Murder at Malfoy Manor
Summary: Lucius Malfoy is found dead at his home during a hunting week-end. The Trio, along with Ginny, Draco, Pansy, Narcissa, Bellatrix, Snape, Dumbledore and Voldemort each have their reasons for wanting Malfoy dead. But will they solve the mystery in time? Parody of 'Clue'.
Author's Notes: Consider this AU: it takes place in the summerbefore the Trio's seventh year, but the events of HBP did not happen i.e. Dumbledore is alive, they aren't off hunting Horcruxes, etc. But hey, even Voldemort shows up to this soiree, that's why it's labeled as Mystery/Parody! Expect some very non-standard ships, as well. A note about the structure: the point-of-view will shuffle between six or seven different people, separated by those neat little lines. In that way, it will be like the film, Clue, for those of you who have seen it. I hope it's not too confusing! One more thing: some people may drift a little out-of-character, but that is deliberate. It's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, humourous, what have you.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything in the Harry Potter universe; JK Rowling does.
Six house-elves swarmed around Narcissa Malfoy's feet, scurrying about, awaiting her daily spate of orders. Narcissa looked down her perfect aquiline nose at them, produced a sheet of parchment, and began reading.
'Heffy and Lubby, all twelve guest bedrooms must be thoroughly cleaned, and I mean spotless. Sarky, Ponkle, and Roony, coordinate the kitchens for the menus I have provided for the next eight weeks. Gringle, press Draco's clothes, he's been tossing them on the floor and they've become wrinkled.' Narcissa's clear, imperious voice floated through her well-appointed drawing room, and the house-elves scrambled at her words. She sighed. It really was a tremendous amount of work, to run a house such as Malfoy Manor. Of course, it was her place as the pure-blood wife of Britain's wealthiest wizard, Lucius Malfoy. She was the lady of the house, in command of thirty house-elves, hostess extraordinaire of the country's best parties, the beautiful and elegant pillar of the community. Truthfully, it was exhausting.
Narcissa Malfoy, nee Black, had been raised for her role. She was the middle of three sisters, and the most obedient of them all. Little Narcissa, always does what she's told, pure of blood and fair of face. As she mused, a wrinkle marred the fine skin of her smooth forehead. She may be obedient, she may do what is best for herself and her line, but Narcissa had been sorted into Slytherin House in her Hogwarts days. She was not completely harmless.
'Mother?' the voice of her son, Draco, interrupted her reverie. Narcissa turned, and automatically smiled as her tall eighteen-year-old son entered the room. Draco was Narcissa's only weakness, the treasure of her heart, her only child. She loved him to distraction, and Draco had always been so good, so loyal, to his beloved mother. They were close, as mothers and sons went; in conversations with her society friends, Narcissa had gathered that other women, such as Lucretia Nott, or Miranda Goyle, hardly knew anything about their own children or what they got up to. With a warm glow in her heart, Narcissa knew that Draco told her everything that was important.
'What is it, dear?' Narcissa asked.
'Is it true? We're hosting a hunting party?' Draco looked hopeful, and Narcissa regarded him fondly. Draco was the very picture of his father, Lucius: silky white-blond hair, mercurial grey eyes, tall and thin frame. With pride, Narcissa felt that her own attractive features had resolved themselves better on Draco's narrow, aristocratic face, lending him an air of delicate strength that his father lacked. Or perhaps that was just her knowledge of Draco's more sensitive inner nature.
Narcissa smiled again. 'Yes, it's true. Your father thinks it would be a good idea, to repair some old Ministry ties that have been…damaged. I'm sending out the invitations today.'
The shadow that had passed over Draco's face at the mention of his father cleared, with obvious effort, and he cleared his throat. 'Excellent. Who are we inviting? The Parkinsons, of course? Goyle? Crabbe?'
Narcissa paused before answering. The guest list was…unconventional, compared to the Malfoy family's usual associations. 'Well, some of them,' she said noncommittally.
'Can I see the list?' Draco pressed. 'I told Pansy I'd let her know, she was curious.'
With another sigh, Narcissa waved her wand and summoned the guest list from the carved secretary in the corner. 'Here,' she said, extending her hand. She was not sure how Draco would react to it.
Surely enough, Draco's eyes fairly bugged out of his head as he scanned the list. 'Are you serious?' he asked incredulously. 'This has to be a joke.' He shook his head, mouth formed into a sneer. 'We can't have these sort of people at our house! For an entire weekend!'
'Draco, it's important,' Narcissa tried to explain. 'Your father has to do something to increase his standing with the community; after Azkaban, we've been shunned. This will help.'
Draco scowled, clearly disapproving of the turn of events. 'I can't believe this,' he muttered. 'I just can't believe it.'
'Why were we invited, do you think?' Harry Potter mused, turning automatically to Hermione Granger, who he knew would have an answer.
Sure enough, she rolled her eyes. 'Honestly, Harry. You're the Ministry's answer to everything,' Hermione explained this in a patient, practiced way. 'Ever since Lucius Malfoy got out of Azkaban, he's been trying to get back in the Ministry's good graces. By inviting us, he's shown that he wants to regain the trust of the wizarding community.'
'Sounds to me like he's playing both sides of the field,' said Ron Weasley, gruffly. 'I don't trust him an inch.'
Hermione flipped the filigreed invitation over in her hands. 'I don't trust him either, Ron,' she said. 'But I still think we should go. It would be a perfect opportunity to do a little reconnaissance.'
'Hermione's right,' Harry nodded.
'As usual,' Ron grinned. 'I'm not saying we shouldn't go, I'm just saying we should be careful. I don't trust any of that Malfoy lot.'
The trio lapsed into silence as they sat around the kitchen table in the Burrow. They were alone in the house, aside from Ginny, who was upstairs finishing her summer reading at Hermione's insistence. That very morning, an exquisite black owl had arrived, bearing four invitations, each rolled professionally and wrapped in green and black ribbon. On each cylinder of gold-veined parchment, names were beautifully scrawled: 'Mr. Harry Potter,' 'Mr. Ron Weasley,' 'Miss Ginevra Weasley,' and 'Miss Hermione Granger.' The contents were identical.
Harry read over the invitation once more.
'Mr. and Mrs. Lucius Malfoy kindly request your presence at a hunting week-end, to be held at Malfoy Manor, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, on the 17th through the 19th of August.'
Harry shook his head. It was baffling, really; the Malfoys had always hated him, and he could not imagine why he would be invited to one of their posh get-togethers. Even more confusing was the invitation of the Weasleys, and Hermione even, who was Muggle-born. Draco Malfoy had always made his feelings clear on that subject; Harry was beginning to think Draco's constant 'mudblood' taunts were starting to sound tired and unoriginal. He wondered how on earth Hermione, Ron, and he were supposed to have civil relations with the Malfoys for an entire weekend.
His gaze landed on the one unopened invitation, incongruously delicate against the rough and well-worn wood planks of the Weasleys' kitchen table. Ginny still did not know about the party; Hermione had demanded that Ginny not be disturbed whilst studying for her all-important sixth-year.
Shrugging, and downing the rest of his tea, Harry turned to Ron. 'Wanna go do some flying?'
'Yeah,' Ron said, finishing his tea as well. 'You won't be bored, will you, Hermione?'
Hermione, who had already produced a huge school book from somewhere and opened it, shook her head with a smile.
Flipping the pages of her Charms textbook absently, Ginny Weasley sighed as her bedroom curtains fluttered in the open breeze. It was a languid summer day, too hot to do much of anything, and especially too hot to be studying for a far-off NEWT class. With envy, she heard the sounds of Ron and Harry flying around in the garden on their brooms.
'Sod this,' she muttered, heaving herself up off her bed and tying her fiery long hair into a ponytail. With a graceful flick of her wand, her stack of textbooks jumped into her trunk and closed with a thud. Satisfied that her room was tidy, Ginny nodded to herself and flounced down the stairs.
'Hey, Hermione,' she said once she reached the kitchen.
'Hi, Ginny,' her bushy-haired friend replied with a casual wave. Hermione was clearly deep into whatever book she was reading; Ginny peered at it. The title said it was called Archaic Translations of Runic Hieroglyphs, a scholarly text that was beyond even NEWT-level. Hermione glanced up to meet Ginny's eye. 'You're not studying?'
'Not on such a gorgeous day! I tried, really I did, but I can't focus anymore. Hey, what's this?' Ginny noticed the beautifully-wrapped parchment with her name on it, lying on the table.
'Oh! You won't believe it,' Hermione said.
Her curiosity piqued, Ginny's fingers pulled off the green and black ribbons and unrolled the invitation, her eyes scanning quickly. She looked up at Hermione. 'Is this for real?'
Hermione nodded. 'We're all invited. You, me, Ron, and Harry.'
Ginny's hazel eyes widened with disbelief, then slowly narrowed in calculation as she turned over the invitation in her head. 'I wonder why,' she murmured. 'Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy? This is too strange for words.'
'Are you going?' Ginny asked Hermione, half-hoping for no, half for yes.
'Yes,' said Hermione. 'I told the boys it might be a good way to gather some information on the Malfoy family, and they thought so, too.'
'That's because they do anything you tell them,' joked Ginny. 'Especially Ron.'
Hermione blushed. 'Yes, well…I really do think we should all go. After all, we'll be in a group, and safety in numbers, and all that.'
Ginny smiled. Now that it looked like she was going, a little flicker of excitement started in her chest. A hunting party…What will we be hunting? she wondered. Ginny had never been to a country weekend before, but like anyone born and raised in England, she knew about them. Only the aristocracy did such things, and Ginny's family had never been aristocracy, which made their inclusion all the more strange.
A tingle of suspicion merged into her excitement. Why did they really invite us? Draco must have had a fit. There must be some reason. Ginny did not trust people automatically, and she did not trust Malfoys on principle. Ever since the horrible and traumatic events of her first year, with Tom Riddle's old diary, Ginny had been forced to do a lot of growing up. She was no longer naïve, and her mind often worked in very adult ways. In fact, even before the diary incident, Ginny had developed a certain craftiness to her character that was necessary for the youngest child and only daughter in a family full of boys.
With a slight smile of remembrance, Ginny remembered her Sorting at Hogwarts. The hat had considered putting her in Slytherin House. Ginny had protested vehemently, of course, and in the end the Hat had agreed that she was a true Gryffindor like all of her brothers; still, Ginny was well-aware of her Slytherin-like abilities to scheme, lie, and wile her way into and out of situations.
Sitting down at the table, Ginny decided she would rather discuss the hunting party than practice her flying skills, which was saying something for the significance of it. 'Hermione?' she said, attracting her friend's attention away from the book.
'Hmm?' With an air of reluctance, Hermione looked up again.
'What are we going to wear to this thing?' Ginny asked. It was a valid worry; she did not have many nice things, and she wondered if her 'good' clothes would stretch over an entire weekend.
'I don't know,' Hermione shrugged. 'I guess we'll need jeans, and tweeds, for hunting. Dress robes for the evening.'
'Yeah,' echoed Ginny. 'I have two sets of dress robes, I suppose they'll have to do.' Mentally, she categorized her own wardrobe: she had the robes from the Yule Ball, and for her birthday last year she had splurged on a stunning dress of brown taffeta that set off her hair and eyes to perfection. It had been on sale, off-the-rack, from Madame Malkin's, but her mother had altered it to fit properly. Shaking off her couture anxieties, Ginny brought her attention back to the table.
Hermione closed her book, settling her chin on her hand for a longer talk. 'What I really want to know is, who else is invited?'
'Are you going, sir?' said the sallow-faced Potions Master.
'Yes, I think I will,' said Albus Dumbledore. 'Besides, someone has to keep an eye on Harry.'
'Potter's invited?' Severus Snape exclaimed, shock and loathing on his face. 'You're kidding.'
'No, I assure you, I am not,' replied Dumbledore with an inscrutable smile. 'Harry, along with Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, and Miss Hermione Granger, have all received invitations.'
'How do you know?' Snape spat, then with effort swallowed his anger. 'Meaning no offence, of course.'
'I have my ways,' said Dumbledore loftily. 'I'm rather looking forward to it, actually; it will be nice to get some fresh country air. Surely you agree, Severus?'
Snape scowled. Oh, it would have been fine, had the Potter brat not been invited, along with his insufferable friends. He wondered what in the world had possessed Lucius Malfoy to invite them to his home; certainly Malfoy wanted to make amends with the Ministry, but this was taking it a bit far. 'I suppose,' he finally said to Dumbledore, and then excused himself from the table at the Voodoo Café, one of Diagon Alley's better coffee shops.
Stalking down the street, wearing intimidating robes of all black despite the summer sunshine, Snape pondered the upcoming hunt. It would not be the first time he had been invited to a Malfoy function, of course; his position as young Draco's Head of House at Hogwarts guaranteed him some measure of respect. However, Snape also knew he would never be considered an equal, not really. He was a half-blood, and even if he was a Death Eater, in the inner ranks of the Dark Lord, he still detected the undertone of snobbery from Lucius Malfoy, like a stain on an otherwise good tablecloth.
And then, there was Narcissa. Snape sighed loudly through his nose. The lovely Mrs. Malfoy had been one year beneath him at school, in the same Slytherin House. To the outside observer, they might not have known one another well. Snape was never popular, even amongst his house-mates, and spent most of his time on books about the Dark Arts. Narcissa, on the other hand, had been popular, beautiful, charming, and not so clever as to deter admirers.
But they had been secret allies, Severus and Narcissa. He helped her with her schoolwork; she graced him with her company, with her wit and well-bred charm. Ever since he was thirteen, Snape had been hopelessly in love with her, and would have done literally anything for her. It was a most un-Slytherin frailty that, fortunately, no one was aware of. After her marriage to Lucius Malfoy, Snape had realized he would never have a chance with her, and had settled himself down for long-lasting bitterness. Over the years, his lovesickness had congealed into a low pain, always under the surface, hardly ever twisting or writhing itself into conscious attention. Snape even made sure to keep an eye on Draco Malfoy, once he entered Hogwarts and was sorted into Slytherin, not because Draco was the son of a fellow Death Eater but because Draco was the son of Narcissa.
With a grimace, Snape reached his destination of the post office, and hastily made out his RSVP to Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy. 'Lucius, I would be delighted,' the quill scrawled in messy black letters. 'All hail.' His last reference was to the Dark Lord, although from the sounds of it Lucius Malfoy was not playing that open game any longer. Snape briefly wondered what the Dark Lord would do about Lucius Malfoy. He had sprung him from the wizard prison of Azkaban, but Lucius had not taken direct part in any Death Eater activities since then. Either old Malfoy was out of favor (Snape hoped for that) or he was doing more subtle, undercover work.
As the post owl flew away with the note, Snape watched it with glinting black eyes until it disappeared into the sky. A whole weekend at the Malfoys…with the guest list Dumbledore had described, strange things were sure to happen.
A/N: This is a work in progress, and I will do my best to update when I can…however I feel compelled to alert everyone to the fact that I am just moving overseas at the moment, and my internet access is…goosy, at best. So just take my word for it that I will not abandon this story, and thank you to everyone who reads and reviews!