A/N: I am starting this chapter out by agreeing that I owe you all many apologies. And although I know you don't want excuses, here are mine anyway. I just started my sophomore year of high school this year, and it's been taking up all my writing time; being in honors classes and captain of color guard…

Well then, all of my favorite fics that had been put on hiatus began showing updates… I felt left out. ^_^ So here you go, the long anticipated chapter 18 of Water and Ashes. Sorry if you've all forgotten the key points of this story, here is a quick summary for those of you with that problem.

Ginny and Draco were on a late night stroll along the grounds, because Draco was trying to find a moment to tell Ginny about what he'd overheard in the hospital wing. Ginny gets caught up in the barrier in the outside rim of camp, and neither of them knows what's going on. There is something weird about that necklace Draco gave her, and they recently learned how to portal themselves to safety, momentarily. Blaise is being her usual moody self and Harry apologized? Oh, and Draco has a little sister who died a long time ago.

I hope that gets you caught up. And now, on with Water and Ashes.

~*~

"I'm sorry."

It took a few moments, as expected, for the words to register in Blaise's head. 'I'm sorry'… such a simple statement, and yet… this time it seemed to be more. She could almost feel her anger melting away as she stared at Harry Potter's caring green eyes.

"Sod off." The words were gone before she could pull them back, and instantly, Blaise Zabini found herself cursing her immediate sarcasm. She watched, feeling shamelessly terrible, as Harry's beautiful eyes lowered into a darkened state of distress.

He turned on his heel with one last grieving glance, and stalked out of her end of the room.

-

Blaise could feel her knuckles swelling, and the dent in the wall didn't really go with the ambience of the rest of the room. She couldn't stand being this angry, especially at herself. What was she supposed to write in her diary this time?

"I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself…"

No. She needed to finally face her fear. She'd been living this sheltered, reclusive life way too bloody long. When her parents had died, she had sworn off contact with anyone. She'd never had a real friend, or anybody to talk to. Her parents had spent the few years she knew them filling their house with dark artifacts, and talked to her only to tell her how much she would enjoy being a death eater when her time came. And when she told them she didn't want to; when she said she'd wanted to play Quidditch or write for the Prophet, her mother had cried and her father had beat her. Her own father and mother, the ones who were supposed to love her. If they didn't even care about her, how could anybody else?

After that, it was all downhill. Every time someone smiled or tried to be friendly with her, Blaise put up her icy front. Turned down their kind offers, and stayed alone. Alone for so long.

And then along came Draco, and Ginny. Blaise had no idea what it was, but she had felt something about those two. They were just so openly content in each other's company, yet didn't have to be the sappy people that Blaise had been disgusted by her whole life. They were in love, but their love was different.

She didn't know love. She never had. To Blaise, love was fear. Never once had she been able to understand that to love gave the ability to feel safe, safe from everything in the world.

Not that she wanted to be in love, or anything.

-

"Are you going to be all right tonight, love?" Draco asked, standing with Ginny just outside the cabin.

She had felt dizzy just a little while before, but now that the whole ordeal was passed, she felt absolutely fine.

"I feel absolutely fine," Ginny assured him, voicing her thoughts, and leaning in for a goodnight kiss. They figured they would spare Blaise and Harry from the sight by staying outside. Besides, it was pleasantly warm at night here, and being outside wasn't uncomfortable in the slightest.

When they broke apart, Ginny smiled. "Thanks, Draco."

His eyes showed puzzlement. "For what, Gin?"

Her hair bobbed as she spun around, not quite sure how to answer. "Oh, I don't know. For being so wonderful."

The comment struck him off guard, and he caught Ginny by the elbow mid spin. "What do you mean?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Draco, why are you making me explain myself?"

She was met by silence.

"Okay, fine. I mean… what has it been? A few months? And you treat me like gold. I hardly think I deserve all that."

This time it was Draco's turn to roll his eyes. "Don't ruin a good moment, Ginny. You deserve so much more than I can give you." He was about to let his lips fall on her when she dodged it, which seemed to almost upset him.

"Draco! What is this!? You are being… sappy!"

He grinned, trying for another kiss. "A bit out of character, isn't it…" His words died on her lips.

-

A perfect end to a not so perfect night. For some, at least. Draco went to his room to find Harry lying flat on his bed, staring at the ceiling with glassy eyes, and hands crossed over his chest.

Draco sat down on the bed, with a goofy grin parading his features, completely forgetting what he had to talk to Ginny about in the morning.

"What's eating you, Potter?" His voice wasn't cruel, daunting, or snide. Maybe a little bit forceful, but not bad-natured.

"Women." The raven haired boy voiced without moving a muscle.

Chuckling, Draco took a step closer. "Women, eh? Women in general?" He raised his eyebrows suggestively. "Or just one in particular?"

Feigning contempt, Harry rolled over, away from Draco. "Never mind."

Given his lighthearted mood, Draco decided not to drop the subject, but to ride it out. He hopped up onto the end of Harry's bunk, and began jumping up and down to annoy the distressed boy.

Harry covered his face with a pillow, and when Draco didn't let up, threw it across the room.

"What in bloody hell are you doing, Malfoy?"

Instead of answering, Draco gracefully leaped from the bed onto the floor, lost in thought.

"Malfoy?"

"I've got a wonderful idea!" Draco shouted, grin spreading wildly across his face. He knew he was being obnoxious, but it was very entertaining at the given moment, and he had no intentions to leave the somber Harry alone.

"Somehow I'm thinking your wonderful idea is not one I'm going to enjoy…" Harry muttered, his opinions on the matter obviously obsolete.

"Right you are, old chap, right you are." Grabbing him by the arm, Draco yanked Harry toward the girls' room. "How about we visit the ladies? You look like you have some things that need a good sorting out. Maybe I can help!"

Harry's eyes widened as he dug his feet into the floor insistently. "No! You've helped enough! I don't want to talk to her! Ever!"

"Nonsense!" Draco yelled, pushing Harry in the direction of the closed door. He wouldn't budge, but after awhile found himself giving way. Draco was, surprisingly, stronger than Harry.

"Why are you doing this?" Harry muttered, gritting his teeth as he held himself back.

This only encouraged Draco more. "Because you love her, you ruddy fool," he whispered enticingly in Harry's ear.

Harry stopped altogether, sending Draco's weight and his own crashing into the door, and making it topple off its loose hinges. The girls looked up from their bunks to a very peculiar sight; Harry sitting on the floor as if he'd had an epiphany, and Draco looking very smug indeed.

Suddenly, Harry spoke.

"Draco, you're right."

-

Ginny looked quickly between Harry, and Blaise, and then finally to Draco. Her eyes questioned the almost comical situation, but she knew better than to laugh.

Draco stood up, and dusted himself off. "Well, you see, ladies, my good friend Potter and I were going for a walk, when we heard some strange noises. And we decided to investigate… and wouldn't you imagine… they just don't make these doors like they used to!"

Ginny shook her head, scooting over on her bed to make room for Draco. "What on earth are you talking about?"

He sauntered over to her, rolling his eyes. "They had some sort of lovers spat, but I set Harry straight," he whispered.

She greeted him with raised eyebrows. "Lover's spat? Blaise was bawling when I got in here. I don't know what you call love... but that most definitely was not it."

"What about our fights? When you take my favourite quills without asking, and leave bite marks all over-"

"Do you realize they are listening to every word that we are saying, Draco?"

He blushed. "Right." Turning around, he saw a very enlightened yet scared looking Potter and a bemused and dark eyed Blaise staring at him. "Hem. Anyway… We came because Potter wanted to apologize for any lame-brained thing he might have done to upset you, or whatever, because he really does like you deep down. Right Potter?"

When Harry didn't reply, Draco kicked him swiftly. "Oh. Right, right."

Blaise eyed them both severely. She thought for a moment, a long moment, before speaking. "Thank you Draco, for coming and making an arse out of yourself for my entertainment. But Harry doesn't need to apologize for anything. I sent him away when he was kind to me. It's my own problem. Now, please leave me alone. I beg you."

Before replying or doing as she asked, Draco leaned over and whispered, "You could have told me that before I came over here and started talking."

"Right, Draco, because we really discussed this outing beforehand, right?"

With that, Harry stood. The boys were about to leave when Ginny suddenly spoke up. "Well, it's been fun, but I think I'm going to bed. Draco, will you help me unclasp my necklace before you go? I don't want to lose it in my sleep."

"Oh, sure Gin. Hang on a second Harry; we have some serious discussing to do on this situation. Like on your excess of moron skills."

Ginny turned so that her back was facing Draco, and he leaned over her. She reached back, lifting her glossy hair off of her neck. Draco reached for the cool metal clasp, fumbling with it because it was caught on her shirt, causing the chain to seem shorter. Ginny let her hair fall in a heap on the left side of her face, and reached down to release the charm from her shirt in front. The second her fingers touched the usually cool metal, she felt instantly strange. The metal felt hot, and she felt Draco drop it from the back an instant later.

"It… it burned me!" Draco yelped, as Ginny dropped it on her end too, letting out a tiny shriek. The necklace hadn't dropped though; instead it had unclasped itself and was rising above them, to a spot in the center of the room.

"Er… guys?" Harry was backing away in alarm as the charm rose higher, sending eerie light to all parts of the room. Ginny reached behind her to grip Draco's hand, terrified and unsure of what was going on.

Before anyone else could make a comment, the charm split, and an iridescent liquid seemed to spill out of it. The transparent form of a human began to form itself in the empty space before them. The light was still protruding out of the necklace, and the form looked almost like it was being projected from the charm, as though it were a movie or holographic image.

The figure was cloaked and hunched, as if it were a genie being released from its bottle prison after many years. It hadn't moved.

Draco took initiative. "Excuse me… sir? Wha- what is going on?"

It said nothing for a few moments, and then surprised everyone by reaching out and grabbing Draco's arm, quick as lightning. "Has your father taught you nothing, boy? Don't stutter when you speak to me!"

Draco's eyes widened in shock as realization turned to bitter fear. The hand was still clutching his own arm, and its touch was unbearably cold. "You- no. No. I will not believe that you- how did you get in here?" Draco was nervous. He knew better than to disrespect such a powerful wizard, even if he hated him more than death.

It was at this moment that the man chose to lower his hood. Slowly his death-like fingers rose up, gripping the edge of the black hood firmly. As the hood slowly began to reveal his face, Draco couldn't help but look away. Ginny screamed, dropping Draco's hand and running to the far corner of the room, where she jumped on the bed and pulled the blanket up to her nose. Harry flinched, not prepared to have to see such a face again so soon. No one was prepared to see such a face, ever.

"How did I get in? With the help of your good friend, Miss Zabini, of course!"

The three had seemingly forgotten about Blaise until this. They looked now to see her, eyes widened in utter disbelief, as she backed herself into the wall.

Harry's knees buckled, sending him toppling to the ground in shock. "Blaise… how could you. How could you?" His eyes were welling up in tears, in grief and at his own stupidity.

Her own eyes were brimming and threatening to overflow, as well. "I- never! I didn't help this monster with anything! My parents were- they died, and I would not-"

"Nonsense, Blaise. Don't try to win back your useless friends, now. I'm the one you should be groveling at. I'm taking you in, even after your parents betrayed me. I'd say that is pretty kind of old Voldemort, isn't it?"

Blaise stomped her foot in a most childish manner. "My parents never betrayed you! They were right by your side the whole time. I'm the one who betrayed you!"

Voldemort turned, his whole being content at staring Blaise down. "Your parents were fools who feared the life of their daughter was more important than serving me. I asked for you; I wanted you to be mine. I needed a child. And they refused me. So I killed them."

Blaise gasped, not holding back her tears any longer. They fell in cascading pools at her feet, and racking sobs shook her entire body.

Bu Voldemort wasn't finished.

"So when I realized I couldn't have you, I decided I needed someone else. Someone stronger. A male." He turned to Draco now. "And who better than Lucius Malfoy's son? So strong. So willing."

Draco glared. "This isn't true. You never had me. You never touched me. My father is the one you have."

Voldemort sighed. "Right you are. Having you wasn't enough. I needed someone else. Someone you loved. But that's funny… you've never loved anyone."

"You're lying again." Draco pointed out. Ginny was still whimpering in the corner, highly amazed at how boldly Draco spoke to the Dark Lord.

At this, Voldemort grinned. "I know. Because you did love someone. You loved Sierra."

The name brought a look of pain to Draco's eyes. "So?"

Voldemort raised his eyes. "So I had it all planned out- I was going to take her. And then she died."

"Oh thank you for reminding me. I had quite forgotten," Draco said sarcastically, trying to desperately hide the obvious pain in his voice.

"I don't like your tone, boy. Silence."

Draco just smirked. "So then what?"

"I'm getting to it. Believe me, I want to tell this story just as much as you want it hear. I've been waiting so long… so long. You never loved anybody. Anybody, Draco. I waited and waited, patiently for my servant to arise, but you lived such a cold life. Lucius' doings, I'm sure. He didn't want to have to see you as my servant."

"He's dead now. That's most likely your doings too, right?"

Voldemort smiled sickly. "Yes. He's useless to me. I need him out of the way, because I want what he willed to me, and I want it now."

Draco immediately decided that he didn't like the sound of this. He didn't dare ask what was in his father's will to Lord Voldemort.

"Oh, I know you're dying to know. It said simply- Dark Lord- My son."

Draco felt like he was going to be sick. He had to grip the end of the bed to stay upright, and was suddenly very conscious of the others in the room.

"Harry, Ginny, get out of here," Draco murmured, losing feeling in his body.

The Dark Lord's attention snapped up. "Harry? Harry Potter! Oh, wonderful. I'll just be taking you and young Miss Weasley here, and I'll be on my way. Thanks again, Blaise."

Draco stopped. "What? No. Ginny stays. Take me, if you must take someone. Harry isn't a threat to you anymore. Leave him out of this."

Voldemort stared at him. "Weren't you listening, boy? I don't want you. I need someone you love, and if I'm not mistaken, this red-haired vixen fits that description. I can't take you both together, however." He paused, thinking. "And good one. I almost believed you for a moment there. But I assure you," his gaze darkened, "Harry Potter will always be a threat to me."

There seemed to be nothing he could do but argue, to stall, until he thought of a plan.

"But why do you need someone I love? I just don't understand."

"You are stalling me. I don't have time for this." The hologram became weaker, and was spreading light toward Harry and Ginny, sucking them in as well.

Desperate, Draco lunged at him. "Answer me! I need to know, or- Or I will kill myself and Ginny right here!" His lie weighed on his conscience more than anything ever had before, knowing well off that he would never do such a monstrous thing. He only hoped Ginny knew he was lying, as well.

Voldemort looked greatly annoyed, but gave in. "I cannot take you, because you would not serve me anymore. Not willingly. But Ginny will. If I tell her my bargain."

"Bargain…?"

"That she may be with you again if she obeys me. And if she doesn't- I kill you."

"Do it. I dare you," Draco taunted, hating the idea and loving it at the same time.

"Fool! Do not dare the Dark Lord to do the one thing he loves above all! Killing in front of loved ones."

"I'm not daring you, I'm telling you now. Kill me now, and leave Ginny alone."

His eyes darkened, darker than the slits they usually were. "I have waited and waited for this day, and now that it has come, I feel that my efforts were unfulfilled. This is not working. I have failed myself, and my time, and I am taking you up on your offer right this instant. Except you both are going! Fire and Ice may not coincide! I forbid it! Avad-"

Draco felt a hand on his back pushing him before he was thrown brutally forward into a pit of darkness. The he hit head on something solid, and everything went black.

~*~

A/N: I know, I know, I'm sorry. This is the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers. But I believe there will be one more chapter, and then, that's all folks!

This one will be out reasonably sooner than the last. And no more blackmailing. I promise.

-Sakura