All in the Family
Chapter 157: Sectumsempra
They all sat up sopping wet, clothes clinging to them in a mutually unattractive way. It was eerily familiar to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, dimly lit with the candles splashed out, the stalls were destroyed, there was a leaking tap and several broken mirrors, but they all screamed murder as their eyes fell not on the ghost, but blood pooling in rivulets amongst them.
Remus startled so hard it looked like he was trying to climb the walls, landing in a toilet and getting his shoes any kind of soiled without a drop of care as his chest heaved in disgust for the red still dripping from his form.
James' voice snapped a command they all adhered to from somewhere just out of sight, "roll call, now!"
The other six managed some kind of response back amongst their worry, he stuttered something that was a passable attempt as his nails dug into the stone walls, fighting back the urge to strip as the maroon sweater hung off him with a squelch and reeked of rust. Naked was worse though, he kept chanting in his head, unclothed meant he'd wake up and really been the one to do it.
Evans' voice was just on the edge of a scream as she whispered what they were all thinking, "is, is it Harry's?"
He heard the desperation in Prongs's voice as he summoned the book to him and read the chapter title, but that didn't give much.
"Is that a spell, or an item?" Longbottom asked with concern, but it was hard to concentrate on, the growing noise of them all moving about in the filmy substance.
"Sounds like a curse," Regulus said with far too much confidence for his liking. "Sectum means to-"
"Moony? Where you at?" Sirius clearly hadn't been listening, and it only just occurred to him the others voices sounded semi-close together while he still hadn't moved.
"I'm fine!" The crack in his voice was laughable and he knew it, but he was not getting back in that pool of blood, he'd let mold grow between his toes for his wet shoes first. "Keep going James!"
There was a horrible sloshing noise and he squeezed his eyes shut rather than watch it all wave across the floor. He felt more than saw Sirius and James now standing in the stall door just watching him and cared nothing if they laughed at him, they could tell all the stupid jokes they like so long as it got them out of here faster!
"Ripped his pants." His eyes snapped back open to see James turning back to the book with such a pale face, it could have been his life being drained out as he lied for him. "Nobody else needs to see that indecent exposure, sorry mate," and he started reading at top speed to find the fate of his son as well as get him the hell out of here.
Sirius stayed exactly where he was, but he somehow looked worse than he felt now as Padfoot watched him. With one last cautious look at James, he took a slow step in, kicking the water around as little as possible for Remus's every heaving breath and hands held up in surrender like he was fixing to talk someone down from leaping off the castle.
He wanted desperately to hold him and thank him every way he knew how for Padfoot's blatant consideration, but even his black hair was dripping a slightly darker tinge than it should. He was starting to shiver from revulsion and cold still being ankle deep in the toilet, and as he glanced down he finally retched to see a miniature puddle of their surroundings. Little pink tear droplets were smearing the surface of the now identifiably clean water.
Prongs hadn't managed to get too far, catching Ron and Hermione up to speed while all the breakups were announced, but he stopped in surprise to hear the spell that Remus only just understood under his pounding head, "siccitas."
Evans' charms were as up to scratch as ever, the large puddle of water made a suctioning noise like someone had finally found a drain, and then it simply vanished into the marble ground as if it had never been there, blood and all.
A fact far more prudent than any lingering shame for what he'd be revealing as he jumped out with a splash, still shaking head to toe in disgust and trailing water with him but finally the ringing noise died in his ear he hadn't even realized was there. The air still held a tinge of it, but no worse than if some student had cut themselves in potions, something he'd been ignoring for years.
He could hear her teaching the others a quick charm to dry their clothes, but Sirius was already doing it for him, then himself, before roughly grabbing his elbow and sitting him on the toilet before quickly letting go, raising his hands in surrender again. Padfoot's sporadic actions finally got a laugh out of him as he watched with nothing short of love. "Thanks," he whispered, he would definitely find a proper way to thank him later.
Sirius looked so relieved it was almost sad, when had he ever turned away anything Padfoot offered him, let alone his help? Merlin, Peter's refusal to be in the same room as him lately must be getting to him worse than he realized if he was actually going to start being insecure about anything.
"For helping you sit on a toilet?" He grinned, "anytime Moony!" Then he said extra loudly, "repairo," and gave him such an over the top wink he started full blown laughing.
"You two are insane," James muttered fondly as he tried to keep going. "I really hope you keep those spirits up when we find out what happened!"
The chapter wasn't going that bad at all actually, they all got a laugh at Ron and Harry's poor charm attempts, yet more smattering of laughter for Harry's internal back and forth of Ron vs Ginny, and even delight at Katie's return. He couldn't help but sigh and tuned out a bit when Katie had no new to give, still commiserating with Harry a bit over the debacle of what he couldn't have.
Longbottom and Evans had a good rousing conversation going for a time over Felix Felicis and its many properties, she sounded so happy he wouldn't be surprised to see her floating as she found someone other than Snape to talk potions with again. Both stopped without delay when the name of the chapter cropped up in Harry's potion book, causing James to look up in concern and even Sirius to poke his head back out of the stall, finally dragging his eyes off of him.
He was so curious as well if they'd realized something, he grabbed the back of Sirius' sweater and pulled himself upright, the nausea still lingering but ignorable as he got a good look at how uneasy all four of them suddenly were, only Peter seemed just as confused as they did for once. He was so distracted he left his hand in place on Sirius' back without really caring if James noticed right next to them.
"What?" James demanded shrewdly, still watching Evans intently like he could pry the answer right from her skull if he stared long enough, before correcting himself again and trying to look at the others, but none seemed willing to give away. "What did we miss?"
Nobody answered, but the other three all flickered their eyes guiltily to Lily and away, who was running her hand through her hair that was still slightly damp at the fringes and not looking at anybody.
"Regulus," Sirius spoke slowly and distinctly. "What does sectumsempra mean?" Apparently he had been listening before.
He did that weird thing where he seemed to be biting the inside of his mouth like that would help with anything and didn't look at Sirius.
Wormtail watched him do that, looked back at Frank and Alice who were now very obviously not watching Evans, to the redhead herself who looked like she needed to borrow his toilet more than he did with a dawning look of horror. "It's Snape's?" Peter yelped in disgust.
James dropped the book and kicked it away from him on pure impulse as if it were the one on trial here. Sirius looked at Lily Evans with something close to betrayal for holding out on them with that information, and he fisted his hand tighter on his sweater already in fear for whatever war was about to break out.
She did not deny it, as good as an admission of guilt. Regulus finally looked at his brother and whispered, "always cut, that's what it would translate to."
They hadn't thought much about the Half-Blood Prince since its entrance, despite some frequent mentions the joke had worn off fast enough of them even caring about such a thing, they just didn't like Potions class enough even to scour the school for such a cheat sheet. The idea that Harry had just been casually using a Death Eater's book all along though and they'd been in the dark felt like a slap in the face.
She hadn't been lording over them her secret though, had in fact been going out of her way to do the exact opposite of what Snivilius never in his life could manage and treat them almost casually lately. Her green eyes were swimming as she watched James, "please, please tell me he doesn't use that on Harry."
It didn't seem a very out there theory. Even though he'd spent six years in the castle successfully without killing Harry, and in fact saved his life back in first year, Voldemort was now plotting something in the school, and using both Snape and Malfoy to do it. Harry was going to get himself involved just like always, and he'd just found this very curse of the Death Eater's, marked for his enemies.
Prongs lifted his hand slowly, tracing under his eye a scar that was not there. He remembered though, a future to them in a memory; out on that lake, the vile word he'd call Evans and using a dark spell on him to try cutting up his face.
He went back to the book without another word and kept reading.
The stage was set, and they'd been dumped into the results, but the roles were quite reversed from their initial fear. In Malfoy's isolation and fear as Harry stumbled upon him in this bathroom, an Unforgivable curse was released, and Harry's retaliation was just as dark.
Regulus watched the reactions around him. Lupin, a dark creature himself he'd always been told, cringing into Sirius with horror and still watching the ground to make sure his nightmare did not come back to haunt him. Sirius and Potter, the two most compulsive casters in Hogwarts looking shocked and downright terrified of this curse.
Lily choked on a sob that did not come, instead turning into both of her friends and whispering an apology they did not need for her long years standing by someone who could ever create that.
He and Peter exchanged a look in the center of the carnage, and they alone seemed to be the only ones both repulsed, and fascinated by this fluid spell. It's implications were wild, to be able to make such delicate and varied marks on flesh was not a known method of magic, the talent that went into such a twisted act was something his parents would rave about.
There in lay the difference between them, they both finally understood. Such magic did not just vanish because the others found the idea so unbearable. Neither of them could dream of replicating it now, but someone had, and even if it vanished from the earth, someone would again. To pretend otherwise was a naivety neither of them possessed, so another answer would have to be found.
Draco's plan had not been going well, he'd been in here crying to the wailing ghost of his coming death if he did not complete his mission in the room of requirements. Malfoy's own death and that of his parents on the chopping block if he did not succeed, and the two's impulsive response to attack each other when Harry was found hearing this made Regulus sick.
Did the Dark Lord have the same hand in their house now? Was he threatening his parents if they didn't do and teach to the two brothers exactly what he wanted they'd all be dead as well? He still could not reconcile as Sirius had seemed to there was no hope of somehow getting away from it all without losing everything.
Malfoy did not perish from Harry's ill-gotten win, and Snape's punishment was so oddly limited the grim idea even crossed Regulus' mind if Snape wasn't just a bit impressed at Harry doing this. Only detention, for nearly killing another student? Not even Dumbledore had gotten involved?
Harry hid away his book rather than revealing its secrets in a room of endless things, something he couldn't help but admire. He was banned from his Quidditch match, yet got his desired outcome of kissing Ginny when she delivered their victory. Potter did not cheer for his son, Sirius and Remus Lupin did not make each other laugh this time. The blood might have vanished around them, but nobody was pretending otherwise this time more could be on the way.