|SIYE Time:8:45 on 16th January 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 98136; Chapter Total: 2073
Again, I apologize for the mix up with the last two chapters.
Chapter Twenty-Six, The Goblet of Fire Part Thirteen
The Wretched and Divine
Ginny scanned the area but all she saw were bull-rushes and muggy ground. There was a large, decrepit house in the distance, and farther off was a smog-laden village lit up with harsh yellow lamps.
“Harry!” Sirius yelled. There was no answer. He called again, but still no one answered. Ginny’s heartbeat sounded like a drum call in the darkness.
Harry? Ginny thought anxiously. She heard no coherent words, only vague panic. Her chest was tight with the same emotion, and her thoughts ran rampant with terror. She knew what was happening, she didn’t know how she knew, but they had to get to Harry immediately.
“HARRY!” she screamed. Behind her, Dumbledore spun his wand in a wide circle, and light erupted all around them. There was not a single human figure anywhere near them. A small cat was struck by the light; it hissed and took off with its bushy tail erect in the opposite direction.
“He’s not here,” Ginny muttered.
“Bagman must have lied,” Remus said. “Ginny, think! Can you hear him?”
“What’s this about?” Moody grumbled. “How would she hear him from here?”
Ginny snapped her fingers angrily at him; the Auror blinked but was silent. She closed her eyes and focused. Harry. Harry. Harry. He was afraid, genuinely terrified, of what was happening before him. If only he could calm his terror for just a moment, just long enough for her to hear what he was saying —
Bagman might have told you the wrong place!
Please, please, answer me, Ginny!
Harry, I’m here, where are you?
Please, let it not work, let it drown! Let it go wrong!
Ginny gripped Dumbledore’s sleeve. “Are there any other Hangletons anywhere?”
“There’s one in France,” he said.
Ginny tried to see through Harry’s eyes. She saw flashes of red then milky white, and heard splashes and Harry’s ragged breathing. There were headstones around him. He was in a graveyard.
“A graveyard,” she said. “He’s in a graveyard.”
“What are the names?” Remus asked. “Can you tell?”
Ginny struggled to focus his gaze. There were tears of fear gathering in his eyes, and his glasses were knocked askew, straining his view. She couldn’t see any clear names.
“I can’t tell!” she growled.
Dumbledore touched his fingers to her temple. She let him into her mind, praying that he could help. After a moment, he said: “The tombstones are a mix of Gothic and Saxon design but they are also in English. He’s not in France.”
“What about variations of Hangleton?” Remus asked. “Are there any similar names to it?”
“Hambleton, Hangletown, Hangledtown and ton,” Dumbledore recited.
Ginny hissed suddenly and jumped away from Dumbledore. She rubbed her eyes, then her temples, and realized that she was crying too. She saw red eyes, boring deep into her soul.
“He’s back,” she moaned.
Cruel lips curved in a wicked smirk. Long bony fingers snapped and a wand was held out to him. He took it and examined its surface, then turned his gaze on the persons around him.
“Welcome back, my lord,” said the black man.
Lord Voldemort made no reply. He turned to Bagman and his helper, then flicked his wand. Bagman suddenly opened his eyes and sat bolt upright.
“Go distract the fools,” he said softly. Bagman nodded, then with a loud CRACK he was gone. Voldemort inhaled deeply, then looked to Harry. He stepped forward, til he was inches from Harry’s face.
“I smell your fear,” Voldemort whispered. Harry could make no movement and no sound. Voldemort smiled again, then turned away and faced Professor Sinestra.
“Your devotion is appreciated,” he told her. She straightened, and Harry realized she was cradling a stump of an arm. It served her right, he thought, for cutting off Krum’s. Voldemort held out his hand to her. “The Dark Lord rewards his followers,” he said. Sinestra held out her shaking stump, and Voldemort waved his wand over it. From the stump grew a silvery shape, which shaped itself and split into fingers, ending in a shimmering hand of silver. Professor Sinestra bowed low, whispering her thanks.
“What news do you bring?” Voldemort said, turning back to the man who’d brought Bagman.
“Dumbledore is clueless.”
“As he is always. What else?”
“Karkaroff denies any contact with my lord or his followers.”
“We shall remedy that post haste,” Voldemort said with a cruel chuckle. “Your arm.”
The man stepped forward and pulled back his left sleeve. Harry caught a glimpse of the Death Eater’s faint brand before Voldemort stepped forward and pressed his finger to the mark.
There was a loud CRACK directly behind Ginny; she turned around but a pair of arms was already wrapping around her.
“Nobody move!” Bagman’s voice called. Both of his arms were tightly wrapped around her shoulders; a wand was pressed against her pulse. “Everyone drop your wands.”
The four men all dropped their wands. Bagman flicked his and all four of them vanished. Bagman grabbed her wand from her hand, and it too disappeared. She sucked in her breath; he smelled like cigarette smoke and bourbon.
“You four are going to return to Hogwarts, where I just sent your wands,” Bagman said, tossing a worn slipper in their direction. “Miss Weasley and I shall return to where I came from.”
“Who are you working for?!” Moody shouted.
“Voldemort,” Ginny said.
Bagman chuckled. “Good girl. Yes, I am working for the Dark Lord. But that does not matter now. You are going to take that Portkey back to Hogwarts before I slit the girl’s throat.”
Ginny gritted her teeth. Bagman squeezed his arms for a moment, pressing her into his body.
“You’re disgusting!” she spat.
“Shut it,” he growled. “You’re lucky I’m not killing all of you.”
“You couldn’t kill them!” Ginny said. “Even wandless, Dumbledore is twice as powerful as you are, Moody is the best Auror in history, and Sirius and Remus are two of the greatest duelers I’ve ever seen.”
“But now they’re going back to Hogwarts,” Bagman said with a sneer. His breath fell on her ear; she coughed at the smell of it. “Now!”
Dumbledore slowly bent and lifted the slipper. He locked eyes with Ginny, and she clenched her jaw.
Then she heard his voice. I have established a link between us, his thought echoed through her mind. I will be able to track you.
She nodded slightly. Dumbledore held out the slipper to Moody, Remus, and Sirius. He looked each of them in the eye as well, and wordlessly they each touched a finger to the Portkey.
There was a flash of blue light, and they were gone.
Bagman exhaled slowly. “Now that that’s done,” he grumbled. He turned her roughly around and pressed her against his side. Ginny clapped a hand over her nose at the intensified reek. Bagman sneered down at her, then gripped her waist and turned on the spot.
The air was knocked from her lungs. She coughed, almost choked on Bagman’s smell, then sunk to her knees. He grabbed the neck of her robes and hauled her up.
“You’re my leverage,” he growled. “You’d better stay conscious.”
Ginny spat in his face. He spluttered, then flung her onto the ground and wiped his face with his sleeve.
“Brat,” he grumbled. “I’ve half a mind to teach you a lesson.”
He grabbed her robes again. Then he ran one hand through her hair, and sneered, exposing his yellow teeth. “But there’s time for that later, isn’t there? The Dark Lord is not very patient.”
Suddenly he winced. “Very not patient,” he mumbled, then he wrapped an arm around her knees and threw her over his shoulder like a rag doll. Ginny pounded her fists on his back, yelling loudly at him, but he flicked his wand and her fists froze and her voice fell quiet.
“That’s better,” he said. He adjusted his hold on her so she was draped over both of his shoulders. He held her arm with one hand and the other gripped her leg just above her knee. “Come on then. The Dark Lord is going to want to know about how close you are to Potter.”
Ginny’s face was stretched in a silent scream, but it echoed through her mind.
Voldemort stood waiting with his back to Harry. Sinestra and the black man, Harry remembered her calling him Philip, were standing at attention at one side of the clearing in the graveyard, the man who’d helped Bagman stood at the other end. He wasn’t Crouch after all, but a young man with sandy blonde hair and a gaunt face. The stooped shouldered man sat with his back to the tombstone Harry was tied to, his long, greasy hair hanging over his face. Harry felt the urge to kick him, but his legs refused to budge.
Then, others began to appear. Men and women in black robes and masks similar to Sinestra’s. They slunk in through the tombstones and began to form a circle around Voldemort. There were defined gaps in it, holes Harry hoped wouldn’t get filled.
Ten minutes after Bagman disappeared, he returned bearing a small figure on his shoulder. He flung the figure at Harry’s feet, then took his place in the circle. Harry tried to gaze downward to see who it was, but his head wouldn’t tilt. Whoever it was, they were just as silent and non-moving as Harry was.
Finally, Voldemort spoke. “Welcome,” he said in a soft voice.
“My Lord,” the circle said in unison.
“Thirteen years,” Voldemort mused, “thirteen years it has been since we met last. Yet, here we are, once again reunited under the Dark Mark.”
He began to pace in a smaller circle. “Or are we?”
The circle seemed to hold their breath. Voldemort stopped facing the largest group. “I smell guilt,” he said quietly. “The stench of betrayal is heavy upon us tonight.”
They were silent still. Voldemort inhaled slowly. “I see each of you, all whole, healthy, prospering despite the stigma you must have faced in my absence. How is it, I ask myself, that none of you ever faced Azkaban? As my most loyal followers, you must have announced your allegiances to the world without fear of retribution, but then if you had, you would have been prosecuted as criminals, would you not?”
Harry heard a trace of anger in Voldemort’s voice. Harry prayed that someone would come, anyone, anyone would come and attack, to rescue him.
“I answer myself,” Voldemort whispered. “To have avoided Azkaban, you must have denied me.”
“My lord,” said a soft voice. Voldemort turned his red eyes on the speaker, then stepped forward.
“Let’s hear your defense, then,” he said. “What was it that kept you out of Azkaban, Lucius?”
Harry’s heart skipped a beat.
“We all knew that when you returned, you would need followers instantly,” Lucius said. “If we were to be thrown in Azkaban, that would do you no good.”
Voldemort nodded slowly. “So you denied me, on the thoughts that the day I returned, I would need your help immediately.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Voldemort bared his teeth in his face. “Then why did none of you come looking for me?!”
The circle was silent once more.
Voldemort turned away from Lucius, turning to face Professor Sinestra and Philip, as well as Bagman and the young man. “Only these four came for me. Dear Aurora and Philip have been for years trying to resurrect me in secret, then Ludo and Barty came to their aid and ensured I would rise. Ludo gave them the book and Barty heralded the Tri-Wizard Tournament, which brought to me Potter, and therefore my way back.”
They were silent. Voldemort turned back to Lucius. “The book they used to bring me back is one you have in your collection, Lucius,” he said. “Tell me why you never thought to pursue it and stumble upon the potion that gave me my body.”
“I had to dispose of my collection, my lord,” Lucius said. “To prevent my exposure as a practitioner of the Dark Arts.”
Voldemort shook his head. “Such a shame. You even disposed of the Black Book of Felicia Tiberina?”
Voldemort nodded slowly. “Yes, it was that most cursed tome that Aurora Sinestra found that brought me back. I imagine she probably bought your copy.”
Voldemort turned to Harry’s tombstone, and his eyes fixed on the man sitting slumped beneath it. “I would ask you to welcome the man who brewed the potion!” he said. “Abraham Vance!”
The man at Harry’s side did not rise. He did not even move.
“Poor Abraham did not want to help,” Voldemort. “But as the book was heavily encoded, he was the only one with the necessary skill to decode and prepare the potion. The Sinestra siblings convinced him to do so by kidnapping his wife. So you see, it is all due to their actions that I am standing before you.”
Harry tried to make sense of what was happening. He remembered a moment from a dream, a girl with white hair saying that she and her crow would provide Abraham with the final clue. Was that connected to this?
Voldemort sneered down at Abraham. “Poor Abraham was a member of the Order of the Phoenix, that wretched group that so feebly attempted to defy us, yet he dropped his every allegiance to aid me the moment his wife was in danger. That speaks profoundly for love and its poor judgment.”
The man turned his face away, and Harry could see shame in his heart.
Voldemort turned his red eyes back on Sinestra. She smiled warmly to him, and he inclined his head. “So no man or woman here but for these four really thought I would come back. None of you ever tried to help me. Therefore, I pronounce them above you all, and all of you worthless.”
Harry flinched at the word. He remembered the ghost of Voldemort’s younger self and his sadistic mark upon Ginny. Then anger kindled in him. Who was Voldemort to declare any human being worthless?
Voldemort slowly turned back to Harry. “They brought Potter to me at great risk to their lives,” he said. “For this, I am grateful.”
Harry tried to appear less scared than he really was. Voldemort smirked. He flicked his wand and the ropes that bound him vanished. Harry’s body could suddenly move, and he fell forward onto the ground.
The circle of Death Eaters laughed.
“Come now, Potter, where is your dignity? Stand before me, face me as your father did before I killed him.”
Harry panted softly as he pushed himself back. He straightened his glasses, then caught something red beside him. He turned, and his heart stopped at the sight of Ginny’s limp body. She was staring at him with a frozen expression of anger. He reached over hesitantly and clasped her hand.
Harry’s fear melted into anger. He gripped her hand, then pushed himself up. He turned and looked directly at Voldemort. Then he turned to Bagman and glared.
“What’s this? Potter, does the girl upset you? Ludo, do explain her presence here.”
“I took her hostage,” Bagman said. “So Dumbledore and the Auror would return to Hogwarts.”
Voldemort smirked. “The poor fool must be beating himself up for allowing two of his students into danger.”
“Yes, that’s what I was thinking!”
“No, you weren’t, you idiot,” Voldemort snapped. “You were thinking she was pretty and that you could get away with taking her as a pet!”
Harry’s chest swelled with rage, but his voice was still silenced by Sinestra’s charms. Bagman looked at his feet, almost ashamed. Voldemort flicked his wand, and Ginny’s body straightened itself, then ropes appeared and lashed her arms to her side.
“Potter, face me,” he said. “I want to see the life leave your eyes.”
Harry clenched his fists. Voldemort smirked. “Aurora, give the boy his wand. It would be improper of me to merely kill him. We shall duel.”
Sinestra stepped out of line and pressed Harry’s wand into his hand. Harry took it without looking at her. He focused on Ginny behind him. He would not fail; he would not let himself get killed so she would be turned into a pet for the foul and disgusting pedophile traitor.
“Dumbledore did teach you manners, did he not?” Voldemort said. “First we bow to each other.”
Harry stood with his back erect.
“Come now, Harry, don’t be rude,” Voldemort crooned. “The niceties must be observed. Bow!”
Harry ignored the command.
Voldemort glared at him. “I said, bow! Imperio!”
Harry closed his eyes before the spell could reach him. He remembered Remus telling them about spells that tried to break a person’s will; the Imperius Curse was an Unforgivable and it took the strongest will to resist it.
Harry refused to break.
A little voice whispered to him, just bow, it would be so easy, but Harry ignored it. He felt Voldemort’s frustration grow the longer he resisted.
“Bow, Potter!” he spat.
“NO!” Harry shouted, breaking both the Silencing Charm and the Imperius. Voldemort narrowed his red eyes and smirked.
“You refuse? Try this then; Crucio!”
Harry screamed as sudden searing pain filled his entire body. He fell to the ground, convulsing and screaming his throat sore; the pain was so intense, it shook his every molecule with agony.
Voldemort lifted his wand and the pain stopped. Harry pushed himself to his knees, drawing in great lungfuls of air.
“That wasn’t so bad, Potter,” Voldemort crooned. “That was merely a taste. Here, once again! Crucio!”
Harry’s screams were louder than he could ever had imagined. His body felt like it was being dosed in boiling acid, his joints were all twisting out of place and backwards, his very pores were all standing erect and screaming with pain.
And it stopped again. Voldemort and his circle of Death Eaters were all laughing. “Now you are a bit humbled, are you not, Potter? Stand up, boy, face me again! Go on, stand!”
Harry’s legs trembled as he tried to push himself up. He was shaking visibly and as he straightened his spine, his knees gave way and he fell to the ground again. The Death Eaters all laughed.
“Do you see how weak you are, Potter?” Voldemort cried. “Let me show you; Crucio!”
The pain was so horrible; tenfold anything he had ever felt in his life. Harry screamed and screamed and the only thing louder than his screams was the laughter of the Death Eaters and their master as Harry’s body ripped itself apart in pain.
“Get up, Potter!” Voldemort yelled over Harry’s screams. “Prove yourself worthy of being my enemy!”
Harry could not have stood even if he wanted too; the pain was so intense.
Voldemort lifted his wand once more and Harry tried to simply breathe. He caught sight of Ginny’s frozen body and tears gathered in his eyes. He could not protect her; he was too weak.
“Stand, Potter!” Voldemort called again. “Or do you want to taste the Cruciatus again?”
Harry wished that he’d refused to step into the maze. He wished that he had refused to take his place as a champion. He would have rather taken the exile, living as a Muggle, than been forced into this.
“Torture the girl, my lord,” Bagman’s voice called. “It will hurt him more than his own torture!”
“Indeed?” Voldemort said. Harry jerked his gaze to Voldemort; his cruel eyes were aimed at Ginny now. He smirked coldly at Harry, then turned his wand on Ginny. “Crucio!”
And now Ginny screamed. Harry screamed with her; Voldemort laughed, the Death Eaters laughed, Harry felt her pain as if it were his own. He lunged for her and grabbed her cold hands. Their screams echoed through the graveyard.
Voldemort stopped finally. Ginny’s screams turned to low whimpers. Her body curled into a fetal position, her head lying in Harry’s hands.
“Well, well, well,” Voldemort chuckled. “Does it look to anyone else as though Potter might have fallen into the trap of the heart?” The Death Eaters laughed again. Harry turned, anger and fear pulsing like fire in his veins, and pushed himself to his feet. Voldemort smirked at him.
“As if you needed any reason to sink lower,” his enemy said softly. Harry gritted his teeth. “But now, Potter, we duel.”
Harry immediately cried: “Protego!” as Voldemort began a silent volley of curses. He grabbed Ginny’s limp body, his arms trembling beneath her weight, and ducked behind a nearby headstone; one belonging to Caroline Riddle. He flicked his wand at the ropes tying Ginny still and they fell away. He stood up and dodged a jet of purple light, then cast a Reductor Curse followed by an Impediment Jinx. Voldemort easily blocked both; Harry ducked green light then fired a jet of water at him. Voldemort sidestepped it, slowly advancing. Harry gripped his wand tighter, then a hand gripped his empty palm.
You can distract him long enough for Dumbledore to get here, Ginny’s voice whispered in his mind. Harry nodded with a jerk, then cast a Stunning Spell. Voldemort laughed at his seemingly sloppy aim, but it hit Harry’s intended target. A Death Eater collapsed from Harry’s spell. Ginny was right, right now he only needed to distract Voldemort, but he could also take out many of the Death Eaters while they were enraptured by his and Voldemort’s duel. He cast three more Stunning Spells, all of which Voldemort side-stepped and caught Death Eaters. Ginny didn’t have her wand, but her hand in Harry’s gave him boosts of courage.
“Stupefy! Reducto! Aguamenti! Stupefy! Expelliarmus! Stupefy! Stupefy!”
Harry cast spell after spell. He pulled Ginny up and they darted from tombstone to tombstone, hitting the Death Eaters with stray spells. Harry caught Bagman with his Oculo Inflammare curse followed by a Silencing Charm, and the man collapsed in silent screams of pain. Not one spell landed on Voldemort, but that didn’t matter to Harry just then. He only wanted to reduce resistance when Dumbledore arrived.
Ten minutes later, half the Death Eaters were stunned or somehow incapacitated. Voldemort still had not realized that Harry’s apparent sloppy spell-work was taking out his followers, because he was intent on killing Harry. None of his spells landed on Harry either, because Harry had a very strong Shield Charm and he was very good at dodging. Finally, Ginny told him that Dumbledore had tracked them down and would be there soon.
Harry jumped up and cried “Expelliarmus!” once more, but at the very same time Voldemort yelled “Avada Kedavra!”
The two spells collided in midair and suddenly there was a golden beam of light connecting their wands. A huge golden shimmering shield erupted from the midpoint where the light was intensified into a little ball and descended around them. The remaining Death Eaters scattered to avoid it, but Voldemort remained still. There was shock on his newly formed face, but it was quickly replaced by something Harry attributed to bloodlust.
The little ball of light began inching down the beam towards Harry, and as it did his wand began to shake violently. Guessing that it would not be good if it reached him, he focused his will and drove it away from him towards Voldemort’s wand. Voldemort’s expression deepened, and it shifted back towards Harry. Ginny gripped Harry’s hand tighter. The ball of light inched towards Voldemort’s wand, then it shot forward and connected with the tip of his wand.
Voldemort’s wand tip seemed to explode in a violent volley of pale spells; ghosts of the spells he’d been performing. There were flashes of light, then out came a waving hand, then more spells and finally a thick cloud of white smoke. It solidified into a figure, and Harry saw the old man from his dream last year.
“Killed me, that one did,” the ghost said in a voice that echoed through the entire golden dome. “You fight him, boy.”
Harry nodded vaguely, but then there was another white cloud coming from Voldemort’s wand and a woman appeared. Harry didn’t recognize her, but she smiled apologetically at him.
“It was sort of my fault that he knew about Barty, Jr.,” she said. “Bertha Jorkins, the name is. I think. He killed me after I told him about the Tournament. I wasn’t s’posed to do that, was I?”
Harry wasn’t sure how to respond, until another woman appeared. His wand slipped almost, but Ginny grabbed his wand hand and kept it steady.
Lily Potter’s ghost smiled at him. “Hold on, sweetheart, your father’s coming. Hold on for just a bit longer.”
Harry’s heart clenched. Ginny was holding his hand still and she wrapped her free arm around his waist, lending him her strength. Then a fourth cloud of smoke exited the wand tip, and it formed the image of James Potter.
“You’re doing great, son!” he said. “Help is on the way, you can push him back long enough.”
“What?” Harry muttered.
“Push him back until help arrives! They’re coming, so just hold on a bit longer.”
Harry only just understood, but he nodded and pressed his will harder into the beam of light. More spells echoed from Voldemort’s wand, slowly filling the dome with their ghosts. Voldemort’s face was frightened from behind all the pale ghost spells. Harry could do this, he could win.
“Just a moment longer, sweetheart,” his mother told him. “They’re almost here!”
Dumbledore’s here! Ginny suddenly thought.
“Now!” Harry’s father said. “Break it now!”
Harry jerked his wand backwards, and suddenly all of the ghost spells rushed at Voldemort; they gathered right in his face, and he was distracted trying to beat them away. Harry looked around and saw Dumbledore right behind him. He grabbed both of their arms and Disapparated.
The Potter boy was gone, and so was Ginny. The Dark Lord was in a towering rage, and was now taking it out on his somewhat loyal followers. He wanted to know how Dumbledore knew where he was, but no one was able to give him an answer. Abraham crawled slowly around the still writhing body of Ludo Bagman, silently clawing at his eyes from Potter’s spell, and grabbed the man’s discarded wand, then pushed himself up and sprinted away from the graveyard. The cup was still laying in the grass where Sinestra had dropped it. He grabbed one handle, and the Portkey sucked him away. When he landed, he dropped it and looked around. There were three people around him. One of them was definitely dead, but the other two were simply unconscious. Using Bagman’s wand, he conjured stretchers and levitated each of them onto one, then began walking. He was in some kind of maze, so he simply blew apart the hedges as he walked. He’d reach one edge or another eventually. Dumbledore could help him; and he would, if he wanted the Black Book of Felicia Tiberina.
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