Heavy Lies the Crown

Chapter 1 - - Door Number Three

- - -

Draco stood perfectly still outside the door that led from Azkaban prison to the Ministry of Magic. He was the image of eternal patience, in pristine and exquisite hand-tailored robes, his long, thin hands clasped behind him. On the middle finger of his right hand he wore the Malfoy signet ring. It was ten generations old and a symbol of the prestige carried by the family name. He wore his hair at the same length he had in his later years of school, with a long fringe in front but well kept. His eyes were bright, and upon very close inspection, betrayed a hint of the delight and relief he felt at finally standing in that spot, on that day.

Though the prison was located on an island in the North Sea, it was linked with the Ministry of Magic by a special Apparition point. This was necessary for the secure transportation of prisoners to and from various trials and hearings. Only two people were allowed to Apparate at a time, the prisoner and a guard, and the transportation was enacted not by the travelers, but by an operative on the Ministry side who simply pressed a button. The destination point in the Ministry could only be reached from Azkaban, and vise-versa.

The prisoner was shackled prior to Apparition, and a band was placed on the left ankle of both he and the guard. The band served to activate the magic in the Apparition device; without it, nothing happened when the operative performed his duty.

Draco's eyes darted to a clock on the wall above the door. He had less than two minutes. Something inside his sternum loosened, and he took a deep breath, the semblance of a smile beginning to form at the corners of his lips. The sensation was so foreign that he took note of it, and a light feeling settled in his heart that he barely recognized as something akin to happiness.

The seconds ticked by, and with each one, he felt his spirits lift. His expression remained impassive and his position statue-like, yet Draco felt like laughing at the irony: he had never in his life been so happy at the thought of seeing his father.

Standing beside Draco was his mother, dressed in a set of robin's egg blue robes that brought out the color of her eyes and highlighted the pink in her cheeks. She, too, stood perfectly still, staring at the door. In one hand she held a folded Chinese fan; in the other, a small black bag which contained another token, one that she treasured above all others for everything it stood for.

Her heart was pounding and her blood racing, but she, too, maintained an impassive facade. Her son's apparent ease seeped through her and kept her heart from bursting and her from inching toward the door with every second that passed. She marveled at how calm he seemed, how remote. From looking at him, had she not known, she would never have guessed that the last time Draco spoke to his father had been heated and ugly, poisonous words spoken that sliced deep. He almost seemed … eager?

One man stood between Narcissa and Draco and the door. A Ministry guard, in the customary grey and blue uniform, stood as sentry at the door, ever ready to foil an escape and to make sure that the right prisoner would emerge through the door.

Behind the pair of Malfoys stood Harry Potter and the Minister of Magic himself, Arthur Weasley. Arthur was also still, but Harry kept fidgeting. He'd made a promise to Lucius Malfoy and he intended to keep it, but he was nervous about greeting the man in the presence of his family.

The room itself was bare, with grey walls and a black tile floor. A table sat in one corner, upon which sat a small box that contained what Draco presumed were his father's belongings, everything he had on his person at the time of his arrest. Beside the box was a small stack of papers and a quill. A door behind everyone led into the Ministry's lowest level through a series of hallways not seen by the general public. The hallway had doors lining both walls, and on the other side of each door was a staircase that led up into a different courtroom.

Draco exhaled when the minute hand met the hour hand on the twelve and his eyes fell once again to the door. A few seconds passed, and then the knob twisted—Draco blinked, the only outward sign of his anticipation—and finally the door swung open.

Through it walked another guard, one hand holding his wand and the other firmly clasped around the arm of Lucius Malfoy. Draco sucked in his breath upon seeing his father. Prison had not been kind to him. He looked thin, almost gaunt, the way prisoners looked during the years the Dementors reigned over the prison. His hands were magically bound behind his back, and he wore the grey prison garb of Azkaban. His hair, once long and sleek, was cut to his chin and looked unwashed and brittle.

At the sound of Draco's sharp intake of air, Lucius looked up and their eyes locked. Draco was assaulted with emotions and memories, good and bad, of his childhood under the watchful eye of his father.

Lucius nodded slightly and then turned to look at his wife. His eyes were intense as he stared at her, and Draco thought they might have been having a silent conversation, so fixedly they watched one another.

Draco knew his mother wanted nothing more than to rush across the room and throw herself into Lucius' arms, but her pride and upbringing held her back. She would keep her dignity in public, even though the only witnesses would be Potter, the Minister and two guards.

Once the portal door closed, Arthur Weasley stepped around Draco and went to Lucius.

"Mr. Malfoy," he said, his voice strong and confident. "Welcome. I trust you were treated well."

Lucius took his time replying, as though trying out the words for the first time. "Well enough," he replied, finally removing his gaze from his wife's face and settling it on the Minister.

"As Molly would say, you look a bit peckish, but I've no doubt that will soon be rectified." Arthur nodded to the guard still flanking Lucius, and the man removed the bonds on Lucius's hands.

Though the shackles were magical, Lucius still rubbed his wrists as though in pain.

Arthur then put a hand on Lucius's arm and led him to the small table and the stack of papers. "We've got just a few things for you to sign, and of course some items to return to you. These are all standard forms," continued Arthur, separating the pile into three. "We've returned the articles on your person at the time of your arrest, and this stack of documents details the terms of your parole. I believe the Undersecretary went over those with you, did she not?"

"She did," Lucius responded quietly.

"Excellent. Here's the quill. Please sign here … and there … initial here … there … and finally sign here."

While his father completed the necessary paperwork for his release from prison, Draco became aware of Potter fidgeting behind him. He had been annoyed in the extreme when he learned that the war hero would be attending his father's release, but Narcissa had informed him that there was a perfectly good explanation for it. She simply refused to explain, nearly ruining Draco's good mood.

Now Potter's slight movements were grating on his nerves. He wanted to collect his father and leave with as little disturbance as possible, something that was already unlikely considering the nature of the man being released. It would be considerably harder to duck out of the Ministry with Harry-bloody-Potter tailing along. However, if he had no intention of speaking to them outside of the room, Draco decided he could put up with the other man's presence for a short while.

He could not, however, tolerate Potter's incessant shuffling. Lucius and Arthur were bent over the table, the ever-alert guards keeping their eyes trained on Lucius and their hands near their wands. Narcissa was watching her husband intently, her only movements the steady clenching of her hand around the black bag.

Draco turned his head slightly to the right, raised his hand to his mouth and fisted it, then coughed. Just as he finished, his eyes moved to Potter's for the briefest of moments. Harry stopped moving and Draco returned to his stoic position.

Narcissa looked at him questioningly and Draco knew she was worried. Had he coughed before and she missed it? Was he catching something? Should she get him a cup of tea? Should he lie down?

He shook his head slightly and gave her a tiny smile, hoping it would stop the questions in her mind. She worried about him too much, still fretted over him as a mother was wont to do and would make him wear his heavy cloak if she thought it was cold outside. It was one of the reasons he longed for a place of his own, but he had felt a duty to remain with his mother in his father's absence. Now that Lucius was free, perhaps he could think about moving out of the Manor. After all, his duties there would soon be returned to his father.

"There, that should be everything," said Arthur, straightening. He handed Lucius the box on the table. "Is it all there?"

Lucius glanced into the box, and without inspecting anything closely, nodded.

Draco's heart panged at the sight of his father, once tall, strong and handsome, reduced to feeble nods and unsure hands.

"Good, good." Arthur looked from Narcissa to Draco and back to Lucius. "All is in order, then. The Ministry thanks you for serving your time without complaint and bids you a good day and a happy life."

Something flashed in Lucius's eyes, but Draco couldn't place the emotions he saw; they might have been anger, pride, humiliation, or any combination. When he spoke, his words were precise and short. "My wand?"

Arthur reddened slightly and scrambled in an inner pocket. "Ah, yes, of course! Can't forget that, can we? Here you are, good as the day you last saw it."

When Lucius's fingers, at first hesitant, wrapped around the hilt of the wand, Draco saw an immeasurable change come over him. It may only have been visible in the way his eyes took on a steely glint, or in his general countenance, but it was a radical change nonetheless. He had a wand; he was a wizard again.

Draco understood completely. While he had awaited trial after the war, though the period was brief, he'd been required to hand over his wand. He'd felt defenseless, inept, and impotent. Suddenly he was no better than a Muggle, left to rely on his fists and his wits. In a prison where Dementors didn't haunt the halls, stealing any good thoughts or memories, the arrangements were much like any Muggle prison, except with magical means of restraint, control, and captivity.

He saw very quickly that prison would be nothing like school, where he was protected by two large friends, a favorite teacher, and a name that heralded his right to magic. He knew he wouldn't have lasted long in prison and was more grateful to Harry Potter than he could possibly express upon his release, though he would rather swallow flaming swords than admit it.

"How has your time in office been?" asked Lucius.

"Oh, it's been … busy," Arthur replied, obviously surprised by the question.

"I see. Do let me know if there is any way I might be of service."

"I … will do that, Lucius, thank you," said Arthur.

Lucius nodded and turned to his family, then noticed Harry for the first time. He raised an eyebrow. "Potter. You kept your word."

Harry strode forward, confident now at having been addressed. "Did you think I wouldn't?"

"Honestly?" Lucius paused. "I expected you to approach me in a less … public manner. This will do, however."

Draco watched with curiosity so strong it was nearly painful as Harry reached into his robes and removed a small box. He set the box on the table and tapped it with his wand, muttering a spell under his breath. The box ballooned in size to roughly the size of a shoebox. It was made of wood, very old, and the Malfoy crest was engraved, though dulled over time, on the top. An odd sensation settled in the pit of Draco's stomach; he'd never seen the box in his life, and both of his parents seemed relieved to have it back.

Narcissa finally allowed herself to smile when she saw the box. Lucius tapped the box and it returned to its shrunken state. He handed it to Narcissa, who put it inside the black bag she had been holding. At the same time, she removed the bag's previous contents and held her hand out to Lucius.

Draco knew how important this was for his parents and didn't like that there were so many people present. Just as his mother prepared to slip a gold band on his father's hand, Draco turned his head to give them some privacy. His eyes met Harry's. Somehow, Potter knew more about that box than he did, and the knowledge only troubled him further.

"Thank you, Harry," said Narcissa, extending her hand to the black-haired wizard.

"You are welcome, Mrs. Malfoy," he replied, and lightly shook her hand.

"Is that everything?" Arthur asked, glancing from Harry to Lucius.

"Yes," said Lucius, removing his cloak from the items returned to him and wrapping it around his shoulders.

Draco caught a glint of gold on his father's ring finger and, a surge of warmth and loyalty toward his family coursed through him.

Arthur nodded to the guards, and one returned to Azkaban, the other to his post by the door. He led the Malfoys and Harry out of the room and down the long hallway in silence. When they reached the lift, he pressed the button for the Lobby level, and soon they were whisked up, arriving there in moments.

Draco took a deep breath to steel himself for what he expected to see on the other side of the door. The bell dinged and the lift opened. He wasn't disappointed. The entire lobby was full of people and they all started shouting at once when they spotted Lucius. A surge was detectable when they became aware that Harry was with the Malfoys.

Two guards on either side of the door joined them and led them through a roped-off path that led directly to a fireplace. Harry trailed behind the family, while reporters were scrambling for a chance to ask questions.

Draco completely ignored them, as did his parents. He nearly reacted, however, when a voice could be heard shouting over the din. "That Death Eater scum deserves to rot in the dankest, nastiest cell in Azkaban!"

He looked to his father; the only sign Lucius gave that he'd heard the man was a slight twitch of his lower lip. Other than that, he kept his eyes forward, and then took Narcissa's hand in his.

Once at the fireplace, Arthur took a handful of Floo powder. "Malfoy Manor, I presume?"

Narcissa nodded and Arthur shouted the destination while tossing the powder into the hearth. Green flames roared to life.

Lucius sent Narcissa through first, then turned to Arthur Weasley and extended a hand. The entire crowd fell silent and the sound of photographers rushing to ready their cameras was the only sound heard.

Arthur didn't hesitate to shake his hand, and then the crowd exploded with noise once again. Lucius nodded to the Minister and then released his hand and stepped into the flames.

Draco was about to follow when Harry clasped him on the back.

"Malfoy, mate. There's a pick up Quidditch game next weekend near the Burrow. We'd love to have you."

It was all Draco could do not to remove Potter's hand from his person. He was busy trying to determine what Harry had really meant, why he had extended an invitation to Draco to a game—to anything at all, really. Flashes were going off throughout the crowd and, not wanting to make a scene, thanked Harry and told him that he would check his schedule.

"Excellent. The Burrow for dinner afterward," Harry added, patting Draco's back again before exiting Draco's personal space.

Still stunned, Draco stepped into the fireplace without another word to Harry or to Arthur. He didn't envy what the two men were left with, nor did he care to think about it once he was safely inside his home.

Lucius and Narcissa were clenched fast in an embrace when Draco arrived and they seemed not to notice his arrival. He decided that he would speak with his father later and exited the room as quietly as he could.

Once safely away, Draco exhaled, not realizing he'd been holding his breath. He was glad his father was back, but he was concerned as well. What role would he want Draco to play in the business, if any? Draco had been forced into the position of head of the business upon Lucius' imprisonment, and though he had been successful in many endeavors, he had found that it wasn't his passion in life. He was good at it; had sharp instincts for running the company, but he preferred other things.

Draco reached the study and removed his cloak. "Chippy!" he called.

A house-elf with long ears and a short nose appeared within seconds. "Yes, Master?"

"Take my cloak, and see to it that my parents are not disturbed for anything. If you need something, come to me." He was about to dismiss the elf, when another thought occurred to him. "Oh, and let me know if anyone heads this way."

The elf bowed and took the cloak. "Yes, sir, Master, sir." Then he disappeared with a sharp pop.

Draco sighed and sat heavily in the mahogany and leather desk chair. For a few moments, he allowed his mind to empty, staring at the corner of the blotter where he had drawn a broom one day while bored. He hadn't been flying in over four years. The last time he'd been on a broom was when a few blokes from the local pub put together a little Quidditch league. He'd signed up immediately, under a false name, and been the first one on the pitch when they made teams.

He had been put on the blue squad, and their captain, Wilfred Hortlebee, led them to one corner to discuss practices and games and strategy, and then let them all fly around for a while. Draco had requested the Seeker position, but said he would play anything except Keeper if they wanted a chance at winning.

They flew for an hour and then Hortlebee called them down and started handing out their positions. Draco had colored his hair to a dark brown, but when Robin, a woman who could have easily passed for a bloke, looked him square in the eye, she recognized him and blurted out his name and said she refused to play with a Death Eater. She made such a ruckus that nearly half the people who'd shown up heard and most agreed with her.

Draco quickly bowed out and left, to the taunts and jeers of those still on the pitch. When he'd returned to the Manor, angry but at the same time understanding, he'd thrown his broom down the long entry hallway. Then he'd summoned an elf and told him to take the broom, hide it, and not give it back to Draco or let him see it.

He wondered now whether the elf would follow his earlier order, or return it to him. Almost grudgingly, Draco opened the top right drawer of his desk and took out his personal calendar. It was a cube; each side, when touched by his fingers, would reveal different information. He pressed the red side and the cube became a small folio. He opened it and scanned the lines for the following Saturday. He had an appointment with Pansy for lunch, but was otherwise free.

He reached for his quill, a chocolate brown falcon feather, but paused, his hand nearly touching the base. Was he really going to meet Potter for Quidditch in a little over a week? He retracted his arm and opened the bottom left drawer, selected a 2001 bottle of Old Ogden's Finest, and poured some into a glass. He downed the drink, feeling the burn as it traveled through him, merging with the knot in the pit of his stomach.

Harry Potter and he were not friends. They saw each other on average three and a half times a month when they crossed paths in the Ministry and spoke on only one or two of those occasions, if need required it. They were cordial, but never friendly. Draco had never extended an offer of friendship, nor apologized for his behavior in school. In his mind, Harry had behaved only marginally more civil towards him, and their shared enmity had been the result of the natural order of things. Children did not always get along, and once friendships were established, they rarely branched out and formed new social groups. Potter had snubbed his offer of friendship, and though Draco's actions had been misguided, his intentions had been true. He'd concluded long ago that it was Potter's loss …

For a fleeting moment, Draco wondered what would have happened had he successfully claimed friendship with Harry Potter that day. Would he have ended up fighting beside him? Or would there have been no war, because Potter would have given himself to the Dark Lord?

Draco shuddered at the thought and refilled his glass, for once glad that he hadn't gotten his way.

When he'd downed the fiery beverage, he was left looking through the bottom of the crystal glass at the date of the following Saturday. He had no reason to accept Potter's invitation and a hundred reasons to decline.

Draco set the glass on his desk and refilled it. He wasn't sure they could ever be mates; Draco didn't like Harry's friends, Harry didn't like Draco's friends. They had been in different houses, had different interests, probably liked different books—if Harry even liked books. They had little in common. Obviously, there was Quidditch, which was all Draco could think of off the top of his head.

Then something jarring occurred to him. They did have something in common, perhaps the most significant thing he, Potter, or anyone in their lifetime had been through: they had survived a war. They both stood on one side of a line and said that everyone else should come to their side. Only thing was— there was more than one line . Draco didn't think Harry had understood that. Maybe he did, finally, and that was why he'd invited Draco for Quidditch. Potter found that he could cross a line and not step into the unknown void that is the Dark Side.

Draco chuckled and absently rubbed his arm where his skin remained marred from the Dark Mark. If only Harry knew … Draco polished his third drink off and reached again for his quill. This time he managed to remove it from the holder before he had second thoughts.

He would be purposely setting himself up for an afternoon of Quidditch (a good thing) with a brood of Gryffindors (bad thing) most of which were probably Weasleys (ugly things). What was more, he'd just remembered that Potter had mentioned Molly's cooking at the "Burrow" afterwards. He had not only been invited for the game, but for dinner as well. He'd be asked to sit around the fire and swap stories about happy childhood memories.

The thought nearly sent him to a fourth drink when he realized he could simply not stay for dinner. All that would be required was to switch his plans with Pansy from lunch to dinner, and suddenly he had prior arrangements.

Still, could he make it through an entire afternoon with Potter and Weasley? With their friendliness, and easy smiles? He didn't think so.

The fact remained, however, that Harry Potter had extended an offer to him of camaraderie, and in his present situation he would be a fool to turn his back on it. Draco had learned through running his family's business that if an opportunity presented itself, no matter how small it appeared, it should be taken. Being on good terms with the wizarding world's favorite wizard could never be a bad thing.

Before he could talk himself out of it, Draco scribbled "Quidditch" across the entire block for Saturday, next.


Draco was used to working late, and he had a few things to prepare before handing the business back to his father. The ledgers needed to be updated, reports on changes in the company over the past seven years needed scanning, and the appropriate papers for returning control over an estate needed to be signed. Usually, an estate remained in one name until that person's death, but the occasional exception had to be made in cases like Draco's, where the father is unable to fulfill his duties. When that status changed, it took a great deal of bureaucracy and no small amount of magic to return things to their natural order.

He'd taken dinner in the office and was still finishing his plate of fruit when Chippy appeared, the sound making him jump in his seat.

"I is sorry, Master Draco," he squeaked, hopping on his tiny legs.

"That's … all right. What is it?"

"Master Lucius is on his way to see you, sir."

Draco nodded and the elf disappeared. He attempted to straighten the papers scattered across his desk, but after only a few seconds, there was a sharp rap on the door before Lucius entered.

He looked much better than when he'd been let out of prison. His hair was washed, and he'd put on a set of black robes. They hung more loosely on him than Draco remembered, but he looked like Lucius Malfoy.

"Father," Draco said, rising from his seat.

"No, sit," Lucius replied, entering the room and taking a seat opposite Draco. He glanced at the desk and then at the room. "It looks as though I left it yesterday."

"I saw no need to change anything significantly," Draco responded. Since moving into the office, he'd only added a few personal books to the shelves and a picture of his parents to the desk.

Lucius sat silently watching his son and then said, "This is unexpected, sitting like this."

"It is. I never would have imagined it." Draco gave his father the best smile he could muster. Echoes of their last conversation bounced off the corners of his mind, mixing with each other, resulting in white noise.

"The last time we spoke," Lucius began, repositioning himself in the chair and propping one leg on the other knee, "was … unpleasant. I have replayed that conversation in my head for seven years and thought of all the ways I would have done things differently."

"The past is forever unchanging, Father," Draco said. "Let's just leave it there."

Their eyes met and for a few brief moments, Draco truly believed all could be forgotten.

"As you wish," replied Lucius.

Draco nodded and began gathering the papers into a stack. The low fire flickering in the hearth, the cool that had seeped into his bones from the window behind the desk reminded him that the hour was late. "There are quite a few things to take care of, but it shouldn't take more than an hour. Would you prefer we do this in the morning?"

Lucius regarded his son, then the stack of papers, his gaze finally settling on the signet ring on Draco's hand.

Draco saw where his father's attention rested, and promptly removed the ring, holding it out to give to his father. "It's all yours."

Lucius stared at the ring for a long moment. It was more than simply handing a piece of jewelry from one person to another. The giving of a signet ring meant the passage of the title of Patriarch, the head of a pureblooded household. Draco had held the position for seven years and was eager to relinquish it. Once the ring was where it belonged once more, he could share everything with his father.

The recipient of the ring would then be entitled to all the secrets of the family, all the passwords, keys, and important documents. Even though Lucius had once worn the ring, too much time had passed to allow Draco to speak with him about these hidden matters. Once he turned over the ring, they would have a window of opportunity in which Draco could reveal things to his father, they could discuss them, figure them out … Figure out what to do next.

Lucius reached a hand up and nearly took the ring, hesitating in the same way Draco had hours earlier with his quill. "Actually, Son, I was hoping to speak to you about this."

No, no, no! Draco's mind screamed at him. It was so close! He needed to share this secret, to get it off his shoulders. He needed his father's help to deal with it, and what was more, he didn't want Lucius to find out from anybody else. In the form of an anonymous letter, perhaps …

"Speak about what?" Draco asked, keeping his arm fully extended over the desk.

Lucius retracted his hand. "I have given this a lot of thought. I have spent months contemplating what I would do upon my release. You have handled things exceptionally well during my absence, as your mother tells me. I am confident that you will continue to do so."

Draco's heart sank, and he finally let his arm rest, setting the ring on the edge of the desk. Never in his wildest ideates did he think his father would refuse to resume his post as head of the house. "Continue, Father?"

"For another two months. I wish to take your mother on an extended vacation. Surely, such a desire is understandable."

Draco nodded numbly, his blood cooling slightly at hearing 'two months.'

"Then you'll carry on, as you have been, and we'll take care of all this when I return."

"Two months," Draco repeated, eyeing his father warily. "Just two? Why do I feel like you'll run off and never come back?"

Lucius laughed, and the sound, which had once filled Draco with immeasurable pride, now sounded slightly hollow, as though a balloon had lost some of its air. "Don't be insensible. Of course I will be returning." He stopped laughing and looked at his son, his eyes full of pride. "You've done well, Draco. You are a good son. I know this … burden has kept you from many things. I ask that you do me one more favor and then you will be free."

"Until the time comes for me to take over again," Draco said glumly, his tone sounding more disdainful than he'd intended. He'd waited his entire lifetime to hear the words his father had just spoken, but his circumstances, specifically one, that bound him more tightly than any shackles ever could, refused to allow him to rejoice.

"Then take your time." Lucius stood. "Spend as many years as you wish being young. Enjoy it. You have certainly earned it."

Draco rose gracefully from his chair and then lifted the signet ring from the desk, sliding it onto his finger once more. It was probably only his imagination, the knowledge of what his continued duties meant for his family, but the ring felt heavier than it had when he'd taken it off. "Of course, Father." He forced a smile. "What's two more months, after all?"

Lucius nodded. "Indeed. We'll be leaving first thing day after tomorrow, as soon as all the arrangements can be made and the elves can get us packed. Will you need anything while we're away?"

"No, I can manage. I've been alone a number of times when mother went on shopping trips to Paris or Milan with friends." Shopping trips that had him working nearly eighty hours a week for months to afford, scrounging to save every spare Knut he could. She always said he worked too much, that he should have more fun in his life. He never begrudged her innocence; he would never tell her the truth about their state. He would rather work with his bare hands until they were bloodied than tell her the truth.

"Good." Lucius smiled, and for the first time in his life, it spread all the way to his eyes. "See you at breakfast in the morning. Your mother has ordered something special to be prepared."

"Sounds wonderful."

Lucius turned to go, then paused with one hand on the door. Slowly, he turned around, his piercing gaze looking at Draco curiously. "Son, is there anything you wanted to tell me?"

"No," he answered, perhaps a little too quickly.

Lucius lingered, glancing around the office again, as though hoping for a clue as to the truthfulness of his son's hasty response. "If you're sure … Your mother also wanted me to inform you that we will likely be having guests tomorrow night for dinner. She wants you in attendance."

"Of course." Guests meant ex-Death Eaters, many who had managed to elude capture and blame after the war. There weren't many, but they all held Lucius in very high esteem, despite Potter's claims about his family's 'good deeds.'

"There was something I wanted to ask," Draco said, when Lucius reached again for the knob.

"The box?"

"Yes. What was it? Why did Potter have it, and not me?"

Lucius sighed. "It is my fervent desire to explain everything to you one day."

"Not today," said Draco, unable to help feeling a little bitter.

"No. I hope soon."

Draco nodded and Lucius left. Once the door had closed behind him, Draco slumped back into his desk chair. He gripped his hair and pulled until it hurt, then refilled and promptly emptied his glass. He was about to refill it again when the calendar caught his eye, one square somehow peeking out through all the papers on the desk. Saturday, next. bQuidditch./b How could he possibly consider going now, after learning that he would still be responsible for the business? He often met with professional associates on the weekends, for outings, meals, at parties. True, he hadn't scheduled anything else for that day except lunch with Pansy, so he wouldn't have to cancel any plans.

He decided to leave it to the fates. "Chippy!" he called.

The house-elf appeared in the middle of the room, his hands still folding the napkin it had been before Draco had summoned him. "Yes, Master, sir?"

"My broom. I require it."

The elf's eyes widened. "Master says not to give it up."

"And now Master wants it. Bring it to me at once."

Obviously torn between two opposing commands, the elf wavered, not wanting to upset Draco, or to fail whatever test he was being given.

Draco sighed. "I've got a … game next week. If you don't bring me the broom, I shall be forced to buy another."

Chippy nodded quickly and disappeared, confirming Draco's suspicions that on occasion, he got so drunk that he shared his deepest secrets with the only creatures available to listen. In fact, he made it a point never to become so inebriated in the company of others, in case he did open his mouth and speak too frankly. Now he was glad for his personal rule and waited patiently.

Chippy returned after a few minutes and, hesitant once more, waited before presenting the broom. "Here you is, Master. Just as you asked."

Draco took the broom and dismissed the elf, thrilling at the feel of the wood in his hands. He admired the broom, the way it hummed, as though excited at being held by its owner once more, at the prospect of flying again. It looked freshly polished, as though someone had taken excellent care of it and not neglected in the back of a broom closet.

He was grateful to the elf for keeping the broom in good condition and considered rewarding him, though that task had proved difficult over the years. House elves liked their work and got embarrassed when thanked for it. Why should they receive praise for doing what they were supposed to do? Draco had attempted a few times to leave sweets, only to find them on a tray beside his bed the next morning with a hot cup of tea. However, Draco had never asked the elf to polish his broom, to tend to the twigs, and keep the moving parts oiled. He would think of something.

With a sigh, Draco placed the broom in the corner of the room and attempted to make sense of the mess on his desk. He sorted all the papers into three piles: for Lucius to read, for Lucius to sign (brightly colored magical arrows pointed to each place the signature was required) and papers to file. Grudgingly, Draco magically wrapped each stack of papers and spun the chair to his right, where his filing cabinet sat.

He pressed his finger to the top left corner and waited until the top drawer opened. Inside was a single red folder with no label. Draco placed all three stacks of paper into the folder and said, "Lucius, turnover papers, 13 August." Draco's words appeared on the folder's tab and Draco tapped the folder with his wand. It disappeared, to be replaced with another empty red folder. Draco closed the cabinet, finished clearing the desk, and straightened the office.

The long-awaited day had arrived and was now waning. He was relieved that soon it would all be over, but worried that somehow his father would find out before he could tell him. Draco grabbed a worn book from his space on the bookshelf, turned out the lights, and headed for bed.

Three hours later, he still lay in bed, wide awake and staring at the ceiling. His book was finished and sat on his night stand beside an empty water glass, a small journal, and an Ever-Ink quill. He had imaged in his mind the wonderful, relieved sleep he would experience after his father's release so much that now he feared it would never come. However, his father was home, safely tucked into bed next to his wife. They would go on their much needed holiday, and when they returned, all would be set right. The full relief Draco had anticipated would not be possible until then.

Determined to sleep, Draco called for the house-elf and requested a Dreamless Draught from his personal stores. The elf complied, and within five minutes of taking the prescribed dose, he fell into a deep slumber.


A/N: Welcome to my newest story! It's going to be a long one [I've got 29.75 chapters written so far], so I hope you'll join me for this adventure. I'm going to have a long-ish list of thanks right here, but in future chapters, they'll be kept to a minimum.

Beta thanks: I've become accustomed to having a few people look over my stories. One reason is that betas are busy people too, and sometimes they can't all look at the story/chapter/whatever. Another reason is that I've learned that the more I do this, the more I realize I have to learn about writing. I miss things, betas miss things, FanFiction smooshes words together—no published or posted story is ever perfect, but that doesn't mean I can't try! :)

That said, unending thanks to the best betas around: drcjsnider, manda, pokeystar, & zoe.

Title credit: The title of this story was adapted from a play by William Shakespeare. In Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Scene I, the King laments the way sleep has eluded him.

Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

I never would have thought of this most excellent and deserving title were it not for my dear friend manda, who loves this story almost as much as I do. She's been there from the very beginning, through brainstorming, frustration, blood, sweat, tears, and most importantly, countless google image searches. For you-know-what.

Other Notes: Each chapter in this story has been or will be illustrated by a fabulous Dramione (or otherwise!) artist. Since you can't see images on this site, go to my profile page each week after the chapter is posted to find links to the artwork for the week.

The same goes for music. My good friend inadaze22 is putting together a playlist for each chapter, and I owe her BIG TIME. Maybe I'll get around to betaing that chapter she sent me in, oh, August. You'll be able to find links to the music on my profile page as well.

As with "We Learned the Sea", this story will be updated AT LEAST every Friday. So there's no need to encourage me to update; I will.

I truly hope you enjoy this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.