Within the Shadows of Hatred (Chapter 4: Facing Reality)

Hermione set three goblets of pumpkin juice on the table aside the plates that held their lunch. “Corinne! Carl!” she called out. “Time for lunch, loves!”

Usually her two youngest would come clambering through the door, but today they didn’t. “Carl!” Corinne!” Hermione called again, louder this time. When they still didn’t come in, a ball of fear began to tighten in her stomach.

She opened the back door and stepped outside, her eyes scanning the pond and forest for her children. “Carl and Corinne!” she called again, her voice harder. “If you’re hiding from me it isn’t funny!”

Still, nothing but rustling tree branches and a gentle lap of water against the grassy shore answered her. Hermione saw her daughter’s dolls sitting in a half circle; some sticks and stones piled up next do it. Her gaze turned to the Weasley house; she thought perhaps Lavender had called the children over.

Knocking on the door, Hermione tried to calm herself down. Of course it was where they had gone, both of them knew better than to go into the forest alone. Lavender answered the door after a few moments.

“Hi Hermione.” She said. “What’s wrong, you look upset?”

“Did you call the twins over?” Hermione asked, pushing a stray hair off her forehead.

“No, I haven’t seen them since yesterday. Why?” Lavender watched as Hermione’s face went from calm to panicked. “Hermione’s what’s going on?” she followed her friend out the doorway.

“I don’t know where my children are!” Hermione’s voice had gone high in trepidation.

“What?” Lavender put her hand on Hermione’s arm. “Come now, they’re around here somewhere, they’re probably just playing a game with you!”

“No… they would have answered me by now….” Hermione pulled away from Lavender and charged towards the forest. “Something’s happened, I know it, I just know it.”

“Hermione, don’t be silly.” Lavender said, trying to catch up. “That’s ridiculous, nothing has happened.” She tried to keep her voice steady, but it too had gone shaky in fear. She loved Harry and Hermione’s children like her own and if anything had happened to them….

A strangled cry jerked Lavender out of her daze. Hermione was tearing into the small clearing and picking something off the forest floor.

“It’s one of Corinne’s dolls…” Hermione said, her eyes bright with tears and her voice cracked. “It’s one of her dolls, sitting here in the clearing….” She sank onto the dirt floor and pressed the doll to her chest.

“Her…Hermione…” Lavender’s voice was quaking. “I’m going to get Ron… just stay there!” she ran as fast as she could back to her house and threw some powder into the fireplace. “Ron! Ron come home quickly please!” she called into the fire, and a moment later her husband had tumbled through.

“Lavender, what’s wrong?” Ron asked, dusting off his robes.

“Hermione’s outside, Ron, the twins are missing we can’t find them anywhere!” Lavender said in a rush.

“What?” Ron asked, much like she had. “The twins are missing?” he brushed past her and went outside.

Hermione had the doll in one hand and was tearing through the bushes with her other. “Carl! Corinne!” she kept screaming over and over again. Ron caught her around the waist.

“Hermione, settle down. What’s going on?” he asked, trying to remain calm. Lavender was standing at the edge of the clearing, her hands clutching her face.

“Ron… I have to find them; I know they’re here somewhere.” Hermione pulled away and tore through another bush.

“Hermione.” Ron spoke her name sharply. “I need you to tell me what happened.” He gripped her shoulders and forced her to face him.

“I was making them lunch and came out to call them in – they didn’t answer when I called them and I thought Lavender had taken them to your house but she didn’t and then we came out here and I found this.” Hermione held out the doll. “Ron you have to help me find them!” she spoke in a rush as if telling Ron the story fast would help in their search.

Ron turned to his wife. “Lav, go back to the fire and call the men from my office in. Then send an owl to Caitlyn and Blue, and one to Harry as well.”

Lavender nodded and ran back to the house, doing as Ron said. She directed several Ministry officials that worked under Ron outside to the clearing.

“All right, first I need you guys to check for any magical residue that might be left in the area.” Ron nodded at two men. “Also, I need the rest of you to check the surrounding area in case they’ve just wandered off.” The men nodded and took off.

“Hermione.” Ron said again, gently this time. “Hermione, we’ll find them okay?”

“Ron…” she clutched at his arms. “What if something’s happened to them? What if… what if they went into the pond…” Hermione’s face turned pure white.

Ron paled as well. “Oy Martin!” he yelled to one of the men. “I need you to check the pond, right now!”

Martin took his wand out and pointed it at the small body of water. With one swish and a spell, the liquid quivered and seemed to evaporate into thin air. Hermione hung onto Ron, Lavender on her other side.

“Nothing!” Martin called back. “There’s nothing here!”

Hermione sagged in relief against Ron, still holding onto the doll. “Thank God, thank God…” she muttered, her other hand against her forehead.

“Lav, take her into the house until Caitlyn gets here…” Ron said. “It’ll be easier for us to search.”

“All right.” Lavender whispered. “Find them Ron… please…”

Ron nodded wordlessly as Lavender led Hermione away. No sooner had they sat down in the kitchen when there was a popping sound in the hallway and Caitlyn came rushing in.

“What’s happened Aunt Lav? I got your owl and I came straightaway…” she spied her mother sitting at the table. “Mum what is it… did something happen to Dad?” her voice rose in panic much like Hermione’s had.

“Caty, sit down…” Lavender said. “I need to tell you something.”

“What?” Caitlyn was alarmed. “What happened?”

“Your brother and sister seem to have disappeared.” Lavender said as gently as possible. “Ron is out there right now with some men from the Ministry, trying to find out what happened.”

“How?” Caitlyn asked weakly. She looked over to her mother for confirmation. Hermione didn’t move; her eyes locked to the wall. Caitlyn moved into the chair next to her mother and wrapped her arms around her shoulders. “Mum… look at me… It’s Caty, I’m here…” she repeated this until Hermione turned and looked at her.

“Caty?” she whispered. “You’re here?”

“Yes Mum.” Caitlyn pulled back. “I’m here.”

Hermione pulled her daughter into a tight hug. “You’re here; my baby is here…” she started crying into Caitlyn’s shoulder. “I don’t know where your brother and sister are!!!”

“We’re going to find them.” Caitlyn said, her tone more positive than she actually felt. “We’re going to find them,” she looked up at Lavender.

“We’re going to find them.” Lavender repeated, her voice hollow as she sank into the chair next to Hermione.

“I need to write to Harry,” Hermione muttered, her face still pale. Her eyes darted wildly around the room. “Harry will know what to do. Harry will find them.” She got up and rushed from the kitchen.

Caitlyn got up to go after her but Lavender put a hand on her arm. “Let her go write to your father.” She said quietly. The younger girl nodded, and then sank limply into the chair.

“I think I’m going to pass out.” She muttered, bending over so that her head was between her legs.

“Caty!” Blue was now rushing into the kitchen. “Are you all right?”

Caitlyn raised her head and promptly burst into tears at the sight of her concerned boyfriend. She felt his strong arms go around her and she began to cry into his shoulder.

“What happened?” Blue’s first thought was that something had happened to her father.

“We…” her voice was shaking almost violently. “We think that… something… happened to my brother and sister…”

It took Blue a few moments for Caitlyn’s words to fully register. When they did, Blue’s face formed a mingled expression that contained both panic and reassurance. “Something… happened?” his voice cracked on the last word; he loved her siblings like they were his.

“The twins have been missing for a half hour or more now.” Lavender said, her voice thick. “Your father is out there now looking for anything to find them.”

Blue nodded as his arms tightened around his girlfriend.

*** *** ***

Draco Malfoy pushed back the sheets on the bed and stood up, immediately pulling on the trousers he had thrown to the floor earlier in the evening. He stood in silence for several minutes before turning to make sure the woman in his bed was still asleep.

She was, so he stole quietly from the room. Draco’s thoughts turned to her as he went silently down the stairs, much like a cat. Daniela had been his fiancée before he had been caught eleven years before. They had fought over something ridiculous, which caused him to find Granger’s friend Grace to make Daniela jealous.

“Stupidest thing I ever did.” Draco muttered to himself. He slipped a cloak on over his bare chest, then left the house elves quarters, which was the only part of the Manor that was liveable. “I had a life too, Potter.”

Draco moved silently from the house and across the vast empty estate that once contained the lavish Manor house. He was headed for a large monument that loomed near the back of the property.

Draco’s head was bowed as he came upon his parents’ graves. “I’m sorry I failed you, father.” His voice broke through the silence. “I want to destroy everyone and everything close to Potter.”

He paused as the cool night air rushed around and over him, blowing his long silver blond hair forward. Draco brushed it back with impatience. “I came upon a spell before I was put in Azkaban. I could resurrect Voldemort with it…” he fell to his knees on the damp earth and pressed both hands into the soil covering his father’s grave.

“It requires the blood of two innocents,” Draco spoke these words softly, as if he did not want anyone to overhear him. “It could be any innocents, but I figured… this the ultimate revenge on Potter, using his children to bring back his worst enemy.” He paused and smiled, thinking of what his father would be saying back to him. “I want to make you proud, Father. I know if I bring the Dark Lord back, he’ll give you two back to me as well.”

Draco wasn’t sure how long he stayed out there, just sitting in silence with only the whisper of a breeze blowing past him every now and again. It was only when the sky above him began to grow light that he got back up and walked back to the house. He was about to turn and go up the stairs when something made his feet travel back outside and to the dungeons that had previously been underneath the Manor.

Silent as his Animagus snake form, Draco went down the stairs and over to the cell where Potter’s twins were currently being held. He had made Crabbe and Goyle throw them in there while they were still unconscious. It also amused him to no end that it was right next to the cell where he had kept Granger locked up for a year.

They were asleep on the floor, the girl with her head in the boy’s lap, arms protectively around one another. Draco had a hard time resisting the urge to wake them up and inflict some sort of pain upon them. About to unlock the door, he stepped back.

“Not quite angry enough,” a cruel smile crossed his lips. Draco turned and left as silently as he had come, going back into the house and up to the bedroom.

“Where did you go?” Daniela asked sleepily as Draco slipped into the bed next to her.

“Just for a walk,” Draco replied, kissing her.

“You should have woken me up; I’d have gone with you.” Her arms encircled around his neck and she kissed him again, deeper this time.

“Just needed to do a few quick things.” Draco replied. Daniela was the one thing in his life that he gave two shits about, the only person he truly cared for. When he had gone to her flat the night before, after she had gotten over the shock of seeing him for the first time in eleven years, she had immediately cancelled her evening plans to be with him. Daniela moved herself over and into his arms and they fell asleep together.

*** *** ***

Harry rubbed his eyes wearily as he entered his hotel room. Dropping his wand and cloak on the chair next to the door, he advanced into the room. It was only six in the evening and he felt like he had been up for about forty eight hours.

“I need to get some rest,” he groaned to himself. Harry flopped down on the bed and rolled on to his side, then smiled as he looked at the picture on the table next to him.

It had been taken at the beginning of the summer. Caitlyn had come home for dinner one night and then Ron and Lavender had come over, with Blue joining them as well. They had all had a great time that evening and at the end, he, Hermione and their four children had crowded around the fireplace for a family photo.

Harry’s smile turned into a chuckle as he watched his eldest daughter muss Colin’s hair. His picture self turned and kissed picture Hermione on the cheek as the twins sat and grinned widely at the bottom of the frame. Harry loved his family dearly, as he had never received any affection as a child, and it made him resolve that none of his children would ever know what it was like to be without love.

He set the frame back on the nightstand and laid back on the pillow, removing his glasses. “One more week,” he muttered to himself. He missed his wife and children terribly.

A fluttering of wings at his window made him sit up and wonder why an owl was there- the Ministry knew that he and his crew were in South America, but only one person there knew the exact location. Harry quickly opened the window and let the owl in. He untied the letter from its leg and the owl took flight again without waiting.

Curiously, he unfolded the parchment. Harry’s face grew pale as he read the words scratched on it.


I need you, come home quickly, Harry please come home.

He recognized the writing as Hermione’s, but it was badly shaken and there were tear smudges at the bottom of the parchment. Harry stared in shock at the parchment, then dropped it and rushed out of the room.

“Jones!” he banged hard on the door. “Open up!” he continued to knock loudly until his mission partner appeared in the frame.

“What’s wrong, Harry?” Jones asked.

“I need to leave,” Harry replied, already turning back to his own room. “Something’s happened at home, can you handle the rest of this by yourself?”

“Sure,” Jones said. “What happened?”

“I don’t know.” Harry said, rushing about as he tossed his belongings in a large duffel sack. “I just have a horrible feeling and I need to get back.”

“I’ll cover for you,” Jones followed him out of the room.

“Thanks,” Harry called back over his shoulder. He left the hotel and headed towards the wizarding section of the city. It was already midnight in England, and who knew how long it had taken the owl to reach him where he was. To his great frustration, he was not able to apparate directly home, but had to go up to Canada, then Belgium, Scotland and finally the Ministry, where he could floo back to his house.

Harry coughed as he tumbled out of the fireplace in his family room; it was dark in the house and eerily quiet. After he dropped his bag and brushed himself off, he saw that the kitchen was still lit.

“Harry!” Hermione cried out when she saw her husband in the doorway. She jumped up and rushed into his arms, sobs immediately rising from her chest. Caitlyn was also sitting there with Blue’s arms around her, and Ron and Lavender were standing near the sink. “You came home, thank God you came home.”

“What happened?” Harry’s voice was shaking as he held his crying wife in his arms. “Someone bloody tell me what’s happened.”

Ron stepped forward, his face ashen. “Harry, sit down.”

“Tell me what’s happened.” Harry refused to move. “Dammit Ron…”

“Oh Harry,” Hermione looked up at him. “It’s the twins Harry they’re gone…”

Harry actually staggered backwards as the news hit him like the Cruciatius Curse. “What?” he asked minutes later as he finally recovered his power of speech. “Gone? How?”

“We don’t know.” Ron replied, trying to keep his tone steady. “We’ve still got people out there looking…”

“When?” Harry demanded.

“Earlier today, about noon.” Hermione replied, wiping at her eyes. “I went to call them in for lunch and they were gone…”

“We found residue of magic in the clearing,” Ron continued. “Whoever took them… they knocked them out and then we think they must have apparated away.”

“You think?” Harry pushed Hermione away roughly. “How could you let this happen?” he yelled at his wife. “You were supposed to be watching them and you let someone take them away!”

Everyone was in shock as they stared at Hermione. Her jaw worked up and down as she tried to talk.

“How… how dare you…” she finally uttered, her voice shaking. “You… accuse me of letting our children be taken…”

“You’re their mother; you were supposed to watch them.” Harry said, his tone furious and his eyes ice cold.

SLAP! The loud sound echoed into the hallway and Caitlyn jumped as her mother’s palm connected with her father’s face. “GET OUT!” Hermione suddenly screamed, new tears running down her cheeks. “YOU BASTARD, GET OUT!”

Caitlyn rushed over to her mother and pulled her into a hug, while sending her father an accusatory glare. “How could you say that?” she asked in a whisper.

Harry stared at the two of them as if he had suddenly realised where he was, and then turned and strode from the kitchen back into the living room, where he grabbed his bag and was gone.


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