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 Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. But I do own Troy Malfoy and that new girl Cassidy Valeska because I'm cool like that.

Sorry I take forever to update. I'm pretty much a terrible person.



This is dedicated to Chrysta, the girl who is cracking the whip so this story is finished!

  

 

 

The October Hollow

By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Nineteen--))

One Last Chance

 

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But whatever was to come, they had to face it. Whether alone or united, the horrific event that would soon be upon them was worse than any sort of torture. The truth of her death was inescapable, undeniable, and irreparable. It was the truth . . . and nothing could that. 



October 31
Day 14
Halloween


Despite the fact that each of their nights was restless and turbulent, full of troublesome nightmares and gut wrenching thoughts, Harry, Ron, and Ginny were up very early the next morning. Dark circles under their eyes indicated their lack of sleep, but the lump in their throat was precisely the thing preventing them from dozing off.


That Saturday morning, Harry was up the earliest, staring blankly into the ashy fireplace, his mind elsewhere. Ron's heavy footsteps reverberated down the staircase only moments after Harry settled, and Ginny's equally groggy demeanor appeared shortly after.


It was very early, and the three Gryffindors sat silently, refusing to acknowledge the gnawing hole inside them, the burning desire to scream. The acute silence was interrupted by a tap on the window; looking over, Harry recognized his snowy white owl, Hedwig, carrying a letter.


All weariness was forgotten, as Harry was up in a flash to let Hedwig in. "It's from Dumbledore!" Harry shouted, his heart pounding as he ripped open the letter. Ginny and Ron were suddenly close behind him, reading over his shoulder.


Harry,

We have also found some discoveries about the subject you are concerned about. I will inform you, Mr. Weasley and Miss Weasley in precisely one hour before you go to breakfast. Bring any information you might have in writing and we shall discuss it then.

Professor Dumbledore 

Harry looked at his watch; it was 7:06. They had nearly an hour to wait before seeing Dumbledore, and each of those minutes were to be spent impatiently, nerve-wracking and anxious.


Glancing at each of his friends, Harry released a sigh that seemed to lift a heavy weight from his chest. "Why don't we get dressed and such before we go to his office?" Harry suggested.


"Good i-i-idea," Ginny said, stifling a yawn. She shot Harry a furtive smile before turning to slip up the staircase.


Making sure to avoid the suspicious look Ron was giving him, Harry made haste to his own dormitory as well. Soon after the hot water, the fresh clothes, and the gathering of written evidence, Harry and Ron waited for Ginny in the common room with fifteen minutes to spare. Harry fingered the three books in his hands uneasily, almost as if their mere existence carried a stigma that was to never be forgotten: Hermione was gone.


"I've got a question," Ron said suddenly, although his tone was cautious. The Weasley was also staring at the books in Harry's hands, but he looked confused.


"What?" Harry asked.


"How did you know?" Ron said slowly, eyes narrowing.


"How did I know what?" Harry reiterated, now bemused as well.


"What happened between Hermione and Mal—him— the night she was kidnapped?"


Aw clenched, Harry fidgeted awkwardly. There wasn't an exactly subtle way to put this, and anything could set Ron off.


"Remember that I said I've been having weird dreams?" Harry began, trying to ignore the growing trepidation in his stomach. After receiving a nod from Ron, Harry continued. "Well I had a dream . . . about that night."


Ron looked stony for a moment, but he sighed at last. "Like I said last night, Harry, she probably did it to get back at me. And speaking of which…" Ron started, breaking off. "When I said that last night, you said it made sense. Why does Hermione giving into Malfoy make sense?"


Oh no, Harry thought. This was going to be a difficult conversation to have with Ron. "Mate, I don’t think we have enough time to talk about that right now."


"I've got plenty time, Harry," Ron said flatly, crossing his arms over his chest. There was no way out now, Harry realized. Ron had to be informed one way or another.


"Err. Alright. Well, think of the situation Hermione is in. She's been kidnapped and lied to. She doesn’t know what's going on, and terrible things are happening to her. And, err, there's really only one person she actually knows. . ."


"Malfoy," Ron grunted, and Harry nodded quickly.


"Right, yes, him. Well, like I said, I've been having these, erm, dreams. And I see everything that's going on. And well, Hermione will do anything to have her questions answered," Harry summed up, wincing at his own words and their implications.


Ron stared at Harry, his eyes burning. "Are you saying that Hermione—"


"Well, wait," Harry interjected. "Since Malfoy is the only person she knows, and he is the one that is constantly in contact with her, it makes sense that she did what she had to do in order to get answers. So, they… struck a deal, so to speak."


"This is—" Ron spluttered, but Harry held up a hand.


"You wanted to know, Ron. I'm just telling you what I know."


"Alright," Ron said bracingly. "Go on."


"On Wednesday night, while I was in the library, I heard Malfoy bragging about something to one of his friends. He was saying that Hermione was so desperate to find out what was going on that she and Malfoy made a deal, and well, he was enjoying the benefits of it. It didn't make sense to me at all, but then, like you said, she did it to get back at you, I think. Which sort of, err, backfired in the end…"


Ron stared a Harry for a minute, his eyes narrowed and his brows creased. Dark comprehension gradually dawned on him, and he closed in eyes in a painful revelation.


"Harry," Ron said, eyes still closed; his voice was tight with emotion. "What kind of deal did Hermione and Malfoy make, exactly?"


"Ron, I don't think—" 

"Tell me," Ron said sharply, withdrawing an equally as sharp breath as he said it.


"It was something… sexual," Harry confessed, blurting the last word, cringing as he did.


"So did they—?"


 "No," Harry said immediately. "She didn't lose it to him, Ron. Malfoy said so himself." Ron deflated in relief. It was just then that Ginny arrived, thankfully distracting the two boys from the previous subject. Neither Harry nor Ron wanted to dwell on the idea of Hermione and Malfoy.


The three Gryffindors walked to Dumbledore's office in complete silence, each lost in dark, similar thoughts. Harry was questioning Dumbledore's ability to recognize danger, for this situation was not subtle; Ron was infuriating himself with the thought of Hermione with someone as foul as Malfoy, and Ginny was anxiously thinking of Hermione's return.


"Sugar Quill," Harry said once they reached the stone gargoyle. The statue rotated slowly, and the three students hesitantly ascended the steps. The spiraling staircase seemed more sinister than usual; the ominous sound of the creaking made the hairs on Harry's neck stand up, as if there was something wrong.


Once at the top, Ginny reached for the griffin knocker and thumped it three times. "Enter," said the clear, old voice. Harry, Ginny and Ron exchanged nervous glances and pushed through the wooden door and into the brilliant office.


Dumbledore sat at his desk, a quill in hand and his half-moon glasses perched on the edge of his nose. He looked up at the three teenagers as they sat down in front of his oak desk. Harry pulled out The Lumerous Witch and Lunar Phenomenon, as well as Hermione's sixth and seventh year journal.


"Good morning to you three. I trust you have received my letter at an appropriate time?" Dumbledore asked kindly.


"Yes, sir," Ginny said politely.


"It's all right here, the evidence you wanted." Harry pushed forward the three books onto Dumbledore's desk. The old man took The Lumerous Witch into his hands and smiled sagely, but sadly. 

"So you have worked out her history," Dumbledore said quietly. Harry nodded.


"Professor, since I found out about Hermione, and I read this book, it says something about—"


"The Halloween ceremony?" Dumbledore cut in, and Harry nodded once more. "Yes, I know all about that, Harry. So does the Order. Tonks found a way to locate where Voldemort is holding Hermione hostage. She's working out the planetary angle of the solar system conjunction as we speak. She'll be able to get there and bring Hermione back before the ceremony begins tonight."


"Really?" Harry's voice cracked, his face breaking out into a relieved smile. Dumbledore nodded, smiling also. Ron was laughing quietly to himself, holding Ginny as she sobbed in happiness onto his shoulder.


"Do you know what this means?" Ginny asked in a slightly breathless voice. "Malfoy's expelled!" she yelled in glee. Ron and Harry grinned at each other.


"How did you find out about Mr. Malfoy?" Dumbledore asked sharply, making Harry jump.


"I had a few more dreams while you were away. I saw the entire scene between Hermione and Malfoy before he kidnapped her," Harry said. Dumbledore, after a moment of deep, troubled thought, nodded.


"How did he kidnap her?"


"It was kind of by Muggle standards. He used chloroform," Harry informed him, twisting his hands anxiously.


Dumbledore nodded. "Very clever, that was. Wise of him not to use his own wand. That too, might've betrayed him." He sighed. "There is… something else we need to discuss."


Dumbledore was silent for a minute before he pushed back from his desk and rummaged through a cabinet a few feet from the window. Harry, Ron and Ginny exchanged glances, the smiles of joy fading from their faces. Were they in trouble? Was there bad news?


Shuffling papers in his hands, the headmaster surveyed Ginny and Ron silently for a moment; Ron and Ginny now looked positively frightened. Harry wondered what was going on; were his friends going to get in trouble for him telling them about Hermione?


"Your mother told me of the letter she sent," he said softy, and the color drained instantly from Ron's face. "Your cousin Cassidy Valeska was kidnapped during the attack that happened in Poland yesterday. She was kidnapped, but not killed, by the Death Eaters." Ginny let out a strangled noise, and Ron was stiff as stone. "For everything that happens, there is some reason. Your cousin Cassidy… like Miss Granger, she too, was a Lumerous witch."


"No!" Ginny said, breaking into dry sobs suddenly. "She never did anything! She was normal! Normal as they got! She isn't a Lumer-what's-it witch! She isn't!" Ginny wailed. Dumbledore smiled ruefully.


"I'm afraid, Miss Weasley, that she is."


Ginny broke down completely in Ron's arms, her brother embracing her. Ron was glaring at Dumbledore.  "Why didn't you tell someone then? If you knew she was a Lumer-what's-it witch, why didn't you say something or—or-- I dunno, write it down on a record?" Ron said angrily.


"We did not know until very recently, Mr. Weasley. By the time we went to tell her, it was too late."


"When did you suspect it?! It couldn't have been until just yesterday because then you would've been able to tell her!" Ron shouted spitefully. Harry, although he agreed with his friend, was unmoved by Ron's shouting, as was Dumbledore. Harry was reminded forcibly of himself two years ago when he exploded at Dumbledore for what happened to Sirius.


"We suspected it as soon as Miss Granger was kidnapped. But we did not find out until at least five days ago," Dumbledore explained calmly.


"Why did you start looking when Hermione was kidnapped? If you knew Cassidy was a Lumer-what's-it then you should've— been able— to tell!" Ron shouted, glaring at the Headmaster.


"As I said, I did not know about Cassidy until very recently. However, I told you that I indeed suspected it when Miss Granger was kidnapped," he reiterated colorlessly.


"Why?" Ron shot back, clutching onto his sobbing sister.


"That particular matter is out of my hands. It is not my place to tell you," he replied mysteriously, a truly apologetic look on his face.


Harry looked at his two devastated friends, and then back at the headmaster, anger rising in him like fire. Not his place to tell them?


-x-x-x-


As the three of them walked to the Great Hall, there was a mutual, mutinous feeling running through all of their veins. Dumbledore seemed to be futile, as he was supplying them with nothing but tragic clues and misleading words. His advice to owl Molly Weasley left them equally as mad, because it made sense for Dumbledore to inform them right then and there if they both knew what was going on!


 There was a tentative silence between them as they walked to the Great Hall, which was empty except for a handful of Ravenclaws. Since most students tended to come in much later on Saturday morning, the three were left to discuss whatever they pleased.


"What do you think You-Know-Who wants with Cassidy?" Ginny asked Ron, looking tearful.


"The same thing he wants from Hermione," Ron replied darkly, scowling at his toast. "I mean, if they're both Lumer-what's-its—"


"Lumerous, Ron," Harry interrupted.


"Okay! Lumerous witches," Ron corrected, shooting Harry an annoyed look, "then he's got to want the same thing with them."


"But he's got Hermione to get his second soul, so what's he want Cassidy for?" Ginny pointed out.


"Well think about it, Gin. Just because he's got one powerful witch to make him immortal, doesn't mean he won't want another to use their powers. Lumerous witches are extremely powerful," Harry said.


"You sound like Hermione." Ginny mumbled. Harry snorted, although he was suddenly reminded of his grief.


"But really, I mean. Could he possibly just want to use Cassidy's powers? He has Hermione," Ron said.


"Yeah, but we're getting Hermione back before the ceremony tonight, remember?" Ginny reminded him sternly. Ron looked dubious at her statement for a second before smiling hopefully and nodding.


"Yeah, I know. But I'm just saying… if he has both of them, what's the use for them? He's got enough powers to take from one of them—" Ron broke off suddenly and looked sick.


"What?" Ginny and Harry asked at once.


"I-If— If Tonks gets Hermione back, but not Cassidy… then she'll be killed!" he moaned, looking horrorstruck. Ginny paled.


"Tonks would never leave her there!" Harry said firmly.


"I hope you're right, Harry," Ginny whispered, looking petrified. He reached over and squeezed her shoulder reassuringly, but couldn't help but thinking, when will this end?


-x-x-x-


The news of Hermione's assured return was like Christmas come early; all three Gryffindors were in markedly higher spirits than they had been the last two weeks. Every now and then they were struck with the reminder that a potentially terrible tradeoff might occur, but Harry was always quick to reiterate that Tonks, a qualified Auror, would never leave an innocent behind.


Their Saturday went by quickly, spent in Hogsmeade, with friends, and without the trivial worry of homework. The ever constant silver lining hung over them, however, and not a single happy moment could be relieved from the instant thought that Cassidy Valeska might die.

After dinner, aHa Harry, Ron, and Ginny filed back up to the Gryffindor tower with the rest of their house, laughing heartedly at the jokes Seamus and Dean were telling. As they reached the main swell of students at the grand staircase, there was a distinct commotion.


"Oi!" What's going on?" Ginny demanded as some first years fell at her feet, giggling. 

But the problem revealed itself as students swarmed and fanned out suddenly; one of Professor Trelawney's crystal balls had dropped down from her teashop-like classroom, causing students to shriek in fear of the heavy ball hurting their feet. Sighing, Harry scooped up the crystal ball.


"I'm going to bring this back to her," Harry said. Ginny nodded, but Ron scowled.


"Honestly, you're barking mad. If she wants it so bad she can get it herself!" Ron told him matter-of-factly.


Shooting Ron an annoyed look, Ginny said, "I may be in the library when you get back, I've got some last minute homework to finish."


"I second that," Ron agreed with a sigh. Harry chuckled, turning away and starting his journey up the staircase.. 


A million stairs later, it seemed, he arrived at the seventh floor corridor landing at which Trelawney's step ladder descended upon. Like usual, the ladder was down, and Harry, struggling with the weight of the crystal ball, ascended into her room.


Once up, Harry called out for his professor. There was no answer, so he went forth and tried to decide on a place to put the crystal ball so that Trelawney might see it. When he turned to leave, however, a rasping voice stopped him right in his tracks.


"SOON, THE DARK LORD WILL RISE, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN HE EVER WAS—"


Sibyl Trelawney's voice was raspy and foreign as she came stumbling out of the corner, her eyes rolling, her body shaking severely. Harry, frozen, stared at her, horrorstruck.


"SOON, THE DARK LORD WILL RISE ONCE MORE, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN BEFORE— THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO DEFEAT THE DARK LORD STANDS IN THE WAY BEOFRE HIM UNKNOWINGLY—THE NEW SAVIOR IS TAKEN AND RENEWED— STOPPING THE POWER IN WHICH DARKNESS WILL CONSUME HER— THE NEW SAVIOR IS FOREVER TRUE AT HEART— SOON— THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO DEFEAT THE DARK LORD AND THE NEW SAVIOR SHALL JOIN AS ONE AND DEFEAT THE DARK LORD WITHIN TEN YEARS TIME— SOON, THE DARK LORD SHALL RISE ONCE MORE, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN BEFORE—"


Professor Trelawney suddenly gave a deep, shuddering cough, her body shaking in a fit. As she was regaining her usual posture, Harry bolted from the room without another moment's hesitation.


Running as fast as he could, Harry Potter sprinted to the library, the rasping voice of the prophecy still echoing in his head. Blood was pounding in his ears, his heart beating against his ribcage— Trelawney had made another prophecy, Harry couldn't believe it!


Upon arrival, several people looked up in indignation as he burst through the doors loudly. Knowing exactly where Ginny and Ron he flew through the isles, and when he saw their flaming red hair, he resisted the temptation to scream out for them. Harry crashed onto their table, causing Ginny to shriek loudly.


"Have you gone mad?" Ginny hissed.


"What's wrong?" Ron asked when Harry sat down across from them, pantging. Harry's face was paler and whiter than normal.


"I-I just came back from T-Trelawney," Harry heaved. "She made another prophecy." Quickly, he reiterated verbatim what had been said.


"The new savior?" Ginny asked, perplexed.


"This makes no sense! Who's this 'new savior' bloke?" Ron


"That 'bloke' is a girl, Ronald. It says her, remember?" Ginny reminded him flatly.


"Maybe—" Harry began slowly, and Ginny and Ron both looked at him sharply. The idea forming in Harry's mind was so complex, yet so simple, but Harry doubted it was true— But was it—?


"Well, tell us!" Ginny demanded.


"It says her, right? Well, what if, since the savior is a girl, it's one of the Lumerous witches?" Harry said finally, his eyes wide. Ginny and Ron exchanged glances, frowning.


"Sorry, Harry, but that's too far-fetched for me," Ginny said simply, placing the paper on the table. "I know Hermione's a super genius, but the prophecy said only you can defeat You-Know-Who, even if you do team up with this savior girl."


"Yeah— I suppose so," Harry agreed, the excitement sinking away. Ginny was more likely to be right at the moment; her brain hadn't been shocked with another prophecy.


There were many minutes of quiet, untroubled silence for the Weasley's while Harry sat in mute distress, thinking about the prophecy and about Hermione. Who was the new savior? It was a girl, but whom?


Ginny was probably right with the Lumerous Witch idea being too far-fetched. He, Harry, was the only one who could defeat the Dark Lord, with or without help from someone else.


While two Weasley's worked quietly on their homework for another half hour, Harry dozed in and out of consciousness, the words of Sibyl Trelawney still playing though his head. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.


Hermione was a rare undiscovered witch, while at the same time, so was the Weasley's favorite cousin, whom Harry had never even met and they were both kidnapped for that rate trait. Dumbledore was lying to him again, and Trelawney was spouting prophecies! Draco Malfoy, the kidnapper, was still in school without so much as a detention, when he, Harry, got one himself for attempting a duel!


A suddenly loud thump startled Harry out of his doze. There was a loud groan a few isles over, though out of eyesight. Harry looked curiously over his shoulder, and gave Ron a quizzical look. Pushing back in his chair, they easily abandoned their work in order to investigate. They pulled out their wands and crept softly over, peering down the aisle.


The boy Harry had recognized as Theodore Nott stood triumphantly over an unconscious Draco Malfoy. Nott laughed malevolently to himself and pulled an object out of his pocket, putting the object in Malfoy's hand. Standing back, he drew back his sleeve and stared at his watch. In less than a minute, Malfoy's body had disappeared from the scene, and Nott walked away, quietly cackling.


Harry gaped at Ginny and Ron, astonished. They moved down the aisle, almost reluctantly, to the spot where Malfoy's body was moments before. Harry looked around and saw homework, quills, parchment and books tossed about the table, and an empty flask. Ginny went to it, tipping it over; little blue liquid trickled out.


Sniffing it, Ginny said, "It's a sleeping draft!"


"He force fed Malfoy a sleeping draft," Harry said breathlessly. "And then…" Harry spun around to see them staring at the floor. A small book titled Quidditch of the Eighteenth Century was on the ground.


The book had not been there a moment or two ago.


Harry knew instantly what it was and where it went. "That's a portkey," he announced. "What are the chances it'll take us to Hermione?"


"Our odds are very good," Ginny said firmly.


"So we're going, then?" Ron asked quietly. "Even though the Aurors will be there tonight?"


"We are," Harry confirmed."We need to try. No more sitting around." Looking to girlfriend, Harry took her hand. "Ginny, when we get to wherever we're going, be careful, alright?"


Ron took Ginny's other hand, squeezing it tightly. The two Weasley's shut their eyes, almost as if praying, and Harry wished he could do the same. He had a bad feeling about this, but he knew it had to be done. This was there one and only chance to make a difference, and he wasn't about to let that slip by.


"Ready?"


They nodded.


"One."


Harry's hand inched closer.


"Two."


His finger was a fraction of an inch away from the cover—


"Three!"


All three of them gasped as the familiar sensation took hold of them; seconds later, they were screaming as their feet left the ground in a blur of colors and sounds—


And they were gone.


-

-x-x-x-

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Author's Note: hey so who loves my mini hiatuses? Not me. Honestly, not me. Right now, I'm home from college until January 25th or so and I PROMISED I would get this friggin story out for you guys. It's pretty absurd that it's not already. It's not okay.


Thank you to those readers who keep sticking around! I appreciate it!





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