: I had a moment of hatred for this fic, but realized I was being foolish. Anyway, a huge thanks goes out to Gryffin_Duck, Lia_2390, and SunSation_Gal07 for being online to write this with. Those word sprints were amazing in helping me get this written!
Dominic Yaxley - Chad Michael Murray
Elsa Yaxley - Rachel Leigh Cook
Evander Yaxley - Sean Bean
Sirius Black - Jared Padalecki
Remus Lupin - Jensen Ackles
Lily Evans - Bryce Dallas Howard
Cordelia Crouch - Eliza Dushku
(chapter image by Jeanie @ TDA)
The house he had grown up in had never been as empty was it was now. It had, sadly, gone to his traitorous sister in their father's will rather than Dominic. As the oldest male of their family, this bothered him to no end. The only good that came out of having the house so completely empty however, was that no one was around to stop him from using it for his own purpose. It was perfect for his plans. All it took now was getting the one last piece to fall into place.
Dominic stood in front of the large pane glass door that lead into the backyard, his hands behind his back, deep in thought. Searching for his sister had been his task. Elsa Dominic was sure, had what was stolen from the Dark Lord, and he was going to get it back. One way or another. Of course, searching for Elsa simply because the Dark Lord requested it, wasn't his sole purpose. Dominic was tired of her shaming their family. Their father had, in Dominic's mind, spoiled Elsa. She had been given her every want. Including keeping friends with the wrong sort. This, he felt, was what caused her to be the errant girl that she was, and he was going to put her in her place.
Screams filled the house and brought a smile to Dominic's face. Soon,
he reminded himself. Soon everything would be in place. Elsa would have no choice but to leave whatever protections had been afforded her. Soon she would make the mistake of trusting her friends to keep her safe. Oh, he knew his sister perfectly. The things she would not do to save those she cared about. And Dominic had found one such person. He could picture the look on Elsa's face perfectly when she realized she had been set up.
The door behind him slid open and he watched the small, willowy figure walk towards him, a slight sway in her step. Oh, turning her had been easier than he had ever imagined. A few rounds of drinks, a few well placed words about the world and its current situation, and slowly she had come to her senses. It had all worked in his favour. Three weeks had been all the time he needed to break the girl to his will. Two of those weeks he would forever remember. The fun he had breaking her, it would forever be imprinted in his memory.
“Is our guest settled?” Dominic questioned.
“Snape's watching her now,” the girl answered.
“And why are you not with him?” The girl flinched at his words. “Did I not tell you to stay with her?”
“I...” her words seemed to fail her. “She is screaming at me for being such a horrible friend.”
“She's right you know,” Dominic said with an evil grin. “If you were a true friend, you would never have fallen prey to me.”
He turned to look at her. There was no doubt she had lost weight. Two weeks bound in the hole in the basement with only the scrapes he had given her, and he really wasn't surprised she had lost weight. Though, after the second week, she had been rail thin and too close to dying than what he had originally been aiming for. Had she died his plans would have completely fallen apart. Everything at that moment hinged on his ability to break her will and get her to join the cause.
Healing her had been harder on him than it had been on her, of that he was certain. Dominic's potion making ability was adequate enough for school, but healing had never been his strong suit. After two weeks of a meagre amount of food, trying to force feed her had proved difficult. He had started off simply, a broth his mother used to make when he and Elsa were sick. After that it was onto heartier foods. Things that would put meat back onto her bones. Somehow, it wasn't the torture that had broken her.
“Why?” He remembered her asking him one afternoon last week.
“Why what?” Dominic questioned in return.
“Why didn't you just kill me.”
He had shrugged, not wanting her to know the real reasons of why she was still alive. She had her uses. Being friends with his sister was the only reason she was still alive. Saving her was far from what he really wanted to do. He did not care whether she lived or died. He cared only that his plan succeeded. And she was still too important to the plan. Soon though, he relished the thoughts of ending her life. He wondered if she knew he planned to kill her once she out grew her usefulness.
Watching her now, the way she stood, her hands hanging limply at her sides, the trusting look in her eyes, Dominic knew she had no idea that her end was coming. Soon
, he told himself again. He walked towards her, watching her flinch as he raised his hand. He was not above hitting her. He had before. Instead, he laid his hand gently on her cheek. Dominic was not one to show affection, but in that moment, he knew that to keep her on her tight leash, it was exactly what she needed. He could not afford to have her thinking for herself. His will was now her and he would do whatever he had to to keep it that way. Including showing emotions he did not feel.
She pressed her cheek into his hand and closed her eyes. For three weeks Dominic had been the only face she had been allowed to see. He was her tormentor and her saviour. Now he was her master. He knew she would do whatever he asked of her.
“Write her,” Dominic said in a soft, seductive voice. “Tell her what you think has happened. Tell her you fear for your safety and want more than anything to go into hiding with her.”
“Elsa won't care.”
“Oh, she might once she receives the letter I will send her.” He caressed her cheek and watched her eyelashes flutter. He took no joy in what he was doing, but it seemed to keep her in check. “You don't want to end up back downstairs, do you?”
“No!” Fear had crept back into her voice, but she did not take a step back from him as she suspected she would. “Please don't send me back into that hole!”
Her fear was like sweet honey on his tongue. It made everything that much better. Maybe she would not out grow her usefulness. Maybe he might just keep her around as something fun to play with from time to time. Dominic traced his fingers along her jaw and down her neck, watching her shiver in anticipation as he did so. A smirk played at his lips. Women were still so much the weaker sex, easily manipulated. A little fear went a long way.
It was so easy to get her to do what he wanted. Dominic took a step away from her, watching her sway from his sudden departure. No wonder it had only taken three weeks to break her. He had expected it to take all summer. His sister's friends were not only easily manipulated, they were weak like she was. For one to break so easily, it gave Dominic high hopes of destroying his sister. Perhaps he would be able to bring her in line like their father should have done years ago.
Dominic poured himself a shot of brandy, his father's best brandy, and took a seat. He watched as his new pet crossed the room and took a seat at the desk. The methodical scratching of quill on parchment made him drowsy, but he would not sleep until she was locked away in her room and their guest had been heavily sedated.
Elsa took a sharp breath and a step away from the boys. This was not happening. Her brother was not just here. They were supposed to be safe. Dumbledore had chosen some remote village in Wales because she had never been there before. Her family had absolutely no ties to Wales and yet her brother had been there. Shaking her head, she tried to think logically about what this meant for them. If Sirius, James and Remus had confronted her brother then he would know where they were. He would stop at nothing until he found some way through the wards. But if they did nothing, then maybe they were still safe.
Her first thought was to run. To get away from the one place that was meant to keep her safe. If Dominic ever found her, he would kill her. As terrified as she was, she stood there watching Sirius and his friends. They had promised to keep her location secret. None of them would tell Dominic where she was, would they? Skeptically, she looked from one person to the next as if trying to figure out which one of them would have the indecency to tell her brother anything. Elsa had trusted these people. As much as she wanted to believe they would never tell, she knew that there was only so much one person could take before they gave in.
“We need to tell your dad and Dumbledore,” Remus said, having not moved from where he was standing.
“Take the girls and James with you,” Sirius said, without taking his eyes off Elsa.
Elsa watched as everyone but Sirius ran off towards the house. She knew that once her father knew Dominic had been anywhere near them, he would come searching for her to make sure she was safe and sound. The thoughts that her brother had been so close to them made her stomach tight with fear. She wanted more than anything to bury her face in Sirius's shoulder and cry. She no longer felt safe. She felt terrified.
Looking at Sirius, she could tell he was struggling with something. The first onset of tears welled in her eyes as she threw herself into his arms. There was one thing she knew that would never change and that was Sirius's absolutely ridiculous loyalty to his friends. He would die trying to save any of them. It was why she knew she could trust him with her safety. That and she knew he loved her.
“I'm scared,” she sobbed into his chest.
Sirius said nothing. He held her while she cried and tried the best to soothe her. Elsa knew she was not the easiest person to get along with. She knew she made everyone's life a little more difficult with her moodiness. But when it came down to it, she was so grateful for the friends she did have.
“He doesn't know we're here,” Sirius said finally, trying to calm her. “As much as I wanted to, as much as it would have made your life easier if he was gone, we stayed where he couldn't find us.”
“But he'll keep looking. Sirius, he'll never stop looking. How am I supposed to go back to school when he'll kill me?”
“I won't let that happen.”
“We aren't even in the same house, Sirius. You can't protect me all the time.”
“I can try.”
It was an absolutely ludicrous notion that he would be able to protect her while they were at school. They didn't have all the same classes together, and they didn't live in the same dorms. Of course the same could be said about her brother too. But Elsa wasn't stupid enough to believe that Dominic wouldn't find a way to reach her when she was supposed to be safe from him. How many Ravenclaws were friends with him or one of his Slytherin friends? How many of the girls were dating a Slytherin boy? She knew that nay one of them might be loyal enough or stupid enough to help their boyfriend or one of his friends. Could she trust anyone anymore?
They were not left alone for very long. Like she had assumed, as soon as Evander had found out that his son had been anywhere near the wards, he had sought out his daughter. As soon as she saw her father, Elsa ran to him. He knew what Dominic was capable of. He knew that his son was absolutely off his rocker crazy. If anyone would understand her fear, Evander would. Evander wrapped his arms around his daughter and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Someone explain to me what is going on?” Evander asked.
James and Sirius launched into an explanation of what had happened. How James had been wandering the orchard and had stumbled upon the scene. How Remus and Sirius had followed after him and done nothing when they saw Dominic standing there on the other side of the wards. All the while Evander's face remained like stone, unmoved by their description of what had transpired while they were out walking. But Elsa, who was standing with her arms wrapped around her father's waist, felt his body tense with each word the boys spoke.
They were lead back into the house and made to sit in the den while Evander called Dumbledore. No one spoke to each other. Elsa sat with her head tucked under Sirius's arm. If she had her way, she would just disappear entirely. Dominic was, as usual, spoiling everything. Just when she thought she might be able to enjoy a day in peace, he had to pop up out of nowhere and ruin it.
“I can't take it anymore,” Evander said suddenly, finished with his conversation with Dumbledore. “Either I am housing a bunch of liars, or the lot of you really have no idea what is going on. Someone needs to come clean. Now. Before Dumbledore arrives.”
Elsa gulped. She had heard her father angry numerous times before, but this was different. There was fear wedged in there, masked almost entirely by his anger. But Elsa knew it was there. She could hear the difference in his voice. The slight inflection that was the only sign her father was afraid. She bit at her lower lip and looked at her friends. No one said anything. They had, of course, unwittingly decided that any help from adults was strictly prohibited. Plus, Elsa had never even looked at the scroll. She had no idea of its importance. She knew however, that Sirius carried it with him.
Sirius stood and disappeared out of the room, only to return with the scroll in hand. His job was to keep it safe until Elsa was ready for it, but with her life in danger, he was willing to bet trusting her father might just save her life one day. He stood in front of Evander, the scroll lying flat in his hand. Elsa waited on baited breath while her father simply stared at the piece of parchment.
“You mean to tell me, it has been here all along?” Evander questioned. “We had assumed it was hidden somewhere in the school.”
“It was. For a time. But when school ended, I couldn't very well leave it there where a house elf might find it while cleaning up,” Sirius said, and looked at Elsa. “I know Damon made me promise to keep it for you, but if this is what Dominic is after, then maybe we shouldn't have it. Maybe Dumbledore should.”
“I never wanted the responsibility of it anyway, Sirius. I don't care what is written inside. It's killed on of us already. I won't let it kill more of us. Dad and Dumbledore can have it. They could burn it and then no one could have it,” Elsa said with a sad smile.
Evander took the scroll from Sirius's hand and moved to sit next to his daughter. “It holds some sort of value to both You-Know-Who and the Egyptian man who kidnapped you last Christmas. Destroying it without knowing what is inside would be foolish.”
“Even if it meant saving people's lives if neither of them could ever get their hands on it?”
“Who are we to decide who lives and who dies? How many people have to die before it becomes clear that no one should have their hands on this scroll?” Elsa said, snatching the scroll out of her father's hands. “This tiny, fragile thing nearly cost me my life. It cost Damon his. How many more people have to suffer because of it?”
She stood up and stormed over to the fire place, with its smoldering ashes. Why shouldn't she destroy the one thing that had caused her so much personal pain? Damon had wanted her to have it, for her to make a choice where it was concerned. Burning it was definitely a fine choice. Though, somewhere at the back of her mind Elsa was curious as to why this piece of parchment had caused so much pain. What was so special about it that she had to be tortured for it to be returned. Or Damon had to lose his life because of it.
“You can't do it, can you?” Evander asked, a slight smug tone to his voice. “Your curiosity will always win out, no matter how righteous it seems to destroy it. You want to know why. Why you? Why Damon? Why that scroll? Open it.”
Elsa wheeled around to glare at her father. He was right of course, which was why she was so mad. Her curiosity was the only thing keeping her from tossing the damn thing in the fire. But she couldn't do it. Lord help her, she couldn't destroy something that might change the fate of the war with You-Know-Who. What if it was something that could help them win? What if they could stop him and his menacing death eaters? She would give anything to stop the war and the death she had seen while in Cairo.
Placing the scroll on the coffee table, Elsa sat on her knees on one side, while everyone else gathered around it. Evander handed her a letter opener and allowed her to break the seal. She slipped the edge of the opener under the wax seal and tried her best not to damage it. For whatever reason, she wanted to keep that tiny little flower intact. Elsa paused when she had lifted the whole seal off the parchment.
“I've seen that flower before,” she said, looking at her father. “Where have I seen it?”
Evander stood and walked over to one of the bookshelves. He ran his fingers along the spines of the books until he stopped at one Elsa recognized immediately. The book had been in the Yaxley family for generations. Each page held parts of their family tree. Elsa remembered reading it as a child when she wanted to know more about their family and where she came from. She watched her father flip through the pages until he stopped on one. He handed her the book and waited.
There on the top of the page was the same symbol. A black flower with a strange flourish around the outside of it. The one on the page was centre of a shield, a coat of arms for her family. Then she was able to remember where else she had seen it. There was a coat of arms just like it carved into the headboard of her bed. Another one on the family ring her father wore on his right hand. And one hung on a chain around her grandmother's neck.
“I think Damon knew that you were always meant to have it,” Evander said, as realization slipped across Elsa's face. “Are you ready to find out what's inside?”