Sleeping on the Edge of the Sky
Chapter 4: Walk Within My Poetry
"Do you remember..." Snape paused, his obsidian eyes flicking to his left arm then back up to Draco. "...Voldemort?" The name was murmured almost fearfully, and Draco had another flash of memory: flame-red eyes, like those of a snake, piercing through him. The eyes vanished, merging with the fluttering flames in the fireplace, and Draco shook his head. Snape lowered his eyes and continued speaking.
"He was... a very powerful wizard. He sought to rid the Wizarding world of those who were born with Muggle blood. The Death Eaters were his followers, and your father, Draco, was one of his most avid and trusted lieutenants..."
Malfoy Manor was alive with Death Eaters, their faces unmasked as they milled about the finely decorated ballroom. In the center of the room stood Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, their gold hair and pale skin catching the candlelight and making them stand out against the backdrop of black robes. Narcissa laughed at something, but even as her mouth curved into a sharp smile here eyes were somber. Every once a while she would glance at the ornate grandfather clock—and she was not the only one. In spite of the light atmosphere, a tension lingered in the group, visible only in sidelong glimpses toward the clock and the window, and in the way champagne glasses were clenched almost too tightly in white-knuckled hands.
Severus Snape was lurking in a corner next to a bust of a dour-looking sorcerer; he held a glass of dark wine in his hands but had not indulged in the liquid. At 11:41 a flash of white-gold caught his eye and he turned to see a thirteen-year-old Draco peering into the room. The boy was dressed in a black Hogwarts sweater and casual black trousers, and was clearly debating with himself as to whether or not he should enter the roomful of Death Eaters. He had, after all, not been invited, even though it was his house. Snape stole up to the blonde boy and put his hand on one of his thin shoulders.
"You should not be here."
Draco scowled up at his teacher and godfather, but neither retreated into the corridor nor attempted to enter the ballroom further. A burst of strangled laughter sounded from a group clustered near a large bay window. Peter Pettigrew was smiling anxiously at the laughing Death Eaters, his small eyes jumping nervously about. Out of everyone in the room, Pettigrew had the most reason to be nervous, because tonight was the night the Dark Lord was—on Pettigrew's information—going to seek out James and Lily Potter's secret hideout. After tonight, Voldemort would be unrivalled in power and no one would dare resist him.
Draco was surveying the room, and when he had finished with this he looked up at Snape with furrowed brows. "Why are they celebrating?"
"Never mind that," Snape replied curtly. He had just started to give the boy an encouraging nudge out the door when Lucius appeared out of thin air before them.
"Severus, there you are!" The Malfoy patriarch's eyes slid over Snape then landed on Draco, who lifted his chin defiantly, and Snape split-second decided that the best course of action would be to defend himself against Lucius' surely-upcoming wrath.
"I was just sending Draco back upstairs," he explained. Lucius smiled coldly.
"Let him stay. After all, this is the first time the Mudblood-loving fool has given the students Hallowe'en off. Come, Draco!" He wound his black-sleeved arms around his son's shoulder and steered him stiffly into the crowd.
At midnight the clock chimed; the sound was probably originally meant to resemble birdsong but somewhere along the way had gotten warped into a banshee-like shriek. The room fell silent. Amycus Carrow twisted his mask around in his doughy hands while Bellatrix Lestrange stared expectantly out the window, her dark eyes looking feverish and her chest heaving slightly as she waited for her lord. For a full minute no one moved. At 12:01 a few began exchanging dubious glances. Where was he? Surely the deed should be done by now?
The oppressive silence was broken by a distinctive popping sound, followed in rapid succession by many others. Aurors were Apparating among the Death Eaters, wands drawn and ready for a fight, and Snape had only the shortest moment in which to wonder how the Aurors had gotten past the wards when the first spell was uttered by the shocked Death Eaters. "Crucio!" Bellatrix's harsh voice rang out and immediately all hell broke loose. Between the crush of bodies and the flying spells Snape saw Draco running helter skelter, pushed this way and that, his hands small and wandless. The Potions Master made a grab for his student's arm and shoved him roughly into the corridor.
He left no room for argument, slamming the door shut just as a chandelier exploded overhead, raining knife-sharp crystals into the melee. Even as he drew his wand Snape knew there was no hope for the Death Eaters. The Dark Lord had failed his mission.
"Your mother was placed under house arrest—she had you to care for—and your father, as I mentioned earlier, was sent to Azkaban. Voldemort had disappeared, defeated by a mere child. When you died, your father sent a letter denying your mother permission to have you buried in the family plot. It was Dumbledore who decided you should be buried on the edge of the school grounds."
Snape fell silent as Draco stared, trying to process new information. The fire crackled patiently. Snape folded his hands on his desk.
"Incidentally, Draco, how did you come to be a ghost? One does not decide, after thirteen years of death, that they would rather haunt the earth."
Draco shrugged for the second time that evening. "I just...opened my eyes and realized I could see."
Snape studied him quizzically, and both the dark professor and the translucent student were thoughtfully quiet.
"Interesting," Snape muttered. "In addition to the memory loss, have you noticed anything else worth mentioning?"
Draco remembered fleeing from the Great Hall, and the frigid tugging that had accompanied the action. He haltingly explained the feeling to Snape, who frowned. "Have you experienced this tugging since then?"
As if by magic, as soon as Snape asked Draco realized that he was feeling the tugging at that very moment. It had crept up on him while he floated, enthralled by Snape's story; it felt like a frozen string had knotted itself around his middle and was attempting to pull him into the unlit corridor. "I'm feeling it now."
Snape raised his eyebrows, his questioning expression curling into a predatory one. With a brusque "Stay here!" directed at Draco, he strode to the door of the classroom and threw it open. He stood on the threshold, the jumping firelight and the fierce determination in his eyes making him look weirdly demonic. He searched the corridor, staring hard into the stone-lined darkness before his gaze rested on a spot not two feet from where he was standing. To Draco, the spot looked just as empty as the rest of the corridor, but evidently Snape saw something, for his bony hand flashed out and grabbed hold of what was seemingly air.
Draco blinked and saw that what had, seconds before, looked like empty space was no longer empty but was occupied by a boy. A Gryffindor, judging by the scarf, with short but wildly messy black hair, round glasses, a scarred forehead, and an utterly flabbergasted expression.
"Harry Potter." Snape's clipped voice was positively dripping with perverse triumph. "I might have known."