A/N: I do not own anything in the Harry Potter universe. Everything belongs to J.K. Rowling. I'm doing this purely for my own entertainment (and hopefully for yours).
(A note for those who have read my stories before: This does not take place in the "Time Heals All Wounds" universe. This is something completely new and separate, so I hope you like it in its own right. And don't worry, I'll be updating Pendulum soon)
Please leave a review letting me know what you think! Thank you for reading!
The moon rose high and bright above the wintery night. Wind whipped through the trees, rattling any remaining leaves from their branches.
Malfoy Manor, known for it's stately appearance and opulent decor, rose high and cold above the glittering night. A single person trudged up the muddy path towards the front door, their body bent and bracing against the frozen wind.
In the study Narcissa Malfoy stood at the window and watched the approaching figure with narrowed eyes.
"He's here," she announced, spitting the words out as if they tasted sour. "It had better be worth it for him to come to the manor. Even at night- I hope he realizes the risk he's putting us at."
Her husband stood from his desk, and adjusted his robes. "Don't sound so menacing, Cissy," he teased, trying to lighten the mood. "We're doing this for Draco. Didn't we decide it was in his best interest?"
She did not answer him, but internally acknowledged the truth in his words.
"Besides," Lucius leaned in to peck her cheek, "It was your idea." He did not give her time to respond as he bounded toward the door, "I will go fetch our guest."
A few minutes later he was back, leading a grinning Albus Dumbledore.
"Narcissa, so nice to see you tonight. I hope you're staying warm," he greeted her warmly.
She stiffly responded with a polite "Good evening, Professor Dumbledore."
He made no mention of the last time he had seen Narcissa. The witch had thrown herself at his feet and begged him to save her newborn son from Lord Voldemort. She did not regret the decision, but her cheeks burned with shame at the memory of how she had behaved that evening.
Tea was poured, and polite-if strained- pleasantries were exchanged. All along Narcissa watched him for any hint of why he might have requested a meeting. There had been three months of agonizing silence after she last spoke with the man, and then this morning there had been an owl stating that he had urgent business to discuss.
But the man in front of her was merrily discussing the benefits of wooly slippers. She watched him chuckle into his tea and curled her fingers into the arm of the chair. I'm going to curse him if he doesn't get to the point soon, she vowed.
Finally, Dumbledore set his tea cup down. "I suppose you are wondering why I came here tonight?"
It took all of Narcissa's training to prevent herself from screaming at the irritating man. Instead, she simply nodded.
"I assume you are familiar with Tiberius Lester?"
Lucius let out a derisive hiss, "Who isn't? That madman makes himself known to every Pureblood in Magical Europe!"
"Then you are aware of his plan involving the muggleborn children?" Dumbledore's gaze was heavy as he studied the two Malfoys. All trace of his earlier cheer was gone now.
"Well, yes," said Lucius carefully. "I have heard the plan. The Dark Lord determined it was too foolhardy-"
"Indeed it was. The plan was haphazard and poorly executed. Lester did nothing to cover his tracks, and the Aurors caught him at the first home-"
Narcissa's voice cut across Dumbledore's, "Wait, what plan?"
Lucius' eyes never left Dumbledore's. "Lester had the insane idea that if he kidnapped all of the muggleborn children in Britain he could build a slave army and destroy the muggle world. It was completely ridiculous- Dumbledore, you can't mean that he actually infiltrated the Ministry and found the list-"
"-and found the list of Magical Children born to Muggles? Yes, Lucius. I'm afraid he did."
"But he was stopped. So why are we speaking about him?" There was a deep frown on Narcissa's face, and her fingernails dug into the edge of her chair.
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "I'm afraid that the Aurors arrived too late. Lester had already murdered the parents of the child he intended to steal."
"There was nothing in the Prophet-"
"Of course not, Cissa, the Ministry would never want to admit such a thing. Imagine the scandal."
"Lucius is right. The Ministry shut the whole thing down immediately. Lester received the Dementor's Kiss on the spot. I'm afraid there won't even be an investigation."
Narcissa sniffed in disbelief, "Surely you don't expect us to open up an investigation, Dumbledore?" The idiot had been dealt with, surely there was nothing else that needed to be done.
Something crossed the older wizard's face, and for a moment it seemed as if he was disappointed in the two sitting across from him. He exhaled slowly, and turned his head to look through the rain-stricken glass.
"The child was-remarkably- unharmed in the attack. She has been transported to a Muggle orphanage."
Neither Malfoy appeared to be particularly moved by this comment.
"She will remain there until a suitable family can be found to raise her."
The only sound in the room following Dumbledore's statement was that of the fire crackling.
Comprehension slowly dawned in Narcissa's eyes. "You can't mean… Surely you don't intend for us to raise the muggleborn?"
"You said that you wanted me to protect your son. This is how we will do it."
"By bringing a diseased brat into the home?" Lucius spat the words, "We might as well hand Draco over to be raised by the Dark Lord. He'd be far safer."
Narcissa shot her husband a dirty look, then turned to Dumbledore with a somewhat more diplomatic answer. "The child would be happier among her own kind."
Dumbledore smiled, but there was something hard glittering in his eyes. "You are 'her own kind'. She is magical, just as magical as your son. And I am certain that she is healthy and disease-free. She will do no harm to young Draco."
"There must be another way," Lucius stood from his seat, and moved to grip the back of Narcissa's chair. "I'm sure you can find something more useful than raising a child for us to do- I have Ministry access, I can find you any information you would like."
Dumbledore sat back in his seat, "I'm sure you could Lucius, and I am grateful for that. However, at this point the most useful thing you could do would be to raise the child. Listen," his voice hardened a bit when Lucius opened his mouth to interject, "The child's parents were just brutally murdered by a blood supremacist. She is going to have that knowledge for the rest of her life. At this moment, if I leave her where she is, she has the chance to be adopted into a loving family." He took a deep breath, "But there is also the possibility that she will not be adopted. That she will grow up filled with hatred for the society that allowed her parents to be slaughtered. If we aren't careful we may have another Dark Lord on our hands- one bent on the destruction of all Purebloods."
It was an extreme possibility, but it had captured the attention of the Malfoys.
"But why, in Merlin's name, would you want us to be the ones to raise her?" Lucius asked. "Surely another family wouldn't mind- the Weasleys would barely notice the extra child in their brood."
Dumbledore inclined his head, "The Weasleys are an excellent choice-" he continued without acknowledging Lucius' snort of disbelief," -but I believe that the girl would have a better purpose here."
Narcissa cocked her head to the side, and stared intently as she waited for him to continue.
"If a child were to be raised by the Dark Lord's inner circle- with all the advantages that come with being part of the Pureblood elite-"
Lucius' chest seemed to visibly inflate.
"-Then it is highly likely that Voldemort would want to include that child among his closest companions."
"You want the child to be a Death Eater?" Lucius asked.
Dumbledore shook his head, "Not exactly. Not fully, at least." He reached up to adjust his glasses, "I intend for the child to be raised to fit in with Pureblood society while also maintaining the knowledge of her true ancestry. In the end I trust that the child's loyalties will lie with those who would not have murdered her parents for the simple fact that they were Muggles. It would not be easy to raise such a child, but I'm certain that you two will be more than up to the task."
He fixed them with another expectant look, and took an irritating slurp of tea.
Once again it was Narcissa who figured it out first.
"So," she said, "you want us to raise you a spy."
The Badger was one of the most respected pubs in Wizarding Britain. It was established by Hufflepuffs, as the name indicated, and therefore had all of the tell-tale symbols of their House. Yellow and black banners hung from every wall, the image of badgers was everywhere- from the stamped cutlery to the tapestries on the wall. As if the patrons were not already informed of the association with Hogwarts' friendliest house, a giant portrait of Helga Hufflepuff hung above the mantle.
Inside, the atmosphere was always cheery. Large copper birds perched in the rafters and sang raucously while stamping out a rhythm. A fiddle with no musician played itself in the corner, and hundreds of glittering candles twinkled above the tables. On many nights, the scrubbed wooden tables were pushed back to create a makeshift dance-floor. Everyone who passed though the round door left happier. It was the most welcoming place in Diagon Alley…
Which is why it was the perfect place for Lord Voldemort to meet the inner circle of his Death Eaters.
The snow crunched below Lucius' feet as he passed the front entrance of The Badger, and made his way up the rickety staircase at the back of the building. He hoped that the Dark Lord was in a good mood this evening.
Apparently, he was. As soon as the blonde man stepped into the low ceilinged room, Voldemort grinned and shouted, "Lucius! Join us, we were just about to finish up here."
Were it not for his red eyes and sickly complexion, Voldemort might have been handsome. He sat on a squashy yellow armchair before the fireplace, and beckoned to Lucius as an eager mentor might to his prize pupil.
It struck Lucius for the first time how wrong it felt to be here in this little room with some of the most despicable people he had ever met. Granted, he counted himself among those despicable people. But the room was cozy, and homey. There were soft chairs, and the floorboards vibrated from the merriment below. They might have been schoolboys in a meeting of their secret society.
But they were not.
Lucius plastered an interested look on his face, and accepted a tin of cauldron cakes and a glass of firewhisky.
"May I beg an audience with you my lord?" The words he had once so dutifully spoken sounded ridiculous and childish.
Voldemort's eyes glinted with curiosity, "But of course," he set aside the evening Prophet, and leaned closer to Lucius, his face a mask of concern. "What troubles you, Lucius?"
Lucius thought back to the words Dumbledore wrote for him the night before.
"My lord you know that my wife, Narcissa, prides herself on her many charitable contributions."
Voldemort nodded, but behind him Lucius' sister-in-law, Bellatrix Lestrange, stiffened, and drew closer so that she could hear the conversation. Lucius ignored her.
"She has been spending quite a it of time at one of the orphanages, and this past weekend I learned why. It appears that she has fallen in love with one of the children there, a girl named Hermione. She has asked me to consider adopting this child."
Voldemort nodded, but his expression was uninterested. "Why should this trouble you, Lucius?"
"My Lord, the girl is a half-blood." Dumbledore had insisted that he inform Voldemort that the girl was a half-blood, the headmaster seemed to be of the opinion that the entire success of their plan rested on this fact.
Apparently, he knew what he was talking about. Voldemort sat up a little straighter, his expression interested. "A half-blood?"
"Yes, My Lord, I'm afraid my wife had already fallen in love with the girl before she knew."
"Well, she would not be the first half-blood in our society. Many of them can be molded into respectable witches or wizards. I'm sure that, with the right guidance, she would be a credit to the Malfoy name."
"I'm sure you are right, but there's more." Lucius swallowed, his eyes never leaving Voldemort's, "Draco is a sickly baby, we're…" he let out a shuddering breath, his skin burning from the heat of Bellatrix's stare, "we're afraid that he might not make it through the winter. If he does, well, the
Healers have hinted that he may never have the strength to follow in my footsteps. Naturally he will still be my heir, but I'm afraid that he'll never have the strength to participate in politics, or to be a credit in your inner circle." There was a flicker in Voldeort's eyes, so Lucius continued quickly, "What I'm saying is that Narcissa hopes that the girl will take over the political responsibilities, and that she will follow me into your inner circle. I told her that you might not accept a half-blood, but she begged me to ask."
Lucius watched the Dark Lord consider his words. For a moment he was certain that Dumbledore had been a fool, had put his entire family at risk.
"Well, I could never break Narcissa's heart." There was a rough scrape of laughter, and Voldemort smiled in what he surely thought was a fatherly grin,
"And if Draco is weak it makes sense that you would want to provide another Malfoy to follow in your footsteps. The girl is young, and will be living under the guidance of one of the most distinguished Pureblood families. I'm sure that you can counteract any damage that her Muggle side would have on her character."
Relief washed through Lucius, far stronger than the outrage he felt when Voldemort called his son 'weak'.
"There is one final thing, My Lord. This girl is related to Albus Dumbledore. A niece, or cousin. It's not quite clear to me. You know how all of his answers are vague."
Voldemort's eyes widened in surprise, but he did not interrupt.
"He requests that her adopted family allow him to visit once a week. I can, of course refuse-"
"No." Voldemort said, just as Dumbledore predicted he would, "Allow the girl to cultivate that relationship, it could prove useful in the future." He leaned forward, "Bring her tomorrow evening. I would like to meet this child."
"I will, My Lord. I will," promised Lucius, his breathing much easier now.
Voldemort waved a hand, "Now go, tell your wife the good news."
Lucius stood, eager to leave. He was aware of Bellatrix walking behind him as he crossed to the door.
"Give Cissy my love," she drawled quietly so that only he could hear, "And tell her I'll be by for a visit soon. I would like to check in on dear, sick little Draco."
He held her gaze for a long moment. She knew that something was going on, something deeper than what he had told the Dark Lord.
"I'll do that," he said curtly. Then he swept out into the night, and disappeared.
Well, let me know what you think!