Chapter 1 : Rhea Malfoy
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The Malfoy Manor is notorious among the wizards and witches of south-west England. Sprawled across a steep hill in the heart of Wiltshire, the mansion's appearance alone could tell you a thing or two about the dark family that resides there. Enormous, with gaping black windows that seem impenetrable by sunlight, the manor has remained a mystery to outsiders for generations.
I, however, know of every crack, niche, and passage hidden beyond its towering walls. The manor has persistently fought to keep me from uncovering its deepest and darkest secrets, but after sixteen years of my insistent searching and prodding, I believe that there is not one thing that I have yet to discover in my fine home.
That's why I paid no attention to the extravagant art work that my mother took such pride in, or the many portraits that contained my ancestors in all of their glory as I quickened my stride towards the parlor. My father, stern in demeanor, would not take it kindly if I took my own good time to answer his summons.
I descended the grand, marble staircase gracefully, my hand placed delicately on the gleaming banister. I hastily turned the corner upon reaching the foot of the stairs, and knocked on the parlor doors timidly but clearly. A soft noise of recognition signaled acceptance of my entrance, so I cautiously twisted the handle and let myself in.
Once inside, I noticed that my entire family was gathered. My mother, her beautiful face motionless and indifferent, was sitting straight-backed on one of the antique chairs. In the center of the room sat my father, Abraxas Malfoy, his gray eyes soaking up every detail of my presence. On his right side, to my immense displeasure, stood my brother, Lucius.
"Father, Mother, Lucius." I greeted, my head held high and hands clasped behind my back.
"Rhea," my father spoke, his voice crisp but not unkind, "In a few short days you will return to Hogwarts."
I started to nod but remembering how much my father disliked not receiving a straight forward answer, changed my mind. "Yes, Sir."
"You have not failed to please your mother and I in the past five years, so I can trust that your sixth year will not be any different. You seem to have not inherited the foolishness that your dear brother has exhibited to me." His voice was calm and level, but the fierce look that he threw in Lucius' direction gave the impression that Lucius had done something to anger him.
Lucius, who was seven years my senior and the spitting image of my father, had graduated from Hogwarts a few years ago. His cold arrogance and desire for power both pleased and infuriated my father. I looked towards my mother to see if she shared this annoyance towards Lucius, but she gave nothing away. My mother, the perfect trophy wife, hardly ever spoke in any discussions held. My father was the law. No decision was made without consulting him first, no move was made without his approval, and certainly, you did not disobey him.
"Are you prepared for the start of term?" My father asked, bringing my attention back towards him.
"Yes, Sir." I replied, my voice smooth and respectful. I had seen Lucius receive many punishments from my father over the years, and to ensure that I was never dealt with in the same manner I had perfected an obedient behavior.
From the early ages of childhood, I was taught what was expected of me. Speak only when spoken to, always mind your manners, and most importantly, never do anything to embarrass the family name. Simple enough as rules, but it was more than just that. It was a lifestyle. The lifestyle that my parents had lived, and the lifestyle that I now followed. A lifestyle that belonged only to the privileged and one that blood traitors and those with impure blood wouldn't understand.
"Very well," my father continued suddenly, waving his hand towards the door, "That is all. You are dismissed."
"As for you," he hissed in Lucius' direction, "We will continue this later."
I detected a threatening note in his voice but Lucius didn't even flinch. I quickly exited the parlor and released a breath that I didn't even notice I had been holding in. My father was an influential and persuasive man in the wizarding community. He claimed that this was because he was highly respected, but I suspected it had more to do with status, power, and fear. My father had a nasty temper, so I made a point to never upset him. I stayed out of his way, did what he asked of me, and acted how I had been taught a pure blood like myself should. I was the ideal daughter.
I had made it half way through the upstairs corridor when I heard the heavy footsteps behind me.
I spun around, fixing him with a blank stare.
"What?" I demanded.
"Have you no respect?" Lucius said mockingly. "Imagine what dear father would say if he heard that tone."
"Even father knows what kind of git you are." I snapped. Lucius and I rarely got along. I couldn't remember the last time we had held a civil conversation. He was far too controlling, nosy, and intruding for my liking.
"I'll let you know that father holds me in the utmost regards." Lucius drawled.
"Oh, yes I can tell." I said, sarcasm dripping from my words.
Lucius' gray eyes met my own blue ones and he smiled. "Talked to Regulus lately?"
"That's none of your business." I said indifferently. Inside, however, I was boiling with rage. Didn't he have better things to do than pry into my life.
"I spoke with him in London yesterday," Lucius continued casually, completely ignoring my comment, "He says you've neglected to answer his letters."
"Why don't you worry about your own damned life and your own damned letters?" I seethed.
I crossed my thin arms across my chest and fixed my brother with a look of hatred.
I growled under my breath and stalked away from him, heading in the direction of my room, my own oasis.
"You best make sure not to mess that one up, Rhea. There are not many young, acceptable young men who would willingly put up with your hostile ways." Lucius voice followed me down the corridor.
Upon entering my room, I took a deep breath and shook myself of all the pent up anger. Lucius was the only person who could penetrate my cool, relaxed exterior.
I stood in front of one of my full length mirrors and tucked a piece of straight, blond hair behind my ear as I examined my face. I was often told that I looked exactly as my mother did as a young lady. Same mouth, eyes, and cheekbones.
I wandered over to my large, Victorian desk and picked up the stack of letters I had received this summer. Four of the letters, all neatly addressed to Rhea Malfoy, were from Regulus Black.
I had never opened any of them, much less replied to them.
I saw post as a waste of time. I never knew what to write other than the normal, polite necessities. It wasn't like I hadn't seen my peers at all over the holiday. We all belonged to the same social group so therefore I saw them, Regulus included, at every ball, banquet, and dinner party.
Ever since third year, Regulus Black had taken a special interest in me; some would even call it infatuation. After two years of stolen glances, secret smiles, and small conversations in the common room, we had developed some sort of relationship. At school, Regulus and I were known as an "item", and this had pleased my father and mother greatly. Tall, dark, and handsome, Regulus was from a pure, respectable family with a lot of money. Very similar to ourselves.
Regulus, to say the least, was charming, and he had been the only boy to actually hold my attention for more than a few minutes. He was different, yet the same. Open, yet mysterious. His presence was comforting, and his company enjoyable.
I fingered one of his unopened letters cautiously, and thought about how I had actually begun to miss him after he had left for Switzerland with his parents for the remainder of the summer holiday. I could just read the letter, couldn't I? Reading it didn't mean I was required to reply.
I'm almost positive that you won't reply to this letter, just like the others, but I arrived in Switzerland today and it's painfully boring. Actually, I'm not even sure that you read my letters, but maybe you do. I had a nice little chat with Lucius the other day, as I'm sure you already know. Bet that got your blood boiling didn't it? I am looking forward to school starting. With my prat of a brother gone my parents' attention is solely focused on me. Making sure they are constantly pleased is enough to make a fellow go mad. Normally, I'd tell you that I'd like to hear from you, but I highly doubt that will happen. I hope everything is going well on your end. I'll be seeing you soon.
I put the letter back down and found myself feeling slightly annoyed that he knew me so well. I looked at the rest of the letters but decided not to even bother. One was enough.
Sitting down at my desk, I pulled out a fresh piece of parchment and a brand new quill. Then I started to reply to Regulus' letter just to prove that I wasn't as predictable as he made me seem.
It was only after I had sent my owl off to find Regulus in Switzerland that it dawned on me that I had just played right into his hands. Regulus knew that his written words would unnerve me, and he had expected me to write him back all along, making me all the more predictable.
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