A/n: Written for Round 12 of QLFC. Prompt chosen: Write a TRAGIC story about NEXT GEN CHARACTERS.
Also written for the Around the Globe Challenge: Europe Edition. Location: London. Path: M. Prompt: Write about a place that has a traditional meaning to a group of people.
This story is a late birthday present for my wonderful wifey, Malhearst, who absolutely loves anything creepy and horrific! Happy birthday, Ci! Xx
A HUGE thanks to Arianna Waters, WrenWinterSong, whitetiger91 and Malhearst for all their help with writing this. xx
Beware of What You Invite Into Your Home
22 August 1993
I began to berate my brothers for being obnoxious but was distracted when I caught sight of the waterfall before me. I gasped, delighted, and walked as close to the edge of the cliff as I dared, drinking in the waterfall's magnificence.
The twins had somehow managed to convince Mum that there was a special place they wanted to bring me on my birthday. Although I had been—and still was—mighty suspicious of their motives, the peaceful sound of the water coupled with the beautiful sight made me forget my worries—including the prank the twins had pulled on me last night.
I was so taken with the sight that I wasn't paying attention to the twins until George came around and stuck his face in front of mine. Irritated, I shoved him away lightly, not finished admiring the view. A moment later, I was distracted by a yelp. I looked to the side just in time to see George bump into Fred, who was standing too close to the edge. Fred lost his footing and slipped, and before either George or I could react, he had tumbled over the edge.
Heart racing, I stumbled to the edge and peered over. I couldn't spot Fred, though, and I began to panic. Turning to George, I started to tell him that we needed to do something, only to see that both twins were squatting by the edge, watching me with grins on their faces.
I stared at them for a long moment, still processing what had just happened. Spinning around as their mockery of me sank in, I stormed back the way we had come, sliding and skidding along the dangerously slippery rocks. Of all the sick jokes they had ever pulled, this definitely took the cake!
Worse still, what if things hadn't gone according to plan? We were lucky Fred hadn't fallen over.
"You found what?" Roxanne asked, looking up from the leaf she was dissecting.
"Uncle Fred's journal," Fred said again, holding up a worn book for them to see. He flopped down on the grass, a proud grin on his face. "At least I think it is. I haven't looked yet."
Molly and Lucy shared a look before Molly said, "Let me see that."
The four cousins were spending the weekend before school at the Burrow. The girls were sitting under a tree in the garden, making flower crowns, when Fred appeared, out of breath and looking like he had been up to no good.
Fred glanced towards the house somewhat guiltily before handing the journal to Molly. Molly flipped it open and squinted at the faint traces of writing on the first page. They were barely visible, so she leafed through the book until she found something more legible, and her eyebrows shot up.
"What, what?" Roxanne asked as she and Lucy peered at the book over Molly's shoulder.
"Hey, isn't that—" Lucy began, but Molly didn't let her sister finish as she snapped the book shut.
She held it up, pressing her lips together in disapproval. "This doesn't belong to Uncle Fred."
"'Course it does," Fred said with a frown as he snatched the book from her and eyed its contents.
"That's our dad's handwriting," Lucy said, pointing at the journal.
"Not possible. I filched it from Uncle Fred and Dad's old room."
"Freddie!" Roxanne exclaimed, and the boy had the sense to look ashamed.
Lucy grabbed the book back and riffled through the pages until it fell open on a random one. All four cousins leaned over to read the two lines that were written in Percy Weasley's handwriting.
"Today is Fred's funeral. I shall bury this journal and all the memories it contains with him so he can have a good laugh wherever he is," Lucy read in a quiet voice.
The four looked at one another, speechless. Roxanne finally leaned over and turned the pages. "Nothing. This is the last one."
Molly then took the journal from her sister and flipped the pages back, looking for any other entries. There were a few random ones here and there, but the majority of it was in the same semi-smudged, barely-visible state as the writing on the first page.
"I think these parts have been hidden," Molly said. "Do you mind if I bring it home and take a closer look?"
Fred shrugged. "It's not like it's mine, so…"
Molly nodded. "I promise I'll take good care of it."
21 August 1993
I decided to turn in early tonight in preparation for my big day. Of course, when I stepped into my room, I saw that I wasn't about to have my way—as always.
The troublesome twosome, who never paid any heed to the "KEEP OUT—ESPECIALLY FRED AND GEORGE" sign on my door, were standing beside my bed with their hands behind their backs, huge grins on their faces.
When I asked if either of them had heard of something called privacy, George only shrugged and said, "Nope."
Fred then revealed the book he was hiding behind his back while George went on about having read about everything I'd done in my seven years at Hogwarts. Rolling my eyes at their idiotic escapades, I told them that it didn't belong to me.
The twins snorted. "Right," George said. "And my name isn't Fred."
I told him it wasn't, pointing at the book. "And neither is that mine."
The twins exchanged looks before Fred asked me why my name was on it.
Deciding to humour him, I opened the book to the first page, where, in what was undoubtedly my handwriting, read the words: 'Property of Percy Weasley.' I flipped through it and saw that there were indeed entries about things I had done, written in my handwriting. Laughing sarcastically, I said, "You got me. Excellent prank. Now, can you leave?"
The twins exchanged somewhat confused glances before George told me that it wasn't a prank and that they were there only to mock me. Big difference.
Suffice to say, I was unimpressed and quickly losing my patience.
The twins didn't seem to want to give in yet, though. Fred told me that they had found it in my sock drawer, but I ushered the two out without much care and shut the door in their faces. I had to admit, though, that I was rather disappointed, after all the grand pranks they'd pulled on me over the years.
Sitting down on my bed, I opened the journal and read through the entries, steadily growing concerned. Even if the twins had created it as a prank, how had they known about things I had never told anyone about?
Unnerved, I flipped to the front page and stared at my name, wondering whom the book belonged to because it sure as hell wasn't mine.
Whatever secrets were recorded in the journal were more than safe thanks to the owner's excellent spell-casting, which only served to frustrate Molly more. So, after the initial few weeks without success, she had tossed it into a drawer and forgotten all about it until she returned from Hogwarts.
When she found it again, she decided to give it another shot before returning it to Fred. Except, when she opened it to a random page, the previously smudged bits had gotten clearer and more legible. Thinking her efforts had paid off, Molly excitedly read through the short entries before snapping the book shut with the intention of showing it to her sister.
Something had caught her eye as she was closing it, however, and she opened it to the first page. To her surprise, at the very top were the words 'Property of Percy Weasley' in her father's looping cursive. Squealing in delight, she grabbed the book and raced out of her room to show Lucy her discovery.
22 August 1993
I stormed into my room and slammed the door shut, furious at the twins for always crossing the line. They couldn't leave me alone, even on my birthday! The gits!
I spotted the prank journal from the previous night and, gritting my teeth, picked it up to hurl it across the room. I didn't, though, because I didn't have the heart to.
No wonder Fred and George always made fun of me.
I flipped through the journal again as I sat on my bed. One particular entry—the very last one—caught my attention, and I opened it to that page, a shiver running down my spine as I read what was written. I instantly blamed the twins, furious, before realising that it would have been impossible for them to have written what had just happened in the journal since they weren't even back yet. Or had they planned the whole damn thing from the start? But I was sure this entry hadn't been there the previous night…
Unsure of what in the bloody hell was going on, I sat up and placed the journal before me, disgruntled but unable to tear my eyes away from the words scrawled at the very bottom of the page.
'We were lucky Fred hadn't fallen over.'
"Are you absolutely certain it's this way?" Roxanne asked for the dozenth time as they made their way through the forested area.
"Why don't you navigate, then?" Lucy snapped.
"Girls, stop it," Molly said as she stepped in between the two eleven-year-olds glaring daggers at each other. "I'm sure we're close."
"That's what you said three hours ago!" Roxanne whined.
Before Molly could reply, Fred appeared from around a tree, grinning wide. "You can thank me later."
The cousins had spent two weeks discussing the entries Molly had discovered until Fred suggested that they may as well go looking for the place mentioned in the journal to satisfy their curiosity. So they had started off one morning to find the mysterious waterfall. At first, it was all very exciting, but they got lost soon enough, and the younger two started to get cranky. Fred had offered to go look on his own, but as they ducked under the low-hanging branches, all three girls forgot their previous concerns, gasping in delight at the sight.
"It's beautiful!" Lucy said in a breathless whisper. "Dad must've been thrilled!"
"Not for long," Molly muttered as she read through the part where her uncles had pulled a prank on her dad.
"That's some drop," Fred said loudly, his voice echoing in the quiet place.
"Careful. It's slippery," Molly warned as Lucy and Roxanne joined him along the edge of the lookout to peer down.
"Whoops," Roxanne said as she pretended to fall, laughing when Lucy gasped and grabbed onto her.
"Yeesh, it's just a joke. Relax."
Lucy glared at Roxanne, who continued to laugh as she side-stepped, but this time she really did slip and grabbed onto her brother for support. Fred exclaimed in surprise, jerking towards Roxanne and nearly losing his footing in the process. Roxanne had let go of him by this point and Lucy was holding onto her as they stepped away from the edge, but Fred was still flailing his arms as he tried to regain balance.
"Are you guys OK?" Molly asked as she carefully made her way to them, cursing her choice of footwear.
The girls nodded and Fred yelled that he was fine as he followed after them. Roxanne was limping, a pained expression on her face, so Molly assumed she must have hurt her foot when she had slipped. As she joined Lucy to help Roxanne hobble over to dryer land, there was a smack sound and Fred shouted. Roxanne was the first to react; she whipped around and fell on her knees to grab her brother's arm as he clung on to the edge. Lucy and Molly joined her, and it took them a lot of slipping, sliding, and swearing to pull Fred back to safety. Once they were all well away from the edge, Fred stood up, dusted his now wet trousers, and said, "That's enough excitement for one day. We're leaving."
Everybody was too shaken up to disagree, and as they made their way back, Fred carrying his injured sister on his back, Molly eyed the last entry in the journal again—the one about Fred's funeral—and a shiver ran down her spine. A gust of wind blew past, riffling the pages, and she stared at a random entry at the very bottom of the page: 'We were lucky Fred hadn't fallen over.'
After the waterfall incident, Molly had decided that she no longer wanted anything to do with the creepy journal anymore. The longer she kept reading it, the more entries started to appear, and it troubled her greatly. No matter how many times she stowed it away in some corner of the house, it would inevitably end up somewhere noticeable, as though wanting to be read.
So she finally decided that since Fred had found it, it was his responsibility.
"I don't want it," Fred said when Molly managed to corner him and shove the journal into his hands.
"That's not my problem, is it?"
"You're the one who said you'd keep it!"
"I said I would borrow it, not keep it!"
"Well, it's your dad's journal, so it has nothing to do with me."
"You found it in Uncle Fred and your dad's room!"
"Sure, but that doesn't change the fact that it's your dad's."
The argument repeated over and over, with Fred refusing to take it back and Molly refusing to keep it. Finally fed up, she decided that she was going to get rid of it once and for all. She felt bad for throwing away something that wasn't hers, but it was making her scared and anxious, and she couldn't take it any longer.
So one day, when nobody was at home, she tossed the journal into the fireplace and watched it turn into ash, feeling an immense sense of relief.
Fred confronted her during the annual Christmas gathering at the Burrow and held up the journal—that she had watched burn with her own eyes—demanding to know what she was playing at. Molly explained what had happened, but Fred didn't seem to believe her.
"Why don't you do it, then?"
"I will. And for good, this time."
Molly and Lucy were spending the weekend before school at Fred and Roxanne's house, and after several rounds of Exploding Snap and Chess, Molly excused herself to go downstairs and get a drink of water. As she was heading back, she spotted her mother and aunt in the living room, deep in discussion.
She was climbing back up the stairs when she heard her aunt say, "I'm worried about him, Audrey. He spends hours writing in that old journal, and he refuses to let me see or even touch it."
Molly's breath caught in her throat. She raced up the stairs and back to Roxanne's room, only to find that Fred was nowhere to be seen. Ignoring the girls' curious looks, she rushed to Fred's room and threw the door open.
She gasped as she saw that he was indeed hunched over his desk, scribbling away in the journal. Rushing over, Molly grabbed the book and held it out of his reach. "You said you destroyed it!"
Fred slowly raised his eyes to meet hers, an eerie glint in them. "I did."
"Then what is this?" Molly demanded, waving the journal.
"It came back."
Inhaling sharply, Molly took one look at the weird gleam in her cousin's eyes and raced out of the room, book in hand.
She was going to put an end to the madness once and for all.
Standing on the edge of the lookout, she eyed the waterfall. It looked more dangerous than beautiful to her, now. With a determined nod, she raised the journal over her head, ready to throw it in.
There was the sound of twigs breaking behind her, and she whipped around to see Fred standing a little away, a suspicious frown on his face.
"What're you doing?" he asked.
"Saving your hide," she replied, turning back to do the deed.
In a moment Fred had tackled her to the ground, and she screamed as she struggled to escape his vice-like grip. The journal slipped out of her grasp and skidded to the very edge, where it teetered, threatening to fall over. The two remained still for a moment before Fred lunged towards the book. Except, instead of grabbing it, he flew clean over the edge.
"Fred!" Molly screeched as she scrambled to the edge. "Freddie!"
Fred's laughter echoed around her as he disappeared under the water, causing the hair on the back of her neck to stand on end. She glanced down and saw that the journal had fallen open on a random page, the words written at the very bottom having an uncanny resemblance to her own handwriting.
'I could've saved him. If only I had reacted sooner. If only Fred hadn't fallen over.'
5 May 1998
Today is Fred's funeral. I shall bury this journal and all the memories it contains with him so he can have a good laugh wherever he is.
Molly shut the journal and looked up at the marble headstone before her. Eyeing the name engraved in the stone, she inhaled deeply and leaned down to place the book against it. A gust of wind blew past, ruffling her hair and clothes and causing the journal to fall open on the first page.
She eyed the four words at the very top, written in her careful cursive: 'Property of Molly Weasley.'