written for: quidditch league fanfiction competition (appleby arrows, whoo! chaser 3) — round three, rare pair.
disclaimer: the characters do not belong to me.
warnings: non-linear — written in snapshots that are not ordered chronologically. swearing — james and rose, particularly, have filthy mouths. revolution!au — technically, it could still be canon-compliant, except it's also a non-magical!au. also, character death due to revolution.
dedicated to: pooja (opaque-girl) because she's a great teammate and i know she likes this pairing and she's basically just a seriously cool chica.
will you join in our crusade?
who will be strong and stand with me?
do you hear the people sing?—les misérables
James drops the cigarette, crushing it into the cement with the heel of his shoe.
He walks off into the night, leaving only a crushed cigarette with dimly glowing embers as evidence he was ever there.
"Do you ever wonder what we're fighting for?" Rose asks him, taking a drag on her cigarette in a manner far too practiced for her to be an amateur.
He shrugs his shoulders, brandishing his bottle towards the flag hanging from the ceiling.
She raises an eyebrow. "Since when have you been a patriot?" she asks, brown eyes amused.
He shakes his head, taking a swig. "I'm not," he says darkly. "But he is."
Rose nods with understanding, and they just sit there together as they try to believe in a future where they will all survive.
There is so much fucking blood. So many lives lost unnecessarily, so much pain and anguish in the air.
The streets are red, and he feels numb.
"We fight for freedom," Teddy promises him, clasping his hand in what looks like solidarity and comradeship but is so much more.
James gazes at him. "What if I don't believe in freedom?" he asks, the alcohol in his system lending his voice strength.
Teddy stands abruptly, his hand falling out of James' as he looks down at the younger boy. "Then why are you here? This is a revolution, James, and you don't win a revolution unless you have a cause greater than yourself," he says.
James is silent as the room waits with bated breath for a response that never comes.
"Al," he says, "I'm fucked up."
His brother raises an eyebrow at him. "What gave it away? The incessant drinking, or the apparent desire to die for a cause you don't actually believe in?" he questions, sarcasm evident in his tone.
James flushes slightly. "I believe," he protests.
"Yeah, but not in what we've agreed to die for," Al shoots back, and James has to concede the point.
"Do you believe in it?" he asks his younger sibling.
Albus blinks at him. "Yes," he answers slowly. "I wouldn't be here if I didn't."
His question goes unspoken, but they both hear it—so why are you here, James, why are you willing to die for a freedom you don't believe in?
The fucking bastard went and died, and what about his promises, his speeches, his beliefs and his revolution?
If he's not there to keep fighting, then who will?
"James, man, I love you," Fred tells him with a slur.
James beams at him, equally as drunk. "Me too, Freddie."
"Nah, mate, I really fucking love you. You're my best friend and I'm glad you're here because you make me braver, Jamie. Peace, man, peace and love," Fred declares to the room at large, despite James' close proximity.
Teddy and Louis roll their eyes at each other. "Come on, Fred," Louis says, clapping his cousin on the back as he leads him downstairs. "Let's get you some rest."
The trumpets start and the sound of marching echoes through the streets and there's Teddy, standing tall with the flag at his feet.
"You scared?" James asks quietly, sober for once.
"Of what?" Teddy returns, and just like that, James feels a little better.
The meeting is going badly. Albus and Louis are studying maps of the streets surrounding them, on the lookout for any routes or strategies they may have missed. Scorpius keeps going on about some barmaid he saw outside the tavern and Rose keeps pointing her gun at him, and James knows that while Lorcan and Roxanne would usually be monitoring that situation, they're too busy ensuring that he and Teddy don't do something they may regret.
"What about this are you not understanding, James?" Teddy roars at him, swiping a map off the table in frustration.
"The part where you think this is a good idea!" James shoots back, glaring at the older man.
"It is the right thing to do!" Teddy returns. "That's why I think it is a good idea. I'm here because I believe in freedom and equality and the beauty of England. We all are. Except for you. Why are you here, James? You don't even believe in this revolution!"
"No, but I believe in you!" James informs him heatedly, standing up and throwing his bottle of rum onto the ground, not even registering the sound of glass smashing or the rum soaking into the wood. "I believe in you," he repeats in a quieter tone, before turning on his heel and storming out.
There are knives and guns and children dying around him, and James can't stand it.
He grabs a pistol from someone lying on the ground, and shoots at one of the redcoats. He only hits the man's arm, but a dagger flies to hit his heart.
James turns his head to see Rose, throwing daggers with a terrifying precision. "I thought you weren't sure what we were fighting for?" he calls out to her.
She jumps at a man and stabs his thigh, before stealing his pistol and shooting him in the head to put him out of his misery. "I'm fighting because I don't want to be the last one alive. It'd be pretty fucking lonely," she responds. She walks over to him. "I thought you didn't believe in anything?" she challenges.
"I can't just stand by and watch you idiots get yourselves killed without my help," he returns.
Then there's a shot and so much blood and he doesn't understand anything anymore.
"Save it, Ted."
Teddy cautiously approaches where James is sitting on the roof of the apartment complex. "No, James. I'm sorry," he apologises, sitting down next to the handsome pessimist.
For a while, James does nothing. Then, with a sigh, he turns to face Teddy. "I'm just scared, Ted," he says softly, looking down at Teddy's hands. "Everybody that I've ever cared about was in that room, getting ready to fight a battle that there's no chance we can survive. You know?" he says.
Teddy nods. "I know. I get it, why you're feeling like that, I really do. I just–" he hesitates, before speaking again, "the cause is worth my life."
And James understands, he really does, but that doesn't mean he likes it. "I don't want you to die," he tells Teddy, looking him straight in the eye as he says it.
"I don't–" Teddy begins to say, before he is cut off by James' lips on his.
James' hands get tangled in Teddy's hair, blood streaming in rivulets down his arms.
"VICTOIRE!" James screams, beckoning the medical expert of their ragtag team of revolutionaries.
She does not come.
He looks around frantically, hoping to find her, to call her over and—
oh god no please god no not her please god no—
There is Victoire, lying on the ground, her blonde hair plastered to the street, her body splayed unnaturally.
James doesn't know how long he sits by Teddy's side. He knows he screams with anguish each time his roving eyes locate a new body. Three, Rose's body where he left her, her hand still clutching her wound in death. Four five six, Louis and the Scamander twins lying side by side with bullet holes riddling each of their corpses. Seven, Lily in a pool of blood and eight, Fred with a knife in his gut. Nine, Albus, whose murderer apparently had the time and decency to close his eyes, though James suspects it was likely one of their rebels. Sure enough, ten, Roxanne lying in arms reach of Albus.
He's counted thirteen screams (little Lucy, Hugo and Molly—he can't tell what killed them, the bullets that pierced their bodies or the cannon blast that destroyed their faces) when he feels the cool barrel of a gun against his temple.
He closes his eyes, and prays.
It all starts with the military uprising of General Yates against the royal family and Parliament, proclaiming himself King.
Teddy says it's not right, that the people deserve their liberty.
James agrees, from his usual perch in the coffee shop.
That's until his father is shot as an example and his mother taken away. That's until he falls into drink and their world falls into outrage at the behaviour of this pretender King.
Teddy demands justice and liberty and James remembers the pain of losing his parents. He discourages Teddy as much as he can, yet still, the revolution has begun.
In later times, James would wonder if he could have saved the lives of many, and not just their beloved leader, had he been more successful in his pessimism.
He makes no plea for survival. He merely closes his eyes and says, "long live the people."
James waits for the end to come.
The barrel is removed from his head.
"Get out of here," a gruff voice says. "You're just a kid."
"We will find our truths in each other, our liberty in our beliefs and our equality in our comradeship," Teddy announces, and they all cheer, even James.
He doesn't know why they let him live.
James falls backwards when he sees Rose fall. She's cursing, wincing in pain. "James, go!" she gasps. "The others will need you."
He's loath to leave her, this mirror reflection of him, but he knows she is right, so he does. He sees Teddy aiming a musket at a redcoat, and runs to him.
He reaches him in time to catch him as he falls, following the sound of a gunshot ripping through the air.
Teddy gasps. "James," he breathes.
"I'm here," James says, "I've got you."
Teddy looks at him closely. "I'm so sorry," he says hoarsely. "This– this is madness. You should leave."
"I'm not going anywhere," James promises, pressing his hand onto Teddy's wound. "Not without you."
Teddy cracks a small smile. "Stubborn to the end," he says shakily.
James chuckles. "That's me," he says darkly, and he wonders if that's truer than he wants it to be. Maybe they'd have survived, been better prepared if he'd offered his services at the start instead of tearing their beliefs down, maybe—
A shudder from Teddy rips James from his rising hysteria. James looks at him with concern. "What is it?" he asks worriedly.
Teddy shakes his head at him. "Noth- nothing. I just- I just never said goodbye to my grandmother," he explains.
James' mind is suddenly full of Andromeda Tonks, with her sad eyes and dark hair and the look on her face that reminds James of his own: the one that says Teddy is her anchor, the eye in this storm of life.
"You'll say goodbye to her," he says fiercely, "you will." In his heart, he knows Teddy won't survive that long, and that breaks his heart.
Teddy must read it on his face, or maybe he's just more realistic than James realises, but he shakes his head again. "No," he croaks. "We both know I'm not getting out of this alive."
James looks Teddy in the eyes, and finally breaks, weeping into the older man's chest. When his chest stops rising and falling, James kisses his forehead as tenderly as he can.
James does not know why he lives and the others do not, but he has survived. He finds Dominique in the wreckage of one of the sideline taverns, a bullet in her shoulder and renewed desire to overthrow the oppressive regime of the self-proclaimed king in her heart.
Together, they escape.
James stands at the front, alongside Dominique, as the trumpets start and the sound of matching can be heard. A gunshot is fired.
He thinks of Rose and Al and Lily, of Victoire and his parents. He thinks of Dominique next to him, the soldier that let him go, the thousands of rebels standing with him. Most of all, he thinks about Teddy, and the revolution he started that James would finish once and for all.
"We will find our truths in each other, our liberty in our beliefs and our equality in our comradeship," he shouts to the rebels, remembering all those years ago when Teddy had said the same words. "Long live the people!" he cries, and as the rebels repeat that, he knows that Teddy would be proud.
The final bout of the revolution begins.
a/n: please do not favourite without reviewing. please review, i'd very much appreciate to know what you thought.