The Sugar Quill
Author: Robin (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Promises Unbroken  Chapter: Chapter 1: Ten Years Ago
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Promises Unbroken

 

Promises Unbroken

 

 

Chapter One: Ten Years Ago

 

 

November 1981

 

“No!”

Remus Lupin howled the word as soon as he Apparated outside of a nondescript apartment building located in the outskirts of Muggle London.  Heart racing, he sprinted towards the entranceway, unmindful of the leftover aches and pains from his transformation two nights beforehand.  Those did not matter.  Nothing else mattered when the Dark Mark was hovering in the sky.

Up two flights of stairs and he had reached his destination, and although the door was shut, he knew something was wrong.  The wolf sensed it.  Remus tried the doorknob, and it was not locked.  He burst inside, dreading the scene he knew he would find.

The wolf had known.  The flat was a wreck, a battlefield.  Furniture was strewn all over the place, some destroyed by misaimed magic, and others simply thrown aside because it was in the way.  The far wall was blackened, and the one to the right was peeling paint in places it hadn’t been before.  A robe lay discarded over the back of the overturned armchair where its owner must have been sitting as the Death Eaters arrived.  Not too far away was a copy of the Daily Prophet that would now never be read.  Its edges were blistered as if the paper had been exposed to extreme heat and nearly burnt.  To Remus’ right, there was blood; not much, but a little, and his sensitive nose told him that an enemy had fallen there, either dead or seriously wounded.  The wall next to the front door had a new dent in it, and he knew his friend had not fallen without a fight.

Remus blinked and discovered tears streaming down his face.  “Sirius?” he whispered, knowing there would be no answer, but having to try all the same.  But his voice would not come out strongly enough; he was hoarse and he wanted to scream.  No…  “Sirius…?”

Of course, there was no answer.  Somehow, he knew that he would never hear his friend’s voice again.  Desperately, Remus moved around the flat, throwing furniture aside in a mad search to find someone who was not there.  At least he hoped to find a body…but there was nothing.  He searched every room of the small and dilapidated flat—the “perfect” hiding place—but there was nothing.  No body.  No sign.  There was only evidence of the battle Sirius had fought, even knowing he could not win.

He dropped to his knees, letting his head fall into his hands.  Sirius…  For the first time since he’d gone to Hogwarts and met the friends he would come to love as brothers, Remus Lupin dissolved into sobs.  No…

------------

Pain.

He could deal with pain.  He was an Auror.  Pain was something he had dealt with before.

“Tell me,” the cold voice demanded.

“Go to hell,” Sirius whispered, his lips cracked and bleeding.  It hurt to speak, but he could deal with pain.  He could survive it, and wait for death.

Wait for death.

------------

            “I’m afraid it’s no use, James,” Albus Dumbledore said quietly.  “There has been no sign.”

            “What about your spies?” he whispered.

            “All they know is that he was taken to Voldemort,” the Headmaster replied, placing a gentle hand on Potter’s shoulder.  The younger man knew he was shaking, but he did not care.  Sirius was gone… Sirius had been missing for five days.

            “What else aren’t you saying?” he asked, half-hating the accusing tone of his own voice, but not wanting to be lied to.  He didn’t want to be protected.  He wanted to know the truth.

            Dumbledore sighed.  “They know he was tortured.  They do not know if he has died yet.”

            Yet.  James tried to choke back a sob.  It didn’t work.  Sirius…  He’d come to Dumbledore for reassurance, for hope, yet he had only found despair.  Even Dumbledore thought that Sirius would die.  Even Albus Dumbledore, the one wizard that Voldemort feared, thought there was no chance!  Where was the justice in that?  Why had he sent a friend to die?  Suddenly, he cried, “We have to do something!”

            “Like what, James?” Dumbledore’s gentle voice asked him.  “You have a family and a bloodline to protect.  Remus and Peter have become targets as well, and the Ministry is too overwrought by trying counter threats to search for one missing Auror.  There is hardly anything left with which to fight the war, now.”  His other hand reached James’ shoulder.  “I am truly, truly sorry, my friend, but there is nothing we can do.

            “All we can do is hope for it to end.”

------------

            They held a funeral several months later, even though there was no body.  And on the first anniversary of Sirius’ disappearance, James and Lily had erected the monument in his honor at Godric’s Hollow, knowing, all the while, that the Fidelius Charm had never been breached.  They had stood silently together that morning, under the rising sun, but feeling none of its warmth.  They were truly alone, now; the war was reaching new heights, and Voldemort had shown no sign of forgetting the Potters.  They still communicated with Remus and Peter, of course, but it hadn’t been the same.  The Fidelius Charm kept them safe from Voldemort’s wrath, and although they knew he’d lose interest in time—or at least decide to target someone else—for the moment, they had to hide.  Neither James nor Lily enjoyed keeping their heads down, but they knew it was necessary.  They had a child to protect.

            And so the years passed.  Finally, the Fidelius Charm expired with time, and at James’ instance, it was renewed—this time, however, for only Lily and Harry, with James himself as the Secret Keeper.  It wasn’t that he didn’t trust either of his best friends; in fact, both Remus and Peter had offered, but he couldn’t bear to endanger someone else that way.  Nor, however, could he keep his head in the sand forever.  So with the assurance that his beloved wife and son were safe in Godric’s Hollow, James went back to work as an Auror.  The Department of Magical Law Enforcement needed him desperately.  Sirius’ death had ripped a hole in the upper ranks of the Aurors, and James’ leave of absence didn’t help, either.  With more Aurors dying every day, they needed all the help they could get.

            But times only grew darker, climaxing with Voldemort’s public killing of the Minister of Magic, whom he’d caught undefended in Diagon Alley, of all places, and had proceeded to kill after less than two minutes of dueling.  The death of old Bagnold had frightened the Wizarding community beyond repair; it had been his strength that held the Magical world together, and his death heralded darker times to come.  Supporters flocked to Voldemort’s banner, driven by fear, and the light side barely held its ground.  And it only got worse. 

Within three months, the new Minister of Magic lay dead at Voldemort’s hands.  His successor, too, was gone in another five weeks, and soon witches and wizards were afraid to even leave their homes.  Communication began to break down.  The various Wizarding academies threatened to die out when parents would not let their children out of their sight.  Death Eaters killed and tortured both Muggles and magical folk to their hearts’ content, sometimes striking even in broad daylight, so confident were they.  Throughout it all, James Potter worked tirelessly as an Auror, brining in Dark wizard after Dark wizard, and gaining fame that he had never asked for as the world grew still darker.  No matter how many Death Eaters they took, the Ministry lost at least half again that many Aurors.  Finally, the Ministry of Magic itself began to crumble.

            Until, one day, a man arrived to change all that.

And after six years of Darkness, the world began to lighten ever so slightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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