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Chapter #4: Spies and Subterfuge
It was the next day and Harry, Ron, and Hermione held the Extendable Ears up to their own ears and listened closely. Still nothing. Ron cursed and threw the Extendable Ear piece they'd been sharing to the ground.
"Ron!" Hermione scolded, "Language!"
"Sorry, Hermione," Ron said, looking frustrated, "It's just— Why isn't it working?"
Harry nodded in agreement to the question, looking equally frustrated. They had been trying for a while now, but they still couldn't hear anything from the kitchen, where the latest Order meeting was being held.
Hermione frowned and looked down in the direction of the kitchen. They were hiding at the top of the stairwell and they could just see into the door of the meeting room. "I think they must have put up a silencing spell," she said. "It would make sense. Especially since there's a vampire and possible spy in the house now. You know vampires have much better senses than humans. He could probably hear what they're discussing in the kitchen from all the way across the house and he's sitting in the living room."
That just made Harry angry. "So because of – of them," he said irritably, throwing a hand in the air, "We're completely out of the loop now. How are we supposed to know what's going on if we can't even hear it?"
Hermione looked like she was trying to think. "We could always grill the twins."
"Wouldn't work," Ron said, running a hand wildly through his red hair as he scowled. "We tried that before, remember?"
Hermione nodded, obviously remembering, and Harry got up to kick the staircase railing angrily.
"This is just great," he muttered.
The trio was quiet for a while, each quietly thinking their own thoughts, when finally Hermione spoke up again. "This is good though, in a way."
Harry glared at her. "How is this good?"
Hermione just looked back at him calmly. "Well now we can focus on figuring out if our guests are evil or not."
Ron looked confused. "But we're already doing that during the daytime."
"Which is when the vampire is asleep," Hermione reminded him. "I think it would be good if we saw how they acted when they're together. It'll give us a better picture of the relationship dynamics and they might slip up and come out of character when they're talking to each other alone."
Harry frowned, but looked like he was thinking about this. "But you said vampires have better senses than humans. How would we even get close enough to hear anything?"
Hermione beamed proudly at him for the good thinking. "We can use a silencing spell to hide any sound our movement might make and I think I can come up with another spell to hide our scents."
Ron scrunched up his nose in disgust. "Scents?"
Hermione nodded. "Vampires have a very good sense of smell."
Harry nodded in agreement to this and the three looked at each other and then smiled. They were going to do this.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione scrunched up together closer under the invisibility cloak—something that was getting harder to do now that they were older and much bigger—and cautiously moved into the living room where Spike and Xander were seated. They couldn't just use the Extendable Ears as then they would've had to lower the earpiece down from the staircase and that wouldn't leave it in a good spot for them to hear anything. Xander appeared to be showing Spike how to play with the exploding cards and the two were absorbed in a seemingly very competitive game of Exploding Snap.
"Hah!" Xander crowed as Spike put down a card and the pile exploded. "I got you! I win!"
"Oi!" Spike complained. "That's not even fair! You cheated!"
"Oh yeah, like you were doing anything different," Xander replied as he collected the cards and started to shuffle.
"Well, vampire, me," Spike said, "I'm expected to cheat. Yer th' bloody white hat. Y' jus' can't do that."
Xander smirked and started to pass the cards out for another game. "Well I just did. Have to do something to even the odds if you're going to cheat the whole time."
Spike grumbled and the two went back to their game, crowing and gloating whenever they got a point and blaming the other person of cheating whenever the other person did. It was starting to get boring watching them and it was uncomfortable being scrunched up so close together under the invisibility cloak. Harry was just trying to look behind him at Hermione and Ron to see if they wanted to leave when Spike and Xander finally started to talk of something interesting.
"It's not fair," Spike complained yet again, "You've 'ad days with th' kiddies t' practice while I was sleepin'."
Xander snorted. "Yeah and about that. I think it might be a little bit harder than I thought getting them to help us. They are really suspicious. I've never been grilled so thoroughly before."
Spike frowned down at his cards, seeming to be only paying half attention to Xander's words. "Yeah? They ask about th' chip yet?"
"Practically the first question out of their mouths," Xander said, busy placing a card down. He glanced up at Spike and smirked a bit. "Don't worry. I told them you were as dangerous as a cute little stuffed animal with that thing in your head."
Spike finally looked up from his cards to glare at Xander. "Just y' wait Harris. I get this thing out o' my head an' yer th' first on my list."
"Really? I feel so honored," Xander replied, looking amused, "I thought for sure Buffy would be the first on your list."
Spike frowned at that and looked down at the cards in his hand. "Well, alright. Yer after th' Slayer. But yer still pretty high up there. I hate y' almost as much as I hate her."
Xander smiled as if Spike had said something especially adorable. "Aww. I hate you too, blood-breath."
Spike spared him an especially dirty look at that, but then turned right back to the game, carefully placing a card down on the pile.
Seeing this move, Xander frowned and carefully placed his own card. Slowly taking his hand away, he waited to see if the pile would explode and smiled again when it didn't. The two were quiet for a moment as they continued to play, but then Spike spoke up again.
"Wot'd th' crazy old coot say when y' asked 'im 'bout us getting 'ome?" he asked.
"He said we have to wait a few days until we can get to Hogwarts, wherever the hell that is. Apparently that's where they're keeping all their books." Xander frowned at his cards. "I think he was amused by my question actually. Like us wanting to get home was some strange new thing. Though maybe that's just 'cuz they still think we're spies for that Boldemore guy."
"Voldemort," Spike corrected casually and placed another card.
"Yeah and I still think that's a stupid name," Xander said, not missing a beat. "I mean what kind of name is Voldemort? Did his parents hate him or something?"
"Idiot," Spike said scornfully, but not glancing up. "Th' bloke made th' name up, obviously."
"Then what was the dude smoking when he was brainstorming ideas for evil overlord nicknames? What's wrong with the good, old, classic Dark Lord Seth or whatever."
"Dark Lord Seth?" Spike repeated as he finally glanced up, sounding somewhat incredulous and even more scornful. "Wot kind o' name is Dark Lord Seth fer a mass-murdering would-be dictator?"
"What kind of name is Spike for a mass-murdering would-be vampire?" Xander replied, sounding almost kind of insulted that Spike was making fun of his made-up Dark Lord name.
"'ey," Spike said, looking up from his cards again warningly. "I earned my name."
"You sound like a dog," Xander said.
"You remember how I got my name, don't you?" Spike just said threateningly.
"Woof, woof," Xander replied.
Harry looked back at Hermione and Ron to see if they thought they had heard enough and the three turned and quietly left the room, each of them thinking about what they had just heard.
"Well they don't sound particularly evil," Hermione said.
"Didn't you hear what Xander called Spike?" Harry asked, looking at her strangely. "A "mass-murdering would-be vampire?" Spike's a mass-murderer."
"And he said he earned his name," Ron reminded them.
"Yeah," Harry nodded, looking a bit disturbed by the thought. "I don't even want to know how he did that."
"I just meant, they don't sound like they're working for Voldemort," Hermione said, trying to explain her statement. "And it's not like they've ever hid the fact that Spike used to kill people. Xander told us about how evil he used to be, remember? But now he has that chip in his head and can't do anything."
"It did sound like that chip is real," Harry allowed. "I mean, Spike was threatening for when it came out when he could've just threatened for right then."
"But that chip is a bit of muggle teknolagi, right?" Ron asked.
"Technology," Hermione corrected.
"Yeah, that," Ron said quickly before continuing on with his point. "And we all know muggle whats-its don't work in magical places. What'll keep Spike from killing everyone when he realizes that his chip thing doesn't work?"
There was a long moment of apprehensive silence in which each of them tried to envision the bloody massacre that would occur when that happened.
"So we should definitely keep an eye on them then," Harry finally said.
"But Xander," Hermione said, bringing up the next point, "He doesn't sound very evil. I doubt he'll be going on any killing sprees at least."
"You think he might be trustworthy?" Harry asked, looking at her doubtfully.
Hermione just looked back at him seriously. "It's not like he can do anything to hurt us. He's a muggle. We know that for sure. Nobody could fake his surprise at all the wizarding things we have around the house as good as he does."
"Right," Ron said, nodding.
"He could still be a spy," Harry pointed out.
"Harry," Hermine just said, looking him straight on. "Do you honestly think Voldemort would ever want a muggle to spy for him? Even if he thought we would never expect it?"
At that, Harry frowned but eventually had to shake his head.
"Good." Hermione nodded to herself. "So it's agreed?" she asked, looking at both of her friends. "They're from another world and we trust Xander, but we don't trust Spike."
"We should still keep an eye on them both just in case," Harry said, obviously still having some trouble with his trust issues. "They did say they wanted to use us."
Ron nodded immediately in agreement. "Course, mate."
Hermione sighed, but agreed as well. "Alright. But only if this isn't just another excuse to get out of doing your homework."
Harry smiled slightly at this concern. "Thanks."
Draco looked down on the entranceway to the Malfoy Manor and watched as the house elves flit about getting ready for the huge party his parents were throwing that night. He frowned at the thought and swept from the room, heading back to his wing of the huge mansion.
He wasn't sure what to think of this party. It was supposed to be a simple gathering of like-minded, pureblooded, socialites getting together to have a good time like many of the other parties just like it put on every year, but Draco had a feeling this one was different. The house elves were nervous and his parents had been fighting again.
Obviously this party was going to have something to do with the Death Eaters as the only other reason his mother would speak up against his father was if she thought some random wing of the house should be painted one color instead of the other. Not that Father really cared about what color the house was painted, but occasionally he would step in during renovations and choose a color Mother didn't like purely for the color's pureblooded, high-society connotations. As such, he chose dark green a lot and Mother simply hated dark green.
But that was beside the point. This party was going to be for the Death Eaters and Draco was going to be expected to attend. He'd probably already met most of them as friends of his father's, but he'd heard that individuals from the other parts of Europe were going to attend also. So that was something new.
Did this mean something big was happening in the Death Eater circle? Or was this party simply put on for the entertainment purposes it said it was?
Draco knew he was going to be introduced to many men of power, men who could help him when he graduated from Hogwarts, but he also knew that these men of power would be the corrupt and evil ones. That they would be the ones his father wanted him to know and the only ones who would ever give him a chance.
If he wanted a chance at a good position in society after his graduation he would have to shmooze with the best of them tonight. Put on his best 'I hate all muggles' face and lie and deceive and basically do what he had been trained to do since his birth.
But this wasn't what Draco was having difficulty with. He was used to lying and deceiving. He did it every day. He was a champion at it, at least in most circumstances. No, what he was having difficulty with was his growing dislike of Death Eaters in general. It sat heavily with him and he didn't like it.
It wasn't the Death Eaters' purpose he minded so much as the fact that, ever since Voldemort had returned, his father had become someone else. He wasn't Draco's father anymore. This wasn't the man Draco had looked up to with pride and even love. Because Malfoys did love. They just weren't allowed to show it in public.
Now, where his father would usually look down on him as a son and heir, Father looked down on him as though Draco were just some piece on the chessboard and an inadequate one at that. His studies were never good enough, his dueling was never good enough, his achievements were never good enough, the Cruciatus curse was used more than ever before, Father was never home, and the list went on. And Draco wasn't stupid. He knew what Death Eaters did to muggles and muggle-borns and muggle-sympathizers. He didn't like them much either, but did they really have to murder and torture them? That was so . . . dirty and crass and unlike anything a pureblood was supposed to be.
Draco hated Voldemort for turning his father into something he wasn't, for taking away the father he had loved and turned him into this evil bastard.
But Draco also knew the hard truth. It was join the Death Eaters or die. Even if you lived past disobeying Voldemort, where would you go? The moment the Sorting hat put you in Slytherin your fate was sealed because what good employer would employee a Slytherin and supposed Death Eater unless he too was a Slytherin and Death Eater? If a Slytherin wanted a job, even a low-paying job, they had to turn to Voldemort. And Draco hated the bastard for turning the world into a place where Slytherins didn't have choices.
Slytherins should be ruling the world, allowed to do whatever they pleased, but instead they were looked upon with fear and hate and disgust simply for their house and family. It was so hypocritical it was disgusting.
But Draco knew what he would do. He would lie and cheat and deceive and continue to live his life the best he could in a world where everything was wrong. And then he would graduate and become a Death Eater and take his place at a father he couldn't help but despise's side.
The party would go on, his growing dislike would be carefully hidden, and Draco would die little bit by little bit inside every time he was introduced to someone and they likened him to his father. And then the party would be over and life would go on.
Life would be tricky and full of lies and hypocrisy, but it would go on.
Draco sighed and sat down at his desk to write a letter to Pansy. He wondered what Harry Potter, The Boy Wonder, was doing. Probably living the high life and enjoying every second of it, the bastard.