Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Hey everyone. First, thanks for being dedicated readers and fans. I appreciate that people still want to know how this ends. Second, the reason why I am so slow with my writing and posting is that I'm in my Junior/Senior track for University. I have to divide time between class, work, study and writing, so very little time compartively can be allotted. I realize this is just platitudes for many, but I am very busy. My project due at the end is on Literary Composition, and if anyone is interested in sharing how they were taught in high school, or how writing, whether ir be fanfics or not, has helped you, PM me or something because I am interested in hearing about your experiences.
So that's about it. Enjoy the chapter!
"This is the article?" Harry asked, opening the paper to its fullest. The stark black and white print flared his anger and he could feel Draco's attention to the words as he read them aloud through the bond. Disgust and condensation were the primary emotions Harry felt sent back his way, and he ignored the rant as it began to loop. He shook his head and began to thumb through the other pages. His eyebrows rose as he saw a swarm of small dragons in various familiar locations. Diagon Alley. St. Mungo's. The Ministry...
"They still haven't found the source for the wyvern attack." Hermione said beside him. "They think it was Death Eater sympathizers."
There was chuckling through the bond, but it was as intimate as if Draco was in the room, reading over his shoulder and mocking the Ministry.
"Draco said Snape has memories over what happened and that I need to watch them. After we get his wand back, I'm going to look into those memories."
"Well, we need to get the wand back soon." Ron reasoned. "That's the first step in any plan."
"Yeah." Harry agreed. He turned to Hermione expectantly. "Can you show me what I'm supposed to have memorized?"
"Of course, Harry."
Malfoy Manor felt like an irate beast. The shadows that had at once seemed soft and comforting, were stark and dangerous. The tapestries fluttered in breezes that were nonexistent. Silver rattled. The house elves were afraid to enter some of the more obscure rooms and wings. Narcissa hurried about, preparing for her departure. With her son ensconced in Azkaban, she would have to turn her sights to Hogwarts and the last link she had to him.
"I'm leaving. Seal up the Manor. I suggest you seek refuge in only the trusted areas until Lord Malfoy can resolve the Manor."
The owl took wing, carrying with it a letter sealed and spelled to be read only by the Minister. He would have his revenge. The wand was safely stashed away in his possession, as he was unwilling to part with such a valuable bargaining chip until he could be ensured his own part in this play. As soon as the Minister agreed, he could activate the portkey and the wand would be spirited away. He didn't know the grudge the Ministry had against the Malfoys, beside the obvious that even the most ignorant Gryffindor knew, but he was willing to ply whatever skill he could into the scheme. If it destroyed the Malfoys, then the path was clear to him. He was the strongest Slytherin in the Dungeons even if no one else knew or believed it. He knew better than to flaunt his strength and set himself up as a viable candidate for conspiracy while there was a Malfoy in Hogwarts.
He spent years creating this mask, as soon as he learned that the Malfoys were in control of Slytherin. It was not right. There was no one's blood as pure or strong as his. He was the child of such selective breeding that even the Malfoy line must seem tattered and dirty by comparison. Years hiding that purity away and playing second fiddle. He had done atrocious things to keep that cover. Things his entire body screamed in revulsion doing.
He was done playing that game. It was time to tear them down.
"It can seal a person's magic?" He asked, eyes narrowed as he stared at the thin silver circlet. There were tiny runes etched into the sides that he couldn't make out.
"It prevents a person from performing magic outside of their body. If a person has some type of charm or inherit magic, such as being an Animagus, it would not stop that. A person simply cannot perform magic, with a wand or without, spoken or wordless, regardless of power or intent."
"Very useful." He praised the Unspeakable. "We will use this in lieu of Dementors. They have been mostly hidden from the public and I want it to remain that way."
"Of course, sir." The hooded man bowed and presented two more silver bands. "These, sir, prevent the wearer from using their hands. It paralyzes the muscles and the magical flow is redirected elsewhere. They have places here and here to attach them to the chair in the courtroom."
"Excellent." Scrimgeour nodded and handed the circlet to the Unspeakable. "Make sure the Auror group uses these. Send them as soon as possible."
"...Sic ego vadom, sic exsisto."
"Very good, Harry." Hermione encouraged. It was his third time through the entire ritual and he had done perfectly. She supposed Draco had expressed his approval because Harry smiled and set his shoulders as if a hand had settled on them. She yawned and stretched, rubbing at her eyes.
She turned to the redhead and smiled softly as he snored on Draco's sofa. One of the cushions had been sacrificed for a pillow and a larger book lay opened on his chest. She shook her head.
"He's been like that since three."
"How are you doing?"
"I'm alright. Just a little tired."
"I'll go try to find some Pepper-Up potion. Draco's bound to have stuffed some in here somewhere if he studies like you."
She blushed and agreed.
He vanished into the bedroom, obviously following instructions from Draco, if the rolled eyes and amused tilt to his smile was anything to go by.
"I'll send a message to the Slytherins and Professor Snape." Hermione called. "Just after I wake up Ron."
The room looked exactly how he and Draco had left it. The large ritual circle with the various runes, Latin words and pillar positions. The tripod base and the scrying bowl sat in the center.
"You are confident that you can do this, Potter?" Pansy asked, looking at the circle with reverence. "Rituals are difficult the first time you perform one."
"I can do this." He said, gripping his wand tightly in his hand.
"Draco's wand is a very special piece. A gift from his patrents specially made." Snape said suddenly from the side. "The hawthorn was gathered from the spawn of the Glastonbury Hawthorn, a tree on Wirral Hill, a pagan site of his ancestors. Both Draco and the wand were blessed with wwater from the Chalice Well, at his birth and the wand's creation, and his name means "Dragon of Bad Faith" while hawthorn is destined for bad fortune. These are three powerful magical ties, without including the blood and core bonds between Draco and his wand. It is... dangerous to interfere with bonds as such. It is very likely that the window between our world and the faery realm will be...noticeable."
Harry nodded, staring down at his own wand. He knew that wands could create powerful bonds between the wizards and their wands. He was foolish for thinking his was the only wand with a bond.
"How did Draco manage such a powerful wand?" Hermione asked, brows furrowing as she contemplated the wand and its owner.
"There are certain restrictions placed on underage wizards and witches. Magical bonds usually will not become active or prominent until the wizard or witch reaches magical maturity. If the wizard or witch has not experienced a healthy process during their maturing years, they will never master the greater bonds they can achieve with their wands." Snape crossed his arms, very much a teacher suddenly.
"He is a Malfoy." Theodore answered. "If he could not have managed such a wand he would have been considered an inadequate heir and would have stepped aside from his place."
"He has always had to live up to the expectations of his family. Family is very important to him and always will be." Pansy said as she inspected the circle. "He'd still be a son of the Malfoy family but not the Heir if he couldn't meet his father's expectations."
"Let us discuss this at a later date, not while the sun continues to reach the optimal point and the ritual is nowhere near began."
"Right." Harry lifted his wand and stepped into the circle, standing over the scrying bowl in the center. Snape took the place before him at the Spirit position, Pansy on his right side at the Water position, Hermione on his left at the Air position. Ron was to his back on the right at the Fire position and Theodore to his back on the left at the Earth position. He took a breath and lifted his wand.
The lines between those assembled began to glow softly.
Harry paused as he trace the circle with his wand, slowly revolving and placed it back at the ready position. The lines turned gold and waited.
Harry stopped and traced the pentagram and the star turned gold and waited.
Gradually, the magic of those gathered around him began to seep into the circle, joining the flow of the ritual magic and boosting the circle.
Harry tried to breath normally as he was assaulted from all sides by powerful magic. He shook under the weight. He felt warm magic wrap around him took strength from what Draco offered to him. He knelt on the floor in his position, his knees on either side of the scrying bowl. He grabbed the hawthorn rod and Draco's vial of blood. He tapped three drops onto the rod and poured the rest into the bowl where it mixed with the water. He placed the tip of the rod on the edge on the rim and slowly tuned the bowl, a ringing filling the room. The water rippled and churned before turning clear, the blood gone. He switched the rod to his left hand and drew his wand, rising. He lifted his wand until it was high in the air above him and the hawthorn rod pointing at the scrying bowl.
Using his body as the path the magic would have to follow, he forced the chaotic magic in the circle to center on his wand and be drawn in and then passed out through the tip of the hawthorn rod and into the bowl.
"I create this circle to summon that which has been lost to me. By blood, by magic, by might, I call upon all that is to answer my spell and guide me toward my goal. So I have created, so I shall invoke, so I shall use. Guide my sight and my spirit." The words that were coming out of his mouth were not English. He knew he was speaking Latin but the sounds that reached his ears were English. It felt like when he was speaking Parseltongue, mouth forming the snake-language but hearing English.
The water in the bowl had begun to glow and churn. The clear water darkened, seeming to sink deeper than the bowl had a bottom. Hogwarts appeared in the bottom of the bowl, the image moving quickly and too fast for him to follow. Instead of following corridors, it simply went through and the rapid motion made his stomach swirl. It stopped inside the Slytherin Commons, before it began to spin. It couldn't move in any particular direction, and it swiveled as if confused.
The magic coming through the wand began to taper off, no longer the powerful stream and he tried to supplement his own magic into the flow, directing it out of his body and into the hawthorn. The image became more focused and sped through the Commons, stopping in a corridor lined with doors as the magic wavered. The image faded, water rising and clearing. It filled the bowl again with clear water and Harry slowly lowered his wand.
"I release the circle." He whispered, the magics he'd consumed in the ritual suddenly returning to their proper places. He fell to his knees heavily, feeling a exhaustion akin to the type he felt after a grueling Quidditch match.
"You've seen the wand?" Snape demanded immediately as he approached. Hermione dropped to her knees beside him and handed off a Pepper-Up potion.
"No. Something blocked the magic. I'll be able to find the wand if I can get down to the Slytherin dorms." Harry said after passing the empty vial back to Hermione. "Is everyone up for a field trip?"
"What's a field trip?" Ron asked, offering him a hand. He rolled his eyes with Hermione as he pulled himself up with Ron's help.
"We need to get down to the dungeons. We have a traitor in Slytherin House to which we must attend." Pansy said with venom.
"I am loathe to leave this in your hands, but I must be present for breakfast this morning. I am to confer with Dumbledore on which method of punishment and manipulation he will exercise in both the wand theft and Draco's renewed trial." Snape swept past them but paused at the door. "I trust in your judgment, but leave the final fate for Draco. Honor demands that Draco be the one to attend this slight."
Harry nodded, even as he scowled at the departing Professor's back. He would have to wait to get the bastard to hand over the memories later then. He looked up at the group, his friends and Draco's, both sets waiting for him to make a decision. It was a little odd.
"Do you think you can all afford to blow off classes today?"
"Harry, I can't believe I'm saying this, but what we're doing is more important than class." Hermione said and then she brightened. "Besides, once we have everything worked out, I'm sure it would take no time at all to make up all the work we've missed, especially if Draco helps me organize everything."
"Of course, Potter. Harry. Classes are insignificant compared to what subterfuge is being conducted just beneath our noses." Pansy said with a steely look in her eyes. He belatedly remembered that she was left in charge of Slytherin while Draco was incapacitated. He knew what she had done to Zabini. Who could guess what she would do to this unknown traitor?
A crack sounded as a cloaked figure appeared before the Gate. The figure began to approach the castle, walking determinedly forward and through the wards. It would have been easier to make this trip by carriage but the physical activity helped. The great doors were already open as the figure approached, a ginger kneazle-bred cat sitting in the doorway. It ran off as the figure climbed the stairs, walking down the corridors until the figure reached the Great Hall doors. Cloaked arms were raised and white hands pressed against the doors, forcing them open.
Silence swept through the hall as a black cloaked figure appeared in the opening doors. They hit the walls with a heavy thump. The figure approached the High Table, the Headmaster and staff rising. Severus gasped softly, expecting this but not so soon. He began to climb down the dais quickly.
The hood fell back and whispers followed its descent. A waterfall of white-blond hair swept after it and Narcissa Malfoy's delicate features appeared, a determined and pained look in her face.
"I am here for Harry Potter." Her voice echoed in the hall.
Severus drew to a halt a fair distance away from her.
She turned to him with a sad, fiery glint in her eyes.
She held out a hand and he accepted it, bowing low over it, before the students and staff.
He rose from over her hand and she grasped their hands with her free one. With a grief-filled smile, she drew their clasped hands toward her lips and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.
"Come, Narcissa. We will adjourn to Draco's rooms. I believe you will find greater comfort there than in my silent quarters."
Narcissa nodded once and threaded her hand through his arm, allowing him to escort her from the hall.
Harry drew to a halt as he saw the blond figure standing at the foot of the stairs. Narcissa Malfoy had in turn stopped and then paled as she saw him. Her cloak flared out behind her as she swept up the stairs and wrapped her arms around him.
"Harry Potter." She was shorter than he was, closer to Draco's height.
"Please, simply Narcissa."
"Narcissa. Forgive my asking, but why are you here?"
"I'm here for my son. I will do all I can to help you prepare to defend my son."
"I know, La- Narcissa. I would do the same." Harry hugged her back briefly and then stepped back. He noticed Professor Snape over her shoulder and sent him a questioning look.
"Lady Malfoy arrived this morning. I am taking her to Draco's quarters and then meeting with the Headmaster before classes." Professor Snape said as he reclaimed her arm and they ascended the staircase. "Mr. Potter, if you are to remain within Draco's rooms until he has returned to Hogwarts, I would suggest you allow Lady Malfoy the bedroom and content yourself with the commons."
Harry simply nodded and watched Snape and Narcissa climb the stairs and vanish down the corridors. He sighed and felt the twinge of sadness and approval that he knew belonged to Draco.
"Don't you think we should have told her, Harry?" Hermione asked, looking up the stairs anxiously. "It's his mother; she would want to know."
"Her husband died last night. I do not think she would have the composure for anything requiring her to keep a cool head and steady hand." Pansy answered, eyes glossy.
"It's hard to believe he's dead." Ron said, rubbing his neck awkwardly.
"I know." Harry agreed. "C'mon. Let's get this done before the day gets any later. The thief probably has no idea we know and unless it's changed locations we'll have the wand. In the least, we'll have the identity of the student and know who to hunt down to take it from."
"Potter's right. Let's go." Theodore said curtly.
"Hierarchy." Pansy snapped to the stone wall. It slid open with a low grinding noise and swept into the room, looking regal and furious. She opened her arms as if offering them the room. "Well, Potter. Find it."
He nodded, glancing around and spotting the correct hallway. His mind focused on his task, ignoring the rest as he strode forward. The deeper he went, the more uncertain he became. Most of the walls appeared to be carved right out of the stone. A glimmer of silver ahead caught his eye and he stopped in front of the door.
"Wait Harry." Hermione's hand caught his as he moved to grab the knob. "Check for wards and hexes. This isn't the Tower."
He frowned and nodded, eyes widening as the wards began to peel away and he encountered more than one hex that he couldn't identify. There was a well of power at his fingertips, however, and he simply pushed until the magic broke under his command. He lowered his wand and reached a cautious hand forward, turning the knob and letting it swing open.
"I know this room." Nott said as he stepped around Harry and glared at the barren bed on the opposite wall of the furnished one. "Pansy. It appears we were not as thorough as we expected."
"Blaise." She snarled, agitation and fury written across her face. Draco's shock, anger and thirst for revenge swept into him and he forced it back before it sparked his own rage to greater heights.
"But... How? Blaise is nowhere near as strong as either Harry or Draco. He can't have overpowered Draco's portrait." Hermione said as she entered the room.
"Blaise is his mother's child." Nott answered. "She hid her power from the Dark Lord when he was at his height. We thought she was too weak to be of service. How could he have hidden strength like this?"
"Blood." Pansy's face was white, hands shaking slightly in anger. "He's used his blood and performed a ritual to fool us. A ritual or a spell. His mother knew the dangers of being strong when there was a Malfoy heir living while the threat of a new Dark Lord loomed." She conceded. "Where is Draco's wand? We will deal with Blaise later. We need that wand now."
"I can't feel it." Harry admitted as he searched Blaise's side of the room. "It's either not in this room or he's hidden it from the ritual's eye."
"Well. You honestly wouldn't expect me to keep it on hand, now would you Potter?"
Such fools. Waltzing into his room. As if he had not been prepared for Potter's sheer power. Only a fool would underestimate someone driven by powerful motivators such as revenge, greed and hatred. His powers were just blossoming.
"When I felt something akin to a blundering elephant charge through my wards, I knew that I had to come see what little flies I had captured." Blaise smiled congenially as Potter strode forward to confront him. He drew his wand and twirled it in his hand meaningfully, before raising the tip so it was centered at Potter's chest. "Forgive me for not bowing, Savior Potter, but I believe that a little decorum can be put aside at such times as these."
"Zabini." Furious dark green eyes narrowed on him. "Give me Draco's wand and I promise your punishment will be gentle."
"Kinky. Does Draco know you are offering sexual favors to his enemy?" Blaise smiled and then his eyes narrowed. "Back off, Weasley, or I'll AK your Savior."
"That's an instant Azkaban sentence, Zabini." Granger piped up bravely. "No amount of pleading would get you out of that one."
"Really?" Blaise suddenly turned a smug grin on him. "I doubt the Minister would object. After all, poor dear Potter has been bound, quite against his will to such a dark, evil Death Eater. I would be saving him really."
"How do you know about that?" Potter snarled. Magic snapped in the air around him. Blaise narrowed his eyes and cut a sharp sweep through the air with his wand. Potter clutched his chest and stumbled back in confusion a few paces. Weasley and Granger stepped forward but he waved them off.
"I have a few little birdies who can do the same amount of research your little lioness can. In fact, they can go one better, as they are purebloods with more than enough working knowledge on rituals, blood magic and companion magic." Blaise twirled the wand gently again as Potter struggled to regain composure. "It also helps that the Minister saw fit to inform me of a few details, considering the position I am in."
"What did you do, Blaise?" Pansy seemed to be truly afraid. He wondered if she had pieced things together yet.
"Pansy, my sweet poisonous flower, I would like to thank you for your part in my deceptions. Without you and your rigid control of Slytherin, I would have never achieved what I have. So thank you, for creating an Exile, a Slytherin cast out of Slytherin. A Slytherin free from the new militia of Death Eaters. Children of his servants, standing together under the child of his Right hand, the General of Darkness, who has possessed and turned the Savior."
"What are you saying?" Pansy was visibly shocked now, as were the rest of this little rag-tag group.
"I'm saying that I have exposed you as the wolves you are. An army of Dark children banding together under a Death Eater. Dark Magic wielding rebels intent on destroying the Ministry." Blaise shook his head in amusement. "I knew you were all fools. I had no idea that it was this bad, however. I feel almost ashamed for letting myself be ruled, even if it served my best interests."
"Draco's not a Death Eater!" Potter shouted, wand griped in his hand so tightly he could see his knuckles turn white.
"Oh, Potter. You are the most deceived." Blaise made the same slashing motion and Potter choked, clutching at his throat in pain. "Dear Draco fed you such lies, didn't he? 'I'm not a Death Eater.' 'Daddy never told me what he did.' 'I didn't want to serve the Dark Lord.' 'I don't like you, Harry Potter.' Draco can act so well can't he?"
"You're lying. I know Draco as intimately as I know myself. He has been nothing but honest with me." Potter had resorted to leaning heavily on Weasley now. Granger's distressed face whirled on him.
"What are you doing to him?" Blaise decided what would be more amusing, to ignore her or to tell her the truth and let her know there was nothing she could do about it.
"Did you know that soul bonds can be manipulated? It's not easy and requires quite a bit of power and concentration, but it's possible." Blaise swirled his wand again. "If you know enough about both parties magic, you could have them gasping under the tightening and weakening of the bond. And I know Draco's magic...intimately."
Potter snarled again and Blaise amused himself by inspecting his nails before flicking his eyes to meet verdant green.
"Of course, Draco never told you about your magic, did he, Harry?" Blaise laughed as Theodore and Pansy swayed on their feet. "Slytherins only act in their best interests. Why would Lucius Malfoy who led the Dark Lord into the depths of the Ministry, who ensured his resurrection, who's wife turned her cousin's house elf against him and sent him to his death, align himself with a puny Gryffindor half-blood and his rag-tag team of Light warriors?"
He could see the shock in the Gryffindors faces and their sudden distrust. He wondered what Potter was experiencing with Draco's annoying voice screeching in his head.
"Why... why did he?" Potter asked thickly. Blaise just smiled sympathetically.
"I won't bore you with details. I'm sure hearing them from Princess Pansy and Theodore will be enough of a betrayal. I will tell you this, however." Blaise loomed close and pressed the tip of his wand into Potter's throat. "It is not blood that is so important, though that is rather high, but it is the magic and the soul that are so strongly intertwined."
Blaise stepped back and glanced around. Potter and his Gryffindors were drawn together, even as Pansy and Theo tried to move closer, they backed away.
"As for Draco's wand... Well, the Minister should be opening that delightful gift this very afternoon." Blaise waved before he stepped fully out of the room. "I'll see you in a few days, Potter, when I testify at Draco's trial."
"What was he talking about?" Harry demanded, turning on the Slytherins left in the room. "What the hell is going on here?"
"You can't believe him! We have never served the Dark Lord! We are loyal to Draco." Pansy came forward, eyes bright and sad.
"I want you to explain to me why Draco's family betrayed the Dark Lord."
"Please, Potter." Pansy wavered on her feet before Theo grabbed her arm.
"We came here to apprehend Blaise. The person who stole Draco's wand. That's what we are here for. Are you honestly just letting him get away? He lies to you and you believe him!"
"I knew we couldn't trust you!" Ron shouted. "I don't care what side of the War you lot supported. Once Dark, always Dark. We'll find a way to break this bond between Harry and Malfoy and we'll throw the lot of you in Azkaban!"
"Ron!" Hermione's voice was nearly shrill. "They aren't to blame here! Blaise had to be lying!"
"Shut up, Hermione. They're Dark Wizards, the lot of them. We would be better off just getting out of the situation altogether."
"Ronald Weasley! How dare you speak to me this way?"
"Everyone!" Harry shouted. Silence followed after and he panted. "I'm going. No one follow me. I'll figure this out by myself."
"Later." He strode neatly from the room and then broke into a run as soon as he was out of the dungeons.
Draco laid in the shadows of his cell, hands pressed tightly over his face. His mind ached from everything he had learned. He had no idea what just happened but he knew that Harry would never forgive him when he learned the truth. He had never wanted to serve the Dark Lord, in fact, he despised himself at what he had done to survive when he knew Harry would have never let himself sink so low. But Draco wasn't strong, wasn't brave enough to stand against him. Lies and subterfuge were his weapons and now those shadows would be the ones to condemn him. He wondered what would happen when the Dementors sucked out his soul. Would Harry still live or would it take his too?