Title: Not Everything Is As It Seems
A/N: Okay, so this is my first multi-chapter fic with an actual story, so I'm kinda nervous about it. Here's the prologue, and it's kind of boring and kind of wordy, but it's basically just there to set up the story. Important things to know...
In case it isn't clear, Cobra Riddle is Voldemort's daughter. I haven't figured out the particulars, but just know that that's who she is.
I'm trying to keep track of which Death Eaters survived and which didn't. In case I made a mistake and accidentally resurected one, let's just call that AU.
Someone who supposedly died in Deathly Hallows is, in fact, not dead. Three guesses as to who.
I'm trying to keep as true to the books/movies as possible (excluding the relationship this focuses on, which is decidedly NON-canon), so any mistakes there are also just considered AU.
I jump around in time a little bit... usually you'll see a little heading like Three Years Later, but know that flashbacks usually come at the beginning of each chapter, with the exception of the prologue which takes place over two days.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. I do own Cobra Riddle.
The moment the slam of a door echoed throughout the mansion, the woman sitting on the window seat at the back of the house knew what had happened at the Battle at Hogwarts. It was one of those things people with an extraordinary connection could just tell—and she could just tell that it was as over for her father as it would ever be.
It came as no surprise, therefore, when Rodolphus Lestrange relayed the events in a slightly strangled voice, repressing his reaction of not only his wife's death but his leader's with difficulty. She had seen this coming, just as she saw nearly everything else coming. Two years ago, her father had raged endlessly upon her for her inability to foresee a certain prophecy. But it was in that same year that she had accurately predicted what was happening on this very night.
Although her father's only hope had been demolished by a simple mistake, it was by no means over. As tribute to his memory, she promised herself that she would indeed finish what he had set out to do... destroy Harry Potter.
But first, she planned to have a little fun.
Several of the Death Eaters brought the boy in, his chest rising and falling steadily despite large, clumsily bandaged gashes on his chest and head. Mulciber, holding the boy's ankles tightly in his hands, called uncertainly from over his shoulder as he shuffled backwards into the room.
"Where do you want 'im?"
"The basement should do just fine." She replied absentmindedly as Lucius Malfoy entered the house, defeat etched in every line on his face—which happened to be many, she suddenly realized. She had never quite known his age. He glanced at her face, and saw what she had foretold, and his hope was quickly restored when he silently discovered she had already developed a new plan.
Mulciber had stopped just four feet into the hall. From the darkness, his disembodied voice sounded.
"The basement?" He repeated, sounding as if he did not quite understand what a basement was. The woman rolled her eyes.
"Where he won't be found." She said slowly, as if speaking to a small child, unable to contain the agitation from her tone.
Mulciber and Augustus Rookwood, who gripped the boy under his armpits, continued down the hall noisily. A door slammed from far away and the woman turned back to the expectant group in front of her. She inhaled deeply, preparing herself.
"You may think it is over." She addressed them, almost accusingly, as if it was ridiculous for any thought even remotely similar to cross their minds. "You may think that Harry Potter—" She spat the name out— "has won." She paused to stare at each of them in turn, attempting to convey all of her rage and frustration at the injustice of their loss in one simple look.
"He. Has. Not." She added forcefully. "There is a reason why we have brought him here."
The Death Eaters who were gathered in the room glanced behind her at the pitch black hallway through which Mulciber and Rookwood had taken the limp body.
"You have a plan, then." Rodolphus stated darkly, already knowing the answer. She nodded, not in any particular direction, before continuing.
"I've seen what we must do."
"And this is part of your plan, then?" Lucius spoke up suddenly, from the corner of the room. His tone wasn't accusatory; it was filled with more curiosity than anything else.
"What, the boy?" The woman scoffed. "Of course, why else would I have brought him here? Why else would I have saved his life?"
She had a point; there was no other reason why she would have given the order to retrieve him in the first place, unless he held some greater value in her master plan. But she seemed to conduct her speech to them as if they already knew all of the details, when in fact her followers had no idea what she and her father had discussed before his death.
"We're going to kill Potter, that's a given." A soft smile crossed her face, and they knew it was because she delighted in the thought of Harry Potter, dead at her feet. She looked around at each of them. "But first, why don't we turn his friends against him?" She suggested, her grin growing wider, even more malicious.
"Why him?" Asked a dumbfounded Selwyn. "Why not the girl?" He thought for a moment, at first appearing to have forgotten the name, but then seeming to struggle with letting such an apparent abomination pass through his lips. With a final expression of disgust, he finished, "Ginny Weasley... wouldn't she affect Potter more?"
"We had a chance, and we took it." She said impatiently. "Two years ago, we had the perfect opportunity, and I knew it would benefit us later..." She paused, correcting herself. "Now."
There was a change rippling through the room. It had suddenly dawned on them that this woman was their new leader, and she was not a force to be reckoned with. How could she not be? She was the daughter of the former most powerful wizard in their world, and now, they had just realized, she was in charge.
"M-my Lady." Selwyn stammered, the new title sounding incredibly foreign on his lips. She looked rather surprised at the way he addressed her.
"My Lady," He repeated, stronger, with more confidence. "What would you have us do?"
She smiled at him, almost kindly, as if she was a schoolteacher praising an intelligent student for answering a particularly difficult question correctly. Patting him quickly on the head, she moved down the row of Death Eaters gathered against the wall.
She slowed at the end of the line, pausing slightly before Lucius Malfoy and glancing up at him sideways, in deep thought, biting her pinky nail absentmindedly. He watched her, the shadow of amusement on his face.
Then, with a quick and almost invisible shake of the head, she took one more step forward and stopped in front of the smaller Death Eater standing next to Lucius. Now that she stood in front of him- although he towered a good six inches above her- she saw the fear creeping onto his long, pale face.
"Oh," Her lips curled upward slightly as she spoke, a smirk emerging. "I can think of a thing or two."
It was an extraordinarily cold morning in August when the cloaked figure stepped from the stoop of the dark, massive manor behind him. A pure white peacock strutted across his path, but he paid it no mind. He continued through the enchanted gate and down the road, at an easy, deliberate pace, until he reached the crossroads ahead. The second the manor was out of sight, he broke into a frantic run.
From the shadowy window of the manor, a second silhouette watched in quiet discontent, a frown etched upon his face as he leaned slightly on his cane, his hand clenched tightly around the ornate snake's head at the top. Somehow he knew that a change of pace had been made; he was aware of the other figure's intentions—the assignment the boy had been sent to do would not be completed.
Instead, Lucius Malfoy had the impression that he was about to be betrayed.
"Oh, cool your wand." Lucius turned sharply from the window as he heard the voice, a smirk evident in its tone. "He's taken an Unbreakable Vow, Lucius. And even if there is something we overlooked, he'll never get out of Azkaban once he's turned himself in." Despite the lax effort to console him, Lucius was not reassured.
"Be that as it may, my Lady," Lucius replied, attempting unsuccessfully to contain the anger in his words, "He was still my responsibility. And he has now betrayed me."
The woman moved from where she had been leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed, and stepped closer to the window. She pulled back the heavy drapes that covered all but a tiny sliver of the glass with a flick of her black wand, and the room was bathed in a blue-gray light from the cloudy sky.
"I don't know why you keep it so dark in here." She pouted, seemingly ignoring his previous comment. "I'm so awfully afraid I'm going to trip over something."
Lucius did not respond, but instead chose to resume his former position, staring out the window as if he expected the figure to come running back.
"Don't look so put out." The woman commanded. Her words might as well have been followed by something along the lines of "or else", but Lucius knew this was an empty threat. Even so, he faced her again, looking into her unusual black eyes.
She was short, somewhere around five foot two from what he could estimate, and her hair, ending just an inch or so below her shoulders, was also a strange jet black, giving the appearance that it was one, single, helmet-like thing instead of millions of thin hairs. Her outfit, as always, left little to the imagination. She was dressed in a shimmering purple corset, with ragged black sleeves that fell off her shoulders. Her skirt was just as torn and tattered, and it was hard to tell where her black leggings stopped and her long, buckled boots began.
She was pretty, Lucius was quite aware, but it was a bit disconcerting for a woman with a body and face like hers—mature, albeit in a pleasing manner—to act so much like a spoiled child. As she stared up at him, willing him to erase his frown, he could see in her eyes that she was under the impression that he was actually intimidated.
But another thing Lucius knew very well was that none of them feared her in the least anymore. It was respect and legacy alone that kept her followers by her side. Lucius and his kind had a duty to finish, and they would see that it was done- or they would die trying.
"Lucius..." She breathed, and quite suddenly her black eyes had darkened, if that were possible, with an unexpected and impulsive lust for him. She stood on the tips of her toes in an attempt to lean closer. "Relax. Don't worry about him..." Her arm snaked up to grip his shoulder and rub it gently, "He's not worth the trouble."
She had finally hit the nail directly on the head—Lucius was not at all concerned about the well being of the rapidly departing figure; in fact it was quite the opposite. But although Lucius's mind was, for a feeble second, locked upon her realization of his true feelings, he could not ignore her unwanted actions. It did not matter how much of his loyalty her predecessor had held.
"My Lady," Lucius responded to her advances in a steady, deliberate voice.
"Call me Cobra." She cooed, the authority melting quickly away from her.
"I think it would be best," Lucius calmly picked up the hand that was currently resting on his shoulder and dropped it, "Cobra, if we maintain a fully professional relationship."
For a moment, he half expected her to be stung by his rejection. But he realized all too quickly that it wasn't in her nature as she shrugged, shooting him one last half-hearted, slightly hopeful look before flouncing away towards the door.
She turned back in the doorway, and, quite suddenly reverting to an exceptionally mature disposition, stated, "I wouldn't worry. We've got the boy, and everything's going according to plan excluding his—" she jerked her head towards the front door— "crisis of confidence." Lucius nodded to confirm his understanding, though he was not comforted by her words.
Smiling tightly one last time, Cobra's figure melted into the dark hallway like a ghost into a dense fog.
So cowardice turns out to be my thing, the boy thought sullenly as he ran down the dirt covered lane, away from the mansion that he had so often called home. After this, however, he figured his days of being able to call anywhere home had come to an end.
What was it, only a day ago, that Cobra had asked him to do a simple chore? Pick up a set of black robes and a nondescript wand for their new prisoner. Yet now he found himself running frantically past the robe shop, down to the end of the lane, desperate to find someone, anyone...
It was stupid, really. He was fleeing from an ordinary errand. She had asked him to do the simplest thing, and he had become as skittish as a frightened cat. It was just... it added up to so much more...
And even Draco Malfoy knew where to draw the line.
The town was full of people on a Sunday, out doing their own errands and simply living their day to day lives, a spring in their step. They were under the ignorant impression that it was all over, that the world was going back to being safe. Draco allowed himself a quick smirk and their naivety. They hadn't even a clue that one of the dreaded Lord Voldemort's followers was passing them at that very moment, that the headquarters of the Death Eaters was the mansion just up the lane.
Draco couldn't believe this town. What was wrong with them? He had yet to cross paths with any sort of authority at all. Were the wizards of the world really so gullible that they believed they didn't need protection, when another war was brewing right under their noses?
But even as Draco scoffed at this, he felt himself running into a solid figure.
"Watch your step, son. Are you all right?" A deep voice said from above him. A steady hand had placed itself on his shoulder. Draco looked up into deep brown, very familiar eyes.
"Draco Malfoy?" The eyes widened, incredulous. Draco suppressed a sigh of relief and mustered his courage, planting a signature smirk on his face as Kingsley Shacklebolt stared at him in disbelief.
"That's right," He said defiantly, wrenching his shoulder away from Kingsley's hand, trying to make it look as if he were about to run. "Long live the Dark Lord," He threw in snidely.
Kingsley's brow furrowed, and he suddenly reached out and grabbed Draco's arm in a firm, unyielding grip.
"I think I'd better be taking you to the Ministry." With his other hand, Kingsley pulled his wand from the folds of his robes. "Can I assume you'll come quietly?" He nodded his head, referencing the gathering onlookers just over Draco's shoulder.
Draco clenched his jaw and nodded tightly, attempting to plaster his face with a look of pure hatred. He must have succeeded, because Kingsley's frown deepened still and he held out his hand. Draco obliged, pulling his wand from his pocket and placing it in Kingsley's outstretched hand. Kingsley turned to leave, pulling Draco roughly with him.
"You know what you have done." Kingsley muttered darkly. Draco nodded his head remorsefully, knowing Kingsley couldn't see him.
Instead he said, "I'm not sorry; they deserved it. Throw me in Azkaban for all I care."
Kingsley spun around quickly and his grip on Draco's arm tightened painfully. "I am sure that is exactly what the Ministry plans to do," he said through gritted teeth. He turned abruptly away, yanking Draco along behind him.
Draco couldn't help but look back up the lane as Kingsley pulled him towards the outskirts of town, where no doubt a broom or a secluded spot for apparition was located. So he was finally rid of it all. Running away had worked; cowardice had turned out to be his thing.
Draco didn't fancy himself a hero, even if he was risking his life in more ways than one by doing this. But if he could convince the Ministry to give him just one visitor in Azkaban, just one, then maybe he could find a way out.
No, Draco wasn't a hero. He was about to make a deal for his freedom, and all that made him was a selfish coward. But he didn't mind being a coward. He had come to terms with this fact a long time ago, perhaps when he had failed to kill Dumbledore that night on the Astronomy tower.
So Draco didn't mind running. He just would have preferred it if he wasn't running to Harry Potter.