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Chapter Eighty-Six: Hanging By A Thread

“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”

The Dark Lord kept his distance for the rest of that day, and the next. Hour by hour, Wraith felt herself becoming whole again, her natural power returning slowly. When evening fell for the third time since Wraith had seen the Dark Lord, however, she began to fear that she had lost any hold she’d had on him. He had not left the Manor, she could feel him through their bond, but he had not come near her.

Harper and Clara couldn’t help but notice their Lady’s anxiety. As soon as she was strong enough to stand, she had begun to pace the floor. Nothing they said seemed able to distract her, though they did try.

“Why does he not come?” Wraith murmured for the thousandth time as the sun set on the Manor, “Is he angry with me still? No,” she corrected herself, “If he were still displeased, he would make it more obvious. Perhaps he stays away out of spite. That would suit him.”

“My Lady?” Harper said gently.

Wraith did not reply. She had been murmuring to herself off and on for a good while now and he was becoming concerned. Clara had retreated to Harper’s room to try and get a little sleep, but they had agreed that at least one of them should remain with Wraith at all times.

With a heavy sigh, Harper crossed to where Wraith paced and took firm hold of her shoulder. She tensed, turning to face him.

“If you don’t stop pacing like this,” Harper told her, “I will bloody well tie you down. Sit,” he commanded, pointing to the couch.

Wraith stared at him blankly, but did as ordered. She sat on the edge of the couch, running hands through her hair in exasperation.

“You, my dearest Lady, worry too much,” Harper told her flatly as he sat beside her, “The Dark Lord will come around. He always does.”

“I cannot lose my hold on him, Harper,” Wraith said sharply, “This will all have been for nothing if he slips out of my grasp now. I’m so close—”

"You've lost nothing," Harper assured her, "He's far too caught up in you now, my Lady. He's not going to cast you aside. He needs you too much."

Wraith turned her head to look at him. "You believe so?"

"I do," Harper said simply, "So, stop worrying."

Wraith smirked, the bitter expression the closest thing he'd seen to a smile from her in hours.

Harper reached over and took her hand in his, holding it tight. "Why don't you go have a nice relaxing bath?" he suggested, "Empty your mind for a little while."

"I like the idea of that," Wraith said with a sigh. "Okay," she said after a moment, "Go spend a little time with Clara, Antony. I'll take that bath and then settle down for the night."

Harper kissed her hand and stood up. "Call if you need anything," he said.

"Of course," she replied.

Wraith laid back in the soothingly hot water, breathing in the soft scents of the rose and sage she'd added to the bath. All was quiet around her. Between the sweet silence and the comfort of the water, Wraith found that she was able to do as Harper had suggested and empty her mind. For just a little while, she did not think of the Dark Lord, or the Death Eaters and everyone else who feared her. She did not think of all that she had learned about her origins. She did not think of Edwin.

Strangely, in the emptiness of her mind, she heard a distant melody: The same song that had been haunting her since Hogwarts. She vaguely recalled trying to write it out in the blank songbook Snape had given her for Christmas, but it had never come easily. It wasn't a song for piano. Wraith thought she heard strings, but it didn't sound like any instrument she'd ever heard before. She could not place it. She began to hum the melody idly, twirling her fingers in the water around her.

Wraith very nearly slipped into sleep, but the Dark Lord's presence outside the door shattered her calm completely. She tensed, her eyes going to the door that she had locked. Should she unlock it? Why did he not knock?

Wraith waited, unmoving in the bath. Though she was loath to give it up, she sent a small spark of power along their bond, offering a silent invitation. There was a click as the bathroom door unlocked and Voldemort stepped inside. Wraith looked up at him, wondering why at last he had come to see her.

Voldemort considered her, rather surprised that she had not greeted him with her usually glib tongue. "Are you finished?" he asked her. Wraith nodded silently. "Then stand," he ordered.

He reached for a folded towel as Wraith carefully climbed out of the water. She held her arms out so that Voldemort could wrap the towel around her torso.

Taking clear advantage of his proximity, Wraith took his face in her hands and brought his lips to hers. Voldemort breathed in the scent of her, wrapping one arm around her waist and twisting the other hand in her hair. Wraith slipped her arms around the back of his neck and clung even when he pulled his mouth from hers to catch his breath.

For a long moment, they stood in the circle of each other's arms. Wraith ran a hand down his cheek, as close as she could be to him.

"Please tell me that you forgive me," she whispered pleadingly.

Voldemort smiled and it infuriated Wraith to see such arrogance in him. But she did not let her ire show; she did not dare. "My pet," the Dark Lord murmured, "Have you missed me then?"

Wraith felt her lips twist into a mix of a smile and snarl. "Keep talking," she warned, "and I'll end up bleeding you again."

"Ah, there is my sweet-tongued pet," Voldemort murmured, "I'd wondered where you had gone." In a swift motion, Voldemort caught her up in his arms. "Is your tower empty?"

"Yes," Wraith said after a moment's check to be sure. She grinned and nipped gently at his ear since it was within reach.

Voldemort hissed, but carried her from the bathroom and up the tower steps without scolding her. Wraith risked a little more precious power to get the door open as they reached it and Voldemort shouldered it closed once they were inside. He all but threw her back onto the bed and she laughed delightedly. She pulled off the towel as Voldemort drew off his robes, both articles ending up on the floor. Voldemort crawled over her on the bed and Wraith drew him into her arms. Nothing more was spoken between them for some time after.

Wraith lay quietly in the circle of Voldemort's arms, idly running gentle fingers up and down his shoulder. Voldemort was all but falling asleep, well sated after the days of denying not only his Wraith, but himself of the pleasure of her company.

"You had me worried for a while there," Wraith admitted, lightly touching her lips to the hollow of his throat.

"That had been my intention," he replied, "But then it occurred to me that I have never denied myself anything, so why should I do so now?"

Wraith laughed under her breath and tilted her head back to press her mouth to his. "I give thanks for your voracity," she murmured around a cheshire smile.

They slipped into silence again, Wraith tucking her head at the crook of his shoulder. He did not usually like it when she clung and it was only in sleep that he clung to her. And yet…he held her close now. Had he truly missed being with her? Was Harper right? —Did he well and truly need her? The thought made her smile—and it was not a kind expression.

Wraith felt his hand drift up and down her side and she felt him sigh. "I've had a selfish thought," she told him softly.

"Not unusual," Voldemort replied wryly, "Share it, pet."

"I…You told me that you approve of my plan for the future," she reminded him, sitting up slightly so that she could see his face, "I've been thinking that there is something else this plan gives us that the original did not."

"What is it?" Voldemort asked.

"I know you've no need for an heir," Wraith said, her words a little rushed and nervous, "and you dislike the idea of someone of my power and your blood combined, but—"

Her voice trailed off and Voldemort frowned at her, pushing himself up so that his head was above hers. He touched a hand to her chin and lifted her eyes to meet his.

"What are you asking for, my Wraith?"

"…A child," she whispered, "your child. Someday."

Voldemort said nothing. The silence seemed to stretch on forever and Wraith was quite ready to curse herself for playing her hand too soon. But Voldemort looked to her completely shell-shocked. Whatever he had been expecting, it certainly hadn't been that.

"I have never considered having a child," he told her at last.

"I understand that," Wraith said quickly, "But here's the beauty of the situation: No one will know who fathered my children, not even the children need know. If you give me a child, he would never need know that you are his father. You could raise him to power, you could watch your blood and the blood of Slytherin thrive, and you wouldn't have to worry about him trying to take your place. You could even, if you wanted, give it a few generations and then reveal their ancestry."  She tilted her head to the side, her eyes narrowed dangerously as Voldemort’s silence crept on. “…Are you not at all curious to see what a child of your blood could do?”

Voldemort looked at her sharply, hearing the absolute challenge in her voice. “It would be…interesting to see,” he said at last, “Why is this something you want?” he asked her.

“I am a selfish creature,” she said wryly, “I want a piece of you.”

“You want a bargaining chip to use against me.”

“The thought crossed my mind,” Wraith admitted freely, “But it was just as quickly dismissed. You would not lower yourself so to have your blood used against you. I want to see what the mixing our bloodlines could accomplish.”

“I will think on it,” Voldemort told her. He rose from the bed to dress.

“Thank you.”

He glanced at her as he pulled on his robes. “It is rare that someone surprises me,” he said, “You have.”

Wraith smirked in reply and shrugged lightly. “Will my children be like me?” she asked, “Will each be a Mage?”

“That is unlikely,” Voldemort told her, “The Magi of the past were rare, sometimes only appearing once in a generation.”

“Then there is a chance that your child would not be a threat.”

“Yes, there is that chance,” he agreed, “We’re done speaking of this, pet.”

“As you wish,” Wraith said slowly, “My Lord.”

Voldemort paused a moment more before he turned and left her alone in the tower. Wraith smiled slowly, sharply, as she lay back down in her bed. She stretched out like an entitled cat, all but purring. No, it won’t be much longer now. I will have my freedom…and Voldemort himself will hand me the keys to my cage.

Several days later, Clara woke Wraith with tea. Wraith blinked to see the older girl awake before her and then she glanced out of the window to see the sun shining with mid-morning light. She lay back on the bed, groaning.

“You’re still sleeping late,” Clara said, sitting on the bed, a cup of coffee in her hand, “How are you feeling?”

“Not quite as tired as I was yesterday,” Wraith answered bitterly, “I don’t think I’d realized how much he took from me. It’s been a week, Clare, and I’m still not back to full strength.”

“At least you’ve managed to keep the Dark Lord ensnared,” Clara said, “You’ve woven yourself right back into his graces. I can’t think of anybody else who could make him that angry and live to find his forgiveness.”

“Hm,” Wraith murmured, staring up at the ceiling, “It is a fine thin line to tread…between the Dark Lord’s anger and his interest.”

“You tread it well,” Clara offered softly.

Wraith sighed, turning her head to see Clara’s face. She smiled just slightly. “I’m glad you’re here, Clare.”

Clara grinned, “So am I,” she admitted, “Who’d turn down front row seats to the destabilizing of the most powerful wizard on the earth?”

Wraith shook her head, sitting up and taking the tea Clara had brought. She sat quietly for a few minutes, trying to clear her head. Her mind felt heavy, her blood seemed to simmer hotly beneath her skin. It took that quiet contemplation to realize that she was angry. Terrible and vicious fury was burning in her, like water set to a long slow boil.

“Hm,” she murmured the sound, as if she had made a simple curious discovery.

“What is it?” Clara asked, sipping at her coffee.

“I’m furious, Clare,” Wraith said simply, “I am absolutely furious with him for what he’s done. I thought my anger would have faded a bit, but it is still there, just as strong.”

“I’d say that understandable,” Clara replied softly. She felt a touch of disquiet at the calm, practical tone of Wraith’s voice.

“Where is Harper?” Wraith asked, noticing that he was not there with them.

“Well, he might still be asleep,” Clara said coyly, “He was up rather late last night.”

Wraith blinked and then burst into delighted laughter. Oh, Clara, you didn’t!”

“Damn right I did,” Clara said with a proud tilt of her head, “and damn if it wasn’t good.”

“Oh, good gods,” Wraith said, shaking her head. She sighed, fighting the urge to keep laughing. “Well, if you wouldn’t mind waking him…?”

“Be happy to,” Clara said, bouncing up. She leaned down and kissed Wraith’s cheek. “I’ll bring him up.”

Clara dragged Harper up to the tower and Wraith couldn’t help but be delighted at the slightly sheepish look on his face. Neither she nor Clare brought up the previous night however, giving him a bit of a reprieve. The three sat together at one of the windows, speaking of nothing of importance. It was times like this that Wraith was so terribly grateful for them both. Their company, their friendship…it kept her human.

“Are you feeling any better?” Harper asked her after a little while.

“Slightly,” Wraith replied, looking out the window rather than at either of her friends, “I’ve a ways to go yet, unfortunately.”

Clara moved to sit beside Wraith at the window. “You look a bit better,” Clara told her, “But also tired. Is he letting you get any sleep?”

Wraith smirked, “Enough of it. Truthfully, I’d go without sleep entirely if it ensured he remained in my influence.”

“How close do you think you are to being free of him?” Clara asked in a whisper.

“Very,” Wraith replied with a sharp sort of smile, “We’re talking of a few months at most, I think. I’ve a few more seeds to plant in mind, but I’m close enough that I can taste it. And I will be free.”

“Free to find Edwin,” Clara said.

“Free to build a life,” Wraith said, “The life I want with him. I miss him so much, Clare.”

“I know,” Clara murmured, moving to touch her hand to Wraith’s pale cheek.

“My Lady,” Harper interrupted gently, “I’ve a question to ask you.”

Wraith glanced over at him, surprised by his caution. “You should know by now that you can ask me anything,” Wraith told him, “What is it?”

“Clara mentioned your temper,” Harper said, “and that you feel as if it’s growing worse. Care to elaborate?”

Wraith was not quick with her answer. For a few minutes, she contemplated the question and the own heat of her blood. “I’ve always had a short temper,” she murmured, “A vicious one, really. But since the encounter with Grindelwald, I’ve realized how much worse it is. At first, I thought it was Grindelwald naming me for what I was that sparked it—but it wasn’t that. This anger has been building, burning, ever since I found that room beneath the dungeons. Whatever it was that I found there woke something up inside me. And that something is angry with the world and everything in it. I’ve been tempted by it a time or two to burn this place to the ground around me.”

“Have you spoken to Snape about this?” Harper asked.

“Not really,” Wraith murmured, “but he knows, nonetheless.” She sighed deeply, closing her eyes. “I have to stay aware of it, this anger. I’m rather afraid that in my temper, I will let something slip to the Dark Lord and everything I’ve worked for will be for nothing.”

Clara, still pale from Wraith’s description of the underlying fury, drew the girl closer and kissed her cheek. “You should rest while you can,” she said simply, “He’ll no doubt want to see you tonight.”  

Voldemort lifted his eyes from the heavy tome set before him. “My Lady,” he murmured, “You seem revived.”

“I’m feeling much so, my Lord,” Wraith said, leaning her hip against the edge of his desk, “Are you busy?” she asked, reaching out to brush her fingertips along the weathered page of his book, “Should I come back later?”

“No,” Voldemort said, “This is getting me nowhere in any case.” He shut the book with a heavy thud and Wraith caught sight of the title, written in faded gilded letters.

“Reading up on the enemy, are we?”

“Grindelwald has quite the colorful past,” Voldemort said with the slightest sneer.

“Seems especially so when you consider that he was once the best of friends with Albus Dumbledore,” Wraith said dryly, “Did you ever read that Skeeter woman’s book?”

“No,” Voldemort replied, sitting back, “I admit, I had no interest. Dumbledore is dead and gone and can do me no more harm.”

So you think. Wraith smiled slowly, “Actually, I picked up the book just today. I was curious when my Clara told me of Dumbledore’s connection to Grindelwald. I wondered if the connection could be of use in manipulating the old dog.”

“As I’ve told you before, pet, Grindelwald is not your concern.”

“But, my Lord, he is your concern—and your concerns are mine.”

“A sweet sentiment, dear one.”

“And a practical one,” Wraith added, moving closer.

“Practical?” Voldemort murmured skeptically as he slipped a hand up to her waist, “How so?”

“My fate is tied to you,” Wraith said, slipping down to sit in his lap, “As you rise, so shall I. If you were to fall…well. Best to be aware of your enemies, my Lord and love, for they are also mine.”

“I suppose I see the logic in that,” Voldemort said.

“And Grindelwald is a special case,” Wraith continued, “For he has an interest in me. It would be foolish not to be concerned with that.”

Voldemort’s face darkened at the thought. Wraith tilted her head to the side, leaning forward just enough to brush her lips over his. “We could use that,” she whispered, “should other avenues fail you. I do not object to being ‘bait’ to bring that interfering bastard to heel.”

“My dear pet…so very…practical,” Voldemort said slowly.

Wraith smiled sharply and deepened the kiss between them. “Take me upstairs,” she told him, “I find I have a need for you.”

“Terribly convenient,” Voldemort replied, taking her up into his arms as he stood, “I find I have a need for you as well.”

Wraith stretched and curled like a contented cat beside the Dark Lord, a twinge of bloodlust still slithering through her. Voldemort sat up, reaching back to touch the scratches on his shoulders, trailing down his back in painful lines.

“You’ve marked me again, pet.”

“I was in a mood to,” Wraith told him with a wicked smile, “You were of a similar mood, so don’t bother snapping at me.” She turned to lie on her stomach and Voldemort saw the fading bruises along the lines of her hips. He touched a gentle hand to the shadows that marred the pale skin, his eyes thoughtful. “If I didn’t heal like I did, I’d probably be in a bit of pain right now,” Wraith told him wryly, turning back on her side. Something dark glittered in her eyes. “Something to consider in the future, I suppose.”

“What is that?” Voldemort asked, intrigued by the glint in her eyes.

“My tolerance,” Wraith replied coyly.

Voldemort’s eyes narrowed even as he smiled. He moved smoothly over the bed, pinning her down. “Dangerous path to consider, pet,” he whispered in her ear, “to give me permission to hurt you.”

“It’s not as if lack of permission has ever stopped you before.”

“But still…” His teeth closed over her ear and Wraith felt the sharp quick pain.

“My Lord,” she said, turning to catch his mouth with hers, “You are my pain. It’s all tied up with you. There’s no point in denying that.” She bit down on his lip slightly and shifted her hips beneath him in invitation, “So why bother?”

“Why indeed?” Voldemort whispered, slipping inside her again. He took pleasure in the way her eyes clouded over and the hitching breath in her throat. He marked her throat with his teeth, almost drawing blood, but holding back at the last moment. Her nails traced the fresh lines in his skin, sending small waves of pain to mix with the pleasure.

His Wraith’s contented smile went sharp and dangerous just before he found himself on his back beneath her. She leaned down, but as her lips brushed his, she cried out in sudden pain. She pushed away from him, grasping her left arm to her chest. Voldemort felt the Mark burn the moment she had and he screamed a curse.

Moving swiftly, he rolled out of the bed and dressed. Wraith was only a second behind him. Information had come through the Dark Mark that could not be ignored. The Order had finally come out of hiding again, launching an attack on one of their smaller bases, no doubt an attempt to free the prisoners being held there.

“We have to move quickly,” Voldemort said as the pair of them headed down the twisting steps of his tower, “If Potter is there, you find him and bring him to me. Do you understand?”

“Yes, my Lord,” Wraith replied.

In the entrance hall waited the Death Eaters in residence, Harper among them. Wraith used a small spark of her magic and the color of her dress faded to a pale snowy white as she and Voldemort descended the stair to meet them.

“Leave no survivors,” Voldemort commanded of them, “It is time to bring this to an end.”    

They Apparated right into the middle of a battle. Voldemort sank to the ground to avoid a bright lit curse, which Wraith caught in her hand and threw back at the caster. She grinned when she saw that it was Ron Weasley. The rebounded curse missed him by almost nothing and he lifted his wand to cast another. But the sight of the Wraith smiling at him made him stop. He scowled and threw a curse at another Death Eater. This curse hit its mark and the masked man fell to the ground.

Ron looked back to the Wraith, who raised a brow and gave him a nod of respect. He took the chance she offered and disappeared into the mob.

Wraith offered a hand to her Lord, her eyes searching the battle for certain faces. Voldemort took her hand and stood. “Find him,” Voldemort hissed.

Wraith turned her head, staring at him. Slowly, she smiled. “I shall bring him to you presently, my Lord,” she told him.

She slipped away from him, ignoring both sides of the battle as she wove her way through it. She did, however, pay attention to where they were. She saw the shadowed ruin of a house at the edge of the trees, made note of the gravel and dirt that served as the battleground, and saw the cliff not twenty feet away from the fight.

Her eyes of the cliff, she failed to sense the figure behind her until the shot rang out. Wraith hissed as a bullet grazed her arm and she spun to see Fred Weasley. She smiled, despite the fact that he was aiming a gun at her, and held her hands up. “Hello, Fred,” she greeted.

“Where is my father?” he demanded, no trace of the playful air Wraith had become accustomed to.

“He’s alive,” Wraith told him, “if that helps.”

Fred took a few steps closer, “And my brother? Bill?”

“He’s fine,” Wraith replied lightly, “Well, besides being locked up in a dungeon.” She tilted her head to the side, her smile faltering just slightly. “You going to shoot me, Fred?”

“Is there any reason I shouldn’t?” Fred asked her, something in his voice telling her that he meant the question truthfully. He wanted an answer.

“…No,” Wraith whispered.

Fred closed his eyes and pulled the trigger—only to have the gun turn to dust in his hand before it fire. Fred blinked at his empty hand and looked to the Wraith—but she was already gone. He muttered a curse, part of him very relieved. He did not like guns.

Wraith slipped like a shadow along the tree line, her eyes and power searching the battle for one singular face. She had already seen Ron Weasley, it was only a matter of time before she’d find his friend.

“Wraith!” She stopped, turning suddenly to see Minerva McGonagall a yard behind her. Something in the way the woman had shouted her name made Wraith curious. She darted into the shadows beneath the trees, trusting that McGonagall would follow her.

A short distance from the battle, Wraith paused, glancing back. McGonagall remained a ways away, her movements betraying her hesitation to be any closer. “Evening,” Wraith said simply, “I got the impression that you wished to speak.”

“I do,” McGonagall said. She glanced back towards the battle and then crossed the distance between her and Wraith. “I had an interesting conversation with Rosaline Fallon.”

“Oh?” Wraith replied, raising a brow.

“She introduced me to an old family friend.”

Wraith blinked slowly. “…You know the truth of me,” she whispered.

“I know what they told me,” McGonagall retorted, “Whether I believe them or not, well…”

Wraith laughed, grinning ear to ear. “Give me but a little more time, Minerva, and I will prove them truthful,” she promised, “I only need play this part for a little longer.”

“Why play the part at all?” McGonagall asked her, “If you are truly against him, then why do you remain by his side?”

“And in his bed?” Wraith asked in return.

“Yes,” McGonagall agreed, looking very disquieted, “that too.”

“The Dark Lord has a hold on me, Minerva,” Wraith told her plainly, “a hold upon my power, my very life. I must break that hold before I show him my true colors.”

“Your very life?”

“He could kill me with a thought,” Wraith said, “and no, I’m not exaggerating.”

“I see,” McGonagall murmured.

“But hear this, Minerva,” Wraith said then, “When I leave Voldemort, I will not leave alone. I’ll be bringing friends,” she added with another cheshire grin, before she turned on her heel and disappeared.

Wraith returned to the battlefield, hidden from sight. She moved through the crowd like a ghost until at last, she came to the one person she had been searching for. Potter was locked in battle with Rodolphus Lestrange, holding his own, but faltering. Voldemort had not seen him yet. Wraith moved quickly, grabbing hold of the collar of Potter’s jacket and pulling him with great force away from the duel.

Potter went skidding along the gravel and rocks, putting distance between him and the rest of the battle. He shook himself and started to rise, only stopping when he saw Wraith standing before him.

“Hello, Harry,” she said brightly, “I’ve been looking for you.”

“I’ll bet,” Harry muttered. Moving very slowly, he stood, dusting himself off.

“Pity about that dragon,” Wraith told him, “You came so very close.”

Harry blinked at her. “Close to what?”

“Play the fool then,” Wraith said, amused, “but we both know the truth.”

Harry glanced around, trying to get his footing again. They weren’t far from the cliff—could he use that to his advantage? “The only truth I care about right now is the truth about how to kill you,” Harry snapped at her.

“So vicious,” Wraith said lightly, “Why the venom, Chosen One?”

“You murdered Kingsley,” he snarled.

“Did I?” Wraith replied. She tilted her head to one side, smiling slowly, “Well, I suppose if there is one thing I understand, it is that driving need for vengeance. Tell you what, Chosen One, you can take that pistol from your pocket and I’ll give you a fighting chance with it.”

Harry’s eyes widened briefly before he narrowed them. Moving slowly, he pulled the pistol from his jacket, but he did not raise it. “Still playing a game, aren’t you? Do you ever take anything seriously?”

Wraith’s smile went sharp and cold. “You have seen, with your own eyes, rather compelling evidence that there are a few things I take very seriously.”

Memories flashed in front of Harry’s vision. Hogwarts, Snape lying prone on the ground, Wraith kneeling at his side, guarding him; Azkaban, Gavin’s mad tongue and bloodied face, the tears in her eyes…

“What if I don’t want to play your game?”

Wraith raised a brow, smirking. “What? Because you have such a plethora of options otherwise?”

Harry was silent for a breath and then he raised the gun, pulling the trigger before he could change his mind. Wraith dodged the bullet, falling to the ground and rolling. Harry had the gun on her as she rose to her feet again, but Wraith moved smoothly as water, slapping right around him before he could fire a second time. He felt her fingertips graze the back of his neck and he spun, but Wraith closed her hand around his wrist, forcing the barrel of the gun up towards the sky. Harry struggled against her hold, but could not break it.

“You amaze me sometimes,” Wraith murmured.

The gentle tone of her voice unnerved Harry. He met her eyes and saw not a trace of animosity. “What are you talking about?” he demanded.

“You’ll never stop fighting, will you?” she asked him in turn, “Something tells me that not even death would stop you fighting him. Voldemort could not have chosen a more worthy opponent and choose you he did.”

“What do you know about it?”

“A great deal,” Wraith replied, “Don’t forget, Chosen One, he is in both our heads.”

“What do you want from me?”

Wraith opened her mouth to answer, but suddenly she released him, turning around to face the battle. “My Lord!” she cried out, slipping down to one knee, “No!”

Harry took a step back, bewildered by the shock and disbelief in her voice. He lifted his eyes to the press of the battle and saw Voldemort, battling fiercely with McGonagall, the both of them exchanging curses so swiftly that the night was lit like day around them. As Harry watched, Vincent Talbot moved into position behind the Dark Lord’s line of sight. There was a flash, unnoticed by both Voldemort and McGonagall in the wake of their own curses. The light from Talbot’s wand hit Voldemort in the center of his back and he screamed in sudden pain.

Harry felt a sweeping chill when the scream was echoed by Wraith. She curled in on herself, as if trying to hold the scream inside her. Voldemort threw off the curse and spun to face Talbot, the Killing Curse on his lips. But Talbot had slipped back into the crowd.

Don’t,” Wraith whispered, rising to her feet again, “Don’t you dare. Don’t do this again.”

Harry reached out, grabbing Wraith by her arm and spinning her around. “What is going on?’ he demanded.

Wraith looked at him with wide, unseeing eyes. But then her eyes flickered to the side and in a sudden motion, she pushed Harry backwards, turning to see Bellatrix approaching. Harry tumbled, landing hard on his back as the cliff’s very edge. He sat up, watching in confusion as Wraith slowly backed away from Bellatrix, her wary eyes darting between the witch and Voldemort, who still locked in battle with McGonagall.

“Stand aside, Bella,” Wraith warned the witch, “Potter is mine to deliver to our Lord, not yours.”

“We’ll see about that,” Bellatrix spat at the girl.

Wraith raised her hand towards Bellatrix, but then she let out a gasping breath and swayed where she stood. “No,” she whispered. With one last horrified look in Voldemort’s direction, she shuddered as the first taste of pain flashed through her.

Harry started to rise, not wanting any part of whatever was going on between the Wraith and Bellatrix. But he found himself frozen in pain when the scream was ripped from Wraith’s throat. He watched in horror as she fell to her knees, still screaming.

Bellatrix also seemed transfixed by the Wraith’s sudden and encompassing agony, but then the woman smiled and pulled a dagger from her belt, taking a single step towards her. “You’re mine now,” Bellatrix whispered harshly.

But Wraith raised her gaze to the woman and something bright flashed in the air in between them. Bellatrix fell back with a sharp cry, with Wraith’s dagger buried in her shoulder. Wraith scampered backwards, away from the witch, her last defense gone, wasted now. She had no breath left to scream, though pain still ripped through her, as Voldemort stripped her of her power to fuel his own.

Bellatrix pulled the blade from her flesh, her dark eyes glittering with mirth and madness. “You missed,” the woman hissed at the Wraith. She threw the dagger to the ground and raised her wand instead, her eyes flickering towards Harry.

“Two birds,” Bellatrix cooed, “One stone.”

There was a bright flash of light and the ground shook beneath Harry’s feet. Before he could open his mouth to shout, the ground gave way beneath him and Wraith, the entire edge of the cliff falling down in the valley below. Harry fell, his mind blank with terror as the wind rushed around him, deafening him. But just as suddenly as he’d fallen into open air, he came to a sudden stop.

Unbelievingly, he lifted his eyes to see Wraith clinging to the cliff face with one hand, her other hand wrapped around his wrist. Blinking, Harry gripped her hand tight with his and tried to find purchase on the stone as well. His wand was gone, still on its way to the ground below.

“Hold on,” Wraith told him, her voice strained.

Harry felt her hand trembling in his, weakening… He looked up and met her eyes. There was a thin line of blood trickling down from her nose.

Every bone, every muscle, every inch of her screamed in silent pain, Voldemort was still tapping into her power, leaving nothing for her to save her own life with. “…I’m sorry,” she whispered to Harry.

Her hand slipped from the cliff face and once more they fell. They rushed down towards the canopy of treetops and Harry felt the cold numbing truth of his impending death. There was nothing, no way of slowly the fall, no way of avoiding the cold hard ground below. He closed his eyes.

But a mere twenty feet from the ground, he hit a soft cloud of air, gradually bringing an end to the fall. It held him up for a moment and then he found himself gently tumbling to the ground. He rolled down a hill of dirt and ended up with a mouthful of it. He spat, shaking his head to clear it. He jumped in his skin when he heard land with a thump nearby. He looked over to see Wraith tumbling down the hill of dirt, coming to a stop at the bottom. But unlike Harry, she did not stir.

Harry hesitated, unsure of what to do. Something caught his eye a little ways into the trees and he felt his knees go weak with relief when he saw his wand. He dashed over to the cluster of rocks where it had landed and snatched it up, checking for damages. It was banged up, but there were no cracks in the holly that he could see. Comforted now that he was no longer entirely helpless, he slowly edged closer to where the Wraith lay.

Looking down at her, he studied the bloody mess that was her face. The blood from her nosebleed had smeared in the dirt across her face and there was a fresh line of blood at the corner of her mouth. Harry knelt, reaching out to gently touch her face. She felt cold as ice to the touch and he swallowed back his fear. He took a breath to steady himself and touch a hand to her neck, feeling for a pulse. His breath escaped him in a sigh of relief when he felt the unsteady beating of it. It was weak, but it was there.

“… Wraith?” he said softly, “Wraith, can you hear me?”

Her eyelids fluttered and she stirred slightly. “…Wand…?” she whispered hoarsely, “…your wand?”

“I have it,” Harry told him, lifting it so she could see.

“Then…run,” she whispered, “before…before they find you.”

But Harry didn’t move. “You…You saved my life,” he said incredulously, “…Why?”

“You’re…not…finished yet,” Wraith whispered, her eyes opening to bore into his, “You’ve work…left …to do…Chosen One…so…go do it…”

Harry stared down at her, stunned into silence. Then his mouth firmed into a thin line and he nodded.

Wraith felt herself smile slightly as he stood and disappeared into the trees. She felt the distant touch of his magic when he Disapparated. Satisfied, she slipped into unconsciousness.
I'm back bitches!

Expect another chapter soon.

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Alikuma Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I LOVE YOU :eyepopping:
ANiteOwl Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
All righty, now that I've relatively processed's review time!

I had nearly forgotten what a terrific writer you are. Brilliant work as always, my dear friend. Although I had forgotten a couple of details, it all fell right back into place as I started reading. And because I've missed her so, I have to say - I absolutely love Wraith. She is such a fantastic and fascinating character...quite the temper too it seems, and I love her all the more for it. ;)

I'm very glad that she seems to have sunk her roots deeply into Voldemort. I don't doubt that she could have him all but wrapped around her finger in a few months time but, call it the pessimist in me, I have this terrible feeling that her plan isn't quite going to pan out. Granted, she might broach the topic in a way that ultimately convinces Voldemort that severing their bond would be for the better - I suspect her "desire" to have his child might play into that somehow - but I think that's probably the one thing he would be completely unwilling to give her.

And speaking of Voldemort, I can't believe he wasn't all at interested in reading about Dumbledore's back story, especially considering he was once best friends with Grindelwald. To each his own I guess. :greetings:

Needless to say, this was a fantastic chapter and I'm anxious to find out what happens next! I'm sure you won't disappoint. It's great to have you back! :huggle:
ANiteOwl Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Took you long enough. ;) Where have you been woman??
Ravens-Death Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
okay now that that's settled here's my official review/comment:

I'd have to say I'm very impressed by the Wraith, she's dug herself so deep in him that he considers her something to desire. Now this is beyond the norm of desire, it's a need and that need plays so well into her hands. However, I'm still confused as hell by her notions around her she simply trying to post-pone a marriage or ignore it completely; I vote the latter. His expression around this subject is priceless :rofl:
I, like Wraith, am ridiculously grateful for Harper and Clara; as I've said before, the mask she wears is getting too snug, too tight, and I think their companionship keeps that mask from sticking to her skin. Though, with recent events as they are the mask might as well be damned and nearly pried off.

Why does it not surprise me that Bellatrix still holds bloodlust towards Wraith? I have a feeling the death eater will be greatly punished once Wraith tattles. In the mean time, I don't understand ol' Voldie's logic. Why strip Wraith of her power in the middle of a battle - again! - and expect her still to find Harry, incapacitate him and then bring the boy to him???? It doesn't make sense, but then again Voldemort is - unfortunately like Wraith - selfish, his fear of death and failure matching that selfishness. I pity the girl hear, and I could almost hear the gear turning in the Order's head.

I feel like Wraith still has a long road ahead of her, but with the outcome of the battle to be had, this is the perfect excuse Wraith could use to have Voldemort sever their connection, or at least come up with a plan in order for him to believe that if he calls she comes. A trained tiger by his side, my pet :)

An excellent chapter to read and I'm honestly happy to see you back at the computer writing. I've always enjoyed a good story and this is definitely one that doesn't disappoint. :iconbravoplz: Excited and a little nervous to read the next chapter, don't tease me love, its not kind ;)
Ravens-Death Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
YAYYYYYY!!!! IM SO FLIPPING HAPPY!!! :iconspazplz:
TMZai Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for not giving up on me. :hug:
Ravens-Death Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll be here... Always :iconsnapereturnsplz: ;)
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