Title: Oblivious Misery
Author's Email: Romance/SLASH/AU
Keywords: Sirius Remus war royalty lies
Pairing: Sirius/Remus, James/Lily
Warning: Violence, deaths, though not the main characters', and implied incest
Chapter's Summary: The adventure begins... with all our adventurers being chased by guards and falling off a cliff while getting separated on the way down. If they think things can't get worse, then they've got to think again.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize from the HP books are not mine. They all belong to J.K. Rowling.
Author's Note: Tom Riddle is quite young in this story, as he is a valuable character and I like him lots. If you have any questions, or if you ponder on something of ambiguity while reading, it's probably intentional, but do point out anything that seems to be amiss.
Many thanks to Miss Papaya (Princess of Spades) for being an incredibly wonderful and good humored beta ;) Without her, this chapter would never have been released due to severe grammatical symptoms and the story would probably have gone into hiatus, so dear readers, you only have her to thank :D
Chapter 7 - The Order of Phoenix
Bellatrix had never been a woman of much patience, so when Regulus went back to his room early after dinner she was deeply annoyed. Truth be told, she didn't want to spend another lonely night by herself, and that seemed to be the case ever since that blasted blond boy came to Gryffindor. Thinking of Remus brought a mad rage to her mind. Before he appeared, Sirius had always been agreeable with whatever she wanted to do with him, but now... now all he did was reject her, and Bellatrix absolutely hated being rejected.
It wasn't that she was in love with Sirius. Bellatrix shuddered at the idea. Not only would Narcissa murder her, but falling in love with Sirius was in catastrophe itself. He was like the seasons, always changing, passionate and intense, aloof and uncaring, and sometimes he was like a loose hound ─ thirsting for violence. In absolute certainty, no man or woman in this world would be able to live with Sirius for long. He was too fickle, in everything he did and everything he felt.
Bellatrix sighed, leaning against the railing that separated her and the river below. She wondered if it was true that Sirius had fallen in love, and with a slave, no less. It just seemed so unreal. However, if Sirius was in love, then that person would surely die. Bellatrix smirked. It would serve that blond boy right for making Sirius ignore her for so long.
Shivering slightly under the chilly wind, Bellatrix cursed herself for forgetting to bring a cloak. At this time at night, it could get very cold, especially near the river. Feeling irritated, she made to return to her room, when she felt warm breaths blowing across her cheek.
"It's quite cold, isn't it?" It was a man's voice, strong and seductive, whispering into her ear. Bellatrix felt a chill run down her spine, and with anticipation she turned around.
If there was one word she would use to describe him with, it was dark. He was strangely handsome, like a fallen angel that held the world in his hand. His hair was as black as the night sky, contrasting against his pale, almost glowing skin. He was looking at her with amused, violet eyes that spoke words that she didn't know were possible, and she understood them all.
"It is cold," she agreed, noticing the Slytherin badge on his shirt and smiled silently to herself. "I was just about to return to my chamber." There was an inviting note in her tone, one which the man didn't miss.
"Perhaps you would allow me the pleasure of accompanying you?" he asked, smiling sensually. Bellatrix was thrilled.
"Of course," she replied, circling her arms around his and together they went to her bedroom.
The first rays of sunshine slipped through the thick cloak of darkness, gently reminding Remus that dawn was beckoning.
Remus squinted his eyes and rubbed his forehead tiredly. He had been walking all night long, thinking about all the things that had happened in the short time he'd stayed in the palace. It brought a painful smile to his face when he remembered. All along, he had been a nuisance to Sirius, unknowingly causing him to defy his father. Not only that, Narcissa, the woman who was so kind to him, and the queen, too, wanted him dead, and he was alive for this long only because Sirius went through all the troubles keeping him safe. It was reason enough for him to run away.
Anyway, it wasn't like he meant anything to Sirius, who was just helping him like he'd once helped Molly. It was just an act of kindness.
And the prince was engaged.
It didn't make sense for him to feel so hurt knowing that, but it did and it angered Remus because he didn't know why.
Remus closed his eyes and forced himself to stop before he went too far into that train of thought.
Remus turned around upon hearing the warning, but before he could make out what was going on, something fell on top of him, and that something was really heavy.
"Princess - I mean, Liana!" A voice called, getting nearer and nearer to them.
Remus breathed heavily, trying to catch his breath. "Ow..." He winced, opening his eyes.
There was a girl lying on top of him, and she seemed to be a bit dazed to move any time soon. "Er, excuse me..." Remus said awkwardly and not without difficulty. "Could you get off me, please?"
The girl looked up at Remus as if she was seeing him for the very first time, and, blushing furiously, she pushed herself away from Remus. "Pardon me!"
"Liana!" Another person was coming toward them, her eyes worried as she examined Lily over. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine, really," Liana said, embarrassed at Alice's fussing. Then, as if remembering something, she asked her, "Alice, did you lose them?"
"I don't know," Alice said, rather worriedly as she glanced behind her. "I believe so, I mean, we left the inn before they saw us, right? I'm pretty sure -"
Just then they heard approaching noises, and Remus, very confused at this point, was horrified to see that there were men running after them.
Remus was grabbed by Lily and the three of them ducked behind the large bush of dry leaves, just as the men in the guard uniforms came closer. Then, still very clueless as to why there were people chasing them, Remus felt himself being pulled from behind with a hand over his mouth. Bewildered and unprepared, Remus was taken away before the two strangers knew what had happened.
Lily and Alice, caught by surprise at Remus' sudden disappearance, uttered a sound, which did not go unnoticed by the guards.
Lily said something very inappropriate for a princess to say, but Alice did not have time to scold her, because they were soon running away from the advancing men.
And they would have kept on running too, had they not collided with two other figures jumping out into the road in front of them.
The said people were Severus and Peter.
"It's you!" Severus and Lily exclaimed, glaring at each other. However, their dislike would have to be postponed, as the guards were catching up on them.
"How did they figure out so soon that we were not in the palace?" Peter huffed, his breaths coming out in short gasps. Severus did not answer him. He had a feeling that these people were perhaps, not looking for him, and someone else.
The girl - Liana, if that was her real name - had something to do with this, Severus was sure. However he looked at it, she didn't seem to be a servant from Ravenclaw. She radiated in this royal glow that distinguished her from the lower class, and her attitude was another thing to take note of, also.
"They're really close to us!" Lily panted, daring to glance back. "We have to lose them somehow!"
Severus imagined that it was going to be rather difficult to do so. It looked like they were outside the capital of Gryffindor, just bordering the countryside. There were very little trees around them, just scattered bushes of dry leaves and rough soil beneath their feet.
Great, it's just like what they say: jumping out of a hot pan into a pot of boiling water, and it's only the first day.
Meanwhile, Remus was having a heart attack of his life. After being kidnapped unsuspectingly, he regained enough of his sense to begin thrashing around and attempting to scream for help.
But he stopped, though, when he heard a familiar voice near his ears.
"Remus! It's us!"
James' face appeared before his eyes, and for a moment Remus felt incredibly happy to see him.
"Thank the Mother of Hogwarts we found you, Remus," James said, smiling softly. "Imagine if someone else got you first."
Remus suddenly recalled the reason why he was running away in the first place, and with an unbelievable strength jerked away from the arms that were wrapped firmly around him.
Well, he would have, except that those arms held on, and Remus soon realized they belonged to Sirius.
A rush of ambivalent emotions took hold of him and in a moment of bewilderment Remus stayed still.
"Why did you run away?" It wasn't James who asked, but Sirius, and strangely enough, Remus felt guilty for doing so, running away, that was.
"I..." Remus muttered, aware of Sirius' arms around him and the heat that was spreading through his body.
"Curses!" James hissed, pulling them both up. "Someone's coming."
It wasn't just someone, but many people, and they were heading toward the three boys, fast.
"They sent out a search party! Let's go," Sirius said, grabbing Remus' hand and began running with James not far behind.
Remus glanced at Sirius, wondering why he wasn't trying to pull away. All he could think of was that Sirius had come after him, and it must have caused a great deal of trouble back in the palace.
Because, apparently, the guards were after them, calling Sirius back.
Alice grabbed Lily by the arm, nearly missing her. They were on top of a cliff, which was so far down that they could hardly see anything. After rushing past the trees, they arrived at this cliff, just bordering the forest, which explained why Lily lost her footing and almost dropped into the unseen bottom of the cliff.
"Liana!" Alice panted. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," Lily breathed, staring down from the edge of the cliff, her face pale from the shock. "Thanks, Alice. I thought I was going to die."
Severus and Peter looked at Lily and her companion, then behind them, where the guards were coming at them fast. "We're at a dead end, there's no where to go -"
Right at that moment three blurred figures rushed out from the thick trees and charged right into Severus.
Everything happened after that was a hazy fog of confusion. All Severus knew was that he caught a flash of blond hair before he grabbed a hold of Peter, pulling the boy along with him down the cliff. When he bent backwards and slipped, Severus was sure that he wasn't going to make it down alive.
Alice didn't have enough time to realize what'd happened before she was flung backwards, her feet sliding off the ground. Reflexively she threw both her arms out and grabbed onto two hands.
One of them happened to be Lily's.
The first thing Remus felt when he burst through the trees was a firm body. As quick as it had appeared the body was gone, replaced by a small, plum hand that snatched his wrist. He heard someone called "Remus!", then "Sirius!" and, like a mistake turned into a disaster, Remus felt himself falling down the cliff, with Sirius' arms wrapped protectively around him.
When Remus woke up, he couldn't believe he was alive. A vague memory came back to him, and he remembered the timeless fall that he'd experienced. It was exhilaratingly frightening. He shivered, recalling the way Sirius had held him so tightly and carefully. It had made him feel so warm and... protected...
A groan somewhere near him sounded, and as if he was unraveling an horror Remus took in the sight next to him.
Sirius was badly injured: his face was smeared with flowing red blood, long bleeding gashes were seen through his torn clothes, imprinted on his pale flesh, and Remus was sure that Sirius had sprained his right ankle and broken his left arm, and perhaps a few ribs as well.
"Oh God," Remus whispered, horrified as he shakily touched Sirius' cheek. It was terribly cold. "What have I done?"
It just seemed right that he blamed himself for Sirius' injuries, for he was the one stupid enough not to remember using magic to break their fall. He was the reason why Sirius fell down in the first place: to protect him.
I don't need protection, Remus thought fiercely, feeling anger rising inside his chest. I've been alone for seventeen years and I've made it fine. I don't need you to protect me. I'm the one with protection magic, not you! He felt a burning sensation behind his eyes, and closed them tightly. Why do you do this?
"You are so stupid," Remus said, his words faltering.
"As are you."
Slowly, Remus opened his eyes, and was torn between crying and smiling. Sirius was glancing at him, too hurt to move his head. He was grimacing, but Remus was glad. At least he was alive.
"Why did you run away?" Sirius said, wincing slightly. "Devils have you, Remus. You have always caused me so much trouble, even from the beginning. If you hadn't come here, I wouldn't turn out to be like this, an utter mess --"
Sirius was getting delirious. His words became faint and his eyes were shut, but Remus listened to him, because that was all he could do. His power was useless, he couldn't heal, only protect, and yet, here was Sirius, bleeding and blaming him for all his stupidity, and again and again Remus asked himself why he didn't magick them from falling down.
And he stayed there with Sirius until nightfall, when he conjured up a fire and tried to clean Sirius up a bit. Without the blood covering his face, Sirius looked pale and weak, like a wingless bird condemned to a life of clipped mortality. It was a horrifying thought, and yet, Remus couldn't stop thinking about it.
Throughout the night Remus watched Sirius, until the last remnants of the fire burned out, leaving only a shadow of warmth in its wake.
When Lily tumbled down the cliff, she was quick to cast a Levitation Charm, and therefore saving herself and Alice from crashing down below.
But that didn't explain how James ended up with them, unscathed and still obnoxiously irritating.
"I still don't get it," Lily whined. "Why did I end up with you, of all people?"
James spun around, glaring at her. Since the moment they landed, this girl hadn't stopped complaining, and it was driving him insane. "Look here, you, I'm not exactly thrilled being here with you either, get it? So don't get all -- prissy with me."
Lily was indignant, and was about to say something scathing to James, when she suddenly remembered that James didn't know she was Lily Evans. It was true that she didn't put a Memory Charm on him, or Sirius, for that matter, but it'd been so long since they'd last seen each other that Lily had no worries of James recognizing her (despite her panic seeing James and Sirius in the garden yesterday). She did, after all, grow up beautiful, no longer that little skinny girl with eyes too big for her face. Lily smiled; she was getting rather full of herself.
Luckily, at that moment had decided to come back with some water, therefore preventing anymore hostile exchange of words between James and Lily.
"Here you go... Liana," Alice said kindly, handing Lily the water. "Look at you, you're all dirty."
Lily took a sip of the water and grimaced. It tasted like mud. "Ugh."
Alice smiled grimly. "I know." A thought struck her. "Why don't you use a Filtering Charm?"
Lily glanced at James, who was still looking around. They were in some sort of abandoned garden, it seemed. There were weeds and untamed grasses everywhere, growing on hard soil. Lily noticed a table made of stone on the far side of a very foul looking fountain, and next to it a swing covered in webs and mold. Darkness had swept over them some time ago, and Lily was not keen to stay here any longer than necessary.
"Hey, look! There's a cave in here," James exclaimed, catching Lily's and Alice's attention. Indeed, there was a cave, naturally hidden away by vines and a withered tree. As they came closer, they saw that it was a very dark, and presumably very deep. Lily couldn't imagine how the cave came to be, in this once beautiful garden.
"I'm going in," James said and walked right into the darkness without hesitation.
"Wait!" Lily protested, grabbing him by the shirt collar.
"Ouch!" James, momentarily strangled, yelled indignantly. Lily took away her hand abashedly. "What on earth were you trying to do? Murder me?" James snarled, rubbing his neck angrily.
Lily decided not to snap back something that might spark another argument, and instead said, "Don't you think it's rather dangerous just going in there like that? I mean, what if there are traps in there?"
For some reason, James only looked more excited at this. "If it's not dangerous, then it won't be fun, now would it?" He grinned boyishly. "Are you scared?"
That did it. In a swift motion Lily was past James, marching right into the cave. Scared, me! I'll show him, I-
It was then that Lily experienced her second fall within the past two days.
"Liana!" Alice yelled, hearing the princess' scream. "What have you done, you impetuous fool?" She glared at him, and went inside, albeit more carefully than Lily had.
James, indignant at the insult, wanted to say something, but he realized that that girl was possibly in trouble, and so he held his tongue and followed Alice. Girls and their stupid --
The moment Sirius regained his consciousness; he felt that something was very wrong.
The pile of ashes next to him was all that left of the warmth yesterday. Sirius shook his head as he tried to push himself up. The pain in his ribs was made note as Sirius winced and fell down on his back again.
With fatigue soaking his every bone, Sirius turned his head and took in the surrounding.
He was lying under a very tall tree. The sun was already above his head, indicating that it was around noon. Sirius squeezed his eyes shut as tears of pain leaked out behind his eyelids. Curse it, I haven't felt this much pain since the incident with that lion, Sirius thought, coughing a bit.
There were lots of trees, Sirius noticed, and nothing else. Nothing except silence.
Silence... Sirius' eyes flashed open. Remus!
His heart was beating miles a minute as Sirius frantically looked around for the familiar figure. Where could he be? Nothing must happen to him, he has to be safe...
Sirius grabbed onto the tree's trunk and heaved himself up, but not without difficulty. In a desolated forest, where starved predators and vicious creatures roamed, it was dangerous for Remus to be out there all by himself...
"Remus," Sirius rasped, leaning against the tree and trying to get himself to walk on a hurt leg. "Remus..."
It was getting hard for him to breathe properly, Sirius vaguely noted as his foot got caught over a broken tree branch. With a choked gasp Sirius fell to his knees, clutching his chest as he coughed up blood.
"Remus..." he murmured. He felt so useless, so worthless. He was so frustrated at his own helplessness that he wanted to hurt himself and scream out loud, but he was in no condition to do either of that, which only made him angrier.
Why was it that the thing he truly wanted the most kept slipping away from his reach, like hot sand falling from his fingers, like tiny butterflies fluttering just above his hands, teasing him softly and sweetly, Remus had continued to elude him. Sirius had thought about Remus a lot, more than he had ever thought about anything in his life, and yet, Remus kept running away from him, unaware of his intentions. Had Remus ever stopped to consider those meaningful looks, those light touches, all the things that Sirius gave him without having being asked or even needed? It sort of hurt, sometimes, how Remus could remain so blissfully oblivious to his feelings, how he could let Sirius suffer like the way he did.
It seemed like fate was playing with him and his confused feelings, giving him a treasure to cherish and yet keeping it locked in a bottle of oblivion. How ironic was it that all his life he'd been the one to play with others' emotions, to only now be troubled by the very thing that he'd always laughed upon.
He was tired. His mind was caught in a whirlwind of all things he once never believed in. All he could see was flashes of faint reality and lingering dreams, merging like colors blending together, only to become that one indistinct dream. Emptiness filled him, but at the same time, it seemed as if all of the world was submerged inside his soul, and it was getting so hard to think properly, breathe properly, see properly...
Distantly he heard a voice, calling him. It sounded a lot like an angel's voice, lilting and soft, beckoning him from above...
Maybe he was dying. Sirius thought that perhaps he would be less cold and alone if Remus was with him. It would be perfect to die in Remus' arms...
If only he could...
When Remus returned from fetching some water, he was taken by an unpleasant surprise.
Sirius was sitting in an awkward position, his back against a tree not far from where Remus had left him. He looked terrible, even worse than last night, with his ashen face paler than a white sheet of paper. Fear and worry rose like bile inside of him as he took in the awful sight, and, water forgotten, Remus rushed to Sirius' side and dropped down beside him without care.
"Sirius," Remus whispered, raising a shaking hand to Sirius' forehead. The feverish flesh pulsed gently beneath his palm, covered by layers of sweat. Remus felt his breath hitched, and gently he brushed the strayed strands of hair away from Sirius' face. "Wake up, Sirius, Sirius..."
The guilt and tears and all the horrible feelings that Remus had experienced in the past few days resurfaced, and once again, he was captured in the hands of self-reproach. If anything happened to Sirius, Remus could never forgive himself...
The weak, quiet voice filled his ears, the words spoken in wonder. Remus thought he was going to die from happiness when Sirius cracked a dry smile and opened his eyes.
"Sirius!" Relief flooded over him as Remus choked back a sob. "Are you hurt? Are you alright? I --"
Sirius hushed him with a touch to his lips. Remus gazed at Sirius, eyes wide and shining bright with yet-to-be-shed tears. Sirius swept the dampness on Remus' face away with gentle fingers, but did not remove his hand from Remus' cheek. "Where did you go?" Sirius said quietly, his voice the barest of whisper.
"I went to get some water." Remus' voice shook as he tried to explain. "I thought you'd be thirsty when you woke up, so I..." Remus took in a deep breath to calm his overwhelming emotions, but it accomplished nothing. He couldn't stay calm when Sirius was so terribly wounded, and yet, still worried about him. Remus never felt more of a burden for someone until this point, and he was so furious of himself that for a moment, he truly wished that he was back at the orphanage, and that Sirius never knew he existed.
"I thought..." Sirius broke off, and shook his head. "I'm glad you're safe." He then closed his eyes, and let his hand fall from the warmth of Remus' cheek.
It was as if the earth was falling apart, like broken mirrors and bleeding hearts, Remus pulled Sirius into his arms and cried as if his soul was torn apart.
About a mile away, a giant awoke from his slumber.
Back at the orphanage...
Nearly three weeks had passed since Remus had gone, and the orphanage functioned as it always had. The children were bustling about, working their hands raw and listening to Madam Jeromin complain about every little thing. It seemed as if Remus' existence had never been a part of their lives, as if all he was just a figment of their imagination, a shadow woven into the depths of their forgotten dreams.
But there were some who still remembered the wretched boy with hair like strands of sun light and whose wistful smile turned heads upon heads, only to slip away like a forlorn, auburn autumn leaf.
Since the day Remus was swept away because of his own wishful thinking, Frank had seen how people had immediately forgotten all about Remus. In fact, when he asked them if they'd seen Remus any where, the children would look at him oddly and say that there was never a Remus Lupin in this orphanage. What puzzled Frank the most was that when he checked the book with all the orphans' names listed, Remus' was not on there. It unnerved him, worried him, and sometimes, Frank began to wonder if it was actually him who was hallucinating of a boy who had never been.
But that's ridiculous, Frank assured himself stubbornly. He knew his instinct, and the seventeen years living with Remus couldn't be more real to him. He remembered clearly the image of a sweet creature who looked up to him with adoration and gentleness. A person who was good hearted and patient, who endured the beatings and the taunting words without so much as a whispered complaint; a person that he'd seen growing up from a naive, lonely child to a strong-willed, selfless young man. But with all those of years of being spurned like a wild, infectious dog, Remus had known the taste of bitter rejection and had learned to live without any expectations. It was a heart wrenching knowledge, seeing Remus mature like he had never been a child. It was enough for Frank to want to care about him.
But it was mostly because he simply adored Remus like the little brother he never had.
So it was natural that when Frank came upon Remus' name written on a fallen letter on the floor near Arthur's bed, he was quick to become suspicious. This suspicion did not cease, however, especially after he'd read what the letter had to offer.
Remus is safely back home, therefore I want you to return to us as soon as possible. I've included a Portkey for you along with this letter. Please be cautious and don't forget to erase all traces of both Remus' and your existence there in the orphanage.
I hope to see you soon,
Before Frank had time to decipher the true meaning this letter held, the door to the bedroom opened and in came the very man he was just looking for.
"Arthur," Frank said calmly, his hand deftly hiding the paper behind his back.
Arthur looked surprised to see him there, but regained his composure and gave a rather bleak smile. "Hey there Frank, what are you doing here?"
"Oh, nothing, just I thought I'd drop by for a little while before dinner," Frank said casually, but his mind was burning with countless questions. He had to ask Arthur about Remus. Who was Dumbledore? What was Arthur's purpose here? It seemed like this whole episode didn't seem like a simple, oh-I-got-kidnapped sort of situation to Frank.
"Really? Well, then, sit down," Arthur said, absently sweeping an arm around. "I have to clean the restrooms soon so..."
"Don't worry, I won't be here for long," Frank said, his voice unintentionally harsh. Arthur looked up. "Just long enough to ask you where Remus is."
A stricken look fleeted past Arthur's face before he attempted to grin, "What are you talking about? Who's Rem-"
Frank hurled the crumbled letter to Arthur, who reflexively caught it in the air. "Don't bother denying it, Arthur. Where's Remus? And you better explain before I lose my temper."
Arthur, having no excuses good enough, gave a defeated, wry smile before raising his hands in a gesture of peace. "Alright, alright, Frank, chill for sec. I'll tell you." And in a swift movement he was in front of Frank, his fist flying toward the other man and crashing squarely into his face.
Back in Gryffindor...
The fall, as it turned out, wasn't very long or painful as it was with the last one, and for that, James was grateful.
Dusting himself off from the haystack he'd fallen upon, James looked around, noticing Lily and Alice at once. "Hey, hey!" James called, catching their attention. "Are you alright?"
Lily glowered at him. It was all his fault, provoking her and causing her to drop into Merlin knew where. "Didn't think you cared, Lord James."
"Liana!" Alice scolded gently. "Yes, we're fine, just a bit lightheaded." Alice looked at James in a way that was suspiciously akin to sympathy, but he dismissed it as a silly thought. Why would she sympathizewith him, anyway?
"Where are we?" James wondered aloud, realizing with surprise that the place they were in was like an underground tunnel. The stone walls reeked of the scent of humid air and...
Just as James was thinking so, he heard a terrified shriek coming from the direction of the girls.
Hastily he ran toward them, vaguely noticing that he was passing through a narrow opening, and then he was in a room.
Lily and Alice were huddled against each other, their eyes closed as if in fear, and all around them, were scattered bodies of dry skeletons and various weapons used for the purpose of torture. Some of these corpses seemed to have dried up long ago, yet some, he noted, were still rotting, fleshless with tears in their yellow, rusty skin where the rats resided. James cringed and covered his nose. It smelled awful in here.
Slowly he weaved his way through the room, feeling slightly sick as he tried not to step onto the mount of whatever left of these people. He wondered briefly as to how these dead bodies came about, and was reluctant to carry on with that train of thought.
There was a wooden table placed in the very corner of the room, old with age and very broken down. James made his way toward it, observing that there were a ring of keys and some moldy bread left on the table. Curious, James picked up the dangling keys, examining them. Just like everything else in this room, they looked as if they were made centuries ago and hadn't been used in years.
And then something caught his eyes, a flicker of light just out of his vision, and James bent down to his knees, digging his hand into the hays on the ground. When his fingers came in contact with something hard, James gently curled it into his palm and pulled a metallic object out.
The silvery crest glinted bright white in the dim light, and James turned it around, feeling the smooth, cold texture. There was an engraving of a crescent moon above a stilled lake. Lightly, an imprint of the head of a wolf was seen, taking up a large part of the crest and fading away as it drew near the moon. Beneath this eerie scene etched the words: Dans le claire de lune, ils sont maudis; éternellement et toujours, ils habillent avec les péchés qu'ils ne ont jamais commis.
Something familiar flashed in his mind, but he couldn't quite make out as to what it was, and let it slide.
"Hm, that looks familiar," Lily said thoughtfully, leaning over James' shoulder. It was then that James remembered he wasn't the only person in the room.
In a swift motion he was on his feet, subconsciously dropping the mental object into his pants' pocket. "Finished wailing, haven't you?" James said coldly, a sneer on his face.
Lily glowered at him, but ignored his comment. Ohh, how I despise him. How could I have gotten stuck with this bigot, of all thing? Lily remembered the boy with light colored hair and a soft expression. Now he's someone I wouldn't mind getting stuck with. He seemed so sweet. She wondered if they would ever cross path again. When she looked at him, she felt something strange... a sweet, happy feeling? Or was it something different? Whatever it was, it was definitely nothing she'd ever experienced before, and, loath as she was to admit it, she wanted to see him again.
"Liana, I think we should figure a way out of here," Alice suggested, sounding rather odd. Lily fixed her green eyes on her best friend. Alice's face was ashen, as if she had seen something terrible.
"What's wrong?" Lily asked, immediately worried.
Alice remained silent, only raising a finger to a point behind Lily. James was equally as curious as the redhead, and as they turned around James noticed immediately what that had caused Alice to look as if she'd seen the Bloody Baron.
James hadn't noticed earlier, but beneath the mount of dead bodies was a dead, brown toad, completely smashed into crushed organs and bony dust. Not too far away were pieces of a chicken egg, with gooey liquid trailing from it to a large, hole in the ground. That wasn't the only one, though, there were large cracks in the ground and walls James didn't even need to think twice before he grabbed Alice's and Lily's hand and ran out of the room.
"What -- hey!" Lily protested, trying to snatch her hand away, but James held on fast. "What are you doing? Let me go!"
Alice seemed to have return from her stupor, because she was running along with James now. "Liana," she said breathlessly, "That thing - we're in a basilisk's nest!"
Lily looked confused. "What's a basil -- wah!"
There was no time to talk, however, because they all were aware of a distant rumbling coming closer and closer with every second passed. It was now that James spoke, "Whatever you do, don't look into its eyes."
"Whose - hey!" Lily was thoroughly annoyed now. She still didn't understand why she was running in the first place, and why both Alice and James looked so flustered.
"We need to find a way out of this place," James said, his words coming out in a rush. Alright, basilisks like dark places, and tunnels - no wonder there are so many of them - so we must be underground. We need light, lots of it, and we need to get out of these tunnels! Oh, how I wish I could do magic! It was so frustrating, how he couldn't even do a simple spell. He knew it was absurd, since magic was rare, and even rarer were those who could use it. But it didn't stop him from becoming very angry when he was in a tight spot and there was nothing he could do!
James shook his head, silently berating himself for letting his emotions overcome his senses. This was no time to dwell on something that wasn't and would never be. It was the time to get out of this place... if they could get out of here.
And then James was pulled backward, so that he nearly toppled over Alice. "What on earth -" he growled, turning around to see Lily standing there, arms across her chest in a very defiant way. "You again! Do you have a death wish or something? We don't have time --"
"Yes, we do!" Lily said insistently, completely clueless as to what sort of situation they were in. "And I'm not moving from this spot if you don't tell me what's going on!"
James couldn't imagine a time he wanted to strangle someone more. Take a deep breath, he forced himself to relax. No use getting mad now. "This place, apparently, is the home to basilisks. They are dangerous creatures that can kill you with just a look - literally," James explained, glowering at her. "Understand now? Can we get back to running, because as much as I would love to stay here and indulge your audacious attitude, we're sort of running out of time, and I really don't fancy getting killed here." He gave Lily a disgusted look. "You're just a spoiled brat, aren't you?" And without another word, walked away. The extent of my kindness goes as far, James thought with much finality, if she wants to be stupid, then stay there and rot.
Although Alice would always take Lily's side, she couldn't deny that James was right this time. They had been in here for far too long, and the basilisks must have gotten wind of them. They didn't have much time, and must get a move on. "Come on, Lily, let's go."
Lily was feeling a bit dumbfounded, so that she didn't even notice when Alice took her hand and pulled her after James.
"J-James, wait up!" Alice huffed, catching up to him.
James gave a small smile, and turned around. "Finally come around, haven't yo -- look out!" James shouted, hurling himself toward the two girls. James managed to roll them both out of the way before a sounding crash was heard, right where they had just been a moment ago.
This seemed to shake Lily out of her daze. "What was that?" she almost yelled, twisting her head around to get a good look, but James pulled her head down.
"Are you stupid? Haven't you heard a word I said? Don't look into its eyes!" James hissed, feeling his blood boil. What is wrong with this girl?
Lily was about to retort, when she felt the back of her neck prickle. Feeling a strong sense of foreboding, she grabbed both James' and Alice's hand and forced them to run. Out of the corner of her eyes, Lily caught sight of something large, smooth, and long, before the wall on her right gave a loud crash and fell apart. Instinctively Lily pulled out a sheet of paper and willed her magic into it, "Wingardium Leviosa!" Then she threw it up the air toward the falling rocks.
James, on the other hand, was waiting for the impact, when nothing happened. Gathering his nerves, he snuck a peek --
And all the feeling from his legs vanished.
Right above them, hanging suspended in the air, were broken pieces of stone from the wall, inches away from their heads. James, needless to say, was speechless. "What - how - this - you..."
Lily, even in this situation, couldn't help but feel incredibly good about herself. "You were saying something about me?" she sneered.
That snapped James' out of his shock. "Why are you -- ?" he began angrily.
"Is this really the time to argue!" Alice jumped in, sounding exasperated. "We're being chased by a basilisk, and all you two could do is bicker about the most useless things!"
James and Lily stared at Alice. "Alice, I'm so sorry..." Lily said hesitantly, her expression apologetic.
"Er, yeah," James agreed, feeling rather awful about his behavior.
"That's alright," Alice smiled. "As long as you two stop --"
But she was cut off, as another explosion was heard, and this time, there wasn't just one basilisk that was attacking, but a whole family of them.
James, Lily, and Alice backed away slowly, still taking care not to raise their eyes too far up. They were, indeed, in big trouble.
There were times, when Remus wondered why he always caught himself in impossible situations.
Naturally, this was one of those times.
Standing not too far away was a man of monstrous nature. He was at least eightfeet high, and larger than anything Remus had ever seen. His face was almost entirely covered in bushy hair and beard, and, worse of all, he was carrying an ax.
It really didn't take Remus long to understand that, first of all, this man was a giant, and secondly, that perhaps the said giant wouldn't be so disinclined to kill them.
It would be an understatement to say that Remus was terrified.
"Yeh!" he boomed, startling Remus. "What're yeh doin' here?"
Remus opened his mouth to reply, but it seemed that his voice had deserted him, and along with that, his ability to think altogether.
The giant narrowed his eyes and observed Remus. The boy was covered in dirt, and... blood?
"Hey, yer alright?" he asked, crouching down to get a better look at him. It was then he noticed the boy's companion, who, it seemed, was in a much worse state. "What happened ter him?"
Remus looked at the man, uncertainty within his eyes. Though he looked alarmingly enormous, the giant looked as if he cared. "Wh - who are you?" Remus said softly, daring to look into his eyes.
"Oh! How rude of me! I'm Hagrid! Rubeus Hagrid!" he said cheerfully. "I live near here, takin' care of an old man, yer know? It's good ter have someone new one in a while ter talk ter, ye know?" Then his expression became serious as he examined Sirius, lying unresponsive in Remus' arms. "'E looks a bit peaky. What happened?"
Remus was reluctant to reply, seeing how the giants he'd heard of were always spoken of as brutal creatures, but this man... he seemed friendly. Forget it, Remus decided, Sirius needs help, and anything this Hagrid is going to do can't make it worse. "My friend fell off a cliff and is badly injured. Please, if you could do anything..."
He broke off, unable to go on. The weight of Sirius in his arms felt heavy, a constant reminder of what he had done. Hagrid could see how upset this young man was, so he didn't ask any further. "Come with me. I'll treat ter his wounds," he said simply, and made to take Sirius from Remus, when the boy reacted violently.
Remus tightened his arms around Sirius and jerked away from Hagrid, staring at him with a sort of fierce, protective look in his eyes. "What are you --?"
"I'm jus' gonna carry 'im back to m'house, a'right? Ain't gonna do anythin' ter 'im, promise," Hagrid said solemnly, not sure if Remus was going to trust him. Not many, if any, trusted him. He was a giant, after all.
Remus was very unwilling to let go of Sirius, and for a long time stayed still, determination firmly fixed on his face. Hagrid tried again. "My house is far 'way, and 'e doesn't seem ter be able ter take it any longer..."
Those words spurred Remus into action. He looked up at Hagrid, who was taken aback at the helplessness in his hopeful expression. "You're not going to... hurt him?" he asked childishly.
"No!" Hagrid said, appalled. "I would never!" Conflicting emotions flashed across the boy's face, and finally, he let go of Sirius. Hagrid gave him a smile and hoisted Sirius up his shoulder. "Walk beside me. My house is a bit far, so we need ter hurry."
Thus, together, they trotted off toward Hagrid's house, and once in a short while, Remus would glance up at the prince as if afraid he was going to disappear.
Within the dark trees, watchful eyes followed their movements as they made their way out of the forest.
The urgent meeting called forth for all of the lords currently present in the imperial palace to the Chamber of Conspiracy just four days before Sirius' birthday, on the morning of Sirius' disappearance.
When the last of the lords entered the room, the only exit in this eerie chamber automatically sealed itself shut. A heavy silence draped over them, giving the already ghastly atmosphere an even greater sense of foreboding. This chamber was designed like a cage, with only one entrance that was secured by heavily armed guards. There was no window, only a fire burning in the middle of the long table, lighting up the whole place in its cold brilliance. The king sat at the very end, overlooking his troubled subjects and wondered if, when situation called for, could they protect and fight for their country. Looking at these old goons he doubted very much.
"Today," he began, feeling their eyes on him, "we gather here to discuss a new development that has, unexpectedly, arisen." He paused, and then gave them the news, "Persephone's identity was discovered." Audible gasps were heard all over the room as the king allowed time for this to sink in, then continued, "She was sentenced to death today at dawn, guilty of treason."
Soon, the people in the room began to talk in hushed whispers among themselves, asking as to what they were going to do. Surely, Slytherin must have figured out that Persephone was a Gryffindor spy, and now, doubtlessly, Lucius was planning something against Gryffindor for breaking their mutual agreement of peace.
The king cleared his throat, calling their attention back to him. "Her loss, fortunately, was not in vain, for we have gained very valuable information just moments before she was captured."
The golden fire flickered in his dark eyes as he rested his chin upon his folded hands. "It seems that Slytherin is secretly making allies with neighboring kingdoms, and is now amassing an incredible army led by Dark Creatures. Needless to say, their target is us."
"But, Your Majesty," the prime minister said tentatively, "is this truly possible? I know we aren't the best of friends, but would Slytherin risk so much in a clearly pointless expedition? We are, after all, distinguished as the most powerful kingdom since the beginning of time, and all have always acknowledged our decisions as wisest."
The king turned his eyes to him. The minister was a foolish man, no question about it, but he had his uses, and had not been quite ineffective just yet. But a fool would always remain a fool, especially with such young arrogance.
"We must not take any chances, you of all people should know that well, Lord Fudge," he answered slowly. "Slytherin is an ambitious kingdom, and Lucius, as its ruler, even more. It does not bode well to underestimate them. After all, they are one of the main kingdoms, and their military isn't one to overlook." The king's voice carried a sort of finality in it, ending their two man discussion there.
Fudge edged back into his seat, feeling slighted, and remained silent. It was then that the king turned to his advisor, and nodded.
Mr. Potter stepped into the light, in his hand he held a rather weighty scroll. "Along with Dumbledore, His Majesty and I have already formulated a defensive strategy. This is only a temporary plan, so we would be prepared if worse comes to worse. However..." Mr. Potter lay out the scroll, which rolled across the table to the very end. It showed a map and a very lengthy explanation. "We all know that the four main kingdoms are connected through the Forbidden Forest, and that Slytherin remains the farthest away from us, to the south." A bright glow shimmered on the land that was labeled Slytherin. "Geographically, it is too risky, or rather, impossible to go through the forest and attack Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff would be alerted if Slytherin dared to make their way around from the east or west. This leaves us with the options that they would either go underground or on air." The map amplified, focusing on the gap between the northwestern Slytherin and the edge around the Forbidden Forest. "The Sneaky Mountain have... interesting surprises. Since it's entirely Slytherin's property, we never really will have a chance to explore, and as such cannot expect that they won't be using it to their full advantages."
Mr. Potter drew himself up, and cleared his throat. "With so many possibilities and so little time, this is what we're going to do..."
It was, truly, strenuous work not looking into their eyes while trying to fight them off, Lily decided as she ducked a blow at her head and tried to keep up with James and Alice.
"Lily! Do something!" Alice screamed, terrified. She had her eyes closed, which was either a very smart or stupid move. Lily didn't have time to ponder that, as she was already chanting the Tickling Charm at the attacking creatures.
This caused nasty results, as the basilisks began thrashing and shrieking horribly and Lily found that, in an enclosed space like this, it was hard to duck both the collapsing cave and the blasted reptiles.
"Will you stop that! They're going insane!" James yelled at her, pulling Alice away from an attacking basilisk and ducking the falling rocks on the way. He'd counted. There were five of them in all, each ranging from large to humongous.
At this Lily exploded. Why must he pick on her at this crucial time? "Well, excuse me! I haven't exactly spent my childhood learning how to fight off these things, you know!" Something exploded loudly from behind them, one that James doubted was caused by the basilisks. Lily was glaring at him, her eyes aflame with fire. She looked a tad frightening.
"Try something more effective, will you! Like an... make a fire!" James shouted suddenly. "Make a big fire!"
Lily, seeing two fast approaching basilisks, recklessly plunged forward and slid through the gap between them, thanking all gods listening that she had a mind to close her eyes. Wasting no time, Lily immediately conjured forth a whip of white flames. Its brilliant light sent the reptile family screeching in pain as they gathered themselves into a large group. Lily was sure this wasn't going to work, as they were slamming their tails into the walls even more viciously now, when suddenly, all of them disappeared.
For a moment no one moved, as they were too shocked about the occurrence moments ago. The ropes of flames thrashing in the air were fading away, leaving the three royals soaked in almost complete darkness.
It was then that Alice said, her voice full of disbelief, "Lily! Oh, Lily!" She quickly hastened to her princess's side, looking up and down. "Are you all right? Are you injured? Oh, Lily, if anything happened..."
"Alice, calm down," Lily soothed, "I'm fine. See? Not a single scratch." That wasn't entirely true, as there was a gash on her arm and she was bleeding quite generously.
"How could you say that!" Alice exclaimed, tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. "Is this a basilisk's bite? Did it hit you? They are poisonous, Lily..."
"No, the rocks caused it, it's fine," Lily reassured her, but Alice was panicking with worry.
"Look at you! Just a day out in the wild and there you are! How am I ever going to explain this to the queen...?"
Lily clapped her hand over Alice's mouth, looking over to James worriedly.
The young man was staring at Lily, something between disbelief and awe on his face. When he noticed that Lily was looking at him, he shook his head and gave her a hard look. "You -- what are you... how did you...?" And then something registered in his mind. James narrowed his eyes. "Alice, did you just call her Lily?"
Alice shook her head, eyes filled with guilt. "Numm...?" she tried to say with Lily's hand over her mouth. Lily hastily pulled her hand back.
"Lily... you can't possibly mean Lily Evans?" James said incredulously, jumping onto his feet. Of course! How could he have been so stupid? Her vivid green eyes, long auburn hair, and the way she carried herself... he should've known! She was the exact duplicate of the queen of Ravenclaw! "You!" he gasped.
Lily clambered to her feet and looked back at him defiantly. "Me," she retorted. "You're quite eloquent, Lord James."
James gave her such an awful look at for a second she was startled. "You're supposed to be back in the Gryffindor Palace!" His eyes widened as a memory clicked in place. "You were the one that cast the Tickling Charm on me!"
A wide smile spread across Lily's face. "I do hope you liked my farewell present," she said cheerfully, apparently forgetting the fact that they were still trapped in a cave full of dangerous creatures.
"How dare you! I can have your head for such an insolent act --"
Lily glared at him. "I'll have you know that I am the princess of Ravenclaw." She paused, and then added, "and the future bride of your prince." The last word was said with disgust. She couldn't even bear to think about it, but the look on James's face was priceless.
"Sirius will never marry someone as... as... ungainly and..." James racked his brain for the word, but anger seemed to have blinded all his thoughts, "and freckly as you are!"
Lily's hand immediately went to her face. "Freckly!"
"Lily!" Alice said angrily, unable to stand this any longer. "If you two have had quite enough, we need to get moving! I hope you haven't forgotten that we are in mortal peril right now!"
James was about to retort, when his eyes caught something behind Lily. The wall... it was...
Wordlessly he walked past Lily toward it, and his brows furrowed in curiosity. With the basilisks rampaging within this part of the cave, the walls had been delved and broken down, but this part was completely undamaged. It was smooth and untouched, and as James looked at it more closely, he noticed that there was a dent in the middle of the smooth surface, as if created for something to be fitted in.
James rubbed his chin thoughtfully, thoughts rushing through his mind thousand miles a minute, and then, finally, an idea struck him. Digging his hand into the pocket of his pants, James pulled out the crest that he'd found earlier. In the dark, it still glowed with an ethereal presence, soft silver against the angry black. With great care, James gently slid the crest into the shaped dent.
It fitted perfectly, much to James' delight. For a while nothing happened, then, like everything that had been happening lately, something strange transpired in the gloomy, desperate atmosphere.
The smooth portion of the near collapsing wall slid aside, revealing a dark tunnel. James squinted his eyes, peering inside. It seemed like they were going to have to go for another ride downward.
"What's this?" Lily asked, coming up beside James.
"This," James said slowly, as if it pained him to say, "just might be our way out."
As if on cue noises began to come closer, indicating that the basilisks were coming back. James looked at Lily and gave a suffering sigh. There was stubbornness in her face as she backed away determinedly. "If you think I'm going to enter another unknown entrance with nothing to protect me, then you're mad," she said, crossing her arms as if daring James to argue with her.
He didn't, because James had a better thing to do, which was grabbing her hand and pulling her toward the hole, then, as much as he privately hated it, James gave Lily a quick kick in the back of her knees and pushed her into the dark abyss. A scream was heard echoing in the cavern, but James didn't care, as he was motioning for Alice to do the same. Alice, with more reasons in her, willingly followed Lily.
James was about to go after her, but right then a basilisk appeared, its nastily large head coming at him, fangs baring.
Heart beating madly James swiftly seized the crest and jumped inside, just in time as he heard a loud snapping sound right behind him. James sighed in relief, but then he realized that he was hurling down a tunnel that was leading him to a place of unknown.
Oh well, James thought, resigned to his fate, wherever we're heading toward, it cannot be worse than what we've just dealt with.
The abandoned tower was once a magnificent place within the Private Quarters of a deceased queen's consort a few generations ago. Married into the Black family, he had especially requested it made for his personal use, and titled it after his surname, Grimmauld. The Grimmauld Tower, along with the Private Quarters, branched off from the palace, becoming a somewhat secluded place once heavily guarded just off the shore of the river. However, because of an unwanted accident inside the tower that was rumored to have cursed the children of the Black Dynasty, the whole tower was forsaken and anyone was forbidden to enter. Renowned wizards were asked to ward it off with the strongest spells around the tower and even the Private Quarters themselves, such that no one could enter or detect it, except for those who already knew it was there.
As it was, this made the perfect place to confer with the members of the Order of the Phoenix.
Throughout the years, Dumbledore had added many more wards to the tower, and changed few, as to better protect the secrets of the Order and to, naturally, better protect it from prying eyes. That was why he put an especially strong charm on the whole place. The Fidelius Charm enabled him to allow certain people to come and go as they pleased, and no one else.
Which was why he was rather surprised when a flustered Deladus Diggle burst into the Conference Room as Dumbledore went over an important plan with Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"Deladus, what -" Dumbledore began, eyes slightly widened.
"Albus, you have to see this, it's -" he gasped, out of breath, gesturing wildly down into the staircase.
Dumbledore gave Kingsley a short look before sweeping out of the room. "Please, Deladus, lead the way," he said, and Deladus complied, almost skipping as he hastened down the stairs.
"You wouldn't believe... Arthur, he's back..."
"He's back?" Dumbledore asked sharply, quickening his steps.
"Yes, but that's... not all --" Deladus huffed.
They took the flight down a narrow corridor and came to a nearly overlooked room. Without breaking his stride Dumbledore walked right inside, his eyes sweeping around and finally falling upon the pair of people on the floor.
There was Arthur, older but still recognizable by his freckles and red hair, and then there was a strange boy, with brown hair and a strong face. They both were wrestling on the floor as if trying to throttle each other.
"Ahem," Dumbledore cleared his throat, amused when both of them froze at the sound. "Good evening, Arthur, I'm glad you're back." And to the complete stranger, he said, "And good evening to you, too."
"Dumbledore, sir!" Arthur said, pushing Frank away and clambering onto his feet. "It wasn't my fault! He grabbed at me while I was holding the Portkey! There was nothing I could do..."
"Settle down now, Arthur, I am not angry with you," Dumbledore said, smiling happily. "I'm pleased that you've arrived here safely, and forgive me for asking for an explanation as to this young man's presence here in Gryffindor."
Arthur shot an irritated look toward Frank, who glared back heatedly. "I know you're in this together," Frank said bluntly, looking squarely at Dumbledore. "You kidnapped Remus, didn't you! I don't know what funny stuff you did to make us forget about him, but rest assured, I will -"
"I have no doubt that you will go far for Remus," Dumbledore said pleasantly, "after all, you care enough to remember about him, when all others have forgotten."
For some reason, hearing this out loud made Frank feel quite embarrassed. "Er..."
"Let's sit down, shall we? I'm sure there's much to discuss." Dumbledore gestured at the desk, and the chairs around it. "Deladus, would you like to stay here, or...?"
Deladus shook his head. "Actually, I'm meeting Elphias right about now. We're part of the search party sent to look for Sirius. I'll see you later, Albus." With that, he was out of the door and gone.
Dumbledore turned back to Arthur and Frank. Before he could speak, however, Frank had already started spouting off from the mouth. "Where's this place? Where's Remus? Is he here? How comes no one remembers him? What have you done to him?"
Arthur gave Frank a withering look as Dumbledore looked on in bewildered amusement. "Be quiet, will you?" Arthur said, annoyed. "A little patience is all it takes, really."
Frank rounded on Arthur. "Look here, I'm not exactly in a gushy mood with you, especially after what you did to me!"
Arthur smiled in grim satisfaction. "A broken nose doesn't look too bad on you, Frank. Stop you from being so nosy, perhaps."
"Well, then," Dumbledore interrupted, "why don't you introduce yourself first, Frank, and we'll continue from there."
Frank huffed and said moodily, "My name's Frank Longbottom, son of the owner of the orphanage."
"If I'm not mistaken, then your mother's surname is Jeromin...?" Dumbledore asked.
"My mom and dad divorced, but I keep my dad's surname," Frank explained. "But that's not important. I want to know where I am, and who," he pointed to Arthur, rather rudely, "is he? Where did Remus go? I want to see him! And you, who are you?" The plain, straightforward attitude of his made Dumbledore smile.
"You mustn't worry about Remus. He's safe at the moment, I believe." Dumbledore paused, and Frank, to his very surprise, saw the teapot float up into the air and begin pouring hot tea into the cups.
"How did you - what -?" Frank said, looking from Dumbledore to the still pouring teapot, speechless.
Dumbledore looked at Frank through his spectacles, hands clasped together, and said in a very serious voice, "This is the Grimmauld Tower, a portion of the Gryffindor Palace that has been abandoned. My name is Albus Dumbledore, the wizard of the court and also Secret Keeper of the Order of Phoenix."
To Be Continued...
A/N: Phew, finally, this chapter is done! Sorry there wasn't much of Sirius/Remus in this chapter, so to make up for it, I'll give you three words that'll foreshadow the events in the next chapter: death, war, kisses ;)
Ekk, yes, there was an unnatural delay between the updates, but at least, this chapter is long, right? Hmm, on second thought, I'm not sure if that's a good thing. Unfortunately, I don't know when the next chapter is going to come out, because due to my stupidity and carelessness, I erased a generous part of the damn chapter. So expect to wait more, and hopefully not as long as nearly a year :D
See you next time!