|SIYE Time:3:16 on 24th February 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: 16617; Chapter Total: 289
Awards: View Trophy Room
Tremendous thanks to everyone who is taking the time to review! Special appreciation goes out to my beta, Arnel!
Ginny stretched and shifted about on her warm bed, blinking sleepily at the soft light filtering in through the curtains. The dorm room was blissfully quiet. Idly she wondered whether her fellow Gryffindor fifth years were still asleep or already making their way down to breakfast. A faint smile tugged at her lips as she recalled the very pleasant dream she had been having. Her best dreams always featured Harry and had for many years now. The content of those dreams had naturally shifted over time. Lately, she had awakened on more than one morning with a delicious tingling in her body. Sighing quietly, she abandoned the temptation to cling to the remnants of her nighttime wanderings and left the warmth of her bed to prepare for the day.
This would be the first Hogsmeade weekend of the school year and the first ever in which most of her friends were paired off. Even Ron had somehow managed to ask Hermione to accompany him into the village, though she was unsure whether it was an official date or not. There was no such uncertainty about her own date with Harry. They had both been looking forward to their first official date for weeks.
Peering into the mirror at her reflection once dressed, Ginny could not keep the smile off her face. She had chosen to wear her birthday gift from Bill and Fleur. Her brother had assured her while handing her the box that the gift had been selected by her future sister-in-law. While Ginny couldn’t truly claim to be friends with the French girl yet, she had to admit that Fleur had excellent taste. The skirt and matching sweater were periwinkle blue, a color that worked well with her fair skin and flaming tresses. The soft fabric hugged her body and accentuated her slim figure without being immodest. It was the kind of outfit that even her mother would approve of, but that somehow managed to make her feel slightly alluring. After pulling the brush through her hair one final time, she applied a thin layer of lip gloss and skipped down the steps to meet Harry for breakfast.
Her boyfriend was sitting in the common room, for once appearing as relaxed as a teenager should look on a Saturday morning. Harry was dressed in black jeans and a charcoal gray sweater. His dark hair was as messy as ever, though she didn’t doubt he had made some attempt to tame it. An issue of Quidditch Quarterly sat open on his lap, his fingers idly flipping through the pages. Ron was standing a bit awkwardly beside him and occasionally casting an anxious glance towards the girls’ staircase.
“Good morning, Harry!” She greeted him with a hug before turning to her brother. “Ron, would you like me to go check on Hermione?”
“Hmmm….” Her brother blinked as he shifted his attention. “No thanks, Ginny. I’m sure she’ll be down in a bit. It’s still early after all.” He nodded as if to reassure himself before again focusing on the stairs.
Ginny pressed her lips together to stifle a giggle. Whether her brother realized it or not, he was certainly acting like a young man anticipating a date with a girl who was more than just a friend.
“You look so beautiful.” Harry spoke softly in her ear as he pulled her into his arms. “Should we go on down to breakfast?”
She looked at him in surprise as Harry was not typically physically demonstrative in front of others, but quickly realized her brother was paying them no attention whatsoever and the common room was unusually empty.
Nodding to Harry, she touched her brother’s shoulder. “We’ll see you downstairs in a bit.”
“Yeah, sure,” he mumbled without taking his eyes off the stairs.
Ginny and Harry quickly made their way out of the portrait hole and down a few flights of stairs before he pulled her into a deserted corridor.
“Do you have any idea how much I want to kiss you right now?” His eyes searched hers intently, seeking permission.
“Then what are you waiting for?” She leaned towards him slowly -- never breaking eye contact.
“Gin.” Harry lowered his lips to hers. The kiss began gently - a lingering caress that evolved into an ardent snog leaving neither in any doubt of their mutual desire. Eventually, they broke away from one another breathing heavily. Harry smiled at her as he ran his fingers through his hair, trying to flatten the black mane.
“You do know it’s a lost cause, yeah?” Ginny grinned.
Harry chuckled as he grabbed her hand and led her quickly down the last couple flights of stairs.
By the time they finally reached the Great Hall, Ron and Hermione were already halfway through their breakfasts and many students were preparing to queue to leave the castle.
“What took you so long?” Ron asked. “You left before we did!”
“Oh…erm…we decided to explore a bit of the Trophy Room…to see the awards and such,” Harry explained.
“Really.” Hermione slanted her gaze towards Ginny and smirked. “Was it an interesting excursion?”
She nodded innocently. “Of course! A very educational experience!”
Ginny couldn’t quite suppress a giggle as she made eye contact with Anna from across the restaurant. Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop was as frilly and sickeningly pink as they had feared. Numerous young couples from Hogwarts sat at tiny little tables for two. Most were holding hands, exchanging chaste kisses, and staring rather stupidly into each other’s eyes. Ginny suspected Charlie must be uncomfortable being a professor surrounded by overly affectionate students in an environment so obviously contrived for romance. She had to give her brother credit for looking perfectly calm and comfortable in such a place. The only positive she could honestly say about Madam Puddifoot’s was that the tea and biscuits were perfectly tasty.
It still amused Ginny that even though their large circle of friends was divided into pairs, so many were currently at the tea shop. In a village as small as Hogsmeade, there really was no place for Hogwarts’ students to obtain privacy. Anna and Charlie were at a table in one corner, while Neville and Luna were in another corner. Seamus and Lavender were at a table by the window, and Dean was with Demelza at a table near the front door.
“Anna and Charlie just gave up,” Harry announced.
Ginny looked up in time to see them exit. “Well, what do you think? Tomes and Scrolls? I still need to find a gift for Anna’s birthday, and Sirius’s birthday is coming up soon as well.”
He nodded in obvious relief. “Sounds good to me!” Dropping some money on the table, he took Ginny’s hand as they left the shop. They had already been to Honeydukes, Spintwitches Sporting Needs, and Zonko’s Joke Shop. The bookstore seemed like a good place to spend a bit of time before they were to meet up with everyone at the Three Broomsticks Inn for a late lunch.
With the unusually mild weather and Harry’s hand clasped warmly in hers, Ginny enjoyed their brief walk to the bookshop. The village was full of talking and laughing students reveling in their first day of freedom from the castle since the school year began. Many who strolled the main street carried bags from one or more shops. The carefree atmosphere here offered an illusion of normalcy to the troubles currently facing the wizarding world. Only the presence of more professors than usual in the village, as well as a few Order members, testified to the need for a higher level of alertness.
Upon entering Tomes and Scrolls, Harry and Ginny separated to peruse the shelves for gifts. She soon found a rather advanced looking book on potion-making for Anna before noticing a display in the fiction section announcing the highly anticipated new release by Witch Weekly’s favorite young author, M. J. Wolfe. Ginny had never heard of the author, but picked up the book curiously and began flipping through it, reading a few lines of text at random before focusing intently on one page.
“Find anything good for Anna?” Harry asked.
Ginny snapped the book shut, her eyes wide as she glanced up at her boyfriend. “Yes,” she squeaked. “A newly released novel. Not practical, I know, but she might like it.”
Harry raised an eyebrow as he peered at the book in her hand. “Erm…any reason you’re blushing?”
She shrugged innocently as she held up the book, relieved that the front cover held a simple illustration of a manor house and that the title was innocuous. “I think it’s just a bit warm in here. Are you buying that for Sirius? Let’s head up to the counter and then we can walk on over to the Three Broomsticks.”
“Okay,” he said slowly, scrutinizing the display before reaching for one of the other copies on the table. She grabbed his wrist.
A knowing smirk lit his face. “Romance novel?”
Ginny nodded and desperately tried to quell any feelings of nervous guilt. Without another word, he led her up to the counter to pay for the books.
Ron and Hermione were sitting at a large table in the corner with Neville and Luna nursing butterbeers when Harry and Ginny arrived at the Three Broomsticks. Harry ordered two butterbeers for them, and they quickly joined their friends.
“Having a good time?” Ginny asked brightly.
“Oh, yes,” Luna replied with a fond look at Neville. “We visited most of the shops and bought a nice selection of sweets from Honeydukes.”
Anna and Charlie were the last to arrive. The couple had just sat down with a butterbeer for Anna and a Firewhisky for Charlie when Luna said, “Anna, your lips are as swollen as Ginny’s usually are when she’s been alone with Harry for a while.”
Anna bit her lip before lifting Charlie’s drink and taking a liberal swallow. Turning to him she said, “Perhaps you might like to order another drink, love.”
He chuckled and kissed her forehead before returning to the bar. Madam Rosmerta was talking with him in an easy, flirtatious manner that had Ginny feeling slightly uneasy on Anna’s behalf. Returning her attention to her friend, Anna offered her a wry smirk before draining the rest of the Firewhisky.
“He’s an attractive man.” She sighed softly. “I promise you, Ginny, I don’t feel threatened in the least.” Her expression was completely honest. Ginny couldn’t help but admire the relationship her brother and her best friend had developed in such a short period of time.
“I’m not doubting my brother,” Ginny whispered. “I know he loves you, but how can you be so calm when he is given so much temptation?”
Anna’s lips curved into a slight smile. “Do you trust Harry?”
Ginny nodded without even having to think about it.
“And I trust Charlie. He could sweep Madam Rosmerta up in an affectionate hug and kiss, and I would still trust him.” She took a sip of the butterbeer. “Don’t mistake me. I think she is an awful flirt and part of me wants to go up there and make it perfectly clear he is taken, but since he is regularly having to gently rebuff students who become a bit too friendly, I think he can handle himself.”
Charlie soon made his way back to the table with a double shot of whisky. As he sat down, he whispered something in Anna’s ear that caused her to giggle before he casually draped an arm across the back of her chair.
Sirius and Remus joined them shortly thereafter.
“Finally off duty?” Charlie inquired.
Remus nodded agreeably. “Many of the students are heading back towards the castle. It’s been a nice, quiet outing for everyone. Hagrid and Horace are still keeping an eye on things, of course.”
“Everyone having a good day?” Sirius asked.
Affirmative nods and responses were voiced among their group. “We visited Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop,” Harry volunteered.
Sirius chuckled. “A venue everyone must experience for themselves at least once.”
“Once was definitely enough for me,” Harry muttered before sitting up straighter and turning his attention back towards her. “Not that I wouldn’t be willing to return if you want to go there again, Ginny.”
She shook her head slightly and decided to put him out of his misery. “Once was certainly enough.”
“You’re allowed to say, ‘thank Merlin’ at this point, Harry,” Charlie quipped.
Anna swatted his chest lightly. “It was your idea that we go there!”
He leaned sideways to give her a soft kiss. “Every witch should be taken there once. If she wants to go back, good for her and good luck to her boyfriend. If she doesn’t, a man should count his blessings and never let go of the jewel he’s found.”
Laughter sounded around the table as the waitress came over to take their meal orders.
Sirius had just finished telling them about one of the pranks the Marauders pulled off during their Hogwarts years when Anna stood up.
“I need to make a quick stop at Gladrags Wizardwear before we return to the castle,” she said.
“Just give me a minute to pay the bill,” Charlie began.
She leaned over him, kissing his cheek. “Have another drink. I’ll only be a few minutes.”
“I haven’t been to Gladrags yet,” Hermione said. “I’ll come along if that’s okay.”
Anna nodded. “Of course.” She smiled at her dorm mate before turning back to the men. “We’ll be back soon.”
Luna and Neville decided to head back to Hogwarts, but Ginny quickly followed the witches out the door. The street was practically deserted, and she realized that most of their classmates must have already returned to school. Clouds were rolling in rather quickly and a brisk wind was chilling the late afternoon air.
Upon entering Gladrags, Anna walked directly up to the counter. “Good afternoon. Do you have an owl order ready for pick up for Miss Henry?”
The witch behind the counter smiled. “Oh, yes! It arrived just yesterday. I have it right here. Would you like to check your order before paying?”
“No, thank you,” Anna said quickly. “That won’t be necessary.”
“What did you order, Anna?” Ginny asked curiously.
“Just a few undergarments.” Anna was already digging through her handbag to pull out her coin purse.
“Oh, look!” Hermione exclaimed. “The sale rack has knickers two for one!”
“It’s one of our best sales of the year!” the shopkeeper announced.
“Why did you order ahead of time, Anna?” Hermione asked. “They have a rather good selection.”
Ginny wandered over to look through the sales rack.
“I wasn’t sure they’d have my size,” Anna explained.
“We do try to carry a decent selection of sizes, colors, and styles, but matching sets of lingerie in black and red lace is not something we generally carry except for the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day,” the shopkeeper said.
Hermione choked back a laugh. Ginny watched as Anna’s cheeks flushed pink. “How much do I owe you?” she inquired sharply of the overly informative witch.
The shopkeeper suddenly seemed to realize she had been less than discrete. “Twenty galleons, Miss Henry.”
Anna rapidly counted out the money and set it on the counter, glaring briefly at the shopkeeper as she collected her purchase.
Ginny was torn between sympathy and amusement. Unable to shake the absurdity of the situation, she said, “Perhaps we can temporarily ignore the fact that you’re with my brother and you can show us the red and black lace lingerie. I’m rather curious to see what twenty galleons worth of undergarments looks like.”
“I’m quite interested myself,” Hermione admitted as she approached the counter with several pairs of cotton knickers in her hand.
“Oh, alright,” Anna relented. “I’ll show you when we return to the dorm. I think I’ll just wait for you outside.”
Ginny followed her out of the shop while Hermione completed her purchase. She was turning to her friend, who was busy trying to stow her package into her handbag, when a brief flash of light caught her peripheral vision. A reflexive scream erupted from Ginny’s throat as she reached for her wand. Anna’s gasp was cut short as she was grabbed from behind by a large man with dark hair. He Disapparated them both away instantly with a loud pop. Ginny was caught by a burly arm wrapped painfully around her waist. Her wand was plucked easily from her grip as she was lifted off the ground. She kicked her feet ineffectually, struggling to catch her breath, before being overwhelmed by the sick tightening pull of being sucked through space.
Charlie lowered his glass slowly to the table and stood up - a disoriented expression appearing on his face. “Anna?”
Without another word he walked out the door of the Three Broomsticks Inn. Sirius exchanged a brief glance with Remus before throwing some money on the table and quickly following the other man out of the pub. Harry and Ron grabbed the shopping bags and hurried after them.
“What is it, Charlie?” Remus inquired.
He shook his head slightly as though trying to clear it and find his bearings. “Anna’s gone.”
Sirius grabbed his arm. “What do you mean ‘gone’?”
“She just…left,” he muttered. “Anna was…” Charlie turned in the direction of Gladrags Wizardwear and froze at the sight of Hermione running towards them, a panicked look on her face.
Sirius seized her by the shoulders. “What’s wrong?”
“They took Ginny and Anna,” Hermione panted. “It happened so fast!” She was trembling and looked on the verge of tears.
“Take a breath, love.” Sirius ordered firmly, giving her a slight shake. “We need you to calm down enough to tell us exactly what happened.”
She nodded and closed her eyes briefly. “Two wizards grabbed them. Anna and Ginny left the shop to wait outside while I finished my purchase. The men must have been close by.” She pressed the heel of her hand to her chest as she took another labored breath. “I saw a flash of light and heard a scream. I turned just in time to see one of them with his arms around Anna. He Disapparated with her. The other man picked up Ginny and they disappeared as well. It all happened so quickly! I didn’t even have time to reach the door.” A tear rolled down her face.
“Did you recognize them?” Harry queried. “Were they Death Eaters?”
Hermione blinked rapidly. “The one who took Anna — it was Dolohov. I’m sure of it! I saw him from the side when he turned.”
Ron reached out to touch her face. “What about the other one? Did you recognize him at all?”
“Any distinguishing features could help us identify him, Hermione,” Remus added.
Her eyes slid out of focus. “He was…huge. Short hair. I only saw him from the back.” She shrugged helplessly. “Honestly, there was nothing about him to remember except for his size. I mean not as big as Hagrid obviously, but still huge!”
“Rowle maybe,” Sirius muttered.
Remus nodded in accord. “We need to return to Hogwarts, alert the Order, come up with a plan.”
“I can feel her.” Charlie’s voice was low, but strong. His eyes were closed as he turned slowly. “She’s almost directly south.” Opening his eyes, his countenance was suddenly focused and determined. “I can feel Anna. Hopefully, she and Ginny are together. I’m going to start Apparating — jump a little closer each time until I reach them.”
“Hold on a minute,” Sirius demanded. “You can’t just go alone. There are at least two and possibly more.”
“Fine!” Charlie bit out. “I’ll take you with me, but I’m leaving. Now! We both know what those two could do to them. I’m not waiting to discuss options with the Order and waste hours coming up with a rescue plan.”
“Take me, too!” Harry demanded desperately. “I have to find Ginny!”
Charlie shook his head. “Sorry, Harry. Even if you weren’t a student, I couldn’t take you with me. I’m not brilliant at Apparition. Taking one person Side-Along will be hard enough.”
Remus grabbed his friend’s shoulder. “Sirius, you need to go with Harry, Ron, and Hermione back to Hogwarts. I’m going with Charlie —"
“Why you?” Sirius demanded.
“Because I don’t have the responsibility of guardianship over a minor!” Remus exhaled loudly. “Tell everyone what happened and have someone waiting at the front gates to let us in when we return with the girls. Make sure Madam Pomfrey is prepared.”
“Fucking hell!” Sirius growled, his eyes darting angrily between the two men. “Good luck.”
Charlie nodded grimly and held out his arm for Remus. The moment he grabbed hold, they disappeared with a soft crack.
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