Whispers in the Night
Disclaimer: I'm just playing in JKR's sandbox and make no money from this. Please enjoy the story and feel free to leave comments and critiques, it's the only way to get better at this. I'm writing this story for my own enjoyment.
Content Warning: This story will contain mentions of abuse and scenes containing but not limited to swearing, violence, smut and other Adult Content.
Author's Note: 1. As some of you may have noticed; I put in some updated chapters throughout this story, namely, 1, 22 and 51. This was to provide summaries for the years/arcs that are involved between the chapters so readers who may not want to read everything have a baseline to work from. It's a cop out for the lazy readers and honestly I didn't want to, but I figured it might help people reach the content they desire out of my story. This practice will continue for each Year/Arc of this story/combined series so people can remain up to speed.
2. I've always warned that things would slow down and they definitely have. Life… uhh finds a way, as some might say. So to be clear, the slowed pace is due not only to life, but to plotting out the chapters of this story surrounding main events and the like. I'm still going to be relatively slow, especially regarding 5th year because of a variety of issues. Namely: I hate 5th year and I can only do so much to make it better and alter it to fit my whim and the necessities of the story and characters.
3. Big thanks to all who follow, favorite and review my work. I really appreciate your support. I'd like to hear more from you in your reviews such as likes, dislikes, smut requests (I may be amenable to more smut…), guesses on the future, action critiques/expectations/requests, and thoughtful questions about the story and characters.
4. Recommendation: Author James Spookie has some great stories. Go check him out!
5. Enjoy the latest chapter and let me know what you think!
Ahh… Ahah. Ahahaha. Ahahahahahahaha!
Chapter Fifty-Two: Blood on the Horizon
The day had started out perfectly. Pleasant dreams of time with her House of Wolves had Tracey smiling as she stretched and yawned out the last of her wonderful dream-filled night. The sun was just peeking through the curtain and with reckless abandon the blonde hopped out of bed and spread them open wide. Despite being dressed in nothing but a tank top and boy shorts, she had no concerns about peeping toms. Her only neighbors were the Greengrass family, and they lived on the other side of Davis House. Even then, they were roughly half a mile away at least, given the extent of land both family's properties possessed.
Tracey had whisked her way onto the balcony after opening the doors and breathed deep the smell of the gardens in the backyard. It was almost storybook, especially with the colorful hues that brazenly flourished about the early morning sky. Low clouds had hung over the edge of the horizon, and through them rose a dark gleam of red from the morning sun.
"Blood on the horizon."
If only she had realized how prophetic those words had been that morning. Tracey had always looked upon that particular omen as a means for adventure, not danger. She had taken it as a challenge to make the day as bright and beautiful as could be and rarely ever took it as a sign of something wrong. Omens were something to take seriously, on occasion, but mostly she saw them as superstition or that magic was involved somewhere.
How utterly wrong she had been.
The resounding crack of a hand across her face briefly masked the pain as she sat tied to a chair not even hours later. It brought her back to reality, to the present, to the torture she was enduring as she looked up at the most recent evils in her life. Four of the Azkaban Escapees, plus Junior, stood around her family, ready to continue the torture. They had invaded with the help of Alecto Carrow when the Carrows and Notts had been invited to discuss their final arrangements for disavowing Voldemort and forming concrete alliances with other families, namely the Boneses among others. Alecto had invaded the Carrow mansion with her allies first, then used her brother Aiden and his family, including Hestia and Flora, to gain access to the Davis House at the appointed time.
Rookwood, Mulciber, and Travers had taken Theo and his family to another part of the manor. Alecto had the help of Jugson and two others Tracey didn't know to round up the other Carrows and "show them the error of their ways" as Alecto called it while the other Death Eaters did the same with the Notts and Davises to prove the escapees could still handle their fiendish duties, even after escaping just the night before. Their assault had been swift, relentless, and had put more than a few holes throughout the entire house.
"Listen to me when I'm talking to you!" barked the tall man, who despite Azkaban's treatment bore an impressive set of muscles. Tracey glared at the intruder as blood trailed down the corner of her mouth, the inside of her cheek having been torn by her own teeth from the blow. "Now be a good girl and tell me the portrait's passphrase."
Tracey couldn't help but smirk, her bloodied teeth only supporting the firm, snarky glare she gave the Death Eater. "Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the bitch in heat over there begging to use crucio on my parents."
That earned Tracey another slap, but for all she wanted to sob in pain, she couldn't help but let out a small laugh. She had never understood the logic behind it until now, but just seeing the fury and tasting their frustration was worth it. Harry had been right; if she was going to be put through hell then she'd make sure to drag her enemies with her.
As she spit out a glob of blood, right onto the prison robes of a shorter, stockier man that was barking at her, calling her a whore and a slut, she smirked again. "I'd say you hit like a girl, but that would be an insult to my gender. So I'll say you hit like a whiny bitch begging for dear old daddy and master's approval, or a good buggering up the ass, your choice."
The third slap she got sent her and the chair careening to the floor, and there she lay as mad cackling laughter drowned out any sound of the men trying to tear the information out of her. Her parents had already gotten the same treatment, and now it was only a matter of time. As Tracey felt the world shift and tilt back upright as she was seated properly once more, a deathly scream echoed throughout the whole manor.
Tracey froze because she knew that scream. Hestia! Flora! One of the two was being tortured or had been killed or something to get that kind of noise to rip past their lips. The twins had always been impeccably unflappable, never showing a hint of anxious or debilitating emotions unless it suited them or they simply didn't care who saw it. But to hear them scream as if their world had been torn asunder? Not once had Tracey ever heard such a heart-wrenching sound from them, not even when they broke a bone falling off of a broom or when they lost their uncle.
"Alecto's certainly having fun," the tall man with dark hair said with a nasty smirk. "Maybe we should let Bella play with them after all, hmm?" He turned to the woman, who shook with anticipation and insanity, though Tracey wasn't quite sure she wanted to know which caused most of the tremors. "What do you say, Bella? Do you want a taste for a treat of knowledge?"
"Why Dolohov, I didn't know you could be such a sweet-talker still after all of our time in Azkaban," Bellatrix practically cooed as she practically skipped away from the wall and approached the family bound before her. "So many delicious treats to try! I don't know where to start!"
Tracey's father stilled, the first time since he had watched his wife and daughter get bound to chairs on either side of him. He had barked and roared at the Death Eaters until they silenced him and had their way with slapping, cutting and otherwise treating Tracey and her mother to Death Eater Hospitality.
"What do you say, Richard?" Bellatrix cooed again as she waved her wand and ended the silencing spell. "Who do I get to play with first?"
"Take me," Richard pleaded before the damnable woman had even finished. "Leave Helen and Tracey out of this."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," Bellatrix cooed I an even more deranged baby voice than before. "Richard, you know I can't do that! You may not have been marked but you gave such good information to our Lord! But now you've gone and betrayed us, renounced him along with the Notts and the misguided Carrows that sweet little Alecto is… rehabilitating… Poor little dear, don't you know you can't do that and get away with it?" She prowled around him some before she straddle him in his chair and stage whispered in his ear. "Now tell me, who do I play with first, Richard? Lovely Helen? Or Little Tracey-Wacey?"
"Please! Please don't!" Richard begged as he struggled to get up as Bella steadied herself on the rocking man's body. "They don't have anything to do with this! I'm the one you want! I know the passphrases for everything in the house! Please! J-just leave my family alone!"
"Richard don't you dare-" a smack silenced Helen with a loud, pitiful yelp from the woman and Tracey growled as she struggled to get free of her bonds.
"You bastards!" Tracey screamed at Rodolphus as he smacked her mother again and again as her father pleaded and begged for them to stop. "I'll kill you! I swear I'll kill you if it's the last thing I do!"
"Oh I think we have a winner," Dolohov drawled charismatically as Bella's smile grew wider as she eyed Helen with a hungry look. Dolohov's gaze flicked from Helen to Tracey. The low, lecherous look he gave her made Tracey want to vomit as the convict licked his lips and eased closer to her until he was right behind her, stale breath nearly gagged her as it slithered across her exposed neck and shoulder. "How about Bella plays with your wife while I take care of your daughter, eh Richard?"
Richard stilled again, petrified with fear as he shook his head. Helen looked equally terrified as her eyes met Tracey's. For all of her defiance, fear and horror unlike anything she'd known had crept and crawled up Tracey's spine and seized control. Dolohov was really going to try and have his way with her and no-one would be able to stop him.
"Anything but that," Richard pleaded. "Please! Don't do this! I'll give you what you want!"
"Oh we know that, Dick," Bella cooed as seductively as her current childlike façade allowed her. She ground herself lightly to him before she stood up and rounded Helen slowly. "But you betrayed the Dark Lord! And a price must be paid… Looks like your wife and daughter are going to suffer for your mistakes!"
As her mother was untied and tossed to the floor, Tracey felt Dolohov's hands creep along her sides and arms. She tried, desperately tried not to flinch at his touch as she tightened her grip in the chair beneath her. She wouldn't give in! She wouldn't give this bastard, this monster, the satisfaction of seeing her afraid or in pain. Revulsion coursed through her and she nearly gagged again when she felt his breath hitch against her ear as he neared touching her breasts. Everything else in the room was forced from her mind as she resisted every advance of his unwanted attention. Tracey struggled against his touch; rocked back and forth and moved side to side as much as she could as his grubby hands finally seized on their prize and squeezed her breasts roughly over her clothes.
"What, not enjoying this?" Dolohov whispered in her ear before he breathed deep her scent. "You give it up for that Potter boy and his bunch of sluts, I hear. So why not, eh Tracey? Why not a real pureblood show you what it's like? Why not let a real man have his way with you?"
"Because a real man doesn't have to rape to get something so good," Tracey hissed as her grip on the chair tightened. "Something you'll never have!"
Tracey lashed out as hard as she could with her head and felt bone crunch beneath the blow as she head-butted the sick son-of-a-bitch with all her might. Dolohov screamed in pain and backed away, blood pouring down his face as his broken nose shifted beneath startled hands that uselessly tried to make the pain go away. A dark, satisfied grin split Tracey's bloodied lips before Dolohov screamed in rage and smacked her so hard she fell to the floor again.
Dazed as she might have been, it didn't last long as she grit her teeth against the pain in her arm. Shards of glass cut at her arm and fingers and Tracey thanked her lucky stars for the first time since the attack. She grabbed as small a shard of glass as she could and slowly sawed at the rope to keep anyone from noticing. That, however, was the straw that broke the camel's back for Bellatrix.
"Ohhh feisty! I think I'll enjoy that one when I'm done with this one here if you haven't broken her by that time, Anton," Bellatrix cackled with glee as Dolohov was healed by a silent and stoic Barty Crouch Junior. The crazed woman's gaze settled on her mother and Tracey froze as she saw the black, sharp wand get caressed as it neared her mother. "Crucio!"
Her mother's screams would live with her for the rest of her days. Tracey froze as she watched her mother writhe and flounder on the floor, as she bit her tongue so hard it bled before she continued screaming, pleading incomprehensibly for mercy between breaths and her interminable screeches. Her father's baritone barks and howls, echoed all around her, begging for mercy, but all Tracey could see was her mother screaming and being tortured as shards of glass tore at her writhing form.
Of all the things that entered her heart, hatred wormed its way in and Tracey cut at the ropes even harder and faster than before. Frantically she cut at the rope even as grooves were cut into her fingers, her palm, her wrist as blood trailed along her skin. Fury and rage like little else she had ever experience before seized Tracey's heart and it was all she could do not to yell in hateful triumph when she felt the rope snap and loosen.
Before she could even make a move, Dolohov return and kicked her in the stomach, again and again until Junior pulled him away and the Lestrange brothers took her father from his chair.
"Come on, Dolohov! Cheer up! We're going to show the girl exactly what will happen to her if she doesn't let you have your way!" Rabastan called out as he and Rodolphus kicked Richard's knees out from beneath him. Both men drew their wands and looked at Richard with glee as Bellatrix released the curse and prepared for another round. The smirk Bellatrix wore set a boulder in Tracey's gut even as she coughed up blood and bile from Dolohov's attack. "Watch this, girly! You might lose your parents like little Longbottom lost his if you don't give in!"
"Mom! Dad! NO! Stop it!"
Tracey's pleas went unheard as the Lestrange family cried the spell all at once. "CRUCIO!"
The screams of her parents etched their way into Tracey's mind as she watched them get tortured. It went on forever, even if only seconds had passed. For a moment she thought she could feel the curse itself and it hurt more than anything else she as she witnessed her parents tortured again and again…
Magic born of desperation, of fear and hate worked its way into Tracey's chest as she let out a primal, ear-splitting scream. The entire room was torn asunder, flung about in every direction as she screeched out all of her hate and fury. She called her wand to her hand and in another instant the blonde witch stood from the ground and the glass sang its shrill song as it split the air in a whirlwind of deadly magic.
Rodolphus and Rabastan weren't quick enough with their shields and their arms and sides were shredded by glass shards. Bellatrix, Dolohov and Junior, however, held their shields strong as they looked with surprise and rage at the young witch that dared defy them. Seeing her attack hadn't gotten them all, Tracey poured her magic into her body and lungs again as she breathed in the very magic of her home.
"Get out of my house!"
A voice as cold and deadly as she had ever wielded slipped past her lips before Tracey screamed again. This time none of the Death Eaters could resist and they were flung away from her parents, through the walls and doors, even out the window in one case as the blonde witch screamed in fury. When she saw all of her enemies slump in some kind of unconsciousness, Tracey swiftly cast her perception charm on herself and her parents and grabbed their wands. She quickly went to their sides and found her mother shivering and moaning in pain.
"Mum! Mum it's going to be okay!" Tracey said as she put her mother's wand in her hand and held it closed around it. Even now she felt her mother's tremors cascade throughout her body and the woman clung to her wand as tightly as ever.
"Tracey?" That single word from her mother's lips was a godsend! Relief washed over the teenager as she smiled at her mom and tears poured down her cheeks. "Such a g-good girl… A-always w-wondered when y-your screeching l-like a banshee for me to c-come h-help you w-w-would c-come in handy."
Tracey let out a laugh that was more a sob than anything as she kissed her mom's hand. Her father recovered more quickly, and he swiftly summoned potions from the other room. It wouldn't do much, but the pain relief saw his hands steady themselves and soon her mother was able to stand on both feet with a bit of coaxing. He used a basic bandaging spell on Tracey's arm and hand as the girl smiled at her father, who smiled back as much as he could. When Helen nearly toppled to the floor, Tracey flung her mother's arm over her shoulder so they could both cast as daughter supported mother.
Spells flashed through the room, and even if their aim was off, the Davises clearly watched as killing curse green narrowly missed all of them. The Death Eaters were back on their feet and it didn't look like they cared about stealing any valuables or knowledge from them anymore. They wanted their heads, and one way or another the Death Eaters were going to get them even if they couldn't tell where their prey exactly was.
"We have to get a message out," Tracey yelled at her father. "Alecto betrayed us and got them in! Nobody knows we're in danger! We have to get help!"
"They've got the floo blocked!" Richard roared as he cast a wide swath of flame through the broken walls to push the Death Eaters back. "We don't have anything to reach anyone!"
Tracey cursed before her eyes laid on a picture behind a cracked frame. The six of them were all seated in the Redoubt, smiling happily as they teased one another over a game of poker. It was everything she needed and Tracey mustered all the magic and feeling she could as she cast the patronus charm. The silver mist barely coalesced into a wolf, but when it did she couldn't help but smile and strengthen it at the thought of her House of Wolves and the wolf patronus before her split into five.
"Go to them. Tell them we're under attack from Azkaban escapees! Hurry!"
The five wolves nodded and without another word dashed away in shining blurs. Her mother smiled at her and squeezed Tracey's shoulder proudly.
"That's my girl," Richard said strongly even as he intensified the flames, not caring if he burnt down half the house if it meant pushing the Death Eaters back. "Now we just have to hold on and pray the others are still alive."
"They are," Tracey ground out as she fired spells indiscriminately through an opening in the wall one of the Death Eaters had made with his rather forced ejection by Tracey's earlier scream. "They better be…"
"Rookwood, you know better than anyone how valuable I was to the Dark Lord before the fall," Thaddeus Nott attempted to charm the leading Death Eater among the group as his family stood tied to the pillars supporting the balcony in the backyard. "I can still be valuable as part of the neutral faction. I'll hand over any information you could ever want so long as my family lives and we are left to our own devices."
"Shut it you filthy traitor!" The words were shortly echoed by the woomph as Mulciber's hand buried itself deep in Thaddeus' gut as he punched the man again and again. "You think you can wear that mark and then abandon it when our Lord has returned?! You think you can betray us when we are on our way to glory once again?! You're not worthy to wear that mark you scum-sucking filth!"
Mulciber relentlessly rammed his fists into Thaddeus' body again and again, ruthless in his assault on the Nott patriarch. Travers, standing nearby, couldn't resist the sight and soon took out his own smoldering hatred on another traitor. Theo, Sarah, and their mother could do nothing but watch as their father was pummeled and their uncle was tortured with the cruciatus. The sick feeling in his gut welled up higher as Theo watched his father bleed more and more, as his teeth, broken and cracked, fell to the floor before Rookwood raised a hand and both of the other Death Eaters halted their assault.
"Mmm I have to say they're right, Thaddeus," Rookwood drawled as he limped forward to look the patriarch in the eye as Mulciber pulled the man's head back. "You have committed treason against the Dark Lord by seeking out Potter and his ilk. Junior told us you didn't even welcome our Lord and Master back when he was resurrected, and even intend to break away from us completely. Now, how do you expect we feel about that, let alone the Dark Lord?"
"We-we can make it up to you-to him!" Thaddeus breathed past bloody lips once he'd emptied his mouth of half the broken teeth and blood that lingered down his throat. "We can spy on them for you!"
"Father, no!" Theo raged suddenly. "A half hour ago you would have gladly given up all ties to the Dark Lord because you knew we'd be part of a better alliance! Don't give into these-"
"Shut up, Theodore!" his mother spat suddenly. "You've caused enough damage to this family by befriending Potter in the first place! We should never have allowed you to continue associating with him! Our place is with the Dark Lord!"
"Ahhh, so it's your son's fault, is it?" Rookwood wondered rhetorically. The Nott Matriarch nodded fervently yet silently, knowing anything else would earn her as much as her husband and brother-in-law had gotten. "You would lay the blame for your faithlessness upon your only son?" The man grinned as Theo glared at him fiercely, only after he had glared at his own mother, who looked away in shame. "Twice the traitor then! You have betrayed your Lord, and now your own son…"
Theo's glare was not reserved solely for the Death Eaters. No, not at all! His parents and uncle were doing and saying anything they could to get out of this! He knew he came from an opportunistic and pragmatic family, hell, he and almost all of his friends were relatively of the same sort in some form so it was to be expected. But this… this complete betrayal? He felt sick at the thought he would be used to get close to Harry, or that he'd be a scapegoat for his parents so they and likely his sister could live.
As his gaze fell on his mother, Theo realized just how cruel and cold a calculating bitch his mother could really be. As Rookwood approached him directly, Theo stared at his mother before he spat in her direction. "I'll never be like them. I won't betray those I care about!"
Rookwood let out a dark, rumbling laugh deep in his chest, humming it out as he amusedly grasped Theo's chin and stared him right in the eye. "You already have, dear boy. By refusing to give up your so-called friend, you have betrayed your family."
"I'm not betraying them!" Theo growled right back as he stared intently into Rookwood's eyes. "I just think we can get out of this without betraying our friends."
"And what of the allies your family had before the fall, boy?!" Mulciber spat as he took Rookwood's place. The former Master Unspeakable easily limped away and settled on a conjured high-backed chair to watch the proceedings. "You would spit on us in a heartbeat for the whelp Potter and his harem of whores, one of whom already betrayed you?"
Theo swallowed down his fear and his thoughts as he looked at Mulciber. His gaze dared travel to his parents and uncle, who shook their heads before a fist rolled Theo's head around once or twice as blood dribbled from his nose from the vicious blows.
"Don't look to them for answers, boy!" Mulciber demanded as he pulled Theo's head back to look him in the eye, just as he had with his father. "I want your answer! I want to hear what you think. I want to know if you think you know better than you parents, filthy traitors though they might have become because of you. Come on, boy! Speak your mind!"
Theo was silent for a time as he contemplated what he really thought of the situation. On one hand, he could probably save his family at the cost of betraying Harry and his friends far worse than he had been. Sure he lost a girlfriend, though now things were better than before, but his friends would be losing their lives if he betrayed them! He couldn't do that. He looked to his family, however, and that resolve weakened. Could he really condemn his parents, his uncle, even his own goddamned sister to death just to stay loyal to his friends?
But was it really about loyalty? He didn't know the future, couldn't even, but he did know one thing: Even if his family got out of this alive, who was to say they wouldn't be killed the moment they were no longer useful? How many other families had faced the same fate? How many times had his father told him stories of families that had ended up the same way? How many purebloods did Voldemort really give a damn about when entire Houses that had lasted for hundreds or thousands of years had been wiped out by the madman's hand alone, or the hand of any man or woman he commanded?
What future would we really have with the Dark Lord in power?
The thoughts that followed chilled Theo and he screwed his eyes shut tight. There was so much to think about he wasn't sure what he should say. He knew what he wanted to say, certainly, but what should he say to keep them alive? Was that even an option at all? Everything crashed through his mind even as a fist struck him again and he dazedly looked back at Mulciber. Half-bent over from his bindings, Theo panted in pain and spit out a glob of blood on the ground before he stood as upright as he could against the pillar.
"Better friends that will help us than allies that'll kill us when we're no longer convenient and useful," Theo answered vaguely. Then again, it wasn't all that vague when the glare that morphed on his features spoke of just how much he hated the men that were currently torturing himself and his family. Mulciber let out a huff of laughter before he backed away, drew his wand, then all Theo knew was pain.
His throat cracked and scarred with every second that the pain of the cruciatus cursed pulsed through his bones, his veins, through every fiber of his being with ruthless, sadistic cruelty. A part of him, a small part, regretted his choice of answer, but it was growing. With each second the past, he hated himself for giving that answer, if only because had he answered otherwise, he probably wouldn't be in pain. When the curse finally ended, Theo slumped against the pillar, barely leaning against it as he panted and gasped at the pain that still coursed through his veins in the aftermath, and someone's scream echoed out even to the backyard. Theo couldn't tell who it had been, not in his state, but he knew he had to do something to help them.
"Looks like your son has chosen the wrong side," Mulciber sneered as he punched Theo in the gut and sent him to the ground completely, his legs splayed out, his body bent forward and his hands trapped behind the pillar. "A shame your heir is going to die."
Whatever conversation followed, Theo barely heard it past the pain that throbbed through his body and mind. All of his thrashing during the cruciatus curse had loosened his bindings just enough. Not enough to get loose completely, but enough to reach his watch. He gulped down the torment futilely as he touched his right hand to the watch on his left wrist and began to slowly turn the outside dial. He concentrated on his breathing, on the letters he needed to send, and nothing else. The pain was almost too much, but he fought through it as best he could… and when the last letter had clicked into place and the watch vibrated that he had sent the message, he laid his head back against the pillar and looked up at the Death Eaters as they cut his uncle free and dragged him in front of the family.
"Pledge all of your financial holdings to the Dark Lord or we'll kill your brother, Thaddeus," Mulciber threatened after a nod from Rookwood.
"It's his, y-yours!" Theo's father answered quickly. "Please, just don't hurt him! Don't hurt my family!"
"Pledge your family to our cause as you did once before!"
"I swear it!" Thaddeus answered quickly. "I swear, we will serve the Dark Lord no matter what!"
Mulciber grinned a dark grin, hungry and sadistic as his gaze shifted from Thaddeus, to Thomas Nott, then finally to Theo. "Swear you will force your son, torture and imperius him if that's what it takes, to betray his friends and hand Potter and everyone the whelp loves over to the Dark Lord."
"Fuck you!" Theo growled.
"Shut up, Theodore!" his mother, Brittney screeched at him again. "If you don't shut up now I'll torture you myself to make you compliant!"
Theo gasped and looked at his mother as if he had never seen her before. Something inside him quivered, twisted and snapped as he watched her and from the look in her eyes, she knew it too. Theo had felt the throb in his chest that was heartbreak before, but not like this. The mother that raised him, that taught him, that trained and loved him would truly resort to torturing him if it saved the family? Would resort to forcing him, with whatever means necessary, to betray his friends?
Theo bit his lip so hard blood poured down his pale stubble-laden chin. His own family would do this? Tears threatened to break out even as the laughter of Travers and Mulciber echoed in his ears.
"Oh would you look at that!" Mulciber cried in elation. "The boy's about to cry because mummy doesn't care what it takes for the family to survive!" Mulciber kicked Thomas to the ground, released Brittney from her bindings and gave her back her wand. "Go on then, Mrs. Nott! Teach your boy a lesson about putting family first! About putting the purity of blood, of our world, before anyone or anything else. Prove to us that you can do what you and your husband are promising!"
The startled look on her face lasted longer than she intended. They were really going to make her torture her own son to prove her loyalty, to prove her family could still serve the Dark Lord? She eyed the wand then looked to Mulciber who smirked back at her and pushed her toward her son. The look and pointed wand from Mulciber toward Thomas told Brittney it was either torture Theo, or Thomas would die.
As she looked to her son, Brittney couldn't believe she was actually contemplating using an Unforgiveable on him. Theodore was her son, her flesh and blood, and she wasn't sure she could do it even if her convictions in the past told her that she would, that she had to in order to keep her family alive. Sarah was crying nearby, begging her not to curse Theodore. Her son, however, looked up at her, the disbelief and the hurt in his gaze slowly faded as he steeled himself for far more than torture, far more than she believed he reasonably could.
"I'll never forgive you for this…" Theo whispered coldly, the steel in his voice made of the stuff the most adamant fortresses would envy. "For any of it. Never."
"I think you will, Theodore," his mother whispered as her hand trembled lightly about her wand. "After all, it's for the family; and you know the Notts have always done everything for the family... Crucio."
The scream that ripped past Theo's lips hurt more than anything. The pain that wracked his body burst into his chest and bit and cut him to pieces. Seconds past, then a minute before the curse was finally released. Tears finally escaped him as the sound of his sister's sobs rang in his ears. The tortured teenage wizard slammed his eyes shut, bashed his fists into the ground to draw all the pain away from his head and chest so he could fucking think. When he finally opened his eyes, the steel that had lingered there before was forged in flame and cherry red.
"You're not my family," he panted through the pain as his mother's eyes widened and his father made a choking noise next to him as Sarah sobbed even louder. "My mother died the moment she decided she would b better off sucking the dick of a Dark Lord and his every pet Death Eater… You fucking faithless whore."
Brittney looked away, tears running down her cheeks as Mulciber and Travers sadistically grinned. Rookwood remained impassive, at first glance. On a second look, Theo noticed Rookwood's observant gaze bored into him with unbound curiosity, as if he was a fascinating experiment the results of which would hold secrets untold. Theo shifted uncomfortably beneath that gaze even as his mother twisted her wand about to start again.
"I'll never give in," Theo cut in quickly as he looked at his mother's quivering lips and teary eyes. "I'll never serve him. I'd rather die fighting than ever help kill my friends."
Rookwood raised an eyebrow at that, but it was Mulciber who made the final a decision. A decision, Theo realized, was all due to his own convictions.
"Then you're all of no use to us," Mulciber stated simply as he put his wand to Brittney's head. "Avada Kedavra."
The strings on his mother's life were cut, and the final words Theo had ever said to her played through his mind again and again as her lifeless body hit the floor and her glassy eyes stared in shock and fear right back at him. The first flash of green had hardly registered, but the second silenced the defiant screams of his uncle as he tried to tackle Rookwood. Mulciber had cast the curse, and he intended to finish the job on all of them.
"Say goodbye to your son and daughter, Thaddeus!" the death eater cried gleefully as he pulled the man away from the pillar and put him on his knees before his children. "But don't worry. They'll be joining you just as soon as we've gotten everything we need from them. Go on, tell them everything's going to be alright."
"Sarah, Theo, listen to me!" his father snapped at his son as he looked straight at him. The sudden loosening of the ropes around him made Theo's eyes widen as he gazed into his father's eyes. Wandless unbinding, his father had been teaching him that for some time and he'd used this final chance to give his children even a shred of a chance to live. "Take care of one another, alright? It's going to be okay. You can start over… Break our curse and cut the knot… Do you both understand?"
"Daddy… Daddy please don't go," Sarah begged of him as she fell to the ground, her ropes seemingly as tight as ever. "Please don't…"
"I'm sorry, Sweetheart," Thaddeus said with a solemn smile as he looked to his daughter. "But it's my time to go… and Theo's going to take care of you, alright? Be strong, okay?" As Sarah devolved into a mess of tears, their father looked back to Theo and the young wizard could never have been prouder of the man about to give his life for them. "Take care of your sister… And Teddy?"
"I'm proud of you, Teddy."
"Avada Kedavra!" For the third time in as many minutes, Sarah and Theo watched a member of their family crumple to the ground, killed once again by the undeniable unforgiveable of one Grayson Mulciber. "Usually I'd toy with them a little but the look on your face is priceless enough to satisfy my twisted sense of humor, boy," Mulciber continued with hardly a care as he kicked Thaddeus' body out of the way and stepped closer to Theo, his wand glowing ivory with the light of the imperius curse.
"Now, I know he probably dropped you a hint on how to get away and the like, but I need something very important from you… You can write a quick contract of your own free will signing over your family assets to Avery or Lucius Malfoy or some other well-respected member of society… Or I can imperius you and force you to do it." Mulciber's smile turned wicked as the light on the tip of his wand twisted itself into a blood red as he slid over to Sarah and gently traced the tip along her cheek. "Or if you refuse and resist those options… we can always carve your parents' and uncle's names into your sister until you decide to cooperate. Your choice."
Ever since he witnessed his father give his life for them, sacrifice himself for his family, Theo knew there was no other choice for himself. It was up to him to take care of Sarah now, to take care of the family and break the curse that had followed them for generations too many. Even as Mulciber made his offer, Theo already had a plan in motion. He'd had it since being tortured but now he could actually do something about it. With a slow shake of his head, Theo finally spoke.
"I'll give you what you need."
"Teddy, no!" Sarah cut in quickly. "You can't give into them!"
"Oh, now you go spoiling my fun!" Mulciber pouted as he pulled his wand away from Sarah, a long cut left on her cheek from the action as he approached Theo again. "Oh well, I can still have fun after you've given us what we need."
"Oh… I think I'll be the one having fun."
Those were the last words Theo offered the Death Eater. With a thrust of his hands, lightning arced across Mulciber's body and to both of his friends as the young wizard poured as much power as he could into the surprise attack. Their screams echoed across the backyard and Theo roared over them in rage as he finally stood up. He was in spell creation for a reason, and he had a taken ages to find a way to make a lightning enchantment for security. That had been the first step of his endeavours, lightning as raw assault power.
Breathing heavy, Theo summoned all of his family's wands from the side using his mother's dropped wand, cut Sarah's bonds and pulled her away as a spell rushed over their heads and blasted the pillar to bits all around them. "Time to go, Sarah, run! Get to the floo and the foyer!"
"Betrayed by my own sister," Adrian breathed past bloody lips. "I should have expected as much after Amelia warned me."
"You should have listened to me when you had the chance!" Alecto screamed as she smacked him again. Her silver arm glistened with light and blood as she beat her own brother. "I offered you every opportunity to help us bring the world back to glory and what did you do? You refused! You threw it right back in my face!"
"And look where all of that false glory got Amycus!" Adrian bellowed right back. "Look where it got our parents, our cousins! They're all dead and buried! Dammit Alecto, you're smarter than this!" The sound of metal on flesh echoed through the room again and Hestia and Flora both flinched, as did their mother. They had scene Alecto riled, maddened with grief and full of fury before, but never like this. Adrian, despite all of his pain, merely spit out the broken teeth, rolled his jaw and looked at his sister.
"Look where it got you, Alecto," the man spat as blood sprayed from his lips. "Your arm is gone, your body scarred by cursed fire, our brother is dead. Look what following Voldemort is getting you! You're torturing me and putting everything we have at risk."
"This is what dealing with Potter got me, got us, not Voldemort!" Alecto yowled before she glared at her nieces. "The little sluts you call daughters got us involved with him! You know as well as I do, you would have never tried to turn us all away from the Dark Lord if it weren't for Potter!"
As Alecto raised her silver arm to smack Hestia, Flora raised her arm and intercepted the blow, caught it in her hand even as her wrist buckled. Her arm nearly snapped from the impact but the implacable girl stared defiantly at her aunt. Alecto was a far cry from the surly but beautiful blonde she had been mere months ago. Her silver arm went without a sleeve in her robes, and one could clearly tell she had a brush with certain cursed fire. Her neck all the way up to her lower jaw bore clear signs of cursed burn marks, and the story was it covered her entire left side and most of her chest and back. Rumor had it that a number of certain members of pureblood society bore similar marks, though nobody could prove it since they had been mysteriously quiet, absent, or on vacation for some time.
Flora, however, glowered at her aunt without fear. "You won't touch my sister, Aunt Alecto. Or what Harry did to you will be child's play compared to what I'll put you through."
Alecto sniffed haughtily and removed her arm from Flora's grip as if she were a filthy beggar seeking coin. "Already so willing to defend that boy. I suppose you're both too far-gone to save at this point… Fine!"
Alecto whirled about, her wand suddenly in her hand as she pointed it toward Hestia with all the power of a goddess of death. "Then we'll just have to loosen your minds a bit to change that. Silencio! Crucio!"
Before any of the Carrow family could get in the way, Hestia had already been struck silent before the pain set in. She flailed, her arms whacked across her mother as she tried to hold her daughter down. Flora made to rush her aunt but Jugson blasted her across the room with a smirk. Flora gasped, her chest crushed beneath the weight of an elephant before the man lifted his wand and watched as Hestia continued to silent scream.
"It makes it so much easier when they're quiet," Alecto nearly moaned with delight as she released the curse. Adrian was being held back by two other Death Eaters, and was worse for wear at that. Even so, the Dark Carrow eyed her nieces once again before her gaze settled on her brother. "A deal, Adrian. I gain control of the family… and your daughters live. If I don't gain control… You all die and I take it by force anyway."
"You're mad, Alecto," Adrian growled. "I'm not handing control over to your fucking false messiah."
"Of course, I could always go back to option one," sneered the witch as she aimed at Flora this time. "How long do you think her mind will last? Five minutes? Ten?"
"Alecto, don't! As your Head of House I demand-"
Adrian never got to finish the sentence. Jugson again cast his suffocation spell before Alecto turned on Flora. She moved toward the girl with glee, smirking as she wound up and slammed her leg into the girls gut once, twice, five times before she finally pointed her wand and uttered that most hated curse. Flora's back arched in a silent scream at first, unwilling to give her aunt the satisfaction until the damn burst. Her screams didn't echo past the room, but she knew soon they would.
When she was finally released of the curse, Flora whined only a moment as she looked to her aunt. "I'll beat you to death with that arm of yours, bitch. I swear it."
"Ohhh so feisty! Such a shame I'm going to kill you, Flora," Alecto cooed as she stroked her niece's chin. Flora tried to bite the flesh and blood hand that dared touch her before she was kicked again. Alecto laughed mockingly at her entire family before she turned back to her brother. "You know, it's going to be so much easier with all of you dead anyway… Then I can start the Carrows anew under a Lord that truly appreciates us. Goodbye, Adrian… I'll see you in the next life."
Her silver arm latched onto the throat of her brother as he let out a strangled gargle. His gaze locked on his sister, this traitor to his own flesh and blood not begging for mercy, as she expected, but with defiance. He tried gasp out any command he could to his daughters and wife, but Alecto's grip was too tight, and soon he knew nothing at all. With a mighty heave, Alecto tore Adrian's head clean from his body and held it up as if she were Hamlet, contemplating the woes of life, death, murder and insanity.
As Alecto tossed their father's head onto the floor, Flora and Hestia froze in shock. Hestia's voice had been given back to her, and when their mother was pulled from her seat she begged her aunt for mercy only to be shot with the same spell her sister had been not so long ago. Barely breathing, the Carrow twins watched as their mother begged for mercy until Alecto again tore a head clean from the body with the immense strength her fiendish silver arm offered her.
Hestia made to attack before Jugson slapped her across the face and sent her sprawling to the floor. Alecto panted with exertion and passion, bloodlust that she had never known before coursed through her veins as she stared upon the blood of her family slipping through her silver fingers. Hestia might be full of rage, but fear drove her to stay back as Flora tried to stand and face her aunt head on without a wand, but with a rather large shard of glass in her hand.
"Time to die, bitch."
"Funny, I was about to say the same thing about you," Alecto said. Before Flora even got three steps, green light flooded the room and the girl fell to the ground. The glass in her hand shattered before she had even hit the ground, and Hestia's scream of heartbreak as she watched her sister die could be heard throughout the manor. Frozen in fear, Hestia looked up to her aunt, before the woman smirked. "Jugson… you may have your way with her. Kill her when you're done, will you? I'm going to make sure the goblins can get our Lord his funds."
As Jugson lecherously licked his lips and advanced on Hestia, she knew the end had come. In fact, she was about to choose her own end as she stuffed her hand in her pocket and drew a knife. Suicide was better than rape and she certainly would go to hell one way or another, if only to see her sister again. As she clicked the knife open and made to slash her own throat explosions burst all across the room. Smoke and screams coursed throughout the entire parlor and before anyone could tell otherwise, Flora had rushed to her sister and grabbed her hands.
"Time to go, Hes."
"No time," the girl said as she grabbed her parents' wands and tossed Hestia her own. "Let's just say, people should watch more closely when glass shatters."
"You miserable whores!" Alecto gasped as she raised her wand, half of her side bloody and her ribs showing through. "I'm going to kill you."
"Not if we kill you first."
Hestia's cold, deadly proclamation was followed by such a volley of spells from the twins that Alecto never knew what hit her first. The twins dragged their aunt into the hallway, sealed the door with the Death Eaters behind it then turned on the object of all their pure hatred and desire for revenge. Piercing and cutting hexes hacked and slashed at Alecto's body, but never killed her. Instead, the pair of witches stood over their aunt for a few moments making sure she knew the error of her ways. After that, Hestia flourished her wand in a great downward slash and the silver arm popped from its socket. Alecto screamed, gasped for breath as Flora picked up the arm and smirked.
"I told you I was going to beat to death with your own arm Aunt Alecto…" Flora's smirk twisted into a dastardly hungry Cheshire grin, where no humor existed, but all the malevolence of a vengeful goddess dwelled. "Looks like I was right, you insane bitch."
The ferocity that Flora attacked her aunt with was something not even she or her sister expected. But as the young woman smashed the silver limb into her aunt again and again, relentless in her assault, ruthless in every single swing, neither twin wanted it to stop. The screams and cries of their aunt, the suffering of the whore that had torn their family, their very lives apart was going to pay for everything she had done. Covered in blood and gore, Flora swung one last time and watched as Alecto's horrified eyes, her battered face and lips, her broken nose and crushed ears were finally flattened beneath the titanic blow which silenced her last terrified scream.
Panting with exertion, grief, anger and rage, Flora turned to see her sister with a look she knew was mirrored on her own. Satisfaction in the face overwhelming anguish and agony at losing their parents. Flora reached out and without hesitation Hestia took it, even rubbed her thumb on the back of her sister's hand before they embraced in a hug.
"It's over, Hes," Flora sniffed as she held her sister tightly. "We're all that's left."
"But at least we have each-other," Hestia sobbed lightly before she wiped her eyes and glared at the door, where blasts of magic already pounded against it. "How many do you want to take with us?"
Flora grinned her Cheshire grin once again, and it was equally matched in her sister's as they raised their wands and spoke in eerie unison when the wall blasted upon to their left.
"All of them."
***The House of Wolves***
Peace at the Ossuary didn't last as long as its occupants and visitors had hoped. What had started as an informal get together planned by friends had quickly evolved into a pool party as their families invited themselves along to settle family business, alliances and trade whatever news and assets they could. This get together had been planned weeks in advance and everyone would be attending, or so they had thought.
Of course, the morning had a rough start to begin with. Amelia had been called to handle a classified event that the messenger patronus from Kingsley had sounded supremely shaken by. She had left as swiftly as possible upon hearing the code phrase used and ordered Harry, Susan and Bill to take extreme precautions, as well as to make sure their guests set to arrive later that morning and afternoon were all safe.
Harry and Susan had stood anxiously by the floo in the foyer, awaiting the arrival of either a stressed but victorious Amelia or their friends and girlfriends alike. The Tonks family was the first to arrive and they were happily greeted by the teens, especially Tonks who quickly pulled her young lovers aside for a few moments of private greeting. As soon as they had been reacquainted the three suffered ribbing from Bill, who had been staying at the Ossuary for a few weeks now, as well as Andromeda and Ted who relentless in their teasing until more guests arrived.
The Delacours and Greengrasses flashed into room with a burst of green flames, followed shortly by the Abbott and Longbottom families. Hermione and her parents arrived with Blaise and Isabella, and everyone was glad to talk and reacquaint themselves again after some time apart. Of course, the more guests that arrived, the clearer it was that a number of their closest friends were missing. Even Su Li had arrived and was expectantly waiting with Susan, Fleur, Harry, Daphne and Tonks near the floo so she could mob her boyfriend as soon as he arrived. The tension that came with waiting, however, only deepened as Harry's watch glowed and vibrated as it warmed against his flesh. Neville and Blaise, waiting in the main hall, felt their own watches react to a message.
As one, all three boys seemed to still as they read the message.
"What is it?" Su pressed, clearly aware of what the watches did. "What's Theo saying?"
Harry swallowed down what fear jolted through his body as he looked to Su, then his girlfriends, and finally to the rest of their gathered friends. When Neville and Blaise nodded in confirmation, Harry fought past the lump in his throat. "'S.O.S. AZ-DE, Davis House.'"
A general quiet settled on the entire house as even the adults heard the message. Tonks, however, was the first to react. "Please don't tell me that means what I think it means. Because if it does then-"
Before Tonks could even finish, five silvery wolves rushed into the foyer and stood adamantly before the House of Wolves.
"We're under attack from Azkaban Escapees! Hurry!"
All throughout the Ossuary the words echoed. Expressions morphed into fear and doubt, others into surprise, horror even, while others turned to rage, and a desire to protect. One look at each of her girlfriends and boyfriend told Tonks that no matter what plan was made, those four would be going with her to help rescue Tracey, her family and anyone else that might be there. The only way to stop them would be to stun them right then and there, but with wands being drawn, that possibility had been tossed out the window.
"We have to call the Aurors!" Henry Abbott spoke up from the hall. "We can't handle this on our own."
"We can and we will," Susan nearly snarled back as her wand blazed with red and green magic. "Because we're not leaving Tracey and her family to-"
A sudden silver flash from beside her cut Susan off as Tonks looked at the large wolf before her. "Amelia, Azkaban Escapees are attacking Davis House. Heading there now with the Wolves and others. Deploy Strike Team Alpha ASAP before we have a FUBAR situation on our hands… The Warrior's Retinue would be a welcome addition."
As the wolf howled away, Harry summoned his satchel from his room and strapped it on as quickly as possible. Turvy popped in with Andromeda's own as the healer and her Husband were already preparing to go with their daughter. When their eyes met, the Healer and Apprentice nodded even as Hannah joined Harry. Assistant she might be, but she had been studying long hours in the summer to make up for lost time.
"Anyone else joining us?" Harry asked as Daphne activated the floo and held it open.
"We're with you," Blaise said as he and Neville stepped forward.
"We all are," Hermione jumped in with Su, George, Fred, Cedric and Luna as they drew their wands.
"As am I," Augusta stated with a fire in her eyes. "If who I think is there really is, then I intend to collect a debt sixteen years in the making."
Augusta was not the only adult to offer, because soon Cyrus, Henry, and Apolline had joined her, each of them sporting grim but determined expression. Harry almost felt sorry for the Death Eaters as fire coiled about Apolline's hand and Cyrus' wand seemed to have caught itself in a vortex of blinding white. Cyrus' neighbors, long-time friends were being attacked, and he wasn't about to let them down. Arguments had barely started with Gabrielle and Astoria before they were quickly silenced by their parents as everyone prepared to move out.
"You're not going anywhere without me," Bill said as he adjusted his own satchel, his wand glowed bronze as he joined the rest of them. "We go together or not at all. Dora and I take point while Healers take the rear. Fred, George, full license to test anything you've got on the Death Eaters. You're behind Dora and I. Cedric, Fleur, you're with the healers. Everyone else, you stay in the middle and follow Dora's order's, got it?"
When a round of nods and quick goodbyes had been made, the entire troop rushed through the floo at a run. Not a one of them missed a step on exit, and even when they came out in the foyer, chaos could already be heard throughout the House. When Harry stepped through with Daphne, she was already moving toward the front of the group.
"One fight in the back, two upstairs," Cyrus growled as he listened to the house. Years of visiting had made him and Daphne intimate with the place. "We'll have to split up."
"Daphne, you're my guide through the manor upstairs," Dora commanded with impunity. "Augusta, Appolline, you're with me. Bill, Fred, George, Henry, you're with Cyrus to find the other upstairs fight. Susan, do you think you know the place well enough?"
"Good, lead Ted, Su, Fleur, Blaise and Neville to the fight in the back."
"What about us?" Harry said, his eyes ablaze with the desire to help as everyone else split into groups.
"You, Hannah and Andromeda will stay here with Cedric, Hermione and Luna," Dora ordered sternly. "You secure our exit. We'll send a patronus if we need healing. Everyone clear?"
A resounding round "Clear" made its way through the hall. Without even a backward glance, the teams rushed out of the hall as they sought out the ongoing fights in the house. Harry fumed in place, eager to go help but knew his place was waiting. Never before had it been so hard to stay in one place and not do anything to help. Being a Shield of the House of Black required it, it was necessary, and if they lost a healer in a firefight things could get supremely ugly. The screams, roars, and rumble of spells shook Harry to his core, and that was even before he noticed a thin veil of smoke in the ceiling.
"They've already set fire to the house," he observed in as strong a voice as his fear for his friends and family would allow.
"I'm not so sure it was the Death Eaters," Andromeda answered him as she too looked on alert and ready to rush to the aid of others. "They usually only set fire when they were outside after they had already sealed everyone else in."
"Smoking the enemy out, or keeping them blocked in one place or out of wherever the family is holed up," Hermione noted with an analytical gaze. "They're still alive, Harry. Theo and Tracey are still alive, and so are their families. They're fighting."
"Easier said than belie-"
The hallway splintered and cracked as an explosion racked the house. A hole blasted its way inward even as Cedric, Hermione and Luna held up shields to deflect the worst of it away from the healers and the exit. Spells cascaded through it, screams and yells of fury echoed beyond them seconds later as the fight from the backyard drew closer. Everyone in the hall tensed, their wands radiating magic as shadows enveloped their feet.
The last second warning from Ted was all they heard before the house was torn asunder again. Great chunks of the walls were torn apart as fire flashed through the house, greedily snapping oxygen and as smoke, dust and debris flooded the area. Shields were raised against the explosion and Luna screamed but held fast as she caught a splinter in her side from the wild ricochet of debris all about them.
"Time to die little Nott!"
Theo's cry of despair was matched equally by the scream of shock from Su as he leaped into the path of a yellow curse. His stomach burst with blood as a rough, ragged line was drawn across it on impact. Lightning burst across the walls, flooded the hallways with blue arcs of electricity that sent everyone running even as Theo fell. He flew to the ground just inside the foyer and with his red fall came the counter attack. Hermione rushed in, her wand blazing with spells as Cedric backed her up and forced the Death Eaters to retreat. They had not expected such a rescue force, and now they paid the price.
Su and Sarah rushed to Theo's side, their panicked cries echoed by Harry's frantic spells as he cast shields all about them with Luna and Hannah's help. Andromeda was already casting spells at the broken and bloody young man on the ground, and Harry shortly joined her as he opened his satchel and prepared for the worst.
"He's unresponsive," Andi spoke quickly as she cast charms. "Blood pressure falling rapidly. Dark cutting curse across the stomach. Internal damage… ruptured organs. We need to keep him conscious."
Harry nodded, his hands already fumbling around potions as he forced them down Theo's throat. Sarah and Su's sobbing throbbed in his ears as the healers desperately tried to save his life. Hannah, instead of getting in Harry and Andromeda's way, was healing Luna and attempting to diagnose Sarah and Su when the girls even managed to sit still. As another potion passed Theo's lips, the teens looked more and more desperate at their friend.
"Come on Theo, wake up! Wake up you smartass! Open your eyes and look at us!" Harry berated the quiet form of his friend as he attempted to get a response from Theo. But his eyes didn't open, and the longer it lasted, the louder the sobs grew in Harry's ears. "Come on, Theo, do it for Sarah. For Su! They still need you. We still need you. Wake up! Wake up and fight, dammit!"
Harry set his wand aside and focused on the desire to see his friend alive, to see his friend awake and safe and healed. It was only for emergencies and Harry had never gone this far with wandless healing, but there was a first time for everything. He called upon his magic and his hands instantly were shrouded in silver mist as he pressed his hands to the wound. His constant muttering of his friend, every imprecation and urgent plea he could make passed Harry's lips as his magic surged into Theo in an attempt to heal him, while blood oozed passed his fingers and drenched his hands in red. Andromeda's wand worked in tandem, identifying the curse as quickly as possible after she had sewed it shut and worked on the damaged teen before her.
Seconds past, then a minute, then to before the sobs grew unbearable in Harry's ears. Just as he was about to tell them to stop, Theo's eyes fluttered open and he looked up at all of them. "Sarah?"
A collective gasp of relief left the group as Sarah took her brother's hand as Su did the same on the other. "I'm here, big brother. I'm right here for my Teddy Bear."
"Don't call me-"
Theo never got to finish the sentence as he coughed up some blood before Andromeda waved her wand and cleared it as she continued healing him. "Save your strength, Theodore," the healer advised. "Don't try to move or talk. You've done enough today."
The boy nodded slowly as he looked over to his other hand, then up at Su. "Beautiful."
Su let out a sobbing laugh as she kissed his hand and looked back at him, his blue eyes matching her forest green in intensity. "Shhh, save it for later you noble prat."
Theo nodded again and looked to the silver hands over his gut, the magic that ran through him familiar and comforting as Harry did his best to save his friend while Andromeda guided the excess to aid her own efforts with counter curses and regenerative spells. The teens' gazes met, and Theo managed a small, bloody smile as he took as deep a breath as he could. "Git."
"Prat," Harry choked out briefly as he continued to focus. "Stop talking and let us heal you. Just keep breathing and stay awake, you hear me?"
Theo nodded before he looked to the ceiling, the smoke even thicker before until his eyes widened. "Carrows! Tracey!"
"The Carrows are here?" Hannah spoke up quickly.
"Last we saw them, Alecto, Jugson and two others were dragging them upstairs," Sarah clarified quickly as she put a hand briefly over her brother's mouth to keep him from speaking. "Tracey and her family went with Junior and… and…."
"And who, Sarah?" Hannah prodded gently as she offered the girl a calming draught. Sarah downed the vial in a single gulp before she collected herself completely.
"The Lestranges and Dolohov. We barely escaped Rookwood, Travers and Mul-Mulciber…" Tears threatened to overcome the girl as she held Theo's hand in both of her own. "M-Mulciber k-killed mommy and daddy, and Uncle Tommy."
If Harry wasn't so focused on keeping his friend alive and supplying extra magic for Andromeda to work her spells with, he would have cursed up a storm. Another set of orphans made, and it had barely been a month since the Third Task. Nameless was moving far more quickly than anyone thought. There had to be a reason but those distracting thoughts were thrust aside as Harry snapped back to attention as the silver around his hands nearly faded until it glowed with renewed vigor.
Before anyone could say another word, Amelia thundered through the floo, Kingsley, Rufus, Dawlish and Proudfoot behind her. A second later, Alastor, Minerva, Flitwick and Poppy came through with wands drawn and expressions grim.
"Status?" Poppy stated quickly as she approached the mass of teens and Andromeda.
"Stable, but badly wounded. Dark magic hit him hard across his lower abdomen, internal damage has been slowed thanks to Harry's support and my countermeasures," Andromeda snapped off instantly. "He'll need proper care in a safe location for at least a week, likely two."
"We'll settle that later," Poppy answered as she looked to Harry and winked proudly at him. "Opposition?"
"Death Eaters," Sarah answered. She quickly explained to the newcomers what she had to the other moments ago, and Hermione filled them in on the current situation and who was pursuing whom.
"Dawlish, Proudfoot, Rufus, support the lower battle." Instantly the three men sped past, their wands blazing with prepared magic as Amelia looked to Alastor. "Your choice, Warrior."
"We'll cover the Davises and Dora's team," Alastor said as he stomped toward the stairs, Flitwick and McGonagall in tow. "You help the Carrows and your beau's team."
"Good." Amelia turned back to the healers, and grim expression on her lips as she set a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Well get them out. All of you keep the way out clear and our boy alive."
"Yes mum," Harry answered without hesitation. As much as he wanted to go help, he knew Tracey and the others were in good hands. All he could do as Amelia rushed away with Kingsley was pray, even if the second heartbroken scream the manor had been visited by that day echoed in his ears.
Dora had led her team as swiftly as possible upstairs. Daphne was better than any hunting dog, her instincts taking her through the manor with the pace of a trained huntress. Halfway through, Daphne wavered in the light for a moment as if she wasn't there until her ghostly shaped winked back at Dora. Whatever family magic Daphne was using, it would keep her undetected as she moved to find her girlfriend and her family to rescue them safely.
As the house rumbled beneath her feet and indistinct shouts became clear, Dora hoped that wherever that explosion was it hadn't killed anyone she cared about as they made their final approach. The smoke was thicker here than in the foyer, and everyone wrapped a bubblehead charm around their head as they advanced. The clean air made a difference, but it only bode ill as they heard an inferno closing in.
"Hold," Daphne's voice whispered with a ghostly quality in Dora's ear. "Four still inside, one outside, possibly unconscious."
"I sense it too," Apolline murmured as fire coiled in her hand. "Who's using Incendio like a flamethrower?"
"Tracey's dad," Daphne whispered as she vanished briefly. Dora cursed, ready to rush after her before Daphne reappeared on the other side of the doorway a moment later. "It's the Lestranges and Junior, but Dolohov is missing. He must be the one outside."
"They're here?" Augusta breathed, her voice full of rage. "Finally, I'll show them what it means to be driven insane with pain."
"No revenge, Augusta!" Dora snapped fiercely at the riled woman. "We're here to get Tracey and her family out alive. Once we get them to the foyer you can kill everyone you like, but we need to save the Davises."
Augusta bristled before she let out a deep huff as the light of her wand shifted from red to sickly yellow. "Fine, we move now."
"Two on the left, two on the right, all of them pinned down by fire and spells," Daphne illuminated briefly, her wand already glowing pink and white.
"Apolline, Augusta, left, Daph, you and me right," Dora ordered as she bright her wand to bear. "Ready… Go!"
The four women stormed into the room. Blue fire joined orange as Apolline screeched in fury. Augusta's pale yellows rocketed through the room, narrowly missing the married Lestranges as they dodged away from spells from Tracey and her mother. Rabastan noticed just in time, but I was Junior who cast a shield that kept spells at bay as the two men growled in rage at being cornered by Daphne and Dora's onslaught of cutting, piercing, and bludgeoning spells. The room devolved into chaos as spells were flung every which way and fire roared throughout the room.
Dora pushed Daphne away from a killing curse from Rabastan and fired back her own ribbon cutter. The purple ribbon sliced through the air and she watched in satisfaction as the man's shoulder was gouged down to the bone. A roar of fury escaped him, but it was the mad cackle of Bellatrix that brought down the roof.
Another massive explosion rocked the house and everyone was sent sprawling to the floor. Bellatrix cackled into the afternoon sun as she blasted holes in the house again and again. With each spell the groaning of the house increased, the fires leaped up, and everyone feared the falling debris as it washed throughout every room. Junior banished Daphne and Tonks even further away from them into another wall before the death eaters began to run past them, casting spells all the while to try and kill Augusta and Apolline who were in hot pursuit.
"Tracey!" Daphne screamed as she pushed flotsam and jetsam off of herself and rushed into the room. "Trace, it's me and Dora! We got your message!"
"Daphne!" The cry of relief nearly brought tears to the brunette's eyes as the blonde stepped out of her destroyed bedroom. Helen was still half draped over her daughter's shoulders, and Richard stood unsteadily as his arms bled and his hands shook. Third Degree burns marred the man's arms for holding up the spell so long and powerfully, but it had done the job. Daphne raced forward to hug Tracey and Dora restrained herself from doing the same as she secured the room and looked to Richard.
"How'd they get in?"
"Alecto betrayed us. We were going to meet with the Notts and Carrows to solidify defection plans. I was never marked but I gave information in the last war," Richard admitted sorrowfully. "They had us trussed up before we could stop them. It's only thanks to my daughter that we're alive. My smart, powerful beautiful daughter is the real hero here."
"That's why I date her, sir," Dora answered him with a wink to Tracey. The blonde winked back as Richard let out a grin briefly before the reality of their situation set in as they heard Apolline and Augusta screech and scream in rage. Dora spun about, her wand at the ready as her instincts honed by training with Alastor and Amelia urged her to hunt. "They need back up. We need to go, now."
"But we just escaped-"
"I'm with you, Dora," Tracey spoke up suddenly as she cut off her father. "Those bastards and bitch need to be put down.
Richard looked to Tracey and seemed like he was going to say no before he nodded. "It's the least we can do. Let's hurry, my pain relief potion won't last much longer with these burns after the cruciatus."
"Good thing we've got a healer for a boyfriend with us then," Daphne chimed after she gave Tracey a peck on the lips. "Time to move!"
Dora gave them all a nod before she checked the hall. As swiftly as she could allow herself, the young auror moved out with Daphne covering Tracey and Helen as Richard brought up the rear. It only took a few moments to find Augusta and Apolline in a stalemate with the Lestranges and Junior further down the hall, a hall that, for all intents and purposes, wasn't much of a hall anymore. Water spewed out of broken pipes, fires raged down the entire length and smoke and steam obstructed everyone, even when it was used to attack one side or the other. You could barely tell where anyone was except for the flash of a wand as it cast a spell, something that, no doubt, Junior had thought up during Bellatrix's spree of chaos and destruction.
The shattering of glass was almost missed amongst the chaos. Everyone thought I was just another missed spell, but the roar of rage from Richard signaled that whoever had been outside had finally climbed back inside. Tracey and Helen turned to watch the fight and help however they could as Dora and Daphne advanced to help Augusta and Apolline. Dolohov snapped his wand left and right, deflected everything Richard threw at him before with a single swing a dark purple flame cut Richard cleanly in two from shoulder to hip.
Tracey and Helen froze at the sight of their father and husband dying. The top half of Richard's body gasped and quaked, looked into the eyes of his wife and daughter and reached out to them before the hand fell limp and blood soaked the floor beneath them. Before either could cast a single spell, Dolohov blasted both women down the hall, past their rescuers and followed with a sudden magical leap. As he landed near them, Dolohov ripped Helen from the ground by her hair and held his wand to her throat as everyone in the hall stopped firing.
"You cast a single spell and the bitch dies, then her daughter," Dolohov crowed sadistically as blood ran down one side of his face. In fact, most of his black and white prison robes were streaked with more blood than grime at this point. Frozen in the hallway, Tracey dared not move even as she tried to think of an answer, a spell, anything that would save her mother from Dolohov.
"Well, I suppose two out of three will have to do…" Dolohov drawled with a dark smirk as he moved his wand from Helen's throat to her chest. "Besides, I think my Lord will want to handle Potter's little sluts himself… Say goodbye to mummy, Tracey."
Before another word could be said, Dolohov ripped his wand upward, and in doing so literally tore Helen apart as purple flames clawed and gouged everything from the waist up as it was flung all over the walls, the floor, and her own daughter. Tracey's eyes were wide as she watched her mother fall to the floor, torn apart by vicious, dark magic. No, not by magic. By Dolohov! By the monster that had killed her father! Covered in blood and shaking, a scream tore past Tracey's lips as she stood up.
The magic rumbled through the entire house as it came under her complete control, wards and all. Suddenly the air felt oppressive, as if the very magic of the world was forcing them all to stay within. There was no escape by apparition, and the Death Eater's eyes went wide as the blond covered in blood went deadly still, her eyes full of fury, of rage, of despair and anguish and a flame-ridden hunger they didn't think possible as she pointed her wand toward them. There was only one answer to all of this. One answer to everything that had happened today.
The frantic search through the upper levels took less time than Bill had thought it would. Cyrus had led them down the hallways with not a single slow step and barely stopped, if only to get a feeling for where the shouts were coming from. Dora had gone left with her team while his own had gone right, and Bill prayed they were doing okay. As his team reached the end of one hallway before a turn into an obviously additional section to the manor, a sight before them unlike anything half of them had scene before lay on the floor. The remains of a Death Eater, and whom Bill surmised used to be Alecto Carrow, laid battered, beaten and broken, a silver arm buried into the skull, the hand adjusted to throw a defiant middle finger in the air.
"Ohhh I like their style," Fred practically purred at the sight.
"Get your hard on later, Fred, we've got a better looking pair of twins to find," George cut in as Bill knelt down and examined the corpse.
"Alecto?" Cyrus asked dispassionately.
"Yes." Bill stood quickly and looked to the empty and destroyed room next to the body. "The magical signature matches records I've seen at Gringotts… Her own nieces did this to her."
"Sweet Merlin," Henry Abbott gasped, or gagged, Bill wasn't quite sure as the man looked about ready to chuck up whatever breakfast he'd had that morning. "What would possess them to do something like this?"
"Revenge," Bill informed him quickly. "I've seen killings like this all over; from Germany to Egypt and everything in-between, both east and west. This was personal… We need to find them, they could be in more danger and be more dangerous than ever if they feel they've got nothing left to lose but each-other."
A scream echoed throughout the hall and Cyrus became invisible in an instant. A second later, he appeared in a ghostly shape near the corner. "This way! Quick! They're being pushed toward a balcony!"
The words put a fire beneath their feet as the five men rushed to the aid of their friends. As they rounded another corner, Bill saw a sight that had him almost smiling. Hestia and Flora were fighting in complete tune, their spells in such sync that he knew some sort of twin bond was at work as they defended flawlessly against the three Death Eaters that raged after them. In fact, Bill had witnessed such a thing before but never on this level. He glanced to Fred and George who grinned widely at one another before they looked to Bill.
"Shall we, William?" the pair chimed together.
"Unleash the Weasley Hounds of War," Bill said with a grin as he watched the two briefly close their eyes. Bill turned to Henry and Cyrus. "Those two are about to unleash the kind of hell we need. We're to support them, push the Death Eaters away and get Flora and Hestia out of here."
Without even waiting for a nod, Bill turned back to see Fred and George advance as they spelled the walls, ceiling and floor to do all sorts of things, on their command at least. They were preparing an exit, multiple even, and the moment they got in proper range, Fred and George unleashed hell. A firework sped forward and blasted the Death Eaters away from everyone. Hestia and Flora's gaze met that of Fred and George, and vicious smirks crossed all four of their faces. Bill, Henry and Cyrus quickly rushed in, though Cyrus vanished into a room. No doubt he man was finding a flanking positon, and Bill had no problem with that. Whenever a death eater fired an unforgivable, Bill's magic was there, altering the floor, rugs, tables and even the nearby plants into shields. Though they burned, the plants kept attacking and soon lashed out at the death eaters, driving them to the left hallway.
Just as the Death Eaters thought they could run, Cyrus blasted through the wall and sent one flying out of the window. The other two quickly rushed away, bleeding heavily as Henry joined up with Cyrus to keep the heat on them. Bill, Fred and George quickly moved to the smirking, but definitely tired Hestia and flora as they finally took a seat on a balcony.
"Timely rescue by our second favorite set of twins," Flora announced, her smirk firmly in place.
"Second favorite?" Bill wondered.
"Well, third favorite, if our first is us," Hestia teased with a rattled breath.
"The Patils are cuter than you boys, no offense," the Carrows said together.
"-fair maidens. For we-"
"-happen to agree."
"Alright, enough twin chatter," Bill interrupted the moment of levity. He glanced to Hestia and Flora before he reached into his satchel and pulled out stimulant potions. "Take them, they'll help but they might increase the pain of your wounds."
"Nothing worse than the pain we've already felt today," Flora huffed before she quickly shot the potion back then shattered the vial on the ground with a swift throw. Hestia sniffed for a moment before she took her own then shattered it as she carelessly dropped it to the floor.
"Your parents?" Bill wondered softly.
At the quiet nod from Hestia and the clenched jaw of Flora, Bill knew the dreaded truth had come out. He glanced about, curious for a moment as he thought of the house's layout. It was bigger than Bones Manor, with more additions to the house but that was primarily, Bill knew, because the Bones family owned a number of cottages they usually moved to and left the main line in the Manor. The Davises, he surmised, kept all of the family together for as long as possible, thus the expansions on the house. Previous wars had done a number on many families and the Davises were no exception with only the main line surviving and living in a mostly empty manor. Getting out was a matter of retracing their steps, but also of fighting on the way. Of course, that also meant driving the enemy right toward their own exit.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Bill told them as he set a comforting hand on their shoulders and looked into their eyes. "You got the one responsible, and we'll help you get the rest if we can. I promise… And if you need a home, we'll find you one. But for now, we need to hurry and support Henry and Cyrus. They'll be heading toward the main hall and the foyer and we'll need to put the Death Eaters down before they can escape."
As the pair of twins nodded, Jugson finally hoisted himself over the window ledge. He had barely landed on an awning over a pair of windows when Cyrus blasted him outside. As his feet hit the floor, he heard the conversation nearby and instantly began to send curses their way. Fred and George, however, had already prepared. In the chaos of their first approach they had spelled the walls, and with a twitch of his wand, George sent the carpet on the floor careening toward Jugson. The man sliced at it with magic only to be thrown right into the ceiling.
The moment he hit the floor again, however, Jugson rolled out of the way of spells and ran. Whoever these people were, they were clever, observant, and outnumbered him five to one. With every step he took, however, a spell left his wand, tossing all manner of darkness their way. Cutting spells, blasting hexes, anything he could do to slow them down. When he rounded two corners, he found himself behind two more and quickly banished them into each-other against the wall to make way.
"What are you waiting for you blasted idiots?! Run!" Jugson cried as the entire house shook from another massive explosion.
That was all Bill heard before he rounded the corner and watched Cyrus heave Henry out of the path of a spear of ice. With a growl, Cyrus got up with Henry at his side and looked to Bill. "Took you long enough, William."
"We had Jugson come back through the window. Dunno how he didn't fall and break something."
"Helen likes awnings over the windows, more shade and less heat to get in the house," Cyrus grumbled as his wand seemed to chill with magic. "Let's go, I won't have them running about this house any longer!"
Regrouped and ready, Bill led them down the hall with Cyrus' help. The Carrows twins were in the middle and Henry covered the rear with Fred and George between him and Hestia and Flora. Screams and shouted spells increased with frequency, and Bill prayed to every deity he had ever heard of one of the kids wasn't hurt. A brief flash of Susan and Harry hurt, or even dead, visited him and the curse breaker upped the pace. Cyrus caught on, set a hand on his shoulder and nodded.
"They're strong kids, William. We're all getting out of this-"
A scream the likes of which they had only heard a few times before in their lives pierced the entire house. Magic seemed to crush them in place and even the teens felt squashed in the large manor as the oppressive magic took over. Bills eyes widened in fear, as did Cyrus' as they looked to one another as Hestia murmured out something that put them all on edge.
"That sounded like me when I thought Flora…"
That was enough for Bill. He threw caution to the wind and rushed through the halls, his team following him only to see red hellfire wash through the walls and raze a path of destruction he had witnessed only thrice before. Once in Egypt, again in the forbidden forest, and finally in the memories of the Champions. Five peopled rushed out of the hall, frantic and panicked but for one laughing insane bitch and a man Bill new all too well.
"Junior," he growled. "He cast Fiendfyre."
As Junior dove away from another wave of flame, a mournful, furious howl breached the entire house. Bill's heart stopped for a brief second as a large, three headed wolf with six eyes on each head burst into the hall with a young woman following it. His heart cracked as he saw Tracey covered in blood, her hazel eyes full of fire while she controlled the fiendfyre as if it came naturally to her.
"By Morgana…" Cyrus' gasp could barely be heard over the crackle of demonic flames, but Bill heard him enough. "She's all that's left."
"Face me!" Tracey screamed as the wolf howled after the Death Eaters again. "There's no escape for you now! Face me like the dickless cowards you are! Come back here and be devoured you filthy sonsofbitches! You scum! You swine! You killed my parents! I'll kill you! I swear it! I'll kill you all! I'll burn the world to the ground and leave nothing in my wake until you're all dust in the wind!"
"Oh, ickle Tracey is angry!" Bellatrix cackled as she backed away with Jugson, his men, and the rest of the Death Eaters that had been with her. "Going to kill us little girl? Going to avenge mummy and daddy!"
"Shut your whore up or I'll do it for you, Rodulphus!" Junior barked as he shielded against another howl of flame from the fiendish wolf.
"Give her Dolohov, that'll shut the bitch up!" Rabastan countered before he ducked beneath a new volley of spellfire from the last hallway that led to the stairs.
"Surrender now or I'll let that girl kill all of you," Amelia roared from the hallway.
"Now that's more like it!" Alastor laughed somewhere out of sight.
"Fuck," Junior bit out suddenly as the fire ate away his shield. "Dolohov, Bellatrix we need an exit! I'll handle the fiendfyre!"
"They're mine, Auntie."
The cold, furious proclamation was followed by another howl as the devilish beast of flame crashed against Junior's shield and growled in diabolic hunger. Unwilling to die, let alone at the hands of a teenager, Junior did what he did best. His shield vanished and in its place a chimera made of flame leaped up to battle with the wolf. The pair rolled across the ground, biting, growling, hacking and slashing at each-other all the while the house gradually caught more aflame.
Howls and yowls echoed through the house even as Bellatrix and Dolohov blasted the entire wall next to them out. With another intricate spell, the pair created their own stairs from the destruction and rushed away from the house as fast as they could. Rodolphus, Rabastan, and Jugson were right on their heels as Junior dove after them. A second later, another explosion released Mulciber, Travers and Rookwood from the bottom floor as spellfire pursued all of them.
Before any spell could even touch Jugson's two unknown men, the wolf broke off its fight with the chimera and devour them, tore them apart even as they were burnt to death within an instant of contact. The blood that spread from their bodies was vaporized into a pink mist among the flames before the wolf turned back to its fight with the Chimera. The pair of beasts tore through the house, right through a wall and deeper in as they fought. Tracey ran to the hole in the wall, her wand blazing with power as she sent another blast of magic after the Death Eaters.
Dirt exploded into the air and the wards flared in response as the Death Eaters tried to blast their way out. Daphne and Dora rushed forward and before Tracey could transfigure a way out for herself, pulled her away kicking and screaming. Amelia, Alastor, Minerva, Flitwick, and Kingsley took up the pursuit instead as Bill and his team, along with Apolline and Augusta tried to force everyone downstairs as quickly as possible.
They had barely reached the stairs when the wolf and Chimera burst forth once again, still fighting before their fight took them outside. The entire group rushed downstairs and the downstairs team, but for the aurors in pursuit, met them. Tracey, trapped in Dora's arms had silent tears running down her cheeks as she was dragged downstairs with everyone else. Her gaze fell on Theo on the ground with Sarah, then on Hestia and Flora. Only the children had survived, and though she cried tears of anguish and fury, she could feel their pain too.
Her gaze travelled to the stairs, toward the red fire that devoured more of the house each second as she numbly whispered. "Burn it all."
The fires flared all throughout the house as her will to devour and destroy every last trace of her anguish became manifest in the demonic flames. Dora held her tighter and Daphne's soft gasp was only a prelude to the blonde and metamorph being mobbed by Daphne, Susan and Fleur, while Harry gazed into her eyes from his place healing Theo. The only male in the House of Wolves felt his heart break for his girlfriend as he clearly heard the words even among the crackling flames.
"We need to get out of here!" Poppy called out to everyone over the destruction of the House. "Theo isn't safe to Floo, and besides that it's becoming unstable with the wards being attacked and the fiendfyre."
"Out the front door, everyone, let's go! Adults, cover the teens. Healers, you know where to be," Bill ordered as he took command and got everyone moving.
With a plan of action at hand, everyone was on the move. Andromeda conjured a stretcher and Theo was quickly shifted onto it, while Harry's hands continued to glow silver as he healed his friend. In huddles the entire contingent made their way out of the house only to witness a furious battle between the Death Eaters and pursuing aurors and war veterans. Only when the wards finally cracked and the oppressive anti-apparition ward finally went down did the Death Eaters make their final escape.
A scream of futile rage from Alastor was echoed by furious sobs from Tracey as untold curses left her lips with their escape. When they reached the gates both groups merged once again; though there was little keeping them there any longer. With the apparition wards gone they could leave at any time, but none of them were all that willing to leave. Tracey, in fact, sat huddled on the ground not far from Theo and the healers as she watched her home burn to the ground, her girlfriends wrapped around her for comfort and stability. Both fiendfyre avatars had become rampant at this point, but it was the wolf that devoured the chimera before it spawned its own legion of fire and began to eat away the rest of the mansion.
Three muted pops put everyone on alert, but three books was all that appeared amidst their number, one next to each ruined family. At once everyone knew what the books were. Family Grimoires, one for the Carrows, one for the Notts, and the last was Tracey's own. By now it was obvious that this had not been an isolated event. The trap had been set here to test the Azkaban escapees, to prove their loyalty and effectiveness even after so long in Azkaban while other Death Eaters had been sent to destroy the other estates if word had not been spread of successfully retaining the employ of the families by a certain time.
"Trace," Susan whispered as she held the blonde from behind. "We have to go…"
"Not until it's gone."
Susan looked to the others for a bit of help, and it was Daphne who embraced Tracey more closely from the side to try her hand. "Trace, please. It's time to go honey."
"Not until it's gone, Daph," Tracey murmured in as stern a tone as her tears would allow. "Not until it… until they are all ash."
Understanding flickered across the brunette's face, and that of everyone that heard the quiet admission. This was more than Tracey simply losing her home. This was a funeral pyre for the parents that she had lost, and those of the others. Hestia and Flora quietly took seats between Tracey and the healers to connect the newly orphaned teens together as they watched the manor and their parents go up in flames. Old friends of the families stood silent, their sorrow at such a loss reflected in the teens that watched the flames feast on the fallen. In that moment three families had been torn apart forever, and now their children sought some closure in knowing their parents would be laid to rest.
"Here we forever commit to the pyre,
those we loved with passionate fire.
Their time in this world so short it seems,
but they live forever within our dreams.
Beyond our sight may they rest well
and in our hearts they'll always dwell.
Their names are etched in time and mind,
and beyond their passing, our lives we'll find.
So tarry not with grief, nor despair's fowl bite,
but remember them with Whispers in the Night."
The soft-spoken, solemn poem left nary a single dry eye among the contingent. As the hand of the speaker settled on her shoulder, to help her find comfort and closure, Tracey slowly gripped it tight. A moment later she gently graced the hand with a kiss even as it was bathed lightly in her tears.
"Thank you, Fleur."
"Always, mon amour."
It wasn't even an hour later that the fire had finally consumed the entire house and everything within. When the Fiendfyre looked ready to turn toward the group, Minerva, Alastor, Flitwick Amelia and Bill were quick to smother the flames. Only after Tracey, Flora, Hestia and Sarah, with Theo looking on, had erected a set of gravestones on the property did the group finally get underway.
The moment they arrived at Bones Manor, Theo and Sarah were quickly taken to a room in the guest wing along with everyone else who was injured. The healers steadily worked throughout the afternoon, the room full of the recently orphaned teens was quiet but for their breathing and the gentle bustle of the healers, apprentice and assistant. What had once been a day to celebrate and enjoy their time together turned into a day of mourning and hardship with all of their lives changed forever.
Most everyone had been able to escape with minimal damage but for a few of them. Theo was eventually fully stabilized, his wounds having been treated to the fullest extent for the time being. He would be on bed-rest and potions for at least a week. Sarah, Hestia and Flora were battered and bruised, but few cuts or heavy wounds graced their skin. They would be up and moving by the next morning even if the twins had to remain on a diluted potions regiment to deal with the aftermath of the cruciatus curse.
Tracey was littered with cuts, bruises and other wounds, though the burns caused by her own fiendfyre were the primary issue. There were only a few small ones, of course and they were treated within enough time to reduce scarring to near invisible. Those, however, were only the visible scars of the teens' encounter with the Death Eaters. Far worse had been done to them and hours after their treatment, a question that lingered on a number of minds was finally asked.
"What are we going to do?"
Tracey's question sounded loud in the quiet room, despite it being half a whisper. Andromeda, Poppy, Harry, Hannah and Amelia were all present with the orphaned teens, along with Su, Susan, Fleur, Daphne, Dora and Astoria. Any more guests and the room would have been uncomfortably full. The rest were either eating snacks, dinner, or sitting about somewhere discussing or simply dealing with the recent events.
Harry had just sat down next to Tracey and wrapped his arm about her gently when she asked the question. "You can stay with us. We've got the room, right auntie?"
"We do, however, the DMFA will want to question all of you and ensure you get your choice of where you want to stay. Allied houses will be called and questioned about taking you in first…" Amelia explained quickly. The Head of the DMLE briefly shook her head to get protocol out of mind as she sat in one of the chairs the fairly full room currently boasted. "But for now let's just focus on you. You're all welcome to stay with us for as long as you want. I'll even have the elves prepare family rooms if you don't want to stay here in the guest wing. I'm sure the other families would offer as much as well."
"Thank you Auntie," Tracey murmured as she curled gently against Harry and set her head on his shoulder. "I think I'd like to stay here, maybe even permanently."
"You're always welcome, honey," Amelia replied. Tracey's lips twitched briefly at the corners at the nickname she'd recently taken on among all of her friends, one that only her parents had used until recently.
"What about you?" the blonde pressed gently as she looked to Sarah, Theo, Hestia and Flora. "I know Theo can't really go anywhere for a few weeks. But what about after?"
Sarah and Theo shared a look, wondering what they would do before they both shrugged. "I'm not sure," Theo answered for the both of them in a slightly scratchy voice. "But we've got plenty of time to think about it. Maybe the Greengrasses so Sarah and Astoria can be closer and so we're not so much of a drain on Amelia… or Su's family."
Su grinned lightly at that. "Only because you'd want to sneak into my room at night."
"What sane bloke wouldn't?"
"Charming prat." Su smirked at him and gently kissed her boyfriend as Sarah rolled her eyes and pretended to gag. Astoria giggled next to her, excited at the possibility of Theo and Sarah staying with them, considering Sarah was her best friend. When boyfriend and girlfriend parted, the young Asian women nodded. "I think I could convince my parents if you really wanted to."
"All good choices, but you wouldn't be a drain, Theo," Amelia replied with a smile as she watched the teens come together. "You're always welcome in my home, never doubt that." The redhead's gaze turned to the Carrow twins with a genial smile. "And you, ladies?"
"We'd like to request a favor." The room went quiet as Hestia spoke, and when her eyes settled on Harry, they all had an idea of what was to come. "You couldn't protect us from our own family, at no fault of your own. But… we'd still like to be treated as family, Harry."
"What Hestia is saying is: we'd like to stay here with you, under rules of sanctuary and your house protection," Flora finished for her twin with a hopeful expression. "But only if you agree. We don't want to take your family from you by moving in all of a sudden."
Harry smiled and when he glanced to Susan, Tracey, and even Daphne to see expectant, and similarly hopeful expressions from them, he nodded. "Of course you're welcome, favor or no favor. The more redheads the merrier, right?"
"True, but we are all soulless gingers," Flora teased, which got a few chuckles and snickers from the room. "Sure you can handle four of us around you at all times?"
"Five with Bill, actually. Six if you count Dora as a sometimes soulless ginger," Harry answered lightly, glad to find a little humor after such a dark day. Harry was adequately nudged from a number of sides before they all looked to Amelia.
"What do you say, auntie?" Susan wondered aloud, her curiosity and excitement apparent despite the hardships of the day. "Ready for two more nieces?"
"I think I can handle it," Amelia said with a gentle smile as she leaned forward and set her hand on Hestia's, who was nearest to her. "I'm just glad you're all alright. Having the manor nearly full again will be a wonderful thing. I'll let the others know what's going on and have Turvy prepare rooms for you."
Just as she was about to leave, Amelia gave pause and looked to the teens with a torn expression. "Tomorrow we will need to take official statements… I know it's going to be hard, but we're all here for you."
With her departure, the teens settled into a quiet lull as they all contemplated everything. Hestia and Flora sat closer together while Tracey fought away tears for what felt like the hundredth time since she arrived at Bones Manor. She was surprised she hadn't cried herself out by then. A gentle quiet encompassed the room before Theo finally broke the ice.
"You know the last thing my father ever told us?" Everyone in the room turned to the injured slytherin as he spoke. "Break our curse and cut the knot. I'm going to do what my father asked. I'm cutting the knot and making a new world for us. Notts bow to no-one anymore, and I'll make sure we survive this war and all wars hereafter."
"I think we can all help you with that," Harry offered to a round of nods from the other teens. "Whatever you need, just ask. Friends stick together, Theo, so does family. Whatever it takes, we'll be there."
"Thanks," Theo said as Sarah smiled and nodded along with him. "But there's one thing I can't leave undone… Mulciber. He's mine. I don't care about law or anything else. I'm going to make sure Mulciber suffers before I let him die."
"Just like Alecto," Flora and Hestia echoed a moment later. "We got her, made her suffer before the end. We'll help you."
"As will I," Tracey spoke up, her voice stronger than it had been since watching her home burn to the ground. "But I need to destroy Dolohov. I don't care what it takes. I will have my vengeance on him."
"Whatever it takes," Susan assured her. The others looked shocked at the thought, but after everything they had seen today it was only natural that things change, for all of them. "The question is, what do we do now?"
"This is only the beginning," Harry announced slowly as he looked from one person to the next. "They may have struck first but we'll strike last. Whatever it takes, we'll get your revenge."
"That's it then," Dora stated as she leaned against the wall. "The Second Blood War has begun."