Prologue: On the Other Side of the Wall
Death leaves Us homesick, who behind,
Except that it is gone
Are ignorant of its Concern
As if it were not born.
Through all their former Places, we
Like Individuals go
Who something lost, the seeking for
Is all that's left them, now—
- Emily Dickinson
James Potter woke with a start, his hand automatically reaching beneath his pillow to grasp his wand tightly. Bleary eyed, he reached for his nightstand to feel around for his glasses and after fumbling for a moment, perched them on his face.
The hallway light cut through the darkness of his room, parting it like the Red Sea and footsteps on the stairs echoed back up the hall, most likely his father from the heaviness of the steps. Glancing at the clock, James noted the time - 3:18 am. He wondered what his father was doing up so late when he suddenly heard the sound of the front door being pulled open.
Concerned now and ever curious, James stood from his bed, gripping his wand and padded quietly from his room to the one beside it. Even with the little light provided by the hallway, James could see that his best friend, Sirius Black lay tangled and twisted in the covers with his mouth wide open. Under any other circumstance, James would have found this funny, but now the way his blood rushed in his ears drowned out his humor.
"Padfoot… Padfoot, c'mon get up!" he hissed urgently, shaking Sirius' shoulder.
It must've been the tone of James' voice that made Sirius snap open his sharp grey eyes. "Wha's goin' on?"
"There's someone here," James told him.
Sirius took another moment to wake, shucking off the last chains of sleep before he swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood, grabbing his own wand from his nightstand. Carefully avoiding the places in the floor that creaked, the two friends treaded down the stairs, their wands at the ready.
But all that greeted them when they stopped on the stairs was confusion.
During the amount of time it took James to wake Sirius, his mother had also woken up and she now stood in the foyer along with his father, Albus Dumbledore, and a girl around James and Sirius' age.
Dumbledore noticed their appearance before anyone else and turned his twinkling blue eyes on the two troublemakers. "Ah, hello James, Sirius," he said nodding to them. "Surely you remember your fellow classmate, Elaina Cochran."
James wanted to sneer at her name. He knew her, Elaina was a girl in their year and house who was gorgeous and knew it. The problem was that she seemed to have more the makings of a Slytherin than a Gryffindor, as those were the only people James had ever seen Elaina associate with. And he couldn't recall her having a person in Gryffindor Tower that she could call a friend, even if she occasionally did speak to Remus. But those occasions were few and far between, and although he had never seen Elaina be mean or cruel to anybody, and despite the fact that Remus said she was a 'nice girl', James disliked her by association.
However, when Elaina raised her head to acknowledge James and Sirius, he no longer had it in him to give her a dirty look and even heard Sirius muter an ugly curse behind him. This was not the same girl they knew from school. The Elaina they knew from school walked tall with cool confidence, a small smile perpetually pulling up the corners of her mouth.
But this Elaina looked like she had been dragged through Hell and back.
Elaina was still clad in her pajamas that were torn in several places, the knees and much of the front of the shirt were covered in dirt as if she had fallen several times. A large cut adorned the side of her face, accompanied by many smaller ones, swelling and a black eye. Another large gash stretched from her left collarbone, across her chest and disappeared under the neck of her tank top, but the fabric was stuck with blood where it continued. Her right arm was braced across her ribs and she looked in pain whenever she took too deep of a breath - one of two of them must have been broken. Then James' eyes reached her feet, bare and muddy and he only just realized that she had tracked in bloody footprints.
How much pain must she be in? James wondered. Moreover, he wondered how she could just stand there and not say how much pain she was in, simply suffered.
"Let's go talk in the sitting room, shall we?" Maryann Potter suggested.
"That would be a lovely idea," Albus replied before turning back to James and Sirius. "Would you two be gentlemen and keep Mss Cochran company?" Silently, they nodded and their headmaster smiled. "Wonderful, I also think she would like some tea."
Without a word, James and Sirius descended the last few steps and headed to the kitchen, Elaina trailing behind. Still trying to stand on ceremony or trying to gather what bit of decorum she could, Elaina gently eased herself into a kitchen chair while James put on a kettle of tea. Sirius sat across the table from her, watching as she clasped her hands together so tightly her knuckles turned white. Her breathing was shaky and tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, but she seemed hell-bent on not crying.
Something horrible had happened that was for certain and for Elaina, who Sirius always knew to be vivacious and outgoing to turn into a shell of who she once was, he could not even begin to fathom what she had been through. He wanted to ask, but didn't, somehow knowing he would be crossing a line.
A moment or so later, James placed a tall mug of steaming tea in front of Elaina. She looked up and nodded her thanks as she placed her hands around the ceramic. James almost stopped her to tell her that the mug would be hot, but when her shoulders relaxed he changed his mind - if the heat of the mug was a comfort to her, it was one he would let her have.
And then, he barreled right into the questions Sirius himself desperately wanted to ask with all the subtley of a charging troll. "Elaina, what happened, why are you all beat up? Why are you here, and with Dumbledore of all people?" James asked, followed by "Ow!" as Sirius punched him in the arm.
James hadn't realized that while he asked his questions, tears had started to stream down Elaina's face. Both boys were shocked - Elaina Cochran did not cry.
"Oh shit! Elaina, I'm sorry!" James gasped, reaching out to lay a hand on her arm, but she shrank back from his hand seeming to close in on herself more.
"Elaina -" Sirius started, but was immediately cut off when the kitchen door swung open and James' parents and Dumbledore filed into the kitchen.
"What's going on?" James demanded turning his eyes to his parents.
But it was Dumbledore who answered, "Your parents have graciously agreed to have Miss Cochran for the remainder the summer and until a more suitable place can be found for her to be."
Dumbledore held up his hand. "Now is not the time for such demands, it will be explained in time."
James' father, Nathan stepped forward. "Until we can put another room upstairs, would one of you be -"
Sirius didn't let him finish, but his eyes never left Elaina's defeated frame. "She can have my room."
Mrs. Potter smiled warmly, cupping Sirius' cheek. "Thank you, dear." Then she turned to Elaina, curling her fingers under the girl's bicep as she gently guided her from the chair. "Come along, my dear, I'll get you fixed up and we can put you to bed."
Elaina stood without protest, leaving the untouched tea on the table and followed James' mother upstairs. Dumbledore turned to Mr. Potter with a smile. "Thank you again, Nathaniel, I can think of no safer place for Miss Cochran to be."
Nathan smiled. "We're happy to have her and be of any help."
Dumbledore smiled wider before turning his attention to Sirius and James. "I know that the three of you have not necessarily gotten on very well, but please do your best not to irritate Elaina overmuch while she is here, she has been through a great deal and the last thing she needs is anymore undue stress. And with that, I will see you at the start of term."
Dumbledore left then, and James knew that due to the wards and charms placed around his home that Dumbledore could not apparate until he was standing on the sidewalk. James turned to his father, impatience dancing in his eyes.
"Dad, what happened?"
His father sighed, rubbing his hand across his forehead. "Not tonight, not right now. Too much has happened." He glanced at the clock before continuing, "it's late... or early. Right now what we all need is rest."
With that, Nathan left the kitchen and once again, James heard his footsteps on the stairs. Sirius yawned running his fingers through his hair while James knuckled his eyelids beneath the frames of his glasses. The two friends looked at one another across the table, as if trying to find the solution that would quench their curiosity in the angles of the other's face.
"Why would she have to stay here?" James wondered. "Doesn't she have anywhere else to go, an aunt, uncle… someone? Or even her parents for Merlin's sake, unless they're on holiday."
Sirius shook his head as a sick feeling began to settle in his gut. "I don't think that's the case. I remember overhearing her telling someone that she and her parents spend every summer together, they don't go on holidays…"
They met each other's eyes, gunmetal grey meeting caramel brown, sharing a look of utterly terrible understanding. Elaina was entirely alone in the world. Sirius and James broke eye contact each with a swear word on their lips. They pushed out their chairs and Sirius headed to the door while James went to dump Elaina's untouched tea in the sink.
The door to Sirius' bedroom was partially closed and inside he could hear Mrs. Potter whispering comforting words to Elaina. He knocked being told to come in a moment later. Maryann and Elaina sat on his bed both with their backs to door. Elaina was hunched forward, whimpering in pain while Maryann held her wand in her hand with several vials of potion sitting at her feet. He stepped over Elaina's discarded tank top and almost put his hand over his mouth at the sight of Elaina's bare back. Several deep bruises covered the surface of her back, seeming to be the point of impact of whatever spells had hit her.
How the hell is she still alive? Sirius thought, moving to his dresser while Maryann continued to help Elaina. He opened the top drawer taking out another pair of pajama pants and a white t-shirt before turning back to Elaina and Maryann. He watched as the bruising began to disappear under the tip of Maryann's wand and with each bruise that healed, Elaina sat a little straighter.
"That's the best I can do, I've healed the worst injuries," Maryann told Elaina. "I just want you to be comfortable enough to be able to sleep. The cuts on your face will heal well and not leave terribly noticeable scars, but I'm afraid I can't say the same for the one on your chest." Then she sighed and laid a hand on Elaina's back ignoring the way she flinched. "The things you've been through tonight… you brave girl… Drink some Dreamless Sleep Potion and get some rest."
Maryann left then and Elaina reached around to clasp her bra back together. She stood up slowly, and from personal experience, Sirius knew that although many of her injuries had been healed, the shadow pain of them remained. She turned to face Sirius, her expression blank and her arms crossed. Sirius could see that Mrs. Potter had spread a healing cream across the cuts on Elaina's face as well as the one along her chest.
"Here," Sirius said, holding out the clothes to her. "I thought you might want something else to sleep in."
Elaina reached out, taking the shirt and pants Sirius offered, pressing them to her chest, still silent. She turned away from him for a moment and drew the shirt over her head to cover herself up then reached for the two pillows that sat at the head of the bed as well as a corner of the blanket. Facing Sirius, she held them out, offering them to him.
He shook his head. "I don't need them, James has extra pillows and blankets." She nodded, turning to place them on the bed again as Sirius said, "Well… goodnight. We'll probably see you at breakfast."
He left the room, shutting the door behind him and walking into James' room where he and Nathan were setting up the cot Sirius used to sleep on when he stayed over in the past, before he moved in. James tossed his father the pillows that were at the top of his bed, followed by the extra covers. Beyond the wall that separated the two rooms, Sirius could hear the floorboards creaking as Elaina walked around.
"How is she?" Nathan asked him.
Sirius shrugged. "Much the same… Can she still talk?"
"I'm assuming so," Mr. Potter replied. "I think the shock might be too much for her to handle right now." Nathan stepped past Sirius, clapping him on the shoulder. "Goodnight boys."
Sirius crossed to the cot and sat on the edge of it, facing James as he sat on the edge of the bed. "My parents will probably put another room on the house for Elaina sometime tomorrow, so you'll have your room back."
Sirius nodded, laying back on the cot, his arm thrown behind his head. Through the wall, he heard the mattress of his bed creak as Elaina laid down as well because his bed was just on the other side pressed against the shared wall. James clicked out the light and turned over facing the wall. It was then, in the eerie and tense silence Elaina unleashed an unmuffled, heart-wrenching scream, followed by heavy weeping.
Both Sirius and James clenched their eyes shut as they tried and failed to drown out the broken crying of the girl just on the other side of the wall.
Hello again! I just recently got this ides
and just couldn't wait to get it out of my skin,
it has seriously been nagging at me to write.
So this was the prologue where Elaina, obviously
my OC was introduced... sort of.
Uhm... Oh, I don't know James' parents' real names
so I made them up. But, if anybody does happen to know
please tell me and I will go back and fix this.
Thanks for reading! And please review and let me know what you thought! :)