|SIYE Time:6:53 on 21st October 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. On temporary hiatus with sincere apologies. Please see author info if you want details.
Hitcount: Story Total: 29842; Chapter Total: 595
Awards: View Trophy Room
Sincere thanks to my beta, Arnel, and to everyone who is reading and reviewing! Unfortunately, I have posted all of my completed chapters, so from this point on I will be posting chapters as I finish writing them. Regular weekly posts are still my goal, but that may no longer be possible (especially when I have the flu).
The hospital ward was blissfully silent -- everyone quietly basking in the relief of having Ginny and Anna safely back at Hogwarts. Anna remained unconscious. Although her skin was far paler than usual due to blood loss, the steady rise and fall of her chest was reassuring. Charlie sat in a chair beside her bed, hunched over her still form, both hands resting lightly on her. Ginny felt a bit lightheaded, as much from the trauma of their recent experience as from the potions Madam Pomfrey had given her. The pressure of Harry’s hand squeezing hers, of his thumb making slow circles on her skin, drew her gaze to him once more. A small smile lit her face as their eyes met.
Dad cleared his throat. “Please tell us what happened, son.”
Charlie took a slow breath as he shook his head and leaned back in the chair. “I could feel Anna through the pull of our bond, but it wasn’t clear where they were. We kept jumping.” He groaned, one hand raking roughly through his hair. “It took so long to find them!”
“You did an amazing job locating them, Charlie,” Remus insisted. His calm voice was firm enough to broker no argument. Turning to dad, he continued. “Charlie took me on seven consecutive Side-Along Apparition jumps before we found them. You know how magically draining and exhausting that is. Most wizards wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Dad nodded. Standing beside him, Mum beamed at the praise even as she tried to blink away the tears in her eyes.
“Why did they take Anna’s blood?” Harry asked, subconsciously rubbing at the old scar on his inner arm where Pettigrew had stabbed him as part of the ritual to resurrect Voldemort. “What did they use it for?”
“They didn’t…” Remus shook his head. “Anna stabbed herself with the dagger.”
Concerned glances were cast about the quiet hospital ward. Charlie’s eyes closed as he lifted Anna’s hand to his lips, kissing it gently.
“She wasn’t…” Ginny struggled to sit up. “She wasn’t trying to hurt herself! She was trying to cast the Blood Ward to protect us. She told me!”
“What happened, Ginny?” Remus asked. “When we arrived, Anna was standing with Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy. She had the dagger in her hand. We were trying to come up with a plan when she cried out and ran towards you. Then, she cut herself and…”
“And I finished the Blood Ward,” Ginny explained. “Anna wasn’t trying to kill herself, if that’s what you all are thinking. We were terrified, not suicidal. We were trying to protect ourselves! She told me to cast the ward while she was…” She closed her eyes, pressing her fingertips to the lids. “There wasn’t time for one witch to provide the blood necessary to create the circle and complete the spell casting. She plunged the dagger in her arm as she told me to say the spells.”
“She severed an artery, Miss Weasley.” Madam Pomfrey’s words were clipped. “That was a very risky choice.”
Ginny shrugged slightly as she leaned back against the headboard. “What choice would you have made if you were standing in front of Voldemort and a few other Death Eaters?” she asked. “It’s not as though we realized Charlie and Remus were in the woods right behind us.”
“You both made it out of there, Ginny,” Harry quietly asserted. “Nothing else matters.” His fingertips lightly stroked her arm.
“I wasn’t aware that you knew how to cast the spells for the Blood Ward, Ginny.” Bill’s voice held a definite edge.
She closed her eyes. “Anna started teaching them to me over the summer. I wanted to learn the spells and asked her to help me.”
“Will you please show me the spells later?” Bill ground out.
Ginny nodded. Bill exhaled loudly, while Fleur wrapped her arms around him and began whispering in rapid French.
“What was the plan?” Sirius asked. Blank looks met his question. “Remus, you mentioned that you and Charlie were coming up with a plan. What was it?”
Remus sighed. “Keep in mind, it wasn’t a good plan. We were far enough away from the girls that we didn’t know exactly what was happening. We couldn’t hear whatever was being said.” He shifted his stance awkwardly and gestured with one hand. “We were just quickly brainstorming possible courses of action.” He and Charlie exchanged a brief glance which resulted in a resigned shrug from her brother. “We considered trying to pull off double hops.”
Mum’s eyes widened, and she sucked in a startled breath. Harry’s brow furrowed as he transferred his gaze from Remus to her.
“Please tell me you’re joking.” Dad shook his head slightly as he rubbed at one temple.
“I said we considered it! Obviously, we didn’t do it,” Remus replied.
“What are double hops?” Hermione asked.
“They aren’t generally taught for a reason.” Sirius stroked his chin. “But, theoretically, you Apparate to a location without completely landing, grab someone to Side-Along, and immediately Apparate out to a different location,” he explained. “It’s a damn reckless maneuver because you don’t actually land after the first jump. The chances of someone being severely Splinched are very high.”
Tonks nodded in accord. “The concept is covered as part of Auror training — sort of a last resort maneuver only to be attempted in extreme emergencies. Even Moody advised me to never actually try such a stupid stunt.”
“I’m very glad you didn’t attempt that,” Professor McGonagall said, her lips pinched in disapproval.
Charlie nodded grimly. “We both knew it was too risky. We were planning to attack before the girls took matters into their own hands, although that wasn’t a particularly good idea either.”
“We intended to take out Dolohov and Rowle in simultaneous attacks, but that still would have left Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy. Snape was there as well, but he’s a bit of a wild card, so…”
“Yeah, the problem with Stunning Dolohov and Rowle is that Malfoy could have easily revived them while you were fending off You-Know-Who,” Ron said.
Charlie shook his head and sighed. “We weren’t going to Stun them, little brother.”
“I hope you weren’t considering the use of the Killing Curse,” Professor Dumbledore said quietly.
“No need, Albus. Remus and I both know plenty of other lethal curses that are far more satisfying because they kill their victims more slowly and painfully,” Charlie bit out.
The Headmaster opened his mouth to protest, when Remus spoke up. “Our priority was returning the girls safely to Hogwarts. The two of us against four, and without knowing what Severus might feel compelled to do, didn’t leave us with many options. Dolohov and Rowle are both marked Death Eaters. They abducted two innocent girls from Hogsmeade in broad daylight. I don’t relish killing anyone ever, but I would have in this instance and not felt any remorse.” His calm manner and matter-of-fact explanation seemed impossible even for Professor Dumbledore to refute.
“So, what happened exactly?” Dad asked. “Ginny said they created a Blood Ward.”
Charlie nodded. “The girls vanished from sight just as we were preparing to attack. I could still feel Anna, but we didn’t know what was going on. I grabbed Remus and Apparated us both in…well, into the Blood Ward. Ginny looked okay, but Anna was clearly unconscious.” He stroked his betrothed’s arm gently. “I picked up Anna, Remus took Ginny, and we left as quickly as we could.”
“How could you Apparate into a Blood Ward?” Hermione asked. “I thought a ward would prevent something like that.”
“Blood Wards are extremely strong,” Bill agreed. “They generally aren’t designed to keep out close family members though. With Anna providing the blood and Ginny performing the necessary spell work, Charlie would be able to penetrate the protective barrier. The bond Anna and Charlie share is stronger than a typical magical marriage, and of course since Ginny is our sister…” His voice trailed off as Hermione nodded in obvious understanding.
“I wouldn’t have been able to Apparate in on my own,” Remus admitted. “Even being pulled through by Side-Along was noticeably painful.”
“Sorry, I didn’t realize…” Charlie began.
Remus chuckled softly as he patted her brother’s shoulder. “My pain tolerance is rather high.”
“Understatement of the year,” Sirius muttered.
“Ginny,” Mum began hesitantly. “Did the Death Eaters do anything to you or to Anna?”
Ginny shook her head. “They grabbed us outside of the shop and took us to…” She shrugged. “Well, I don’t know where really. It was just a clearing near a forest. Antonin Dolohov had Anna, and Thorfinn Rowle was holding me. Bellatrix Lestrange was there at first, but she was sent away.” Her eyes met Harry’s as her jaw tightened. He squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Voldemort was waiting for us. No one hurt us really. Voldemort used Legilimency on me, and I think he tried to use it on Anna as well.”
“Was it painful?” Ron asked quietly.
“Certainly more than you could tolerate, Mr. Weasley,” Professor Snape sneered as he swept through the hospital ward doors.
“Ah, Severus,” the Headmaster greeted him. “How was Voldemort’s mood when you left him?”
“Surprisingly cheerful,” Snape bit out. “After using the Cruciatus Curse a few times on Lucius Malfoy, he announced the meeting a delightful event and excused everyone for the evening.” His dark gaze swept over Anna. “Wake the girl,” he shouted. “I don’t care whether you use a potion or Rennervate, but we need to have a conversation.”
Charlie stood slowly and turned to face the Potions Master just as Remus edged towards them, a low growl rumbling from his throat. Despite her brother’s obvious exhaustion, he looked almost as lethal as the werewolf by his side.
“I’m awake,” Anna said softly.
Charlie turned towards her quickly, his features softening as he took hold of her hand and stroked her cheek. “How do you feel?”
“A bit weak, but I’m okay.” She tried to smile.
“Miss Henry, what exactly is the nature of your relationship with the Dark Lord?” Snape inquired.
“What did he tell you?” Anna asked.
He exhaled loudly. “Do not play games with me, young lady! How are you related to the Dark Lord?”
“What difference does it make?” Charlie demanded.
“An underage student at Hogwarts is a Parselmouth and is of great interest to the most powerful Dark wizard who ever lived! I think it perfectly reasonable for me to demand some sort of explanation!” The Head of Slytherin House was now glaring at Anna.
She closed her eyes and took a slow, steady breath. “I’m his granddaughter.”
A few startled gasps were heard in the otherwise silent hospital ward. Glancing around, Ginny quickly realized she was not the only who was not surprised by the announcement. Remus, Sirius, and Augusta looked resigned. Harry and Neville quietly shifted their feet while casting small, awkward smiles of support in Anna’s direction. Charlie lifted her hand to his lips, kissing it gently several times.
Professor Dumbledore closed his eyes briefly and pulled at his long, white beard. “Katherine Longbottom?”
“He forced her,” Ginny whispered. “Riddle tricked her into an empty classroom and attacked her. He showed me his memory of hurting her in the diary.”
“I’m so sorry you had to see that, Ginny,” Anna said softly. “Grandma showed me her memory of it in her Pensieve shortly before she died.”
Their eyes met as they both attempted to blink away gathering tears.
“Oh, my poor girls!” Mum whimpered.
Dad pulled her back against his chest in a tight embrace. The muscles in his jaw twitched and his eyes were colder than Ginny could ever remember seeing them.
Professor Snape sighed. “The Dark Lord is far too interested in both Miss Henry and Miss Weasley. He was intrigued rather than angered by their escape. For obvious reasons, I do not wish to be told of how they managed to Apparate away from the clearing. He assumes that even though they are both underage, one or both of them were able to facilitate their departure without outside assistance.” His eyes roved over the group before settling on Charlie. “I would rather not be informed of any help they may have had.”
“Do you believe he will have them abducted again?” Dad asked.
The professor hesitated for a moment before offering a small affirmative nod. “The Dark Lord was pleased with them both. However, he realizes they are still students and will bide his time. Currently, his primary focus is to infiltrate and take over the Ministry. Once the Ministry falls in the next year or so, he will gain control of Hogwarts and of all the students here, including Miss Henry and Miss Weasley. I don’t believe either of them are in any immediate danger. Having said that, it would not be wise for them to leave the safety of the school grounds.” His piercing gaze shifted between the two girls before settling on Anna. “Were you tempted, Miss Henry?”
“Tempted by what?” Augusta asked.
The Potion Master’s intense stare never left Anna as he spoke. “Though the conversation was conducted in Parselmouth, it was abundantly clear the Dark Lord was attempting to persuade Miss Henry to murder Lucius Malfoy.” His voice had adopted the silky tone he used occasionally in the classroom. “Were you tempted?”
“Why would Voldemort want Anna to kill Lucius Malfoy?” Tonks asked.
“Does he want to mark her as a Death Eater?” Professor Dumbledore inquired.
“I don’t believe so,” Snape replied, his eyes never leaving Anna’s face. “His exact intentions remain unclear; however, he was certainly hoping she would be susceptible to his influence and to the lure of Darkness.” He paused briefly. “Were you tempted, Miss Henry? You were clearly affected by the Dark Lord’s words. What was he saying to you?”
Anna’s voice was remote when she finally responded. “He was telling me about the atrocities Lucius Malfoy has committed over the years, about the pain and fear he has inflicted on others. He was telling me why Lucius deserved to die, why it would be better for everyone if I ended his miserable existence.” She exhaled slowly and continued on in a more natural tone. “I wasn’t tempted to murder him. I don’t even know Lucius Malfoy. I mean…” She shook her head slightly. “I understand he’s a Death Eater and a horrible person, but I wouldn’t kill someone in cold blood. Perhaps, everything he told me was the truth, but it may have been mostly lies. It’s not as though I would ever trust Voldemort’s word on anything.”
“And if the Dark Lord had presented you with a better victim? What if Draco Malfoy had been offered to you? Would you have used the dagger on him?” The professor studied her carefully with dark eyes.
Anna blinked, a tear rolling slowly down her cheek. Charlie’s thumb swept away the moisture, and he lowered his lips to gently caress hers. She smiled as he leaned back. Raising one eyebrow, she turned her attention back to their professor. “Nothing could ever compel me to join forces with the twisted bastard who raped my grandmother.”
Professor Snape nodded before directing his attention towards her. “And you, Miss Weasley?”
Ginny made no attempt to hide her surprise. “Why in Merlin’s name would I ever join Tom Riddle?”
“I sincerely doubt you would,” the professor remarked. “I was merely curious whether you would have murdered Lucius Malfoy given the opportunity. Unlike Miss Henry, you have a definite history with the man. He made your first year at Hogwarts rather unpleasant.”
Harry’s hand gripped hers tightly, and she suspected he was suppressing the urge to yell at their teacher for bringing up the Chamber of Secrets.
“I won’t lie and say that his death would upset me,” Ginny admitted. “And, I think I’m as capable as most everyone in this room of killing someone if the occasion called for it.”
“Ginny!” Mum gasped.
She sighed. “We’re at war, Mum. Who knows what will happen? I’m not saying I would intentionally kill someone without cause. Anna’s right though about today…it would have been cold-blooded murder. Lucius Malfoy was just standing there waiting, knowing he might die at any moment and knowing he couldn’t do a damn thing to prevent it.” Ginny shook her head. “But, Charlie’s right, too. If it came to an actual battle against Death Eaters, I wouldn’t just cast a Stunning Spell.”
A brief silence followed her statement. Ginny glanced around the room, measuring the reactions of those around her. No one seemed particularly surprised by her comments, and Professor Snape was not the only one eyeing her with slight approval.
“Miss Henry,” he asked. “What was the nonverbal spell the Dark Lord used that elicited such a negative response from you at the beginning of your conversation with him?”
Anna’s eyes widened, and her cheeks flushed. “It’s not important.”
Madam Pomfrey was already hurrying over with her wand drawn.
“I’m not hurt,” Anna reassured the matron. “He was just trying to provoke me.” She turned to Charlie who was hovering over her protectively. “I promise you, he did not physically hurt me.” An unspoken message seemed to pass between the two, and Charlie’s posture relaxed as he nodded.
“Professor Snape,” Ginny ventured. “May I ask what Rowle meant about the order that no more witches be killed or harmed in raids?”
His gaze met hers for a moment before he answered. “The Dark Lord is becoming increasingly confident that he will soon be the leader of magical Britain. As such, he is beginning to consider the magical population he will be governing. It has been brought to his attention that the population is declining and has been for decades. He has recently issued a standing order through the ranks that protects most witches from harm due to their importance in eventually rebuilding our magical society.”
“Rebuilding the population? As in having babies?” Ron quietly asked Hermione.
She nodded while rolling her eyes in exasperation.
“Aren’t wizards just as necessary?” he inquired a bit louder. “I mean it does take two.” His cheeks had darkened, and he was shifting his feet nervously.
“Females are always more important in building a population than males,” Hermione answered.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” he argued. “It took Mum and Dad to make the seven of us.”
“Yes, Ronald, but on a horse breeding farm, one stallion is all that is needed to breed several mares and produce dozens of offspring,” Hermione countered.
The Headmaster cleared his throat loudly. “Severus, has Voldemort made any other announcements regarding the magical population problem?”
Professor Snape shook his head. “He is not making specific plans that far into the future. Other than a general rule to avoid killing witches, no other plans or pronouncements have been made. He has not even encouraged married Death Eaters to have more children, or single ones to find spouses.”
“Then, this is not an issue for concern in the near future,” Professor Dumbledore decided. “Let’s be grateful for the time being that witches are perhaps safer now than they were a month ago.”
The Head of Slytherin House nodded before turning to Tonks. “I would advise you not to be complacent. As an Auror, you remain a target and —”
“My dear Aunt Bella would probably be very happy to kill me,” Tonks finished.
“Obviously,” Professor Snape drawled.
“Well, Anna, at least you know you’re not the only one with a shitty relative,” Tonks quipped. “Actually, I’m not thrilled to be related to the Malfoys either.”
Sirius chuckled as he wrapped his arm around his cousin. “At least we have each other!”
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