Chapter 58 …Take Time
I know, this took forever. I'm so sorry. But like I said when I was able to answer reviews, I WILL finish this story, I HAVE been working on it, I swear. Yes life gets in the way, in a perfect world I wouldn't have to work, do chores, cook, or exercise, I could sit at my computer and words would just flow out of my head and onto the paper exactly as I want them to. Its hard to be the bard yo.
I'm not entirely happy with this chapter, a lot of the… difficult parts came from my own personal experience, these things are very difficult to put in words. But this is as good as its going to get, and I wanted to give you guys a chapter, I think a few of you are ready to hunt me down, kidnap me, and force me to write.
TRIGGER WARNING: abuse. I did focus more on detailing the HEALING, instead of the trauma. So hopefully no one has trouble reading this.
Thank you for your patience,
Friday, December 13th
~*~ PP ~*~
June had "gone home for the weekend" on the Thursday a week before the winter break, so Pansy knew something was going on. Her friends were acting weird, well weirder then every other day. Draco was practically glued to Greengrass, Bulstrode joined as soon as dinner was over, Teddy was skulking around even more than usual.
So here she was, Friday morning, the dream team minus the leader all huddled over breakfast looking around as guilty as possible.
They would probably be busy with whatever they were doing, she could very easily get her hands on June's trunk.
Pansy had finally decided that it was worth the risk, since she had found another book on revealing spells and the trunk still came up clean a few days before.
On my off period, while they were in Charms. That's when she would act, she'd have two hours to snoop to her hearts content.
Pansy smirked and stabbed a tomato with her fork. It would be a good day for her.
~*~ DG ~*~
"I will talk to Hermione, see if she can get Ginny to meet us, make it sound casual." Daphne said in a hushed voice over breakfast. She was nervous about being overheard, but it was harder to be overheard when everyone around you was talking.
"Just tell her it's about June, she would come for that." Millie said, 'casually' mashing her food into a paste.
Draco shook his head, "I don't think Granger should know, I don't want everyone knowing about this and I was only told to go to Daphne and to help Millicent and Weasley. No one else."
Millie frowned at him, "what have we been telling you about leaning on people? Trusting? You need to share a part of yourself, open up and trust. You need to get this mindset of keeping everything "in the family" out of your head!"
Draco blushed slightly, but stood his ground "regardless of my upbringing, I really don't think June would like her private life, especially something she feels so much shame about, spread all over the school!"
"Hermione is her friend!" Millie snapped, "She would want to help and she wouldn't tell anyone!"
Draco scoffed, "She's a Gryffindor, I bet she tells that boyfriend of hers everything. And if Weasel finds out that we think something is off with the little Weasley he's going to start throwing tantrums and telling everyone, and attacking us all. And then, when its proven that Fabian is a perfectly fine guy, he's going to go off on all Slytherin's again for trying to upset his little sister!"
Millie crossed her arms, fuming.
Daphne sighed, "I honestly don't think Hermione would tell Ron anything personal about June, she's been our friend for a really long time. However, there would be no need to tell her anything about Ginny or June until we were on our way to finding out if there is something to tell."
Draco rolled his eyes, "Fine, when are we doing this? After classes? Its Friday, wouldn't she have a date?"
Daphne frowned, "well, let's start with him. What do we know about him? You play with him, Draco, what is he like, as a person? Does he seem like the type to hurt her?"
Draco rolled his eyes, "we play Quidditch, we don't gossip in the showers. I don't know anything about him, except that he is a decent Chaser."
Millie sighed, "I wonder if anyone would have noticed her acting oddly? Her friends, her brother?"
Daphne shrugged, "We didn't even noticed she had quit working on Draco."
Draco arched an eyebrow "Working on Draco? What am I a group project?"
They both just looked at him, "well yes."
Draco slouched in his seat with his arms crossed. Millie and Daphne shared a glance, their 'group project' seemed to be coming along nicely.
"Why can't we just do what we did with you?" Draco said grumpily, gesturing to Millie.
"Because we are dealing with a Gryffindor," Daphne said, "they react differently."
"And because even I didn't appreciate the way it was handled with me." Millie muttered.
"I wonder why Potter went home so randomly, think something happened with, you know?"
Hermione frowned, "the Slytherins seem concerned, maybe I'll ask about it between classes. Not in Potions, but maybe before Charms."
Ron nodded, he still hadn't spoken to Daphne about his sister, his concerns about his sister. He glanced down the table to see Ginny, again, sitting alone and not talking. She didn't even look sad anymore, just vacant.
He looked back over to the Slytherins, and noticed they were all looking at her too.
Something was definitely wrong, and it looks like it might affect Ginny.
Suddenly Daphne met his eyes, she arched an eyebrow when their eyes met.
He glanced to his sister, and then back to Daphne. The girl frowned, then nodded, said something to her group and stood up. She met his eyes one last time, then turned and left.
Ron grabbed a pair of toast, shoved a handful of bacon between them. "I'm going to head up to Divination, I'll see you in Charms." He kissed his bewildered girlfriend on the cheek, and rushed out the door.
Ron had just run out the door, his hands full of greasy and buttery food, and she wondered briefly what she saw in him.
She smiled, thinking of the past few weeks, they were so comfortable together, so natural. No, she knew why she was into Ron Weasley, and she could easily deal with a few random bad manners here and there.
Smiling to herself, Hermione glanced back at the three Slytherins. She frowned as she noticed that only two remained, and they seemed confused at the departure of the third.
Huh, Daphne and Ron both ran out of here pretty quickly, apparently together.
Which is weird, as Daphne had NEWT Potions with her in 15 minutes, and Ron needed to be in the North Tower, which he could get to in 8 minutes. It wasn't like him to rush to any class, let alone that one.
Add one more thing to the list of things to talk about with Daphne…
She was lonely, she missed Fabian. She didn't feel right separated from him, even though it was just until after classes.
Her friends didn't sit with her anymore, they weren't worthy of her. She was perfect, Fabian told her so. Her friends were holding her back, she was better off without them. They would just get in the way of their love.
She hadn't met with Draco. Fabian wouldn't like that, her meeting with another guy in private. He would get upset. She didn't like it when he got upset, so she made sure to keep him happy. She was very good at following his requests now, she used to question him, but he didn't like that, so she stopped.
Her school work was piling up. With winter break in a week, her parents were going to find out. They wanted her to come home, but she couldn't be away from Fabian that long, he wouldn't like it. She might forget how to behave, she didn't want to relearn that.
Ginny rubbed her arm, it had been a painful lesson. The bruises were gone now, but she remembered them. She had needed to learn, it was important. She wouldn't need to learn again, as long as she remembered.
Ginny smiled, she was such a great girlfriend. Fabian loved her so much. He told her when he was teaching her, that it hurt him more, because he loved her.
She was so lucky.
She watched Ron walk away, they would need to talk to Ginny quickly. Something was wrong, and it was worse then what had affected June.
I wish she was here, but if she hadn't left, we may never had noticed that something was wrong with Ginny. Or noticed after it was too late… if it wasn't already.
Daphne sighed and headed to Potions. They would try to find her tonight, but worst case, they would get her in the morning.
June was sitting in her room, looking around. She had just finished redecorating, for the second time this year. It suited her mood. Where there used to be posters of bands, movies and Quiddich players on her walls, she now had peaceful, beautiful landscapes. Green rolling hills, blue skies, dark waters, snow covered mountains. Her walls she kept a deep soft purple, her wood floors had dark gray shaggy rugs. Her bed changed from a four-poster to a daybed, deep purple covers with grey accent pillows.
It was darker, not gloomy but not as bright and pretty and girly as she normally had it. It felt more mature to her.
Her collection of stuff went from on display on her bookshelves, to hidden in a cupboard, still carefully organized, but not visible. The only thing on her bookshelves, were her books.
June sighed. She was trying to keep busy, not think. It wasn't painful to think, but she was embarrassed. She got off her bed and headed to the media room. She had some chick-flicks she wanted to pack away. And a few CDs. She didn't need all that gooey love crap shoved in her face. It wasn't entertaining anymore, it was just boring. Love like that wasn't real, she needed to stop pretending her 'prince charming' would come sweep her off her feet.
Almost out of her door, her toe caught on something. She caught herself before she fell, but was still annoyed. Glaring at the thing that tripped her, she noticed a book that was mostly hidden under her bookshelf.
June picked it up, a black book. Turning it over, she saw the lily embossed on the cover.
It was her mom's diary.
She had read this in her first year, its information had led to everything that she had now.
June walked over to her bed, fluffed the pillows into a cushy mound so that she could comfortably sit up right.
The lily on the cover almost looked like the one on the box. Smaller, and shaped a little different, maybe an alternative variety of lily? It was hard to tell, since the box was painted and the book was only embossed leather… no the petals were definitely curled more.
June opened the book, her mother's name on the inside in youthful neat cursive. She flipped through the book, going over in her mind what she remembered of the diary. She hadn't read it in years.
When her mother was her age, she was dating her father. They were married only a few years later, and pregnant very soon after.
June couldn't imagine being married to anyone right now, couldn't imagine being pregnant.
But then, she also couldn't imagine dying.
She'd been close so many times, that you'd think it wouldn't be that implausible, but maybe she had that teen immortality mindset the adults were always talking about.
She flipped to the last page.
The last entry was August 3rd 1980. 3 days after she was born.
The last line entered read-
'I can't wait to fill my new diary with tales of Juniper's adventures and my new life as a Mommy!'
This was over a year before she had died. There was another book, somewhere.
June got off the bed and headed downstairs. Remus had given her the book, maybe he'd know where the other one was.
Severus watched Leonid Benko look for June in the Great Hall at lunch. She hadn't been there for dinner the night before, or breakfast that morning. It wasn't completely unusual for June to forget to show up for a meal or two, especially if her friends were acting as odd as they had been.
The boy wisely avoided the Slytherins, and was asking her Gryffindor friends, but Granger only spoke to him for a moment before gesturing to the Head table. The boy frowned but nodded.
He had made the Headmaster aware of the situation and they were going to be interrogating him. Legally of course. The Aurors would be coming the next day.
Benko made his way to the Slytherin table, but the looks from June's friends seemed to indicate that he wasn't welcome, and he hesitated before exiting the Great Hall.
Greengrass got up and made her way to the Gryffindor table, and spoke with Granger. Granger frowned and looked to Weasley who nodded and stood.
Something was undoubtedly going on with the teens. Draco wouldn't be spreading this around the entire school, surely. Perhaps he had come up with a cover for June, with the help of her Slytherin friends, and needed the others on the same page.
Then they all exited the Great Hall, the Gryffindors and Slytherins.
Severus narrowed his eyes. Something was conclusively amiss.
Pany was sitting in her bed. She had the curtains pulled. She skipped lunch, she wasn't going to Defense, and she wasn't going to dinner.
She was not leaving this bed until she was forced to.
Damn June to Hell, I hope she suffers eternally. It still wouldn't be enough, but it was a start.
2 hours earlier
Class had just started, she was on her free period and her whole body hummed with excitement at what she was doing.
Pansy entered the dorm room and bee lined for June's trunk. She carefully knelt on the floor in front of it, and placed her hand on the top. She could feel the buzz of magic, it felt stronger than it had just days before, but it was probably her imagination.
Gently, she placed her hands on the sides of the lid, and lifted it open.
She felt a wash of magic flood over her, and she froze. Once her heart re started and she took a breath, she checked her hands. No color change, no damage, she wasn't a toad. She checked her hair, still dark brown.
Pansy giggled. It was all a show. June wasn't powerful, she was just good at pretending she was.
She reached her hand into the trunk and pulled out a book. It was just a novel, but she flipped through it. There was a pressed flower saving her spot, so she moved it 3 pages ahead.
Pansy was feeling really good about herself, she was looking through June's clothes, checking jean pockets and turning shirts inside out. She giggled, it wasn't anything big, she could be laying her own curses in the trunk, teach that girl to really protect her things. But she was a Slytherin, she was subtle. First she would just mildly irritate her, let June know that someone was in her trunk. Maybe one of her friends.
Oh that would be even better, if she could make it look like the wonderful and perfect Greengrass had been digging through her friends stuff.
She picked out an outfit, and pulled it out. Folded it carefully, but different then it had been, and stuck it in the bottom of Daphne's closet. She picked a favorite of Junes, her purple and yellow outfit that June thought she looked so cute in. She really only looked 12 in the ghastly thing…
Pansy sat back down in front of the trunk, and started to really dig. There had to be some kind of dirt on her in here. A diary, pictures, something.
She hoped she could get something that would make Draco forget about the dull little twit.
But they were mostly clothes. This girl had a closet full of clothes, probably more at home, and still her magically expanded trunk was full of clothes.
This girl has a problem. Who needs that many clothes at a school that has a uniform?
But it wasn't all clothes, there were tons of books too. Books on every subject you could think of, even muggle books on psychology and medicine. Pansy wrinkled her nose at the primitive muggle nonsense, and pushed them aside.
Suddenly she felt another wave of magic flow from the trunk.
Under the books on psychology, was a worn leather bound photo album.
Forgetting about the magic that had just splashed over her, she picked up the book and placed it on her lap. This is what she'd been looking for. Dirt.
She opened the book, and on the first page was a picture of the Potters, holding a fat little baby.
Pansy wishes she could say baby June was ugly in some way, but she really wasn't. She had big green eyes, a huge smile on her pudgy face, a bright pink bowtie mouth, and a head full of crazy curly black hair.
Damn her, she was adorable.
Pansy had never seen a picture of the Potters, there was a statue of them somewhere, but her parents had never taken her to see it.
Her mother, Lily, was beautiful. She was a little taller than June now, thin and curvy, laughing green eyes and dark red hair. Not the awful orange of the Wealseys, but a stunning shade that was almost the color of a red Rose. It was an impossible color. No wonder people still spoke of her beauty.
James Potter was dark and goofy, handsome in a rough way, but not distinguished or proper at all. He had brown skin, black messy hair, brown eyes, and goofy glasses. Just like his daughter.
Didn't they know they could get their eyes fixed with a spell treatment? She knew they had the money, the Potter fortune had been massive.
She started flipping through the album, she saw more pictures of the Potter's, but after a few pages of them, there were more recent pictures. Pictures from their first year at Hogwarts, a LOT of pictures from the very beginning and end of their second year, a few pages of pictures through their third year. She cringed when she saw how much make up she was wearing. She wasn't in many from the fourth year, but those were far more interesting to look at, a few with June and Cedric, then with her and Draco.
She flipped through these all very quickly, she was there, she'd seen it all.
But she stopped when she saw the fifth year pictures. She'd been being tortured during this time. Living a hard life.
And here were her housemates, hanging out and practicing spells, June on a platform, it looked like she was teaching. Pictures of several Patroni, a weasel, a dog, an otter, a swan, a fox, etc. she might be the only one in her year who couldn't conjure a corporeal Patronus.
She flipped the page, and there, a picture of Draco, his face transforming from concentration to awe as he cast a Patronus. There was no one else in the shot, it was just of Draco.
She carefully pulled the picture from its holdings, and closed the book. June didn't need this. She could have Draco whenever she wanted. Pansy couldn't. She tried to convince herself it was possible, but she knew it wasn't. So she took it. She kept this beautiful picture of the man she wanted so bad it hurt. She placed the book back in the trunk, and covered it with the other books and piles of clothes. Still clutching the picture, she closed the trunk.
As soon as the lid clicked shut, she felt a shiver go up her spine. Not a natural shiver, this was a magical one.
She dropped the picture and stared at her hands. They were changing. She could feel her fingers shifting and changing, and she could feel her head changing too. She put her changed hands to the side of her head. Her hair was different, her ears had transformed, and she skin felt weird, but that could also be because of the change in her hands. She hoped it was because of her hands.
Then a sharp pain shot from her bellybutton to her forehead, she let out a scream of pain, though it didn't hurt even as much as a muscle cramp.
Her heart was beating so hard she thought it would explode, her breathing was ragged and uneven. She climbed into her bed, pulled the curtains closed and tried to calm her breathing.
She would wait until it wore off. Yes, it was transfiguration done a great distance from the castor, it couldn't last long, right?
"Wait, why did you tell Ron about June before me? I've been her friend MUCH longer!" Hermione asked, annoyance clear in her voice.
"Because this isn't about June right now!" Daphne said firmly. "June is safe, we need to focus on Ginny. That's what she asked us to do. Ron is her brother and the only one who's noticed that Ginny has been acting unusual."
Hermione flapped her hand dismissively, "she has a boyfriend, everyone acts different when they are in a relationship."
Millie growled, "When was the last time you spoke to her? Ginny is ALWAYS dating someone, and she's never been like this before!"
"Not since her first year." Ron said softly.
Hermione blushed, "do you really thinks it's that bad?"
Ron shook his head, "I think its worse. Before she didn't have friends to go to, now she's separated herself from them purposefully. She also signed up to stay here for Christmas."
The girls exchanged scared looks.
Hermione stomped her foot and pulled her communication coin out of her pocket. "Well I'll just summon her now."
"Classes start in 10 minutes," Millie said, checking the time. "I don't think she'll come."
"And we have Defense. Snape isn't exactly known for forgiving tardiness"
Hermione frowned, "I'll grab her at dinner."
"Tell her it's about June, and meet us in the Room." Daphne said, grabbing her bag off the floor. "We will skip dinner, I'm sure the Room will provide."
They agreed and disbursed.
"Was the box among the stuff collected from Godric's Hollow?" June asked, holding the diary to her chest.
Remus frowned, "no these were things James left with me, for safe keeping. I can't imagine why he wouldn't have put them in Gringotts."
"What was James doing with Lily's teenage diary?" Sirius asked.
Remus closed his eyes, "hang on, I'm trying to remember. It was a long time ago."
Sirius threw a grape at the werewolf, "oh please, you have the memory of an elephant."
Remus shot him a look, but smiled at June. "It was when he stopped going to work, the photos and the diary were things he kept at his desk. I don't know why he had it, as far as I can tell from the spells on this book he shouldn't have been able to open it."
Sirius sat up straighter, "it was on his desk? Can I see the book again?"
June held it up, but didn't hand it over. They couldn't open it, but she still wasn't going to hand her Mom's deepest feelings over to the boys who stared in a good portion of it.
Sirius frowned and shook his head. "Not the one I was thinking of. He must have had it at his regular desk. The one he kept in the unspeakable office has a pink Lily painted on the front." He sighed and lounged back, "I couldn't open that one either."
Remus frowned at Sirius, "you know about a book that was sealed shut, that James used when he was working with the Unspeakables, and you haven't said anything until now?"
Sirius looked up, "what? It had a flower on it, I figured it was full of love poems to Lily."
Remus put his face in his hands and took a deep break. June reached over and grabbed the box that Remus had been researching for the past 7 months, and handed it to him when he had himself calm.
Remus held up the box for Sirius to see. "Did the flower on the book perhaps look like the flower on this box?"
The man glanced at it, and frowned, "no, I just told you it was pink. That one is white, with other purple flowers."
Remus took another breath, then turned to June. "I will check with Dumbledore to see where the things from Godric's Hallow are. I think there might be a connection between the three items that are affected by your touch."
June smiled and nodded, her mother's diary clutched to her chest once again.
As she made her way upstairs to read the diary, again, she could hear Remus lecturing Sirius on which thoughts to share, 'boy that box reminds me of a book James had at the time he was designing it', and thoughts that really don't need to be shared, 'you would not believe what the weird sisters have done now!'. She chuckled as Sirius debated the value of Witch Weekly articles.
He didn't want to be here. He didn't want to be in this room, with all these girls.
He didn't want to listen to them ask Weasley question after question.
He didn't want to see her pull on her sleeves, and avoid their eyes.
And he really really didn't want to do what was going to be suggested soon.
"Well, if everything is fine, let's have Draco do his mind scan to check for tampering and then we can all go!" Millie said, her hands on her hips.
It wasn't surprising that she was tired of being here. They'd been in this room for 2 hours, and Weasley was not opening up at all. The once chatty energetic gossipy girl, excited to tell you every bit of her day, every single day, had not shown up with this reserved doppelganger.
Hermione was the main questioner. She was asking the same questions over and over again, Daphne sometimes throwing in a new one.
Have you felt weird? Do you feel drugged? Are any memories foggy or vague? Can you remember conversations?
2 hours of the same questions asked over and over, well, an hour and half. The first 30 min they tried to just get her to talk about things on her own, and of course mentioned that June was away. She hadn't noticed.
Draco moved from his corner, where he'd been hiding. Ginny was standing stiff and still, her hand holding her sleeve, her eyes screwed shut. She hadn't spoken for at least 10 minutes.
"Why don't you guys go sit down," Draco said, shooing them away from the redhead. "Ask the room for some ice cream or something. You've seen how it works, I won't hurt her."
Daphne and Millie wandered a little ways off, slowly but without hesitating. Hermione had to be pulled along.
Draco put his hand near her shoulder, she flinched.
Draco nodded, even though the girl wasn't looking. "Come on Ginny, let's go over here and talk. I won't do anything. Promise."
Weasley met his eyes for a second, she had been fighting tears, but she sat with him in the corner, each on a hammock.
Draco smiled at her, she looked away.
"You know, I don't think Fabian is drugging you."
Ginny frowned, "of course he's not. He loves me, and I love him."
Draco nodded, "that makes sense, you guys are really close."
"I haven't seen you much lately, we were supposed to meet, but I'm sure you were busy with him."
Ginny nodded again, "yeah, we spend a lot of time together."
"He's a good flyer, ruthless. Did you know he wanted to be a beater? Not strong enough, but he had the passion."
Ginny tugged on her sleeve again. "Yeah, he told me. He thinks he's very strong. I think so too."
Draco sighed. He'd seen these signs. He never thought he'd see them on a Weasley.
"You know you have a lot of friends, right Ginny?"
"Friends who would believe you, and protect you if you ever needed it."
"I don't need to be protected, Fabian is strong he'll take care of me."
Draco watched her sit completely still in the hammock. Not even slightly swinging.
"You know, I was wondering, why did you feel the need to fill out the dating game form? You've never had trouble getting boyfriends."
Ginny looked down, "I was curious, and I wanted to see who I got."
"And you got one."
Ginny looked at him, "no, I got a lot. There were others that I liked a lot. Caius Boyet is a Ravenclaw. He's great, I almost chose him."
Draco smiled, "Ginny, you are pretty and smart and from a good family. You could have your pick in this school and out of it."
Ginny smiled, a little of her spark back in her eyes.
"Why would you stay with a guy who hurts you?"
Her eyes immediately went blank, and her hand went to her sleeve.
Draco sighed, but she didn't move, so he waited.
"H-he says it's what is best. I needed to learn."
Draco hmmmed. "So if I did that to June, that would be ok?"
Her eyes shot to his, a fire where the spark had started. "If you hurt her, they'd never find your body."
Draco smiled at her, it was like smiling at a mother dragon, while holding one of her eggs. "Ah, would you look at that, the Weasley fire."
Ginny's eyes lowered back to her lap. Draco got up and stood in front of her.
"Can I see your arm?"
Ginny hesitated, but raised her arm. "There's nothing there." She claimed as he pushed her sleeve up.
And she was right, her arm looked fine. So Draco ran his wand up and down while mumbling revealing spells under his breath.
Ginny tried to pull back as soon as she realized what he was doing. It must have just occurred to her that as a fellow Slytherin, he might know how to see what wasn't there.
Frowning deeply, Draco placed the tip of his wand to a roll of parchment that the room provided with a thought. He picked it up without unrolling it, and turned from her.
"Ladies" he called to get the other occupants attention. "I'm going to bring this list to the Headmaster. Can you please bring some cocoa? She's going to need some affection."
As Hermione went to rush past him, he held his arm out blocking her, she paused and looked at him, surprise lighting her worried features. "No questions. Just comfort. Do you understand?"
Hermione scowled, but nodded.
Draco nodded to the Slytherin girls as they rushed past him.
Draco did not go to the Headmaster, he had no idea what the password was. But he did know where to find Snape.
He was sitting at his desk, thinking.
Snape looked up, and gestured to the seat across from his desk. Draco sat.
Snape stared over his head, obviously lost in thought. Or trapped, it was hard to think of Snape as lost…
But he did, just a bit, look lost.
Snape blinked, met his eyes. "Yes, Draco?"
Draco hesitated for a moment, then placed the scroll on the desk. "I've been speaking to Ginny Weasley, about June's concerns. This is what I was able to diagnose from scanning an arm that she was trying to hide. It's a spell June taught me, it should list the culprit as well. I didn't read it."
"June?" Snape blinked again. Draco was starting to get worried. "June contacted you?" he didn't touch the scroll.
Draco frowned, he didn't know about June's request. She hadn't told their Head of House.
"No, sir." Draco waved his wand at the door, closing it and activating the wards his teacher kept on it.
Suddenly Snape's full focus was on him.
"Before you took her away, she asked me to check on her friends. Which I did. Bullstrode is fine, but Weasley isn't" he gestured at the scroll. "The girls tried to get her to confess, but she wasn't talking." He noticed the Potions Master roll his eyes, "yes, I know she never shuts up, but has she been talking in class? Have you seen her with her friends?"
Draco could see in his eyes, going through his classes. If it had been a Slytherin that changed their personality so drastically and quickly, he would have caught on much faster, but a Gryffindor? Not really his area, he would only notice her change in passing, especially if she became easier to handle.
Draco pushed the scroll a little more towards him. "Like I said, I didn't read it. So I don't know what he did to her, but it was definitely something. Do you remember the Boults'?"
Snape's eyes narrowed, but he nodded.
Draco nodded too, "I was only 9 the last summer they were around, but Mrs. Boult used to pull at her sleeves. I always thought they were the weirdest family, her and Ophelia were always wearing long sleeves and floor length skirts, even in the summer. We all knew Mr. Boult was strict, and we were all afraid of him. But even when the rest of us complained about the rules or our parents, Ophelia never did. She would just say she loved her parents. She said it over and over again, like she was trying to convince us." Draco looked up and met Snape's eyes. "Now, looking back, she was trying to convince herself. They were hiding marks, weren't they? Even with healing spells and potions, they were trying to hide marks with clothes."
Snape nodded very slightly.
They had died, the adults. In a 'Potions accident'.
Ophelia had been at Hogwarts, and a mysterious accident had killed her parents. She lived with the shame of that, her parents making a very basic potions mistake. Her mother probably could have been a Potions Master, if she hadn't been a woman, came from a long line of Potions expertise. And they had enough money to buy any potions they needed.
She was teased in class. 'Be careful with the Belladonna, wouldn't want to add too much'. She had worked hard, and when she graduated she moved to the Americas. She hadn't had many friends.
But Draco would always remember the funeral. He didn't know if anyone else had noticed, but he had been the smallest there. He had seen her face as she laid a flower on her parent's caskets, he could see below her black veil. She lay the flower on her father's grave with a straight face, but when she lay the flower on her mother, she smiled and whispered "thank you".
At 9, none of these things made sense.
But when he saw Ginny tugging on her sleeve, the memory came back. When she said 'he loves me. I love him' he felt chilled to the bone.
Snape knew most of this. He probably knew more than Draco, who only had a few memories to pull from.
"Ginny was trying to hide this arm." Draco gestured to the scroll. "The closest I could get her to confess, was saying that if I did to June what was done to her, I quote "they would never find my body".
That got a brief smirk from Snape.
"Who is it?"
Snape frowned. "His family is very private, very pureblood and traditional. What made her think he would be a good match, and what made him go for a Weasley?"
Draco frowned and shrugged, "I don't know him that well, but they're in the same year. We don't talk much while we play, he's a decent Chaser. That's really all I know about him."
Snape grabbed the scroll, and unrolled it. As his eyes scanned down the sheet, his eyes narrowed, his nostrils flared and two spots of red shone from his pale cheeks.
Draco was suddenly regretting not reading it.
"You are dismissed, I will take care of this. Take Miss Weasley to the Hospital Wing to get scanned, stun her if you must. She needs to be treated. I'll speak to the Headmaster, she'll be going home as soon as I can arrange it."
Draco nodded and stood. "Thank you sir. Do you know if June will be returning next week?"
Snape sighed, "I wouldn't count on it, Mr. Malfoy"
Draco stood up straight. He hadn't even noticed that he wasn't standing straight. He turned and left, feeling stiff and uncomfortable.
Well this was a great way to start the holidays.
Draco returned, and said that Ginny needed to see the nurse. She fought of course, but as soon as she started to protest, Draco cast a sleeping spell on her.
Apparently he was done being nice for the day.
They levitated her to the Mediwtich. Draco spoke to her for a moment, causing her to frown and put the girl in a private corner.
Draco disappeared as soon as they left the wing.
"His talk with the Headmaster must have gone well." Millie said, her tone dripping with sarcasm.
Daphne sighed, "his job is over, he did as June requested, and now he needs to actually absorb what's been happening."
Millie sighed, "I guess we should probably do that too. It's a Hogsmeade weekend, we can keep busy for a while."
Hermione had been quiet up until this point. "Do you think June will come back before break starts?"
Daphne put her arm around the girl's shoulders, "I highly doubt it, would you come back? Hopefully she'll just be a teenager and ditch, but knowing her, she'll be thinking the entire time. You should make sure to send her any homework she misses. Keep her mind busy."
Hermione's face lit up with the excitement only she gets where school is involved.
As the Slytherin's watch Hermione run off, Millie sighed.
"I'm tired. I think I'm going to go to bed early." She glanced at Daphne, "do you think Sabastian will mind?"
Daphne smiled, "I think you should go cuddle with your boyfriend, you need the comfort and he won't ask questions. He'll just talk about Quiddich."
Millie laughed and nodded.
They made their way down to their dorm, ready for this day to be over. Millie spent time with her boyfriend, you could see the tension melt off her shoulders as she relaxed and listened to him blabber on about a sport.
The common room was as it usually is on a Friday night before curfew, mostly empty with a few couples making out here and there, a ton of first and second years playing chess or doing homework, or pretending to do homework. The few upper years kicking the youngsters to the floor, and lounging on the couches.
Daphne sighed, normally she loved to find a spot and just listen to the people around her, you learn so much that way, but she just wasn't feeling up to it tonight. She headed up to bed.
The dorm was dark and quiet, she could hear snoring from Pansy's bed but the rest of the girls were elsewhere. It was odd for Pansy to be in bed before 10, but maybe she'd had a rough day.
Daphne walked to her bunk, but stopped when she stepped on a piece of paper. Picking it up, it was a picture of Draco. A really good picture of Draco. He was actually showing expression and honest feeling was written in his face and body movement. And it was a year old.
Even without Ginny coaching him, Draco was making a lot of progress in his daily posture and habits. He was slouching and pouting and he even stuck his tongue out at a teachers back the other day. It was hilarious, even if she was the only one who saw it.
Daphne knew who the picture belonged to, so she placed it in the drawer of June's bedside desk. It crossed her mind to wonder how it got on the floor, but she knew that if someone had gone through June's stuff, they'd know about it. Especially the spells they had put on her photo album. That one was a doozy.
A little reading before bed, and hopefully tomorrow we can start to heal. All of us.
June wasn't like her mom.
She'd been reading all day, and she was getting to know her mother, in a way she couldn't the first time she read this as an 11 year old.
Her mother was so optimistic. So kind.
And she was kinda getting the impression she had a crush on Snape…
She never said it, but she sure did worry about her friend a lot.
She'd been told, in utter disgust, that Snape had had a crush on her, her godfather didn't mind telling her anything he thought might make her less in awe of her teacher.
So maybe Lily did like Snape for a little while. But, if she wrote down her thoughts and feelings, she might sound like she had a crush on her friends too, she was awfully interested in their lives.
Maybe they had that in common. Caring about their friends. That's a good thing.
Perhaps June was more forgiving. She'd stayed friends with Draco, unlike Snape and Lily, but at the same time, Draco had chosen her over the dark side, even when choosing her meant choosing to be her friend.
She put the book down.
I wish I had my photo album.
She had plenty of pictures here, but the book had all of her favorites.
She looked around her room. Her mature, grown up room, with no kid things around. No pictures, no knickknacks. Just her books.
It felt lonely. Unlived in. like it belonged to a stranger.
She didn't like it. She wanted to see her friends.
June went to her closet and started taking out the pictures she had put away a few hours before.
One of her and Hermione at the beach over the summer, one of her with Daphne at the World Cup, one of her and Draco talking that Colin captured without their notice. A group one from the year before with her and the Slytherin girls, one of Millie and Ginny mid collapse from laughing so hard at one of their meetings.
One of her parents wedding. And one of Remus and Sirius from her birthday party, dancing together after everyone had left. She'd taken that one herself. It didn't move, since Colin hadn't developed it. She'd gone to a muggle shop to get it done. But it was a favorite of hers.
June sat on her bed, smiling at her mature room, WITH her friends.
She placed her hand on the diary. She wasn't as kind as her mother, she wasn't as confident or hot headed. And she wasn't like her father either. She didn't try to break rules just for the fun of it, except the uniform thing. She didn't prank/bully people. She wasn't as snobby as he was.
No, June wasn't like her parents. Perhaps it was because they hadn't raised her. Or perhaps she never would have been like them. They both had known exactly what they wanted by the time they were her age. They were together, they were in love, they had careers and life all planned.
June had no one. She had friends sure, she had her make-shift family, and she loved them all very much. But she didn't have a person. Not like others had. She was already 16! Shouldn't she have met her person by now?
June sighed. As she was placing the diary on her bedside, there was a tap at her window.
It was Gaia. She let her in, giving her a few pets, before noticing that she was carrying a message.
I did as you asked. Millie is fine, and Ginny will be.
Let me know if you need anything else from me, I'm always here for you.
Your devoted friend,
June smiled. Draco was so wonderful sometimes. He did exactly as I asked him to and in less than 2 days.
She hadn't been thinking about it, but she did feel a weight lift from her shoulders at the news.
She lay in bed, her owl perched nearby. As she drifted to sleep, she thought just maybe, everything would turn out ok.
It was noon on Saturday, and no one had come looking for her.
She was getting hungry, running out of her stashed food. It was mostly sweets so it didn't keep her satisfied for long.
Why had no one noticed that she was missing? At the very least Snape should have. She missed his class. Normally that was followed by points lost, detention, and a lecture that lasted far too long.
The spells also weren't wearing off. Maybe with a cloak she could get to the hospital wing and get the nurse to remove them. She could just say she got into a fight.
It wasn't overly convincing, considering this was some really advanced Transfiguration.
At least, she thought that's what it was.
She had to do something.
It was a Hogsmeade weekend, most everyone would be gone. There wasn't a better time than now.
Decision made, Pansy carefully peaked out from her bed curtains. The room was empty, as she knew from listening for the past few hours. She quickly ran to the closet and pulled a cloak on. She pulled the hood low over her head, hiding her face, and shoved her hands into her pockets.
Keeping to the shadows, and taking as many secret passages as she could, Pansy managed to make it to the Hospital Wing without being seen.
She poked her head into the room, all the beds were empty that she could see. There was one in the far corner that had a screen around it, but that one was never used. Or at least, rarely used. Last time it was in her 2nd year, when kids were getting petrified.
"Madam Pomfrey?" her voice sounded different, it was the first time she had spoken out loud. It was squeakier and deeper, with a low rumble to it.
She would talk as little as she could.
The nurse came out of her office, wiping her hands on a towel in her apron. "Yes dear?"
Pansy looked up and pushed the hood away from her face.
"OH!" the woman half screamed in shock, but gathered herself admirably, considering. "Oh my! What on earth have you gotten into?"
Her shock quickly morphed into her regular mother henning. She was quickly spelled into hospital grade pjs, and tucked into a bed in the far corner.
Right across from the bed that had been hidden from her view.
The scream was her first indication that someone had been in the aforementioned bed.
It was quickly followed by laughter.
By the time the nurse had gotten her own bed surrounded, the youngest Weasley was laying down, gasping for air, crying laughing. The silencing charm followed.
"Now dear, I can't tell who you are so you're going to have to give me a name before you tell me who did this and why on earth they would."
With grit teeth, she spoke "Pansy Parkinson, it was a prank. I don't know who did it. Someone in Slytherin. I'm not exactly popular right now."
She'd had a full day to come up with an excuse, and that seemed the most easily bought. Too elaborate and you risk leaving holes, too vague and she would know it was her own fault.
The Nurse clicked her tongue as she ran her wand over Pansy's face and torso.
"Well I'm going to go out on a limb and say they are very talented at Potions."
"Potions? I thought it was transfiguration. I didn't drink anything, and I felt a wave of magic."
The Nurse smiled, "some potions can be spell released into the air, it would feel like a gust of wind or magic, transfiguration is much more complicated to maintain and is typically specific. So to turn your hair this shade of orange, they'd need to know your original shade. Unlike with Potions, when you can give anyone orange hair with the same brew."
The whole time she lectured, you'd think the nurse would just do her job instead of trying to explain how clever Damn Potter is, she passed her wand slowly back on forth over her left hand.
"I'll do my best, but it looks like Professor Snape is going to have to brew the counter potion." She patted the hand she'd been testing, "perhaps he'll be able to tell which of his students would have the skill to perform this."
Pansy's stomach dropped like a stone.
She thought fast. "I'm sure Professor Snape is busy, with his head of house duties on a Hogsmeade weekend, what about professor Slughorn? Surely he would be a better choice, now that he's taken over Potions class."
The Nurse sighed, "Oh yes, I had forgotten, of course I'll call Professor Slughorn up immediately." She pulled a vial out of her apron pocket, "drink this for now, it should help to clear out your system or the remains of the potion. Perhaps it will do the trick, but from the sound of it, it was absorbed through the skin, so I wouldn't hope too hard."
Pansy drank the potion as the nurse returned to her office to use the fire.
With any luck, Slughorn didn't know June's style as well as Snape did.
Hourly potions, therapy sessions, talk of sending her home, and being quarantined in the Hospital was not exactly how Ginny had wanted to spend the last weekend before break.
She was starting to understand that people were really worried about her, she had tried to explain away the injuries they'd asked her about. She had hoped that Draco's spell had only pulled a few of them, since he wasn't taking Healing. But the Nurse had redone the spell and received an even longer list than Draco had.
No one understood that it was for her own good. They were doing far more harm than they were helping. She knew they had good intentions, but Fabian would be so cross that she had been away from him for so long, AND made him look bad in the process.
What if they were talking to him right now? Accusing him of all sorts of things that they shouldn't? He would be so mad at her…
What would he do? Would he punish her again? Would he decide she was too much trouble and break up with her? What would she do if he did that? She hadn't done any school work in months, she would be completely alone and her whole future would be screwed up!
No, she needed him. It was too late. She depended on him. He would take care of her. Once she learned, he wouldn't need to hurt her, and they would be happy!
She would apologize, she would explain, he would punish her, and she would take it. She would show him her dedication, she would prove her love.
She was sitting in her bed, waiting for the next dose of potion, when she heard someone come in. She held very still, she didn't want the whole school to know she was in here.
She heard Madam Pomfry's reaction, and wanted to look soo bad. If she got up from the bed, an alarm sounded, so she would just have to wait and hope the person came into view. She didn't recognize the voice, it almost sounded like what you would expect a cats voice to sound like, should a cat talk.
Luck was on her side, the girl was led to the bed across from her, and Ginny had a perfect view when the cloak she was wearing turned into pjs.
She just. About. Died.
It was Pansy Parkinson. It wasn't easy to tell it was her, but something about her face screamed bull dog, so it had to be her. Ginny lost her control, she was laughing so hard she couldn't breathe. She could feel tears streaming down her face.
Pansy Parkinson, snooty prim and proper Slytherin, better then everyone pureblooded princess, was purple.
Curly purple fur had sprouted from her entire body, she looked like a short haired Maltese dyed a bright royal purple.
Except her hair, the hair on her head was still stick straight and chin length, but a horrid bright shade of orange. Everyone always said that Weasley hair was orange, but this made their hair look like red copper. Her eyebrows had also been turned orange. Her hands had formed into furry claws, long pointed black nails grew from the tip of each finger. Her ears had become large and pointed, like a German Shepard.
Ginny didn't get to see if she had a tail or not before the screen was around the bed. She was wiping her eyes and taking deep breaths when the nurse came out where she could see her. She was given a dirty look, but nothing was said.
If June hadn't been at home for the past 2 days, she would have thought for sure it had been her. She'd make a point of telling her when she saw her next. It was too good not to share with everyone.
Ginny was feeling pretty good, that was the first time she'd laughed in a really long time.
Well that's the first time I've even smiled in a long time… but I'm happy, shouldn't I smile, if I'm happy?
Of course you're happy, don't be silly. You don't have to be laughing and acting a fool just to show that you are happy. Lots of people don't act happy and are.
But I used to act happy when I was happy. I used to laugh and talk to people.
Inferior people. Fabian said so. Ugly, stupid, useless people.
June isn't any of those things. Neither is Daphne. Millie isn't a beauty queen, but she's not ugly. Luna isn't any of those things either, she's just a little weird. I like them… I like all my friends.
But you like Fabian more.
Madam Pomfrey came over with her vial of potion, it's meant to clear the mind of emotional abuse. She had assured her that if she hadn't been abused, it would have no effect on her. As a psychological potion, it doesn't have a physical malady to heal, so she needed to take it often.
It had the added benefit of making her arm feel better.
It's taking away my reminder! If I don't have that, I might make a mistake, and then I'll be punished! I shouldn't take it!
But maybe… maybe it's working. Maybe that's why I'm having these thoughts. Maybe they were right…
If I tell them they were right, they'll send me home. Mum won't be happy… I'm going to be in so much trouble. My one chance to be a real pureblood wife, thrown to the wind.
Since when has Mum cared about that? All she's ever wanted was for me to be happy…
But she's making me learn all those household spells!
Because I might have kids one day, idiot.
Ginny took the vial, and lowered it away from her face.
"Madam Pomfrey, how can I tell if this is working?"
The nurse raised an eyebrow, "asking that question is a good indicator, but if you suddenly start thinking differently, and remember that you used to think that way, then it's working."
She placed a hand to her forehead, like she could feel the thoughts moving around inside.
"Ma'am, I think I want to go home."
The nurse smiled kindly, "I'll call your mother, she'll be here soon. Take your potion, you still need it."
Ginny downed the potion.
She would write Fabian and tell him what happened…
You would think that getting rid of someone who attempted to harm a student would be easy.
But no, this was Hogwarts.
Severus should know this better than anyone, but it's not like this kid was a favorite.
Kids. Now it was kids.
Young adults. One was 17 the other was 15, they weren't children, and obviously they didn't act like it.
Selwyn might get off the hook, he was younger and only used legal spells against the girl. And it's not like no one has ever gotten hurt at Hogwarts before.
Unless they can prove the psychological damage, which he was working on but the girl was still denying it, the boy won't be punished worse than a few detentions. And removed from the Quiddich Team of course.
But they will be detentions with a very pissed off Minerva, so it wouldn't be an easy let off.
However, Benko was legally an adult, used a very dark potion on a student, and would need to be expelled. But the only proof they have is what Severus saw in June's head, unless they could find the potion.
Maybe he could get the boy to drop out. He was an adult, he could petition the Ministry to take his NEWTs, he wouldn't get a diploma, but he could still get decent employment.
But if they were able to file charges, there was no way anyone would hire him. Not with a record stating he poisoned the Electus.
Hmm, maybe a chat was in order…
Teddy was minding his own business. Mostly.
He had been instructed by Draco to keep a distant eye on Benko and Selwyn. Not constantly of course, that would be impossible.
He was currently on the lawn, listening to Fabian complain to his friends about his ex Gryffindor girlfriend betraying him and lying about things he did. None of them seemed overly convinced, but judging by how loud he was being, it wasn't for the sake of his friends.
As far as Teddy knew, he hadn't even been accused of anything by the teachers yet. He was panicking because they wouldn't let him see her in the Hospital. Not very Slytherin of him, to blow his hand like this.
Someone flopped down on the grass next to him.
He looked up, and it was his other target, Leonid Benko.
He smiled in what Teddy was sure he thought was a charming way. Teddy made a note to not let him make contact. That was how June was poisoned.
"Hey, Nott right?" the lanky Gryffindor asked.
Teddy nodded sharply.
"You're in the same year as June, and I was wondering if you knew what had happened to her." Benko's political smiled never faltered.
Teddy narrowed his eyes. He could run this two ways. He could be friendly and open, tell him what he wanted to know in the hope of getting something in return. But this guy spent a lot of time with June, I'm sure he's wise to that move.
Or, he could be the bad guy. The 'evil Slytherin' that every Gryffindor seems to think every Slytherin is.
"Potter and I aren't close." The corner of the guy's mouth twitched.
"But you know where she went."
"I might." Teddy stretched his legs out, stared across the lawn at Selwyn. He was still bemoaning his bad luck. Loudly.
He could feel Benko staring at the side of his face.
"You have no reason not to tell me."
"I have no reason to tell you."
The smile finally dropped.
"What do you want." It wasn't a question.
"You don't have anything that I want." Teddy grinned at him.
His face went dark, Teddy had seen that look before.
Benko stood, his face still twisted in a horrible look of anger. Nothing Teddy knew would explain why his action would warrant this response, but he knew one thing for certain.
June was only safe now that she was very far from this man.
He would not let this person at her.
Still with a grin on his face, Teddy spoke. "You could try asking Snape, I heard he's been wanting a chat with you about her anyway."
Uh oh. Suddenly big bad Benko didn't look so threatening. He looked a bit like he was going to wet himself to be honest.
He sent a slight glare at him and walked quickly up to the castle.
Teddy turned back to Selwyn, and he wasn't there.
Teddy got up and headed up to the castle. Might as well let Draco know what happened with Benko while looking for the annoying twit Selwyn.
Monday Dec 16th
Ginny had gone home the day before, Draco had heard she was going to relay the whole story by the end of winter break. Not that anyone know what 'the whole story' was, but that's what the rumors were saying. Selwyn had gone from loud and defensive to quiet and practically invisible. He was keeping a low profile, probably hoping everything would blow over.
June was still gone, no word from her. He had sent an owl two days before, just to check on her, and provide an update. He wasn't really expecting a response soon.
Benko had stopped snooping around, that Nott had noticed anyway. He'd reported to Draco, and then Draco had relayed to Snape. Snape had not been able to find the boy over the weekend, but classes beckoned. He'd be found soon enough.
Draco was poking his eggs disinterestedly. He wasn't hungry. The table was uncommonly quiet, at least their corner of it. Daphne wasn't eating, nose in a book. Millie just kept staring into space. Even Pansy just sat nearby, slowly eating. Her coloring looked a little off, but he couldn't imagine what could have affected her. June and Ginny's plight was far more likely to bring her joy then this despondence.
The next week would pass like molasses, even with going home for the holiday's offering no excitement. This was a very poor way to start the holiday.
Benko did not attend classes. No one had seen him since Saturday. His room was checked, as a 7th year he had one to himself. It was empty, his things gone.
The boy, man, was 17. He had every right to quit school, as a legal adult. All the school could do at this point, was to send a letter to his parents, letting them know that their son had left, apparently of his own free will. His name was removed from the rosters, and easy as that, Leo Benko was no longer welcome at Hogwarts.
Severus sent an urgent owl to Black and Lupin, warning them that the boy was loose. The Manor had top notch security, not the least of which was a werewolf with an excellent sense of smell and hearing. He wasn't worried for June's safety, but he didn't want them to relax their guard.
Now his only concern was the fate of his very own Slytherin, but that would have to wait until Miss Weasley spoke to a Mind Healer. She had an appointment in a few days. She was in her mother's care for the time being, and really there was no better place for the girl then under Molly's watchful eye and tender care.
This was going to be a long week.
Day 3 of the Gringotts Hunt.
The Potter's had 27 vaults.
What on earth would the Potter's need 27 vaults for, you may ask?
Merlin only knows. But they sure are packrats.
The first vault that was checked was of course the one June inherited. It was full of money and old school supplies. A few trinkets, a trunk of her mother's clothes, some pictures. It was a promising place to start, but they found nothing. They were discussing this when the Goblin leading them, Regnel, asked if they wanted to see the other Potter vaults.
And since then they have been spending a lot of time underground. They averaged 2 vaults a day, they managed 3 the first day, but they'd had to research the last one because they were so tired they couldn't even remember what they had seen.
They were working their way from the newest down, and each vault was significantly deeper into the earth.
The second vault had been filled with many of the things James and Lily had received at their wedding and June's reveal party. Typically held a month or two after the baby is born, so people outside of their immediate friends and family could see the baby and new parents for the first time. It also held James' parents valuables.
It was a lot of plates. Some decorative, some china, all probably very valuable. They had pictures and tapestries, art and sculptures. Quite a collection. And of course, more trunks full of clothes and books.
The third was similar, just older. Older clothes, older art, older collectables.
The fourth was full of books. Wall to wall, boxes and boxes of books. Very old to new(ish), nonfiction, and fiction. There was everything from biographies to novels, and none of it organized in any way that made sense. That vault by far took the longest.
When asked, the Goblin of the day confirmed that every printed book in all of the vaults eventually ended up in that one. Handwritten ones were not automatically transferred. Diaries, photo albums, scrapbooks, and sketchbooks were to stay where they had been placed.
The 5th and 6th were more of the same. Lots of gold, silver and copper. Piles of clothes, stacks of art and tapestries, and honestly more pottery then Remus felt a single family needed, let alone a family that consisted of exactly one teenager. Judging by a few family tree tapestries they had found, the Potters were fond of only having one child. The last time there had been more than one, was a pair of twins 6 generations back, a boy and girl. The boy had not lived to maturity, and the girl had married a boy named Potter. The line had been all male offspring until June had been born.
Remus was running his fingers along the lines of one such family tree, noting every deceased date. June had no relatives on her father's side at all, not even any that they could possibly hunt down. All of these vaults full of valuables literally belonged to the little girl, young woman, sitting on a trunk digging through another, holding up any dress that she finds particularly pretty.
"You can take some of those, if you'd like." Remus said, smiling at her look of shock. "They do belong to you now."
The dress she'd been holding up was a bright emerald green with silver trim and an intricate stitched design on the bodice. Lace sleeves shaped like bells hung from the sides as June held the dress to her body.
"It's gorgeous, but when would I wear it?" June asked, rocking back and forth so that the material swished around her legs.
Remus smiled, she was such a girl sometimes. "Well, there are always parties we could attend. It wouldn't look very out of place at one. It is quite a beautiful dress. It looks very Christmassy too."
June smiled, carefully folded it up and placed it on the pile they were taking back to the manor. They had already collected a few things from each vault, statues and tapestries mostly, a few tchotchke, a small pile of books, some jewelry that June had liked and now a dress.
Or three, as Remus watched her add a soft grey and a rose pink dress to the pile. Oh well, they were very pretty.
It was getting late, and they had just about searched the entire vault.
"I think that's just about everything. You two ready to head out?" Remus asked, watching Sirius pull his nose out of a trunk, and June carefully place a dark orange coat back in the trunk. She closed it with a smile and nodded.
She hadn't spoken much, almost like she was afraid that if she started, she'd never stop. Or she was afraid of what she would say.
Sirius helped him carry the day's treasures to the cart for the ride back to the surface. June following behind.
Her eyes were far away, until she looked at you. Then her eyes were in such pain, he could hardly bare it. Sure, she smiled and laughed, responded when questioned. But her thoughts were always there, always affecting her. And she wouldn't tell them to anyone.
He had never felt so useless.
June smiled as she took the dresses up to her room, they would need cleaning before she could wear them.
Remus sat down on the love seat with a deep sigh, Sirius finding places for their new décor. A hoot altered the men to the owls perched in the corner of the room. He held his hand out, hoping the bird would choose to come to him, it was a Hogwarts owl.
It landed beside him on the couch, and he removed its note. The owl flew back to the perch, for food and water.
"It's from Severus, the boy disappeared." Remus said gravely. "But that means he's no longer at Hogwarts, so that's a plus."
Sirius frowned, "I'm going to run a perimeter. See if I smell anything off."
Remus nodded, and closed his eyes.
The boy was out, off scot-free and Merlin knew where. How were they going to tell June? They could wait, but what was the point of that? Better to be on her guard. Not that she often wandered off, but it wasn't unheard of. Especially when upset.
Remus gave another sigh and headed upstairs.
After a light tap and a 'come in', Remus watched as June adjusted the grey dress she had brought from the vault. She had it fitted on a mannequin torso, where she got that he had no idea but figured Kreacher probably had something to do with it. She was adjusting a sapphire necklace, making it hang perfectly with the neckline of the bodice.
She turned and smiled at him, "what do you think?"
The dress had a full skirt and detailed bodice, it looked like something a princess would wear to a very fancy event. The sapphire necklace she added had bigger gems then it seemed realistic to wear. It seemed very heavy to him, and much too clunky for his delicate little June.
'Um, well, it's pretty? A little fancy, I don't think that will blend much at any party we are invited to."
June laughed softly, "this one isn't for wearing, I thought it would be pretty display," she gestures at it, "just like this. I've seen it in magazines." June smiled as she adjusted one of the sleeves.
"Well in that case, it look beautiful. The silver really makes those sapphires pop. June smiled brightly, for the first time since returning home. Remus sighed.
"Honey, we need to talk." He sat on her bed, patting the spot beside him. her smiled vanished, and she slowly joined him on the bed.
Remus swallowed hard as he looked into her large green eyes, how was he going to do this?
"June, you know that Sirius and I would never let anything happen to you right?" she nodded, her head barely moving in the action. "and you know that we would protect you, fight for you, and basically do anything in our power to keep you from any harm. You know that you are safe here?"
June didn't move, she didn't even breathe. "A-are you making me go back to Hogwarts?"
Remus felt his jaw drop "No! No, we aren't letting you out of this house without a full guard, why would you think I was sending you back to school?"
June sighed heavily, finally taking a breath, "I-I don't know, that just sounded like the way you begin something really bad."
Remus took her hand, "yes, yes it is. June, honey, the boy, Benko. He's not at Hogwarts anymore. He left. No one knows where he is."
June gripped his hand tightly, her wide eyes filling with tears. "Wh-where is Sirius?"
"He's running around the property, checking for anything out of the ordinary. Knowing him, he is also putting up a few extra wards." Remus put his free hand to her cheek, catching a few tears, "We will not let that boy anywhere near you. We might have to stop going to Gringotts for a little while, but you will be kept safe. Do you understand? Do you have any questions?"
June lowered her eyes, turning her head out of his hand, but still squeezing his other tightly.
"No, I don't have any questions. I'm going to take a nap, is that ok?"
Remus nodded, "yes, we will be downstairs. I'll let you know if anything more happens, but for now, you are very safe, and loved, and there is no way he can get to you."
She nodded, releasing his hand. He stood in the doorway, watching her crawl under her covers.
With a sigh he closed the door behind him, waving his wand over the door frame before descending.
This was going to be a long Christmas.
Leo kept his hood up, face down. It was a long trip from Hogwarts, even for one as skilled at apparation as he was. Getting out of the castle grounds alone had taken some skill.
He would go to his father's house, drop off his shrunken items. He would be punished for his failure. His success was going to be his father's fast track into the inner circle, as well as Leo's own. They could return to Russia once the world was in The Dark Lord's control. They could rule there, their Lord would be much too busy with the rest of the world. The America's would be a problem, once they figured out the Dark Lord would not be content with Europe alone. But with this mishap, that chance may be taken from him. His father would be furious, but he was used to the punishments, he would get through it and do better next time. And he would remember every minute of it, he would make sure that Juniper Potter would pay the same price for the delay. Maybe he didn't get the girl peacefully, but he knew enough about her, he could get her still. It might even be easier.
Leo was a few miles from his father's estate when he felt his mark burn like hot coals. His things would have to come with him this time. He closed his eyes, concentrated and turned, disaparating with a crack.
Within minutes, he was kneeling in front of the Dark Lord himself.
"Benko, I was waiting for you. They discovered you were missing from Hogwarts, suspected that you had been for some time, hours ago. Why would you not come straight me?"
"My Lord, it has been a long trip, I needed to travel carefully. I was going to take my things home before appearing before you." Leo spoke confidently, he was an asset, the Dark Lord had told him so.
"Your things were more important than letting me know you have failed?" The Dark lord practically hissed.
His confidence wavered. He was still kneeling, his forehead to the floor. He had not been given permission to move.
"No my Lord, of course not. But I have not failed, I will still bring you the girl. She is no longer at Hogwarts, I will not fail."
"Hmm, your confidence is inspiring. Benko!"
Leo flinched. He knew that he was not the one being summoned this time.
"Yes, my Lord?" his father's voice came from behind him.
"Tell me, has your son failed his assignment?" the Dark Lord was asking questions he already knew the answer to. Leo was definitely in trouble. And his father was the one who would get to decide how much trouble.
"Yes my Lord." Welp, that wasn't a good start.
"Please tell me, why you think your son has failed." His Lord didn't sound angry, perhaps his father would get to decide his punishment afterall.
"The impenetrable wards surrounding Black Manor have been increased tenfold. The Blacks have ceased their daily appointment at Gringotts. They will likely decline any invitations they receive for holiday celebration. And at the start of the new school term, the girl will be moved back into the castle that he no longer has access to. She will not go anywhere alone until my son is apprehended."
Nope, this did not sound good at all.
"And what would your solution, to the problem that your son created, be?"
"There are two options My Lord, either he must be handed to the Aurors, or he must be disposed of."
Jail. He could handle jail. They don't send people to Azkaban for drugging girls. He would be out again in a matter of months, if not weeks.
"Hmm, that is a difficult choice. I will leave it to you, Benko. Your decision will decide your own future."
"Thank you sir." Footsteps. "Leo, raise your head, son."
Leo remained on his knees, but his face was now turned to his father.
His father, his large, strong, harsh father, was bleeding. His robes were torn, his face was bruised and bloodied. The fingers of his non-wand hand were broken and in unnatural positions.
Leo felt the blood drain from his face. His father had been tortured, because of him.
In that instant, he knew.
As his father raised his wand to point at his only son's face, he knew exactly what his fate would be.
As the green light flashed before his eyes, his only thought was 'at least I wasn't punished first.'
Ok, so to answer the most common questions,
Yes I am still writing this. Yes I still in tend to finish it. Yes I am working on it. No I will not tell you who she ends up with or how this will end.
Thank you for reading, I would love to hear what you think of this chapter.