A/N: So, I'm not sure how this chapter is going to turn out yet, guess we'll have to wait and see….

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from the Harry Potter Universe…and even if I did, I wouldn't sell them to me…because I don't trust what I'd do with them, I tend to break expensive things…

Saving Grace

Chapter 19

Christmas had come and gone with no word from Harry. Of course the Prophet had gotten a hold of his disappearance and was blathering headlines such as the Boy-Who-Chickened-Out, and Gryffindor-Be-Gone. Students were still whispering in the hallway about how they had heard from a friend who heard from their cousin who's boyfriend said that Draco Malfoy had done him in for the Dark Lord, and had just been pretending to switch sides. In fact, a few Slytherins had come to regard the blonde boy as a hero for disposing of the Golden Boy of Hogwarts, despite many protests on Draco's part to his lack of murdering intent. All such protests were promptly ignored as Draco trying to stay out of trouble while under the watchful eyes of the Headmaster, and though, strangely, the Weasel had been backing his story, no one was interested in hearing the truth. In fact the latest story was how Draco had lured him down to the Whomping Willow and proceeded to gut him with a knife (far too bloody in Draco's opinion, but the younger kids seemed to think it possible), and then fed the remains to the thestrals. And even though Draco pointed out he couldn't see the flying horses, no one was inclined to believe that either.

And so the mighty Slytherin had given up and taken to spending his time in the library, where the whispers could be silenced by a glare from Madam Pince, or in Snape's rooms, where he was often joined by his sister. Tonight had him curled up in the armchair, staring blankly into the fire, and wondering if wherever Harry Potter was if he was warm and curled up next to a fire too. "Oh, don't look so dreary," Cassie's voice drifted blithely towards him. His back stiffened slightly in response, preparing for an argument. "Look, I highly doubt that the great Harry Potter would want you to be torturing yourself over the fact that he's missing. It's been months for Pete's sake…"

"Cassie, I don't want to talk about this, and I don't want to fight with you." It had become a persistent argument in the past couple of weeks between the two, and it was driving a very large wedge in their relationship. Where in the beginning Cassie had been kind and comforting he now more often than not saw hardness in her eyes at the mere mention of Harry Potter's name, and he had the uncomfortable feeling that if Harry ever came back he could lose his sister completely.

"Oh, come on, are you a Malfoy or not!" her tone was biting as she whirled in front of his chair, blocking his view of the flames. "It's always Harry this, or Harry that, you only were friends with him for like, what, a whole bloody two months?!"

"Sod off, Cassie!"

"That's right, sod off Cassie, while I mope around because I lost someone, well here's news for you, there are lots of other people around here that care for you! Maybe you should give them the time of day some time too! You look like you've lost your only reason for living, well guess what, suck it up and get over it! Besides, if that kid showed up here tomorrow it isn't like he'd remember anything, like he'd remember you!" He heard the door to the toilet slam hard, and a picture on the wall rattled. Ignoring the burning tears in his eyes he stood stiffly, slipping out the portrait hole and into the dungeon halls.

He couldn't bring himself to stalk, or glide down the halls, instead he wandered, meandered in a vague happenstance way towards the entrance to the Slytherin Common Rooms. It took him almost a full minute to work up to the password, but finally he muttered, "Potter's dead," and slipped in, trying to avoid all the stares and whispers of admiration. Opening his trunk he pulled out the faded photograph of his sister and the worn doll. They swam in his vision as a tear fell slowly, splashing off the picture, and then Draco lifted his wand, and set both of them on fire. The little girl he remembered was dead, and the one left in her place was nothing that Draco wanted to remember.

For the next week Draco pointedly avoided both his sister and Severus Snape's rooms, in which she had taken up residence in an attempt to catch him unawares. Strangely, Severus Snape had also taken a sudden dislike to his rooms, and was seen more often communing with other professors in the lounge than he had been in all the previous years of his employment at Hogwarts. He was, also, on a rare occasion, seen smiling, and though this had more to do with his discontinued service to the Dark Lord than anything else, the majority of the students felt that it had to do with Harry Potter's untimely disappearance. Because, despite all the strange occurrences in the beginning of the year, most memorably Snape chasing Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter into the Great Hall and yelling at them as they cowered under the Headmaster's chair, the general consensus was that Snape had bewitched Harry so that Draco could off him. Snape, not caring what the general populace thought of him, and not wanting the first years to see him as a Mister-Nice-Guy, left the rumors alone. And it didn't matter anyway, because very soon the rumors would disappear as newer and darker ones spread.

It was during breakfast on a day scheduled for a Hogsmede trip that the first rumors began, and they started, as usual, with the Daily Prophet. According to the Prophet the Dark Lord was training an apprentice, someone to succeed him if he should fail in his mission, or perhaps when he got tired of Muggle torturing. Rumors of a young boy, never really seen but only glimpsed at who had a knack for torture and killing. And then soon the rumors multiplied.

"I heard that it's You-Know-Who's son…"

"The Slytherins said that he raped the boy's mother before he disappeared and then cut him from her womb, and while he's been gone he's been raising him in the Dark Arts…He killed the mother, Muggle you know…"

"That's ridiculous, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would never touch a Muggle. I heard that You-Know-Who is actually a girl…"

"I heard he got his face beat in with a crystal unicorn…"

"That's a load of rubbish…"

Though Draco was glad the rumors of him murdering Harry with a dull knife and a Sugar Quill were over (the latest line of stories he had heard), he couldn't help but be concerned that Harry was out there with no memories, no protection, and this new threat of Voldemort's on the loose.

(Somewhere Secret…e.g. I have no idea where yet)

Marvolo Riddle was curled next to his father's knee. He would have been the poster-boy for angelic looks, with his head resting against the robed thigh, and his arms wrapped around his father's leg as one bone-white hand stroked the hair away from his forehead, thumb caressing a lightning shaped scar. Yes, it would have been the perfect family picture, angelic child and all, if the setting hadn't been a large black marbled hall, if they hadn't been on a raised platform, complete with a cold throne, and if the occupant of the throne was not the Dark Lord, who was currently torturing Goyle with the hand that was not tangled in his son's hair. Marvolo rubbed his cheek appreciatively against his father's leg, and closed his eyes, listening to the screams. And then that soft voice, hissing, "Never, never touch my son again, do you understand me?" He raised his red eyes to sweep the expanse of the hall, filled with masked witches and wizards. "Do you all understand me? To harm my son is to attempt to harm me, and that is an act of treachery. I will not be so understanding the next time."

Understanding. His father was so understanding, and patient. He worked with him everyday, re-teaching him forgotten magic, never getting angry or upset when he struggled. And he was so kind, so protective, when he had found out that Goyle had been pushing him around…for some reason Marvolo felt that this was the first time in his life that he had ever truly been safe and loved, and he wasn't willing to give that up for anything, even if he never got his memories back, he would be happy here, where he would never have to crave forbidden love and affection ever again. He curled closer around his father, into the safety that he represented, but Marvolo did not see the smile that he was graced with, the one given to a well prized pet, not exactly loved, but valued and treasured for what it brought with it, for the comments and praise one would get from their nosy neighbors. Voldemort's hand curled tighter in the boy's hair, daring any one of his Death Eaters to defy him and take away what he had claimed as his. Marvolo only sighed, content with the physical affirmation of love that had been lacking, at least that he felt like had been lacking, for so long, and wished he could remember why this felt so sweet.

(Severus Snape's Rooms: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry)

Cassandra Malfoy hated Harry Potter. Draco had been hers long before Harry had gotten a hold of him. The stupid kid had only spent two months with her brother and now he was sitting there pining after the Boy-Who-Up-And-Wandered-Away, and was retelling tales about how they had turned Harry's relatives into Jack and the Beanstalk. She would have thought that after he disappeared she would have Draco to herself again, but noooooo…All she wanted was someone to be her family. Draco had been that family. She had been gone too long from the wizarding world, her wizarding memories mixed with her Muggle ones, and she was not that little girl anymore. Losing memory and magic had hardened her, and she was willing to do anything to get what she wanted. Cassandra knew what she wanted, and she knew where to get it. Pulling out a quill and parchment, checking to make sure nosy Severus Snape wasn't to be seen she began to write in big curling letters.

Dear Mum and Dad,

"Cassie? What are you doing?"

Jumping out of her seat Cassie's arm flayed wildly and knocked the ink across the room, where it successfully overturned itself over her stunned brother's head. The black liquid ran in streams through his blonde hair, one drop dangling from his nose before it fell to the carpeted floor with a quiet 'plunk'. The boy blinked a few times, looking very much like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming eighteen-wheeler before pulling out his wand to clean up the mess. "No, I can clean it up Draco…" And before he could protest whipped out her wand.

"Well, the ink is gone…" he reached a hand up. "And my nose is still in place," he looked downwards, "Nor do I have a tail or…breasts…I think you actually did it right this time." He turned towards the mirror to make sure his hair was still in place, and moaned, closing his eyes and slowly counting to ten, and then twenty. "Thank you, Cassie," he said sweetly. "Hot pink hair and an eyebrow piercing were just what I had wanted for Christmas, but Santa forgot to bring them."

"I'm…sorry…" She was biting her lip in an attempt not to laugh. "I can fix it…"
"Oh, no!" Draco threw his hands in front of his face protectively. "I'll just wait for it to wear off..." And before she could throw anymore 'helpful' spells in his direction Draco dashed from the room searching out the safety of his Transfiguration class, he was less likely to end up as a girl there.

As Draco took his seat towards the back of the room he ignored the growing stares, until Seamus Finnegan choked on his gum and swallowed it. Coughing violently and eyes bulging he was even more surprised when the Slytherin thumped him firmly on the back, causing the gum to dislodge and land on McGonagall's desk, and giving Seamus the oxygen he needed. "Always wanted to be punk…think I'll get a Mohawk next," Draco whispered conspiratorially, and Dean snickered on the other side of Seamus. "Perhaps a tongue ring," he said thoughtfully as he moved on.

A second later McGonagall appeared, and began magicking notes onto the board, turning to silence the class a large pink blob on her desk caught her eye. "And who would this belong…Mr. Malfoy," she gasped, her hand traveling to her chest. "What have you done to yourself?"

"This?" he asked gesturing to both hair and very large diamond piercing. "It's all the rage in America right now. Cutting edge of fashion."

"What about the breasts you had last week?" Seamus muttered.

"Jealous?" Draco questioned innocently.

Dean snorted and McGonagall huffed. "That is quite enough. Mr. Malfoy, pink is really not your color. Now, as for who's gum this is…"

As Draco tuned out the oncoming lecture he felt a piece of paper pelt him in the back of the head. Un-crumpling the paper ball he glanced down at one word. Traitor. Heart racing he turned slowly in his seat to meet Blaise Zabini's smoldering eyes, meeting the glare with his own ice-filled ones. His posture radiated confidence, and though the pink hair somewhat threw off his groove, he was pretty sure Zabini couldn't tell. In his head a vicious mental debate as to whether or not he should tell Snape was raging, but in the back of his mind he knew the older man already had enough on his plate trying to track down leads to Harry and disappearing every other night for some battle or another. No, he could take care of Zabini himself. A second later he was pulled from the staring contest when McGonagall called his name and he proceeded to answer her questions about transfiguring inanimate objects into animate ones, and whether or not one could instill consciousness, personality, and willpower into transfigured beings. And though through the entire class he could feel Zabini's glare like a dagger between his shoulder blades, he knew there was nothing he could do about it, and did his best to ignore the growing heat between them.

Class ended all too soon, and, in a last ditch attempt to pass up on the contempt that Zabini's look had contained, Draco took his time packing and then stopped Professor McGonagall, asking her if it would be conceivable that a witch or wizard's transfigured object, when given life, would contain personality traits of their creator, or perhaps even a soul, and as such, was it inhumane to transfigure them back? Despite his attempt to stall he still ran into Zabini behind a suit of armor two halls down, and was now sporting a black eye to match the makeover his sister gave him. His life really couldn't get much worse.

(Back to that Secret Place)

Marvolo watched the two Death Eaters with interest. Their pale blonde features were stirring something in the back of mind, something that he couldn't quite put his finger on. Trying to push the thought to the front of his mind he only managed to give himself a headache, and gave up his efforts, instead focusing on the conversation at hand, pushing the niggling feeling back into the dark recesses that he associated with his previously unknown life. And though the feelings had been occurring more and more often as of late, he had yet to get more than a flash of color and an overwhelming headache. Though he wanted to share the fact that he was beginning to remember his past life with his father, he had learned quickly that in this house secrecy and lies were the foundation for life, and some uneasy feeling kept him from saying anything. "We want to present our daughter for the Dark Mark."

"Your daughter?" Marvolo could recognize the curiosity in his father's voice, even from where he stood with crossed arms against the stone wall, hidden in the shadows of the flickering torches. "I was unaware you had a daughter…and what of your son? Draco, isn't it?" A warning bell went off in Marvolo's head at the mention of that name, and with it another blinding pain and pounding behind his eyes that obscured both his vision and hearing for an indeterminable amount of time. When the grey finally receded from his world he was met with the sight of his father leaning over a thin feminine arm, inscribing the Dark Mark with the tip of his wand, an honor that Marvolo had no need to receive when he could hear the whisper of his father's voice in his mind. Through his father's bent visage he could vaguely see a cascade of brown hair, the image making him uncomfortable as he unconsciously pressed himself deeper into the stone wall, a sudden feeling of panic overtaking him, making his heart race and throat grow thick as it became suddenly hard to swallow. And then the feeling was gone, swallowed by his father's next words. "Your first task is to bring your brother to me, this time in one week. He will either take my mark or he will be eliminated."

"Yes, my lord," came the soft voice.

Marvolo tuned out the rest of the meeting as it resumed to normaclicy, torture a few Death Eaters, threaten a couple people, torture Wormtail…who made Marvolo distinctly uncomfortable, share next evil plot to take over the world, torture Wormtail, throw a large fit, and, for good measure, torture Wormtail. Bored of the proceedings, and feeling distinctly nauseous from the remnants of the headache, Marvolo slipped out the back of the hall and to his father's study, pulling out the first book his hand came across, Hogwarts, A History. It seemed interesting enough, and part of him was jealous of all the normal kids that got to go there, and another part kept recalling a feminine voice, full of exasperation, huffing, "Honestly, don't you two ever read, it's all right here in Hogwarts, A History." And another boy protesting, a flash of red hair, and then nothing, all of it was gone. Sighing, Marvolo began to read about the unknown hidden chamber that Salazar Slytherin created, and was so engrossed that he didn't notice at first when his father swept into the room. Lord Voldemort did not take kindly to not being noticed.

"Where did you go?" he hissed, grasping his son's robes and hefting him to his feet, startling the boy out of his reverie.

Green eyes stared defiantly from behind the glasses. "I was bored."

The bone white hand backhanded the teenager, leaving streaks of red where the abnormally long nails cut across his cheek. It garnered no response from the boy except for a small flash of surprise. Just as quickly as he had hit the child he wrapped him in a hug. "Look what you made me do, look what you made me do…" Another voice and an image of a beefy fist echoed in his head, the words morphing, and he saw a bare cupboard and the imprint of stairs above his head, causing him to rip himself from the Dark Lord's grasp, and turn on his heel, quickly leaving the room. As of late his father's physicality had grown worse, and Marvolo's trust of him less…much, much less. Something kept telling him that there was a remarkable wrongness about this entire situation, but he couldn't quite figure out what it was.

Back in the study Lord Voldemort's eyes narrowed in suspicion.

(Hogwarts: One Week Later)

History of Magic was a bust. Instead of learning anything pertinent, despite Draco's desperate tries to stay awake, all he managed to learn was not to close his eyes when Blaise was behind him or he'd end up hexed. He managed to escape class before Zabini had managed to finish picking up his books, so he was sure he could avoid another black eye if he made a beeline for Snape's rooms. Draco made it through the portrait hole just as the Potion's Master emerged from his bedroom, stumbling slightly as he pulled his cloak into place and wiped sleep from his dark eyes. He managed to grace the blonde boy with a small smile before disappearing out into the hall, most likely having been called to another fight or some untimely meeting or another. Dinner was in half-an-hour and it appeared that a good portion of the staff table would be missing once again. Not that it mattered, he'd been avoiding the Great Hall out of fear of being cursed for the past week. He was tempted to spill to Snape what had been going on, but his decision not to tell had been reaffirmed when the former Death Eater had appeared at four in the morning covered in mud and collapsed on the couch, asleep before his body even had time to make an impression on the cushions.

Shrugging off his bag and dropping it in the corner Draco headed towards the room Severus had decorated for the boys, pulling clothes out of the dresser and heading for the shower, trying not to look at Harry's empty bed. Turning the water on as hot as he could make it run Draco glanced towards the mirror, wincing as he saw the tinge of pink that still graced his hair, now a light shade of rose instead of the previous blinding color it had been, and the piercing had finally disappeared the day before. Reaching in the cabinet for the magic remover shampoo, hoping this time his hair would come out clean, Draco stepped into the shower, swearing quietly when he nearly burned off the first three layers of his skin and quickly turning the handle so the water came at a more acceptable temperature. Pouring the rest of the bottle of shampoo over his head he scrubbed mercilessly at his hair watching as pink ran off him in rivulets, swirling down the drain. About to reach for the conditioner he lifted his hand, freezing mid-motion at the sound of his sister's voice. "Draco! Draco, hurry up, get out here!"

Concerned, he quickly turned off the water and ripped open the shower curtain, a blast of cold air hitting him immediately as he recklessly toweled off his hair and pulled on slacks one-handed, stumbling out of the bathroom still dripping and shirtless. "Cassie, what? What's wrong?"

She turned, wide-eyed and beckoned him towards the portrait hole. "Hurry, Severus is hurt!" Running a hand through his tangled hair and grabbing his wand from the end table, Draco hurried through the portrait hole, only to see a red flash and then darkness.

"Thanks, Zabini," came Cassie's cold voice. "I can take it from here."

(Tom Riddle's Headquarters: The Secret Place)

"Yes, I'll be there!" Marvolo snapped, his chest tightening with fear when he saw the malice in his father's red eyes. "I'm…I'm sorry…" A sudden bolt of pain shot through his scar, something that had been happening more and more often in the past week. Anytime his father became upset with him his head ached…in fact, anytime his father was upset his head ached. And with his growing memories he had a sinking feeling that something was desperately wrong about everything that was going on. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named killed your parents…Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived, Hogwarts…the suspicion that floated across his father's red eyes caused Marvolo to shove the voices down deep and draw himself up to his full height, though he was still considerably shorter than the Dark Lord, defiant eyes staring back.

"You'd best be."

He watched the retreating figure and sighed, dropping down on the black encased bed. Hugging a blood-red pillow to his chest Marvolo curled against the headboard, eyes unfocusing as he thought through the events of the past week. It had become harder and harder to be the Dark Lord's son. It had been so easy at first, months ago, just to take in the love and acceptance, how easy it had been to kill the Muggle man, that familiar man, it had been easy to torture, because in return he saw pride in his father's eyes, and he wasn't quite so empty inside. But too soon that emptiness had returned, sneaking up behind him in the dark and slipping back inside of him before he even knew it was there…and he knew he was missing something, something important. Something about this house was wrong, something about his father was wrong…and something about that new recruit was very, very wrong. Just yesterday his father had asked him to torture Wormtail…and he had been…reluctant. Part of him kept screaming that this wasn't right, it wasn't him. "Marvolo." The word hit the empty air in a quiet hiss, but to his ears the word was empty, meaningless. He may not be Marvolo…but he still had no idea who he was.

Glancing at his watch he hurried to the hall, taking up his place in the shadows against the wall, watching as the Death Eaters filed into their places. Mere seconds later the Dark Lord swept into the room, taking up his place on the stone throne and glaring out at the assembled Death Eaters. "Welcome, my children," Marvolo shuddered as the voice caressed his skin, sending a tendril of power down his spine. "Welcome." He paused and surveyed the crowd. "One of you was given an important mission last week, Cassidy?"

The new recruit, hooded, appeared in the center of the hall, dropping unceremoniously to the floor an unconscious body. Studying the still form Marvolo took in the pale and shirtless back, blue jeans and bare feet, a tangle of blonde hair…with perhaps the merest tinge of pink…falling across the boy's features. As he watched him the boy let out a soft groan and pulled himself to his knees, glancing up, his face immediately changing from confusion to soft horror. The ice-blue eyes stared at the Dark Lord, and a sudden steely resolve filled them and the boy pulled himself to his feet. Marvolo knew him. He had been one of the ones that told him he was Harry…the mirror, the mirror was broken, so much blood, so much blood…and two blue, blue eyes, there to keep him safe…Marvolo shook his head roughly trying to force the image to disappear as he glanced at the scars on his hands.

"Draco Malfoy. I am a kind and loving master, Draco. I am also a forgiving one. Join me now, and I will forgive the fact that you first refused to do so. I can…" He stopped, surprised when a wad of spit landed on his shoe from the Slytherin's mouth. And then a blind rage took over him, causing Marvolo's head to nearly split open as the snake-like man jumped to his feet, wand at the ready. Then, just as suddenly, the rage was gone, an awful stillness filling the air instead. "I applaud your bravery boy, but not your stupidity. Marvolo, come." Out of the shadows he stepped forward, hood drawn forward to hide his features as he stood at his father's side. "I want you to kill him, Marvolo. He is of no use to us now."

Slowly he reached a trembling hand towards his wand…he could hear this boy's laughter in his head, could vaguely see them both running from a sneering man, screaming for their lives and diving under a chair together. He remembered the ocean and…

"Marvolo." The hiss was enough to bring him back to the present and he gripped his wand firmly.

You have to mean it for it to work.

His hood slipped down and for a second blue eyes met green in startling recognition, until their gaze was cut short with a quietly whispered, "Avadra Kedavra."

A/N: R/R pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…I always love hearing what you guys have to say.