Who: Anyone who wants to attend the Light My Fire party
Where: The Grotto
When: 26 July 2001, evening
At first Heidi didn’t notice the change in the atmosphere, wrapped as she was in the glow of alcohol and a stranger’s arms. Then people started screaming. Hastily untangling herself, she looked around just in time to see an explosion of flame behind the bar. Shit.
“Everybody out! NOW!” she roared, drawing her wand and feeling the adrenaline kick in. A hand on her arm made her turn, but it was only her sister. “Lexie, get out of here. I’m going to go check the kitchens.”
“But —” Her sister’s protest was cut off by another scream as a girl Splinched herself right in the middle of the dancefloor. Lexie’s mouth settled into a determined line, and squeezed Heidi’s arm once before hurrying over to help.
Dashing behind the bar, Heidi slipped through the staff door at the end. She was immediately hit by thick black smoke and started coughing, unable to form words. “Any- anyone in — h-here?” She advanced further into the room, casting a shield against the heat and the smoke. She was so intent on looking for injured people that she didn’t hear the ominous creaking and groaning of the ceiling above her.
The fire had started behind the bar and the burst of flames had sent Lavender stumbling back into the kitchens before she could be burned. However, it hadn’t taken long before the flames were engulfing the stoves and the storage in the kitchen as well, making billows of horrible black smoke. Lavender fought her way through towards the back exit, only to find it completely blocked by flames. She reared back from the fire, snarling without her conscious knowledge and then coughing as more smoke filled her lungs.
She knew that she needed to fight her way back into the bar and to the front door or she was going to die in here. The panic of that realization sent adrenaline surging through her as her preternatural side grabbed hold of her completely and began urging her to get out, get out, get out.
She was almost to the kitchen door when she heard the voice. “Hello? Are you all right?”
Heidi was starting to realise this wasn’t such a great idea. Her eyes were stinging and streaming so much she could barely see through the smoke, though she’d crouched down low to avoid as much of it as she could and to try to feel for people on the floor by touch. Thankfully she hadn’t found any bodies, although that did mean she’d come in here and risked her life for nothing. Typical.
Hearing someone call out, she opened her mouth to respond, but was overcome by another coughing fit. Lungs and throat burning, she managed to croak over, “Over here!” Disoriented, Heidi began stumbling in the direction the voice had come from.
Lavender was thankful for her sharp eyes right then. It was rare that she was ever thankful for anything having to do with her disease, but as it allowed her to pick her way through the darkness and smoke, coughing all the way, to Heidi’s side, she allowed the gratitude this once. Heidi was drooping visibly when Lavender reached her and coughing like crazy.
“Come here,” Lav said, slipping her arm around Heidi and taking most of the other girl’s weight on. “I’ll get you out of here.”
As they stumbled back into the burning main room of the bar, Lavender spotted something odd. The few stragglers still trying to get out of the club (and help others out of the club) we near the exit. All but one. Audrey Singh was in the center of the blaze and she didn’t seem to be putting much effort into getting herself out. Perhaps she’d given up?
Panic surged through Lavender. She couldn’t leave Audrey in here. She ignored the instincts screaming in her ears that wolves didn’t like fire and she needed to get out. Propping Heidi up on a wall, she cast the only fire resistant charm she knew on herself, an aguamenti. Once she was thoroughly doused, she ran towards Audrey with all her strength. When she reached her, Audrey began to fight her, screaming that she wanted to be left alone. Lavender used her superior strength and knocked Andrew’s sister to the floor just before a falling, burning beam took them both out. When she checked, she found that Audrey had lost consciousness.
She found herself in the strange position of being thankful for her disease twice in a very few minutes as she slung Audrey over her shoulder and returned to Heidi and half-picked her up as well.
She had to get them all out of here.
Heidi felt vaguely like she should protest at being carried around like a ragdoll, but lack of oxygen was making things a little fuzzy around the edges. Instead she could only watch as Lavender single-handedly saved both her and Audrey from certain death without even breaking a sweat.
And, okay, the logical part of her brain knew it was because of Lavender being a werewolf and all, but Heidi couldn’t help but feel inadequate. This was just like when everyone was talking about Fliss’s secret ninja skills. Now everyone would be talking about Lavender’s super strength instead of Heidi’s bravery. Not that she’d actually managed to do anything useful, she realised through the blurry confusion of her thoughts.
As they stumbled out of the Grotto, Heidi felt the relief of fresh air upon her face, and was more than happy to sink into the blackness of oblivion as she finally fainted.
AJ had been trying to resist the urge to immediately Apparate to the scene. He’d send the Mediwizards from St Mungo’s, and he knew the scene was bound to be chaotic enough without others arriving to help or rubberneck. But when Tristan Montgomery had told him his sister had been carried out of the building — he couldn’t just wait at the hospital and see if she would be brought there.
“Excuse me,” he said, pushing someone aside as he scanned the crowd for Audrey. Maybe she’d be with a Mediwizard — his eyes skipped from one to the next, and still he didn’t see her. He felt a rising sense of panic that he tried to suppress as he pushed his way through more bystanders. Finally he spotted Lavender’s distinctive blonde hair. He felt a rush of emotion — relief, gratitude, a new surge of worry — that brought tears to his eyes as he grabbed her arm and pulled her into a tight hug. “Lavender, thank God. Are you OK? Where’s Audrey?”
“The Mediwizards have her,” Lavender whispered flatly, a bit too numb to even be thrilled about AJ hugging her, for all that she was clinging to him as if for dear life. “She was unconscious. She hit her head when I knocked her out of the way of a falling beam.”
The whole thing was so strange. Something had been so off about Audrey in that moment. So very off.
So what Tristan had told him was true. Lavender really had saved his sister. He didn’t have the words to express how grateful he was, so he just tightened his arms around her and pressed his lips to her forehead in a fervent, almost prayerful kiss.
“Where is she, can I see her?” He knew he shouldn’t get in the way of her treatment but he had to see for himself that she was OK. And if she was conscious, she’d be scared, and he should be there for her.
Without waiting for Lavender to reply, he started off through the crowd again, picking a direction at random, and clasping Lavender’s hand tightly to pull her along with him.
“I don’t know,” Lavender said, rubbing her forehead. “She wasn’t when I was over there. But I had to get checked out, too. And Heidi, and… everyone.”
She paused for a moment. “AJ… I…”
“What?” AJ asked, a note of impatience in his voice. All he wanted to hear right now was someone telling him where he could find his sister. But then he saw the look on Lavender’s face, and he suddenly felt his stomach clench with worry. Was there something Lavender hadn’t told him? Was Audrey hurt more badly than she’d let on?
“What is it?” he asked again, his tone more gentle now, but still urgent. He gripped her hand tightly, bracing himself.
“She seemed…” Lavender took a deep breath. She didn’t know how to say this. She was nearly certain there was no possible way to say this that he’d want to hear. “She fought me when I tried to help her. It was like she didn’t want to get out. Like she wanted…”
Like she wanted what, exactly? To die?
AJ just stared at her, uncomprehending. He dropped her hand and slowly shook his head. It just didn’t make any sense. Who would try to stay in a burning building? His mind started coming up with explanations—she must have wanted to go back for something, or someone — but he pushed them out of his mind. Whatever had happened, it wasn’t important now. “That’s—” he began, then stopped abruptly. “What’s important is that you got her out.”
And again he turned and set off in search of his sister, this time too caught up in his own thoughts to reach for Lavender’s hand.