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SIYE Time:1:16 on 19th August 2017


Gothic
By Brennus

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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Action/Adventure
Warnings: Death, Disturbing Imagery, Intimate Sexual Situations, Violence
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 158
Summary: A bored Ginny Weasley finds her world turned upside down when a handsome and mysterious young wizard with a dark reputation offers her a job. Together, they seek a lost treasure and battle monsters while she learns many new things about herself.
Hitcount: Story Total: 19460; Chapter Total: 1800
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Sorry for the slight delay in posting again but, rather like the last one, I made a lot changes to this chapter. Still, a lot happens here so hopefully that will make up for my tardiness.

I think I should flag up a ‘Naughtiness!’ warning, and a ‘Nastiness!’ one, too. Things get a bit hot and sticky in places (literally!), and I go all ‘Witchfinder General’ towards the end. Hey, this is meant to be a horror story!

Mega wizard thanks to Arnel. I might yet yield to her suggestion to write a sequel to this.




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Chapter 8 — House of Horrors



“That’s our destination.”

Ginny wearily looked up at where Harry was pointing. By the time they’d Obliviated the hotel owner and found a new location, well away from the village, to set up their tent, she’d only ended up getting about four hours sleep. Although Harry had insisted she consume a Pepperup Potion with her meagre breakfast, she was still feeling a little sandy-eyed.

After blinking in the sunlight a few times, Ginny caught sight of a dark, ominous structure that was perched on the hill across the snow-filled valley. Its gothic towers and foreboding keep were exactly as she had imagined the vampires’ castle would look like. Here was the fortress of Count Rugila, and it was as mysterious and unsettling as Harry had pictured it to be.

Although it was nearly March, spring showed no signs of making an appearance in this part of the world, and the thick expanse of evergreen trees were all sprinkled with snow which glistened in the first rays of the morning sun. As Harry had told her, dawn was the best time to try and enter a vampire-infested castle and she was happy to make the most of any advantage they could get.

“Are you ready?” Harry asked her.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she confirmed, adjusting the sword that hung in a scabbard at her waist. Harry had spent the last two weeks instructing her in its use and she was unsurprised to learn that he was a master swordsman. Her wand was securely mounted in a holster on her left arm, and she could also boast of several new spells to add to her armoury. The False Dawn Charm created a brilliant ball of light that would paralyse, or at least blind, most vampires. Likewise, the Blood Boiling Hex should also render them helpless. As Harry had driven into her, however, neither spell would kill them. Only a beheading would do that.

“Let’s Apparate to the top of the extreme left-hand tower. From there we should be able to find our way into the castle itself,” he suggested.

“No problem,” Ginny replied with as much resolve as she could muster. Nervously, she pulled at the stiff collar of her battle robes which were designed to prevent a vampire gaining easy access to her jugular. Desperately, she tried not to think about a pair of over-sized teeth sinking into her flesh.

“Alright, let’s go, then,” Harry said and, with a soft pop, was gone.

Ginny wasted no time in following him and soon found herself standing beside him on the wind-swept tower. The tower itself was bare stone apart from a rectangular gap in the centre which revealed a set of steps descending downwards. Over the ramparts, she could see the sun was now raising over the horizon, bathing everything in a golden light.

“This way,” Harry told her, approaching the steps. “Remember, from this point you must be totally ruthless. Any hesitation could get you killed, so take down any of these monsters that you see instantly. Make sure you stay close to me, too.”

“No problem,” she confirmed, hurrying over. She had absolutely no desire to find herself alone in this place.

“Let’s go,” Harry said, holding his wand out in front of him as he started to make his way down the steps.

Ginny followed and soon found herself in a very narrow, circular stairway. Only a few widely-separated torches were hung from the walls, meaning the steep passageway was extremely dark. She concentrated intently on every step she took, fearing she would slip on the damp, grey stone.

After what felt like a ridiculous amount of time, the steps finally ended and led into a wide hall which featured a dark, polished wood floor with an intricate set of supporting beams arranged above them. A number of tapestries hung from the walls, but it was too dark to make out what they depicted. A few candelabras dotted about the place provided the only light.

Harry had taken a few hesitant steps into the hall when the first attack came. All Ginny saw was a blurring of the shadows in front of them before a body lunged at Harry with inhuman speed. Clearly, Harry had been expecting this and a Blood Boiling Hex left his wand before Ginny had time to blink. There was an animalistic cry, and the body fell to the ground, writhing.

A second figure sprung from the shadows, but Ginny was ready for it this time. She cast her own Blood Boiling Hex and hit the indistinct blur square in the chest. It too screamed and fell to its knees, giving Ginny her first good look at the creature. It appeared surprisingly normal, apart from the fact its skin appeared to be pulled too tight over its face. In the weak candlelight, she clearly saw two large fangs protruding from its mouth.

By this point, Harry had drawn his sword and with a vicious sweep of the blade he struck the head from his opponent. Rather less gracefully, Ginny fumbled with her own sword, struggling to free it from its scabbard. Fortunately, Harry had already strode forward and, gripping his sword in both hands, swung it at the second vampire. There was an unsettling thump as its head bounced on the wooden floor and rolled away into the shadows.

“Good work,” Harry said with a fierce satisfaction in his voice. “That’s two of the monsters dealt with. Best if you keep your sword drawn from this point, Ginny. Carry it in your offhand and your wand in your right. You can easily switch hands as needed that way.”

“Yeah, I had trouble getting it out of its scabbard,” she admitted. “Do you think this pair just happened to be in this room, or do they know we’re here?”

“Who knows? I doubt there would have only been two of them if they knew we were here for certain. I suspect they know someone has entered the castle, but don’t know our exact location, for sure.”

“I wonder how,” she pondered.

“No time to speculate,” he admonished her. “Keep close behind me, and watch the shadows.”

From the hall, they entered a long corridor which featured doors set into the walls at irregular intervals. Not wanting to leave any potential enemies to their rear, they entered each room as they came to them, and twice found them occupied by sleeping vampires. They dispatched both of the creatures before they could awaken, and Ginny was a little surprised to find she had no hesitation in doing so. One of the vampires had been a beautiful woman with blond hair, but to Ginny’s eyes she’d just looked wrong, like she just wasn’t quite human, which obviously was the case. Either way, the woman died without ever opening her eyes.

As they left the second room, another pair of vampires charged them from down the far end of the corridor. While one of the beasts fell to Harry’s Blood Boiling Hex easily, the second seemed to shrug it off. It took two more curses for the vampire to finally succumb and allow them to kill it.

“He was obviously an elder vampire,” Harry explained knowledgably. “They have greater resistance to our spells. Hopefully, there won’t be too many of those bastards about.”

“Their attacks don’t seem very coordinated,” Ginny noted. “If they tried rushing us all at once, they might actually get somewhere.”

“Although they live together, I don’t think there’s a great deal of trust or respect between these creatures. They tend to group together for protection more than anything. Individual vampires can be hunted down fairly easily, even by Muggles.”

“It’s not doing them much good at the moment, is it?” Ginny noted grimly.

“Although I do say it myself, we do make a pretty formidable pairing, Ginny. I doubt this castle has ever been attacked by anyone as powerful as the two of us before,” Harry explained.

Ginny said nothing, but a slight smile of triumph crept onto her lips. The idea that she and Harry were the mightiest foes these vampires had ever faced pleased her somehow. She’d come a long way in a very short time, she realised. Her days working in Fred and George’s shop seemed like another life now.

They continued to the end of the corridor which led to another staircase. They quickly descended and found themselves in what appeared to be an entrance hall. As soon as they stepped into it, they discovered that the vampires must have been thinking along the same lines as them, as eight of the monsters charged at them from various points at once.

“Close your eyes!” Harry yelled and Ginny instantly complied, knowing what he had in mind.

An instant later, a white flash penetrated her closed eyelids before slowly dying. She heard numerous shouts and screams, and opened her eyes to see the vampires all staggering around, clutching at their faces. Harry wasted no time and beheaded the nearest one, prompting Ginny to run forward with her own sword raised. Another vampire toppled to the ground, its head severed from its shoulders.

Before they had a chance to kill all the remaining vampires, a second wave charged at them from a side door. Harry took the first two down with Blood Boiling Curses, but had to tackle a third directly with his sword. For her part, Ginny was alarmed when the fourth vampire shrugged off two of her curses, and continued to close on her at a frightening pace.

“Eyes, Harry!” she bellowed before casting a False Dawn charm at point-blank range.

Staggering back, Ginny opened her eyes again and tried to blink away the spots that were clouding her vision. Not knowing where the vampire was or if her spell had disabled it, she swung her sword blindly and felt it bite flesh. Her vision cleared, and she saw that she’d hacked into the vampire’s arm. It screamed at her, its fangs bared and its one remaining good arm outstretched towards her. In a panic, she wrenched the sword free and this time aimed at the beast’s neck. She caught it, but failed to land a clean blow. The vampire screamed and a shower of blood sprayed from its neck and all over her. In terror, she swung again and again, this time managing to sever its head. As soon as it toppled to the ground, she staggered backwards in relief.

Looking around, she realised she couldn’t see Harry, although the cries and screams coming from the open door through which the vampires had come at them suggested he’d taken the fight outside. She was just about to follow him when suddenly a man stepped in front of her. She hadn’t even heard him approaching.

Ginny could only gasp at the sight of him. He was, by far, the most beautiful person she’d ever seen in her life. The mere sight of him took her breath away.

“Greetings,” his voice seemed to ooze in her mind, like dripping honey. “What a most beautiful young woman you are. I am captivated by your loveliness.”

With her heart pounding, Ginny could only nod stupidly at the man. He thought she was beautiful? This god amongst men? At that moment, Ginny knew she wanted nothing more in the entire world than to be with this person.

“Come, my dear. This is no place for such an enchanting creature as yourself. Let us go somewhere more private.”

He held his hand out to her, and she took it willingly, her wand and sword clattering on the floor unheeded. She let herself be led away from the carnage of the entrance hall and down a side corridor. They continued walking for a short time, before he took a left onto a landing and eventually stopped in front of a closed door. He opened it, and gestured for her to enter.

She stepped through the door, and was thrilled to see that she’d been guided into a bedroom. Was he going to make her his? Ginny almost trembled with desire at the thought. The man followed her into the room and closed the door behind him.

“You are so beautiful, but you wear such ugly clothes,” he said disapprovingly as he looked her up and down. “Why don’t you get rid of them?”

Ginny almost wrenched her arms out of their sockets as she began to tear off her clothing. Her battle robes were quickly discarded, and she hurriedly pulled off her boots. Next was her blouse and trousers, before her bra and knickers followed. Suddenly nervous, she stood before him, silently praying for a sign of his approval.

“Ah, what a luscious young woman you are. But I’m afraid you’ve been a very bad girl, you know. Many of my friends and allies are dead by your hand. Fear not, however, for you will help replace their numbers. You, my dear, will remain here at my side forever. What pleasures I will bestow on you, and what delights you will witness.”

Her legs nearly gave out when she heard those words. Her dearest wish was about to come true! She would be his forever. Her body began to tremble as he leant towards her, and her mouth was dry with anticipation. Never had she known such desire or sexual arousal in her life. Ginny ached for him, and she could smell her own excitement. A soft moan escaped her lips as his mouth came closer to her neck…

Something flashed in the candlelight and suddenly Ginny found herself drenched with a warm, red liquid. Gasping out loud, she wiped the sticky fluid from her eyes. In front of her, the man of her dreams was choking and clutching at his throat, from which blood liberally sprayed. Standing behind the man with a face like thunder was Harry, a red-stained knife in his hand.

“You blood sucking bastard!” he growled, grabbing the man and spinning him round, so he faced him.

Ginny blinked. Where a few moments before had been standing the most handsome man she had ever seen, now stood a slightly podgy, balding fellow, with his face contorted in pain. The vampire tried to hiss at Harry and bare his fangs, but instead it only came out as a gurgling sound.

“How dare you lay a finger on her!” Harry nearly screamed in rage.

Dumbly, Ginny could only stare at the pair, her body still shaking with the desire that had been consuming her. What had just happened?

“It’s time to die, monster!” Harry raged, and hefted his sword. Fear began to creep into the vampire’s eyes, and it staggered backwards, its throat still dripping blood. Harry didn’t pause and lunged forward with the sword raised. One swift swing and it was over, with the vampire’s head falling to the floor.

“Are you alright, Ginny?” Harry asked urgently, dropping his sword and taking her into his arms.

For a moment, she could only stand there, trying to process what had just happened. Then, suddenly, her mind cleared and she understood what fate had nearly befallen her.

“That was… that was…” she managed to gasp.

“Yes, that was Count Rugila. He was able to take over your mind completely, it seems. Actually, it was just as well he was distracted, as I doubt I would have stood much of a chance against him face to face. Could you feel his power? It was terrifying!”

Gently, Ginny pushed him away and stood perfectly still before him. She saw his eyes dip as he took in her naked form, but she didn’t care. She remained standing, completely bare and covered in the Count’s blood, her body still trembling with a mixture of sexual arousal and relief.

“Take me,” she demanded in wavering voice.

“I… what?” Harry exclaimed. “Ginny, we’re still in the middle of the castle! There could be vampires everywhere.”

“I… don’t… care!” she ground out. “Take me now. Right here. Right now. No more excuses, Harry, I need you inside me, now!”

Harry paused, but only for the briefest moment, before he began to pull at his own clothing. Ginny instantly started to help him, desperately trying to undo his trousers with trembling hands, as he ripped off his shirt. In what seemed like an eternity to Ginny, but must have only been a few seconds, he was as naked as she was.

Greedily, she drank in the sight of him. She was no longer bewitched, and she could differentiate between the raw, animalist lust that now filled her from the clinical, dreamlike desire she had felt under the vampire’s command. Harry apparently felt the same way, and was clearly ready for her.

Not wanting to waste another second, she launched herself at him, her lips greedily seeking his. He returned her passion, his cold hands roaming over her body and making her shiver with delight wherever they touched her. But this wasn’t enough… she wanted more.

Virtually dragging him, she backed them up until her bare bottom came into contact with a dressing table that was positioned against a wall. Half turning, with one sweep of her arm she knocked the assorted objects that were resting on it to the floor, before she jumped backwards on top of the table, pulling Harry forward so he stood between her legs.

“Now, you posh bastard, take me now!” she begged.

Harry didn’t hesitate, and roughly thrust himself into her. She let out a startled cry, but this was exactly what she wanted. This was not the time for tenderness and gentle caresses, her body was screaming to be satisfied and she had no desire to be kept waiting.

Her lover seemed to sense this, and didn’t hold back. His hips slammed into her at a frantic pace, and she screamed and moaned at his every thrust. Ginny buried her face into his shoulder, her fingernails dragging across his buttocks as they worked like pistons. Already, he was sweating despite the frigid air and panting like a dog in heat.

“Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t you bloody dare stop,” she growled with her face pressed to his flesh. She was shaking from head to toe and knew she was close to the edge. Just a little longer, she silently begged him.

“Ginny… I…” he gasped.

“I’m… nearly there… please,” she practically sobbed. With her head pressed against him, she could feel him set his jaw as he desperately tried to hold on a little longer. His pace, however, did not slack and she began to fear the dressing table would collapse under them.

Her orgasm hit her unexpectedly like a train, and she writhed against him, trying to take as much of him inside her as she could. He followed her seconds later, his body bucking against her like he was being subjected to a massive electric shock. Then he was still.

“Harry,” she moaned into his ear.

“You know, there could be a vampire standing right behind me at this very moment,” he murmured.

“I reckon we’ve given the bastard a bloody good show, then,” Ginny replied, giggling drunkenly.

“There’s no doubt about that,” he agreed, pulling away slightly so he could look into her eyes. Those green orbs seemed to be burning with passion, Ginny thought, and instinctively she pulled him into another kiss.

It was some time before they parted again, and Harry this time stepped back from her, an apologetic look on his face.

“Ginny, as much as I’d like to keep this up all day, we have to remember where we are. We need to get dressed and finish this.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she agreed reluctantly.

“I’m sure we can pick this up again when we get back to the hotel,” he said with a wicked grin on his face.

She smiled. Just for a moment, she had started to doubt whether this had been a good idea, but now she realised it had been inevitable. Ever since the moment he’d stepped out of the shadows back at the Ministry and humiliated Draco Malfoy, she had known that this would happen. Mind you, she hadn’t expected their first time to be in a vampire-infested castle in the Carpathian Mountains while she was covered in blood.

“Umm, do you know what happened to my sword and wand?” she asked, coming to her senses.

“I picked them up,” he assured her as he bent down to retrieve his clothing. “It’s just as well you dropped them where you did or I wouldn’t have known in what direction to look for you.”

“Thank you, Harry. I can’t believe how close I came to becoming one of the undead, myself.”

“No one could have stood up to that bastard. It’s just as well you distracted him by getting your kit off,” he noted with a smirk as he pulled his trousers on.

Ginny could only shake her head and smile. She’d come within a hair’s breadth of dying, but she had never felt more alive in her life.

“I don’t believe it!”

Harry’s sudden exclamation made her look up in surprise. She saw he was crouched over the body of the dead Count, an expression of wonder on his face.

“What is it, Harry?” she asked in concern.

Harry just reached down and pulled at something trapped under the dead vampire’s shirt. A moment later, he held up a golden object which dangled on a chain. Ginny instantly knew what it was.

“The Moon Hare! So the Count had it.”

“I’d hoped that it was just hidden in the castle, not that he had it on his person,” he confessed. “We’re incredibly lucky to get this.”

“So…” Ginny began in a seductive voice. “Does this mean we can now just Apparate back to the hotel and continue our interesting… conversation?”

Harry laughed.

“But of course, Miss Weasley. But can I suggest that you take a shower first? Vampire blood isn’t the greatest aphrodisiac that I can think of.”

Ginny blushed, having forgotten that she was still stained red.

“Perhaps you could help me wash it off?” she asked tentatively.

“It would be my pleasure,” he replied with an almost animalistic smile on his lips.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPH PHPHPHP

“So, Bill’s back with Fleur now, is he? Bet that makes you happy that she’s back on the scene, eh, Ronikins?” Fred said with a smirk.

“Shut it,” Ron snarled in reply.

“Oh, come on, little brother. Admit you were captivated by her beauty! A slave to her whims! A prisoner to her merest glance! Isn’t that right, Hermione?” George asked the bushy-haired witch sitting across the dinner table from him.

“If by that do you mean, ‘does my idiot boyfriend make a complete fool of himself whenever Fleur’s around’, then the answer is yes,” Hermione huffed.

“I do not,” Ron muttered, but only received a frosty glare from Hermione in return.

“I can’t believe Bill is throwing away his career by chasing after that girl,” Molly declared indignantly, stabbing at her roast beef rather violently.

“He’s not throwing away his career, he’s just taken a hiatus while he tries to sort things out with Fleur,” Ginny replied firmly. “Perhaps if we’d all been a bit more supportive of his choices he wouldn’t have needed to.”

“You’ve changed your tune, Gin-Gin,” Fred noted. “I thought you hated her.”

“I never said that, and just because I never liked sharing a room with her doesn’t mean I don’t think she isn’t good enough for Bill. You lot just put words into my mouth.”

“Never exactly tried to refute any of those words though, did you?” George pointed out. “So, what’s changed your mind? Why are you suddenly so supportive of the Parisian Princess?”

“She’s not from Paris,” Arthur pointed out mildly. “Pass the salt would you, Ginny dear.”

Ginny handed the condiment to her father before turning and regarding George with a hard stare. As usual, Sunday lunch with her family was degenerating into squabbling and micky-taking, although she would have to admit that it would seem strange if it didn’t. She had, she reflected, a very odd family. Still, for some reason today the childish behaviour of her brothers irritated her more than normal.

“Perhaps, George, I got to see first-hand how miserable Bill was after the breakup. None of you lot were exactly supportive of him while he was so upset, were you? You, George Weasley, could only sit there and make smug jokes about Fleur’s Veela ancestry and what she was likely to do now she had dumped him. Really supportive, bother-mine!” she spat.

“Ooh, watch out, George. Ginny’s on the warpath! If you’re not careful you’ll be picking bogies out of your hair for a week!” Fred cackled.

“You weren’t any better, Fred, so you’d better watch it, too!” Ginny snarled.

“Ginny, don’t threaten your brothers like that,” Molly rebuked her, admittedly with little heat. “But I have to say, George does have a point. Why are you suddenly so supportive of Bill and Fleur’s relationship? You’ve never had many nice things to say about her in the past.”

“Bill loves her,” Ginny said with a shrug. “I admit, she’s not what I would have chosen for him, but you can’t pick who you fall in love with, can you?”

“Really? Something you want to tell us, Ginny?” Hermione asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I would have thought you were the prime example of that, Hermione. After all, you fell in love with my idiot brother there,” Ginny replied in a threatening voice.

“What is this? Pick on Ron day?” Ron demanded indignantly.

“It’s always pick on Ron day!” Fred crowed in delight.

“I’m sure Hermione didn’t mean anything by her words,” George said mildly with an innocent expression on his face. “By the way, how is the Dark Lord Potter at the moment, Ginny?”

Ginny slammed her knife down on the table. “He’s not a Dark anything, and if you keep that crap up you will bloody end up getting hexed!”

“Easy, Ginny. George is just joking with you,” her father said gently.

“Bit defensive of your boss, aren’t you?” Fred noted. “Do you always leap to his defence like that?”

“Harry’s a good man, and I’m sick of hearing all this rubbish about him. People should remember that it was him who defeated Voldemort and realise that just because he doesn’t want to talk about how he did it, it doesn’t mean he used Dark magic to do it. Instead of being grateful, they just treat him with suspicion and make up lies about him. I’m sick of it!”

There was an uneasy silence around the table, partly due to Ginny’s use of the Dark Lord’s name which was still considered something of a social taboo, and partly to her passionate defence of her employer. Eventually, it was Hermione that broke the silence.

“So, do you know where you two are off to next?” she asked blandly.

“No, not yet. I’ll probably know tomorrow,” Ginny replied, forcing herself to calm down. She knew she was causing a scene, but really couldn’t help it.

“You went somewhere in Europe last time, didn’t you?” Hermione asked.

“You know I can’t talk about it,” Ginny replied dismissively, and resumed eating.

“I’m still not comfortable with you roaming about the world with that young man,” her mother said. “You won’t tell us what you get up to and just vanish for days on end with no word. I worry about you, you know, Ginny.”

“Whatever she gets up to, it’s good for her,” George interrupted.

“What?” Ginny exclaimed in surprise.

“It’s true,” George insisted, ignoring the rather disapproving look his mother was giving him. “Ginny’s got her old fire back. All that time she was stuck in our shop she seemed to be folding in on herself and was becoming more apathetic every day. Now, she’s got her old spirit and spark back. I haven’t heard her threaten me like that since she left Hogwarts, and I’ve missed it. Nah, I’ve no idea what this Potter bloke is actually like, but he’s perked Ginny up no end, and for that I’m grateful to him.”

“Actually, that’s true,” Fred admitted. “You did seem to be just wasting away there for a while. It’s good to see you back to your normal, feisty self.”

“Yeah, well, I’m doing a really interesting job and actually have some responsibility now,” Ginny said, suddenly feeling a bit embarrassed.

“What do you mean? We gave you responsibility,” George protested. “How many times did we leave you in charge of the whole shop?”

“That was only when you wanted to spend Friday afternoon in the pub,” Ginny pointed out coolly.

“Yeah, and we can’t do that anymore, thanks to you! Do you know, The Leaky Caldron might well go bankrupt without our custom!” Fred declared in a tragic voice.

Much derision met Fred’s words, and Ginny smiled to herself. Despite what George had said, she was not ‘her old self’. No, she was in fact more than that now, thanks to Harry. She had dramatically changed as a person and no matter what happened in the future, she knew she would never go back to being that person who was happy to just let life pass her by. She was pleased, however, that her brothers had at least noticed the changes in her and liked what they saw.

Of course, whether that would say the same thing if they knew Harry had become her lover was another matter.

With a contented smile on her lips, Ginny resumed eating her Sunday dinner.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPH P

Ginny hurried over to where Harry was gasping for breath on his hands and knees. She was pleased that the raw magic of the Detection Ritual was having much less effect on her than it had previously, even if a half-naked Harry still drove her wild. However, the revelation of where the final piece of the Moon Hare was located was enough to distract her from admiring her lover.

“Damn, I’m glad I don’t have to do that again,” Harry muttered as Ginny helped him to his feet. Perhaps noticing her silence, he looked at her quizzically. “I don’t have to do that again, do I?”

“No, you stated the location quite plainly,” she confirmed.

“Well?” he asked, taking a towel from her hands and beginning to rub himself down.

“The name you gave was ‘Draco Malfoy’ and the location was ‘Malfoy Manor’.”

“Really?” he said in evident surprise. “How did that little turd manage to get his hands on a piece of the Moon Hare? Actually, I wonder why he did, too. I doubt he would have known its significance or even what it actually is. The last piece is just the hare’s front paw. I’m sure an oaf like him wouldn’t have even realised it was part of an animal.”

“How are we going to do this, Harry? Draco is no threat compared to what we’ve faced so far, but he does have political influence and I expect his home is very well protected. You’re not going to offer to buy it from him, are you?”

“Good grief, no! I wouldn’t give that foul little shit the dirt off the bottom of my shoes. I still remember all the dirty tricks that family pulled trying to overturn my Godfather’s will, although I must admit that was mainly Lucius and Narcissa’s doing. Draco just sat behind his father in the courtroom and sneered at me. I agree this will take a little bit of planning, but I fully intend to obtain the last piece of the Moon Hare by any means, fair or foul. I fear Malfoy Manor is going to suffer an unfortunate break-in during the near future.”

“I still owe that bastard for what he tried to do to me previously,” Ginny spat. “Trust me, I’m well up for a bit of burglary at Draco’s expense.”

“That’s the spirit,” Harry noted approvingly. “I have to do a bit of digging for information, but I think I know how to approach this.”

Ginny smiled evilly, glad she was going to get a little personal payback on Draco Malfoy.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPH P

The rain was pouring down and the night was pitch black. It was a perfect evening for a spot of breaking and entering, Ginny decided.

They had been crouched outside the perimeter of Malfoy Manor for a good ten minutes now, while Harry attempted to work his way through the protective magic that surrounded the place. Fortunately, the protections weren’t particularly extensive, partly as Draco conducted most of his business from home and as a result received frequent visitors, but also because the Ministry placed restrictions on exactly what magic ex-Death Eaters were permitted to use.

The thought of those restrictions and how they had been enforced made Ginny’s blood boil. Although Draco had never been convicted of any serious crimes and had claimed he’d been forced to take the Dark Mark by his deceased parents, he was still technically on the Ministry’s restricted list. As such, he was supposed to be under supervision and his property was meant to be inspected on a regular basis. Harry had done some digging into Draco’s records and discovered Malfoy Manor had been inspected only once since the end of the war, and no other restrictions of any kind had been placed on the blond ex-Death Eater. In short, Draco had paid off enough people to ensure he had complete freedom of action. The thought that Draco had been able to just simply return to his privileged, pampered life made Ginny furious.

“Do you think you’ll be much longer?” Ginny whispered harshly. “It’s miserable out here and the Waterproofing Charms on my clothes only do so much, you know.”

“Patience, my flame-haired angel,” Harry replied with amusement in his voice. “I’m already through the actual protective magic, but there are extensive alarms also in place. I don’t want to announce our arrival.”

“Fair enough,” she acknowledged sourly.

Peering over the fence that marked the Manor’s rear boundary, Ginny kept a careful watch on the large house. They’d timed their visit so Draco and his wife weren’t home; Astoria was a guest speaker at a conference for Business Witches in Berlin and her husband was apparently accompanying her. There were likely to be at least three house-elves in residence, however, and they wanted to avoid alerting them. Winky had asked around, and apparently the Malfoy elves weren’t well treated or happy in their position. They would undoubtedly defend the house, however, and Ginny hoped she didn’t have to Stun the poor creatures.

Malfoy Manor itself was barely visible in the darkness, despite being only a few hundred yards away. In the dim light, the place’s classical stylings gave it an especially gothic look. It was like they were going to break into an old, haunted house, she mused. Assuming Harry ever disabled the alarms, of course.

“Got it,” Harry announced, as if he’d been reading her thoughts.

“Took you long enough,” she sniffed.

“Forgive me, Miss Weasley, I know how rude it is to keep a woman waiting,” he replied with an elaborate bow. “Sadly, I’m not half the curse-breaker your brother is.”

Smiling, Ginny leant forward and placed a soft kiss on his lips.

“I’ll let you off this once,” she told him, “but I will be expecting you to run me a hot bath when we get back. I’m frozen to the bone.”

“I sometimes wonder who is exactly employing who, you know,” Harry noted sourly, but she could see the amusement in his eyes. “Come on, the faster we do this, the faster I can get on with washing your back.”

Ginny nearly made a comment about preferring him to wash her front, but he’d already vanished through the hole in the fence that they’d created. She followed on, intent on getting on with the job.

They crossed the immaculate lawn and onto a paved patio area laid in front of a set of French windows. Harry pulled out his wand and waved it in front of the glass doors several times, frowning as he did so.

“No magical defences,” he said quietly. “Perhaps Malfoy’s so arrogant that he doesn’t think anyone would dare to try and break in.”

“Sounds like him,” Ginny agreed in a whisper. “It is locked though, right?”

“Yes, and I think a bit of Muggle-style lock picking is required. It’s probably a good idea to minimise our magical usage from this point. Such things can be detected, you know.”

Harry knelt in front of the doors and began to poke at the lock with a small tool he’d produced from a pouch fixed to his belt. After just a few seconds, there was an audible click and he was able to push the door open.

“No noise from this point,” he whispered to her, before stepping carefully into the darkened room. From his pouch he retrieved the now-familiar compass and brought it to his eye. After pointing it in several different directions, he looked back at Ginny and pointed to a door. During his investigations, Harry had uncovered a floor plan of the Manor left over from the war, and Ginny remembered that the door should lead to the main entrance hall, and from there they could enter the dining room, their first target of the evening.

Harry carefully opened the door a fraction and peeked out. The coast was obviously clear, as he opened the door wide and silently slipped from the room. Ginny followed, her ears straining for the slightest noise, but the creepy old building was still.

They passed through the entrance hall and into the dining room, where they knew a secret entrance to a cellar where the Malfoys had previously hidden illegal items and goods was located. Ginny briefly wondered how Harry had managed to get his hands on the restricted Auror arrest reports dating from before the war, but knew better than to ask. Harry, after all, seemed to have connections everywhere.

It didn’t take them long to discover the dark passageway that led to a set of steep stairs. They descended down them rapidly, and they soon found themselves in a long, dark cellar. Various boxes and crates were lined up against the walls, but otherwise the room appeared empty. Harry withdrew his trusty magical compass and began to scan the area.

“I don’t think the piece of the Moon Hare is down here,” he whispered after a while, “but I am detecting some strange magical signatures. I think there are some other hidden rooms down here.”

“If Malfoy is hiding something, it’s probably worth finding out what it is,” Ginny pointed out. “Can you find these rooms?”

Harry said nothing, but instead gave his wand a sharp downward swipe. A moment later, the silhouette of a door appeared on a nearby wall, outlined by a glowing light.

“Well, aren’t you a clever boy,” Ginny said with a cheeky grin on her face.

“I’m glad I’m appreciated,” Harry replied. “Shall we have a look and see what Mr Malfoy is so keen to hide from prying eyes?”

It was the work of but a moment to get the secret door open, but as they stepped through into the hidden room, the smiles slid from their faces.

“Harry… is all this what I think it is?” Ginny asked in a quiet voice.

“Yes, unfortunately it is. We appear to have a fully kitted-out torture chamber.”

Ginny looked around in horror. Although she couldn’t put a name to many of the devices in the room, their function appeared horribly obvious. Beside a large, oblong wooden object that she recognised as a rack, in the corner stood a man-sized metal cabinet that could only be an iron maiden. The gruesome representation of a screaming human face carved into it sent shivers down her spine.

“Look at this,” Harry said, pointing to a spiked object mounted on four legs. “That’s a Judas cradle. The victim is sat on it with the point inserted into one of their orifices. Downward pressure is then applied to them, effectively impaling them.”

“Is this some kind of museum of torture?” Ginny demanded to know in a sick voice.

“Possibly, but it appears to be a working museum. There’s fresh blood on the Judas cradle,” he pointed out.

Ginny went cold.

“Look at all these disgusting objects,” Harry continued, prowling around the room with a look of revulsion on his face. “Thumb screws, a breaking wheel… sweet Merlin! Is that a heretic’s fork? Where did Draco get all these things? And why is he so interested in Muggle torture devices?”

“Perhaps they belonging to his father?” Ginny suggested weakly.

“Some of these have been used recently,” Harry retorted, holding up a metal rod for closer inspection. Ginny had no desire to learn the exact function of the object. As much as she hated the Malfoy family, and Draco in particular, she was struggling to believe the foppish idiot would be so deviant and twisted as to actually use any of these things.

“Perhaps they were just…” she began, before something made her stop. “Harry, can you hear something?”

Harry paused to listen. After a few seconds, he pulled out his wand and again cast whatever detection spell he’d used in the main cellar. Almost immediately, another hidden door was revealed at the back of the room. Harry hurried over to it and forced it open. Almost against her will, Ginny followed on behind.

She emerged into an almost pitch black space, with only the light from the torture chamber providing any illumination. This was sufficient, however, to reveal that the hidden room had an occupant.

“Back up, Ginny, and let me get her into the other room,” Harry barked, causing Ginny to scuttle backwards. She gasped in horror as Harry levitated a young girl out of the dark space and lay her gently on the floor.

“Oh, good Godric, what’s happened to her?” Ginny exclaimed.

“She’s been tortured, what do you think has happened to her?” Harry snapped.

Ginny bit her lip. It had been a pretty stupid question, but the girl’s condition had just scrambled her brain, for a moment. The poor young woman was naked and her entire body was covered in vicious cuts and angry welts, suggesting that she’d been whipped within an inch of her life. Congealed blood covered her face and many other parts of her body, and her fingers appeared hideously deformed. The thought of the thumbscrew sitting on a shelf nearby came vividly into Ginny’s mind.

“Can you help her?” Ginny demanded in a cold voice.

“I… I don’t think so,” Harry replied as he waved his wand over the girl’s shivering body. “Frankly, I’m amazed she’s still alive. In addition to her visible wounds, she has numerous internal injuries and is completely dehydrated. Even if we get her to St Mungo’s immediately I don’t think there’s much chance to save her.”

Desperately, Ginny knelt next to the trembling girl. She wanted to take her hand and offer the young woman some comfort, but Ginny was afraid of causing her more pain.

Amazingly, the girl seemed to notice Ginny’s proximity and turned her head towards her. For a brief second, Ginny was certain she saw understanding in the girl’s previously unseeing eyes, but then a strange rattling noise began to come from her throat. Frantically, Harry began to cast spells on the young woman, but it was too late. Her body gave one final twitch, and was still.

“She’s gone,” Harry confirmed after a second. “It’s almost like she wanted to see light just one more time before she died.”

“How long do you think she was in there?”

“I’ve no idea, but judging by how pale she is, some considerable time.”

“Do you have any idea who she might have been and why she’s here?” Ginny asked, barley able to hold it together.

“All I can tell you is that she’s a Muggle,” Harry responded. “I discovered that when I performed the healing scan on her. Knowing how much Draco and his family hate Muggles, can I can guess at why she’s here.”

“Harry, Draco is a horrid, horrid person, but never in a million years would I have believed he would be capable of something like this! He’s a cringing coward at heart, and he’s never had the stomach for anything too gruesome.”

“People change as they get older,” Harry pointed out. “Look at his linage, and what his family were capable of. He might well have been meek when he was younger, but it appears he’s become more like his father and aunt as he’s gotten older. I expect that he’s worked his way up to this level of atrocities over the years. He’s a natural bully, and left unsupervised he’s probably slowly become worse and worse as time has gone by. Besides, you know his views on Muggles. He probably didn’t even consider this poor girl as even being human.”

“What do we do now?” Ginny demanded grimly.

“Clearly, we cannot let this matter pass without taking action. It’s just a shame that Draco is in Berlin at the moment. I think we should investigate the rest of the house before we decide exactly what to do. Who knows what else we might find?”

“Okay, that sounds like a good idea,” she confirmed, feeling strangely dead inside. The thought that a person could do this to another human being, seemingly for just the pleasure of it, was unbelievable.

Gripping her wand tightly in her hand as she turned to leave that accursed room, with tears in her eyes and an aching for vengeance in her heart.

















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