Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any part of his world. It's fun to be here, though!
Note: The title of the story, "We Learned the Sea," is the title of a song by the amazing Dar Williams
Chapter 1 – The Enemy Walks In
Draco Malfoy was the most wanted man in the Wizarding world, allowing for the fact that Voldemort wasn't actually human. If he were, Draco Malfoy would be wanted man number two. But semantics aside, he was highly sought after.
It was now four years since he had stood on the astronomy tower at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and failed to kill the Headmaster of the school. That night he left with a fellow Death Eater, Severus Snape, and was taken to the Dark Lord. Needless to say, the master was very angry. He told Draco there were two options: kill, or be killed. Draco was a sensible kind of person, with a particular regard for his own skin, and so chose the sensible path. Then, having conquered, at least in part, the hesitancy that led to his failure in his first mission, he jumped in head first and never looked back. After all, it was kill or be killed.
Draco grew in power and skill, advancing through the ranks slowly at first, but in the last year and a half he'd shot up to stand beside the Dark Lord as just less than an equal, Voldemort's go-to guy. He even surpassed his father, which made for very interesting family dinners, which his mother required, every night possible. Draco never missed an opportunity to rub his position in his father's face, nor flaunt his skills with a wand. Though his father was more advanced in years and in some areas of magic, Draco could easily defeat him in a duel, which he proved one night when Lucius had become so angered at his son's arrogance and superiority that he challenged him to fight. Narcissa had been beside herself with worry and fear, mostly for her son, though she dared not show partiality.
But fight they did. It was shorter than Draco had expected, and it disappointed him. After so many years of being compared to his father and always falling in his shadow, it shouldn't have been so easy to defeat him. Perhaps it was the years Lucius spent in servitude and pain during the Dark Lord's first reign, then the fear and constant worry that gnawed on his gut during his Master's absence, and then again the last 7 years of servitude and pain that had slowed his reflexes and fogged his mind. Or maybe it was the alcohol. Whatever the factors were that played into Lucius' defeat, Draco didn't give them a second thought. He had finally defeated his father, defeated all those who looked down on his from his youth, and left him groveling. When Draco held his father's wand in his hand, his own pointed at his throat, it made him feel good, in a sick, twisted sort of way. He was able to look his father in the eye and finally know he was better than him. And Lucius couldn't return his son's gaze for a very long time after that night.
But shouldn't Lucius be proud? Draco thought bitterly, a few weeks after the fight. He wanted me to become what I am, to follow in his footsteps; but he never imagined I would surpass him. He never wanted me to succeed at anything, really. He wanted to have someone to berate and destroy because he was so miserable himself. And all because one night, Lucius had run into an old friend at a seedy bar in Hogsmeade who said, "Say, Malfoy old friend. I've met the answer to all our problems with Muggles and the like. He talks good, Malfoy, he does. Real thinker, that one. He'll be something great, just watch. What say I introduce you?" That night had been the start of Lucius' destruction, a path of darkness that would cast a long shadow over his family.
After the fight, Narcissa knew who was the victor. She noticed that Lucius drank more and she saw fear in his eyes when he looked at their son. Draco was even more distant with her, barely speaking at meals, and seeming to grow more and more angry and bitter. When Narcissa found out that Draco had achieved the position of the Dark Lord's favored, she wept for her son. As he rose to the top, she saw him dying a little bit more each day until finally there was nothing left that resembled the boy she pictured in her head who was innocent and free of darkness. Narcissa kept no pictures of Draco in her room except those from that time, before he turned four. After that, the smiles and laughs from him grew increasingly rare until they disappeared altogether before he went to Hogwarts.
Narcissa had never wanted Lucius to go down the path he chose, never wanted to be the wife of a Death Eater, despised and forsaken by the man she had once loved, and the absolute last thing she ever wanted was for her son to follow him into darkness. But that summer, right before his sixth year, Draco had come home late one night, much more pale than usual. When he saw his mother, there was a brief instant, fractional, when she looked into his eyes and saw death staring back at her. But it was gone in another instant, replaced by his typical smirk. She knew, of course; she'd seen that look in so many eyes. Her husband, her sister, her friends, her friends' husbands. And now her only son would live in terror for all his life.
When she saw the results of her son defeating her husband, Narcissa emptied herself. She became a hollow shell wandering aimlessly through the house, going through the motions of acting like the faithful wife of a Death Eater. Motions she abhorred, for their ignorance and their arrogance. As a girl, she saw what prejudice did to her own family; she hadn't seen her own sister in over 20 years. The estrangement left a hole in Narcissa's heart, though she would never discuss or admit it. Sometimes Draco would find her in her sitting room, crying unashamedly into an old handkerchief embroidered with the Black family crest. She never spoke when he found her, only smiled warmly at him and waved him off as though there was nothing the matter. As much as he truly hated seeing his mother cry, those were the only times she smiled at him that way.
There was no way Narcissa could deal with her miserable life, a life she hadn't quite chosen. Lucius hadn't always been the man he now was, but she couldn't very well go to Lucius one day and tell him that maybe following the Dark Lord isn't the direction this family should be moving and they should consider giving the light a try. No, she'd lost the ability to speak long ago.
Draco thought of his parents often, though not with real fondness or regard. He knew there was something his mother kept hidden from him, but he never would have guessed it. So he quit trying. The night when he'd come home late with the look of death in his eyes, he too saw something when he looked at his mother's fair blue pair – shame. It shook him to his core; he smirked in order to mask what he was feeling , but he never understood the look she gave him. He tried to reason with himself that it hadn't been for him; after all, what shame was there in joining their cause? But those eyes, pale blue and full of raw life, often haunted his dreams.
Now, four years later to the day, Draco was sitting in his room, looking around for one last time. It would be a while before he returned, if all went according to plan, and he checked to make sure everything was in place. Satisfied, he went to the other rooms of the house to make sure they were prepared; they were. Of course they were, he was meticulous and he'd thought of everything. He'd sent his eagle owl, Bubo, away with plenty of food and directions for her care. He instructed that he would send for her when he returned, and to please feed her the pellets included and the treats were to be reserved for when she was really, really good.
Then there were his guests to consider. Present and future. He provided for them in every way he could. If all went according to plan, he would return in a month. If not, well… best not to think about; it would either be the same day or never. Draco took a long, deep breath, closed his eyes and muttered, 'it cannot be never.' He checked everything one more time. It wasn't that he was a compulsive person, but everything had to be perfect. Nothing could be forgotten or misplaced. Draco sighed and ran a hand through his hair. It's just a house, he told himself, it doesn't have to be perfect. It will be sufficient.
Draco made his way to the dining room, where his plans were laid, and sat down to go over them one more time. Everything was set; all his planning and his efforts were about to be put on the line. There was a chance it would not work, but he refused to allow his thoughts to wander down that path. Because it had to work. If it didn't, he had no back-up plan. All the rest of his life depended on today. Despite his meticulous and detailed nature, there was no possibility of a back-up plan, no Plan B. It was all or nothing.
He went over everything again. It was something he learned in school to do before handing in exams. He was always amazed that he could pick out mistakes in his third review that he'd missed in his first two. But he'd gone over everything tens of times, and he'd been planning this for over a year. It had to work. He had never been forced to acquaint himself with failure, and he wasn't about to start now.
Draco stood and left the dining room. He went through the drawing room; the furniture was in place and the books stacked in the corner. He passed through all the rooms on the lower level, double and triple checking everything. There wasn't really much to check, as he had prepared the house three days ago, and every day since then he had double-checked everything, so it didn't take long. When he reached the front door, he turned to look back into the house. Then it hit him that he was procrastinating. With a heavy sigh, Draco Malfoy Disapparated.
He arrived somewhere most unexpected, at least for everyone who saw him. He of course knew exactly where he was going, and so was not surprised when he found himself looking at a fountain depicting a wizard, a witch, a centaur, a house elf and a goblin. At first no one noticed him as he casually walked toward the reception area. After all, hundreds of people, maybe thousands, Apparate into the Ministry every day. But then he heard it – the sound of ceramic hitting the marble floor and spilling what he presumed was very hot coffee. There were a few gasps, but everyone was so incredibly stunned that not one of them thought to draw their wands. Draco decided that no Aurors were present, else that mistake would not have been made.
Draco continued to walk toward the reception desk, his smirk ever present as he looked at the small witch behind the counter. His arrival had not made enough of a disturbance to alert the witch that someone was approaching. Had she seen him walk the path from the Apparation point to stand in front of her, she might have screamed, or drawn her wand. But instead, he actually had to clear his throat to call her attention.
The witch was talking anxiously into what looked like a headband with a stick attached that reached around her face to stop in front of her mouth. Draco watched as she became more flustered with talking into the device. When he cleared his throat, the woman finally looked up at him and when recognition dawned on her face, it turned a ghostly shade of white nearly rivaling his own complexion. Draco continued to smirk, confidence radiating from every cell in his body. The witch was frozen to her post, and she could only gape at him. Draco could sense her fear, and it emboldened him.
He casually put one arm on the counter. "Afternoon, miss," he started, nearly smiling casually, as if he was about to inquire as to where he could find the loo. When he spoke, the witch flinched as if struck. Her eyes widened as she finally realized the impact of seeing Draco Malfoy, the Draco Malfoy, standing in front of her, smirking, and speaking to her. To her. What he said was,
"Would you please inform Mr. Potter that he has a walk-in?"
A/N: Please R&R!