Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the Harry Potter universe. (This disclaimer covers my entire story.)
Author's Note: This story is set the night after Draco escapes from Hogwarts in Half-Blood Prince and does not reference the events of Deathly Hallows. It is written in Draco's POV.
Chapter 1: Sanctuary
Have I fallen so far already? At sunset I had been a wealthy pureblood. I had an estate, a social stature that one could not buy, a high birth girlfriend—everything that I considered to be of importance had been in my grasp. And by sunrise, one may ask? Apollo was still sipping his coffee while I stood in ankle-deep muck, the sweet scent of decay filling my nostrils. A coral red sun cast a glow through the cypress and vine wall in front of me, but gray clouds dominated all, as if making reference to their pale guests below.
Snape released my arm after a moment. I had never apparated with another person before or over such a long distance. I wondered where Snape had taken me, but I didn't ask. I had another question.
"Why?" I asked. Snape didn't look at me, so I prodded on. "What are we doing here? I was supposed to meet with the others. This wasn't part of the plan."
"And what plan would that be?" Snape snapped. He turned, his black eyes burning through me. "Have you forgotten? I was not involved in your little plan. You somehow managed to 'forget' to warn me. Of course, my guess is that you didn't 'plan' on me storming in on your little party."
Pride. It was a killer. "I could have done it."
"Boy," Snape began. He looked away from me, pretending to stare off into the swamp surrounding us. I mistrusted the action completely. "The Dark Lord knew of your obvious weakness. Did you honestly think that he would trust you to bring down one of his most hated advisories?"
"Liar," I tossed. "Why would he threaten my family if this was all just some sort of ruse?"
"Don't be a fool. He planned this long ago. He is already aware that it was I who killed Dumbledore, and that you lacked the hate needed to succeed at the task." Snape paused. "He only needed you to let in the Death Eaters, for you to bring Hogwarts into a feeding frenzy. He needed the blame to be set on someone else. They'll blame you, Draco. You are their scapegoat. The Ministry, the papers—they all believe it was you who killed Albus, not I."
I shook my head. "Potter was right on your tail! He wanted to take you down, not me! I don't know how, but he and his little friends knew something."
"No, Potter is simply hotheaded," Snape explained. "He needed someone to blame, and I am the obvious choice. He has no evidence, and the Order, as well as the Ministry, will still trust that I was trying to stop you. Don't take so much offense in this, Draco. The Dark Lord is pleased with the part you played. This is why he asked me to hide you away until his grasp is tightened on our world."
He was lying. He was a master at Occlumency, but even I could tell that there was something wrong with his tale. I had seen Potter's eyes when he had appeared behind us. He had looked from me to Snape, and he had channeled his rage away from me on purpose.
"Follow me," Snape ordered, walking to his left.
I obeyed him, resisting the urge to continue my questions. We walked only a few feet and my clothing was already pasted onto my white skin. Snape stopped, raising a hand. We had reached a seemingly shallow body of still water that seemed to swivel around mounds of moss and knotted tree roots. Notably, it also seemed to be the source of the horrid stench encasing us. A flat boat, primitive wood covered in chipped blue paint, hugged the bank. Snape stepped down into the rocking vessel. I followed suit without waiting for a command.
Snape tapped his wand on the boat's stern, and it began to move down the body of water. I log bumped into us and opened covered eyes and an angry smile. I swallowed my breath, pretending I didn't notice the alligator. At last we came to a stop at a small bridge that I assumed was for muggle vehicles. Snape brought the boat to a halt and the two of us exited, climbing up a short, slippery bank. Then I saw what was to be my sanctuary, my hide out. It was plantation style manor, flat fronted with leaning columns. It was dirty white, covered in streaks of green life. Pale Spanish moss hung from the limbs of trees that scraped at the flank of the abandoned house.
I realized where we were, how far away from home I had to stay, and the manor suddenly seemed to become more ominous.
"From this point on, no wands, no magic of any form is to be used. Do you understand, Draco?" Snape asked.
"What do you mean 'no magic'?" I asked. "Don't tell me you're expecting me to live with muggles?"
"Never anything so life threatening as that," Snape answered with a sneer. "This house has a long history, but that is not of importance at the moment. What you must know is simply this: this estate does not except magic. Any attempts to use magic will result in harm to you and the house. Many years ago, an unknown curse was place on this land, and it has yet been lifted. The house itself was owned by a wealthy wizarding family who had placed on it many security charms. At one point, it was even unplottable, but that is no longer the case."
"How am I supposed to be safer in a house without wards—in a house where I cannot even defend myself?" I snapped.
"Do you question the Dark Lord?" Snape asked.
I did not dignify that with an answer. Snape trudged toward the house, and I walked a few paces behind him. The front door was open. I snorted to myself. With my luck, it was probably be missing its simple muggle lock as well. I stepped inside, a side glance at the door. Indeed, my use was as awful as I had estimated.
The interior matched the exterior quiet depressingly. The house was glumly shadowed by the still hanging curtains over the windows. White sheets covered what I guessed was furniture.
"There are candles in the store cabinet in the kitchen along with canned and jarred muggle food. I also put a large supply of bottled water in the kitchen," Snape said.
"What? Do you mean there isn't any muggle electricity in this place?" I cried.
"Nor muggle plumbing. It backed up only a few years after it was built—by muggles, may I add," Snape answered. "However, I do believe a muggle outhouse still stands outside the side of the house. It's very old and probably unsafe, but I assume it is more reliable than a bucket. Thankfully the wizards who lived here didn't destroy it. Of course, when they lived here, they ran the manor on magic alone."
"Thankfully!" My face flushed in anger. "You expect me to live in this shack?"
"I am certain the ministry has a deluxe cell beside your father's in Azkaban," Snape answered. "Be pleased with what you have. I will return with more supplies in a few days. Be reminded that mankind has survived on far less in the past. Go get some sleep upstairs. And do remember, Draco, no magic in this house."
I nodded, a numbness coursing through my body. I did not even notice Snape was gone until I heard the door slam shut behind me. The house was still. I was silent. This was not the sanctuary I had expected to find, but it would do for now.
End Notes: Indeed, Snape fed Draco a load of CRAP when he fibbed about no one except the Death Eaters knowing that he had killed Dumbledore. If you'll remember, Draco never actually knew that Harry was watching him speak with Dumbledore, so he probably doesn't know that the Order and everyone else has been informed of the truth. Snape is not that ignorant and he has a reason for lying to Draco.