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Chapter 3: |Chapter 1| A Difficult Decision
*A/N* - Please be aware that this chapter does contain strong language. (& Please leave a review!) ...Now on with the 1st actual chapter of the story!
It was supposed to have been just another ordinary evening at The Burrow. Arthur Weasley would come home from work late, again, and sit down to have another quiet meal with his wife. Meals were always quiet nowadays because he and Molly were the only two there to enjoy them anymore...
Charlie had decided to move closer to home to help the support the Order, but he wasn’t staying with them. He was staying with Bill & Fleur.
Percy had is own place in London. He wanted to be closer to work at the Ministry, which Molly and Arthur were perfectly fine with. They had never fully made amends with their 3rd son after he had chose to walk out on them nearly 3 and ½ years ago. Arthur saw Percy at work and they were usually civil to one another for the sake of professionalism. Percy only usually ever asked his father about work the Order, he never once asked about his mother or any of his family members were doing. A fact that Arthur had not overlooked.
Fred & George were also in London running their own rather successful Joke Shop. They too were in the order now. The twins were helping them to develop new weapons and spells that they could use to fight the Death Eaters with. If Voldemort could invent his own spells and curses, then why couldn’t they?
Molly and Arthur had both agreed that Ginny ought to finish her last year of school. And so, despite her best efforts to get out of going back, she had gotten on the train last week to go to Hogwarts for her seventh year of Hogwarts.
As for Ron, well, who knew where he was at anymore. It was hard to tell what he and Harry and Hermione were doing. They hardly ever came home these days. And when they did, it was only ever for a couple of days, here and there. This had been going on ever since Dumbledore had died 2 years ago, and they would never tell where they were going, or what they were doing. So Molly and Arthur had both stopped trying to keep track of the three of them, for Arthur it was easy not to think about Harry, Ron and Hermione with everything going on at work. But he knew that Molly did nothing but sit at home each day and wonder where their youngest son was, when he was coming home, or even if he was still alive.
So now the house that used to be so full of life and activity, was empty almost every day. All except for one night out of the week when the entire Order of the Phoenix would come together for another pointless meeting. Those nights were never fun, they were strictly business… and these days, business meant more and more bad news.
So far, both the Order and the Ministry were losing in the war against Voldemort, and everybody knew it. It always seemed that somehow, someway or another, the Dark Lord was always one step ahead of them. The Order’s members were dwindling down and they really couldn’t recruit too many more people, because they could never be entirely sure if the person was trustworthy or not. It was the same story in the Ministry as well. Rufus Scrimgeour was slowly losing the support of the people because the people didn’t trust each other anymore neither. Good help was getting so hard to come by now because no one wanted to work at the Ministry. Everybody knows that Voldemort is desperately trying to gain control over it and no one wants to be there when he does. This, in turn, meant that Arthur’s work days were progressively growing longer and longer. He was spending more time at work than he was at home and when he was home, he was constantly thinking about work. Therefore he looked forwards to coming home each evening and relaxing with his wife after a nice hot meal before turning in for the night… Tonight however, things were going to be different for a change. Their house was about to become full again, they just didn’t know it yet…
Arthur knew that something was off as soon as he had apparated onto the front lawn. The atmosphere just didn’t feel right. He took in his surroundings. The first thing out of place he noticed was that there was something white sitting on the first porch step. He cautiously crept toward it, wand at the ready. Once he was close enough to examine the object, he realized that it was just an envelope. He breathed a sigh of relief, chuckling to himself for getting so worked up over something as small as an envelope. I guess one can never be too cautious, he thought to himself. He picked the envelope up and turned it over. It was addressed to him! The front of it said: Read this alone.
He scanned the area to make sure no one was watching him and then quickly tore open the envelope and began reading the letter. It was signed by the last person he ever would have expected to be writing to him; Lucius Malfoy. It read:
Please keep reading this! Do not throw this letter out, I beg of you! I know that I have absolutely no right to ask you for anything. And I know that you have every right to say no. but please, just hear me out! I am sorry about all of this, buy my circumstances have left me with no other choice but to turn to you for help.
I know this may sound odd, especially coming from me, but Severus was right; you are the only person I can trust with this! I need someone to help me save my son! I only just got out of Azkaban a week ago and already Voldemort has decided to punish me by taking away the only two things that have ever mattered to me: my wife and my son. Tonight, he nearly succeeded with that goal, for now Narcissa is dead! She died tonight while trying to save Draco. Voldemort killed her without even thinking twice about it!
For the past 2 years, while I have been locked away, He’s been using my son as his own personal plaything and tonight, it nearly killed him... Voldemort thinks that he’s succeeded though because he left Draco for dead, right along with Narcissa, and then ordered me to deal with cleaning up the bodies. I just can’t take this anymore! I know it’s only a matter of time before he kills me next! Once he gets board with tormenting me, he’ll do away with me, I’m sure. And quite frankly, I rightly don’t give a shit at this point! I see no point in living anymore if I can’t have Narcissa by my side.
However, with Draco, it's a different story. He cannot survive in this world alone, not yet. That’s why I need someone to look after him. Someone who can take care of him and teach him right from wrong. Someone who can give him the love and attention that I never could. Someone like you, Arthur! As of right now, Voldemort has no idea that Draco is alive. Even I thought he was dead at first! Severus was the one who discovered that Draco still had a pulse, so I know that Draco is hurt, I just don’t know how bad. We couldn’t do anything for him because we had to get him out of there before Voldemort came back and realized he was still alive. However I do have a private Healer who can help save him. Her name is Saleena Blackwell and she’s the best there is!
If you will agree to take care of my son, I have left you one of her business cards to contact her with. She is rather expensive however, which is why I have left you with 10,000 Galleons. I would give you more, but that is all the money I have left to my name right now. As I’m sure you already know, once I was convicted, Gringotts put a freeze on my account. I cannot access my money until the Minister allows it. You and I both know however that that will never happen, so long as I am alive, because I wasn’t let out of Azkaban, I escaped! Anyhow, should you choose to take Draco in, then a sack of coins will appear on you porch tonight at midnight. And should you chose not to help him, and I understand that you have every right to do just that, then the money will stay here with me and Severus will come by to pick Draco up at midnight. I have no idea where we will go from there though, which is why I am hoping that you will be able to set aside out differences, not for mine own, but for Draco’s sake.
Either way, just please let Draco know that I am sorry for everything and that I loved him very much. I wish I could have had a chance to explain everything to him, but sometimes we don’t always get what we want. Again, I apologize for springing this on you like this, but I really have no other choice. The Order are the only ones who can offer Draco the protection that he so desperately needs right now. I anyone else in the Ministry got ahold of him, he would be thrown into Azkaban. If that were to happen, then he would surely die there, for he is not strong enough right now to withstand much more. Please Aurthur, please find it in your heart to help him. Please do not accuse him for the sins that I have committed against you. It is not Draco’s fault. None of this is! He is innocent. Just please… please help him Arthur.
Signed, Lucius Malfoy
Arthur scanned the note several times, looking for signals that would prove that this was some kind of joke. There were none. And as if to confirm that everything said in this note was true, he heard a wheezing noise coming from the porch swing. He looked up and sure enough, there lay Draco Malfoy. The strangest thing is that Lucius isn’t just asking me to take Draco in, he’s practically begging me to. And it isn’t like Lucius Malfoy to beg for anything! Is he really that desperate? Arthur pondered Lucius’ letter again for a moment. He must be out of his mind for just leaving Draco here like this! What would he do if I said no and left Draco out here?
From up on the porch, Draco groaned and stirred in his sleep. Arthur walked up onto the porch and stared down at Draco. On the outside, he looked like the same Draco he had seen on platform 9 and 3 quarters when Harry and Ron were in school. But Arthur knew that this boy was suffering on the inside. Because that was the thing though with magical injuries, they left barley any trace of pain or injury on a person from the outside view. Draco started coughing and gagging. He was struggling to catch his breath. He lost his balance and began rolling of the porch swing, but Arthur caught him and gently lowered him onto the floor. He noticed how oddly light Draco was and, upon taking a second look at him, he seen that the boy was incredibly thin as well. Arthur knew right then and there that not taking Draco in was not an option. He sighed. What if this were my son, he thought. Would I be desperate enough to save him to trust his care with someone else - someone like Lucius Malfoy?’ The mere thought of that made him shudder, but knew in his heart that he would do just that. So long as it was what was necessary. One thing’s for sure; he’ll die if I leave him out here for too much longer.
The front door opened and closed. Molly stepped out on the porch. “Arthur?” He didn’t look up at her. She walked towards him. “The clock showed that you got home about 5 minutes ago. What have you been doing out here?” She leaned down and placed a hand on Arthur’s shoulder. He still didn’t look at her so she instead looked at the boy laying on the porch floor. She recognized him at once. “Arthur!” she exclaimed, “is that who I think it is?”
“Yes. It’s Draco Malfoy,” he answered shortly.
“What is he doing here?” she snarled.
“Lucius wants us to take care if him.”
“I’ll bet he does!” Molly raged. “What’s wrong with him? Why can‘t he take care of himself?”
“Voldemort got ahold of him.”
“Enough said,” she nodded. “How do you know all of this? Did Lucius approach you at work?”
“No,” he answered. “Draco was already here when I came home. Lucius left me a note. Here,” he handed Molly the note so that she could read it.
“Oh, so now he decides to step-up and be a parent for once in his life!” she exclaimed. “I don’t like this Arthur. I don’t like this one bit!”
Arthur shrugged. “Molly, we should at least bring him in and contact his Healer,” he said. “He need help from a professional, wouldn’t you agree?” But Molly didn’t answer. “Look, Lucius even left us with a card to contact her.” He held out the contact card for Saleena Blackwell. Molly just glared at it.
“Since when do we abide by what Lucius Malfoy wants?” she spat.
“Molly, are you kidding me?” Arthur asked. He couldn’t believe she was reacting like this. “You’re not seriously asking me that question! Don’t you remember how Dumbledore wanted Draco to be safe, more than anything? Even He extended the Order’s protection to Draco on the very night he- well, you know. That night. This was Dumbledore’s idea before it was Lucius Malfoy’s! We have to respect Dumbledore’s wishes. His last ones at that.”
“Yes I remember that. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it any! Do you honestly think that I want that thing,” she pointed a hand at Draco, “in my house after all of the damage he has caused already? The Order can protect him all they want to, but I will be damned if I allow a Malfoy to dwell under this roof! He can find someplace else to stay!” Molly stopped raging to catch her breath.
“Are you through now?” Arthur asked. She merely glared at him. “Right. Well Molly, dear, we very well cant just leave him out here to die, now can we? Just look at him! We need to take him in and contact his Healer, and soon. Molly, he’s just a boy! Imagine if this were one of our boys!”
“I would never let anything like this happen to one of my boys!” she said defensively.
Arthur sighed. He needed a way to make his wife see where he was coming from on this. He decided to try a new approach. “Molly, if we agree to take Draco in, the letter says that Lucius will send us 10.000 Galleons to take care of him.” It didn’t work.
“I don’t want Lucius Malfoy’s money!” she shrieked. “He can take his money and shove it up his -”
“- Alright Molly, I get it!” he yelled, cutting her off sharply. “Look, I don’t like the thought of this any more than you do. But we need this right now. We have given everything we have to keep the Order stable and running. Our funding is running out, even with all of the extra hours I’ve been pulling at work. It’s just not enough! But Lucius has given us enough to take care of Draco and then some! Why can’t you just let go of his past and give the boy another chance?”
“You’re not seriously being conned into one of Lucius’ bribes, are you Arthur?” Molly shook her head disbelievingly. “This is what he does to people! This is how he gets his way all of the time,” she yelled. “Why can’t you see that he is just playing with you to get what he wants? I never thought I’d live to see the day when my husband would be bought by Lucius Malfoy, of all people!”
“I am not being bought, Molly!” he yelled back. “I don’t give a damn about Lucius Malfoy or his filthy money! I’ll tell him where he can shove it, if that’s what you want! This isn’t about Lucius, Molly. It’s about Draco for crying out loud! I know it would never happen this way, but what if this were our son, and what if Lucius was our last option? What would you do?”
“Well, I guess I would do whatever was necessary to save my baby, but Arthur, this is way diff-”
“It is not any different,” he said calmly now. “Surprising as it is, Lucius has decided to cast aside our differences and be a real father for a change. Now, if you ask me, I’d say that he made the wisest decision tonight, bringing Draco here. Did you know that Voldemort killed his mother and left him for dead tonight? He tried to burn Draco alive, Molly! And now he has no idea that Draco is still alive! If we allow him to stay here, he would have to follow our rules. We could fix him up, set him straight. You know, teach him what it’s like to go without and how it feels to actually work for something you really want.”
“You can’t fix the world Arthur!”
“No, but if we straighten Draco Malfoy up, it will certainly be doing the world a favor! We don’t need another Lucious Malfoy clone running around.”
Molly chuckled. “That’s for sure!”
At that moment, Draco began gagging again and gasping for air. He coughed up a small amount of blood and Molly gasped in surprise. Arthur started patting Draco on the back to try to help. “I think he’s been poisoned." He placed his hand on Draco's forehead. "He's burning up, Molls!"
Molly was staring at Draco in shock. He was, after all, the same age as Ron which was way too young to be dealing with things like this in her opinion. What evil has Draco actually caused? None that she could think of. The only sin she could accuse him of was running around with the Death Eaters. But then again, when your father was one and your mother went along with whatever, did you actually have a choice? Maybe he just did what was expected of him, Molly thought. After all, it really is all about how you’re raised and brought up. Parents need to love and nurture their children so that they’ll grow up and turn into respectable adults. They need guidance in order to keep a good head on their shoulders. The need to be encouraged and taught right from wrong. All things in which I am certain that Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy failed to teach this poor boy! He really is just a victim of bad parenting, if you ask me! And then she finally understood where her husband had been coming from all this time. Draco was innocent. Dumbledore knew it, Arthur knew it, even she knew it, although she was reluctant to admit it.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but-” she said, shaking her head. “But, I think we need to take Draco inside and help him Arthur. You’re right; he needs us right now and it would be dreadful of us to just leave him out here to die. This boy is innocent. I’ve searched and I can find nothing to accuse him of. After all, he can’t help who his parents are.”
Arthur smiled warmly at his wife. “Thank you, Molly. You know we’re doing the right thing.”
“I know,” she said smiling back. “Because you always know what’s right Arthur. You tend to only find the good in people and you believe in giving anyone a second chance. You are the most kind and forgiving person I know, Arthur Weasley, and that is why I love you! It‘s one of the many reasons I married you.”
“Now there’s the Molly I know and love,” he joked, hugging his wife. “It’s funny how the tiniest things in a war can threaten to tear people apart. Why, just look at how terribly we were fighting a moment ago! And over something so trivial at that! All we have to do is lay our differences aside and work together for the greater good. Is that not what Dumbledore always tried to tell us? Wasting our breath on silly prejudices will get us nowhere. ’The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ they always say. And I highly doubt that Draco is friends with Voldemort after tonight.”
“In a weird way, what you just said actually makes perfect sense dear!” Molly and Arthur laughed together. “Oh no Arthur,” she exclaimed. “I’ve just had another thought.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that dear?”
“How are we going to break this to the kids?”
“Well, they aren’t children anymore Molls. And besides,” he answered. “The only one we’ll really have to worry about is Ginny when she comes home for break. Ron, Harry and Hermione are hardly ever here and they won’t tell us where they’ve been going or what they’ve been doing. They always opt to act in secrecy so I don’t see how they should be given much a say in anything we so choose to do in our own home.”
“Well yes and no. I mean, this is still Ron and Harry’s home too.”
“Technically speaking, Harry has his own place to go to if he doesn’t like the way we run things here.”
“Arthur, you know how he feels about going there,” she said in Harry’s defense. “He hasn’t fully dealt with loosing Sirius yet! You can’t possibly ask him to go live in that place!”
“You know I wouldn’t do that to Harry dear,” he reassured her. “I was just saying that we have the right to do as we please now. This is our home and, even though they are all technically adults now, they are still the children and we are still the parents.” Molly nodded in agreement. “Now, lets get him inside and get him settled in, shall we? I‘ll take him in and lay him on the sofa. In the meantime, can you summon his Healer?” He handed her the contact card. “Here’s her card.” Molly nodded, taking the card out of Arthur’s hand.
Draco winced and groaned again as Arthur carried him inside and laid him on the couch. Molly did as she was asked and summoned the Healer. Then she went inside to join her husband in the living room. Together, they waited in silence…