Here's chapter twelve! Sorry for the wait, RL got in the way you know. Anyways hope this one has enough action for you :)
Disclaimer: Do not own Harry Potter, belongs to J.K.R.
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
Vala stopped, her toast hovering over her mouth. She lowered it slowly, staring at the black-haired boy with wide eyes. Did she hear him correctly?
Harry ran a hand through his messy black hair, looking sheepish.
"I wanted to ask you earlier, but the raid…" Harry trailed off hesitantly. "I mean, I think you feel the same, but if you don't, I completely understand. But don't feel forced… I will never abuse my control over the slavery spell." He coughed nervously when she only blinked at him. "Vala?"
Vala was shocked. She liked Harry, and she had entertained the thought that he liked her too from what Hermione said, but it was still unexpected. How could she be both his slave and his girlfriend? She didn't see Harry as her master, not really, but it still was uncomfortable. Not to mention she hadn't told him the truth about the raid from earlier. If her grandfather learned of their relationship…
"I'm sorry. Forget it. Of course you wouldn't."
Vala felt horrible when Harry stood up and turned away from her. She wanted to scream "Yes" at him so badly. And she knew he would blame himself when it was really her issues preventing it. She felt something break inside her as Harry walked out of the Room of Requirements.
She didn't know when she had become such a coward. In her youth, she had been fearless. But now, she was so afraid. But she was so sick and tired of the fear… she felt like she was only a piece of who she once was.
With sudden strength, she rose to her feet and also left the room. She had been expecting to have to hunt him down, but she was startled to see he was leaning against the wall outside the door. He looked up when she approached him, his emerald eyes dimmed.
Before she lost her nerve, she stepped closer so that her body was pressed against his. He stared at her in surprise. She claimed his lips, and he froze instantly. When he remained unresponsive she pulled away, but he quickly pulled her back to him. He kissed her softly, and she reciprocated with new desperation.
Nothing mattered at the moment. It was as if time had stopped. She didn't care that this was stupid, and impossible. She didn't care that she was his slave. She didn't care that he didn't know the truth. With his lips on hers, she felt free for the first time in years. She didn't know how something so wrong could feel so right.
They pulled away to breath, and Vala panted slightly. He smiled at her, and his grip on her waist tightened.
"Was that a yes?" he asked softly.
Vala nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
He leaned in to kiss her again, and Vala gladly did the same.
A few weeks passed since they became a couple, and everyday Harry felt more and more in love with the black-haired witch. It was as if the slavery spell didn't even exist. Harry told her things he had never shared with anyone, including his childhood and his fears from the war. In turn, Vala admitted some of the horrors she had been subjected to by the Lestranges and her own experiences in the war.
But even then, Harry knew Vala was hiding so much more. She never talked much about her parents, and she still would not tell him her last name. Harry was starting to wonder if she ever would. But Harry had faith that through time she would come to trust him more.
They had spent much of their time training, and Harry was amazed more and more each day by her magical abilities. Everything came so naturally to her. She had admitted a few days earlier that before she became a slave she had been tutored. He had tried to learn more on the subject, but she had only continued the duel and pretended to not of heard his follow-up question.
Often, Harry would stay up late and research. He wanted nothing more than to free Vala, but he was afraid that only the ones who had cursed her in the beginning would be capable of that. And both the Lestranges had died in the last battle. Despite this, Harry did not stop searching. Hermione often came and assisted him, and even Ron tagged along a few times. But lately, Harry had seen less and less of Ron.
The raids had increased over the past days, and although they were minor it was still concerning. Ron informed him that they still were uncertain who their leader was. A week ago they cornered one of the attackers, but the man cast the killing curse on himself before they could bring him into questioning. Harry found that both disturbing and shocking. The Death Eaters had never been so dedicated before.
The scarred man from the raid, Cyrus according to Vala, still troubled Harry. The man had informed Harry that he was not a Death Eater, but Harry was certain he was only trying to cause confusion. Perhaps that man was even the leader and so saw himself as the new Dark Lord instead of a Death Eater. The man had given the orders to retreat, after all. He had mentioned the man to Ron, but so far it has led to nothing.
Harry turned to smile slightly at his girlfriend, and she took a seat next to him on the couch. She watched him with concern.
"You're still worried about the raids," she murmured.
He nodded, and she wrapped her arms around him gently.
"Why don't you help?" Vala asked quietly, resting her head on his chest. "I know you want to."
He sighed. "What would happen to you if I died?" he asked her, embracing her even tighter. "You were lucky I was nearby after both the Lestranges were killed. A few more minutes and you would have died." Harry shivered. "I can't ever put you in that position again."
She pulled back to survey his face. "You are staying out for me," she breathed, surprised.
He nodded slightly, waiting for her reaction.
"What if you had no choice?" Vala whispered, unable to meet his eyes. "What if they wanted me? What would you do if they attacked me?"
Harry was startled. "Do they want you?" he asked quickly, starting to panic.
Vala paused as if she didn't know what to say. "I bring great entertainment," she finally said bitterly.
"Did someone say something to you at the raid?" Harry asked, suddenly suspicious. He remembered the scarred man's taunt about Vala being a good whore. He narrowed his eyes in anger at the reminder. "Did that Cyrus say something?"
Vala bit her lip, hesitating. "It doesn't really matter."
"Vala, of course it matters," Harry snapped back. "If he threatened you-"
"It's nothing I can't handle," Vala retorted, pulling away from him abruptly.
Harry raised his eyebrows, shocked at her violent response. "What did he say?" he demanded. "Tell me, Vala!" he added, worried.
She stiffened, and Harry realized what he had done. He had tried to never speak directly around Vala, but sometimes orders would slip out. This one, for once, he did not want to reword.
She paused, daring not to answer him, but he knew she was going through slowly escalating pain by not instantly answering.
"Vala, just tell me. If he threatened you…"
She just shook her head, her eyes closed tightly. Harry watched in silent dismay as she stubbornly remained quiet. After a few minutes of tense silence, she fell to her knees, fighting back a scream.
"Vala, please just answer me," Harry whispered, shaking. He hated himself for making her go through this. But if it was the only way to make sure… he had to protect her. She would never tell him otherwise.
She shook her head at him, curling up in a ball on the floor. He kneeled next to her and hesitantly touched her arm. She flinched violently at his touch. Harry froze, horrified at her reaction.
"You don't have to tell me," he whispered frantically. "The earlier order is removed."
She slowly uncurled herself, and Harry gently pulled her into his lap. She shoved his chest to move away from him, trembling. Hurt and disbelief flashed in her grey eyes.
"You told me you wouldn't misuse the bond," she gasped. "You promised me!"
Harry looked away. He had never felt so disgusted with himself. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words would come out. He realized he was no better than his uncle, or the Lestranges.
When she locked herself in her bedroom, he remained motionless. He tried to remember why protecting her was enough justification to force her to tell the truth, because now he felt physically sick at the thought. And the resounding silence seemed to be condemning him.
He had made a horrible mistake.
"Vala, you need to eat something!"
He stared at the locked door to her quarters, waiting for her reply.
It was silent.
Harry turned away, and quietly called out Dobby's name. As an elf, Dobby would be able to deliver her food until Vala forgave him.
Part of him feared she never would.
It had been four days since the argument, and Vala still remained in her bedroom. Dobby continued to deliver her food and anything else she required. Vala had yet to speak to Harry.
Yesterday, Harry had attempted to unlock the door with magic. Nothing had worked, and Harry grudgingly gained more respect for the black-haired witch.
He wanted so badly to beg her forgiveness and to somehow make it up to her. But no matter what he yelled at her through the door, she remained unresponsive.
Harry was about to try again when the fire flared. The young lord was startled when Hermione fell through. He moved to help her up, but she quickly got to her feet. He was shocked to see tears falling down from her eyes.
"Ron was captured," she gasped. "There was a raid and he was taken."
Harry collapsed on the couch, frozen with fear. His heart hammered in his chest, still trying to digest the news.
"Do you have any leads?" Harry asked her desperately, trying to stay calm. "Do you know any of them who took him?"
"They were all wearing hoods," she told him hopelessly, falling down beside Harry on the couch. "I don't know what to do."
Harry wrapped his arms around his best friend, fighting back his own tears. "We'll find him, Mione," he promised, but even he was doubtful of his own words. With no leads, finding Ron would be extremely difficult even if he was still alive.
"But what if we don't," she cried, clearly realizing the same thing. "I-I can't lose him, Harry."
"We will find him Hermione."
Harry spun around at the new voice. The dark-haired witch who had monopolized his thoughts for the past few days was standing behind them, her eyes narrowed. She had an unreadable expression on her face as the two Gryffindors stared at her. Harry tried to find any sign that she had forgiven him even slightly, but she was unnaturally devoid of emotion.
"We don't know where to look," Hermione told her anxiously, too upset to properly greet her.
Vala took a deep breath. "I do," she said quietly. "I have a few ideas of where to find him."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, staring at Vala in confusion.
Vala's gaze did not move from Hermione. "The Lestranges were privy to a lot of information," she said, shrugging. "When I was their slave I couldn't tell any of their secrets so they had no reason to stay quiet around me. I've been to a number of headquarters with them."
"But that was a few years ago," Harry said uncertainly. "The chances of-"
"We have to try," Hermione interrupted, looking hopeful. "We can't just do nothing."
"I know where they'll be," Vala stated confidently.
Harry eyed the black-haired witch carefully. He felt like she was hiding something.
"Where is that?" Harry asked, with an eyebrow raised in question.
Her eyes finally flickered to his, but they were unreadable. "It's a manor in Bulgaria. I can apparate us into the forest nearby at the edge of the wards."
"How do we get past the wards then?" Hermione asked, getting to her feet with sudden determination.
"I can break them down," Vala said softly. "I know how they work."
"And how do you know that?" Harry asked, staring at her piercingly.
She smiled at him, but Harry noticed there was no warmth in the gesture.
"You'll just have to trust me, my lord," she said coolly.
Harry felt like she had just punched him in the gut. She hadn't referred to him as 'my lord' for weeks, and the Boy-Who-Lived didn't miss the double meaning in the trust comment.
"We will have to leave immediately," Vala added, stepping closer to Hermione. She offered her hand to the other witch. "Take my hand, and then he can take yours."
Hermione quickly followed Vala's instructions, but Harry paused. The young lord glanced at Vala, but she was purposefully avoiding his gaze. He hadn't missed the venom in her statement either. With a sigh, he took Hermione's offered hand.
"This is going to be a huge risk," Vala warned them. "There will be dozens of followers."
"It's a risk we are going to have to take," Harry told her, in a true Gryffindor fashion.
Hermione nodded, squeezing Harry's hand in agreement. "I'll do anything to get Ron back," she vowed.
Vala gave her a twisted smile. "You'd be surprised how quickly that outlook will change." But before either Hermione or Harry could properly process her statement, they felt the familiar tug of apparating.
Harry landed ungracefully on the grass-covered ground, but the two witches were both firmly on their feet. He quickly jumped up and examined his surroundings. They were at the edge of a forest, and a huge mansion was at the opposite edge of the tree-line. A gate surrounded the mansion and its landscape, but they still had a clear view of the towering building. It was a dark grey color, majestically standing in the shadows of the fading sun.
Vala, behind them, looked transfixed.
"Where do the wards start?" Hermione asked, gripping her wand tightly in her hand.
"We already bypassed the first," Vala told them quietly. "It would seem I still am keyed into the outer wards. The inner wards will be much harder to crack."
"But you can?" Hermione said, biting her lip.
Vala's eyes did not stray from the manor. "Yes."
Hermione nodded confidently, and started to approach the manor slowly. Harry glanced at Vala sideways. She caught his eye and they both hesitated, glancing at Hermione who was out of hearing distance.
"Vala, if I die Hermione can take over the bond-"
"You won't die," she cut him off grimly. "I don't think you'll have that problem. They prefer torture here."
Harry tensed, and she started walking off but he quickly grabbed her arm. He spun her back around, scanning her face desperately.
"I am so sorry," he murmured. "I only wanted to protect you, but I know that is no excuse. Vala, I wouldn't live with myself if you didn't realize…" he trailed off, taking a deep breath. "You understand me more than anyone else. You make me feel like no one else has. You are not and never will be a slave to me."
She surveyed him with her stormy grey eyes. He wished he knew what she was feeling, but her expression was unreadable. She opened her mouth to speak, but Hermione had already moved back to stand beside them.
"Vala, where is it best to approach?" she asked impatiently.
Vala stared at Harry for another moment, before closing her eyes and sighing. They opened the next instant, and she turned to face Hermione directly.
"There is a blind side on the west entrance," Vala said softly. "Follow me."
Vala turned around and walked back into the forest, with Hermione trailing closely behind. Harry tried to gather his thoughts and focus, and he hurriedly followed the two witches.
No matter his feelings for Vala, Ron was the top priority now. And with that in mind he cleared away his conflicting emotions and tightened his grip on his wand.
He knew they were probably waiting for him. After all, they took Ron of all the Aurors. It was not just a coincidence. And from the way Hermione glanced back at him anxiously, she realized the same thing. But they couldn't leave their best friend. And perhaps, they would be unexpected. Surely they didn't realize Vala had a way into their headquarters.
Harry's eyes did not stray from the back of the black-haired witch. For the first time since he had met her, he had this feeling that something was not right.
Vala ducked under another branch, pushing away the brackets in her path. Hermione was close by her, breathing heavily. Vala could tell she was worried. Harry was about ten feet behind them, and she didn't have to look behind to know he was staring at her.
He was a bit suspicious of her sudden all-knowing persona. Vala couldn't blame him. In fact, at the moment she was having difficulty staying mad at him. She knew his apology had been sincere, but she still remembered the helpless feeling of having to obey his order. She hated that feeling.
She wondered if this was the smart move. Surely her grandfather realized she would bring them here, to his manor. She was probably playing right into his hands. But she also knew that he would send them a message if they didn't react. It might have been Ron's wand hand, but Vala couldn't rule out the possibility of it being a dead body instead.
She remembered that lesson very clearly.
"Remember, Vala, if you start to care for one person there are many more to come. That's why it's so easy to kill hostages. There are many more to choose from."
She had stared at him seriously. "Even you?"
"Well I'm not exactly a normal human," he had said, smirking. "I expect you to die for me if I needed it. But, well, I am more than capable of taking care of myself. So you have no one to worry about, dear."
Vala had smiled at him, believing in every word he had uttered.
"Take this hostage for example," he had added, motioning to the half-dead man at their feet that she admittedly had forgotten about. "He will be a better message of fear than a bargaining chip. He was lacking connections, and connections are everything in this world." He had grinned at her viciously, before striding off. "Oh and take care of this trash for me, darling," he had added as an afterthought, glancing back to smirk at her.
She had smirked back.
"How do you plan on breaking through the wards?" Hermione questioned. "We cannot risk being detected."
Vala glanced at her, grimacing. "We may not have a choice."
"Don't concern yourself with the little details," Vala shot back to Hermione lightly. "I mean, aren't you guys known for plunging into danger?"
"We are also known for killing people because of it," Harry hissed from behind her, clearly seeing through her attempts to lighten the mood. "And don't change the subject."
Vala's grip on her wand tightened. Sometimes Harry was much too perceptive.
"What aren't you telling us?" Hermione asked quietly, glancing between Harry and her. "If we are going to get Ron out you have to trust us."
Trust. Vala fought back a vicious laugh at that.
"I don't know," Vala told them. "I dabbled into wards in the past. Hopefully I'll be able to get us in."
They both stayed silent after her half-truth, and Vala hoped they were done questioning her. This was terrifying enough for her without her two allies trying to tear into her past.
She tried not to think as they reached the edge of the forest and neared the wards. She had been lying when she had said she was uncertain how to get in. Her grandfather had taught her using these wards as her training tool. She knew these wards all too well. Part of her was concerned he had altered them in her absence, but she was praying his arrogance had blinded him.
"Stop," Vala told them.
She held up her hands to the wards, feeling the familiar magic. She smiled. It hadn't changed after all.
The black-haired witch made quick work of the wards, breaking them down expertly. Time had not dimmed her ability in ward breaking. She slowly removed the last traces of the wards, and her hands dropped to her side.
That had been easier than she anticipated.
She stiffened. That was only more proof that her grandfather knew they were there. He wanted them to break through the wards. He was much to calculating to overlook this.
"It's done," Vala said quietly, pushing away her doubts. They were too far in to back out now. She turned to face the impressed pair of Gryffindors. "We only have a few minutes before they rebuild, so we will have to go through the same process to escape."
They nodded, and Vala noticed they were both shifting anxiously.
"Let's get to the dungeons," Vala stated. "I'm sure that's where they are keeping him." She shivered slightly. "Unfortunately I am an expert on getting there."
She spun around when she felt a hand grab hers. Emerald eyes were observing her in concern.
"Are you sure you're okay being here?" he asked quietly. "You must have horrible memories from this place."
Vala glanced at the manor, fighting back the urge to shudder. "It's nothing I can't handle," she told him curtly, removing her hand from his grasp. Before he could continue, she began giving directions. "We can enter through this west wing. From there we need to make it to south wing where the best entrance to the dungeons is located."
She knew quite a few secret entrances and tunnels that go through that area. And plus, her grandfather's quarters are in the north wing so it would be best to avoid that wing.
"Let's go," Hermione urged them.
Vala nodded before placing a disillusionment charm on herself. She felt the usual cold chill trail down her body, and repressed a shiver. She noticed that Hermione and Harry quickly followed suit.
Motioning for them to follow her, they stepped out from the cover of the trees. The trio took off at a fast pace to the west wing, and they made it to a side entrance without any issues. She continued through a maze of corridors, all which were unoccupied. She stopped abruptly when she heard a set of voices.
"… just got back."
"Good, I need someone to curse. Nothing better than that filth to use as target practice."
Vala peered around the corner, and hissed under her breath when she spotted the two men. She recognized them instantly.
One was easily over six feet, with brown hair and a square face. Jarin Pyrite. He was a powerful presence, and important in her grandfather's circle.
The other was also very intimidating, but in a different way. He was of a smaller build, with dark black hair that fell to his shoulders and even darker eyes. His name was Yuek Gibbon, her grandfather's head interrogator. She knew from personal experience his capabilities.
She breathed a sigh of relief when they continued down a different direction. She did not want to have to face those two if she could avoid it.
Quietly, she led them into the previously occupied hallway and pressed her hand behind a tapestry. Instantly, the floor in front of them lowered. Hermione and Harry started in surprise, but hastily followed her under to the underground passage. The entrance closed behind them, leaving them in darkness.
"Lumos," Hermione whispered.
Harry and Vala mimicked her, and they all stared around the passage with the light from their wands.
"What were those men talking about?" Harry asked hurriedly, moving his wand-light to point at Vala.
"Probably captured some muggles," Vala answered softly. "From what I guess, at least."
"How did you know about this passage?" Hermione stepped closer to them. "And where does it lead?"
"Found it when I was trying to escape the Lestranges," Vala quickly lied. "And it leads to the holding cells. Now stay quiet and follow me."
They walked through the cold, eerie passage silently. Several minutes passed before Vala stopped at a seemingly dead end. She slowly pushed against the hard wall, and the two Gryffindors behind her were startled to see it swing open. Vala glanced around, and clambered out when she was certain it was empty. She fell onto the cold stone floor of the prison. Hermione dropped down beside her, and Harry was close behind. Harry looked back up at the passage exit up above, and was again startled to see the passage seal itself.
"It detects magical energy," Vala whispered to them as explanation. "Now let's go."
They passed many empty cells as they walked through the dark chamber. Vala was a bit suspicious at the lack of guards, but assumed it was because the prisoners were at the other end of the dungeons. She stopped at the corner, and glanced around it. There were three men stationed by one cell, and she was relieved to see a head of red hair.
"Ron's here," she hissed to her two companions. "But there are three guards. I'm going to incapacitate them."
Before Harry or Hermione could respond, she sent three consecutive stunners at the guards. Two fell down from the red spell, but the third missed its target. The third man directed his wand at her, but Vala was startled to see him get hit from behind.
"What in Merlin's name was that?" Harry hissed at her, stepping over the unconscious man.
"Thanks," she told him, ignoring his comment.
Hermione ran past them to the cell, where Ron was unconscious. She tried to yank the door open, but quickly muttered "alohamora" when it refused to budge. She kneeled beside him and looked for a pulse on his wrist. She let out a sigh of relief.
"He's alive," Hermione whispered. "Ennerverate!" she added, directing her wand at her boyfriend.
He came to, drowsily blinking up at Hermione. She kissed his cheek.
"Thank Merlin," she murmured.
He suddenly sat up, alert.
"Hermione," he gasped. "We have to leave. Now!"
Unsteadily he rose to his feet, and Hermione gripped his arm tightly. Vala, quite agreeing with the red-head, urged them to hurry. Quickly they headed back to the secret passage, and Vala tapped her wand against the stone wall.
"Open," she whispered.
A ladder suddenly appeared, and Vala hastily climbed up it. She was followed by Harry, then Ron, and finally Hermione. The entrance closed behind them, leaving them in darkness once again. A few more muttered spells later, and the passage lit up.
"Ron," Harry murmured. "I'm so glad you're alive."
Ron, although covered in bruises and dirt, grinned back momentarily. "Good to see you too, mate. And you too, Vala." The grin faded promptly. "But we can talk later. We have to go."
The four of them exchanged fleeting glances before continuing on at a fast pace. Vala understood why he was so frantic so escape. Her grandfather was never kind on the prisoners, or anyone for that matter. She shivered slightly.
Silently, she was praying that they'd make it out alive… That somehow they'd gotten lucky and this wouldn't be a trap…. That her grandfather had really never changed the wards… That he hadn't known about this secret passage…
But she wasn't naive enough to really put much conviction behind those wishes.
She came to the other end of the passage, and stopped, listening for any noises. When she heard nothing, she slowly opened the sealed door. Glancing around, she was relieved to see it was empty. She nodded the okay at the other three before climbing up to the main floor. They did the same, breathing heavily.
"Come on," Vala whispered at them, feeling a stir of unease.
They didn't have the chance to move. Around the corner stepped out a man Vala recognized instantly. He leaned against the wall of the corridor, casually twirling his wand. Golden blond hair fell in waves to his shoulders, framing his handsome aristocratic face. He looked no older then forty, but Vala knew in actuality he was much older than that. His sharp, grey eyes regarded them, and Vala stiffened under the gaze. She stepped back, her grip on her wand tightening in panic.
"Don't leave on my account," he said smoothly, his grey eyes piercing into hers. He smiled charmingly as he added, "Granddaughter."
Well! Wow a lot happens in this chapter! I wanted to move the story along and this chapter was the result! I was considering going over the few weeks of them being bf/gf, but in the end it just seemed like fluffy fillers. For those of you who want that don't worry! There will be plenty of fluff later on!
So Vala versus her grandfather in the next chapter! Sorry for the cliffhanger, hope you don't hate me ;) the next chapter should be interesting!
Thanks to all you reviewers, you make my day! :) Thanks for your continual support. Please leave me a quick message on your thoughts of this chapter!
Happy reading :)