Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling, and I in now way earn any monetary profit in writing this.
In this prologue, sentences in italics are lifted directly from the canon. This chapter will be the only one that has material lifted from the book. What you see here is from Chapter 31 in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
This story is being betad by asredastheycome, who is bloody fantastic.
Twisted Roots Revised
Draco ran full tilt from his common room to the Headmaster's office before the burn in his arm even reached its peak. His cronies, Crabbe and Goyle, were huffing behind him, having a difficult time keeping up. After the news about Potter and his friends breaking into Gringott's earlier that day, it was only a matter of time before the Dark Lord summoned his followers for a counter strike. A flurry of emotions washed through him as he sprinted up to the stone gargoyle; he felt excitement, elation, trepidation, and panic all at once. It was time--the Dark Lord was coming to finish Potter once and for all, and it was time to receive his orders.
Draco skidded to a halt in front of the stone gargoyle guarding the staircase that led up to the Headmaster's office, which caused Crabbe and Goyle to barrel into him. He shoved them off, but before he could utter the password, Headmaster Snape swept through the passageway, robes billowing behind him.
"Follow me," he ordered without breaking stride or so much as looking in their direction.
"Go hide by the Room of Requirement. Use a disillusionment charm to keep yourselves hidden. If Potter goes in that room alone or with Granger and Weasley, go in after him. Do not chase him if he comes out. Do not chase anyone if they come out, keep yourselves hidden.If Potter goes in there, he will be looking for something, do you understand?" With that last comment, Snape looked at Draco meaningfully. In a flash Draco did understand; if Potter was looking for something, it meant he would need the Room of Hidden Things.
"Sir, what will he be looking for?" Draco asked.
"Not relevant," Severus snapped back. "Your job is to bring Potter to the Dark Lord alive. That is all." With a final flourish of his robes, Severus shooed Draco and his friends away as he headed out the castle doors.
"Let's go then. Hurry up," Draco commanded and the three of them backtracked to the fourth floor. The corridor was currently deserted. They each cast a Disillusionment Charm on themselves and hid behind a suit of armour at the end of the corridor.
"What do you think he's supposed to be looking for, Draco?" Crabbe asked.
"I don't know, but keep your voice down."
"This is great," Goyle whispered. "We are finally going to have a chance to show the Dark Lord what we can do. I hope we find Potter. I want to rough him up."
"We have our orders, Goyle. He is not to be harmed. Now shut up, look!"
Just then Professor McGonagall went sweeping down the other end of the corridor. And then, about ten minutes later, the suit of armour they were standing behind suddenly came to life, jumped off its plinth, and went charging down the stairs.
"Something is definitely going on now. Listen." Draco strained his ears. "Somebody is coming." All at once the thundering sound of hundreds of feet and panicked voices pounded through the corridor as students from the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw towers came through the passage.
"I wonder what... hey, check this out," Crabbe said. He flashed his friends a mischievous grin they could not see and nudged each of them to watch. Just as Draco was about to ask him what the hell he wanted, Crabbe stuck out his foot and sent a second year Gryffindor, who was already crying, sprawling. A few kids stepped on her in their panic before an older student took pity on her and picked her up. She was crying even harder now and had a small gash on her forehead.
Malfoy jerked his friend back and clamped a hand over his mouth while simultaneously shushing Goyle's laughter by driving his heel aimlessly behind him until it connected with his foot. As soon as the crowd passed, Draco let go of Crabbe.
"You idiot, Crabbe! We are supposed to stay hidden," Draco scolded.
"Oh stuff it Malfoy, I was just having some fun and nobody knew it was me did they? One of us should follow them," Crabbe scoffed.
"That is not the point. We have our orders, and I don't care how bored you're getting or how many people you want to…" But just then Draco was cut off by a bone chilling voice that could be heard clearly as though it were coming through a megaphone right next to them.
"I know that you are preparing to fight. Your efforts are futile. You cannot fight me. I do not want to kill you. I have great respect for the teachers of Hogwarts. I do not want to spill magical blood."Draco looked at his friends grimly--the time had come. "Give me Harry Potter, and none shall be harmed. Give me Harry Potter, and you will be rewarded. You have until midnight."
Goyle guffawed at that. "We will be rewarded alright. We'll bring him and the bodies of the Mudblood and blood traitor, too."
Draco did not know what to think. The Dark Lord's voice chilled his blood, and he began to feel slightly dizzy. It was not until he let out his breath in a great gasp that he even realized he had been holding it. He was scared for his family because his father was definitely out of favour with the Dark Lord. He was elated that the battle had come and he had a chance to redeem himself, but he was worried about the cost. He wished he knew where Snape was so he could find out exactly what was going on. Draco was not sure that any of the things he had done since becoming a Death Eater were worth it, but he would do whatever he had to in order to lift his father back up in Voldemort's favour. He did not want his parents dead, and he most definitely did not want to die himself.
Several more minutes passed in relative silence. Crabbe and Goyle stared dumbly around them when the sound of footsteps and voices, this time more orderly and slightly more subdued, could be heard approaching. Draco saw Filch proceed to the blank wall with Longbottom and all the Slytherins crowded behind him, Pansy Parkinson at the front of the pack. She was looking wild eyed around herself and demanding in a loud agitated voice why all the traitors didn't just hand Potter over. After all, he was right there… Draco sucked in his breath at that comment. He is here. And where are they going?
Longbottom passed in front of the blank wall three times, and the door appeared. At once Filch started shepherding students through the wall ordering them to the portrait hole that would lead them off of Hogwarts grounds.
"What the bloody hell are they going in there for?" Crabbe asked.
"Evacuating, apparently. Longbottom must have found a way out while he was staying in there. Now shut up you moron!" Draco hissed.
Draco watched with consternation as students piled through the door. He could not help but notice as each house passed that none of the Slytherins stayed to fight. There were several older students missing from the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff houses, and virtually no sixth or seventh year Gryffindors went through the door. So much for Slytherin loyalty, he thought. People are right. Slytherins are bloody, effing cowards.
Draco started to shake in anger and anticipation as noises of battle could be heard. The castle was beginning to shake as people started to fight and run about, and all manner of creatures crashed against the walls.
After what felt like an eon of impatiently waiting, the door opened again and some more students from Hogwarts past came pouring out along with several Aurors. And, finally, Potter came sprinting up one side of the hallway just as Granger and Weasley came skidding around the other corner bearing what appeared to be - fangs? Weasley was also carrying a broomstick. Draco could feel Crabbe and Goyle prickling with excitement at being within a hairsbreadth of finally catching Potter. The walls gave another great tremble just as the trio went back in the Room of Requirement. It was impossible for Draco to hear anything they were saying. He had no idea if they were going into the Room of Hidden Things or something else all together. He waited a couple more minutes and then whispered for Crabbe and Goyle to slowly follow him as they crept up to the wall.
Just then the door burst open again, and Draco's cousin, Tonks, from his blood traitor aunt's side came out with the Weasley girl and, of course, Potter and his group. By this point the sound of screams and running people and giants was a deafening roar. The Weasley girl and Tonks both ran to join the fray. Weasley almost ran right into Draco, but he sucked in his breath and pressed against the wall and she did not notice.
"Let's hope he steps on some of them!"Draco heard Ron say.
Come on, Draco thought with desperation, go in the room, and go alone. He knew that with all these people around Potter he would never be able to capture him, but if it was just three on three in the Room, or better yet, three to one… then his prayers were answered. After a couple more minutes of arguing and shouting, the corridor finally cleared and Draco could hear Harry clearly ask the Room to give him exactly what they all needed. Crabbe made a great lunge forward as if to go through the door while it was still opened but Draco held him back and let the wall become blank once more.
"What the hell did you do that for, Malfoy? He was right there!" Goyle bellowed angrily.
"Because, you idiot, I know how to get in there. And, in there, they don't have back up! We can take them by surprise. And besides, maybe we can find out what it is they are after. If we get that, too, it could be important to the Dark Lord. Now let's go."
Draco's Disillusioned form shimmered slightly as he quickly passed in front of the wall thinking fiercely, 'I need the room where the hidden things are,' and at the third pass the door slowly appeared. He was slightly afraid it would not. Once they were inside, they did the countercharm so they were visible to each other and as a group started running through the aisles towards the sound of the Golden Trio's voices. After quietly manoeuvring through several aisles and hundreds of years of abandoned junk, Draco turned right into the aisle that he was looking for. Crabbe and Goyle halted one on each side of him just in time to see Potter reaching out for something in front of him.
"Hold it Potter."Potter abruptly stopped and turned around. A surge of anger ripped through him as he saw his own wand in Potter's outstretched hand.
"That's my wand you're holding, Potter,"he said, pointing.
"Not anymore," panted Harry. "Winner's, keepers, Malfoy. Who's lent you theirs?"
"My mother," said Draco.
Potter laughed humourlessly and slowly backed up without taking his eyes off of Malfoy. Draco's anger resurfaced anew at his laughter.
"So how come you three aren't with Voldemort?" asked Harry.
"We're gonna be rewarded,"Crabbe said softly. "We 'ung back, Potter. We decided not to go. Decided to bring you to 'im."
"Good plan,"said Harry. "So, how did you get in here?"He took another step backward.
Draco's patience was wearing thin. "I virtually lived in the Room of Hidden Things all last year. I know how to get in."
"We was hiding in the corridor outside," grunted Goyle. "We can do Diss-lusion Charms now! And then," His face split into a gormless grin, "you turned up right in front of us and said you was looking for a die-dum! What's a die-dum?"
Draco inwardly cringed at his affiliate's pathetic sounding speech. It is impossible to sound menacing when you talk like a baboon. Thank Merlin he is huge, thought Draco. Just then, Weasley was calling for Harry. Draco tensed ready for the confrontation that he knew was only moments away.
Before Draco could turn around to look for Weasley, Crabbe pointed his wand at a shelf and cried out a spell to knock it down. Harry shouted a spell to stabilize the wall, much to Draco's relief.
"No!" shouted Malfoy, staying Crabbe's arm as the latter made to repeat the spell. "If you wreck the room you bury this diadem thing!"
"What's the matter?" said Crabbe, tugging himself free. "It's Potter the Dark Lord wants, who cares about the die-dum?"
"Potter came in here to get it,"said Malfoy impatiently. "So that must mean--"
"'Must mean'? Who cares what you think? I don't' take your orders no more, Draco. You an' your dad are finished."
Draco's fist clenched around his wand and took all his power to keep from hexing the idiot right in front of Potter and his stupid friends. Crabbe was power hungry and stupid, but he had always been loyal and right then Draco was not only angry but a little hurt. Crabbe's taunting Harry quickly helped him refocus and he looked at Potter in time to see him lunge for the tiara and to see Crabbe aim a Crucio at him.
"STOP! The Dark Lord wants him alive…"Malfoy shouted.
"So, I'm not killing him, am I?"yelled Crabbe. "But if I can, I will, the Dark Lord wants him dead anyway, what's the diff --?" Draco yanked Crabbe out of the way of a stunning spell that Granger shot over Potter's shoulder. Crabbe immediately retaliated with an Avada Kedavra. Draco was furious that he had aimed to kill. Crabbe dodged another stunner and in so doing knocked Malfoy's wand out of his hand.
"Don't kill him! DON'T KILL HIM!"Draco shouted. Fear now mixing with his fury at being completely defenceless now that he had successfully managed to lose the only wand his small family had left. Potter took advantage of that moment's hesitation to disarm Goyle and Granger immediately stunned him. Cripes, now we are really screwed,Draco thought with panic. Crabbe was tossing his head around like a maniac, casting killing curses like crazy. Potter and his colleagues started running for the door and Draco immediately followed after determined to take him down with his bare hands if he had to. He secretly harboured no hope of succeeding in the mission, especially since Crabbe took that moment to unleash a tide of Fiendfyre from his wand, effectively destroying all of their chances of survival.
"You stupid oaf!" Draco shouted at him. "You have no idea how to control this! Now we are all going to die!"
Draco grabbed a hold of Goyle and started dragging him as fast as he could, beginning to panic. The fiends in the fire taunted him as it roared closer. He had never been more frightened for his life. Then again, if he failed this mission, he would surely be dead anyway, and Goyle was really heavy…
Despite it all, Draco kept moving. Weasley had managed to find a couple of old brooms amongst all the debris of time gone by and he hefted Granger on one with him. And then, of all the things he never thought would happen, he then came swooping down to save them. Draco reached out an arm for Potter's broom, but Goyle was weighing them down.
"IF WE DIE FOR THEM, I'LL KILL YOU HARRY!"Ron bellowed and Draco thought how inconvenient it was at a time like this to make stupid jokes. Granger hefted Goyle onto their broom and Draco leapt a little more gracefully behind Potter. Crabbe had disappeared in the smoke, consumed by his own inept handiwork. Draco could not help but feel regret and a little pain at the loss of his friend and he did not need Potter shouting it at him to know that there was no hope there. All of a sudden, Potter made a smooth turn to reach out for the old tiara he was after in the first place.
"What are you doing, what are you doing, the door's that way!"Draco screamed, terrified. Harry lunged for the diadem grasping it with his quick reflexes and yanking the broom up narrowly avoiding the mouth of a fiery serpent as it opened wide in an attempt to consume them whole. They finally made it outside the room and with a flourish, Potter dumped Draco off of his broom. While Draco laid facedown, coughing and retching on the floor, he silently vowed to take back every time he made fun of Harry for his stupid Gryffindor bravery. And if he lived through the night, he was determined to just maybe tell him that.
"C-Crabbe," choked Malfoy as soon as he could speak.
"He's dead," said Ron harshly.Well, no shit, thought Draco sarcastically. Weasley would probably never get any kind of apology from him, even if he had saved Goyle.
Draco continued to lie where he was as more bangs and shudders ripped through the castle. Potter had run off with his friends, and Draco did not know what to do. Crabbe was dead, he had no wand to enervate Goyle, and he would surely die for not catching Potter. He needed to find Snape. His godfather would know what to do. He had been on his side from the beginning. But Draco held little confidence that even his godfather could save him now…
Resolving to at least get out of the castle and into the forest to find his parents, Draco unceremoniously stuffed Goyle behind the plinth the suit of armour was once sitting on and took off down the hall. He hoped that people would think Goyle was dead and just leave him alone.
The battle raged around him as he ran defenceless through the corridors, dodging spells and blows. On the upper landing, he ran smack into the middle of a fierce battle going on between Dean Thomas and some Death Eaters. Other students were running around throwing Snargaluff Pods. Draco was screaming into the fray, hoping the Death Eaters would hear him.
"I'm Draco Malfoy! I'm Draco! I'm on your side!"he pleaded with a Death Eater, who was advancing on him, wand drawn. Someone stunned the Death Eater from behind and Draco turned around with words of gratitude on his lips when a hard, heavy and invisible fist connected full force with his mouth. He fell on the stunned Death Eater, bleeding and in shock.
"And that's the second time we've saved your life tonight, you two-faced bastard!"Draco recognized Weasley's voice and knew that his life debts were now two-fold all in the matter of one night. This was ridiculous; he needed to find a way out or at least a place to hide.
Draco numbly dragged himself up and staggered through the now emptying entry way as the battle moved outside. His head was still reeling from the blow Weasley had given him and worry and fatigue were overpowering him. He made it as far as the shattered hourglasses in the front of the entrance hall and slid between the wall and the remains of Hufflepuff's hourglass stand. He would be relatively hidden here, even if the battle moved back inside. He didn't know what to do or even what to think. He needed to find his parents, but he was defenseless and did not know where they were. He was scared for himself, scared for his family; he was even scared for Potter. For the first time since this all started, he finally took a second to ask himself what he had gotten himself into. He should have listened to Dumbledore on the Astronomy tower that night… He could have been protected.
After what could have been minutes, or maybe hours, Draco couldn't discern in his warped state of mind, Voldemort's sibilant voice echoed through the halls again. He was calling a temporary ceasefire. Thank Merlin, Draco thought, now I can try to find my parents.
People started trickling back into the castle and Draco felt his arm burn. He knew that he was to report to the forest to meet with his Lord. He had to find them, but he didn't dare try to go out the large front doors and risk getting caught by anyone. His chances of making it through the night increased significantly if he remained hidden. Draco fervently hoped that Potter would somehow succeed and end this once and for all. He prayed that his parents would not suffer for Draco's refusal to show up in the forest. He hunched back in his nook and watched more people stumble in the castle and shook like the coward he was. He waited for the entrance to clear so he could at least attemptto get outside.
Draco grew increasingly more worried as time went on. The Dark Lord's ultimatum was about to run out of time and there was still no sign of Potter. Draco also wondered if Snape was with the Dark Lord. Probably, although there was no doubts in his mind that many people were being punished for not being able to successfully capture Potter. Finally, Draco summoned his courage to sneak out of the castle.
He carefully edged his way behind the Ravenclaw hourglass stand and slipped out the front doors. The grounds were eerily quiet as he crept to a little alcove on the side of the steps outside the great doors and hid in the darkness. He was about to dash across the lawn into the edge of the forest when Voldemort's voice echoed again. He could see a line of people making their way out of the forest in a long line. Voldemort was at the front of the group, followed immediately by - Hagrid? And a great gasp filled the air as the large group of people streaming out of the castle recognized the bundle in his arms as a dead Harry Potter.
Draco immediately began to feel intense relief that the Dark Lord was finally satisfied, but he was still completely terrified for what was going to happen to his family, for surely they would still be punished just as they had been all year. He also felt the unfamiliar sensation of guilt as he realised that there was a life debt he owed Harry Potter that would never be paid. It was with numb disbelief that he listened to the Dark Lord address the crowd, taunting them and offering them sanctuary at the same time. All they had to do was change sides. Change sides,he thought bitterly. There should have never been a side to choose. Fine time to realize that. With Voldemort in charge, there would be no asylum for anyone.
Draco ignored all that was going on around him and used the safety of his alcove to search for his parents. He scanned the crowd for their prominent blond hair. Sure enough, about halfway down the line of Death Eaters on Voldemort's left, they were visible. Draco just had to get to them so they would know he was alive too. After a few minutes of staring at his parents, he dragged his eyes away to see what was happening as a new commotion broke out in the centre of the lawn between the Death Eaters and everyone else. Harry had disappeared, and Longbottom, of all people, was hacking the head off of Voldemort's beloved snake. At once the battle started anew.
Draco took advantage of the renewed chaos to sprint across the field right to his parents. They saw him running helplessly through haze of flying spells and hurried toward him as well. All three of them were unarmed and running blindly through the spider's web of curses, but somehow they miraculously reached each other, alive and unharmed.
"Mother! Father! Thank Merlin you are alive." Draco practically sobbed.
Lucius yanked Draco to his feet and began running with him toward the castle. "Come, hurry, we must make it inside. We can't defend ourselves or fight, but we have to at least stay with the group."
"Why? Why can't we just leave and hide?"
"Hide, Draco? Is that what you have been doing this whole time? If the Dark Lord wins, he will kill us if we run. He will not forgive me one more transgression. Now move!"
As a group, they dodged duelling wizards to make it into the Great Hall where most of the battle was taking place. They entered the room just in time to see the Weasley matriarch take down Bellatrix Lestrange with a well aimed killing curse. Narcissa Malfoy gasped and fell to her knees as she watched her sister fall down gracefully and slowly, almost as if it was intentional.
Lucius dragged her sobbing form to a corner of the room to hopefully ride out the rest of the battle. Draco's attention, however, had snapped to Voldemort. He was circling a very much alive Potter.
"He's alive!" Draco gasped.
Narcissa was trembling and mumbling into her husband's chest. He patted her head as if trying to calm her down, whispering platitudes to her about her dead sister. But she snapped her head up and looked at her husband with fear, not sorrow, in her eyes.
"I betrayed him, Lucius,' she sobbed. 'When he asked me if the boy was dead, I lied. I asked Potter if he had seen Draco, and if he was alive, and when he said yes, I lied to the Dark Lord! The only way we will survive the night is if Potter succeeds!"
Draco was stunned. He was astounded at his mother's courage and her words tumbled upon each other in his brain as he tried to process them. His world had been collapsing around him all night, and he did not know how much more he could take. The Great Hall had gone eerily silent as everyone listened to Harry and Voldemort speaking to each other. They were talking about Snape, something about Snape loving Lily Potter and being Dumbledore's man through and through. But they were talking in the past tense. Was Snape dead? Draco's head began to swim with the grief of it all. His godfather, gone. The rest of the conversation was lost on him as his ears clouded over and his vision blurred. He was shaking with rage at his father for getting the family involved with this mess in the first place. He barely registered any emotion at all when Harry's Expelliarmus sent Voldemort's killing curse right back at him; the Dark Lord was no more.
The small family sat huddled together as the aftermath of the battle died down. Time slowly passed as they sat there, each deep in their own thoughts. Harry and his friends left the Great Hall; others started carrying in more bodies. Death Eaters scattered, leaving their dead. Draco shook his head with repugnance as he watched their disloyalty. He then shook his own head in disgust at himself for all the bad decisions he had made in his life. He sat still and silent, seething in his own anger at himself, and the war, and everything else. He stared at the dead bodies around him and was shocked each time he recognized more and more of the faces. Creevey was dead, that annoying little bastard with the camera; Lupin and Draco's cousin, Tonks, were both dead, too. That was a shame; they had just had a child--another orphaned boy because of Voldemort. And then he saw Fred Weasley lying peacefully on the floor with a ghost of a smile on his face. Draco felt a particularly strong twinge of grief at the sight. He never particularly liked the Weasleys, of course, but the twins were always good for a laugh.
Standing above Fred's body was Granger. She was unabashedly crying, tears streaked the blood and dirt on her face, her shoulders hunched and shaking. Draco was slightly envious of her ability to let her emotions loose. The last time he had seen her was at the Manor, and she had looked terrible then, pale and too thin. At the time, he had not really considered what her time on the run with Potter had been like because she had still been strong and had not cracked even a little under Bellatrix's torture. This girl was different. She had aged years in the last few months. She was even thinner, and she looked ragged and heartbroken as she gazed around at the devastation. As Draco stared at her, he realized how great her losses must have been because most of the bodies were those of Gryffindors, her friends. The guilt from Draco's own involvement in Hermione's pain weighed on his chest like a boulder.
She must have sensed him staring at her because she slowly turned her gaze in his direction. For a split second, Draco considered looking away because he did not want to see the anger and blame that he knew she felt. He did not want to see accusation in her eyes for belonging to the group that had done this. But he could not look away, and the look in her eyes when they met his was not at all what he expected. Her question was so clear it could have been written on her forehead: Why?She was right to ask. Why did any of this have to happen?
In truth, Draco had no idea, and he tried to tell her that with his eyes. He felt she must have understood because she slightly inclined her head in his direction, straightened her shoulders, and walked away. There was no blame there, only sadness and confusion.
"What do we do now, Lucius?" Narcissa asked. But it was not Lucius who answered her.
"We wait here for the Aurors to arrest us. We take our punishments, and this time we learn," Draco said with finality.
A/N: If you have already read Twisted Roots and are revisiting this story, you are awesome, and you made the wise choice because this one will be quite different than the original.
If you are new to this story, thanks so much for reading, and please leave a review they are immensely heart warming when they are kind, and equally helpful when they hold constructive criticism.