A/N: Hereeeeee's Chapter 5! Thank you to the wonderful MissJoline, who Beta'd this chapter months ago. I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to post it here. Please review and tell me what you think!
"Bloody cowards," Sirius spat as he walked over to us. "Left just when we were starting to kick their arses. I almost had Bella too."
James shook his head as we started walking towards Dumbledore. "How many did we get?"
"I think we managed to subdue nearly half of them. But most of them were taken along by the others when they Disapparated," Remus said slowly, scanning the field.
"Alas, Mr. Lupin is correct." We looked up to see Dumbledore, his blue eyes fiercely serious. "Fortunately some of the Aurors managed to hold on to a few Death Eaters. But the majority of them were able to escape."
"Why did it take so long for you lot to arrive?"
The blunt question had come from James. He looked furious.
Dumbledore sighed. "The Ministry is not what it used to be," he said distantly, as if unaware that he was speaking to us. "There are traitors and spies everywhere, in all places. And," he said in afterthought, "on both sides. If Mr. Potter hadn't sent me his Patronus, we might not have known about the ambush until it was too late."
He inclined his head towards James and I. "On that note, the two of you have done very well. I can see that the professors and I were not wrong in choosing the both of you as this year's Head students."
A smile found itself at the corners of my lips. I had wanted to be Head Girl the moment I received my Prefect's badge. To have the Headmaster tell me that I was worthy of the position was a real compliment.
"Albus," Professor McGonagall said, approaching us. "The headcount is finished."
"Number of wounded?"
"Fifteen. Eight of them students. Seven Aurors and Or – others who joined the fight."
"Nothing serious, I hope?"
"A few will be sent to St. Mungo's." She registered our presence for the first time. "Mr. Pettigrew's arm was broken, but a Healer has already seen to him."
James, Sirius, and Remus sighed in relief, glad that their friend wasn't fatally hurt.
There was a moment of silence before Dumbledore continued speaking. "And the number of the dead?"
I brought my hands to my mouth, anxiously awaiting McGonagall's words. I desperately clung to the hope that McGonagall would say that no one had died.
"Two Aurors... and four students."
"Who." I whispered, in a way that was more of a statement than a question.
"Two first years, Robert Wells of Ravenclaw, and…" She hesitated, looking at me. "Mary McDonald."
I sank to the ground, my head spinning. Mary? The girl who I had found crying on the Hogwarts Express my second year? The girl I had helped to find friends and who I tutored in Potions? The girl I still sat with during lunch sometimes? Mary… dead?
I stared at the grass, hot tears starting to pool in my eyes. "She – She wasn't supposed to be here. She was supposed to be with her parents."
"Ms. McDonald ran away from home in order to go back to Hogwarts," McGonagall said gently. "Like you, she left the train to fight the Death Eaters head-on."
"Do – do you know who killed her?" Remus asked. I looked up to see McGonagall and Dumbledore exchange a glance.
"A friend of hers was there with her when it happened." This time she glanced at Sirius before answering. "They were dueling Bellatrix Lestrange."
My eyes flew to Sirius immediately. His face was impassive, but I could see the storm raging behind his grey eyes. I couldn't imagine how he felt; knowing that someone from his family just killed a girl from his own House.
McGonagall murmured something to Dumbledore, eyeing the four of us worriedly. Dumbledore nodded, clasping his hands behind his back.
"My condolences to you, Ms. Evans," he said, bending over and placing his hand on my shoulder. "I know you and Ms. McDonald were close."
"Thank you," I whispered, still in shock.
"If you will return to the Hogwarts Express," Dumbledore continued, straightening, "The train has been repaired and a group of Aurors will be accompanying you the rest of the way to Hogwarts. Mr. Potter, Ms. Evans, I would appreciate it if you reassured the other students and see to it that everyone is comfortable. Professor McGonagall and I will meet you at the castle."
James offered me his hand. I grabbed it, and he pulled me up. Putting his arm around me, we turned back to the Hogwarts Express, followed by Remus and Sirius.
"Mr. Black," Dumbledore called. I felt Sirius stiffen to my left. "Do not blame yourself. We cannot help who we are related to; no one will judge you for the actions of your family."
"They are not my family." Sirius' voice was hard.
Without another word, he stalked off to the train. Remus exchanged a glance with James before hurrying after him. James kept his arm on my shoulder as we walked.
"If you want, you can just stay in the Head's Compartment or with Alice while I talk to the Prefects and patrol," he said.
I shook my head. "No. I'm needed to do my duties now more than ever."
"Alright." He was quiet for a moment. "I'm sorry about Mary. I wasn't particularly close to her, but she seemed like a good person."
"She was great," I heard myself saying. "I was her first friend here. A lot of people didn't want to be her friend because they thought she acted superior, but she was actually just really shy. Once you got to know her, though, she was one of the best friends you could ever have."
"I'm sorry I didn't get to know her."
"She would have liked you. You two are kind of similar – helpful, loyal, friendly."
"You really think I'm all of that?" he asked, laughing a little.
I had to smile. "You are to those who aren't Slytherin."
He grinned. "Point taken."
"Your Patronus is beautiful."
"Thanks," he laughed. "The manly stag."
"It fits you. Proud, mighty, intimidating."
"Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment."
I smiled. Hesitating, I asked, "How – how did your Patronus let Dumbledore know that we were in trouble?"
He sighed. "My parents came up with it. I was trained to send a Patronus to Dumbledore or any other trusted person if I needed help."
"Your parents and Dumbledore know each other?"
"Very well," James replied, helping me up the train. "They're respected Aurors. They'll be worried when they find out about the ambush. I'll have to send them a letter as soon as I can."
He put his hand on my shoulder. "Are you sure you're alright? I really don't mind doing it alone."
"I'm fine, James. It wouldn't be fair to anyone if I didn't do my duties."
He stared at me for a moment, then nodded.
"We should be meeting with the prefects now." I started walking in the direction of the Prefect's compartment.
I looked at him curiously.
"If you ever need to talk…" He stuck his hands in his pockets. "I'm always here."
I smiled, and we walked in silence to the Prefect's Compartment.
A/N: I finished Chapter 6 yesterday. It still needs a bit of work, though. I am setting a deadline for myself: By the end of next week, you'll get Chapter 6. :)
Reviews are very much appreciated! :D