This is book two in the tales of Krait; if you missed Slytherin's Heiress you may wish to read it first; if so SPOILER ALERT OF PREQUEL be aware that OC Krait of Malfoy descent and daughter of Tom Marvolo Riddle has forged some friendships between unlikely people and set out to bring down her father in collaboration – rather a CLOSE collaboration – with Severus. The group have used blood magic to set up a layer of protection about Harry which has already had a few useful side effects. The group first included Severus, Sirius, Harry, Krait, Neville, Draco, Ginny and some OCs.
The whole European thing is to set up future forays into European politics as affected by Gellert Grindelwald; it seemed reasonable to suppose that Voldemort had foreign followers other than Karkaroff and Dolokhov. I'm not French bashing or German bashing I'm wizarding Nazi bashing.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can you let me know if there are random changes to give one character name to all; it's a problem I'm wrestling with in my Word For Windows which is old and rather er individualistic
As always JKR owns the characters; I'm only borrowing them. This one too parallels canon with a few departures. Well actually quite a few departures; so there are more forays into the lives of others in the school as Harry Potter does not get to be quite so overwhelmed by shit happening. I think it's the weakest of the trilogy…er quatrology er…lotsology but there were things I needed to say and some inbetweening. BTB the definition of any number of Malfoys more than one is a surfeit.
Chapter 1 French Connection
The thin menacing voice of Lord Voldemort issued its orders.
"You are to go to Chateau Malvaison in France, my daughter – Severus can side-along apparate you. The Comte de Malvaison and his wife are supporters of mine, and they are hosting a conference with one Freiherr von Strang who represents pure blood supremacists in Germany and Eastern Europe. I want you to be my representative at these talks and assess von Strang for me. I would prefer to rule than ally but as Dumbledore is aware that I am not dead…"
"What can Dumbledore do?" Krait shrugged. "The ministry did not see fit to believe Bartemius Crouch's testimony, thought him insane….Dumbledore is only one man, and how can he know that we also managed to restore you? He thinks your plan foiled, my Lord."
"Never underestimate Dumbledore!" snapped the white faced would-be dictator. "He will suspect I have found another way….it is fortunate that Fudge is afraid that Dumbledore is after his job as Prime Minister, Wormtail has been getting me the Daily Prophet and it is amusing to see how they ridicule Dumbledore and question Harry Potter's sanity!"
"Yes, being marginalised will help me maintain a hold on the boy" said Krait calmly.
"You do not think you are pregnant yet by him?"
She shrugged again.
"It's not a done deal even if I am….any number of things can go wrong, and of course with your instructions about me taking lessons, any child might be Severus'…"
"Didn't you take potions to prevent that?" he snapped. "Severus brews very competent potions, surely he made you a contraceptive?"
"I couldn't take a contraceptive!" said Krait looking shocked. "It's forbidden!"
The pallid megalomaniac ground his teeth.
"WILL you forget that Catholic upbringing?" he almost screeched at her. Krait recoiled.
"I am sorry, my father" she cringed suitably "It – it is akin to brainwashing….I have shaken off most, sometimes I just react as I was trained…I was reacting emotionally because it was a big step to take to….to learn seduction…I confess my apprehension when I was doing your bidding in that….but there will be no great harm, for both have similar colouring, so I can convince Potter that any child is his and take the opportunity to conceive again if all plans have gone awry in that respect. Anyway, it should be all right, shouldn't it? You can't conceive with the first time, and I was with Potter soon after…" she added mendaciously.
"The gaps in your education sometimes astound me beyond measure" the repellent scaly face of her father thrust close to the wall of the communication globe. "However, you can have Severus perform Scarpin's revelaspell on the foetus and get rid of it if it's not Potter's."
"As you order, father" she said.
He smiled unpleasantly.
"You are an obedient girl" he said. "I am sure you will represent me admirably in France. I trust Severus made sure you enjoyed your lessons? I would not like him to feel that he has too much power over you."
"He's no fool…. He made sure I took pleasure, it makes me more efficient for one thing, knowing how to enjoy it; as to feeling any power, why I have absolute control over him by letting him feel he has some of the ordering of me…..it's most amusing!" she grinned nastily.
The horrible thin gurgling noise showed that her father laughed in amusement.
"Good…..use all your abilities to control. He is a loyal servant, and I will doubtless have to order him soon to use the trust that Dumbledore places in him to spy on the Order of the Phoenix, for the old fool is bound to start it up again….to feel he has a reward in you will keep Severus from resentment."
"He's skilled enough…I don't object, so long as I have my freedom to other lovers….why, I'd even consider being faithful to him for his lifetime if I knew I had the secret of immortality from you." She tossed her pale oriole of hair. Might as well try she thought.
"I have said I will think about it….you will have to get over being squeamish about things though. You dealt fairly ruthlessly with the Greengrasse girl but you stopped short of killing her….is that your Catholic upbringing?"
"I told you at the time, I thought it could only bring investigation on my head…you won't find me lacking." She said.
"I hope not. Report in full about how it goes in France. And be sure only to say that your Mother was a Malfoy – NO mention of any muggle blood. Is that clear?"
"Pellucidly" said Krait, borrowing from Severus' favourite expressions.
"Good" The globe flickered and went dead. Krait shut the door of the communications cupboard very carefully behind her before she flung herself into Severus' arms. He stroked her hair.
"Be assured he is well pleased with you and it pleases himself to be more amused at your supposed naïveté than otherwise; else he had punished you. The attempt to get his secret was good, love."
"Didn't work, though."
"No – but he is a stage further to consider giving it" he reassured her. "Dumbledore mentioned the word Horcrux – and he is trying to find out more."
"There's something Albus Dumbledore doesn't know?" she was surprised.
"It's Dark magic….he suspects that Horace Slughorn, the previous Potion master knows, but getting him to talk about anything he doesn't want to is like nailing water to a board" said Severus disgustedly. "He changes his manner according to the importance of the person he's talking to, he had favourites at Hogwarts according to what favours they could do him…not a thing to do with their ability. Charming Tom Riddle was almost certainly a blue eyed boy of his, expected to have a bright future, head boy, loved almost universally….except by Albus, who is nobody's fool….chances are, if Slughorn had acquired knowledge of Horcruxes – Horcruces I should say – he passed them on to the Smarmy Charmer."
"Why Severus!" she twinkled at him "I do believe you've been infected by my own idiom!"
He gave a grim smile.
"Sometimes your abominable slang is more appropriately descriptive than my own sesquipedalian phraseology. I'd better take you briefly into France and Germany and show you how to transfer a complete understanding of grammar and vocabulary from the mind of a native muggle speaker. And how to learn how to pick one with the education that will not mark you out as a peasant farmer. It's not perfect but you can build on it by use."
The Chateau Malvaison was large and pretentious with fancy turrets growing randomly from its solid medieval basis, rather like, Krait thought whimsically, an eruption of Rococo toadstools. Inside was even grander, all white marble and gilded curlicues that segued from the Baroque to Rococo in an obscene writhing of voluptuous superfluity of abundance. Into this opulent affront upon the senses they were admitted by the diminutive figure of a house elf, wrapped in what appeared to be a pillow slip, somehow arranged to give him the air of being one of the overstuffed putti somehow emaciated in an effort to achieve animation. He took their baggage with a whisk of elven magic and Krait smiled and said,
The elf froze, and stared.
"Nobody has ever THANKED Beloc before!" he said in awe.
"Then the people with whom your master consorts are ill-mannered swine" said Krait indignantly. "Any decent person…." She broke off, for the elf was banging his head on the floor.
"He is punishing himself because he has thought bad thoughts about his master" said Severus softly. "Because he compared your manners to his…."
"Oh stop it! Please!" Krait cried, distressed. "Hermione is so right….and so wrong too, for I can't see how to stop this….."
"Don't talk about it to him….you'll only make his situation worse" said Severus grimly. "Elf, I pray you, show us to our rooms, if you please."
"Beloc is sorry to delay noble visitors" the elf said, swallowing hard. "Beloc will punish himself later."
"I wish you didn't punish yourself at all" said Krait "But I suppose it's no good me saying that."
"No, mistress, I am obliged to" said Beloc, mournfully. "This way!"
The rooms were spacious and ornate and reminded Krait of all she had read about the Palace of Versailles. There were huge mirrors everywhere which Krait regarded thoughtfully.
"What's the betting some of the mirrors if not all are scrying devices?" she asked Severus on the unique mental link they had forged when they had performed a deep joining ritual.
"I never bet on certainties….assume they all are. It's paranoid, but…"
"Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you."
"Quite!" he agreed dryly.
M. le Comte was a florid person, very obviously well pleased with himself and the ornate robes that he wore. They were of a floral brocade in a rich purple that did nothing for his complexion though Krait thought ironically the colour would have suited her well enough. Krait thought him overdressed, though not so much as his wife, whose sour acidulated face rose incongruously from layers of ruffles and lace in a gown of such outstanding complexity that Krait, able needlewoman that she was, found difficulty working out the pattern to it. Krait's own tastes ran to the austere, not to say severe; she was dressed in a closely cut robe of black velvet, cut on the bias for the enhancement of the line, an extravagance she would never have considered without Lucius Malfoy's generous allowance. Any more than would she have considered the real silver thread of the subtle and intricate trim she had couched around neck, sleeves and hem. As it was, she knew she had to look impressive since she was supposed to be representing her father, who considered himself the pre-eminent wizard in the world; and she had to play that part to perfection. And Krait, whilst deploring profligacy, was woman as much as any; and liked pretty things. Severus thought her the most beautiful woman in the world, but one had to hold to the fact that he was somewhat biased in that respect. The Comte was however properly impressed and kissed her hand with a flourish, holding it longer than was necessary and failing to introduce her to the other male in the room, enough like Madame la Comtesse to be some relation.
"Mademoiselle – we are enchanted to make your acquaintance and to entertain the flower of English womanhood!" he declared extravagantly. Krait pursed her lips.
"I am delighted to be here to act for my father" she said crisply "But I am here on business not to waste time on excess hyperbole." Her tone was chilly. "My father expects me to act in his stead and as such, let us set the tone before we begin. You lend your premises for a meeting you desire; I speak for my father at that same meeting. You perform a service for us; we are duly pleased by your loyalty. I trust I make myself quite clear?"
the Comte was taken aback. His spouse was uncertain whether to be pleased that the pretty chit had not responded to his flirtatious tone or to be irritated that Krait obviously felt herself to be in charge; but the Comte bowed urbanely.
"As the Dark Lord wishes" he said smoothly.
Krait looked down her little nose.
"Naturally" she said.
"What are you playing at?" Severus asked her quietly as the Comte showed them over his rambling chateau.
"He irritated me…besides, divide and conquer….if he's pissed at me he's easier to push into a quarrel with this Von Strang character."
"I am…. Sometimes taking outrageous chances is more careful than being overly cautious and hence drawing suspicion for one's vacillating timidity."
"Well…. You have remarkable instincts my dear: and I trust them implicitly."
Freiherr Von Strang, when he arrived, had no courtesies for the waiting house elf but thrust his cloak at him impatiently, expecting to have his baggage dealt with expeditiously.
Krait frowned to herself.
"Politeness is the prerogative of princes" she muttered.
"I think you'll find Machiavelli said that punctuality was the politeness of princes" murmured Severus.
"But he considered politeness a virtue…..and discourtesy displeased him. He'd have made the quote if he'd thought of it." She said airily. Severus chuckled.
"Minx, if you'd known him, you'd have told him to…."
"By all accounts, if I'd known him I'd have been too busy guarding my virtue….let us greet this neo-Nazi baron."
Von Strang clicked his heels punctiliously at Krait and kissed her hand with more military efficiency than romantic fervour. His cold, pale blue eyes swept her face and noted her plain but expensive looking robe with approval. It was not dissimilar to his own, though his was of masculine cut, and put her forcibly in mind of Lucius Malfoy.
"Fraulein Voldemort" he said, formally.
"I rather think" said Krait, thoughtfully "That my father enjoys the uniqueness of his self bestowed name and title….it were better if you address me by my mother's family name, Malfoy."
"Ah….I wondered, seeing your looks…..the perfect Aryan type, so typified by so ancient a pure-bred family as the Malfoys. Had I known there was a female Malfoy of suitable age I might have applied to Lucius for my second wife and waited for you to be of age, rather than take a suitable, but lower born German witch like Adalheid….though she has given me two children, including a son…."
"I am sorry to hear that you lost your first wife….you obviously wanted to wait to assuage your grief, though yet to balance that with the needs of any children you might have…" Krait went fishing for information.
Von Strang's face hardened.
"My first wife was a blood-liar. I discovered that four generations back she had undisclosed mud blood….naturally I could not support that. Her brat remains at Durmstrang and may be of use, but assure your esteemed father that he will not ever succeed me."
"I see" said Krait. "That must have been a shock."
"I was beside myself." Said the baron. "At least I do not have to look upon the vapid and weak creature she bore me now he can be left at school; he will serve in some menial capacity, it seemed a waste to kill him."
"Quite" said Krait, concealing her horror.
Dinner was served; and Krait observed her host and his guest covertly. They ignored the two house elves serving – the same Beloc Krait had earlier spoken to, and another, female, who bore enough resemblance to him, Krait thought, to be a relative, not unlikely if servitude were hereditary. She bestowed smiles upon both, who seemed half gratified half frightened to be noticed; though the young female stared at Krait with some interest, and the girl guessed that Beloc's tale had lost nothing in the telling. He must be clever to be able to pass it on without making overt criticism of his master in so doing. How anyone could expect true loyalty when they gave no consideration to their underlings at all Krait failed to understand; and the Comte even backhanded the little female casually, though quite hard enough to send the little creature flying, for a slight delay in passing a dish. This was a part of the Wizarding World Krait had every intention of seeing done away with.
There was certainly a tension to the atmosphere; M. le Comte was busy emphasising that he was a servant of the Dark Lord and that the German factions would, if they knew what was good for them, come in with the great Lord Voldemort. In between this he was pouring every possible compliment on Krait, worthy daughter of one so mighty. Evidently he had not given up hope that his excessive air of French address would impress her. His brother-in-law, not to be outdone, agreed to every compliment and went so far as to propose a toast to Krait's beauty. He smiled a lot and showed a lot of less than well cleaned ivory; and Krait loathed him intensely.
"The beautiful Mademoiselle is an ornament to her father's house" he said, bowing his upper body to her across the table. "And will honour the house of anyone fortunate to win her hand"
Krait regarded him thoughtfully, realising what that was all about; she knew she was beautiful, but the Comte's brother-in-law would doubtless have found compliments were she wall-eyed and covered in zits.
"Indeed" she agreed icily as to her worth.
"Naturally, your mighty father has already introduced you to the best society of English wizards…though I believe their English reserve hardly makes for such address as you might find here in France…" he persisted.
"Hardly so mighty" sneered Von Strang, plainly as bored and revolted by the obvious tactics as Krait. "When one bears in mind that his powers were largely stripped from him by a baby and even now he fears the powers of that child in adolescence and dares not act for most of his meagre following languish in Azkaban. Saving your presence Fraulein Malfoy."
It was worded as an apology but was scarcely so.
"To all outward appearances and to the uninitiated it must seem that my father is in poor case indeed; yet those of us who are close to him are well aware that the facts are far from the way that you state them. Is that not so, M. le Comte?" she had been carefully over the last two courses transfiguring the Comte's wine into something a little stronger; and the Frenchman was decidedly tipsy and ready to be aggressive.
"Indeed, yes!" cried the Comte. "Facts? This sausage-eating Cochon has no idea what he is talking about! He'd not recognise a fact if it bit him!"
Von Strang went dangerously white.
"Do you call me a liar, Comte de Malvaison?" he said dangerously.
"I call you a fool, a blowhard Gasconade and blind as a bat!" said the Comte.
"Of such does the Dark Lord choose his minions?" said Von Strang, scornfully. "Fraulein Malfoy, your father is wise to seek an alliance with we of ODESSA, we at least are efficient. Indeed, you may wish to consider abandoning an old man with more ambition than ability and throw in your lot with us." He smiled thinly and bowed across the table to her. "You would find no shortage of excellent young suitors, all pure-bred wizards, amongst my acquaintance."
"Thank you, I have already chosen my loyalties" said Krait coldly "And I do not renege on the same. Comte, I think your words were hasty and not entirely well considered, shall we say that your cellar spoke for you and resume this discussion on the morrow when all are in better temper and health so to do?"
"The hell with that!" roared the Comte. "I? the worse for wear? At this hour? It is impossible! That insufferable swine shall meet me!"
Von Strang rose and clicked his heels.
"When and where you please, M. le Comte" he said coldly. "My wand is at your disposal."
"No it is not!" said Krait, sharply. "My father wished discussions, not the quarrelling of overgrown infants about who has thrown their toys out of the sandbox…..if the Organisation de SS Angehoren – yes, I know what it stands for – is not prepared to look further than a slight lapse on the part of the Comte, we are not prepared to continue these discussions at this stage…..besides, your over close association with the muggle organisation of the same name makes your protestations of purity rather suspect."
"They were tools….it was for convenience!" snapped Von Strang.
"So? Then be prepared to prove that – if you still wish to have talks. But go back to your ODESSA and tell them to send someone of continent manner who does not rise to the baiting of one fool, whilst showing by his speech that he is another kind. I am unimpressed by either of you. Good night!" she rose and swept out, closely followed by Severus.
"You certainly sail close to the wind" he observed dryly.
"Worked though" she grinned. "Now! We find a disused toilet to set up a passage to Myrtle's loo….and call in the Muggle Studies Hobbies group to be ready for first strike."
Finding a disused toilet in so rambling a pile was not hard.
The opening of gates was starting to become almost routine; though Krait was self disciplined enough to run through every check in her head rather than risk making an error. It would be too late to discover an omission should one of their group be divided, like Gaul, into three parts, one in England, one in France and another in the between space.