The Unforgivable Curses
disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, just Arabella. Hope you like it!
The Unforgivable Curses
The next two days passed by without any incidents, with the exception of Neville melting his sixth cauldron in Potions. Professor Snape gave Neville detention, and Neville returned from it in a state of nervous collapse.
'You know why Snape's in such a foul mood, don't you?' said Ron to Arabella and Harry as they watched Hermione teaching Neville a Scouring Charm to remove the toad guts from under his fingernails.
'Yeah,' said Harry. 'Moody. I reckon Snape's a bit scared of him, you know.'
'He should be,' said Arabella, snorted. 'Scary bloke.'
'Imagine if Moody turned Snape into a horned toad,' said Ron, his eyes misting over, 'and bounced him all around his dungeon…'
The Gryffindor fourth years were looking forward to Mad-Eye's first lesson so much that they arrived early on Thursday lunchtime and queued up outside his classroom before the bell had even rung. The only person missing was Hermione, who turned up just in time for the lesson.
'Been in the –'
'Library.' Harry finished her sentence for her. 'C'mon quick, or we won't get decent seats.'
They hurried to the front of the class. Harry and Ron taking the seats in front of Arabella and Hermione. Harry, Ron and Hermione took out their copies of The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, while Arabella left hers in her bag. They sat there waiting, the room was unusually quiet. Soon they heard Mad-Eye's clunking footsteps coming down the corridor, and he entered the room.
'You can put those away' he growled, stumping over to his desk and sitting down, 'those book. You won't need them.'
They returned the books to their bags. Mad-Eye took out a register and began to call out names, his normal eye moving down the list while his magical eye swiveled around, fixing upon each student as they answered.
'Right then, I've had a letter from Professor Lupin about this class. Seems you've had a pretty thorough grounding in tackling Dark creatures – you've covered boggarts, Red Caps, hinkypunks, grindylows, Kappas, and werewolves, is that right?'
There was a general murmur of assent.
'But you're behind – very behind – on dealing with curses,' said Mad-Eye. 'So I'm here to bring you up to scratch on what wizards can do to each other. I've got one year to teach you how to deal with Dark –'
'What, aren't you staying?' Ron blustered out.
Mad-Eye's magical ye spun around and stared at Ron, who looked extremely anxious. After a moment, Mad-Eye smiled. Ron looked deeply relieved.
'You'll be Arthur Weasley's son, eh?' Mad-Eye said. 'Your father got me out of a very tight corner a few days ago…Yeah, I'm staying just the one year. Special favor to Dumbledore…One year, and then back to my quiet retirement.'
He gave a harsh laugh, and then clapped his gnarled hands together.
'So - straight into it. Curses. They come in many strengths and forms. Now, according to the Ministry of Magic, I'm supposed to teach you countercurses and leave it at that. I'm not supposed to show you what illegal Dark curses look like until you're in the sixth year. You're not supposed to be old enough to deal with it till then. But Professor Dumbledore's got a higher opinion of your nerves, he reckons you can cope, and I say, the sooner you know what you're up against, the better. How are you supposed to defend yourself against something you've never seen? A wizard who's about to put an illegal curse on you isn't going to tell you what he's about to do. He's not going to do it nice and polite to your face. You need to be prepared. You need to be alert and watchful. You need to put that away, Miss Brown, when I'm talking.'
Lavender jumped and blushed. She had been showing her complete horoscope under the desk.
'So…do any of you know which curses are most heavily punished by wizarding law?'
Several hands went up into the air, including, Arabella's, Ron's and Hermione's. Mad-Eye pointed at Ron, though his magical eye was fixed on Lavender.
'Er,' said Ron tentatively, 'my dad told me about one…Is it called the Imperius Curse, or something?'
'Ah, yes,' said Mad-Eye appreciatively. 'Your father would know that one. Gave the Ministry a lot of trouble at one time, the Imperius Curse.'
Mad-Eye got heavily to his mismatched feet, opened his desk drawer, and took out a glass jar. Three large black spiders were scuttling around inside it. Mad-Eye reached into the jar, caught one of the spiders, and held it in the palm of his hand so that they could all see it. He then pointed his wand at it and muttered, 'Imperio!'
The spider leapt from Mad-Eye's hand on a fine thread of silk and began to swing backward and forward as though on a trapeze. It stretched out its legs rigidly, then did a back flip, breaking the thread and landing on the desk, where it began to cartwheel in circles. Mad-Eye jerked his wand, and the spider rose onto two of its hind legs and went into what was unmistakably a tap dance.
Everyone was laughing – everyone except for Mad-Eye and Arabella, who was frowning with her arms crossed.
'Think it's funny, do you?' he growled. 'You'd like it, would you, if I did it to you?'
The laughter died away almost instantly.
'Total control,' said Mad-Eye quietly as the spider balled itself up and began to roll over and over. 'I could make it jump out of the window, drown itself, throw itself down one of your throats…'
Ron gave an involuntary shudder.
'Years back, there were a lot of witches and wizards being controlled by the Imperius Curse,' said Mad-Eye, and Arabella knew exactly that he was talking about the days where Voldemort had been powerful, but there were days, even years, after the war that were just as bad. 'Some job for the Ministry, trying to sort out who was being forced to act, and who was acting on their own free will.
'The Imperius Curse can be fought, and I'll be teaching you how, but it takes real strength of character, and not everyone's got it. Better avoid being his with it of you can. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!' he barked, and everyone jumped, except for Arabella, who was used to this.
Mad-Eye picked up the somersaulting spider and threw it back into the jar.
'Anyone else know on?' Another illegal curse?'
Arabella's and Hermione's hands went in the air and so was Neville's, to Arabella's slight surprise. Even Neville looked surprised at his own daring.
Yes?' said Mad-Eye, his magical eye rolling right over to fix on Neville.
'There's one - the Cruciatus Curse,' said Neville in a small but distinct voice.
Mad-Eye was looking very intently at Neville, this time with both eyes. Arabella started to rub both her arms; they started to sting a bit.
'Your name's Longbottom?' he said, his magical eye swooping down to check the register again. Neville nodded nervously, but Mad-Eye said nothing further. Turning back to the class at large, he reached into the jar for the next spider and placed it upon the desktop, where it remained motionless, apparently too scared to move.
'The Cruciatus Curse,' said Moody. 'Needs to be a bit bigger for you to get the idea,' he said, pointing his wand at the spider. 'Engorgio!'
The spider swelled. It was now larger than a tarantula. Abandoning all pretense, Ron pushed his chair backward, as far away from Moody's desk as possible. Mad-Eye raised his wand again, pointed it at the spider, and muttered, 'Crucio!'
At once, the spider's legs bent it upon it body, it rolled over and began to twitch horribly, rocking from side to side. Everybody else saw a spider being tortured, all Arabella saw was her mother, lying on the floor, sweating, screaming, coming undone by four Death Eaters. She had to stop it; she had to do something, whether it's for the spider or her mother, or even Neville. She had to - 'STOP!'
Everyone looked at her. Arabella was sweating, and she saw some blood on her sleeve cuffs. She turned around to Neville. His hands were clenched upon the desk in front of him, his knuckles white, his eyes wide and horrified. Mad-Eye raised his wand. The spider's legs relaxed, but it continued to twitch.
'Reducio,' Mad-Eye muttered, and the spider shrunk back to its proper size. He put it back into the jar.
'Pain,' said Mad-Eye softly. 'You don't need thumbscrews or knives to torture someone if you can perform the Cruciatus Curse… There aren't many people who could survive it, some go insane, out of their minds, some are killed after this...'
He was staring intently at Arabella with both of his eyes. Arabella was glaring at him with such hatred that she didn't know she could manifest for anybody in the world.
'That one was very popular once too,' said Mad-Eye. 'Right… anyone know any others?'
Arabella looked around. From the looks on everyone's faces, they were all wondering what was going to happen to the last spider. Nobody raised their hand, not even Hermione raised her hand. She looked like she wanted to get as far away from this class as possible.
Mad-Eye put his hand into the glass jar and walked to Arabella's desk and placed the spider in front of her.
'The last spell,' said Mad-Eye.
Arabella didn't say anything, she didn't move. She just kept staring at the spider.
'Black,' Mad-Eye growled.
Arabella mumbled something under her breath, but nobody heard her.
'What was that?' said Mad-Eye.
'Avada Kedavra!' shouted Arabella, shaking slightly and thoroughly pissed off.
Several people jumped and looked uneasily around her, including Hermione.
'Ah,' said Mad-Eye, a slight smile twisting his mouth. 'Yes, the last and worst. Avada Kedavra… the Killing Curse.'
Mad-Eye raised his wand, and Arabella was felt something explode in the bottom of her stomach. She wanted to look away, there was no point in seeing this, but she couldn't look away, her eyes didn't move at all.
'Avada Kedavra!' Mad-Eye roared.
There was a flash of green light and a rushing sound – instantaneously the spider rolled over onto its back, dead. Several students stifled cries. Mad-Eye swept the dead spider off Arabella's desk onto the floor.
'Not nice,' he said calmly, walking back to the front of the class. 'Not pleasant. And there's no countercurse. There's no blocking it. Only one know person has ever survived it, and he's sitting right in front of me.'
Mad-Eye was looking at Harry with both of his eyes. Everyone was looking at Harry.
Arabella wasn't paying attention; she kept staring at the dead spider on the ground. She felt pathetic that she couldn't stop a spider from death. If only she said something, got some help, done anything. Over the years, she kept picturing her mother's death over and over again. Everything Mad-Eye showed them was nothing new for her. The pain, the green light, lifeless bodies… Sometimes she would just picture Bellatrix Lestrange, giddy with excitement that a half-blood would soon leave this world. Even after all these years, everything was still clear in her head, like it happened yesterday.
Once in a while she would daydream about getting payback. She remembers their faces, the four Death Eaters. Bellatrix Lestrange, Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr. When she was younger, she would say those names, like a prayer or a promise, then she would say, 'And death will find you.' She didn't particularly care about the others, but she wanted Bellatrix. Arabella didn't care who killed the two Lestrange brothers or Crouch Jr. or what would happen to them in the end, but Bellatrix was hers. Bellatrix didn't deserve Azkaban; it was child's play for the likes of her. No, Bellatrix Lestrange deserved death, no matter what, she deserved to die. Not just because of what she did to Arabella, but what she did to everybody else, including Neville.
Mad-Eye was speaking again. With a massive effort, Arabella pulled herself back to the present and listened to what Mad-Eye was saying.
'Avada Kedavra's a curse that needs a powerful bit of magic behind it- you could all get your wands out now and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I'd get so much as a nosebleed. But that doesn't matter. I'm not here to teach you how to do it.
'Now, if there's no countercurse, why am I showing you? Because you've got to know. You've got to appreciate what the worst is. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're facing it. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!' he roared, and the whole class jumped again.
'Now…those three curses - Avada Kedavra, Imperius, and Cruciatus - are known as the Unforgivable Curses. The use of any one of them on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban. That's what you're up against. That's what I've got to teach you to fight. You need preparing. You need arming. But most of all, you need to practice constant, never-ceasing vigilance. Get out your quills…copy this down…'
They spent the rest of the lesson taking notes on each of the Unforgivable Curses. No one spoke until the bell rang - but when Moody had dismissed them and they had left the classroom, a torrent of talk burst forth. Most people were discussing the curses in awed voices –
'Did you see it twitch?'
'- and when he killed it – just like that!'
They were talking about the lesson like it was some spectacular show, but Arabella wanted to yell at them, wring their necks and tell them the harsh truth of it all.
'Hurry up,' said Hermione to Arabella, Harry and Ron.
'Not the ruddy library again?' said Ron.
'No,' said Hermione curtly, pointing up a side passage. 'Neville.'
Neville was standing alone, halfway up the passage, staring at the stone wall opposite him with the same horrified, wide-eyed look he had worn when Moody had demonstrated the Cruciatus Curse.
'Neville?' Hermione said gently.
Neville looked around.
'Oh hello,' he said, his voice much higher than usual. 'Interesting lesson, wasn't it? I wonder what's for dinner, I'm - I'm starving, aren't you?'
'Neville, are you all right?' said Hermione.
'Oh yes, I'm fine,' Neville gabbled in the same unnaturally high voice. 'Very interesting dinner - I mean lesson - what's for eating?'
Ron gave Arabella and Harry a startled look.
'Neville, what -?'
But a clunking noise sounded behind them, and they turned to see Mad-Eye limping towards them. All five of them fell silent, watching his anxiously.
'It's all right, sonny,' he said to Neville. 'Why don't you come up to my office? Come on… we can have a cup of tea…'
Neville looked even more frightened at the prospect of tea with Mad-Eye. He neither moved nor spoke. Mad-Eye turned his magical eye upon Harry.
'You all right, are you, Potter?'
'Yes,' said Harry, almost definitely.
Mad-Eye turned to Arabella, 'You okay there, Black?'
Arabella didn't say anything back to him. There were so many things she wanted to tell him, but none of them were appropriate in front of teachers.
'They've got to know,' said Mad-Eye, coming closer to Arabella. 'It seems harsh, maybe, but they've got to know. No point pretending… well… come on, Longbottom, I've got some books that might interest you.'
Neville looked pleadingly at Arabella, Harry, Ron and Hermione, but they didn't say anything, so Neville had no choice but to following Mad-Eye for some tea.
'What was that about?' said Ron, watching Neville and Moody turn the corner.
'I don't know,' said Hermione, looking pensive.
'Some lesson, though, eh?' said Ron to Arabella and Harry as they set off for the Great Hall. 'Fred and George were right, weren't they? He really knows his stuff, Moody, doesn't he? When he did Avada Kedavra, the way that spider just died, just snuffed it right -'
But Ron fell suddenly silent at the looks on their faces and didn't speak again until they reached the Great Hall, when he said he supposed they had better make a start on Professor Trelawney's predictions tonight, since they would take hours.
Hermione did not join in with Arabella, Harry and Ron's conversation during dinner, but ate furiously fast and then left for the library again. Arabella, Harry and Ron walked back to the Gryffindor Tower, and Harry raised the subject of the Unforgivable Curses.
'Wouldn't Moody and Dumbledore be in trouble with the Ministry if they knew we'd seen the curses?' Harry asked as they approached the Fat Lady.
'Yeah, probably,' said Ron. 'But Dumbledore's always done things his way, hasn't he, and Moody's been getting in trouble for years, I reckon. Attacks first and asks questions later - look at his dustbins. Balderdash.'
The Fat Lady swung forward to reveal the entrance hole, and they climbed into the Gryffindor common room, which was crowded and noisy.
'Shall we get our Divination stuff, then?' said Harry.
'I s'pose,' Ron groaned.
Harry and Ron went up to their dormitory as Arabella found a table to work on their predictions for the coming month. They both came back and the three of them set off to work. An hour later, they had made very little progress and Arabella's brain was blanking out.
'I have no idea what this is supposed to mean,' said Arabella, looking down at her parchment.
'You know,' said Ron, whose hair was on end because of all the times he had run his fingers through it in frustration, 'I think it's back to the old Divination standby.'
'What - make it up?' said Harry.
'Yeah,' said Ron, sweeping the jumble of scrawled notes off the table, dipping his pen into some ink, and starting to write.
'Next Monday,' he said as he scribbled, 'I am likely to develop a cough, owing to the unlucky conjunction of Mars and Jupiter.' He looked up at Arabella and Harry. 'You know her - just put in loads of misery, she'll lap it up.'
'Right,' said Harry, crumpling up his first attempt and lobbing it over the heads of a group of chattering first years into the fire. 'Okay…on Monday, I will be in danger of- er - burns.'
'I'll meet a new dangerous person that I will think of as my friend, because of… Venus and Mar clashing,' said Arabella, uncertainty scribbling it on her parchment.
'Okay,' said Ron, 'on Tuesady, I'll… erm…'
'Lose a treasured possession,' said Harry, who was flickering through Unfogging the Future for ideas.
'Good one,' said Ron, copying it down. 'Because of…erm…Mercury. Why don't you get stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend?'
'Yeah…cool…' said Harry, scribbling it down, 'because…Venus is in the twelfth house.'
'I'll be caught between those two friends, trying to pick sides,' said Arabella.
'And on Wednesday, I think I'll come off worst in a fight,' said Ron.
'Aaah, I was going to have a fight. Okay, I'll lose a bet,' said Harry.
'Yeah, you can bet that Ron was going to win,' said Arabella.
'And you could be make a really bad decision that would jeopardise your friendship with us,' said Harry.
They continued to make up predictions for another hour, while the common room around them slowly emptied as people went up to bed. Arabella was going to meet somebody new that she trusted, but was completely evil, caught between two friends, make a really bad decision that could ruin her friendship with them, get one of the biggest shocks of her life, break her ankle and her arm, and get kidnapped.
Staring around the room, trying to think of some misfortune that they didn't use yet, Arabella saw Fred and George sitting together against the opposite wall, heads together, quills out, poring over a single parchment. It was most unusual to see Fred and George hidden in a corner of the room, working silently and looked up at her. Arabella smiled and quickly returned to her predictions, she didn't want them to think she was eavesdropping.
Shortly after, Fred and George rolled up their parchments, and said goodnight. They had been gone ten minutes or so when the portrait hole opened and Hermione climbed into the common room carrying a bunch of parchment in one hand and a box whose contents rattled as she walked in the other.
'Hello,' she said, 'I've just finished!'
'So have I!' said Ron triumphantly, throwing down his quill.
Hermione sat down, laid the things she was carrying in an empty armchair, and pulled Ron's predictions toward her.
'Not going to have a very good month, are you?' she said sardonically as Crookshanks curled up in her lap.
'Ah well, at least I'm forewarned,' Ron yawned.
'You seem to be drowning twice,' said Hermione.
'Oh am I?' said Ron, peering down at his predictions. 'I'd better change one of them to getting trampled by a rampaging hippogriff.'
'Don't you think it's a bit obvious you've made these up?' said Hermione.
'How dare you!' said Ron, in mock outrage. 'We've been working like house-elves here!'
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
'It's just an expression,' said Ron hastily.
Harry laid down their quills too.
'What's in the box?' said Harry, pointing at it.
'Funny you should ask,' said Hermione, with a nasty look at Ron. She took off the lid and showed them the contents. Inside were about fifty badges, all of different colors, but all bearing the same letters: S.P.E.W.
'Spew?' said Harry, picking up a badge and looking at it. 'What's this about?'
'Not spew,' said Hermione impatiently. 'It's S-P-E-W. Stands for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.'
'Never heard of it,' said Ron.
'Well, of course you haven't,' said Hermione briskly, 'I've only just started it.'
'Yeah?' said Ron in mild surprise. 'How many members have you got?'
'Well - if you three join - four,' said Hermione.
'And what makes you think we're going to go walking around the school with badges saying 'spew' on them?' said Arabella, raising her right eyebrow.
'S-P-E-W!' said Hermione hotly. 'I was going to put Stop the Outrageous Abuse of Our Fellow Magical Creatures and Campaign for a Change in Their Legal Status - but it wouldn't fit. So that's the heading of our manifesto.'
She brandished the bundle of parchment at them.
'I've been researching it thoroughly in the library. Elf enslavement goes back centuries. I can't believe no one's done anything about it before now.'
'Hermione - open your ears,' said Ron loudly. 'They. Like. It. They like being enslaved!'
'Our short-term aims,' said Hermione, speaking even more loudly than Ron, and acting as though she hadn't heard a word, 'are to secure house-elves fair wages and working conditions. Our long-term aims include changing the law about nonwand use, and trying to get an elf into the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, because they're shockingly underrepresented.'
'And how do we do all this?' Harry asked.
'We start by recruiting members,' said Hermione happily. 'I thought two Sickles to join - that buys a badge - and the proceeds can fund our leaflet campaign. You're treasurer, Ron - I've got you a collecting tin upstairs - and Harry, you're secretary, so you might want to write down everything I'm saying now, as a record of our first meeting. Arabella, you'll be the recruiter and my VP.'
There was a pause in which Hermione beamed at them. Arabella sat, torn between exasperation at Hermione and amusement at Ron's face. It was a nice idea, but Hermione didn't understand house-elves yet. The silence was broken by a soft tap, tap on the window. Arabella and Harry looked across the empty common room and saw an owl on the windowsill.
'Hedwig!' shouted Harry, and he launched himself out of his chai and across the room to pull open the window.
Hedwig flew inside, soared across the room, and landed in the table on top of Harry's prediction.
'About time!' said Harry, hurrying after her.
'She's got two letters!' said Ron excitedly, pointing at the two pieces of parchment tied to Hedwig's lef.
Harry hastily untied them and hand one to Arabella.
'What does it say?' said Hermione breathlessly.
Harry opened his first. It was very short and looked like it was written in a great hurry.
I'm flying north immediately. This news about your scar is the latest in a series of strange rumors that have reached me here. If it hurts again, go straight to Dumbledore - they're saying he's got Mad-Eye out of retirement, which means he's reading the signs, even if no one else is. I'll be in touch soon. My best to Arabella, Ron and Hermione. Keep your eyes open, Harry.
Harry looked up to Arabella, Ron and Hermione, who stared back at him.
'He's flying north?' Hermione whispered. 'He's coming back?'
'Dumbledore's reading what signs?' said Ron, looking perplexed. 'Harry - what's up?'
For Harry had just hit himself in the forehead with his fist, jolting Hedwig out of his lap.
'I shouldn't've told him!' Harry said furiously.
'What the hell are you talking about?' said Arabella, surprised.
'It's made him think he's got to come back!' said Harry, now slamming his fist on the table so that Hedwig landed on the back of Ron's chair, hooting indignantly. 'Coming back, because he thinks I'm in trouble! And there's nothing wrong with me! And I haven't got anything for you,' Harry snapped at Hedwig, who was clicking her beak expectantly, 'you'll have to go up to the Owlery if you want food.'
Hedwig gave him an extremely offended look and took off for the open window, cuffing him around the head with her outstretched wing as she went.
'Harry,' Hermione began, in a appeasing sort of voice.
'I'm going to bed,' said Harry shortly. 'See you in the morning.'
Harry stomped off to his dormitory, leaving the three of them in silence. Arabella opened her letter wordlessly and read it quietly.
As you have probably read from Harry's letter I'm flying north. Don't worry about me, I'm going to stay hidden. Watch out for Harry, his scar hurting is a strange sign. If it happens again, take him straight to Dumbledore. Hope you got the dress, Moony managed to find it somewhere. I'll be in touch soon. Give my best to Ron and Hermione. I miss you.
Ron and Hermione went up to their dormitory, leaving Arabella with her thoughts.
She wanted to write back to him, but didn't know what to say or ask. It was much easier when she was face to face with him. Sirius's easy smile and happy eyes made her feel at ease, but this was different. She wanted to tell him about the lesson they just had, and about the dream she had a couple days ago. She would have told Remus, but she didn't know how to put this all into a letter. It was only know that she noticed that she was the only person left in the common room with the fire soon burning out.
Thank you for reading!