It was dark and rainy, and the approach to the Burrow felt like anything but a homecoming. Three weeks in the South of France had done their job, but Harry and Ginny, while looking forward to seeing their family and friends, were not quite ready to be back in the real world.
As Harry lifted his hand to turn the knob on the door, it swung open and what met his gaze surprised him. He had been about to lift Ginny over the threshold, but stopped when he realized that the Weasleys were all sitting quietly, waiting for them to enter. The somber mood that blanketed the room was enough to cause anyone to be worried. There was something serious going on. He shut the door behind his new wife and asked, “So … what news?”
Arthur took Harry’s arm and led him through the living room, where Ron, Bill and Charlie were waiting anxiously to talk to him.
Harry was starting to feel as if the Dark Lord himself might have come back to life. “Would someone please tell me what’s going on?”
Ron was the first to open his mouth. “Harry, I don’t really know how to tell you this …”
“Please. Just say it. Unless you tell me the Dark Lord has risen again, I doubt it’s as serious as you all seem to think.” Harry became slightly alarmed when he noticed the look exchanged between Bill and Charlie.
“Well, no … the Dark Lord has not risen again. You took pretty good care to make sure that couldn’t ever happen.”
“Right, so what are you all on about?”
Arthur began, “Draco–”
“Malfoy!” finished Ron.
Harry almost started to laugh. “You’re joking, no? How could he possibly be a threat, or be even remotely powerful enough to cause any problems?”
“Well, Harry,” Bill replied, “the thing of it is that Draco seems to blame you for all the misery in his life. You’ve been out of the country, so you probably haven’t read the Prophet. He’s held a press conference stating that he has every intention to seek retribution. He’s out for blood.”
“Unfortunately, mate,” Ron interjected, “it’s yours he wants.”
* * *
Molly Weasley wrapped her arms around her only daughter, thrilled to see her, despite the serious mood that hung over the Burrow. She managed to hide the worry that sat on her shoulders but Ginny still had some idea there was something wrong.
Fleur, too, gave Ginny a big hug. The three women began talking about the trip, and Ginny assured them that they had plenty of pictures to share with them once they were developed. Fleur wanted to hear all of Ginny’s opinions of France, as she had not been back for a couple of years … since her marriage to Bill, as a matter of fact.
“You should really go back, Fleur. All the tours we took talked about how much things have changed in the last three or four years. You might need to take a tour yourself!”
“Well, I do ‘ope to get back zere soon! Bill needs to learn more about where I grew up, and what my family was like! I know my muzzer wants me to ’ave babies soon and I zink she would like to be zere when I do!”
* * *
“What do you mean, he’s out for my blood?”
“Rita Skeeter reported last week that she met with Malfoy in Diagon Alley. She claims that he has a big chip on his shoulder ever since his parents lost their lives in the last war, and he blames you for it. He made it very clear in his interview that he didn’t care what it took, or what happened to him, he would exact his revenge.”
Charlie spoke up at last. “What worries us the most is that he knew you were out of the country and he knew when your wedding was. He listed off specific details about your wedding that no one could have known unless they were here.”
Harry looked up sharply. He knew Remus and Tonks had reinforced the protective spells over and over that night. But he also knew that the Weasleys had a very large property, and the charms didn’t cover its entirety. Could someone have snuck onto the edge of the grounds and spied everything going on?
* * *
“Harry Potter! You should have gone when your parents did! I’ve said it over and over again!” Lucius Malfoy oozed the evil that became him whenever Harry was involved.
“That may be!” Harry replied. “But obviously I’m still here, and I believe everything happens for a reason – my reason tonight is YOU!”
As Lord Voldemort crested the top of the stairs, the tower shook. In his hissing, snake-like voice, he called, “Luciussss, leave him to me.”
“Get away from me, you snake! You have no idea how Malfoy here helped to destroy one of your Horcruxes do you? He took your diary … your wonderful, precious diary … and placed it into the hands of someone you all consider to be a blood-traitor. Thanks to MALFOY, that Horcrux is destroyed!”
“NO! Master, don’t listen to him! Remember? He is the one who destroyed it! He is the one who caused your soul to separate from the diary!”
Voldemort rounded on Lucius. “You would have done better to take responsibility for your actions, Luciusss. But since you won’t, I shall take it for you.” Harry cringed, knowing what he would hear next. “AVADA KEDAVRA!” Lucius Malfoy fell to the ground in a lump.
Narcissa and Draco came running up the stairs. “Father! Father, where are you?”
Voldemort turned, and said to Draco, “I would not call him Father if I were you. He has betrayed me. He has received what he deserves.”
A passionate shriek escaped Narcissa’s lips. At that moment, Harry realized that Narcissa loved Lucius with a pure love, even though she did not always agree with his activities. She ran to her husband, now prone, and tried to shake him awake, but he would breathe no more.
“Perhaps I should take your mother as well, since it seems she has never been strong enough to serve me as her sister did. It’s your choice, young Draco … you, or your mother.”
Draco hesitated – and that was enough for Voldemort. He took the hesitation to mean Draco chose his own life over his mother’s. He watched with relish the fear in her eyes as he pointed his wand at her. It was quick. Harry was speechless. But at that moment, Draco fled.
“That’s it – run little boy! Your parents are no longer here to protect you. Run and hide! But I shall find you!”
* * *
Harry hadn’t re-lived those memories ever before – he had never wanted to re-live them and he had never imagined that he would need to. He thought of his new life with Ginny. How could he manage to keep her safe with all of this going on? Would she be willing to let him take any precautions necessary to keep her and the Weasley family safe? He would have done so anyway, but now, they were his family … his only family. He had to tell her. Everything.
As Harry put the memory back into the hidden recesses of his mind, he couldn’t help but wonder where such atrocities would send a seventeen-year-old boy into hiding.
A/N: Three cheers for Ladybug, my wonderful beta, for all her hard work, and suggestions. Couldn’t have done it without you!!!