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Black Shadow hanging over your shoulder
Selina Goyle was absent from dinner, and after a thorough search of the Manor and the grounds, Draco could come to no other conclusion than she’d disappeared, like Elspeth had. Rose sat staring at her untouched plate of food – her appetite had vanished, fled away into the darkness of the night around them. No one spoke. There were no words, nothing to say that would change the fact that something very strange was going on, and everyone knew it.
“We may as well enjoy our meal,” Melody said in a loud voice as Draco and his wife left the room. Scorpius gave her a toxic look that she failed to notice; he scowled into his plate before pushing it away. Rose watched Lucinda reach right across Hugo and touch Scorpius on the back of the hand.
“It will be fine,” she said in a voice made of honey. “She probably changed her mind about the contest, that’s all.”
Scorpius slid his hand out from under Lucinda’s. “I’ve known her my whole life. She would tell me if she was leaving.”
Rose looked slowly around the table, noting the faces of those left. Raven Lestrange looked ill and was pushing food methodically around her plate. Her lips were moving quickly, her voice too low for anyone to hear. Melody was smiling, like nothing was wrong. Perhaps, Rose thought, in her strange little world it wasn’t. Roxanne looked miserable, Heidi grave and Lucinda was staring into her wine glass moodily. Rose wondered whether it was the situation or Scorpius’ rebuke that caused her sudden melancholy.
Sighing, Rose shovelled some food into her mouth, knowing she should eat. She had only just swallowed when Roxanne screamed and Scorpius flew to his feet.
Heidi had collapsed face first onto the table, narrowly missing impaling herself with her fork. Her head rested on her plate, food scattered around her and her eyes were closed.
“Oh Merlin,” Rose whispered, her hands trembling. Heidi’s hand, she noticed, was still curled around her wine glass and a horrible thought occurred. Rose stood up. “Don’t touch her,” she warned and everyone froze.
“We should check if she’s breathing,” Scorpius said, moving around the table to Heidi’s side. Rose pushed back her chair, pulled her wand and practically threw Scorpius across the room with the shield charm she cast around Heidi. Roxanne gasped but did not move. Scorpius slowly climbed to his feet, rubbing at his head. “What the hell did you do that for?”
“I think she’s been poisoned,” Rose said. “Look at her skin, Scorpius, the colour of her lips.” Rose let her shield fall and slowly, he looked, sucking in a breath. They had studied the effects of poisoning at Hogwarts: Rose remembered the subject well, because Scorpius had beaten her in their assignment. Heidi’s skin was tinged with green, her lips bloodless. She was breathing though – Rose could see her back lifting gently as her lungs filled with air.
Draco came rushing into the room, Hugo on his heels. Rose hadn’t even noticed her brother leave. “No one is to go anywhere,” Draco ordered, his eyes sweeping the small group. He moved to stand with his son, leaning over to quickly examine Heidi. It seemed he shared Rose’s opinion. “Don’t touch her and don’t touch anything she held, understand?” He went out again, to contact St Mungo’s and, Rose supposed, the Ministry and Heidi’s father, Viktor Krum.
Like Isobelle, Rose and Hugo had known Heidi since they were children. Hugo sat down slowly, looking at his sister in disbelief. Rose shook her head sadly, and they waited for the authorities.
Ministry officials arrived half an hour later and ordered everyone into the drawing room. Rose made sure her notepad and pen were with her before sitting down next to her brother. Scorpius was standing with his parents, to the side of the Ministry hit wizards.
“This has become a magical law enforcement matter,” one of them was saying. Rose sat scribbling in her notepad, glancing up every now and again to register the looks on people’s faces: Draco Malfoy was looking murderous, his wife, grave and Raven was muttering to herself. Lucinda sat chewing her lip and Roxanne had her head in her hands.
They look scared, Rose thought, pausing. Her eyes met Scorpius’ over Roxanne’s head. He gave her a searing look before turning his attention to the ground. He’s scared, too, Rose realised.
“We will have to seal off the Manor until we work out what is going on,” the hit-wizard continued. “Two girls cannot have just vanished.”
Malfoy Manor has been sealed off, until further notice, due to the mysterious events of the previous two days. She wrote. The culprit is as yet unidentified and the Department of Magical Law Enforcement have declared that no one else is to leave until...
“What?” Rose’s head shot up. She glanced back at her page, making sure she had heard correctly. “Did you say we can’t leave?”
“Yes, miss, none of the remaining contestants-”
“But I’m not a contestant,” she interrupted. “I work for The Daily Prophet. I’m here on assignment.”
“Nonetheless,” the hit-wizard said sternly, “everyone here is at this moment a suspect and is forbidden to leave. We do not know if the culprit acted alone, and we want to ensure that no body else gets hurt.”
Rose stood up and cleared her throat. “I have to get this to my mother and-”
“And no correspondence. Nothing goes in and nothing goes out. I will have to confiscate that,” he indicated her note pad, which Rose clutched protectively to her chest. “I’m sorry, miss.”
“Weasley,” Rose said firmly. “Rose Weasley. I believe you know my father? Ronald? And my Uncle Harry, Head of the Auror Department?”
Rose felt the prickle of shame as she declared herself and her family so openly, but these were desperate times. There was no way she was being locked inside Malfoy Manor for an indefinite period. Choosing to be here was one thing, but being made to stay was another.
“I’m Roxanne Weasley,” her cousin piped up. “Uncle Harry will not be happy to hear of this.”
“Uncle Harry would tell you to stay where you were and not hinder an investigation, Miss Weasley’s. Now sit down. I’m sorry but you are staying here like everyone else until things get sorted out.”
With a sigh, Rose sat down. Roxanne flopped into her seat, muttering. Rose caught Scorpius’ eye again and quickly looked away. She could not believe she had embarrassed herself in front of him like that, in front of all of them. Hugo snickered.
“Name dropping. Nice,” he whispered. “Pity it didn’t work.”
“Shut up,” Rose snarled, trying to listen to what the hit-wizard was saying. They were informed that there would be a Ministry presence in the Manor until the matter of the disappearances was sorted out. No one was to go anywhere without prior permission and no one was to be alone, if they could avoid it. The Ministry wanted to conduct a thorough search of the property and re-interview everyone, including the staff.
“Stay in your rooms between meals. Your families are being contacted and you will be able to go home soon. We are going to conduct a thorough search of the house and the grounds,” the older of the two hit wizards said firmly. Everyone was then ordered to return to their rooms to wait for the search to begin, and following that, they were not to leave until someone came and collected them for breakfast. Slowly, people stood and filed out. Rose waited until last, following her brother, trying to recall if anyone had looked guilty.
Scorpius caught her arm at the door, pulling her back into the room. “Rose, wait.”
“Don’t speak to me,” Rose said coolly. “If not for your stupid competition this would not be happening.”
He sighed. “I know.”
The silence lengthened between them. Rose could think of nothing to say.
“Can I ask you something?” Scorpius said after a while.
“I suppose,” Rose answered slowly, cautiously. Scorpius had dragged her to the far corner of the grand room and with a sigh, he sat down on one of the ornate chairs. Rose noticed one of the hit wizards lurking by the door, watching them. She sighed and sat down also.
“Why are you still here? You could have gone home yesterday.”
“Bullshit, Weasley. You’re worried about me.” The cocky grin was back on his face, but this time, it fell short, not reaching his eyes.
“I’m worried yes, but not only about you, Malfoy.”
“I didn’t sleep with her, you know,” Scorpius said abruptly. “Lucinda. She wanted me too, but I…”
“Why are you telling me this?” Rose asked with mild suspicion. Her heart sped up at the news and she told it to be still – it wasn’t important, not now.
He shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“I don’t understand you one bit, you know that, don’t you?” Rose said furiously.
He looked at her then, almost fiercely. “I wish you would.”
“I need someone to understand…this isn’t who I am,” Scorpius said so lowly he may have whispered it.
“So who are you?” Rose asked.
He was silent for a long time, before he sighed deeply. “I don’t know; I’m the child of...”
She knew what he was going to say, had thought similar things herself often enough through her life. “Oh Scorpius, you can’t continue to live in your father’s shadow,” Rose said with sympathy, cutting across him.
“I know that, but how do I get away from it?” he asked. When she said nothing, he sighed again. “You don’t understand.”
“But I do,” Rose said gently. “I do understand. You’re not the only one who’s had to break the mould.” When he looked at her sceptically, Rose raised her eyebrows. “You do remember who my parents are, don’t you?”
“Yeah, the good guys,” he mumbled.
She frowned. “That’s a bit old, don’t you think? No one is ever only good or bad; and anyway, your father, and your grandparents, they did the right thing in the end.”
“An eleventh hour reprieve,” Scorpius muttered darkly. Rose looked at him, astonished.
“What matters is they renounced Voldemort,” she said firmly. When he said nothing, she sighed quietly and changed the subject. “I hope Heidi recovers soon.”
“I hope whoever did it burns for it.”
Rose bit her lip and said nothing, although she was inclined to agree.
“It’s my fault,” he said with a soft sigh, turning his face away, “that they are hurt.”
“How could it possibly be your fault?”
Scorpius looked at her then; his eyes were red rimmed and bloodshot and his skin paler than usual. “I knew it would happen; I dreamt it, not in complete detail but it was still there, this feeling that something terrible would happen. My head is a mess, Rose. I have no idea what is going on – what is real and what is a dream. Are you real, or am I dreaming right at this moment?”
“Scorpius, what happens in your dreams?” Rose asked very slowly; he looked at her in surprise and she sighed. “Because I have been dreaming too; strange, bizarre things that I am not a part of but that I am helpless to avoid. The weirdest thing is, I somehow recognise these things. I watch them happening; terrible things and I have no idea who is doing them or to whom but all I know is...” she let her voice trail off, not sure she wanted to tell him the rest.
“All I know is that I’m trying to warn someone,” Rose continued quietly. She glanced at him; he was watching her with rapt attention. “You, Scorpius: in my dreams I am trying to warn you, but you don’t hear me.”
“What do I do?” he asked hoarsely.
“I don’t know,” Rose answered, her voice a whisper. “I have no idea.”
He hesitated a moment, before grabbing her hand and hauling her to her feet. “Come with me, now.”
“Where are we going?” Rose whispered as they passed the hit wizard, who nodded, watching them closely as they walked quickly down the hall. “Scorpius?”
He spun her around a corner, out of sight, and pulled her close. “Hang on.”
She felt the world lurch, and when she opened her eyes, dizzy, she was clinging to him, and was in a room she had never been in before. Rose stared around her, trying to get her bearings. The room was cast in shadow, the dark creeping into every corner and pocket of air. It was suffocating; the air was thick and heavy, the room too warm and stuffy in the heat of the season. Rose blinked, forcing her eyes to adjust as Scorpius uncurled her fingers from his shirt. The room swam into focus. A bed occupied the main space, and on it, laid the comatose Lucius Malfoy.
“It’s him; Grandfather,” Scorpius whispered, gesturing. Rose bit her lip in sympathy. Lucius looked so peaceful, lying there. A blanket was tucked up around his neck; Rose was sweating from the heat, droplets sliding down the small of her back to pool against her skin, but she supposed Lucius needed to be kept warm. She had heard that about people who were seriously ill. There were potions and tonics on the table beside his bed. His chest was rising and falling gently and occasionally, as they watched, his eyelids would flicker.
“What do you mean?” Rose asked after a while. “That it’s him?”
“He is in my head, somehow,” Scorpius answered huskily. “I’m dreaming his memories, Rose; at least, I think so. Some of what I dream is most definitely his memories, because they are things I know happened for real, but some of it...is vague and frightening. So much of it is full of death and darkness...”
“Is that really possible?” Rose whispered, looking from Scorpius to Lucius, who she realised, looked very similar, more so than Scorpius and his father. She had not had the chance to speak with Scorpius since that night Hugo came to her room; too much had happened in such a short period of time. It felt like months rather than days - time had raced ahead of her and she was struggling to catch up.
Scorpius shrugged. “I don’t know; why not? All things are possible, right? Come on, let’s get out of here.” He reached for her and Rose shook her head.
“I’ll do it: your apparition is terrible. Where to?”
“Anywhere. I don’t care. The moon, if it pleases you,” Scorpius muttered. Rose put her arm around his middle, turned them around and disapparated them to her room. Hugo was waiting; he jumped up from the bed in fright, and then smiled when he saw them with their arms around one another. Rose scowled and he quickly altered his expression to one of concern.
“How did you get in here?”
He shrugged. “My charm and good looks? I told the hit wizard I wanted to check on my sister. He’s stalking around outside by the way, so you’re lucky you apparated in. What’s going on?”
Scorpius shook his head, at a loss for words and Hugo sighed, flopping back onto the bed.
“Did you dream last night?” Rose asked Scorpius quietly, moving away from him to go and stand by the window. The night sky was carpeted in stars and she sighed a little, before turning back to Scorpius and wondering at the strangeness of everything that was happening. He nodded and sank down onto the edge of the bed next to Hugo.
“A little, but it was a good dream, if being a death eater is a good thing,” Scorpius answered. “He was happy, I was happy...we were happy...Merlin, I sound like a nutter.”
“Go on,” Rose prompted, moving to sit on the other side of him.
“We were in a graveyard, watching as Wormtail brought our master back to us,” Scorpius said in a low voice. Rose felt her eyes widen – she knew all the details of that night; Uncle Harry had told James everything and he in turn, had told Rose.
“The dream before that?” Hugo asked.
“The Battle at The Department of Mysteries, and the one before that was Azkaban, and the dementors and the endless cold; before that it was the murder of Charity Burbage, and before that, it was when Bellatrix tortured...” here Scorpius paused, glancing at Rose and then Hugo with worried eyes; she nodded, and he went on. “...Your mother. The very first dream of Lucius’ memories was the battle at Hogwarts, and the death of Voldemort.”
“The first of his?” Hugo repeated slowly.
Scorpius nodded. “I’ve had other dreams, filled with strange, dark things that I just have to witness and cannot stop. It was horrible, when Isobelle did not come down to breakfast, and then when Heidi...” he whispered.
Rose chewed her lip, thinking. He didn’t need to divulge any details about any of the past events in his dreams. They weren’t necessary – Rose knew the history as well as he did. “Are there any Seers in your family?”
“Not that I am aware of,” Scorpius replied, his expression glum and frightened and suddenly, Rose gasped, grabbing his arm.
“It’s reverse chronological order,” she whispered excitedly. “Your dreams are history playing in reverse: Lucius’ history anyway.”
“You’re right,” Scorpius whispered back.
Hugo frowned. “But what could it mean?”
“I read something once, about a wizard who kept a journal of his dreams in the weeks before he died. Later, it was revealed that the events he dreamt were the major events of his life, but in reverse. I have never heard of a situation like this before though,” Rose answered softly. A terrible thought had occurred to her; perhaps Scorpius had the same thought, because his face fell. “I’m sorry, Scorpius,” Rose said lamely.
“I wonder what his last major event will be?” Scorpius muttered, catching on; he had always been, Rose had to admit, rather intelligent beneath the smart arse attitude.
“Maybe it will be his wedding, or when your father was born,” Rose suggested gently.
“Yeah, perhaps,” Scorpius answered. “Listen, I don’t want anyone to know about this.”
“You need to tell your father,” Hugo said firmly, after a moment of deep silence. Scorpius shook his blonde head.
“I can’t. He can’t know about this – he has enough to worry about; grandfather, those missing girls...”
“You’re his son,” Rose breathed. “He would want to know!”
“And what do you think I should say? That I’m being haunted by the ghost of a man not dead yet?” he asked, his voice bitter and frightened. “That somehow, my grandfather is trying to relive his memories through me?”
No one had an answer, and Hugo and Scorpius left soon after, the latter looking like death on a plate. He was paler than Rose had ever seen him, the circles under his eyes so deep they looked like puddles. His lips were bloodless, and he was so tense she thought he would shatter; she had felt that in his body when she clung to him earlier.
Chewing her lip, she crawled into bed, her thoughts screaming.
Chapter title from the song, Evil Walks, by AC/DC
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