7. Shattered Souls
By C_A_Campbell and Northumbrian
This was insane!
This was a wedding! This should not be happening.
The woman I had known as Dawn—what had Michael Corner said her name was?—stood before me. I had thought she was my friend, but by her actions she had proved that she was nothing of the sort. She was a liar, a murderess, a fraud. Even now, as her wand pointed towards the long-haired and rather untidy man who had been haunting my life, I could scarcely believe it. How could someone who had seemed so kind, so unworldly and wonderful, watch someone die? Looking at her now, however, I could believe that she had watched Carrow.
Her eyes flicked over to me and so to her wand. I shrieked, and my hand flew towards my pocket. I pulled out my wand, but I wasn't swift enough.
"Expelliarmus!" the murderess snapped.
My wand launched itself through the air; I watched helplessly as it flew into the corner. I met her eyes and trembled; her gaze was cold and determined. I backed toward the door, and Michael Corner stepped between Dawn—no—between Marley Brocklehurst, and me.
Michael's hands were up and open as he showed her he was wandless and defenceless. "Don't do this, Marley."
"I won't let you stop me, Michael," she said, her voice cool. "I have to do this; I have to complete my mission."
"I won't let you!"
She took a step toward him, her wand thrust forward. I stifled another shriek behind my hand, but Michael didn't flinch.
"Are you going to kill me too, Marley?" Michael demanded. His voice was unnaturally calm as I cowered behind him. "Are you going to shatter your soul again?"
Marley stared at him, her eyes wide. Then she shook as though she was having a seizure, as though his question had brought her physical pain. She stumbled away from him, and her hand opened, her fingers spread. Her wand tumbled to the floor and bounced on the white carpet, and she placed her now empty hand on her lips. "No," she moaned.
My heart stopped its frantic pounding. Michael had called her bluff. It made no sense. If what Michael said was true, Marley had killed Carrow; she had tried to kill Mr Malfoy. Yet, she refused to kill Michael. It was bewildering.
Michael hurried forward, snatching her wand from the floor. He needn't have bothered, for Marley only slumped onto the brown leather settee. She placed the flask she'd been holding at her feet, and slowly began pulling things from her pocket, a book and a little ball. A Remembrall, I realized. It flared red as Marley touched it, and she frowned down at it, before setting it on the book.
I collected my wand from the floor, locked the door and stood before it. I was certain that the Aurors would have been called by now. Merlin, what a disaster! The big wedding that was the start of a promising career turned into the scene of an attempted murder! This was awful! Yet, there was nothing I could do, but guard a murderer until the Aurors arrived.
And they had better hurry, I hoped desperately.
Michael sat down on the settee beside Marley. He looked pale, strained, and he eyed Marley with a sad look at I couldn't place. Was it pity, perhaps?
"Marley," he began, but he said nothing else, only curled his fingers more tightly about his wand.
"I didn't think it would end like this," Marley whispered softly, almost to herself. "I can't believe I failed. I've served Justice for so long…so very long, Michael."
He swallowed and looked away, across the room. My eyes met his, but he swiftly looked away. He looked like he was going to cry, and I realised sharply that he had cared about this girl. I didn't know how it was possible. But then I had cared about her too, until I had found out that Dawn Edwards didn't exist. Looking at the fragile girl sitting on the settee, it was nearly impossible to believe she could have done the things that Michael claimed. She looked tiny, as though she was still sixteen and innocent.
But he was Michael Corner … his name finally registered … this hairy wild-looking man was Michael Corner, veteran of the Battle of Hogwarts. He was supposedly one of Harry Potter's friends. I examined him closely; he could be good looking, if he tidied himself up. "Crucio" Corner, Draco Malfoy had called him, because he'd been tortured in his final year.
"Do you know what it was like for me, Michael?" she asked. "To read in the Daily Prophet that all these murderers, those who had shattered their souls willingly, gladly, were free; to know that the woman who murdered my sister, who split her apart, got away with it. They got to live! They got freedom, while those whose lives they had stolen lay in a box! My sister was in a box!"
"I'm sorry about Mandy," Michael said. "I am so sorry. But it doesn't excuse what you did."
"What I did?" she repeated, stunned. "I brought justice. I brought justice for those who had been denied it. I helped mothers and fathers and brothers and isisters/i—" She choked, but continued, "know that the ones they loved were not forgotten. Those with shattered souls do not deserve to live."
"They had brothers and sisters, too," Michael reminded her. "Logan Harper was married. He had children, babies."
She shook and randomly reached forward to grasp the Remembrall. It flared an angry red. "It's been red since even after I remembered Mandy. I was taking Forgetfulness Potions, you see, because it was just too horrific to remember. It was easier to forget, but now I hate myself for not remembering her! And still, I'm forgetting something!" She clutched the Remembrall tightly, her fingers so tense that I thought it might shatter in her grasp. She turned to Michael, desperate for answers. "What am I forgetting?"
"I don't know, Marley. But you can break Memory Charms. I broke the one you placed on me. If it's important, you can remember." Michael told her.
"What happened after my sister died? I remember fighting Crabbe. I remember the spell coming from the wand. And then blood…blood…so much blood." She looked like she might weep, then she squared her shoulders bravely. "Then I don't remember anything. Nothing until I was at Hogwarts, reading about Crabbe's release."
Michael shrugged helplessly. "You spent time at St Mungo's that summer."
"What?" she gasped in surprise. "Why?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. It was confidential."
She stared straight ahead of her, and her eyes darted this way and that as though searching for something she couldn't find. Then she grew still. "Yes, I remember. I remember the cold of the room and the whispering of the doctors. I remember…begging them to let me testify, but they wouldn't let me. They didn't believe Crabbe killed my sister!"
Michael's gaze turned thoughtful. "Who did they think killed her?"
"I don't—" Marley froze; her mouth fell open as though attempting to make sound. For a long moment, she did nothing, said nothing. Then at last, she found her voice, just as the ball in her hand went completely white—and she screamed. I flung my hands over my mouth to stifle my own cry of alarm. I had never heard a scream like that, one of pure agony and terror. I had never seen someone tortured by a Cruciatus curse, but I imagined their screams sounded something like that. Michael took two steps back from her, a look of horror on his face.
"No," Marley shrieked. She buried her face into her hands, her long blond hair hiding her, but not stifling her cries. "No, no, no, no!"
"What is it, Marley?" Michael attempted to prise her hands from her face, but to no avail. "Please, tell me what."
Yet, she continued to scream. Michael pleaded more, and I silently hoped that the Aurors would come soon.
Marley suddenly flung her hands away. Her bright blue eyes were wide and panicked, like a crazed wild animal. "I killed her!"
"What?" Michael gasped.
"I killed her!" she repeated, over and over, beginning to rock back and forth. "It was my spell. I aimed for Crabbe, but I missed. I missed…I missed…I missed. And it hurt her. There was so much blood…so much. I ran; I was so scared. I killed her! I killed my sister!"
Michael stared at her in confounded horror, and an image was forming in my mind. Two sisters fought side by side. Marley lifted her wand to defend her sister. The spell exploded from the wand; the Death Eater shifted just in time. The light, the spell, hit the other sister and ended her life in a moment.
Marley was screaming again. This time, I couldn't blame her. Something deep within me, that part of me that could only just imagine it being my brother and my spell, wanted to scream with her.
Then there was silence. It was even more terrifying then her screams, for the stillness was sudden and complete. A chill came into the air, and I shivered. Marley was unmoving, as though frozen, save for the tremble in her hands.
"I murdered her," she repeated. "And I shattered my soul."
With purposeful movements, she leaned forward, opened the book, and scratched something in with the quill that had been tucked between the pages. I could only stare, transfixed, until she leaned back and gave a satisfied nod. Michael leaned forward, and horror and understanding collided on his face. He turned desperately to Marley. "It was an accident!" he tried to reason with her. "An accident!"
I shuffled forward, peering down on what it was Marley had written. Before me was a list, a list of names. Some were crossed out—the names of those now dead—but there were two names of the living.
Those with shattered souls:
Clarissa Crabbe, John Baddeley, Bryn Prosser, Logan Harper, Karl Jugson, Alecto Carrow
The names which were not crossed out were: Lucius Malfoy, and Marlene Brocklehurst!
Those with shattered souls? I pondered. And what had she said about those with shattered souls?
I looked up just in time—just in time to see Michael call out, to see Marley gulp down the wine in the flask she had held—just in time to realise that Marlene Brocklehurst was about to die.
"No!" Michael grabbed Marley's shoulders. "I can get the antidote! I can save—"
She laid a finger over his mouth and shook her head, a ghost of a smile on her face. "I deserve this."
"No!" Michael protested again. But I knew it was already too late.
With a shriek of pain, Marley tumbled to the floor. She began to seize, to clutch at her stomach, to die in the same wretched way as Carrow. Michael dropped to the floor beside her, looking distraught and helpless. I could only stand, horrified. I wanted to scream for help, but all the sounds got locked in my throat. My knees gave way and I slipped to the floor. I could only stare hopelessly on.
Marley was crying softly. Michael's hands hovered over her, as though searching for something, anything, to do. At last, he stretched his arms around her, holding her as she died.
"Leave," Marley sobbed. "I deserve to die alone."
Michael shook his head. "No one deserves that."
Marley closed her eyes and cried, clutching at her chest, at her failing heart. "I wanted to be the light, Michael," she groaned through the pain. "I never meant to be the darkness."
"I know," Michael said. Tears dripped from his nose, into her golden hair.
Her eyes stared off distantly, and she mumbled, like someone who was falling asleep, "Tell Mandy…tell her…" Then there was nothing; the wishes of a dying girl disappeared into cold silence.
I watched as the light left Marley's eyes. I watched as Michael closed her eyes, placed her head gently on the floor and stumbled away from her, staring down blankly at her body. I watched the white carpet swim before my blurring vision. I saw it all, but it took a small eternity for to realise.
Marley Brocklehurst was dead.
Michael sat on the sofa and stared at the body.
'"It's over," he said. "You should go. I'll stay with her."
I met the Aurors at the front door. I don't know how my legs managed to work; I felt disconnected from my body somehow. Yet somehow, I reached the door, somehow I swung it open and ushered them in. There were three individuals in long black coats: a man in his fifties, a younger man, and a young woman.
"You're late," was all I could manage. I wanted to scream at their incompetence. They were supposed to protect us. A few minutes sooner, they might have been able to stop all that had happened in that tidy little living room.
"This way," I told them.
On shaking legs, I led them through the entrance hall, past the library and into the small family living room. Michael Corner sat slumped in a chair looking at the girl's body, he had not moved since I had left him. I kept my gaze fixed on the far wall. I could not look at Dawn, at Marley, I could not comprehend the enormity of it all. It would do no good for me to fall apart now.
"Did you know her?" one of the Aurors, the young woman, asked.
"Yes—No," I corrected myself, but then I realised that my correction was a lie. I remembered her, holding cookies in a hallway, sitting across me as she listened to all my pathetic drunken stories, and teaching me kindness as she tended over Carrow. Not all of it had been real, I supposed, but it didn't mean that it hadn't happened. "Yes," I said, finally deciding that I knew the person, although not the name. "She told me that she was called Dawn Edwards, but she's Marlene Brocklehurst. Marley…" I couldn't say anymore, least I break down into tears.
The Aurors took charge. The young woman strode across to Michael while her colleagues began examining the corpse.
"Mr Corner?" she asked.
He nodded numbly.
"My name is Pepperell, Trudi Pepperell. I'm an Auror. These are my colleagues, Aurors Webb and Llewellyn. Come with me, please. We'll go through into the library, and I'll take your statement."
The ruined wedding was over. I had escorted the bride and groom to their flying chariot, after their parents had assured them that all was well. I had lied to the guests, told them some ridiculous story about a deranged wine waitress, and then quickly shooed them out the door. Finally, I had told the caterers they had exactly fifteen minutes to clean up the mess and get the hell out. Now all was silent. Mr and Mrs Greengrass were sitting in their garden. Mr and Mrs Malfoy were somewhere being questioned by Aurors; I was sure it would be my turn soon. For now, I sank down on a chair in the foyer, my silver robes rustling about me. If they wanted me to tell them what I knew, they would have to come find me!
And what was it I did know? An hour ago—had it only been that long? It felt like an eternity!—I had watched Dawn—Marley drink a poison and then die. I had watched someone die…
I buried my face in my hands. I tried to stop the raining tears, to keep from ruining my carefully applied makeup, but the sobs would not be controlled. I had watched her die…watched and done nothing. It replayed itself over and over in my mind as I sobbed. It seemed so meaningless, so useless. A life so young was gone in an instant.
A door clanged open, and I looked up to see Michael shuffling towards the entrance. Auror Pepperell was escorting him from the premises, and I knew it would soon be my turn to answer questions. I briskly stopped crying and wiped at my cheeks. I blanched as my fingers came away black; my mascara had run. It was no use now. Michael had reached the door.
"Michael, wait!" I called out, as I stumbled to my feet.
Michael turned. He looked tired, so very tired, as though all the fight and reason had left him.
"I have to know—" I swallowed. "—why she did it."
"You heard her," he told me.
"I know." I winced as the memories stabbed into my brain. The girl, now dead, had spoken to me only an hour ago. She would never speak again, and I could not bear to imagine her ghost. "But I don't really understand. She said it was about justice, but…"
He sighed and stared down at the floor. "What she thought was justice."
"Was it?" I demanded.
He winced and did not answer.
"Maybe," I began, but my voice was thick and I was trying to keep from choking. "Maybe I don't know what justice is. But—" I thought of all those who had died in the battle, and all the supporters of Voldemort who had got away with murder. I thought of how they had died, at the hands of a girl who had thought she was making the world a little more right, but she only made it darker. But mostly, I thought of a fragile blond body laying upon a white carpet, her blue eyes haunted by all she had done—and all that had happened to her. The tears came again. "This wasn't justice. This was horrific…this was…"
"Unspeakable," Michael said, and I thought I glimpsed tears in his eyes as well.
I cried harder, feeling the ghost of Marley Brocklehurst bearing down upon me, whispering, iI wanted to be the light./i
"I'm never—" I gagged on the words, on the bitter truth of them. "I'm never going to forget that girl."
"Me neither," he whispered softly. Then he opened the door and stepped out into the twilight, into the place where light and dark meet.