DISCLAIMER: The Harry Potter series and all the characters associated with it are the property solely of J. K. Rowling, her agents and publishers. No infringement of any rights is intended from the creation of this story. Nor is any money being made from it.
Circles of Power
Part Twenty-Nine - Cry God For Harry
By Mad Martha
Harry Potter picked himself up from the ground where he'd fallen and dusted himself down, wincing a little. He'd landed in a little stone courtyard, facing a very large pair of wooden gates – so large that there was a much smaller door cut into the side of one of them, presumably to admit visitors who were on foot. Everything looked terribly old and rather forbidding, like something out of a Gothic horror movie.
He glanced at his companion, who had landed neatly on both feet and was now surveying him with a coolly raised brow.
"Nice," Harry muttered. "Somehow I thought we'd appear inside the building."
"Then you thought wrong." The deep voice of Severus Snape was as acid and dismissive as ever. "Lord Voldemort to allow anyone, even his most trusted associates, to portkey directly into his stronghold without warning? Don't be foolish. Besides, depending on your point of view we are inside the building."
Which was true enough, for they were certainly well inside the extensive fortifications that surrounded the castle. Harry scowled nevertheless.
"Okay, what now?"
"Now, we knock. Or alternatively we can take a much more sensible course of action and portkey ourselves back out of here again before anyone notices us."
"Forget it," was Harry's flat response, and so they approached the little door set into the huge gates.
It was Snape who knocked, although Harry doubted that it was really necessary; he felt sure they must have set off some kind of proximity spell when they arrived. There was an uncomfortable pause during which there was the predictable feeling of being watched, then a little hatch opened in the door.
Snape said, "Severus Snape. I have brought someone who desires speech with our Master."
The hatch closed again. Moments later they heard the sound of heavy bolts being drawn and the little door creaked open.
Apparently that was all the invitation they would get. In keeping with his agreed role, Snape grabbed Harry's arm and forced him roughly through the door first, following him at a more elegant pace himself.
Inside the gates was another, smaller courtyard. It was swarming with Voldemort's servants – creatures, possibly men, robed from head to toe in black without a hint of a face or hand showing. Harry was reminded of beings from The Lord of the Rings – the Nazgul or Black Riders, with their black robes and empty hoods. He stared at them, feeling the hair rising on the back of his neck, for something was indisputably not right about these faceless, unspeaking lackeys.
One materialised in front of Harry and Snape and made a stiff gesture for them to follow, then led them across the courtyard and up a flight of steps to another door.
This time they were taken into the castle proper, and now Harry had an opportunity to fully appreciate the size and style of the late Wizard Grindelwald's ambition. The castle was a stone mausoleum on an epic scale. The fabric of the building might be neglected, but one look at the blocks it was constructed of was enough to inspire a nervous awe. It was reminiscent of the immense blocks of stone used to construct the pyramids both of Egypt and Central America.
"This makes Hogwarts look like a building from Legoland," Harry commented, reluctantly impressed.
He was rather startled, though, when they were led down another new passage and the style of building suddenly and radically changed. Smaller blocks of stone, lower ceilings, more ornate finishes. It could have been a different castle entirely.
By the time they reached their destination – an ornate reception room like a cathedral, with a vaulted ceiling and arched windows high upon the walls – this had happened several times, and each time the style was a little different. It was almost as though several entirely different castles had been patched together at random. Then they were led into the reception room and Harry forgot all about the architecture of the place.
Voldemort was waiting for them. And with him was Ron Weasley.
The immense room echoed with their footsteps as they crossed the floor, in spite of elegant carpets and long ornate hangings on the walls. It was cold despite it only being September, and not very well lit, but even that didn't prevent Harry noticing that the decorations only looked elegant on the surface. Like the fabric of the castle, everything had a faint edge of shabbiness and neglect.
There was only one item of furniture in the room, and that was a large stone chair in the centre that bore more than a passing resemblance to a throne. Voldemort sat in it, watching them approach with half-lidded eyes. Something inside Harry, something that was fourteen or fifteen years old, curled up a little at the sight of him, although he would have known him with his eyes blindfolded. His scar had been hurting from the moment he and Snape arrived, and the pain in it was increasing with each passing second. The corrupt old wizard looked even more lizard-like than the last time he'd seen him, as if – like his long-dead snake Nagini – he sometimes shed an outer skin for a new set of scales underneath. Harry wondered how far-fetched that idea might actually be. Venom from Nagini had been part of Voldemort's resurrection potion, after all.
But the part of Harry that was adult beyond his years, the part of him that had caused him to pursue the Philosopher's Stone, track down Ginny Weasley in the Chamber of Secrets, face up to a then-unknown Sirius Black, taken him through the Tri-Wizard Tournament and its sequel, and talk Peter Pettigrew to his death – that part of him sat up at the sight of the wizard who had tried so many times to kill him since his childhood. And a very grim voice in his mind said quietly: Showtime.
Snape had a hand on his shoulder, ostensibly to control him. He pulled Harry to a halt some four or five paces in front of Voldemort's throne, and a sticky silence descended as they all regarded each other.
"Well," Voldemort said finally. "This is a pleasant surprise. Harry … Harry Potter."
Harry inclined his head very slightly. He experienced a silly urge to say we meet again, but controlled it. Now was not the time. Besides, the acid-burn of his scar drove out any inclination to be funny about the situation, and left him gritting his teeth instead as he said "Voldemort".
The long white fingers of Voldemort's right hand were lightly caressing the stone arm of his chair as he regarded Harry and Snape almost lazily. "Severus, my old friend," he said after another long moment, and extended his left hand.
Snape at once released Harry and stepped forward, dropping to one knee and kissing the Dark wizard's hand. "Master."
In the background, Harry became aware that Voldemort's servants – a great many of them – were beginning to file into the room, lining the walls, their faceless figures all turned towards Voldemort as though awaiting instructions. This was not entirely unexpected, but the stiff, silent movements of the creatures was unnerving nevertheless. He could tell that Ron was aware of them too; the redhead was stiff with disquiet and his pale skin was nearly translucent under his freckles.
With a flick of his fingers Voldemort signalled for Snape to rise. The potions master did as he was bidden, bowing and stepping back a pace or two.
"Severus, this is a most unexpected pleasure. But I cannot help wondering why you, of all men, should be here – and in the company of Harry Potter. Hm?" The red lizard eyes drifted with a strange, languid amusement over the rigid form of Dumbledore's double agent.
"Master, the boy came to me and asked that he be brought to you," Snape murmured respectfully. "I believe he hopes to broker some form of deal with you for Weasley's release."
Ron stiffened, and Voldemort chuckled softly. "Does he really? Well? Do you, Harry? Do you think me open to negotiation?"
The burn of his scar increased, but Harry looked at him calmly. "If the price is right."
The chuckle deepened. "I wonder what price you think you can offer me for our young friend here? Doubtless we shall find out …." He gestured to the crowd of black-clad servants without looking at them, and one broke away from the group, approaching humbly. "Search them."
If Snape also stiffened, Harry couldn't tell. As for himself, he had expected to be searched even before they entered the castle and he had only one concern about it – one of which he could only wait and discover the outcome. The servant approached him and began to efficiently pat him down, checking his pockets and the folds of his robes. Harry wondered for a moment why the creature didn't use magic, but he supposed it must be some non-human being and incapable of mastering a wand.
As he expected the servant discovered his wand, which was instantly handed to Voldemort. Then it moved on to Snape and repeated the procedure. The contents of the potions master's pockets, belt pouches and robes were considerably greater, and included a number of small vials and packets besides his wand. These too were handed over to Voldemort, leaving Snape to mask his concern at the loss as best he could.
Voldemort examined the goods with mild interest. "Severus, my boy, are you becoming even more paranoid?" he asked, as he turned the vials over in his fingers, and he chuckled again. But the question was clearly rhetorical, and the articles were put to one side and promptly ignored.
"Well," he said softly, and his eyes fixed on Harry almost hungrily. "I must admit that you've surprised me, Harry. I never seriously expected you to come here to me, and certainly not unprotected by all your friends. You must have grown into an extremely courageous young man – either that, or an extremely rash one."
"Or perhaps I simply value my friends more than you do yours," Harry suggested boldly.
There was a deadly pause; then a cold, lipless smile crossed Voldemort's lips. "Yes," he murmured, "a very rash young man indeed – crucio!"
Ron cried out in shock and pain, and crumpled to the floor, writhing. Harry's hands balled into fists with the effort not to go to him, and he could feel his teeth grinding with the remembered agony of the curse, but he forced himself to remain still, his eyes on Voldemort. A brief dose of the Cruciatus Curse was easily recovered from, but there were other, more debilitating curses the Dark wizard could use if he was minded to, and Harry had no desire to provoke him to it.
"Perhaps our definition of friends is somewhat different, young Harry," the wizard said gently.
He lowered his wand and Ron was released, although it took several moments before he could uncurl from the ball he had screwed himself into and drag himself to his feet. From the grey but unsurprised look on his face, Harry realised that this could not be the first time he had been punished by any means.
"I keep no hounds that do not hunt," Voldemort continued. "Mr. Weasley has his uses, however, and I am very much inclined to keep him beside me. So what do you think you can offer me for him that would outweigh my own requirements? Always supposing, of course, that I am even interested in bargaining with you."
"Oh, I think you'll be interested," Harry replied calmly.
For a moment the two of them looked at each other, and it took a great deal of inner resolution for Harry to hold those inhuman red eyes with his own. The pain in his scar was almost unbearable, revealing the truth of Voldemort's current emotions.
Then the wizard inclined his head and sat back. With a flick of his wand he conjured up three chairs and gestured for Harry, Snape and Ron to be seated.
"Very well, my young friend," he said. "State your proposition."
"I'm offering a straight swap," Harry told him bluntly. "Me for him. You've gone to a great deal of effort in the past to get your hands on me. Well, here I am. Let Snape take Ron home to his family and I'll stay here voluntarily."
"Harry, no – "
"Be silent, Mr. Weasley." Voldemort looked at Harry coolly. "You disappoint me," he said. "I already have you. Why should I give up Mr. Weasley here for nothing?"
"I said voluntarily," Harry reminded him. "I assume that by now you know all about the wizard circle that formed between Ron, me and Draco Malfoy. With my co-operation, you would have access to that power for your own purposes."
"And again, I say – I already have you. Why should your co-operation matter to me one way or the other? Especially as I also have your friend here?"
Harry felt a trickle of cold sweat running down his spine, but forced himself to grin tightly at the evil wizard before him. This strategy depended on Voldemort believing a very small lie. "But my co-operation does matter," he pointed out. "The circle won't work without me, and your track record for being able to control me isn't very good – is it? You have Ron, but he's just the focus of the circle, the thing that links us together. And Draco only provides the know-how. But me – I'm the power behind it. If you want the circle to work for you, then you need me – conscious and co-operating."
There was a pause, and Harry could feel Ron's frightened, puzzled eyes on him, but he ignored them, focussing all his attention on Voldemort. He needed the creature to believe him. And it had to be soon, because time was running out ….
"Even if what you say is true, with the possession of Mr. Weasley there is always the possibility that a circle can be recreated," Voldemort mused idly. "Mr. Weasley I know I can control, you see."
"There are no guarantees that the circle could be recreated," Harry retorted swiftly.
"Perhaps. But then – perhaps I don't need a wizard circle after all," was Voldemort's equally swift return. "While I agree with you that a working wizard circle would be a fine thing to have, I can nevertheless manage quite well without it. And I rather think that I prefer it that way. You see, Harry, much as it pains me to say this to you, I really feel that I cannot trust you. Mr. Weasley here I can control, and therefore he is of use to me. Young Draco Malfoy, insolent and traitorous as he is, has his uses and can be controlled. But you – you, my dear boy, are nothing but a thorn in my side. A thorn which I suspect would only grow to be a spear, were I foolish enough to take you up on your offer.
"So I regret to inform you that I must decline." Voldemort raised his hand and a detachment of ten servants stepped forward to flank Harry and Ron.
"Wait!" Harry tensed, standing up. "Alright then. If I can't interest you in me alive, what about me dead?"
But this time Ron's horrified protest went unnoticed by the others. Harry's eyes were locked on Voldemort's, focussing on the growing amusement – and hint of curiosity – in them.
"Such desperation!" the wizard marvelled softly. "Dear me …. I wonder what prompts this?" And he cast a scornful look at Ron for a second, before turning his attention back to Harry. "Very well, Harry. You intrigue me – go on."
Harry took a moment or two to collect himself. This wasn't going entirely to plan – but then, what plan ever did? But he couldn't quite understand what was going on with Voldemort. Harry hadn't forgotten a single moment of their last encounter, and he still remembered the overwhelming sense of power tightly controlled, of an almost physical energy in the body of the restored wizard.
This Voldemort was different. The power was still there, but it was languid – like a cat lying in the sun who can't quite decide whether or not to go after the mouse it spies.
The difference puzzled Snape too, Harry could tell, but there was no way to ask what was going on – he had committed himself and had to forge ahead.
"I know you want me dead," Harry said now. "That's what you've always wanted, isn't it?"
Voldemort merely smiled.
"But I'm guessing that you'd want it to be a spectacle," he continued. "Given a choice, wouldn't you like to make a show of it to all your followers? To prove to them that Harry Potter is no more?"
"Possibly," Voldemort acknowledged.
"You know you would – that's why you didn't try to kill me on my birthday this year. You couldn't be sure you could do it and you didn't want to risk an embarrassing failure."
The wizard's eyes narrowed. "I'm fond of Mr. Weasley, Harry, but not so fond that I can't do without him."
The threat was implicit. Harry hurried on. "So I've been thinking – no, actually I've been reading. And some of the stuff I've been reading is really interesting. For example, I didn't know that there's a form of power-raising ceremony that involves human sacrifice. But I'll bet you knew that."
There was an astonished pause, then Ron cried out, "Harry, no. Don't do this, you don't know – "
"Silence!" Voldemort made a sudden, violent gesture with one hand and Ron was sent flying, crashing to the floor several feet away, stunned. Harry clenched his fists, fighting himself not to react.
"Is that what you're offering me, Harry?" Voldemort actually looked interested for a moment.
"Well, I'm a little sketchy on the details," Harry admitted. "It's not something I know much about after all. But yes, that's about the size of it."
In the background, Ron let out a low moan of pain and distress, and even Snape seemed transfixed by what was happening. Harry held his breath.
Then the spell was broken, and Voldemort shook his head, chuckling.
"A charming idea! But no, I don't think so. To be perfectly honest with you, Harry, I'd rather just have you dead."
"But I – "
"Enough! I weary of you!" And suddenly there it was – the power uncoiling like smoke from the vicious red eyes, a thick blanket of greed and venom and hate, and twice - three times - as powerful as Harry remembered. The pain in his scar increased to a point where his face screwed up against it in spite of his efforts.
Voldemort stood in one swift motion and Harry forgot to breathe. If the Dark wizard struck at him now –
But the curse never came.
"I think, boy," Voldemort whispered into the sudden silence, "that you really do forget yourself. Who you are. Who I am. What place this is. Remove them!"
The black-clad servants surged forward.
Snape moved then, taking a step forward and reaching out to retrieve his wand and potion vials.
The tip of Voldemort's own wand under his chin halted him.
"I don't think so … traitor," the wizard hissed into his face.
The servants took them to Ron's room.
Harry barely waited for the door to close behind them before he whirled on Snape.
"Time?" he snapped.
Snape pushed his sleeve back and looked at his watch. "Less than a minute," he rasped. "Too close …."
"Too late," Harry corrected him, and he let out a huge breath. "Damn. Oh well – there was nothing we could do about it anyway, I suppose."
Ron looked at them both uncomprehendingly. "What are you talking about?"
Harry looked at him then, and gave him a grin that was half relieved, half rueful. "Jesus, Ron … it's good to see you."
Ron's grin in return was a little wobbly. "Likewise," he managed.
There was a dithering moment as they looked at each other, and Snape let out an impatient sigh.
"Oh, for heaven's sake! Go ahead and chew each other's ears – or whatever – if you must. Just don't do anything to alarm our guards outside. Or me!" And he turned his back, huffing.
It was all the invitation Ron needed and he seized Harry in a bone-crushing hug. There was a long pause, during which Harry simply gripped his friend fiercely and buried his face in the curve of his neck, breathing in the familiar Ron-smell with a relief so intense it was almost painful.
After a moment, Ron mumbled in his ear, "You silly git, what the hell do you think you're doing, coming here?"
Harry snorted. "Prat! Did you honestly think I was going to leave you here?" He pulled back a fraction, and rubbed the side of his face wryly. "Nice stubble! Don't they let you shave?"
"Nah, I reckon they think I might do myself in with the razor." Ron grinned a little and ran a hand over his chin, where the beginnings of a fine red beard were growing. Then his eyes slid past Harry to Snape, and widened.
It wasn't Snape anymore. It was Draco.
The blond wizard was tugging resignedly on a set of austere black robes that were a little too large for him, and eyeing Ron with irritation.
"What?" he demanded. "You didn't seriously think Snape of all people would agree to help Harry out, did you? Especially not with something like this?"
"But – "
"Polyjuice," Harry explained. "We did actually ask Snape to help us, but he wouldn't, which wasn't really any big surprise. So we went to Plan B."
"Hitting him over the head, pinching some hair for the potion, and stuffing him in the store cupboard," replied Draco. "Fortunately, Harry had the presence of mind to bring along a bottle of that Polyjuice potion we brewed over the summer. Not that it's of much use now." He looked angry and worried.
"His supply of the potion was in those vials Voldemort took from him. That's what we were talking about," Harry said, and there was a tense pause.
"We're in a real mess now, then," said Ron, and Draco laughed mirthlessly.
"I think that's putting it mildly!"
"Yeah, but you don't know the half of it," Ron snapped back at him, and he sat down on the end of the bed. "God, if only you knew …."
"Tell us," Harry said, and he looked around for a chair. He grabbed a sturdy specimen from near the window, and Draco slowly followed suit. "Tell us what happened when Voldemort brought you here."
"Is Hermione all right?"
"She's fine. They found her in the cellar under Flourish and Blotts. And we know about the impostor, although we don't know who it was."
"Nick Curtis," Ron said, and rubbed a hand over his face. He saw Harry's expression. "That's a minor detail, believe me. Look, there's two things you really need to know. Harry, Dumbledore's here."
A pin could have been heard dropping in the silence that followed this. Harry gaped disbelievingly, then looked at Draco and was staggered to see that he didn't look at all surprised – only resigned.
"What – I don't – I mean, how?" he demanded.
Ron gave an unhappy little laugh. "Polyjuice again! Honestly, if we ever get out of here alive, I'm going to make it my personal quest to destroy every copy of that potion recipe in existence."
"But – "
"My father?" Draco interrupted, looking at Ron.
The redhead nodded tiredly. "A couple of weeks ago, according to Dumbledore. He turned up at Hogwarts."
"You knew about this?" Harry broke in, staring at Draco.
"I didn't know – not for certain. I was suspicious." The blond wizard sighed. "Look, Harry, when Dumbledore came to the student house the other evening, something was off about his behaviour. I couldn't work it out at first, and then I realised what it was – there was just something about the way he phrased things, the way he was standing - it reminded me of my father. Then, when he said he was calling off the search for Ron, I grew suspicious, because you know Dumbledore would never do that, and I don't believe he would ever expect you to do it, either. And when he said we had to stay locked up in the house and he would come and look after us personally … well, I didn't want to hang around to make sure of my suspicions."
He saw Harry's expression. "Harry, it didn't make sense, you know it didn't! Dumbledore, to keep the pair of us shut away, when he needed everyone available? What point was there in spending the summer training us, if he wasn't going to make use of us – even if Ron wasn't around?"
"But why the hell didn't you tell me?" demanded Harry, aghast. "Do you realise what your father is probably doing right at this minute? He has command over the Order of the Phoenix! They're probably all walking into traps as we speak – and we could have stopped it – "
"No – we couldn't," Draco snapped back sharply. "For crying out loud, Harry – I wasn't even sure at that point. Would you have believed me if I'd tried to tell you? And if you had, who would we have told? Who would have believed a story like that, coming from me?"
"Sirius – "
"I'm sure your impulsive godfather is a very righteous man, Harry, but please. Even if he'd listened to a preposterous story like that, are you absolutely certain anyone else would have? With his history?" Draco sighed and rubbed his eyes. "And yes, I'm sure Lupin would have listened to all three of us, but the man's a werewolf. Face it – the pair of them have the odds against them, and when you add me to the mixture, it doesn't seem very likely, does it? And believe me, the last thing we would then need is for a story like that to get back to my father. I'm willing to bet we'd have all been dead by daylight."
There was a long, rather shocked silence after this.
Finally, Harry shook it off and turned back to Ron. "Is Dumbledore all right? What's Voldemort doing to him?"
"Torturing him," Ron replied bluntly. "He's in a hell of a mess. I don't know what they're doing to him, but Avery's here, which should tell you everything."
Draco flinched, probably thinking of Pansy Parkinson.
"What about you?" Harry persisted. "Is he treating you alright? Has he told you what he wants from you?"
Ron hesitated, clearly reluctant to go into this. "I'm okay," he said finally. "He got rough with me once or twice, but it's no big deal. As for what he wants me for – well, I got the impression when I first arrived that even he wasn't sure about that, but it's all become clear since then."
There was a tiny pause.
"And?" Draco prompted.
"And that's the other thing I need to tell you about." Ron looked at Harry, and there was fear in his eyes. "He wanted me to raise the dead."
Something froze into a lump in Harry's guts. "Wanted?" he repeated. "Past tense?"
Ron nodded unhappily.
"Who did you raise?" Draco asked, alarmed.
"There's something you have to understand before I tell you that." Ron scrubbed his face with both hands, as if to try and rub some horrible image from his eyes. "Look – when someone is called back from the dead like that, they don't come back whole. There's no body. It's just a spirit held in one place by restrictive wards. According to the books Voldemort gave me, mostly when you summon a spirit, it's like clairvoyancy – you call them up to ask them something and then send them away again. But if you want to keep them here, then you have to … find them a host. A body to support the spirit. There are different ways to do it."
"But wouldn't that be like possession?" Harry asked doubtfully.
Ron nodded. "It would – exactly like possession."
There was another silence.
"Who did you raise?" Draco repeated, his voice rising. "And who are they possessing?"
"I thought it was going to be that Curtis bloke," Ron said unhappily. "But when Voldemort made me raise him, Curtis wasn't in the room. I swear I had no idea what he was going to ask me to do, but even if I had – "
"Ron, no one's blaming you!" Harry broke in quickly. "But we have to know what happened – "
"That's the point!" Ron blurted out. "It was Voldemort! He was the host."
"Oh shit," Draco said, and slumped back in his chair. "I knew there was something funny about the way he was acting, but I couldn't put my finger on it."
"Who did you raise?" Harry said quietly. "We need to know what we're dealing with here."
Ron glanced a little fearfully from one to the other of them. Then he said unsteadily, "It was Grindelwald."
Silence. Then Draco sucked in a horrified breath and lurched out of his seat, turning away from the others.
Harry simply stared at Ron numbly. "Grindelwald?"
"Grindelwald," Ron confirmed miserably.
At the sound of this ridiculously inadequate expletive, Draco began to laugh a little hysterically.
"Th-that doesn't begin to cover it, Potter!" he choked.
"So," Harry said, ignoring him, "we're not dealing with just one Dark Lord – we're dealing with two. That complicates things a bit, doesn't it?"
"I'm sorry," Ron muttered. "I couldn't do anything to stop it – Voldemort's Seers are pretty weak, but together they were enough to make sure I didn't deliberately balls up the séance. I couldn't even make it onto the Astral Plane without them following me."
"It's okay," Harry reassured him, but Draco turned on him, furious.
"No, Potter, it is not okay!" he snapped. "We had precious little chance of dealing with Voldemort from the start, but this completely changes things. Don't you know that Grindelwald was as mad as a hatter by the time Dumbledore took him out? And I'm willing to bet he's no saner for fifty-odd years on the other side!"
"That's true," Ron admitted. "All spirits are different once they pass over, but he was – well, he was a long way from normal, even for a dead person. I tried to tell Voldemort, but he wasn't listening. He wants the power he thinks Grindelwald can give him."
Harry looked at him suddenly. "And can he?" he asked.
"Can he what?"
"Give Voldemort power?"
Ron looked blank. "Well, I don't know – I suppose so – "
"But does Voldemort control Grindelwald, or is it the other way around?" Harry wanted to know. "Because when we covered possession in Defence Against the Dark Arts, I got the impression that the host has very little control, if any."
"I don't know," Ron admitted. "I've never done this before, so I don't know if there's much difference. From what I read in Voldemort's books, letting the spirit possess a living person is pretty dangerous and generally not done. In fact, it wasn't recommended to let the spirit possess anything animate, although if it had to be done, something easily controlled was recommended – something like a dog maybe. But mostly a wizard would create a statue or golem to be the host, which could be destroyed easily in the event that anything went wrong."
"So if the host is destroyed, the spirit goes – where?"
"Back to the ether," Ron said more confidently. "Without a ritual circle and wards, the spirit can't inhabit this plane in its natural state. It's not a like a ghost, which has a non-corporeal tie to this world."
"Great – we're back to square one," Draco said sourly. "We still have to destroy Voldemort. In fact, presumably we have to destroy his body completely, or Grindelwald will simply carry on using it, right?"
"Not … necessarily," Ron said, and for the first time a faint smile crossed his face. "Destroying the body would be best, without a doubt. But in any case, once Voldemort's spirit is gone Grindelwald might have trouble controlling his body. It takes a particular kind of magic to animate a corpse, and possessing it won't be enough. He won't have the tie to the flesh that Voldemort himself had. And while he was trying, he'd be vulnerable – a Seer could probably send him back to the ether."
Harry knew that smile. "You've got something up your sleeve, haven't you? Something that might help?"
"I'm not sure how we can use it just yet," Ron cautioned him, "but it's better than nothing."
"So? Give!" Draco told him impatiently.
"Voldemort's servants here are zombies."
Draco stared at him, revolted. "Lovely – "
"No, this is a good thing," Ron assured him. "Because it takes a necromancer to control them. I'm guessing one of Voldemort's Seers is controlling them – someone like de Larouyenne, maybe. He seems to have an edge over the others. But I'm a hell of a lot stronger than him, and I could probably take control of them anytime I wanted. I don't think Voldemort's realised that yet."
"Have you tried?" Draco asked sceptically.
Ron gave him an old-fashioned look. "No. The minute I try anything like that, they'll know, won't they?"
"True. But this is brilliant – if it works. This could be our way out of here."
"That's what I was thinking."
But Harry shook his head. "I don't see how we could do it. We need to get Dumbledore out of here, for one thing, and even once we're out of the castle, I'm not sure how we'd get home again – "
"How did you get here?" Ron asked, puzzled.
Harry held up his left wrist, where his gold bracelet shone. "Draco was able to turn this into a kind of portkey. I didn't realise at first, but I looked for you first on the Astral Plane and … and someone there who helped me was able to use my bracelet to trace you. Apparently it's connected to yours."
"It is," Ron said, touching his, and his sudden smile was like the sun coming out.
"Yes, marvellous," Draco muttered irritably. "Get to the point will you? I don't think we have time for making eyes at each other."
Harry looked irritated, but continued. "So Draco turned the bracelet into a portkey that would take us to wherever the other bracelet was. Which was great for getting us here, but won't be much use for taking us home again."
"If we could reform the circle, we could Apparate," Ron pointed out. "But that's out of the question while I have this thing on me – " he pointed to Voldemort's leather band around his wrist, "and we don't have our wands."
Harry took his hand, examining the leather band. "If we find something sharp, we might be able to cut it off. Voldemort doesn't strike me as being someone who thinks of non-magical solutions like that. But until we can do that – "
"I don't think listing the things we don't have or can't do is very helpful!" Draco interrupted, in exasperation. "Can we focus on what we do have, please? I want to get out of here before Himself finds out that I'm not really Snape."
"I can take control of Voldemort's servants," Ron said, when Harry made no comment. "That would allow us to get out of here – probably – but I don't know if we'd be able to rescue Dumbledore. I don't know where they're keeping him, for one thing – "
"Easy – get one of the servants to take us there," Harry commented. "Or better still, get them to bring him to us. No one will question them, will they?"
"I don't think so." Although Ron looked a little uncertain. "But that still leaves Voldemort, Avery, and the Seers. This is a bloody big castle, but they know it and we don't. And once we're outside if we don't have a means of transporting ourselves, we're in trouble. Have you seen where we are? This place is like somewhere out of a legend, stuck right on the side of a mountain. We aren't going to be walking home in a hurry."
"We can't walk out of here anyway," Harry said flatly. "Not with Voldemort still alive. That was one of the main objectives of this mission."
The other two stared at him.
"The main objective of this mission," Draco said sharply, "was to rescue Ron. Killing Voldemort was a side issue."
"All the same – "
"All the same nothing! We have no wands, no circle and one very risky chance of getting out of here. We are not indulging in any bloody stupid heroics, Potter!"
"And just how stupid would it be to get ourselves out of the castle, only for them to hunt us down outside?" asked Harry, equally sharply. "We're in Transylvania, Draco! Think of some of the things that live in the forests around here – vampires and werewolves just for starters, and by the way, it's a full moon either tonight or tomorrow, in case you'd forgotten. Besides, while we're faffing around here, your father is sending half the Order of the Phoenix to their deaths! Meanwhile, we're right here on top of Voldemort and we have this one chance to do something about him. I think that's more important than saving our own skins, don't you?"
There was a pause.
"You're nuts," Draco said finally. "At the risk of repeating myself, we have no wands and no circle. What the hell are we supposed to kill him with? Because believe me, killing that – that thing is the only way we're going to be rid of him. We aren't going to be handing him over to Mad-Eye Moody - not in this lifetime."
Ron looked from one to the other of them nervously, but decided not to say anything.
Harry dug his hands into his pockets, considering them both for a moment. "I think we don't know what's going to come up," he said eventually. "What we do have is one vital ace-in-the-hole – Ron. I think taking control of Voldemort's servants at the right moment could present us with a lot of opportunities. And it's not as though we have to kill him with magic – there are plenty of other ways to die, after all. The only thing I'm worried about is Voldemort's Seers. Ron, do you think they could cause us any problems? It's no good us planning to set the servants loose and jump him, if one of them is going to tell him beforehand."
"I don't know," Ron admitted, frowning, "but I don't think they're all that strong, really. I've watched them since I've been here and they're pretty weak - they seem to need a lot of preparation before they can see anything. They can't just sense things, they have to use a scrying bowl or mirror or something similar. So the less planning we do, the better really, and pray we get a chance sooner rather than later. The longer Voldemort leaves us here, the more opportunity the Seers have of working out that we're up to something."
Draco stared at him, perplexed. "But if they're looking, won't they know we're going to jump him or something anyway?"
"That's why I said we have to hope they won't have time to look," Ron replied patiently. "Although if we don't know what we're planning to do either, then they might not get a clear reading anyway. Too many possibilities, especially to people who don't have a strong gift."
"In that case, I think we should just stay calm and wait to see what possibilities come up," Harry said. He rubbed at his scar for a moment, wincing.
"Is it hurting?" Ron asked softly.
"A bit. It was worse when I was standing right in front of him, but I think he's either annoyed about something or – I don't know, maybe excited right now." Harry dropped his hand, self-conscious under the concerned looks of the other two. "Don't look at me like that. A pain in my scar is the least of our problems."
A sudden clunk, followed by the door swinging open, distracted them all. Half a dozen of Voldemort's servants filed through the doorway and stood waiting. Clearly they were to be escorted somewhere else.
"Looks like too much time won't be a problem after all," said Ron, after a tiny pause.
"Good," Harry replied quietly. "Just remember, Ron – don't act too soon. Pick your moment."
The redhead nodded and squared his shoulders, stepping towards the door.
Harry held Draco back at the last moment. "Draco, listen to me," he whispered quickly. "Voldemort's likely to want to deal with me first. So if an opportunity comes – if he's distracted or something – get yourself, Ron, and Dumbledore if possible, out of here. Do you understand?"
He gave the blond wizard no chance to reply, stepping hastily ahead of him to follow Ron out of the room.
When they returned to the big hall, it had changed. Gone was the throne in the centre of the room, and in its place was a wide circular platform of stone perhaps a foot high. Around the walls stood dozens of tall stands topped with blazing torches, and in front of them stood row upon row of Voldemort's black-clad servants.
In the centre of the room were three figures: Voldemort himself, Avery and – huddled on the floor at Avery's feet – was a pathetic wreck of a figure that could only be Dumbledore. Seeing him, Harry had to fight down a surge of rage, for there was a collar around the old wizard's neck and Avery held him on a leash like a dog. But Dumbledore himself seemed oblivious to the treatment; whatever had been done to him had rendered him insensible.
The three of them were marched up to Voldemort by their guards, and there was a pause as the two groups regarded each other. Then Voldemort smiled lazily.
"Do you like my new pet, Harry?" he asked, indicating Dumbledore.
But Harry wasn't looking at him. Cold fire sparked in his veins and his course of action was suddenly very clear to him.
"You remind me of someone," he said to Avery coldly.
The man smirked. "And who would that be, Potter?"
"My cousin Dudley," Harry told him. "A fat, brainless Muggle who's only capable of getting his jollies by tormenting people who are weaker than him. In short – a complete loser."
There was a tiny, startled silence in which Avery began to turn purple with fury. Ignoring him, Harry turned back to Voldemort and said bluntly, "You realise this has been your problem all along, don't you? You hang around with the wrong sort of people. If your ambition is to be the greatest wizard in history, you're hardly going to succeed by surrounding yourself with people like him – " and he waved a contemptuous hand at the spluttering Avery. "He's the lowest of the low. You might think that'll make you look bigger and better, but all it'll do is show people that you're bigger and better than him. And frankly, that's not saying much. People tend to judge a man by the company he keeps, you know."
For a moment even Voldemort gaped at him, astonished. Ron and Draco were giving him worried looks and had gone very quiet and still, as though hoping they would avoid anyone's notice by making themselves small and invisible.
Then Voldemort laughed – a cold but definitely amused sound.
"Harry Potter!" he chuckled. "My my! Almost – almost! – I'm tempted to let you live. I don't believe I've ever had an opponent try to offer me career advice before I kill him. Especially not someone who takes orders from others."
"That was image advice," Harry corrected him coolly. "There's no point in offering career advice to someone who's going to be dead himself shortly. And as for me taking orders – well, if I took orders, I wouldn't be here now, would I?"
Voldemort's amusement faded and his lizard-like gaze fastened onto Harry's face. "Young fool. Are you really fantasising that you can destroy me? With no wand and no friends to assist you?"
Harry shrugged, apparently unconcerned. "My friends are always with me," he pointed out, "although I don't expect you to understand that, as you don't actually possess any real friends, do you? As for destroying you, that remains to be seen, doesn't it? I might ask how you think you're going to destroy me. After all, I might have a trick or two up my sleeve yet, you know."
Voldemort looked at him coolly. "I think not," he replied.
Harry just shrugged. Then he looked around the room. "Not quite the audience I was hoping for," he commented, feigning disappointment. "Where are all your followers, Voldemort? This bunch of things isn't quite the same, is it? They don't seem very responsive."
"My followers are engaged in a far more entertaining task," Voldemort shrugged. His lips twitched in a cruel smile. "So sorry to disappoint you, dear boy, but your overdue demise hardly rates the attention of my inner circle. You'll have to be content with Avery here – now I would imagine he is particularly keen to see you depart your mortal coil after your little character assassination."
From the look on Avery's face, that was an understatement. His eyes were fixed on Harry with a vicious heat that seemed to fall somewhere between bloodlust and a lust of an entirely more unpleasant variety.
Voldemort's own attention had wandered from Harry and finally came to rest upon Draco. The blond wizard did his best not to flinch from the gaze of his former master, but Harry could see the muscles cording in his neck and shallow breathing. His skin was almost transparently pale.
This seemed to amuse the Dark wizard even more than Harry's defiance. "Of course," he purred, circling Draco slowly, "one member of my inner circle would have found this vastly amusing, I do not doubt. We shall have to save your demise for his triumphal return, my very dear boy. One wouldn't want to deprive Lucius of his final revenge upon his heir, would we? Dear me, masquerading as Severus too – almost too amusing. Of course, I suppose you couldn't have known of his impending fall from grace, could you? Being as you had cut yourself off from all reliable sources of information. Well, perhaps I can persuade your father to spare you long enough to witness Severus's return to me. It promises to be most entertaining – one wouldn't want you to miss it."
Draco wisely said nothing to this – although it seemed to Harry, watching his rigid face, that the blond youth probably couldn't have spoken even if he'd been inclined to. He was frozen to one spot, petrified.
It occurred to Harry then to wonder why he himself wasn't more afraid, for this situation had to be the worst he had ever been in. His scar was like a newly-placed brand on his forehead, searing with fiery pain, and there was an even chance that he was going to die in the next fifteen minutes.
A far greater than even chance, in fact. Harry was no statistician, but he placed the odds at something like ninety-nine to a hundred percent, if what he had read in his mother's little book was correct.
But he had already accepted those odds, having recognised his probable death from the first moment he had read that chapter in the book, back in the library at Hogwarts at the end of August. His acceptance had only grown with each successive reading.
And when you looked at it, it wasn't such a big deal really. He'd already had a pretty good run at life, all things considered. From the moment Voldemort had first tried to kill him, from the fluke that had resulted in his survival that day, Harry Potter had been living on borrowed time. Really, considering the number of near-fatal incidents he'd had throughout his life, it was a wonder that he'd even made it to twenty-one. And yes, even until quite recently he'd been making plans for his future, determined that Voldemort wasn't going to win.
Well, he wasn't about to win now. The only difference was that Harry had finally accepted the truth – that in order to rid himself, and everyone else, of this menace, he was going to have to give up his dreams for the future.
Sometimes, in order to attain great goals, you had to make great sacrifices.
It wasn't such a great thing, when you looked at it properly. One life in order to save a lot more, including the lives of many people who meant a great deal to him. That was the important thing.
Time to get on with it.
Harry let out a noisy and impatient sigh. "Are we waiting for something in particular?" he asked Voldemort, a little sharply and in a tone calculated to annoy. "A team of reporters from the Daily Prophet perhaps? Or a string quartet to play soothing background music ?"
Voldemort's red eyes flashed. "So eager to die, boy?"
Harry bared his teeth in something resembling a grin. "So keen to put it off?"
Murderous fury rose in the Dark wizard's pale lizard visage for a moment, sending the pain ripping through Harry's scar. Then he somehow controlled himself, for which Harry was secretly grateful – he couldn't see how he was going to do what had to be done if he was nearly blinded with pain before he even started.
"Very well!" Voldemort snapped. "Hold these two!" This last was directed at the servants, four of whom hurried forward to take hold of Draco and Ron.
Ron finally found a voice to express his panic. "Harry – Harry don't – "
Harry shot one searing look at him. "Just do it, Ron," he said, and tried to force as much meaning into those words as he could. Then he looked at Draco, who was staring at him, wide-eyed. "You too."
He turned his back on them, looking at Voldemort. "I'm ready when you are."
"Harry – !"
They faced each other across the circular stone dais.
Voldemort was seemed to bristle with a weird hyper-excitement that Harry had never imagined such a cold-blooded creature could feel. It sent odd prickles of sensation across his scar, not exactly painful, but strange, like a cold finger being run delicately over the mark, and he wondered if this was some manifestation of the Dark wizard's possession by Grindelwald. If it was, he could only imagine at his self-control; Ron's explanation of the situation had rather left him with the impression that Voldemort would be behaving irrationally, given that the other Dark wizard co-existing with him was supposed to be quite mad.
To try and break the tension, he asked, "I suppose you're intending another duel, then?"
"You're a bright lad!" Voldemort marvelled mockingly
"At the risk of repeating myself, we can't duel if I don't have a wand," Harry reminded him. Not that he seriously thought his opponent would indulge him in that.
Nor did he. "It suits me quite well that you should be wandless," Voldemort told him, amused. "You can be assured that I learned from the last occasion, and we wouldn't want anything to upset the formalities this time, would we? And just in case your friends there should take it into their heads to do anything foolish, I think we must take precautions against our being interrupted, don't you? A little wall to keep intruders away - "
He flicked his wand and a wall of flames suddenly sprang up around the dais through which the others could just be seen. Harry heard Ron cry out and Avery, who was watching from just outside, was visibly agitated.
"Master, do you think this wise? What if something should happen – "
Voldemort's sharp glare silenced him. "Are you presuming to suggest that I can't kill one unarmed boy, Avery?"
"No, Master, I only thought – "
"Don't think, Avery. It ill becomes you, and I don't recall giving you permission in any case."
Avery subsided unhappily, and Voldemort turned back to face Harry.
"Shall we begin?" he asked, smiling.
"Just a minute ...." Harry was fumbling with the left sleeve of his shirt. "Since you won't let me have my own wand, I suppose I'll just have to – " He paused, pulling at something, and with a grunt of satisfaction dragged it free. A scrap of silk floated to the floor, and in Harry's hand was a wand; a rather damaged, charred specimen, but a wand nonetheless.
His mother's wand to be precise.
"I'll just have to provide one of my own," Harry finished, and smiled a little at Voldemort's expression. "You know, you really need to get more reliable servants than a pack of zombies. Something with a little intelligence of its own, perhaps. They totally missed this when they searched me." Then his humour faded. "Perhaps you remember it. My mother was holding it the night you murdered her." He swished the wand a little and red sparks spluttered from the end. "A nice wand for charm work," he quoted softly.
A sharp laugh drew his attention back to the wizard opposite him. Voldemort was eyeing the wand with contempt. "Do you seriously think that a wand in that condition can be enough to do battle against me?"
A curious calm settled over Harry then. This was it.
"Were you planning on a battle?" he asked quietly. "I wasn't. Not even before I came here. Draco had this notion that if only we could free Ron, the three of us might be able to use the Avada Kedavra curse against you, but I couldn't shake off the idea that you might somehow survive it again. So I came up with something better. Something more ... passive.
"I'm not stupid, you know. I don't think if the two of us really went head to head that I could beat you. You may not be quite the wizard that Dumbledore is, but you still have a huge advantage over me – more strength, more experience, far greater knowledge. Me – I'm a good wizard, but I'm not a genius. But thanks to Mum – and to a friend of mine who died recently – I realised I had something better to use against you."
Harry smiled almost apologetically at Voldemort then.
"Something which, ironically, you gave me. And that's all I need Mum's wand for now. Abscindo venas," he commanded softly, and he drew the tip of his mother's wand across his left wrist. Blood blossomed from the cut.
Voldemort stared, incredulous. "My dear boy, had you wished to commit suicide then all you need do was say the word – "
Then a desperate cry – Ron, driven nearly frantic by what he saw Harry doing – drew his eyes away from Harry for a second. There was a second cry, this time sounding like Avery. Something was happening outside the wall of fire. Harry used that moment of inattention to cut his other wrist and, after a split second's consideration, he lengthened the open slice on his left wrist up to the elbow, pulling his unbuttoned sleeve out of the way awkwardly. The cuts hurt more than he had expected, and he felt a moment of amusement when Voldemort suddenly jerked at the pain and looked down at his own wrists in disbelief. Blood was dripping from them to the floor, and his eyes sought out Harry's in a stunned question.
"You took my blood from me when you resurrected yourself," Harry explained, almost gently. "I don't think you realised that it was a form of power-raising – using my blood to strengthen yourself. The only problem is that it tied your life to mine. So when I die, you die too."
"Impossible," Voldemort rasped, and he raised his own wand, casting a spell to heal his wrists. It failed.
"I think you'd probably have to do that to me as well," Harry told him. He felt a little odd; because he was standing up, the blood was draining more quickly.
With a sharp oath, Voldemort leapt towards him – only to slam to a sudden halt when Harry quickly moved the wand-tip to his jugular.
"How fast do you think you can be?" he asked, taking a couple of steps backwards. "Maybe you could get to me before I cut my throat – who knows? Or maybe you'll do it but you won't have the strength left for a spell to heal me in time. Maybe your blood flows differently – I don't know, with all that snake in you, you must be pretty cold-blooded. But it's hot here with that fire-wall you set up. Could that make a difference? You tell me."
They stared at each other, Voldemort wavering in place. Then he took another step towards Harry.
Harry whispered the severing charm again, giving himself a nick over the jugular. Blood began to flow, not quite in the quick pulsing spurts a bigger cut would have achieved, but fast enough. A similar cut appeared on Voldemort's throat; he gasped and pressed a blood-slicked hand over it. It made no difference.
Harry decided to sit down. He made it to his knees, his wand still held warningly to his throat. His head felt heavy and swimming, and he wondered for a moment why he didn't just cut his throat completely. It would be quicker, but he was forced to admit that he didn't quite have the courage for that. Death might be death, but cutting his throat – that was a big step.
Although he already had, hadn't he? He could feel the blood running down the inside of his t-shirt, thick and warm, and the heavy metallic smell filled his nostrils.
Something was happening outside the fire-wall; something noisy. Harry could hear shouting, but it wasn't as loud as his own heartbeat seemed to be in his ears. He watched the figures running around with a distant curiosity and hoped that this meant Ron and Draco would safely escape with Dumbledore. There was nothing more he could do for them anyway.
A sound from a few feet away drew his attention; Voldemort had slumped to his knees too. His eyes were still fixed on Harry, red and glaring with hatred.
"To hell with you, Potter," he muttered thickly, and raised his wand slowly.
Harry wondered idly if he would managed to cast the curse, but the effort was beyond the wizard. The wand slipped from his fingers and clattered to the floor; after a moment its owner joined it. With a sigh of relief Harry did the same, letting the cold stone floor take his weight.
He felt so tired and his vision was wavering, becoming misty and monochrome.
He wondered if Ron would forgive him for this. It was too bad that he hadn't had a better opportunity to say goodbye – to explain, perhaps, what he was doing and why. Although would Ron have understood? Harry didn't think so, but he regretted the deception all the same. He didn't want Ron to hate him for this – or Draco – but he didn't think either of them would have let him go through with it if they'd known.
He would miss Ron so much.
With that thought uppermost in his mind, he let himself slip quietly into darkness.
End Part 29/30
Beth Ann – Glad you thought it was scary, because I kept thinking Voldemort wasn't scary enough. Mind you, it's hard to know what different people will think is scary. Personally, I find dangerous people being polite is disturbing, but that's just me. And maybe the plate of rodents was a bit OTT ....
SparkySparkles - Your questions should at least partly be answered now ….
Jennavette - Well, it was rather fun to write although I can't decide whether I made Voldemort scary enough. He's such a hard character to get a grip on because really only JKR knows what motivates him. Glad you enjoyed it though ….
mIcHi - Ron is very sensibly afraid of Voldemort, hence the politeness. I should think that before he actually met him, he had notions of how brave he would be during a confrontation, which were a bit dashed when it happened in reality! As for Voldemort making him comfortable, well he did! I think Voldemort was really quite nice to him, under the circumstances.
Megan - Cho's another character I can't get a grip on, so she got a bit left out of this fic. Maybe she'll make more of an appearance if I write any ficlets later. But I'm glad you're still enjoying this *smile*
PotterBrother - I toyed with not showing what actually happened to Ron, but there were too many elements that needed looking at from his viewpoint. Besides, it was nice to have a Ron-centric chapter just for once. Regarding Dumbledore, I didn't really make an effort to make him OOC at the student house, so it's nice that my thinking on that scene came through anyway *smile*
Quoth the Raven - Lucius Malfoy has been a busy boy, hasn't he? As you'll find out in Chapter 30. I hope this chapter lives up to expectations, although I'll admit I have my doubts *chews nails* Hopefully many of the threads will start falling into place for everyone. It certain is interesting that Voldmeort should be so fascinated with death - especially as he seems to expend a lot of energy on trying to cheat it. But I'm willing to bet he isn't a trusting person at all, so the zombie servants make sense. (To me, anyway!)
Rainyday - Hm. I didn't think Voldemort was very scary, so I'm glad you think he was! That's a relief. As for Ron - yes, he's that insecure. Well, he seriously thought Harry might be interested in Draco, didn't he! He's trying to be noble too, which would get him into trouble with Harry if Harry were there …. What's up with Draco and Cho? *grin* I think he liked it when she started throwing him around the practice floor.
Shorty Spooky - Oh Lord! If you hated the last cliff-hanger, you'll hate this one even more! Sorry *grins unrepentantly*
Ice Lupus - I hope, after thinking the rest of the story was intelligent, you aren't disappointed by the final couple of chapters ….
Calliope 14 – Ron's definitely in a very tight spot, and I didn't think it would be out of character for this older, wiser, more experienced Ron to handle Voldemort with more temperance than his usual hot-headedness might suggest. After all, he clearly does have tactical and strategic abilities or he wouldn't play chess as well as he does. He knows he has something Voldemort wants, which gives him some elbow room; and as far as the necromancy is concerned, he knows it won't get him very far to refuse Voldemort, so he plays along for the time being. There's another angle too. It's just possible that if Ron refuses to do it, Voldemort will kill him and go after the other Seer who might be able to help him ... Ron's gran. I'm sure he's as aware of that as he is of the risk he poses to Harry's safety. Overall, it's a pretty nasty position to be in!
Sally – You thought Voldemort was too nice? Aaagh! Oh well, if it takes rats to convince you – bring on more rats! The companion story will be posted, I just can't decide when. Possibly after this one now, since we're so close to the end. As for my writing being good, you wouldn't say that if you could see the original story I'm supposed to be working on. It's hammy and cliched and the size of a doorstop. Even I'm afraid of it *grin*
Nayako – Glad you liked it! Hang in there – not much further to go ....
Jadea – I suppose I was projecting onto Ron a little there, but my first thought when I read of his appearance in The Goblet of Fire was "Ugly!". And I can't imagine Ron having a conventional reaction anyway *grin* No mpreg in BSC? Well ... whew! No harm to people who read and write mpreg fics, but personally I just don't get it. (Hope I'm not disappointing anyone there!)
PoisonSnakey – That's our Ron all right! Brave to the last ....
Return to Archive | next | previous