lifeless.
"You're not Katherine," said Robert, closing his eyes because he knew he sounded mad. "You're how I see Katherine but you're not her. And this isn't real, is it? I'm imagining it and I think it's real, but it's not."
"Course it's real," muttered Katherine, sighing heavily. "Don't be stupid, Avery."
"Then why did the trio only show up when I thought about them?" he asked, opening his eyes and glaring at her. "It's the ether, it's getting into..." He trailed off, suddenly aware that he was on the floor, having to prop himself up on his elbows to see her. She smiled faintly, and turned back to a plinth made of black marble.
Black marble, not stone. Where was he?
"Honestly, Robert, you're getting rather lax, aren't you?" chided Katherine absently. "Took you ages to wake up. For Salazar's sake, Potter was out of it before you."
Robert pushed himself up, looking around at a circular wall of light and an area very much like the one he'd just been in – dreamt he'd been in. Beside him on the floor were Ron and Hermione, their eyes shut and looking for all the world like they were asleep. He nudged Ron experimentally, but he didn't react.
"They're not asleep," said Harry's voice, and he looked up to see him sitting on the ground a little way to the left of Katherine. "Ron snores when he's asleep."
"The ether gets into your head?" ventured Robert, getting to his feet and walking over to the plinth. "Makes you, what, live your fears?"
Katherine glanced at him, blue eyes overly bright, and he could almost see the struggle inside her head; at the moment, it looked like marginally sane Katherine was winning.
"Traps you inside your own head and unless you can get out, you'll die," she said with a small smile that seemed a little manic. "Of starvation, I mean, or is it dehydration? I can never remember which one happens first."
"That gives you a long time to get out," he pointed out, frowning slightly.
"Still a nasty way to die," she shrugged, running an expert hand over the glossy surface of the plinth. "Harry said I tried to kill him in his dream, though, so I guess if someone does that you'll die too. If your body thinks you're dead, you pretty much are."
Robert cast a glance at Harry who was twisting the black cord Katherine had been fiddling with earlier around his fingers.
"How did you get out?" he asked, frowning.
"Ron stepped in front of me and Katherine's curse hit him instead," said Harry quietly, eyes darting anxiously over to where his friend lay. "And then, I don't know, I just thought it couldn't be real because, well, he couldn't be dead. He's my best friend."
"See, denial is a good thing," said Katherine brightly as Harry fell into silence. Robert rolled his eyes and she grinned. "I need help."
"I know. We'll be out of here soon – is there a way out?" asked Robert; in the relief of waking up, he'd forgotten to look.
"Hope so," said Katherine calmly, peering closely at the marble.
"You haven't looked?" questioned Robert, the surprise evident in his voice.
"Harry's looking," she replied, gesturing at the black haired boy.
"You know how to use one of those?" asked Robert, frowning at him. Harry shook his head.
"No idea, but I don't think she does either," he answered, nodding towards Katherine, who laughed and ran a hand through her hair.
"The patterns make themselves, Potter. All you have to do is play around till you find one, or in your case, it finds you and if you're serious about it, stop talking and start concentrating."
"How did you wake up?" asked Robert, as Harry shot Katherine an annoyed look and turned back to his task.
"I didn't," answered Katherine, looking up and meeting his gaze with a placid expression on her face.
"Nothing happened – well, that's not strictly true, everything sort of flickered for a moment, but then I was here. Only figured something might be meant to happen when you walked through and collapsed on the floor." She cast a glance at the two unconscious teenagers still lying on the ground. "I think you're right though – the ether gets into your head and manipulates what you see so it's just about believable but sort of the worst case scenario."
"And yet it didn't affect you?" he questioned and she smiled grimly, looking almost normal again.
"The only way anything's getting into my head at the moment is with a sledgehammer. Why did you wake up, anyway?"
"You were being weirder than usual," he shrugged, giving her a half smile.
"Is that possible?"
"Apparently." He sighed, watching her examine the plinth. "Is there a horcrux here?"
"Doesn't look like it, does it?" she said distractedly, and he frowned, wondering whether he had really woken up or not. She glanced at him and rolled her eyes, grabbing his hand and holding it over the plinth. "Feel like it?" He snatched his hand away, rubbing it to try and ease the pain.
"That hurt," he said, staring at the plinth.
"That's a horcrux. Very dark magic."
"The locket didn't feel like that."
"Reg had broken most of the curses surrounding it – we only did the last bit."
"So this one's going to be harder to destroy?"
"Of course." She glanced up at him, adrenaline fuelling the volatile look in her eyes. "But we're going to destroy it." She massaged her swollen shoulder absently with her free hand and looked pensively at the black marble. "Just got to work out how to get it. Pleasant dreams, Weasley?" Robert frowned at her last comment, then turned around to see Ron sitting up, looking pale and confused.
"What happened?" he mumbled, then he caught sight of Hermione and what blood there was left drained from his face. "Is she ok?"
"As long as she wakes up soon," murmured Katherine, looking thoughtfully from the plinth to where Harry sat, twisting the black cord around his fingers.
"Soon?" asked Ron, looking up sharply. "What if she doesn't?" Katherine glanced at him, one eyebrow slightly raised.
"Do you really need me to spell it out for you?"
"Can't you make her wake up?"
"What do you suggest we do?" asked Katherine, giving him a derogatory look. "You can try pinching her if you want, or maybe a kiss is more appropriate."
"Well it worked for Sleeping Beauty," shrugged Katherine carelessly. "True love's first kiss and all that."
"Can't you get into her head," asked Ron, ignoring this remark. "Tell her it's not real. There is a spell that can do that, isn't there?"
"You really want me messing about in her head the state I'm in?" asked Katherine quizzically. "Anyway, I'm pretty sure you have to figure it out on your own. Else you wouldn't be worthy to get the horcrux."
"There must be something we can do," argued Ron, looking to Robert for support.
"I don't think so," he said quietly, glancing at Katherine who gazed back mildly.
"What?" she asked, arching an eyebrow. "I was being serious about the kiss."
"Katherine-" he began, but Katherine spoke over him, turning to face Ron.
"You love her, don't you?" she said, looking coolly at Ron who flushed scarlet, staring at her and even Harry looked up from his task and frowned.
"What kind of a question is that?" stammered Ron, and Katherine rolled her eyes.
"Tell her. Really. Before she finds someone else and you end up a bitter and twisted old man with a broken heart." She smiled sourly, fingering the pendant round her neck absently. "Or maybe you'd prefer to die young and have her mourn you."
"Katherine," said Robert sharply and she looked up at him, frowning slightly.
"Stop it," said Robert patiently, holding her gaze and waiting for her rationality to reassert itself. Don't get angry or worried – that was the key. If he stayed calm, she wouldn't have anything to rebel against and maybe she'd be all right for a little while longer. He glanced at her hand which was tightly wrapped around her necklace, and decided it might be best to keep the topic of conversation away from Severus Snape, too.
She followed his gaze and let go of the pendant, stuffing her hand in her jeans pocket and sitting down with her back to the plinth. Robert studied her for a moment, wondering what he could do to help her even once they were out – she wasn't just going to snap back into normal Katherine again, not this time – but a sudden burst of light cut off further musings.
"You found it?" he asked Harry, staring at the spell writhing just above his hands. Harry was looking at the twisting line of light with a slightly stunned expression, his hands perfectly still.
"What do I do?" His voice, when he spoke was barely more than a whisper, as though noise of any sort might make the glowing line of violet and gold disappear forever.
"Break it," said a small voice and Robert heard Ron gasp; Hermione was awake. She smiled weakly at Harry as he looked over at her with a concerned expression. "I'm fine, Harry. You have to break it – that's what she did."
"But we don't know what spell this is," said Harry, frowning deeply. "It might not be-"
"It's the spell protecting the Cup," said Katherine quietly. Robert looked down at her where she was sitting with her face buried in her one free hand. "Granger's right. Break the spell and use AK on the horcrux. We need to get out of here."
"But I don't know how to-" began Harry, then trailed off as Katherine looked up at him.
"Half an hour ago you couldn't sense magic."
"What if something happens when we've got the horcrux?" asked Harry, gazing at the spell still hovering in front of him.
"We'll deal with it. It's not like we have much choice."
"How do you cast Avada Kedavra?" asked Harry quietly, after a moment's pause.
"Mean it," Katherine answered shortly.
"That's it? You just have to hate someone enough to kill them?"
"You don't have to hate them. Just know you've got to kill them."
Harry studied her for a moment, then looked over at his friends; Ron had an arm around Hermione and was watching him intently and Hermione still looked shaken but he knew she'd help if he asked her to.
But he wouldn't; this was something he had to do on his own. Ron and Hermione could come with him, could help him get where he needed to go but they couldn't destroy Voldemort. That was his destiny.
He concentrated on the thread of light before him and pulled his hands sharply apart. There was sound like a banshee's scream and then the wall of ether around them started to whirl. Gold flecks in the column grouped together and flew inwards, towards the plinth, and Harry looked up just in time to see Robert haul Katherine clear as the golden light earthed itself into the black marble.
He was vaguely aware of Katherine swearing quietly, in a hushed voice but it barely even registered – his attention was fixed on the molten gold object forming on top of the plinth.
He stepped hesitantly towards it as it settled, shivering slightly; if he got this wrong, they were all in trouble. What if destroying the Cup brought the chamber down on them, what if there was no exit – maybe he should ask his friends to find a way to leave before he tried to get rid of it – or maybe he should just run now, it was all lost anyway, you couldn't win against someone like Voldemort-
He started at Katherine's yell and whipped round to see her glaring up at the pillar of swirling mist around them. At first he thought breaking the spell had done something to his hearing, but then he saw the puzzled looks on his friends faces and decided that Katherine wasn't speaking English. She seemed to be very angry about something, and even though he didn't understand the exact words he knew she was swearing.
And then he realised why.
The pillar of light around them had dimmed, no longer emitting a pale golden glow, it now shone silver and looked more like smoke or fog than liquid sunlight. He saw Robert put a hand on her shoulder to try and calm her down but she flinched away, scowling at him and drew her wand, sending a huge silver figure shooting out of it.
She watched it for a second as it launched itself into the tendrils of mist that were creeping inwards, driving them backwards and away from the small group, then her bright blue eyes snapped onto his and one eyebrow was raised. The meaning was clear – she wanted know what he was waiting for.
He took one last look at Ron and Hermione, wrapped in each other's arm then turned back to the Cup and flung the killing curse at the fifth horcrux.
Cookies and cake will be awarded to anyone who works out what the mist was.
Feedback goes here.
Re: Fallen Angel
A/N: All done. Sorry it took a while – I've been a little busy and had a minor case of writer's block. Oh yes, and if the conversation at the end of this chapter doesn't make any sense – don't worry, it's not meant to. Yet.
Chapter 39 – Recovery
Harry sat quietly in his room at the Burrow, watching the sky outside lightening from grey to blue and marveling once again at how determined the world was to defy your expectations and just keep marching on as though nothing momentous had happened. Opposite him, Ron snored softly, sprawled awkwardly across his bed, lost deep in a dreamless sleep. Harry envied him; every time he closed his eyes he saw green light and shadows.
He shivered and pulled the sheets closer around him, trying to remember exactly how they'd escaped. He vaguely recalled the Cup shattering, black shapes forming at the edge of his vision, the sound of hollow death rattles as the Dementors drew breath...and then Katherine was snarling something in an ancient language he couldn't understand, the anger radiating from her so fierce that even Avery had backed away.
After that everything was a little unclear. Somehow, one moment they'd been a couple of hundred feet under London and next thing he knew, they were standing in a deserted street somewhere in the capital, not quite knowing what had happened. He remembered Katherine looking slightly lost, the target of her anger suddenly removed and then Hermione had burst into tears, sliding to the floor as Ron crouched down beside her, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders. Harry had known how she felt – his own ears were still ringing with his mother's screams and the sound of Bellatrix's laughter as Sirius fell to his death – but he was determined not to let Voldemort win.
He'd destroyed a horcrux. He wouldn't let fear destroy him.
And then Katherine had turned to him, and he was forcibly reminded what real fear was; there had been no emotion in those blue eyes, no anger, no hurt, no nothing – just a cold sort of sanity that scared him more than anything else had that night. It had taken him a few moments to realise she was using Legilimency on him, but even when he had realised, he couldn't look away.
Robert had tried to talk to her but she'd only shrugged him off, glancing around to check everyone was all right and then disappeared – though he didn't think she'd disapparated, and he hadn't see a portkey. Robert had looked worried but Harry knew where she was going – back to the cave by sea and the ranks of Inferi that lay buried beneath the green water.
She'd only found her mother, after all.
He leant back against the wall and sighed, wondering where she was now. He still didn't trust her and he was certainly more wary of her now, but he'd started to realise that circumstance had dragged her into a life she hadn't really want to pursue, just as it had done to him. The only difference was that she was on the opposing side.
Most of the time.
It was drawing close to seven in the morning when Severus woke up. He lay in bed for a while, listening to the low hum of the shower across the hall and wondering whether Katherine had come home yet. She'd disappeared at around ten the previous morning and hadn't been in since. And then there was all that business with Saint Catherine's orphanage.
He turned over and wondered whether she'd tracked down a horcrux. Her and Robert together were more than a match for the Dark Lord and if she was helping Potter, which seemed likely given that stunt with Bellatrix and the McKenzies, then he was rather inclined to believe that their Master didn't stand a chance.
When he left his room half an hour later to get breakfast, the shower was still running. He frowned slightly, but shrugged it off. He'd never lived with women before but he was sure he'd heard that they spent hours in the bathroom.
Forty minutes later, he could still hear the water running. Surely the hot water would have run out by now? He put down the morning paper and headed upstairs, casting a glance towards Nicola's closed door. It was a Tuesday so she hadn't risen early to go to work and the silence emanating from her room was an occupied one.
That only left Katherine or a complete stranger, and despite the wards they'd placed on the house to prevent surprise visitors spotting a couple of Wanted criminals wandering around the house, Nicola still tended to avoid bringing people home. After a moments hesitation, he walked up to the bathroom door and knocked lightly on it, surprised and a little alarmed to find that it gave way under his knuckles and swung open. A cloud of damp air rushed out to greet him as he peered inside.
"Katherine?" he asked softly, eyes settling on the small figure hunched on the floor by the bath. She didn't move so he edged in softly, reaching behind her to turn off the shower which was spouting icy cold water onto the white tiles and crouching down beside her.
Only when he extended a hand to touch her shoulder did she move, flinching away as though burned. He raised an eyebrow in confusion and she blinked up at him, right hand going protectively to the shoulder he'd touched and looking rather lost.
"Yes, it's me," he said quietly, looking into those dazed blue eyes and trying to suppress the feeling of dread that was seeping through him. "Are you all right?"
A stupid question, he knew, but he couldn't think what else to say. He'd seen that look on her face so many times before but had never thought he'd see it again. He'd thought she was past that phase. What on earth could have happened to trigger it again?
"No." The word was whispered so softly that he nearly missed it.
"What's wrong?" he asked as she looked bemusedly at him, those brilliant eyes were faded and almost childlike as they stared hazily at him.
"I hurt my arm." She pulled her shirt down from her left shoulder and seeing that dark purple bruises that surrounded the swollen joint, he realised why'd she'd flinched earlier.
"I think I've got some ointment that'll reduce the swelling," he said, examining the shoulder with light fingers. "What did you do?"
"Dislocated it," she answered sleepily, resting her head on the edge of the bath and studying him lazily. "You're a good friend, Severus."
He smiled tightly and hurried back to his room to find the right potion. She was still in the same position when he returned, knees huddled up to her chin, eyes staring listlessly into middle distance. He had the feeling that more had been hurt by her latest adventure than her body, but he could do very little about that. Physical injuries he could deal with – psychological ones were beyond his area of expertise.
He treated the wound as best he could and tied a support bandage around it then sat back on his heels and looked into her vacant eyes, wondering just how much of this she was taking in.
"He wasn't there," she said after a while, not meeting his worried gaze.
"The Dark Lord?" he asked, a frown creasing his forehead. Had she gone after Voldemort? Or did she mean a horcrux? But now she was shaking her head and his frown deepened at her next words.
"Not Tom. My Dad. My real Dad. He wasn't there." She looked up, eyes a little clearer now, but the kind of clarity that he had learned long ago to be worried about. When Katherine had been sixteen she'd had that look in her eyes a lot – that cold sanity that had allowed her to get on with life and pretend she wasn't being torn apart inside. During their fifth year at Hogwarts he'd seen her go from mild tempered to irate and back again in a matter of seconds nearly every day, till those final few weeks before she'd cracked when anything anyone said was met with harsh words and a furious glare.
That was the time when they'd learnt to be scared of her and decided to make sure they never got on her bad side. Except for Evan, of course, who'd never really paid her much attention because, he suddenly realised, she hadn't sought it. Nicola had befriended her with the hope of getting to know some of Leon's mates a little better and Cassandra had already been on good terms with her; Robert she had known from missions and he himself she'd practically enlisted to help her with work, but she'd never approached Evan or Daemon. She hadn't needed them.
"He wasn't where?" Severus asked carefully, as she sat up a little straighter, eyes hardening.
"Nowhere," she answered shortly, working her shoulder joint gingerly. On an impulse he slid her wand away from where it lay on the floor beside her and held it behind his back. She stopped moving her arm and looked sharply at him. "Give it back."
"Give it back, Severus. I need it."
"You're in no fit state to be doing anything, Katherine. You need rest."
"I will rest. Right after I've paid Tom a little visit."
"You pay the Dark Lord a visit now and the only resting you'll be doing is the eternal kind," he answered, looking archly at her.
"Severus Ruchbar Snape, give me my wand."
"No. I will not let you get yourself killed."
"It's my life – I can do what I like with it."
"Not while I'm alive, you can't. I happen want it intact, if it's all the same to you."
"Severus, if you don't hand over my wand this instant, I'll-"
"Thump me? Break my neck? You couldn't do that, Katherine." he said with a sigh, looking tiredly at her. "You know that."
She glared at him, eyes blazing, her hands balled into fists and then her lip trembled and suddenly there were tears rolling down her cheeks. He stared at her, not quite knowing what to do and was grateful for the soft voice from the doorway.
"What's going on?"
He looked up into the dark brown eyes of Nicola and thought he'd never been so relived to see anyone in his life. He stood quickly as Katherine buried her face in her hands and shook silently, wrapped inside her own private nightmare.
"Can you stay with her?" he asked Nicola quietly. "I'm going to go and see Lucius – he's been sent to the South of France for a few weeks and he leaves today. I'll see if I can persuade him to take her with him. She needs to get away from here for a bit – if she meets the Dark Lord in this state she's going to end up doing something she'll regret."
Nicola nodded, dark eyes filled with concern. "Go, then. I can take care of things here."
He smiled thankfully and with one last look at Katherine, headed off to find his oldest friend.
The coach rumbled over the bumpy road as Lucius Malfoy looked at his latest companion. She hadn't said a word to him since Severus had dropped her off at the airport, though she had taken the plane tickets forcibly out of his hands at check in and dealt with the woman at the desk herself. He didn't particularly care – he wasn't much good at muggle things and was extremely dubious about the whole airplane concept in general but there was no other way to get to France without arousing Ministry suspicions.
Luckily, although they kept an eye out at muggle hotspots, the Aurors didn't expect a couple of Death Eaters to actually use muggle transport and Lucius had the added protection of the Polyjuice Potion Severus had brewed for this mission. Katherine of course could change her appearance at will and he hadn't been altogether surprised to learn that Severus had found several muggle passports among her belongings, each with a different picture.
She was currently masquerading as Caitlin Murphy, a slim brunette with light grey eyes and, apparently, not much of a desire for conversation. He glanced sideways at her, wondering exactly what had happened to make her so introverted all of a sudden. Severus hadn't been very explicit, but Lucius rather thought that this was because he hadn't known.
Which undoubtedly meant that Katherine had been doing something she shouldn't have been with no thought for the consequences and had left others to pick up the pieces. Not that Severus had minded, he thought. That man would follow her to the ends of the earth no matter what she did to him. People did foolish things for love, even Severus Snape.
"Where are we?"
He started, looking sharply at Katherine who was gazing out of the window.
"Bordeaux," he answered after a momentary pause.
"Yes." He hesitated as she fixed a pair of clear grey eyes on him. "You remember the plane, right?" She shrugged.
"Caitlin, we only got off it half an hour ago," he said, frowning deeply. She shrugged again.
"Everything's a bit hazy. Did I hit Severus?"
"I don't know. Don't think so," he said carefully, studying her curiously. She sighed, running a hand though her hair and frowning when she saw it was brown.
"Oh. I'm supposed to be helping you, aren't I?"
"That's what Severus told your father," he said, noticing that she scowled at the reference to the Dark Lord. "However, I'm under strict orders from him to make sure you rest. Don't want you going completely off your rocker, do we?"
She gave him a disparaging look and gazed out of the window again.
"So, what were you up to?" he asked as the silence threatened to stretch out.
"None of your business."
"Ah, not mental enough to forget you hate me, right?"
"I don't hate you."
He arched an eyebrow, gazing at her with an amused smile and kept quiet, knowing full well that if he got any more truthful answers out of her while she was in this state, he'd pay for it later; she didn't take too kindly to being taken advantage of – Leon's little Russian adventure was proof enough of that. He sat back in the cramped seat and longed for the old armchair that had sat in his family's Manor for as far back as he could remember. Why did muggles put themselves through this? Surely there had to be easier ways to get from place to place. Even long distance Flooing was better than this – at least that was quick, even if you did tend to smell of soot for days afterwards.
Next to him, Katherine was gazing dully out of the window, thoughts retreated somewhere he couldn't follow. He was only taking her with him because Severus had asked and when Severus asked for something, he usually meant it. It took a lot for someone as proud as him to admit he needed a favour. Then again, it was he who was in Severus' debt at present anyway – Narcissa had told him what his oldest friend had done for Draco while he was in prison; making sure the love of Severus' life got back to normal again might go a little way towards repaying that debt.
He wondered if she knew how much Severus loved her – how he cared for her more than anything else in his life. He'd been devastated when she'd died – had refused to believe it despite common sense and his own better judgement. Lucius had thought he'd been in denial, and maybe he had, but he'd been right and Lucius had been forced to admit that he'd underestimated Katherine yet again.
He glanced at her as her right hand curled around the snake pendant that he remembered Severus had bought for her as a Christmas present in their last year at Hogwarts and frowned as a new thought struck him. She had that necklace – now, after Azkaban – yet she wouldn't have been allowed it in prison and he knew her things would have changed hands numerous times after her supposed death, so why was she back in possession of it? Had she tracked it down?
He frowned deeply, and mused privately. He knew Katherine better than to suppose she was simply particularly fond of a mere piece of jewellery, but was the alternative really possible? Could she like Severus – love Severus? Could Katherine Riddle, who had gone out with Leon Wilkes and Sirius Black (who, if Narcissa's opinion was anything to go by, were two of the handsomest men of their generation), be in love with Severus Snape whose own mother would hesitate to call fair?
He sighed and shifted a little in his seat. Well if she was, Bella was going to be most disappointed; she'd thought the person Katherine cared most about was her cousin. He smiled wryly to himself; knowing something his fair sister-in-law didn't always made his day a little brighter.
They arrived at the villa at around half six in the evening, just as the sun was setting and while he went to unpack, Katherine wandered off. He found her a little while later, sitting on the patio that overlooked the port, watching the great ships sway to and fro in the dark water and singing softly under her breath.
He sat down next to her, placing a glass of fruit juice on the flat stones beside her and listening to the faint roar of the waves in the distance and the soft, sweet tones of her voice. From what he could make out of the words, it seemed to be some sort of nursery rhyme, the sort that loving parents are meant to sing at night to lull their child to sleep, but then again he didn't have much experience of such things so he wasn't much of a judge. She fell silent after a while and gave such a wistful sigh that he looked at her in concern.
"Are you all right?" She shrugged.
He looked into her eyes – back to their usual blue again – and noted that she was almost back to normal; tired and upset to be sure, but the real Katherine was in there somewhere and she'd recover properly given time.
"What was the song?"
"Just something my mother used to sing to me," she answered, pulling her knees up to her chest and resting her head on them. "About two friends who grow up together and go to war, then one ends up saving the other's life. I used to think they were so brave, now I just think they did what they could. You can't get heroes in war."
"Not even bold Mr Potter?"
"Him? He's a scared kid striving to stay alive, just like the rest of us. All we really want is someone to hold us and tell us everything's going to be all right."
"Even if it's a lie?" She looked at him, blue looking infinitely sad in the waning light.
"I'd be happy to believe it. Wouldn't you?" He smiled faintly, a touch of a smirk creeping into his expression.
"Ah, see this is where we're divided you see, because you really are going to be all right. You've got some kind of guardian angel watching over you, don't give me that look, you must have the amount of scrapes you've managed to wriggle your way out of, whereas I have to rely on instinct alone. It's quite unfair." She smiled softly, blue eyes lightening a little.
"Maybe I'll have a word with my angel then, see if it's got a mate who can look after you for a bit."
"Or you could lend me yours," he pointed out, looking out over the dark expanse of the ocean. She chuckled derisively, the sound muffled because she was hunched up to keep warm.
"No chance. I need all the help I can get."
He smirked and sipped the glass of red wine he'd been holding. On reflection, maybe this trip wasn't going to be as bad as he'd first thought. At least Katherine was being civil – friendly even.
"Thank you." He glanced up, surprised.
"This. Looking out for Severus. And, well, you know, last time."
"Gratitude accepted for the first two, but I didn't really do anything last time," he said meditatively, swilling the red liquid around his glass.
"You could have stopped me," she said quietly. "You could have told Trix or Leon I was leaving, but you didn't. You let me go – let me sort myself out. I'll always be thankful for that whether you choose to accept it or not."
"Point taken," he murmured, tugging his cloak a little tighter around himself in the night breeze. "And while we're on the subject, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course, as long as I'm under no obligation to answer." She looked at him interestedly, and he wondered idly how she managed to look vulnerable and resolute at the same time, and then asked the question that had gnawed at him for nearly twenty four years.
"Exactly what did you do with that baby?"
Have I suitable confused everyone now? Let me know here. Theories are welcome, however random.
Last edited by Purple Banana; March 13th, 2007 at 9:00 pm.
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