Title: In the Darkness
Summary: In a world of terror Ginny is caught by Death Eaters. Her situation seems hopeless, until she meets the son of the Dark Lord…
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter but I own my story!
Ginny snuggled into her seat and gazed out of the window. While the landscape outside flew past, she began to look forward to going home. Though this morning she still had been a bit sad that her fifth school year had come to an end, she hadn't been home since Christmas.
And she had missed her parents and older brothers greatly.
Happy that she would soon see them again, she pictured what things she would do over the summer. As it occurred to her that she would celebrate her sixteenth birthday in a few weeks, she smiled. Perhaps she could even persuade her parents to let her have a small party.
Looking at Luna's trunk that lay beside her on the seats, she wondered where her friend had gone to. It couldn't take so long to return a borrowed book, could it?
The monotonous rattling sound of the train made her tired and Ginny closed her eyes. She was just drifting off to sleep as the train suddenly came to an abrupt halt with screeching wheels.
Jolted rudely out of her dreams, she crashed into the opposite seat and in the arms of Hermione Granger, the girlfriend of her brother Ron.
"Sorry, Hermione," she said and picking up the book Hermione had been reading, she straightened up.
Hermione took the book from her and shook her head.
"Never mind. What happened?"
Ron, who had woken from his slumber, looked out of the window.
Shortly afterwards he cursed,
"Death Eaters! They're attacking the train!"
Ginny stared at Hermione and her brother. In both of their faces she saw the fear she felt. She knew what tortures the Death Eaters inflicted on their victims. They spared no-one. Clutching her wand so tightly that her knuckles turned white, an icy coldness enveloped her.
"What shall we do?" she asked in a trembling voice.
"We could lock the compartment," Ron suggested.
"How? Or do you know a spell that would prevent them from coming inside?" Hermione answered cuttingly and frowned thoughtfully.
"I think the best would be to try to flee from the train," she said after a moment.
As loud screams echoed through the train, they all started. Hermione turned pale. She hesitated briefly, but then opened the door of the compartment and went out. Ron and Ginny followed. They stepped directly into chaos. Immediately they were dragged along by an enormous crowd of people. Among the students panic had broken out. They all wanted to escape the train as soon as possible.
The narrow passage way aggravated the situation additionally. Ginny was separated from her brother and Hermione.
"Ron, Hermione!" she screamed.
Yet it was impossible to follow them. She was not strong enough to push the students who surrounded her away. The last thing she saw of Ron was a glint of red hair. Faintly she heard him bellow her name. Then she was alone in the crowd of hysterical and crying students. Her heart was racing; she had the feeling that she would be crushed to death. Breathing became difficult. Terrified screams rang out and she caught sight of black cloaks. Death Eaters!
In the next instant they were standing only a few metres away from her. The jostling became even worse. Ginny was, however, oblivious of this as she froze.
As if it would happen in slow motion, she watched as some were hit by the Unforgivable Curses and fell to the floor. Immediately they disappeared under the feet of their classmates, who attempted to flee from the Death Eaters.
Ginny realized that they were trapped. That all of the students had chosen the corridor to escape, now proved to be a fatal mistake.
The blinding green light missed her by inches. Instead it hit a small girl. With a somehow surprised expression on her face she fell backwards. Ginny wasn't even aware that she was screaming. Her gaze flickered over to the laughing Death Eaters, who obviously enjoyed themselves immensely. Never known fury seized her. The desire to curse them in return was overwhelming. But it was impossible. She had no space to move. Her arms were pressed tightly to her body.
As the Death Eaters raised their wands once more, only one thought flashed through her mind. She had to get out of the train! She didn't want to die.
A wave of nausea swept over her. Fear caused her heart to beat so fast that she felt dizzy. With all her might she fought against an approaching faint; she couldn't lose consciousness. Not now. Not if she wanted to survive. More or less trying to maintain her balance, she was dragged along by her classmates.
She tripped over some obstacle, staggered and was pushed in a compartment by someone. While she sank onto the seats, her thoughts were racing. What only was she supposed to do? As she lifted her head, her gaze fell on the window.
The window! Leaping up, she quickly crossed the small compartment. But the window didn't want to open. It was jammed.
Ginny could not believe her bad luck. The thought of her wand caused her to draw new hope, which immediately disappeared as she realized that she wasn't holding her wand in her hand anymore. She must have lost it, she thought stunned. And she didn't even notice.
Casting a look to the door, she knew that it would be virtually suicidal to fling herself back into the tumult. With or without wand, her only chance to leave the train fairly unscathed was the window. Unsuccessfully rattling at the handle, she was on the verge of crying. Why had it to jam just now of all times? Now, when it was so bitterly necessary that she left the train?
"You don't want to escape, do you?"
Ginny whirled around. While the wizard who had spoken stepped forwards, she shrunk back against the window. Greasy hair fell into the Death Eaters' face. He looked her up and down. Lust flared up in his eyes.
No, please no, she thought, as he approached. A desperate attempt to get around him failed miserably. The grip with which he seized her was painful. Ginny struggled as she never before had in her life as he pushed her onto the seats, but she knew that she didn't stand a chance.
"Keep still!" he hissed and Ginny thought that she definitely wouldn't do him this favour. His big, hooked nose came nearer, as a loud voice rang through the train.
"The Order is coming! Apparate immediately!"
Silently, she thanked the unknown shouter. Above her the wizard cursed and hit her hard in the face. Seeing stars for a moment, Ginny tasted blood in her mouth. She hardly registered how he gripped her by the arm. The strange sensation of an apparation caught her unprepared.
Gazing frantically around, Ron tried to ignore the increasing pain in his arm. Gradually, he suspected that it was broken. At one point he had been pushed hard against the wall of the compartments. Though then he had not felt any pain.
As he had finally stumbled out of the train, he had realized that he had lost Hermione, too. He didn't know how long he already was searching for the girls. And still he had found neither Hermione nor Ginny.
The screams of his classmates, who were running back and forth, the shouts of the members of the Order of the Phoenix, who had arrived by now, pushed him to breaking point. Beside himself with fear, he glared at them furiously, hating them all for arriving far too late.
If something had happened to Hermione or Ginny…
Ron closed his eyes as he remembered. Still he saw the blinding green light, saw his classmates falling to the ground. He gritted his teeth and continued to look around. Everywhere students had assembled themselves into small groups. Many cried and judging by the shouts, he wasn't the only one who had lost someone. Spotting Seamus and Dean he was relieved to see that his friends were alive, yet he didn't pause to go over to them. First he had to find the girls.
He spun around. And finally he saw her.
They flew into each other's arms. For a long moment they clung to each other.
"Careful, my arm," Ron managed to say while sharp pain shot through his nerves and black dots danced in front of his eyes.
"Ron, you're hurt! Sit down! Your face is ashen."
"No. I've to find Ginny first. Have you seen her?"
Hermione shook her head.
"She'll be alright, Ron."
Hermione tried to reassure him, yet she couldn't prevent the slight tremble in her voice. She had seen how some students had been killed and though she struggled against even considering it, she knew that Ginny could be among them.
"What if she is…?"
Stopping abruptly, Ron stared at her, his eyes full of despair. Hermione cautiously laid her arms around him. She could only hold him and pray with all her might that Ginny was unhurt.
Stumbling over her own feet, Ginny would have fallen, if her captor hadn't held her so tightly. Quickly she straightened and tried to keep up with him. His grip was like iron, but any thought of protesting died on her lips. Her eyes were fixed on the castle, wandered over the mighty black walls. The domes of the towers seemed to blaze like fire in the sunlight.
She knew where she was. It was hell on earth. This place was legendary. It was the castle – the most important headquarters – of the Dark Lord. Here he lived together with his son.
The existence of the son was common knowledge, though so far he had never appeared in one of the battles. He was feared even more than the Dark Lord. It was rumoured that he was even more powerful and cruel than his father.
Whether this was true or not, Ginny knew that it hardly mattered. No prisoner who had been taken to the Dark Lord's headquarters had ever left this place again.
Remembering how her parents and older brothers had spoken about that castle, she shuddered. Her parents and brothers save Ron were all members of the Order of the Phoenix and sometimes, when her family had spoken about things concerning the Order, she had secretly listened to it, too.
The real name of the castle was long forgotten; now it was only known as the Castle of Death. The name could not have been more apt. And she would also die within those walls.
The harsh voice startled her. Struggling against the sudden weakness that nearly would have caused her legs to give way under her, she stifled a sob.
Shortly afterwards they stepped through a gate and went into the castle. Yet they didn't cross the dimly lit hall. The Death Eater turned left. The stony staircase was broad enough that they could walk side by side. Staring into the darkness that awaited her at the bottom of the stairs, Ginny swallowed hard. Reaching a long narrow corridor, she shivered. It was cold in the dungeons. The air was damp.
An agonizing scream caused her to flinch violently. Her captor laughed and quickened his pace. She heard a second scream and then there was silence. An instant later the Death Eater peered into an open cell and asked,
"Did he finally talk, Elaine?"
One of the women present turned around and raised a thin eyebrow.
"Of course he did," she said and added disdainfully,
"In the end they all talk."
Ginny didn't hear a word of the following conversation between the Death Eaters. Frozen to the spot she could not avert her eyes from the wizard lying at their feet. His features were so disfigured that they were not recognizable anymore. Everywhere was blood. How many wounds covered his body was impossible to tell. As Ginny caught sight of a bone sticking out of his knee, she swayed. She would have thrown up there and then, if her captor hadn't chosen just this moment to leave.
Coughing, she fought her nausea. In the meantime the Death Eater opened another cell with a wave of his wand and threw her in. She landed hard on the ground.
"I'll come back later. Then we'll have a bit fun," she heard him say.
The cell door slammed shut and she was alone. She sat up, bent to the side and vomited. As much as she tried, she could neither forget the dead wizard she just had seen nor the memory of the little girl that had been hit with the Killing Curse instead of her. Exhausted she crawled across the cell a while later and leaned against the wall. Still she felt sick. In one corner she spotted a sheaf of straw. Yet seeing that it was more red than yellow, she pressed a hand against her mouth. She closed her eyes and forced herself to take deep, even breaths.
It took long until Ginny opened them again. Save the straw her prison was completely bare. A tiny window provided a bit light.
Drawing her knees up, she slid her arms around them. She was so cold that her teeth clicked together. Tears appeared in her eyes, she began to sob. She could not deny the truth. She knew that it was not a nightmare she would awake from in the morning.
She was alone. No-one would help her. She would never see her family again. Never again would she see the sun, would never again gaze up into the sky. As she remembered the words her captor had said to her, she curled herself in a tight ball.
She knew what she awaited, knew what would happen to her. And her utter helplessness to prevent such fate filled her with boundless dread. Shaking like a leaf, she was not even aware of the tears streaming down her face.
The pain brought her back to awareness. Gazing down at her hands, Molly Weasley regarded the half-moon shaped impressions her fingernails had left on her palms as if she could not understand how they had got there. She was still sitting in the living room. How much time had passed since Arthur had gently urged her to sit down in the armchair, she didn't know. It seemed so long ago and yet it could not be even an hour.
She had been in the kitchen, preparing the favourite dishes of her two youngest children as Arthur had burst in. She had immediately known that something terrible had happened. He had barely told her that Death Eaters had attacked the Hogwarts Express as she had already apparated.
Together with Arthur she had searched for their children. Desperately shouting their names and simultaneously trying to avoid crashing together with all the people running around, a freezing coldness had risen in her. Ron they had found quickly. Seeing him and Hermione she had been about to hug them as tightly as possible, but Ron, cradling his arm, had quickly stepped backwards.
Awkwardly she had stroked his head, had kissed him. She had had to touch him, had to assure herself that apart from a broken arm he was fine. He had clung to her. At first his words had made no sense to her. Only after a while she had grasped that he couldn't find Ginny.
Had she already known then?
Leaving Ron and Hermione in the care of their older sons who had also arrived by then, Molly and Arthur had continued their search.
They hadn't found Ginny.
In the end they had looked at the dead students. Arthur had wanted to spare her this, but she had shaken her head. She had had to know. As it had became clear that Ginny was not among them, her relief had been so immense that she had sunken to her knees. Her relief had been only short-lived, however. The realization that a Death Eater must have taken Ginny with him had hit her with full force.
Her daughter, her little girl, abducted and in the hands of Voldemort and his followers.
"Molly, the Order will assemble soon. Do you want to come, too?"
She felt his hand on her shoulder.
"Yes, of course," she heard herself say in a voice that didn't seem to belong to her and stood up.
Gazing after his wife, Arthur leaned heavily against the doorframe. Never before in his life had he felt so helpless. And over and over again he asked himself the same question. Why?
Why his daughter, why his youngest child? Why her of all people? He loved his sons, of course. Ginny, however, meant the world to him. He had never shown it – at least, he hoped not – but his little daughter he loved most.
"Dad, aren't you feeling well?"
Slowly Arthur turned and saw his oldest son Bill, staring at him with a worried expression.
"How shall I be well, when my daughter is very likely raped and tortured this very moment?" Bill turned ashen and Arthur knew that it hadn't been fair to say this. He regretted his words, but he couldn't bring himself to apologize. His thoughts were elsewhere.
Though he would never admit it, he wished deep in his heart that it had been one of his sons who had been captured.
"I'm ready. We can go now," Molly said as she approached them.
Alone in his office Albus Dumbledore stepped over to the window and looked up into the sapphire blue sky. Feeling suddenly furious that the sun was still shining, he brusquely spun around and returned to his desk. He sat down and rested his chin in his hands. The grief he felt was unbearable. Again he relived today, saw himself trying to comfort the students and their parents.
They should have expected such a thing, yet not one of them had thought that the train could be attacked as well. He had neither. For their negligence they had paid a high price, a far too high one.
Thirty-two students had been killed and six were missing. But to believe that they would survive in the headquarters of the Dark Lord was a delusion. Albus knew that they were lost. They could not help them.
Staring at his hands, he wondered how he should live with this feeling of guilt weighing down on him. If they only had foreseen it, they could have prevented it. But they had not, he thought, bitterly reproaching himself. They had not been able to protect their students as it had been their duty.
Sighing, he rubbed his forehead. In a few minutes the Order members would arrive. What would he say to those parents who had lost their children? What could you say in such a case? That they were sorry?
Such words would mean little. And yet he had to say something.
Tiredly he leaned back in his chair, feeling every single day of his long life. He was just too old. For over twenty years a merciless war had raged and there was no end in sight. Although he, his Order and those Aurors and Ministry employees, who had joined them after the destruction of the Ministry eight years ago, had always done all that was humanly possible, they hadn't succeeded in giving the Dark Side a decisive blow so far. All their victories had had little effect.
He had lost hope long ago that the war would ever end. Voldemort was just too powerful. And even if they should manage to defeat him as if by a miracle, the war would still not be over. There was still the unsettling fact that the Dark Lord had a son, who would certainly immediately take over. Albus had heard stories about the young Lord just as the countless rumours.
If they were true, no one knew. Even his spy, Severus Snape, hadn't seen him so far. The reason for that was probably that Severus didn't belong to the Dark Lord's Inner Circle. As it seemed so far only the most trusted followers of the Dark Lord had set eyes on him. Severus had only told them that quite a disturbing number of Death Eaters feared the young Lord more than Voldemort himself.
Up to now the young Lord had not appeared in one single battle and had apparently not left the Castle of Death. That he hid himself in the castle was one more mystery that surrounded him. Perhaps Voldemort wanted to protect his son from dangers and had forbidden him to join the fights. That would be at least a plausible explanation, Albus thought and wondered whether there was still any sense left in fighting against the Dark Lord and his followers.
If Severus' reports were indeed reflecting the truth, then the world was lost to the Darkness. How should they only succeed in defeating two powerful enemies?