Chapter Forty-Two

"Daisy. Daisy, can you hear me?"

Daisy struggled to return to consciousness, first taking in the fact that someone was supporting her, her body weight on their arm pressing into the bruises on her back, before she realised that she was conscious – only she couldn't open her eyes very much at all. She could just about see a face through the lashes of her left eye, but the most she could make out was the dark material of the robes her cheek pressed against and the mix of sandalwood and mint tickling her nose that was almost familiar.

"What in Merlin's name were you thinking?"

"I don't know what you're talking about Lucius," came a saccharine voice that Daisy certainly recognised, and it set her on edge. "She was absolutely fine when I left her. This is most unexpected."

A hand was pressed to her face, and Daisy relished in its cooling touch on her cheek even though she felt chilled to the core. "She's burning up," the voice closest to her pronounced. It had the low rumble of a man's voice. Lucius…Mr Malfoy? He had come. They had said he wouldn't come but apparently here he was. "Bassenthwaite – call a female Agent. Any one will do. I just need someone who I can trust – and who Daisy can too. Lord knows what they did to her."

Daisy felt herself being lowered again, before something warm wrapped around her, her head feeling as if it was supported by the fluffiest pillow known to man. She tried to listen to the voices around her but she felt herself fading once more, so glad to finally be warm.

"I don't see why you care so much, Lucius," Umbridge said, her face twisted into an ugly sneer at Lucius' display of affection towards the Muggleborn. "She'll be going to Azkaban the moment that she confesses."

"Azkaban? You want to place Daisy Dursley in Azkaban? I didn't hire you for your competence but are you a complete idiot?" Lucius snapped, unable to stop himself from running a hand through his hair in a display of frustration as he waited for an Agent from his Division to show up. "I should have been told about this! You should have contacted me the minute that she was in custody!"

"Why? The end result is the same: another Mudblood in prison."

"Daisy Dursley is not just another Muggleborn!" He wanted nothing more than to blurt out the consequences of her idiocy but did not want to find himself in Azkaban when he had evaded it for so long. Now he only need evade death. Why hadn't Severus contacted him? How on Earth had this happened? He stopped pacing and took a deep breath. "You are dismissed. Your services as Head of the Muggleborn Registration Commission will no longer be required."

"Y-you can't do that!"

"I think you'll find that I can. And once the Minister discovers what you did-"

"I did not do this!" Umbridge all but screeched.

"What is going on?" Shacklebolt asked as he entered. He was followed by Agent Bassenthwaite and a new recruit, a recently graduated half-blood if Lucius wasn't mistaken by the name of Watson or something. "What on Earth – Madam Umbridge I specifically told you not to go too far!" He pinched the bridge of his nose as he took in Daisy's arm, the only part of her visible from under the black cloak she had been wrapped in as it was still chained to the wall, the skin on her wrist chafed raw. He did not want to know what the cloak hid. He wished he could just wipe his hands off this case entirely. "The last thing we need is an internal investigation!"

"The Emergency Act-"

"-does not offer immunity in the face of those Under Age! I was clear on that matter! She has to be proven guilty or confess! All that aside, if she dies before the trial we won't be finding Black, I will be out of a job and you will be in Azkaban instead."

"Well, I didn't do it," Umbridge huffed, crossing her arms in indignation. "I had a dinner party, where a dozen or so respectable witches can vouch for my whereabouts."

"Then how did this happen?"

"It isn't like she doesn't make enemies," Umbridge sniffed. "Who cares what happens so long as confesses?"

"Dead witches don't make confessions," Lucius snapped, watching as Watson slowly settled herself around Daisy, Bassenthwaite standing protectively before them. He turned to Shacklebolt. "I will be making arrangements to have her removed as soon as physically possible. Madam Undersecretary is to have absolutely no contact with Daisy since she is no longer a member of my Division. She grossly overstepped her bounds. I don't care if you did not directly do this, Dolores – she was under your responsibility."

He was gone before Shacklebolt could even think of an argument, Umbridge hot on his heels.

"You're alright, Daisy," the female Agent said, gently resting a hand on Daisy's forehead as she stirred, Daisy's head settled in her lap. "Everything is going to be okay. You're safe now. My name is Agent Lucille Watson. My job is to look after you, to protect you. I'm so sorry we've failed you."

Shacklebolt felt a sliver of guilt run through him as he watched the scene. He'd known Umbridge would overstep her bounds, but he didn't think she would go this far. Alarm showed on Watson's face as Daisy began to cough, the cough deep and raking her entire frame.

"She's coughing up blood!" Watson exclaimed, gladly accepting the handkerchief that Bassenthwaite passed her. The last thing she wanted was for Daisy Dursley to die in her arms. Daisy Dursley was the only reason the Agents even existed, and no matter how some of them they felt about Muggleborns, they all knew how they felt about Daisy. "She needs to see a Healer!"

"Calm yourself, Watson," Bassenthwaite said, though worry creased his eyes too. "The Head will be back soon. Miss Dursley is tough one. She'll be all right."

"It's okay," Watson continued to soothe as it seemed that Daisy was literally coughing her lungs out. "You're okay."

"Who…who are you?" Daisy croaked as she turned to look at this new face that faintly smelled of lavender instead.

"Lucille Watson. I'm an Agent for the Muggleborn Welfare Division. Mr Malfoy asked me to look after you while he goes and gets you some help. You're not very well."

Bloody understatement, Daisy thought, grimacing as some memories began their determined swim to the surface of her mind. Instead she focused on the pain as she squeezed her eyes tightly, before opening them again, the throbbing headache seeming to sharpen her vision as she stared back at Auror Shacklebolt staring at her with something akin to horror. It was bad then.

"A-ask…ask me," Daisy said. She was grateful when a goblet of water was pressed to her lips, and she drunk hungrily, uncaring for the burning in her throat or the nausea in her stomach. She rested her head back on the Agent supporting her gratefully, feeling suddenly drained and delusional. How could she simultaneously feel like she was freezing and boiling to death? Her eyes returned to the Auror. "Ask me."

Shacklebolt moved closer to Daisy, taking slowly deliberate steps, his eyes never leaving hers until he slowly squatted down beside her. "Miss Dursley, it's Auror Shacklebolt. You are currently very ill and in no condition to say anything. You do not have to say anything."

"Ask," Daisy repeated, this time her arm jerking on the chain. "I have to confess."

Shacklebolt felt the air leave him as indignation finally settled in. He'd thought perhaps it was someone else responsible for this attack else but this could only be Umbridge – who else would push her to want her to confess even in this state? The only consolation was that he'd be stuck on desk duty for so long someone else would have found Black by then. "Did you free Sirius Black from Azkaban?"

"No. No, I didn't."

He let out a breath of relief. It would have been worse if she'd found herself bullied into Azkaban for a crime he was beginning to think she hadn't committed. He had never been more grateful for her stubborn nature. "Do you know where he is?"

This time she paused, as if it was something she had to think over. "No."

A frown flickered on Shacklebolt's face. She did not free him but there was more to it? Had she found his whereabouts then? If Daisy had found Black, or perhaps was close to doing so, the criminal could have sent the note to send her to Azkaban and off his trail. Had they all fallen victim to Black's manipulations? He had the urge to press her, but another coughing fit and Watson's glare made him reconsider. He would ask her about it later, when she was stronger and he wasn't potentially going to be responsible for her death by negligence.

"Did Madam Umbridge do this to you?" Shacklebolt asked, when Daisy had calmed down.

"She…" Daisy started, before frowning deeply, seemingly at her thoughts. "She will be dealt with."

Her head lolled to the side and the sharp smell of vomit added to the scents already present in the room. Shacklebolt mused he probably deserved to be vomited on. He also wondered if Umbridge deserved what was coming. There wasn't a single sane person in the Magical Law Enforcement Department who bought the idea that Higgs had died as a result of a gambling related incident, but there also wasn't a single person who could really bring themselves to believe Daisy was behind it. Especially not when she looked so easily broken.

"Like you said Auror Shacklebolt," Watson huffed, watching the cogs turning in the Auror's head as he cleaned himself up. "She is ill and in no condition to say anything."

They were surprised when almost half an hour later, it was not Lucius Malfoy, but his wife Narcissa that swept into the interrogation room. Her crisp navy blue summer robes seemed out of place, but nothing less was to be expected from the woman. She held out a parchment bearing the Minister or Magic's seal when Shacklebolt instinctively stepped in front of her.

"The Minister himself has issued an Emergency Decree in which full guardianship has been temporarily allocated to House Malfoy until such a time that a proper hearing can be conducted. As her guardian, I contest all charges and demand that she be released into my care until a trial has been fixed. I bear full responsibility for any failure to attend her trial or respond to Ministry summons issued by the appropriate authorities," Narcissa stated, staring down at the Auror even though he towered over her small frame.

Shacklebolt inclined his head once he had read the Order and verified its veracity. "Your guardianship is recognised Mrs Malfoy. Daisy Dursley is no longer in Ministry custody."

At his words, the chains around Daisy's wrists fell, retracting into the wall.

"On behalf of the Magical Law Enforcement," Shacklebolt continued, bowing his head towards the blonde woman before him, "I would like to extend our deepest apologies. This is not how this investigation was to be conducted and I had no part in it."

"Oh save your words for your superiors, Auror," Narcissa snapped. "No one leaves Dolores Umbridge with a Mudblood and expects to find the latter still in one piece."

"Your husband hired her."

"And has now fired her. He would have never allowed this to happen." They watched as Narcissa knelt in the grime of the dungeon, displaying the same surprising affection towards Daisy as her husband had done earlier. After all, the woman had just used the derogatory word for Muggleborn and yet there she was, gently shaking the young girl awake. "Daisy. Daisy, it's Mrs Malfoy."

Daisy slowly opened her eyes, the act harder than it had been the previous times. She now felt like she was literally burning up, and mixed in with the general pain she felt in every inch of her body, she couldn't stand to be conscious right now. It was only because it was so strange for Narcissa Malfoy to be there that she even tried, even going as far as to try and sit up. "Dr-Draco –" Daisy tried, her throat hoarser than it had been before. "Has something- is he-"

"Draco is fine," Narcissa soothed, albeit surprised that the girl's first thought was to enquire about her son's safety. "I'm here for you. I'm here to take you somewhere safe."

"Don't," Daisy said, jerking away as Narcissa reached out to touch her face, though in her feverish state she didn't get very far. "I'm…blood. It's…dirty."

Narcissa's mask slipped at the words. Daisy was feverish but the older woman knew that the young girl lying before was fiery, and had stood up to countless of people who most wouldn't dare to. Her current state was testament to the fact that Daisy was not the type to be bullied into Azkaban. And no Muggleborn ever admitted to having inferior blood, not unless – not unless they'd been broken.

"Why…why are you even here?" Daisy continued as she forced her mind to work even though, for once, it was more than happy to shut down. "You…you don't want me. You're a Black."

No one in the room missed the venom with which the name was spat, or the fact that Daisy seemed to be all too aware of what the Black family legacy was, which suddenly made the charges against the girl seem ridiculous.

"I'm a Malfoy now," corrected a slightly discomfited Narcissa, not having expected to have her maiden name spat at her with such distaste. Or perhaps it was the fact that she wasn't sure if she wanted the Muggleborn in her home at all but neither Lucius nor Draco had given her much choice in the matter. She couldn't ever say no when they both turned their grey eyes on her and sent her pleading looks. "And you're coming home with me."

Daisy tried to protest, but it just seemed to fall on deaf ears and she was just so tired. She closed her eyes and let the burning inferno of her body suffocate her into blissful unconsciousness where nothing was and nothing hurt.


DAISY DURSLEY ATTACKED UNDER MINISTRY OF MAGIC'S WATCH

With just a week until her return to Hogwarts, it would have been expected that Daisy Dursley, like her fellow students, would be preparing for the start of coming school year. Instead she found herself in a cell deep in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic, accused of crimes no sensible person could think her capable of committing, and left open to a brutal attack for which the Ministry claims no responsibility even though it happened on their watch.

Daisy was brought in on the charge that she had allegedly helped mass-murderer Sirius Black escape from Azkaban earlier this summer. The only evidence was a note bearing Black's magical signature and allegedly addressed to her. The note claimed that their next target was to be her former legal guardian Severus Snape – who was once a Death Eater – for defecting from his master whom Black is trying to find. The note also alleged that Gilderoy Lockhart, who is still at large, may have a connection to He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named.

This reporter has never heard a more ridiculous claim. Other than the fact that Daisy Dursley is a Muggleborn witch who didn't even know the wizarding world existed until she received her Hogwarts letter, she has only just turned thirteen, with her school records revealing she is o average intelligence. It is difficult to comprehend how would she have been able to plot Black's escape and gather the help necessary to execute a near-impossible feat when the entire wizarding world all watched as her grief over her Muggle father's death and the repercussions of her torture under the hands of Lockhart ate away at her small frame, and if rumours are to be believed, her sanity.

The brutal attack which Daisy underwent whilst in Ministry custody is evidence that this was all just a ruse in order to get Daisy away from the warded safety of the home she shares with her mother and cousin, Harry Potter. It would come as little surprise if it came to be revealed that the attack was orchestrated by Dolores Umbridge, who was immediately sacked by Lucius Malfoy upon his arrival at the Ministry. Though she denies the attack, she does not deny having used the full powers that the Emergency Act allows her, and is facing suspension even from her role as Senior Undersecretary to the Minister as a full investigation is launched.

Following further revelations, which they are currently not at liberty to discuss, the Magical Law Enforcement Department is also considering dropping the charges against Daisy.

"As Head Auror in this investigation I do not personally believe that Miss Dursley helped Sirius Black in his escape," Kingsley Shacklebolt told the Daily Prophet, "I believe that there is more to this story, and while I think she may be implicated, there could be whole host of reasons for this, most notably her connection to Harry Potter."

It is rumoured that Aurors are returning to their original theory that Sirius Black is after Harry Potter, for he is vilified by fanatics as he is praised by the wizarding world for having brought to a halt He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's reign of terror. They are investigating the possibility that Daisy's inquisitive nature brought her into Black's path, and to avoid detection he deflected the blame so that she would be unable to reveal his whereabouts.

It has also not been ruled out that Black himself was at the origin of the attack. A former Auror, Black's escape from Azkaban has displayed his ability to circumvent Ministry security protocols. Another possibility is that Lockhart took this opportunity to further torment the young girl, but it has been deemed unlikely. Lockhart has a tendency to leave a trail of bodies wherever he goes, as he did when he attacked Dursley at St. Mungo's earlier this year. A more likely possibility is that Umbridge, known for her dislike and draconian measures against the very people she was charged to protect, allowed access to Daisy to those who wished her harm in an effort to have her confess to a crime she didn't do. This would not be the first time she was accused of coercing Muggleborns into serving disproportionate sentences in Azkaban or paying hefty fines to avoid the prison.

If Daisy succumbs to her injuries, Umbridge will be charged with manslaughter and be sentenced to Azkaban – a breath of justice for all the Muggleborns that have been imprisoned on her watch. As we write, Daisy is believed to be fighting some sort of infection aggravated by the extent of her horrific injuries and the healing limitations imposed by past injuries.

The Malfoy family, who currently have custody over the young witch until a hearing is held to determine her exact placement, have declined to comment. Lucius Malfoy has gone as far as temporarily handing over his duties as Head of the Muggleborn Commission to his right-hand man, Head Agent Albert Runcorn so that he may dedicate his entire attention to the girl.


Harry couldn't breathe as he stared at the picture emblazoned across the front page. Daisy's arm looked grotesquely thin as it hung in the chain on the wall, the pallor of her skin accentuation the darkness of the bruises that littered it. Her hair had been hacked off, all uneven lengths, exposing the bruised neck and ripped collar of the sweatshirt she had been wearing when Snape hauled her off. A hand flew to his mouth at the sight of her exposed legs, her jeans shredded to a few pieces limply covering her. Even in the black and white picture, he knew what the dark streaks mixed in with the dark bruises meant.

He only managed to make it to the sink as his breakfast came back up.

This wasn't what he had wanted for her, Harry thought bitterly as another wave of nausea sent him heaving, fingers desperately clinging to the coolness of the sink for support. He'd just wanted her to feel how he'd felt. He'd wanted her to have a taste of her own medicine, to knock her down a peg or two. He'd wanted to get revenge. He'd never wanted that.

He couldn't even understand how the Daily Prophet could have that on their front page.

Daisy would be livid when she found out. He could already see in his mind's eye the tantrum she would throw at being seen so vulnerable – by the entire wizarding world. It had been bad enough when everyone was speculating and Levi-Strauss wanted to play up the "poor little Daisy" angle, but now there was no other angle to play. Her image had been carefully selected before, with wardrobe choices and press releases carefully thought out down to the "close sources", but now…

This was the real Daisy Dursley. The one that Harry had been upset that some people refused to see, as if the things they read about her were entirely made up, works of fictions. Harry had seen her on her death bed, recovering from actual surgery to fix the damage his uncle's shotgun had wreaked on her insides; he'd seen in the aftermaths of an episode, when she lay curled up under her covers, unseeing and unresponsive, not moving for hours on end or being fitfully held down by her mother as her hands clawed at her skin; but even he had to admit that this was worse.

And on top of her injuries, she had some sort of infection, which could mean anything.

Because of him.

Deep in thought, Harry didn't realise Aunt Petunia had come down until he heard her gasp.

"Aunt Petunia…" Harry said, rushing to take the paper from her hands but she moved it out of reach, using her height to her advantage. Her blue eyes roved over the article urgently but always came back to the picture. Harry couldn't imagine what his aunt was thinking, and her face gave away nothing which in itself was a telling sign.

"Was she telling the truth?" Petunia demanded, though her voice came out barely above a whisper.

"Aunt Petunia – you couldn't have known," Harry tried, finding the lies flowed less easily with the heavy weight of guilt pressed against his chest but he also knew his aunt would never speak to him again if she found out the truth. Instead he worked on assuaging the guilt that suddenly crushed his aunt's face. "After all she's done, you're not to blame for thinking she was capable of this. You didn't do this. You couldn't have known."

"Did you do this?"

"W-what? No, of course not! I would never! I-" Harry shut his mouth abruptly, realising that he had become the type of person who would do that. Feeling his aunt's gaze on him, he latched onto another train of though. "Maybe – maybe Snape did. The twins we're convinced he's been…influencing you, and they think Black is after me, not him and – and – and the article says he was a Death Eater. And Snape and Daisy really haven't been getting on."

The words tumbled out of Harry's mouth before he could really stop them, in that moment forgetting that this was the man who had gotten him to help before he bled to death from his scar. This was the man who had done anything and everything for Daisy up until the point he thought she had set Black on him – and even then, he'd continued to help her until they'd written that note. This was the man who'd been there for his aunt since the moment they discovered Daisy had been kidnapped.

The same thought seemed to be running through Petunia's mind as she said, "Severus would never do that to me."

Even as she said it, the last words Dudley had screamed as he hastily stuffed his clothes into a duffel bag ran through her mind. "You're pathetic, you know that? Fucking pathetic! A man comes along and you just believe everything he says! Was Dad not bad enough? You let that greaseball into our lives! You let him split up our family and now you let him take my sister! SHE DIDN'T DO THIS! She didn't do this and – and I bet you she's not coming back. I didn't even get to say goodbye – you should have at least let me say goodbye. She's – she's my sister. I hate you. And I'll never forgive you."

"I have a headache," Petunia declared suddenly, letting the paper slip through her thin fingers, before she wandered off in a half-daze.

Harry waited until he was sure she was in her room before heading outside, checking that her curtains were still drawn before crossing over into the garden of number 13. He'd discovered the night that Dudley ran off and he ran out into the street to bring a sobbing Aunt Petunia back inside that the wards on the house only served to keep Daisy in and strangers out – he was free to wonder anywhere within a mile of the house without issue. Aunt Petunia hadn't told him for fear that Daisy would use this information to cause trouble.

This information had allowed Sirius to permanently move into the abandoned house next door, its dusty, abandoned interior providing them with the cover they needed for their meetings. The last thing either of them needed was Aunt Petunia discovering where Sirius Black really was.

"Tell me that you come bearing food," Sirius said as he caught sight of Harry entering the living room. It had a rundown sofa that Harry never sat in (he was fairly sure he'd catch something) and a coffee table that despite still having four legs, had seen much better days. Unable to use magic for fear of having his magic detected if Aurors showed up in the area, there wasn't much Sirius could do to fix it up.

"I told you I can't bring you as much anymore – I don't eat anywhere near as much as Dudley. Aunt Petunia would grow suspicious," Harry said, though he handed Sirius a sandwich and an apple nonetheless. He then slumped down on the rickety three-legged stool they'd found upstairs, running a hand through his hair as he stared at the rolled-up paper in his other hand. "I – I think we made a mistake. Daisy's seriously hurt."

Sirius reached over and accepted the newspaper Harry handed him. Harry watched his godfather carefully, but the picture on the front page didn't seem to dampen his appetite, reading the article slowly, stretched out on the sofa in a languid manner as if he was just reading a particularly interesting article on the weather. Harry frowned when Sirius merely shrugged and cast the newspaper aside. "It's nothing less than she deserves."

"For beating me up? I didn't – what if she dies?"

"You didn't think we were sending her to Azkaban on a spa holiday, did you?" Sirius asked, his tone just shy of condescending. "Her pals got her out of there quickly enough – Malfoy probably paid quite a bit to have that article published and get public opinion on her side. Personally, I hope she dies."

Harry gaped at Sirius. "How can you say that?"

"Who is the first person she's coming after when she's all better? Me. And once I've snuffed it, she and her Lord are coming after you. So, the way I see it, better she snuffs it sooner than forcing me to kill her later."

"Sirius!"

"What?" Sirius rolled his eyes at the disbelieving look on Harry's face, figuring that sitting up might convey the idea that he might care even a little about what happened to the Death-Eater-in-making everyone seemed to be making a fuss about. "Harry, you're the one who said that she'd come after us given the chance. I'll do anything to protect you. Surely you know that?"

"I should have known this was a bad idea," Harry said instead, beginning to pace as if that would off-set the gnawing feeling in his stomach. "I should have thought! I should have – I should have waited until I'd calmed down. Do you even care that she's hurt?"

"She hurt you," Sirius said simply. "Again, I'm not entirely sure what you though Azkaban involved."

"I thought it was a prison! She didn't even make it to the prison!"

"Azkaban is guarded by Dementors, Harry, Dark creatures that feed on the happiness of human beings, leaving them with nothing but their darkest memories – that's when they're not sucking out souls. If she's as mentally unstable as the Daily Prophet loves to make out, then they'd have ripped her mind to shreds within a week, a month tops. She was either going to die or kill herself anyway."

"You never told me that!"

Sirius shrugged. "I assumed you knew. It's a lucky thing I'm an Animagus really. Would have lost my mind otherwise." The man paused in thought before biting into the apple. "I really hope she doesn't tell her pals about my form. It'll be a real inconvenience."

Harry could only stare at his godfather. The man clearly had lost his bloody marbles. It suddenly occurred to Harry that there might have been a reason that Dumbledore chose to leave this man in Azkaban for twelve years despite knowing that he was innocent. Sirius had told Harry that Dumbledore had known that Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper, so he would have known that Sirius couldn't have done what he'd been accused of. But what if he'd done something else?

Harry stumbled back, bracing himself against the mould bitten wall as he realised a major inconvenience that was heading their way.

"Fuck," Harry swore. "He's coming. Voldemort is coming."

"What are you on about?" Sirius questioned.

"Daisy said that Voldemort saved her life. He possessed Lockhart to protect her from him. After her father shot her and it was all over the papers, he showed up at St. Mungo's. If Mr Malfoy had that placed on the front page – and Levi-Strauss let it - it's nothing to do with public opinion. It's so that he knows exactly what's happened to Daisy. It's so he comes back from wherever he's lurking." Harry let out strangled moan, sliding to the floor. "I'm so dead. I am so, so dead. Voldemort's actually going to kill me."

"He was going to kill you before. It wouldn't be the first time he tried it, remember?"

"No. Daisy promised to vouch for me. Draco didn't think she could do it, but she swore she'd do everything to stop him from killing me. At the very least I'd have a couple more years." Harry whacked his head against the wall. "I can't believe I was so stupid. I was just so angry, and upset and emotional – and you – you made it seem like such a great idea! Oh, we're just sending her to Azkaban, you said – you seem pretty happy to see her die!"

"Harry – Harry look at me," Sirius said as he crouched down in front of his godson. "After all that family has done to you, don't you think you have a right to see it fall apart? You were just a little boy – Lily and James' son – and they treated you like shit. This? This is karma. This is justice. This is exactly what they deserve."

"Daisy dead? Dudley gone? What is Aunt Petunia supposed to do all by herself?"

"She has Snape, doesn't she? And you, I suppose? Harry, you didn't even know she was your godmother until I told you! For the first ten years of your life when all you deserved was love, she turned her back on you. Do you really think if her daughter wasn't everything she'd always wanted to be, 'Tunie would have given you a second look? You don't need her. You've got me now."

"That's not – that not what I wanted!"

"What did you want, Harry?"

"I just – I just wanted them to love me, like they love each other."

"Erm, didn't the old man try to off his own daughter? And personally, if Snape showed up on my doorstep telling me he's carting you off to Azkaban, I'd get us out of the country so fast, we'd be on the other side of the world before I stopped to ask if you're even innocent. And that son of hers would rather soothe his hurt pride than stick around when his mother needs him most. You don't want anything to do with that family. They're twisted and you're well-rid."

"That family is my family!" Harry found himself saying. "They raised me, and did a terrible job at it, but at least they were there! Where were you, huh? You were so busy trying to kill your best friend that you forgot you were supposed to be looking after me! And then you only break out of prison so you get the chance to try kill him again!" Harry's eyes widened as he realised something. "This was never about me, was it? You just – you just want to kill people!"

"Don't be daft, Harry. The only way to prove my innocence just happens to be to kill that traitor."

"No, it bloody well isn't! I know you're innocent and Pettigrew is still alive and well! I can't believe this! I can't believe I trusted you!" Harry snorted. "You know, I wondered how the hell Daisy could have trusted Voldemort but now I can see how easy it is to trust the wrong person, especially when they tell you all the things you want to hear."

A dark look appeared on Sirius' face. "You had your part in this. You came crying to me and I gave you a solution. Don't come crying that you don't like the consequences."

"You wanted her dead," Harry spat. "Admit it."

"By my calculations, that would make you and that family even for how they treated you."

"Well it won't really matter, because we'll be dead. Unless you've got some genius plan on how to stop a grief-stricken Dark Lord from torturing us to insanity before killing us. That's if Dudley doesn't get to us first. So there goes hiding in Muggle London – I don't really fancy getting shot." Harry let out a bitter laugh. "Oh, this just gets even better. Flint! I'd forgotten about Marcus bloody Flint. Yeah, I'm dead. I am so dead."

"Now you're just being melodramatic. Voldemort doesn't have a heart. Besides, worst-case scenario we'll just go to Dumbledore. He always has a plan."

"You said you couldn't trust a man who'd left you to rot in Azkaban for twelve years."

"Yes well, when said man has a way to help me avoid getting carved up by a murderous Dark Lord, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."

"I don't believe this."

"It'll be fun. It'll be the two of us against the world, like it was meant to be all along."

Harry merely stared back at the man who was looking down at him hopefully, this time completely at a loss for words. As much as Daisy had been an idiot for trusting a Dark wizard trapped in a Diary, he'd been an idiot for trusting this man, fresh out of Azkaban, with questionable motives for escaping and absolutely no qualms about seeing Daisy dead.


"Narcissa, we have a guest."

Narcissa jumped to her feet as her eyes met the ruby red irises of the young man stood next to her husband. She did not know how to greet him, and felt relief when he did nothing more than cross the room to Daisy's side.

He gingerly reached out to touch her face, fingers trailing over the bruises still littering her face, her right eye bruised shut, bulging grotesquely under purple and yellow swelling. Her hair stood up at all angles, and it angered him knowing how much she had taken pride in her hair. A hair brush was one of the first things she'd insisted they pack when they were leaving Hogwarts, and when she was feeling particularly homesick, she would ask if he would brush it out for her before bed, and when he was feeling particularly kind he would indulge her, running his fingers through the smooth straight tresses.

"Why has she not been healed?" Tom demanded.

"My Lord, during her time at the Ministry she acquired a chest infection and the Healers deemed it necessary to heal that above all else," Lucius said smoothly when Narcissa stood frozen at the magic that flared out with his anger, magic she had hoped she would never feel again. "Too much strain has already been placed on her body. They preferred to err on the side of caution and allow any non-threatening injuries to heal naturally."

"Who is responsible for this?"

"Dolores Umbridge is thought to have had a part in it but we can't know anymore until Daisy tells us what happened. On Healer's orders we have not asked any questions when she has been awake and lucid. The fever took a while to break."

"You did well, Lucius," Tom said, still not taking his eyes off the girl before him. He traced her bandaged hands, finding comfort in the little twitch of her fingers at his touch. "I can almost forgive you for trying to destroy me."

"My Lord," Lucius said, "I only meant to see you restored to full power."

"It would be in your best interest not to try and lie to me, Lucius. I know your father told you of my earlier intentions – you knew that I once sought to destroy you all. You also knew that my immortality brought about insanity which he was able to twist for his own purposes. You will live so long as Daisy lives – and so long as she wishes for you to still be breathing."

"You are merciful."

Tom turned to look coldly at the bowing man. "Leave us."

Alone, Tom allowed his features to soften, letting his concern bleed into his features, and replacing the glamour of his natural eye colour, something he had learned to do purely for her sake. At first he sat in the chair that Narcissa had occupied, but as he grew restless he joined her on the bed, stretching out on top of the covers, merely watching her, occasionally reaching out to touch her. He shouldn't have left her. He had been so tempted to return to Britain the minute he woke up from the ritual alive, but then he'd remembered he'd promised her a normal life. He'd really believed she could have that if he stayed away. Instead she'd been dragged into this Sirius Black nonsense.

He knew she'd been up to something just before the magic of the ritual had pulled her in, but that had been after Black had escaped. Like the Daily Prophet speculated, she was involved somehow, but he doubted she had been the one to spring Black from Azkaban. If she was capable of that feat, she would not have found herself in this position once more. He hated how vulnerable she was when he knew she was capable of so much more. That was how it seemed to work though: the weak would always try and trample the strong, to deny them of their birth right for fear of discovering that their rightful place was at the bottom of the pile.

The next person who tried to trample her would die.

Daisy stirred.

"Tom…?" she asked uncertainly. He caught her wince as she turned to face him, his face blank at the fury he felt when only one full blue eye stared back into his own. He tried to control it, but the red bled out into his blue eyes. "Y-you!"

"Daisy," Tom tried as Daisy edged backwards, her movements sluggish but determined. "Daisy, please calm down. It's me, Tom."

"You're not Tom," Daisy rasped, edging further still, slowed down by the covers trapping her feet and tangling with the pale blue night gown she wore. "You're him! You're Voldemort!"

"Yes and no – for God's sake, Daisy, stop struggling!" He grabbed the ankle of the foot that had just hit him square in the stomach as she scooted away, dragging her towards him with ease despite her efforts to get away. "I am Tom! I am your Tom!"

"No, you're not!"

There was no way that he could be her Tom. Firstly, her Tom had dark blue eyes that could promise a world of pain one moment before crinkling in humour at her expense the next. The eyes that stared back at her were unlike those she had ever seen on a human. No human was supposed to have red eyes, that reminded her of two deep pools of blood. Secondly, her Tom had been young, merely a few years older than her, just on the edge of wizarding adulthood. The man that hovered over her, forcefully pinning her arms to the bed as she scraped her nails across the skin of his cheeks was a lot older. Though the cheekbones and jaw synonymous with his aristocratic features remained, his face had filled out and his skin had acquired a pale, waxy texture whereas she knew her Tom was capable of tanning, though he argued it made him look common. No, this was not her Tom.

"Don't be ridiculous," Tom snarled as Daisy began to scream, calling out for help before she was promptly silenced by his magic. "I want you to listen to me. I know this is a shock. And yes, I am Lord Voldemort, but that is because he is my past, my present and future. I cannot escape him and, in some ways, I would not want to. But I am your Tom. Let me prove it to you."

Daisy froze as he shifted, the weight of his body on her legs as he straddled them to stop her from trying to escape. Her eyes widened when he undid his robes and begun to undo the crisp white shirt he wore underneath. By the time, it fell open, revealing a black diary chained to his chest over his heart, she was shaking.

"You see it, don't you?" Tom demanded. He took hold of her right hand and pressed it against the Diary, his eyes fluttering closed at her touch. At least that had not changed. "I am your Tom."

His eyes snapped open at the sound of the bedroom door opening.

"Get out," Tom hissed at a wide-eyed Narcissa, taking in the sight of the crumpled bedsheets showing signs of a struggle and the Dark Lord, with his shirt unbuttoned, straddling a shaking Daisy, who had sharply removed her hand from the dark wizard's bare chest at Tom's demand. "Are you deaf, woman?"

"My Lord, I – I heard screams and – and Daisy is still recovering," Narcissa said, standing her ground under the weight of the deathly glare being issued at her right now. "The Healers recommended that she rest. Any…excessive exertion…could set back her healing for an undetermined amount of time."

"Do you presume to care more about Daisy's well-being than I?"

"No, of course not, but-"

"Then get out. Unless of course, you'd prefer it if I killed you where you stand."

Tom glared at the door until he was sure that Narcissa was far away from it. Instead he turned his attention back to Daisy, who had turned her head to the side and was silently shaking under him. "Daisy, what is it?"

"C-could you please just get off me?" Daisy asked.

Tom complied wordlessly, and as he rebuttoned his shirt, he watched as she slowly shifted until she was back under the covers, each layer tightly wrapped around her, her eyes never leaving his. He neatened up the covers before lying down beside her, his movements slow and once he was stretched out parallel to her, he remained perfectly still, allowing her to take him in.

"You're not the main Soul Fragment," she said after a while, slightly surprised but relieved he did not plunge into her mind to make up for the silence that stretched between them, "but you're not the same Tom. Who are you?"

"Your Tom," he began, but her face did not show any signs of being moved by his declaration. "It would seem that I acquired another one of my Soul Fragments when I thought I was dying, one that I made after. This is a good thing. It makes me stronger than the Main Soul Fragment – I merely have figure out a way to kill him without us becoming one."

"Did it hurt?"

"Tremendously."

"I'm glad you're alright," Daisy said after she had finished raking her eyes over inch of him, trying to take in the fact that this was now her Tom. Though she didn't particularly like it – she didn't even want to try and guess why his eyes were red – it was better than having Lockhart's face staring back at her. That Tom still gave her nightmares. "I was worried."

"You were worried? I barely left you alone five minutes and you got yourself mixed up with this Black nonsense. Look at you, Daisy. Look at what they did to you." She stiffened as he reached out to touch her face, but she did not move away. "Who did this to you?"

"I don't want to talk about it."

"I want to talk about it."

"Tom, please," Daisy pleaded tiredly, already missing the cool distance that Lucius and Narcissa maintained in her presence. Though they were more affectionate in the presence of Healers, alone they didn't seem particularly bothered about her other than knowing she was alive or not. "Not now."

"You're hiding something."

"I'm always hiding something. I just don't want you to go on a murderous rampage right now. I want you to stay here. Stay here with me."

Tom narrowed his eyes at her, but conceded that it was not the right time to push her for answers. He could tell that her initial fight had tired her out, her good eye drooping in fatigue. Instead he reached out and slowly shifted them both until he she lay with her back against his front, separated by the covers. He didn't say anything; merely waited for the moment when she finally relaxed against him.

"I didn't think you'd come," Daisy said.

"Why?" he asked.

"Marcus didn't come."

"I am not that half-breed." He pressed a kiss into the top of her head, inhaling her scent. This was the first time holding her as himself in the world outside their minds. "I will always come when you need me. You are mine as I am yours."

"You said you loved me."

"As you rightly pointed out, I thought I was dying at the time," Tom said nonchalantly. "I care about you immensely. You are the only human being in existence whose well-being I might place above my own. You were willing to give your life so that – so that I might not die alone."

"So, you don't love me?"

"Not unless I'm dying."

As Daisy opened her mouth to demand a clearer answer, she started coughing. Tom immediately understood what had them concerned. It was a deep chesty cough, the kind when heard at the orphanage had almost always signalled death in the Muggle children. Except he had not been a Muggle child, nor an ordinary child, and had only spent an entire month in bed, feeling like the cold would never leave his bones and that the fever on his skin would burn everything around him.

The Matron had never sent him back to those hospitals after that.

Tom spotted a pot of rubbing cream on the bedside table and reached for it, continuing to gently stroke Daisy's back as she almost doubled in half with the force of the cough. "Will you let me apply some of this? It'll help."

"Only…only if you promise…no murdering rampage," Daisy managed to get out in between coughs. She gladly accepted the goblet of water he held out to her, taking small sips to soothe the burning dryness in her throat. "Promise you'll stay."

"I'll remain in the Manor," Tom conceded. "There are some things that your new guardians and I have yet to discuss."

"They've been kind to me," Daisy argued as she unbuttoned her night gown and lowered it to allow him access to her chest and back. "And without Mr Malfoy you and I would have never met."

Daisy saw the anger in Tom's eyes as he carefully applied the menthol heavy cream across her chest, his touch lighter on the bigger bruise in the centre of her chest. She wondered if he could tell what had caused it. She felt his rage when she turned around and she could feel his fingers tracing the vivid red scars that now marred her back. Scars that thanks to her chest infection might never heal.

"Disobedience must be punished," Tom said as he finished applying the cream, returning to the topic of the conversation to stop himself from throttling her and demanding that she tell him this instant who had dared do that to her.

"They're not yours to punish," Daisy said, buttoning up her night robe once more and snuggling back under the covers, her chest feeling much clearer than it had moments before.

"They are."

Daisy frowned. "Then you killed my aunt and uncle."

"I did."

He saw no point in lying to her. The truth would come out eventually, and her reaction would always be the same. The emotional conflict within her was written clearly across her face. He reached down and tucked her into bed, smoothing her hair away from her face as she watched him, more out of habit than anything else. "Rest, Daisy," he said. "I'll still be here."

"But if you killed-? When could you – when was that Soul Fragment created?"

"When I tried to kill your cousin and the spell rebounded on me."

"I don't-" Daisy's mouth fell open at the realisation. "His scar! You were in his scar! That's why it burst open! That's why it's healing! You're basically him."

"Except I'm not," Tom said. "Rest."


DAISY DURSLEY OFFICIALLY WARD OF HOUSE MALFOY

In a surprise turn of events, the Wizengamot awarded full custody to Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy in a hearing which took place yesterday evening. The Wizengamot is said to have revised its previous decision on the basis that the demand was introduced by Mrs Malfoy. In regards to welfare of Under Age magical children, the wizarding laws will always look favourably upon mothers unless there are strong reasons not to. Narcissa Malfoy is mother to their only son and heir, Draco.

Daisy's Muggle mother was summoned but did not attend the hearing.

Her previous legal guardian Professor Severus Snape was unable to be reached for comment, though it was pointed out he had only been given the role by default as Daisy's Head of House.

It is still unknown whether Daisy will be returning to Hogwarts with her fellow students or if the Malfoys will be applying for Medical Exemption. The Muggleborn Protection Act currently requires all Muggleborn children Under Age to attend Hogwarts.


A/N: Gasp! An update! In the same year! This was meant to be a much shorter chapter so I could update quicker but then it grew a life force of its own, notably the Sirius/Harry exchange and trying (but no doubt failing) to have Daisy not just be like "oh, you're a completely different Voldemort but let me just love you anyway!". As if their relationship needed to get any creepier, ha.

Explanation for my Sirius: the Sirius we get to know in canon is a man who's had almost a year out of Azkaban when we first meet him in the Shrieking Shack, and then has spent over a year on the run with a Hippogriff to take care off and Harry's wellbeing to think about (albeit from a distance) when we see him again in Order of the Phoenix. My Sirius Black is barely out of Azkaban, which he escaped with a single-minded determination to go and kill Pettigrew in order to keep Harry safe. Events lead to a deviation in this plan, and he's overjoyed to meet Harry but wary of Daisy who he's read about and can read between the lines – he suspects that she's not all she seems and that there's ties to "Dark" Slytherins. And theeeen, Harry disappears for a week, comes back completely distraught and tells his hungry, fresh-out-of-prison godfather that Daisy befriended the Dark Lord who killed one of Sirius' best friend in the entire world and countless of his other friends and not to mention his brother. He hasn't had time to know a world where they're not at war and where all Death Eaters aren't bad and generally pose a threat to all those around them. Especially when it turned out his best friend was one, so he just sees Daisy betraying them all anyway so why not get rid of her before she has the chance? Also, can we not forget that this is a man who sent Snape to Remus as a joke?

I wanted to give him a different dimension. And also to address the question: why did Dumbledore leave an innocent man in prison for twelve years? The usual explanation is that Dumbledore is evil or he just made an honest mistake and really didn't know. However, I think it's also telling that Sirius had to stay on house arrest during OotP when with Polyjuice and other techniques, Sirius could have avoided detection and done some good, like recruiting abroad or something. I propose that there's a Reason. And knowing me, it's elaborate.


Totally real preview for a chapter lightyears from now:

"I say we do what we've been saying from the beginning – I say we kill her!"

Wary glances were exchanged across the dining table, and Kingsley and Remus looked particularly uncomfortable.

"Sirius-" Dumbledore began wearily, his age showing in the low light of the kitchen where they had all gathered, but Sirius interrupted him.

"No, you listen to me! There are only two reasons she exists: she is Voldemort's successor or she is going to bear him his successor and there is only one rational response to that! You kill it! You kill it with Fiendfyre!"

"Sirius, we don't know that," Remus tried.

"Then what on Earth would he want with a Muggleborn, huh? He didn't just change his entire philosophy because Daisy is pretty!"

"She's not a Muggleborn," Dumbledore sighed. Everyone turned to him, surprise etched on their faces. "When I left Harry with the Dursley family, he wasn't the only infant that I had to find a home for that night. I knew Petunia had trouble conceiving and had always wanted a daughter, so I made it happen. She is not their biological daughter."

"Aha!" Sirius said triumphantly. "She's a Malfoy! I knew it!"

"No, Sirius – she's yours."

At the look in Dumbledore's eyes, the same those eyes when Sirius had demanded to be let out into the field, Sirius knew exactly what that meant. The occupants of the kitchen turned to watch as Remus stood up suddenly, his chair crashing to the floor before storming out.

"She knows, doesn't she? That's the only reason why I'm still alive, isn't it? Is - is that why she came looking for me?"

"And you sent her to Azkaban."


Hahaha. No. I'm joking. Or am I...?

This is exactly why nothing ever gets updated. I just go on these weird tangents, plan for them, write like five chapters and then I'll get to a point and be like "what are you even doing?" I literally have a chapters in my drafts where Daisy goes to Blaise's adoption ceremony and saves Blaise from one of his mother's spurned lovers - by jumping off a balcony, running across a garden and reaching them before any adult even notices what has happened and singlehandedly taking down a man twice her size without a wand. And then Marcus obviously challenges Blaise to a duel because that is his mate, but because Blaise is under age, they have to wait four year to do it and in the mean time there's a feud between the families and pushes the boys to do increasingly ridiculous feats to prove their worth to Daisy. This was scrapped because this is not Twilight. And if it was, Tom is Edward, Marcus is Jacob and Blaise is just some weedy kid from school who never had a chance. Ha. Anyway.

Until next time!