Progeny of Slytherin: The Beginning of the Riddle

Burrowed and Bodiless

"So, Bill," said Theodore, dragging his trunk and Sawer's cage as he followed Bill down the deserted road after politely refusing his request to carry his things, "Ron told me that you're a Curse-Breaker in Egypt. How's that like?"

"Yeah, breaking hexes, jinxes and curses are for me. Working for Gringotts means good pay and going abroad while risking my life for a few coins and goblets," Bill replied as he reached into his coat to take out his wand. He led the Parselmouth along a diverging street that had overhanging oak trees creeping alongside them, darkening their path. "Why, you interested?"

"Not really, no," Theodore said truthfully. "I guess going abroad is cool and all but breaking curses that could make my hand shrivel up is definitely a turnoff. Curse-Breaker is, unfortunately, not on my list of future career paths."

Bill chuckled as he stopped at the end of the street which was blocked off by thick hedges with an unusual number of puffy mushrooms at their roots. "Ah, that's unfortunate. With the way the Prophet is making you out to be, I'd have thought you lived for danger."

"Not everything in the Prophet is true…"

"And I believe you the entire way. Rita Skeeter's a dodgy woman, she. I've met her several times concerning what I'd bring back from different countries. Always told her that they were just old Muggle artefacts to throw her off. We're here."

Theodore balanced his trunk on the lopsided pavement when he stopped, waiting silently as he watched Bill pointing his wand at the space between him and the hedges whilst muttering under his breath.

The area where he pointed at suddenly began to ripple in the air like a fire had been lit, swirling and bubbling quicker and quicker until the distortion gained colour, reflecting off the weakened light that pierced through the leaves above them.

The first thing that Theodore could see was its shape: a small car that looked almost recognisable to the Parselmouth if it weren't for its reconditioning. Theodore was certain that it was the same Ford Anglia that came to their rescue when Ron drove it into Pettigrew, but it was hard to tell from the looks of it. Where there had been severe rusting along with the flaking old paint was a smooth coating of a deep red colour. The moss had been completely cleared away from the mirror and wheels, and the flashlights were functioning perfectly. It was as if it had been bought just a few minutes ago, absolutely pristine condition.

"Cornelius Fudge managed to let Dad keep the car after what Ron did back at school. You should've seen the look on his —" The car horn blared with an earsplitting sound that made Theodore and Bill jump backwards in shock. "Oi, Fred! What the hell are you doing?! Get in the back with Ginny, you loon!"

"It's OK, Sawer, calm down. Viripin, you're squeezing my neck…" comforted Theodore to his animal companions, for they were also frightened by the noise. Viripin loosened her hold around his neck but had winded herself around him so much that it didn't make a difference.

Bill waved him over with a disgruntled face and marched to the car on the driver's side with his wand twirling around his fingers. Sawer became restful after a minute of Theodore calming him down, and he settled in his cage but still shuddered as if the sound would reappear from all corners.

The moving figures inside became clearer the closer he came towards the car; he saw the vivid long red hair that belonged to the youngest Weasley in the back flailing as Ginny shoved herself next to the window, looking particularly annoyed until she caught sight of Theodore walking past. Ginny gave him a grin and a wave which he returned — she looked in much better spirits than he had ever seen her before. Theodore quickly wondered if she had gotten over her Chamber of Secrets 'experience'.

'Bill, Fred, and Ginny? Just three people out of a massive family? This is easily the oddest combination of Weasleys I've ever seen. Odd, but great, for some reason.'

"Just throw your things in the boot and go sit at the front, Theo," said Bill with a flick of his wand as the boot door swung open. "It's charmed to be bigger than it looks, but you obviously knew that. You can leave your owl and snake in the back with Fred and Ginny as well."

Theodore hauled his trunk with his palms burning from its weight and rolled it into the seemingly tiny compartment but managed to make it fit snugly on its side before he closed the door and entered the newly-improved car in the passenger's seat.

"Well, I'll be damned! If it isn't Theodore Riddle, Death Eater hunter and soon-to-be Auror, sitting right in front of me! Ginny, catch me if I faint."

"Leave me alone, Fred," muttered Ginny from behind Theodore's seat. "Longtime, no see, Theo! How've you been?"

Theodore was busy looking around the car, taking in the flowery smell that had been added from the last time he was inside that Ginny had to pinch him on his shoulder to get his attention. "Ow! I've been good, Ginny, thanks. And let's not start, Fred, please?"

Fred leaned back in his chair and took Sawer's cage in his lap as he remarked, "I can't help it if the Prophet is writing about you almost every day. People have been dying to see what you look like since your name pops up every so often. Rumour has it that you got stalkers and admirers, even without your photo in the paper."

"Well, that's not new now, is it?"

"Cocky much?" Ginny jested with a raised eyebrow behind him.

"Accurate, more like it. You've seen the way I get letters on my birthday and the way girls… look at me and stuff," he muttered with a little bit of embarrassment.

"Wow. I didn't think that you ever noticed them wanting your attention," said Ginny as she brought herself closer to stroke Viripin on the head. "I mean, Hermione said that you lacked basic awareness of the girls around you before, but…"

Theodore frowned and opened his mouth to say something in return but was cut off by Bill who turned the ignition as he told Ginny to sit back. "Get your seatbelts on, kids. Fred, keep tight to that cage. You sure you don't want Ginny to hold your snake, Theo?"

"Please? I've missed her so much!" pleaded the girl with her arms outstretched. Ginny smiled even wider when Viripin slithered off Theodore's shoulders and onto her lap where she was petted adoringly by her.

The car revved up and slowly drove along the road, and Bill was steering the wheel whilst simultaneously fiddling with the dashboard that had several buttons along it, namely the big silver one on top that said Invisibility Booster beneath it. "Can't believe Dad made me learn how to fly this thing under three days…"

Theodore instantly clutched the handlebar on his door and held the strap of his seatbelt tightly. "Fly…?" he said weakly. "We-we're going to f-fly? In this thing?"

Bill looked confused. "Didn't you fly in this when you couldn't get through the barrier two years ago?"

Theodore shook his head rapidly.

"Well, what about when you left with the car to the castle?"

Theodore shook his head rapidly again. He didn't want to fly all the way to Devon; he didn't think that it was an option at all. But then, he knew that the car could fly as well, so it was foolish of him to assume that they'd be driving all the way down there by a measly-sized car. "Can't we just Apparate instead?" Theodore asked, desperate for an alternative.

"Theo, we can't all Apparate. You guys are underaged, and I'm not risking the Ministry getting on my back. Look, I know a few charms that'll help you along the way: you'll feel sleepier than —"

"No, n-no thanks. I'll — I'll try not to get sick or something…"

"Are you sure, Theo?" Fred asked, now dropping his pestering to be serious. "It'll help, seriously. Plus, there's only a number of times that you can be sick before your stomach empties out…"

Theodore refused the offer and sat back in his seat, holding tighter to the handlebar and seatbelt with his eyes completely closed. Viripin reappeared at his shoulders and nuzzled at his temple to keep him calm while the car began to pick up speed along the road until with a jolt, everything felt light and airy.

"Breathe, Theodore, breathe," hissed the Maibian Adder soothingly in his ear. "I'll be here, OK? Everything is going to be fine, just breathe…"

The wringing of his stomach, the painful clamping feeling in his throat made him feel as if his body was rejecting his will to live. The car swerved a little to the right, sending a searing cramp in his stomach that he could barely hold onto. Viripin carried on nuzzling against him, and the three Weasleys' voices faded a little as the car climbed higher in the air.

"I'm OK," Theodore managed to force out for everyone to hear. He felt a hand rubbing on his shoulder along with a voice that told him to hang on, but it didn't last for that long, for Theodore felt himself being dragged down further and further in uncomfortableness, eyes swirling underneath his eyelids, stopping when it became too much for him as it all faded away slowly.

"Theo… Theodore, wake up…"

"Fucking hell, I knew that he'd pass out five minutes in. And you wouldn't believe me, would you, Ginny?"

"Watch it, Fred. Just because Mum's not around, doesn't mean you can let your mouth go loose. Hold on, let me get my wand and… Rennervate."

Theodore's eyes flung wide open as he gasped loudly in shock and complete confusion. They flickered in every direction frantically, only to pile on more confusion from what he was seeing: or what he couldn't.

Bill had completely vanished on his right; so did the dashboard in front of him; the rear-view mirror didn't reflect Fred or Ginny at the back nor was it present, and Theodore's feet was gone, along with his entire body. All that he could see were wheat fields sprayed with the pinkish-orange light from the setting sun below him like he was completely bodiless without form.

"Uhh, what's happening?!" the Parselmouth panicked whilst waving his non-existent hands in front of his face. "Where are my hands, why can't I see my hands?!"

"Calm down, Theo, we're just about to land soon, all right?" said Bill's voice on his right. "Look! The Burrow is right over there, we made it!"

"Viripin, where are you?! What's happening?!"

"I'm around your neck, Theodore, can't you tell? Bill pressed that silver button the second you fell unconscious. It made the entire car turn invisible," hissed the serpent from seemingly nowhere. "Look, just calm down. We're going down now."

The Ford Anglia quickly dipped through the spaced area of trees that preceded the bare fields of grass, lowering closer to the ground with slight judders on its descent: Bill muttered how could Muggles work with planes and cars. Soon after, the car touched the ground tougher than Theodore would've liked and rolled along a wide dirt path that carried onwards to a small derelict garage not too far from the bizarrely constructed house that barely caught his eye for obvious reasons.

As the image of his body, Viripin's, and Bill's face reappeared upon the car switching off, Theodore scrambled out onto the ground and breathed heavily, sucking in so much air that he had an odd sensation of drowning somehow.

Viripin butted her head against his forehead and said, "All right, up you get. I really need to work on your fear of heights. You jumped off a tower, Theodore. A tower!"

"Yeah, well… desperate times called for desperate… measures," Theodore breathed as he shakily got back onto his knees.

"You could've just snuck past everyone in the castle — you're so prone to danger, I'm genuinely scared about what could happen next year."

"Not… the point…"

Ginny's car door swung open as she jumped out of the Ford and knelt down next to the Parselmouth to check if he was all right. After most of the stirring had faded away — Theodore still carried on drawing short breaths — Theodore slowly got on his feet with Ginny's help and brushed off the dust that he collected on his jeans. Fred patted him on the back and offered to carry Sawer inside, and Bill gave his concern for the last time then walked over to the boot to retrieve Theodore's trunk.

Fred slung one arm around Theodore to swerve him in the right direction and said, "Come on, superstar. Your eyes are swirling so much in their sockets that I'm getting dizzy from looking at them."

"Don't worry, Theo. Mum said that she'd have dinner ready when we would come back!" Ginny piped in. She took in a large sniff of air and sighed airily. "Ahh, that smells good!"

Theodore rubbed his eyes to clear his vision, for he couldn't tell if they were going towards the garage or through the wheat fields surrounding the area where they landed. He didn't question either of them and continued to follow Fred's lead until the sight before him forced him out of his height-induced daze.

The Parselmouth lifted his head from ground to top, gazing at the abstract building that couldn't have stood anywhere in the Muggle world, no matter the effort given. Theodore thought of it as a painting, more of a sculpture of small cottages or houses all meshed together to create the wonderfully weird house with the several misplaced chimneys: Theodore truly did think it was wonderful.

"Yep, this is it," said Bill from behind with Theodore's trunk levitating above his head, "the Weasley Residence in its entirety. Theodore, may we present to you The Burrow!"

"Wow… I've never seen a house like this before…"

"It's… probably not what you're used to," Ginny added a little timidly. "Ron mentioned that you had a house from your mum."

Theodore gave her a half-lazy grin and replied, "I lived in an orphanage for my entire life. I wish I was used to this! Wow…"

Ginny beamed at him and skipped onwards to the front door which had wheels, boots, kettles and cauldrons stacked over each other while chickens clucked somewhere on the left near the large apple tree in the far end.

Unable to hide his sudden tiredness, Theodore yawned when he was the second-to-last one to step onto the porch, not even acknowledging the sign that read THE BURROW swinging just inches away from his forehead. He followed Fred inside the cramped hallway with mountains of furniture on both sides, the hallway itself just a little lighter than the darkening sky outside. Theodore even wondered how his trunk was going to fit... well, anywhere.

The front hallway didn't go on for very long: it was quite short on the contrary. Theodore found himself standing in a circular area that would seem to be junctions leading to the stairs that zigzagged repeatedly as they ascended, the living room that looked even more cluttered than the front hallway, and the room where the smell of stomach-rumbling food came from. Surely had to be the kitchens.

But as Ginny zipped into the kitchen, Fred up the stairs taking Sawer with him, and Bill setting the trunk next to the boy before quickly going out the front door again, Theodore noticed that it was very quiet. Very, very quiet.

'Am I supposed to believe that nobody is here? There are five kids — six if counting Bill — here and Mrs Weasley. Hermione should be here as well, so where is everyone?'

"…dear? Could you please get the tool that looks like a potato-peeler and spade in the living room?" said Mrs Weasley's voice from the kitchen.

A very familiar voice replied with, "Sure, Mrs Weasley!" enticing Theodore to instantly turn towards the entrance of the kitchen to see a mass of bushy brown hair bouncing behind a quick figure who didn't stop for a second to notice the perplexed boy standing in plain sight.

"Umm… hello to you too, Hermione?"

Hermione froze at the living room doorway and spun slowly on her heels to face him. Theodore didn't think that someone could change so much in just two weeks; albeit, there was nothing drastic about Hermione at all. Her hair was still as bushy as before, and her eyebrows were still thick, but Theodore remembered her being just a tad bit taller with cheeks that were slightly more rounded, lips that weren't as shiny as before, and now that he noticed all of a sudden, she definitely didn't have —

"Theo!" Hermione nearly leapt from the doorway and threw her arms around Theodore's torso, digging her head into his chest as she squeezed him tightly. Theodore shakily wrapped his arms around the Muggle-born, suddenly feeling a spike of heat inside him from the very small space between them as she pulled herself closer, pressing firmly against him. "Mr Weasley said that you were going to be here by this afternoon!"

"I — I was with a friend going somewhere special," he said suppressing a rising, unusual urge to gulp, "but I should've known that we would've been flying over here. Otherwise, we wouldn't make it here until morning."

Hermione pulled her head away just a little, still keeping herself close to him as she drove her fingers through her hair to see him more clearly. "Oh, rough ride, huh? You didn't get sick or anything?"

Theodore shook his head just slightly, smiling nervously. "Almost did but… lucky me, I guess."

"Yeah. Lucky you…" Her words trailed off and were forgotten by the both of them as for a moment that felt so much longer than it probably did, their eyes didn't break from each other at all. Theodore could've sworn that Hermione was inching closer to his face by just the slightest margin, although he blamed it on him staring for too long. Not that he minded at all. But he was certain that she was getting closer and closer…

"Hermione, did you say Theo's name? Is he back?"

Hermione jumped away and twisted her arms behind her back, blushing profusely when she heard Ron's voice coming from the kitchen growing louder until he came into vision, still tall and lanky as ever. "He is here! Hermione, why didn't you say anything?"

Hermione had her back turned to him and absentmindedly fiddled with a spring in the shape of a star and shrugged whilst saying, "You just didn't hear me, Ron. I clearly said that he was here."

"Sure you did. What's up, Theo?" greeted Ron as he put an arm around his shoulder. "Finally made it here after, what, two summers?"

"Couldn't hold it off for that much longer, could I? So, this is the famous Weasley house, huh? I've only been here for five minutes and I want to see everything." Theodore covered his mouth for a yawn and stretched; his stomach rumbled at the same time. "Right after I get something in my stomach and into bed."

"Well, you just came in time. Mum was in the kitchen cooking so much stuff with Hermione and Ginny before she left, just because you were coming over."

Theodore looked over at Hermione and felt a little bit embarrassed. Cooking a massive meal just for him? Surely, that was too much, right? He wouldn't normally complain about being served dishes after dishes, but he didn't think that anything he did was worth an extravaganza of a dinner. "Right, that's cool, I guess. Hey, have you guys heard from Harry recently? I only managed to get two letters from him and that's it. Didn't he talk to you two?"

Hermione and Ron gave each other distant glances before they vanished from their faces as Ron led him to the stairs with Hermione tagging behind them. "Yeah, Harry did talk to us. Apparently, he's having a bit of a rough time with the Muggles. Kept on going about their strict diet plan that we had to send him food by owl."

"He didn't tell me that he was being nearly starved," muttered Theodore. "Why didn't he say something? I mean, he told me about their diet, but he wasn't really crying for help."

"You know how Harry is. He doesn't ask people for help, even with some of the little things. He was happy about the cakes and stuff, though. Dad's going to probably grab him from the Dursleys soon so he won't have to stay there for too long, hopefully. All right, here we are!"

Theodore and Hermione followed Ron into the first room on the left on the fifth floor to have their eyes flooded with orange at nearly every corner. Theodore thought that it had to be Ron's favourite colour, and that could've been true, but the reason for it laid in the posters that were peeling off the wallpaper. The orange emblem holding two golden cannons crossing over each other told him that it was the Chudley Cannons, Ron's favourite Quidditch team.

"Your room's pretty big for just one person, Ron," awed Theodore. He looked over at the corner where Ron's collection of books of all different sizes and colours were stacked, the top having been recent edits of the Prophet. Sprawled out along the ground of the large room that was at least twice as big as Theodore's, were four green sleeping bags that resembled the ones Dumbledore conjured during Sirius's 'frolicking' back at Hogwarts.

Ron sat over at his bed and rearranged his covers in a quick attempt to make a good impression as he replied, "Mum, Dad and Charlie spaced the room out with a charm. Since he and Bill are staying in Fred and George's room, and Percy gets to keep his for some reason, the rest of us have to bunk in my room: me, you, Fred, George and Harry when he comes."

"I know this Charm. This is the…" Hermione mused for a while before she snapped her fingers when it came to her. "The Extension Charm, isn't it? They make things bigger on the inside, but it looks the same on the outside."

Ron nodded. He explained to them how five boys in one room weren't practical at all, so it came down to charming the place. Theodore looked over the room some more, marking his sleeping bag as the one closest to the small window which gave a clear view of the overgrown garden with shabby gnomes waddling around.

"— so basically, we won't have to —"

"Ron! Did you take my socks again? How many times have I told you not to use my socks for scooping up —"

"I didn't take your stupid socks, Percy," Ron shouted from the doorway. "Go ask Fred or George, they're always nicking your stuff!"

"Don't make me come to your room and tell you off there! I'll do it, you know!"

"Did you not just listen to me?! I didn't take your — see what I have to deal with?" Ron moaned at the other two. "Percy thinks that now he's made it into the Ministry, he's the head of the family. Newsflash, he's got two cooler older brothers, and Dad already made it. He's making it bigger than it is."

Hermione lifted her chin a little and said, "Well, I think it's great for Percy to join the Ministry. He was Head Boy last year, and he aced his NEWTs as well. You've got big shoes to fill."

"Don't you think I already know that, Hermione," he shot back with an annoyed look. "Bill already got Head Boy, Charlie was popular as hell, Fred and George are going the same way, but —"

"Ron! Where are my socks?!"

"I don't have your flipping socks, you obsessive prat!" Ron bellowed back.

"Any more shouting and there'll be no dinner for either of you, am I clear?!"

"Yes, Mum," said the two brothers together moodily.

"Good. Now, everyone come downstairs, dinner's ready, children!" Mrs Weasley sang as if nothing happened.

Ron stuck his hands in his pockets and slunk out of the door, not phased at all by Fred and George nearly crashing into him in the wonky corridor. Theodore allowed Viripin to curl up in his sleeping bag and opened Sawer's cage on top of an empty, low shelf for him to keep her company. Hermione was halfway through the door waiting and took to the stairs first with an almost un-Hermionish bounce to her step as her hair jumped along with her. Theodore had never seen her so… 'giddy' before and honestly, he thought it was sort of…

The three teens entered the kitchen that was an amalgamation of a dining room, living and kitchen all in one. It was noticeably smaller than Ron's room with a wide wooden table in its centre surrounded by chairs that were all mismatched.

Bill was sitting at one corner of the table talking to an unfamiliar redhead that was sure to be Charlie, Fred and George were sitting on opposite sides chucking multi-coloured rubber balls at each other with Ginny avoiding any missed catches. The only person who was not present at the table was Mr Weasley himself: Theodore deduced that he was probably on his way home from work.

Mrs Weasley opened her arms out wide at the sight of the Parselmouth and hurried over to squeeze him in a hug which lasted for quite a while, at least to Theodore it did. "How are you, dear? Bill said you came inside, but I didn't see you anywhere!"

Theodore pulled away gently and told her that Ron was just showing him where he would be sleeping.

"I see that you're stepping up as a host, Ron. Much better than the year you took the car to take Harry from his family two years ago," Mrs Weasley mentioned passive-aggressively to her youngest son. Ron's ears went pink, and he muttered something about not being the only one who left as he sat next to Ginny and George.

Theodore then found a seat opposite to Hermione, who sat next to Fred and the empty seat which was saved for Mrs Weasley, and next to Percy — he was unsuccessful with grabbing a plate to his room — and Charlie, who stuck his hand out the second Theodore touched his plum chair.

"Hey there. Charlie Weasley, the second one," he introduced himself as Theodore shook his calloused, strong hand.

"You don't have to mention our surname, Charlie, he knows who we are," said Fred with an eyebrow raised.

"I've got to be formal, right? You must be Theodore Riddle, huh? Heard a lot about you, starting from your first year, of course."

Theodore thought back to Norbert and how it would be their first string of roaming the castle at nighttime. "So, I take it that you've read the Prophet as well?"

Charlie rolled up his sleeves to reveal several old burns on his skin when the food floated along the table in reach of everyone. He took a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and smiled as he said, "Couldn't help myself, could I? I've got friends sending me owls from across the world telling me that some kids managed to capture a Death Eater who'd been in hiding for twelve years! Then I see Ron's name in the paper and it all went wild!"

"Well, don't believe everything that they say," assured the Parselmouth as he dumped sausages and gravy onto his plate, "most of it's exaggerated. I could barely walk through most of it. Ron was the one who ran him over with a car."

"And that was awesome, Ron."

"Thanks, Charlie," said Ron, ears red again.

"Are you guys looking to become Aurors then? There hasn't been a new recruit since Tonks joined, and I'm pretty sure that Amelia Bones would put you guys on a junior-program."

Ron perked up with eyes wider than Luna's, Hermione wiggled her eyebrows in thought and Theodore just blinked. "I wouldn't really mind becoming an Auror, it's just that… there isn't that much to do now these days, right? Most of the Dark wizards and witches are either locked up or… dead."

"Can't say that another wave of Dark wizards won't come again," Charlie played off expertly before chewing on a chicken bone that made him resemble Ron in a way. "But I get what you mean. Tonks is always telling me how boring it gets over at the DMLE. She is having a good time, though. Mad-Eye's training her from what I heard.

Fred, George and Ron clattered their cutlery on their plates and dropped their jaws. "Mad-Eye Moody is training Tonks?!"

"Umm, who's Tonks?"

"An old schoolfriend of mine. You should meet her sometime, although you won't want to get too close. She's a bit of a walking disaster," chuckled Charlie, shaking his head as if he were reliving old bit precious memories. Charlie then looked over Theodore's head to his younger brother and asked the silent Percy, "How's it down in the Ministry, Percy? Barty off sick again?"

Percy cleared his throat and straightened himself. "Mr Crouch is just under a lot of stress at the moment. He's been under a lot of fire from the public due to Sirius Black's upcoming trial. Several people have filed complaints to — at the very best — demote him from his position."

"Would only expect so," chirped in Mrs Weasley. "After what he did to his own son… Of course, he was a Death Eater, after all. I do feel bad about what he had to go through after he died, along with his wife. Anyway, about school! Kids, did you know that Dumbledore is adding two more prefect positions this year to each house? The four of you have a higher chance of getting them when this year's over."

She shot an uncomfortable look at the twins which did its job. Fred and George looked away and poked at their steak.

"Fat chance," said Ron under his breath. "I already know that Theo and Hermione will get chosen, and they'll probably only have two boys and two girls, the other boy being Harry."

"There are only six boys in our year, Ron. You can make it if you show Professor Dumbledore that you're responsible enough to take the role."

Ron looked like he wanted to snort at Hermione's addition but stopped when Mrs Weasley commended her for it. "Nicely put, Hermione. It's all about confidence, Ron. Look at your big brothers. They made it as Prefects because they knew what they wanted."

Ron sunk even lower in his seat and sulked as dinner went on. The mood, however, did manage to pick up when Charlie told stories about how he was chasing stray dragons in Albania for months, almost running into several Muggles along the way. Theodore enjoyed every single twist in each story as much as he enjoyed every bit of his plate that filled him up like a school meal. And every so often, between a bite of his tart and ice cream or a sip of his goblet, he'd catch the slightest smile from Hermione, who — Theodore had to admit that it was true — was doing quite a poor job at hiding it. Not to say that he minded: he didn't mind one bit.

The plates were emptied, and eyelids began to droop when the night had fully washed into the kitchen, telling everybody to go to their beds. Theodore was itching to go to his after today; he had visited two wizarding houses, one with his best friend that had a house-elf living inside, flew all the way across England in an invisible enchanted car and had one of the greatest meals of the summer so far. Safe to say that he needed his bed at that moment.

"Mum sure knows how to — how to make one hell of a meal," George yawned from the top of the stairs. "Wasn't cool of her to take a jab at us, though. How's it our fault that we weren't chosen? I could be Head Boy without becoming a prefect! That'll show Percy!"

"I'm right here, George."

"I know."

Theodore rubbed his stiff chest and felt the raised scars underneath his shirt, thinking for just a second if Hermione felt them when she — she would've known about them anyway. Theodore turned his head around when he felt someone tugging at his sleeve and halted just before the steps on the first floor to be levelled with Hermione as the last of the kids.

"What's wrong?" asked Theodore, rubbing his sore eyes. He only realised how close she was when she started to talk, albeit rather softly.

"Theo, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, ask away."

"Well, it's two things, actually. The first thing was about Sirius's trial. I haven't really heard anything from you. It's not bothering you, is it?"

"Not as much as Rita Skeeter," the Parselmouth said, disgruntled at the thought of her. "I've gone and used the last of my Knuts on a subscription, only to see my name in the headlines every single time. What a waste."

Hermione gave him a kind smile and rubbed his arm. "It's not an entire waste. You still get to keep up with what's going on outside Stuggle's. I even got a subscription just before the year ended, plus, it won't be that bad when we get back to school. I'm sure it'll die down by then."

"Yeah, well, here's hoping. Anyway, what's the second one? Is it about my favourite colour that you asked Harry about? Green's sort of up there if you were wondering."

"I… that'll matter later, like very soon. Umm…" She took one step up and pressed her palm against his chest just barely where his scars were. "Are they OK? You said that these ones wouldn't…"

Theodore patted her hand and gave half a smile. "They're not pretty, I'll give you that. Although, I'm not the only one who came out with scars. Did you show your parents?"

"Wow," Theodore muttered, shaking his head as he trotted up the stairs. "First the Basilisk, now the Time-Turner. I can lie to my carers because I have to, but those are your parents. You have to tell them something."

Hermione followed him up hurriedly and quickly said, "Well, I can't! And I don't think I should! How do you think my dad's going to react if I tell him that I got skewered by a giant snake; nearly strangled and burned by a time-travelling necklace, or almost killed by a follower of You-Know-Who? There's a reason why I don't say everything about you to them."

"You still talk to them about me?" Theodore asked with a small smile as they reached the fifth floor next to Ron's room.

"They're always asking about you; it's not like I bring you up all the time, you know."

"Aww, just when I thought you'd never stop thinking about me."

"I-I… I — I didn't mean —! You're —!" she stammered. Her face had gone so pink that it was too obvious for Theodore to ignore. Hermione remained still just before the last step and tapped nervously at the bannister watching Theodore suddenly stop in front of Ron's bedroom door to face her.

"Umm… see you in the morning, Hermione…"

"Goodnight, Theo," she smiled back, running her fingers through her hair again, face completely pink from his inescapable grin.

Her hair bobbed up and down when she left for presumably Ginny's room, goading the Parselmouth to look through the gaps of the handrail to see her disappear downstairs. "'Just when I thought you'd never stop thinking about me?' Why on Earth would you say that…?"

"Got lost on the stairs, did you?" Fred was already in his sleeping bag while George had Sawer on his forearm with something suspiciously similar to a letter hidden in between his fingers. "Or… a certain someone stopped you on the way up, eh? Theodore, you dog! Barely been here for five minutes and he can barely —"

"What are you doing with Sawer, George," said Theodore tiredly. The day had dragged out for so long that his conversation with Poppy felt like days ago, or that Louise had been gone for another three years… Louise… He facepalmed. He'd forgotten to start a letter for her when he promised that he'd write the second he got there. "I'll do it first thing in the morning. That's the latest she'll expect it…"

"The kid's gone mad. I think the Ford Anglia really messed him up — Theo, what're you doing?"

"Sleeping… going to sleep…" he slurred upon hitting the plush sleeping bag, not caring that his clothes were still on. Viripin was hidden inside and luckily made it out quickly, slithering over to Sawer's empty cage as she hissed irritably to herself.

"But we were going to play some Exploding Snap," said Ron. "We even made special editions with Lockhart's face on them."

Theodore moaned and wriggled around, trying to find the perfect position. "Want to go sleep… I had a long day… going to Elmbridge with Louise… have to go sleep… have to go…" Green and purple fires grew together and mixed in the haze of Theodore's mind, dancing everywhere as if fire-whips were being slashed in the air like feeble tinsel. He saw an obscurer version of his mother's house with vivid green eyes staring straight through the cracked windows until he couldn't remember any more of it, not the house-elf that sobbed upon meeting him or… or…

For the first time in weeks, Theodore woke up finally in a setting that was unusual to him. Instead of waking up to the smell of rainwater seeping in through the windows, bacon and eggs, toast, beans and all sorts of breakfast foods revived him as if he miraculously returned from a coma. He had almost forgotten that he didn't change from his normal clothes and stared at himself for quite a while with his left eye open until the connection was made. A long day it was for sure.

Theodore took one last sniff and ruffled his hair away from his eyes, briefly pondering on whether his hair had grown too long. He hadn't had his hair cut in several months — it wasn't on his list of priorities, not that he had any so far. His trunk was propped up against the wall next to Ron's poster of a Galvin Gudgeon but was too far for his liking. Oh well, it wasn't like he wasn't allowed to feel lazy anyway.

"Mmph… Theo…? That you?" said Ron's indistinct voice from under his sheets.

"Hmm. Where's Fred and George?"

Ron threw his duvet off him and screeched whilst stretching, "Probably already downstairs. Can already smell Mum cooking breakfast. Hey, get dressed so that we can do something later, you fell asleep in your clothes."

"Thanks, I didn't notice," remarked the Parselmouth sarcastically. Theodore then left his sleeping bag and grabbed Viripin and Sawer's food from his trunk, his mouth barely able to resist the temptation to drool from the smell getting stronger.

"All right, don't get pissy. It's only the morning. Oh, I forgot to tell you about the ghoul in the attic. For some reason, it was quiet yesterday. Weird. Also, the bathroom's on the third floor, but you'll have to go after me."

Theodore scrunched up his face in confusion. "Before you? What do you — wait, Ron, no!" Ron was out of the room in a flash with his clothes clumsily held in his hand before he disappeared down the stairs in an orange blur. "So much for being a good host… Viripin, here's your food. Tell Sawer to take these seeds, the old ones aren't good for him anymore."

Theodore did find some solace, however, in seeing Ron waiting desperately outside the bathroom for Ginny to come out after what could've been thirty minutes at least. After she had left — Ginny's face was rather stoic, but Theodore could see that she was troubled — Ron finished quickly and so did Theodore as well.

Mr Weasley greeted him courteously when they bumped into each other in the intersection and asked him a barrage of questions about his journey until his wife called them both inside the kitchen. Theodore met eyes with Hermione who left for the garden with Ginny after a brief flare in the cheeks and scoffed his plate down with Ron, Fred and George before they left for the garden as well.

"All right, kids!" announced Fred as he led everybody around back to the stone outhouse, "seeing as how we've got another misfit with us here —"

"I'm not a misfit," interrupted Theodore from the back.

"Blatant lie. Anyway, until the 'main man' himself comes by God knows when, we've got even numbers for Quidditch. Yes, Ginny, you can play too. But you're using Charlie's old broom."

"Fine by me."

"Hermione, I know that you're not really into this, so —"

"You hit the nail on the head, Ron," said Hermione. She had a book on Arithmancy tucked under her armpit which looked thicker than any other book she had possessed before in the past, "because I'm going to read up on —"

Ron groaned in displeasure. "How bored must you be to read during summer, Hermione? It's not even the end of July! Theo, you're —"

"No." Theodore stopped and stared over at a gang of gnomes flipping them off with ugly grins on their faces, and he almost laughed. "Aren't gnomes a bit too stupid to know what that means?"

"Not after what these two taught them," pointed Ron at his older brothers. "Mum almost caught them teaching several swear words to them last year. They know a great deal more than me, that's for sure."

Fred, George and Ginny rummaged through the broom shed and grabbed a beaten red ball and four splintered brooms with dust and cobwebs collecting on the fine, uneven twigs on the ends. Ron embarrassingly took the smallest one from Fred after eyeing Ginny taking the last somewhat held-together broom.

The group of six then turned back to the large garden and carried on through the back where a lofty tree with several roots digging through the soil in its vicinity was providing a quality amount of shade underneath it. As the Weasleys squabbled over teams and who would play whatever position, Hermione walked away from the group and sat under the tree leaning her back against the wall with her book open on her lap.

Theodore's first instinct was to walk right over and sit next to her, a thought that came so quickly he didn't know where it came from. But just then, he felt a tap on his shoulder and turned his head to George who asked, "Since you're not going to fly with us, could you at least be the ref? Ron really wants to play, so…"

"Hey! I heard that!"

"I've barely seen enough matches to know every rule." He looked around the corner of his eye to briefly glance at Hermione being completely invested in her reading before he continued, "And besides, doesn't the referee have to be flying with everyone else? If so, then —"

"No, no, don't worry about that," George assured suspiciously as he held Theodore's shoulder to guide him away to the open area of the uneven grass. "You can be on the ground looking up at us and see if we're giving or getting fouls and stuff. There's only four us, anyway, and Ron isn't that terrible on the broom for him to be a danger."

"I'm right here!"

"I know."

Theodore shrugged, thinking that it was probably the least hazardous position in the game. He had a fairly basic knowledge of Quidditch after seeing Harry's games and could tell that they were going to play with a Quaffle as well. The other two tall trees would probably serve as goalposts with Ginny and George marking a spot on one end, and Ron and Fred on the other. Since Fred already gave the signal for the game to begin, and the Quaffle was coming straight into Theodore's direction, this meant —

Theodore tripped backwards and narrowly dodged the nose of George's broom when he attempted a complicated dive that could probably only be performed from using a Firebolt. "What the hell, George?! You nearly pushed my fucking nose back inside my skull!"

"Ahh, sorry man. Was trying to do Victor Krum's special move, the Wronski Feint. My bad."

Fred scoffed at his twin mid-air and dropped down a bit to punch him in the arm. "You're absolutely slacking, man! Josef Wronski, not Krum! You should get points taken off just for that…"

"Try that, and I'll send you crashing into the hole where the gnomes take shits bigger than their heads."

Theodore, feeling angry and content that he was being ignored by everyone, stood up stiffly and brushed himself off muttering under his breath. If it hadn't been for the slight draft behind his left calf to reveal a hole in his jeans, he wouldn't have seen Hermione half-hidden behind her book attempting to hold in a smile after witnessing the commotion.

His moment of anger was being slowly smothered until George returned back onto the ground to tap his shoulder once more. "I'm not being the referee anymore unless we do something else," the Parselmouth said sternly to the relaxed older teen.

"Theo, all we do outside is play Quidditch. Hell, even without brooms, we do nothing out here, except for gnome-chucking. Want to try it —"

Theodore waved it aside. It was bad enough that he couldn't make it past ten feet off the ground on a broom, but now he was in danger standing still as well? The answer was so obvious that George didn't even question it; he just left him to be when Ginny called for his help when Ron and Fred began to dominate the points.

Taking in and expelling out his many moments of annoyance towards the subject, Theodore sighed thinking himself of a coward that at the age of fourteen, a wizard like himself was absolutely feeble against something as mundane as heights.

"You can jump off a tower but can barely mount a broom," Theodore grumbled as he kicked up stones from the ground. "Pathetic."

Just outside the back door came voices from Mr Weasley, Bill and Charlie all discussing something rather secretive, judging from how they straightened themselves from Theodore's gaze. It had to be regarding the trial he thought to himself. Mr Weasley worked in the Ministry, so it had to be it, obviously. Theodore didn't know the full details, however; being kept away at Stuggle's would have you in the dark mostly. From the way the Prophet was sizing it up, it had to be worth talking about for several weeks —

"…Theo! Are you still daydreaming, I've been calling your name for a minute now!"

He blinked several times before remembering where he was and turned on the spot towards the direction from where the voice came from. "Sorry, Hermione, I was just… thinking."

"You're not going to do a lot of thinking with the sun burning your scalp. You've been standing there for at least three minutes."

Theodore scratched his head to feel the heat in his hair and shrugged. "It's not that hot. I could use a tan anyway, I look like I'm not allowed to go outdoors."

Hermione lifted one leg over the other and patted the space next to her under the shade and called out, "Well, instead of just standing around waiting for one of them to crash into you again, you can come sit over here in the shade."

The Parselmouth drove his arm across his forehead and walked over slowly to where she was sat and did his best to avoid the roots as his legs felt a little numb from the fall. He plopped down next to Hermione beneath high hanging branches of thick leaves not letting a single beam of light through and rested himself against the smooth drystone wall.

"See, that's better now, isn't it?" said Hermione moving her hair behind her ear whilst turning the next page.

"Ron's right, you know. You don't have to read, it's summer. We're supposed to have fun."

"Then why aren't you doing anything 'fun'?"

"Because you called me over to sit with you," Theodore pointed out as he plucked a smooth stone from underneath the root and tossed it hand-to-hand. "I'd be fine with seeing what's over the other side of the field but flying on brooms? No thanks."

"Why don't you like flying, though? We were in the same flying class, and you weren't awful. I mean, it means nothing coming from me since I'm terrible at flying as well, but it was Neville who got hurt that day. And you also —"

"Jumped off of a tower, I know. I just don't like it, that's all. Some people hate spiders —" He looked over at Ron making terrible dives attempting to stop the Quaffle from going in "— some people hate snakes, and I just hate flying."

Theodore turned his head slightly to the left and saw Hermione shuffling herself closer towards him and stopped just when their thighs came into contact. He was glad for Ron cursing at George for nearly hitting him on the head to give him a reason to look away and crossed his arms while doing so.

"Jumping off a tower does give you some credibility, I guess, even though the idea of it is just completely inhuman. So you got that."

Hermione then flicked through the pages and stopped suddenly in between and crossed her legs, swaying her head just slightly that Theodore could notice. She usually did this whenever her spirits were particularly high enough, mostly when it would be just the two of them — Theodore confusingly asked himself how he knew this.

"There's a town nearby that has really good ice cream," said Hermione, almost as if she were talking to herself. "Ron's mum let us go on my second day here; so I'm sure that we could go as well."


Theodore bit his lip to hold in the smile at Hermione's face burning up as she slammed her book shut. "We, as in a-all of us! You know, Fred, George, Ginny, me… and you…"

"Oh," began Theodore in a tone of false disappointment — he had no clue what he was doing, "for a moment, I thought you wanted it to be just the two of us. That's a shame."

Hermione's face couldn't have turned any pinker. "It… wait, I mean — I mean, we could still go — well, I d-don't think that Mrs Weasley would let us, but… umm…!"

"WE WONNN! WE WON, WE WON, WE WON!" Ginny and George screamed in unison in front of their dejected siblings elbowing harshly at each other's stomachs.

"What a catch, Ginny! Huh, I've taught you well in the art of feinting," George congratulated his younger sister. "Why didn't you say you liked Quidditch before?"

Ginny frowned and crossed her arms with her ears going slightly red. "I've been asking you guys to play ever since I was four! It was only because Charlie left that you even let me watch, let alone play!"

"All right, all right, calm down. Let's not destroy what we got here. You keep hissing like that, and you'll end up looking exactly like Ron when he's crying."

Ron was on the verge of bellowing every single swear word that he could think of when his mother came trotting out back with a large basket of damp clothes floating in front of her. Grumbling under his breath about three more years until he'd be seventeen, Ron walked over to Theodore and Hermione under the trees without muttering a single word, just directing his glare towards George's back as if it would set it on fire.

Hermione scrambled up on her feet, almost giving the impression that a snake tried to bite her. She hopped over the roots quickly and stood behind Ron with the book held to her chest — her face was luckily masked by her hair from Ron, not that he would've noticed.

"Next time, please play with us," mumbled the redhead with a hand outstretched to help the Parselmouth up. "I know you don't like it, but I can't stand being on a team with just Fred."

"Answer's always going to be the same, Ron. Unless I suddenly fall in love with flying on a broom, I'm useless in the air."

Ron sighed and nodded his head. He looked so worn out and depleted of energy that he saw no use of trying to persuade him or Hermione. Speaking of her, Hermione had managed to slip away just a little bit that the two boys didn't notice her until they both reached the garden door as the last ones inside.

Although it had passed, when Theodore was the last one through after Hermione, he saw her nose still holding a pink shade that he couldn't help but think that it made her sort of…? He rubbed his elbow, knowing the perfect word to describe her:


Hedwig and Sawer came bursting through the doorway, screeching so loudly that it startled Mr Weasley, who walked in before Charlie and Bill. "My, I thought that the ghoul had gotten moody and decided to entertain itself! Whose owls do these belong to?"

"One of them's mine, Mr Weasley, sorry — Sawer, get over here and leave her alone, you too, Hedwig!"

The two owls finished circling around each other aggressively and fluttered over to the Parselmouth: Hedwig rested on his left shoulder and Sawer was on his right forearm.

"I'll talk to you two later when everyone's preoccupied with something else," whispered Mr Weasley to his sons before he turned to Theodore with a large smile on his face. "Mail from other friends, I presume? On second thought, I know that owl." He pointed at Hedwig. "Isn't that Harry's?"

"Yeah." Hedwig nipped at her leg where a string was tied to an envelope and took it between her beak to hand it over to Theodore's hand. "Harry's sent me something. He's probably going to ask if I'm having fun here: he's having a horrible time over at —" Theodore held off at his sentence when he saw Mr Weasley grimacing a little.

"Yes, well… I was going to pick him up very soon before his birthday would come around, but it seems I might have to hold it off with everything that's going on in the Ministry and my job. We had a case of exploding toilets all across Manchester yesterday. Reminded me of Fred and George, for some reason…"

"But he is coming soon, right?"

"Of course, of course!" Mr Weasley responded assuringly. "Can't think that Sirius wouldn't want his godson kept away with the Muggles at any given chance. Well, you've got letters to read, and I've got letters to write. Decimated toilets aren't going to explain themselves."

Mr Weasley said goodbye and quickly rushed in the direction of where Charlie and Bill left to before he sliced the envelope open and read his cousin's letter silently:

Dear Theo,

Did you get to Ron's place by the flying car? If you did then I applaud you: that's almost a two-hour drive! Flight, more like it. Tell me you didn't think that the Invisibility Booster was sort of cool.

I'm going to cut this short because I don't want to waste time. I already told Sirius about this, and he told me to ask Dumbledore about it, but I want to ask you just before that.

My scar's been hurting recently, like the time at Hogwarts. Voldemort can't be anywhere near Little Whinging, let alone Britain. Remember when Dumbledore said that he was hiding in Albania?

I'm not trying to suggest anything, but you're the only person I really know who could have an idea about this, except for Dumbledore. You don't have to rush, it's not that bad. Anyway, I'll see you when I come over, 'if' I come over, that is.

From Harry.

P.S: I haven't told Sirius about this, but I had this really weird dream where I could hear Voldemort's voice as if I was almost there. Don't tell Hermione and Ron, please?

His scar was hurting again, but he was perfectly fine? That didn't make any sense. If Voldemort wasn't anywhere near, then how was it possible that it was hurting him? It never happened during last year or the year before that. And what did he mean by hearing his voice? Theodore couldn't understand the connection between his cousin and father, unable to explain the reason for his scar that was surely the result of a curse. On the top of his head, he could only think Secrets of the Darkest Art having any sort of answers, and Theodore barely made it halfway.

'Cursed scars… I never heard about them; neither has anybody else. But Voldemort can't be near him. He's broken, barely human… gone… Yeah, he's gone… he's gone…'

The air felt like dust during the day, thickening out hour by hour as the sun caked the ground as well as the exhausted people beneath it. Several instances of heatstrokes were found around nearly every corner of the streets that by the time the cool night washed over, the roads were full of healthy-looking inhabitants chatting when the evening sun would die, or people taking midnight strolls as if it were morning. And taking a walk during the night was a common habit to pick up these days, a very common habit.

The time that he had remained in this country felt countless, almost an eternity to him. His mind felt so distant, his senses made everything feel so surreal, and his body… well, 'his' body was failing him every step that he took. A wreckage of his former self. He could barely even remember his wretched name from childhood, although that was a blessing more than anything.

He felt the fresh air rolling on his withered skin as he hobbled weakly along the barren pavement of the sketchier parts of the town and feebly grabbed hold of the tattered black robes that were his only item of clothing. His fingers were almost down to the bone, resembling bones from their chalky tone. They were the only parts of his flesh exposed, otherwise, it was all hidden from sight but, unfortunately, not imagination.

"Body will not… last," he wheezed, smacking his lips dryly with the sounds of moisture being devoid from his mouth, "body decaying… disloyalty among us… the boy… I need… the boy…"

His legs were tiring out; soon, they'd crumble like the rest, ready to be studied by the unsuspecting Muggles who searched endlessly for an answer, only to be met with their incompetence. How typical.

Ah, yes. The 'fabled' wall that he'd pass by on a regular basis. Multiple stories were told from pictures alone, stories with such deeper meaning that only he could fully understand. He held himself still in front of the multitude of plastered posters, some that dated back from a few years ago till quite recently, the most recent one fresh above the countless others that eroded over time.

A boy, strawberry-blond locks, no older than five, suddenly missing after wandering off too far from his family into the unsuspecting forests that were claimed to contain creatures bred from nightmares. A reward — of course, there would be a reward — for anyone with valuable information. A small, innocent boy… He sneered with undertones of disgust. Not entirely with the Muggle boy but his predicament, something that that boy had been an… unwilling volunteer, if those were the correct choice of wording. Muggles over magical blood? Had he really stooped so low? There were only so many lives he could steal for his own sustenance before his tolerance would force him otherwise.

He weakly turned his head from the sudden bellows of raucous laughter coming from up along the street. The small tavern was always alive at this time of day, inviting those who had finished their mediocre jobs for a place to relax before they would return home. Three men had stumbled out onto the street and surrounded a dusty van, all intoxicated to the brim as they were barely recognisable as functioning humans.

One was holding tightly to a beer bottle, singing to the top of his lungs an unknown song, completely unaware of the two others wrestling each other into headlocks at the same time flailing stupidly on the ground: like before, a common habit. But no matter. He was going home, away to rest and plan until the next day would come.

He returned to his hobbling up the street, still smacking his cracked lips to the rhythm of his steps. Eyes on the ground, remaining focused on maintaining this body for as long as possible, he kept himself to him— His feeble body nearly completely crumbled under the weight of two other, stronger men. Pain seared nearly every bone that he had stolen and was severing the mind from the body at every passing second.

"No… not now…" he whimpered quietly.

The men didn't tend to the elderly man that they crashed into and instead roared with laughter. So much alcohol coursed through their brains that they didn't register the abnormalities that the man possessed for his hood was retracted from the fall, and his head was exposed. Few clumps of withered strawberry-blond hair with a white-pale scalp underneath could've been seen by the lights coming from inside the tavern, but not his face.

"You're weak," he told himself. "Rest… find rest and heal… not now…"

The man that had been singing — he was easily the burliest one of the group — swung his bottle around the air, twirling round and round until he stopped at the feet of the old man's sprawled body along the ground. He slurred together words that were of the native language, swaying side to side until the bottle in his hand tipped over to the side and trickled a stream of beer onto the man's robes. All three men howled with laughter like simple-minded creatures that could be easily entertained by such simple acts.

As the beer dripped down from his hood, he laid still on the ground knowing that he wouldn't have any more time. It was over; this body had served its purpose. Soon he'd be without form, bodiless like he had been for so long… He used his spindly fingers to squeeze the excess liquid from his hood and revealed what had been obscured underneath only partially. Cracked lips that were almost nonexistent, white dry skin almost akin to discarded shedding from a serpent and where a nose should've been, thin slits that were also snakelike. But they didn't take notice of this. Not that they could or ever would.

His soaked hand slowly reached inside his robes and plucked out a piece of wood so crude-looking in appearance. Gently, he rose a shaky hand to point it at the man closest to him and nearly ripped his dried lips apart with a devilish grin as he hissed, "Imperio…!"

The bottle in his hand fell to the ground instantly, and his laughter vanished for the only thing that could be read from his face alone was that he was docile, absolutely devoid of anything other than that.

"I can see into your mind… yes… this is your van, and you have… yes… Take the axe from your van… and show no mercy to your friends, Muggle…"

Not a moment of hesitation. The submissive man marched over to his van and opened the back doors, ignoring the questions of confusion from his friends as he approached them with a heavy axe held in both hands. It only took them a single second to comprehend what was happening through their drunkenness but only a single second.

He watched him drive the axe from the air down the middle of his skull, cleaving it cleanly in two as his body shutdown instantly. He watched as how the other tried to run but failed when he couldn't find his balance on the ground, stumbling off onto the empty road before the axe was swung down with such horrific force that his skull simply burst from impact, spraying the Imperiused man's boots with blood, bone and brain fragments as the body twitched pathetically like a fish out of the water.

'How it has always been,' he thought to himself, now absolutely certain that the body had reached its end. 'Muggles are savages amongst each other, always have been. I… I…'

The black mass of sentient smoke seeped out from the man's mouth and nose, swirling and clumping together like it had no grasp on itself. Reduced to less than a man, less than a ghost or the average Muggle…

It whisked away from the scene that left behind two dead men, viscerally slaughtered with their blood staining the cracks between the slabs in the pavement, a man who stood confused, blood-stained and traumatised from their sudden corpses, and the body of another boy whose bones had been snatched from him, abused and discarded like all the rest, another boy whose blood had been utterly poisoned by magic of the wickedest sort, another boy whose body fell victim to him

Theo's being a little flirt, even when he doesn't know it. If he truly knew about his appeal and was as vain as Lockhart, then… it's a sticky one. Theo's also acting like a teenage boy as well, noticing more about Hermione, even a bit about Louise from the other chapters (finally).

I think that this means the chapters, the entire story, from now on is going to get a little more… mature-ish. Hey, I didn't give this an M rating just so I could have everyone swearing all the time. This is definitely the last part of the slice of life chapters, and the next is going to kick everything off (also, did you like the last part?). Hope you liked this chapter and I will see you later.