I opened the door slowly. The house was dark, and I shuffled forward, careful that my feet didn’t make a sound. Something was different. Jane was usually pottering around the kitchen, or reorganising the bookcases, or polishing something to within an inch of its life - but I couldn’t see her. It was quiet... too quiet.
I turned to leave. Atticus obviously wasn’t here.
I had reached for the handle of the door before I tripped over something in my path. Pulling my wand from my pocket, I tried to inspect the eerie darkness before me. I had tripped over a foot, and there was a body lying face down on the kitchen floor. My heart started racing at a million beats per second, and my pounding headaches came back in waves as I tried to deal with the situation.
There was no blood, no revolting stench. I lit my wand, and traced the body from the feet to the shoulders. It was Jane - I recognised her from the blue floral dress. I leant down, trying to find a pulse at her throat as I inspected her body for wounds. I couldn’t feel anything, no steady heartbeat, and there were no apparent wounds. And then my wand light illuminated the top of her body, and I felt faint.
Her head was the wrong way round. Her face was staring up at the ceiling, whereas the rest of her body was facing downwards. There was a mass of broken bones and twisted tendons wrapped in red and folded skin - that was where her neck should have been. Her silver necklace was still wrapped around it, like some ghastly ornament. Her eyes were wide and staring, her mouth hanging open.
I dropped my wand, collapsing onto the floor. I felt bile rise in my throat and I vomited, the stench stinging my nostrils.
“Ah, Dom, you’ve decided to join us. We were waiting for you.”
The voice came from the shadows at the other side of the kitchen. I recognised it instantly. Light flooded back into the lamps and I blinked stupidly in the brightness, white spots in front of my eyes. I couldn’t look at Jane’s body, at its twisted and manipulated form. I needed to get away.
“You’ve made quite a mess, haven’t you?”
When my eyes finally grew accustomed to the bright light, I looked up, but only to see my wand fly through the air. A pale, freckled hand reached out to snatch it. I was defenseless. I tried to push myself up from the floor, but my arms were suddenly very weak. I felt dizzy and sick. My little finger accidentally touched the cold of Jane’s skin, and I flinched.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?”
I looked at them. I looked at the person I least expected to be sitting at the kitchen table of Atticus’ house, and I tried weakly to stare them down, to be the one in control, even though I wasn’t holding a wand and my limbs had failed me. I was going to say something courageous, something witty, but my voice faded and waned, and all I could croak out was one word. One name.
“Very good! It’s not like you’ve known me since childhood and we’re related by blood, but well done all the same.”
I heard the scrape of chair leg against floor, and footsteps walking towards me. My breaths were ragged and hollow, and my hands were shaking. I felt her hands on my arms, pulling me up into a standing position. My legs felt frail, like muscles didn’t seem to be working.
And all I could smell was her ridiculous perfume, overpowering me, covering up the stench of my vomit. She pressed me lightly against the wall, and her face suddenly filled my vision and all I could see was freckles and dark hair and Uncle Percy. Auntie Audrey cleaning red wine stain off the carpet. Little Lucy with her head of curls. Lysander kissing those lips.
“Jane,” I rasped, my voice barely a murmur.
“Yes, that was me,” Molly replied. “Sorry about that, she was a little in the way. Kept trying to hex me. Poor thing.” She flicked her wand and I felt ropes bind themselves around my arms and legs tightly. They closed around my chest.
“You’re... are you... you’re not going to kill me?”
“Not yet, Dom,” she replied, her voice chirpy and enthusiastic, sickeningly similar to the way she used to regurgitate the rules back at school or go on and on about how life great was in France. I couldn’t help but think of her ridiculous giggles as Lysander mentioned her in his speech, praising her and complimenting her; the picture of a loving couple.
A few mumbled incantations and I was lifted off the floor, and guided carefully through the doorway and into the living room. It was dark in here too, but I could just make out the silhouette of a person seated opposite. It was Atticus.
He was bound to a chair, his head lolling on his chest. Blood poured from a wound on the right side of his head, his fingers contorted and misshapen: the white of bone through red blood. Bile once again rose in my throat, and I struggled to keep it down.
Molly moved her wand again, and I collapsed onto a chair opposite him. I was relieved to see a strand of his usually neat hair wafting in front of him, proof that he was breathing. I felt the squeeze of more ropes as Molly tied me to the chair. Then she pointed her wand straight at Atticus, muttered ‘rennervate’ and his eyes opened. They were bloodshot and glistening with tears. I couldn’t make out his scar through the blood.
I wanted to leave. I could see my wand on the table beside her chair, next to Atticus’.
“What about Dmitri?” I asked. Maybe he could help us.
“Oh, he’s upstairs,” she replied brightly. Her fingers automatically laced themselves together and started twisting erratically. There were several moments of silence, and I glanced at the ceiling - I wondered what had actually happened to Dmitri, whether his head was round the wrong way, or whether Molly had been merciful and he was simply unconscious.
“This is nice, isn’t it?”
Molly planted herself in the seat between us, and I felt my mind become more coherent. I could feel all my fingers and toes, and the ringing in my ears had stopped. I would need to think to be able to think of a way to get out of here, with Atticus, without being maimed or killed in the process.
Molly was dressed in black, classically French and chic, and her hair was swept back in an elegant bun. Her smile was large, and her eyes were wide and staring. Her gaze switched between Atticus and I. She sipped delicately from a cup of tea, the china cup and saucer chinked together as she replaced on the table.
Where had she come from? Why had she killed Jane so ruthlessly? Somewhere, she had learned how to twist people’s head around, breaking their necks and severing their nerves. She was meant to be studying abroad in France, eager to enforce rules and finish her homework, giggling stupidly at anything anyone said to her, her hands twisting in her lap. She was meant to be vulnerable, weak, easily defeated, not this monster that had crept into Atticus’ house, killed his housekeeper and his colleague, and tortured him.
And kidnapped me.
The Molly sitting on the sofa in front of me was different; her mannerisms and her appearance had remained the same, but she was different. She was more unstable, more deadly. I wondered what would happen if Uncle Percy could see her now, with blood on her hands and a soul split into so many pieces. I wondered what he would say.
Then again, who was I to judge.
Molly set down her cup of tea.
“So I hear you’re running away with my boyfriend.”
I had expected her to make idle conversation about the weather or her life in France, maybe whether she was going to let us go, but not Lysander.
He had told me this morning that he was going to go to Molly, to talk to her, to end their relationship. I had told him not to, that we needed time, but he had gone behind my back and gloated about how he had finally won me.
I wasn’t sad for her. He had never belonged with her - wild, rebellious Lysander would never belong with bland, monotonous Molly. He would get bored. I didn’t realise that she would take it so badly... so badly she would kill over it. She would kill me. Not yet, Dom.
But not now, I wouldn’t let that happen. I doubted it would ever happen. I needed answers from her, so I didn’t say anything. I didn’t even move, but I could see Atticus’ judgmental look from across the room.
“I was naturally a little upset about it, so I wanted to tell you about how I killed your old boyfriend, but Atticus here wouldn’t let me.”
Not that answer, though. Definitely not that.
White noise. Incoherent thoughts fluttered in and out of my head, but I couldn’t catch hold of them. Molly’s mouth continued to move, smiling and laughing occasionally, but I couldn’t hear her words. It was as if all my senses had been infused with a static that wouldn’t cease. I couldn’t move, and my breath was trapped inside of my lungs with the sudden shock.
Molly killed Lorcan. My cousin, Molly. Little cousin Molly who I used to pick on at school, the woman who had killed one Scamander and fell in love with another. Molly killed Lorcan. Lorcan was killed by Molly.
Not Lysander, not Copperfield, not Anthony Featherby.
I had killed the wrong person.
“Lorcan,” I choked out.
“Yes, him. The love of your life, whoever,” Molly replied nonchalantly. “Je m'en fiche.” 
“Molly, don’t do this...” Atticus blurted out suddenly, but my cousin simply looked bored and flicked her wand at him. There was a sickening crunch and his little finger bent backwards at an unnatural angle. He cried out in pain.
“Atticus doesn’t want me to tell you all the gory details, but I think it’ll be good for you. Feel my pain, you understand, don’t you Dom? You know what it’s like when Lysander leaves you,” she said, looking at me with wide eyes that gave off a misleading air of innocence. I nodded swiftly, clenching my hands into fists to protect my fingers.
She had killed Lorcan.
But she hadn’t. She couldn’t. There was no way that little cousin Molly could have murdered Lorcan so viciously.
It was the logical answer. This was all some convoluted trick, some outlandish and protracted fabrication with Molly pulling the strings just because she had a wand in her hands and could break some more of Atticus’ fingers with a single spell. Trust Molly to make her revenge ridiculously complex, and involve Atticus. Trust Molly to take it so far so as to kill someone. She was always so meticulous when it came to plans and her homework and the rules - it was strange that she would break them so easily just she get her vengeance.
This was the Molly I had seen cry when someone took her dolls as a child. This was the Molly who went inside at the first sign of sunlight for fear of burning. This was the Molly who had smiled and giggled at her Hogwarts graduation. The Molly who posed no immediate threat to anyone.
She was playing games with me again, just as she had played them at the Burrow. She had conducted this whole affair to make me suffer - she had enlisted Atticus’ help. Jane wasn’t really dead in the kitchen, it was just a mannequin. She hadn’t killed Lorcan. She hadn’t killed anyone. This was a massive elaborate scheme designed to make me feel bad about running away with Lysander.
What made it worse was the fact I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go with him.
And she was here, apparently killing people left, right and centre, and it made no sense. The only logical explanation would be that it was all one, big lie.
Anthony Featherby killed Lorcan. Atticus had nothing to do with it, and he wasn’t a master in potion making. The organization at Mossbury Walton was completely legitimate. Molly was just mad with jealously because she was in love with Lysander. I knew how it felt to be in love with a Scamander.
Molly shrieked in exaltation, clapping her hands together.
“I knew you’d say that! I knew it!”
“You’re lying to me,” I repeated.
“I’m not,” Molly said. “Atticus, tell her!”
His gaze flicked between the two of us, his mouth opening and closing as if to say something. Molly grew infuriated, tired of waiting for him to speak, and she flicked her wand at him - within seconds the fingernails of his right hand were bloody lumps on the floor, the crimson liquid sinking into the carpet. His fingers remained bleeding stumps, broken and twisted. He didn’t cry out this time but instead slumped forward, his eyes closed, as he apparently fainted in pain and shock.
I struggled against my ropes, but they were tightening around me as she twisted her wand in her hands.
“Molly... you need to let me go.”
“I don’t,” she replied tunefully. She picked an apple out of the fruit bowl on the table, rolling it between her fingers.
“You’re being stupid,” I said, rolling my eyes. I heard a thump as the apple dropped to the floor, and the clatter of Molly’s wand as she picked it up off the table. I should have been wary, obviously, avoiding eye contact with her, my gaze automatically focusing on the broken stubs of Atticus’ fingers.
“Is this really because of Lysander?”
“Well, you are going to run away with him, apparently.”
“And you’re jealous,” I said quietly. I knew that this was dangerous territory. “You love him.”
“I don’t, which is weird, isn’t it?” Molly replied brightly. She smiled again, and I believed her. “I’m just a little psychotic. I thought that you might need taking down a peg or two.”
“By killing my boyfriend.”
“Oh, no…” Molly said, as she swooped down to pick up the apple from the floor, and cleaned it scrupulously against her fancy French trousers. “I did that ages ago… I’m going to do it by taking a leg or two.”
And then she giggled, and bit into her apple, juice spraying around her mouth and onto her silk shirt. Her other hand toyed with the handle of her wand, and I gazed at it.
“Molly,” I tried again, and her eyes flashed in my direction, “I’ll tell him to stay with you. I’ll tell him to go back to France with you, and you can live with him forever. You don’t need to keep going with this. No one believes you.”
She laughed again, high-pitched. “You really don’t believe me, do you?”
I shook my head.
The look she gave me made me doubt myself, and doubt her innocence. It was so malicious, so remorseless, that it scared me. I could no longer see the Molly that had bee a feature in my childhood. I couldn’t see the traits that Percy or Audrey had passed down to her - her nose no longer possessed the same Weasley kink, and her freckles were indistinguishable because of the shadow that fell across her face.
“Oh, Dommy…” she said. Her perfume was still overwhelming me, and her hands were twisting at manic speeds in her lap. “You’re so untrustworthy. I think you should just believe whatever I tell you. It just makes more sense, doesn’t it?”
She took a moment to compose herself, her hands finally resting still.
“As long as you don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret,” she said, smiling sweetly. Molly poured herself another cup of tea and settled back against the cushions of the sofa. “Right, where shall we begin?”
I looked blankly at her, and she looked expectantly at Atticus. His eyes were still fixed on the ground, and I couldn’t help but stare at his mangled fingers, bones jutting out of the skin at odd angles, a mass of knotted tendons and muscles.
“Why?” I said quickly. “Why did you do it?”
“Oh.” She turned to look at me, and smiled. “No reason, in particular. I work for his dad, it was a job and I needed to pay my rent. The cost of French living is very high and I think...”
She was the other Weasley.
“He let my wife and child die.”
‘However, an anonymous source suggested that they could have survived, and that their wounds could have been easily treated. Scamander faced an enquiry at the hospital, but the evidence was too insubstantial and the source did not testify.’
Either Atticus or Iago was the anonymous source, and so they had asked for Lorcan to be killed, and Molly did it. I felt like I should be reacting strongly to this, shouting and screaming, trying to escape from bonds and rush to kill Molly with my bare hands, but I felt too tired, like this was all too much. I had unknowingly worked and trusted the man who condemned Lorcan to death. I had unknowingly shared genes with the woman who killed him.
And I was blank, stoic. I couldn’t cry.
“He tried his hardest,” I replied weakly, matching his gaze: that was what the article has said, but still my words were uncertain and shaky. “He did all he could do.”
“You don’t understand,” Atticus said, his voice still quiet. “She came out with scars she didn’t have when she went it. He did... something... to her. To her body. I don’t know what.”
“So you had him killed?” I said, and Atticus nodded. I did nothing, apart from stare at the ground between us. No tears. Nothing. I should try and defend Lorcan, my brain reasoned. I should try and support the man I love. Loved. I tried hard to picture him, but it had been so long since I had seen him, since I had held him, that I couldn’t remember. He had been replaced by the other Scamander now, but I still felt a wash of affection flow over me at the sound of his name, and hot indignation at the idea that he had ruined someone’s life.
“Is that why you hired me? Was it because of Lorcan?” I asked. Maybe it was all interlinked somehow; Molly, me, Lorcan, Lysander, Atticus and his wife. I couldn’t see how, but I needed answers. The sky had grown dark outside, and with it, I grew more and more nervous. It would be easier for Molly to hide in the dark, for her to run away unscathed. For her to hide the bodies.
“Yes and no,” Atticus said, “remember when I told you about my wife? Back when you killed Featherby and started living here? I told you ‘we had something planned’.”
“That was me,” I said blankly, realisation dawning.
He smiled weakly. “That was you. Take the last thing he had and ruin it. Split its soul, feed it poison, and ruin it. Those drugs you’ve been taking... that we provided for you, they... unsettle people. Play with their emotions, alter their opinions, choices, whatever. They’ve changed who you’ve become. Molly takes them too.”
The pill bottle in my pocket dug into my thigh, held in place by the heavy ropes. I had been taking them; at least a couple every day. They stopped my headaches, but I still felt in controls of my emotions and my thoughts: I had some awareness of my actions - I felt responsible, I felt guilty, I felt overwhelming consuming misery. I wasn’t like Molly. I would never become Molly.
I would never be like her.
She nodded and smiled at me. “Don’t you remember? I came to visit you... this was only days after I killed your boyfriend. You were all sad and lonely and you said you’d meet me at Flourish and Blotts but you never did.”
“Molly told us how vulnerable you were,” Atticus said. At least there was some remorse in his voice - it was better than Molly’s insolent tones. “I think ‘ripe for the picking’ were her words exactly.”
Molly giggled. “Oh, I remember!”
I finally unclenched my fists, and feeling flooded back into my fingers.
“And do you remember that time you came to Mossbury Walton and I was there? And when I came here?” Molly rambled on. “I was so nervous because Victoire was here as well, I was worried something would slip out. Atticus didn’t invite me, you see, I had turned up unannounced. It was very wrong of me.”
It was wrong of her to kill Lorcan.
I couldn’t remember. I struggled to remember a time I had seen Molly before this week, before the welcome home party at the Burrow. It must have been the night Lysander left. I wondered what she was talking about. Then she pulled a pair of circular glasses from her jacket pocket and put them on. She manipulated her voice so it was deeper, and quieter.
“Hello, I’m Susan.” She giggled again, and took off the glasses. “Atticus thought it would be a good idea to keep me away from you, so he made me drink Polyjuice all the time. It tastes disgusting! You know, you have to stew lacewing flies for at least twenty-one days... and the fluxweed has to be lunar extracted, but Atticus did that for me, and I think...”
She was talking as if she couldn’t stand the awkwardness, as if she was trying to break the quiet that had stretched between Atticus and me. She was trying to talk her way out of the silence. After all she had done, she still felt the need to analyse any subject to within an inch of its life. I had preferred it when the subject was house elves or the Goblin Rebellions or the twelve uses of dragon blood... not this. Not how she killed Lorcan.
“So none of it was true,” I said, after a long, pregnant pause. “Mossbury Walton... all of it.”
“Oh it is a real thing...” Molly answered, with a smile. “We just altered some parts of it, just for you. You should feel special.”
“We don’t have backing from the Ministry,” Atticus said, his eyes not meeting mine. “We’re not legal in anyway... you probably guessed that.”
“And what about Oswald Jones? He talked to me... he congratulated me!”
Silence. Molly signalled for Atticus to answer.
“I’ve been making a lot of Polyjuice Potion,” Atticus said reluctantly. I remembered the trips we had taken to London when I had been living here - either meeting with highly ranked officials or prominent Ministers. They hadn’t acted strangely, or out of place, but then again, I didn’t know any different. I recalled the visits to Diagon Alley - Atticus always went to the apothecary. I had never questioned that, either.
“Port-key official. Would have seen me entering the country, had the papers, and had the proof. We needed to get rid of him.”
“So he wasn’t a notorious mass murderer?”
“No,” Molly said, “I went around killing them to make sure you felt you were upholding some kind of justice. Meant you had a reason for killing him, when really he was a big, fat innocent. His sister must be devastated.”
“So you went around Europe killing Muggles.”
“Mostly in France, yes, but whatever. Didn’t really want to stray too far from home.”
“No,” I said, voice shaking. “Copperfield was a killer. I saw the photos, I read the… it wasn’t you. He did it. You’re lying.”
Molly smiled. She lifted herself off the sofa, and knelt in front of me.
I watched as she pulled a glass beaker from her jacket pocket and showed it to me. There was a lock of hair: fair and straight, just like Susan’s had been. She forced it in between my fingers. She took the pair of circular glasses and put them on my head. And then a port-key document with Copperfield’s signature, and a potion book detailing how to brew Polyjuice potion. She opened it, and pressed between its pages was a red carnation.
“Just believe me, Dominique,” she said quietly. I started shaking. “I killed Lorcan. I killed everyone. I need you to be believe me.”
I started crying: horrible, wet tears streaming down my cheeks and dropping onto the gifts Molly had forced into my hands. She smiled, as if my tears were some sort of prize. She sounded like one of Lysander’s letters, begging and pleading with me to believe him.
Maybe she had watched him write those letters, and smiled.
I had thought he had killed Lorcan for so long. I had thought it was the ultimate betrayal - that someone so close to me could do something so senseless - but it was Molly. She was related to me, shared my genes and my blood - she was closer than Lysander.
“Do you believe me, Dom?” She murmured.
“You have to.”
She curled her fingers around my chin and pulled me close to her face. She planted two kisses, one of each of my cheeks, and then pulled me into a hug. The ropes squeezed tighter, and I felt her wand at my side, digging into my flesh.
“Please,” she whispered. I felt the harsh sting of pain as one of my ribs cracked.
“Yes,” I said quickly. “Yes, I believe you.”
And I did.
She smiled again.
And then ducked, as a curse flew an inch over her head and hit the mirror behind me. Shards of glass exploded everywhere, and I squeezed my eyes shut as pieces landed in my hair and cut my skin. I could see the ropes wrapped loosely around Atticus’ chair, but no Atticus. His bloody fingernails were still in a ghastly pile on the floor.
Molly growled and stood, her hand gripping around her wand.
“Atticus!” She screamed.
The house was silent apart from my cousin’s steady breathing. She stood hunched in the centre of the room, poised like some creature about to pounce, searching for some sound or some sight that would lead her to her prey.
Who was it? Who had tried to hex her and freed Atticus from his ropes?
I was scared to move or breathe, for fear of being cursed. Then there was a slight sound upstairs, and Molly moved so fast I could barely see her, creeping up the stairs silently. I strained to hear what was going on, but there was nothing.
And then Atticus appeared from out of the kitchen, and grabbed his wand from the end table. He flicked it once and the ropes binding me loosened and fell to the floor. He shoved my own wand into my hand. He held out his hand - bloodied and still without fingernails, but the bones had been reformed by someone’s spell - and he guided me to the other side of the living room, towards the hallway, towards the front door. He grabbed the handle, and opened it. The night was just outside, and I was a step away from fresh air, freedom. Without Molly.
I thought I would never leave alive.
We both paused at the door, searching for a sound of Molly. My heart was barely beating, the idea of escaping without harm skipping through my mind. Then a floorboard creaked upstairs, and Atticus pushed me into the wall, shielding me with his body. I could smell blood. I could feel his blood on my skin, just as Lorcan’s blood was on his hands.
“You wanted him dead,” I said quietly. Atticus turned as silence swallowed the hallway again.
“Dom, we can discuss this later,” he said hurriedly, pulling on my arm. I slunk out of his grasp. “We’ve got to leave now.”
“You made her kill him!” I said. “You ruined me! You made do all that! You made me kill people!”
“But you wanted…!”
Atticus forced his hand over my mouth, and attempted to shove me out of the door. The sound of scuffling feet and muffled swear words filled the corridor, but I kept struggling. My eyes were stinging and I felt I was going to cry again. Atticus’ hand was covered in drying blood and I could feel it in my mouth and on my skin.
I bit down, and he yelled out, letting go of me.
“Merlin, Dom…” he said.
There was silence once more, apart from our ragged and heavy breathing. Atticus clutched his hand. And then there was a noise, quiet and rhythmic. Dripping. The steady drip of some liquid… water, maybe, or…
It was coming through a gap in the floorboards above, trickling through the ceiling onto a small puddle on the floor. We both watched it grow and grow in size, and the ferric stench overpowered the corridor. But there was something else, something floral: Molly’s perfume.
Then blinding light as the ceiling crashed down, bringing two bodies with it. Dmitri was sprawled on top of the mess of floorboards and plaster, his limbs at unnatural angles, a shard of mirror sticking out from his chest. More blood. My face showing in the reflective surface: eyes wide, hair matted, red face and sweat and tears.
I felt winded. He had freed Atticus from his ropes. He hadn’t died or been knocked unconscious. He had crept downstairs to help Atticus, to help us, to help me...
And Molly was crouched over him, wiping her hands on his robes. She stared at Atticus, then at me, and smiled.
“You were going to leave?”
We remained motionless as she stood up, still wiping her hands on her trousers. We watched as she inspected them, cleaning her fingernails, even going so far as to lick a little bloodstain off her thumb. She then pulled her wand from her jacket pocket and twirled it expertly between her fingers.
“You were going to leave without saying goodbye?”
Atticus grabbed my wrist and we inched carefully towards the door. Molly raised her wand, and sent a hex that splintered the doorframe. Atticus ducked, and it missed him by inches. He sent a hex flying towards her, and she deflected it.
And suddenly it was full-on duel, sparks shooting in every direction. Shards of plaster and wood were everywhere, getting into my eyes. I tucked myself into a ball on the floor as Molly and Atticus moved outside. The door hung off its hinges and glass splinters were cutting my hands. More blood, more shouting.
I stood gradually, and with great effort. All feeling in my legs and arms had left. Slowly, I crept out after the two duelers, wand held firmly in my grasp. I could avoid them, if I kept to the shadows. Darkness had fallen, the only light emanating from the spells and curses the two sent at each other.
They could kill each other and I wouldn’t care. They both deserved it.
I stuck to the cold walls. I kept trying and trying to disapparate, but the loss of feeling in my limbs and my spinning head made concentrating difficult. I kept watching them, to see if they would see me and direct their spells towards me instead. Their shouted jinxes were filling the air now.
And I watched as their silhouettes moved, Atticus crumpling into a ball and Molly standing over him. She was saying something to him, whispering something in his ear, but I couldn’t hear it: it was probably some mumbled depravity, some heinous comment to either break his spirit and coerce him into fighting again.
“No!” Atticus shouted. It broke the night air. My heart was beating at absurd speeds now, and I leant against the wall for support. “You did not attack my wife!”
I saw Molly stride forward to snatch Atticus’ wand from out of the air, ignoring his cries of despair. I wanted to pay for what he had done, but not this. I couldn’t see this. I couldn’t see him crying in a broken heap on the floor, not without a wand. I wouldn’t be a witness to his murder.
He had lost his wife and daughter, just as I had lost Lorcan.
Molly hadn’t lost anything apart from her sanity.
I tried to move. I tried to help. I tried to scream Molly’s name, to get her to stop.
Molly pointed her wand directly at Atticus. I heard a mumbled spell, and he was propelled into the air, limbs stretched out to his sides. I could see him struggle against the invisible forces that secured him in space, but he couldn’t get free.
I pushed myself off the wall, and stumbled hopelessly towards the two people. The grass was wet underfoot, and my legs were throbbing. More pain, more blood on my hands and face.
“Molly!” I shouted, but it was useless. She wasn’t listening.
Her face was illuminated in the moonlight, a sadistic smile plastered over her lips. She was staring at Atticus with a savagery and an intrigue that terrified me. Every part of my body was tense, but I staggered towards her and pulled at her arms and her clothes.
She pushed me off, and I was sent sprawling into the grass.
The world seemed to slow down. The leaves on the trees seemed to stop rustling, and the wind stopped howling. Quietness fell. The breath became trapped in my throat, and my tears stopped falling.
I watched, in apparent slow motion, as Molly twirled her wand. Atticus started spinning in the air, and she was laughing and howling and smiling. His head was lolling from side to side, and I watched as vomit trickled from between his lips.
Molly then gently moved her wand up to Atticus’ face, and muttered something.
His face froze, his eyes staring and his mouth wide in a scream that petrified me. His head remained facing towards Molly, but his body kept turning, faster and faster. I heard the snapping of bones and the breaking of his spine. His limbs fell to his sides with a sickening crunch as the nerves inside him broke down.
Finally, after what seemed like hours and hours of hideous spinning, and Molly’s demonic laughter, she lifted her spell and he fell to the floor.
I was winded. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t see the dark shadows moving across the field towards us, I couldn’t hear the whispering of their cloaks, nor their whispered commands. Neither could Molly apparently, as she was trying to talk to me. Her face was close to mine, and her mouth was moving and she gesticulating. I couldn’t listen. I couldn’t look at her.
I would remember his face forever, paralysed in the moonlight.
I could see Molly’s wand pressing against my chest, just above my heart, although I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel anything, just a horrible numbness. I wasn’t sure whether I was crying or laughing, whether I was responding to anything. I could see the man standing behind her, and I could see his spell as it struck my cousin between the shoulder blades.
Someone had come to save me. Someone had come to take her away and to take me home, back to Lorcan, back to Rose and Scorpius and my family, back to Shell Cottage with its blue door and all its memories. Teddy and Victoire at Christmas, Louis with his beret, Mama and Papa with smiles and hugs and kisses.
I needed them. I wanted them to be here when I left, so they could talk to me.
They bundled Molly up into their arms, and I wanted them to hold me like that. They spirited her away, but the man remained, standing over me.
“Please,” I whispered.
And darkness fell, and the world seemed to spin.
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUN... So, what did ya think? Still have any lingering doubts? Molly's pretty much a psycho, ain't she? Anyway, this is the penultimate chapter - only one more to go.