|SIYE Time:6:48 on 24th April 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: 21183; Chapter Total: 386
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thank you for all of the comments and questions! I truly appreciate reading your thoughts. Sincere thanks to my beta, Arnel!
An Unexpected Letter
“Where have you been?” Hermione exclaimed in a harsh whisper. Her hand smacked the solid wood table with a dull thud. “It’s nearly lunchtime!”
Anna’s eyes widened as she sank into the empty chair next to Luna. The girls were at their normal table in a corner of the library.
“Wow!” Ginny grinned. “You actually managed to channel Mum, Hermione!” Pressing her hand to her chest, she sighed dramatically. “She would be so proud.”
“It isn’t a laughing matter, Ginny!” Hermione hissed. “What if someone else had noticed?”
“Did anyone else realize I wasn’t in the dorm last night?” Anna asked quickly.
“No!” Hermione exhaled, exasperation clear in her tone. “Lavender didn’t make it back from her date with Seamus until well after midnight. She and Parvati were so busy trying to cover that, they never even noticed you were missing. I opened your bed curtains while they were in the bathroom talking, and then casually mentioned that you had gone for a walk around the lake.”
Anna visibly relaxed. “Well, that’s a relief. Thank you for covering for me.”
Hermione frowned at her. “You’re supposed to be setting an example. You shouldn’t have been out all night!”
“I’m not the prefect, Hermione,” Anna reminded her with a smirk. “It’s your job to set the example! Don’t worry though, I’ll be happy to cover for you when you don’t make it back to the dorm.”
Her roommate sputtered incoherently for a moment before sighing. “Are you okay?”
Anna nodded. She blushed slightly as she bit her lip.
“What was it like?” Luna asked, leaning towards her and grasping one of Anna’s hands. Her wide eyes demanded the other girl’s attention. “Did he know what he was doing?” She nodded slightly in response to her own question. “I imagine he’d have to know what he’s doing at his age.”
A grin spread across her face. “He knew what he was doing,” Anna agreed. “It was…” She stared off dreamily for a moment. “…lovely.”
“Did it hurt?” Luna tilted her head to the side as she continued to stare at her. “One of the seventh years said it hurt the first time, but another said it really didn’t, so I don’t know what to think.”
Anna twirled a lock of her brown hair slowly around her finger. “It did hurt the first time, but….” She let her head fall back against the chair. “The pain didn’t last long at all, and it was really more pressure and a bit of stinging than actual pain. I don’t know how to describe it really. After that it was just…bliss.”
“What do you mean the first time?” Hermione asked.
Her face flushed dark pink. “Well, we…um…I mean, there was last night, of course, and then a couple of times this morning.”
“A couple of times this morning,” Ginny repeated. “Never mind!” She shook her head resolutely. “He’s my brother. I don’t really want to know.”
“Well, I want to know,” Luna stated matter-of-factly. “Was it better each time?”
Anna’s smile on her flushed face impossible to contain. “He was very careful to make sure I was…completely satisfied each time. I think that…well…instinct kind of kicks in and takes over. As long as you’re with someone you love and trust, and you allow yourself to just feel and experience the sensations -- it’s truly brilliant!”
The Headmaster sat down behind his desk and peered at the men sitting before him. Remus Lupin and Sirius Black were on the right. Bill Weasley and Charlie Weasley were on the left. Waving his wand carefully, Albus Dumbledore made four copies of the letter sitting on his desk and floated the parchments over to each wizard.
Silence descended as each man took a moment to read the letter from Narcissa Malfoy.
Dear Albus Dumbledore,
I find myself in the difficult position of trying to determine the best course of action to save my family, both my son and my husband, from certain death. Recent events have made it quite clear to me that they are more likely to survive at the hands of your followers than if left to the dubious mercy of the Dark Lord.
Draco was disciplined by one of your professors a couple of months ago. While I was initially infuriated by that man’s methods, I have since come to realize how fortunate my son was. He has changed for the better since that incident. Most importantly to me, he was left alive after being punished for his unfortunate actions on that night in June. Similarly, my husband was recently put in a terribly vulnerable position by the Dark Lord, who urged one of your students to kill him. From what Lucius conveyed to me in his last letter, he fully expected to die at the hands of the young lady, yet was left unscathed. I cannot properly convey my relief and gratitude that she chose to spare him.
I am left with the realization that the lives of my loved ones are considered of more consequence to the side of the Light than they will ever be to the Dark Lord. His willingness to offer my husband as a sacrifice was testimony to his opinion of the worth of my family. As such, I am willing to offer my assistance in planning an attack on the Dark Lord. He is currently living in my home, having taken over the ancestral property of the Malfoy family as though he had the right to such a residence. I have no doubt that his knowledge of the security systems, the wards, and the secret passageways of Malfoy Manor are severely lacking.
I can help you plan an assault of my former home. I fully realize that any such action will potentially leave Malfoy Manor in ruins. The loss of our property will be worthwhile as long as the Dark Lord is defeated. My only request is that I be allowed to take part in the attack so that I can access the hidden passageways and save my husband. My son is safe as a student at the Durmstrang Institute, but my husband lives in daily fear for his life.
Please send an emissary to meet me at Gustav Wasa in Vaasa, Finland at noon on the 30th of November. I will provide all the information necessary to breach the wards and security measures in place at Malfoy Manor. My sincere hope is that by working together we can defeat our shared enemy before he has the opportunity to gain absolute power over us all.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Sirius was rereading the letter when Charlie’s voice broke the silence. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
“Do you believe she’s sincere?” Bill asked.
“I do.” Professor Dumbledore sighed as he stroked his beard. “Narcissa has a firm grasp of the danger Tom Riddle poses to her husband. Lucius must be managing to smuggle forthright letters out of the Manor occasionally. Severus has reported that Lucius is increasingly the target of Tom’s frustration and has been tortured multiple times. I have no doubt Narcissa is also aware that if her son ever returns to Britain, he will almost certainly be branded a Death Eater. It’s in her best interests to help us defeat Tom, and apparently she’s willing to sacrifice Malfoy Manor to make that possible.”
“Cissy always was a very practical witch,” Sirius agreed. “The Malfoy coffers are full. If the house is damaged or even destroyed, it can be rebuilt easily enough. Unworthy though the bastard is, she always loved her husband, and of course she loves her son.”
“Her motivations are quite plainly stated in this letter,” Remus remarked. “They are also completely selfish. She wants Voldemort defeated to save her husband and her son. That’s it!” He struck the palm of one hand with the side of the other. “She’s had no change of heart regarding pureblood supremacy. She expresses no concern for Muggles or the Muggle-born. No horror over the use of Unforgivables. No repentance for her husband’s past Death Eater activities.”
Sirius nodded slowly while raising an eyebrow at his old friend. “What exactly concerns you, Moony?”
“If we accept her help and allow her into the Manor to rescue her husband during our attack, can we depend on her to not also try to save her sister, Bellatrix?” Remus asked.
Sirius exhaled loudly. “I’ll have to make it very clear to her that she can only smuggle out her husband and no one else, certainly not Bella.”
“Am I to assume you are willing to act as the emissary?” Albus inquired.
Sirius nodded. “Cissy’s my cousin. I fully admit I was never close to her like I was with Andy, but we never hated each other either. I’m the Head of the Black Family and that still means something to Cissy. I have a certain amount of authority over her, and I fully intend to use it.” He turned to Bill. “Are you at all familiar with Unbreakable Vows tied to Family Blood Bonds?”
“I’ve read about them,” Bill admitted. “Do you think she’ll agree to something that binding?”
“She’s going to have to agree,” Sirius said firmly. “Remus is correct. We can’t completely trust Cissy. After Voldemort, Bella is probably the next most vicious threat among the Death Eaters. She can’t be allowed to escape with Lucius.”
Bill nodded. “I’ll come. I’d like to hear as much as possible about the wards and general security of Malfoy Manor directly from her anyway.”
“Excellent!” Albus smiled. “I’ll inform Narcissa that the two of you will meet her at the proposed time and place. Now, on to other matters. Remus, I —”
“Wait a minute!” Bill interrupted. “Excuse me, Albus, but what did Narcissa mean about her son being disciplined by one of your professors a couple of months ago, and why did none of you ask about it?” His gaze moved from man to man before settling on his brother. Holding up his copy of the letter, he continued. “Obviously, you all know about the punishment that initially infuriated her. Tell me, Charlie, what exactly were your methods?”
His brother shifted uneasily in his chair. “I went to Finland and confronted the Malfoy boy the day before coming here to Hogwarts. I wasn’t officially a professor yet. As Narcissa admitted in the letter, I didn’t damage the boy that badly.”
“How did you even find out where he was?” Bill asked.
Charlie shrugged. “You told me Narcissa had taken her son to Finland. I have several friends that live there. I contacted them and asked them to let me know if they saw or heard anything about either one of them. It took most of the summer, but eventually I learned where they were living.”
Bill sighed and shook his head. “Why didn’t you ask me to go with you? I would’ve made sure it didn’t go too far, which apparently it did.”
“He was still standing upright, capable of walking and talking when I left him,” Charlie ground out. “I didn’t lose control. It didn’t go too far. That kid deserved what happened and probably a lot more.” He pressed his hands together hard enough that his arms bulged. “I know you don’t understand, but I needed to do something! He couldn’t just walk away like it never happened!”
“For what it’s worth,” Remus began quietly. “I’m glad you went after him. You left him alive, and I don’t honestly know that I would’ve managed it. The wolf inside of me wanted to rip him apart.”
Charlie nodded, the tension in his posture slowly relaxing as a brief silence descended.
Albus cleared his throat. “Nicolas Vasile informed me by letter soon after the incident occurred. I confided in Remus and Sirius.”
Charlie’s eyes widened. “Nicolas informed you? The Head of the Dragon Reserve in Romania?”
“Nicolas and I have maintained a correspondence for quite some time now. Naturally, you and your rather unique talents are a frequent topic in our letters,” Albus said.
“I know that Nicolas ordered you to remain silent about your work. He was, of course, quite correct to be cautious. Your abilities can never become public knowledge; however, I’m quite confident the people in this room are entirely trustworthy.” His blue eyes twinkled. “Remus and Sirius both know the entire truth.”
Charlie sat in stunned silence for a moment before turning to his brother. “I haven’t even told Anna yet. She knows I went after the Malfoy kid, but she didn’t ask for any details, and I didn’t volunteer anything.” He sat back in his chair and cracked a smile. “A few of the guys from the Reserve brought one of my favorite dragons to Finland. She’s a Romanian Longhorn by the name of Sasha, a particularly obedient lady.”
Bill’s eyes widened as he glanced around at the others briefly in disbelief before focusing once more on Charlie. “No way. That’s not possible. You’ve said so yourself a dozen times. Dragons can’t be trained or tamed. They’re not pets!”
“What was I supposed to say?” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I haven’t been successful with all of them. Romanian Longhorns and Welsh Greens are very cooperative. Others are less so. The Hungarian Horntail Harry faced in the Triwizard Tournament is about the least amenable dragon I’ve ever worked with, but even she has learned to obey a few basic commands over the years.”
“Merlin, Charlie!” Bill leapt up from his chair and began pacing the office. “All these years and you never said anything, not even to me! I’m your older brother! You’ve always been able to tell me anything! Even about that dream of Anna before the World Cup!”
“What dream of Anna?” Remus demanded. “Before the World Cup?”
Charlie’s head fell back against the chair. He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his fingers into his eyelids. “I think perhaps my magic has been aware of Anna for quite some time. I’ve been attracted to her for longer than was appropriate.” He sat upright and met Remus’s piercing gaze. “I never acted on my feelings for Anna. I kept me distance and waited as long as possible before declaring myself in any way.”
Remus’s jaw was locked, but he nodded in acknowledgement.
Bill sank back into his chair. “So, what did you have the Longhorn do to the Malfoy kid?”
“Honestly, I just called for her to fly in and land. I petted her and praised her and led her over to the tree where he was standing,” Charlie said. “She didn’t do anything to him other than trap him between her horns for a minute. I just wanted to scare him, and I did. He needed to know what it was like to be afraid and at someone else’s mercy. It truly was a lesson he needed to learn.”
“Merlin, that’s just…” Bill shook his head. “You are going to tell Anna, as well as Mum and Dad, right?”
Charlie nodded. “I’ll tell them when the time is right. Being able to train and control dragons is something Nicolas has insisted I keep quiet for years. I need a bit of time to process the idea of sharing this, and perhaps find a better way to say it.”
Bill laughed weakly. “So what else do we have to discuss this evening?”
“Well,” Albus began. “It’s my understanding that Remus had a productive conversation with The Grey Lady of Ravenclaw Tower yesterday.”
Remus swallowed audibly. “I promised her I wouldn’t reveal the details of our conversation to anyone. She…” He shook his head. “The important facts are that she believes the diadem was contaminated by Voldemort with Dark magic, and she thinks he may have placed the diadem in the Room of Hidden Things.”
“Well, that sounds quite promising,” Albus said.
“Have you been in the Room of Hidden Things?” Remus asked.
The Headmaster chuckled. “Not since I was a boy, but…. Ah! I believe I understand the problem. It will be like searching for a needle in a haystack.”
“Last evening I tried every variation I could think of to Summon the diadem. Nothing worked, of course.” Remus shrugged. “Even with all of us searching the place methodically, it could take quite some time for us to find it.”
“Would it be presumptuous of me to have your normal accommodations prepared for you to stay here at the castle for a while?” Albus gazed expectantly at Sirius and Remus.
“Sounds good to me!” Sirius agreed. “Extra time with the kids!”
Remus nodded in accord.
“Excellent! I will see to the necessary arrangements. Thank you, gentlemen.” Albus stood as the others rose and made their way out of his office.
“I wouldn’t count on a lot of extra time with the kids if I were you,” Charlie smirked, making his way down the spiral staircase behind the others. “Between classes, homework, Quidditch, and the fact that they’re all paired off now, you might not see much of them.”
“They’re all paired off?” Remus asked.
“I don’t know if Ron and Hermione are officially a couple yet, but they are planning on attending the Yule Ball together,” Charlie explained. “With Harry and Ginny joined at the hip, Ron and Hermione are often left alone together. It’s the same with Neville and Luna.”
They stood in the empty corridor.
“Luna was a fascinating student,” Remus remarked. “Her questions were always quite interesting.”
Charlie nodded. “She’s brilliant with magical creatures. Calm, gentle, naturally intuitive.” He cleared his throat. “A bit unusually interested in their mating habits, but a wonderful student.”
Bill leaned closer to his brother and grinned suddenly. “So, how’s Anna?”
“Yeah, I can tell by the bite mark on your neck.”
Charlie’s eyes widened as he clapped his hand on his neck. He had obviously forgotten to check if he needed bruise paste that morning.
“And, on that note, I’m going to the Three Broomsticks for a drink,” Remus announced.
Sirius’s barking laughter followed his friend along the corridor.
Lucius rolled onto his back and stared up at the ornate ceiling. Pain continued to pulse through his body, making muscles twitch and joints ache. The room was blessedly empty -- but he dared not linger, not even in the library of his own home. This place had once been his castle; his refuge. That had all ended upon his release from Azkaban. He now realized how foolish he was to believe that once he was freed of the prison, his nightmare would end. Truly, his nightmare had begun with his return to Malfoy Manor. His ancestral home was no longer his. The Dark Lord now presided over every meal in the dining room, every meeting in the study, every encounter in the drawing room.
Closing his eyes, he forced himself to clamber to his feet, to stagger out of the room of his most recent torture. The Dark Lord was still angry that his wand had been trampled under the feet of the fleeing girls. How that was Lucius’s fault remained a mystery. The Dark Lord had not immediately noticed the absence since he had used Lucius’s own wand to Crucio him after the girls vanished. Judging by the powerful tremors still jolting through his body, the new wand Ollivander had made was working well enough. He had no idea how the Dark Lord’s wand had ended up in the space where Ginny Weasley and Anna Henry had disappeared. He didn’t know whether they had purposely broken his wand or done it accidently.
Lucius only knew that he was grateful his wife had fled with their son. How she had realized the need to leave Britain, he could not begin to guess. His wife had always been highly astute, far more than he was. She exhibited all the best traits of Slytherin House, self-preservation, cunning, unfailing determination, and clever resourcefulness. At least Narcissa remained in Finland ostensibly visiting and helping to care for an old friend in declining health, while his son attended the Durmstrang Institute. He could not conceive of the horror of her being in their home, witnessing his humiliation. It would be even worse if he was forced to witness her being punished for his failures.
Finally reaching his bed chamber, he collapsed fully clothed onto the soft bedding. He could still vaguely perceive her scent within the confines of this room. His gaze wandered to their wedding portrait hanging on the wall. Her smile frequently haunted his dreams. The memory of her gentle touch and loving whispers filled the space. His breathing slowed as he dwelled upon everything that was perfect and beautiful about his wife. His last thoughts before sleep claimed him included the hope that she would never return.
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