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Hi! My name is dream_catcher and I write this fic! It’s called “Jade” and it’s about this girl…

Ok… you’re probably wondering what I’m doing. Well, I’ve been away from this fic so long I figured some introductions were necessary. Yeah, about that whole prolonged absence thing… sorry. You see, it’s like this… er… Ok, I’m not going to lie; I was putting off this chapter. There’s a lot of thinking involved for Jade and I wasn’t sure how good I was going to be at writing that. That still remains for you to decide, but at least the chapter is done.

It has been so long that I feel I should advise you to reread at least the preceding chapter, just to get back in the swing of things. Obviously you don’t have to, but it might help. Anyway, here it is: the 17th chapter.

Disclaimer: There once was a girl named Lane (my real name.)
If you think she owns this you’re insane.
This chapter is new.
It’s here to please you.
And yes, I know this poem is lame.

The next thing Jade knew someone was shaking her awake. The first thing that registered was she was exceedingly cold and her whole body ached. She was curled in a ball, tucked uncomfortably behind a large, stone statue. Jade opened her eyes to a pair of brown eyes staring back at her. She stifled a shriek of surprise.

“I’m sorry to wake you, Jade, but Madam Pince will come to open the library any minute and we need to talk.”

Jade tried to process what the girl was saying, but it was difficult due to the fact that she was still trying to figure out who the girl was. She had bright red hair, large brown eyes, and liberal freckles. Jade was almost certain she had never met the girl, but something was vaguely familiar all the same. “I’m sorry, but do I know you?” Jade asked as politely as she could manage under the circumstances.

The girl offered Jade a hand up, which she took, and replied, “No, of course not. I’m Ginny Weasley. I have something I need to tell you– get back!” Ginny pushed Jade behind the statue again, pressing close so they wouldn’t be seen. Footsteps passed the statue and halted before the library door. There was a jangling of keys and the door opened. “Madam Pince,” Ginny hissed quietly.

The door closed and Ginny stepped away so Jade could breathe again. “Come on,” Ginny said. “Now that she’s here we can talk in the library, but she would have been suspicious if she found us here before her.” She grabbed Jade’s arm and headed into the library. Jade was so stunned she allowed Ginny to tow her along. They passed Madam Pince’s desk, Ginny giving a brief nod in greeting to the librarian, and continued to a back corner of the room. There they found several large, comfy-looking armchairs.

Ginny released Jade’s arm and sank into a chair. Jade, after a moment’s hesitation, followed suit. “Now,” Ginny murmured quietly, “I know this probably isn’t any of my business, but I felt I had to tell you.”

“I’m sorry,” interrupted Jade, “but I’m still not quite sure who you are. Are you related to Ron? How do you know me? And how did you find me?”

Ginny gave a wry grin. “Yes, I’m related to Ron. I’m his younger sister, but only by a year. He, Harry, and Hermione have been talking about you for the past few days.”

“How did you find me?” Jade repeated.

Ginny flushed a dull pink, stared down at her chair, and mumbled something about borrowing a map. Jade didn’t know what this meant, but decided to let it go. “Why do you want to talk to me?”

“I have some…information that you should know. Yesterday I overhead Ron and Harry talking and, as much as I agree with their sentiments, I think you deserve to know the truth.” Jade waited for Ginny to come to the point. Ginny took a deep breath and began, “Keep in mind I hate Malfoy and think he’s the meanest git on the planet, but whatever happened last night is not all his fault.”

“How did you know about that?!” Jade gasped in surprise.

Again Ginny flushed, but she plowed on, “Yesterday I overheard Harry, Ron, and Hermione talking in the common room. They were all really worried about you; they were afraid you were going to get in trouble for what you were planning, but also that you were going to get hurt trusting Malfoy. They were trying to come up with some way to stop it from happening, but their warnings hadn’t helped.

“Hermione kept suggesting they should stay out of it, but then Ron would remind her about ‘what they know’ and how ‘he could be next.’ I’m sure Ron was referring to Malfoy. Anyway, eventually Hermione got really upset at Ron and left the room.”

Jade interrupted, “What do they know? What could Draco be next for?”

Ginny absently twisted a thread from her chair around one finger and replied without looking up, “Malfoy’s dad’s in Azkaban, the wizard prison. Not many people know; it was kept very quiet. He was arrested over the summer with a group of known Death Eaters. If people knew, the Malfoy family would be disgraced and everyone would assume Malfoy is the next Death Eater in line.”

“If no one knows, then how do you, Ron, Hermione, and Harry know about it?” Jade asked quietly.

“We spent the summer with a lot of witches and wizards who are working against the Dark Arts,” Ginny answered, just as softly. “They know almost everything that goes on, so we heard about it, too. I shouldn’t even be telling you this much. We were sworn to secrecy, but … you’re in this now, too.

“Anyway, after Hermione left, Ron and Harry decided to try to do something about it without her. They decided to…they told Malfoy if he didn’t back out of his deal with you, they would let it slip to the school about his dad. His reputation would be ruined and you would know what kind of person he really is.”

Jade stared down at her hands in her lap. They were clenched so tightly her knuckles were white. She felt surprisingly calm, as though last night had spent her last drop of dramatic emotion and all that was left was blankness. She frowned a little. She had understood Ginny – she was sure of that – but the words had left no real impact. It was just a story, told to make everything logical. Yet, it must be true.

The blankness hummed a little, attempting to reject what it had just been fed.

“I know it’s not really my business, but I’ve heard so much about you in the past few days and I thought you deserved to know,” Ginny added tentatively. “I just thought I should tell you, as much as I dislike him, so you’d know… whatever happened wasn’t completely the slimy little ferret’s fault,”

Jade started to nod, but Ginny’s last comment sunk in. “‘Ferret?’ Where did that come from?”

Ginny giggled. “Oh, last year we had a very…unique Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Once he caught Malfoy trying to jinx Harry in the hall and turned Malfoy into a white ferret. Then he bounced him up and down the hall.” Ginny giggled again and added sadly, “I didn’t get to see it myself, but I heard all about it from Ron. He said it was the best day of his life. Ever since then we refer to Malfoy as “ferret” because it’s funny and it makes him really mad.” She offered, “You should try it sometime.”

Jade laughed, too, but didn’t reply. Thinking about Draco wasn’t the easiest at the moment. She looked away from Ginny and stared down at the floor.

Ginny rose slowly from her chair murmuring, “I’d better go. Breakfast starts soon.” As she turned to leave she added, “They really did have your best interests at heart, you know. They just wanted to protect you.”

Jade nodded again, still not looking at Ginny. “I know.” From the corner of her eye she watched Ginny turn away. Suddenly Jade added, “I know they just wanted to help, but why’d they have to tell him to turn me in?”

Ginny whirled around. “What?” she asked sharply.

“Why couldn’t they just tell him to stop talking to me; why’d they have to tell him to turn me over to Snape?”

Ginny frowned, “But they didn’t. I’m sure the only thing they were going to tell him was to back out of his deal and tell you he’d changed his mind about helping you with whatever you were doing.”

“Oh.” Jade filed this information away to digest later, when the blankness wasn’t so prominent in her mind. “You won’t tell them you’ve talked to me will you?”

“Never,” grinned Ginny. “Ron would cook me alive.” This time Jade didn’t stop Ginny as she left the library for breakfast.

Jade sat there for a while, elbows propped on her knees, staring at the floor. There was a strange stain on the floor in which she was particularly interested. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there, not thinking, but other students began entering the library. Their loud, happy chatter was distinctly annoying and Jade decided her not-thinking could be better carried out elsewhere.

She got up, leaving her stain behind, and exited the library. Her feet naturally carried her to the garden’s entrance. Instead of entering using the finger holes, she used the same method she did to exit. The door exploded with unusual violence and slammed back together behind her with a bone-shaking crunch.

The garden was wet from the previous night’s storm and the remaining raindrops clung to everything. Jade paced about the gurgling fountain several times, but could not bring herself to sit. She felt the need to keep moving, for if she stopped, something bad would surely happen. She knew she couldn’t outrun her thoughts, but she felt it would be better to be on her feet to combat them.

Her eyes lit on the wall opposite the entrance. It was the one over which she had dumped the leaves and mucky water when she first discovered the garden. Now it didn’t look like a convenient rubbish bin as much as a convenient escape.

Jade shut her eyes and felt the dirt around the base of the wall with her power; it was loose. She pictured a layer of dirt floating off the ground and clouding into one area next the wall. Next, in her mind, the cloud took the shape of several steps and solidified. When Jade opened her eyes, a new set of stone steps ran halfway up the brick wall. ‘A homemade step ladder,’ Jade thought smugly. ‘That will do the trick.’ She approached the steps and tested the first with her weight. When it held firmly, she climbed the rest. They ended with the top of the wall a little above her waist and she looked curiously at her surroundings.

What she saw took her breath away. It was a vast lake, shimmering and smooth as glass. The trees around its perimeter and the sky above were reflected with such absolute perfection that Jade wondered briefly if the whole world might not simply be a reflection of the lake. She could not see directly below her, so she turned a little and hoisted herself up until she could sit on the wall. It appeared to be about six inches thick. She swung her legs over. Her heels did not bump the wall immediately; instead they kept going until they hit much farther back than expected.

Jade pitched forward, her fingers scrabbling against the rough brick, struggling to regain her balance. As she tipped forward, she received a full view of what lay below her. What she saw made her stomach lurch. The lush, green grass sloped steeply downward, giving way to angled rocks which, in turn, dropped off to the lake. The drop on this side of the wall was considerably more than on the garden side.

Jade’s fingers clutched the top of the wall tightly. Shuddering she thought, ‘I don’t like heights; I really don’t like heights.’ Shiny flecks in the large, brown rocks winked threateningly at her in the bright morning sun. Fingers feeling their way over the top edge, Jade realized why she had almost fallen; the wall was not six inches thick, as it appeared from the top. A ledge protruded over the drop at least three inches. The ledge itself was only as thick as a brick and, it seemed to Jade, rather unstable. She wished fervently there was a bit more between her rear and that drop.

As Jade stared across the lake, thoughts began to swim across her mind. Ginny’s words were there, fresh and new. “The Malfoy family would be disgraced…His reputation would be ruined…The only thing they ever said they were going to tell him to do was to back out of his deal…” Jade had the sudden, sharp desire to move again. Shutting her eyes she scooted out to the very edge and turned to the side. She grabbed on tightly and let herself slip down. Her robes scraped against the brick, snagging as her body slid past the ledge. Her weight pulled at her arms and she was hanging over open air. She let go.

Her feet slammed into the ground a few feet below. Jade waved her arms wildly to regain her balance on the hill. When she no longer felt she was going to topple backwards, Jade turned and surveyed her surroundings. She was closer to the level of the lake now; large, flat rocks created uneven tiers – extending about six feet ahead – leading to the water five feet below.

To her left, the wall turned a corner to form another wall of the garden. The grass continued, becoming, Jade assumed, part of the grounds; the rocks diminished to become a grassy, sloping hill. To her right, where the brick wall ended, the wall of the school began. Vast, grey stone expanses reached up as far as Jade could see. The grassy patch on which she stood ended a little before the gray stone wall turned a corner. Beyond that only the brown rocks separated the school from the lake.

Jade took a few halting steps forward until she stood before the rocks. Draco’s face floated before her mind’s eye. “Fine. Believe what you want,” the Draco from her memory spat, expression schooled into practiced woodenness that couldn’t quite cover…something strange in his eyes. “I will believe what I want,” Jade whispered, but what she had been so sure of last night was no longer quite as simple.

Jade climbed carefully down the rocks to stand at the water’s edge. Even close the water was glassy and unflawed. She stared into it, studying her own reflection, when suddenly the water’s surface gave a twitch. Jade blinked. The surface twitched again. Slowly an image appeared, floating on the water like oil. It was a trap door, set into a wooden floor. Jade could barely make it out, so she knew the room in which it lay was dark. Before she could examine the image further, it vanished as fog dissolves before the sun.

Jade shook her head. ‘How strange. Another random, apparently pointless vision.’ She stored the image in the back of her mind for future reference. Feeling the urge to move once more, Jade began to pick her way along the rocks, moving to her right where the rocks and lake turned a corner. What started out as awkward going became easier as she went. Soon Jade fell into a rhythm: pick the next rock, test it to see if it could support her, if not – which occurred often – strengthen it with magic, step, get her balance, and repeat.

As she went she reviewed the facts. Harry and Ron had told Draco to back out of his deal. Why? Apparently they were under the impression he couldn’t be trusted and the sooner she learned that the better. In Harry and Ron’s twisted world, getting someone to betray a friend was helpful. But then, she reminded herself, they hadn’t told him to betray her exactly. It sounded from Ginny that, if Draco had followed Harry and Ron’s instruction, she simply would not have been able to carry out her plan.

Of course, Draco was not one to take instructions well, even when being blackmailed. ‘Which was essentially what Harry and Ron were doing to him,’ Jade though wryly. ‘Blackmailing him with the fact that his father’s in jail.’ Harry, Ron, and Hermione had told Jade Draco’s father used to be a Death Eater, but they had not said he was in jail. ‘Probably because they weren’t supposed to tell anyone. But that didn’t stop them from using it against Draco.’

Jade remembered Ginny saying not only would Draco’s reputation be ruined, but Jade would know what he was really like. Again Jade wondered at the thickness of Harry and Ron’s skulls. She did not know how she could have made it any clearer that she couldn’t care less what Draco’s family was like.

The fact he had turned her over to Snape though… that was troubling. Then again, Snape had not known the intruder was her when he had entered his office, so apparently Draco had not given her name. She couldn’t seem to make sense of the matter. ‘I’ll just have to ask Draco the next time I see him. Give him a chance to explain himself.’

Her stomach gave a sick lurch and a memory of her own voice was suddenly screaming in her head, “Harry and Ron were right: you can’t be trusted!” Jade amended, ‘He can explain himself if he’ll even talk to me.’

Suddenly her foot slipped from under her. She flung her arms wildly and grabbed a rock farther up the slope. Pebbles cascaded into the lake. She lowered herself to sit for a moment on the rock where her foot was now firmly planted. Catching her breath from the sudden scare, she focused again on reality and realized the weather was changing. The wind had picked up. The lake was no longer smooth or glassy and the ripples from the loose pebbles were lost in the choppy waves licking at the rocks’ edges.

For a moment Jade feared the weather change was her doing, as it had been last night, but a quick check on her internal, magical strength – although diminished from the numerous rocks strengthened – showed it was under control. ‘As long as this is natural, I may as well continue,’ Jade decided. ‘I can always fend off a little rain.’ She stood and, using the higher rocks as hand-holds, continued cautiously in the direction of the corner. She was almost there.

Returning to the turmoil in her mind, Jade was pleased to find it lessened, though not entirely gone. The remaining problem was Harry and Ron. They had gone behind her back and ended up hurting her and Draco. She was angry with them for that. She, however, was surprised to find she was even angrier about their lack of faith that she could take care of herself, that she knew what she was talking about when she said she trusted Draco.

But she could see Ginny’s point: they had done it because they cared about her. While having people care about her was mildly disturbing in itself, she couldn’t be mad at them for that. Harry and Ron had tried the best they could, she supposed, although they had picked about the worst possible way of “helping.”

Jade, rounding the corner, stopped to look at the scene before her. The lake arced to form an expansive half-circle bordered on two sides by the walls of the castle. The castle itself was breathtaking, its many towers stretching toward the sky. To Jade’s left – the side of the lake not bordered by castle – the forbidden forest wrapped to reach the back of the castle.

Jade stepped around the corner to get out of the wind, leaned back against the wall, and shut her eyes. Her mind, although not empty, was not as full as it once had been. It seemed to have settled to a peaceful churning, like the potion cauldron. ‘I have to put Harry and Ron on my list of people with whom I need to have a conversation,’ thought Jade absently. It felt good just to stand there, listening to the sound of the wind whistle past the edge of the castle and the waves hitting the rocks around the corner. She could hear them, but they felt distant, the wall shielding her from reality. She let the sounds lull her into a sort of trance.

She was pulled sharply back to the real world by cold droplets of water striking her face. She opened her eyes in time to receive another face full of spray, tossed up by waves that had stretched around the corner. Lightening flashed in the distance and thunder murmured in the graying sky. Large clouds had swept in while she wasn’t watching and Jade gave a shiver as they slid over the sun. The wind had picked up; she needed to get back to the garden and, more importantly, inside.

Covering her head against a third assault, Jade leaned around the corner to view the unprotected portion of water. She gasped. The lake was in torment, writhing and seizing as waves churned from its depths to slam against the castle wall. Her path back to the garden splashed in and out of sight. ‘This cannot be good!’ Jade thought desperately. She could hold back the water, but she had used much of her strength on the rocks earlier; she didn’t fancy a fight with the imminent rain.

Steeling herself, Jade pushed her magic out, holding the water off the rocks in front of her. It was as though an invisible wall had grown between her and the crashing waves. Now each wave slammed not into the rocks, but against a magical barrier. Jade stepped around the corner and pushed her barrier a little farther down the rocks.

She walked carefully, ensuring she stepped on no rocks that would need magical support. Time dragged on; Jade was sure it was taking twice as long to get back to the garden wall as it had to leave it. She longed for her magically-strengthened rock path at the bottom of the rocky hill. She was sure, however, she couldn’t push the waves back that much farther.

After what felt like ages, Jade reached the grassy slope in front of the garden wall. As the increasingly angry waves slammed against her barrier, she contemplated the obstacle before her. To scale it would be difficult, but not impossible. The small ledge stuck out at the top, offering an ideal handhold, if only she could reach it. She could use her magic to make a ladder, as she had before, but Jade doubted she could keep her hold on the water at the same time. She had to hurry; she could feel her magical strength ebbing.

Jade reached up and, finding the mortar worn from between the bricks, pulled herself upward. Bricks stuck out in places and offered conveniently placed grips and steps as her feet left the ground. Hand…foot…hand…foot…she repeated as she rose. Her fingertips began to throb from her weight pressing them into the rough brick and she had to fight her ankles to keep them from buckling. Finally her fingers reached the top ledge. Grabbing a hold, Jade prepared to pull herself up.

The ancient brick under her left hand gave way. Fingers slipping loose, she hardly registered the tiny chunks of brick slipping past her nose. Her feet slipped off the wall, leaving her dangling – hanging by one hand – over open air.

Fear clutched her throat with a boney hand. Instinctively Jade strengthened the brick in her right hand with magic. Her hold on the water broke. It crashed through her barrier to slam into the wall below her feet, voicing anger at its former captivity.

‘It’s gone!!’ Jade’s thoughts screamed. ‘It’s gone! You’ve used it all up! You fool. It’s gone and now you’re going to die.’

Die.’ Now that it was there it wouldn’t go away. For long seconds her brain could grasp nothing but that word, seeing it as though scrawled before her eyes. Then a wave swamped her feet, pushing her body against the wall and filling her shoes with icy liquid. As it reseeded, it tugged her with it, trying to pull her loose.

The word was gone; only the brick before her nose remained. It was in sharp focus, the bricks around it blurred. Suddenly a memory she hadn’t known existed rose in her mind. It was a brick, or rather one brick in focus surrounded by many more which were not. It was a though she were standing a few inches from a brick wall. Jade recalled in a flash the second vision she had had that day in Trelawney’s class: one that had paled in comparison to the first at the time but was now vividly, urgently important.

Her fingers slipped farther, scraping against the brick and sending pain through her already aching shoulder. She knew she couldn’t hold on much longer; she had never been particularly strong. The waves slammed again at her feet. This time they soaked her to the knees.

Her fingertips tore over the edge of the ledge. Her hand had barely left the wall, her fall had barely begun, but she felt like she had already been falling forever.

Long, slim fingers wrapped around her wrist and everything jerked upward. Jade looked up and saw a second hand reaching down. She grabbed for it with her left, face twisted upward as her body pushed against the wall. Draco Malfoy’s head popped suddenly into view. “Hello. Could you use a lift?”

*Squeals with girlish excitement* Did you like it?! Did you?! Did you?! Did you?! Ok, so now that’s out of my system. But seriously, was it ok? Did everything make sense? I hope so. If not, please feel free to let me know.

Again, I am very sorry for the incrediblely long wait and will be very surprised if anyone remembers this story. I can safely say the next update will be much quicker! (Reviews will definitely help remind me to… *hinthint*) I really do love you all! Thank you so much for reading!

Hearts for everyone!

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