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You never were one to join groups, were you, Theodore?

As the Slytherin boys in your house gathered together to discuss their rich lives, you were content to play Wizarding chess by yourself. You joined no clubs, had no friends, lived up to no one’s expectations but your own. Oh, how things change!

You never wanted to be a part of anything, but here you are, caught in a battle you spent your life hoping you could avoid. You press your back against the stone wall of a familiar hallway in Hogwarts, your home for the past seven years. Your pulse flutters unsteadily as the blood flows through your veins. Past the tapestry that shields you from view, you can hear the sound of exploding spells and see the lights pour around the tapestry. Red and orange and that one shade of green you remember, oh, so well.

You do remember, don’t you, Theodore?

You creep down the stairs, your knees shaking. Your trembling hand reaches forward to brush the tapestry aside. A Death Eater runs past. He is supposed to be your ally. After all, his dark cloak is the same as the one that conceals your body, and his mask is the one you wear pressed against your face, catching your eyelashes each time you blink. And the mark tattooed on your left arm is the same—a shackle to the master you both must serve until death, whether his or your own. But you feel no need to join the Death Eater as he spins his wand, curses his opponent with both word and spell, so eager and ready to give his life fighting to see the Muggleborns destroyed, to declare the Dark Lord the ruler of the wizarding world, to see the world he has painted for them exist.

Do you hate Muggleborns?

Do you want the Dark Lord to win?

They are questions that you had never really bothered to answer before, but now they echo hauntingly in your mind, demanding an answer that you have not given, not in seventeen years.

Before, you never took people’s sides, not once. It wasn’t that you were afraid to disagree; it was simply that you had no opinion. Right and wrong were just matters of perspective, and you never cared to consider what your perspective was. You never agreed, nor did you disagree, only nodded your head and turned back to your chess board. The queens and rooks and hapless kings had no opinions. They were merely silent and followed a predictable set of rules, forever mundane and boring. Yes, you liked that.

You devoted yourself to the mundane. Schoolwork. Chess. Trips to Hogsmeade you spent alone. The mundane is predictable and safe, and when you invest your mind into you, you can forget.

Do you remember, Theodore?

Please, tell me, you remember.

The hallway seems empty now. The fighting has moved on; you can still hear it on the floors above and below. The walls of Hogwarts shudder and groan, as though the ancient spirit of this place is being shattered by each life being taken. You creep forward into the empty hall, safe but for how long?

You had never given much thought to death. But you know that death awaits you now, whether or not it comes with this battle, whether or not it comes in physical form or a slow more revengeful sort. Whoever wins this battle, some sort of death awaits you.

If your side wins—are they your side?—the Dark Lord will reign over you and you will forever be a slave. If the side against the Dark Lord—the good side, or so they think (but are they?)—should win, you will be branded forever as a servant of their greatest enemy, punished for the crimes you committed and given a life in Azkaban. They won’t care you that you had no choice; because you did have a choice.

You did.

Perhaps it is true what they say about your life flashing before your eyes before you die, because as you walk down the hall, you remember things you swore you never would.

You are hiding beneath the couch when he comes home. In your arms is your favorite toy, the Hippogriff you named Feathers. You hear yelling and you pull yourself deeper into the shadows, putting your finger to your nose and telling Feathers not to say a word. You are hiding, you explain to the toy, and you don’t want to be found. Oh how things start young.

Feathers, your only friend, only ruffles his wings noiselessly.

You hear boots upon the wood floor of your rich home. You see the hem of a dark robe, and you clamp a hand to your mouth, unsure why you want to scream.

“Don’t be afraid,” you tell Feathers.

You are young, not old enough to understand that sound travels, even out of a place as safe as beneath your couch.

“Theodore, come out from beneath there,” your father orders.

You are disappointed. He does not bend down to peer into your world and smile at you, doesn’t beckon you to come out with promises of biscuits and milk, doesn’t crawl beneath the tall couch with you. Someone else did, but never him.


You know by the tone in his voice, he will not ask again. You leave Feathers beneath the couch, so at least he can be safe. You shimmy out on your belly and rise to stand before your father.

He does not smile as he sits down and pulls you on his lap. His knee is bony and his grip is tight, but you know better than to squirm. You sit on one knee; your father’s left arm lays across the other. And then he is talking with words you do not understand, not yet at least.

“I can’t believe the Dark Lord is truly gone. For six months I have searched in vain for some trace of where he might have gone, and I must give up that search.” Your father releases you and pulls back his left sleeve. It is the first time you see it. A skull engulfing a snake is branded upon your father’s skin. You don’t know why, but the sight of it makes you want to cry.

“But mark my words, Theodore, no
child defeated our master.” Your father clenches a fist and as his muscles tense in his left arm, the snake writhes about. You jerk away from it, but your father doesn’t notice.

“One day he will return.” Your father says it so passionately that though you don’t know what he’s talking about, you know it is important, you know that your father believes it, and if he believes it, it must be true. “And when he does, I will gladly serve him again. We’ll serve him together, Theodore.” He hugs you tight in excitement and runs a finger down your left arm; it is bare, but you know he’s imagining that mark on your own arm.

You gaze at his mark. The dark holes of the skull bore into you, viciously, evilly. And then you begin to cry. Your father shakes you harshly, which only makes you cry harder.

“What’s wrong with you?” your father demands.

But there is nothing wrong with you. You are right to cry, and even then you know it.

“Stop this now!”

Arms surround you and pull you away. “He’s just a baby!” a voice scolds.

The owner of that voice holds you close. You smell her rich perfume—a mixture of flowers and scented oils—and find it comforting.

Being a Death Eater was all your father ever wanted from you; you knew that even then.

Most fathers wanted nothing more than for their sons to be something worth being proud of, and your father was no different. But where most fathers found pride in their child being a Healer, Ministry worker, or shop keeper, your father wanted you to be nothing more than a Death Eater, wanted nothing more than for you to be a betrayer, torturer, murderer.

But no, it wasn’t that. His desires for you were simpler, more human than that. The typical desires of man who has grown so old he sees his mortality painted before him and knows his only chance of surviving is through his son.

It was why he wanted you to bear the mark of a man he served. He wanted to have his name—Theodore Nott, Jr—wanted you to look like him—and you did. He wanted you to be just like him.

You knew that then, as you saw your two arms side-by-side. It is a lot of expectations to lay upon a two-year-old. Perhaps that is why you spent so many years avoiding everybody—so that their expectations would be avoided as well.

But you always knew you couldn’t run forever.

“He’s back, Theodore,” your father says to you, at the end of your fourth year. You can hear the excitement in his voice, see it in his sparkling eyes. You keep your face blank in an unreadable mask, so he does not know that all you feel is sick.

“This time…,” he begins, and he has to start over for his voice is drowned in such enthusiasm his words are lost. “This time he’ll win!”

You say nothing, but deep inside, you hope your father is wrong.

Your father looks you over, head to toe. “How unfortunate that you’re so young. If only you were older, you could serve him with me.” He frowns unhappily for a moment, but then he adds, “You’ll be seventeen soon enough, and then you’ll swear your allegiance.”

I won’t, you almost say, but you do not. You swallow that desire down, because though you never cared to please people, you didn’t exactly want to disappoint them either.

You thought once about running. As the war grew worse and your seventeenth birthday grew close, you even packed a few of your belongings into a small bag. You shrank your chess board, lovingly placed it within, and covered it with a few shirts and a couple pair of pants. Funny that in nearly seventeen years it was all you owned that you truly cared about. You sat on the bed; it was a Saturday and all your roommates were gone. The room was empty, silent, and cold—as it always seemed to be in the Slytherin dorm.

You had planned to head into Hogsmeade and, from there, walk to a place where the Knight Bus could pick you up. It was where your plan had ended, for you had no place to go, no family or friends that would offer you sanctuary. You thought and you thought, scarcely able to breath, the decision was so heavy. When it came time to leave—least you miss all chance—you stood, turned towards your bag, and began to unpack.

You were too scared to fight against that fear. You never were a Gryffindor, but now you wish you had been.

Because if you were a Gryffindor, you might have had the courage to run away, to choose between right and wrong, to say no.

It is your seventeenth birthday, the day you came of age. Most father’s threw their sons a party or took them to the Leaky Cauldron to buy them their first drink. You father takes you to meet the Dark Lord.

He was nothing like what you expected him to be, though you’re not sure what that was. The way your father described him made him seem like a kingly hero, handsome, dark, and oh so powerful. But the man that stands before you hardly looks like that. He doesn’t look like a
man at all. He looks more like a thing. You take in his flat face and his narrow red eyes and fight down an insane urge to laugh. There is absolutely nothing humorous about him—the Dark Lord is a fearsome creature—but at the same time, you feel this is something worth mocking in him.

This is what your father serves? What your father worships like he’s God himself?

You bite your lower lip to keep back the desire, and you remember why you have come. You don’t feel like laughing anymore. In the same way you did when you were two, you feel like wailing…until she comes to save you.

But she isn’t there to save you anymore.

And for a time, you remember.

“Bow,” your father hisses.

You don’t want to. You remember why you hate your father and the man he serves. And you will not bend a knee to them, after what they did!

Bow, Theodore, something tells you, because if you don’t, you will die.

You are too afraid not to, and so you bend at the waist. You bow, and you hate yourself for it.

“So this is your son,” the Dark Lord says, and his voice is like the snake he is. “Tell me, Theodore Nott, have you come to swear your allegiance?”

To say no is to die. Yet one part of you longs to scream it. And another part of you shakes in fear. You are seventeen years old and you are far too young to have a choice between whether you live or die. How can anyone blame you for being afraid?

For a long moment you are torn.

No, no, your heart begs.

“Yes,” your lips say.

You make yourself forget. It’s too painful to remember, and no one can blame you for that either

“Your arm,” he orders. It’s your first command.

You pull back your sleeve. The Dark Lord—your lord now—seizes your wrist. You take one last look at the bare flesh of your forearm. You want to remember it like that—pure, untainted, innocent. The tip of his wand stabs into your arm, and he speaks a spell.

It hurt. My God, it hurts! You bite down on the inside of your cheek to keep from screaming.

Then it is done. Your Dark Mark is there. It is your shackle binding you to your master.

And you are a slave.

You have lost track of where you are going, caught in the memories flashing before your eyes, running this way and that to avoid the battles around you. You see that you have found your way upstairs to the seventh floor. You hear the distant battle, but right here in this place, you are safe. So you pause for a moment and reach towards your left arm, pulling away the sleeve and stare at what you have kept carefully hidden.

The Mark upon your arm doesn’t just mark you as a servant of the Dark Lord. It marks you as what your father has raised you to be, has wanted you to be, has honed and hued and created you to be. And you know now.

For someone who never wanted to live up to anyone’s expectations, you did, Theodore. You lived up to everyone of them.

You did everything that was expected of you. You got good grades, were one of the cleverest in the class, and never got in trouble. You played bloody chess and disappeared into the faces around you, wearing a mask that reflected back only what people wanted to see. You dated only pureblood girls. Daphne Greengrass lasted a week, one Slytherin girl who you could scarcely remember the name of lasted three days. You even dated Pansy Parkinson once, but that was an event best not remembered.

Tracey Davis lasted five months before she told you she loved you. When you didn’t say it back, she left you with nothing more than a slapped face and the sight of her tears. You broke her heart, and you never cared. She had only ever been what was expected of you.

There has only been one time when you did something unexpected, and it was unexpected even to you. You never meant to. It was unplanned, unanticipated, and unavoidable. But that is how love is.

And that’s what you did, Theodore.

You fell in love.

The queen slides across the black squares. She swings her sword at the pawn’s head. He squeaks and ducks, but this is not the white queen, and the black queen shows no mercy. The pawn falls with a cry of horror. The queen proudly takes her spot, but a white knight comes galloping on his horse and tramples her down.

You blink, for you hadn’t given the knight an order. You look up. You hadn’t noticed her approach, but there she stands, practically hidden by the large stack of book she holds in her arms. Her brown hair is collected in a short, messy braid and a pair of glasses sits crookedly on her nose, framing her wide blue eyes. She wears a bashful smile.

“Sorry, I…couldn’t resist,” she says, blushing.

You eye the chessboard. “Checkmate,” you murmur.

You stare at her in curiosity, and her pale cheeks turn pink again. She is a Ravenclaw. You know that more by the tower of books in her arms than the trim of blue on her school robes. She’s in your year, but you’ve never noticed her before.

She twirls a loose strand of hair around her finger, expertly balancing all those books in one arm. “I’m…um…on the chess club,” she mentions shyly.

“Oh,” is all you say.

“Anyways,” she says awkwardly, and then she starts to leave.

And you are asking, “Do you want to play?”

Your question startles you, and you are unsure why you even said it. You hardly remember playing anyone, and you liked it that way. But you’ve asked her, and you don’t want to take it back.

She hesitates, then nods. You stand and take her books from her, setting them on the table. She stretches a hand towards you. It is small and dainty, and you feel like you might crush it as you shake it.

“Lisa Turpin,” she says with a smile.
You think she has a beautiful smile, and then you think that you’ve never thought something so ridiculous.

“Theodore Nott,” you say.

“Theo?” she experiments, twirling the name around on her tongue.

It startles you; only one person ever called you that. “No. Theo

“Theodore,” she corrects.

She settles into her chair, but that smile has disappeared now and you are very disappointed.

She shifts anxiously, and her blue eyes stare at your Slytherin badge so fiercely you long to spread your fingers over it and hide it from view.

“There’s just one thing,” she says, and you’re not sure you want to hear it.

“Yes?” you inquire.

She takes a deep breath and exhales the words, “I’m a Muggleborn.”

Your mind echoes the word. Muggleborn. Muggleborn.
Mudblood. She was the thing you were taught to hate, an expectation written down squarely before you as though it was written in blood. You think one fearful thought, What if my father knew?

Yet you feel no disgust. The girl certainly doesn’t look like something worthy of being despised. She is a sixteen year old girl caught between plain and pretty, but you reckon she’s more of the later.

“Is that a problem?” she asks, for you have said nothing for a long time.

“No,” you lie.

It was the biggest lie you had ever told. Her being a Muggleborn was the biggest problem in the entire world. If your father knew…if any of the other Slytherins found out…but no one ever did.

You kept meeting for a game of chess, in more private places than the library. You would play, and she would beat you every time. You always said you wouldn’t stop until you beat her, but the truth was, you didn’t mind losing.

She was smart, so very smart. No matter how well you got to know her, how well you began to predict her moves in chess, she would always know one move more. But it wasn’t all about chess. Quite often, while you were together, you began to hold conversations that would become so intense that you would often forget whose turn it was to play. But mainly you liked to watch her—watch her bite her lower lip, twirl a strand of hair about her fingertips, her cheeks highlight in crimson as she caught you staring, and her lips curl into a smile at you when she thought you weren’t looking.

You didn’t dare call her ‘friend’, no not a Mudblood, but she was the closest thing you had ever come to having one in your entire life. You liked the way you began to smile when she smiled and laugh when she laughed. The first time you laughed with her, you almost scared yourself. You hardly recognised the sound of your own laughter.

You liked being with her, because you were different with her.

Maybe that was why you dreamed of her at night, or why every time she bit down on that bottom lip you wanted to kiss her.

Or maybe it was because you were falling in love with her.

You were, Theodore.

You were.

But you wouldn’t admit you loved her. Not until it was too late.

It is the end of your sixth year, and you dread going home. Because when you go home, it will be your seventeenth birthday, and you know what happens then. But here you are in Hogsmeade, safe for a least a little while yet, and Lisa is at your side, pulling you enthusiastically by the hand from one store to the next. Today, at least, is a good day.

At least until she asks that question.

“Theodore, what happened to your mother?”

You shut the book in your hands with a snap. “What?” You try to ask it sharply, so she knows better than to repeat the question, but it comes out as a wheeze, as though she punched you in the gut.

She innocently doesn’t realize how the question must affect you. She stands on a ladder in the bookshop, trying to reach a book on a shelf too far out of her reach. Her cheeks are flushed with excitement, the way they always seemed to be when she was in a bookstore or library, as though the smell of parchment revitalized her flesh.

“Your mother,” she repeats. “What happened to her?”

Do you remember? a voice asks. You know you remember.

But you don’t want to.

“It’s none…” you sputter angrily, “none of your business.”

She blinks down at you, clearly taken back by your fierce response. She climbs down, no book in hand, so she can look up at you. She only comes up to your chest, and she looks so sweet and innocent, you almost feel guilty.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I was just asking.” She’s playing with her hair again, a sure sign that she’s nervous. “’s just…you never talk about her. And I wondered.”

You grit your teeth and say nothing.

“Does it have something to do with why you can see Thestrals?”

She is too smart, far too smart for her own good, because she knows what you won’t allow yourself to know. Because in that class, in fifth year, the class Lisa remembered, you stepped forward. When asked who had seen death, you stepped forward.

Because you remember, don’t you, Theodore?

She is forcing you to remember, and that hurts, it hurts so much. And for a moment, you hate her for it. It is not a moment that lasts long, but it only takes a second to destroy everything.

“I said, mind your own business,

Her eyes go wide with surprise and hurt. She shoves you, hard enough for you to fall into the bookshelf. She runs to the door, but not fast enough that you don’t see the tears that roll down her eyes.

You broke her heart. And with it, you broke your own.

It seems so cruel, so wretched unfair, that it is your father’s world that has taken the most precious thing to you. You never would have said it, if you hadn’t been taught to hate her, if you didn’t belong to a world where loving her wasn’t forbidden.

That was the same day you tried to run away from the world that had destroyed all you ever cared about.

But you already know how well that turned out.

You see someone coming, and you almost run back down the stairs you’ve climbed, but you recognize them.


You duck behind a statue, not wanting to be seen by him. You’re not afraid of him. Draco Malfoy is your equal, your mirror image. You are utterly different in personality and appearance, but in some ways you are utterly the same. Your father’s are both Death Eaters, who had served the Dark Lord faithfully and raised their boys to do the same. You have both received the same pressure, the same do-or-die choice, and you had both chosen life.

How could you hate him when he was you?

It is why you leave your hiding place. He looks startled to see you, but he settles his face back in the sneer he always wears.

“Nott, shouldn’t you be off fighting some Mudblood?”

“Shouldn’t you?” you respond coolly.

He only narrows his eyes in a glare. “If you are going to be useless, get out of my way. I’m rather busy.”

But you don’t move, because you must ask him a question. “Why are we fighting, Draco?”

Malfoy takes a step back, startled by the question, then he snaps quickly, “To see the Dark Lord win, of course. To destroy the Mudbloods and return the world to the purebloods, as it should belong.”

“No.” It’s the pretty truth, and it’s a lie, at least for them. Boys like them didn’t fight for the greater good of things. They didn’t risk their life for ‘noble’ causes. That task was left up to people like Potter and Granger and Weasley. But not the likes of you. “Why are you really fighting?”

“Because…” Malfoy admits, honestly this time, “Because I don’t want to die.”

And there it is. It is your answer too, but it is cowardly and selfish. Here in this last battle where it would all be decided, it no longer seems like enough. “Is it worth it?” you ask Malfoy, but you are really asking yourself. “Not dying. Is it worth the world that will be created if he wins?”

Was it worth losing what it has already cost you?

It is a question you need an answer for, but are not ready to answer. Neither is Malfoy, for he angrily shoves you. “Get out of my way. You’re crazy!”

You let him pass, and he storms off, ready to fight a war so that he might live to turn eighteen. You walk on, not sure eighteen is a number worth seeing.

A house elf enters your room. He fidgets uneasily, and he is right to be nervous. You are about to hiss at him for entering uninvited, but he is speaking, “Master, this pretty lady says she want to see you. Should Lemmy let her in?”

“Who?” you demand.

“Says her name Turnip, sir.”

“Turnip?” Nobody is named Turnip, at least, not someone you have any wish to speak to. And then you have a thought, one that makes your blood race. “You mean…Turpin?”

“Yes, sir.” He bobs his head.

You are on your feet, shoving past the house elf and bounding down the stairs, so eager to see her face. But at the bottom of the steps, you stop and your blood that ran so warmly a moment ago, turns cold. She shouldn’t be here. How had she even found you, anyways? But you don’t search too long for an answer. She is smart, so very smart.

But not so smart as to know better than to come here. You father is away on business, but he could return at any moment. And if he found her here, if he realized she was a Muggleborn…

You look about to ensure the house is empty, then dart to the door. You open it briskly. Sure enough, she is there, dressed in Muggle garb. Her hair is loose for once, pouring out of a knit cap like waves of chocolate.

“What are you doing here?” You sound like you’re not happy to see her, but you are.

But not here, not now. Not after what you’ve become.

“I came because I decided to forgive you,” she says boldly, as though she is wholly confident, but she is twirling her hair and you know better.

No, she is supposed to hate you for what you have done.

“You can’t just forgive me,” you protest.

“Well, I did.”

She says it as though it’s the end of the discussion. It is just the beginning.

“What if I’m not sorry?”

“You are.”

She is so sure. She knows you that well, but you don’t even know how that’s possible when
you don’t know you that well.

“You have to leave,” you insist.

“Why?” she demands.

“I don’t want you here.”

Her eyes fill with pain, but she doesn’t budge; she reaches forth her hand and wraps it about your left arm.

You jerk away, hissing in pain and surprise. “Don’t touch me.”

It was a mistake, because she is just too damnably smart. Swiftly she seizes your arm and yanks back the sleeve. You free yourself in moments, but a moment is all she needed.

Tears fill her eye just like last time. Instead of running, she flings herself at you, pounding her fists against your chest. You could easily have stopped her, but you don’t. You deserve it.

“I trusted you!” she screams. “I forgave you! I—I loved you!”

You don’t deserve to be loved by someone as wonderful as her. But you have the desire to wrap your arms about her and kiss her with everything in you.
I love you, you want to say. Please, please, I love you.

The words never leave your mouth, because you are a monster, because if your father comes home he will kill her. And so you say the only words that you know will get her to run back to safety.

“I could never love a Mudblood like you.”

You catch her wrists and throw her out of the house, the home of a Death Eater where she does not belong. You slam the door in her face, pull out your wand and mumble a charm to lock the door. She pounds her fist against the door, throws her body weight against it, sobbing, screaming, and you press your hands against the shuttering door to hold it together. And then you hear the pop as she Apparates away, and this time, you know she isn’t coming back.

This time you have lost her for good.

You’ve lost…everything.

You fall to your knees and cry.

The walls of Hogwarts explode from the outside in. Rocks fly and dust rains. You feel stones against your skin, sharp as steel as it slices your hands. You dive blindly through an open doorway. You roll away from the showering rock that threatens to crush you. Somewhat safe, you push yourself to your knees and look out of the room. The rocks stop.

From somewhere down the hall you hear the heartbreaking cry of someone sobbing.

”No! Fred! No!”

The cries are so intense, you know that this Fred will not answer the cry. He will not move or laugh or love again.

And how many more will die before the end?

Is it worth it, Theodore?

Was it worth losing Lisa Turpin? Was it worth forcing yourself to forget?

Tell me, Theo, do you remember?

Do you remember me?

Her hand slides through your hair, and her touch is so tender, you do not doubt that by this woman you are loved, you are completely and utterly adored. And there is no love so pure or true as the love of a mother for her child.

You are lying on your bed, and you cling to Feathers. Your mother hums softly, the first notes of her lullaby, but you are not ready to hear it. There are questions in your mind.

They had fought again, and at three, you hardly understand why they fight so much. Mummies and daddies are supposed to be in love, but love doesn’t look like that.

“Mummy,” you say. “Why do you and Daddy hate each other?”

She seems taken aback by the question, but she quickly forces a relaxed smile on her face. Your mother is beautiful. Her hair is blonde—so unlike your own dark locks—and it frames her face like sunlight. Her eyes are blue—like a girl named Lisa’s who you will love one day. She carries her chin high, for she is a proud, strong woman, but when she looks at you, her eyes dance.

That’s love, you know. But she has never looked at your father like that.

“Why do you think we hate each other, Theo?” She’s the only one who ever calls you Theo.

“Because you fight all the time.”

She gives a weary sigh. “Your father and I…have our disagreements.”

“What does that mean?”

She doesn’t explain, only lays down beside you on the large bed. You roll into her side and rest your head on her shoulder. Her long fingers trail through your hair. You breathe in her comforting scent, the scent of your mummy, and you feel so very safe, as you always feel when she is near. For a moment, you think you can fall asleep—her touch is so soothing, her love so tender, that it makes it easy for dreams to draw near. But she is talking, and you know by her voice that you must listen.

“Promise me you will remember this, Theo.”

And you make a promise, one you don’t keep. Not until a moment in an empty room where you stay upon your knees, too broken to stand.

“Everyone wears masks, Theodore,” she says. “What matters is who we are when we take them off.”

She kisses your forehead, murmurs her love for you, and sings you your lullaby…one last time.

You put your face in your hands, a part of you wanting to scream and sob with the voice that still echoes down the hall. Here in the moment you need her the most, there is no mother to comfort you, no unconditional love to keep you safe from all the harm that might come to you, no mother with the power to make things right, as mothers always do.

And I’m so sorry, Theo.

For the first time, you know all too well what your mother meant. We all wear masks, every one of us. Your father wore one, as he pretended to be a powerful, well-respected man in the Wizarding world, when beneath it he loved the dark and worshipped the man who was master of it. Even your mother wore one, pretending to love a man who was old enough to be her father, who thought of her as nothing more than a womb to carry his son. When in the truth, beneath her well rehearsed mask, she despised him, and only stayed because she loved her son.

And you, Theodore, wear the most convincing mask at all. You wore one that changed to reflect back whatever anymore wanted to see. For your classmates, it was a powerful, pureblood Slytherin, so much cleverer than the rest. For Lisa, it was something better than what you really were. And for your father, you wore the mask of a Death Eater.

You lift your finger and stroke the cool porcelain mask, but you don’t even know who you are without it. You are almost eighteen years old, and you have no idea who you are.

But who do you want to be, Theodore?

You think of Lisa, of the way she looked at you with blushing cheeks and a beautiful smile, and wonder what it is she saw in you. And you wish you could be who you were in her eyes. But you cannot. You are the son of a Death Eater, the son of your father, something evil and worthy of destruction. And how can you possibly be redeemed from that?

You look up. A blur of blue and brown runs past the door and as swiftly as it passes, you are on your feet, running to the door and into the hallway. You trip over the ruins of rock or rubble, but quickly catch your balance and watch her turn your corner. You don’t see her face. You only see her slender shoulders and messy brown braid—but that is all you need to see, to know who it is.


You had always wondered what had happened to her this last year, for she had not returned to Hogwarts. It wasn’t safe for those the Dark Lords deemed impure. You knew enough the Death Eater reports that she was not among those being captured and tried for stealing someone else’s magic. She must have been in hiding, somewhere safe from harm. But here she had come running back, to fight in this last battle.

She should never have come.

You run after her, not sure why, but you are propelled forward after her as though you have no choice. She runs down the stairs, and you chase after her, still too far away for her to notice her pursuer. You reach the fourth floor, and she leaves the staircase, racing along the corridor. You race down corridors, and from around the corner steps a cloaked figure, his face hidden in the Death Eater’s mask, and he lifts his wand towards Lisa.

She crumples like a rag doll, landing on the cold floor. Her screams of anguish reverberate against the halls, and you feel her pain like jagged talons ripping your soul apart.


At first you think the word was only screamed inside your heart, but you know better. For the first time, the word of objection has left your mouth. The Death Eater turns, the Unforgivable spell ends, and Lisa stops her screams.

The Death Eater beckons you forward, and you don’t know why you come—why you are still so damnedly obedient. But you come to stand between him and Lisa.

You’re not sure who the Death Eater is, until he speaks your name. “Theodore.”

“Father,” you respond coldly.

You have never hated him so much as now, when you know how much he hurt Lisa. But you would not let him hurt her again!

That is not his intention.

“Come on, Theodore! Finish it!”

You know what he is asking of you, and you turn your head sharply towards Lisa. Her glasses are missing and she scrunches up her face in order to see you properly, and you wish she never had to see you like this—wearing your mask when she was perhaps the only person, besides your mother, who might have loved with for what was behind your mask. But there is no hate or disgust in her eyes, there is only sadness. You wonder for a moment if maybe, just maybe, she still loves you.

But it is a hope you don’t put much stalk in, especially as she raises her wand.

You raise your own—only to defend yourself—but your father is quicker.


Her wand flies away, and she is helpless. Standing before the two Death Eaters, she looks like a frightened rabbit before two vicious dogs. But you will never hurt her. Except you have, so many times.

She doesn’t run, as you want to beg her to. She squares her jaw, determined to face what is to come, and you know, there is a bit of Gryffindor in this one.

“Finish her!” your father orders again. “She is nothing more than a filthy Mudblood! Now, kill her!”

He will be so proud of you do it, but Lisa would be gone. You look from one to the other—from the man who wore a mask to the witch who had never once needed to. And you realize there is a choice before you.

There is no more hiding, Theodore, not under a couch or behind a chess board or behind your mask. There is no more running, because there is nowhere left to run to. There is just this one choice.

Everyone wears a mask, Theo. You recall the words. What matters is who we are when we take them off.

You pull the mask off your face, wondering who you are beneath of it.

Who do you want to be, Theo?

You let the Death Eater mask fall from your fingers and it shatters upon the ground. You feel twenty pounds lighter now that it is gone. But still you are unsure.

You look at your father who demands, “What are you doing?”

And then you look at Lisa, who simply murmurs, “Theo, please.”

Then it is all so very clear.

You lift your wand and fire a spell. It lands in your father’s chest. His feet leave the ground and he flies backwards, slamming into the wall so hard his mask tumbles from his face and breaks on the floor. He is quickly on his feet, his wand pointing mercilessly at you. You step before Lisa, wrap your hand about her arm, and shield her with your body.

“You will not touch her,” you say firmly, and you know, you will kill him before he touches her again.

“Why are you doing this?” he snarls, and his voice is filled with hurt and betrayal, but you do not care. You hate him; you have always hated him.

“Why?” Your voice is loud now, crying words you have held back your entire life. And it feels good; my God, it feels so good. “Why?”

Your father only narrows his eyes, not even venturing a guess. But he knows, Theo. He hasn’t forgotten either.

“Because I remember!” you scream. “I remember!”

”Theodore, wake up!” she beckons, shaking you awake. There is such fear and urgency in her voice that you are instantly awake.

“Mummy,” you murmur fearfully.

“We’re leaving.” She throws back your covers. The only light is that from her wand, but it highlights her red face. She has been crying, but she is not sad now; she is desperate.

“Where are we going, Mummy?”

“Away,” is all she says. “Far, far away.”

She pulls you into her arms. You cling to Feathers, who peaks your face in agitation. She doesn’t stop to grab any of your other toys, but strides from the room and runs down the marble steps. As she heads towards the door, you realize she is taking nothing with her…nothing but you, for in all her rich and wonderful possession, you are all she cannot live without.

She grabs her and your cloaks in a closet by the door and throws them both around you. She should not have taken the time, for from around the corner, walks your father. He is moving unsteadily and he leans against the door, holding his head as though he’s dizzy. Your mother freezes as his eyes open and lock upon her with such hate your knees shake.

“This is what you plan to do, Evelyn?” he asks, his voice vicious. “Stun me and leave with my son.”

She does not lie; her mask is off for the first time. “Yes.” She whirls towards the door, yanks it open, but a spell comes behind her, like a forceful wind, and slams the door shut again.

“You will not take my son from me!” he screams.

She grows so tense, and you don’t like the look that enters her eyes, a mixture of fear and determination. She kisses your cheek, her lips trembling, then sets you down. “Go hide, Theo,” she whispers in your ear.

You race into the next room and slide under the couch, because you are safe there. You tell Feathers to be quiet; your mother has told you to hide.

In the next room, you hear explosions. Colorful lights lighten up the darkness, and you hear their words behind her.

“You’re a monster!” she screams. “I will not stay any longer! And I am taking my son with me!”

“I will not let you leave!” he cries back. “I will kill you first!”

There are more explosions, and then you see her run into the room. You peek out at her, but all you see are her feet.

“Crucio!” your father cries.

She falls upon the floor and her screams make you cry.

“Stop it,” you sob, but your words cannot be heard over her cries of anguish.

“You whore!” your father yells, as he ends the spell. “How dare you try to take my son from me?”

“I’m sorry,” she sobs breathlessly. Now that she is on the ground you can glimpse her face, contorted in agony. “Please, Theodore. Please…I’m sorry.”


He makes her scream again.

You clamp a hand over your mouth to stifle the scream that tries to make its way out. In a shorter time than it seems, her yells once again end. She whimpers softly, her body broken.

“Please…,” she begs.

“You’ll only try to take him again!”

“No…no,” she says. She is lying; of course she would. You want her to. You close your eyes and wish you were both a million miles away.

“Liar,” he says this time, but he is not outraged. He is carefully calculative. “And I can’t let that happen. I won’t let you take him.”

“Please… no…”

You want to plead with her.

But he doesn’t hear her cries for mercy, for she has committed a crime that is unworthy of forgiveness.

He snarls, “Avada Kedavra!”

The world flashes green—the most horrible shade of green you have ever seen—and it lights up the dark room, shining up your mother’s face that is contorted in pain, pain of a wife who was murdered by the man who swore to love her, the pain of a mother who will never see her child grow.

You scream, scream for your mother to move, scream for her to come rescue you, but she does not move. Still you cry, still you beg, but nothing you do can bring her back now.

Your father comes to you, kneels down beside the couch, and pulls you out from underneath—you leave Feathers there, and never, ever return to get him. For at least he can be safe forever; you already know you’ll never be safe again. You fight against your father, trying to be free of him, trying to run to your mother. But his grip is tight and he walks you back up the steps. He lays you in the bed, but he does not lie next to you or sing you a lullaby. Lullabies are for the innocent, and your innocence as been stolen away.

You are still sobbing, shaking. He shushes you, and if you didn’t know better, it might have sounded soothing.

“It was just a nightmare,” he says, and he says it over and over and over again, until you slowly stop crying, slowly begin to fall to sleep, slowly began to believe that it is a nightmare.

But when you wake the next morning and race to find your mother, she is not there. Your father tells you she left during the night, abandoned you both for another man.

And you believed him, because it was easier than the truth. But you never really forgot, Theodore.

You remembered.

You remembered me.

“You killed her!” you scream the words you have kept silent so very long. “You killed my mother! It wasn’t just a nightmare! I saw you! I remember!”

“She deserved it. She was trying to take you from me,” he tries to reason, as though anything he says can make up for what he did.

“I hate you!” is all you say in response. “I hate you for taking my mother from me! I hate you for making me into a Death Eater! I hate you and the man you serve!”

They are words of defiance, words that taste like heaven as they leave your lips. Your father’s face contorts in rage and hate, because his love was only ever conditional anyways.

“I’ll teach you respect, boy!”

But your mouth is quicker. “Crucio!

You want him to hurt, as he hurt your mother, as he hurt you. Because you never were good enough for him. You listen to him scream, and you love the sound, because for once, you can’t still hear your mother scream.

Hands wrap about your wrist. You turn her head, but don’t end the spell. She stands by your side, her eyes pleading.


“He deserves it.”

“I know, but you’re not him. Please stop.”

And you do, because she wants you to, because she believes you’re better than that, better than him. You want her to be right.

Your father begins to climb to his feet, but your spell is quick. “Stupefy!

He slumps on the floor, unconscious. Your hand wraps around Lisa’s fingertips and you pull her with you as you begin to run. You don’t know how far you run, but soon you are in an empty hallway, having a moment’s peace.

She stands next to you, staring at you as though you are a new creature. There is so much to tell her. You want her to know why you became a Death Eater, you want to tell her about your mother, you want to tell her everything. But you only have time for the most important thing.

“I’m sorry.”

Her kiss is the sweetest forgiveness you have ever known. The kiss is quick, and when she pulls away, her pale cheeks are scarlet. You stare at her for a long moment, too surprised to move. She bites her bottom lip and this time you cannot resist.

You are kissing her, your hand pushing into her messy braid and your arm sweeping around her waist. You pull her close, kissing her so fiercely she stumbles back and presses her back against the wall. Then her slender arms slip around your neck and returns your kiss. There is a passion in that kiss, as though you are both making up for every kiss you have missed when you were worlds apart. I love you, you want to say, but you are too busy kissing her.

There is an explosion from down the hall, and you break apart as two Death Eaters run into the hall. Both of you pull your wands, and then you are fighting together. She fights for her greater sense of good—like everyone else fights. But not you. You don’t fight for a better world. You fight for your world. You fight for Lisa, and you fight for the mother who was taken from you.

The Death Eaters fall and you race through the halls, until you find another fight. You are dizzy, intoxicated, feeling so very brave fighting by the side of the woman you love. There’s a bit of Gryffindor in you, after all, Theodore.

But it all comes to a screeching halt as the world goes green. And your world, your Lisa, falls to the ground.

“No!” Your scream echoes through the hall. You fall to your knees beside her, pull her into your arms. “Please, Lisa, please.” But no matter how you scream, no matter how you love her or she loves you, she cannot come back now.

A Death Eater comes forward, and your spell prevents you from moving. You can’t even speak to tell him he didn’t need it. You would not have tried to escape; you are done running.

Two Death Eaters drag you by your arms down several flights of stairs, out of the Entrance hall, and across the battlefield outside. You enter the Forbidden Forest, and it is then you realize where they are taking you. You wonder why you’re not more afraid.

They throw you at his feet and you lay motionless upon your back, staring up at the red eyes that glare down upon you without mercy. He waves his wand and you can move. You quickly rise to your feet for you know soon you won’t be able to stand.

Your father stands behind his master. His was the one to tell the Dark Lord, you know, betraying his son to the man he always adored more. Now he won’t look at you, such is his shame, and you are proud to be the kind of person your father is ashamed to call his son.

“I hear you were fighting with a Mudblood,” the Dark Lord says. “Is this true?”

There is no shame, no fear as you speak. “Yes.” You would fight for that Mudblood for as long as you breathe.

The Dark Lord’s curse is stronger, more powerful, more hate-filled than any that has ever been cast. You fall, but you do not scream. You bite on your tongue until the metallic taste of blood floods your mouth, but you will not give him the satisfaction of hearing you scream. His torture goes on for what seems like an eternity and then finally it stops.

“Stand,” the Dark Lord commands.

You refuse.

The curse comes again, and after it is finished, he gives the command. You hate giving him the satisfaction, but still you stand.

“I will give you one last chance, Nott,” the Dark Lord says. “Bow to me and swear your allegiance…or die.”

You do not bend at the waist; you do not speak.

“Bow to your lord,” your father hisses.

Lord? The Dark Lord he is indeed, but he is not your lord anymore. If you are to die, you will die a free man.

You say the word you wished you had said a year ago, “No.” It tastes like honey, as wonderful and intoxicating as Lisa Turpin’s lips.

“What?” Voldemort demands.

“No,” you say it again, and you love it so much you scream it, over and over. “No, no, no, no!”

Voldemort points his wand and hisses, “Avada Kedavra!

Your world has ended three times, once when your mother died, once when Lisa Turpin fell, and now you are dying again—one last time. And each time it has ended with a flash of green. You see it now; it blinds you.

It is true what they say about your life flashing for your eyes. And it does.

You are two years old, hiding on the couch with your mother and Feathers, singing songs and talking about the world. You are three years old, feeling your mother’s soft fingertips run through your hair and listening to her lullaby. You are eleven years old feeling the Sorting hat put on your head, hearing it bark “Slytherin”. You are fourteen playing with your chess board. You are seventeen, kissing Lisa Turpin.

And then you are engulfed in green and you remember no more.

I wait for you in the place between heaven and earth. I’ve waited for you so long. One moment I am alone, and then I blink, and you’re there.

My son has come home.

You blink around you, confused on where you are, and then you see me. You stare, not sure you believe your eyes. Your eyes brim with tears. You come forward slowly and stand before me.

“Mum?” you ask, unable to believe that something good has happened to you in your life. But this is not your life; it is beyond it.

I wrap my arms around you. Last time I held you, you were so tiny, but now you have grown. I watched you grow, but still I can scarcely believe that my little boy is now a man. You hold me tight, breathe in my perfume, and find it comforting.

“Everyone wears a mask, Theo,” I say, because you know what the words mean now, “What matters is who you are when you take it off. And you were not a Death Eater. You were a boy who loved a Muggleborn until his last breath. You fought for the right, and you died for it. You were not your father’s son; you were my son.”

I kiss your cheek; it is wet with tears, but not tears of sorrow. No, not this time. These are tears of joy.

You step back, and soon you see that there is someone else who has been waiting for you, someone else who loves you beyond death. Lisa Turpin steps forward, takes your hand, and kisses your lips.

“I love you,” you say.

“I know.” And she does. I told her so. But she had already known before then, after all, she is so very, very smart.

On earth, they will never know what you have done. They will find you in Death Eater’s robes and bury you with all the other traitors. They won’t know, but that doesn’t matter to you. We know—Lisa and I—and we are all that matter. You were not a traitor. You were a man who gave your life doing the right thing. You are a hero, my unsung hero.

“It is time to go,” I say, and I take your other hand. It is time to move on, to the heaven you deserve, to the life you and I missed, to the life you and Lisa are destined to have together. There is no more remembering what lies behind. There is only the beauty of what lies before us.

Yes, you are a hero.

And this is your reward.

This story started as an itty bitty drabble named “My Unsung Hero”. Since that drabble, I have been head over heels for Theodore and he has remained one of my favorite characters—impressive since he was only in like two lines in the actual books. I’ve always wanted to write more on this character, and so that drabble I adored so much blossomed into this story. I hope you liked it, and I hope you’ve enjoyed Theo as much I have. I promise that it won’t be the last time I write a story with him in it.

Thanks to Elene for the amazing job she did beta-ing.

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