All Dreams Must End

By James Milamber

A/N: For all of you who were wondering about what happened on the fateful day when Death Eater's were stupid enough to kill James Milton's wife, read on.

WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS SCENES OF EXPLICIT VIOLENCE NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN. It has an R rating for a reason, people.

Dusk was approaching swiftly; already, across the bay to the west, the sky was stained with an angry orange glow stretching from horizon to horizon. Pink-splotched clouds hung low in the sky, and James stopped briefly at a conveniently placed lookout to admire the sight. Below the shifting sky, Port Phillip Bay was as flat as a mirror, reflecting the brilliant light without so much as a ripple to disturb it. In the distance, twinkling on the other side of the vast expanse of water, he could see the Melbourne skyline, already lit with innumerable lights. From such a distance it seemed perfect, even if the reality was far from it.

It wasn't often that he allowed himself to be distracted by something like this. Usually he would hurry home without a second glance at his surroundings, but he was in an odd mood tonight. Almost…peaceful. The world was at peace, and it seemed as though nothing could go wrong. The summer sunsets could be really beautiful.

James shook his head slightly, a wry smile crossing his lips. There was always something that could go wrong, he had learned that lesson many times over. With a slight shrug he continued walking, absently stepping aside to allow people to pass on the narrow footpath that wound its way parallel to the waterline.

Eventually he left the water at his back, turning up one of the many streets branching from the Nepean Highway. He wondered briefly what he would find when he got home. The Twins should be back from school by now, probably getting in the way as Andrea tried to cook dinner. He smiled briefly; more likely, they were trying to help her with magic and not get caught. Andrea had never been against magic, although she had none herself, but she was quite adamant where food was concerned. She insisted that it be done the Muggle way, the way her mother had taught her. James didn't object, as he was hopeless in the kitchen anyway, Mind Mage or not, and Andrea was a wonderful cook.

He briefly contemplated Apparating home, but decided he'd rather walk. Apparating was all well and good, but he knew, despite what she said, that it made Andrea uncomfortable. He supposed he could have just made sure she wouldn't be present at the entry point, but it seemed…dishonest, somehow. The peculiar thought stayed with him as he turned into another street, stepping out of the way of a cyclist who didn't even acknowledge him as he rocketed past. James briefly considered locking the bicycle's front wheel, but discarded the idea immediately. It was just too juvenile.

He turned another corner and stopped dead. A few streets over, he could see a massive green and black shape hovering in the air. His eyes narrowed as he judged distances…and suddenly the idea of Apparition didn't seem all that bad. He Disapparated with a violent bang of displaced air, reappearing in the driveway of his own house. His and Andrea's house.

As he had suspected, the glowing form was floating above his house. He could see now that it was a skull, with a serpent for a tongue. The whole thing gave off a sickly green light, and James' skin crawled as he was forcibly reminded of the Killing Curse.

He felt an intense fury building within him, and forced himself to calm. You don't know what's happening, it could be nothing…but what if it is? Oh hell, Andrea…

James strode up to the front door, and his worst suspicions seemed to be confirmed when he found the door unlatched. He pushed it open silently, his ears perking as he heard low voices coming from the back room.

He made his way silently down the corridor in front of him. To his left was the door to the kitchen, but the lights were off and no one was there. On his right were the stairs to the second story, but again there was no light, save the eerie green glow entering through the open windows from the…thing, outside. The only light spilled from under a doorway directly in front of him. He walked right up to the door and pressed his ear against it.

'…want it again, bitch?'

James froze. The voice was unfamiliar, but the tone was not.

'Screw this, it isn't getting anywhere. Avada…'

'NO!' James almost screamed, punching the door, which smashed into a thousand pieces and showered the room beyond. His eyes took in the whole scene: his children, their eyes wide with fear, bound and gagged on the lounge. Three men in black robes and white masks, all holding wands. And Andrea…bound, naked, on the floor. Blood spilled from her nose and mouth, and covered the inside of her thighs. Her stomach and breasts had been sliced with a sharp knife, and she was obviously in agony. But her beautiful blue eyes were open, clear, and staring straight at James.

He took in the entire scene in a split second, but before he could move the Death Eater with his wand on Andrea completed his spell.

'…Kedavra!' he said triumphantly. There was a flash of green light that matched the dim glow coming in through the open curtains, and James watched in mute horror as his beloved wife's eyes went vacant.

'NO!' James screamed again, his voice filled with unbearable pain and loss. He dropped to his knees as the world seemed to go black, and let out an inhuman wail of anguish. A heavy weight like lead settled into his chest, and he gasped and toppled forward, curled into the fetal position.

The Death Eaters smiled cruelly down at him, all three training their wands on the fallen Mind Mage.

'You cannot stand against the might of Lord Voldemort,' the one who had just so callously murdered his wife breathed, smirking in smug satisfaction. 'Let this be a warning to you, Milton. Join with us, or your children will be next.'

Andrea…no…Alex! Cassie! Fire, sharp and painful, filled James' mind, and he felt something deep within him shatter.

James' head snapped up, and he was on his feet in an instant. With an incoherent snarl of rage, he leapt at the Death Eater, tackling him to the floor before the hapless man could even think about uttering a spell. James gathered as much force as he could into his fist and punched the Death Eater in the face. He watched with a detached, sick satisfaction as his fist passed through the front of the man's head and crushed the brain behind, killing him instantly.

The other two Death Eaters had leveled their wands at him, but James simply rolled off the dead man and disappeared. A millisecond later a ball of blue fire caught one of the Death Eater's in the back. He screamed in agony as the fire burned it's way through him, raising his arms imploringly to his comrade. A second later, he was consumed in flames. A scorched husk dropped completely lifeless to the ground.

The third Death Eater quickly reassessed which way the fight was going and tried to bolt for the door, but James appeared beside and slightly in front of him, his arm held straight out. The Death Eater ran straight into him and neatly clothes-lined himself with such force that James heard a distinct tearing sound as the man's throat burst open. In a rather comical way, the Death Eater's legs were flung into the air by his momentum, and he fell flat on his back.

'Now,' James said coldly, crouching beside the stricken Death Eater, 'you will drown in your own blood. A fitting end, I think.'

The Death Eater stared up at James, his eyes wide with fear and slightly out of focus.

With slow, deliberate movements, James raised his hand and squeezed the Death Eater's already mangled throat. The man tried desperately to scream in pain, but all that escaped was a kind of pained gurgle. James implacably kept his hands in place as spots appeared before his eyes, as his magic tried to rebel against the deliberate pain he was causing. His head began to throb, and it was all he could do to think straight. He wanted to throw up, he wanted to collapse. But he wanted to see this scum die in the most painful way possible even more.

Finally the Death Eater's eyes slid back into his head, and he stopped his weak struggles. His arms fell limply onto the floor, and a wet sigh escaped him.

James finally released his hold on the Death Eater, falling backwards onto the blood soaked carpet. He didn't even feel the sticky wetness against his bare arms. His head felt like it would burst open, there was so much pain…

A muffled thud from behind him had him back on his feet and ready to attack in a heartbeat. But it was only Cassie, who had managed to roll off the lounge. As he took in the sight of his teenage children, James' head cleared slightly. Alex was watching him with wide eyes, shock clearly evident in the bright blue…eyes so reminiscent of his mothers.

The same eyes in Cassie's face were filled with tears as she wept unashamedly. The fire that had taken over James' brain dimmed as his daughter tried to reach him, but failed. She let out a scream of rage behind her gag, trying uselessly to free herself from the ropes binding her.

James' whole body ached with a sharp pain that seemed to penetrate to his very bones, but he fiercely ignored it as he hurried to Cassie's side to untie her. A moment later, both his children were free.

'Dad…' Alex whispered, his voice filled with the same horror as his eyes. But he wasn't looking at his mother's corpse, or the room covered in blood, or the mangled remains to three Death Eaters.

He was looking at his father.

James closed his eyes, afraid he was going to…he didn't know what he was going to do. All he knew was that he couldn't stand to see the horror and disbelief in his son's eyes. Even worse was the compassion and understanding he saw in his daughter.

'We need to go,' he said, his voice hollow and flat, completely empty of emotion. He felt someone take his hand, and knew the soft touch belonged to Cassie.

'Dad…' she whispered, and he found himself enfolded in a hug. James' eyes prickled as grief washed over him in a massive wave, almost driving him to his knees again. A moment later a second pair of arms encircled him, and he knew his son was here too.

'We need to go,' he said, but this time his voice almost choked up. Tears began to fall unbidden from his eyes, and he opened them to look down at the top of Cassie's head. Her face was buried in his robes, heedless of the blood covering him.

'Where can we go?' Alex asked, his voice surprisingly steady. James turned his head slightly to meet his eyes. Instead of the horror of a few moments ago, James saw only a grim determination coupled with barely suppressed fury. He wasn't sure which combination he preferred.

'There is somewhere we can go,' James managed finally, keeping his eyes resolutely away from his wife's body. But his mind wouldn't let go of her final moment of life…and her eyes…

'Where?' Cassie mumbled, her chest heaving as she fought back tears. James gently smoothed her hair, and wrapped his other arm around his son.

James knew that, locked in a drawer in his study, was a letter from one Albus Dumbledore. It was his only option, now. He had tried to stay neutral, but Lord Fuckwit had forced his hand.

'Hogwarts,' James said, surprising himself with the firmness of his voice. 'We're going to Hogwarts.' He wrapped an arm around each of his children, and simultaneously both tightened their arms around him. Something broke inside him, and he crumpled to the floor, taking the twins with him, and wept.

A/N: Any review responses will be posted in HPMM.