Don't lose concentration Draco repeated in his head as he walked down the hallway. He had been prepared for this or so he thought. He was supposed to look his father in the eye and lie to him. He couldn't do that his father knew him better than he knew himself. His father would see right through him and Draco already had an idea of what his punishment would be.
He put his hand on the doorknob hesitantly. This was it. He was going to plead to his father not to kill Harry Potter.
Six Months Earlier
Draco smiled at his mother as she waved him goodbye. She was laying down in her bed with a house elf at her bed side. She was ill and Draco was leaving her yet she mirrored Draco's smile. They were both happy of course. Draco's ambition to be an Unspeakable required to go back to Hogwarts and get his N.E.W.T.S. His mother had said that she wanted him to go and that she would be fine.
He didn't believe her. They were all alone in the Manor besides a few of their house elves. With Lucius Malfoy imprisoned at Azkaban prison their reputation was balanced. Most of the people in the wizard community had different opinions of the Malfoy family. Some said they were better off without 'that lunatic Lucius," others pitted them. Some thought the whole family should be behind bars.
"Are you sure you'll be fine?" Draco asked his mother one last time before he left.
"Of course darling," she assured him.
With that statement he left.
"This year will be brilliant," Pansy said once they were all settled in a compartment on the train.
Pansy said that every year. She was always wrong of course. Though she could be right this year. There wasn't any Dark Lords or other mayhem. It felt…peaceful. He wasn't about to get on his hands and feet and kiss Potter's feet for the tranquil setting for once but he did like it. It was a good change.
He nodded at Pansy. She smiled back. He was lucky to have her as a friend. Nothing more of course. She was annoying at times but good. The compartment was lonely without Crabbe and Goyle talking constantly. He looked over at Gregory who was looking down at his feet not saying a word. He felt sorry for him. He lost someone in the war who was closer to Goyle than Draco was to Goyle.
"There goes Potter…," Blaise muttered. Draco looked away from Goyle and looked up at the compartment door as Potter and his friends walked past.
"Who cares? Just because he had his hero status risen doesn't mean anything you know," Draco said.
"And that changes things? He's been known as a hero since before he could speak," Pansy said.
"A hero? I still see him as a pathetic prat," Draco mumbled but was loud enough for everyone in their compartment to hear.
"Don't tell me you're still obsessed with him Draco," Blaise said trying not to smile.
"Obsessed? With him? You must be mad," Draco answered. He was not obsessed with Potter. Just because he liked to see him get tense every time Draco saw him didn't mean he was obsessed with him. He didn't understand Blaise's logic and probably never would. His mind worked differently and it worried Draco what was going on in his head if he came up with things like him being obsessed with Potter.
Blaise couldn't answer that question because he would have been talked over by the woman with the trolley.
"Your turn Draco," Pansy sniggered.
Everyone had twin expressions that dared him to get up and be their candy slave. Every year on the ride to school someone would get everyone food while they were on the train. Blaise had done it first year-but that had just been Draco's way of tormenting the new friend. Second year had been Crabbe who willingly did it on the way back for who knows why. Goyle had done it third. Theodore was fourth and given that Pansy and Draco had gone to a prefect meeting they didn't know who had done it but sixth year was Pansy.
This whole thing had started out as a lie to Blaise to make him feel better that Draco planned on doing it to everyone. It being his idea he always made others go so he wouldn't be the one to get up. Now everyone was smirking at him and mocking him.
He needed new friends.
Draco got up and slammed the compartment door shut. The worst part was that he forgot to take their money to give to her. Damn them. It was probably some plot to embarrass him on the last year.
He gave the old lady money when it hit him that he would never see her again. She was at the bottom of the list of people he cared for but there wouldn't be any more yelling for sweets down the train. She, like others, was what kept Draco sane and kept him from rethinking the past and that everything was just fine.
It wasn't though.
Draco came back inside his compartment interrupting a game of exploding snaps. He gave everyone their things which they couldn't care less for because it would distract them from their immature game. Draco leaned against the cold window and closed his eyes hoping to Merlin that what Pansy said would come true at last.
This year would be brilliant.
Draco watched without any care as the ratty hat sorted first years into the houses. Only eight people had joined Slytherin this year. Gryffindor had fourteen, Ravenclaw had ten and Hufflepuff had gained, to Draco's displeasure, fifteen.
The first year's faces were animated and looked..young. Draco wondered if he had looked that little when he was a first year. Unlike Draco, the first years weren't timid or on edge at the moment. They all seemed..like children. Draco made a noise of disgust that earned a glare from Nott. He forgot that Nott's brother was just now sorted into Ravenclaw and Nott knew his parents would not be at all pleased.
He looked over at the Gryffindor table and saw Potter talking to a first year with ginger hair. Please don't be another Weasley, Draco thought. The first year turned and it wasn't another Weasley to his relief. He had green eyes and a freckled face and looked like a Weasley but his nice and rich robes said otherwise.
"Settle down, Settle down," McGonnagal bellowed across the Great Hall. She stood with poise at the front smiling down upon all the students. "I welcome all of you back to school. This year will have many fond adventures and things to do," a few students whispered as she drew her breath. "We say hello to all you new comers and hope you have a glorious time here. As for the eighth years..," she paused looking at the eldest students. He knew what she was going to say. 'As for the eighth years who should really be gone and get out welcome back to you.' She didn't though. "We welcome you back before we say farewell. And for those who are in between I hope you find yourselves like you did before.
"Now before we eat I would like to say a few announcements for what we expect this year. This year there will be Winter ball," girls talked excitedly as the boys groaned. "For our eighth years there will be a special occasion for you as well. Well I think that is all. Let the feast begin then!"
The empty plates that laid before them were suddenly filled with food and deserts all along the tables. Draco still stared at where McGonagall had stood. Where Dumbledore used to stand. He noticed that she had not at all mentioned the war, and good riddance she hadn't. He knew that there would have been crying and he would have to end up being Gregory's pillow even though he would cry tonight anyways.
"Go on Draco eat your food before it gets cold," Pansy insisted as she grabbed things.
"Pansy we are at a magical school. I'm sure that it has a warming charm or something like that," Draco rolled his eyes and began eating like everyone else.
After everyone had finished the prefects had ushered the first years to their dormitories as for the other students they had gone back to their dormitories with filled bellies.
"Mister Malfoy I would like to speak to you alone in my office if you please," He startled and turned on his heel facing McGonagall and the other head of the houses.
He nodded stiffly and waved to Pansy and Blaise. Draco had just arrived and hadn't locked people in bathrooms or abandoned classes yet. If this had anything to do with being prejudice he would..he wouldn't do anything.
He followed McGonagall, Flitwick, Slughorn, and the new head of Gryffindor Professor Ebro. They reached the spiraling staircase leading to the Headmistress's office.
"Ravish earmuffs," McGongall said as the staircase began to move and spiraling upwards.
He always wondered where the passwords come from and pictured a man locked in a room combining words with each other. He smiled to himself at the thought and quickly dismissed it starting to follow the teachers up.
Draco had never been in the Headmistress's or Headmaster's office before now. The ceiling was high and there were many picture frames with the old Headmaster's moving spiritedly in them. They greeted McGonagall cheerfully when she walked by them.
He looked at one and went pale. A snoozing Snape was in the frame that he was looking at. Severus had died in the battle like others... Draco wished the old man had died later than during the war.
"Mister Malfoy," Slughorn piped up. "If you please we need to discuss something."
He almost forgot that he had been brought by all the Heads of the houses along with the Headmistress into the office surrounded by past Headmasters. Almost.
"Yes sit down there," McGongall pointed to a chair. Draco sat and felt rather small as the other teachers stood looking down at him.
"As you know Burgam was a Ravenclaw and appointed Head Boy," Flitwick said. Draco said nothing because he didn't know anything about Burgam being Head Boy and couldn't care less if he was or wasn't. "Unfortunately his parents thought it better if he wasn't at Hogwarts and instead enrolled at Drumstrangs."
"You as well as Granger have the highest marks in your year and most of your house-" Slughorn stated.
"No," Draco managed to say. "I don't want to."
"You don't want to.." McGonagall repeated slowly. "Malfoy this is a privilege and most students would be honored to be considered this position."
"Yes ma'am but I, unlike most students, don't wish to be Head Boy," Draco said.
He had always thought that Head Boys were just over achievers and bragged about it to other people. He might be that but he didn't want to be appointed Head Boy. She mentioned Granger. Did that mean that she was Head Girl this year? Oh god, another reason he didn't want to be Head Boy..
Going to meetings with Granger, sharing the spot light with Granger. No he would not do that. His father had punished enough throughout the years for not besting Granger with grades.
"Mister Malfoy please pay attention," Slughorn said losing his smile he always wore.
He looked back at them. They were all looking down at him making him uncomfortable. "This is not your decision and not up for debate. Horace if you please take Mister Malfoy here to his new quarters."
Slughorn obeyed and made his way towards the door with a dreadful looking Draco Malfoy following close behind him.
"This is such an honor," Slughorn said as they walked to the corridor. "We rarely ever have Slytherins as Heads! Your parents will be just so thrilled won't they? Of course they will!" Slughorn talked with enthusiasm about how being Head will look good when he applies to the Ministry for jobs.
"Here we are," Slughorn said. They arrived at a blank wall with one single portrait hung on the bricks. "Coward lion," He said. With that Draco saw a doorknob appear right under the portrait. Some of the bricks had turned themselves into a frame for a door.
"You'll find your trunk-trunks I mean already on your bed. Everything in there is for you to use. You will be given a house elf and they will come in once a week to clean. Take care Mister Malfoy. See you tomorrow for class!" He smiled at Draco then turned walking away.
He felt like he just got things piled upon him without a question whether he wanted this or not. He didn't. He didn't want this at all. He puts his hand on the doorknob and pushed the door open. He expected to see a comforting room but there were stairs ascending up to a landing.
He wasn't looking forward to going downstairs or upstairs to get things or go to classes. He wasn't looking forward to any of this actually.
He went up the stairs and was now standing in a tiny living space. There was a small kitchen off to his left and a couch that sat in front of a table and the fireplace. The bed was straight in front of him and the bathroom to his right. He walked over to his bed and saw his trunk was on his bed. He also saw that there were bookshelves but most of them were all empty. There was a few books but they were all required books that had been left by other Heads.
A loud pop sounded behind him. Draco jumped and turned around and was facing what he thought must be his new house elf. It had enlarged ears and a pointed short nose like his own. He looked very young for a house elf.
The house elf bowed. "Hello sir."
"Err-hello there," Draco said very unsure of what to do. The house elf beamed back at him. It stared at him reminding him of everyone staring at him back at McGonagall's office. "What is your name?" He said striking up a conversation.
"I do not have a name sir," The house elf said back still glowing.
Of course they don't. Draco just needed the house elf to stop staring at him. That didn't work though.
"How about...esclaves then?" Draco sat down on the bed beginning to unpack.
"I like it Master!" Esclaves said. "Let me do that for you."
Esclaves was a very energetic house elf. He was obviously new to this. He began to unpack Draco's trunk putting his shirts and trousers into drawers hanging up his robes in a wardrobe. He snapped his fingers and books started to float out of his trunk and assorting themselves on the bookcase.
"Mister Slughorn told me you were the new Head Boy and that I am to come in once a week," Esclaves said finishing emptying the contents of his trunk. "Esclaves will come to Draco Malfoy when Draco Malfoy calls his name. "
"I..I don't think that will be necessary," said Draco.
"But it is! Esclaves must go now, he has news to tell the other house elves!" With that he cracked his fingers and vanished.
This was going to be a long year, Draco thought, as he lay down in his new bed.
It was going to be a different year. Dumbledore was gone, there would be more hate against his house. It was all Potter's fault. It wasn't fair. Most of his relatives were dad or imprisoned like his father was. Draco gathered his books into his bags slinging it over his shoulder and made his way to the Great Hall.
On his way he noticed that a few walls were looking chaffed and thought that Filtch might not have redone the corridor that he was in. He sat down in between Pansy and Goyle. They all stopped talking and looked at him.
"Where the bloody hell were you last night?" Blaise asked first.
"Did you already shag someone this early in the year?"
"I saw him walk off with the professors and heads of houses Nott, keep your horny hormones out of this," Blaise drawled.
"I didn't shag anyone..." Draco said stuffing his mouth with eggs.
"Then…what happened?" Pansy asked.
"Head Boy," He muttered only audibly enough for them to hear.
They all exchanged glances with each other then started to break out into a chorus of laughter.
"You what?" Pansy shrieked.
"Let's see the badge then!" Blaise smirked. Draco had found his badge on his bedside table this morning. He groaned and pinned it on disgusted.
"Will you cut it out?" Draco ordered. "It's not like I'm proud of this."
Their laughter started to die out. He picked his fork back up just as dozens of owls swooped into the Great Hall. The deluge of owls never fascinated Draco. Pansy though always liked it because she got to guess which owl belonged to which student. For instance, the barn owls that looked hideous had belonged to the Weasleys.
The Malfoy family owl landed a letter on his plate and flew off. He stared at it and saw it was from his mother. He never got just a letter. It was always attached to sweets or something like that.
"Draco open the letter before I do," Blaise said noticing his shocked expression. He sent him a glaring look and peeled it open at the same time Blaise began to unroll the Prophet his mother sent him.
"Look at this..," said Blaise looking at the fron page. Draco looked over and his heart felt like it had stopped for a moment. On the front page was a picture of his mother looking healthy and elegant as she always did. The picture was nothing like the headline: 'Malfoy Mother at Mungo's.' Blaise cleared his voice and read the article out loud.
"Narcissa Malfoy wife of ex Death Eater Lucius Malfoy was brought to St. Mungo's last night with a complain of her insides burning.
"We haven't found what it is yet," said Healer Windhill who is at the ward of Malfoy. "She seems to be getting wrose but the person who brought her in would like to stay anonoymous."
Sources say that her son Draco Malfoy, student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry took care of her over the summer. We will be informed if anything happens."
Blaise's narrative tone stopped as did most of the chatter along the Slytherin tables. He looked around and saw some of the students had the prophet as well. It seemed everyone in the Great Hall had read it and had gone silent.
He had just seen his mother not too long ago. She said that she was fine.
"I need to go..," Draco muttered and stoop up. He grabbed his bag and left the Great Hall.
He fled to the library knowing that no one would be there this early in the morning. He wasn't all that surprised when he saw Granger at a table with numeruous books.
Was he allowed to leave Hogwarts? He wanted to leave-he needed to leave. He needed to see his mother this instant and demand to know what was going on. She wasn't okay and had lied to him to his face.
He forgot about the letter he mother had sent him. Draco looked down seeing that the letter was clenched in his fist.
Draco opened the letter and it read:
This may come as a shock to you but I order you to stay calm. Last night Prel went mad and forgot to give me my medicine. I felt growing pains and needed to go somewhere with better care. I am now at St. Mungo's and a reporter came by my ward tonight so I'm guessing it will be in the Prophet tomorrow. Remain at Hogwarts.
He reread the letter until he memorized every word, trying to read in between the lines but to no avail was there anything hidden. Why would she say stay at Hogwarts? It wasn't like he would. She knew him too well.
"Ron that's impossible! You can't do that! How many times have I told you?" He heard Granger say in the next aisle.
"Knickers in a knot? I never said it was possible it was just a thought.."
Draco smirked and passed by their aisle with his letter tucked away in his robes pocket.
"You would have to have a brain to have thoughts Weasel," Draco said.
He heard Weasley get up at once and Granger speak in a hushed tone. Probably to tell him not to cause a scene in the library.
"Malfoy!" He turned back around and saw Granger walking hurridly towards him with her brown bushy hair bouncing as she walked.
"What do you want mudblood?" He muttered.
She turned red but quickly gained back her composure. "You are the Head Boy.. Professor Embro told me last night. I suppose I should congratulate you."
"And why would you do that? It's not like I'm going to return the favor.."
"So you know that I'm Head Girl," said Granger."That will make it easier for me then. We need to talk about Head business sometimes."
"Oh I'm ecstatic.." He mumbled sarcastically.
Granger rolled her eyes and folded her scranny arms over her chest. "I knew you would be like this!"
There was a sudden thud of a big book falling followed by a loud "Damn it Ron!"
Draco took that time as Granger was distracted to take his leave. He was now amused at the thought of Potter getting scold or thrown out of the library along with his freakish friends.
"I'll see this once and only once Mr. Longbottom. Do. Not. Move. Your. Wand. Like. That." Professor Olio said to Longbottom in transfiguration.
Harry felt sorry for Neville. He had always been tormented and treated like he had the brain of some demented animal. Only Professor Sprout treated him equally.
Professor Olio was the new transfiguration teacher while McGonagall was appointed Headmistress this year. Olio was not used to children and had only taken the position as a teacher so that she could get some money for she had just divorced her husband because he received an Order of Merlin. Harry was positive that that was just a rumor though.
"And Mister Potter where is your essay?" Olio was now standing in front of Harry's desk glaring down at him.
"I...I have it here..." He flushed and dug through his bag finally taking out a parchment that had words but could not be read because Ron had spilled ink over it earlier that morning.
Olio took it and made a appalled face at his essay like she was holding up trash. "This Mister Potter, is not acceptable," She gave it back to him. Before she went to collect other people's essay she waved her wand and a big D was marked red on his paper.
He glared at Ron who turned red. Ron had apologized all the way to class and Harry had said it was fine because he had some hope that she would take it at least. Even Snape would have taken it and not given it back to him.
After she was done collecting all the essays she leaned back against the desk and her lip curled.
"I have to inform all eighth years that they will take part in an occasion this year…" She scowled. Many hands began to rise and she ignored them all. "All questions will be answered tonight in the potion's room. Everyone will be in attendance." The bell rang and everyone leaped out of their seats heading for the door.
"She didn't really say anything. I was wondering about this occasion when McGonagall said it last night at dinner," Hermione said.
"We'll find out sooner then. Harry I am sorry for-"
"It's fine Ron. I've gotten enough D's that it doesn't really bug me anymore," Harry said.
"That is no way to treat your grades Harry! We came back so that we could get our N.E.W.T.S! They won't take Aurors who make D's in classes! "
"Hermione can't you relax? This isn't fifth year alright? Please don't make it seem like this is some crisis. I know N.E.W.T.S are important and I know that Ollo is unfair about essays…but that's the first D that I've gotten this year!" Harry claimed.
"It's the only grade you've gotten! And that is no way to start the term. Ron what did you get?" said Hermione changing the subject.
He looked down and shoved his hands into his pockets. "A D…"
"Oh honestly! I promised myself I wouldn't look over your homework anymore but it seems like I have to don't I? I don't need to do that a top all of my Head duties which I'm sure I'll end up doing sense Malfoy is Head Boy-"
"That git is Head Boy?
"Will you to get a grip? Yes he's Head Boy.. He didn't seem so happy about it when I talked to him this morning. It's great that he got to be Head Boy though after all of what's happened to him."
"Since when have we given a shit about Malfoy?" Ron asked.
"Language Ron! He just-did you read the Prophet this morning? His mother is ill and he had to take care of her the whole summer. I suspect he did that instead of spending it with his friends. His father is in Azkaban and I bet he thinks they just gave it to him out of..pity." She finished.
"And why should we care?" Harry protested. "I am not going to feel any empathy towards him! He's a rotten spoiled brat who thinks people kiss the ground he walks on!"
"Voldemort is gone Harry.. they aren't a threat to us," She grinned and left them standing in the corridor.
"I swear that she's mental. I always have." Ron said as they made their way to Herbology.
"Says that one who is dating her," Harry smirked.
"Oh shut it! She's mental with me too you know. Do you want to know what she does?" asked Ron.
"I'm sorry mate I don't really want to know what happens when you two are alone.." Harry said.
"It's not-she thinks I don't kiss right!" Ron cried ignoring what Harry had said. Ron explained to Harry about Hermione and their kissing issue all the way to the greenhouse.
What he gathered from what Ron said was that Hermione was very subtle about how Ron kissed and how he didn't. Harry wasn't listening at all and just nodded his head and said "yeah," "alright," when he felt like there was a pause or a question direction at him.
Sprout had said what Olio had said but had given more details. It seemed that it was going to be an exercise of three weeks, but nothing more than that. He wondered what it might be and knew it couldn't be anything good.
Harry and Ron met back up with Hermione that night at dinner. All the eighth years were barely sitting because they were too excited about what event was going to take place. In the middle of the dinner McGonagall stood up and asked for all the eighth years to make their way down to the potions room. With Slughorn in the lead and many eighth years behind him, Harry started to ponder how they were going to fit all of the eighth years into one room.
Hermione was eager and tugging Ron along by his sleeve who looked eager but kept looking down at her hand on his robe sleeve.
"Gather around, gather around!" Slughorn said as the eighth years filed in. They were missing a few people from the war and those who fled off to another school. He had heard some Ravenclaw had left and he knew Crabbe and Lavender were…dead.
He glanced over at Goyle who was talking casually with Theodore Nott. He didn't show any emotion about his friend dying and thought he looked okay. Harry then glanced at Parvarti who frowned in a conversation with her sister Padma.
He looked back up at Slughorn and it seemed all the teachers were present. Ebro, Olio, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout, Slughorn, Vector and many others that Harry didn't know. Once everyone was settled either sitting on the floor, the tablesm the chairs or even leaning against the wall, Ebro began to talk.
"Thank you for coming!" She started.
"We didn't have much of a choice…" He heard Ron mumble.
"We have something special planned out for you all this year. We noticed that there has been some prejudice against houses…" Her eyes darted over to the side of the room where the Slytherins were lounging. "So this exercise will help with that!"
Ebro stepped aside as Slughorn took the stand. "Yes we thought after all that has happened we could all get along. There will be three weeks dedicated to this event and everyone will participate, no excuses what so ever. You will be with a partner from a different house," He said and tried talking over the many groans from the students. "There are five different excercises and you and your partner will be able to do all of them!"
Harry looked around the room and noticed some people were looking somewhat interested and some looking very terrified.
He wished they hadn't said from a different house otherwise Harry might have had a positive feeling toward this..whatever this was.
Professor Olio stood next to Slughorn clearing her throat before she spoke, "I am going to tell you what it is now so can I have everyone's attention?" There was silent and all the whispering had ceased and the only sound was people breathing. "Can someone tell me the five senses?" She asked.
Students sunk in what she had said suspiciously before raising their hands into the air.
"Yes Mr. Thomas?" Olio said to Dean. Everyone's attention was now on Dean.
"Er-well there is touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight," Dean replied nervously.
"That is correct. Five points to Gryffindor then. Now Thomas has said the senses and they are all going to take part in this activity. There are spell designed to take away these senses and that's what we plan to do. Oh don't look like that! There is much more to it."
Flitwick walked over and took over the attention. "Settle down, taking away these senses for more than thirty hours is very dangerous and we aren't planning to do that. One day you will be without one sense and your partner will help you. Guide you," finished Flitwick.
Harry saw Hermione's hand rise out of the corner of his eye.
"You have a question Miss Granger?" Flitwick asked.
"So it's a trusting excerise?" Hermione said.
Flitwick nodded and smiled, "Precisely."
There were a few people talking once they had all heard him. Harry had no interest in putting his truth into a Slytherin.
"We have the sorting hat here with all your names scrolled down on a piece of parchment," McGonagall said reaching for the old hat. Unlike the sorting, the hat was turned upside down as McGonagall reached into the hat taking out two slips of parchement. She held them up to her wired glasses and spoke.
"Seamus Finnigan and Terry Boot!" She called. Harry turned around and saw Seamus stand off his stool and walk to the front of the class. As for as Harry knew Seamus and Terry were already close and they didn't look nervous at all.
He watched carefully as Padma get Justin and Dean get paired up with Goyle. Neville looked pale white as he got paired with Parkinson. Hannah Abbot got Theodore Nott and he wasn't surprised when most of the Gryffindors were paired up with Slytherins
"Blaise Zabini and Ron Weasley!" McGonagall cried out again.
"Just my luck..," said Ron getting up out of his seat and going to sit next to Blaise. Harry looked over at the two as Blaise caught Malfoy's eyes he smirked.
"Hermione Granger and Millicent Bulstrode.," Hermione looked down frowning before she got up joining Bulstode's table awkwardly. If Bulstrode had heard who her partner was she was not caring as she chatted with Daphne Greengrass that was partnered with Eloise Midgen.
"Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy!" McGonagall said. Harry didn't dare to move or look over at Malfoy. He watched as everyone had turned their heads towards him.
He reminded himself of what Ron had said earlier.
Just my luck.