Disclaimer – I do not own 'Harry Potter' or 'The Swan Princess' This is fan fiction written for fun and in no way is meant to infringe on any copyrights.

Chapter 4

'Albus, Draco's life hangs in the balance of this-'

'Severus, I understand your concern for the boy-'

'Boy!' Snape raged, his cheeks turning an ugly shade of red. 'This 'boy' is my Godson'

Dumbledore's eyes may have twinkled sympathetically from behind their spectacles, but his features otherwise remained unchanged.

'Do you not think Miss Granger incredibly resourceful for her age? Gifted beyond that of any usual Witch of her generation?"

'Potter and Weasley barely have a brain cell between them" he spat out. "The Dark Lord would have been saved a lot of trouble if she weren't."

Dumbledore smiled rather ruefully at Snape's scowling face, he seemed to find Snape's current mood almost endearing.

'Have you not considered then that of everyone, Miss Granger is most capable of lifting Draco's curse?'

'If this was Potter, if this was the precious 'Chosen One' you'd have the entire Order on the case!"

Dumbledore looked at him solemn. 'You know as well as I old friend, that Harry is our only chance against the forces of darkness. He must come before us all.'

"And Draco's just the son of a Death eater - the son of Lucius Malfoy no less! What do the Order care if he's in trouble –'

'I care.' Dumbledore interrupted. He gave Snape a piercing look. 'If I recall correctly Severus, I've lent you a great deal of support over the years."

"Once I got down on my hands and knees..." Snape retorted, before sweeping back his cloak leaving the room before Dumbledore could reply.

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The sight of The Great Hall filled with food was ordinarily, a pleasant one. Living at Malfoy Manor, Draco was far accustomed to 'gourmet-dining' and usually he took as much as anyone. Today however, the mere sight of it set his stomach somersaulting. Snape had been oh so cavalier back when they had met outside his portrait. For someone so cynical, he appeared to have invested in Dumbledore an unusual amount of trust. A trust Draco for one, did not share. Granger would simply not stand for him 'weaselling 'out of his duties. If he were to disappear, Draco fully expected the frizzy-haired bookworm to storm the entire castle for him. It was a plan doomed to failure. Perhaps if Granger knew the curse he was under she might be more lenient but there was no way he was about to let her and the bloody Trio find out; he had little power left over his life but in this he did. He would rather die than have Granger know his appalling secret.

It was pointless, Draco decided, to sit there in front of piles and piles of food he had absolutely no intention of eating; knowing it would cause a stir, but doing it anyway, he abruptly rose from his seat. He could feel the eyes of the Slytherin table zoom in on him immediately, but showing nothing save a Malfoy's characteristic disdain and indifference, he left for his quarters.

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Lying down on his bed, Draco felt weary already and he half-contemplated skipping Potions and sleeping it through, if only to feel like he wasn't walking about dead on his feet. A lack of appetite wasn't improving the situation either. His thought lasted only a minute, because he was swiftly reminded that Snape would not tolerate his absence and it would highlight not only to his House but to Gryffindor that something was up. Draco groaned and he glanced at his left forearm. Refusing the mark, or as he had put it 'delaying' having the mark until he had 'fully earned the privilege' had seemed the only option. As the day he would be marked had loomed ever closer, the fear and just the claustrophobic truth that once marked, Voldermort would actually own him. Like a piece of cattle who'd had its owner's initials forever burned into it, everyone would know who he belonged to. Had day by day, slowly sank its claws into him and by the time that day had arrived, he had been beyond terrified...

Draco shuddered, his memory of that fateful meeting with Voldermort too horrific. He had begged to avoid this curse, only now could he appreciate just how naive he had been entering into the Death Eater circle. His father should have warned him. He had been a sheep led to slaughter and what real use had it been to refuse the Mark? Everyone in the entire school thought him to be Death Eater. Though Draco wondered intensely why word of his humiliation hadn't spread to the Death eaters in his house, Draco could only think it was yet another punishment, a final humiliation Voldermort was just waiting to inflict. He was trapped. The light would never trust him, he was Draco Malfoy after all, and truthfully, he didn't feel like a member of the light. The philosophy Dumbledore shoved down his student's throats didn't appeal or agree to his own thoughts and opinions – yet neither was he prepared to kneel down and enslave himself to a raving lunatic who frankly looked as if he'd had his face half melted off. Where did that leave him? Nowhere. It left him in No Man's Land. He didn't even have anyone to talk to. No one he could really trust. He wasn't even sure where Snape's loyalties truly lay. His Godfather was a master manipulator and he would not put both their lives at risk by assuming wrongly which side Snape had chosen – if indeed he had truly chosen one. Draco wouldn't put it past his Godfather to change cloaks if only to save his life – He was a Slytherin through and through – survival was paramount to all that they believed in.

Time was escaping him, and he distantly noted to himself that if he was going to arrive to Potions on time he was going to have to leave now. The very thought had his limps protesting stubbornly, making themselves feel as though they had been carved from lead. He couldn't imagine how he was going to roam Hogwarts Grounds and make it to the Lake in good time... Barely suppressing his groan, Draco hauled himself off his bed, wishing bitterly that he too would have a warm comfortable bed to retire to after his duty was over.

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It was worth dull disappointment and a large amount of expectation that Draco swallowed the news that Snape's plan had failed him. Of course it had. He was surprised though how much it bothered him to see the frustration and anger he had seen in his Godfather's eyes - Snape saw this as betrayal, Draco could tell.

'I won't give up on this Draco, I'll take down every book in the bloody library, research every counter-curse or potion if I have to – I won't give up on you Draco.'

Snape had promised him that, his black eyes burning, but Draco only felt helpless despair. If Voldemort had invented the curse, and Draco highly suspected he had, a cure was not only unlikely, it was impossible. Still, it was more loyalty than his parents had shown him. Their only act in the wake of his cursing, had been to allocate him a sufficiently covered spot on the lake for which he could be left to his fate. Draco loved Snape for it more than his Godfather could know. Light or not, Snape was the only person in this world who gave a damn about him.

"So, I was thinking, I could patrol the right side of the castle, around Gyffindor and Hufflepuffs and we could share Ravenclaw whilst you patrol the Dungeon area?"

Draco glanced briefly in Hermione's direction, long enough to note however, that there wasn't a trace of weariness, or fatigue in her honey brown eyes – the obnoxious bint seemed got high on air! How else could she be so irritatingly electrified all the time?

'Whatever, Granger...' He drawled, he didn't have to look at her to know she was wearing that scandalized expression her face seemed to wear almost constantly in his presence.

'Patrolling the grounds is a prized Head student duty! We have an responsibility to the School to ensure every student is-'

'For the love of sodding Merlin will you just shut it' Draco snarled, her empty, pointless lecturing had sapped the one bit of self-control he had left. 'You know nothing do you? Oh you know facts alright! Inhaled the entire bloody library you have! But when it comes to real knowledge, something beyond facts and figures or sodding responsibilities you know nothing! Nothing!'

Granger was looking at him startled, blown away by his sudden onslaught – she wasn't the only one. Everyone's eyes were fixed on him, It felt like they were driving daggers into his back and shooting Hermione one venomous look, he left.

Hope you like this chapters, as ever, eager to hear your views!