Zabini sat with Higgs, Goyle and Crabbe in Luna's cottage, Luna was sitting on her bed, tears trailing down her cheeks, it was three days since the raid and during that time the Dark lord had returned, and placed Draco under arrest, "Malfoy's gonna hang for this…" Higgs muttered, "The dark lord isn't a forgiving one."
"Draco's one of the best commanders the dark lord has." Zabini said, "he won't kill him…but he will make an example of him."
"Flogging?" Crabbe asked, "wouldn't that make the death eaters look…weak?"
"Not weak, " Higgs muttered, "this'll just show that not even a death eater can escape the dark lords wrath."
"Will Draco be alright?" Luna asked softly, making the men look at her.
"We'll make sure he is." Zabini said.
"I'm gonna go tomorrow." Luna said.
"Luna…" Higgs started, "it's not going to be pretty…Malfoy wouldn't want you to watch what's going to happen."
"I'm going to be there…for Draco…"
"Draco would want you to stay here Luna," Goyle said, "and in all honesty…we want you to stay here…the dark lord might decide it'd be better to punish him through you…"
"And we can't have that happen." Zabini said, "So you'll stay here…okay?"
Luna looked like she wanted to argue, but bit her tongue, "okay…"
Draco stood in front of his lord, looking straight ahead, around him stood the other head death eaters, including his aunt Bellatrix.
"So…young Draco." The dark lord started, his voice barely above a whisper, "I leave you in charge of my castle, and give you complete control over the home garrison…and yet not only did you lose our prisoner, but you allowed Harry Potter to escape, along with his top lieutenants, what have you to say for yourself?"
"Nothing my lord," Malfoy said, "I take full responsibility for what has happened; the burden falls on no one else but me."
The dark lord narrowed his eyes, "are you sure about this?"
"Yes my lord…"
He stood up, looking down at Draco, "Remove your armor," he said.
Draco wordlessly reached up and undid his breastplate, letting it fall with a clang to the marble floor; he did the same with the rest of his armor until he was standing in a shirt and pants.
"Macnair," he said, motioning to one of the death eaters, "the chains."
Macnair walked forward, shackling Draco's hands.
"To the courtyard." He said, addressing everyone, they all stood up and walked out, Malfoy at the front of the small group, they lead him out into the courtyard, where the entire Legion was waiting, standing stock still as they watched Malfoy walk out, his head held high.
"This isn't right." Zabini muttered, watching them tie Draco to a whipping post, "he had no control over what happened!"
Higgs nodded slightly, "it wasn't…but he wasn't here when it started…."
"You blame him for that?" Zabini asked, "We were the ones who told him to go and spend time with Luna, that was on us, not him."
Higgs just looked ahead, "where's Goyle?" he asked Zabini.
"He's with Luna." Zabini muttered, "has to stop her from storming down here."
Higgs sighed, "why do we do all this?" he asked, "put up with these punishments, and let some of our best commanders get whipped for something they had no control over?"
"It's how this is." Zabini muttered, fingering a pendant around his neck, "the glorious reign of the Dark Lord."
"Draco Malfoy!" the dark lord shouted, his voice reverberating off the walls, "you have failed in your duty of protecting this town, and this castle, do you deny these charges?"
"No my lord." Draco said, looking his lord dead in the eye.
The dark lord narrowed his eyes, "your punishment," he said, "a hundred, to be doled out by Walden Macnair."
Macnair walked forward, pulling a whip off his side and uncoiling it, it had barbs going through the leather all the way down to the handle, he walked forward and ripped the back of Draco's shirt open, "you need something to bite on kid?" he asked softly, 'no one will look down on you if you do."
Draco gave the slightest shake of his head, "I'm fine…"
Macnair nodded gravely, before taking a few steps back, he lashed out with the whip and caught Draco on his left shoulder blade, the young knight gave a slight grunt but didn't give anything other then that, he continued to stare right at his lord as Macnair brought the whip down three more times, each time the barbs caught on Draco's skin, but Macnair skillfully removed them with a flick of his wrist. He brought the whip down like this ten more times before the dark lord stopped him.
"Are you tickling him or whipping him Macnair!" he asked angrily, "I barely see any blood."
Macnair hesitated, then said, "sorry my lord," then brought the whip down harder, this time he tore open Draco's back from shoulder blade to shoulder blade, Malfoy gritted his teeth as the barbs bit into his back, again and again Macnair brought the whip down, and again and again Draco just gritted his teeth as he felt blood run down his back, all the while staring right at the dark lord.
Zabini clenched his fist as he watched, "a hundred lashes with that damn thing could kill a man." Zabini muttered, starting to move forward, Higgs and Crabbe stopped him.
"Do you want to be punished too?" Crabbe asked softly.
"Draco's strong Zabini, he can handle it." Higgs muttered, "maybe we should go get Luna…he'll need her after it's over."
"STOP!" the dark lord shouted, making the three wolves jump, they looked over to their lord and he was standing and striding over to Draco, Macnair stepped back, not sure what was going to happen, "are you too proud to scream Draco?" he asked coldly, "or is this some kind of silent protest against me."
"I will not give anyone the pleasure of hearing me in pain," Draco muttered, "The burden is mine to bare, mine to feel." He looked at his lord, "if that is a crime, then punish me accordingly, my lord."
Zabini's eyes widened, what had gotten into Draco that he would talk to the Dark lord in such a way? Even putting venom into the very title that once held so much reverence for Draco.
"You will show the dark lord the respect he deserves!" Bellatrix shrieked at her young nephew.
"Hold your tongue Bellatrix." The dark lord growled, before striding over to Draco, he looked the boy in the eyes and saw pain ever present in his eyes, he put his hand to Draco's neck, then pulled a dagger out and slashed Draco across the face, Draco let out a half strangled gasp as he fell to his knee's, Voldemort continued to slash Draco, across the chest, across the back, his arms, "too proud to let it out Draco!" he snarled.
Draco let out strangled gasps, every inch of him burned in pain, he slowly looked up, blood running down his face, he looked the dark lord right in the eye, but said nothing, just stared at him.
"Macnair," the dark lord said coldly, "you were on 83 lashes."
"My lord…" Macnair started.
"Would you like to take his place for the remainder?" he asked, "with Bellatrix being the one who doles out the lashes!?"
Macnair gripped his whip and raised it.
"Wait!" Zabini shouted, running forward, everyone looked at him in a stunned silence as he fell to his knee's in front of the dark lord, "My lord," Zabini said, "Please, I humbly implore you, allow Draco lenience!"
"You dare-" the dark lord started.
"He saved all of our lives here." Zabini said, keeping his eyes down, "he organized us when everything was Chaos, he pulled us together, kept us from wallowing in grief! Please my lord."
The dark lord looked at him, then looked around, the entire legion was watching him, some were gripping their weapons, others looked ready to run, he looked down at Zabini, then said, "I will agree…if only to keep my cohort commander."
Macnair quickly walked over to Malfoy, undoing his chains and slowly lying him on the ground, Higgs ran over to help, hauling Draco up and slinging one of his arms over his shoulder, he gave a quick bow to the dark lord and started walking towards the gate, Zabini following, supporting Draco on his left side.
Macnair watched them go, 'with that much blood loss…he won't last the day…"
"That's what I'm counting on Macnair." The dark lord said, walking away.
Zabini watched as Luna treated Malfoy's many wounds, "he's weak…" Luna whispered, "too much bloods' been lost…"
"Will he pull through?" Higgs asked.
"Yes…but he won't be going on any raids anytime soon." Luna mumbled, she looked at them, "Can you…give me some time alone with him?"
The three soldiers nodded and walked out, Luna looked at Draco, "you're punishing yourself…aren't you?" She asked softly, putting a hand on his chest, "why…why do you feel the need to take on these burdens? You're only one man Draco, it's not all your fault…you can't keep…you can't keep taking responsibility for everyone's faults…" she looked at him but he didn't stir, she sighed and stood up, kissing his cheek, "you better wake up soon…you…you jerk…"
Seamus sat in the courtyard of the old Hogwarts castle, looking up at the stars.
"Seamus." Harry said, walking over to him.
Seamus looked at him for a few seconds, before looking back up, "how's Dean?" he asked.
"He's resting…roughed up, but he swore that he didn't give out any information."
Seamus nodded. "I did what I had to in Windsor." He said.
"She was a spy who was giving away our position, she was lying to us…all of us!"
"She didn't deserve to die Seamus." Harry said, "not like that, not so publicly."
"She was lying to us." Seamus said, glaring at Harry, "she was putting us all in danger!"
"Then you should have kept her detained and brought her back, so she could face trial."
"I knew what she was, so I took matters into my own hands."
"That's not how things are done Seamus!"
"You don't know what it was like Potter!" Seamus snapped, "to have trusted her so deeply, to have opened up, and let her just walk in and…" Seamus trailed off, he looked down, "I loved her Potter…" he muttered, "and to have her betray me…us…to have her just throw away…everything…"
"Seamus…" Harry said, putting a comforting hand on the scots shoulder, "you have to let it go, yes, she betrayed us all, and I know you feel hurt…but you have to forgive and forget."
Seamus looked at the ground, "can't do that potter…not yet."
Harry looked at him, "then I'm sorry to say, but you're confined to guard duty for a few months…I'm sorry…"
Seamus said nothing, just nodded, he stood up, "alright potter…have a good night…" and with that he walked away, leaving Harry alone, the young leader let out a deep sigh and sat down on the stone bench that had been occupied by Seamus, his shoulders sagged and he seemed to age several years as he sat there, looking at his hands.
"Harry…" Ron said, walking up, "we just got a message from our contact in the Dark castle."
"What does he have to say?"
"Malfoy was punished for the raid." Ron said, "whipped within an inch of his life…sliced up by he-who-must-not-be-named when he wouldn't scream."
"He's still alive?" Harry asked in amazement.
"Barely, he's being healed right now by Luna…"
Harry perked up, "Luna? She's…she's in…" he stood up, "she's at the dark lords castle?"
"No, she's living in a cottage outside the castle…she still won't contact us…"
Harry ran a hand through his hair, "what's her relationship with Draco?"
"Our source doesn't know, there's speculation, but nothing else."
"Maybe it's time we pay her a visit." Harry muttered.
"Wouldn't if I were you." Ron said, "She said she wanted nothing to do with either side, not since…"
"I know…but she's in danger being that close to the castle…that close to Malfoy."
"Nothing we can do about it." Ron said, "Just hope that she knows what she's doing…"