A/N: Whew! I am back and ready to rumble, yall. How was everyone's Christmas? I just got back from a fun weekend away and now am facing lots of responsibilities that I have been neglecting for a while. Man, did you guys see Les Mis? I loved it so much. I want to watch that movie a thousand more times <3 Anyways, you stunningly beautiful people: Enjoy. And pray for me because I think I am going to run now...BLURGH new years resolutions am i right?
OH. About this chapter. It's short and I love it and the biggest chapter is NEXT CHAPTER AND AHHH I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU GUYS, AND I LOVE YOU ALL, AND I LOVE FEEDBACK SO LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD (!!!!) WHOOSH
Voldemort was angry.
Scarlett hadn't been paying too much attention to what he was doing; she had been waiting, patiently, for the answer to that question that had caused her to be used as a subject for possession in the first place. Where was the choker?, she'd been wondering, and didn't dare to extend her observation past knowing the solution. Paying too much attention took too much energy and she was not going to test how much energy she had. It all had to be conserved.
She hadn't been paying attention as he had run to Rowena's tree, as technicolor as ever. She hadn't been paying attention as he'd asked Rowena the location of her hidden choker. Paying attention to those things hadn't mattered; they'd all been expected.
But once he had spoken Starlleyl, he got a response that was not what he expected. And Scarlett couldn't help but pay attention despite the possibility she was losing energy.
In the flashes of visions that came, Scarlett discerned Rowena and Tenereus nearby the tree. "I don't understand," Tenereus had said. "So once they are here, once I am able to get access to it...you don't want me to move it? He could grab it at any time, Rowena—"
"Trust me," Rowena said, sounding somber as her hands lingered over a leaf of the colored tree. While most of the tree's leaves were a dark blue, the one Rowena fixated on was a bright red and seemed uncommonly jewel-like. "I promise that it will all make sense in time. But it is integral that a descendent of Orion come here and stay here, even though the choker will be untouched."
"Why?" stressed Tenereus. "You only risk danger."
Rowena shook her head. "I don't think so," she said. "If all works as I hope it will...this darkness that will come...can be destroyed sooner. I feel it."
"But he will try to get it, Rowena," Tenereus said. "He will bring a descendent of Orion back to the tree once he figures it out. And then he will get your choker."
"I know," Rowena said calmly.
"I thought the point was to hide the artifact."
"It is my hope that my choker lasts. But the point, I believe, is not to preserve the object. It is to preserve goodness." She looked up at Tenereus. "We have a better chance to do that if the choker remains, right here, only able to be accessed when a descendent of Orion is nearby."
This made Voldemort angry, and although she was trying to remain emotionless it was impossible for Scarlett to not feel afraid.
"So it is right here," Voldemort thought aloud. He approached the tree, right to where he saw the ruby leaf, as lustrous as it had been during Rowena Ravenclaw's time. "The leaf was never a clue at all to the choker's location. It was the choker. It is here, but I am not allowed to get it unless a descendent of Orion is nearby. It is in my hands, but it is not my possession." He looked up at the sky. "We are running out of time."
Scarlett felt the surge of rage that overcame Voldemort. "We must go back, Scarlett," he said, venomously. "I suppose I will not be able to spare your blood traitor boyfriend his life after all. Maybe he will die with the notion that it was you responsible for this mess in the first place." He paused. "Do you not object, Scarlett? Are you still determined to fight me when I try for my choker? Fight me when I have overtaken your body and withered your soul?"
She didn't respond. "Very well, then," he said. "Maybe this will not be so bad after all. Maybe it will be fun."
Regulus was running towards the forest when he heard it.
It was late at night, so the castle was hushed. The wind outside was blowing aggressively, yes, and there was some buzz from wildlife, but otherwise Hogwarts was asleep. He saw nobody while he was running; there were no snippets of conversation to eavesdrop on, no ringing laughs that travelled through hallways. There was only silence.
At least, until he heard it.
Even if it had been in the middle of the day, Regulus would have discerned the noise. It was loud and shrill and terrified him. It was desperate and raw and provoked him to run faster.
The scream pierced the silence, and Regulus's heart sank when he realized that the scream sounded a lot like Scarlett's.
"Scarlett, I'm coming!" he yelled out, even though the plea was not for him. "Scarlett, I know where it is—don't hurt her, don't hurt her—!"
He turned a corner and he saw the exit that led to the forest. Outside it was beginning to storm; he heard the grumble of thunder as rain began to fall. It interrupted the silence as much as Scarlett's scream had, but the thunder only hinted at being ominous while Scarlett's scream undoubtedly was. "Scarlett, I'm almost there!" he yelled again, but she hadn't responded to his calls at all. "Be strong, Scarlett, I know where it is and I can help you—"
Regulus kept running towards the exit, running with everything he had, because Merlin, he had to save her—
However, as soon as he crossed the exit—the precise second that he first felt the raindrops hit his hair, shimmy down the back of his neck—he stopped running.
He stopped running because he saw her. She was standing a few feet away from the exit and had seemed to appear from thin air. Her hair blew wildly around her face, the wind whistling, but it was her. It was her and she was nearby and he could bring her back to the castle, he could save her—
But her eyes were still bright red and before Regulus had understood this, before Regulus had recognized that the battle had only begun, that person in front of him who looked like Scarlett but so clearly was not raised her wand at him and said an incantation that made him unable to move anything but his eyes.
"Not the boyfriend," she said under her breath. "Not the blood traitor. But a Black nonetheless."
She walked closer to him, her steps deliberate and inquisitive, until they were only inches apart. If Regulus would have been able to move he would have; the eyes sent a trill of fear down his spine. They were cruel eyes, eyes that had looked as if she had killed before. Eyes that seemed to indicate that she had no reservations about killing again.
The possessed Scarlett took the wand out of Regulus's hand. "Thank you," she said, her voice disdainful. "I have been working with this damaged wand for months. She broke it. She thought she could stop me. But she couldn't stop me, nobody can stop me. Do you understand?"
Regulus had never been more afraid in his life.
The possessed Scarlett stepped away from him, dropping the damaged wand and twirling the new wand in her hands. After a few seconds, she used the new wand to break the spell, but even still Regulus was unmoving. Defenseless, and afraid of what Voldemort would do, he didn't move, instead staring at the alien in front of him with horrified fascination.
"Imperio," she whispered, waving the wand in Regulus's direction, and Regulus felt dizzy and calm, disturbingly calm, frighteningly calm."So docile," she admired. "Such a good Death Eater, Regulus. But are you really? Do you feel you've been... questioning... being a Death Eater?
"She felt the same way, Regulus. She tried to get away. She thought that there was a chance for her to escape. But what both have you have overestimated is your freedom to make the decisions you please. Neither of you truly understood the power of the Dark Mark that is on your wrists.
"Do you see what happened to her, Regulus? She fought. But she didn't understand, you see. You belong to me. Say that to me, Regulus. Tell me that you belong to me."
"I belong to you," Regulus said, unable to fight the Imperius curse.
"Very good. She belongs to me as well. From the moment you get the Dark Mark, you belong to me. Do you understand?" The possessed Scarlett narrowed her eyes. "Answer me. Do you understand?"
She relaxed. "Very good, once again. You should never think differently." The possessed Scarlett began to pace. "So, Regulus. You thought that you could trick me, tell me that you knew where the object of my desires was. Were you ever able to figure out what the object was? Did you ever solve that mystery? Answer me."
"No," Regulus responded, his voice a monotone.
"The boy who solves mysteries," she ridiculed. "Couldn't solve this one, is that right? Answer me."
"I couldn't solve it."
"What were you able to solve, then? Answer me."
"I know that it is you. The Dark Lord. You're possessing her. I know that you are trying to make a Horcrux using her soul. I know that you are looking for an object. I know that you want to kill her. I think that you want to kill her tonight."
"How were you able to find this out? Answer me."
"The book in the library that you had ripped the pages out of. Darkest Magicks. I saw her reading it before. I went to investigate. The pages were gone. They just replaced the book in the library. I read it tonight."
"Well, that is just brilliant," the possessed Scarlett mocked. "So you solved a mystery, after all. Just like you always wanted."
Regulus didn't say anything.
"Does anybody else suspect...? Did you tell the blood traitor and the Mudblood? Answer me."
For a second, Regulus felt the impulse of the curse to obey. He knew that the curse was too strong, Voldemort's technique too mastered, for Regulus to resist. He knew that he couldn't resist.
But in that second before he responded to Voldemort's inquiry he realized something. Underneath the calmness that he couldn't help but feel, there was panic and fear and, most of all, guilt that he had been bewitched by Voldemort so easily. Regulus felt horrible for being unable to do more for Scarlett, but he recognized that, although it was impossible to resist the Imperius Curse, it was not impossible yet to trick Lord Voldemort.
Voldemort had asked him to answer the question, but he had never requested that he answer it truthfully.
"No," Regulus said, keeping his voice monotone. "Nobody knows. I was going to get them before I heard the scream."
Regulus looked at her then, the girl with the red eyes, and felt his stomach clench in spite of his calmness. A beat passed where he feared that he would be discovered.
After a second, though, Scarlett smiled at him coldly. "Then I think it is time to go, Regulus. Let us go together into the forest. I will teach you and Scarlett what the punishment is for stepping out of line. And then we will get the choker I have desired...and you both will die...but it will be me who lives on...
"Lord Voldemort will live forever..."
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