Chapter 4 : A little Bit of Trust
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Granger was calmer; her wand was raised, but to defend herself and not threaten another, meaning her hand was steady even if her grip looked tight. She moved a little closer to Harry, whispered something Theo couldn't hear from his place in the forest; Harry either didn't know or didn't care because he shook his head, surprise and suspicion still the two emotions clashing as he tried to decide which one to reveal.
When the silence became awkward, because watching their reactions had caused Theo to forget to answer the question, Hermione cleared her throat.
"Harry, this is -"
"I know who he is, Hermione," Harry interrupted with a snap. His tone surprised them all, and Theo guessed that the other two were also surprised that Harry knew who he was; they'd never spoken, Granger only knew him from their one moment in the library and Weasley still had no clue. Then Harry narrowed his eyes. "I think."
"You think?" Theo asked, finally choosing to speak up and show his confusion as well as his curiosity.
"We went to school together for six years, for you to think that I'm ignorant enough to not know your name at least is insulting," Harry countered, looking and sounding a little pissed off at an insinuation Theo wouldn't apologize for; he had every right to think that someone who never spoke to him didn't know his name. In fact, Harry didn't know him at all. "How did you get here, Theodore Nott?"
His tone was softer, still hard and the demand was far from subtle but it didn't surprise them as much as when he snapped. Out of the three friends, Harry appeared to be the calmest one - Theo fought to not cross his fingers when he considered the only two options his brain could come up when he had two wands pointed at his head and one dangerously close to a more valued part of his body; either Harry was willing to place a little trust in him for some reason, maybe because the man thought he knew him, or he trusted his own reflexes enough to hurt Theo before anything could happen. He hoped it was the first option and scolded himself for not putting up his shield before revealing himself to them.
"I got through your wards," he said simply, forcing his hands to remain raised when they deemed his answer as not good enough.
Theo breathed in and out through his nose, allowed himself to think; he needed to tell them the truth, it was the only way he knew he would get their complete trust, but he had never told anyone about his abilities, not even Blaise and Astoria, in fear of someone else getting the information out of them. When Harry raised his wand a little higher again, Theo's hand shook, signaling them to please wait without actually saying the words.
"Er, okay, so I'm considered... special among some... people," he muttered slowly.
"Death Eaters," Harry stated bluntly.
He nodded. "Not just them, there are others. I avoid them all. I'm... I have dreams, sometimes they come true. And they led me here."
"You're a Seer?" Hermione asked, her hand wavering as she frowned. She seemed interested in whatever information he was about to give, had probably read about it in a book and was looking forward to hearing about it from a real source.
"Low level psychic is more accurate," he said with an awkward shrug, then went straight into what he could do, like he was reading out of a book. This was what he was comfortable with, this is what he and Hermione Granger had in common. This was the easy part. "Seer is continually used as a collective term, but it is actually what you call the most powerful psychics, ones who can See visions as easy as breathing. They are right at the top. Trelawney is in the middle, getting the occasional big vision that you don't even remember having, and then I am right at the bottom, I just dream. I mean, we all have the same ability in the general sense, our powers can grow - if I practiced, I could be considered a Seer one day - but not everyone does. I'm trying, but only to figure out what's going on with this war."
"So, you could help us?" Ron asked. He dropped his wand slightly, the expression on his face changing from one of suspicion to one of hope - finally something good, something useful, was happening, he was obviously thinking.
"In theory," Theo admitted, biting his lip before continuing; he still wasn't sure if they would be willing to let him stay and help after this. "If I keep practicing, I could have visions while awake; it's not easy to do when you're on the run. And I can tell you about any dreams I have. But I don't always get a dream and I'm still learning; my very first real vision was yesterday, it brought me here and it hurt like hell. But I can help with other things, too; I'm very good with wards."
They didn't laugh at his little joke, but he didn't expect them to, so it didn't bother him.
"How do we know you're not lying?" Harry demanded to know just as Hermione asked how he got through the wards. They were silent for a moment, sharing a look, before eventually deciding that Harry's was the more important question; he was already in their camp, it would be more dangerous if they didn't know how he could be trusted than if they didn't know how he got in. "How do we know you're not going to turn on us and send word back to them as soon as you have the answers you want?"
His answer was too slow; Theo felt confident enough to lower his hands but not enough to go any faster than he was. They still might hex him. Once they were by his side, he rolled up the sleeve of his left arm to let them see the seemingly unmarked skin - he felt guilty about the glamor charm that surrounded it, but since it wasn't a Dark Mark he was hiding, he didn't want to remove it and just hoped Hermione couldn't sense it.
"I left my home, I left the only people I consider family, I left everything behind to get away from him and his Death Eaters," Theo told them, trying to keep his voice steady as he remembered all the reasons why he hated the war. "I have no more money, I'm tired, I'm in desperate need of a shower, and I'm willingly coming here to offer my help. I am willing to fry my own brain if it means helping you win, because I wasn't joking when I said it hurt like hell just to See you standing here. But I'd go through it again if you asked."
It became obvious to all four of them fairly quickly that Theo was only speaking to one person; Harry, who had already been given the role as leader and had accepted it like they had always known he would, whether he was ready for it or not. Harry, who was in control of this situation, whether he wanted to be or not.
"I've been having nightmares about this war for as long as I can remember," Theo whispered, suddenly sounding as tired as he felt. "I want it to stop."
Please don't pity me. No pity, he begged silently when each member of the trio changed expressions again; Hermione and Ron, with similar looks of sadness and pity, just enough to drop the suspicious glances and their wands. It was Harry's he was most intrigued with, and stopped him from breaking their trust before he'd even received it by jinxing his friends - he watched Theo and he understood. They both had nightmares and they both wanted it over.
They just had to trust him.
At least they seem to believe me.
The moment between them passed just as quickly as it had come and Harry looked away, using his wand to gesture to the camp.
"You'd best come in then. We have things we need to talk about."
Theo nodded and grabbed his bag; this was it, this was one of the biggest moments in this meeting. He had been dying to know what they were up to and the significance of the locket. He couldn't help it; after having so many visions of other people's lives, he'd become a little nosy. There was just one more thing he needed to do first, it was too important to wait...
"But first, is there any way for me to take a shower?"
The shower wasn't the best he'd ever seen, though Theo supposed he should be grateful there was one at all; this tent looked like one of the older and cheaper models. He remembered when he was a child, about seven or eight, and Narcissa Malfoy had let him and Draco camp in her garden - they could only do so when they had the best, she wouldn't let her little boy if it wasn't. He remembered the meal that had been prepared for them and the bunk beds, with Draco demanding he sleep on the top, and then the water came in quick bursts down his back, slowly at first then a little faster, and he remembered that in the first tent it had been warm.
Theo didn't like to think about the past, the things he had lost or could have had. Draco Malfoy's near friendship was a mixture of both categories; they could have been friends if the blond idiot had not been so blindly fooled by the Dark Arts. Hard as it was, the memory was old enough to not affect him so much - he'd long ago accepted that Draco Malfoy was an ass - and it was helpful in braving the shower until he felt clean enough to get out.
He stepped out after only five minutes, shivering like mad but grateful he'd only cried out once, in surprise. Theo grabbed his towel, dried himself off and put on the clean clothes he'd taken out of his bag before getting in, feeling a little warmer in his jeans, t-shirt and jumper. He stuffed his dirty clothes back into his bag and pulled out his razor and shaving cream, as well as a little mirror he enlarged to see his whole face. Rubbing his hand along his cheek, Theo sighed; he'd liked the beard in the beginning and it had come in handy when concealing his identity, but it was too bushy now. And he was hiding out in a forest with England's most wanted; he doubted he'd need it anymore because they weren't likely to do what he had been doing, nor did that want to get caught. It could go.
Theo found himself very grateful to Adam for packing the razor and cream for him before he'd left; using a wand would have been useful, but the razor, doing it himself, gave him more control and he liked that. Plus his face felt smoother when he finished.
Nodding to himself, Theo put his things away, told himself to stop stalling now that he was in, and went back to the three waiting for him by the tent's entrance.
We have things to talk about.
They were in their own little world, speaking in hushed tones so Theo couldn't listen in even if he tried. It stopped completely when Ron nudged Harry in the arm, and they all turned to watch him, the awkward silence finding its way back with ease. Theo dropped his bag and waited for someone to speak.
"Your water is too cold," he mumbled when no one did, pointing behind him.
"We know, we heard you," Harry said with a hint of a smile, amused at Theo for - damn it, it was true... just a little - shrieking. "It does that, you'll just have to get used to it. The beard's gone?"
Theo didn't know whether to laugh or frown at his sudden change of subject, along with the randomness of the conversation in general. It seemed neither of them were good at small talk and new people. Instead, he smiled and tapped his cheek.
"But you kept the hair."
Theo ran a hand through his hair, forward to untangle knots and flatten his fringe, then backwards until he reached the small curls at the end. It only just stopped at his eyes and completely covered his neck and ears. He knew he'd have to cut it eventually and was surprised that he hadn't even thought about it while in the tent's excuse of a bathroom.
"It keeps my neck warm." He shrugged. "Why?"
Harry copied him, let his shoulders rise and fall within seconds, and leant back against the bed frame. "It's just... different seeing you here and not at school. And how you found us... I had no idea you could do that. Is that why you ran away?"
Moving closer to them, but not so close that he could be considered part of the group, Theo said yes and told them what happened. "I tried to stay as far away from my father and anything to do with the Death Eaters as I possibly could and it was working for a long time; my father considered me a disappointment, didn't want me near him. But then he found out about my dreams. He told the others and a couple of weeks after school, I had an audience with the Dark Lord."
He paused when they stared at him with their mouths slightly open and their eyes wide in shock and a small amount of appreciation. Theo went through what he'd said and even he was surprised by how much hatred he had put into his tone when talking about him.
"He wanted me to join, so he could use me and my gifts to control the war. I am - what was it my father called me? - an asset." Theo bit his lip and worked to uncurl his hands, smoothing over the indentations made by his nails. "I said no, ran away before they could kill me. I've been hiding ever since, staying in small rooms and hotels. I can't afford to do that anymore. Probably too dangerous anyway."
"Why?" Ron asked, though it wasn't unkind like he wanted Theo to leave - he was probably thinking of how useful Theo might be, which he didn't mind as much, but only because this was the good side. He asked as though he was merely curious.
"I'm on their wanted list, too," Theo replied. "They want me alive, I'm still considered an asset, but they have permission to kill me if I resist. When you hear your own father say that, disappearing completely is probably for the best anyway."
"That's awful," Hermione gasped, just as Harry said, "I'm sorry."
"You can't pick your family," he said quietly and once again, Harry had the flash of understanding. It was certainly interesting. "So, what are you doing here?"
The three friends turned to each other, silently agreed on something, and then led Theo to a table to the left of the tent. They all sat down, Ron and Hermione on one side while Harry sat next to him, and he waited for them to start. He couldn't do that this time.
"Trusting you is a huge risk," Harry said, almost dangerously. "If we tell you this and you betray us -"
He didn't finish, he probably didn't know how to finish; hurting people wasn't something any of the Gryffindors really wanted to do. But this was war; it wouldn't be good.
"I can help and I'll keep your secrets, you have my word."
It seemed to satisfy them, at least enough to earn a bit more trust and allow Harry to continue talking. He pulled out the locket, placing it on the table, and Theo wanted to reach out and touch it, to know what it was like, but he could sense its evil from his seat and didn't want to risk it.
"Don't say his name, it's jinxed; they'll find you," Theo said, then frowned. "Wait, is that now or later? I can't remember. Hmm, anyway, continue."
Puzzled and strangely amused, the other three shared another look before speaking. "You-Know-Who took six objects like this locket and put pieces of soul inside them; Horcruxes, they're called. If we can find them and destroyed them, then You-Know-Who can be stopped. If we can't, he won't die."
"And you have one," Theo guessed, his finger hovering over the locket.
"This is the first we've found, but the third to be destroyed. Only -"
"Only we don't know how to destroy them," Hermione finished when Harry hesitated.
"Well, how did you destroy the first two?"
"Harry stabbed the diary with a basilisk fang, Dumbledore destroyed the ring," Ron told him bitterly. "We have nothing."
"Ron, we'll find a way," Hermione spoke softly.
"I'll find what I can," Theo promised, tapping his temple. "Horcruxes, eh? Cheating bastard."
He didn't know if he was making a joke or not, but unlike the last time, they all chuckled a little. It was good enough for Theo.
They settled down a moment later and Theo wondered if they'd ever get used to the silence between them.
"I'll find something for us to eat," Hermione broke the silence eventually, pulling Ron up with her.
Harry started to rise, too, as neither knew what to say to the other to start a conversation.
"Thank you," Theo murmured as the man got to his feet. "For trusting me and letting me stay."
"You said you can help and we need all the help we can get," Harry mumbled a little sheepishly. "Besides I... I get it."
They didn't mention what it was that Harry understood, but they seemed to know anyway. And that was good enough, too.
A/N: You'll find out who Adam is in the next chapter. You'll find out about Theo's arm soon enough - it's not self-inflicted. There's no self-harm or anything of that kind in this story, so if that worried you when you read it, please don't be now. :)
I hope you enjoy this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)
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