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The Girl from Slytherin by Lululuna
Chapter 41 : The Prisoner
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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Chapter Forty-One
The Prisoner



Beautiful image by Lostmyheart at TDA.



After the incident in the parlor at Malfoy Manor, my father Apparates us home and sends me straight to my room. I can hear him pacing in the library from the stairs, and I go to sleep without unpacking. The next morning, the house is deserted save for a note from my mother on the kitchen table, informing me that there are wards preventing anybody from entering or exiting the property unless they are in the company of one of my parents – whether this is for my protection or to make sure I stay put, I can’t quite reconcile.

When my parents return that evening, they find me sitting at the kitchen table, un-showered and tired, a few school books opened at random pages. My father sighs and barricades himself in the library, while my mother sits at the table with me, waving her wand at the teapot.

“I see you had a productive day, Astoria,” she says dryly.

“Well, I’m bored. I don’t understand what your plan for me is now that I’ve been suspended,” I say, scowling. “I mean, what are the rules? Am I allowed to practice wandwork? Should I owl my essays to the professors?”

“We will arrange for a tutor, I suppose,” my mother says. She shakes her head. “However, miss, I am not an attendee at your sulking party. You brought this upon yourself, by being cheeky to authority figures and breaking the school rules. If we had not brought you out of school under Professor Snape’s recommendation…” she bites her lip. “Then I fear certain others would have been rallying for you to be punished in the same way as other students from less influential families.”

“You mean Carrow wanted me to be the target of curses and punishment instead of the one who cast the spells,” I say, mouth going very dry. I think of Michael Corner writhing on the ground under my forced jinxes and curses. “She wouldn’t have dared.”

“No, perhaps not, but the situation is very precarious.” She stirs a cube of sugar into her tea by moving her wand in a circular motion above the steaming cup. “And now with your stumbling into trouble at Malfoy Manor – clearly we have made a grave error in not teaching you to act properly in such situations.”

“Are you joking? Those men were going to attack me!” I cry out, and my voice quivers. “How is that my fault?”

“It was because there have been reports of intruders and spies in the area, and the Snatchers were eager to be the ones to catch such criminals,” my father says from his silent stance in the doorway. He has replaced his Ministry robes with a black traveling cloak, the hood hanging down over his shoulders. His hand gently moves over his forearm, where the Dark Mark is burned into his skin.

“Because people know – or guess - it is the headquarters of the Dark Lord,” I say quietly.

“Indeed. Lucius’ ancestors provided enough enchantments and magical protections that if the place needs to be unplotabble, unbreakable, then it is possible. Old magic has gone into Malfoy Manor. It is the safest place there is.”

“Then why would they assume that somebody could have gotten through the wards?” I frown at him.

“How can I answer the riddles of the minds of simpler men, Astoria?” my father snaps, eyes flashing with irritation. “Perhaps if you were to do as you are told, like all of your pureblood peers have managed, then you would still be safe in your dormitory in the dungeons and we would require this tedious conversation.” He nods abruptly in my mother’s direction. “I will be late coming home, Selena.”

“Of course, darling,” my mother says tightly. My father turns and is soon followed by the sound of the front door closing, and a loud Crack! as he Apparates outside of the house. It is clear that he has gone to meet the other Death Eaters and perhaps the Dark Lord for some meetings or producing terrors of the night. I think back to the ledger my father showed me over the summer, where the names of magical folk and their birth status are written down. My father’s job does not end when he finishes at the Ministry.

For a moment I hesitate, toying with the idea of asking my mother about my grandmother and her supposed betrayal of the cause and going into hiding. Perhaps she could confide in me, or explain my grandmother’s reasoning. But I stay silent, bringing my books back upstairs and coming down to help make and eat a quick dinner. The house is very quiet and still.

**


The next few days are lonely and tedious. I write letters to Pyxis – knowing they will be read and censored before getting through at Hogwarts – and idle over my books. I play with Lancelot, despite the fact that he’s far more interested in sleeping and eating than listening to me complain about the Carrows, Snape, my parents, Draco and anybody else who has crossed me in the past week. I wake from nightmares where the manticore from the upstairs hallway is advancing on me, and where ghostly moonlight streams invasively through the curtains, filling my bedroom with shadows.

My parents work later and later hours, and even when he is home my father spends most of his evenings poring over documents in the library, things which he will not even allow my mother to read. He is short-tempered and irritable, and he seems to have more gray hairs than before. My mother tells me that she’s been interviewing possible tutors, but that few seem qualified of helping me study all my subjects.

“We need someone worthy of preparing you for excellent O.W.L. results,” she explains when I ask if there has been any progress. I bite my tongue to keep from complaining that if she’s too picky, I’ll fall behind the rest of my year in the time it takes to even find a tutor.

“But it’s boring here without anybody else,” I say, aware that I sound like a needy child. “Can’t I go to the Ministry with you, or perhaps you could work from home tomorrow?”

“You brought this punishment upon yourself, Astoria,” my mother says sharply. This refrain has left her lips so frequently in the past few days that I find myself rolling my eyes. My mother pauses, then brushes her fingers over my shoulders in a subtle, quiet motherly gesture. “You really didn’t need to do all of this for a boy,” she says in a low voice. “Boys come and go. No relationship is worth risking your education and safety for.”

I raise my eyebrows. “But don’t most wizards and witches meet their future spouses while at Hogwarts?”

“That does not necessarily apply to you,” she cuts back. “Particularly this boy, Taurus, whom you were only seeing for a short time. At least Daphne and Blaise have been together for nearly a year now – perhaps if you were in her situation…”

There it is – the old sisterly jealousy, the annoyance that my mother can see Daphne’s perspective and not mine. Growing up, my father was the one in my corner, but as of late he’s been so distant and irritable that I try to avoid drawing his attention.

“I’m sure you’re right, Mum,” I say through unsmiling lips.

**


The day before my birthday, one week after my return home, my parents send an owl to say they are going out for an event and won’t be home until late, and to make my own dinner. I warm up some soup and sit in the kitchen, stirring in crumpled crackers with my spoon and wishing I had someone to talk to. It’s raining outside, and thunder booms in the distance.

I spoon some soggy crackers and broth into my mouth, swirling the salty taste around my tongue and tapping my fingers against the table. The magical candles which flood light through the kitchen flicker, as if some magical force is nearby. I frown: my wand is upstairs in my room, and nobody else is home or nearby to cast any sort of magical waves.

The candles flicker again, and this time I feel the slightest trace of a spell pass over my body. I stand bolt upright, heart beating a little faster. The candles flicker again, and suddenly, there is a shadow in the garden, moving across the strings of fairy lights which border the flower beds. There is someone in the garden, and I shrink away from the windows.

“There are wards. Nobody can get in,” I whisper to myself, but the hairs on my arms are standing up on end. The garden door is bolted – and no doubt secured by some sort of protective enchantments – but I quickly move into the hall, breathing quickly. A childish instinct rises up inside me: if I can’t see him, he can’t see me.

Another spell flickers over me: I can feel its trace thick in the air. Powerful magic. There is a thumping from the garden, though perhaps it is only thunder. The rain picks up and taps against the glass. Moving through the hall and avoiding any windows, I jiggle the door of the library, the safest room in the house – locked. Clearly my father does not trust me not to get tangled up in his important affairs. Tears well in my eyes, stinging the tops of my cheeks.

I huddle in the corridor, staring at my feet. No intruder finds his or her way into the house, and after a short time the quivers of magic and sounds from the garden stop. Regardless, when my parents come home they are shocked and annoyed to find me hiding in the corridor and the wards on the house disturbed.

“I truly don’t believe anybody can properly break past the wards, Astoria,” my mother says kindly. She forces me into the kitchen, clears away my cold soup with a wave of her wand, and sets the kettle to whistling. “It was probably just your imagination.”

“No, there was somebody – a wizard or witch – out there, trying to get inside,” I say shakily. “Please don’t leave me here alone anymore, Mum – I – I don’t know who might be trying to get inside but I don’t want to be here if they succeed next time you and Dad are out.”

“Show some courage, dear,” my mother sighs. My father re-enters, water dripping from his cloak, and announces, to my mother’s surprise, that the magical wards did suffer a bit of testing.

“Nothing my spells couldn’t handle – but I understand why you were frightened, Tori,” he says, patting me on the back as he stalks by to pick out his favorite tea mug. “Perhaps we should work out a different situation for you until things here calm down a bit.”

“Like sending me back to Hogwarts?” I say hopefully. At least at Hogwarts I did not have to be alone, even if I did live among a nest of vipers. At least at Hogwarts I had people to speak with, even if it often had to be in secret. At least there, I had a chance of hearing news of Terry’s whereabouts.

“I am afraid that is not yet an option. No, I think it best we set you up at Malfoy Manor for a short time,” my father explains, ignoring my distressed sigh. “Draco is still…at his home for the following few days – he is a suitable companion and should keep you out of the trouble you seem so fond of.”

“Daddy,” I implore, hoping the childish address will soften his tone a little, “please, don’t you remember how the last time I was at the manor, I was almost hexed – or worse -” he flinches – “by those awful men? The night ended in death. Clearly it’s not safe.”

“Well it appears you are not safe here either – and at least there you will be under more watchful eyes who have your best interests at heart,” my father snaps. “Now, go to bed, Astoria. Selena, I will be in the library.”

**


My father makes good on his decision. I am woken early the next morning and told to get my schoolbooks and Potions ingredients together for the day. My mother gets angry, accusing me of purposefully lagging as I fix my hair into a lumpy ponytail, and she straightens my skirt and autumn cloak as if we’re heading to a social event, not the principal headquarters of the Death Eaters. There isn’t time to open the few gifts at the end of my bed – my mother puts them on my dresser and says I can open them in the evening.

“But happy birthday, darling,” she says as an after-thought, kissing me on the top of the head. She hesitates, then squeezes my hand. “I can’t believe I am so old that my eldest child is now sixteen. Just another year until you are of age.”

By eight in the morning, I am standing in front of the manor: a dismal sight in the fog and drizzle. I pull my cloak more tightly over my chest as I follow my father up the stone path, yawning into my collar in case he turns around and sees. Even the trees seem to be in mourning, naked and drooping against a dismal gray sky. I think of Hogwarts: the chill in the Forbidden Forest, how Halloween pumpkins the size of a student will be hauled in from Hagrid’s pumpkin patch, how the students will dress up and feast on delicious festive cakes and squash as candles flicker in the air above them in the Great Hall. Though perhaps there will be few celebrations this year, under the Carrows.

My father taps his wand against the front doors, and they swing open for him, revealing the faded grandeur of the manor’s entrance hall. From there, we move to a parlour – one I recognize from my childhood as being Narcissa Malfoy’s favourite. The lady of the manor herself is waiting there to greet me, sitting stiffly with her ankles crossed and her pale face gazing into a blue – a magical – fire crackling being a grate.

Draco himself is there as well, and though I am nervous to be at the manor in the first place seeing a familiar face my own age is somewhat reassuring. I may not have liked Draco in the past, nor really trusted him, but his quiet nod and murmured greeting show how much he has receded from that cocky, bold boy who once ruled the Slytherin group and spoke as he pleased among his peers.

“Astoria, I am very pleased to see you here. A very happy birthday,” Narcissa says, a thin smile cracking across her face. Her long blond hair is tied in a knot at the back of her head, pulling back the skin of her temples a little too tightly. “It is lovely for Draco to have a companion to study with while he – while he is compelled to spend time here at home.” She presses something into my hand, a little wrapped gift.

“Selena and I appreciate you keeping an eye on our daughter, Narcissa,” my father says. “Now, is Lucius about? We have some things to discuss. Astoria, I shall see you in the evening.”

“Goodbye, Dad,” I say, but he is already out the door, holding it open for Narcissa and smiling tightly at her. Holding back a sigh of irritation at my father’s indifferent treatment of me, I sit down on the sofa beside Draco, crossing my ankles in an awkward imitation of his mother’s graceful, poised movements. “How are you, Draco?” I uncross my ankles and cross one thigh over the other instead: it is far more comfortable.

Draco looks very pale and tired, with dark circles under his eyes. Despite the warmth in the room – I am in the process of wriggling out of my cloak – he is wearing tight black robes which are buttoned up to his neck and down his bony wrists. His thin fingers hold his wand lightly, hardly moving. He could almost be a statue.

“I see you brought your Potions things,” Draco says, ignoring my greeting. “I suppose that your parents are anxious you keep up your schoolwork – couldn’t have a Slytherin daughter fail out her O.W.L year, no matter how badly behaved she is.” His lip curls in a cruel sneer, and I frown at his rudeness.

“Seems to me you’re not doing so well with attending class yourself,” I retort, pulling out a book from my bag. The required readings from before I left Hogwarts have been marked with bits of parchment, though I haven’t touched them in the past week. I open the well-wrapped package from Narcissa: a beautiful pair of silver earrings emerges, with looping curves of delicately shaped metal. They seem to shine in the light from the blue fire, though all the curtains are drawn shut.

“I have been called to higher duties – I wouldn’t expect you to understand, Tor,” he says, sounding for a moment every bit his old self, the Draco who bragged about being chosen by the Dark Lord at the beginning of my fourth year at the A.S.S. club.

“Neither would I,” I respond tartly, and turn my gaze and my attention to my book. Realizing that I will not be baited as a target for him to take out his frustration, the boy stands up and moves to a writing desk in the corner, bringing out a roll of parchment and sitting down, his back facing me. I catch the eyes of a portrait of some Malfoy ancestor who is hung in a richly carved frame over the harpsichord staring down at me judgementally, and turn away from Draco’s silent form.

Within an hour, I am sitting with my feet up on the antique sofa, and my Potions report on the Draught of Silent Sleep is half complete. Though it is not clear whether Slughorn will actually read the essay or not, it feels satisfying to have accomplished something during this strange and dark holiday. A house elf – not the one the Malfoys used to own, but a female – enters and offers us some tea and biscuits, backing out of the room with her large, quivering ears drooping to the ground. I look curiously towards Draco.

“It belongs to the Selwyns, as Mr. Selwyn is currently in residence here,” he explains. I wonder if Selby, the Notts’ house elf, is also here, forced to serve in this dark and sinister house. Since Mr. Nott was freed from Azkaban, Pyxis and Theo had to relinquish their custody of their servant, returning him to their father.

“Is… does he live here?” I ask, loweinrg my voice to a whisper. Draco’s brow furls, causing large wrinkles to grow across his forehead, but he seems to understand, shaking his head slightly.

He is often on the premises for meetings and the like – but we do not know where he eats or sleeps,” he says, and then frowns more deeply, as if reprimanding himself for speaking so familiarly about his master. He shakes his head as if to clear it. “Tor – would you like to take a break from studying and go for a walk? I know a place we can go which you might like.”

“Erm, if you’re sure that’s alright,” I say nervously. “The last time I was here and went wandering, I got myself into trouble.”

“You will be fine in my company,” Draco says firmly, standing and straightening his robes. Shiny leather shoes peek out from under them. “I suggest putting your cloak back on.”

“Thanks for the warning.” I follow him out into the corridor, and we walk down the silent hallway. Silent, that is, until we pass a familiar door which I can’t help but recognize close to the room where the New Years Eve ball was hosted. I pause, remembering how Pyxis and I wandered down into the secret dungeons beneath the manor, hoping to find the wine cellar, and how we found instead a Boggart. The scene has haunted my memories and dreams in the months since.

Suddenly, there is a low sound which comes from behind the door, as if trailing up through the passages and curving stairs.

“No – no, please-”

I freeze. “What was that? Draco – did you hear that?”

“It is merely a prisoner – do not fuss yourself about it,” he grumbles, waving his wand over the door. “Silencio ostium.” The scream is cut-off mid-breath. He waves his wand again, and I jump back as a heavy, dusty tapestry unfurls from above the door, blocking it from sight and sending dust into the air. I wipe my eyes, scowling at the tapestry’s depiction of a maiden and a unicorn sitting peacefully in a forest, while shadows creep in the distance, moving across the magically woven threads.

“I did not know there were actually prisoners here,” I say shakily. Draco nods.

“It is the place where the Snatchers bring their finds, in case the fugitives are someone important to the Dark Lord’s cause,” the boy says. “Reckon much of the business comes through our doors.” He looks a little sour about it.

I look back at the tapestry. In legends of old, maidens would sit prettily in the woods to lure the pure of heart, the unicorns, to sit close to them. Meanwhile, the hunters would gather in the shadows, preparing to fall down upon the beautiful creature and slay it, using its horn for cutting into pieces for the selling, its hairs for wands, its heart for a delicacy said to cure all ailments of the mind.

As I watch, the unicorn bows its head trustingly, closing its eyes in the maiden’s lap. She smiles calmly, ignoring the hunters moving behind her as they prepare to strike.

Draco coughs pointedly, and I tear my eyes away from the tapestry, following him through the manor in several twisting corridors, and finally emerging into the gardens beyond. Rain falls in steady drizzles, and fog gathers over the dying flowerbeds and fading trees. The gardens expand for several acres in either direction: some sections still cultivated from centuries of old, and others falling slowly into neglect.

“We should go this way,” Draco tells me, putting his hand on my arm lightly to guide me towards the head maze. For a moment, I am worried that he is leading me towards some type of test or initiation – remembering my second year and the final task of the Triwizard tournament, the enormous magical maze for the champions to navigate, I shiver, fingering the hilt of my wand from where it pokes up from my pocket.

“Where are we going in the gardens? The weather is pretty awful – well, I mean, this is England but…” my voice trails off. I follow him past a statue of a centaur and a man in battle with a bench beneath it: as if somebody could ever rest peacefully while sitting beneath such a violent sculpture. The centaur’s eyes are wide open in pain, and the marble itself is tense and muscled.

Draco leads me towards an area of the gardens where a stone wall rises out of the mist with a thick wooden gate. He takes out his wand and moves it in a circle in front of the gate, which slowly swings open, creaking slightly.

“You have to hold your breath as you walk in,” he tells me. “Like you’re swimming under water. Otherwise the enchantments won’t work.”

“That’s ridiculous,” I inform him, laughing. The air comes out of my mouth in a visible cloud. “You’re just taking the piss.” It’s the sort of Muggle-like saying that Terry would tell me, and I feel simultaneous pangs of longing and amusement.

“No need to be a brat, Tor,” Draco exclaims, face turning a little pink. “Look, just – just humour me, alright?” He takes a deep breath, and without exhaling, steps through the gate into the walled garden.

Hesitating, wondering if he’s brought me here to practice his hexes in a place where nobody will notice, I decide to trust. Taking a breath and holding it captive in my throat, I follow him through.

The walled garden itself is beautiful in a ruined, neglected sort of way. Wild vines with dying berries caress the thick stones of the walls, and the ghosts of flower petals litter the cold, hard ground beneath. The garden is perfectly square, with a tree in each corner that I did not notice peeking above the walls from the other side of the stone. The air seems very quiet and still, and even the wind does not push its way inside the four walls.

“This is the Whispering Garden – even if someone is eavesdropping, through plain or magical means, they will not be able to hear what we say,” Draco explains, sitting on a stone bench which rests against the wall further from the gate. Hesitantly, I move to sit next to him, leaning back against the rough stones of the walls. “My ancestors used it to conduct illicit business, allegedly,” he continues, scuffing one of the expensive leather shoes against the cracked cobblestones where wrinkled
weeds peek through.

“Is there something you wished to speak in secrecy about?” I ask, trying to catch a glimpse of his eyes. He evades me, however: clearly he has improved his Occlumency skills in the past months.

“I just thought you might enjoy some privacy on your birthday before the madness begins,” Draco says, staring at the ground even harder as if he would bore a hole through the stones and into the earth.

“I – truthfully, I don’t even know why they forced me to come here today.”

“Perhaps it is horrible – but I think your father wants to you see what this war truly means,” Draco says quietly. “There are two ways to seduce wizards and witches into his order.” He looks down. “Through glamour. Or through fear.”

“And which one governs you?” I ask him, staring at the mottled flowerbeds bordering the garden.

“I thought perhaps the first for a long time – until I understood what the true stakes of this war are on my family.” He brushes his blond hair away from his face, leaning back beside me. “But the truth – the truth is that I am not brought away from Hogwarts to serve the Dark Lord. Only to act as a scapegoat for him to punish my parents, to force me to do terrible things.”

“Like what?” I whisper, turning towards him. A bony wrist peeks out from the sleeve of his robes, and carefully I put my hand over it, hoping he can draw some warmth from me. “What does he force you to do?”

“Nothing you will not soon be familiar with, if your luck continues,” Draco says bitterly. His skin is very cold beneath my hand, but to my surprise he does not pull away.

“What…what does that mean? Does it have something to do with this…whatever you said… seducing through fear?”

Draco nods curtly. “I do not think you will see the Dark Lord anytime soon. He has been traveling. But – your father, my father, they cannot protect us anymore. Being bloody kids isn’t a shield either.”

We sit in silence for a time, and I ponder Draco’s cryptic warnings. Despite the safety of this space, he does not share any more, and I wonder if he fully trusts me either. We are alone yet together here in the midst of the Dark Lord’s rule.

After a time, Draco stands and stretches, saying that we should head back to the manor before our absences are missed. The late afternoon is beginning to set in, and a few eager stars peek through the clouds. As we walk back through the dark and misty gardens, passing an albino peacock, Draco does not speak to me. He holds the door open for me as we re-enter through the back side of the manor, and I follow him wordlessly through the maze of passages.

But in front of the unicorn tapestry, there is a commotion.

“We might’ve got ‘im!” a familiar voice calls out gleefully. I recognize the Snatcher from my earlier encounter at the manor and shrink away. “We found ‘im lurkin’ outside the gates – easy capture, eh mates!”

I am shoved back as Lucius Malfoy and two other cloaked Death Eaters swarm past me, blocking my view. Draco’s face is stone as he looks at the floor. A tall, hulking shape with a hairy face and small, piggy yellow eyes appears, towering over the heads of the others, and my mouth goes dry in fear. Greyback, the werewolf.

“Reckon ‘e could be of some use to you, sir!” Greyback calls out to Mr. Malfoy, the latter of whom draws his wand. He moves to the side, and for a brief moment I catch a glimpse of their captive.

And my heart leaps into my throat. Because I know him.

In the unicorn tapestry, the maiden’s knife descends around the unicorn’s neck. The hunters pounce. A wave of a wand and the tapestry rolls up, revealing the door to the dungeons. The men move, dragging the boy, and wordlessly, frozen with fear, I follow. I recognize Mr. Nott’s familiar face among them, his mouth flat in a stern line.

The prisoner is dragged in without dignity. Those who are awake gather around, sneering at the limp body on the floor. He stirs, feebly, wincing.

Because I know him I’m sure he’s taking his measurements of the room before showing he is alert. He will see that there are four large, dark figures surrounding him, wands pointed at his heart. Perhaps he has not yet detected me, watching, cowering behind his captors.

The tallest figure gives the prisoner a sharp kick with his boot.

“State your name, fool,” he snarls. “Now! Do not stay silent in the presence of the servants of the Dark Lord!”

Slowly, the prisoner raises his head. His stare is blue and defiant. He glares back at his tall aggressor.

Greyback growls from a place low within his throat. He is like an alpha demanding submission. My mouth feels sour in disgust.

“What’s your blood status, boy?” he murmurs, skimming his long nails through the prisoner’s messy, dark hair. I sicken when I see it is matted with blood.

“Are you… a blood traitor?” Greyback inhales deeply. “A half-blood?” Face inches from his prey’s, the werewolf grins. “Ah, the snatchers have caught us a Mudblood.”

The three other figures smile a little, a cunning smile.

“Hogwarts age,” they murmur. “Perhaps seventeen. Perhaps he knows… of him.”

“Tor.”

I startle as Nott beckons me forward with a twitch of his wand-arm. His gaze never leaves the prisoner’s face, nor Greyback’s bared teeth.

“Do you recognize this… this? Is he a Mudblood?”

“No,” I whisper, shaking. “No, I don’t recognize him. No. No.”

The prisoner, desperately trying to avoid Greyback’s cold yellow stare, looks past him and straight at me. For a moment, we register the grief and confusion on each others’ faces, then I quickly lower my eyes. A sense of doom, of helplessness makes my stomach go weak – for both of us. This is the end, I think to myself. I wonder if he hates me now.

I look around at the other figures in the room. Nott – the father of my childhood best friend, his mahogany wand pointed so menacingly at the boy on the floor, that same wand which made bunches of fireworks and stars ricochet out of it on my ninth birthday. Malfoy, whose wife bought my sister and I new robes and school books when Mother was too ill to take us to Diagon Alley, dressing us up like the little daughters she never had. Rookwood, who would scoop me up and bounce me on his knee when I was a child, praising me on my perfect pureness, telling me I was a true emblem of what it meant to be a witch.

They are hard men. Righteous, ambitious men. Men who have killed, and will kill again without delay.

Close your mind, I beg the boy on the floor. Please. For if they know what he is thinking, he will die today. If they knew, they would kill us both, these men, friends of my father, champions of my childhood. Were my father here, he wouldn't hesitate to cast the curse himself. Close your mind. I think. Or both of us could die.

These are dark times, when friend turns on friend and nobody is safe, not even the daughters of Death Eaters.

As if he heard the wisps of my longing for him, Terry Boot has followed me here, into the darkness.




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