When Things Go From Bad to Worse
None of these characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter belong to me; I’m just using them to hopefully write an entertaining story.Author's Note:
Here’s the next instalment. Basically, this is the last fully completed chapter I have – I’ve written half of the next and a lot more is in my head and needs to be written. In other words, it’s going to be a lot slower in terms of posting from here.
*****Chapter Eight – When Things Go From Bad to Worse
Over the next couple of weeks, the castle had been transformed into a Christmas Wonderland - it had approached the final day of classes before the students went home for Christmas, for those of whom it was safe to do so. Dawn had spent the time avoiding physical human contact as much as possible, while Ginny had been able to successfully cast the concealment spell on her, she was completely convinced that at any time someone was going to brush an arm against or embrace her and feel her slightly rounded stomach. On various occasions, Buffy and the Gang had tried to talk or spend time with her. However, due to her extreme paranoia, she usually tried to enlighten them for a moment to avoid suspicion, but would then find an excuse to venture off to a quieter part of the castle. She just hoped that she could keep this up without anyone noticing any changes in her behaviour, although she wasn't sure how long she would have to, Lupin was still showing no sign of success in his adventures across the countryside.
Much to Dawn's distress, the avoidance tactics became near impossible when both Lupin and Giles called the group together in the Staff Room, after lunch, for a little progress meeting. She'd apprehensively arrived before anyone else and took a seat and absorbed herself in a book so that she didn't have to make a big fuss in greeting everyone as they all arrived. Buffy didn't hesitate in taking a seat next to her younger sister, on a bench that was thankfully only wide enough for the two of them.
"Hey Dawnie," she greeted; Dawn could hear a hesitation in her voice. "You haven't been hanging out with us much lately, everything okay?"
Dawn placed her book down on the table behind her and turned to look at her sister. "It’s totally fine... Been caught up learning heaps about the Wizarding stuff from all the Gryffindors - made some good friends there already."
Buffy looked slightly awkward, like she making herself do something that she really didn’t want to do. “Listen, I’ve noticed something strange over the last week or so...”
Dawn's heart began to speed up. She’d been so careful, so she wondered how the hell Buffy could know.
"Uh, you've been spending a lot of time with Mr. Lupin... you’re not…uh, there's nothing inappropriate going on there, right?"
It Dawn took a moment to process what Buffy was getting at. When she finally did, her sudden, and loud, laughter caused the nearby Xander and Willow to jump a mile, and she also earned looks from both Faith and Giles. "You've gotta be kidding, Buffy! That is totally the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard…. Talk about jumping to conclusions - he's old enough to be my father, and he's married!" She tried not to speak too loudly; she didn’t exactly want the whole Staff Room to hear her.
Buffy blushed with mortification when she realised that she had it completely wrong, but she obviously also looked clearly relieved at the same time. "Hey, well you have been! As your sister, I had to ask!"
Dawn continued to laugh, almost unable to stop herself. That was definitely up there with one of the weirdest questions she’d ever been asked. "Talk about a vivid imagination! He's just been telling me all about the prophecy and wizarding stuff and I've been telling him a bit about our adventures back home, is all."
“What’s so hilarious, Buff?” Xander had to ask, interrupting his conversation with Willow.
Dawn watched as Buffy shrank back into her seat in embarrassment and then shook her head. "You don't wanna know."
Then when Buffy wasn't looking, Dawn looked over to see Xander making eye contact with her, he mouthed at her "Tell me later", to which she sniggered and gave a swift nod. The laughter had done her some good; she noticed that she felt a lot better after her amusement had finally eased. This made her think back to the happier times back in Sunnydale before she got herself into all this mess with a pang of sadness.
Moments later, a stressed-looking Lupin appeared through the Staff Room’s doors, to which Giles quickly jumped out of his seat, in order to have a quiet discussion with him before they addressed everyone else.
"What's going on, Giles?" Buffy quizzed, the two middle-aged men instantaneously stopped their hushed conversation and turned to face the group.
Giles looked over at the man beside him. “Remus...,” he said to indicate that he should do the explaining.
Lupin cleared his throat. "Well, I've just got some slightly bad news from Arthur Weasley, who is a fellow member of the Order. Although up until now the only people to know about the prophecy are standing in this room, it appears this is no longer the case."
"What?" Dawn exclaimed in alarm, she vaguely heard the rest of the group doing the same, although she was so focused on her panicked thoughts to pay much attention to them. "So now everyone knows about it?!"
He shook his head; however this didn’t seem to ease her trepidation. "No, but there are a select group of people at the Ministry of Magic, who somehow got wind of the prophecy, which is how it got back to Arthur, who also works at the Ministry."
"Does that mean that this Voldemort dude knows about it now?" Faith spoke up for the first time.
"Unfortunately, he will." Dawn covered her face in horror at this – she was officially screwed! "We know that he has people at the Ministry, so I would say is only a matter of time."
Buffy comfortingly patted her sister on the back from beside her, obviously not knowing the full amount of significance this had to Dawn. "But what about Dawn?” she inquired. “Lupin, you said that you Wizarding-folk don't know about 'The Key' and whatnot, so it’s not like they're gonna know who the prophecy is about anyway... Unless someone in this room let's it slip."
Whilst the others were deep in thought, Dawn looked up and managed to catch Lupin’s eye. They both shared a meaningful look, knowing all too well that because Dawn was already pregnant, things weren't going to be that easy. As soon as people found out she was pregnant, and were able to put two and two together, she could be in a lot more danger than she already was.
She heard Giles speak up. "That's a good point, Buffy. Dawn will be safe as long as no one else knows that Dawn is 'The Key'."
For the time being, she knew that both her and Lupin could only humour everyone and nod in agreement, knowing they would have to slip aside later to talk about it all privately.
"What about Arthur Weasley, Remus?" Giles suddenly inquired. "Does he know that you already knew about the prophecy and kept it from the Order? Won’t that cause some problems?"
Lupin quickly nodded, however looked like that was the least of his problems at that particular point in time. "I did make it known that I was already aware of the prophecy, however I didn't make it clear just how long I had known to hopefully dismiss any idea that I've discovered the identity of ‘The Key’. Meanwhile, the Order has called an immediate meeting this evening, and although I am reluctant to continue lying to them, there is obviously far more at stake if I don't."
Dawn felt a wave of guilt upon hearing this, she certainly didn’t want Lupin lying to his friends and colleagues because of her, but then she also didn’t want the world to find out about her yet. Where is Harry? Why can’t Remus find him?
She panicked, she felt like her secret had an expiry date, one that was fast approaching.
Breaking from herself from her thoughts, Dawn realised that they’d continued on with the discussion and now talking about the slayer search. She just sat there silently waiting for the meeting to adjourn, so that she could pull Lupin aside. Just before things were looking like wrapping up, Dawn became aware of a faint, but definitely present, fluttering down in her stomach. She gasped in surprise, her head snapping down to stare at her abdomen.
The sudden silence in the room caused her to look up again, and then she noticed that she had all sets of eyes on her.
“Uh,” she began timidly. “... I just realised that we haven’t been able to get each other Christmas presents this year.”
"Don't worry, Dawnie, I don't think any of us were expecting any this year," Willow replied with a laugh, everyone quickly dismissed the interruption and then the meeting continued for another few minutes, which seemed to drag on, before finally finishing for the day.
Buffy, Willow, Xander and Faith all wished Lupin a 'Merry Christmas' as they left the Staff Room. Dawn had to follow them out into the Entrance Hall and down the corridor at first to avoid suspicion; she then cunningly made an excuse to go her own way, before she could creep back towards the Staff Room. She was about to round the corner back into the Entrance Hall, when Lupin appeared from the other direction, catching her by surprise. However, he didn’t look as surprised to see her, and without saying anything he immediately led her back towards the Staff Room.
"Unfortunately, I have to be off in a matter of minutes and won't be back until after Christmas, so we’d better make this quick," he spoke very quietly, as they passed between the two gargoyles guarding the door to the Staff Room.
Dawn nodded. “I thought that freakin’ meeting would never end,” she complained as she followed him back into the dark-panelled and now-deserted room. "Okay, first up – these Ministry and Order guys knowing, is everything gonna be okay?"
"As I said before, it's not the most ideal news," Lupin admitted. "But I'll do my best to handle the situation delicately, yours and the baby's safety coming first, of course. The Order members may eventually have to be told, we'll have to see how it all plays out."
Dawn had been listening intently, but halfway through she was distracted when the same sensation from earlier returned. "There it is again!" she exclaimed, touching her abdomen.
Lupin looked at her curiously, before a look of understanding passed over his face. “Does it almost feel like butterflies in your stomach?”
She nodded quickly, still entranced by the foreign feeling, which was slowly dying away. “Just before was the first time I felt anything, it’s the baby moving, isn’t it?”
"From my experience with my wife, yes," Lupin answered, Dawn looked back up to see him looking slightly confused. "Although, one thing I was curious about was the fact that you're not showing yet."
"Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you!" Dawn began, she was kicking herself for not telling the werewolf sooner, but they’d seen each other less and less over the past week or two and she’d always been more concerned with how his search for Harry was going. "Yeah, one of the Gryffindors found out about me when I was puking in the bathroom one day... it's all cool though, obviously she doesn't know about the prophecy, oh and she helped me with a concealing spell. So, you betcha
Lupin looked extremely concerned at this and a deep frown formed on his features. "Dawn, you should have told me someone else knew... who was the Gryffindor?"
"Ginny Weasley." Dawn watched his concern grow into apprehension. "What's the problem?"
"Dawn, you are aware of Ginny Weasley's previous relationship?" he asked carefully, the tone in his voice making Dawn more and more anxious by the minute.
Dawn shook her head, now wishing she’d talked to Ginny about it all. "Uh, no. She seemed pretty cut up about it and didn't really wanna talk about it much."
Lupin cut straight to the point. "She was last dating Harry, Dawn."
Oh shit... was all she could process before the noisy, echoing sound of some object falling over in the corner of the Staff Room reached her ears.
Both her and Lupin’s heads whipped around, searching in the direction of the unexpected noise. Dawn got the shock of her life when she saw Giles appear out from behind a bookcase - and he didn't look at all happy. Unbeknownst to the pair, Giles had left the Staff Room a minute before Lupin had only to return just moments later to retrieve a book he'd forgotten, when he heard the two re-enter the room. He was obviously more than surprised at the conversation he'd eavesdropped on judging from the stunned expression.
"Giles!" Dawn exclaimed in surprise, her voice wavering. She wasn’t prepared for something like this, what was she going to say?
"Rupert," Lupin began, his voice as calm as ever, which Dawn envied. "I trust you heard everything then."
As this was more of a statement than a question, Giles' attention was turned straight towards Dawn, as he took half a dozen hurried footsteps towards the pair. Dawn felt her heart speed up and her mouth was so dry from the horror that she suddenly couldn’t say anything to explain herself.
"Dawn! Y-you've been lying to us? And for months!?" he started angrily; all Dawn could do was hang her head down in remorse, as her eyes instantly began to well with tears. "How on earth did this happen - and when?!"
If she wasn't so overwhelmed and upset, she could imagine at that particular moment she would make some sort of joke to Giles' last question about knowing where babies came from, however all she managed was a jumbled and shaky, "I-I... I, uh..."
Giles' continued his furious rant. "Why didn't you think you could tell us, Dawn?" He then turned his attention towards the werewolf standing there quietly. "And what about you, Remus? How long have you know and kept this from both myself and Buffy?"
At mention of her sister, Dawn felt a whole new level of panic hit her, if that was at all possible. Giles was usually a man who played his cards close to his chest, but to see him so upset and react like this made her dread what would happen when Buffy found out about her pregnancy, and all the lies. And then randomly, her mind started to drift back towards what Lupin had revealed to her before Giles had suddenly appeared. She began to feel light-headed, and she noticed that she was having trouble focusing on the two men in front of her; their words began to sound like some far-away gabble. And then as the room started to spin, the last thing she heard was the faint sound of her name being called before it all turned to black...
The next thing Dawn knew, her eyes were fluttering open and she found herself greeted by the sight of the Hospital Wing, which she’d already been to for a check-up with Madam Pomfrey. She was lying in one of the beds, screened off with a large white screen from the view of the entrance to the wing. She pushed herself up, immediately noticing the absence of the concealment spell on her body. Having had the spell on her for weeks now, she was shocked to see that her belly had grown, even in just those few weeks, and it had gotten to the point that it was quite noticeable that she was pregnant.
Wondering why the spell had been removed, and also trying to piece together what she last remembered before it all went back, she swung her heavy, tired legs around to hang over the side of the bed.
"Uh, hello?" she called out, trying to get the attention of Madam Pomfrey; however an unexpected voice called back.
"Dawn, is that you?" Ginny called out, moments later her head peeped around the white screen. "Merlin, what are you doing in here? Is everything alright?"
Ginny stood there concerned, holding an armful of full potion vials, while Dawn rubbed a hand over her face. "Not sure... I think I fainted. Everything's a little hazy - just woke up here and saw someone has removed your spell."
“Probably Madam Pomfrey,” Ginny replied, as a vial almost slipped out of her grasp. “Sorry, Slughorn was making me deliver these potions for him because I accidentally broke one of the shelves in his storeroom... I’ll just go and pop them down.”
She disappeared around the screen again, returning only moments later. Meanwhile, Dawn was thinking back to what she could recall before waking here a few minutes ago. I've never seen Giles that angry before...
she thought to herself. She felt the panic begin to rise again, maybe Buffy knew by now too. Then again, if Buffy knew she’d have already been breaking down the Hospital Wing doors, she quickly told herself.
“Well, I hope everything’s okay with you and the baby,” Ginny spoke, breaking Dawn from her thoughts.
Dawn nodded. "I think I just got a bit overwhelmed – Giles found out. He's normally so calm and he just lost it. And..." She paused, looking over to the redhead she already considered a friend, and as she made eye contact with Ginny, Lupin's words came back to her “She was last dating Harry, Dawn”... It can’t be true,
an alarmed voice thought, Giles interrupted, maybe I was hearing things.
“What’s the matter?” Ginny questioned, worried by the sudden silence.
The brunette shook her head; she certainly wasn’t going to say anything directly to Ginny if she wasn’t sure for certain. "Nothing, doesn't matter... But hey, I just remembered something I heard the other day," she lied, thinking that she might be able to find out indirectly. "I thought I heard Parvati say you were dating Harry Potter, is that the guy you were talking about that day we met?"
Dawn noticed Ginny's lips tightened slightly as she nodded. "He's best friends with my older brother, Ron, so I've grown up with him around. As I said before – I've... I've basically loved him since I was eleven."
Dawn felt as though she’d been shot straight in the chest, although she focused all her strength on pretending to be unaffected by these words. The Powers That Be really have it out for me! I really felt like I connected better with Ginny than any other friend I’ve ever had... and now I find out that I’m pregnant to her ex, who she’s still in love with!
“I, uh...” she found herself lost for words for the second time that day, just wanting so badly to be able to freeze this moment and run as far away as she could.
Madam Pomfrey chose that perfect moment to appear, Dawn was grateful that at least something was going her way, carrying a potion in her hand.
Pomfrey looked at the redhead. “Thank you for delivering those potions, Miss Weasley, but weren’t there more waiting in the Dungeons for you?”
Ginny nodded hesitantly, smiling and farewelling Dawn before leaving the Hospital Wing. Once she had left, Madam Pomfrey turned her attention towards Dawn, preparing the potion for her to ingest.
“Now you, Missy,” she began, handing Dawn a beaker of the potion, which tasted quite unpleasant, so Dawn immediately downed it to get it over with. “In your condition, you have to take it easy – Mr. Lupin and Mr. Giles brought you in here unconscious. I was quick to discover that you had fainted and this was from high stress levels, so you must try to take it easy.”Easy for you to say... my life has become a freakin’ soap opera.
Dawn thought. “But everything’s okay with the baby?”
Pomfrey nodded. “The potion will help you to relax, and as long as you make sure you don’t put yourself or the baby under high levels of stress. It would be best if you stay here for the rest of the afternoon, and then I will let you go for dinner.”
Dawn looked down at her stomach. “What about the spell? I’m guessing you removed it? I haven’t exactly told many people about this, and if you wanted me to make sure I have low stress levels...”
“Yes, I will see to it that the spell is re-cast before you leave, if that is what you wish,” Pomfrey paused momentarily. “However, I must recommend for the good of both of you that you shouldn’t avoid what has to be done for too much longer. The later you leave telling your family and friends, the more likely that it could have a significant impact on your health, especially once you reach the third trimester.”
Dawn sighed. “You’re right.”
“Good, everything will be alright, dear,” Madam Pomfrey briefly put a sympathetic hand on Dawn’s arm and then collected up the empty vial and beaker before walking back around the bed. “You should be feeling quite tired now, take the next few hours to rest up and I’ll come back to let you know when it’s dinnertime and you can make sure you get a good meal in you.”
Once the healer had disappeared into her office, on the far side of the Hospital Wing, Dawn swung herself back into bed and curled herself up into a ball, her hand resting on her slightly rounded stomach. The tears began to cascade down her cheeks, creating a large wet patch on her pillow, as she contemplated just how difficult her life had become. Minutes later, she heard footsteps approach, her heart momentarily in her throat as she wondered who it could be, the footsteps not matching those of Madam Pomfrey’s. If anyone who didn’t know about her pregnancy were to walk in, they would be in for a shock and she didn’t think she had the energy to deal with them right now.
She let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding when Giles appeared at her bedside. Although, judging from his reaction earlier, she knew she definitely wasn’t out of the woods yet.
“Dawn,” was all he said, as he took in the sight in front of him, any anger he still held washing from him.
The tears continued for Dawn as she sat up, she tried her best to wipe them away but they persisted. Giles immediately walked over and drew the girl into a hug; she continued to sob into his shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled into his tweed jacket.
She took some time to compose herself before Giles pulled away from the embrace and pulled a chair over to sit beside the bed.
“I’m sorry too, Dawn,” Giles apologised with discomfort, studying Dawn’s abdomen. “Of course I was extremely disappointed to discover you had been keeping this from us, however I shouldn’t have shouted like I did.”
Dawn pulled the covers back up over her stomach, still not used to feeling so exposed. “I shouldn’t be lying to all you guys, especially Buffy... but I’m just so scared and I- I just couldn’t bear to tell you all and see you react, well, just like you did.”
Giles nodded in understanding. “But you cannot continue to keep this from Buffy... I don’t believe I could carry on with the lie.”
“No, Giles, please,” Dawn pleaded, sitting forward. “Remus is still trying to find Harry... I need to tell him first. Can you imagine what would happen to him if Buffy found out before him and he wasn’t prepared for it all? He deserves to know first.”
“Speaking of Harry,” Giles began somewhat awkwardly, to which Dawn blushed in anticipation. “Remus said that this all happened before we knew of the prophecy – he was extremely concerned about you but was unable to wait for you to wake, by the way. Anyway, when could this have all possibly happened?”
Dawn certainly wasn’t getting any more comfortable talking about this, but could imagine she would feel more at home having this conversation with Buffy, if she didn’t jump straight into lecturing her or freak out on her first. “In London, Buffy and Willow were catching up with you that first night... Giles, you know me almost better than anyone else; I don’t do that sort of thing, that’s more a Buffy thing. But I- I can’t even begin to explain what happened.”
“What are you saying?” Giles questioned. “That there was another force at work?”
Dawn shrugged. “Well, yes and no. I did really like Harry... but something took over – maybe it was to do with the prophecy, I don’t know.”
They then both heard the sounds of Madam Pomfrey moving around the room, obscured from view by the large white screen. Considering she had told her to get some rest, Dawn knew their conversation would have to be cut short or the healer would certainly be coming over to scold her.
“We should finish this later,” Giles spoke first, apparently thinking along the same lines.
“I know you don’t like lying to Buffy, but it’s almost Christmas,” Dawn began pleading quietly, as to not draw the attention of Madam Pomfrey. “Please, just wait a few days until it’s over and then I promise I won’t make you have to keep this secret any longer – I’ll bite the bullet and talk to Buffy, I promise.”
Giles nodded, accepting this compromise without too much fuss and then bid her farewell before quickly leaving the Hospital Wing. Dawn lay back down on the bed, snuggling up in the covers, feeling quite exhausted from all the emotion involved in the last couple of hours. Before she drifted off to sleep, another problem returned to her thoughts – what was she going to say to Ginny?
Christmas quickly came and went with most of Hogwarts in the holiday spirit, although Dawn had to play along with everybody, her heart truly wasn’t in it this year. For one, she was dreading the conversation with her sister where she finally came clean about the baby; secondly, she was still completely undecided on what to say to her newly-found friend, Ginny.
What do you say to a fellow woman when you discover that you’re pregnant to the person they love? Hey Ginny, guess what? It turns out the person we were talking about the day we met was the exact same guy, fancy that! Dawn scoffed to herself.
In true style of recent times, Dawn decided that she couldn’t face that situation right now and decided to sweep it under the rug by avoiding or shutting the redhead out. Ginny had remained at Hogwarts for Christmas, as had many others - whose parents had decided that, due to the growing number of Death Eater attacks in both the Wizarding and Muggle communities, that staying at the school was the safest option. Dawn could tell, even though she’d been avoiding her, that Ginny was particularly upset by this, clearly feeling left out by her family, but as they were all heavily busy with the Order she was forced to remain in the castle.
Dawn’s luck of evading Ginny ran out one early evening, three days after Christmas, just as she was about to find Buffy to have the dreaded conversation. Instead, she found herself facing another highly dreaded conversation, as she ran into Ginny in the Gryffindor Common Room, with no time to make a hasty exit before the younger girl spotted her.
“Dawn!” Ginny called across the buzzing room, other Gryffindors talking excitedly to each other about something, but too quiet for her to hear. “Are you heading down to dinner already?”
Dawn reluctantly nodded, noticing that the baby was beginning to move again, as Ginny followed her out of the portrait hole. There was an awkward silence at first, as they began down the corridor.
“So, Dawn,” Ginny began cautiously. “I can’t help but notice that you seem to be trying really hard to ignore me the last few days... Tell me if I am just being ridiculous.”
“Uh,” Dawn replied slowly, racking her brain for an excuse. “You seemed really peeved over Christmas because your family left you here... just thought I’d give you some space.”
“You didn’t have to do that! If anything, having you here at Hogwarts has made that being abandoned more bearable... I’m really glad we became friends, Dawn.” Ginny answered as they turned a corner and started down a staircase.
That was the worst thing Dawn could have heard at that point, the guilt of her most recent lie made breathing harder. The baby had continued to move here and there as they moved along, but then suddenly a foreign feeling that she couldn’t explain struck her, bringing her to a halt. Her hands flew down to her stomach for a moment; she could somewhat hear Ginny’s concerned voice in the background, although she wasn’t listening to what she was saying. She was completely entranced in this new feeling, not understanding it but there was something comforting there and she knew that she had to go along with it.
She then had the urge to continuing walking, so without any faltering her legs began to move again, although now it was almost as if she was just letting them do the work, without much control on her part. Having said that, she knew she could stop at any time and bring an end to it, but there was an unexpected assurance in her head that made her continue on.
Meanwhile, she could vaguely register a second set of footsteps as Ginny followed along, still concerned and confused, but she was still so focused on the moment that she was unable to respond or explain herself. They made their way weaving down staircases, when they finally reached the last set of stairs leading down into the Entrance Hall.
As Dawn descended the final half a dozen steps, she noticed a reasonably large amount of people lingering, all talking animatedly to each other. Almost as if the people were parting for her, her eyesight was suddenly drawn towards a group of people in the centre of it all, including Remus, a bushy, brown-haired girl about her age, and a red-headed boy who looked a lot like Ginny. But the most important person to catch her eye was the jet-black messy hair and familiar emerald-green eyes of Harry Potter.