Harry and Malfoy walked into Dumbledore's office, Fawkes was perched right on the desk gave a friendly chirp before appearing to spontaneously combust and disappeared, leaving them alone with only a charred feather behind.
"What was that about?" asked Malfoy, puzzled at the phoenixes actions.
"Probably going to get, Dumbledore." replied Harry, sitting down in one of the chair.
"It's strange that you find that normal…" muttered Malfoy, as he copied Harry's actions and sitting down. Dumbledore appeared with another spark of fire, making Malfoy jump in surprise.
"Harry...and Mr Malfoy, now this is surprising…" said Dumbledore, eyeing the pair with mixed expression of befuddlement and curiosity.
"You know why I'm here, well part of the reason at least…" muttered Harry, as Malfoy shifted in his seat.
"Yes…as you could guess my office was empty as I was attempting to track your whereabouts due to a rather powerful magical outburst from yourself. I take it from his presence that Mr Malfoy had something to do with it…Mr Filch is probably thinking Peeves unscrewed all the chandeliers at once…again." muttered Dumbledore, a slight twinkle in his eye at the mention of the mischievous poltergeist.
"I did have something to do with it…but not the reason you might be thinking...you want to take this one?" asked Malfoy, who looked slightly on edge.
"Malfoy and I made a sort of truce earlier in the year…after figuring out the life of a Death Eater isn't as glamorous or stylish as his father led him to believe, but like a certain someone we both know…his father and Voldemort himself thinks that Draco is on their 'side' and has been given a task…" said Harry, speaking with care and delicacy.
"I see…and what is this task?" asked Dumbledore, realising the seriousness of the situation.
"I can only tell you, if you promise to ensure the safety of Malfoy and his mother. Malfoy risked his life by telling me and…I'm asking if you can protect them." stated Harry, swallowing his pride and getting straight to the point.
"I will do that for you, Harry..." said Dumbledore, warmed by the trust and respect Harry still had for him.
"Great…Voldemort asked Malfoy to repair a Vanishing Cabinet that is here in Hogwarts, Voldemort has the other and once the connection is fixed…" said Harry, leaving Dumbledore to make his own assumptions.
"Are you sure?" asked Dumbledore, looking at Malfoy instead of Harry. Again, Malfoy only nodded in response.
"That is worrying…if Voldemort intends to attack Hogwarts…his forces must be more substantial than I thought…" murmured Dumbledore, standing up and looking out of his window and over a snow-covered Hogwarts.
"Or…he's making a bold, brash move to keep up appearances with his followers. Think about it, Voldemort has no financial backing, increased rights for Aurors and Magical Law Enforcement Officers, the death penalty...it could be an act of desperation." reasoned Harry, his counter argument leaving the room quiet.
"But…why Hogwarts? If we move past the obvious longstanding vendettas he has against both of you…Why not go after the Ministry? Surely that's more logical…" said Malfoy, looking at both Dumbledore and Harry.
"Voldemort isn't logical…" said Harry, pointedly.
"But he's not a fool either, Harry…Voldemort was an orphan, never fitting in and never feeling at home until he came to Hogwarts…After he left I'm sure he missed Hogwarts dearly…I'm certain that both of you have heard of the supposed curse on the Defence Against The Dark Arts position?" asked Dumbledore, turning away from the window and looking at Harry and Malfoy. The pair slowly nodded in unison, both wondering where the Headmaster was going with this.
"It started when Voldemort applied for the position after Professor Merrythought retired, even then rumours were circulating around him and his Death Eaters...I denied him the position and the rest, as they say...is history..." said Dumbledore, sinking back into his chair.
"So…the reason he wants to take over and rule Hogwarts because he thinks of this place as his home?" asked Malfoy, sounding unconvinced.
"I wouldn't say that is the sole reason, Mr Malfoy…but I would hazard a guess that it is one of them." replied Dumbledore, taking a lemon drop from the glass bowl on his desk.
"What are the others?" asked Harry, not looking at Dumbledore. He had been thinking over the description that Dumbledore had given of pre-Hogwarts Voldemort, it sounded much like himself, never fitting in...or feeling and sense of belonging until arriving at the magical castle.
"Speculation on my behalf of course, personal theories and such..." said Dumbledore, as he busied himself unwrapping the lemon drop in his hands.
"Such as?" pressed Harry, the aged Headmaster had many qualities and one he knew well was the secretive nature that Dumbledore had, not wanting to relinquish information unless he felt it was appropriate. But now, with the Order joining forces with the Ministry and Dumbledore trying to rebuild Harry's trust, maybe he would try and change.
"Hogwarts...is regarded as the safest place in the British Isles, with the improvements made over the summer holidays, the only way anyone could penetrate through the defences would be from the inside, and even then it would be challenging..." Dumbledore stopped for a moment, savouring the soured sweet before continuing. "The extensive warding system, combined with the dozens of protections added over time by countless generations...Hogwarts is a fortress, and one that has been attended by a large majority of the witches and wizards in Great Britain. When people think back on Hogwarts, I would like to think that they all have fond memories of the castle and its grounds, the last few years aside…there has rarely been an incident of any kind that has affected the entire student population, people have a personal attachment to Hogwarts, if it were taken over by Voldemort...the belief, the idea that Hogwarts is place to grow and learn, it would be shattered. The place that nearly every witch and wizard across the country and even some outside of it, the one place everyone holds dear to their hearts, is Hogwarts. To break the defences would be to break the spirit of magical folk, worldwide...Hogwarts is a beacon of light among the growing darkness, and as such cannot be invaded by Voldemort and his forces." said Dumbledore, sitting back in his chair and closing his eyes, he took a deep breath before opening them again. Both Harry and Malfoy kept quiet, the way Dumbledore had described it made it sound like if Voldemort conquered Hogwarts, he would effectively win the war. The full reality of what lay ahead of them was now clearer than ever before, and it didn't look or sound easy.
"Draco, I trust that your mother will be compliant and ready to leave Malfoy Manor at a moment's notice?" asked Dumbledore, looking at the blonde Slytherin.
"All of our possessions can be replaced, mother has been named the sole benefactor of the Malfoy fortune, although she is suspect in the eyes of the general public, neither of us has taken the Dark Mark." said Malfoy.
"Well, as there is no time like the present...I will see to it personally that your mother will be out of Malfoy Manor before sunrise and safe...elsewhere." said Dumbledore, looking at Harry who gave him a small nod.
"Wait, shouldn't we talk a bit more about this? Devise a plan of action?" asked Malfoy, sounding slightly panicked.
"Draco, I give you my word no harm will come to your mother. I am mentally formulating a very devious plan as we speak; rest assured all will come clear tomorrow morning. Would you be so kind as to let yourselves out?" asked Dumbledore, a smile and a vague twinkle in his eyes as Fawkes swept across the room and landed on his shoulder, and with a flash of fire left Harry and Malfoy alone in his office.
"What does that mean? Is he always that cryptic and infuriating?" demanded Malfoy, standing up and facing Harry.
"Believe it or not, that wasn't too bad for him." replied Harry, standing up and looking at Malfoy whose guard slipped for a moment and allowed a fleeting expression of worry on his face.
"Look...the one thing I know is that when Dumbledore has a plan, he'll follow it through." said Harry, clapping a hand on his friends shoulder.
"Looks like I'm just going to have to wait and see." said Malfoy, slightly disconcerted but with a hardened look in his eyes as they left the office.
It was the next morning and Harry was at breakfast, he had arrived exceptionally early in anticipation of something…anything…However, this hadn't been quite what he was expecting...
Malfoy Mansion Marched On!
In the early hours of this morning, the household of known Death Eater and former Ministry employee, Lucius Malfoy, was searched and seized in a joint operation between the Magical Law Enforcement Department and Auror Office. Permission was granted by Minister Bones in the early hours of the morning and carried out soon after, neighbouring households have reported an unknown third party participating and assisting alongside Ministry employees.
This reporter managed to find out a little more from an Auror who led the raid, but will remain nameless to protect his or her identity.
"In the early hours of this morning, a special unit took part in a 'high risk, high reward' assignment on the Malfoy household, the area was secured swiftly. Unfortunately our main target was not present however one arrest has been made, I'd like to add that a thorough search is still on going and is yielding positive results. Officials will remain at the scene until an official verdict is given, but what I can say is we have made great progress so far and with zero casualties; I consider it to be a complete success."
Indeed, reader might be disappointed to see that Lucius Malfoy was absent from the grounds, however Narcissa Malfoy was present and is being held pending further investigation. Authorities began an intensive search of the property shortly after securing the scene, and with several incriminating artefacts and goods being discovered already, with this daring raid is looking to be such an achievement, this reporter has to wonder…does the Ministry have any other plans to counter He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his allies? (More on pages 3-7)
Reported by Elias Pine.
Copies of the newspaper were scooped up as soon as they had hit the tables, he kept overhearing several people 'couldn't wait to shove it in Malfoys face' but his Slytherin friends was notably absent, the older Slytherin house members has scowls at anyone that jeered or insulted but kept reserved as a whole. Things didn't quieten down until Dumbledore and Snape, the latter of which had shadows under his eyes. As Dumbledore reached his seat, the Great Hall had dropped to an eerie silence as all looked up expectantly at the Headmaster. The long-bearded wizard surveyed the hall and cleared his throat.
"As I'm sure you are all aware, the family of one of your classmates is in The Daily Prophet today...this is not the first time that someone at Hogwarts has been in the media and I am sure it will not be the last...This news article will not affect the way that Draco Malfoy is regarded and treated amongst his peers, anyone found ridiculing, mocking, sneering or taunting about this subject, will have a hundred house points stripped from their respective house, and a lengthy amount of detention for the rest of the year. Whilst I am aware of the separation and divide among you, I will not tolerate segregation at Hogwarts whilst I am its Head." said Dumbledore, his voice much stricter and sterner than most in the hall had heard. He remained stood for a moment, seemingly staring into the eyes of every student as he peered over his half-moon spectacles, pointedly letting everyone know how serious he was about the subject before sitting down.
Breakfast continued as a quiet affair, with nobody daring to even mention the matter further. With a double period of Ancient Runes, Harry left earlier than he ever had for a lesson in the hopes of talking to Malfoy to smooth everything over and get some clarity. The blonde Slytherin was outside the classroom, his usual neat and tidy appearance had been replaced by an uncaring, casual one. His hair wasn't full of product and slicked back, instead it was scruffy and more natural looking, and his shirt was creased and untucked, with the sleeves of his jumper rolled up, one arm holding his robe over his shoulder nonchalantly as he lent against the wall, bag hanging to the side.
For some reason, Harry was disturbingly reminded of himself.
"'Sup..." said Malfoy, acknowledging Harry.
"'Sup?" asked Harry, in disbelief. Looking over the Slytherins appearance once more.
"It's supposed to look like I'm a mess..." said Malfoy, standing up straight.
"Right...you just look..." but, Harry couldn't find the words.
"Scruffy, undeveloped, uncaring…?"
"Different…the word I was looking for was different." he met the eye of his Slytherin friend.
"It did save a lot of time in the morning." stated Malfoy, leaning back against the wall.
"That's my excuse." muttered Harry, leaning next to Malfoy.
"You were right by the way..." said Malfoy, staring straight ahead at the wall opposite.
"About what?" asked Harry, lazily putting his bag down on the floor and ruffling his hair.
"Dumbledore...he had a plan, he followed it through." said Malfoy, an indifferent tone as though the matter bored him whereas less than twelve hours ago it was everything that mattered.
"Told you." said Harry, in an equally monotonous voice.
"Quite a schemer isn't he?" asked Malfoy, as though thinking aloud.
"You don't know the half of it." laughed Harry.
"The arrest is a cover...Dumbledore says I can contact her whenever I want..."
"Said I could even take time off to visit her...but that I'd have to ask your permission first..."
"What?" asked a bewildered Harry, turning to face Malfoy.
"Dumbledore said she's staying at your house in London for the time being, very generous of you I must say." the blonde had a classic smirk back on his face.
"Well you know me...sure you can go whenever you feel like it." said Harry, looking around as he heard echoes from the stairs of their classmates approaching. They casually began distancing themselves from one another as they always did, in order to keep up appearances.
"Good to hear, especially seeing as I'm spending the summer." sniped Malfoy, just before the other students walked onto the corridor. It was a mark of his Occlumency skills that his jaw didn't drop as they entered the classroom.
End Of Chapter.
(Authors Note – I'm sure that most won't be interested in this but I would like to apologise for the substantial wait and the size of the chapter. I started writing again for NaNoWriMo but couldn't find any creativity for it and used this chapter as an inbetween to get some ideas flowing. But then it occurred to me that before I start anything new I should finish this first. I wrote this over the last thirteen days along with plans for future chapters so the wait won't be nearly as long. Hope all is well, and once again…sorry.)