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Chapter 6 : keys, the Fraternity and the uncovering of a plan
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Dad and Uncle Harry
-18 Cuckoo Road, London
Saturday 23rd October
I stood outside Lily’s tiny terrace, and looked helplessly at the metal mass I was supposed to find the right key in.
“Bugger it,” I muttered, and did a quick Muggle check. There was only an old street cleaner with his hood up against the freezing wind, so I muttered “Alohamora,” and quietly let myself in.
I started in the kitchen, Vanishing any food I came across, except for a packet of unopened Cheerios which I started to munch. Then I did her bedroom - which held a surprising amount of pasties and a message from her French boyfriend scrawled across the mirror in bright purple lipstick (very clichéd, Jean), and then... it was the turn of the living room.
I know I’m a slob, but I’m a clean slob. I leave clean clothes around the house. I can’t stand breakfasts in bed because I get crumbs everywhere. Plates and bowls are strewn across the kitchen, but at night I’ll clean them all. I might never put them away, but they’re hygienic.
Lily is disgustingly messy. Dirty messy. I had been cleaning as I worked through- her kitchen sparkled now, and the bedrooms and study had been hoovered, but this living room...
It was going to take forever.
Her curtains were half-shut, the midday sun casting an orange glow over the room. I tugged them back, and surveyed the mess in a better light. The sofa was a bombsite of blankets and pillows, her coffee table piled high with books and magazines. The floor- well, you couldn’t see it, and various bits of paperwork were scattered across any flat surface.
Actually, some of it was really interesting. I had read various trap descriptions for Gringotts, how to properly cook a lobster, numerous torn-out pages of Lockhart’s ‘Wanderings with Werewolves’ (for fire-lighting, no doubt) and the dust jackets of books with shopping lists scribbled on the inside. I soldiered on, cleaning away like the good little cleaner-upper I was, alternately saying ‘scourgify’ and ‘evanesco’,
Most of the parchment was charmed to be blank to a Muggle’s eyes. It was easy to tell which ones- they seemed to draw my attention, tugging my eyes away from boring lists of ‘Lily’s Top Ten Favourite Power Ballads’, but then lazily swam into focus. Lily’s boyfriend was Muggle (and French), fully aware of magic and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.
And then, I came across a brown folder which I at once knew had stronger enchantments. And, in thick red ink across the front was written the words; ‘TOP SECRET’.
And that is just a synonym for ‘read me now, please Rose’.
So I scrutinised the front cover. Lily loved puzzles- there once was a time when she became obsessed with point-and-click-games on the internet- and there wouldn’t be a simple enchantment to open the folder. Eventually, I saw that there was a tiny, tiny black dot in the middle of the right hand side, so I carefully tapped it with my wand and enunciated clearly; “Engorgio”.
The dot grew into a lock. Oh, very clever, Lily. “Alohamora,” I said with a casual wave of my wand, and it blew up in my face.
“Shit.” The bang was incredibly loud, and I waited a second to see if anyone had heard.
Thankfully, the folder was unharmed, and the street undisturbed, although there was now a circular scorch mark around the folder, extending over the coffee table and onto the carpet. Ah well, Lily would never notice if I covered it with enough rubbish.
I needed a key. I thought for a second, my eyes closed. Lily’s house was a mess. There was no way in heaven, hell, earth or Middle-Earth that I was going to find it, so I pulled a hair-grip out of my tangled mane, and slowly inserted it into the lock.
I jiggled the tumblers, thoroughly impressed. Lily had created an entire Muggle lock- with four, no, five tumblers inside a sheaf of papers. She deserved a promotion. However, it was still no match for my good old trusty hair-slide.
The final tumbler clicked into place and I flipped the cover open. It was a folder on the Fraternity, detailing their activities over the past year and a half- it was a seriously thick folder. I skipped through to the most recent stuff- and found a piece detailing their plans to get into Hogwarts. It was dated the tenth of October and a tiny scrawl of writing was in the corner; ‘told Dom’.
My heart thumping, I went back to the start and started to read, scanning for any mention of us at all. It was highlighted in pink that the Fraternity was doing its best to recruit werewolves throughout the summer. Nineteenth of July; Scorpius was mentioned. Twentieth; they’d dealt with Class A Untradeable Goods- as purveyed by Roxy. And again on the twenty-fifth Scorpius was there, and all the way through August and September- his last mention was on the first of October.
I sat down on the sagging sofa, and forced myself to breathe normally. This wasn’t conclusive proof that Scorpius was our poisoner, in fact, it was fairly logical for him to be checking in with the Fraternity (although perhaps not that much)- he was our ears on the street. Roxy- well, that was more suspicious, but when you’re dealing with Untradeable stuff, I doubt she knows who she’s selling it to.
But if Scorpius was our ears on the street, why did Lily have anything on the Fraternity? Did she get it off Scorpius? Or Dom? Did Dom know everything?
What was disturbing was that Lily and Dom (and possibly Scorpius) all knew about the Fraternity’s attempt on Hogwarts, and didn’t tell us. Albus, James and I could have been killed. Was that why Scorpius left? He would rather leave us all than face the Fraternity? This ruled out that Scorpius had set the Fraternity on us as revenge, but opened up a completely new can of worms.
Either way, it looked like Scorpius was right- we did have a traitor in our midst.
I rubbed my face. This isn’t proof of anything, I told myself firmly. Nothing.
Then I heard the softest click as the front door shut.
“Homenum Revelio,” I heard a man whisper, and I threw up a non-verbal Shield Charm just in time. The spell flew past me like a soft breath of warm wind.
“There’s no one here,” the man said after a second.
I recognised his voice, I realised, and then an even more familiar voice said gruffly: “Let’s start looking then.”
It was Dad and Uncle Harry. Bloody hell, was it the Aurors on this now, or just family? I could deal with Aurors. I felt guilty if I attacked family.
I couldn’t Disapparate silently yet, although by Merlin I had been practising, so the only real options were diving out of a window or hiding, but my ribs screamed at even the thought of diving out the window- my only real option was hiding.
My hands were already covering up the burn marks as I thought, automatically covering the table and floor with paper and cushions, and smoothing out the creases in the sofa as I listened to Dad and Uncle Harry’s soft footsteps as they inspected Lily’s apartment.
They got closer, and so I managed to noiselessly slip into a cupboard just as they walked into the living room. I had managed to grab the folder as well. Last thing we wanted them to see was that we’d been monitoring the meanest crime unit in Britain. I sealed the cupboard door with a whispered “Colloportus”, wincing at the slight squelching sound it made, but Dad walked into the door frame of the living room at precisely the right moment, and the sound was covered up. Harry followed Dad into the room, slightly more gracefully.
“It’s very clean for Lily’s house,” said Dad uncertainly. “Are you sure this is where she lives?”
I pressed my eye to the gap between the doors. Dad had sat down on the newly-cleaned sofa. I had a few Galleons in my pocket from that, and he propped his lanky legs onto the coffee table, next to the scattering of magazines and a bowl.
“Of course I’m sure where my daughter lives,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “Ginny and I came round the other day anyway,” he added. “Maybe she’s got a house-elf?”
I’m a house-elf.
“Are you kidding me? She’s a paid-up member of SPEW, and campaigned to get rid of the new dragon in Gringotts. She’s not got a house-elf,” Dad said.
“Someone’s been here,” Harry muttered, fingering the rim of the breakfast bowl on the table. “There are traces of magic today.”
“They must have left just before we came.”
“So someone cleaned out all her food- because they knew it was poisoned? Maybe we’ll have better luck in one of the other kid’s houses?”
Not likely, old man. I’m a mean, green, cleaning machine.
Harry sat heavily down next to Dad. “This can’t be just accidental magical food-poisoning,” Dad said.
“You think that we’re being targeted?”
Dad had his ‘knowing’ face on. It wasn’t a very common facial expression for him, but it was extremely obvious. He had his eyebrows raised and his nose scrunched up, and his mouth half-open- he couldn’t decide whether to say something or not.
He usually never managed to get it out before Mum said something. She either was completely oblivious to his knowing face or liked to ruin his fun.
Harry noticed the face. “Spit it out Ron,” he said.
Dad dug into his coat pocket. “I got this a few days ago, by Muggle post.”
He showed Harry a piece of A4 white paper, and I could make out typed words, but Harry angled it towards the light, obscuring my view.
There was silence as he read, and then he hit Ron. “Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?”
“Come off it, we get more death threats than Voldemort did. How should I know that this one was different?” Dad said, but he sounded guilty.
“This threatens our kids, Ron! Not us!”
I barely breathed, I was so tense.
Harry adjusted his glasses as he read it again. “Jesus, they’re even threatening Luna’s kids and the Malfoy’s. What are we going to do?”
“I’ll tell you what we’re not going to do,” said Dad.
“We’re not going to tell Hermione, or Ginny, or my mother.”
Harry nodded. “Good plan.”
I un-tensed a tiny bit with relief. Thank Merlin. It was easy keeping this life from the all the guys. They thought they were so hardcore, being all Auror-ish while Aunty Ginny plays international Quidditch, Mum practically runs the Ministry, and Grandma Molly single-handedly runs our entire clan. It’s keeping it from them that we find hard.
“Why are they threatening the kids though?” Dad moaned, suddenly dropping his head into his hands. “What are they? Criminals?”
Oh Dad. I hated, hated lying to them. I hated it. I’d happily give this life up if it meant I never had to lie to them again, but with the rest of us younger ones, I’d always just be needed to unlock a door, or cover for them at home.
“We should just watch and wait,” Harry said, decisively. “Mungo’s don’t reckon that the kids’ conditions are serious.”
Then Lily’s fireplace burst into blue flames, and a scrap of parchment fluttered through. Harry and Dad both stood up to catch it, but Harry reached it first. Dad sent a pile of books, a mug and a board game flying.
“Mr Potter and Mr Weasley,” he read sombrely, “your immediate presence is urgently required in St. Mungo’s Hospital, with especial regards to Miss Victoire Weasley and Mr Theodore Lupin’s health. Yours, Healer Harrington.”
There was a beat of silence, and then they both grabbed a handful of Floo powder from the flowerpot, vanishing into the still blue flames.
A/N: dear Lord, what do you think is happening with Vic and Teddy? And all the paperwork in Lily's flat... oooooh ;)
I'm sorry it's been so long to update :( Don't hurt me, instead leave a lovely long review. Kill with kindness!
This chapter was mostly written for VioletBlade's Five Elements Challenge; living room scene. Credit to Tolkien for Middle-Earth.
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