Chapter 13 : An Open Window
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“We were there,” she whispered, her voice so soft that Teddy thought he must be the only one to hear it. “We heard the knocking, remember? I laughed, said they were just trying to annoy us…we turned the music up.”
Teddy squeezed her hand tighter as he struggled to control his own emotions. He was reeling from the guilt of the memory. Molly’s disappearance that next day had etched every moment of the night with Victoire permanently in his mind. Every look and touch, the pattern her hair made across the pillow, every sigh stood out like it had happened yesterday, not eight years ago.
“That’s the real sin then, isn’t it?” Hugo mused, “lust and neglect.”
Teddy dropped his head, and Victoire cried harder.
Dominique wanted to apologize to her sister, for the grief she was causing her, but the words never came.
Rose cleared her throat timidly, wiping away her own tears with the back of her hand. “What did you do next?”
Lysander spoke this time. “Dominique went to clear—“
“—To clear out Molly’s room,” Teddy finished. “She forgot the journal; I found it. You must of worn Molly’s shoes, there weren’t any odd footprints or fingerprints around.”
Dominique flinched away from Teddy’s thinly veiled anger.
Lysander nodded, “We met back at the beach, and transfigured the body and the trunk into rocks and tossed them into the sea.”
People shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Dominique and Lysander looked at no one, not even each other.
“And Lorcan?” Teddy inquired, “he knew too?”
“No,” Lysander jumped in and countered forcibly to defend his brother. “I modified his memory and told him he drank too much when he asked me what happened.” He dropped his face into his hands and then ran them through his hair, concern for his brother weighing on him more than anything.
“That was really dangerous,” Rose said, “to modify his memory without being qualified.”
Dexter raised an eyebrow at her. “That’s the part of the story you consider ‘dangerous’?” He sneered.
Rose glared at him and was about to retort when James laughed mirthlessly from the corner.
Everyone looked at him, their own incredulity matched in his face. “This is just too much,” he moaned, disbelief, anger, and revulsion fighting for control of him. “I’m leaving.” He stood and walked towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Several voices asked at once.
He didn’t look back at them when he spoke. “I’m heading back up to owlery. Mum and Dad are going…well, they’re going to want to know what’s happened.” With that he left, presumably to begin his ascent to the attic owlery.
Silence reigned again.
Teddy and Albus seemed to be having a silent conversation from across the room. Finally, Al sighed and announced that he was going to the owlery as well, to help his brother.
"Is...is this all happening because of that then?" Someone asked breaking the soundlessness. Dominique looked up to see it was Scorpius speaking. "Because of what you did?"
She flinched at the accusation in his voice.
"No," Rose argued, countering her boyfriend, "we don't know that for sure."
Dexter found this the perfect moment to interject. "Well, obviously someone else knows besides you two if it was in the letter."
"Yeah, but somebody knows something about all of us!" Lysander retorted angrily, "every letter contained a transgression, one that was worthy of seeking revenge for."
"I'd say murder is trumps, though, wouldn't you?" Dexter argued right back, his voice growing stronger knowing he had the upper hand. "Maybe your sin was a catalyst for someone to go looking into the rest of our lives."
Lysander opened and closed his mouth soundlessly, apparently at a loss for words.
"What does it matter why this is happening?" Brian mumbled hopelessly from the piano where he remained staring at his wife. "The result is still the same. So much loss..."
Teddy's frown deepened as he stared after his friend; he could only imagine the kind of pain he was in. He would give anything to have that not happen to him, and he pulled Victoire a little closer to his side.
Dexter thought about Brian's comment for a moment before replying, "Because it gives us an idea of who to suspect."
Rose looked like she wanted to argue, but instead bowed her head in conceit.
"Are you trying to say it was my sister, Dex? That she's the one responsible, the one who is doing all of this?" Victoire interrogated in a dangerously low voice.
"Yeah," he replied cavalierly, as though it were the most obvious thing.
"How dare you!" She chastised, "We don't know anything for sure, and you want to go around pointing fingers when we should be working together."
"People are dying, it might be time to buck up and face the truth about your family, Princess."
"You want to talk about family?" Dominique inquired, "Why don't we start talking about who isn't family here. Like you, Dex. Related to anyone you see?"
"Wait, because I'm not a Weasley-Potter, I'm suspect!" Dex defended, stabbing himself in the chest dramatically. "I'm sorry, but how much can family really mean to a girl who murders her cousin or a pair of brothers who beat the shit out of each other, huh?"
"Family means a lot to us," Hugo added, glaring at Dexter, "but it doesn't mean we always get a long!"
"Listen to yourselves!" He cried wildly, "You're looking at a murderer--look at her! And you still won't see what's right in front of you!"
"I'd highly suggest shutting up now, Dex," Teddy shouted, warning in his voice. "No one honestly thinks its you just because you're not family. Malfoy isn't family either and no one is pointing the finger at him. Were just all on edge right now be-because of everything, so if we could all just sit down!" He added as several people had jumped to their feet and drawn wands during the course of the discussion.
“Now, none of us really know what’s going on,” he continued as everyone shuffled into a seat. “What we do know is that Lorcan, Lucy, and possibly Louis are missing. We do not know that they have been kil—“
Teddy’s words were cut off as shouting and heavy thuds sounded from upstairs. Everyone held their breath as they listened to the distant sound of snapping wood, followed by an even louder thud that shook the room.
“James. Albus,” Teddy breathed, as he raced out of the parlor, Hugo and the others hot on his heels.
“WAIT!” He heard Rose call from behind them. They paused and turned to watch her. “If we leave, we should all leave. We shouldn’t be splitting up.”
“Agreed. Now, let’s go—they could be in trouble,” Hugo added, walking towards the door again. Everyone else was still paused, staring concernedly at Brian.
“I’m not going to leave Chrys,” he said listlessly, still holding tightly to her hand.
“Brian, its not safe to be alone,” Teddy insisted.
Brian groaned in response. “Are you honestly trying to tell me were safer together. After this?” He reached across the piano top to stroke the sheet that hid her inky black hair from view.
“Come on, mate,” Dexter tried to console, striding over and placing a hand on Brian’s shoulder.
Brian shrugged it off. “I’ll take my chances down here, Dex.”
Dexter almost seemed saddened by Brian’s demeanor, and he shot a glance at Teddy, betraying just a hint of the deeply felt and deeply hidden affection he had for his two closest friends from school. He grimaced as he let go of Brian and walked away towards Teddy, saying determinedly, “It’s smartest if we either all go or all stay.”
“I agree. But Brian isn’t moving, so maybe someone should stay with him,” Victoire pointed out.
Everyone shifted uncomfortably. They knew that time was short and that the chances of finding James and Albus alive was growing slimmer with every passing moment. They were equally frightened of what they would find, but no one, except Brian, wanted to be left behind.
Dexter stared at his shoes and considered staying. The sentiment towards his friend didn’t last long before instinct kicked in; no, it was definitely smarter to stick with the group.
Finally, Scorpius spoke. With a heavy sigh and an apologetic look at Rose, he announced, “I’ll stay.”
Most of the room breathed a collective sigh, even as Rose gasped. “Scorp, you don’t have to…it’s not safe!”
“It’s ok, Rosie…I got my wand,” he shrugged. “You go with the others, they’ll need your brains.”
Hugo was already heading out of the room, Lysander and Dex following close behind. Teddy backed away slowly.
“Thanks, mate,” he said, smiling weakly before finally turning around to walk out of the room. Victoire grabbed his hand and the two stuck close together, with Rose bringing up the rear.
Everyone ventured carefully into the dark hallway, wand tips lit and held at the ready. Teddy moved forward, took a cursory glance of the stairway, and ushered the group up slowly. Apart from the creaking of the wood as they carefully made their way up the stairs, the group was silent. Everyone kept turning their heads looking for something in the dark they could not see, and even their breathing was hushed.
Somewhere in the darkness, a heavy object fell and rang in the ears of the group like gunfire. Teddy thought he heard the pitiful noise of a groan, and he froze. The group halted behind him, and he could feel Victoire’s soft breath on the back of his neck. Every muscle in his body tensed as he waited for the noise again, and then…
There it was, the groan.
The thought of James or Al being lying injured and helpless was too much for Teddy, and he suddenly raced up the stairs, taking the last flight two at a time.
Teddy heard them call behind him, but he ignored it as his feet found the top of the stairs, and he spun around quickly looking for any signs of life—or a murderer. The soft rustle of the night breeze and reflection of downy white owl feathers in his wand light led him to the small set of steps that led to the owlery. He moved up them cautiously and stood back as he pushed the door open. But, there was nothing; no sign of life, not even an owl. He supposed they’d flown out for the night.
Teddy started when the wind blew open the loosely hung wooden shutters, causing their unoiled hinges to groan with the force.
“Teddy?” Victoire whispered softly, her breathing slightly out of time from chasing him up the stairs.
He was just about to turn towards her when two dark figures in the corner caught his eye. His voice died in his throat as it tightened painfully with fear. Pulling away from Victoire’s outstretched hand, Teddy walked forward slowly with his wand drawn, every step twisting his stomach into ever tighter knots. He heard footsteps behind him, and in his peripheral vision he saw Victoire and Hugo following him cautiously.
Then finally, he was close enough to see.
Victoire gasped, and Hugo cried out in agony and despair. Teddy’s stomach churned once more, and every realized fear and negative emotion rose in his throat. And for the first time since the birth of James, Teddy truly felt like he had no siblings. That was too much, and he turned away from everyone and heaved.
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