The Tonks — Yes, unfortunately Voldemort got them all, and by all, that includes Nymphadora too.
Length of Story — Funny that this was asked several times, as we're approaching the end now. I doubt there will be more than five parts after this. Actually, I'm pretty sure I'll be wrapping this up in about three.
Part 32: Contingency
Hagrid's heart was in this throat as he rushed forward as quickly as his legs could carry him. He could hardly see five feet in front of him now, and his lamp was flickering in and out. All he could do was advance to the place he had last seen them. Clamoring with his hands in front of him, but mindful of his strength in case he did find those he was desperately searching for, he made contact with a head full of hair. A gleam of silver told him it was Malfoy as he knelt down.
"Hagrid!" Greg yelled, alerting the half giant to his presence.
"Grab hold of me an' don't let go! Where's 'Arry?" Hagrid asked, his breath visible in the freezing air.
"Ahead of us. I saw him fall," Draco said, trying to lift Neville up. "Lumos!"
Now able to see enough to realize Neville was unconscious, Hagrid scooped him up like a baby and moved forward with Draco and Greg gripping the hem of his massive coat.
"Harry!" Draco shouted, holding out his lit wand as they approached.
There, sticking out from a black drape-like form were Harry's shoed feet.
Hagrid furiously kicked the shriveled dementor away like a diseased tarp and hurriedly turned Harry over while somehow balancing Neville in one arm.
"'Arry!" he said gruffly.
From his flickering lamp and Draco's lumos, they could see that Harry's lips were blue; however, the only thing that prevented them from caving into utter despair was the clear sign of him breathing — faint puffs of fog were coming from his mouth in short gasps. Coral unwrapped herself from his wrist a bit and looked up grimly.
Hagrid only paused for a second before scooping Harry (and thus her) in his other arm, mirroring Neville's position.
Silently, they hurried forward, all of them wanting to get within the walls of Hogwarts before things got any worse. Dementors were still falling, but fortunately the wards had remained true and had, at the very least, immobilized them. A hand full of other students quickly joined their entourage, most of them second years.
"Expecto Patronum!" A huge wave of warm, comforting light shot toward them like a wave from the suddenly open front doors of the castle before forming a translucent, glowing wall a dozen feet behind them.
Flitwick's form stumbled from beyond the front doors, wand aloft as he maintained the spell. He waved them onward, the rest of his attention remaining on the bizarre shield.
They needed no further urging, and soon they were safe within the castle.
Flitwick cast some spells behind them before joining them.
"There's no other students out there, thank Merlin," he said, putting his wand away before he turned to the group shivering in the entrance hall, Hagrid in the center. "Alright, to those who can, go to your common rooms. The Headmaster has initiated lockdown. I'll have the castle's elves provide chocolate shortly. Hagrid, infirmary," he ordered.
Unaccustomed to the little man being so direct and serious, they obeyed without question, though Draco and Greg looked at their friends worriedly before Flitwick gave them a reassuring but firm nod of dismissal. They grudgingly left with the rest of the group.
Hagrid carried Harry and Neville all the way to the infirmary, following Flitwick down the corridors and toward the infirmary. Along the way, a house elf appeared beside the short professor, quick to keep up with his rapid pace as she listened to his whispered chocolate order before popping away. Soon after, they went through the doors of the hospital wing.
"It's dementors attacking the wards," Flitwick explained to Pomfrey as she quickly began waving her wand about as Hagrid laid Harry and Neville each in a bed. "I'm now especially grateful Severus suggested adding the defense against them. It seems to completely incapacitate them, though their auras are still obviously present."
"Well, better that than them actively seeking souls," she stated.
"Any others with severe reactions to the foul creatures?" she asked.
"No, but I have already arranged chocolate to be delivered to all the common rooms just the same."
"Good. Where's the Headmaster?" she asked.
"Suring up the wards," Flitwick stated. "He told me he doesn't think there's anything to worry about, but as this is the first time they've truly been tested. . . ."
"I understand," she said, glancing at Hagrid who was still standing worriedly in the middle of the infirmary behind Flitwick. "They'll be fine, Hagrid. I'm really not surprised these two have reacted this way, considering things. . . ."
She gave a sad sigh and Hagrid gave a gruff sniff.
"I got a patronus from Minerva moments before I left Albus. Hogsmeade is also under attack, but from death eaters."
Pomfrey gasped, immediately fearing the worst.
"Fortunately the students are already safe, thanks to Severus who apparently enlisted the help of our elves," Flitwick quickly assured with a wicked smile.
"That man never ceases to astound me. Hogwarts owes him more than I could ever express," she said sincerely.
Flitwick nodded in silent agreement.
"Well, if yuh need me, I'll be checkin' the halls. Make sure no students are wanderin'," Hagrid said after a moment.
"Thank you, Hagrid," Flitwick said. "I'll take the lower floors if you would take the upper?"
Hagrid nodded and they left Pomfrey to her work.
Dumbledore sipped his hot cocoa.
The Aurors had finished clearing out Hogsmeade and they were now going over the grounds of Hogwarts.
He smiled grimly. Happy they had had the wards in place, but saddened that they had been necessary. And the fact some of his students had experienced the horrors of the dementors, even incapacitated ones, weighed heavily on him. He was of course grateful no one had suffered permanent harm, and those exposed had been few, but it felt like a very faint silver lining in a violently thunderous sky.
Neville had woken about an hour after Albus had spoken with Madam Bones. The poor boy had been understandably disoriented and was at first convinced there were two people in extreme pain somewhere nearby. It was only after Pomfrey gently explained he had suffered his worst memory under the dementors that he stopped trying to convince them to search and fell utterly silent. Even though Dumbledore had not been there, he could picture Neville's face as if he had been, and it made the darker side of him wish everyone responsible for the sad condition of the lad's parents would be kissed.
As for Harry, his awakening was slightly worrying for a different reason.
He hadn't said a word when he first woke. He had been still, quiet, and, according to Pomfrey . . . blank.
He responded to Neville when he offered him some chocolate, which relieved Pomfrey, but he had yet to initiate any conversations. This only further cemented their assumption that Harry, like Neville, had experienced a memory many would say was best left forgotten.
Dumbledore closed his eyes, silently deciding he would give the boys some time before asking their Head of House to talk to them about what they had experienced if they remained so stoic.
It was dark and he was certain Neville had fallen asleep in the bed beside him, but he couldn't sleep. He had too much on his mind, least of which concerned what he had learned about the attack on Hogsmeade.
Harry hadn't told anyone about what the dementors had made him see, and it wasn't because he was embarrassed about it or anything like that. It was because he was afraid of what effect that information would have on them. That and he was still uncertain of what he wanted to do with it.
There were two major things about the memory that had struck him. First, (and most obviously) was his mother's protection, but the second was the fact that Voldemort wanted him, not his mother. Why would a Dark Lord want to kill an infant so badly? It was utterly bizarre. However, there was little he could do about it. It wasn't as if he could go up to Voldemort and ask, 'Hey, why did you want to kill a baby who could barely hold a wand, let alone use one?'
He shook himself. Frankly, Voldemort's disturbing fascination with him didn't seem all that important. It was what it was. Yeah, it was troubling, but he decided in this instance it was best to do what Professor Snape did and try not to understand the minds of Dark Lords.
As for his mother's protection, that was where his indecision lay.
Oh, there was no question that he would use the information, he was just unsure about what exactly he should do with itand who he should involve.
Part of him wanted to tell everyone he knew he could trust, like: Professor Snape, the Headmaster, his Head of House, Madam Pomfrey, Neville, and his guardians.
However, he wasn't stupid. He knew this information was dangerous. Not only because of what Voldemort might try to do if he discovered it, but what the very act of this 'self-sacrifice' did to his mother and Voldemort. If someone were to try to do what his mother had, only adjust it in hopes of doing exactly what he himself was hoping to do (reflect the curse but remain alive), but fail. . . .
He knew what his mother's protection had done to the bedroom, and it had only been her magic that had saved him from all harm (save the lightning mark). He could only imagine how explosive it would be if the protection went absolutely wrong.
Which led him to the other side of his internal argument.
He didn't want to tell anyone. He wanted to keep this a secret (save from Coral of course), for the simple likelihood of people wanting to stop him from delving into this mysterious and no doubt hazardous magic.
Sure, he knew they would be well-meaning, and the slightly sensible part of him agreed with them, but the fact remained that he had knowledge that could stop the war, and he didn't want anyone to tell him he should let the adults handle it or whatnot. Experience alone had shown him he was part of this war whether he liked it or not—for crying out loud Voldemort himself had gone after him for some inconceivable reason before he could even properly talk! He should take an active role in this war, not attempt to 'remain' at the sidelines.
Perhaps he was being childish, but he couldn't help but feel possessive of this knowledge. His mother had given it to him, in a way at least, so, in his mind, it was his to do with as he felt best. It was his job to make sure it didn't fall into the wrong hands and was used as it should be — to save innocents.
Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
It was decided then. He would do this on his own, at least for now. If he felt he was getting in over his head he'd go to his guardians or to Snape, otherwise, he would discover how his mother had done what she had and, perhaps, with her words of, 'When this night is over, I will either be a squib or be dead', find a way to initiate the protection but survive. Perhaps with it he would truly end the war, just as she almost had.
This was no small undertaking. He knew that. And he knew he would only get one chance to attempt this protection (assuming he ever figured it out and was given the unfortunate/'lucky' opportunity).
Well, what he needed to do next was learn more about sacrificial magic, but not only 'sacrificial', but self-sacrificial.
It was ironic in a way. Here he was, trying to figure out how to go about committing self-sacrifice while Voldemort was out there hunting for more sacrifices.
Harry's jaw clenched, his thoughts turning to Vincent.
"For you, Vince," he whispered, before rolling over to finally sleep.
Voldemort had been livid. He had been on the verge of a total and complete meltdown – until he remembered he had a backup plan. There was an easy solution, though not preferable, it would do.
Any child under the age of fifteen would suffice. It was all about the mold-ability of the sacrifice's magic, after all. They had to be old enough to have at least a minute control over their magic (eleven), but young enough for their magic to not have begun entering 'majority'.
Well, the only thing to do now was to wait until the time was right to gather up his followers and get them to assemble their families — of course he wouldn't be giving the true reason for his request (order), but that mattered not. It also helped that no one knew the full story behind the Crabbe boy's death, despite how thorough Bones' blasted investigation had been. . . .*
He'd get stronger, become invincible, and then . . . well, then no one would be able to stand in his way.
Not the Ministry.
Not bloody, traitorous Severus.
And definitely not the Potter brat.
He would have the Wizarding World.
Harry took a deep breath to calm down as he forced himself to accept what he was doing. There was no going back now. Well, there was, but he wasn't going to. He had to do this.
"Thanks, Dobby," he whispered as he removed his invisibility cloak.
"Dobby is happy to serve master," Dobby said reverently, stepping back and hurrying down to the edge of the aisle to keep a look out.
They were in the Restricted Section of the library.
It hadn't taken long for Harry to realize the only way he'd find anything about sacrificial magic was through unconventional and less than permitted methods. Fortunately, he had Neville to cover for him in the dorm room (granted, it was 1am and he didn't anticipate any of their dorm mates waking up and noticing his absence), along with his invisibility cloak and Dobby. After some thought (as well as some brief words with Coral), Harry told Neville of his memory and together they agreed it best to keep it a secret for the moment.
The days following the failed dementor attack had passed in a blur, which had been both a blessing and a curse. He had spoken with Professor Sprout briefly about his experience with the dementors, just enough to relieve any worry she clearly had for him, and, though at the time he wanted to avoid talking about it all together, in the end Harry supposed it helped him. But more than that, it had solidified the decision he had made to keep his hunt for the secret of his mother's success hush-hush.
As much as he basked in the care and love of his Head of House, it was abundantly clear that she (and the other adults he looked up to) would try to stop his progress for the simple fact that it was extremely dangerous. His mother had succeeded where no one had before, but in doing so she given up her life — granted, some would argue it was gone the moment Voldemort entered their house. However, no matter how one looked at it, in seeking the secret to it and taking it a step further . . . Harry was risking his very life, because, ultimately, he wanted to use this protection and would if given the opportunity. He wasn't suicidal, but knowing he had the key that could possibly permanently end the war and save the life of another spurred him on like nothing else could — the image of Vince and his family at the forefront.
Neville, though a little wary about the mysterious magic Harry had seen his mother use, agreed with Harry's goal, saying if anyone could find the secret and go beyond it, it would be Harry. Harry was also certain the pain Neville had heard his parents endure from his own memory only fueled his desire to help Harry end the war — however that could be accomplished.
And so, there he was, searching the shelves, hoping to find at least one book that would shed some more light on sacrificial magic as well as self-sacrifice.
It was approaching 2:30am and after flipping through dozens of dark (and more than disturbing) books with the help of Dobby, he finally came upon a chapter called 'Honorable Death' that just might help. It was from a book entitled 'Ancient Family Rites, Forbidden and Forgotten.'
Although the chapter title itself was a bit off-putting, Harry soon found its contents far lighter than some of the other bits he had read from other books — like the merciless rituals in 'Blood Sacrifice, Ultimate Power' and the barbaric methods in 'Young Forever'.
With Dobby now keeping watch again, Harry read.
In the centuries of the ruthless Family Rivalries and Bloodline Feuds, it was common practice for an ailing family elder to endow one of their heirs with their magic as a last act of love upon their family and their children's future offspring. This was in part due to the conflict of bloodline strength between families. An elder imparting their magic to an heir would ensure certain magical gifts would be passed on in the bloodline — such as being an: Animagus, Metamorphmagus, Parselmouth, Seer, Occlumens, Legilimens, Polyglot, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Mage. An heir already with an ability became stronger for a time after being empowered by an elder, but this affect was only temporary; however, their own children were more likely to inherit the ability down the line.
The other reason was for far more serious matters. Family rivalries were particularly vicious and the high mortality rate between fighting families sometimes drove bloodlines to extinction. Heirs, particularly future family heads, were often targeted with extremely gruesome curses and poisons. This, above all other concerns, was what drove many elders into embracing 'Honorable Death', banking on their final act to lessen or outright prevent such perils for one of their loved ones — at least temporarily.
To receive such a gift was a great honor and to carry out the act itself was believed to be the greatest act anyone could ever do. For many families, future generations were sworn to remember any such elders and honor them, imparting a degree of 'eternal life' to the deceased elder through remembrance.
This Family Rite is a ritual of self-sacrifice, which many in the modern age consider dark magic, but most will concede it was a necessary evil in those times.
Harry paused, his heart hammering in his chest. This had to be it, or at least it was where his mother might have gotten the idea for what she had done. He turned his eyes back to the page, skimming a bit before coming to more informative paragraphs.
Some today may view this practice as ritualistic suicide; however, unlike suicide, which is arguably done out of hopelessness and purposeless surrender, this is done out of unwavering devotion and hope in the next generation. Purpose and intent is what drives this ritual, and though a selected family member would end the life of the willing elder, it was the elder's will and rune marker that ensured proper transfer. An elder crafted his/her magic in their final moments to carry out a specific desire — whether that be purely magic/ability enhancement, part protection and bloodline reinforcement, or maximum guard against harm. Understandably, the current environment of the family would dictate much of what an elder's objective would be.
Whatever was chosen, the gift was only temporary, but often times it lasted long enough for the heir to grow into adulthood and become strong enough to watch over themselves and their own — the heart of the reason why this Rite was born and existed for so long.
Harry turned the page, hoping for more information, mainly about what this 'rune marker' was exactly, but was disappointed when he was given a list of people who had had an 'Honorable Death' and which heir they had chosen.
This list went on for several pages, many full of names he had never heard of, but then a few last names he recognized began to surface.
1538 Carina Aquila Black - Cetus Pavo Black
1573 Egbert Flint - Tuberous Flint
1623 Violetta Longbottom - Cassiopeia Longbottom
1689 Charlus Black - Nigellus Black
1745 Sibelius Potter - Gerald Potter
1841 Wulfric Albus Dumbledore - Percival Sandoz Dumbledore
The names didn't continue beyond 1875, which made Harry recall what he had learned about the Legacy Spell from the Sorting Hat. The purpose of the Legacy Spell at that time was to gauge the magical abilities of a child and see if they were worthy of the family. Of course, it had not always been that way, but these family rivalries had clearly brought out the worst in too many people — granted, those times also brought about this ultimate act of family devotion and love — though Harry wondered if it could have morphed into a perverse sort of duty and pride, or an escape from the fear of becoming painfully feeble in years.
Coming to the last page of the chapter, Harry continued to read, never minding how late (or early) it was becoming.
Through the centuries of use, this Rite has failed a number of times, backfiring horribly on those present and destroying the body of the elder. At first it was believed to have failed because the one receiving the gift wasn't worthy or that the rune marker was inadequate, but later, upon interviewing ghosts of failed Rite elders, it was discovered that any selfish motives from the elder would cause the backlash. This included expectations of the family forever honoring their name or other such delusions of eternal grandeur, as well as dreams of their chosen heir becoming strong for the sole reason to completely destroy their rivals.
Harry nodded to himself. That made sense. For true self-sacrifice, any greed or the like would conflict with it and cause it to fail.
With a start, Harry suddenly realized there was sunlight from the window hitting the book and he hurriedly put it away. He needed to get back to his bed immediately!
"Dobby," Harry whispered urgently.
Instantly, Dobby was there and before Harry knew it, they were on his bed, its curtains still wrapped tightly around. He could hear a few snores and that comforted him.
His mission had been a success. Now he needed to look into this 'rune marker'.
Augusta couldn't help but feel strange in not heading to a particular room on the fourth floor as she had done in almost every previous visit before her son and daughter-in-law had been moved into the muggle hospital.
Carrying a thick folder, she headed to the office of the head of the Janus Thickey Ward to drop off the most recent information on Frank and Alice's conditions.
She hid a soft smile.
According to Dr. Price, things were improving on all fronts. According to their last MRIs, their minds were on the mend and from some machine called an 'EEG', Price said they were responding to outside stimuli even though they were both in a coma. This, he assured her, was an extremely good sign, and what was even better was that the readings were slowly getting stronger and more stable. He was confident they would wake in the near future and actually said they could wake them up now, but that it was best to wait for them to heal as much as they could before doing so. If they found their progress had plateau-ed and they were still not waking on their own, then they would step in. Augusta agreed when shown their before-and-after EEG readings and MRI images. The differences between them were obvious even to someone like her.
She was hopeful they would wake when Neville came home later that week. With everything that had been happening in the world, something good was desperately needed.
Her thoughts went to that poor boy she knew had been part of Neville's circle of friends.
She of course had never really associated with the Crabbe family. They had been too dark for her liking, even if she excluded the fact Markov was or used to be a death eater. But no child deserved to die, least of all like that, and as much as she loathed any death eater, she knew what it was like to grieve the loss – or perceived loss — of a son. And Markov was grieving, and it had driven him beyond the brink of insanity.
He was on the fourth floor now, down the hall from where Frank and Alice had stayed. From what little she had managed to overhear from healers tending to him, the man was a blubbering mess — which was understandable. And, according to one blabby medi-witch, they had found evidence of him being under the Imperious — which had been so strong it had actually left damage on his mind. He had very few moments of lucidness and rocked in eerie silence most of the time. It was very obvious, at least to her, that the man was suffering from more than just immense grief, but guilt as well. She could hardly imagine. Imperioed to do whatever he had done (as the exact circumstances of his family's murder was still unknown to the public), all the while aware of his actions. . . . It was enough to make her pity even him.
It was morbidly ironic, and she was disgusted with herself for even thinking it, but she thought it anyway. At the end of the last war, Markov had escaped Azkaban by lying and saying he had been imperioed. Well, this time it was actually the truth.
Harry was on his way back to the dorms after the final feast. Neville had opted to pack beforehand, so chose to stay for more dessert. Harry on the other hand needed to pack to be ready for the next morning when they left for the summer.
"Hello, Harry Potter."
Harry nearly leapt out of his skin.
:Really, does she just materialize out of thin air?: Coral hissed quietly.
"Hi, Luna," Harry managed, calming himself.
"Have you found the secret?" she asked, for the first time actually looking interested instead of dazed.
"Er. . . ." Harry looked around them and found they were alone, at least for the moment. "Maybe. I'm still trying to find out a few things, but I've made progress."
Harry didn't see a reason to lie, at least to her. Who was she going to tell, and who would believe her? Sort of a mean thought, but it was true. Besides, he liked Luna. He wasn't sure why, but there was something about her.
"Well, I learned it's tied to something called a 'rune marker'." He decided he didn't need to specify what 'it' was. Luna seemed to be following without him explicitly saying 'the protection against the killing curse'.
Her eyebrows went up a tiny bit and her eyes glanced very briefly at his scar — the first time he could ever recall her looking at it.
"That makes sense. You might want to read 'Etchings of the Elders'. Very informative."
Harry slowly nodded, devoting the title to his memory. "Thanks, I will."
"Unfortunately, it's not in Hogwarts' library. I've looked. But if you want, I can ask my father if he could let you borrow his copy this summer?"
"That would be great, Luna, thanks," Harry said with a smile. "What is the book about exactly?"
"Old rune writings and Stone Pixies," she answered simply.
"Stone Pixies?" Harry asked, now a little confused.
"Well, runes had to come from somewhere, right?" she returned seriously.
Harry blinked before Luna gave a firm happy nod and skipped off.
:Well, that was interesting: Coral muttered.
Harry silently agreed.
Voldemort hid a grin as all of his death eaters assembled before him.
Soon he would experience the rush of pure power and become invincible, but first, to set his plan in motion.
They were in a clearing within a forest of no importance (other than it holding this meeting and being the site he had chosen to soon do the next sacrifice — preferably sacrifices).
He went forward, his dark robes trailing lightly behind him as he turned his eyes to Lucius and Trent Goyle. He didn't fail to see how their eyes became nervous. Good, they should always fear and tremble before him.
"Your sons are friends with Potter, I understand?" he asked.
It wasn't really a question, but they nodded anyway.
"Good. Go and bring them to me. I wish to ask them some questions myself. Perhaps their answers will paint the way to Potter's guardians. I have grown tired of waiting for my spies, particularly within the Adoption Board. Potter's luck will soon run out, and so will the number of his protectors."
Voldemort let his smile show this time as he met Lucius' eyes. . . .
Something in them took Voldemort aback. Something had changed. Something was different. Alarmingly different.
It all came to him in a fraction of a second as he peered into the blond aristocrat's soul.
Lucius didn't believe him.
Lucius knew he was lying. . . .
He looked deeper.
Voldemort was not surprised by the fear in Lucius, immense and thick, but oddly this fear was not for himself. There was strength, or at least an unwavering intent to do something — or rather, prevent him from doing something.
And there it was.
Like a slap to the face that would leave one's skin stinging long after being struck, Voldemort found a serious problem.
Somehow, Lucius knew. . . .
And it was abundantly clear Lucius would not be retrieving Draco for him.
Voldemort saw red.
Lucius knew he had been discovered even before Voldemort's eyes darkened, and just as Voldemort began to move, Lucius side-stepped, hoping his contingency plan would hold true.
Pulling out his wand and barely managing to roll out of the path of Voldemort's killing curse, Lucius fired his own at the closest death eater he had not allied with weeks before. . . .
And then, just as he had desperately hoped, Goyle, Nott, and Flint acted — each relentlessly attacking the most loyal death eaters near as chaos instantly ensued.
Muttering a word that would trigger a message to be sent to Narcissa (made possible by Severus' ingenious spellwork), Lucius tossed another spell, this one hitting Peter Pettigrew in the face. The rat would not be getting up.
Lucius didn't bother to count as body after body fell, most barely having managed to pull out their wands in attempt to defend themselves as he fled Voldemort's wrath. He felt spells shooting past his shoulders while others narrowly missed his legs. He leapt over a dead werewolf (courtesy of Nott) and dived over a fallen tree.
The old wood exploded, but he didn't dare look back as he vaulted himself behind another tree, this one still standing, as he activated his port-key, confident he was beyond the wards Voldemort now always erected. As the yank of the port-key took him, he hoped his co-conspirators had or would make it out as well.
"Draco, take hold of this. We are leaving," his mother said flatly, thrusting a pack into his arms moments after slamming his bedroom door open and entering without so much as a knock.
He had never seen his mother like this. Her eyes held a panic that he had never seen in another human being, and it frightened him. Understandably at a loss, Draco took hold of the bag as she took hold of his shoulder.
"Mum, wha—" he started, only to feel a rather violent pull of a port-key.
He was suddenly aware of dim candlelight and the sound of water dripping, however, his mother's turbulent breathing was what had most of his attention. He turned around in her arms and looked up into her face.
A bizarre mixture of relief and worry was what he found, and he suddenly understood.
They had carried out the contingency plan his godfather had planned out with his father. Something had happened, and they had felt it necessary to have his mother take him and leave.
Were they even in England anymore? He wondered, but suddenly his thoughts turned elsewhere.
"Where's father?" he asked.
His mother took a slow, shaky breath, but when she finally spoke, her voice was steady. "He should be with Severus now or very soon. We'll know in a few minutes," she said, looking down at the bag she had given him.
Draco handed it back to her and she immediately opened it and retrieved a mirror.
"Where are we?" he asked after a long moment, deciding that was the next most pressing question.
She didn't look up from the mirror, but she answered. "Gannat, France."
After it was clear he would not be told anything else for the moment, Draco looked around and moved to sit on a chair near a nearly bare bookcase. The place was very old and reminded him more of a dungeon than anything else, though fortunately there were no torture devices. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and prayed his father and godfather were safe.
All the while, his mother continued to stare into the mirror, waiting.
*Voldemort is not aware of Bellatrix letting Narcissa in on the little secret (the whole story of the Crabbes' murder). All Voldemort knows is that the public somehow learned that death eaters had been involved and that Markov did not murder his family.
Next part, Coming to a Head, is under construction.
A/N: Well, the wait at least wasn't as long as last time :P Thanks for all of the reviews and your patience. ^^
Side-note: To those who may be interested, I've published a short story called 'Abraham' available through the Kindle Store on Amazon. You can find the link to it on my profile. I hope you'll check it out :)