“I can’t say too much about this because it
touches too closely on the prophecy and how many people knew about it, but the Lestranges were not in on the secret.”
Rowling on her website www.jkrowling.com
clicked softly and the door opened smoothly inwards. Barty slipped inside and
found himself in a low-lit, roomy entrance hall, its walls covered with
light-green and white striped wallpaper and a brown coloured carpet stretching
across the floor. On one side of the wall a couple of coats and cloaks hung
neatly from a hat-and-coat stand and on the other side a large mirror was
attached to the wall over a radiator. Apart from the front door Barty counted
three other doors and one staircase, and here and there a number of large cardboard
boxes were stacked on top of each other, out of the way against the wall.
voices coming from the first door on his left which was situated between the
mirror and the staircase, so he silently crept towards it. He didn't dare look
through any of the four small, square-shaped window-panes, curious though he
was, and instead kneeled down next to the door and listened carefully.
then, where were we before our belated, fourth companion finally showed
up?" A male voice spoke briskly.
widened in shock as he realised what these words implied: There were four
companions, four Death Eaters behind this door!
late than never, don't you agree?" The voice
continued mockingly. "Ah wait. Now I remember. We were talking …" but
a female voice interrupted him impatiently before he could finish his sentence:
"You can stop playing the delighted host, my dear husband. Our real guests
of honour won't speak without a little persuasion." She put a lot of
emphasis on the last word.
Now a second
male voice spoke urgently: "You can do what you want with us but we won't
say anything because there simply isn't anything we can tell you! We know as
much about what happened to He Who Must Not Be Named as you!"
curiosity won over his fear and he risked a quick peek through one of the lower
window-panes. There were four black cloaked figures standing in the gloomy
living room, their backs to the door and he saw two other shapes sitting on
wooden chairs, their bodies tied to the back of their chairs.
rubbish, Frank Longbottom!" The woman spat back, "You must know
something important about our Master, or Dumbledore wouldn't have hidden you so
well and for so long. So speak up, and tell us why you were going into
already told you." The man named Frank said wearily. "Alice was expecting a baby, for goodness
sake. We needed to spend some time away from the frontline. And besides, we
went into hiding well before your master disappeared."
enough," the first man spoke again. "If that's the way you want to
play the game, you leave us no other choice. Go ahead my dear."
now, Barty was feeling slightly dizzy. His head was spinning and he moved his
back, which was clammy with cold sweat, against the wall, dreading what would
should have chosen the easy way out," the woman said disapprovingly.
"Though if truth be told, I knew you wouldn't tell us the whole story
in fact, I prefer to get the desired information this way.” She added
excitedly. "Let's see if a little shock therapy will refresh your memory. Crucio!"
his fingers in his ears but the man's agonizing, ear-splitting cry still
penetrated deeply into his conscious. His legs failed him, going numb with
shock, and he slumped onto the ground and remained sitting there, rooted to the
spot as the seconds lengthened and the torturing continued.
the female Death Eater laugh cruelly and another woman open her mouth for the
first time. Her voice wasn't cruel or harsh like the other woman's, but hurt
and helpless, as she shrieked pleadingly: "Stop it! Please, stop it!"
The evil woman paid no attention to the other woman's words but eventually,
after what seemed like an hour, she lifted the curse.
chilling silence that hung around the room, only broken by the silent sobs of
the second woman and the heavy breathing of Frank Longbottom, was perhaps even
more disturbing than the violent sounds that had filled it only moments before,
as echoes of the sickening screams seemed to reverberate inside Barty's very
heart and soul. Horrified, he wondered how on earth one human being could
possibly do something so vicious and evil to a fellow human being. Sure, he had
heard some nasty stories about Death Eaters, but to actually witness one of
their foul deeds...
still didn't seem to be able to carry him, so he rolled onto his front and
started to crawl towards the exit. He needed to leave. He needed to find help for these poor people -
these... these hostages, who were probably kept captive in their own
home. While he made his slow way to the front door, the talking in the living
have you found some new details you want to share with us, or do you want
another dose?" The first Death Eater inquired calmly as if he were an
optician and he was asking if his client was finally able to see four numbers
instead of two, now that he'd changed lenses.
c-can't..." The mangled husband answered joltingly.
Frank," his wife begged through her tears, "I can't take this any
more. Tell them about our meeting with Albus and the Potters about the
"No Alice," Frank interrupted her before
she could let anything important slip, "I'm not worth that."
captors had smelled blood.
up!" the first Death Eater demanded forcibly, but the woman remained
can go on for hours and neither I nor any of my companions would mind doing so,
but I think you two would; the Cruciatus Curse isn't very
beneficial for your health and I'm sure you don't want to suffer any lasting
damage," he laughed. "Perhaps you're under the illusion that, in
time, the Cavalry will arrive at your doorsteps, so let me save you from
suffering that particular disappointment: there are very, very few people who
know about your sudden remove to your old house. By a lucky chance one of us
happened to hear the news this morning, and he made sure that no one else at
the Ministry would find out in a hurry."
Barty tried to push himself upwards against the radiator. His trembling hands,
white as a sheet, were gripping the cold radiator tightly, and slowly, inch by
inch, he was able to raise his body until it was more or less in a vertical
position. His feet were still barely supporting him and he took a moment to
rest before he'd try walking. He looked into the mirror in front of him and he
saw his own frightened face, his freckles much more prominent than ever before,
against his paler than usual skin.
if I were you, I wouldn't count on any of the Muggles outside hearing you
scream as we've placed a very powerful Imperturbable Charm on this house; not a
sound is going out. No, there's just you and us and the whole…."
flapping noise at the front door made the man stop his soliloquy and made Barty
jump. It was amazing how he was suddenly able to muster the strength to duck
and meanwhile sprint to the door at the other side of the room, quickly open
it, ran into what turned out to be the kitchen, and quietly close the door
behind him, in less than a second. Adrenalin was pumping through his body as he
waited with bated breath for the Death Eaters' reaction.
to worry about, brother," a third male voice reassured the others after a
few seconds. "It's just some local weekly Muggle newspaper that was shoved
into the mailbox."
exhaled with relief: for the moment he was safe. A quick glance around the
kitchen showed him that this room provided no real escape route, as the two
windows in this room could only be opened a few inches and the only other door
led almost certainly to the large living room, towards danger, so he had no
choice but to turn around and retrace his steps back into the hall.
he opened the door and tip-toed forward. He was startled to hear the voices
from the living room where the Death Eaters were still threatening the
Longbottoms more clearly. With a shock he realised that the Death Eater who'd
collected the newspaper, had left the door to the living room wide open so that
its occupants now had a clear view of a small piece of space between the front
door and the staircase.
meant that all exits downstairs were either beyond his reach or being watched,
so this left Barty with only one last option if he wanted to leave this place
soon. He slinked towards the bottom of the staircase and started his way up, praying desperately that none of the steps would creak.
was halfway up, he heard the female Death Eater cry: "Crucio!"
again and this time it was Mrs. Longbottom who was screaming beyond control.
Barty almost slipped but regained his balance just in time and made it safely
to the top, even though he was trembling worse than ever.
staggered blindly into the first room to his right, his heart sickened with
disgust and despair. He had no eye for the contents of the dark room as he
moved swiftly to a curtained window, roughly pushed the purple curtains apart,
and frantically tried to open the window. First the window didn't budge, but
after a few desperate seconds the window started to move outwards, its hinges
looked outside he was greeted by a pleasant and welcoming surprise: his
faithful pet Lyra was hovering a few feet away from the window and as soon as
the window was open wide enough, she flew onto his left forefinger.
he conjured a piece of paper, an inkbottle, a quill and a small cord out of
thin air and hastily began writing his rescue note. He tried to be as short and
terse as possible, as he wrote about the four Death Eaters, the Longbottoms and
the address. Without rereading his words he attached the paper to the bird's
tiny leg, who took of eagerly when the note was tied securely to its leg.
relief were spreading through his body as he watched Lyra disappear behind the
rooftops. He turned around and examined the room, immediately spotting an
occupied bedstead he'd overlooked when he'd so hastily entered this bedroom.
Barty edged forward, careful not to wake the little fellow who was sleeping so
peacefully in his comfortable bed, oblivious of the horrible things that were
happening to his parents downstairs. The boy couldn't be more than two years
old, one of his fragile hands clutching the edges of his blanket, a content
smile on his innocent face.
longingly wished he could turn back time, or swap places with the boy, so that
he'd be able to dream happily, play undisturbingly and
live a simple life, yet without grown-up worries.
a low, unfamiliar voice behind him shouted: "Petrificus
Totallus!" Before Barty could react, the curse
hit him and he felt his arms snap to his sides and his legs spring together as
he felt down helplessly, stiff as a board.