Chapters 1 & 2
Molly Weasley paced back and forth in agitation. She was worried, truly worried, and didn't know who to get in touch with for help. Charlie was off in Romania at the dragon reserve and Bill was out on a job for Gringotts somewhere. The rest of the children were gone from home as well, staying with Harry and Blaise for a few days. Brushing back tears Molly continued to pace before she suddenly halted. Trevor Zabini! Even though the man had been a Slytherin, Arthur trusted him and the man would know something that could be done. With decisive steps now, Molly moved towards the living room fireplace and grabbed up the small sack of floo powder. Kneeling upon the floor the Weasley matron took out a small pinch of the powder and threw it into the fire before she could hesitate.
Sticking her head into the now green flames, Molly shouted, "Trevor Zabini!"
Molly closed her eyes against the swirling green flames, only opening them again in time to see a startled young man standing in front of the fire. The man looked as if he had seen a ghost, his eyes wide with fright as he began to shake.
"T-t-t-trevor," the man whimpered before the name became a full blown yell as he bolted from the room, "TREVOR!"
Minutes later Molly was starting to think that this had been a very bad idea when Trevor came into the room, preceded by the young man she had startled. The man was babbling about green fire bursting out of nowhere and heads appearing in the fire. Trevor calmly took in the scene before pulling his wand and obliviating the young man as he moved in front of the fire to block Molly's face from sight.
"That'll be fine, Alex," Trevor told the young man who was new to the Darkov guards, and pretty damn hopeless, "if you feel you aren't cut out for this line of work then we won't keep you here. We'll mail you a check in a few days for what work you did do. Dismissed."
Once Alex was gone, Trevor turned to crouch down in front of the fire so that he was eye level with Molly, all the while cursing that he had made the decision to have a fire on one of the main levels hooked up to the floo.
"What is it Molly," Trevor asked, "do you need the children home?"
"No," her voice trembled, "oh Merlin, I didn't know who else to come to. Merlin. Can-can you floo over? Please Trevor."
Trevor didn't have the heart to refuse the obviously distraught woman and rose to his feet, "I'll be over in a moment. Move back away from the fireplace."
When Trevor landed Molly wasn't standing in the living room, but he could see her in the kitchen standing in front of a grandfather clock. Molly didn't speak until he was standing right next to her.
"It's been like that for at least half an hour," her voice trembled and Trevor looked at the clock, his gaze sweeping over each hand with a name lovingly engraved upon each one.
Arthur Weasley's hand lay shivering upon mortal peril.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Arthur had long ago stopped feeling pain, instead now he was lost in his memories. He remembered each child's birth, the first time each of his children had flown, the days when Bill and Charlie graduated, the twins pulling their first prank, he remembered every smile, every cheeky smirk of the twins, and he remembered the warmth of Molly's arms that greeted him every time he came home. He wouldn't make it home this time. Arthur involuntarily flinched as yet another mark was carved into his flesh, perhaps he was not yet quite past feeling pain. In agony Arthur turned his head towards the far corner of the room. There huddled Lucius Malfoy. Arthur had never seen the man so disheveled or afraid, if he himself were not upon his deathbed he would have laughed in triumph. Arthur freely acknowledged that he had made a mistake coming to confront Lucius Malfoy about slipping Ginny the enchanted diary last year. He would pay for that mistake with his life.
"L-love y-you Bill, Ch-char-lie, Perc-yyy, Fred, Gg-george, Ron, Ginny, Mo-molly, Arthur managed to stammer out, his words almost unheard of beneath the dark chant filling the room around him.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Back at the Burrow the golden hand inscribed with Arthur's name game a final shudder before turning black.
"Noooo," Molly wailed and collapsed into darkness, Trevor just managing to catch the distraught woman before her head hit the floor.
After a moment's hesitation, Trevor carefully lifted the now-widowed woman into his arms and headed back to the fireplace. Somehow managing to get the floo powder into the fireplace without jostling Molly too much, Trevor stepped into the green flames with his burden.
"Darkov Manor, basement," Trevor shouted and was sucked away into the spinning vortex.
Thankfully the basement was empty when he arrived and Trevor had no problem sneaking Molly into one of the upstairs guest rooms before searching out Bill. He finally found the eldest Weasley son on duty and prowling the perimeter near the front gate.
"Hey Trevor," Bill suddenly choked down the rest of his happy greeting at the sight of Trevor's face and instead settled for, "what happened?"
Trevor shook his head slightly, indicating that it was best to wait before going into anything, "you need to get a hold of your brother, use one of the portkeys if you need to. Have him come home. I'll round up the rest of the children and we'll meet in Manuel's study."
Given the grave urgency in Trevor's bearing, it didn't take everyone long to gather into Manuel's study. Thankfully Charlie had been easily found at the reserve and there had been no problem with him taking a leave of absence and portkeying back to the Darkov Manor with Bill. Of course, the worse part fell to Trevor who had to tell the Weasley children that their father was dead.
Trevor had no more than just finished telling his news to the grief-stricken Weasley's when a wail full of suffering shattered the stillness that had seemed to fall over the house.
~~ ~~ ~*~
A wail of rage echoed throughout the Malfoy Mansion.
"What happened," the voice screamed again "why did the ritual fail?"
"The ritual did not fail," a silky voice said from the shadows.
"You said the blood of an enemy would be stronger than the blood of a servant and that I would regain my body."
"I said no such thing," the silky voice was chilly now with impatience, "I told you that you would regain a body. In order to regain your body a more complicated ritual needs to be performed; one involving blood, flesh, and bone."
The shadowy being attached to the silky voice suddenly moved to the bloody body marked with lines from its dagger and with a wave of its hand the smell of burnt flesh was heard as the wound marks were cauterized.
"What are you doing," the first voice yelled again as the shadowy being lifted the naked corpse and began to glide from the room, "you can't just leave me here, not like this!"
"No," the Being conceded as he returned, "I cannot. But before we leave I wish to return this body. Did you not hear at the end the names it called out? To give it back is the least I can do. I will come back for you when I have finished. My master Malal has invested much in your survival Voldemort, your debt to him is great. He will not tolerate a second failure from you."
Voldemort brushed this aside, he had never planned on repaying the debt he owed to Malal, not that Malal's acolyte needed to know that, "I understand all that, but I wish to leave here quickly. Where is my wand? I will need to kill Lucius before we leave, he has seen too much."
"No," the acolyte denied Voldemort, "he will not die today. This man may very well prove important in the future and will not dare speak a word of what he saw here today. Malal will not allow his plans to be ruined by a mere mortal. I will seal within his mind all that happened today, he cannot be allowed to forget it completely."
The deed done, the acolyte lifted the disfigured child Voldemort had been reborn as and left the Malfoy Manor, a giant snake following after them through the void that opened before the acolyte.
"I think it would be best if we take her home," Bill told Trevor as he sat next to his sedated mother, "she'll need the familiar surroundings."
Trevor nodded his understanding, "our floo is always open to you should you need it."
"Thank you," Bill whispered softly, he understood Trevor was giving him the time off he needed without openly saying it in front of the rest of his family.
"I'll make sure the way to the floo is clear," Trevor said as he abruptly turned to leave the room, "you'll want your privacy."
After a few minutes Trevor came back to signal the way was all clear and Bill gently lifted his mother into his arms and followed his sibling down to the fireplace and into the floo. Leaving the rest of his family to congregate in the kitchen where Ginny began to make them all something hot to drink, Bill headed upstairs to his parents room to lay his mother down. The room was dark when he entered, but Bill didn't think to spare a thought to why the curtains were closed when his mother usually left them open. Awkwardly Bill shifted Molly in his arms and waved his wand to light a candle so that he could see to put her into bed. What the candle light revealed shocked him so bad that he almost dropped his mother onto the floor. In the center of his parent's marital bed lay his father's corpse, and Bill just barely register something burned onto his father's naked chest before he fled the room.
Not pausing to answer the worried questions of his younger brothers and sister, Bill left his mother on the living room couch and threw floo powder into the fireplace.
"Trevor," he yelled, thankful to see the man still in the study where the floo connection was, "I think you best come over here."
"I'll be right over," Trevor was frowning at the frantic look in Bill's normally stoic eyes.
"We're coming too," Bill hadn't seen that Harry and Blaise were in the room as well.
Trevor went to immediately deny them, but Bill spoke up, "it might be a good idea. They can stay with the Percy, the twins, Ron, and Ginny. I think they'll need some friends to talk to."
Trevor nodded his assent and as soon as Bill's head vanished from the fire the three were stepping through. Harry and Blaise immediately went through to the kitchen where the others were still waiting, Bill having prevented them from going upstairs, while Trevor followed Bill to Molly and Arthur's room. Even though he had known it was bad from Bill's lack of composure, Trevor hadn't expected anything like what he saw. Arthur's body was pale as if there was little to no blood left in it, his limbs and face twisted with the pain of torture, and a symbol was burnt upon his chest. Regaining the composure that had allowed him to survive life in the mafia, Trevor moved closer to the bed and examined the marks upon Arthur's torso. It was a skull bisected down the center surrounded by archaic symbols Trevor couldn't recognize, let alone read. A serpent eating its own tail surrounded the whole thing. It wasn't quite Voldemort's mark, but it was close enough to worry Trevor.
"Make a copy of the symbols," Trevor instructed Bill as he laid a hand upon the young man's shoulder, knowing how hard this was for him, "I'll send for Dumbledore. As much as I would rather not involve him at all, the Ministry will end drawn into this and we'll need the old man's influence to cushion their inquiry."
"Is it Voldemort?" Bill dared ask.
"I think it might be for all that the symbol is not quite the dark mark," Trevor framed his answer carefully, "Dumbledore should be able to give those symbols meaning and Harry might be able to tell if Voldemort was present as this happened through the link he shares with the bastard."
As he went back to the fireplace to send for Dumbledore, Trevor thought back to when he had been told of Harry's link to Voldemort. He had hoped to have been able to prepare Harry a bit more to resist the link after the events of first year, but had never seemed to find the time between handling everything else. He had always thought they would have more time than this before Voldemort resurfaced, if indeed the self-proclaimed dark lord was behind this. Even if Voldemort wasn't behind this, Trevor still had a lot of work to do. He needed to make sure Harry would be ready to face the Dark Lord, needed to get together a force to work against Voldemort. He had been having a hard time trying to track down his old crowd, had put it on hold altogether when he had accepted the DADA position, but now he realized that he couldn't afford to wait much longer or they would never be ready to face any threats that might arise. He should have had a team already ready to deal with this situation without necessitating the need to involve Dumbledore. He was slipping from ignoring the magical world for so long, and he couldn't afford to, not with Harry and Blaise to protect.
"Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore," Trevor stuck his head into the floo.
~~ ~~ ~*~
Summer had passed slowly for the Weasley's as they dealt with the loss of Arthur. They knew next to nothing about his death. Harry had been able to say that Voldemort hadn't carved the marks into Arthur's chest, but he thought the Dark Lord had been present at the time. Unfortunately, they had not been able to keep the event out of the papers and speculation was running rampant; picture after picture of the Weasley family gracing the pages of the Daily Prophet. The main theory on what had happened was that Sirius Black, who had escaped from Azkaban at the beginning of the summer, was behind the whole thing. They said he had been Voldemort's number one follower and was trying to resurrect his master. The papers were having a field day, and Black had even made the muggle news. Darkov Manor was on high alert as well, Trevor having told Harry and Manuel what he knew about Sirius Black. Harry wasn't sure what to feel about the man who had betrayed his parents and killed thirteen muggle with one curse. If not for Black he would still have his parents, but then he wouldn't have Manuel. It seemed to be a lose-lose situation and so he pushed it from his mind. It was unlikely Black would be able to get near enough to him anyhow, Hogwarts was well warded and almost no one knew where he lived in the muggle world.
Trevor had also started taking off for long periods at a time and had declined going back to teach another year at Hogwarts even though it would allow him to protect Harry and Blaise easier. He was more determined than ever to resurrect his old crowd and he couldn't do that from the school. On the other hand, Vasile and Nara would be accompanying Harry and Blaise to school to guard them; it had taken some work, but Dumbledore had agreed and gotten the Ministry to approve as well.
Thankfully, amidst all of this, Molly was beginning to pull herself back together and her old determination was reasserting itself. After a bit of searching she had been able to use her certification in healing to secure a job in the pediatric ward of St. Mungos, the fact that she had already given birth to and raised seven children gave her the added credentials she needed to qualify over other applicants with more schooling. It had been rough for the family for a while though, since Arthur was no longer there to pull in a paycheck and Molly had refused to accept any money from Manuel and Trevor, nor would she accept their offer of a place to stay until things calmed down a bit.
Yet even though Molly had refused the help, Manuel and Trevor managed to lighten her load by inviting the family over to eat often and gifted the children with things they needed by including them on shopping trips to London. Bill had also been raised to the status of a Dagger and gained a pay raise after completing Trevor's arduous training regime. Yet at the time neither knew that Bill was regarding it as a sympathy handout even though he truthfully knew it wasn't. It had just come at the wrong time for Bill to think of it in any other way. Harry though, seemed to pick up on some of this as Bill had been hanging out with him, Blaise, and the twins and thus ended up on discrete guard duty. After what happened with Mr. Weasley neither Harry, Blaise, Trevor, or Manuel went out of the house without at least one Dagger with them and usually a couple of guards. Yet on this occasion Harry found himself out riding with Bill as his only companion while Blaise was off somewhere doing her own thing for once; it was not a conversation Harry would have broached otherwise as pride was a tricky thing.
"It's not out of pity," Harry decided to go for blunt truth.
"What?" Bill seemed to be coming out of his own little world and was at a loss on what Harry was talking about.
"Dad and Trevor didn't raise you to Dagger status out of pity." Harry reiterated, "given the time they did it, I can see where you might think that, but you know they wouldn't do such a thing. You passed the training in your own right; a training most of the Guards would try for and fail. You know as well as I do that neither my father nor Trevor would raise someone incompetent to such a high position in the clan's hierarchy; it would have meant someone's death. Most likely one of the families as the main job of the Daggers is to guard my father and myself along with Trevor and Blaise."
Silence fell again as the two continued to ride on until they turned back towards the manor with some unvoiced agreement. It wasn't until they were almost at the stables that Bill spoke again.
"Thanks Harry," he said as he swung down off his horse, "I think I needed that."
"No problem," Harry replied cheerfully, "glad to see you out of your funk, especially since I'm the one that has to put up with you."
"Brat," Bill couldn't repress a small grin, swatting at Harry much like he would his own brothers.