A/N: I had this chapter written months ago, but I couldn't get the ending right. Every time I sat down to try to re-do it, it just wouldn't flow right. I'm still not satisfied with it, but I figured if I didn't post something then I never would. I am determined to finish this labor of love…now bordering on labor of hate. No, I still love this story and I am going to finish it.
Just want to thank those dedicated readers who have checked on me over the last several months, attempting to motivate me to finish this and Bitter. I will finish both, I promise. Kisses to mrscenamalfoy…she is a big reason that I forced myself to work on this chapter tonight. She wants me to finish Bitter…which I now dedicate to her.
And a big thank you to new readers who found this story and actually read and reviewed it, even though I hadn't touched it since October. Thank you all.
And now on to chapter 29!
Chapter 29: Prison Break
Lucius Abraxas Malfoy was not a stupid man, despite his current incarceration and his loyal following of a clearly sadistic sociopath.
In the few seconds that it took to process how dangerous this situation could turn, Lucius immediately saw the opportunity. And the realization that his son was now under a new influence, tightened his resolve.
Lucius leaned forward conspiratorially and whispered, "Potter…I…I tried to get you out, but…I…couldn't."
He lowered his eyes demurely, hoping against hope that his idiot of a son would have played this type of flirting game with the Gryffindor. A Malfoy had to know what skills would work best with what enemy. Draco did not wield power the same way that Lucius did, the boy being more embarrassingly weak, but had a seductive charm that Lucius had never quite been able to master.
Harry cocked his head like a dog hearing a whistle. Lucius stared back at the young man, and he found himself drowning in the intense fiery gold eyes. Then Harry gave a short bark of a laugh which raised the hair on the back of Lucius' neck. He stepped back, eyeing the Gryffindor warily. Harry moved forward and gripped Lucius' face and planted his lips on the older man's. Lucius' eyes widened in shock and he gasped, pushing Harry backwards.
Lucius winced at how cold the boy's lips had been.
Harry frowned at the sudden violent dismissal and Lucius could've kicked himself for his rash reaction. He wasn't like he'd never been with a man before, but this was beyond disturbing. He felt the air congeal around them in a thick cloud and the boy's eyes sparked dangerously. Lucius quickly snapped back into survival mode and spoke hastily.
"Not here…later, " Lucius hissed and he gave Harry a small smile, one that he knew Draco often gave him when he was trying to get out of something.
Harry eyed him with a stony expression and Lucius hated how his heart was thudding in his chest. Even with all of the Dark Lord's mood swings, Voldemort had never managed iciness the way Potter was frosting.
Lucius never had a chance to find out what Harry's next move or word was going to be, before a string of brightly colored hexes slammed into both of them. Believe it or not, Lucius had forgotten they had been standing in the middle of Azkaban's prison yard, surrounded by Dementors and furious guards.
Lucius grunted with pain as the Cruciatus Curse collided with his body. He dropped to his knees, clenching his jaw, trying to stay upright. He barely managed to keep his eyes open, when he heard Potter snarling viciously. Through his haze of pain, he heard several more shouts, then a loud thump and a groan.
Followed by blackness.
Severus almost spat out his tea when an unfamiliar owl landed in front of him at breakfast two days later. Severus hardly ever received personal mail and certainly not by owl during breakfast. He stared at the tawny bird, which solemnly held its leg out for him to take the missive. Severus looked around the table quickly. Remus was looking at him, his eyebrow raised. Severus viciously squashed the flutter of butterflies in his stomach. Ever since his forced bonding with the animal, Severus had found himself with unwanted thoughts about the werewolf and a strange longing for his company, but he dutifully ignored it.
He snatched the parchment from the owl, who gave a hoot of protest at the rough treatment. Severus impatiently shooed it away and stood up, moving quickly to the back entrance of the Great Hall. He strode to his quarters and opened the parchment.
You know what to do.
It was unsigned.
Severus didn't need the letter to be signed to know who it was from. The bigger question was how he done it?
Severus pulled his wand and pointed it at his Dark Mark. He closed his eyes and mumbled an incantation and then pressed the wand into his flesh. The Mark flared a violent red and Severus hissed. His skin twisted into a knot almost as if invisible fingers pulled at it. A small chunk of flesh separated from Severus' arm and he bit down on his lip to keep from shouting with pain. He quickly waved his wand and healed the wound and picked up the bloody mass of tissue. He placed the flesh over the piece of parchment and hissed,
The parchment flared white and sprang from his hands. It flipped and twisted and curled at the corners and became an animated envelope complete with a mouth.
"For my Lord only," it said, and Severus' raised an eyebrow at the sound of Lucius' voice filling the room.
Lucius had sent a blood missive.
The letter was for the Dark Lord and would only open for him, unless a Malfoy opened it.
How Lucius had managed to send such a complicated piece of communication from Azkaban was nothing short of miraculous. But Severus had a pretty good idea of who had probably helped with its creation.
He would give anything to know what words Lucius spoke to the Dark Lord.
But all he needed to give was a little blood.
Severus hurried to his personal potions lab and spelled open his locked cabinet. He rifled through several small vials until his hand rested on the one he wanted. He pulled out a vial with the name L. Malfoy written on it. When Severus had first become a Death Eater, he had proven his worth by preparing several blood magic potions that only those in the Inner Circle could use. A stasis spell had kept the blood viable after all these years, just as Dumbledore had with Lupin's. Severus closed his fist around it and put the missive down on the table. He carefully tipped the vial and allowed three small drops of blood to fall onto the envelope's closed mouth.
The envelope shot into the air and hovered in front of Severus' face and slowly unfolded.
Lucius' slow and whispered drawl filled the room.
And Severus' eyes widened.
Draco could actually hear the wards shifting as another Death Eater entered the stronghold. He glanced up from where he crouched in the corner of his room, absorbing the quiet comfort of the shadows. Not much brought him comfort these days. He had hardly slept in what felt like years and it was so hot in the manor house that he could hardly tolerate clothes.
But worse still was he could no longer feel or sense Harry.
The separation was killing him.
But the Dark Lord had set the wards to where no one could leave without risking serious injury. Draco had already tried and had spent half a day unconscious. When he had finally awoken, Bellatrix had questioned him mercilessly, demanding to know where he had been trying to go. Draco had simply ignored her, but had been punished by a nice round of Cruciatus for his insolence. It had only been the Dark Lord's intervention that had saved Bellatrix, because Draco was two seconds from hurting his mother terribly by murdering her sister. Voldemort had been quite amused by Draco's complete one-hundred eighty degree turn around from student to vicious killer.
The wards had shifted again and Draco immediately knew Severus had entered the building. He rose quickly and headed to the main drawing room, where Voldemort normally held court. Draco made excellent time, cutting Severus off just as he was heading towards the door.
Severus turned and fought to keep the alarm from his face at Draco's appearance. He looked pale and haggard and his face had the gaunt lean look of someone starving to death. Dark shadows were prominent under his eyes, which alternated between a dull gray and an eerie flickering gold.
"Draco." Severus inclined his head. "You're looking…awful."
Draco blinked and then smiled. It wasn't a nice one.
"And you smell…" Draco stepped forward and sniffed at Severus, "like someone's playtoy."
Severus' lip curled and he whirled away from Draco, gliding easily towards the door. Draco's hand was on him before he had raised his hand to knock.
"Severus…where is he? He's…gone."
Severus looked down at his arm and gave Draco a pointed look of disdain and Draco let him go. The older man looked at him and smirked.
"Potter's in Azkaban. They arrested him for Nott's death. "
"I have to see him. Something's not right…I don't feel right."
Severus sighed and said, "It's the fragment that you are carrying. It wants to be reunited with the rest of itself. Since Potter is the host…you are feeling the effects of the separation. It's dying…and so are you."
"Well then I guess we need to get me to him then."
"And how do you propose we just walk into Azkaban for you to see him? You think they'll let you leave? You're a fugitive, Draco or have you forgotten that? "
Draco lowered his eyes and then raised them again, imploring Severus to understand. "I don't care about that anymore. Please. I have to get to him. I can't feel him, Severus. All I feel is pain."
Severus viciously crushed the urge to hug Draco. He hated feeling helpless to do anything to help his godson right now. He had enough on his plate, especially now that he had to deliver this god-awful letter from Lucius. It had taken some exhausting magic to alert the Dark Lord that he wished an audience. Voldemort was not in the habit of just taking visitors when they had not been summoned and with Severus not being here in residence, he often had to wait for the Dark Lord to want him for something.
The door to the drawing room opened and Severus turned quickly. Wormtail stood there with his beady eyes gazing over Severus warily.
"My Lord, Snape is here," Wormtail said, his eyes clearly showing his dislike of the man. Severus narrowed his eyes and Wormtail shrunk under his gaze. He flicked a glance at Draco and hurriedly looked away. The younger Malfoy was looking quite deranged as of late.
"Enter, Severus," Voldemort hissed, and Severus walked into the room with both Draco and Wormtail following. Severus immediately saw Bellatrix, who was frowning at Severus. Clearly she was not pleased that he had been granted a visit.
Severus got straight to the point. "My Lord, I bring word from Lucius." He reached into his robes and pulled out the blood missive.
Voldemort nodded and Severus approached the high-backed chair. He handed the letter to Voldemort and backed away. The letter immediately sprang to life and Lucius' voice again filled the room.
"I bring news to you my Lord, but only for your ears."
Severus looked up sharply. The letter had not mentioned that when he had opened it.
Voldemort flicked his hand impatiently, indicating he wanted them to leave. Wormtail hustled out of the room, but Draco and Bellatrix both lingered, staring accusingly at Severus. Severus was eyeing the Dark Lord with a calm expression, but internally he was worried. Who knew what secret spells Lucius had embedded in the thing? Severus had been unable to find anything.
He turned and backed from the room and into the hallway, only to be accosted by Draco and Bellatrix.
"You had word from Father, but didn't tell me?" Draco snapped. "What did he say?"
Bellatrix snarled back, "It is for the Dark Lord's ears, Draco! Snape would have no idea of knowing! He is not our Lord!"
Draco didn't look convinced and he stared at Severus. "Why didn't you tell me Father had written? How did he get a letter out?"
"I am not going to discuss this with either of you. Go ask the Dark Lord what he said," Severus said smugly.
Bellatrix's face twisted into a grimace and Draco rolled his eyes. Severus gave a shrug and leaned against the far wall, his eyes watching the door intently. Several minutes passed and then the door opened and Voldemort called out, "Severus!"
Severus knew this was coming and he walked calmly back into the dangerous pit. Voldemort's eyes were glowing red.
"You knew of this?"
"My Lord, I don't know what you mean…"
"Don't play games with me Severus! You knew that Potter could control the Dementors!"
"I didn't, my Lord. I have had no information since the boy was taken from the hospital."
"I am beginning to think that keeping you around has been a mistake. You no longer bring me useful information!"
"I am sorry, my Lord." Severus bowed his head.
Voldemort's eyes blazed angrily and he stood up abruptly, his robes swirling.
"You had better make more of an effort! I demand better work from you."
"Yes, my Lord. Please forgive me. I will not let you down again."
Voldemort glared angrily at Severus for a moment and then nodded. "See that this doesn't happen again. Gather everyone in here."
When they were all assembled in the room, Voldemort said, "We will be freeing Lucius from Azkaban, along with our other supporters. Things have turned decidedly in our favor."
There was a rumble of conversation amongst the Death Eaters. Draco turned to stare at Severus, but the older man didn't bother to turn. His eyes were fixed on the Dark Lord.
"My Lord, how are we to do that? We can't just break into Azkaban." This was Bellatrix speaking.
"Do you doubt my ability, Bella?" Voldemort asked softly.
Bellatrix looked horrified at such a suggestion. She immediately knelt on the floor, her head touching the carpet.
"No, of course not! Anything is possible with your command. Tell me what you would have us do!"
"Call Narcissa. We must let her know the good news."
Bellatrix rose from her place on the floor and Severus saw her look of disappointment at Voldemort's command.
"I will bring her here now." Bellatrix left the room hurriedly and the rest of the group milled around excitedly. Draco took the opportunity to sidle up next to his head of house.
"What did my father say, Severus? Are we really going to break him out?"
Severus gave Draco an annoyed look. "How should I know? Lucius used a blood missive. Last I checked, I wasn't a Malfoy, thank goodness."
Draco snorted and Severus glared at him. "As if that would stop you, Severus. You're a potions master, I'm sure you have plenty of our blood lying around your rooms. I know you opened that letter and you know exactly what Father said."
Severus smiled in spite of himself. He was proud of the fact that he had managed to influence Draco to be an extremely perceptive wizard, even if it was to his own detriment. "Draco, learn patience. Things will be revealed in time."
Draco didn't look happy with that answer and was getting ready to let Severus know when Bellatrix entered the room again, followed by his mother. Narcissa's lips were drawn in a tight line and she quickly took in the occupants of the room. Her eyes widened when she saw Draco and she made a step towards him, only to be yanked by the elbow by Bellatrix.
Voldemort eyed Narcissa cooly for a moment, then smiled. "Narcissa dear. Has Bella told you the news? Lucius will be out of Azkaban before a fortnight is over."
Narcissa's eyes widened in surprise. "My Lord, how is this possible? I haven't received word of this."
"Rather annoying isn't it, Dear Cissy? To be in the know and not share your information?"
Narcissa stared at Voldemort and Severus marveled at her calm demeanor. This was not going to go well for her, he quickly ascertained.
Voldemort stood up and glided towards her, pulling the parchment from his robes and waving it at Narcissa.
"Your husband has sent word of things that are happening at Azkaban. These things will allow us to remove Lucius and others who are allied to us."
"This is wonderful news, my Lord." Narcissa bit out, although her breath was a bit shaky. "When will this take place?"
Voldemort smiled at her. "After you complete the task I have set for you."
Narcissa nodded meekly.
Severus didn't get to hear the task set for Narcissa, because Voldemort ordered the room cleared. Frustrated, he marched into the hallway, only to have Draco meld to his side like a magnet to metal.
"Severus! Tell me what's going on! What is my mother doing here and what task does she have to do?"
Severus slowed his pace and looked around carefully. None of the other Death Eaters were paying them any attention, so Severus pulled Draco into a side parlor. He closed the door and quickly cast Silencing Charms. He turned to face Draco and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Yes, I read the letter. But there was more to it then the part I was able to access. I am certain that Potter helped your father to create the letter in the first place."
"Why would he help my father? He hates my father and vice versa!"
"Potter thinks that Lucius is you. And Lucius is…using it to his advantage."
Draco narrowed his eyes and his lips curled in anger. "If he hurts Harry…"
Severus waved his hand dismissively. "Lucius isn't stupid by any means. Potter can now control Dementors. Lucius isn't about to upset that balance. The guards have pretty much lost control of him on most days unless he's on meds, which come every three days."
"And what about Harry? So we go in there to get Father and just leave him there?"
Severus sighed. "Draco, what do you expect us to do? Where would we put him? Let him live here with Bella and the Dark Lord? That would go over very well."
"We'll leave. I'll take care of him. I'm on the run anyway. We'll go to one of our other properties…maybe France."
"Draco! Forget Potter! He's dangerous and out of his mind! He needs to be locked up in St. Mungo's, not running around the French countryside with you! That demon will end up killing both of you and just about anyone else who gets close at this point! He's already killed Lestrange in Azkaban!"
Draco folded his arms stubbornly. "I don't care. He won't hurt me. If he's befriending Father that should tell you that he won't hurt me! I don't care if you won't help me. I'll figure this out myself."
He turned and opened the door and walked out. Severus didn't try to stop him, but followed him into the corridor. Narcissa was just leaving the drawing room, her face pale. Severus immediately went to her, but she only had eyes for Draco, who was watching her coldly.
"Draco," she whispered, as she moved towards her son, "what's happened to you? You look ill."
"I'm fine, Mother," he answered curtly. His shadowed eyes flicked over her in disdain and she flinched.
"I never meant for you to do this! I wished to tell you about Potter, but Bella was there! I knew she would use that against you! Tell me what's wrong!"
But Draco gave a nonchalant shrug and walked off. Narcissa gave a sharp little gasp and tried to follow, but Severus reached out to stop her.
"Leave him, Narcissa. Draco is set on a path that is out of his control."
Narcissa watched her only child disappear into the shadows and she whispered sadly, "Aren't we all?"
Arthur sat nervously in the waiting area of Azkaban, bouncing his hat on his knee. He had never been to Azkaban before and the idea of his youngest and only daughter as an inmate here sickened him to heights he hadn't believed possible. Molly had wanted to come of course, but Arthur had forbid her to come on this first visit. For the first time in his marriage, he had shouted down his wife. He had cited the reason as wanting to make sure Ginny was doing well enough that Molly wouldn't have a breakdown if she saw her in distress.
That was the official reason. The real reason was that he hadn't wanted Molly to see his own distress at Ginny's incarceration. He had failed her as a father, for not getting her help sooner for her obsession with Harry. He had been blind to it, thinking that she would just need some time to get over the boy.
A guard beckoned and Arthur stood and followed him through the doorway and into the dark and gloomy corridors of the prison.
Arthur spoke up nervously, "How are things here? Is my daughter doing all right?"
The guard tossed a glance back at him. "Yeah, guess she's okay. Don't say much to anybody. Cept be to asking about Harry Potter."
Arthur winced and then asked, "And Harry? How is he?"
The guard gave a shudder. "Don't rightly reckon know what's wrong wid 'em. He's lost his marbles, sure as day. Bet that You -Know-Who done tortured him or something, made him go mad! Nobody's is telling us what is wrong wid 'em. All top secret and everything. But the Dementors don't obey us no more, not without some hard pressing them to do their job. We had to promise Potter that he could see that bastard Lucius Malfoy whenever he wanted though, so's he would let the Dementors do their job."
Arthur stumbled a bit and had to use the wall for support after hearing that. "Lucius Malfoy? Why is Harry wanting to see him?"
The guard stopped walking and turned to look at Arthur. He then beckoned Arthur closer, looked around carefully and then whispered,
"Potter is the bloody Savior…the Boy Who Lived! I'd follow 'em into death I would, so's you just know that what I'm saying isn't because I'm a traitor to the cause. But I think that Potter fancies that bastard Malfoy! I don't bloody understand it! He's a Death Eater! But that Malfoy has got his hooks into Potter somehow. I know Potter's mad as a hatter and all that…but it's still scary as all hell to see him, wide-eyed and staring at that man. Even though Malfoy is a pretty one. " The guard blushed a bit at that, but nodded.
Arthur was mortified at the news. He wasn't surprised by Harry's confusion, considering the young man's relationship with Draco. But Lucius? Going along with this? The man definitely was up to something.
"But surely Lucius is taking offense. I mean…Potter is…a boy…uhhh…man. And Lucius is quite married. And You-Know-Who's right hand man. He can't be consorting with him."
The guard snorted and resumed walking. "Malfoy will use anything to his advantage. And with Potter practically controlling this here place, not much we can do about it. It's all supposed to be hush hush. Potter don't need to be here, I tell ya. He needs to be in the hospital. Already killed Rastaban Lestrange. Not that it was a bad thing. He can kill all those Death Eater scum if he wants."
Arthur gasped and hurried to keep up with the guard.
His visit with Ginny was depressing, but at least she seemed receptive to talking about something other than Harry. She hadn't looked any better than she had upon her arrest, but at least she didn't look any worse.
But Arthur had been distracted by a glimpse of blond hair.
Who had looked at Arthur and smirked.
A feeling of deep foreboding overwhelmed the Weasley patriarch and he hugged his daughter hard, cursing himself again for not stepping in sooner to save her. They walked back to the entrance of the visitor area, which was as far as Ginny could go. She was able to move much farther in the prison then the more dangerous inmates.
Arthur leaned in to kiss Ginny goodbye.
"We're counting the days, Gin. Mum will be here on the next visit, okay?"
She nodded and then frowned, her eyes staring at someone behind him. "I hate the Malfoys."
Arthur straightened up and turned. Narcissa Malfoy had entered the visitor area and was removing her gloves. She looked at them briefly and curled her lip.
"Ginny, don't." Arthur warned. Despite his own personal dislike of the Malfoys, Ginny had tried to kill this woman's son. Narcissa was allowed to feel some kind of way about Ginny.
Ginny sighed heavily and Arthur put his hand on her shoulder. "It'll be all right, Ginny. We'll work everything out."
Another guard approached Narcissa. "What are you doing here, Missus Malfoy? You know you're husband isn't allowed visitors until next month."
"I'm not here to see him," she answered haughtily and Arthur perked up at that bit of information. "I'm here to see Pansy Parkinson."
"Oh. Well, same rules apply. No wands or potions are to be brought in."
"Of course." She reached into her sleeve to pull the wand from her cloak and it snagged on the fabric. Narcissa tugged sharply on it and the wand sprang free, clattering to the floor.
"Ohhh…" Narcissa chirped.
"Don't move, Missus Malfoy. No sudden movements." The guard warned and Narcissa raised her hands in mock surrender.
"What did you expect of me? I would never dream of disobeying the Ministry. Despite the fact that their employee's spawns can get away with murder." She hissed, her eyes focusing hard on Ginny. "Don't think that this will be forgotten. The Ministry may think you have served your sentence, but I don't."
"Malfoy's a bastard! He ruined Harry's life and he deserves whatever's coming to him!" Ginny shouted and moved to confront Narcissa. Arthur immediately grabbed Ginny by the arm just as two guards appeared in the doorway, surveying the scene.
"What's going on? Weasley!" The guards advanced on her while Arthur tried to calm her.
Narcissa smiled to herself and calmly pulled a second wand from her cloak. No one noticed the delicate flick of her wrist in Ginny's direction.
Remus nodded solemnly to Molly as he entered Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. She stepped back to allow the man to enter and then quickly shut the door.
"Let me take your coat, Remus. The others are all here, except for Severus."
Remus silently handed his cloak to Molly and she walked quickly down the hall with it. Remus followed behind her but then stopped when he heard the front door open again. He didn't have to turn around to know who it was.
"You're late." Remus said softly.
Severus stiffened at the sight of Remus' back. He quickly pushed down the rising knot of nerves in his stomach and simply strode forward into the house.
"How sweet of you to wait for me, Lupin. Have you prepared my supper with my bedroom slippers next to the table?"
Remus turned and narrowed his eyes at Severus. Severus felt more than saw the rising heat from the other man and the musky scent of his manhood. He swallowed thickly, and damned Albus Dumbledore for the millionth time since this forced bonding.
Remus stared at him and Severus felt his resolve wilt like so many dead flowers. He struggled to keep from lowering his eyes, but the overwhelming feeling that he was displeasing his mate…man! Sweet Merlin, was he going to kill Albus for this!
Severus felt Remus move closer to him in the small passageway. Remus stood in front of Severus' lowered head and waited. Severus fumed as his blood roiled and the desire to please Remus surged within him like a crashing wave.
No! He'd have to fight this.
But Remus had reached out his hand to cup his chin and Severus finally raised his eyes to look at him. Remus searched his face and Severus' breathe quickened. The roar of his blood sounding in his ears drowned out the utter despair warring within him when he felt himself leaning forward to kiss the other man.
A loud cough broke the stillness of the moment and Remus stepped back slowly, turning his head to look at the intruder.
Tonks stood there, her face flaming red and her eyes wide, with her hair as black as coal.
"Molly says the meeting is about to start. Sent me to find you…" She trailed off and quickly turned around to head back into the kitchen, only she ran straight into the wall.
"Tonks…" Remus began, but the young Auror held up her hand and hurried back into the room.
"We need to get Harry out of there, Dumbledore," Arthur said, "He's not going to last much longer."
Albus rubbed his long beard. "I know that, Arthur. But…it's risky."
Severus wanted to rip his hair out. Twenty minutes of bickering amongst the Order members regarding Lucius' report had yielded little consensus. His eyes swept warily over the group and narrowed upon catching young Mister Weasley staring at him. The boy quickly turned his head. Miss Granger was watching the proceedings with rapt attention. Severus vaguely wondered what pathetic begging these two had done to be included in the discussion. His attention was brought back at the sound of Remus' voice.
Remus was nodding. "What of Severus' report? That letter from Lucius confirms that Harry can control Dementors. Maybe we can use that to our advantage. Maybe he's coherent enough to understand a note or something."
Molly shook her head. "Use Dementors? Those horrible creatures!? I don't think we should do that!"
"We have to do something! Harry's dying in there and Severus said that Lucius is twisting Harry's mind even more, thinking he's Draco! We have to get him out of there!" Remus snapped.
Molly glared at him and Dumbledore sighed. "Calm yourself, Remus. We know we have to do something, but removing Harry may make things even worse. Where would we put him? How do we keep him safe?"
Remus looked at Severus, who was leaning casually against the door jamb. "Severus can brew his potions, or maybe even put him back under the Living Draught, like before."
Molly stood up abruptly. "We can't keep drugging him! Why is that everyone's answer for all this! No more drugs, Remus! Do you hear? He needs love…and someone to understand him. "
Severus snorted loudly at that and Molly whipped towards him. "You have a better idea? Just leave him there in Lucius' clutches."
Severus tutted quietly and said, "Haven't you been paying attention to the meeting? Lucius won't be in Azkaban much longer. The Dark Lord is moving to free them. Potter will be free of his…clutches."
"And then what? Leave him in Azkaban to rot until the Ministry hears our appeal?" Arthur questioned.
Ron spoke up then. "Bloody hell, Dad! No, we should just go in there and snatch him during all the chaos when the Death Eaters come for Malfoy! No one would know who was doing what."
Hermione turned to chastise him. "Don't be stupid, Ron! How would we do that?" She whispered.
Arthur looked at his son. "You may have something there, Son."
He glanced at Remus, who was nodding thoughtfully. "Yes, that may work." Remus turned to Severus.
"When are they moving?"
"Two days time. Same day that Potter gets his meds from the Ministry. There is a plan in action regarding that. Unfortunately, I was not privy to it. I believe Narcissa had something to do with it though."
At this Arthur looked at Severus quickly. "Narcissa? I saw her the day I visited Ginny. She claimed she was there to see Pansy Parkinson and not Lucuis. Is that girl involved somehow, do you think?"
"As I clearly just said, I was not privy to the discussion between the Dark Lord and Narcissa. She did seem rather upset after her meeting. She didn't say much, but something about going to the Ministry to check on something. That's all she said to me."
"She must be passing information to Pansy about the plan. Is there any way to get to her?" Arthur asked.
"I would be the only one she'd talk to, but seeing as how I can't just show up to Azkaban without rousing suspicion, that's out. Narcissa won't discuss what the Dark Lord told her to do. We're just going to have to work with what we have." Severus responded.
Dumbledore spoke up then. "Severus, you will be in the group to retrieve Lucius?"
"Yes, and Draco as well. There are ten Death Eaters we will be breaking out. Potter killed Rastaban Lestrange, so he's no longer on the list," Severus said dryly.
Hermione gasped loudly and Ron blinked in astonishment. "Harry killed someone else?" He choked out.
Severus eyed them with annoyance. "Yes, it would seem he really is earning his stay there."
Ron frowned and opened his mouth to retort, but Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"We will take action on Mister Weasley's plan." He gave Ron a kindly smile and continued, "We must be ready to move in two days time. We all know what is at stake here, if we are caught. We also know that Harry is not in his right mind, so we must figure out what to do with him once we have him." He glanced at Molly.
"We may not have much of a choice but to sedate him until we find a cure. But we really can't allow him to remain in Azkaban. Although he has control over the Dementors, their presence is quite dark and dangerous. It is only harming Harry even more, perhaps even hastening his decline with his illness."
He looked around the room at all the faces.
"If anyone is not in agreement with this plan of action and wants out…please do so now."
No one moved or said a word. Dumbledore looked at Molly again, but she nodded solemnly.
"We will have to bring in others for this to work. Kingsley and Bill and anyone else that we can trust. Not only are we going to have to locate Harry and somehow convince him to leave with us, but we are going to be running up against Death Eaters, and Aurors when they hear of the attempted breakout of Lucius. We have to time this right."
He looked around the group again and focused on Severus.
"Now Severus, go over the details of the Dark Lord's plan again…"
Hermione glanced up at the silver moon rising in the sky, as she sat crouched next to Ron on the hard, cold ground. No one was allowed to use any unnecessary magic while they waited at the edge of the sharp cliffs that surrounded Azkaban.
Ron rubbed his hands together briskly to keep them warm. He couldn't believe that his parents had actually let him participate in this rescue attempt. He was even more surprised when his father has simply told him,
"Make us proud, Son."
His mother had only nodded, but Ron could tell she wanted to say more. But he supposed that she was finally letting him be a man.
Ron made mental notes about where everyone else was on the grounds. The last two days had been frantic with activity. Potions had to be made, illegal portkeys done, Unbreakable Vows tendered…
Bill had arrived early that morning and Tonks had joined up with them that evening. It was decided that both Kingsley and Moody would remain with the Auror team at the Ministry, to throw wrenches in the plans once Aurors were called to Azkaban. Arresting Death Eaters was the prime objective, but no one in the Order wanted to be seen removing Harry. If anyone from the Order was seen by an Auror, the Vows were in place to prevent them from telling the real reason they were there. Everyone was to claim they "heard" about the Death Eaters through a spy leak and were hoping to catch one. Vigilante justice was better than breaking a prisoner out, even if it was Harry Potter.
There was a sudden movement off to his left.
Ron and Hermione both turned towards the sound and Hermione bit her lip to keep from gasping.
Snape had suddenly appeared in their midst, followed by Draco. Both were dressed in black with Death Eater masks.
Another small movement and two more appeared off to Hermione's right side. One was definitely a woman.
Snape's eyes swept over the clearing, knowing that the Order was somewhere in their vicinity. They had done a fairly decent job of keeping themselves hidden, even without the use of magic.
"Sweep the area, Snape," the female hissed.
Hermione grimaced. Bellatrix then.
Snape's lip curled and cast a magical detection spell. This was the reason the Order had not used any magic to conceal themselves. Snape had warned them that the Death Eaters would use that the minute they arrived.
Once satisfied that no one was lurking in the bushes, the group moved stealthily along the exterior of the enclosure, heading towards Azkaban. Ron saw more Death Eaters appear from the opposite side of the clearing, noting that they had not detected his brother, Remus or his father.
As the Death Eater group moved down the embankment, Ron released the breath he'd been holding. Hermione turned to him, relief in her eyes. She squeezed Ron' hand gently, giving him some encouragement.
For Harry, it said.
Lucius groaned as his stomach gurgled. He sat up and his nausea increased. He fought down his urge to vomit as he pushed himself off his cot. He staggered to the bars of his cell and shouted for the guard.
"Guard! I demand that you come here at once!" Lucius bellowed, well aware how common he sounded. But at the moment, he really didn't care. Narcissa had not warned him of how awful he was going to feel. He closed his eyes and took some calming breaths. Not much longer, he thought.
At long last, a slow shuffling of feet sounded in the passageway and Lucius sighed inaudibly. He opened his eyes just as an ill-tempered guard appeared in his line of vision.
"What do ya want, Malfoy?" The guard asked irritably. "Another trip to see Potter, yeah?"
Lucius gave him a sneer. "Take me to the hospital wing. I'm not feeling well."
The guard looked incredulous. "Your highness isn't feeling well? Well, that's just too bad for ya."
He turned to go and Lucius reached out and snagged his sleeve, wincing at how coarse the uniform felt under his fingertips.
"Do you want Potter to get angry with you?" Lucius hissed. It felt ridiculous to have to use the boy's name, but the guards were terrified of him now. Lucius knew how to use something to his advantage.
Potter's obvious crush on him had led to much better treatment by the guards, all of whom now tried their best to stay away from both of them. But leaving him alone most of the time was not going to plan, and the longer this discussion went on, the more complicated this would become.
The guard flushed at the threat and then frowned angrily. "One day you're going to get yours, Malfoy. Mark me words."
Lucius waved at him dismissively and the sudden movement aggravated his nausea. The room spun dangerously and Lucius vomited dramatically.
The guard jumped back cursing. "Damn it! What's wrong with ya?"
He hastily shoved the key in the door and pulled it open, grabbing Lucius by the arm. "Get on! Come on!"
Lucius gingerly wiped his mouth on his sleeve, cursing Narcissa. The unsuspecting little pill she had smuggled into the prison the other day and had given to Pansy was quite the little bugger. Pansy had repeated Narcissa's heavily coded message, which would sound nonsensical to anyone outside of the two of them and Lucius had eyed the pill with interest.
Her instructions had simply said to take the pill at five in the evening and he would know what to do.
It had only been ten minutes and the pill had done its work.
Lucius stumbled ahead of the guard as sweat began to bead on his brow. The room spun again and Lucius grabbed the wall. The guard nudged him in the back.
"Don't you pass out on me, Malfoy! I'll leave you on the floor if you do."
Lucius swallowed back a lump of bile and staggered forward, heading down the corridor. The guard followed behind, grumbling the whole way. The trip lasted less than ten minutes, but it felt like ten years. By the time they had reached the infirmary, Lucius was practically crawling on all fours.
A rather young, pretty med-witch looked up at their sudden arrival. She stood quickly when she saw Lucius on his knees.
"What happened?" She asked quickly as she hurried to him. "You haven't been abusing him have you?" She looked suspiciously at the guard, who looked affronted.
"Ain't touched him! Just he's been crying about being sick! Let loose with his supper and all that. Heal em up so's I can take him back."
The girl frowned. "You'd better not have caused this. You know what time it is! I'll have my hands full very shortly. Where is the guard escort anyway? And the St. Mungo's group? It's a shame how you all treat these here prisoners. They're human beings! You should be ashamed!"
The guard snorted. "That Malfoy is a pig! You bleedin heart healers…all wanting to take care of everyone. And the escort group was mustering before Malfoy bellowed. They'll be here."
She huffed and she helped Lucius to the table. "I'll just take a look. What's wrong?" She asked, not unkindly.
Lucius was about to answer when another guard appeared in the sick room area. Lucius saw a flash of red hair.
The Weasley girl.
Lucius had only seen her a handful to times since she'd been brought in. He hadn't really thought much about her which was surprising since she had tried to kill his son. As she and her guard drew level to where he was lying on the table, he caught a glimpse of her face. Although she was looking at him and obviously recognized him, her face didn't change expression at all.
The medi-witch turned from Lucius. "What's this? Is she all right?"
The new guard shrugged. "Don't know what's wrong with her, Healer. Hasn't eaten in a couple of days. Complaining about her stomach bothering her. Never bothered her before."
The medi-witch or Ava, frowned again. "Ginny, go sit on that bed over there please."
Lucius watched carefully as Ginny blinked once and moved to the other side of the room and sat down. She never said a word.
The two guards were conversing in loud whispers. "Yeah, she tried to kill Malfoy's whelp. And here they are in the same prison…nothing happening with them. Cepting that Malfoy's charming her old boyfriend." Both guards snickered maliciously and sent sympathetic looks in Ginny's direction.
Medi-witch Ava turned quickly back towards Lucius and pulled her wand, as a small parchment appeared with a quill. "Now to find out what's going on with you." She waved her wand and a blue light enveloped Lucius.
Loud footsteps filled the corridor and what looked like a small battalion of Azkaban guards and MLE from the Ministry appeared in the hallway. Between the phalanx of officers, a body floated. No need to guess who that was.
"Be right back, "Ava said and hurried over to the group. "Put him there. Usual bed. Have the healers arrived with you?"
Lucius watched as Harry's body was levitated to a bed in the very back of the infirmary. He'd been stunned of course, which seemed to be the only way to be able to deal with him in any manner. Lucius still wasn't completely certain what had happened to Potter, but he knew the boy was under the influence of some demonic presence. Every three days, St. Mungo's would send a full staff of healers to the prison to administer a series of potions, spells and magic inhibitors that would keep Potter a lot calmer.
Lucius suddenly felt better. Literally.
As if nothing had ever affected him.
Whatever Narcissa had planned, the moment was approaching.
The guards were stepping back from Potter and had moved towards the center of the room, talking amongst themselves. At that moment, two blue coated Healers entered the room, both carrying small bags.
The head healer said gruffly, "Is he restrained? We don't have all day! Get ready to wake him up. And I'm going to need some help administering this. Three healers down today! All sick with some stomach bug!"
Ava hurried to the healers and began helping them to open bags, pulling out brightly colored vials.
"Now don't mix them up. You know the routine. It must be done in proper order." He looked at the nearest guard. "Wake him up, but don't remove the body bind. We only need his mouth to move for now."
The guard nodded and turned to Harry, pointing his wand at the bed. He started to open his mouth, when all hell suddenly broke loose.
Lucius had been watching the healers so closely that he had completely forgotten about Weasley. He saw a quick flash of red and the girl had moved with a speed that caused Lucius to open his mouth in surprise.
Ginny had pushed past the healers and had grasped the wand the guard was holding. He was so shocked at her brazen act that he had released his grip on it, going completely against his training.
She pointed the wand at Harry and shouted, "FINITE INCANTATUM!"
Harry's eyes snapped open and he sat up as if jerked up by a puppet string.
She turned towards the healers and shouted, "INCENDIO!" The vials erupted in flames and the healers squawked in dismay.
Lucius knew it was time to act. He sprang from the table just as the guards came to life, for most had been gaping at the vials exploding in balls of fire. He ran towards Harry, pushing both Healers and the medi-witch Ava roughly out of the way. He reached Weasley and Harry, just as a hex flew past his head and slammed into the red-headed girl. She dropped to the floor with a smack.
Lucius grabbed the wand from her limp hand and grabbed Harry by the shoulders, shaking him roughly.
"Potter!! You want to save me from the Dark Lord! Now here's your chance to get us out of here! Save us both!!"
Harry's eyes focused on Lucius' face and his eyes narrowed . He stood up, brushing Lucius out of his way.
The healers were falling back, terrified that Harry was now awake and had not been sedated with his medications. Several guards had backed away, but three stepped forward boldly, including the one who no longer had his wand.
Harry didn't even glance in their direction. He simply said,
A low whistling sound began and Lucius knew that things were getting ready to get very bad.
The room began to grow icy cold.
Shouts began throughout the guards, who began firing hexes at the open doorway.
Dementors were streaming in the room and partially formed Patronuses barely held them at bay.
Lucius grabbed Harry by the arm and pulled him through the crowded room. Once out in the corridor, Lucius pushed Harry forward.
"I need to go back to my cell, Potter! I need…to get something important. Clear the path for me! I'll meet you at the courtyard in ten minutes! Don't let me get captured! Go make sure the way is clear for us to escape."
Harry's eyes burned gold and he nodded stiffly. Lucius smirked and hurried down the corridor, away from the infirmary and the shouts of the guards.
He hadn't lied to Potter. He did need to go back to his cell block, but that was only to release his fellow Death Eaters. He couldn't believe that the Death Eater contingent on the outside had managed to pull this off. Even his wife had participated in this. How she had managed to manipulate the Weasley girl from such a great distance was amazingly difficult. He would have to reward her well. How long had she been Imperius'ed?
Severus slid stealthily into the long abandoned crumbling lower section of the prison. Very few people knew of this area, mainly because it had long since been abandoned. For some reason, this section of the prison warded against all magic. No one knew why and it had been forsaken. However, with the arrival of Potter, there was renewed interest in trying to house him in that section to neutralize his out of control magic. Lucius had sent the information to the Dark Lord in his covert letter.
Draco hovered at his side, his face calm. Severus was completely against Draco coming on this mission for several reasons. The main point being the dying demon inside of him, all too eager to reunite with its other parts. Severus was not enthusiastic about what his chances would be against Potter if the whole demon had re-connected with him, Lupin's bond be damned. But it had been both pointless and dangerous for Severus to make his concerns known to the Dark Lord about Draco coming along. It would have raised too many red flags. As far as Severus could tell, the Dark Lord had not commented on Draco's odd behavior and emaciated appearance.
Severus found the corner of the wall where the ward was greatly weakened. With a nod at Draco, they both hit the wall simultaneously with curses to disengage the ward. There was a strong ripple of magic and then the ward fizzled out, like a fire cracker in the rain. Severus blinked, not believing it had been that easy. He squinted in the darkness at the side of the prison and made out a small entrance, blasted out from the inside.
Draco gave Severus a look and the older man nodded. Draco turned and made a small motion with is hand as Severus moved forward and entered the building. The remaining Death Eaters followed suit after receiving Draco's signal. They all followed behind Severus.
"Stay with me, Draco." Severus commanded, as he reached out to stop the young man from passing him. Bellatrix turned and sneered, but Severus ignored her.
"The Dark Lord wants Lucius out, Snape! This isn't the time to be babysitting!" The witch hissed.
Severus turned cold eyes to her. "Then get moving. Why are you still standing there?"
Bellatrix narrowed her eyes, but didn't say anything else. She pushed past the other Death Eaters and disappeared down the corridor.
Severus watched them go, then turned to Draco. "Don't try to be a Gryffindor, Draco. You're not leaving my sight."
Draco smirked. "Then you'd better keep up." He zipped off down the rocky passageway and Snape hissed in displeasure.
Hermione and Ron shrank back into the shadows, avoiding the guards who were running pell-mell throughout the prison.
Ron gripped Hermione's hand. "Are we anywhere near Harry's cell?"
Hermione bit her lip. She had to admit she had no real idea where they were. The corridors had wound in circles in complicated mazes and they had spent the better part of their time inside by running and hiding from Dementors, Aurors, guards and inmates. They had no idea where they were, or anyone else for that matter.
"Use the spell again." Ron quipped. "We've got to find Harry."
"I don't think it's working properly. This place is disturbing the magic, something doesn't feel right." Hermione whispered.
Ron rolled his eyes. "No kidding! This place is crazy. And my sister is locked up here!" His eyes brightened. "Maybe we can break her out!"
"No, Ron! She'd just be in more trouble and they would know it was us! No, we need to find Harry."
Ron's shoulders slumped. "I just want to do something other than run around here in the dark lost! Where is everyone?"
Remus twisted to the right, dodging the fist trying to connect with his mouth.
"I'm going to kill youuuuuuuuuu!"
Remus grunted when the strange prisoner, who he'd never seen before in his life jumped on his back. Remus slammed his cargo into the wall as hard as he could.
A curse shot past his head and both men froze.
"Time to go." Remus gasped out and promptly elbowed the man in the stomach. He slid to the floor, gasping and Remus bolted down the hall, away from the pursuing guard.
Remus ducked down another passageway and dipped into an alcove. The guard had engaged the escaped inmate and sounds of fighting echoed down the hallway. Remus looked to his left and saw he had entered a cell block corridor. Most of the doors had been opened.
"The Death Eaters must be letting everyone out," Remus mused aloud, then paused when he heard shuffling in the darkness.
Remus sniffed the air, but everything was so mixed up and the air was so foul, that he couldn't place anything familiar. He peered down the hallway and saw two men, both prisoners, edging towards Remus' location.
"Is it a Dementor?" One of the men asked fearfully. "What's going on? Why are we out?"
"Shut up!" The other man snapped. "It's a prison break. I'm getting the bloody hell out of here."
Remus cocked his head. Something was…familiar.
The men moved into the light and Remus caught a glimpse of the men's faces.
With a growl, he jerked out of the alcove, startling both of them. He seized the taller man by the neck and slammed him against the wall, his feet a good foot off the ground.
"Bulstrode. Just the bloke to solve my problems. Where's your werewolf friend?"
Fadien Bulstrode's mouth fell open in shock.
Severus was panting for breath by the time he rounded what had to be the hundredth corridor. And still Draco had not slowed down, his body twisting and jerking at every corridor, his nose on the trail like a hound on the moors.
"I can feel him again. He's close. So close." Draco whispered. He touched one of the walls. "Yesssss….I'm coming." Draco took off down a side hallway and Severus huffed.
"Draco! Wait!" But the blond sped on, spurred on by love and netherworld desire.
Severus pushed on, determined not to lose the crazed blond in the winding maze of corridors. He hurried down a passage and saw the flash of blond. He sprinted ahead, closing the distance. He could hear shouts in the distance and Severus' brow furrowed.
He reached the next corridor and caught sight of Draco, who was standing motionless by the wall. But then Severus realized…
"Severus." Lucius said silkily. "I see you got my note."
Severus nodded, his lips a thin line. "Obviously."
"Where is my son?"
Severus frowned. "You did not see him? He was heading in this direction."
"Undoubtedly to find his lover."
Severus pursed his lips. "Unfortunately, he has been rather single minded on that course of action."
Lucius smiled devilishly. "Potter has been most…helpful. I never would have imagined that I would be happy that my son disobeyed me."
Severus sighed wearily. "While I would love to hear your tales of fatherhood, I think we need to move and get out of here."
"I have freed the others, all of the inmates. It would help with giving us cover."
Severus nodded. "I heard Aurors. You need to go. "
Lucius shook his head. "I'm not leaving without Draco. He will return with us and leave Potter to his fate."
"I will find Draco, old friend. You need to get to the rendezvous point-"
"Is there some reason you don't want me to find my son? Or is it that you wish to be alone with Potter yourself?" Lucius asked snidely.
Severus narrowed his eyes and snapped, "This entire excursion was to gain your release! Won't this be a big waste of time should you fail to get out of here."
"Draco is also in trouble with the Aurors, is he not? If he is captured, then this will be a waste." Lucius strode off in the direction that Draco had headed. Severus cursed under his breath, but followed after the elder blond.
Ron stumbled over several bodies. Hermione let out a small shriek, but kept her hand on Ron's shoulder.
"I think we're back towards the way we entered. That body over there looks familiar." Ron said.
"They all look the same now." Hermione whispered, her voice on the edge of panic. She hated not knowing where she was going.
There was light shining at the end of the hall and Ron tensed, stopping in his tracks. Hermione stopped too.
"What do you see?"
"I think that's the courtyard. Dad told me about it. Maybe we can go there and get our bearings." He hurried away and Hermione followed. As they reached the door, Ron sighed in relief.
"It is the courtyard. Come on."
Ron pulled the door open and walked in the courtyard, Hermione right behind him. But Ron stopped short and Hermione almost walked up his back.
"Harry?" Ron croaked and Hermione peered around his shoulder.
Harry was squatting in the middle of the room, his golden eyes fixed attentively on the door.
"Harry!" Hermione shrieked and pushed past Ron, racing over to their friend.
"Wait, Hermione!" Ron hissed, reaching out to grab her sleeve. "What if he's…not himself?"
Hermione looked uncertain for a moment and slowed. "You're right." But she did slow down as they both cautiously approached him. Harry never looked at them, so focused on the door was he.
Hermione stepped in front of Harry's view of the door. "Harry…are you all right? We've come to take you away from here."
Harry cocked his head. "It's here…I am complete now."
Hermione frowned and Ron looked confused. "Who's here, mate?"
Harry returned to staring at the door. Ron gave Hermione a bewildered look and then said, "We don't have time for this, Hermione. We have to get him out of here."
"Harry," Hermione said gently, kneeling down in front of him, "will you come with us? This place is not for you. We have somewhere better for you."
Harry didn't respond. A shout sounded in the distance and both Gryffindors started at the sound. They were running out of time.
"We've got to go, Hermione!" Ron hissed again. "That sounded like…somebody bad. Get him and let's get out of here!"
Hermione reached for Harry's arm. The second her hand connected to Harry's arm, he snarled viciously and shot straight up. He grabbed Hermione around the neck and began to squeeze.
"Let her go, Harry!" Ron shouted as he pointed his wand at his best friend. Hermione clawed at Harry's hand as he lifted her from the floor.
"Don't ever touch me."
Ron shot a Stinging Hex at Harry, who raised his hand and propelled Ron backwards, knocking him on his arse. His wand clattered across the stone tiles. Ron rolled over, snatched his wand and fired another curse at Harry. Harry dodged it effortlessly and swung Hermione with him, as if she were a rag doll.
"H-h-harry…"Hermione gasped, "pl-please…you're…hurting…me!" Tears split from her eyes as she struggled against the firm grip. "We…just…want…to…help…you…we…love…you…"
Ron stumbled to his feet and limped towards Hermione. "Harry," he whispered, "don't hurt her anymore. It's Hermione…"
Harry snarled again and then stopped abruptly. He shook violently and dropped Hermione as if she had burned him. Ron hurried over to her side while she gasped for air. He rubbed her back and pulled her into a tight hug. "Oh…Hermione…we can't take him like this…"
Ron turned to look at Harry and let out a squeak. Hermione peered over his arm and gasped. "Harry?"
Harry was looking at them intently, but his eyes were no longer the molten gold. They shone with a bright green gaze.
Hermione pulled away from Ron and stepped towards Harry. "Harry, you know us? Is it you?"
Harry looked confused for a moment, then nodded slowly. "I know you…I can…almost…think…" He looked around wildly again, then stepped towards them, his hands out desperately. "Don't let me hurt anyone else! Don't let…don't let Draco find me. Draco…he's…" Harry looked exhausted all of sudden, but he pressed on, each word sounding as if it was being wrenched from his mouth. "It's not complete…not without…Draco. Kill me…don't let Draco…"
Harry winced and bent over and Hermione reached out to steady him. "Come on, Harry…we have to leave now. We won't let Draco near you."
Draco could feel him; he was calling out to his soul like a lighthouse to a lost ship. Draco moved through the mazes of Azkaban as though he had been born behind those crumbling, ancient walls.
"I'm coming, Harry."
His body thrummed in anticipation. The weeks of his not eating or sleeping well seemed to melt away and he was revitalized. He'd completely forgotten about his father, Severus…anyone.
He rounded a corner and felt a warmth he'd never known. It cocooned him, made him feel safe. He hurried towards it, crossing through the doorway that led to the courtyard.
Draco couldn't speak. All he could do was move. Harry was standing in the middle of the courtyard, a wry smile on his face.
And then Granger and the Weasel stepped in front of Harry and pointed their wands at him. "Back away, Malfoy!"
Draco whipped out his wand and shot a Stupefy at the pair. They both scrambled out of the way, with the Weasel pulling Harry with him. Harry cried out as if in pain.
Draco growled in frustration and shot another hex. Hermione deflected it with a Protego and fired an Incarcerous. Draco hissed as he twisted out of the way and dropped to the floor, sending a jinx at the Gryffindor couple.
"He's mine! I'm taking him with me!"
"Over our dead bodies, Malfoy!" Ron shouted, sending another spell at the blond. Draco jumped over the spell and Ron gaped for a moment. Hermione recovered quicker and sent a rapid succession of hexes.
Harry cried out again, and Hermione whipped around to stare. Harry had dropped to the floor and curled up, shaking in agony. "Don't let it take me…!"
"Let me help him!" Draco shouted, "you're killing him!"
"No! You…you have the other part of that demon! If it joins with Harry…he'll…be unstoppable, Draco! We'd have to kill him!"
"I'll take care of him! You can't take him! Only I can help him! You fools will take him to St. Mungo's again, where they'll lock him up! I won't let you do that!"
"We won't! We have a plan, Draco…just let him be!"
Draco had been circling the pair, who were valiantly surrounding Harry, who was still curled up and writhing nastily. Ron nudged Hermione and nodded at Draco. Draco's eyes were an identical shade to Harry's, when Harry was taken over. Hermione nodded once and they both shot rapid Stupefy's at Draco, from two different directions.
Draco leapt into the air and the spells shot harmlessly past him. He landed lightly on his feet and then heard,
He turned his head and watched as his father stunned Granger, who fell to the floor with a dull thump. The Weasel roared with rage and raised his wand. Severus stepped forward and flicked his wrist. The Weasel's wand flew out and into his outstretched hand.
Ron gaped like a fish and Lucius smiled serenely.
"Kindly step away from my son…Weasley, is it? Perhaps you need to attend to the little Mudblood."
Ron looked conflicted for a moment and his eyes rolled to Severus. Severus looked back at him, fingering the stolen wand without emotion.
"If you've hurt her…" Ron growled angrily, but he bent down to inspect Hermione anyway with no further comment.
Draco barely paid any attention to his father, but he stared at Harry's crumpled form. Without another word, he strode over to Harry, knelt down and enveloped the form in his arms.
Lucius' mouth dropped open at the sight of his son cradling Harry. "You disappoint me, Draco! We are leaving here at once. Come, boy."
Draco pulled Harry tighter to him, possessively, like a child holding his favorite toy. Harry shuddered violently and moaned. "No….noo…Draco…don't…"
Draco patted his hair soothingly, "Shhhh….it's okay, Harry. I'm going to take you away from here. Someplace safe…"
"And where do you plan on taking him, Draco?" Lucius hissed. "I know of your…affair…with him. It is time to end this foolishness. You will be forgiven this one mistake, but no more."
Draco pulled Harry even closer to him and glared at his father. "Father, I won't let him kill Harry. If you take him back to the Dark Lord, he will! I can't let you do that!"
Lucius stepped forward, furious. "You will do no such thing. You are a Malfoy! What do you think you're doing?? "
Draco stood up, and he pulled Harry up with him. Harry's head lolled like a drunken sailor. Draco's eyes glowed like golden coals. Lucius frowned and stepped forward again. Draco growled low in his throat and Lucius blinked. Severus reached out a hand and pulled him back.
"Leave him, Lucius. We won't win that way. Draco is…going to return the rest of the demon to Potter."
Lucius turned to stare at Severus. "Demon? That…that's what's got Potter?"
Severus nodded, keeping his eyes trained on Draco and Harry. "Yes, the demon from your family's curse. I'm surprised you didn't know that."
Lucius actually looked gobsmacked. "How did this come to be?" He demanded. "My son is possessed by the same demon as Potter? Explain this!"
Severus rolled his eyes. "Lucius, we don't have time for this. We have to go, now!"
Lucius nodded and turned back to Draco. "Draco, I demand that you come with us now. We can sort this out later. Leave Potter to the Aurors!"
Draco stood breathing heavily and gave his father a wicked smile. Harry began to stir and turned to look at Draco.
"I knew you would find me." His eyes began to fill up with gold again.
Harry gripped Draco's shoulders and stared into his eyes.
Draco gripped him back, feeling as if pure joy was coursing through his veins.
And then felt a pain that felt as if his bones were turning to liquid.
He cried out in pain.
Harry's eyes were alight with fire and he placed his hand on Draco's stomach.
"What's he doing?" Lucius said, as he his whipped back and forth between looking at his son and Severus. "He's killing Draco!"
"That's not so bad," Ron sneered. "We shouldn't interfere with that."
"Yessss…" Harry hissed, "We will become one again." Draco shuddered and blood pooled from the corners of his mouth.
"I won't stand here and let that thing kill Draco! Help me, Severus!"
Severus held Lucius back. "No…let him take the demon. At least Draco will be free of it. And then it will be Potter's problem. "
"It's killing him in the process. I'll do it myself then." Lucius marched forward, his wand held high.
There was a loud crack and Lucius's spell died on his lips.
The Dark Lord stood in the middle of the room.
Severus, Lucius and Ron all gaped.
Severus bowed quickly. "My Lord, I had no idea you would be-"
"Silence, Severus! I am most displeased with this." Voldemort turned to look at Draco and Harry. "Enough of this!" He waved his wand and shot a strange yellow spell at Draco. Draco flew back and away from Harry, destroying the connection between them. Harry turned violent gold eyes on Voldemort as Draco crashed against the wall. He landed in a heap.
Lucius hurried forward and bowed. "My Lord, we did not know you would be here. If I had known-"
"Then what, Lucius? You would have denied that you knew of the love between young Malfoy and Potter?"
Lucius flicked his eyes to the floor. It was true that he had told the Dark Lord of Potter's apparent fascination with him, but he hadn't revealed the real reason for that. He had simply made it sound as if Potter had developed a crush on him for some odd reason.
Voldemort glared down at Lucius as if he were a bug. Then he looked at Severus. "Severus, you have disappointed me the most. Crucio!!"
Severus crumpled to the floor, groaning in pain. He glanced at Lucius. "Crucio!!" The blond sank to the ground as if deflated by a pin. A pitiful moan escaped him.
He shot a disdainful look at Ron. "Blood traitor. Crucio!"
Ron cried out and dropped to his knees. Hermione remained motionless by his side. She was not spared his wrath either. She screamed once the spell hit her, waking her out of her unconsciousness.
Voldemort turned to look at Harry, who was kneeling over Draco's body. He watched impassively for a moment, a wry smile on his lips, and then he flicked his wrist, ending the curses on the four. There was a collective groan and Voldemort didn't bother to turn around. He addressed Harry.
"Ahhh…Harry. If only they had told me this little secret. That you and Draco were lovers. It would have made this so much easier."
He raised his wand, as the four wizards and witch struggled to their feet.
Ron's eyes widened and he cried out, "NOOOO!"
Severus felt the panic rising in his chest, the overwhelming urge to shout at the Dark Lord to stop, the Dark Lord raising his wand, the Killing Curse on his lips.
There was another flick of Voldemort's wrist, a flash of light and then…
Ron blinked and he stared at the spot where Voldemort had stood. He turned fearfully to the spot where Harry's body was now lying, lifeless.
Harry's body wasn't there.
Draco still lay on the floor, but he was stirring slightly.
Lucius hurried forward and grabbed Draco by the arm. He hauled him up none to gently. "We must go." He pulled Draco from the room, casting a quick glance at Severus. Severus moved to follow behind them and turned quickly. He hurried back to them and handed Ron his wand.
He then reached into his robes and shoved a shoelace into Ron's hand. "Use this only when you are ready," he hissed, his black eyes glinting, "we are all doomed if you should fail. Granger will know what this is."
He whirled away, and hurried after the Malfoys. Ron closed his hand over the lace as Hermione walked up next to him. She reached for the lace.
"It's a portkey. To Voldemort."
"Why would he take Harry? Why not just kill him here?" Ron asked.
Hermione stared at the portkey in her hand. "I don't think he's interested in killing Harry anymore. He's much more valuable to him...alive...and being a killing machine. Who can stop him now?"
Ron sighed heavily.
They would have to kill their best friend.