|To Sunder the Sea
Author: Wandrian PM
She was there when he had killed all those people. And now she's found him, traced straight to Grimmauld Place, seeking revenge. But when the truth emerges what remains is something more than vindication, but the deepest of all magic. Sirius/OC.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Sirius B. & OC - Chapters: 6 - Words: 23,484 - Reviews: 64 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 41 - Updated: 06-28-10 - Published: 09-20-09 - id: 5389722
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
— To Sunder the Sea —
To the Transparent, Tangibly: Part 1
She was always a trickster,
and should have been a Marauder.
I would never have been either.
Another look, another memory.
They will never end.
— — —
The screech was first heard late in the day when the sun was beginning to descend from the skyline, the afternoon light turning opalescent across the white mantle of snow that encompassed the grounds and Hogwart's many towers. The majority of students remained inside the castle and its warmth, shying away from the wintry wind and the graying clouds that promised another whiteout.
It had almost been peaceful, sitting upon the iced cobblestone, back braced up against a pillar and reading Muggle literature in winter's solitary silence. Then it happened again, the strange, voluble screech that nearly approached the force of a sonic boom.
Evey sighed, closing the book previously splayed across her lap with a quick snap. There was a flurry of crunching, a staccato of footfall that grew louder and closer, and when she peered up, there was Narcissa Black inelegantly stalking her way through the snow with a rage that could unnerve any boggart. Evey's mouth twitched.
"Oh, Narcissa," she blinked, looking surprised, and then gestured towards the sky. "What a pleasant day we're having, yes?"
Narcissa Black halted a foot away, towering and eclipsing the entire backdrop of the castle from view, casting an ominous, severe shadow across her face. She was quivering with ire and looking so harried that her blonde locks were so tousled that it appeared as though she had recently dueled a jolt of lightning. There was a moment of silence before her astonishing screech once more threatened to shatter the sound barrier.
"How dare you chat idly with me!" she shouted, nostrils flared and hands balled into trembling fists, the echo of her pitch causing mounds of snow to fall from the battlements and icicles to snap from their ledges. High above in the Owlery, owls fluttered from their perch in surprise. "I know it was you, Evelyn Martin, you insignificant, little Mudblood leach."
"What is this that you speak of, my dear narcissistic Narcissa?" Evey questioned, raising her eyebrows in mock pomposity. "Because, honestly, I've only been reading this mere trifling Muggle book, which might be a foreign procedure to you considering it's not necessarily a prerequisite to read when being an overwrought, blithering wench, but nonetheless."
"You plebian, blood-blasphemous imp!" Narcissa snarled and pivoted on her heels, pointing imperiously towards the archway behind her. "Only you would have the gall to do that!"
Evey stretched her neck over Narcissa's quaking, sylphlike shoulder, noticing that students were beginning to accumulate around the arched entrance and were either sending wary glances in their direction, or were openly snickering towards the blonde-haired girl that was trotting gingerly their way. The girl stopped midway, halting to fix her eyes on something in the distance, her gaze twitching from one unseen thing to another, before raising her hand and slowly, fastidiously licking the backside of it.
Peals of laughter filled the courtyard when the girl folded herself onto the snow, sitting on her hindquarters and preening her other hand. Only once did the girl glance towards the throng of students, sending them an incongruously detached, catlike stare, before suddenly pouncing a hand upon a whirling snowflake. She hissed when another errant snowflake descended towards her other hand, oblivious towards the resonating laughter from the students.
Then Narcissa Black's svelte outline was veiling Evey's view, outrage emanating like fumes from her frenzied glower. Her hand was still extended towards the blonde-haired girl who was indistinguishably her match, from the hair, to the feline, piercing eyes and the black robes cornered in Slytherin silver and green. Narcissa vehemently swung her arm around to point it towards Evey's chest, nearly raking a sharpened fingernail across her cheek.
"You borrowed boomslang skin from Professor Slughorn!" Narcissa seethed, lips thinning into a reptilian sneer. "I asked. I'm not as daft as you may think."
"Oh?" Evey blinked, momentarily biting her lips to keep her laughter from imploding. "I beg to differ. There's a difference from borrowing and purloining something that, once used, can no longer be borrowed," she grinned wolfishly. "Just like the boomslang skin I took from Professor Slughorn's cupboard to make a Polyjuice potion, giving Mrs. Norris a much needed makeover. I think the look suits her—very haute couture, harridan-esque, don't you agree?"
"I demand that you put an end to this right—this—instant!" Narcissa ordered scathingly, tone modulating with rage like a heaving maelstrom. "You will regret this. I will not be insulted by filth that does not even belong amongst magical society! Stop this, Mudblood, before I make you! Now."
Before Evey could reply, there was a sequence of snow being crunched underfoot, and abruptly three heads shot forth from behind Narcissa's back. Each expression ranged from subdued amusement to outright intrigue and glee, and James Potter, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew were simultaneously looking down upon Evey as though she were an awe-inspiring, renowned diabolist.
James stepped around Narcissa, sweeping away at unruly wisps of hair and bouncing upon the snow with delight. He stepped forward and took one of Evey's hands, shaking it vigorously.
"Wicked, Evey," he praised, a daffy grin plastered across his face, glasses fogging. "This is absolutely brilliant, honestly. How did I not think of that?"
Narcissa made a gurgling sound, but was cut short when Remus took a step forward and offered Evey a passive smile. He retrieved James' arm when it began shaking Evey's entire body and ignored when James clapped his hands animatedly, staring at the center of the courtyard where Narcissa Black a la Mrs. Norris was meowing curiously, wide-eyed, at the students. Remus nodded at Evey in recognition.
"Polyjuice potion is not a simple feat," he said, a puckish glint in his eyes. "I'm impressed, Evelyn. Well done."
"Cats?" Peter's tremulous voice caught her attention, and Evey noticed that he was staring nervously at the cat-gone-Black. He made a whimpering sound, then squeaked at Remus and pulled at his robes beseechingly. "Cats, Remus! Wormtail doesn't like cats!"
And when the transfigured Mrs. Norris snapped her head towards Peter, eyes leveling with interest, Peter shrunk into himself and immediately went scuttling towards the castle. His thick, awkward limbs paddled against the snow and cobblestone, widely berthing Mrs. Norris and hunched over as though her eyes scorched his flesh, his wails echoed into silence when he disappeared. James and Remus shared an amused glance, lips twitching, before trotting after their frightened friend.
The crowd of students were dispersing, chortling quietly with one another and glancing behind at the form of Narcissa Black licking herself again, too cold to truly appreciate the sight any further. But more peals of laughter erupted from the archway when Evey glanced back again, seeing Mrs. Norris/Narcissa spring upon another snowflake, head twitching upwards from one falling snowflake towards another, before curving her back like a harried, flanked predator and springing back towards the castle. Students rushed to make room as Mrs. Norris' human limbs scampered through the archway, hissing at them as she passed.
"Evelyn Martin," the bona fide Narcissa Black seethed, once again gaining her attention. "I will not forget this."
Evey smiled. "And here I thought you would appreciate my homage to your feline uniqueness—it's something that shouldn't go overlooked. See, you're proving my point right now. The way you garishly hiss and fling spittle should be sung to the four winds," she cocked her head to the side, unctuous when asking, "Do you use a litter-box or do you just squat in a corner?"
"You are going to pay for this, Mudblood!"
Evey leaned forward, whispering conspiratorially, "Does Bellatrix know someone let you out?"
"I am going to utterly destroy-"
"One sec, there. Hold that thought, my butt's fallen asleep." Evey intermitted, rising to her feet and dusting the migrated snow from her lap. She stretched and casually whisked her book from the ground, then gazed intently at Narcissa's grimace. "You have something in your teeth. Is that a hairball?"
Narcissa shrieked, "Why you little pillock! How dare you-"
"Cool." Evey said, looking impressed. "You do have claws."
Narcissa's face twisted into an unsightly sneer, eyes tapering into slits and her teeth bared like some overgrown, priggish feline, and she lunged with outstretched hands towards Evey. A squeal of outrage escaped from her lips and her robes billowed gracelessly against a gust of wind, but there was an edge of triumph in her expression.
Caught by surprise, Evey hitched her breath, but did not move a muscle. Her eyes narrowed within the few seconds that it took Narcissa to pounce at her. She felt her nostrils flare, and awaited the sharpened fingernails that intended to puncture her skin, determined not to give the Slytherin satisfaction by flinching or dodging her assault.
And then Narcissa's wail was cut short.
A looming shadow eclipsed everything from view, surprising Evey into a jolt and blinking as a wall of dark, silken robes became a blockade a mere two inches from her face. And then Evey's startled brain immediately recognized the aroma of rainfall and cloves and cinders, and an irrepressible smile cornered her lips. From behind the black profile tensed before her, she peered around and saw something that sent a warm tremor down her spine and widened her smile.
Narcissa's arm was suspended in the air, held in place by a strong, calloused hand. The grip on her forearm was tightening, tendons popping out from beneath his skin, and Narcissa's eyes were embattled with outrage and sheer panic.
When Evey settled a hand on his back, feeling his muscles shift under her touch, she could almost tangibly feel the aggravation radiating off of him. He shuddered under her touch, stiffening and keeping his heated gaze locked onto Narcissa Black. She saw his jaw locking and unlocking, eyes unblinking.
It took a few moments for Narcissa to compose herself, and when she did, her gaze became deadlocked onto his. Her nostrils flared and only once did she try to retrieve her arm, but when the grip constricted, she yelped and fear brushed across her features. She held very still, narrowing her gaze on him.
"You." Narcissa seethed.
"Me," he replied calmly, voice rumbling like encroaching thunder.
"It would be best if you would keep your little whelp of a girlfriend on a leash," Narcissa fumed quietly. "Tie her to a tree for all I care, but if she dares to make her trivial, uncouth presence known in my life again, she won't be the only one to regret what I will do to her. Take this as a warning and a promise."
He tightened his grip, the skin of Narcissa's forearm began to redden. It was evident that Narcissa was fighting against the pain, her grimace turning to one of agony, but she did not dare to reclaim her captive arm.
Evey gently pushed her fingers against the sleeve of his robe, and this must have startled him because he flinched and instinctively cast his gaze down upon her. The hardness in his eyes was set aflame, but they scarcely softened when he saw the silent, beseeching gaze she countered with.
"Let her go," she whispered. "Please."
He blinked once, staring at her, but sighed roughly and loosened his fingers from around Narcissa's arm. When he looked back at the Slytherin, Evey felt the hand that had previous instilled a substantial amount of pain snake around her waist, pressing her against his side.
His next words were so low and foreboding that they were almost noxious.
"Try it," he said, pulling her even closer to him; his hard muscles shook against her. "Just try it. Honestly, I would love nothing more than to plunge my wand through your ears—spells be damned. If you so much as lay one measly fingernail on her, I will shred your skin into filaments and rupture every bone in your body. I'm not playing here, Narcissa, there are some people here that live for others, and so unless you have a yearning to look like a mandrake, I'd scamper off while your pure, blasted blood is still intact."
Narcissa inhaled deeply, looking stricken and incensed, and was about to retort when he took a predatory step forward and silenced her.
"Now," he growled.
And with a slantwise glance, elevating her chin in the air, Narcissa pivoted on her heels and quickly sauntered back through the castle's threshold. She never cast a look behind, but her knuckles were clenched at her side.
Silence fell. It was almost palpably thick, like miasma fog, quietly fanned by the wintry wind that whirled within the courtyard. The sky had turned into various smudges of gray, offsetting the skeletal trees and condensing the setting sun's light from view. Moments passed and she dared to breathe.
He did not move, nor did he look at her. His gaze was fixed upon the threshold, eyes still aflame and his jaw straining with tension. His muscles were solid and tight and lightly trembling against her, and when she attempted to shift against him, he followed her action by tucking her even closer under his shoulder. Lost within his incensed thoughts, she slowly rested her forehead against his arm, waiting out his anger and inhaling dew and cloves.
Then he sighed, long and deep and through his nostrils, like some provoked stallion. His rigidity slowly eased. When he finally looked down at her, she attempted a smile.
"Hi, there," she whispered.
He groaned and rolled his eyes, resignation rather than fury etched into his face. When she tried to pull away from his grasp, he merely paralleled her to his side and forced her to walk with him. One arm enfolded around her waist, the other promptly snatching the book from her grasp.
He was still silent as they walked towards the archway. He was no longer tense, but his eyes were still hard and stony. She had forgotten how intense he could become, and stared down at the cobblestone with an inexpressible guilt.
"Thank you for…you know, back there," she said, feeling as though his silence was her punishment. Then she grinned, trying to lighten his dour mood. "But intense much? Your delivery was absolutely superb, but we should work on your syntax."
He stopped for a moment and cast a level, unimpressed gaze at her, raising an eyebrow before he looked away and continued towards the threshold. His eyes were dark, black under the deep furrowing of his brow. He made not a sound, but remained reticent.
"You're angry with me," she said quietly, watching the castle loom closer. But when he made a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat, she peered up at him, whispering ardently, "Please say something."
"You turned Narcissa Black into a cat."
His even, indifferent tone sent shivers down her spine. She grasped a handful of his robes, feeling another surge of contriteness settle in her stomach; she was sure it would stew and brew and fester there if he wouldn't forgive her soon. There were many things she could endure, but his disappointment when her shenanigans became too significant was unbearable, the guilt that stemmed constantly reminded her that she was lucky to have him, that he didn't deserve this, that she didn't deserve him. She inhaled deeply.
But then she gazed up at him, staring until he looked down at her, and smiled cheekily despite herself.
"I did no such thing," she corrected blithely, seeing his lip twitch, and grinned wider. "I turned Filch's cat into Narcissa Black. Really, I think it's a step-up for Narcissa—really adds to her image, especially the licking herself part."
He ran his freehand across his face, sighing long-sufferingly.
"Why did you do it?"
"Why wouldn't I?" she scoffed, then shrugged, inwardly heaving a sigh of relief that he was finally conversing with her; it was good to hear his voice. "She stuffed a dozen acid pops into Laura Abernathy's mouth yesterday, and then chortled with her banshee sister when the poor girl's tongue started to sizzle."
"Merlin's beard," he sighed again, his clipped tone beginning to smooth, and her gave her a withering look. "Evey."
"Yes?" she smiled brightly, then her brows plummeted and she scowled at him, nudging his shoulder. "Who told you, anyways?"
"What do you mean?" He looked genuinely surprised.
"Who told you that it was me behind Mrs. Norris' transformation? Honestly, I'm hurt that you think it's always me who does those kinds of things. Polyjuice potion isn't that difficult—it could have been anyone."
"That's because there is only a select, elite few who have the audacity to do them," he deadpanned, giving her another impervious stare, but his lip twitched again and his eyes were beginning to glint roguishly. "And it was James."
"Figures," she snorted. "You know, he could have been feeding you utter bullocks, trying to cover his own tracks."
Though, as if to contradict her point, a harassed yowl rang through the archway and the Narcissa-esque Mrs. Norris came dashing out on all fours, un-clawed appendages momentarily splaying across the iced cobblestone. She stopped, hunching her back and stared at them with tapered eyes, before hissing and lopping away towards the Forbidden Forest.
He turned towards her. "You were saying?"
She shrugged, complacent, then began tapping her finger against her chin in sudden contemplation.
"Do you think Lily would be upset with me if I stuck a handful of shiny Sickles and Knuts in her robe pockets and turned a niffler into Severus Snape?"
She turned towards him, smiling brightly at the thought. Her smile faltered when seeing the very unenthusiastic, daunting stare he was giving her, and another upsurge of guilt flushed her cheeks and the smile instantly vanished. A brow slowly rose on his face, and she glanced down at the ground.
Then he laughed outright.
Her head snapped up and seen that he was smiling widely, his eyes warm and affectionate and before a grin could morph onto her face, he was suddenly encompassing her in his arms. She could feel his chest shaking with laughter, and she laughed too, nestling herself against his body. He pulled away to look at her face, tenderly stroking back a strand of hair from her eyes.
"And that is why you are utterly adorable," he said, eyes glinting happily.
She raised a brow. "Oh? Not my Veela-esque beauty or mystic, sagacious wisdom that would have Dumbledore kissing my feet?"
Before he could reply a tall, willowy figure punctually emerged from the archway. Both jumped, noticing the long, silvery beard and the half-moon spectacles that could twinkle in a sunless sky. There was a mysterious quirk to Dumbledore's lips, the wind billowing his robes behind him as he regarded them from down his long, crooked nose.
He nodded to them as he passed.
"Your feet are very pretty, Miss Martin, but I fear that if I kissed them it would inspire your fellow students to further gossip and speculation. I, for one, have had too many articles in the Daily Prophet for the time being," he stated matter-of-factly, whisking down the steps. "Now I was told there is a rather imaginative sight to be seen in near Hagrid's cabin. I'm told we have an additional Miss Black in our presence, though this one apparently is coughing up a hairball by the pumpkin patch."
Dumbledore disappeared behind a column, leaving Evey to smile with amusement in his wake. She felt the chest she was pressed against begin to shake again, and she looked up to see that he was silently laughing, looking where Dumbledore had vanished.
"You know," he began, glancing down at her. "Dumbledore sometimes has this way of creeping upon people that makes you wonder if he and Professor Binns trade creeper secrets over tea."
She laughed. "Agreed."
"Now let's go, your hands feel like ice," he said, pulling her along, grasping both her hands in his and rubbing them together. He quirked a brow at her chapped fingers. "I've just filched a few tankards of butterbeer from Caradoc—we'll heat them up by the fire. You're going to be toasty warm by the time I'm done with you, Evelyn Martin."
"And you, Logan Thatcher, are a horrible hypocrite—filching butterbeers. And you say that I'm bad."
He laughed outright again and pulled her even closer, nuzzling his nose under her jaw and smiling against her skin when she squirmed.
"Come on, James and Sirius loaded up on treacle tarts last night from the kitchens. We'll filch some of those, too."
Evey turned her head and pressed her lips to his cheek, then broke away. "Race you!"
— — —
And then, as though the miasma-thick corridor had been sliced in two, the mottled troupe once again found themselves upon the entryway of Grimmauld Place. The antechamber had not changed, still squelched of light and overwhelmingly musky. As the two orbs of wandlight penetrated the dark, Evey saw details that had not been previously noticeable, mainly the peeling royal-blue wallpaper and that gilded frames of portraits lined a wall ascending a staircase.
There was a large frame, tarnished from age and neglect, at the foot of the stairs. She eyed it curiously, wondering idly what picture lay behind the thick curtains and cobwebs, but was abruptly pushed along by the burrowing tip of a wand. She bit her lip in surprise.
"Move, you lil' rat," Moody's gravelly voice breathed down her neck. "Before I make you."
A hand shot forth from the black shroud and a new swathing of wandlight enclosed around her. Remus was suddenly there, standing next to her side and effectively butting Alastor's encroaching presence to the rear. He gave her a subdued smile, but shrugged wordlessly and led her past the staircase and into a new region of the house. A shiver snaked down her spine, her senses reflecting upon the feeling of being led into the maw of some entrapping cave.
She looked behind, giving Alastor an exultant glare, casting away her aggravation at the sight of how deep and craggy his corresponding scowl became. But a movement to Remus' right snapped her head to attention, her gaze fixing upon the man who walked almost as rigidly as she.
He kept his eyes trained ahead of him, half of his face basking in the wandlight, the other consumed by the aged shadows. What part of his expression that remained illuminated sent a harrowing tremor throughout her body. The gauntness was stretched smooth, his brow pulling into a glower and sharpening the hard fixation in his eyes. His lips moved slowly, very slowly, in tight unison as though he were muttering curses into the dark.
There was no hysterical mirth in his eyes, like so long before, but the spine-locked tension and glinting gaze read otherwise. Even his hair fell across his forehead, brushed by a spectral wind of the breeze fourteen years prior, and her fingers constricted into white ball of agony at the sight.
Again, she was brewing in the fury that had been festering for over a decade, reminded once more of what she had lost in the hands of the man who walked a mere three feet away.
When a strangled gurgle inched into the silence, she reeled back from her glare, realizing that her throat was constricting and hot, acrid tears were filling her eyes. She blinked vehemently, fixing her gaze to the putrefying floorboards she walked upon and pushed aside the memories that were breeching her resolve. Her hands shook, but through her periphery she seen that he had shifted again, walking soundlessly, head tilted in her direction.
Breathe, she thought distraughtly. Just breathe...focus on the tempo of footsteps, ignore the silence—ignore the fury and desperation. Breathe but do not let it go…
And then Remus' hand was on her forearm, coming to a halt and flicking on a light-switch. Immediately bright, luminescent light bathed the room into an almost severe glow from gas lamps that marked the ceiling. She blinked furiously again, eyes dilating and adjusting to the intense clarity, slowly moving her eyes across the room.
The light extended across the expanse of a dining room, sharpening the shadows where it did not touch. The wallpaper had once been the shade of lavender, but was peeling and faded and superimposed by large cobwebs. The furniture was dark, painted in black lacquer and nearly veiled by a film of dust; only a dining table and a massive hutch adorned the room, and a garishly crested china set was placed within.
She hitched a breath as one furry, spindly leg poked out the dresser's door, but it instantly withdrew when Alastor's prominent clanking resounded into the dining room.
The silence was no longer smothering from the shadows, and it felt as though the darkness was tangibly lifting its heavy pall from her shoulders. She basked in the light, relishing its ensconcing comfort although her tongue was still indignantly latched to the roof of her mouth. Remus' grasp was light and courteous, something she had not felt in a very, very long time; she almost sighed at the sentiment.
And then the shadows returned, or a shadow, one that condensed into a looming profile that blackened and eclipsed the rest of the dining room from view. Caught by surprise, Evey stiffened as the swooping came to a halt. He even tensed.
"Evelyn Martin," a even voice drawled.
Her eyes narrowed on the figure towering closer, his robes fluttering behind him like a phantom's cape, and he slowed to a halt before her. A mixture of dread and rankling aggravation merged hotly beneath her skin, the hairs on her arms prickling and her muscles fastening together. Even Remus had tightened his hold on her arm.
If her focus wasn't so centered, she would have noted the heavy, meaningful glance Remus and Sirius had shared for a split second. Both had flinched at the sound of her name.
The man before her smiled, a sort of twisted, devilish sneer that gave clear view of yellowed teeth. He crossed his arms over his chest, chin settled evenly in the air and he regarded her with a look of purely satisfied contempt. His smirk deepened and an eyebrow rose on his sallow face.
"What a strange sight this is to behold," he said, eyes scrutinizing. "The trickster herself, the little, elusive Evelyn Martin has graced us with her presence—should I stand aside and look coy and honored? But what is this? She is muted and bound? Has the lone wolf gone awry again? And no one to save her this time? I'm astonished."
He smiled again, his long nose elevating higher into the air, and his hair fell like strands of shredded drapes into black eyes; there was a familiar rancor and an insatiable vendetta within them. When he took another step closer, his smile widened.
Remus must have felt her rigidity beneath his touch, because his voice was low and full of warning. "Severus."
But the man merely waved him off, descending closer to her. Evey narrowed her eyes, feeling her nostrils flaring; fire prickled in fingertips, and she flexed the sinew in her arms. He laughed, his fathomless black eyes noticing her shift like a harried, cornered creature.
His regarding her suddenly morphed into reflection, and he tapped a finger to his chin. When he spoke, his tone was laced with derision.
"I will admit, Evey, that I've wondered what hole you crawled into these years, and certainly my imagination hasn't reeled, but I'd never expected you would creep into our midst," he avowed, smirking loftily. "It seems as though your once interminable good fortune has run dry long ago, hmm? And just look at you—the lovely and clever Evey is no longer alluring. You look almost ghostly. How ironic."
"Severus," Remus warned again. "Stop this."
There was a shift and a clunk behind her, and she could nearly feel Alastor's mechanical eye analyzing her face through her skull. Her teeth clenched.
Severus took another step closer, as though his presence would further instill trepidation into her. He must have noticed her lips tightening into a sneer, for his own widened even more, like an ashen, satisfied vampire about to pounce on its unyielding quarry.
His brow rose again, condescending.
"Having quite the misadventure, are we? Did you hit rock bottom, say, fourteen years ago? Life is no longer centered on shenanigans and sunshine, yes?" he asked loquaciously, and then his expression fell like unsheathing shadows, his nonchalant façade gone. "How does it feel to loose everything and realize that you've been nothing all along? I heard what happened to your little paramour. What a tragedy it must have been, and how heartrending it still must be. And weren't you there, Sirius? Close up and…personal?"
Evey could no longer breathe. His words breeched her resolve like a battering-ram and suddenly the light of the room had been extinguished, reality descending and sizzling into empty air like a meteor through the atmosphere. Her blood ran frigid and caustically hot at the same time, her vision tuning out before sharply refocusing.
She wanted to scream, but her lungs were quivering for her to simply inhale.
There was a snap and a clattering behind her, and she jolted as if the sound sent shockwaves through her bones. A hard body stampeded passed her own. The scent of cinders and woodland flora whisk by, and her sanity and fortitude seized once again, but her attention was pulled away by the sight of a now broken chair where he had previously stood next to.
He was almost bearing down upon Severus, fists tight and his ragged shirt beginning to tremble as his body was barraged with quakes of rage; she could almost feel the hot fury radiating off of him, and swallowed hard, taken aback from his intensity and wondering why he was suddenly so defensive. She blinked, recoiling and taking a step back, but Remus tightened his hold on her, staring at the two with equal shock.
Severus cringed slightly, but his held his ground. The silence grew powerful, but was ruptured when a guttural growl rose up from his throat. With a flick of speed, a hand was grasping a fistful of Severus' robes, pulling him closer; she stared wide-eyed, confused and startled. Severus started, reflexively pulling back his body, but was ultimately propelled closer by an arm that was still hard with muscle.
"I would close that mouth of yours, Snivellus," he growled, bristling like a rabid dog. "Before I cram the rest of your greasy face into it."
Severus' eyes immediately flashed and tapered at the epithet, and he withdrew his thin lips from his teeth and sneered. He pulled against his hold, which tightened in response. He heaved his shoulders and reflected the deep-rooted malice from his eyes, once more beginning to smirk.
"You're quite touchy for the perpetrator behind our little Evey's tragedy, aren't you?" Severus countered, raising a brow in mock indifference. "Why is that, Black? Feeling sorry? Feeling sympathetic? Feeling as though you can empathize your own loss with another cowardly imp?"
Sirius snarled. "If you as much as snivel out another word I'll-"
"Merlin's beard, what on earth is going on here?" A clipped, incensed voice demanded, abruptly shattering the intensity between the two. "Black! Snape! If you two doddering idiots are not under the Imperious Curse and being forced to fight each other, you are shortly going to wish you were if you two do not—stop—this—immediately!"
Evey flinched at the sculpted pitch of the voice, whirling to her left and seeing two new silhouettes moving into the light of the room. Remus had flinched too and was inching closer to her as an angular, blazing-eyed witch charged towards the two and halted before them, hands on her hips and nostrils flaring like a horse. Her gaze was catlike, and everything about the woman screeched no-nonsense, from her sharp-heeled boots to her thin lips.
Slowly, as though pulling himself from an invisible force, each one of Sirius' limbs began to relax into submission. He did not let go of Severus, but stared at the man with waning anger. Severus was looking both vexed and smug, trying once again to loosen himself.
"Minerva, thank you for your diplomacy," a new voice began, quiet but sage-like and firm. "Sirius, if you would please unleash Severus from your chokehold, I myself—and he, no doubt—would be very grateful."
Albus Dumbledore had not changed within the last decade, except for the addition of wrinkles and his silvery beard was now suspended well past his knees. Evey breathed slowly, eyes adjusting onto one of the most venerated, powerful wizards in centuries, and a new pang of distress rippled into her at the sight of him. How could Albus, wise and genuine, have betrayed mankind by siding with him?
Albus moved silently upon the corroded floorboards, his expression serene yet meaningful, his gaze cast upon the two still heatedly interlocked. Silence settled into the room, and Evey looked from Dumbledore to him to Severus, and she could feel Remus and Alastor waiting for the two to abide Dumbledore's request. Her breath became bated, wondering what would occur if Sirius didn't release Severus, and she seen that his fists were still trembling, visibly battling some inner-turmoil, but slowly, very slowly, he loosened his grip and shoved himself away from Severus.
She sighed, feeling resignation filter into the silence as he stalked to the other side of the table, centering it between himself and Severus. But then she halted mid-exhale, because his eyes were now suddenly on her and staring as though he were attempting to gauge her reaction. His eyes were very dark, like storm water, like gray-streaked vortexes that raged and raged and raged, unrelenting.
Evey shifted on her feet, still feeling his weighty gaze upon her when she peered away.
And then she realized that they were all looking upon her: Remus with his collected gaze, Alastor tapering his eyes warily, Severus brooding, Minerva eyeing her like some unruly creature, and then Dumbledore. His gaze had a chilling effect on her, not that his eyes were cold, but that they were so all-knowing and tranquil that it was difficult to concentrate on any one thing.
He nodded his head once, his icy-blue eyes twinkling behind his half-moon spectacles. There was a faint smile cornering his lips, the first sincere smile she had received in nearly a decade, she realized. Evey shuddered, edging towards Remus' side because she didn't truly know how to react to that; her eyes fell to the floor, feeling Dumbledore's munificent smile weighing her down.
Albus gave a soft chuckle, opening his mouth when suddenly Alastor clunked forward, seizing her by the arm and pulling her away from Remus. Her eyes flashed open, immediately seething noiselessly and recoiling her arm; Alastor's grip constricted, but he was glaring significantly at Dumbledore.
"This is the one who we found infringin' the wards, Dumbledore," Alastor spat, yanking her arm for good measure. "I hope you make her punishment lingerin' and tortuous before we hand her over to the Ministry. Would you like me to ensure of its occurrence? It would be my pleasure."
Albus shook his head, folding one hand over the other.
"That won't be necessary, Alastor," Dumbledore replied, nodding towards Mad-Eye's grasp, wordlessly ordering him to let go. He did, but growled in disapproval; Dumbledore smiled benignly. "She may have infiltrated into Grimmauld Place, but she is guilty of no other transgressions. I believe she is here own her own freewill, and not on the behalf of those whom you believe she is reconnoitering for."
Alastor's fingers had been itching towards her forearm, but they stopped mid-air, and he began blinking heedlessly as though Albus had sentenced him to be Cruciated. He began faltering with harried disbelief, and even his prosthetic leg began clunking into an angrily tempo against the floor.
"I know a mole when I see one, and that there is a mole," he bristled, shoving a chunky finger in her face. "A voyeur, the Dark Lord's sniffling, deceitful little rat."
"Truly?" Dumbledore raised a brow. "Then why are her arms bare and unmarked?"
"That is no reason to mollify her crimes of breakin' and enterin'!" Mad-Eye's voice was scathing, almost deranged. "This is private property, Albus, and should remain vigilantly so."
"Alastor, how many times have you broken and entered into residences, even without Auror authorization?"
"That is an entirely different, justifiable matter," Mad-Eye waved off the accusation. "You're siding with a Death Eater, Dumbledore. This is no time for compassion, no time to pity this one just because she is small and lookin' helpless. She has spirit," and he nodded towards Sirius, snorting with ridicule. "Kicked him like a blasted Hippogriff, she did. Heard his howl all the way down to the basement's privy—even woke up that foul, screamin' portrait."
Dumbledore gazed levelly with Alastor, the calm in his eyes turning solid.
"I am not siding with her, merely recognizing the differences between an enemy and a mere oddity that needs to be discovered, or explained, rather, in her case," Dumbledore's tone softened. "Be at peace, Alastor, she is not here to stir pandemonium in the name of Voldemort."
"And how do you know this, Dumbledore?" Alastor looked affronted, brows crinkling over his cratered face.
"Simply, Alastor." Dumbledore gestured towards her. "There is no Dark Mark on her arm."
"He could be recruitin'."
"Voldemort does not recruit, Alastor, you should know that. And if he should know of our headquarters Voldemort would not have sent an unarmed and uninitiated witch on his behalf. Rest assured of your conspiracy notions at the moment, surely you are capable of her repercussions if things should go amiss, notwithstanding the backing of four accomplished wizards? If I am incorrect I will owe a round of Ogren's firewhiskey," Dumbledore avowed a little less than dramatically, turning his gaze onto her and taking a step closer, examining her face. "Now I see you had spared no time in silencing the poor thing. Hmm, a peculiar spell, but one I've seen before."
Dumbledore cast a slantwise gaze towards Severus, but with a simply flick of his wand she could feel her tongue loosening from the roof of her mouth, separating and tingling like acid pops from the spell's aftereffects. She heaved a sigh of relief and licked her chapped lips.
Instantly, Alastor's vice-like grip was on her arm. This time her seething was not silent, and her eyes locked onto his and she sneered, a foreboding hiss rippling up her throat.
"Unhand me," she fumed, unmoving like a stone wall. "Now."
He freed her, clunking a step back, surprise flitting across his face. His eyes gnashed together into a scowl, but he remained silent. Even Remus had stepped aside, now staring at her with elevated eyebrows. She could feel his gaze upon her, could still feel the dredging weight from across the table, but she ignored the bewildering feeling and turned towards Dumbledore.
His smile was still disarming, but now that she was liberated of the tongue-locking spell she felt like crowing into the silent, archaic mansion like this was some sort of victory. Instead, Dumbledore took another step forward, catching her unaware when he settled a wizened hand on her shoulder; she bit her tongue in surprise, her silence eking out one final time.
"Evelyn Martin," he said softly. "It certainly is a surprise to see you here."
She blinked, hardly breathing, but did not lurch away from his touch. "You remember me?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "How could one not? Your years at Hogwarts were ones that cannot be easily forgotten—many of the portraits still think of you fondly, although you often subjected them to your wily schemes. Even Peeves misses the banters you two shared on many an occasion…past curfew, I might add." Then he became very somber, and: "Now, tell me how you came to find us."
Evey stilled, feeling all the sets of eyes on her, and closed her own. Soon her hands were trembling again, all too soon reminded of her resolve, her bereavement, her besmirched need for vengeance. The stupor that had stretched across a decade, through years and lasting over months and weeks and days, was suddenly too profound with Dumbledore's knowing gaze upon her. She shook her head, the images of that final day bludgeoning from a recessed niche, centering itself into her vision.
"No," she whispered.
"Evelyn," Dumbledore said quietly. "This is no time to be steadfast. Be honest."
But then she felt the weight of Dumbledore's hand lifting, and abruptly another presence was looming beside her, and she smelt parchment and ferns. She open her eyes, meeting the sight of witch who was casting her a narrow-eyed and calculating stare. The witch tapped a pointed boot against the floor, lips thinning with speculation.
"One moment, if you will, Albus, thank you," the witch austerely interrupted; Dumbledore humbly bowed his head. "Evelyn Martin? You look familiar—very familiar. What house were you in at Hogwarts?"
Evey narrowed her eyes. "Ravenclaw."
The witch's eyes widen for the most mitigated of moments, recognition alighting them in the haze of the gas lamps above. Then her eyes narrowed, mouth twisting as she remembered a long ago memory; her tongue clucked disapprovingly before she spoke.
"I remember you now," Minerva stated in a reproachful tone. "You turned my hat into a teakettle and my first-edition copy of Theories of Transubstantial Transfiguration into a teacup and poured me herbal tea so I wouldn't give you a detention for being late—frequently. Even conjured up scones from my inkwells. I should not be surprised that your cleverness would have found us if it so was your desire to. You have done many shocking things, but I must admit I am appalled at your current behavior. You're a grown woman, Evelyn, not some rowdy teenager."
Evey glared at the witch. "You only remember me based upon what house I was in? What does my having been a Ravenclaw matter? What? Did you think a Hufflepuff could have endured all that sleuthing?"
"I beg your pardon, Ms. Martin," Minerva sniffed. "But the Hufflepuffs are vastly reputable for their perceptiveness."
Evey snorted. "And Syltherin's hold tea-parties for Gryffindors."
The was a muffled choking, gurgling sound behind her, and she noticed in her periphery that Remus had his hand covered over his mouth. His eyes were upturned from the smile he was masking, and when Minerva sent him a swift glare, he coughed into his hand. But then another noncommittal choke facilitated Remus' initial chortle, and she instantly locked her gaze on the man across the table.
Her eyes widened, seeing that there was a strained, twitching smile on his lips. It was evident that he was trying to veil his face with his unruly mane, head tilted downwards, but even she could make out the outline of his mouth withholding another burble of laughter. A strange befuddlement silenced her riposte to Minerva, eyes fixed on him as another surge of bewilderment caused her eyelids to blink repeatedly.
It was strange to see his face lightened with mirth, no matter how trivial, and although the image of his eyes searing with perverse laughter was constantly roaming behind her eyes, it was mystifying to see the polar opposite. Her stomach tightened and she forced herself to look away.
Minerva was staring at her, face etched with unimpressed poise. She was opening her mouth, eyes that missed little narrowing, when Dumbledore stepped in and cleared his throat.
"Pardon me, ladies, if I may intermit," he said, fixing on Evey's face with a mixture of gravity and interest. "You said sleuthing, Evey."
"Will you tell me why?" he asked, asking in the sort of succinctly low tone that, never mind the matter, demanded an answer. "Why have you come to Grimmauld Place, aware that it is not permissible or passable? What have you been sleuthing for?"
Evey was silent for a moment, feeling all warmth and cold and feeling disperse from her body. She glanced towards him, seeing but not truly seeing, but seeing through the face of the man she had spent so many wasted years searching for. His expression was not readable, but only because she could not read it or see it nor wanted to, and the numbness pulled within her, transparent yet tangible.
And Albus Dumbledore was sharing her silence, his arctic-blue eyes no longer twinkling and his smile no longer mysterious. He regarded her as the quiet brewed into something much more potent than the blackness in the corridor had been. All fell away, and she knew he could feel the emptiness fester within her mind and fiber and core. Dumbledore's eyes barely moved across her face, but he sighed deeply and spoke so low and grave and mournfully it almost volleyed her sanity.
"This is because of him, isn't it?" Dumbledore asked, eyes still fixed on her as the seconds ticked by. But then he pulled his gaze away from her, slowly and carefully, and shifted it towards the man standing off to the side, braced against the table.
And they all turned and looked, feeling the dire seriousness permeating the atmosphere. She remained unmoving, still, remote, like breathing statuary and she could feel the others picking off of the heartrending tragedy she wore on her sleeves. Her jaw locked, eyes brimming and blurring and the silence that was following everyone's stares was adding to the numbness.
Then Alastor huffed, clanking his leg against the floorboards.
"Him? Him who?" he asked edgily. "You mean Sirius?"
"No." Remus responded quietly, not missing a beat. "Her fiancé."
— — —
Another truth emerges,
but you already know.