Disclaimer: I do not claim to own the Harry Potter series or any of its related topics. Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling and in respect to its creator, this fan fiction was created for entertainment purposes only, and is not part of the official story line. The plot is mine and any other characters you do not recognize. No reader/reviewer is authorized to post/translate this story anywhere else without my permission.
A/N: This story discards everything that happened in Book 6 and 7.
Title: Alexander Draco Malfoy
Author: Aoi Megami
Chapter Title: Stealing from Bellatrix Lestrange
It was like any other guest room inside Parkinson Manor, complete with a carpeted floor, a four poster bed and a private bath. Lengthy drapery separated the room from unwanted eyes, the room was dark, and not a single candle light lit the room. In fact, the only sign of life inside was the constant shuffling of tattered boots on an unspoiled carpet.
He waited—patiently, might he add for the one creature he didn't think possible to be an important factor in taking the Dark Lord down. Truth be told, he had absolutely no idea what had gotten into him to trust the tiny little creature with something so important a task as switching the two Slytherin lockets. Well—he knew what—it was that five-feet-six creature with honey brown eyes he calls a wife. But as time dragged on, and passing through the tiny cracks between the thick drapes were the rays of the rising sun, he started to slowly lose hope.
It was taking too long, even though, deep down, he knew, that doing such a dangerous task—especially under Bellatrix Lestrange's nose—would take perfect timing.
He stopped pacing, sighed exasperatedly at his impatient behavior, and slowly dragged his heavy feet towards the lone mirror in the room. He opened his eyes and he nearly flinched at his own reflection. Marcus Flint's face scowled right back at him. To have dealt a deal with the frightened house elf with this face would cause doubt to any being. He wouldn't trust this face either. Rampant questions filtered in through his head. What if the elf betrayed him? No if it did, he'd be caught by now. But what if—no! He shook his head. Negative thoughts would not help him. He needed to do something—anything.
He reached into his pockets as an idea formed in his head. In one of his pockets—with an extension charm, like Hermione's beaded bag—he pulled out a long sinewy cloak. It was Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. The Gryffindor had leant it to him when he started out his double agent missions. The other man clearly stressed he wanted it back when his missions stopped; Draco just simply forgot to return it when he was exposed as a spy the first time. He was glad he forgot to return it.
He pulled the cloak on and opened the door slowly, peering through the tiny crack to make sure nobody was present in the hallway before exiting Marcus's room. He walked lightly, like a snake slithering on the floor, neither making any sounds that would alert anybody should they happen to walk past by him. He'd mastered such a trait at such a young age when he would purposely sneak down to the kitchen to grab an extra bite of sweet without his parents knowing.
It was like his feet had a mind of its own. Instead of going to his demented Aunt's room, he found himself threading over to the Dark Lord's private parlor. Call it a gut feeling, but there was something drawing him there, something important.
When he reached the doors to the parlor, he listened in through the door for any signs of life inside the room—nothing. He grasped the brass knobs to open the door but found it lock. He didn't bother using any spells, for it may alert the person who'd put up the lock on the door, or it could simply be traced back to him.
Getting in there wasn't a problem at all. He'd spent the majority of his childhood in this mansion, playing with Pansy and Blaise that he knew all the secret doors that led to each particular room. When he found what he was looking for and was finally inside the locked room, with its familiar surroundings, he couldn't help but stay rooted on the spot by the wall where he had entered. The room was suffocating, he was afraid that if he touched just one thing, he—the Dark Lord—would know. And he needed that wand back, but he was very sure the Dark Lord wouldn't just leave it lying around.
He didn't know how long he'd been standing there. Yes, it was reckless and dangerous, he knew that. And yet, there was this nagging feeling that he had to stay there, to wait. And he did. But for what—he didn't know.
He didn't have to wait any longer for the slight sound of the knob turning, alerted him. It made him lean hard against the wall, his eyes widened and his breathing hitched as he watched the door slowly open and in came Rodolphus Lestrange and the Dark Lord himself.
It was bad—very bad. He needed to get out of there, quickly. He looked around, searching for a way out, he knew that if he got stuck there then he'd likely be caught and killed immediately. He inched slowly towards the door because he knew it was his safest bet of leaving the room. His eyes were trained at the two new occupants as he, as quietly as possible, slid slowly towards his destination.
"But my Lord," Rodolphus sounded worried. "Returning all your forces back here from Russia would surely destroy everything we've planned for the takeover," he explained.
The Dark Lord turned angrily towards him, making Draco afraid that he stopped his progress before realizing he was invisible and that he wasn't the recipient of that glare before he continued his slow trek towards the door.
"They were there," the Dark Lord seethed.
"Merely used the grounds as a shelter after the attack on Grimmauld Place," Rodolphus argued. Draco silently commended his uncle for actually disagreeing over something with the Dark Lord. By this time, he was already by the door, waiting for his chance to escape, silently hoping that they would get on with their conversation, so that he could gather as much information as he could without getting caught in the process.
"I don't care what they used the grounds for, I want every Death Eater protecting that place," the Dark Lord growled in anger. "I did not gather my strength back for it to be destroyed yet again," he snarled, his anger rising at every word he uttered.
Draco frowned in confusion.
He knew that Dark Lord was weakened; it was during the time after he graduated Hogwarts. Everyone from the Order wanted to attack Parkinson Manor but Dumbledore saved everyone by telling them about the Horcruxes the Dark Lord made. Any attempt on his life at that time would've been futile.
The decline on the Dark Lord's health had always been a mystery. Nobody knew how and why and it remained that way. If the Dark Lord was getting his strength back, then they really needed to pick up the pace and destroy all the remaining Horcrux and finally end this war.
It was easier said than done.
"As you wish my Lord," Draco was snapped out of his thoughts by Rodolphus' words, finally relenting towards his Master's decision.
A knock on the door quickly alerted Draco that this was his chance of escape.
"Enter," the Dark Lord's lazy drawl alerted the individual from the other side of the room. A man entered, trembling, his hand held the door knob as he stood by open door. Draco quickly took action and slithered towards the small spot in between the man and his chance of escape.
"Greyback sent word that Hogwarts is fully in our possession," the man announced.
"Very well," the Dark Lord gave a stiff nod, dismissing the man.
Draco was already out the room, the man following just behind him.
"Wait," the Dark Lord stopped the trembling man. The tone in the Dark Lord's voice made Draco stop in his haste to escape down the hall and back to the confines of Marcus Flint's private room. The strength in the voice made him turn to look back and when he did, he fully regretted his decision.
It was impossible. The Dark Lord could not be looking at him. He was under the Invisibility cloak for Merlin's sake. And yet, he couldn't fathom as to why the Dark Lord seemed to be looking at him straight in the eye.
"My Lord?" the man before Draco trembled more in fear.
"Alert Greyback that I would soon be joining him in protecting Hogwarts," the danger in the Dark Lord's voice sent shivers up and down Draco's spine.
"Yes, my lord," the man bowed before moving to close the door, shutting the connection between Draco and the Dark Lord.
He knew there was another argument going on behind that closed door. But he couldn't hear a word due to the silencing spells that protected the room. Knowing his Uncle, he was probably trying to persuade the Dark Lord to remain in Parkinson Manor, that would buy him time to warn the Order.
He finally found the ability to move his legs when the realization hit him. He was quickly walking towards his room. He had a lot to do. He needed to warn the Order, they needed to retake possession of Hogwarts as soon as possible.
If the Dark Lord was planning on focusing his forces there, then penetrating the place would soon be impossible. They'd lose the chance of finally finding Ravenclaw's diadem. The worst case scenario is if the Dark Lord decides to relocate the artifact, then finding it again could take months and months of research and spying. And quite honestly, he didn't fancy the idea of spying for the rest of his life under Marcus Flint's identity.
More and more questions seemed to rattle his focus and he needed to get back on the task at hand. He finally reached the doors to his room, silently hoping that the house-elf was more successful than he.
It wasn't possible. Xander hoped that what they just told him was some kind of sick joke. He pleaded internally for them to laugh and tell him that they were jesting. He'd happily tell them that they got him good and laugh with them. But moments passed, seconds turned to minutes and they sat on this rather uncomfortable and somber silence. It was deafening. He swore if somebody didn't speak soon, he'd snap.
He still couldn't believe it. He refused to believe it. He jumped back in time, twice, to save Harry Potter from getting killed by the same person. And now they were telling him that he's a Horcrux, and Xander knew exactly what they had to do to all of the Dark Lord's Horcruxes. It wasn't fair. He would not accept this, there had to be another way.
What was the point of everything he'd done, only for their one hope to actually die in the end? He shook his head, slowly first until he was shaking so hard Harry had to grab his shoulders to calm him down.
"No," Xander choked. "Mum," he turned to Hermione who looked at him apologetically and sadly.
"Xander," Harry tried to get his attention.
"No," Xander snapped and stood, retreating from Harry's hands. "What was the point then?" his voice rose. "Everything, all the sacrifices," he gestured his hands around him wildly, mostly speaking to himself.
"Xander," Harry said with a stern voice. "Everything you did, all the sacrifices, they're not going to waste," he assured him.
"No, because the one hope that can save us all is supposed to actually die," he snapped.
"Yes," Harry said, startling Xander. He wondered how this man could easily accept death. "I'm not happy with it," Harry shook his head, seeing the confusion on Xander's face. "I'm scared," he stressed. "But maybe," he sighed, he couldn't get the words out. "Maybe you were supposed to save me," he paused. "F-from getting killed by—"
"The wrong person?" Xander seethed. The veins on his neck were popping out and his usually pale complexion turning a bright red due to his rising anger. "Are you telling me that I've been saving you from getting killed by the wrong person so you could get killed by the right one?"
At this point Scorpius had awoken to their rising voices and had started crying. Hermione had lifted the toddler to her arms to calm the crying boy but to no avail, as if he could sense his younger brother's continuous distress.
"Yes," Harry said with clear determination etched in his features. "Maybe I'm supposed to die when I confront the Dark Lord," Harry tried to laugh gaily, but the expression on his face made his attempt pointless.
Xander shook his head. "That's not funny Harry," Xander cried, fresh tears cascading down his now ashen cheeks. "There has to be another way," he pleaded.
Harry smiled sadly and took a step closer to envelop the younger man in his embrace. Scorpius had already stopped crying and Hermione silently cried as she watched the exchange between the two men, wondering exactly when Harry had grown to this mature man before them.
"I don't know," there was the sound of defeat etched in Harry's voice. "But for now, we need to look forward," he reminded him. "We have bigger problems right now."
Xander groaned and pulled away from Harry's embrace, all the while shaking his head in disbelief. He made a move to exit, Harry didn't stop him and Hermione tried but he shrugged off her freehand that clutched onto his arm. He exited the room, leaving the adults behind, wondering what exactly could be a bigger problem than someone's impending death.
When Draco saw the tiny creature waiting in his room he found that his ability to breath has momentarily gone. He gulped as he waited for the tiny creature to make the first move, to show him a good sign that things were finally going according to plan.
His eyes watched the creature's every move; when it reached behind itself to pull out the same locket he had given it hours ago. Draco was breathing raggedly then, he reached out to take it, and he could see the hesitance in the elf's eyes. It didn't trust him. He blamed it on Marcus Flint; surely the House-elf would have a different opinion if it was his real face that was showing.
But none-the-less, the elf allowed him to grasp the necklace and he was suddenly overcome by the darkness that surrounded it, that dark curse. Oh yes, this was definitely the real thing.
"How?" he managed to asked.
"Mistress Bellatrix takes a shower every morning," The elf explained.
Due to his disbelief, he managed not to question what the House-elf just told him. Because he was pretty sure his aunt disregarded any type of hygiene, with her oily-frazzled hair, rotten teeth and all.
He merely nodded and stood, ignoring how the Elf took hold of its tattered clothing and twisting the ends in its tiny hands in nervousness. Draco reached into his pockets and took out a velvet pouch, putting the article inside before facing the awaiting House-elf.
"Posey, was it?" he asked.
The elf nodded.
"I'll take you to Pansy now," he said in assurance.
The elf grinned broadly, its beaded eyes widening in excitement.
"We'll have to sneak out and we need to be very careful not to get caught. There are apparition wards around this place so we have to get to the borders first," he informed the excited creature.
It raised a bony finger to suggest something.
"What?" Draco asked when he realized it was asking permission to speak.
"I can gets us out," Posey said.
"House elves are allowedses to leaves the grounds, the wards do not affects our magic," it told him.
Realization hit Draco. Of course. The house-elves are supposedly so loyal to their masters that the Dark Lord didn't bother putting up restrictions for them, not to mention that the Dark Lord views them as such lowly creatures not even worth his time. Another fact the Dark Lord shouldn't have overlooked. But the Dark Lord's superior attitude was working with him, so he was he to complain?
Draco extended his hand out for the creature to take. "Then let's go," he smiled at it, before the tiny elf took his hand and they both disappeared soundlessly, leaving the dark dreary room altogether.
One does not make a good plan when uncomfortable. An uncomfortable environment also added frustration and impatience to that said planner. It's what Astoria Greengrass noticed as she sighed in defeat while she watched Marcus Flint paced needlessly in their little meeting place in the dark woods just outside of Parkinson Manor.
"What's so hard to grasp Flint?" she snarled in annoyance. "We take the boy and take it from there," she said in frustration.
"Only stupid people do that without a full plan especially if we're going after Granger and the brat," Marcus snapped back. "Oh," he feigned. "I suppose she's Malfoy now isn't she?" he baited her in annoyance.
Her facial expression darkened, warning him that he'd taken it a step too far. He quickly averted his gaze from her and changed the topic.
"We don't even know how we'll grab the boy, let alone get close enough to do it," he said quickly.
The darkness in her face disappeared as she gave him a knowing smirk. "I have a way," she said.
"It's not going to work," Marcus warned.
"Why are you going against everything?" she stomped her foot in annoyance.
"Because we have to think of every possible scenario, especially ones that could backfire on us," he said.
She let out an annoyed sound. "Why don't you just go back to the Manor and expose Draco?" she growled. "That would make things easier for us."
"Are you bloody daft?" Marcus's eyes widened in disbelief at her words. "And what? Tell him that I've been out powered by Draco-sodding-Malfoy? Tell him that the git managed to infiltrate his hideout using my identity?" His voice rose, he was silently thankful he thought to protect their conversation by putting up wards. "He'd kill me on the spot!" He screamed, the veins in his neck popping out in indignation.
Astoria rolled her eyes in his show of anger, though after hearing his words, she silently agreed with his theory.
"Then what do we do?" she finally relented.
Marcus sighed to calm his nerves down. "We stay with the plan of taking the boy," Marcus grinned as an idea formed in his head. "Yes, we can most definitely use him to get to Malfoy," he said, with a tinged of excitement in his voice. "And I have the perfect plan to do it," he smirked knowingly.
Draco quickly produced his Patronus to send a quick message to Blaise, warning him of his arrival, and making sure of their location. He knew Hermione realized his hidden meaning when they were talking, but he had to make sure she was actually in the Manor.
If Blaise's message assured the fact that they were now taking shelter in Malfoy Manor, then his theories about the future boy would be in fact, true. And that thought scared him shitless, more so than the Dark Lord staring at an invisible him from their earlier encounter.
They waited just outside the Parkinson Manor protective border, waiting for Blaise's reply. During that time, the Polyjuice potion had worn off, and thus, startling the House-elf. He didn't bother taking another swig from his flask, he needed to save it lest he ran out, and he didn't need it at that time. He noticed the House-elf take a few steps away from him, seemingly more afraid of him as Draco Malfoy than when he was Marcus Flint.
It was a few minutes before his friend's familiar Patronus emerged to give him the 'go' signal… for Malfoy Manor. He was breathing unevenly by then. It only meant he'd be returning to a pregnant Hermione, which was different from before because he had no knowledge she was pregnant then, and a son he had indiscreetly voiced out his mistrust in. Brilliant.
He held out his hand for the house elf to take. No point delaying his return, he had to face them sooner or later. He thought hard of the Manor, the place where he grew up, and they both disappeared with a 'pop'.
They landed just outside the gates. The Manor, quickly recognized him, had already allowed him entrance and he used his magic to shift the wards to allow the elf entrance to the Manor. He walked through the gates as if they were smoke, the elf, purposely following behind him diligently. He pushed his personal business aside for the moment to go over what he needed to report immediately before his return back to the Snake's lair.
Locket, wand, Dark Lord, Russia, Hogwarts, and… what else? He racked his head for more. Ah, of course, the diadem. He needed to take a second look at that note he passed on to the Order.
He reached the doors to the Manor. As soon as he was inside, his loyal House elf, Belcher greeted him. He quickly gave orders to assist Posey to search for Pansy and asked where Blaise and Harry Potter were.
He walked straight to the Drawing room. Belcher had informed him that the two people he was looking for were gathered there. He didn't waste time and maneuvered himself inside the Manor as if he hadn't left the place locked and sealed for years.
"Malfoy," Harry Potter stood from his position at his arrival.
"Draco," his mother's portrait cooed at him.
His eyes softened at her. "We'll talk later mother," he told her quickly, remembering he had more important matters to discuss. "Gather the leaders Potter, we have important matters to discuss," Draco was straight to the point. He didn't bother asking what was bothering Harry who was sporting a long face before his arrival.
Harry sighed. "It'll take a while Malfoy, what with all the attacks that happened within twenty-four hours."
"That's not my concern Potter," Draco nearly snapped. "We need every leader you can get here as soon as possible, this next meeting might be what shifts the favors towards our side for once," he continued, his face reddening in impatience. "And I quite like explaining myself once rather than twice," he added for emphasis, before Harry turned to leave the room with a quick roll of his green eyes.
"Uh, Draco," Blaise started once Harry left the room.
"My family?" Draco asked, dismissing what he knew his friend was about to ask.
"Scorpius is with Pansy," Blaise said. "Hermione's in the garden, with—um," he stuttered.
"My son," Draco stated with a blank look on his face.
"And you didn't bother telling me?"
Draco shook his head in the negative. "I wasn't even sure," he said when he saw the anger appearing in Blaise's face, before the other man accused him of not trusting him with such an information he added: "I only figured it out when we separated at Hogwarts."
Blaise released his building annoyance in his sigh. "What now?"
"I don't know," Draco's brows furrowed at the admission.
Draco Malfoy was never the one without a plan. He always knew or had an idea of what to do next. But then again, Blaise figured, that any person in his position friend's would probably be lost at what to do next.
Fortunately, their tense conversation was interrupted by Harry Potter reentering the Drawing room.
"I sent a message out," he told them. "We should be getting responses in a few minutes," he added.
Draco and Blaise merely nodded at this information before they took a seat to get more comfortable while they waited.
Harry had been in a lot of awkward situations before, but this probably topped all the others. "So," he started as he shuffled uncomfortably in his seat.
Draco didn't bother raising his eyes from the coffee table to look at him when he said; "Don't bother Potter."
"What?" Harry raised a brow in confusion.
"I know what you're trying to do," Draco warned, finally raising his eyes to meet his.
"What?" Harry feigned innocence.
Draco rolled his eyes. "Yes, I know."
Harry smiled. "And?" he urged, earning a warning glare from Blaise.
"And, it's none of your business," Draco stressed.
Harry scoffed, muttering words Draco couldn't quite catch. But before he could reprimand Harry, Hermione came in with a bright smile.
"Belcher informed me you've returned," she said as she practically ran towards him. He stood from his seat to welcome her in his warm embrace. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, breathing in her scent, calming his already tense nerves. He looked up and saw Xander standing stiffly by the door, watching their exchange intently. He fully lifted his head from Hermione's neck to look at Xander more wholly.
Hermione watched him look at Xander from over her shoulder. She slowly turned and was about to acknowledge the both of them when Charlie Weasley walked in to the room.
"Hullo," Charlie greeted the occupants in the room.
"We'll talk later," Draco said, surprisingly acknowledging Xander as well.
Hermione nodded, understanding their position, and Xander also gave a terse nod mixed with uncertainty.
"Impeccable timing," Harry groaned at Charlie.
The red-head grinned devilishly. "Really?" he said in amusement. "I have a knack for that," he said, almost too proudly. "What'd I miss?" he asked innocently.
Harry shook his head as the red head took a seat next to him on the couch. "Nothing," he muttered. "What about the others?" he asked instead.
"McGonagall, Lupin, Tonks, Hagrid, Dad, Bill, Montague are the only ones who'd be able to come," Charlie told them. "What's this about?" he asked afterwards.
Harry merely shrugged and jutted his thumb out at Draco.
"We'll have this meeting in the Dining Hall," Draco told them as he took Hermione's hand and led them out the room, passing Xander by the door without a second glance. Blaise and Charlie followed, leaving Xander and Harry in the Drawing room.
"Xander—" Harry started.
Xander quickly raised a hand to stop him. "Don't," he warned him. "Just—"
"Hey," Harry smiled in an assuring way, trying to alleviate Xander's fear for him. "It's not like I chose to be a Horcrux," was what came out of his mouth instead. Not very assuring, he inwardly groaned.
"How can you be so calm about this?" Xander asked. He couldn't fathom why Harry—the boy that was supposed to die—was trying to assure him that everything was going to be alright, instead of worrying about himself and his impending death, especially when, more than twenty-four hours ago, he himself was a heaping mess because he was about to cease to exist.
"What did your mum tell you?" Harry asked, quickly changing the course of the conversation.
Xander grumbled. "Said that you were Harry-bloody-Potter, and that you'd find a way around this."
"I don't know how you both can be so calm about this," he admitted.
"Sacrifices for the greater good," Harry reminded him.
Xander was quickly reminded of his brother's death.
"That, and she's trying to be brave," he whispered. "For the both of us," he added.
"Knowing your mother," Harry continued, his way of trying to lighten up the mood. "After this meeting, she'd probably tackle the Manor's library to find a way for me to get out of this one. And quite frankly, I hope she succeeds," he added with a playful smile.
Xander didn't smile. He wouldn't be humored by this.
Harry sighed in defeat and walked towards the younger man, grasping his shoulders and shaking him once. "Don't worry about me," he said. "You've saved me, loads of times," he stressed. "Now let me do the saving this time," he smiled. "Trust me."
Xander's reddening eyes stared deep into his own, and finally, the younger man smiled and gave him a curt nod.
"Now let's go to the Dining Hall," Harry stirred Xander out the hall. "You better know where it is, because you've gone and made us straggle behind," he playfully said.
As Xander led the way, Harry couldn't get the nagging feeling that maybe this time around, Hermione wouldn't be able to find the solution in the books she's so proud about, and that maybe this time around, he really would die without anybody to save him.
The moment they entered the Dining Hall, Draco quickly called for Belcher. He instructed the elf to wait for the others in the Entrance Hall and to direct their oncoming visitors to the Dining Hall as soon as possible to get this infernal meeting started to that they can quickly make a decision before the security at Hogwarts becomes too impossible to penetrate with their dwindling force.
Hermione quickly gave him a pointed look as soon as Belcher had left the room, which he chose to ignore. He knew that she would be berating him about how he'd dismissed the House-elf if it wasn't for the other two people that followed right behind them. He also knew she wasn't going to let this one go but was thankful that he'd be able to deal with it later rather than now, what with all the things that are happening around them.
He looked towards the open door to the Dining Hall, where he noticed that Harry Potter and his son had not entered yet.
"Where's Potter and—" he paused.
"Xander, his name is Alexander," Hermione smiled.
"Him," Draco said uncomfortably. The situation was still downright weird; you can't really blame him for feeling anything else otherwise. Son or not, it was still weird.
Hermione smiled in understanding. "Draco, he's—"
"I know, Hermione," Draco shut his eyes in frustration, more because of himself than his wife.
Hermione laughed softly and gave him a hug of support from behind.
"Something's troubling him," Draco stated.
Hermione's amused face turned grim, her head rested on his back as she gave a small nod.
"Why?" Draco's voice turned to worry.
Hermione sighed. "Something about Harry," she answered from behind him. "Harry will explain himself in the meeting," she said and left it at that.
Blaise and Charlie had already taken their seat in the vast table that could seat twenty people, when the rest of the Order leaders filed in after Belcher. The couple took their seat as well, just as Harry and Xander entered to complete the attendance. Those who weren't aware that Draco was still alive had a huge shock but was quickly given the quick notes of what and how it happened by an extremely annoyed Ron Weasley.
Harry sat at one end of the table and Draco sat on the opposite side as they stared each other down, as if silently having a conversation on who should speak first. Draco closed his eyes and breathed out. He figured it was his turn first since he wanted the meeting. He stood and all eyes turned to him. He looked around, McGonagall, Montague, Lupin, Tonks, Hagrid, and Charlie, Arthur, Bill, and Ron Weasley were the only Order members present. The others were probably still taking care of the injured and the survivors of the attack.
"We need to reclaim Hogwarts," Draco simply stated. His eyes on Harry and no one else, while his statement was met with confused faces.
"Why—" Montague started.
"Ravenclaw's diadem," Draco simply stated.
"What—" Bill started this time.
Draco quickly answered the forming question. "The Dark Lord is arranging his forces that are based in Russia to quickly head back here to guard Hogwarts," he answered stated. "Because of this, he all but admitted and flat out assured us that the Diadem is in Hogwarts. It could only mean that he has no plans of relocating it yet. He probably doesn't know where he could place it for it to be safe. And while we still have the chance, we must acquire it immediately," he said, his eyes not straying from Harry.
"How—" Arthur started.
"As soon as possible," Draco answered quickly, as if Arthur hadn't said anything. "It'll take at least half a day to get his forces organized and returned here. We should take that chance and reclaim Hogwarts before we lose that Diadem for only Merlin knows how long," he said. "And quite frankly, I'm not sure how long I could keep up the pretense as Marcus Flint," he added.
"Speaking of which," Blaise added. "Marcus Flint escaped."
"What?" Draco finally looked away from Harry to stare at his friend in disbelief. "And when exactly is anybody planning on telling me that?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Well it hardly matters, the man's a coward, he's not going to wander back and announce to the Dark Lord how he'd failed, extremely might I add. He'd be killed on the spot," he stated without taking a breather.
"About the Diadem," Ron started, as if the exchange between Draco and Blaise didn't happen. "I think I have an idea where to find it," he said.
"Think, does not comfort me Weasley, you should be sure, because the Dark Lord will not be only enemy here, Time will also be the enemy," Draco stressed.
Ron gulped. "I'm sure," he said more clearly. But only Harry and Hermione could tell that he wasn't entirely sure. But he had an idea, and he needed to go back to make sure, it could be his only chance before the Horcrux gets relocated just as Draco had predicted.
Draco doubted Ron, but he took his word for it and returned his gaze back at Harry. "The diary is destroyed, the ring is destroyed, the teacup is in our possession," he listed off. He then reached inside his coat pocket and took the velvet pouch out and handed it to Hermione who sat next to him. "Slytherin's locket," he stated, earning wide eyed gazes from those around him.
Hermione cautiously took the pouch from him and cradled it in her hands as she stared warily at it.
"The diadem is in Hogwarts," Draco continued. "And the Dark Lord has plans to go to Hogwarts once his army has been gathered in Hogwarts, meaning that blasted snake would be there," he ended with a smirk. "We can end this today," he said with determination.
Harry looked glum but after a while, he met Draco's determination with a fiery one. "You're right," he stood. "We could end this today," he said.
"But Harry," Montague turned to him. "Assembling a force to take over Hogwarts—"
"We'll gather whoever is available," Harry interrupted. "Me being one of them."
"And me," Ron stood.
"But—" Montague started.
Harry interrupted him once again. "There are only a few Death Eaters gathered there, we can drive them out until the whole Order is gathered there," Harry said. "We can buy Ron some time to acquire the Diadem before Voldemort's own army gets there," Harry could see the plan forming while ignoring the flinches at the mention of the Dark Lord's name.
"Let's calm down first and think about this thoroughly," Montague started, uneasy about the quick progress of planning a war without so much as a second thought.
"We don't have time," Harry snapped before Montague could say another word.
"We have to think this through," the older man snapped back.
"Time is our enemy now. Are we going to have another meeting? A voting? How long will that take? By the time you've finished all these unnecessary steps, Voldemort could very well have taken Hogwarts completely and relocated the Diadem, and then what?" Harry argued.
Montague looked like he was to protest yet again, and by the looks of it, so was McGonagall and Arthur, but before they could utter a word, Harry quickly beat them to it.
"If you're not going to allow it, then I'm going there on my own. I at least still have my freedom to choose as I please, and the same goes to everyone who'd join the Order," Harry stated with a purpose. He then turned to address Ron. "Go floo the others and ask anybody who're willing to join us. They have half an hour to get here and meet at the Entrance Hall," he instructed.
Ron nodded at his friend and exited the Dining Hall to do as Harry had bided.
Harry turned back to the remaining occupants of the room. "You can either stop us or join us. But I believe Malfoy when he said that this next confrontation with the Dark Lord could very well be our last and our only hope of ever defeating him. And unlike you all, I'd really like to be able to walk around freely without the terror of an attack," he finished and left the room without a backward glance.
The remaining people in the room watched Harry's retreat in awe and surprise. They stayed silent, staring at the entryway where Harry exited. Draco's appreciative whistle was what snapped them out of their trance.
"Well, I must say," Draco said as he took Hermione's hand to lead her out of the room with him. "I commend Potter. At least he actually managed to grow a back bone while hiding this whole time," he stopped by the door. "Honestly," he glared at the Order leaders. He'd always hated how they were more meetings and hiding, rather than leaving their hideouts and fighting the problem head on. "This war is never going to end if you lot just sit in your meetings, playing vote this and that. Action, after all, has more results than your silly debates," he said before turning and dragging Hermione with him, Blaise and Xander following close behind them.
Draco led them back to the Drawing room. He released his hold on Hermione's hand and went towards the study table just in front of Narcissa's portrait. He laced his hands on the table, his back hunched, and shut his eyes as he tried to focus on plotting and thinking of possible scenarios that could happen. He could hear them shuffling behind him, not acknowledging him, because they've known him for so long, they knew he was trying to put a plan together with the sudden turn of events.
"Draco," Blaise was the first to break his concentration.
Draco slowly turned to look at his friend. He leaned on the table and crossed his arms across his chest, waiting for what his friend was about to say. Though he had a pretty good idea as to what Blaise would say next.
"I'm going with Potter," Blaise stated. Draco closed his eyes, digesting what he'd just said. Thinking he'd say it is completely different from hearing it out loud.
"I know," Draco whispered loud enough for him to hear.
Blaise nodded at Draco once he opened his eyes and met his before he turned from his spot and exited the room.
"Hermione," Draco turned to her. "I need you to wait for Weasley for me," he continued.
"Ron?" Hermione raised a brow in question.
"Yes, that Weasley," Draco drawled. "I need that note back," he told her seriously.
The change in Draco's tone made Hermione alert. "You mean the note you found in Marcus Flint's room? The location of the Diadem?" she asked.
"Yes, that note," Draco nodded.
"Whatever for?" Hermione asked, clearly confused, and Draco could tell she was itching to ask him all the questions that were running in her head, but she also caught on as to why he would want it to be her to get it back.
"I just need to make sure of something," he said vaguely.
He heard Hermione sighed in annoyance, but relented as she gave him a terse nod in acceptance and turned to leave. She brushed past Xander without looking at him and exited the room, leaving her two boys behind.
Draco lifted his eyes towards his son—his future son—who had his back turned to him. Alexander stood there, watching his mother's retreat, a hand rose with the means to stop her but couldn't quite voice out his plea. The boy looked about ready to flee at any given moment.
He waited a few seconds after Hermione's departure before he spoke.
"Alexander," he whispered loud enough. He saw his son twitched at the call of his name, and slowly turned to look back at him.
Draco could read the signs of nervousness on the boy; the sweating, the bobble in his throat as he swallowed hugely, the obvious rise and fall of his chest as he tried to get his breathing in check and the way his eyes fought to stay focused on his as it fought to look anywhere else than him.
Draco was more nervous than he, but he rather hid it quite well, years and years of training your emotions could be hard to shut down when you need it to. He wanted to show Xander that he was nervous too. He lowered his head, closed his eyes and breathed deeply before raising his head back up again to meet his son's awaiting eyes.
"We need to talk," he said with a warm smile.
Chapter Word Count: 6,902