Dean stared at his watch, counting down the seconds. Five, four, three, two, one... That was it. The train whistle would be blowing for last call before it pulled out of the station. His last chance to go back to school this year was gone. He didn't exactly regret it, he knew that if he went he would be found and killed almost instantly. He wondered how many students wouldn't be on that train this year. He knew Hermione wouldn't be. She wasn't only muggleborn, but probably on the Death Eater's most wanted list. If she wasn't there, he doubted Harry or Ron would be there either. It would be Neville and Seamus alone in the dorm this year.
He sighed softly and turned away from the window where he sat. One of the good things about having a muggle for a mother was that he could disappear into the muggle world and live quite normally. He couldn't exactly stay in one place for more than a night, but it was better than sleeping in the middle of a forest.
Dean stood and walked towards the small, lumpy hotel bed which he hadn't been able to sleep on the night before. He'd ended up sleeping on the window seat, finding it much more comfortable than the hard mattress. He should start heading out. He couldn't spend too much time lingering anywhere. He was in Scotland, although he wasn't exactly sure of the specific location. He'd made sure not to pay attention to where he was exactly. He wasn't great at Occlumency and if anyone decided to take a walk through his brain, he didn't want them finding out where he was. Or where anyone he loved were. He'd told his mother, step-father and sisters to go into hiding a week before he had. It wasn't safe for them any more. He wasn't allowed to know where they were or how they were doing. He had no idea if they were alive or safe or even still in Europe. It hurt, not knowing anything, but it was safer that way.
Dean felt like there was a hole in his chest the size of Britain.
He'd never felt so very alone in his whole life.
He stuffed his few things back into his bag and slung it over his shoulder, slipping out of the hotel room and heading down the stairs to the lobby. He gave his key back to the man at the front desk and jammed his hands into his pockets, heading out into the cool September weather.
Seamus wasn't hungry. He stared down at the plate of food in front of him and wanted to throw up. Everything was wrong, so bloody wrong and he didn't know what to do about it. He looked up at the man sitting in the tallest chair at the head table. Why the hell was he sitting there? His eyes narrowed into slits as he glared at Severus Snape, who looked just as uncomfortable as the rest of the teachers (well, except for the two new DADA teachers who looked like they had never had more fun in their lives).
"Quit staring," Neville said from beside him, elbowing him in the side. "The Carrows are looking for any excuse to torture. Did you hear what they did to Hannah? It's our first day back and they're already setting up detentions. Although, their version of detention is to torture someone into unconsciousness right on the spot."
Seamus looked at Neville when he was finished ranting, frowning a little and looking back at his food. There was a pause before he opened his mouth.
"Where's Dean?" he asked in a small voice for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. He'd asked that question so many times that he felt like it was the only two words left in his vocabulary. Neville sighed softly beside him.
"Seamus, you know why he's not here. He can't come back this year, he's as good as muggleborn. He's not safe here any more. Half the students are missing because of that. You know when he left last year that he wasn't going to be coming back to school. I thought you accepted that?"
Seamus didn't say anything, just stared at his plate like it had done something incredibly offensive which he still hadn't forgiven it for.
Dinner was short. Not many people were very hungry. The prefects lead their first years towards the common rooms while the other years followed behind or ran ahead. Seamus walked towards the common room with Ginny, Luna and Neville talking beside him. He didn't feel like talking or sleeping or learning or doing anything really. His head was too full of questions. Dean hadn't contacted him at all that summer. He hadn't returned any of the owls and sometimes his letters would come back unopened. The last conversation they'd had had been a full blown screaming match.
"I don't fucking care what you think, Shay, I can't stay here another bloody second!"
Seamus felt the smoke coming out of his ears. He was known for having an explosive temper. Dean had always been the calmer of the two but when he got worked up it was like someone had set fire to the room. People tended to run and hide when Seamus and Dean went at it.
"You can, and you will!" Seamus shouted, planting his feet in front of the common room door. "I'm not letting you go out there to get yerself killed! If you insist on going on this suicide mission then at least bring me with you! You don't honestly think you can do this alone, do ya?"
Dean swore under his breath and glared hard at Seamus. "I was in the DA longer than you were, in case you forgot, and I think I'm a lot more prepared to handle myself than you are. I can fly better than you can, apparate better than you can and cast better than you can. You'd only slow me down and get us both killed. That's not something I'm going to let happen. Maybe if you hadn't been too preoccupied being a complete prat last year then you'd have been able to actually learn something." Dean only got nasty when he was hurt or scared. Seamus didn't know what was going on in his mind and he wished he did.
Seamus growled lowly and picked up a glass from the table beside the door and whipped it at Dean who ducked easily. The glass crashed against the wall behind him and brought forth a couple yelps from the students still brave enough to stay in the common room. It was only Neville, Ginny and Hermione left along with a couple younger years who wanted to watch this play out. Ginny looked like she wanted to cry and smack them both over the heads for being stupid at the exact same time and couldn't quite pick which action to take.
"Fuck you, Dean! I'm worried about you, you arsehole! I ain't letting you out of here until you promise you're gonna come back in one piece!"
Dean seemed to calm down a little at that. "I promise," he said icily, although it was obvious he was just humouring Seamus. "Now move."
Seamus shook his head and crossed his arms. "Promise," he ground out between his teeth, "Like you mean it."
Dean moved so quickly Seamus didn't even have time to blink. Dean pressed in on him, backing him up against the portrait hole and slamming his hands on either side of Seamus' head. It was at times like this that Seamus could appreciate just how tall Dean really was. Seamus was almost a foot shorter than him. Dean was a good 6'2 and still growing. Seamus just barely reached 5'4. Seamus craned his neck to look Dean in the eyes. He looked furious. Furious and terrified.
"I'm dead," Dean hissed so softly that if his face wasn't right there Seamus would have missed it. "It doesn't matter what I do. Staying here is only going to get me killed and you know it. The sooner I leave the better. I can get a head start on these bastards, get my family to safety."
Seamus opened his mouth to speak. "But-" he started but Dean cut him off by bringing one of his hands back and slamming his fist into the door beside Seamus' head. Seamus let out a small yelp, jumping and shying away from his best friend.
"Dumbledore is dead!" Dean shouted. Seamus closed his eyes and prayed for patience. "You know that he was the only reason our school hasn't been attacked before now! For fuck sake, he was still alive when we were attacked and he was dead by the end of it! Do you think someone is going to be able to keep them out now? When Dumbledore couldn't?"
Seamus' insides were twisting painfully. He wanted to cry and scream and hold his best friend and punch someone but all he did was stand there and stare at Dean with big, pleading eyes.
"Dean," he whispered, his throat thick suddenly. "Please, just stay... stay until term is over. Come home on the train and then worry about this. Please, Dean, don't leave. Not now."
Dean closed his eyes and moved back a step. Hermione and Neville had moved forwards a little and Ginny had chosen that crying was the best action. Neville put his hand on Dean's shoulder but Dean shook him off.
Dean looked up at Seamus, all the anger gone from his face. His true emotions showed and it caused a small whimper to come out of Seamus' throat against his will.
"I'm sorry, Shay," Dean said calmly, moving towards the door and pushing Seamus out of the way easily before stepping out of the portrait hole and disappearing down the hall. Seamus didn't even have the energy to try and stop him.
Seamus looked up when he heard his name and realized he was already inside the common room. Luna had split off to go to her own common room sometime along the walk. Seamus had been so lost to his memories he didn't even remember getting here.
"Professor?" he asked, tilting his head to the side and frowning. Professor McGonagall was standing in the middle of the common room, looking extremely tired. She walked towards him as all the other students stood around and whispered. Heads of houses never showed up in the common rooms unless there was something important to announce. The fact that she was here and speaking specifically to Seamus made him feel like there was a bolder in his stomach, weighing him down.
McGonagall's hand reached into the pocket of her robes and pulled out a single envelope. She held it in her hands for a moment before handing it to Seamus who took it shakily. He looked down at the name on the back of the letter and felt his eyes go wide. He knew that hand writing.
"Where did you-"
"Mr. Thomas came to me at the start of summer holidays. He asked me to deliver that letter to you once you were inside Hogwarts. It seems he did not think himself capable of delivering it himself." She looked so sad and defeated.
"Do you know where he is?" Seamus asked in a small voice, looking up hopefully at his professor. She closed her eyes and shook her head sadly. Seamus felt the weight in his stomach become heavier.
"He only came to give me the letter before he was off. He informed me it would not be safe for anyone to know of his whereabouts... I am sorry, Seamus."
The use of his first name from the professor startled Seamus a little. Some of the students around the room, who had otherwise gone silent once McGonagall had started speaking, started whispering again.
Seamus swallowed thickly and nodded his head in thanks. McGonagall turned and walked swiftly through the portrait hole.
Seamus stared at the letter. It was wrapped in off-white parchment as a makeshift envelope. The wax seal on the back smelled of berries, just like the candles that Dean always had beside his bed in the dorm and back at his home in London. It was a smell that Seamus had always associated with Dean. His mother made the candles and sent them to him in the post whenever he ran out. Seamus had always wondered if it was because his mother had made them that he always kept one on hand. To Seamus they smelled like Dean, but to Dean, did they smell like home?
Seamus forgot where he was. He didn't care that there were people watching. Neville called his name but he didn't hear it. He slid a shaking finger under the flap and broke the seal. He unfolded the paper slowly. There was a folded square of parchment inside the envelope. Seamus stumbled backwards a couple steps and collapsed on the couch which people had vacated to give him room. He was vaguely aware of Neville shuffling people off to their rooms to give Seamus some privacy. Soon it was only Seamus, Ginny and Neville alone in the common room. Seamus was afraid to open the letter, to read what it said, but he did it anyways.
He placed the envelope on his lap and picked up the letter, unfolding it. It was two pieces of parchment with Dean's scrawled handwriting darkening the off white sheets.
With a shaky breath, Seamus started to read.
I'm sorry. I want to start with that. I'm sorry for so many things. I'm sorry for not saying any of this to your face. I'm sorry for disappearing. I'm sorry for not talking to you all summer. I'm sorry for screaming at you the last time I saw you. I'm sorry I'm leaving. I'm sorry I can't take you with me. I'm sorry for never telling you how I feel about you.
I love you, Seamus Finnigan.
I need you to know that. It's very likely I'm not coming back. I might never get to see you again. I hope that this isn't goodbye forever but who am I kidding? I'm as good as dead anywhere I go. I have to leave. I might be muggleborn. They'll kill me for it, even if it's just a small chance. I hope one day you'll forgive me for this. You mean the world to me. The day I die is approaching fast and I wish I could spend it with you, but I can't and it kills me every second. Being away from you is so hard, Shay. It's probably really disgusting for you to find out your best mate is a complete poof and has been head over heels for you since first year. I'm sorry for that too.
Don't look for me. Don't expect me to come back. Mourn me, Shay.
I love you, I love you, I love you. You're the most important person in my life. And that's why I have to leave. I know what you're like, you'd try and defend me and get caught in the crossfire. I can't let that happen. I'm doing this to protect you. Because you are my everything and I can't let you get hurt.
The letter tumbled from Seamus' fingers and landed on his lap. Seamus' hand moved to his mouth, covering it as he shook and tears slid down his cheeks. He felt so overwhelmed he didn't know what to do with himself. He heard a small gasp behind him which meant that Ginny had read the letter over his shoulder. He didn't know how she was taking any of this, especially since she had dated Dean when he had apparently been in love with Seamus.
Seamus let out a small sob and covered his face with his hands.
Neville was sitting down beside him and reaching over towards the letter. "Seamus, there's more."
Seamus uncovered his face enough to see Neville move the letter to reveal what was still in the envelope. It was a small strip of parchment folded a couple times and a gold ring. Seamus picked up the ring and stared at it.
It was obviously an engagement ring. Seamus felt his heart pound in his chest and his cheeks heat up. The band of the ring was pure gold. It must be worth a fortune from that alone. It had a ruby in the centre. It was a rather large stone. There were six pearls around the ruby, shining glossy white. Under the topper along the inside of the band was a word engraved. It was so small that Seamus had to squint to read it.
Seamus swallowed hard and just stared at the ring. He didn't know what to make of it. What did this mean?
"'The ring was my grandmother's'," Neville said. Seamus turned to look at him and realized he was reading from the small piece of parchment that had still been inside the envelope. "'My mum always said that if you give it to someone you love, it will make sure you always find your way back to that person... Here's to wishing.'"
Seamus looked back down at the ring and attempted to swallow the lump in his throat. He shook his head slowly.
"This isn't right," he whispered, his voice catching a little at the end. "He's such an idiot. If he wanted to confess his love to me and propose he should have bloody well done it while he was still here. Idiot."
Seamus picked up all the pieces of the letter and stood from the couch, the ring still clasped tightly in his hand.
"I'm going to bed," he said after a moment of just standing there. He turned on his heels and walked swiftly up the stairs to the boy's dorm.
Dean was in deep shit.
He hadn't expected this to happen. Especially not like this. He knew that eventually he would get caught and tortured and killed but this was beyond anything that he could imagine. He stared around the large black marble room. He'd only been to the Ministry a couple times before. It didn't look anything like he remembered. He knew it had been taken over by Voldemort and the Death Eaters but it was so evil looking it was almost comical.
Dean felt a sharp jab in the back from a wand, pushing him towards the line of muggles and muggleborns. He hadn't expected to get caught this soon. It was just his luck that he'd gotten stuck in the middle of a raid. It was obvious that he was on the run. Once they found out he was a wizard they knew that he was in hiding. He was barely of age, having just turned 17 the week prior, and the first thing he'd done when he'd seen those black cloaks and skull masks was turn tail and run. One of the Death Eaters had recognized him. Of course they had.
They'd taken his wand when he'd been caught. He was completely defenseless.
He could hear the cameras snapping. They were taking pictures of this? Probably to put into the Daily Prophet to scare people. Dean's throat closed up. Please don't let Seamus see this, he prayed silently.
Another jab in the back caused him to trip. He would have landed on his face but a pair of hands caught his arm before he could fall.
"Steady there," came the hushed whisper. He looked up at the older man who stood beside him in line. He smiled sadly and helped Dean straighten up.
"Thanks," Dean whispered back, moving into line beside him. There was silence for a moment or two as the Death Eaters got the rest of the captives in line. Dean tugged at the bonds on his wrists. "I'm Dean, by the way," he whispered to to man. "Dean Thomas."
The man smiled again and nodded his head. "Ted Tonks," he said in reply. Dean frowned. He knew that name.
"Tonks?" he murmured softly but was cut off when a loud shout from one of the masked figures brought all eyes to him. They were going to start the torturing. They tortured and killed in a line, making the others stand there and wait their turn. Dean wanted to throw up.
He watched, his stomach turning, as the Death Eater pointed his wand at the woman at the front of the line. She whimpered and begged, asking him to spare her, saying that her father was a wizard, saying that she wasn't a muggle, pleading for her life.
Dean had to look away as the spell was shot and she toppled over, writhing and screaming. It lasted so long that Dean was sure he would never be able to get the sound of the woman's screams out of his head.
Dean turned his head back to look at Ted who had his eyes closed and seemed to be silently praying. To who, Dean wondered.
He opened his mouth to ask Ted that very question when the room errupted with green and the woman stopped screaming. Dean's question died in his throat.
"Do you have a daughter?" Dean asked once he'd found his voice again. He could hear the next victim begging and sobbing.
Ted looked back down at Dean and blinked in surprise. "You know my daughter?"
Dean nodded. He was glad for the distraction from what was going on around them. "She's a member of the Order, right?"
Ted smiled again, this time rather enthusiastically for someone about to be tortured and killed. "That's my Dora."
They fell silent again as the screaming began again. Dean closed his eyes and waited until it died.
"I managed to grab a wand off of one of the bastards," he heard Ted whisper into his ear. Dean's eyes shot open and he looked up at Ted in shock. "I can't use it though. I'm not a wizard. Maybe you could..."
Dean nodded quickly. This was probably their only chance to get away.
"It's in my sleeve," Ted said, moving his bound hands down so that Dean could stick two of his fingers inside the sleeve and take hold of the tip of the wand. He had to time this perfectly. No one was watching them, they were all too focused on the people being tortured.
Dean looked around, trying to figure out what his best options were. He took a deep breath and whispered a quick severing spell, cutting the bonds on his hands. He made sure to keep his hands together so he didn't arouse suspicion. He shifted the tip of the wand in Ted's sleeve and whispered the spell again, cutting his bonds too.
"Get ready to run," he hissed to Ted, who nodded.
In one swift movement, he pulled the wand out of Ted's sleeve and pointed it at the Death Eater closest to them. He stunned him with a non verbal stupify before erecting a shield charm. A spell bounced off of it right after he'd put it up. He reached beside him and grabbed Ted's hand, turning on his heels and running as fast as he could towards the floos. There was shouting and chaos behind him but he didn't stop running, zipping around ministry workers who looked just as startled and terrified as the muggle and muggleborns in the line. He didn't have time to save everyone. He would be lucky if he got Ted out alive, let alone anyone else. He had no idea where he was supposed to go once he got to the floo. He kept his hand on Ted, who had a death grip around his fingers. The grates were beginning to close. He ran in and yanked Ted in behind him just as the grate slammed closed and a spell shot through the bars and caught Dean on the arm. He let out a shout of pain and thought of the first place that came to mind, Hogwarts.
When he tumbled out of the fireplace with Ted coughing beside him he was not expecting to open his eyes to the Headmaster's office.
And he was most definitely not expecting to find a very surprised and confused Severus Snape sitting behind the huge desk. Dean's eyes widened and he let go of Ted's hand to reach down his shirt. He couldn't believe why it hadn't occurred to him to use this before now.
"What in the world-"
Snape never got to finish his question because Dean yanked the timeturner out from his shirt and put the chain around Ted's neck as well, turning the dial several times.
The world began to spin. When it stopped they were still standing in the office but it was dark out and there was no one inside. Everyone was asleep, it was the middle of the night.
Dean let out a sigh of relief and sagged back against the wall before hissing in pain and straightening again.
"You're hurt," Ted said, concerned. Dean opened his eyes and looked at him. He wasn't a wizard, which made him a muggle. He didn't seem to be freaking out about anything that had happened, though he did look severely shaken. He was probably used to magic by now, having a magic family.
"It's nothing," Dean lied. His arm was bleeding probably a lot more than was safe. He put his hand over the wound, gripping the wand tightly in his other hand. It felt odd in his hand and it didn't obey him as well as his old wand had but it was better than nothing. "Come on, we should get out of here."
He turned towards the door when he heard someone say his name. He froze.
"Mr. Thomas, it's so lovely to see you're alright."
Dean looked over his shoulder at the portrait of the old Headmaster. He swallowed hard. "Hello Professor Dumbledore, sir."
"I see Minerva has lent you the use of her timeturner. Come in handy, did it?"
Dean nodded numbly.
"I'm glad. You should run along. It's almost three in the morning. Be sure to avoid Filtch, will you? I'm sure that if you borrow a broom from the shed that no one will notice." Dumbledore winked and leaned back in his chair, pretending to be asleep.
Dean couldn't help but smile. "Thanks Professor," he said, turning back towards the door and rushing towards it, Ted hot on his heels.