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Chapter 24 : Finding Truths and Exposing Secrets
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A/N: Read, Review, Enjoy!
Fred, Hermione, Ginny and Draco were discharged the next morning and brought directly to Grimmauld place. A few hours later, Arthur came to bring Harry to Drake’s office to talk, leaving Ron alone in the room with Luna. So far he hadn’t said a word to anyone beyond answering questions about his health. Now, finally healed enough to be free of most of his bandages, he found himself with a golden opportunity to talk to the one person he most wanted to speak with. Ever since waking, he’d put his shields back up, not wanting a single thought of his to slip out for Luna to see. All he had to do was figure out how to begin.
"Why didn’t you ever tell me anything about yourself?" He looked at her figuring his best bet was to be direct.
"Why didn’t you ever ask me anything about myself?" she returned quietly.
"That’s not good enough, Luna. I told you so many things about me, and you got to see everything else for yourself."
"Yeah, you told me a whole lot, because I asked. I asked about your childhood and your family. I asked about your dreams and goals. I was actually interested." She returned huffily.
"Maybe I would have asked more if I actually gotten answers when I did try! You hid everything from me last year. And now you have everyone else hiding things from me! Come on Luna! How was I supposed to know to ask about a brother you never mentioned having?"
"I’m sorry, okay. I really am. You’re right, I should have told you more and I shouldn’t have kept you out of the plan to go to Azkaban. I feel horrible. But it doesn’t change the fact that had you not spent half the time we were together thinking I was weird maybe I would have been in a more sharing mood."
"You are weird! And you know I loved you."
"I know you did. And I loved you too. I really did Ron." She looked at him earnestly, wanting him to believe her. He decided that he did.
"It hurt a lot, to know that you kept so much from me. It hurts even more knowing you can influence not only my best friends, but my brother to do it as well."
"What is it you’re looking for, Ron? I can’t feel any more sorry than I already do."
"I want to know why. And not this whole I couldn’t tell you because you never asked bull." He answered steadily.
"Because I didn’t want to admit that I had kept it all from you, okay, because to bring you in on it would have meant opening this whole can of worms. Because of a whole lot of other little silly reasons Harry and I came up with to keep as few people from knowing as possible. Kane belonged to me and I had a right to share him with whomever I wanted whenever I wanted. If I never felt comfortable enough talking about him with you then I guess that proves we really weren’t a good couple."
"Why does it feel like you’re breaking up with me all over again? Every time we’re alone I feel like I’m getting broken up with." He grumbled.
"I’m sorry for that too." She looked down. "And I’m sorry that you rushed into the house and got hurt so badly." She added quietly.
So that was it. She had heard about his attempt to rush to her rescue. But she was reading way more into it than she should be. Or was she? He had recognized the pain and fear in her scream and his brain had kicked into instant action. But he would have done the same had he heard any of the others yell like that, wouldn’t he? She raised her eyes to his once more and he saw how guilty she was feeling. "I’d do it again, just so you know, only next time, let’s do it without the flames." He smiled trying to hide the tension he felt.
She smiled back. "Let’s aim for there not being a next time."
"Even better." They were silent, each lost in their own thoughts. "Your dad and Harry are on their way back with Drake." She announced a bit later.
"Luna, will you promise me something really quick before they get here?" he asked.
She thought hard, obviously upset she couldn’t see his request beforehand. "I can try." She said finally.
"Don’t intentionally keep me out anymore. I can accept that we aren’t together, I really can. But I can’t be your friend if you’re always keeping secrets, and especially if you go around getting everyone else to keep them from me too. I’m not saying that I need you to tell me everything. Just the big stuff, you know like if you have anymore brothers or are planning to break into prison again. Things like that." He waited breathlessly for her response. He hadn’t let out as much anger as he thought he would towards her, hardly any at all in fact. Perhaps he wasn’t as angry as he thought, maybe on some level he did understand. This must be what Hermione meant by them all growing in maturity. He wasn’t sure he liked it, he had wanted to yell at Luna, to scream at her how hurt and upset he was. Maybe he should have waited until he had more energy.
She was quiet, thinking hard. "I promise I can try." She said at last. "It’s the only way I can promise anything without going back on my word."
"Then I guess that will have to do." He replied wearily as Harry and Arthur opened the door.
"See! I knew it! I knew Willem was innocent." Drake said happily to Arthur once Harry had finished the story he and Luna had put together. They’d managed to get all of the important information in there without exposing their own misdeeds while obtaining the facts; thankfully Drake didn’t contradict any of it.
"Now we just have to put everything together and prove it." Arthur said thoughtfully. "If done the right way, this could solve so many problems."
"Including freeing an innocent man." Drake declared. "Willem was… is a good man. And Edmund has gotten his way for far too long. It was always that way with them, even when we were all boys. Edmund did the evil, and Willem paid the price."
"There must be more to it than covering up the false reports, Willem must know something that Edmund didn’t want him talking about. As much as I’m sure they wouldn’t want him to reveal their psychic, there was a bigger reason to give him that potion I’m sure of it." Arthur speculated.
"Ron told me that Fred had guessed something like that too." Harry answered.
"Glad to see my son is thinking like a bureaucrat." Arthur smiled.
"When we watched Sarah talking to Willem, she asked why Edmund had turned on him and he’d said it was after he’d began investigating Jayalina." He offered further
"But why did she go to see him at all?" Arthur mused.
"I don’t know, it must have something to do with her plans with Cho." Harry shrugged, giving their catch all answer to any questions.
"That’s another thing that worries me. If she was writing Miss Chang before Voldemort found her, then what are they planning and how does it involve you kids?" Arthur put his head in his hands. "It’s always one step forward, two steps back isn’t it?"
"The first step is talking to Willem now that Sarah gave him the counterpotion." Drake suggested. Harry felt himself panic. Would Willem hold up the lie for them? How would he even know to do so? Harry had admitted to the man that he was friends with the minister, so why wouldn’t he tell them who had actually come to see him.
Luckily Arthur unknowingly saved him. "We have to wait. I know it’s horrible to let him keep sitting in there. But we can’t let Edmund, or anyone else, know that we’re looking into this. We start with the gardener. As Draco requested, we will arrange a safe place for the Rosebloods and see what he knows. In the meantime, I’ll have Moody start researching Ms. Delamora, see if we can find whatever it was Willem was about to find."
"Moody? Don’t you think him a little overqualified for research?" Drake asked.
"Not in this case. I believe he’s the only one who could successfully find everything we need in secret. There are very few people I can trust at the ministry right now. And very few trust me." Arthur shook his head. "Edmund’s campaign has certainly been successful."
"It’ll end soon." Drake put a hand on Arthur’s shoulder. "And when the time comes that we can approach Willem, I’d like to be the one to go talk to him and get his side of the story." He winked at Harry who felt an instant sense of relief. Drake of course already knew of their outing to the prison, so it didn’t matter what he was told.
"I think I can arrange that. It might be better that way anyway, to have a friend of his and someone unassociated with the ministry."
"Well, not associated anymore. Not for a very long time anyway. I lost my faith in them when Fudge came into power and broke away completely once Willem was imprisoned." Drake answered. "Though I’d gladly come back now if you all needed me."
"I appreciate it. But you already know where you are needed." Arthur said mysteriously, shooting an amused smile in Harry’s direction.
"Ah, yes. A new adventure I’m looking forward to." Drake answered just as mysteriously.
"What are you talking about?" Harry finally asked, unable to control his curiosity.
The two men looked at each other as if sharing a private joke before Arthur responded, "All will be revealed in good time."
"We should head back. It’s about time for pain potions if Harry is any indication." Drake said after studying him.
"I’m fine." He protested.
"You say you are, but your body says different and I know the signs to look for. Come on, I’m sure Arthur wants to check on Ron anyway." When they reentered the hospital room, Ron and Luna were both sitting up, neither looking at the other. But a quick glance in Luna’s direction told him that everything was fine between them. "How’s everyone feeling?" Drake asked as Harry climbed back into his bed.
"Sore and hot." Ron answered shortly.
"I’m fine." Luna responded quietly. "When can I go home?"
Drake looked her over, testing for soreness in her arm and examining her eyes closely. Then he looked at her leg, which was red and raw but no longer displaying evidence of the severe burns. "I’d say tomorrow morning. I’d let you go today like the others, but I still see some left over signs of shock and I’d like that leg to look a little better."
Then he made his way over to Harry and Ron, inspecting each of them. While he did this, Harry reached out to Luna. Hey. You akay?
She was lying back with her eyes closed, but he could see tears glistening on her eyelashes. Just really tired. She answered without moving.
I know the feeling. He offered kindly. I definitely know that point you get to where everything is so hard and mixed up and you feel like it’s never going to get fixed or get better. That’s when all you want to do is give up because you feel like you’re alone and drowning and it would be easier than continuing to struggle.
I’m sure you do. She answered bleakly. And I’m sure you understand the constant guilt and doubt and fear. I know you think you know what I’m feeling. But it’s all so much more wretched when you really are alone, Harry. When no one is there for you to turn to and hug you tight when things are tough. I don’t have a Hermione to hold my hand and tell me its okay because she loves me no matter what I do. And I don’t have Arthur and Molly to hug me and worry about me. I don’t have Ron and Fred to act like my brothers. My brother is dead, and so is my mother. Sure my father loves me, but he is usually traveling the world looking for things most people think ridiculous nonsense. You’re the only one of my friends who can even stand the sight of me right now and Ron and I are on such different pages in our life even if we had still been together it would be a tragic mess. I’m just so tired of seeing how things are going to be while suffering through how they are now. I’m tired of feeling responsible for not getting visions in time. I’m tired of watching everyone blame themselves for everything and I’m certainly tired of blaming myself. I just want it all to stop!
I know, I want it all to stop too. We all do. He answered feeling more than a little worried. Luna, I am always here for you.
Until you can’t be. It too much right now, Harry, can’t you see that? I’m sorry I started this whole thing in the first place.
Don’t be! Because of your search for the truth about Kane, we’ve discovered so much more!
And lost a whole lot too. She squeezed her eyes shut tighter against the tears he knew she was fighting. Please, stop worrying about me, it only makes me feel worse. I’d prefer it if you let yourself be mad at me, to just forget about me for awhile. Go home, enjoy your last week with Hermione before school starts and help with Willem and Sarah. My dad should be home by now certainly-
So wait. He interrupted. When you asked to go home earlier, did you mean back to my house or back home with your father? He asked feeling worried. He didn’t like the thought of Luna being separate from their lives, even if it was only for a week or so. He very much liked having everyone he cared about under one roof where he could keep an eye on them. He was especially nervous now that he knew Voldemort was after her for her abilities.
I don’t know. She answered softly. I just want to feel comforted and where else is one more comfortable than in their own home with someone who loves them? It’d just be until school starts anyway.
Luna, I- but his response was cut off as Drake finished looking the boys over. "Well, Harry, I think you’ll be able to leave in the morning with Luna. Your hand needs one more treatment tonight, but the leg is nicely healed. However I also see some residual signs of shock so I think one more night of observation is called for. Ron, unfortunately, you may be here a couple more days. The burns on your face have begun to clear, but it seems the rest of you, is in a bit more trouble. I’m just going to apply another round of the herbs before I go." Harry watched his friend begin to be wrapped as a mummy again and felt bad for him. But his mind was back in that moment only minutes ago. Luna had told him she wanted to be around someone who loved her, and before Drake had interrupted him, he’d been about to assure her that he loved her. But he’d been caught up in the moment and was glad to have been stopped. He had never said those words to another girl besides Hermione and though he saw Luna as nothing but his friend, he felt that somehow it would have been wrong to say. And that’s the feeling that gave him pause. Why would it be wrong for him to say something like that to Luna? After all, he’d told Ron he loved him.
Please, don’t leave. Don’t go home. He begged her, pushing aside his thoughts to focus on the problem at hand. Anything else could be reasoned out later. It’s too dangerous. You saw Voldemort tell Sarah to take you. You can’t leave!
And I doubt Arthur would let me go anywhere without guards. I’ll be just as safe with my dad I’m sure. Besides, I have to leave sometime, Harry. I can’t live with you forever.
I know that. I know you all have lives outside Grimmauld Place and that someday you will all go back to them. But please, just stay now. If you want I can guilt you into it. In fact, I am mad at you and I blame you for everything, so to make it up to me, you should give me what I want and stay.
He saw her smile from across the room. You’re a more convincing liar when the person you’re lying to can’t see that you are in fact lying.
It’s true! I’m so mad at you that if you left now I don’t think we could ever repair the damage. But if you want to risk that then go ahead. I guess I see how important this friendship is to you! He put false anger in his tone and he saw her smile widen. So he went on. I personally think it extremely selfish of you to want to leave in the middle of this huge fight we’re having and not want to work through it.
Well, I guess if I leave that’ll make me a pretty horrible person, won’t it. She returned finally.
The worst! He agreed. Better you just stay so we can work out all these anger issues I have toward you.
Okay, you win. She answered quietly. I’ll stay. But I can’t do this much longer.
Okay. He agreed, not fully knowing what he was agreeing to. What exactly was it she wouldn’t be able to handle? He was a bundle of confusion, but his head and heart where at ease knowing she’d still be with them in his house. Everything else could be sorted out later.
Draco and Ginny were lying in her bedroom together trying to nap away some of the effects of the many healing potions they were given when the front door slammed open and they heard Mr. Weasley calling up the stairs for him. Feeling nervous he threw a troubled glance at Ginny who rose with him to go see what her father wanted. She looked just as nervous.
They entered the parlor and were surprised to see him smiling. "How are you both feeling?" he asked pulling his daughter into a tight hug.
"Just fine dad, better if I could breathe!" Ginny gasped.
"Sorry." He laughed releasing her and pulling her to sit next to him, gesturing for Draco to join them. He chose the chair across from the couch and looked at him expectantly. "Harry just finished telling me about everything they saw in Sarah’s head, and it’s wonderful news. Now Draco, I understand he’s already spoken to you about Mr. Roseblood?"
"He has. I told him that I wouldn’t let anyone ask him anything while he’s there."
"So he told me. Well, I stopped by to see Albus and he’s agreed to find a suitable place for them by the time we have them in custody. You understand we must do this with as little attention as possible. We will be going to your house, and arresting all servants you have working there, they will all be placed safely away of course after determining where they stand." Arthur paused and looked at him carefully.
Draco shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. "I don’t have a problem with any of that if that’s what you’re wondering." He finally said.
Mr. Weasley smiled. "I didn’t think you would. I was actually wondering if it would be wise or foolish to allow you to come along. What do you think?"
He caught the troubled glance Ginny shot him and he looked away wanting to decide for himself what he really wanted. Part of him never wanted to go back there. He feared there would be too many memories too many influences, too much provocation back into the life he knew better. But…there was that other part of him that wanted to go back, for the closure. For the chance to get some of his things and possibly see his mother, maybe even have a private conversation with her. He wanted the time to sit in that cold house and remind himself why he’d given it all up. "I want to go. It could be the stupidest thing either of us have ever done, but I want you to take me there." He finally answered.
"I thought so." Mr. Weasley nodded. "I have to go to the office and arrange a secret Auror squad. I should be back in an hour. We’ll leave shortly thereafter. Sound good?"
"Sounds as good as it can I guess." He answered. "Thank you." He swallowed hard, still finding those words difficult to express.
Mr. Weasley rose and put a hand on his shoulder. "Don’t thank me yet." He said seriously.
After he left they returned to Ginny’s room where she stood glaring at him with her arms crossed. "What?" he asked feeling irritated.
"This is the worst idea ever and I’m ashamed my father suggested it."
"You didn’t exactly voice that opinion in front of him." He returned angrily. He’d wanted support, not an argument.
"I’m voicing it to you. You can still change your mind." She sighed and took his hand. "Look I think it’s really admirable that you wanted to protect the Rosebloods. But what do you have to prove by going back there? We all went to Harry’s old house and you saw how that turned out."
He pulled free and sat on the edge of her bed. "I guess we all have to go home again sometime. Now it’s my turn. I have my own demons to face Ginny. You should be able to understand that, you’re facing yours in therapy. Well, this will have to serve as my therapy. Besides, I think I’d like to see my mother. And it’d be nice to have some of my own things here, might make it more comfortable."
"We go back to school in a week. You’ve gone without all that stuff this long, and besides, I’m sure they can arrange a meeting with your mum."
"I’ve made up my mind. I’m going." He answered decisively.
"Fine. Just… remember whatever you feel there, whatever thoughts you have… I know who you really are now. So just come back so I can remind you." she sat next to him and rested her head on his shoulder.
So she did have the same fears he did. Putting his arm around her shoulders, he turned and rested his lips against the top of her head marveling at how different her thinking was from a few short weeks before when she’d wanted him to give into his darker side to get him away from the others. He smiled. Well at least one of them was starting to be sure about where they stood. He would have to reserve judgement on himself until after he’d re-immersed himself in his old life.
Ginny felt uneasy before, but after Draco left with her father she felt downright anxious. She didn’t know why she was so worried about him going home, maybe some fear deep down that he wouldn’t want to come back. After all, it had to be easier to be with one’s own family. She didn’t know much of his relationship with his mother, but she knew that had she been thrust into a whole new life where everything was going wrong, she’d relish the idea of returning to Molly and the comfort of her arms. Narcissa seemed to be a different kind of mother, though she had been with Draco every day in the hospital after Ginny had stabbed him. She shook her head. She didn’t want to think about it anymore, he had to come back. Surely her father wouldn’t allow him to stay; it was too dangerous.
With a sigh she decided to pass the time by finding a way to go see Ron; she had a lot to say to him. Going downstairs she found Lupin reading through reports on the couch in the parlor. "Sorry to bother you, but can I ask a favor?" she asked quietly from the doorway.
He looked up at her and smiled warmly. "What can I do for you?"
"Well, I was kind of wondering if you could take me to St. Mungo’s to visit with Ron for awhile?"
"I don’t see why not. I can read all this just as well there." He rose and gathered his things. "Let me arrange a car from the ministry and we can be on our way."
She thanked him and went to arrange her thoughts until he called for her. The ride over was comfortably silent as some nameless ministry driver took them to their destination. Lupin walked her all the way to the room before breaking off and heading for the waiting room, giving her privacy with Ron, Harry and Luna. Though she greeted them all when she entered, she was really hoping for some time alone with her brother. Letting that thought out into the open, she saw Harry catch it and look over at Luna. They both carefully got out of their beds. "We’ll be back in a little while." He announced.
"Where are you going?" Ron asked them.
"For a walk." Harry answered looking meaningfully at Ginny. She appreciated the gesture and nodded a thank you in their direction as they headed out, closing the door behind them.
"Hey, how are you feeling?" She asked, pulling a chair up next to Ron’s bed.
"Like I took a walk on the sun. What are you doing here?" he looked at her suspiciously. She couldn’t say she didn’t deserve it based on her past actions.
"I just wanted to talk to you." She looked down, unsure how to express her feelings. "I know you don’t like Draco very much. And I know you hate that I like him-"
"You got that right. You can do way better." He interrupted.
She glared at him. "Putting that aside, I wanted to thank you. For saving his life back there at Harry’s house."
"Yeah, well. It doesn’t mean I approve, it just means I don’t want any of us to get killed." Ron grumbled.
"I don’t care if you approve. I really don’t Ron." She returned. "I love you, but I make my own decisions now. I’m starting to get a grasp on who I am. And more than that, he makes me happy. I don’t know how or why, but it’s true and I just want you to understand he’s important to me. That’s all. I want your understanding, not your approval."
"How about a little understanding in return, Ginny? He tortured us for years; it can’t all be water under the bridge just because he changed his mind. Harry may be sympathetic towards him, but I can’t be. Maybe my childhood was too happy, who knows, but I don’t operate on the same emotional tide as they do. I feel bad for everything he went through but that’s as far as it goes. I’m sure he wasn’t sitting around all those years feeling bad for us. And no one really changes as much as he says he has, and certainly not in half a year. You want to tangle yourself up with him, fine. It’s one more thing for you to talk about in therapy."
"Why are you so mad right now?" she asked, hurt by his words.
"Because you expect everyone to do what you want them to and get mad when you don’t get your way and I refuse to be held hostage by your moods any longer! I’m entitled to feel any way I want about any given subject the same way you are, you know! If I don’t want to like Draco Malfoy, I don’t have to! If I don’t want to walk around pretending you didn’t hurt us all with the way you were acting and the things you did then I don’t have to! I was so scared to upset you that I let it all get as out of hand as it did. So now I won’t let that stop me from telling you when I think you’re making a mistake, not anymore. Sure I saved Malfoy’s life, and I’d do it again if I had to. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t still curse him myself if I wanted. He’s no friend of mine, and when the day comes that he turns on the rest of you, I’ll be the only one left to say I told you so."
"Yeah, you’ll be the only one left alright." She muttered rising and pushing the chair back. "I’m sorry I thought we could have a real conversation here, that I could talk to you like my brother."
"And so in order to have a nice conversation the first thing you do is tell me I have to understand your desire to have a relationship with our former enemy!? Trust me Ginny, by not sitting here telling you what you want to hear I’m being more of a brother to you than I have in the past few months. In fact, why don’t you go try this conversation out with Fred? I’m sure he’s not going to be very understanding either."
"I’ll do that. And in the meantime, why don’t you just go to hell?" She yelled stalking out the door. In the hallway, she paused to lean against the wall and collect herself. The scene that had just played out hadn’t been exactly what she’d expected. She’d wanted to open up to Ron, to explain herself and her feelings so that maybe someday everything would be okay. She wasn’t sure how she’d messed it up, or even if it was all her fault. Ron seemed to be in a touchy mood to begin with. Stupid Laurel, tricking her into thinking talking was a good thing.
With a heavy sigh, she pushed herself away from the wall and went in search of Lupin. Now that she’d managed an impromptu fight with her brother, the only thing left to do was go home and wait for Draco to come back. She had a feeling he’d need the support.
"I’m not so sure this is a good idea." Luna said as she and Harry stepped into the elevator. "I mean last time we had Arthur’s permission."
"How do they know we don’t now? Aren’t you curious as to what she’s up to with Cho? I know I am and we may never have a better chance than this to literally look through the enemy’s mind." He answered.
"You know I am. She just makes me nervous. There’s something not normal about her, and I just feel like she’s going to wake up at any time. And if we’re there rooting around in her head when she does, I don’t think it’ll make her very happy."
"I don’t think we have to worry about that." He smiled as they stepped off the elevator.
"Yeah, well, I do." She was nervous, anxious and scared. She may not have received any visions about Sarah waking, but it didn’t stop her from having a bad feeling about the idea.
They rounded the last corner and saw several Aurors still positioned outside the door. The only difference was Tonks being there instead of Kingsley. "Hey you two, taking a little stroll?" she asked with amusement.
"Did Kingsley finally get to go rest?" Harry asked as they approached.
"None of us get to rest right now. I take it you two want to pay a visit."
"Want isn’t the word I’d use." Luna said stubbornly.
"Well, come on. Let’s get you guys out of the hallway. The rest of you, no one else gets in except Healer Drake or Minister Weasley. I mean it, no one is to follow us in." she looked at her Aurors meaningfully before following the teens into the room.
Luna took in the sight of Sarah, still resting peacefully in her bed. She didn’t like the look of the woman. Truthfully, this was the last place she wanted to be. She wanted to be back in the room, trying to sleep away some of the emotions raised during her conversations with Ron and Harry. But she had these powers and they gave her responsibilities. And if they could go in and get answers that everyone needed, then she had no right not to try.
"So where is Kingsley then?" Harry asked when Tonks closed the door.
"Arthur wanted him at the Malfoy mansion. He was only taking the Aurors he trusted to get the Rosebloods."
"Why didn’t you go then?" Luna asked.
"Because he also needed someone he trusted here. Kingsley is far more physically impressive than I am and so he wanted him there in case anybody chose to give them a hard time." Tonks smiled. "I’ll just let you do whatever it is you two do and sit over here quietly."
Luna followed Harry over to the bed, both of them staring down at the comatose patient. "Are you ready to do this again?" he whispered.
"I guess." She whispered back. Then closing her eyes, she linked her mind up with his and watched as he searched Sarah’s memories, looking for familiar faces.
"It took you long enough." Sarah complained as she let the girl in. It was the same Raven-haired, golden eyed girl Voldemort would later bring to her apartment.
"Well your friend’s letter was a bit unclear as to the exact location of your place." The girl shot back.
"That’s because she uses that idiot Marietta. I told Cho long ago that girl is worthless." Sarah said harshly as they sat together. "So I haven’t been told much more than your name and your little mind power. How exactly are you going to fit into our plans?"
"It’s a- you help me I help you- situation. I want revenge against my father, Cho wants revenge against those stupid kids and you want whatever it is that you want that’s making you help her."
"And she and I already have a plan." Sarah was sure not to reveal her intentions. After all, they concerned no one but herself. "What I fail to see is the benefit of adding you to the mix."
"And that’s why I’ve brought a friend. If it’s okay with you, I believe she knows you back from your life in London."
Sarah felt conflicted. She already wasn’t agreeable to the idea of adding more players to her game but her curiosity over who actually remembered her was overwhelming. "I suppose." She finally answered.
The other girl rose and went to open the door calling someone else in. When the woman entered, Sarah rose, feeling excited for the first time in a long while. She took in the dark hair so similar to her own, the eyes like hers only with more green and the small star tattoo right below her left eye. "Elise McKinney!"
"Hello Sarah." Elise answered as the women embraced each other. "I’ve been looking for you since you disappeared all those years ago! And now here under these circumstances I finally find you. It’s a bit chilly in here thought isn’t it?" She pointed at the fireplace where a roaring fire blazed to life.
"I had thought you turned against me like the others." Sarah said taking a step back from the sudden warmth. Elise’s power was one she envied, such a more definite way to bring destruction.
"Of course I didn’t. I was dealing with the fallout of my own parents death." She responded.
"I’d heard of that. I’ve also heard that he’s back."
"He is. Voldemort has been resurrected apparently by the same brat that took him down in the first place." Elise shook her head. "I’ve been told that you are helping someone take care of that kid and his annoying friends. I have no interest in that, but I think all of our separate problems revolve around each other. So I think the four of us should work together."
"And what is it you two are after? Because Cho and I have things in motion already." Sarah responded.
It was the dark haired girl who answered. "Think how much more quickly you can get things done when you have allies outside a prison cell. Not to mention that as twisted as little Cho has become, she’s no where near as powerful as the three of us."
"Lord Voldemort has approached me already to join his forces." Elise added. "I’ve an in with that side. And I can easily mention you. I know he’d want to add you to his psychic menagerie."
"Why would I want that?" Sarah asked.
"Because he can get you the information you’re after much more quickly than Cho’s little puppet Marietta can discover." she answered. "You think I don’t know what you’re after? We all want revenge Sarah."
"And once we get what we all want? I remember you well, Elise. You always had something else going." She responded.
"As did you." She smiled wickedly. "The way I see it, if you and I have an in on the evil side, we need someone on the other side, which is where my new friend comes in. She knows one of those kids always with Potter from back at school. She’ll position herself in their lives and then we’ll know what’s going on in both sides of this war. I want us all to come out on top. I want them all to suffer. Think about it, we can’t blame it all on the ministry for what happened to us and our families. Lord Voldemort and his followers were men after power and influence. I want us to achieve what they never could. I want us to take them all down." Elise finished.
"And why would you want to spy on those kids?" Sarah turned the other girl.
"Because they get me closer to my father." She answered simply.
"And what did dear old daddy do to make you so angry with him?"
"He denied me as his daughter and killed my mother." She again answered simply.
"So what do you say Sarah? Are you ready for a new game?" Elise prompted.
"I don’t see why not. Especially since we get to make up the rules. How long before I can expect a visit from the almighty Voldemort?" she asked, still keeping her own plans to herself.
"I’ll tell him about you as soon as I get back. After what happened at the Leaky Cauldron yesterday, I think he’s going to love finding out about you."
"Why, what happened?"
"That Potter kid, it seems he has a few extra talents of his own." Elise smiled. "Maybe if Voldemort doesn’t want us to kill him, we can use him as well."
"Wow." Luna said after the memory grew dark.
"What? What did you see?" Tonks asked eagerly from the chair.
"A whole new problem." Harry answered grimly.
Draco looked out the darkened window of the ministry car, watching as Arthur and his Aurors approached the house. "Dobby thinks Young Master is sad." Said the little house elf sitting next to him. At first when Arthur had showed up with the elf, they had stared at each other for a long time before deciding they were okay with each other. The last time he’d actually seen the house elf, he’d still been in service to his family and Lucius was abusing the little thing. He’d since heard that Dobby had been taken in by Dumbledore to work in the castle. Beyond that, he hadn’t really thought of the elf since.
"I’m not sad." He answered still watching as the adults all disappeared into the house.
"Dobby isn’t sad to be back here either. Dobby is glad Harry Potter tricks master into giving Dobby clothes." He insisted as if Draco were trying to force him to go back.
"I’m sure you are." He answered wearily. All he wanted was to go in the house and get this over with. Being trapped in the car with Dobby was not part of what he had agreed to.
"Young Master is now friends with Harry Potter? Professor Dumbledore told Dobby you was and Professor Dumbledore never lies to Dobby."
"Well I guess it’s true then isn’t it." He didn’t hide his irritation.
"Dobby protects Harry Potter. Young master doesn’t wants to hurt Harry Potter anymore?"
"Not at the moment." Draco answered, excited to see Mr. Weasley, Kingsley and Mad-eye return to the car.
"Dobby, you can go right in and find those files we talked about." Arthur said opening the back door.
"The ones Master makes Dobby steal from the ministry a long time ago?"
"Those are the ones." He smiled kindly at the creature. With a snap, the small house elf disappeared, presumably to wherever he’d hidden the documents within the mansion. "You ready?" Mr. Weasley turned to him and handed over the invisibility cloak. Draco had to wear it into the house so no one would see him entering.
"As much as I can be I guess." He answered, settling the silky folds around himself. He followed them up the familiar walkway, the entrance looming in front of him, much bigger and more menacing than he recalled. Narcissa was in the parlor, sitting stiffly as Aurors went through her things. It was the same way she sat every time the ministry had invaded their home. Draco was strangely comforted knowing certain things stayed the same.
"Hello mother." He said from the doorway, letting the cloak fall to the floor.
She turned quickly, her eyes flashing love, concern and excitement before they hardened. "Draco. What are you doing here?"
"I came to get some things. And to see you." He answered quietly.
"You came to get some things?! And you brought the Minister to help you move?" she asked rising to face him.
"I’m here on official business. I offered him the chance to come with." Mr. Weasley answered in a hard voice.
"May I have a moment alone with my son?" she asked angrily. But suddenly, Draco didn’t want to be alone with her. There was something in her stance, in her look. She seemed to feel just as betrayed by him as everyone else.
"I don’t think so." Mr. Weasley answered, obviously picking up on Narcissa’s attitude. "I’ll stay right where I can see him, and you."
"You act as if I intend to kill my own son." She said angrily. "I’m not my husband, I do have some shred of decency. We have many things to discuss, my son and I."
"I will issue a cone of silence for you both, but I will not leave the room." The minister insisted.
"Fine." She agreed through clenched teeth, upset at being told how things would be conducted in her own house. Mr. Weasley waved his wand and suddenly all the sounds around them disappeared. It was disconcerting, seeing so many people moving and talking around him and not being able to hear any of it. "Draco. Why did you do this?" Narcissa asked, the anger gone now that no one could hear her.
"What I don’t understand is why you didn’t all those years ago!" he shot back, letting his own anger and disappointment overwhelm him. "Why did you stay with him?"
"I couldn’t leave. You know it wouldn’t have been that simple. And truth be told I didn’t want to leave, Draco. This life has given us everything we’ve ever wanted. We’ve never had to struggle, never had to go hungry, never had to go without anything."
"And all we had to do was sell our souls." He answered miserably.
"And what has finding your soul done for you, love?" she looked pointedly at his arm, still missing the wrist and hand.
"Yeah, well, you can thank your husband for this." He raised his stump of an arm. "He’s the one who tried to kill me. I wouldn’t be here right now if Potter hadn’t pushed me out of the way, and my own father would have been the one to end my life. And you know what else? You can thank the minister and all the rest of them for finding a way to fix this and undo the damage. And my new werewolf curse, yeah, that was dear old dad and Voldemort, working together to send Harland to my room. You remember Harland, don’t you mother?"
She shivered involuntarily. "Of course I do. I never wanted that man to live with us all those years."
"But I thought you got everything you wanted out of this life?" he shot back. "Was it worth it? Abandoning me to stay with him?"
"You abandoned me as well Draco. Look around, Lucius isn’t here. He’s never here anymore it would be the first place they’d look for him. I wasn’t given a choice of sides to take, you both left me."
He was unmoved by her attempt at guilt. "You really think I don’t know better? How many safe houses do we have all over the country? You really expect me to believe you haven’t been to see him wherever he’s hiding?"
"You haven’t told them about those have you?" she asked worriedly.
"No, not yet." He answered darkly. "But I can at any time. I know all the places he would go to hide, don’t I mother. Just because I gave this life up doesn’t mean I don’t remember it."
"So if you blame him so much, why not just turn him in? Admit it, Draco, you made a mistake. It’s not too late to fix it you know. I still love you. I will always love you, you are my son, my one and only. And if you want to come back, I will be here for you." She stepped forward and reached out for him, pulling him close.
Had he not finally seen what true affection between parent and child was supposed to be he might have fallen for her display. But thanks to painful observation of the Weasley family over the last few months, he’d seen how a hug from your mother was supposed to feel, and the thin cold arms now wrapped around him were anything but warm and loving. He pulled away. "There is no coming back, not to this side. Even if I wanted to, they’d never trust me again."
"So you’re just going to continue with this madness?" she cried.
"Why not? You’re continuing on with yours. At least now I’m around people who care about me and don’t just want to use me. Since leaving I haven’t been asked to spy on anyone or plant things on people. I haven’t been instructed to harass anyone or make people miserable. Turns out, I like not doing those things."
"You act as if you had the worst childhood ever. You know it’s not true. We care about you, we love you." She insisted. "I just want my family back!"
"Well you can’t have it." he answered harshly. "I almost believe you, you know. But I refuse to believe Lucius loved either of us. Face it, if he loved you as much as you think, he would have taken you with him when he went underground instead of leaving you to face his public ruination. I won’t be apart of any family that involves him."
"So I’m supposed to choose between you and your father?"
"I wouldn’t ask you to do that. It took a lot for me to break away from him and for you it would be much harder I’m sure. But someday, you may have to choose and I wonder, would you let him take my life?"
"Never." She answered vehemently. "I haven’t seen hide nor hair of since he attempted it at Hogsmeade, or he would have already felt my wrath."
"I wish I believed you. Maybe someday, I will." He stepped further away from her and gestured to Mr. Weasley who once more waved his wand releasing the spell. Voices and sounds filled his ears again.
"Draco, why don’t you go gather whatever you’d like to take with you. We’re about done here." The minister suggested.
Before he could move, Dobby appeared in the parlor, startling Narcissa who hadn’t been aware the creature was once more in her home. "Dobby finds the papers, sir!" He exclaimed excitedly, handing several files over to Mr. Weasley.
"What papers? What is that thing stealing from us?"
"Stealing back you mean." Mad-eye said coming through the large French doors leading to the garden. "Those are files your husband had stolen from the ministry several years ago madam. We are simply regaining our property. Arthur, we are ready to start taking the servants."
"Taking the servants?! What is going on? What exactly are you all here for?!" Narcissa demanded. "You obviously brought my son as a distraction, so what is it you’re looking for?"
"We’ve already found it." Mr. Weasley held up the files. "We are taking the servants to ensure they are not helping hide their master."
"That’s ridiculous. Of course Lucius wouldn’t rely on them for his safety." She snarled, losing some of the regal composure she was known for. Draco had to admit to himself, he liked seeing his mother with her feathers ruffled. She had looked the other way for so many years, seeing, hearing but speaking no evil. Now things were falling down around her and he felt a sick satisfaction.
"That’s not for you to decide." Kingsley said, coming in with Bowie shackled behind him. The old gardener saw Draco but he shook his head, trying to tell the man to give nothing away. He must have taken the hint because he remained quiet.
"Dobby, will you please go help Draco pack his things? We should be leaving soon." Mr. Weasley said to the house elf.
"Sir, Dobby is honored to help the Minister and is happy to be asked and not told to do something." He bowed, glancing at Narcissa before snapping his fingers and disappearing. Without a word, Draco left the parlor and headed up to his room. The stairs seemed higher, longer. He ran up them, feeling the childish fear that something was chasing him. He ran all the way down to his room and closed the door behind him, shutting out the demons.
Dobby was in his closet quickly and carefully packing all his clothes. Draco picked up his dress robes, left where he had haphazardly threw them over his chair after the last awful function his mother had forced him to attend. "Dobby packs that now sir." He reached for the garment.
But Draco shook his head. "That’s okay. I don’t want to take it. Bad memories." He threw the clothing aside and began walking around looking at all of his things. He’d randomly reach for an object and Dobby would anxiously reach to take it from him. But every time Draco would change his mind and decide he didn’t want whatever it was.
Finally tired of following him around the room, Dobby declared, "If Young Master wants to tell Dobby what Young Master wishes to take Dobby will packs it."
Draco looked around and realized there was nothing he wanted to take back with him. Every single thing in the room had a memory attached to it and he felt bringing any of it back would somehow taint Potter’s house. "None of it Dobby. I don’t want to pack any of it."
"What of Young Masters clothes, sir?" Dobby looked horrified at the thought of leaving something so precious behind.
"I’ll make a deal with you. Stop calling me that and you can have any clothes you want to take with you."
He appeared uncertain. "Young Master lets Dobby have any clothes Dobby wants?"
"As long as you stop with the "young master" stuff. You said yourself that Potter tricked my father into freeing you, so you don’t have to call anyone master anymore right?" Draco felt annoyed, wanting no reminder that he had been the master of anyone or anything.
"Dobby is glad Draco Malfoy is friends with Harry Potter. Draco Malfoy is much nicer now. Dobby thanks you sir, for the kind gift." The elf’s eyes grew wide and he smiled. "Dobby very much likes sock sir."
He went to the appropriate drawer and opened it letting the elf root through its contents. Finally, he came up with a garish pair that Draco had never worn. They were Christmas socks striped red and white like a candy cane with bells on the cuff and had been a gift from his grandmother in her more senile years. Clutching his prize tightly, Dobby followed him back down to the parlor and he was glad of the little guy’s company, the hallway and stairwell feeling less foreboding with a companion; especially one with elf powers.
"Everyone’s packing up, we’re just about ready to go." Mr. Weasley announced when they entered the parlor together. He had been seated across from Narcissa and now rose to meet them. "Where are your things?"
"I changed my mind." Draco looked pointedly at his mother. "There’s nothing here I want."
"We’ll tell Arthur as soon as he comes back." Harry told Luna as they hurried back to their room. It was late and they had spent longer with Sarah than they had intended. Though they searched every memory they could find of the three women, nothing more had been said specifically about their plans. It seemed that they were all working separately yet somehow together. Whatever they had planned, it was nothing good, he was sure of that. And though he found them less menacing than Voldemort, at the same time they were somehow more terrifying.
They’re like the three witches in MacBeth, predicting the rise and downfall of everyone. Only these three are the ones planning to ruin everything. Luna answered his thought. He stared at her blankly and she shook her head looking amused. "Hermione would have known."
"I don’t doubt that." He said as they entered the room. Ron was alone. "Ginny take off?"
"Do you see her here?" he answered moodily.
"Okay then." Harry said deciding to let it go. He climbed into his bed and pulled the covers up, hoping tomorrow would be a better day.
Draco felt exhausted and was glad when they decided to put Dobby back at Hogwarts. He had feared they planned on bringing the house elf home and he’d certainly had his fill of the creature for the day. When they finally pulled up in front of Potter’s house, he actually breathed a sigh of relief. There was nothing sinister about the outside, and he knew the inside was bright, cozy and comforting.
"Thank you. For taking me with you today." He said to Mr. Weasley once they were in the entryway.
"I only hope it helped you in some way." He answered with concern. "And I want to thank you, for doing so much to help us."
"I’m trying to make up for some things." Draco said, feeling a stab of guilt. After all, he wasn’t being as helpful as he could be. He hadn’t given up his father… yet. First, he had to figure out why he hadn’t told them about the safe houses, why he had continued to protect his father even that far.
"I’m aware of who you used to be and who you are now. They are still one in the same Draco, the only difference is the decisions you’re making. And if it means anything at all, I’m proud of you for taking a stand and choosing for yourself."
He looked away, unable to meet the man’s reassuring gaze. "It means a lot actually." He said quietly. Mr. Weasley placed a hand on his shoulder before walking past him and into the kitchen. Draco turned and made his way upstairs, walking straight to Ginny’s door and knocking softly. She opened it eagerly, her eyes full of worry. Without a word he threw his arms around her pulling her as close as possible. She returned the embrace, clinging to him tightly and he felt the affection, the care, and the concern she felt for him. It was worth far more than the stiff hugs and awkward displays of affection he’d received growing up. And her father’s words had touched him more than anything his own father had ever said to him. This was certainly where he wanted to be. There was no doubt of it.
"Arthur is checking in with the Aurors downstairs, and then you two are free to leave." Drake announced to Luna and Harry the next morning.
"And me?" Ron asked.
"I’m afraid you still have at least one more night here with us." Drake said apologetically.
"Isn’t there anyway he can recover at home?" Harry asked. He felt bad leaving his friend behind.
"Unfortunately I’m unable to leave the hospital at all for the present moment. I have so much to do before-" he broke off and grinned at them. "Well, nevermind, I just have a lot to do and won’t be able to get away. And you still require a bit of observation Ron."
"Whatever." Ron grumbled as the healer left. Luna went to the bathroom to change back into her street clothes leaving the boys alone. Harry dressed quickly trying not to look too excited about leaving.
"You want me to come back later? I can stay overnight with you." He offered.
"Thanks, but I think I can manage." Ron said still moody. Then he sighed and changed his attitude. "I’ll let you know if and when I change my mind though. Thanks."
"No problem." Harry answered quietly.
"You know Ginny thanked me for saving Draco’s life?" He said suddenly out nowhere.
So his talk with Ginny was what was bothering him. "Well, I heard all about what you did, good job. But no I didn’t know anything she said, we weren’t eavesdropping or anything, we let you guys have your privacy."
"Well she did. Told me she wanted me to understand her desire to be with the jerk, didn’t care if I accepted it or not." He huffed.
"Ron, have you noticed that Draco is still a jerk only to you? You bring it out in each other actually. He treats everyone else pretty well considering. And in return, we treat him pretty okay. It keeps the peace, you know."
"Easy for you to say. He’s not trying to date your sister."
"I don’t think there’s any trying about it." Harry grinned even as Ron’s face turned more sour. "Face it, they found each other and decided it works for them. It doesn’t mean it’ll be forever, right?"
"I don’t know. I guess I’d have to ask Luna. She’s the one with the big picture." He said angrily. "And I’m sorry, but I can’t just shove aside years of resentment towards Malfoy just because he’s having a hard time now and I feel bad for him. And I do feel bad for him, but those feelings are separate from the loathing I’ve felt for him over six years. And I don’t have a bad childhood to bond with him over."
"Whoa, I have never made excuses for the things he’s done, I simply pointed out I understood what drove him. I’m empathetic about his past, not sympathetic. I don’t like knowing about the things he’s done and been part of, all the ways he hurt us and tried to destroy us. But I also know of all the things he’s done and been through since and I believe he wants to change, I really do. That doesn’t mean I think he’ll be successful, it only means that I trust his efforts." Harry defended himself and Draco. "Besides, you don’t see Fred getting himself all worked up over this, he never went looking for a fight."
"Yes you did. I know you better than that. You can say you only wanted to talk to him all you want, but I know you were hoping for things to get out of hand. I’m sure the only thing you didn’t expect was for him to get the upper hand that day."
"No pun intended." Ron grumbled.
"Either way, he’s around for now so you might as well get used to it. We’ll have to live with him at school too, remember?"
"I don’t want to like him."
Harry smiled and shook his head. "No one said you had to. You only have to get along. For Ginny’s sake as well as the rest of us."
"Yeah, yeah." He crossed his arms.
Luna came back a few minutes later, leading Harry to believe that she had been giving them time. "Mr. Weasley is right behind me." She announced just in case.
Sure enough, Arthur came in moments later looking cheerful. "Well Ron, looks like you and I are camping out here tonight. Not quite the family vacation I was hoping for, but it’ll have to do."
"You don’t have to come stay with me dad." Ron said looking embarrassed.
"I know I don’t have to. Doing things I have to do never makes me this happy. I want to do this, think about it; a night away from that crowded house, just us guys sitting up here being guys. Maybe I can convince Fred to come along. Maybe even get Bill and Charlie to stop by, have a meeting of the Weasley men!" Arthur laughed at an idea that also seemed to thrill him. "It’s been so long since we had a boys night. And Harry could come along too of course, as an honorary Weasley, let him see us all at our worst."
"Really, dad. I’ll be fine." Unlike Arthur, Ron looked horrified at the thought of them all gathered around his sick bed. Harry understood the opposition.
"Either way, I’ll be here." He assured his son before turning to the others. "Are you two ready?" They nodded eagerly. "Then let us be off!"
They made their way down to the car lot. "Can’t we just apparate home?" Harry asked.
"We aren’t going home. We’re going to see Bowen Roseblood." He answered as the ministry car pulled up in front of the door. Draco was sitting in the backseat with Lupin and Tonks.
"How’re you two feeling?" Lupin asked as they settled in.
"As good as I can be I guess." Harry answered.
"And you, Luna?" Tonks prompted.
"Fine. I love when the sky is this shade of blue. Such a happy color." Luna answered and Harry turned to her sharply. The random statement hadn’t startled him, it was pretty normal for her, it was her voice which had held the same dreamy quality it used to, back when she had been closed into herself not sharing anything with anyone. He realized how quiet she had been since he’d convinced her to stay and felt it was his fault that she was acting strangely. She was staying because he wanted her to, not because she wanted to. Deciding he needed to make it up to her, he had a sudden stroke of genius. It was a plan he’d have to discuss with Arthur because there was no way he could get away with this idea in secret. He only hoped Arthur agreed that it was as good an idea as he did.
They arrived at a small cluster of houses, all of which shifted out of the way upon their arrival to reveal another hidden in the middle. A short man with a mane of graying hair and a big, bushy, gray mustache greeted them at the door. "Hello again Minister. Master Draco! It is certainly a pleasure to see you again, especially after all of the things I’ve heard of you recently. I always said you were the only one worth a damn in that mansion of misery." He ushered their group into the house.
"Hi Bowie. Just Draco, okay?" He said with embarrassment.
"Certainly! Anything you want." Bowie answered. They all settled comfortably in the small living room. A sturdy woman entered bearing a tray with tea things, a young boy of about five and a girl of not more than eight were hiding shyly behind her. "May I properly introduce my wife, Bethany Roseblood. And these are our children, Angelica and Tobias."
"My name’s Toby." The boy offered with a shy smile from behind his mother’s skirt. Introductions were made, the children’s eyes growing wide at the mention of Harry’s name. "They don’t like you in the big house." Toby told him with all the seriousness of a five-year old, while glancing nervously at Draco.
"We don’t have to worry about the people in the big house anymore. We live here now, lovey." Bethany assured her son.
"I wouldn’t go so far as to say your worries are over." Lupin reminded the woman.
"Oh of course not, we’re just much better off now thanks to all of you." She smiled gracefully. Harry found that he liked her very much, all of them, and couldn’t picture them at the Malfoy mansion.
"Mr. Roseblood-" Arthur began.
"Bowen. Or Bowie." He was quickly interrupted.
"Very well, Bowen, I trust Kingsley explained to you our reasons for moving you and the things we wish to discuss."
"He did. And I remember the incident very well, Beth here nearly tore my head off when she found out what I had done, speaking to that Auror."
"Well, I worried that what happened to him would happen to you." His wife protested.
"He assured me he could keep my name out of it! And so did the one who came to investigate the poor fellow’s death." Bowie let out an argument he had probably used many times over the last six years whenever this topic arose between them.
"I don’t care. It was still one of the most foolish things you’ve ever done, and when we had little Angie to think of and Toby on the way!"
"It’s in the past, woman!" He said in exasperation. "What’s done is done and now it’s brought us here."
Arthur cleared his throat. "Luna here was that Auror’s sister and she would very much like to know what you can tell us about all." He brought them back on point.
"And I’ll gladly tell you young lady. Your brother, I’m told his name was Kane, well he came around the house, at first I thought he was a trespasser the way he was trying to look in the windows. I went to confront him told him I’d alert the house. That’s when he told me why he was there and held up a picture of a man asking if I’d seen him. Well, I hesitated of course, knowing what dangers come with opening your mouth. But he assured me that he’d keep me out of it so I told him I sure had seen the man, that he had been brought into the house and not of his own free will either. He went around to the front and rang the bell and I left it at that hoping he’d find something to stick to Master Malfoy. Couldn’t have been ten minutes later, I was back to planting in the garden when I heard a horrible cry. I turned and saw the poor lad as he hit the ground below that balcony, had to shut my eyes against the horror but I could still hear his scream ringing in my ears."
Harry noticed the tears in Luna’s eyes and cleared his throat, indicating to the man that certain details could be left out. He caught on and quickly moved ahead in his story. "Anyway I hid myself, and saw the Master looking out the window, checking to see if anyone witnessed anything. When the second Auror came I told him everything, again after being reassured that my name wouldn’t be brought up. He seemed to believe me, and I thought for sure that would be it. The Master would be caught and sent away and I could finally leave safely with my family. But a few hours later, the Auror came back with some woman who claimed she could see into the past. Must been something to her, because she walked right to the spot Kane fell without anyone showing her. Her eyes rolled up in her head and she fell to her knees. No one could shake her out of it. And then suddenly it was over and she looked directly at the Master and said it had all happened exactly as he described. Now I didn’t see the boy get pushed, but I know he didn’t fall on his own. He would’ve had to been leaning so far over the side, there was nothing for him to see to warrant his leaning so far. Plus I knew that I had told him the man he was looking for was inside, why would he have looked out at all? But by then Beth here got wind of what I’d done and told me to keep my mouth shut. She said they’d never take my word over anybody else’s, and I guess they wouldn’t have, me being a squib and all."
"Can you describe the woman?" Tonks asked, her tone all business.
"Tall and slender, very pretty- what they asked!" he turned away from his wife’s stern gaze and continued his description. "She couldn’t have been more than thirty-two and had light skin, dark reddish brown hair and the strangest eyes I’ve ever seen."
"What do you mean?" Tonks pressed.
"Well, they were a light golden color, like fresh honey and they pierced right through whatever she was looking at." Harry and Luna looked at each other in horror. They’d seen eyes like that before, in someone else’s memory. Apparently Sarah’s new dark haired friend was Jayalina Delamora’s daughter.
Fred watched the cauldron bubble, waiting for the right time. "And….now!" he dropped the large piece of moonstone into the concoction.
"Okay. Now what?" Hermione asked, flipping through Drake’s notes.
"Now we wait for the stone to turn blue. Then we pull it out and add Drake’s special little tonic here."
"I can’t believe this could actually work." She said with a twinkle in her eye.
"Well don’t get too worked up, it’s only the first trial. Things rarely work out on a first attempt." He cautioned.
"Still, it feels like we’re close to something, doesn’t it? I think it’s all very exciting." She gushed moving closer to look into the cauldron for herself.
Her closeness made him feel nervous but he maintained his cool exterior. However, before he could reply with something clever and witty they heard the front door open and Harry call out. She squealed with excitement and ran out to meet him. "Guess it’s not that exciting." He muttered to himself as he followed her out. He had at least an hour before he had to worry about anything happening with the potion. Might as well go see how the visit with the gardener went.
Hermione had never been so relieved in her whole life. Finally Harry was back home where he should be and soon they’d be back at school where it would be harder for him to get in life threatening trouble. Not impossible as history proved, but harder. Arthur gave them all a little time to freshen up before they were all to gather in the living room to discuss all that had happened. She and Harry raced up to his room to relish the short time they would have alone.
As soon as the door closed they were in each others arms, clutching onto each other tightly. Their emotions came in a rush and they hurriedly discarded their clothing, crashing together in a tangled mass of relief, need and desire. Afterward, they lay next to each other, trying to catch their breath. "Suddenly, I don’t feel as sore." He smiled at her, leaning over to kiss her cheek.
"Suddenly I don’t feel so tense." She answered, stretching luxuriously before propping herself up and looking at him regretfully. "They’ll be expecting us down there pretty soon."
"Then let’s get it over with so we can lock ourselves in here for the night." He rose and began pulling on fresh clothes. As soon as they both felt they were presentable, they hurried down to the parlor. She was embarrassed to discover everyone else was already assembled.
They sat quickly and Arthur began filling Molly and the others in on what was happening and what was being planned. Just as Harry was beginning to tell them what he and Luna had seen in Sarah’s head the day before the front door slammed open and Kingsley came rushing in. "Urgent news Arthur. The Changs have been caught!"
Harry sat in the kitchen staring at the plate of food he had put together. It was very late and he had left Hermione sleeping peacefully in his room to come and try to eat his own way to sleepiness. But now looking at it all in front of him, his stomach turned in disgust. He wasn’t hungry at all. Hearing footsteps, he sighed in frustration. Even in the middle of the night he couldn’t find a moment alone. "Hey, Draco." He said wearily when the other boy entered.
"Oh, hey." He said awkwardly. "I didn’t think anyone else was awake. Just wanted a drink." He moved carefully around the kitchen, getting a glass and filling it from the water pitcher in the refrigerator, watching Harry as if waiting for something to happen.
"I heard about the Changs. That’s good news, right?"
"I suppose. I doubt they’ll admit to anything, Cho never has."
"Maybe I can help." Draco said hesitantly. "I know a little about them. Not much though, I wasn’t told much."
Harry pushed out the chair next to him and gestured for him to sit. "Every little bit helps right?" he said as the other boy took a seat with his glass of water.
"Well, like I told you before, I was surprised to find out that Cho was going to be my accomplice last year. Before that I had no idea she or her family had anything to do with any of that."
"She told us that she only found out herself that summer." He added.
Draco laughed. "She lied to you. From what my father said, the Changs were deeper underground than we were during the whole time Lord Voldemort was gone, completely off the radar. The reason being they hadn’t moved to London until right before you got rid of him. They were followers from afar, safely hidden in their own village and had only planned to move after they saw his rise to power. Cho was about two years old, I think, when they did come here. Lucius said he knows for a fact they were two of the others dressed in Death Eater robes with him at three different attacks. And then it was over, the Dark Lord was gone and you had been taken and hidden away while his followers were rounded up. New to town, no one from the ministry knew the Changs, and no one on our side mentioned them."
"And since? Have they continued going to the meetings since he returned?"
"According to my father. But I don’t know anything specific beyond what I’ve already disclosed about my part with Cho. I don’t know what they’ve done and I don’t know how involved they are in everything their daughter did."
"Arthur plans on going to Azkaban to find out for himself. Can I ask you a favor?" Harry asked reluctantly. It was something that had been stirring in his mind, but he was hesitant to admit his reasons for not wanting to do this himself, especially to Draco Malfoy.
"I guess." He answered suspiciously.
"Will you ask to go with him? I need someone to talk to Cho, privately, about what happened that night we were there and the things we’ve since learned from Sarah’s memories. Ron’s in no shape to face her, and Arthur would never agree to let him or Fred and Ginny go. And I can’t ask Hermione and especially not Luna to go."
"And that leaves me to be the spy." He looked disappointed, making Harry feel bad.
"You can say no. It’s an option, you know."
"Is it? If I say no it makes me ungrateful and useless. Not to mention suspicious. If I say yes then I have to go see someone who very much hates me and who I’m not too fond of myself."
"I asked as a favor. Favors can be turned down with no hard feelings." Harry swallowed hard and decided to be honest. "I understand why you wouldn’t want to. Why do you think I’m asking? I can’t make myself go and face her. She got me, she and Sarah both got me good. I can’t sit across from her and see her gloat when she has no right. She’s the one locked away and still she managed to ruin part of me. I’m scared that if I go, I’ll do something I can’t take back."
"So it’s really gone, then. The power is really gone?" Draco asked. Harry was surprised to see pity in his eyes.
"For now. Hopefully Gabriella is as good as we think she is."
"Yeah, hopefully." He looked away and took a long drink from his water, his other arm resting on the table, still unfinished.
Harry had a sudden thought, remembering a conversation he’d walked in on days ago. "When we hear back from her, do you want us to ask is she can speed things up with your arm?"
Draco studied his limb carefully and finally shook his head. "No, I want Drake to finish. He said I’m the first person this has worked for, and he has been successful. It’s almost done anyway."
"Wow. It’s strange to hear you thinking of others so much lately. I like it." Harry assured him, hoping to help him see he was making good progress.
Draco reddened but ignored the comment. "Do you think there’s anyway she can fix the other thing? You know, take away the curse?" He turned to Harry looking for an honest opinion.
"I don’t know. All we can do is ask." He answered supportively.
"Okay. I’ll go talk to Cho. Tell me everything you want to know and I’ll do my best to get the answers, but I can’t guarantee she’ll be all that cooperative. She probably wants me dead almost as much as she does you."
"You don’t have to." Harry told him again.
"I know, it’s my choice, and that’s why I’m choosing to go." He answered decisively.
Harry thanked him feeling more than grateful. He only hoped he wasn’t making a big mistake.
"This is stupid." Ginny said as Draco once more prepared to leave with her father. Only this time they were going somewhere far worse.
"Look, I’m not one hundred on this either. But I told Potter I’d do it so I will." He answered stubbornly.
"I don’t see why. And I can’t believe he asked you in the first place!" she threw herself down on the bed in exasperation. "I can’t believe my father agreed to it. You were right, they’ll all do anything to make him happy."
"I told you, he gave me his reasons and I agreed with them. Besides, it’s really the only thing he’s asked of me since I got here, it’s the least I could do to show a little good faith."
"Bull. You’re going so he’ll like you more. It’s the same reason you used to do the things your father told you to do." She pointed out.
"Maybe, the difference being Potter asked, gave me the option."
"Oh please. He knew you’d never say no."
"Yeah, well who are you anyway to lecture me on doing things to get people to like you!" he said angrily.
She sat up in shock. "Excuse me?"
"What, I’m just supposed to sit here and listen to you tell me how weak and easily manipulated I am?"
"That’s not what I said at all!" she argued.
"Isn’t it? I’m going, I have my reasons for doing so beyond the ones Potter listed so deal with it or move on." He stormed out leaving her alone in his room.
What had just happened? She had no idea where the sudden anger had come from, and she really hadn’t meant what he thought. She had simply been worried that he’d let his gratitude get him in trouble. Even Harry and Luna hadn’t been safe from Cho, why would Draco fair any better? There was something else eating away at him, she was sure of it. What it was that he couldn’t discuss with her she couldn’t imagine, but the thought of anything he’d need to keep secret terrified her. It couldn’t be anything good.
Draco sat alone in the room waiting for them to bring Cho in. It had taken a lot of convincing to get Mr. Weasley to agree to let him have a private conversation but he had and decided to allow them a cone of silence. Meanwhile, Tonks and Kingsley were to remain in the room with them while Mr. Weasley, Mad-eye and a few more Aurors interrogated Cho’s parents. Draco had of course promised to relay any information that he gathered relevant to any of the things they were currently investigating. But that wasn’t what he was worried about. If his sudden argument with Ginny was indication, he was nervous about the other things they were sure to discuss.
The giants had arrived at the prison a few days before, and he could hear their lumbering steps as they patrolled the hallways. Finally Cho was brought in and chained to the chair across from him. She said nothing, simply glared at him with an evil smile plastered across her face. Draco nodded to Tonks and she waved her wand, giving them privacy while they watched on.
"Did they tell you they arrested your parents?" he asked.
"I could care less. I’m beyond them." She replied.
"Yeah, because now you’ve teamed up with Sarah, Elise and the other one, right? You really think you all can take on both sides?"
"I have no idea what you’re talking about."
"Of course you do. You just don’t know how I know. Well, we all know, from me and Potter right up to the minister. We know what you are all four up to now."
"You’re fishing. Why else would they send you to talk to me? Thought maybe you could rekindle old flames between us?" She sneered.
He steeled himself. "There was nothing to rekindle and you know it. All there was were a couple of drunken mistakes."
"Oh sure, you made the same mistake more than once. We had something Draco, it may have been wrong and perverse but let’s not start denying history."
"I know what you’re doing. You trying to get in my head and make me upset. I won’t let you. Tell me when you met Sarah."
"I’ll tell you nothing. How’s Potter and Lovegood? Last I saw them, they were having a few problems." She cackled.
"I can tell you how Sarah is." Draco countered. "She’s in a coma."
"Like it matters. You can’t stop anything now, it’s too late." She said. "There is nothing that can disrupt my plans."
"So how much do you know about their plans? Because I’m betting they’re only stringing you along until they get what they want out of this whole mess. It would be easy with you being locked away here."
"You act as if I’ll be here forever." She threw back.
"You killed Longbottom and nearly killed Ginny, Luna and Potter as well. Not to mention making threats against them all right here in front of the minister and Albus Dumbledore. You won’t be out for a long time." He pushed, hoping she’d reveal more. Her simple statement had been enough to assure him that at some point, the plan was to break her out.
"Maybe. But you better watch yourself and your friends if I do. Don’t think I don’t know who’s responsible for getting me sent here in the first place. If you hadn’t opened your big mouth at the trial… tell me, did it even work? I know why you turned on me. I used to see the way you watched that crazy little Weasley when we spied on them last year. I know it upset you that she got caught up in my plan to get rid of Luna and keep Ron from testifying. So have you won her heart with this big change? Was she worth turning on us all? I hope she was and I hope you two cherish the short time you have together."
"You don’t know what you’re talking about." He said, careful not to reveal his fear or anger. She was poking at him, the way she did Potter. But he wasn’t like Potter, he didn’t wear his emotions out on his sleeve and he didn’t want Cho knowing the best buttons to push.
"Of course I do. I’m no idiot." She smiled again. "Did you tell her about us? I bet you didn’t. I bet if she knew the places you’ve been before her she’d be disgusted. Now I certainly don’t consider myself all that repulsive, but I bet she thinks differently."
"Whatever Ginny Weasley thinks is nothing to me, so of course I wouldn’t tell her or anyone else how desperate I was to think you a viable option for company." He said sternly. "Apparently it’s you who’s having trouble forgetting about all that."
"Don’t flatter yourself. I have very little to do in here besides remember all the things that made me decide to destroy you all."
"Again, I’d be a little more worried if I wasn’t visiting you in prison."
"But you are here, meaning something has you worried." She pointed out. "I’m sure Harry at least is feeling the effects of my reach beyond my jail cell."
"Perhaps, but it wasn’t really you who hurt him, was it? They know it was Sarah, and they know how she did it."
He saw the indecision and slight surprise that crossed her face, but it passed quickly. "I don’t care what they think they know about what happened. I know what will happen and that’s enough for me."
"I’m sure one of your allies being put in a coma wasn’t planned. And by the way, you know who put her in that hospital bed? Potter. Even after what you all did to him he still got the upper hand. Maybe you should re-evaluate things a little."
"I think we’ll be fine. It’s yourself you should be worried about. Neither side of the war is safe anymore."
"And you four are the ones threatening everyone? I’m terrified."
"No, not yet you aren’t. But just wait for the action to really begin. Jail, comas, nothing can stop us. We’ve seen to that. So why don’t you just go back and enjoy the girl you worked so hard to impress for the short time you’ll be able."
"I will. Thank you, you’ve been very helpful." He stood and motioned to Tonks who released the spell.
"I haven’t said anything." Cho said with no indication that she cared whether or not they were heard now.
"It’s what you didn’t say Cho. I’ve lived this life too, I know the doublespeak." He grinned at her as a large giant lumbered in and took her back into custody.
"I’ll see you sometime soon, you can count on it Draco. We have a few things to settle, you and I." She said as she was unchained from the chair and put in walking shackles.
"Then keep it between us." He warned her. She shot him an evil smile as she was led away.
"I don’t know exactly what they’re planning, but I think you all should up your security around her and Sarah." He told the two Aurors. "I’m positive a prison break is planned, and I’m almost just as sure that they intend to retrieve Sarah."
"They as in the girls or they as in Voldemort?" Kingsley tried to clarify.
"Does it really matter?" Tonks asked as they headed back to the main office.
"I think they want to get Sarah before he does." Draco speculated. "It doesn’t seem like Cho has been working with anyone but those women since she got here."
"I’ll go check on Arthur and Moody." Kingsley said as he left them at the office door.
"Let’s wait inside." Tonks suggested as another giant walked past them. The entered the Warden’s office which now belonged to Basillion, Gurg of the giants. Thankfully he wasn’t in. The giants seemed to make him feel as anxious as they did Tonks.
She took a seat in the small waiting area while he walked around inspecting things on the desk. There was one more thing Potter had wanted him to find out. "Well, that seemed to be a pretty intense conversation." She said trying to fill the silence.
"Cho is a pretty intense person lately." He answered finding what he was looking for. "Can I look through this? See if I recognize any of names of the people who visited her?"
"I don’t see why not."
He flipped through the visitor log, looking for Cho’s name. Each time he found it, the same name appeared next to it. Except of course for today and the one other time he had come here. He wasn’t sure how it was possible, but he certainly recognized the name. Apparently, the person who had been visiting Cho was Jayalina Delamora, or someone using her name.
NOTE: Okay, moving along nicely now that most of the set up is out of the way and we can start unraveling everything that’s been set up. So much more coming up, so stick with me. I’m working hard on it.
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