Written for: The As Summer Ends challenge on the LiveJournal community, first_order.

Prompts: Dorcas Meadowes; Heal me

Heal Me

Dorcas Meadowes wishes she were Catholic. Then she could go to the priests, tell them what happened, and have this terrible crushing blackness removed from her. That's how Maggie said it worked.

Dorcas killed a man yesterday. It was the first time, she hadn't even really meant to, hadn't believed that it would happen until the green light had shot out of her wand and he'd crumpled to the ground, right there in the cemetery amid the headstones.

She even knows what to say to the priest. Maggie told her: 'Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.'

She isn't actually sure that it was a sin. Thou shalt not kill, of course, but isn't there also something about an eye for an eye, or no, that's not right, because he didn't kill her first – ridiculous – but what about self-defense, or, as Moody had called it in the debriefing afterwards, a 'pre-emptive strike'?

She could have stunned him.

She wanted to, actually. But then she was afraid she'd miss, and that he'd run off, or no, really, she had been afraid that he'd kill her first. She'd panicked.

She still could have stunned him.

They'd just been practicing the Killing Curse last week. Moody had brought in some fish he'd caught, still flopping around in a bucket. She felt sorry for the fish, but it was better than clubbing them over the head, and then Moody had cooked them up with some potatoes and green beans. He wasn't a bad cook. And he'd said they'd better know how to do it, just in case. The Killing Curse, not the potatoes.

So all in all, she shouldn't be feeling like she is. She'd only done what she'd been told, what she'd been trained to do.

Her Muggle grandmother had taken her to church a few times. They didn't have confession, only a man telling a boring story, and then some half-hearted singing, and the organ had hurt her ears. She wanted Dorcas to know right and wrong, she'd said. If you followed the commandments, you were right, and if you broke them, you were wrong.

Dorcas doesn't think this is a 'right' kind of feeling.

Even thought Moody'd told her she hadn't had a choice, and Sirius and James had thanked her, looking white around the gills.

Dorcas doesn't know what happens after you tell the priest you've sinned. She supposes you have to tell everything that happened. Maggie told her they can't tell anyone else, even if you confess to one of the seven deadly sins. Dorcas wonders what the other six are.

There isn't much to tell, really. They had heard that someone was plundering the graveyard, stealing the bodies. It didn't take an Arithmatician to put two and two together, not with the other intelligence they had that Voldemort was interested in Inferi.

So she, Sirius, and James had gone to check it out; they'd only been looking for clues, really, not expecting that anyone would come back. It had been dark, though, after midnight (the Muggles would have been suspicious had they seen three people poking their wands around the desecrated cemetery), and even though Dorcas wasn't afraid of ghosts, she'd been jittery.

At first, she'd thought it was James or Sirius, trying to be quiet. Then she'd thought one of them was going to sneak up and jump out at her, try and make her scream, because that's exactly the kind of thing they would have done. But then she'd seen both of them off in another part of the park, and she'd gotten a cold, creeping feeling in the pit of her stomach, She'd tried to tell herself it could be anything, anyone, a bum, a hippie, some kid taking a shortcut home from a party. It hadn't been, though. She saw the robe and the wand being raised, the mouth opening in a pale face, and before she'd even really had a chance to think about it, he was on the ground.

What scares her the most was that she hadn't really been sure he was one of them. A Death Eater. Moody said he had been, though, the Dark Mark emblazoned on his arm left no doubt. She hadn't wanted to see the body.

She wonders whether the priest actually does something, a spell or an incantation, that literally removes the guilt from your soul, like a Decanting Charm skims the top layer off your potion and into the ready vial, leaving only the unusable sludge in the bottom of your cauldron.

Her grandmother told her to keep quiet about magic around church people, because they were afraid of it. But then maybe the Catholics are different.

Dorcas can't ask Maggie about it, because Maggie is a Muggle, and anyway they aren't really that good friends. Maggie just likes to come to Dorcas and brag about all her boyfriends. The other girls in the neighborhood don't like Maggie, and Dorcas can understand that, but they don't like Dorcas either, and so whenever she was home from school, she and Maggie would hang out together.

Now she's out of school, and she thought that being part of the anti-Voldemort movement would make her feel like she was doing something useful, and it had, as long as it was just doing tracing spells and magical signatures. Flitwick always said she was a natural at that kind of thing. She can practically smell magic with her nose.

But now she's scared. What will happen to her? Moody said the Aurors would be happy she'd 'taken him out', but they can't go to the Aurors of course, because you can't trust anyone. So she just hopes they don't find out. Or the Death Eaters. She imagines they'll want to take revenge on her, for killing one of their own. Moody says she's not in any more danger now than she was before, but even Sirius and James gave each other a look over that.

She's stuck now, she knows. If she quits the Order, she loses any protection she might enjoy against the Death Eaters. She's made herself a target. She can't live like this, though, with this feeling. She doesn't want to see anyone from the Order ever again. It's awful, the guilt. If she could get her hands on a Time-Turner, maybe she could undo it. Although messing with time never ends up doing what you think it will, she knows this. She'd only end up dead herself.

And so she drags her wand across her arm, she can do it wordlessly now, a controlled cut, the blood taking a few seconds to bead up. It always used to calm her down. She hasn't done it in a long time, she's been too busy, but now she needs it. She can do the healing spell, too, but she knows that she'll like to finger the scabbed-over ridges for the next couple of days. Then she won't have to cut again.

She knows that the church people, both her grandmother's and Maggie's, set store in the healing power of blood, too. Maybe their magic isn't so different from hers after all.