As rain fell violently outside the Riddle house, Voldemort sat in his armchair staring at the roaring fire. Off in a corner, Charles sat up against the wall. Ashamed of the disgrace his only son had brought upon their family, his thoughts dwelled on how he was to make up for his dishonour.
Damn that boy! He’s brought death to our family! Charles thought to himself, cringing at the uncomfortable silence in the upstairs room. Suddenly, he was startled when a tall, black haired wizard entered the room. His pale complexion and greasy black hair showed off the coldness in this wizard’s heart.
Walking up to the armchair in which Voldemort was sitting, the wizard handed him a copy of the evening edition of the Daily Prophet. Voldemort unfolded the paper and read the headline: Two Death-Eaters Attack Diagon Alley in Broad Daylight! As he read to himself, two Death Eaters Apparated suddenly with a loud crack!
“Thank you, Severus. You may leave us,” Voldemort ordered as he set the paper down in his lap. The two Death Eaters, one limping badly, the other unable to perform the simplest task, hobbled closer to the Dark Lord.
“My lord,” the wizard with the limp said. He took off his mask to reveal a pudgy, oafish face as he prepared to plead with Voldemort.
“Hold your tongue, Goyle!” Voldemort hissed. “I already know what it is you would say.” Jumping out of his chair, the Dark Lord approached the two wizards. “You and your son—” with a quick swipe, Voldemort removed the mask from Gregory Goyle’s face— “went after Harry Potter against my express wishes!”
Gregory Goyle had started school the same year as Harry Potter. All through his Hogwarts career he’d hung out with his two best friends, Draco Malfoy and Vincent Crabbe. Gregory bore a striking resemblance to his dad but wasn’t as chubby.
“We were going to kill the prat for you,” Goyle pleaded.
“But you didn’t! Instead, you led Mr. Richardson right to Potter—a young man who knows much of our dealings!”
“My lord, we only thought....”
“Thought? Since when have I cared what you think? You have failed me! Leave my sight!”
Both Goyles turned to leave the room in shame. Charles was surprised at the Dark Lord’s unexpected show of mercy.
“Oh, Goyle?” Voldemort called just as they reached the door. Father and son turned back to face him.
“Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort screamed. A green light erupted out of his wand and hit Gregory squarely in the chest. He collapsed to the ground, dead.
“Gregory!” Goyle Sr. cried in agony.
“I do not tolerate failure, Goyle. Be grateful I don’t kill you as well. Take your son and leave my sight,” Voldemort said coldly.
Sobbing, Goyle picked up the remains of his dead son and exited the room. Unable to control himself, Charles, too, wept.
“So you’re the one who has the Dark Lord in such a fury. Pity. Clearly, you aren’t as impressive as I was led to believe,” Snape said coldly. In just the past hour, Charlie had been blindfolded, brought to this secret hideaway, and insulted by the first wizard he was brought before.
Charlie, half expecting to be brought before children, was amazed by the wizarding talent Harry and Ginny presented. One by one, the head members of the Order of the Phoenix arrived at this worn-down shack by Floo. Looking from witch to wizard, his startled eyes taking in the sight of the largest man he had ever seen, Charlie began to relax for the first time since coming to England.
Standing up at the far end of the small room he had been brought to were a red-headed witch and wizard. Molly Weasley was plump and kind-faced, where Arthur was thin and had a receding hairline. When Ginny ran up to them and hugged them, Charlie concluded that they must be her parents.
The wizard leaning up against the side wall struck Charlie as a realistic Frankenstein’s monster. His grizzled, dark-gray hair drew attention to the many scars on his face. The one thing about him that Charlie couldn’t stop staring at was the glass eye that had a tendency to turn into his body. He was an ex-Auror by the name of Alastor Moody; Charlie really liked this guy.
When McGonagall arrived by Floo, Charlie thought he had died and gone to heaven. All his life, Charlie had been attracted to older women, and Minerva struck him as very beautiful. Her black hair, beady eyes, and stern posture captivated Charlie, and he couldn’t help but admire her beauty. Minerva seemed to sense his admiration, for each time she caught him glancing at her, she blushed.
Out of all of the wizards who showed up, Lupin was the one who looked ill, to Charlie. His shabby clothing and graying hair gave Charlie the impression that the man was suffering from some form of cancer and was about to keel over. Despite Lupin’s pleasing personality, Charlie could tell he was no wizard to mess with.
But the one that really intrigued Charlie was a man by the name of Rubeus Hagrid, half-giant, half-human. Hagrid had once been a student at Hogwarts but was now a teacher there. Twice the size of a normal man, his gentle eyes told Charlie that Hagrid was a protector and would die to save the ones he cared about.
The last two to arrive were a young witch and wizard about his age. Charlie noticed right away that the witch was quite beautiful, though she seemed unconscious of her beauty. Her bushy brown hair drew more attention to her angelic face than she knew. The wizard who arrived with her, with his red hair and features similar to some of the people already present, was clearly another member of the Weasley line. Ronald was Ginny’s brother and was very protective of his friends and family.
“What is it that you feel the Order can do for you, Mr. Richardson?” McGonagall asked Charlie in a nurturing tone.
“I ask for the Order’s protection. I have insulted Voldemort, and now he’s very pissed at me,” Charlie replied.
“Language, Mr. Richardson,” McGonagall replied with a stern little frown.
“How can we trust ’im?” Hagrid asked.
“I understand that coming from a line of Dark wizards doesn’t exactly qualify me as trustworthy, which is why I propose that I exhibit a show of good faith,” Charlie explained.
“And how would you show this good faith?” inquired Lupin.
“I have sources over in Boston. I have extensive knowledge of the Dark Arts. There is no one over here with as much knowledge of the Dark Arts as me. I understand that Voldemort has magical objects—”
“Horcruxes,” Hermione corrected.
“Horcruxes. I’m confident that I can find one of them for you,” Charlie continued.
All at once the entire Order grew silent. He had obviously touched a nerve.
“All right, Mr. Richardson. You have the Order’s attention,” McGonagall added.
“However,” Snape rudely interrupted, “there are hundreds of artifacts out there with magical attributes. How are you to know if anything you find is in fact one of the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes?”
“I won’t. So allow me to bring you the item in question, and then you can decide if it is in fact one of the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes.”
“We need a moment to consider this. Could you please wait outside?” McGonagall asked.
Charlie nodded in agreement and exited the room. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione followed him out and closed the door behind them.
“Charlie, I’d like to introduce you to Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley,” Harry said.
“Pleasure,” Hermione responded. Ron stared deep into Charlie’s eyes, as if assessing his integrity. “Ron! Don’t be rude.”
“I’ll do as I wish. He comes from a family of Dark wizards. Plus, he’s American,” Ron ranted.
“You must forgive Ron; he can be rather—” Hermione apologised.
“It’s okay. I have to earn your trust. I’m on board with that,” Charlie interrupted.
Suddenly, the door reopened.
“Mr. Richardson, please rejoin us in here,” McGonagall requested.
The four of them reentered the room. The atmosphere was so thick, Charlie couldn’t breathe.
“The Order has decided to give you this chance to show your merit. Retrieve this artifact—” she handed him a piece of parchment— “and bring it back to us. There is one condition: you must take two of our members with you,” McGonagall explained.
Before Charlie had a chance to respond, Harry Potter stepped forward and addressed the Order.
“I’ll go with him,” he said. Ginny then stepped forward as well.
“I’ll go, too,” she added.
“Absolutely not!” Arthur and Molly both exclaimed.
“Mum! Dad! I’m no longer a child, I can fend for myself now,” Ginny argued.
Arthur opened his mouth to respond, but McGonagall raised her hand, silencing him.
“Very well. You two are to assist Mr. Richardson. I warn all of you, these are dangerous times. Stay alert and protect each other. Good luck, Mr. Richardson. Good luck to you all,” McGonagall added.
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