Title: Several Miles from the Sun (19)
Summary: A little past midnight, the troublesome trio break into Number 12, Grimmauld Place in hopes of finding something that will aid them in the fight against Voldemort. When they come upon a spell that promises to return a Black to them, Harry won't hear objections from his friends. But what happens when the wrong Black is returned?
Author's notes: I sleep now. Meucci Warlock good beta.
IMPORTANT NOTE: FFnet seems to be a bit hungry today, and is enjoying itself by eating this chapter. If, at the end, you don't read "final notes", then you haven't actually finished the chapter. Trying to fix it….
Time-setting: Post-HBP, spoilers included.
CHAPTER NINETEEN: THE DEATH EATER
Pansy Parkinson wrote across the parchment in an elegant cursive that had been honed by generations of Parkinson women.
I am well, but I worry about your own health. I fear you will not be able to fetch me at the train station today now that my holiday is over. I am having a jolly good time, but I know the end is near.
Please do not forget to come pick me up, for I have no other way to get home. Remember that the location is the platform where I left my lavender cardigan. The train might arrive a bit late—weather problems have been arising out here—but do not fear!
I expect to see you later on today,
Pansy found a small envelope and carefully sealed her letter. Once she was sure Harry and his little group had left for the gravesite, she bounded cheerfully down the stairs.
"Oh, Professor!" she cried, upon seeing Trelawney.
Trelawney, who had become a bit sour as of late, tried to smile. "Hello, Miss Parkinson. What may I do for you?"
"Would you mind sending another letter to my mother?" Pansy asked. "She's been getting worse lately, and I want to make sure she doesn't need me."
Trelawney nodded tersely. "I still think you should go home, my dear. You might be fighting for the cause, but Mister Potter will surely understand!"
Pansy smiled sincerely as she handed over the envelope. "Oh, don't worry, Professor," she confided, "I'm sure I'll be going home quite soon!"
Ignorance, Pansy mused, was power.
It was a pity that Harry never thought to keep Trelawney up to date on his houseguests.
Regulus could not believe he had been left in a house with a mad Seer and a spoiled, kidnapped Death Eater. Furthermore, he couldn't believe that Harry had pulled him aside, saying, "You're in charge. Don't set any fires," before he had left.
He was in charge? In charge of what?
Regulus sighed as his house of cards collapsed. It had been all of ten minutes since Harry and his small, miserable-looking team had left, and he was already bored out of his mind.
There was a knock on his bedroom door and Pansy came in, smiling nervously. "Um, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to drown your sorrows with me." She raised a bottle of Firewhiskey like a trophy.
Regulus snickered. "Where'd you get that? Potter's been hiding all the liquor since batty old Trelawney moved in," he said.
Pansy smirked. "We all have our secrets. Will you join me?" She pointed the bottle at him and waggled her eyebrows.
Regulus had never been able to hold his liquor, and he really hadn't drank a lot since he had returned. Plus, he was quite sure Harry—and Hermione—would be really upset if they came home to find that Pansy had pinched his drink, and used it to get them all drunk.
"Yeah, alright," Regulus heard himself say. "And let's get Trelawney to join us so that Potter really blows his top."
The Firewhiskey was out of commission pretty quickly, particularly because Trelawney had taken it hostage and threatened to stab anyone with her fork if they came near it.
So Pansy produced a bottle of tequila.
"Aren't you going to drink your shot?" Regulus asked, after his third.
Pansy scrunched up her nose. "I'm not very good with tequila," she admitted. "I'm a champagne kind of girl, naturally."
Regulus scoffed. "Baby. You must not be a decent Death Eater. Real Death Eaters can hold their tequila." His elbow slipped off the table.
Trelawney giggled into her bottle.
Pansy blushed. "Fine, give me three shots! I'll catch up to you," she muttered determinedly.
"Good girl," Regulus cooed. "Here, let me just top this one off." Liquid spilled over the glasses.
Trelawney gurgled something and tapped her bottle of Firewhiskey fondly.
Regulus served himself an additional three shots, and clinked one against Pansy's shot. "Cheers!" he yelled, and threw back his head.
"Cheers!" Pansy agreed.
Regulus smacked his lips. "Y'know, this is some really good stuff. Really sweet, y'know. Pour me another one, girl. That's the stuff." He was only slightly aware his voice was trembling.
Pansy complied, and even passed one to Trelawney. "Cheers!"
Regulus smiled, feeling quite happy. "You haven't touched your other two shots," he observed, pointing feebly at Pansy.
"I'm not feeling very well," Pansy admitted. "I told you, tequila isn't really my drink. Do you want them?"
"I—I probably shouldn't," Regulus said. "I think I've had more than my share."
"Coward," Trelawney whispered, although she might have been whispering to her own reflection.
At this, Regulus slurped down the last two tequila shots with fervour.
Pansy smiled as Regulus suddenly slumped forward, banging his head loudly on the table.
"Oh dear," she said sweetly to Trelawney, "I guess that's what happens when you mix alcohol with asphodel."
Trelawney blinked and looked at Regulus's unconscious form. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, alarm bells were going off, but she merely matched Pansy's smile with a drunken one of her own and giggled.
And then she passed out.
Professor Trelawney awoke to a very blurry view of Pansy's face, leaning over her.
"Whass happen'?" Trelawney murmured. Her entire body ached.
"I think you had too much to drink, Professor," Pansy whispered conspiratorially, helping the professor up.
"Where's Regulus?" Trelawney asked.
"He's asleep in his room. Harry's not going to be very happy with us," Pansy said, looking ashamed.
Trelawney batted away a fly. "Eh, the boy doesn't need to know. Oh, my head! Be a dear and fetch me a glass of water," she said.
"Professor, I don't think a glass of water will help you. Why don't we go outside for some fresh air?" Pansy insisted.
Trelawney wobbled on her feet. "Oh, no, no! Mister Potter has strict rules that no one is allowed to leave the house without him knowing. We are guests, Miss Pansy! It would be rude to go against our host's explicit explanat—oh!" Trelawney clutched her head.
"I'm sure he won't mind if we just take a walk around the street, Professor," Pansy said. "Besides, was it not against our host's explicit instructions that you were not to drink alcohol?"
Trelawney's eyes narrowed. "Fine, child! Let us go for a walk, and hope our heads clear."
Pansy helped Trelawney to the door, resting her hand on the doorknob for a brief second. Usually a house-elf—Nobby, was it?—would appear like some ugly, impish bouncer, but this time there was nothing.
Pansy couldn't help but shiver in delight.
Outside was simply beautiful. The sunlight! The fresh air! Pansy couldn't help breathing it all in. "Feeling better, Professor?" she asked.
Trelawney wobbled to the middle of the street. "Yes, yes, I do. My, it does seem like a long time since I've been outside," she mused, looking happy.
Pansy giggled. "What a beautiful day, isn't it?" she exclaimed.
Perhaps it was the after-effects of the alcohol, but Trelawney began to spin in circles, like an amused seven-year-old.
Pansy grinned. Being cooped up in an old house really did turn people loony.
Trelawney suddenly froze, a sudden expression of fear on her face. "Who's that?" she cried, grabbing Pansy's arm a bit painfully.
Pansy froze on the spot, turning her head to see. Coming down the street was a young man, wearing an oversized brown coat, with vivid blond hair and pale features.
Pansy's fear evaporated, and she smiled. "Why, Professor, it's Draco Malfoy!"
Regulus felt like he had been hit by a dozen bludgers. No, make that hundreds of bludgers.
He opened his eyes and looked around. He was in his room; that, at least, was good. Except, well, he didn't quite remember how he had gotten there.
Regulus closed his eyes, trying to ease his brain into gear once again. Harry wasn't home, neither was Hermione. He had been left alone to watch over Trelawney and Parkinson.
Parkinson! She had gotten him to drink.
Ah, he had probably passed out. He had never been able to hold his liquor.
Regulus suddenly shot up. He had left Parkinson unsupervised. He needed to get up, wash his face, and make sure that all evidence of bottles was—
Hold on, why wasn't he going anywhere?
Regulus was aware of a sudden pain biting at his wrists. He took a glance, blinked, and—
Oh, holy lord, he had been tied to his own bed.
"Fuck," he muttered, twisting against the bonds. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."
He was a dead man. He had been outwitted by a snotty little girl. Furthermore, he had probably just ensured Harry's death as well.
Regulus closed his eyes, taking a breath. He had to get word to Harry. Pansy might not be able to act directly, but the Vow was only as good as its phrasing.
So Regulus called for help.
"DOBBY! I'M BURNING MASTER POTTER'S UNDERWEAR! DOBBY!"
Draco Malfoy had the appearance of a malnourished cat. His hair had grown too long, his skin was paler than usual, and his fingernails were dirty, but his superior sneer was still fixed on his face.
"Mister Malfoy, what a thing to find you here!" Trelawney tittered nervously. "You—er—went missing after Dumbledore's death, didn't you?"
"I had to, Professor. Snape was after all the Slytherins!" Draco said. His voice was hoarse.
Pansy stood on the sidelines patiently.
"Yes, Professor Snape," whispered Trelawney, her eyes narrowing. "Well, it's certainly good to see you're safe, boy! Why are you here?"
Draco glanced around the street, a calculating glint in his eye. "I was looking for Potter, truth be told. I need some help," he said sweetly.
Trelawney nodded knowingly. "Harry helps us all, dear. I should have known. Your father in Azkaban, your mother overseas, and you're all alone. It's such a shame that Mister Potter isn't here right now," she said, stroking Draco's hair like a loving mother.
Draco glanced briefly at Pansy. "Potter's not home? Where is he? The Ministry?"
"We don't know," Pansy said. "He left a few hours ago with his bodygu—friends."
Draco looked upset. "I don't know if I'll be able to come back," he admitted. "I'm being watched closely. I don't want to mess up, Professor."
Trelawney nodded. "I think—I think I heard them say they were going to a gravesite. It's near… near, let me think… Hanglebrush… Hangletune—"
"Hangleton?" Draco offered.
"Yes, that's it!" Trelawney said. "Perhaps you can see if he's still there? I'm sure he'd be understanding enough to give you a hand. I'd invite you inside the house to wait, but it doesn't seem to like strangers."
"Don't worry, Professor, I'll hurry and catch up to him," Draco said, glancing at Pansy. "Coming with me, Parkinson? Your mother's been asking for you."
"You should go, dear," Trelawney insisted. "Your mother's health… the poor dear."
Pansy smiled, placed her hand in Draco's, and then the two Apparated.
There was a heavy silence, and then, with a sudden yell, the sound of a door being practically ripped from its hinges.
"YOU MAD OLD BAT, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"
Trelawney spun around, feeling startled.
Regulus Black was standing outside Chadwick, Dobby the house-elf by his side.
Trelawney felt faint. Regulus looked very, very unhappy.
Neville struggled as the bottom of his trousers snagged on the fence that ran around the gravesite. Hermione sighed and helped him untangle himself.
"It's very, er, pretty," she said, looking around.
"It's a graveyard, Hermione," Ron sniped. "There's nothing special about it."
Tonks and Harry moved forward, looking around. Tonks looked incredibly out of place in all the gloom with her vivid fuchsia-coloured hair.
"What tomb are we looking for, exactly?" Neville asked nervously. He wasn't fond of graveyards.
"It's very large, has a gargoyle, and it's for Tom Riddle," Harry explained. "It should be somewhere in the back. Mr Weasley said that the big gravesites are there."
The small group moved on in a sort of grudging excitement. All of them had their wands at the ready in a bout of paranoia, and only Hermione took the time to eye the other tombstones, reading some of them out loud, even though Ron said he couldn't care less if a family of five died in a freak piano accident.
"Harry, are you sure this is the right graveyard?" Tonks asked softly. "I mean, it's not like you stopped for directions last time…" She cleared her throat. "And there are quite a lot of graveyards in England."
"Riddle wouldn't be buried anywhere else," Harry said confidently. "I can feel this is it."
"Even though it was dark, you were losing blood, and your life was being threatened the last time you were here," muttered Ron under his breath.
Neville choked on his laughter.
"Oh, look!" Hermione exclaimed. "Is that it?"
"Does that look like a gargoyle to you, Hermione?" Ron demanded. "It's a—it's a—"
"Fairy," supplied Harry.
Hermione blushed. "Sorry. It is enormous for a tombstone," she muttered.
Aside from the occasion of Tonks walking right into an open grave waiting for its client, the entire mission hadn't been very exciting.
"This place is large," Ron said testily. "It must be for the entire bloody county or something." He suddenly stepped backwards, leaning over to touch his back as though he had been stung. "Bloody hell, Harry."
Harry frowned. "What? I didn't do anything."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "What's going on?" she asked.
Ron scowled. "Nothing… my back just gave out." He broke into a quicker pace. "C'mon, I'm getting sick of this place."
Neville, who had been wandering off on his own, gave a yell of delight. Moving a rather stubborn ivy that was growing all over the place, he pointed to the tombstone. A hideous-looking gargoyle was perching on it, fangs bared, and it wasn't hard to read the inscription.
"Good find, Neville!" Tonks congratulated. "Er, now what?"
"In the cave, the wall was actually a door," Harry explained. "This tombstone is large enough for us to fit through."
The group exchanged incredulous glances.
"Well," said Hermione, carefully, "It is possible. You needed to give it a bit of blood, didn't you? That, er, gargoyle looks quite… blood-thirsty." She paled.
"I'll do it," Tonks offered. "Not like I haven't lost a bit of blood before."
"Wait," Harry said suddenly.
Tonks froze on the spot. "What is it?" she asked.
There was a low piercing noise, like a single note being played. Then a phoenix feather appeared before Harry's feet, alongside a small rolled up parchment.
"Oh," gasped Hermione.
Harry did not mistake the familiar scrawl. "Leave now," he read out.
"That's Regulus's handwriting!" Hermione exclaimed. "Harry, something must have happened."
"Hermione's right," Tonks said sternly. "If Regulus used Fawkes to send this it must be something very serious. We shouldn't stay here. Let's go back to the entrance and call for the Knight Bus. Yes, that's the best way to get us all back, since half of you don't have your Apparating licenses."
"No, we can't go now," Harry snapped. "Let's just test this thing."
"Harry," Ron said.
"No," Harry said firmly. "We might not get a chance back."
He reached for his wand, muttered a spell, and a single scratch appeared across his palm, leaking blood.
And then the Death Eaters appeared.
Final notes: In future chapters: good guys vs. bad guys, a Horcrux, Hodur, and England wins the World Cup… wait, no…..