Written for the QLFC, Season 6, Round Eleven.
Position Prompt: The Orphanage (2007)
Word Count: ~1930
A/N — What inspired me to write this story is the way little Simon dies in the movie. His death is involuntarily caused by his mother, but it's not instantaneous: he tries to get help, to get out of the room where he's been locked. Plus, I've thrown into the mix the general sense of dread and wait and suspense (which I hopefully got right in my story) that permeated the movie, and the idea of a family being disrupted… all because of a child.
This is an AU, set after the War, where Remus, Tonks, and Bellatrix survive the Battle of Hogwarts. Also, Harry and Remus now have the two-way mirrors.
Warning: character death, some goriness
Summary: a dark figure is wandering the streets of London with only one purpose in mind: revenge.
Characters: Ginny, Bellatrix, Tonks, Remus
Genre: horror, angst, tragedy
~Nowhere is safe~
It must be the faint knock knock that wakes her up.
Ginny opens her eyes in the dark room and reaches out for Harry on her left, but the other half of the bed is empty—her husband is out on Auror's duty. She'd have wanted to wear her old school robes, slip one of the Dumbledore's Army coins in her pocket, and get out on the streets with him, her wand drawn and Neville at her side. It'd have been just like old times.
Instead, Harry leaned on her before leaving, kissing her lips and stomach, where a five-month-old James Sirius Potter is growing, a child in the making that needs his mother to be careful and forget about Death Eaters and patrolling for a while.
Knock knock, says the room again. Knock. Knock knock.
It doesn't come from the door or the window.
"Lumos," Ginny whispers, raising her wand.
Knock knock knock.
"Harry?" But Harry wouldn't knock.
She slides off the bed, keeping her wand ready in front of herself. Her bare feet on the cold floor send shivers through her legs before she puts on a pair of shoes. She has goosebumps—she can't say whether from the cold or the subtle fear of that persistent knock knock in their empty room.
Knock, the room repeats. Knock knock.
Ginny startles then laughs at herself when she realizes where the noise comes from; it's the two-mirror that they fixed after the war and now use to communicate with Remus and Tonks.
The light from her wand dances on the surface of the mirror as she takes it, expecting to see Remus' face on it and preparing to scold him for scaring her, but all she can see is a huge cream-colored splotch.
Ginny stares at the mirror, frowning. "Remus?" she calls.
No one answers.
She tilts her head and looks at the mirror again, turning it around, and all of a sudden she sees it. The knuckles, the nails—she sees a hand. A hand that seems huge because it's lying on the mirror. A hand that looks feminine and too flabby.
"Tonks?" she says again. "Tonks!"
Tonks doesn't answer, her hand doesn't move.
One should never Apparate while pregnant, Ginny thinks, leaning against the wall to catch her breath and keep the sickness at bay.
Remus and Tonks' house is dark and silent. She's about to call them, she expects them to come down to meet her, but an odd smell permeates the air, something pungent and wild… almost alive.
Ginny sniffs the air once more before moving carefully towards the stairs. A bright white light floods the living room, she notices as she passes by it.
It's a full moon.
It's a full moon, and this is Remus' house.
Ginny freezes. One should never, ever Apparate to a less than safe place; never, ever Apparate to a werewolf's house on a full moon. But then she remembers Remus has been taking the Wolfsbane every month, conscientiously. Professor Slughorn brews it, and he's the most skilled potionist in Great Britain.
Remus has taken the Wolfsbane.
It's all right.
The smell of wild animals awakens something deep inside Ginny, screams at her to leave this place and bring her baby in the making out of there, but there was a giant hand dropped on the two-way mirror, and maybe Tonks is alone, and Remus isn't... available. And what if Tonks is ill, and there's no one who can help her?
Ginny can't just leave Tonks and Teddy alone tonight, when no street is safe since they spotted Bellatrix Lestrange in Diagon Alley a few hours ago. That's why Harry is on duty with Ron and other people who are not pregnant with James Sirius.
With a foot on the first step, Ginny opens her mouth to call Tonks, but she shuts down even before her tongue moves because, she tells herself, maybe Tonks is sleeping. Ginny goes upstairs as silently as she can. She will check on Tonks, and if everything's fine, she'll go home. Tomorrow morning, she'll call the Lupins, and they'll laugh together of all of this.
She walks down the hallway, constantly alert, keeping her back to the wall—the war may be over, but nowhere is safe, especially now that Bellatrix Lestrange is on the loose.
Suddenly, creak, something hard is under her left foot. She can feel it even through the bottom of her shoe. Looking down, she sees shards of glass glowering and reflecting the moonlight.
She moves her right foot: creak, again.
She looks up; the window is shattered, its frames ripped down.
A windy night, Ginny thinks, her thoughts slowed down as if reaching her through a viscous material, her eyes fixed on the window. If it were a windy night—
—she should be hearing the wind hiss and howl through the broken glass.
The smell of wild animals feels more pungent, more present, more important here
Gritting her teeth, she raises her wand and keeps going.
I should Disapparate, she thinks, disappear, go away. As far away as possible. James, inside her womb, really needs her to be cautious, but she has to think of little Teddy and Tonks too, a few rooms away, and if they're hurt…
If not all is fine—because not all is right, the shattered window proves it—Ginny can't leave.
She keeps a hand on her stomach and her wand raised.
The hallway is quiet, but there's a broken vase on the floor and a huge laceration on the wallpaper.
Tonks and Remus' bedroom door is wide open. Ginny walks the last three paces until she stands in the doorway. She looks inside, and everything else becomes insubstantial. What she sees will fill her nightmares forever.
Tonks is lying prone on the bed, her blood staining the sheets, while her chest rises and falls in a painfully slow way. It's like she's choking.
Ginny staggers into the bedroom and ends up kneeling on the bed, her hand reaching out but not quite touching Tonks' shoulder.
She doesn't need to be a healer to know there's nothing she can do. Ginny saw enough bodies after the Battle of Hogwarts, was there when they separated the corpses from the injured.
Tonks' hair is as white as the pillow her head is resting on. Her eyes are wide open, staring into space. The two-way mirror is under her left knuckles.
She must have knocked, Ginny realizes, because she was too weak to cry. She was seeking help. Then other thoughts horrify Ginny: how long did she knock? Did Tonks call me, but I didn't hear her?
Ginny didn't hear her, wasn't in time to save her.
Could I have been in time?
"Oh, Tonks," Ginny whispers. "I'm here, Tonks. It's okay. We're going straight to St. Mungo." Her voice is croaky, but at least it doesn't waver.
Tonks shivers and convulses. The mirror slides down the mattress and crashes on the floor, the sound startling Ginny.
Ginny, worried, tries to hush her. "No, no, Tonks. Don't speak. You—"
"She…" Tonks manages to whisper. "She. Here."
Oh! Ginny thinks before Disapparating, leaving Tonks behind.
Nowhere is safe.
After You-Know-Who was defeated by Harry Potter the first time, legends and horror stories about that night flourished.
Ginny still remembers one that begins like this, "Someone dressed in black opens the door of a safe house on a cold and quiet Halloween night, climbs the stairs, and goes in search of the baby sleeping in his crib..."
Someone entered Remus and Tonks' house, went upstairs, and—they didn't kill Tonks; that must be Remus, Ginny thinks—looked for the child that slept peacefully in his bed.
Ginny Apparates right outside Teddy's room and immediately crouches to avoid a blinding green flash.
"Stupeficium," she cries, ignoring her stomach in turmoil and pointing her wand to the general direction the Killing Curse came from.
The black figure ducks.
Ginny struggles to her feet, feeling dizzy. The wall she's about to lean against to regain her balance explodes. She casts a Shield Charm just in time before yelling, "Expelliarmus."
It doesn't work, and that's when Ginny hears the mocking laughter that sends shiver through her spine—her crazed cackle, the same the resounded when Sirius, and so many others, died.
"Too late," Bellatrix sings. "Too late, too late!"
Ginny is nauseous, but from Teddy's room comes a sound: a child's crying. Too late for Tonks. Too late for Remus. Not for Teddy.
She straightens her shoulders, a hand on her stomach, and reaches out for the door handle, planning to barricade herself in Teddy's room, send a Patronus to Harry to warn him, and resist for as long as possible.
She never makes it.
Pieces of ceiling rain all over her. They're as big as her head. The shield she casts deforms under their weight, and she knows she won't be able to make them all explode before they hit her.
Having no other choice, she Disapparates again.
She becomes aware of her mistake as soon as she looks around. She's safe now, but five meters too far away from Teddy.
Bellatrix laughs again as she enters the child's bedroom.
I'm too late, Ginny thinks, the thought being panic and horror and nausea. Too late.
"Expelliarmus," she says, daring not cast any other spell because in that room, maybe in Bellatrix's arms now, there's precious, soft, fragile Teddy.
She runs, the few meters becoming thousands and thousands, her eyes fixed on the darkness of the room, afraid a green light will disrupt it at any moment.
She hears Bellatrix's voice and then she sees her stumbling out of the room.
Ginny's lips part as she aim her wand at her, but another thing leaps out of the room: a growling animal with too long limbs.
Bellatrix screams, the werewolf's fangs closing around her throat.
Ginny is frozen. She feels hysteria growing inside, her stomach hurts, and she wishes she could scream, Disapparate, stun Remus—anything. But her body doesn't function anymore.
"It wasn't Wolfsbane," Harry says later, his lips pale, his face aged about ten years in one night.
Ginny is sure she must look the same.
Slughorn was under the Imperius Curse for at least a few months, and whatever Remus had been taking wasn't Wolfsbane. That night, the werewolf killed Tonks and then went to find the child. However, he didn't hurt Teddy in any way. He did, instead, tear Bellatrix to pieces. Bellatrix, who had placed the Imperius Curse on Slughorn. Bellatrix, who went after her nephew to avenge her Lord—everybody knows how much Harry loves his godson. And Teddy is Andromeda's half-blood grandson, too.
Ginny holds Teddy in her arms and listens as he calls for his Mummy. She doesn't know what to say, how to explain… Three-year-old Teddy is too young to understand that there's no mum anymore.
Harry, the head in his hands, cries.
Remus' tears are running down his cheeks and falling on Tonks' body that he refuses to let go. He seems to be having trouble breathing.
Tonks is still white, her chest still. There's a broken mirror on the floor. Ginny doesn't think Remus will be able to recover from all of this, to overcome what happened.
They lost him, too.
There's no turning back from things like that, and the memories will hunt them all for ages.
Someone dressed in black enters a safe house late at night and sets the monster free.
It's a horror story, and Ginny wishes it had a end.