- 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 14
- 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:Okay, here´s part 14!!! Woohoo!!! ::jumps up and down:: Finally have it all done! Anyway, just a reminder. Chapter 14 will be cut in half, awright? That means I would be posting the first half first then the second half a week after, ok? You may ask: Why the freaking hell $%^&%!!!??? Well, to tell you honestly, part 14 is 63 pages long and believe me it´s very tiring to read it in one sitting. Besides, I need to make some more revisions in the second part ^_^
To those of you who are wondering whatever happened to the Red Lingerie, then I highly recommend everybody to read VioletJersey´s Beauty on the Fire, an AU fic for Serpent´s Bride. It´s an NC-17 fic that could be found in Fanfiction.net. I tell you, this fic is great! Hot, steamy sex all the way but not at all smutty. It actually blew my head off! ::cackles:: I guarantee you that you will never look at Ginny the same way again. ^_^ Thanks, VioletJersey for writing an AU fic for SB and for actually solving the mystery of the red lingerie!
My thanks, as usual, go to my ever helpful beta-readers. Fred, Alli-chan and VioletJersey, thank you, guys! ::hugs:: I just can´t believe you were able to stand reading a 63-page chapter!!! Thank you!
And also, my deepest gratitude goes out to all the people who read and reviewed the previous installment, both from Fanfiction.net and Fictionalley.org! You people really kept me going! Thank you, thank you, thank you! ::bows, bows::
To all those people who sent me their reviews through personal e-mails, I´m really sorry I wasn´t able to reply but then again, my thanks also go to you. It´s really nice to receive wonderful e-mails. ^_^
Oh and I hope nobody would mind but I would like to be Gilderoy Lockhart for a moment, awright? I´m pleased to announce that I´ve won Second Place in Alexis Bastarda's Draco Malfoy Fanfiction Competition! Yay! ::throws confetti around:: I´ve entered Serpent´s Bride and it actually got Second Place!!! Okay, that´s it. I´m just so happy that I have to say it. ^_^ ::grins sheepishly::
And another thing, I´m really sorry also to all the people who sent me private owls . I haven´t been able to send you a reply! Actually, it took me a long time before I figured out what an owl is all about and how to read them! To tell you honestly, I really need help here! I´m having difficulty manipulating my message board and I don´t really know how to send people chapter updates! I mean, most of you guys are giving me your e-mail addresses and I don´t have a freaking idea on how to send you an automatic chapter update! I´m really, really sorry. So please if anybody who knows something about FictionAlley Message Boards, do e-mail me. Thanks!
Anyway, here´s the first part of Chapter 14! I hope everybody will like it!
Serpent´s Bride XIV - The Serpent´s Bride
"This," Harry gritted his teeth in disgust while lifting his now sordid boot from the soft, squashy and yucky-looking, knee-high mound of earth beneath his feet. He turned to Draco with an undenied look of abhorrence plastered on his paling face, "is your Grandfather´s Portkey point?"
Draco turned to him crossly. "Oh, stop your whining, Potter!" he exclaimed as he busily extracted his own legs from the manure-looking filth surrounding them. He swallowed hard upon seeing chunks of wet and stinking earth clinging onto his expensive leather shoes. "What the hell is this place anyway?" his insides hissed. When he felt his knees and thighs were moist, a sign that the muck actually got past his posh, Armani suit and coat and settled itself against his skin, his insides suddenly screamed, "That´s it! I´ll kill him! I´ll kill him!"
"Hey Malfoy!" Harry called out, lifting his sorry-looking son out of the dirt. He carried dirty little Nathan against his arms, splatting more filth and mud against his shirt. He looked at the weird expressions of disgust, anger and disbelief playing on Draco´s face simultaneously with undenied curiosity and wonder. "What´s with you?"
"This," Draco exclaimed instead, stiffly pointing at his right pant leg, "is a £1,800 suit!" Then he lifted his foot and showed Harry his ruined shoe. "And this is a £524 shoe! All ruined!"
At that, Harry turned away from him in disgust.
"What?" Draco demanded.
"Since when did Draco Malfoy fancy Muggle clothes?" he asked, smirking nastily.
"And since when did it become Harry Potter´s business?" Draco shot back. Then his face scrunched with disgust upon seeing his other shoe. From the looks of it, it was now permanently damaged and ruined. He mumbled something through gritted teeth while busily scanning his surroundings. "Blast it! Freaking pile of dungy-"
"And you were saying something about `quitting your whining?´" Harry asked with rancor. He looked around, his eyes already adjusting to the dark, and noticed another level of `dry´ soil behind them situated at the other end of the pit.
Draco stopped and turned to him.
"That wasn´t called whining, Potter" he muttered darkly as Harry turned around, his uncomplaining son snug in his arms. Draco turned around as well. "It was called remonstrating. That was a reasonable and justified remonstrating I made."
"Which simply means, in lay man´s terms," Harry paused for a while as they both took one slow and difficult step towards the other side, their feet and legs fighting against the thick, huge lump of mud and filth enclosing their limbs, "complaining, which again, is very synonymous with whining." He rolled his eyes. "Really now Malfoy, I can´t believe you still have the grace to whine considering that this dump is YOUR grandfather´s Portkey Point."
"Excuse me, but I wasn´t whining at all, I was remonstrating," said Draco mulishly. Then he smirked at Harry against the dim light of the moon. "And even if I was complaining, surely you can´t blame me, can you? I have all the right to complain."
"And why is that?" Harry asked as they finally reached the other side of the deep, hollow ground.
Draco turned to him and gave him an I-can´t-believe-I-still-have-to-tell-you-isn´t-it-quite-obvious look. "Just look at me, Potter!" he exclaimed, his face having a look of undoubted certainty on it. "I am worth over a thousand Pounds on this particular night! Unlike you--"
"Did anyone ever tell you that you are so sickeningly hopeless, Malfoy?" Harry asked, his tongue dripping with sarcasm.
The other man raised his eyebrows in mock question. "Just like you, Potter?" asked Draco delicately as they finally reached the other side. He stopped and smiled maliciously at Harry while shaking his head. "No, hardly at all."
Harry snorted, raising up his son first, placing him on dry ground a little above them. "Yeah, right whatever," he murmured. He braced his hands before him and was about to pull himself up when a sudden faint neigh echoed amidst the soft hoots of the owls and other night creatures surrounding them. He stopped. "What was that?" he asked, in hushed, frantic tones.
Another faint neigh, then a soft, low sort of animal groan.
They looked at each other, their eyes wide.
"Did you make that sound?" Harry asked, frowning deeply at him. He knew it was stupid to ask but-- He swallowed hard, already thinking the unthinkable.
"Oh don´t be an idiot, Potter," Draco answered back. He looked up only to see the starless night sky. Then he looked past Harry and saw a faint illuminated darkness and pieces of wood set in a curious shape called a coop, or a shelter, or a barn, or something, standing twenty meters away from them. It was hard to make it out due to the darkness. He turned back to Harry, deeply annoyed. "At this moment, do I sound anything like a horse to you?"
This time, Harry focused eyes that said `uh-oh´ back to him.
Draco looked back, the annoyed expression completely replaced by a look of total confusion. Then after a moment of pondering, realizations finally hit him.
He whirled around and discerned two large animals, standing on all fours, walking away from them, their bristly tails wagging in earnest and obvious satisfaction. The minute Draco saw them, he gritted his teeth and let out a loud curse.
"Oh, shit!" he shouted as he furiously took his wand out of his pocket, his horror-stricken eyes going from his filth-smudged coat, then to his pants then to his shoes and then back to his coat again. "Oh shit! Goddamn it!"
"Will you stop swearing in the presence of my son?" Harry demanded crossly.
"Blasted piece of fucking filthy-"
"Hey!" Harry shouted as he hastily covered Nathan´s ears. Apparently, it didn´t work for the boy was staring at him with inevitable curiosity, already grasping for some understanding. "For crying out loud, will you stop using profanity here?"
"That wasn´t profanity at all, Potter," Draco rasped, "That was a normal reaction in a stinking situation like this. Any `normal´ person would surely do or say that on impulse." He shook his head. "And as I see it, you´re beyond that," he added since he noticed that Harry hadn´t been one bit disgusted about their present predicament. Then he continued swearing again as if nothing was amiss.
Harry looked at him in disbelief and fury. "Malfoy! I´m warning you-"
Draco turned to him and frowned angrily, obviously pissed with Harry´s unsuccessful attempts to be a `good father´ and clearly infuriated at the thought of being completely surrounded by horse dung. "I am going to swear or use the vilest words imaginable if I want to and nobody in this damn filth hole, not even the likes of you, will ever make me stop!" he declared fiercely, his voice ringing with strong conviction, his patience running out. He looked down and covered his nose with his hand, the faint, pungent smell of wet earth and horse dung getting stronger by the minute. When bits of snow began falling from the sky once again, he cursed out loud. "Bloody hell!"
Harry eyed him narrowly.
Draco stared at him at first and realizing that Harry meant serious business, he let out a faint irritated snort and finally decided to stop and just concentrate on how to get out of this stinking situation `cleanly´ in the best possible way he could. He held his wand before him and whispered a faint Lumos. When a flicker of light emerged from its tip, he hastily swung it from the left then to his right, surveying their surroundings.
"Seems like we´re in a bit of a quarry," murmured Harry as he too took his wand and let light flow from its tip. "A stinking, putrid quarry, that is."
His brows crinkled slightly upon finding themselves in a large ground opening located in the middle of a vast clearing. His eyes then roamed around only to see a number of huge trees and curious, quaint exotic plants, flora, and shrubs all standing and growing around them. There was a large patch of grassland a little on their right with three or four horses grazing on them and a near-to-collapsing stable on their left. He focused his eyes on the large edifice of the manor looming gloomily in front of them. From the looks of it, they were standing inside an enormous moat-like hole which was curiously placed at the back of the manor. He turned a little to his right only to finally notice the manor´s exact Portkey Point standing there quietly: a chunk of wood pitifully sticking out of the earth, and a worn-looking bridle hanging from it.
"You call this a bit of a quarry?" spat Draco, looking around as well. "A grubby, stinking tremendous pit hole for the horses´ personal self-gratification is more like it!" He looked past Harry only to realize that the curious pile of wood and timber he had seen earlier was actually a stable. Seeing that, he let out another curse. "Dammit all! I can´t believe he would let his horses wander about, scattering their filth everywhere! What´s more, I can´t believe he would actually build his own Portkey Point in a place like this! What is he? Insane?"
"No, I doubt that," said Harry as he put out his wand light and braced his hands before the dry level of earth in front of him. He handed his wand first to his son before pulling himself up from the dump. "The horses didn´t scatter their filth everywhere, Malfoy. WE were the ones who trespassed in their er- not-so-private," he paused and thought of an appropriate word, "uh- bathroom." He stood up, bits of wet dung falling off from his pants. Then he smirked at Draco sarcastically while taking his wand from Nathan. "As for your grandfather´s building his Portkey Point in a place like this, well, really now, Malfoy! You of all people should know better. After all, same bloodline, same level of thinking, right?"
"Nox,"whispered Draco first, taking out the light off of his wand tip as well. Then much to his surprise, Nathan held out his little hands in front of him, looking expectantly at his wand. He frowned but nevertheless saw no other choice but to hand the wand to the little boy and began pulling himself up as well.
"That is enough of your smart mouth, Potter," Draco growled as he stood up beside him. Nathan immediately handed him his wand back. Draco, for a moment, stopped awkwardly. "Er- thanks." Then he focused his eyes back on Harry, narrowing them to slits. "Not when I´m feeling wet, dirty and ticked off," he continued. Then he looked around. "Where´s my broom?"
"Over there," said Harry, pointing towards the direction of the stable to his left. Then he swished his wand against his son first before swishing it against himself.
Draco shook his head upon hearing the spell Harry used and muttered, "Perclarus Fergrare." Instantly, the dirt and dung disappeared from his clothes and shoes. He took a deep, satisfied breath, the thought of being clean and `smelling clean´ once again pleasing him. Then he turned to Harry smirking smugly as if telling him `I know something you don´t know.´
And it terribly ticked Harry off.
Harry frowned. "What?" he demanded noting the egotistical look the gray-eyed man gave him.
"Go on and smell yourself," was all Draco said while pocketing his wand. He smirked mentally. "Stupid Potter not knowing the appropriate spell to use. Clarus! That was so third grade! And here they are calling him The-boy-who-lived!" he thought disgustedly as he turned around and walked towards the stables to retrieve a broom which was lying carelessly on the ground two meters away from them.
Reaching for it, he heaved a sigh of relief upon seeing the words `Nimbus 2001´ embossed on its shiny broom handle. For a moment, he had been afraid that it was Harry´s broom and not his. The thought of his broom buried deep in that damn pit hole and actually going back to fish it out of there made his stomach lurch and his anger flare even more. He was about to turn around once again, when he saw another broom resting five steps away from him. He frowned momentarily and without even bothering to check if the broom´ was Harry´s, he finally decided to take it with him as well. He slung his own broom over his shoulder and sulkily dragged the other one.
Harry frowned and sniffed lightly. Then his face scrunched with disgust. He turned clean, all right but the spell didn´t particularly eradicate the awful stench of the horse dung. Then he looked at Draco´s nearing form darkly, who had two brooms in each of hand. Okay, fine, I forgot, he thought. So Draco knew the correct spell to use. He was bloody and freaking brilliant and all now, but he didn´t have to act so smug about it, right? Mumbling and grumbling out his displeasure, he turned to his son and muttered the same spell Draco used. Then positioning his wand against himself, he did the same, too busy to even notice that Draco was carelessly towing his broom against the hard, rocky ground.
"Oy, Potter!" Draco suddenly called out churlishly and tossed the other broom into the air, into his direction. "Catch!"
Harry looked out, his free hand reflexively shooting up into the air to seize his broom. Then he looked at his now-tidy son who was staring up at him with wide, green eyes. In the presence of little Nathan, Harry let out a sigh as he was compelled to say the appropriate word in the situation. "Thanks," he mumbled unwillingly as Draco finally reached them. Then his voice turned cold once again. "Where to now?"
"We´ll walk," replied Draco as if Harry was stupid. He walked past him, dragging his broom carelessly behind him.
To speak frankly, it would have been much easier to flick his wand and apparate, but then Draco found himself considering Nathan. They couldn´t possibly apparate, taking the little boy with them. It would be risky to do so. Well, he could always apparate himself and leave Potter and his son alone to walk but remembering the curious things his grandfather had planted in his manor grounds, Draco found himself reluctantly walking with them and guiding them. As of now, he was currently responsible should anything bad happen to Ginny. And he surely didn´t want to add Four-eyed Moron and his son to his amounting worries should they find themselves being digested alive inside the stomach of a Manticore or an Acromantula, if his grandfather did have one, that is. Such a thought would terribly compel him to leave the country as a fugitive with all the Weasleys after his head.
"Watch out for the Snapping Plants, they bite," he found himself saying after a moment, both their eyes already adjusting in the dark.
"Oh don´t worry, Malfoy," said Harry sarcastically, as he lifted his son into his arms. He took a step, following the other man before him. "I was actually expecting something dreadful here. After all, he´s your grandfather and everything."
Draco snorted as he carefully treaded the patch of grassland, checking for small, foot-eating Murtlaps, Imps and Gnomes. "You´d be surprised, Potter, of what I keep in my own grounds," he said while kicking an ugly-looking gnome out of his way. The Gnome, in turn, shouted out something vile and rude before running away from them. "Things you´d least expect."
Harry found himself gulping instead upon seeing a couple of gnomes now popping out from the ground, no doubt alerted by the sudden disturbance. After all, he didn´t particularly like gnomes. Not after the almost harrowing experience he had with them during his second year. And there was absolutely no way in this whole universe he would let Malfoy know about it! He took a deep breath and started kicking hard at the hideous creature standing before his shoe just like Draco did, not showing any signs of weaknesses or mercy.
"What made you quit being a jerk, anyway?"
Harry looked up. "What?" he asked as he kicked another gnome out of the way. He smiled inwardly, finally getting the hang of the gnome-kicking thing. He stomped his feet and pretended sorely not to hear, better yet, not to understand.
"Oh you heard me, Potter!" Draco barked as he evaded a Murtlap running before him. "Don´t make me elaborate it because I guarantee you, you´ll be terribly insulted."
Harry finally stopped and frowned thoughtfully. Somehow he couldn´t really say anything cutting or nasty to Draco since it was the truth. He had been a terrible jerk lately, to Ginny especially. "Well, it´s rather personal, actually," he finally replied. Draco stopped and turned to him, his face having the usual mask of unknown emotions on it. "But then, I know- when Ginny meant business and the talk we had earlier- well, she really meant business."
"Which is?" Draco prodded and continued walking again. He tried his best to sound nonchalant and uninterested about it but in truth, he was! He was very, very interested. He raised his eyebrows slowly at Harry, casually waiting, and gave him a look that said `it makes no difference to me should you tell me something or not.´
"She made up her mind to go back to you, though I couldn´t really understand why," replied Harry truthfully. Then he shook his head. "And at that moment, I knew, I saw it in her eyes, there was nothing I could do about it. Ginny can be really stubborn if she wants to. She´s her own boss."
When Draco just shrugged in answer, they continued the walk in heavy silence. They turned left, walked a bit more and were about to reach the enormous doors of the manor, when Harry spoke again. "The last Quidditch match," he started softly, remembering his last conversation with Ginny.
They reached the enormous front porch. Draco turned to him, his eyebrows up in a notch.
He looked back at Draco, his face unreadable. "Why did you lose?" he asked.
Draco focused his sense of vision before the door at the question. "What the hell are you talking about?" he asked gruffly. He rapped the door thrice and waited, not in the mood for some freaking heart-to-heart, memory lane talk with the other man.
"Our last Quidditch match," insisted Harry, ignoring Draco´s obvious attempts to drop the subject. "Come on, Malfoy! I know you know what I mean!" he exclaimed, shifting his son on his other arm. "Why did you lose?"
Draco stared at him for a moment. Seeing Harry´s awaiting expression, he let out an impatient sigh as he decided to answer just to shut Harry up. "I got distracted," he finally replied, his voice hushed, enigmatic.
"Why did you save her?"
Draco frowned, obviously annoyed with the `unnecessary and stupid´ questions. "I don´t like seeing someone die in front of me, all right?" he growled without thinking. "Might give me nightmares." Then he looked away, his face turning soft, the frown that grazed his eyebrows, disappearing.
Harry frowned at the cold, careless reply. It was quite obvious that there was a deeper answer to it. Draco´s sudden change of expression confirmed that. "But then what?" he thought curiously. "Did we just underestimate the cold-hearted Draco Malfoy? Did we just expect him not to do anything right?"
Draco looked at Harry out of the corner of his eyes and noting the blank look on his face, felt reassured that Harry didn´t get what he had actually meant.
He decided to ignore Harry and turned his attention back to the door, reluctantly remembering the way Ginny looked back then. Somehow, with her sitting atop her broom, speeding downwards, her hair flying freely around her, framing her pretty face, her scarlet Quidditch robes rippling about her small, lithe body like swirls of crimson wings- somehow the sight of her had caught his attention.
He clearly remembered stopping, mid-way in the air, not caring if Harry was way ahead of him. He temporarily forgot about the Snitch. There was just something about the way she looked back then, the fact that she still managed to look so dainty and femininely sweet despite the determined look on her face, that momentarily made him stop and stare, mesmerized. Well, he couldn´t deny that he had started noticing the blossoming Weasley girl when she had reached her fifth year, and that he had occasionally fantasized about her especially when she had reached her sixth year. But at that particular moment, she never looked so beautiful, so gorgeously domineering and attractive. And then, when he saw the Bludger coming towards her, something inside him just snapped.
Forgetting about the Quidditch match, he had sailed quickly towards her just in time after the Bludger had hit her, and he had caught her... the supple body he had been staring at suddenly and dangerously close against him... his strong hands automatically wrapping around her waist... then kissing her. It wasn´t because of the wizard´s debt he had gone to save her, actually. He had thought about that just AFTER helping her back to her feet. It made him wonder. It had never occurred to him that on that particular day that he could actually be, well, human.
"You saw her too, didn´t you?" Draco asked after a moment, forcing his mind back from his memories. "I know you did."
"Yes," said Harry quietly. Surprisingly, he didn´t have the heart to deny it.
At that, Draco let out a humorless chuckle, looking straight ahead. "I just can´t believe the boy-who-lived did nothing."
Harry, found himself lost for words for a moment. Oblivious to Draco, he looked guiltily away from him. "I-- was torn between what my fellow Gryffindors would say if I lost that particular match to you Slytherins, and what would eventually happen to Ginny," he replied heavily. "That was the biggest mistake on my part. I see that now."
"Can´t believe that the man who defeated nature´s biggest mistake had, indeed, admitted to having committed one himself,Draco thought unfeelingly. He was fully aware that to the whole wizarding world, Harry Potter could do no wrong. He silently accepted that fact, though. Considering the person he had been before, Harry Potter was indeed someone better than him, which resulted to a couple of unexplained insecurities within himself. "So The-boy-who-lived is human after all." But then--
Draco shook his head in disgust. Although he did clearly understand how difficult Harry´s predicament was back then, since people expected Harry to do what was best for EVERYBODY, he was actually in no mood to hear Harry feel sorry about it now. Actually, he was a bit irked about the whole thing. Of all the people he had least expected not to do the right thing for his bestfriend´s sister-- And now, here he was, feeling sorry about everything? It was too late for that now, wasn´t it?
"Then it was a good thing I was there," was all he said as the door creaked open.
Harry looked down momentarily, understanding befalling upon him full force. That was probably what Ginny saw in Draco. She had thought about and understood everything. It was without a doubt that Draco suffered greatly after losing that last Quidditch match. Everybody at Hogwarts knew how his fellow Slytherins hated him, despised him after it but then- He shook his head. He knew Draco had thought about the consequences, within those fast and crucial three seconds, should he go after Ginny and forget about capturing the Snitch. He knew because he had thought about it too. The only difference was Draco thought about her, and he thought about winning. Well, not that he didn´t care about her at all. Actually, he did! But he was just so sure that one of his teammates would eventually catch her. It was just not his lucky day that it was Draco who had caught her and-
"Young master Draco!"
Harry looked up, his thoughts shattered. His eyes widened in surprise upon seeing the shocked expression of the ghost butler in front of them. The ghost, in turn, focused his almost translucent eyes on the surprised Harry standing beside his young master.
"And- Mr. Potter," said Fields. Then much to Harry´s astonishment, the ghost´s usual unemotional face began to crack as it frowned in obvious confusion. Fields looked back at Draco then quickly back at Harry again in wonderment. "Mr. Potter?"
Draco ignored the shocked look his butler gave them. "Where´s my grandfather, Fields?" he demanded as he importantly pushed his way inside the manor without waiting for an invitation. The ghost immediately floated out of the way seeing the determined look on his grim face. "I need to speak to him immediately."
He threw his broom carelessly aside together with his heavy coat and marched directly inside the manor´s dark and gloomy interior, his every step echoing forebodingly inside the still, eerie silence of the huge house.
Harry saw no other choice but to step inside as well. He let little Nathan down on the floor and propped his broom carefully against the wall. Taking his son by the hand, he hastily followed Draco´s charging form, unmindful of the uninviting atmosphere about them.
Now that is really something, he thought as he saw the flow of emotions crossing the ghost´s face. This was actually the first time he saw a ghost butler acting so- so- well, almost chaotic and frantic. Fields was actually not in total control of the situation, which was very, very seldom for ghost butlers.
Recovering from the shock, Fields hastily floated towards the emphatic young Malfoy. At the sight of a persistent Draco before him, he could do nothing but roll his eyes heavenwards and give in. First it was the unkempt young Mistress. Now, it was the unrestrained, near-to-crazy young Master who decided to have an odd night stroll at an ungodly hour with his lifetime nemesis, Harry Potter who, for the love of god, decided that it was a splendid idea to take a grinning young boy and dangle him from his arms while promenading around the manor´s dark grounds! What was next? A pack of Goblins going door to door, giving out all the money in Gringgots shouting and singing `This job stinks! We quit!´? Or a horde of Centaurs actually in desperate need of human interaction and contact, eager to have a fortune-telling discussion for three sickles each session?
Oh good lord, here we go again," said Field´s, obviously not knowing what to do anymore. "Oh, what´s the use?" he secretly lamented, having no other alternative but to give in. "Master Malfoy is inside his chambers," he called out bleakly after Draco who was now climbing up the stairs with silent enmity. For the first time in his after life, he never felt so damn jumbled up and disorganized! And nothing was more shameful, more disgraceful-
"Fields," Harry called out suddenly amidst the frantic and urgent atmosphere surrounding them. The poor, confused butler stopped and turned to him, its self-pitying thoughts broken. "Did Ginny, by any chance, drop by? Was she here?"
At that, Draco stopped in his tracks and turned around upon hearing Harry´s rational voice behind him. He looked at Fields expectantly.
"Well, apparently, sir, the- young Mistress indeed dropped by to see how Master Malfoy was doing and-"
"Ginny!" Draco roared as he turned around and continued on his way, this time taking two steps at a time. "Virginia!"
Harry rolled his eyes disgustedly. He couldn´t help but think that when the name `Virginia´ and the word `vanity´ and `Armani suits´ were brought up, Draco would always have this weird tendency to lose what´s left of his thinning and almost non-existent common sense.
"But- you- you just missed her since she just left, five minutes ago, young Master!" Fields called out desperately. They were now currently making their way inside the second floor hallway when Draco stopped again.
"What do you mean I just missed her?" he yelled. When Fields found no real and concrete answer to this, Draco let out an almost inaudible grumble of displeasure and continued on his way, with the apologetic-looking Harry following him.
"Young Master!" Fields hastily floated beside him. "Please, I really don´t think that Master Malfoy would approve your-"
"There goes the door,"thought Harry pitifully.
"Barging in unannounced," continued Fields lamely. Then he looked up and wailed. "Heaven´s above! What did I do to deserve this?"
Draco had already kicked the doors open, not even bothering to knock first. He ignored Fields, and with gritted teeth, kicked the other wooden entryway open. For the first time, Harry couldn´t do or say anything helpful or cutting. This was a side of Draco he hadn´t seen before or actually possessed. Draco Malfoy was actually acting RIGHTFULLY bossy and effectively in control, minus the vanity and the yelling, that is. Instead, he pulled little Nathan with him and quickly followed Draco inside the chamber like an obedient boy following his father in awe.
"Grandfather!" he bellowed, now fully enraged, the thought of slugging him because of the disgusting Portkey Point already forgotten. He marched inside the dark, damp chamber with Harry and his son following wordlessly behind him, leaving the hazy and moaning form of Fields, mumbling nonsense at the door. "Grandfather!"
"I could´ve earned 50 Galleons on this particular night if not for Virginia´s dislike of gambling, did you know that? I told her, for 50 Galleons, that you´d soon be rushing in here."
Hearing the unstrained voice before him, Draco took a deep breath, repressing breath, "Where is my wife, grandfather?" he asked, forcing himself to be cool, calm and rational. "She was here, Fields told me."
Vladimir smiled as his reply and whispered "Incendia." Instantly, strong fire leapt out from his wand only to land against his fireplace, illuminating the dark room with a bright light yellow-orange glow. He stepped into the light with a smile that didn´t reach his eyes.
"What does it look like, boy?" he asked deliberately, his translucent eyes looking directly at him, light amber shadow tiers dancing upon them. When the light of the fire illuminated his clear, almost glistening pallid eyes, they turned sharp, almost like a cat´s. He was staring at him intensely, like a hungry predator ready to pounce on his prey.
Seeing Vladimir´s new form before him, Draco´s eyes unwillingly widened with shock and surprise. He swallowed hard and thought about taking his wand out. But then, what good would that do? He was dealing with something beyond human here. Standing before him was a full-bodied vampire, complete with the fangs and the pale skin. He frowned fearfully. Did Ginny-- Cold sweat broke inside him at the thought of Ginny being- Draco´s face suddenly changed from surprise to anger.
Seeing the man before them, Harry, in turn, tightened his grip on his son´s hands and protectively pulled him closer .
Surprisingly, Draco didn´t feel one bit scared facing a full-fledged vampire. Thinking about Ginny, he didn´t have the heart to chicken out of this. He took a step forward, his eyes narrowing menacingly. "Be careful of what you say," he said threateningly as he took his wand out of his pocket. He made his way towards his grandfather, looking dangerous, his eyes saying murder, "because if I suddenly find myself not liking even a single bit of it, I might forget that you´re my Grandfather, do you understand?"
The vampire let out an amused snort. "Are you forgetting that I´m already immortal, boy?" asked Vladimir. It was clear to all that he was immensely enjoying this. "Threatening or killing me won´t help, you know."
"Believe me when I say I´m not stupid," spat Draco back. Then he turned to the tongue-tied Harry whom was staring at them, completely unsure of what to do or say. "Will you excuse us for a minute, Potter?" he asked.
Harry, feeling like an intruder caught in a web of family feuds and intrigue, reluctantly nodded in agreement. "Of-- of course, Malfoy," he said. After all, he had no business there. Well, as of now, he quickly added to himself, but later on- "I´ll be right outside." Then without another word, he hastily made his way out the door, pulling his little son with him.
Once alone, Draco focused his attentions back to his grandfather again. He took a deep breath. "For the last time," he began, his eyes narrowing dangerously, "where is my wife, Grandfather?"
A slow smirk grazed Vladimir´s clear, flawless face. "Wife you say?" he said tauntingly. Then he gave him a snake-like smile. "Whatever made you sure that you still have a wife, boy?"
"Where," he pointed his wand at his grandfather´s neck, his breath already flaring angrily "is my wife, Grandfather?"
"Sod off, lad! You doesn´t deserve a woman of such great character!" exclaimed Vladimir, pushing Draco gruffly away from him with his immortal strength that the other man momentarily found himself staggering backwards. Then he smirked cruelly. "She is better off alone and without the likes of you, boy! So I suggest that you do her a favor, go home, spend a glorious time with your whores, drink to your heart´s content and forget about her!"
Draco´s chest heaved as he took in precious air.
Vladimir walked away from him and made his way towards his night table. Deftly opening his drawer, he fished out his pipe and his lighter. He placed it in between his lips while his other hand busied itself with the lighter. He lit his pipe and took his first delicious drag.
"You could always claim a dead or a lost wife, you know, I doubt you´ll ever see her again, anyway," he murmured against the smooth wooden pipe in his mouth, a cloud of smoke against his face. "I´ll leave all the money to you anyway, even though my death clock stopped ticking. I have no use for it." He smirked. "Wallow yourself in the fortune. It´s quite large to last you a lifetime." Then he sat down on his leather couch, took his favorite book and began reading leisurely.
Seeing that, Draco´s breathing became ragged as the beginnings of rage swelled inside him.
Still feeling Draco´s presence in the room, Vladimir looked up from his reading and frowned. "What are you waiting for, boy?" he barked. "Away with you now! I don´t have anything else to say to you!"
But Draco didn´t move, his eyes narrowing dangerously. He looked at his grandfather´s relaxed form in silent fury.
"Are you deaf or just stupid?" Vladimir exclaimed irritably. "Go home, boy!" he ordered harshly, this time giving more emphasis on the word `boy.´
But still, Draco didn´t move. He continued staring at his grandfather.
Vladimir frowned, this time, angrily. "I said, GO HOME, BOY!" he shouted again.
"Not this time,"Draco thought fiercely. "All my life, I always did what he ordered me to do. That´s what he expected because he had a lot of money." He felt his eyes blaze with fury. "But not this time! He doesn´t fucking own us! Screw the money!"
Just then, Draco felt something inside him snap. Without thinking, he took big quick strides towards his grandfather, took him by his collar, lifted him up into the air and slammed him against the wall. Too angry to even puzzle about the unusual burst of strength, he quickly held his hand around Vladimir´s neck, molding it against his palm and lifted him three inches above the floor. He knew he was mad to even do something like this to his `rich benefactor´ but he didn´t care! He pinned him against the stone partition gruffly, deaf to the agonized cry that came out of the vampire´s lips. The surprised vampire could do nothing but to drop his pipe uselessly on the floor and bare his fangs at Draco threateningly, his hands, finally dropping the book, completely useless.
"I see, you´ve inherited my inhuman strength," quipped Vladimir through choked breath. "If not vampirism, I suppose-"
"Tell me where she is now!" Draco yelled at his face. "I know you know something! If anything should happen to Ginny, if she dies, I will never forgive you, Grandfather! I swear, on-"
"Swearing, boy?" Vladimir asked aloud. Surprisingly, his voice came out in a hiss-like tone, eerie and dreadful to the ear. It was a voice of a thousand demons, a thousand unimaginable, evil things. "And what, might I ask, would you swear upon, eh?" Then he smiled cruelly. "Your father´s grave?" he asked tauntingly.
Draco fell silent at this. Instead, he tightened his grip against the other man´s pale throat, squeezing more air out of him. It was a very unusual sight to behold. A mortal man besting the undead!
At that Vladimir let out a soft snort. "Not that special, I suppose? Can´t even find his grave," he continued provokingly. He sneered at him through his iron grip. "Face it, boy, you´re miserable! You´re pathetic! You don´t even have someone to protect, someone to hold dear. Why? Because you don´t know how to. You have pushed everybody, especially the only woman who could stand the likes of you, away till you had nobody but your miserable self. And again, do you know why? Because you have a bastard for a father who suffered the most dishonorable death. He has a death and you have a father that´s better forgotten. It´s just you and you, all along, can´t you see? Your life has been a humorless joke just like what your father´s life had been! No direction at all! And nothing, in this whole damn world, can ever change that!"
Draco´s chest twisted as he felt the soft blow of the older man´s words. It was actually the truth but then again- he had been different with Ginny, right? She changed him completely. He was different! He was far better than his father! He took quick, calming breaths in order to hide the undeniable pain the words unexpectedly brought him. "I´m not like my father," he said to himself firmly, swallowing hard. "I´m not like him! I´m nothing like him!"
"If you don´t stop you´re senseless prattling right this very minute," growled Draco instead, getting more furious by the second, desperately trying to be brave and indifferent, "I´ll personally see to it that it will be your grave that I, my son and my son´s children will swear upon!"
Upon Draco´s reply, Vladimir found himself staring at his grandson´s infuriated face quite oddly at first. Then after several seconds of just looking and staring, a loud, amused laugh escaped his smooth lips. Apparently, it was a wrong move since it increased Draco´s ire, causing him to tighten his grip on his neck even more, which resulted to another series of hacking and coughing for the vampire, ceasing his laughter.
"Children?" he asked instead, his voice already getting hoarse. "And what makes you think that you will have children? You don´t even like commitment! You don´t even like getting married!"
Draco shook his head impatiently, ignoring the fact that Vladimir already knew the awful money-making scheme. He knew the old man was stalling, hoping that he would just get tired of interrogating him, walk away and leave. But with Draco´s present situation with Ginny, there was just no way in this world he would do that and give the older man the satisfaction of seeing him shamefully give up. Vladimir Malfoy would have no other choice but to tell him where Ginny was even if he had to strangle him and wring the information out of his mangled throat!
"My wife suddenly went missing," he started, his voice a dangerous whisper, "and someone is out to finish her off. Now, Fields informed me that she was here a while ago and unless you tell me where she is right now, then she will die."
Vladimir´s face turned serious. "Why should I tell you?" he asked viciously. "Who knows? You might be the one who wants her dead. After all, you have all the reasons to kill her."
Draco´s stone cold eyes suddenly turned soft. "Just tell me, grandfather." Surprisingly, there was a hint of pleading in his voice.
"She came here, so afraid and crying," said Vladimir. "I felt her pain, the one that you´ve caused."
"Please tell me before it´s too late," implored Draco. "I beg of you, grandfather just--," he paused. He took a deep exasperated breath and looked up, "Damn, I never beg but-"
"Give me one good reason."
At that, Draco´s face finally changed from anger to confusion. He found his strength leaving him as memories of Ginny played inside his head, over and over again. "You were right," he said, his voice almost a whisper. "My life´s a terrible joke, going in no direction at all." He reluctantly let go of Vladimir´s neck and made his way towards the bed only to slump himself tiredly on it, his hands covering his face and heaving out a very tired sigh. "Until Ginny came."
Vladimir, in turn, dropped heavily on the floor. He choked and gagged when a sudden gush of air swept inside his throat. He doubled over, feeling terribly sick, feeling as if he wanted to throw up. He clutched his sore neck and eyed Draco darkly after the series coughs subsided.
"Give me," Vladimir paused and took air with much difficulty, "one good reason," he hoarsely said again.
"I´ll give you three," replied Draco automatically. He took a deep breath, his eyes starting to glaze as he found himself being swept up in the swirl of colored memories he had with her. "The first time I saw her, she was sitting atop her broom, the wind against her, and she never looked so beautiful." He stopped as a light smile played on his lips. "The second time was when I watched her sleeping. She was sitting on the couch, eyes closed. She was like an angel and again, she never looked so beautiful." Then he turned to his grandfather, his gray eyes still blank. "The third time was when I saw her cry. And nothing pained me more, seeing her eyes shining with tears, her body heaving as little sobs wracked her-" He shook his head in wonderment. He was talking like there was nobody there. "It was just now that I realized that I fell in love with the same woman three times," he whispered to himself, not caring if Vladimir heard it or not. Then his face turned misty. "And I´ve never done something like that all my life! Something tells me to get to her... to see her...That´s- that´s what the only thing I feel right now..."
Hearing that, Vladimir watched his grandson´s face closely and found nothing but truth in it. When Draco mumbled something incoherent with his eyes shining in wonderment and unhidden fulfillment, his voice having that far-away tone to it, Vladimir knew at that moment, that he had already crossed the line, reached the other side and finally made the first step to a completely different level of maturity. And that was the proof he was waiting for. He didn´t want to accept it but he found himself reluctantly commending his once wretched grandson.
He couldn´t deny that Draco had indeed changed for the better when he lost his father, quite what he didn´t expect actually. He took care of his mother and the family´s finances and got married, though against his will. But then, he did a complete 360 degree turn when Virginia came into his life. He had finally developed a sense of responsibility, not because he had no choice but because he wanted to. He saw himself in him and not his blasted son, Lucius, which again surprised him.
"The boy´s got balls after all,"he said to himself. Holding that last thought, he shook his head and sighed with resignation. He finally stood up to get his complicated book of spells from inside his drawers.
"Then let´s get a move on," Vladimir growled as he made his way towards the bed and sat before him. He opened the book and busily scanned it, his wand on his other hand. "We don´t want to waste too much time listening to your sappy stories, do we?" Then he swore softly at no one in particular. "I can´t believe I forgot how that blasted Charm worked!" He flipped through the book impatiently. "Ruddy half-witted spells!"
Snapping out, Draco blinked his eyes. Was he hearing right? "You´re going to help me?" he asked, baffled at his grandfather´s sudden change of heart.
"What does it look like?" Vladimir barked, not even bothering to look up. "Pillock!" he grumbled loudly.
Draco for a moment, gave him a dark, foreboding look. But it was quite unsatisfying since the old man was too busy flipping through his book to even pay him much attention. After a moment of sitting and staring, he spoke again. "Wait. So the one who turned you into a vampire was Ginny? You didn´t kill her?" he asked, looking at the new Vladimir sitting across from him.
"Stubborn girl wouldn´t leave me alone!" Vladimir exclaimed as he busily riffled the pages of his thick, leather bound and heavy book of spells. "She´s very much alive. I´m her secret keeper, mind you. She commissioned me to perform the Fidelius Charm on her and as you can see it, I´m about to betray her." Vladimir now didn´t have second thoughts reversing the charm for Draco. Judging from his grandson´s new outlook in life, he was so sure that Draco knew what he was doing. Unwillingly, he found himself trusting this pompous `man.´
"You didn´t kill her?" Draco echoed instead, totally confused. His eyes were wide with surprise.
Vladimir stopped abruptly. He turned to him and gave him a look that said `there is something terribly wrong with you, isn´t there?´
Draco immediately got his meaning. "I- I mean considering that you are now one of the undead and--," he stopped momentarily. Noting the look that his grandfather gave him- he never felt so stupid. And he hated it! He sighed impatiently. "Surely you couldn´t blame me for suspecting something fishy going on about!" Draco protested. "You didn´t drink her blood. You didn´t drink my blood. You´re a vampire. What´s your catch?" he asked suspiciously.
"Oy, dream on! And what makes you think that I´m dying to have a taste of yours?" Vladimir exclaimed. "Excuse me, but I don´t want to drink YOUR blood! Foul stuff you´ve got there," he continued, his face scrunching with disgust. "And besides, Snape was here a while ago. He gave me his anti-vampire serum. I am to take it regularly, as it eradicates my desire for blood."
"Oh," Draco murmured thoughtfully. Then he frowned with displeasure. "Hey, what do you mean by my blood being foul?"
The older man rolled his eyes. "Finally! Took you forever to notice, eh?" Then he looked at him with disgusted amusement. "Still vain as ever, Draco?" he asked with rancor.
Draco was about to answer back when his grandfather finally let out a satisfied cry, obviously finding the spell he was looking for. When his grandfather positioned his wand against him, Draco frowned as realizations coursed through him.
For the first time in his life, Vladimir Malfoy II actually called him using his name.
Now, that was an improvement!
Reluctantly, he smiled.
"It´s not like I wanted that to happen, you know."
Harry turned sideways only to see the huge, childish grin Nathan granted him. He sighed and fondly ruffled his son´s hair. It had been a while since he left Draco to settle something with his grandfather. Now, he found himself sitting just beside the door, on a chair Fields got for him, waiting for Draco anxiously, like a father expecting a new-born baby just like in the movies, and talking quietly with his son. Although, it was clear that Nathan couldn´t understand any of the things he was saying, still it was comforting to know that someone who didn´t have a sarcastic bone in his body was actually listening.
"I really cared about her. I really did. It´s just that that Malfoy prat there caught her first," he paused and turned his attention back at the door, wondering just what mayhem Draco was causing in there right that very minute. From the look he saw in Draco´s eyes, and from the unyielding expression he saw in Vladimir´s, it wouldn´t surprise him now to find Draco pale and weak with two puncture marks on his neck later on. Then he settled his eyes back at his son. "Now, what have you to say, short man?" he asked.
Nathan looked up momentarily. "Daddy?" was all he could think of saying. Well, frankly, it was the only word he could say as of now, other than `Ginny´ and `Malfy.´ Despite the current situation, Harry found himself laughing softly as he playfully ruffled his hair into disarray. The little boy giggled with delight, thinking that it was another new game, obviously unaware of how strained everything was at the moment.
It was really hard to believe that before, he couldn´t even bring himself to look at this boy right after his wife died of childbirth. Somehow, it was really painful to look at Nathan, knowing that everytime his eyes would land on his face, he would remember Cho. Then remembering Cho would make him remember the pain of losing her. It took him a couple of months before he actually pulled himself through, with the help of Ron and Hermione. It was also that time when his son uttered his first word.
He remembered clearly. It was a hot summer night and he was having his usual dinner with the whole Weasley lot. Hermione was holding his son in her arms, Ron was holding Sylvia, and they were outside the house, in the patio, waiting to be called for dinner. Hermione was asking him to pay attention because Nathan had learned a new word. But he wouldn´t listen. He wouldn´t even look. Then an argument broke out. Hermione was really angry and amidst the raised and affected voices around him, Nathan smiled innocently and uttered `dada.´ That made him stop. Reluctantly, he searched for the voice that wittingly stirred his senses and found his son looking up at him with those bright green eyes, so very much like his. He had looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. When his son smiled, instantly, his chest jolted, warmth spreading inside him and he never felt so happy, so satisfied. The empty and aching space inside him instantly filled.
"Daddy?" Nathan asked wonderingly. He noticed the misty look on his father´s face. He placed his little hand on his arm, his smile withering a little and called him again. "Daddy?"
Harry pushed the memories away and forced himself to smile. "Yes, son?" he asked. He was about to muss little Nathan´s hair again when the door beside them suddenly burst open. Harry immediately stood up to see a pensive-looking Draco emerging from it.
"What? What happened? Where is she?" Harry demanded as Draco hurriedly walked past him. Harry quickened his gait and went after him, leaving Nathan staring after them. "Did you learn anything?"
"She´s at the Burrow," replied Draco promptly. "Grandfather told me everything." He raked his fingers through his hair and was about to step down the stairs when Harry spoke smugly.
"I told you she could be at the Burrow," said the other man while crossing his arms over his chest. "Coming here was a total waste of time."
Draco stopped and turned to him. "She´s under the Fidelius Charm with my Grandfather as her secret keeper, idiot," he hissed. "Even if I would have gone directly to the Burrow I wouldn´t have been able to see her. She doesn´t want me to find her, don´t you remember?"
"Then I really think it´s your problem, Malfoy," quipped Harry. He smirked nastily at him, taking the opportunity to be all cruel and sarcastic while Nathan was busy poking Fields, who suddenly popped out of nowhere to check on his Master´s condition, to no avail.
Draco smiled at him maliciously. "It always has been, Potter," he replied acerbically. "After all, she is my wife."
That suddenly shut Harry up. Instead, he rolled his eyes tiredly and called for his son. "So where to now?" he asked while Nathan made his way towards them, running.
"Well, I´m going to the Burrow and look for Ginny while you," Draco paused and sailed down the stairs, "you can do pretty much what you want to do." He took his coat from the floor and draped it over his shoulders.
"Ha, ha, very funny," said Harry, irritably. Then his face turned grim. "I´m serious, Malfoy," he started. Draco stopped abruptly, turning to him. "I meant what I said back there. I´m going to help Ginny."
Draco momentarily stared at him. Finally, he nodded with a rueful sigh. "I know," he growled as Harry proceeded to get his broom, which was propped against the wall just beside the door. "Same plans."
At that, Harry turned to him incredelously. "Are you crazy?" he exclaimed. He took Nathan by the hand and pulled the boy closer to him. "There is no way in this world that I would leave my son in that room, alone with a full-fledged, eccentric vampire especially with a last name like yours, Malfoy!"
"Oh come on, Potter!" Draco said with exasperation. "He´s my grandfather and he absolutely won´t hurt Nathan! He may be a vampire, yes, but Snape´s been giving him his daily dose of anti-vampire serum! It makes him almost mortal." Still Harry looked unconvinced. Seeing that, Draco sighed impatiently. "Just look at me!" He swung his right arm before his face till his eyes nearly crossed each other behinds his glasses, looking at it. "Not pale! Not bloody! No puncture marks! Very alive!"
"Oh get real! It´s you we´re talking about! Who would even want to drink your blood, Malfoy?" Harry asked with disgust. "You would be the last person Count Dracula would-"
"I simply refuse to stand here and take all this," said Draco, clearly incensed. It was obvious that he was already losing his patience. "I have come to the sudden conclusion that I really don´t freaking care about what you do! Your son is your problem. I´m going! Leave him here if you want to come and- meddle!"
"NO!" Harry exclaimed stubbornly.
Draco frowned, annoyed. "Fine!" he cried out as he picked his broom up next. "Be that way!" He turned away from him, opened the door and stepped outside, dragging his broom behind him. Harry followed and watched the other man mounting his own broom with subtle fury. Draco turned momentarily and smirked at him sardonically. "You stay here and watch for your son while I go there and sort things out. Wait for my owl! Or better yet, take him with us. Use your broom and see him fall off. I´ll wait for you to get there tomorrow!"
Harry was about to answer back when he felt Nathan frantically tugging at his shirt. Harry looked down, puzzled, forgetting Draco. "Yes son?" he asked. Then he frowned when he saw his son fearfully looking up at him.
"Ginny," Nathan breathed, his eyes wide with fright, his voice almost a whisper. "Ginny."
At that, Harry immediately turned to Draco who was about to kick off from the ground and shot up into the night, calling him urgently.
Hearing his name, Draco stopped and turned to him, obviously pissed. "What now?" he grouched.
Harry looked at his son´s direction as his reply. Draco´s eyes followed suit. Seeing the little boy´s frightened face, his grumpy demeanor changed to that of being concerned. He hopped down from his broom and knelt before him. "What do you see?" Draco asked, taking the boy by the shoulders. "Come on, Nathan, what do you see?"
But the boy just remained there, staring at him fearfully. "Ginny," he whispered.
Hearing and seeing that was enough to send Draco´s nerves jump with fear and anxiety. He shook his head and stood up, getting frantic by the minute. Ginny! He had to get to her at once!
"Damn it!" he softly exclaimed, feeling helpless for the first time in his life.
"I´m coming with you, Malfoy," came Harry´s firm voice. He protectively picked his trembling son up in his arms.
Draco turned to him. "I have to get there now, Potter," he declared loudly as he prepared to mount his broom again, his voice stern but grasping for some understanding. "I have to get to her with or without your help."
"Wait!" exclaimed Harry. Draco stopped and waited. "Think about it, Malfoy. We don´t know what she´s up against. Judging from everything that has happened and Nathan´s obvious fear, surely its something bad or evil! Don´t you think it would be much better to have two wizard´s there than one?"
"I know! But we don´t have much time! I-"
"I just remembered," he started thoughtfully, "Yes, we can take him with us. Mr. Weasley has a Portkey Point built up in his backyard. We could use your portable Portkey to get there." Then he shook his head in disgust. "There is nothing in this world that will ever make me go back in your grandfather´s Portkey Point so I think it would be much wiser to use yours instead."
Draco nodded slowly. "Well, we could do that but." He stopped and looked at little Nathan, feeling suddenly unsure. "I don´t think we should take Nathan with us, Potter. You said it yourself, we don´t know what´s in there right now and-" he broke off upon seeing the beginnings of an argument written across Harry´s face. He sighed, turning away from him. "Look, I just have a bad feeling about this, okay? I really don´t think that it would be a good idea to take your son with us."
"So what do you suggest we do, Mr. I-can-see-the-future-so-we-do-what-I-say?" Harry asked sarcastically. When Draco gave him a stony look, he immediately shut his mouth, feeling a little guilty. He knew it wasn´t helpful to be sarcastic at a time like this but he couldn´t control himself.
Seeing Harry´s not-so-repentant stare, Draco looked away thoughtfully as he tried his best not to panic. As of now, they didn´t know what they were up against. It would be really advisable if Harry would show up later. If they had to face a duel, then it would be better if he went first. He would try his best to hold whatever it was off and fight it. But if worse came to worse, if something really, really bad should happen to him, then at least he would have Potter to carry through, securing Ginny´s safety. After a moment of thinking, he turned to him and said, "Why don´t you take him to my mother?"
"Uh, how?" Harry asked as he shifted his son to his other arm. "Are you forgetting that it would be risky to use brooms here?"
"You can´t use my Portkey to get to the Manor because I don´t have a strategic point built up there," Draco murmured thoughtfully, deaf to Harry´s voice. "Travelling through Floo powder is out of the question since I have all the fireplaces temporarily disconnected from the Floo Network. Apparating is not advisable since you have to be licensed, which is clearly different from Nathan´s case." He stopped and turned to Harry´s awaiting expression. "You can use the carriages," he finally said. Then he nodded vigorously at no one in particular while making his way back inside the manor. "Yes, that´s it! You can use the carriages. Malfoy Manor is not that far from here."
Harry found himself nodding as well. "Okay, so when I finally get to the Burrow I´d probably find the perpetrator already dead but nevertheless see and hear some action from the both of you, smooching your way up to Bulgaria or something that-"
Draco looked at him disgustedly.
Harry, seeing that, mercifully shut up and gave him an apologetic look. "Okay, I know I´m not being helpful, here."
Draco rolled his eyes and continued. "You use my Portkey, Potter." He stopped and suddenly yelled. "Fields!" Then he turned to Harry once again while waiting for the ghost. "After dropping your son off in Malfoy Manor, you can use my Portkey to get to the Burrow. The timing would be perfect." He nodded, satisfied with the plan. "Yes, you´d make it on time."
"In time for what?" Harry asked, frowning.
Draco ignored him. Just then he felt cold as Field´s transparent form floated towards them. "You called, young Master?" he inquired passively.
Draco turned to the ghost butler first. "Yes," he said instead. "Have the carriages ready, the horses saddled."
"Very well, sir," the ghost said sensing the urgency in his voice. It immediately floated away to see to the errand.
Alone with Harry again, Draco turned to him, his face surprisingly softening. "Look, Potter," he started gravely. "Against my wishes, I really don´t have much choice but to rely on you." He paused and swallowed hard. "Should anything happen to me, I´m counting on you to be there on time, carry through and take care of everything, all right? Do I have your word?" He handed his Portable Portkey to him.
"Now that´s what I call convincing," Harry quipped, rolling his eyes. Then he looked at Draco with reluctant acceptance and sighed, taking the Portkey he offered him and pocketing it. "Of course," he replied with undenied sincerity. "You have my word on it, Malfoy."
"Then let´s get going," he said turning around. Harry turned around as well only to see Fields waiting for them. He was about to follow the ghost to the stables when he suddenly remembered something.
"One question," called Harry.
Draco turned to him. "What?"
"Why don´t you just apparate there? You know the exact location, right?"
Draco looked heavenwards. "Are you even using your brains at all, Potter?" he asked irritably. When Harry looked at him darkly, Draco let out a fatigued sigh. "I could but since something vile is in there, lounging on about or doing something abominable to Ginny, magic barriers would undoubtedly be put up around its perimeter to prevent apparating. And that goes the same for Floo Powders," he explained. "Surely, if you´re trying to kill someone, you won´t want little ol´ somebody helpful to come popping up in there to spoil the party, would you?"
Harry´s brows crinkled stubbornly. "But still-"
"Have you ever tried apparating to a place that has magic barriers in it?" Draco cut in gruffly.
When Harry stared at him silently, he smirked. "Because if you haven´t, then be free to try by apparating in Malfoy Manor and tell me how it was for you next week after you have recuperated," said Draco spitefully. "Whereas, I´m sure as hell that I don´t want to be blasted back. I´m not taking that sort of chance again."
"So you´ve tried it," said Harry. "Nothing surprising there really, knowing how much you wanted to break rules and apparate to places you´re not supposed to go to."
"Just like you did, Potter?" Draco asked mildly.
For the first time, Harry couldn´t think of a proper retaliation to this. It was actually the truth. He, Ron and Hermione did have their share of disobedience when they were still going at Hogwarts. They DID break a thousand school rules back then. It was common knowledge to everybody.
"Oh get a life, Malfoy!" Harry spat, pissed.
"Why don´t you? I already have one!" Draco shot back. Then mumbling something about being ridiculously childish, he turned around and made his way towards the door. He was about to make his way out when he heard Harry again.
Draco turned around. He frowned, incensed. "What now?"
"If you´re going to fly then use my broom," said Harry. "It´s faster."
At that, Draco looked down only to finally notice that Harry was indeed using the newest, the fastest and the most expensive broom up to date, made using both Wizard and Muggle technology with only sixteen units available. He held it against the faint light only to see the name `Eaton 3000´ engraved on the unique, shiny broom handle. "How the hell did Potter get his hands on this baby?" he thought wildly. He couldn´t believe that he had actually carelessly dragged an Eaton 3000 against the rock riddled ground a while ago! He focused his attention back to Harry and nodded.
"Thanks," he said. He mounted it easily, already feeling the better benefits of the broom´s unique features. Feeling his weight, the broom immediately let out its added feature, a pair of small, adjustable and almost invisible winglets at the broom tip. He smirked, fully aware of the added effectiveness of the aerodynamic stability of the broom beneath him. He gave Harry one last look. "I´ll see you."
And with that, he quickly kicked off from the ground, shot up and sped into the night.
The room immediately flooded with light. Ginny looked up only to see her Muggle secretary, sitting on a nearby couch, legs crossed elegantly and just looking at her with her feline eyes. She was tapping the wand against her cheek, her sharp eyes not leaving her face. Her blond hair, she noticed, were now as white as tinsels, shining beautifully against the bright lights of her room. Somehow, now that she saw her again, she couldn´t help but notice something different about her. She looked more beautiful but there was danger in her smile. She looked colder, more ruthless. She didn´t particularly like the smile she gave her.
"Therese, what is the meaning of this?" Ginny demanded, now fully awake. Somehow, a heavy lump of fear formed inside her stomach. How come she was having this nagging feeling to be suddenly with Draco? "How did you get here?"
The other woman just smiled at her again. Ginny´s frown deepened, not sure if she was just dreaming or not. She was about to call her name once more when a sudden whoosh of dizziness swept past her. She closed her eyes, feeling terribly light-headed. Then to her horror, she felt her head drooping, her limbs weakening. She tried moving them, to no avail. It seemed like she was completely paralyzed. She tried her best to look up.
"What did--," she paused and took a deep breath. It seemed like even speaking was an effort, "you do to me? Did- did you give me something?"
Seeing that, the other woman finally stood up. "Oh, don´t worry," said Therese as she produced two sturdy ropes out of nowhere. She slowly made her way towards the bed. "Just a harmless draft I made, mixed in your milk. You´ll be out of that in just a couple of minutes." Then before Ginny could do anything, Therese set the wand aside and immediately took hold of her hands and tied them securely. "But then again, a couple of minutes is all I need to be done with everything," she quipped while forcing her up from her bed.
"You were the one who´s been trying to kill me all along?" Ginny asked weakly as she stumbled against the other woman´s body, her head drooping onto her shoulders. She gritted her teeth as anger filled her. When she saw Therese taking a wand from the table, her anger turned to fury. "That´s my wand!"
The woman´s eyes sharpened with anger. "I know!" she said aloud. Then struggling her weight over hers, Therese placed her in front of her body, held her by the shoulders and pushed her gruffly towards the door. "You snatched me from my nook and slammed me roughly inside my cage before I could even grab my own wand!" Then she smiled lightly while opening the door and pushing her outside. "Mmm, it would be treat getting back at you, Ginny," she cooed lightly.
Hearing her eerie sing-song voice, Ginny couldn´t be sure if the woman was plain insane or just had nothing better to do . Her head limply fell to her side as they carefully treaded down the stairs, with Therese´s unusual strength supporting her heavy, flaccid body.
"All this trouble for that?" she asked sarcastically amidst her feebled state. When they reached the living room, Therese pushed her roughly on one of the couches before the fire. Ginny let out a soft yelp as she landed with a loud thump, hurting her backside. She tried her best to keep her eyes open. "Tell me, are you the one who has been trying to kill me all along? If yes, then was that the only reason why you-"
"You always refer to me a male cat!" Therese exclaimed shrilly. "Honestly! Can´t you even tell a male cat from a female one? Jesus!"
At that, Ginny found herself giving her a look that said `that´s ridiculously shallow´ despite her weakened state.
Seeing that, Therese stood before her and placed her hands haughtily on her hips, pouting like a child who lost a toy. "Not only that, but you and this crazy blond woman have this weird tendency to pick me up and tickle me everywhere whenever you feel like it!" Then she sighed dramatically. "I am so sick and tired of being kicked around, you know. Try being a cat for a day and tell me if I´m not being honest here."
Ginny frowned. Therese was an Animagus? Moreover, Therese was a witch? But why didn´t she breathe a word about it before? Then she looked away thoughtfully. Well, considering that Therese too, in her belief, didn´t know that Ginny was a witch- she had a point, after all, for hiding her true identity. She tried her best to stay awake instead. "Is that all?" she asked weakly.
With that, Therese´s lovely face grazed another cold smile. "Maybe," she replied sweetly while walking towards the window. She brushed the drapes aside and stared outside, the light of the moon shining on her face. Then she gave out an audible sigh of satisfaction upon seeing the semi-thin red light surrounding the moon´s brilliant whiteness. The tail of the dusky scarlet gleam was almost touching its other end, near to forming a circular thin but clouded red line surrounding the bright celestial orb illuminating the dark night sky.
"Blood on the moon,"she thought as she saw the red line slowly moving upwards with anticipation. "It won´t be long now." She suddenly brightened up.
Ginny, upon witnessing the dreadful smile, felt a sudden flash of fear slicing within her. She didn´t like the smile at all! It was a smile that contained hundreds of meaning, evil meanings, mostly. She wasn´t telling the truth. She was definitely hiding something from her. Surely, there was a deeper reason as to why she wanted her dead. Could it be that Voldemort was still alive and behind all this? Or maybe Therese was Draco´s former lover, jealous and hungry for vengeance?
"You should´ve died sooner, you know," she said after a moment, her eyes not leaving the moon. Then she shook her head unhappily. "That way, everything would´ve been easier. Oh, the wasted time and effort-"
"So- so- you were--, Ginny broke off, horror stricken.
Therese turned to her and just gave her honeyed smile.
She closed her eyes momentarily and swore at herself.
So it wasn´t Draco after all! "Oh, stupid Ginny!" she thought. How could she even accuse and suspect Draco of such a horrible thing? Now she was in deep trouble. Would Draco look for her or rescue her? She found herself asking.
"That´s just wishful thinking,"her inner side answered.
Then she bit her lip as another set of tears threatened to fall. She was the one who first ran away, right? And the Fidelius Charm- Oh dear, now she was done for.
"It is almost time."Therese shook her head slowly. "That blasted carriage thing didn´t work so I had to poison you," she started, shattering her thoughts. She detached herself away from the window and made her way towards the paling woman. "But unfortunately that bloody Puffskein drank the coffee, not leaving some for you. Greedy little creature got what he deserved!" Then she giggled coquettishly, sitting beside her. "I´m telling you it was really hard to clamber up into that carriage without being noticed that Christmas night and it was thanks to that girl she opened the window," she paused, her face wrinkling with displeasure. "If not for that boy, then-"
"The Xiphias Potion was yours?" Ginny asked breathlessly. Much to her confusion, it was suddenly becoming difficult for her to breathe and talk.
"Yes, silly!" Therese exclaimed, ignoring the other woman´s obvious sufferings. "I planted that nasty little potion in Draco´s secret compartment, you know." Then she looked away thoughtfully while shaking her head slowly, making her fine hair swish from side to side. "Really, the unusual things you will notice when you´re small."
"So I assume you´re also the one who took the necklace and placed it inside the drawer? Why?" Ginny forced out through gasping breaths. She had to know!
"For you to see the potion, suspect Draco and run away from him. The last thing I needed to perform this difficult spell is a distraction. Everything´s all planned out, really," quipped Therese, nodding vigorously. "I just know that there was something odd about that necklace. It pulled you towards it, right?"
"Then why don´t you just kill me now?" asked Ginny. She just couldn´t believe she was curious! "There are many knives in the kitchen."
"Oh, I would but I have to kill you using magic now," said Therese in surprisingly gentle voice. "You may notice later," she stopped and giggled, her right hand delicately shooting up only to touch her right cheek. "Oh silly me, you won´t be alive to see it, right? Anyway, you may notice that I already have the house free of those sharp, pointy things you call knives and letter openers should anybody decide to crash into our little affair."
"Then why don´t you just point MY wand at me and say `Avada Kedavra´ now?" Ginny asked impatiently. Then to her dismay, she suddenly found her vision already blurring. She closed her eyes and opened them once more only to see hazy images yet again. Just what kind of potion was this anyway? She couldn´t remember Snape teaching them to make potions that can weaken your body and temporarily impair your sense of sight. But then again, Snape never taught them potions used in the Dark Arts. It was against Hogwarts´ Rules and Regulations.
At that, Therese looked at her oddly and frowned. "Do you want to die?" she asked whimsically. Then without waiting for her answer, she shook her head dismissively. "It´s a little complicated, Ginny. There´s a proper spell to be used." Then she grinned and placed her hand on top of her belly as Ginny helplessly sat there and looked. "That changed everything. It would be like hitting two birds with one stone. I´m going to get your body. He´s going to get his bride. Nothing personal, really." Then she looked at her in the eye. "I do hope you know what I mean." Then she stood up, leaving the wide-eyed Ginny staring after her with wonder.
"Am I--,"she looked at Therese who nonchalantly made her way back towards the window. "I´m going to have a baby?" In spite of everything, a happy and indescribable feeling soared inside her. She´s going to have a baby! Draco´s baby! She felt so ecstatic that the thought of asking who that `HE´ she was referring to, was completely overlooked! So that explained why she was eating like there´s no tomorrow, the morning sickness, why Snape insisted on clamping her mouth with a thermometer first in order to be sure just what kind of potion he would give her, her period getting late- Actually, she thought that it was just her usual cycle irregularity, nothing strange but--
"Oh my god I´m going have a baby!"she thought happily, her present situation momentarily forgotten. "I´m gonna have a baby!" Then after a few seconds, she frowned as realization hit her. "I just can´t believe that I learned such a joyous news in a situation like this!" Her eyes darkened as she focused them on Therese. "And that woman told me!"
"Of course, you´re also aware that I couldn´t kill you using magic, even before, right?" Therese asked, unperturbed, unaware of the things going on inside Ginny´s head.
Ginny looked at her blurry form, deeply annoyed. "Can´t you see I´m having an almost happy-mother-to-be moment here?" she replied sarcastically, gathering what´s left of her strength. Then she frowned. "What do you mean by that?" she asked feebly, her voice now a whisper.
At that, Therese´s eyes widened incredelously. "I can´t believe you don´t know!" she exclaimed. When Ginny just gave her a look, she sighed and placed herself in front of her. "You´re protected with the Adamanto Reflectera charm, Ginny," explained Therese. "It´s the most powerful protective-reflective charm up to date, mind you, because any harmful magic cast onto you will naturally be reflected back to the caster. Not many can perform that." Then she smiled. "So as you can see, I cannot just point my wand at you and shout Avada Kedavra. It will bounce back on me."
Ginny´s mouth slightly dropped open. Surprisingly, speech impairment came next. She was already too weak to talk. She couldn´t do anything but stare at her and wait patiently, hoping that she would explain everything. Adamanto Reflectera? Most powerful protective-reflective charm up to date? But who would even--
"I really can´t believe you don´t know!" Therese exclaimed again. She looked at her in sheer disbelief. "Your husband was the one who performed it on you! Quite a difficult charm to cast," she paused and rolled her eyes, "and to reverse, actually since you have to use adamantine in mist form. You know how difficult it is to turn adamantine into mist, right? Almost utterly impossible for ordinary wizards but your husband´s an exceptional and talented one in the lot. And also, the caster alone can take it off. It uses voice codes or something. I´m not really sure what it´s called but I´ve already figured the solution to that," she continued talkatively while fanning the wand against her face with boredom. Then she stopped and turned serious. "Took me a while to learn it. But now," she pointed the wand tip in her direction, "let´s try to find out if I did learn to take it off correctly, shall we?"
"Draco was the one who did the charm?"Ginny thought, deaf to Therese´s low, raspy voice. Then a bittersweet smile curved her lips. "Draco- protected me? But why?"
Therese´s eyes narrowed in deep concentration as she muttered the words with eerie conviction. She held both of her hands before Ginny, the wand shooting tiny sparks from its tips, a signal that the spell was actually working.
Ginny found herself smiling weakly. She looked at Therese´s grim face and wondered just why she was feeling so at peace and reposed considering that she would die later on. Maybe it was because she had finally accepted it. Or maybe it was because of the fact that Draco did, indeed, care a little for her. She focused her attentions back to the other woman. She seemed to know what she´s doing, she thought.
"He protected me,"she said to herself again, feeling blissful and satisfied. It won´t be long now, she thought, already too weak to fight. She couldn´t see and hear right. She couldn´t even move her legs... She could do nothing but close her eyes, waiting. "I´m sorry, Draco."
"Ex In Corpore Vili-"
Just then, a knock.
Then a voice.
A most familiar voice.
Ginny´s heart gave a sudden leap. Her eyes immediately snapped open. "Ginny!" she heard again.
"Shit!" Therese hissed, her concentration ruined. Forgetting about the spell, she quickly went up to her and yanked her forcefully to her feet. "I can´t believe Draco found you! And so soon!" she said as she dragged the other woman with her.
Ginny tried her best to scream out, to answer back, but no words came out of her lips. Instead, she longingly looked at the kitchen while she was being dragged towards her father´s study.
Therese, in turn, opened the door gruffly and shoved her carelessly inside. She towed Ginny towards the large leather armchair and pushed her roughly down onto it. Ginny landed with a soft thump, her eyebrows crinkling with the momentary pain the action brought.
When Therese heard the backdoor in the kitchen creaking open, she smiled evilly at her. "I have a better plan. Don´t go anywhere," she purred. Then she closed her eyes and concentrated. After a moment, she opened them once again and grinned candidly at her.
Ginny´s eyes immediately widened with horror at the sight that greeted her. In spite of the blurry vision, she could clearly make out the other woman´s new form. She opened her mouth as if to say something but the other woman ignored her. Bending down, Therese gave Ginny a sound kiss on the cheek.
"Don´t worry, Ginny," she cooed venomously. "I´ll give Draco the welcome he so deserves."
And with that, she made her way towards the door and stepped out, leaving her alone staring after her, horror stricken.
Draco muttered as he flicked his wand against the door´s metal knob. Instantly, the door creaked open without a fight. He stepped cautiously inside only to see the kitchen surrounded in darkness. "Seems like nobody´s home," he said to himself, looking around. He really felt terrible trespassing into the Weasley´s private property but he had no choice.
"Lumos,"he said softly. Instantly, the room lit up. He looked around and frowned at the peculiar stillness of the whole house. Where were Mr. and Mrs. Weasley? Ron and Hermione? Ginny and the Demon-or-whatever-evil-it-was? He was kind of expecting loud noises, screams and banging sounds the moment he arrived but-
"Ginny," he called as he carefully propped Harry´s `expensive´ broom against a wall just beside the kitchen door. He made his way towards the living room, only to discover it faintly lit, the fire in the fireplace near to dying. He turned his eyes away from it and was about to make his way up the stairs to check her room when he saw a tiny form, curled up, lying in a fetal-position on a couch just beside the front doors of the house.
Instantly, his heart gave a fearful and nervous loud thud.
"Gin?" he called frantically. When she didn´t move, panic rose within him. Could she be- He shook his head and quickly made his way towards the tiny thing dressed in delicate lilac, looking so vulnerable and fragile. He knelt before the couch and shook her gently. "Ginny, please wake up."
"At least she´s breathing,"he thought, noting the faint rising and falling of her chest. He was about to call her again when suddenly, Ginny´s body stirred. Then moments later, much to Draco´s relief, she fluttered her eyes open. She looked up only to see his face looming over her, peering at her with concern. His face softened upon noticing her eyes, red and puffy. He was so sure that it was a result from crying. And it-- pained him.
"Draco?" she whispered, sitting up and scratching her head. When her brain started to focus, she frowned with displeasure and immediately scuttled away from him. "What are you doing here? How did you find me?" she demanded nastily.
Draco found himself frowning with the sudden outburst. Endearment and concern already forgotten, he stood up and angrily faced her. "Oh, it was nice to see you too, Ginny!" he said scornfully. When Ginny shot him a dirty look, Draco let out a very irked sigh. "Have you had any idea how worried sick I was?" he exclaimed, standing up and walking away from her. "I was looking for you everywhere! With everybody trying to kill you and you running away from the manor, suspecting me-"
"And you´re other woman, actually," spat Ginny visciously.
This made Draco stop. Ginny stood up as well and smirked at him nastily. "Don´t deny it, Draco." She crossed her arms on her chest and stared at him darkly. "I saw you!"
Draco threw his hands up into the air as another set of arguments brewed and boiled right before his very eyes. "I have never heard something as stupid as-"
"Fine! Call me stupid!" Ginny answered back, aloud. "But I´m not! I know what´s going on with you and that- that woman! Honestly, you could´ve just--"
"I am not calling you stupid!" Draco spat angrily. "And nothing´s going on between me and Blaise! Can´t you understand something as simple as that?"
"Look, why don´t you just go away, leave me alone, and crawl back to Blaise? There is no need for you to protect me. The killer´s already been caught, all right? My parents are away for the Ministry convention and Ron and Hermione are already dealing with him in the Law Enforcement office," Ginny ranted on spitefully. When Draco just looked at her quite obscurely, she let a tiny sigh. "Just go, okay? In that way, everybody will be happy, all right?"
With that, Draco stopped, his face softening, pained. He stared at her first. "That will make you happy, Ginny?" he asked finally as he slowly made his way towards her. "If I go away, will that make you happy?"
"Just answer me with a yes or no and I promise you I´ll stop," said Draco. He was now in front of her. "Will it make you happy if I leave?" He placed his hands on her heaving shoulders and forced her to look at him.
Ginny reluctantly obliged. She stared at his eyes only to see them unusually glossy and shiny, possibly with unshed tears. But then, she hardened her heart. "Just go away," she muttered, quickly turning around once again. She was about to walk away from him, when Draco suddenly held her back, clutching her right hand. He pulled the woman forcefully to him, their faces already inches apart.
"Why can´t you give me a definite answer, Virginia?" he whispered silkily, looking straight at her eyes, his voice undeniably aching. "All I want is for you to be happy, you know. So if my leaving you alone will make you happy, then so be it."
Ginny´s eyes widened with the unexpected words. "How can I answer you when I don´t even understand everything myself," she replied.
Draco smirked at her arrogantly. "Will you let me make you understand?" he asked softly. Then without waiting for an answer, Draco let go of her hand and lifted her face up to his. "Will this make you understand?" He was about to lower his lips onto hers when he suddenly felt her left hand going up to his face.
"I almost forgot how beautiful you are," said Ginny mistily. She stared at him with a faraway look in her eyes mixed with wonderment. "Sounds crazy but I- I actually missed you."
He smiled softly and took her hand in his. "I missed you too," he said while bringing it onto his lips. He kissed it tenderly and was about to settle his lips on hers when his silver eyes caught her ring finger. He looked up at her, puzzled. Then his eyes sharpened dangerously.
"I love you, Draco," she whispered, oblivious to the sudden suspicious look he gave her. She was about to tip her head up to his and kiss him when Draco suddenly gripped her wrist tightly. She gave a yelp of pain upon feeling his fingers brutally digging onto her tender skin.
He yanked her gruffly to him, soft sparkling eyes turning murderous. "Who are you?" he rasped.
Ginny blinked her eyes rapidly and took another deep breath, filling her lungs with the precious air. Finally, the numbness seemed to be slowly ebbing away since she felt the smooth leather covering of her father´s seat brushing against her skin little by little.
"Just a bit more,"she coaxed herself as she tried her best to be at ease again. She shook her head as she felt her brain already clearing up, the heaviness passing away. She took another deep breath and relaxed.
"The effect of the potion´s probably wearing off,"she thought hopefully. After several moments of breathing and counting, she finally found her eyes focusing, her already visions clearing up. Then pulling herself from her slouched position, she tried her best sitting upright, feeling a little dizzy.
Just then, she heard voices. Arguing voices.
"Draco!"she thought frantically. Instantly, she forced herself to stand up while twisting her hands against her Muggle bondage, the idea of Draco with that dangerous creature making her panic. Who knows what `that´ might do to him?
When she heard Draco already yelling angrily followed by a series of loud crashing and banging noises, an indication that a fight had broken loose, she furiously wriggled her hands, fighting to get free, not minding the excruciating pain the rough texture of the rope brought on her tender skin. "Come on!" she hissed. "Oh please, loosen a bit for me!"
Then after several seconds of struggling and swearing, much to her satisfaction, the ropes finally loosened up enough so that she was able to slip her tiny hands off from it.
"Finally," she whispered to herself as she threw the blasted thing away. Ginny thought about bursting out there and running to him but assessing the situation, she knew it would be terribly stupid to do so. What good would that do? The least that she could do was to be useful, if not helpful. Rubbing her wirst and wincing with pain, she decided to look around her father´s office for something that would be of much use.
"Blas it!" she suddenly whispered to herself. To her dismay, she had found nothing useful to kill the creature with. So the creature wasn´t bluffing at all! Every sharp and pointed thing was indeed thrown away! Not even a single of her father´s Muggle Chef´s Knife collection he stupidly made her buy for him from TV Shopping or a letter opener could be found inside her father´s office! She swore. If she only had her wand!
Then she stopped, remembering something vaguely. She wobbled towards her father´s desk, determined, the aftereffect of the potion still getting to her. "If I remember correctly--," Her voice trailed off as she opened several drawers, searching. "Where does he keep it?" she asked herself in frustration.
She opened and rummaged her father´s desk drawers one by one, scattering papers and quills messily on the desk. Ginny knew her father had one of those! She remembered him showing it off one time to his Muggle-loving colleagues proudly.
She was about to give up on the desk and settle for the shelves when she noticed a tiny drawer situated at the lower left corner of the sturdy writing desk, completely unopened. "Why must every man have to have a blasted secret compartment built up for their desks?" she asked herself darkly, bending down. She tried pulling it gently at first. When the drawer slid out easily beneath her hands, she let out a tiny smile and completely pulled the partially hidden compartment all the way out only to finally find what she was looking for.
Resting inside of the `secret´ compartment, waiting to be used, was Arthur Weasley´s shiny and fully loaded 45-caliber gun.
"Draco, what are you-"
"That was good acting," Draco rasped, smirking. After a moment, he tightened his grip even more resulting to another set of cries from the woman. Then he yelled angrily. "Who are you?"
Seeing the furious statement on Draco´s face, the woman finally decided to quit playing games. Instead, she smiled at him cruelly. "Impressive," she cooed as she finally wrenched her bruised wrist free from his grasp. Draco let go and stood there, motionless, as she sauntered away from him "How did you know?"
"Ring mark," replied Draco stoically. "The real Ginny would have the ring mark on her hand. After all she´d been wearing the wedding ring for three months already, surely that would leave a mark if she took it off." Then his eyes narrowed dangerously. "And you don´t have it. Where is she?"
"Oh goody!" She clapped her hands once, her face showing delight. Draco suddenly found himself feeling a little queer talking to someone horrid and undoubtedly evil who exactly looked like Ginny. "Now you can save me the trouble and take the Adamanto Reflectera charm off her."
"Where is she?" Draco asked quietly but nevertheless infuriated.
Hearing this, she gave a saucy and light-hearted laugh. "You´re really stubborn, I see," she finally quipped. Then she sighed and flipped her red hair behind her shoulder. "All right, three guesses," she purred, while holding up three of her fingers before her freckled face.
Draco´s temper snapped. He furiously made his way towards the woman, arm already raised. "What did you do to her?" he yelled angrily. When the woman just granted him one of her honeyed smiles, he brought his right arm down and was about to hit her on the face when something inside him hesitated. He stopped, midway, his breath already flaring as he fought for self-control.
"What´s the matter, Draco?" she purred sweetly. "Can´t hit a girl?" When Draco just took quick calming breaths, she giggled. "Thought so." Then she closed her eyes and focused, murmuring faint Latin.
A gasp suddenly went out of Draco´s mouth when he saw her molding out a new face. His eyes widened with genuine horror upon seeing her changing form before his very eyes. He backed away, totally freaked out, as the red color of her hair changed to blond. He took a terrified but fascinated breath while witnessing the most erratic and bizarre complete human transformation he had ever seen in his life! During the course of his study, he never actually believed that a wizard was capable of copying any kind of human form! He deemed it as ridiculous. Just a load of rubbish and exaggerated legends handed from generation to generation and not concrete in reliable facts!
His mouth suddenly dropped open when she finally opened her eyes, now silver like his! He could do nothing but just to stand there, shaken.
"Better now?" a deep male voice asked. HIS deep male voice. It was a voice of the `old´ Draco. He, especially Potter, Granger and Weasley knew that voice very well. It was voice that spoke out nothing but cruelty, anger, spite--
"What are you?" Draco asked looking at a perfect replica of himself standing before him, having the same arrogant smirk, the same cold, cruel eyes. Then shaking his head as if to free his mind from awe and wonderment, he took his wand out and pointed it savagely to the creature. He wasn´t sure of what it was but nevertheless, it had to die!
"Fuck! Wrong spell!" Draco scolded himself as bright, red sparks instantly began shooting off from his wand tip. The electric discharge went directly at the other man who was staring fixedly at him, unalarmed. Then much to Draco´s surprise, the moment the hex smacked straight up against the creature´s body, it suddenly bounced back. Before Draco could think of anything to do, it was already too late. Like a speed of lightning, the hex hurled back at him, hitting him full force on his stomach. It sent him crashing loudly against the wall. He fell on the floor with a loud, bone-jarring thud
The other man shook his head pityingly. "Tsk, I have the charm on me myself, mate. Forgot to tell you that, sorry. Good thing you didn´t use a killing curse, eh?" Then he laughed cruelly and positioned Ginny´s wand for precaution before Draco who was struggling hard to get up. "See just how good-looking you are?" Then he made his way slowly towards him. "I´ll make you a deal. Take the protective charm off of her and I won´t kill you. I won´t even harm your face."
"The hell I will do that!" Draco yelled as he wiped his bleeding lips. He braced himself momentarily against the wall, heaving. "You can die first, bastard!"
"Look, I´m actually doing you a favor, all right?" the creature said exasperatedly. "I can´t see the point of moving on with this fight. You can´t even use magic and-"
"Who says something about using magic?" he growled. And with that, he threw his wand aside and lunged at the unsuspecting creature. Draco immediately seized its wand arm and brought it hard against his knee that it nearly cracked.
The other man howled in pain as his arm nearly broke with the force. He swore out loud, fighting to get his arm free but due to Draco´s fury, swearing and threatening proved to be useless as the real Draco tightened his grip on it and brought it hard, this time, against the wall. Finally, losing the fight, he reluctantly found his hand opening up, dropping the wand on the floor.
"Now, let´s see what you´re made of without magic," rasped Draco as he quickly raised his arm and brought his knuckles against the creatures face. It staggered back, its nose bleeding.
Witnessing that, Draco stopped momentarily and stared.
It actually felt a little queer fighting with someone who just looked, moved and talked like him. It was like stupidly hitting himself! When he saw the blood trickling from `his´ perfectly shaped nose, the queer feeling suddenly disappeared as he felt queasiness replace it. Well, not to be vain here or anything, but technically speaking, he was deforming his own face! He was actually ruining a really fine and good-looking façade here, people! At that thought, his stomach gave a sudden sickening lurch.
"You bastard!" it yelled as it charged at him. Due to Draco´s wandering thoughts, it easily granted Draco a sound blow on the face that sent the other man´s right upper eyelid bleeding. Feeling something wet and sticky trickling from his forehead, Draco swore out loud and forced such vain thoughts away from his mind.
"You will pay for that!" Draco yelled furiously as he swung his arm up, ignoring `his´ nearly broken face.
Not long after that, a heated brawl started inside the tiny living room with two blond and completely look-alike men fighting each other the Muggle way, both `wandless.´ They leaped and lunged at one another, hitting and shouting and yelling, over turning the couches, breaking and smashing everything into pieces and practically destroying anything that came their way.
"What did you do to her?" Draco yelled as he swiftly brought his fists against the creature´s stomach, causing it double over with the pain it brought, wheezing. He was about to bang its head against the glass coffee table when it suddenly pulled his leg. He fell heavily onto the floor and before he knew it, a sharp pain ignited against his rib cage. The blasted creature had kicked him! He cursed out loud and was about stand up when the door to Arthur Weasley´s study suddenly burst open.
The two men immediately stopped upon hearing a shrill voice vibrating inside the house. They looked up only to see Ginny, standing by the study´s doorway, heaving tiredly, terribly shaken but nevertheless looking very fierce with a gun firmly in her hand.
"Ginny!" They both called at the same time. Realizing that, they turned to each other and frowned darkly.
Ginny´s fierce disposition immediately turned to absolute confusion. "You can see me?" she cried, astounded. Then she frowned as she shook the thoughts about Vladimir and his Fidelius Charm away, the momentary confusion turning to horror when she noted the two men in front of her.
Standing before her were two disgruntled, riotous, and not to mention, bleeding Draco Malfoys! Her mouth dropped open. "Who´s who?" she thought frantically seeing the sorry state of their red and bruised identical faces. Her eyes riveted towards their clothes only to find it both ripped and torn here and there. She swallowed hard, not sure of what to do. Not sure of who to shoot! She felt her lip quivering and her hand trembling. Surprisingly, the gun suddenly became too heavy for her.
"Ginny, where did you get that?"
Her breathing quickened as her eyes immediately darted towards the man on her right. "Don´t move or I´ll shoot!" she cried as she aimed the gun at him. He immediately stopped and raised his hand in momentary surrender.
She was shaking violently and she was aware of it. But she didn´t care! One of them was the killer and one of them was surely the real Draco. She couldn´t just have a shooting spree here! Instead, she tightened her hand on the gun till she could feel the cool metal of the Muggle weapon quickly warming up, blending against the temperature of her skin.
"Do you even know how to use that?" The other man on her left asked, snorting with boredom. Then his face hardened and he looked at her straight in the eye. "I´m your husband, Virginia."
Ginny´s eyes, in turn, riveted towards him only to see him smirking. "Please don´t do anything or I´ll shoot!" she cried out, her voice shaking, unable to conceal her fear and apprehension. Then she took a deep breath. "The real Draco can take the protective charm off me," she began, her hands gripping the gun firmly, her forefinger against the trigger, ready to shoot for any sudden movements. "Take both of the wands."
Neither of the two moved.
Ginny´s eyes narrowed as she tightened her hand against the gun even more. "I said take the wands, dammit!" she yelled.
"All right! All right!" The two exclaimed as they both searched and picked up their scattered wands from the floor.
Seeing that, Ginny nodded in satisfaction, her breathing already becoming rapid. "All right, now take the charm off me," she instructed, still pointing the gun nozzle at them, ready to shoot.
"Are you crazy?"
They both uttered at the same time.
At that, they glared at each other. If glares could kill, both of them would be lying on the floor right now, not breathing.
"If you don´t stop glaring and trying to kill each other, I swear I´ll kill you off myself and I mean it!" Ginny shouted. "Take the blasted charm off me!"
With that, the man on her right finally heaved a tired sigh and positioned his wand in her direction. "Fine, if it´ll make you happy."
"You don´t need a wand to do that," the one on her left uttered. He smirked and slowly opened his mouth, letting the smooth Latin flow out. "Evanescere"
Instantly, Ginny felt something cold inside her body. But then, strangely the shilling discomfort was fleeting since she felt it lifting up from her. Then her eyes widened when a tiny silver orb shot out from her chest. It floated in front of her, leveling with her eyes. Then in a blink of an eye, it vanished like a bubble in thin air. Having been free from the Adamanto Reflectera charm, Ginny immediately felt her body weakening as a strong gush of unseen force knocked against her. She felt herself burning up, her insides scorching as different kinds and strong waves of Dark Magic crashed against her simultaneously. She had always been sensitive to Dark Magic, ever since the first time she felt it during her first year.
Then loud, cruel laughter.
"Ha! Too late!"
Ginny turned only to see the `fake´ Draco yelling out `Stupefy.´ In a flash, dark blue sparks came out from the impostor´s wand. It hit her directly. And before she could do anything, she had accidentally pulled the trigger, creating a loud bang, before slumping onto the floor, unconscious.
"Ginny!" Draco yelled as he saw her falling down.
The creature, turned to him and smiled maliciously. "I have no use for you anymore! Now you--"
"Goddamn you!" the real Draco yelled angrily as he once, again, brought his fist against the creatures face, not letting him finish whatever curse it was he had planned to utter, the gun already forgotten. It fought for a while then much to his surprise, it stopped abruptly, listening closely. Then before his very eyes, it changed form again. His eyes widened only to see Ginny´s hazel-eyes peering at him tearfully, her face bruised and bleeding.
The action infuriated him even more. He gripped the impostor by its dress´s collar and pulled it gruffly to him. "You piece of---" He broke off when the front door suddenly burst open. He whipped his head around only to see Ron and Hermione Weasley forcing their way inside. At that moment, he realized why the creature went transformation again. So, it was clever as well! He swore under his breath. "Oh great! Just great!" he said sarcastically while rolling his eyes heavenwards. "What a great timing!"
"We heard gunshots!" Ron yelled frantically, running inside the messy sitting room. "Ginny!" he called out. "We received Terrence´s letter and-" Then he stopped abruptly, frozen at his tracks. His jaw dropped unfashionably at the sight before him. When he finally found his voice, he swore out loud. "What the hell-" his voice trailed at the spectacle that greeted his wide, green eyes. Before him was the tall Draco Malfoy strangling a battered and bruised Ginny, with one of her eye already swollen.
"Ron!" he heard her sister cry. "Help me!"
Hearing his sister´s voice, he snapped out of his trance and immediately took his wand out. He furiously aimed the tip at Draco, rage completely written on his face. "What the fuck do you think you´re doing hitting my sister?" Ron yelled angrily. Then without thinking, he cried out the disarming hex.
Hermione gasped out loud upon noticing a pair of immobile feet not far away from the study´s door, sticking vaguely out just behind the couch. "Wait, Ron-"
Another round of red sparks shot up into the air. It hit Draco severely on his stomach, hurling him against the wall again. He crumpled helplessly on the floor while groaning out in pain. Having been hit the second time around, Draco found himself actually buying some time to get up.
Ron, in turn, immediately ran up to her `sister.´ "Ginny, are you all right?" he asked as he quickly lifted her face up to the light to examine the damages. When he saw the wounded lip, the bleeding nose, and the swollen eye, he nearly cried. He swore out loud. "I´ll kill him! That son of a bitch! I´ll-"
"Thank you, Ron."
Then much to Ron´s surprise, her `sister´ pointed her own wand at him and whispered up close. "Stupefy!"
"Ron!" Hermione yelled as she saw her husband slumping against the floor, suddenly unconscious. She knelt down and was about to mutter the counter-spell when she felt herself suddenly being lifted up into the air. She looked down, only to see another woman with blonde, tinsel-like hair standing there in Ginny´s place, smiling at her evilly. "What kind of creature are you?" she cried out as she tried hard not to panic. "Too strong," she thought frantically, as she felt her power enveloping her. "She´s too strong!"
"Don´t move too much and stray my concentration or you´ll fall," quipped Therese as she brought Hermione higher and higher that her head touched the ceiling. "I still need you alive."
"You- get her down this--," Draco paused, his face scrunching with pain as he struggled up, his hand clutching his side. "You get her- down this instant."
"What and spoil the fun?" Therese asked, giggling buoyantly. She looked at Draco who was pale and bloody, obviously too bruised and weak to fight. Then her sharp eyes fell onto the two redheads, lying there unconscious on the floor, up to the brown-haired woman who was looking at her thoughtfully but nevertheless, terrified.
She let out a very cold and cruel laugh.
"We´re just getting started."
To be continued...