I've finished reading the Half-Blood Prince, and never, ever, ever, ever in my life have I ever felt so afraid. JKR's really done some major dismantling in Harry's life, hasn't she? But there's another character I wanted to visit. At least she knew not everyone could be totally evil…

Disclaimer: I couldn't write such angst. (Although judging by this piece, maybe I could.)

The gray orbs followed every movement made, by anyone, always filled with distrust. He didn't seem to notice the onyx-black eyes that were trained on him, nor the narrow red ones.


He looked up, flicking some hair from his eyes. It looked as though he were struggling to answer differently, but ended up with the correct one. At least, in someone's mind. "My Lord?"

Voldemort leaned back in his chair, swirling the contents of his goblet. "You seem unnerved. You have just been made one of my best men, and yet you are unhappy? Rejoice, for Albus Dumbledore is dead, and you have killed him."

"No." Voldemort reflected quickly hidden surprise as Draco looked up at him. "I didn't kill Dumbledore. Snape did."

The greasy-haired Potions master smirked. "That I did."

Voldemort inclined his head slightly. "Yes, but had you not worked so hard to do such a thing, where would we have been now?"

"Better off then here." Draco was now standing, and Voldemort clucked, almost like a mother hen. (One who eats her children)

"You should sit. The thrill of our first kill comes to us differently, and in your eyes, it seems terrible. But now, see, you can get revenge on your rival. You have already done so by killing the old fool."

Snape looked pointedly at the boy. "Do as you are told, Draco. Drink, why don't you?" Draco's eyes narrowed.

"I don't drink with murderers." (I dined with heroes, once)

Voldemort laughed. "The nerves of this one!" He poured some wine from a flask into a cup, and pushed it to Draco. "Drink up, my boy. Tonight, you have saved your family's lives."

"So that they could be killed later, at your hand?" Draco eyed the cup warily. "Dumbledore offered me protection, you know. Before Snape killed him."

Voldemort said nothing for a moment, and began to pet Nagini, who was curled around the legs of his chair. "And you would have accepted?"

Draco said nothing, and Snape glared at him. (He had eyes like a dark night)

"Boy, do not let everything we have done tonight end in misery, and your death. Surely, you would not have said yes!"

"Actually, yeah, I would have." Draco's face was hard, betraying no emotion other than anger. "Because at least with him, I didn't have to grovel at his feet and call him master, like some sick dog!"


Draco fell to the ground, writhing in agony. Voldemort stared at him, the irises of his eyes glowing, and his face contorted in a twisted smile. "You would come to such greatness, Draco. If only you could see, death is not freedom. If you die, your sins are not absolved." He lifted the curse.

Draco took a moment to breath, before glaring up at him. "Yeah, well maybe that's why you don't want to die. What's the matter, afraid Lucifer will have more cohorts than you? Someone else in charge freaks you out?" He clenched his jaw as once more, pain flew through his body, pulling at his very essence. (If he even had one)

"You are foolish." Voldemort said. "Very, very foolish. I don't like stupidity in my ranks, you know?" (I like the soulless)

Draco's eyes were clouded, but he managed to pinpoint the man torturing him. "Kill me then." He said, through gritted teeth.

Voldemort shrugged. "Why me? I need not dirty my hands, should I? Hold, I shall call someone else to come and do so." He pointed his wand to the door, and a moment later, it swung open.

Narcissa Malfoy gazed in horror at her son, who looked painfully up at her. Behind her, her sister swept along, grinning inanely at her nephew. (She was beautiful, in her madness, and Voldemort knew it)

"My Lord?" Narcissa asked, her voice unnaturally soft.

"Dispose of him, please. Kill him, if you want, but get rid of him somehow." Voldemort noted the flicker of relief, and held up a hand. "No, wait. Kill him, then, and leave him someplace where my enemies shall see him."

All color left the woman's face. "I—I cannot, my Lord. He is—he's my son! My only son!" She glanced wildly at Snape, who gazed coolly back, no remorse in his features.

Voldemort took the goblet that he had pushed to Draco before, and poured it on the still twitching boy's face. The red ran through his hair, dying it a dull pink, and filling his nostrils. Draco gasped, as it invaded his senses, and soon, he was knocked out.

"He is your son no longer." Voldemort put the goblet back, and smiled thinly at Snape. "Excellent Sleeping Draught, excellent."

He turned back to the two women. "Narcissa, be rid of him, you can have more. And Bella, dearest Bella."

The black-haired woman approached him, smiling. "Yes, my Lord?"

Voldemort took her hand and caressed it. "Be sure that your sister does it correctly. I've heard from Severus that she had gone to him for help before, in the hopes of saving her son. We must teach her, now, mustn't we?"

Bellatrix looked back at her sister, who was kneeling next to Draco. A single tear ran down Narcissa's face, and Bellatrix turned back to her master.

"I will, my lord."

"Excellent." Voldemort looked to Nagini, and smiled. "Be a good girl, give the woman some poison." He hissed, in Parseltongue.

Nagini uncurled herself and slid onto the table. Raising her head over the now vacated goblet, she opened her mouth wide, showing her fangs. One, two, three, four drops of venom fell into the cup, hissing as they touched the metal. (She was pleased, to help her master)

"Take it."

Trembling, Narcissa stood, and picked up the goblet. "Where shall I leave him, my Lord?" Bellatrix took out her wand, and used it to levitate the boy.

Voldemort considered this for a moment, before he sneered at her. "Wherever the Boy-Who-Refuses-To-Die will be, Narcissa. Anywhere that foul pest will show up, just to show him, I don't care for traitors." He flicked his wand lightly, and a piece of parchment appeared in Narcissa's hand.

"Leave that on him. It will explain several things." His red eyes glinted evilly. "Things that may come to be useful for me in later days. Now, leave."

Knowing there was no chance of argument, Narcissa bowed, and followed Bellatrix out of the room.

Voldemort turned to Snape, who had a vague look of surprise about him. "I didn't know you would be rid of him so quickly, my Lord. He seemed very—useful before."

Voldemort's eyes darkened as he took a sip of his own drink, and stroked Nagini gently. "Many useful things turn out to be rubbish, in the end."

"Please, Bella, don't make me do this!" Narcissa pleaded, as she and her sister appeared in a clearing. Bellatrix pushed her sister away, and walked briskly to the front of a gate. She stopped, then, and lowered Draco's still body to the ground.

"There are powerful wards around here." She sighed and took the goblet, sinking down next to Draco, just as Narcissa rounded on her.

"No! Bella, he is your nephew! He's blood, for God's sake!" Bellatrix snorted.

"The only family we need is our Lord. And keep quiet, Narcissa, there might be people in there. We don't need you to give them our calling card."

But Narcissa was not to be bargained with. She sat down in the dusty dirt road and stroked her son's hair, calling his name softly. "I cannot bear any more children, Bella." She said softly. "And the Dark Lord knows that. It's why I care for this one so much."

Bellatrix was quiet for a moment, before she set the goblet down. "He wasn't ready for this. He had no idea what he was doing." She looked to her sister from the corner of her eye. "All he could think of was saving you, Cissy. He didn't give a damn about me."

Narcissa gazed at her. "That's not true! You've taught him much, Bella, and he loves you! (Am I lying?) Although he completely disapproves of our involvement with the Dark Lord, and he was—relieved when Lucius went to Azkaban. I hear from some of those involved in the attack that he was on the verge of accepting an offer of safety from Dumbledore."

Draco stirred, and Bellatrix picked up the goblet again. "We must do it, Cissy. If the Dark Lord finds out we didn't—who's to say we will live? No, we will die, and then what use to Draco are we?" (As if we are anything alive)

Narcissa's face paled. "But I can't kill him! (Not without reason)" Bellatrix held a calculating look on her face as she looked at the goblet.

"No, you can't. And neither can I," she added, at seeing her sister's face. "But Nagini's venom can only kill will three drops, and then they may be saved. Four makes sure that it kills, no exceptions." She poured most of the sap-like liquid out on the ground, then siphoned it away with her wand.

"This should be enough to make him dreadfully sick, close to the point of death, but he will live if someone finds him."

"If?" Narcissa looked hopefully at her sister, who shook her head.

"It's the best I can do, Cissy. We can only hope they'll decide to help him, and—" She stopped, as they heard voices coming down the road. "Quickly now!"

She handed Narcissa the goblet, and with shaking hands, the woman poured the liquid down her son's throat. The reaction was instant. Draco shook for a moment, his face horribly twisted and his body convulsing, before everything subsided and he was still again.

On wobbly legs, the two stood up, and Bellatrix called the Dark Mark into the sky. There was complete and utter silence before them, and then shouting. A gaggle of redheads and others soon became apparent. When they saw the people standing in front of the gate, underneath the mark, some stopped, but others pushed ahead.

"Will you regret this, Cissy?" (Say you will, regret his death as much as you regret his life)

Narcissa shook her head. "If my son lives, I have nothing I need to regret." Her hand found her sister's, and smiling, the two Disapparated, just as Tonks drew up to them. She swore, then glanced down at the black bundle at her feet. Her eyes grew wide as she kneeled next to it.

"We've got a body!" her voice rose, sounding hysterical, and Mr. And Mrs. Weasley hurried forward, followed by the rest of their group.

"Who is it?" Remus asked her, as he stooped next to her. He drew back the cowl and sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. Mr. And Mrs. Weasley gasped, and Harry pushed his way to the front of the crowd.

"Malfoy?" he said, with a hint of anger. "What's he doing here?"

"Come to think of it, I thought one of those Death Eaters looked a bit like Narcissa." Remus said slowly. "And I can only assume that could have been his aunt Bellatrix with her."

Harry's grip tightened around his wand. Bellatrix was the one who had killed Sirius, his godfather—her cousin.

"What are we going to do with him?" Ron prodded Draco with his toe. "Is he dead?" But Harry wasn't listening. He'd noticed the note in the goblet, and leaned down to get it. He scanned the paper quickly, and his eyes grew wide.

"Remus, Mr. Weasley, get him inside the house as fast as you can!" Harry was already filling the goblet with water using his wand. He poured it all over the boy's face, who coughed, spluttered, then began shivering. "He's been poisoned, and apparently, because he was against Voldemort. Hurry!"

The adults wasted no time in asking what was wrong. Mr. Weasley and Remus carried Draco through the gate, with everyone following close behind.

"What's in the note, Harry?" Ginny asked him. He was clutching it in his hand, but handed it over when she asked. She read it out loud.

" 'To Whom It May Concern: I have won this battle, and in doing so, I have won the war. Harry Potter may live, but the only thing keeping him alive is gone. Here is one who dares defy me, and who would seek to return what the pestilence has lost. Maggots will live off of him until he is nothing more than bones, as I shall never be.'"

She looked to the back of the page, where the name 'Lord Voldemort' had seared itself into the paper. "So Malfoy was resisting Voldemort?"

Hermione cocked her head to the side. "And I suppose 'seeking to return what the pestilence has lost' means he was trying to either get Dumbledore back, or make up for you losing him."

Harry's eyes glazed over for the merest second. "We all lost him, not just me." When they had left Hogwarts, Hagrid had not spoken more than a few gruff food-byes, whereas Grawp had managed whole sentences of farewells.

"Of course," Hermione quickly amended. Ron gave her an odd look but kept his mouth shut as they entered the Burrow, and went up the stairs. They laid Draco in Fred and George's old room.

"Looks like you're sleeping with me, mate." Ron whispered to Harry, who nodded and stalked over to Remus. The werewolf shook his head.

"I'm very sure it's snake venom, Harry. We need to call Severus—" He closed his eyes, and Harry stiffened. (Echoes of the past) "I mean, we need to find someone with experience so that we may give him an antidote."

"Hermione will do it." Ron said quickly. The bushy-haired girl brushed prettily, but immediately assumed a business-like posture. "Mrs. Weasley, I'll be needing you to help me, we need a few things from the kitchen that we have to mix and such."

"Of course, dear." Molly shook her head absently and turned away from Draco. "Poor boy…you said he wasn't about to hurt Dumbledore in any way, right Harry?"

The green-eyed youth nodded. "Right. I think he regrets it now, helping the Death Eaters in. It was a mistake." He said it again, more firmly. "It was just a mistake."

Hermione and Mrs. Weasley went downstairs, with Ginny following shortly, casting Harry a look that seemed indecipherable. He heard her on the stairs, yelling to Hermione that she was coming, but she had to go fetch something from her room.

"What do you think, Harry?" Tonks asked suddenly. He looked around at those in the room. Fleur had stayed behind with Bill at Hogwarts; they were taking him to St. Mungo's later on that day. That left Tonks, Remus, Mr. Weasley, and Ron.

"I'm not sure." He said finally. "But I think it'd be safe to bet that as soon as we can get Malfoy awake, we should question him." He looked at the sleeping youth, who was still shivering uncontrollably.

"If he should wake up, that is."

Hermione administered the potion as best as she could, the ushered everyone away. He needed his rest, she told the adults, who were a little reluctant about leaving him alone. Harry had given her a look that clearly said nothing she could say was taking him away from this room, and after a whispered admonition, she'd left.

It was just Harry, now.

He looked down at the pallid face of his rival (ally) and snorted as he realized the same person they were saving was the same person he would have willingly left to die a few weeks back. (He was wrong; it had only been days)

Someone unlocked the door, opened it, and stepped in. Harry looked over from his chair and saw Ginny, clutching something in her hand. Her eyes widened slightly when she saw him, but an air of indifference quickly replaced it. (She was a good actress; Tom had taught her that)

"Harry," she said, her voice not at all curt but cold in her own way. He blinked in surprise. Was she upset about the breakup?

"Ginny. What are you doing here?"

She was suddenly standing by the bed, looking at the sleeping boy, whose face was still twisted in pain. "You never really hated him, did you Harry?" She said quietly.

He looked up at her, shocked. (Because it's true, you know it is) "What makes you think that?" Ginny ignores him and lifts a delicate finger, tracing the contours of Draco's lips, and the boy's face becomes considerably calmer-looking.

The redhead took her other hand; the one still clenched over something, and relaxed it. A glint of gold (Perfect, like her soul had been) landed on Draco's chest. Harry didn't have to look very hard to see that it was a ring, emblazed with not the Malfoy crest, but a simple dragon.

"How long?" He doesn't know how he knows, (Yes, he does) but he would have given anything not to. Ginny glances up at him, but then her stare returns to Draco.

"It was only until this year, Harry. He was—he needed me. And I needed him." She isn't defiant in the way she answers; it's more resigned. Harry doesn't know why he doesn't feel bothered by this.

"Why did you stop?"

"It wasn't convenient." She's clutching at her arm now, and looking more lost than she could ever. (Even with Tom? No, nothing was worse than Tom) "Harry, you must understand. During the—the thing with the Chamber, he found me crying, and he was nice." Her voice is shaking, and she's grown pale. "He was very nice."

Harry's quiet, and she continues. "I didn't tell him anything. We fell asleep while he was trying to get answers from me, and I woke up before him. He didn't say anything, not even after the school found out. But, oh, Gods Harry! He was furious when he heard that you—you had saved me!"

She presses a hand to her forehead, and with her red hair dangling about her; Harry can see what drove Bellatrix Lestrange mad. (When you're poisoned, sometimes there is no antidote)

"And then there was third year—for you and him, of course." Her voice is strangely strangled, like someone's clutching at her throat. (It's you—it's always been you, Harry) "He wasn't happy that year. Too many things to think about—he said his father was always gone. He told me Tom was gone. He told me that sometimes he felt as if he had never been here. But nothing happened. I wanted so badly to hit him when he acted like a jerk around you, but I didn't because I knew why."

Harry realizes that Draco should be breathing more deeply, but his breathing is strained. He doesn't let it bother him; not much does after Dumbledore's death, anyway.

"Fourth year was a mess. He was worried—don't look like that—he was worried about you, Harry. You were his only way out, like a key. If you won, then he would as well. His mother stopped eating, and his father spent time in dark rooms talking to people in masks. He was afraid, and I couldn't leave him then, Harry."

Draco's breathing has quickened, and Harry notices with morbid fascination that outside of the window, he can see a fly banging itself against the glass, trying to get in. (Trying to get out) Ginny doesn't see it. Now she's pacing the room.

"And when I hexed him on the train…afterwards, Harry, he wasn't even mad." She looks up at him, seemingly calm, but a mad light in her eyes gives her away. "He cried, Harry. And I held him. He kissed me for the first time at the beginning of my fourth year—your fifth. He said I was his hope."

Draco's eyes are fluttering now, but he isn't really awake. Ginny sees it and rushes on. "We acted like we weren't together. It was a secret, but that Umbridge woman found out. She wasn't happy about it, either. But he joined her force, to keep her happy, and said he had broken up with me. (We are both liars) When we came back from the Department of Mysteries, he was waiting for me, even though Dumbledore had made us sleep all the night. I snuck out to see him the next day. He refused to sleep until I did."

Harry and she can both see that Draco is on the verge of waking, and her last bit is rushed. "After that it was mutual, during the summer. It was too much for us to handle (Oh, but there was no such thing as too much, when all it was was touchmeholdmekissme don't you ever leave me) and so we decided to break it off."

"You were so happy this year." Harry finally spoke. "Was that because of the break-up?" She bites her lower lip.

"Yes and no. It was easier for me to live, never having to worry, and then you—and Harry, it was just so huge! But as soon as he heard, he didn't speak to me at all. I noticed the change in him long before that, and he had told me before it ended that he was scared, and then I heard Snape telling McGonagall about what had happened in the bathroom—" She broke off, her eyes wide. Draco was looking at her sleepily, gritting his teeth.

"And you knew if you had been there, I wouldn't have done it." He finished, his words a little slurred. Draco sat up (Oh, he had heard her, and he wished it was touchmeholdmekissme again) and let out an involuntary grunt of pain. None of the other two made a move towards him; they both knew if they did, he would wave them off anyway.

Harry looked at him, feeling strangely at peace with it all. (Why should he be worried? Ginny left Malfoy for him—he was sure) "Malfoy, why did Voldemort try to kill you?"

The poison had taken hold of Draco's lungs; Hermione's potion had done enough, but he would forever have breathing problems. "I told him basically to go screw himself. He didn't like it."

"You won't be staying?" Ginny said, seemingly in a lethargic way, but her eyes were flicking about. Draco shook his head, giving her a sort of appraising look. "No. It's too dangerous. I'll go into hiding, and when the war's over, I'll come out."

"You could join us." Harry said, feeling somewhat awkward with it all. He wouldn't be speaking to Draco at all, had it not been for the way Ginny had looked at him when they had been dating officially. (She loves me, I'm sure) Draco shook his head again.

"If I join you, you all die. The Dark Lord can find me; of that I'm sure. I still have his snake's venom in my veins." That seemed to finalize the conversation, and so without another word, he swung his legs over the bed and stood.

He almost fell over, but with grim determination he grabbed his cloak from the edge of the bed. "How am I supposed to get out of here?" He muttered, not very willing to ask them for any help.

Ginny crossed the room and opened the closet. She reached deep into the back; her face hidden by various clothes Fred and George had left behind. When she emerged, she was holding a Comet 260 in her arms. "For midnight missions," she explained.

Draco nodded and took the broom from her. Harry pretended not to notice the way they both shivered when their hands touched. (Because if I don't see it, it's not there)

"Will we be seeing you again, Malfoy?" Harry asks, knowing he's only doing so for Ginny's sake. The pale boy hesitates, than nods shortly.

"You'll be seeing me very soon, Harry Potter." It's the closest he's ever come to saying Harry's name, so the Boy-Who-Is-Oblivious decides not to sneak any snide remarks into the last good-bye. Ginny is staring at the both of them, her brow furrowed for a moment, before she suddenly flings her arms around Draco's neck and hugs him.

He pats her back awkwardly, looking to Harry as though saying I'm only doing this to help her along. (Why was it so important for him to lie?) Harry decides to copy Dumbledore on this and twiddles his thumbs and stares at the ceiling. This time, it's really not his fault that he misses when Draco kisses the redhead. (I can feel it, but now it's become missmeholdmeremembermekissme)

By the time he looks down, they're at opposite ends of the room, and Draco is climbing out of the window. Harry stands. "Well. I'll just tell the Order that you decided to infiltrate Voldemort's ranks and feed him false information, claiming that you've seen the light side and want in on the dark."

There is the briefest smile on Draco's face, but it's smothered quickly. "Potter, there is no light side." And he's gone, out of the window and flying away to wherever it is he wants to go. Harry stares for a moment, before turning back to Ginny, but she's already moved next to him. He slips an arm around her waist, and she leans into his hold. (Masks are so easy to slip on when you're in total agreement about the lie)

"Are we ready?" Harry says softly. Ginny looks up at him (But she doesn't want to) her eyes filled with tears that she's already wiping away. When she speaks, her voice is determined.

"We're never ready; that's the beauty of it."

Harry feels an inane urge to laugh, but brushes it off. He opens the door, imagining that now Malfoy is far away, and it's only Ginny and him, and Voldemort is dead. As they walk down the stairs and into the kitchen, where eyes are immediately turned upon them, he imagines that Dumbledore is sitting at the table, eyes twinkling and a lemon drop held out to him. (His own poison apples, like the wicked stepmother)

But that's all they'll ever be.