Oath Breaker II: Dawn and Twilight

by KC

Disclaimer: I wish I owned Harry, Draco and all the rest; they'd do a lot more stuff than they do in the books and it'd all be rated R through X. Alas, however, I do not.

Other info: Draco-centric. Sequel to Oath Breaker. Harry/Draco, Lucius/Narcissa/Severus (she insisted).

Summary: Harry learns to live with the Malfoys. The Malfoys learn to live with Harry. The rest of the world learns to deal.


Seated with his family in their carriage, eyes half closed as Harry leaned a little too heavily on his shoulder, Draco listened to the horse hooves clopping on the ground. No one spoke, a little miracle for the Malfoy family as Severus and Narcissa sat peaceably with Lucius, doing their best to ignore each other after the day's earlier argument. Draco thought the family resembled a nest of snakes coiled together as they drowsed.

Normally they wouldn't drop their guard so completely, but everyone was tired and even Severus had admitted that they'd kept their travel plans sufficiently secret. The wizarding road wound through the countryside and sped them comfortably to the small town of Givry-on-Stratford. Esconced in the warm carriage, now and then Draco glanced out of his window at the last rays of sunset over the falling snow.

His robes were charmed to keep warm and the dash from their cottage to the carriage had lasted only a moment, but the sharp wind had sent a twinge through the old wounds of his right hand and shoulder. As healed as he ever would be, he wondered if he would always ache through every winter and wet, chilly night, until the ache never died but merely faded so that he lost all use of that hand. He flexed it to feel his fingers move. That might not happen for years, perhaps ever, and the price he'd paid in blood paled compared to what so many others had lost in Voldemort's final attack.

He supposed he should be happy he wasn't flying a broom in the snow right now. The last battle could have turned into a slaughter so easily. As winter edged toward spring, the snow reminded him uncomfortably of Voldemort's blizzard nearly half a year ago.

Harry shifted against him and sat up with a sigh, tugging on the edge of his robes. He always fidgeted in dress robes, even though these had been tailored for him with charms to make them more comfortable.

Draco didn't understand why Harry had such a hard time wearing formal clothes. Even if he was used to shabby muggle wear, these were nowhere near as form-fitting as Draco's own severely cut robes, which he'd slowly grown used to in the past few months.

His collar rose high on his throat and the tight sleeves hugged his arms, while the robe itself clung to his body in strict straight lines only partially concealed by a cloak. But then Draco found tighter clothes more practical for brewing potions, as well as more effective in luring Harry away from his meetings and back into the bedroom to laboriously unbutton him free.

And if he was manipulating his husband into abandoning his pet political causes, at least he was doing it for Harry's own good, no matter how much Harry disliked being puppeted. Draco didn't like the look of the growing shadows under his husband's eyes. The first year of learning social niceties was always the hardest, but Harry wasn't used to courting other people's good will. His straightforward Gryffindor heart rebelled against currying favor amongst people he couldn't stand, and he still struggled to find his own way in the Ministry. Lucius' subtlety and vicious scheming would never come naturally to him, but Harry's quick temper and blunt manners served him even less.

Since the wedding, Draco had not left Harry's side both out of fear of the world, but also fear of Harry jeopardizing everything they'd worked for with one angry word when Draco wasn't there. It didn't help that his husband had a terrible habit of asking deceptively simple questions that left even the best politicians fumbling or fuming. Naiveté and blunt honesty, a lethal combination for anyone other than Harry.

"The moonlight suits you."

Then again, Harry never lied to him. His whisper forced Draco to smile. Charms on the carriage windows kept anyone outside from looking in but let everyone inside see out, so the moonlight and stars played on Draco's hair and face like a halo. Harry often said that the moon made his skin look like his gleaming mother of pearl scales, and like each night, Harry touched his cheek as if expecting to feel cool snakeskin. Instead Draco was warm and leaned into his touch.

Outside the moon's glow changed to gold lamplight as they came to the outskirts of town. The road they traveled changed from dirt to cobblestones, and the hooves of the horses clopped on the street. Harry's eyebrows knitted as he listened, a look Draco recognized and dreaded..

"You're thinking up a thousand questions again, aren't you?" Draco sighed.

Harry half-smiled, knowing that he drove his lover insane with questions, but only Draco answered them instead of ordering him to look it up in a book.

"I'm sorry, it's just--I can hear the horses, so why can't I hear the carriage wheels? Do the horses need to feel the ground underneath them? What about when they fly? Do they--"

Answers for which Draco neither knew nor cared. He put his sore hand into Harry's, satisfied when Harry began rubbing circles in his palm out of habit. He didn't know everything about Harry's childhood, but his love starved for affection and latched onto it whenever offered.

"So that's how you stop his questions," someone said in front of them.

He'd wondered when his former master would say something. When traveling together, the unspoken agreement was that they would not argue while in such a confined space, for their own sanity and, considering their tempers, their safety as well. Tonight, however, none of them were in the best of moods, dragged out into the cold to mingle with society wizards none of them liked.

"Severus, must you be so vulgar?" Narcissa glanced out of the corner of her eye, careful not to crease her black evening gown as she glared across her husband at Severus. Her look had no effect on the potions master, who stared out the window in bored disinterest.

"If we'd invested in separate carriages like I suggested--"

"And chance Draco being attacked without us nearby to protect him?"

"More like the boys would tumble out on top of each other on the sidewalk."

Sitting across from Harry and Draco, Lucius touched his fingers to a spot between his eyes that Harry had come to recognize as an attempt to ward off a headache, usually caused by the two people on either side of him.

"Must you argue tonight?" Lucius sighed, his words clipped and terse. He leaned back in his seat with his hand clenched around the serpent's head of his cane as if he wanted to draw his wand. "Bad enough I have to listen to Ministry wizards all day, but do I have to listen to you argue as well?"

Narcissa quietly sat straight in her seat again and looked out of her own window. Nothing was said for a moment. Severus shifted slightly and pushed his hair out of his face. Even clean, it hung limp, but now it gave him a morose and sulky look rather than seeming like he'd gone a week without stepping into a shower. Although Draco would never admit it, he was surprised by how Severus looked when forced to wear dress robes and take care of his appearance. But if brewing potions could turn someone pale and sallow, he worried about how he might look himself in a few years.

"Please forgive my asking," Narcissa murmured, "but if you're that tired, why not skip the opera tonight? There are other performances scheduled this week."

"But the press will only attend the premiere," Lucius said. "And we must make appearances."

Severus sighed as if he was the one being put upon. "Cocktails afterwards, I assume?"

"Most likely," Lucius said. "There are matters I must speak to Scrimgeour about and I'm hoping he's here tonight." He glanced at Harry, who'd clasped Draco's hand and knitted their fingers together. Lucius knew his son hated hearing any of them argue and he didn't miss the fact that Draco constantly sought comfort from his husband.

"I believe," Lucius continued with a look at Harry, "that you had questions of your own for the minister?"

As always when addressed by the head of the family, Harry found himself trapped between his previous hatred of the man and the need to keep the peace. Draco's hand tightened on his. Fortunately this time he could fall back on his growing disgust of politics.

"Yes, but I just got done arguing with his counselors this afternoon," Harry said, sitting back hard in the seat. "So did you. When do we get a break?"

"If you sit in the right spot," Severus said before Lucius could answer, "you can sleep until intermission."

"Really?" Harry brightened.


They all heard the warning note creep into Lucius' voice. The patriarch could put up with a lot from his family, but with the recent stresses, not the least of which was Potter becoming his son in law, his temper had grown noticeably shorter. He had yet to hex anyone out of frustration, but that was only because all of them knew the exact moment to leave a room.

"Harry, dear," Narcissa said softly, "I suggest you watch it this time. You can always sleep during future performances, but you're amongst wizards who've seen this several times. You need to have a passing understanding of the opera if you want them to respect you."

Harry blinked. "Several times? Why?"

"God knows," Severus murmured, and Lucius made a small noise of agreement.

Narcissa smiled with a faraway look as she recalled other performances, obviously the only one who would enjoy this show. "Different singers can bring so much to the show. I remember the first time I saw La Candela di Maledizioni. Berlugia Marcona's voice was like an angel's."

"The opera aside," Severus said, his dry voice a little more serious now, "these minor appearances are part of your duties. We must show that we are truly trying to become part of their society. If we hide, they will fear us."

"Or forget us," Lucius said. "Don't overestimate their attention span. If you hide from the cameras, the Prophet will stop going to you for quotes and you won't seem like a threat anymore."

Having experienced the Prophet's attention span before, Harry looked doubtful, but there was no more time to ask questions. The light grew brighter as they reached the opera house nestled near the outskirts of town. The voices of wizards and witches chatting amicably mingled with that of other arriving carriages and the pops of portkey arrivals. Few apparated, but that was because everyone knew that the cocktails would be complimentary tonight and no one wanted to splinch themselves going home.

The carriage came to a gentle halt and someone opened the door. Harry still wasn't used to valets who opened doors for him and took the carriage away, and he didn't think he ever would be.

Lucius stepped out first, scanning the crowd for any hint of danger before standing aside and extending his hand to Narcissa, helping her step down. Severus followed with Harry and Draco close behind.

Awash in light, the Bredgett Opera House shone like a beacon in the countryside. An untold number of charms must have kept the muggles from getting curious about a bright spot so close to their town, or the fancy carriages and well dressed wizards milling around the entrance. The lamps made the falling snow look like golden flurries, and Draco held his cloak closed as he followed Severus and Harry along the carpet up the steps.

Cameras flashed as the Daily Prophet photographed his family, focusing in particular on his father and Harry. As always, Draco took Harry's arm and did not let him turn away, whispering in his ear to smile until they were safely inside. And as always, Harry grumbled under his breath but smiled anyway.

They drew to a halt as they came up the final step and found Lucius speaking with a reporter, a young witch who'd clearly been assigned an unimportant social event for practice. She grinned to be given even a short interview with a famous dark wizard, and jotted down everything he said and how he looked while he said it.

"--still getting used to being out, so to speak," Lucius said. "Although I'm sure people had their suspicions before."

She nodded, trying to seem sympathetic through her excitement. "Was it hard keeping something so important to you a secret to everyone else?"

"Very much so. When a single slip can give you away, you grow so cautious that you turn cold and distrustful to the world."

A nice way, Draco thought, to explain their distaste for dealing with mudbloods and bloodtraitors. Any future slights could be blamed on old habits. He bit down his smile. True, they had targets on their backs now, but they'd always been prey for the light wizards. Now they could openly strike down their enemies and claim self-defense, that they had been attacked for being dark.

Perhaps they could slowly eat away at their worst opponents in the ministry--

Harry leaned close and whispered in his ear. "I know that look. Whatever you're thinking, I won't let you do it."

Draco turned his head and murmured back. "Mm, who says I'll let you stop me? You can't watch me all the time."

"No," Harry replied under his breath, "but I don't have to. All I have to do is distract you for a little while. You can't hex anyone if you're too busy with me."

One last camera flashed in front of them before Draco could answer. Harry blinked in surprise, and Draco took him by the arm and steered him up the steps before the photographer could snap another picture. Pictures were usually alright as long as Harry was caught off guard, but once warned, any more pictures invariably showed Harry trying to edge out of the frame. Draco knew his husband hated being in the news, but it made him look as if he was trying to get away from the Malfoy family, not at all the image they wanted to present to the world.

As they stepped through the doors, the opera house opened wide around them in bright red velvet on the walls with golden trim along the doors and edges. The large main room swept up into wide marble stairs that led to the second floor landing and a long set of alcoves that in turn led to two staircases that would take visitors to the third floor. Each alcove lay shadowed behind heavy red curtains tied back with gold cord, hiding the majority of the guests as they waited for the opera to begin.

"Wow," Harry breathed.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Draco said, enjoying his reaction. He knew Harry, for all his fame and wealth, had seen only a few of the wizarding world's spectacles. As much as he disliked light wizards, he loved being able to share some of their world with him.

"The original theater is almost a thousand five hundred years old," he said. "This facade they built over it and the upper levels, those are much more recent."

"How can it be that old?" Harry asked.

"The same way my old home was older than that," Draco said, smiling at Harry's surprise. "Parts of it, anyway. This place began well before the separation between light and dark. The light wizards crafted the stage above ground, and the dark wizards created the space beneath it. If you ever go down there, there's a large basement for all their costumes and things."

"How do you know all that?" Harry asked. "More of your dark memories and dreams?"

"Mm. Come on." Draco gave him a tug towards the stairs. "I'm not watching an opera without a few drinks to start."

They had to make their way through a field of dignitaries, officials and celebrities of the wizarding world, and Draco cursed and blessed his slender build. He wasn't in the mood to waste time with politicians and people simply didn't notice a thin young wizard slipping between them, but that also meant he had to dodge and back away whenever someone nearly walked into him. After a few moments and a close call as someone gestured with his champagne, Draco found Harry moving past him.

"That's it," Harry said low enough for only him to hear. "Let me lead."

Without much of a choice, Draco found that he wasn't holding Harry's arm so much as his husband had a firm grip on him, and he quickened his pace to keep up. Harry's ability to avoid being spotted sometimes made Draco wonder if that invisibility cloak worked on everyone but Malfoys. Messy hair and owlish glasses made very few people look twice, especially when that hair covered the distinctive scar, and everyone edged out of the way for a clumsy looking wizard. With a satisfied look, Harry took two glasses from the elf passing them out and handed one to his lover.

"Nice to have a big dumb Gryffindor to hide behind?" he smiled.

"I admit, you have your uses," Draco said, hiding his own smile behind a sip.

"Nothing in the drink?" Harry asked. Every since the poisoning of the food in Hogwarts, he'd treated everything that hadn't been poured by a Malfoy as suspect.

"Nothing," Draco reassured him. "But you've been with us long enough, you could probably taste if there was rowan or anything like that."

"Maybe," Harry said, "but I'm no potions master able to taste a dozen poisons and tell them all apart at once."

"Harry," Draco said, a rueful smirk belying his words, "if I'd known you'd never stop teasing me about it, I might not have made you all those antidotes."

To his surprise, Harry didn't banter back. His husband's face shadowed as he took a sip of his own champagne and grimaced at the taste, lowering it without any intention of touching it again. "You know, I remember Dobby trying to say you owed me a life debt--"

"I remember, too," Draco said as his face darkened, "that rotten little--"

"Hush," Harry held up his hand to quiet him. "But I was thinking about it and...he had it the wrong way around. I don't know how many times I owe you my life."

Blinking in surprise, Draco tried to think over the past year while at the same time trying to see if anyone was listening to them. A crowded opera house was not the place he expected such a serious conversation. His mind blanked the way it wouldn't if he was with anyone else, but he trusted Harry so completely that for a moment his thoughts were too jumbled to speak. He stalled by taking Harry's arm and drawing him away to the shadowed recess beneath the grand staircase. Here the noise of the crowd was muffled.

After glancing over his shoulder to make sure they hadn't been followed, Draco turned and breathed in as Harry drew close to him. His warmth enveloped him and seemed to cut them off from everyone else.

"You made the antidotes for me," Harry said softly. "You saved me from that mob in the dungeons, and then brought me with you when you hid in Slytherin, even though you could barely drag yourself in. You helped me fight off Death Eaters I don't think I could've handled alone, you helped save the castle, you kept your family grimoire safe from Voldemort. You even dragged me away from him the first time--mm, not sure I should count that--"

"You should," Draco said before he could stop himself. In his opinion, Harry's worst enemy was his own stubborn bravery.

His husband tilted his head and nuzzled Draco's hair and cheek. "And you were with me."


"You--you kept me company through a very rough part of my life." Harry stayed close to him, and Draco had the feeling Harry was avoiding his eyes.

"I could say the same," he offered.

"No, you..." Harry sighed. "Well, maybe. Is dark magic like being addicted?"

Oh. Draco half-shrugged and put his free arm around Harry, holding him closer. "A little, but not very much. Truth be told, I didn't even think about it then. Beyond making your antidotes, it didn't matter."

"Exactly." Harry stood straight enough to meet his look. "Maybe it was because you were wrapped up in your problems, but before you came back, the teachers all treated me like I might explode."

"What about your Gryffindor friends?" Draco asked, guessing the answer before he finished the question.

"They knew something was wrong. They wouldn't stop asking me questions, why wasn't I eating, why wasn't I sleeping? But they never would've understood." Harry sighed and set his champagne glass on a recessed, decorative niche in the wall so he could have both hands to hold Draco. "You sort of took me as I came. You didn't try to fix me."

"No, I just tried to make you fall in love with me," Draco mumbled. Why Harry insisted on trying to make him sound noble mystified him, especially after he'd seen exactly how Draco lied and cheated and terrorized anyone he didn't love.

"And it worked," Harry said, cupping his palm to Draco's cheek. His thumb brushed Draco's skin as he leaned closer. "Just not the way you thought."

"Why did you forgive me for it?" Draco asked, surprising himself with the question. He looked over his shoulder again to make sure they were still alone, a small miracle with so many people around.

"Because you love me," Harry said. He gently pushed Draco back to face him. "I'm sorry looking so deep into your mind hurt you, but I think I'd forgive you for anything after seeing it."

Burning, intense love that scalded anyone who lost themselves inside it. Draco remembered the wounds left by Harry's ransacking and hoped Harry never searched so deeply inside him again, but as time made the pain slowly fade from memory, he discovered a growing sense of gratitude that he had looked so deep, and a feeling of pride for having suffered it. Perverse pride, he thought, and he (and Severus) had never spoken of it to Lucius or Narcissa. But how many people could say that their lover had looked into their soul and proved the depth and fury of their love to both of them?

"We should go back," he murmured, feeling too vulnerable for such an intimate conversation. "They'll get worried if we--"

He stopped when he saw Harry's hurt look before he could hide it. He could guess why. Harry felt uncomfortable talking about anything like this with the rest of the family around. Even at home behind their chamber door, Harry wondered if Lucius or Narcissa were spying on them. Draco knew he never should have told him that his parents weren't above eavesdropping.

"It's not safe here," Draco whispered. "This is something we should talk about where no one can hear. In bed, behind the drapes I think."

The promise of a pleasant night soothed Harry's feelings. He nodded once and put his hand gently on Draco's back, walking beside him out from under the stairs. Now that they weren't threading their way through the crowd, a few light wizards finally noticed Harry and began to move towards him, only to pull up short when they spotted Draco at his side. He'd made too many enemies at the ministry, made too many threats while working to free his father, for them to forget.


Inwardly groaning, Draco stood perfectly straight and only glanced out of the corner of his eye as a familiar mop of red hair came towards them.

"Oh, wonderful," he muttered. "First the opera, now a Weasley. My night is complete."

Harry's hand tightened a little on his shoulder. He didn't have to say anything. Draco sighed and lowered his head slightly in acknowledgment. The same way Harry didn't antagonize his father, Draco tried not to bait the weasels.

"Didn't expect to see you here," Ron said, coming to a stop in front of them. For once, his dress robes didn't look out of style or handed down. Probably a gift from his brothers, Draco thought, or his annoying fiancé.

Speaking of which, he spotted her coming towards them with two glasses of champagne. Somehow she'd tamed her hair to stay out of her face, save for a few wisps, and her eyes sparkled in excitement.

"Hey, Harry," she said as she handed Ron a glass. "I can't believe we got an invitation for this. Isn't it wonderful?"

"Oh, um," Harry said. He smiled in self-deprecation when she tilted her head and frowned. "I guess opera just isn't my thing."

"Well, you've got to give it a chance first," she laughed.

As they chatted, Draco narrowed his eyes in thought. Hermione's face and hair not only looked better, they looked a little different. Her eyes were a lighter shade of brown, her complexion was smoother, and her usually unmanageable hair stayed up in a conservative but fashionable style. His mouth quirked.

She'd cast a glamour on herself.

He fought his smirk down before they noticed. Had she really done it herself? Probably, since they didn't have the money to waste on vanity. Devious little minx--he wondered if Ron had guessed. When he and Harry were upstairs in their box, he hoped he remembered to make a note to keep track of how often she used glamours. If she used it too much or if they started having money trouble, he could go to Harry and explain how concerned he was about her and perhaps she had started experimenting with addictive spells?

Then Harry would be happy that Draco could show some sympathy for mudbloods and the annoying little chit would be stuck in St. Mungo's for awhile and the Weasel with her. Which would mean he'd have Harry to himself without having these annoying interruptions whenever his friends showed up.

"Speaking of which," Ron's voice cut into his thoughts. "How is it living with the Malfoys? "

"It's...fine." Harry's smile looked forced. "We're--um--still learning how to get along, but it's fine."

"They haven't chased you out of the house screaming yet?" Ron laughed.

Draco kept his face impassive. Lucius had done that the first week, and Harry had been laughing as he baited his father. But he told himself that Harry didn't like being manipulated and none of them had tried to control him so obviously again.

"Granger," he started, ignoring Ron. "You look quite glamorous tonight, I must say."

Her eyes narrowed, but if she caught his meaning, she didn't let on. "Thank you, Malfoy. That almost sounded sincere."

He smiled. "I've been practicing."

Even the glamour couldn't hide the rising color on her cheeks. She opened her mouth to snap at him, but Draco took Harry's arm and tugged him away, mouthing a litany of polite excuses and farewells as he took Harry upstairs.

"So sorry to chat and run," he said over his shoulder. "We really need to take our seats and mother is sure to be frantic looking for us now. So delightful to have seen you again."

"I'll catch you at intermission," Harry called back to them.

For a moment he allowed Draco to pull him away and up the stairs. The crowd around them began to move towards the theater, and a few noticed the two boys and exchanged pleasantries so that Harry had to squash his irritation until they reached the upper level. There were only a handful of people looking for their seats, and the hall seem to swallow whispers.

"Do you have to treat them like that?" Harry sighed.

"I was perfectly hospitable," Draco said quickly, expecting the question. "They're the ones who ignored me, and then Granger only got angry because I had a quick answer."


"They started it."

Harry opened his mouth to argue, thought it over, then shook his head.

"...you're right. I'll talk to them again, ask them to be civil." He stopped and turned to face him, putting his hands on Draco's shoulders to keep him from leaving in a huff. "But I don't want you arguing either. I try not to upset your family. Can't you try the same for my friends?"

Turning his head to hide his scowl, Draco almost refused. Act civil to a weasel and that know-it-all? But he hated the feeling that settled in his stomach when his family argued and if Harry felt anything similar...

"I'll try," he mumbled.

"Thank you." Ignoring the handful of people around them, Harry bent slightly and kissed him. "I know you'll never like them, but you've proven you can be courteous."

"Maybe I shouldn't be courteous then," Draco said softly. "The last person I was courteous to, I ended up marrying."

"Doesn't sound like you mind," Harry laughed.

"I suppose it could be worse." Draco's scowl faded away and he smiled. "I could've married someone poor."

"Or," a snide voice cut into Harry's response, "you could've stood around like love struck fools making a spectacle of yourselves." A few yards away, Severus leaned half out from behind the curtain partitioning off their private box, glaring at them. "Get inside before your parents see you."

"Yes, mas--Sev'," Draco sighed. It would take a long time before he got used to calling his former master by his name. Ten years of being his apprentice made "master" second nature.

As they walked towards the box, Harry leaned over and whispered in his ear.

"You mean you wouldn't love me if I was poor?"

"I would," Draco said. "Even if you were as poor as a Weasley, I would've loved you. The money just made you more interesting, like sugar on an apple tart."

"Spoiled brat," Harry said. "But you don't need money to be interesting, right? You called Hermione glamorous, and she doesn't have all that much."

"Right," Draco said, but when Harry didn't take another step, he knew he'd given the secret away. He never knew how Harry could tell when he was hiding something, but something, perhaps a catch in his voice or the way he walked, always tipped him off.

"What is it?" Harry asked, the good humor gone from his voice. "Was that whole glamourous remark an insult after all?"

Draco groaned under his breath and looked around to see if anyone was nearby. "No, not really."

"'Not really'?" Harry came closer, looming over him without meaning to. His glare felt like it would bore into him. "That doesn't sound reassuring."

"She's just angry I knew she's using a glamour," Draco hissed. "I could've said something and let Weasley know about it, but I didn't."

"Hermione's using a glamour?" Harry said. He was too used to Draco's annoyance to let it bother him. "Why?"

"She's a girl," Draco said as if that explained it. "And she knows how to cast them. She probably did it in the mirror. It's not like they have the money for it."

"I suppose..." Harry mused. His voice trailed off. "She didn't look all that different."

Knowing Severus was probably impatient already, Draco pulled Harry with him into the small box that held their seats. Nestled against the wall over the audience, the box was really meant for rich wizards looking to be seen at the opera by their peers, but it also provided privacy until they drew the curtains back.

"But she knows she can get addicted to those, right?" Harry asked.

Draco sat down in the chair nearest to the edge. If his husband really did go to sleep, at least he could shield him from view, but he didn't think Harry would be able to sleep in such stiff chairs, despite the velvet padding on the seat and back.

"Who's addicted to what?" Severus asked. He turned in his seat, closest to the exit, to see them clearly.

"Granger got an invite and she cast a glamour for the occasion," Draco answered. "Just around the eyes and hair, but then they always start small."

"How do you tell if someone's addicted?" Harry asked. "It's not like she would steal things--"

Before he could say more, Harry cut himself off. Draco didn't say anything. He'd never seen the worst of Harry's old addiction to felix felices, only heard his master allude to thievery and lies. He didn't like the thought of Harry addicted to anything. The Boy Who Lived had stood up to hardship, the ministry and Voldemort himself. Something so mundane as too much of a little potion shouldn't even bother him.

Without being aware of it, he reached over and put his hand on Harry's arm.

"Addiction to glamours," Severus began, carefully choosing his words. "is more subtle than anything else. If she can cast them herself, she probably won't exhaust their funds, but she will exhaust herself. And she'll grow sloppy. "

"Sloppy?" Harry asked.

"Her face will begin to distort as she focuses on what she thinks is wrong with herself," Snape clarified. "It's difficult to describe, but you will notice that she no longer looks like herself. She'll look like an actor playing her part."

"And the cure?" Draco asked, when it became clear Harry was too lost in thought to ask.

"Long stays at St. Mungo's now," Severus said. "Although we preferred to keep our addicts within the family. Glamours are dark magic, after all. Going for outside help would've meant too many questions from the ministry."

If Ron found out that his fiancé was still dabbling in dark magic--Draco bit off his laugh. Watching the indignant Weasleys abandon her might amuse him, but it would send Harry into a tailspin of guilt. Especially now that he knew about it.

"It's just one little glamour for the opera," Draco said suddenly. "Don't worry so much. You know she'd never let herself go too far. She probably didn't cast it until she knew all the risks."

"Mm." Harry didn't look any happier. Draco wondered if he knew something about Granger that worried him and realized of course he must. He'd known her years longer than he'd known Draco.

Before he could try to reassure him again, the curtain was drawn back and his father entered with his mother close at his side. Once he saw the rest of his family, Lucius visibly relaxed and took his seat at the front of the box. Narcissa patted her hair to make sure it was in place, then nodded once at her husband. By the time Lucius had drawn the front curtain to reveal themselves to the opera house, her mask of cool indifference was in place.

To Draco's relief, the opera house itself took Harry's attention off of Hermione. He stared with wide eyes at the proscenium arch decorated with swirls and shell designs, the stage so close that they could feel the heat of the lights, and the broad chandelier in the center of the ceiling. Hundreds of crystals sparkled on a gold frame, catching the glow of the floating candles nearby and lighting the audience below.

The murmur of the crowd softened as the orchestra tuned their instruments, and the last stragglers edged their way to their seats and settled in. Draco glanced over the audience, but there were far too many to do more than pick out a face or two. He grimaced slightly when he saw how many people were staring at him.

The Malfoy family always drew attention, especially now that they were revealed to be dark wizards, but he felt like a fish in an aquarium.

At last the candles snuffed out and the curtain rose, revealing the sparse set design of stone stairs leading up and off stage, along with an arch covered with moss, a well with a bucket, and a painted backdrop of overcast clouds that magically drifted by. Polite applause faded into the violins and cellos as a young woman came into view, going through the motions of sweeping the courtyard as she sang.

Even though Draco knew a little Italian, he had to look up above the stage where the English translation of the lyrics appeared in smoky letters. The words he might have recognized when spoken normally were now stretched out and stressed oddly. He wondered how his mother understood it, but he could see her mouthing the words along with the singer.

Her song explained how her mother sold her to a wealthy family hoping she would be educated in return for her work, but after her mother's death the agreement was forgotten and she had no other means except serving the family. She couldn't even buy a wand. As the husband and wife appeared on stage to berate her for doing a poor job, Draco leaned against Harry and watched with half-closed eyes. Harry put his arm around him and shifted slightly for a better embrace, yawning and resting his head on Draco's.

Though he was sure his mother loved every part, Draco thought the love duet between the poor servant and the rich couple's son was tedious. Since his eyes were accustomed to the darkness now, he gazed around the auditorium and spotted a handful of ministry officials near the front. He finally noticed the row of red heads and figured from the way they were lowered that half of them had fallen asleep.

The luxury of sitting amongst the rabble, he thought.

Finally the villain of the opera appeared, dressed obviously as a dark wizard in a long cloak with a heavy hood. He offered the girl a gift, revealing a brass lantern with a brass candle that never melted. When he lit the candle inside, the lantern burned bright green and swirled like a tempest, and the girl took it after allowing him to cut several locks of her hair.

Little idiot, Draco thought. But the lantern intrigued him, and he hoped he could look inside the grimoire later to see if cursed lanterns really existed.

Glass-like chimes, out of place and not part of the music, at first lingered on the edge of his notice. After a few seconds, though, the chimes grew louder and more insistent until Draco looked up in annoyance. He didn't see anything wrong, but when the sound finally became strong enough to hear its location, he realized what it was before he even looked up at the ceiling.

Shaking violently now, the chandelier struck the closest candles and sent them tumbling to the floor. Each crystal piece trembled and vibrated until Draco thought it would fall any second. On stage, the singers fell silent and the house lights came up while the wizards beneath it apparated out of harm's way. Everyone murmured and pointed as the aurors in the audience began to come forward.

Lucius rose slowly as if afraid that moving too fast might make it fall, speaking in a whisper. "Severus..."

"I know," Snape answered, also standing. "It would've fallen by now."

"The three of you," Lucius said, barely turning his head, "apparate home--"

His voice was drowned as the chandelier exploded, thousands of shattered slivers hurling in all directions like knives.