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SIYE Time:22:53 on 20th October 2018


Darkness Within II
By MollyandArthur

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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
Rating: R
Reviews: 215
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: 29831; Chapter Total: 644
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Thank you all for your patience with this story. Family medical issues have slowed down my writing, but fortunately not stalled it completely! Hope you all enjoy this chapter and thanks as always to my beta, Arnel.




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Chapter 36

Preparations

Harry closed his eyes and focused on the feel of Ginny’s hand in his own. Her skin was smooth and soft. He rubbed his thumb gently along her palm and felt his lips twitch as he noticed a callous — undoubtedly caused by their Quidditch practice the previous evening. His Gin was no shrinking violet. She was tough and fierce — a true survivor. He sobered instantly at the thought. Her hand was so small in his. He should be protecting her, not planning on using her as an extra power source in his fight against Voldemort.

Not for the first time, Harry wondered if this was truly necessary. Perhaps the entire purpose of their magical bond was to force the bit of Riddle’s soul from his body. Perhaps he didn’t need Ginny to be at the confrontation Dumbledore was planning at Malfoy Manor. Perhaps he could talk her into staying behind at Hogwarts where she would be safe. Surely her parents would support the idea if he proposed it.

He exhaled slowly. Ginny would flay him alive for even suggesting such a thing. She would be at the battle, along with the rest of her family, their closest friends, and every member of the Order of the Phoenix.

“I don’t feel anything,” Ginny murmured.

“That’s okay,” Bill said. “It takes some time to even discern the magic in another person, let alone draw it from them. Harry, do you notice a sort of hum, like a vibration? It might tingle somewhat or even burn slightly.”

Harry nodded without opening his eyes. He could feel the magic flowing through Ginny. In truth he could always feel it — that thrum of magical current moving through her. He had felt it in every magical person he had ever touched and never realized that was unusual until now. He wasn’t about to admit to that. He didn’t need anything else to mark him as being different. This was yet another example of his general lack of knowledge about the magical world. Being raised most of his life in a Muggle household, he didn’t understand that wizards generally could not feel magic in others. It was like the Parselmouth incident of second year all over again, except this time he was keeping his mouth shut.

“Very good, Harry.” Fleur’s melodic voice sounded close to his ear. “Now try to pull that vibration towards you. Think of it as being a long rubber band. Draw it slowly from Ginny.”

Harry breathed steadily, focusing on the warmth of Ginny’s hand and on the magic coursing through her. He wasn’t at all sure he wanted to do this — wasn’t at all sure he should be trying to do this. Giving her hand a gentle squeeze, he finally followed Bill and Fleur’s directions. He bit back a sigh of contentment at the sensation of his girlfriend’s magic entering his body. No one had mentioned how it would actually feel to draw magic from someone else.

Merlin! It was intoxicating.

He swallowed convulsively and attempted to focus on the task at hand. He was supposed to try to meld her magic with his own. The goal was to use their combined power in a spell. His brain couldn’t function. He couldn’t even remember the hex he was supposed to be casting. The warmth of her magic surrounded him, entwining with his and moving swiftly through his body. He had never imagined drawing magic from Ginny would feel anything remotely like this. The sense of completion - of utter belonging - was overwhelming. Nothing mattered other than this incredible feeling of connectedness.

“Harry! Ease off. Now!” Bill ordered.

Harry’s eyes popped open and fixed on Ginny. Her eyelids fluttered and her lips were parted as she took a shallow breath. She swayed as though she was struggling to remain upright.

“Ginny!” Harry pushed their combined magic forcefully into her as he wrapped his wand arm around her torso.

She gasped as though she’d just surfaced from holding her breath under water for entirely too long. Two bright spots of color appeared on her otherwise pale face.

“Alright, there?” Bill placed a hand on each of their shoulders, squeezing firmly.

Harry blinked and nodded, staring at Ginny and trying to process what they had just experienced. It had almost felt…he blushed at his own thoughts, but quickly tried to quell that idea. The feeling had been similar, but distinctly different.

“An interesting sensation, no?” Fleur smirked knowingly.

Harry shifted his gaze to the floor and tried to master his wayward impressions.

“Is it supposed to be kind of like…well…um…?” Ginny stammered to a halt.

Fleur giggled while Bill muttered incoherently about baby sisters and really not wanting to know.

“Stop scowling!” Fleur ordered in a decidedly teasing tone.

Harry glanced up and saw that Bill was indeed scowling. Ginny looked slightly bewildered, and Fleur appeared entirely too amused.

“The experience is indeed quite sensual, but not exactly orgasmic, yes?” Fleur said.

Ginny nodded thoughtfully. “More like a really good massage and a warm bath after a brutal game of Quidditch combined with chicken noodle soup, a soft blanket, and a bedtime story from Mum when I’m sick.”

Bill sighed, and the tension drained rapidly from his face. “It’s a very comforting sensation. That is the danger more than anything else. It’s entirely too easy for the person drawing power to be lost in the pleasant feeling and keep sapping the other person’s magic until they pass out or stop breathing entirely.”

Harry’s eyes widened in horror as he finally understood the danger of what they were all attempting. “I can’t do this! If I hurt Ginny…” He shook his head. He could feel the fear, the complete panic rising and flooding his system.

“Harry!” Ginny hugged him tightly to her. “This is why we’re practicing with Bill and Fleur, so that we’ll be safe. It will be okay!”

Once again Harry felt the solid grip of Bill’s hand on his shoulder as well as the gentle patting of Fleur’s hand on his back.

“You’ll learn this, Harry,” Bill assured him. “Fleur and I were reckless doing this on our own for nearly a year, and we still managed.”

Fleur laughed. “The innocence of curiosity!”

Bill stroked her cheek. “The desire to protect your bond mate is stronger than anything else. Believe me — in a month you’ll be able to draw magic without feeling any loss of control at all. Then, we’ll just be working on how much magic you can pull safely and teaching you to direct it.”

Harry groaned and tightened his grip on Ginny. He bent down to press his face into her soft tresses and inhaled the flowery scent that was so distinctly hers. “I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you, too.” She tilted her head up and met his lips in a gentle caress.

Harry was quite sure as he deepened the kiss that neither cared about their audience.

xxxxx

Charlie woke for the second time that morning and stretched. His arms met empty sheets. Frowning, he sat up. His gaze focused unerringly on Anna. She was standing in knickers and a bra by the open armoire pulling out a simple shirt and pair of jeans.

“You’re up early,” he complained.

She raised one eyebrow. “It’s past nine. You told me last night you wanted to be at the Welsh Green Sanctuary by ten.”

He sighed as he rolled out of bed. As much as he wanted her beneath him one more time, he was excited to introduce her to the Welsh Greens, especially Emma. She was the lady he had carefully worked with over the past month and selected to be their lead dragon in the attack on Malfoy Manor.

As Anna pulled the shirt over her head and stepped into her jeans, Charlie felt somewhat more in control of his baser instincts — not that he was particularly happy about that.

He dressed quickly and thought about frying up some eggs and bacon for breakfast. Ultimately, he decided it would be easier to call for a house-elf to bring them up two plates of food from the kitchen.

“Any advice for me before I face…” Anna’s brow crinkled as she glanced towards the ceiling. “What was her name? Emma?”

Charlie smiled. “The most important fact to remember when working with dragons is that they can smell fear — literally. Mum used to always say that children are the same way. They can smell fear and use it against you if you let them. Try not to react to anything that happens. I have good control of the five you will be meeting today and the one we will be flying. They might posture a bit — put on a little show by snorting, growling, clawing at the ground.” He stroked her cheek gently. “You’ll be safe, love. I promise they won’t hurt you. They’ll settle down and behave better if you can maintain a persona of having seen it all before and not being impressed or unsettled by anything.”

“Charming!” she bit out. “I’ll pretend I’m Queen Victoria and go for the ‘we are not amused’ look.”

He cleared his throat to hide a chuckle. “How would you handle a misbehaving dog?”

Anna’s eyes flashed. “I’d grab it by the scruff of the neck before going for its throat and making it very clear that, whether an alpha or not, it has no control over me!”

“Handling dragons is not very different.” He smirked. “Just let me do the neck grabbing.”

“It’s completely different! The largest dog I ever had to…discipline still weighed less than me, not by much, but —”

“It’s not as different as you think,” Charlie explained. “Obviously dragons are huge, but with the help of a wand I can still basically grab them by the throat if need be and show them who is in control. Like dogs, they respond very well to positive reinforcement, whether praise or food is the reward. Also, like dogs there are few alphas. The vast majority are perfectly willing to follow directions.”

“I might be best off by using Occlumency and just going blank,” she admitted.

He nodded. “If that’s what you want to do, I completely support it, especially for this first flight. It will be better over time, Anna.” He pressed a soft kiss to her lips.

A house-elf appeared with their breakfast. Two plates of eggs, bacon and sausage were accompanied by a large stack of toast and a carafe of pumpkin juice.

Anna scowled at the plates before swallowing a flask of potion and grimacing slightly at the taste.

“What is that?” He gestured towards the empty container.

“Morning Sickness Potion.” Anna frowned as she glared at the flask. “It’s positively vile!”

Charlie felt his body going numb by degrees. His arms and legs were frozen in place. His torso was still, save for the pounding of his heart in his suddenly too small chest. His mind was an empty void — a blank slate of thought and emotion, right before the image of Anna with a rounded belly filled his being.

“You’re taking Morning Sickness Potion?” Charlie asked.

Anna nodded. “Our trip to the Welsh Green Sanctuary is going to be hard enough this morning. I really don’t want to vomit on the dragon, or on you.”

He rubbed his forehead as he stared at her, wondering how she could be so calm. “You’re pregnant.” Fear and elation battled as Charlie stared at her flat abdomen. The thought of his child growing in her womb was compelling, and yet so daunting.

“No!” Anna exclaimed, moving quickly towards him. “I’m not pregnant, Charlie. The potion reduces nausea. That’s all.”

He pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly against him.

“We both know I’m not the best flier, love,” Anna whispered. “I can’t handle so much movement well. The potion will help settle my stomach.”

Charlie nodded as he attempted to quell his emotions. As frightening as the initial thought was, he could admit to himself that he was somewhat disappointed.

“I know it would be awful timing. I mean we’re at war and we definitely need to be married first or Mum will flip, but…” He kissed her gently. “Is it wrong that part of me wants you to be growing with my child?”

Anna smiled and looked at him with watery eyes. “It’s never wrong to feel whatever you feel, but if you think I’d be careless with birth control when we’re at war, or that my grandmother’s contraception potion recipe would be anything other than perfect, you need to think again.”

Her tart response had him chuckling as his hand tentatively stroked her belly. “Some day?”

She nodded. “In a few years, I’d be perfectly happy to discuss this with you again.”

Charlie kissed her hungrily as he pulled her body flush against his own.

xxxxxx

Hermione looked up from her completed essay. She sighed with satisfaction. Her homework was done, and she was, as usual, ahead on all her assignments. Hermione wished she could say the same for Harry and Ron or could in fact even be certain they were prepared for tomorrow’s classes. Ever since Harry and Ginny had started dating, she had been less able to influence him in any way. The initial sting had passed quickly because she was so happy for them both. The magical bonding Harry and Ginny had recently experienced only made it worse. If it wasn’t for the obvious love and contentment of both, she would have tried to assert her influence. As it was, every time she felt compelled to start lecturing them about the importance of their school work, she tended to become side tracked by their happiness. It was both frustrating and endearing.

Peering across the nearly empty common room, her eyes quickly found her own boyfriend Ron staring at the same chess board he had been observing for almost two hours. He was sitting by himself having rebuffed a few offers from their fellow Gryffindors for a game. Frowning she watched him move a couple of pieces and mutter to himself before moving another piece. He stood and circled the board, his mouth moving occasionally. A permanent crinkle was etched between his eyebrows. Sitting back in his chair, he moved the pieces again and stroked his chin, clearly lost in thought.

Hermione watched him silently for several minutes before gathering her supplies and stuffing them back in her bag. Her heart was pounding in her chest and she didn’t understand the sudden fear that gripped her.

“Ron.” She laid a hand on the back of his neck as she set her bag on the floor beside his chair. “What are you doing?”

He glanced up and forced a smile as he pulled her carefully into his lap. “Just working out a few new moves.” He gestured towards the chess board.

Hermione focused on the board. She was lousy at chess and even she could see that it wasn’t set up properly for a match. White pieces were surrounding the black. Many had been removed and others duplicated in clear violation of the basic rules of chess. Three sets of white kings and queens graced the board, while far too many black knights were in attendance.

A quick scan of the common room showed that they were alone, nevertheless her voice came out in a whisper. “You’re working on the Headmaster’s plan. Aren’t you?”

He nodded grimly in silence.

“Will the plan fail?” Hermione closed her eyes as she verbalized her worst fear. She had come to know Ron first as a friend and then as a boyfriend. Having observed him for so many years, she knew his strengths as well as his weaknesses. While Ron was only a fair student and a decent Quidditch player, he was a brilliant chess player because he was an exceptional strategist. She valued his opinion.

“It’s about fifty-fifty, I reckon,” Ron admitted.

Hermione chewed her lip as she studied the board. “Have you found a way to make it better?”

He rubbed his chin before sighing and leaning back in the chair. “The way I see it, the snake is the problem. I figure Dumbledore’s right about it being the last Horcrux. You-Know-Who is going to have too much warning. He’ll know what’s happening the second those wards fall and will protect that snake with spells, wards…whatever he can quickly manage. Bill and Fleur won’t be able to do much. They’ll be pretty magically spent after overcoming the wards around Malfoy Manor. Anna will be with Charlie and the dragons, so she can’t help. Dumbledore will be busy with Harry and Ginny facing You-Know-Who. I don’t know that anyone who is particularly good with protective spells and wards will be available.”

Hermione nodded. “The Headmaster just said that whoever has the opportunity should try to kill the snake with a Severing Charm.”

“Yeah, and that’s not good enough!” Ron’s jaw clenched as he stared at the chess board. “If no one manages to kill the snake, Harry can defeat the bastard, but he’ll still survive and have the chance to rise again. The snake has to be killed before the invasion on the Manor.”

“How?” Hermione asked.

“Harry’s favorite house-elf,” Ron smirked. “Dobby belonged to the Malfoy family. He can easily Apparate into the house. House-elf magic is different. He can take Neville and me into the Manor just prior to the attack. We can find the snake and kill it before You-Know-Who knows they are in danger.”

“Have you spoken with Dobby about this?” she demanded.

Ron shrugged. “Not yet, but he’ll be willing. It’ll be a quick drop off for him, Hermione. He won’t be in any danger.”

She slapped her hand weakly at his shoulder. “He might not be, but you will be! And what about Neville!”

He rubbed her back in a slow circle. “I need someone to watch my back, love. Neville’s good with a wand and comfortable with house-elves. He’ll want to come the moment I explain the plan.”

Hermione’s gaze wandered frantically from her boyfriend to the chess board and back again. “Take me with you!”

Ron shook his head slowly. “Neville and I are both pure-blood wizards. If we’re caught, they won’t kill us. We’re young enough that they’ll try to convert us, try to make us join their cause. You’re a known Muggle-born, love. If they catch you…” His jaw clenched. “I don’t even want to think about what they might do to you.”

Tears flooded her vision as she shook her head angrily. “Please tell me you’re going to share this plan with someone!”

He pulled her tightly against his chest. “You know that’s a bad idea. Much better for Neville and me to disappear just before the wards fall. No one will even notice. We’ll have that snake dead by the time Charlie flies the dragons over and sets the Manor on fire.”

“Ron!” She clasped his face between her hands and searched his face, willing herself to memorize every line.

His lips descended on hers with a ferocity she had never experienced. As his tongue claimed her mouth and his hands wandered freely over her curves, she clung to his strength and willed the moment to last forever.

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