Fred sat in his empty flat. All the lights had been doused hours ago, cloaking the room with blackness. The only light that could be faintly seen through the grimy kitchen window was the flickering street lamp down the equally empty alleyway. The blackness seemed to flow like a river, its intricate designs let it surge through any crevice and curve imaginable.
He couldn’t bring himself to do anything, not now, not after seeing the emptiness of the headquarters. His arms were steady, his legs unmoving and his piercing gaze never wavered from the bleak darkness. There was no movement, which in return there was no sound. Not even an angry alley dog let out its vicious bark that night. No, it was silent. It cloaked the room almost like the blackness, but silence invaded more deeply than the dark. It wouldn’t just go around each crevice; it would seep into the crevice marking it as its own. There was no getting away from the deep silence. It would cling to a person like glue. Fred, though hated both the silence and the blackness, failed to notice either. Maybe because inside, he finally let the silence invade. Finally letting it take over, he sat brooding in his dark thoughts.
Would he be the one to let her go? His Mum had always told him, not that he had believed her then, that there was one woman that could tame the wolf in every man. He was finally starting to understand that what his Mum had been telling him had been the truth all along. He felt like he had been tamed – or groomed at the very least. Fred shook his head defiantly; he couldn’t let himself think, for he felt enough already.
Finally, he stood up, but not even his footsteps could break the penetrating silence that reached out its greedy hands for him. He walked around his couch, still not turning a light on, only letting his body guide him to where he needed to go. He found himself in his bedroom. His covers were still rumpled from last night’s sleep and his clothes were hazardously strewn across the room. Fred ignored the mess and walked into the darkness. Feeling the chill of the floor soak into his bare feet he pushed some unfinished products out of his way before heading straight to the large bed in the middle of the room. It was a comfort he could take pleasure in, letting his body sink into the pile of blankets, he curled up underneath their warmth.
He tried to pretend that this was all in his head. That it was merely a dream in which he would wake up and find that everything was back to normal. That would be easy, there would be no complications. But then, the past was always easier to face than the unknown. It was easier having a past where he couldn’t still feel her breath on his cheek, where he wouldn’t know how it felt to have her look at him.
Trying to ignore the familiar despair that was trying to take over, he told himself that a Weasley twin just didn’t feel this way. Squeezing his eyes shut tightly, he pretended for a moment that she was okay. But for all his pretence, it would never come close to the truth.
Allowing himself to be lulled to sleep with his unsettling thoughts, he welcomed the unconsciousness only for few hours could he forget.
Ginny shoved her way through the crowds of Diagon Alley. Her fiery red hair was flying out behind her as she tried dodging all the new Hogwarts students that were doing last minute shopping for the new school year. She remembered all those times that she had been among these happy teens. When she was just starting Hogwarts, she would follow Ron and Harry like a lap dog. She had been crazy for Harry’s affections then, things hadn’t changed much since. Except this time, she couldn’t do the following.
She let out a loud sigh and continued hurrying over to Fred’s flat, she hated when she thought of Harry. Sometimes she could still feel his breath brush her neck if the wind blew hard enough. Shaking her head to rid herself of her haunting thoughts, she stopped in front of the happiest building in the alley yet she couldn’t bring the happiness into herself. Ever since coming back from Ireland, she had felt this unmanageable weight settle on her heart.
“Ginny! What are doing here?” Fred asked pushing open the door admitting her into the bustling store.
“I thought the shop didn’t open for another hour.” Ginny said pushing her way in.
“Oh, I decided to open earlier during the last few weeks of August because of the Hogwarts students pouring in. It gives them more time to beg their parents to buy some of our products.”
“Aye, seems as if my big bro is actually using some of those brains of his,” Fred shrugged his shoulders helplessly but was grinning down at her.
“Man needs to earn his money somehow,”
“Exploiting poor Hogwarts students who don’t know any better, honestly Fred, I’m worried about your morals.” Ginny giggled. “Things haven’t changed since your own Hogwarts years.”
“Oh come now Ginny dearest, at least now I do it openly and Mum approves.” Ginny laughed at his flamboyancy, glad that his misery at least was hidden for a while. She didn’t care that it was all for appearance she couldn’t stand the sadness that reigned in his eyes when they found nothing. It wasn’t right to see her brother like that - he looked so vulnerable.
Fred headed back behind the till quickly as a line of customers was waiting impatiently. Ginny took this time to look around the store; she hadn’t been here in months. She was surprised to see that it was mostly the same; there was a newer variety of Nosebleed
Nougats and the Sherbet Creams were discontinued. Usually they had new headlining products out at least every month or so. She could only guess what put a stop to it. She knew how it felt to be in his position. To feel ready to burst from the love inside but unable to do so, it zapped a person of their power.
“Hey Gins, can you go get Verity out of the back, tell her that her break is officially cut short!” Fred said as he busied himself counting cash.
After a few hours of helping around the shop, Ginny found herself in the back room. She had never felt so tired in her life, and at her age, she shouldn’t have been. But it felt as if her life had already been lived. The calmness that the end of the war brought, though she thought she wanted it, left little excitement in her life. Seamus didn’t want her to work, he said he could take care of her just fine but she hated being home all day.
“What are you doing in here all by yourself?” Fred said, Ginny noticed the bags under his eyes as well.
“Just getting some rest,”
“You’re talking as if you’re an old woman!” Fred said ruffling up Ginny’s hair affectionately.
“Sometimes I feel it.”
“My, if a twenty-four year old is feeling old what does that make me feel like?”
“Well, haven’t you just felt a little bored after the war? I mean, I don’t do anything anymore!” Fred sat down beside his younger sister. Her turmoil was evidently shown on her face. It had been five years, yet he could tell that she hadn’t settled into the new lull of freedom. Sometimes it took people longer to get used to it. Fred was sure that it would have been the same way with Harry had he made it. He was the kind of man who always needed action, so was his sister.
“I don't think the war is over Ginny, we’re only getting ready now for the next struggle, for the next person to try and rise up above the rest.” Fred said after a moment of silence. “I would take these moments of peace as they come.”
“Are you at peace Fred?” Ginny asked, looking deeply into his eyes. Fred looked away, unnerved at how well his sister could read him. She had always been the one he talked to. George was always great too, but they had always dodged the deeper topics, both never wanting to admit to each other that life wasn’t full of smiles and gags.
“It’s her isn’t it?” Ginny pushed, resting her hand on his arm. Fred blinked, and felt his muscles tense under her touch. She could tell he didn’t want to talk about that. “We’ll find her you know.”
“Either way I lose her.”
“No Fred you win- knowing that no matter what happens, you loved. That’s all that matters.” Fred snorted and shook his red mane.
“Do you feel like you’ve won, loving Harry?” Fred replied harshly. He knew he was mocking her, and hated himself for it when he had seen her haggard face. For the next few minutes the two sat with each other in silence. Each drinking up what the solace offered.
“I still miss him, yet I know I shouldn’t. It’s been almost three years I shouldn’t still be thinking about him.”
“Mum always used to tell us that when you really love a person, you never stop, even in death.”
“I remember that, you always used to laugh at it with George as if it was the funniest thing in the world.”
“It is, it’s funny because it’s hard to comprehend that you can love someone even when they’re gone. They’re gone, so doesn’t that mean feeling goes too?” Fred shook his head. He hated thinking about it, hated it only because a person would never know that it was the truth till they loved as clichéd as that was.
“Hey you two, get your bums out here! I’m not your slave you know!” Verity said peeking her head into the backroom.
“Oh really? Could have fooled me, the sign on your forehead says you are.”
“Shut up Fred and get to work!” She bossed before she disappeared again into the store.
“Well little sis, reality calls.”
The sun smiled down on the Order, but the members hardly took any notice; too busy arguing among themselves to notice the beauty around them. Ron was in an uproar that they were still sitting on their arses and not out there while others believed that(,) they needed a game plan rather than blindly run out without any idea to what they were doing. Ron hated the inactivity and his brain wasn’t working fully.
“Why the hell are we still here?” Ron burst out, his hand gripping the edge of the table tightly.
“Settle down Ronald! What do you think we’re going to do? Run around like headless chickens? Honestly get a grip!” Ginny said folding her arms tightly across her chest. Ron glared at his younger sister and leaned back in his chair.
“We are never going to get anywhere with Ron here breathing down our necks,” George muttered to himself.
“Nor will we get anywhere with you three arguing like children,” Lupin pointed out harshly. The siblings quieted down but continued to shoot looks at each other. Lupin sighed and rubbed his temples. He honestly didn’t know what to do, if Dumbledore had been here he would already know what action to take, where to place the members. But with him gone, it had left Lupin with an unmanageable responsibility.
“What we need to do is think like this man, find out what he is thinking,” Tonks said trying to break the tension.
“We already know that!” Ron replied tersely.
“Then stop action like a child and do it!” Lupin replied. He was getting annoyed at not only Ron’s easy anger, but also the whole Orders attitude towards each other today.
Ron grumbled under his breath about injustice but eventually trailed off angrily.
“How much information did you get on this guy?” Fred finally spoke, his eyes directly meeting Ron’s. Fred felt the anger boil up in himself just by looking at him.
“Why do you wanna know? It’s seems as if you’re more interested then normal.” Ron gave Fred a challenging look. For a moment Fred was worried that Ron had guessed.
“Stop acting like a selfish dick chop!” Fred hissed at Ron, his anger finally boiling over. “Stop pretending that you are the only one who cares for her! We need to find out where this guy would take her! If you don’t tell us then you’re going to be of no help!”
Ron gaped at his older brother, but Fred continued to glower at him, not caring what his actions revealed. He had one hell of a night and wasn’t up to putting up with Ron’s selfishness.
“The only thing that I’ve been able to figure out about him is that he had an unnatural craving for Hermione.” Ron sputtered out. “I’ve already told you all I know! His name was Rolf and he’s obviously been a faithful follower of You-Know-Who, even death can’t part his loyalty.”
“So, maybe him taking her has more to do with past instructions. Maybe he’s been so obsessed with following Voldemort’s orders that even death can’t cut those ties.” Tonks said quietly.
“No, because she got out, somehow she survived. Those were not You-Know-Who’s plans! Something went wrong!” Ron said quickly.
“So maybe he’s trying to correct it. Maybe in his deranged mind he thinks that maybe by fixing his mistake he can bring his master back!” Fred said resting his forehead in his hands in exhaustion.
“Bring Voldemort back?” Lupin said in surprise. “Fred don’t-”
“I’m not saying it’s possible, but in his mind’s eye, maybe he sees this mess up that he might have made, cause the Dark Lord’s demise. So maybe he thinks that by correcting it, it’ll bring him back.”
“That’s a lot of assumptions,” Ron said sceptically.
“Well do you have a better theory because I’d like to hear it.” George said coming to his twin’s defence. Ron shrugged his shoulders, obviously not ready to take his brothers head on. George leaned back in his seat with a smug smirk on his face.
“So basing it on that, and that is a very broad base and could be one hundred percent wrong, but assuming that is what he is thinking, where would he go to try and fix it?” Tonks asked twirling around a piece of bubble gum in her mouth.
“Where can he go that can reverse things?” McGonagall asked taking her quill out from behind her ear.
“You can’t, that’s nigh impossible. He can’t fix it surely he knows that!” Tonks said in frustration.
“The man’s brilliant, he got in and out of St. Mungo’s without leaving a trace, he knows exactly what he’s doing.” Lupin reinstated. “He knows he can’t fix it.”
“That doesn’t keep him from trying,” Fred grumbled under his breath, soft enough so that no one would hear it.
“I think we should try square one,” Tonks said after a few minutes of silence.
“And that is?” Ron said a chilling bite had entered his voice. It sounded more like Malfoy than Ron.
“The Headquarters, I know we’ve been there, but that was before the kidnapping. Maybe he’s been there since.”
“He’s not,” Fred said. A few of the Order members turned to him in surprise. Fred didn’t look up from the table, couldn’t face them or face the fact again that he had failed last night.
“What makes you say that?” Lupin asked gently.
“I was there, trust me, it’s as deserted as its ever been.”
“Why did you go there?” Ron demanded possessively. Fred leaned back in his chair giving no intention on answering Ron’s demand. He almost had enough of him. Lupin nodded and he pushed the conversation forward trying to avoid an awkward confrontation. Eventually Ron lost interest in Fred’s claim and was pulled into the conversation.
Ron’s dark eyes pierced every person around the table, his anger barely contained. Maybe he thought that someone at this table was responsible and by looking into the souls of the people, he should have trusted it would reveal that. His gaze kept falling onto Fred, whose long red hair was falling over his shoulders handsomely and his gaze was nearly as dark as his own. Ron shook his head, pushing his thoughts away. Fred was his brother; being so gave Fred instant loyalty. Ron leaned back in his chair feeling a little better about the situation. Lupin was finally taking control.
The woods were quiet. Darkness surrounded the trees leaving a white mist swirling around the base of the trees. A man leaned against a large trunk of an old maple. His eyes were closed and the stillness in his face reflected the solace that the forest offered. The lines on his face shown that he had not had many of these moments and no matter what, he was going to drink in the silence and let it absorb into him until his memories disappeared.
Feeling the rough bark underneath his fingertips, he pushed himself from the tree remembering his mission. He had to guard this place, though he hardly believed that there would be anything here. No one would chance to come back here, even at their wits’ end but Lupin had ordered him here just in case something happened. He didn’t blame him, a man like him couldn’t take much action anymore; he was well past his prime. Rubbing his eyes, he stared out past the woods’ edge. He could make out the subtle objects that he was supposed to watching like a hawk. It was a graveyard where You-Know-Who was allegedly raised again.
Lifting his hands to his forehead he tried to release the headache that pounded behind his eyes. When Lupin had told him what he had to do, he felt this undeniable twinge of misery at the pit of his stomach. He didn’t want this to start again, to have someone else try to rise to power, and by the sounds of the limited information Lupin had given him, this man was powerful as hell. He hated to admit that he was scared. The last war had frightened him more than he cared to admit. He ended his livelihood because of it. He might have been known to be involved in a lot of shady activities, but any sane person would have been affected by the war. He felt like had aged twenty years because of it.
Shaking his head, he almost felt like he wanted to be part of the action instead of watching a deserted graveyard. But he had lost the trust of the Order long ago, and they only kept him in because he knew too much. He had spent too much of his life pawning off artefacts and had never given much to the Order except his allegiance that he would never join the Dark Lord. He figured that it was far better then some could say, but in twenty years, he wouldn’t be remembered as one who helped to save the world.
Walking a little closer to the gravesite, he felt an unfamiliar shudder run up his spine. Suppressing the adrenaline that kicked into his system from just walking closer to such an evil place he guffawed at himself.
“Going soft in my retired age?” He thought to himself ruefully.
He had been out of the trading business since the war, he couldn’t make himself go back, though he never would have guess that walking towards an abandoned grave site would have given him the willies.
His steps made a strange crunching sound as he walked over some rough shrubbery. Ignoring the sound, he pushed forward. Lupin had specifically told him to keep out of sight but his curiosity could not be killed. He had always been a man who had to investigate everything himself. When he was still in the business, he would have to go and check out some of the rumours about the relics for himself, he couldn’t sit around and ignore it. Though it got him into more trouble than not.
Stopping at the tree line, he looked towards the graveyard. How the graves rose out of the ground reminded him of the lost life that lay under the surface. Shaking his head again, he ran his calloused hand through his greying ginger hair. Memories of the past war flashed before his eyes and he strove to push them away. Even though he pledged his allegiance to the Order, he couldn’t help but remember that he had helped the dark side as well. Not on purpose but his line of work had given the Death Eaters a deciding boost at the beginning. Some of his relics he sold had gotten in the wrong hands and they had somehow proved useful. He felt personally responsible for Mad Eyes death, his mentor, and the one man who saved him from going over to the dark side. If he hadn’t been pawning off for years, none of those relics would have been used against them.
Pushing back his guilt once again, he moved forward. His eyes caught onto the graves’ intricate designs and architecture. The people buried here all were from high, influential families with a lot of old money. Letting his eyes caress the beauty that each grave seemed to have he thought of how much each piece could be worth. As he walked further into the graveyard, a funny feeling settled upon him. He almost felt like he was trespassing on these people’s tormented sleep.
Then he saw it. He felt the familiar need to explore this amazing relic. Letting his feet guide him through the surrounding darkness he felt transfixed upon this grave. Stopping in front of it he felt his mouth gape open, he hadn’t seen something so magnificent in his life. It was art in its darkest form. It looked like a dark angel lifting its hands to the heavens; maybe it was pleading or cursing the skies, he didn’t know. The eyes looked so real, he felt if he looked into them long enough, their fire would zap through his soul. This would be worth millions on the market. Reaching out, he let his hands touch the black and green mixed marble in an almost reverent way. There were rich emeralds and other gems mixed in with the design.
As soon as his hand touched the statue, he felt his insides quiver with an unknown fear. Withdrawing his hand quickly, he looked to see who was the guardian of this sculpture.
He let out a snort and took a calculated step back. Feeling the wind pick up he decided it was time to head back to the confines of the forest - at least that was safe. Walking further away, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle, whipping himself around ready to face anything he saw only darkness. Letting out a shaky breath, he tried to stand a little straighter. There is nothing there he told himself sternly, though he noticed that his arm hairs were standing on end from this unknown enemy.
Hearing a quiet laugh, he called for light from his wand. Twisting around he tried identifying the intruder. Seeing nothing, he moved closer to the woods where he could find cover and wait for the person to come to him.
“You can’t get away,” a soft whisper floated through the air. Turning around quickly he faced the prowler. His eyes widened as he saw the face of what he had always imagined the devil to be.
“How ill-fated are we to see this sight?” Kingsley asked softly as he stared down at the body. Lupin shook his head and turned away.
“I didn’t think anything would happen here, that’s why I gave him this place. He’s been bugging me to be involved for a while now, little did he know I sent him to his death bed.” Lupin said sadly and looked at the tree line. “He was supposed to stay in the forest and watch,”
“You know Mundungus, he’s curious. He probably saw the statues and had to check them out himself, I can only guess that he was seeing how much they were worth.” Kingsley replied.
“Its just crude, absolutely disgusting. Ginny get behind me, you don’t want to see this!” Mrs. Weasley demanded as Ginny popped into view.
“Aw Mum! I’m not a kid anymore!” She said and pushed her way through. Gasping at the sight, she couldn’t help but turn away from it. Fred walked over to his sister and wrapped his arms around her. His eyes were a stormy blue as he stared at the damage done to poor Mundungus.
“Why’d he make it look so ghastly, couldn’t he have just killed him and been done with it?” Ron asked, his face turning a sickly green.
“He wanted to make a statement,” Lupin said, rubbing the back of his neck.
“He did at that,” Tonks said. “We better get this cleaned up before the Prophet gets wind of this. That could mean the end of the Order, everyone is going to wonder why Mundungus was here.”
The group moved around Mundungus’s brutal figure. Mrs. Weasley shook her head and sniffed, even though she disliked the man, she couldn’t help but feel pity at the way he ended.
There were large gaping gashes across his body that showed his searing bright red blood as it spilled out soaking his robes a deep red. His eyes stared blankly back at them, their darkness, haunted by their last image before death. Ginny closed her eyes and leaned into Fred.
“He didn’t deserve this,” she said wiping her eyes. Fred shook his head. He knew who did this and thinking about what he could do, sickened him. To think that he had her dismayed him even more.
“Guys, come take a look at this,” Kingsley said. His voice was grave and a hint of remorse laced his words.
In the grass a few feet away, a few words were spelled out with fire. Their meaning was clear and sinister.
‘You will never find her, and those who try shall suffer the same fate.’
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