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Monday, 8 March, 2004
Draco dreamed about Ron Weasley.
Weasley was glaring at him, pressing him against a damp brick wall with his large hand so tight against Draco's throat that it was difficult to breathe.
“This was your doing,” Weasley said, voice sounding as if it came not from his body but from somewhere else entirely. “You must fix it.”
Draco tried to speak but it was no use. He could only stare helplessly at Weasley. But I don't know how.
“We each had a key,” Weasley continued. “Harry holds one. Find the others.”
Draco was desperate to breathe, his lungs aching, but it was no use. He began to see stars, and then Weasley released him. Draco crumpled to the wet ground, and looked up to see Weasley staring down at him.
“I killed you, didn't I?”
Weasley didn't answer. He simply faded away.
Draco opened his eyes to see an ornate ceiling above him. He blinked several times, disoriented. It was only after he'd sat up that he remembered where he was.
He'd had the same dream the night before. Once again, the details faded away like wisps of smoke before he could grasp them. It was about Ron, that much he remembered. He wasn't sure if it meant something or not. He wasn't even certain he could trust his own mind anymore.
He crossed to the room's single window to see that the sky was lightening: the sun was beginning to rise. This was the second morning he'd awakened in this strange house, but he had yet to leave this room. The door had been locked all day yesterday. A house-elf had appeared to bring him food, but he'd refused to eat, demanding to see his father. The elf had shrugged and vanished.
His stubbornness had only resulted in a rumbling stomach, unfortunately. Add to that withdrawal from nicotine and he was nearly going mad.
Draco crossed to the door and examined its locking mechanism. Without his wand, there was only so much he could do. He'd tried a few spells yesterday, but he hadn't been able to cast anything useful. Alohomora was nearly impossible to cast without a wand, oddly. It was simple enough when one had a magical focus, but without it – buggered. He concentrated now, realizing that a simple lifting spell might do the trick. It was an old-fashioned Muggle lock, the kind that simply had a lever in a groove holding the door in place, rather than a deadbolt.
He closed his eyes and pictured the mechanism in his mind, focusing on the lever. He only needed to lift it – why hadn't he thought of it before? He opened his eyes and raised his hand. “Wingardium leviosa.” The lever moved up enough that turning the knob dislodged the lock with a click. The door was open.
Draco allowed himself a smug smile before straightening his clothes and stepping through it into a lavishly decorated corridor. A suit of armor stood at one end and the walls were lined with landscape paintings. He frowned at them, only realizing when he was halfway down the corridor why they seemed so odd: they didn't move.
He descended a staircase to find himself in yet another corridor, so he continued down until the staircase became ornate and wide, opening into a large parlor. He looked around, feeling that it should somehow look familiar to him – but he couldn't remember ever seeing this place in his life. Why would he have been in such a large Muggle house before? And for that matter, why would his father be living here?
His nose and grumbling stomach led him to a dining room, where the remains of someone's breakfast lay on a large wooden table. He sniffed at an untouched piece of toast and continued on to the kitchen.
“Sir is awake!” a voice chirped behind him. Draco spun around, startled. A house-elf stood before him, beaming. Draco didn't know if it was the same one he'd seen yesterday or not. For all he knew, there was only only house-elf here. They all looked alike to him.
“I am indeed,” he replied. The creature seemed happy to see him, so perhaps he wasn't about to be imprisoned again.
“Sir would like some breakfast? Some tea?”
Draco nodded, still cautious. “Could you manage some coffee?”
Fifteen minutes later he was pleasantly full, and he decided to stroll about with his coffee and explore the place more. He headed back to the parlor he'd been in before and crossed it to find a doorway that led out to a terrace. He walked to the edge and looked down to see he was standing on the edge of a high cliff overlooking the ocean below. He had no idea where he was. Scotland , perhaps. Or Oregon , for all he knew.
He turned back to look at the building behind him and saw that it was an old castle, its crumbling spires unsettlingly familiar. Scotland , then.
“You must be Draco.”
He turned to see a young woman standing next to him, dressed smartly and holding a teacup. She smiled and slinked past him to sit on a lounge chair. She placed the teacup on a small table and turned a radiant smile to him. The woman was younger than he was, and extremely attractive. Her long blonde hair was rumpled and fell around her shoulders, almost overwhelming her petite form.
“You have your father's eyes.”
Draco crossed his arms over his chest and gave her a cold stare. “Where is my father?”
“Still in bed, as you should be. It's chilly this morning, after all.” It was impossible to miss the innuendo in her tone.
Lucius had kept such playthings ever since Draco could remember. His mother had turned a blind eye to it, but Draco had hated every one of them. Simpering, beautiful, and usually Muggles, they would fall over themselves for the privilege of spending a week or two in Lucius's bed, awed by this new exposure to magic and power. They would typically fawn over Draco as well, petting his hair and kissing his cheeks, saying what a darling child he was. He'd always gone back to his room to scrub his face clean, not wanting to think about where their mouths had been. Muggles were dirty, his mother had told him. As a child, Draco had wondered how his father could bear to touch them.
His childhood bedroom had been near his father's, and he'd been awakened on many occasions by strange sounds from within. His only consolation was that Lucius tired of the girls quickly, and after a few weeks he would cast a memory charm on them and send them back where he'd found them, leaving them oblivious to the fact that they'd spent the previous few weeks with their ankles about their ears. A month or so later, another would show up, and the whole cycle would start again.
“I'm Heather,” the woman said after a long silence. She smiled and patted the chair next to hers. “I won't bite, you know.”
Draco contemplated Heather for a moment. She dressed like a Muggle, so she probably knew little more about this place and what went on here than what Lucius had told her. Though it was possible he had told her something Draco would find useful.
He crossed to the chair and stretched out on it, sipping his coffee and not looking at her. “How long have you been here?”
“A week. Your father's castle is lovely.”
Draco stifled a frown. He had no idea if this place belonged to his father or not, but if so it had been a fairly recent acquisition. “So it is.”
Heather shifted in her chair so that she was leaning closer. “He said you were here and I've been dying to meet you.” Draco looked up to see her lick her lips. “He didn't tell me you were so handsome.”
Draco stifled the urge to roll his eyes. “I suppose he didn't tell you I'm gay either?”
Heather blinked at him for a moment, as if she didn't know if he were serious. Draco raised an eyebrow, and a look of disappointment fell over her face.
“That he didn't,” she said, fingering her teacup. “In fact, he implied quite the opposite.”
“Did he? Wishful thinking, then.”
Heather smiled again. “Perhaps you'd like to give it a go anyway? If your eyes were closed, I bet you couldn't tell my arse from a boy's.”
Draco choked on his coffee and looked away. It wasn't like he'd never thought of that before. He kept meaning to ask Harry about it, actually.
He felt his stomach sink. He had no idea where he stood with Harry, after all. He'd spent the entire day yesterday lying in bed and staring at the ceiling, alternately depressed, angry, and despondent. He'd even broken down in tears once at the thought that he'd never see Harry again. Or worse, that when he did see Harry there would only be contempt in his eyes.
“I have a boyfriend,” he said at last. At least, he hoped he did.
Heather sighed. “They always do.”
“Don't suppose you've got a cigarette?” She shook her head, and he sighed. “Has my father been busy this week?” He hoped he sounded casual.
“Oh, yes. But you know more about that than I do, I'm sure. He keeps odd hours, doesn't he?”
“Even with you?” Draco gave her a pointed look.
Heather smiled. “I don't mind. I can sleep when he's not around.”
“Careful you don't get bedsores.”
Heather laughed. “You don't think much of me, do you?”
“There have been a hundred girls just like you, and there will be a hundred more. In another week when he's had you in every position he can think of, he'll get bored. He'll send you on your way and find a suitable replacement.” Heather's eyes hardened, and Draco smirked. “So there's really no point in us getting to know each other, is there?”
Heather looked away and said nothing. Draco drained his coffee cup before letting it drop to the stone and shatter. The house-elves would find the pieces and repair it -- it would give them something to do.
He returned to his room and crawled back into bed, thinking about Harry.
:: :: :: :: ::
A house-elf appeared in Draco's room around 8:00 that evening. Draco had been practicing casting levitation spells on heavy objects, something he'd never given much thought to before. He had only ever learned the sort of wandless magic that had seemed most convenient when one's hands were occupied, like sex spells. He regretted it now, of course. He grabbed the chair he'd been levitating, hoping the elf would think he'd just been lifting it, for exercise, perhaps.
The elf gave him a long look. “Sir is requested for dinner with the Master.”
It was on the tip of Draco's tongue to refuse. He ought to, but he'd just go hungry again. That wouldn't do him any good. Besides, he had questions. Perhaps Lucius would deign to answer them.
He set the chair down and nodded. The elf stared at him for a moment, as if it had been expecting him to refuse. It opened the door and walked out, without even indicating Draco should follow.
Draco trailed behind it, already knowing the way and not wanting to have to scramble to keep up with a house-elf. It soon disappeared from view, apparently satisfied to let him find his own way. Draco hadn't looked very closely at it and wondered if it was the same one that had made breakfast for him that morning. Probably not – this one was rather grumpy.
He walked into the dining room to see his father sitting alone at the table, a glass of sherry before him. He turned when Draco entered, nodding at him in greeting.
“Good evening, Father.” What was it about Lucius that made him feel twelve years old again?
Lucius smiled. “I'm pleased you've decided to join me tonight. I trust you have found your accommodations suitable?”
Draco sat and a glass of sherry appeared on the table before him. “Was it necessary to lock me in?”
“You managed to unlock the door, didn't you?”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “Was it meant to be a test, then?”
Lucius shrugged and sipped his sherry. “It did take you a bit longer than I expected. Your reputation led me to believe you were quite capable of handling yourself in any situation, wand or no.”
“I was rather comfortable. Have you considered that I didn't want to escape?” Draco sipped his own sherry, feeling himself slip back into the role he had always played with his father. Half-truths, sarcasm, veiled threats, bravado – all part of the dinner conversation.
Lucius snapped his fingers and a small plate with an amuse-bouche appeared before each of them. “I am pleased to have you here, son. I've been quite impressed with the work you've been doing on my behalf.”
Draco wondered if Lucius actually believed they were on the same side, or if he realized it was just an arrangement of convenience. Not that it mattered at this point
“I had hoped you would be able to continue for a bit longer, of course. This arrest was most unfortunate.”
Draco grimaced. He done little more than think about that since he'd arrived. It had become a cycle of replaying the events in his mind and beating himself up more for the mistakes he'd made that day, which would lead to thinking about Harry, which would only paralyze him all over again. He took a gulp of sherry to cover swallowing down the sudden emotion that rose in his throat.
“I can assure you that every step will be taken to punish those responsible,” Lucius continued. “In the meantime, I have a task for you, one I hope you won't find wholly unpleasant.”
Draco scowled, imagining the worst. “I won't be treated like a common whore.”
Lucius gave him an amused look. “Don't be ridiculous. You are my son.”
“I was your son five years ago as well.”
“You have proved yourself far more valuable than I ever imagined possible. Besides, I have found someone else for that position.”
“I think I met her earlier.”
Lucius didn't take the bait. “Heather fancies you. You could have her if you like. I'm growing tired of her.”
“You know I'm not interested.”
“You could at least try, Draco. You could have any girl you wanted, as many as you wanted.”
“You've had enough of them for the both of us. Besides, why should I bother when I can have any boy I want?” Lucius's lips pressed into a thin line and Draco smirked. “And I've had many, I can assure you. I fuck boys and they fuck me, sometimes both at once if I can find two I fancy enough. And I give great head too, something I imagine your Muggle Uni girls can't manage.”
Lucius's grimace turned into a glare. “I've been patient, Draco. It's time you outgrew these hedonistic pursuits and took your proper place in society.”
Draco resisted the urge to argue. It would do no good. His father didn't believe homosexuality even existed. He'd thought Draco was just rebelling against him for years, and then he'd thought Draco was merely sick. It seemed he had progressed to thinking Draco was immature, which was a marginal improvement.
“What is it that you want me to do for you?” Draco asked. The small plate disappeared, despite the fact that he hadn't touched his food, and a bowl of soup took its place.
Lucius was silent for a moment but seemed relieved for the change in subject. “I want you to continue what you have been doing. Meet with my supporters; assure them that all will be well. Intimidate them if you must.”
Draco's stomach fluttered. He wasn't going to be held prisoner here after all. He might even be able to contact Harry. “What about my arrest and escape? Am I considered a fugitive?”
“Yes. As am I. But you have quite a reputation for working under the notice of authorities, so I trust you know how to take the necessary precautions.” He continued eating his soup with a casualness that stunned Draco.
Lucius trusted him. Draco had no idea why. There was no reason for him to trust Draco. He frowned – it couldn't be so simple. But he knew better than to press the issue. He would find out what his father really wanted soon enough.
“And how am I to reassure your supporters if I don't know what's really going on?” he asked. The main course appeared before them, though Draco had barely touched his soup.
“You will learn everything soon,” Lucius replied. “As will I.”
Draco stared at him in surprise, but his father said nothing more. They finished the meal in silence. Draco even stayed to drink a glass of brandy, hoping his father would say more, but he didn't. Draco's eyelids were getting heavy, and he found he had to force himself to stay alert.
Lucius watched him over his own brandy, and a smile flitted over his lips. “You look tired.”
“M'not.” Draco pushed the brandy glass away and yawned. The world was spinning a bit, though he hadn't drunk much.
“Goodnight, then.” Lucius drained his glass and stood.
Draco strolled back to his room, lost in thought. His father knew more than he had told Draco – that much was certain – but there was also something his father didn't know, and he seemed to believe Draco was the key to finding it out.
The word key drifted through his mind for a moment, oddly. Why was he thinking about keys? He tripped on a step and managed to grab the railing before he fell. He was tired and a bit groggy from the alcohol at dinner – that was all. He'd think about it some more in the morning. And maybe have a shower and a wank, thinking about Harry.
The thought of Harry stirred something inside him, a feeling of simultaneous excitement and dread. He didn't know what Harry thought of him now, but he would likely have an opportunity to get a message to him soon. He could tell Harry everything. Maybe they could continue working together to learn what had happened, with Draco on the inside of Lucius's organization and Harry working for the Ministry.
Draco snorted at himself for that naïve thought. He must be drunk after all. He opened the door to his room and cast a spell to light the candles. A few of them flickered, but most just smoked a little. He scowled at himself. That was a spell he was usually proficient at, even when drunk.
And then he realized he wasn't alone. A figure was draped across his bed, and he had to squint to make out who it was. The figure stretched and then stood, still in shadow.
“I've been waiting for you.”
“Heather?” Draco squinted. He must be dreaming this.
Heather stepped forward, smiling. Draco's mind whirled. Why was she here, in his room? He looked around to make certain he was indeed in his own room and not someone else's.
She pulled the sash on the flimsy silk robe she was wearing and let it slip off her shoulders, pooling at her ankles. She was completely naked.
Some small part of Draco's brain found the situation humorous, but he managed not to laugh. “I'b shorry I…” He paused. His tongue wasn't working properly.
Heather seemed to glide forward and then her arms were around him. His hands found her back of their own accord, sliding down to the curve of her waist. He was surprised at how soft her skin was. His fingers tightened on her hips, trying to find purchase to push her away, but his body wasn't cooperating with his mind. It was as if his muscles were reacting seconds after he wanted them to.
He tried to speak again, and she kissed him. Her lips were so soft that it stunned him into immobility for a moment. A hand was around his cock stroking him, a small hand, smaller than Harry's hand but moving and… when had his trousers come off?
“Wha ba?” he mumbled. He tried to step away but the world was turning and he stumbled forward, into soft warm arms and… One of his hands was on a breast. He managed to pull it away. The world spun and he was on his back on the bed, not sure how he had got there. He was dimly aware of a mouth on his cock – which seemed unaffected by the alcohol, oddly.
It all clicked just as everything began to grow dim – he'd been drugged somehow, at dinner, probably. This had been a set-up. His father must be responsible for this.
This. Oh, god, this – he didn't want this. He knew where this was going and it was something he'd never done, had sworn he'd never ever do, as a matter of principle.
He pushed with his hands but could only clasp at her hair. He tried to form a word, but his mouth wouldn't cooperate. He felt her straddle him and his cock was engulfed by warm wetness, and then it was completely dark.
:: :: :: :: ::
Tuesday, 9 March, 2004
The dream about Ron faded into the morning light, once again. As soon as Draco became aware that he was awake, he wondered when the lorry had run him over. He felt like utter shit. His first thought was to try to dampen the hangover with a spell, and then he remembered he didn't have his wand.
He opened his eyes. The events of the evening prior washed over him in a second, and he sat straight up in bed. Sudden movement proved to be a mistake – he barely made it to the en-suite toilet in time. He pressed his forehead against the bowl, eyes squeezed shut and willing it all to have been a dream.
He stumbled back to the bedroom to see he was alone. Maybe it had been a dream after all. He sat on the bed and pressed a hand to his forehead.
He was naked, and he didn't sleep in the nude as a matter of course. Not lately, at least. He glanced down at the sheets. They were the magical sort that banished stains and straightened themselves, so no hints there. His head pounded. He scratched his balls absently and came up with a long, blonde, sticky hair.
He was filled with a sense of anger he could barely contain. How could he have been so stupid? He knew better than to trust anyone, let alone his father. Lucius must have been behind the entire thing. He had probably smirked all the way back to his own suite, thinking about what was waiting for Draco.
He had never felt violated before, not like this. He'd never even been in a situation where he was uncomfortable or in danger of being… raped. Was that what had happened? He wasn't sure.
He stood under the spray of the shower for half an hour, water turned up as hot as he could bear, scrubbing at his genitals with soap several times. The Muggle hot water heater finally began to empty and the stream grew lukewarm, but he stood there still, shivering against the tile.
There probably hadn't even been a condom. A slapper like her probably carried all sorts of horrible diseases. Or worse, she had probably got pregnant. That would serve Lucius right, Draco thought – a half-blood grandchild. The thought made his stomach reel a bit more.
If only he had his wand. He felt helpless without it.
The water finally grew so cold his teeth began to chatter, so he turned it off. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were bloodshot and his face was starting to get scruffy. He rubbed absently at the blond stubble on his chin.
He looked pathetic. He felt like shit. And a woman had fucked him last night. He hadn't even been able to fight her off, despite having a good stone on her.
He started to crawl back into bed, but that just reminded him of what had happened there. He pressed his palms against his temple again in an attempt to stifle the pounding. He would have given his left nut for a cigarette.
And then he got dressed as quickly as he could and stormed out of his room.
He found Lucius in one of the chairs on the terrace, Heather squirming and giggling in his lap. Draco stalked across the terrace toward them. They looked up as he approached, Lucius smirking and Heather smiling quizzically. Draco didn't hesitate: he slapped her so hard he knocked her off Lucius's lap.
Heather squealed and pressed a hand to her cheek, scrambling on the stone. Draco started after her again, and she climbed to her feet and ran behind Lucius's chair, eyes wide with terror.
“Who the fuck is he?” she cried, tears welling up in her eyes. She looked completely bewildered. “What's going on?” Her gaze darted from Lucius to Draco and back to Lucius again.
Lucius laughed, a deep rumble that sent a chill down Draco's spine.
Draco glared at his father as realization dawned. “You bastard,” he hissed, shaking his head. Heather had been obliviated. Draco bit back his frustration. It would do no good to take it out on someone who couldn't remember harming him.
“Leave us, darling,” Lucius said to Heather, who was still cowering behind him and whimpering. A large bruise was blossoming on her cheek. She glanced at Draco once more before dashing away.
“Did you enjoy doing that?” Draco spat, looming over Lucius as best he could. “Maybe you even watched, you twisted fuck.”
“Most sons would thank their fathers for such a favor,” Lucius replied, not intimidated in the least. “A beautiful woman waiting in your bed is one of the great pleasures in life, Draco.”
Draco pressed his hands against his head again, barely able to remain standing. Lucius thought it was all a joke. It was probably best not to let him know how much harm he had really done. Draco hardly needed to expose any more weaknesses to the man.
He felt a wave of nausea and dashed for the edge of the terrace, vomiting spectacularly over the side.
“Oh dear,” Lucius said with a sigh. “Paksy overdid it, didn't she?”
“That fucking elf has always hated me,” Draco moaned. That particular house-elf had been the bane of his childhood existence. His father had never intervened, saying Draco needed to learn to demand respect from servants. Apparently he hadn't succeeded. He'd give it a good kick next time it had the misfortune of crossing his path.
“I told her I wanted you relaxed, not comatose. I'll have one of the others beat her for it, of course. Come here.” Draco climbed to his feet and stumbled towards him. “Sit,” Lucius ordered, pulling out his wand. Draco sat on the edge of the chaise and Lucius cast a spell he had never heard before. Just like that, the pain was gone.
Draco's head spun from the sudden change. “I need to learn that spell.”
Lucius patted his head as if he were a small child with a bruised knee. “Better?”
“Yes.” Draco felt oddly like a child for a moment. He had a sudden flash of scraping his arm when he was small, from falling out of a tree. His father had run to his side to heal it, and had then let Draco sit in his lap for the rest of the day, petting his hair and fussing over him. Draco remembered loving the attention and milking it for all it was worth.
He glanced up at his father now, feeling a bizarre mix of emotions. How could he still feel something for this man who had done nothing but make his life miserable for the last seven years?
Lucius smiled at him. Feeling awkward, Draco stood and ran a hand through his hair. “I'll be in my room.”
“Sulking, I suppose?” Lucius smirked, and the spell was broken. Draco glared at him and walked away.
:: :: :: :: ::
The bed had remade itself when he returned, and he stretched out on top of it with a blanket he'd found in the wardrobe. He still felt angry and violated, but there was nothing he could about it, no reason to dwell on it.
Did this mean he had cheated on Harry? He pressed his face into the pillow.
It was a relief to have the hangover gone, at least. His mind was filled with a memory of stumbling around Haight Fair in San Francisco with Harry, looking for hangover potion. He'd been scared Manny would see him there that day and give him hell for going there after he'd been expressly forbidden to do so. When Manny was cross, he was a force to be reckoned with.
Draco winced. Manny hated him now too, which was probably what he deserved. He'd never meant to deceive Manny, though. He cared about him, loved him, even. Draco had gone from wanting a different boy every night to falling head over heels with Manny in the space of a week, it had seemed. One day he'd been commitment-phobic, and the next he wanted nothing more than to have a serious boyfriend, to his own astonishment.
Not that it mattered anymore. Manny had been sweet and wonderful, and Draco had really believed it was going to work. He'd been so heartbroken when it didn't that he buried himself in work, concentrating on making money instead. Two years later when Colby had found Draco and threatened to expose him, he'd run to Manny for help. He hadn't intended to deceive him, he'd just…
Draco rolled onto his back and forced it from his mind. No use dwelling on it now. He could only go forward. He had to find a way to get a message to Harry, and then hope Harry was willing to listen.
:: :: :: :: ::
The house-elf that came to summon him for dinner was a different one than the night before, as far as he could tell. Draco suspected Paksy was the grumpy elf that had come for him last night. He hoped the damned creature was suffering tonight. It would do well to avoid him.
“Sir is requested for dinner,” the elf said.
“I'll be along soon,” Draco replied, annoyed at being ordered about with no notice. Why couldn't his father just send a message with the appropriate time to appear on it, preferably several hours in advance? He was treating Draco like a child.
The elf wrung its hands and contorted its face into something that looked like anxiety. “There is a guest waiting, and Master told Rolly to bring Sir right away.”
“Fuck off. I'll come when I damn well please.”
The elf squeaked and disappeared.
Draco fumed for ten minutes before changing clothes for dinner. After escaping his Ministry cell with only the clothes on his back, he'd finally managed to get the house-elves to bring him some suitable items to wear. He'd sent back several shirts until they brought him exactly what he asked for. He assumed they'd just conjured it all and transfigured it to his specifications, as he doubted house elves had a clue what Versace was.
He finally made his way downstairs, letting his bad mood fester along the way. It would be easier to deal with his father. He'd make one of the elves taste his food tonight too, in case Lucius had any more tricks up his sleeve. Perhaps the guest was one of his father's cronies. At least it wouldn't be Heather – Lucius's toys were generally confined to quarters and didn't eat with the family.
Draco pushed open the doors of the dining room, smirk fully in place, only to have it wiped from his face immediately.
Standing by the table, arms crossed over her chest and scowling, was Cho Chang.
Draco stared at her in disbelief. She appeared to be in the middle of a discussion with Lucius, something that surpised him even more. He'd been suspicious she was working with Death Eaters, but with his father? That was something he hadn't expected.
She cast a sharp glance at him as he entered and then turned back to Lucius. “And I end up looking the fool, of course.”
“Draco was not to be touched,” Lucius retorted, sitting casually in his chair and fingering the stem of his glass of sherry. “That was the agreement.”
“The agreement also entailed his remaining in exile.”
“What agreement?” Draco asked, stunned.
“Stay out of this,” Lucius said, at the same moment that Cho hissed, “Shut up!”
Draco clenched his jaw.
“The moment he set foot on British soil, that agreement was null and void,” Cho continued, turning back to Lucius. She looked surprisingly strong with her feet planted on the Turkish rug and her dark hair flowing past her shoulders – almost like one of those warrior-girls in Chinese movies, Draco thought. She glanced at him, as if she had heard that thought.
“If the agreement is null and void, I owe you nothing,” Lucius retorted. “You and your colleagues at the Ministry have lost control of the situation. I have no choice but to proceed on my own.”
“This is ridiculous! You only stay out of Azkaban because of this agreement. You need our cooperation far more than we need yours.”
“I beg to differ,” Lucius replied. Draco couldn't help but envy his calm demeanor. “Without my cooperation, you will have a war on your hands. I am the only one who can keep the rebel movement from becoming a true threat.”
“Like you did so very well in Durham ?”
“The situation was under control until your pathetic little unit arrived. If the Ministry believes it can handle this threat on its own, by all means–” He made a sweeping gesture with one hand. “–go right ahead. We'll remove the smothering spell from the Ministry complex and let you take your chances with an angry and betrayed work force, a suspicious populace–”
“This bickering is pointless,” Cho said, cutting him off with a sharp tone. “I'm not here to dissolve our earlier agreement, but to resolve the current terms. I'm disappointed that you decided to undercut our authority by removing Draco from our custody, but–”
“And I am shocked, Ms. Chang, that you consider your personal vendetta against my son more important than the stability of our society.”
Cho's jaw tightened, but she didn't look at Draco. “It was not a vendetta, Mr. Malfoy. He committed a murder. He was never brought to justice.”
Draco's breath caught in his throat at the words.
Lucius shrugged. “Weasley's death was in the line of duty, as you well know. People die in a time of war. Should you be brought up on charges for the people you've killed?”
Cho made a sound like a laugh. “I will not discuss morality with you!”
“As you wish,” Lucius replied with a smug smile.
“As I was saying,” Cho continued, her voice assuming a steely edge, “We are disappointed by your blatant disregard for the law, but we are willing to overlook it. The smothering spell will remain in place. You will continue to provide us with information on the whereabouts of the rebel Death Eaters, and we will continue to arrest them.”
“Anything else?” The tone of his voice indicated he wasn't in the least intimidated by her demands.
“Yes. Don't interfere again.”
Lucius's face clouded for a moment, but before he could respond, a house-elf appeared out of thin air and whispered something in his ear. Lucius stood and offered a stiff smile. “If you'll excuse me for a moment.” With that, he left the room, leaving Draco alone with a fuming Cho.
It was silent for several long seconds before Cho turned to look at Draco.
“What did I do to you?” Draco asked before she could say anything. “This isn't just about Weasley. It's more than that.”
“The irony is that you don't even remember. I didn't realize that until a few days ago.”
“It's ridiculous to hate someone for something they don't remember doing.”
“Oh, but I have so many reasons to hate you,” Cho replied, looking almost wistful. “And I take a bit of pleasure in the fact that you will never understand why.”
Draco shook his head. “I almost feel sorry for you now.”
Cho crossed to him and pulled a wand from the inside of her robe. Draco took a step backwards, startled. He had no way of defending himself.
She turned the wand around and extended the handle towards him. It was his wand, he realized. Bewildered, he reached out and took it from her.
“This is the only favor I will ever do for you, Malfoy, and rest assured I'm not doing it for you entirely.” Cho cast a glance towards the door Lucius had left through. “I know your father is holding you here against your will. I want you to use this to escape and go back to New York . And for Harry's sake, stay there.”
Draco stared at his wand for a moment. “Why is it in Harry's best interest that I leave?”
“It simply is,” she replied, stepping back. “I know you care about him. I had my doubts before, but…” She looked away. “He's better off without you, especially now.”
“How would you know what's best for him?” Draco tightened his fingers around the handle of his wand.
“Oh, stop playing the fool.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Surely you realize what is happening here. Your father doesn't want you ; he wants Harry. He has set a trap and you are the bait.”
Draco's eyes narrowed. He had no particular reason to believe her. Of course, Lucius had been after Harry for quite a while. He had almost caught him in San Francisco , and might have done had Draco not intervened. Harry apparently had information that Lucius wanted.
Draco swallowed. He needed time to think about this. “How is Harry?”
“He's been hiding from the press for the last few days, after the story of your arrest and dramatic escape hit the papers, along with all the sordid details of your affair with Harry, then your betrayal of him. It's the biggest story of the year, naturally, so I wouldn't show my face in public if I were you.” She smirked, and Draco wondered if she had been responsible for that particular leak.
The thought that he'd caused Harry so much pain made his stomach churn, though. “Where is he? Is he safe?”
Cho sniffed. “I've no idea. Hermione knows where he is, but she won't tell me.”
“I'm not surprised. She's not particularly fond of you.”
“That's rich, coming from the man who murdered her husband.”
Draco felt himself pale at the words. He hadn't thought about Hermione, about what she must think of him now.
Cho's smile was smug. She wrapped her cloak about her body and turned to leave. “Tell your father I'll contact him later this week. I can't wait any longer.” With that, she swept out of the room, leaving a cloud of cheap perfume in her wake.
Draco sat at the table, waiting for Lucius to return. A glass of sherry appeared and he sniffed at it, and then cast a quick detection spell on it to see if he was being drugged again. The glass sparkled – it was clear. He sighed, immensely relieved to have his wand back. It was going to make all the difference. And despite Cho's dire warning, he had no intention of leaving. He tucked his wand into the sleeve of his shirt just as the door opened again.
Lucius strode to the table and sat. “Ms. Chang declined to stay for dinner?”
Draco snorted in response.
“Why does she dislike you so?” Lucius's tone suggested he knew the answer to the question.
“I spurned her advances back in school,” Draco lied. “She's never forgiven me.”
“I thought perhaps it was an old Quidditch rivalry.”
Draco frowned. His father was being unusually cordial this evening. “You aren't planning to drug me again, are you?”
Lucius laughed. “Don't be ridiculous, Draco.”
Draco stared at the glass in his hand, tilting it to examine the brick-red color of the liquid, the way it clung to the sides. He tilted it up again and saw his own reflection in the glass, distorted and strange. “Why am I here?”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “Where else would you be?”
Draco looked up. “And for that matter, why did you come for me? How did you know where I was? Why was I being protected in the first place?”
Bowls of soup appeared before them, but Draco didn't break his father's gaze.
Lucius picked up his soup spoon. “Your cousin Nymphadora was kind enough to send an owl to your colleagues at the FBI office to let them know where you were. Your assistant contacted me to relay the information. I assumed you would appreciate my assistance.”
“Grizabella contacted you?”
Lucius smiled. “Her uncle is Adolfus York, you know.”
Draco hadn't known. York was an old school chum of his father's, and was probably a Death Eater. Manny had done the background check on Grizabella and said she'd come up clean. Perhaps she had been spying on them all along for Lucius.
Not that it mattered now. Draco stared into his soup. “Am I a prisoner here? If I wanted to leave, could I?”
“Why would you want to leave? You are safe here.”
“If I'm untouchable, aren't I safe out there?”
Lucius's sigh revealed a hint of frustration. “Your face and ridiculously detailed accounts of your recent activities fill the papers. You are, unfortunately, the subject of prurient gossip everywhere. Moreover, you are regarded as an escaped and dangerous criminal. I would think you would prefer discretion at the moment, lest some young Auror with delusions of grandeur decides to take matters into his own hands.”
Draco pursed his lips. His father had a point, unwilling as Draco was to concede it. “I need to know what you want from me. If you really expect me to work with you, I must know everything that has happened, everything that you know.”
Lucius didn't look up. He sipped his soup as if he hadn't heard.
Draco stared at him for thirty seconds, willing him to look up. He didn't. “Did you hear me? I need to know who the rebels are, and what they are rebelling against! Why did you have an agreement with the Ministry? Who is responsible for the smothering spell? What happened to Voldemort? How was Harry involved?”
Lucius stilled, his jaw tensing, but he said nothing.
Draco picked up his soup bowl and flung it across the room. It shattered against the wall, splattering tepid liquid everywhere. “Tell me!” he shouted, rising to his feet. “Or I will leave and take my chances with the press and the Aurors.”
“You won't get far without a wand,” Lucius retorted.
Draco let the wand drop from his sleeve into his hand and pointed it at his father. “Not a problem.”
Lucius's eyes widened. He placed his spoon next to the bowl and sat back in his chair, regarding Draco anew. “If you truly wish to leave, I won't stop you. But we want the same thing, son. We want to know what happened three years ago in the dungeon below this very room. We both want to know what happened to Voldemort. And we both know Harry Potter is the key to finding out the truth.”
“Here?” Draco kept his wand focused on Lucius as he looked at the floor beneath him. “It happened here?”
Lucius sighed, and then pushed away from the table. Draco's hand tightened on his wand, but Lucius ignored it. He stood and walked to the door Cho had disappeared through.
Draco kept his wand at the ready and followed Lucius into the parlor, down another flight of stairs into a room he'd yet to visit, and across the room to what looked like a blank wall. Lucius whispered a word and the wall melted away, revealing another staircase heading down into darkness.
Lucius waved his hand and torches lit the passageway, revealing a corridor that appeared disused and crumbling – the stuff of Muggle horror films. The door sealed itself behind them after they passed through it, and Draco began to question his own sanity at following his father down into the darkness.
They descended perhaps 100 meters before a large room opened up before them. It was indeed a dungeon, almost in the medieval sense, with soot-blackened ceilings and niches in the walls that may once have held chains. The center of the floor was covered with a series of large scorch marks.
Draco wanted it to look familiar, even tried to convince himself that he'd seen it before, but there was nothing – no feeling of déjà vu, no sense of familiarity at all.
“You have indeed been here before,” Lucius said, his voice low and gravelly, as if the very darkness of the chamber had affected it. “Three years ago.”
Draco swallowed. “I don't remember.”
“And that is most unfortunate.”
Draco turned to look at him, still gripping his wand tightly. “I assume you had something to do with Harry's memory loss, and mine.”
Lucius shook his head. “Would that I had. I can answer your questions here. The Ministry has not been able to enter this chamber.”
Draco tried not to let his surprise show – the castle was under surveillance? He ought to have suspected as much. Now that he had his wand, he'd have to check his room.
“Four years ago, the war was taking a toll on us all,” Lucius began. “Both sides were evenly matched, and it began to seem little progress was being made. Worse, the Dark Lord…” He paused, almost as if speaking the words was difficult. “The Dark Lord began to grow weak, for reasons none of us could explain. No trace of a curse could be found, and nothing could be done.
“This weakness was not limited to his physical being, however – it became clear that it was affecting his mind as well. He remained as magically powerful as before, but he was unbalanced. He took risks. He made bizarre demands of his followers.”
Hadn't he always? Draco thought. He shifted his weight and was surprised how that small sound echoed through the chamber. Lucius looked up as if startled, and fixed Draco with his gaze.
“You knew all of this once. Do you remember any of it at all?”
Draco shook his head.
“The Dark Lord became obsessed with finding a solution to his physical deterioration. This task was assigned to me and a small number of others – Snape, Avery, Driftwood – men the Dark Lord regarded as experts in Dark magic, if not men he trusted.
“We could find nothing, and the more we searched for a cure, the more it became clear to us that none existed. The Dark Lord began to behave more erratically. The attacks he planned and carried out were indiscriminate terrorism and little more. He killed thousands, even his own supporters, without a thought as to the consequences. The situation spiraled into madness. He was beginning to endanger the cause.”
“And that is why you began to plot against him,” Draco whispered. The pieces of information he had learned were falling into place, forming a twisted landscape.
Lucius looked away. “In a manner of speaking, yes. At first we thought we could do it ourselves, contain him somehow. For the sake of our cause, we had to act. We would have a new leader, one who could benefit from the Dark Lord's remaining power and continue in his place, changing the tide of the war and ensuring a victory.”
“You?” Draco knew his tone was flippant, but he didn't care.
Lucius nodded. “I was the natural choice. The others agreed, and we began to devise a plan.”
“But you couldn't do it alone. You had to turn to the Ministry.”
“That was Severus's idea. There were people within the Ministry who were sympathetic with our ideals, if not our methods. I approached one of my contacts, and within a week, we were collaborating to bring Voldemort down.”
Draco exhaled. He had never thought it possible that his father would betray the Dark Lord, despite the mounting evidence suggesting it. It was nearly too much to comprehend. “How did you keep it secret?”
“We couldn't. Voldemort soon became aware that there was a plot against him, and we all had to back away, deny our involvement. But the damage had been done. None of us could be involved. We agreed to provide our allies at the Ministry with intelligence, and they agreed they would devise a plan to capture and contain Voldemort.”
“Is that where Harry came in?”
“Against my wishes, of course – but the Ministry and Severus were convinced he was the only one who could complete the task. I feared we had lost control of the situation, that the Dark Lord would be destroyed and our fight along with him. So I insisted that a representative from our side be part of Potter's team. He refused everyone we suggested, and then he made a strange request of his own.” Lucius turned back to look at Draco.
Draco swallowed. “He requested me?”
“You, whom we considered all but a traitor, living in self-imposed exile. But it was our only chance to maintain control. I spent a month searching for you, and I learned that you had done rather well for yourself in New York . Your services came highly recommended from some prominent people, in fact.”
Draco allowed himself a smug smile.
“You were reluctant, but you named your price: a sizeable sum of money, and a promise never to contact you again.”
Draco frowned. He didn't remember a sudden increase in his bank account. Apparently his father hadn't met the terms of their agreement.
“I had no idea if you could be trusted, but I clung to the fact that you hated Potter and Weasley. I assumed your allegiance would remain with your blood.” Lucius paused, as if tot let the jibe sink in. “I had little contact with you during that time, but you eventually contacted me to tell me it was time, and that a plan was in place to capture and incapacitate the Dark Lord. Everything was set in motion.”
“How did you manage to keep this a secret from Voldemort? I thought it was impossible to lie to him.”
“By that point, he lived in a constant state of paranoia, but fortunately he had lost some of his ability as a Legilimens. He suspected nothing until it was too late.”
There was a long silence, during which Draco could hear his own heart beating. “So what happened?”
Lucius stared at Draco. “I don't know. Four people went into that room. Only two emerged afterwards – and neither of them had any memory of what had happened during the previous weeks.”
Draco swallowed. “And Voldemort?”
“There was no trace of him. We have no idea if he escaped, or if he was destroyed.”
“And Weasley was dead,” Draco said, hearing his voice wavder a bit. “By my wand.”
“I assumed Potter and Weasley had betrayed you and you attempted to stop them.”
Draco shuddered. Was that what had happened? Had he killed Weasley in self-defense, or in anger at being betrayed?
“There were those in the Ministry who wanted you charged with Weasley's murder. I took you back to New York before they could imprison you. No one knew what had happened, and efforts to recover Potter's memory failed. We reached an agreement that none of us would reveal what we knew publicly, that we would endeavor to keep it a secret.” Lucius bowed his head, as if overcome by the memory. “I told the remaining faithful that the Dark Lord had retreated to a secret location to rebuild his strength, and would return to finish what he had started – leaving me in command, of course. He only required our patience and faith to the cause. The war was effectively over.”
“And the smothering spell at the Ministry was part of that?”
“Some became curious about what had happened, including Potter. They needed to be protected from themselves. If anyone learned what we had done, there would have been chaos.” He turned back to Draco. “All was well until a year ago. Some of our fold began to suspect there had been a conspiracy, that a group of us had cooperated with the Ministry and were responsible for the Dark Lord's sudden disappearance. A few began to suggest that I – and others – had abandoned the cause. Rumors surfaced that Voldemort was about to return, and that he would punish those who had betrayed him.”
“And that is why you came searching for me. You wanted to find out what had happened.”
Lucius's face was impassive. “You want to know as well, Draco. I can sense it, hovering at the edge of your thoughts. You need to know what happened.” Draco swallowed, trying to break his father's gaze. “And you also know that Potter is the key to the truth. We both want the same thing. We can help each other.”
Draco stared back at him, uncertain. He and Harry desperately wanted to know what had happened three years ago, but what if it revealed secrets that should remain in shadow? The idea of cooperating with Lucius to solve this mystery was unnerving, to say the least.
And what if Voldemort was out there somewhere, gaining strength, waiting to strike? Surely he would seek to destroy Harry. If they didn't learn the truth, how would they be able to defend themselves?
Draco took a deep breath. “I won't endanger Harry. You must stay out of this.”
“I made that mistake three years ago,” Lucius replied, eyes hard. “I won't be fooled again.”
Draco let his eyes narrow, but did not reply. Perhaps Cho had been right about his father's intentions. Draco needed to keep control of the situation, and that meant keeping Harry as far away from Lucius as possible.
“I want you to come to a meeting with me tonight,” Lucius said at last. “I have a task for you.”
Draco nodded. It was an opportunity. He needed to get a message to Harry, somehow.
“I will be watching you, Draco.” Lucius's eyes narrowed. “I expect you to cooperate completely.”
Draco allowed himself a tight-lipped smirk. “As you said, we want the same thing.”
Lucius gestured toward the stairwell, and Draco walked ahead of him into the darkness.
:: :: :: :: ::
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