Madam Pomfrey released Harry and Dawn from the hospital that evening, on the condition that they go straight to bed when they got back to their dorm. Buffy accompanied them back to Gryffindor tower. Her threatening glare made everyone who looked like they might want to approach Harry or Dawn to ask them about what had happened back off. Many of the students had seen some of what Buffy could do during her guest lecturer spots in their DADA classes, and the others had all heard the stories.
It was harder to keep people away, once they got to the Gryffindor common room. Many of the kids who wanted to ask questions were Harry and Dawn’s friends. Ron, Hermione and Ginny hadn’t been able to keep from telling some of them about the battle, and those friends had told more friends, so now there were several wildly mutated versions of the story floating around the castle. Ron, Hermione and Ginny had all been unconscious at the end, so they hadn’t really been able to tell anyone how it had ended, and there were any number of wild theories about how Voldemort had been killed. They had also downplayed Ginny’s part in the entire thing, telling people that she’d just gone along to help Buffy and Kennedy, like the others had.
Dawn really didn’t want to tell anyone about being tortured. She saw the looks of pity that she sometimes got from Buffy and the others who knew, and that was something that she really didn’t want getting from anyone else. She wanted to put this whole incident behind her as quickly as possible, and get on with her life.
For his part, Harry was afraid of how people would react to him when they found out how he had killed Voldemort. He remembered how everyone had reacted back in his second year when people started to suspect that he was the Heir of Slytherin. He didn’t want to go through that again. The power he had used to kill Voldemort was something even worse than the Avada Kedavra curse. He figured that the only reason what he did wasn’t on the list of Unforgivables was that the Ministry didn’t know about it, yet.
Harry also knew from experience that the longer he put off telling people about what had happened, the worse the rumours would get. Buffy tried to hustle him through the kids who were eagerly waiting for them in the common room, but he wouldn’t let her. “Let’s get this over with.”
Room was made for Harry, Dawn and Buffy on a sofa near the fire, and Harry and Buffy told the story of the attack on the Death Eaters. Dawn gave Buffy a sharp look when Harry got the part about Buffy being hit by Voldemort’s Cruciatus curse. He faltered a bit as he got to the part about Voldemort starting to Avada Kedavra Buffy.
“So what happened then?” asked Neville, who had been hanging breathlessly on every word.
“Harry used some of the ancient magic that he’s been learning,” said Buffy. “It was something that Voldemort had no defence against. He didn’t believe it could hurt him, and he was totally unprepared for it. Harry saved my life.”
Everyone wanted to ask more questions, but Buffy put her foot down. She sent Harry off with Ron, with instructions that Ron was to put him to bed. The look she gave Harry’s other roommates was enough to quell any thoughts they might’ve had of further questioning him in their room.
Buffy, Hermione and Ginny escorted Dawn up to her room. Dawn saw that her Potions homework was still sitting out on her desk, not quite finished yet. “Oh, damn! That was due on Thursday!”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Hermione. “I think that even Snape will accept ‘I was kidnapped by Death Eaters’ as a legitimate excuse for handing it in late.” She frowned for a moment. “I’m not sure he’ll accept ‘my friend was kidnapped by Death Eaters’ though.” She turned away to her own desk. “I wonder if he’ll believe me when I tell him I had it done, but just forgot to hand it in?” She snatched up a scroll and ran from the room.
Dawn joined everyone for breakfast in the Great Hall the next morning. The atmosphere in the Hall was light and giddy. Nearly everyone was still talking about the death of Voldemort. The Sunday issue of the Daily Prophet had already arrived, and it had a new account of the events leading up to Voldemort’s death, this time not too far off from the one Harry and Buffy had told the night before. Harry knew that someone inside Hogwarts was feeding them information. He hoped it wasn’t one of his own housemates. There were enough differences between the Daily Prophet’s version, and the version he had told last night that he thought that it had probably been filtered through at least a couple more people before it got to the paper.
The Daily Prophet had also identified Buffy as the Slayer. She was too well known in some circles for her identity to be kept a secret when her name was being splashed across the paper like that. Even if most wizards had believed that the Slayer was a myth, some of the magical beings that they had regular dealings with, such as the Goblins, knew the truth. The paper also speculated that the second Muggle girl who took part in the assault was the mysterious, dark haired, second Slayer that rumours had been circulating about for years. If the paper’s sources knew about all the other Slayers that had been activated around the world, they hadn’t mentioned them.
The only exception to the giddy atmosphere in the Hall was around the Slytherin table. There was a group of students there—centred around Draco Malfoy—who were not happy at all. They were sitting a little separated from their housemates. The tension around them was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
The Sunday morning post came in, and Yanka delivered a letter to Dawn. She saw that it was from Tonks, and opened it right away. It was a brief message telling her to come to Professor Dumbledore’s office at ten o’clock.
“What’s that about?” asked Ron.
“They want to see if I can identify the voice of the man who questioned me,” said Dawn.
“Do you think you can?” asked Neville.
“I think so,” said Dawn. “I hope so.” She really didn’t want to talk about that. “So what else does it say in the paper?”
“They’ve got a list of the Death Eaters they captured,” said Harry. He scanned the names, looking for two in particular. He couldn’t find them. “Damn!”
“What’s the matter?” asked Ron.
“Bellatrix Lestrange, and Peter Pettigrew weren’t there,” said Harry. “They haven’t been caught.” The two Death Eaters that he most wanted in custody were still free.
Dawn rested her hand on Harry’s back. “I’m sure they’ll be caught soon. With Voldemort gone, what can they do?”
Harry looked up and saw the grim look on Neville’s face. He remembered what Bellatrix had done to Neville’s parents after the first time Voldemort had fallen. “They can do quite a lot.”
Blaise Zabini came across to the Gryffindor table as they were finishing up breakfast. “Hey, Dawn. Professor Snape has given us an extension on our paper. How about we meet in the library in half an hour to get to work on it?”
“Uh, I can’t,” said Dawn. “I’ve got an appointment with an Auror in Professor Dumbledore’s office at ten. How about we do it after lunch?”
“Sure,” said Blaise. “That’ll work.” She turned away, and went back to the Slytherin table…about as far away from Malfoy’s clique at it as she could get.
Dawn paused on the doorstep to Dumbledore’s office. Buffy and Harry and her other friends had all wanted to come with her, but Dawn had asked them not to. She felt that the fewer people watching this the better she’d like it. She was starting to have a few misgivings about her earlier confidence that she would be able to identify the voice of the Death Eater that had tortured her.
Dawn took a deep breath to steady her nerves, and knocked on the polished oak door. She heard Dumbledore’s voice invite her in. She pushed open the door, and stepped through into his office.
Tonks smiled at her. “Wotcher, Dawn!”
Dawn gave her a tentative smile back. “Um, hi.” She saw that Tonks was standing by one of Dumbledore’s tables which had been cleared of its usual collection of incomprehensible silver instruments. In their place was a collection of stoppered glass bottles. There were two dozen of them, laid out in four rows of six. “So, what’s this?”
“Each of these bottles contains a phrase spoken by a wizard,” said Tonks. “When I remove the stopper, the words will be released. I’ll go down each row, releasing the words, and then when I’m done, you’ll tell me if any of the voices you heard belonged to the man who questioned you. I want you to listen to the entire row before you tell me, you understand?”
“Yep,” said Dawn.
“You ready?” asked Tonks.
Tonks pulled the stopper out of the first bottle, and Dawn heard the first voice: “The mudblood is finally awake.”
Dawn felt a chill run down her spine, hearing those words again, but the voice wasn’t right. Tonks went down the line of bottles, pulling out the stoppers, and she heard the phrase repeated over and over. Each time by a different voice. The third one sounded a bit like what she remembered the voice sounding like, but she wasn’t sure. Number five was close too. She was really beginning to doubt if she would really be able to do this.
Tonks pulled the stopper from the sixth bottle. “The mudblood is finally awake.”
All doubts vanished from Dawn’s mind. “That’s him! The last one!”
Tonks wrote down which voice Dawn had picked in a notebook. “Okay, now we do the second row.” She pulled the stopper from the bottle.
This time the phrase spoken by each voice was, “The Veriloquus Sphere knows when you lie!” Dawn recognized her torturer the instant the second stopper was pulled, but she waited to hear them all before she told Tonks.
The third row contained bottles asking, “Where is the Key?” Dawn listened to them all. Some of the voices were close, but none of them seemed to fit. Tonks looked at her expectantly after pulling the last stopper.
“Uh, sorry,” said Dawn, “But I’m not sure. A couple of those were close, but I can’t really say.”
“That’s alright,” said Tonks. “One more row. You set?”
Dawn nodded and Tonks went down the last row, releasing voices. “What does it look like?” they asked her.
This time Dawn was absolutely sure when she heard the fourth voice that it was the one, and she told Tonks so when she was done.
Tonks was smiling broadly when she made the final note in her book. “Perfect! Four for four. We are really going to nail this guy!”
“But what about the third set?” asked Dawn. “I couldn’t pick him out of it.”
“That’s because he wasn’t there,” said Tonks. “That was a test to see if you were trying so hard to hear his voice, that you would hear it even if it wasn’t there.”
“So, um, who is he?” asked Dawn. “No one has told me his name.”
“Yes, well, we didn’t want to identify him until we were sure,” said Tonks. “No offence, but people are leaking information like sieves on this one. We wouldn’t want to accuse the wrong man of something like this.” She gave Professor Dumbledore a look, and saw him nod slightly. “His name is Aloysius Zabini.”
“Zabini?” asked Dawn. She looked at Professor Dumbledore. “Is he related to Blaise?”
“I believe he is an uncle of hers,” said Professor Dumbledore.
Dawn entered the library after lunch, feeling a little trepidation. She had looked over the list of names of the arrested Death Eaters in the Daily Prophet and saw that Aloysius Zabini was there, right at the bottom. She thought back to the way that Blaise had been acting at breakfast, and again at lunch, and didn’t really notice any difference. Blaise was always quiet, not drawing attention to herself. She had few friends. She didn’t seem to really belong to any cliques, even among the Slytherins, who were the most cliquish house in the school. She wasn’t really shunned either. Blaise was able to join in a conversation with just about anyone, and while she was there, people talked to her, but as soon as she left people seemed to almost forget she had been there at all. Dawn could relate to that. That was how she remembered the first fourteen years of her life being: the girl everyone forgot. Of course with Blaise it was a case of people really forgetting her, not an effort cutting measure on the part of some monks who didn’t want to have to create detailed memories of Dawn in hundreds of people.
Blaise was already sitting at one of the tables, surrounded by reference books. Dawn took a deep breath and crossed the library to her. “Hi Blaise, sorry I’m late.” She set her computer down on the table.
“It’s okay,” said Blaise. “I’ve only been here a couple of minutes.”
Dawn looked over the books on the table as she sat down. “Looks like you’ve been here longer than that.” She also noticed that there was a folded copy of the Daily Prophet on the table. “So, you saw the list of people who got arrested?”
“Yeah…” Blaise started to look a little nervous.
“I noticed there’s an Aloysius Zabini on the list.”
Blaise seemed to shrink into herself. “He’s my uncle,” she mumbled.
“I’d heard that,” said Dawn.
“So, now are you going to run away from the Death Eater’s niece?”
“Wasn’t planning on it.”
“It doesn’t bother you?” asked Blaise.
“A lot of people have been avoiding me for the last couple of days,” said Blaise.
“I was actually more worried about how you were feeling about me,” said Dawn. “It was my friends, and sister, who captured him.”
“I’m happy they did,” said Blaise. “I hope they lock him up for a long time. Uncle A-Zed always made me feel creepy whenever he came to visit. The way he used to look at me…” She suppressed a shudder.
“‘A-Zed’?” asked Dawn.
“That’s what he liked to have people call him,” said Blaise. “Said he had the alphabet covered from A to Zed.”
“With any luck, he’s going away for a long time,” said Dawn.
Blaise looked at her. “You know something.”
“Yeah, I do, but I’m not supposed to talk to anyone about it,” said Dawn.
“Is that what the meeting with the Auror was about?” asked Blaise.
“I’m not supposed to talk about it,” said Dawn.
“Does it have anything to do with why your hand is all bandaged up?”
“I bashed my finger in a door.”
“If that’s all it was, Madam Pomfrey would have fixed it in about five minutes,” said Blaise.
“It was a big door,” said Dawn.
Classes resumed, more or less as normal, on Monday. While it hadn’t been officially declared, Friday had turned into an unofficial holiday throughout the wizarding world. Buffy and the others stayed on at the school for another week, and the DADA classes got lectures on the history of the Slayer, since her and Kennedy’s identities were out of the bag. The DA got to see what it looked like when two Slayers who weren’t holding back (much) sparred with each other. Ginny’s OWL exams were approaching, so her training sessions were cut back, to give her the extra time she needed for studying.
March gave way to April, and the weather continued to warm. The Ravenclaw vs. Slytherin Quidditch match was a total blow-out, with Ravenclaw winning 330 to 20. That dashed any hopes that Harry had for Gryffindor to win the cup. They’d have to beat Ravenclaw by more than 390 points to do that, and Ravenclaw had much too good a team for them to hope for that. Harry decided that he’d just have to console himself by winning the final game.
The Daily Prophet continued to print reports of the arrests of more Death Eaters, as those already in custody turned on their fellows in the hopes of negotiating lighter sentences for themselves. Harry scanned each new story hoping for word of Bellatrix Lestrange, or Peter Pettigrew, but they remained at large. It was a big world, and Harry knew how easy it was for a wizard who wanted to stay hidden to do so. As April slipped into May the Daily Prophet started to announce trial dates. One of the first was for Aloysius Zabini.
|Chapter 55: Recovery||Contents||Chapter 57: The Trial|