The door to the cellar creaked open to reveal a dark figure slipping inside. This was a secret entrance that only members of the family were aware of. He was positive that the house was not being watched, but it wouldn’t hurt to be careful. Especially when it could mean capture and a very long prison term. Large puddles formed on the rough stone steps as the figure crept down the stairs as quietly as he could.
He moved to the door that led to the pantry and turned the knob slowly. He peeked around the corner to make sure that he was alone before he proceeded to the stairs that would take him to the bedrooms on the second floor. He was shivering from the cold, soaked to the bone after running through the heavy downpour outside.
But it was worth it and he did not regret going out on such a dreadful night. It was either this or stay in his hideout and face the possibility of being dragged away to Azkaban. Only his wits and acute instinct for survival had enabled him to elude the hunters.
As far as he could tell, the authorities were still unaware of his whereabouts and he wanted it to stay that way. They had stopped monitoring this house after three months of his non-appearance. They were probably now waiting for him at either one of his resthouses in the country. As if he would be that stupid!
He’d thought of waking up his wife but he remembered that she’d already left, choosing to stay in her family’s ancestral home to avoid the constant stream of reporters and Ministry investigators alike. She would not have welcomed him with open arms, anyway, even if she was here. He knew how much she hated him right now and he doubted if she’d already altered her stand. He truly wanted to make things right, to explain himself to her, but her last words to him still rang in his ears.
Besides, after he has retrieved what he had come for, it would not matter anyway. Things between them would change. EVERYTHING would change!
He walked to the room at the end of the hall – his son’s room. This was the last room he had visited before he made his disappearing act. After everything started to unravel, he knew that it would be the safest place to hide his precious, albeit illegal, artifact. His wife would not even dream of searching her son’s room; she trusted him that much.
And why shouldn’t she? As it turned out, he was as different from his father as night was from day. It caused a pang in his heart. Oh, yes! Despite what everyone thought, he did have a heart. And it had broken into a million pieces when he saw his world crumbling before his very eyes. How could they turn against him like that? Didn’t they know that he was just looking after the family name and legacy? How could they choose to betray their bloodline?
But enough of that! He had work to do and he must do it fast!
The room was pitch-black, but he didn’t need any illumination to accomplish his purpose. He knew this room like the back of his hand. The thick carpeting muffled his steps so he moved freely across the floor, straight to the large, four-poster bed. He went down on his knees when his hands felt the bed. Sliding his hand beneath the thick mattress, he pressed on the round button recessed into the wood frame. After hearing the telltale click, he moved his fingers to the small compartment that he knew was now open.
His heart hammered against his chest, fearing what he would find. Had his inquisitive son discovered his secret? He hoped not! A great sigh issued from his lips when his hand felt the cold, metallic object nestled within the compartment. He wasted no time in pocketing it before running down the stairs and out into the pouring rain.
When he was a few meters away from the house, he turned to look up at the darkened structure. The next time he came back here, he would no longer be skulking in the shadows. He would be welcomed as lord of his own castle again.
He would take back everything he’d lost during the war – his dignity, his pride, his rightful place in society. He would even take back his traitorous wife and his disillusioned son!
And this time, things would stay the way that they should – he would make sure of that!