Authour's Notes: Since I first started this story back in December of 2002, my writing has drastically improved. I've learnt so much about writing simply by being a part of the Harry Potter fandom.
I decided to go back and edit the first thirteen chapters for continuity errors, typos, grammar, style, etc. So that you, the reader, may better enjoy this story. Since I started this fic long before OotP came out, it is now considered an AU, but there are still OotP spoilers sprinkled throughout which actually made An Ideal Death Eater, and some of the main plot points, more closely related to canon.
Now for the warnings:
I have portrayed the characters in this story as closely as possible to canon. At times, they mayseem out of character, but I ask that you keep reading because things you don't understand now will become clearer eventually. Everything unfolds and I try not to rush things. One of my main goals for AIDE is for the characters as we know them in canon to grow up, so this story deals with real issues whilst still maintaining the old world feel of the Harry Potterverse.
There are no evil people in this fic, aside from Voldemort, perhaps. J For every action, there is a consequence. For every consequence, there is a lesson to be learnt. Every character has more depth than what is immediately shown, so I ask that you don't drop this story simply because one of your favourite characters is shown temporarily in a bad light.
AIDE is dark at times, humorous in others. I attempt to resist cliché and capture originality. Sometimes I will fail, other times I will succeed. There will be torture, slash, het, and character deaths. It all may get a bit graphic at times, but I assure you that I'll give fair warning before you read something graphically violent or sexual. If you don't feel up to reading a humorously dark fic, then stop now and find something else to read. For those who stay, please make sure to leave constructive reviews at the end.
Summer's end was signalled by a high-pitched whistle that echoed through Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters. The train to Hogwarts appeared to be the same shiny red it was the last time they had stood there, maybe even more so covered by a thick sheen of rain. With heavy hearts, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley boarded the Hogwarts Express, knowing that this was to be their final year as students attending that prestigious institute of learning. Ginny, entering her sixth year, trailed behind them.
"Just think, Hermione, after this year there won't be any more revision. You'll be heartbroken," Ron teased as they all sat down in the cushy compartment Ginny had found empty.
"Oh," Hermione groaned, throwing herself in the seat across from Ron. Harry glanced up in mild surprise. "Don't remind me. Unlike some others, I actually enjoy learning new things. But, just because we are leaving Hogwarts soon, doesn't mean that we have to stop learning. I'll be attending the Aurors´ Academy in Belfast. I just received my acceptance letter yesterday."
"Way to go! At least now I know I won't be by myself next year." Harry pounded Hermione on the back hard before he forgot that she was quite a bit smaller than him and stopped. "Oh, sorry, Hermione."
"That's all right, Harry. I know you're excited," she coughed out after the air had caught up with her lungs once more.
"You're both going to Aurors´ Academy?" Ron exclaimed, crossing his arms and pouting like a petulant child. "What about me?"
Harry sighed, ready for another argument, another explanation. "You didn't want to go, remember?"
"Yeah, but that was only because . . . well, I didn't want to leave Hermione and Ginny in England by themselves," he finished quietly.
Dark brown eyes flashed with annoyance at the edge of Harry's vision. "You thought I wouldn't be accepted into the Academy, Ron?" Hermione asked, her tone deceptively sweet.
"Well, not that exactly . . ." Ron trailed off. "Aww ruddy hell, you're gonna bosh me anyway. So it doesn't matter what I say now, does it?"
"Ronald Weasley! I've asked you not to swear in front of me. Think of your sister at least." Hermione shook her head and picked at the edge of her cloak.
Ron glanced at his sister, his mouth twitching, and then back to Hermione across from him. "I said ruddy, and hell's not a bad word. ´Sides, she's a mouth like a sailor that one does. You should hear her at home!"
"It's small wonder with examples such as yourself," Hermione said, icily prim.
"Hermione, maybe you should give S.P.A.S a rest just now. We have a ways to go and the train hasn't even started moving yet," Harry sighed out of the side of his mouth.
Ron snorted at Ginny. "Yeah. Society for the Prevention of Adolescent Swearing."
Harry rolled his eyes; it was going to be a long trip.
Suddenly, the door to the compartment was flung open and a dark-hooded figure stepped forward, filling the frame with his shoulders. Silvery droplets clung to the expensive black velvet and seemed to wink as the fabric shifted.
And the drama was only just beginning.
Ron sucked in a breath and screamed. "Aah! A Death Eater!"
The figure snorted and pushed the hood back, allowing the washed out sunlight to gleam softly over his moon-tinted hair.
"Bloody hell," Harry breathed. "Is that old Spindle-legs there?"
This statement earned him a hard thump from Hermione and he winced. "Sorry, Hermione."
Ron recovered himself, flushing briefly with anger and embarrassment. "Same bloody thing as a Death Eater."
Hermione was staring at Draco Malfoy in puzzlement, not even bothering to reprimand Ron. Ginny just swallowed, her eyes the size of dinner plates.
"He looks . . . different."
"Yeah," Ron piped up, fully recovered. "He isn't a spider."
Harry snorted and Draco only glared more fiercely.
"Don't think I've forgotten your little joke from last year, Potter. I'll be returning the favour soon, have no doubt about that."
"So what, you decided to come and scare us half to death in that get-up? Not much of a revenge if you ask me." Ron snickered.
Draco narrowed his eyes dangerously. "No, I figured I would give you all fair warning." He turned to sweep out of the small room but paused to aim a crisp glance at Harry on his way out. "Be on your toes this year, Potter."
With his exit, Hermione breathed a sigh of relief and Ginny rubbed arms that had suddenly gone numb with cold.
"What did you do to him last year, Harry?" Ginny asked, a little unsure she wanted to hear the answer.
Ron smacked her arm in a friendly manner and guffawed. "Oh it was priceless, really. Harry there turned him into a spider on the train home before hols and he was almost squashed by the food trolley coming through!"
"I wouldn't laugh too hard, Ron. You screamed like a girl when you saw him come racing towards you on eight legs," Harry smirked. "Besides, I didn't even think of his getting almost squashed," he added in a whisper to himself.
"Wasn't my fault! I'm scared of spiders, you know that." Ron slumped forward and crossed his arms. Ginny however, was howling with mirth.
"I wish I could have seen it! Ron screaming and Malfoy skittering." She wiggled her fingers in a motion that could only be determined by Harry as that of a spider, creeping about.
"Was it just me or did Malfoy seem— " Hermione broke off, searching her extensive vocabulary for the proper word. "Wider?"
"Well, he'd almost have to be wouldn't he? Couldn't have gotten any thinner than he was before," Harry answered.
"Aye, that grub was about the lankiest git I've ever seen. Even worse than poor Harry here after the twins tested that growth toffee on him."
"Well, you are pretty thin, Harry." Hermione patted his arm soothingly.
"I'll catch it up soon enough," he argued. "It wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for that toffee. I'm not supposed to be this tall!"
Ginny shook her head. "The way these two eat, I'm surprised they haven't tripled in size. If I ate as much as they do, you'd have to roll me down the street."
"They're boys, Ginny. They can do all sorts of things that would put us in an early grave," Hermione said before heaving a long-suffering groan.
"Too right! I'd hate to see you both in the Quivering Rooster or some such place. Not fit for ladies."
Ginny and Hermione turned a cool glance in Ron's direction. "Have you been frequenting such a place, Ron?" Ginny asked coolly.
Ron sent a silent plea to Harry for help, but he only shook his head. "Sorry mate, you opened your mouth."
"I didn't go by my bleedin´ self!"
Harry's ears turned bright red as the girls glanced at him. "We— I mean— "
"Oh Ron!" Hermione shrilled. "What would your mum say?"
"She won't know if you don't squeal on us."
"But that place is dangerous! There are all sorts of bad elements there," Hermione gasped. "Think of those horrid women strutting about in almost nothing."
Harry smothered a grin and winked at Ron from beside Hermione.
"I think they were thinking of those horrid women, Hermione," Ginny snapped peevishly. "Honestly, and Ron wouldn't even let me go on an innocent trip to visit Colin this summer."
"Innocent?" Ron roared. "That bloke has had his way with more girls than you could count. Like I'd leave you alone with the likes of him. Creepy little feck."
"He has not!" Ginny shouted back fiercely. "He only told you guys that because— " she stopped and closed her mouth quickly.
"Nothing. It isn't any of your business."
"Like he— "
"Ron!" Harry barked. He could feel a pressure behind his eyes start to build and he knew he was going to have a migraine soon enough if Ron didn't just stop. "Leave her alone, all right."
"But she— "
"Drop it; you're acting like a two year-old. Let's all try to get some rest before we're back at Hogwarts. We were all up late packing for school," Harry grunted as he bunched up his cloak and stuffed it behind his head.
He didn't feel the need to sleep so much as he was just tired of the bickering. Ron muttered something off colour under his breath and followed suit. Hermione yawned and put her feet up on Ron's lap, resting her head on Harry's shoulder. Ginny's legs weren't long enough to reach across the seat so she tucked her heels underneath her and leaned over to put her head on Ron's shoulder.
It was this scene to which Harry awoke later, startled to realise that they were already at Hogwarts Station.
Harry rubbed sleep-crusted eyes as he gazed around the room. Dusk was setting in and he could hear the last of the students stomping off the train.
"Wake up everyone, we're here."
Hermione yawned and stretched small, slim fingers up into the air above her head. "Already? We just went to sleep."
"Ron, wake up." Harry shook him lightly and frowned when it failed to rouse him. "Ron!" he snapped.
"Butterflies! Aaah!" Ron jumped up as if he had just sat on a Blast-Ended Skrewt. Ginny fell to the floor and smashed her face against the seat's edge.
"Ow! What did you do that for?" she cried, rubbing at the blood dribbling down her chin. Harry felt his lip twitch for only a moment before he helped her up and put his handkerchief against the wound. The Weasleys were all overly dramatic.
"We'll take you to Madame Pomfrey as soon as we get inside Hogwarts," he assured her.
Hermione stopped fussing with her cloak and crossed her arms, smirking up at Ron. "Butterflies?"
He scowled. "Yeah, butterflies. They'd scare you too if there was loads of them flittering about your head."
"Never mind," Hermione moaned as she moved over to Ginny. "Let me take a look at that." Ginny lifted her chin obligingly as Hermione prodded the wound gently with her finger.
"That will need a suture charm, and I don´t know how to do that yet. But I can make it stop bleeding." Hermione raised her wand and touched it to Ginny´s bottom lip. "Sanguin Ligare!"
Instantly the blood stopped gushing and the wound sealed over. The split was deep though, it would need to be put back together or poor Ginny would appear as if she had an upside-down harelip.
"Hey!" Ron shouted. "The door is locked."
"Locked?" Harry frowned. "Use your wand if it's stuck."
The door remained stubbornly locked, despite Ron's desperate attempts at pulling it open.
"You'll only injure yourself, you perverse thing. Someone must have charmed it," Hermione calmly stated what seemed like an obvious conclusion to her.
"Malfoy," breathed both Harry and Ron.
Ginny's face paled and her mouth fell open, her breath coming in small pants before she ran over to the door and tugged the handle as hard as she could. "Help! Let us out of here." Ginny pounded on the door, hyperventilating slightly as she struggled with the lock. "I can´t stand being stuck in here like this!" she sobbed.
"Shh, Ginny. It'll be alright," Hermione soothed as she made Ginny take a seat and breathe calmly and deeply before turning to look outside. "Ron, see if the window will go up. We may be able to float down if we can squeeze our way out of it."
Both Harry and Ron pushed and pulled with all of their might. It didn't budge by a fingerbreadth.
"Rumpere!" Ron screamed at the casement. It did nothing; the window was magically shielded. The spell bounced off and hit Harry's glasses instead, causing them to shatter.
"Thanks, Ron," Harry mumbled as he removed his glasses and fumbled for his wand to repair them.
"Sorry." Ron flushed brightly and toed the floor with the tip of his shoe.
Suddenly, the train lurched and began to leave Hogwarts Station. Through the window, they could all see Malfoy smirking at them. He raised a hand in mocking farewell and Ginny returned it, rudely.
"Ginny!" Hermione slapped her hand. "I don't care if he is a prat, that was just awful."
She shrugged and took her seat again. "We're stuck on the train and going back to London. He did it, so he deserved a full salute."
"We're going to miss the feast," Ron moaned as he and Harry's stomachs rumbled loudly, the sound echoing off of the walls. "Again."
"Is all you think about food related?" Ginny snapped.
"Well, not all I think about . . ." he mused.
"Oh, right. I forgot about your collection of Playwizard under the creaky step on the stairs at home."
Ron´s eyes bulged. "How did you— "
"Percy showed me. He thought I may want to burn them if you ever hacked me off too badly."
"Percy is an annoying, swotty git. I'm gonna— "
"This isn't helping anything!" Harry raised his voice and cut Ron off before he had a chance to detail his brother's demise.
"Well, what are we going to do? Sit around and play Exploding Snap? We are on our way back to London!" Ron yelled, red-faced and panting from a curious mix of frustration and embarrassment.
"Both of you stop it, I'm getting a migraine." Ginny put a hand to her head and leaned back into her seat.
Harry looked around the compartment forlornly. What a way to begin his seventh year.
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
~ William Blake~
"Mr Malfoy," Professor McGonagall pulled the boy aside after his Advanced Transfiguration class was through.
"Professor Dumbledore sent me a note stating that you are to go directly to his office after this class was over."
Draco studied the note in her hand blankly, idly wondering what sort of punishment was in store for him after his little trick on Potter and his crew.
"Go on, he´s expecting you," McGonagall urged with a tiny push to his back.
Draco grumbled as he made his way toward the Headmaster's office. He knew where it was, but since his Head of House, Professor Snape, dealt with most problems Draco had never been there before.
The spiral stairs were down and he stepped into the small nook, waiting to be taken up towards whatever fate had in store for him today. It was bad enough that Potter and his group managed to make it back from London so quickly. Only took one night and in they stomped, bright and fresh as if they had spent the evening in their dorms sleeping on feather mattresses instead of a cramped train car.
Draco groused some more before finally stepping up to the Headmaster's door and knocking softly.
"Come in, Draco."
He sucked a deep breath through his nose and walked into the warm, cluttered room. The heat was almost too much. The permanent frost that usually covered his body was being shocked off to retreat elsewhere for the time being. His fingers tingled as they started to thaw. It was nearly close to being full-blown pain.
"You wished to see me, Headmaster?" Draco bowed his head in what he hoped was taken as a gesture of respect and subservience. Obedience was a lesson thoroughly drilled into his brain from day one.
"Yes, come take a seat." Dumbledore gestured to the chair before his desk. Draco sat as he was bid and waited impatiently for the Headmaster to say something.
It was a long time in coming.
Dumbledore tilted his head to the side and surveyed the boy long and hard before finally beginning to speak.
"You've grown this summer, Draco."
The man waved this aside. "Call me Dumbledore. Enough of that Headmaster bit; makes me want to look around for who you're addressing."
Draco did not smile.
"Lemon sherbet?" Dumbledore offered.
"No, thank you."
Dumbledore shrugged and popped a few of the sweets in his mouth, chewing them softly before he continued.
"You look to be more of a man this year, Draco. I understand the other students were teasing you last term because you were so tall and thin. But you've filled out, I see."
"Yes, sir." Draco fought hard to keep the bite out of his words. Spindle-legs, among others, had not been his first choice of nicknames.
"That's good, that's good." Dumbledore leaned back and put another of the Muggle sweets into his mouth. "I think you know why you are here today, Draco."
Malfoy lifted an elegant brow. "Not exactly, sir. Perhaps you could enlighten me?"
"You were seen charming a compartment door on the Hogwarts Express yesterday."
He didn't have to say which door; Draco knew full well which door it had been. "I believe they were mistaken, sir."
"Possible," Dumbledore nodded, his old voice strong and sure. "Very possible. However, I've summoned you here for another reason. All punishment aside, I believe you suffered enough on your way home last year for me to further bother you with house points and that sort of rubbish. I'll leave that between Mr Potter and yourself."
"Then why am I here, sir?" Draco asked, honestly puzzled.
Dumbledore sighed and steepled his fingers closely. "What I am about to say can be taken anyway that you wish. I only mean to inform and possibly prevent further harm to yourself and others."
Others being Potter and his followers, of course. Draco swore silently to himself but continued to arrange a blank mask on the outside.
"I would like for you, if at all possible, to at least restrain your temper when it comes to Mr Potter and his friends. I know that the rivalry between you is legendary, but for the sake of the world, put it aside and concentrate on your studies this year.
"I don't expect you to be friends, merely not so openly hostile towards each other. I've already had this conversation with Mr Potter and the rest of his group. So you shouldn't have too much of a problem with instigation on their part." The old man knitted his eyebrows together and looked over his half-moon spectacles to further relate the serious nature of his words. "They are all in grave peril each and every time they step outside of Hogwarts. Harry for obvious reasons; Miss Granger and Mr Weasley because of their connection to him.
"The incident on the train, although seemingly harmless, could have cost them their very lives. Voldemort´s supporters are everywhere and see everything. It was a ripe opportunity to finally have done with The Boy Who Lived and we can't allow it to happen again." Dumbledore shook his head sadly before continuing. "It is dark times we are in now, boy. Darker still yet to come. It's not the time for petty rivalries."
"I understand, Headmaster," Draco parroted the acceptable response, fully well aware that he had called him `Headmaster´ once again. Why the old man thought he could be trusted was unclear to him. Maybe he was being toyed with. Any fool knew that Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater. And it was furthermore commonly known among the Hogwarts crowd that Draco was just as dark and unfeeling as his father. Draco revelled in their petty assumptions.
"Do you truly understand, I wonder." Dumbledore faded back into his thoughts, obviously musing something carefully. "You may go, young Malfoy."
Draco stood to leave but was instantly set upon by a large, scarlet-feathered bird. He tried to shove it off his shoulder but to no avail.
"What does it want?" he ground out, not caring anymore that he sounded hardly civil. The professor did nothing, merely waiting for what would happen next. The beautiful phoenix spread its wings and bent down to carefully rip open Draco's fine, Egyptian cotton shirt with its beak.
"Sir, get this thing off of me at once!" Draco shouted, attempting in vain to push the bird away.
Dumbledore didn't answer, didn't move, still watching with hooded eyes as the bird finally revealed Draco's pale chest under the remains of his white oxford. From the corner of its eye appeared a large, pearly drop of fluid, which seemed to hover a moment in the air before splashing on Draco's skin.
From the instant of contact, Draco felt a burning where the tear had fallen. Heat radiated and spread out to every pore of his body. Light-headed, he fell back against the chair and grabbed his aching chest in one hand. The bird sent out a keen of song that further aggravated Draco's sensitive brain before flying off to land on top of a large cage in the corner of the room.
"What did it do to me?" Draco cried, still clutching his chest with a violently trembling hand.
"I'm sorry, my boy," Dumbledore answered mildly. "I don't like to bother Fawkes when he is keen on doing something. That was only a tear that you felt. Apparently he felt you in need of healing."
"Healing?" Draco whispered furiously, looking down to see if there was actually a wound where the tear fell. There was none. "I'm burning all over!"
There was a twinkle in Dumbledore's eye that Draco almost missed. "You may want to see Madame Pomfrey then. It's possible you are allergic to phoenix tears."
"Y-yes," Draco whispered, hating the way his voice trembled. "I think I'll do that. Am I dismissed?"
"Of course, go and see Poppy now. Maybe she can help."
Draco nodded dumbly and stood to leave. How he managed to stumble to the Infirmary, he hadn't the faintest clue. He only knew that there was a roaring fire in his chest, and his brain fairly exploded in full sensory overload as each sound, each step he took, every drip of water down the cool, stone walls crashed against him like waves breaking on shore.
Madame Pomfrey checked him over, placing a wonderfully cool hand on his feverish brow before clucking her tongue and sending him straight to a standard bed.
It was only after she had administered a very pungent, foul-tasting potion that he was allowed to rest. The thunder in his head was dulling, as if someone had pulled up a blanket to shroud his mind. Sighing half-contented, Draco drifted off to sleep.
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