Draconis Malfoy rode on the back of his large black Stallion, riding at the head of a Legion of foot soldiers, seven other knights rode beside him, like him, they were clad in black armor, most had their helmets on, skull like masks hiding their identity from most, but Draco kept his off, hating how it narrowed his vision, to his left and right, his trusted friends Crabbe and Goyle riding beside him.
"Well that expedition was fun." Goyle said with a grin, "I missed the feeling of cleaving someone in two."
"The battle only lasted for five minutes." Crabbe complained, "you two got to fight, all I got was dirt in my mouth."
"Then don't let your steed get killed." Goyle laughed.
Malfoy just rolled his eyes, "you two need to get over this blood lust." He muttered, "haven't you heard that berserkers always die a horrible death?"
"As long as my deaths on the battle field, I'm content." Goyle said.
"But I'd rather live." Crabbe grumbled tartly.
Draco shook his head, the so called 'battle' really had been no less then five minutes against a small contingent of foot soldiers still loyal to the old king, he didn't even have to unsheathe his sword for it, not too many of the Death Eater knights had bothered to draw their weapons, only Crabbe and Goyle, who's bloodlust and warmongering were well known throughout England, had even attempted to attack alongside the foot soldiers, Draco looked ahead, squinting, "Zabini, how long until we reach the castle? I've grown tired of listening to Crabbe and Goyle talk."
"Couple more minutes and it should be in sight." Zabini said, "Shall we let the foot soldiers go on ahead?"
Draco thought about it, "might as well" he said, "They get a little pissy when we don't."
Zabini laughed, "FORWARD!" he shouted, and instantly the men cheered and took off running towards a large castle in the distance, the other knights rode forwards too, slightly ahead of the main body of men, Malfoy urged his mount into a steady trot, not falling behind, but not going very fast. Soon he reached the gates, where Crabbe and Goyle were waiting.
"You're just in time to watch the claiming." Goyle said, watching as the men dispersed and started talking to the women, flexing, and talking about their great battle that they had just been through, every now and then someone shouted "CLAIMED!" and the men would cheer as the man would walk away with a women on his arm.
"Hmmph, bunch of idiocy." Malfoy muttered. "This tradition needs to be destroyed, I'm surprised the dark lord hasn't done away with it already."
"Come on, it's not too bad." Goyle said, "sometimes, claiming a women for even a night, could do a man good."
"Yeah, it's real good fun." Crabbe said.
"Didn't the last girl you claim turn out to be a man?" Malfoy asked, making Goyle laugh and Crabbe turn red, Malfoy didn't pay attention as he looked around, the men were still trying to gain the attention of some of the more withdrawn ladies, two soldiers were trying to talk to a woman who was by the well, a woman that looked familiar to Malfoy, she had porcelain skin and dirty blonde hair, her grey eyes had a spacy, dreamy like gaze to them, she looked at the two soldiers, who were trying to impress her, one of them stepped forward and said, "claimed." As he tried to grab her arm, she easily pulled it away.
"No thank you." she said softly, "I just came out to get some water." She started walking back, until one grabbed her arm.
"I laid claim." He growled, "and I will take what's mine."
"Will you now?" Malfoy snarled, coming up behind the soldier, who instantly let her go, "and what's yours?"
"This…this woman…Sir Malfoy." The man finished.
"I am no ones property, thank you very much." The woman said dreamily, "not yet at least."
"But I called claim!" the soldier shouted, and then shrank back as Malfoy fixed him with a glare.
"The rules of claim." Malfoy growled, "are null and void if the woman is claimed by someone a higher rank then yourself."
'But…there's…there's no one who-"
"Claimed." Malfoy said, making the guards eyes widen.
Malfoy urged his horse forward, coming up alongside the woman, he held his hand out, she looked at it for a few seconds, then simply took it, climbing behind Draco and wrapping her arms around his waist.
"Sir Malfoy…" the soldier started, but stopped as Malfoy glared at him, and then urged his horse forward, away from the crowd, that had stopped and watched.
When they were far enough away, Malfoy looked back at the woman, "what's your name?"
"Luna." She said softly, not looking at him, "Luna Lovegood."
"Loony?" he asked Sneeringly, "What kind of name is Loony?"
"It's Luna." She said patiently, 'Not Luna."
"Well where do you live Loony?" he asked, ignoring her corrections.
"Up on the hill," she said, pointing to a small cottage situated by an oak tree, Malfoy spurred the horse forward and slowed down as they approached, Luna jumped off and landed gracefully on both feet, the bucket of full water still in her hands. She transferred the bucket to her other hand and started walking, straining under the weight, Malfoy rolled his eyes, "give me the damn bucket." He grumbled, taking it from her hands and walking to the front door.
"Such a gentleman." She said with a smile.
Malfoy just grumbled and opened the door; it was a simple dwelling, with a few odd knick-knacks here and there, such as several ropes hanging from the ceiling, Radish-like plants hanging from them. He set the bucket of water on the table and turned to Luna, "where's your parents?" he asked.
"I'm an adult you know." She said, "Though I may be short, I am 17."
"Girls your age usually live with her parents." Malfoy muttered.
"Well…I don't." she said, taking the bucket and pouring it into a black cauldron sitting on a wood fire, she looked at him for a few seconds, not distrusting, but wary.
"What?" he asked harshly.
"N-nothing." She said, turning back to the black cauldron, "I just...what you did back there..."
"I only laid claim so you could get away from those ruffians." He muttered, looking away, "you dishonor my name if you think I'd try to force my self on you."
"Well I don't want to dishonor you." she said with a cheerful smile, "would you like to stay for Dinner? I do owe you for helping me with the soldiers."
He hesitated, "the plan was to just bring you home." He muttered, "I mean…"
"Oh please do stay, I promise I'm a good cook." She said, smiling at him.
He sighed, "Fine…just for Dinner…let me just step outside and get out of my armor."
'Of course." She said, turning to the table and pulling out a knife and several vegetables, including one of the vegetables hanging from the ceiling.
Malfoy stepped out and started stripping out of his armor, putting it by the door, he heard his horse whiney, making him look over, it pawed the ground impatiently, "sorry, she invited me to stay to eat, I'll take the saddle off, but you better stay here." He said, walking forward and pulling the saddlebags and the saddle itself off his horse, "I'll see if she has oats." He said, turning around, where he almost ran into Luna, who was walking out with a bag.
"I thought your horse would be hungry." She said simply, putting the bag of oats on the ground, she walked back inside, "war is hungry business after all." She said dreamily, as she passed under the threshold.
Malfoy watched her for a few seconds, then put the bag in front of the horse, "eat up." he said, "spoiled arse." He started walking in, and jumped when the horse nudged his back, startling him, "oh laugh it up." he muttered walking inside, where Luna was now cutting fresh beef into squares and seasoning them, "where'd the meat come from?" he asked.
"I went by the butcher earlier today, he's a really nice man, always smiling." She said happily, dumping the meat in to the stew, "It'll be ready in a few." She started stirring the pot, "thank you again for helping me with those soldiers, I don't think they had anything noble on their minds before you showed up."
"Hmmph, scum of the earth they are." He said with disdain, "foot soldiers…unruly, undisciplined, just Neanderthals swinging a sword."
"A little harsh." She said, pondering his words with a thoughtful look, "but most likely true, they kept going on about the men they killed in a three hour long battle."
Malfoy snorted, "the so called 'battle' last five minutes." He said with a small smirk, "fifty foot soldiers caught sleeping by a legion, it wasn't a battle…"
"Sounds more like a slaughter…" she said quietly, putting a bowl of stew in front of him, "would you like some wine? Water?"
"Water will be fine." He said, looking at the stew, "got any bread?"
"Sorry, Food shortages." She said, "I suspect Nargles."
"…Nargles?" he asked hesitantly.
"Small little pixie-like creatures, they like to cause mischief by stealing things, the Dirigible plums keep them away."
Malfoy almost laughed, but refrained from doing so, as she was the one who had given him food, "they sound like nasty buggers." He chortled.
"Oh they are, their teeth hurt too." She put a chipped cup of water in front of him, he took a bite of the stew and an explosion of flavor shot through his mouth, both sweet and salty, he forced himself to simply nod.
"Not terrible." He said, after swallowing, "what did you put in this again?" he asked as he started to scoop out another spoonful.
"The dirigible plums for one." She said, "carrots, leaks, onions, beef squares, and a few drops of homemade whiskey from the butcher."
"The butcher brews whiskey?" Malfoy asked with a raised eyebrow.
"He's also an accomplished singer." She said with a vacant smile as she started to eat her own food.
"Whiskey probably isn't even that good." He muttered.
"I'd give you some, but the last of it went into the stew, he'd probably be willing to sell you a bottle for a couple galleons."
"Or I can just confiscate it, as it's illegal brewing." He said, taking a drink of water.
"Why would you want to do that to such a kind man?" she asked, her eyebrows furrowing.
"I'm a Knight, I kind of enforce the law." Malfoy said.
"Oh but he's not doing anything overly bad." She said, "he's simply gaining a little more money, something most people need."
"Like you?" he asked, looking around the cottage, "this place looks ready to fall down."
"I get by with what I have, I don't need anything else but food and water." She said cheerfully.
He watched her, "well, thank you for the stew." He said politely.
"Would you like another serving?"
Malfoy looked at the cauldron still half-filled with stew, "I'll take another bowl." He said, trying not to sound too eager.
Luna smiled and refilled his bowl, handing it back, "what was this expedition about?" she asked him, "They never announce what they do."
"Because that would make us lose the element of surprise." Malfoy said, "We were just scouting, trying to find Potter and his band of rogues." Potter, he thought bitterly of his one time rival, now turned rebel, after the fall of King Scrimgeour, Potter had rounded up every knight and soldier still loyal to the old king and had stolen away, hitting the new Dark Lords armies and supplies whenever they could, "they managed to slip away yet again."
Luna looked at him, "is that bad?"
"Yes, it's the worse thing that could happen." He muttered, then looked at her, "you don't side with those rebels do you?"
"I don't side with anyone." She said simply, "I just go about my business and hope no one tries to stab me."
Malfoy smirked, "don't we all?' he looked out the window and groaning, "Damn, I'm late." He grumbled, standing up, "thank you for the food Loony."
"Luna." She corrected again, "and you're quite welcome."
He walked out the door and put his armor on, Luna followed, and asked, "will you come back?"
"Why would I want to?" he asked.
"I don't know." She admitted, "but I barely ever get visitors, it'd be nice to have one."
He sighed, "Fine, whatever, don't hold your breath." He said, climbing on to his horse and urging it into a dead run, back towards the large dark keep, as soon as he was inside the walls he was jumping off his horse and walking briskly into the large, black granite halls, his hand on the pommel of his sword, soon he reached a large room lit by a green fire, an oak table sat in the middle surrounded by twelve men in black armor, at the head of the table sat the Dark Lord Voldemort, a pale man covered in black robes, his slitted red pupils watching Draco as he took his spot, "welcome, young Draco." He whispered, "What kept you? Nothing bad I hope."
"I had some business in town my lord, and my time ran away from me, it will not happen again." He said, bowing to the man.
"I should hope not…Dolohov, Rosier, what do you have to report?" he asked, turning to two of the men closest to him.
"We tracked a small contingent of the order of the phoenix," Dolohov said, "and were able to kill off most of their forces, Lieutenants Mad-eye Moody and Remus Lupin escaped capture, however, Amelia Bones and
He said nothing, but instead, turned to Draco, "and what have you to report? Draco?"
"We ran into a small contingent of soldiers still flying the kings standard, despite our despite our request to put down their arms, they attacked, and we slaughtered them in due course."
"Excellent…the time of the old king has passed." He said, standing up, "with us in control, the rest of the isles are sure to fall in line, however, the resistance from not only the Order of the Phoenix, but the group now calling themselves, Dumbledore's army, are sure to hamper our progress, from now on, our highest priority is to track down these rebels, and eliminate them, with extreme prejudice."
"Yes my lord. 'They all echoed.
"Draco, I want you and your cohort to concentrate on Dumbledore's army." He said, "Harry Potter has been rumored to lead them, I want you to track them down, and kill all except for potter, you bring him to me, where I shall…make an example, of him."
"Yes my lord."
"Rosier, Avery, Dolohov, concentrate on the Order of the Phoenix, send word to Bellatrix to bring her legion down from Scotland, we'll be needing the extra muscle…the rest of you know what to do, dismissed."
They all stood and bowed to him, before turning and walking out, Malfoy moved to leave, until…
"Draco…" the dark lord whispered, "Stay for a moment, will you?"
"Yes my lord." He said, turning around and standing at attention.
"Stand at ease, my young friend." he said, standing up and walking over to him, "I heard, from Zabini, that you visited a woman, before coming here."
"I did my lord." Malfoy said, 'she was the business I had mentioned, two soldiers were about to take advantage of her, I intervened, and as thanks, she gave me a hot meal."
Voldemort watched him, 'a noble sentiment, young Draco," he said, 'Far noble, then your father ever was…tell me, who was this woman?"
"Her name is Luna Lovegood."
Voldemort smiled, "ah, the Lovegood's, I have not heard their name in years…tell me, is she as…eccentric as I imagine?"
Draco nodded, "she's certainly odd my lord, but she's harmless."
"Good…good…do you feel anything for this woman Draco?"
Nothing," he said truthfully, "a minor acquaintance at best."
"It is best, if it stays as such, her family has long been rumored to be…magical."
Malfoy stiffened, "are you…telling me she's a witch?"
"Maybe she is, maybe she isn't." he drawled, "her mother was, her father wasn't, if we're lucky, the line has died out magically, if we're not…we may need to…ah…eliminate the traces."
Malfoy inwardly shuttered at these words, "of course my lord, just give the word and I will do it."
"For now, it will be unnecessary, but be prepared, if it comes the time to kill, I do not need you hesitating."
"I won't my lord, I never have."
Malfoy sat atop the ramparts of the keep, he was waiting on one of his informants, a woman by the name of Marietta Edgecombe, he hadn't heard from her since his last expedition, he hoped she hadn't been discovered, if she had, he doubted he'd ever hear from her again, a rustling pulled him out of his thoughts, he was instantly on his feet, his hand on his sword as he scanned the grounds below, where he spotted a very familiar looking Blonde, walking through the thick foliage, "she's gonna be the death of me." he muttered, walking down the stairs and out the gates, where she was now knelt, picking something, "what are you doing here Lovegood?" he asked angrily.
"Picking wild parsley," she said, "Feverfew, sweet violet, ooh there's some sage over here too."
He raised an eyebrow, "you're picking herbs?"
"Yes, you'd be surprised how many people come to me when they aren't feeling good, I think it's because my mother always made really good medicine." She said, humming to herself as she picked the plants and placed them in the basket she had, "she taught me a lot before she passed on, so I help as much as I can."
Malfoy watched her, her small hands were pulling the plants out from the ground, roots and all, "why take the entire plant?" he asked, "surely it'd be better to take what you need from it, and then let it grow so you have a steady supply.
"Well that's the problem, I can use almost everything from them, even the seeds, I'll probably keep a few of the seeds to plant when spring comes, but for the most part, I'll dry it out or store it so I can use it later."
He nodded, 'so you're a healer, you didn't tell me that before." He said.
"It didn't seem important." She said, standing up, "I'm going into the forest to see if I can find some Yarrow and Comfrey, they're quite good for healing cuts."
Malfoy watched her leave with a stunned expression, until Zabini's voice shook him out of his stupor.
"Malfoy," Zabini said, walking over.
"Yes?" he asked, turning to Zabini, "has Marietta made it?"
"No, not yet, I'm beginning to wonder if she's dead…"
Malfoy looked down, "What else did you need Zabini?"
"I was wondering if you'd approve of a hunt tomorrow, me and a couple of other men would like to see if we can't scrounge up some fresh meat."
Malfoy nodded, "It'd be good…I'll okay it."
"Thank you." he said, turning around.
"Zabini wait." Malfoy said, "Why did you tell the dark lord I was with Luna?"
He looked at him, "who?"
"The woman!" he said impatiently, "why did you tell him?"
Zabini hesitated, 'he had asked…and I told him."
"Why not just say I had business? As I did when I walked into the hall?"
Zabini looked around, "do you realize that they think someone in our Cohort is a traitor?"
"There's been rumors but…wait…they think I'm the traitor?"
"Avery and Rookwood do, so did Dolohov and Lestrange until last weeks fight." He looked at Malfoy, "no one in the cohort thinks you're a traitor…it's jut…"
"It's just that I'm the new guy." Malfoy said spitefully, "and my loyalties haven't been tested, is that it?"
Zabini nodded, 'when I first told them that you were still in town. Avery and Rookwood exchanged glances, they were already thinking that you were giving information away, and so I let slip that the last I saw of you, you were riding towards a small cottage with a lovely lady, that took away suspicion…I didn't mean to give away any private, personal secrets…"
"Don't worry." Malfoy said, "I was just hoping to keep it silent for a while, but since I can't…"
"Again, I'm sorry." Zabini said, not sounding sorry at all, "I didn't mean to put your relationship on display."
Malfoy looked at him, "how's Pansy?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Oh she's good," Zabini said in relief, glad for the change in subject, "she was talking about heading to Ireland for a few days, bit of a get away you know?"
"I'll see what I could do." He said, "You could even use my family's estate."
"You would do that for us?"
"Of course." Malfoy said, clapping him on the back, "what kind of leader doesn't take care of his people? Now come on, lets go get some food."