Thanks to Nancy for her help as always!
FLAMES OF BETRAYAL
Molly Weasley gazed out the window of her home, her expression sad. She missed her youngest child, Ron. She had no clue to where he had gone. He'd taken Harry and Dobby and disappeared. He hid so completely that no one could find him, not even Dumbledore. Her eyes welled up with tears as she thought of her youngest son. She remembered how angry and bitter he was at the meeting. She choked on a sob; she had no one to blame but herself and her family. She had treated him like a pariah. He was her son and she had treated him as if he didn't exist. The tears rolled down her face and she leaned her head against the window.
She felt arms reach around her and pulled her close to a warm body. She turned, grabbed onto her husband, and began to sob with pain. Arthur held her tightly and murmured softly to her, caressing her red hair. He stared out of the window sightlessly. He didn't know what he would do if Ron went through with the Rite. Surely, they'd have a chance to talk him out of it. Dumbledore had said he would try to put the paperwork for the Rite off as long as he could. He just hoped he could use the time to convince his son to stay a part of the family.
Molly was finally quiet, exhausted from her sobbing. She leaned against her husband weakly. "My baby hates us Arthur, and it's our fault. We treated him no better than we would a criminal. And Harry, oh Merlin, Harry," she wailed. She closed her eyes tightly as if to rid herself of the memories she had of Harry's face as she told him, proudly, that she had burned his things. The look of horror and betrayal that had been on his face stabbed her in the heart. They were supposed to be his family and they turned on him, just as they had turned on Ron. Molly didn't know if she was ever going to forgive herself for her betrayal.
Arthur and Molly stood there together quietly, deep in their own thoughts. A few minutes later, they heard someone come into the room. Molly looked around her husband and saw one of the twins. Fred looked downcast and subdued. She hadn't seen him like this since Ginny's death. He looked at his mother and she was shocked to see tears in his eyes.
"He's gone, isn't he?" Fred asked quietly. "I didn't really think he would leave, but there was nothing in his room. I didn't want to believe it when Charlie told me that he had taken his things and disappeared, but he has, hasn't he? He hates us," Fred said, his voice hitched with suppressed emotions. "He hates me and I can't blame him, Mum. I treated him so badly. I did things..." he trailed off, choking on his tears.
Molly pulled back from her husband and hurried over to her son. She grabbed him and held him as he broke down. "He is never going to forgive me. He is going to leave us Mum, he's going to leave."
She rocked her son slightly, gently caressing his hair. "Albus said that he would try to delay the Rite, so we still have some time to convince him to stay. We can apologize to him and hope that he believes us."
"How? We can't even find him! Not even Dumbledore can find him," Fred cried out.
Molly shushed her son before saying, "We'll find him, and then we'll convince him to give us another chance. It's the only thing we can do. I refuse to lose another member of my family. We may have caused it, but by Merlin, we will fix it. I refuse to allow this family to fall apart," Molly stated adamantly.
Arthur gazed at his wife proudly. He loved her dearly and knew that when she was determined, things would happen. He felt confident that they wouldn't lose Ron, and with Dumbledore's help, they would have the time to right their wrongs. He heard a noise, glanced over to the door, and saw the rest of his children, with the exception of Percy, standing there. They all looked subdued and tired. Molly glanced over at them and she opened her arms. As if they were still children instead of full-grown men, they ran to their mother and encircled her and their brother in their arms. Arthur gazed at his family lovingly before joining the hug. They stood there together, quietly, embracing each other.
Bill had been basking in the love of his family, thinking of his brother when he felt something. He glanced up and began to look around, opening his senses. He could feel magic pouring into the house. He stiffened and pulled back from the hug. He pulled out his wand and began to look around frantically.
The rest of the family noticed his actions and became wary. They knew that he could feel and see magic and his actions were frightening them.
"Son, what is it? What do you feel?" Arthur asked urgently.
"Magic, it's pouring into the house, but I can't see it. It's just getting stronger and stronger," Bill informed him, looking around warily.
"Do you know what it is?" Molly asked.
Bill shook his head before replying, "No, I've never felt this before." He looked around frantically, hoping that this wasn't an attack by You Know Who. He looked up and gasped, he could see a red ball of magic slowly appearing above them. It was getting stronger and brighter by the second.
"Bloody hell, what in the hell is that?" George asked, his face filled with disbelief, shock and fear.
Bill looked at him sharply before asking, "You can see that?"
"Yeah, mate, it's like a red glowing ball of energy," George answered, his eyes on the red ball of energy.
"It's magic and very strong magic at that," Bill said, staring at the growing ball warily.
"Maybe we should leave," Charlie suggested.
"I agree. I have no clue to what that is and I don't want to stay here and find out," Arthur said. "Let's go." The family began to move towards the door when the ball suddenly pulsated, glowed brightly, and then shattered. A red stream of magic hit every member of the family and entered their body. They gasped in pain and shock and slumped over, unconscious.
Several minutes later, Charlie began to stir. He groaned and his eyes fluttered open. "Ugh, what in the hell happened?" he asked and looked around. He sat up in shock when he saw the rest of his family lying on the floor unconscious. He swayed for a moment and sat still until the dizziness passed. He crawled over to his father and began to shake him. "Dad, wake up. Come on, old man, rise and shine."
His father groaned before replying, "Don't call me old man. What happened?" he asked after he had opened his eyes.
"Not sure, but whatever it was it knocked everyone unconscious. Help me get them up." Charlie helped his father up and they began to wake up the other members of their family. When they were all conscious, Bill checked for the magic that had been there previously.
"There's nothing here anymore. Not even a trace of it. It appears to have dissipated," Bill said, frowning thoughtfully.
"I wonder what it could have been," Arthur wondered. They sat down and began to talk, throwing out theories, and a majority of them had to do with You Know Who. Molly was quiet. She knew that there was something missing. Something was gone and she couldn't figure out what it was.
She looked around with a frown and began to scan the house, but could find nothing out of place. The sense of something missing was growing more urgent and she began to get restless. She stood up and began to pace, the sensation was not going away and it was beginning to scare her.
"Mum, you all right?" George asked worriedly. The rest of the family noticed their mother's agitated state.
"Molly, dear, what's going on?" Arthur questioned, concerned.
"Something's missing," she stated.
"What?" Charlie asked, confused.
"Something is missing and I can't figure out what. It's a growing, gnawing sense that I have. I feel that there's something missing from either the house or me and I can't figure out what it is," she told him fretfully.
Bill stood up, walked over to his mother, and grabbed her. "Mum, stop. Come and sit down and we can figure this out." He led her over to the couch and sat her down. He made Fred move and sat down next to her. He grabbed her hand and patted it. "All right, now mum, I want you to breathe deeply a couple times, letting your breath out slowly. Do this until you're calm." He waited until she had calmed down and relaxed a little. "Good, now I want you to close your eyes and look inward. See if you can realize what is missing. Go through your memories of the house to see if anything is gone. Take your time, there's no rush."
Molly flicked through her memories and found nothing was missing after the magic had entered their home. She still couldn't get over the nagging sense that there was something gone. She opened her eyes and looked at her son. "There's nothing missing. Everything is still in its place, but Bill, the sense is growing stronger."
"All right, so it isn't material," Bill murmured absently, his mind racing.
"Maybe it's the magic," Fred piped up. "Maybe the ball of energy took some of our magic."
George hit him on the arm, ignoring his brother's yelp. "Shut up. It's didn't steal our magic. I feel just a powerful as before."
Fred pouted at his brother. "It could've been," he griped.
Bill paused in thought then said, "No, wait, that's actually a good idea." He looked back over to his mother. "Mum, close your eyes again and open your magic. Test the strength and see if anything is missing."
She nodded and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and withdrew into herself. She went to the core of her magic and began to check the strength. She frowned to herself as she realized that she hadn't lost any magic. If anything, it looked as if she had gained some, but that didn't make sense. She began to check the bonds she had with her children and found that though they were thin, they were still there. She checked everyone, stopping at the ragged black link that had been the bond to Ginny. She felt a pang of loss and continued. They were all fine, all five of them. She paused, Five? There should be six. Frantically, she began to search and couldn't find the bond with Ron anywhere. It was gone. She had found what she was missing. She gasped and opened her eyes in shock.
"No!" she yelled. She got up from the couch and ran over to the family clock, ignoring the calls of her family. Ron was missing from the clock and there was no sign that he had ever been on it.
"Oh Merlin, oh please, no!" she gasped and ran to her bedroom. She flung open the door and hurried over to her closet. She began to throw things out, looking frantically. She finally found what she had been looking for, moved over to her bed, and sat down, ignoring her husband, who had followed her. She opened the book, Linage of the Weasleys and found the last page. She stared at the page, shocked, and the book dropped from her hands. She stared sightlessly at it, unable to grasp what she had found.
Arthur came running into the room while Molly was rummaging through the closet. "Molly, love, what is it? What happened?" he asked, but his wife ignored him. Molly had found whatever it was she had been searching for and walked over to the bed. He watched as she opened the book and frantically began to go through it. Whatever it was that she read had shocked her. She turned white with horror and the book fell to the floor, with her gazing at it sightlessly.
He walked over to his wife and grabbed her. "Molly, what is it?" he asked frantically, trying to get her to talk to him.
Charlie and his brothers had ran after their father and found him sitting next to their shocked mother. He frowned, concerned, wondering what had happened. He looked down on the floor and saw the book that his mother had been staring at. He squatted down and picked it up. He heard his mother whimper, looked up, and saw her staring at the book intently.
"He's gone. He has left us," she moaned. "He did it, oh Merlin, he did it."
Charlie looked at his father in confusion and his father shrugged, he didn't have a clue. Charlie looked at the book and noticed the name. He froze; a cold chill creeping up his spine. "Oh no," he whispered and opened the book. He went to the last page and skimmed down the family tree. Ron was missing from the tree. He had done the Rite; he was no longer a Weasley. He dropped the book and looked at his father, his face white with shock and pain. "Ron did it. He did the Rite, father. He's no longer a Weasley. He left us!" he said flatly and tears began to fall.
He heard the rest of his family gasp as understanding grasped them. "The magic, that's what the magic ball had been," Bill informed them hoarsely. "We were receiving his bond, his magic. He no longer needed it. Oh Merlin," he whispered.
"I thought Dumbledore was supposed to delay it," Fred asked, pain shining from his eyes.
"He must have found another way to do the Rite, but how?" Charlie asked.
No one could answer that question. "What do you think his name is now?" George wondered softly.
"I don't know. We won't be able to find out either, not even Dumbledore. The paperwork is spelled so that only certain people at the Ministry can see it. It's to protect the privacy of the person going through the Rite. Only Ron can give permission for others to see it and that's not going to happen," Arthur said.
"Maybe Dumbledore can help," Bill suggested hopefully.
Arthur shook his head before saying, "It won't matter. He can't read it either."
Molly began to sob hysterically. "My baby, my baby is gone. Ron is gone. Oh Merlin, help me. I've lost another one." She began to wail with pain and Arthur gathered her up into his arms. He rocked her gently and looked over at his sons. "Could you please go? I need to comfort your mother," he asked gently.
They nodded and began to leave, gazing at their sobbing mother sadly. Arthur watched them leave, and then turned back to his wife. He held her tightly and closed his eyes. Tears fell from his eyes as his wife cried for their lost son. It didn't matter that he was still alive, he was no longer a Weasley, and his loss had been their fault. He began to cry softly.
Later that night, Arthur closed the bedroom door quietly and walked down the stairs to the living room. Molly had finally fallen into an exhausted sleep and Arthur thought it was time to fire call Dumbledore with the news.
He reached the living room and found his sons talking softly. There were tear tracks on several of the guilt-ridden faces. They looked up when they heard their father.
"How's mum?" Bill asked quietly.
"She finally fell asleep. I'm going to call Dumbledore and see if he knows anything." He walked over to the fireplace and grabbed some floo powder and threw it into the fireplace. "Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts," he said. He leaned his head in and called out for Dumbledore.
The Headmaster looked up from his paperwork. He was sitting at his desk and he looked at Arthur, a surprised expression on his face.
"Arthur, what is it? Are you all right? Molly, the kids?" he asked.
"No, I can't really say that everything is all right," Arthur replied sadly.
Dumbledore straightened and gazed at the man intently, his face serious. "What's wrong?"
"Somehow Ron did the Rite. Molly no longer has a bond with him and he's been erased from the family tree. We received his magic today, Dumbledore. My family is devastated. Do you know how this could've happened? I know you said that you were going to try and delay it so that we had time to talk to Ron, but it's too late."
Dumbledore stared at him, shocked. "He did what?" he exclaimed. "But how? The paperwork hasn't even gone through yet."
Arthur shook his head in bewilderment. "I don't know. I was hoping you could tell me. It has come as a shock to all of us. I was wondering if maybe you could find out. I know it might be difficult, but with your connections, I thought you might at least have a chance."
"Of course, dear friend. I'll try to find out immediately. How long ago was this?" Dumbledore asked.
"Several hours a least. I had to console Molly or else I would've called sooner." Arthur said. Arthur heard Molly yelling for him frantically and he looked at the Headmaster. "I have to go, Molly's calling for me. Let me know what you find out. Goodbye, Albus." He pulled his head out of the fireplace and ran up to his room. He opened the door and found his frantic wife lying on the bed, sobbing hysterically. He crossed the room, reaching the bed and laid down next to his wife. He held her tightly and closed his eyes. He sighed deeply. He was concerned that his wife may never recover from this. He hoped that they could get through this with the rest of their family intact.
Dumbledore watched as Arthur's head disappeared from the fireplace. He growled furiously. He had thought to use the Rite as a bargaining chip with Ron, but again he had been outsmarted. He was getting sick and tired of being shown up by a poor, pathetic wizard from a disgraced Wizarding family. If he didn't need Arthur's help in maintaining his power, he would have gotten rid of the family long ago.
He got up from his desk and stalked over to the fireplace. He grabbed some floo and threw it in the fireplace calling out, "Elizabeth Cameron, Department of Magical Rites."
"Albus?" a querulous voice asked.
"Lizzie, wonderful to see you again my dear. It's been ages," he said kindly to the old woman who was glaring at him.
"Not nearly long enough, you old fool. What in the hell do you want?" she asked angrily.
Dumbledore chuckled in amusement. He smiled at the woman before saying, "Lizzie, you aren't still mad at me for missing that one date, can you?"
She glared at Dumbledore and gave an indignant sniff before replying, "Of course not, it's that third date you missed that I'm still angry about."
Dumbledore chuckled. "It's been over a hundred years now Lizzie, don't you think its time to let it go."
Lizzie snorted with anger. She gave Dumbledore a hateful look before replying, "Not bloody likely. Now, what did you want? I know you didn't call to reminisce."
Dumbledore sighed sadly, his eyes no longer twinkling. "No, you're right, I didn't. I just received some disturbing news from a dear friend and I was wondering if you could help me out," he inquired.
"Depends on what it is, you old coot."
"Arthur Weasley found out that his youngest son went through with the Rite of Emancipation. I hadn't even started the paperwork on it yet. How could he have done this? Could you also tell me his new name?"
Lizzie stared at him a second then smirked. "I'm sorry Albie, but as policy states, I cannot tell you a thing. Young Mr. Weasley didn't need your help to start the process. As you know, it only takes a few hours to get the paperwork for the Rite passed through. He may have decided not to trust you, Albie. Merlin knows I wouldn't. Don't forget I know you."
Dumbledore glared at her. "I want to know how he did it. There was no warning at all and I don't find this acceptable," he said icily.
Lizzie laughed harshly before replying, "You can't stand not having control over others can you, Albie? Well, I can't tell you a thing nor would I if I could. You obviously don't have young Mr. Weasley's permission to view his new name or you wouldn't be coming to me. I don't have anymore to say to you, Albie. Take your control issues elsewhere."
"Lizzie, you don't want me as an enemy. I just want the information," he said with a growl.
"Are you trying to say that you're above Ministry law, Albie? I'm not one of your pathetic Ministry workers that you can bribe. You know as well as I do that only certain people within this department can see the information you need. I'm one of them and I'm telling you that by law you have no rights to the information. I will only tell you if Mr. Weasley tells me himself I can, but by that time, it would be a little redundant because you would already know his name. Face it Albie, there's nothing you can do about it. I bet that just twists you up inside doesn't, old friend?" she asked with a sneer.
Albus growled angrily. "You make an enemy of me Lizzie, and it will be the last thing you ever do," he snarled.
Lizzie snickered with grim amusement. "Albie, I'm an old woman who has lived her life. I'm not scared of death. You forget I was a Slytherin. This call has been recorded, as are all the calls that come through here and the recording will be put into a vault for safekeeping. If I die or if you try anything, it will be given to the Ministry and a copy will be sent to the papers. I'm not stupid Albie, I know that behind your kind, benevolent mask beats a heart of an evil, manipulative man. Remember, I was in love with you once. I know you well and just because no one else can see it, doesn't mean it's not true. Now, if you don't need anything else, I have work to do. Goodbye, Albus," she said before cutting off the firecall.
The Headmaster glared at the woman and withdrew his head from the fireplace. He gave a yell of rage, picked up a glass figurine that had been sitting on the mantle and threw it. It shattered as it hit the wall. He was panting with white-hot rage. Nothing had been going right for him. He had lost his weapon. Harry was supposed to lead him to more power before he killed the brat, and now, he couldn't find him. He had underestimated a child and now he had lost his money as well. He was beginning to lose control and he was not a happy man.
He picked up some floo powder and flung it in the fireplace. "Severus Snape, Hogwarts" he called out and stuck his head in the green fire. "Severus, come to my office. Now!" he snapped. The man looked up at him startled then composed himself. "Of course, Headmaster. Right away."
Dumbledore pulled back from the fire and began to pace. He thought furiously; there were no clues as to where Ron had taken Harry. He needed that boy back under his control before he regained awareness. He wanted him firmly entrenched in his beliefs. With a few potions, there should be no problems with that. Harry may be impervious to the Imperious curse, but there were still several Dark potions that could do the job just as well. If it destroyed the boy's mind, well, that was just too damn bad.
It didn't matter though, until he found Harry and Ron, there wasn't a thing he could do about it. The people he had hired to look for them hadn't found a thing. If he didn't know better, he'd almost think that they disappeared off the ends of the Earth.
He heard the door open and watched as Snape came into the room. He sneered at the pathetic man. Here was his spy, his servant. This man was under his control and would never be free of him. Snape had thought he was getting a kinder, gentler master than Voldemort, but he had been wrong. He smiled at the man maliciously and watched in amusement as the man paled. "Have you found anything?"
"No, Headmaster. There has been no trace of the two young men. I questioned the house-elves, but they had no clue to where Dobby had gone. They just said that he left to serve another house."
"What about Gringotts?" Dumbledore asked.
"Mr. Weasley hasn't been seen there since the day before yesterday. Do you know why he was there?" Snape asked curiously.
Dumbledore stared at the man suspiciously, but the man merely looked curious. "It's none of your business. Stick to finding Weasley. I want him found and I want Potter back in my control. I will not let years of work go down the drain because of one ignorant child. Find them Snape, or I will give you a lesson like none you have ever had before. Now leave me," he growled angrily.
Snape bowed, turned, and left the room. "Winky!" he called out.
"Yes, Master?" she asked fearfully.
"How is the mutt?" he bit out.
"Mutt is fine, sirs. Winky fed him today."
"I want you to decrease his food. He will only have gruel and water from now on. That is all."
"Yes, Master." The house-elf disappeared.
I am beginning to think the mutt is a liability, but I am not ready to kill him off yet. I might need him in order to coerce Harry into doing my bidding. But, there is no point to feeding him more than I have to. Slowly, but surely, that man will die. And when I get a hold of that Weasley boy, I will make him regret ever going against me, Dumbledore thought furiously./ He will die by my hands and I will revel in his death./
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