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Darkness Falls by emmieB

Format: Short story
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 13,672
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence,

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark, Angst
Characters: Harry, Snape, Moody, Charlie, Molly, Neville, Draco, Fred/George, Ginny
Pairings: Draco/Ginny

First Published: 04/16/2005
Last Chapter: 04/27/2006
Last Updated: 04/27/2006

Summary:
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Hogwarts is shrouded in darkness; romance has its uses, strange liasons are formed. But, who's really on your side - and what's that lurking around the next dark corner? Insanity ensues.




Chapter 1: Coming Together.
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Coming Together



Chapter One






Hogwarts stood still, a dark hollow shell of its former self.

It stood lonely in a barren landscape, a dark bleak landscape, where carrion birds fly overhead, screeching their soulless cries. Hogwarts now stood haunted, haunted and alone. A mere memory of days gone by.

Those former innocent days, of long ago; had been passed and erased from memory.

Its shadowed halls were entrenched in a dark, dreadful, silence and not the smallest of whispers could be heard. The winding corridors and classrooms stood empty and lifeless; laughter no longer reigned in these hallowed halls.

Suddenly, someone appears out of the shadows. Clad in darkness, they are a mere shadow of their former self. Oh, what a wretched ghost was he; cowered by the immense atmosphere of horror that echoed all around him.

He walks quickly and purposely with his head hung down and his eyes unfocused. As he passes by the great hall, he shudders involuntary as the new school song resounded out, terrible in its lifelessness

"He who must be obeyed! He who rules. In his darkness! We shall prevail!"
He who must be obeyed! He who rules. In his darkness! We shall prevail!"
"He who must be obeyed! He who rules. In his darkness! We shall prevail!"

The young man quickens his pace. He tries to outrun the ghastliness of the awful song, which fills him with dread as he passes.

Hogwarts had become his very worst nightmare!

As the song comes to an abrupt halt, the young man merges into the shadows and waits for the students to appear.

One by one they emerged from the great hall. Each and every one of them wears a mask of woe. One by one they trudge, silently and tentatively, to their sleeping quarters. They wear the look of the walking dead.

The young man suppresses another shudder and tries to remember the better times, the golden times, when fear was unknown. A single tear falls down his face to freeze upon his cheek.

And he waits, he waits in silence, he waits in fear, he waits without hope in his heart....


She walks swiftly and silently down the twisting corridors. She mustn't be late! Her heart pounds harder with every pace. The dark, dreary, dungeons that surround her groan out in torment. Holding muffled memories of ancient screams, which echo through the walls. This is no place to loiter in, she thinks distantly.

She quickens her pace, almost to a run and tries to blank her mind from her dismal, bleak, memories. These halls hold nothing but torture now, no one dares to dream of hope anymore.

She hears the soft footfalls of students returning to their quarters and she knows they will have no sweet dreams tonight. In fact no one dares to dream anymore. Dreams dreamt here inevitably turn into nightmares.

She reaches the statue, the newly erected statue. A dark, brooding, statue which was made of the blackest lustre. Its eyes were made of darkest stone, which seemed to follow her as she scuttled swiftly past. Quickly, she ducks behind the statue; her eyes wide and searching.


She startles him and his heart jumps into his mouth. He stumbles backwards. But on seeing her soft brown eyes, he breaths out a soft sigh of relief, and takes a step forward.

She sees that she has startled him.

Watching him step backwards, she can see his eyes widen in momentary terror. She takes a small step forward and lets him see her eyes. His fear rapidly dwindles and he takes a step towards her. She reaches out her hands to him and he takes them in his.
Drawing closer together, they share a brief, chaste, kiss.

Pulling away from each other slowly, a look of longing lingers in their eyes.

She opens her mouth to speak. "He will meet with you" she tells him in a hushed whisper, holding his eyes to hers.

A look of relief appears on his face and a feeling of hope springs up inside of him. "Thank God" he whispers hoarsely, his voice contorted with raw emotion.

The desperate nuance of his voice makes her flinch a little. She blinks against his intensity, her eyes not daring to look into his face. That fine face that is usually a mask of cool contemplation is now a face full of unrestrained emotion. Hope, distrust, and fear flicker across dulled silver eyes.

He sees her eyes searching his face intensely and he struggle's to put the mask back on his face. Taking his hands away from her comforting grip, he speaks again. "Will they trust me...is there a chance?" he asks softly.

She lets her gaze fall away from him, exhaling softly. "Let's go now," she tells him with a sudden and unexpected authority. She reaches for his hand and he lets his hand be taken. Gently squeezing his hand, she begins to lead him away. There is always chance," she whispers to him, before falling into necessary silence.

"That is my hope" he murmurs softly to himself.

Moving past the twisted statue; they hear the last footsteps of students echo into the concealing darkness. They are left in an eerie silence.

The girl cocks her head a little to one side, as if straining to hear something, but not a sound can be heard.

Hogwarts stands silent.

She shakes her head roughly, as if trying to dismiss her wretched feelings. This slightest of movement sends her fine red hair billowing out behind her.

The boy lets out the smallest of gasps, as the rich honeydew perfume from her hair reaches his nostrils.

The girl turns to face him and places her finger to her lips into a shush sign; her eyes flashing him a warning as she does so. Leading him forwards into the shadowed hallways, her shoulders, involuntary, shiver.

The heavy silence seems to stifle their every breath, as they slowly inch forward and a feeling of impending doom seems to settle on their, young, shoulders with every new turn they take.

The old, dusty, paintings on the walls slyly watch their every movement as if willing them to fail. But the pictures cannot speak anymore, for they have been silenced. Cobwebs cling in every corner and mould climbs the cold stone walls. The rancid stench of insanity, that surrounds them, strengthens with every new step forward they take.

Suddenly a shrill scream cuts through the air; shattering, the ominous silence that surrounds them. The scream is filled with pain and hopelessness.

The girl, instinctively, steps closer to the boy at her side and he touches her shoulder gently, soothingly kissing the top of her head. His soft kiss gives her the strength that she needs to carry on and, as they make their way forward again, the scream abruptly ends, leaving them enrapt in a deathly silence. A cold shudder makes its way down the boy's spine, leaving him defenceless, and the girl is silently weeping beside him.

As they make their way into the deepest dungeons, the young girl's thoughts turn to Hogwarts and how it used to be. Sweet memories of love and laughter hurt her very soul. How could a place that used to be so warm and inviting turn into deaths graveyard, she muses mournfully.

Suddenly, she pauses as they reach a heavy wooden door.

The boy turns to look at her with inquisitive eyes and she motions him forward. He steps towards her, following her towards the door. But instead of entering the old oak door, she turns swiftly to the left and suddenly disappears. Where is she? Is it a trap? the boy wonders franticly, feeling sheer terror surge through his bones.
He falls to his knees, in despair, trying hard to restrain himself from crying out loud...when he sees a pair of glistening eyes staring back at him through the looming darkness.

"This way!" her barely recognisable voice whispers to him.

He makes his way blindly forward and finds himself in a narrow crawl space. Fighting off feelings of intense claustrophobia, he follows the sound of her harsh breathing, coming from in front of him.

Stones dig into his hands and knees, cutting his tender flesh cruelly. Time down here seemed to last for an eternity and the boy finds himself touching the brink of insanity. Will it ever end? Will it ever end? echoes through his mind like a mantra. His hands, knees, and shin bones feel like they are being sliced to pieces and the bottom of his trousers are torn into tatters. The boy feels hot, salty, tears slowly trickle down his face and his breath comes out in harsh rasps. Will this never end, his frantic brain asks...when he sees a soft silver light glow gently in front of them.

"Nearly there now...Hold on!" the girl whispers breathlessly to him and with every inch forward, towards the beckoning light, hope flutters within his heart again. Soon the limited crawl space becomes illuminated and both can see an opening before them.

She falls out first, on to the deep, green, moist, grass. She lets the soft moonlight bathe her as she lays sprawled artlessly. "Oh, what delicious freedom," she whispers into the night.

He soon follows after her, falling face first on the dewy ground. They both lie there motionless and, taking in the sweet fresh air, they both wallow in their shared sense of freedom.
After a few precious moments the girl stands up. Her poor arms and legs are cut and torn. She absentmindedly dusts herself off and reaches down to the young man.

He takes her hand and pulls himself up.

The boy is also covered in cuts and bruises. He looks at her and nervously licks at his lips.

She smiles at him reassuringly and squeezes his hand tightly. "It will be alright now," she tells him sagely.

But he knows that she is lying to him, and to herself. He knows that this ordeal is just beginning. "What do we do now?" he asks her dejectedly.

"We Apparate!" she tells him almost laughingly.

They look each other intently in the eyes, trying to read each others thoughts. She is feeling happy to see her friends and family again....

And he is feeling apprehensive and fearful. The boy takes a quick gulp of air, letting the mask settle back on his fine features. Again, he tries to command himself. "Shall we go now then?" he asks her tentivly.

She nods her head 'yes' to him.

With their hands tightening their hold on each other, they both Apparate!


They both Apparate! Into a low lit room. The room is lit by the gentle, orange, glow of a homely fire. The room is quite shabby, but a homely, cosy, atmosphere surrounds it. The room is filled with various people of various ages.

"Ginny," a boy's voice cries out with joy. The voice comes from a tall, gangly, red-headed boy. He stands up and runs towards her with his arms extended.

Ginny lets go of the light-haired boy standing next to her and runs towards her brothers welcoming arms.

The boy stands still and his eyes flicker desperately around the room. He feels trapped and cornered and waves of severe panic wash over him...when his eyes rest on a dark-haired boy. Emerald green eyes stare back at him...and he can see the hatred glinting in them.

Suddenly, the dark-haired boy stands up and spits out, his words holding an underlining bitterness. "So you think you can help us, do you?"





Chapter 2: Misgivings
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Misgivings




Chapter Two






Emerald, green eyes stare back at him...and he can see the hatred glinting in them.



Suddenly, the dark-haired boy stands up and spits out his words, which held an underlining bitterness. "So, you think you can help us, do you?"



"Yes," a simple answer was for the best, he thought.



"How can we trust him?" inquired a red headed boy stood behind Harry, who Draco recognised as a Weasley.



"Slip him some Veritaserum, that's what we should do," rasped a jaded voice from within the shadows.



The cynical voice ignited a spark of recognition in Draco. An old memory of Hogwarts, casual insults and a blinding flash of light came back to him, but Draco pushed the memory aside. He needed to concentrate on the here and now, the next few hours would be crucial. Crucial to his plans, crucial to him being accepted...



"Why are you here, Malfoy?" the dark- haired boy questioned again, while shaking his head in denial at the man sat amongst the shadows. This time the boy's voice held steady, as he kept his dislike a bay.


"I'm..." Draco began, but faltered on hearing the unflattering squeak in his voice. Where had his poise gone? Where was his legendry bravado? His unmistaken belief in himself and in his family. Where had the old Draco Malfoy gone to...



"Well speak then ferret boy, we haven't got all day," demanded the Redheaded boy, stood behind Harry, breaking him from his thoughts. Was it Fred or George? his disconnected mind wondered aimlessly, rendering him incapable of any coherent or constructive thought.



His eyes flickered furtively around the room, deliberating over the vaguely, familiar hostile faces, searching the room for Ginny... his Ginny, his tower of strength. He looked to her for reassurance, for much needed encouragement, her approval being vital to him.



He found her...



...sat to his left, Ginny was still infolded in her brother's arms. Aha, the other twin, popped unbidden into his already cluttered mind. Two twins, their rather portly mother, but no sign of the Weasel! Where was the Weasel? Surely, he hadn't deserted Potter in his much-lauded hour of need or was he too, hidden in the shadows? Random thought after random though coursed through his brain, causing him consternation for his sanity.



Ginny's eyes found his. Warm brown eyes filled with love, compassion and anxiety. A secret smile appeared on her lips, a smile meant only for him. She nodded her head surreptitiously at him; her eyes urging him on, giving him the necessary strength that he needed to proceed.



As the minutes ticked by, the room's many eyes bored into him, pinning him to the spot. Aware of the inhabitant's thoughts, of the hatred that surrounded him, Draco gathered his courage to him and stated simply, "I'm here to lend my assistance, if you wish to accept it?"



"But how can we trust you...WHAT ARE YOUR TESTIMONIES BOY?" bellowed the voice from amid the shadows.



Draco flinched. His hands tightened in to fists at his sides. Oh, how he loathed that voice. The voice was so familiar to him, yet still so undecipherable.



Draco was soon put out of his miserable conjecturing, when the man finally stepped forward, out of the shadows. "Can you tell me why I should trust you boy?" he wheezed dangerously, as he made his way towards him. "The son of Voldemort's most loyal follower..."



Draco barely managed to stifle his gasp as the figure with grey, matted hair approached. The man with the excessively scarred face was instantly recognisable to him. That livid, blue eye, which rocketed madly within its socket, still managed to send a shiver of abject horror down Draco's spine. Mad-Eye Moody, he thought in disgust, as old, painful memories came flooding back to him.



Vivid memories of that old humiliation came suddenly upon him. I hate him still, Draco thought to himself, remembering not only the ferret incident, but also the way the false Moody had been on the side of the Dark Lord! He could admit to himself, just about, that this was not the same man, yet old memories did not die fast, and the fact that the false Moody had used him, Lucius Malfoy's son, as a mere pawn in that past drama, still made his blood boil. I should not of come here, he thought darkly as old rage coursed through his veins.



He stood still, fists clenched, his normally pale cheeks now flushed with burgeoning ire.



Harry, sensing the raised tension in the room, sprang forward and placed himself in front of Moody. "Alistor please," he spoke quickly and quietly, "Let me handle this. There is too much tension here already, let me continue from here...you do understand the importance of all this, don’t you?"



Moody glared at Harry with his one black, beady eye, while the other eerily roamed the room. His face showed much displeasure, but after a moments pause and with a loud harrumph, he at length conceded to Harry. Limping slowly over to the fireplace, he turned to face the room again. He fixed a baleful gaze on Draco and, propping himself against the wall, he continued to watch the proceedings suspiciously.



Harry turned to Draco, "Continue please," he demanded with a quiet authority.



Draco resisted another gulp, closed his eyes and swallowing his ire, he began. "I suppose you want to know where my loyalties lie, why I have come to offer my assistance. It is understandable that you all distrust me..."


At these words, Ginny couldn't help but let out a small exclamation! "I trust you Draco," she whispered with a supportive smile, while her mother sent her disapproving looks from across the room.



"Ginny," Molly scolded, her kind features now looking extremely fraught. "Don't interrupt the young man! Let him continue, time is short and we have many things to discuss..."



Ginny gave her mum an apologetic smile and mumbled a quick sorry, yet her eyes lingered on Draco, willing him to succeed.



Draco was annoyed at this interruption. Even though he knew Ginny was only doing her best to support him, the interruption had only thrown him off course. He felt exasperated and ready to burst. He needed to get his words out before he forgot them; he needed to make them understand. It was crucial to him, to his plans that he made them acknowledge what Hogwarts had become! He had to make them see what life was really like, for everybody, under Voldemort's rule at Hogwarts. Containing an exasperated sigh, he nodded at Ginny, giving her a thin-lipped smile and then addressing no one in particular, asked. "Shall I continue then?"



On Harry's curt nod, he resumed...getting straight to the point. "Hogwarts has changed beyond belief," he began, hoping his tone could match the horror. "It's a graveyard masquerading as a school. The children are taught only alliance to the Dark Lord, their lessons only consisting of the Dark Magic's, and learning how to become lethal assassins. The Dark Lord teaches a dark doctrine of hatred, fear and devotion...devotion to him. The students of Hogwarts are now only foot soldiers in his vastly, burgeoning army. Those who are weak die, as they are considered expendable!"



Draco paused for breath, letting the horror of his words sink into the pulsing conscious of the room.



"Now, I won't try to fool you by saying that I'm susceptible to the same law, of course being the son of Lucius brings...little advantages." Draco stopped again to rub his arid, constricting throat. How on earth would they react to this? he thought as he gulped once more. Merlin, he would have to be careful.... Dear God, how he needed a glass of water, just a sip! Rubbing his dry lips, he started speaking yet again, struggling to get the words out of his tight throat.



"Voldemort has an odd way of looking at advantages; his rewards can be rather distressing..."



Once more, he broke off, deteriorating into a mad, barking laugh. He bent over slightly, clutching at his now aching sides, as the madness of the laughter took over. His eyes stung, his throat burned and his stomach cramped in pain. Giggle after giggle hitched out of his tight throat and his shoulders shook violently. The other occupants of the room watched on in complete horror, as his uncontrollable hysteria showed them much more than his words ever could.





The Grandfather Clock in the corner ticked loudly as the minutes crawled by. The room stood embedded in a pregnant silence, only broken by the quiet giggles and gasps of a very, distressed boy. As the laughter hitched at last, to an undignified halt, not one member of that cosy room was unaffected.



Draco reigned in his hysteria and slowly re gathered his wits. Surely that had haven given them cause to think, he thought as he got himself back under control. Really, that little performance of his must have said more than a thousand words!



Straightening his back and shoulders, he faced the now mostly averted eyes of the room. "I need to find Severus," he announced.



"I'm sure you do," retorted Harry, his voice sounding curiously avoid of emotion.



"I don't believe you," squeaked out Neville nervously. "About Hogwarts and t -t -things and I just don't believe it..." His voice trailed off into the silence of the room.



Draco eyed Neville malevolently, wishing many nasty hexes his way, and the room seemed to consider...



Ginny's voice broke through the silence. "Well, would you believe me Neville? Would you believe me, if I told you what I saw with my eyes, what I heard with my ears..."



"O -O -Of course Ginny, but I..."



"Don't interrupt me Neville," Ginny snapped back at him, her eyes gleaming with irritation and she pushed herself out of her chair. "Well I can and will vouch for Draco; all that he has told you is true! And if any of you wish to disbelieve him, why don't you go back there and see and hear things for yourselves!"



Ginny feel back into her seat, her face white with anger. How could anyone doubt Draco after what had just happened? How could they? Stupid people with their old and stupid prejudices! Ginny felt hot tears of anger prickle at her eyes. Her shoulders shook with repressed rage and she really wanted just to scream aloud at the unfairness of it all! Resisting the urge to scream with all her might, she hugged her arms tightly around herself, bit hard down on her lip and let herself be comforted by her brother's consoling hands as they massaged her shoulders.



"The girl would say that," rasped out Mad-eye's suspicious voice. "After all, the girl has an avid interest in the boy, as we've all seen and..."



"Now you just stop there Alistor," Molly's raised voice ricocheted off the walls, making the entire Weasley family wince. "I will not allow you to call my child a liar! My Ginny is a good girl, and if Ginny says that it is true, then it is true! No one calls my child a liar!"



Harry walked over to Mrs Weasley and put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "It's alright Mrs. Weasley, no ones calling Ginny a liar," he told her soothingly. "We all know she wouldn't lie about something like this..."



"No, I wouldn't!" Ginny couldn't resist spitting out resentfully.



Harry rolled his eyes at Ginny in warning and, giving Mrs. Weasley one last reassuring pat, turned to address the room.



Molly looked like she wished to say more. No one called her dear children liars and got away with it! Not even in the case of Fred and George, who had been known to tell the odd un-truth! Her children were her world and she knew each one of them inside out...and on important matters such as this, not one of her babies would lie! But, Molly held her tounge. Now was not the time for this and she could deal with Alistor Moody later! Giving one last final tut of the tounge to express her outrage, Molly listened to what Harry had to say.



Harry cleared his throat and turned his solemn eyes on Draco...




...and Draco found his mouth curling into a smirk at Potter's earnest expression.



Harry's forehead wrinkled into a frown. "I don't trust you Malfoy," he told him through gritted teeth. "However, I don't think you're lying on this matter, it's your motives I don't trust. I'm going to ask you to step outside for a moment..."



"Step out side Potter," interrupted Draco mockingly, unable to keep his old feelings of hatred back. "Whatever for?"



Harry decided it was best to ignore him. The bloody prat didn't deserve an answer! "You are going to go outside with..." Harry cast his glance across the room and decided on Fred. Fred saw Harry's glance and quickly caught on to Harry's meaning. He nodded his acceptance promptly. He and George usually thought as one anyway, so Fred knew his opinion would not go unheard. In addition, if matters came to ahead, he knew that Harry would call him back in. Fred made his way to the door.



"Fred," continued Harry, "and you will wait there until we have reached a decision on you and your trustworthiness. We shall try not to keep you outside too long," and with that Harry turned his back on Draco, dismissing him completing and made his way back to the table, which everyone had now crowded round.



Draco felt cold fury seep into his veins and freeze up his insides. How dare Potter dismiss him like that, how dare he! With a sneer, he turned his back on the room, ignoring Ginny's imploring eyes, and stalked towards the door, where Fred was waiting for him. Fuck Potter, he thought as he made his way to the door and the waiting Weasley. Just wait until I find Snape, then I'll show him what is what, and then storming through the door, which the Weasley held open for him, he strode into the night, full of blinding fury.


Chapter 3: Decisions
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Decisions




Chapter Three






Bloody, sanctimonious bastards! How dare they, how bloody dare they treat me like this ... I'm a Malfoy, a Malfoy for the love of Merlin....

Pale and livid, Draco glowered maliciously at the be-freckled Weasley stood by the weather-battered door. His hard, grey eyes glittered with abhorrence.

Insufferable, bloody, red-headed prat, he thought spitefully, as a calm and collected Fred stared back at him through narrowed eyes. Who does he think he is ... my bloody watchdog!

Face half hidden by the nights shadows, Fred just stood silent; watching him impassively, as if he were reading his spite-filled thoughts. The ferret was obviously in a volatile frame of mind, he could see, and looked ready to explode at any moment. Fred decided to tread carefully from here on; the last thing he wanted (or needed) was a duel of words with the overtly disturbed Malfoy spawn.

"Ginny likes you...." It was a statement, an open ended question, a deliberate pause, a means to gauge his reaction. Fred watched him carefully: taking in the tightly clenched fists, noting the pale-haired boy's fearful expression.

"What of it?" Draco demanded, his words sharp and sullen as he eyed the older boy suspiciously.

"Nothing...." Another pause and measuring eyes. Fred crossed his arms across his chest and waited for Draco to fall into his trap - the ferrety git took the bait.

"Tell me what you mean - what you're implying ... You don't like me - I fucking hate you, get to the point Weasel ... Tell me what you're bloody thinking-"

"I'm thinking," Fred jumped right in, cutting off Draco's stream of vitriol. "That, for some reason, Ginny likes you - and our Ginny's not a fool ... I'm thinking about what it is she sees in you - what it is that the rest of us can't...."

Draco stared back at him, his throat constricting convulsively. He could feel his nails bite deep into the flesh of his palms; deep enough to leave welts, deep enough to draw a little blood, deep enough to make him fear for his sanity. His eyes felt raw, raw, arid and wide - as if he hadn't blinked for hours. This had to stop; he must stop staring, he had to stop these escalating emotions before his impending insanity became more than just an act, he must blink....

He hesitated, he blinked, and a semblance of sanity came creeping back.

Back on the brink, he felt rather breathless and realised he was panting. Dear Merlin, he thought as the realisation shocked him. I'm going insane! These holier-than-thou idiots are driving me insane! This was not a comforting thought though, as he knew well enough who the person responsible for this was - and he was in no bloody way holy! However, really, these strange trances of his were increasing by the day and it worried him. His throat would tighten, his pulse and heartbeat would seem to falter, and he would find himself staring mindlessly at nothing. A light sheen of perspiration would cover him and his mind would become an empty void, where dismantled thoughts would dance and skitter, just beyond the point of lucidity. Here they became an itch; an itch lurking beneath his skull; a maddening itch that would not go away, an itch that always remained just under the surface. Oh, yes, indeed ... He certainly had cause to be worried. Suddenly, a voice broke through his deteriorating thoughts and he recognised it as the bloody Weasel's brother.

"Feeling alright there, Malfoy?" The voice enquired evenly, bringing Draco back to the here and now. "Do you need a glass of water or something; you're looking rather, erm, pale...?"

"No," he snapped out with a snarl, not needing (or wanting) the older Weasel's concern. "No, I bloody well don't! Would you just shut the bloody hell up and leave me alone!"

"There's no need for such language, ferret - you're attitude certainly hasn't chan-"

"Fuck off!"

"Obviously, decent isn't a word in your vocabul-"

A rude hand gesture!

Then Draco abruptly turned his back and walked off, cutting Fred off short. In the ensuing silence, Fred decided that silence was the best (safest) bet and continued with his watch.

Well at least the Weasel has the sense to keep quiet, Draco thought, leaning against a nearby tree and casting around the pockets of his robes, back still turned on Fred. At least I have space to think now, to plan things, to get things back under control. His hand clenched around the box he was looking for and, with a shaking hand, he pulled out a battered packet of Muggle cigarettes. A filthy habit, he knew, a filthy habit that was popular with filthy Muggles. But, for some reason, Draco had kept the pack and, on nights such as these, he often found himself sucking on the end of one.

He fished a cigarette out of the packet, lifted his wand, lit the tip and inhaled. The smoke filled his lungs and the drug did it'd job. Draco felt instantly calmed. Now he could think straight, now he could, now he was back in control. His mind wandered backwards and he remembered how he'd found the pack.

The packet had been confiscated off a Mudblood fifth-year a year ago - or was it lifetime ago? He really couldn't remember and really didn't care; after all, time held no meaning for him anymore. However, he did remember that he'd taken the battered packet, carried it to his dorm, took out his wand, lit his first cigarette, and promptly choked. It was a horrible sensation; a sensation that had made him throw up, a sensation that he'd somehow got used to. The sickness that he felt every time he lifted one to his lips, somehow, made him feel better. He didn't know why, but the fact he was smoking an item banned by the new dark laws, that he was in fact killing himself in two very lethal ways, gave him some odd feeling of control. It was as if he had control over his own life and death.

But, he was drifting again. Thinking of unimportant things when he should be thinking about his future, when he should be thinking of his plans. He must find his former professor, for finding Snape was imperative. He would know, he would understand - he would help him find it! For when the book was found, well, then the subtle winds of chance would finally waft his way.



Fred watched Malfoy scowl intensely at the soft orange glow that lit the tip of his Muggle stick and wondered. The younger boy was definitely acting strangely, if not a little bizarrely. To tell the truth, although his little laughing act inside had been effective, Fred had not been taken in by it; he had taken it as a sham, as a piece of proficient performance. After all, it was one of the easiest things in the world - to pretend to be crazy. But, now, he was not so sure - as the Malfoy boy's current behaviour had certainly given him pause for thought. The boy was behaving erratically and Fred wondered about his state of mental health. Definitely, he thought. I must definitely tell Harry about his behaviour; he could be a danger to us - and Harry would most certainly want to know this new information. However, he got no further with this train of thought as his mother's voice could suddenly be heard clearly through the slightly open window.

"Well, Alistor - I respect your opinion (of course), but I must say that I trust the boy. He seemed genuine enough for me...."

Fred did not hear Moody's response, but he noted his mother's strained tone. She sounds about ready to lose it, he mused wryly, grinning as he thought of his mother's impending eruption. And even old Mad-Eye would buckle under that! Chuckling away happily to his own thoughts and eager to hear Moody's imminent dressing-down, Fred suddenly felt a pair of eyes bore through him. Looking up, he was not surprised to see Draco staring disconcertingly at him, and the look in those narrowed silver eyes (he had to admit) disturbed him. Fred opened his mouth to question the other boy when another voice boomed out.

"Trust him! TRUST HIM! I will never trust that maggot of a Malfoy!"

Both boy's heads turned abruptly to the window.


-----



"Alistair, please..." Charlie Weasley could be heard saying. "This is not the time for slurs and insults, we have an important decision to come to..."

Stood on the other side of the room, George watched his brother's slightly pained face and nodded to himself. Charlie was right, things could do with calming down in here, and if his mother's face was anything to go by - things needed soothing over right away. Scratching, habitually, at the back of his neck, George added his piece to the escalating conversation.

"I think it's a case of, 'better the devil you know...'" He didn't get much further as Alistor Moody exploded again.

"That's the sort of thinking that gave him this advantage - that's the sort of thinking that defeated Hogwarts!"

Neville, stood just behind Moody, bobbed his head nervously in agreement.

"I agree," he squeaked out, and then flinched when Molly settled her dangerous glare on him. Her eyes glittered with determination and her hands fell to her hips; her lips pursed and her foot started tapping an irritated beat on the threadbare flooring. Harry, still sat behind the table, holding this unruly court, knew the signs. Molly was going to explode. However, before he could but in, or Molly could even open her mouth, another scorn filled voice interrupted.

"Oh, really, Neville," Ginny's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Anyone would thing you're still scared of Draco ... Honestly, we're not still kids in playing in Hogwarts anymore..."

"That may be, Ginny," Harry broke in, finally having his say. "But, just because we're not children anymore; no matter that we've changed and put stupid, petty rivalries behind us - doesn't mean that Malfoy's not dangerous. We could be walking right in to a big trap...."

"Here, here!" cried Moody, striding forward and giving Harry a friendly, if hard, pat on the back. "Finally, the boy is seeing sense..."

Molly, torn between exasperation to scold her daughter's sarcasm and the desire to let Alistor know exactly what she thought, decided she would be heard. Sending a heated warning glare at her daughter, who was on her feet and trembling with emotion, she began.

"Harry, dear," she started, not letting herself be distracted by the look in Harry's eyes. The boy had grown so much, true. But, to her he was still her sweet orphaned child. "Well, Harry - I understand your point, dear - and I expect every person in this room would agree we must continue with caution ... But, my Ginny has confirmed part of his story and truly believes in his, shall we say, change of heart? Now, I know some people in this room are of the opinion that my daughter is a liar (here her glare fell on the scowling scarred face of Moody), but I can assure you that my child is no liar and a fair judge of character-"

"Harrumph!" A loud snort of derision escaped Moody's twisted mouth. "A fair judge, you say," he continued, his magical eye spinning wildly around the room. "Isn't this the girl who befriended a certain Tom Riddle in the guise of a diary..."

The room erupted with the raised protestations of the Weasley clan.

"How dare you! My daughter was vulnerable, she was possessed!"

"I was only twelve - how could you? I would never knowingly...."

"My sister was tricked! She was young and impressionable! You have some nerve, Moody!" George was instantly at his sisters side, hugging his sister protectively. He pinned Moody with an accusing stare and his mind plotted schemes of revenge. Ginny, on the other hand, held the gaze of the boy with the green eyes, of the boy she used to love and respect so much. Hot tears fell down her cheeks, but she was not ashamed of them for they were in fact tears of burning anger. How could Harry not trust her judgement? How could he let Moody talk about her that way? How could he just stare un-blinkingly at her like that, as though he did not care? Emotions in the small room were running high and Charlie decided to be the one to do something about it; he stepped towards the table and Harry, eyebrows knitted in consternation.

"Harry," he uttered quietly but firmly. "What do you believe we should do?"

Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes before answering, wearily, "I don't know, I just don't know."

Charlie tapped at his forehead in annoyance and frustration as he fished around his mind for some form of answer. "I know there are may issues," he began, but was cut off by a, as yet, unheard, dreamy voice. From her place in the far corner, Luna began to speak.

"I know you still have lots of issues with Draco Malfoy, Harry," she murmured softly, her eyes still fixed on the dream-weaver she was making. "But, I think it's a case of trust against need. Yes, we would be silly to trust him so soon - but this is not a case of trust, it's a case of need. Charlie was right, we need help, Harry and after what happened to Professor McGonagall - we need all the help we can get!" Luna stopped, raised her eyes from her handiwork, and looked Harry directly in the eyes.

"And I know you'll do the right thing, Harry," she added, her eyes watching his intently. "I trust you."

The room fell silent as all pondered over her words and Harry let out a soft sigh. Making a decision was hard, one of the hardest he had to make, but finally he knew what he should do. He stood up abruptly, making his chair fly backwards with a cringe worthy screech of wood against wood, winced, and riffled a distracted hand through his unruly black hair.

"We shall vote on it," he stated simply. "Those in favour in welcoming Draco Malfoy's aid, say aye."

"Aye!"

"Aye!"

"Aye!"

"I think it would be for the best Harry dear..."

Sniff. "Yes!"

Harry ignored Molly's words and mentally tallied the count. Five in favour then, he was outnumbered, but he proceeded with the count anyway. "And those not in favour, say nay...."

"N - n - nay!"

"NAY!" Alistor boomed.

"Nay," Harry added his own voice to the negative. Furtive glances were shared across the room. Molly nodded sharply to her eldest son present and Charlie asked the unasked question.

"So, Harry," he enquired, watching the young man thoughtfully. "Does that mean he's in, should I go and get Fred for his say-"

"No," Harry answered quickly, with a shake of the head. "No, there's no need. Even if he voted against him the ayes have still won-"

"But, does it mean he's in?" Ginny burst out, unable to control herself. "Are we going to allow him - or are you going to have the final say?"

Harry eyed at her sadly and wondered just when it was that her opinion of him had changed so much. Did she really think so little of him now? Not that it mattered, of course. They had voted and the decision had been made. He sighed again.

"He's in, Gin," he told shortly, not meeting with her eyes. Then, turning to Charlie, he told him simply, with only the slightest hint of bitterness. "Let them in again please, Charlie. I have to give the ferret the good news...." And, with that, he turned his back on the room and made his way to the fireplace and an scowling Alistor Moody, they fell into quiet discussion.

Charlie watched their animated discussion for a few seconds more, noting the tenseness in Harry's shoulders. He knew the boy was under a lot of pressure and he wondered briefly if they had reached the right decision. But, that was of no matter now, a decision had been made and it was his job to let the Malfoy boy in. So, with a quick shrug of the shoulders, Charlie turned, strode across the room and flung open the door.


-----



Outside, the two boys had listened in silence to the rise and fall of the debate inside. They had listened intently to each raised voice that had rung out and had strained their ears when the conversation had been to low to decipher. But, neither of the boys had heard the conclusion, although they both had a good idea of the outcome.

Draco had been pleased, if a little surprised, at the Weasley family's defence of him. True, he had expected as much from Ginny and her mother hadn't been such a surprise - but the Weasley brother's support had truly surprised him; this was so much better than he'd expected. That old bloody fool of an Auror hadn't gotten his way, it seemed, thank Merlin! And, although, he hadn't been able to overhear the result of the consensus - he was totally sure things had swung his way, by about four votes at least. A self-satisfied smirk inched it's way on to his face, and over by the door Fred scrutinised him carefully.

I definitely need to tell Harry now, Fred thought, as he was now certain that Draco was a threat. Suddenly, the door swung open, letting out a warming orange glow, and Fred turned to see his elder brother standing there. A look of understanding quickly passed between the brothers and both turned to look at Draco.

Draco stared back and his smirk widened. "I assume," he drawled smugly, in his most superior tone, "that by your sudden appearance, I am wanted back inside...."

"Just shut it, Malfoy," Charlie interrupted, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "Get inside and get rid of the attitude!"

Draco made as if to say something, but then thought the better of it. There was something about this Weasley that stopped him. He was unsure to what it was exactly, but Draco had the notion that this was not a man to reckon with; it was something about the eyes. So, instead, Draco straightened his shoulders and strode casually forward. A most superior look adorned his face and his condescending sneer was perfect. He approached the brothers slowly, his eyes glittering maliciously at them.

"Hurry it up, ferret," Fred snapped out, feeling the sudden urge to punch him. "We haven't got all day!"

"Manners, please," Draco mocked as he neared and stopped in front of them. Then, with a dismissive flick of his eyes, he sneered and moved elegantly pass them and into the room.

As soon as he entered, Ginny was at his side, reaching for his hand. Draco let her take it, but his eyes were fixed on Harry, who was stood beside the fireplace with a thoughtful frown wrinkling his forehead. Draco felt an odd surge of pleasure course through him; it was he who had caused him to look so concerned, it was him who Potter was thinking about; Draco felt very proud (and somehow comforted) to be back in his place as a thorn in Harry's side! Finally, he mattered again, his place on this earth once more meant something, he could become a force to contend with. A discreet kiss on the lobe of his ear distracted him from his thoughts.

"Your in," whispered Ginny, her warm, excited eyes twinkling up at him. "They accept you, they want your help..."

Draco looked down at her and felt something real and warm heat his stomach; a rare, genuine smile touched his lips. He was lucky to have Ginny's trust, even luckier to be allowed to bask in her warmth; he reached down to touch her hair, that hair that was that wicked shade of red that so enticed him. She smiled warmly up at him with her honest large brown eyes.

"We accept your offer, Malfoy." Harry's voice interrupted their moment. "But, don't think for a moment that we trust you - and, believe me, the slightest wrong mov eor one foot out of line will lead to you being incarcerated - or worse..."

Draco looked up and straight into Harry's bright green eyes; they glinted him a warning. Both boys stared intently at each other and Draco's lip curled into a sneer.

"Is that so, Potter," he drawled, issuing a challenge; Harry pinned him with his gaze, his eyes glinting with ire.

"Yes, it is so," Harry responded slowly, biting off each word. "Now, get out of my sight Malfoy - and be prepared to leave for The Black Spot at dawn."

Harry sent him one last hard glare, turned, motioned for Alistor, Fred, George and Charlie to follow him and made his way through a small door; the others followed him quickly and a frowning Neville watched them go.

"Come with me to the kitchen," Ginny whispered into his ear and pulled him forward. "Mum will make you some food; there's plenty of soup left and I'm sure she made fresh bread today - and I think there's some sausages left...."

Draco drowned her voice out and let her lead him to the kitchen, but his thoughts were not on the food -nor were they on Ginny for that matter. No, he was thinking of Potter's final words, The Black Spot. Potter had said The Black Spot! Oh, Merlin - things were going much better than he'd ever dreamed; they were heading to The Black Spot, that horrible landscape where the dark creatures lurked. A cruel, dark smile slowly crept on to Draco's lips. Oh, yes, he was certainly going to enjoy his visit to The Black Spot.



A/N: With this one I'm going in a different direction. It's going to be a much darker story, which will deal darker themes. It will probably stay a 15+ though as it is not really a romance story and will deal more with themes such as revenge, betrayal and the insanity caused by war. And, although, this is a pre HBP story, I will be trying to keep the characters closer to cannon.

That being said, I hope you enjoyed the story so far and all feedback (constructive criticism also welcome) is very much appreciated. Oh, and I will be updating this story more on a regular basis from now on.


Chapter 4: Betrayal
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Betrayal




Chapter Four






Everything was going to plan, everything, so far, had gone swimmingly; now, if only he could shake the Weasel boy off.

Draco's mind raced as he wandered down yet another twisted, black passage: his blank, grey eyes were dilated, his pulse was racing, and his lapdog followed on close behind him. Now, all he needed was to rid himself of that bloody Weasley! He had to find Snape; it was imperative, he just had to get to him first.

But, the fucking Weasley wouldn't be shaken, he stuck to him like glue. Then there was the infernal questioning to contend with too. Didn't the bloody idiot know when it was best to, just shut-the-fuck-up? Were the Weasley family really that thick-headed? His lip curled up into a vicious snarl, a snarl that went unseen in the dark. He would have to loose him, to come up with a plan, it was essential that he met with Snape first and was alone.

"So, you like our Ginny then, eh?"

Shut it, Weasel! Fuck, would he ever shut up, as if it was any of his business anyway. Giving him no answer, a Weasley deserved nothing from him but scorn, he hurried along to the end of the passage. He must loose him soon!

"Bloody hell, slow down, Malfoy - what are you in such a rush for anyway, he might not even be here?"

His face contorted; honestly, this was unsupportable: would he never be rid of the ginger moron? Stopping suddenly, he gritted his teeth, and turned round to face him. The ginger oaf barrelled into him.

"Sheesh." He sucked the air through his teeth. His anger grew. Really this was the absolute limit! He fixed the Weasel with his most baleful glare and spoke to him for the first time, in his most scornful tone. "Would you kindly refrain from asking me your idiotic questions," he snarled, taking a step back and disdainfully brushing down his robe. "And, could you possibly, refrain yourself from knocking me over as well...."

Fred snorted, contemptuously. "Shove off, Malfoy! Spare me, the niceties, please. Just, bloody, answer me when I talk to you, you prat!"

"Why should I?" Draco shot one last contemptuous look, turned, and walked off into the looming darkness again. The oaf wasn't worth wasting his breath on.

Fred picked up his pace to catch up with him. "Because you're on very dodgy ground here, Malfoy." Chasing after him, he sounded rather breathless. "And, if you want to gain some footing, Prat - I'd recommend being more cooperative...."

As if he wanted to cooperate with them, as if he had a choice.

A disdainful cock of the eyebrow was enough of an answer to that dubious synopsis. He suspected, quite correctly, that they'd rather put their trust a raving lunatic before they put their trust in him - their unyielding trust in Mad-Eye-Moody being a prime example. In fact, he very much doubted, if they would ever come to trust him at all. This was not a problem for him, though. Instead, it showed that, contrary to appearances, they actually might share a few brain cells between them. After all, he wouldn't trust himself, not if he was in their situation, not an ounce.

He heaved an irritated sigh out. Extremely aware of the ginger twit's eyes on him, he wanted the optimum effect. It worked, the Weasley narrowed his eyes at him, obviously feeling exasperated beyond belief.

"All right, then - don't bloody talk - it's your funeral."

Yes, exactly - it is my funeral, he thought, darkly. If I don't find Severus soon, I'm as good as dead.

Watching the Weasley from the corner of his eye, he saw him shoving his hands deep in his robe pockets, temporally defeated. Good, no more inane questions. This would give him some time to plan, give him more time to think. Eyes clouding over, his mind drifted back to earlier that morning.

---

After a breakfast of sausages and watchful eyes, Ginny had pulled him to the side. Ginny, with her soft brown eyes and freckles, had whisperer quiet assurances in his ear, while sharp eyes had narrowed and watched on. She had wanted him to know that she loved him, she had told him to take care; her bright eyes had shined wetly, glistening with the first threat of tears.

A knot of guilt had twisted in his stomach - he did not deserve such blind devotion.

Yes, he loved her in his own special way, he supposed. It was her who had provided him with that small glimmer of hope; a bleak wish, which had always shone, just beyond his reach. Yet, though, thoughts of her kisses, and other such sweet things, burnt brightly, keeping away the darkness of the long nightmares of the night. Reality returned, however, in the cold light of day, and with it came cold truths that whispered terrible words of betrayal.

Perseverance came first. There was no place for mislaid loyalty in this heart of darkness. His stretched and overwrought soul could not afford to put trust in something as fickle as hope or love. He had to survive, he had to put an end to this madness, he had to put himself first. And, if that meant betraying the one who believed in him, then so be it.

It had begun with heated words and accusations, it had begun with shared, hot and needy, kisses in the night. Secret liaisons, sweat soaked skin, fear and lust mingled in heady confusion, which brought sweet relief from the darkness that lurked around every foreseeable corner.

He had not loved her, no, it had never been love. But, she has warmed him, put her misplaced trust in him, and helped him chase away his fears. She had filled his need and he, hers. They had found a way together, to blot out the impeding darkness; they had found themselves a niche in which they could hide. This did not help the bitter taste of acid, though. Or the bile, which threatened to rise in his throat as he kissed her for the last time.

He had no time for these untimely feelings of culpability, he had to push them down. These feelings, in fact, any emotion (with the exception of hate) could very well result in his untimely demise. Neither side cared. Cared for him, or anything, but ultimately winning this war. He was a traitor to both sides, a dead man walking, a scapegoat to either cause.

There was no place in him for false faith; he had to move onwards, he had to find Snape, his only hope lay with him and the book. So, he stole that last kiss from Ginny, he took it greedily, knowing full well it would be his last. He took it, then smiled her one last smile, before walking away quickly, running away from his regrets.

Regrets could come later. Regrets could come when he was dead. He held his head high, straightened his shoulders and walked over towards his grim faced entourage, his mask slipping back into place.

*


The Black Spot was the same, it had not changed since he last laid eyes on it. The ice sharp wind still blew fiercely, making one shiver with its unnatural touch. The carrion birds still cried their piercing cries, cries that sounded like screams from the soulless dead. Strange shadows danced behind the surrounding blackened trees: Inferni, toothless hungry hags, twisted Goblins; creatures such as these, choose to haunt this wretched site now. And, if it hadn't been for the horrible (and strangely pitiable) creatures fear and hatred of the wands they held aloft, Draco knew that he and his company would have been attacked, tortured and killed long before now.

Instead, though, afraid of the wands the Wizards held, these twisted creatures hung back and watched from the shadows, muttering heated curses as the company passed.

They had passed hurriedly, no one wanting to linger in this place, they had made their way quickly to the looming, blackened ruins. Hiding behind those blackened walls was Snape: in there, there were many answers to be found. Truth be told, not one of them wanted to enter that ominous blackness, especially Draco, who once remembered it as his home. But, nothing of the former Malfoy Manor was recognisable to him now, apart from that old air of cold authority, which still lingered on.

No, no one had really wanted to enter, but all followed Harry's instructions as he dived them into pairs. Harry would go in with Neville, Fred would take Malfoy, and Alistor and George would search the outer grounds. All was decided in a matter of minutes and Draco had found himself entering his former home for the first time since his mother died.

As he approached the looming dark gap, which used to serve as the main entrance, fingers of ice cold terror, slithered down his back. He shuddered. Then he entered....

---

A terrified scream pulled him back from his memories to the present. Wide eyed and on edge, his eyes darted to Fred's and (in silent agreement) they took off down the passageway. At the end, they turned left, following the echoes of the reverberating scream. A couple of twisting passages later, the final echoes slowly dying away, they came upon a room. A cobwebbed room filled with books; Draco recognised it as his father's old study. He stepped forward.

The room was filthy; years of dust covered everything, cobwebs hung from every conceivable corner, a smell of must and decay assaulted his delicate nose. Mould grew on the heavy velvet curtains, which still hung at the pane less window frame, shattered glass scattered the floor. But, all in all, Draco thought to himself. Despite the black soot, which covered everything, his father's old study still stood strangely intact. Had someone tried to restore it, could someone be hiding here?

Someone stepped out of the shadows, walking towards him, mouthing words he couldn't hear.

Snape!

Dear Merlin! He had found him.... He rushed forward to his former mentor, caution forgotten, jumbled words spilling from his lips.

"The book, Severus - have you the book? I need it, it will help us...."

Snape's mouth opened again, his eyes looked frantic, but Draco could not hear a word, nor did he catch the warning in his eyes. Vaguely aware of Fred behind him, keeping a steady wand on his former Potions teacher, Draco took another step towards his former professor and clutched desperately at his cloak.

"Please, Severus," he rambled, desperate for the knowledge. "The book - where is it? I can bargain with it - it can save us - it's my, I mean our last chance...."

"Draco," His voice sounded rusty, unused. "Draco, please...."

Draco ignored the plea in his eyes. "For Merlin's sake, Severus - is it in here? Have you hidden it? Is it...."

Fred, irritated and confused, decided to enter the conversation. "What are you bloody talking about? What book? Stop talking riddles, would it be useful to the order...."

"Potter..." Snape croaked out from cracked lips.

"Potter? What has he got to do with it? He hasn't got the book...." A look of terror came to Draco's eyes. "Has he?"

"Traitor..." Snape clutched at Draco's robes and brought his bloodless face closer to his. "Traitor, Draco, Traitor!"

"Who's a bloody traitor - what's going on here?" Fred now sounded afraid, he didn't like, or understand, where things were leading to here. He wanted Harry, he wanted the others: he quickly came to a decision. Training his wand on the two of them, he continued. "You two idiot's are coming with me - we're going to find the others and you can spout this nonsense out to them..."

"Severus, what's the matter ... what's wrong?"

The man had started to shiver and convulse.

"Severus!"

Snape's fingers clutched harder at Draco's arm, his fingers digging in painfully. The former professor's lips pulled away from his teeth in an agonised snarl, as he collapsed to the floor in a writhing heap, nearly taking Draco down with him.

Draco pulled himself back and looked on with increasing alarm. "Severus," was all the confused young man could say.

Fred, too, watched on, horrified. Just what the hell was going on here? he asked himself, unable to do anything but stare. Who, or what, was doing this to him?

Neither boy moved, both stood, overwhelmed, by the bizarre change of events. It was Fred, who snapped out of it first. The man was obliviously in great pain. Traitor or not, he would have to try and help him. He stepped closer to the convulsing man.

"NO! Step away from him, Fred. It's too late now..."

"Harry?" Fred spun round, surprised by Harry's cold tone. "Harry, what are you on about?" he questioned, uncertainly.

"I'm simply stating a fact, Mate - It's too late for him now." A strange little smile played on Harry's lips.

Disturbed by the smile, Draco took a furtive step backwards, bringing himself closer to the safer shadows by his father's towering bookshelves. He did not trust that smile, he didn't like the way events were unfolding, an ominous feeling of foreboding had descended heavily on his shoulders. Inching, himself, slowly backwards, he trod on something soft. Glancing down, to see what it was, his eyes widened in fear. It was a hand.

He stuffed his knuckles in his mouth to prevent himself from screaming.

Unaware of Draco's find, Fred went on, choosing to hide his growing confusion with prattle. "So, where's Neville then, Harry - eh?"

"He got lost on the way, mate," Harry smirked nastily, leaving Fred very unsure of now to continue. Harry was acting very strange.

"So, we better find the others and find him them," Fred continued, trying to bring some sense into the proceedings. Then he motioned to the man still writhing on the floor. "Alistor could probably do something to help him too..."

Harry gave an odd laugh. "Oh, yeah, Moody will help him alright."

"What do you mean, Harry? You're acting strange - let's go find Nev and the others...."

Draco couldn't help himself, an insane, muffled giggle escaped his lips.

Fred was incensed, Harry's eyes looked thoughtful.

"Just, shut it, ferret boy," Fred hissed angrily, "it's not bloody funny...."

"But, I think that I've just found Neville..."

Face drained of all blood, Draco stared down at the brown-haired dead boy behind his father's bookshelf. It was obviously the Adava Kedavra curse; the boy's glassy eyes held a look of sheer astonishment and there was no sign of any mark on the body, which was still radiating heat. Draco shuddered. Another shred of sanity slipped away from him.

Following Draco's vacant stare, Fred's eyes fell on the out flung hand. His eyes widened. "Is - is - is that who I think it is?"

No answer came. Fred turned to Harry. "Harry?"

Harry's eyes were cold.

"It's not Nev, is it, Harry? Please, tell me it's not Neville..." Fred was pleading with him, only Harry could help him make sense of things.

Harry smiled kindly and raised his wand. "I'm sorry, Fred -- Avada Kedavra!"

A flash of green light! Hitting him squarely in the chest, Fred died still none the wiser.

Watching on, horrified, Draco still stood and giggled.

From afar, the sound of hurried footsteps approaching could be heard. Harry's eyes were hard as he turned to face Malfoy, wand raised.

---

"What the bloody hell is going on h - h - here..."

George's frantic voice came to a halt, he had seen his brother. "What's wrong with Fred? - He isn't hurt is he?"

He dropped to his knees, beside his twin. He reached out his hand to touch him.

"Maybe, you should be asking Malfoy that question," Harry insinuation, as he stepped forward and placed a cool hand on George's shoulder. "I'm so sorry, George - I couldn't get here on time..."

The insane giggles from the corner suddenly stopped. "It wasn't me - that's a lie!"

Draco tried to pull himself together. He had to regain his control. He was truly cornered.

"Did you do this boy?" A harsh voice rasped. Moody had entered the room. "Did you hurt this boy...."

"He's dead, Harry," George's voice was a sob. "He's dead - someone killed him!"

"It wasn't me - I don't even have a wand!"

"Don't give us that boy." Moody stepped around the desk in the middle of the room, pounced down on something, and walked deliberately over, towards the trembling boy in the corner. "Who's wand is this then, boy?"

Draco eyed the wand suspiciously. It wasn't his, he was sure. Snape's, it must be Snape's. "It's not mine - it must be Snape's..."

"Oh, blaming your old friends now, are yer?"

"No, not Snape - Harry!"

"You're making no sense, boy!"

He had never been in such a tight corner in his life. He must think, he must gain coherency. "Harry did it!"

A short, derisive laugh. "Don't be ridiculous, boy."

"Check his wand, you'll see..." Draco was near hysteria. "He killed Neville too!"

"Of all the absurdness...."

"I'm more than willing for you to check my wand, Alistor."

"That wont be necessary, Harry..."

"It was Harry - he must want the book too!"

"What?"

"The book - that's why he tortured Seve- " Draco suddenly remembered Snape's last coherent words and his eyes widened in horror and realisation. "It's him - Harry's the traitor!"

A thick silence followed his accusation. No one said a word, all eyes were on him. He couldn't help it, he cowered further into the shadows.

They were all out to get him, all of them! He could see that now. It had been a trap for him from the beginning. They hated him because he was superior, they despised him his wealth! Everyone had always been against him, it was the way it had always been. No one had ever recognised his talents; they had always overlooked him or pushed him back, he had never been allowed to shine.

Bloody Potter always beating him. Moody turning him into a ferret. Voldemort used him, his father always underestimated him; mother always codling him, always being called a coward. No one had been there for him, he had always been alone. Alone and afraid.

Death was coming for him, he knew this, he could feel it crawling under his skin. It waited for him patiently, it waited and it lurked. It had always been waiting for him, ever since it knew his name was Malfoy. This was ordained, this was prophecy, this was all his fault. If only if he had known this earlier, back in the days when the sun used to shine, then maybe he could have changed things or chosen another path.

All that was left to him now, though, were the powerless memories of former happier times. He had tucked them into his happy place and tried to keep them safe. But, even these, protected and hidden, had fallen prey to endless nightmares and passing time.

Nothing made sense anymore, lost and frightened, he tried hard to hold on to the last remnants of sanity that he still held. He tried, he tried his bloody hardest, he tried and he failed: the old Draco was in there somewhere, but somewhere much to faraway for him to reach. A single sob escaped him. He knew that he had lost.

"The bloody brat is snivelling now, just look at him - the worthless scum! Knows he's for it now..."

"Alistor!" Harry cut him off sharply. "Be fair, his allegations could be true..."

"Don't be bloody stupid, Harry! He's calling you a traitor-"

"But, even he, deserves a free trail...."

"NO, HARRY!" Moody raised his voice to full volume. "It would be a waste of effort, no one would even believe the Malfoy Brat! Nothing could be achieved by going that route...."

"But, Alistor..."

"No, Harry! - Gryffindor fairness is all well enough, but that would be a waste of our time and resources...."

"But, it's only fair--"

"Ask that poor boy, cradling his brother over there. Ask him what he thinks is fair. There are two bodies here, Harry - and that Death Eater filth is responsible!"

Smirking inwardly, after all, things were going exactly to plan, Harry carried on with his pretence. "I suppose your right Alistor, it's just..."

"You know that I'm right, Harry-"

"If I agree, will you leave me to deal with him then. I would rather..."

"No! Not him!" Draco came out of his self imposed stupor. "He'll kill me, I tell you it was HIM!"

"Shut it, you!" Draco's outburst had helped him made his mind up. "All though, I wouldn't mind dealing with this piece of scum, myself - but, I'll grant you that much, Harry."

This time he didn't draw attention to himself. After seeing the sly smirk that had snuck on to Potter's face. Insane or not, Draco knew he'd rather face ten hours of torture with Moody than face one minute alone with Potter. He sprang right into action, he knew exactly what he had to do next. He glanced over at the bookshelf stood to his right and stepped cautiously over to it. Hoping against hope, that this would work, he then pushed against it with all his might. The bookshelf swayed perilously, tottered, toppled and fell, landing on the floor with an almighty crash. Then, without a moments pause, Draco ran as fast as he could for the door.

The bookshelf fell, narrowly missing Moody, shocking all the occupants of the room. A dust cloud rose and rained down on the room, threatening to choke the life from all of them. Harry stayed calm, though. He couldn't afford to be thwarted this close to completing his plans. The disorientating smog of the falling dust smudged his glasses and blurred his vision. Undeterred by this, though, he narrowed his eyes and searched the room thoroughly. Soon enough, he saw exactly what he was expecting to see: a blurred figure ran from the room and he didn't need three guesses to know who it was. He was after Draco immediately.

Ignoring Alistor's shouts, he was soon lost in the maze of dark and twisting passageways. He didn't mind, though. Yes, he knew that this was Malfoy's old home and, yes, he knew that the backstabbing ferret stood a more than a good chance of escaping him. He was not worried yet, though, for he had something up his sleeve: he had Seekers Luck and it had never failed him yet. Yes, he would soon find Malfoy, he was very certain of this. He would find him, corner him, catch him like a rat in a trap, and then the bastard would get what was coming for him. Encouraged by this thought, Harry smirked an unpleasant smirk and pounded down the passages with renewed vigour.

---

The Manor had changed so much that he hardly recognised it anymore. The entire upper floors of his childhood home had completely collapsed and disintegrated, entire rooms had just fallen and crumbled into dust. Rubble was strewn everywhere on the lower floor: blocking off rooms and cutting off entire passages, leaving everything unrecognisable except for the odd miracle that remained standing.

Racing down yet another passage, Draco knew he couldn't run much further; his ribs ached, it hurt him to breath, and he had run out of places to hide. Tired of running, tired of always running, he waited for something inside him to give.

Why don't you just lie down, curl yourself into a ball, and pretend it's not happening.?

Nearly doubled over in pain, the stitch in his side hurting him unbearably, he stopped to listen to the voice. It sounded so inviting, it was just what he wanted to do. But, he couldn't do that, could he? This was his life that it walking about. The voice spoke again:

And do you have anything worth living for?

An image of Ginny popped unbidden into his head, but he hadn't the strength to sustain it. Leaning his head against the cold stone wall, he prayed for the voice to go away.

See, you have nothing....

Not true, I have....

You have nothing....

A low and desperate moan escaped him. It was true, he had nothing. Slowly, he slid down the wall, to the floor, and waited for Harry to find him.

Coming up to the next corner, Harry was panting heavily. The mounds of rubble laying everywhere had made the chase hard going, but Harry didn't care. He was close now, he could feel it. If he closed his eyes tight, he could almost see Draco right there in front of him. He rounded the next corner.

There he was, slumped against the wall; it was Malfoy, just sitting there, sitting there waiting, his head bowed as he cradled it in his hands. Harry skidded to a halt. Malfoy didn't move, he didn't even look up. Oh, so that's the way you want to play, is it, Malfoy? Harry ginned a feral grin and took a measured step forward.

"Tired of running are we, Malfoy?" Harry took another step closer. "Do you finally understand that it's always me that wins."

No answer, he kept his head lowered in his hands.

"Nothing to say then, Malfoy? Have you finally learnt when to shut-the-fuck-up?" He was nearly on top of him now, drawing close. Harry withdrew his wand, just in case. After all, he was a Slytherin - he could have a trick up his sleeve. Harry deliberately crouched down in front of him, holding his wand to his head. Malfoy didn't even a flinch.

What was wrong with him, had he given up? Well, that certainly made sense - he was always a coward. "Nothing to say then, Malfoy? No last wishes...."

He finally spoke up, not taking his head from his hands. His lips formed a simple question. "Why, Potter?"

Harry was taken aback. "Why not?"

Draco finally looked up, hard as flint, cold grey eyes looked into his. "That's not an answer, Potter - it's another bloody question."

Ah, finally, they were back on common ground. This would make things so much more fun. "Whatever, Malfoy, " Harry shrugged his shoulders, insolently.

Draco closed his eyes and swallowed, trying to get some saliva back into his mouth, his Adam's apple bobbled. Merlin! He was tired, he had to ask again. "Just tell me why, Potter."

"Why do you ask?" Harry watched him closely.

Another painful swallow. "Because I want to know when you sold your soul to the Dark Lord."

Harry chuckled, mirthlessly. "Who says I have, Malfoy?"

Draco's eyes flew open. "You killed Neville - and that Weasley boy-"

"That still doesn't mean that I'm working for him-"

"You're after the book - you're going to kill me...."

"As you said, Malfoy - the book is a good bargaining tool. If you had reached it first, you would have killed me." Another cruel smile crossed his face. "That is, if you could have."

"I wouldn't have killed you - I'd have just run away-" Draco screwed his fingers into his eyes as if he were tired.

"You would have ran to him - you're the traitor!"

"I wouldn't even have mentioned you! Why do you always think it's about you, Potter?"

Harry lunged at the silver-haired boy's robes. "Yes, you would have, Malfoy! When he had gotten the book off of you and betrayed you - then you would have betrayed me."

"No!" But, the protest even sounded pathetic to his own ears - he knew that Harry had spoken the truth. Staring sightlessly down at Harry's hand, which still clutched tightly at his crumpled robe, he felt another little piece of himself slip away. He closed his pale eyes and asked his last question. "Just do it, Harry."

Harry was taken aback again. He drew a little away from him. Was that it, then? Wasn't he going to beg and plead for his life - wasn't he going to fight him? Harry let his surprise sneak into his words. "No begging then, Malfoy?"

Malfoy just shook his head, his eyes were still squeezed tightly shut.

Harry freed his hand from the blond boy's robe. "Not even going to try and fight me?"

Wrapping his arms around his knees, Draco shook his head no. "No, Potter," he whispered out, harshly. "There would be no point in that really, would there? It's like you said before, Harry - you would only win - and I haven't the energy anyway...."

Letting Malfoy's last words sink slowly into him, Harry studied his one time schoolboy nemesis closely. He wasn't quite sure if the silver-blond prat was either being very brave or being extremely bloody stupid. It confused him. It just wasn't what he had expected at all. He got to his feet. "You chose the wrong side, Malfoy."

"Did I ever really have a choice?" His colourless grey eyes had opened again. He watched Harry dispassionately.

Should I kill him or not? He felt, suddenly, uncertain and the wand in his hand wavered. Then a long forgotten memory floated into his mind: a memory of soft hair, of sparkling eyes, of summer sunshine and laughter. His past came back to haunt him and his mind was finally made up. Then the words just came to him so easily. He straightened his wand and pointed, "Avada Kedavra!" The jet of green light soon followed.

---

Moody found him ten minutes later. "Harry, Thank Merlin!" He sounded breathless and agitated. "Have you found the little bastard, yet? We really need to...."

Harry cut him off, flatly. "He's dead, Alistor."

Dead? Harry's words stopped him in his tracks. "Are you sure, Harry?"

"Yes!"

Moody noticed the blank look in his eyes. His Auror training kicked in, he became suspicious. "How did he die, Harry? Was it in self-defence? - Well, no one would blame you, Lad..."

"It was an accident...."

Mad-Eye raised a cynical eyebrow. "An accident - are you quite sure, Harry?" His good eye watched the boy carefully.

"Yes!" Harry remembered raising up a heavy stone and bringing down on the dead boy's head. He had to do it, he needed his backup story. "He was running from me - he fell and hit his head."

"Oh!"

He just couldn't get the picture out of his brain. The dark red blood congealing in pale-blond hair, the thin red line it made while it slowly trickled down into the curve of his pallid jaw; those colourless lips that seemed to mock him with one last final smirk. He shuddered, he had to snap himself out of it.

"Harry, are you alright?"

He came back to attention. "Yes," he snapped, shaking his head roughly . "I'm alright, but we need to get the others in. I need to get George home to his mother and Snape needs taking in for questioning before he dies...."

Moody nodded, accepting this plan. "But, what about the Malfoy boy? We'll need to know where his body is...."

Harry jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "It lies two minutes down that way, but you don't need to see to that, Alistor. Get Lupin to come back here, Lupin and Kingsley. They can take care of the dead. You take Snape, keep him alive for as long as you can, get information from him about the book...."

"The book, which book? I'll try Harry, but I don't think he'll last...."

"He'll last a few days, Alistor. It looks like he's under a mutation of the Cruciatus Curse. And, if all else fails, we can always resort to taking his memories from him. Don't worry about the book - you'll know exactly which book I mean as soon as you find it. It's a Dark Arts book, it will help us greatly-"

"Will you be explaining...."

"Yes, I'll take George back and explain to Molly, to the family. You just go and take Snape to Headquarters, Alistor. After things have calmed down, I'll come straight to you."

Moody looked as if he wanted to say more.

"Just go, would you! I'll follow on."

Moody watched him closely, summing the situation up swiftly. Though, he had many questions left, he decided that they could be left for later. Then, apparently satisfied for the moment, he nodded sharply to Harry and took off straight away. Harry let out a sharp and irritated hiss of breath, at last the old Auror had gone.

Alone at last, Harry ambled slowly along, taking this time to gather his thoughts. Everybody would be upset of course, the house would be in uproar. Molly would cry, Charlie would try his best to comfort her, while dealing with his grief and Arthur would come straight back home. Then, of course, there would be Ginny to contend with.

Ah, his Ginny!

Of course, she wouldn't believe him at first, not Ginny. No, at first, she would probably shout, scream and cry a lot, refusing to believe any of it. After time, though, when the memories of him had faded, then he would step back in; then she would allow him to comfort her. Memories of that magical summer came flooding back to him again: remembrances of soft smiles, freckled skin and soft shared kisses.

Harry smiled, Harry remembered; Harry walked on into the darkness ahead.




AN: This is the last chapter. It was intended to be a much longer series, but due to lack of interest (on my part) I've decided to end it here. It is properly completed, though, with a beginning and a proper ending. I just see this story now more as several long mood pieces that all fit together at the end.


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