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Chapter 1 : PART ONE
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A/N: Hi! I guess this is a Next-Next Gen fic. It’s PRETTY different, so I’d love love love to hear what you think! Please leave a review for me, I really need feedback on this! Any and all comments welcomed! xo
‘Ooh, Taddie!’ Tristessa’s grotesquely delighted voice wafts down the corridor, haunting little Taddeus like a vengeful ghost as he flees in leporine terror.
His heart punches at his ears, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, a kettledrummer in his chest, surging icy blood through his veins. He skids on the Persian rug at the foot of the staircase and scrabbles desperately up the steps on all-fours like a monkey, barely able to feel his hands and feet.
‘Taddie! Taaadiiiie …’ his elder sister’s voice comes up faintly after him – but faintly; a small spall of hope breaks off from the rock of fear in his stomach.
‘Taddeus …’ Tristessa’s soughing is barely discernible now, as little Taddeus reaches the head of the stairs and sprints down a faded hallway lined with portraits of stern, white-blond ancestors.
Uncle Scorpius, he thinks desperately. I have to get to Uncle Scorpius!
And there it is at the end of the hallway: his uncle’s study door. His legs burn and his throat stings as he pants, spurning faster, his timpani heart all he can hear, all that exists, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum.
Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum.
The door, just get to the door …
Almost there! Five doors to go, four doors to go, three doors―
Taddeus gasps with rasping horror and skids to a halt so abruptly that his feet tangle up and he trips face-first onto the faded green carpet, burning his elbows and knees. Petrified, he stays face-down, too scared to move – like a possum playing dead.
Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum.
There is a quiet chuckle above him, followed by soft, deliberate footsteps.
He should have known. He should have known!
His elder brother Tarquin’s feet stop an inch from Taddeus’s face on the floor. Hurrying footsteps sound down the hallway, coming from the stairs. Fear clenches tighter in his stomach.
‘You get him?’ Tristessa calls.
‘Got him!’ Tarquin calls back.
Oh no – if they’re able to shout to one another, it means that there are no adults around to hear, that Uncle Scorpius isn’t in his study. Taddeus squeezes his eyes shut tight. Tarquin gives him a kick in the stomach, knocking a huff of air from his lungs.
‘Little ferret thought he’d go to the grown-ups.’ Not even looking at her face, Taddeus can tell that Tristessa is sneering.
‘Little snitch,’ Tarquin says in a repulsed voice. ‘Get up!’ he snaps at Taddeus, who, though stiff and gorgonised with terror, forces his limbs to obey, knowing it would be much worse for him if he didn’t.
Tristessa joins Tarquin as their youngest brother gets shakily to his feet. Taddeus stares at the faded carpet, clutching his stomach, dreading the worst and feeling faint.
‘Right,’ Tristessa says in a delicately gleeful voice, ‘now that we have you, I’d like you to apologise.’
Apologise? What for? What's he done now? Taddeus wonders wildly. He can’t think of anything since last Tuesday, when he was threatened into apologising for accidentally spilling pumpkin juice over Tarquin at breakfast. He’s been so careful since then!
Tristessa and Tarquin enjoy their little brother’s silent terror.
‘I’m waiting,’ Tristessa says in a sing-song voice, and begins fiddling with the pink ribbon in her hair; she got it for her thirteenth birthday last week and hasn’t stopped wearing it, not even to bed.
Taddeus raises his eyes from the floor, knowing that they like eye contact when he's forced to apologise, and says in a quavery voice, ‘I’m sorry, Tristessa.’
She gives a mocking smile. ‘Apology accepted. Will you ever do it again?’
Pause. Taddeus looks to the floor and then up again. Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum.
‘No,’ he says quietly, ‘I promise.’
Tristessa’s smile turns unrecognisably angelic.
‘Good,’ she says with benignity, as if she is a saint blessing a devotee. She turns on her heel and proceeds the way she came, towards the staircase.
Tremulous relief trickles through little Taddeus: it’s over, it wasn’t even that bad. But the relief is short-lived.
On his way past to follow Tristessa, Tarquin bashes into Taddeus, hurtling him roughly at the wall. The back of Taddeus’s head clonks against the cold, hard, faded frame of some ancestor.
The silver-haired Malfoy hisses, but Taddeus doesn’t hear, as pain such as he has never experienced slices through his brain like a demolition ball. He sees black and flops in an unconscious heap to the floor.
He’s dreaming – he has to be dreaming. This can’t be real because Timeus hasn’t had a smile on his face for a long time – ever since Tristessa and Tarquin got back from Hogwarts for the summer holidays, and Taddeus knows why: he is going next.
Poor Timeus, who hates and despises their eldest siblings with a passion stronger than Taddeus even, is going to Hogwarts this year. He’s been frowning for weeks.
Here, though, he is smiling, smiling jubilantly at the kitchen bench as he scoops a pile of Chocolate Frogs towards himself.
‘You’ll have to do better than that, guys,’ he says gloatingly, opening a packet and taking a relishing bite of Chocolate Frog. ‘Mmm,’ he says, closing his eyes and licking his lips.
‘Another round!’ their cousin Genie demands, her grey Malfoy eyes blazing.
Timeus shakes his head, sighs and says, ‘If you must …’ generously putting the pile of Frogs back into the centre.
Genie hands the Every Flavour Bean box around and each of them take a Bean. The next game of Who’s the Liar begins. How the game is played is this:
Firstly, everyone takes a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean and holds it up so that the others can see the colour. Then each person puts the Bean into their mouth and takes turns telling the others which flavour they have, without swallowing it. The aim of the game is to make the others believe that you have a nice flavour.
So, say you get a chilli-flavoured Bean. You’d have to tell everyone that your flavour is nice, like raspberry or tomato soup, instead of screaming your head off, spitting the Bean to the ground and sculling some cold pumpkin juice. If you do scream your head off and spit the Bean to the ground or are found lying about your flavour in any other way, you lose and have to put a Chocolate Frog in the centre. If no one shows any sign of lying, the players concur to swallow their Beans, then the next round commences. Once you run out of Chocolate Frogs to put in centre, you're out of the game. The last person standing (or chewing) wins all Frogs in the middle. Taddeus and Timeus Lestrange made this game up with their cousin Genie Malfoy, and they play it whatever chance they get.
This round, Taddeus is lucky and gets a Ginger Newt-flavoured Bean, so he simply tells the others his nice flavour without having to lie. Timeus gets the once-in-a-blue-moon chilli-flavoured Bean and spits it to the floor the second after he puts it in his mouth. Genie, unfortunately, simply can't pretend that her lemon Bean isn't sour. Her eyes water and her face flushes as she says in a choking voice, ‘Pineapple – it’s pineapple, I swear!’ Needless to say, no one believes her.
Timeus and Genie put a Frog each on the bench, then they all take a Bean for the next round.
All of a sudden, there is a great thundering crash! like a demolition ball bashing into a brick wall. Taddeus looks to his elder brother, but Timeus is no longer here, neither is Genie.
Suddenly, he's alone at the dinner table in the magnificent salon of Malfoy Manor. His insides turn cold; Tristessa and Tarquin, wearing emerald coronets, are gliding towards him with bright red eyes, pulling out their wands―
‘He’s waking up!’ a familiar voice shouts, sending warm waves of comfort throughout his body; as long as that voice is near him, he'll be alright. ‘Uncle Scorpius! Uncle Scorpius! He’s waking up!’ Timeus shouts again.
Taddeus forces his eyes open. An almighty throb pulses through his brain, making him gasp and reach for the back of his head, where a prominent egg has risen.
Through watering eyes, he realises that he’s in Uncle Scorpius’s study, lying on the studded leather sofa. He recognises the handsome mahogany walls and the desk with the chipped, gilded lamp; he recognises the faded portraits of Great-Uncle Draco and the Malfoy cousins, little Genie standing on tip-toes to be seen. He turns his head and the demolition ball swings at him again.
‘Ah!’ he gasps, closing his eyes at the pain.
‘Tad!’ Timeus shouts.
Taddeus opens his eyes and painfully looks to his left. Timeus sits by the leather sofa, his expression more louring than is usual of late.
‘What happened?’ he hisses in a dangerous voice.
‘N-nothing,’ Taddeus stutters.
The last thing he needs is another stupid revengeful gesture from Timeus; Tristessa and Tarquin never let him hear the end of his favourite brother’s heroisms. Not long after their parents had first deposited the four Lestrange siblings at Malfoy Manor for the summer holidays, Tristessa had pushed Taddeus into the koi pond in the gardens. Timeus happened to see this, and after helping a drenched and pond-smelling Taddeus out, he went fishing in said pond, caught several koi, and hid them all in Tristessa’s bed that night.
Taddeus had begged Timeus not to, and with good reason, for although Timeus had admitted proudly to the crime after Tristessa’s screams trembled the foundations of the Manor, demanding to know the culprit, she had taken most of her anger out on Taddeus – with the aid of Tarquin’s muscle, of course.
Taddeus hadn’t told anyone, hadn’t shown Timeus the bruises, but diligently hid the beating, afraid of another “for weaselling”.
Timeus isn’t one to give up easily, however, and he's surprisingly perceptive for so brash and stubborn a child. It’s obvious that Taddeus had had no accident this time, that the egg on his head is the result of something more sinister.
‘Tell me, Tad,’ Timeus presses, as the brothers hear muffled footsteps outside the study door.
Taddeus is spared answering as the door opens and Uncle Scorpius comes inside, his argent presence occluding the interrogation. Timeus falls silent, expression brooding.
Uncle Scorpius kneels by his nephew on the sofa and presses a damp cloth to the back of his head. Immediately, relief spirals inside Taddeus’s brain and he closes his eyes in ecstasy. The pain recedes to nothing. After a moment, Taddeus’s head is clear, the lump gone, and it’s as if Tarquin had never pushed him over.
He sits up and swings his legs off the sofa, the leather squawking underneath him. His head spins like a merry-go-round, blurring the office into a rush of colours.
‘Whoa, take it easy,’ says Timeus, still with the louring expression on his face. Taddeus squints his eyes, determined to focus.
‘He’ll be fine,’ smiles Uncle Scorpius.
‘Thankee, Huncle Scorp,’ Taddeus says, his words slurred together. Then he turns to Timeus. ‘You owe me Chockee Fwog.’
Timeus makes a wry face and glances at Uncle Scorpius before replying. ‘Uh – why?’
‘Coz you got d’sshilli Bean,’ Taddeus says in his slurred voice. He frowns and clears his throat, determined to get his words clear. ‘Genie got pineapple – I mean, lemon – she said it was pineapple, but she looked like she was eat’n pine cones so we didn’t believe her. I wonder what pine cones’ll tasty like, probably painfuller than sshilli, even. Anyway, I won, but then the thunder came and you two disappeared and then – then – then …’
Suddenly he remembers two pairs of advancing red eyes, two emerald crowns gleaming dangerously.
‘Tad?’ Timeus says in a wary voice, his face worried.
‘Alright there, mate,’ says Uncle Scorpius gently, and hefts Taddeus from the sofa with a groan of leather, who promptly passes out in his uncle’s arms.
The last thing he remembers is the ache of fear in his belly, poisonous tendrils slithering throughout his body. The fear of the that slicing demolition ball crashing into his head. The fear of Tristessa and Tarquin Lestrange. The fear of those red eyes …
Taddeus, Timeus, and Genie have time to play one last game of Who’s the Liar before Mr and Mrs Lestrange arrive to collect their four children home again. Taddeus is very glum, because this is the final bit of the holidays and he’ll be alone without Timeus for the first time in his life very soon. Timeus is even more surly than usual, because he doesn’t want to go home to get ready for his first year of Hogwarts ...
Diagon Alley is awful, thinks a sullen Taddeus as he follows his parents and older siblings along the cobbled streets, his first time in the magical alley.
They’re here to buy Timeus his new school things. Every purchase sends a spiral of anxiety down Taddeus’s spine, the fact of Timeus going to boarding school and leaving him becoming more and more tangible with every new textbook, every new potion ingredient, like a bubble of nothingness getting bigger and bigger, threatening to swallow him whole.
Many people stare as the Lestranges pass, and though the others seem used to it, enduring the hostile looks with supremely oblivious expressions, Taddeus finds it unnerving and frightening. He walks closer to Timeus than he normally would.
Lestrange isn't a popular name. Two generations after the War and still the stigma of evil clings to Lestrange like a nimbus of bad odour. Taddeus remembers the first time his parents sat he and Timeus down and explained the War with the Dark Lord. It was explained that people will treat them differently because members of their family, including their grandfather Rabastan Lestrange, had done things so horrific that their parents refused to disclose any details. Rabastan didn't marry, they told the boys, but he was with a woman during the brief spells he had escaped Azkaban. Their grandmother is dead now, but Dad told the brothers that she was a tough woman, stubborn, and refused to believe that Rabastan was as wicked as the wizarding world believes him to be. In any case, she bore two sons and a daughter to Rabastan, obstinately giving them the name Lestrange as proof of her conviction. Her children never had the chance to meet their father, who died in The Battle of Hogwarts.
Tristessa and Tarquin don't talk about their social status within Hogwarts, but the oldest Lestrange cousins seem perfectly cool and at ease whenever the topic comes up. Taddeus and Timeus are nervous to say the least about the whole affair.
August thirty-first, Timeus sneaks into Taddeus’s bedroom after bedtime and they play a quiet game of Who’s the Liar on the floor in the dark.
‘Beurgghh!’ Taddeus exclaims as quietly as he can, so as not to wake anyone and alert their parents – but it’s rather difficult after thirty heated seconds of keeping a cat food-flavoured Bean in his mouth.
Needless to say, Timeus concludes that Taddeus hadn't told the truth about his flavour.
‘I thought you liked strawberry ice-cream,’ he says drily as Taddeus spits the glob of puce into the bin next to them.
‘Cat food … that was disgusting,’ Taddeus says faintly, wiping his tongue on his sleeve.
‘Still, you held on a while,’ Timeus whispers, laughing, then swallows his own Bean. ‘I almost feel bad about winning the Frog after that mammoth effort …’ But he grins with devilment as he watches Taddeus slap a Chocolate Frog packet onto the carpet between them. ‘So, what happened when you hit your head at Uncle’s?’ Timeus abruptly shoots. He’s been firing this question at Taddeus every spare chance possible, but his little brother is keeping his lips tightly sealed. Taddeus still has no idea why Tristessa made him apologise that day, why the incident had even happened. He doesn't like to think on it.
‘I’ve told you a million times,’ he replies, his eyes on the box of Every Flavour Beans as Timeus pulls out two more for the next round, ‘I tripped and bumped my head on Abraxus.’
Timeus hands Taddeus a bright orange Bean, hopefully the same flavour as its colour – Taddeus doesn’t think he can handle another gross one; the cat food is still reminiscing on his taste buds.
‘You know you don’t have to cover up to me, right?’ Timeus says.
‘I know,’ Taddeus says simply. He puts his Bean onto his tongue. Oh God, it’s disgusting – curry-flavour. Taddeus hates curry. ‘Tangelo,’ he says confidently.
Timeus delicately puts his purple Bean onto his tongue. His eye twitches. Then his other eye twitches. His nostrils flare. ‘Grape,’ he says in a neutral voice.
Taddeus waits and waits and waits, the curry simmering disgustingly on his tongue. The brothers analyse each other. A minute passes, two minutes of tensile silence, two and a half minutes … Just when Taddeus is about to cave―
‘Bleargharhar,’ Timeus coughs, spitting out the glob of dark purple. He slaps a Frog into the middle, shuddering.
Taddeus spits his orange glob into the bin. ‘What was it?’ he asks, trying not to retch.
‘Prune,’ Timeus shudders again.
‘Mine was curry,’ Taddeus grimaces. Timeus raises his eyebrows, impressed; it’s common knowledge that his little brother has a passionate hate for Indian food. ‘Are you scared about tomorrow?’ Taddeus suddenly asks in a careful voice. Timeus stills. ‘It’ll be OK, won’t it?’ he continues in a small voice.
Timeus shrugs, peering at his brother’s eyes through the gloom. ‘Only if I stay away from Tris and Tarry,’ he says darkly.
‘But,’ Taddeus starts tentatively, ‘Mum and Dad always say that sticking together―’
Timeus scoffs humourlessly. ‘You really think sticking with Tris and Tarry is a good thing? Those two give you more bruises than a Beater!’
Taddeus shuffles uncomfortably, the memory of the awful red eyes ever-ambient in a nimbus of dread constantly clinging to his brain. He hears the demolition ball swinging ominously on its tether. He tries to push it all away for the moment. ‘But still―’
‘Still what?’ Timeus snaps. ‘Can’t you see that those two aren’t king and queen of the universe? They’re pathetic, beating up on you all the time – and you letting them! It’s disgusting, Tad!’ Suddenly Timeus is on his feet, talking as loud as possible without waking anyone, rampaging in a furious whisper. ‘I’m sick of everyone thinking I’m evil just by looking at my last name! But you know what? I deserve it! Not because of Rabastan or Bellatrix or Rodolphus, but because of Tris and Tarry! They’re acting just like – like –’ But it seems Timeus hasn’t got it in him to liken his brother and sister to Death Eaters. He growls. ‘And we’re related to them. I’ll never be like them,’ he says with disgust.
‘But they’re not as bad as our grandfather,’ Taddeus says softly.
‘They’re going the same way,’ Timeus replies grimly. There’s silence for a while, then – ‘I hate this family,’ he says in a voice dripping with shame. ‘If I get into Slytherin tomorrow, I’m leaving Hogwarts.’
Taddeus looks at his brother in fear. Their parents and all their aunts and uncles always tell them ‘Never be ashamed of who you are. We have a horrible darkness in our heritage, but it’s in the past. It’s up to us to redeem ourselves and make a better future.’ He’s never considered getting into any other house but Slytherin. All the family is in the serpent’s house, almost in ironic defiance against the hateful stigma with which they are branded.
With a heavy heart, Taddeus bids his brother and closest friend goodbye next morning at Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Somewhere in his heart he feels that this is the change of a lifetime. Nothing will ever be the same after this. As the last of the steam dissipates into nothingness, the sound of the Hogwarts Express chugging fainter and fainter, Taddeus turns with his parents back to the iron archway and steps into the Muggle world, feeling more alone than he's ever felt before.
Two years ago there had been three of them left, Taddeus thinks as he follows his parents to the abandoned alleyway where they’ll Apparate back home. Two years ago it was Tristessa leaving three of them behind. Then last year Tarquin went with her, leaving just Timeus and Taddeus alone for the best year he’s ever had. Just the two of them, with no terrorising king and queen. But now Timeus is gone too, leaving Taddeus alone. All alone. And somewhere inside, he can just feel it, Timeus is going to be alone this year as well.
His intuitions prove correct.
As Mum serves up slices of roast beef at dinner, Dad is opening a letter that has just arrived. No doubt it's Tristessa’s traditional first letter from school, informing of which cousin got into which house. Up until tonight, it's always been Slytherin, Slytherin, Slytherin. Last year their cousins Adrian and Yvonne had got into Slytherin with Tarquin. The year before, Tristessa had got into Slytherin with some girl King, whose parents are friends of the family.
Tonight, Dad announces to this year’s remaining two at the dinner table, that―
‘Ppfffsshhhht!’ he spits out his mouthful of wine.
‘Horatius!’ Mum exclaims with shock, mopping red droplets from her face with a napkin.
Taddeus uses the tablecloth to wipe wine from his arms. His heart pelts faster.
What is it? What is it? What is it?
If I get into Slytherin, I’m leaving Hogwarts …
‘Timeus,’ Dad says in a voice of pure astonishment, ‘he’s in Gryffindor.’
The red eyes haunt Taddeus all through that night.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading Part One!!! Please take the time to leave a review for me, even if it's only a short one :) I’d love to know your take on this Next-Next Gen setting!! I know it’s practically a new HPFF genre, and that’s why I’d love to hear from you!! Thanks again :D
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