The Voldemort Diaries—Chapter 94 (Snapshots Part 5 of 5—The End)
When Dolph wandered into the kitchen for breakfast, Tim was already up and about, the meal on the table. Not really unusual, the kid being an early riser, but Dolph had made it clear years ago, after Ophelia quit to marry Marshal, that Timothy was not responsible for cooking for him. Nonetheless, he frequently arose in the morning to the smell of bacon and toast, fresh brewed tea, and the sound of frying eggs. Now, at twenty, Timothy hadn't been a kid for quite a long time, and his pattern had become well entrenched.
"Timothy, I've told you a hundred times, you don't need to cook for me," Dolph said, even before greeting him.
"I know, Dad," Tim answered with a smile, sitting down and taking a drink from his pumpkin juice. "I want to do it. I wish you'd stop feeling like you're taking advantage of me."
Dolph slid into his seat, picked up a piece of buttered toast, and nibbled the corner. He was still tired; last night they'd battled a huge fire that took hours to put out and clean up after, his magic not being exactly welcome in the muggle force as an aid. "I'm knackered. How can you be so cheerful?"
"I'm not an old man like you," grinned the youth.
Dolph scowled mildly and swilled his cup of tea. He gasped at the heat, immediately following it with cold pumpkin juice to quell the scalding in his mouth. "Hot! And don't get cheeky, brat."
Tim chuckled softly and began to eat. Much had changed since he'd been that skinny twelve-year-old boy begging to be allowed to live with this wizard, and since he'd been afraid of being abandoned or unloved. Now as tall as Dolph, strongly built and muscular like his dad, for two years he'd been working with his father as a part-time firefighter, a job he loved as much as he loved working with the animals in Uncle Rab's clinic. However, he was admittedly much younger than Dolph, and the event last night hadn't posed that much of a challenge, all things considered.
"Dad, I have to talk to you about something." The statement came out of the blue, and Dolph raised his head in anticipation. Surprises inevitably tended to be bad. Tim took the Daily Prophet from the chair beside him and held it out to his father.
Warily Dolph plucked it from his hand, glancing down; the paper had been folded so as to show one particular article: Researchers and Assistants Sought. Frowning in confusion he scanned the article, then looked up at his son. "I'm not sure what you're aiming at."
"I want to apply to work on the project," Tim said. "It's like it was made just for me—I mean, I'm uniquely qualified. They're trying to find a cure for lycanthropy, and who better to help them do so than a werewolf?"
"And that is exactly what worries me. Do you honestly want to make it known that you're a werewolf, son? People don't take well to it."
Tim hesitated to reflect. From the moment he'd come to live with Dad, he'd been careful to guard his status not only for his own sake, but for that of his father. Was it really prudent to come out and let people know? And yet, if there was a chance to be free, really free, he wished to have a part in that deliverance, if only to expedite it. "The muggles around here where we live will never know. And the researchers will need test subjects, won't they? Why not use a test subject who is also involved in the cure?"
Because I don't want you exposed to the hatred, the filthy looks of those who don't understand. Was that really his call? Timothy was legally an adult; if he needed to do this, who was he to stand in the boy's way? And if they were successful, in part due to Timothy's contribution, how could he take that away from his son? Reluctantly he murmured, "If you're set on this, I won't object to it. They need witches or wizards skilled in Potions…I suppose a letter of recommendation from Snape would go a long way in getting you in."
Timothy smiled and nodded, relieved. He'd passed Professor Snape's grueling Advanced Potions course of study here at home with private tutoring; few, aside from Potions masters, had more knowledge. "Yes, it would. And did you notice who's sponsoring the research?"
"No." Dolph looked down at the paper again, reading it more carefully, and a slow smile spread across his face. "Lucius Malfoy, my old friend, what are you up to?"
"He loves Marcus," offered Tim. "I suspect he's trying to find a way to cure him—and in the process, all of us."
"Yes, well…" Dolph knew Lucius well enough to assume there was more to this than helping Marcus, no matter how much he loved the boy. Malfoy was notorious for angling for public acclaim, but whether this was the case or not, he didn't want to poison Timothy's mind against Lucius. "I think you need to take into account that you could work for years on this project with no results. You understand that, don't you?"
"Yes, Dad. I also understand that I'll be a werewolf forever if a cure isn't found. I'd like to try."
Dolph nodded, a bare inclination of the head. So be it. If a chance existed for his son to be healed of this terrible affliction, he must stand behind him. "You have my blessing and my wishes for total and quick success," he said softly. "Now pass the marmalade."
Bundled in a heavy wool coat, fur-lined boots, and a warm cap, stomach aflutter, Marcus strolled along the corridor to the stark, barely decorated Hall where all the meals were served for the students at Durmstrang. He rarely came here, seeing as he was not magical, and therefore not a student. However, of late he'd come to fancy one of the girls in the sixth year class, and she'd invited him to have lunch with her. How could he say no? He thought fleetingly that he ought to have stopped to take off his heavy clothing he'd been wearing for his hunting expedition in the surrounding wood…too late for that.
He paused in the doorway, taking in the scene. Rows of tables crammed with boys and girls lined the room; their chattering voices filled the air every bit as much as their bodies filled the space. A long table at the head of the room was occupied by most of the professors, though his father was notably absent. Tate liked to take his meals with his wife, his son, and his little daughter in his private quarters, though on special occasions he made a point of being in attendance in the Hall. Pulling off his hat, Marcus glanced about for Rada. She was nowhere to be seen.
"Looking for someone?" asked a deep voice behind him.
Marcus turned to see a sullen seventh year boy—looking particularly surly, even for him. "As a matter of fact, I am." He moved aside to let the boy pass, but the lad stood his ground.
"Rada isn't up for grabs," the lad went on, the menacing tone intensifying.
"I wasn't aware it was any of your business," retorted Marcus. "If you're planning to lay claim to her, Grigor, you're a bit late."
"She is mine!" spat Grigor. "She's been mine all year."
"Oh, all of two months," said Marcus, rolling his eyes. "Funny how she never mentioned you when I escorted her to town last week, or when she asked me to meet her here today."
Grigor took a step forward so their faces nearly touched, his breath sending waves of onion odor. "There is no way in hell she'd choose a squib over me," he hissed, laying bitter emphasis on the word 'squib'.
Marcus snorted out loud. In sarcasm dripping with venom, he replied, "Right. She'd much prefer a stench-laden ape who frankly would be a step up if he looked like an ape. Since I don't believe she's that stupid, either she's blind and smelling-impaired, or she likes me better. Which do you think it is?"
Grigor placed a hand in the middle of Marcus' chest and shoved—hard. Marcus staggered a few steps backward, righted himself, and surged forward, fist balled. No, he mustn't strike first, Tate had warned him about fighting.
"What's the matter, squib, you afraid to hit me?" taunted the boy.
"You're not worth the trouble." Marcus spun round and walked out just as Rada came rushing in, her face flushed from the cold air, her honey-brown hair flying behind her.
"Marcus, I'm sorry I'm late, I was flying—" She stopped short at noticing Grigor only meters away, glaring at them.
"Yet another thing you can't do, squib," Grigor said, grinning cruelly. "I play Quidditch, but you're stuck on the ground."
"I can fly a broom, moron," Marcus responded tightly.
"An enchanted one," Grigor retorted.
"Oh, and you can fly one that's not enchanted?" asked Rada, storming over to him. "Why are you bothering him? Leave us alone."
"Oh, the big man needs a girl to protect him? Next thing he'll be crying to his mummy—who by the way seems awfully young to have a kid his age. Makes me wonder about her—"
It was all he got out before Marcus stomped over, lifted his fist, and slammed it for all he was worth into the blowhard's mouth. Blood spurted and trickled down Grigor's chin as he screamed and leapt back. A second later he spat his two front teeth onto the floor. He raised his wand, but not before Rada had hers aimed right between his eyes.
"Don't even try it," she warned.
Marcus stepped up, fists still at ready, and snarled at Grigor, "I'm adopted. And if you ever make fun of my mother or father, I'll pound you into a puddle of blood." Or wait till the full moon and rip you limb from limb.
The commotion wasn't missed by the professors, for the students in the near vicinity had kicked up a cry, which spread rapidly through the Hall. Within moments two teachers had forced their way through the throng to the back of the Hall, and Marcus and Rada were on their way to the Headmaster's office while Grigor was being escorted to the infirmary.
Marcus waited impatiently in his father's office, pacing back and forth as he'd so often seen Tate do. This wasn't fair. Grigor started it, why wasn't he here? Alright, yes, he was getting his teeth put back in, but that was beside the point. He'd started the whole thing! And Rada hadn't done anything!
He stared out the window for a long while, then turned to the girl. "I'm sorry. This isn't your fault, you shouldn't even be here. I'm sure Tate won't punish you, but you'll probably miss lunch because of me."
"It's okay. He deserved it, and I'm glad you hit him. I'm not exactly hungry, sitting here in the Headmaster's office," she said, trying to smile and not quite succeeding. Her finger traced the grooved pattern in the wood on the side of her chair.
"Marcus." Dimitar Tanassov strode in looking imposing as always in his black garments that fit him like a glove. Unlike his typical self, he wore a frown directed at his son.
Marcus automatically faced his father, and Rada stood up, not sure what she was supposed to do. Marcus began with, "Rada had nothing to do with it, Tate. She was just there."
"Is this true?" asked Tanassov. The girl nodded dumbly, and he waved a hand at her. "Go on, then." After she'd scurried out, he faced his son again, expectantly waiting for an explanation, and knowing that whatever it might be, it would be the truth.
"Grigor likes Rada. He was saying mean things, calling me a squib," Marcus started, and winced as he realized he came off as a whiney crybaby. That was never good.
"And that's why you knocked his teeth out?" asked the man dryly.
"No. He pushed me, then he insinuated that Mum was a loose woman to have me at such a young age, so I punched him." Marcus held his head high, unabashed, unrepentant.
"And you didn't see fit to tell him you're adopted?" Dimitar went on.
"I did—after I hit him," Marcus answered.
To Tanassov the boy looked proud of himself, and he honestly couldn't help feeling proud himself. Marcus had grown to a fine young man of sixteen, willing to defend Luna's honour as a boy should defend his mother. Most certainly it was hard to be in his place, a squib among magical children, and every so often he was taunted for it, yet he didn't let that get in his way. Tanassov sighed softly.
"Marcus, I'm going to have to punish you. Despite the fact that I'd have done the same in your place, I can't have my son running wild and fighting. Grigor will do a week's detention with one of the teachers for provoking the altercation, and you will also do a week's detention in my lab. The pupils need to see that you've been dealt with, too."
Dimitar studied the boy. He cocked his head, his eyes narrowing. "Is there anything else I should know?"
"No. Just that I missed lunch with Rada," said Marcus, his blue eyes twinkling. "Can you give her detention with me?"
"I think not. Come on, your mother will have some food left for you." He put his hand on Marcus' shoulder as they left for their quarters. As they walked, he smiled to himself. Yes, indeed, he was very proud of his son!
"We've been back from Salem all of four months and already you've decided you're in love. You're crazy!" Aidan padded up the stairs at Malfoy Manor beside his brother, shaking his head. At eighteen, the idea of tying himself down to a girl was repugnant to him.
"My life," Adriel intoned dryly. "And why are you following me around?"
"I'm not 'following you around', dork. Ladon is supposed to meet me for a pick up game of Quidditch, if it's any of your business." Aidan gave his brother a shove on general principles. Adriel pushed back, knocking Aidan against the wall.
"It's cold to be playing Quidditch, don't you think?" asked Adriel as they marched abreast down the hallway.
"My life," Aidan shot back, smirking much like their father.
At that moment Khala came out of her room into the hall, wearing what looked to be a two-piece red snowsuit. On her head was perched a Russian fur cap, the flaps pulled up and fastened on top. Long, whitish blond hair streamed down on either side of her perfectly formed face, and when she smiled her grey eyes shone. "Hi, Adriel. Hi, Aidan. I heard you coming—but then, a deaf person would have heard you."
Adriel grinned back at her, approaching to touch the cap. He tapped it lightly. "I've seen people wear these in Massachusetts. It's gets very chilly there. You, however, look particularly fetching in it, Khala."
"Thank you for noticing," she answered. A thought flitted through her mind that Adriel had certainly not inherited Uncle Severus'…how could she put this delicately…snarky personality, for which she was glad. She hadn't quite decided about Aidan yet; he had his moments of being fun, but he did tend to be a bit abrasive.
"And Happy Birthday one day early," Adriel whispered in her ear.
"Thank you again," she said, turning her head to him, her lips so close to his they almost touched.
Aidan coughed loudly. "So, you two are going to play in the snow? I thought you had a date or something."
Khala flushed, her pale skin morphing to pink. "We're going to play with Draco's kids, then we're going to dinner, and the rest is none of your business."
"I think Scorpius would rather play with us," Aidan answered. "The two younger ones you can have."
"How very kind of you," Khala retorted, sneering. "But Scorpius hasn't got back from Hogwarts for Christmas holiday."
Aidan sneered back, so perfect a replica of Severus' sneer that it gave the young woman chills. By all means, they could spend the day in a who-can-sneer-best contest, one she'd never win, or he could just get to the heart of it and be done with it. "Look, am I the only one who thinks this is bizarre—you two dating? For crying out loud, you used to sit on Adriel's back and rub his face in the dirt by the pond!"
Khala's face deepened another shade to scarlet. "We were children, and we were only playing."
Adriel scooted in close to her, wrapping an arm round her waist as much from affection as to annoy his brother. "No we weren't, we were fighting, but that was a long time ago." He smiled in a fashion dangerously similar to a leer. "I doubt I'd mind if you sat on my back now."
Khala's face looked like it might explode if it turned any redder. Aidan merely rolled his eyes and snorted. "Get a room. Then again, don't. Remember what Grandpa said about Uncle Lonny losing his clairvoyance."
"I'm not going to lose my clairvoyance. I'm not stupid," Adriel said, growing irritated, the reason not entirely clear in his mind. Aidan was looking out for him, even if he had a pissy way of doing it. Normally they got along brilliantly, so why was he being such a jerk about this whole Khala relationship? Merlin's beard, it wasn't as if Aidan didn't like Khala, everyone liked her, and if Adriel wanted more than that, shouldn't his brother support him?
Aidan shot him a withering glare. "So Uncle Lonny is stupid now? I'm sure he'd like to hear that."
"Would you shut up?" Adriel said, barely controlling the desire to lash out. He directed the next utterance to Khala. "Let's go downstairs. I saw Benedictus and Tea waiting for us."
Khala vacillated a moment, dancing back and forth from one foot to the other. "Go on without me, I'll be right down." She bolted back into her room, leaving the Snape brothers alone in the hallway.
"Looks to me like she forgot to use the bathroom." Aidan walked on past toward Ladon's room, then halted to clap his brother on the shoulder. "Have a good time, Adriel."
Adriel turned to face him, their brown eyes meeting and holding for several seconds. While they did not possess their father's talent in Legilimency, their shared twin bond, together with their shared clairvoyance, made reading each other ridiculously simple. He was being sincere, and it showed. "Thanks, Aidan. I know this is weird for you, but…"
"I know," said Aidan, nodding with a little shrug. "It is what it is. If it's meant to be, I wish you all the luck in the world." And if not, I hope you don't get hurt.
Adriel inclined his head in acknowledgement. "See you later. Have a good game." He tromped off down the hall and down the steps, where he saw Lucius casually waiting below. Too casually.
"Adriel, how good to see you," drawled Lucius. He wore that special lips-only smile that boded ill. "Where is my daughter for your first real 'date'?" He pronounced the word as if it were foreign to him, distasteful even.
"Hi, Uncle Lucius," the young man said automatically, even as a tiny voice in the back of his head reminded him that if all went well, they'd be related one day for real—and he wouldn't be addressing him as 'Uncle' any longer. "She's coming."
"Perhaps we can spend some productive time together while we wait," Lucius suggested in his this-is-not-a-suggestion tone.
It surprised Adriel how well he remembered the facial expressions and tones Uncle Lucius employed, seeing as he'd been gone for years, and had only had visits between. He gulped and backed up to the wall. "Doing what?"
"I think we ought to go over the rules for respecting my daughter." Lucius took a step forward, and Adriel made to move back. The unforgiving wall behind him had other ideas, and he merely squirmed apprehensively.
"Papa already gave me the lecture," Adriel replied. Again he was startled by how calm he sounded, while his heart beat like a snare drum in his chest. He'd half expected the traitorous organ to pop out his mouth and choke him.
Lucius examined his fingernails briefly, letting the tension build. Then he gazed into the boy's face, his grey eyes half-lidded. "Did he? What did he say?"
"That I," squeaked the youth. He cleared his throat, looking up into space, recalling the exact wording. "That I am to treat her with utmost consideration, to protect her if necessary, and that if I sully Khala, you'll kill me…and if you don't, he'll make sure I wish I was dead for destroying your friendship and trust." He slid along the wall a tad, hoping to escape the inquisition. "And my brother reminded me of the threat to my clairvoyance, so you really have nothing to worry about."
"Do I look worried to you?"
Adriel studied the man for a split second. Nope, he did not look worried in the least. Haughty…menacing…homicidal maybe…but not worried. "No, sir."
"Good. We appear to be in agreement then," said Lucius, smirking. "Have a nice night, and do bring Khala back at a decent hour."
"I will, sir." Funny that, how he'd changed so quickly from 'Uncle Lucius' to 'sir'. Malfoys had that effect on people.
Just then Khala stomped down the stairs, brow puckered in indignation, eyes blazing. "Father, I overheard most of what you said to Adriel. How can you be so horrible, threatening him that way?"
Feigning affront, Lucius turned to Narcissa, who'd been standing in the doorway of the drawing room and only now Adriel noticed her. He'd been rather busy trying to avoid the evil eye coming from the patriarch. "Narcissa, did you hear me utter a single threat?" Lucius asked innocently.
Narcissa strolled up to stand beside her husband, gracing him with a loving smile. "Of course not, dear. You don't need to give voice to threats." She squeezed Lucius' hand then moved on to Adriel, where she paused in front of him. Her smile seemed somehow less loving and more…scary. One hand reached up and she stroked his cheek with her fingertips. An icy undercurrent ran through her speech. "I love you like my own son, but we all know that unless you become my son by marriage, you'll behave yourself. Don't we?"
"Yes, ma'am," Adriel said, feeling like a little boy all over again. For some reason, her demeanor alarmed him more than Lucius', maybe because he'd expected it from the man of the family.
"Mother, you're as bad as Father!" Khala snapped, taking the young man's arm and dragging him away from her parents. In a low voice she confided, "Ignore them. They do this to every boy who gets up the nerve to ask me out. They're trying to rattle you."
"It's working," confessed Adriel.
Khala scowled at the older couple again, and they smiled benignly back at her. "We're going outside with Tea and Benedictus. Have you got a problem with that, too?"
"Have fun," Narcissa said cheerily. Once the youngsters had gone, she looked over at Lucius and sighed. "They do make a lovely couple. If we don't scare him off, it may prove he's got what it takes to handle being a part of this family."
"Indeed," agreed Lucius. "I wouldn't mind blending our family with the Snapes."
Narcissa, gazing dreamily into space, answered, "They'd have beautiful, clever children—"
"—who will perfect the art of—"
"Potions?" finished Narcissa.
"I was going to say sneering, but sure, let's go with that," Lucius replied drolly. He sidled up to her and wrapped his arm round her waist. "Shall we retire to our room, my love? Draco and Astoria are out, the children are all busy, and…I think you know where this is going."
"Absolutely I do," she answered in a solemn tone. "We need to pick out a new colour for the walls. I am so tired of—"
"Narcissa!" he exclaimed, looking hurt.
She tittered and leaned into him. "Honestly, Lucius, you are so easy…"
March 2020 (Albania)
Bashkim slogged through the semi-wet field, his face twisted into a grimace. In the distance he noted a large, gnarled tree trunk snapped off most of the way down, its rotten wood now visible even from so far away. The greater part, the broad canopy of branches, lay broken and defeated on the ground, covering part of the field where he'd been ready to plant his beet crop. His wife had been right, the old apple tree had fallen after all these years. Despite the fact that it hadn't yielded apples in more than two years, he'd hoped it would come back to life; they could ill afford another setback in their already impoverished lives. And now he'd have to remove this mess before he could even plow.
Sighing, he approached the tree to inspect the full impact. Standing directly in front of the mini-disaster, he sighed again. He'd need the team of horses, and help from his teenaged son to drag the tree away and chop it for firewood. Then there was the actual plowing, and planting, and hoping a pelting rain didn't kick up and ruin all their hard work. Even now dark clouds gathered above him.
Bashkim turned to go back to his house, when from the corner of his eye he spotted movement. A tail? He spun back and marched round the tree, where a goat was busy gnawing at something on the ground. Not surprising, really, since the blasted things would eat anything. He pushed it aside, while it bleated angrily and poked him with its horns.
There on the ground lay a small bundle of fur, and at first Bashkim thought the goat had killed an animal of some sort. He nudged it with his muddy boot. No, this wasn't even remotely alive, there was no blood, and it resembled the shape of a box. No animal he'd ever seen. Where had it come from? He glanced up at the tree trunk, and his hand ran over a thick knot where a deep hole had once been, but had ripped open when the trunk split and fell. His brows furrowing, he bent to pick up this strange offering from his apple tree.
A rawhide thong that had once held the bundle together tore loose with scarcely a touch, and the fur fell away to reveal two small books, both bound in brown leather. Neither the faces nor spines of the books held any writing whatsoever. Bashkim opened one of the volumes, his brows dipping more. It wasn't written in any language he knew, though he recognized the numbers as probable dates; why would someone write in a foreign language and hide the books in a tree trunk? He thumbed through, scanning the contents, then did the same with the other manuscript. Judging from the dates, which ranged from 1951-1970, and the handwritten entries, he concluded these likely held no historical significance. In fact, they were probably someone's diaries from long before he'd been born—back to when his parents had been children. How they'd come here or why, he knew not, and cared not. He had other things more important to think about than intruding on someone's private thoughts.
"Here, enjoy yourself," he said to the goat as he tossed the diaries into the mud at his feet. Whatever the goat didn't eat, he'd plow under the field for fertilizer. He looked up at the threatening sky once more and headed back to the house. Tomorrow they'd work on the tree; today it looked like rain.
(A/N: Thank you all for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the ride. This series has been a pleasure to write, if not always an easy task over these past few years. For those who may not have read the previous parts of the series, the list is as follows:
The Beginnings of a Death Eater
I, Too, Shall Follow
Death Eater No More
The Voldemort Diaries
Again, thank you, and I hope you join me for my new Harry Potter story. I have yet to title it, and it will not be a part of this series, so it will not have the characters I created or the events I made up. In fact, it will be about Severus and Harry—but NOT a comfort or father/son fic, as those make me a tad nauseated. I plan to take some time off, but do plan to write another fic, so if you'd like to be informed when it comes out, please subscribe to Author Alert with the button below. Cheers!)