A/N: Ok, here it is! Finally, the reviewed and revised version of Bloodlines, the Beginning! Take careful note; although the difference in plot between this and the original prologue won't mess with the main plot of the story, I would recommend reading it anyway. The situations are a lot different, and the way i've explained things in this version makes the entire scenario much more realistic. Read on, let me know what you think!
Oh, btw, I dont own Harry Potter, or anythign affiliated with Harry Potter. The Griswalds are entirely my creation.
The icy rain came in the form of a torrential downpour, bleakly reflecting the foul moods of the collective residents of Manchester, England. Ominous clouds had overtaken the cheerful blue sky some time earlier that morning... about the time that Frank Granger and his eight months pregnant wife, Guenevere, rushed to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. They had been on their way to the theatre (her favorite ballet was showing, and despite her condition, she couldn't bear to miss it) when her water broke. The entire ride to the hospital was spent in a near blind panic; Guen was whispering about the time (too soon, it was too soon, something was so obviously wrong), and Frank was weaving in and out of noontime traffic at a maniacal pace, muttering under his breath all the while (bloody surprises, horrid traffic, how are we supposed to get anywhere in this mess?).
The dentists (for that's what they were, partners in a dentist firm that had little dentist dreams and prayed for little dentist children) rushed into the hospital, calling loudly for a nurse; for someone, anyone, with a wheelchair. A red-haired woman in a starched white apron approached them with one: "Right this way, Mr. and Mrs. ...?" "Granger. Frank Granger, and this is Guen." As the young blonde woman was being wheeled down the hall, her distraught husband clung tightly to her hand, firing question after question at the polite nurse. He finally ended with a desperate plea; "Please, is my wife going to be alright?"
The blonde woman in the wheelchair had remained silent, but her blue eyes were bright with tears, and she looked back and forth between the nurse and her husband, waiting for answers. Quietly, the nurse responded, "You're wife is going to be fine, Frank. How far along did you say she was?"
"Eight months," he paused for a moment, realizing how the nurse had worded the question in the past tense, and sweat broke out once again on his already damp brow. "Why? Is something wrong with the baby? Please, is everything alright?"
The redhead sighed a little, and offered a neutral statement, meant to do nothing but hold the expectant parents' hopes together a little while longer. "We wont know if anything is wrong until a doctor can look at her."
Forty-five minutes later, Mr. and Mrs. Granger sat in a bland green and white observation room, awaiting the return of their doctor, Dr. Gordon. They didn't need to wait much longer; a knock sounded on the metal door, and in came the professional. His fat, bald head glistened under the florescent lights, and he mopped his sweaty brow with a dingy rag before removing his grimy, wire-rimmed bifocal, and smudging them further with that same rag. The couple waited with bated breath for the doctor to speak, but when no words came, Frank looked down at the floor in defeat.
Finally, the doctor gathered his voice. "I'm going to be frank with you, Mr. Granger..."
"You can't be... I'm Frank," the expectant father grumbled, before meeting the greasy, pug-like man's eyes. "What's up, Doc?"
Gillian and Ferdinand Griswald appeared with a bang in a deserted alley behind the Muggle hospital. Wordlessly, the sopping brunette gripped her husband's hand and glanced up and down the narrow cobblestone path. "This place stinks of Muggles, Freddie." She spat the word as though it defiled her mouth.
"I know, my sweet, I know, but the Dark Lord's instructions were clear, and you know what would happen if we were to attempt this at a real hospital. The Ministry would be all over us before you could say Fizzing Whizbees." Ferdinand squeezed his gorgeous wife's hand firmly and reassuringly, taking one last look at their clothing. His tattered robes were several inches too short, and hers were much too tight, but they could not afford to buy new ones, and no self-respecting pureblood family would accept charity. He shuddered at the thought. Every Knut to their name had been spent in service to the Dark Lord, and it was for a worthy cause. He smiled, remembering that after tonight, they would never need or want for anything again. The amount of money they were to be rewarded for this small service to their master would boggle the mind of a lesser wizard; after tonight, they would finally regain the wealth and prestige they once held, and be once more accepted into their rightful place in the Dark Lord's Court.
He listened as his wife sighed wistfully, and placed their joined hands on her protruding stomach. Nine months ago, he and his beautiful wife had married at their Lord's insistence. Ferdinand couldn't believe his luck and his Master's graciousness; he'd been in love with Gillian for years. He'd been unable to admit as much to her while serving his lord almost continuously, but almost nine months ago, he and his wife had celebrated their blessed union under the watchful eyes of the Lord himself. That union had produced a child, a blessing in both the happy family's eyes, and the eyes of the powerful Riddle. There had been uprisings of late, presumably 'faithful' Death Eaters rising up against their master in hopes of ending his reign of supremacy. The Dark Lord scoffed at those attempts, of course, but was finding more and more difficult ways for his followers to prove their loyalty.
One night it had happened. Gillian was 7 months along, her rounded belly and perpetual glow making her more beautiful in her husband's eyes than she ever had been. It was then that the Master had called an important meeting of the Inner Circle. Ferdinand had fallen to his knees in horror when Lord Voldemort called for the ritual sacrifice of his firstborn.
"My Lord, I beg of you!" Griswald cried piteously from his knees in the center of the cloaked circle, paying no heed to his dear friend Lucius's fervently whispered pleas for him to be silent. He prostrated himself at the handsome man's feet, kissing the toes of his shoes and grasping at the hem of his robes as a hissing Bellatrix kicked away his seeking hands. "Please, my Lord, I have been a loyal servant for years! Surely there is something else you could ask of me, something that would mean even more to you than this pitiful pittance…" But the Dark Lord had merely laughed, and ordered him to his feet. "You will give me your firstborn," Tom Riddle had spat beneath his hood as he turned away, "or you will give me your life."
Seeing now the soul-crushing pain on his wife's face, for a moment, he began to regret his decision. Shaking himself from the grasp of heavy memories and guilt, Freddie whipped out his wand and pointed it at the rusty metal door leading into the Muggle establishment. "Alohomora." The portal swung open, and silently, the wizard stepped through, followed immediately and obediently by his pureblood wife. Another whispered spell, "Direct me," and the wand spun wildly on his palm, finally pointing them in the appropriate direction; down a long, sparsely lit hall to a stairwell that led down to the basement.
"Freddie, are you sure this is the way?" Gill asked, her voice quavering as they entered the door revealed to them. She glanced around the room, noticing the filth and garbage that littered almost every available surface. Her husband muttered a quick "Lumos," and the room was bathed in a cold blue light. She gasped as she saw the bed in the center of the room, and the masked figures that flanked it. "Freddie, I'm not so sure we should go through with this. I don't..." she swallowed the knot that had formed in her throat before continuing. "I don't know if I can give the baby up."
"You will give it up!" He growled. She flinched away from the open hostility he showed, and when he realized what he said, he calmed immediately. He gathered his lovely Gillian into his arms, and held her close. "Our Master promised that there would be more children," he purred, trying to calm the now sobbing woman. "Buck up. Griswalds don't cry," She stopped obediently, but the wet trails on her cheeks refused to dry. "This will not be the last sacrifice we make for His favor, but neither will it be the last beautiful child we will make together," he murmured as he kissed the tears from her trembling lips.
"But why, Freddie? Why must we be the only family to make such a sacrifice? What about the Malfoy's!" She protested as quietly as she could, aware of the stares of the other wizards in the room. "Just six months ago, Narcissa gave birth to a baby boy, and they are not asked to destroy their chance at a family!"
"Gill," her husband admonished quietly but firmly. "You know as well as I what Master has in store for young Draco. And you know equally well that the ritual can only be completed while the child is still in the womb."
"You are right, husband," she conceded in defeat, allowing him to guide her over to the hospital mattress. She tried hard not to think of what was to take place. Her beautiful child, the gorgeous life that had grown inside her womb for the past 9 months would be unceremoniously ripped from her body, wrapped in ritual cloth died with the blood of a unicorn foal, and buried facedown underneath a wild cedar. Her honeyed eyes once again drifted over the mediwizards in the surgical masks, and she sent one last wordless plea to whoever was listening that her baby be spared.
"Mr. and Mrs. Griswald, I presume?" asked the wizard furthest to the left. He stepped forward, and cast his own wandlight on the room. Freddie nodded, and the wizard on the right spoke.
"All things in the name of the Dark Lord,"
"For whom the sun bleeds and the stars scream. Forever shall his name strike fear into the hearts of his enemies," concluded the couple in unison. Around the room, sleeves were pulled up to reveal His mark, skull and snake. Satisfied, two 'orderlies' stepped forward, one on each side of the pregnant woman. They guided her to a reclining position, and roughly yanked up the hem of her robes, paying no mind to her whimpers of dread.
The head mediwizard raised his wand, and looked once more to Fred. "You're sure?"
"As sure as Merlin's beard."
"Fifty thousand Galleons is a lot of money, Mr. Griswald, but is your child's life worth it?" The wizard's twisted smile sent shivers down his spine, but he shook them off, determined to pull through.
"It's not about the money," Ferdinand heard himself say. It was as though he were listening from the end of a long tunnel, but he couldn't seem to make himself focus. "Besides, I think anything is worth it," he sneered, "In the service of our Lord."
The wizard nodded, and raised his wand higher. Instantly, the swollen woman on the table began to scream.
The blonde woman screamed on the mattress, panting with excursion as she single-handedly recreated the miracle of birth. I say single-handedly, because her other hand was wrapped tightly around her husband's wrist and was cutting off all blood flow. Occasionally, when the pain and screaming subsided, she would turn to face her husband, alternately cursing him and pledging her undying love. "Francis Angelo Granger, I rue the day I ever laid eyes on you!" or, "Frank Granger, if I survive this, I'll make love to you every night!"
The nurses laughed a bit at this, but Frank continued helping his beloved wife with her breathing exercises.
"Mrs. Granger, I need you to push on the count of three, okay? One... two... three... PUSH!"
"Done." The mediwizard spoke calmly, and handed the shivering newborn to an orderly, who immediately bathed it, and wrapped it in a towel.
"Could I hold it? Please, Freddie..." His wife whispered weakly. The strain on her magic had been great during the operation, and she would remain weak for about three days, but still, she couldn't help but ask, "Couldn't I please hold my baby?" Freddie just swallowed the lump in his throat, not bearing to look at his beloved wife. What neither of them knew was that the ritual had gone terribly wrong; one of the medi-wizards' had a hand in another pile of galleons. He'd been promised 100,000 galleons if he would deliver a healthy baby to a very prestigious wizarding family, who was otherwise unable to produce more children. The Parkinsons would also feel the sharp pains of disappointment. The mediwizard in question stowed the child away 'safely' in an empty crib in the Muggle nursery, not bothering to enter information on the infant, as he would return for her in a few hours, before returning to his fellows in the grungy basement.
Ferdinand helped his sniffling wife off the table, and graciously accepted the bag of Galleons, shrinking it down to the size of a bean, and putting it into a pocket in his too-small robes. Without another word, the pureblooded couple was gone, and the mediwizard smiled evilly at his accomplices. They spent the rest of the afternoon sipping firewhiskey, and reminiscing. They had just vanished their empty glasses when a knock sounded at the door.
"Were you expecting anyone else?" The orderlies shook their heads, and the wizard in charge slowly opened the door. It had only opened a fraction of an inch when ten people came barreling into the room, wands drawn and at the ready.
"Magical Law Enforcement!" shouted one witch. She glanced around at the various people in the room, who seemed to be following unspoken orders. They gathered the four Dark wizards while the officer spoke again.
"You are under arrest for suspicious activities, including the illegal purchase and sale of newborn children." This speech went on for quite a while, and the wizards were taken into custody.
Eleven hours of hard labor wasted, thought the nurse as she stared down at the lifeless body in her hands. The umbilical cord was wound tightly around the newborn's neck, and the entire stillborn body held a bluish tint. The new parents reached expectantly toward the woman, eyes begging for the child they knew should be making some sound, but was silent. The nurse, Ms. Knit, sighed, and refused the couple their corpse, under the pretense of cleanliness.
"Hospital procedure, I'm afraid," she clucked, snipping the cord, and bundling the rapidly cooling body into a terrycloth towel. "Needs to be cleaned before I give 'er over." She whisked down the hall to the nursery, where she laid the small child on a metal table for ... disposal. Sighing once again, she shook her head, preparing to return to the room to give the parents the terrible news, when a small cry sounded from the far corner of the room.
Confused, she checked all the charts and determined that no other child was supposed to be up here, but she was intrigued. She walked over to the basinet, and found the most gorgeous child. The baby girl had dark wispy hair and bright, intelligent brown eyes. Her fists were tightly shut, and she cried as loud as her tiny little lungs would allow. Ms. Knit checked the charts again, and when she was satisfied that no information on the child could be found, scooped her up, and took her down the hall.
"Here you go, Guen. Your lovely baby girl." she handed the baby over to the new mother, who cooed softly, and cuddled the small child to her chest. Mr. Granger leaned over the baby girl as well, and reverently caressed her tiny cheek with his large, calloused finger.
"We're going to call you..." Guen looked at her husband for confirmation, and smiled when he nodded. He was too enamored at the sight before him to attempt to argue. "After my own grandmother... Hermione Jane Granger."
Outside, a petite young woman with bushy brown hair screamed in agony, holding tightly to her husband, who did nothing to console her. Her screams, and the loud bang that inevitably accompanied Apparation, were swallowed by the sound of the relentless rain, beating down on the unforgiving stone.