Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all identifiable characters and storylines are created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including- but not limited to- Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury and Warner Bros. No money is being made from this story and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This story contains slash (Harry/Draco) and is an AU Horcrux hunt story. It takes place the night after Harry is moved from Privet Drive and Mad-Eye is killed in Deathly Hallows.
Warnings: Sex, descriptions of violence/torture, major character death.
Chapter One: Desperately Dreaming of Draco
Voldemort was beyond livid. His eyes shone with a furious scarlet matched only in colour by the blood shed from the captured dying Muggles in the drawing room he was standing in. No Death Eater dared move or speak, their eyes fixed on the macabre situation as strongly as if they'd had a Permanent Sticking Charm applied to them. Voldemort raised his wand, pointed it directly at the heart of one of the cowering sobbing men, and shrieked, "Avada Kedavra!" Green light ejaculated from the end of his yew wand and struck the condemned victim squarely in the chest. He crumpled into an awkward heap on the floor, stone dead.
The remaining Muggles began to scream in terror. Voldemort unleashed the Killing Curse repeatedly and mercilessly until the screams became weaker and weaker and eventually silence fell and the room stank of death. A high-pitched icy laugh filled the room as Voldemort instructed Nagini to consume to bodies. Then he turned to face his Death Eaters.
"Harry Potter has once again evaded me," Voldemort spoke to the room at large. "My patience is wearing thin, as is my temper. I am most displeased by this situation. How is it that a boy- one with mediocre magical talent- is able to escape from Lord Voldemort time and time again? I had been informed that using another wizard's wand would allow me to destroy the boy. I admit that I feel somebody lied to me this evening. Lord Voldemort does not forgive untruths.
"Some of my Death Eaters were lost tonight," Voldemort continued. "We will not mourn them. This does, however, impose a problem I confess I had not foreseen. Our numbers have been reduced and thus we are weakened, whilst Harry Potter and his allies survive.
"And yet I find weakness and even unwillingness amongst those who do claim to serve me faithfully." Voldemort fixed his gaze upon Draco Malfoy, who promptly turned as white as milk and swallowed hard has his grey eyes met the crimson of Voldemort's. "Young Draco, I wish you to prove your strength to me. Up to now you have proven yourself weak and a failure. You have been a disappointment to me so far. Step forward at once."
Draco tried to control his trembling as he forced his legs not to collapse from fear as he walked forwards and stood in the spot Voldemort indicated.
"Draco Malfoy," Voldemort all but whispered. "You were given a task a year ago. You failed in carrying out that task. You did not kill Albus Dumbledore. Lord Voldemort was merciful to you at that time. You did, in part at least, succeed in bringing about his demise. I spared your life and that of your worthless parents. But now is the time, youngest Malfoy, to prove yourself to me." Voldemort flicked his wand and Draco flinched, obviously expecting some curse to hit. Instead the semi-conscious form of Mr Ollivander levitated into the room.
"Now, my dear Draco, I believe that our friend here has been lying to me. I was given information by him that should have brought about the downfall of Potter once and for all this evening. This did not happen. I am giving you the task of demonstrating what Lord Voldemort does to those who are treacherous and proving you are worthy of the Dark Mark. This time you will kill."
Draco's eyes widened and he clearly had to fight the urge to vomit. Sweat began to pour from his forehead and tears prickled in the corners of his eyes. Voldemort laughed his high-pitched terrifying laugh once more.
"Now," he whispered. "You will torture, and then you will slay. Or face torture and death yourself. And know now I will not dispatch you with a swift and clean execution like those filthy Muggles received. It will be long, and drawn out, it will be rather… messy and agonising. I have been severely displeased tonight. I will enjoy your death."
Draco took aim of his wand with severely quaking hands at the levitating figure of Garrick Ollivander and, in a barely audible voice, muttered, "Crucio." A small feeble jet of red light left Draco's hawthorn wand, and hovered pitiably in the air before dropping pathetically to the floor. Voldemort followed its progress with his eyes, a look of blinding fury in them. Some of the other Death Eaters began to snigger. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy both looked on the verge of collapse over fear for their son.
"Again," Voldemort commanded. Once more Draco raised his wand.
"C…Crucio," he stammered. This time not even a small jet of light left his wand. Draco choked back a sob. Voldemort gave him a murderous glare.
"Well well well," he said, in a deathly cold tone. "It seems that Draco Malfoy is unlearned in the Unforgivables. Perhaps we should teach them to him. Lesson one, Mr Malfoy. When casting an Unforgivable you really need to desire your victim to suffer. Allow me to demonstrate."
And he pointed his wand directly at Draco and calmly cast the Cruciatus Curse on him.
Draco screamed and dropped to the floor. Narcissa broke down in heaving sobs as she witnessed her son enduring such excruciating pain. Lucius Malfoy was white but otherwise emotionless- the quiver of a hand the only betrayal of his inner feelings. Voldemort wore an expression of cold fury as he held Draco under the curse. Draco was screaming, and weeping; his limbs were flailing wildly and his face was wet from tears. Then, just as suddenly as the curse had struck, Voldemort released it. Draco collapsed bonelessly onto the floor.
"Now. Let us see what you have learnt," Voldemort whispered in Draco's ear, his rancid breath on the back of Draco's neck causing the blond to shudder. "This time you will succeed, or you will have condemned yourself to a painful, slow death. I am not feeling generous tonight."
Draco stood up. Despite his pallid colour, the characteristic uncontrollable shaking of his limbs of one exposed to the Cruciatus evident and his tear-stained face, he was defiant. He glanced once more at the levitating figure of Ollivander, then shook his head violently at Voldemort.
"I will not," Draco said, fully aware he was signing his own death warrant.
"You will not," repeated Voldemort. He closed his eyes in thought for a moment, before opening them and fixing his gaze on Draco's father. A sneer appeared on his serpentine features.
"I could force you of course, with the Imperius, but why, when this will be much more satisfactory. Lucius. Come here. It's time to teach your son some respect I believe," he said, the words laced with hatred. Lucius' gaze left the pitiful image of his broken son and found Voldemort.
"R…Respect, my Lord?" Lucius stuttered.
"A father's role is to teach his son manners and respect, is it not? It appears he is woefully lacking in both- a failure, no doubt, on your part as his parent. You, Lucius, are being given the highest honour of teaching your son the consequences of refusing to carry out my orders. I wish you to Crucio your son."
Lucius turned the colour of sour milk as he bit back bile. "And if I refuse, my Lord?" he whispered
"Then you will die. And so will your wife. I will kill you both slowly and agonisingly, and Draco will be forced to watch every slice my wand makes into your flesh, forced to hear every scream of pain that leaves your dying lips. The view of your corpses will of course be the last thing he ever sees before he suffers the same fate. So, Lucius, what is it to be? Immediate death for you all, or one small lesson in how to speak to your betters? Who knows, perform it well and I may even spare the wretched boy's life. You have one attempt to succeed at cursing successfully." With that Voldemort reached out to a Death Eater and snatched the wand from his grip, holding it out to Lucius.
A small flicker of hope gleamed for a split second in Lucius Malfoy's eyes, before once more being replaced with fear. Refuse to do this and condemn Draco to certain death, or hurt his own son for but only a slither of hope for his survival.
A slither was better than nothing. Lucius had made his decision. He reached out and took the wand from Voldemort's hand.
With hands much steadier than he felt he pointed the borrowed wand at his son. He shut his eyes; uncharacteristically there were tears escaping from them. Narcissa was sobbing hysterically across the room. Draco was whimpering softly, eyes fixed on his father's deathly pale face. Lucius opened his eyes and met those of his son's. Draco's eyes were so like his own. They were looking at him with fear but acceptance. Lucius' own were full of regret and self-hatred. He closed them again, unwilling to see what he was about to do. With a final deep breath, Lucius cried out "Crucio!"
Once more Draco fell to his knees, convulsing under the force of his father's curse. With a decisive crack his left forearm snapped; Draco howled in agony. Lucius was crying freely now, loathing himself, but believing that this was the only possible chance he had to save the life of his son. Narcissa passed out, whilst Voldemort and Bellatrix both cackled in merriment at the Malfoys' suffering.
It was at this point that Snape, who had been paying very close attention to the mind of Voldemort in an attempt to read his intentions, felt the presence of another. For the first time in his life he applauded Potter's poor Occlumency skills and his inability to block the Dark Lord. This time it may just save Draco's life. His lips curled in triumph; all hope was not, yet, lost for the young Mr Malfoy.
"That will do," said Voldemort quietly, and Lucius immediately removed the curse. Draco was no longer conscious. There was a small trickle of blood running from his right nostril and was dripping sickeningly into his open mouth. His left arm bent at an abnormal angle was was swollen and black. His whole body was trembling and his legs were jerking as if they had suffered an electric shock. He was still moaning and breathing in ragged breaths despite his lack of consciousness.
"Impressive," said Voldemort evenly as he began to examine Draco's broken body. "However I still intend to kill your son." Voldemort kneeled down at the side of Draco, and picked up the broken arm, studying it curiously. He missed Snape seizing this opportunity to whisper in Lucius' ear, and the brief flicker of relief that crossed the elder Malfoy's features. He also missed the incantation Lucius murmured discreetly under his breath, and the resulting shake in the manor's wards.
Harry Potter shouted out a final time before finally coming awake. He was unsurprised to see Ron hovering over his bed, face white and frightened, furiously shaking him awake.
"Harry! Harry, mate! Are you okay?" Ron almost shouted. Harry reached over to the side of his bed and grabbed his glasses, rapidly shoving them onto his face. He was pale, and he noticed his pyjamas and bedding were both drenched in sweat and he was gasping for breath. Harry took one look at Ron's face before nausea overcame him; he pushed past Ron, ignoring his calls to come back, and dashed to the bathroom and was violently sick into the toilet bowl.
He returned to the bedroom several minutes later and frantically started to dress.
"Harry! What are you doing?" Ron demanded. Harry looked at Ron.
"We have to get to Malfoy Manor," he replied, the panic evident in his voice. Harry was terrified for Malfoy; minutes had already passed and Harry did not know how long Voldemort would play with him before deciding to go for the kill. He could already be… no, don't think like that Harry scolded himself.
"And why in the name of Merlin's saggy left ball do we need to get to Malfoy's house?" Ron asked incredulously.
"Because… because I've just seen Voldemort and his father almost fucking kill him and he's in a bad way. We need to try and help him," Harry replied. "So get dressed!" He tossed Ron's clothes to him, but Ron just threw them back on the bed and sat down.
"Again, Harry, explain why we, as in you and me, and Hermione I expect, need to go to Malfoy Manor to rescue that git? If he's pissed You-Know-Who off then that's his problem. He's the one who chose to follow the madman. His own fault, Harry. I'm not exactly going to risk my life for him, mate. You think he would for you?"
"It's not about whether he would for us or not!" Harry was shouting but he didn't care. "It's about me seeing another human being undergoing things that no one deserves and me having a chance to help that person!" He was beginning to become frantic. He didn't have time to try and convince Ron to come, but going alone would mean almost certain death. He did the zip up on his jeans. "I'm going to wake Hermione, let's hear what she has to say."
Minutes later he returned with a very groggy Hermione.
"What's this about, Harry?" she yawned sleepily.
"I've just had a dream- no, a vision- of Draco. He's… not good, Hermione. Voldemort tortured him then forced his father to hurt him too. He's going to kill him if we don't do something. Come on, please, we need to get to Malfoy Manor." Hermione fully woke up immediately and shot him a disbelieving look.
"Harry, have you seriously not learnt anything about the visions of Voldemort you have in the past two years, and particularly since last year?" Harry winced but shot her a defiant look. Hermione sighed and picked up Ron's wand from the nightstand, and cast it at the bedroom door.
"Silencio," she said, before turning her attention back to Harry.
"Right. No one can hear us now at least. Harry, I'm sorry, but have you lost your mind? Not six hours ago we took you away from Privet Drive in order to stop Voldemort from seizing you and now you're asking us both to voluntarily show up where he is, to rescue someone who, let's face it, is a nasty piece of work anyway? Did it occur to you that Voldemort- oh honestly, Ron it's just a name for Merlin's sake!- could be so angry that you escaped him yet again that he sent you this vision in an attempt to lure you to him and in actual fact Draco is fine and fast asleep right now? Honestly, Harry, you lost Sirius like this, are you really prepared to risk it again all for Draco Malfoy?" Harry glared at her for the reminder about his blunder that cost his godfather his life then turned at look at Ron, who hunched his shoulders.
"Hermione's right, mate," said Ron. "What if this is all just a trap that You-Know-Who has set up for you? He's going to be pretty pissed off with you at the moment I should imagine. Whether this is a trap or not, I mean, do you really want to risk this? It's bloody Malfoy! You remember Malfoy don't you?"
Harry was white with fury and shaking. He looked his best friends in the eye.
"Yes, Ron. I do remember Malfoy. He's arrogant, he's rude, he's conceited and he's sarcastic. Which of those qualities exactly mean that he deserves to be tortured to death by Voldemort's- oh for fuck's SAKE, Ron, get over it- wand? He may be a bastard but he doesn't deserve this. I'm going. Either you two are helping me or you're not. I don't have time to stand here arguing with the pair of you about it. He could already be dying, or…" Harry didn't finish the thought.
"I agree he doesn't deserve to die," said Hermione quietly, and Harry thought he could see tears brimming in her chocolate-brown eyes. "And if Voldemort is torturing him then it's awful, and I wish we could do something, but Harry! Please, just think about this for a moment! Is rescuing Draco Malfoy more important than starting Dumbledore's mission? What if you go tonight, and something happens to you? If you die then that's it, Voldemort will win, he'll take over, and-"
"ENOUGH!" bellowed Harry, whose last thread of patience had finally snapped. Hermione closed her mouth abruptly and looked close to tears. Ron scowled at him and put his arm around Hermione's shoulders. "I understand what you're saying, Hermione, I really do, but I'm sorry. I'm more than just Dumbledore's little fighter. I am going to the Manor tonight because there is someone there that needs me, and no one else will go- the Order will take the same view as you two. He has no one to fight for him. He deserves a chance."
"He's a Death Eater git who doesn't deserve to be rescued is what he is," said Ron hotly. "And you're going to risk your life for him. What is it with you and Malfoy, Harry? Couldn't leave him alone all last year and now you want to go off into the night like a knight in shining armour and rescue him! Well no, Harry. I'm not coming, fuck him." And he slumped defiantly down onto his bed. Harry restrained the urge to hit him. Instead he turned to Hermione.
"You agree with Ron, don't you?" Harry said with a forced calm he certainly wasn't feeling. Hermione nodded, tears coming down her cheeks now.
"Not about the bit where he doesn't deserve rescuing! But, oh, Harry, why do you have to go? What about all the underage magic you'll be doing? Do you want to risk having your wand snapped? Please, stay here and stay safe!" She made to grab his arm. Harry jerked it away from her touch.
"Fine. So much for following me wherever I go and being there for me," he snarled. Part of his brain told him he was being unfair, that Hermione and Ron didn't deserve to be spoken to like that by him but he didn't listen to it. He had already wasted too much time. "I shall see you both later. Thank you so much for your support, and fuck you both," he said, and he turned to leave the room. He jumped back in shock as Remus opened the door, a look of worry on his features. Harry stepped backwards into the room as Remus entered.
"Werewolves have better hearing than pure humans," he volunteered, in response to Hermione's wondrous stare at the door. "We can hear through warded doors. Yes, I heard everything." Harry's heart sank. Standing up to Ron and Hermione was one thing, but Remus was another.
"Remus, please, Malfoy… Voldemort is seriously hurting him," Harry stammered. Lupin held up a hand to silence him.
"As I just said, Harry, I heard everything. I know where you're going and why. I came to see you before you left as I thought you could do with a hand at Malfoy Manor. I would hate to see you go alone."
Relief washed over Harry like a wave of cool water. He could have kissed Remus. Instead he just nodded. Hermione and Ron looked scandalised.
"Why?" whispered Hermione sadly.
"Because you will not talk Harry out of this, nor should you try and do so. He is his own person and he has a right to do what he thinks is correct. I will not stand in his way," Remus replied.
"No!" yelled Ron. "Mad-Eye died to get you here safely! My brother lost an ear! And you're voluntarily just going to leave? You wanted to leave all evening didn't you, ever since you got here? This is just an excuse. You ungrateful git. I bet you've not even had a vision have you? You always have to play the fucking hero don't you, Harry. Well I just really hope you don't die, that's all I can say." And he stomped out of the room. Harry refused to let the guilt crash over him. There wasn't time.
"Harry," Hermione was speaking now between sobs, "please, just be careful. I know you're worried, but so is Ron. He didn't mean all that. And I know you didn't mean what you said to us either. Just… please, come back safe," and she hugged him tight. She too ran from the room, a small cry escaping her throat as she did. Harry stared after is two best friends.
"Ready, Harry?" Remus asked gently. Harry nodded. They crept out of the room, down the stairs and out into the clear July night. Nodding at each other once, they turned on the spot and Apparated to Malfoy Manor.