Chapter 36 – The Noble and Most Ancient House of Malfoy
'Where's the kid?'
'Upstairs. He needs to rest.'
'He's doing a crackin' job, that lad. Stuff o' sagas. I've always said so.'
'He shouldn't have to!' snapped Lupin, 'Merlin's beard, he's only seventeen! He should be studying for his NEWTS.'
'"Should" has got nothing to with it,' said Granny Weatherwax, 'He's got a job to do. Talkin' about "shoulds" and "coulds" won't help anybody.' Lupin wondered if the old woman had an ounce of human feeling in her.
'So what's our next move?' said Vimes, taking a drag on his cigar.
'Would ye nae puff on that accursed thing in here?' said Rob Anybody, who was standing on the table, 'I can hardly breathe wi' all ye bigjobs in here as 'tis!'
'Go and sit in the window box,' said Vimes, blowing a cloud of smoke at the Feegle.
'Ye hungry, ye scunner? 'Cause I've got a mind tae stick ma foot doon your throat!'
'Calm down man!' boomed Ridcully.
'Who ye tellin' to calm doon? Get in line, big hagman! I'll do ye when I've finished wi' this sour faced scunner…'
'Would you all just shut up!' shouted Lupin, punctuating his exclamation with a distinctly wolf-like growl. Everybody in the kitchen stared at him.
'Maybe this can wait until tomorrow,' suggested Tonks, laying a hand on his arm.
'No,' Lupin sighed with a shake of his head, 'We can't stay here. We have to move before evening. We're endangering Bill and Fleur by having so many of us here.' Why had he become the head of the Order? He had never been a leader: even at school he had been happy to follow James and Sirius. But with Dumbledore's death and the disappearances last summer he was the most senior member left. The Order of the Phoenix, the last organised resistance to the Voldemort and all he stood for, was his responsibility now. The pressure was like two giant hands squeezing at his temples all day and night. If he could just get through this meeting and get away from everybody, get away from Shell Cottage, perhaps he would feel better. Maybe he and Nymphadora could spend a day or two alone together.
'Mistress Weatherwax,' he said, rubbing his eyes, 'What did you learn from Malfoy?'
'There was a lot to sift through, and little of it good,' said Granny. Vimes snorted.
'Really? The bastard who just murdered a sixteen year old girl in cold blood is a "bad man"? You needed magic to tell you that?'
'That shows all you know, Samuel Vimes,' said Granny frostily, 'You're a policeman. Everybody's either guilty or innocent to you –'
'Everybody's guilty of something. If I ever met somebody who really was innocent I'd arrest them for being too saintly by half.'
'- but you don't see beneath the surface,' Granny continued, ignoring Vimes, 'He's a nasty piece of work alright but he's mainly scared. Scared like you wouldn't believe: for his wife and boy, for his honour and his big house. He can't see straight most of the time, he's so scared. Just does what Voldemort tells him and goes to bed thankful that he hasn't been killed yet.'
'Yes, very interesting,' said Lupin, 'Did you find out anything useful? Anything about the horcruxes or Minerva and the others?'
The hard line of Granny's mouth tightened. 'It weren't easy,' she sniffed, 'He's takin' the loss of his hand very hard. Took a long time to get past that. But he doesn't know anythin' about the horcruxes or why he was sent after the cup. He thought it was just another weapon for the war.'
'But wasn't he one of You-Know-Who's inner circle?' asked Tonks.
'Probably hasn't told anybodyabout the horcruxes,' said Cohen, 'Wants his followers to think he really is invincible. It's what you'd expect from your average evil cult.'
'Otherwise one of his lads might try an' bump him off; set himself up as the next leader,' concluded Ridcully, 'Used to happy back at UU all the time.'
'What about the missing members?' said Lupin. 'Any joy there?'
'A little,' said Granny, 'The Ministry has them. Your Aurors picked 'em up over the summer.'
Tonks looked worried. 'I've heard nothing about this,' she said, her hair fading to a washed out grey colour, 'My friends in the department are still passing me information when they can. Kingsley of all people would have known: he was tipped to be the next head of department for Merlin's sake!'
'Doesn't sound like your coppers are all pulling in the same direction,' said Vimes.
'Could be a fifth column for the Death Eaters,' suggested Lupin, 'We know Dawlish was certainly working for You-Know-Who when Hogwarts fell. There could easily be more.'
'Damned double-dealin' nae-good scunner bastards!' cried Rob Anybody, brandishing his tiny sword and leaping around the table.
'Any idea where the Aurors took them?' Tonks asked Granny. The old witch frowned:
'I'm not sure. I couldn't get a name out of him. Wherever it is though, it's a right mess.'
'A shambles. That was the word he used: a shambles.'
'You don't suppose he meant The Shambles?' said Lupin.
'What are they?' said Ridcully.
'It's a place,' said Lupin, 'In York. It's like a northern version of Diagon Alley.'
'I've never heard of the Aurors having a strong house there,' said Tonks.
'Sounds like there's a lot you haven't heard about your force,' said Vimes grimly.
'Do you know if Minerva and the others are alive?' Lupin asked Granny.
'Maybe. They wanted to question 'em, I know that. The Dark Lord wanted to know who was workin' for the Order now, our hiding places, that sort of thing. But that was months ago.'
'We should still try to get them out,' said Tonks firmly. Lupin nodded.
'I agree,' he said, 'The Shambles should be our next target, if only to find out how far the Death Eaters have infiltrated the Aurors.'
'We takin' the lad with us?' said Cohen, 'He's becomin' a dab hand with that magic sword of his.'
Lupin shook his head. 'Harry would come if we asked. I have no doubt of that. But this is Order business. Someone has to keep searching for the horcruxes. Nothing we do will be of any use if they aren't all found and destroyed.'
'So you're just going to leave 'em to it?' said Ridcully, scowling, 'A bunch of beardless students troggin' about the country on their own? Don't seem right to me.'
'Harry's best chance is in stealth and secrecy,' retorted Lupin, 'Even if we all came together we could not hope to defend him against the full power of You-Know-Who and his armies.'
'Well the Nac Mac Feegle are goin' wi' him,' said Rob Anybody stoutly, 'An' we'll fillet any big job, big or small, who stands in oor way! Tha' Vol-dee-more scunner sounds like a heap o' bad news. The wee hagman's gonna need someone tae watch o'er him.'
'Fine,' said Lupin, 'You can go with him. Everybody else: we're leaving Shell Cottage tonight. Rendezvous is at the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade in three days time. We'll start planning our operation in York from there.'
'What are you going to do about Malfoy?' asked Ridcully.
'Cut his throat?' suggested Cohen cheerfully.
'Bill and Fleur have agreed to keep him here, as we clearly can't hand him over to the Aurors,' said Lupin, carefully ignoring the suggestion, 'He's no danger to them, as long as they keep him locked in his room. He has no wand or wand hand. And he's probably a good deal safer here than he would be if he had gone back to You-Know-Who without the cup.'
Draco had realised that something was wrong when his father had not returned with the dawn. His father had expected to complete his mission for the Dark Lord in one night. But no message had arrived at Malfoy Manor: no owl, not even a Patronus. As the grey fingers of early morning stretched across the front lawn his mother had become increasingly anxious. The other Death Eaters stationed at the manor gradually disappeared. There was nothing unusual in this, people came and went all the time, but Draco felt a mounting unease as the house emptied. The whole place felt tense, as if a terrible storm were gathering overhead.
It broke suddenly and violently. Draco heard the blast from his bedroom as they broke through the front door. His mother screamed to him, telling him to flee. He leapt from the window and ran for the edge of the grounds. But they were waiting for him. Greyback and two masked Death Eaters ran him down before he was halfway to the wall. Draco had tried to fight. He supposed it must have been a pathetic display: a lone boy facing down a werewolf and two grown wizards. They had disarmed and bound him in a matter of seconds.
They had muffled his head with a bag, probably hoping to disorientate him, but Draco knew where he was before they withdrew it. There was only one place they would take him. As his eyes adjusted to the green-tinted light he could see the masked Death Eaters standing around the edge of the Star Chamber. Before him, enthroned on the chair decorated with skeletal snakes, was Lord Voldemort.
'My followers,' said Voldemort, 'you are gathered here as witnesses to the judgement of the noble and most ancient house of Malfoy.' Draco looked up into the skull-like face. He saw no pity there.
'Lucius Malfoy has failed me,' Voldemort continued, 'Just as he failed me two years ago. He has lost an artefact of great power and allowed himself to be captured by our enemies.'
Draco heard his mother sobbing somewhere in the shadows. He called out to her.
'Silence,' hissed Voldemort, 'Crucio!' Draco fell to his knees, pain stabbing into every inch of his body like hot knives. Voldemort sat motionless. Only the wand in his hand moved, tracing tiny circles in the air. The wand stilled and the pain ceased, leaving Draco gasping and retching on the floor.
'Draco Malfoy, you have been brought before this court to answer for your father's failure,' said Voldemort, slowly and dispassionately, 'I shall make an example of you, so that all the world will know that my mercy has its limits.'
'My lord, please no!' Narcissa Malfoy rushed forward into the pentangle. Her face was wet with tears. 'Have mercy, my lord. He is only a child! Please, have mercy on my –'
Voldemort's wand flickered.
Narcissa crumpled to the floor beside Draco. Not one person in the Chamber stirred. Voldemort continued as if nothing had happened:
'The line of Malfoy will be eradicated. Its name will be stricken from the ancient records. The Manor will be burned and a curse placed upon the land so that nothing will grow there, not a single blade of grass. It shall stand as a warning and a monument to the nameless house that failed Lord Voldemort.'
Draco wondered why he was not crying. He had cried many times before, in his bedroom or in the secret corners of Hogwarts as he worked on the Vanishing Cabinet. But now that he came to it, to the moment that had tormented his sleep, he just felt numb. It was not resignation. There was no emotion in it. He felt neither happy nor sad. He simply acknowledged the plain fact that he was about to die. The Dark Lord had killed his mother and he was going to kill him too.
Voldemort held up Draco's wand, which had been resting hidden on his lap.
'Draco, you are unworthy to bear this wand, as you are unworthy to bear the name of wizard.' Green light flashed from Voldemort's wand and struck Draco's, shattering it to splinters. Many of the Death Eaters shuffled uncomfortably. To break a wizard's wand was the highest dishonour.
Draco did not care. What did it matter now; wands or honour or blood purity? He saw them for the lies they were, just as he saw Voldemort for what he was. He had known for a long time, though he had tried to deny it; to hide the truth from himself. To even think such thoughts around so many powerful Legilimens would have brought death and dishonour to his family. But what was the point in pretending now? He had ignored all the violence, all the cruelty and the torture. At first he had been blinded by dreams of power and glory, but they had faded when Hogwarts burned. There was nothing glorious about Voldemort or his Death Eaters. They were nothing but brutes and murderers. In the end, all he had wanted to do was survive. And now he could not even do that.
Draco rose slowly to his feet. With a great effort, he raised his head and looked into Voldemort's eyes.
'I hope Potter kicks your arse.'
For a moment everything was still as Voldemort looked down on the bodies of Draco and Narcissa. Then he stood up.
'Lucius is to be brought to me alive. I want him to know what happened here. I want him to know the price of his failure.'
'Hail the Dark Lord!' shrieked Bellatrix LeStrange, falling to her knees.
'Hail the Dark Lord!' echoed the other Death Eaters, kneeling.
A smile, perhaps of amusement, tugged at Voldemort's lipless mouth.
'My faithful servants,' he said, 'for too long have we skulked in the darkness. Too long have we hidden from the blood traitors and the mudbloods. But no more! Our hour has come. Now is the time for our rising, when we sweep aside all who would stand in our way.'
'Hail the Dark Lord!' cried the Death Eaters.
'Now is the hour of choosing – who will stand with us and who will fall? Send word to all our allies – the giants, the tritons and the ogres. The Children of Sawney Bean will fight for us: they will feast on Muggle flesh once again. Summon the nightmares and the harpies. Unleash the Dementors. Drive the dragons out of the hills to burn the Muggle cities. Empty the graveyards; call forth legions of inferi.
'And you; you my most devoted servants. I will lead you personally. We will find Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and we will destroy them. For the eternal glory and dominion of wizardkind!'
'Hail the Dark Lord! Hail the Dark Lord! Hail Lord Voldemort!'