Chapter 2 : Change
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A derelict tower loomed over the forest on a gentle hill in the center of a small clearing, casting an ominous shadow over the nearby vegetation. It was situated in a place where only the teensiest bit of light could sneak through the thick canopy overhead, and looked as though it had been erected long ago as the walls were crumbling and laced with leafy vines.
There was no door to this tower, but there was a window, only one, dozens of feet above the ground where no one could reach it by any natural means. As the boy looked up at it from the edge of the forest, he saw that there was someone inside, sitting by the window in fact, singing a solemn lullaby.
It was a girl, with reddish brown hair and fair skin – he could not see her face clearly, but he knew she was beautiful somehow, and he knew he had to save her soon, before it was too late…
Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed across the deep gray-indigo clouded sky, sending Declan Nott flying up from his pillow. He sat erect in his bed, his back damp, his bare chest beaded with sweat, and his chestnut brown hair falling in his eyes as he exhaled deeply through a part in his lips. His eyes darted to the window as lightning flashed once more, though it was slightly distorted through the rain slicked window pane. As a guy who had always believed that the weather on the first day of term determined the outcome of the entire year, rain did not particularly make him very excited to go back.
And not only was it raining, it was storming.
Talk about forboding.
Declan sighed heavily as he turned his back on the window and pushed the covers off of himself, then swung his legs over the side of the bed. Just as he was pushing himself to his feet, the double doors to his bedroom opened and Maisie, their family maid, came strolling in with breakfast. He picked his watch up from the bedside table and his shoulders drooped.
Nine-thirty on the dot. Punctual, as usual.
Maisie smiled at him, deep crinkles forming the corners of her eyes as she placed the tray on a coffee table by the window. She wiped her hands on the front of her frilly, starched white apron and pulled out her wand, and with a firm flick of her wrist, the pot on the tray began pouring him coffee. “Good morning, Mr. Nott,” she told him cheerfully as she opened the curtains to their full extent, “I trust your sleep was restful? You will need all the energy you can get this morning as it’s your first day back to Hogwarts,”
“Er… right,” Declan muttered, running a hand through his messy curls as he padded over to the table.
“How will you be having your coffee this morning, sir?” she inquired, her wand poised to direct the other various cups and bowls.
He held up his hand to stop her and picked up the mug just as the pot finished filling it with scalding black liquid. “This is fine, thank you,” he told her, blowing across the surface of the drink in an effort to cool it down faster as he dropped down in one of the three armchairs situated in a circle around the small table.
“As you wish, sir –”
“Maisie,” Declan sighed, looking up, “I really wish you wouldn’t call me sir. That title is reserved for my father.”
She smiled apologetically, shuffling round the coffee table and across the room to his wardrobe, the doors to it opening upon her approach with another flick of her wand. “Of course. It tends to slip my mind from time to time,” admonished Maisie. “Now, let’s see what we have here…”
Declan slumped down in his chair, sipping quietly on his coffee with his eyes trained on the soaked window pane in front of him as Maisie picked out his clothes for the day. She was a bit on in years, so her taste in clothing was always a bit questionable, but he wouldn’t be in the clothes for long. Soon, he would be wearing his school uniform and those clothes wouldn’t matter until winter holidays, when he would return home again.
As he watched the rain slap the thick glass, and listened to the sound of Maisie’s quiet humming float over to him from across the room, he remembered his dream. He remembered the clearing, dotted with purple flowers and patches of dead grass, the crumbling, ancient tower, the girl who lived in it…
She’d seemed so familiar, even if he hadn’t been able to see her face.
“Dex, I hope that –” Instantly, Maisie’s humming ceased and Declan stood, turning to face the door, finding his mother hovering just inside the room. Daphne wore a simple black sheath with cap sleeves and her blonde hair was in a tight chignon at the nape of her neck, showing off her high cheek bones and cat like eyes which were scrutinising as they fell on her son. “Declan, what aren’t you dressed yet? The Parkinsons will be here any minute,” she snapped, turning and stalking back out of the room again. “Maisie, get him dressed and downstairs in ten minutes!”
And then she was gone again.
Declan rolled his eyes, taking a sip from his mug again as he shook his head and approached Maisie by his wardrobe, setting his mug down on his nightstand. He took the clothes from Maisie, expecting her to leave on cue but she merely hovered there, smoothing her apron.
He glanced around. “Uh… Maisie?” said Declan.
“Yes?” Maisie asked, standing up straighter upon being addressed. He rolled his eyes again, exhaling deeply and extending his free arm toward the door.
“You can go now,” Declan told her. “I’ll be down in five, if anyone cares.”
She gave him a little bow. “I’ll let them know,” promised Maisie, before scampering out of the room and shutting the double doors behind her. Once she’d gone, he took a deep breath, wondering why she hadn’t just left. Did she still think he was seven years old?
He could dress himself now.
And so he did, quickly.
But he didn’t go downstairs just yet. He went over to his dresser, over which was a vast mirror that reflected about three quarters of his bedroom at once, and retrieved a chunky ring, sliding it onto the middle finger of his right hand. It had supposedly been forged of the finest silver in all of Europe, and had the head of a vulture on it whose eye had been replaced by a large, blood red ruby. He hated the thing, but he had been forced to wear it for so long that putting it on had just become a habit. His sister had one too, only on a pendant; their father had said that the rings were meant to remind them of who their true family was, but lately, Declan had felt more like an estranged second cousin who had wronged them one too many times.
He didn’t have much else to do in order to stall for time, as all of his things had already been packed for him and were probably already waiting in the car as usual, so Declan took a deep breath and headed out of his room to face probably the most unpleasant people in the universe – the Parkinsons.
Honestly, he was sure they’re worse than his own family, and that was saying a lot. They thought that they were better than they really were, spent their money on needless things, and talked nastily about people they were just being nice with behind their backs. But Declan guessed that that was just life for pureblood elitists.
It’s a bitch eat bitch world, as his sister Anysia would claim, and for once he would agree.
But when he was just about to walk into the kitchen, he heard laughter. And not just any laughter, but real, cheerful laughter, like on Christmas morning in some other, normal, not-pureblood-elitist home.
Declan entered with caution, unsure about whether or not he was in the right house, or if he had stepped into some alternate universe when he’d stepped off the grand staircase in the foyer. “Oh, there he is!” crowed Daphne, who seemed to have abandoned the icy demeanor she’d had on earlier for something slightly more pleasant.
She was standing on one side of the island in the middle of the room with a slender girl in a halter dress with white trim along the neckline and her dark hair tumbling over one shoulder next to her, and his sister on the opposite side. Anysia had the same sloping nose, almond shaped eyes, and curly brown hair as her twin brother, though she preferred her hair to be straight if she could help it, and her eyes were honey colored while his were slate grey. Her skin was slightly tanned, which popped against the pastel pink cardigan she wore. They all had seemed to be pouring over something on the counter – a magazine, maybe – before he walked in.
Aside from Daphne, the first person to look round was Vivienne Parkinson, the only child of Pansy and Marcus. She was a notoriously frigid bitch when she wanted to be, and had always fancied Declan a bit too much to be healthy, but today, she looked… normal. Or at least as normal as any pureblood elitist teenager could look in their expensive clothing and eccentric state of mind.
To make a long story short, Vivienne smiled. “Dex,” she purred, sauntering across the kitchen with perfect balance in her three inch wedge heels to pull Declan in a one-sided hug, “I’ve been dying to see you.”
“Er… could you…” he asked awkwardly, gesturing to her arms around him.
“Oh, right,” Vivienne said as if a light had just gone on in her head, pulling away from him. “I forgot you don’t like the whole hugging thing,” she rolled her eyes, chuckling as she ran her fingertip across the collar of his button down, “although you didn’t seem to have a problem with PDA at my parents’ summer house in Vienna for the last few months…” Vivienne trailed off, biting her lip suggestively, and for once, it didn’t seem creepy to Declan for the first time in… well, ever.
But he still didn’t understand what the hell was going on.
His mother snapped the folder she’d been looking at shut then, approaching them. “Well, we should probably get moving,” said Daphne, smoothing a hand across her hair, checking for kinks, “the train will be leaving soon and I certainly wouldn’t want you to miss it.” She smiled, walking past them and across the foyer to the front door.
“I’ll see you in the car,” Vivienne winked, tapping his nose with her fingertip before sauntering after his mother.
As Anysia began to follow suit, Declan grabbed her by the upper arm and pulled her off to the side for a moment. “What the hell is going on here?” he demanded in a whisper. Anysia just furrowed her brows, and then rolled her eyes at him.
“What are you on about, Dex?” she hissed back. “Did you get a brain transplant while you were away in Vienna with your dearly beloved?”
“Wait… I’m not –” he looked over his shoulder, his eyes falling on Vivienne as she was climbing into the back of a black Sedan parked by the curb of their circular driveway.
Anysia chuckled. “No,” she replied, “not yet.”
“Yet?” Declan repeated sharply, his eyes wide in horror. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“God, Dex, do you ever listen when dad talks?” countered Anysia with a heavy sigh, rolling her eyes toward the ceiling. “You and Viv are going to get married next year, once you two have finished your final year of schooling, and then you’re expected to provide the family with one healthy heir to the family name, blah, blah, blah.”
“Says who?” he said.
“Dad, you imbecile!” Anysia shot back heatedly, irritated with him now. She pulled her arm out of his grasp as their mother called for them from the car. “I’m starting to get the feeling that I might need to go back to Vienna and find my real brother, because you’re freaking me out too much to be him.”
“Annie, wait –” Declan tried to say, but she was already stalking off across the foyer and out the front door, leaving him standing alone in the middle of the room.
He exhaled deeply, running his fingers through his curly brown hair. He just didn’t understand it. All of a sudden Vivienne was acting normal – not creepy, not like a stalker lurking around every corner, and respecting his boundaries – and he was expected to marry her in the near future, his sister was civil with Vivienne and called her ‘Viv’, and no one was icing him out for the whole Lucy Weasley fiasco anymore. No one had even mentioned it.
Sure, it had been his father’s plan, ultimately, but no one in his family had had a problem with it. In fact, they all had seemed to be backing him up on it, and at first, Declan had been too. Family always came first, right? Well, that was until he’d started falling for the supposed enemy. Until he had grown a conscience and tried to give Lucy a heads up before things went any further and his father asked him to do something he regretted, but the damage had been done. The news of their relationship was all over the tabloids, and it had infuriated Percy Weasley, just as Declan’s father had wanted. But the moment that they found out that Declan had tried to stop it all, his parents had given him the cold shoulder and his sister had played along, but only when they were in the same room. When they weren’t, she had kept him company.
And now, suddenly, no one hated him?
It felt as though everything had changed drastically overnight, and none of it made any sense at all.
That same morning, Molly Weasley came bounding down the stairs of her family’s quaint little house in Devon, a few blocks away from the Burrow and the Scamander residence. Her pin-straight red hair was in a long plait down the middle of her back, and she wore a white t-shirt underneath a pair of cut off denim overalls rolled up to about mid-thigh. She was tucking an ancient looking copy of Magical Me by Gilderoy Lockhart in her bag as she walked into the kitchen.
When she looked up, she froze about halfway through tucking a lock of hair behind her freckled ear, finding a dark haired woman she’d never seen before in nothing but her socks and a blue pinstriped oxford shirt she had seen before – it belonged to her father. Her eyes went from the woman pouring herself a cup of tea to her father, who was seated at the table with a copy of the Daily Prophet in front of his face.
Molly wrapped her hands round the strap of her bag slung across her chest as she took a measured step into the kitchen. “Who’s this?” she asked, raising her voice an octave, making the woman jump.
Percy quickly lowered his newspaper and straightened up in his chair, as if he’d just been caught doing something illicit. Well, he might as well have been.
“Molly,” he said, a smile blooming on his lips suddenly, “Uh… this is… well, this is Audrey,” said Percy, his brows pulling together in thought. “You’ve met Audrey before.” He seemed sure of this. Molly, however, was quite sure that she had never met the woman before in her life. As Audrey waved, she seemed to get the hint that Molly was none too fond of having a new woman in the house, especially so soon after her parents’ falling out. Something glinted on her left hand as she picked up the floral printed mug she’d just dropped a tea bag into – an engagement ring, complete with a nice diamond.
This morning just got one hell of a lot worse.
Audrey glanced from Percy to Molly and back, tapping the rim of her mug nervously before making a decision. “I’ll go get dressed,” she said in a small voice to no one in particular, before squeezing past Molly and disappearing down the corridor and up the stairs.
She smelled strongly of vanilla and lavendar.
“You’re marrying her?” Molly hissed, advancing on her father and bracing herself on the back of the chair across the table from him.
He rubbed his forehead with a heavy exhale and shook his head. “Molly, we’ve already discussed this.”
“When? And who? You and her? You and I? The three of us?” Molly demanded. “Cos I don’t remember agreeing to you marrying someone else so soon. What about mom –”
“Your mother left me, Molly,” Percy reminded her firmly. “There’s nothing I can do about that now, except move on.” He stood up, folding up his newspaper and tucking it under his arm as he pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. “Now have you got everything you need? We should start to –”
“Wait, we can’t leave without Lucy,” Molly told him pointedly, her eyebrows raising. “Have you seen her?”
Percy’s eyebrows furrowed, looking slightly bemused. “What are you talking about, Molly?”
“Um… Lucy, my sister?” she explained, though not knowing why she had to. “She’s about this” – she held her hand up to her shoulder – “tall, with reddish brown hair and fair skin, and she loves eating peanut butter sandwiches except around me because every time she does I tell her that when she talks with peanut butter on the roof of her mouth she reminds me of –”
“Molly,” Percy said firmly, putting his hands on his daughter’s shoulders and looking her in the eyes seriously, “I don’t know why you’re so convinced that you have a sister, but you don’t. I know you’ve always wanted one, and I’m sorry I haven’t given you one, but you’re seventeen, Molly. You’ve got to learn to control your rampant imagination already, because this Lucy character you’re so fond of?” he said, “she doesn’t exist.”
AN Hello again :) There was Chapter Two. I hope it was alright, and hope it didn't confuse you too much. In fact, it wasn't meant to confuse you at all - it was supposed to be mysterious and make you wonder :P Ahaha. Well. What did you lot think of it? And where oh where is Lucy? Thank you for reading, and all questions, comments, and concerns are welcome and appreciated as always.