Back at home, sitting on the bed, Ron could feel the power coursing through him. It was the most incredible thing that he had ever felt. He felt alive. There was no other word for it. He could do anything, without needing to sleep or eat ever again. Maybe that’s why Harry eats so little.
But no matter what he felt like, he still had to keep up appearances for his family. He pretended that he was just his normal, cheerful, invisible self. The twins paid some attention to him, but it was only to use him as a subject. Ever since they had gotten their hands on some money two years ago (who would be so foolish as to give those two money?), their number of pranks and inventions had skyrocketed. Now that they were on out of school, they were planning to buy a shop in Diagon Alley. They had increased their original amount by selling products to Zonko’s, and were now fairly well off.
‘Just another reason to cast me into the shadows,’ Ron thought bitterly.
He privately considered himself a very good actor, since no one had even hinted that he wasn’t his normal self. They seemed to think he was his normal self again, and were treating him as such. None of them perceived the air of power that was now in him. Typical that they wouldn’t notice. What his family thought was of no importance to him anymore. The Dark Lord thought that he was worthy enough to receive the mark despite his family’s reputation. It was only his Master’s opinion that mattered, after all.
It had been two weeks since his initiation and Ron was getting very irritated with his new master. He had been reading the newspapers and there had been several attacks on Muggle homes, and on some Muggle-borns. Ron hadn’t been summoned for any of them. I joined to help Voldemort, and he doesn’t even summon me when he plans an attack. I thought that I would be getting some recognition when I joined. Apparently not.
The next morning, when he went downstairs for breakfast, he picked up the paper, as was his new habit. The cover story was another attack on Muggles, this time in Surrey. The name rung a bell in Ron’s head, but he didn’t think much of it. He was always forgetting something. He looked at the date to be sure that it was current, and to remind himself of what day it was. July 31. Another alarm bell went off in his head, but again, he ignored it, and continued to read the paper.
Muggle dies protecting her cats
Death eaters attacked Madeline Figg in her home in Surrey yesterday morning.
The woman was a muggle, and the mother of Arabella Figg, best friend of the late Lily Potter, and extremely talented Auror. According to the neighbors, Figg has an obsession with cats, never having less than ten in her home. She had been warned by her daughter to be careful of leaving the house because of You-Know-Who’s rebirth. Despite some close calls, Figg remained unharmed until yesterday. She was found with her body on top of two live cats. Authorities concluded that she tried to save her cats even in death.
The dark mark was reported anonymously by one of the neighboring boys. Authorities have not found the source of the information yet. Since the owl arrived so soon after the attack, authorities suspect that it was sent by a death eater to lure authorities out of the ministry. As of now, nothing is known about the informant, or the attack.
Once again, alarm bells started ringing in Ron’s head. Instead of ignoring them, he thought about the names mentioned in the article. He did know Arabella Figg, she had been their Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in fifth year. He vaguely remembered someone mentioning that Old Mrs. Figg was a Muggle who loved cats. He just couldn’t think of who it was. Maybe Hermione. She was a Muggle born, but Ron wasn’t quite sure of where she lived. Someone he knew lived in Surrey. It was probably Hermione. Oh well. He flipped to the Quidditch section. The Cannons were at the top of the league for the second year. Ever since Oliver Wood had been drafted as keeper. Ron smiled at that. Wood was probably giving the coach pointers about how to run the team. He had led Gryffindor to the Quidditch cup his last year, even though they lost one match. The fact that he had coached the famous Boy-Who-Lived didn’t hurt.
Scanning the rest of the paper, Ron found nothing else interesting. He put his dishes into the sink and climbed the multiple flights of steps up to his room. When he was satisfied that no one would barge into his room, he rolled up his left sleeve and fingered the blood-red mark that was imbedded on his forearm. It had turned black several times, but it never burned. He had not been summoned to join the Dark Lord yet. Sure, he had been initiated, but what good does the initiation do if you aren’t going to be serving? He was starting to get anxious about when the Dark Lord was going to call him. He couldn’t go in the middle of the day, someone might see him leaving, or discover that he was gone. He would then have to answer a deluge of questions, mostly from his mother, who never stopped pestering him. Ginny would pipe up a vague note of concern when she was roused from her daydreams about Harry, and the Twins would just tease him mercilessly about his rendezvous with Hermione or some local girl that they had noticed. If he was called at night, it would be ok for the time being, but once Harry arrived (and Hermione for that matter), it would be impossible. Harry was a light sleeper due to a lifetime of abuse from his relatives, and years of being hunted by the Dark Lord.
But wait, Harry wouldn’t be coming this summer, again. He was spending the summer over at Hermione’s, snogging and doing homework. What fun. So he could be called at night and go undetected. He smiled at the thought. It was his first smile in a day.
Ron was drifting in his thoughts when he heard a knock on the door. He hastily stood up and covered his mark. He would be handed straight to the ministry if his family found out.
Ron was expecting his mother to be at the door, but to his surprise it was Ginny.
“Ron, are you ok?” she asked, her eyes full of concern for her older brother.
Even though no one had asked about his well being yet, he was a bit short-tempered.
“Because I noticed that you didn’t send Harry a birthday present. He turned 17 today, you know.”
“Oh bugger. I completely forgot. I’ll send him a card and get a present before we go back to school. Thanks, Gin, I completely forgot.” He mentally slapped himself. He knew why the alarms had gone off in his head while reading the newspaper. Harry lived in Surrey too, and Mrs. Figg had been his babysitter when he was little.
“What’s up with you? You’ve been really preoccupied lately, and I don’t think I have ever seen you read the paper before. It looks like Hermione is rubbing off on you.” Ginny joked, trying to improve Ron’s mood. After all, he did seem distant.
“No, she’s probably doing that to Harry right now. I don’t hear much from Harry during the summer, and since You-Know-Who is so active now, I want to know if he is hurt. The paper is the only way to do it.” He lied, about the paper anyway. For all he knew, Hermione really was rubbing Harry right now.
“Ok then. It just doesn’t seem like you to forget your best friend’s birthday.” With that, she left, pulling the door closed behind her.
Ron sat back down on the bed and rolled up his sleeve again. This year he wouldn’t have to worry about anything, other than pretending to be on Dumbledore’s side. The man could see through almost any disguise or lie. Just his luck that the fool was his headmaster. I’ll just have to stay out of trouble. I can avoid getting sent to Dumbledore’s office if I really try. Harry is the one that is always in there.
Hermione is the same. She had always been able to read Ron’s emotions and thoughts like a book. Well, he would have to avoid her as much as he could. There was no other solution to the problem. No matter what his relationship had been with her previously, she was a Muggle-born, and would eventually be killed. He didn’t want to be close to her when that happened. She had been his friend for the last six years.
Ron woke up in the middle of the night because his arm felt like it was splitting open. He moved over to the window and pushed his sleeve up above the mark. It was black, and the lines seemed to be getting deeper in his skin. He pressed his hand over it and closed his eyes in an attempt to block out some of the pain. To his great surprise, it worked. Be slowly opened his eyes and looked at the tattoo. It had reverted back to its regular red. He looked around his room, but was startled to find that it wasn’t his room anymore. Next to him were a cloak and a mask. Finally, I’ve been summoned. Took him long enough. Ron put on the items left for him and moved to the door of Voldemort’s room. Both doors stood open, and inside, a circle of people was assembling. There was an empty spot close to his master’s side, and silently, he walked over and filled it. Before he took his place, he bowed low, and kissed the hem of his master’s robes, as he had seen the others do. Slowly, the circle was filled with people, and when there were no empty spots left, Voldemort spoke.
“Tonight, we will start to our plan to defeat Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix,” he said. “Part of that will be defeating Harry Potter. We do not have much more time to find him outside of school. He is very well protected, and if he is still at his relatives, then he cannot be touched. Not even by Ronald. For although he is Mr. Potter’s friend, the wards will not let him pass since he now bears the Mark.” Voldemort paused and looked around the circle at the hidden faces of his servants.
“We now have two people inside of Hogwarts. A student and a teacher. It will be their job to find out a way to break the spells guarding the castle.” He looked into Ron’s eyes, and Ron flinched slightly. Not enough to be detected by his master, but the look still gave him chills. He didn’t know how Harry could survive multiple encounters with the creature of almost pure evil power that was standing in front of him. He was glad that he was on the stronger side, should it come to war. The other side’s strongest warriors were an old man and a young man. Harry hadn’t been trained to fight, and Dumbledore was past fighting age. Standing around him were at least 30 able bodied men, all at the peak of their strength. The others fighting with the old fool were not half as powerful as the people around him. He allowed himself to smile slightly, and then turned his attention back to the meeting.
“Wormtail, you will accompany Ronald back to Hogwarts as his pet. That way, I will have three of my servants inside the castle.”
Ron stepped foreward. “My Lord,” he said, bowing, “It would not do to have Wormtail accompany me as a pet for the year. He was my pet at one time, and both Harry and Hermione, as well as Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Dumbledore know who he really is. I have no doubt that one of those people would recognize who he really is and either kill him or turn him in.” Ron gave another deep bow, and stepped back to his place in the circle.
“You make an excellent point. What do you suggest we do about this?” Voldemort asked.
Ron thought for a minute. He did not want to risk upsetting his master. He had already seen the punishments for those whom Voldemort disapproved of. Slowly, he stepped forward.
“My Lord, Wormtail should accompany me back to the castle, but not as a pet. He could pretend to be just another rat. As long as he stays out of the way of Harry, Hermione, Sirius, and Remus, he will be safe. Dumbledore has never seen him as a rat, and will not recognize him. This way, he can snoop around the castle, and he will not be caught.”
Ron bowed once again and stepped back to his place, once again blending into the crowd. It was no easy matter to place an idea in front of the Dark Lord. For just this once, he liked to be part of the crowd.
“An excellent idea, Ronald. Wormtail, I trust that it is not too much for you to get to Hogwarts on your own? You will report to Severus if you find any useful information. That is all for the meeting, you are dismissed.”
As a group, they backed out of Voldemort’s throne room, bowing before they stirred one step. When the door was closed, Ron rolled up his sleeve, and pressed his hand over it. When he opened his eyes, he was back in his orange room at the Burrow. He looked at the clock, 3:42. He groaned. He would need a lot of sleep to be ready to face the day of acting in front of his parents. And his mum never looked well on having a lie-in. Well, he could just pretend that he wasn’t feeling well. That always worked. But then again, if he tried that, he would have his mother on his back all day, babying him. It wasn’t something that he really wanted. Resolving to work it out in the morning, he crawled into bed feeling completely drained. He was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow.
Ron was back at Hogwarts with Harry and Hermione. They were snogging in a chair by the fire in the common room. He tried clearing his throat to get their attention, but they just ignored it, and kept up their activities.
He shivered. He was pretty close to the fire. The seventh years always got the good armchairs, but even though he was next to the fire, he was freezing cold. And no matter how loud he shouted, his two best friends continued to ignore him.
Suddenly, he spotted a figure slowly standing up behind them. Time slowed to a crawl as the figure straightened. He was hardly taller than Harry and Hermione, even though they were sitting down.
Ron stared in horror as a glint of sliver became visible in the mystery person’s hand. The higher he brought his hand, the longer the object seemed to grow. It tapered to a point, and finally, it was raised high enough into the shadow that all that was visible was a gleaming silver point, held in a gleaming silver hand.
Realization slowly dawned on Ron that this was Wormtail. And he was about to kill his two friends.
“Harry! Hermione! Run! Wormtail is behind you!” He screamed at them. Progressively growing louder and shriller as the point of the knife was brought closer and closer to Hermione’s back.
After what seemed like an eternity, they looked over at him. The expression on their faces scared him. They weren’t the smiling, friendly faces of the people that he had been friends with for six years. What was there was a cold shell of indifference, which was barely masking the pure hatred flashing in their eyes.
“And why should we believe you?” Harry asked coldly. “You are just like him. You betrayed us just like Wormtail betrayed my parents. You don’t belong in Gryffindor. Pack your stuff and move to Slytherin, where you belong.” He continued to glare at Ron for another minute.
Ron tried to speak, to argue his case.
“I would have been killed if I had said no,” he managed to stammer out. As soon as the words left his mouth he regretted it.
“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Harry. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!” For a moment, both Harry and Hermione’s faces shifted into the faces of Sirius and Remus on that far away day in the shrieking shack.
As soon as he blinked, Harry and Hermione’s faces had returned to normal, and they were both glaring at him with a hatred that he had only ever seen in his master’s eyes.
They simultaneously pulled out their wands to curse him, but he held up his hand to stop them.
“Don’t bother. I’ll leave. I’ll go and pack, and talk to Dumbledore about transferring houses. Then neither of you has to put up with me again.” He sighed. He would be moving to a place where his family name was hated, where he would never be a part of them. Sure, he was a servant of the Dark Lord, but he knew that his six years in Gryffindor would keep them from trusting him fully; just as he two ex-friends didn’t trust him now.
He looked back at them. They had resumed where they left off, and Harry’s hand had slid up underneath Hermione’s shirt. Ron couldn’t see Wormtail behind them anymore.
Slowly, he got up from his seat, shivering, and made his way up to the seventh year boy’s dorm. He opened his trunk and started to pile his things into it. He shrunk it, put it into his pocket, and walked out of the dorm he had shared with Harry, Neville, Dean and Seamus for six years. He slowly descended the stairs to find that Hermione was now sitting at a table studying, and Harry was sitting in a chair staring into the fire.
As Ron crossed to the portrait hole, Harry got up and walked over to him. His face was friendly again. Nothing remained of the mask of hatred that he had been wearing earlier.
“Ron, where are you going?” He asked.
“I told you, I am moving to Slytherin as soon as I talk to Dumbledore about it. Good-bye, Harry.”
“Nonesense. I didn’t tell you to do anything as drastic as that. I just wanted you to leave us alone for a minute. I didn’t want you to pack and move to our opposing house.” Harry replied cheerfully.
Ron saw a flash of silver close to Harry’s left ear. With horror, he realized that Wormtail had returned with his knife.
“Harry! Watch out!” he screamed.
“What are you talking about—” Harry’s words were cut off as a knife plunged through his back. His body fell forward onto Ron. He put up his hands to keep himself from being crushed by his friend’s body. He could only hold him up for a little, and Harry’s head soon hit the floor with a loud thump.
Hermione rushed forward and cradled him in her arms, sobbing. Ron stared unbelievingly at the hands that had been unable to support his friend. They were soaked in blood; Harry’s blood; the blood of thousands of people that had been murdered by his master.
Hermione looked up at him.
“How could you, Ronald Judas Weasley?”
He just stared at her, unable to answer.
“And what did you get out of it, hm? I hope something more than just thirty sickles.” She turned her back on him, bent down to pick up Harry, and carried him down into the great hall, so that everyone could see what he had done. Ron followed.
She stretched out Harry’s body on the Gryffindor table, and with a flick of her wand turned all of the hangings around the hall black. She climbed to the top of the table and looked out at the people around her. She spotted Ron and pointed him out for everyone to see.
“I give you Ronald Judas Weasley, the betrayer, who is no better than his old pet rat.” With that, she pulled out a knife out of her robes and held it to her chest. She looked down at Harry, “my love, I am joining you now and forever.” With those final words, she stabbed herself, her body falling and covering Harry’s.
The crowd of students pushed Ron back into the darkest corner in the hall, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not escape the darkness around him. He continued to struggle for days, but to no avail.
With a start, Ron woke up, his body covered in sweat and shaking. It was the worst dream that he had ever experienced, but he couldn’t remember the details. No matter how hard he tried to remember what had gone on, it didn’t work.
Eventually, he gave up. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll think about it tomorrow. And with that, he fell asleep again.