Author's Note: Well well well, here we are again. Is anyone still around? Does anyone still care about this story? I mean, I still do, and I intend on finishing it. I'm just hoping some of you former loyal readers will forgive my absence and the long delays in this story gaining traction. It is now, and I can say that with absolute certainty. So, please give this struggling writer another chance and peep this new chapter. It gets really good from here, I promise. So, without further delay, Read, Review, & Enjoy! Also, I don't own anything in this story except the plot and the original characters.
Harry and Cho walked down the plank from the ship, followed by the Burning Lotus students. Mad-Eye was waiting for them on the dock.
"Was the trip productive?" Mad-Eye asked.
Harry nodded and handed over the parchment to Mad-Eye. "Grandmaster Chang has also sent some of his best students to aid us in the battle," he said, "I trust we have accommodations for them?"
"We'll find someplace for them," Mad-Eye said.
Mad-Eye led Harry, Cho, and the others back to the carriage and back to Hogwarts. "Are we the first to return?" Cho asked.
"Ginny Weasley arrived a few days ago," Mad-Eye said, "There's a situation concerning Malfoy."
When the carriage arrived at Hogwarts, McGonagall, Lupin, and Sirius were waiting for them. Harry exited the carriage and greeted them.
"Do we have Burning Lotus' support?" McGonagall asked.
"We do," Harry replied, "And a contingent of students from the dojo to assist us."
"We were told there was a situation with Draco," Cho said.
"It's complicated," Sirius said, "Let's discuss it inside."
McGonagall led everyone inside the school. Along the way, Sirius explained to Harry and Cho about Draco's actions. As they neared McGonagall's office, Lupin detoured with the Burning Lotus students to find them suitable housing.
"Is Ginny okay?" Harry asked.
"She's fine," Sirius replied, "She is obviously shaken and upset at what Draco did, but is otherwise okay."
"Where is she?" Cho asked.
"I'm not sure," Sirius replied, "I imagine she's around here somewhere. Perhaps in the Gryffindor common room."
"Harry, I'm going to find her and make sure she's alright," Cho said.
Harry nodded as Cho turned and walked off, leaving Harry with Mad-Eye, Sirius, and McGonagall. They reached McGonagall's office and walked inside. Harry made a beeline for the portrait of Dumbledore.
"I see you've returned from Burning Lotus," Dumbledore's portrait said, "Any luck?"
"More than that, professor," Harry said, "We brought help back with us."
"Splendid," Dumbledore's portrait remarked.
Cho was walking through the halls towards the Gryffindor common room when she passed Neville. "Cho, you're back," Neville said.
"Hello, Neville," Cho said, "Have trouble with Herbology class while I was gone?"
"Not too much," Neville said, "Professor Tonks isn't very apt at Herbology, but between her and me, we make due. Be a right sight better once you're back in the post, though."
"Neville, I'm looking for Ginny," Cho said, "Do you happen to know where she is?"
"She spends most her days in the Room of Requirement," Neville said, "I expect you'd have a better chance finding her there than anywhere else."
"Thanks, Neville," Cho said as she turned to keep walking, "I'll see you in class."
Cho made her way to the Room of Requirement and stepped inside only to be hit with a strong gust of wind. In the middle of the room was Ginny. Her hair was white and she was wearing the Cloak of the Four Winds. Cho slowly moved against the wind to the center, getting pelted with stronger and stronger gusts of wind. As she neared Ginny, the winds calmed. It was like being in the eye of a storm.
"Ginny," Cho said, "I wanted to talk to you."
Ginny turned to face Cho. Her eyes were bright white. "Que voulez-vous?" she said, "Vous ne voyez pas que je suis occupé?"
"Ginny, I can't understand what you're saying," Cho said.
Ginny's face transformed into a scowl as a strong gust of wind blew at Cho, pushing her back. "Foutez le camp d'ici, nom de Dieu!" Ginny shouted "Laissez-moi tranquille!"
Cho lost her footing and flew backwards, nearly hitting the wall behind her. With a gasp, Ginny snapped out of it, her white hair turning back to red and all the wind in the room dissipating. Ginny threw off the cloak and rushed to Cho.
"Cho, I'm so sorry," Ginny said.
"It's alright," Cho said, "Nothing feels broken."
"I've just been angry," Ginny said.
"I heard about what happened," Cho said.
"I've been coming here to work out my anger," Ginny said, "If Draco ever returns, I want to give him a chance to explain himself without blowing him away."
"I can't even begin to understand how you feel," Cho said, "But, I thought maybe you'd like to talk about it."
"I just can't understand why he did it!" Ginny exclaimed, "He used a fucking unforgivable on me!"
"Ginny calm down," Cho said.
"I can't calm down!" Ginny shouted, "Every time I think about it, it makes my blood boil!"
The winds were starting to pick up again. Cho braced herself as Ginny levitated off the ground, her hair turning white once more.
"Ginny, please calm down," Cho begged, "Before you blow the door off the room."
Ginny calmed herself and fell to her knees sobbing. "I still love him!" she shouted, "Damn me to hell, I still love the goddamn sonofabitch!"
Cho knelt next to Ginny, placing an arm around her as she sobbed.
Jason and Hermione marched through the halls of Dragonfire. They walked into Abernathy's office to find both Abernathy and Marius waiting for them. The Helm of the Seven Seas was sitting on his desk.
"How was Savannah?" Marius asked, "Did you settle your business?"
"In more ways than one," Jason said, "There's little time to waste. We need those students and the Helm of the Seven Seas."
"I don't grant this to you lightly," Abernathy said, "But the students are waiting in the courtyard, the Helm is yours, and Professor Moody will also be accompanying you."
"Are you ready to leave?" Jason asked.
"By your leave, Jason," Marius said.
Hermione picked up the helmet when she was suddenly overwhelmed. She fell to the floor, her hands still gripping the helmet. Jason rushed to Hermione's side, cradling her in his arms as she suffered from her own nightmare.
Hermione was running through a dark forest. She could sense someone chasing after her. She stumbled into a clearing and quickly searched for a way out. She called for help, but it seemed as if there was nobody to answer her cry. Suddenly, she saw three shadows moving towards her. The three figures stepped into the light to reveal themselves to be Jason, Harry, and Viktor. They moved in closer to Hermione and began circling her, moving fast and faster until they were nothing more than a blur, imprisoning Hermione in a cyclone of lovers. She then clutched her chest as she felt her heart suddenly feel as if it were weighed down by something heavy. She then gripped her stomach and a bulge began forming in her lower abdomen and pelvis. She looked as though she were pregnant and began doubling over from crippling pain, noticing too late a blade strike from one of her lovers.
Hermione awoke shrieking, pushing away from Jason in fear. Jason remained kneeling on the floor, staring at Hermione confused and concerned. Hermione's eyes darted around the room, realizing that she was no longer in her vision. She instinctively reached into her bag and removed her orb. It glowed in her hand as it flashed its message.
"At the time of the Red Dawn, she who controls the element of water shall find three whom her heart desires. One shall be chosen for fire, one for sire, and one for ire. Rushing waters choose hasty and only the knowledge of the flame can light the way."
The orb's light faded as Hermione played the message again and again in her mind. "Fire, sire, and ire?" she thought, "What could that possibly mean?"
"Hermione, are you alright?" Jason asked.
"Yes," Hermione answered, "Yes, I'm fine."
"You had me worried," Jason said, helping Hermione to her feet, "What happened?"
"I had my vision," Hermione said, "I know what my task is. We must make haste back to Hogwarts."
"Marius, if you will summon the students," Abernathy said.
Marius nodded and left the room. Abernathy turned to his fireplace, grabbing a handful of ash and throwing it in, creating a burst of green flame.
"I've spoken with Hogwarts and we created a temporary floo network," he said, "It will take you to your headmistress. Once you're all there, the network will be severed to avoid any possible infiltration."
Jason nodded and shook Abernathy's hand. "We won't fail," Jason said.
"I have faith," Abernathy responded.
Marius walked back into the room, followed by ten students, among them were Paul Heitman, Louie Marcial, and Thomas Daijogo. "You guys sure you want to do this?" Jason asked.
"A trip to England to kick butt and meet girls?" Paul asked, "We'd be fools not to."
"This isn't some vacation," Jason said, "This is serious. War is coming and you'll be stuck in it."
"We understand the ramifications," Thomas said, "We're ready to help."
Jason nodded. "Then let's depart," he said.
Jason stepped into the floo first, followed by Hermione. In a flash of green fire, Jason found himself in McGonagall's office. Mad-Eye, Remus, and Sirius were standing beside her desk.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Saint," McGonagall said, "Ms. Granger."
"Hello, professor," Hermione said, handing her their part of the Hogwarts Accord, "We brought some reinforcements."
"Seems to be the going trend," McGonagall replied, "I'm sure Professor Moody can find them living arrangements."
Mad-Eye grunted. "This way," he said.
"Need some help?" Marius asked. Mad-Eye turned and nodded, glad to see his brother again. Marius, Mad-Eye, and the Dragonfire students filed out of McGonagall's office.
"So, what did we miss?" Jason asked.
"Ron and Alice haven't returned yet," Remus said, "Though we're expecting them any day now. Harry and Cho returned with reinforcements from Burning Lotus."
"And what about Draco and Ginny?" Hermione asked.
"Well," Sirius began, "There was an incident. Draco and Ginny were ambushed at Durmstrang. Backed into a corner, Draco was left with no alternative and used an unforgivable on Ginny."
"HE DID WHAT?!" a voice boomed.
Everyone turned to see Ron and Alice. Ron's face was a deep shade of red. "Draco did what?!" Ron shouted again.
"Draco used the Imperius Curse in order to get Ginny to safety," Sirius said.
"Where is he?!" Ron asked, his eyes beginning to glow.
"Ron, calm down," Alice, "You're going to catch fire."
"I will not calm down!" Ron bellowed, sparks beginning to pop on his hair, "That bastard used an unforgivable on my sister! Now where is he?!"
"He's in Hogsmeade," Sirius replied, "He's reluctant to return to Hogwarts."
Ron turned towards the door when he felt himself being held in place. Jason's hand was extended, his telekinesis cementing Ron's feet in place.
"Let me go, Jason," Ron growled.
"You are in no condition to talk to Draco," Jason said.
"He used an unforgivable on my sister," Ron said, his hair beginning to ignite, "On. My. Sister!"
"Yes, he used the Imperius," Jason said, "And did it to get her to safety. Or did you miss that part?"
"Let. Me. Go," Ron said, the flames beginning to spread to the rest of him, "Now."
"Not till you cool off," Jason said.
Ron balled up his fist, engulfing it in flames as he glared at Jason. "Let me go, Jason," Ron said, "Before I make you."
"Hermione," Jason said. Hermione, having already donned the Helm of the Seven Seas, stepped in front of Jason. Her skin shimmered, half-translucent as her eyes shone a bright blue.
"Hoc solum monitionem, Hermione," Ron said, the flames completely consuming him.
"On ne dolzhen byt' takim obrazom, Ron," Hermione replied, standing defiant.
Ron, in a fit a frustration, released a ball of fire at Jason. Hermione, almost out of reflex, stretched out a hand and let loose several jets of water from her fingertips. The water extinguished the fireball and then doused Ron, putting out the flames. Embarrassed and soaked, Ron shoved Alice aside and stormed out. Hermione relaxed, allowing her water form to recede into the helm.
"Magnificent display, Ms. Granger," McGonagall said, "Of both the Helm's abilities as well as your linguistics."
Jason kissed Hermione on the cheek and proceeded towards the door. "I'll be back," he said.
"Where are you going?" Hermione asked.
"To go see Draco in Hogsmeade," Jason replied, "It's imperative that we bring him back and get him and Ginny to reconcile."
"I already tried," Sirius said, "He's refusing to return."
"All due respect, Sirius," Jason began, "But Draco is fighting some inner demons. A fight I know all too well. I can talk to him better than you can."
Having said that, Jason quickly left McGonagall's office. Sirius's face held a brief look of perplexity. "Should I be offended by that?" he asked, prompting a snicker from Remus.
"Professor Lupin," Alice began, walking towards Remus, "I need to speak to you."
"Certainly," Remus said, "About what?"
"I don't feel comfortable speaking about it here," Alice said, "Could we please speak in private?"
"Alice," Remus began, "I'm sure whatever it is, you ought to be able—"
"Please, professor," Alice said, cutting Remus off, "Nobody but you will be able to understand." Remus stood for a moment, contemplating, before finally nodding and exiting the room with Alice.
"And you, Ms. Granger?" McGonagall asked, "Isn't there somewhere you plan on going?"
"As a matter of fact, there is," Hermione answered, heading for the door, "I'm going to sleep."
Jason walked through the halls of Hogwarts, breathing in its familiar scent. He was glad to be back. But, he knew there would be time for that later. Draco was in Hogsmeade and needed to be dealt with.
"Jason!" a voice shouted. Jason turned around to see Neville making his way through the crowd of students towards him. "Welcome back," Neville said.
"Thanks, Neville," Jason replied.
"Now that your back," Neville began, "I was wondering if we could talk about what happened just before you—"
"Neville," Jason said, cutting Neville off, "I owe you much in the way of explanations and I promise you we will talk soon. But right now, I need to get to Hogsmeade."
Having said that, Jason turned and continued walking towards the main entrance. "Jason wait," Neville said, "What's in Hogsmeade?"
"The future of all of us, Neville," Jason said, disappearing from Neville's sight, "You. Me. Everyone. All of this."
Neville was left, standing in a crowded hall, completely and utterly confused.
Harry was sitting on a bench in the courtyard. His mind was swimming with a thousand thoughts.
"Hello Harry," a voice softly called out. Harry looked up and saw Luna sitting down beside him.
"Hello, Luna," Harry said.
"How was your trip?" Luna asked.
"It was, well, different," Harry said, "I got some answers to my questions, but not all of them."
"I know how you feel," Luna said, "We all have questions to answer."
"What questions do you have?" Harry asked.
"If Michael truly loves me," Luna said, "If maybe there is someone else out there for me. Also, I wonder if this school is infested with nargles."
"It's funny you should mention those questions," Harry said, "Because just the other day…" Harry's words trailed off as he spotted Ron storming through the halls, soaking wet and looking very upset.
"Yes, Harry?" Luna asked.
"Uh, sorry Luna," Harry said, getting to his feet, "Have to finish this another time."
Harry walked across the courtyard, making a beeline for Ron. By now he'd no doubt heard of what happened between Ginny and Draco and Harry wanted to make sure Ron didn't do anything rash.
"Ron, you're back," Harry said, walking up to his friend, "What happened to you?"
"What happened?" Ron asked, irritated, "What happened? Hermione bloody happened! Saw fit to soak my clothes!"
"Hermione's back?" Harry asked, "Where is she?"
"How the hell should I know?" Ron asked, "I left after she embarrassed me."
"That was my next question," Harry said, "You say she soaked you. How?"
"Her bloody helmet that she came back with," Ron answered.
"The Helm of the Seven Seas?" Harry asked, "She found it?"
"Apparently," Ron said as he started wringing out his wet robe.
"Why did she douse you?" Harry asked.
"Because they're all defending that bastard, Malfoy!" Ron snapped.
"I take it you heard about what happened," Harry remarked.
"You're damn right I did," Ron said, "And worse, he's hiding like a coward in Hogsmeade. I tried to go there and she and Jason both stopped me."
"Ron, you have to see it from their point of view," Harry said, "Yes, Draco used an unforgivable on Ginny, but he did it to save her life."
"So you're defending him too?" Ron asked.
"I'm not defending anyone," Harry said, "I'm just saying that, before you go volcanic, maybe talk to Ginny and see how she feels."
"I can tell you exactly how I feel," Ginny said, walking into view with Cho.
"Ginny," Ron said, embracing his sister, "Thank Merlin you're alright."
"Why are you all wet, Ron?" Ginny asked.
"Long story," Ron replied, "How are you feeling?"
"I'm angry," Ginny said, "After all, Draco used an unforgivable and should he return, he might be facing time in Azkaban for it."
"He deserves worse," Ron said.
"But, then there's the other part of me that still loves him," Ginny remarked.
"Are you bloody mental?" Ron asked, "How can you still love him after what he did. And is nobody going to address the elephant in the room in all of this?"
"And what's that, Ron?" Cho asked.
"The story goes that Draco used the Imperius Curse to order Ginny to get to safety after they were ambushed at Durmstrang, am I right?" Ron asked.
"Yes, that's what happened," Ginny replied.
"And then Draco suddenly turns up at Hogsmeade, which means one of two things." Ron began, "Either he managed to escape capture and elude the Death Eaters all the way back here or…"
"Or what?" Harry asked.
Ron sighed heavily and sat down. He truthfully didn't want to believe what he was about to say next. "Or what, Ron?" Ginny asked.
"Or else," Ron continued, "Draco was sent here by the Death Eaters, which means Draco has switched sides."
A/N: Well, there's chapter 31. Hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to leave a review. Gonna have Chapter 32 up by next week (knock on wood)