|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: 16619; Chapter Total: 280
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thank you to everyone who has been reading and reviewing and to my beta, Arnel!
“Well done! Very well done indeed!” The sound of two palms coming together in a single loud smack caused Ginny to flinch. “I trust there were no difficulties, Antonin.”
“None at all, my lord. We simply waited for an opportune moment.”
“Had I been in command of the mission, we would have returned hours ago, my lord.”
“Yes, Bella, but you would have left a multitude of bodies in your wake. The Dark Lord ordered that no one be harmed. A measure of patience was required for this task. A mission leading us to an area filled with students, some of whom are the children of our brethren, is not the place to initiate a duel.”
An indulgent chuckle permeated the air around them. “Do not fret, my dear Bella. You will be leading a mission very soon that will call upon your unique talents of persuasion.”
“Yes, my lord.” The witch’s voice remained petulant.
“Thorfinn, I notice you brought an extra guest…”
The man holding Ginny relaxed his grip as he spoke. “Yes, my lord. She was with the other witch when Antonin grabbed her.”
“Well, you should have just ki…I mean, you certainly could have Stunned the girl!” Bellatrix snapped.
“My lord has specifically ordered that no more witches be tortured or killed in raids, and that no one at all be harmed on this particular mission. Bringing her along seemed like the best course of action.”
“I do believe the young lady is Miss Weasley, my lord,” Antonin added.
The sinister chortle sounded closer now. “Well, you have found an interesting prize, Thorfinn. I do believe it’s time to call dear Severus to join our little gathering.”
A pause in the conversation allowed Ginny to blink away the horror of her situation and to acknowledge the truth of it. She and Anna had been captured by Death Eaters and presented to Tom Riddle. As her vision traveled up from the grass beneath her shoes, she glimpsed two wands being handed over to the man of her nightmares. He stowed them in the pocket of his dark robes. Oddly, her first tangled thought as she focused her eyes and observed the wizard was that he looked nothing like the young Tom Riddle of her memories from the diary. This man was a pasty white creature - a bald, red-eyed, flat-nosed being. While her image of the young Tom was undoubtedly clouded by her hatred of what he had done and what he had made her do, the fact remained that he had, at least, been a person. The wizard standing before her now, eyeing her curiously, seemed more monster than man.
The soft pop of Apparition announced the arrival of another Death Eater.
“Ah, Severus,” Riddle intoned. “How good of you to join us!” He gestured with his hands. “I have guests as you can see.”
Ginny had never been so happy to see her Potions professor. Even as some rational part of her brain quickly reminded her that he was a spy and had a role to maintain, she was comforted by the presence of someone familiar.
“Indeed, my lord,” Professor Snape replied, glancing impassively between the two girls. “How may I be of service?”
Ginny focused on Anna now that she had seen her. Her friend was being held loosely in the grasp of her abductor. Ginny willed her to look up, to turn her way, to respond in some way to their circumstances, but Anna’s eyes were downcast, her body rigid.
“Can you confirm the identities of these two young witches, Severus?” Riddle inquired.
The Potions master walked calmly over to her. He took her chin carefully in one hand and lifted her face. His black eyes met hers. She desperately tried to perceive some message of reassurance from his dark orbs. “This is Ginevra Weasley, youngest child of Arthur and Molly Weasley. Fifth-year student of Gryffindor House.”
He let go of her and moved on to Anna, tipping her head up in the same manner. “This is Anna Henry, the ward of Augusta Longbottom. Sixth-year student of Gryffindor House.”
Riddle’s smile as he approached her made Ginny feel sick to her stomach. Malice seemed to radiate from his very being, contaminating the air around them. Though the wizard before her lacked the dark hair and handsome features of the Slytherin prefect she had been exposed to in the diary, the cruel intelligence of the man remained. She resisted the urge to cringe away from him and from the manipulations she feared were coming.
“I’ve been informed that you were the young lady who was gifted my diary. I wonder what memories my younger self chose to show you, Miss Weasley.” His cold fingers on her cheek were a distinctly unpleasant contrast from the ones of her Potions teacher. “Did I show you anything of that mindless oaf Hagrid?”
She shook her head slightly.
“No. Well, I’m certain I must have shown you how I opened the Chamber of Secrets.” His sinister tone betrayed his disturbing amusement.
Ginny could feel her body trembling uncontrollably as she kept her head still, refusing to nod, refusing to agree.
Riddle smirked perversely before bending closer to her and whispering in her ear. “Did I show you my time with the lovely young Katherine Longbottom. She was such an earnest Head Girl, so very eager to do her job well. I rather think she did, don’t you?”
He leaned back, still smirking for a moment before he changed the focus of his attention to Anna. Ginny felt the blood leaving her face, rushing down as her body swayed unsteadily. Strong arms tightened around her waist, refusing to allow her to pass out and fall to the ground. Forcing herself to take a slow breath, she raised one hand to cover her mouth as she turned to watch her friend.
“My dear Anna…” Riddle spoke with calm solemnity as he took her hand in his own. “I am so pleased to finally meet you.”
Anna raised her head slowly, meeting the gaze of their captor. Ginny’s eyes widened slightly at the dead calm of her friend’s eyes. Her face was so remote, so impassive that she looked like a porcelain doll instead of a living girl. Riddle stared at her silently for a long moment.
“Have you nothing to say, my dear Anna?”
He placed one hand on the side of her face, cupping her cheek, as he peered into her eyes for so long that Ginny felt the man behind her shifting slightly. The silent stillness of the moment was only interrupted by the sound of the wind blowing through the nearby trees. Eventually, Riddle let his hand fall. His eyes remained fixed on Anna’s face for a brief time, his expression unreadable.
“Perhaps your friend will be more informative than you are.”
Anna’s countenance remained vacant as Riddle again approached Ginny. He commanded her attention and stroked her cheek with one cold finger just as a sharp pain exploded through her head. She gasped at the intense pressure in her skull which seemed to pierce various areas with white-hot probing pain. Images of her past appeared and disappeared in a dizzying and haphazard blur.
Ginny saw her brothers teaching her how to swim in the pond…the Chamber of Secrets opening…her voice calling for the Basilisk…her mother cooking at The Burrow…one of the pyramids in Egypt…the Gryffindor Quidditch team flying a victory lap around the pitch…her father exclaiming over some Muggle artifact…the fight at the Department of Mysteries…Harry confessing about using the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix Lestrange…Anna talking about being attacked by Draco Malfoy.
The acute pain receded almost as quickly as it had begun, leaving Ginny with a throbbing headache and a hazy lack of awareness. She felt her body sagging forward as her legs buckled beneath her, but couldn’t summon the muscular control to remain upright. The grip of the man holding her tightened almost painfully, forcing the breath from her lungs, before he shifted his grasp and tilted her backward to lean against him. She stiffened at the increased contact, but was relieved to be able to take a deep breath again.
Riddle returned to Anna, hissing something to her that almost sounded like a question. She regarded him blankly until he made a strange movement with his wand which had her suddenly hissing in anger. Stowing his wand and raising his hands in a placating gesture, he continued to speak to her in the language of snakes.
Never had Parseltongue seemed at once more disturbing and more natural to her as she watched the heated exchange. The hands gripping her waist relaxed to the point she was barely being restrained. She suspected the man holding her was as caught up in the angry hisses of the conversation as she was. The wizard holding Anna, who Ginny now recognized as Antonin Dolohov, had released her entirely.
The anger seemed to leave Anna as quickly as it had come. She stood silently, her face unnaturally calm once more. Riddle made one more attempt to speak with her before turning to Bellatrix Lestrange. “My dear Bella, please invite Lucius to join us.”
The witch in question had been frozen in reverent awe at the sight before her, but quickly responded to the sound of her name and hastened to do her master’s bidding. A few moments later Lucius Malfoy appeared in the small clearing.
“Thank you, my dear Bella. You may wait for me at the Manor,” Riddle instructed.
Her face displayed obvious disappointment at being dismissed, but she bowed silently before Apparating away.
Lucius was an empty shell of the arrogant wizard who had long plagued Ginny’s nightmares. The wizard of her memory was a tall, strong, powerful man. He was a proud figure with a supercilious sneer on his face for all those he considered beneath him, and a courteous smile for those few he deemed worthy of his time and recognition. That was the man who had slipped her the diary ruining her first year as a student at Hogwarts, who had openly scoffed at and ridiculed her father on multiple occasions, who had taunted her friends and attacked them in the Department of Mysteries. This man standing before them now looked utterly defeated.
“My lord.” Malfoy bowed to Riddle.
“Lucius, I find myself somewhat troubled by something I have recently learned. I wonder if you are aware of the incident.” Riddle paused briefly before clasping the other man’s chin and peering deeply into his eyes.
Having so recently experienced the painful, probing pressure that she now recognized as a Legilimency attack, Ginny was not surprised when the wizard fell to his knees at the onslaught. The lengthy encounter ended suddenly with Riddle looking away in mild irritation. Clearly whatever information he hoped to learn he had failed to obtain from Malfoy.
“Severus.” Riddle turned his head to regard the other man. “As the Head of Slytherin House, I believe you should have been made aware of a certain incident involving young Mr. Malfoy at the end of the last school year.”
Professor Snape inclined his head politely. “Yes, my lord. Draco Malfoy was involved in something that led to his mother removing him from the castle.”
“And, what precisely do you know of the circumstances of this incident?”
“Very little, my lord.” He responded in a calm, silky tone. “I was somewhat…distracted by other events occurring at about the same time.”
The professor inclined his head in a small nod. “The acting Headmistress Dolores Umbridge was missing from the castle, as were a number of students. Professor McGonagall had only recently been attacked and taken to St. Mungo’s, and Hagrid was no longer on school grounds. Hogwarts does not employ enough staff members to make the sudden disappearance of three negligible.” He shifted slightly, though maintained a relaxed posture. “I was eventually informed, several hours after the…event, that young Mr. Malfoy was involved in a situation. However, as no charges were filed with the Auror Department and no complaint was lodged to the faculty, I was provided very little information. Mr. Malfoy was removed from the castle by his mother quite precipitously allowing me scant opportunity to question him or to determine whether any disciplinary action was required. As the…other party involved obviously desired privacy and discretion in the matter, I felt no need to investigate further.”
Riddle considered him for a moment before waving the man forward with a brief flick of his hand. “Show me what you were told.”
Professor Snape walked directly in front of him and met his piercing gaze. The interaction was brief and appeared to leave Riddle less than completely satisfied. His eyes wandered between Anna and Lucius Malfoy a couple of times before he seemed to come to a decision.
“Anna, my dear,” he began as he moved to stand before her. The rest of his statement continued in Parseltongue. All eyes were once again fully focused on the pair. Just as before, Anna was unresponsive for a time before Riddle managed to garner a heated reply.
A mischievous gleam overtook Riddle’s mien. Removing his wand, he flicked the instrument at his open palm, conjuring a dagger with a black handle. He held the weapon up, examining it thoughtfully before offering it to Anna by the hilt. Her eyes traveled slowly to the sharp blade. Not waiting for her to possibly refuse, he placed the knife in her right hand. She clenched her jaw as her hand tightened over the handle.
Dolohov slowly backed away from her, walking with measured steps to stand beside Professor Snape. The Potion Master was the image of forbearance - still and silent as he observed the events unfolding before him.
“Come forward, my dear.” Riddle stowed his wand once more and took Anna’s left hand. He led her slowly to within a few feet of Lucius Malfoy. “Lovely young witch, isn’t she?” The dark amusement in his voice was obvious. Ginny could almost feel the uneasy glances passing between Dolohov and the wizard holding her.
“Certainly, my lord,” Malfoy managed haltingly. “Quite lovely indeed.”
Riddle smirked cruelly before he released Anna’s hand and moved to stand behind her. He began hissing quietly in her ear. The soft, sibilant sounds floated over the clearing. Anna’s calm façade slowly cracked as the minutes passed. A tear slid down her cheek as she raised her gaze to meet the anxious face of Lucius Malfoy. Her grip on the dagger was tight enough to make her knuckles white.
Ginny felt the large hands of the Death Eater behind her slowly withdraw from her waist before the wizard sidled towards Dolohov. The three men stood side by side, watching and waiting with forced impassivity. Ginny stared desperately at her Potions professor, willing him to look her way, to offer some measure of assistance. Neither Snape nor either of the other two Death Eaters even glanced in her direction. They were completely focused on the sights and sounds unfolding before them.
The sudden addition of a feminine voice to the melodic sibilance shifted her attention. Her friend was speaking Parseltongue softly in what sounded like short phrases. Tears were running down her cheeks in a steady stream. Behind her, Riddle continued to hiss fluently in her ear. Ginny didn’t have to understand the words to feel how enticing the tone was. Abruptly, she understood why the Dark Arts were said to be so seductive.
With a strangled cry, Anna stumbled away from the wizards. Riddle made no attempt to restrain her, but instead stepped closer to Malfoy.
“Ginny, please!” Anna cried as she rushed towards her and reached for her hand before sinking slowly to the ground.
She wrapped her arms tightly around the other witch, glancing apprehensively towards Riddle, who was fortunately occupied taunting Malfoy.
Anna pulled away and stood up suddenly as she drove the dagger into the pale skin of her inner elbow. “Ward,” she breathed, whirling on the spot. Ginny saw movement out of the corner of her eye and saw wands flying rapidly through the air towards them. Blood was spurting out of Anna’s arm, spraying in an arc that fell to the ground a few feet away from them in every direction. Blindly grabbing one of the wands out of the air, Ginny hurriedly recited the incantations Anna had taught her over the summer at Longbottom Manor. She gasped in relief as she felt the power of the Blood Ward rise and surround them. Beside her, Anna collapsed to the ground, blood still pouring sickeningly from the open wound.
“Anna!” Ginny fell to her knees beside the pale witch trying to stop the shaking of her wand hand as she cast ‘Episkey’ three times before the wound finally closed. “Wake up!” she pleaded, shaking the girl.
Ginny let out a strangled scream when Charlie and Remus suddenly appeared beside them with a soft crack.
Charlie immediately bent down, briefly placing his hand just below Anna’s neck. “She’s breathing.” He slid both arms beneath her body and lifted her easily as he stood.
“I’ll take Ginny. Go!” Remus ordered.
Ginny grabbed the wands off the ground, shoving them into her pocket, as Remus pulled her into his arms and Disapparated with a sharp pop.
She forced herself to swallow hard as they landed at the front gates of Hogwarts. The smell of blood was still heavy in her nostrils and her stomach wanted to rebel against the squeezing pressure from Apparition.
“Take hold,” Sirius ordered roughly, thrusting a length of rope before them. Charlie cradled Anna tightly against his chest as his fingers entwined with hers to hold the Portkey. Remus clasped Ginny’s hand firmly around the rope.
“Flossing Stringmints.” The rope glowed with a faint blue light drawing a whimper from Ginny just before the sickening pull caught her middle.
Landing in the hospital wing, Ginny knew she would have sunk to the floor had Remus not been holding her upright.
“Oh, Ginny!” Mum wailed as she embraced her, squeezing hard enough to make her ribs ache.
She wrapped her arms around her mother trying to pat her back reassuringly even as she pressed her hand to her mouth in a desperate attempt to force down her nausea.
“Blood-Replenishing Potion. Two flasks.” Charlie’s voice held the clipped authority of a Draconologist used to handling medical emergencies.
Ginny pulled back slightly and turned to watch her brother carefully placing Anna on a nearby bed.
Madam Pomfrey brought him the flasks and watched while he quickly administered one vial after the other, forcing Anna to swallow by gently massaging her throat.
“Pain-Relieving Potion,” Madam Pomfrey said as she handed it to Charlie. “I’ll run a medical diagnostic.”
He nodded as he accepted the vial. Madam Pomfrey’s wand moved slowly over Anna’s still form. The matron sighed audibly.
“There are no other wounds or signs of trauma,” Madam Pomfrey announced. “She will wake when she is ready and may need another dose or two of Blood-Replenishing Potion over the next few hours, but Miss Henry will be fine.”
Charlie sagged against Anna’s bed, fear and exhaustion finally catching up to him. Bill shoved a chair beneath him and clasped his shoulder in a reassuring grip. Neville and Augusta stepped forward, and Ginny realized that their family members must have all been called to Hogwarts while they were gone.
“Molly dear, Madam Pomfrey needs to examine Ginny,” Dad said, as he carefully extracted her from Mum’s arms and placed her on the bed beside Anna’s.
Harry was beside her bed in an instant, holding her hand and watching her intently as Madam Pomfrey ran her wand over her body.
“How do you feel, Miss Weasley?” the matron asked.
Ginny pressed her free hand to her forehead. “My head is throbbing, and I feel rather nauseous.”
“Drink this,” she ordered, as she handed over one potion after another.
She dutifully drank each vial before handing them back. The pain in her head eased noticeably, and the feeling of nausea disappeared entirely.
“They’ll both be fine, Molly,” Madam Pomfrey said softly. “A good night’s sleep and a day of rest, they’ll be ready for classes Monday morning.”
Mum sighed loudly, a few tears falling down her cheeks, as she nodded. Dad pulled her into his arms, murmuring quietly.
“Ginny, I…” Harry’s jaw was clenched as he stared down at her. “Don’t you ever…” He groaned before he grabbed her suddenly, capturing her lips in a demanding kiss. Though initially stunned, her arms moved to wrap around him as she sought comfort in his familiar embrace. The clearing of throats and a few chuckles finally made him end the kiss, though his hands still held one of hers in a tight grip.
“Easy, pup,” Sirius said, patting his back a few times. “The girls are okay.” Raising his voice slightly, he called out. “Poppy, I hope you have a good supply of Calming Draught because I believe a few doses may be necessary.”
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