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Chapter 12 : It's just your Ghost Passing Through
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It’s just your Ghost Passing Through
Scorpius was agitated, Rose could see it. His face was tight, his jaw clenched and a nervous tick worked furiously under his eye and in his left temple. “What is it?” she asked him softly as they dodged through the darkened streets. He sighed.
“I had another dream,” he said. Rose stopped and grabbed at his arm, giving Hugo a swift look. “We, I, I mean Lucius, was young in this one. We watched the murder of two red-haired men, brothers I think; twins perhaps, I’m not sure.”
Rose and Hugo glanced at one another again.
“They were taken down like they were nothing. It was so real, so vivid, as real to me as you two are now,” Scorpius whispered. “It frightened me, because where they stood, I kept seeing you, or Roxanne, your aunt Ginny, your father, your uncles...must have been the red hair.”
“That’s because it was our family,” Rose said softly; Scorpius looked at her in surprise. “You saw the Prewett brothers, Gideon and Fabian, grandmother Weasley’s siblings. They died during Voldemort’s first rise to power, murdered by five death eaters.”
“I’m sorry,” Scorpius murmured, looking away. Rose squeezed his hand, and they went on. The Leaky Cauldron was still open, even though it was late and the place was empty. Scorpius went in first and to Rose’s consternation, was immediately recognised.
“Young Master Malfoy,” Sam, the barkeep, called. “Your father has bin in ‘ere, lookin’ for you. In a right temper he was too – scared off half me customers and cost me a night’s takings.”
Scorpius said nothing, fidgeting, and as Rose and Hugo slipped in behind him, the barkeep’s eyes widened.
“An’ you two! Auror’s have bin askin’ questions about you. What ‘ave you done, little Weasley’s?”
“Merlin I hate that,” Hugo muttered. “’Little Weasley’s’.”
“Nothing, everything is fine,” Rose lied smoothly. “We’ve spoken with our father. We’re just heading into Diagon Alley to meet him.”
Sam eyed them suspiciously. “Not much open at this time of night. You need to be careful – bad things ‘ave bin happenin’ lately. Another girl’s gone missin’.”
“Another?” Rose asked, feeling faint.
The barkeep nodded sagely, fingers reaching up to stroke at his whiskery chin. “That Parker girl, Lucy was it? Mr Malfoy was asking had I seen her.”
“And had you?” Hugo asked bluntly.
Sam pointed a long finger in their direction. “I already told your father, boy, that no, I ‘ave not seen her.”
Rose snuck a glance at Scorpius, trying to gauge his reaction, but he simply looked as shocked as she felt. Whatever was happening, they needed to get to the bottom of it.
“Come on.” She marched through the pub, the boys following her and she could feel Sam’s eyes on them as they passed through into Diagon Alley. “We haven’t got much time,” she said, walking quickly. “I expect dad and Uncle Harry, your father as well, Scorpius, will be flooing in any time soon.”
“Lucinda’s missing too; I thought she’d just gone home,” Scorpius murmured; Rose grabbed his arm and shook him gently.
“They’ll find her; they’ll find all of them. Right now though, we need to figure this out.”
“Alright, where is this graffiti?” Hugo asked as they walked. “They’ve probably cleaned most of it off by now.”
“I overheard dad say something to mum about Borgin and Burkes,” Scorpius said.
Rose shivered. “I hate Knockturn Alley: it gives me the creeps.” She suddenly wondered whether this whole expedition was a good idea. Her mother was right – they had no idea who was responsible for any of the graffiti, or the apparent kidnappings, the Dark Mark at the Manor. Rose had the unnerving sense they were walking into danger but it was too late to do anything about it now. She needed to know.
They passed Flourish and Blotts, Madam Malkin’s and Florean Fortescue’s quickly; the streets were deserted and the occasional light shone from one of the shops, the sign of someone working late. Knockturn Alley was black as soot, and eerily quite and still. The three of them paused, stopping in the gaping mouth of the alley and again, Rose felt that horrible sensation of being completely exposed. The other’s must have felt it too, because Scorpius took her hand and led them into the shadows that lined the disused shopfronts. From there, they made their way as silently as possible to Borgin and Burkes.
There, on the dusty front display window of the shop, were the words He is coming painted in green ink. As they stood and studied the work, Rose frowned.
“It looks unfinished, like they left in a hurry. See,” she pointed, “the ‘g’ slops away, like the person ran or disapparated hastily. Didn’t mum say this only appeared last night?”
Hugo nodded. “Which means...”
“They’re probably on their way back,” Scorpius finished, sucking in a breath. “Where are the Aurors? I thought they’d be watching this place, waiting. I don’t understand.”
“Maybe they’re searching elsewhere,” Rose suggested. Footsteps echoed in the distance and they froze, listening as the short, sharp bursts of sound crept closer. Scorpius grabbed Rose and dragged her across the alley into the darkness, pushing her down behind a pile of garbage bins. Hugo appeared beside them, breathing deeply.
“Get down,” Rose hissed, grabbing the back of her brother’s shirt and pulling him onto the rough, dirty ground. Scorpius put his fingers to his lips, gesturing into the alley. Rose held her breath, watching as a figure in a long cape approached the wall. She felt Scorpius’ hand tighten and focused on the black-draped body in front of them, and not how it felt to have her hand held so tightly, so protectively.
As they watched, the person in black took out a common muggle spray can and in a few short bursts, had sprayed the words The Dark Lord is all on the brickwork, beneath the first sentence. They stepped back, head tipped to the side to survey their art, and Rose nearly fell over in fright as another person apparated into the darkness, moving to stand beside the other. They didn’t speak; the first handed the second the spray can and within minutes, a perfect replica of the Dark Mark, much like the one that had been found in the Malfoy’s dining room, joined the words on the wall.
“What are they doing?” Hugo muttered. As Rose watched, the two figures stood looking at the wall, swaying on the spot. They were muttering in low voices, but Rose knew instantly that one, or maybe both, were female. The second tapped the painted Dark Mark with her wand and it began to move, the serpent twisting its way from the skull’s jaws, just like the real thing.
“What do we do?” Rose asked quietly, sucking in a breath as the person with the spray can turned their head towards their hiding place. Scorpius shook his head, his bottom lip between his teeth, before he frowned. His wand was in his hand, the skin around his knuckles slowly turning white.
“She’s coming over,” he warned. “Wait...that’s Elspeth!”
Rose craned her neck to look, certain he must be mistaken, but in the half-light of the moon the figure reached up and removed the hood from her head. Scorpius stood up; Rose lunged for his arm, and missed.
“Elspeth, what are you doing here?”
He’d barely gotten the question out when she fired on him. Hugo shot across Rose’s field of vision, tackling Scorpius to the ground as Rose drew her wand, her shield charm spreading out to protect the three of them. “What do we do? And who is the other one?” she asked breathlessly. The other person had now joined Elspeth and slowly removed her hood.
“Selina!” Hugo groaned. “I liked her; she was hot.”
“Hardly the time,” Rose snapped. Scorpius was looking at both girls in disbelief.
“They’re behind it all,” he said in a harsh voice. “The Dark Mark at the Manor, frightening my grandmother half to death...what are they playing at?” He made to stand but Hugo held him down. Rose flinched as her shield took a battering of spells.
“We have to move. We can worry about the why’s later,” she told Scorpius.
He nodded, his face tight. “Spread out. Drop your shield, Rose, and we split up.”
“No,” Hugo said, and to Rose’s surprise, he was looking at her. “It’s too dangerous.”
“It’s the only way,” she insisted. Rose let her shield fall and immediately disapparated, reappearing a moment later to see Hugo engaged in wand fire with Selina. The other woman noted Rose’s appearance and gave a high bark of hysterical laughter, before vanishing.
Looking around, they noticed Scorpius and Elspeth. They weren’t fighting; she was standing tall and still and it appeared that he was trying to talk to her. She was shaking her head and muttering and Rose felt the hair stand up on the back of her neck as Elspeth suddenly looked up and smiled a feral, menacing smile.
“Wait,” Scorpius cried as she turned away, reaching out to catch her arm just as Rose yelled a warning; Elspeth disapparated, taking Scorpius with her. Rose and Hugo looked at each other in horror.
“Oh fuck,” Hugo whispered.
Rose’s mouth dropped and she wanted to tear at her hair in frustration and fear. “Think, Rose, think,” she muttered, beginning to pace.
“Oh man, we need to tell Draco. Oh God, he’s going to kill us, oh shit oh shit...”
“Shut it, Hugo,” Rose snapped. “If you were a pseudo-megalomaniac, if you thought you were doing Voldemort’s work, where would you go now?”
“The Ministry of Magic?” Hugo suggested, and she shook her head.
“No. Lucius’ history is playing out in reverse order, remember?” Rose said softly. “If we go by Scorpius’ last dream, time has moved back to Voldemort’s first rise to power, so he wouldn’t have any interest in the Ministry, not yet. Oh God, Hugo, I have no idea where Elspeth would take him and if it has any relation to his dreams at all!”
“Rose,” Hugo breathed, pulling at his hair. “We need help.”
“We haven’t got time,” she answered; Hugo made to argue, but she rounded on him, her expression fierce. “Did he tell you everything then? Scorpius?”
“What do you mean?”
“He believes some of what has happened is his doing, and who’s to say it isn’t? How do we know that what is happening to Elspeth and Selina isn’t happening to him? We don’t know anything for certain,” Rose replied slowly. “He thinks he made the Dark Mark appear at the Manor.”
Hugo gaped. “No. I refuse to believe that. He might be a prat sometimes, Rose, but he isn’t mean.”
“He didn’t do it on purpose, if he did it,” Rose muttered. “You saw those girl’s faces – they weren’t themselves, Hugo. I think they’re compelled, but by whom?”
“Why them?” he asked, puzzled. “I mean, Scorpius I kind of understand. Lucius is his grandfather – they’re family, but those girls have no connection to the Malfoy’s at all.”
Rose shook her head. “But they do,” she whispered, grabbing her brother’s arm. “Selina Goyle – her father is Gregory, who, while not exactly a Death Eater, was involved in the end. And Gregory and Draco, and therefore Selina and Scorpius, share another link – Lucius and Selina’s grandfather were both Death Eaters. We know that they both came to him, to Voldemort, in the graveyard at Little Hangleton, so we know they were both loyal.”
“So it is the same thing with Elspeth? She is an Avery, after all.”
“I don’t think it is that simple though,” Rose said quietly. “We need to find Scorpius. I have a really bad feeling about this, Hugo.”
“Me too. Okay, his last dream: where were Gideon and Fabian murdered? Do you know, Rose, because I don’t have a clue,” Hugo said miserably. Rose chewed her lip.
“Fabian’s home, in Little Hangleton,” she answered slowly. “Grandmother told me. We start there then? I know the street the house was in but not exactly where it is. Come on.”
They used their memory to guide them, their knowledge of the area and the events, described to them by their family and by books. Little Hangleton was a ghost town in the darkness, and Rose was dizzy from apparating across the country; they had stopped several times to get their bearings and she thought Hugo was looking a little peaky but he refused to stop. They hurried along the streets, wands out and ears straining, pushing their way towards the older part of town. They passed the church and the adjoining cemetery, the place of Voldemort’s rebirth and they paused, listening, but there was no sign of either Elspeth or Scorpius. Rose felt sick; that impending sense of doom that had dogged her all day was in full flight and she knew she was close to panicking. She wanted to sit in the street and scream. Everything had, as Hugo would so eloquently put it, gone to shit.
“Rose,” Hugo said quietly, pointing to a street sign. Rose’s heart sped up and together, brother and sister raced down the street, ducking into the shadows as they moved. Fabian Prewett’s house was in ruins; standing alone at the end of the quiet street, it sat slightly on a rise, and its tortured face looked down on them. Rose recalled her grandparents telling them that, after the murders and the Dark Mark being cast above the cottage, no one went near it. In the moonlight, Rose could see what remained: a stone fence, only a few feet high, a shabby garden, overgrown and wild, and the walls of the house. The windows were blackened holes, gaping like mouths and she shivered, forcing calm on herself.
“Can you cast a patronus, Hugo?” she asked in a whisper. He nodded. “We need dad and Uncle Harry.” Rose knew she didn’t have enough happy thoughts in her at present, and hoped her brother did.
Rose kept an eye on the house, listening for the slightest sound as Hugo’s silvery weasel, so much like their grandfather’s, tore off into the blackness.
“So I guess we go and look for him?” Hugo asked quietly and Rose nodded. “Alright. But if anything happens to you, I won’t ever forgive myself.”
“You choose odd moments to be a real brother,” Rose commented with a smile.
“This is a life or death situation, probably. If that isn’t a moment to be a real brother, I don’t know what is,” he whispered back. The sudden and shocking crack of apparition rent the air and Rose grabbed Hugo’s arm in fear. They watched, hidden deep in the shadows, as Selina Goyle pushed open the rusty front gate. The metal protested, screaming into the night and she paused a moment, looking around into moonlight splattered blackness, before she turned and marched up the path, her feet beating out a sharp staccato on the cobblestones.
“We’ll go around the back,” Rose said with a confidence she did not feel. Part of her wanted to wait for her father, but the other part was terrified for Scorpius. Her dream beat at her head, taunting her but she shoved it aside.
In the milky moonlight they moved slowly, wands at the ready and hearts pounding. They stuck to the edge of the building, keeping low. Rose could hear muttering inside: Elspeth and Selina, but she could not hear Scorpius and wondered if he’d been knocked out, or worse. The back of the house was a tangle of plants and debris, and Rose felt her skin tear as it snagged on something. Blood trickled slowly down her leg and she wiped it away with the tips of her fingers, ignoring the sting.
“The back door is gone,” Hugo whispered, peering ahead into the darkness. “Blown off its hinges. It’s the only way in.”
Rose nodded. “I’ll go first.”
“Like hell you will,” Hugo hissed, darting away into the night before Rose could stop him, shaking her head at his moment of chivalry. If he ended up dead, she’d never forgive herself. She took a deep breath and plunged into the darkness after him.
Hugo was crouched just inside what used to be the back door, and Rose joined him. They were in a narrow hall, and she paused, listening to the voices that floated through the dust towards them.
“This way,” she indicated, moving away, Hugo following. Rose couldn’t hear his breathing and wondered if he was holding her breath, like she was. She stopped again in the hall, outside what she imagined must have been a bedroom. She could hear Selina talking again, her voice too low to make out words, and Rose waited until footsteps passed the open doorway before sticking her head around and swiftly withdrawing it.
“Did you see Malfoy?” Hugo mouthed. Rose could just see his lips in the dark and she nodded. Scorpius was pinned against the wall, held there by what Rose assumed were the legs of a chair, or the transfigured metal frame of a bed. All the furniture in the room was broken and tossed around like dolls.
Someone coughed, and then they heard Scorpius’ voice.
“Selina, this is madness.”
“Madness?” she repeated, her laughter light and airy. “Perhaps. But what is madness but one step from the truth?”
“I don’t understand,” Scorpius answered slowly.
“You will; you already do, more than you know. The dreams came to you first, Scorpius Malfoy, before they came to me and the others and yet...” her voice trailed off, dropping too low for Rose to hear, and Rose wondered who the ‘others’ were. Did Selina mean the other girls? Portia and Penelope? All had connections to Death Eaters.
“Maybe I’m just stronger than you,” Scorpius was saying, and Rose pulled herself back to the moment.
Rose cringed as Scorpius yelped. “That hurt you lunatic!”
“Shut up, Scorpius,” she whispered, willing him to stop talking. His big mouth was about to get him killed.
“What do you want me to say?” Scorpius muttered.
Rose leant forwards, muscles straining as she tried to see what was happening, preying she would go unnoticed. Selina was standing in the far corner of the room, her eyes following Selina’s movements, her face vacant.
“Say you’ll join us,” Selina breathed, reaching over to run her fingers down Scorpius’ face. “Help us revive His will. Here, in this place, in this place where the Dark Lord was reborn we can start again. Together we can bring back the days of old, of power and chaos and order!”
“We can’t,” Scorpius said gently. “The Dark Lord is gone.”
“But not forgotten,” she snapped, standing up and striding around the room. Dust rose as she stomped, feet heavy, on the old wooden floorboards. “We can make those who have renounced him pay and those who triumphed over him...they will die, of course.”
“I thought we were friends,” Scorpius said softly. “We grew up together, Selina.”
“We are friends,” she purred. “That is why you are here: I want you with me. I want you to stand beside me, to share in the glory.”
Scorpius looked at her sadly. “Why are you doing this?”
Rose felt her stomach tighten as Elspeth proffered an ornate wooden box, much like the one still stashed under Scorpius’ bed; in Selina’s long hand materialised a mask. She held it out to Scorpius, who shook his head.
“What power we would have,’ she whispered, her voice a caress, silken and inviting.
“This was your grandfather’s,” she said simply. “I took it, from the Manor. It called to me, sang to me, and I had to have it, but not for me. I stole this for you. Your father was weak, too weak to wear it with honour, but you...” she paused, looking at Scorpius with blazing eyes. “You are strong, in mind and spirit. I know you, Scorpius: I know who you really are. I know your doubts, your fears, your desire to be different from your father,” she paused, taking a deep trembling breath. “This is yours now.” Selina released his arms, the metal groaning as it was forced to relinquish its quarry. Again and again, she held out the mask and again and again, Scorpius shook his head.
Selina dropped her voice and took out her wand. Rose watched as Scorpius stiffened, flattening himself against the wall. Selina spoke again and held out the mask once more. This time Scorpius reached for it.
“No,” Rose whispered. Even from the distance, she could see his hands tremble as he lifted the mask and fit it to his face. It was her dream become flesh, the nightmare become real and unable to remain silent, Rose shook off her brother’s hand and stepped into the room. “This is wrong, Selina.”
Selina laughed with delight at the sight of Rose and Hugo, who had come to stand with his sister. “Excellent; target practice. Where better to start than with a pair of filthy half-breeds?” Before Rose could think, she had been disarmed, her brother too, and Elspeth advanced on them, both their wands held in her spare hand. Rose watched as Hugo was bound, ropes shooting from the tip of Elspeth’s wand. He struggled against them but they held firm.
Rose stood her ground, tearing her eyes away from Hugo. “What are you going to do to us?”
Selina turned to Scorpius. “Bring her to me,” she commanded. She flicked her wand and he was free, climbing to his feet on steady legs, his features obscured by the ghastly mask that sat proud and so painfully real on his face.
When he looked at her, Rose sucked in a breath. His eyes behind the mask were wild, deranged, and she felt a spark of fear as he came towards her. She stumbled, falling backwards, her head smashing against the floor. As she blinked the stars from her vision, Scorpius straddled her, binding her hands above her head with a low muttered incarcerous. Rose bucked against his weight but he tightened his knees around her.
“If you hurt her, Malfoy, I’ll kill you, you understand,” Hugo was yelling. Rose heard a yelp and Elspeth’s throaty laugh.
“Scorpius, please, you’re better than this,” Rose whispered.
“Sssh,” he whispered tenderly, stroking the side of her face. His fingers were soft and gentle but Rose was terrified of what they would do to her. He was strong, she knew that, and without her wand, she was completely vulnerable.
“Please, please, don’t,” Rose choked out as his hand moved to her throat. His fingers tightened slightly and she gasped and coughed, her eyes wide.
He smiled. “Such a delicate thing, the neck; so strong and yet so easily broken. I wonder what it would be like, to break your neck, Rose. Should we find out?”
“You don’t want to do this,” she rasped, throat thick.
“Maybe I do,” he said lightly, trailing a finger down her cheek. “Maybe this is what I need to do – to be the man my father couldn’t. To step out of his shadow and have the power he only dreamed of. Wasn’t it you who told me I needed to do that?”
Rose swallowed a sob. “Those days are over. Your father made the right decision and you know it.” She felt a tear leak from her eye and roll silkily down her cheek. “Don’t do this, please.” She repeated her words, continued to murmur them like a mantra until, at last, he shook his head slightly, his eyes clearing. Rose swallowed, trying to sit up, but he pushed her down, holding her firm with a steady hand. “Scorpius...”
He smiled slowly, and winked. Selina was hovering somewhere in the background, and called out to him.
“Trust me,” Scorpius mouthed, and very slightly, Rose nodded. Hugo was bellowing like a wounded bull and she wished she could tell him it was alright, but there was no way of communicating with him. Scorpius climbed to his feet, reaching down to haul Rose upright. He flung her over his shoulder effortlessly; to anyone watching, his treatment of her would have seemed rough, brutal almost, but the hands that lifted her were delicate and soft, and when he dropped her to the ground at Selina’s feet, he made sure he was gentle.
“Excellent,” Selina breathed, chest heaving. She had her hand over her heart and up close, Rose could see her brow was sweaty, her pupils dilated and her eyes blazing with fanatical fire. “You know what to do next. You need to prove your loyalty.”
“How?” Scorpius mused, pretending to consider it.
“Torture her; crucio her,” Selina hissed. Rose whimpered, her eyes on Scorpius. She trusted him, she was certain of that, but she wondered also how far he would have to take things to catch Selina off guard. She wondered how long it would be until the Auror’s arrived; surely they must know they were here by now?
Scorpius smiled. “I’ve never hurt a girl before,” he said softly, his voice caressing, like silk. He stepped closer, his wand at the ready, and Selina followed, drawn forward by her warped desire to see pain and suffering. Hugo was quiet in the background and Rose hoped he was okay. “But I guess there is a first time for everything,” Scorpius continued, his eyes on Rose. She shrank back from him, unable to prevent herself from doing so.
Scorpius twisted so quickly it was frightening: his fist swung through the air and Selina crumpled like paper at his feet, not uttering a sound. Elspeth shrieked with rage and Scorpius turned his wand on her, Stunning her before she could react. He reached up and ripped the mask from his face, tossing it aside like it was a poisonous beast that could bite. Rose breathed a sigh of relief, her muscles turning to liquid, all tension fleeing her body.
He bent and gathered Rose in his arms, kissing her on the mouth, his hands fluttering to her throat and face. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry, Rose. I never meant to -”
“I’m fine,” she said quickly, her voice thick with emotion. Once he had unbound her, they found Hugo, unharmed but unconscious, lying in a heap near Elspeth’s body. Rose lifted her brother’s head into her lap, stroking the hair back from his forehead and together, they waited for the Auror’s.
Chapter title from the song, Putting the Damage On, by Tori Amos
edited 9.1.11 for typos
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