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Chapter 67 : Gathering Information
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Draco's stomach was churning with anger, the wolf was begging for the chance to be let free and seek revenge for him. This was the worst possible thing to learn during the full moon when he was already fighting his darker side. “What do mean Cho made him bite you... I thought Harland himself said it was Lucius and Voldemort's idea?” Ginny asked carefully for the rest of the group who were obviously wondering the same thing.
He violently shook his head and grabbed up all the letters in his fists, turning and presenting them to the others. “Not according to these.”
“So what do they say?” Potter asked, coming forward to calmly place a hand on his shoulder and guide him to sit on the bed. Then he slowly dislodged the letters from Draco's hands so that they wouldn't accidentally be destroyed.
Taking a deep steadying breath, Draco did his best not to feel the total fury that was slowly taking him over. “In one of the letters, Harland tells Cho that he's in London and fills her in on everything he knew about all of us from Voldemort... including that my father was looking for a way to kill me. He also tells her that they were preparing for what he called the 'Thorn Creek and Lairmore invasions'. It was clear by the next letter that she had given him instructions on how to make us all pay for our wrongs against her... Harland tells her that he was fine with killing Lupin to hurt Potter, but that he was uncertain that he... that he wanted to bite me. But he agreed that he could convince both Lucius and Voldemort that living with this curse was a better punishment for me than death.”
“I always hated her.” Ginny muttered.
“Good thing she didn't know it would make you stronger.” Fred quipped, trying to be helpful in keeping things as close to positive as possible.
“She knows how strong you are now though.” Granger pointed out. “I'll bet she's regretting the decision to keep you alive.”
“But you shouldn't regret it.” Luna quickly added, sitting next to him on the bed and taking his hand. “We already weren't able to get there in time to stop Harland from biting you... if he intended to end your life then there's a very good chance you wouldn't be here at all right now.”
“And think of everything you would have missed.” Ginny said, sitting on his other side and smiling in a way to make him remember what they'd just done together down in his room and remind him that life wasn't all bad.
Draco was grateful that they wanted to make him feel better, but he'd already felt crowded and closed in all day because of the coming moon... now after facing it and receiving this news, he felt like he was literally suffocating. “I can't take this.” He blurted, leaping to his feet and going to stand by himself near the bookcase and stretch out his limbs. “Not right now.” He added apologetically. Ginny and Luna nodded, understanding his plight.
“What else do the letters say?” Potter quickly asked, steering the conversation back to where it needed to be and allowing Draco to move past his initial surprised anger.
“It's all plans and motives.” He answered quietly. “Basically these letters prove that Harland isn't working for Voldemort, he's partnered with Cho and by extension Sarah, Elise and Elanya. In the last one he tells her that he's on his way to gather their army... I guess he's ensuring the werewolves align with them.”
“Well, Voldemort has the vampires... it makes sense those women would want their own humanoid force behind them.” Weasley offered.
“It also explains why they tried to recruit Draco but never Tristan.” Granger added. “And why they were okay making their stand after the train crash... they had Harland as a spy still within the Death Eaters' ranks.”
“So on one side we have psychics and werewolves. On the other side we have Death Eaters, psychics and vampires. Meanwhile, we are left with only us in the coven to defeat them all?” Jacey asked.
“No, we have our own allies.” Potter insisted. “We have our friends just like I'm sure the other coven members will. There are plenty of Aurors that we can trust, and Hagrid has been working to make progress with many different humanoid societies. Plus we have most of the people on our side, rooting for us to win and I've found that when given the chance, they will fight for their beliefs and rights.”
“Weren't there any groups in Athens or Paris who fought against what was happening in their ministries?” Granger asked Jacey who grew silent and withdrawn.
“I see your point.” She answered stoically as she lost herself in her memories. Weasley moved forward to offer comfort for something only they two knew was bothering her.
Draco listened to them all in a haze, not really able to focus on anything at all past what was happening within him. He decided he needed to get away from them, to have some time to himself and process what he'd just learned... and to fight off the incredibly uncomfortable pressure inside him that had begun to rebuild since coming into direct contact with the moon. Last time he's gotten the chance to run all these feelings off with Lupin but that wasn't an option now... the best he could do is lock himself away in his room and find something else to focus on. “Give me the letters.” He demanded of Potter.
“Okay...” He hesitantly replied, slowly holding them out and making it clear he'd like an explanation.
“Since translation spells won't work, I'll take them to my room and write them all in English so that when the sun comes up we'll all still be able to read them.” He offered, snatching the letters and rushing for the door. “See you all in the morning.” He called over his shoulder to be polite before running down the stairs and shutting himself up in his room.
Sure enough Ginny came knocking moments later, demanding to know if he was okay and to be let in. “I can't let you in.” He told her, knowing it was going to be easier to say if he didn't have to actually look at her. “I need to be alone tonight.”
“Maybe you need to, but do you want to?” She returned through the door.
“I can't let that influence me. Please Ginny, give me this one night just like you always do and I promise that every other night of the month is yours.” He begged, not wanting her to be angry with him but needing this time to have space before he crawled out of his skin. “Please understand this has nothing to do with you... or even me. I can't help it at all.”
There was a long pause and he could feel his heart pounding against his chest. “Okay.” She said at last. “But if you need to, come find me or Lupin or even Harry...”
“I will.” He agreed gratefully, listening as her footsteps hesitantly moved away from the door and down the hall to her own room.
Letting out a sigh of relief, Draco went and sat as his desk. As soon as he picked up a quill, he poured his focus into translating each letter. Taking care to ensure that he was writing in English and not simply repeating the strange symbols took up all of his concentration... it was just the thing he needed, a distraction to occupy him until the sun came up and he could deal with his problems with less of the wolfish influence. Unfortunately, it didn't take as long as he'd hoped.
It was extremely late by the time he put the quill down, but there were still at least four hours until the moon set. His fingers were stained with ink and his hands were cramping, his eyes were watering from staring for so long and his head ached... but he wasn't the least bit tired. In fact it was the complete opposite, he was wide awake and itching to move... to do something other than be still. It was apparent that simply sleeping through the next few hours wouldn't be an option. He tried running in place but that wasn't at all satisfying and the room was much too small to try and take a few laps. Maybe if he went into the backyard...
Grabbing his coat and boots, he raced downstairs suddenly eager for the feeling of fresh air and space... even if he was technically fenced in. Hurrying through the kitchen, he caught scent of Lupin and realized the man must have needed a moment outside as well. Draco threw open the door to find him pacing in the middle of the yard without a coat. “You too, huh?” Lupin asked, not even bothering to look up.
“I never thought I'd want to go away for this.” He answered, stepping out into the snow.
“It's much easier to deal with when there's room to run and not let our thoughts catch up with us.” Lupin agreed. “Of course, I am grateful that we don't have to go away, the amulets make us safer to be around the others.”
“You really believe that?” Draco asked, moving to walk along with him. Together they traced a path around the perimeter of the yard, picking up their pace as they went. “You really think we're safe to be around?”
“As safe as we can be without actually being healed of this affliction.” He replied with a shrug.
“So then why are you out here and not in there with Tonks?”
“We agreed it would be easier on us both if she worked tonight.” Lupin said with amusement. “We trusted the amulet but not all the other things the amulet can't suppress. And we were right, I can't help this restlessness... plus I feel so hot, like my skin is going to melt off.”
Draco was glad he didn't have that particular side effect to deal with and for once was grateful to be reminded that every wolf was different. “I found something out tonight.” He said slowly, still trying to decide if he really wanted to seek advice. But Lupin had become the male influence in his life that he'd always been looking for, he'd come to rely a lot on his knowledge and experience... surely he would be able to place this all in perspective for him.
“Oh?” He prodded.
“Harland is working with Cho and those women, not Voldemort.” He began with the broader problem.
“I take it this is something Luna was somehow able to find out from her time in Cho's cell?” Lupin asked, taking a moment to feel the primal anger about the fact that one of what the wolf in him considered his “pups” had been in distress. He shook it off, clearly reminding himself that she was now home safe.
“Sort of. Have you heard of lunarscript?”
“Of course I have.” He laughed.
“Well, apparently that's how Harland and Cho were communicating. Luna found hidden letters and tonight I read them for the others.” Draco admitted.
“Cho isn't a werewolf... If that's how they communicated, then either one of her parents or her grandparents had to have been one. Any further back than that and she wouldn't be able to read or write lunarscript.” He said thoughtfully, filling in some of the holes they'd run into.
“I sort of met her parents at a few Death Eater meetings. I don't think it was either of them, so it had to be one of her grandparents.” He offered, trying to be helpful.
“It's something that can be looked into... but that's not really why you told me about these letters which I'm assuming Harry and the others have conveniently forgotten to mention that Luna found.” Lupin nudged him as they moved. Though they were both still walking, their pace was now on par with a regular human running and it felt good to stretch a bit.
“In the letters... I found out that it was Cho's idea for Harland to bite me as soon as he was given the chance and he's the one who convinced Lucius and Voldemort that it was a good idea.” He blurted out.
“I see.” Lupin nodded solemnly. “Well, that girl was certainly upset with you and Harry after you both helped expose her and get her sent to Azkaban.”
“Yeah, I know.” Draco muttered. “To get back at Potter, she sent Harland to kill you the first chance he got. She knew that since you were the last living link to his parents, Potter would be completely devastated... it's why Harland was going to go finish you off that night in the hospital after he bit me.”
“But Luna saw it and Arthur came in time... sort of.” He sympathetically replied.
“I don't know how to feel about this.” Draco admitted.
“Look...” Lupin stopped them and took his shoulders, meeting his eyes directly. “You can be mad at Cho all you want, you're entitled. It's an anger against both her and Harland that you will most likely carry with you for the rest of your life. I know I hate the man who bit me... there are even times when I'd wished he'd lived just so I could kill him. But you must learn to deal with that anger and move past the moment that so drastically altered your life. It happened and no matter who's responsible, you can't change it. The more you let the anger born out of that moment control you, the less you'll be able to appreciate the fact that you are alive at all.”
“How do I move past it?” He asked, practically begging for the answer.
“By finally accepting who you are now. When you can do that, you'll have regained the control from those who did this to you simply by going on and not letting it destroy you as they'd planned.” He said, drawing on his own lengthy experience. “It won't be easy and I can't promise it will happen right away... I know this new life is a hard adjustment to make. But at least you have support, from your friends, from your family and from me. I have no doubt that you'll make it Draco... I believe in you just as much as I believe in Harry. I'm extremely proud of you both.”
It was a difficult thing to hear, that someone was proud of him... more than that, someone he looked up to believed in him. Suddenly he felt closed in again, his skin becoming too tight as his insides seemed to be trying to push their way out. “Forget Cho.” Lupin went on, gripping Draco's shoulders tighter as he felt him tense with the desire to flee. “Until you face her again she is nothing and shouldn't weigh on your mind. She did this to make you suffer, don't give her that satisfaction. Remember all the things in your life that are good... your new friends, Ginny, me and the Tonks family, a comfortable place to live, a completed education and a whole life of possibility ahead of you... all this in spite of what Cho and Harland conspired to do. Someday you may have to confront them, but until then put them out of your mind and live your life. Success is a powerful form of revenge, one that can cut deep to those rooting for you to fail.”
It all made sense, it was nothing Draco hadn't already known or thought on his own. But often it was best to hear advice aloud. Ginny, Luna and Potter had tried and their words and actions had been helpful to relieve many of his worries. But Lupin had been the one to finally say exactly what he'd wanted to hear. “You're right.” He finally said, nodding his head for emphasis.
“I know. I'm very smart when I choose to be.” He grinned, letting go of Draco's shoulders and allowing them to pace the yard once more, much to both their satisfaction. “So... moving past all that and back to these letters... I assume a discussion with Harry and Luna is in order before I can find out what else is in them... or whether Arthur will learn of them?”
“I probably wasn't supposed to tell you anything about them.” He shrugged. “I have no idea what they plan to do once I give them the translated copies.”
“Well, see if you can't urge them to share the discovery, won't you?”
“I'll try.” He promised, figuring it was best Arthur and the Order be aware of who was really on what side anyway.
“Okay then.” Lupin agreed. “So... to change topics, Tonks wants to go see her parents this weekend and she wanted to ask you if you'd like to come along. She'll be upset I beat her to the punch, but I figured the invitation might cheer you up a bit.”
“Yes, I want to go.” He said instantly, before even really realizing what he was saying yes to. Apparently he'd been looking forward to another chance to see his aunt. He immediately knew why... he wanted to warn her of Lucius's threats and he was ashamed to admit that he wanted to gauge her reaction, to see what she would say or do in response. But testing the devotion of family members was something he'd been doing for a long time and usually they failed. He held great hope that Andromeda wouldn't let him down... though part of him secretly hoped she did decide to turn him away if only for her own safety. He was continually learning that caring for people was a messy situation and this was no different.
He and Lupin jogged and talked until morning when the sun at last came to send the moon away. As the bright pinks, oranges and yellows painted the sky and stretched out into a soft blue, they decided it was safe to return inside though they were both still entirely wide awake and jittery, not having been able to run themselves to exhaustion like normal. Lupin broke off to go to his room and Draco continued up the stairs to his own... except he didn't go there. Instead he went to Ginny's door and knocked softly, not wanting to wake her if she was asleep.
She answered almost right away though she looked very sleepy. “Is something wrong?” She asked, opening the door wider and rubbing her eyes to focus better.
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you.” He apologized, feeling bad for intruding.
She offered up a sweet smile and shook her head. “I was only dozing... I have trouble sleeping when you aren't around.” She teased, reaching out to run her hand down his arm.
He felt himself shiver in response, his entire body alert to every stimuli. He had so much excess energy... with dawn having arrived, he knew for certain that there was no chance of him physically turning into the wolf and so he felt entirely safe in seeking her company to help expel that energy in place of his normal run. “I'm not tired at all.” He told her suggestively, giving her the opportunity to shut him down right from the start.
Rather than answer, she grabbed the front of his coat and pulled him into her room before throwing her arms around him and crushing her lips against his. His response was instantaneous and so with her enthusiastic permission, he happily shut down his mind to all else but the thought to be careful with her and threw himself into enjoying the sunrise.
“Okay, so according to the letters...” Hermione flipped quickly through the papers Draco had written his translations down on to be sure of what she was saying. “... Cho has been feeding Harland information and vice versa. It seems that after learning that Harry and Dumbledore weren't going to turn on Draco, their next best plans for him include using Harland's influence over him to make him turn on all of us.”
“Which we always figured would happen.” Harry put in, seeing the unhappiness that crossed Draco's face. The other boy already knew what the letters contained of course, but Harry thought it was important to provide perspective to the whole thing. Draco merely nodded and waited for Hermione to go on reporting to the rest of the group.
“Oh they had plans for the rest of us too.” She told them. “According to the letters, Harry, Luna and Fred were not to be harmed... must have been before they knew of Jacey.”
“Me? I was on their 'maim but not kill' list? Should I be honored or horrified?” Fred joked nervously from his wheelchair.
“The letters indicate Cho told Harland that Sarah, Elise and Elanya had special plans for all three of you.” Hermione replied.
“Meaning the island was it for Fred, right?” Ginny asked.
“Hopefully.” Fred muttered. “I don't know what else I have to offer now that I'm done being their bait.”
“If that was their goal.” Jacey put in. “Who knows if they have something even deeper going on.”
“I haven't seen anything yet.” Luna assured everyone.
“So what did they plan for you, me, and Ginny?” Ron asked Hermione, wanting get back on topic as there were clearly plots being enacted against him, his family and his friends.
“Nothing good.” She answered unhappily. “But the end result was to be our deaths.”
“Why would he help her?” Ginny wondered aloud what Harry had been questioning since the night before.
“Because her grandmother was the one to present Abigail to him so that he could force her to bite him. Cho's family helped him become what he is.” Draco responded, having read the letters. “She must have taken the opportunity to remind him of that in her first letter to him since his first return letter mentions his gratitude for it and his pleasure at helping her in whatever revenge she wanted to seek.... Last night Lupin said that in order for Cho to read and write lunarscript, either one of her parents or grandparents had to be a werewolf. He said any further back than that and the bloodline is too diluted.”
“So her grandmother was probably the one... why wouldn't she have just bitten Harland?” Harry sighed... there were so many answers that only seemed to be followed by more questions.
“Probably because she would've known that Harland wasn't going to be under anyone's command and would have killed her. Motives generally boil down to self preservation on that side.” Draco cleared up for them, drawing on his own experience growing up with selfish, power-hungry people. “She also probably offered him up a muggle werewolf because the muggle would be easier for him to kill after passing the curse on to him.”
“Well that's just horrible.” Hermione said with a shudder of disapproval for the whole idea.
“People are starting to arrive for the Order meeting.” Harry announced, as he suddenly sensed new minds entering his house.
“I guess we should head down then.” Fred happily rolled himself to the door. “Hopefully Drake will be here soon.”
Allowing the others to go on ahead, Harry stopped Draco and Ginny at the top of the stairs. “I need to ask you each a favor.”
“Go on...” Ginny encouraged.
“Jacey told you all about Tristan being a twin, right?” He started, just to be sure they were all on the same page.
“Yes, as if our lives weren't terrifying enough.” She rolled her eyes as Draco simply nodded in reply.
“Well, after the meeting Luna and I need to talk to Dumbledore, Jacey and Ron need to discuss something with Moody and Fred and Hermione will be busy with Drake. Draco, could you go to Lupin and ask about pureborn vampire twins? And Ginny, could you take these letters to your dad so he knows what's going on with Cho and Harland and hopefully look into it for us.”
“I suppose I could... it's nice to see you delegate things out for once Potter.” Draco grinned.
“There's a lot going on... I can't be everywhere at once.” He grinned back.
“Should I tell dad about the Auror that you all left burned to a crisp?” Ginny asked.
Harry thought for a moment. He knew Arthur wouldn't be pleased with what he and Jacey had done to the man but he felt he could explain himself if necessary... plus it would be better that Arthur knew what happened to the man before an actual investigation was started. “Yes, go ahead and tell him.”
Finding themselves in agreement, they followed everyone else downstairs and into the parlor where the visiting Order members had begun to gather. Molly quickly put the teens to work, sending them around with snacks and refreshments until at last it seemed everyone had arrived and Arthur ushered them all into the War Room. As they all settled, Dumbledore stood before them ready to give his report. “Thanks to Arthur and the Ministry's input, no mention is being made of holding Hogwarts or myself responsible for the terrible tragedy that occurred with the train and so it appears we have staved off Voldemort's plot to gain control of the school. The Daily Prophet has run an article expressing the opinion that it may not be safe to continue running Hogwarts but we hope to run damage control on this when Willem Fritz takes his brother's place as owner and editor this coming Monday.” He paused to nod at Willem who was hovering near Fred and Drake. “With no will, Edmund's fortune and property are left to Willem including the Daily Prophet holdings.”
“What if Elanya comes forward as Edmund's daughter?” Hermione asked. “Won't she be able to lay claim to everything?”
“It's what they're hoping.” Willem answered with a nervous smile. “My taking over the newspaper is a device meant to draw her and her cohorts out into the open.”
“And until that happens, at least there will be someone in charge making sure truth is printed rather than opinion.” Kingsley added, crossing his arms with a satisfied smirk.
Harry wasn't positive that it would work... sure Elanya would probably want her father's money and property, but if it didn't serve her greater plans with Elise, Sarah and Cho then there was no way she would risk coming forward. Unless she finds a way to incorporate it into their plans. Jacey's voice answered his thoughts.
With assurances that Hogwarts would be safe to resume it's operations, the meeting moved on and Hagrid came forward to tell them all of his progress with the community of magical creatures and humanoids. “It comes down ter this.” He said as he awkwardly stood in front of them all. “With Lupin's help we found two werewolf packs willin' ter side with us. He's promised ter recruit more when he an' the kids go 'round the world.” Lupin nodded in agreement and urged him to continue. “Up at Hogwarts, Firenze an' the centaurs have agreed ter protect the school's borders but will promise no' much more'n tha'. The Merfolk living in the lake at Hogwarts are remainin' neutral and have agreed ter spread their message o' neutrality ter waters all o'er the world. I've a meetin' with some o' the fairyfolk tomorrow an' the ogres next week.” Hagrid nervously concluded, wringing his hands to distract himself from his discomfort with public speaking.
“What of the magical creatures? Where do they stand?” A woman dressed in Auror robes asked before he could escape back to his seat.
“Most species are remainin' neutral.” He answered. “But they have also agreed that should they have ter become involved, they'd take our side o'er Voldemort's.”
“Well, that's something I guess.” Tonks said with little excitement as Hagrid scrambled into his chair and Arthur took his place in front.
“As some of you from the ministry are aware, we've been working hard to coordinate alliances with other magical governments from every country.” He began tiredly. Harry perked up, interested to know in which countries he could expect aide and which he knew he'd have to be more on guard while visiting. “Well I'm here to report that while we've managed to find a way to work with most of them, there are a few who have already been infiltrated by Voldemort's reach.”
“Athens and Paris among them.” Jacey said with certainty.
Arthur nodded. “Yes, along with two in the United States, one in Canada, three in China, two in Africa and one in Australia.”
“What of the other ministries in the United Kingdom and Scotland?” A man in the back asked.
“The Irish Ministry in Dublin is working with us as well as both in Scotland...” Arthur paused and looked around at them all, clearly upset by what he had to say next. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to make contact with the Ministry in Wales.”
“There could be several reasons for that.” Kingsley said hopefully.
“Perhaps, but we all know the most likely one.” Moody grumbled.
“I'm sending Nia and Apollo up there to check it out so we can know for sure.” Arthur said with authority. In the meantime, other ministries now within our alliance are on alert and are sending us whatever resources they can spare. I'll be organizing a specialized Auror squad to host visiting members of different wizarding police organizations. Kingsley, I'd like you to be in charge of this squad.”
“Absolutely. I won't let you all down.” He answered proudly.
“I know you won't. You'll be reporting directly to my office... meaning the committee and I are your supervisors, not Head Auror Nerezza.” Arthur instructed with an air of smugness. He was enjoying any way he could irk the man who was trying to infiltrate the Auror Department.
“What is the committee planning for Mr. Nerezza?” McGonagall asked, mirroring the question Harry had been dwelling on.
“An investigation has already been started... our hope is to be able to oust him from his position within the next few weeks.” He gave his vague answer with a look that implied that was all the information they would receive. Clearly he was intent on ensuring that nothing got in the way of his goal of ridding themselves of Nerezza.
Shortly thereafter, the meeting wrapped up and another was scheduled. The teens all shared a look before splitting up to accost their chosen conversation participant. Harry and Luna hurried to keep Dumbledore from leaving, pulling him into a corner of the parlor for some privacy. “Is something wrong?” The headmaster asked in concern.
“No, we were just hoping that maybe you could tell us something about a woman named Jennitha August.” Harry jumped right in, not quite knowing how to ease into such a topic.
Dumbledore looked taken aback. “How did you two come across that name?”
“While reading his files from the ministry.” Luna answered honestly before Harry could think of a lie. She simply shrugged at them both. “You said it was okay for him to read them and the ones about Voldemort... didn't you?”
“Yes, I guess I did.” Dumbledore reluctantly agreed. “Though I was unaware of what you would find. May I ask how Jennitha is so connected to you that her name appears in those files?”
Harry looked at Luna who silently encouraged him to be as honest as he felt necessary. “She's the one who helped my grandparents disappear and become Mr. and Mrs. Evans. Before that, they were Richard and Ruby Adler.”
He nodded slowly, taking in the information. “Yes, Lily always was confused as to her place in the world because things at home didn't always make sense. I assume there was an important reason for the Adlers to pretend they were muggles?”
“They wanted to disappear from the Dark Society though I'm still not entirely sure why. After talking to Henry Macnair, I believe that they stole the Marqueesian Scrolls from the groups' leader and brought them to Jennitha who was somehow connected to the ministry and was able to help them assume new lives.”
Dumbledore sighed and with everyone else having left, he moved to sit in one of the chairs. Harry and Luna scrambled to seat themselves on the couch across from him. “Many years ago, the Scrolls were stolen from Tereus's father who was murdered. No one knew who had done it but suddenly they were found by Ms. August who worked in the Department of Mysteries. Tereus showed up to claim them and that was the last I'd heard of them until last summer when Tereus required a place of sanctuary.”
“Because Voldemort is pursuing him?” Luna interrupted as her intuition kicked in.
“There have been many throughout history who have sought Marquees's power through the Scrolls... Voldemort is simply the most recent.”
“But how many others came as close as he did?” Harry asked. He quickly filled Dumbledore in on everything Macnair had said about Thadeseus and Voldemort with his specific mention of the name Tom Riddle.
“I assure you, Tereus is well hidden and well protected, as are the three people who know of his location.” The headmaster said to alleviate their concerns.
“And Jennitha is one of the three... she's still alive isn't she?” Luna pushed.
Dumbledore sighed and shook his head. “It seems your powers are growing, not only in psychic ability but in deduction as well.”
“So then you and Professor McGonagall aren't the other two?” Harry asked, using his own deductive skills.
“You thought that?” He gave a small laugh of amusement. “No, there are two others far more worthy of that knowledge. As I said, Tereus simply needed a place to stay during the summer and we provided him the empty halls of Hogwarts.”
“Do you know where Jennitha is?”
“I'm afraid I do not.” He answered. Harry pushed to sense whether he was lying but could only find honesty.
“Who does know where to find her?” Luna asked.
Dumbledore shook his head. “I'm not sure. Her location as well as those of the other two are highly guarded secrets that are revealed on a need to know basis by those within the Department of Mysteries of every ministry in the world.”
“Including the ministries that have already been invaded by Voldemort's forces?” Luna was concerned... so was Harry as the worst possible thing in the world would be for Voldemort to find those Scrolls and somehow make them work.
“The Department of Mysteries works a bit separate from the actual ministry. They have their own rules and regulations. Even should the Death Eaters find a way to get Arthur out and take over as Minister, they would have no power over the Mysteries' workers. And Arthur has assured me that in every case where a Ministry has been invaded, the Department of Mysteries has gone into lockdown, admitting no one who hasn't already been given clearance.” He did his best to assure them.
“Except the ministry in Wales.” Harry pointed out. “No one knows what's going on there yet... what if the Death Eaters learned from their mistakes and infiltrated the Department of Mysteries first?”
“Until Aurors Althenia March and Apollo Addams return to tell us, we will simply have to hope that isn't true.” Dumbledore insisted.
Thanking him for taking the time to speak with them, Harry and Luna allowed Dumbledore to leave after discovering they wouldn't be getting any more information out of him. Then they went up to Harry's room to wait for the others. “It's not a good idea.” Luna said as soon as the door was closed.
“What?” He asked innocently.
But she had seen his thoughts and knew exactly what he was in the process of plotting. “Going into the Department of Mysteries to find Jennitha. You don't need me to remind you that the last time we all went there didn't end so well.”
“Because it was a trap.” He argued. “This time we'll be in control of the situation.”
“You heard Dumbledore, that Department runs independently of the Ministry... Arthur won't be able to quietly get us admitted in there.” She argued back.
“There's no where else for us to get information about Jennitha.” He insisted.
“Let's just wait until after we talk to my grandmother before plotting break-ins at the ministry... Please?” Luna pleaded, wanting sanity and caution to be their main focus.
“Fine.” He sighed, never really able to tell her no... especially when she was making sense. And besides, he'd said he would take her concerns more seriously since she was the intuitive future teller. “Do you think she'll know about Jennitha?”
She shrugged. “I have no idea, she'd never told us any of this about herself... she was always so keen on making sure Kane and I knew our family history, I don't understand why she wouldn't have told us.”
“Well, in a few days you can ask her.” Harry said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her in for a hug.
“And when will you be calling up Lily to ask questions?” She asked, reminding his of his own familial link to the past.
“She won't know anything about this... and I don't want to tell her until I know everything.” Harry insisted, feeling mad at himself for purposely cutting off his communication with his parents. But until he could give his mother solid answers, he just couldn't face her to say that the Adlers may not have started out as the best people. He needed to really know why they left the Dark Society in such a way that required them to forge new identities. Macnair had claimed it was because they disagreed with Thadeseus's plans for the future and what those plans meant for their daughter Petunia, and maybe that was part of it... but the Adlers could have left the group without stealing those Scrolls and gaining new identities... the Lovegoods had. Something else had to have been going on... something wasn't fitting the way it was supposed to in order to make a neat little picture. He was determined to figure it out as soon as possible so that he no longer felt the need to cut himself off from speaking to his parents.... after all, they'd already been wherever they were for over sixteen years. Who knew how much longer they had before moving on to whatever waited after death, leaving him this time forever?
“Well?” Draco asked as soon as he answered Ginny's knock. They'd decided that it would be best for her to talk to Arthur about the letter right away so that he could make anyone here that needed to know aware of Harland's claim to be building an army for Cho. Lupin had simply returned to his room after the meeting and Ginny knew Draco was desperate to get away from all these people as well, so she'd suggested he wait in his room until they could go talk to Lupin together... she definitely wanted to be present for a conversation about vampire twins.
“He's going to make the proper people aware of the situation and will double efforts to find both Harland and Cho.” She quickly reported, taking in his somewhat haggard appearance. “How are you feeling?”
“I'm finally feeling tired.” He answered, emphasizing the statement with a yawn.
“Well, let's go talk to Lupin and then we can put you to bed.” She teased, grabbing his hand and pulling him into the hall and toward the stairs.
She let Draco knock on the door and request entry when Lupin answered. He of course let them in and waved his wand to produce comfortable looking chairs for them while sinking into his own. “What can I do for you both?”
“We have sort of a weird question...” Draco began, continuing only at Lupin's urging. “Have there ever been accounts of pureborn vampire twins?”
He sat up straighter in his chair and looked at them both in complete seriousness. “No, no such account exists. It is rare enough for a pureborn of any hominoid species to be produced, twins would be a one in a billion chance.”
“If it did happen, what would it mean? What kinds of powers would they have?” Ginny asked.
Lupin shook his head. “We would never be able to know unless they were studied. We aren't even fully sure of all the powers of a regular pureborn... why are you asking about such things?”
“You know why.” Draco told him with a meaningful look.
“Harry saw it in Macnair's head when he and Jacey went to the prison to talk to him. Tristan is a twin...” Ginny clarified. “We don't know the other one's name or gender, but they're out there somewhere and probably upset that Harry, Draco and Jacey got together to kill Tristan.”
“Extraordinary...” Lupin said quietly, staring off into space. Then he shook himself out of it. “Well, from a detached point of view this is a very interesting development. There are many studies, both magical and muggle, trying to gauge the relationship between twins. The link shared in the womb most certainly follows them into life and it's been nearly impossible to know why. The idea of pureborn vampires being twins... there's no way to know what they are capable of or what powers they possess. From all of your accounts and my own experiences with Tristan, I had already observed that he was much different from other known cases... stronger in focus, concentration and ability.”
“If one twin died, would it lessen or enhance the other's power?” Draco asked.
“Again, there's no way of knowing without actually spending time studying them.” He answered. “I'll have to speak to a few vampires I know, see what kinds of theories they come up with. After all, who better to gauge the situation? The only trouble with that is if knowledge of pureborn twins gets out among the vampire community... well the surviving one would be almost like a god to them, someone to be in awe of, someone to serve and protect above all others. It would be the same in our community should pureborn werewolf twins be born.”
“But real wolves have more that one baby all the time... wouldn't pureborn twins be more common among werewolves?” Ginny pointed out.
Lupin smiled in amusement. “Werewolves are limited by the very human part of us. True humans are also capable of producing more than one offspring in a single birth as Fred and George proved, but it isn't common.”
“So our best bet is to just carry around ash wood at all times.” Draco responded unhappily.
“I'm afraid so.” He agreed with just as much unhappiness. “I will try and find out the identity of this twin so at least we'll know who to look out for.”
With not much else to say, Ginny and Draco left Lupin's room feeling let down. She wasn't sure what she'd been expecting but to gather no information whatsoever was disappointing all around. They went up to Harry's room, but only he and Luna were there. Quickly relating the short message that they knew little more than what they'd begun with and the fact that Lupin was looking into it, they then hurried back down to her room before the others could show up. “I knew it was too easy.” Draco muttered, slumping down on the bed.
“Getting rid of Tristan... I mean, it wasn't easy, but getting away with it was. Until now anyway.” He sighed and lay back.
Ginny moved to lay with him, resting her head on his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. “It's just like Harland... we'll just have to wait and worry when we actually come across this vampire twin. Getting worked up about it in the meantime will only drive us all crazy.”
“Lupin and Tonks are taking me to see my aunt and uncle this weekend.” He announced, abruptly changing the subject. “Do you want to come with me?”
She felt giddy... he may have made the offer in a way to appear that it was her choice and he didn't mind either way, but she knew what he was really saying... He wanted her to come with him, otherwise he wouldn't have brought it up at all and simply waited until the day came to tell her he was leaving for a visit. She loved how he made her feel so needed... it was a far cry from how she'd felt when she'd pursued Harry convinced that she was the one who needed somebody. “Sure.” She agreed nonchalantly, knowing that it was imperative not to make a big deal out of this... even if he did think it very important.
“Thanks.” He said quietly, running his fingers through her hair.
“It's only fair... you've spent a good deal of time putting up with my crazy family, I should be there to spend time with yours.” She joked, looking up at him with a smile.
He leaned down and kissed her with heavy passion. “You make me happy.” He whispered.
“Hmm, I wish I could say the same about you.” She teased, letting out a squeal of a laugh as he poked her in the sides. “Okay, okay!” She surrendered, kissing his chin. “You make me happy too.” She told him before pressing her mouth to his once more. Suddenly she couldn't wait for the weekend and for Draco to properly introduce her to the only members of his family who counted. Her entire family knew of their relationship... she felt that making his aware of it would be that final step to really accepting a future together.
“Please, it'll only take a minute.” Ron begged Moody to stay and listen to them.
“We really need your help.” Jacey said with a pout, pushing him aside and approaching the man herself. “You are the only one we can turn to. I would greatly appreciate it if you would just take a moment to humor us.”
“I've been resisting the influence of pretty girls longer than either of you have been alive.” Moody answered gruffly, brushing off her attempt to use her femininity as an appeal. “But, since it seems so important, you have two minutes to make your case.” He added with a tight grin, clamping his hand down on Ron's shoulder and leading him to the kitchen table where he pushed him down into a chair. “Speak boy.”
Not happy to be given commands like a pet dog, Ron reminded himself that he needed Moody's help and held back his indignation. “We need to find someone named Vincent Riley and were hoping you could get us his information from the records and archives.”
“Why would I do that?” Moody scoffed.
“Why wouldn't you?” He returned, using Fred's logic.
“You are in charge of these records and archives, are you not?” Jacey interrupted.
“Then who else would we go to with our request?” She asked innocently.
“Why come to me instead of your father?” Moody shot back, turning to Ron. “Clearly you don't want Arthur knowing that you are looking into this Vincent Riley man... why?”
“Because this has nothing to do with the war and he has enough to deal with.” He answered quickly. “I figured you'd be the next best person to come to for help.”
“As if I don't have other things to do.” Moody's magical eye rolled around in his head, making Ron uncomfortable.
“This wouldn't take any time at all since you already have to go through all of the records.” He argued.
“Please.” Jacey added in a soft voice. “It is important that we know where to find this man once we are out in the world.”
“Why?” Moody demanded.
“Because he can lead us to one of our friends who has become lost.” She replied steadily, with no indication of her own vendetta against Vincent.
He stared at them both for a moment before coming to a decision. “Okay fine... I'll look into this Riley fellow. But if this somehow turns bad I will instantly inform Arthur of your request.”
“Fair enough.” Ron agreed.
“Okay then.” Moody grumbled before suddenly apparating away with a loud crack.
“He seems pleasant.” Jacey muttered.
“He's not so bad once you get used to him.” He grinned. “How long do you think it'll take him?”
“That depends on what kind of priority he gives our request.” She answered, looking troubled. “I think we should come up with another way to get information about Vincent, just in case this Auror Moody takes too long.”
“We did mention to him that we needed the files before we leave in a couple of weeks.” Ron said, hesitant to make any alternate plans while so many other things were going on.
“We shall see.” She shrugged.
While Jacey went off to shower before dinner, he went to his room and sat staring at the drawer in his desk where he'd stored Parvati's still unread letter to him. He desperately wanted to read it but didn't want to experience the feelings that would arise from it. With a sigh of resignation, he got up and went to get the letter. Without hesitation he ripped open the envelope and let his eyes roam over the paper before sitting down once more to really read what she had to say.
It seemed from your last letter that you were upset... I hope it's not
with me. It's going well here, it's hard but learning to control myself is going
much easier than I thought. There are some here who don't seem to wish to
control themselves at all but Mr. Riley and his staff make sure to keep them in
line. Sometimes I can almost fool myself into thinking I'm back at Hogwarts.
By the time you get this you'll either be finishing up school or even heading
home... I must admit that I'm jealous you and the others are done with
lessons and professors yet at the same time, I wish I were back at Hogwarts
doing nothing more than taking classes. But enough of hopes and regrets,
they get us nowhere. I know you, Harry and the rest of your friends will be
traveling soon, I wish I could tell you where I was so that you all could visit
but as I told you in my last letter, that is impo,ssible at the moment. There
are so many things I want to tell you in person, so many things to say that
can't be properly expressed in writing. Hopefully my progress here
continues and I can leave earlier than expected, I miss home and Padma
and you and all my friends. Please let your next letter to me be a happier
one, good news is always welcome here. Until we meet again in person,
be sure to take care of yourself.
With much affection,
Ron carefully folded up the letter, attempting to push aside the feelings of guilt so he could focus on the one part that had stimulated the plotting center of his brain. “Please let your next letter to me be happier...” His next letter... if he wrote back and gave it to Lupin to send out then he and Jacey could follow and see who he hands it off to. Lupin had made it very clear that he didn't use owls to get these letters to Parvati, each time he gave them directly to a go-between and if that person wasn't Vincent himself then surely he and Jacey could convince that person to tell them where the vampire colony was.
Putting it back in his desk drawer, he quickly penned his reply and sealed it in an envelope. He'd just finished addressing it to Parvati when someone came knocking on his door. He opened it to find Jacey, her hair still hanging in wet curls from her shower. “It is time for dinner.” She announced, looking at him strangely. “Is something wrong?”
“Not at all.” He answered with a smile. He'd been so excited by his idea, she must have seen it written all over him. He held up his letter and smiled wider. “I think I came up with another way to find the colony should Moody fail.”
“Well, it's a good news/bad news situation.” Drake said as he finished examining Fred's leg.
“Start with the good news.” Fred insisted. He was tired of wheeling around in this stupid chair... it had only been a few days and he suddenly had much greater respect for those who had to be in a wheelchair their whole lives... But he couldn't stand it anymore. He was far too distracted and fidgety to have to sit still for so long, he wanted to move freely whenever he chose.
“Okay, the good news is you don't need the chair anymore. I'll fit you with a walking splint to ensure the bones remain straight and as long as you take it slow and easy for the next week, I should be able to remove that before you kids all head out.” Drake announced with a tense smile. Fred immediately attempted to rise to his feet but the healer and Hermione both pushed him back down. “Well, you have to wait until I put the splint on.” He laughed.
“What's the bad news?” Hermione asked warily, always one to want the full picture.
Drake sighed and shook his head. “I've reached the end of my ability to fix this. The bones are mended and after a week in the splint it'll be like they were never broken in the first place... but the extent of the original damage from the island along with the severe break a few days ago, it'll never feel the same. The bone is weaker, more prone to breaking again. You won't be able to exert yourself very much... even tripping while running could mean an instant snap”
“Are you telling me that I can't fight anymore?” Fred asked incredulously.
“That choice is yours... I am simply telling you what will happen if you do.” He answered unhappily as he bent to begin putting Fred's leg in a splint.
Meeting Hermione's eyes over the healer's head, he saw that she sympathized with how he was feeling at the moment... which was entirely useless. What good would he be to Harry and the others out there is he could become injured from stepping the wrong way? He'd be nothing but a hindrance out there and he had nothing else to offer to help.
With a few more warnings, Drake helped him to his feet and made sure he could stand and walk before handing him some herbs for the pain and taking his leave. “He's wrong, this doesn't have to be forever.” Hermione said as soon as the healer was gone.
“Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but I'm pretty sure he knows what he's talking about.” Fred answered glumly and he carefully walked around the room, stretching out his grown-lazy legs.
“Of course he does, he's one of the best healers I've ever known of.” She sat in the chair and spun the wheels, giving it a try. He smiled, seeing her struggle to maintain a straight path. “But Drake said himself that he was at the end of his ability to heal you... his ability. In a couple of weeks, we'll be off looking for the strongest psychics in the world but you know who's location we already know?” She looked up at him with a hinting smile.
It dawned on him instantly. “Gabby.” He said quietly.
“Exactly. Drake may not be able to do more, but surely she could.” Hermione suggested, getting up from the wheelchair and moving to the cauldrons on his work table. “Let's fire some of these up before we go down to dinner so they'll be ready when we come back up.”
“And what are we brewing?” He was in a much better mood now that the permanence of his situation was called into question.
“Harry asked this morning if we'd make some more of those amulets. I guess Draco would feel better if we each had one to wear while we're out there looking for the coven people.” She answered, pulling a small sack from her pocket. “Luckily, I thought ahead and grabbed a bunch more pieces of crystal from Rowena's Cavern.” She spilled the small crystals she'd harvested onto the table, enough to make more that fifty of the amulets.
“We could make more... or we could figure out how to make them better.” He challenged with a competitive grin.
“Well, you saw Draco last night... sure he didn't change into the wolf, but he was suffering and I'm sure Lupin was too. Why not find a way to help them even more?” He picked up one of the crystals and stared at it thoughtfully.
“Dinner!” Ron called through the door.
“Well, lets at least start with making the amulets Harry and Draco wanted... we have a month before we can test anything new anyway.” Hermione pointed out, coming over to lean up and kiss him. “You get the cauldrons started, I'll go grab Harry and Luna and see about getting in contact with Gabby.”
“Okay, meet you in the kitchen.” He grabbed her face to kiss her again before letting her leave. He quickly grabbed his wand and lit the cauldrons, pouring in the basic ingredients to boil while they were downstairs eating. Feeling he'd gotten as much done as he could before the next steps, he moved to the door and already noted that his leg was in pain. He swallowed down some of the herbs that Drake had left him and waited until the pain subsided before heading out to face the rest of the house.
On the second landing he ran into Willem who was also late in going down to dinner. “Hey, congratulations on running the Daily Prophet.” Fred told him with a happy grin.
“We'll see how it goes.” Willem sighed. “I know I agreed to this, but it just seems wrong to act as bait to capture my own niece.”
“If it makes any difference, I doubt she'd feel the same were she in your situation.” He offered. “We both know she's not the most honest, well-intentioned person. Wouldn't you rather it be you to finally bring her in rather than some Auror who won't care anything about her except that she's the enemy?”
“Sure... if she goes for it.” He shook his head sadly. “We both know, she's as smart as she is untrustworthy.”
“She also likes to look out for herself. If having her father's money and property benefits her or her friends and their plots, then she'll go for it because she thinks you're too weak to stop her.” Fred reached out and patted the man on the back in encouragement. “Imagine how satisfying it will be to prove her wrong... it'll almost be like proving Edmund wrong.”
“In a way I suppose. But I was never one for vengeance.” Willem shook his head again. “I only ever wanted fairness.”
“Well Elanya doesn't play fair. Neither do her friends and they intend to make life extremely unfair to everyone but them and those they chose to bestow their favor on.” He insisted, wanting to ensure that Willem was up for the challenge before him should his niece decide to show up.
“I won't fail any of you.” He assured them. “I am prepared to do what it right for the greater good... I just can't help feeling that I'll have failed myself should I succeed.”
“I couldn't image having to turn on a member of my family... I came close once with my brother Percy, but...” He trailed off, not caring to relive any of that. “It'll be difficult I'm sure, but it's the only way to reach her. If you really think she's capable of being saved, if deep down she can be the person you want her to be, then the first step is getting her out of the life she's currently embroiled in.”
“I know.” Willem said quietly. “Thank you.” He awkwardly added before turning and walking the rest of the way down the stairs. Fred felt for the man, fresh out a six year prison term he hadn't deserved and instantly he sees his formerly unknown of niece kill his scheming brother and now he was being asked to sit as bait to bring in said niece. It was a horrible position to be in and he just wasn't sure Willem was strong enough to withstand it. He intended to mention it to his father and quickly went down to the kitchen.
He brushed off everyone's congratulations that he was on his feet and pulled his father aside into the parlor, quickly explaining his fears that should Elanya show up, Willem may not be able to hold up to her influence. Arthur squeezed his shoulder and smiled. “I appreciate your concern, we've had the same ones. But the office it still under surveillance, we haven't removed the listening devices. And to ensure that nothing happens to erase those tapes like the night Edmund died, the end transmissions have been moved and are under twenty-four hour watch.”
Fred was sure to keep his face blank. He knew that he and Willem were the ones who'd erased those tapes to keep the fact that they had been there a secret and the last thing he wanted was to clue his father into his slight guilt. In any case, he felt slightly better about putting Willem in the Daily Prophet offices and so they returned to the kitchen and joined everyone at the table.
Luna had expected dinner to be a quiet affair after such a busy day... but as soon as Arthur and Fred returned to the kitchen, she knew something was going to happen. There was no vision, but she felt uncomfortable and had the sense that they were about to receive company... the kind bearing news. You okay? Harry's voice echoed in her head as she tried to empty it and open herself up to any visions that may come.
Someone's going to show up here. She replied, unable to give him anything more.
Before he could press any further, the doorbell rang. With an apprehensive look, Tonks, their resident Auror, went to answer the door with her wand out. No one was expecting company now that the Order meeting was over. “I wonder who on earth that could be?” Molly said nervously to fill the silence.
“It's Kingsley.” Harry answered as he, Luna and Jacey all three their minds to the front entryway.
Sure enough, Tonks came back in moments later with Kingsley who asked to speak with her, Arthur, and Lupin in private. “Okay, you all concentrate on your food.” Molly scolded as the teens turned to watch the four adults walk into the parlor.
Any ideas what it is about? Jacey asked Luna and Harry.
Luna pushed but the adults were carefully keeping their minds shielded and she was reluctant to take Harry's idea and link their minds together to push their way in... that was a tactic to use against the enemy or in times of danger...
The front door opened and closed, signaling that Kingsley had left. Arthur, Tonks and Lupin returned to the kitchen looking upset. “We have news for Harry and Draco.” Arthur announced.
“What?” Harry asked eagerly.
“You had said Dobby reported that Death Eaters were looking for Kreatcher... well, we of course started our own search and Kingsley has just told me that we found h.im.” He answered hesitantly.
“Well that's good news, isn't it?” Molly asked brightly.
“Where did they find him?” Harry was less positive, already knowing that something unpleasant was about to follow.
Arthur turned to look at Draco in sympathy. “In the Malfoy mansion... he was being housed by Narcissa Malfoy.”
“I'm not surprised.” Draco muttered, staring at his plate.
Tonks came and sat next to him, reaching out to place a hand on his arm. “They've had to arrest her because she refused to allow them to take Kreatcher.”
“Good.” He answered, still staring at his plate. Luna could feel the dark clouds of thought invading his head.
Tonks looked to Lupin for help and so he came to Draco's other side, taking the chair Ginny offered him. “Listen... she isn't talking to anyone, she won't say why Kreatcher was there or why she wouldn't just allow him to be taken.”
“And you want me to try and talk to her.” Draco guessed, refusing to look up.
“Why can't you just ask Kreatcher?” Luna asked, though the moment she stopped speaking she knew the answer... it was written on Tonks and Lupin's faces.
“Because he's dead.” Arthur answered for them. “In order to keep our Aurors from gaining custody of him, Narcissa killed him. It is the other charge on which she's been arrested.”
“You really think she'll tell him?” Tonks asked doubtfully. “I mean why put him through seeing her if it'll all be for nothing.”
“It's fine.” Draco quietly interrupted whatever Arthur was about to say. “She probably won't tell me anything, but I'll try.”
Are you sure? Luna thought out to him, not wanting him to give into this just because he thought it was expected of him.
Can you give me a reason not to be? He responded back. Other than the psychological torment a meeting with his mother may produce, she didn't have one. She had received no visions regarding anything about any of this.
“We have to leave right away while she's still in holding at the Ministry. They'll be taking her to Azkaban in a few hours.” Arthur announced.
Finally, someone who deserves to be there. Luna heard Harry think though he wisely kept it to himself while in front of Draco.
Luna... will you come with? Draco shyly asked. I think having someone there who can read her mind would be beneficial and of the three of you, you're the least hostile.
She knew why he wasn't making his request aloud... he didn't want Ginny to know that he wanted someone else to go with him on this very emotionally charged trip. Checking with Harry and Jacey, she saw that they had heard and also understood Draco's plea to her... though Harry wasn't happy with the idea of her returning to the ministry. Still, they pushed aside their discomfort in the name of the greater good and with a plan to make it so it was like she wouldn't even be there. “Mr. Weasley?” She interrupted his planning with Tonks. “I think it would be best if there were also someone there who could look into Narcissa's mind... someone not prone to be easily angered. Of course, she probably would be even less willing to talk if it were anyone but her and Draco, so I could wear the cloak.” She offered nonchalantly, as if it were an idea off the top of her head and meant nothing at all.
Thank you. Draco thought out gratefully, glad that he didn't have to do this entirely alone... even if she wasn't the one he really wished could be there. But she could see that deep down he never wanted his mother to know a thing about Ginny.
It seemed however that Arthur shared the same concerns as Harry. “I don't know... even with the cloak I'm not sure it's a good idea to bring you back there.”
“Kingsley had said that Nerezza already went home.” Tonks pointed out. “Narcissa won't be expecting a mind reader, she won't have any shields around her thoughts. If Draco can direct the conversation properly, Luna will be able to tell if she is lying to him.”
“And if it helps prompt a vision about all of this then all the better.” Jacey put in helpfully.
“Okay... but you are to remain under the cloak at all times.” Arthur insisted, sending Harry to go get it.
“That won't be a problem. I don't particularly want to be seen there.” She smiled, wanting to put him at ease. She pushed gently with her mind and saw Arthur visibly relax under her influence. What a strange power... she couldn't wait until they found Miles so he could explain to her exactly what she was doing when she altered how people were feeling.
Arthur, Tonks, Lupin and Molly all walked into the parlor to discuss their plans. “Well, I think I'll retire early tonight.” Willem said, clearly sensing that he was a bit in the way.
They bid him goodnight and as soon as he was out of the room Ginny turned to Draco. “Are you sure you're okay with this?” She asked, regaining her chair and reaching out to take his hand.
“I've never known my mother to kill someone before... not even a house elf.” He shook his head. “If Luna and I can figure out why then I want to know.”
“I wonder what it was that Kreatcher knew that she didn't want him telling anyone.” Hermione mused.
“Hopefully we'll find out shortly.” Luna said, attempting to push a calm, soothing feeling around the room. She caught Jacey turn and stare at her, but none of the others seemed to pick up on what she was doing... however, they did all seem less on edge.
“Just don't let her get to you.” Ginny gently offered advice to Draco, squeezing his hand tighter.
Harry came back into the kitchen with the cloak just as Arthur was calling for Luna and Draco to join him in the parlor so that they could apparate away. She got up and grabbed the cloak as she walked by him. “Be careful.” He warned as he reluctantly let go off the silky cloth.
She smiled and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. “We all will.” She promised. She wanted him to come with... but Draco was right, Harry and Jacey were too prone to losing their temper with the right stimuli. If Narcissa were to say something they didn't like... well, it was just better that they stay here. This was her time to prove her worth as a coven member, to prove that she was useful without Harry and Jacey and not just because of her visions. She was ready to support Draco as he faced his mother and she was ready to play spy for the ministry... after all, spying was much more agreeable than dueling.
Draco wanted to get up and pace the room as he waited for Narcissa to be brought in, but he remained in his seat unwilling to let her see that he was unsettled by this meeting. Tonks and Lupin had offered to sit in with him, but as much as he would have liked that, he knew that his mother would never open up in front of them. He was hoping her anger at seeing that they'd sent him to interrogate her would be enough to shock her into letting something slip... and with Luna hiding under the cloak in the corner of the room, she'd be able to pick up on any lies or untold truths. It was good to be reminded that he wasn't actually alone.
I'm not going anywhere. Luna silently promised as his hectic thoughts reached her. Kingsley is bringing her in now. She warned so that he could be prepared.
The door creaked open and Draco had to look away. It was unsettling to see his icily beautiful mother in handcuffs... but he forced himself to look up, to meet her angry gaze. Neither said anything as Kingsley attached her cuffs to the table between them. “We'll be right outside.” He said in warning before walking out.
The door closed with a resounding slam, making Draco feel entirely closed in... that is, on top of the left over claustrophobic feelings from the moon's influence. Just relax. Nothing she can say will break you. You're stronger than she is. Luna's soft musical voice soothed his suddenly racing thoughts. Focusing on Narcissa, he realized she hadn't removed her gaze from him since entering. “I should have known you'd have something to do with this.” She said at last.
“I only found out after they already arrested you.” He answered steadily. “They were looking for Sirius Black's old house elf... how was I to know they'd trace him to you?”
“That elf would have sooner spit on my dead cousin than serve him. Kreatcher belonged to the Black family... of course he would come to me after your new friend Potter murdered my sister.” She said coldly. “It is not surprising these idiots in the ministry took so long to figure it out.”
“So after Sirius died, Kreatcher went to live with Bellatrix? When exactly did he come to live with you?”
“What are you, an Auror in training now?” She looked away, completely disgusted with him. “Isn't it a conflict of interest to send my son to interrogate me?”
“I'm not here for them.” He lied instantly. “When they told me they had arrested you, I fought hard to be able to come see you before they transport you to Azkaban.”
She doesn't believe you. Luna told him unnecessarily. Draco knew his mother well and if you told her grass is green it would take a while before she'd believe you... she simply didn't trust anyone and any hold he had over what little affection she possessed had fizzled out a few years ago.
“And I'm supposed to take your word on that?” Narcissa sneered, marring her face's frozen beauty. “Why would you suddenly care about me now?”
“I never stopped caring.” He argued... it was partially true. He loved his mother but he'd learned that he didn't like her very much. “You're the one who gave up on me long before I turned on dad. You could have come with me when I left, they would have found a place for you here on this side. You chose to stay.”
“It's not because I stopped caring about you.” She quietly admitted. “It's because there is no place for me on that side.”
“You never even bothered to find out.” He protested. “There was a place for Sirius... and for Andromeda and for me.”
“Yes... you've certainly been busy ensuring your place haven't you.” She spat out bitterly. “I still have many friends, Draco. And they tell me the very interesting things they've been hearing about you.”
“And here I didn't think you found anything about me interesting.” He returned, sitting back in his chair and defensively crossing his arms against anything she may have to say.
“Oh, I think it's very interesting that you allowed your ridiculous cousin and her flea-ridden beast of a husband to sign on as your guardians. Tell me...” She leaned forward, her normally perfectly place blonde hair falling in her face. “Have they taken you to meet your Aunt Andromeda yet?”
Don't! Luna cut him off. He'd been angry and about to rub it in his mother's face that he was being brought to see his aunt that weekend. Now that Luna had given him a moment to think on it, he knew it was definitely better than no one knew where he planned to be... even his mother.
“I met her once.” He said instead. “Her and Ted.” He added just because he knew she hated his muggle uncle.
“Good. Then you've seen the faces of weakness.” Narcissa gave him an icy smile. “Don't lose yourself in their world Draco, it's the surest way of losing in every way possible.”
Bring it back to Kreatcher. Luna instructed, knowing as well as he did that continuing down this path of conversation was only going to make him upset.
“Don't concern yourself with me, I'm not the one looking at a life in prison.” He said in an attempt to bring them back on point.
She sat back and laughed. “Oh my darling son... Life for killing a house elf? I'll get five years at most. And this harboring a 'fugitive house elf' charge I'll plead down to probation. Only bleeding hearts care about those ugly little creatures.”
“But why did you kill him? What did he know?” Draco pushed, putting aside her harshly chilling view of the world... after all, it was a view he once held as well.
“Why should I tell you anything? So you can run and tell your girlfriend's minister father to try and score bonus points with him should you decide to someday marry the little ragamuffin?” Narcissa grinned. “I told you, I hear everything about you... it's a mother's duty to know what is going on in her son's life.”
Ask her about the new safehouse. Luna said, having picked up something in Narcissa's thoughts.
“Was it because of the new safehouse?” He obediently asked and instantly saw her discomfort. So he pushed a little more. “Did Kreatcher know where this safehouse is located? Is dad there?” Seeing the look of horrified confusion on her face he smiled. “I have ways of knowing things about you too.”
“I have no idea what you're talking about. I could care less where your father is.” She said at last.
It's true that she doesn't know where Lucius is... there's something else at the safehouse she doesn't want found. Luna informed him as she continued to press into Narcissa's mind.
“So it's not dad you're hiding... what is it mother? What are you hiding that you're willing to kill for?” He leaned forward, putting his hands on the table and directly meeting her arctic blue eyes.
“You lost your privilege to know my secrets when you turned your back on me, your real family.” She replied in a low dark tone.
Kiara... she's thinking of the name Kiara right now. Luna's brighter voice chimed in.
“Who is Kiara?” He asked, reveling in the look of shock that ever so quickly crossed her face.
“I don't know who you mean. And I'm done here.” She said, trying to stand but only managing to lean over as her wrists were attached to the table.
Kiara Smythe... Leonard Smythe's mother. Luna revealed. They both knew the name Leonard Smythe... it was the name Lucius was born with before being adopted by the Malfoy's. Being linked to her, he could feel that Luna's surprise was almost as great as his.
“Really? You don't know her? You mean you didn't track down Lucius's real mother after learning he was adopted?” He asked casually as if he'd know of this all along. This allowed him to thoroughly enjoy the range of emotion his usually emotionless mother went through. There was disbelief and anger, guilt and defiance and finally furious acceptance.
“I didn't hunt her down.” Narcissa said in a tight voice as she sat back down. “She came to me looking for your father. I had to take on the unpleasant task of letting her know just what her son had become.” She smiled to herself as she recalled the moment. “And I told her everything, the whole truth of the man. I even told her how he tried to kill her grandson... oh it was satisfying seeing how horrified she was that she had bred such a monster.
“So why hide her away?” He asked quietly.
“Because I wasn't the first person she visited to try and find Lucius.” She shook her head. “The foolish muggle woman, she'd gone to that Elise McKinney who is somehow connected to your father in a way that only Kiara knew. Something about helping set a fire to keep his adoption a secret. She was certain Elise was following her and that led me to believe that Lucius was interested in finding his birth mother. I alone wanted that power over him and so I put her somewhere safe and only Kreatcher and I know where she is... well, now only I know.” She smiled cruelly.
It's all true. Luna verified, urging him to push even further.
“Why would Kiara agree to your help?” Draco leaned forward even more as he became drawn into the story... Narcissa knew where his real grandmother was and that was information he'd very much like to know as well.
“Because she had nothing.” She shrugged. “She was very young when she had little Leonard and her husband left her shortly after they gave your father up for adoption. She'd spent some time up in Scotland and upon reading an article in a strange magazine called the Quibbler that had recently began circulating in her town, she decided to come find her lost son. I know little else of her and don't care to know more.”
“Where is she?” He asked.
“I have no reason to tell you.” She answered defiantly. But he'd known she wouldn't tell him, he'd only wanted her to think of the location... and sure enough, Luna was in his head with confirmation.
I've got it... is there anything else you'd like to ask her? She offered while thinking the location to Tonks who was waiting in the hall.
But he'd had enough of Narcissa. Any satisfaction he would get from answers to the questions he had longed to ask her wouldn't be worth the torture of having to ask. She had left him to fend for himself and now he was prepared to do the same to her. “And I have no reason to try and help you. Good luck mother.”
He heard Luna call out to Kingsley. Instantly the door opened and he came in to take Narcissa back to holding. “I'll see you again Draco.” She promised as she was led out.
He hoped that wasn't true... but how could one ever really abandon their mother? “She'll be okay?” He asked Tonks as she came into the room with Lupin.
“As okay as anyone with enough money to buy their way out of justice can be.” She shrugged, not much caring about her aunt's fate. “I gave Arthur the location and all other information Luna thought to me. He's sending an Auror Squad there and I'm going to go be a part of it. Lupin will take you both home and I'll let you know as soon as we know anything... okay?”
Now it was Draco's turn to shrug, not really wanting to do much else but go back to the house and lay down. He felt exhausted. Tonks hurried off and Lupin grabbed hold of him and Luna to apparate home. They arrived in the living room as the thundering of footsteps sounded from the stairwell. Potter or Jacey must have alerted the others to their return and all the teens stumbled in to meet them. “So, what happened?” Fred asked eagerly.
Draco took the time to explain it all, leaving Luna to fill in the blanks she had seen in Narcissa's head. Rather than stay around for the discussion after they were done explaining, he bid them all goodnight and headed toward the stairs but before he could get there, Arthur and Tonks apparated into the parlor looking for him. With a sigh he went back in, curiosity to know about Kiara outweighing his desire to sleep. “So? Did you find her?” He asked as the others gathered around
Tonks shook her head sadly. “When we got to the location it was empty... and burned to a crisp.” She added the last part hesitantly, holding out a picture that had been wrapped in a lace handkerchief. It was of a happy looking older woman and another much older woman , both smiling at each other rather than the camera. “This is all we were able to recover and only because it was outside in the grass.”
Draco took the items and stared at the younger of the two women... surely she must be Kiara Smythe. “So, she died then?” He asked quietly.
“No... Elise and Elanya found her.” Luna answered, her eyes growing far away and unfocused as she was shown something in her own mind.
Draco found it unsettling that he should care about the fate of a woman he never knew existed before that night, but he did care and he wanted Kiara to be safe. “So they brought her to my father.” He guessed.
Luna shook her head as she fully came back to herself. “No, they don't know where he is because he still hasn't sought them out for assistance... I think they want to use Kiara to lure Lucius to them.”
“For what purpose?” Arthur asked. “Lucius doesn't have much to offer their alliance.”
Luna looked at right Draco. “Sure he does... he has his son to offer since of the two, Draco's the one they really want.”
“It's an awfully elaborate plot.” Arthur returned doubtfully.
“You have no idea what those women will go through to try and get what they want.” Fred said quietly. Those who knew of the island and Fred's captivity there knew better than to put anything past Elise, Elanya or Sarah's ability to plot. But Arthur and Molly knew nothing of that and so to cover he quickly added, “I mean, they helped plan a whole train crash just to make it known that they were breaking from Voldemort.”
“There are people out looking for them and Kiara.” Tonks assured them all.
“Will they find her alive?” Draco directly asked Luna.
Everyone else turned to look at her as well... she simply shook her head. “I hope so. I think it depends on how quickly she can be found.”
He stared at the handkerchief in his hand and got an idea. “Maybe I can use this to find her... I can try to scry for her location on a map.”
“Yes!” Potter said excitedly. “Elise finally messed up.” He added, looking around at them all though only Luna and Jacey could see what he was thinking... and Granger who knew him well and was talented at picking things up quickly.
“If Draco is able to locate Kiara... then that will also show us where Elise, Elanya, Sarah and Cho are hiding!” Granger put it together for the others.
Arthur quickly produced a map and spread it out on the billiards table. “You think you can do this?” He asked Draco with an encouraging smile.
“I can try.” He replied, suddenly wishing he hadn't told them... that he'd waited until he went to his room and did this on his own. That way if he failed, no one had gotten their hopes up. He carefully tore a piece of the delicate lace and pulling out a strand of his hair, put it through the tiny holes in the fabric. Then he leaned over the map and held out his makeshift pendulum, hoping with everything he had that he could be successful.
He could feel sweat begin to slide down his face as he concentrated but he ignored it, putting all of his focus into the small bit of lace hovering in the air and the woman it belonged to... and then it began to move ever so slightly, swaying into large circles that slowly grew smaller and smaller as they pinpointed a particular place on the map. He couldn't believe it... this was going to work!
NOTE: Trying to keep the writing flowing... will they be able to trace Kiara to Elise, Elanya, Sarah and Cho? How will it go when Hermione meets up with her parents? Will Harry and Luna be able to learn anything from her grandmother? How will Andromeda react when Draco tells her of Narcissa's imprisonment and Lucius's threats? Will we be seeing Gabby again soon? What perils await when they all finally head off to find coven member Nanami Aoki?All that and so much more in the chapters to come.
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