Harry & Ginny
UltimateHPfanfiction.com Story id: 1020773 (Please submit reviews!)
Ruskbyte - The Well of Shadows
Chapter 6 - The Shadow of a Storm
Title: The Well of Shadows
Author name: Ruskbyte
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
~ The Shadow of a Storm ~
It was a disturbing sight that greeted Harry as he looked up from where he was kneeling. He had only ever seen a person's aura change once before. It had been that time, almost exactly a year ago in fact, when he had decided to share his custodianship of the Order of the Phoenix with Ginny.
Her aura had at first been a shimmering glow of soft reds and oranges, accompanied by a low hum, almost a catlike purr. It had suited her, as most people's auras did, giving off a sense of who she truly was.
He had watched with interest and wonder as flecks of gold and pure white sparked into being around Ginny, glittering like a rain of stars that had grown stronger and stronger until it was part of the blazing fire that surrounded her. The soft orange tinge to her brightening aura had slowly faded away as the colours became predominantly white and gold and scarlet.
The deep thrum that Ginny's magic gave off had begun to twist and lighten, rising in pitch until it could almost be felt as well as heard. It sounded like phoenix song and it had permeated her magic with harmonious calm.
It had been a wonderful thing to witness.
The same could not be said about what was happening to Draco Malfoy.
During his fifth-year at Hogwarts Harry had become familiar with Malfoy's shimmering grey and maroon aura. It had always been easily identifiable -by being the only grey aura at Hogwarts, probably a family trait- and though, Harry himself was loath to admit it, slightly brighter than average for an ordinary wizard.
I have a bad feeling about this, he silently announced to both Ginny and the Order.
Malfoy's aura was writhing and twisting about itself like a wild beast, but at the same time it was slowly losing its luminosity. If Harry were to describe Malfoy's aura as a living thing, which he sometimes thought auras were, then these were the death throes of an untamed animal.
~A very bad feeling~ agreed Ginny, watching with horrid fascination. From where she was standing by Harry's desk, off to one side of the stage, she had almost as clear a view of Malfoy as Harry did.
Without warning and without a sound, Malfoy's aura was smothered and extinguished. There was a hushed noise, a non-sound if that was possible, more a sensation than anything else. As Malfoy's aura was snuffed out, the fine hairs at the nape of Harry's neck and trailing down his spine stood on end as Malfoy was plunged into shadow.
*Actually it's worse," declared Loki, his normally jovial voice sounding frighteningly grim.
*Aye,* agreed Beowulf's voice, *your bad feeling is justified.*
There were no longer even the faintest traces of a magical aura coming off Malfoy. Instead he seemed to be shrouded in shadows, as if he were standing in the middle of a poorly lit room. The only illumination that seemed to reach him reached his face, lighting his pointed features from below. Harry was reminded of a Muggle child with a torch, telling ghost stories around the campfire.
This was impossible.
Malfoy was standing in the centre of the stage, right next to the lecturing podium, and in what was probably the most brightly lit spot in the auditorium.
Yet he was cloaked in a palpable darkness.
It was simply impossible, and Harry was greatly disconcerted by the sight. An icy hand seemed to have reached into his chest and taken hold of his heart. Something bad, something terrible was about to happen, he knew. And he doubted he would able to stop it. In fact, he was beginning to have doubts that he would survive it either.
Any suggestions? he asked, trying to keep his inner voice calm.
*Kill him before he kills you.*
Ginny watched as Malfoy, with a contemptuous smile, waved his hand in a lazy fashion. As he completed the motion, a bubble of vacillating shadow swirled into being around the auditorium's stage. It stopped just short of where Ginny was standing, by Harry's desk, and curved up into a dome that nearly reached the room's high ceiling.
At the same time Ginny heard loud booms as the large wooden doors leading in and out of the auditorium swung shut. As the reverberating booms faded Ginny risked a glance away from where Harry and Malfoy were facing off. She saw that, as she feared, the auditorium was completely closed off, the doorways shielded by the same churning and impassable shadow that encompassed the stage.
Damn, we're trapped.
It was some kind of magic. It had to be, but Ginny could not discern anything about it other than its shape and the impenetrable blackness that somehow seemed almost alive. Harry had once, a little over a year ago, asked her if she believed in true evil. At the time she had replied that Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort, certainly fit the bill. Now, looking at what Malfoy had wrought between her and Harry, Ginny realized that some forms of evil were truer than others.
This was something dark, beyond anything Tom Riddle had ever or could ever hope to achieve. Whatever this was that Malfoy had tapped into, it was clearly ancient and incomprehensible. For a moment Ginny toyed with the idea that this was perhaps the antithesis of the Order of the Phoenix. The Order of the Snake or the Basilisk or the Dragon or the Chimaera or any of a dozen other 'dark' creatures.
Ginny considered this possibility for all of five or six seconds, until she recalled that evil was by nature selfish, and thus unlikely to willingly share its power. Whatever this was, it could never be controlled or subjugated to any one mages' will, not even a Dark Lord as powerful as Voldemort. It was an ancient evil, a power that had existed since beyond the rise of Voldemort and would continue on past his downfall.
Somehow, Ginny did not really know how or why, but she knew that this darkness was not the spawn of any earthly magic. It came from beyond; outside the times and spaces and dreams of magicians. It had been called forth many, many times before and had been banished back into the abyss each time, but only at a great and terrible cost, yet it was always returned to the world by fools that allowed their ambition and desire to overwhelm them.
She turned away from the mystically barricaded doorways to see Harry and Malfoy watching each other from across the stage floor. She drew her wand, preparing to make an attempt to break through the shield bubble that separated her from them.
*No! Don't do anything!*
Ginny almost jumped out of her skin with fright at the urgent tone Osiris used, his Egyptian accent coming through, thick and heavy. She paused in front of the undulating barrier, her wand gripped firmly in her hand.
What? Why? she asked, not letting her eyes stray from either Harry or Malfoy.
*Harry's trapped in there with him,* explained another voice in a calmer tone, though Ginny could almost feel the tension lying beneath. *He's going to need every erg of power the Order can give if he's going to get out of this alive.*
Heracles spoke up next, his voice unusually grim, *We're dealing with something here that could conceivably kill every person in this castle if he can't stop it somehow.*
Is Malfoy really that dangerous? Ginny asked in distress, unconsciously aware that whatever force it was that Malfoy had coupled with, it was plainly match for the Order of the Phoenix.
~I already said I'm open to suggestions~ observed Harry, his thoughts edged with apprehension and anxiety that Ginny had never before associated with him.
*Harry, you're going to have to listen to us closely...*
Harry had regained his footing and was standing opposite Malfoy with unyielding determination, his arms folded across his chest. It was a small effort not to wince at the dull throb radiating from his injured chest, but Harry locked eyes with Malfoy and adopted the appearance of being perfectly willing to wait until doomsday for his antagonist to speak.
Finally, he did.
"So tell me, Potter," Malfoy began with his customary drawl, "how does it feel to be outclassed? To be overshadowed by something greater than you?
"What the hell did you let Voldemort do to you, Malfoy?" asked Harry.
Malfoy smirked. "He made me a god."
"I know a few gods," countered Harry. "You're not one. You're just a schoolboy that's got in over his head in a situation he doesn't understand."
"Oh, I understand the situation perfectly," replied Malfoy, his eyes gleaming in the darkness that surrounded him. His smirk grew thin and dangerous as his voice grew steadily more strident as he proclaimed, "I understand that you are nothing compared to me. I understand that you cannot match my power. I understand that you cannot fight against me. I understand that you cannot escape my hold over you. I understand that you cannot even comprehend what I have become!"
*It's already starting,* observed Sun Tzu gravely.
*Yes, we don't have much time.*
Are you sure? checked Harry, I mean, he's always had a swollen head. His ego's bigger than the school.
Alexander's voice conveyed the shaking of his metaphysical head, *This isn't his ego talking, Harry.*
"What makes you think I'd be willing to fight you, Malfoy?" asked Harry, trying a different tack, watching behind Malfoy as the students trapped in the auditorium struggled to breach the shields blocking their escape. He was hoping to buy them time to get out before he tried to bring Malfoy to heel.
Malfoy threw back his head and laughed; a humourless and cruel sound. "Yes, I imagine you could Apparate to safety without too much difficulty. Only two anti-Apparition wards, the one around this room and the other around Hogwarts, wouldn't be much of an obstruction for the vaunted Order of the Phoenix."
Harry felt his mouth go dry. He, along with everyone else that knew about it, had tried his utmost to keep the Order a secret. There was not much written about the Order, only a few scarce and incomplete references - hardly enough to give anyone a true idea of its capabilities. Still, Harry preferred to err on the side of caution and not reveal the Order's existence to anyone he did not trust implicitly.
But somehow Malfoy knew.
"I know you, Potter," Malfoy continued, almost causing Harry to believe the Slytherin knew what he was thinking. His eyes, hooded in shadows, slid to one side, towards Ginny. "I know you well enough to realize that you would never flee from a fight that will put innocent bystanders in harm's way."
"Don't you dare bring anyone else into this, Malfoy," Harry snapped, taking an angry step forward. He deftly slipped his robes off and tossed them to one side, freeing him to engage in the ranges of motion he would be needing when the fight began proper.
Malfoy snorted. "I wouldn't dream of having anybody interfere in our little duel, Potter. This is between the two of us alone. You and me, as it should have always been."
Harry drew his wand and held it up in a ready position as he assumed a formal duelling stance. Waiting for Malfoy to do the same, he kept a close watch in case his opponent tried something underhanded. In fact he would be very surprised if Malfoy did not.
Instead, Malfoy ran a hand through his silver-blonde locks and flicked his head back. He reached into his robes and drew out his wand, twirling it with his fingers like a baton. Harry could feel himself tensing in anticipation, but Malfoy did not rise to the occasion.
"D'you really think you can beat me, Potter?"
"You caught me by surprise earlier. It won't happen again."
"You're right about that," Malfoy sneered.
Harry was only barely able to duck out of the way as a stream of black fire erupted from the end of Malfoy's wand. He rolled to one side, coming up in a low crouch with his wand aimed right at Malfoy. "Expelliarmus!"
The curse rushed at Malfoy in a red blur, but that other boy simply slapped it away. He was actually contemptuous in his ease at doing so and it showed in his smirk. He waited patiently for Harry to clamber to his feet, shaking his head slightly as though disappointed.
"May God have mercy upon my enemies," he said, "because I won't."
Harry blinked and after a moment's thought asked, "Patton?"
Malfoy grinned wickedly. "I learn from my mistakes, Potter."
Harry tried not to wince as he remembered the lecture he had given Malfoy on Napoleon and the sound thrashing he had incurred upon him shortly afterwards. At the time it had seemed entirely appropriate and also highly amusing. After nearly a year Harry had to wonder if perhaps he not gone just a little bit over the top with his actions.
I think I made a mistake doing that, he thought with a twinge of regret. Harry had never paused to consider that his repeated humiliation of Malfoy might have only supplied his rival with greater motivation to follow his father's path.
*Don't let yourself be bothered by self-recrimination now, Harry,* warned Merlin, his benign voice bringing a small amount of calm to Harry's racing thoughts.
*Now it the time for action,* agreed Romulus, *Concentrate on stopping him first, then you can worry about the consequences of your... our... actions.*
The duel suddenly began in earnest as Malfoy launched himself into the air, taking advantage of Harry's distraction. His leap carried him high above Harry, his head skimming only inches from the top of the magic bubble separating them from the others in the auditorium. With his wand clasped firmly in his left hand, at the apex of his short flight Malfoy tossed a blazing midnight blue and indigo fireball down at Harry with his right hand.
A quick back flip got Harry out of the way, but Malfoy continued his attack as he slowly drifted down to the stage floor. It was an eerie sight, more than a simple jump, but less than true levitation. It was almost as if Malfoy had become unbelievably light and gravity no longer held its normal sway over him.
Harry used a combination of magic and what martial arts he knew to dodge as Malfoy continued to barrage him with fireballs from above. He seemed to skim across the floor, skipping left and right as the fireballs exploded where he had been standing only moments earlier, leaving smoking craters in the stone floor. Eventually, however, Harry ran out of places to dodge to, finding himself pressed up against the black wall of the bubble imprisoning him with Malfoy.
Fortunately Malfoy had finally come to a feather light landing at almost the same time. His right hand was still ablaze with blue fire, but he was no longer able to press an advantage of height. Harry felt that it was time to turn from defence to offensive and no longer allow Malfoy to decide the way the duel was fought.
"Serpensortia!" he cried, levelling his wand at Malfoy.
A massive boa constrictor shot out of the tip of Harry's wand, looking very similar to the snake Harry had unintentionally freed from the Surrey Zoo many years earlier. He also remembered how Malfoy had tried this same spell against him in their second year, during Gilderoy Lockhart's abortive attempt at forming a duelling club.
He watched at the snake slithered towards Malfoy with frightening fluidity and speed, closing the twenty-yard gap in a matter of seconds. Unless Voldemort had somehow managed to transfer a portion of his Parseltongue abilities to him, there was no way Malfoy would be able to simply command the snake away from him.
Unfortunately Malfoy seemed blatantly unconcerned about the attacking boa, destroying Harry's hopes to take advantage of any distraction it might provide. With what could only be described as an evil smile Malfoy bent down and grabbed the boa as it reached him, grasping it firmly below its head with his right hand.
Malfoy's frigid grey eyes glittered through the shadows surrounding him as he looked across the scorched and pot marked stage at Harry. With theatrical exaggeration he shook his head and tsked in disapproval as his hand began to contract.
The boa writhed beneath him, wrapping its coils around his legs and slithering up to his waist in an attempt to pull free of his hold. Malfoy merely increased the pressure and soon Harry could hear loud cracks and pops as the snake abruptly fell limp, red blood oozing thickly between Malfoy's clenched fingers.
With callous ease Malfoy simultaneously tossed the dead creature aside with his right hand and aimed his wand at Harry with his left. "Get over here!"
Thin tendril of black energy shot from Malfoy's wand, much as the boa had been cast from Harry's. The magical ropes stretched across the distance between the two combatants in the blink of an eye and grabbed hold of Harry before he could act. Malfoy pulled on his wand and Harry found himself being rapidly reeled in like a hooked fish.
Malfoy swung a sharp uppercut that snapped Harry's head back and caused his teeth to click together painfully. The magical ropes that had drawn him in had dissipated, leaving Harry free to stagger back and try to catch his breath. The metallic tang of blood filled his mouth as he dropped down low and tried to sweep Malfoy's legs out from under him.
His attempt failed as Malfoy hopped over his sweeping leg and landed nimbly on his feet, halfway back across the stage. The fingers of his right hand fashioned strange gestures as he traced an aberrant shape with the wand in his left hand. Harry felt a cold shiver run up and then back down his spine as the shadows surrounding Malfoy grew motley and began to seemingly merge with the background.
Malfoy was rapidly fading away.
Oh heck, Harry swore as the implications immediate confronted him. This duel with Malfoy was sufficient complicated without him having to struggle against an invisible opponent.
*Get a Shield Charm up in case he tries to come at you from behind,* advised Alexander.
~Harry, where's Malfoy gone? Did he Apparate out of there?~ asked Ginny from outside the bubble, clearly not realizing that Malfoy was still present.
The bugger's turned himself invisible, Gin, Harry explained, sweeping his eyes from one side of the stage to the other and back, trying to find some hint as to Malfoy's location.
Without warning a solid blow, clearly a roundhouse kick, connected with Harry's stomach. The wind was knocked out of him and Harry staggered back, only to feel a rapid one-two set of jabs smashing into his jaw and sending him reeling to the floor. He twisted as he landed and hastily rolled clear, rising to his feet in a smooth motion. His wand had fallen from his grip during the assault and so he quickly summoned it to his hand, keeping a look out for his unseen attacker.
~Isn't there anyway we can detect him?~ asked Ginny, pressing up against the dome wall.
*Unfortunately no,* replied Isis, *This is a different kind of magic he's making use of. Our senses cannot perceive how achieves what he does.*
*Wait! Zere – do you see it?*
Harry narrowed his eyes to fine slits, focusing his gaze on the spot Joan was indicating. Nothing. It was a perfectly empty section of the stage. The slate grey stone tiles were exactly as Harry expected to fine them and there was not even the faintest trace of distortion in the air. Nothing pointing towards the presence of an invisible object. There weren't even any shadows to...
I see it, Harry confirmed, letting his eyes slide past the slowly advancing spot so as not to arouse suspicion. Malfoy's veil of invisibility was superb, but flawed in that it was perhaps too perfect. It even hid the shadows that fell across it.
Using his peripheral vision to keep track of his approaching enemy, Harry continued to keep up the appearance of searching for a clue to Malfoy's location. He fingered his wand in expectation, allowing his and the Order's magic to flow and accumulate inside the focal point.
*Aren't you going to raise a shield?* asked Romulus worriedly.
Not yet, replied Harry, deliberately turning his head slightly away from where Malfoy was hiding. He pursed his lips and slowly raised his wand, preparing to burst into action.
Malfoy's extraordinary method of invisibility was almost perfect in hiding him from view, but it did nothing to hide the sound of his leg rushing through the air at Harry. At the very last instant, cutting the timing closer than was safe, Harry spun back towards Malfoy and invoked a Shield Charm. There was a loud crack and the air right in front of Harry's face rippled under the unseen impact against the shield.
Harry's wand was up before the blow had even landed, "Reducto!"
It was a simple, but effective spell which caused Malfoy to reappear in a fragmented spray of shadow. The blast from the spell had been enough to disrupt Malfoy's concentration, bringing about an end to his invisibility. Harry, unfortunately, did not have any time to follow up on his attack. His retaliatory strike had clearly been unexpected, but Malfoy was fast to recover from his surprise.
He stepped in close to Harry and started pounding a hail of blows at Harry's head and shoulders. Harry tried to block the strikes, but Malfoy was swinging at him in a frenzied blur. Through his upraised arms Harry could make out an indescribable rage distorting his normally aristocratic features.
It reminded him frighteningly of how he sometimes felt during his Animagus transformations over the summer, when he and the Order had been coaching Ginny into becoming an Animagus.
As the rain of punches continued, hammering down on him, Harry contemplated the possibility of changing. He doubted that Malfoy, whatever he had become, would be able to survive being squashed by a hundred-foot tall Imperial Arch Griffin, especially in such a confined space. But that was also the root of the problem which was preventing Harry from transforming into his Animagus form.
The Practical Fighting Techniques auditorium was a large room, one of the largest in Hogwarts, but Harry doubted he would be able to fit. As big as the room was, his Imperial Arch Griffin form would be dangerously close to filling it, and that was without the curving dome of black energy Malfoy had encompassed them in.
He could, presumably, break the shadowy barrier but that could conceivably endanger the several hundred students trapped within the auditorium.
Suddenly Malfoy backed away a step or two, his wand back in hand from wherever he had stowed it during his primal rampage. His eyes still glistened brightly in the dark, filled with a fury that bordered on insanity. His lips were parted in a feral snarl, baring his teeth in a death's head grin that made him almost unrecognisable.
"'The-Boy-Who-Killed-The-Boy-Who-Lived'" announced Malfoy in a low and satisfied sounding growl. With a casual ease that was in stark contrast to the wild fury of only moments earlier, Malfoy gestured with his wand, "I do like the sound of that."
In a whispered rush the bubble separating Harry and Malfoy from the rest of the students in the Practical Fighting Techniques auditorium vanished. One moment it was there, the next it was gone as though it had never existed. This was supposedly impossible. Any form of magic, be it a spell, hex, curse, enchantment, ward or whatever, always had a signature trace while being performed or used and even after it was gone.
Ginny, however, did not really care about the impossibility of the situation. Instead, the fiery young woman charged out onto the stage to join Harry. As she did, coming to stand beside him, she saw her brother, Hermione and several others also moving to surround Malfoy.
Harry, are you all right? She asked, reaching out to grab his shoulder.
Harry, his face bruised and bloodied, looked at her with an dubious expression and answered, "Never been better."
"Sorry, stupid question," she agreed, wincing in sympathy at a large gash where the skin had split over Harry cheek.
The group of students that had moved to enclose Malfoy were mostly Gryffindors, in their fifth, sixth and seventh-years – the ones who had participated in Practical Fighting Techniques the year before. A few of the more spirited third and fourth-years, namely Moira, had also decided to join the fray.
It was not only Gryffindor that had come down though as Ginny recognised several Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs that were spread amongst her housemates. None of the Slytherins came to help, nor did Ginny really expect any them to, being too busy trying to escape the sealed auditorium.
"Why is it you Gryffindors always think a futile gesture is a noble one?" asked Malfoy, looking around at encircling students with a malevolent sneer.
"If a gesture accomplishes anything, Mr Malfoy, then it is not futile," said Gregory Proteus. The new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor had come down to join the group, while his wife Hilary wound her way to the opposite side of the stage so that she could advance upon Malfoy from the other direction.
Malfoy's sneer deepened as he scoffed, "Rhetorical nonsense, Professor."
Having reached the side of the stage across from her husband, Hilary Proteus stepped forward and caught Malfoy's attention. She swept her golden mane back with one hand, her other holding her wand, and looked imploringly at him. "Be careful like a proper Slytherin and think about it, Draco. This power you've gained... it's corrupting you inside."
"And your point is? If you have absolute power, which I do..." Malfoy spread his arms wide and laughed. "Who cares?"
The air around them began to stir, swirling about in a gentle breeze. Malfoy's grin became a predatory one as he turned to look at Harry again. "See you around, Potter. I look forward to the rematch," Malfoy bade them, sketching a short and mocking bow.
Darkness rushed up and over Malfoy from the ground, enveloping him in a coat of unfathomable black. Ginny could feel the mystical energies churning and bubbling with agitation all around her and with the Order's abilities she could make out the eddying currents that were congregating around where Malfoy was standing. It was odd, very odd, how he was disrupting the underlying magic on the stage when his earlier displays, when fighting against Harry, had not.
"Oh shit," swore Harry, watching the proceedings with wide eyes.
*Don't just stand there,* chided a voice, *get your shield charms up!*
*Get everyone's shield charms up! You're going to need them!*
"Shield Charms!" Harry shouted, raising his voice both to catch everyone's attention and also to make himself heard over the rising whistling of the air whipping about. "Everybody get your Shield Charms up! Do it like we practised last year and focus them towards Malfoy! Try and contain the blast!"
Blast? Ginny asked silently, forming a shield directly in front of her along with Ron and Hermione, who were standing alongside her.
"Try and overlap your shields!" Harry continued to yell over the rising howl of the wind, his eyes focused solely on Malfoy, who was almost lost amidst the tempest of black shadow that had formed at the centre of the stage.
~Hold tight~ he told her, reaching out to grab her fiercely by the hand.
It had been years since Ginny had last been at a beach and swum in the ocean. But the feeling of fighting against the waves immediately came back to her as she was buffeted by the energy. She struggled to hold the swell back, pushing and spreading her Shield Charm to and even beyond its limits in an attempt to contain the runaway flow of power.
"Bloody hell!" she heard Ron shout at her side, his voice almost drowned by the shrieking energy.
Loud cracks from above, like sharp and discordant thunder, reached her ears. Dimly she was aware that the auditorium's ceiling was collapsing down on them. But above all that Ginny was aware of the biting cold that permeated all around her, seeping and forcing its way into her body, her mind and her magic all at once.
Then, in a rumble of falling debris, everything went black.
Enforcer - Nope, definitely not good for anyone.
Phoeniki - If you have figured it out perhaps a brief cameo later in the fic?
didihoulio - Worse, definitely worse.
PhoenixMember15 - First time for everything I suppose.
kylesmom - Thank you, more should be coming by the weekend.
Finni-chan - Unfortunately Draco won't be getting much more in the way of screen time until near the end of the fic.
ElvishNature - Hopefully this counts as one of my eviler cliffies.
Queen of the Jungle - It's getting dangerous around here, the puppy eyes seem to be spreading.
JUDGEMENT - No polyjuice I'm afraid, this is far more insidious.
Arizosa - Definitely not joke time. That's coming after Xmas.
Phoenix - I am evil.
Nosgoroth - First I must offer my profuse thanks for a review that made me laugh my head off. It was truly a wonder read. Second, beware, I can do Star Trek too... The author rocked under the barrage of puppy-dog-eyes, but his automated defence systems absorbed the bulk to attack.
"Direct hit... minimal damage to target," reported the Tactical officer, licking his lips nervously as the author came around to make another pass.
"Reading an energy build up," reported the android science officer, "Ruskbyte appears to be charging his primary weapons array."
The second-in-command leapt to his feat, "Divert all power to shields!"
"He's targeting our suspense and anticipation drive. He's firing!" yelled the Tactical officer, "Extra-evil cliffhangers in bound! Impact in five seconds!"
The android looked up at the screen, from his post at the science station, just as the blinding flare of green light washed over the bridge, "Oh, shi-"
emerald-eyes - A proper explanation for the DADA teachers will only be given in chapter twenty-nine.
Conlan - Hope you enjoyed.
Confuzzler - The evil author is used to said multiple death threats, he gets them five times a day...
Kikkyo - Actually I'm being very literal when I say that's Malfoy's ultimate goal.
Black Phoenix - Snape spreading love, joy and chocolate? How do you know my plans? How did you hack into my files? How did you know I plan to have Severus serenade Minerva on Halloween? How did... ::continues ranting and raving for the next hour about things that have absolutely no bearing on his fic::
band2 - I'm planning for the fic to be around the same length as OotP.
chibisakura - Well there's your problem: sugar! The sweet stuff only gets you jazzed, but caffeine gets you wired! So forget the sugar and just add a couple extra spoons of coffee to your drink and voila!
Dezz - Sad to say but Ginny's Animagus will only be making an appearance somewhere around chapter twenty or so.
Washuu - I chose three points to Slytherin because whenever points are awarded they are almost always in increments of five or ten.
Spike Shinizzle - Sorry, but Draco's about as far removed from being a Death Eater as you can get. Explanations in the next chapter.
Lexi Christensen - Is that because there's nothing to say or because I've rendered you speechless?
Briar Rose - Well, Draco bashing is unfortunately no longer an option, so we'll be moving onto Snape and general Slytherin bashing instead.
red hot temptrest - I love cliffies. I'm actually amazed I managed to hold off this long. Just wait for the sequel, I've got the worst cliffie imaginable happening in the first chapter!
legolas lover - Sorry about being agravating, but I just so enjoy being vague about these things.
Buckbeak Girl - You are of course assuming that I'm still in school. Where about in SA are you? I'm in Jo'burg.
Liquid Ice - Don't worry about nagging. My neighbour's six year old has a crush on me and compared to her...
lp - Malfoy's character certainly does have potential.
Professor Weasley - Unfortunately this story and its sequel won't be as easy going for Harry and his friends as Order of the Phoenix was.
Skitzo Slytherin - Caffeine injected cherry? Don't mind if I do, thanks.
may - Just to warn you, don't just stock up on your Fire-Whiskey. You'll be needing brandy and vodka and schnapps and mead and... especially come chapter seven.
ffnetjoel - I imagine this cliffie was even eviler, wasn't it?
jedifanatic - Cool prank candy idea that, we should feed it to Snape. Draco's designation on the situation map will be revealed around chapter twenty or so.
LaminaCourt - Nope, I'm going for something off the wall here.
The Great TOomiN - Sorry, but I'm keeping my mouth shut about the DADA teachers for the time being, although clues and hints will be cropping up occasionally.
The Millennium One - I had originally intended for Draco's changes to be from the Well of Shadows, like in the title, but something else came to me. Stay tuned to find out what.
Merusa - An explanation for Draco's changes will be forthcoming. And don't worry about poor Snapey-poo, he'll be getting plenty of special attention.
veronik - Nope, no dark order in this fic. Malfoy's into something far more dangerous.
sk8reagle - I hope you enjoyed the duel between Harry and Malfoy. They'll be having the rematch in chapter twenty.
Moridin Shadar - I'm afraid Malfoy isn't going to die just yet... I have plans for that boy... yes, plans...
Lone Wolf - You've pretty much got it. Harry and Draco will eventually be having a reasonably civilized talk, but by then the situation will have changed dramatically.
P-chan - "happy birthday clown and the anti happy birthday clown ninja" ... um... are you on any medication that as your fanfic author I should be aware of?
pamela-potter-24 - As you can see Malfoy is now operating on pretty much the same level as Harry and the Order now. Bad news, ne?
Viva - Kinky? I completely redefine that word. You wanna bid for ages? I don't think you can beat me, but I'll open my bid at 11, just the right age to get into Hogwarts.
Angelis - Patience grasshopper. Everything comes to those that wait.
bubblez fairy - Ginny and Pansy will be having a few encounters during the course of the year, though I doubt they'll come to blows.
smalls - I did indeed intend it that way. Nice to know you took it the right way.
Ruefus - Interesting theory. Unfortunately I don't think Harry managed to break even one of Draco's bones. Maybe next time.
WN - Well... technically he didn't win since Harry's not dead yet.
Bob - The DADA teachers will be having their first lesson with Harry in a couple of chapters.
CrimsonNoble - Sometimes, like in the case of HRRTHSIHLC, it's best to leave the results to the reader's imagination. Although, maybe if you'd like I can have Hermione think back to what happened. Who would make a good cameo from Dune? Certainly not any of the sandworms, although maybe Hagrid...
Arwena - Not just powerful, but bloody powerful.
qtpie079 - How about having Harry defeat Draco AND Voldemort?
LittleA - Moira will be continuing to make her lively appearances and will be playing a fairly important role in Harry's seventh year.
TigerLily - Trust me, nobody is going to be too happy about the recent change Malfoy has gone through. Nobody.
Temporary Insanity - Something a little more lethal actually.
Eris, Queen of the Shadows - Well, I can't say that Harry won, but if it makes you feel better, he didn't exactly lose. Exactly. Kind of.
Acidpops - What indeed.
rowan - Harry and Ginny's problems are going to be multipled. Keep waiting for Chapter Nine: Sleeping Arrangements.
Rogue1615 - Trust me, it's going to rub everyone the wrong way come the aftermath.
Sakura Le - I'm glad you approve of what I've posted thus far. With luck the future won't change you opinion.
KaYos - The real sad part will be coming next.
gros minou #1 - Don't worry, Lupin will be showing up now and again.
Anon-e-mouse - His arms? Sorry, bad joke that. Draco's plans will slowly be revealed over the course of the fic.
Geor-sama - 'Fraid not. The secret of the DADA teachers will not be revealed anytime soon.
Margot - As far as I know Blaise Zabini is mentioned once the once, during Harry's sorting in the first book. All we know is the name and that he/she is in Slytherin.
Honey666 - Do you often growl when you're happy? If Ginny did that Harry would be very nervous about joining her in bed as often as he does.
greeneyes - I've got some more tricks up my sleeves with regards to H/Gs sleeping.
Esperanza - Considering Draco, I think it's best to ask what is he down to, since we already know he answers to a lower power.
Khatt - How would a brief mention during a Quidditch match be? Or better yet, maybe you can visit Harry in the hospital wing?
Korinna Myorin - Oh, just a tad.
jedifanatic - Malfoy use his powers for good? That's almost as funny as having Nosgoroth shooting puppy-dog-eyes at me.
Cygnus Crux - Kosh?
Sparks - If the last cliffie got me demoted, I imagine this one will get me cast down and demonized. Yay!
clifjumpr13 - Yep, the action has arrived.
psychochick - Actually Draco is going to give everyone a run for their money and Snape will never learn his lesson properly.
woggle - With luck I manage to bring Draco across as really scary during this chap.
GShans - Ah, a fellow cliffhanger connoisseur. Pleased to meetcha.
Orion - I want Draco to be pretty much unstoppable and, better still, on the rampage.
RoseFyre - Revelations and explanations in the next chapter, but for now; Malfoy is not carrying Voldemort.
Blue Roses - How will it turn out? Probably badly.
Eleana23 - This is only the beginning. It gets even more problematic.
kensai - Ah, thanks for the correction. Unfortunately German isn't offered in SA schools, so I'm mostly relying on my own inept Afrikaans. That and my swimming coach for the past ::quickly counts his fingers:: ten years is German. Thanks again.
Vagrantshadow - Hopefully it will only get better.
Gryffindor-girl2002 - I imagine it would be a problem if your boss wanted to know why you keep laughing.
Wind - I'll have a look see.
The Red Dragons Order - Not quite. In this case our dear Draco is seriously in over his head.
AcGirl - With luck the truth will be even wilder than your suspicions.
Magi Vixen - Explanations will be in the next chapter, along with the aftermath.
FaLL4mGrace - Sorry, but Draco's involvement in this and the future is kinda too important to have him turned into something small and forgotten.
AquiLa - I hope the wait wasn't too long.
Blue Yeti - It all just comes naturally, even the cliffies. How can you not know anything about rugby? Sacrilege!
Margot - DADA will definitely be an interesting class with those two in charge of it. As for the sequel, well, we'll have to wait and see won't we?
Butler - I shall try to keep it up.
anastacy - Um... sorry? Should I have had Ginny assault Flitwick instead? Hmm...
BloodRedSword - That is the question, isn't it?
WolfMoon - Argh! Puppy eyes!
darkness - Argh! More puppy eyes! Argh!