I unfortunately don't own the world of Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling does.
Thank you to my wonderful beta, Book. Freak112233 !
Just a quick thanks to xXMizz Alec VolturiXx, TheEscapeFromReality, panneler-san, ruler of dragons, Allen Pitt, lilyann96, amdragjakelong'sgurl, Skylar97, I-Angel92, meandthedoctor, Crazyhyper09, waterpixie131, 21stCenturyMarauder, BionicWafflle, Omlg, He4artBreaker101, AusAshMommy, Lady Sahara, AnjuAddams, sapurplemonkey, and ChairmanMeow1409.
Also, I know people have suggested that I take on a co-author and/or concentrate on one story. I am sorry it takes so long. However, I have future plans for these stories and I prefer working alone. I am grateful that everyone keeps reading and puts up with me. Thank you for this suggestion, but though I am busy, I am also very dedicated to these stories. Thank you! :)
Now on with the story! :)
Rumours of Truth Hidden
Curling up once more in her private room, Ariella tried to keep from shaking. It had been two days since the incident. Theo was fine; apart from a minor concussion and some light bruising that Madame Pomprey quickly helped cure. For that she was relieved, though she hated that he hadn't gotten hurt because of her in the first place. She was scared, though. What Avery and the others would do, she didn't yet know. All she knew was that it couldn't end well for her, not at all. She was terrified about what would happen. Yet all she could do was wait for time to reveal what would happen and be there, serving diligently. Gulping, she grabbed her knees, a nervous wreck. She had a horrid feeling.
Draco sat down in the Great Hall for breakfast, tired and stressed. He didn't want to go to class, but luckily, it was a lighter load today. The hoot of owls made him look up. Sighing, he lazily opened his copy of The Daily Prophet as it was dropped in front of it. However, his eyes widened as he read one of the headlines.
Personal Malfoy Property Discovered by Rita Skeeter. See page five for full story.
Draco paled as he quickly turned to the correct page, feeling his blood run cold as he began reading the article.
Looking at fifth year Ariella Lyons, one wouldn't suspect anything out of the ordinary. Yet, as fellow Slytherins revealed recently and unknowingly in a confrontation, there is more that meets the eye. New insight informs me that she is in actually property of the Malfoy family. Rumour has it that her family was in trouble and this was the only way to keep themselves and her safe. Now she lives with and serves the Malfoy family to make up for her parents' mistake. According to other students, she is often seen around the Malfoy heir. She has even been seen kneeling beside his seat on more than once occasion. So the real question is, who is she really, and what else is the property that is Ariella Lyons hiding?
Draco clenched his fists and jaw, before striding quickly out of the Great Hall, breakfast forgotten. Heading towards the Common Room, he quickly ducked into an empty corridor. Sighing, he decided to seek her out, even though he knew she had asked him not to. This was an emergency. Closing his eyes, he let himself be whisked to where she was.
Knowing she would be at his feet, he immediately held out his hand, his body still tense.
Ariella took one look up and froze, deciding to stay where she was, hoping the bond wouldn't punish her for it. Luckily, it didn't, though why she wasn't sure. Not that she was going to question it.
"What happened?" she asked quietly.
"Rita Skeeter wrote an article…about you," he replied tersely.
"What? I – " her eyes widened as she realized this was because of what had happened two days ago.
"I – I'm so sorry. I – this is my fault. Two – "
"Ariella," Draco said simply, pausing her needless apology. "Nott told me what happened. I don't blame you."
"Yes. He told me everything he knew. Can you fill in the blanks?"
"Af – after he was knocked out, Avery started slashing through my clothes with a cutting spell. He didn't do it carefully and he started to see part of the mark. He cut the rest of my sleeve away to reveal it fully. He – he then backhanded me, and then let me go. I – I don't know how she found out."
Draco nodded once, thinking over what Nott had originally told him. How Avery and his gang had come up behind them. How they had held him down, making him watch as they had held her against her will, trying to – to rape her. They thought she was his whore. That not only disgusted him, but almost scared him as well. Not that he would admit any of this aloud of course.
"What's going to happen to me now?"
Draco was silent, but he once again held out his hand. When she didn't take it, he said her name quietly, noting she was looking down. She was scared, he realized. But for once, it wasn't of him. He could see that much. Once she looked up at him, he flicked his hand, gesturing for her to take it. Staring at it for a moment, she obeyed the silent command.
"I don't know," he said quietly. "I – I didn't mean to find you through the bond. I know you didn't want that to be used, but – "
"I understand; it was an emergency. And – "
But she stopped, hissing in pain. She had spoken so quickly and without thought. But she wasn't allowed to interrupt her masters and mistress.
Tensing again, Draco slipped his hand to her mark, silently forgiving her once more. "When not in front of those with authority over you, other than myself, you may speak freely, interruptions included."
Ariella's eyes widened slightly, but she bowed her head a bit. "Thank you." She was silent for a moment, before speaking again. "Why are you giving me so much leeway?"
"Nott told me the thing you hate most is being forced into total submission. I told you last time I was here I don't think of you as property. I'm trying to give you back what anyone else would be able to do in the first place." He admitted, looking at a point on the wall instead of meeting her eye.
"Thank you," she repeated.
He just nodded once though, internally embarrassed. Yet he owed it to her to be at least a bit truthful. Especially if she had no choice in the matter when roles were reversed.
"What are you going to do? About Skeeter's article. This won't be good for your family or you."
"I'll figure it out as it comes up."
"I – I don't expect or – or want you to defend me. I can handle whatever's said. It won't be anything I haven't heard before," she said, and Draco looked at her as she spoke, noticing the timidness with which she said this. Then he realized what she had said.
"What do you mean, 'it's nothing you haven't heard before?'"
She paled, looking away. "I've gotten asked before if I enjoyed acting like your slave, and things like it," she answered in a quiet voice, ashamed.
"What? When did this even happen?"
"Once was after I kneeled behind you in the Great Hall. And - people talk. Even if they don't think it's true.
"Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Should I have?"
"You – why would you think not to tell me?"
"It's not something the bond required me to tell you, and it's not like they knew what was happening."
Draco nodded, his expression tight and unreadable.
"Draco? I – I am sorry. I never meant for anything like this to happen. Are – you're sure you'll be all right with this?"
"I'm fine," replied Draco forcefully. "Though next time, if you're in trouble like that, you can try and reach me. Through the bond, I mean. It – I know it'll punish you, as you're asking a favor, but I'll take care of it."
She nodded, noticing how cold his tone was, how rigid he was standing. Unconsciously, she felt the bond telling her to help him, but she didn't know what to do. Draco noticed she was still shaking a little bit.
"I'm going to talk with my father and Nott. Don't worry about it."
"Draco, how – how can I not? I – I – "
"Ariella, calm down," he said. Immediately, she felt calm spread through her body. Though she still felt nerves, she felt them calm as her body obeyed the order. Draco didn't seem to realize what had happened due to his unintentional order.
"I'll take care of it," he repeated, seeing her body relax slightly, though why he couldn't say. Then he thought of something else, something from her story.
"Ariella, what happened to the clothes Avery destroyed?"
He noticed she paled, but began to answer him nevertheless. "I – I clung to them and once I got back here, I – I tried mending them with needle and thread. I – I'm afraid I couldn't do it, since they were magically cut, and it wasn't a simple tear," she replied, and Draco noted the fear that had crept back into her voice.
"What are you going to do?"
"What do you mean?" he responded, his gaze sharp.
"Well – I ruined your property. Maybe not directly, but the robes and shirt are no longer what they once were."
"Let me see them," he instructed.
Gulping, she silently obeyed, holding out the ruined uniform pieces for her younger master to see, her head bowed as she refused to meet his gaze.
"You're right – these are beyond repairable. And – you've been wearing these? Haven't you ever gotten new clothes?" he exclaimed, seeing the fading and ripping not due to Avery's spell. He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed it before, but then, seeing her in them every day, he had never truly looked closely at them. Now, he wished he had.
"N – no, sir. They were hand-me-downs. Your father said I should be grateful I was getting anything at all, sir. I – I am, too."
Draco stared at her in shock for a moment, before doing some quick thinking. "When we get back to the Manor, I can give you some of my old robes. They aren't quite as worn, and they'll fit you better, since you're – smaller than I am," he said, searching for the right word to describe the starved–thin girl in front of him.
"Th – "
"Don't thank me. You don't need to. Not for something like this."
Taking a deep breath to calm himself, to regain his focus and composure, he then said, "Stay in here for as long as you need. If my father asks, because Umbridge tells him, I'll deal with it. Rest, read, do whatever you want; just – try to relax."
She nodded, looking a bit relieved. However, as opened her mouth to reply, she suddenly gasped in pain instead, her hand immediately moving towards the mark.
"Am – can I leave?" she asked, practically begging permission.
"If you need to leave, go," Draco replied, eyes wide. Ariella shakily nodded, before she touched her mark, whisking her away to Malfoy Manor.
Ariella landed hard on the wooden floor. Immediately, she got to her knees, her head bowed. Mr. Malfoy had summoned her, and she knew for sure she was in trouble.
"What is the meaning of this?" he hissed, throwing a copy of The Daily Prophet at her. Now she was incredibly grateful to Draco that he had come to her, letting her know what was going on.
"I – I don't know how she found out, I swear, sir!"
"I'm half tempted to pull you from Hogwarts now," he replied. Her eyes widened, though Lucius didn't see, as they were still downcast. He couldn't do that. He just – she didn't think she could bear it if she had to live at the Manor for the full year.
"However," Lucius continued. "That would only punish Draco, not you."
"You will still attend Hogwarts. You shall obey Draco as usual. However, you shall still stay away from class and out of sight whenever possible. You shall be on the sidelines. You will do exactly as he says. For I will hear about it if you aren't obeying my son. Do you understand?"
"Yes Mr. Malfoy. I understand your instructions," she replied obediently.
"Good," he said coldly. "Furthermore, you are forbidden to tell anyone of your position without explicit permission from a Malfoy."
"You will stay here until I deal with this. You shall not leave the manor. However, first I shall deal with you," he sneered, and Ariella braced herself for the punishment she knew would come.
Harry stared at Skeeter's article, unsure if he was even reading correctly. He almost wished she had written about him again instead. He wondered what would happen to her. Worse – how had Skeeter even found out? He knew the Malfoy family and Ariella were trying to keep this a secret. Now, how would he deal if people asked him? He decided then he wouldn't say much. It wasn't his secret to tell, after all.
Draco was growing concerned, though he made sure not to show it, as he went to go talk to Theodore Nott. The Malfoy heir tried to ignore the stares and whispers that seemed to follow him everywhere.
"Nott," he greeted simply. The other boy looked up and nodded once, before throwing up a silencing bubble around them, so they wouldn't be overheard.
"What are you going to do?"
"Wait until my father sends for me, I suppose. I've told her to stay out of the way, but I think my father sent for her."
"That can't be good."
"What can you tell me about the other night? How would Skeeter have found out?"
"I don't know. I didn't even sense another person hiding out, watching. But I was shocked that they even thought she was that to you. I can see what it might look like, but still… And then they wanted me to share as if she were just – "
" – just property," Draco finished solemnly. Nott paled, but nodded nonetheless.
"I've never thought about her that way. Ever." Malfoy confided.
"If it makes you feel any better, neither have I," Nott said.
Malfoy just nodded in response. He was at a loss for what to do now, besides wait for events to reveal themselves.
"I'm not going to leave, you know. Just because a rumour of the truth has come out. I'm not going to stop helping her," Theodore told him quietly.
Draco looked up, and whispered two words Theodore Nott was pretty sure he had never before heard from the other boy's mouth. "Thank you."
Thanks to all who are reading and enjoying this story. If you have any suggestions, (i.e. would like to see something happen, etc.) questions, or comments, please feel free to private message me. Thanks! ~ Leanora