CHAPTER 1 – Rough Night

By: Sweet 16 Movie Buff!

Disclaimer: I own none of Sirius, James, Remus, or Hogwarts though it would be exceedingly cool to own an enchanted castle with moving stairs and talking pictures. :) Anyway, that all belongs to J.K Rowling, who seriously needs to bring Sirius back in the 6th book.

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"Now remember," Mrs. McKee pecked Jillian quickly on the cheek, but when Jillian attempted to withdraw she cupped her face firm in her hands, gazing earnestly into her daughter's eyes. "No drugs. No booze. Home by one. Do you understand?"

Jillian rolled her eyes at criteria she'd heard a dozen times before. "Yes, Mum."

"Now repeat it back."

Heaving a large sigh, Jillian droned, "No drugs, no . . ."

"Booze. Home by one," Mrs. McKee chorused with her. She smiled at her daughter, a warm smile that Jillian swore only her mother could perfect.

Jillian loved her mother dearly, but, like most seventeen-year-old girls, felt that her coddling and worrying was needless. She'd been to Connections so many times that she knew exactly who to avoid and what not to do.

Even though Toby Williams, one of her closest friends, had insisted on heavy eyeliner and a lip-gloss, Jillian McKee was nothing spectacular. She was a rather plain girl with only notable cheekbones to add to her countenance. Her golden chestnut hair she wore short and cropped to her jaw in choppy strands. A mauve chemise and slimming black pants hugged her frame for the night and a pair of paint-splattered platforms adorned her feet.

"We should get going if we want to make it back by one," said a pale girl from the couch. Carly Spocker, another one of Jillian's best friends, too, was dressed for a night of dancing. Her flaxen curls were thrown up in a helter-skelter bun, a single stray ringlet tucked behind her ear.

"Toby!" Jillian shouted in the direction of the bathroom door.

"I'm coming! I'm coming!" The dark-skinned, russet-red haired girl emerged from the bathroom, fixing a gold hoop to her ear.

She snatched up her purse from the sofa beside Carly and hugged Mrs. McKee lopsidedly. "See ya later, Mrs. McKee."

"Night, Toby," the older woman hugged her in return and embraced Carly too, before shooing the two out into the corridor of the tenement.

Jillian kissed her mother's cheek; "We'll be back by one, Mum. Promise."

"Isn't Sirius going with you?" Mrs. McKee asked with a frown of concern.

Jillian hesitated, then shook her head, "Nah, Mum. He had a date tonight."

"Oh," she patted Jillian's cheek affectionately, eyes brimming with understanding, "Then we'll just have to get the whole story later over a cup of tea."

"Okay," Jillian smiled. Leave it to her mother to solve everything over a cup of tea.

"Jilly! Come on all ready!"

With another quick peck on the cheek, she bounded out the door. "Bye, Mum!"

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"I can't believe it! THE Ted Tonks, Lord of the Night, is gonna get hitched!" Toby laughed as the three ascended the stairs of the tenement building.

"Toby keep it down!" Carly hushed.

All was quiet in the building, all were fast asleep; when she had been young and had woken from a terrible nightmare, Jillian had thought of the silence as the eerie witching hour. Now, years older and wiser, the silence and stillness hardly scared her anymore.

"I still can't believe he's engaged . . ." Toby rambled, skipping to door number forty-three and landing with a little flourish before it.

"You had too much butterbeer tonight, Toby." Jillian told her with a smile, her paint-splattered platforms in hand. Andromeda Black, soon to be Mrs. Andromeda Tonks, had brought some of the butterbeer along to celebrate the engagement. Whitney, her short hair now a blazing scarlet red, had taken to the drink almost as much as Toby had after her first taste.

Quietly Jillian knocked on the door to the flat, expecting at any moment that the door would fling open and Mrs. McKee would appear in her nightgown and bathrobe, smiling and eager to hear all about there night despite her distaste for the night club.

She rapped again when the door didn't open. "Mum?"

No reply.

Frowning, Jillian fumbled in her clutch for the key. Something was wrong. Her mother almost always opened the door to welcome Jillian in. She was a light sleeper; she always heard the door. Something must have happened; maybe she had a heart attack –

No, the logical part of Jillian's mind reprimanded, Everything's fine. She's probably asleep. She was awfully tired after work today.

Oh really? drawled a small voice, When as that ever stopped her?

Jillian shook her head sharply, jostling the voices into silence. The little knot of dread in her throat, however, was not so easily dislodged and held. Swiftly she unlocked the door and flung the door open.

She stopped dead on the threshold.

The flat was in ruins. Pillows and picture frames were in disarray; some pictures were scattered on the floor. The balcony doors were open, the glass broken; the terrace plants were toppled. Glass glittered in the moonlight in a thin trail to a still corpse splayed awkwardly, lying in the middle of the floor.

"Merlin's beard," Carly gasped as she flipped on the lights. Her hands went to her mouth, utter shock etched on her features. Toby was caught mid-saunter when she saw the mess of the apartment.

There was blood everywhere. Black shadows were littered among the glass. There was blood on the countertops, trailing down the cabinets in dirty russet drops. There was blood on the walls.

Jillian was not looking at the flat; she was looking at the person at her feet. It wasn't her mother. That . . . that thing, wasn't her mother.

She stared down at the body of the woman before her. The silken primrose nightclothes were tousled and rumpled. Golden hair fell in matted clumps to her shoulders. Features that were so similar to Jillian's, yet more comely, were frozen in a terrified mask. Hazel eyes gaped unseeingly to the right, her neck twisted at an odd angle. Her whole posture was odd, broken in more places than one could count.

Toby skimmed the flat desperately, brokenly, at a loss of what to think. What to say. She took in every misplaced photograph, every shade-less lamp, every filthy bloodstain on the walls, until her gaze fixated on the far wall.

"Jilly," Toby's voice shook. "Carly . . ."

They looked up from Mrs. McKee's broken person and followed Toby's unwavering eyes. A large brown skull spanned the wall, a snake twining about it. Carly let out a stifled scream as she recognized the Dark Mark drawn in blood.

Wands came out in an instant, eyes alert and searching. Jillian fell back towards the door and the three formed a tight circle. Nothing. There was no one.

"They might have left," Carly quavered softly.

Jillian's eyes darted about the flat. That shadow in the corner . . . did it move? Did her bedroom door just open a fraction?

Death Eaters. The word echoed over and over in her head, rattling about like it was an empty drum, each time causing her lungs to constrict with fear.

Death Eaters, Death Eaters, Death Eaters, Death Eaters . . .

A clang of metal outside screeched through the silence followed by an audible crash. Three heads snapped in unison to the balcony.

"They're climbing up the fire escape," Jillian breathed.

"Run." Toby grabbed Carly's arm and pushed Jillian out the door.

They ran down the hall and slammed through the stairwell entrance, not breaking pace as they scrambled down the stairs.

A sudden idea came to Jillian. "Wait!"

She slipped out of Toby's hold and raced back up the flight of stairs to hastily trace the door with her wand, muttering an incantation under her breath. Sloppily done, but with no more time to work it properly, Jillian swung herself over the rail and stumbled after Toby and Carly, waving them on. "That will hold them for a little while. Go!"

Their feet pounded on the cold cement, numbing the balls of Jillian's aching feet. They crashed into the lobby, skidding on the tile floor, before shoving the door shut with a bang. They leaned against the door, gasping, hoping for a moment to catch their breath.

Jillian looked over at the desk, hoping beyond all hope that the security guard had heard them, but no. He lay fast asleep at the lobby desk, the security monitor buzzing blue over his sleeping face. High above there was a crash as the third floor door blew off its hinges.

"They went down this way!"

Toby, Carly and Jillian shared a terrified glance. No more need for being discreet.

"RUN!" Toby screamed.

The three girls tore out into the street, heels clicking on the pavement as they dashed quickly into the dark gap between the tenement building and its neighbor. Jillian watched her feet as they fell back further off from the street, careful to avoid bits of smashed bottles. Once Carly was satisfied they wouldn't be seen, Jillian collapsed back against the brick, her heart pounded against her ribs.

It was so loud. Who knew that one's heart could make so much noise at the most unwanted times? The beat was irregular and fast, ebbing and nearing . . . Merlin's beard couldn't it just shut up for a moment?

"Jilly!" Carly hissed as she grabbed her friend's arm and jerked her with a sharp gasp back to the present. It wasn't Jillian's heart that was pounding mutely; it was the footfalls of Death Eaters.

Jillian looked up at Carly and Toby. They were scared, two pairs of wide eyes asked silently, What do we do?

She had no idea.

Think, she ordered herself. Think!

"We have to split up," she said at last, voicing what they all did not want to do, "We have to scatter."

She glanced out onto the street, seeing slim shadows moving in the lamplight.

"Stay out of the side streets," Jillian continued quickly, more certain of her course of action. "You don't want to be caught at the end of a dead end."

"Where do we meet up?" Toby asked quietly, craning her neck to make certain the Death Eaters were still in the street.

Jillian racked her brain. "Connections. We can lose them in the crowds if needs be."

"I can Apparate," Carly whispered suddenly. "I'll go to the Ministry, see if they can send some Aurors."

"I bloody hell hope so. It's their bloody job isn't it?" Toby grumbled, eliciting smiles from Carly and Jillian.

Jillian nodded her agreement and with a muted pop, Carly disapparated, leaving them alone in the dark.

Jillian peered out into the street to see a Death Eater pacing the sidewalk on either side of the road. She motioned Toby further back into the shadows. "Keep straight down this way and you'll meet another street. Go."

Toby hesitated, "What about you?"

Jillian shook her head; "I'll be fine. Just go!"

Without further uncertainty Toby silently slinked into the darkness. Jillian watched her disappear before slipping deeper into the shadows, coming to the corner of her tenement building. Once she was certain there were no Death Eaters lurking near, she traced back along the tenement and around the corner, returning once more to the street. The sentry had moved on down the walk, ducking into alleyways from time to time.

Jillian watched carefully as the Death Eater ducked into a gap several buildings away. Now was her chance, she had to run for it.

She pitched to her feet, taking off down the sidewalk at a dead sprint opposite the Death Eater.

"OVER HERE!" a voice screeched; it was the sentry on the opposite sidewalk. "WE HAVE ONE! STUPEFY!"

A jet of red light beamed across the road. She fell to the ground, the Stunner flying harmlessly over her head. Feet were pounding in all directions, all drawing nearer. Excitement was pressing in around Jillian. They could smell their prize. This is what they had been waiting for, another Mudblood to torment . . .

With a choked sob of fear, Jillian lurched to her feet and ran. Her legs fell into the rhythm, her bare feet pounded numb and cold on the cement. Her arms pumped steadily as she clutched the platforms in one hand.

Spells and shouts followed her, jets of light whizzed past and over her shoulder. She took deep breaths, trying to push away the sharp pain of a cramp burying into her flesh. She did not need it right now.

Steely eyes glinted in the street lamps. From the shadows a Death Eater stepped in Jillian's path, wand raised. "Imper - "

There was no time to think. Jillian swung the heavy platforms up, the thick soles connecting with the Death Eater's mask. Bone crunched and he doubled forward, clutching his face as blood seeped through the silted nostrils of the mask.

Jillian flew down the street, hardly hindered by the force of her own blow. She seemed to run forever, the Death Eater's cries going in and out with her breathing. She didn't know how far back they were. She couldn't risk it.

There was a buzzing in her ears, like the thrum of an engine. Was there someone behind her? No, one glance could cost her everything, hadn't football taught her that?

"Jillian!"

She couldn't look back.

"Jillian!"

The roar of an engine was right beside her. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a motorcycle overtaking her, cutting off her escape. The bike and its rider slid to a halt, front tire on the sidewalk, blocking her escape.

The rider flipped up the helmet visor. It was Sirius. "Jillian! Get on the bike!"

She could have wept with relief. Swiftly she straddled the bike. She wrapped her arms tight around his waist and leaned on his warm back, breathing in the heavy scent of tanned leather from his jacket.

Sirius snapped the visor down and pulled hard on the clutch. The engine thundered back into action and they were off, zooming down the street at a blurring pace. Jillian clung to him like a scared child. He could feel her trembling, though if out of fear or exhaustion he didn't know.

"Where to?!" he shouted over the wind.

It took her a moment to snap from her dazed state, then another to understand what he was asking her. "Connections!"

Sirius returned his attention to the road. A quick glance to the left of the right made certain no one was watching. He lifted the handlebars off the ground, like one would do in preparation for a wheelie, but instead the motorcycle lifted off the ground, now flying through the streets of London, then flying over them.

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With a jolt the bike landed on the tarred pavement of a dingy street. Blinking neon signs lined the street, their lights illuminating vile graffiti sprayed on the walls in large grand designs. Above a poster-strewn building, once a warehouse, a neon sign in pink and blue read Connections.

Two shadowy figures waited outside the entrance stairs, one sitting on the curb over a grate, the other in a glittering blue dress that sparkled in the lights, was darting anxious looks up and down the street.

Sirius pulled in alongside the curb and Jillian immediately stumbled off the bike towards a cluster of trashcans. She braced herself over one and hacked mightily, spitting up blood and saliva in thin strands dangling from her lower lip. Her whole body shook. Her legs were like jelly, wobbly and twitching as muscles contracted and shuddered.

Sirius glanced over at Carly and Toby. Neither looked any better than their friend did. Toby's feet gleamed with blisters that had broken open. Carly's hair was falling out of its bun to her shoulders, bobby pins coming loose from their places.

There was a crash as Jillian collapsed onto the sidewalk amongst the bins. She curled into a small ball, resting her folded arms around her shins and then resting her head on her knees. She quivered with a single muffled sob that dissolved into more.

He watched helplessly as she wept. He didn't know what to do. He'd never been any good at comforting others. He glanced desperately at Carly and Toby, but when he saw the tears glittering on Carly's cheeks and Toby's broken expression, he knew that they too suffered silently.

Hesitating, he swung his leg over the bike and tore his helmet off. Slowly he approached Jillian, every step making his dread grow; after a moment's hesitation, a moment to gather his courage, he crouched before her.

"Jillian?" he breathed quietly.

When she seemed not to hear, he slid his hand under her chin, gently but firmly lifting her face. Her cheek was wet with tears and her eyes were blotchy and red with crying. Eyeliner trailing in thin streams down her face. He was sure that she could hear his heart crumbling, or at least see it in his eyes

"What happened?" he asked softly, combing his fingers partway though her hair, his hand cradling her cheek.

His voice brought her back for a moment, reminding her why she was alive. With his thumb he brushed away a tear from her eye. He gazed concernedly at her; his eyes never swayed from her own hollow ones. His hand felt good against her cheek, his fingers were soothing as they ran along her scalp.

"They killed my mother," she choked as another knot of tears climbed up from the back of her throat. She shook again and the tears came once more.

Sirius gathered her against him, letting her cry into the cradle of his neck and cling to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, twining her fingers in his mane of black hair, and sobbed brokenly.

"Make her come back. Please . . . just make her come back . . ."

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BEFORE I FORGET . . .

I'll review your fic, if you'll review mine. Thanx a bunch and enjoy!