|SIYE Time:14:35 on 19th March 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Sequel to Darkness Within. This story begins the night before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. Canon couples accurate to JKR. The romance between Harry and Ginny will develop slowly due to their ages. Please note rating and warnings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 18253; Chapter Total: 439
Awards: View Trophy Room
Tremendous thanks to my beta, Arnel, and to everyone who is reading and reviewing!
Curfew and Compromise
Ginny sighed and turned to smile at Harry as the Hogwarts Express pulled into Hogsmeade station. The train ride had begun with a delightfully private few minutes of snogging between the two while Neville and Anna went in search of Luna. Some rather awkward conversations had punctuated the remainder of the trip.
“Hello, Ginny. Your lips are rather swollen.” The blonde tilted her head to one side as she made the observation. “Hi, Harry. I suppose you must be a very good kisser.”
Ginny stifled a laugh. Beside her Harry was suddenly looking at his hands with a great deal of concentration as his face slowly turned red. “He is actually.” She gave her friend a hug. “Maybe we should talk about it later,” Ginny suggested quietly.
Luna nodded and sat on the seat across from them. “I suppose that would be best. To talk without the boys, I mean. I’m curious about your experience of having a boyfriend and about Anna’s experience of being betrothed to your older brother. I imagine she can contribute quite a bit to the conversation as well.” She paused to peer briefly at each girl, her silvery eyes large and expressive. “You’ll both probably talk more freely if it’s just us girls. Although I’d be interested in hearing the boys’ perspective on certain intimate activities as well. Perhaps Harry and Charlie would be willing to discuss their thoughts with me sometime.”
Harry’s head snapped up as his eyes widened comically. His mouth opened and closed a few times as though he was trying to speak. An incoherent sputtering was the only sound which emerged from his lips. Neville started chuckling quietly.
“Perhaps not,” Luna admitted. “It seems a shame, though, that we can’t simply talk openly and honestly about sexual matters.”
Ginny lost the battle to contain her mirth and was giggling into Harry’s shoulder when Anna asked Luna about her summer holiday. She launched into an animated description of her travels with her father, during which they had searched for evidence of yet another unknown magical creature.
“Care of Magical Creatures should be interesting this year with your brother teaching us,” Luna continued. “Hagrid is quite brilliant with the animals at Hogwarts and in the Forbidden Forest, but he has never shown much interest in the Crumple-Horned Snorkack or Heliopaths. Has Charlie ever mentioned them to you?”
“Umm, not that I can recall,” Ginny answered.
“Well, I’ll be sure to ask him his thoughts on Heliopaths at our first lesson. They’re spirits of fire, you know, so he’s bound to know something about them,” Luna enthused. “And, it’s probably more appropriate to ask him about magical creatures than about his erotic feelings towards Anna.”
Ginny nodded. “Heliopaths sounds like a much safer topic of discussion.”
Ernie Macmillan stopped by the compartment a few minutes later. After the usual polite greetings, he focused his attention on Anna. “I know my mother sent a formal letter of congratulations a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to offer my own personal congratulations on your recent betrothal.”
“Thank you, Ernie,” Anna said.
“Your ring is lovely,” he continued reaching out to hold her hand briefly while he admired it. “Have you settled on a wedding date yet?”
“Not specifically,” she replied. “Though I imagine it will be summer after next. Do you remember Fleur Delacour?”
He raised an eyebrow. “The Triwizard Champion for Beauxbatons?”
“Yes. She’s marrying Charlie’s older brother, Bill, next summer, so Fleur has been sharing many of her wedding plans with me and encouraging me to make a few decisions.”
Ernie smirked. “Well, I’m sure that’s been pleasant.”
“Fabric swatches, color schemes, possibilities for floral arrangements, and an hour-long discussion on the color of parchment for the invitations.” Ginny rolled her eyes. “I still don’t know how you survived that discussion.”
“Weren’t you sitting through it as well?” Harry asked.
Ginny grinned at her boyfriend. “I had a pair of Extendable Ears in my pocket. Much more interesting listening to you gentlemen in the library than hearing Fleur and Mum discuss whether ivory, ecru, or cream would be best for the invitations.”
“You heard the entire conversation?” Neville inquired, though his tone did not actually make it sound like a question.
Ginny face broke into a Cheshire grin. “And I already relayed every word of it to Anna.”
Ernie glanced around the compartment. “Well, I’m guessing there’s an amusing story, though probably private, so I should be going back to my own compartment.”
“Thank you for stopping by, Ernie,” Anna smiled sincerely as he stood up. “I really do appreciate it.”
He took her hand once more. “I hope you will be very happy.” Ernie nodded politely to everyone before leaving.
“It was well done of him,” Neville commented.
“I hadn’t really thought he was seriously interested,” Ginny murmured. “No offense or anything, Anna, but last spring it kind of seemed like he was just going through the motions of trying to court you. Now, I’m not so sure.”
Anna nodded and pressed her fingertips to her forehead. “Neither am I.”
Charlie tried to focus on the Sorting in the Great Hall as Hagrid settled into the chair beside him. Sitting at the High Table for the Start-of-Term Feast felt surreal. Part of him longed to be at the Gryffindor table and his eyes continually strayed in that direction. He dutifully stood and nodded towards the students when the Headmaster introduced him as the new Care of Magical Creatures teacher. He wondered what had possessed him to agree to this instead of taking Anna back to Romania.
Forcing himself to participate in the conversations of the teachers beside him, he smiled good-naturedly when Pomona Sprout warned him that she suspected a few of her Hufflepuff girls would suddenly show an interest in N.E.W.T. level Care of Magical Creatures.
“Perhaps you could mention that I’m taken,” Charlie suggested.
“I may.” Pomona winked. “Not that it would make much difference. The older girls don’t have the chance to ogle over a teacher very often. Lockhart and Lupin received a fair amount of attention during their time, of course, but the past two years…well, Severus was the only young professor here, and his personality doesn’t exactly invite appreciation.”
Charlie glanced towards the Gryffindor table where his betrothed sat between Neville and Ginny. Anna seemed vaguely uncomfortable, and he wanted to know why. When the Feast finally ended, he made his way carefully around the throng of students and up to his quarters. Standing in the doorway, he had a perfect view of the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. Anna slipped away from the group of chattering students making their way through the open portrait hole and walked into his arms. He turned quickly, lifting her off her feet as he pulled her into the room and closed the door behind them.
“I missed you.” He pressed his lips against hers eagerly -- feeling her softness; tasting her warmth. She responded with equal enthusiasm, her mouth opening to his silent request as she toyed with the hair at the back of his neck. He held her securely in his arms, slanting his mouth over hers hungrily. When the kiss finally ended, they were sitting on the couch before the fire.
“Charlie,” Anna said. “Why didn’t you ask me to go with you to retrieve your belongings?”
He stroked her neck gently with his thumb. “Well, it was a fast trip. I was only gone two days, and you wouldn’t have been able to ride the Hogwarts Express. I only made it to the castle a few hours ago.”
She nodded. “Did you Apparate or take a Portkey?”
Charlie hesitated. “I Apparated. Is there a reason you are suddenly so interested in the details of my trip?”
“Did you go to Romania?” Anna gazed at him searchingly.
He exhaled slowly, wondering how he had slipped up. Everyone seemed to believe him when he mentioned the need for a quick trip to retrieve his belongings. No one had asked many questions at the time. Clearly, his betrothed had become suspicious at some point while he was gone.
“No,” he finally replied. “I didn’t go to the Reserve.”
“Were you in Finland?”
“ Did you find him?”
Her eyes widened. “Is he alive?”
Charlie cupped both her cheeks gently in his large hands. “Are you hoping I killed him?”
Anna’s shoulders lifted in the slightest of shrugs. “I truly don’t know.”
“An honest answer.” He claimed her lips briefly in a gentle caress. “I left him alive. I’m not entirely sure that I should have, but I did. Hopefully, the warning I gave him was enough. If he ever harms you again, I will kill him.”
She closed her eyes and leaned fully into him. He wrapped his hands securely around her back, holding her tightly to him.
“How did you know, Anna?” Charlie asked. “Why did you think I was in Finland instead of Romania?”
“I didn’t know with certainty, but I could feel the pull of our bond after you left. It seemed to be going northeast, not southeast as it should have been if you went to Romania.”
He gripped her upper arms and pushed her back slightly to look into her eyes. “That shouldn’t be possible. Bill and Fleur told us they can only feel the pull when they’re in the same building.”
“I know, and that’s why I wasn’t sure if what I was feeling was real or imagined. Then, I realized you never actually said you were going to Romania. You just said you needed to retrieve your belongings. I assume one of your friends from the Reserve met you in Finland and brought your things to you.”
“Did you mention your suspicions to anyone else?”
Anna shook her head. “Do I even want to know what happened?”
“Probably not,” Charlie admitted.
Her eyes fluttered closed as she sought his lips. She was soft and pliant, pressing herself against him with a quiet moan. He held her gently -- caressing her arms, her neck, and her back as he claimed her mouth. The feel of her warm body in his arms heightened his senses, making him feel more alert and alive. She met his every kiss, encouraged his tongue to touch her own. A growl escaped his lips as he lowered her down onto the cushions of the couch and shifted to lay on top of her. Her soft curves beneath him were entirely too tempting. Everything warm, safe, and perfect was under his taut form. He could easily imagine the clothing that separated them vanishing and longed to feel her skin against his own. She nipped his lip playfully while untucking his shirt from his trousers. Her fingertips danced over the skin of his lower back, sending a tantalizing tingle of raw need up his spine. Clenching his jaw, he broke the kiss and pushed himself up on his forearms, determined to regain his self-control.
“We need to stop,” he declared.
“I don’t want to stop.” Anna gazed up at him. Her eyes were bright, her pupils dilated.
He smirked. “It’s almost curfew. You need to get into the common room.”
“Or I could stay here with you.”
“Do you really want to break the rules your first night back at Hogwarts?”
“According to Ginny, we wouldn’t be breaking the rules.”
Charlie frowned and sat up. He pulled Anna gently into a sitting position on the couch. “What are you talking about?”
“Are you really not planning to tell me?” She asked, one eyebrow raising slowly. “Ginny had Extendable Ears at Grimmauld Place. She heard what you said in the library.”
He sighed audibly. “Sneaky little brat.”
“Says the man who lied about his trip to Finland.”
“I didn’t lie.” Charlie shifted uncomfortably. “I just didn’t volunteer the truth. Besides, we’re all entitled to a few secrets.”
Anna nodded. “Agreed. But curfew is not really an issue, and I don’t want to stop yet.” She leaned forward, brushing her lips gently over his.
He felt his resolve cracking at her touch. “Talk to me, love. How far do you want to go?”
She swallowed and suddenly looked nervous. “I’m not sure, but I want…I want to only think of you when they talk about sex, when they ask me questions.”
“Who is asking you questions?”
“Tonks, Ginny, Hermione, Fleur, Luna,” she whispered. “They don’t mean any harm. I think they mostly mean to be supportive, but…”
“But, what?” Charlie asked.
Anna closed her eyes. “Sometimes, when sex is mentioned, particularly when someone is asking about our relationship, about how far we’ve…progressed, I think of him. And I hate that!” She pressed her lips together hard. “Lavender and Parvati came into the compartment on the train after Ernie left and Lavender was asking about you. I know she thinks we’ve already made love because of the betrothal and the ring. She was hinting excitedly, wanting to know details, and I…I thought of him, of being trapped in that classroom, of his hands.” A tear rolled down her cheek and she swiped at it angrily. “I’m sorry. I’m being stupid!”
“No. You’re not.” He lifted her chin carefully. “You want to replace a negative memory with something positive, a memory of being hurt and scared with one of being loved. Logically, it makes a certain amount of sense. Practically, I’m not sure it will work the way you want it to.” Charlie exhaled slowly, collecting his thoughts. “Do you remember when we first met, just over two years ago, the day before the Quidditch World Cup?”
She nodded. “I remember.”
“I had a dream that night. It was a highly erotic dream about you that…well, it was inappropriate to say the least. Bill talked me down when I panicked. He’s always been rather good at that.” He smiled slightly. “Once I realized that it wasn’t just a dream -- that it was more -- I promised myself I wouldn’t attempt to seduce you until you were legally an adult. With everything that happened this summer, it hasn’t felt like an easy vow to keep, but I have.”
“I’ll be an adult in two months, Charlie. Isn’t that close enough?” Anna stroked his lower lip with her thumb. “If I’m the one seducing you, you won’t have broken your vow.”
He smirked at her. “I suggest a compromise.”
“Yes. My father has started giving Bill and me a few pointers on marriage, and compromise was definitely mentioned.” Charlie stood up and held out his hand to her. “Do you trust me?”
Charlie took her hand carefully and led her into his bedroom. With a couple of flicks of the wand, he lit a fire in the fireplace and a candle on the side table. Slowly raising her hand to his mouth, he kissed the inside of her wrist before undoing the button on the cuff of her blouse. He undid each button of her blouse carefully, giving her time to change her mind if she became uncomfortable. Her breath quickened as he eased the blouse off her shoulders, allowing it to fall to the floor beside the bed. He trailed his fingers down the smooth skin of her arms and lightly touched her stomach before unfastening her skirt and dropping the garment on top of her blouse.
“Sit on the bed,” he murmured, trying to keep his focus on her face instead of her creamy, smooth curves barely concealed by the pale blue lace and satin of her bra and knickers.
Anna moved back on the bed until her feet were just barely dangling off the end. He caught her ankles and rapidly removed her shoes and socks.
“Lay on your stomach.”
A puzzled look briefly crossed her face before she rolled over onto her stomach. Charlie smoothed her hair off to one side and bent down to leave a line of kisses on her neck and shoulder. He gently straightened her arms so they were beside her, palms up, fingertips towards her toes.
“You are beautiful,” he whispered, lightly trailing his fingers down her spine. “I’m unhooking your bra.” He laid the straps on the bed on either side of her, exposing her back completely.
Opening a drawer on the side table, Charlie pulled out a glass bottle. Pouring a small amount of the oil into the palm of his hand, he rubbed his hands together briefly before gently stroking her. The soft sigh made him smile as he slowly went to work massaging every inch of her back and shoulders. Every bit of tension in her frame eased under the steady pressure of his hands. Her breath slowed, and other than a slight moan occasionally, she was still and silent under his touch. He carefully observed her every small reaction -- noticing what she liked the most; what seemed to make her relax completely.
Eyeing the clock, he regretfully hooked her bra. “How do you feel?”
“Boneless,” she mumbled.
Charlie chuckled. “Good.” He gave her a light slap on the bottom. “Now sit up and I’ll help you dress. You have five minutes until curfew.”
She whimpered in protest, but rolled over and stood up, a smile lighting her face. “Perhaps next time I can give you a massage.”
“I’d like that.”
A few minutes later he pulled the door closed behind them and almost walked directly into Minerva McGonagall.
“Good evening, Charlie. Miss Henry.” Her stern gaze swept over them. “I was on my way to the common room to give this note to Miss Granger. Perhaps you could take it to her.”
Anna smiled politely. “Of course. Good night, Professor McGonagall. Good night, Charlie.”
“Sleep well, Anna,” he murmured kissing her hand before releasing it. He stood watching as she gave the password to the Fat Lady and climbed through the portrait hole.
“The Headmaster has made me aware of his decision to ignore breaches of curfew with regards to Miss Henry,” Minerva began stiffly. “It is not my place to question the wisdom of that, but I would caution you that her dorm mates may notice her absence if she is repeatedly late or absent altogether. One girl in particular is a rather silly gossip on occasion.”
Charlie nodded. “I appreciate the warning. Anna made curfew this evening, and I fully intend to make certain that is a regular occurrence.”
A small smile graced her features. “I know Molly and Arthur raised you to be an honorable young man, and I don’t mind admitting you were one of my favorite students. I hope you understand that I feel somewhat protective of Miss Henry. She is a student in my house, and…well, she’s had some difficulties.”
“I know.” He raked a hand through his hair. “We’re honestly both doing the best we can in a complicated situation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’ll go for a swim in the lake, since I was enough of a gentleman that a cold shower would be completely useless.”
Her lips pressed together in a thin line for a brief moment before her laughter escaped.
“Good night, Minerva.”
The Order Meeting was being held at The Burrow this evening. Molly was happy to host and prepare a large meal for those that remained for dinner when the meeting ended. Meeting locations randomly rotated between Grimmauld Place, Longbottom Manor, and The Burrow. Tonight’s meeting would be brief and included only those members who could attend at short notice. Molly reached out to touch the hand of each of her four sons who were in the Order as they arrived.
“How complete was the breakout this time?” Albus inquired.
“Every known Death Eater and sympathizer that was in Azkaban escaped, including those we captured in the Department of Mysteries just a few months ago,” Kingsley stated solemnly. His deep voice easily carried throughout the kitchen.
“We lost four Aurors,” Tonks added. “Minister Scrimgeour has given permission for more lethal force to be used when attempting to capture Death Eaters. He didn’t state it outright, but…”
She and Kingsley exchanged a glance before he spoke. “The message we all received was that capturing Death Eaters alive is no longer the priority.”
“About bloody fucking time,” Sirius growled.
“Killing is rarely the best option,” Albus observed quietly.
“In a better world, I’d agree with you.” Mad-Eye Moody frowned. “But, we keep capturing them alive, turn them over to Azkaban, they escape, and we have to do it all over again. They’re killing us just like they always have. They practically wiped out the first Order of the Phoenix, and it’s clear they intend to do the same this time around. The Auror force is dangerously low. We can’t keep doing what we did in the past. It’s a sure way to lose the war, and if we lose…well, I don’t have to tell you all what will happen to wizarding Britain. What will happen to Muggles and the Muggle-born.”
A brief silence followed as Moody’s words sank in. Molly couldn’t help but think of Dolohov. He had killed both of her brothers. He had seriously wounded Hermione. How many other lives had he destroyed? He had been captured and sent to Azkaban twice and escaped twice. Molly’s lips trembled as she admitted to herself that if she had the opportunity, she would not take him alive. Turning to her stove, she focused on finishing dinner and ignored the remainder of the meeting. Arthur’s hand on her shoulder some time later had her turning and inviting everyone to stay for dinner.
Many of the assembled members left, leaving about a dozen behind, including her four sons.
“Need a hand, Mum?” Charlie asked.
She nodded, handing him a large basket of dinner rolls. “How is everyone at Hogwarts?”
“They’re all doing well. Ginny, Harry, Hermione, and Anna are members of the Slug Club. No surprise there.” He smirked. “Harry, Ron, and Ginny may very well secure the Quidditch Cup for Gryffindor this year.” He glanced towards Augusta and raised his voice. “Pomona Sprout told me flat out that she intends to groom Neville to take over as Herbology professor in a few years. He’s the best student she’s ever had and the only one she trusts with her greenhouses.”
Augusta smiled proudly. “It would be an honorable career choice.”
“Yes, it would,” Remus agreed. “How are you and Anna…um…fairing?”
Charlie smiled. “We’re doing well. She’ll know where I am this evening.”
“Because you told her?” Bill asked.
Charlie shook his head. “She can sense where I am, the direction and the general distance. I can feel it, too.”
“How?” Fleur asked.
He shrugged. “I don’t know how to explain it. She noticed before I did, but we can feel the pull of the bond, feel it even from a vast distance.”
Bill and Fleur exchanged a look. Albus’s eyes widened as he stared off into space.
“So the bond is different for you and Anna than it is for Bill and Fleur,” Arthur said. “We’ve talked to Aunt Muriel. She remembers stories told to her as a girl about bonds like this in the Prewett family, but nothing was ever written down. She knows no details about the strength or power of such bonds.”
“Have you experienced anything else unusual?” Albus asked, looking from Charlie to Bill and Fleur.
“Nothing we haven’t already shared,” Bill replied. “For us, the change in power is the most obvious difference.” He turned to Charlie. “Have you noticed that at all?”
Charlie shrugged. “I haven’t yet, but I’ll talk to Anna. It may be more obvious to her than to me. Teaching is not exactly magically taxing.”
“Is there anything else we need to be doing?” Sirius asked.
“I hesitate to ask, but if any of you come across any information about Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem or Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, I would be very interested in examining those objects,” Albus said. “And I would caution you to not touch them.”
“We’ll see what we can learn,” Sirius promised.
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