[ introduction. ]
NOTES: This takes place just before Devin's fifth year, Daniel's third, which would be Harry's sixth.
Thunder rattled the windows of the small log cabin, alerting her awake. She hated storms. This one in particular seemed nasty. There was a chill in the air, it sent a shiver down her spine, and she wanted to get back into bed and try to fall asleep, but she knew she needed to check in on Daniel. It was raining hard; the sound of the rain hitting the roof was like drums in the distance. A loud, booming sound, non-stop. She knew that if he was awake, Daniel was probably frightened. He hated storms, too. It was up to her now. Damian was gone, had been for months. She had to stay and protect Daniel the same way Damian had protected her from their father. They were all scared of him, all but Damian. He had always challenged their father, maybe that's why they didn't get along.
Wrapping the blanket from her bed around her shoulders, she crept to her bedroom door, trying her best not to make a sound. When she turned the knob and pulled the door open it creaked, and she paused. Stricken by fear, she waited a moment to make sure she didn't hear anyone coming. She heard no footsteps, but she did hear voices... Faint voices coming from downstairs. They were strange to her, all but her fathers were unrecognizable.
What got into her, she never knew, but Devin pulled the door back further and stepped out into the hall. The hardwood was cold on her bare feet as she walked to the edge of the staircase. Three men were down below standing in front of her father. He looked odd to her, cowering, almost in fear. He looked small and timid, and this was farthest from the John Woodward she was used to. The John Woodward she knew was strong, dominant, intimidating. Who were these men to make a man such as her father look so mousy?
"Ple-please, give me mo-more time." He fumbled over his words, his voice shaky.
"Three days. You have three days." One of the men said.
Devin squinted as if that would help her hear better. She tried to focus on their voices, trying to recognize them, or at least one of them and then...
"You don't want to disappoint him. You know what happens when he's disappointed. Be careful of the choice you make, Woodward, because if you make the wrong one..." He paused and she could hear two footsteps and then the voice continued. "You will lose everything. One. By. One. Everything you hold dear..." He emphasized each word and Devin knew for sure now who the voice belonged to.
She'd never met him face to face before. She'd only ever heard his voice once, in Diagon Alley, and even then the voice sent shivers up her spine. The man was the father of one of her classmates. Classmates... As if she was associated with him. She had never met the boy, no. Never had a conversation with him. He was a Slytherin, a year older than her, and they had no classes together. That was alright with her. She'd heard enough about Draco Malfoy. She was just fine with never being properly acquainted with him.
Her hands were shaking, her heart pounding against her chest. She didn't know why, but this particular conversation was making her a bit apprehensive, even if she knew nothing of what they spoke about. Paralyzed with fear, she wanted to move away before she was found out, but she couldn't. What would these men do to her if they discovered her? Would her father be able to save her? Would he even try?
"It is a nice home, Woodward. I do hope you weren't trying to hide from us." "No, no, Lucius. I would never-"
The man that answered sounded nothing like John Woodward. Where once a booming, commanding voice had been, was now replaced by a quiet and shaky one. He was scared, terrified even.
"We'll be back in three days. I do hope it will be a pleasant visit." Lucius Malfoy's voice was polite but menacing in every way. There was no kindness to his words. He was threatening John, that was plain.
Devin backed away slowly from the banister. She didn't have time to think, she had no time to react. One foot tangled in the blanket, she lost her fight with gravity and her legs swung out from under her. She expected to hit the cabin floor with a loud thump, alerting the men downstairs, but she was caught.
Two strong arms held her up, helping her to her feet. It was Damian.
"What are you doing here?!" The words she uttered were a little louder than intended. Her older brother covered her mouth quickly and shushed her. Grabbing her by the shoulders, he led her into Daniel's room and closed the door quietly behind him.
Damian was tall. He towered over both her and Daniel. Eight years older than Devin, he'd always been her protector, her savior. He always seemed to show up just when she needed him. But she hadn't expected to see him on this night.
"Damian, what's going on?" She folded her arms across her chest. She wanted answers, she demanded answers. Something was happening and she didn't know what, but she was frightened.
"Just give him time, Dev. He'll explain." Daniel's voice startled her, making her jump. She'd forgotten that they'd come into his room. She noticed now that he was sitting on the edge of his bed.
His room was small, the smallest in the cabin. The rafters hung low, so low that Damian had to duck his head in certain spots.
"Things are about to get bad, Devin. I don't know how bad. I just know that you and Daniel are not safe here anymore."
She couldn't see his face, but she could imagine the look by the sound of his voice. He was concerned. He was... Was he scared? She'd never known him to show fear, not ever. "What do-What do you mean?"
"Listen to me," He took one step forward, he placed a firm hand on her shoulder. A thunderclap echoed outside, followed by a flash of lightning, illuminating the sky and shining on Damian's grave face. "Whatever happens at school this year, whatever you hear, I need you to be strong. I need you to protect Daniel. When Christmas break comes," He paused and glanced in Daniel's direction. "You're coming with me. You're never coming back to this place again."
"No!" Devin jerked away. "What about Mum? We can't just leave her with him!"
It was quiet. The only sounds to be heard were the rain and occasional thunderclap. Then Damian sighed heavily. "Devin, please. If you've ever trusted me at all, trust me now. You have to do what I say. I'm just trying to keep you safe."
Silence again. They stood together in the darkness for the longest time. A wave of sadness and dread washed over her. She didn't know why. It was foreboding. She nodded to herself, suppressing a sigh, she finally agreed. "Alright, Damian. Whatever you say."
He reached one hand out for Devin, the other for Daniel. The three Woodward siblings stood in the middle of the little room, holding one another. "Whatever happens, no matter what, I'm going to protect both of you. Devin, Daniel, I promise you that."