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A's Note: There really isn't much to say that hasn't been said about the night James and Lily died but this evening I thought about what it must be like for the people who had to "clean up" after Voldmort and his Death Eater's attacks. This is from the POV of an anonymous Auror who is not an existing character.
"Through the Auror's Eyes" By H.LB.
"I could never do what you do" the red-eyed secretary sniffed as she took the report from me that morning, "Hell, I can't even do what I do sometimes." she said sadly. This was getting to her as well. That was pretty bad considering she never saw anything first hand... just dealt with the reports.
"Tracey, we all have different gifts," I said halfheartedly, giving the answer I always gave. We all have different gifts, I tell people, I probably couldn't do what YOU do, blah, blah, blah. My heart wasn't in it today. Today I wasn't sure I could do what I do anymore, so I was ill-equipped to brush the comment aside.
They pay us well, and for good reason. Our work isn't just dangerous it is depressing, and discouraging and it tends to take a little bit of your soul with it each day. Well, more than a little lately. By rights I should be happy today of all days; we all should but happiness is hard to muster in the face of death and destruction.
It is an all too familiar sight, you know, that hideous symbol - the Dark Mark hovering over a house... more often than not lately the house in question has been rendered a smoking ruin. Last night the house had been smoking, but the Dark Mark was an unrecognizable green smudge in the sky. That had been our first indication that this was more than yet another horrible murder. That, and the fact that the crime scene was unusually crowded.
I was the first Auror on scene, but I was not the first person there. I immediately recognized the over-large form of Hagrid, the Hogwarts Grounds Keeper. I knew that him to be Albus Dumbledore's trusted helper and his presence was a surprise. It worried me.
As I drew closer I could see that Hagrid was holding a small child and arguing with another man. I walked up quietly watching and listening. The man was pale and weeping even as he argued with Hagrid. Looking closely, the former medi-wizard in me recognized the tell-tale signs of shock.
"Please, Hagrid, Let me take him, I'm his godfather I'll - I'll," the man was having trouble speaking, "I'll take care of him"
"No, Sirius, Dumbledore says he's to go to his Aunt and Uncle and I promised to do as he said."
It was hard to make out the words because of the whimpering and small cries coming from the toddler bundled in Hagrid's arms. The couple who lived here had a son, I remembered, a year old the end of July. It appeared that the boy survived, and it sounded as if the Potters had not. I needed to see the child, examine him and then ... then I needed to examine his parents.
"Hagrid," I said, startling the giant who jumped, causing the child to cry more forcefully. Both he and the other man, Sirius, turned shell shocked eyes toward me. Sirius was gripping his wand and Hagrid his ... his pink umbrella. I put aside the questions THAT raised to attend to the business at hand.
"Oh, it's yeh," Hagrid said, once he had a good look at me, "It's been a rough night." For the first time I noticed the giant was shaking and I could see where the tears had run down his cheeks.
"Who are you?" Sirius asked sharply.
"I'm with the Department for Magical Law Enforcement. Mr???"
"Black. Sirius Black. The Potters were my- They were my best friends" he had started speaking strongly but his last comment was barely a whisper.
"I am very sorry for your Loss, Mr. Black," I said speaking the words I had over and over again -day and night and in dreams- to those who were left behind. The child was still crying and I was concerned, niceties could wait.
"Hagrid, may I examine the child please?" I said holding out my arms. Hagrid looked sadly at the child and walked over to place him in my arms ... staying very close by
The child was pale and shaky. Blood was oozing slightly from a cut on his forehead. I waved a wand over the cut to cleanse it and stop the bleeding even as I noted his vital signs. The cut appeared to be the only physical damage, but the child had clearly been deeply frightened.
"Hagrid, Did I hear you say that Dumbledore arranged for you to bring the child to his relatives?" I asked. Hagrid nodded, "I think perhaps that you should take him away as soon as possible. He is alright physically, but needs to be taken away from here."
"Aye" Hagrid said, nodding and looking sadly back at the still smouldering house.
"Which relations will he be going to?"
"Only one's he's got," Hagrid said sadly, "Aunt and Uncle in Surrey. Dursley's the name."
"Well then," I said gently handing the bundle back to Hagrid, "Perhaps now would be a good time to take him to his family." The pain from the cut taken away, the child was calmer now and settled against Hagrid with a sigh that sounded incredibly world-weary for a one-year-old.
"Wait," Black said. He moved toward Hagrid reaching toward the bundle. I watched as the man laid a finger aside the child's cheek all the while swallowing very hard. He whispered something to the baby and stepped back gesturing behind him. "Take my motorcycle, Hagrid, it will be faster."
"I can' take that, Sirius!"
"No, please, I won't be needing it anymore."
Hagrid opened his mouth to raise further objections but I spoke more quickly.
"Perhaps it would be best, Hagrid." Seeing himself outnumbered, the giant lumbered sadly over to the motorcycle with the child in his arms. He took one last look at the house, then he was on the motorcycle and was gone. Gone to take yet another orphan to whatever family was left after Voldemort and the Death Eaters were through with them, I thought bitterly turning toward the house.
I would need to make a quick assessment so that the other Aurors who would arrive shortly would know how best to start their work.
"Have you been inside, Mr. Black?" I asked.
His jaw tightened as a shudder passed through him. I didn't need to see his nod to know he had.
"Was Hagrid here when you got here?"
"No. He got here a few minutes after. After I - after I found... them"
"Was anyone else here?"
He shook his head
"Did you see anyone leaving, signs of anyone?"
Again he shook his head.
"Perhaps you'd prefer to stay here Mr. Black, I need to go in." I said as kindly as I could. I moved toward the house, leaving Black in the yard. I didn't have to go far before I came upon the first victim. Mere feet from the charred front door frame he lay, unnaturally still, eyes open. I didn't need to check, he was dead. His face was different, however. Yes, it wore the final look of fear left on a sea of faces that lived in my memory, but it also seemed set with - what? Determination? Anger? I couldn't tell. I noted he had his wand out. For all the good it did you.
I moved past him, carefully picking my way through the wreckage that doubtless marked the path to the second victim. She, too, was clearly dead. Her green eyes were vacant, although the dampness of tears still clung to her cheeks. She hadn't been far from the back door but she didn't have her wand. In death her arms were frozen as they had been in the last moments of her life. It was clear to me she had been clutching her child.
Both of them were still quite young, themselves, somewhere in their twenties. It hadn't been so long ago, I supposed that the woman lying dead on the floor had been held in her own mother's arms. But I quickly cut off that thought... thoughts like that do in Aurors, I reminded myself. The less you personalize the victims the better you can do your job... it was the harsh truth of my work. But it was getting harder and harder.
As I made my way back out of the house, Sirius Black was gone. That was unfortunate, I had more questions for him. Still, they could wait. I would find him in the morning. Besides, just then my colleagues began to arrive... there was much work to do.
After a time, Hagrid re-appeared with the motorcycle. There was no one to return it to so I assured him I would pass the word along to Black that he was keeping it for him. After Hagrid left, once again, other civilians began appearing.
It's the friends and family that do me in. If it wasn't for them I might be able to pull it off, to keep the despair and depression at bay. I might be able to think of the victims as statistics not people. But those who loved them won't let me do it. In some way, this is a good and right thing for no person should be reduced to a statistic. Still, it was hard to bear.
Ella Figg was the first one after Hagrid came and left again. She worked in the Department of Mysteries so I wasn't surprised she'd found out so quickly. She was clearly stunned, disbelieving. As were the two young men who showed up after her. Fletcher and Lupin. I had copied their names out of my notebook onto my report just a short time ago.
Lupin worried me. The emotional shock had clearly sent up his heart rate and blood pressure. He was very shaky, and very torn up. His tears actually soaked through the sleeve of my robe, I remembered brushing the stiff place the drying dampness had created on my sleeve. I did what I always did, I asked each of them who they could go and spend time with then sent them off to be comforted by friends. Albus Dumbledore arrived last of all, to collect the bodies.
When I was in school Dumbledore had been an intimidating, yet kindly figure. I remembered well the amused twinkle of his eyes above those half-moon glasses. But this night there was no twinkle... no light in those eyes. Somehow, this was the worst thing of all to me. Somehow those eyes reminded me of all the living eyes gone dead with grief... of all the people who still moved and breathed but were Voldemort's victims nonetheless.
Maybe, just maybe, this young couple would be his last. All indications were that Voldemort had tried to kill the child and had nearly been killed himself. For some inexplicable reason it seemed Voldemort's curse had rebounded off the boy onto himself. It was clear he was terribly weakened, even powerless. We knew he had fled. His reign of terror appeared to be over. And yet we were also pretty sure he wasn't dead... and he should be.
As I thought about this I sighed aloud and Tracey the secretary looked up to where I was sitting, waiting for Crouch... "Sorry," I said, forcing a smile with no feeling behind it, "I'm just tired." Tracey nodded sagely making me wonder if she could guess just how tired I was. Of course, I had little time to worry about it.
Just then I had that awful feeling in my gut that told me there was more work to do. Indeed, Crouch came, grim faced from his office.
"We've got another situation. A serious one."
"Sir?" I asked, rising.
"A Death Eater just blasted apart a street trying to kill another wizard. They think he killed about ten muggles in the process."
"Do we have him?" I asked tensely.
"Yes, funny thing is he didn't resist. After all he did Black just gave in."
"Black, sir?" I said incredulously. Surely this was too much of a co-incidence.
"Yes, Sirius Black."
I shuddered remembering Black asking for the child. But I didn't have time to think about that now, I needed to go with Crouch to look into the dead eyes of more victims... always more victims.