Return to Cinder
*~* Return to Cinder *~*
The small dorms Draco, Lily, and Dawn had been placed in for their own safety were ideal. Raven Hope had been the first to arrive. She and Draco had exchanged a few whispers before the others showed. Cassie was waiting in a place where she could not be seen. The Gryffindors had just arrived. They all seemed to be chatting to Harry about something though.
"What's up?" Dawn asked.
Harry held up the stone wand. "New wand."
"I thought so."
"It's made from a rock." Connor said sounding unimpressed.
"Stone." Hermione corrected.
"Stone. Rock. Whatever."
"So what are we all doing here?" Ron asked.
"I asked them to ask you." Cassie said softly as she floated in from the shadows.
Neville went pale. "Cassie."
"You're still about."
"Yeah. Unfinished business. I think the higher powers have a plan for me."
"Ah." Then he toppled over.
"Neville!" Several people shouted at once.
"See. " Draco said. "Passing out when you see someone you knew as a living person as a ghost is a normal response."
Lily smirked at him. "You have something in common with Neville now."
Draco realized she was right. "Oh bugger."
"How far do you suppose it's gone?"
Willow stopped brushing her hair and turned to look at Severus. "How far to I suppose what's gone?"
"This... thing... between Lily and that Angel boy."
"This is not humorous."
"His name's not that Angel boy either. It's Connor, and unless you want to alienate your little girl, I suggest you practice referring to her boyfriend as Connor."
"That is not the point of this discussion!"
"This is gonna be a discussion?"
"Woman, why must you-"
"Sev, she's a big girl-"
"She's still a child!" He even stomped his foot here.
Willow would have pointed out his temper tantrum-y behavior for what it was, but she was getting the feeling of a bigger picture than just him being worried about his little girl. "Technically, yes, Lily is still considered a child, but she has lived a life before coming here that we have no conception of. She's probably done things I don't even want to think about. I hate to break this to you, lover, but she's probably got more sexual experience than you and I combined."
"Don't SAY that!" He started to pace vigorously.
"Well, you saw her leather outfit. Heck, I've worn said outfit before. It's binding. She was a crazy bloodsucking fiend... who I still suspect was kinda gay."
"I know she's your first baby, Severus, but she's really not a little girl."
"But I want her to be." His voice was so quiet that she almost didn't hear.
"I missed that part."
"Oh Severus." She moved up behind him and wrapped her arms around his middle. "Are you saying you would want that? A baby baby? A little thing?"
"I would not... mind." He struggled to get that out. "A child that was a beautiful as you and as clever as myself would be a gift to this world."
"Let's not forget to give the baby your modesty too."
"I am jealous of Black. He appreciates none of what he has. Potter, Tara, his child on the way, his freedom. People fight so hard for him, and he runs away. I have to chain people to the wall to get them to stay."
"There are chains? I never saw any chains."
"Do try and be serious for two moments together."
"I envy what I can not have." He sighed. "I never appreciate what I do have. It has always been so. I used to envy Black's easy way with others. He made friends so effortlessly. I could never get anyone to speak to me."
"Well, that's because you never found anyone who appreciated your crankiness until I came along."
"Do not joke again, or I will cease speaking to you. I am attempting to do that 'sharing of feelings' nonsense you think is so important."
"And I like that about you." She moved around to stand before him. "Be jealous. That's human, but don't give me that you don't appreciate what you have crap. I don't feel unappreciated, and I know Lily doesn't. I saw you carrying her that day. I saw the way she was with you, how she held on to you so tight. I'm also pretty sure Tara's darn grateful to count you as a friend. You didn't have to hold any of us to you with chains."
"Don't attempt to placate me. You see, this is why I don't like feelings, and having to share them is even worse."
"I'm not. I mean, with the placating. I adore that you share with me because I know you don't like to. I like you like you are, you know, and I'm just saying Sirius doesn't have it all so great. At least you're awake and here. With me. And I'm not pissed off at you like Tara is with Sirius."
"She didn't seem-"
"Dated her. Slept in her bed. Did naughty things to her. At one time, she was my whole world. Trust me. I know. She's pretty darn upset with him. Especially since he went and got himself all hurt and stuff. I'm just glad you're not as stupid as he is."
Severus grinned slightly, despite himself. He wished he could record that and play it back to Black over and over. The mutt didn't deserve Tara. He never had, yet the young woman needed him, wanted him, desperately.
It wasn't fair, but it was a rare thing in this world that was.
"So... if Tara isn't your world any longer, who is?"
She pinched his arm.
"I didn't think I had to spell that part out to you."
"Well, like you, I sometimes like to hear these things aloud."
"It's you, of course. You're my world... you big dummy."
"Ah, the sweet nothings you sway me with, you overgrown brat."
"I thought you said no joking."
"I'm a hypocrite." He smiled smugly at her. "And my joking is more appropriate than yours."
Everyone was hunched over Neville.
Dawn slapped his cheek lightly. "Come on. Come on back now."
Suddenly the air shifted. Dawn felt the prickle of it on the back of her neck right as Connor jumped up and took out his wand. He didn't realize it, but it was the first time he had decided to 'defend' magically and not with his fists. Harry had both his out and was scowling fiercely.
Then bodies started falling from nowhere.
Hermione screamed and had her wand out before anyone could move. The rest were quick to follow though. Lily even snarled. Ron pulled Hermione back protectively with one arm while the other was pointing his wand at whatever happened next. Draco tackled Ginny to the floor.
"Look out!" Cassie shouted.
Connor did an impressive roll and jump while snagging Neville off of the floor that got the unconscious boy out of the way of a falling form. Connor handed Neville off to Ron and Hermione. The two staggered under the added weight of Neville. The 'shower' happened to be a lot of the missing students from the class attack.
Hermione gasped when she recognized the tattered remains of a Slytherin tie. "It's the missing students."
Dawn had a look of horror on her face. "Oh my God. Did I do that?"
"I think maybe you did." Draco said as Ginny shoved him off of her.
"We should get-"
Just then Professor Dumbledore entered with Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall.
"Professor Dumbledore." Hermione finished lamely.
"Ah, Miss Summers, I see you have located our missing students and returned them. Excellent work."
"But, I don't-"
"We seem to be missing Miss Parkinson though."
"Oh darn" Lily muttered sarcastically.
"But I didn't-" Dawn started.
"There there." Dumbledore patted her shoulder. "I am certain you'll remember the way of it."
"All I said was... come back." Dawn whispered. "And I was talking to Neville."
Someone screamed then fell right on top of Raven Hope. She screamed herself and shoved the body from her. Draco was there instantly, pulling her totally free of the fray. Raven was breathing heavy. So was Draco. They'd just had a bit of a fright.
Then he froze. "Bloody hell. Pansy."
She didn't look the same. Her black hair was longer, matted in places. There was a scar running down her face over her left eye... like someone or something had tried to claw her eye out. Draco crouched down next to her.
"Pansy?" He shook her shoulder. "Parkinson?"
"Malfoy, perhaps you shouldn't-" Hermione started.
Pansy sprung up screaming and swinging. She landed two fists to Draco's head before Connor snatched her up from behind. Her arms were pinned to her sides. She started kicking. She was also making this wailing sound.
"Bloody hell, what's happened to her?" Ron asked quietly.
"I'll settled for just what happened in general." Neville, finally awake, remarked. "Did I black out?"
Raven stalked forward and took Pansy's chin in her hands. "Pansy. Pansy, it's me. Raven. You're back. You're home."
"Hope." Her voice was raspy.
"Yes, that's right."
Pansy started crying. Connor released her. She collapsed against Raven Hope. Raven wrapped her arms around the girl and cooed soothingly.
Dawn backed away until she hit a wall. Her arms were wrapped around her middle.
"Dawn?" Harry was looking at her in concern.
"You see what I did."
"Dawn, you didn't-"
Draco was suddenly screaming in her face then. He was could be so full of extremes.
"YOU JUST SHUT THE HELL UP, SUMMERS! YOU JUST SHUT THE HELL UP RIGHT NOW ABOUT THAT CRAP! YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS! DON'T YOU EVEN START DOWN THAT PATH, OR I'LL HEX YOU INTO OBLIVION! DO YOU HEAR, I WILL HEX YOU IF YOU START BLAMING YOURSELF FOR PARKINSON'S BAD CHOICES!"
Everyone was frozen in shock. Pansy had even stopped crying she was so surprised.
"You are my dearest friend. I will NOT have you thinking of yourself so meanly, so just... don't. She made a choice, and that's what ended her at this point. It is not your doing. Do you think it's your fault that Montague went all wonky and evil and tried to rape Lily?"
"All right then."
"But it's not-"
"No. All right. Settled. Not your fault. End of bloody discussion."
No one moved for a second as Draco and Dawn just stared at one another. Finally Harry moved in next to her and put an arm around his girlfriend to comfort her. He never thought he'd be grateful for Draco Malfoy.
Madam Pomfrey cleared her throat. "We should get the formerly missing to the infirmary to have them checked out."
"Of course." Dumbledore agreed. "And Professor McGonagall, if you would notify the Ministry to let them know what has transpired here, I am sure they will want to look into it."
Neville had risen and walked to where Cassie was hovered. "Could you and I take a walk, please? Well, I'll walk, you float. I think we have a bit of things that need to be said."
"Agreed. I'm more tense about being in this room just now than I was about dying."
Word spread through the school like wildfire.
Raven Hope was just leaving the infirmary after Pansy had finally fallen asleep. Madam Pomfrey had needed Raven's help to calm Pansy. That poor girl was a victim of her upbringing just like Draco. Only Pansy didn't have the strength of mind that Draco had. She had not been able to escape. Draco had. That boy had strength enough in himself to walk away from everything he knew. That was why she liked him. Nevermind that they were blood relatives.
Suddenly, she was grabbed and yanked into a dark corner. Raven fought.
"Stop that!" A voice she dreamed about hissed in her ear.
She nearly swooned. he smelled just yummy... as always.
She snorted loudly, cutting him off. It was a few moments before she finally spoke. "What are you doing here? And if it's professor, then why are you still holding me?"
He let go of her and pushed her away so quickly, she had to grab onto the wall to keep from falling. She turned to face him. It was shadowy, but she could still make out his facial features.
"I heard the students from the attack in class had been... returned. I came to see if they were all right. I came to see if Madam Pomfrey needed assistance."
"Why else would I have-"
"I thought maybe you were looking for me."
"This is insane. You're a student. I couldn't possibly-"
"What if I wasn't a student?"
"I said... what if I wasn't a student?"
"That's ridiculous. You..." Then that odd and confusing thing Dumbledore had said to him before and his whole lack of reaction to a professor snogging with a student dawned on Wesley. "Who are you... really?"
She smirked in a way that so reminded him of Draco Malfoy it was absolutely chilling. She did look an awful lot like Draco's mother with her bright blue eyes and platinum blonde curls, but Wesley was certain that was not who he was dealing with.
Her face wrinkled a bit... in a way the reminded Wesley of Samantha Stevens on bewitched when she wiggled her nose. Suddenly the woman before him was a few inches taller and had a heart-shaped face and bright pink hair. He remembered her from the 'meeting of the minds'. The face was the same. The hair was a bit of a shock though. He remembered her because of who she was related to.
He just stared at her.
"Wotcher, Wes." She smirked. "I *CAN* call you Wes now, can't I? Being I'm really a spy and not a student."
Wesley faltered. He would have just had a seat on the floor but for her grabbing onto him and holding him upright.
"Easy now. Well, I can see this has come as a bit of a shock. Do you require mouth to mouth resuscitation?" She wiggled her eyebrows playfully at him.
Her saying this was a bit of a shock was the understatement of his life.
"Wes? You all right there?"
"My life isn't normal." He muttered to himself. "I was sick with guilt because I fancied you. I felt like a pervert."
Tonks grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her. "Well, Raven Hope is all grown up, so no worries, Wes, and a bit of perversion is healthy."
Wes actually smiled. "No worries... now." His face changed as he spotted something over her shoulder. "Well, except for that."
Tonks turned. It was all she could do not to scream. This was bad.
end part 50
AN: Comments welcome here. I would really like to know who everybody thought Raven Hope was. Let's hear it, please.