Dawn awoke slowly. She knew she was in a comfortable bed, with warm blankets tucked snugly around her, but it didn’t feel like her bed. She felt like she had been asleep for a long time. It had been a sleep full of nightmares of torture, and freezing cold, and being held paralysed, unable to move as various horrors were visited upon her. She opened her eyes, afraid of what she would see. Maybe the warm bed was some sort of delusion. She’d read that sometimes people freezing to death started to feel warm again, toward the end. She was greatly relieved when she recognized the Hogwarts hospital wing, dimly lit by the candles burning in their sconces on the walls. She turned her head a bit and saw the top of a blonde head. She knew that it belonged to Buffy. She had fallen asleep in a chair beside Dawn’s bed, and leaning on Dawn’s mattress. Dawn didn’t think that it looked like a very comfortable position.
Buffy wasn’t sleeping very soundly. Dawn’s slight motion had woken her up. She lifted her head, and turned a couple of bleary eyes toward her sister. “Hey, sleepyhead. How you feeling?”
Dawn was trying to figure that out for herself. She wasn’t feeling any pain…she really wasn’t feeling much of anything. Other than a simple sensation of overall warmth, she was kinda numb. She decided that warmth was something that she had been taking entirely too much for granted for most of her life. “Everything considered…I feel pretty good.”
“Madam Pomfrey has given you all sorts of healing, and warming, and pain killer type potions, so you should be feeling pretty good,” said Buffy.
Dawn tried to move a bit more, and felt that her limbs didn’t seem to be responding the way they should. That worried her. “Uh…Buffy…I can’t move!”
Buffy reached out and stroked her hair. “Hey, it’s okay. You’re going to be fine. She also gave you some muscle relaxants. You were having nightmares, and thrashing around too much to heal properly.” Buffy reached for a small vial on the table beside the bed. “Here, she said to give you the antidote for it as soon as you woke up.”
Buffy put an arm around Dawn’s shoulders to help her sit up. “Sorry. Non-magical me can’t get your bed to work. You need a wand to adjust it.” Buffy lifted the vial to Dawn’s lips, and she drank the bitter potion.
Dawn felt a tingly sensation moving out from her stomach. The numbness she had been feeling was slipping away, and she became aware of the twinges and aches from her various injuries. She wasn’t feeling any pain, but she started to feel like her body was there again. “How long was I gone?”
“You were taken a couple of days ago,” said Buffy.
“Is that all?” asked Dawn. “Felt like longer.”
Buffy frowned. “You were only gone for about a day. You’ve been sleeping for more than twenty-four hours now, since you got back.”
“So, uh, what day is it?”
Buffy stopped and thought for a bit. “I seem to have lost track.” She started mumbling under her breath, and counting off days on her fingers. “Uh…Friday evening…I think.”
Dawn remembered something Buffy had said earlier. “Oh god! My wand! I lost my wand!” She thought for a moment that she had lost something more important than that, but she couldn’t remember what it was.
“Hey! Hey! It’s okay! We found it!” Buffy picked Dawn’s wand up off the bedside table and held it in front of her. “See?”
“Oh, thank god!” Dawn reached out for her wand…and noticed for the first time that the fingers of her right hand were wrapped in bandages. She froze, looking at them. The memory of seeing the bloody stump, and the pain of it, came flooding back. She couldn’t move her hand, or say anything. She just stared at it. She thought she could feel her finger, under the bandages, but she knew that couldn’t be right. Maybe it was like those phantom pains that she’d heard of amputees having. Then she saw that she seemed to have all four fingers still attached, with the littlest one bound by the bandages to her ring finger. “My finger,” she finally whispered.
Buffy gently took hold of Dawn’s wrist, and pressed her hand back down onto the blanket. “I know,” she said. “Madam Pomfrey does good work. She says it should be almost good as new in a week or so.” She grinned at her sister. “Coulda used her back in Sunnydale, a time or two, let me tell you.”
“What?” asked Dawn. “You mean it’s back?”
“Yes, Dawn, it’s back. She re-attached it.”
“How did you… How’d you find it?”
A very hard expression crossed Buffy’s face. “It wasn’t difficult. Voldemort mailed it to us.”
“Oh god…I almost told him! If I hadn’t thought of how to lie with the truth, I would have told him! If he tries again…I can’t go through that again!”
“You don’t have to worry about Voldemort any more.” Buffy nodded across Dawn’s bed. “You can thank him for that.”
“What?” Dawn turned her head, and saw that hers wasn’t the only occupied bed in the hospital. Harry was in the bed next to hers. “Harry! What happened to him?”
“He’s fine!” said Buffy. “He’s just sleeping. We’ve been taking turns sitting with you, but Madam Pomfrey slipped him a mickey in the form of a hot chocolate about an hour ago. He should be out until morning.” Buffy yawned.
Dawn smiled at her. “Harry isn’t the only one she should have slipped a mickey to.”
“She tried, but Harry drank his first, and like I’ve been telling people for two days now: sleeplessness is part of the Slayer gig. I’ll be going to sleep soon. I just got a couple more things to take care of.” Buffy picked up a small silver bell, and rang it.
“What was that?” asked Dawn.
“First item of business,” said Buffy. There was a crack that at first Dawn thought might be Trei, but it turned out to be Dobby and Winky with a couple of trays of food. Buffy frowned at them. “I don’t think she’s that hungry.”
“This tray is for you, Miss Buffy,” said Winky. “Dobby has Miss Dawn’s tray.”
Dawn’s stomach rumbled, and she realized that she was really hungry. “And if Buffy doesn’t want hers, I think I might be that hungry.”
Dobby set Dawn’s tray on the bed table, and adjusted the bed to lift her up into a sitting position. Winky put Buffy’s tray on the table beside Dawn’s. “If the young Misses need anything more, ring for us.” The house-elves disapparated away.
Dawn picked up her fork with her left hand. She saw that her food had already been cut up into nice bite sized pieces. She started to shovel the meal into her mouth. “So, what did you mean about not having to worry about Voldemort?” she asked around a mouth full of food.
“Remember that prophecy?” asked Buffy. “The one that said that Harry or Voldemort had to die, that one would kill the other?”
“Yeah,” said Dawn.
“Well, now we know which one lives. Moldywart is toast.”
“Harry killed him.”
“You sure?” asked Dawn. “People thought he was dead once before.”
“This time we’re pretty sure,” said Buffy. “Dumbledore was there, and he’s pretty sure too, and Willow isn’t going to be bringing him back.”
Buffy told Dawn about their attack on Voldemort while they ate their dinner. She left out a few of the details, such as how close they had come to losing Willow, and her own taste of the Cruciatus curse, but she hit most of the other high points. She also didn’t mention the brief glimpse she’d had of Harry while he was under the influence of all the power he had sucked out of Voldemort.
Dawn was yawning when she finished her meal. Buffy knew that Madam Pomfrey had laced Dawn’s pumpkin juice with a mild sedative. Nothing that would put her out, but enough to make her want to go back to sleep again. She rang the bell to summon back the house-elves to clean up their dinner, and to flatten out Dawn’s bed again. Buffy was yawning again herself, and she wondered if Madam Pomfrey had slipped something into her drink too. She doubted it. The few hours of sleep that she’d had that day just hadn’t been enough to make up for not having slept for the two days before that. Once Dawn was settled down she went to lie down herself in the bed next to her.
Dawn was joined for breakfast the next morning by Harry and Buffy. Madam Pomfrey told her that there were several more people who wanted to see her, but she was limiting additional visitors to two at a time, for no more than half an hour each, and with lots of breaks in between. Dawn found out later that Eric had tried to set up a “visit Dawn” lottery, but Dumbledore had put his foot down, and forbidden it.
There was an unexpected visitor about mid morning. She came in, accompanied by Professor Dumbledore, just as Madam Pomfrey was chasing Willow and Kennedy out. Madam Pomfrey looked like she’d like to chase them out too, but Tonks said that she was there in her official capacity as an Auror. Her hair was the least garish colour Dawn had ever seen it: a sort of red not much more intense than Willow’s or one of the Weasleys’.
A look from Tonks made Buffy get out of her chair beside Dawn’s bed. She sat on the edge of the bed she’d been sleeping in while Tonks took over the chair. “I know you’ve been through a lot,” she told Dawn, “but it’s best for us to do this while it’s still fresh in your mind. We can do it later if you want, but I’d like to get your statement about what happened to you, as soon as possible.”
“No, that’s okay,” said Dawn. “I’d like— I’d like to talk about it.” That was one thing that was bothering her. How everyone was skirting around talking about what had been done to her. “I think I need to talk about it.”
“Okay,” said Tonks. She started pulling items from her pockets. The first was a blank scroll of parchment, and the second was a quill. “This is certified quotation quill. It will keep a record of everything we say, once we start.”
“Is that like a Quick Quotes Quill?” asked Harry, who was still there by virtue of his being a patient too. He didn’t sound happy.
Tonks gave him a sour smile. “My quill is certified accurate, and has to be recertified before any witness statements taken by it since its last certification can be admitted in court. It is not one of those ‘Quick Quotes’ abominations.”
Harry sank back into his bed, looking chagrinned. “Sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry,” said Tonks. “I remember some of the nonsense that Skeeter woman used to write about you, but once Dawn and I start, I’ll have to ask that the rest of you keep quiet.” She looked back and forth between Harry and Buffy, and saw them nod.
Tonks pulled a glass sphere out of her pocket next, and placed it on the table in front of Dawn. She saw Dawn stiffen. “Is there a problem?”
“Is that a Veriloquus Sphere?” asked Dawn. She didn’t sound at all happy about it, which surprised Tonks a lot. Usually the only people who objected to Veriloquus Spheres were the crooks who were trying to put something over on her.
“Yes, it is,” said Tonks. “Do you have a problem with it?”
“No,” said Dawn. “It’s just that he had one, when he was questioning me.”
“Oh!” Tonks quickly snatched the green glowing sphere back, and put it into her pocket. “We don’t really need it for most of this. We can save it for the end, when you swear that you have given true testimony.”
“No, put it back,” said Dawn. “It just reminded me, is all. And that’s what we’re here to do, right?”
“Right.” Tonks replaced the sphere on the table, and activated her quill. “Let’s start at the beginning. How were you taken?” The quill flew across the parchment, copying down her question.
Dawn went through the story of how she had been out for her jog, and then woken up in the cell, and how the man in the robes had questioned her about the Key.
“The Key?” asked Tonks.
Dawn looked uncertainly toward Professor Dumbledore.
“It is an artefact of great power that Voldemort coveted,” said Dumbledore. “Beyond that you do not need to know.”
Tonks seemed to accept that, but Dawn could see she was curious to learn more. Dawn started to describe what happened next. She saw several grim faces as she described the effects of that first Cruciatus curse. “…and then I told him to sod off!”
Tonks’ sphere flashed yellow for an instant, and she raised an eyebrow at Dawn, without saying anything.
“Okay…I used a word that Mom used to tell me I wasn’t ever supposed to use, but it meant the same thing,” said Dawn. The sphere shone a nice steady green this time.
“Okay,” said Tonks with a smile. “What happened then?”
Dawn described a couple more rounds of being tortured by the Cruciatus curse, until she had passed out from the pain, and then being awoken by sprays of ice cold water. “And I couldn’t take it anymore…so I had to tell him. I told him that Professor Dumbledore had told me that the Key was in his office. He wanted to know where, so I told him it moved around, and then he made me describe it. I told him it was a glowing green energy.” Dawn watched Tonks’ sphere all through that, and saw that it kept flickering to yellow, but Tonks seemed to be ignoring it.
The sphere went back to its solid green glow as she described how her finger had been cut off, and then how Trei had found her, and she’d been brought back to Hogwarts.
“So, can you describe the person who tortured you?” asked Tonks.
“Not really,” said Dawn. “He always wore those robes, and mask.”
“Tall or short?”
“Um…tall, I think, but I was mostly lying on the floor, so it was hard to tell.”
“Fat or skinny?”
“Kinda…medium? Sorry I can’t tell you more.”
“That’s okay,” said Tonks. “You’re sure it was a man?”
“Pretty sure,” said Dawn. “Sure sounded like one.”
“Always the same man?” asked Tonks. “They weren’t sending in different people to question you?”
“No,” said Dawn. “It was always him. I’ll never forget that voice.”
“Alright, just one more thing,” said Tonks. “Do you swear that you have given me a complete and accurate account of what happened to you?”
“I do,” said Dawn. She smiled at the glowing green sphere.
“Okay.” Tonks picked up the scroll of parchment that her quill had been furiously transcribing their conversation on. “I need you to read this over, and then sign the bit at the bottom, where it says that you agree that this is an accurate transcript of our conversation.”
“Alright.” Dawn started reading. She quickly saw that the pen hadn’t just recorded her words. It had also recorded all the variations in the colour of the Veriloquus Sphere, by underlining each passage in the appropriate colours. When she got to the section where she talked about what she had finally told the Death Eater she saw that while the entire passage was underlined in green, there were additional underlines in shades of green and yellow under what she had told the Death Eater. The second underline got downright orange when it came to her description of the Key.
Dawn signed her name when she got to the end, and handed the scroll and the quill back to Tonks. “I don’t understand,” she said. “His sphere only flashed red and green. It didn’t do any of the other shades.”
“Good thing for you,” said Tonks. “It takes training and practice to use a Veriloquus properly. If you don’t know what you’re doing with them, they’re pretty stupid, and easy to fool. A skilled operator can detect all sorts of variations in truthfulness: fibs, half truths, boasts, exaggerations and evasions. I don’t know where this Key thing is now, or what it looks like, but I know that you knew that it wasn’t in Dumbledore’s office when you were answering those questions, even if he had told you it was there. And it might have been green glowing energy, once upon a time, but it isn’t now.”
“I wish I could describe him for you, so you could tell which one he was…if you’ve got him,” said Dawn.
“Oh, you’ve told me plenty. With this…” Tonks held up the scroll. “…I’m ninety-five percent sure I know who it was. I’ll be back tomorrow for the last five percent.”
“How?” asked Dawn. “I couldn’t describe him.”
“Prior Incantato,” said Tonks.
“Of course!” said Harry.
Buffy waved her hand. “Care to explain a little more for the magically challenged?”
“Prior Incantato can be used to tell what spells a wand has been used to cast,” said Harry. “Find the wand that cast those spells on Dawn, and you’ve got the wizard!”
“Yep,” said Tonks, “And we’ve got a wand with some Crucios, Aqueous, Mobilicorpus, and a Stupefy on it. The Death Eater it belongs to is in the prison hospital ward with a cracked skull right now. Looks like someone hit him pretty hard with a big stick.”
“Not hard enough, apparently,” muttered Buffy.
“Yes, well, he’ll probably try to claim that someone else used his wand, since even if he isn’t the one who did it to Dawn, those Crucios will get him life in Azkaban, regardless.” She looked at Dawn. “I’ll be back tomorrow with some recordings of his voice, and then we’ll really nail this bastard to the wall.” Tonks pocketed her Veriloquus Sphere, and got up from her seat. “Until then, get some rest, and get better.”
“I will. Thank you.”
Madam Pomfrey escorted Tonks and Dumbledore back out of the ward. Buffy turned to Dawn as soon as they were gone. “I’m so sorry that had to happen to you. It must have been even worse than I imagined.”
“Don’t be sorry, Buffy,” said Dawn. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“I’m supposed to take care of you.”
“We’ve covered this a few times already. You can’t protect me all the time.”
“Besides, she was never really in any danger,” said Harry.
Buffy and Dawn both looked at him. “What?”
Harry shrugged. “It wasn’t Tuesday.” He had to duck the pillow Dawn threw at him.
|Chapter 54: Cleanup||Contents||Chapter 56: Back to Normal|