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Clancy found herself spending a lot of her time in the garden at the back of the manor. Outside in the garden, no one bothered her. Strangers—Death Eaters and the like, all of whom were cohabitating within the manor—didn’t try to speak to her as they so often did inside the house. She had been living there for over a month now, yet she didn’t feel comfortable in the slightest except for when she was in the confines of her own bedroom or in the garden.

She had spoken to a few of them, but they always seemed to ask her how she had gotten involved in this scheme against the Potters and they were always shocked when they realized Clancy didn’t seem to share the same hatred for the Potters that they did. Everyone in that house except for her was driving with a hatred and rage she never thought imaginable. They all wanted to eradicate one family for justifiable wrongdoings committed to them over two decades ago, and for that, Clancy found them all petty and irritating.

She found herself conflicted about the whole thing and found herself standing on a metaphorical middle ground. She disagreed entirely with Parker and the Death Eater’s desire to kill the Potters. She didn’t want to bring their family any harm, yet she did love Parker despite his demented and twisted urges. She also feared him. She had raised a hand to him before, and she had heard the Death Eaters whispering terrifying stories about him, singing their praises to him, so Clancy had grown to fear him and love him all the same. And what was she to do when she feared and loved the same man? She didn’t want to leave him or intervene in his plan, for she was truly terrified of what he would do to her.

She gave a start when she heard his voice behind her, and a part of her grew frightened. She had been thinking of what the consequences would be if she actually had the guys to leave him like a brave person would, and her fright grew as if he could read her thoughts, however ridiculous it seemed.

She took a calming breath when Parker flashed her a weak smile. He sat beside her on the edge of the large fountain, placing a kiss on her cheek as he did so.

“There you are,” he said lazily. “I’ve been looking for you. You’re out here often these days.”

“It’s peaceful,” she said quietly, her eyes focused on the water within the stone fountain before her. She reached out and gingerly touched a lily pad, swirling it around in the water with her index finger. “It helps me forget.”

“What are you trying to forget?” he asked curiously.

That I love you, that you’re trying to kill the Potters, that I’m a part of this whole mess, and that I’m too weak to do the right thing, she thought as guilt washed over her expression.

When she didn’t answer him, Parker encouraged her further. “Not your love for me, I hope.”

Maybe that’s what I need to forget in order to do the right thing…, she thought again. The thought pained her, though, so she looked up to him and gave him a weak smile.

“No,” she said, her voice a whisper. “Not my love for you.”

Parker leaned forward and kissed her then, and Clancy drank him in, inhaling his scent and feeling his long hair tickle her jaw. She loved the way he kissed her. It was always with a meaningful passion. When he pulled away, he rubbed her neck with his thumb and pressed his forehead to hers.

“I know you disagree with what I’m doing, but it means a lot to me that you are here by my side,” he admitted.

“Disagree is an understatement. I’m here by your side,” she began defensively, “but I want no part in this. Parker…What do you plan to do when this is over?”

Parker looked to the stone beneath his feet, his expression twisting into one of deep thought. He honestly hadn’t given that question any thought. For years, his mind had been set on taking down the Potters and avenging his father. For so long, his plan had taken up so much of this thought, time, and energy that he hadn’t really given that any thought.

Clancy asked him further. “Imagine for a moment: you accomplish everything you want. Then what…?”

He looked to her, his eyes determined and set on his answer. “Then you, Clancy…Then you.”

Clancy smiled. “That is why I am still by your side,” she said in response. “I want no part in this, but I hope for the day when you’re free of this—whether you achieve what you want or you decide to let go of your angst—but I hope for that day. I hope for the day when we can be together and just be happy with no hate for others or vindictive plans separating us. Just us.”

Parker’s eyes closed, seeming to be in a state of deep longing. “I hope for that day, too, Clancy. That’s why I have to do this. I can’t be happy until I do this. I want to be happy, but I can’t. Not until they’re all gone.”

“So if you do this, if they are all gone, what would that future look like? Will you be happy?” asked Clancy. She was unsure why she was asking him such specific questions, but she knew her heart had a reason. She stayed with him despite his murderous plan because she loved him, and she was too weak to defy him for more than just being afraid of him. She was starting to realize that she stayed with him, refraining from defying him and saving the Potters, because her twisted heart wanted something at the end of all of this—a future with him.

“I want to be,” he admitted. “I will be.”

Clancy didn’t know who he was trying to convince more, though, but he continued to speak.

“That future is being with you. Marrying you. Having a family with you. If that’s what you want, too.”

“It is what I want,” she found herself admitting. “As long as you’ll be happy. As long as you’ll put this all behind you.”

“One day this will be behind me,” he said with determination. “When they’re dead. When Harry Potter and James Potter are dead.”

Clancy sighed in defeat again. Her shoulder slouched, her eyes closed, and she ran her hands through her hair. She hated these moments. She would have these brilliant and loving moments of true clarity when he was so kind and so genuinely in love with her and that was all that mattered in their moment together, and then the moment was ruined when his vengeance resurfaced.

“Hateful,” she muttered. “So hateful! This is what I’m talking about. Will you drop this hateful crap and be happy?”

“I will!” Parker said angrily. “I won’t be hateful after those two are dead!”

“Wait,” said Clancy slowly as something finally clicked. “Two…Those two. You were going after James’ brother, too…James said his brother was dying in a hospital bed. Did he…Did Albus…?”

“Albus is dead,” Parker said plainly. “He died three weeks ago.”

Clancy was hit with a wave of deep despair then. Her heart went out to the Potter family. She felt a profound and harrowing sense of pain and guilt for them. James’ brother had been dead for three weeks, and she couldn’t imagine the pain he must be feeling. And here she was literally fraternizing with the enemy, talking about a future with him and how she was unable to forget her love for him. In that moment, she had never loathed herself more.

“James’ brother has been dead for three weeks…?” she repeated in question. Then she thought hard. What had happened three weeks ago? They had that night of celebration. Everyone had gathered in the foyer. Parker’s Uncle Amycus had even returned. They drank champagne and toasted to Parker. Clancy had asked what the fuss was about, but all Parker had said was that he had finally gained their trust. “That night…When they toasted you. You said you gained their trust. You gained their trust by killing him, didn’t you?!”

“Yes,” answered Parker in a straightforward fashion.

“You were celebrating Albus Potter’s death?!” Clancy was appalled then, and she could feel her horror beginning to ebb away at her love for him. “I know they are your enemy and you want them all gone, but to celebrate? You seriously celebrated the death of a nineteen-year-old you once called your friend? D–Do you have no soul?! His life is over because of you. Show some respect and humility! Are you really so unfazed after your first murder?!”

“Albus wasn’t the—”

Parker stopped and clamped his mouth shut as he caught himself nearly saying something he hadn’t told anyone.

Clancy had already picked up on his tone, though. “Albus wasn’t what, Parker?” she asked, her breath escaping her as she emphasized her desperation for him to finish that sentence. “Tell me! He wasn’t what?!”

“He wasn’t the first person I killed!” shouted Parker, standing up from his spot on the fountain and rising to pace. He ran his hands through his hair, exhaling in frustration. He had opened a can of worms and he knew it, so he turned to Clancy, preparing for her wrath.

Her face went pale, and her voice shook when she urged him further. “What do you mean he wasn’t the first person you killed? Parker, you tell me right now what you’ve done!”

“I knew I shouldn’t have told you,” he scoffed under his breath. “I killed someone long before this all started. More than three years ago. Right here at this fountain, actually. I drowned him. Not far from where you’re sitting.”

Clancy bolted upright. She stood, looking back over her shoulder at the stone she had sat on. An image—Parker shoving an innocent’s face into the water and holding him down until he stopped thrashing—suddenly and violently flashed across her mind. She closed her eyes to force it aside, but it didn’t fade. When she opened her eyes again, Parker was looking at the fountain with a smirk on his face.

Why?” Clancy demanded to know.

“He was an Auror. It was the summer before my sixth year when my father and uncle were organizing their plan for the year to come. We had established this manor as our base, and the Ministry must have noticed the movement out here after it had been abandoned for so long. They were getting close to finding us out—a little too close. I was out here walking with my mum one afternoon, and we spotted the Auror over there near the trees. He tried to get close to figure out who we were and what we were up to, but Mum caught him, stunned him, and dragged him over here. She told me to kill him. We both knew that was what had to be done, but she wanted me to do it. She didn’t have a reason, but she really wanted me to be the one to do it. My wand was inside; I wanted to grab it so I could do it, but Mum said to not waste time and risk letting him get away. So I used what means I had available. I slung his body over the stone, and I drowned him with my bare hands. So no. Albus was not the first person I killed; he was the second. So I am pretty unfazed right now, and I will show no respect or humility for those damn Potters.”

Holding back tears, Clancy shook her head at him. Unable to stand to be near, she found herself desperate to be alone with her thoughts. She turned on her heels and stalked off from him toward the house.

“Clancy!” shouted Parker cruelly. “Where do you think you’re going?!”

“Somewhere where I don’t have to see your face.”

Harry and eighteen other Aurors stood in the atrium of the Magical Law Enforcement Department. With Kingsley by his side, they had just finished prepping everyone for their raid on the abandoned Lestrange manor. Everyone knew what to do and when, and they were as ready as they ever would be while knowing as little as they did. Now, all that was left to be done was to take Pansy from her cell.

Harry turned to the five Aurors remaining behind to filter Death Eaters into containment cells when the other Aurors would arrive with them after the raid. “One last time, make sure the containment cells are prepared. Then take your positions here in the atrium and await our arrival.”

He turned to Kingsley and the other thirteen. “Everyone else, apparte to the coordinates we discussed. Stay hidden and await my arrival with Pansy Namken in tow. I’ll see you all soon.”

They all nodded in understanding. Kingsley gave Harry a curt nod before Harry left the atrium and moved for the containment cells. He found Pansy’s and knocked once as a courtesy before letting himself in.

Pansy was sitting lamely on the floor of her cell, her legs folded beneath her and her head bowed to the floor. She lifted her gaze to Harry upon his entrance. She asked weakly, “Will you let me see him?”

“I’m actually taking you to him right now,” answered Harry. It was the truth—it just wouldn’t be the truth she thought.

Clancy bolted to her feet, her eyes flashing with anticipation. She smoothed down her plain grey jumpsuit all containees wore, and she flattened her hair as if trying to make herself presentable.

Once again, Harry nearly felt bad for her. He wasn’t taking her somewhere safe to her son; he was taking her straight into the danger zone, and the only way she would see her son was if something went horribly wrong.

“I’ll have to bind you,” said Harry simply.

Pansy nodded and complied. She pressed her wrists together and offered them to Harry, who waved his wand. Ropes shot out the tip of his wand and magically bound her hands together.

With Pansy secured, Harry led her from the containment cells and to the atrium where apparating had been temporary enabled for the raid. When Harry stopped in the middle of the atrium and turned to Pansy, she looked at him apprehensively. She looked around, confused and beginning to understand that perhaps Harry hadn’t always been truthful.

“What’s happening…?”

“I’m sorry for this,” said Harry quietly. Before Pansy could realize that they stood in an apparating-allowed zone, Harry waved his wand to place a silencing charm on her and he took her hand. In the next second, he took her to the outskirts of the Lestrange manor.

After feeling as if they had been squeezed through a very narrow tube together, they landed amongst the trees at the edge of a large, open clearing. Still silenced, Pansy’s bewilderment was evident through her startled expression. She looked around, shocked to no longer be within the confines of the Ministry. Her eyes flashed as she recognized their location, and her mouth opened as if she would yell in protest.

Harry grabbed her elbow quickly in case she tried to bolt, and he looked to her seriously and spoke in a quiet voice. “I know you know where we are. I need you to do one more thing for me before you can see your son. I have to get my niece back, but in order to do that, you have to show us the manor.”

Through Pansy’s silence, Harry could feel her anger, but once again, she complied. She gave a nod, so Harry turned to face the other Aurors waiting for them. Pansy looked to all of them and then to Harry, and she reached out with her bound hands.

Harry understood the notion. He reached out and took her hand, knowing that he would have to be physically touching her to be able to pass through whatever magical barrier was protecting the manor from their sight. He looked over his shoulder to Kingsley and jerked his head toward Pansy for him to grab hold as well.

When Harry and Kingsley each had hold of her hands, Pansy turned to face the clearing and she slowly walked forward. They walked and walked, and Pansy continued to put one foot in front of the other one despite her clear reluctance. As each step made its imprint on the grass, she seemed to tremble slightly as if she knew she were betraying her son.

Finally, Pansy took one more shaky step, and Harry and Kingsley felt a strange ripple run through them. As the wave of air passed through them, the manor came into view. They were no longer standing in a wide, open clearing but standing before a large stone manor with vines growing along the walls and pushing themselves through windows with broken, cracking shutters.

Harry actually breathed a sigh of relief as the old and debilitating manor came into view. He looked over his shoulders to see the other Aurors some distance away waiting patiently. Harry knew he, Kingsley, and Pansy must have disappeared from their view, for they looked in their general direction in anticipation.

Harry turned to Pansy. “Lead the other Aurors through the barrier.”

Exhaling in defeated frustration, she released Harry’s and Kingsley’s hand and moved toward the other Aurors. Harry watched as she went; the barrier noticeably rippled as she passed through. He turned back to look at the manor and to Kingsley. “You ready?”

“I’m ready. Let’s go get your niece.”

After Clancy left Parker in the garden, she retreated to her room, where she then spent her evening trying to weigh the choices of her moral dilemma.

She loved Parker. Truly. Deeply. As twisted as it was. And she truly did hope for a future with him—a future in which all of this was forgotten and they could just live happily without want for revenge. It was that shred of hope for a peaceful and happy future that made her stay with him.

But upon hearing that Parker had successfully murdered Albus, that hope for a future didn’t quite justify her reasoning for continuing to love a murderous mad man and standing idly by as he destroyed an innocent family.

So in her hours of heavy thought, she came to the decision that she could love him and remain with him while still saving the lives of the innocents she could.

So, with a determination she had never felt in her weak-minded life, she rose and left her bedroom. She masked all expression and feeling of anxiety, and she walked as if were simply headed for the kitchen to have a snack instead of going to do something that would infuriate Parker, something she would most likely face some sort of punishment for.

She moved through her and Parker’s wing of the house, weaving through the long halls past the living quarters for the Death Eaters. She was grateful that she passed no one; they were all most likely downstairs enjoying their post-dinner drinks and frivolity as usual. Decades in Azkaban had left them rambunctious in their activities since escaping.

She breathed a sigh of relief when she knew she had gone unnoticed and arrived at the wing of the house that only held one companion: Dominique Weasley.

She pulled out her wand and whispered, “Alohomora.

The door made an audible click as it unlocked, and Clancy reached for it.

Dominique’s room was dark and eerily quiet. Clancy blinked to allow her eyes to adjust.

“Dominique…?” she asked in an uneasy whisper.

There was a quiet shuffling from within the room, but Clancy still couldn’t make out any shape within the darkness. Dominique must have recognized Clancy’s voice and silhouette from the light of the hall behind her, for she seemed to know who she spoke to. “What do you want…?”

“Get up. And let’s go,” said Clancy sternly, desperate for some sort of courage or confidence to make its way into her voice.

Dominique’s shuffling grew in volume then with Clancy’s statement. “What…?”

“Do you want out of here or not? Come on.

Dominique jumped up then. Clancy heard her feet hit the floor, and she stumbled forward until finally Clancy could make out her figure. Dominique came to a halt in front of Clancy. Her expression was startled; her eyes were sunken and her hair was in disarray. The turmoil she had endured in this room for the past three weeks was evident in her appearance.

“W–What do you mean?” she asked in worry. “What do you mean do I want out of here?”

“I mean I’ve had a change of heart. Let’s go,” said Clancy. She took Dominique’s hand and dragged her into the hallway.

“How do I know I can trust you?!” breathed Dominique in a heated whisper as they entered the hall.

“I guess you can’t know for sure, but I’m the best chance you’ve got if you want to make it out of here alive.”

Dominique sucked in a deep breath as she searched for her courage, and she nodded. She knew Clancy was right. Dominique had been living in the manor, cooped up in that dark room, losing hope day by day that she would ever see the sun or her family again. She had lost her willpower to fight back or find her way out. She had begun to accept that she was Parker Namken’s toy in his game, there in that dark room to fulfill whatever dark and twisted fate he had in store for her.

Clancy was her best shot if she ever wanted to potentially escape that room and Parker’s wrath. So she let Clancy guide her. They moved through the halls quickly and quietly, Clancy leading the way.

She peered around each corner as they moved to the front staircase. The house was still unusually quiet and lacking its usual Death Eaters occasionally walking the halls. Clancy didn’t know what was going on, but she was grateful for it.

Clancy peered around the last corner before reaching the staircase, and she looked down the stairs and into the foyer.

“All clear. Come on,” said Clancy again, pulling Dominique’s hand again.

They tiptoed down the stairs. When they reached the foyer, Clancy looked back and forth, just waiting for the moment when their cover would be blown. Dominique nodded for the front door, just ten feet behind her.

“The front door is right there.”

“No,” Clancy said desperately, shaking her head. “Too high-profile. You could be seen. Out the back. Through the garden. It leads into the forest. You’re less likely to be seen.”

Dominique winced, as if she were in pain from being so close to the door, so close to freedom, and yet she couldn’t take it. But she nodded and let Clancy lead her through the foyer and to the back. Voices were audible as they approached the back and passed by the kitchen and the lounge, where the Death Eaters were now evidently eating and drinking.

They reached the back door—just a room away from the Death Eaters—and Clancy reached for the handle when suddenly all the voices in the lounge silenced. She froze, too, startled by their sudden silence. She hoped they hadn’t been found out, but she was too afraid to move in the silence for fear of being heard.

Parker’s voice was suddenly evident in the lounge. “Did anyone else feel that…?”

Amycus Carrow spoke next. “I felt it. The coin is warm, too…”

“Someone’s here,” stated Parker.

Amycus spoke again. “I felt it again.”

“There’s more than one person here,” said Parker. “Everybody to your station!”

“Shit,” murmured Clancy.

“What’s happening?!” asked Dominique.

“I’m not sure. Parker has these coins; they get hot when someone passes through the barrier protecting the manor. It means people are outside, and Parker’s about to find out who—and I can bet you it won’t be pretty. You need to go.”

“But—” Dominique began.

“You have to go!” said Clancy again, and she opened the back door, dragging Dominique out and through the garden. They ran along the stone paths to the edge of the garden and to the forest, moving as quickly as they could before they were seen.

They reached the edge of the forest, and Dominique looked to Clancy for further guidance. “Are you coming with me?”

Clancy shook her head. “No,” she said solemnly, panting from running. “I–I can’t. I can’t leave Parker. I’m afraid of what he would do without me. But you have to go.”

“Thank you, Clancy,” she breathed gratefully.

“You’re welcome. Now, you’re wasting time. Go!”

Dominique looked along the edge of the forest, and some distance away, she could see the clearing at the front of the manor and the forest off to the side. And some ways away, running full speed at the manor, were the Aurors led by her Uncle Harry.

Dominique blanched. “Oh my god. That’s my uncle! Uncle Harry!”

“Shh!” begged Clancy. She didn’t want them to be seen, or more importantly, she didn’t want Parker to find out that she had broken Dominique out. But Clancy looked to where Dominique was looking, jumping up and down and waving, and Dominique was right; running at the manor with a look of determination on his face was Harry Potter. “Shit…”

“Uncle Harry!” Dominique cried out again, but they were too far away for Harry to hear in the slightest.

“Shh!” Clancy burst again, placing her hand over Dominique’s mouth. “Stop! I can’t be seen. Please. Just go! Everything will be fine here. Go!”

“But I can’t leave my uncle!”

“He’s an Auror! There have to be at least 15 other Aurors with him, too. He can handle himself. Please. Run through the forest until you are past the apparation boundaries. Go!”

Biting her lip, Dominique finally nodded. “Okay. Fine. Thank you, Clancy!”

Then reluctantly, Dominique ran into the forest and disappeared from view.

Clancy looked back to the manor as the Aurors raised their wands at the manor and began to fire. “Shit…”

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