The wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.
After a long time! Real Life got to me in a way I could not avoid and I am sorry I have delayed so much in publishing the next chapter. Hopefully I can now get on with the story and complete it, which has always remained my intention. Thanks to all my wonderful readers, who waited patiently all this while. I hope I will not keep you waiting this long again.
Harry Potter and the Trip to the Past
Chapter – 29
Voldemort had come rushing to kill whoever it was who was calling him. He was terribly confused and did not know whom to trust and who not to. He had been alone and this pull had initially frightened him and then had greatly angered him. So he had decided to wreck those who had dared call him. He swirled as he came to those who called him and found that he had come to a place he had lived for long periods of time and he grew furious, thinking that someone had broken into his most loyal follower's home, and was now trying to trap him as well. He bore down in rage and then paused when he saw three people he knew very well; three people who lowered their wands the moment they saw him, all three of them bowing very low. Bellatrix, Lucius and Narcissa.
He frowned, confused, as he veered away from possessing and killing his most loyal and beloved follower and circled all of them a couple of times before coming to float near Bellatrix. There was a silence that was thick with all kinds of emotions running through that little group. Bellatrix was ecstatic, naturally, and her eyes simply glowed as she took in the spirit form of Voldemort. Happiness bubbled up in her and she bowed down once again before standing straight and slowly extending a hand towards him. She touched his spirit which she could not feel and saw him slowly change to become a small ugly baby falling to the ground and hitting it with a pained squeal. She smiled with happiness when she realised her Lord had decided to trust her.
For a second, all the three death eaters were stunned; seeing their Master change, then Bellatrix hurried to pick him up. She bent down and picked him up gently and held him closely. "Master!" she breathed softly. "You are in safe hands, My Lord, and we shall have you resurrected in no time to your former glory." She said walking swiftly inside, leaving Lucius to clean up behind her. Narcissa hesitated for second, deliberating whether to go in with her sister or stay with her husband, but Lucius did not allow her to decide; he nodded his head sharply, gesturing her to go inside with Bellatrix.
Narcissa followed her sister inside. She was shocked within, even as she strove for a blank, even eager face. While Lucius has been a death eater, it had been different somehow. Narcissa did not know how they had endured their Lord, only that they had, proudly even, but as she despaired of her situation then, she wondered for a second how they had been so agreeable to be branded like slaves to this man, proud purebloods like her. Then, all of a sudden their Lord had been defeated by a mere one year old baby, giving her years of a peace she was now loath to give up. She had got used to the life without Voldemort and she wanted it to stay that way. She knew it would only be a matter of time before Draco got dragged into it and that she wanted to avoid at all cost.
Bellatrix was seated with Voldemort on her lap. Her face was filled with adoration as she looked down on the baby in her lap. The baby was hairless and ugly; repulsive, Narcissa felt, and she immediately removed that thought from her mind, filling it with reverence; she knew about her Lord's capacity to read minds and she had made a grave mistake in allowing her thoughts to wander earlier; if it been the Dark Lord of old, she knew she would been at the very least Crucioed for them, if not killed outright for the betrayal he would have seen. She stood deferentially but silently, watching her sister fawn over Lord Voldemort. Lucius came in almost at once and he went to his wife and after a minute, both sat down with Bellatrix. The three of them were silent, waiting for Voldemort to speak.
Voldemort was sitting on Bellatrix's lap, had his eyes closed. He seemed to be listening to something or meditating and after a while he slowly opened his eyes. 'Tell me!" he whispered.
All three started and then Bellatrix and Narcissa fell silent as Lucius began the story of the Boy-Who-Lived, giving a detailed account of the Wizarding World in the dozen years Voldemort had been off the radar. He was careful to mention how he was striving to keep himself politically powerful, so that his Lord may benefit when He returned. When he fell silent, Bellatrix started speaking about her years in Azkaban and the death eaters who were still languishing there for following their Master. Voldemort's eyes flashed, but he remained silent, listening to her escape and her subsequent contact with the Malfoys. Then she continued with the potion they had made to call him so that they could resurrect him.
There was silence as Voldemort contemplated all he had learnt and then turning his red eyes to Lucius he asked.
'Who else knows?"
"No one My Lord! I refused to allow Lucius to inform anyone." Bellatrix answered before Lucius could get in a word. He glared at her and said 'I did not want to inform anyone My Lord! Well', he swallowed a little and then went on, "No one except Snape!" seeing Bellatrix beginning to interrupt, he continued hastily, "I have kept a careful watch over him and I feel he is true to our cause, even though he carefully walks close to Dumbledore, trying to get as much information from him as possible."
"I was not sure, Master!" Bellatrix said loftily, smirking at Lucius as he glared once more at her. 'So I refused to allow him to contact Snape to help us with the potion. While I know he could have made the potion right the first time, Master I did not want to take chances. If you will permit us, Master, we can resurrect you as quickly as possible." She finished and then there was only silence for sometime as Voldemort processed everything Bellatrix and Lucius told him.
"I need some time to think about my next step, yes even to resurrect Bellatrix; I need to think about the way to do it. I am tired now and I need to rest. We will speak in the morning." He said and allowed Bellatrix to take him to a room. Narcissa followed Bellatrix and helped to place the ugly baby on a bed and after making the ugly baby as comfortable as they could, they waited until they were dismissed by Lord Voldemort. The moment they were dismissed, Narcissa returned to the living room followed by Bellatrix, tired, but triumphant, where a worried Lucius was waiting for them. Voldemort had said nothing about Snape and he was worried that he may have said the wrong thing. But he could not do anything; he knew Snape was loyal; he had helped Lucius in such way with the Diary that Lucius knew Snape was with them. But he could not tell Voldemort that, naturally, so he was looking for a way to bring Snape in and pass on the information that the Diary was no longer in his custody.
'You come early tomorrow, Lucius! The Master will want to see us and make decisions about his resurrection." Bellatrix told him and without wasting more time or words Lucius and Narcissa left for their home. They did not speak once they reached their home and simply went to bed, too tired to even express their worry and fear.
The next morning dawned nice and bright and Lucius woke up to find his wife looking at him with a worried frown on her face. "Should I come today?" she asked him, the moment she determined he was fully awake and looked very relieved when he shook his head.
"Oh Lucius!" she whispered, taking his hand. "I am so worried. What have we done?" she swallowed a bit and whispered, "Draco!" Lucius paled and then hugged her lightly.
"Shh!" He said, not wanting to talk about Voldemort now that he had returned, unnerved and so scared that he felt that his Lord could somehow be privy to personal conversations inside their bedroom, and ignoring for the time being about Draco's position. He was determined Draco would form no part of this life; it was enough he and Narcissa were dragged into it, thanks to his misguided principles in his youth. 'It'll be fine Cissy. You are not to worry."
"Draco?" she repeated softly. He smiled wryly and told her again. "It'll be fine… for all of us, including Draco. Don't worry Narcissa. Please." The last word came out softly, pleading her, asking her to understand something he could not clearly understand himself.
Lucius got ready and went to floo Lestrange Manor, when he was informed by Bellatrix that Voldemort was resting and he would call when he was ready to speak to Lucius. Biting his lips Lucius returned home to wait nervously for his Lord's summons. It was three days before he got the summons to go to the Lestrange home. Bellatrix poked her head cautiously and called out to Lucius. Lucius Malfoy had blocked the floo access to everyone except Bellatrix, once he had returned home. Lucius Malfoy was reading The Daily Prophet and he was shocked for a moment when he saw a girl with red hair, calling out to him. Seeing no one else in the room, Bella removed the glamour and smirked at a panicked Lucius who had been ready to curse the unknown witch, forgetting no one else except Bellatrix could access Malfoy Manor through the floo.
"Why Lucius, you seemed rather scared!" Bellatrix taunted him, as she stepped into the room, before stiffening a bit. "No one else here?" she asked looking around, and swiftly re-applied her glamour, swiftly, just as Narcissa came into the room and stood for a moment in shock when she saw a stranger in the room. Her eyes darted to Lucius and she knew from his face just who this stranger was at once. "Bella!" she smiled, walking towards her, holding her hands in welcome.
"Cissy!" she smiled back, her affection showing for Narcissa. "Where is Draco?"
"He has gone outside to fly for a while." She replied, carefully, not looking at Lucius.
"How is our Lord, Bella?" Lucius asked, looking extremely concerned, while he hoped his Lord had died. No such luck and Bella smiled again. "He is fine Lucius. He wants to meet you. That was why I came. Come; let us not keep him waiting." She waved to Narcissa, who was trying not to show how worried she was as she waved back at her sister and tuned to her husband. But he was not looking at her. "I'll see you soon Narcissa." He said formally, giving her a small kiss on her cheek and, still avoiding her eyes, he followed Bella into the floo.
"Mother!" said Draco banging the door open, his face all flushed and red from the flying he had done and Narcissa jumped a mile into the air and clutched her chest, when she saw who it was. Draco frowned seeing his mother react so and then noticed the floo coming back to its normal colour from the green indicating that the floo had been used just a minute before and knew that someone had come and gone. "Where is Father?" he asked, casually, seeing that his mother was not going to say anything.
His mother's face crunched up in worry. "He's just gone out Draco. Go upstairs and get out of these sweaty clothes." She said, trying to smile.
Draco looked at his mother for a long moment and turned away, angry with himself. He was angry enough to hit himself; he could have just come in just a bit earlier and peeped in from the windows first, he may have learned something. But he had to be flying happily, when something important had happened. He had nothing to give Harry except his suspicions and without some kind of proof, he knew that's all they would be, suspicions. Walking into his room, he banged his fist on the side table, totally frustrated.
His father did not appear until late evening. Draco and Narcissa were in the sitting room, playing a game of chess, when Lucius stepped out of the floo. Narcissa stood up at once, with a soft "we'll play later Draco, now go up to your room," and walked towards her husband.
"Later Narcissa." Lucius told her, before slumping in a very ungainly manner on the sofa and closing his eyes, in a gesture of utter defeat. Both Narcissa and Draco looked at each other, before Narcissa called Kreacher and told him to bring a steaming cup of tea. A minute later an old elf popped in with a cup of tea for Lucius. Narcissa summoned a vial and poured in the contents of that vial into the tea and placing a warming charm on it, waited for Lucius to open his eyes.
After a few minutes Lucius sat up and slowly took the cup of tea from his wife and sipped it. The pepper up potion inside it, made him feel slightly better and he smiled at Draco, who was looking at him with alarm.
'Father!" said Draco came close to Lucius and knelt by his side. "Are you... are you alright?" he asked a worried look in his eyes.
"Yes, Draco." Lucius answered smiling wearily. "I am merely tired. Today was a tough day with many meetings." placing his cup on the centre table, Lucius closed his eyes once more. Draco was about to ask him something, when Narcissa placed a finger on her lips. "Go and play in your room Draco. Father is tired and you will not disturb him."
Draco stood up and silently left the room, shutting the door and then walking away a few steps, before removing his shoes and walking back to the closed door and trying to listen. But he could not hear a thing and after a few seconds walked away to his room.
Meanwhile Narcissa closed the door and looked at Lucius, terror and worry on her face.
"What can I say Narcissa?" Lucius asked tiredly. "I joined for the power and now it looks like I cannot leave and the power too will be controlled, so much that there will be no power at all. I joined with such hope….hope for our world, to keep the muggleborns away and now thanks to no one, I've become entangled in a mess. Even the muggleborns should be kept away argument is now null and void, seeing they are people who belonged to us in the first place." Lucius fell silent and Narcissa sat down next to him and held his hand, trying to comfort him.
A small pause later, Lucius continued. "I am scared Cissy." He told her softly, none of the Malfoy pride in his face. She trembled and tried to stop the tears that ran down her face. "We'll come out of this Lucius alive and well. We will." She said trying to convince herself along with him.
"I don't know." She answered in a tortured voice. "But we'll do it. We have to Lucius, if not for us, for Draco." After a small pause, she slowly stroked his hand and whispered, "What happened?"
"The Dark Lord is slowly regaining his strength", Lucius said slowly, "He has plans, but has not revealed them yet." After another small silence he continued, "Even if he does, I fear it'll not be beneficial to us. Right now, I cannot see any way out of this." He finished with a sigh, remembering that morning.
Lucius Malfoy had followed Bellatrix into the Manor and saw the Dark Lord as a small ugly baby, carefully placed in a sofa. He bowed low and with a smile went to stand deferentially near Voldemort's chair. Bellatrix came and stood on the other side and then Voldemort had started talking.
'I feel weak, Lucius." He had hissed. "Come and give me news about my not so faithful death eaters who are still outside."
Lucius had started with a list. "There are not many my Lord, but those of us who are free have been waiting for the day we would be called." He explained slickly, stopping as Voldemort chuckled harshly.
"Have been waiting!" he said derisively. "Waiting with all comforts, even as I suffered ... suffered terribly Luciussss."
Lucius Malfoy wisely did not answer, looking down with a look of contrition on his face. Voldemort let the silence stand for sometime, before he snapped, "Continue."
"My Lord, there are a few of us outside. Apart from me, there is Severus in Hogwarts, McNair and Avery in the Ministry, Rookwood with the unspeakables…"
'Stop!" hissed Voldemort. "I have no wish to hear how well you have been all these years, with secure positions in the Ministry, while pretending to be angered about what happened to me."
"My Lord, I am sorry, I did not mean to..."
"Mean to what Lucius? Mock?" Voldemort said harshly, refusing to listen to Lucius's protests. "I said stop!" Lucius stopped abruptly, his head bowed in surrender as Voldemort stared at him.
"I wish to return to my body." He said after a horrible pause, where Lucius had been sure, he would be cursed by Bellatrix on Voldemort's orders.
Lucius blinked, nodded, when he saw Voldemort looking at him and saw Bellatrix's head bob up and down from the corner of his eyes, as she simpered, really Lucius thought, repulsed at her look of adoration. His attention turned to Voldemort as he began to speak again.
"Severus is loyal to my cause. He was about to reveal himself as my follower when he was about to kill Potter, as I possessed the boy and ordered him to use the Avada Kedavra. But before he could, I was pushed from that boy due to his mudblood mother's sacrifice. That mudblood's blood sacrifice is stopping me every time I get near to kill that dratted boy. This time, I have decided to use that boy's blood to resurrect and then kill him."
"Severus could bring the boy to you My Lord." Bellatrix's eyes gleamed as she thought of Voldemort's resurrection to his body.
'I do not want Severus's place to be compromised until Dumbledore is safe six feet under the ground. His place in the Hogwarts will become more important, once I remove the boy and start the real war. He will be required to stay on with Dumbledore."
"But how will we get the boy?" both Lucius and Bellatrix asked at the same time, confusion in their eyes and voices.
Voldemort's red eyes gleamed. "The Tri-Wizard Tournament."
Lucius's eyes cleared and he smiled, nodding, as Voldemort continued. "I will remain in hiding here along with Bella until then. I will resurrect on the day of the last Task, when the Boy will be brought to me."
"We must make sure the Boy is entered into the competition and that he is chosen as Champion for that." Bellatrix said.
"Severus can do it My Lord." Lucius said. Voldemort shook his head. "I do not wish it Lucius. I do not want Dumbledore to be in any way suspicious of Severus. We must use someone else. You have time until before the names are called." He told Lucius flatly.
Lucius, Bellatrix and Voldemort spent the day discussing. Voldemort retired to take rest a couple of times, but since he had not dismissed Lucius, Lucius had dared not leave. It was not until evening, that Voldemort gave him permission, asking him to come again in the morning. Lucius had bowed and left at once, relived and his head full of all the plans. He had escaped, but knew that he had already been drawn into the Circle and this time, and after a gap of freedom and Voldemort free years, he was resentful and angry. But he also did not know what to do.
He sighed, coming back to the present sitting with Narcissa, and trying to absorb some kind of security and happiness from her and failing. He realised those had already been taken from him and his family by Voldemort's return. Draco joined them for dinner, and Lucius smiled and acted as normally as he could, but he was sure, he was failing, for both Draco looked anxious and Narcissa looked worried and both spoke little.
Seeing the tear tracks on her face, which she had not bothered to clean, Draco was horrified. He realised that it must have been some terrible news for his mother to forget to clean her face and even worse for his father not to notice it. He badly wanted to ask them, but knew instinctively that he would not get a right answer, if he would get an answer at all and finishing his food, excused himself and went to his room, where he spent the rest of the night uneasily, wondering what had happened and how he could find out. But he was unable to, for his parents would not talk in front of him and we're always careful to use privacy charms when they did speak to each other.
Draco went to his room and sat there, knowing that his parents were in trouble. He guessed it was to do with Bellatrix's escape and he was sure his parents were in some way involved in it. The rest of the holidays went by, with Lucius disappearing in the morning and not returning until late in the evening, with the Malfoy Manor in almost tense silence all the time. Draco was extremely relieved, when the time came for him to leave for Hogwarts.
Over the next few days Voldemort updated himself with the current affairs of the Wizarding World and grilled Lucius about the Ministry, Hogwarts and the wizarding public. He and Bellatrix took Voldemort to little Hangleton and Lucius watched as Bellatrix killed Frank, the gardener on Voldemort's orders. The killing of people who did no harm to anyone else had begun. Strangely Lucius was not as uncaring as he was during the first war, as he saw the man killed. The poor caretaker had only been doing his job.
Once he got the old caretaker out of the way, Voldemort had begun fortifying the old home with wards and other protective charms. When Lucius saw Frank fall, a look of surprise and shock on his face, he had not wanted to see this man, this muggle to die he thought with a start; and that had shocked him more than Frank's death itself. Lucius had begun to change, but now he had no choice. It was a bitter Lucius Malfoy who apparated back to the Lestrange home that evening.
The days went by, when one day, a couple of weeks after Voldemort had arrived, Bellatrix, received a letter. That had shocked her and she drew her wand, casting various spells on the letter and then warily opening it. Her eyes widened as she read and her jaw hung in shock.
"What is it Bellatrix?" Voldemort asked curious at her expression.
In return she started reading.
It is I, Barty; Barty crouch Jr. Yes indeed it is I, Bella. My mother and I exchanged when she came to see me at Azkaban and my father has kept me under the Imperius since then. I have shaken it off now and then, and today I have finally been able to write to you, placing my father under the same curse he subjected me to. I heard you escaped and I know you are not dead. I would like to meet you in person and soon. Together we'll resurrect our Lord and continue our work for him. Tell me where I can meet you and I will bring food and a few other things in case you have not been able to meet with Narcissa or get into your old home.
There was an amazed silence as all three of them contemplated what this letter could be. Real or a hoax.
"Send him a portkey." Voldemort said suddenly.
"My Lord?" Bellatrix stammered.
"Send it to him, and place a secret binding spell that will activate at landing. If he is his dear father or anyone else from the Ministry, well we can take care of it." Voldemort said, his red eyes gleaming nastily.
Bellatrix laughed and went to prepare the portkey, which she sent off to Barty Crouch Jr. with a short note which revealed nothing of where she was hiding. It was late evening; Lucius was on the verge of leaving for his home, when someone landed in the living room. Bellatrix and Lucius stood at once, their wands drawn and in front of Voldemort, ready to kill, when they saw Barty Crouch Jr. Barty landed perfectly and saw him being bound in invisible ropes at once. Bella stunned him and checked him for curses and then checked his forearm. The dark mark could be seen, just like it was in her hand, not as faint as it was before, but still not restored to its former frightening glory.
She looked at Voldemort and nodded. He was Barty Crouch Jr.
"Enervate him." Voldemort said, his red eyes looking keenly at the stunned death eater. He looked pale and was very thin and Voldemort watched as he opened his eyes and looked around.
Barty Crouch Jr's eyes widened seeing Voldemort and he smiled, when he understood his Master was there already. "Master!" he exclaimed joyously.
Voldemort smiled at his loyalty and continued to smile as Bellatrix removed his binds and Barty Crouch Jr. stood up and came close to Voldemort, knelt, and kissed his robes, or rather the blanket that was covering him. Voldemort looked pleased. He ordered Barty to tell his story and Barty obliged, ending his narration with, "Master, I have been successful in removing the Imperius my father," he spat, his eyes flashing as he thought of his father, "And yesterday, I took my father by surprise, attacked him and removing his wand, placed him under the Imperius, just as he did to me, all these years." Barty Crouch said triumphantly. "I set him to do his duties and wrote the letter to Bellatrix. I am at your service Master." He finished simply.
Voldemort smiled. "I know what you can do. Become the DADA teacher at Hogwarts this year and perform two tasks. One, ensure Harry Potter's name will be chosen as a competitor in the Tri-Wizard Tournament that will be hosted at Hogwarts this year. Make sure he wins the Cup. Change the Cup into a portkey at the end of the third task and bring the boy to me at the graveyard, where using his blood, I shall resurrect." Turning to Lucius, Voldemort added, "Assist him."
Lucius nodded and bowed and Barty Crouch Jr. bowed as well. "It will be done Master." He said fervently.
"Leave now, Barty." Voldemort hissed. "Control your father and make sure he never breaks off the Imperius like you did."
Barty visited Voldemort one more time to inform him that he had indeed secured the DADA post. He would be going in place of Alastor Moody, who was now in his trunk, alive for the sole purpose of providing hair for polyjuice.
"Kill him, at the end of the year, a leaving gift to Dumbledore, once your job in Hogwarts is over." Voldemort ordered. "I do not wish you to speak to Severus, Avery, Rookwood or any other. If you have any problem, approach Lucius or come here. Until I resurrect and call my death eaters I wish to remain a secret." He turned to Lucius. "I know you trust Severus and I think he's loyal as well. But, Lucius, for now I shall remain a secret. Tell that to your wife as well." His eyes flashed and he added in a low menacing voice. "Is that understood?"
"Yes, My Lord." Lucius, trembled as he bowed. "Severus shall not hear about you or your plans from me or Narcissa."
'Bye Sirius! Remus!' He shouted the Hogwarts Express gathered speed. Sirius and Remus waved and shouted in return but their voices were lost in the general noise. Harry stepped back from the window and smiled; Sirius and Remus had run alongside the train as usual and had stopped only when the train turned around the bend. Harry turned and walked along the corridor until he came to the carriage where Hermione, Neville, Luna were sitting and threw himself happily on the seat, grinning at them. He had seen them during the holidays, which had become long and quite unbearable by the end. Harry had ached to go to Hogwarts; this was the year Voldemort came back to life in the old timeline at the end of the Tri Wizard Tournament and Harry was terribly restless. Sirius and Remus had wondered about his restlessness once or twice, but they had let it go, when Harry had apparently settled down.
'How was France?' he now asked a beaming Hermione.
'Fine' she replied smiling. 'I've been there before you know, this time it was partially official, for Daddy attended a conference in Paris for a couple of days and then we stayed over for a few more days before returning.'
'I stayed at home with Gran.' Neville said grinning at Harry. "You know that already."
Harry grinned back at him. How much he had changed; Neville in the old timeline had not shown the confidence this Neville had and Harry was very happy for him.
They spent the time chatting and before they knew it, they had arrived at the little station at Hogsmeade. Bellatrix had almost become old news; a disease that was making all of them uncomfortable when they thought of it, so they tried not to think of her and her escape at all, as days went by. They went through the inevitable topics of the Quidditch Cup and what happened there, of Dark Marks and their significance and everything. Harry joined them now and then but he was eager to reach Hogwarts and see Snape and get the real news about Voldemort and Bellatrix. He also wanted to see Draco and Dumbledore, even though he knew Draco would not talk to him openly and he could not talk to Dumbledore openly. Harry smiled as he thought of the astonishment Dumbledore would have when he knew what had happened with Harry and how he came to the past. Of course Harry desperately hoped that all of them would live and Voldemort's final demise would not cause their deaths all over again.
Harry and his friends got out at the station at Hogsmeade and walked towards the threstal carriages and got into one of them, and soon they were swiftly taken to the School. They got down, Harry searching all over for Draco, but unable to find him and walked into the Great Hall and sat down with Hermione and Neville, when he saw Draco sitting along with his friends, looking straight at him. Harry nodded once and watching Draco turning his face away, turned his attention to the Staff Table, to find that Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall were watching him. Harry smiled at Snape, who predictably scowled, before looking at Dumbledore and McGonagall and smiling at them as well. They smiled back in return, rather, Dumbledore smiled back at him and McGonagall twitched her lips just a bit. There was one seat empty for the DADA Professor and as the noise levels rose to unmanageable levels, McGonagall stepped down and tapped her wine glass with her wand sternly, before walking down to receive the new students for the year.
Once the Sorting Hat sang its song and the first years sorted, Dumbledore told all of them to tuck in. Harry grinned at Dennis Creevey, when he flapped to the Gryffindor table, almost submerged in Hagrid's moleskin coat; Harry realised Dennis had, like last time, fallen into the Lake this time too.
When they had all finished, Dumbledore stood up. "Now that we all are fed and watered, I would like your attention to a few notices. Mr Filch has asked me to tell you that a few more objects are forbidden inside the castle, which he has kindly added to his list, available to those interested, in his office. I would like to, as I do every year, remind you that the Forbidden Forest is out of bounds to all students."
Here it comes Harry thought as Dumbledore looked around the Great Hall and continued. "It is also my painful duty to inform you that the inter house Quidditch Cup is cancelled this year. This is because of an event that will be starting in October and continuing all through the School year."
At that moment the doors of the Great Hall slammed open and the false Mad-Eye Moody walked in. False last time thought Harry; well he would know soon enough, the moment he checked the Map, and he would do so once he left the Great Hall. Meanwhile Mad-Eye Moody had stumped up to the Staff Table and was shaking hands with Dumbledore, before seating himself, nodding to McGonagall. Dumbledore turned once again to the students, who were still gaping at Mad-Eye Moody. As Dumbledore continued where he left of, informing the students about the Tri-Wizard Tournament the reason for the Quidditch Cup being cancelled that year, Harry stared at Mad-Eye Moody, whose blue orb was rotating rather fiercely all over the Great Hall, coming to rest upon him every two minutes. Harry smiled a small smile the first time this happened and then he watched impassively the false Auror.
Finally Dumbledore finished with his announcement and dismissed the students, who left talking loudly, in many cases indignantly about the cancellation of the Quidditch matches. Harry listened to all this as he left with his friends. Once they were in their common room, Harry pretended to be tired, even as he whispered to Hermione and Neville.
"I am just going to our classroom to wait for Draco."
Neville frowned. "Alone? Are you sure it's wise Harry? At this time?"
Harry frowned at Neville's words. "What do you mean Nev?"
Neville sighed. "With her still missing?" he continued hastily when Harry was about to intervene. "What if Draco's mind has been brainwashed in the last two months?"
Harry stayed quiet for a long moment. "I agree. But we'll never know unless we meet him, and while I don't mind you and Hermione coming along with me, I thought it would be better if you're both here, so that no one would miss me. You can make excuses for where I am if asked by anyone. I'll be careful Nev. Don't worry."
Neville sighed again. He knew whatever he said would not change Harry's mind. He nodded. "Be very careful until you're sure alright?"
"Sure Nev." Harry said easily as he slipped the invisibility cloak over him and loped off. While he did need Neville and Hermione to cover for him when he was away meeting with Draco, he knew it was not just because of that he was going alone. Draco would talk more freely to him if he was alone, than when he was with Hermione and Neville.
Harry slipped out in the commotion of the New Year greetings and meetings and once he was in a corridor all alone, he changed and flashed to the corridor where the room he usually met Draco was. He changed back and he walked to the room, removing his invisibility cloak at the entrance, opened the door and peeped in. He smiled with relief when he saw an anxious and nervous Draco standing with his wand out and looking all around him.
"Hey!" Harry said as he walked into the room and closed the door, startling Draco, who jumped and almost sent off a hex.
"Merlin!" he said clutching his chest with his left hand. "Don't scare me so."
"Sorry!" Harry smiled. "How are you? How have the holidays been to you?" he asked coming close to Draco and carefully scrutinising him.
It was as if a dam had opened and all the restrictions of the holidays removed. Draco started spilling everything that happened that holiday, finishing bitterly, "I had to be flying outside when someone came and went. It could have been her for all you know or it could have even been Him." He shuddered, thinking of Voldemort.
Harry listened silently and then he was quiet for a little while, as he thought through what Draco had told him. All suspicions only, but pretty strong ones he thought. He was sure Bellatrix had been a visitor to the Malfoy home more than once and perhaps they had also come into contact with the baby Voldemort, in which case Barty Crouch Jr. was also in the know. "I think you are correct Draco. I am sure your Aunt has been in touch with your Dad and Mum."
"I am sure she is. I saw my Mother with tear tracks Harry, you don't know how strange that is. She was so worried that she had actually forgotten to wipe her tears and she was not aware of that fact in front of me and my Father did not even notice that." He hesitated a little and then straightened his shoulders. "I think my father is also on the same page as us Harry. I think he's changed too." He stopped knowing that Harry would understand what he was trying to say. Draco had thought hard during the summer and watching his father closely, he really did think Lucius Malfoy had changed from the selfish, almost evil man he had been when he had slipped the Diary into Ginny Weasley's Transfiguration Book. Now, strangely Draco felt that Lucius Malfoy thought differently and he badly wanted Harry to see that fact and agree with him; that his father had become a better man, not by much Draco thought honestly to himself, but certainly better than what he was before.
Harry nodded thoughtfully. Narcissa, he always knew thought more of family than Voldemort. It certainly was possible Lucius also thought more of what it would mean for Draco and Narcissa earlier than he did the last time, which was at the very end. "Was your father very upset too? Visibly?"
Draco nodded. "Yes he was. He was so tired all the time, and while that itself was not anything unusual, because he comes home tired many times, especially after Wizengamot meetings, this holiday, when he came home, he would slump down in his chair; what gave it away was my mother's reaction to him. She would be so worried and she would always erect privacy and silencing charms before they even spoke a word."
"I agree Draco. It all sounds very suspicious and I think Bellatrix is in contact with your parents and that I think is what is worrying them, getting them down and I also agree with you that there is a great possibility your father has changed." Draco let out a breath that he did not realise he was holding. He turned his attention to Harry who was still talking. "I think we must be even more careful this year. If your Aunt is in touch with your parents, she may have coerced them into doing things they are not comfortable with. Thanks for sharing this Draco. You will be careful alright? I'll not talk much to you openly, though, if you come to know something let me know."
Draco looked mutinous and a touch sad. "So we can't meet or talk at all."
"Of course not Draco. Friends don't give up so easily. We will meet here once a week at least or when you are able to get away without arousing suspicion in your House and among your Slytherin friends. I'll bring Nev and Hermione next time. They'll want to meet you too, I know." Draco nodded, looking much happier than when he had come there.
They made arrangements to meet again and looking at his Map, Harry allowed Draco to leave first, watching until he reached the safety of the Slytherin Common Room, before he cast an invisibility charm on himself, changed and flashed near the Gryffindor Common Room. He waited for a minute to check he was alone, changed back and sauntered into the Gryffindor Common Room to brief Hermione and Neville, whom he knew would be waiting for him.
End of Chapter – 29