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Chapter 28 : What Needs To Be Done
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Ron’s steps echoed loudly throughout the empty hallway, the heels of his shoes hitting the marble floor with a high-pitch staccato ‘stomp’. The fact that he was moving quickly only made the repetitive sound seem even louder and he was slowly getting annoyed by it, among other things. For the past half-an-hour, he had been looking for his father and was coming up blank at every turn. The fact that the Weasley house could actually be considered a mansion – with hidden rooms and self-changing stairways – did little to help his search and certainly did not help in improving his slowly deteriorating mood.
He took a deep sigh, trying his best to calm down. He had come here with a specific goal in mind and he could not complete it successfully if his nerves were already tingled to the point of exasperation. Once halfway down the hall, he came to a stop and gazed around, listening for any telltale signs of life. There was none – no movements, no sounds – nothing.
Ron made to turn around when he heard a door open, footsteps quickly following. He spun back around to see his hefty brother walking towards him.
He nodded. “Hello, Ron.”
The two fell into an uncomfortable silence. Ron studied his brother. Charlie looked tired, his eyes were bleary and his shoulders were slumped, as though in defeat. He also looked as though he hadn’t slept properly in quite a while and Ron wondered what was wrong with him. Charlie was never one to fret over anything. He was usually calm and rational and even if something was bothering him, he would talk about it and then let it go. This person standing before him was nothing like the brother he knew and it worried Ron.
“Are you alright, bro?” Ron asked, arching his eyebrow.
Charlie folded his arms across his chest and cleared his throat. “I’m fine, Ron.”
Ron nodded, not fully believing him. “Did, er, did Fred and George talk to you?” he inquired, remembering that he had asked his older twin brothers to try and persuade Charlie to their side.
Charlie’s eyes darkened. “They tried, and I’m going to tell you like I told them, Ron.” He stepped closer to his brother and lowered his voice. “It’s best to just leave it all alone. You’re only digging yourself into a deeper hole by pursuing this mess.”
Ron stepped back and folded his arms. “Look, Charlie, what we’re doing is trying to put a stop to all of this.”
“You’re only going to get yourself killed, Ron,” Charlie spat back. “My advice to you is to get out while you can, before it’s too late.” He turned towards the stairs and started downwards.
“Is there something you know that we don’t, Charlie?” Ron asked, causing his brother to stop and look up at him. “Because if there is, maybe you should tell us. It might help.”
Ron watched as Charlie stared at him. He could almost see the cogs setting to work in Charlie’s brain and it only made him suspicious. Did Charlie know something? And if he did, why was he holding back?
“Like I said, Ron,” Charlie answered after a few silent minutes, “it’s best to just let it go.” Before Ron could say anything, Charlie disappeared down the stairs.
Breathing another sigh, Ron turned back towards the stairwell and climbed the twenty-steps which lead to the next level. He’d have to worry about Charlie and his elusiveness later, when he didn’t have other concerns.
Once on the next landing, his mood brightened immediately when he realized where he was. It was the fifth floor of the house – a section better known as ‘Arthur’s Sanctuary’. There were only four rooms on the level, each massive in size and set for a specific purpose; they were also kept strictly for Arthur’s use and his use only. If his father was indeed still in the house, it would definitely be in one of these rooms.
Ron stepped up to the first door and knocked gently. No one responded but he opened the door anyway and peered inside. It was Arthur’s bedroom. The space was about the size of a small flat, but was minimally decorated and furnished. There was a double-king-sized bed perched in the middle of the floor. Long curtains hung closed over the triple window, dangling all the way to the ground. There were three wardrobes placed strategically against the walls and another door led to the adjoining bathroom. This door stood ajar, allowing Ron to see inside. It, along with the bedroom itself, showed no sings of Arthur’s presence.
Moving on, Ron quickly opened the second door which led to Arthur’s library and study. The place was in complete darkness, the only light shining in from the hallway. He was not in there either. The third door, Ron did not even bother to open. It was Arthur’s private room. He knew from his childhood that no one but Arthur could get inside – not because it was forbidden but simply because no one else could get inside. The room was heavily protected with a spell that could only be diffused by Arthur’s touch. Ron walked past the door, praying that his father was not inside their either, or else there would be no way of getting him.
Finally, he stopped in front of the last door and stood there for a few seconds listening for any signs. He was quickly rewarded when a muffled ‘boom’ echoed. He raised his eyes to the ceiling in gratitude and then slowly opened the door. He peered inside, his eyes resting on his father immediately. Arthur was standing in the middle of the room, his forehead beaded with sweat, his overcoat strewn a few feet away and his wand brandished skillfully in his hand. Ron watched as a spell shot forth from the tip and bounded towards a mirror; it ricocheted and curved, heading straight for him.
Ron quickly released his wand from his pocket and yelled, “Protego!” The spell landed against his shield and quickly evaporated, losing its power.
“It’s good to know your reflexes have not dulled.” Arthur’s voice resonated deeply throughout the room as he spoke. Then, without turning to look at his son, he asked, “What are you doing here, Ronald?”
Ron looked at his father for a few quiet seconds and then stepped fully inside the room. He closed the door behind him and then peered around, sinking in the sights of his father’s ‘Dueling Chamber’. The room was perfectly rectangular and heavily equipped with whatever one needed to practice – makeshift dummies, cushions for softer landings and simulated dueling scenarios activated by a simple spell. Mirrors also lined the walls, used both for visuals of one’s stances and for rebounding spells so one could practice quick dodging as well as shield charms. There were also a few benches placed around the perimeter for watching.
Jamming his wand back into his pocket, Ron answered his father. “I came to see you, dad.”
“You were gone for so long, son, that I thought you had run off for good,” Arthur said, finally looking up.
Ron sighed. “I just needed some time to think.”
Arthur nodded and turned towards a dummy, charming it so that it rolled forward. Ron watched, deciding that it was high time to put their plan into action. He had to get on his father’s side and then convince him to agree to accompany him. If he could get Arthur to Ginny, then they could stall long enough for Harry to bring James.
“What are you planning, dad?” Ron asked, taking a few steps forward.
“Stupefy!” The dummy that was rolling towards Arthur halted and tipped over. “What makes you think I’m planning something?” Arthur asked in response to Ron’s question.
“Don’t bother and evade the topic,” Ron replied, taking a seat in one of the benches. “Ginny told us everything about you and Lily and about your plans to let Mr. Potter come after you.”
Arthur froze, his wand aimed at the dummy’s chest. He turned his head sideways towards Ron. “And you’ve come to what? Discourage me from doing so like she did?” He dropped his hand and turned completely around.
Ron shook his head, much to his father’s surprise. “I’ve come to tell that I want to join you.”
“No,” Arthur answered without hesitance. “I have to do this alone. This is my fight.”
“What makes you think you have to do this alone?” Ron asked, as calmly as he could.
“I’ve put myself in this predicament,” Arthur replied, placing his wand back into his pocket. “So I and I alone, deserve to suffer the consequences.” He sighed and lowered his voice. “And your sister thinks the same thing,” he added, remembering Ginny’s last words to him: 'You deserve exactly what you get.'
“Nothing you say is going to deter me,” Ron said, standing up. “I’m coming with you whether you want me to or not.”
Arthur stared at his son. His expression was unreadable but in his mind, he was shocked. Although he knew Ron was never one to back down from a fight, he was also never one to step forward willingly. “It’s funny, Ron,” he finally said, coming out of his reverie, “but I never got the impression that you appreciated what I did.”
Ron shrugged and looked away. “Things change and so do people.” Then he looked back at his father. “I just want to do what’s right. And I also want you to accept my help, whether you think you need it or not.”
Arthur turned away but Ron could still see his face, via the reflection in the mirror. He looked as though he was suffering from an internal battle. And, if everything Ginny had said about his past was true, he probably was.
“Despite what you may think,” Ron continued, walking to his father and placing a hand on his shoulder, “Ginny wants to help as well.”
Arthur spun to look at Ron, his eyebrow arched. “The same Ginny who told me I shouldn’t do this?”
“She just doesn’t think you should risk your life when there are other people who want to help.” Ron dropped his hand. “She wants you to come see her in the morning, dad. Could you at least do that one thing?”
‘Why does she want to see me?’ Arthur contemplated. It’s not like they were on any real amicable terms. Ginny despised the things he did. The last time they talked, she had practically told him that he deserved to be vanquished by James for all his misdeeds. He sighed and closed his eyes. An overwhelming feeling washed over him. All his life he has been suffering losses; first Lily, Molly and then his own daughter. Lily and Molly were gone forever but Ginny was still alive, which meant there was still a chance to redeem their relationship. It was a strong regret, allowing Ginny to disappear from his life. He loved her like any father loved his daughter and it hurt that she hated him so. Maybe there was a chance to change all of that.
“Alright,” he said, nodding curtly. “I will go with you to see Ginny tomorrow.”
Ron smiled, glad that he had managed to get through to his father. They had to be careful from here on in, though. Any miscalculations on their part and James and Arthur might end up killing each other before anything is settled. As they exited the Dueling Chamber, Ron silently prayed that Harry had been as successful. Without James’ agreement, their plan was pretty much pointless.
Luna groaned as she felt her body regain consciousness, all of her senses slowly returning. A rank smell filled her nostrils, causing her to choke and cough involuntarily. She sneezed violently from the stench and her eyes fluttered open. For a split second, she thought that her eyelids had not obeyed to the command sent by her brain due to the thick darkness that lingered; there was no light at all inside the room, the only beam coming from outside the room itself.
She closed her eyes and sighed, leaning her head back a little too hard that she slammed it against the wall behind her. Cursing, she opened her eyes again and pulled her head back up gingerly. She tried to raise her hand to rub it but stopped short when she realized that she couldn’t. Her hands were chained tightly to pipes on either side of her. When she noticed this, she tried to focus her mind and take stock of her situation. Not only were her hands bound, but her ankles were also tied together and it was then that she realized she was standing.
‘What the hell happened?’ she thought, trying to figure out her situation. ‘And where the hell am I?’
It was then that the events of the night came back to her. She remembered the darkness and the explosion that had sent her flying into the island in the middle of the kitchen. After that, everything was a complete blur. But she didn’t need to remember anything else to know what was going on. She had been captured and was probably about to pay dearly for her disloyalty. She had no idea what her brother and father could possibly have in store for her but knowing their level of cruelness, it was not going to be anything quick and painless.
“Ah,” a voice rang from the other side of the door. “I see you’re finally awake.”
Luna lifted her head towards the door just as the lock clicked. Light streamed inside as the person pulled the door fully open. Luna was expecting to see a familiar face – maybe Lucius or Draco – and so was surprised when an unfamiliar cloaked figure walked in. She could not see their face but their stance was hunched. She guessed it was one of her father’s many henchmen come to escort her to her real place of punishment.
Wordlessly, the man unchained her hands and feet and then yanked her away from the wall. She rubbed at her wrists as blood rushed back into her hand. The relief did not last long, however, as the person aimed their wand at her hand and uttered, “Incarcerous!”, binding her wrists together. He then grabbed her by her elbow and pulled her towards the exit. The door shut with a loud ‘bang’ as they made their way down the hall.
Luna could hear her breathing echo in her ears as they exited the dungeons and entered the main house. A sort of calming feeling rushed over her as she noticed she was at least back on familiar territory – her own home. The feeling was short-lived, however, as she began to wonder what was going to happen to her. Would they forgive her and make her return to her slave status? Would they question her about her whereabouts? Force her to tell them everything about Ginny those? Would they torture her into madness, forcing her to live the rest of her life in a deranged state? Each scenario seemed worse than the one before and by the time they arrived in front of a set of double doors (which Luna guessed was their destination), she already had the image of her death involving maniacal laughter, a rampaging herd of hippogriffs and dismantled body parts.
Without even bothering to open the door, the man pushed Luna inside; her weight forced the doors open and she landed in a heap as they clanged shut behind her. She clambered gracelessly to her knees and looked up. The room, she recognized, was the old ballroom. It was empty, however. There were no chairs, tables or other furniture about. The only things that remained of the old were the marble floors and the massive chandelier.
“It’s so good of you to join us, Luna.”
The blonde-haired girl turned her attention to the front of the room, her blue eyes resting on the four figures standing there. One of them was fully cloaked such that she could not see his face; she could still discern that he was tall and relatively, thin, though, and had a commanding, albeit hidden, presence. Two of them she recognized immediately as her brother and father. Lucius, with his long blonde-hair pulled into a low ponytail, sneered menacingly at her with cold eyes. Draco stood next to him, his hands in his black trouser pockets. He seemed different, however. His normally confident and proud stature was reduced to a some-what timid one and his eyes were fleeting, looking at her and then quickly away, as though he blamed himself for her situation.
Although she did not know the last person, she still felt a level of fear creep up her spine as she studied him. He was hunched but still stood a few feet above the other three men. His eyes were bloodshot and menacing; his teeth, exposed due to his snarling mouth, were yellow and jagged; his face was covered in matted hair. A part of her instantly discerned him to be a werewolf – there was such an animalistic gleam to him that it was hard to miss. When she realized this, she immediately knew who he was. Fenrir Greyback. His purpose there may have, at first, been unclear but she knew that the reason he there was undoubtedly her. Her heart beat escalated and her breathing became frantic and panicked.
The person underneath the cloak spoke. “I see you recognize our executioner,” he said, waving his arm casually to Greyback who chuckled and then grinned before making his way towards her.
Luna found herself begging as she tried to push herself backwards. “No, please! Please, don’t.” Tears swelled and a sob escaped as Greyback stepped directly in front of her, obscuring her vision.
He bent down to her and sniffed her hair, then her neck. “You’re a pretty little one, aren’t you?” he whispered, although it rang loudly within the carnivorous space. “Ah, yes,” he added, fingering her chin, “you shall be a delight to…have.”
Luna blanched at his ambiguous words. She didn’t even want to know if he meant sexually or cannibalistically, neither option was to her liking.
“Greyback,” the cloaked-figure spoke again. “All in due time.”
The werewolf gave a reluctant nod and stepped aside. The cloaked figure then took a few steps forward.
“Dear little Luna,” he said, with a tsk-tsk. “We never met before today but I had always hoped that we would. Your father spoke so highly of you. Said that you were loyal, trustworthy and knew your place, never asking questions.” He began pacing. “I had such high hopes for you, you know. I wanted to bring you in to our ranks, let you see the glorious life that could be yours.” He stopped pacing and stared at her. Although she could not see his eyes, the piercing gaze still bore through her like a thousand knives. “But you had to go behind all of our backs,” he continued, “and run to those fools.” He paused and a heavy silence filled the room. “Crucio!”
A force so strong shot through Luna’s body and she keeled over. Her muscles began to spasm violently and screams erupted from her lips as her body quaked with unbearable pain. And then suddenly, the force was gone. She rolled to her side and was then pulled roughly back onto her knees. Her face was stained with tears and her breathing was heavy.
“It’s such a shame that it has come to this,” the man said, his voice going suddenly soft as he caressed his wand. “But treachery deserves punishment, my dear, and you have committed the worst of all treasons. You have gone behind the backs of your own family, revealing who they are to the enemy and, by extension, revealing myself. Something as vile as that deserves to be punished.”
Luna tried to brace herself for the inevitable. Sure enough, she heard the incantation for the Torture Curse burst from his lips and the force hit her body once more, causing her to double over. The pain seemed worse this time. Her lungs felt as though they were being crushed; her heart felt like someone had grabbed it and was squeezing the last bit of life from it. Her body twitched and flailed and then lay still as the curse was lifted once more. She was roughly pulled to her feet; she could barely stand as her body shook violently with racking sobs.
She felt a hand trail across her cheek and opened her eyes. The cloaked figure was standing in front of her, but his face was no longer hidden. He had a slim, perfectly chiseled face. His eyes were a slightly deep blue and small, almost indiscernible freckles dotted the edge of his nose and the corners of his eyes. His hair was smoothed back from his forehead and came to rest a few inches shy of his shoulder. But it wasn’t the style of his hair or even the length that caught Luna’s attention and caused her breath to catch in her throat. It was the color: a shockingly vibrant and vivid red.
She did not have time to contemplate this, however, as the man’s wandless hand grasped the back of her neck and wrenched her face forward, crashing her lips against his. She tried to push back as best she could, what with her hands still tied, but he only wrapped his other arm around her back, pinning her body against his. His lips were strong and hard against hers and the pressure of the kiss made Luna feel as though her teeth were being pushed into the back of her head. He forced her mouth open and then stuck his tongue inside, jabbing it against hers as she tried her best to curve it away.
Suddenly, he pushed her away with an angry scream and then slapped her, causing her to stumble and fall to her knees. She touched her cheek and looked up at him as he stared disbelievingly at her. He opened his mouth and gingerly touched the tip of his tongue. He brought his hand up and looked at his fingers, his nostril flaring at what he saw. Blood. Luna had bitten him.
He squatted in front of her and grabbed her by her chin, squeezing tightly. “I was going to be nice and go easy on you later,” he said, bringing her face closer to his, “but you’re little antic is only going to make it rough.”
She widened her eyes at the implication and he chuckled, glad she understood his words. He stood up and shot a charm towards the door. It opened and the hunched figure that had brought her to the room entered.
“Take her to the designated room and tie her to the bed,” the red-haired man said. Then he looked at Luna as she was forced to her feet. “I’ll be seeing you in a few minutes.”
Luna stared at him and then quickly averted her eyes to her brother and father. They had stood completely silent and motionless throughout the entire ordeal and she wondered if their presence was more so for extra embarrassment than anything else. She couldn’t fight the pleading glance that took over her features as she was pulled from the room. And, right before the door closed, she could have sworn she saw an apologetic look cross Draco’s face.
Back inside the room, Percy turned back to Draco and Lucius. “She’s quite a handful, isn’t she?”
“Begging your pardon, sir,” Greyback said, hobbling over. “But I thought that I was going to have her.”
Percy stared at the werewolf and then glanced up at the door. He could just see Luna disappearing around the corner through the glass at the top of the door and felt a movement shoot through his loins. He had originally intended to hand Luna over to Fenrir after reprimanding her but upon seeing her, his desires had quickly switched from vengeance to one of lechery. He had no idea why, but he was not about to deny his manly urges.
“You will, Greyback,” he finally said, still staring at the door. “Right after I’m done with her.”
Charlie stared up at the sky. The starless blanket of darkness covered him and he stared into it before switching his gaze to the nearly full moon. The night usually had a calming affect on him. He had no idea why, though. There was just something about it that made him feel at peace. But this night was different. He was on edge and far from being calm.
He sighed and looked back down, his eyes falling to the concrete of the walkway. An unwanted sense of foreboding crept up his bones and, as much as he tried to will it away, it remained there – constant and nagging. He tried to act as though he didn’t know why the feeling lingered but he couldn’t deny the truth. He knew exactly why he felt worried.
He finally arrived at the tiny gazebo in the backyard and took a seat. He stared up at the house, looking from window to window. A few lights shone upstairs and in the downstairs in the kitchen, but other than that, the house looked virtually devoid of life. He sighed again and looked back up at the sky. There wasn’t much to look at but it didn’t stop his wandering eyes. Besides, his mind was too far away to contemplate what he was seeing. The conversation with his brother earlier came crashing to his mind, guilt accompanying it. Ron had been right. He did know something that no one else knew, something that could very well help Ron’s cause along. But what was he supposed to do about that? Ron’s word echoed in response: ‘Maybe you should tell us.'
‘I can’t,’ Charlie thought, running his hands through his hair.
Telling everyone the truth might do more harm than good. But he couldn’t very well sit back and do nothing either. It was not like him. Just then, another set of words flourished in his mind: ‘You’d do best to not tell anyone. I’ve already made a mistake coming here; don’t make me have to correct that by getting rid of you.’
Charlie shuddered as the voice died away. Despite it happening so many years ago, that day still lingered vividly and unwelcomed in his mind. It was the day that everything changed for the worse, when that man had come and gone, leaving fear and suspicion in his wake. He knew the threat was not an empty one. The man had known how to find them then and he would undoubtedly know how to find them now. He had heard fluttering rumours of the man’s death many years ago but his entire life had taught him to take nothing at face value. The man could still be very much alive, well hidden somewhere and awaiting the ripe opportunity before coming back into the open and wiping them all out.
‘But you hold the key to preventing that, Charlie,’ a voice inside of his head stated pleadingly and Charlie knew it was his conscience eating away at him, telling him the right move to make.
“‘Maybe I should reveal the truth,’ he finally conceded with a soft sigh. “Keeping this knowledge buried any longer would only plague me with guilt for the rest of my life.”
Keeping his eyes focused on the gazebo railing, Charlie removed his wand from his pocket. He quickly conjured a small vile and held it in his hand. Then, he placed the tip of his wand to his forehead and closed his eyes. He concentrated on the memory, allowing it to swim to the forefront of his mind. He muttered the incantation and then slowly pulled his wand away, a strand of silvery substance coming away with it. He lowered the memory into the vile and then pocketed it, exhaling a breath he did not know he had been holding.
Then, standing, Charlie dug his hands deep into his pockets and pulled out a small folded piece of parchment. He opened it and then lit his wand, shining the light on the words. It was the same instructions Ron had given to Fred and George earlier that night, leading them to where Ginny was with the rest of their team. He had been idling walking by when he overheard Ron telling the twins what they needed to know and then giving them the paper. A quick summoning, copying and return charm when no one was looking afforded him a duplicate. At the time, he had not known what possessed him to do it; maybe it was some divine interference that knew he would be making this decision that compelled him. Or maybe he knew deep down that it was the right thing.
Charlie quickly read the words and then folded the paper back, returning it to his pocket. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning on the spot, disapparating into the night.
A/N: I think all of my wonderful readers will be happy to know that the chapters will be coming out quicker now because I've actually finished it. I'm soooo proud ^_^.
But - and I hate to have to ask - can those reading please be so kind as to leave reviews? Even though I'm done, I'd still like your feedback so if there's anything you like/dislike, I can make the necessary adjustments and changes. I would just really like to know what you guys think of each chapter and the story as a whole. And it's sad to say but I've been a bit disappointed by the number of reviews (Although I do truly appreciate those who've taken the time to tell me what you think). So, please, if you read it and like it or even if you hate it, let me know. It really helps with the overall presentation of the story. :)
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