The Sugar Quill
Author: Robin (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Promises Defended  Chapter: Chapter 2: All Hope Fades
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Promises Remembered

Promises Defended

 

 

 

Chapter Two: All Hope Fades

 

That had only been the beginning.  Day after day and night after night, it continued, until even his students started to notice the exhaustion etched into Snape’s features.  Most of them, of course, guessed at the cause—the attacks made headlines, and even the most foolish of the children knew where their Potions Master went at night.  But, in truth, it wasn’t so much the lack of sleep as it was the nightmares.

He was living one all over again.

It had stared on October 17th, the day after Voldemort learned that Black had disappeared from Avalon.  The Aurors had succeeded in keeping the news quiet for almost a week, but when it broke, the newspapers went crazy.  And, if reports were right (and Bella usually was where the Dark Lord was concerned), Voldemort had lost his temper.

Hence Hogsmeade.

Snape still felt sick thinking about it, and had felt even more sick the next morning, when he’d accompanied the other Hogwarts professors to help bury the dead.  Usually, he cared not for what they thought of him, but the betrayed looks had started eating at his soul.  Sinistra was the worst; the two of them had worked together for years, and though they’d never been especially friendly, her remarks had hurt.  So had her coldness, after her tears had dried.

“I had thought even you would not stoop so low,” Auriga had hissed, then walked away without giving him a chance to reply.

He couldn’t have, anyway, but that didn’t keep him from wanting to.  She didn’t understand that it wasn’t his choice, and that he would have given anything to break away from the vicious cycle of darkness.  None of them understood—even Remus had looked at him with horrified eyes before turning away.  Never had Severus missed Dumbledore so badly.  Nor had he ever felt so alone.

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

He was present five days later for Stephen Hoppner’s death, watched the former Auror turned famous historian die like a mythical hero of old.  He had watched the choice offered and rejected, and then had watched the public ignore the courage shown by a dying man.

“Will you not reconsider, Stephen?” Lucius asked quietly, so quietly.  Was there a message in the fact that Voldemort had sent only the senior members of other ancient families to persuade this man?  A Malfoy.  A Snape.  A Lestrange.  A Black—though Malfoy by marriage, still of the oldest by blood.  But no Bellatrix.  She was not reasonable.

And this was oh so reasonable.

Hoppner did not bother to reply.  He bore the pain well, but then again, he had borne Azkaban well.  Compared to that, this was nothing.

Hour after hour.  Stephen’s wife and young daughter were unconscious in a corner, mostly by Snape’s doing.  But he had not spared them through compassion.  That pair was permitted to live because the Dark Lord had other plans for them.  The son was grown, barely out of Hogwarts, but not at home.  He would be dealt with later.

Dawn came, and still the senior of the Hoppners had not cracked.  He would not, and they knew it, so instead they made him scream.  Rodolphus was not his wife’s equal in the art of torture, but together, the four Death Eaters coated the floor in blood.  Old and pure blood.

Moments like this had been what had turned Snape away from darkness in the first place.

Still, Hoppner had remained defiant to the last, fighting back the pain to laugh at his tormentors and ask if that was the best they could do.  Brave man.  Foolish man.

Like the others, he died, though more nobly than most.  And with far less purpose.

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

He had also been present the day that Stephen Hoppner’s young son, Gnaeus, had taken the Mark to save his mother and sister.  Both still languished in Azkaban, but neither was harmed.  They were even permitted to be together, though that did not help against the Dementors.  He remembered the looks on their faces when he had brought them there.

Oh, he remembered.

“Why do you do this to yourself?” Severus whispered raggedly, forcibly pulling his head out of his hands.  His elbows were sore after resting on his desk for so long.

He sighed and shook his head, wishing that he could clear it.  But there was no real answer.  No reason why.  Only an inability to sleep and nightmares that haunted him as nothing had done for years.  The Dark Lord was winning, and he wanted to be sick.  You’re already sick, Severus, he reminded himself harshly.  Twisted and cruel, remember?

Even his own anger could no longer sting, and he rose once more, trying to head for bed again.  Perhaps he might sleep a few hours before the nightmares returned, before he saw the faces of those he had killed.  Odd how Hoppner did not haunt him so much as the others, but Hoppner had not exactly been innocent.  He had made his choice long ago.

And yet… Out of the corner of his eye, Snape caught the headline on the front page of the Daily Prophet, and he cringed. 

QUEST ABANDONED, read the title of the most prominent article, written by Keith Lindsay.  It was merely the sequel to an earlier piece by Charles Li, which had been more creatively titled LAST AND NO HOPE, but for some reason, the article made him feel empty inside.

Twenty-nine days since the news had broken.  Thirty-six since the event had happened, according to Remus, who would know.  Had it been something else, Severus would have been surprised to find that the papers were still fixated on the same subject, but this was different.  This was tragic.

He had watched as the papers tore Sirius Black to shreds, first protesting his actions with grief and later with anger.  The public reaction was much the same—a loss of hope that bordered on fury, and an emptiness that the war only amplified each day.  Once, Severus would have felt vindicated, savagely satisfied.  Now, though, he was torn between rejoicing and terror.  Does he not know what he has done?  But a small corner of Severus’ mind could understand, and he remembered the look in Black’s eyes when he had asked for those three dangerous potions.

Many wondered if Black would return, having sided with Voldemort and forever lost to the light.  Looking in those eyes, though, had told Severus that he never would.  This was a man who would fight or die trying.

But heroes were of no use when they ran away.

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

No matter.  The war effort was plunging into darkness.

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

November 12th.  It would have been a beautiful day had the Ministry of Magic not been burning. 

Months of work had gone into reconstructing the Ministry, into making it as impregnable as possible.  Careful construction and wards had been put into place in order to protect the hundreds of workers inside, and even the depressing Daily Prophet had good things to say about the new Ministry’s chances against future attack.  The new building had opened, with much fanfare, only a week beforehand, complete and ready to be a symbol of the continuing fight against darkness.  James Potter had spoken well, of hopes, of dreams, and of new beginnings.

Snape stood with the others and laughed as the Ministry burned.  Stood and watched innocents attempt to dive out of the way.  Some succeeded, and some did not.  In that first attack, they captured Marcy Basil.  In the second, less than two weeks later, they captured Mafalda Hopkirk.  Minor functionaries died in both, but Basil was a department head and one of James’ staunchest supporters.  Snape knew her loss was a blow to the Ministry, knew James needed her, especially in the aftermath of Black’s disappearance and Dung Fletcher’s death—Fudge was not the only one who claimed that Potter was losing his grip.  Basil’s presence held the department heads in balance, kept power narrowly on James’ side.  That, of course, had not stopped him from capturing her.

Even life in Azkaban beat death.

So he fought, and he killed, and he captured, even though Snape—unlike the fools that he led—understood that this strike was not meant to take the Ministry.  The goal was simple: kill a dozen or so, snipe at any Aurors who dared to show their faces, and laugh.  Laugh as the Ministry fell all over itself in a failure.

Fail they did.  Even Alice Longbottom couldn’t straighten out that mess, try though she did.  Something was missing.  But three Aurors could not stand up to a dozen and a half Death Eaters, especially with Ministry employees getting in the way.  And they could not succeed like this.

And those innocent bystanders were good at getting in the way.  Snape killed one when trying to hit Alice Longbottom with a Bone Breaker—he’d been aiming for her leg, but the idiot had managed to fall on his face right in the curse’s path, and his skull had exploded.  Interestingly, Alice hadn’t even yelped when the fragments had sprayed her in the face.  She’d only targeted Snape with an Imperius Curse that almost took him down.

Sometimes, he wondered which side he was really on.

Incendio!”

He almost lit her on fire without meaning to—which quite neatly proved the point he was always trying to make to his students: pay attention!—and dove aside when Alice’s pesky student aimed some mild curse his way.  That was the problem with former Hogwarts students.  Unless they turned out to be Death Eaters, they were inevitably trying to kill him.

Even as Snape rolled to his feet, an explosion rocked the ground out from under him and sent him face down once more.   He swore and hauled himself to his feet.

“Let’s go,” he ordered the others, and got some mutinous glares in response, especially from Osborne Blackwood, who had somehow acquired delusions of grandeur about his position in the Death Eater hierarchy.  But a meaningful gesture with his wand drove Osborne on—the other did not doubt that Snape would hex him on the spot and drag him twitching from the Ministry.

Besides, the last explosion had been the conclusion of their raid.  The Ministry’s shiny new gates—donated, he suspected, by Salamander’s—were burning brightly, despite the idiots’ best efforts to put them out.  Fools.  The fires would burn for hours.

By then, the Death Eaters would be on Azkaban, listening again to the screams.

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

“Where are they?” James asked softly.

Snape threw him a sideways look.  “On Azkaban, of course,” the other replied. “I thought you knew.”

“Maybe I did.”  James sighed and glanced at the old and ornate calendar that hung on his office wall—another object inherited from Dumbledore, but one that he actually liked.  November 14th.  Two days after the attack on the Ministry and almost a month after Voldemort’s strike on Hogsmeade.  A month and four days since Sirius had disappeared.  “It’s just…” He never bothered to say the words: they’re children.  Snape was aware of that fact, and could not afford to show whatever—if anything—he felt on the subject.  “We need Sirius.”

“Tell that to him,” Snape retorted.

James felt his shoulders slump.  “I would if I could find him.”

“Some friend.”

“Don’t say that,” James snapped.

Two black eyebrows rose.  “Is it not true?”

“You have no right to judge him!”  It was hard not to shout, impossible not to snarl.  He knew he was getting angry for little reason, but James could not help himself.  His nerves were frayed, and the pressure was still growing.

“Don’t I?” Snape countered coldly.  “I have seen what he is doing.  I have seen the road he is walking.  And I, for one, would be surprised if he dares to return.”  His eyes flashed.  “Do not delude yourself, Potter.   If he does, he will not be the man you remember.”

“You can’t know that. You can’t be sure,” James retorted, fighting back the nausea that rose in his stomach.  “You don’t know him.”

The answer was cold.  “Neither will you.”

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

Two pieces of news broke on November 22nd, each worse than the last.  The first was that blinded Auror Gabriel Binns had finally checked out of St. Mungo’s on the evening of the 21st, heading for home with his sister.  A short battle had broken out on the streets of Muggle London, but a blind Auror had not fared well against a half dozen Death Eaters—especially when his twin sister was slain by Bellatrix Lestrange.  Evidence suggested that Samantha Binns had fought well—but not well enough.

Her obituary had screamed for Sirius Black’s return, and had blamed him for the world’s sudden shift to darkness.  Heroes, Charles Li pointed out, did not turn their back upon those who needed them most.  Sirius Black had walked away, but he owed the Wizarding world more than that.  They needed his help, and who was he to refuse them?  Wasn’t the world worth more than whatever he was doing?  It was his fault that Samantha Binns had turned into just another innocent with another wasted life.

And her brother was just another Auror, rotting in Azkaban.  His arrival brought the estimated total of prisoners up to one hundred and twenty-seven, including one hundred and twenty-two children, all between the ages of four and eleven.  Children who had no families left to fight for them.

So the Prophet tried, and ended up pinning the blame—and the responsibility—on Sirius Black.

Worse still, was Laçenne.

Rarely had Voldemort struck at mainland Europe, but France’s alliance with England seemed to end that amnesty.  Only minutes after Bellatrix Lestrange and her companions captured Gabriel Binns, yet another strike took place—this one the oldest purely Wizarding town in the world.  Many modern-day magical traditions could be traced to Laçenne, and almost every important Wizarding family had relatives there.  Laçenne was even the ancestral home of the Montagues, fifth of the Fourteen.  It was the oldest town in their world, and everyone who was anyone had been there.  Few were those who did not love it—beautifully perched at the mouth of the Seine, Laçenne was everything a Wizarding town should have been.

Most of Laçenne’s residents expected that to keep them safe, even though the town had firmly declared for Eugène Legarde.  They were proud to say that their president hailed from the oldest of all Wizarding towns, and they were prouder still to say that he was right.  Darkness had to be fought.

Within an hour, the town was empty save for the bodies.  Voldemort and his followers did not touch a single one of the ancient and famous buildings—the Dark Lord simply ordered the extermination of the entire population.  Two thousand year old buildings he left alone.   Three thousand five hundred witches and wizards he slew—most in their sleep, but some fighting.  Within sixty short minutes, Laçenne had become a ghost town in the truest sense of the word.

All except five.  Five Aurors Voldemort hauled off to Azkaban: Christophe Montague, Thierry Moreau, Charlotte Fournier, Josette Simon, and Marie Roux.  All had fought.  All went down.

Five more to Azkaban.

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

Prisoner number one hundred and thirty-three was Sam Ackerly.  A former Auror and father of the late Edward Ackerly (slain in the Riddle House Raid), he had been inexplicably pulled from his home, after watching his wife and nine year old son tortured to death.  What Voldemort wanted with a man who had already broken was beyond the magical community’s comprehension, but to Azkaban Ackerly went.

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

Next was Mafalda Hopkirk, captured during that second attack upon the Ministry.  Although less damaging than the first—physically speaking—the death toll reached twenty-seven Ministry workers, over three-quarters of which were killed during that second attack.  Fudge screamed bloody murder and James vowed revenge, but no amount of pretty speeches could heal the damage done.

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

Then it grew more complicated.

Avalon.  25 November 1992.  With the year coming to a close and a new Auror class (4905) due on the first of January, French and British Aurors were working at a feverish pace to standardize tactics, procedure, and—most importantly—to learn from one another.  The French had not been embroiled in a war for almost a century, and their last major threat had been a rather weak dark wizard, especially when compared to Voldemort or Grindelwald, both of whom Britain had faced alone.  But while the British had experience, the French had the advantage of numbers.  They hadn’t had an Azkaban raid, a destroyed Ministry, or a Diagon Alley.  They were still strong.

“Jean…?” Bill Weasley walked into Avalon’s main hall, hating what he had to do.  The head of all French Aurors looked up from his coffee and quirked an eyebrow.

Ouais?”  

Bill swallowed.

He couldn’t help liking Jean—although the Frenchman was a bit prickly at times, he had a lively sense of humor and his president’s ear.  Due to Jean’s intervention, there were now nine French Aurors on Avalon…and the plans were to bring the newest class of French Aurors there as well.  This, of course, was a secret that none of the Aurors had shared with their respective governments; Alice had just nodded grimly and said that they could find out when they found out. 

But finding out was not always a good thing.

Slowly, Bill lowered himself into the chair across from Jean, and watched the older wizard’s face tighten ominously.  Bill was usually good at hiding his emotions, but in this case, he was certain that he wore the truth on his face.  Unable to stop himself, he swallowed hard.

“What is wrong, Bill?” Jean asked quietly, as if afraid of his own voice.

He had to take a deep breath before speaking.  “There was…an attack.”  Get it over with, Weasley! he ordered himself.  Don’t’ make him suffer!  “Death Eaters, last night.  Your wife—”

Jean did not speak, but his face went white the moment the word left Bill’s mouth.  Ever so slowly, his hands rose to cover his mouth and his eyes went wide.

“I am so sorry,” Bill whispered, feeling the inadequacies of the remark immediately.  But what else was there to say?

“Is…” Jean sucked in a deep breath, struggled for self control.  “Is she—

“Yes,” Bill replied as gently as he could.  But Aurors would not lie to each other, even when a gulf of nationalities and age lay between them.  “Here.”

The small piece of paper hung in the air between them for several moments before Jean accepted it, his hands shaking.  It wasn’t much—just a scrap of a note handed from one Auror to the other through a fireplace when they didn’t feel that even owl post could be trusted.  Bill had already read it because he hadn’t known who it was for; unsealed, the note bore no address and his counterpart had disappeared too quickly to tell the English Auror who to give it to.  Now, though, it made him feel like a peeping tom.

Jean unfolded the note slowly and read the few lines.  Bill watched his eyes shut for a moment, and then open again, clear and focused.  The French Auror swallowed.

“I need to go,” he said softly.  “For now.  I must tell her family…They’re Muggles, you know.  They won’t understand.”

A partially sheepish, partially forced smile crossed his face, and Bill rose with him. 

“Would you like some company?” he asked before even considering the words. He had duties on Avalon, but they could wait.

“No.” Jean shook his head calmly.  “I will go alone.”

Bill swallowed.  “Don’t—”

“Do anything foolish?” Jean finished for him, shaking his head.  “My friend, I would not.  Not yet.  And”—finally, his voice cracked—“there is too much yet to be done.”

“Your family…?”

“Long dead.”

Bill didn’t quite know what to say to that; he could only stand and watch as Jean walked out of the hall, calm and collected but missing something that had been there only minutes before.  The charismatic and cheerful Frenchman had gone quiet, and his steps were no longer so certain.  It was the same for everyone when they lost family members, but Jean had the distinction of being the first in a new category.  Voldemort was now targeting French Aurors, too.

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

“It feels like a betrayal, meeting here,” Peter said quietly.  Remus nodded in silence, sitting next to the fire and poking it ever so often with an actual poker—heaven only knew where he got one of those in the ancient Black household.  Perhaps it had been there all along.

“How do you think I feel every day?” James asked glumly.  “I live here.”

“Why don’t you just rebuild Godric’s Hollow?” Peter asked sensibly.

James shrugged. “Easier said than done. But we will.  Eventually.”

“Anyway,” Remus interjected when no one else wanted to speak.  His chest felt heavy.  “About Sirius.”

“Yeah.” Peter winced.

“We need to find him.”  There were times that Remus hated being the voice of reason, even if it was his natural role.  And he hated stating the obvious.

“I’m running out of ideas,” James admitted, scrubbing his hands over his face and shoving his glasses aside irritably to rub his eyes.  “He’s not responding to letters—they all come back without even being opened.  And we’ve looked everywhere… the Shrieking Shack, Avalon, his old flat, the caves outside Hogsmeade, every Muggle and Magical park between here and the Channel...”

“I’m starting to wonder if he’s in Britain at all,” Remus said when James trailed off.

“If the lost dog fliers didn’t find him, he’s not hiding as Padfoot,” Peter added.  “I peppered the whole island with them.  And France.”

Remus sighed.  “He doesn’t want to be found.”

“Do we care?” James retorted, and Remus shrugged.  Yes, they did care…but only so much.  They cared for their friend, but they all had shouldered responsibilities that should have meant more than mere friendship—and did not.  Sirius’ disappearance stung.  He’d been gone a month and a half.

“You ought to know, James, how hard it is to find an Auror who doesn’t want to be found,” Peter put in quietly. 

“But not impossible,” the former Auror replied quietly, and then deflated.  “At least we know that Alice and the others are as lost as we are.  They sent Bill Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks to look for him a couple of weeks ago, but nothing came up.  Both are back on Avalon, now.”

Peter groaned, and Remus could not help agreeing.  Often, he tried not to think about Sirius, tried not to worry about where their friend might be and what trouble he might be in—but with James and Peter, that was impossible, and the pain welled up again.  The pain and the visions.

One figure, striding across a windswept plain.  Dark robes whipped out behind him, dancing as the sky grew black.

There was not even a wand in his hand, and Remus could not see his face.  But Remus did not need to.

One man.

A storm.

Alone.

Walking.

Thunder crashed.

He blinked as James’ hand landed on his arm.  “You alright, Moony?”

Even the nickname hurt. “I’ll be fine.  It was just another vision.”

“Bad?” Peter asked softly.

Remus nodded mutely.  He had told the others about the Font after Sirius had left, realizing that secrets could only divide them in a time they needed nothing less than to stand apart.  Thankfully, Peter and James had understood, and they did not blame him.  Sirius’ long-kept secrets, however, would be harder to explain…whatever they turned out to be.

“We’ve got to find him,” James said decisively.

“How?”  Remus hated to sound so hopeless, but between the facts and his vision…everything they had fought for was dying, and all because of one man’s choice to run away.  “You said yourself that we’ve looked everywhere.”

One choice can change it all.

James started to answer, then stopped himself with a helpless shrug.  For a long moment, he and Remus stared at each other, trying to think of something—but only aware of how empty the room felt without Sirius there.  It was as if they were living those dreadful ten years all over again, back when they had thought Sirius dead and gone forever.  Is that how it works? Remus thought heartbrokenly.  We get him back for barely over a year, and then he is gone again?  He could see the same bitterness reflected in James’ hazel eyes.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be the ones looking, then,” Peter said suddenly.

“What?” Both Remus and James turned to stare at him, and Peter tried to smile.  The effort failed, though, because he was feeling as heartsick as the other two.

“Well, we know him best.  Sirius knows that…so he’ll hide from us.  Right?”

Remus nodded slowly. “Right…”

“So let’s get someone else. Someone who has been finding things for years.”

“Huh?” James looked at him blankly.

Peter smiled. “Don’t worry, Prongs. I’ve got an idea.”

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

Darkness and darkness.

He no longer counted the days as they passed; he simply worked, grew, bled, and remembered.  Reality and dreams were growing harder to tell apart.  Everything felt the same.

And the only shreds of normalcy lay between the pages of an old leather journal.  It was the only sense of sanity that remained—a purpose.  Purpose.  He thought the word over and over again in the dark, though he did not think he spoke aloud.  He had a purpose.

Step by step.

Day by day.

Darkness.

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

Knock, knock.

“Not again!” she snarled to herself, pausing to cast an angry glance at Cleopatra, her fat, lazy, and orange cat.  Pattie, of course, ignored the incessant knocking—it used to frighten her, but after the three times a day (as regular as meals) pounding, the poor creature had given up.  Now she just lay on the counter and yawned.

Julia paused to knock Pattie off the counter on her way to the door—as much as she loved the cat, Pattie had to get out of that habit of lying on the counter.  Julia could not abide cat hair in her food.

Pattie screeched at Julia as her owner flew by, snarling and spitting as she bounced off the wall and landed on her feet.  Julia, however, ignored the cat.  Again.

Ce qui vous veulent?” she shouted, knowing exactly who it was and wishing that her parents hadn’t raised her to be polite and never leave someone standing on the doorstep.  Why don’t I just pretend I’m not home? she asked herself for the hundredth time, dodging around a pile of books on her way to the door.  I need to clean.  Again.  She always needed to clean.  Her flat might not have been dirty, but it sure was cluttered.  Her mother would not have been proud.

Then again, her parents would have rolled over in their graves had they known that she was working in a Muggle city as a Muggle librarian.  It was boring work, for the most part, but it helped her blend in, and Julia had never stopped loving books.  At least it gave her something to do—and it might have even been amusing had Jerry, her erstwhile would-be suitor, not had a job in the café next door.

Muttering came from the other side of the door; at least he wasn’t trying to romance her in his horrendous French.  Julia spoke the French of the Fourteen, taught to her by her mother, a Montague and native of France.  Jerry, on the other hand…Jerry Silverman was from New York City.  And he liked to pretend that he knew French.

 Ce qui vous veulent maintenant?” Julia repeated, pulling the peephole away so that she could look outside.  It was Jerry, of course, but she still wanted to see who she was shouting at.

“Umm…English?” Peter Pettigrew replied sheepishly, glancing up at her through the hole.

“Peter!” Julia threw the door open in surprise, then remembered to glance down the hall.  Fortunately, it was still empty.  “Come in, please.”

“I’m alone, if that’s what you’re worried about,” the small man said quietly, stepping inside and allowing Julia to shut (and lock) the door behind him.

She smiled. “Sorry. I’ve learned to be paranoid.”

“Me, too.”

Peter looked so uneasy that she almost asked why, but Julia stopped herself just in time.  It wasn’t her business of course—but why was Peter here? Montreal wasn’t exactly a stone’s throw from his flat in London, even when you were a wizard.  Again, she started to ask, then stopped herself.  Mum would kill me for forgetting my manners like this.

“Sit down, please,” she finally said, shoving Pattie off the couch.  “May I offer you a drink?”

“No, thanks,” Peter replied, sitting and glancing around curiously.  “I can’t stay long, and you’re probably wondering why I’m here, anyway.”

“Yeah,” she admitted, dropping into the armchair across from him.  “I was just a little surprised to see you here.”

Peter nodded, fidgeting a bit.  “Well…how much do you know about what is happening back home?”

“A little.” Julia shrugged.  “Not much, really.  I don’t get the Prophet here—it’d be far too easy to find me, and owls don’t make ocean travel very well, anyway.  I don’t get a Canadian Wizarding paper for the same reason.  Besides, they mostly ignore what’s going on in Europe unless it’s sensational.”

“So you haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?”

Peter grimaced.  “Sirius disappeared a month and a half ago.”

“What?” Suddenly, she was short of breath and her head started spinning.  Dissadead?

She was not quite sure how the word came out at all.

“No.” Peter shook his head quickly.  “Or at least we don’t think so—and he’s not been captured, either.”  Julia started breathing again.  “It’s just…he walked away.  Left Avalon without telling anyone, and we don’t know where he went.”

“Walked away?” she echoed.

Peter nodded wearily.  “We—me, James, and Remus—have been looking ever since he left.  We’ve run out of ideas.”

“And you want my help.”  Her mind was still having problems catching up with what Peter was saying, but Julia grasped that much.  Sirius is gone? Gone?  She felt cold. Why would he run away?

“I know that it’s dangerous for you,” he replied hesitantly.  “And I wouldn’t have come if I thought there was another way…but things are getting bad, Julia.  Really bad, and we need Sirius.”

“How bad?” she whispered, trying to imagine what could have brought Peter across an ocean to find her. 

“Bad enough that I don’t think we’ll last another month.” He swallowed. “We’ve got to find him, Julia, and you’re the only chance we’ve got.”

She stood quickly, reading sincerity in his face and knowing that Peter was a horrible liar.  Had the Dark Lord wanted to trap her, Julia knew, he would never have used Pettigrew—especially since Peter had turned his back on Voldemort forever, and Julia knew he would rather die than betray his friends.  Little Peter Pettigrew was far stronger than met the eye.

“Let me pack.”

 

 


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


 

 

The Other Author’s Note: This one is quite dark, I know, but it does get better in the future.  The plot has started to untangle itself in my mind, and I promise a ride at least as entertaining as Promises Unbroken and Promises Remembered.  So stick around for Chapter Three: Search and Destroy in the coming week, and please let me know what you think!

 

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