Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This fic was written for FictionAlley's March, 2007 Potions challenge. Prompt: Angelina Johnson gave Blood Replenishing Potion to Penelope Clearwater. Beta read and Britpicked by the BeST team.
Forgiveness Begins with Death
"Relashio!" Angelina cried, pointing her wand through the shattered window at the black-robed figure running past Fred and George's shop. She crouched behind the remains of a display case, desperately trying to hinder the onslaught of Death Eaters in Diagon Alley, begun a half-hour earlier.
Her spell struck, and the target was flung sideways through the window of Podge's Emporium. Glass shattered, the sound swallowed by the BOOM of an explosion somewhere in the direction of Gringotts.
"Bloody hell!" George bellowed. He jumped out from behind a hastily-assembled pile of boxes and detritus and charged toward the door.
"George! No!" His twin dashed after him, a flash of green robes. Angelina's heart leapt to her throat. Another movement in the shadows of Podge's caught her eye. Could it be the Death Eater she had blasted earlier, lying in wait?
"Reducto!" she screamed, aiming for Podge's awning. It collapsed in a shower of rubble across the broken window, blocking whoever was inside.
George was in the lane, his chest heaving and his face grim. "Gringotts," he said flatly, looking into the distance.
Angelina got a terrible feeling in her gut and tears pricked at her eyes. Why? Why couldn't they leave us alone? It was no longer about Muggleborns and blood purity. It was about nothing at all, nothing but fear and destruction. Now they were destroying their own world, too! Angelina felt an utter hopelessness and would have collapsed right there under the complete madness of it all, but then she caught Fred's eye. In that moment, she was so filled with love that she felt capable of anything. Perhaps Fred felt the same, for he pulled on George's arm, barely contained excitement on his face.
George's face lit up. "Brilliant! Tentapull!" The two high-fived each other, and Angelina felt a surge of hope -- the twins' plans had never gone awry; led to chaos, yes, but never disaster.
She was enthralled by Fred's look of boyish glee, the readiness for mischief. She would later be thankful for that moment, that iconic image of Fred Weasley, as well as curse it. If only she hadn't been distracted...
She sensed rather than heard the words. A break-up of reality, a fracturing of the air. The staccato syllables punctured her heart, even as they stopped Fred's.
For a second, she was unsure what had transpired. One moment, Fred was holding George's arm, the next he was on the ground, a crumpled heap of bright green. She thought he had thrown himself down to avoid a projectile... or maybe it was a trick, something to do with 'Tentapull'. Then George was running out into the lane.
"Sectumsempra! Sectumsempra, you cowardly sonuvabitch!" He slashed through the air with his wand. Only then did Angelina see the black robes. Five seconds sooner, and Fred wouldn't be lying there on the ground, wouldn't be...
There was a spurt of red, more than one, there was blood all over the wall, splashed onto the white mask. George towered over the motionless Death Eater, kicking at the body with all the rage of a brotherless twin.
"George!" she cried, panicky with fear, her legs shaking. She clutched the wall for support, then dropped to her hands and knees to crawl the few feet to where Fred was lying, disregarding the broken glass and rubble that cut into her.
"Oh, Fred... Oh, God!" she sobbed, grabbing his shoulders to move him. He was heavy, heavier than she remembered. Of course, that was because he was dead. Fred was dead. Her Fred was dead. She repeated it to herself because it didn't seem real; even the words sounded foreign in her head.
His face was smooth, his eyes, through some twist of merciful fate, closed. He looked calm. Angelina would later be grateful for that as well; she would see more terrible deaths than Fred's. At least her last memories of him were not marred by ugliness.
Angelina pulled him to her as best she could and sat just inside the door of the shop, incapable of thinking, of doing more than crying inconsolably.
She felt George join her; he didn't say anything, just laid his head on Fred's lifeless form and cried as well.
How long they stayed like that, Angelina didn't know, but suddenly there was a flurry of red robes. Aurors were all over, asking questions, moving Fred, picking her up. Angelina didn't know what to say; there was nothing to say. While they were trying to sort out what George was mumbling between his tears, she slipped over to the bloody heap that was Fred's assassin.
She regarded the hateful white mask, smeared with red, and wondered why this person was so full of hate. Had he been after Fred in particular, or had he been ready to kill anyone, anything? Had he even cared that Fred was loved and funny and clever... so clever... and kind, and full of plans. Now that was gone, lost forever. Had this Death Eater wanted to prove anything, or just destroy? Had he been promised a reward? What reward could possibly be worth it? Had he not had any happiness in his own life?
She crouched and fingered the Death Eater's robe. No evil seeped out of it. She gingerly touched the mask. It was hard and smooth, like polished bone, but it was just a mask; it had no volition or desire. Tentatively, she curled her index finger under the edge and lifted it slightly, revealing a tendril of curly, brown hair. She lifted it higher, and more hair came into view, along with a pale, feminine face.
Angelina felt horribly sick, not because of the deathly pallor or the grimace distorting the visage, but because she recognised it. It was Penelope Clearwater... and she was still breathing. Barely.
Angelina looked wildly around. George was sitting on the ground, his head in his hands. The Aurors had moved to the next storefront, and farther up, she could see additional teams working their way through the debris of battle.
She stared at Penelope -- Penny. Her face was impossibly pale, and her eyelids were fluttering. She knew the young woman wouldn't last long. She could put the mask back on. By the time anyone found her, she'd most likely have bled to death. To be doubly certain, she could cast a well-placed Slashing Curse on her former classmate before abandoning her. It was no more than she deserved. This was war after all, wasn't it? An eye for an eye? One of theirs for one of ours? One of mine.
I'd be no better than them. I'd be one of them.
Angelina tossed the mask aside and threw open Penny's robes. There was blood everywhere; so much, it was hard to make out the source.
"Oh, God," Angelina groaned. Swallowing hard, she ran her hand over the slick surface of Penny's abdomen until she felt the edge of the gash, a rubbery lip mid-stomach. Angelina was no Healer, but she cast a quick charm to knit the wound's edges together. She knew there must be internal bleeding, though; time was of the essence.
She darted back across the street.
"George! Find us a Healer, something!"
She jumped over Fred's body, laid out neatly just inside the door. His hands were flat at his sides, robes pulled down to his ankles. She wavered for a moment, overcome with the impulse to drape herself over him and never let him go, but George was on his feet, stumbling towards her.
"Are you hurt?"
"No, not me, it's ..." Angelina snaked her way between overturned displays and spilled shelves, heading for the back room where the twins kept a well-stocked medicine chest for healing the results of their own self-experimentation. "It's Penny! Penny Clearwater!"
"What do you need?" George flipped open a cabinet to reveal rows of vials, tubes and bottles.
"Uh... Blood Replenishing Potion, for starters." She avoided his eye. "But she really needs a Healer!"
She grabbed the potion and ran out. When she reached Penny, she was afraid she might be too late, but Penny's tongue flicked briefly between her grey lips.
Carefully uncorking the bottle, she tipped the dark red potion into Penny's mouth.
"Swallow, Penny, swallow," she urged.
The Death Eater didn't have the strength and coughed reflexively as some of the liquid ran into her windpipe. Finally she swallowed, and Angelina continued pouring until the whole bottle was gone. She'd need more, Angelina knew, and even then Penny might not make it, but at least... At least.
George arrived with someone, and Angelina didn't even notice if the robes were Auror-red or Healer-white. She got up wearily, handed the empty bottle to George, and went back to sit with her Fred.