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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001
Draco yawned – he hadn't slept well, and it was early to be out and about. He hadn't managed to get to the office this early in the morning in the entire time he'd been in London . It was chilly, which made him glad for the warm cup of coffee he'd picked up on his walk to the office. He shifted his bag on his shoulder and wrapped his hands around the cup.
“Elphaba,” he said, and stepped through the weather-beaten door of the antique shop.
“–going to get rid of Malfoy?” was the first thing he heard. Weasley and Potter were already there. They turned to look at him with expressions of surprise on their faces, and there was a second of stunned silence.
Draco stared back, clenching his jaw. He had expected this to happen at some point, and though he ought to have been relieved to see Potter again, now he was just annoyed. “Well? How are you going to get rid of me, then?”
Weasley winced and looked away, but Potter held his gaze. “Draco–”
“Don't patronize me.” Draco put his bag and coffee down and folded his arms over his chest. “I'm not stupid, you know. You've had a plan all along, and you don't trust me enough to tell me what it is.”
Potter sighed and leaned against his desk. “It's not about trust. It's about not dragging you into something that isn't your concern.”
Draco gaped at him. “Stopping Voldemort isn't my concern?”
“No,” Weasley said, looking at him now. “It isn't. Your father is paying you to make sure we do things his way, which we don't plan to do.”
“Ron,” Potter warned, but Weasley just gave him a sharp look. Potter turned back to Draco. “This isn't your fight. It's mine. And I intend to do it alone.”
Weasley groaned. “You aren't doing this alone.”
Potter turned to look at him, and Draco saw for the first time how exhausted he appeared. He had circles under his eyes, as if he hadn't slept well in days. He had a painful-looking scrape down his arm, and he kept one hand pressed against his abdomen as if he were in pain. Potter shook his head. “You have children who need you. I know what it's like to be an orphan, and that's not what you want for them.”
“What I want is for my kids to grow up in a world that isn't terrorized by an insane Dark Lord,” Weasley replied. “If you fail because I wasn't there to back you up, that's what we'll be left with.”
“You're not going,” Potter said.
“I promised you I would do this, and I meant it.” Weasley's face was pale; he looked tired as well. “You won't be rid of me so easily.”
“Nor of me,” Draco said. They both turned to look at him, and Draco took a deep breath. “He murdered my mother. I want him to pay for that.”
“He's murdered a lot of people,” Weasley said, a hard edge to his voice. “Your personal grudge isn't good enough.”
“Ron, don't,” Potter said, his voice gravelly. “It isn't that I don't trust you two. It's just that… I don't expect to survive this, and there's no reason to take either of you with me.”
Weasley looked pained, but Draco rolled his eyes. “Fuck the martyr complex, Potter. You need help, and we're willing to give it to you. Three are stronger than one. Besides, how can you expect to trap the Dark Lord all alone?”
Weasley and Potter exchanged a look. “We have a plan,” Weasley said. “And we don't need your help.”
“Actually, we do need something,” Potter said. “We need you to tell Lucius it's time.”
Draco glared at him. “You could send a fucking owl.”
“Why bother, when we have you?” Weasley retorted.
“Fuck you,” Draco spat. “I've played your little game from the moment I got here. I've been patient. I've even been nice. Yet, I'm treated like the red-headed stepchild –something you must understand, Weasley. The point that neither of you seem to grasp is that I have no particular loyalty to my father.”
“You have no loyalty to anyone,” Weasley replied. “That is the problem.”
Draco looked at Potter. “That isn't true, and you know it.”
Potter stared back at him for a moment, and something flashed in his eyes before resolution set back in. He looked away and sighed, pressing the hand that had been clutching his stomach to his forehead. “This is pointless. We've had a plan in place for years, and the final obstacle was removed last night. It's time. That's all you need to know, Draco.”
Draco looked at both of them in turn, but their faces were stony. They meant to exclude him, as if he were just another obstacle in their way. He took a deep breath, then rummaged through his bag and pulled out the tattered article. Its corners were folded and he'd scribbled notes all in the margins, but he held it before him as if it were a sacred text. “You don't trust me, and I can't say I blame you. But there's a spell for that.”
Weasley rolled his eyes. “What, imperius?”
“Perfidio,” Draco said, gesturing with the article. “It's an old spell, something I found in my research. If we do it, it will bind us together. We won't be able to lie to each other or betray each other, and afterwards…” He paused to look at each of them in turn. “Afterwards, we'll never be able to tell anyone what we did.”
Potter blinked at him for a moment, and then took the paper. He flipped through it, skimming the pages.
“You can't be seriously considering this,” Weasley said to Potter. “A spell to bind us together?”
Potter didn't respond for a long time, and then looked up at Draco. “You would do this?”
“I would,” Draco said.
“This says that the spell must be cast only a few hours before the deed is done,” Potter said. “You would have to agree before you know what the plan is.”
Draco took a shaky breath. “And then I wouldn't be able to refuse to participate. I would be pledging myself to this task without knowing what it was.”
Potter blinked at him, temporarily speechless.
“You would just have to trust us?” Weasley asked. “Why would you do that?”
Draco's eyes were fixed on Potter's. “I have my reasons.” They stared at each other for a long moment.
“All right,” Potter said at last.
“What?” Weasley spat, whirling to face him. “Are you insane? Harry–”
“You said you wanted to help me,” Potter told him. “Then this is what we'll do. Are you in or out?”
Weasley clenched his jaw and looked back and forth between them. At last he sighed and rubbed at his eyes. “Fine. I'm in. But I have a bad feeling about this.”
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco went over the details of the spell with Weasley and Potter until they left for lunch with Weasley's family. Draco wasn't invited, but he didn't mind.
Of course, he wished he had something to do other than meet Cho Chang for lunch. They'd made plans the night before, and Draco didn't want to go to the trouble of canceling now. She was entertaining, in her own way.
“Harry owled me this morning,” she said, grinning at him from across the table at the bistro they'd chosen. “I'm so relieved he's back.”
Draco frowned behind his teacup. When had that happened? He hadn't seen Harry send an owl that morning, nor had Harry contacted him before coming in. He swallowed down his jealousy and forced a smile. “Me too.”
She pushed lettuce around on her plate, a dreamy expression on her face. “So I've been wondering… what does he say about me?”
“Sorry?” Draco asked, stalling. The first thing that popped into his mind was She's terrible at giving head.
“He must talk about me every now and then. What does he say?”
Draco shrugged. “We don't talk about that sort of thing.”
“Well… do you know what he wants to talk to me about tonight?”
“Tonight? I'm not sure what you mean.”
Cho blushed, looking very girlish. “In the owl he sent this morning, he asked me to come to his flat at 8:00. He said he had something important to talk to me about.” She grinned again.
“Ah,” was all Draco could say. Jealousy speared through him, and it was all he could do not to frown.
“Do you think he… I mean, it's been a year, and with everything that's happened this week…” She paused and leaned forward, continuing in a whisper, “I think he might ask me to marry him.” She bit her lip and waited for Draco's response.
He kept his expression as neutral as possible. “He hasn't said anything to me.” His stomach was twisted into a knot.
That couldn't be it – not after everything that had happened between them. Not with Potter fervently pursuing a death wish. Besides, he didn't even consider his relationship with Chang serious. She was jumping to conclusions, of course. It was wishful thinking. Probably.
“We'll have to have a long engagement, of course. It's not proper to do it quickly. People will think I'm pregnant!” She giggled.
Draco's mouth twisted. She was deluded – that must be it. He toyed with the idea of telling her that he'd been fucking her boyfriend more than she had lately. He'd love to see the expression on her face. He had no idea what Potter was going to talk to her about tonight, but he doubted it would entail registering for china.
“I hope you'll come to the wedding!” she said, gesturing with her fork. She had abandoned her salad completely. “I shouldn't get ahead of myself, I know, but I can't help it. Oh, Draco, I hope you'll find someone like Harry some day!”
Draco choked on his tea, but she was staring off into space, smiling – probably mentally testing variations of Cho Potter and Cho Chang Potter. Draco fought the urge to hurl his knife at her.
Cho gasped as if she had forgotten something important. “Oh! I talked to Nigel – the one I was telling you about – and he's single at the moment. I didn't mention your name, of course, but I told him I had a friend I wanted to introduce him to.” She beamed at him. “What are you doing Friday night? We should all go out, the four of us – and you can meet Nigel!”
Draco gritted his teeth. “Actually, I'm not interested in dating anyone at the moment.”
“You'd love him,” she replied, ignoring his response. “You need a relationship, I think. It would be good for you. Someone to talk to and spend time with. Well, someone other than me, of course!” She nodded and smiled at him, as if the matter were settled.
Draco gave her a cool smile and didn't reply.
The chatter continued that way through lunch. Draco was relieved when they had finally finished their food. He was planning to pay his father a visit that afternoon, and after an hour with Chang, he was actually looking forward to it.
Chang looped her arm through his as they stepped out onto the street. “I'm not sure what I ought to wear tonight. What do you think? If Harry were proposing to you, what would you want to look like?”
“Not like a woman,” Draco replied.
She laughed. “Fancy knickers at least, don't you think? He's going to get quite a reward tonight. I'll have to tell you all about it tomorrow. I hope I don't cry! Harry doesn't like it when I cry.”
“I'm going this way,” Draco said, pulling away from her.
“Right, see you!” she called and started down the street.
Draco watched her for a moment, even finding her cheerful gait annoying. She was delusional, but he doubted Potter would enlighten her. He was probably just feeling guilty about all the sex with Draco. Maybe he was even planning a romantic evening to distract her from any suspicions she might have. After all, Potter wasn't serious about either of them. Draco scowled.
And then he was struck with an idea. He nearly laughed – it was just too clever.
“Cho!” he called, jogging after her. She turned. “I almost forgot – when I left to meet you, Harry told me to tell you to make it seven. I didn't know what it meant before, but I suppose it's about tonight?”
“Oh, thanks!” she said. “Maybe he didn't want to wait.” She grinned and made a squeaking sound. “If you learn any more, owl me, okay? I hate surprises, so I'd rather know what he's planning.”
Draco smiled, almost leered. “I'll do that.”
:: :: :: :: ::
“I'm surprised you were able to get past Professor Balikka,” Snape said, sitting behind his desk. “She has an uncanny ability to detect intruders on school grounds.”
“I suppose I was lucky,” Draco replied. It was probably best not to mention the FBI-issue concealment spell he'd cast on himself. “I hope you're well?”
“I'm quite busy, Draco. You said it was an emergency?”
Draco pulled the list of ingredients he still needed for the perfidio potion from his bag and handed it to Snape. “I need to acquire some things that aren't available in Britain – at least not on such short notice.”
Snape raised an eyebrow. “I can't imagine what one would need alligator bile for.”
Draco kept his expression guarded. “I'd hoped you could suggest substitutions.”
“I'm not certain what magical properties some of these would contain.” Snape frowned. “I suppose it's best if I don't ask what you're doing.”
“I suppose so.”
Snape's dark eyes darted over the parchment. He looked much the same as he had done three years ago when Draco left Hogwarts, though the years had aged him more than Draco would have imagined.
After several minutes of silence, Snape reached for a quill and began to write notes on the page.
:: :: :: :: ::
Ebby appeared when Draco called for her, bowing so low her forehead made an impression in the snow.
“Take this to the castle,” he said, handing her the paper-wrapped package of ingredients he'd picked up in Hogsmeade. “It's almost time for me to begin the potion, so I'll need a secure place to do it within the castle proper.” The elf bowed again and disappeared.
Ten minutes later, Draco was in the drawing room of the castle, waiting for his father to appear. He had been dreading this moment since he'd stalked out late Saturday night – but he'd known it was coming. It was inevitable. He poured himself a scotch and settled into his father's favorite comfortable chair.
Lucius swept into the room a minute later, looking irritated at having been summoned. His eyes narrowed when he saw Draco.
Draco gave him a cool smile. “It's time,” he said, raising the scotch glass to his nose and inhaling its earthy scent.
Lucius's expression changed from suspicion to resignation. “When?”
“Friday. You will tell the Dark Lord that you are holding Harry Potter captive here in this castle. You will honor him with the pleasure of killing Potter himself.”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “And how did I manage to capture him?”
“You didn't,” Draco said, swirling his scotch. “I did, on your orders. I seduced him, incapacitated him, roughed him up a bit, and then brought him to you. I've always hated him, after all.”
“What else do you require?”
“A place to set the trap. The house-elf told me there is a hidden chamber beneath the castle. It may suit our needs well.” He downed the scotch in one movement.
Lucius nodded and turned to leave the room. “Follow me.”
:: :: :: :: ::
At 6:30, Draco apparated into Potter's flat. To his relief, Potter hadn't recast the wards to lock him out. A bag of groceries sat on the counter in the small kitchen, and the sound of the shower running could be heard.
Draco sighed and settled on the sofa to wait. Ten minutes later, Potter emerged from the bedroom, naked. He started when he saw Draco.
“Got a date, or something?” Draco asked, trying to sound flippant.
Potter scowled and disappeared. He returned a moment later with a towel wrapped around his waist. “What are you doing here?”
“I haven't had a chance to talk to you since you returned,” Draco told him.
“Yes, well…” Potter folded his arms over his bare chest. “I'm a bit busy at the moment.”
“I can see that. When's she coming over?”
“Eight,” Potter said. He didn't seem surprised that Draco knew.
Draco gritted his teeth. “I won't pretend I'm not jealous.”
Potter hesitated for a moment, and then crossed to the sofa and stood before Draco. “You shouldn't be.”
“Oh, really? You've invited your girlfriend over for a cozy, romantic dinner at your flat, which will most certainly end with an evening of sex, and I shouldn't be jealous about it?”
“I'm breaking up with her,” Potter said. He leaned against the arm of the sofa, his bare thigh tantalizingly close.
It was a full second before he could process the words. “You're inviting her over to break up with her?” Potter nodded, and Draco felt a twinge of excitement. “Then why the big production? Why not just meet her somewhere and get it over with?”
“I dunno,” Potter replied, picking at a loose string on the sofa between his thighs. “I thought it would be better to do it in private. She gets… emotional.”
“But you're cooking for her.”
“And you showered.”
“I just went for a run. I was smelly.”
Draco pursed his lips, his mind whirling. He considered telling Potter that Chang thought the conversation tonight would be quite different – but Potter seemed so concerned with easing the blow that he might change his mind if he knew. The situation was nothing like he'd anticipated. He'd been prepared to come here and fight for Potter tonight, but it might not be necessary. Of course, a little insurance couldn't hurt.
He looked back up at Potter, unable to keep himself from smiling. Potter's hair was still damp and hanging around his face, and the towel around his waist was slipping. He glanced down at Draco and smiled. He looked so vulnerable and sweet that Draco's wavering resolve was strengthened. Chang didn't deserve him. Draco wanted him, and he would take care of him better than she ever could. Starting now.
Draco slipped a hand under the towel and grinned. Potter's eyes widened, but he didn't move. Draco slid off the couch and knelt in front of him, tugging at the towel. Potter's prick was already half-hard, and Draco imagined it was just from the sight of Draco on his knees.
“You've got time for this, haven't you?” he asked.
Potter swallowed and nodded.
Draco leaned forward, and Potter's erection grew before his eyes. He tried to go slowly, but the feeling of that hard length under his tongue was difficult to resist. He buried his face in Potter's groin, inhaling the muted scent of him mixed with soap, swirling his tongue against hot skin and moaning from the sheer pleasure of it. Potter was panting above him, his fingers grasping at Draco's head where his hair was too short to clench. Draco made a mental note to grow it out.
Potter made a strangled sound, and Draco pulled away. He swiped his forearm across his mouth and grinned. “Not that fast, Potter. Turn around.”
Potter's eyes were glazed, but he smiled. He stood, draped the towel over the arm of the sofa and turned. Draco pushed him forward so that he was bending over the arm of the sofa. He planted a few playful nips on Potter's arsecheeks, then slid his thumbs between and spread them.
“What are you–” Potter began.
Draco blew against his arsehole and grinned. “I'm going to eat you out.”
“What?!” Potter tensed beneath his hands, and Draco laughed.
“You heard me,” he said, and trailed the tip of his tongue down the crevice, stopping just above his goal. He flicked it there, around and below, not quite touching the hole.
Potter wriggled beneath his mouth. “I'm not sure this is a good idea,” he said, his voice strained. “I mean–” Draco circled his tongue around the hole, and Potter's complaint became a groan.
“Trust me,” Draco said. He let his tongue spiral in until it was pressing lightly against Potter's arsehole. Potter made a whimpering sound.
Draco took his time, intending to drive Potter mad with light flicks and gentle presses in, then kisses and full-on sucking. It was clear that no one had done this to Potter before, and Draco loved the idea of being the first.
Potter relaxed beneath his mouth, and Draco pressed the tip of his tongue into him with little resistance. He heard Potter moan something incoherent as Draco pushed his tongue in as far as he could and wriggled it. He pulled back just a little and pushed in again, fucking him slowly. He sealed his lips against the skin beneath his mouth and sucked as he moved, and felt Potter shudder in response.
“Oh god,” Potter groaned, his voice muffled. “Fuck, that's… fuck.”
“Yeah,” Draco whispered, then went back to work. He felt Potter relax completely, even open up to his mouth and probing tongue. He had often thought about eating Potter out like this, but the reality of it was even better than he'd imagined. Potter was more sensitive than Draco had expected, whimpering at every stroke of Draco's tongue, pushing himself open for more. Draco pressed his tongue inside farther than he would have thought he could, and moaned into Potter's arse. He wriggled the tip of his tongue, wondering if Potter could feel it.
“Fuck me,” Potter said, his voice little more than a whisper.
Draco didn't wait to be asked again. His own cock was straining in his trousers, and he stood and pressed it against Potter's arse, closing his eyes. “God, yes,” he said, unfastening his fly as quickly as he could. He fumbled for his wand to cast the requisite spells, then pushed himself into Potter.
Penetration was easier than usual, but after that particular rimjob, Draco wasn't surprised. He dug his fingers into Potter's hips and stilled for a moment, completely sheathed in him. That first night, it had started with Potter clothed and Draco naked, and now it was the other way around. Draco stared down at Potter's back, amazed at how all of this had happened so quickly. Even when he'd realized his attraction for Potter, somehow he hadn't thought he'd wind up fucking him over his own sofa like this. And if he had his way, it wouldn't stop here.
He leaned forward, sliding one hand along Potter's spine to the base of his skull, then clenched a fistful of dark hair and tugged his head up. “I want you to remember this,” he whispered into his ear, “what this feels like. When you break it off with her, you'll still feel me inside you, fucking you, owning you.”
“Yes,” Potter gasped.
He released Potter's head and moved, slowly pulling out, then pushing back in, hissing at the heat and pressure. He didn't want it to stop, but he was running out of time. It was far too close to 7:00 – Chang would arrive soon, and he really wanted to finish this.
As if on cue, there was a rush of green flame to his right, followed by a startled yelp. Chang was standing just outside the fireplace, a look of horror on her face.
They all stood still for several seconds, no one speaking.
“You're early,” Potter squeaked at last. It was precisely the wrong thing to say, and it was all Draco could do not to laugh. Chang's mouth opened as if to protest, but then her eyes darted to Draco's in disbelief and shock. He didn't resist the urge to smirk at her. Her eyes narrowed then, and he saw that she understood.
“You– you're– how long has this been going on?” Her voice was shaky.
“About twenty minutes,” Draco told her, a lazy sneer on his face. “Too bad you couldn't wait two more.” He was still buried in Potter's arse, and he pulled out a bit and pushed in again, unable to resist fucking him right in front of Chang.
“Draco!” Potter hissed, wriggling.
“I was really close,” Draco muttered, but he pulled out and backed away.
Potter stood and grabbed the towel, holding it in front of his groin – something Draco thought was an odd gesture considering that both people in the room had seen him naked and aroused before.
“That's not what I meant,” Chang said, her voice strained. Her eyes were bright, and she seemed to be struggling not to cry. She stepped toward Potter, her face twisted with pain. “I can't believe after everything we've been through, you would cheat on me – with him.” She shot a glare at Draco.
“It's not cheating,” Potter said, looking a bit like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “It's not as if we were exclusive.”
Chang gaped at him, and the tears began to spill over. “Of course we were! We've even talked about it!”
“You talked about it,” Potter said, with a hint of pain in his voice. “You talked about lots of things, but you never asked me what I wanted.”
“And that is what you want?” she retorted, gesturing at Draco. “Because if it is, I can't compete. I won't even try!”
Potter couldn't see the smirk on Draco's face, but Chang could. She turned to him, her cheeks flushed with anger.
“And you – I should have known you would stab me in the back the first chance you had. You pretended to be my friend. You sat across from me at lunch and listened to me talk about Harry. You knew how I felt about him, and all the while…” Her lip began to quiver then and she stopped. “Oh, god. I can't believe this is happening!”
“Cho,” Potter began, stepping towards her.
“Don't you dare touch me,” she said, backing away from him. “How could you, Harry? The other night, when you made love to me, were you thinking about him?”
Potter stared at her, as if unable to respond.
She hiccupped and wiped at her face with one hand. “And you're gay? I thought you loved me! How could you throw away everything we have together so easily?”
Draco rolled his eyes at her melodramatic words, but Potter seemd to take every one seriously.
“I'm sorry,” he replied, his face crumbling. “I didn't know you felt that way. I would never have–”
“You must think very little of me, then.” She drew herself up as if trying to gather her remaining dignity, and wrapped her coat tightly about herself. “You'll realize what you've lost one day, but it will be too late.”
“Cho, please,” Potter said, stepping towards her again.
“Goodbye, Harry,” she said, her voice high and full of emotion. “I hope you're happy.” She didn't sound like she meant it, though. She shot one more glare at Draco. “You deserve each other.”
Potter took another step toward her, and she disapparated. They both stared at the spot where she had stood, neither of them speaking for several seconds.
“Oh, god,” Potter said. “That was not how I wanted this to go.”
Draco felt a twinge of guilt mixed with his relief. He fastened up his trousers and sighed. “How did you want it to go?”
“I was hoping we could agree to be friends, at least.”
Draco snorted. “The moment she found out about me that would have ended, and you know it. It was just a matter of time.”
Potter turned and stared at him, a strange expression on his face. “Oh, no – please no. You wouldn't have done.”
Draco blinked. “Wouldn't have done what?”
“She was an hour early. That wasn't an accident, was it?”
Draco winced. “I didn't mean for her to walk in on us like that. I thought she'd just catch us being cozy and put two and two together.” It was almost true. He would rather she'd been a few minutes later.
Potter shook his head, incredulous. “I don't believe this. Fuck!”
“No,” Potter interrupted, stalking towards Draco. “I don't want to hear it. I was happy to see you tonight. And god, you made me feel…” He swallowed and looked away. “But that wasn't about me. You were just using me to get to her, weren't you?”
“Don't be ridiculous!” Draco retorted. “Besides, who's using whom here? First you tell me you don't believe in casual sex, but you have quite a lot of sex with me without much fuss – and then it turns out you've had a girlfriend for more than a year! You fuck around on her, and it's my fault?”
“Come on, that's not fair!”
Draco felt a flash of anger. “You want it both ways, without having to make a commitment, but you can't do that, Harry. You can't have both of us.”
“And you thought you would force me to choose, is that it?”
“She thought you were going to propose to her tonight. Did you know that?” Draco watched Potter's face grow pale, and he shook his head. “She wouldn't have let you break it off. You would have given in the moment she started to sniffle, and then where would you be? Where would we be?”
“You are so fucking arrogant!” Potter spat. “And you clearly don't know me very well. I was going to break up with her, and I was going to tell her about you. I was terrified of it. I spent the last week trying to come to terms with the very idea of having a relationship with a man, and I finally realized–” He stopped and took a deep breath. “But it doesn't matter now. If you would do something like that, you clearly aren't someone I could be with. I've made a mistake.”
Draco didn't doubt his sincerity for a moment, and he felt his stomach plummet as his anger shrank away. “I'm sorry,” he said, panic spiraling through him. “You're right – it was stupid and thoughtless, and I'm sorry. I care about you, Harry. I was starting to get a little desperate, and I–”
“I can't do this,” Potter said. His eyes were bright, and the expression on his face was solemn. “No matter how much I want it, I just can't. This is who you are, and I don't expect you to change. It's best if we just stop now, before it's too late.” He looked away and gestured towards the door. “Good night, Draco.”
“Harry, wait,” Draco said, stepping toward him.
“Go,” Potter whispered. “Please just go away.”
Draco stood rooted to the spot. He didn't want to leave. If he did, it would be over. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “I won't.”
“Go!” Potter said, his voice tight. “Fuck off! Leave! I don't want you here!”
“You don't mean that.”
Before Draco knew what had happened, there was a wand pressing into his throat. Potter was glaring at him with a fury Draco hadn't seen in years. “Go now,” Potter hissed, “before I do something I'll regret.”
Draco nodded and backed away. He gathered up his coat and his wand and moved to the door. Potter's wand was trained on him until he closed it behind him. He walked down the stairs and stepped out onto the street, feeling numb.
That hadn't gone as he'd expected.
He apparated back to his hotel room and lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling for a long time.
:: :: :: :: ::
Friday, 9 February, 2001
“Master Draco is needing anything?” Ebby's bulging eyes reflected the flames beneath the cauldron.
“No,” he told her, watching the bubbling mixture. A few more seconds and it should turn a particular shade of blue, and then he would add the Jabberknoll feathers – which he hoped would suffice. Yellow-billed Toucan feathers were difficult to get in this part of the world.
The potion lightened before his eyes and he waited, dangling the small package of feathers over the top. It settled into a shade the color of the sky, and he upended the bag. The feathers floated down and settled on the surface of the liquid. A moment later, they began to sink. He watched them disappear into the potion one by one, and watched. The potion shimmered, then turned green.
“Thank you,” he whispered, sitting back on his heels. So far, every substitution Snape had suggested seemed to have worked. He hoped that meant he hadn't altered the potion in any horrible way.
It was too late to worry about that now, though. Potter and Weasley would be arriving soon, and then everything would be put into motion.
Draco closed his eyes and tried not to think about Potter's icy glare the day before, when they'd gone over final details in the office. He'd tried apologizing, but Potter wasn't interested in hearing it. Weasley had even pulled Draco aside to ask him what had happened.
“Cho caught us… in the middle of something,” Draco had told him. “And I set her up for it. He's not very happy with me.”
Weasley's lips had twitched, as if he were trying not to smile. “Give him time. He'll come around.”
But Draco doubted it. He'd sent three messages to Potter through the box since yesterday afternoon, with no response. If he were honest with himself, he understood Potter's point of view, and that only made it worse.
The potion started to bubble, which was his cue to set the stirring spell. Now it was just a matter of waiting. He'd reminded Potter and Weasley to bring a valuable metal object with them to focus the spell. He'd made all the arrangements at the castle. He'd set up a portkey to bring Potter and Weasley straight to the room he was in now. Lucius had sent word to Lestrange about Potter's capture, and she'd reported that the Dark Lord would arrive shortly after sunset.
It was all coming together, and Draco worried that it had been too easy. And of course, he still didn't know what the plan was.
:: :: :: :: ::
Draco stood on the stone terrace and stared out at the sea below. The sky was grey and damp, and the waves were high. They crashed against the rocks below with a rhythmic fury that was mesmerizing. He had never spent much time by the sea as a child – his mother was always concerned he would burn.
Ebby appeared beside him with a pop, startling him. “Master Draco,” she said, her high voice cutting through the sound of the wind around them. “There is wizards here. Harry Potter and–”
“Thank you,” he replied, and turned back to the castle.
It was time, then.
He found Potter and Weasley in the entrance hall with his father. Weasley and Lucius were glaring at each other, and Potter's expression was stony. Draco couldn't help but pause at the sight. Who would have thought the four of them would collaborate to bring down Voldemort?
“I'll thank you not to speak of my father again,” Weasley said. The tone of his voice was tighter than Draco had ever heard before. Weasley hadn't said anything in front of him, but Draco knew he blamed Lucius for the Diagon Alley disaster, for not doing more to prevent it. Draco agreed with him on that point, but he hadn't worked up the courage to tell him so.
“Regardless, my condolences,” Lucius said, giving Weasley a cool look. He studied his pocket watch, a gesture Draco knew meant he was uncomfortable. Weasley only scowled in response.
“We haven't much time,” Draco said as a way of announcing his presence. Potter and Weasley turned toward him, both looking relieved. “If you'll follow me, we'll start the preparations.”
Lucius cast him a meaningful glance, but Draco ignored it. He knew his father wanted to know precisely what would happen when Voldemort arrived tonight. So did Draco, actually.
They left Lucius standing in the entryway and walked down a set of stairs into the dusty basement room that contained the entrance to the hidden chamber below the castle. Draco whispered the spell his father had showed him only days before, pointing his wand at a stretch of blank wall. The doorway materialized before them and creaked open, revealing a narrow stairway descending into darkness.
Draco heard Potter chuckle behind him as they stepped through. “I feel as if I'm in a Muggle horror film.”
“Careful what you wish for,” Draco muttered. They descended quickly, lit wands held out before them. After a moment, they could see the flicker of torchlight from the chamber below.
“I might've known this place would have a dungeon,” Weasley said as they walked into the chamber. The potion Draco had made earlier was bubbling away in a cauldron at the center, emitting a faint light. “Does your father lock up Muggle-borns in here, or something?” Weasley asked.
Draco snorted. “He's only had this place since my mother died. He says the family home reminds him of her too much.” Weasley and Potter both turned to stare at him, as if they found this difficult to believe. Draco shrugged. “It suits our purposes, doesn't it?”
“So this is part of the perfidio spell?” Potter asked, nodding towards the cauldron.
“Yes, and we should get started as soon as possible.” Draco pulled a list of written instructions from his pocket.
“Actually, there's something we need to do first,” Potter said, moving to stand in front of him. “Hit me.”
Draco could only look back at him blankly. “Sorry?”
“I need to look like I've been roughed up a bit, don't I?”
Even though Draco was still cross with Potter, he had no desire to hit him. “Can't you use a spell?”
“He thinks it will leave residual magic,” Weasley said, looking annoyed. “I've already said no.”
“Come on, Malfoy,” Potter said, almost sneering. “I've been a prick to you the last two days. I know you'd like to take a shot at me.”
Draco clenched his jaw. “I'm not playing your little baiting game. If you want me to do this, I'll do it, but don't fool yourself into thinking it's personal.”
“But it is personal,” Potter said, stepping closer. “Between you and me, it always has been.”
“You'll have to do better than that,” Draco replied.
“What, afraid you'll break a nail?”
Draco rolled his eyes, and then punched him squarely across the jaw. Potter staggered back, wincing, and Draco went after him again, hitting him three or four times more. He stepped back and shook out his aching hand. “There. Happy?”
Several large bruises were blossoming on Potter's face, and blood was trickling down his chin where Draco had split his lip. “Yeah, that'll do,” he grunted, pushing himself to his feet. “You hit harder than I expected.”
An image of Potter writhing under him while Draco slammed into his arse flickered through Draco's mind, and he smirked. “So I've been told.” He turned back to the cauldron and studied it, then smoothed out the parchment he'd crumpled in his fist. “It's getting late. We need to do this.”
“Right,” Weasley said, casting a worried glance at Potter, who was still rubbing his jaw. “What do we do?”
“It requires blood from each of us,” Draco said. He conjured glass vials and left them hanging in the air over the cauldron, then retrieved a small blade from his bag of supplies. He cut himself first, then passed the knife to Potter. He kept his focus on his own blood trickling into the vial, not watching the others cut themselves. When his vial contained enough blood, he pressed his fingers against the cut and waited.
“Here,” Potter said, and traced one finger along Draco's wound. When he pulled his hand away, only a faint pink line remained.
“Thanks,” Draco said, looking up at him.
Potter nodded and looked away.
They added the contents of their vials to the potion at the same time, and watched as it turned a deep shade of purple. Draco glanced at his written instructions. There had been no indication of what color the potion should be at this point, so he could only hope this was proceeding correctly.
“Now, do have your metal objects?” he asked.
Weasley held up his right hand to show a ring with a jade stone set into it. “This was my grandfather's,” he said.
Draco nodded and pulled up his sleeve to show the silver bracelet on his wrist. “This was my mother's.”
They turned to Potter, who was frowning. “I don't have any jewelry, actually. So I brought this.” He held up a weathered key.
“That's not good enough,” Draco told him, his stomach sinking. “It can't be an ordinary object – it has to have great personal value.”
“It does. It's… it was the key to Grimmauld Place , where my godfather lived. When I bought my flat, I transfigured it to fit the lock.”
“I didn't know that,” Weasley said, staring at him. “Was that his key, then?”
“Yes,” Potter said, looking sheepish. “At least, I think it was. And the flat is the most important thing I own, so I thought–”
“It's probably good enough,” Draco told him with a small smile.
“So do we just drop them in?” Weasley asked.
“There has to be skin contact with the objects for us to cast the spell,” Draco said. “We have to hold them and put them in, like this.” He demonstrated.
“But the potion's bubbling,” Potter said, casting a wary glance into the cauldron.
“It's not hot,” Weasley replied, holding his hand just over the surface. “It's fine.”
They all looked at each other for a moment.
“Right,” Draco said, holding out his hand. “We put our hands in and say perfidio three times. Ready?” None of them bothered to hide their nervousness as they stepped forward to crowd around the cauldron.
Weasley looked up at Draco. “Are you sure about this? Because if this doesn't work or fucks things up, I'm holding you personally responsible.”
Draco resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “On three. One, two, three.” They sank their hands into the potion, pressing the metal objects tightly together as they did. Weasley had been right – it wasn't hot; in fact it was a pleasant temperature, and made Draco's hand feel tingly. He felt two sets of fingers wrap around his wrist under the surface, pressing against his bracelet. It was oddly comforting.
He looked up and nodded at them.
“Perfidio. Perfidio. Perfidio.”
The tingle in Draco's hand intensified and began to travel up his arm. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was disconcerting. It spread through his chest and up into his head, making his hair stand on end. It moved down his torso and legs, tickling the soles of his feet. All at once the feeling disappeared, and they gasped as their hands were pushed up and out of the potion as if by great force.
“Whoa,” Weasley said, his eyes wide. The potion turned bright red, and began to swirl as if going down a drain. Within seconds, the cauldron was empty.
“That was utterly bizarre,” Potter said. “I've never felt anything like it.”
Draco smirked. That's because you haven't taken the right drugs.
Potter and Weasley simultaneously looked up and stared at him.
“What?” Draco asked.
“I didn't see his lips move,” Weasley said, blue eyes wide.
Draco gaped. “Wait – you heard that?”
“Yes,” Potter replied. “Is that supposed to happen?”
“I don't know,” Draco replied.
What do you mean, y ou don't know? There was no question the thought had come from Weasley.
Draco snorted. “The paper just said it binds us together for the task – it said nothing about telepathy.”
“I'm sure we'll find it useful,” Potter said. “But we should all be careful what we think about, in the meantime.” He nodded his head very slightly towards Weasley and gave Draco a meaningful look.
Draco placed his bag in the cauldron and banished them both to his hotel room in London , trying to keep his mind blank. “Well, the plan then. Why don't we start with that?”
Potter took a deep breath, looking at Weasley and then back to Draco. “All right. It's very simple. I'm going to kill Voldemort.”
“Kill him?” Draco stared at him, shocked.
“Yes, kill him,” Weasley repeated, an exasperated tone to his voice. “This has been the plan for years. We were hoping to leave you out of it, but here you are, so that's that.”
Draco shook his head, not quite believing what he was hearing. “But we're supposed to–”
“I know what we're supposed to do,” Potter said. “But this is what I'm supposed to do. For almost twenty years, this has been what I am supposed to do, and a little promise made to your father is hardly going to stop me from doing it.”
“But he can't be killed,” Draco said, panic rising in him now. “He's immortal. He'll kill us all, and–”
“He's not immortal,” Potter said, his voice very low. “Not any more.”
Draco's mind was filled with images of Potter stalking through dark alleys, digging in graveyards, hiding from dark creatures, destroying a glowing object in a shower of sparks, and none of it made sense. And as quickly as they'd appeared, the images were gone, as if Potter had realized what he was thinking and clamped down on them.
Draco shook his head to clear it. “This is insane! We're all going to die, you know.”
“I expect to,” Potter replied. He looked entirely serious, and for some reason, Draco knew he meant it.
“Not if I can help it,” Weasley said, pulling something from the inside of his coat. It was Potter's invisibility cloak, the one he'd had back in school. “Harry will pretend to be your captive, but I'll be hiding under this,” he told Draco. “If anything happens, I can back him up.”
Draco pressed a hand to his forehead. “So the plan is simply for you to wait while I bring him here, with Weasley hiding, and then you're going to just kill him? Kill the Dark Lord, just like that?”
Potter nodded. “Just like that.”
“This isn't going to work,” Draco said, laughing at the sheer idiocy of it all. “This can't be all there is to your plan.”
“He'll want to torture me a bit, I'm sure,” Potter said, his expression reserved. “The last few times I've faced him, others took the brunt of it, but I'm ready. I'll have my wand, and I'll wait for an opportunity to strike.”
“And that's all? You wait, we wait, and when you decide the time is right, you do it?” Draco held back a frustrated laugh. “Fuck, no wonder you've been doing nothing for the last few weeks. You already had this suicidal plan of insanity. No need to consider anything more complicated.”
Potter looked annoyed. “Are you finished?”
“No, I'm not. Do you have any idea what the Death Eaters will do to us if this succeeds? This wasn't their plan, after all. They don't want the Dark Lord killed, they–”
“They're naïve,” Potter spat. “They're blind, and they're stupid if they think they could really keep him captive, or whatever they wanted to do with him. This ends with his death or mine, and it ends today.”
“And you don't care if it ends with ours as well?” Draco retorted. He felt a wave of pain that didn't come from himself.
“That's not fair,” Harry said, staring at him so intensely that Draco nearly felt the weight of his gaze. “You know that isn't true.”
“It's not fair – you're right about that.” Draco took a deep breath, but his panic did not abate. This was the plan, and he'd already committed to it. He had no choice. “Are you sure it's even possible to kill him?”
“Yes,” Potter said. “Don't ask me how I know. I can't tell you.” Draco tried to reach out with his thoughts, but he found nothing this time. Potter's mind seemed to be carefully blank.
Draco sighed. “It's just as well. I'd only think you were more delusional.” His stomach was twisting with dread, but there was no turning back now. The spell wouldn't let him walk away. The irony was great, though – he'd trusted Potter with his life, and Potter was going to lead him right to his death.
“You won't die,” Potter said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Look at me, Draco. You aren't going to die. Voldemort won't see this coming. He doesn't know he's mortal. And he doesn't know you're on my side.”
Draco gritted his teeth against the emotion rising in his throat. This was real. Potter was serious; he was ready to die if necessary and there was nothing Draco could do about it. He wondered if Weasley had tried to talk him out of this insanity and failed.
Weasley snorted and folded his arms over his chest.
“And Ron won't die, either, unless he does something stupid,” Potter continued, giving Weasley a teasing glance.
Weasley sighed. “Which I'm quite likely to do, you know. So that leaves you, Draco.” He stepped forward and put his hand on Draco's other shoulder, his expression suddenly solemn. “And if we don't survive this, I want…” he paused and swallowed. “Tell Hermione about this. Tell her what we did, and why. Tell her I…” He stopped and pressed his lips together, looking away. “Tell her I love her and the children more than anything, and that I did this for them. Okay?”
“I will,” Draco whispered. It was all he could think of to say.
“Now go,” Potter said, his voice firm. “We'll be ready when you return.” They stepped away.
Draco stared at Potter, his emotions reeling. Things had gone so terribly wrong between them, and he hadn't expected they wouldn't have a chance to patch it up. It was too late now. They were out of time.
Potter smiled at him, and with a rush of relief, Draco knew he understood. Draco stepped forward and kissed him, carefully avoiding the spot where his lip was split. They stood like that for a moment until Weasley's discomfort filled their minds. Draco smiled at Potter, then turned and walked away.
:: :: :: :: ::
Lucius offered him scotch, but Draco refused. He needed to focus on the task before him, and to keep his mind closed enough that neither Lucius nor the Dark Lord would know what was about to happen.
“Are you certain I can't be of assistance?” Lucius asked. Draco had never seen him so tense.
He nodded, and then started as he felt a spike of emotion that wasn't his own. He couldn't hear any of Potter's or Weasley's thoughts from this distance, but every now and then he felt something.
“You must relax,” his father hissed. “The Dark Lord will know.”
“Don't worry,” Draco said, staring at the tapestry across the room in an effort to clear his mind. “He won't.”
It was ten agonizing minutes more before a hooded figure apparated into the room. Draco had to struggle not to reach for his wand.
“The Dark Lord will be here soon,” Bellatrix Lestrange said, pushing the hood away from her face. “He is looking forward to eliminating Potter at last.” She smirked at Draco. “Lucius, you must be proud of your son's accomplishment.”
Draco smirked back. “Lovely to see you as well, Auntie Bella.”
She moved forward until she was standing before his chair, looming over him with a sneer on her face. “You are so much like your mother – foolishly loyal to people for the wrong reasons. Pity.”
Draco only stared at her in response. He'd forgotten what family politics were like.
“Now Bellatrix,” Lucius said, standing. “It isn't polite to speak ill of the dead.” Under that calm exterior, Draco imagined he was seething. “Let us not be bickering when the Dark Lord comes. This is a day to celebrate. Potter will finally be dead, the prophecy will be finished, and nothing will stand in the Dark Lord's way.”
“Potter has been but a nuisance to him,” she spat, her dark eyes narrowing. “Just another of Dumbledore's lackeys, too foolish to give up the fight when the old man died.” She leaned forward, staring at Draco intensely. “Where is he? I want to see Potter for myself.”
Lucius smiled as if chastising a naughty child. “Now, Bella, he is for the Dark Lord to dispose of. He isn't to be touched by anyone else.”
“Perhaps I don't trust you,” she replied, still keeping her eyes locked on Draco's. “There have been far too many rumors about you, Lucius. There are many who suspect you of treason.”
Lucius laughed, and the sound was bitter and hollow in his throat. “I am aware of the rumors, which is precisely why I enlisted Draco's help to capture Potter. It is my gift to our Lord, a gesture of my loyalty.”
Bellatrix snorted as if she didn't believe a word of it, and scowled. “Why is your mind closed, boy? What are you hiding?”
Draco leered. “If you want so badly to examine my memories of fucking Potter into submission, I'm happy to oblige.”
“Perverted little queer,” she spat, stepping away from him. “Your mother would be so ashamed.”
“Of my stooping to work with a half-crazed lunatic like you? Yes.”
Bellatrix hissed and lunged for him.
Lucius's wand was at her throat in an instant. “Do not threaten my son,” he said, his voice low and gravelly. Draco felt an odd twinge of affection for his father. He doubted it would last.
Bellatrix froze, cocking her head as if listening. “The Dark Lord is coming,” she whispered, and an expression of mad glee spread across her face.
Draco focused his thoughts and let everything go – his fears, his doubts, his anger – and made his mind as blank as possible.
They waited, the silence and tension deafening. At last, there was a hissing sound, and a figure appeared in the center of the foyer. It wore a dark cloak and seemed to be shrouded in mist.
Draco willed his heart not to pound, willed his feet to remain where they were. It wasn't the first time he had been in the presence of the Dark Lord, but it always felt like this – like he was walking a very thin line between a tortured life and a painful death.
The figure turned and red eyes glinted from beneath the hood. Draco couldn't see a mouth moving, but a hissing voice emerged from where the Dark Lord's face was shrouded. “Take me to him.”
Draco didn't look at his father or at Bellatrix. He nodded and gestured down a corridor, then began to walk. He could hear whispered voices arguing behind him, and then a solitary set of footsteps. He exhaled, relieved. If Bellatrix had come along, it would have made the situation much more difficult.
“This way,” he said, waving his wand at the door to the underground chamber. It swung open with a groan, and Draco heard a rumbling laugh behind him.
“How appropriate. Lucius is nothing if not predictable.”
Draco didn't allow himself to think anything in response. They descended the stairs, and with each step, Draco felt his resolve strengthening. He could do this. They could be successful. It was possible. He didn't know if it was the spell bolstering him or if he believed it was true, but it didn't matter at the moment.
They stepped into the chamber to find it mostly dark – several of the torches had gone out, and those that remained flickered, casting ghostly shadows on the stone walls. Potter was slumped against the opposite wall, looking very much the defeated prisoner, and Weasley was nowhere in sight.
Potter's eyes narrowed at the sight of Voldemort, but otherwise he didn't react. He remained sitting on the floor, watching the Dark Lord draw closer. Draco walked a step behind, watching.
“At last,” Voldemort said, his voice an unearthly sound. “Who would have thought the great Harry Potter would be brought to his knees for something so very base?” Draco imagined he was grinning maniacally.
Potter stared up at him, not even flinching. “Who says I'm on my knees?” He pushed himself to his feet, and it seemed to take effort. In the dim light, the injuries to his face seemed more dramatic, and the blood on his lip glistened black. He kept his gaze firmly on Voldemort's face, and he didn't look frightened.
Draco had expected to be trembling by now, but he wasn't – he felt confident, even giddy. They were going to be successful; they only needed to focus on this task. He let a mask fall over his face as the Dark Lord turned to him.
“Stand by my side, Draco. Watch and learn.”
Draco stepped forward and the Dark Lord raised his wand. Draco watched, but Potter didn't respond, didn't go for his wand. He just stared back.
“I have waited far too long for this day, and I think I shall enjoy it a bit longer. Crucio!”
Draco cringed as he felt the wave of pain rip through Potter. He didn't feel the pain itself, but felt Potter's response to it, which was strangely worse. Though he had seen this spell cast many times before, he'd never experienced it this way. Potter fell to the floor and writhed in pain, making strangled noises. Draco's fists were clenched tightly at his sides.
The Dark Lord dropped his wand and Potter collapsed against the stone floor, panting. He glared up at Voldemort defiantly.
“How pathetic you are,” Voldemort said, his voice almost oily in Draco's ears. “I have been patient, Potter. I have waited years and have killed many people, just to arrive at this moment. Tonight I will finally finish it.” He paused, as if waiting to see if Potter would respond. He didn't, and Voldemort made a sound like a laugh. “I only wish Dumbledore could have lived long enough to see this moment of defeat. How I would have loved for him to watch you die.”
Potter still said nothing, did nothing. Draco wondered what he was waiting for. Why not end this now? He had his wand, and he could catch the Dark Lord by surprise.
“Draco,” Voldemort said, startling him out of his thoughts. “He should suffer more before he dies. Torture him.”
Draco was glad for the dim light; it hid the paleness of his face. He had no idea what to do. If he refused, the Dark Lord would become suspicious, but he couldn't imagine casting that particular spell on someone he cared for.
But he had little choice. “Yes,” he said at last, his mind spinning. “He should.” He raised his wand and opened his mouth, but nothing happened. He couldn't remember the word to cast the spell. He blinked and stepped forward, pointing his wand at Potter more firmly. His mind remained blank.
Potter stared back at him, and Draco heard in his mind a very clear, Do it! But he couldn't.
It's the spell, he thought. It won't let me hurt you. He saw from the subtle widening of Potter's eyes that he'd heard.
Draco lowered his wand and stepped back. “On second thought, why waste our time? I've waited years to see him die.”
“Very well,” the Dark Lord said, his voice disintegrating into a hiss. “Kill him.”
“What?” Draco spat before he could stop himself. “But you are the one – that is your honor, my Lord. I wouldn't dare–”
“I am giving that honor to you,” the Dark Lord replied, turning toward Draco. “You are the one who managed to bring him to me when so many others have failed, have you not? So kill him. Immediately.”
Draco raised his wand again, a fierce expression on his face. It wasn't even possible, even if he were willing, and the Dark Lord would discover that at any moment.
He swallowed and stared at Potter, willing him to give Draco a clue as to what he should do. Potter just stared back at him, the expression on his face unreadable.
“I've dreamed about doing this for years, you know,” Draco told him, forcing himself to sneer.
“Funny,” Potter retorted. “You said the same thing just before you sucked my cock.”
Draco stepped closer, scowling, his mind racing. How were they going to get out of this? Sniping would only buy them a bit of time, and then–
He saw a dark shape move beside Potter's head on the wall – a cockroach. Draco swore he'd remember to thank every god he could think of when this was over.
“Goodbye, Potter.” He narrowed his eyes and thought, Do it now. Use this as a cover. He felt Potter's understanding just as he aimed his wand at the insect and said, “Avada kedavra!”
Potter ducked the opposite way and the spell hit the wall beside him, blasting a hole in the stone. Draco dove for the floor.
Several spells were shouted and flashes of light flew over his head. The room suddenly seemed to be full of smoke and rubble, and Draco found himself disoriented by a strong sense of panic. It was another second before he realized it wasn't his own.
He scrambled to his feet and saw that Voldemort was holding Potter's wand in his hand. Draco felt a wave of fear unlike anything he'd felt before. He had no idea where it had come from, but it didn't matter.
Voldemort whirled toward Draco, his red eyes nearly glowing with rage. “Immobilus!” he spat, and Draco was paralyzed. “I don't believe for a moment that you are so incompetent to have forgotten to divest Potter of his wand.” He stalked toward Draco, who could do nothing but watch in horror. “I suspected your father had turned against me, and I was right. But this insignificant rebellion ends tonight. I will not be brought down by a traitor.”
Draco felt Potter's and Weasley's thoughts racing, but they were so quick he couldn't follow. He could only stare into the pale sunken face beneath the hood.
“Rest assured I will deal with your father shortly,” Voldemort continued. “And I will leave you to Bellatrix, I think. She's quite fond of you, after all.”
The Dark Lord turned back to Potter and raised his wand. Potter seemed frozen to the spot, though Draco could only see him peripherally. Move! he thought frantically, At least make yourself a difficult target! But Potter didn't move; he simply waited.
“This was far easier than I expected it to be,” Voldemort said. “I have never considered you an equal, despite what the prophecy said.”
Harry, what are you doing? The thought was Weasley's, and Draco saw Potter flinch at it. Why wasn't he moving?
Got a death wish, Potter? Want to take us with you? There was no response, as if Potter were trying to keep his mind blank.
Of course – Draco realized it a moment too late – the Dark Lord was a highly skilled Legilimens, and Potter was not much of an Occlumens. He was fighting to keep Voldemort from learning any more than he already had done. Weasley was their only hope now.
Voldemort's rumbling laugh filled the chamber. “What is your hidden friend waiting for?” He waved a hand and the invisibility cloak was pulled away from Weasley. Weasley's expression was fierce beneath it, and his wand was trained on Voldemort in an instant. “This is what the Ministry sends against me – three wizards, little more than schoolboys? How pathetic.” He looked back at Potter, apparently unconcerned about Weasley's threatening wand. “But you will still be first.” He aimed his wand at Potter's heart.
There was a wave of panic that seemed to come from Weasley, a sense that things hadn't gone according to plan, that Harry wasn't doing what he was supposed to do, that they should have brought Draco in sooner, and so many other thoughts that Draco had trouble following them. There was an answering sense of forced calm from Potter, but it didn't abate the rising determination in Weasley.
No! Draco thought, not sure if Weasley would hear. He's baiting you!
“No!” Weasley's voice echoed throughout the chamber. “Ava –”
But Weasley's wand was out of his hand and sailing across the room before he could get the words out. Voldemort laughed, brandishing their captured wands in one hand and turning his own towards Weasley. “So foolishly predictable. Avada kedavra!” The spell caught Weasley square in the chest and knocked him back against the wall.
There was a flash of surprise, and then Draco felt as if something had been ripped from his body. The pain of it was blinding, but then it was gone as quickly as it had come. His instinct was to pull back into himself, away from those ragged edges that had been left in his mind, away from Potter's mirrored sense of shock.
“No!” Potter was shouting, on his feet again. “Ron!”
But Voldemort advanced on him, cackling. “I have been waiting for this moment for years, Potter. You will fall, and then the Malfoys, and then no one will be left to oppose me. No one would dare.”
Potter flattened himself against the wall and held out his hand, but Voldemort held fast to his captive wand.
Draco could feel his own wand in his fingers, hard and smooth, but there was nothing he could do. It would all be over in a matter of seconds, just as he'd known it would, and he was powerless to stop it.
I'm so sorry, he heard. Draco felt a wave of emotion move through him at the words, spoken so clearly in his mind.
I know, he thought, and closed his eyes.
His eyes – he felt a tingle move through him at the realization. He could move, though he didn't know how or when it had happened. He didn't hesitate another second – he raised his wand and spoke the words of the killing curse.
Everything seemed to happen in slow motion after that. Draco saw the Dark Lord's body jolted by the impact of the spell, saw him crash to the ground, saw Potter scramble for his wand and stalk toward the Dark Lord, brandishing it before him, his eyes wild and his chest heaving.
Draco sank to his knees, drained. How had that happened? One moment, he'd been completely immobilized, and the next he wasn't. Was it the perfidio spell, or had he done that himself?
Potter stared down at Voldemort for what seemed like minutes before turning to look at Draco, dumbfounded. “You did it. You killed him.”
Draco could only stare at him in response. “I…” he began, and then felt the blood drain from his face. He couldn't think straight. One thought floated to the surface of his mind: “My father's going to kill me.”
Potter stared at him a second more, as if he couldn't believe what he'd just heard. He shook his head, then turned to where Weasley lay crumpled on the floor and stumbled toward him. Draco could feel shock and grief rising within Potter all over again, and it was more than he could bear. Potter's pain ripped through him, wrenching sobs from him, making him understand just what this loss meant, what Potter had lost. He couldn't bring himself to cross the room. He couldn't bear to be any closer.
He turned instead to the Dark Lord's body, twisted and lifeless upon the floor, panic filling his mind. “We have to hide it,” he whispered, wiping at his face with his hands. He pushed himself to his feet and staggered towards where Voldemort's corpse lay, feeling his head swimming. “Yes, hide it. Then they'll never know.”
“What are you talking about?” Potter asked, his voice strained. “He's dead. It's over.”
“They'll kill us,” Draco said. “This wasn't supposed to happen. Bellatrix Lestrange is with my father at this very moment, and she'll bring the others.”
“You said the spell would keep us from telling what we did,” Harry said, rising to his feet. “You said–”
“I didn't know this would happen!” Draco cried. “You've no idea what they'll do. If the world finds out the Dark Lord is dead, they'll lose everything, and they'll come after us. We won't be able to tell, but it won't matter. They'll torture us, kill us–”
“I don't care,” Potter spat. “This is all I wanted to do. This is what I was born to do. Dumbledore died because of me. Ron died because of me. If someone kills me for this, good. I've earned it!”
“No,” Draco said. “You – ow, fuck!” He pressed a hand to his forehead, and saw Potter do the same.
“What's happening?” Potter said, grimacing.
“I don't know. It could be the spell. I don't know how all of this–” he gestured at Weasley's body “–affects it.” The pain began to fade after a moment, but it was still present, humming underneath his thoughts. He gestured at the Dark Lord's corpse with his wand. “We haven't got much time. We'll bury him under the floor.”
“Don't you think they'd look there?” Potter grunted, though he didn't seem to be objecting.
“Not if they don't know he's dead,” Draco replied. “They think he can't be killed, right? We'll tell them that he figured out it was a trap, killed Weasley, knocked us around a bit, and then vanished.”
“That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard!” Potter said, gesturing at the body. “They'll never believe us! Besides, we can't hide the truth.”
“The spell is supposed to prevent us from telling the truth, remember? We just need to agree on the cover story.” Potter looked exasperated, and Draco's frustration grew. “For fuck's sake, help me! We haven't much time.”
“All right, fine,” Potter said, his voice shaky. “Oh god, I can't believe this…” He made a helpless gesture.
Draco talked him through a spell to create a space for the body under the floor and move it there, then mask all traces of it – it was one he'd picked up working with mobsters in New York , but he hadn't thought he would ever use it himself. They worked together to cast the spell, and then it was done. Only a scorch mark remained in the center of the floor.
Potter snapped Voldemort's wand into three pieces and incinerated them with a spell. As they watched the smoke curl up toward the ceiling, the pain swept through them again, this time more severe than before. They fell to their knees, both clenching their skulls.
“They're coming,” Draco mumbled, feeling himself start to fade from consciousness. He could hear footsteps on the stairs, echoing, getting closer. He saw Potter crawling toward Weasley's body, saw him take Weasley's hand in his, and then the darkness consumed him.
:: :: :: :: ::
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