Chapter 27: People Fall Apart
A feast was to be held in an hour or so. It was the day after the funeral and the sky was still dark and cloudy.
Dumbledore had some messages to give the school before end of year exams. I didn’t understand how they could go ahead but as far as I had heard, they were going to. Except for Defence Against the Dark Arts, of course.
So now, instead of a sorrow-filled atmosphere, the Common Room was bustling as people crammed information for exams into their heads. Across the room, a second year boy had one elbow on either side of a large book. His head was in his hands and he appeared to be reading intently. His foot jiggled his leg up and down as he concentrated. He shut the book and looked up and then looked down at the cover of the book resting his forehead on his hands again. His fingers scrunched up his brown hair as he muttered something under his breath and then shook his head in frustration. He opened the book again.
I was sitting on one of the couches in the Common Room studying for Herbology. Avery was beside me but Regina and Mulciber had gone for a walk out in the grounds. Avery leant over and asked me a question.
‘Sorry, what was that?’ I asked him, unsure what he had said.
He looked embarrassed. ‘Can you help me?’
‘Oh! Sure! Absolutely!’
Avery wasn’t great at Herbology. He was great at everything else though.
I bent over his copy of his text book and looked at where he was pointing. His finger was resting on a picture of Devil’s Snare.
‘What is it you want to know?’ I asked him.
‘How do you kill it? That’s the one thing I can never remember!’
‘Oh that’s the easy part!’ I exclaimed. I was relieved that it was such an easy question to answer and that I could help him out. ‘All you have to do is remember the rhyme that Professor Sprout told us! Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare, is deadly fun but will sulk in the sun.’
‘Yes, or flames. Basically anything to do with heat or light.’
‘Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare, is deadly fun but will sulk in the sun,’ Avery repeated.
‘Yes! You got it!’
We continued to study.
Regina and Infirmos returned from their walk. They emerged through the entrance and looked around until they spotted us among the crowd of people in the Common Room.
They came over to us. Regina’s hair was out for once. It was long and shiny, flowing around her shoulders in a pretty, brown curtain. Her side fringe fell into her light green eyes that accented her deeply tanned skin.
Mulciber’s hair was almost the same colour though a little darker. His skin was mid-tone at the moment because he hadn’t had much of a chance to tan this summer having been locked up in the Common Room for a few weeks. His eyes were sharp and never missed a thing, a cool grey-blue.
It was the first time since I first met them that I had really noted what they looked like. Up until now, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell people what they looked like.
I turned to Avery. His blonde hair was short and spiky. He had cold, hard blue eyes and sharp features.
I realised I didn’t know much about them, any of them. I didn’t know their parents’ names or professions. I didn’t know anything about their past. It was strange. We were all misfits and we’d found each other.
Yet, my best friend of all wasn’t a misfit. She had plenty of friends and was the nicest person on the planet. Heck she was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. But she was beautiful in a different way than Regina.
Lily’s eyes were a dark, emerald green filled, not with sarcasm, but with kindness and love. Her hair was just as long and shiny but a deep red. Her nose and eyebrows were petit and pretty and the way she held her mouth showed innocence and general happiness and confidence with who she was. This was something that Regina lacked immensely.
I knew everything about Lily and her parents and her life. But I knew nothing about everyone else. Lily was the only one I could have told people what she looked like or what her favourite colour was or her favourite animal or… anything really. She was the only one I really knew.
And that’s when I decided that she would be the one I would tell about Flamel’s Code. She was the one I knew and trusted. I was suddenly enveloped in a need to see her. I felt like I was surrounded by people I couldn’t trust. Fear gripped my chest and I couldn’t breathe. I needed to get out of here.
I was outside my body watching my surroundings. I felt strangely light and numb and I could hear everything. No sound escaped my ears, not the clatters of the wizard chess pieces splintering across the board, not the muffled, quiet conversation happening at the other end of the rectangular room; I could hear every word of every conversation. Everything I heard turned itself into screams from the battle. I slammed my hands over my ears and crouched down over my knees and shook my head.
‘Are you alright, Snape?’
I snapped my book shut hurriedly and stood up.
‘Where are you going?’ Regina called.
‘Um… up to the dormitories I suppose,’ I said. My heart pumped frantically and my hands started to shake.
‘But the feast is about to start! We should head down!’
Blood gargled over the floor as Regina’s throat was slit by Bellatrix Lestrange who was standing behind her, staring at me with malice. I screamed a silent scream of shock and pain.
I shook my head and I saw Regina, still alive and with her throat intact, staring at me with a confused expression on her face.
I shut my mouth. ‘Uhh… Alright… I’ll just… put my books away!’
I turned and dashed up the stairs to our dormitory but not before I heard Regina exclaim sarcastically, ‘What’s wrong with him?’
‘Geen, you know exactly what’s wrong with him,’ Avery said.
I rushed into the dormitory and slammed the door, feeling confused by my actions and confused by what they had said. I was angry and for some reason, I felt scared of them.
This was what you called traumatic stress. I’d heard about it. I took a deep, whole breath and composed myself. I was being stupid. The Battle was behind me now. I needed to get over it.
Think of Lily… think of Lily, think of Lily!
I stood up a little straighter and took some long, slow breaths.
I wiped some sweat from the top of my lip and my chin and headed out of the dormitory and down the stairs to the Common Room.
My friends were gone.
I frowned at the empty Common Room. I’d obviously been up in the dorm longer than I thought.
Tugging my collar away from my neck uncomfortably I started out of the Common Room and through the castle to the Great Hall where chatter met my ears as I stood in the large, lit door way. This time, no faces turned to look at me but the students just continued with their conversations. Some eyes flickered toward where I stood but flew away quickly to rest on another place in the room.
I made the slow, awkward walk to the Slytherin table. I realised I couldn’t have been very late as I eyed the empty tables. There were no trays of food.
I found Avery and Mulciber then flicked my eyes across the table and found Regina. I squeezed in next to her and re-adjusted my position so that I wasn’t sitting on her robes and restricting her movement.
‘Hi!’ They all said together.
‘Hi. What is everyone talking about?’
‘Oh? Oh, we were just chatting about how Dumbledore could have kept Hogwarts open like he did. It must have been hard,’ Avery told me.
‘Yeah i’ would’a bin’ ‘ard,’ Regina chewed her gum as she spoke. We barely understood her and shared a knowing gaze, burst out laughing and earned a confused but withering look from Regina.
‘What? What’s so funny?”
The only response she got was more laughter. This was the happiest I had felt in weeks. I was right. I was just being stupid. I could trust them. They were my friends.
‘Good Evening!’ Dumbledore’s booming voice rang out through the hall. The hall gradually grew silent as people stopped their conversations hurriedly. ‘Thank you and welcome to what I am sure will be a fantastic feast! Before I let you engross yourself in these wonderful meals, I have a few messages for the school.’
People began to whisper, probably placing last minute bets on what the messages could be.
The hall fell silent again.
‘As a result of recent events, and as an end of term treat, all end of year exams have been cancelled!’
The hall erupted in yells and screams of exhilaration. People stood up and hugged each other, jumping up and down in excitement.
Dumbledore raised his hands in an expression of surrender and stepped back from the owl podium, a wide smile plastered on his face. He looked younger somehow – more invigorated.
I stood up and grabbed Regina’s hands. We jumped up and down grinning wildly at each other. We turned away and leant over the table to pat Avery and Mulciber on the back and they did the same to us.
Then, all of a sudden, the screams of excitement dimmed. People jumping around became blurry and I felt light headed. Pain stabbed my back and my legs and I collapsed back onto the seat. My friends kept jumping around, oblivious to my state. I slumped down, almost sliding under the table.
Regina looked over at where I should be and noticed I wasn’t there. She looked down and her red cheeks, flushed with happiness, paled as she saw me. Her face was worried and she looked extremely sick. Then she screamed. A loud, piercing scream as the person next to her dropped, blood gargling over the floor. She jumped aside, watching the masked people who stood behind all of the students in the Great Hall and one by one, the children dropped. The Death Eaters’ masks didn’t cover their mouths so you could watch them grin maliciously as blood spilled over the floor.
‘Snape! Are you alright?’ Avery and Mulciber were on my side of the table now. They helped me sit up and I rubbed my head, and then nodded once in answer to their question. I glanced around. People were still jumping and clapping in delight.
‘What just happened?’ I asked, I sounded groggy and my tongue was numb.
‘You just collapsed like you were having a fit or something!’ Infirmos’ dark eyes were scared.
‘You sort of… what Mulciber said,’ Avery tried to elaborate but failed. The hall was falling silent so Avery and Infirmos needed to return to their seats.
They looked at me with a strange expression, was it worry? And maybe a touch of fear? ‘Are you sure you’re alright?’
‘I’m fine!’ I insisted, waving off Regina’s helping hand.
The boys ran off around the table and appeared on the other side. They swung their legs over the bench just as Dumbledore began to speak again. I smiled at them weakly.
I didn’t take notice of the rest of the messages. I was trying to figure out a way to stop suffering through the battle. I had dreamt about it last night too. Maybe I needed counselling.
Food appeared out of thin air on golden platters. The table exploded with hands as people struggled and pushed to grab their favourites before it was all gone. I didn’t join in though. Strangely, I didn’t feel hungry. My stomach grumbled in response. It was right. I was hungry. But I wasn’t going to eat anything for fear of throwing up. What if the chicken legs turned into miniature Death Eaters who attacked me with tiny wands? What if the soup became blood as I ate it? What if the pasta turned into knives and slit my throat? What if, what if, what if? It wasn’t worth the risk. I didn’t know what my damaged mind was capable of creating.