Chapter 1 : The Best Way To Break A Man
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The Best Way To Break A Man
“No guys, seriously, I’ve really gotta be getting home. This is the first evening off I’ve had in months, and Nala will kill me if I waste it clowning around with you lot.” Kingsley Shacklebolt laughed, backing out of the office.
“Get out of here then, boy.” Replied Alastor Moody, his lopsided gash of a mouth forming a rather ugly grin.
“Yeah, its not like we even wanted you to stay anyway.” Fabian Prewett called over a stack of boxes, his distinctive laugh mimicked exactly by his brother Gideon.
“See you all tomorrow.” Kingsley said, ignoring the jokes of his colleagues. Popping his head around the door, he added with a smile “Don’t stay up too late.”
The three people in the office all got to their feet in mock fury, racing towards him. He darted around a corner, ran into the golden lift, and pressed the gleaming button labelled ‘Atrium’. The gates closed, and his fellow Aurors disappeared from view, their disgruntled muttering following him downwards.
Exiting the lift, Kingsley strode towards the battered red telephone box, which would carry him into the muggle street above. He was still chuckling to himself as it ascended, rattling loudly.
He slid the red, peeling door aside, and was immediately hit by a wonderfully cool breeze. Breathing a deep sigh of satisfaction, he began his walk home.
Autumn was now in full swing, but the air had lost none of its summery warmth. Leaves of gold, brown and copper littered the streets of London, and the honeyed tones of the setting sun lit the pavements with brilliance.
As he passed a couple, arm in arm and laughing happily, he was reminded of himself and his wife, Nala. They had known each other since their second year at Hogwarts, and the relationship had lost none of its potency – his love for her was stronger than it was for any other, except maybe his daughter.
He and Nala had been blessed with Aylan almost six years ago, and those six years had undoubtedly been the happiest of his life. The three of them were like one of those perfect happy families – Aylan would play happily in the garden, whizzing about madly on her favourite toy, a miniature Cleansweep one-twenty. Kingsley and Nala would sit together, laughing with their daughter, relishing in the fun she was having.
But Aylan was getting older very fast, and it wouldn’t be long until she got the much-anticipated letter from Hogwarts. She talked about it endlessly, rigorously questioning her parents on their experiences at the wizarding school.
“Will I be able to cook nice things with my wand? Like Mummy does?”
“Will I be able to play Quishish like Daddy did, on a real broom?”
“Is black the only colour you can wear at Hogwarts? Why can’t it be pink?”
And so on. Kingsley never tired of talking with her about Hogwarts, because it had given him so many good memories, and been such an important part of his teenage life.
As he turned a corner onto a tree-lined street, he tried to imagine what Aylan would be like at school. The friends she would make, the good times she would share with them…and the inevitable trouble she would get herself into, for she was a very mischievous little girl, much like both her parents had been in their childhood.
Kingsley smiled. Having finished at 7.00pm (early for him), and now looking forward to an evening with his family, he was feeling very happy.
A car pulled out of a nearby driveway, and one glance at the driver immediately shattered Kingsley’s good mood.
The face staring back at him was unmistakable – those merciless scarlet eyes, that pointed nose, and that cruel, twisted smile – all made up the snake-like visage of Lord Voldemort.
Kingsley’s heart skipped a beat, and his hand moved instinctively towards his wand. The car turned, and began to drive towards him. He resisted the impulse to run, facing the threat head on.
However, the car did not continue in his direction. It glided along the road, passing him. He blinked, moving a hand up to rub his eyes.
Opening them, he saw an extremely worried-looking muggle staring at him from behind the wheel. Kingsley had done it again…
He had been seeing the face of Voldemort more and more regularly in the past few months – on muggles, on fellow wizards, even on friends.
Realising that he must have looked very strange indeed to the driver of the car, he gave him a hasty smile, before quickening his pace down the road.
These peculiar hallucinations confused Kingsley greatly. He had not told anyone about them, thinking them to be down to the fact that he was an Auror. He, like almost every other person working for the Ministry, heard the Dark Lord’s name a hundred times a day. The havoc caused and the terrible deeds committed by his followers were becoming more frequent, and the Ministry of Magic was struggling to prevent the situation from worsening.
Kingsley himself had been one of the most successful Aurors of the time. More than a quarter of the inhabitants of Azkaban prison had been put there by him – the only person managing more than this being Alastor Moody. Kingsley had also been involved in countless assignments – raids, rescue missions, skirmishes – which had placed him in great danger. He had beaten many of the finest Death Eaters, which had earned him many enemies. He did not fear death, but worried endlessly about his family. And it was this, in essence, which made the visions of Voldemort so chilling – they only occurred when he thought about his wife or daughter.
His brow furrowed, he tried to resume his trail of thought. Failing, he laughed bitterly. How stupid he had been, to get so caught up in the autumn evening. He had almost forgotten that he now lived in one of the worst times the wizarding world had ever known. Voldemort was at his most powerful, and his followers were numerous. Nearly every family had suffered terrible loss from his reign of terror. Kingsley was one of the few who had never experienced this.
Of course, he had lost friends. Ministry colleagues, old school companions…but never a family member.
He laughed again. ‘Happy?’ he thought, ‘Lucky, more like.’
Sooner than he expected, he was pacing along the quiet road on which his house was situated. Spacious front lawns stretched out from the immaculately white houses. Extravagant cars were parked in every driveway. The sound of a hosepipe, and the gleeful shrieks of children, drifted through the balmy air from a garden nearby.
For the second time that evening, the atmosphere around him was giving Kingsley a more positive feeling. ‘Forget Voldemort for once, tonight is the first night off you’ve had in months’ he thought to himself, ‘just enjoy it’.
He crossed the lawn which led up to his own house, and stopped at the door. He hesitated for a moment, and then, with a smile, put away his keys and slipped through the back gate. He would surprise them.
Once in the garden, he walked over to a flowerpot and lifted it up, expecting to find the spare back door key which was kept there for emergencies. It was not there.
‘Strange’ he thought. Nala never moved it, as she didn’t like him using magic to open the door if he left his keys inside. Maybe she had expected him to try and surprise her, and had moved it. Well, that wasn’t going to work…
He slid his wand from his pocket, and pointing it discreetly at the lock, he whispered
With a soft click, the door opened. Kingsley grabbed the handle and eased it open, careful not to let the hinges creak. He closed it behind him, and turned to survey the room.
Their kitchen was spacious and decorated to suit the current weather perfectly. Full of crisp yellows, soft white and various browns, it made Kingsley feel immensely comforted every time he entered it.
Noticing a bubbling noise, he turned to the stove. A pan stood there, its contents overflowing. Strange. He moved towards it, turning the heat off.
This, again, was unlike Nala. She loved to cook, taking great care when doing so, and would never normally allow her work to be spoilt.
Kingsley frowned. Maybe she was upstairs, with Aylan…yes, that had to be it. He walked into the corridor which led to the stairs, and was about to go up, when something on the first step caught his eye.
A muddy footprint lay on the carpet. It was faded slightly, as if someone had hastily attempted to rub it off, but it was still noticeable.
He frowned again. Nala had no boots which would leave a mark such as this.
Part of him was becoming anxious. Something wasn’t right.
He poked his head around the banister, trying to see upstairs, but he could not. The lights were all on, but there was no movement up there, and no talking.
He placed a foot on the first step, and began to climb. He was being as quiet as he could, and he didn’t know why.
Reaching the top, he stared into Aylan’s room. It was empty. Turning, he made his way along the corridor. His and Nala’s bedroom was just ahead. He breathed deeply, half-expecting something to be wrong, but then half-expecting Aylan to burst out, laughing gleefully and screaming ‘BOO!’.
He crossed the threshold and looked up. His stomach lurched, his eyes widened.
There, one hand on the mantelpiece, his face alight with a triumphant smile, stood Lord Voldemort.
“Good evening, Mr. Shacklebolt.” He said calmly, his smile widening. “We have been expecting you.”
Before Kingsley could reply, two pairs of hands gripped each of his arms tightly. They held him firm. He was trapped.
Looking around, he noticed just how many people were in the room with him. His and Nala’s bedroom was large, and it was now full of robed individuals, their black masks glinting in the warm glow of the lamps. He tried to count them, but was distracted by Voldemort’s voice.
“We’ve never met, have we Kingsley?”
He was holding a picture in an ornate silver frame, which he had picked up from the mantelpiece. It depicted Kingsley, his wife and his newly born daughter, all smiling up at the cruel, snake-like face which surveyed them.
“I’m sure I need not introduce myself…” he laughed. A short, harsh laugh that sent shivers down Kingsley’s spine. The Death Eaters were laughing too.
Voldemort turned back to the picture in his spidery hands.
“You have a beautiful family.”
“What’ve you done with them.” Kingsley snarled, struggling against his captors. Their grips tightened, and Voldemort laughed again.
Kingsley was suddenly hit by a wave of raw panic. Neither Nala nor Aylan were anywhere to be seen, and the house was silent. He thought of his daughter. She must be terrified. And his wife…she would have been cooking, or playing with Aylan when they arrived.
His heart was beating furiously, and all he thought about as Voldemort continued to survey the picture was protecting his family, getting them away from harm.
“I’m the one you want. If you’re here to kill me then kill me, but let my wife and child go free.” He said desperately, to more laughter from the Death Eaters.
Voldemort ignored him.
“You know, you should be honoured. I rarely devote my time to dealing with enemies personally. Its not that I don’t want to, you understand…it’s just that there are so very many enemies in this world. I only wish I could remove all of them.”
He tapped his fingers on the marble mantelpiece, his eyes now fixed on Kingsley.
“I planned this night very carefully.” He continued, his voice dangerously calm. “And it is not only you who will be neutralised. Tonight is the night when the enemies of Lord Voldemort shall be rooted out. As we speak, three very good friends of yours are walking into a trap not unlike this one. It is regrettable that I shall not be there to…see the looks on their faces. But alas, I fear you are more important.”
“Wh-…who…” Kingsley whispered, his eyes wide.
“I am talking about Moody, and his young protégées the Prewetts, of course.” Voldemort replied, his smile even wider. “That crackpot Auror and his apprentices have evaded death for far too long.”
“No…” Kingsley’s mind was racing. He was still thinking about his family, wondering where they were, but he was also immensely worried about his friends. If he could just reach his wand…
Voldemort moved away from the mantelpiece, and nodded to a Death Eater who had been standing expectantly by the window. He hurried out of the room, brushing past Kingsley. He could hear him wheezing, and muttering excitedly under his breath.
“Nala. That’s the name of your wife, is it not, Mr. Shacklebolt?” Voldemort was pacing slowly up and down, his hands clasped behind his back. He gave the impression that he was utterly at ease with his surroundings, as if he were in his own home…or wherever he lived.
However, his scarlet eyes glinted with anticipation, with excitement.
Kingsley’s nostrils flared as he clenched his jaw in growing anger.
“She is incredibly beautiful…and brave also. Or maybe I mean foolish. She was somewhat reluctant to reveal to us your whereabouts. I was beginning to think we would never get the information out of her. But then, with the correct application of interrogative methods…” Voldemort paused, allowing the malicious laughter of the Death Eaters to fill the room.
“What did you do to her!” Kingsley yelled, a vein in his temple throbbing uncomfortably.
“Come now, Mr. Shacklebolt, as an Auror I had expected you to be familiar with the procedures of obtaining information from a reluctant suspect.”
“If you harmed her, I’ll-“ Kingsley began.
“You’ll what, Mr. Shacklebolt?” Voldemort cut him off. He was obviously enjoying Kingsley’s anger “You aren’t in a particularly good position to make threats.”
He suddenly looked up at something behind Kingsley.
“Ahhh, our guest of honour has arrived.” He said, to raucous laughter from the Death Eaters. “I’m sorry you had to wait, Kingsley, your wife was somewhat indisposed.”
Kingsley struggled to turn and look, but the grip of his captors was too tight. He heard irregular footsteps on the wooden floor. The Death Eater who had left the room walked past to join his comrades.
Voldemort stretched his arms out in mock greeting, and then, barely three feet away, Nala came into view. She was walking oddly, as if one of her legs was injured, and her arms hung limply at her sides. Her clothes were ripped, and dried blood had collected around her nostrils, and at the sides of her mouth. Her eyes were glazed. Something was seriously wrong.
She limped into the centre of the room, and then stood idle, staring into space.
Voldemort surveyed her with glinting eyes, before turning back to Kingsley.
“Your wife was very strong. You should be proud for that. It took more than seven for her to break.”
Kingsley’s eyes didn’t leave Nala. “Seven what.” He said, the answer already plain to him.
“Seven curses. Curses known for their ability to cause pain.” Voldemort paused, savouring every moment
The anger and raw terror that had been building up inside Kingsley exploded. He tore at his captors, kicking madly, struggling towards the Dark Lord with every ounce of his strength. The pain Nala must have experienced was flashing constantly through his mind, and he wanted nothing more than to inflict the same amount of pain on Voldemort. One of the Death Eaters holding him back let out a cry of alarm
“We can’t keep him pinned!”
Kingsley roared with fury, pulling himself a few inches closer to Voldemort, who stood, calm as ever. However, his smile had disappeared. He raised his wand, aiming it at Kingsley’s heart. His red eyes flashed.
Kingsley’s screams changed from those of anger to those of agonizing pain. His legs collapsed beneath him as a thousand white-hot knives rained down upon his entire body. He couldn’t see, he couldn’t hear, he couldn’t think. The only thing that existed now was the pain. It reached its peak, and as Kingsley’s mind begged for death it abruptly stopped.
He gasped for breath, his eyes watering. The two Death Eaters hauled him onto his feet and held him there. A third, who had moved behind him, grabbed him by the chin and forced him to face Voldemort. His chest was heaving, and the aftermath of the curse was still prickling at his limbs.
“If I were you, Mr. Shacklebolt, I would calm down.” Voldemort hissed, “I do not like interruptions, and I had not finished talking about your wife.”
He looked at her, standing dazedly in the middle of the room, apparently oblivious to the pain her husband had just experienced.
Kingsley was too weak to say anything. He merely stared as Voldemort continued.
“After seven doses of the Cruciatus curse, Nala told us that you would be home at any minute. Imagine how thrilled we were to hear this.” His eyes glinted. “However, she, like you, was rather violent, and we had to take decisive measures to restrain her. In case you have not noticed, she is under the command of the Imperius curse. She will do anything I tell her to…as I shall now demonstrate.”
He looked over to a group of Death Eaters on Kingsley’s right. They nodded, turning round and attending to something Kingsley could not see.
His heart was beating fast, as it had been since he had walked in, but his panic and anger had subsided. This was so unreal…
Voldemort smiled at him, almost understandingly. A sudden noise to his right brought Kingsley back to his senses with a thud.
Someone was crying.
The Death Eaters parted, and out of their midst, her face stained with tears, came Aylan. She spotted her father, and her crying became more intense.
“What’s happening, Daddy?” she whispered thickly “What have we done wrong?”
Kingsley’s eyes widened, loosening a fat tear, which hit the wooden floor with a gentle splash. “It’s ok, my love. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
He was desperately trying to sound comforting, but his renewed fear was not allowing it. He turned to Voldemort.
“Please…she’s just a child…take me and let her go…don’t make her watch…”
The Dark Lord smiled, and it was at this point that Kingsley realised. This was not a man. He showed no pity, no mercy. He was a heartless being, who relished in the agony of others. At this moment in time, Kingsley could think of nothing that was less human than what stood before him.
Voldemort turned to Nala, his wand pointed at her head. She blinked and shuddered briefly, before pulling her own wand and pointing it at Aylan.
Kingsley’s lip quivered as realisation dawned on him.
“No! NO! Take me, strike me down now, they are innocent, they are-“
Voldemort silenced him with a wave of his hand.
“In my experience, Mr Shacklebolt, the best way to break a man is to take from him what he loves most.”
He let his wand arm fall, and Nala opened her mouth to speak. Kingsley could see the conflict that must be occurring in her head as she desperately tried to resist the curse. She blinked again, and in a hoarse, pained voice said
Kingsley screamed as a jet of blinding green light flitted across the room. It struck his daughter in the chest. She cried out in fear, but it was cut short. She fell backwards. All consciousness drained from her eyes…
Kingsley had gone deaf. He could feel the blood pounding around his skull. He saw Nala drop to the floor, released from the clutches of the Imperius curse. If his hearing had been working, the soul-shattering scream that erupted from Nala’s mouth as she realised what she had been made to do would have broken his heart in two. Tears streamed down his face. He looked up into the eyes of Lord Voldemort.
They were cold and pitiless as they had always been, and they bore down into him with such force that he had to look away.
This was too cruel…
Glancing back, he saw Voldemort’s wand rise into the air. A second flash of green seared his eyes. He could feel himself losing consciousness. The hands which clasped onto him let go, and he slid onto the floor. He felt the vibrations of the Death Eaters’ feet as they left.
With the last ounce of strength his body possessed, Kingsley opened an eye. The room was empty.
And there, staring back at him, was his beloved Nala. She was dead.
As Kingsley lay there, half conscious and paralysed with shock and grief, a conversation he had recently had with Dumbledore crossed his mind.
“The Ministry can no longer meet the demands that the Dark Lord and his followers provide.” Dumbledore had said, his expression grave. “More and more deaths occur every day, and with each one Voldemort’s confidence increases. If things continue as they are, he will soon become too powerful to defeat.
In light of the situation, myself and numerous others have vowed to prevent this terrible fate from occurring. An order has been formed, one that will combat Voldemort and his Death Eaters more directly than the Ministry ever could. The Order Of The Phoenix.”
Kingsley had always had a great respect for Dumbledore, and his heart had flared at the thought of his old professor leading an order into battle with the Dark Lord’s followers. He was most certainly a force to be reckoned with – the only man Voldemort had ever feared, or so they said.
“I called you here, Kingsley,” Dumbledore had continued. “to request your presence in the Order. You are undoubtedly among the finest wizards I have ever met, and the skills that you have obtained from your experience as an Auror would be invaluable to us in this time of need.”
Dumbledore’s eyes had met Kingsley’s, and he had had the impression that they could see right through him, a feeling he often had when speaking with Dumbledore. As if reading Kingsley’s mind, those startlingly blue eyes had closed, unhappiness showing in every line of that wrinkled face.
“I…I can’t, professor (he still called him this out of habit)…you know I’d help if I could, but…I already work late into the night at the Ministry, and taking on another job would leave no time for my family…and…I’m worried about them.” He looked to the floor guiltily, but Dumbledore had laid a hand on his shoulder.
“I understand, Kingsley. Do not feel bad for this, it is not in any way your fault.” He sighed heavily. “I only wish that these terrible times were over, and that I did not have to ask you to do this after you have already done so much.”
Still unable to move, Kingsley lay with his face pressed onto the wooden floor. He had felt awful at refusing Dumbledore, but he had to do it. Nala and Aylan were the most important things in his world, and he had already neglected them. He couldn’t possibly justify seeing them less than he had been recently.
But now, he realised, there was no Aylan…no Nala. They had gone, and taken with them almost every part of his life which could give him happiness. He had no one left to protect. No one left to worry about.
No one left to love.
His face formed a drowsy frown, his jaw clenching. He had made up his mind. The Order Of The Phoenix was the only thing left for him now. But he was not joining to please Dumbledore. Anger was rising fast in his chest, and the snake-like visage of Voldemort swam through his mind.
He would join the Order in the hope of facing the Dark Lord a second time. He would exact revenge. Forget Azkaban, forget the Ministry’s law on Unforgivable curses, Kingsley wanted nothing more at this moment than to torture Lord Voldemort into madness.
On the same warm, balmy evening as the breaking of Kingsley Shacklebolt, other enemies of Voldemort had been removed.
The Prewett brothers, along with Alastor Moody, had walked into a trap laid by a group of Death Eaters which outnumbered them tenfold.
Moody had been injured, and was forced by his two pupils to escape, against his will.
Having whittled their enemies down to only five, Fabian and Gideon Prewett were finally overcome by the followers of the Dark Lord. They died on their feet, fighting until the end. They died like heroes.
Voldemort had underestimated Kingsley Shacklebolt. He was not broken, and his resolve had never been stronger. The anger inside of him and the pain of his loss gave him purpose. Tom Marvolo Riddle did not realise on that night that he had created for himself a powerful enemy, one who would play a crucial role in his downfall, which reared ever closer…as the Boy Who Lived drew his very first breath.