A/N: We are now plunging into the
realms of wild speculation, a.k.a. seventh year. Please sit back and enjoy the
Chapter One: Vivace
Anne Fairleigh was making
her bed when her brother burst unceremoniously into her room. She jumped as the
door slammed into the wall.
"Eddie, don't do
"How'd you know it was
me?" her brother asked.
She turned around, hands on
hips. "One, there does happen to be a mirror opposite the wall, and two,
no one else in this family has such little regard for the doors."
Eddie rolled his eyes.
"Anne, no one else in this family complains so much about it."
"Parents don't count,
they complain about everything."
"We get off pretty lightly,
you know that," Anne reminded him. The sound of metal sliding on wood
caught her ear and she reached behind her over the bed to stop the window
slamming shut. She should have latched it properly.
"How can you say that?
Mum and Dad are getting worked up over everything at the moment; they want to
know where we are all the time!"
Anne had to turn around to
latch the window shut as she answered him.
"Do you remember the
Martins, Eddie? You remember Elise, couple of years younger than you? Or
Hector, Nicola's friend? Remember them? Remember what happened last
Eddie gave an unwilling
jerk of his head. "Yeah, but…they were all your sort, weren't they?
Wizards. You go on about this war or whatever but I've never seen any sign of
Anne made herself count to
five in her head before she replied.
"They were murdered and you say you've never seen any
sign of it?"
"Wars are bigger and
that, four people doesn't count -"
"It's more than four
people," Anne shot back. "You say you haven't seen it but do you ever
read the newspaper and notice how many people are getting murdered or killed in
gas explosions these days? Even the Muggles have started to catch on that
something's up, and you haven't seen it?"
"Why should I read the
newspaper? There's never anything interesting apart from the sport."
Anne threw up her hands in
frustration. "Did you come here to annoy me or does this visit have a
"Well, it did, but if
you're going to be like this I don't know if I'm going to tell you." Eddie
looked smug at having gained the upper hand.
Anne drew herself up to her
full height. It was still about three inches shorter than her younger brother,
but that wasn't the point. "Eddie. Tell me. Now."
He opened his mouth,
presumably to reply rudely, when he was pre-empted by a dark brown barn owl
swooping into the room over his head. Anne didn't hide her grin when he jumped.
The owl, Theo's Bronwyn,
landed neatly on the top of Anne's dresser. Anne had tried to dissuade her from
doing so when she'd first noticed the claw marks on the mirror frame, but it
hadn't worked, and Anne had resigned herself to it. Anne's own Gwaihir, sitting
on his perch in the corner, gave a sleepy hoot of recognition.
"Those bloody birds," muttered Eddie.
"Be nice," his older
sister admonished. "Was that what you were going to tell me?"
admitted grudgingly. "Stupid bird arrived when you were in the shower.
It's been hanging around in the kitchen for the last half an hour."
Anne went over to the
dresser to pet the glossy owl. There was a rather thick letter attached to her
leg. The long day of homework and probable boredom stretching out before Anne
suddenly seemed quite a lot brighter. Anne detached it carefully and offered
Bronwyn an owl treat from the box she kept on her dresser. The owl accepted it
in a dignified manner.
"How come it never
her brother asked grumpily.
"Because I'm nice to
her and don't try to take letters that belong to other people," Anne
replied. This explained Eddie's grumping. He'd had an antagonistic relationship
with Bronwyn ever since last summer when he'd tried - being sincerely helpful -
to get her to give him a letter to give to Anne. He still had a faint scar on
his hand from where she'd pecked him. Bronwyn arriving would not make Eddie's
day start well.
"Makes me glad I'm not
a wizard. Why can't you use e-mail or something?"
"Wizards don't use
electricity," Anne explained for what seemed the hundredth time.
"But why not?"
"The wizarding world
is really…traditional," Anne said, putting the letter on her dresser. She
wanted Eddie to go away so she could read it. "That's why there's a war at
the moment, sort of; the really old-fashioned people don't want any
Muggle-borns corrupting their nice world. Weren't you going over to Mike's this
"You just want me to
go away so you can read your letter. Who's it from, your boyfriend?"
Anne sighed. "Yes, now
go away. Timbuktu would be my choice of destination, but I'll take anywhere
that isn't this room."
"Fine, I know you hate
me, I'm going." Eddie turned around to leave and actually got, by Anne's
reckoning, several steps down the hall before she heard him stop and dash back.
It was longer than she'd thought it would take him.
He leaned around the
doorframe. "You have a boyfriend?"
Anne just looked at him. He
was her little brother. He'd never even met Theo. She could handle this.
"Don't sound so
surprised. Now go away."
"He goes to your
school, doesn't he?"
" Go away."
" What's his
" Go away."
"Does Terry know who
" Go away."
"Will you tell me
about him if I go away and let you read the letter?"
" Go away."
"I'm going to take
that as a yes, you know."
" Go away."
"You could just tell
me and save yourself the-"
Anne solved the problem by
slamming the door in her brother's face. It was just lucky for him he was fast
enough to avoid a broken nose.
Almost two hundred miles
away in Northern Wales, the author of Anne's letter was in a position to
strongly appreciate Anne's troubles with her younger brother. Theodore Nott was
sitting in the living room of his aunt and uncle's house, trying to practise
the piano. The emphasis was strongly upon the word trying. For the thousandth
time, he rehearsed what he was going to say to his father about his paternal relatives
the next time he saw him.
"What are you
playing?" asked his younger cousin Lucas.
"I'm attempting to practise the first movement of
Vivaldi's concerto in G minor, but I'm not really getting the chance."
" It's a piece of music
which I want to play." Theo was tempted to just start and ignore the brat,
but he wasn't going to let Lucas drive him to bad manners.
"Theodore, I'm bo-red."
That was one thing he was not going to miss when he left here,
Theo reflected as he stared at the piano keys. Being an unpaid minder for his
cousins. Celia at least could amuse herself, but Lucas had never learned how.
"What can I do?"
Theo closed his eyes.
"Go play patience. Read a book. Draw a picture. I don't know, when I was your
age I amused myself!"
"Didn't someone play
with you?" Lucas said. He was hanging off one end of the piano, making it
"Stop that!" Theo
said irritably. Lucas dropped off at once. At least he had him listening.
"No, they didn't. It was just my father and me. I looked after
"But you're here, so
can't you find something for me to do?" One thing Lucas had learned was
persistence. So would he, Theo guessed, if he'd grown up in this household. Two
busy parents, an older sister who was more interested in her books than her
brother. Lucas had to be persistent, and noisy, to get any attention. Theo
could understand it, but that didn't mean he liked it when the techniques were
applied to him.
"Can't you think of anything?" Theo frowned at Lucas. Absent-mindedly,
he reached up to return one of the family photos that dotted the top of the
piano to its place. Lucas had knocked it over.
pouted. He might be only eight, but Theo felt this was not a good look on
anyone over the age of three. Particularly if they were plain-faced little
Theo sighed. He could just
tell Lucas to go away again, but he seemed to do that every day he was here,
and it was beginning to feel a bit…well, cruel. No one else was there to pay
attention to him. And he was, after all, very young. His family wasn't his
"What if I teach you
to play Patience?"
"It's a card game, and
you can play it by yourself."
Lucas wrinkled his nose,
but evidently decided that was the best he was going to get. "All
stood up from the piano. The living room was only relatively tidy - the
Amberleys did not have a house-elf, and Karena Amberley was so rarely home
these days - but the table in the dining room was probably clear. "Where
can we find a pack of cards?"
It was only once he'd left
Lucas shuffling the pack of cards for another game that Theo belatedly realised
where he had
learnt to play Patience. Terry and Anne had taught him during the April
holidays. Was it only a Muggle game, or did he know any wizards who played it?
He paused with his hands
over the piano keys. If it was only a Muggle game…and his aunt or uncle caught Lucas playing it…
Well, his uncle was at work
all day and Lucas spent most of his time when his parents were home with them.
His aunt was out all the time - on Death Eater business, Theo was sure - so she
wasn't likely to spot it.
If they do…where did I
learn it? Let's see. A book? That would make sense. A book of card games in the
Hogwarts library, because I wanted something to do when I was home by myself in
the holidays. That's it. That way they'll just complain about the appalling
standards of education, and get distracted.
Theo spent the time in
between practising movements of the concerto coming up with titles for the
mythical book. It was really quite amusing.
Anne was sitting in the
living room waiting for the evening news to come on when her father got home
from work. The brief update in between whatever was on before it (she wasn't
paying attention) hadn't looked promising. Something about a 'gas pipe
explosion' in Somerset, with a mention from the presenter about the apparent
rash of these incidents. Anne was pretty sure she knew what the real cause was.
would tell her tomorrow.
"You're not supposed
to be watching TV yet, that's not fair!"
Her younger sister was
standing in the doorway, clutching a football protectively to her chest. Nicola
continued, "Mum says we aren't allowed to watch lots of TV in the
"Go and tell her if you
want, I'm just watching the news," Anne told her.
"Eddie was playing
footie with me outside," said Nicola accusingly. "You never play with
me any more."
Anne shifted on the couch,
suppressing a twinge of guilt. It wasn't her fault that it was easier to spend
time with her magical sister than her Muggle one. It was age, that was all. Nic
was only eight.
"I read to you last
night, didn't I?"
"You read to me, but
you don't do
anything with me." Nicola stuck out a trembling lower lip. "You don't
like me because I'm a mug…mug…because I'm not a witch."
Anne sat straight up on the
couch, ignoring the opening music of the news programme. "Nic, that's not
true! Come here."
Nicola walked reluctantly
to the couch, dropping the football, and climbed onto it next to Anne.
"You'll still like me
even if I don't go to Hogwarts, won't you?" she begged earnestly. Anne
tried to resist the tug of those soulful brown eyes.
She's probably only
doing it to get to watch TV. You know she is.
"Of course I will,
Nic," she assured her youngest sister, wrapping an arm around her. Nic
cuddled into her. Anne's eyes flicked to the TV, and the 'gas explosion' story.
"…this is the
latest in a rash of explosions caused by faulty gas piping in the last year and
a half. Almost all have resulted in fatalities, including the two people killed
today. Official sources say…"
"They need a new cover
story," Anne muttered to herself.
Nicola asked, looking up at her. "Can I watch the news with you?"
See? See? Manipulative
sibling alert! The
inner voice sounded very Theo-like.
Anne sighed. "I
suppose you can."
"Oh good." Nicola, never one to risk
her advantage, snuggled into her older sister's embrace. Despite the depressing
news, Anne felt a little better.
About ten minutes later,
Anne and Nicola heard the front door open.
"Hi, Dad!" Anne
called. Nicola got down from the couch and ran out to throw herself at her
"Daddy, you're home!"
Jonathan Fairleigh put his
briefcase down on the chest-of-drawers next to the door and smiled at his
youngest child. Anne could just see them through the living-room door.
"You're very glad to see me today."
"That's because nobody
else will listen to me," Nicola told him mournfully. From the kitchen and
living room came twin yells of resentment.
"Oy, I played footie
with you for an hour this afternoon!"
"Nic, you little liar,
stop trying to make everyone feel sorry for you!"
Jonathan ruffled his
daughter's hair and gently unwrapped her arms from around him. "'Scuse me,
love, I've got to go and say hello to your mother."
Anne saw him move out of
sight through the door into the kitchen, with Nicola trotting behind him. She
felt vaguely rejected. From the kitchen came the sounds of her parents greeting
each other. She noticed that the ads were on, and muted the TV. Eddie came
wandering into her line of sight, stopping in the doorway.
"Just the news."
"Is the sport on
"No, not for
Eddie made an indeterminate
noise and wandered away again. He was quickly replaced by Anne's father.
"Hello, love, how's
your day been?"
Anne lifted a hand to greet
her father. "Fine. Nothing much happened. I got an owl."
Her father frowned.
"You - oh, you got a letter that came with an owl. It's very confusing,
all these wizarding words you use." His smile belied the criticism.
Anne shrugged. "I
suppose so. Did you have a nice day at work?"
"Just the usual. What
are you watching?"
"The news. There's
been another attack in Somerset. Someone needs to find a new cover story - the
Muggles aren't going to keep buying the gas explosions forever."
Her father frowned. "I
heard about that on the radio. You mean all of them in the past year or so have been…your
people doing things?"
"They aren't my people, they're Death Eaters, but
Jonathan Fairleigh shook
his head. "My God. I can't believe you're caught up in all of that."
"I'm not," Anne
protested. "Well - I haven't been so far. With any luck…"
Her father opened his mouth
to reply, but her mother's voice came crisply from the kitchen.
"Jonathan, can you
come and help me serve up?"
Nodding to her, Anne's
father left. Anne sighed, and got up to switch the television off. There
wouldn't be anything more of interest to her. For a moment she stood there,
staring sightlessly out the living room.
Theo's losing his family
because they're wizards. I'm losing mine because they're not.
Why can't anything be
uncle called up the stairs to his room. It was nine o'clock, and Theo was
sitting reading on the windowsill of his room, one leg dangling spider-like out
the window. He didn't hear his uncle at first - not until the door of his room
Amberley said. "Your father's here."
Theo narrowly prevented
himself from falling out the window. His jumpiness was due entirely to the
nature of the book he was reading. That, and the unexpected news.
"Dad? He's here now?
Is he downstairs-"
"Yes, yes, we were
calling you, but you didn't seem to hear us. " His uncle frowned as Theo
hooked his leg back over the sill. "You probably shouldn't be sitting
Theo gave his uncle a
sceptical look. "I'm not going to fall out unless Celia or Lucas take it
into their heads to push me."
"I wouldn't put it
past them," his uncle joked. Theo tossed the book on the bed, face down,
and headed out without a backwards glance. There was no earthly reason for his
uncle to notice it unless he made a fuss.
"When did Dad get
here?" he asked anxiously, picking up speed once he heard his uncle
following. The book should be safe enough in his room now. "I didn't know
he was coming."
"Only five minutes or
so ago," his uncle called after him. "Mind the stairs!"
Theo did trip on Celia's
broomstick, which had created a death-trap three stairs from the bottom, but was
fortunate enough to grab the banister. He swore under his breath, even more so
when he heard his uncle laugh. He entered the living room rubbing his shins.
Not quite the
impression he wanted to make. Eric Nott was standing beside the piano, talking
to his younger sister. It struck Theo for the first time how much older his
father was than Karena Amberley. These last couple of years had added lines to
his face that were more noticeable every time Theo saw him, perhaps because
Theo saw him so rarely now.
father said with the warmest of smiles. "I was almost thinking you didn't
want to see me."
"I always want to see
you," Theo told him, more gruffly than he'd intended. In normal
circumstances - but how long ago had those applied - he would have been
embarrassed to hug his father in front of witnesses, even if the witnesses were
his aunt and uncle. It didn't even occur to him not to, now.
"You'll hate me for
this, but you really are taller every time I see you," his father told him
as they pulled apart. "You're going to outgrow me at this rate."
"Too many tall people
in our family," Theo said. He glanced at Aunt Karena. "And Mum looks
pretty tall, in all the photos." Adrienne Nott had been dead for too much
of Theo's life for him to avoid mentioning her.
"She was tall,"
Eric Nott agreed. His gaze rested on Theo. "The older you get, the more
you look like her."
"And like Mo -"
Theo heard Paul Amberley, behind him, cut off sharply when his wife shot him a
quelling glance. "Hmm, yes, he does."
Theo shrugged. What did you
say to that?
And like who? There wasn't
anyone - Oh, yes. Mortimer Jugson. Stupid pretentious French names. He's
Mum's uncle, and she looked like her father, so maybe I look like him. That thought didn't appeal. Looking
like his dad was alright, it was his dad, it was different, but looking like a Death Eater who
happened to be a distant relative wasn't an idea he relished.
"I'd better just go
check on Celia and Lucas," said Theo's aunt smoothly. "You two will
want a bit of space."
"Yes, I'll, ah, come
and help," added Paul Amberley. "Don't feel you have to stand up all
"I can take a hint
when I'm clubbed over the head with it," replied Theo's father, seating
himself on a couch. Theo moved to sit opposite him as his aunt and uncle left
"So, how have your
holidays been?" asked his father, leaning back on the couch. "Doing
Theo rolled his eyes. "I've been mainly doing my homework and trying to
prevent Lucas and Celia destroying the house. Childminding is not my forte. If
it was up to me I'd just lock them in a cupboard until they were fourteen or so
and capable of coherent conversation."
Eric Nott laughed.
"Celia's fourteen soon, isn't she?"
Sweet Merlin. Anne was fourteen the first time
I met her. Well, closer to fifteen, but even so. She was miles ahead of Celia
in the maturity stakes.
"Because you're so old
and wise," his father teased.
Theo grinned. "I was
always older and wiser than those two at their ages."
"I can remember a few
"Oh, shut up, Dad."
"Getting a bit bored,
That sounded like something
more than a simple question, and Theo picked his answer carefully.
"It could be worse.
I'm getting my homework done, and there's a piano. I can read." He glanced
over at it. "I just miss home, you know? There was so much space."
"That's going to
change." His father's eyes flashed. "The way things are going, we'll
have this war won by the time you're out of school, and then things will go
back to normal."
They're never going back to normal, Dad.
Theo stared at his father.
"You mean that? By next June?"
"I think so." His
father looked old. "I know you kids just think about getting out there and
fighting, but this isn't fun and games, Theodore. The sooner we can bring an
end to this, the better."
"But I don't want to
miss out-" Theo protested, the lie coming so easily it was still
"You won't, don't
worry." His father leaned forward, and Theo mirrored him, elbows on knees.
"Just don't get
too…involved. This is a war that has to be fought, and yes, it can
be…enjoyable, but don't get caught up in that. You're sensible, but we don't
need too many people like Bellatrix Lestrange running around. Winning this is
what counts, not the number of corpses."
"But if the more of
them that die, the more demoralised they get," Theo pointed out.
"Yes, but there is
such a thing as too much of a good thing, you understand?"
Theo tried his best not to
look sick. He hoped it was working. "I suppose so."
father said, "it must be said that people like Bellatrix have their place
in this fight. And you have yours."
Theo's heart started to
pound. "You mean-"
His father nodded.
"The Dark Lord's decided it's time for you to join us. A few of your
"My god." Theo
tried to keep the fear off his face, and failed. "I mean - wow - but - I
didn't realise it'd be this soon-"
"It's all right to be
afraid, Theodore." His father looked almost - sympathetic. "I was.
It's one thing being all full of crusading zeal about protecting your heritage,
and another when you realise it's actually going to happen." Theo dropped
his head, anyway - his father must have seen more than fear, he thought with
"I just want to do the
"I know." The
tone was gentle enough that Theo ceased his study of the carpet. "You'll
be fine. It's soon, but the Dark Lord seems to have decided he'd rather have
your year oath-bound before you go back to school, with Potter around. I think
he's got some plans."
Theo forced himself to nod.
"I hope - we can handle it."
"I'm certain you can. Besides," his father's
eyes twinkled, "I'd rather you understood how serious this is than acted
like some bone-headed Gryffindor."
Theo snorted. "No
chance of that!" Panic was still there, but he could pretend. For however
much longer it took. "When…when do I go?"
"Tomorrow night. I'll
come by and pick you up - the Ministry are trying to monitor us, but they can't
"I still can't imagine
you as an escaped convict, Dad." Theo shook his head. "You're too
"Stranger things have
happened." His father frowned. "Is something wrong?"
"No, no," Theo
fought to keep himself from babbling. "It's just - I don't know - the end
of an era. I mean, when we win, we'll get our family back, but it won't be the
same. The war used to be all your business, and now it'll be mine, too. I don't
know. I've spent so long wanting to be grown up and now I'm here, being a kid
doesn't seem half as bad as it did then."
"It always does."
They were silent for a minute.
"So, what were you
reading that had you so engrossed?" Eric Nott said, signalling the end of
the serious talk. "A good detective story?"
Theo threw him a dirty
look. He was allowed to like detective novels, and his father didn't have to tease him about
it. But if he knew what Theo had been reading…
"My Charms textbook,
actually. There was some really interesting detail about the theory of wards
that we haven't got into before." It was true. He'd read it yesterday.
"Do you think you'd
like to do something along those lines?"
replied honestly, "but until this is over - not to mention my NEWTs - I
feel like all bets are off."
"It's still worth
The conversation settled
into more normal - less dangerous - channels, and Theo could relax.
He couldn't help thinking
that apart from being a Muggle book borrowed from a Muggle-born (and wildly improbable at that), his
father probably wouldn't have found anything to complain about with his current
reading material. The worst thing so far was the absolute uselessness of that
Gandalf chap. Any decent wizard would have just Apparated to Mordor and saved
himself a trip.
It was ten-thirty by the
time his father left and Theo headed upstairs to his bedroom. It took
everything he had to walk, not run. The panic was setting in again. As soon as
he got there he shut the door, threw the bolt, and leaned back on it, breathing
as hard as if he’d run a mile. Tomorrow night. The Dark Lord, and the Dark
What was he going to do?
School didn’t start for another week and a half. At Hogwarts, he would be safe.
Until then…the Ministry was no refuge, not for a Death Eater’s son. The
classmates he knew how to contact would be at that ceremony, too. And his
family. There was no one.
Theo squeezed his eyes shut
and shook his head. No! He would not do this! There had to be a way out. There had
to be. It was going
to hurt his father. But…if he refused, he would die. He couldn't kill for the
Dark Lord, he couldn't. Not people like Anne, and even Muggles - it just was
not worth it. And his father wouldn't understand, not in a lifetime. Not ever.
So…he had a breathing
space. Until tomorrow morning, until he was expected to be up and about. What
else did he have? His wand. He'd never had a warning about underage magic, so
he could afford one. His broomstick. His school things. He could leave, if he
had a destination. Leave tonight and he’d have eight hours, maybe more, flying
time. Six in the dark. Good enough for avoiding Muggles. Enough to get to
Hogwarts…but no, that was too obvious, and besides he wasn’t sure where exactly
to find it.
The memory suddenly struck him of a conversation with Anne, the last time he’d
Where will you go, if
your father decides…
He won’t, not until the
Christmas holidays, and I’m of age then. I can just stay at Hogwarts.
Anne had frowned, and
Theo had traced the line of it with his finger.
Theo…I mean it. You
can’t not think about things forever.
Fine. I don’t know.
She had bitten her lip,
the way she always did when she was thinking, and nodded once. My address. I’ll
give you my address. You can always try and get to my place.
Essex? I’d be caught, if
I was really running.
She’d pulled away.
I’m only trying to help.
If you…if you died because you had nowhere to go…
Theo followed and
wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on the top of her head.
I know. But if I had
your address…well…I can’t tell what I don’t know.
You wouldn’t. I trust
you. Besides, my house is safe. It’s warded to only let people we say can come
in come in. And there’s a Portkey, for Hogwarts, in case there’s an attack. All
the Muggle-born families have one.
Wards can be broken. So
Stop it, she’d said into
his chest. I don’t want to think about it!
Now who’s not thinking?
I know. Just…please. In
The memory got rather more
pleasant at that point but Theo pulled himself out of it ruthlessly. Anne. He’d
still got her address safely tucked away in his memory, not wanting to have it
written down, and…Essex was a long way away but at Anne’s he could rest and maybe wait for a
message…a message. Dumbledore.
He's the Headmaster, I'm
sure he has an interest in the welfare of his students. The Ministry's out, too
dangerous, too many Death Eaters. Besides, legally I don't think there's even
anything they can do. I'm a minor, I'm in my family's care, there's no proof. But Dumbledore…maybe he
can help. I'd rather handle this on my own, but it just may be out of my hands
now. If he can help…
If not…well, my options
are rapidly running out. He knows about…what happened with Hermione Granger's
parents. He knows. It has to be safe.
He glanced at the clock.
Ten thirty five. By eleven, he needed to be on his way.
Packing is going to be
Half an hour later, Theo
looked around the room he had inhabited for two short summers. He had no
regrets about leaving his aunt's house behind; he'd never wanted to come here
in the first place. It made it easier in so many ways. If he'd had to leave his
own room…he thought of the fading Quidditch posters and wooden beams of his
childhood room. He'd gone back there with his aunt over Christmas to collect
some things. He'd left the posters, as a promise to come back. He was burning
all his bridges, tonight. Everything he owned had been hastily shoved into his
school trunk. It wasn't so hard, given that he lived out of it nine months of
the year anyway. Bronwyn had been dispatched to Hogwarts, with a polite message
for the Headmaster. Hopefully it would be enough.
There was a sharp knock on
the door, and Theo froze. He was all packed, he couldn't disguise that, and –
The door opened a fraction.
changed!" he burst out.
"Oh, sorry," came
his aunt's voice. The door closed again. "I was just wondering if you were
asleep yet. Paul's listening to the Quidditch on the WWN."
" Yes, I'm going to
bed," Theo replied. "I'll find out the score in the morning."
"If it's finished by
then," his aunt said in an amused tone. "I have to…I'm going out
tonight, and I might not be back when Paul goes to work in the morning, so
could you make sure Lucas has his breakfast?"
then." He waited until he heard her footsteps clattering downstairs, then
shoved a chair under the door handle.
Theo walked over to the
window. It was a foggy night; perfect, but he'd have to be careful flying.
"Going out" was his aunt's term for Death Eater business, so she'd be
well away. He tried not to think about who was going to be a target.
Maybe the Aurors will
catch them. Maybe they'll be safe. I'm doing the only thing I can.
Checking the harness on his
trunk - he'd shrink it, but the last thing he needed was an owl from the
Ministry about underage magic - Theo opened the window wide. This was it, then.
Escape at last from his cousins.
His father's face came into
his mind. Could he do this to him? Eric Nott had lost his wife, and now Theo
was stealing his only child away. He had been so glad to see his father tonight, and he
wouldn't ever again. His father was his family. If he did this…
Then he remembered the Dark
Mark on his father's arm, and a panicked letter to Anne. He recalled seeing the
sun rise at this window, waiting for the owl to let him know she was safe.
It's him doing this, not
me, Theo thought
fiercely, and without a backward glance he headed out into the night.