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Chapter 24 : In the House of the Dark Lord
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Boudica’s youngest daughter shivered slightly, despite the warmth of the now blazing fire, as she thought about this eerie transition from night to morn. Midnight for her was now more frightening than ever before, for midnight was when she was to meet him. Tom Marvolo Riddle, an advocate of Melkor the Devil, whom her Lord most despised.
“Perhaps, it would have been better if I had went ahead and met with him at ten.” Carrie wondered aloud. “I wonder why he changed his mind, and decided to have me meet him at twelve instead….”
“The Dark Lord knew that if he sent for you at a time earlier than twelve, both of us would most likely be caught out of bed.”
Carrie jumped out her armchair in shock at the voice, and spun around toward it.
“Draco!” The girl cried, upon seeing her false brother standing in front of the portrait-hole clutching the silvery folds of an invisibility cloak. “How did you get in here?”
“Father and Uncle Severus helped me devise a way…. How are you, Ellie?” Draco questioned, drawing nearer to the girl posing as his sister.
“I’m fine, Draco.” Carrie replied, dismissively.
“Good. Potter is treating you kindly?”
“Of course he is, Draco. How can he not, when he thinks I am his best friend’s younger sister?”
“I take that to mean you two are longer dating, Ellie?”
“Very well. Come Ellie, let us be on our way.” The tall fair-haired young man took his pseudo-sister by the hand, threw the cloak over the two of them, and helped the young lass out of the portrait-hole.
Whereupon, as soon as the pair emerged from the hole, they soared down the corridor, down the staircase, and cautiously paced into the entrance hall… keeping an eye out for Filch. Malfoy automatically sighed with relief when he saw the coast was clear, and he hastily dragged Carrie out of the monstrous structure out onto the starlit grounds.
Laughing, the boy put on an unexpected burst of speed and soon overtook his sibling: who yelled in protest, but soon caught up with the male adolescent in the race. The two companions chased one another in content silence for a period, but soon they reached the boundaries of the Hogwarts grounds and together they apparated.
Carrie’s eyes widened in frightened awe as both she and her brother stealthily appeared in front of a dilapidated mansion, the Riddle House… the girl, trembling with suppressed fear, slowly proceeded up to the massive, oak door with Draco at her side. The lad moved to open the door for his sister, and soon the children had slipped into the cold, dark entry hall.
“Come Ellie, this way,” Draco spoke, leading his pseudo-sister up a staircase draped with fine cobwebs. The siblings cautiously made their way up the rotting, creaking steps before going forth down a long, narrow corridor. At the end of the dim passage, the companions stopped and came to a room. Draco escorted his sister inside before gesturing for Carrie to sit in a threadbare armchair by a sputtering fire.
“Stay here. I shall go find Father, and tell him we have arrived.” Carrie nodded mutely in response to the boy’s statement and breathed deeply, attempting to calm her nerves. The girl listened as her pseudo-brother’s footsteps faded, indicating he was departing from the room, and closed her eyes, inhaling great gulps of air. The girl strengthened her mental barriers, and the faintest trace of a smile soon graced Carrie’s refined elven features. An image of one particular red head had floated into her mind, and the female elf found his ebullient face to be oddly soothing.
A door leading to another room presently creaked open, and Carrie bolted upright, her eyes alert, before rising from her seat with a relieved sigh. It was Narcissa. As the noble lady came closer, the girl noted her foster mother’s face was surprisingly drawn and that there were creases etched into the once smooth, milk-white face. Nevertheless, as the older woman walked toward the younger, her lips formed into a distinct smile, and she demonstrated pleasure at her daughter’s safe return. Without a word, the mother opened her arms, and drew her darling close to her heart.
Still, before long the two broke their embrace, and Carrie found herself gazing deep into the ocean blue eyes of this normally arrogant pureblood lady. A gasp soon issued from the elf’s throat however, and she glanced questioningly at the Malfoy. For in the eyes of this woman, Carrie had seen the unexpected… she had seen pain, anguish, and fear.
“Mother?” Carrie asked, hesitantly.
“Yes, Ellie?” Narcissa probed, gently.
“Is the Dark Lord causing difficulties for you and Father?”
“He is very disappointed in your brother, and so he is tormenting us in unimaginable ways.”
“I am sorry, Mother…”
“Don’t be, my dear. It’s not your fault. Your brother and father are to blame.”
Just then, the door opened, and Lucius Malfoy strode into the room with Draco in his wake. Understandably, Narcissa immediately went to stand beside Draco against the wall, and Lucius advanced toward his daughter. Soon, the gentleman towered over the elf, and he reached out with a hand to caress her pale cheek.
“I am pleased to see you safe, Ellie.”
“How are you, Father?” the girl asked, lifting her gaze to meet the imposing eyes of her parent.
“As well as can be under the circumstances…. Now, we must go, I’m to accompany you downstairs. The Dark Lord is waiting.” At this, the girl took a deep breath, ensured her barriers were secure, and nodded to her brother and mother, before following her pseudo-father out into the hall.
Meanwhile back at Hogwarts:
Ron was knocking at the door of Elrond’s office.
“Enter.” Obediently, Ron did as he was told, and presented himself to his instructor. Surprisingly, Ron discovered that in addition to the Lord Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, and Minerva were all in the room.
“Oh,” the boy gasped. “Ah, I’m sorry Elrond, I’ll come back tomorrow.”
“Nay, stay, Ronald. You wish to speak to me, alone?”
“Well…” the boy shuffled his feet awkwardly, and blushed. “There is something worrying me, my lord…. It’s about a girl.”
“Ah,” Elrond’s eyes twinkled knowingly, much like Dumbledore’s once had.” The others will leave then, if you wish.”
“I suppose, they can stay if they want, my lord. I have nothing against it.”
“Very well.” Elrond stood, conjured a chintz chair for the lad, and motioned for him to take a seat amongst the elves. “Now, what is on your mind, Ronald?”
“I…I… have found myself… attracted to Carrie, my lord.”
“You are wondering about the consequences, correct?”
“Well,” Elrond continued, his eyebrows knitting together in thought. “You know that my daughter, Arwen chose to become mortal at the end of the Third Age in order to spend the rest of her days as Aragorn Elessar’s queen consort, yes?”
“So you see, my Arwen had eternity before her, and yet she was content with Aragorn. The Evenstar would live out her days in happiness with the Elfstone, who cradled her heart with love…. Even though, I too, possessed her love.” Elrond had a distant, dreamy look upon his face, and a tear glistened in his eye.
“Did you know, that Aragorn was raised by my son-in-law, Ronald?” Galadriel inquired. Upon which, Ron’s eyes grew round, and he shook his head in surprise.
“Yes,” Galadriel replied. “Aragorn’s father, Arathorn was killed by orcs, mutated humans or elves, when he was two.” Afterwards, Aragorn’s mother brought him to Rivendell; he was raised as Elrond’s son, and was christened Estel.”
“Does that mean Aragorn and Arwen were raised as brother and sister?”
“Nay, my granddaughter lived with Celeborn and me in the Realm of Lorien, until Aragorn came of age and his true identity was made known.”
“I wish there was some way I could be with Carrie, without causing pain to her family…”
“Well, you know,” Celeborn, said, clearing his throat. “The circumstances are quite different… Aragorn had no choice, but to ascend to the united thrones of Gondor and Arnor, as that was his destiny. Whereas, you have nothing to keep you here, except for your family.”
“Are you saying, I should decide if my love for Carrie is so deep and strong that I could follow her anywhere?”
“Indeed,” Minerva commenced, “For although, in history, females alone have done this… it is not impossible for men to accomplish as well.” Ron nodded in agreement, thanked the elves for their counsel, and returned to the Gryffindor common room for a time of contemplation.
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