Anna awoke the next morning with a sharp pain in her neck. Groaning, she massaged it gently while rising slowly from her uncomfortable position, only to find that she was not alone. There on her leg was another, clad in black stockings; this leg, she discovered a few seconds later, belonged to Daphne Greengrass who was currently fast asleep on the other side of the emerald green couch.
Furrowing her brow, she looked around the room carefully to find the others there as well; Millicent was sitting in a squashy armchair next to the couch with Theodore resting comfortably on the ground next to her. The two lumpy forms on either sides of a table were Crabbe and Goyle, while Blaise lay spread eagle on the ground in front of Anna and Daphne, using one of the cushions as a pillow.
Anna seemed oblivious to how they got there especially since half of them were not speaking to her. Sighing, she carefully untangled her legs from Daphne’s and set them on the ground in front of her. The last thing she remembered was Blaise running over to her to tell her that Narcissa Malfoy was dead; everything that followed was a blur.
Looking around the room again, she noticed a thumbed copy of the Evening Prophet on the table between Crabbe and Goyle. Trying not to step on Blaise, she treaded carefully on the carpet towards the table. The headline read “Narcissa Malfoy Found Dead”, under that was a picture of the dark mark hanging menacingly over Malfoy Manor. Immediately, last night’s all came rushing back to her.
They had trudged into the Common Room individually, first Anna, then Blaise and the others seemed to follow suit. Goyle brought the copy of the newspaper he’d gotten just after his class had ended and threw it down on the table that now stood in the middle of them all. Anna and Blaise were sitting quietly on the couch by the time the others had arrived, both staring off into space fighting unshed tears.
Daphne sat between Blaise and Anna while the others found seats near by. There was nothing that could be said then, nothing at all that could possibly ease the shock that was so evident on their faces. Anyone in any other house could now stand triumphant at the fact that the cracks were starting to show and the mighty had fallen and fallen hard.
“I don’t understand,” said Millicent Bulstrode from the armchair, nervously stroking her cat’s fur.
“That would be the understatement of the century, Millie,” Theodore muttered darkly from next to her.
“But she was a Malfoy,” Millicent continued, “she was one of us for Circe’s Sake!”
“And she was killed by one of us too,” Blaise muttered.
“Can you pass the paper?” Anna asked quietly from her spot on the couch. It was the first time she had spoken since Blaise broke the news to her.
“Narcissa Malfoy, née Black, wife of convicted Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, was found dead in her home in the early hours of this afternoon. She was discovered by the Aurors who had come in response to reports of Dark Mark sightings in the Wiltshire area. Further investigations were to be carried out which would provide more evidence to Mrs Malfoy’s murder but as soon as her body was removed from the Manor, it sealed itself up.
“It has completely sealed, air tight even,” commented one senior Ministry official, “we couldn’t even get through the main gate.”
This has been the third major death this year and in light of the recent breakout from Azkaban Fortress, Aurors were keeping a sharp look out for any suspicious activity around the homes of the fugitives.
“The most ironic thing about this whole thing,” said one Auror, “is the Dark Mark hovering over the house of a convicted Death Eater; it’s like they’re turning on one another other now.”
While several things still remain unclear, this murder is only the beginning; as it seems, this is a war with a wicked twist.
Anna frowned as she let her arm drop with the paper still clenched in her fist. The others around her shared her confused look but Blaise was the only one who found the will to voice this.
“What the hell do they mean by turning on each other?” he asked, looking very annoyed, “what reason would the families have by doing something like that?”
Theodore, Goyle and Crabbe nodded in agreement while Daphne shook her head.
“Would they really do that?” Blaise looked at Anna, then to the other boys sitting there.
She knew why he looked at the four of them, they were all Death Eater children or at least deeply involved with others who were. If it were anyone who would know how to answer such a question it would be them but it never meant that they actually would.
“I don’t know,” Anna answered after a moment’s silence, Theodore shrugged while Crabbe and Goyle said nothing at all, “Lucius Malfoy would have to have done something horrible.”
“Wait,” Daphne’s head snapped up immediately, looking around at them, “what did he get put into Azkaban for in the first place, him and your fathers?”
A terse line formed in Crabbe’s jaw, while Goyle stared across at the wall. Theodore raised his eyebrows at Daphne and sighed.
“What?” Daphne asked as she stood from her seat, “don’t tell me you’re not allowed to talk about it?”
When they did not answer, she groaned in frustration and turned on Anna.
“Oh come on, Anna,” she pleaded.
“For Merlin’s sake, Daphne, it was all over the Prophet for months,” she snapped, “I’d guess it’d be the fact that they broke into the Department of Mysteries dressed in Death Eater robes would be enough!”
“Anna,” Blaise shot her a warning glance.
“I’m sorry, Daphne,” Anna muttered flatly.
Biting her lip, Anna walked slowly across the room to the stairs and sat on them, hugging her knees tightly. The room had fallen silent yet again and its occupants wearing grim expressions. She wanted to make sense of this situation but she couldn’t; it affected every pureblood on the Dark Lord’s side of the war. If they all were turning on one another it meant that most of them were running around with their heads cut off, panicking like there was no tomorrow.
“Suppose it wasn’t one of us,” Millicent asked softly, bringing them all out of their thoughts.
“What do you mean?” Blaise asked her curiously.
“Suppose it was a copycat, someone out to get the Malfoys but placing the blame on another Death Eater?”
Anna shook her head, “But that could be anyone, Lucius Malfoy isn’t a very popular man in this country now.”
“Not many of us are.” Theodore answered coolly.
“Mr Malfoy or Draco doing that would seem out of the question too, wouldn’t it?” Daphne wondered aloud, while receiving cold glares from the others.
“Suppose it was,” Millicent began.
“Suppose it was what?” Blaise asked, looking up across from her.
“Never mind, it’s stupid anyway.” Millicent shook her head vigorously.
Anna eyed her carefully, by the look on Millie’s face; it was obvious who else she considered to be Narcissa Malfoy’s murderer. As Millicent caught Anna’s eye, her face turned slightly pink which confirmed Anna’s suspicions. It as much as it was unheard of considering the Dark Lord as a murderer of one of his own, it was unheard of for one of his own to actually say it without having his tongue ripped out.
Anna lightly tapped her thigh with the now worn newspaper as she looked around the room with a frown. Millicent was not the only one who suspected Lord Voldemort for killing Mrs. Malfoy but it would not be in her best interest to say anything. In times like these, one had to be wary of what was said, especially in a den of snakes; two of whom she suspected were sporting the brand on their left arms.
“Anna?” came a hoarse voice from below her, “Anna, are you alright?”
She looked down to meet Blaise’s sleepy gaze, “Did I wake you?”
He shook his head, “No, it’s fine, I was thinking I should go up to bed anyway,”
“Ah,” she nodded, looking away from him.
“What about you?”
Her tapping ceased as she threw the paper on the table, “I need to find Professor Slughorn, I want to go home.”
The walk to Slughorn’s office seemed to be shorter than it really was, after leaving the Common Room in a daze. Narcissa Malfoy’s death still left her reeling and she could not understand why someone from this side would want to kill one of their own. Who else could it be? She was sure that no one from the light would dare to summon the dark mark without good reason and in their opinion, there was none. The newspapers were right; this war is taking a nasty turn.
Nearing the door to Slughorn’s office, the voices from within made her more attuned to her surroundings. As she paused at the door, strangely enough, the voices paused too.
“Come in, Miss Rosier,” came Slughorn’s tired voice from the other side.
Anna pushed the door open quickly to see Slughorn at his desk with a thumbed copy of the Daily Prophet in front of him while Mad-Eye Moody leaned against the wall with his arms folded tightly across his chest, wearing a thoughtful expression.
“Good morning,” she said, giving them a stiff nod, “I didn’t know you were in a meeting so early Professor Slughorn, perhaps I should come back later,”
“No,” Moody said gruffly, “we’re done here for now. I realised that you missed my detention, by the way, Rosier.”
“That I did Professor but I lost track of time, considering the circumstances,”
“Of course,” Moody’s magical eye swivelled slowly in its socket, assessing her form, “I could see that.” he answered finally, then nodded to Slughorn before shuffling through the door.
Anna looked down at her dishevelled form and shrugged as the door clicked behind her, “Professor, I know it’s early but I really need to go-”
“Home?” he finished for her.
“Yes, but,” she stammered, looking completely taken aback, “how did you know?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me, considering the circumstances,” he answered holding up a small envelope between two fingers, “besides, your grandfather wrote to me this morning, requesting a temporary leave of absence on your behalf, for today and most of tomorrow; it appears that your mother has taken ill.”
“What?” Anna snatched the letter from his hand. As she read each line, she sank slowly until she fell awkwardly into a chair in front of the desk.
“My guess is that she hasn’t taken the death of Mrs Malfoy well,” said Slughorn, sympathetically, while Anna nodded, “your grandfather will be meeting you in Hogsmeade at six, so that gives you an hour to prepare.”
“Right,” Anna muttered, “Thanks Professor.”
Without waiting for his reply, she quietly left his office and made her way up to her dormitory to pack a few things; the Common Room, she noticed, was empty. Upstairs, she pulled a small suitcase from under her bed and began to pack. Looking around, she saw that all of the beds were made; it seemed that everyone had disappeared. Her gaze rested on Pansy’s bed and she winced; bad things just kept happening and she highly doubted that they would stop.
The cold, biting draught that usually frequented the dormitory on a cold December morning, rose up and smothered her. With one hand clutching her chest and the other gripping a bed post, she sucked in a breath and coughed bitterly all the while wondering why she ever liked when it was cold.
Wrapping her scarf around her neck, she took up her bag and walked back down to the Common Room where the others rose to meet her.
“You look like hell, Rosier,” said Blaise, enveloping her in a hug.
“We heard you were going home,” Daphne said quietly, with a small smile, “are you alright?”
Anna sighed, “My mum isn’t well, so my grandfather is meeting me in Hogsmeade to take me home.”
“When are you leaving?” Theodore drew close behind her.
“Then let us come with you,” Theodore suggested.
“No,” Anna shook her head trying to reassure them, “it’s fine, and I’ll be fine,”
“Will you, really?” Theodore asked her, gingerly brushing her hair out of her face, his fingers lingering on her cheek.
Seemingly unaffected by this gesture, she could sense a bit of his usual sarcasm in his tone and by the smirk forming on his lips, she was right, “You are very mean, Nott,” she whispered to him before turning away.
“At least let Blaise go with you,” he pressed, trying to suppress a smile at her last comment to him.
If anyone had told her a few days ago that the seventh year Slytherins would be standing here with her just for support, she would’ve laughed but here they were- a united front. It was really a shame how bad things brought people together again. With a little more persuasion on their part, Anna finally relented and allowed Blaise to accompany her to Hogsmeade. If she were to look back as she left the Common Room, she would’ve seen Theodore Nott staring intently at her but she did not; Blaise, however, did.
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