- Story Summary:
- In Ginny Weasley’s 6th year, Draco Malfoy saved her life and that’s a wizard’s debt. Now, five years later its payback time. Especially now that Draco’s in desperate need of a wife.
Serpent's Bride 13
- Chapter Summary:
- In Ginny Weasley's sixth year, Draco Malfoy saved her life and that's a wizard's debt. Now five years later, it's payback time. Especially now that Draco's in desperate need of a wife.
Author’s notes:Tada! Another chapter done!!! Thank you’s and my heartwarming thanks go to all the people who beta-read, reviewed my previous chapter, exchanged ideas and such about this installment.
Okay, I have noticed that most of the people have already forgotten what the Xiphias Potion was. L Anyway, the Xiphias Potion was mentioned in Part 11. It was actually the poisonous stuff in Ginny’s coffee that Puffy accidentally drank. It’s a strong tranquilizer used for Marine Magical Beasts in the Wizarding World but when given to humans and other DOMESTICATED pets such as the Puffskein, it’s very deadly.
VioletJersey, thanks so much for pointing out that ‘bloodshed’ thing and for stopping me making Draco and Ginny a pair of sex-crazed maniacs on the loose! ^_~ That was like a wake-up call for me! ::lol:: Now, that I think about it… hmmm… what if--- ::cackles evilly:: Foot massage, anyone? Foot scrubs? (that’s a private joke, btw) ::lol again::
Joana.k.a. VioletJersey, it was so nice meeting you at last! And thanks so much for the wonderful and useful book! I really, really, appreciate it! It was very touching and sweet of you to give me something considering we’ve just met. Thanks again!
Alli-chan,I know I’ve said this before, again and again, but I truly meant it. Just what would I do without you? Thanks so much for pointing out the ‘Snape incident’ Actually, just revised it. You and Fred both pointed that out, to tell you honestly! ^_^
I hope that you, Fred, had a wonderful time in Malta… (wherever that is) Thanks so much for squeezing my fic in your schedule! Really appreciate it! Thanks a million also for bearing with my horrible grammar… yeesshhh…
Oh, I’m desperately appealing to Sky’s two friends who recommended this fic for her to read!!! Please, if you’re reading this, do tell Sky that I didn’t neglect her long review and her request. Actually I sent her an e-mail with the un-revised part 13 but it bounced back. I tried sending one again, it still bounced back. I tried looking for another one of her e-mail addresses but I found none. Anyway, to Sky’s two friends, please tell her that I didn’t neglect her request. I’m just so sorry that she hadn’t received my e-mails… Anyway, I’m dedicating this chapter to her.
Another thing, I was not really aware until now that you put the wedding ring on your left ring finger and not on your right. I’ve always thought that it was on the right. Anyway, I already had it corrected. Thanks so much for pointing that out!
Here’s part 13!!! Enjoy!
Serpent’s Bride XIII – The Vampire’s anti-Vampire Serum
Staring back at her, its dark-stained glass casting a dim ray of light across her face, was a whole bottle of Xiphias Potion.
Ginny stared at the bottle containing the poisonous liquid with disbelief, her brown eyes already spilling tears. Instantly, memories of that particular morning whizzed inside her head. She remembered the poisoned coffee, Puffy… She felt her lower lip quivering as her hands began to tremble, a most horrible conclusion forming inside her mind even before she could wonder how in God’s name the necklace got there.
"So it was he?"her brain asked.
"No," she said aloud. She shook her head. "No, it can’t be!" she said again, willing herself to believe what her heart was saying, willing herself to believe that she hadn’t found the bottle inside his secret drawer.
"And why do you think he would hide it some place where you would likely not notice?"
At that, thoughts began churning inside her head. It was right. If it wasn’t him, then why would he even place the potion inside his secret compartment? What’s more, why would he even HAVE Xiphias potion? Having such a dangerous potion was a big no-no for a ‘normal’ wizarding household, wasn’t it?
"What normal? He’s a Malfoy!"her brain insisted She frowned as horrible thoughts about her recent ‘accidents’ resurfaced inside her head. Questions immediately flooded her mind.
Wasn’t he the one who saw to the carriage first when she and Narcissa went off to do their Christmas shopping? And that particular carriage nearly took her life, hadn’t it? And what about the Xiphias potion now? Other than the fact that she found it inside his drawer, the ingredients to make this kind of potion could only be bought in Knockturn Alley. But then, she saw him coming out from the Dark Wizard’s place two weeks before Christmas, right? The same day that the carriage was sabotaged!
"That is not true,"she found her heart saying.
Then the thought about the ‘accidents’ filled her head once again. Then there were the knives— "Wake up and smell the coffee, Virginia!" her brain argued fiercely.
"But why would he do such a thing? Why would he want me dead?"
"Because you’re getting 201 million Galleons, you fool!"
She let out a loud gasp. Yes, she would be getting 201 million Galleons! She would be getting HIS 201 million Galleons! With a sum as big as that on her head, she was a lucrative wife indeed. If she was dead, Draco would definitely get all the money for himself! Draco and Blaise were probably in on this together! He was probably having an affair with her. After all, she did see him leaving the Zabini Estate a while ago. Then after the fight they had, he left with her again. Maybe they were the ones plotting against her! And to think that he had been locking her up in the manor all along! It was a miracle that she hadn’t found herself bathing in her own blood already. Narcissa was wrong! Draco was insane, like his father!
Ginny heaved as a fresh set of tears rolled down her cheeks. Everything was becoming very clear now. Maybe Draco was planning to stage an accident that would finish her off, then cry and mope about how painful it was losing a wife, and in the progress, earning Vladimir’s sympathy. Then with him dying, Vlad surely wouldn’t have second thoughts about leaving the rest of his fortune to Draco. With her out of the way, Draco would get everything for himself and Blaise! Everything was falling into place! He had just been playing with her all along!
Her chest immediately constricted with excruciating pain. She sat there, the pain numbing her whole body, her eyes glazed as she stared blankly at nothing. So she was right then? Everything was just a dream amidst this horrible masquerade they were playing. The little talks they used to have, the way she would rest her head on his stomach, his fingers playing through her hair while they busied themselves with their own books. The gentle and tender nights where they would answer to the sweet calling of their bodies— everything was just a part of his plans! He lied to her! And to think that she had fallen in love with him. Such a thought sent another spasm of pain through her heart.
She clutched her chest and shut her eyes. It had never occurred to her to believe the truth people said about broken hearts. Now, she finally believed them as she felt her heart literally breaking into pieces. It was so painful that she could die! And just thinking about how gullible and stupid she was to even think that he was feeling the same way made her chest constrict with extreme grief even more.
"If you don’t snap out of it, you’ll surely find yourself dead!"her brain hissed furiously.
At that, Ginny blinked. "Oh my god, he’s going to kill me!" she said aloud, finally snapping out of her trance. Mustering all of what was left of her courage, she quickly let the bottle drop uselessly inside the drawer and forced herself up from the floor. As much as it pained her, common sense ruled inside her head. She had to get out of there! There was just no sense in staying and letting her eyes run dry. What good would crying do if she would later on be dead? There was so much time for that later on! But for now, she had to save herself!
Her eyes then traveled towards the two sets of clocks on the wall. One told ‘Wizard’ time while the other one told ‘Muggle’ time. She focused her attention on the ‘Wizard’ clock only to make her nerves jump. The only hand was near to pointing at Draco’s name which signified that her husband was probably on his way home. Instantly, panic rose within her, making her forget the pain temporarily.
"Twenty more minutes," she murmured as she frantically ran across the room. She grabbed the only bag she could find and began stuffing some of her clothes inside, leaving her heavy gowns and some of her expensive dresses behind, taking only what was necessary. Then she went about their chamber, grabbing anything her hands could carry and stuffing them inside the bag. She gave her book collection a look of longing as she hastily zipped the bag closed. Then bending down, she peered under her bed.
"Sweetie!" she called out. She squinted against the dark almost empty space in front of her. "Sweetie, are you there?"
Instantly, a loud mew echoed inside the room as her cat slowly emerged from her hiding place, yawning and stretching, completely oblivious about her master’s present predicament Ginny immediately grabbed her pet with her hands, resulting in a set of loud and terrified screeches by the cat. It wriggled and squirmed against Ginny’s small hands, fighting to get free.
"Shh, not so loud. Mother might hear us," Ginny scolded softly as she forcefully put her cat in her little cage. Once inside the cage, it suddenly let out a loud, foreboding hiss with its back hair all standing up on ends as if to frighten her. It stared at her, its eyes glowing angrily. Ginny frowned at the unusual behavior of her pet but she nevertheless, closed the cage door shut.
Suddenly, the thought of Narcissa brought fresh set of pain within her. Just what would the gentle and caring woman say if she found Ginny suddenly gone? Should she say goodbye?
"Don’t be an idiot!"her brain hissed again.
Ginny shook her head and forced such disturbing thoughts away from her as she gathered her cloak and her wand. With everything settled, her bag on her right hand, her cat’s cage on the other, her wand safely inside her pocket, she hastily ran towards the door. It was a good thing that she had left the Firebolt carelessly lying in the front hall. In that way, she wouldn’t have to sneak to the Broom Chamber again, which would be terribly time consuming. She was about to throw the doors open when she found herself taking a deep breath. She stopped and turned.
For the last time, she let her eyes roam around the chamber where she had given most of her everything, body and soul, to the man that she once considered her worst enemy. To the only man she had ever married. To the man that she had learned to love. Happy memories of everything about him, everything that they had shared filled her till she couldn’t help it anymore. With lips quivering, hands trembling, chest tightening and eyes moistening, she quickly turned around and threw the doors open before the memories could change her mind.
It left her no other choice.
"Good bye, Draco," she said as she ran towards the stairs, her tears falling heavily from her eyes as a rain would fall from a stormy sky.
A smile of genuine happiness was actually fighting out to get free from his lips.
"Ginny!" Draco called out as he set foot inside his manor. He made his way towards the grand staircase, ignoring the servant who was about to take his coat. "Ginny!" he called out again while climbing up the stairs two steps at a time, unmindful of the puddle of melted snow he was creating with his every step. Then as if it had taken forever, he finally reached the enormous doors of their chambers. He was about to open it when he stopped.
Would it be wise to let her see him in disarray, his shirt having the liquor stain on it, which was already turning a nasty shade of yellow and his breath reeking of alcohol? What would she think if he suddenly burst with all the strong emotions he felt for her in this kind of state? He shook his head. No, it won’t be wise, he thought. Other than it would be a terrible shock to her, Ginny would surely think that everything he said was just because of the alcohol. She wouldn’t believe a single word about it. It was also without an ounce of doubt that insane thoughts about what he did with Blaise would surely rattle on inside her stubborn brain cells. After all, she did see them leaving together. His sorry and drunken state would surely provoke that thought even more and the last thing that he needed right now was to get her terribly angry now that he had just learned how much he loved her.
With that, Draco made his way towards his own study to compose and fix himself up. Once inside, he closed the door and went straight to the pitcher of water resting on top of the small wooden table just beside the couch. Then taking out his almost soiled handkerchief, he hastily dipped the cloth, wrung it and began wiping his face with it. He did the process of cleaning his face twice before he felt satisfied. Frowning with mild irritation, he shrugged his coat off and tossed it messily on the couch. Then he took his wand out and flicked it against his liquor-stained shirt, cursing Blaise all the while. Almost immediately, the yellow stain disappeared much to his satisfaction.
"Ah, the wonders of magic,"he thought as he made his way towards his desk to retrieve a bottle of his Sobering Solution inside his drawers. He always kept a bottle of this caffeine-rich liquid inside his study. It was very useful everytime he would come home drunk. It was just not his habit to stand in front of his mother all sloshed and inebriated. Then without a moment’s hesitation, he easily unscrewed the cap and drank the remaining dark brown liquid in two gulps, his face scrunching with disgust upon tasting the bitter tang of the solution, seeping from his tongue down to his throat.
When the caffeine mixed with the potent Pepperup Potion in Solution Level A, the strongest of its kind, hit his stomach, Draco instantly felt his insides burning up as blood quickly rushed inside him as if filling his whole body. Slowly, the light-headedness disappeared and the hazy images ceased to appear before his eyes. The potion proved to be working well since the stench of alcohol was completely eradicated from his breath. After several seconds of waiting, he straightened up, feeling renewed and refreshed. He was about to throw the empty bottle aside when something suddenly struck him. Then without a word, he found himself chuckling. Then the chuckle turned into a laugh. A very amused and loud laugh.
Since when did he fuss about himself when it came to women? Since when did it matter if a woman would like him or not? Well, that thing was out of the question since he was always liked by women. But then, now that he thought about it... Well, he never did get ‘no’ for an answer anyway, so he didn’t bother with his looks. It was just Virginia! With her, Draco found the challenge! Before, everything was just a game! A nasty of game of male egos. And before he knew it, he was falling… helplessly… deeply…
He shook his head and made for the door. Stepping outside his study, he made his way back towards their chambers. Much to his surprise, he felt his hands actually shaking with nervousness as he stopped before their chamber door, hesitation filling him. What if she didn’t feel the same way? What if Ginny threw something at him the moment he stepped inside the room? No doubt, something heavy or fragile, something that would definitely hurt him. And another thing: he wasn’t that good when it came to showing his emotions, let alone talking about what he felt. What if the wrong words came tumbling out of his mouth? He would look stupid. Worse, he could even lose her. At the thought, fear spread inside him, and the thought of walking away became enticing. But then, much as he would like to run away, the raging emotions inside him was getting too hard to handle! He would just burst if he didn’t get this out of his system!
"Then tell her and be done with it,"his brain scolded.
"But I don’t know how?"he thought, licking his lips. "I don’t know what to say."
"Idiot! Don’t say what you know!"it scolded again. Draco found himself frowning at this. "Say what you feel."
Draco took a deep breath. If he wanted to get some peace of mind, then he would have to tell her and know her answer. If she said yes, then it would all be cool! If no, then, well—"Hey, nobody says no to you, remember?" his ego shouted suddenly. Draco smiled. "Right," he mumbled as his hand started turning the knob.
The door creaked open and Draco silently entered, poking his head in first then striding his way inside. He frowned when he noticed the peculiar stillness of the chamber. His eyes turned towards the bed only to find it empty.
"Gin?" he called out softly, walking towards the bed. "Ginny?"
When no answer came, he walked towards the wall separating her room from his. Maybe she had decided to retire in her own chamber, he thought. He tried pushing it lightly, expecting it to be locked but when the wall budged easily, he let out a frown. "Virginia?" he called on, stepping inside. He noticed the bed, empty and unused.
He didn’t even hear the automatic loud mew of that blasted cat everytime he would come home!
He frowned as panic rose within him. Knowing how much danger Ginny was in now, Draco found himself having frantic, horrid thoughts moving quickly inside his head What if he suddenly discovered her all bloody or floating, lifeless, inside the tub? Oh, Good Lord, he wouldn’t be able to take it! At that, he quickly ran into the bathroom and heaved a sigh of relief upon finding no floating Ginny inside. He rushed back to his chamber only to notice, yet again, nobody there. He was about to run outside when he noticed the almost disarrayed state of the chamber around him.
He looked around to see her closet doors left open, her gowns and dresses messily scattered on the floor, creating a wrinkled pool of silk and satin before his feet. It seemed like most of her everyday and ‘light’ dresses were gone. He turned to her vanity only to find her intricately designed drawers left open as well. Her brushes, combs, powders and cosmetic potions and solutions were all scattered before the table before the mirror. Then his eyes went to his own desk to see his papers and parchments, quills and bottles of ink all messily outside of his drawers.
Draco frowned thoughtfully.
From the looks of it, a robbery took place. For a moment there, he felt a cold sweat break at the thought of the important Zabini documents inside his compartments. What if Victor Zabini planned all this using Blaise to lure him out of the manor? Well, after all, he was a Death Eater and a foul play such as that was highly possible. And his wife? What if he-- Draco immediately made his way towards his desk and quickly opened one of his drawers.
He heaved a sigh of relief when he found the folders all sealed up and neatly piled inside, just the way he left them. Then he frowned again. If Victor Zabini wasn’t behind this, then who is? If this was a robbery then why wasn’t everything missing? Well, that is counting some of Virginia’s clothes off but— Then he stopped. Some of his wife’s clothes were missing. Another set of disturbing thoughts ran inside his head. Did Ginny—
"No, she won’t do a thing such as that," he convinced himself. "Maybe she just went to the east wing or to mother."
She probably decided to occupy the room in the east wing, leave him alone in here to suffer all the ‘coldness’ of the night and trash his chamber to get back at him as a bonus. At that stupid resolution, he turned around and was about to look for her outside when he suddenly noticed his secret compartment open.
"What the hell—"
He bent down and was about to inspect when a single, different looking piece of parchment caught his attention. He picked it up on the floor and focused his eyes on the almost legible scrawl on the paper. After a moment of sitting and reading there, anger mixed with mad jealousy rushed inside him. It was from Harry! And judging from the state of the chamber and Ginny’s missing clothes, Draco suspected that maybe---
"No, she wouldn’t do a thing like that!" he said aloud again, his fingers already crumpling Harry’s letter in silent fury.
Sure, they had had a big fight but Ginny wasn’t the type of woman to do a horrible thing like that, he convinced himself. "Is she?" his brains asked. "Yes," he thought. But deep inside, why did he feel— so afraid and unsure? After all, he had been despicable to her. But still, there must be a really, really, good reason behind all this! IF she did run away with Harry, that is. Then as if on cue, he found the answer when his eyes accidentally landed on his open hidden drawer.
Inside the drawer were a velvet black box and the whole bottle of Xiphias potion, staring up at him silently. He stared at it first grimly, his eyes digesting the vivid image of the purplish dark liquid the bottle was projecting. Then after several seconds of thinking, he swore out loud, realizations crashing upon him!
Ginny probably thought that he was the one who was trying to kill her! Maybe she realized that he wanted her dead because of the fortune? And didn’t she see him leaving with Blaise? She was probably thinking that they were the ones plotting against her. Then with all that, she presumably went all afraid and ballistic and decided to run away from him! Run away to Harry for refuge and safety!
"What a stupid thing to do!" Draco roared angrily.
For all they knew, the killer was probably lurking about, waiting for a chance like this! What if it was Harry himself? After all, he just had an idea on what Harry must be feeling right now. Losing a girl he loved so much to his lifetime nemesis could surely drive a man insane with jealousy and anger! Well, although he admitted that suspecting Harry was a bit stupid, still, in this kind of situation, everybody was a suspect! Even him! But Ginny suspecting him? It was really preposterous!
"Well, can you blame her?"he insides scolded. "After all, you had all the ‘valid’ reasons for wanting her dead."
At that, worry, anxiety panic, anger and jealousy rushed inside him at the same time. Where the hell could he find her? Surely, if Harry was indeed planning to finish her off, he would take her someplace far away from Godric’s Hollow, his hometown. He shut his eyes momentarily, getting more and more helpless by the minute. And why did she even choose to go to Harry? He found himself asking unconsciously. He stood up and was about to call two of his servants for help when he remembered the rose pin.
"Yes," he murmured excitedly, remembering the weird thing that happened the last Christmas. "It’s possible."
He took the rose pin out of his pocket and held it before him, its red shining petals instantly casting brilliant scarlet tiers across his paling face. Ever since she had given him the brooch, Draco would always feel this ‘thing,’ knowing what she felt or knowing where she might be. He surmised that the serpent necklace probably worked that way too! Maybe that was how Ginny knew he had come from the Zabini’s a while ago! Confusing as it all was, Draco, as of now, didn’t give a damn why the heirlooms would do something as mysterious as that! Right now, this was his only shot to finding where Ginny could be.
Concentrating hard, he held the brooch before him and stared at it. He freed his mind of all anxiety and forced himself to just think about Ginny. He waited for the familiar thud in his chest but after several minutes of standing there and actually feeling quite stupid, he didn’t see anything. He didn’t even feel anything! Then he remembered the black box he saw inside his compartment.
"Damn it! She didn’t take the necklace with her!" Draco said aloud.
Maybe the reason why it wouldn’t work was because she had left the necklace behind! But that was— he swore out loud, feeling pathetic. Without a moment’s hesitation, he ran outside of the chamber yelling for his valet.
Upon hearing the thunder of Draco’s angry voice echoing within the silent halls of the manor, faint but quick footsteps immediately rang inside the entryway as several ghosts and human servants began rushing outside of their quarters. Instantly, the quiet hall rang with murmurs of confusion and anxiety as they saw the grim look on their master’s face.
Draco looked about him while walking briskly towards the stair’s balcony. "Hammilton!" he yelled again.
"Yes, young Master?" the ghost immediately asked while floating before him. Surprisingly, there was an apologetic tone in his usual flat, woeful voice.
As his reply, Draco looked below him only to see a huge number of the family servants all looking up at him apprehensively. When he was sure he got their attention, he cleared his throat noisily.
"A most distressing thing happened this night," he began, his eyes narrowing into slits. "Your Mistress has gone missing and—" he stopped as murmurs of confusion and bafflement immediately reverberated inside the massive hall. Draco loudly shouted for everyone to be quiet. When the last mumbles subsided, he took a deep breath.
"You are all aware of how perilous everything is for your Mistress as of now, are you not?" Draco asked sharply. When the servants let out choruses of ‘yes’ and ‘right,’ he shook his head. "Then why the hell is she gone!" he yelled, his eyes narrowing angrily. At that, a tension-filled hush settled inside the manor. "I gave specific instructions to guard the place, to keep her from going out until the investigation is over!"
"But, sir, we didn’t see her coming out," replied William, his stable guard. "I was guarding the front gates together with Avner and Oliver! We were right there, patrolling the grounds and we didn’t see even a shadow of the young Mistress!"
"Master Draco, one of the brooms are missing!" One of the girl servants shouted suddenly. "I checked the Broom Chamber and found out the Firebolt is gone!"
At that, Draco raked his fingers tiredly through his hair and heaved an impatient sigh. He was about to yell again when a soft and gentle voice spoke beside him.
"Draco, what’s all this racket?"
He turned sideways. Narcissa was frowning in confusion and walking slowly towards him. Sensing the strained atmosphere about them, she tightened her robe about her and hastily made for the balustrade to see the crowd of servants all looking up at them frantically. Her frown deepened.
"Draco, what is this? What—"
"Virginia’s missing, Mother," he replied bluntly.
Narcissa’s eyes widened. "What?" she asked shrilly. "But why? Where did she go?" she asked frantically. Obviously, she was also aware of the danger Ginny was in.
"That’s what we’re trying to find out," hissed Draco as he turned his attention back to his servants. "All of you listen!" he shouted. "Everybody will look for Virginia tonight! Nobody will stop until she is found! Look everywhere! In the grounds, in the woods, just everywhere! Now that one of the brooms is missing, she might have flown away from here so I won’t limit the search ground just inside the manor! Search everywhere, inside and out! I don’t care if it will take all night! All I want is for her to be found!" He then turned to William. "You, William, will form your own search party! Three or four should be enough. And it should be all men! Have your wands ready and you will search outside! Avner and Oliver, you do the same!"
"Yes, sir!" the three men chorused and immediately began calling out names. Once the search group was formed, they bowed and quickly went on to do the task.
Then Draco turned to his ghost valet. "Hammilton, you and the other ghosts will take care of the chamber. You’d be surprised at how messy it is right now."
"Of course, sir," the elderly ghost agreed bowing his transparent head once. When Draco acknowledged him, Hammilton then, at once, rounded up the remaining four ghosts with him.
"And you will help the men and the women in the search later on!" called out Draco as they floated away from him. He then turned his attention back at the remaining servants below him.
"Agnes!" he called out at one of the middle-aged woman in the crowd.
"Yes, sir?" the woman servant quickly answered.
"Take and divide the remaining women and form out a search group as well. You’ll need everybody since this manor has a total of 23 rooms excluding all the secret escape routes and passages," he ordered grimly. "You will search inside the manor, leave the grounds to the men! Talk to the portraits and open every single room including the ones in the dungeons! Don’t leave a single room unsearched! I give you permission to go into my private study!"
"Yes, sir!" Agnes replied and began calling out names and leading all the ladies with her.
"Emma!" he suddenly called.
"Yes, sir?" the girl who checked for the Broom Chamber stopped abruptly upon hearing her Master’s voice calling her name. She turned around and waited for his orders, the rest of the ladies leaving her behind.
"Come up here for a while," he said, beckoning for the woman to come to him. At that, the young squib climbed up the stairs and ran towards him.
"Go with my mother for the map of the secret passage ways," he said softly. "A map is terribly required to activate the hidden doors. After that, pick out the fastest owl in the Owlery and send a message to the Ministry of Magic, in the Department of Magical Law and Enforcement to be exact. Inform them of the current situation here. Address the letter to the Deputy of the Department, his name is Higgs, Terence Higgs. Use the family seal and he will know that the letter is confidential."
"Right away, sir," replied Emma as Narcissa flicked her wand and summoned her son’s coat, surmising that her son would surely leave the manor to take care of something personal. After a moment, the heavy fabric of the coat floated out of the study and made its way towards them.
"You think it wise not to inform her older brother, Ronald, about this, Draco?" Narcissa suddenly asked, handing him his coat.
"No," Draco admitted. "But the last thing I need is for her brothers to come running in here and killing me by chopping my head off with an axe and accusing me of not taking care of their sister before I can do anything," he added flatly. He shook his head tiredly. "But you need not worry. I will tell them myself."
"How about your grandfather? I really think that he should be informed about this."
Draco looked away grimly. "As for that," he began while draping on the coat his mother handed her, "I’ll take care of everything personally." Then he looked away. "After Harry and I settle the score," he thought grimly.
"Very well," said Narcissa.
Then she looked at his son’s thoughtful gaze and quickly read his mind. She was actually aware that he was risking everything here since the secret passage ways of the manor were not to be disclosed to the servants. But seeing the look of worry in his face and the obvious anxiety written on them, she couldn’t do anything but trust her son’s judgement. After all, they could afford to change the hidden passages once this was all over. At that, she let out a sigh and immediately bade Emma to follow her.
With the two women already making their way to his mother’s private chambers to get the map, Draco pocketed his wand and made his way swiftly towards the Broom Chamber. Seeing the Firebolt already gone, he settled himself on his trusted, old Nimbus 2001 and shot off into the dark night.
If there was one person who could tell him where his wife could be as of this moment, then it would, no doubt, be Harry Potter.
"I need to speak to grandfather, Fields," said Ginny while standing outside Vladimir’s Manor late that same night. She pulled her cloak tighter about her to keep her teeth from chattering because of the cold.
The ghost valet stared at her for a while, its eyes nearly popping out of its smoky head upon noticing the broom floating beside her with a bag and a little cage with an almost frozen cat staring at him. He turned to Ginny only to see her all disheveled before him. It shocked him to see her cloak all wrinkled and ruined, her hair shining with bits of snow and her face actually pale from the extreme cold air. How could the Mistress of Malfoy Manor look so— so— wild?
"What on earth--" He broke off as the young woman stomped her foot impatiently.
"Fields, it’s cold out here!" Ginny cried with displeasure. "Won’t you let me in now!"
At that, the ghost immediately stood aside and let the soaking woman in. "Of course, Madam."
He then gathered the broom and all her things on it and settled them all beside the door while Ginny quickly stepped inside, heaving a grateful sigh upon feeling the cozy warmth of the manor against her frozen skin.
Ginny shrugged the cloak off and handed the heavy material to him. "Where’s grandfather, Fields?" she asked as she walked towards the fairly lit hall of Vlad Manor. "I need to speak to him."
The ghost immediately floated in front of her as if stopping her, much to her surprise. "Master Vladimir is currently—er, indisposed, mistress."
Hearing this, Ginny looked at his floating form suspiciously. Since when did Fields learn to say things the informal way? And was he actually stuttering? She stared at him, her eyes narrowing quizzically. "I’m sure grandfather wouldn’t mind if I see him at this time of night," she said while stepping aside. Then with one last look, she quickly continued on her way.
Seeing the look of stubborn determination on Ginny’s face, Fields shook his head helplessly. Then realizing what he must have looked like, he cleared his throat and suddenly held his head high. "Perhaps, the young mistress would care to stay for the night?" he inquired formally while floating quickly beside her.
"No, Fields I just have to see Grandfather. I’ll be leaving in a little while," replied Ginny ignoring his attempts to make her stop. Now that she thought about it, something was definitely going on. Fields was sure acting all funny and unusual. Her desire to see Vladimir got stronger. "This is very, very important."
"I’m sure that the mistress won’t mind waiting till the morning," the ghost insisted upon noting Ginny already halfway through the second floor hallway. "A chamber will immediately be prepared, of course, should the young mistress wish to stay the night."
Ginny didn’t answer and quickened her gait when she reached the dimly lit hall leading to Vladimir’s private chambers. When she was about to reach the massive oak doorway of the old man’s room, Fields immediately sailed past and settled himself before her, blocking her from the shiny wooden entrance.
"I deeply apologize, young Mistress," said Fields, his voice half-apologetic, half-pleading. "But the Master specifically ordered no visitors tonight."
Ginny stared at him first, arms crossed, foot tapping against the stone floor. Then after a moment of tense waiting and deciding, she finally made up her mind to go past his freezing, hazy form, much to the shock of the valet. Instantly, she felt her teeth chattering . It was like walking through an icy cloud of smoke with frozen gaseous materials sticking against her, gnawing out the warmth inside her body. She rubbed her hands together as the cold mist-like substance of the ghost clung to her skin. She ignored it and took hold of the door’s heavy knobs.
"I’m sure he won’t mind, Fields," she said forcefully, and she turned her hands slightly only to hear the faint clicking sounds of the metal door handles, finally opening up for her.
"Young mistress!" Fields called helplessly as Ginny directly marched inside the dark chamber. "Young mistress!"
Ginny ignored the desperate calls of Vladimir’s valet which was hastily floating behind her. She took a couple of quick, big steps only to come upon a huge drape-covered bed with a bedridden looking man lying on it. Her mouth slightly dropped open upon seeing his face, so old and so weary. She slowed her pace and noticed his skin, pale and deathly white. She let out a little gasp when she recognized the sickly sleeping man to be none other than Draco’s grandfather!
"Fields, what is the meaning of this?" Ginny asked with alarm, she looked at him then quickly back at the lying Vladimir. "Is he sick? Is he dead?"
"How long has it been like this?" she asked frantically, her hand automatically landing on the almost knarled skin of his forehead. "Good lord, he’s so cold!"
"Did you call for the doctor or—anybody?" Ginny rattled on frantically. "Why wasn’t anyone of us informed? How bad is he?"
"Fields, who’s there, I say? Is he here?"
Ginny stopped her fretting when she heard the almost inaudible bark that came out of Vladimir’s thinning lips. She looked down only to see him slowly opening his eyes. When Vladimir’s weakening gaze landed on her face, he let out a series of choking noises. She let out a distressed sort of sigh. This was not the Vladimir she used to know.
"What is she doing here, Fields?" he asked weakly. "Didn’t I mention no visitors?"
"Yes, master but the young mistress insisted that she saw you," the ghost answered, shooting Ginny a look of death.
"Why didn’t you mention this in your letters?" she asked grimly instead.
"I think it’s not your concern if I decided not to, eh?" he replied sharply amidst his weakening state. Then his eyes riveted towards his valet. "Leave us."
"As you wish, Master," Fields hurriedly answered, and he quickly sailed away from them, leaving Ginny alone with Vladimir.
"So, it’s true then?" Ginny asked once alone with him. "You’re dying?"
"What does it look like?" growled Vladimir.
"For a man so sick, you sure don’t look that pitiful to earn someone else’s sympathy. I suggest that you lay off the bit about snarling and growling. Believe me, it’s a big turn-off," quipped Ginny suddenly, crossing her arms over her chest When she heard the almost distinguishable snarl of displeasure coming out from his lips, she shook her head tiredly and decided to change the subject. "Tell me, is it true that you need blood?"
"I’ve sworn not to partake any human blood as long as I live," snapped Vladimir. "Even if I die, I won’t drink human blood!"
"It’s none of your business!"
Ginny tried her best to remain passive and remember that she was actually talking to a sick and stubborn man. "Then how come you survived, after all these years, without taking human blood?" she inquired knowingly. "It’s food for your kind, is it not?"
Vladimir growled again.
Ginny sighed impatiently.
"Animal blood, is it?" she asked.
"They are not enough to sustain my inhuman hunger," he rasped after a spasm of coughing and hacking. "Too cold for my system’s preference."
Ginny sat there thoughtfully. After a moment, she spoke. "What if you drink human blood now? How long would it take you to rejuvenate?"
At the sudden question, Vladimir’s eyes widened angrily. "The hell I will!" he cried in spite of his feebled voice. He banged his fist violently against the soft cushions of his bed once to show his indignation, if not through his voice, then through his actions. "I’d rather die than take human blood!"
Instead of answering, Ginny shook her head, stood up and made her way towards his desk. Ignoring Vladimir’s frenzied growling and grunting, she expertly opened one his huge drawers only to bring out a single writing parchment, his quill and his ink. Then sitting down, she took out her wand and tapped it against the tiny lamp sitting quietly at the corner. When a faint orange light burned at its clothed wick, she began writing, making light scratching noises inside the chamber, dipping the quill in the bottle of raven liquid once in a while.
"What the bloody hell are you doing there?" he barked feebly. "What are you writing?"
"Something that would be of much use to us," said Ginny promptly while bringing the parchment to her face and lightly blowing against it for the ink to dry. "You should’ve told me about your condition earlier."
"Then what? Have you and that blasted grandson of mine rushing here and fussing about me?" snarled Vladimir as Ginny carefully rolled the parchment.
At the mention of Draco’s name, Ginny felt her chest twisting once again. She looked away in order not to show the fresh, heart wrenching ache his memory brought within her. Instead, she cleared her throat and summoned Fields.
"You called, mistress?" the ghost answered. He quickly floated through the wall towards her upon sensing the urgency in her voice.
"Yes," answered Ginny softly, and handed him the rolled parchment. "Have this delivered. I need the answer right away."
"Very well, madam," said Fields, and he floated quickly away from them.
Ginny made her way back to the desk only to notice an ornamented letter opener resting beside the heavy paperweight on the table. Without thinking, she picked up the sharp, glistening blade and made her way towards the bed.
"That’s a letter for your husband, wasn’t it?" grunted Vladimir. His black eyes narrowed with anger. "I won’t have him marching in here and frolicking about joyfully!"
"Why do you say that?" asked Ginny as she settled herself beside the bed, the letter opener behind her back.
"Because if he sees me dying then it would mean that he, no, the both of you, would finally have my fortune!" he answered. "I simply wouldn’t want to see him jumping up for joy, seeing my weakening state! I won’t even have him see me looking like this!"
A soft, mirthless chuckle came out of Ginny’s lips. "Then you’re in for a rude awakening, grandfather," she said while bringing the letter opener above his face. "But first—" She broke off when Vladimir let out a dry laugh.
"You’re going to kill me, woman?" he snarled, seeing the sharp lethal object staring back at him dangerously.
"No," said Ginny simply. She brought her right arm above his head and placed the blade against it, it’s cold metal grazing the creamy white and tepid under skin of her arm. "I’m going to feed you."
Realizing what she was about to do, Vladimir’s eyes flashed with anger. "You stop this nonsense immediately!" he cried out. "I already made a vow!"
"The hell you did!"
And with that, Ginny quickly slashed her arm with the blade till her skin horribly opened up. A deep red gash became quite visible before Vladimir’s horror-stricken face. She let out a soft hiss of pain as blood came out sprouting from the open wound. Forcing herself not to wince, she threw the blade on the floor and placed her bleeding skin just above Vladimir’s dry lips. She squeezed her right arm with her left to force more blood out.
When his mouth felt the thick red liquid coming out from the young woman’s skin, immense hunger immediately swept up inside him, body and soul. He unwillingly opened his lips wider, filled his mouth with the vibrant life-giving red liquid, quenching the unsatisfied thirst and the unfulfilled hunger his half-mortal body was screaming for. It was a hunger he never felt before! It was a hunger that reminded him of the sweet and beautiful women he would often bite. He preferred daring debutantes before. They tasted young, luscious and fresh. It was the kind of blood that shouted out life and vigor! It was a mixture of candy-coated innocence and blazing physical desire. And nothing tasted more delightful! He couldn’t resist!
Ginny took quick fearful breaths when Vladimir gruffly pulled her bleeding arm to his mouth. The fear increased even more when he let out an almost savage, animal growl when she tried pulling back. And before she knew it, an intense and stinging pain went up about her as she felt two hard and sharp substances pushing against her skin.
Vladimir let out a low grunt as he forced himself to sit up, his mouth not leaving his life-giving source. He sucked at her arm hungrily and held fast when he felt her resisting and pulling away. When the rusty tang of her sweet blood settled inside him, a strong rush of strength and warmth immediately spread inside his body, filling every famished portion of his soul, reviving him as he shed the last shards of his mortal essence behind. He pressed her arm to him even more, tightening his grip, squeezing out more blood till a loud cry rang amidst the heavy breathing and gasping inside the chamber.
"Enough!" Ginny cried as she wriggled her arm away from his touch, her face already turning pale and chalky. She fought to stay conscious as dizziness swept past her. "Enough!"
But Vladimir didn’t let go.
"That is enough!"
Ginny pulled her arm forcefully away from him. Then to her absolute shock, Vladimir threw his head back and let out a loud gasp of satisfaction, blood all around his chin and his lips, trickling and dripping from him face only to dribble messily onto his white nightshirt. She backed away quickly upon seeing two fangs baring out from his open mouth. Then her eyes widened upon seeing the most extraordinary transformation before her eyes.
From its wrinkled and creased state, Vladimir’s skin turned smooth and almost even. His color turned paler than usual but there was a strong hint of clear translucency on them, much different from what she was used to seeing. Before her very eyes, she saw him look stronger, the Vladimir she used to know resurfacing once again from the old, bedridden man she had seen a while ago. When his eyes met hers, she took a deep intake of fascinated breath upon seeing his face drastically changing! The blood slowly disappeared from his face and his shirt. He was becoming beautiful before her eyes, his good looks becoming more visible, the black color of his eyes turning translucent and intense, their black pupils narrowing almost into dots. He looked better and younger. It was like, twenty years was taken out of his usual age. It was clear to Ginny that he wasn’t the same Vladimir she knew.
"You foolish, girl!" Vladimir bellowed after a moment, his voice low and growling. With the beautiful transformation came his immortal ruthlessness. "Look what you did!"
And with that, he immediately bolted out of bed with extraordinary speed and went after Ginny. Already too weak and dizzy to fight back or run away due to massive blood loss, she weakly slumped her body against his strong arms. Vladimir, finally losing control of himself, tightened his arms around his prey’s small waist. When he saw the faint green color of her veins protruding enticingly from her delicate milky-white neck, he threw his head back as his vampire fangs immediately sprouted inside his mouth. He gruffly bent her head to the other side and exposed her neck before his bared teeth. He was about to bury the pair of long and sharp incisors against the tender skin of her neck when the door suddenly burst open.
Vladimir was instantly blasted off from his feet as a jet of sparkling red light shot off from nowhere before he could even make two puncture holes against her neck. The man-turned-vampire hit the wall behind his bed with a jarring blow then he fell down on the floor with a sickening loud thud, unconscious.
Unable to keep up the fight any longer, Ginny fell limply on the soft leather couch as a deep male voice rang inside the stillness of the chamber.
"Not too late, am I?"
Ginny smiled weakly while fighting to stay conscious. "Professor Snape," she whispered.
Draco yelled furiously as he stood before Harry’s beautiful but modest two-story house. He banged his fist at the wooden door violently over and over again, unmindful of the cold winter breeze blowing against him, unaware of how ‘menial’ he was. Actually, he could always take his wand out and cast something to open the door, but due to his building fury, he really felt like hitting something or someone as of now. Using magic was out of the question. He banged the door again, this time more loudly.
It was already near to midnight and he felt tired, both physically and emotionally. Godric’s Hollow was miles and miles away from Malfoy Manor and it almost took him two hours of flying, not to mention, an added thirty minutes of searching before he actually found Potter’s house.
He swore out loud when nobody opened the door. After several seconds of rapping the door madly, Draco stepped back and feared that perhaps Harry was in his Muggle house right this very minute. He remembered Ginny telling him about Harry having renting a Muggle flat somewhere in London. Then his chest constricted with pain as the memory of Ginny breezed inside his mind.
He shook his head.
"Potter! You come out this instant!" Draco repeated, this time shouting menacingly, unmindful of the curious whispers and glances of Harry’s neighbors all popping out of their houses and windows.
He was about to bring his big fists against Harry’s door once again when a light suddenly flicked on in one of the house’s windows. He stepped back when suddenly the door burst open only to reveal him a sleepy-looking, bedraggled, yawning and unshaven Harry Potter staring at him with irritated curiosity. He was rubbing his eyes, which were free of the round glasses and scratching his head.
"Out of the way!" Draco yelled, and before Harry could do or say anything, he pushed his way inside the house yelling for Ginny to come out.
Harry’s face went blank, not sure if he was in a dream or not. "What was that?"
Harry looked sideways only to see one of his neighbors peering at him unsurely from the other house.
"Everything all right?" his neighbor inquired, his eyes settling on his house. His frown deepened when Draco made a loud banging sort of noise inside his sitting room.
When his brain started to focus, he immediately recognized the furious voice vibrating inside his house. No, he wasn’t dreaming. This was real. Bloody real! He tightened his robe about him and forced out a gritting smile. "Yes, Mr. Wilkins, everything’s quite all right, thanks." And with that, Harry immediately stepped inside his house and closed the door behind him with a bang.
"Ginny! Don’t make me come up there!" Draco shouted, a toy truck sticking against his right foot. Then he swore out loud when the Muggle toy wouldn’t budge off his boot. He hopped momentarily to take the blasted toy truck off, creating a puddle of mud and dirt all around him.
"Hey!" Harry shouted angrily upon hearing the other man’s frenzied yelling, eyes already focusing. He frowned with abhorrence upon seeing Draco’s large build hopping around with a toy truck stuck on his foot, looking undeniably silly. But with the current situation, Harry had other things to think about other than to laugh at him. He swore out loud upon seeing Draco creating a mess inside his house, on his newly cleaned carpet. "Hey!"
"Where is my wife, Potter?" Draco rasped finally tossing the toy on the floor. It landed with a loud clutter against his wooden flooring.
"Normally I would tell you to get the hell out of here but as I see it you’ve already stormed yourself inside my house, messed it up and made up your mind to ruin our sleep, which, indeed, worked," said Harry irritably. Then his face hardened. "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!"
"Where is my wife, Potter?" Draco repeated, this time he raised his voice furiously, oblivious to the fact that Harry actually yelled at him to get out.
"She’s not here!" Harry answered back. He looked up only to find his son sitting at the top most part of the stairs, staring at them with wide, curious green eyes, dressed in his light blue pajamas with little teddy-bears printed on them. "Now look what you did! You woke my son up!"
"I don’t bloody care if I woke the whole neighborhood up!" Draco replied loudly. "Bring me my wife or I’ll make sure that you will terribly wish you’ve never been born!"
"Are you threatening me?" Harry asked, his ‘unusual’ eyes narrowing into slits. He smirked. "Because if you are, then it’s not working."
"Do," Draco stopped and took his wand out. He looked menacingly at him, "I look like I’m threatening you, Potter?" he asked dangerously.
Harry stared at him first and noting the look of murderous rage in his eyes, he shook his head and turned away gruffly. Okay, he probably meant business, but nevertheless—
"I told you, she’s not here!" Harry shouted furiously, ignoring the death glare the other man gave him. "Are you deaf or something or just plain stupid?"
And with that, Draco swore out loud. He walked towards the stairs with furious steps without even asking, totally unconvinced. Harry’s eyes widened with disbelief while Nathan scuttled out of the way as Draco’s huge form came striding across the lighted hall leading to the master’s bedroom. Reaching the door, he threw it open and stormed his way inside only to discover an enormous canopied bed with thick crumpled sheets and no red-hair and dainty woman inside.
"Potter!" he roared, turning around and making his way back towards the sitting room. He sailed down the stairs, his heavy coat billowing around him. His eyes darted immediately to the main family room only to see Harry pacing back and forth gravely, not quite sure how to react to the sudden turn of events and his son, now fully awake, busy playing with the toy truck he nearly wrecked. Upon sensing his presence, he stopped and turned to him.
"What the fu--," Harry immediately broke off upon seeing his son sitting on the floor, playing. He took a deep but annoyed breath and rephrased everything. "Who the hell told you that you can go bursting in my room just like that?"
"Where is she?" demanded Draco instead. He was half-tempted to pull out his wand and give Harry’s smug face a hex or two but seeing the little boy, he refrained and contented himself by giving him the nastiest, the most cold-hearted and the cruelest glare he could project.
As his reply, Harry turned to his son. He bent down and shook little Nathan’s dark chestnut hair fondly. "Nathan, son, go up to your room," he softly ordered.
The two-year old boy looked at Harry then at Draco then back at Harry again for a while. Seeing the grave expression on the faces of the two men before him, he gave his father a sweet and obedient smile. "Okay, daddy," he said in his tiny voice, and he immediately ran up the stairs bringing his toy truck with him.
For a moment there, Draco found his eyes softening as he followed the little form of the boy with genuine fascination. Then his thoughts unconsciously landed on Ginny again. Would it be possible for her to be with child already? The probability’s quite high. After all— he frowned. If yes, then what would it be? A girl? A boy? He’d rather prefer a boy but— Damn, what the hell was he thinking?
"You’re off you’re trolley, did you know that?"
Draco blinked only to see Harry looking at him with undenied confusion and irritation. He looked at him narrowly. "Don’t you lie to me, Potter," he said with soft menace. "I knew that you were with Virginia a while ago. I saw your letter."
Then to Draco’s astonishment, Harry’s unyielding expression turned to absolute confusion. "Yes, but she went back to you," he answered thoughtfully, the mere idea of Ginny missing driving away all his overwhelming desire to throw or ‘zap’ Draco out of his house. "She was in a hurry, actually."
"She’s not in the manor," said Draco curtly, the thought of Ginny going out with Harry completely overlooked. Somehow, seeing Harry’s baffled expression sent a heavy feeling of fear and anxiety deep in his stomach.
Harry’s eyes widened. "What do you mean she’s not in the manor?" he demanded. "She’s gone?"
The taller man rolled his eyes. "No, actually she’s back there lying on my bed and I just don’t have anything better to do so I decided to come storming up in here— Of course, she’s gone!" Draco exclaimed. "I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t!"
"I don’t know where she is," said Harry earnestly.
"You are the last person she talked to," Draco shot back.
"I told you, she went back to you!" Harry exclaimed. At that, Draco walked away from him and began pacing the room back and forth, mumbling and grumbling. "I swear, on my parents’ grave, that I don’t know where she is!"
Nevertheless, Draco didn’t stop pacing, his face thoughtful. Somehow, he believed Harry. Strange actually, but he believed him.
Harry let out an annoyed sigh. "If you don’t stop that pacing this instant, I’m going to nail your feet on my floor and believe me when I say I wouldn’t even care having a prat standing here in my sitting room as long as I make you stop," he said irritably. "You’re making me dizzy!"
"That’s because you don’t have your glasses on, you dimwit!" Draco spat back, finally stopping. Then he looked at Harry thoughtfully and realized that this was actually the first time he saw Harry Potter without his glasses. He shook his head, dismissing such stupid, useless thought. "All right, scratch that. Are you sure you’re not some psychopath, homicidal maniac who likes to keep pretty girls with red hair named Virginia in your basement?"
Harry’s eyes widened incredelously. He wasn’t sure if Draco was serious or just being a nonsensical prat.
Draco walked towards him slowly. "Because if you are, I swear I will kill you, Potter," he rasped, leveling his sharpening eyes with his. "And I won’t even give a damn if I get Azkaban time for that."
Now, Harry was sure he was serious. Dead serious.
"You are insane, Malfoy," said Harry, not blinking. He pushed Draco away from him gruffly but not provokingly. "She went away from me. I told you." Then he looked away. "She was actually hurrying to you. And believe me when I say that nothing and no one in this world could stop her from going to you," he said remembering her last statement.
"What do you mean?" Draco asked frowning.
"It means that even if I asked her to run away with me, she wouldn’t do it!" Harry exclaimed. There was a note of bitterness in his voice. "She gave me the same look when your name was brought up, just like the one Cho gave me when I asked her to marry me."
Draco said nothing.
Harry let out an exasperated breath. "Look, do you want me to drink Veritaserum? Because if you do, I will! I’ve got nothing to hide!" he exclaimed. "As much as I— like Ginny, I wouldn’t even think of taking her against her will!" Then he turned away, displaying a look of hated acceptance. "I wouldn’t want to have her with me knowing that she’s thinking of someone else."
Draco looked at him momentarily, his silver eyes boring through him as if reading him thoroughly. "Fine," he finally said. He turned around and made his way towards the door. "I’ll be on my way, then."
Silence settled inside as Harry stared at his retreating form with mixed emotions. He didn’t know whether to feel happy or sorry or worried about everything. Part of him was actually embittered because Ginny chose Draco over him while another part of him felt happy because of the obvious worry Draco was feeling with Ginny gone. But a bigger part of him felt worried because Ginny went suddenly missing. Especially now that someone was out to get her.
He went after Draco who was currently about to open his front door. "Malfoy, I think—"
Both Harry and Draco stopped as Nathan’s little voice vibrated inside the house. They looked up, confused.
"What was that?" Draco asked, frowning at the wide-eyed boy sitting up the stairs.
"Ginny," said Nathan with little difficulty.
Draco turned to the puzzled Harry behind him. "Does your son have the gift?" he asked, remembering how the little boy managed to warn Ginny before the knives went zooming towards her last Christmas.
"What gift?" Harry asked, completely clueless. Then he looked up. "Nathan, what are you saying, son?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Divination," he replied, exasperated. Then he threw his hands up into the air and looked at him disgustedly. "Honestly, Potter, you should know better! He’s your son, for goodness sake! The symptoms are already there! Can’t you tell it? How did you even manage to graduate?"
"Oh, look who’s talking Mr. I-have-a-son-so-I’m-an-expert," spat Harry sarcastically.
"You don’t have to have a son to see that, moron," said Draco impatiently. "Were you not even aware that the things children of our own kind say, no matter how peculiar and weird they may be, shouldn’t be ignored? Things go different here compared to the Muggle community. The possibilities are endless!"
"Well, were you not even aware that I was raised in the Muggle world and have absolutely no idea about the things you’ve just said until now?" Harry shot back. Then he turned thoughtful. "I don’t know. Maybe a little. After all, I sucked at Divination Class."
"Nothing surprising there, really," murmured Draco deliberately. "The only thing you were good at was flying anyway."
Harry smirked at him. "Whereas you were terrible at it?" he asked sarcastically.
Draco frowned at him as if he said something wrong. "What drugs are you on, Potter?"
"You should know, Malfoy!"
"What’s your son saying?" Draco cried irritably. "He’s not making any sense at all!" He was about to turn around and was about to open the door when a sudden thought hit him.
"Malfy?"he asked himself, getting thoughtful. "Ginny? Could it be possible?" Then he clapped his hand once, remembering Sylvia’s pet name for his grandfather. "That’s it!" he cried out.
"What?" demanded Harry. "What is? Where is she, Malfoy?"
This time, Draco’s eyes narrowed. "What do you care, Potter?" he asked. "Why should I tell you? For all I know you’re the one trying to kill her."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Oh sod off!" he cried. "What good would that do to me?"
"Who knows?" Draco shrugged and turned around. "I mean, after all, you’re a scarred freak of nature—" He opened the door and was about to step outside when Harry suddenly called him. "What?" he asked impatiently. "I don’t have time for this!"
"I’m going with you," replied Harry, completely forgetting about the insult.
Draco stopped abruptly and turned to him blankly. "What?"
"I said I’m going with you," Harry repeated while turning around and making his way up the stairs into his room, no doubt, to change and to get his glasses. "As far as I’m concerned, everybody’s the suspect here and that counts you. There’s no way that I will entrust Ginny’s safety to you!"
"What if it was the other way around?" Draco called after him. "And what makes you think that I would let you go with me?" he asked as Harry went tripping back down the stairs, all dressed and shaven, of course with the quick help of his wand.
"Oh, I’m not actually expecting that you would let me," replied Harry as he went off to get his broom.
"Okay, let’s get everything straight, Potter," said Draco while Harry put on his cloak. He raised a finger before his face "I don’t trust you."
"Well, I don’t trust you either," spat Harry with a straight face.
Draco rolled his eyes and backed off a little. "Great, we don’t trust each other. We’d make a very good team," he quipped sarcastically, his arms flailing in the air. "Did I tell you that my father didn’t trust Voldemort? And look where it got them."
"Get real, Malfoy. I wouldn’t even call this ‘teaming up’," said Harry as they eyed each other stubbornly. Then he sighed tiredly. "I’m not doing this for you or for myself, I’m doing this for Ginny. God knows how many times I've shut her out and it was a mistake on my part." He stopped and turned away from Draco’s narrowing gaze, remembering the talk he had with Ginny a while ago. Then he looked back at him. "It was a hard learned mistake and I have no intention of doing that again, so whether you like it or not, I will go with you, help Ginny, end of story!"
Draco stared at him momentarily, thinking and deciding. Finally, he heaved a soft sigh of reluctant approval.
"A bit keen there, aren’t you?" Draco asked tiredly.
Judging from the look of determination on Harry’s face, it left him no other choice but to concede. It was a look that said ‘I don’t give a fuck about what you say.’ It was a look he was accustomed to seeing when they were still playing Quidditch for their respective houses. Harry used to have that kind of look everytime he would see the Snitch. And talking him out of it, or even shouting and hitting his stubborn face, was really very impossible. But then, it was actually good. He didn’t care about Harry. Harry didn’t care about him. But both of them cared about Ginny. At least they had something ‘useful’ in common.
"What about your son?" Draco asked after a brief moment of thinking. When Harry gave him a look that said ‘uh-oh, I forgot’, Draco turned his eyes heavenwards with exasperation. "You oaf! You can’t go around frolicking out anymore like you used to. You can’t leave him alone in here!"
"I know! Shut up! I’m thinking!" Harry exclaimed, looking thoughtfully at Nathan.
Draco snorted. "Now, that’s something new," he said. Then his eyes widened in mock amazement. "You’re actually thinking."
"And you are not." quipped Harry with annoyance. "Thinking doesn’t work well with you. It’s like matching green with orange. A terrible clash, really."
"You’re wrong, I’ve already thought about something," he said. Then he looked at the boy, his expression unreadable. "Let us take him with us to Vlad Manor. My grandfather would be more than happy to take care of him."
"Vlad Manor?" Harry asked, puzzled. "What’s Vlad Manor?"
"It’s my grandfather’s manor," said Draco. He took a small, silver lighter out of his pocket. "I’m pretty sure Ginny is in there."
"Don’t you think that Nathan will slow us down?" Harry asked. Then he frowned when Draco flipped the lighter top open. "And there will be absolutely no smoking inside of my house and in front of my son, Malfoy!"
At this, Draco found himself frowning. "What are you? Stupid?" he said, annoyed. "This is a portable Portkey I’m holding not a cigarette lighter! Well although it is a lighter, I don’t use it for a smoke! And I wouldn’t be that daft enough to let you fly out with your son! It’s dangerous and will definitely slow us down." He looked away and tested his not-so-working-well lighter while murmuring and grumbling. "Ruddy Muggle things!"
"So, you’re grandfather has a Portkey point in his manor?" asked Harry quite taken aback. He bid his son to go up and change before Draco grouched a faint yes. After several seconds of looking and waiting, Harry opened his mouth again. "And what makes you think that Ginny’s really in your grandfather’s place? She could go straight at the Burrow or to her Muggle flat."
"It’s worth a try and I have faith in your son’s abilities, Potter. They’ve been proven," said Draco, facing him. "And besides, Ginny suspected me. Put yourself in Ginny’s shoes. Going straight to the Burrow or to London would be really stupid. That would be the first place I would go to and as far as Ginny’s concerned, she doesn’t want me to find her." He smirked as Nathan came bounding down the stairs, all dressed with his little cloak in his hands. "But then, I’m sure you haven’t thought about that, have you?"
"Don’t push it, Malfoy!" Harry said warningly while busy putting on the cloak over his son’s shoulders. Then he turned to Draco suspiciously. "And what’s this about Ginny suspecting you?"
"It’s a long story," replied Draco curtly. When he saw the unconvinced look Harry gave him, he sighed. "Come on, Potter, don’t make me tell it! It’ll take us all night!"
"I don’t care if it takes us all night."
"I DON’T WANT TO KILL HER, ALL RIGHT?" Draco shouted. "Just be rest assured that I don’t want her dead!"
"Give me one good reason," Harry prodded, crossing his arms stubbornly across his chest. "Because I can make you go to hell with just a simple flick of my wand, Malfoy and you bloody well know that I can do that."
At that, Draco looked away and gave the couch a stony look. "It’s personal, all right?" he finally admitted. "And besides if I turned out to be the one, then I give you full permission to perform Avada Kedavra on me, no strings attached."
Harry stared at him for a long time before nodding in acceptance. "Fine," he finally said. Then he cleared his throat, changing the subject. "What good would going to Vlad Manor do to her?"
"Oh you’ll find soon enough," said Draco mysteriously as he positioned himself before the two, holding out the lighter in front of him. "Ready to go?"
"Do you know something that I don’t know?" asked Harry as Draco murmured out a faint ‘Accio’ to summon his own broom.
"Maybe," replied Draco. "After all, he’s my grandfather and all. I just know how crazy that old man can get. Is your son used to using Portkeys, Potter?"
"Oh, nothing new there actually. I could really see the close relation," said Harry smirking. When Draco decided to ignore him, he turned to his son whom was reaching out for the lighter. "Yes, he’s used to it. I always take him to my matches which often requires the use of Portkeys
"You could’ve just said yes," said Draco while rolling his eyes irritably.
And with that, all three of them held onto the lighter tightly, brooms in hand and disappeared in a snap.
"I should’ve known," said Snape as he flicked his wand and cast a stronger binding hex to hold the struggling Vladimir on his bed. He looked at Ginny’s paling face sharply and continued, "that something as stupid as this would be one of Potter’s friends’ doing."
"Take this off me, you bastard!" Vladimir shouted.
Snape ignored him. At this rate, he was much stronger than Vladimir, anyway.
Ginny let out a weak smile as she watched Snape laying out his things, which were compiled neatly inside the small leather kit he had brought along. "Well, I couldn’t leave him just like that, could I?" she asked, her eyes widening with fascination when she saw the set of glass vials and containers having multicolored liquids in them.
He laid them carefully on the bed and took out another vial from his pocket. Then turning to Vladimir, he opened the vampire’s lips and forced the sleeping draft into his mouth, unmindful of the series of curses Vlad spat at his face. Moments later, his eyes drooped. Finally, he closed them and drifted off to sleep.
"You should know better than to try something as stupid as that," said Snape unpleasantly as he took a medium-sized syringe out of his kit. "Haven’t you even got the slightest idea what could happen to you if he had succeeded?"
"I know, we did vampires in DADA during my sixth year," replied Ginny while pressing the cloth on her wounded arm. Despite the roaring fire inside Vladimir’s private quarters, Ginny felt all cold, damp and slightly weakened. "I’ve included that particular subject in one of my majors too."
"And as I see it, you didn’t learn anything," he concluded unkindly while filling the syringe with the dark purple liquid. He held it up into the light and carefully measured the solution.
"It’s a good thing you got here in time. I see you’ve received my owl sooner than I have expected," said Ginny instead as she watched Snape carefully injecting the needle against Vladimir’s skin, aiming for a vein closest to the heart. "What is that?"
"To tell you honestly, I didn’t receive your owl, Ms. Wea— erm— Mrs. Malfoy," he said curtly, the purple liquid slowly pushing through the older man’s systems. "For your information, Vladimir had already scheduled an appointment to see me for his medications while yours," he stopped and turned to her disagreeably, "was a product of pure, dumb luck."
Ginny fell silent at this, feeling like a stupid, pathetic school girl being scolded. She cast her eyes down and waited for Snape to go on with his usual criticizing, unmerciful, proficiency bashing. Well, she had to admit that he was right, though. After all, she didn’t actually use her brains at that time.
When Snape saw her sober reaction out of the corner of his eyes, he let out an almost inaudible rueful sigh. "This is, by the way, my anti-vampire serum," he started instead. "I started making this a year after the discovery of the Wolfsbane Potion. A most recent discovery, of course."
"Anti-vampire serum?" Ginny echoed, her eyes wide with wonder in spite of her feebled condition. "So I take it that it actually eradicates the blood-sucking soul out of a vampire, changing him to be mortal? What is it made of?"
Snape found himself smirking quite fondly at his former student’s curiosity. Indeed, Virginia Weasley-Malfoy hadn’t changed a bit. Curiosity. That was one of the factors that encompassed her being, making her one of his best potions students in all of Hogwarts.
"Same ingredients as of the Wolfsbane Potion," said Snape flatly while carefully disposing the used syringe. "The only difference is this serum contains a large amount of garlic essence, bits of silver and a drop of blessed water. I’ve also included the same mixtures of anti-demential sera included in the Wolfsbane." He paused and stared at her for a long time. "Better make sure," he murmured while handing her a thermometer. "And of course, a large amount of Murtlap juice. That gives the purplish color. Most effective when injected," he continued.
Ginny nodded and placed the thermometer in her mouth absent-mindedly, as if it was the next normal thing to do. Somehow, she noticed there was a hint of pride in Snape’s usual unemotional voice. "But large amounts of Murtlap juice is quite dangerous, isn’t?" she asked thoughtfully. "Won’t that be threatening?"
"To ordinary wizards, yes," replied Snape while looking at his watch. "But to the likes of them, no. Werewolves and vampires have strong resistance to a large quantity of Murtlap juice due to their inhuman nature. And a plentiful amount of the particular juice is highly needed to sustain the effect of the anti-demential sera. You know perfectly well that Murtlaps, when pickled and eaten, produce a strong resistance against curses and hexes, are you not?"
"And so it eradicates vampirism in a vampire?"
"No, it merely controls it," replied Snape. "Just like the Wolfsbane Potion, the anti-vampire serum reduces the vampire’s desire for human blood. It does not, however, remove his vampire features. During transformation, he will just sit there quietly, pale, fangs and all, drinking wine or water in leau of human blood."
"Brilliant," whispered Ginny through the thermometer sticking out of her mouth. Then she heaved a sigh. "I’ve turned to him to a full-fledged vampire, have I not?"
Snape turned his unsmiling face to hers. "Frankly speaking, it only took four spoonfuls of your blood to complete his transformation," he explained. "Vladimir was born a half-vampire. He had been taking human blood since the day he could talk. Then he stopped for reasons unknown therefore preventing the complete transition. I firmly believe that’s the way half-vampires turn into full-fledged vampires. They don’t need to be bitten, they have to drink warm, human blood."
Ginny nodded and stayed silent for seconds. She looked up and noticed Snape, usually dressed in his heavy robes of black, standing up and flicking his wand against Vladimir’s bound hands, freeing him from the hex. "He’ll be awake in a few minutes, totally harmless," he quipped flatly. Ginny she frowned.
"Why do you use Muggle thermometer?" she asked curiously as Snape took it from her mouth. "What’s more, why am I even using a thermometer?"
Snape momentarily stared at her coldly. Finally, he decided to speak, disregarding her second question. "Muggle thermometers are more accurate than the ones we use here," he replied as he brought the thermometer against the light to inspect it. "Ours depend on magic while theirs depend entirely on science. Whether we like it or not, we, wizards, and Muggles have the same body temperatures. It would be more advisable to use Muggle thermometer in cases like this." Just then he exclaimed softly. "Ha! Just as I expected!"
And before Ginny could utter another question, he took her wounded arm, tapped his wand against it while murmuring a medical magic incantation. Then almost immediately, the two puncture wounds slowly closed before her eyes, leaving dried blood stains all around them. After that, Snape turned away from her and busily flipped open his other kit only to reveal another set of vials before them. Then after careful thought and selection, he pulled a small glass container with a purplish-red liquid inside it. He handed it to her.
"Here, drink this."
"What is this?" Ginny asked curiously while taking the cork covering off.
"It’s a serum that will make your heart beat fairly faster for a couple of minutes, therefore compensating the lost blood in your body," he explained. "I’ve also included a tiny drop of anti-vampire serum there minus the Murtlap essence, of course. After having bitten by Vladimir, I’m not really sure what that can do to you."
"Oh," she said before bringing the vial to her lips, pinching her nose and drinking it in one gulp. Her face immediately scrunched with disgust upon tasting the bitter-sour liquid against her tongue. "Yech! This tastes more horrible than Polyjuice Potion!" Ginny exclaimed rather immaturely after swallowing the red concoction. Then she frowned. "Why didn’t you teach us to make this before?"
Snape just smirked without humor and took the empty vial she handed him. "You don’t want to put me out of business, do you?"
"Do you usually recommend this serum to vampire-bitten victims?" she asked after a moment.
"No, that serum is just for special cases such as yours," said Snape while he busily packed his things. "Not all of them are, erm---," he broke off and turned to Ginny, raising his eyebrows rather unsurely. "I believe that my work here is done," he finally uttered instead. "Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some other things to do." And with that, he turned around and gruffly made his way towards the chamber doors. He was about to open it, when Ginny suddenly called his name. He turned around, his eyebrows raised in question.
"What now?" he asked irritably.
"Thank you," said Ginny, granting him the sweetest smile he had ever seen. "Thank you for coming here. Thank you for all your help."
Severus Snape let out a little sigh. After all, she was his best student. It was really hard to say no to Virginia Weasley even though she was a Gryffindor. "Just don’t do anything stupid again," he growled. Then without another word, he stepped out and closed the door behind him.
Ginny shook her head, a soft smile playing on the corner of her lips. He was still the same Severus Snape she knew, but then, she didn’t miss the tiny flicker of a smile that grazed his grim lips when she expressed her gratitude. It actually made her wonder why Snape decided to be all contributive and helpful considering that he hated the fact that she was his best student and worst, a Gryffindor.
"The man has a heart after all!"she thought, smiling softly. One of these days, she thought, I would find a way to repay his not-so-kind kindness. With that, she stood up and was about to make her way towards the window, when a weak voice suddenly rang inside the stillness of the chamber.
"I hope you learned your lesson, Virginia."
She turned around only to see Vladimir’s eyes already wide open, the ruthlessness in them already gone. It was actually weird seeing a full-bodied vampire looking so gentle and harmless. Gingerly, she sat back on the bed as Vladimir struggled groggily up, his beautiful face being illuminated by the moon and the crackling fire, creating a thin, shining silver light across his flawless cheeks.
"I have a confession to make," said Virginia softly, facing him.
Vladimir raised his eyebrows coldly as his only reply, waiting.
When Virginia was sure no words would be uttered, she took a deep calming breath. "We’ve been fooling you all along," she started. And with that, she told Vladimir everything. About the Quidditch match that started it all, the deal she made with Draco, about the orphanage and everything about the awful money-making masquerade they’re playing. Vladimir’s expression hadn’t changed a bit during the flow of the story: cold and calculating.
"It was wrong and I am fully aware of it," said Ginny after telling everything to Draco’s grandfather. "And for that, I deeply apologize." She blinked her eyes furiously to keep herself from crying.
Vladimir chose to remain silent.
She sniffed softly. "I couldn’t blame you if you get angry at me, if you hate me even," she said. "But I just want to let you know, that after all this, I don’t want any part of your money. Just— just give it all to Draco, he deserves every single cent of it. He’s your only heir after all. Also be rest assured that after this, I will never bother you or your family again."
Ginny looked up. "God, I feel so terrible," she exclaimed softly. "After all the kindness you and Narcissa have shown me-- to tell you honestly, you’ve become the grandfather I never had! And it greatly pains me, believe it or not, playing this cruel game! And I—"
"You should feel terrible," said Vladimir, cutting her off suddenly.
Ginny stopped and looked at him timidly.
"And I should be angry."
Ginny nodded. She cast her eyes down shamefully and bit her lip.
"However—" He broke off as a sudden loud, raucous laughter came out his lips.
Ginny turned to him, aghast with the sudden unexpected reaction. Just what the hell did Snape give him? Was this actually a temporary side-effect of the anti-vampire serum? To turn the vampire giggly insane? Now this was getting weirder by the second! A vampire laughing with genuine glee?
"Do you actually believe that I bought that I’m-in-love-with-Draco crap?" he exclaimed. "Come on! Surely you didn’t think that I was that stupid, did you?"
Ginny’s mouth dropped open unfashionably as a weird feeling of déjà vu swept up inside her. She stared at Vladimir’s laughing face, completely speechless.
"I’ve known all along! Why, I had the will changed, haven’t I? Just to piss him off!" he cried out, looking all smug and egotistical before her, pleased to see the astonished look her face projected. Then he gave another loud, uproarious laugh. "You should’ve seen his face! I tell yeh! It was just so priceless! And the way he--," he stopped suddenly upon seeing the annoyed, mirthless and piqued expression she gave him. He cleared his throat rather uncomfortably and turned serious. "I was once rotten as that boy is now, Virginia."
"Then— then why didn’t you say anything?" Ginny demanded when she finally found her voice. "You didn’t even do anything! You went along just for the amusement of it?" She charged crossly. "Were you not even aware that—"
"Oh but Virginia, dear, don’t get me wrong," Vladimir supplied quickly. "I still wouldn’t have given my fortune to Draco if he hadn’t married a woman such as your character." Then he guffawed again. "But then, yes, everything was really just for my amusement! An amusement in behalf of my blasted and conniving grandson! Thought he could outsmart me, eh? Ha! I proved him wrong!"
At that, Ginny couldn’t do anything but shake her head tiredly. "Oh, what’s the use?" she thought, seeing the clear look of sickening satisfaction and smugness on the vampire’s face. Then she closed her eyes, her fingers flying up to her temples as the beginnings of a sudden headache throbbed inside her head. "Oh, oh, I feel— I feel--,"
"What? Stupid? Duped?" Vladimir pressed helpfully. He looked at her with mock eagerness. "Fooled? Gullible? Like an imbecile? Rotten?"
Ginny frowned. "Okay, stop that. That’s an abuse to the word insult, and I won’t have that!" Hearing this, Vlad immediately stopped. She looked at him miserably. "You could’ve easily reported this to the Ministry or—or—took legal action against me or something. Why didn’t you?"
"Oh and did I say that I’m also hoping that a woman like you would change that blasted boy?" he asked. She turned to him crabbily. "What? I’m serious!" Vlad exclaimed. When Ginny glared at him, he cleared his throat awkwardly and decided to be ‘more’ serious
"I have high hopes for Draco, actually," he said slowly. "That is why I chose him to be my successor and not his father. At the very young age of eight, he had already demonstrated an extraordinary skill and knowledge when it came to Wizard trade, quite not normal for boys his age, you see. He knew what people wanted, what people needed, what people would buy. He had an inquiring mind when it came to Wizard and Muggle goods." He shook his head. "It was just a pity that my blasted son inclined him to the Dark Craft. Why, I heard that he even successfully closed the deal regarding the Zabini’s estate at a very, very low price! That boy has a brilliant mind for business!"
As her reply, Ginny cast her eyes down when the name Zabini was brought up. Vladimir noticed this and chuckled.
"Oh come now, lass! I’m not angry with you! And most certainly, I don’t hate you! You’re too special to hate even though you have that slight conniving nature. Actually, I was really glad that you became his wife. And I would’ve given a part of my money anyway. How the hell did you even manage to handle that boy’s wretchedness anyway? Until now, I couldn’t help but wonder," he babbled on, obviously not aware of their present situation. "And besides, you saved my life. I actually owe you one!"
Ginny still didn’t look up. Oh, why did Vladimir have to say those words now? "I came here for a reason, actually," she forced out after a moment. "I need a really, really big favor."
"Anything, Virginia, anything," said Vlad without a second thought.
Ginny slowly looked up. "I need you to perform the Fidelius Charm on me," she said quietly. "And take my name off the will." She didn’t want his money after all. What good would all that money do to her if Draco would be constantly trying to kill her? For all she cared, Draco could take it all, wallow in it and be damned with it! That was the sole reason that started this mess in the first place!
Vladimir’s smile suddenly withered. "Why?" he asked, his vampire eyes suddenly narrowing. "Did something bad happen between you and my grandson?"
Ginny’s lower lips trembled as another set of tears threatened to fall at the mention of Draco. "It has nothing to do with him," she lied pathetically. At Vladimir’s silence, she knew it was a very ineffective lie. "Please?"
Vladimir took a deep breath and stared at her for a long time. "I know it’s none of my business should you tell me or not, but do you really want me to?" he asked after a moment of long silence. "Is that what you really want? Because if I do that, there’s no turning back, Virginia."
She looked away miserably, the thought of Draco, the mere thought of not seeing him ever again, bringing a fresh surge of pain inside her heart. There was no one to blame but herself anyway. From the start, she was well aware that this was just a charade, an agreement, nothing personal, just pure business. But then she broke the first and only rule of the make-believe game. She let herself fall in love, deeply, helplessly. This was the price she had to pay for breaking a stupid but simple rule such as that. She took a deep breath and hardened her heart.
"Yes," she finally answered as two fat tears rolled from her eyes to her cheek.
The vampire momentarily sat there and silently pondered. Then he frowned. "You actually trust me?" he asked, daring her. Then he looked at her meaningfully. "I am, after all, his family."
"You owe me," came Ginny’s only stoic reply.
After several minutes of staring and thinking, Vladimir finally let out a resigned sigh. "Consider it done," he said as he stood up and reached for his wand inside his desk. Then walking back towards the bed, he pointed his wand tip before her.
"All right, Virginia," he whispered as he flicked his wand before her, creating bunch of light yellow sparks in the air. "Just close your eyes and relax and when you open them, everything will be fine. Just fine…"
"Molly, dear, hurry up or we’ll be late!" Arthur Weasley called that same night. He dragged his suitcase down the stairs and let out a soft curse upon seeing the time. "The Ministry Convention will start at eight tomorrow morning and by this time, dozens and dozens of wizards will take the best rooms Irish hotels can offer! I don’t want to spend a night in an inn!"
"In a moment, dear!" Molly called back from their room. "Quit babbling a load of tosh, Arthur. You’re the former Minister, of course they will reserve the best rooms for you!"
"Oh pish-posh and all that nonsense!" Arthur snorted while pacing the living room back and forth. "Just hurry it up! I want to leave already!"
Moments later, heavy footsteps echoed inside the sitting room as Molly’s large build came bounding down the stairs, her suitcase in hand. Arthur immediately took her suitcase and made for the door, with Molly following close behind.
"It was a good thing I built a Portkey station in my backyard," said Arthur to no one in particular as he followed his wife towards the door. "You do have to admit that the Muggle mail box I’ve set up there was quite a real treat, eh?"
Molly ignored Arthur’s lively chatter about Muggle posts and mail boxes and was about to open it when a faint knock suddenly went behind it. They eyed each other frowning.
"Who could that be and at this time of night?" asked Arthur as Molly proceeded to open it. Then what greeted her made her eyes widen with surprise. Standing before them was a half frozen, red and puffy-eyed Ginny, with a broomstick floating beside her, a bag on her right hand and her cat’s cage on the other.
Ginny, upon seeing her parent’s astonished look, felt her lips trembling. Then without another word, she cried, dropping her things on the floor, unmindful of the terrified screeches her cat uttered as it hit the ground terribly hard.
"What’s the matter, sweetie?" Molly asked softly, immediately gathering her crying daughter in her large but comforting embrace. She stroked her hair soothingly and pulled her inside the house. She looked at her husband meaningfully. Arthur immediately understood and gathered her things, the Ministry Convention temporarily forgotten. He placed it inside the house and closed the door gently. "Honey, what’s wrong?"
"Mum, I--" She broke off as another set of wracking sobs escaped her lips. "I just don’t— have anywhere to go and—"
"Shh, everything’s fine, baby," soothed Molly. She pulled Ginny onto the couch and let her cry freely in her arms. "Everything’s all right."
Ginny cried and cried, all the bottled up pain and emotions pouring out from her at once. She cried like a baby in her mother’s arms. She cried as if there was no end to her tears, like there was no tomorrow. She never cried this hard before! And nothing hurt Molly than seeing her only baby girl cry like this, trembling and shaking against her arms.
Molly and Arthur, in turn, eyed each other, not exactly sure of what to say or ask. Whatever it was, they were sure that it had something to do with Draco and their marriage.
Ginny let herself cry for another ten minutes before looking up to her mother and father’s understanding faces looming over her. "You were about to go somewhere?" she asked in between a series of hiccuping.
"Oh, this is nothing, honey. It’s—" Arthur immediately began, waving a dismissive hand.
"Don’t let me keep you," said Ginny quickly, wriggling out of her mother’s embrace. Then she forced out a smile. "I think this trip is important to Dad."
Arthur let out a sigh. "Actually, honey, it is. It’s the Wizard Convention and—" He stopped and looked at Molly meaningfully. When his wife gave him a nod of understanding, he let out a snort and waved another dismissing hand in the air. "You know what? We could always attend next time, right Molly dear?"
Molly was about to call out a loud ‘yes, you’re right honey’ when Ginny shook her head vigorously. "No, dad," she cried. "Go. I— I mean, you don’t have anything to worry about I just—"
"Please," implored Ginny softly. "I just need a place to stay, temporarily and—" she stopped and turned to her parents. "Please don’t make me feel horrible again by not going."
At that, Molly sighed. "I must admit that this is quite important to your father," she said. Then she turned skeptical. "Are you sure you’ll be all right without us?"
"Yes, mum, I’ll be fine," she replied. After all, no matter what Draco did, he wouldn’t be able to find her. She trusted Vladimir. He wouldn’t squeal her whereabouts to him It was his wizard’s debt to her. "Just go and have a wonderful time."
"I’m still not sure—"
"Then if you’re not that sure then have one of my brothers stay with me," suggested Ginny, while wiping her eyes dry. "Where’s Ron and Hermione, by the way?"
"They’re having a holiday at Hermione’s place," replied Arthur. Then he turned to Molly. "Maybe we could write them and ask them to come home?"
Molly still looked reluctant. "I don’t know, Arthur." She looked at Ginny. "I’m not really—"
"How many times do I have to convince you, Mum?" Ginny asked. "I really don’t mind. It’s okay," she said again. Actually, at a time like this, she really wanted to be alone.
At that, Molly took a deep breath. "All right, honey. If you insist," she said as Arthur started taking her things up to her room.
"May I use my old room?" Ginny asked softly while opening the cage and letting her cat out. Her pet, in turn, scampered away happily towards the kitchen.
"Of course, dear! What kind of question is that?" Molly exclaimed. "You may stay here as long as you like."
And with that, Ginny smiled and slowly made her way towards the stairs. Once inside her bedroom, she slumped on her bed, face down without even bothering to turn her light on. She stayed like that for about an hour or so, thoughts of Draco playing endlessly inside her head. It was already thirty minutes past midnight when exhaustion and the extreme urge to eat dawned on her. Then as if an answer to her prayers, Molly entered her bedroom with a plate of cookies and a glass of warm milk for her enjoyment. Ginny immediately sat up as her mother tapped her little lampshade on.
"I wrote a letter to Ron, honey," she said while placing the food on her little night table. "He just answered back and said they’ll come home tomorrow."
Ginny forced out a smile. "Oh, why Ron?" she thought with dismay. The last thing that she needed right now was to see Ron’s I-told-you-so look, and to put up with him when he suddenly decided to press her about what happened and hear him ranting on about how miserable her husband was and actually having to listen to him bark, cry and bellow just how he would chop her husband’s body parts off. Preferably starting from his head first, then his arms and then his feet— ooh, she could just go on! She took one cookie from the plate and munched at it hastily, wondering just why the freaking hell was she eating like there’s no tomorrow at a time like this!
"Are you sure you’ll be quite all right here?" Molly asked after a moment, quite surprised at her daughter’s sudden decision to stuff her face with food. Then she sighed. "Oh well, maybe because of depression."
"Yes, mother," she said after swallowing the food. Not long after, Ginny finished her first cookie. She bit her lip and reached for another one before taking a sip of her milk.
As her reply, Molly stared at her, wanting desperately to know what really happened. But seeing her daughter’s red, puffy eyes, she decided not to. In time, she thought, she would definitely open up. "Well, I guess we’ll be going," she said as Ginny, now finished her second cookie. "I’m not really sure of leaving you all alone in here but—"
"Mum, please. We’ve been through this already," Ginny said between mouthfuls of chocolate chip cookie. "And besides, Ron and Hermione will be here tomorrow so don’t worry about a thing," she pressed.
At that, Molly finally let out a smile. "All right, dear." She kissed her on the forehead. "We’ll see you three days from now."
"All right, Mum! Have fun!" Ginny said with forced cheerfulness.
And with that, Molly stood up and made her way outside of her room. Once alone, Ginny stopped her eating, her eyes accidentally landing on her left hand where she wore her wedding ring on her ring finger. At that, another set of tears fell again from her eyes as she slowly took it off and settled it inside her drawer.
After a moment of sitting there, crying, self-pitying, and thinking, she finally laid on her bed and cried herself to sleep.
It was already half-past one in the morning.
She was all alone in the empty house.
She frowned in her sleep when she heard a soft sing-song voice in her head, calling her name. Not sure whether she was dreaming or not, she turned sideways, hoping the voice to go away.
"Gi ~ nny!"
Reluctantly, she forced her eyes open only to see a shadow, standing in front of her waving a wand, staring directly at her. Slowly, she sat up and rubbed her eyes. She looked up, her eyes already focusing in the dark. She immediately recognized the shadow.
"Therese?" she asked. "What are you doing here?"
The woman smiled, her feline, blue eyes glowing out brightly amidst the darkness of her tiny room, her almost white-blonde head glistening against the faint glow of the moonlight.
Her blood-red lips widened into a cold and eerie smile.
End of Part 13
In case everybody’s wondering who the hell Therese was… she was actually Ginny’s secretary back in the Muggle World. And the reason why she suddenly popped again in the story? Well, that’s for you to find out! ::cackles evilly::
You may have also noticed that Draco and Ginny are using an old broomstick model, a Firebolt and a Nimbus 2001 ::shrugs:: well, Fred noticed it. Anyway, please do take note that I have mentioned in Part 11 that Draco temporarily stopped wasting money on broom collecting since it was clearly mentioned that his family’s currently facing a financial crisis. But then again, I firmly believe that broom collecting is really a part of being a Malfoy. ::grins:: Who knows, Draco might start collecting again.
Okay! Everybody knows where Wolfsbane Potion’s from, right? In case, you forgot, this actual potion was very difficult to make. They are actually for Werewolves. They drink this so to avoid the terrible insanity that goes with the transformation. This, however, does not cure werewolves, it merely tames them. Severus Snape makes this potion for Remus Lupin.
I don’t know what to call my anti-vampire serum that’s why I just called it as it was. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read or heard this serum in any particular HP series. Also, the ingredients I’ve mentioned above were products of my near-to-exploding brain cells. Silver, I’ve heard from some of the vampire movies I’ve seen, could kill vampires as well as essence of garlic and blessed water. I kind of derived everything from that. I believe that this is my original potion, if not, please e-mail me about it so that we can make the proper disclaimers. I may have missed it somewhere.
The Murtlap is actually from Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. They are rat-like creatures found in coastal areas of Britain. I used them because they are the only ones who can resist jinxes and curses, highly essential for my fic.
I really don’t have the slightest idea on how far Godric’s Hollow really was from Malfoy Manor. I just assumed that it would be very far away considering the fact that Draco surely won’t like living near Harry. I promise to do more research about their geography.
Terrence Higgsis actually JK Rowling’s character. He was a former Slytherin, early 1990’s. He was replaced by Draco as the Slytherin seeker. I’ve just figured out that not all Slytherins really did support Voldemort and I made Terrence Higgs one of those. It was also possible that he may have already forgiven Draco about the Quidditch position. ^_^
I’m not really that sure how to cast the Fidelius Charm. I haven’t read how it was done in the HP series so I just conducted a cock and bull casting trick here. ^_~
And lastly, Vladimir’s vampire transformation is a product of my silly imagination. It’s just that I’ve come to the sudden conclusion that what I’ve put there is very possible. Vladimir was already a half-vampire therefore, he didn’t need to be bitten by a full vampire to become one himself. I think that another ounce of blood was needed to complete his transformation, after a long year, but he suddenly stopped, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada… you all know what happened!
That’s about it! Hope everybody enjoyed! Disclaimers apply to the following, awright? I don’t own them, not making money from them so please don’t’ sue. Thanks you for reading and please review! ::grins::