Chapter 66 : Lunarscript
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A/N: Read, Review and Enjoy!
It had taken quite a lot to convince both Hagrid and Madame Maxime to go along with their plan... they'd eventually had to bring in Arthur, who hadn't been too happy to learn that Harry and Jacey had already taken the step to be on Azkaban's island. In the end, Harry had argued his case through the compact and come out the victor... though he did feel much better having the adults' support for once in one of these schemes. It was like there was a safety net behind him that had always been there but he was only now aware of it when the chances of falling seemed so much more real. He could no longer hide behind the excuse of being an underage student when caught doing wrong and failure here meant bad things for him, Luna and Jacey should they be caught before Arthur could get back to the ministry to erase all record of Nerezza's arrest of Luna. In the meantime, they had to hope Hagrid and Madame Maxime could convince Basillion, the giants' gurg, that the Minister of Magic was right in covering up the mistaken incarceration of a young girl by the Head Auror and allowing that girl to disappear into the night without anyone's notice. Thankfully, this gurg seemed to possess more awareness than the others and hopefully he could be made to understand the necessity of such a plot... especially if Hagrid made the case that Nerezza was suspected of working for Voldemort. Basillion seemed to be really against Voldemort since Walden Macnair's attempts to get in with the giants went sour... and by sour, he meant Walden was killed.
I hope this works. Harry thought to Jacey as all the ways it could go wrong flashed through his head. They were standing together under the cloak behind their half-giant friends as they all waited to go into Azkaban.
Only Luna can tell us the potential outcome. She thought back in concern. Though they could both feel the connection, Luna was purposely keeping them out. While Harry could easily push through the resistance on his own, neither he nor Jacey was sure they should... certainly Luna had to have a reason for keeping them out. He could feel his patience wavering. The only reason he'd been able to wait long enough for any kind of real plan to be formed was his determination to ensure they would all be safe from consequence after today. He didn't want to have to go on the run, he wanted to leave the country on his own terms whenever he pleased. But Luna's prolonged silence and the uncomfortable feeling of panic he could feel her trying to hide was pumping up his adrenaline and making him less willing to wait for the right time to make a move.
'Ere we go. Madame Maxime thought out at last as the door opened, stopping Harry's desire to simply blast it open and walk in without care as to who saw him. Now that they were finally being led in, he managed to regain some of his self-control and was able to think a little more clearly. As soon as he saw an opportunity he broke away from the group, leading Jacey as far into the jail as he could remember. Pressing themselves up against the wall, they made sure the coast was clear before pulling out the compact once more and calling their friends back home. Hermione's worried face appeared in the mirror.
“What's going on? Is everything okay?” She asked quickly.
“We're in, Hagrid and Madame Maxime are meeting with the gurg now.” He answered. “We need Fred to lead us the rest of the way, I can't remember which way to go.”
“Where exactly are you?” Fred asked.
After explaining his location, Harry listened to the directions carefully before handing the compact to Jacey and quickly leading the way to the women's cellblock. His only concerns were getting there as fast as possible and ensuring they were properly covered by the cloak as they went. Jacey was more practical in her concerns. “What is going on there? Has Arthur returned from the Ministry yet?” She quietly asked into the compact as they moved.
“No... Before he left he said he's called a special emergency meeting together to ensure that he has support in overriding Luna's arrest.” Ron answered her. “We think he's planning to convince them that keeping Luna's release a secret from Nerezza is a step in his plan to uncover the irregularities in Nerezza's suspicious appointment to Head Auror without any of them knowing about it.”
“It's what he would've done in any case to get Luna out I'm sure since there really isn't anything else to do... Harry just pushed him into figuring it all out sooner.” Hermione put in, wanting to be helpful while still reminding him that he'd once more jumped ahead without thinking. Didn't he get any credit for letting Arthur and Hagrid help... even if it was after he'd already gone to the prison?
“We're at the stairs.” He announced, opening the door that led up the familiar stairway. The closer they were getting to the place Luna was, the more uncomfortable he was feeling... clearly it wasn't his own emotions running him as he was actually feeling more relieved the closer he got to her. So what was she trying to hide from him?
He wanted to push into Luna's mind but was distracted by Fred's voice as it echoed from the compact. “Okay, go up five flights and you'll be there... should only be one Auror to deal with on duty in that cellblock. Good luck avoiding any giants that may be up there... make sure you guys keep that cloak on.”
“I should've thought to give you mine as well so you'd each have one.” Draco's regretful voice drifted up from the background.
“No worries Draco... I didn't really give you the chance to think of it.” Harry said as he and Jacey began climbing the first flight, careful to keep their footsteps from carrying up the stairwell and alerting anyone who may be up there. He hoped his silencing charm was enough to cover their voices if not their shoes.
“Let us know if-” Jacey started to say but was interrupted as Luna's voice tore through their heads.
Harry! Jacey! There's an Auror... he wants the letters I found... he's working for Cho and he won't go away. She told them in a panic.
Harry didn't know what letters she was talking about and he didn't care. If there was an Auror here who was working with Cho that only meant bad things. We're coming. He assured her, breaking into a sprint up the stairs.
“A complication has arisen. We will call you back when we know more.” Jacey puffed into the compact as she raced to keep up with Harry.
He's opening the cell door! Luna's voice was now filled with fear as she waited to face down an unknown enemy and it was pulsating though Harry's head, fueling his own anxious terror of the unknown. Now taking the stairs two at a time, he ignored the burning in his legs and barely noticed that the cloak had fallen away.
I have got it. Jacey assured him, her own athleticism allowing her to keep up with him as she grabbed up the discarded cloak. Let us just get up there before it is too late.
They had one flight to go and he cast out his mind to see how many people they were dealing with... Fred had said to expect eight prisoners this time, including Luna. He sensed nine minds waiting behind the door. This had to mean the only extra person nearby was the Auror that was threatening Luna. After relaying this to Jacey, they got back under the cloak with the intention of sneaking up on the man. But that plan went right out the window as soon as Luna's scream resounded both in their heads and aloud. Throwing open the door, Harry once more rushed forward from under the cloak wanting only to reach the cell in time.
“This is your last chance... give me the letters.” The Auror threatened.
“No.” Luna stood her ground while quickly reaching her highest levels of panic on the inside. Harry had assured her he was on his way... would he get here before the letters were taken from her?
“Very well.” He unlocked her cell and threw the door open as his entire frame blocked the entrance and stopped any ideas of trying to slip past him. He's opening the cell door! She involuntarily thought out to Harry... her fear overwhelmed her and all she knew was that she didn't want to be alone with this man and these insanely criminal women in the cells around her who had started to create a ruckus, pleading with the Auror to unlock their cells as well. But he paid them no attention, keeping his sharp, beady eyes on her. “I was trying to play nice, but now you're about to see how mean I can be.” He said with a sinister grin as he raised his wand and came toward her.
She tried to back away but a few steps found her against the wall. Still she kept the letters behind her back... there was something in them that was important for them all to know and she wasn't about to just hand that knowledge over no matter what threat the man presented. If he wanted the letters he'd have to take them by force and it certainly seemed that was his intention. “Just tell Cho they weren't here.” She suggested in a soft soothing voice, hoping that perhaps he didn't really want to have to hurt her over something that would seem so trivial to him.
He stopped within a foot of her, using his height tower over and intimidate her much shorter, smaller form. “I would, but she's got some new friends on the outside who I wouldn't want to cross. This is it, either hand them over or I'll take them by force... and I'll enjoy it too.”
“How do you know that it's any better to cross my friends on the outside?” She asked, clutching the letter more tightly.
“I'll take my chances.” He growled, lunging forward and grabbing her hand that held those blasted letters. She struggled to free herself and rush past him but he held strong, painfully twisting her arm behind her back... still she refused to release the letters. “Sectumsempra!” He shouted, waving his wand at her arm even as he continued to twist it.
The sudden pain of the now bleeding gash mingled with the agony of him twisting her limbs and took her by surprise, making her utter a loud scream though whether it was aloud or only in her head she had no idea... but her legs buckled and she fell to knees in front of him, trying to find a way to slip out of his grasp and break free. But he simply twisted her arm further, eliciting another scream of surprised pain. Her fingers were going numb and she could feel her hold on the letters start to loosen against her will as he tried to pull them away from her. “Hey!” Someone yelled from behind them, startling them both into turning though he didn't let her go... her forearm was on the verge of breaking, she could feel it... one more slight twist... so she froze, hoping it wouldn't come to broken bones.
Harry! Jacey! Relief washed over her in comforting waves as she looked up to see them both standing at the cell door.
“Who the hell-” The Auror interrupted his own question as Harry's recognizable face registered in the man's brain. “What are you doing here Mr. Potter? This is no place for the likes of you.”
“I came for a visit with a friend who was recently imprisoned and heard her screaming... what exactly are you doing?” Harry asked with false calmness. It was crystal clear to Luna that he and Jacey were simply waiting for the man to let her go before unleashing their fury.
“None of your business. All visits are to be conducted downstairs, I suggest you go there now.” The Auror said with defensive anger. It was to their advantage that he didn't seem to realize that the person they came for was her.
“We were not sure where to go and became lost.” Jacey said, emphasizing her accent as she took a step in front of Harry and exuded the same exotic sensuality that had instantly roped in Ron. “Perhaps you could show us the way? I would be so grateful to you.” She added in a lower more persuasive voice.
He looked down at Luna and then back at the others, clearly trying to decide what was in his best interest. Figuring reports of him being helpful and vigilant of visitors to the prison would look better than reports of him abusing inmates, he gave in. Of course he really didn't know who he was dealing with. “Fine, I suppose this can wait until later... But I will come back for those letters, no matter what I have to do to get them.” The Auror threatened her... and then he made his biggest mistake. He let Luna go, throwing her forward so that she landed on the bed. Knowing what her friends were waiting to do, she quickly scrambled to the end of the bed as far from the man as possible as Jacey pointed her finger and engulfed him in flames. His terrified cries of pain were short lived as Harry waved his wand to silence him. Luna turned away, not wanting to see the Auror silently begging them to stop.
And then she felt Harry hands on her, gently pulling her from the cell and into his arms where he held her tightly in relief. She clung to him as well, finding that moment of peace before pulling away and thrusting the letters at him. “Here put these in your pocket.” She instructed, noticing the envelopes were now stained with drops of her blood.
Harry noticed too, shoving the letters in his inner coat pocket before carefully taking her arm and waving his wand to try and undo the damage the Auror had done. “Episkey.” He demanded of his wand and slowly the long bloody scar closed and faded to nothing more than a healed over scratch.
“If we do not do something, the yelling will bring more Aurors.” Jacey called over the cries, shouts and screams of the other seven women in the cells around them. She dropped her fire and walked out into the corridor with them, not caring to give the man another thought. Luna took the chance to look in and see him lying on the floor twitching, his skin severely burned and his clothes still smoking... but he was alive as far as she could tell.
Harry took a step back and spread his arms. “Hey!” He shouted, using his power to propel all of the women forward against the bars of their cells where they could see him and he could see them. “Silencio!” Jacey waved her wand, ending the outraged noise and leaving them with the ringing echo of utter silence. Using his power to keep all of the women up front, Harry allowed Jacey to visit each cell and use the obliviate memory charm, keeping everyone from recalling they had been there.
“Get the tunnel open.” He instructed as he walked into Cho and Luna's cell to erase the Auror's memory of how he came to be so severely injured. Showing Jacey to push on the cliffs jutting out of the wall, Luna went to pull on the stone branch and working together, they caught the trip and the large stone tree swung forward. “Let's get out of here.” Harry said quickly as he grabbed up his cloak and tried to herd them into the tunnel.
“Wait!” Luna said clutching at her neck in sudden remembrance. “They took my necklace when we got here along with my other things. I need that necklace.” She insisted, not wanting to leave behind her dragon claw.
“I'll tell Hagrid to be sure he has it when he gets your other things from the gurg.” Harry assured her, continuing to get them all into the tunnel before turning and pulling the tree closed. He and Jacey lit their wands and all three of them let out a large sigh of relief.
“Now what?” Jacey asked.
Harry turned to Luna. “You'll have to lead the way... I don't really remember this part from last time.”
“I know, you don't have to remind me.” She muttered, pushing the memory of their last trip down this tunnel far from her mind. Taking his hand, she led the way to the grate where they could sneak out and find a place from which they could apparate home.
Arthur still hadn't returned from the Ministry by the time Harry, Luna and Jacey apparated back to the house... though Molly was waiting to let them know just how unhappy she was with his decision making. But with Arthur still gone, Harry had other things to worry about than Molly's already ebbing anger... like whether he needed to start packing. If it was taking the Minister of Magic this long to make his case, then surely the result won't be favorable.
“Give him time.” Luna answered his thoughts as she pulled on a fresh sweater. She had wanted to change clothes before gathering with the rest of their friends. Harry couldn't blame her, he wouldn't want to face anyone wearing prison garb and it hurt to see her in it more than it had to see Sirius who had actually been in Azkaban for longer and under the reign of the Dementors. Thank Merlin Luna had gone while the giants were there and she only had to worry about the Auror Cho had somehow charmed into doing her bidding. To Harry, the few hours she spent there were equal to the years Sirius or Willem had gone... all three had been falsely imprisoned and so he considered any time they had to spent there unforgivable.
“You'd tell me if you saw this all going wrong, right?” He asked in complete seriousness.
She looked up and smiled at him. “Of course.”
“You aren't very convincing.” He frowned.
“Seeing as how you intend to be my constant shadow for fear that I have some vision I don't tell you about, I don't think I'd be able to keep you from knowing if I saw something relating to all of this.” She laughed, a light musical sound that broke through the stormy dread that had been gathering inside of him. Grabbing up the letters she'd found in Cho's cell, she walked over to where he stood by the door and threw her arms around him, resting her head against his shoulder and sighing in contentment as he returned the embrace. “I'm sure if Arthur had failed, I would have known.” She told him. “Let's not worry until we have a reason... especially since there are so many other things that require our focus.”
Thinking of all their friends waiting across the hall in Jacey's room, Harry took a deep breath and allowed himself to relax with only partial success. There was a part of him that would always be on edge, waiting for something to happen that will call him into action... but for now he had to remind himself that Luna was back safely in his house and the rest of his friends were waiting, desperately wanting to figure out how they could help. The stuff about the Dark Society would wait for later, when he could talk to Luna alone about the things he'd learned from Macnair. Surely she could sense that he had much to tell her, but she didn't push, preferring to allow him to do so in his own time.
Reluctantly letting her go, he led the way across the hall and opened Jacey's door. Hermione, Jacey and Ron were all sitting on the bed and it was clear they'd all been arguing. “What's going on?” Harry asked.
Fred, still bound in his wheelchair, was the one to answer. “They're debating whether Dad and Hagrid can pull this off... not that we'd want you to still be in prison of course.” He grinned at Luna. “How was it in the big house?”
“I found these.” She replied, placing the letters on the bed and letting the others gather round to take a look.
Everyone grabbed one and opened it, Harry included as he wanted to see what Luna had been so desperate to protect. The envelope was blank except for the few that had drops of her blood, but the paper inside was covered in strange symbols that almost looked like words. “What language is this?” He asked Hermione as everyone else turned to look at her, their resident answer giver.
But she was shaking her head in confusion. “I have no idea... I've never seen anything like it...” She trailed off, torn between trying to make the symbols make sense and searching her brain for any time she may have come across this before.
“Well whatever they are, Cho left them behind.” Luna reported. “She made an alliance with one of the less honest Aurors and he hand delivered these to her... She and her friends somehow heard that I'd been taken to Azkaban and she sent the Auror to retrieve what she'd forgotten... the letters were hidden inside the wall.”
“How could they have known? They clearly made their stand yesterday that they were no longer with Voldemort and the Death Eaters and I'm certain none of us told them.” Ron mused.
“Well, at least now you're sure Cho's alive and you didn't kill her.” Ginny looked to Draco, wanting to see if this comforted him at all... but he was still distracted with the letter he'd picked up, staring at the paper inquisitively. “What is it?” She asked, going to look over his shoulder to see if his letter was any different.
“This...” Draco held the paper out to them all, showing his was no different than theirs. “It's almost like I can read it... I don't know how to explain... I recognize it but I don't.” He struggled to make himself understood.
“You've seen it before?” Harry prodded, hoping to activate the other boy's memory.
He shook his head. “No, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before... but it's familiar... like I could read it but the words don't make sense...” He sighed in irritation.
But Hermione lit up, finally able to perhaps provide enlightenment. “I've got it! It must be lunarscript!” She cried out in excitement.
“Lunarscript? What is that?” Jacey asked doubtfully.
“The language of werewolves.” Hermione gestured to Draco. “I read about it in our defense books though Lupin never really covered it in class... And why would he? Only werewolves can read lunarscript.”
“Except Cho Chang isn't a werewolf.” Ginny pointed out.
“No... but...” Hermione scrunched her nose as she thought, trying to put it all together. “But if she had a werewolf somewhere in her blood line she could've inherited some of their abilities.”
“Elise and Elanya wanted Cho released before yesterday for two reasons.” Luna said, ready to fill them in on the motives that Lupin had dismissed in favor of action on the train. “They wanted her to use the knowledge from her parents to set those explosion spells and they wanted her to face Draco...” She turned to look at Draco directly. “If she has werewolf blood in her genes, it makes sense that they'd want her to try and convince you to join them rather than chance facing you themselves... it also makes sense that she wouldn't have been as scared of you until after you broke her arm.”
Bet she's scared now. Harry heard Ginny think out as a satisfied smirk crossed her face. He agreed and now that they were certain she was still alive, he was just as happy that Cho had been knocked down a peg by someone she'd completely underestimated.
“How far back in her ancestry would this real werewolf have to be in order for her to still have the ability to read Lunarscript?” Fred asked Hermione.
“I'm not sure... perhaps Lupin could tell us.” She suggested.
“There's a letter here for every full moon that passed while Cho was locked up.” Fred pointed out.
“That's because only werewolves can read it.” Hermione repeated. “The curse is eternal, but they only change once a month... twice if it's a blue moon. If this was their chosen code then they could only communicate once a month.”
“So how do they write it? Even with Wolfsbane, neither Lupin nor Draco seemed all that focused on letter writing.” Ginny asked.
Draco turned to Jacey's desk and picked up a paper and quill... Harry could see that he was nervous as everyone watched him begin to make those strange symbols. “Well... I tried to write my name, I have no idea whether I did or not.” He said, presenting his work to the rest of them.
“We'll find out tomorrow.” Fred needlessly reminded him. “Dad wants you and Lupin to stay here because of all the danger out there right now... he said that with the potion and the amulets, he trusts you both to be able to maintain yourselves.”
“I wish I were are sure as he is.” Draco muttered, handing the papers over to Hermione and walking out of the room without another word.
“Well, I guess I wouldn't be happy to be cooped up in a house with a ton of people when I'm supposed to turn into a wild beast either.” Ron said, sitting back down on the bed with a sigh.
“With the amulet, he doesn't have to worry about turning.” Fred answered defensively, rolling himself over to Hermione to take a closer look at what Draco had written.
“But will the amulet keep him from being able to read the letters?” Harry wondered aloud while feeling the need to go talk to Draco and make sure his friend was alright.
“We won't know until tomorrow.” Hermione said, shaking her head and sitting next to Ron.
“I'm going to go talk to him.” Ginny announced with evident concern.
“Wait!” Harry rushed to stop her from walking out the door. “Let me talk to him for a minute first... please?”
She shrugged and gestured for him to go. Silently telling Luna that they'd meet up in her room later, he left it to her and Jacey to fill in the others on the rest of their Azkaban journey. Stepping out into the hall, he slowly made his way down to Draco's room... he sensed that the other boy wanted to talk to him, he just wasn't sure now was the right time. Rather than simply open the door, he knocked, wanting to give Draco every opportunity to deny him entry if he so chose. He answered looking wary. “Can I come in?” Harry asked.
“It's your house.” He shrugged and went back into his room, leaving the door open.
Harry followed him in, closing the door tightly behind him. “I asked Ginny to let me come talk to you.” He said awkwardly as a way to explain his presence.
“I don't know... whatever you needed to talk about I guess.” He went and sat at the desk, wanting to give Draco space yet show that he was willing to be there for him.
“I think it's too dangerous for me to stay here tomorrow, regardless of potions and amulets.” He blurted out, collapsing on the edge of his bed and hanging his head. “I need more work on my control.” He quietly admitted.
“Well, the last time when you and Lupin changed... you said the amulets fully worked, right?” Harry asked.
“As far as we could tell... we went right out under the moon and didn't change.”
“Okay... and despite everything that happened yesterday after Cho took your amulet, once you had it back you were once more able to think completely with your own mind?” He pushed.
Draco shook his head with an annoyed smile, already seeing where Harry was going with this. “I don't think it's ever completely my own mind anymore, the wolf is always there to influence... but yeah, I get what you're saying.”
“Exactly.” He grinned and went to sit next to him. “We certainly know better than to take that amulet... and we all trust that you won't take it off yourself. So what is there to worry about?”
“Everything... you of all people should understand that.” Draco turned to look at him. “No matter how safe it seems, something can always go wrong.”
“Not here... at least not anymore.” Harry said with conviction. “There is no where in the world that feels as safe to me as this house since Sirius left it to me. I know that can't always be true... but right now and at least through tomorrow, I'm certain that it is.”
“Yet you're going to leave in a few weeks to go everywhere that's unsafe...” He said casually as he stood and moved to his desk to absently sort through papers.
“Are you not coming with?” Harry asked, picking up on the less than subtle cues that this was something that had been bothering his friend.
“I don't know... should I?” Draco turned and looked at him in earnest, wanting him to give direction, to say what the right thing to do was.
“That's up to you.” He answered honestly. “All I can tell you is that I'd like for you to come... I trust you and your judgment and I've come to realize that I really depend on you to help keep us all safe. But I can't say that it won't be dangerous or that we'll even all survive it. I'm not making anyone come with us... and Luna, Jacey and I should probably do it alone... but Hermione and Ron would never agree to stay behind and I'm sure Fred will go wherever Hermione does. What you and Ginny decide to do it up to you both... But I personally wouldn't see you as a hindrance, only an asset.”
“I trust you too... just so you know.” Draco said quietly. “It's strange... it all changed to suddenly and yet it seems to have always been this way... less than a year ago-”
“Forget about all of it.” Harry interrupted. “There are a lot of things in the past that are already in the process of coming back to haunt us. Anything that happened between us before this last year doesn't have to be a part of it... I'd like to think we're beyond all of that after all we've been through with each other.”
“I just don't want to go with and be the thing that winds up hurting you all.” He said, shaking his head. “It's been a long time since I hated you guys and now... I just don't want Voldemort, Lucius and Harland's plan to work, I don't want either of us to have to turn on the other because I'm a werewolf.”
“Fred has found a way to ensure that doesn't happen... and knowing him, once he has a chance to think he'll be working on something better and more efficient than the amulets. You have options available to you that others before you could only dream of... start looking at it that way. Don't you think Lupin would have loved to have had this amulet years ago? You don't have to struggle the way he did for so long... hell, the Minister of Magic believes in you enough to demand you remain with his children during the full moon for the sake of your safety. This werewolf thing... it's bad, that's why it's called a curse. But it's not as bad as it could be, right?” He could see that he was reaching Draco... but there was one fear the other boy just couldn't shake. “I can't promise someone else won't take the amulet from you while we're out looking for coven members... but maybe Fred and Hermione can make more of them before we leave.” He suggested, the inspiration coming from out of nowhere and so he knew to thank Luna for it as she was unintentionally listening in.
“That would make me feel a lot better about it.” Draco admitted. “If he made one for you all to carry, then at least it would stop me from attacking you guys if I lose mine... plus you could find a way to get one of them back on me...” He trailed off as a whole new realm of possibilities opened up to him.
“You don't have to come with you know.” Harry said, picking up on his continued hesitation. “Don't think I'm trying to persuade you into something that is extremely dangerous... and if you don't come with, you're more than welcome to stay here. I don't want you to think you have no where to go or that I'll put you out.” He added, wanting to assure Draco of some things that he saw had been bothering the other boy.
“Really?” He asked as if it were somehow a trap.
“When I agreed to let you move in here it was with the condition that you don't make me regret it, remember? Well you haven't and I see no reason to throw a friend out on the street for no good reason. We're out of school now and what you do with your life is your choice... I'm just glad that I have a place to offer to you and the others.”
“Sometimes you're such a good guy it repulses me.” Draco smiled. “It must run deep in your genes.”
“I hope so.” Harry answered, thinking of his grandparents and the things Macnair had said that he still needed to discuss with Luna.
Luna went downstairs with the others when they heard Arthur come home... Harry was still talking with Draco, giving him the reassurances that he'd been seeking since the wolf had tried to overcome him yesterday. They met Arthur in the parlor where he'd collapsed tiredly into one of the comfy blue chairs.
“Well, did they go for it?” Ron demanded as Molly shot him a disapproving glare.
“Yes, they agreed that Nerezza overstepped his bounds and that there was insufficient evidence to warrant Luna's arrest. The committee has also agreed to keep her release quiet from the Auror department and only those most trusted will be informed that any sort of inquisition into Nerezza is taking place... It's a good thing we acted so quickly as it seems Nerezza has just presented my office with his report of Luna's arrest and he definitely trumped up the charges to make it look more realistic. Had the committee seen it before I spoke to them, it isn't guaranteed they wouldn't have believed it as at least partial truth.” Arthur told them all, looking around at everyone except her. Luna felt hurt but knew that it was his own guilt over what had happened that made it impossible for him to meet her eyes.
“And that's all the answer you need right now.” Molly said, beginning to shoo them all back upstairs. “Now it's getting very late and you should all go to bed.”
Luna pretended to follow her friends but instead waited until Molly disappeared into the kitchen to fix her husband a bedtime snack before sneaking back into the parlor. “Mr. Weasley?” She asked hesitantly.
He tensed upon hearing her voice... and then he slumped down, hanging his head as she came to stand in front of him. “I'm so sorry Luna... I had promised that none of this would happen, that neither you nor your father would be taken into custody.”
“I didn't see it coming either.” She quietly replied, reaching out to gently place her hand on his shoulder in comfort... to show that she didn't hate him as he feared she would. “Certain things are meant to happen. If I didn't get a warning of this, then perhaps I was supposed to be in that cell.”
“For what purpose?” He asked, at last raising his face to look at her.
She smiled kindly. “I hope we'll soon find out.” She answered, thinking of the letters but not yet caring to mention them. Arthur had enough to deal with until they could be sure of what she'd actually found.
Hearing Molly calling him into the kitchen, he wearily rose to his feet and looked down at Luna. “I truly had believed I could keep my word.” He said, his voice heavy with guilt.
“I know. But it's not your fault that you couldn't.” She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck , hugging him in comfort as she would her own father. He hesitated for a moment before hugging her back.
“You're a very sweet girl.” He told her.
“And you're the best man I've ever known.” She returned as they let each other go. “And that's why we all love you so much. Don't worry about today Mr. Wealey... I'm not.”
Hearing Molly call again with less patience, Arthur and Luna both smiled at each other. “Well, I better get in there before she decides I'm too tired to make it in and tries to force feed me in the parlor.” He lightly joked.
“And Harry's waiting to talk to me upstairs... and just so you know, he's not mad at you either. You had no fault in any of this.” Luna gave him this last assurance before turning to go into the hallway and up the stairs. She hated knowing that he still blamed himself but she'd long ago learned that guilt was an ailment only the sufferer could truly cure themselves of. Still, she'd done her best to help him along on the road to seeing that not only wasn't her brief incarceration his fault, but also forgiving himself for feeling that it was.
Reaching the second landing she peered down the hall to see that Harry, having finished his conversation with Draco, was indeed waiting outside her room. “Why didn't you go in?” She asked with a smile, opening the door and leading the way.
“I knew you were on your way back up... is Arthur okay?” He asked, closing the door behind them and plopping down on the edge of her bed while she walked around getting ready for bed.
“He will be... until the next thing that comes along to work him toward an early heart attack.” She said, half joking and half in concern.
Harry grabbed her arm as she moved toward her dresser and gently pulled her into his lap, passionately crushing his lips against hers as he held her close against his body. “I'm just glad you're here.” He said breathlessly when they broke apart for air.
“That makes two of us.” She smiled, wanting to forget that her night could have been spent somewhere far less pleasant. Kissing him once more, she disentangled herself from his embrace and moved to sit further away from him on the bed so that they wouldn't become distracted. “Before we get into all that...” She teased, raising an eyebrow and waiting for whatever he had to tell her.
“You should know what I found out from Macnair.” He nodded, settling himself more comfortably as he became more serious. He then began to tell her that Henry Macnair had been alive during the forming of the Dark Society... that he and his wife were members and he verified Richard and Ruby Adler were a part of it as well though the original goals of the group weren't as fanatical and horrifying as they had become under Thadeseus Rogan's rule. Harry then told her how he and Jacey suspected that Thadeseus had somehow gotten a hold of the Marqueesian Scrolls and the Adlers had stolen them to use as a way to barter for their new lives.
Learning that Tristan was somehow a twin sent shivers down Luna's spine and she agreed that it was best not to think about until they could talk to Lupin. Ignoring that horrifying bit of information, she focused on the rest of the story. “So then the next step is to find Jennitha August.”
“Well... there may be someone else who could clear things up for us...” He hesitantly replied.
“My grandmother?” She asked in bewilderment, plucking the name Juniper Lovegood from the very forefront of his thoughts.
“According to Macnair, your grandparents were also members of the original Dark Society though they left along with Ruby and Richard.” He quickly went on to tell her the brief history of her grandparents that she had never heard... a history gathered from not only a complete stranger, but a vampire... and not only a vampire, the father of the only set of pureborn vampire twins to have ever been known to be in existence. It was all so large and unfathomable to her and though she had felt Harry's turmoil as he discovered his family's past, she now felt she understood it better.
“Well... I guess this means we have even more reason to go visit her before we leave.” She said absently, allowing him to reach out and comfort her as she wanted nothing more than to be able to forget everything about the last two days.
“Your shields are not up, I can hear what you are thinking.” Jacey gently warned Ron, tapping the side of his head as she smiled at him. They were lying next to each other in her bed and though there were still too many barriers between them to become as intimate as they both desired, they both still enjoyed the feeling of each other's company throughout the night.
“Oh yeah?” He answered distractedly as he made a halfhearted attempt to protect his thoughts.
“Do not worry, old habits die hard and you have needlessly questioned Harry's devotion for far too long.” She sighed as she answered his thoughts rather than his question. “This time, you are left wondering whether he would have acted with such impatience and drive to get you or any of the rest of us out of Azkaban as he had with Luna being there... are you not?”
“Thoughts are supposed to be private for a reason. We can't be proud of every single one we have.” He crossly replied.
“I just do not understand why it matters... whether he was with Hermione or now Luna, you are always questioning your importance in his life. Why are you not assured of it already? Is the order in which he loves us that important?” She pushed, wanting him to confront his issues with his best friend once and for all. After all, she had been convinced of Harry's devotion to her within days of meeting him... surely Ron who had spent years with him should feel even more secure.
“I guess you're right, old habits are just hard to break.” He reluctantly admitted. “I don't really question whether he would have come had if been me in that cell, I know he would have... It's just, at one point it had been just us two, you know. It's harder to know your place in someone's life when the options for people to care about have expanded so drastically.”
“I think he would have gone with the same impatient recklessness that he pursued Luna... the only difference is he would have been able to think more clearly because he would have felt entirely broken without you as he does without her.” She told him honestly. “I am sorry if it hurts to hear that you may not be number one on the list of people Harry loves... but the fact that you are on the list of people he would give his life for should count for something. Besides, having brothers and a sister, can you say that Harry is number one on your list? Can you not see that there may not even be such a place as number one, that there are simply a jumbled mess of people that we love so much in so many different ways that we could not begin to know who comes first?”
“Well... when you put it that way.” He rolled his eyes but Jacey could see that her words had actually reached him, giving him something to think about the next time he felt like questioning his place in everyone's lives.
“Besides...” She trailed off, baiting him into taking the change in conversation.
“Harry and Luna are in the middle of solving their own mystery and rather than worry about what we mean to them, we should be focusing on how to solve our mystery.”
“Meaning?” He asked, even though he knew exactly what she meant. He sat up looking apprehensive, just as he always did when their conversations drifted toward anything involving Parvati.
“Meaning if you think Hermione can help us figure out how to locate Vincent Riley, then we need to ask her. He can tell you how to find... the colony... and I can finally face the last vampire responsible for tearing apart my home.” She insisted, also sitting up and reaching out to grasp his arm. “This Vincent holds the key to providing much needed closure to both of us.”
“Are you going to kill him?” Ron asked nervously.
“I guess that will depend on him and whether he truly has sought redemption to change who he was. Either way, I would not end his life before he led you to the colony.” She promised, knowing it would not make him feel any better. But she had been honest with him about everything and was not comfortable lying at this point. He had to know that she was not always the sensuous, feminine woman she wanted to be for him... sometimes she was a hardened warrior who did what she had to do in the name of survival or vengeance.
But whether or not he was alright with her reasons for wanting to find Vincent, he very much wanted to talk face to face with Parvati and so he was willing to go on the faith that she would approach the situation in a calm, reasoned manner. “Okay.” He finally agreed. “In the morning we'll talk to Hermione and see if she can help us find him.”
“Okay.” Jacey smiled and on impulse, leaned in to gently kiss his lips. She could feel his surprise and then pleased response as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close... and then as quickly as it started it was over and he was pulling away and settling under the covers once more. With a sigh of frustration, she lay down and rolled to her side facing away from him lest he see the look of unhappiness that surely covered her face.
She felt slightly better when he threw his arm around her, taking her hand and intertwining their fingers. He leaned forward slightly to caress his lips softly across her cheek to her ear. “There's no where else I'd rather be than right here with you.” He whispered, the only assurances of his regard that he could give. For now it was enough... Jacey cuddled closer against him and closed her eyes, determined to be content in the moment. But one thing was for sure... whether or not she had to eventually kill Vincent Riley, she was certainly going to make sure they found the man and make him lead Ron to Parvati so that he could finally let go of whatever was preventing him from allowing himself to fully feel close to her or anyone else at the moment. She wanted the chance to be with Ron, to have a future to imagine... something to propel her forward in this war with a reason to make it out alive. She wanted the possibility of a happily ever after at the end of all of this madness and she was not about to let anyone keep her from it.
Hermione woke up too early. Squinting at the clock she was unhappy to see that it was only just after six in the morning... she wasn't sure what had woken her, the alarm certainly wasn't set. Turning to look beside her, she saw Fred tangled up in the sheets with his injured leg propped up on pillows. His arm was thrown over his face and through he was snoring at an audible level, it wasn't enough to have pulled her out of such a deep sleep. Was it something she had been dreaming? She had no way of knowing... unlike Luna, she rarely recalled what she dreamed at night though since meeting the other girl she'd had to change her opinion on the legitimacy of psychic dreams. But she doubted she'd been woken by some prophetic message from her subconscious... it had certainly never happened before. So then she decided it must have been a nightmare, understandable considering her recent experiences.
Her throat was dry and her stomach was growling... figuring Molly would be awake already anyway, she decided to go down and see if breakfast was ready. She felt so wide awake that there was no way she could just lay back down anyway. Perhaps her body had been running on so much adrenaline the past few days that it had forgotten how to rest and relax. Whatever the case, she was sure to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb Fred who apparently had no problem sleeping after so many days of tense danger.
Once she had crept down the stairs, she made her way toward the kitchen and was surprised to hear voices. Moving closer she realized that not only was Molly bustling around preparing food, Harry and Luna were in there talking to Arthur. “Just for a few hours.” Luna was saying, clearly in the middle of asking for a favor.
“I don't know... it's dangerous to send you both there and risk leading an enemy to where both your grandmother and your father are hiding. There are many among the Death Eaters who are not too happy with the things the Quibbler is printing these days. Couldn't you wait until Christmas? We could bring her here to you.” Arthur countered.
“And while I'd be glad to celebrate with her, the things I want to discuss with her are not appropriate for the situation. It's really important that we get to talk to her as soon as possible.” Luna quietly replied, unable to be moved in her resolve yet remaining light and likeable.
“It's better if we can talk to her alone and with no time limit, where she's comfortable and surrounded by her own things so that hopefully she can remember all the things we're going to be asking her about.” Harry added.
“Things like?” Molly chimed in, her tone both inquisitive and slightly accusatory.
“Her past with the Dark Society.” Luna blurted out, sparing Harry of having to explain the quest he was on to solve the mystery of his family's beginnings. Hermione was surprised... was Luna making things up or had they actually found some link to her grandmother being involved as well? Knowing Luna didn't like to lie unless it was absolutely necessary, she guessed that it must be true.
“Really? I never would have guessed it.” Arthur remarked.
“The group wasn't what we all thought in the beginning... not completely anyway.” Harry said in justification.
“Besides, we're more interested in the events that made her leave the group.” Luna added. “Plus... I'd just really like the chance to spend time with her before we leave.”
Hermione leaned against the wall, thinking of her own parents and how she had left things with them before school had started. Now that she was done with school, now that she was about to follow Harry and the others around the world... could she face them as the adult she was now expected to be? Did she want to?
Yes... she decided that she did. More than that, she decided she deserved the chance to show them that she was going to be okay... that even though her life was in constant danger, she had found a place in the world that made her happy, where she felt she belonged. Maybe they had been right about her romance with Harry not being quite as eternal as she had once thought it would be, but she deserved the chance to tell them that it hadn't broken her... that she was stronger than whatever relationship she was involved in. She deserved the chance to tell them that she still loved them and to know that they loved her... at least she hoped they did. There were things she had to set right before she could truly begin the next phase of her life and facing her parents without Harry or Arthur there was part of it. “I want to go too!” She burst out, leaping around the corner and into the kitchen before she changed her mind. “I mean... not with them, I want to go see my parents.” She quickly clarified as Arthur stared at her in surprise. Harry and Luna clearly had known she was there as neither were unsettled by her appearance.
She could see Harry's instant concern, knowing how delicate her relationship was with Wayne and Mildred Granger. But she didn't care, she'd come this far and while she was suddenly filled with dread at the thought of actually seeing her parents, the new spontaneous way she'd been making decisions felt oddly and wildly freeing. Maybe it was Fred's influence as others seemed to fear, but she'd witnessed time and again how relying on one's initial thought paid off more than long internal debate. After all, Harry's impulse had ensured that Luna was able to be standing there in the kitchen at all this morning, even if they all had to scramble to cover his actions.
“Okay.” Arthur put up his hands in defeat, though Hermione noted he didn't offer the same invite to the Grangers that he had to the Lovegoods to join them for Christmas day... clearly he hadn't been left with warm feelings last they met. Not that it mattered... invitations into the house were ultimately Harry's decision but she doubted he would have offered unless she specifically asked him to. Arthur looked at the three of them and shook his head wearing a tired grin. “You'll all have to give me a couple of days, both to let things settle down and to make arrangements.”
“That's fine.” Harry instantly agreed, not wanting to push for more while Molly was standing there looking disagreeable.
“We'll go tell everyone that breakfast is almost ready.” Luna offered, also seeing that an argument was brewing.
Hermione followed them out as Molly clearly said, “I still don't see why their families can't just come here.” Obviously she wanted the teens to hear her but they all three continued up the stairs.
“Hey.” Harry stopped them on the first landing and reached out to take Hermione's hand, his voice low and supportive. “You'll be okay going? Do want us all to go with you?”
“That didn't work so well last time.” She smiled, giving his hand a squeeze. “I'm nervous but it'll be fine.” She added, hoping it was true.
“Fred would probably go with you... he has a way of keeping a conversation on the lighter side.” Luna suggested.
She shook her head. “He wasn't too happy with the things my parents said about his family last time... it doesn't seem fair to him or them that he be there. Besides, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't appreciate his personality as much as we do.”
“Maybe they wouldn't... but you do. And who cares what's fair to them? If you want to do this to gain closure, then you only have to be worried about being fair to yourself.” Luna argued as if she could see right into Hermione's brain. But she knew her walls were up and the other girl was simply going on her intuitive ability to pick up on the feelings of others. “You don't have to face anything alone if you don't want to.” She continued ominously, making Hermione think Luna was speaking to Harry as well as her. Knowing him as well as she did, she knew that it was a message he needed to hear often. Thankfully he'd gotten a lesson in how helpful it was to include others last night and hopefully it stuck... especially if he really expected to be a part of a whole coven that needed to work together.
But falling into worrying about Harry's troubles was a routine she was used to... now was the time to worry about her own life. “Well, I have a few days to think about it. Either way, nothing they say is going to break me so it'll be fine. I just want the chance to see them, you know?”
Harry nodded, he knew exactly how she felt and to an even higher degree as he'd waited his whole life for the chance to see his parents and make things right. He'd gotten it through Mykele's ring and now was going to be her turn. She left it to them to go tell anyone who may be awake that breakfast was ready and returned to Fred's room. She'd been careful to leave the door open a crack so she wouldn't have to wake him should he still be sleeping and so she slowly opened it and poked her head in. Fred's happy grin greeted her. He was sitting in his wheelchair, proudly gesturing that he'd dressed himself yet again. “It gets less impressive the more you get the chance to practice.” She teased.
“Oh yeah? Say that to Mozart.” He shot back.
“I'm not sure that composing symphonies is on the same par as not killing yourself while struggling to prove you can get get yourself dressed.” She laughed.
“I can't wait until Drake comes tomorrow.” He sighed. “The only thing worse than not using my leg is your cruel indifference to my plight.”
Hermione couldn't help but laugh harder as he tried his best to pout and look pitiful. “You are too much sometimes.” She said as she walked over and seated herself in his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him deeply. In the moment she felt overcome and decided to make another spontaneous decision. “Hey, can I ask you a favor?” She said before she could stop herself with doubt. After all, she'd known the minute Luna had said it that she didn't want to do this alone. Why think on it and complicate things?
“You can ask me for anything in the world and I'll do whatever I have to do to comply.” He returned with an earnest smile.
“I asked your dad to arrange a time for me to visit my parents... will you come with me?” She held her breath and waited out on the limb she'd placed herself.
He hesitated for only a moment and she could almost see the thought of actually having to see her parents debated against how supportive he wanted to really be pass through his eyes. “Of course. Like I said... I'll do anything to make you happy and if you want me there then there's nowhere else I'd rather be.” He assured her, leaning in to trail kisses down her cheek and along her jaw.
“I was hoping you'd say something like that.” She smiled, turning her head to capture his mouth with hers.
“Hey!” They heard Ron call through the door as he loudly knocked. “Harry said you two where awake in there.”
“We are and we're busy!” Fred called back, playfully tightening his hold around her waist as she tried to get up and answer the door.
“I told him we should wait until later.” Jacey took a turn to yell through the door and make them aware of her presence as well.
Laughing as she finally slipped away, she lightly punched him in the shoulder before going to let Ron and Jacey in. “What's up?” She asked, unable to stop smiling... it felt so good to be happy.
“We need to ask you a favor.” Ron said right away.
“Okay...” She slowly answered, gesturing for them to come in.
“Lupin has told Ron the name of the vampire who can take him to the colony.” Jacey told her as she took a seat at the desk while Ron leaned on the wall next to her.
“You mean the colony where Parvati is?” Fred interrupted, clearly not picking up on the delicate way Jacey had danced around actually saying the girl's name.
“Yeah, but Lupin won't tell me anything other than his name because he doesn't really want me to go walking into a colony of new vampires learning to control themselves.” Ron answered with a sigh of frustration.
“He makes a good point.” Hermione pointed out.
“I'm aware.” He answered moodily. “But I need to talk to her and this vampire is the only one who can tell me where she is and give me permission to see her.”
“So how am I supposed to help?” She asked. “Harry's the one to persuade Lupin to do things he doesn't want to do.”
“I do not think Lupin knows much more than the vampire's name.” Jacey replied.
“You helped organize this whole global search for coven people and to find Fred and Elanya... I figured you'd be able to tell me how to begin looking for one guy.” Ron told her.
She turned to look at Fred who shrugged, indicating it was all up to her. “Well... what's his name?”
“Vincent Riley. We know he's a vampire but we don't know if he's a wizard or a muggle.” Ron answered.
“And that is all we know or do not know of him.” Jacey added.
“Well, I guess you're best bet is to find a way into the records at the ministry. If he's not there then he could be a muggle and you'd then have to find a way into the muggle records.” Hermione suggested. “If you can do that and bring me everything you find on him, I can help you try to put it together and see if we can trace him.”
“The only way into the records at this point is to ask dad.” Ron moaned. “With the way things are right now, I doubt he'd let me in there considering how it could look on him.”
“Or you could ask Moody.” Fred put in. “He's in charge of watching over the records right? Well, dad said there's going to be an Order meeting here tomorrow... you could ask Moody to look up this Vincent Riley guy.”
“Do you think he would?” Ron asked hopefully.
“I can't think why he wouldn't.” He returned with a grin.
“Okay, well then... I guess it is just one more day to wait.” Jacey said as she and Ron got up to thank them for their help and leave. Hermione caught the extreme disappointment in the other girl's face and tone. It made her wonder... She could understand why Jacey would be desperate for Ron to talk to Parvati and work out whatever guilt was holding him in place, but she almost seemed more eager to find this Vincent guy than Ron had. Was there something else, some other reason that she wanted to find this vampire? Knowing little of the girl's past other than that she had become some kind of vampire hunter after her town was destroyed by the creatures, Hermione could see that there may be some kind of connection to Vincent... but there was no use trying to work it out. Jacey was a mystery who chose to reveal herself to very few people and Hermione didn't have the time or focus to figure her out now. Instead, she followed Fred down to breakfast and began thinking of everything she wanted to tell her parents when the time came that she could see them.
From the moment they'd woken Draco had been in a sour, standoffish mood. Ginny did her best not to say anything... she completely understood that he was uncomfortable and nervous to be around them all on a day that he was supposed to change (even if they all knew he wouldn't because of the amulets). Though she did wonder if his discussion with Harry last night had anything to do with it... he hadn't told her what they had talked about and she could only hope that Harry had said something of consequence to help Draco figure himself out. Tonks left for work after breakfast and before Ginny could corner him, Draco disappeared into Lupin's room. Neither reemerging until lunch and both were silent and twitchy during the meal.
When they were done eating, she followed him upstairs and took his hand, leading him into her room before he could disappear back into Lupin's. He resisted at first, but when she made it clear that she wasn't going to allow him to ignore her all day, he let her pull him through the door... though he was sure to leave it open. “How are you feeling?” She asked, deliberately moving past him to close the door and give them the privacy he feared.
“Like there is very little to keep me from bursting into a million pieces from the pressure building inside me.” He answered honestly. “Lupin and I took a double dose of the Wolfsbane just in case.” He added in an attempt to reassure them both.
Taking a good look at him, she could definitely see his agitation. His eyes kept darting around as if they wanted to look at and catalog everything around him and his entire body seemed to almost be shaking. “I know this is going to sound stupid to you right now, but try not to worry. None of us are concerned about what may happen tonight... past whether you'll be able to read those letters I mean. But I truly believe that we are all safe from you and Lupin.” She didn't make a move toward him, knowing that he was already jittery and unsure of himself. But she did move away from the door, going to lounge on her bed as if there was nothing at all unusual about what was coming that evening.
“I know I shouldn't worry... I can't help it. What if something goes wrong... what if the amulets suddenly stop working for some reason?” He began pacing, his movements quick and contained... clearly he'd be better off out in the open where he could run off some of what was building up inside him. But that wasn't an option with no way of knowing where Cho, Sarah, Elise and Elanya are and with Death Eaters appearances becoming so common that one of them has become Head Auror.
“Then there will be two werewolves running around the house.” She shrugged. “You said yourself you took the wolfsbane... at least you'll both still have your own minds.”
“No.” He shook his head furiously and slumped down on the end of the bed. “You don't understand Ginny... you don't know what it feels like... how strong what's inside of me is.”
She slowly crawled over and reached out to take his hand. He allowed her to, squeezing his fingers to let her know he appreciated the comfort she was trying to offer him. But he didn't come any closer. “It can't possibly be stronger than you are. You're one of the strongest people I know, in every way possible.” She quietly told him. “There are many others who would have given up a long time ago if they'd had to go through what you have. We're all strong here, that's why we survive. If any of us truly thought you were dangerous to us, do you really think we'd be foolish enough to be around you? I'm sure there are a million ways my dad could have arranged for you and Lupin to be secretly taken away for the night... but we all care about you guys and so dad went with the simplest solution, keeping you both here.”
“Sometimes... when you care about someone it can make you blind to what they're capable of.” He sadly replied.
“You're going to feel silly tomorrow, after all this worrying and then having nothing happen.” She teased, wanting him lighten up at least a little.
“I'd rather feel silly than regretful.” He returned, offering her an attempt at a smile. “I know what you're trying to do... it's just not going to work until I do wake up tomorrow with nothing having happened.”
“Well, they've yet to create a time turner that moves forward. So either you tear yourself up until the sun rises or you find a way to accept that maybe, just maybe everything will be fine.” She moved again, getting behind him and grabbing his shoulders before he could scramble away. She could feel the tightness and strain he was carrying and tried her best to massage them away. He was tense under her hands, nervous at her nearness and the feelings he was fighting inside. Honestly, she didn't mind if the wolf won out in this inner struggle... she was curious to know exactly what it would be like to be intimate with him this close to the full moon. The closest they'd gotten before was a day and that had been pretty exciting.
“I want to believe it will all be okay.” He conceded, at last relaxing as she continued to rub the stress from his neck and shoulders.
“Really? It doesn't seem like it... you seem much happier constantly expecting the worst.” She lightly laughed.
“It keeps me prepared.” He leaned back, his head resting against her shoulder as she knelt behind him. At last his muscles were loosening, allowing him to ever so slightly relax. Ginny decided to push her luck and leaned down to kiss his temple. He instantly tensed again, but this time it was different. Before he could get up, she tilted her head and kissed his lips, lightly biting the lower one to draw him in.
The result was exactly what she'd hoped... both he and the wolf wanted her and so regardless of potions or amulets, there was little but his human concern of hurting her that kept him from fighting what he was feeling. He turned and wrapped his arms around her waist, tackling her back onto the bed . “You're playing a dangerous game.” He warned her in a voice husky with desire. His eyes told her both how much he wanted this and how much he wanted her to say no and give him a reason to fight himself and make it stop.
In response she took his face in her hands and pressed her lips against his once more, pushing her body up against his to tell him that she didn't want to say no, that she wasn't scared of him hurting her. He let out a low growl of passion, grabbing her wrists and pinning them against the bed as he kissed her mouth, her chin, her neck. Shivers of pleasure went down her spine... he began tearing open the buttons of her sweater with his teeth, kissing and nibbling her skin as it became exposed to him. He let go of her wrists to sit up and pull off his shirt. She quickly knelt to meet him, wrapping her arms around his neck and crushing her lips against his again wanting to feel the pleasant tingling sensation that shot through her body. Faster than she thought possible, he scooped her up in his arms and moved across the bed, cradling her protectively as he roughly pressed her against the headboard. Tangling his fingers in her hair, he pulled her head back and buried his lips in her neck, emitting another low growl as she dug her nails into his back.
Ginny was unsure how long they remained in that haze of progressively wild, animalistic passion, but when they finally collapsed in a sweaty, satisfied heap they simply held each other as they tried to catch their breath. “Well that was fun.” She gasped out, meeting his eyes and erupting into the bubbly laughter of happiness.
He grinned at her before rolling away onto his back, staring at the ceiling as he stroked her arm. “It was also dangerous... you have no idea how difficult it was to remind myself to be careful when there were so many other things I wanted to focus on.” He turned his head to kiss her shoulder.
“Dinner!” They heard Ron yell down the hallway as he always did when mum asked him to make an announcement.
Ginny was amazed. “Is it really that late? We most definitely lost track of time.” They both sat up and began pulling their clothes back on. “Not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy how we spent it.” She crawled over to kiss him. “Feeling any less tense?” She asked teasingly.
“In certain ways.” He smiled back at her. But in his eyes she could still see the same fear and concern that had been there before, he was just a bit more relaxed about it and so she was glad to have given him some small way to allow the wolf out for a few moments... or hours apparently. They'd both been having so much fun, been so wrapped up in pleasure that neither knew exactly how long they'd pursued each other... but looking around her room she saw that her sheets were completely pulled off the bed, one of her pillows had large shreds in it, and many things had fallen from shelves or dressers to scatter across the floor.
“It looks like there was an earthquake in here.” She joked, waving her wand to clean the mess while worrying about whether anyone had heard them. Being so lost in each other had made it so the rest of the world around them had disappeared and now she was mortified to think that perhaps her friends, brothers or worse, her parents had heard anything from her room that afternoon. Mortified... but not ashamed. Whatever had just happened, it was the best thing she'd ever experienced.
“Episkey.” Draco pointed his wand at her shoulder. She turned in time to see long scratches fade from her skin... scratches she hadn't even realized were there.
She smiled again and pulled on her sweater, wondering just how sore and bruised she'd be later... it didn't matter though, the pleasure had been worth any pain that may result. Turning to look at Draco and how sullen he'd suddenly become, she realized he wasn't feeling quite the same way. “I'm fine.” She assured him. “I didn't even know I'd been scratched.”
“I know.” He said quietly, sitting down to tie his shoes.
“Good, then don't get all grumpy on me now.” She said, walking over and brushing his hair back to kiss his forehead.
He took her hands in his. “I love you Ginny.”
“Right back at you.” She laughed at his seriousness. “Let's get downstairs before anyone comes looking for us.”
Together they made their way to the kitchen though Draco was back to keeping a careful distance from her. She couldn't help but feel that she was glowing with joy and everyone would instantly know how she'd spent her time since lunch... if they hadn't heard it already. Thankfully no one paid them any attention as they came in and took their seats at the table. The adults were all engrossed in conversation about the preparation for the Order meeting the next day while the teens simply ate quietly and listened in to gather their own information. Ginny was glad to see that the adults had finally decided they didn't need to pretend the teens were too young to hear this sort of talk... either that or they were all so concerned with what was going on and the teens were so quiet that they'd simply forgotten they were there.
After dinner, Harry asked Draco to come up to his room with him and Luna. Not having anything else to do Ginny went with, curious to know what was going on. They went all the way to the top floor and into Harry's room where he grabbed Draco and placed him in a certain spot. “What are you doing Potter?” He asked though he didn't try to resist being moved, clearly trusting that whatever was happening was for a good reason.
“We wanted to prove something to you... to make you feel better.” Luna answered sweetly, walking over to the window and throwing it open.
Ginny saw Draco's expression of horror as the bright full moon stared back at him... but nothing happened. The amulet had done it's job and there would be no transformation tonight as long as he kept it on. “See? Nothing to be scared of.” Harry said, patting Draco's shoulder in congratulations. “Fred is every bit the accidental genius he believes himself to be.”
Draco slowly let out the breath he'd been holding... anger crossed his face but he moved past it quickly. “Thanks.” He finally said in place of all the other things he might have had to say.
“You just needed to get past this first time to really trust yourself around us during the moon.” Luna smiled, closing the window once more so that he'd fully relax. “We know there are side effects and things you can't help but feel because of the moon, but you aren't going to fully change from now on unless you want to.”
He nodded, slowly accepting it as truth. Ginny couldn't have been happier... even if he was upset by the way Harry and Luna had surprised him, this was exactly what he needed to see to keep his sanity for the evening. “So, if the moon is up... shouldn't I be able to read those letters?” Draco asked, choosing to move past an incident that had him feeling both grateful and angry.
Harry moved to his desk and picked up a piece of paper, the one Draco had written those strange symbols on last night. “Can you read this?”
He took the paper and squinted at it, a look of surprise coming over his face. “Yes... It's my name... I wrote my name last night!”
“And couldn't read it until today.” Ginny grinned.
“I'll tell the others to come up, that it's time.” Luna said as she presumably called out silently to the rest of their friends.
Harry grabbed up the envelopes and handed them over to Draco as Ron and Jacey entered. Fred wheeled himself in moments later with Hermione right behind him. They all settled themselves... except for Draco who was nervously standing before them. Moving to put the stack of envelopes on the bed, he picked one up and pulled out the letter, his eyes moving across the paper as they tried to make sense of the symbols printed there. “Well? Can you read them?” Jacey asked.
A dark look passed across Draco's face. “Yeah, I can read them.” He said, throwing the letter aside and ripping open another to read. Ginny could see him grow even angrier, and looked around nervously at the others. They could see the same thing she was.
“Draco?” Luna asked hesitantly. He ignored her and picked up another letter, pouring over it's contents before moving on to the next.
“Hey! What do they say?” Fred demanded, trying to get his attention.
“Who are they from?” Harry added, hoping an easier question would reach him.
Still Draco ignored them, picking up another letter to read. “Draco?” Ginny got up and grabbed his arm, desperate to know what those letters contained that was so upsetting to him.
He looked at her, his eyes fiery with anger. “They're from Harland.” He finally answered in a low dangerous voice.
“Harland Myers?” Hermione asked in surprise.
Draco nodded with slow resolve, picking up the last letter and looking it over. “It seems an alliance with him is what Cho had to offer to Sarah, Elise and Elanya in order to join them. She's been working with him since she was incarcerated.” He revealed.
While she could see why this news was upsetting, Ginny didn't understand the severity of his reaction. “And?” She asked gently.
He hung his head and glared at the floor, crumpling up the letter he held in his fist. “She's the reason he bit me.”
NOTE: More to come soon, so keep an eye out for the next chapter! Thanks for reading!
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