Dark and Confusing Times
Disclaimer: These characters belong to either the brilliant Joss Whedon, or the wonderful J.K. Rowling. :)
Author's Note: Hello… *ducks the various items the readers would be throwing at her*. Yeah, I know… had over half of this chapter just sitting here written for about eight months, lol. At least I haven’t totally abandoned this story. :)
Vixen-Queen – Hehe, yeah… I’ll try not to forget about Spike, but I almost did until I re-read your review… lol. Yep, I’m sure that this chapter will be fierce… everyone deserves it after waiting so long!
Spacehog26 – Cool thanks! Glad you’re enjoying it… hope you like this one too. :)
anonymous – hehe, that doesn’t really matter, considering updates don’t occur too often… hehe. Really sorry about making you wait, the chaos continues…
Oh, and one good tip if you had almost forgotten about this story is to perhaps re-read over the last few chapters before this one so that you can get back into it.
* * * Chapter 28 – Dark and Confusing Times
Dawn hazily opened her eyes and urgently took in her foreign surroundings. The place was filthy and gloomy, not a single surface could be seen through the dirt and mould and the only light was emanating from a small circular window. Her first reaction was to try and see out this window; however, the window was too high up to be peered out of. This place reminded her of a prison cell or a cage, with bars and all.
She recalled the panic and pain on Harry’s face as the Death Eaters dragged her away; surprisingly the feelings that overtook her at that moment were guilt and sorrow for having to lie to him moments earlier. Now she got the intense feeling that she would never see him again and be able to utter the truth to him.
Dawn exhaled loudly as she recollected the last thing she could remember before she found herself here. She was being dragged through the Forbidden Forest; she had been struggling with all her strength so the Death Eaters were forced to stun her with a strong red light in order to be able to move much faster.
Although her legs tried to tell her otherwise, she fought to stand up on her shaky legs and managed to succeed without toppling back over. She trembled as she made her way over to the bars that were the only thing stopping her from running away, and grabbed them.
“Someone! Please, help!” She screamed; the only answer was her own voice bouncing back off the walls. And she knew that probably the only people who could hear her were the ones of who’d locked her in to begin with.
Following her desperate plea was almost complete silence, apart from the occasional sound of dripping water, which made her to believe there was a leak in the wall somewhere.
“How did I end up like this?” Dawn said to herself quietly as a tear of frustration and fear trailed down her right cheek.
The question was important one; she thought that keeping her true identity as a best-kept secret would keep her safe; however it appeared that was her first mistake. Would had known about her ‘status’ and ultimately sent Death Eaters to abduct her? She knew Harry would never have in a million years and so that meant only one person was responsible: her second big mistake.
“How could I’ve been such a stupid cow?” She mentally scolded herself. “Of course Malfoy would’ve told someone about what happened two days ago, his father’s a Death Eater!”
Dawn flopped down onto the disgraceful floor, suddenly not bothered by the complete lack of hygiene of the place. “Harry was right, we should’ve told Dumbledore! And I was too stupid and stubborn to realise it!”
She then curled herself into a round ball, her knees meeting her chest. It was then that she let the tears flow, the dread of not knowing what Voldemort had in store for her.
* * *
Recently, Draco had constantly felt like he wanted to be left alone and had become a good friend of the silence, not that he was the most sociable person to begin with. Minutes earlier he had been in the Slytherin Common Room brooding to his hearts’ content, only to be pulled out of his reverie by a group of first years. They were innocently talking and laughing but Draco had tried to use the fact that he was several years older to his advantage, yelling at them to ‘shut the bloody hell up’.
At first there was a silence and they looked at him as if they’d been stung by a dangerous creature but this didn’t last very long and they continued their rather loud conversations. The first years were getting more and more daring each year, and the nerve of them to ignore him! So he’d sulked away bitterly and exited out towards the dungeons, little did he know what was awaiting him outside.
WHACK! A strong force had collided with his face, he heard his nose crack loudly on impact and the only thing he saw was red. The force had swiftly bowled him off his and he crashed into the stone floor.
“What the fucking hell?!” He cried out painfully as he brought his hands up to his nose.
He still couldn’t see what or who had attacked him as the blood from his nose had gotten into his eyes. He risked ruining his expensive robes and rubbed the sleeves over his eyes in hope to restore his sight. He looked up to see Harry Potter standing over him with a rage in his eyes that he’d never seen before.
“What the bloody hell do you thing you’re doing, Potter?!” He spat out lividly. “Are you finally showing your true colours?”
Harry fought the urge to throw a hex at him and finish it then and there… but no he was going to make this slow and painful. “And we’ve known your true colours all along, but you went and… confirmed them! You’re an arrogant, conniving, evil Death Eater!” Harry’s voice had lowered to an angry growl.
Draco looked confused, which stirred up Harry’s anger more. “Potter, I don’t know what y-”
Before Draco could finish, Harry had thrown the Bat Bogey hex at him and then charged at him. He couldn’t believe that after what Malfoy had done, he was trying to play ignorant and pretend nothing had happened.
Harry had managed to tackle him to the ground and threw another punch, this time smashing against Draco’s jaw. Draco certainly wasn’t going to just wait for more blows and decided to fight back, aiming so that Harry would have one hell of a black eye for the next week or so. If possible, this fuelled Harry’s anger further.
Just as Harry was going retaliate and drew back his arm, he felt a force drawing him away and back onto his feet. He was then restrained by the leg-locker curse. Meanwhile, Malfoy had got to his feet with a look ready to kill but Charlie Weasley took a step in between the space separating the two enemies. While Harry was wondering why the second oldest Weasley was in the castle he turned his head to then see his sister standing nearby with a horrified look on her face, and several other people had gathered round to witness the spectacle.
There was a strong silence in that moment as they all stood there either absolutely fuming or completely aghast. Charlie broke the silence as he turned to the blonde-haired Slytherin. “You better go to the Hospital Wing, Malfoy.” He said uncomfortably, taking in the extent of Draco’s injuries.
He then looked around. “Ginny!” Charlie greeted his sister briefly, Draco’s head shot in her direction only just noticing her presence also. “Could you take him to Madam Pomfrey?”
There was an intense look in Ginny’s eyes, which she quickly disguised before nodding. Draco followed the youngest Weasley but not before taking one last look at the expression on Harry’s face as he watched them go. And for one rare moment he almost thought he was scared of that expression… almost.
* * * Five minutes earlier…
Tara hadn’t hesitated in taking off down the corridor; it took several moments for Charlie to catch up.
“Tara, would you mind slowing down?” Charlie called out as he followed several paces behind her.
She slowed down to a brisk walking pace, not a moment later he caught up and fell into sync with her movements.
“How do you know where Harry’s gotten off to?” He questioned in between sharp breaths.
Tara responded with a kind of shrug. “Well, I don’t exactly know… I just have a feeling.”
“What feeling is that?”
She gave a small sigh. “That Harry is not only disappointed with himself for letting Dawn be taken, he is also looking for someone to blame. He thinks that Malfoy gave away Dawn’s identity, and he could be right.”
Charlie’s eyebrows rose. “Merlin! If you’re right about all that, remind me to always trust your feelings.”
Tara quickened her pace. “I’m afraid that Harry might be doing something incredibly stupid right now, I think he might try to confront Malfoy… or worse.”
“Well if that’s the case,” He responded, taking note of the time. “The first logical place to look for him would be the Slytherin Common Room, Harry would know that is the best place to find Malfoy.”
“Good idea… let’s go!” Tara responded.
Charlie placed a guiding hand on her left shoulder as they raced through the hallways in aim for the dungeons.
* * * Back to Present
There was an extremely uncomfortable silence as Draco was accompanied to the Hospital Wing, Ginny silently walking next to him. Deciding to ignore the pain of his indubitably broken nose, he gazed at the fiery redhead out of the corner of his eye.
He noted that her body was tense, especially her hands that were curled over almost into fists. There was an irate frown upon her features and she looked as though she was battling to do or say something, probably something that she really wanted to do.
They were almost at the Hospital Wing, when Draco could take it no longer and decided to speak up.
“I can barely stand to walk next to you right now. What has got you so worked up, Weasley?” He asked casually. “I’m the one with the broken nose and many bruises.”
Not a single person would have known what was coming next, as if like an explosion, Ginny shrieked out. “YOU CAN BARELY STAND TO WALK NEXT TO ME? CONCENTRATING ON STEPPING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER IS THE ONLY THING THAT’S KEEPING ME FROM CONTINUING FROM WHERE HARRY LEFT OFF!”
Draco stood there in shock for several moments, not being able to get over the fact that something so loud and almost terrifying could come out of the smallest and youngest Weasley.
“What is your problem, Weasley?” He responded after the initial shock wore off.
No sooner than the last word left his mouth, he felt a sudden and intense stinging on his cheek to add to the existing pain. He looked over to see Ginny standing there with the hand she’d collided with his face still out in front of her. There was a fury there in her eyes that would give Voldemort a run for his money.
“AFTER ALL THIS, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE STILL NOT ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE! I WAS SO STUPID IN BELIEVING THAT I COULD TRUST YOU WITH ANY INFORMATION! AND NOW DAWN COULD BE IN TERRIBLE PAIN… OR DEAD!” The nearby portraits went into hiding at Ginny’s second spell of screaming.
Draco went to open his mouth to respond, only to be met with Ginny’s wand poking into the part of his neck right below his chin, it was quite a reach for the small Gryffindor but that didn’t discredit her abilities by any means.
She took a deep breath to lower her voice back down to normal levels and grinded her teeth as she spoke. “If you say something else, I swear to god that I won’t hesitate to debilitate you.”
Although he couldn’t quite believe it himself, he accepted the threat and they continued on their way. As they came to the end of their journey to the Hospital Wing, he peered over subtly and where he could only she anger and fury before, he now saw something else.
What confused to a great extent was the fact that he felt guilt and sadness himself upon seeing this emotion displayed on her features. But he would of course never admit that to anyone else.
* * *
“Albus, we have a problem.” Dumbledore heard McGonagall say quietly in his ear as he sat up at the teachers’ table for dinner.
“Yes, Minerva,” he responded quietly as he piled mashed potato onto his dinner plate. “We certainly do. A student being taken from our school grounds… and Voldemort now having an unspeakable amount of power in his grasp. I’m sure you can understand that whatever it is will have to wait.”
“I’m afraid this can’t wait.” McGonagall responded urgently, motioning for him to follow her out into the entrance hall.
Charlie, Tara and Harry stood outside the Great Hall doors, talking quietly to each other. Tara was behind Harry, with a gentle and reassuring hand resting on his right shoulder.
“Ah, we have another problem, I see,” said Dumbledore lightly, taking note of the developing black eye on Harry’s face.
“And it could have been a much larger problem if we hadn’t intervened.” Charlie explained.
Harry’s hands were tensed into fists at his sides. “He was only getting what he deserved, Professor! He sold Dawn to them!”
“Harry,” began Tara, however she was unable to finish.
Dumbledore held his hands up to break up the chaos before him. He was unsuccessful, however, as Hermione and Ron appeared on the scene, to make matters more complicated.
“Professors,” Hermione first acknowledged to the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress. “Harry, where on earth have you been? I haven’t seen you since classes, several hours ago, and you haven’t been in the Common Room at all… And where’s Dawn, for that matter?”
“And what happened to your eye, mate?” Ron asked confused. “And your leg…”
That directed Hermione’s attention down to his leg, and since Madam Pomfrey hadn’t the chance to fully mend Harry’s injured leg, it was quite evident through the tattered pant leg. She gasped as she looked down at her friend’s leg.
“Professor? What is going on?” She asked, turning to Dumbledore. Harry, meanwhile, stood looking down at his feet.
Dumbledore looked down at the bushy-haired Gryffindor sorrowfully, still yet to have informed her of her sister. “Miss Granger, I’m afraid this isn’t the right place, nor am I the person to tell to you.”
“Harry,” he continued, Harry looking up at the mention of his name. “I believe now is the time to let your friends in on the matter. Perhaps they could escort you to the Hospital Wing and you could-”
“Ah, I don’t think that is such a good idea.” Tara stepped in suddenly, recalling the fact that she and Charlie had sent Malfoy there, and the last thing they needed was another confrontation.
The old wizard nodded, trusting the much younger witch’s judgment. “Harry, you still need healing, so perhaps the three of you could return to your common room and I shall send Poppy to you,” He paused, allowing Tara to give an agreeing nod.
“And Charlie, you should go with them.” Tara suggested while surveying her brother carefully to see if he was scheming anything. Charlie didn’t hesitate to nod, having witnessed the incident earlier.
Tara placed a brief, comforting hand on Harry’s shoulder. “We all really need to talk later on.” She said finally, her eyes flicking towards Charlie in particular, he noticed this and gave her a small smile.
* * *
Exhaustion was threatening to take over Tara, it had been one hell of an evening at Hogwarts, and before she let the thought of sleep or sitting down for a quiet meal enter her mind, there was one last thing she had to do.
She entered the Hospital Wing followed by Buffy, who she’d asked to accompany her for a second opinion and intimation purposes. Draco was being treated by Madam Pomfrey, complaining loudly as she attempted to fix his nose, which was most likely broken.
“I’m afraid, Mr. Malfoy, that this may hurt a bit.” Pomfrey warned as she prepared to cast a spell to realign the tissue in his nose.
Draco scoffed. “What are you talking about, it already bloody hurts!”
The spell was performed and the nose was as good as new, Draco gave a dramatic cry of pain during this procedure. As an observer, Buffy swore that she saw the slightest look of satisfaction from this on Madam Pomfrey’s face, probably due to the fact that the teenage wizard had spent so much time complaining when in the healer’s presence.
Both looked over to see Buffy and Tara make their way over to the hospital beds, at this Madam Pomfrey quickly performed a cleaning spell to remove all the semi-dried blood and scuttled off to her office, knowing that the two Professors meant business.
“I will be back soon to treat those bruises.” She informed them before entering her office.
Draco, in the meantime, looked displeased to see the pair standing before him.
“How’s the nose?” Buffy asked, trying to make conversation.
“Alright now, no thanks to Potter,” He simply answered, voice dripping with sarcasm and hatred. “Where is he, anyway?”
“We thought it was best that you both not be treated for your injuries in the same area of the castle… Do you have any idea why Harry attacked you?” Tara asked.
“Because he’s a raving bloody lunatic, that’s why.” Draco spat out.
“We have reason to believe that you do, Mr. Malfoy,” Buffy responded back, her arms crossed above her chest. “Dawn Granger has been taken out of the school grounds by Death Eaters.”
He gave the two women a look as if to say ‘So what?’.
“Harry told me you were the only one who knew what Dawn was, besides just the two of them, Dawn wouldn’t give herself up and Harry certainly wouldn’t have either.” Tara stated.
“Yes, I knew… but maybe someone else… knew too.” He replied, which sounded very unconvincing to Buffy.
Buffy frowned and turned to Tara. “Didn’t you just say before that the other night you found him wandering around outside suspiciously?”
Tara nodded and continued to address Draco. “Yes, before I caught you and took house points off… even though you said otherwise, I did see you near the forest talking to someone.”
“If that doesn’t sound suspicious, call me a vampire and put a stake through my heart.” Buffy chimed in immediately.
Draco pushed himself off the hospital bed and angrily stood up. “What is this, Professors? It’s beginning to feel like an interrogation… I don’t know what you’re talking about, now can I please be dismissed?”
Buffy sighed and shook her head slowly, and with that he was out of the Hospital Wing like a rocket. She looked over at Tara, who was in deep thought with a confused look on her face.
“So, what do you think? I don’t believe a word of it.” Buffy said, breaking Tara out of her train of thought.
“Somehow, neither do I… there’s more going on to this than we both know.” Tara answered as she headed over to Madam Pomfrey’s office to tell her where to find and treat Harry.
* * *
“I-I don’t understand!” Hermione exclaimed as she sat in the Common Room with Ron, Harry and Charlie.
This was a rare thing to hear from the brilliant young witch, however, she was having a difficult time processing everything she’d just been told. Harry had explained about the book he and Dawn had found and everything they had both been through, while Charlie explained the background on the Key.
“So you basically mean Harry… that Dawn isn’t real?” Ron asked as he tried to figure everything.
“No!” Harry was quick answer. “Of course she’s real! It’s just all these memories we have of her before this school year have been created.”
“What… what are they going to do to her?” Hermione asked apprehensively to either Charlie or Harry, her hands covering her face in pain.
Watching Hermione deal with everything about her sister was enough to make Harry think that he’d been selfish and thoughtless. Only an hour ago he’d thought that he was angst-ridden over Dawn’s uncertain fate, but one look at Hermione’s reaction made him lower his head sadly to look at a particularly uninteresting spot on the carpet.
Charlie also grimaced at this question. “Well… unfortunately the only thing we knew in the Order is that with the Key in his possession, you-know-who would have an ultimate amount of power... What he uses it for, we don’t know… and what that will do to Dawn is also unknown. I’m sorry; the Order is going to do all it can.”
At those words, Hermione felt like she was suffocating for fresh air and raced out of the portrait hole, while the three wizards sadly watched her go. Harry was about to follow after her when Madam Pomfrey made a highly rare appearance into the Common Room.
“Ah, there you are, Mr. Potter!” She cried out with relief when her eyes fell upon him. “I will have no more running off now until you’re fully treated, which seems to be what all my students are doing this evening! You may perhaps have to stay overnight, I can’t guess what damage you’ve done to your leg… running around on it when it’s only half-healed.” She shook her head disapprovingly at this comment.
“Isn’t Malfoy in the Hospital Wing? That’s why we brought Harry up here to be treated.” Charlie pointed out.
She shook her head. “No, that’s what I was just saying; Mr. Malfoy had gone back to his Common Room before I’d even finished on his bruises… Well, off we go, Potter.”
Harry regretfully followed the school healer, telling Ron that he’d see him later on.
When it was just the two Weasley’s left, Charlie turned to Ron with an expectant look. “Well, little brother… what about Hermione?”
“What about Hermione?” Ron enquired, clearly not on the same page as his brother.
Charlie rolled his eyes. “She’s obviously upset right now and is going to need someone to talk to, go find her.”
“I don’t know where she’ll be.”
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out…” Charlie answered, taking note of the time on his watch. “I have to be back at headquarters now. Goodnight, Ron.”
* * *
Ginny’s outburst of anger earlier still hadn’t fully receded as she went up to the Astronomy Tower, where she always liked to go when she wanted to mull things over. She was mentally kicking herself as she gazed up at the distant stars.
“How could I ever think that for a minute Malfoy wouldn’t tell anyone?” She thought to herself.
“More importantly… when they said he’d been disowned by his parents, that was probably a whole big set-up to get inside Grimmauld Place and find out all they could about the Key.” Ginny brought her knees up to her chest and rested her head on them.
“Malfoy’s are all a bunch of scheming bastards!” She voiced out loud, allowing her voice to bounce off from wall to wall.
Ginny brushed away the tears of frustration that had begun to trickle down her face. The part that confused her most is that she was not only disappointed in herself for allowing all of the mess to occur, but she also felt some disappointment towards Draco and she wasn’t even sure why.
Had that explosion of anger when she’d found out about Dawn come from the fact that she’d grown to trust Draco, so much that she expected that he wouldn’t say anything? That thought scared the hell out of her.
She didn’t know what she was going to say to anyone else, especially Dumbledore – what was she going to tell Dumbledore about all of this? A voice in the back of her mind convinced her that maybe, for the meanwhile, she shouldn’t say anything.
* * * A.N –
There you have, see you with a new chapter in another eight months, lol. Only kidding, but still unless I suddenly get a dozen or so motivating reviews there still won’t be another update right away. HINT: Please review!! – Akalea :)