The fireplace was dusty but completely free of ash. He stepped out and walked into a darkened living room - the heavy drapes covering the windows were drawn blocking the early morning rays of sunlight that were trying to stream in. The clear sheets of plastic that were draped protectively over all the furniture, were themselves covered in a thick layer of dust.
It took Dennis a few moments to realize where he was and even then he couldn’t fully comprehend why he was back in his family home.
In his fury when he stepped into the fireplace in the Ministry and said home, he had meant his flat. But clearly some part of his subconscious had yearned for this place or why else would he be here.
He walked over to the windows and began opening the drapes, allowing the sunlight to come streaming in, dispelling the shadows and the false night. Suddenly Dennis began shaking his right arm; a large, black spider that had been nesting in the drapes had been disturbed from its slumbers. It attempted to scuttle up the sleeve of Dennis’s robe as it sought a new hiding place far from the light.
“Arania Exumai!” Dennis said as he shook the spider free. The spell hit the spider in mid air, all its flailing limbs went suddenly rigid. It fell to the floor with a dull thud. Dennis prodded it with his foot - It was still. He took it up by its back legs and went over to the fireplace to throw it in. He felt a quiver from the dead spider, he looked down and saw that the arachnid’s abdomen had begun to slowly pulsate. Throwing it quickly onto the fireplace he shouted “Incendio” as the first of the spider's young began to burst forth from her abdomen. There was a low mewling sound and then several pops as the spiders began exploding in the flames.
Dennis felt a wave of revulsion. He hated spiders and felt it was one of the only things he and Ron Weasely could agree on. Still he waited until he was sure the flames had consumed them all.
After that he was more cautious as he opened the rest of the drapes, but there were no more spiders that he could see.
He walked over to the bureau - framed photos of his family lay obscured by the sheets of plastic and layers of dust that had built up on them. He threw the plastic back, sending thousands of dust motes flying in the sunlight.
One of the photos showed a smiling Colin in his first year wizarding robes with their mother looking like she had won the lottery. Next to it was a picture that Colin himself had taken; it showed Dennis with his acceptance letter and their parents looking like people who’ve just won the jackpot again. “But there was a lottery curse wasn’t there.” Dennis thought. "Everything has a price."
He made his way through the house, his fingers occasionally trailing through the dust as he reached out to touch some part of his childhood. Memories of his past went flashing through his mind. So it was no small surprise when he came out of his reverie and found himself outside of his brother’s room. For several minutes he just stood there, unwilling to go in. Finally he took a deep breath, steeled himself and turned the knob.
There was very little dust in the room, Dennis had seen to that when he had magically sealed the room several years before. Everything was as Colin had left it. In fact the entire house was almost exactly as his family had left it when they were forced to flee during the second Wizarding War.
It hadn’t done them any good; First his parents had been murdered by the Death eater - Antonin Dolohov. Then Colin had died, killed during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Dennis opened the closet and found himself with a lump in his throat; Colin’s broom, his books, his camera all sat there neatly packed away. Dennis reached out and touched everything carefully as though fearing they might break if he pressed too hard. He reached out and touched Colin’s robe. In the end that was what shattered his control. Colin’s clothes looked so small, like they were the clothes of a child. But that was what Colin was when he died wasn’t it? A Child.
The pain and anguish that rose up in him was indescribable. All the years he had spent missing his brother came flooding through him now, like a storm making landfall. He sat down on the floor powerless now to stop the tears that began to course down his face. “I should have been there with you to help you fight. But I was too weak, I was too scared to follow you, to help you when you need me most.”
“I’m so sorry Colin.” He said sobbing. “I’m so sorry.” He buried his face in his brother’s robe and prayed as he did almost everyday of his life that he could go back and change the way things were. “I should have been there with you.” His body shook with his sobs, his mind with the guilt that while his brother had died he had lived. “It should have been me.” He said as he curled himself into a ball clutching his brother’s robe. “It should have been me.”
When he awoke the sun was streaming in from the window on the other side of the room. It was now late afternoon, the toll of the last 24 hours and the pain from being at his old home had been too much for him, he had slept away the morning.
He got up slowly, his body screaming protests as his knees and back popped from the uncomfortable position they had been forced to endure for the last few hours.
He took one final look around Colin’s room. Kissing two of his fingers he pressed them against the door of his brother’s room. “I love you Colin.” he said. He walked out into the hallway and went down to his parents room. He didn’t want to but he was powerless to stop the tears that began again as he opened the door to their room.
He went in and for a moment he was almost six years old again. Through tear filled eyes he saw his mother as clear as day – she was sitting by her dresser, near the window, combing her long blond hair. He used to love watching her do that when he was little, the way the light played with each strand as it fell from her brush. It was as though his mother had been brushing threads of fine gold and as they fell the sun would set each strand ablaze with fire. “Mama are you a witch?” He would ask her and she would smile her perfect smile and say “Maybe.” And sometimes if his father happened to be nearby he would ruffle Dennis’s hair and say “Well your mother certainly bewitched me.”
When eventually he and Colin had both received their letters from Hogwarts, his mother would joke and say I guess “I must have had some witches blood after all, to be able to have two little wizards.” But in the end whatever magic she may have had hadn’t been enough, Antonin Dolohov had seen to that. Both she and her husband had paid for their lack of magical abilities with their lives.
Dennis’s anger was back now and he dashed a hand across his face, fiercely wiping away the tears. He was filled with a purpose now of what he had to do. “But how?” He asked himself. After all he was no longer an Auror and he had no doubt Shacklebolt would try to have him arrested if he continued to investigate the Dark Lord’s reappearance.
“Screw him.” Dennis thought. This was more than just about Voldemort being back; he knew that now. Some part of his brain was telling him that if he ever wanted to be ok again he would have to have some kind of closure. If Voldemort was back then Dennis wasn’t going to stand by while other families were ripped apart like his was. No there was going to have to be a reckoning. If the Dark Lord thought that that he could get away with murdering innocents once again then he was about to learn he was going to have hell to pay instead.
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