Chapter Fourteen Part B:

This was the first time Draco actually understood the meaning of 'afraid of heights'. As a Quidditch player, he'd sometimes go five hundred feet in the air on his broom, if not more, but without that broom, with just his hands gripping jagged edges of rough mountain, the fear was setting in. His body was trembling from exertion, but he was also shaking with that dread that any minute he'd slip, plummeting to a bloody death. Not to mention his worry for Ginny was distracting him from keeping a fully level head.

This was no easy task, especially without his broom as back up, and the thought of Ginny being hurt, or worse, was almost crippling. He needed to compartmentalize his thoughts and just think about the task at hand so that he wouldn't die in his pursuit to save the girl.

Though he was extremely fit, mountain climbing was a whole other sport that, under better circumstances, should have required extensive training; this was not a mountain any beginner should take on, especially without the proper tools.

As they had started climbing the foot holes and places to grab onto had been close together, but when the ground started to lose its visibility, he found himself having to practically leap to get to the other footing and unfortunately, that didn't allow for any testing to see if it was sturdy.

They were all leaping blind. Unfamiliar territory, no rock climbing ability, no rock climbing gear, honestly it was amazing they'd gotten as far up on the mountain as they had.

To make it worse, to him at least, both Granger and the elf seemed to be better than the men were at the task. They almost looked graceful in the leaps and bounds up the mountain and if one thing pissed him off more it was that a mudblood was better at him than something.

"I'm gonna die," Ron grunted in between gasps for breath, his red purplish face clashing with his carrot top head.

It seemed as if they'd all die.

Draco gritted his teeth as his fingers slipped on the loose rubble of one of the cracks in the rock that he'd shoved his hand into. He could feel the wetness as the blood welled from the stinging cuts. He paused, for only a minute, to wipe the red liquid off and the sediment that clung with it. His miniscule injuries were nothing.


Nothing compared to what Ginny's probably going through right now. His thoughts whispered his anxiety and fear. And he slipped again.

"Shit," he gritted out, struggling to keep himself in place, his rubbery feeling arms trembling as he pulled himself closer to the reddish brown stone.

"How much farther?" Harry questioned, surprisingly not as out of breath as Ron.

"Let's take a break, Ron sounds like he really is going to die," Hermione commented, ignoring Harry's question purposely, like she didn't want to think of how much longer they could last.

Draco knew. If a miracle didn't happen Ginny would die, because the only people to save her fell to their deaths trying rock climb without experience and gear. He knew with finality that they weren't going to make it on time. Ginny was as good as dead.

He clenched his teeth, shaking the thoughts away, and managing to turn his attention to the others. Though it appeared slightly easier for the girls than the guys they were both still panting, trying to catch a good breath. It made Draco somewhat more satisfied to know that she was struggling just as much as he was.

Stupid mudblood.

He ignored the twinge of guilt as the relief spilled into him. He wasn't going to give up. They would do this, they'd all get it done.

"So we just hang here?" Ron asked in disbelief, his eyes widening with fear.

Draco leapt to a promising edge where he pushed his knees in between the bigger and smaller rocks. The tops of his thighs pressed against the smooth underside of it and he leaned back as if he were sitting in a chair. "Like this," he supplied

"Well not all of us are that lucky to find something like that," Ron grumbled, shifting his grip clumsily.

"Please stop complaining, none of us enjoy this Ronald. Just keep thinking that Ginny is probably worse off," Hermione snapped, her eyes flashing with anger as she gritted her teeth.

Though he hated to agree with her, he couldn't help but think the same thing, and as the red head continued to complain another thought came to mind.

It was going to be a long day.

She'd been given a hot bath with sweet aromatic oils and given the circumstances she shouldn't have enjoyed the hot liquid that had surrounded her. She shouldn't have fallen asleep when her life was hanging by a thread.

The demon bird had mentioned something about smooth skin of an Elf was a delicacy. Ginny tried to hold it in after her description of slicing the skin in strips to get the full taste, but the vomit from fear curdled up into her throat, and the chunks blew. That was when the bird decided it was time for her to have a bath.

She'd flown Ginny down to a crack with a waterfall and cliff on the side of the mountain and just below that was a cave that had a circular, steaming hot spring. Ginny had watched the demon bird pour in the jasmine and grapefruit scented oils before it gestured for Ginny to go in.

And here she was, just waking, feeling the oil, slick on her skin, seeping through, softening her skin so that it would taste sweeter to this thing that was going to eventually devour her because she'd been cursed an elf and had bad luck.

Why couldn't anything ever go right?

All she wanted was to fall in love and live happily ever after. She'd fallen in love now she wanted that happy ever after with him.

Ginny paused in running her hands through the water, slicing through the tiny waves she'd made with her movements. She really had fallen in love with Draco in such a short time. She thought it had been something to do with that forest and the things they'd done, that it had just been the influence of it.

Just thinking about him made her heart ache. If it wasn't love then what else could it be? Need, definitely, want, for sure, but love? Ginny was sure that if he came to save her she would be able to fully decide on loving him wholly and if he would accept her because she really didn't know how he felt either. That stupid forest had influenced their actions too much and they'd been forced into an adventurous sexual relationship more quickly than anticipated without real time to talk about it.

They'd been so busy, all of them really, trying to help lift this curse that may or may not have consequences. Draco was paying for it for Merlin sake.

"And now look what's happening," she whimpered to the water, sloshing it back and forth against her bare breasts. "I'll be eaten."

It was a bad time to feel sorry for herself, she wasn't the only one going through these things, but she couldn't help it.

"I wouldn't have any luck if it weren't for bad luck," she grumbled, gently slapping her hand, palm down, against the water.

The tiny light peaking through the opening of the cave allowed the water to glistening enough for Ginny to see shadows, but not clearly know what was happening around her. She could probably see a foot in front of her. For all she knew there could be huge spiders like in the Forbidden Forest waiting to inject her with a venom that liquefied her insides.

Ginny noticed then that though the water she was immersed in was somehow pleasantly hot, she was shivering. No. Shaking, trembling so hard that her chattering teeth was the only sound she could hear. She could feel the sweat dripping down the side of her face, the heat coaxing her muscles to relax, and still she couldn't stop the shaking from the fear of her fate.

Why couldn't she fight? Why couldn't she? Should she give up before even trying?

"How in the hell?" Ginny asked, gasping for breath she hadn't known she needed.

'How' was right. This bird was clearly a supernatural being from another part of the world and she knew nothing of it.

Clearly, she was doomed.

Or so she thought, until she saw something that looked like a silver weapon with jade colored emeralds lining the visible side, lodged in the cracks of stone beneath the water. It was shiny and the light from the cave opening was just barely reaching it.

Her eyes widened and her heart beat quickened, amazed at what the thought of having a weapon could do to her as she felt the adrenaline hit her like a spiked drink.

She could do this.

She was a powerful witch for bloody hell.

She'd had a hand in defeating Tom Riddle.

She could definitely do this.

Ginny licked her bottom lip and slowly reached down, then stopped herself, remembering where she was and what could be watching her. Now was not a time to be stupid. It would appear odd if the horned demon bird saw her reaching for something. It would definitely say something; it would stop her, and then bite into her for her actions. So, instead of reaching, she slipped her body down, until the water lapped at her lips and she inhaled, taking a deep breath through her nose before fully going under the water. Closer to the ground she managed to see just enough to shift the jagged rocks around the weapon away, then she reached for it…and screamed.

To be continued…

I know you all waited so long and it was so short, but it is progressing at least. This chapter I'm not so happy with, it's short and choppy, but it wasn't bad enough for me to not post. Enjoy!

Want to see what this monster looks like? Go to my yahoogroup Writing on the Clouds to find the link.