1 – The Hunt

Draco Malfoy flew low enough to be hidden by the labyrinth hedges of the Malfoy Manor gardens. He peered out from behind the hedge and watched the reflection of the hooded figure he was following in the still garden pond. He hovered for a moment to make sure that his presence was undetected. He'd already disillusioned himself so he couldn't be seen. He did have to be careful to avoid brushing up against any of the shrubbery. Any sound or movement could attract attention. So far he had remained unseen. It helped that he knew the gardens of Malfoy Manor better than anyone, anyone except his own parents.

He was doing all of this for them, well, for his mother any way. His father had now slipped into an alcohol-coated insanity and good riddance to him. But after tonight his mother would be safe.

Once he had realized that they could never escape the Dark Lord, Draco had decided that if he had to be a Death Eater, he would be the best of the Death Eaters. As the Dark Lord's grip had tightened, as his demands had increased, his mother had been the only one part of his life where there was light, grace, a reason for hope no matter what. So he had committed himself, hardened himself, and he would do whatever it took to keep his family safe.

And now, the snitch was within his grasp, at least figuratively speaking. Draco was close enough to go the rest of the way on foot. He found a patch of soft fern-covered ground and dismounted. He kept his eyes on his quarry while performing a quick spell to shrink his broom to the size of a quill. He slipped it into one of the inner pockets of his robe as he crept closer to his prey.

It was just a little more than two weeks since he'd seen his chance to secure his mother's safety permanently. The Dark Lord had been outraged when he told him of his suspicion that they had a spy in their midst. He had promised Draco that catching the spy would have a significant reward. Draco would become the third member of the inner circle and his mother would be guaranteed safe from harm. The Dark Lord being who he was, he had added that if Draco failed this task his mother would be killed. In fact, Draco would probably be forced to kill her himself. That thought kept waking him in a cold sweat – terrified that he wouldn't be able to make good on his bragging.

He pushed such thoughts away. For the first time in months she would be safe. They'd been so close to getting away, before, the night of the last battle at Hogwarts. But they hadn't known what the Dark Lord could do. When Potter had miraculously resurrected, hope had surged in Draco's heart. He'd thought for a moment that Potter could do it, could kill the Dark Lord, end the madness. But the Dark Lord was nothing if not careful. His plan had been thrown off. Potter was back. When the Dark Lord realized that his spells weren't working properly he'd decided to flee.

That was when they learned that he'd strengthened the Dark Mark's magic. They learned that he could use their Marks to pull them, to take them with him wherever he went. They belonged to him. Any chance for freedom was gone.

If he couldn't be free, he would have to be powerful. His father's fragile grip on reality had vanished after that night. So Draco had to be the one to take care of his mother. The Dark Lord had loved the fear he could cause with every glance in her direction.

That was why he needed to catch the spy. Now he smiled as he closed in on his prey. He was close enough to see that whoever it was moved like a female. His mother was the only female who lived at the Manor now, ever since the Dark Lord had moved on. However, his father's insanity meant that the wards couldn't be changed. Only the master of the manor could do that. As a result any of the women who'd had access during the Dark Lord's residence still had access – Aunt Bella, the Death Eaters' wives, Pansy. There weren't very many. Maybe someone was polyjuiced as a female. That left their identity still wide open.

Whoever it was slipped inside the gate of the family graveyard and moved smoothly in between the headstones, careful to avoid stepping on the hallowed ground in front of each marker. He or she was clearly familiar with this area, this path. Was this where meetings with the contact from the Order of the Phoenix always took place? Who dared to enter this hallowed family place?

A motion on the other side of the graveyard fence drew his eye. There was someone there. The contact. It seemed a shame to let them finish their meeting unmolested, but he couldn't afford to be distracted right now. The Dark Lord would decide whether to continue to use the spy, maybe under the Imperius, or maybe just as bait to capture an Order member. Draco's business tonight was only with the betraying Death Eater.

Whoever it was must have known that the Manor's wards would alert both Draco and the Dark Lord if any one entered or left the grounds. But a meeting just at the border would not be detected.

It looked like the message had been delivered. The contact was gone, and the hooded figure turned to go back to the house, even pausing for a moment at one of the tombstones to kneel down and leave some flowers. Draco scoffed at the lame attempt at a cover story. Not good enough.

The family plot was no place for a confrontation. In fact, Draco had already scoped an ambush site behind the hedges. He slipped around a corner. In a few moments he heard the soft padding footsteps, still sounding decidedly female. Draco drew his wand, but waited for the figure to come around the hedge.

"Don't move," he snarled, then with a flick of his wrist a spell threw back the hood of the cloak. His mother's clear blue eyes met his, but he was not fooled.

"What story did I demand every night when I was three?"

"Digbert the Dragon Saves the Day," the imposter answered.

"Impressively thorough." Whoever this was he or she was ready to be questioned. Even her voice was right.

"How do I like my porridge?"

"With lavender honey, blueberries and almonds, lightly toasted."

Right again.

He dug into his memories for something only his mother would know.

"What did I say to you when we saw that Potter was still alive?" He'd whispered into her ear. No one else had heard. And since it hadn't worked, since the Dark Lord had yanked them away, she wouldn't have told anyone. Not even his father.

Her blue eyes looked calmly at him and answered "You said 'Within the hour we'll be gazing at the Ponte Vecchio.'"

Had this jerk searched his mother's mind? Copied it? His wand thrust out. He'd have to kill whoever this was for knowing that, for knowing they'd planned to escape. But first he had to know who it was. Who could impersonate his mother so well?

Then a new idea came to him. "Left hand," he commanded. There on the middle finger was the Malfoy crest, or at least a replica. But only a Malfoy could wear the real thing and their rings knew each other. He held out his hand, but jerked it back when he saw that the rings were both glowing with a soft green light. Impossible.

"Mother?"

"Draco."

"Are you imperiused?" he asked, even as he was searching her eyes. She put up no resistance to his legilimency. Her mind was clear and unimpeded, with her usual calm resolve. She easily let him see that she'd just met with Arthur Weasley, and heard her cryptic words to him. He could feel her strange pride that it had been Draco who'd managed to detect her, to find out her secrets. And overall, she was filled with a deep determination to bring down the Dark Lord.

He closed his eyes and pulled out of her mind. He could manage no more than a whisper. "What have you done?"

He didn't expect an answer, but she gave one - "What needed to be done."

His mind swirled as many thoughts rushed through it. His blood abandoned his face. His legs wavered and before they could give out he dropped to one knee, head bent, clutched in one desperate hand.

This was his mother. It was really her.

He looked up at her, suddenly seeing their future. The Dark Lord was waiting for him – to capture the spy, to bring the spy to him.

"Oh my God. What have I done?"

AN – Thanks for reading my new story. Just so you know – I will finish this story. The whole thing is already plotted. The first 10 chapters are written. I update once a week, every Friday. Don't bother pestering me. It won't be more.