I thought I would post this chapter today, since I\'m planning on writing another one this weekend.
Thank you to those of you that have read this and reviewed. I appreciate you all taking the time.
All canon characters belong to JKR.
Thanks to June for all of her help.
Chapter 14 ‚Ä“ The Conduit
Lucius arrived at number twelve, Grimmauld Place. He had with him a box of chocolates and some roses so red they seemed black in color. As he stepped through the door, he noticed something odd: the house was in exactly the same state they‚Äôd left it in, the morning when he and Ginny took child-size Hermione and child-size Severus to Hogwarts. Severus and Hermione had left several books on the table, which were still there. Ginny‚Äôs unfinished knitted scarf also lay on one of the chairs.
If Ginny were there, she would have surely put those things in their place. Lucius noticed during the time he spent in the house that the young woman was constantly fussing about; making sure nothing was out of place.
‚ÄúGinny!‚ÄĚ he called out. As Lucius stepped further into the house he kept calling her name. There was never any answer, though. Ginny wasn‚Äôt there. He quickly grew nervous. If Ginny told her father she was coming here, then here she should be. Arthur made it a point to always tell him what a responsible and good daughter he had. How she would always let them know where she was going. These were dangerous times, and being a young single witch it was always a good idea to let someone know exactly were you were and what you were doing. Something just wasn‚Äôt right.
He grabbed some powder from the hearth and threw it in. He called out to Severus, hoping that if Hermione was still there, she might know where her friend was.
‚ÄúSeverus! Severus, I need to speak with you!‚ÄĚ he yelled desperately. He heard some shuffling and muffled voices, and then saw his friend‚Äôs face.
‚ÄúLucius? What on earth is wrong?‚ÄĚ asked Severus.
‚ÄúIs Ginny there?‚ÄĚ Lucius was almost frantic.
Hermione, who was coming out of the bedroom and tying her robe, knelt down behind Severus, looking over his shoulder.
‚ÄúLucius, Ginny went straight to the Burrow after you were Summoned. Are you at home?‚ÄĚ asked Severus.
‚ÄúNo, I took a nap when I got home and only just woke up a short while ago. I called for her at the Burrow and Arthur said she was here at Grimmauld Place.‚ÄĚ Lucius ran his hands through his hair. ‚ÄúHermione, do you know where she might be?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI‚Äôm sorry, no. I doubt she would have gone anywhere else if she told Arthur she was going to headquarters,‚ÄĚ answered Hermione.
‚ÄúLet me go call Arthur from the bedroom. Maybe she forgot something and went back.‚ÄĚ Hermione stood and rushed to the bedroom.
‚ÄúLucius, perhaps she decided to make another stop. She could be visiting one of her other friends.‚ÄĚ Severus hoped to calm his friend down, but he too was now worried.
Lucius relaxed a bit. It was true; there was no reason why Ginny couldn‚Äôt be with another one of her friends.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre probably right. There‚Äôs no reason to jump to conc‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ but before he could finish, Hermione came running back into the room.
‚ÄúLucius, get to the Burrow. Severus, we need to go. Arthur went outside and found Ginny‚Äôs cloak and wand on the ground,‚ÄĚ Hermione said nervously.
‚ÄúNo!‚ÄĚ Lucius yelled.
‚ÄúGo, Lucius. Hermione and I will meet you there.‚ÄĚ
Lucius faded out from the Floo.
Severus and Hermione got dressed and immediately went to Albus‚Äô office. There they found the old wizard talking to Minerva, who had finally recovered from her flu. The witch looked at the Potions professor and her former student with worry. It should have been odd to see them together, but Albus had been filling her in on what happened while she was ill. The Headmaster also told her that Hermione stayed overnight, and that Severus would most probably be having a permanent guest from now on.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve heard about Miss Weasley, have you not?‚ÄĚ asked Minerva as she wrung her hands.
‚ÄúYes, Lucius called us. He went to headquarters to look for her and she wasn‚Äôt there, so he called us to see if she was here. Arthur told us about finding her things on the ground outside,‚ÄĚ answered Hermione.
The four then decided to Apparate to the Burrow.
As soon as they arrived at the Weasley home, they noticed Tonks and Remus were already walking around the grounds. Tonks was there unofficially. Arthur didn‚Äôt want anyone at the Ministry knowing anything was wrong just yet. One just never knew who was working for Voldemort and he preferred to keep his and his family‚Äôs business, his own for the time being. Remus was there due to his knowledge of the Dark Arts. Lucius and Remus were talking with Arthur when Severus walked up to them.
‚ÄúHave you been able to get a trace?‚ÄĚ asked Severus as Hermione, Minerva and Albus followed him. While they weren‚Äôt best buddies, Severus and Remus had developed a sort of truce during the period in which he was suspected of killing the Headmaster. It was Remus who finally convinced the rest of the Order that Severus was innocent and they all had to support him.
Remus shook his head. ‚ÄúNothing. Whoever took her knew what they were doing.‚ÄĚ
Lucius and Severus felt their Mark burning. Severus was only believed to be dead, therefore his Mark still burned when Voldemort summoned all of his Death Eaters.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs calling everyone,‚ÄĚ said Severus as he looked at the group, then at a very pale Lucius. He walked to his friend and placed a supporting hand on his shoulder. ‚ÄúHermione and I will go back to my rooms and begin testing what we have.‚ÄĚ
Lucius nodded. Arthur was standing behind him with a crying Molly in his arms.
‚ÄúPlease, Lucius, if he has her, if he‚Äôs‚Ä¶done something to her, don‚Äôt let her suffer,‚ÄĚ Arthur said brokenly as he held his wife closer.
‚ÄúI have plans for your daughter, Arthur. I assure you, I will not allow anything to happen to her.‚ÄĚ Lucius then allowed himself to be enveloped by the black whirl of smoke that would take him to the Dark Lord.
Albus and Minerva moved everyone inside. Severus and Hermione Apparated back to Hogwarts and began testing the potion they believed would allow them to finish off Voldemort. Albus then contacted Harry and Ron. They all needed to make preparations for what might be the final fight against the former Tom Riddle.
When Lucius finally emerged from the dark haze that carried him to his destination, he noticed the huge crowd of Death Eaters surrounding a black altar. As he made his way to the front, an image of something began to emerge on the altar. He didn‚Äôt see it until he got closer, but there was a body on the large slab.
Voldemort looked up and immediately saw him.
‚ÄúLucius, come and see my prize,‚ÄĚ said the serpent-faced wizard with glee.
Lucius climbed up the short steps and saw Ginny, lying on the altar in a white dress. Her red hair cascaded off the side of the pillow her head rested on.
‚ÄúIsn‚Äôt she lovely? You do remember her, don‚Äôt you?‚ÄĚ
Lucius willed himself to stay alert. He carefully leaned against his walking cane. He felt close to fainting, and he had to swallow hard as he felt the bile rising from his stomach.
‚ÄúYes, my lord, I remember her.‚ÄĚ Lucius was thankful that she at least seemed to be unharmed.
‚ÄúShe has power yet untapped, Lucius.‚ÄĚ Voldemort caressed Ginny‚Äôs hair. ‚ÄúThis is my conduit. I will take all that she has inside of her and become more powerful than even that fool Merlin.‚ÄĚ He then looked at Lucius. ‚ÄúYou are my most trusted Death Eater, Lucius. There is something that you must do for me.‚ÄĚ
Lucius steeled himself.
‚ÄúYes, my lord. Anything you wish, and I shall endeavor to do it for you.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúEven now I am feeling her power, but it is too slow in coming. I need for her magic to manifest itself fully, during a moment when she is not able to control it. Tomorrow you shall take her under the waning moon. Upon her climax, her power will be at its fullest and, since she is under a sleeping spell, it will be uncontrolled.‚ÄĚ
All Lucius could do was nod. He feared if he spoke it would give away the turbulent emotions now swirling inside of him like a typhoon. He stared down at Ginny and blinked back the tears forming in his gray eyes.
‚ÄúYou should feel honored, Lucius. Tomorrow will be a great day indeed.‚ÄĚ Voldemort turned away and walked down the platform. He spoke to the hundreds of Death Eaters in the crowd.
Lucius didn‚Äôt hear any of what was said. It was as though someone had thrown a wet blanket over him. He could neither move nor hear anything. He merely stared at Ginny.
‚ÄėIt can‚Äôt end like this for us, Ginny. I won‚Äôt allow it. I‚Äôve only just begun to live again,‚Äô thought Lucius. As he turned to leave, he came face-to-face with Voldemort.
‚ÄúDo not disappoint me, Lucius. I shall be very put out if you cannot perform your duty for me tomorrow evening.‚ÄĚ Lucius bowed his head and knelt down. ‚ÄúConsider this your incentive. Crucio!‚ÄĚ
Lucius began to convulse as every nerve in his body felt like it was on fire.
When he was finished hexing Lucius, Voldemort kicked him down the steps and warded the area around the altar. He then left Lucius on the ground and walked back to his bedroom.
Crawling away from the altar, his teeth grinding as the tremors subsided, Lucius didn‚Äôt dare look back. He knew that if he did, then he would do something foolish. And now was not the time to be foolish.
Severus and Hermione had been at Hogwarts for over two hours. After testing the potion on several different species of bugs, rodents and birds, they concluded that the their hard work paid off. Voldemort‚Äôs magic would diminish as his body basically devolved its cell structure. As the pair walked out into the living area, they were startled by a loud banging on the door.
‚ÄúProfessor! Professor, come quickly!‚ÄĚ yelled Filch from the other side.
Severus opened the door quickly.
‚ÄúFilch, what the bloody hell is it?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs Mr. Malfoy. He‚Äôs at the gates, he can barely stand.‚ÄĚ Filch turned and walked back towards the dungeon entrance.
‚ÄúHermione, stay here. If it‚Äôs really Lucius, I‚Äôll bring him back.‚ÄĚ Severus turned and started running after Filch.
Hermione stood at the door looking after him.
‚ÄúIf it‚Äôs really Lucius? Oh, no,‚ÄĚ She realized suddenly what Severus meant by his words. Lucius had been almost frantic when he called them earlier. She could tell he was afraid for Ginny back at the Burrow. Hermione wondered if perhaps Lucius might have unintentionally let his mask down. If that was the case then Lucius was most probably dead and the man at the gates was an imposter.
Severus approached the fallen figure of his friend cautiously. He told Filch to go back to his rooms and that he would take care of the blond wizard. Severus noticed the man begin to stir and moan. As he finally got close enough to move him, Severus knelt down and looked at the man‚Äôs face closely. He looked like Lucius, but now he had to make sure. ‚ÄėNow the test‚Äô he thought.
Lucius focused as he tried to find his voice. When Severus recovered from his near death experience at the hands of Voldemort, the burden of spying was left to Lucius alone. They both decided that if it ever came to a situation like the one Lucius was in now, it was imperative for the Order to know it was really him. Lucius allowed Severus to plant something in his mind that could only be triggered by what his friend recited. No amount of Legilimency would ever find it, making it the surest way of making sure this was really Lucius.
‚ÄúWhen Caesar crossed the Rubicon against the orders of the Senate, he knew that he must either conquer or die.‚ÄĚ Severus looked at the visibly shaking man, whose eyes seemed dazed.
Lucius sadly looked at Severus and a tear rolled down his cheek.
‚ÄúIn peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.‚ÄĚ
Severus breathed a sigh of relief and helped Lucius stand. He took his friend to his rooms in the dungeon and gave him a potion for the aftereffects of the Cruciatus Curse. Hermione contacted the rest of the Order, as Severus and Lucius sat and began to formulate a plan.
I hope you all enjoyed this chapter.
Lucius‚Äô quote comes from Herodotus the Greek historian of the 5th century BC.
Severus‚Äô quote is something I saw several years ago when looking up the exact meaning of Rubicon for something I was writing at the time.
Sometimes the best things come in small packages by ancientgir