|SIYE Time:3:25 on 17th August 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: 27325; Chapter Total: 382
Awards: View Trophy Room
Sincere apologies for the long delay between chapters. The truth is rather uninspiring (multiple doctor's appointments, minor surgery, waiting for biopsy results, waiting for stitches to be removed), so I've imagined many more pleasant alternatives. Let's pretend I spent a month in Africa on safari, or perhaps I sailed around the Chesapeake Bay on a small yacht! I'm open to suggestions :) Thank you to everyone who has been reading and reviewing and to my beta, Arnel.
Ginny giggled as Harry pulled her through the doorway into the Room of Requirement. With a few passes of the blank wall opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, he had created their usual lovely room. It contained a roaring fire in the hearth, a plush sofa situated several feet away, and a large bed covered by a thick maroon quilt. This had become their new favorite location for private moments after abandoning the wintery chill of the Astronomy Tower several weeks ago. As the door vanished, Harry pushed her gently against the stone wall, kissing her with enthusiasm and growing expertise. His hands clasped her wrists, loosely holding them on either side of her head as he pressed his body firmly against hers.
Harry and Ginny had learned a great deal about how to please one another physically over the past few months. They knew the touches that could offer comfort and loving devotion, as well as those that could drive the other wild with desire. Harry recognized exactly where to nibble on her neck and her shoulders to make her gasp, exactly how much pressure she most enjoyed. Ginny realized that firm caresses on his back and hips while they were kissing could easily encourage her boyfriend to lose control and push past the next step of their intimate relationship. They had been exceeding boundaries steadily for a while now, and she wanted to push past the last one tonight. She needed to cross the line with him tonight, before it was too late.
“Harry.” She moaned as she rapidly unbuttoned his shirt, pulling it off his shoulders and down his arms to fall on the floor next to his tie and black school robe. Stroking his bare chest and back, she leaned forward to press her lips against his warm skin, savoring the feel of being in his arms.
Harry groaned as his fingers deftly removed her own blouse, slowing only when they encountered the lace of her cream-colored bra. He lifted her chin with one hand and stared into her eyes as he slowly rubbed his thumb over the hardened peaks of each of her breasts. A whimper of delight escaped her lips.
“You are so beautiful,” he whispered hoarsely. His lips captured hers in a tender kiss that rapidly escalated into rough and demanding. His tongue slid into her mouth as his hands glided over her curves, alternating between light caresses and taut squeezes. He was panting heavily by the time he broke the kiss and eased back in an obvious attempt to control himself.
Ginny bit her lower lip before reaching behind her back to unhook her bra. She released the garment just as Harry’s eyes widened and his hands pressed firmly over the fabric wrapping around her torso.
“Ginny! What —"
“I want you to make love to me, Harry,” she said quickly. “Tomorrow…” She swallowed hard as tears threatened to prick her vision. “I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t want to die not knowing…” A few tears began to trail down her cheeks as she finally voiced the fear that had been consuming her for weeks. Wiping them away in frustration, she took a deep breath. “I love you, Harry! I love you so much, and if one or both of us doesn’t make it through tomorrow….”
“Shhh!” Harry rubbed her back soothingly for a moment before his fingers located her bra straps and hooked them with more dexterity than she would have thought possible. He gazed at her silently for a few minutes as he carefully wiped the tears from her cheeks and waited for her to regain her composure.
“Ginny, I love you more than anything in the world.” Harry peered at her intently. “I don’t want our first time together to be because we’re afraid.”
She swallowed the lump in her throat and stroked his cheek. “You know everyone else is having sex tonight. Bill and Fleur, Charlie and Anna, Hermione and Ron…probably even Mum and Dad. Maybe even Neville and Luna!”
Harry chuckled as he shook his head slightly. “Thanks, Ginny! I really needed all of that in my mind.”
She laughed along with him, a rather hysterical sound that quickly subsided. “It’s what people do, when they’re afraid, when they want to express their feelings for one another.”
“I think…” He paused as he stared into the fire for a moment before focusing his attention on her once more. “I think making love is a beautiful way to reassure a partner, but only in a relationship that already has that level of intimacy.” Harry gripped her shoulder with one hand while the other threaded through the hair at the back of her neck. “Ginny, when we make love completely for the first time, whether that’s a month from now, a year from now, or on our wedding night, I want it to be because we’re ready -- truly and completely ready.”
Ginny pursed her lips in slight frustration as she pondered her boyfriend. “Sometimes I really do wish you were a bit less noble. Releasing some tension wouldn’t be such a bad thing the night before we have to face our worst nightmare.”
Harry smirked as his hands trailed slowly down her body. “I have no intention of being completely noble tonight.”
“So long as my bra and knickers are on?” she asked.
He chuckled. “I fully admit my fingers might wander under those a bit, and I solemnly swear to help relieve your tension as best as I can manage.”
Ginny smiled. “Sounds like a good plan.”
A flash of blue light briefly appeared as an old silk parasol fell to the floor of the small sitting room at his home in Spinner’s End. His guests landed gracefully by the threadbare sofa in the middle of the sparsely decorated room. A small fire blazed in the hearth to ward off the winter chill, while a few candles provided relief from the general darkness of the space.
“Severus.” Narcissa’s smile was a bit strained in her pale face. “Thank you for allowing us to come, and for meeting us here.” The long blonde hair that usually trailed down her back was twisted and secured by an ornate silver hair comb.
He inclined his head slightly in greeting before stepping forward to help her remove the heavy black cloak from her shoulders. “You are always welcome, Narcissa.” Turning to his other guest, Severus raised an eyebrow. “I was unaware you would be joining us, Draco.”
“Mother is not well enough to attempt this on her own,” Draco said. “I’ll be going into Malfoy Manor with her.”
Severus glanced towards Narcissa with a small frown on his face. She was, in fact, paler and thinner than he could ever remember seeing her. “Have you been ill, Narcissa?”
She pursed her lips. “There is nothing seriously wrong with me.” Her eyelids closed briefly, and she pressed her fingertips against them. “It has been a difficult year. I’m managing.” With a sigh, Narcissa attained a position of formal rigidity -- almost, but not quite pulling off the haughty look she had mastered a decade ago.
Severus peered at his former student and noticed that Draco barely managed to refrain an eye roll and that his jaw was locked, a muscle twitching in obvious irritation.
“I would offer wine but given the lateness of the hour and the task we will embark upon all too soon, perhaps tea would be more beneficial,” Severus suggested.
Narcissa inclined her head politely and sank into the soft cushions of an old wingback chair by the fire.
He soon returned with their refreshments and talk turned to the exact timing and execution of their part of the plan to infiltrate Malfoy Manor.
“Is Father well enough to run and to fight if necessary?” Draco inquired.
“I believe so,” Severus said. “A wizard of his knowledge and experience does not lose the ability to survive a duel just because he has been denied the use of a wand for several months. I must admit though that his strength and endurance is not what it once was. The effects of regularly suffering the Cruciatus Curse over a prolonged period of time are not negligible.”
Narcissa blinked her eyes rapidly for a moment but did not allow a tear to fall. “You did see Lucius recently though. He is–"
“I attended a meeting at the Manor several hours ago and was seated quite near him. He appeared in reasonable health and was about to retire for the evening when I departed.”
At her nod and slow exhale, Severus continued. “I cannot tell you precisely who or how many remained to spend the night at the Manor. The Dark Lord, the Lestranges, Dolohov, and Rowle are almost always in residence. Others, including Greyback, Yaxley, and Rookwood, are regular, but not permanent guests. A dozen others occasionally spend the night, especially after a meeting like the one last night, in which the Dark Lord was in a positive frame of mind and wine flowed quite freely. The only prisoner being held in the dungeons at this time is Ollivander.”
“We’ll try to release him and lead him safely out of the Manor,” Narcissa said. “The safest passages and ones least likely to be known and guarded are quite close to the dungeons.”
Draco frowned. “Not that I have anything against trying to save the wand-maker, but wouldn’t it be wiser for us to hide in the safe room off the library. We can take the secret staircase from the master suite to the library without much chance of being discovered. Only Father and I can access that particular room, so we can remain there until the battle is over.”
“You’re assuming the Dark Lord will lose,” his mother said.
“Won’t he?” Draco’s eyes widened in alarm. “Mother, you assured me that he would be defeated. You do understand if he survives this attack, he may realize our part in it and come after us.”
“We have no choice, Draco!” Narcissa exclaimed, her agitation evident as she rose from her chair and waved her hands. “Your father won’t live much longer. Once he fell out of the Dark Lord’s favor, it was clear to me that his life and your life would be forfeit.”
Severus cleared his throat. “Draco, I truly believe this plan is the best chance for ever defeating the Dark Lord. If I wasn’t confident, I wouldn’t be involved.” He paused and waited for his words to have the desired effect. Narcissa resumed her seat and his former student exhaled loudly. “Having said that, I strongly recommend you do everything in your power to escape Malfoy Manor as quickly as possible after finding your father. If you can release Ollivander, please do so. His talent is too vital to the wizarding community to be lost forever.” He rubbed his chin. “Don’t even consider hiding in any room in the house. Though I have not been told the entire plan for my own protection, Albus has been very clear in his belief that much of the Manor will be completely destroyed.”
“Our home —” Draco began.
“Is already lost,” Narcissa finished quietly. “It was lost the moment the Dark Lord took possession of it.”
Draco stared at the fire in silence for a moment while his mother sipped her tea. “May I ask what you will be doing, sir, during the attack?”
“The Headmaster believes I, as well as many others, will be summoned by the Dark Lord once he realizes they’re under attack,” Severus explained. “What actions I will have to take once I arrive on the scene depend upon what is happening and who is closest to me. Ultimately, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter permanently eradicate the Dark Lord.”
“Even if you have to kill friends?” Draco asked.
“Sadly, many Death Eaters have by now realized the folly of ever agreeing to become what they are,” he murmured. “Only the most foolish could possibly believe they have any friends among the ranks. Once they understand the battle they’ll be facing, my hope is that some will chose to flee–a few may even choose to suddenly switch sides.” He raised an eyebrow as he peered at his former student. “Regardless, we are at war. I will do what I have to do, and I hope you do the same.” He glanced at the clock. “In the meantime, we have a few hours to rest before it all begins. I suggest we make the most of that time.”
“Dobby!” Ron paused and looked about expectantly for a moment before inhaling to call again. Hermione frowned as she, too, glanced around, torn between nervous excitement and absolute terror. She understood and agreed with Ron’s arguments about why someone had to infiltrate Malfoy Manor before the wards fell to locate and kill the snake, Nagini -- the last of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Still, the memories of the battle at the Department of Mysteries haunted her. She wasn’t too proud to admit fear in the task that lay before them. Hermione didn’t doubt the determination or the ability of Ron and Neville to find and destroy the snake. She simply wasn’t comfortable watching the boys go alone.
The crack of house-elf Apparition interrupted the silence around them. The four teens had ventured off to an empty area in the densely packed woods north of the Manor. Green eyes peered about in quiet confusion before the diminutive house-elf settled his gaze.
“Harry Potter’s Wheezy! How can I help you, sir?” Dobby asked.
Ron smiled and sank to his knees. “Dobby, I need you to do me a favor that will help Harry Potter defeat You-Know-Who.”
The small elf’s eyes bulged making his reverence for Harry clear, as well as his willingness to take on any task in his name. “Anything, sir!”
“Take Neville and me to a room in Malfoy Manor that is likely to be empty,” Ron requested.
Dobby’s nervous glance swept from the two wizards to Hermione and Luna before returning once more to Ron. Clearly ‘anything’ had been too great of an expectation. “Sir?” he croaked.
Neville knelt and smiled at the house-elf. “Dobby, we just need you to drop us off at the Manor. We don’t need you to stay. You’ll only be there for a moment. After you take us there you can go back to Hogwarts.”
Luna hummed loudly as her wide silvery eyes met those of her boyfriend.
“Or,” Neville continued. “Perhaps you could come back to the ladies and assure them that you left us off safely in an empty room?”
Luna smiled her approval as she gently ran her fingers through Neville’s hair.
“Harry Potter would want me to do this, sir?” Dobby asked.
Ron nodded. “Harry will be at the Manor himself in just an hour or two. Neville and I want to make sure it is safer before he arrives. You know Harry! He lands himself in dangerous situations all the time without even trying. We just want to help keep him safe.” The sincerity in her boyfriend’s tone could not be mistaken.
Dobby’s lips pursed, and his chin lifted. Hermione knew in that instant the boys had won the point. As the house-elf reached a hand out to each of the wizards preparing to Apparate them to Malfoy Manor, Hermione felt Luna’s hand grasp her own.
With a sharp crack, Dobby, Ron, and Neville vanished into the night.
Luna sighed softly and smiled at her. Hermione tried to smile back but was afraid she failed miserably.
After a few minutes, Luna turned to take her other hand as well. “Are you ready?”
“Ready?” Hermione asked.
“To call Dobby,” Luna said. “Unless you would like me to?”
Hermione stared at the other witch for a full minute before a smile lit her face. “I’m ready.” She drew in a breath and confidently called, “Dobby!”
Another crack sounded as the house-elf appeared before them. “I was just coming to tell Harry Potter’s Wheezy’s friends that they are safe in an empty room on the ground floor.”
“Excellent work, Dobby!” Hermione praised. “Do you know where they plan to go next?”
He nodded agreeably. “Dobby told them to go up to the drawing room on the first floor.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Dobby thought he heard sounds from that room,” he confided.
“Well done, Dobby!” Luna stated serenely. “Please take us to the same room you left our boyfriends.”
Dobby nodded agreeably for a few seconds before the meaning of Luna’s words took hold. “But…” he shook his head in agitation.
“Please, sir.” Luna took his hand in both of hers. “Ron and Neville are marvelous wizards and we have complete confidence in them; however, they may need our help. Four are undoubtedly better than two.”
Hermione winced inwardly at the obvious manipulation of the house-elf, but she would not interfere. The idea of her boyfriend being in Malfoy Manor without her was too stressful to be endured. She needed to be there with him. For the first time, she truly understood Harry’s reliance on Ginny and acknowledged that she would never again be the first girl he turned to for anything. Strangely, she was utterly comfortable with the realization.
“Dobby.” Hermione knelt beside Luna and smiled at the house-elf. “Please take us to our boys.”
Dobby’s wide green eyes moved between the two witches before he nodded solemnly. A moment later, with a sharp crack, they disappeared from the cold, dark forest.
Arthur continued to stare at his eldest son as he worked to dismantle the wards of Malfoy Manor. He forced his mind to remain in the present and to avoid thoughts of Bill as an infant at his wife’s breast; as a toddler stumbling around the house and saying his first words; as a big brother teaching the younger ones how to collect eggs from the henhouse; how to swim in the pond; how to de-gnome the garden. Glancing at his wife, he could see the strain on Molly’s face. Her gaze was darting between her son and his fiancé as it had been for the past three hours. Fleur’s right hand was clasped tightly in Bill’s left while he drew on the power of their bond to repeatedly cast spells with his wand arm. After a moment, Arthur realized Molly’s gaze was darting more quickly and with far more concern than it had previously.
Fleur was swaying on her feet. Her eyes were closed and her skin was looking more luminous -- yet more pale -- with each passing minute. The witch’s lips were parted, but she looked to be barely breathing. Arthur’s focus returned to his son just in time to see the young curse-breaker’s jaw clench as Fleur sank gracefully to her knees. His son’s focus didn’t seem to waiver, though Arthur had no doubt Bill realized Fleur’s magical energy was waning.
Arthur shot an alarmed look at Albus Dumbledore who was watching the proceedings with his usual calm visage. His own jaw clenched, and he was about to question the other man when he noticed a wisp of light energy leave Albus’s wand and strike Fleur in the back. Immediately, the witch’s exhalations were more pronounced, and her cheeks appeared to regain their color.
“Ten,” Bill hissed through gritted teeth before continuing the endless spell casting that had made one layer of the wards after another fall over the past three hours. Arthur barely comprehended the complexity of what his eldest son was accomplishing, but he could see the thin strings that were all that was left of the wards hovering in the air waiting to be severed just as Bill had described.
Albus’s phoenix Patronus suddenly lit the prevailing darkness and after a few whispered words was soon soaring through the night.
Arthur closed his eyes briefly. Ten. Ten minutes until the wards would fall. The phoenix Patronus was the signal for everyone to prepare for the first wave of the attack. Only his firm belief in the power of light to overcome darkness allowed Arthur to overcome the fear threatening to overwhelm him. Five of his sons, his daughter, his wife, two future daughters-in-law, his future son-in-law, and numerous friends were participating in this attack. Truly every person he knew and loved in the world was involved in this battle to the death. It was too much, and yet he knew he had no choice but to face it.
Forcing his eyes open and resolutely sending his wife a calm smile of reassurance, he grasped Molly’s hand just as Bill fell to his knees. Fleur sagged towards him as his son cast the last few spells before viciously swiping his wand through the air, cutting the thin threads and causing the earth to shudder beneath them.
The wards protecting Malfoy Manor were down.
Arthur was about to pull Molly forward to check on Bill and Fleur when the eerie shriek of multiple dragons made everyone pause and look up.
The sight of five Welsh Greens soaring through the air a mere hundred feet above them was enough to paralyze every onlooker. The green skin of the dragons glowed in the vague light of the approaching dawn. They flew in such close formation that their wings seemed to nearly connect with one another as they glided towards the manor house. Arthur swallowed with difficulty at the thought of Charlie and Anna riding on the lead dragon. An ominous call resounded through the night.
“Oh, Arthur!” Molly whimpered as she clung to him.
All five dragons were simultaneously breathing fire in a glowing inferno that set the entire top floor of the Manor ablaze. Arthur instantly comprehended that the ominous call of a moment before was his second son ordering the dragons to release fire. The attack of Malfoy Manor had begun.
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