Play the Game

By Micro-chick and Morgana Malfoy

A/N:

Since when was love a game? Draco Malfoy does not play games. Chess, cards, and quidditch are games. Love doesn't have rules… right? Therefore it's not a game. But why are both the Slytherins and Gryffindors alike no longer playing by the rules?

Chapter Fifteen

Ginny Weasley was your basic average girl with no special talents, save for putting on lipstick amazingly well while walking. A feat that although it seems easy, is actually hard without a mirror.

It was a hot day at Hogwarts today, abnormally so when it was February tomorrow. The Gryffindor quidditch team was practicing and although the prospect of watching a group of hot boys sweat it out was one of the best things to see in Ginny's opinion, she had been forced to return to the castle in search of somewhere cool to escape the heat.

She finished applying the blood red lipstick, pursed her lips once and put the lipstick in her bag, though it managed to miss the pocket and landed, unnoticed, on the grass behind her as she continued to walk.

"You dropped something."

She paused, a strand of red hair falling into her eyes as she did so. Slowly, she turned on the spot to see Draco Malfoy holding out her lipstick to her. "Malfoy?" she said quietly, registering what she was seeing.

"Weasley," Draco nodded. "You dropped your lipstick."

Ginny made no move to take the lipstick off him. "Why are you here? It seems a bit odd to be on the grounds during this heat."

Draco looked at her flatly. "I was actually snooping around, hoping to receive a letter from my father concerning Blaise Zabini's whereabouts. He's been missing for quite a while now."

"Right." She sounded unconvinced. "Nothing to do with the fact that the Gryffindor team is practicing right over there?" she asked.

"Nothing whatsoever," Draco answered tonelessly, grey eyes fixed on her face.

Ginny was quiet for a while, watching him calmly, and not dropping her gaze once. "I thought it was you," she said slowly.

"Thought what was me?" Draco asked casually, examining her lipstick.

"I always thought that he was the one for me, he was always kind, trying to bring out the best in everyone. He tried to make people smile, he didn't act better, he loved everyone for who they were," she said, not directly answering his question. "I watched him for so long that I knew him better than he himself did, I could understand when he needed to be alone, or when he needed a hug. But most of all, I noticed when he fell in love."

She reached forward and took the lipstick off Draco, dropping it into her bag once more.

"Oh?" Draco said, unfazed.

"I always imagined him as the one for me, my soul-mate who I'd marry and live with forever, but that's just a childish dream from a girl who was read fairy tales every night by her brothers. He wasn't mine, I just saw in him everything I went for in a guy at once," he continued, ignoring Draco's 'oh?'. "Tell me, Malfoy, what kind of guys do you go for?"

"Usually ones who can make me feel less like what I really am. Ones who can let me escape what's normal for me. Dark-haired ones, preferably innocent, so I can break them in myself," he told her, putting his hands in his pockets.

Ginny smirked and pulled her hair out of her face. "I knew it was you," she grinned.

"Oh did you?" Draco asked in a disinterested tone.

"I didn't know you loved him back, though," she murmured, loosening her tie. "I'm going inside to escape this blasted heat. Have fun watching Harry play Quidditch. Malfoy."

"Did I look like I was watching?" Draco asked her, sounding only vaguely curious. "Are you delighted with your discovery?"

"I only see Malfoy, I don't watch. You probably don't look like you are," she replied with a half-hearted shrug. "Of course I'm not delighted. No one's seen Harry like I have; but then again, I've not seen you either. I don't know. But I won't tell anyone."

Draco raised an eyebrow. "You can see as much of me as you want, so long as the price is right," he murmured.

Ginny frowned. "Harry's going to get hurt," she decided. "You're not right for each other. You're complete opposites."

"And you're the authority on that because?" Draco asked, tone polite but eyes flashing dangerously.

"I'm nothing but too hot right now. Harry's the authority, you know that. He could continue or end anything he wants. I just had to check it was really you." With that, she turned and left, walking swiftly back up the steps to the castle in search of a cool place.

Draco watched her for a time then shrugged, a small smile lifting the corner of his mouth. "I like her," he murmured to himself, continuing his walk in the shade.

There was an almighty crash as the two wooden double doors flew open with enough force to crack the wall's they slammed into, though thankfully, they did not.

Blaise strode through the arch doorway imperiously, loud and with a defiant look on his face. He came to a halt in front of a desk, two guards coming up behind him and looking bewildered.

He folded his arms across his chest and stared at Lucius Malfoy. "Yes?"

"Explain," Lucius said flatly, signaling for the doors to be closed with a wave of his hand.

"There's nothing to be explained," Blaise replied darkly, failing to see the need in the guards and wondering why on earth he was here in the first place anyway. "I Polyjuiced into Potter as asked, and opened the floo network - though I still don't understand why, when I'm being Potter afterall - and these two idiots" - he jerked his head in the guards direction - "decided to kidnap me. Tell me Lucius, what the hell is going on? I want answers now."

He glared at the older man, gritting his teeth.

"Did you not read the letter we sent?" Lucius asked in a tone with all the warmth of a grave.

"There has been more than one letter, Lucius," Blaise replied in a mocking tone. "Please do specify."

"The one that told you that that plan was off," Lucius barked, nostrils flaring as he attempted to maintain a cool exterior.

"Oh, that letter," Blaise said, understanding dawning in his voice. "Nope, never received it."

"Well I'm sorry, but that one never made it to me. Shame," he remarked sarcastically, tapping his fingers on his arm absently. "Now, can I go while you tell The Dark Lord that you messed up?"

He turned to leave, and froze in his tracks, visions of different things flashing before his eyes. Christmas, his parents, Voldemort, the present, his dad, waking up and not knowing where he was, Draco telling him he was different, Cien tearful, holding a letter then dropping it hastily suddenly.

He started and whirled around to face Lucius suddenly. "Take it off me," he said calmly, holding out his hand. "Take it off! TAKE IT OFF ME NOW!" he roared.

"Please, Mr. Zabini, calm yourself," Lucius said coolly. "You know full well that I will not take it off. I can't. You're stuck with it, I'm afraid."

"I'm not, I'm not I'm not I'm NOT!" he yelled, pacing forwards and then backwards, not knowing whether to run or stay. The guards behind him looked unsure of what to do and looked to Lucius for help.

"You can take it off, Lucius. All you need is a reason, and I have one. I know how to get Potter to rush here blindly." Blaise's dark eyes flashed and he settled back into staring at Lucius calmly, arms folded across his chest.

"I know the one thing that means the most to Harry Potter."

"I physically cannot remove it," Lucius assured him, "but I can arrange the presence of someone who can. Tell me how to get Potter here."

"Alright, we're starting from a goal pass. Ron, take possession of the quaffle for the red team and everyone move into position, I want to see tactics this time instead of pointless passing!" Harry called, cupping his hands around his mouth to be heard.

It was too hot, and he'd been training the reserve seeker for nearly an hour now in the unbearable heat. As the game started, he flew down to sit next to Hermione on the bench, throwing his broom on the pitch.

"Hey, 'Mione," he offered by way of greeting.

"Hello Harry," Hermione smiled, moving up to allow him more room. She slipped a marker between the pages of her book and looked up at him. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired," he yawned, leaning back on his arms to peer up at the game that was going on. "Pass to Chantelle, she's free!" he yelled suddenly, before relaxing again and giving Hermione a sheepish look.

"Sorry if I shouted down your eardrums."

"That's all right," Hermione said with a delicate smile, rubbing her ear. "I'm sort of used to it with you and Ron."

Harry grinned. "So, how are you? I've not seen you or Ron a lot recently save for lessons."

He turned and lay on his back on the bench, still keeping an eye on the game, resisting the urge to fall asleep there and then.

"We noticed," Hermione said, a little sadly. "We're not too bad. There's a lot of work on now."

"Work?" Harry echoed, his brow furrowing. "What kind of work?"

Hermione looked at him. "Ron's father has a lot to do. There haven't been any signs of the Deatheaters since they escaped Azkaban."

"Oh," Harry said quietly. 'Why did no one tell me?'

"Draco knows where his father is," he said absently, smiling as Ron saved a goal and waved down at Hermione and Harry cheerfully.

"We didn't tell you because you didn't ask, and of course he does, but he wouldn't tell us, would he?" Hermione sighed, leaning back and closing her eyes against the sunlight.

"I know," Harry said softly, closing his eyes and becoming slightly uncomfortable in the heat.

"Ron doesn't know, does he?" he asked suddenly, opening an eye to look up at Hermione.

"About you and Draco?" Hermione clarified quietly. "No, I don't think so. Ginny seems to have a rough idea though."

"Ginny?" Harry asked, closing his eye again and unbuttoning the cloak type thing they wore over their quiddich robes. He folded his arms over his stomach before continuing, "You haven't said anything, though? I'm not sure it would be all too good if it got out..."

Hermione looked at him, her brown eyes large. "Do you really think I'd say anything?" she asked Harry, sounding slightly hurt. "I didn't tell anyone. Ginny knows you better than you realise."

"Sorry," Harry apologised. "He just means a lot to me, and I wouldn't want something to break that."

"Well in that case you'd better keep an eye on what's going on with the Deatheaters. You've lost sight of that, and usually you overdo it. Now you're under-doing it, and it's not working. Do you even know the latest news?" Hermione's voice grew heated and she spoke very fast. "Do you even know that none of them have been seen in two months? Do you know anything about Blaise Zabini going missing? I don't think you do! You could even ask Draco, he'd know all about it. I've been talking to him quite a lot, actually. He's been asking me for the other side's view on what's happening with Blaise. Do you know how worried he is about him? I doubt you do. You realise that he's likely to be summoned by his father soon? He'll have to go. They'll kill him if he doesn't. What will you do then?"

Hermione was breathing hard, eyes bright.

A scowl passed over Harry's features and he opened his eyes to look at Hermione. "I know exactly as much as you all do, but just because I'm not running around jumping whenever someone touches me, and watching my back it doesn't mean that I don't know what's happening. All I've done for the past five years is over-exagerate things, blow them out of proportion, and where has that got me? Sirius is dead, Cedric is dead, Voldemort is back because all those times I blindly rushed into something."

He took a breath.

"Do you know what it's like to close your eyes and be tormented by the images of every single time you've gone wrong because you blew everything out of proportion? Have you ever seen someone die because of you? No. I see it every night. I see what is happening and what has happened. Draco is my only escape. He knows what I see, he knows how to help stop me seeing it all. I know they're going to take him, I didn't get this far blindly, Hermione. I know what will happen, I just can't see past it."

Hermione's eyes filled with tears and she flung her arms around Harry's neck with a wail.

"I'm so sorry," she choked. "I'm just so worried for you both..."

Harry closed his eyes again. "It's OK, whatever happens, I promise I'll come back."

"Do you even have to go?" Hermione whispered, but she knew it was pointless to speak even as the words left her mouth.

He rested his head on Hermione's lap, lying on his back and crossing his arms again. Somewhere in the distance there was cheering for a goal just scored. "If I stay, he dies. If I go, we both might die. Voldemort wants me, and soon he'll find out about Draco, he'll use him against me. I have to pretend to be happy, and spend as much time with Draco, I can't leave him. What if Voldemort kills him before I get chance to do anything? What if..." his voice hitched and his eyelids fluttered shut, body relaxing.

After a few seconds it was apparent that the 16 year old had fallen asleep.

"You can take it off, Lucius. All you need is a reason, and I have one. I know how to get Potter to rush here blindly." Blaise's dark eyes flashed and he settled back into staring at Lucius calmly, arms folded across his chest.

"I know the one thing that means the most to Harry Potter."

"I physically cannot remove it," Lucius assured him, "but I can arrange the presence of someone who can. Tell me how to get Potter here."

Harry shot awake suddenly; staring across the pitch at nothing in particular, eyes wide and unblinking. His chest rose and fell rapidly with his breathing. "I - Draco - Blaise - Must... do... something..."

Hermione jumped, her book falling off Harry's head, which she had been using as a place to rest it.

"Harry?" she asked uncertainly.

Harry pushed himself into a sitting position and looked around frantically, not noticing that the players from the team had long since ended practice themselves.

"Where's Draco?" he demanded, narrowing his eyes and shooting dark glances everywhere. "I need Draco."

"I don't know," Hermione said, marking her page. "What's wrong?"

"Another dream," he stated, swinging his legs off the bench and standing up suddenly, moving away from Hermione.

"I need to find Draco as fast as is humanly possible. Ask questions later, 'Mione."

"Do you want me to help?" Hermione asked, rising to her feet. She picked up Harry's broom from beside the bench and handed it to him.

Harry ignored her, spotting a flash of silvery-blond hair in the distance. He threw one leg over his broom and kicked off, landing quite suddenly in front of the startled Malfoy boy.

"I know where Blaise is," he said quickly, glancing around suspiciously.

"Stuck down the rabbit hole?" Draco asked sourly. He disliked being surprised.

"Oh stop it with the smart remarks, this is neither the time nor the place," Harry scolded, glaring at Draco for not realising the seriousness. "I had another dream, Blaise is going to the Manor, he's going to tell Lucius everything."

"Shit," Draco snapped. He glanced around. "Give me your broom."

"No. We have to go to Dumbledore. We have to tell him, he told me if I had anymore dreams..." Harry gestured wildly with his hands. "I just have to tell him, OK?"

"Sure, you go and tell Dumbly, and I'll fly to the Manor and head Blaise off before he says anything - You're sure that this hasn't happened yet?" he asked, hooking his hair behind his ears.

"I don't know. He's your friend. Why's he even telling Lucius? I thought you trusted him," Harry replied heatedly, folding his arms and looking put out.

He dropped his broom onto the floor near Draco's feet and continued to look moody. "Fine, you go head him off, and kill him for being a complete prick before I do."

"There's something not right about him," Draco murmured. Suddenly, he remembered something.

Draco was walking along the corridor to the dungeons, mind full of something he had been saying to Harry. A point he had been making. It was something to do with Blaise, and how he seemed distant lately. Draco murmured the password and entered the common room. He could see the back of Blaise's head from where he stood. The other boy was sitting on the sofa with something in his hands.

"Blaise," Draco called happily, jogging across the common room towards him.

Blaise froze, then turned around, looking at Draco with a shocked expression, eyes wide.

"D-Draco," he greeted.

"What are you doing?" Draco asked, looking at something Blaise clutched in his hand. "Is that a letter? Who's it from?"

"Piss off," Blaise snapped, stuffing the letter down the back of the sofa. "You always have to know everything! Can't I do anything in peace?!"

Draco looked taken aback. "You never talk to me any more. I hardly ever see you. Aren't we meant to be best friends?"

"So?" Blaise demanded. "That doesn't mean that I have to tell you everything I'm doing, where I'm going, why I'm going, I am my own person!"

He stood up from the sofa, staring at Draco but seeing right through him, someone else on his mind. "You just want me to do whatever is needed and you can't be arsed doing. I don't want to."

Draco stepped back. "Things aren't the same anymore, are they?" he asked sadly, eyes hardening. "Why don't you go out and be vile to someone who doesn't give a shit about you?" he suggested, stepping aside to clear Blaise's path to the door.

"Things haven't been the same for a while. My... My parents. They're forcing me to do stuff for You-Know-Who, I don't get a say in it, and I can't control it because they fitted me out with this."

He made to move his arm but they were interrupted by a large gang of first years, cheering that Slytherin was in the lead in House Points. Blaise took this opportunity to disappear.

Draco kicked the wall angrily, storming over to the sofa and slumping down. Things were not going well.

"There's a letter in the common room," Draco snapped, grabbing Harry's broom and running towards the school's main doors.

Harry paused for a split second then took off toward the school also, running around the corner and up the stairs two at a time to come to a halt outside gargoyle that was the entrance to Dumbledore's office.

"Sherbert Lemons. Eh, Moon Pops. Blood Pops. Jelly Tots, oh for fucks sake open up! This is urgent!" Harry shouted at the gargoyle angrily.

"Try Snickers," Professor Dumbledore suggested, coming up behind Harry.

"Snickers," Harry said promptly, the gargoyle moving out of his way. He started running up the stairs and then froze, jumping back down them to come face to face with Dumbledore. "Professor! It's Blaise! He's going to tell Lucius everything!"

Dumbledore's slightly amused expression grew grave. "Come with me, tell me everything."

"I had another dream," Harry said breathlessly, following Dumbledore into his office and leaving the door open. "Blaise was telling Lucius the one thing that means most to me, he's going to tell Lucius the one thing I would follow blindly anywhere."

Dumbledore looked calmly at Harry, removing his spectacles and polishing them on his purple robe. "You cannot go to stop him, no matter what. Stay here. It is simply a trap. Mr. Zabini cannot get hold of the thing that means the most to you."

"Draco's gone to get a letter that Blaise received," Harry added, falling into a chair.

"Professor!" Hermione panted, running in with a letter clutched in her hand. "Professor!"

"Miss Granger?" Dumbledore looked surprised at her rather sudden appearance.

"Professor, Draco's gone to the Manor," Hermione panted.

"Hermione!" Harry exclaimed suddenly. "He's done WHAT?!"

"He's gone," Hermione clarified. "He flew off. Gone to stop Blaise before he says anything..."

"Please say this a cruel joke, Hermy," Harry pleaded, looking from her to the letter clutched in her hand. "Please tell me he hasn't."

"I'm not lying to you!" Hermione snapped. "He bumped into me as he was leaving. He's got your broom, says he's going to the Manor. He gave me this and told me to find Dumbledore..."

"Harry," Dumbledore said, "is this what you meant?"

"Meant what?" Harry asked, whirling around to look at Dumbledore. "I didn't mean anything!"

"Has Mr. Malfoy taken something with him that means a lot to you?" Dumbledore asked, eyes expressionless.

"Oh for goodness' sake!" Hermione exclaimed. "Draco IS the thing that means everything to Harry! It's a trap, but Draco's too stupid to realise that. That vision is probably never going to happen!"

Harry shook his head. "It's already happened," he said quietly. "Blaise said he knew what meant most to me, and it was so real that it felt like I was there in the room with them." He frowned, trying to remember.

"He never mentioned Draco's name though. Draco might get there in time, but probably not. Professor, can't you get him back?" he asked, eyes wide.

Dumbledore spread his hands. "Mr. Malfoy is not within a traceable range. It appears that he knows how to Apparate, or that he has a Portkey to the Manor."

"So get him back!" Harry yelled, bursting out of the chair he was sat in.

"I can't," Dumbledore said calmly. "And you cannot follow him. He will be completely safe as long as you stay away, I assure you."

Harry scowled, dropping into his seat. "So you want me to sit here and wait while they could be doing anything to my Boyfriend?" he demanded.

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. "I would ask you if you believe that Lucius would harm his own son, but I think I already know the answer." He rose to his feet. "I will go and gather the Order. You will stay here. I don't think I need to remind you what happened last time." Dumbledore had not wanted to remind Harry of that, and it hurt him to say it, but it seemed like the only way to knock some sense into the boy. He was acting like what he was, a teenager, but they didn't need a teenager, they needed a hero. Until Harry understood the seriousness of this, he would not be of any use to them.

"I should return soon, but then I will have to go back to the Manor. I stress again that you are ALL to remain here," Dumbledore said, dropping a small silver ball out of a box into his palm and vanishing.

Harry seemed to crumble and stood up, holding his arms out to Hermione with a sad look in his eyes. "You were right," he whispered.

She slipped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "I tried to tell you," she mumbled, pressing her face against the comforting solidity of his chest.

Harry shut his eyes tightly, hugging Hermione like a brother would a sister. "I can't believe he left. He's meant to be the smart one."

"He's doing it to protect you, I think, but it doesn't really work," Hermione said.

"How sweet," a drawling voice murmured.

Harry shot away from Hermione, eyes darting around the room before landing on the head suspended in the fire.

"Lucius Malfoy," he said coldly, dropping to his knees to look at Lucius in the fire.

Blaise rocked back and forth on his heels, waiting for Lucius to acknowledge his existence. The man was sat on his leather, high backed chair and watching the fire where Blaise could vaguely see Dumbledore talking to two people.

"Lucius, I don't have all day, you know," he drawled, continuing to rock back and forth.

"You'll have a lot less time than you started out with if you persist in irritating me," Lucius told him. "Be patient."

"Is Draco in the Dungeons?" Blaise asked conversationally, brushing Lucius's comment off with a mere shrug.

"Yes."

Blaise smirked. "Do I get to see him?" he asked, stepping forward to lean on the desk and look into the fire.

"If you wish to," Lucius said coldly. "You know that I am not enamoured of the idea of using my own son as bait for his boyfriend." Lucius put a slight emphasis on the last word.

"Hey," Blaise said, holding his hands up, "Not my fault. Your son's the gay one."

"I didn't blame you," Lucius snapped. "And don't call him that. I am beginning to tire of this conversation."

"Bully for you," Blaise said, picking up a glass paperweight off Lucius's desk and examining it closely. "I'm beginning to tire of your stupid plans."

"Accio ring," Lucius snapped. The ring worked free of Blaise's finger and dropped into his palm. "You were the one who messed them up," he reminded the boy.

"You said you couldn't get it off!" Blaise pointed out heatedly, as his face seemed to relax more, his eyes changing from a dark blue to their normal sapphire. "Well you fucked up by polyjuicing me into... into... into... What the hell am I doing here?"

"You're sitting around being a nuisance," Lucius supplied, checking the fireplace again.

"Shouldn't I be at school?" Blaise frowned, looking for all the world lost. "Why am I here with you? How did I get here?"

"You were captured because we thought you were Harry Potter. You were polyjuiced into him because you didn't get a note as to our change of plans." Lucius rolled his eyes at the uselessness of his minions.

"Oh," Blaise said weakly, not remembering having done any of this. He placed the paperweight back on the desk softly and stared into the fire. "So, why am I still here?"

"Because we still need you. I'm sick of explaining this," Lucius decided. He reached out and gripped Blaise's hand, ramming the ring back onto his thumb. "Take him to the dungeons," he told the wizards at the door. "Lock him up with Draco."

"You're a prick Malofy," Blaise snarled, his eyes darkening and face becoming more defined as the wizards walked over to him. "You're also really stupid. You don't need to do anything, you know, but sit and wait."

"Why would that be?" Lucius asked coldly.

Blaise smiled mirthlessly. "Harry would follow Draco to hell." The wizards took hold of his arms and dragged him off backwards. He was still smiling as the door shut behind them.

Lucius smirked to himself. "Always good news," he murmured, crossing to the fireplace again. Dumbledore said something about the Order, then vanished. Lucius nodded to a guard and told them to prepare for the Order of the Phoenix's arrival. Then he straightened and knelt before the fireplace. Harry and the mudblood were hugging fiercely.

"How sweet," he drawled, smiling indulgently.

There was a pause and then Harry was staring back at him with a dark look. "Lucius Malfoy," he acknowledged.

"I take it you know that Draco has arrived here?" Lucius murmured.

Harry nodded his head. "He told Hermione on his way out."

"Excellent. We've arranged quarters for him. The best the Manor can provide," Lucius smirked. He waved his wand and a scene appeared before the fireplace. Draco was lying against a wall, iron manacles binding his wrists above his head.

Harry's expression darkened. "I can't believe you would do that to your own son," he muttered.

"You ain't seen nothing yet," Lucius drawled. "Crucio," he said, pointing his wand to the figure in the scene. Draco writhed, screaming in pain. "Go to him, Harry," Lucius taunted. "He needs you."

Harry shook his head. "No, I can't. I've already fallen for that before, in the Department of Mysteries last year when I though Sirius was there."

"Trust me, Draco's here," Lucius said. "Bring him here," he told the guards at the door. They Disapparated, then Apparated with the manacled boy in their clutches. They threw him down before the fire. Lucius cleared the small scene and put a hand on the back of Draco's neck. Draco was lolling forwards, eyes bleary and hands shaking violently.

"Harry?" he croaked, looking up out of unfocused eyes.

"Shit," Harry breathed, leaning as close as possible as he could to the fire, without actually touching it.

"Malfoy you bastard," he spat, turning to the older blond man. "How can you do that to your own son?"

"There are lots of things we'll do for loyalty," Lucius said wisely. "You say you love him - how can you just watch him suffer when you know that you could stop it?" He smirked, smug and triumphant, as he raised his wand again. "Crucio."

Draco cried out, burying his face in the chains wrapped about his arms and writhing on the hearth rug. As the curse faded, he lay twitching and shivering, whimpers escaping his lips.

Harry closed his eyes, taking several deep breaths and trying not to lose control. Dumbledore was right, Dumbledore was right, he had to stay put.

"Stop it," he said quietly, opening his eyes when he heard Draco whimpering. "Stop it, I'll come. Let me have an hour to get my wand and to the Manor."

"Harry!" Draco shouted hoarsely. "Don't let him... Just don't come here... For God's sake Harry, do this for me, just stay away..."

He was cut off sharply as Lucius kicked him in the stomach, winding him.

"You don't even have to do all that, Harry," Lucius told him. "Go and get your wand by all means, but then come back here. If you walk into the fireplace, you will arrive here. Simple."

Harry's mouth twisted into a grimace as it became apparent that he was fighting with himself over what to do. "I want your word that Draco won't be harmed," he said evenly.

"I will lock him back in the dungeon and no harm will come to him," Lucius swore.

"Harry! Don't listen to him!" Hermione cried out, grabbing Harry's arm. "He'll never keep his word!"

"Get off him, you stupid little Mudblood," Lucius snapped, looking down his nose at her. "I gave my word. I will not break it. Draco will be locked safely in the dungeon and nothing will be done to harm him."

"DON'T LISTEN!" Hermione shrieked.

"Petrificus Totalus," Lucius snapped, pointing his wand at her. Hermione gasped as she fell backwards and hit the floor, as stiff as a board. "There, that little problem's dealt with," Lucius said with the air of someone who had just squashed a fly. "Trust me," he said, signaling to the guards to come and remove Draco. "He will be safe as long as you return within seven minutes." Lucius held his pocket watch up to the fireplace. "And counting," he said ominously.

Harry whirled around to see Hermione fall on the floor and then turned back at Lucius. "Seven minutes is a long time, I can get in touch with Dumbledore and send him there to stop you all in less than three minutes."

"He's already coming," Lucius dismissed it. "And we're ready for him. Go and get your wand, boy."

Harry stood up and walked the length of the room to Hermione, bending down and pulling his wand out of her pocket. He had given it to her to mind whilst he practiced Quidditch earlier. "I'm sorry, 'Mione," he said quietly to her still body, before leaning forward and pressing his lips to her forehead. "But I'll keep my promise."

He turned and walked back over to the fire, taking a breath before stepping through it.