Title: Crepúsculo 11/11
DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to J.K. Rowling. They're not mine.
Summary: Dumbledore explains it all.
Author's Notes: Since I started writing Crepúsculo in 2002, it only incorporates canon through GoF, so you'll find various inconsistencies with later canon in this fic. Among other things, Dumbledore's still alive, as you might have noticed from this chapter's summary, and Ginny's name is Virginia rather than Ginevra. Continuing the trend from Chapter Ten, this chapter contains an HBP reference. Huge thanks to Soz for betaing all the way through.
A Number of Truths
When Ginny awoke she was propped up in a bed in the Hospital Wing with Madam Pomfrey peering at her. "About time that potion started working," she said. "How are you feeling?"
Ginny considered. "My shoulder--"
"It got hit with a fairly nasty hex, but it should mend just fine. The Healing Draught will work more quickly now that you're awake."
Her shoulder was stiff and felt as though it might rip apart if she moved too quickly, but already the pain was lessening. Her mouth, though, felt like it had been stuffed with cotton. "Could I get some water?"
Madam Pomfrey said, "Of course," and fetched a glass for her. "The Headmaster asked to be informed when you woke up," she said. "I'll just be a moment. If you need anything, ring the bell beside your bed."
"Okay," Ginny said -- and suddenly it all came back to her: the explosions, the tunnel, the Shrieking Shack, the Death Eaters, the hill . . . "Wait!" she called out. "What happened?"
"The Headmaster will explain things, dear," the nurse said, and went into her office.
Ginny remembered all of what had happened, but trying to think about what it meant was too monumental a task to manage in the thirty seconds Madam Pomfrey was in her office. "The Headmaster will be here in just a moment."
"Thanks," Ginny said, doing her best not to think about anything at all. She concentrated instead on the light coming through the curtains, a bright morning sort of light. The last time she'd been awake it had been towards the middle of the afternoon . . . She was back to thinking about things again. It was better to let her vision go fuzzy and not concentrate on anything at all.
Ginny had no idea how long she spent not thinking before the door to the Hospital Wing swung open and Dumbledore strode in, Professor Flitwick following him.
"Good morning, Miss Weasley," said Dumbledore, walking up to her bedside. "I understand you have some questions for me, and I shall do my best to answer them, but would you mind if Professor Flitwick cast a diagnostic charm on you first? Madam Pomfrey said she was detecting some curious traces of magic on you, and she wanted Professor Flitwick to check them out for her as soon as you were awake."
"Er, of course, that'd be fine," Ginny said.
Dumbledore smiled at her. There was something a little too kind and understanding about his smile, but before she could work out what it was Flitwick had stepped up to her, touched his wand to her temple and said, "Revelus."
It didn't feel like anything, but when Flitwick drew his wand away there was a blueish bit of mist clinging to the end of it. Flitwick observed it with interest but it was Dumbledore who said, "I believe you're in possession of a rather remarkable necklace, Miss Weasley, are you not?"
Ginny did her best not to gape at him. That was what had been too understanding about his smile before: he'd known before Flitwick had even cast the charm that she'd had that necklace. How Dumbledore managed to be so aware of everything that went on in the school, Ginny didn't know. She nodded at him.
"The Ravenclaw necklace, Albus?" Flitwick said faintly. "Do you mean it's still around?"
"I believe so, Filius, yes," Dumbledore said. "Where is it right now, Miss Weasley?"
"In my dormitory, sir. At the bottom of my trunk."
"It's important that we have it here, I believe. Filius, if you don't mind . . .?"
"Of course," Flitwick said, and left the infirmary.
"You said you would answer my questions after Flitwick had cast the charm, sir," Ginny said. And she certainly had a million questions, but the more overarching of them was simple: what in the world had happened yesterday?
. . . If it had even been yesterday that it happened. Ginny realized she had no way of knowing how long she'd been unconscious.
Dumbledore gave her the same smile as before, the slightly off one. "That I did. I'm afraid I can't follow through with that until after we're finished with the necklace, however."
"Could you at least tell me what day it is, sir?"
"Tuesday, December sixteenth," Dumbledore said.
She'd only been out for a part of a day, then. Dumbledore didn't offer any more information than that, however. Luckily it wasn't long before Flitwick returned, pulling the necklace out of his pocket. "I taught about this necklace in the sixth year classes a few weeks ago," Flitwick said, dangling the chain between his fingers and staring at it wonderingly. He turned to Ginny. "You were there for one of those classes, weren't you?"
"How long did you wear it?" Flitwick asked.
"I found it at the start of term -- on the Hogwarts Express, that is," she said.
"Found it?" Flitwick interrupted.
"It fell out of my pocket," Ginny started to explain, but Dumbledore said, "We'll get back to this, Filius. Please continue as you were, Miss Weasley."
Ginny nodded. "That day you taught about the necklace, I took it off. So I was wearing it for . . . a few months, I guess. The thing I never figured out, though, was what it was doing to me."
"What it is doing to you," Flitwick said.
Ginny's blood turned to ice. "What do you mean?"
"Yours was the class that got interrupted by Miss Wilkinson setting herself on fire," Flitwick said. "I never finished that lesson properly, what with getting her to the infirmary. I'd just begun talking about the intermediary charms that led to the development of the Imperius Curse, had I not?
"The difference between Influence Charms and the Imperius Curse is that Influence Charms are tied to an object, whereas the Imperius Curse is cast directly on the subject. The intermediary charms, however, are hybrids: they are cast upon objects, but after the subject has been in contact with the object for a long enough period, he or she no longer needs to be in contact with it for the charm to work."
Ginny thought she was going to be sick. She tried not to think about what this meant, but it was too obvious to suppress: Draco had given her the necklace. The fact that she'd still been in love with him after she'd taken the necklace off hadn't been inarguable proof that he hadn't given it to her -- even after she'd begun to second-guess herself, she'd always known somewhere, deep-down, that he had, that it was true. It was just when she'd gone to Draco that night and she'd still been in love with him, it had made her doubt herself enough that she'd convinced herself that he hadn't given her the necklace, which was what she'd so badly wanted to believe . . .
"You wore the necklace for nearly three months, didn't you?" Flitwick said.
"Sounds about right." Her voice was scarcely louder than a whisper.
"With a charm that powerful, even a few weeks would have been enough," Flitwick said.
Dumbledore looked at her kindly, a little sadly. "It's about time we got you out from under that curse, don't you think?"
"I guess so, sir," Ginny said. She thought maybe she should have some sort of feeling about it, one way or the other, but she didn't really care. Draco had given her the necklace -- Malfoy, she remembered. Draco wouldn't have done something like that. Or maybe he would have. It had seemed so important to her, yesterday, to distinguish between the two of them, but she found now that she didn't much care which of them had done what. Was there really a difference between them at all?
"Filius," Dumbledore said, gesturing Flitwick forward.
Flitwick touched his wand to her temple. "This shouldn't hurt," he said, "but it might be a bit uncomfortable."
"Abscondus," said Flitwick.
An enormous pressure began to build inside her head. Flitwick was right: it didn't hurt, not exactly, but it didn't feel good, either, and she wished it would stop . . .
As suddenly as the pressure had come, it vanished. When she'd taken the necklace off, Ginny had expected there to be an immediate and obvious change in her feelings, and there hadn't been then -- but now there was. It was as if some mist that had been in her mind before had disappeared. There were two sections of her memory now, divided as clearly as if there'd been a wall between them: the memories of the past few months as she'd experienced them on one side of the wall, and on the other side of the wall another set of memories, the memories of the past few months as they'd actually been . . .
"We should do something about the necklace as well, I think," Dumbledore said.
"Yes, of course," said Flitwick. He cast a variation of the same charm on the necklace. It flashed brilliantly for a moment and then dimmed. There didn't seem to be anything too very different about it afterwards, but now Ginny was certain that it was nothing but a necklace, nothing she needed to fear. She'd be happy if she never saw it again, all the same.
"Is your head all right?" Flitwick asked.
Ginny realized she'd been rubbing her temple unconsciously. "Yes, of course."
"I think a Pensieve might be in order," he said.
Ginny gripped the chair tightly, but before she could think of how to protest or even what, exactly, it was she'd be protesting, Dumbledore said, "No, I don't think that will be necessary. Thank you for your help, Filius. I'll firecall if anything else arises."
It was clear from Dumbledore's tone that Flitwick was dismissed. Flitwick didn't argue. He bowed his way out of the door graciously.
After the door was closed, Dumbledore said, "I hope I wasn't being presumptuous in saying that you didn't need a Pensieve."
Ginny wasn't sure how to explain the overwhelming relief that had come over her when Dumbledore had turned down Flitwick's offer, so she settled for saying, "I wasn't exactly sure what I'd have been using it for, sir." Though now that she'd said that, she thought she had a pretty good guess.
"I suspect Professor Flitwick thought it might be helpful for you to remove one of the sets of memories in your head," Dumbledore said evenly. "There are some who would say that keeping two sets of memories in your head at once is dangerous. I don't necessarily disagree, but I do think that you should at the very least examine them before removing them, if indeed you choose to do that at all. You could examine them now, if you like. I think it would be beneficial if you did so before we discuss anything else."
Flitwick and Dumbledore had distracted her for a while, but now that Dumbledore had said that it reminded her of all the million questions in her head. Dumbledore must have seen something of that in her face, because he said, "I promise that I will do my best to answer any questions you might have, Miss Weasley. But please trust me that I wouldn't be holding back if I didn't think it was important that you do this first. You may find that you can answer some of your own questions first by doing so."
"All right," Ginny said.
"Do you need some privacy?"
"No, I don't think so," she said. And she didn't. She remembered some of what this was like from first year, and the rest of it came to her easily enough: retreating into herself, comparing the new memories of what she should have seen to what she actually remembered. The new memories were strange, but she'd known to expect that. It was like looking at someone else's memories entirely, and yet they were hers; they'd been in her head all along, in some hidden impartial place that she hadn't been able to access, that she hadn't even known about. In these memories that were hers and also weren't, it was so easy to see: she'd been right about the necklace. Draco had given it to her. Of course he had.
She didn't need to look at all of the memories, though; she didn't realty need convincing. She pulled herself out of her concentration and looked at Dumbledore.
"I think," Dumbledore said, "that it might help if you told me what you know."
And this, too, was familiar: she'd done this before, nearly five years ago. After Harry had brought her out of the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore had sat her down in his office and asked her, kindly, to tell him what she knew. She'd been terribly ashamed, then, of what she'd done, and of what Tom had done through her. Early on it had been hard to tell the difference. She'd known all at once that Tom was gone, but it had been a while before her memories had coalesced so that she could tell what was true and what she'd merely convinced herself was true. Telling Dumbledore about Tom, then, had been confusing and embarrassing, but after a while she'd fallen into the rhythm of it, and that had made it better.
Coming out from this curse, though, had been nothing like that, and this time she was able to find the rhythm immediately, was able to distinguish between the two sets of memories and glean from them what she needed to make her story complete, or as complete as she could. She told of the fight on the train -- in the new memory, she could even feel the moment Draco's hand slipped into her pocket and dropped the necklace there, the moment just before he slammed hard into her and everything went black. She told of Jeremy discovering the necklace, of the kiss on the train (it should have been embarrassing but it wasn't, not when she was caught up in the rhythm of telling her story), of the Opening Feast and Draco's eyes on her and how she'd felt ill, of the kiss in the bathroom . . . It all seemed so strange and distant, these things that had happened so long ago to someone who might as well have been another person.
She told of her relationship with Jeremy, of the progression with Draco that had led, inescapably, to the kiss in the North Tower, from which there could have been no going back . . . She told of everything she could remember, right up to the circle of Death Eaters under the tree, to the Dark Lord handing Draco the knife, and found that she could tell no more.
But Dumbledore didn't push her. He looked at her calmly and said, "I think I can take it from here. Voldemort has been using the Shrieking Shack as the gathering point for his power for quite a while now, months if not longer. It was right under our noses and we were too blind to see it. I suppose we'd all become complacent." He tried for a smile, but his face was too worried for it to work. "The explosions you felt were the waves of energy coming off the Shrieking Shack. Voldemort's power had grown so much that the house couldn't contain it any longer. He would have known that it would happen, and just when, it seems, and he was here for it. He was powerful enough that he was able to override the protections around the grounds, along with his followers . . ."
"But why did he want me dead?" Ginny said.
"He tried to kill you five years ago," Dumbledore said. "Or the part of him that was in the diary did. One thing I knew about Tom Riddle, when he was younger, was that he didn't like doing things partially. I imagine part of why he chose you was that he wanted to finish what he'd started."
Ginny was doing her best not to think about how close she'd come to dying. She was fairly sure she didn't want to know the answer, but she couldn't keep herself from asking, "And what's the other part?"
"Ah," Dumbledore said. "I don't suppose you know very much about how one goes about becoming a Death Eater." That really didn't require a response, and Dumbledore didn't wait for one. "As I understand it, the final step to becoming a Death Eater requires that one give up something that he loves in order to prove his loyalty to Voldemort. It seems that you were to have served that purpose for Mr. Malfoy."
Ginny blanched. "What stopped it from happening?"
Of course. Who else could it have been? Just because it had been a couple of years didn't mean Harry would have forgotten that rescuing people from evil was practically his job.
"Harry's always had some sensitivity to Voldemort's presence," Dumbledore continued, "and he had the good sense to realize that something big was going on when the castle started shuddering. He got outside of the castle and felt Voldemort nearby. He was able to disrupt what the Death Eaters were doing long enough for your brother and Miss Granger to catch up to him and help, and some of the other Gryffindor seventh years weren't far behind. The Death Eaters fled. You were quite lucky, Miss Weasley."
"Did Harry and the others stop any of the Death Eaters?" she asked, which was the closest she was going to come to asking Dumbledore if Draco had gone with them.
"All of them fled," Dumbledore said, and she suspected that he knew exactly what she wasn't saying.
Ginny nodded. She wondered how she'd gotten herself back into the pattern of falling under an evil influence and being rescued by Harry Potter. It was really time to try something new, wasn't it?
"Professor Dumbledore," she said, wondering why she felt the need to tell him this, "Dr -- Malfoy didn't kill me right when the Dark Lord said to. He hesitated."
"You don't think he knew ahead of time that the Dark Lord was going to ask him to kill me, do you?"
"I doubt very much that candidates to become Death Eaters are told ahead of time what their initiation will entail."
"Do you think," Ginny began, and paused. "Do you think that Draco would have followed through with it if Harry hadn't arrived?"
Dumbledore was silent for a moment. "I don't think that young Mr. Malfoy is a killer," he said finally.
Ginny didn't know if he really meant it or if he was just saying it to make her feel better. It didn't really matter: it was what she needed to believe. Because there was something she hadn't told Dumbledore. Flitwick's removal of the curse had worked; she could easily tell the difference between the memories she remembered living through and the memories that Flitwick's removal of the curse had given her. She could look at the set of memories she'd lived through and see exactly how she'd fallen in love with Draco, how the progression of events had gone . . .
But when she looked at those same events in the set of memories she'd just acquired, the set of memories unaffected by the curse, she could see that even without the curse, she would have fallen in love with Draco. Had fallen in love with Draco. The curse was gone, but the curse needn't have been there in the first place: the only real purpose the curse had served was to get her around Draco, to convince her that she needed to be around him -- but after a while the curse needn't have been there even for that. She would have gone to him anyway. The curse had been lifted, but in spite of it all, she was still in love with Draco Malfoy.
Something occurred to her. "Professor Dumbledore," she said, "what was the point of him giving me the necklace in the first place?"
Dumbledore's brow crinkled in thought. "The Death Eater initiation calls for you to give up something you love," he said finally. "I imagine it might be more difficult to do so if that something loves you in return."
Ginny puzzled that one over for a minute. And then it clicked. The only thing in her entire experience with Draco that she hadn't been able to reconcile after looking at the second set of memories was that first evening, that night in the Great Hall when she'd looked at Draco and become sick -- when he'd followed her into the bathroom and kissed her. Every other time they'd kissed, right up until the moment she'd admitted to herself that she wanted him, it had been some sort of manipulation, designed by one of them to mess with the other, but there had been none of that in that first kiss. He had kissed her because he wanted her, nothing more. At the time she hadn't realized what that meant, hadn't had any idea, but now it was clear: Draco must have wanted her before he'd ever given her the necklace, before he'd ever been told to do whatever it was he'd been told to do. Draco had wanted her before all that.
The incident in the bathroom had been the only time he'd slipped up, and she'd been too ill to notice it at the time, but in retrospect she saw that it was true: Draco had wanted her all along. She knew what the attack on Hogwarts and her near miss with death meant: there was a war on now, finally, inevitably. There was a war, and Draco's actions, his escape with the Death Eaters, meant that he'd ended up on the opposite side of it from her. But that one simple fact, that Draco had wanted her from the start, gave her the hope that maybe one day, after all this was over, he would find her again.