Dawn set off for her afternoon jog. The warm spring weather had melted the last of the snow away, buds were appearing on the branches of the trees, birds were singing. It was an all round beautiful day. She had spent much of the winter doing her jogging indoors. Running up and down the many stairways and corridors inside the castle had certainly given her a good workout, but she was glad for the return of the warm weather that let her out into the fresh air.
It was even a little warmer than she had expected, and half a mile into her run she took off the sweatshirt she was wearing over her t-shirt, and knotted its arms around her hips before continuing.
Harry looked toward the stands and frowned. Dawn still wasn’t there. She nearly always came here to watch the end of their Quidditch practice at the end of her runs. He shrugged to himself. No doubt she had gone off to the library or something, to do some more research on the Key, or there was that essay that they had to do for Professor Snape. He grimaced at the thought. It was due tomorrow, and he hadn’t even got started on it yet. That’s probably what she was doing. He’d see her at dinner.
“Have you seen Dawn?” Harry asked Hermione as they sat down at the Gryffindor table.
“Not since she left for her run.”
Harry looked across the hall to the Slytherin table. “Blaise is here, so I doubt if she’s working on her Potions assignment.” He looked around the table. “Has anyone seen Dawn?” he asked.
There was a general chorus of ‘No’s and head shakes from everyone around him. Harry got up again. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
Harry ran up the stairs to Gryffindor tower. “Dawn!” he called as he entered the common room. He didn’t get any answer. He went to the stairway that led to the girls’ rooms. “Dawn, are you up there?” he shouted. He still didn’t get an answer. He was starting to have a very bad feeling about this. He ran up to his room, and pulled the Marauder’s Map out of his trunk.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” he said as he touched his wand to the map. He started to search it for Dawn’s name. It didn’t take long. Nearly everyone was in the Great Hall for dinner. He scanned over every floor looking for her name. He couldn’t find it anywhere.
Harry ran back into the Great Hall. He looked toward his friends at the Gryffindor table, and saw that there were still two empty seats there. Ron met his gaze and answered his silent question with a shrug. Harry ran to the high table.
“What is it Harry?” asked Professor Dumbledore.
“It’s Dawn,” said Harry breathlessly. “She’s missing.”
“Are you sure?”
Harry put the Marauder’s Map down on the table in front of him. “See for yourself! She’s nowhere in the school!”
Dawn groaned and lifted her hand to her aching head. The last thing she remembered, she was running along the path by the Forbidden Forest. Now she was lying on something hard, and she was aware of a flickering light through her closed eyelids. She was also cold. She had been sweating from her jog, and now she was lying somewhere in a dank dungeon, shivering from the cold sweat still clinging to her skin. Dawn didn’t have to open her eyes to know she was in some sort of dungeon. The musty smell, and the dank feel to the air were enough to convince her of that, but she still felt that it would be best to open her eyes and confirm it.
She cracked her eyes open. “Yep, it’s a dungeon,” she told herself. The stone walls around her were stained by seeping water. The flickering light was coming from a torch. A torch that was on the other side of a barred door. Dawn was in a cell barely six feet on a side.
“Well, well, well,” said a voice from somewhere outside her cage. “The mudblood is finally awake.”
Dawn considered pretending that she was still unconscious, but decided that she had already given herself away, so she sat up instead. This almost had the effect of knocking her out again. Her head swam for several seconds from the change in position. She rubbed her temples with her fingers. “Ow! Have you got any Aspirin?”
“Shut up, mudblood,” said the voice. “The only thing I want to hear from you is the location of the Key!”
Dawn looked up through the bars. She was sitting on the cold stone floor of the cell. She could see someone standing outside in black hooded robes, his face covered by a mask. She felt it was probably best to play stupid. “What key? I don’t know anything about any keys.”
A crystal sphere in the man’s hand flashed red. He held it out toward her. “Don’t bother lying, mudblood. The Veriloquus Sphere knows when you lie!”
“You are the ugliest wizard in the world!” Dawn sniffed at the air. “And you stink too!” The sphere in his hand glowed green. “Huh, I guess it can recognize the truth when it hears it.”
The Death Eater snarled and raised his wand. Dawn started to think that maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to make that crack. “Crucio!”
Ginny was a little out of breath when she arrived in Dumbledore’s office. She had run all the way back from Gryffindor tower. Dumbledore and Lupin were there, along with Harry, Ron and Hermione. “Dawn must have her phone with her,” she said while panting for breath. “I sent an email to Buffy, and copies to Willow and Mr. Giles. One of them should get it soon.”
“Thank you, Ginny,” said Dumbledore.
“What now?” asked Harry. “We have to find her!”
“We are endeavouring to do so,” said Dumbledore calmly. He looked toward the entrance to his office.
Hagrid was filling the door. “Yer wanted ta see me, Professor?”
“Yes, Hagrid. I understand that Miss Summers often stops to chat with you on her runs.”
“That she do, Professor.”
“Did you speak to her today?”
“No Professor, I didn’t see her,” said Hagrid. “Little Trei was rather disappointed.”
Dumbledore conjured up a map of the Hogwarts grounds in the air in front of him. He started to draw on it with the tip of his wand. “She was seen leaving the castle, and several people observed her as she was running beside the lake. She was last seen here.” He drew a red ‘X’ near the southern end of the lake, near the narrow fringe of trees that separated the castle grounds from the rail line. “She never reached Hagrid’s hut.” He drew another ‘X’ on it. “That means she disappeared somewhere along here.” He swept a line along the southern border of the grounds, and up along the edge of the Forbidden Forest, to Hagrid’s hut. “Most likely about here.” He drew another ‘X’ in the south-eastern corner of the grounds.
“Why there?” asked Ron.
“There’s a bit o’ a dip there,” said Hagrid. “It’s hidden from the castle. No one would be able to see anythin’ from here.”
“Yes,” said Dumbledore. “Hagrid, I want you to start there, and search northward, toward your hut. I want you to look for any sign of Miss Summers, or anyone who may have been lurking there to ambush her.”
“Yes, Professor.” Hagrid ducked his head, and quickly left the office.
Dumbledore turned to Professor Lupin. “Remus, I want you to go to London. Talk with Kingsley. Find out everything he knows about possible places where Death Eaters may be holding Miss Summers. Find out anything new he may have learned from the men who tried to kidnap her last month.”
Dawn screamed from the pain coursing through her body. It was worse than anything she had ever imagined, like her bones were on fire, and thousands of hornets were stinging her skin. She couldn’t think of anything but the pain. Part of her knew that it had only been a few seconds, but she couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t in pain.
It stopped as suddenly as it had started. She was lying in the floor in her cell, trembling uncontrollably. She couldn’t control her muscles.
“Where is the Key?” asked the Death Eater outside her cell.
He raised his wand again. “Crucio!”
“What can we do, Professor?” asked Harry.
“I’m afraid that there is little we can do right now, Harry.”
“I have to do something!” Harry nearly shouted. “Help Hagrid at least.”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, Harry. The centaurs barely tolerate Hagrid in the forest these days. I can not risk you there.”
“You think that the centaurs may have had something to do with this?” asked Ron.
“No,” said Dumbledore. “If Miss Summers had ventured into the forest, I do not doubt that they would have chased her out, but they wouldn’t harm her, and they wouldn’t come out onto the school grounds.”
“We can’t just stand here,” said Ron.
Dumbledore thought for a bit. “Very well. It is less likely, but we should cover all the possibilities.” He pointed to his map again. “I want you to search this area here, from where Hagrid is starting, west toward where Dawn was last seen by the lake. Whatever you do, stay out of the forest!”
Harry, Ron Hermione and Ginny all started toward the door. They heard a loud crack behind them and spun around again. Harry, Ron and Hermione all drew their wands. Ginny drew a long knife…not quite a sword. Ron relaxed a bit when he saw who had just arrived. Buffy had just Portkeyed in, and she’d brought Willow, Kennedy, and Mr. Giles. Willow and Mr. Giles had fallen on arrival, and Buffy and Kennedy were swaying a bit on their feet. He turned to his sister. “When did you start carrying that around?”
Ginny had made the knife disappear back into her robes. “I don’t, usually, but I thought I might need something. I picked it up after I sent the message to them.” She nodded toward the new arrivals.
“What happened?” Buffy was asking Dumbledore. “Where’s Dawn?”
“We do not, as yet, know the answer to either of those questions,” said Dumbledore.
“What do you know?” demanded Buffy.
“Very little,” said Dumbledore. “Your sister has not been seen since shortly after she left on her afternoon run.”
“You were supposed to keep her safe!”
“I know.” Harry could hear the deep sadness in Dumbledore’s voice. “And you have my deepest apology for my failure.”
Buffy stepped toward Dumbledore. Harry could see that she didn’t think his apology was good enough. Mr. Giles reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. “Buffy, wait.”
Buffy whirled around to glare at him. “Wait for what, Giles?”
“Anger will not help us get Dawn back,” said Giles. “You have to remain calm. Save your anger for those who took her, when we find them.”
Buffy closed her eyes, and clenched her fists. Harry could see that she wanted to hit someone…anyone. He was glad that he was on the far side of the room from her. After a few seconds she took a deep breath of air, and let it out. The killing tension seemed to leave her body with it, but Harry knew it was still there, barely concealed under the surface. “Alright. What are you doing to find her?”
“Hagrid is searching the perimeter of the Forbidden Forest, where it is most likely that Dawn was taken, for any clues to who may have abducted her. I have sent Remus to London to consult with the Aurors.” Dumbledore nodded toward Harry and his friends. “These students were about to leave to check the southern boundary of the school grounds, in case she was taken there.”
Buffy nodded toward Kennedy. “Go with them. Let me know if you find anything.”
“On it!” said Kennedy. She looked toward Harry. “Lead on, MacDuff.”
“Who’s MacDuff?” asked Ron as they left the office.
Dawn was brought back to consciousness by a spray of ice-cold water. She tried to recoil away from it, but there was nowhere to go in the tiny cell. She huddled on the floor, shivering from the cold and the pain.
“Where is the Key?” asked her tormenter.
“Don’t know,” mumbled Dawn. She tried to think, to clear enough of the fog from the pain and the cold from her mind to come up with something that could appease her tormenter, without giving away the secret of the Key. She saw the globe in the man’s hand glow red again.
“It is useless to lie to me,” said the man. He raised his wand again.
“No!” cried Dawn. “I’ll tell you! It’s…it’s…” She had a bit of an idea. She didn’t know if it would work. “Dumbledore said it was in his office!” The globe in the man’s hand glowed green, and Dawn felt a glimmer of hope. It reacted to the literal truth of what she was saying. Dumbledore had said that the Key was in his office.
“Where in his office?” asked the man.
“It…it moved around,” said Dawn. “Sometimes it was in different places.”
“What does it look like?” asked the man.
“Don’t know,” said Dawn. The globe flashed red. He raised his wand.
“No!” screamed Dawn. “It’s green! It’s green!” The red glow faded, and the globe shone green again. “It’s beautiful green, glowing, swirling energy,” she gasped out. She had heard several people describe the Key that way, after all.
“And it’s still in Dumbledore’s office?” asked the man.
“It was there last time I was there,” said Dawn.
The man looked at the glowing green orb in his hand. “Very good.” He turned away, and vanished down the corridor.
“Willow, can you find her?” asked Buffy.
“I can try,” said Willow, “but wherever she is, is probably shielded. My locater spells won’t work any better for her than they did for Ginny.”
“What about focusing on the Key?” asked Buffy. “Can you track it?”
“No,” said Willow. “The monks did good work, and they shielded the Key well. They didn’t want Glory tracking it with magic, and I can’t either.”
“What about her telephone?” asked Dumbledore. “Can you track it?”
“What?” asked Buffy.
“Dawn had her telephone with her when she was taken,” said Dumbledore. “That was why Miss Weasley had to contact you through her computer. Is it possible for Miss Rosenberg to trace Dawn’s telephone?”
“I don’t know,” said Willow. “I can’t trace it through the phone company: all our charmed phones look like they’re in Westbury to them. Her phone has a GPS receiver in it, but if she’s indoors, it probably won’t be able to receive the signals. I might be able to track her antenna. It’s magically linked to an antenna I snuck into a cell tower near our house…that’s why all our phones seem to be in Westbury to the phone company. Give me a few minutes to think about it.”
Willow went off to sit in a corner and think. Buffy started to pace around the office. The veneer of calm she had put on was looking like it was about to crack.
Willow stood up from her seat. “Yes! I think that might work!”
Hagrid burst through the door. “Professor! I found these in the forest!” He laid out Dawn’s sweatshirt, wand, and cell phone on Dumbledore’s desk.
“Well, so much for that idea,” said Willow.
|Chapter 49: Unlocking the Gates||Contents||Chapter 51: A Small Package|