Status: In very, very, very slow progress


The Secret

Whatever was under the hood took a long, slow, rattling breath, as if it was trying to suck more than air from its surroundings. Vanessa sensed an asthma attack coming on as an intense cold swept over them all. It went deeper than her skin. It was inside her, in the very depths of her soul ….

Vanessa started to find it difficult to breathe. She couldn’t see a thing. White fog was circling her, she was drowning in it. This was turning into a fully fledged asthma attack.

Then suddenly, as if from far away, getting nearer Vanessa heard bangs, blasts from a wand, it sounded as if one of the blasts had hit a dustbin. Unexpectedly, there was a flash of green light and a cry of pain. She felt lost, confused – she wanted to help whoever had cried like that, but her chest was tight, she could only just muster a forced, brief, quick, occasional breath.
Another few minutes like this and her asthma would kill her.

“Oh crud, Vanessa? Sweetie, are you still with me?” Vanessa could hear Claire’s voice; loud, clear, calm with a hint of urgency. She just managed to nod her head slightly.

“Is your inhaler in the pocket of your robes?” Claire questioned, fumbling around with the pocket and finding the inhaler. Wasting no time she administered two puffs and encouraged Vanessa to take normal, slow breaths. After a minute she repeated the process, all the while staying calm.
It took a total of three repeats after that to get Vanessa’s breathing back to normal.

Now that she did not have to focus every last ounce of her being on breathing, she could reflect on that terrible creature and what had happened when it was in the room ….

Vanessa looked round the compartment and saw two new arrivals – a girl with bright Weasley hair and a boy with a round face and dark-ish hair. She caught Harry’s eye and saw that he seemed to have had a bit of an ordeal as well.

A loud snap made them all jump. Professor Lupin was breaking an enormous slab of chocolate into pieces.

“Here,” he said to Harry, handing him a particularly large piece. “Eat it. It’ll help.”
Harry took the chocolate but did not eat it.

“What was that thing?” he asked Lupin.

“A Dementor,” said Lupin, who was now giving chocolate to everyone else. “One of the Dementors of Azkaban.”
Everyone stared at him.

“So I was right…” Vanessa breathed as Professor Lupin crumpled up the empty chocolate wrapper and put it in his pocket.

“Eat,” he repeated. “It’ll help. I need to speak to the driver, excuse me ….”
He strolled past Harry and disappeared into the corridor. As soon as he had gone, Vanessa brought her head to rest on her arms which were wrapped tightly around her knees. It was only a week after it had happened; she was no more over it than she was an MCR hater!

“Vanessa? Are you alright?” Claire said gently.

“I need to tell you something.” Vanessa answered.

“This is my sister, Ginny and Neville, by the way.” Ron explained.

“Oh. Gryffindors, I presume?” Vanessa replied.

“Yes.” Ginny nodded.

“Do you want to go somewhere more private or…?” Claire went on.

“No, I don’t really care who knows. Yes, I’d feel better if….” Vanessa trailed off.

“What did you want to tell us?” Hermione asked quietly.

“You know how those Dementors force you to re-live your worst memories? Well, one of my worst memories happened exactly a week ago. It was rather late, about half nine in the evening, and my dad had gone out for some shopping. I’d just talked to him on the phone. He’d said, ‘I’m coming home now.’ Well, when he got back,” Vanessa took a deep breath, “he had company. My sister and I witnessed the duel that followed. Then, suddenly, there was a crash, a very loud one, like something heavy hitting a dustbin and falling to the floor…. We saw a cloaked, masked figure fleeing from the scene. And then, we went out and-” She choked slightly – Claire sensed the tears Vanessa was trying so hard to hold back. Breathing heavily she continued, “We saw his body, lying, motionless on the ground. And it- it clicked in our heads – he was murdered by one of Voldemort’s followers.” As she finished Ginny and Hermione gasped; Neville looked pale; Harry and Claire looked blank and Ron let out a low whistle.