Chapter 1 : Darkness
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Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter were kneeling on the ground, their wands broken in half in front of them. The night air was heavy with a persistent smell of burned fig and trees; the smoke was suffocating them as they glanced at each other in terror through the grey mist. Green eyes meet brown ones in a communicative glare. They both knew what was going to happen, probably very soon. Dark hooded figures with white masks were circling around, enclosing them in a circle prison with Death Eater bars. There were more of them than they had ever anticipated. And they seemed stronger, smarter and more determined than before.
A full moon was spying on the act in the Forbidden Forest, for that was where the Auror department had sent Ron and Harry to hunt for a new clan of Death Eaters. But they never imagined so many of the Dark Lord’s followers had re-recruited to a service of blind obedience and abominable acts, to follow a man who had been dead for the past 15 years.
“Ron....” A heavy fist hit Harry’s head as he feebly attempted to whisper something to Ron. Blood ran out of his nose once more that night as he fought his body’s plea to embrace unconsciousness.
“Silence!” ordered a deep, harsh sounding male voice. “You dare speak?” Another blow followed the first one and Harry’s body finally gave in to weakness as his muscles lost their strength and he fell onto the floor. Ron said nothing, but looked at his best friend and the hero of the wizardry world who lost the ability and desire to fight those he so bitterly hated. “Avada Kedavra!” Emerald light engulfed the abused clearing in the Forbidden Forest as the man—who—lived got deprived of his life.
Ron did not shout. He knew Harry was sentenced to death the minute they were made to kneel and their wands were broken in half. He could still see the crushed phoenix feather which united the two pieces of wood in a small pile of green grass that dared survive the fierce battle. And he knew he was to follow.
A white masked face came towards him. He did not flinch. If he were to face death, he would do it with bravery. The Death Eater raised his wand. “Why?”He wanted to know. The years he had spent as an Auror made him naturally more interrogative.
“Because the Dark Lord would be pleased to know that Potter and his friends are out of the way once he shall return.” The voice was unrecognisable to Ron as he wondered how a dead man could have brainwashed so many people.
“Your Dark Lord is dead!”Ron’s eyes were staring straight into the
Death Eater’s eyes, for the white mask could not hide them. “He’s been dead for fifteen years, you dumb—“
“Silencio!” Ron’s lips shut as if stuck with glue and his tongue froze in his mouth. The Death Eater approached him and bent down so that his abnormal, bone-white face was a few centimetres away. And even though he was wearing a solid mask, Ron could swear the Death Eater was bestowing upon him an evil smirk, like one would bestow a curse.
“There’s a way to bring him back.” Whispered the Death Eater with mad excitement bursting out of his voice, like a bag with holes stuffed with water.
Ron’s eyes widened and his eyebrows furrowed together. The Death Eater laughed—a mad, loud noise that made the crows in the trees fly off in agitation. “Dumbledore and his puppets have always been ignorant.” He cast a look at Harry’s corpse and then focused his gaze back on a bewildered Ron. “So you honestly believed that destroying all the Horcruxes would kill him?” He laughed again. “You were right about that.” He said, adopting a teacher like manner of speaking. “But you were mistaken to believe, even for a mere second, that any way to bring him back has been destroyed with him.” A long silence followed in which the Death Eater seemed to be searching for his words. At last, he continued pacing about in front of Ron. “It was courageous for you and Potter to come here tonight. Or just foolish to believe that two men can take a whole clan of Death Eaters. You see Weasley, we are much stronger than 15 years ago and very soon we shall not need to stay in hiding any more. Once we will be reunited with the Dark Lord, all shall fall into our hands and trust me when I say that if any family dares to refuse our new order we shall not be lenient. Your and Potter’s families do not need an invitation to wrong us though. When we start purging they’ll be the first to go.”
There were no more words in the minute that followed but Ron fought, with all his might, to break the spell that silenced him. He was ready to even beg for his family to be left alone if he could not persuade him by any other means. The Death Eater raised his wand towards Ron’s chest as a jet of green light followed and dissolved into Ron, shutting off everything that made him feel and move. His vacant body fell on the floor, parallel to Harry’s and no one ever saw Ronald Weasley or Harry Potter ever again.
Rose Weasley sat up in bed, sweat clinging on her brows as she tried to steady her breathing. She drew her hands over her face for a minute to make the wild hair that stuck to her forehead go away and then she glanced towards Hugo, her little brother who was peacefully sleeping next to her. The thunder must have scared him sometime earlier and made him seek refuge into her bed. She smiled a little and looked at Forbid, the stuffed dragon, left behind on the vacant bed, in Hugo’s journey through the room they still shared.
Quietly, she slid from under the bed covers and made her way through the darkness to the bathroom. She did not need to put the light on, for she loved darkness. Everything was calm and quiet and unlike in the light, you could turn a blind eye on things that drained your happy thoughts. Whenever she would have a nightmare, or a bad thought, Rose never put the light on. She preferred sitting in the dark, embracing all that she could not see and imagining that the world was as simple as lightlessness made it seem.
Putting on the tap, she splashed some cold water over her face. Her breathing had calmed down and her heart had gained its normal pace, yet the images projected by her brain were still unpleasant. There had been green lightning bolts in her dream; hitting the ground and making all plants die in an instant. When the lightning ceased, everything succumbed to darkness and Rose believed the nightmare spared her.
But it was not over. The next time the lightning struck, it wasn’t the plants which were deprived of life. It was her father.
Rose pushed these thoughts away from her mind and blamed the nightmare on the horror movie her mom restricted her from watching. She wished she could have listened to her. She wished she could have done something else in her mother’s one hour absence to the grocery store instead of watching that blasted movie. Yet breaking set rules was something she had inherited from her father.
“Rosie?” Hugo’s quiet voice drew Rose back into their room and this time she did put the light on. Her little brother was terrified of darkness and the only way he accepted to sleep with the light off was if Rose was as near as possible to him. He places his little hands over his eyes as the room was engulfed in yellowish light. His auburn curly hair (a thing which he inherited from his great-great aunt Muriel) was sticking up in every direction as if he had had a fight with his own pillow while sleeping. “I want mommy.”
“Hugo...it’s three o’clock in the morning. Mommy’s sleeping.” Rose made her way back to the bed and slid under the covers, placing one arm around her little brother’s shoulders.
“But I’m scared.” Said Hugo is a quiet voice escaping under the blanket. “I want mommy!”
“But I’m here.” Rose tried to find him under the covers. He was a rather small boy for the age of five and he was even smaller when his knees were drawn up to his chest as if he was scared the walls would fall on him. “We can leave the light on if you want. But let’s not wake up mommy.”
There was a moment of silence in which Hugo was debating over what his sister proposed to him. Very slowly, he popped his head out from under the blanket and looked at Rose in a questioning glare. “You promise to leave the light on?”
“Yes.” Responded Rose making him lay down properly in bed. “Now sleep.” Just as if Rose had cast the Imperius curse on him, little Hugo closed his eyes and turned on his side in search of sleep. She gave him a small smile as she lay down under the blanket, forming for herself a sanctuary which light and nightmares were not allowed to penetrate. And as soon as she closed her eyes, she fell asleep.
Hermione Weasley’s wand was being pointed here and there as jars opened, pots and cans washed themselves in the sink and salt was flying in the pot on the stove containing omelette. The table was set and ready to welcome four people for breakfast, yet Hermione was debating whether to remove Ron’s plate as it was not the first time he had been kept all night at work. An owl flew through the open window in the kitchen to deliver the Daily Prophet which Hermione decided to read later. After giving the bird a bit of ham, it flew back out the window and disappeared from view in the morning sun.
Hermione sat down and started drinking her coffee, when the sound of small approaching steps made her look towards the stairs. Hugo was rubbing his eyes with his sleeve and walking like a zombie towards the source of food that made him get out of bed in the first place. When he was done rubbing his eyes, he saw his mother smiling at him and he ran in her arms as if he had not seen her in over three years. Hermione picked her son up and kissed his rosy cheeks.
“I missed you mommy.” Said Hugo hugging her. “I was scared and
Rosie didn’t let me wake you up last night and we let the light on and....”
“Oh, Hugo...still scared of the thunder?” asked Hermione placing him on a chair and pouring him a cup of milk.
“Yes.” Responded the little boy in a small voice. “Mommy?”
“Yes Hugo?” said Hermione from behind the fridge door.
“I know you said that we can’t sleep in your bed at night but can I sleep in your bed when Daddy’s not home? Just when Daddy’s not home? Pleaseee?” said Hugo turning around on his chair to face his mom. Hermione looked at him and smiled. “We’ll see Hugo. If you’re good and you stop doing things that mommy told you not to do, maybe.” Hugo gave her a wide smile, and then he turned around to finish his milk. “I’ll be good mommy. I promise!”
“I would love to see that, honey.” Hermione grinned. She knew her son, just like her husband, could keep a promise like that for about two hours before getting into mischief again. She always wondered how Molly “did it” with Fred and George and Ron at the same time. “Hugo darling, stay here and finish your milk while I wake up Rosie, will you?”
“Uh-huh.” Said the little boy looking towards the TV in the living room.
“Don’t even think about it young man! Breakfast now, TV later. Understand?” asked Hermione adopting her severe voice as when Hugo was alone at home with Ron, they both ate breakfast in front of the TV, spilling milk and cereal and other things on the sofa. Hermione hated it.
“But moooommmm....Tom and Jerry’s on.” Whined the little boy.
“And you can watch it after you finish your breakfast.” Continued Hermione. “Hugo, if I catch you watching TV when I get back down, you will be grounded for the rest of the day!”
Hugo said nothing more, but turned around on his chair moodily and finished his milk. Hermione gave him one more warning look and then made her way upstairs. Hugo turned around to see if his mom were still around the kitchen and then looked longingly towards the TV set.
He slowly stood up and took two steps towards the living room.
Disobeying his mom for Tom and Jerry was worth it. But getting grounded for the rest of the day for an episode which he was not sure he had not seen was not. Just as the little boy was debating what to do, the door bell rand.
“Daddy!” cried Hugo in excitement as he ran to the front door. He opened it and was about to throw himself in his dad’s arms when he saw that the man standing on his front porch was not his father. “Ow.” He said when James Uprick, his dad’s boss bended down to ruffle his hair. “Hello little wizard!”
“Hi.” Said Hugo in a rather disappointed voice as he knew that if daddy was home, mommy might allow them both to watch Tom and
“Is your mom around?” asked James looking around the hallway.
“Upstairs with Rosie.”
A minute of silence followed. “Are you going to let me in?” asked James in a rather amused voice.
“Mommy said never let strangers in.”
“I see. But if you open the door to them and they are mean, they won’t ask for permission to come in. I think your mommy meant to not open the door to strangers.” James was now bending to be at eye level with Hugo as the little boy’s face changed to understanding.
“Oh. Okay.” He said and was about to close the door in James’ face before the latter held it with his hand. “I’m not a stranger, little wizard.”
“Oh yeah.” Said Hugo and his cheeks became a little pink.
“Hugo?” asked Hermione arriving in the hallway. “Hugo, what did I tell you about opening the door the strangers?” she asked in a scolding
“It’s not a stranger mommy, its Mr Uprick.” Cried Hugo defending himself.
“Did you ask who it was before opening the door?” continued Hermione in the same scolding voice.
“No.” Hugo’s voice volume dropped a few levels as he made his way towards his mother.
“Go and finish your breakfast.” Hugo ran back into the kitchen, relieved that the scolding had finished. “Rose should be with you in a minute.” Said Hermione looking as his son resumed his seat at the table. “I’m sorry about that Mr Uprick. Do come in.” She closed the door as the tall man walked in the hallway.
“I’m sorry to bother you at this early hour, Hermione, but I’m afraid we must talk.” Said James lowering his voice.
“Umm...come in the living room. Would you like something to drink?” asked Hermione remembering her manners. She didn’t like the tone of his voice. She didn’t like him. James Uprick (or James Uparse as Ron called him) was a tall man of forty with dark hair sprayed with a little grey at the temples, huge blue eyes and a severe mouth. According to Ron, he had had several affairs with several of the women at the Auror office since he started there 14 years before and he had a reputation fit for a womanizer. Yet he was a great Auror, who had helped immensely in organising troops of Aurors during the Battle of Hogwarts and even Alastor Moody had respected his work.
“No thank you. I don’t wish to stay long; I’ve just come to deliver some news.” He said yet his eyes couldn’t stop from looking at Hermione’s body as one would analyse a rare bird. “Maybe you should sit down as well.” Continued James as he sat down on a sofa and patted the seat next to him for Hermione to sit down.
Yet Mrs Weasley was too smart to be fooled by his easy flirting techniques, so she sat down on a nearby armchair. James looked disappointed for a minute but remembering the news he had to deliver he adopted a more sombre look on his face. “It’s about your husband.”
A long silence followed in which Hermione’s heart grew heavier. She wondered whether Uprick liked to play these sort of games with distressed women. “Mr Uprick...what happened?”
“I’m really sorry to be the one to tell you this, Mrs Weasley...but your husband and Harry Potter were killed in the raid of last night.”
The cup of coffee which Hermione was holding fell, decorating the wooden floor with porcelain.
“W-what?”No muscle moved in her face. There was no sign that she
had comprehended the news which she had just received.
“We had anticipated that there were a few young men...still kids....who liked to play Death Eater games in the Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts so we sent Harry and Ron to capture them. But we were mistaken. There were many more. Hundredths and they weren’t kids. We managed to capture one of them...the rest disapparated and we used Veritaserium on him. He spilled everything. They have been re-recruiting for years and they have a way to bring Voldemort back. This one was rather young and he didn’t know their plan completely...but there’s older brains working behind them. Old Death Eaters who survived the battle of 15 years ago. I’m really sorry.”
“They’re...dead?” Hermione’s hands started shaking as she looked up at James, the horror of realisation in her eyes. “My husband is dead?”
“I’m sorry Hermione. If there’s anything I can do....”
“Please leave.” Said Hermione standing up and drawing her hands over her face to try and remain at least a little together. James made her way towards where she was standing and he placed his hands over her shoulders, drawing her close. But there was something not right about that hug. It was far from a friend comforting another friend hug.
James was making it more than that as he was moving his hand up and down her arm as one would stroke a cat.
Hermione abruptly turned around; giving him the most murderous glare she ever gave somebody.
“How dare you? You come into my house to tell me my husband is d-d-dead and you flirt with me? What kind of man are you?” tears started flowing out of her eyes furiously as she started punching his chest and pushing him towards the door. “Get out! NOW!”
James Uprick gave Hermione one last look and then he made his way out of the house, closing the door behind him without another word. Hermione placed her hands once more on her tear wet face as her shoulders started shaking with new tears at the acknowledgement of the fact that her husband will never be home again and that once she takes his plate off the table, she will never put it back again.
When she managed to calm down a little, she looked towards the kitchen door where Rose and Hugo were holding hands. Hugo looked slightly confused, yet Hermione could read into Rose’s vacant expression that she had heard everything.
“Why is daddy not coming home, mommy?” asked Hugo looking at Hermione with a questioning glare. “You said he was coming today?” he looked up at his older sister who looked about to cry as well. Hugo didn’t like the atmosphere in the house. His mom was crying and his sister was on the verge of crying and now he felt like crying so two tears made their way from his eyes to his cheeks, but first through his long eyelashes. “I want daddy.” He cried and ran into his mother’s open arms, where he started crying even more.
“Rosie, come here.” Said Hermione holding an open arm towards her seven year old daughter, but Rose didn’t respond. Instead, she ran up upstairs into the small bathroom which didn’t have a window, closed the door and sat down on the floor, embracing darkness and trying to forget for a few minutes, the news that her dad was dead and that he will never kiss her goodnights, play with her or see her ever again.
A/N So here is the first chapter of Roses grow at Malfoy Manor. I really hope you liked it and that you are interested in reading more. As a quick note, at the moment Rose is 7 years old. Throughout the story she will get older and experience different things, so she will not stay 7 throughout the novel.
I would really appreciate it if you could review and let me know what you thought of the first chapter--not to mention it would be very useful. Thank you very, very much for reading.