A/N Everything you recognise belongs to J. K. Rowling. Everything you don't, belongs to me. I know i have rated this story as MATURE, but be aware...there is "more mature stuff than usual" in this chapter. Read and enjoy :)
We had succumbed to darkness. It was eating us; biting into our flesh and making it bleed in fear and nostalgia. We had been in darkness before, but never had the darkness been as consuming as it was that night. And it was so quiet that if you permitted your ears to listen carefully, they could tell tales of frightened beating hearts. I opened my eyes...searched for the tiniest flicker of light, but there was nothing. Just darkness. I closed my eyes again and failed to see the difference. There was no hope.
I lingered between being awake and being into the strange land of confusion. My mind was showing me a wolf, running...running free through a summer forest, it’s silvery white and grey fur beating the wind as it’s heart raced with the joy of hunting. Strange...there was longing in me to be part of such a free and powerful creature. The cold sweat on my brows and lips made me thirsty as my temples were throbbing with pain. I remembered someone hitting me in the head, but nothing else. I kept seeing faces of people I did not recognise, disapproving faces, smiling faces, green eyed faces...sad faces. I tried to full my brain, swallowed my own saliva and pretended it was water.
My brain was not fooled and my sand dry paper throat screamed for water. Kicked at the walls of my gut with its fists and legs and cried for water...begged for water. I opened my eyes.
Someone’s gentle hands were over my face. It was as if I was a newly blind person. I could not get accustomed to not using my eyes and my reliance on my other senses was still numb. Eventually, the smell of sweat, blood and death reached my nose trills and made sit up and throw my hands in front of me in search for my surroundings.
“Anna.” Someone whispered my name and the gentle hands on my own frightened arms made me somewhat calmer.
“Is she okay?” said another voice, this one male. He seems further away from us and his voice was just above a whisper, echoing through
the room until it found us. “Harry!” I said and as soon as the name escaped my mouth, I was once again drowned by memories and thoughts. We were alive.
“Anna are you okay?” asked Hermione in a worried voice.
My hands automatically started feeling my body, searching for anything that might be wrong. The back of my head was a little swelled up and wet—probably blood—from when Ron had hit me. My arms and legs were fine...seemed thin and frail but they were fine.
And then my fingers ran over my bump and waited, in vain, for a kick to reassure me that the baby was okay. The silence feel on us once again, that deafening annoying silence that made our hearts converse in thuds. Mine was the loudest. There was no kick. There was no kick.
My eyes filled up with tears as my brain made up the worst kind of stories. I sniffled.
The gentle hand went on my shoulder again as Hermione whispered in my ear: “It’ll be okay.” I was glad it was dark, for I was afraid what sort of emotions my face might have shown.
“We need to get out of here!” I whispered, my voice just a little further away from madness. If there was any chance for anything to go right, we had to escape. But it was only then that I felt the big metal chain around my ankle. “We need to escape.” I said it again, because I knew it was next to impossible...yet the words seemed to reassure myself that there was still hope.
“They’ve taken our wands.” Said Harry in a weak voice and I wondered how badly he was hurt, for his voice was that of an old man that had reached the end of the world and came back again. “And...and the chains are draining our magical aura. We can’t perform wandless magic.”
“And he’s on his way.” Continued Harry and for the first time in ages I could hear the faint touch of fear. “I can feel him...he is excited. He is angry...he wants to kill me.” Harry’s voice was just above a whisper. “DAMN YOU RON!” he shouted and his voice echoed through the dungeon. “DAMN YOU!”
“Harry calm down!” there were sniffles in Hermione’s voice—she was crying.
“TRAITOR!” continued Harry and I felt how Hermione moved closer to him, probably put her arms around him, for Harry stopped shouting. I could feel the tension in the air becoming less prominent as his breathing started steadying. “You’re bleeding” said Harry.
“I know...” said Hermione. “It’s...it’s my cheek from where Bellatrix stepped on it with her hill. But I’m okay...we mustn’t think about this now.”
“We need to get out of here.” I whispered just to make sure Harry and Hermione were still considering my nearly impossible idea.
The dark clothed figure was making its way through the marine wind towards the small cottage at the top of the north easterly hill, where the grass grew yellow and the seagulls circled as if to warn the house against threats. As he got closer, he could feel the magical aura of the place increasing...the protection wards were so strong that he had to take out his wand and neutralise himself—for they were his wards—before he could take another step towards the door of the cottage.
Once in front of the door, he pressed his hand on the rusty doorknob and waited. From above him, clouds of relief rain were forming and he wondered whether the predictions were true for that night—whether there would really be a storm. He cast his eyes back upon the doorknob as a pale, misty substance came out, taking the frail shape of a miniature ghost. The ghost of a woman. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to not get all emotional. After all...there had been more than 18 years since he had last seen her. But when the ghostly figure became the image of the woman he so bitterly loved, and the prominent smell of lilies engulfed his senses, he could not deny his heart’s whish of a memory, a memory from such a long time ago that still evoked within him, the deepest of feelings.
“You didn’t have to punch him, Severus! You’re greeting violence with violence...” said Lily waking away from him, as if sulking over the fact that he had raised his fist towards James Potter’s nose before the Marauders jumped on him. Severus wiped away the blood coming out of his nose and refused to acknowledge the pain in his right arm.
“What was I supposed to do? Just stand there? I’m not a bloody girl, Lily and if James bloody Potter...”
“Stop it!” she said and turned to face him, red hair flying around her like fire and green eyes penetrating his soul. The empty potions classroom which was their secret sanctuary since they were about 11, was listening intently to the young magicians. “Stop it!” she repeated more softly, taking yet another step towards him.
“He kissed you , Lily!”said Severus, trying to hide away the pain and betrayal he felt towards her.
“But I never responded!” Lily’s voice had an edge of exasperation to it. “I never responded...”
“But you couldn’t just expect me to stand there and watch...oh what a lovely sight! The bloody prig is kissing you...maybe I should take a picture!” the sarcasm in his voice made Lily’s eyebrows knit together in disapproval.
“Shut it Snape! You know I never wanted it. And it wasn’t even a kiss...it was more like a barbaric cave man...”
“You’re jealous.” Said Lily and her eyes softened for a moment.
“I’m not jealous, Evans!” spat Severus looking utterly hurt and embarrassed. “I punched him because umm...he tried to kick me and youaretoogoodforhim.” He said in an almost inaudible voice because he went a very dark shade of red.”Before Black and Pettigrew jumped on me, that is, afraid that I might ruin Potter’s hair or something. Bloody prig...he can’t even fight his own battles. No wonder he...”
“Stop.” Said Lily in a soft voice. “I don’t like him, Sev, I thought you knew that.” She said coming closer to him and starting to clear the blood off his nose with a white handkerchief that smelled of lilies. The redness in Severus’ face seemed to have moved on the tip of his nose. “In fact...I was more than sure you knew there’s only one I like.” She looked around the room, playfully as if it were full of people. “But you must not tell him...because I don’t think he knows just how much I like him, silly boy!” she whispered and continued looking around. “And I need to tell you this...oh Sev, you’re my best friend, and I don’t think anyone else will understand.”
The expression on Sev’s face was that of hurt and anger. Pictures of Gryffindor male predators engulfed his mind...maybe it was Lupin...or Black. “Who?” he asked unable to retain himself any longer.
“Oh he’s brilliant! He’s a really great guy and I can’t picture myself with anyone else. You have to help me Sev...help me see into his heart.”
“Well I can think of a few spells...occlumency maybe...”
“Shh...I don’t want to bewitch him. I want to know if he feels the
same.” Said Lily placing a long, pale finger upon his lips. “And words would suffice.” She looked into his eyes, bright green orbs met the black night sky as she came closer. “Well? Do you?”
“Or maybe I could help you brew some potions....” he said trying to fake the hurt in his soul.
“Bloody hell, Snape, would it be simpler if I drew you a diagram? Why don’t you get it?” asked Lily exasperated and slightly bemused at
Sev’s reaction to her own.
“Get what?” he asked utterly confused and feeling utterly stupid. He was one of the smartest 6th years at Hogwarts, yet there he was, unable to see behind Lily’s words, as images of her and Potter kissing engulfed his mind and made him want to scream with jealousy.
“It’s you! You’re the one I like—love—Sev!”
“Oh.” He answered, his heart beating faster than he ever remembered, before Lily jumped on him and kissed him, passionately.
The smell of lilies haunted him right to that day and as he was standing in front of the cottage door, he could not help but smile at his childhood memories. At the feel of her soft, auburn hair in his hands and the soft lips upon his own. His eyes ran back on the petite ghost, as Lily’s voice rang from her mouth:
“Is your heart pure, wizard of mine?” she asked in a soft voice.
“It is, lady.” Said Snape in a tired voice, for all the things he did as a spy may have damaged his body and soul, but not his heart. His heart had always been hidden from his enemies and even from Dumbledore. His heart was the one thing he could not give up for the sake of others. For he had Edwin, safe in his heart, where no one could touch him. He had Lily in his heart, memories of her alive, engulfing him and giving him strength when he was suffering. He even cared about Potter’s brat, who was alone and in danger, because he knew what it was like to be a father...and soon a grandfather. Merlin, he was only one year shy of 38 and he was nearly a grandfather.
The petite ghost placed a pale hand over his heart—if his heart were pure, she would grant him entry into the cottage, yet if his heart betrayed him, his it would stop beating and he shall breathe no more. He had placed the safety charms over the cottage himself, but this—this ghost—has been Dumbledore’s “gift” to him, to aid him protect Edwin. The most advanced of advanced magic—magic that not even Voldemort himself could muster—magic that no Death Eater could dream of. And it was based on such simple rules...the ghost—Lily—would just look into the stranger’s heart and see them for who they were and what they had always intended with their actions. It took different forms, based upon each person’s weakness and in ancient magic books it was sometimes describes as a reversed Boggart—a Traggob.
“Wizard, your heart is injured. But it is pure, purer perhaps, than any heart I have seen in a long time. I shall grant thee entrance.” She said in her silky, soft voice and she disappeared into the night air as the door to the cottage opened. Severus Snape went in.
Edwin Snape was standing in front of the hallway, his hair sticking up in every direction, big purple circles under his eyes and blood around his knuckles as if he had constantly punched the walls in an attempt to get away. His white shirt was ripped at the collar as if it were suffocating him and the hate inside his eyes seemed to have somehow, hidden away since the last time Severus Snape had seen him.
“Dad.” Was all that Edwin said upon seeing the tall wizard in front of himself. But there was no irony in his voice...no sarcasm. He had said the word as if he had truly meant it and the way in which he looked at Severus deceived hatred. Severus raised his eyebrows in a questioning glare—he surely did not expect Edwin to respond in such a way, but nevertheless, he was happy and he even let a small smile escape his emotionless mask. “Hello, Edwin.” His silky voice ran over the walls and the shadows in dark corners seemed to have disappeared, as if the house remembered him from a long time ago, when his life was less complicated.
Then, as often happen between father and son who feel alienated from each other, an awkward silence followed. Edwin was standing with his hands picking the edge of his shirt, just like a toddler about to ask for something which he knows is forbidden.
Snape eyed him for a brief moment, and then he started unbuttoning his dark travel mantle, throwing it on a nearby ageing chair carelessly. He walked across the hall, patting Edwin awkwardly on the shoulder and then sitting down on the living room sofa, the chimney firelight playing onto his face, excited with the new shapes it encountered on the new comer.
It was only a matter of seconds before Edwin sat down on the opposite sofa, eyeing his father with Lily’s green eyes—the eyes Severus could never refuse no matter what.
“Why—may I ask—are you staring at me like that, boy?” asked Severus rather uncomfortable at the slightly neutrally sweet look his son was giving him. “I was under the impression you despised me.” He finished, his silky voice not betraying the sourness his students were so accustomed to.
“Oh, I do despise you.” Said Edwin in a playful voice. “And yet I am not inclined to start an argument right now—there are by far more important matters I wish to discuss with you.” Said Edwin looking at his hands for a while, before bringing himself to look into Snape’s eyes one more.
“I see.” Said Severus in his usual sour voice. “So I am to understand that you are trying to bribe your way to me in order to achieve what it is that you desire.” He lay back on the sofa and made his back more comfortable—after all, it had been a long journey and he wasn’t twenty any more. “Foolish boy...haven’t you learnt anything while you have been here?” asked Snap slightly annoyed at his son’s ideas of manipulation. Or rather, as he thought to himself, afraid of the fact that the boy—young man—was to take after him after all.
“Oh, I have learnt a great deal. Especially from you. You have been such a fine example of...let’s see...running away from problems or rather, locking them up!” he said and this time the sweetness of his voice was deceived by the hatred in his eyes.
“ENOUGH!” bellowed Snape. Edwin’s eyes went wide—he certainly didn’t believe he would respond like that. Severus Snape stood up from the sofa and with a swift movement dragged the boy up from the opposite couch by his collar. Edwin looked rather frightened for a moment, before remembering he was not supposed to be afraid of Snape. He was supposed to stand up to Snape if he was ever to get away.
“So you think you know me so well, do you not Mr Snape?” asked Severus in his silky, deadly voice that sent many first years out of the Potions classroom in tears. “I advise you not to play with fire if you don’t know the spell to put it out.”
“Let go of me!” snapped Edwin trying to break free from Snape’s strong grip. It was in vain, for the older wizard was far too angry to let go.
“I’m not finished yet!” the calmness in Snape’s voice was not deceiving the fact that he was rather angry and the way in which he had said that sentence made Edwin stop struggling and look into his father’s eyes once more. “You can take me for anything you want. But don’t you dare call me a coward! Don’t you dare!” he hissed. “All my life I have made sacrifices for us—for you...”
“Like what? Trapping me in a bloody painting?” snapped Edwin trying to get free again.
“YES!” Bellowed Snape. “Yes. Trapping you into a painting to keep you alive!” He let go of the younger Snape’s collar and looked him in the eye before starting to make his way towards the stairs.
Severus stopped walking but did not turn around. He was debating whether he should hear what his son wanted to say, or ignore it. The latter seemed to be slightly more appealing, especially as he could feel the little hands of a headache starting to pull at his temples, making them throb and twist. He started walking again.
“Please.” Said Edwin in a weaker voice and the helplessness in his voice made Severus turn around and look at him again.
“I need your help.”
Snape raised his eyebrows. “How dare you...”
“It’s about Anna. I think she’s in big trouble.”
The notion of time was lost. I did not know how many hours had passed. Or days. The only things that reminded me I was alive was my annoyingly full bladder and Harry and Hermione’s tensed breathing as they finally fell asleep out of exhaustion. I breathed in. Breathed out. Touched my belly every now and then, hoping, in vain, that my baby will kick. But more hours followed, my eyelids became heavier and there was no kick. I tried not to think about it, forcing myself to think of a way out of the situation we were in. But it was awfully hard to keep optimistic and there was a point when I wondered whether we were surrounded by dementors. But it was not cold—rather it was very warm and steamy and I presumed the prison was seated above a magically-kept-warm water tank. The sweat was forming on my eyebrows and I felt the need to drink water. The metal chain around my ankle seemed to be stealing away the magic that resided within me. I started despairing.
I do not know how it happened or when it happened, but I somehow fell asleep only to be woken up by the sound of approaching footsteps. Hills. I sat up and tried to hide inside the wall that was stuck to my sweaty back. And then the door opened and a blast of yellow light came in, making me shut my eyes. When I opened them again, the room was lumosed by Lucius Malfoy’s wand and there was more than enough light for me to see Bellatrix smiling at us in the doorway as if she were the slaughterer and we were the lambs.
Lucius cast me a glare for a moment and then he turned his attention towards Harry who looked like he wanted to break their necks if only he were free and if only Hermione were not squishing his hand to stay calm.
“Play time!” hissed Bellatrix, taking her wand out.
More like torture time before murder time. So this is how I was going to end...at the hands of the same people who had killed my mother and set the beasts on my brother to steal his soul. I just hoped it will end fast and I tried not to think of my child who might have had a life. Tried not to think of Edwin...
“I’ll take Rider.” The deep voice of Lucius Malfoy made me open my eyes and look utterly disgusted and scared. I wished he could just kill me there and then. But the sick smile on his face made my stomach twist and turn inside of me.
“No...” I said in a barely audible voice, but with a flick of his wand the chain around my ankle opened and he dragged me up by my upper arm before forcing me out of the room despite Harry’s mad screams to leave me alone. A red light followed and both Hermione and Harry started screaming, but the sound of their voices became quieter and quieter as Lucius Malfoy threw me into an empty room, on the floor.
At his feet.
I looked up at him, a mixture of fear and anger washing over my face every time our eyes met. He didn’t say or do anything for a moment, but then he started coming towards me. Slowly. I backed away until I reached a wall and could go no further. I was trapped.
His hand went in my hair as he dragged me to my feet, my back sticking to the wall behind me where the paper was peeling off. I could feel it on my back, sticking in between my rib cage. Malfoy came closer. I was trapped between the wall and Lucius and I could feel his hot breath on my face, his hand on my neck. I looked up and saw lust into his eyes. So I had been right...he did rape his victims before he cast the spell to steal their lives.
His hand went down from my neck to my breast. He started stroking, as he was unbuttoning my shirt. I screamed and tears sprinted from my eyes, but it was just too easy for him to cast a silencing charm. It stopped my cries, but not my tears. I tried to kick him, punch him...bite him. But he held both my hands with one of his, above my head, as he started kissing my neck. His other hand went up and down my legs as he started undoing his own trousers. More tears came out. He had a son...a son who was four months older than me. What kind of man was he? Not even a beast would do that. His arms went over my abdomen, pushing up at my bra, about to open it...when he felt my bump. He stopped kissing my neck and looked down. An evil smile appeared on his face as he threw me on the floor. Hard. He was about to come over me, but I kicked him in his stomach with my sneakers. He moaned and fell back.
I stood up and started running towards the door, stripes of my shirt floating from me, as if I had been in a cage with a beast. But I wasn’t quick enough. He caught my hair and threw me on the old double bed of the room, once again flying on top of me. He was heavy and big, his muscular arms trapping me down as he finished taking off his belt. His long hair was falling over me like a curtain of death, the smell of poisonous ivory shampoo filling my nose trills. I couldn’t breathe. The air was trapped inside my throat and it was only a matter of moments before I started gagging for air. Merlin had made air my enemy through the curse of asthma.
When Lucius looked at me again he seemed utterly annoyed. He wacked my face and blood came out of my mouth. I didn’t succumb to unconsciousness, but my vision became blurry for a while as my organs were screaming for air and my chest started hurting. When it became clear again, I saw his Death Eater tattoo become more prominent. Voldemort was coming. Bellatrix appeared in the doorway, satisfaction on her face...my vision blurred.... she looked at me gagging for air on the old bed, only my bra and my striped off shirt covering me.
“Game over, Luce...he wants all of them alive.” She said and came towards me taking out her wand. A blue light followed and my lungs were filled with air. I breathed it...breathed for me and for something else that I hoped was still alive. Bellatrix went away laughing madly and saying something about Voldemort.
Lucius dragged me to my feet and took me down towards the dungeons. He seemed annoyed that Bellatrix had interrupted his little game, but before he threw me on the floor of my prison carelessly, he muttered: “Next time Rider, you won’t be so lucky.” With a flick of his wand the chain was once more on my ankle, draining my magical aura.
The last thing I saw were a pair of green eyes watching me from the other side of the room, looking as if there was nothing more in the world that would give him greater satisfaction than killing Lucius Malfoy. Then darkness.
That night I didn’t cry. I stood there in the darkness, my nearly empty back sticking to the stone wall...thinking. Thinking. There must be a way. I paid no attention to Hermione or Harry’s desperate questions. I didn’t answer. I just thought and before I fell asleep once more I could swear I heard my brain breathing hard.
“Rider.” I was at Hogwarts...waking up from a bad dream on a Saturday morning, while Snape’s snappy voice was frowning at me for not handing in my essay. Strange...a baby was crying in the back of my head but I just couldn’t remember who the baby was. I pulled the pillow over my head and whished Snape could stop calling my voice.
“Anna!" he said again, in a softer voice. I groaned. “Merlin’s beard Rider, wake up or you’ll die!” he snapped and I opened my eyes. It was dark. I wasn’t at Hogwarts. I wasn’t dreaming. And the voice in my head didn’t cease.
“Rider listen to me. We haven’t got long. There’s a way to get out. Listen carefully.” I was bewildered at the fact that Severus Snape was talking to me in my head. Was I going mad? Probably. But mad or not, maybe this voice had an idea of how to escape. “Stop debating whether you are sane or not, Rider, Merlin’s sake listen to me!” Okay...this was Severus Snape.
“Outside this room there are two Death Eaters. They’re young and not very big. You could take them easily. When you escape take their wands because all of yours were snapped in half.” My heart cringed at that and I tried not to swear. How was I to get out and fight two adult males by myself, with no wand? I wondered what Harry’s reaction would be...
“Rider there’s no time! The chains around you are made for wizards only. It affects you while you are in your human form, but not as an Animagus. Shift and you will be able to get free. Bark a few times...”
“I’m not a dog!” I snapped out loud, feeling slightly insulted by the associations he made with my canine cousins.
“You okay Anna?” asked Hermione in a bewildered voice. “What do you mean “you are not a dog”...?”she seemed slightly worried and I knew she was probably wondering whether Lucius placed a curse on me while we were alone.
“Bad dream” I lied and concentrated once more on Snape’s voice inside my head.
“When you’re ready, Rider...” continued Snape in a sarcastic voice. “Swallow your pride and listen to me. Bark once or twice and they’ll come in...howl if you believe barking is too degrading for you...but let your Animagus take over and...get them out of the way. Free Granger and Potter and use the north passage of the second floor...no Death Eaters patrol there because it’s a dead end. Once you get there, you will find a piece of parchment of how to get out.”
It occurred to me for a moment, that this was the man who had killed Dumbledore and locked up Edwin. Why should I trust him? What if he led us to more Death Eaters...
“Honestly Rider, if I wanted to assist them in killing you, they would have done it already. And right now, I fail to comprehend what alternatives you may have. If you linger here another half an hour wondering whether to trust me or not, you might run into the Dark Lord himself when you open the door.”
“Okay.” I said out loud and I felt Hermione’s blind eyes on me.
“Anna who are you talking to?” she asked rather frightened. “I know Lucius did horrible—“
“I’m fine Hermione! We’re going to get out of here.” I said and started trying to find the wolf inside of me.
“How?” asked Harry in a weak voice and even without seeing him I understood he was badly injured.
“Don’t ask questions. Just trust me. I’ll explain everything later, I promise. Just do as I say.” I felt how her fur replaced my human
skin...how my eyes adjusted to the dark and I soon managed to decipher the outlines of my surroundings. Harry was lying with his head in Hermione’s lap holding on to his wrist. I smelled blood. I was no longer human. I was wolf. And I was hungry...so hungry—didn’t remember the last time I had hunted. My paw easily fitted out of the chain and i felt how my magic aura strengthened slightly. And then I howled as if the moon itself was in the room with us. Hermione squeaked and Harry sat up. “Wha—?”
Snape had been right. The two Death Eaters outside immediately opened the door, wide enough to let light swallow the prison. Their eyes went wide and the wolf showing her teeth to them. And then I jumped and bit into the flesh...bit with hunger and something else.
Something which resembled human hate for everything that had happened with that girl whose face was always present in my animal mind. That girl with brown hair and blue eyes who had forgotten how to smile. The Death Eaters were no longer screaming. But I didn’t kill them. They were unconscious for I could still hear their pulse as I let go. I didn’t like the taste of their meat. It was stained with murder. It wasn’t for me. I shifted back...rummaged through their bloodied robes and found two wands.
Once inside the prison cell, there was enough light coming from the outside candles to make me realize that Harry and Hermione were looking at me with O shaped mouths. “I never...I never knew you were an Animagus.” Said Harry who looked terribly bloodied. I soon realized that the huge amount of blood was coming from his left leg and I wondered if he could walk.
“No one knew. We don’t have time.”My eyes were constantly on the prison cell wooden door as if I was half expecting He who must not be named to walk in on us. I pointed one of the stolen wands towards
Harry’s chain and said: “Alohamora”. Nothing happened.
“Why isn’t it working?” I asked, a shred of dread in my voice.
“It wouldn’t be that simple.” Said Hermione looking at me half terrified. “Anna, you’ve got to go. Just go!” she urged me, looking at me belly.
“No.”I said stubbornly. “Diffindo” I looked at the chains, my heart sinking as nothing happened. Not even one scratch on the heavy metal. Nothing. Panic started overwhelming me. “Engorgio! Damn it!” I muttered in frustration as the locks didn’t even get one inch bigger.
“Bring... help.” Said Harry behind a mask of yellow skin and sweat. He looked like he was battling off an infection. I knew they would not survive if I left them.
“Shut up!” I snapped and tried to think of the way to open the looks. Professor, please help me....I don’t know how to open the locks. But the occlumency Snape must have performed on me was long finished and the silky, deep voice did not re-appear in my head. I felt the tears build up into my eyes. We were so close to escaping...it couldn’t
finish like this. It just couldn’t.
I sat down on the floor, failing to comprehend what spell would work. If Hermione didn’t know...I surely couldn’t know either. Besides, my strongest subject had been Potions, not Charms and I didn’t have any ingredients to prepare a metal melting elixir. I felt helpless and stupid for a while and paid no attention to Harry and Hermione urging me to go.
But then there was a moan behind me as one of the Death Eaters was coming back to consciousness, holding his bloodied hand in his robe. I picked up my wand and was about to stun him again, when the silky voice reappeared into my head and muttered for me, with my own mouth, the spell that I didn’t have the soul to cast myself: “Imperio.”
The light in the guard’s eyes ceased and he was staring ahead blankly. I stared in awe at the wand in my hand...the wand of a Death Eater amazed that I had cast an unforgivable spell. But then I mentally slapped myself, as there was no time to think of such details and I ordered the Death Eater to open Harry and Hermione’s chains, giving him back his original wand, and praying that it will work. And it did. The man casted a non-verbal spell and the chains snapped open, as
Hermione immediately stood up. We helped Harry up, but he fell back down. He was paler than a ghost and I wondered if he could make it out of Riddle Manor alive.
“Harry...what did she do to you?” I asked trying to trap the tears with my eyelashes.
“I don’t...know.” he replied in a weak voice. It was as if forming words was difficult for him...as if he couldn’t remember how to speak. I looked at Hermione in alarm. Tears were rolling down her eyes and I knew what she was thinking as if I had preformed occlumency on her: Harry Potter could not die like this. And she couldn’t possibly know what Bellatrix Lestrange had done to Harry, because the Cruciatus Curse had consumed her brain power and sanity for the half an hour in which I had been absent.
Change of tense
She kneeled down in front of him and took the other spare wand I had stolen. It felt awkward in her hand and she knew the spell she was about to cast would not be half as powerful as if she were to cast it with her own. But it was all she could do. Anna looked at her in alarm, while unconsciously holding Harry’s weak hand in her own. And then Hermione spoke:“Episkey.”
Change of tense
I looked at Harry’s bloodied leg and saw no difference. But his face showed it all. His eyes went wide for a while and then he stood up by himself, giving Hermione a weak smile. “Thanks.”
“Merlin Harry...are you okay? Can you walk?” asked Hermione in a way that reminded me of Mrs Weasly.
“I’m much better.” He said and I removed my hand from his before he got the chance to realize I had been holding it.
“We have to go.” I urged, but they both looked at me in a surprised way.
“Which way?” asked Harry.
“North passage of the second floor.” I quoted Snape and their
eyebrows went up. “How do you know?” asked Hermione and I rolled
my eyes and dragged them out of the prison cell by their sleeves, but not before stealing once again the wand from the dumb looking Death Eater and ordering him to drag his unconscious friend in and close the door. “We haven’t got time. I’ll explain later. Just trust me.” They nodded in approval and Hermione and I started helping Harry up the narrow and dark corridor, wands out ready, in case we ran into someone. But Merlin was on our side that day, for we made it all the way to the first floor without anyone seeing us. The house was so dark that we barely saw what was in front of us and we had to step so carefully in case we tripped over a bit of sticking up carpet edge.
“Wait.” Harry whispered and we stopped dead on the spot, looking around as if we were small mice surrounded by a herd of hyenas.
“Harry what’s wrong?” asked Hermione in a mere whisper, her breath not deceiving the fact that she was nervous. I looked around but no one seemed to be around.
“Pull my shirt up.” Whispered Harry. “There’s one thing they didn’t manage to steal.”
And he was right. For when Hermione and I pulled up his shirt, the soft and water like fabric of the Invisibility Cloak greeted our fingers. “I nearly forgot about it.” Whispered Harry in an apologetic voice. “Quick, put it on.”
It was like we were in a very fragile safety bubble. The enemy could not see us, but it didn’t stop them from feeling us...or hearing us. We walked as quickly as it was possible with an injured Harry up another flight of stairs where candles seemed to be looking at us and we prayed that no one saw how the black smoke drifted to one when we swished past it. But Death Eaters were dumb. We passed a few of them on the second floor, and they didn’t even flinch when we were a few inches away from them. Framed muggle paintings were looking down on us, with Riddle’s ancestors and I wondered how Voldemort must have felt when he held his wand towards his biological father in this same house.
We had nearly reached the north passage and the corridor became more or less deserted, save for a few candles and spider webs. We walked quickly, trying not to breathe too loudly and we finally arrived in front of an old looking wooden door. The north passage. We didn’t hesitate and opened the door with a swift Alohamora that made the door squeak open.
Once inside I took the cloak off us. “What are you doing?” asked Hermione looking around half terrified as if Death Eaters would jump on her at any moment. “It’s deserted.” I added quickly . “No Death Eaters patrol this one...it’s a dead end.”
“But if it’s a dead end...Anna....did someone tell you what to do?” asked Hermione starting to put the puzzle pieces together.
“I don’t know who he was. He just said he was a member of the Order...I think he was friends with my mother a long time ago and he told me what to do to get out. I don’t know how he knows.” I didn’t know why I lied to them...but I presumed Snape would appreciate if his identity was kept hidden in the situation. And yet I still had a feeling that there was a missing puzzle piece between Dumbledore’s death and Snape killing him. I pushed the thought out of my head.
“But how can you trust him?” asked Hermione rather horrified.
“Because it’s the only chance we’ve got.” Said Harry before I could open my mouth. “Let’s go.” He added and gave me a small smile.
We moved swiftly down the tunnel like dark corridor, the stolen wands “lumosed” to guide our way. I felt like we walked for hours, before we reached another door, this one made of black metal I recognised from the History of Magic as Goblin non-penetrative metal.
So it was a dead end...for this metal did not allow any spell to work on it, or any potion.
“Black metal.” Said Hermione. “Dead end.”
Harry raised his new wand and prepared to cast a spell, but Hermione placed a hand on his wand and said there was no use. According to my History of Magic textbook, the only way to open such a door was to use a key made by a Goblin which was unique for each door and made the same way a wizard would make a wand. The key contained fragments of magical solutions, such as herbs and stones according to the properties of each door. However, the only problem was that during the second Wizard –Goblin war, the Goblins hid away all such keys, making all such doors unalterable.
“Look.” I said pointing my finger to a small piece stuck on the wall. Hermione was quick to detach it with his wand and there was only one
word written on it: “Illusion.”
“Illusion?” asked Harry, knitting his eyebrows together.
“Maybe the door is not really a Goblin made one. Maybe it’s an illusion.” Said Hermione letting go of Harry and starting to push and press at the door, hoping that it might just be a veil to let us through.
“I don’t think so.” I said and tried to remember what Snape had told me. But he had not mentioned anything about a door...or a key...or an illusion. I wished he could have been clearer.
And so another hour or so passed with us trying to figure out how to open the door. All of our plans and ideas failed and we had succumbed to silence, sitting on the floor and staring at one another. We did not have many choices. We either stayed there for a while, or venture back in the sea of Death Eaters to try and find another way out. We chose to stay.
“Do you think they know we’re missing?” I asked looking towards the dark tunnel.
“Probably.” Said Hermione. “I just wonder whether You-Know-Who is here.” She continued looking at Harry. “Is your scar hurting?”
“No.” Said Harry absent mindedly. “You never told me you were an Animagus.” He asked and the note of accusation in his voice stung me a little.
“Well...I haven’t shifted in a very long time. I didn’t really consider myself one. My father never really saw me as being one...he refused to see me as one because Jack wasn’t one. I think it scared him.”
“Refusing to see you as one....” said Harry falling into deep thoughts for a while. “That’s it! The key to this door is here somewhere...under
an illusion charm.”
We all looked at the several stones on the floor. Hermione pointed her wand at them and said: “Accio Key!” Nothing happened. “Of course.” She said. “It would be too simple..."Wingardium Leviosa!” she muttered and all stones except one were levitated into the air. “Levitation cannot be performed on objects which have been altered from their original form. Anna take that stone for me.”
I picked up the stone and it seemed surprisingly heavier than the others. I pointed my own wand at it and chanted: “Reverso.” A white light engulfed the room and soon, I was left with a heavy and deformed looking key in my hand. It has several inscriptions on the margin that had faded over time. I didn’t lose any more time admiring it, for it fit perfectly well into the massive key hole and the door opened elegantly to let the night air wash over us. We quickly stepped under the Invisibility Cloak and when we hurried as far away from the cemetery as possible before disapparating. We had escaped.
We were lying on the forest floor, laughing like we had never laughed before. We did not care that the leaves were wet and sticky or that it was very cold outside. We barely even knew where we were, except that the forest was somewhere in Scotland where Hermione had been camping with her parents when she was about six. We laughed thinking about Voldemort’s reaction when he would find out that we had escaped.
“Poor Professor Trelawney.” Said Hermione when we finally stopped laughing.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“She came up with a new prophecy out of tea bags and You-Know-Who thought she was being serious. She went to visit an old aunt and the Death Eaters got to her before Dumbledore could persuade her to come back to Hogwarts. She hasn’t been seen since.” Said Hermione in a sad voice. “I just wished she could have been as lucky as we were.”
The Leaky Cauldron. That’s why the voice sounded so familiar when I had heard Lucius Malfoy talking to her. “She was the woman who disappeared at the Leaky Cauldron. It was Malfoy.” I said as if that could have changed her outcome. “What did she predict?”
“No one knows. Except Dumbledore...and he’s dead. “ said Hermione looking sad and angry at the same time.
Before I could say or think anything else on the matter a pop appeared and Lupin came out of the air, followed by Tonks.
“Lupin!” Harry tried to sand up but his injured leg buckled under him and he fell down. Lupin immediately went to him. “Merlin’s beard, Harry! Do you know how lucky you are?” he asked in a half relieved, half emotional voice hugging Harry so hard that he soon gagged for air. “If the name wards wouldn’t have gone off when you apparated here, we wouldn’t have known you were alive!”
“Where exactly are we?” asked Hermione looking around?
“Not too far from my back garden.” He added and a grin appeared on his face. “Let’s get you inside.”
I smiled at Tonks and the thought of a warm bath.Anna...wait there. Come home to me. I’ll keep you safe! It was Edwin’s voice that did the trick for me. I started crying and all the others looked at me like I was half mad.
“Anna, sweety...you’ll be okay now.” Said Tonks rather uncomfortable at my tears.
“I...know. You go inside...I’ll be right with you. I just need to stay here for a while.” I lied and looked at Harry was trying to decipher me.
“But Anna...” started Hermione.
“I’ll be just two minutes.” I lied. “I’ll be okay. It’s safe, right Professor Lupin?”
“It is safe, but Tonks will be back in five minutes, right Tonks?” asked Lupin looking at her and insinuating that they give me some breathing
“Sure.” Said Tonks winking at me before disapparating.
I was alone in the forest and I didn’t have much time. I took my wand out and transfigured two leaves into a quill and a piece of parchment on which I wrote a note for them not to worry if they do not find me because I will be safe and just like Harry, I had Dumbledore’s instructions to follow. I apologised for worrying them and once more, wrote that I will be okay for someone would take care of me. I stuck the parchment on a nearby tree and waited. I wasn’t too sure what I was waiting for, but I was waiting for it anyway.
And it came. A pop followed and none other than Severus Snape
appeared in front of me, his black cloak swishing in the cold wind. And it was in that moment that I realized Snape was good.
“Rider.” He said sourly. “Am I going to stand here all day for you to stare at me?” he asked, but behind his sourness and sarcasm, I could sense a small relief that I was okay. I smiled at him.
“What about the wards, Professor? Will they not know you were here?”
“There are such things as concealment charms Rider.” He said and held out his hand for me. I was glad Hermione had slightly repaired my shirt for me, otherwise I would probably be greeting Snape in my bra. I went red at the thought and he raised his eyebrows. I gave him my hand and we soon disapparated away. The feeling of my lungs being stuck to my spine seemed the most wonderful feeling in the world right then and all I could see before me were Edwin’s green eyes waiting for me.
A/N I know this is a rather long chapter...truth to be told, I got a little carried away wrting this and I was also in a strange mood so that should explain why it's so long and sliglty different. I'm really sorry for making Lucius so horrible in this story (because I love him and I hate writing bad stuff about him) but I really needed an antagonist and he was the best choice. In future stories he will be nicer.
The next few chapters will not be as long. I hope you were not put off by the amount of reading. I personally like reading long chapters on this website because it usually means I have more to read before waiting for an upate.
Please review and let me know what you think. I really appreciate all feedback, be it good or bad and thank you to all the people who have read and reviewed this story so far. ;)