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Kamikaze by rozen_maiden

Format: Novel
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 23,084
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure, AU
Characters: Hermione, Blaise (M), Cho, Draco, Goyle Jr., OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Draco/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 07/22/2013
Last Chapter: 12/16/2013
Last Updated: 12/16/2013

Summary:
banner by VermillionDream @tda |For heart_of_a_slytherin's Dramione Song Lyric challenge





Hermione’s frown deepened, unease stirring deep within her stomach. “Malfoy said that these were harmless in isolation!”

Pokey stared at the Cube, eyes widened in undisguised terror. “They are not harmless. They are Dark Magics, Missus Granger. Masters Malfoy just does not know it yet.”


Chapter 1: The Wrong Plan
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters or the world they are in—that right belongs to JK Rowling. The story is based off the character’s background, Garrus Vakarian, from the game trilogy Mass Effect and inspired by Mass Effect: Interregnum by The Naked Pen.
Quote used for summary is based of the lyrics in the song, These Days, by Bon Jovi.







Part 1: The Paladin

“They’re calling you ... um, ‘The Paladin’.”
“‘The Paladin’?”
“Like the white wizard and knight. A protector of the innocent.”



gorgeous image by chupacabra. @tda.




January 11, 2000
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Investigation Department, Tape #1
Interviewer: Hermione Jean Granger
Suspect: Draco Lucius Malfoy

Hermione: Testing. Testing. Interview room, number 8, January 11, 9:05AM. I am here with suspect Draco Lucius Malfoy. Born—

Draco: Suspect? I was told this was an interview, Granger.

H: (cough) You possess an item of questionable origins, Mr. Malfoy, we are only following protocol ... Unless you have something to hide?

D: You would like that, wouldn’t you? Couldn’t find my dangerous little present in any of your precious books?

H: We will be out of here faster if you just tell me what it really does, Malfoy.

D: I’m afraid I can’t do that. Haven’t you already looked at it?

H: There’s more to it. Your father—

D: Keep your nose out of it, Granger. There’s nothing about that Object that you need to know, other than its safe in my hands.

- End of tape –






‘And I feel so helpless here
Watch my eyes are filled with fear’
I Need Your Love, Clavin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding




1. The Wrong Plan


8th of February, 2001

Draco Malfoy sat on a rickety metal chair in the middle of a dank room that smelt of blood and sweat, staring down the length of a wand. The tip was pressed firmly into his nose and twitched with every miniscule movement of the wizard holding it. He tried not to stare at the yellowing nails nearing his face, but it was hard. Draco was sure that was blood on his fingertips.

“Do you smoke? I heard that was a killer for yellow nails,” Draco said, trying to lean away from the wand. “My mother taught me a great cosmetic spell for hair and nails back when she was—”

He wasn’t quite sure if he had stopped talking, but Draco’s voice had been replaced with a loud ringing that reverberated through his skull. Then the pain came: so agonizing his vision was blurred. The wand he had been staring at warped and twisted before him like a snake, and he blinked rapidly, gasping for breath as he tried to push through the pain.

“Shut the fuck up and tell us what your father was going to do with this,” the man growled, jerking his head towards a small coffee table in the corner.

Draco chuckled, but it came out as more of a gurgle. He leant forward, spitting a large glob of blood and saliva at the man’s foot. It distracted the thug enough for Draco to get a good, firm kick to his shin.

“No.”

“You fucken—”

“Artemis.”

A woman’s voice interrupted the man, echoing off the dark, stony walls around them. Draco jerked upwards, twisting to see who it was, but his bindings had him tied tightly in place on the chair. The light above seemed to have brightened at her voice, and it swung unsteadily on its fixture, creaking from the rust and threatening to fall any moment now. The dim light that reflected in the various—and ominous—puddles around the shadowy room distracted Draco from the wand momentarily.

He was sure the puddle of blood at his feet was his own. That’s right, Draco, that’s just the thought to make you feel better. Come on, get a grip, think logically. The ropes: untie the ropes.

He fiddled with the bindings, tugging hopefully at the loose bit of string that had caught between his fingers. It was a fruitless effort however: the rope was just too short and his fingers just weren’t long enough to catch a sure hold.

Damn. This is ... problematic.

The man named Artemis bared his yellow teeth at Draco and withdrew himself, wand still at the ready. He took place beside the coffee table, picking up the small cube that was on its surface.

“I suggest you tell us what it does,” the woman behind Draco called. Her voice was cold and mocking. “Lest you want to collide with my bat again.”

“You need me alive to get your answer,” he called back, not taking his eyes off Artemis. The cube turned over and over in his palm.

“I’m not going to kill you, Malfoy, but these walls ... they are soundproof.”

Ah, so her only hope lies with threats and violence. What’s a little pain?

Just as this thought crossed Draco’s mind, the woman’s bat collided with his shoulder blade unexpectedly. He was flung forwards toward the ground, landing in the puddle with a heavy splat. The disgusting mix of iron and dirt filled his mouth, a trickle of blood running down his throat. Coughing and gagging, he tried to hoist himself up as best he could with his hands tied to the chair, but his boots kept slipping in the blood and water that coated the concrete ground.

Draco landed back down on his face and laughed bitterly. This isn’t looking promising.

He felt a sudden tug as the woman grabbed his chair from behind. She forced him back into the sitting position, giving him a small, contemptuous slap across the back of his head as she did so. Blood dribbled down his chin and onto his chest, tickling his skin. Keeping his lips tight shut, his tongue traced every tooth gingerly, and with a sigh of relief he realised none were missing.

Is that what fortunate means now? All my teeth in my mouth ... I really have gone backwards.

“Let’s not do that again,” she breathed in his ear.

“So, I’m supposed to tell you what the Object does, and you’ll just let me walk away? That’s it? You two should already know what it does.” Draco watched as the woman circled around him as he talked, coming into full view. The bat hung limply by her side, splattered in brown and red stains, and her blue eyes flashed dangerously at the sound of his mockery. “I know you: Isobel MacDougal, my year, Ravenclaw.”

The woman’s red lips curled into a cruel, sadistic smile at this. “We were in Herbology together.”

“From plants to violence. You’ve changed.”

“Tell me what it does, Malfoy,” she snapped, lifting the bat up and stroking it delicately. Her dark ringlets fell over her eyes, but Draco didn’t miss the sparkle of anger. “I may let you walk away.”

“I’m sorry, Isobel, but I’m not telling you shit.”

With a cry of frustration, Isobel stepped up to him and swung the bat with all her might into the side of his jaw. Draco felt and heard the sickening crack as the side of his face where the bat had collided exploded in pain. He found himself back on the concrete floor, cheek pressed into the cold stone. His vision swam and he heard heated voices before he felt his hands loosen from the chair’s imprisonment.

He stretched his fingers, relishing in the freedom, but it was only momentary. A giant, beefy hand wrapped around the collar of his once-white, now-red shirt, and peeled him off the ground with ease. He was then unceremoniously flung around and pressed with force into the hard stone wall, head lolling forward slightly.

“Stop fucking around,” Artemis growled through his thick red beard. Draco didn’t remember him being this big, but the man was now a giant compared to his frail, limp form.

Not quite frail enough, though.

“No.”

He hoisted his knee up, connecting it with Artemis’ groin with a satisfactory thump. The man howled in pain and dropped Draco, who landed on his hands and knees in another ominous red puddle. He was just about to get up when Isobel’s boot collided with his stomach, sending him eagle-spread on his back and hurting way more than what was fair.

Gasping for breath, Draco slipped and staggered to his feet. “Do you thugs not believe in magic?”

“Would you prefer magic?” Isobel asked, dropping the metal bat with a loud clang and pulling her wand out of her pocket. She waved it around, and Draco’s hands were once again tied tightly behind his back. “Shame, my bat has been getting such a good work out.”

Dammit. I really asked for that one.

Draco slumped against the wall, finding it too difficult to hold his own weight. His head throbbed painfully and every limb burned as though on fire, but his blood was thumping with a new-found adrenaline. He could see the light at the end of the tunnel; it was just a matter of whether he was strong enough to push through the pain.

You’ve been through worse, old mate. I can do this.

Vision blurred, Draco tried to focus on the shadow of Artemis and Isobel as he asked, “So who are you two working for? Corrupt cop or old Deathie?”

“Ourselves,” Artemis answered quickly.

Aha. Too quick.

“Really? And you just happened to know about the Object? But you don’t know what it does ...”

The cube was placed back on the coffee table next to Draco’s wand, and all three quickly glanced towards it and back.

“Everybody knows about the Object, Malfoy,” Isobel snapped. Despite her would be confident demeanor there was an apprehension in her voice that he didn’t miss. “And we know it means power.”

“You’re not meant to be lone agents,” Draco said, eyes widening with realisation.

Artemis closed in on him faster than a cat on a mouse. His fist connected with Draco’s jaw, and the blonde was sent across the room with the force of the swing, tumbling over himself and colliding with the wall. His head rattled as he was once again blinded from the pain, but he managed to find his way on his knees. He swayed there, attempting to regain his vision and spitting out enough blood to fill a small glass bowl.

Ah. Where, oh where, did my dignity go?

Finally, after what seemed like hours, the room swam clearly into view again, and he looked up at Isobel and Artemis, who stood side by side a few metres away. Their glares could have melted ice.

“So I was right?” Draco rasped, throat sore from the amount of blood he had spat out. “That was a pretty significant reaction.”

“Shut the fuck up Malfoy and we might still let you run away when you give us the answer,” Artemis growled.

“I don’t run away.”

“You did in the war,” Isobel stated. Draco’s grey eyes turned on her figure and she smiled. “Didn’t you?”

“Like you ran from your employer?” said Draco tauntingly, spitting more blood significantly in their direction.

Her lips formed a tight line and Artemis puffed his chest, readying for another assault. “I have no idea what—”

“Sure you do,” Draco interrupted her, grinning at the shock on Isobel’s face. “Your employer was looking for me, and you two just happened to find me in the broken down building with that”—he jerked his head towards the coffee table—“thing. So you decided to fly solo; more money with my Object and me to share between two people, right? But he didn’t tell you the full story, so you’ve resorted to violence to get it.”

“I—”

“You two are amateurs. The answer is still no.”

All shock that had been evident on Isobel’s face had now filtered out, and was being slowly replaced with red-hot anger. Her nostrils flared as she stretched out her arm, steadying her wand and aiming it directly at him.

“What a shame,” she sneered. “I’m sure you won’t miss your arm, then?”

Damn. You just had to open your fat mouth, Malfoy.

And just as Isobel’s lips parted, ready to curse him to oblivion, she crumbled to the ground.

Ha.

Artemis spun in a wild circle, looking fiercely around the room for the person who had taken down his partner. He had let out a triumphant ‘Aha!’ before he, too, fell to the ground.

Ha, ha.

“About time, guys,” said Draco weakly.

He attempted to stand, but now that his attackers had been taken care of, Draco’s adrenaline had quickly dissipated and his muscles and head were screaming in protest. He slipped, and unceremoniously fell back on the ground in his puddle of blood.

Groaning from the pain, he looked up to see three unfamiliar figures silhouetted in the doorway. The blue glow from their wands displayed that each one was dressed in thick black robes, and from their stance, Draco could tell they were not here by accident.

The one on the left ordered the others to ‘take position’ and closed the space between himself and Draco hurriedly. There was no time for the blonde to react before the unfamiliar man grabbed his arm, forcefully lifting him off the ground.

Draco swayed unsteadily once he was let go. “You’re not Astoria,” he said promptly to the man.

There was no answer; the man merely nodded, ducking behind Draco and out of sight. He felt the hot tip of a wand near his wrists, and heard the crackling of something burning; then the release. Draco swung his now free arms back and forth, so happy at his freedom that he barely noticed the stabbing pins and needles in his hands.

The man stepped back in front of him, checking his watch. “We have to go.”

Draco tenderly touched his jaw, watching warily as the man raised his wand with a flick. Draco’s own lifted off the coffee table in the corner and soured towards them. The man plucked it out of the air and passed it over.

“There are others coming for you.”

“Hang on, who are—?” Draco started, taking his wand.

“Aurors. Friends. I’m Michael, Let’s go.”

Aurors, dammit. Seems I can’t catch a break... But if this is my only way out... I can’t as well stay here and bleed to death.

Why can’t something be
easy for once?

Draco hesitated as Michael stepped over the bodies of Artemis and Isobel, but one swift look from the brown-haired man told him it was definitely not a choice. They made their way to the other two officers who had stayed back and guarded the door. They were all extremely professional, and Draco couldn’t help but feel out of place standing next to them. He was sure half his face was falling off.

“There are more coming,” one of them said.

“Are they within the anti-Apparition zone, yet?” Michael asked, checking his watch again.

Draco quickly retreated and walked over to the coffee table, grabbing the Object and pocketing it swiftly.

Nearly forgot it. Hopefully no one saw that. Last thing I need is the damn Ministry taking it from me again when the rest of the world is looking for it.

“Not that we know of.”

Draco took his place back beside Michael, who was now casting a muffling charm on all their shoes to ensure surprise.

“How did you know where I was?” Draco asked as Michael began to make a move out the door.

He had tried to keep his voice low in case others were around, and was not impressed when Michael let out a sharp bark of laughter.

“Oh, that? Yeah, the Ministry’s had a tracking enchantment on your Object for a while now. Hermione Granger actually—”

Draco scowled, ignoring the rest of Michael’s explanation. So that’s how? Am I really going to be okay entrusting my life to these Aurors after what I’ve just put up with? Think, Draco, think, think ...

They had exited the dank room and were now standing in something that resembled a corridor. Draco would have been thankful to smell something other than blood, but this area smelt worse than the room. The walls were covered in a thick green moss and they stood ankle deep in murky brown water.

I could leave now; take off in the opposite direction. But would it be worth it? I have no idea where I am and I’m fairly sure Astoria and the others aren’t coming.

Michael waved them down the corridor, each man following him in an eerie silence. The Object in his pocket burned hot against Draco’s leg as he trailed after them. Despite the fact that every part of his body seemed to be screaming against his decision to steady his walking with one hand on the wall, he placed it firmly on top of the filthy moss-covered stone with each step he took. His other hand gripped his wand tightly. He would need a year in the shower to make him feel better after this, he was sure.

The water on the ground shallowed as they edged further down the path, much to the relief of all. Draco noticed that when Michael wasn’t compulsively glancing at his watch, he was looking back at him to make sure he was still there with them. The blonde wasn’t quite sure why he bothered—the corridor twisted and turned but there were no other doors. Draco’s only escape would be back towards the room, and that was not going to happen.

“Is it ever going to end?” one of the men near Draco breathed.

“Dunno,” replied the other. “Dun ’member it goin’ fer this long.”

Draco felt panic rising in his stomach. “Are we going the right way?”

They all came to a stop, squinting back and forth in the dark, as if hoping for a door to materialize on the walls. Draco slumped against the wall, breathing heavily.

“I was sure ...” Michael bit his lip, confusion etched all over his face . “I was so sure ...”

Draco stared as one of the Auror’s broke apart, walking further down the path. I don’t think I can keep going much further.

“We must be close.” Draco was sure that his chest was collapsing in on itself as he talked. “How long have we been walking for?”

Michael opened his mouth to answer, but it was cut short by an excited shout.

“A light! The exit!”

With renewed vigour, Draco peeled himself off the wall and jogged after the others down the path. They found the Auror standing outside a large stone door with his hand on the knob, waiting for the OK. They all raised their wands, and with encouraging nod from Michael, the Auror pushed the door open.

“Ah!”

Draco stumbled back into the wall, throwing his arm over his face. The sunlight from outside streamed through the opening, blinding them all temporarily.

A little bit too bright. Guess I’d rather be blind than dead, though. I wonder—

“Sorry Malfoy,” Michael said, interrupting Draco’s thoughts.

Draco’s arms were jerked forward against his will at the sound of Michael’s voice, and his hands were, once again, in binds.

Dammit.

“Should have known better then to trust you,” Draco sneered as Michael walked forward and snatched his wand.

He shrugged. “Sorry, mate. Protocol, etcetera etcetera. Ministry is looking for answers about—”

Voices. Draco whipped around to look back down the corridor, tuning out Michael and squinting through the dark.

No, I must be going crazy. There’s no one there.

Just as he turned back to Michael, an angry cry drifted up the passageway. “Go, go, go! Malfoy has to be in here somewhere!”

Before Draco had time to react, Michael had grabbed his arm, dragging him out into the courtyard.

“Hold on!” he yelled, yanking Draco close.

You’re in for it now, Malfoy.

Eight or so men spilled out of the doorway Draco had just been standing in. The leader—a tall, burly man around 30—yelled in frustration at the sight of the Aurors, and raised his wand. He had it aimed directly at Draco’s chest.

Dammit.

Avada Kedavra!

A blinding green light shot out of the wand, and then, everything went black.




Authors Note: Thank you to JChrissy for giving the violence a once over and chupacabra @ tda for the chapter image. And huzzah! New Dramione! I’m very, very excited about this one :)

EDIT: There isn't enough praise I could give to there wonderful Debra20 for being the most INCREDIBLE beta I have ever had. I am so so grateful!!


Chapter 2: Upper Hand
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

The Daily Prophet
Hero or Illusion?
9th of Feb. 2001
Letters to the Editor

“It appears that the Wizards of the United Kingdom cannot go a decade without the idea of a hero. As the Aurors still stumble over themselves preceding the disappearance of a number of dangerous wizards, a young group of vigilantes have stepped up and over-ridden the law for good.” (Quote excerpt from The Daily Prophet, 8th Feb.)

Or so they say.
It is rumoured that the leader of this mysterious and idealistic group of 20 somethings is none other than Draco Malfoy, son of the late, pardoned Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy. Their vigilantism is not yet a crime, but how long could that last when a Malfoy is the ring-leader?
I think it’s about time our Ministry took a stand and stopped Malfoy and his gang before it’s too late.
Ellena Bridges, 32, Surrey





2. Upper Hand



8th of February

She was twenty-two. She had seen a war. She had seen countless dead. Yet, in all her years, Hermione Granger had never seen somebody alive lay so still.

The Saturday morning had begun like any other weekend morning—toast in one hand, spellbook on the bench and radio blearing the 10 o’clock session of the Witching Hour. She had no prior engagements, after her and Ron had cancelled on each other, yet again, and was just about to snuggle up in bed with the latest edition of Hogwarts: A History, when Harry appeared in her room, blurting something about St. Mungo’s, Michael Corner and him.

Draco Malfoy.

She stared at the bed. Not for the first time on that cold, February morning, Hermione wondered if Draco was actually still alive at all. It didn’t help that the white, pristine hospital sheets were perfectly folded over his torso without a crinkle in sight. His chest barely moved, and Hermione just couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that she was in some kind of morgue.

“I still don’t understand why we can’t just throw him in Azkaban while he’s out,” Ron mumbled, voice filled with bitterness.

Beside him, Harry frowned. “He hasn’t actually done anything wrong...”

The three stood around the single bed uncomfortably, shuffling their feet and staring at the unconscious Malfoy. These were the first words spoken in over an hour in the tiny hospital lodging, and it didn’t help quell the discomfort that lingered around the trio. Tension and curiosity were the themes of the afternoon, and they didn’t mix very well at all.

As Hermione’s brown gaze moved to Draco’s serene and sleeping face, memories of their hostile and seemingly useless interviews a year ago flooded back into mind. She had hoped to never see him again—they had released him on the premise that he was to never continue his little vigilantism charade. So what was he doing? Why was he here? Why had he been there? And what was he doing with that Thing?

On the small square table to her right, the Thing—the Cube, the Object—hummed faintly. She tore her eyes from the body and picked it up, studying it carefully under the sterile hospital light. The outer casing of the Object was clear, revealing a swirling blue mist beneath its walls that was ever shifting and changing. The humming increased in tone as she held it, yet it was just as elusive as the first time she picked it up in that stuffy, little interview room a year ago.

“Something doesn’t add up,” she mused aloud. “If this doesn’t do anything, why did he have it on him in Yaxley Manor?”

Harry slumped down in the armchair behind him, staring across the bed at Hermione and the ... Thing. He rubbed the lightening-shaped scar on his forehead, closing his eyes briefly. “I have no bloody idea. Do we know where Corner went?”

“I think the hype scared him away,” Ron answered. “Can’t really blame him.”

“See if you can find him.”

Harry didn’t take his eyes off Draco as Ron left the room, leaving them alone. Hermione could read the questions reflected plainly in his green eyes, but he only knew the half of it. Aurors like Harry and Ron never involved themselves in detective work—they had both gladly left that task to Hermione, as snooping and reading were her, to quote Ron, ‘favourite things to do’. And she didn’t deny it; Hermione loved her job. Unfortunately, though, as good as she was at investigating and interrogating, Hermione had discovered that this case couldn’t be solved by books or wit. It seemed whatever lead she had on Draco Malfoy, he was already one step ahead of her.

Or, more specifically, the Object was one step ahead of her.

She moved the small cube from one hand to the other, hoping that something might happen. She felt it warm in her palm.

“It’s glowing, surely it does something.”

Emotion barely flickered over Harry’s face when he answered. “He’s hiding something. He knows more than he’s letting on.”

“I would have found out if there was something, Harry,” Hermione said with a sigh. They had been through this many times.

“He’s always hiding something,” Harry mumbled, ignoring her. “Don’t you remember—”

“Sixth year; yes, Harry.” Hermione rolled her eyes, placing the Object back down. “You told me about him nearly every day that year—but I would know if he had been hiding something now.”

She bit her lip. That last part had been a little lie, but Harry thankfully nodded in agreement, oblivious to the untruth of her statement.

The truth was that Draco had changed—she wasn’t sure what had happened, but the man was smarter, stronger, quicker and more talented than he had ever let on in school. And it wasn’t just that she hadn’t noticed his cleverness before—the Vanishing Cabinet/Death Eater scenario in their sixth year had been a stroke of dark genius. But now, it was as if he was no longer a ‘Dark’ genius-wizard, but a good—

No, shut up, Hermione. Malfoy is evil and a git. Git, git, git—

“... tonight?”

Hermione’s head snapped up at the sound of Harry’s voice. She blushed a deep crimson, hating that she was caught off-guard thinking about Malfoy.

“Um.” He was staring at her with the most intense look she had ever seen. “... What?”

“Ron said you two were going for dinner tonight?”

Hermione tried to hold back the groan that was bubbling up her chest, colour quickly draining from her cheeks. She had been waiting with dread for this conversation.

“We both cancelled.”

“Why?” Harry asked, annoyance obvious. “Why do you two always do this?”

And so began another long-winded explanation from Hermione. She had been through it so many times before, it was like Harry went home and oblivated his own memory every night, just to ask the same question the next day. She understood he did it because he loved them both, but the truth was that her and Ron wanted to go separate ways—she wanted to focus on her work at the Ministry, and Ron was contemplating leaving the Ministry for travel and his older brother’s joke shop. It was impractical for them to be together now—she knew it, Ron knew it, and Harry refused it. Every. Single. Time.

“... so we just thought it would be better if we went separate ways,” she rambled. She was holding the Object again, turning it over and over in her hand to avoid Harry’s severe gaze. She could feel her cheeks reddening. “It’s not a bad thing, Harry, and you never know what will happen in the future—”

“Touching, Granger; truly touching. Now. Hand. Over. The. Object.”

Hermione gasped, almost dropping the Cube in her hands on the tiled floor and shattering it to pieces. She slowly raised her head, confronted by the cold, unnerving grey gaze of Draco Malfoy. In his hand he had hold of his wand, and he was pointing it directly at her heart.

Her next breath came out in a low, nervous hiss.

“Drop the wand, Malfoy,” Harry growled behind him. His own wand was pressed into the back of Draco’s neck, face darkening with anger.

The blood-splattered blonde smirked. “It would seem we’re at an impasse, Saint Potter,” he drawled, spitting the last word contemptuously. “If the Muggle-born gives me the Object, I’ll answer any questions she has.”

Hermione’s horrified eyes travelled to Harry, who gave one nod of assurance before she looked back to Draco. He lay on his side, propped up on one arm and looking terrifyingly worse for wear. His eyes, nose and arms were covered in deep purple bruises, occasionally tinged with a bloody red scratch. He kept his wand poised at her heart, though his arm was shaking heavily from the strain of holding it up.

Tentatively, she passed the Object over to him. Draco snatched it from her, quick as a snake’s strike and causing her to jump in surprise. He shoved the hand that held it and his wand under the sheets, expression changing from anger to relief in a matter of milliseconds.

Draco fell on his back, sinking into the pillow and sighing in pain. Harry lowered his wand as he watched him apprehensively, realising that the man would struggle uttering a curse, let alone carrying it out.

“So,” Harry said, eyes not leaving Draco’s form. “You’ll answer our questions, Malfoy?”

It was some time before he answered. The question weighed heavy in the air, tentative and delicate, yet the tension was suffocating. Draco kept his eyes closed, lying on his back and draping one arm across his bandaged chest. His breathing had become shallow and his skin was all shades of pale beneath the bruises. Hermione wasn’t sure if interrogating him now was the best course of action while on his deathbed, but Harry was determined.

“No,” Draco whispered finally, barely opening his eyes.

Hermione didn’t have much time to feel anger towards the broken promise as, in a blink, Harry had raised his wand and pressed it into Malfoy’s face. The room felt as though it was on fire, and she was surprised that the curtains had not yet erupted from the tension.

“Answer the questions, Malfoy, or I’ll charge you for lying to a Ministry official!”

Draco still did not open his eyes as the wand pressed further into his cheek. His mouth did not twitch and he lay completely still. Harry and Hermione weren’t quite sure how to react to this lack of ... everything.

They glanced at each other nervously, both wondering if they should retrieve a Healer.

Draco then spoke: “Saint Potter.” It was accompanied by a light chuckle that ended in a wince.

“Harry.” Hermione was shuffling on the spot, unsure what to say. An idea had struck her, but she wasn’t sure how her childhood friend would react to it. “Um... Maybe its best if you just leave me to ask the questions.”

“What?” Harry looked up so fast, his glasses almost slipped off his nose. The wand remained pressed into Draco’s face, who now looked as though he had fallen asleep.

She cleared her throat nervously, scratching her chest and fiddling with the pendant that was draped around her neck. “And ... leave us alone.”

If Harry looked shocked before, it was nothing to how he was looking now. “I’m not leaving you alone with this ...” He searched for the word, but upon finding none prudent enough for the scenario, settled on a, “I’m not leaving.”

“Please.” She was practically begging him now. She knew the only way to get even the slightest bit of information out of the war-torn blonde lay in Harry not being present. There was too much history between them, and Hermione had already questioned Draco before. They had not made peace (that was never even a possibility, and never would be), but they were at least more civil than this. “It’s fine. It’s my job.”

Harry’s stance faltered but he did not move.

“Please,” she repeated, more firmly.

With a heavy sigh, the man begrudgingly pocketed his wand and circled around the bed. He paused beside Hermione, turning his back on Draco and looking towards the door.

“I’ll be outside.”

“I know,” she replied, smiling as reassuringly as she could.

“You just call—”

“Harry,” she interrupted. “I know.”

He gave a curt nod, casting one more disdainful glance towards Draco and disappeared out the door. It closed with a bang and the small hospital room shook. Draco’s eyes did not open.

Unsure what to do now, as she was sure the man was asleep and she wasn’t particularly interested in poking that dragon, Hermione walked to the foot of his bed. She grabbed the clipboard the Healer had left there, flicking through the pages of graphs until she came to the statements of his condition. It had been filled out by the Auror Michael Corner, yet there were big red circles over the injuries described, no doubt drawn by the Healer.

10:21 AM, Saturday. Michael Corner, Auror.

Found Draco Malfoy in the basement underground of Yaxley Manor. Was being interrogated by 2 thugs (working for [name unknown?]). Objects found on scene include 2 wands, 7” Yew, unicorn hair and 14” Ashwood, dragon heartstring. Also 3ft long metal bat, stained with blood.
Malfoy had trouble standing and walking. Lost a considerable amount of blood from broken nose and a broken jaw. Bruises and lacerations from waist up, particularly to face. Observed to be from bat—


“Granger.”

Hermione gasped at the sound of her surname, dropping the clipboard on the tiled floor with a deafening clang. She looked up to see Draco sitting in his bed, pain etched visibly in his eyes from the effort. Yet, to her disgust, he still managed to smirk at her reaction.

On his lap sat the Object. Its hum echoed through the room.

She straightened herself, brushing down her robes and looking at him with disapproval. “You said you would answer our questions, Malfoy.”

“I said I would answer your questions, Granger,” he replied, not taking his grey eyes off her as she circled around the bed and sat in the armchair beside him. Her hand was in her pocket, gripping her wand tight. “And I suppose you want to know about this?”

He grabbed the Object and held it up to her, as if it was something of similar importance to an ingot of gold. Hermione stared at it, before he quickly put it back on his lap.

She blinked. “You’ll answer my questions?”

“Since I’m under no obligation, I’ll answer what questions I want to,” he drawled, watching her with vague amusement.

Hermione folded her arms. “Believe it or not, Malfoy, but these questions are going to help you. We—the Ministry—want to find out who did this to you.”

“I don’t need your help.”

“Of course you don’t,” she snapped sarcastically, rolling her eyes. “If you’re going to be like that then, could you at least tell me why you were in Yaxley Manor?”

The change Draco's features underwent were dramatic. All smugness and confidence was wiped away and replaced with a look of utter horror and surprise. His lips parted slightly, and his eyes widened to the point of dinner plates.

“I ... I was in Yaxley’s Manor?”

Hermione had never heard Draco’s voice so weak before—it was barely a whisper, and he swallowed heavily, looking down to the Object. A flash of anger passed quickly over his features, before disappearing.

“You didn’t know?” Hermione asked softly.

She was not concerned about Draco’s well-being, but she knew the stakes of this conversation. She had to be very careful to make sure Draco didn’t get the upper hand on her—that was where she had failed in their interviews last year, and she was not willing to let that happen again. She—the Ministry—needed to know what the Object was and what Draco’s intentions were.

“Yaxley’s dead,” he said, ignoring her. His tone was not filled with concern anymore, but rippling with anger. “Yaxley is dead, and those two didn’t know what the Object did, but Yaxley had—”

He stopped, snapping his head up and staring at Hermione with a look that told her he had forgotten she was there. His lip curled.

“I think that’s enough, Granger,” he sneered, annoyed at himself.

“No!” she squeaked, despite the voice in her head telling her to remain calm. She was so close. “What two? The ones that did this to you? Did they work for Yaxley—”

“Granger.” His eyes flashed dangerously. “Too many questions. Go find Potty and Weasel to entertain you. I think we’re done here.”

His smug voice had her hands shaking with anger and her face was colouring a deep red beneath her bushy hair. She told herself that anger and losing control of her emotions were not the best way a Ministry representative could behave, but Draco was just so infuriating.

“I’m trying to help you!” she screeched, unable to stop her emotions from pouring out.

“For the last time, I don’t need your help, Mudblood,” he replied coolly.

She ignored the callous insult, rubbing her eyes and murmuring incoherently under her breath. Draco leaned in close, attempting to try and catch her words.

“... didn’t know he was in the manor, two people tortured him ... Carrying the Object on his person, was kidnapped. Was kidnapped and tortured for the Object? Or tortured for what the Object does...? Yaxley is dead and he had something—”

She looked up at him, eyes widening with surprise and face breaking into a radiant smile.

Concern flashed over the blonde’s features. “Don’t—”

“It’s too late!” she squealed gleefully, jumping from her seat and running to the door.

A flurry of movement sounded behind her. “If you leave this room, I swear on my dead father’s grave, I will kill you, Granger.”

Hermione froze, hand hovering above the handle of the door. Her heart was thumping against her ribcage, and her breathing increased with his threatening words. She hesitated slightly, glancing back towards Draco nervously. He was alert, with his wand pointed at her yet again. his face a mask of hatred and worry.

But it was more worry.

Hermione smiled at him. “Save it, Malfoy.”

With that, the witch hurried out of the room, slamming the door as loudly as she could. Draco’s head rang from the noise and he fell back into his pillow, closing his eyes and cursing loudly.




A/N: Thank you so much again to the lovely Debra20!

Chapter 3: Memento Mori
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

January 12, 2000
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Investigation Department, Tape #2
Interviewer: Hermione Jean Granger
Suspect: Draco Lucius Malfoy

Draco: Don’t you find it amusing, that even though the man is
dead, he still makes you all so panicky?

Hermione: This has nothing to do with your father, Malfoy. He was in possession of numerous Dark artefacts, before and after his death, and this Object of yours is very suspicious.

D: So it’s done something to suss you out, then?

H: I ... No, not exactly.

D: I see. It’s just because it
belonged to him, is it?

H: No!—I!—Ugh, it is
because when you received it, your actions towards the Ministry were unsavoury, Malfoy!

D: Pfft! So, what are you going to do, Granger? Arrest me for saving the lives you Aurors couldn’t get to in time? You do realise all the hostages I rescued would have died, right? Or are you going to arrest me because of an inheritance?

H: There will be no
need, if you just tell us what The Object does.

- End of Tape –





3. Memento Mori


9th of February

He dreamed of a time before his silver eyes could barely gaze over the top of his father’s desk. His tiny hands gripped the wooden edges, and his knuckles turned white from the effort of him pulling his small form up. He saw a mass of papers, books, quills and documents, but that wasn’t what he was looking for. Straining his neck, he pushed himself higher, smiling when he saw it—the Object. Swirling and humming quietly in the office, it looked just like his father’s Pensive.

Lucius Malfoy looked up from
The Daily Prophet to see his son standing at the end of the desk. He smiled at the sight of him and laughed under his breath before turning back to the paper.

“Daddy, can I touch it?” Draco asked, trying his best to stretch out his arm. “It’s too far away.”

“You can’t touch it, Draco,” Lucius drawled. “We have spoken of this before.”

“But Dad! You can touch it! You love it!”

He looked up from the paper again, just in time to watch as his son lost his balance and fell. The five-year-old’s head slipped forward, smacking the bridge of his nose on the large mahogany table with a
bang. The predictable tears immediately filled his eyes, and he gripped his face in his tiny hands, sobbing from the pain.

Lucius jumped up so fast, it was as if his robes were on fire. He swept down, taking his son into his arms and checking his face closely. A bruise was forming on his pale nose, but he was unharmed.

Minutes trickled by and after a little rocking, Draco had stopped crying. He felt warm and safe in his father’s muscular arms, and buried his face in his long blonde hair. The smell was familiar, secure, strong.

Wiping away his tears on his father’s expensive black robes, Lucius took Draco outside on the office balcony. They stayed huddled together for sometime before Lucius finally spoke.

He pointed up to the sky. “Draco, do you see those stars there?”

The young boy squinted up into the liquid black. “I see stars everywhere!”

“Here.” Lucius grabbed his tiny hand, guiding it across a small section of the sky. “There. Those stars make up the dragon. Or—” he dropped his son’s hand, smiling down at him “—Draco.”

“I’m a star?” His voice rose from the excitement, and Lucius laughed.

“You’re a lot of stars.” He looked down to see the young boy grinning from ear-to-ear. Sadness flickered across Lucius’ face briefly. “That Cube on my desk is not nearly as important to me as those stars are, Draco. Remember that.”

...

“... Draco.”


Draco ...

Breathe.

...

In... Out...

... In.


His eyes snapped open. The world around him still existed. Just. A sigh escaped his lips.

He was staring at a plain white ceiling, and in the distance he could hear the sounds of trolleys being pushed across tiled ground. Hurried footsteps echoed outside his door, voices drifting through the cracks—a structural weakness. He could hear everything.

He shivered. Though he was wrapped tight in a mix of sheets and blankets, he was still freezing cold. He did not know why. His heart had settled into a monotonic dread, and he was still, unmoving.

For what felt like an age, the twenty-two year old man just laid there, existing. If it was not for the tears that streamed freely down his face and onto the pillow, it would be easy to mistake him for a statue in the mess of a hospital bed.

But he was not a statue. He was not relieved of feeling. Underneath his skin, his muscle, and bone, his chest was aching. It was breaking in two, falling through the bed, the floor, the ground, right into the Earth’s core. Was he in Hell? He did not know. Was he still asleep? He didn’t have the answer to that either.

The memory was still fresh on his mind, and the dream played out before him like a picture in the Prophet.

“The cube on my desk is not nearly as important to me as those stars are, Draco...”


His father’s cool drawl repeated itself over and over in his head. Draco closed his eyes.

Dammit, father! Help me! You know I’m useless without your guidance—for Merlin’s sake, look at me! I almost died yesterday...

The door of his hospital lodging was pushed forward, flooding him with the loud ruckus of the infirmary outside. His eyes opened, and he tilted his head to watch as a small, stout woman backed in through the archway, towing a trolley full of potions. She paused to close the door, smiling when she saw him looking at her.

“You’re awake, dear,” she said, surprised. “I hope you had an alright sleep?”

Draco grunted some form of agreement before rolling over and squeezing his eyes shut, mind racing with thoughts.

Am I going crazy? I can’t be. That was not just a dream. I was definitely there.
A vision, perhaps?
No, no, I have to be going crazy.
... But, it was all so vivid—the Object, the sky... Father.
Father.
Dammit you insufferable old man, tell me what it means! Why did you die? Why do I have this... Thing?


The old lady continued to hurry around the room, before finally sighing and resting her hands on her rounded hips. Her blue eyes smiled when Draco opened his eyes to look at her.

“You’re fine to go, doll. A few bruises are still on your chest and back, but for the most part, you’re alright.”

Draco cocked his head towards her. “Thank you.”

The woman then left the room without closing the door, instantly lost in the sea of patients, Healers and visitors that streamed by. Draco couldn’t help but feel the pang of annoyance.

This is obviously my subtle invitation to leave immediately. Probably for the best.

The man sighed loudly, readying himself to leave the safety of the hospital bed, when a small knock sounded on the open door. Draco looked up to see Michael Corner standing in the archway, hands shoved deep in his pockets and a small smile shadowing the corners of his mouth.

He bowed slightly at Draco, taking the bowler hat off his head and walking up to the blonde. “Glad to see you’re up,” he said cheerfully.

“Yes.” Draco stood, trying his best to not make eye-contact with the Auror who had saved his life. He was not a man who liked to be in debt, especially to a Ministry official. “I suppose you’re here to ask more questions, Corner? I’ve already told Potter and Granger there’s nothing more they need to know.”

Michael blinked slowly in response to this, watching Draco as he marched over to the door. The blonde knew what the Auror was staring at; much to his displeasure (could people not be more considerate?). Nevertheless, he tried his best to not draw attention to it, however hard it was. The damn thing was right there.

With a sigh, he grabbed a common white robe off the hook on the wall, shrugging it over his shoulders effortlessly. The mysterious and haunting Dark Mark disappeared beneath the fabric, hiding his buried past once more. He remembered seeing his father repeat the same process many times before in his youth.

Michael cleared his throat loudly then, and Draco turned to face him. The blonde could instantly tell from his awed expression he had never actually seen a Dark Mark before; but auspiciously, the topic was not to be discussed.

“Actually... I came here to say sorry, Malfoy.”

Draco raised his eyebrows. “Come again?” he asked coolly.

The Auror scratched his shoulder, looking slightly uncomfortable. “Yeah, well ... Let’s just say I feel pretty bad for not telling you that I was going to chain you up back at ... ah... shit this is awkward.”

Before then, Draco had forgotten all about the betrayal of Michael Corner in Yaxley Manor. He rubbed his wrists, bitterly remembering the tight chains that had held him captive.

Ah, yes. My ‘saviour’ imprisoned me... Well, I guess we’re even then, Corner...
Huh. That makes me a lot happier than it really should.


Running a hand through his hair, Draco attempted to shrug nonchalantly. “You were just doing your job.”

Something flashed across Michael’s features, and he scoffed loudly, turning around and walking to the small window. The morning sun was struggling to break through the heavy cloud coverage, bathing London in its usual depressing, grey shroud. Snowflakes fell slowly from the heavens, and Draco watched from his position at the door as Michael bowed his head and sighed.

“Turns out I didn’t do it properly enough—one of the fellas with me told the boss I didn’t cuff you straight away. I’m suspended for two weeks... Shit. I can never just follow the fucking rules.”

He continued to murmur under his breath, the sadness evident in his voice. Draco stood awkwardly to the side, pulling his robes tight over his bare chest and folding his arms.

Damn, not sure where to go with this one. Is it my fault? Wait, no, how could it be! I don’t even know the protocol on all this red tape crap! It’s in no way my fault.

Ugh. Then why the hell am I feeling so guilty?


Uncomfortably, Draco cleared his throat, and Michael spun around with a jump, eyes widening.

“Shit, sorry Malfoy, I was just talking to myself, never mind.”

Michael shoved his hat on his head, walking forwards to head out the door. Before he left however, he paused, eyes drifting to the bedside table. He wandered over to it casually, picking something up and taking it over to Draco.

He held out his hand, and Draco looked down to see the Object resting on his palm.

“Almost forgot it,” Michael said with a small smile.

Draco took it, shoving it deep into his robe pocket. “Thanks.”

“I’ll see you around, mate.”

Michael walked past him with another nod.

That’s it; just let the problem walk away. You’re too busy to deal with emotions, aren’t you, Malf? You’re just here to save lives—then you can go home and wash your hands of it all. Just like what everybody expects of an ex-Death Eater.

“Wait,” Draco resigned, holding out his arm and stopping Michael from leaving.

Ah, the conscious has appeared yet again.

The Auror paused, looking over at him in puzzlement. Draco swept to the bed, reaching under the sheet and retrieving his wand from its hiding place. Opening his hand, he tapped the tip of the stick on his palm. A small, white card appeared, fine black writing scribbling itself on the surface.

President Draco Malfoy
Board of Directors
Malfoy Apothecary
Fireplace 4, Lucius Malfoy’s office, Wiltshire


“I could use people who don’t listen to the rules,” he said, walking over and handing the card to Michael.

The man stared at the black and emerald crest on the business card, the large ‘M’ catching in the light and shining in his eyes. He frowned slightly. “In an Apothecary?”

Annoyance flicked over Draco’s face, but it was gone as quick as it came. “You know what I really do, Corner. Deliberate on it. You know where to find me when you’re done.”

Without another word, Draco left the man standing in the small hospital room. Michael did not move as Healers spilled through the door, bustling about to change the sheets for the next patient. Running his thumb across the card, he felt the fine bumps of the dragons and snakes that twined around the elaborate Malfoy family crest, his mind wandering far, far away from St. Mungo’s.


* * *


His repetitive knocks on the door sounded heavily around the whole manor, and for good reason. The snowflakes that had begun falling to the ground innocently when he had left the hospital had now started an army, and the snowstorm was unrelenting in its force. Gritting his teeth, Draco shivered, pulling the robe tight around his bare torso for some warmth. There was none, and he cursed under his breath.

Salazar, this is ridiculous. I’m pretty sure my limbs are going to fall off soon. Of course, out of all the robes the hospital leaves for patients, they get the cheapest one’s they can find. Thank you, St. Mungo’s.

A small squeak behind the closed doors had him looking up with relief. He watched as a thin shadow passed over the light that leaked through the cracks.

“Mister Malfoy must give Pokey the password, sir!” came a shrill, sentient voice.

All relief drained out of him fast. Draco growled, not taking his eyes off the giant ‘M’ that adjourned the door. “Pokey, it is fucking freezing out here. Open the door.”

“The password, sir!” the house-elf repeated.

“It’s my manor!”

“Missus Greengrass Astoria said that Pokey must not open the door to Masters that do not knows the passwords, Sir,” explained the elf.

Usually Draco would have found the whole situation slightly comical, but he was sure that his fingers weren’t meant to be turning that colour of purple. He was also quite worried about the fact he couldn’t feel his toes in his shoes, or the numbness of the tip of his newly repaired nose.

“Other people, Pokey! Not Draco: others!” he snapped, banging on the door loudly again. When he heard no movement on the other side, he let out a sigh of begrudging acceptance. “I don’t know the password, Pokey... How—damn, this is so stupid. It’s my house.”

“Yes. It looks cold out there, Sir.”

I will kill—Look, okay, I don’t have the password. How about you ask me something that only I would know?”

“Like what, Sir?” came the squeak.

“I ... I don’t know. Something.”

There was a small silence, then: “What were the last words Masters Lucius Malfoy says to Master Draco?”

The change he felt was remarkable. It was as if the whole world had just landed itself on Draco’s shoulders. He staggered slightly to the side, holding his arm out and catching the wall to steady himself. The ‘M’ on the door glinted in the slither of light from the windows around, taunting and teasing him as his brain emptied itself of all thought. The hollow emotions he had woken up with flooded back, and he struggled for a breath.

“Master Draco?”

Draco shuddered at the sound of his name, and closed his eyes. Underneath his robes, he was still shivering, but it was no longer from the cold outside. He leaned forward, touching his forehead on the door and sighing.

“Pokey I ... I don’t remember.”

I don’t remember. I. Don’t. Remember.

When had this all happened to him? Had he really grown so distant from his father before his death that he only had memories from his childhood—one’s that he actually dreamed about? He sneered. Dreams were flights of fancy—dreams were not fit for a Malfoy. It was in no way his fault that he did not remember his father’s last words; if anything, surely it was Lucius’. It was his fault they became estranged before his death. It was his fault Draco had fixated on redemption and salvation and revenge.

... But was it?

“Draco?”

He turned at the sound of his own name, surprised to see Astoria standing at the foot of the patio, smiling at him. Her usually pale cheeks were coloured pink from the cold, as was her small button nose, and she glowed with radiant beauty, as always. The sight of her shed all thoughts of his father from his mind, and he was filled with a much more familiar, comforting and out-of-place emotion.

Anger.

“You look cold,” she said.

Draco pointed at her, sweeping forward and jabbing a finger in her chest. She displayed no fear and did not flinch, but her smile had quickly vanished.

You,” he seethed. “Where. Were. You.”

Her baby-blue eyes flashed menacingly as she looked up to his towering form, and she bat his hand away from her. “I should be asking the same of you!”

He sneered. “I was right in front of you.”

“Clearly not,” she scoffed. “You were there, but as soon as you rounded the corner, you disappeared on me!”

Draco swallowed, trying his best to think back to the time before Isobel and Artemis caught him. All he could remember however was being extremely cold as he walked down the damp London alleyway, and then ... nothing. It was like he had lost his memory.

Maybe they took it from me.

He sighed, suddenly loosing all his will to fight. He ran a hand through his hair. The whole topic was still too fresh a wound, and he was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable.

“I... don’t remember what happened.”

“I was really worried about you, Draco.” Her hostile tone had dropped, and she looked down to her feet briefly. “We all were. You’re looking miserable. Are you okay?”

“It’s fine,” he replied. “You can make it up to me by opening this goddamn door.”

She frowned. “What do you mean? And”—a smile danced on her pink lips—“why don’t you have a shirt?”

He grunted, looking down at his naked torso. “Turns out the hospital doesn’t get enough tax to lend their patients t-shirts.”

Astoria’s frown deepened at this, and she extended a hand out towards him. Her fingers hesitated, a hair’s breadth from his chest before she brushed the hem of his robe aside. The white gown slipped off one shoulder, revealing the whole of his black-and-blue torso.

A small gasp escaped her lips. “Draco...” Her voice was barely a whisper. “What... what happened?”

He caught her wrist, stopping her hands from going further and finding the ghastly bruises that covered his back.

“It’s nothing.”

She looked up at him, her blue eyes swimming with doubt. For an age, there was no sound from the man or woman, other than the steady, comforting rhythm of their breathing. Draco did not let go of her wrist. He was not sure why he held it there or what he was doing—perhaps he just loved the softness of her skin, or its incredible warmth beneath his touch.

But whatever it was, it had him entranced in those moments. Her chest grazed his torso as he moved closer, and Draco was sure that if he had not had a hold of her, he would have lost all spatial awareness. He could slowly feel himself sinking down—slipping, sliding, melting—into her blue eyes, and he did not want to stop.

A sigh escaped, and he leant down, connecting his lips with hers like he had always done. Draco’s limbs immediately erupted with a fire, searing his skin with the warmth. She was glorious, familiar, beautiful, and soft—oh, so soft. He was caught in a blissful and amazing state of happiness—one he was sure he had not encountered in months. Draco was prepared to stand on that patio with her forever—through the snow, the rain, the sun and wind. He was prepared to conquer the world with her.

He was ready for it all, until, she pulled away.

Astoria’s cheeks were burning, and she buried her face behind her golden locks. “Draco...”

Oh, Merlin, what did I just do.

Shame compounded, and all elation was quickly gone. He opened and closed his mouth, but nothing, nothing, could even begin to explain how disgraceful he felt in those moments.

“Tori...” he started.

He watched the top of his ex-girlfriend’s head, wishing beyond everything he could just melt into the wall behind him and never come out. The words he wanted to say to her weren’t coming, and he just stood there numbly, mouth agape.

Finally, he managed to rasp: “I’m so sorry.”

She cleared her throat nervously, before brushing past him lightly and knocking on the door.

Memento Mori, Pokey,” she said quietly. She was inside before another word could be spoken.

Shit. What is wrong with me today?

He had done it. He had wrecked the only thing the two previous lovers had agreed on during their break up. A secretive contract—vow, if you will—to never, ever reopen that old wound. And he had just opened it with renewed vigour.

And it had been incredible.

Draco continued to face away from the house, watching as the snowstorm retreated across the countryside beyond the Manor grounds. With a defeated sigh, he squeezed his eyes shut, not even remembering why he had been standing out there in the first place.

* * *


The old rose bush stretched out beyond the window, disappearing into the forest of trees ahead. Daphne Greengrass paused in her work to overlook the enormous back garden of the Manor, illuminated by the fan of sunlight that had broken through the clouds above. The snowstorm had eased now, and she smiled to herself.

Turning back to her workbench, Daphne’s hands moved across the table in familiar and sure movements. She held her wand in her right hand, tapping miscellaneous items with a murmur and nodding to herself. Minutes passed, and a humming escaped her lips. She danced across the room to a pile of boxes in the back corner, every movement as fluid and confident as the last.

Draco watched her from the open door, arms folded and leaning leisurely against the archway. His silver gaze snaked around the room, taking in the haphazard boxes and bookshelves with disdain. There was barely any room to walk across the area, but Daphne paid it no mind, skipping through the piles of papers, and Muggle ornaments from Cho, to jump on her bed in the corner.

She looked at him, smile dancing in her blue eyes. “You’re looking better,” she complimented.

“Yes, it’s amazing what a shower can do.”

And it was amazing. The black Muggle suit he wore was by no means the best in his cupboard, but it might as well have been made from the world’s finest silk after his scratchy hospital robes. He had even donned a tie for the evening, just to complete the set and give himself a little confidence. He was sure part of his spirit was still residing in Yaxley Manor.

Draco strolled casually over to Daphne’s workshop in the middle of the room. “Chang said you had been working on something.”

Daphne jumped off the bed, blonde curls bouncing merrily out of her messy ponytail. He couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm as she walked over.

“Well, we were so worried when you disappeared on Astoria in that alleyway,” Daphne said with all the tone as if she were talking of the weather outside. “So, I made this.”

She waved her wand and the mess of papers on her desk shot up in the air, before all zooming to the corner and stacking neatly in a pile. Miscellaneous items were revealed underneath it all—things Draco was sure Daphne had not seen in a few weeks. Smile growing wider, she then picked up a little ear bud-shaped object off the surface of the oak workbench.

She held it out to Draco.

“What is it?” he asked, taking it from her and examining it in the candlelight. It was unimpressive by sight; definitely an ear bud, bright orange and soft to hold. He squished it between his thumb and forefinger.

“‘What are they?’” she corrected, giving her wand another wave.

The box at the end of her bed lifted off the ground and soared towards them. He was about to grab it out of the air when it tipped upside down, spilling more and more of the tiny objects all over the desk. They collided with one another, bouncing and rolling across the surface of the bench and scattering across the ground.

Draco blinked in surprise, and Daphne frowned.

“Huh. Probably didn’t need to make so many,” she said. Noticing Draco’s frown, she took the ear bud from his hand, slipping it into her ear. “Cho and I named them MCRs—Magical Communication Receivers. They’re based off this thing Muggles use—radios, I think Cho called them. Theirs are much more complex though, I just took the end off them and performed a little enchantment.” She tapped the thing in her ear, beaming. “Anyone who wears them will be able to talk to anyone else who wears them, etcetera. I’m still working on it to make it group exclusive—though I doubt anyone else will have them...”

She picked another one off the desk and passed it over to Draco. He looked at it suspiciously.

“They’re a Muggle invention?”

Daphne rolled her eyes at his blatant Muggle-phobia, but reassured him, “Trust me, Muggle ones have many more wires—er, strings. If they saw something like this, they would only throw it away.”

Satisfied with her reply, he took it from her, putting it in his ear. Daphne then spoke, but it wasn’t like normal; her voice was right there, inside of his head. He could her every inflection perfectly.

“Now if you ever go missing again,” her voice said through the receiver, “we can constantly stay in communication and know where you are.”

Draco blinked, a slow, radiant smile making its way across his face. He took the bud out of his ear, bringing the tiny witch into a hug. It wasn’t the most subtle way to express his gratitude, but he wasn’t sure what else to do. He was certain Daphne had just saved all their lives—the effect these things would have on all their futures would be crucial to their work.

“You always know how to make things better. You are brilliant,” he said into her hair.

She giggled, but her voice was filled with sadness when she spoke. “Yeah, well ... We really thought we lost you back there, Malf. I had to do something.”

They pulled apart, Draco’s eyes drifting across all the buds on the desk. She watched him as his hand hovered over the little pieces, brain obviously thinking overtime as he stood there.

“I need six of them,” he said eventually.

“Already?” she asked. She grabbed a small handful and passed them over. “You’re sure you don’t want to ... y’know... relax first?”

Draco’s features darkened as he took the buds from her. “I think I'm close to knowing where another one is,” he said.

It was all he needed to say.




A/N: Memento Mori (Remember Death; remember that you are mortal), is a tribute to the amazing fanfiction of the same name by coffeecupcakegirl.


Chapter 4: Meeting Old Friends
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Excerpt from ‘The Quibbler’, 8th of February 2001
HEAD OF AURORS IMPERIUSED??
By Elanor Elrose
Wendell Anderson, head of the Aurors and second to the Minister of Magic, still avoids answering the public about the lack of investigations concerning the Azkaban breakout of December 1999. Five previous Death Eaters, including the Longbottom torturer Rodolphus Lestrange, are still on the loose—however, Anderson claims that these men are ‘old’ and ‘probably not hostile if they aren’t approached’.
“Just contact the Ministry right away if you see them,” Anderson said the other day as he left his luxury manor in Surrey.
The Ministry claims that there are more pressing matters for the Aurors to look into, but the threat is still out there. The lack of attention that Anderson has put into this case has left other Auror’s and citizen’s questioning the allegiance of this influential man.

It is rumoured that Draco Malfoy and a group of vigilantes are looking into the whereabouts of these Death Eaters, but is this really enough?





4. Meeting Old Friends



10th of February

It was cold and dark. Hermione Granger walked down the stony corridor, taking each turn with a wary step. Her wand was poised in front of her to light the path, but the dark was thick, swallowing her flame and heightening her fear.

Something was not right. Hermione could feel it. Her heart picked up its pace, and her breathing escaped in short, fearful gasps. It took all of her willpower to not turn and run—forget the whole thing and just go back to her work. Sit at her desk with her peacock quill and photograph of her, Harry and Ron. She would leave the office at approximately half past one for a lunch break, and sit beside the golden fountain in the Ministry’s foyer with her simple cheese sandwich. It was dull and boring and routine. It was everything she didn’t want, and everything she did.

With a deep breath, Hermione shoved the thoughts to the back of her mind and took another step forward. She was far in now—how far, she did not know. She realised that her hands were shaking vigorously with dread and anticipation. Deep down, she had hoped to come across a door leading to the outside—an escape, where she could leave and laugh the whole ordeal off, pretending she never got this stupid idea. She was crazy, right? What could Malfoy possibly have connections to here? Hermione nearly moaned aloud. She would be stuck in here forever, left to starve in this ridiculous maze—and that was if nobody found her. If somebody found her ...

She shuddered, shaking her head in an attempt to rid herself of the black-and-blue image of Draco Malfoy on the hospital bed. She would not let that happen to her. Rounding the corner, Hermione willed herself to think of the euphoria she would feel if this whole thing worked out. And for a beat—a blissful millisecond, a relieving step—she believed herself. She would finally be on her way to solving Draco Malfoy’s case.

“Well, well, well.”

Everything seemed to stand on edge for a second: the light from her wand was indignantly sharper, every slight sound—the short, soft rush of her breath, the increased boom, boom, boom of her heart, the barely audible rustle of her robes as she came to a halt—all rushed to the space where she stood, senses scrambling over one another for dominance.

Hermione’s hands began to shake, and she had barely any time to regain herself before her wand was cursed from her grasp. Then herself and the voice—cold, mocking, female—were plunged into the unforgiving darkness.


* * *



“The Underground of the manor should be just below us,” Draco said. Somewhere behind him, Astoria’s wandlight halted to a stop, and the steady sloshing of footsteps in the water quietened.

“Are you sure this time?” she asked doubtfully.

Of course not.

Draco inched near the wall, holding his own wand ahead and studying the door in front of him. It was made of metal, with a small plaque at eye-height supposedly to say where it lead—however, the letters were long faded. He looked purposely at the door, trying to not think about the substance squelching beneath his shoes as he shifted his weight from foot to foot with thought. Manor sewers collected everything around the grounds when it rained, from human waste to dead animals—and Yaxley manor’s sewer was clogged on this particular day, leaving the two ankle deep in thick brown water.

Draco was enjoying it just about as much as Astoria’s constant nagging. “Well, until your sister’s maps start working, we really have no choice but to see,” he snapped.

Daphne usually stayed home on missions, working her magic from afar with maps and information to pass onto Draco. She would normally give him all the details he needed before they left for a mission, but Draco was desperate to leave immediately on this particular morning. However, he was beginning to regret it; he felt naked without her back-up.

Astoria sloshed up next to him, eyeing the door warily. “I would rather not walk into a room full of thugs this time.”

“Accident,” he said bitterly, rubbing his hand across the plaque, desperate to find some clue. Let’s just hope that gas we threw at them is still working its magic and they haven’t awoken. “Last time I came here, I was passed out, remember?” he added defensively.

Astoria took a deep breath, reaching out and tugging the door open towards them. It creaked loudly in protest, swinging on its hinges and sloshing the thick mud all over their legs. Beyond was a small room, with nothing but a ladder disappearing down a hole in the ground.

Hmm, looks ominous. Then again, what’s a little danger?

“Well, the ladder goes down,” Astoria said. “You may be right this time.”

Draco gripped his wand tighter. “Someone may be expecting us.”

She nodded, stepping forward and turning towards him. Astoria then cautiously stepped backward on the ladder, grabbing the hinges so tight, her knuckles whitened. It squealed in protest as she eased her weight on it, and for a brief moment, Draco saw fear pass over her face. Then, she disappeared down.

“Draco, can you hear me? There’s a problem.”

Daphne and her worry voice. It crackled in his ear, and Draco felt his stomach clench with anxiety. He eyed the spot where Astoria vanished, mouth drier than the desert.

“I can hear you,” he replied.

“My maps have just started working—the Underground is right below you, and there are two hostiles in a room 10 metres to the left. And ...” She hesitated to a stop.

Draco licked his lips, walking to the hole in the ground and looking down. He could just make out Astoria’s wandlight and the top of her head, blonde hair shiny even in the dark. She looked up and waved him down.

“And?” he said, studying the ladder. It was sturdy enough. He stepped on the first rung, taking a deep breath when it creaked. He wished he hadn’t—his stomach swam with nausea from the putrid smell of the sewer.

“And... there’s... someone else.”

“A hostage?” Astoria asked.

“Unconfirmed, but they aren’t showing as hostile on my map. Be careful.” The line went dead.

Draco eased down the ladder surprisingly easily, landing with a jump next to Astoria. He waved his wand back and forth, studying their surroundings as best he could in the dull light. They stood at the end of a familiar corridor, which snaked ahead of them. The stone walls were lined with mould and a puddle of brown water lapped the bottom of their robes and shoes. The place smelt better than the sewer they were just in, but barely.

The scent of blood constricted Draco’s chest. “This is it,” he said confidently. He started to walk ahead, each step cautious.

“They have a hostage?” Astoria asked, trailing behind.

“I don’t know why you’re surprised.”

Odd, though. If these thugs are still taking hostages and actively looking for me, have they had somebody take Yaxley’s place? What have they done with his piece?

Perhaps I’m paranoid. Maybe he just left a plan for them.

Or not. Death Eaters aren’t
that smart.

Maybe... somebody else is though.


Draco paused by the door, feeling uneasy at the thought, and waited for Astoria to catch up. If Daphne’s sources and maps were correct, there was a hostage behind this door—a potential ally, making it vital that they approached with caution. He needed answers, and this was as close as he had ever been in a year-and-a-half.

And that meant dealing with the situation the only way he knew how.

Draco’s hand hovered above the door. Thugs and criminals were predictable, and from experience, he knew Yaxley’s ones weren’t particularly smart.

“What are you doing?” Astoria appeared beside him.

He looked down at her. Even in the dark, Draco could see her buzzing with adrenaline.

“We can’t give them a chance to hurt the hostage. On my count, we will go in. Don’t kill anyone.”

Astoria sighed, and Draco held back a chuckle. She was all sweet and innocent until a wand was in her hand. Two years of revenge had turned her into a hardened killer—and unfortunately, it had made her reckless on more than one occasion.

“I’m serious, Tori,” he warned. “There’s a—”

“Hostage.” She straightened herself and threw her shoulders back. “I know. I’m with you.”

They shared a glance. A wicked smile graced Astoria’s lips.

“Good. On one.” He took a deep breath ... “Three ... two ...” He placed his hand on the doorknob ... “ONE!”

He turned the handle, swinging the door open and sweeping into the room with Astoria close behind. They had entered a small square area. Much like the corridor outside, there was water on the floor, and the walls were covered in a thick, moss-like plant. Four lanterns were fixed on each wall, giving the room an eerie, faint glow. A desk was placed at the far back of the room with two familiar figures standing at each end, frozen in surprise. An occupied chair sat before them, but Draco was too distracted by the thugs to look at the woman there.

“Isobel and Artemis,” he said coolly, wand at the ready. Astoria hovered behind him, eyes flitting from person to person. “So you didn’t die... Interesting.”

“We thought you’d be back, Malfoy,” Isobel sneered, stepping forward into the dull light. Her sharp, fine features were as he remembered, and her red lips curved into a smile. “I’m glad I was not let down.”

“The man is expendable,” Draco said cryptically. His wand was aimed directly at Isobel’s heart, and he dared not take his eyes off hers.

As soon as the words left his mouth, Astoria was behind the giant figure of Artemis. Draco felt a flicker of worry as he saw her tiny form next to the enormous silhouette, but faded as Artemis sunk down to his knees. Astoria stood above him, wand wedged firmly in the back of his neck.

Isobel did not say a word, her eyes merely sharpening towards Astoria.

“Draco has questions. Answer, or ...” Astoria stared back at her, before whispering, “Crucio.

Artemis’ screams filled the tiny room instantly, bouncing of the walls and causing the lanterns to shake on their fixtures. Unnervingly, Astoria did not flinch. She held her wand steady, and kept her eyes on Isobel as the man before her began to writhe on the ground.

He screamed again, this time louder. A scream full of agony and pain.

Isobel blanched. “Stop,” she breathed.

Draco nodded at his companion and Astoria obliged. Artemis shakily stood, each movement accompanied with a heavy wince. He stared between both Isobel and Draco, before crying out as Astoria shoved her wand back in the crook of his neck.

Draco said calmly, “This time I’m not alone.”

“I see,” Isobel said, eyes trailing towards him. His wand was still pointed at her, and he could see the witch visibly falter. “I suppose you want the woman? You can have her. I didn’t realise you hired such useless people. She walked straight into our trap.”

Astoria started, but Draco raised his hand, palm facing outwards in a gesture to quieten her. He raised an eyebrow. “I did not send anyone.”

Curiously, he swept forward, footsteps echoing around the room. The whole place was buzzing with tension, and Draco was feeling more and more agitated and uneasy. He turned to the hostage. The woman was tied to the chair; her shoulders were slumped forward and her chin was on her chest. He was relieved to see the steady rise and fall of each breath.

Alive. Passed out, but alive. Wait ...

Draco could not see her face beneath a mass of hair, but he didn’t need to. The wild bushy curls, pale skin and neat, tidy robes—despite the disgusting place they occupied—told him exactly who she was.

He knelt in front of her, placing a finger beneath her chin and lifting her face upwards. Sure enough, it was Hermione Granger. Her deep brown eyes were hidden beneath closed, bruised lids, though it seemed to be more from a lack of sleep than abuse. A few scratches graced her pale face, but for the most part, she was thankfully unhurt.

“Couldn’t help snooping, could you, Granger?” he breathed out with a sigh.

He pulled his hand away and stood up, turning towards Isobel. She was watching him closely, a curious expression forming across her face.

“You don’t know her, then?” she asked.

Draco shrugged. “Personally, no. I’m surprised you don’t remember her though.”

“Don’t be cryptic,” Isobel snapped, hand inching towards her wand pocket. In the corner, Astoria shifted loudly, and Isobel sighed, hand falling to her side. “I don’t hope to best you.”

“It’s not me you should be worried about,” Draco taunted, gesturing towards Hermione. He smirked. “This woman is Hermione Granger, friend of Harry Potter and Ministry official.”

Isobel’s eyes widened. The woman seemed to age five years in the matter of five seconds. Her mouth formed a thin line, and crinkles revealed themselves at the corners of her eyes as she studied the woman in her chair.

“I thought she looked familiar,” she said wistfully. She then looked at Draco. “So the Ministry is on our backs, then—but why are you here?”

“The Object,” he said simply.

“Yes.”

“You don't know what it does. But do you have another piece?”

Isobel walked towards him, ignoring his wand pointed at her heart. She fiddled with a stray curl of hair that was draped over her shoulder and kept her other palm out, to show she was not armed. Her robes were low cut and tight around her form, distracting Draco momentarily as she moved forward. A cunning ploy—easy for her to move in and easy to distract those around her.

Don’t look, Malfoy. Get it together.

He tore his eyes from her chest.

“I don’t,” she breathed, inches from him now. When did she get so close? “It was stolen from us. Thieved, after Yaxley passed. That’s why I wanted you, Draco.” She touched his shoulder, fingering the silk lining of his robes. “You know it's powerful. I know it's powerful. We could work together, you know?”

He snatched her wrist, forcibly moving her hand away. “I’m not an idiot, woman. I still have the bruises you gave me from that damned bat. If you wanted to work with me that was not the way to do it.”

Draco did not know when it had happened, but his voice had dropped to barely a whisper. Isobel was so close to him that her lips brushed the bottom of his chin. Her hand was soft in his.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ve ... realised my... mistake. We could work together—combine our resources. We could find them all.”

A sound suggestion...

Wait, what is wrong with me? Don’t fall for that!


“We have different goals,” he spat through gritted teeth. He looked towards the lantern on the far wall, avoiding the captivating blue of her eyes. “We couldn’t—”

“You don’t know that.”

A breath. He could feel it tickling his chin. She eased her hand from his, and stroked his other arm, all the way down to the wand he held. He looked at Isobel as she looked up, and she smiled, her lips almost connecting with his ...

Something shadowed the corner of his eye, breaking Draco from his trance. With a cry, Isobel was pushed back forcefully, and Draco blinked in surprise, touching the part of his lip Isobel had nearly kissed.

Astoria was between him and the femme fatal, her wand pointed directly at Isobel’s chest.

“He is not yours,” she growled.

Draco’s hand dropped from his mouth, and he tried to clear his head. It swam with images of Isobel and Hermione and the Object and...

He clenched his fists. His hand was empty.

Isobel smiled. “No, he is not.”

She has my wand.

The effect was immediate. Astoria lunged forward, knocking Isobel back and engaging her in a duel. Draco barely had time to think of a plan before he was vehemently spun around, only to then be hoisted up by a hand wrapping around his neck. His windpipe shifted as it was crushed, and he found himself immediately gasping for air. His hands shot up, weakly scratching at the thick wrist before him.

Artemis’ cold, black eyes stared up at Draco above him. The giant grinned beneath his beard. “This time I won’t let ya go.”

Plan. Need a plan.

I need a ...

... something ...


His grip tightened. Draco lost all feeling. Vague images flashed before him as his mind emptied, yet only one stood out—the red beard of Artemis. He could feel his hands moving on instinct, trying to pry Artemis’s hand away, but they didn’t feel a part of him. A black door was closing in on his vision, and soon everything—every stimulus, from sound to vision—faded into the dark.


Draco’s head smashed on the floor. He knew it was the floor immediately as his mouth filled with a dirty brown liquid, and he was soaked from head to foot. His nose exploded against the stone ground, and his brain screamed in agony. Gasping for air, he crawled to his hands and knees. The sudden movement had his mind swimming, and he eased forward, vomiting on the floor.

One by one, pieces of the world began to fall back into place. He could see the outline of Astoria at the back of the room, illuminated by the curses that she and Isobel continued to hurl at each other. Behind him, somebody was shouting.

“... my wand on the table! Malfoy!”

Where am I?

Darkness was closing in. His hands were so cold.

“Malfoy!”

So tired. Just let me sleep.

His eyes were closing. It was so welcoming, the dark.

I just—

A scream.

Wake up.

He turned, eyes widening at the rising figure of Artemis behind Hermione’s chair. Something had thrown Artemis back, causing him to fling Draco across the room; but he was readying himself again. The witch was bound, screaming at Draco as she attempted to kick the giant down.

With a renewed vigour, Draco scrambled to his feet. He splashed his way across room, scooping Hermione’s wand off the desk. He turned just in time to send a curse at Artemis’s approaching form, where he froze before collapsing on the floor. His head smashed against the ground, thankfully knocking him out momentarily.

Draco rushed to Hermione’s side, tearing at the ropes that bound her to the chair. Once released, she shakily rose to her feet, before sinking to her knees and groaning in pain.

“They poisoned me,” she gasped, clutching her stomach. “Before you came.”

“You’ll be okay.” He knelt beside her. “Before you pass out, Granger, tell me why the fuck you're here.”

She stared at him. He could see the pain hazing her vision. She asked, “Why are you here?”

He didn’t answer.

Draco’s eyes wandered to Artemis’s stirring body, and without a second thought, he grabbed Hermione’s arm, flinging it over his shoulder. He guided her to the back of the room, and eased her on the ground.

Her eyes fluttered closed.

He turned and ran back over to Artemis. The man was on his hands and knees, attempting to stand unsuccessfully. Draco bent down next to him, grabbing a handful of his robes, and smashing Artemis’s head down on the floor.

The giant cried out, blood pouring from his nose.

“Is Isobel telling the truth?” Draco hissed. “Yaxley’s piece was stolen?”

“Fuck—”

Draco pushed down again, grunting satisfactorily at the crunch of Artemis’ face on the stone ground.

Payback.

“Answer,” he demanded calmly.

Artemis choked, spitting out a mix of bile and blood. “We think it’s Mudungus Fletcher,” he gasped. "Yaxley never tol' us what it did, but we know it's powerful. He shouldn’ have it."

On that... we can agree.

Draco sighed, pointing Hermione’s wand at the base of Artemis’ neck. He focused all his magic into the strange, unfamiliar wand, and took a deep breath to calm his spinning head.

“Avada Kedava,” he breathed.

The body in his hands went limp immediately.

Draco stood slowly, pocketing the wand. He was now keenly aware of the stifling silence in the room, and the steady boom, boom, boom of his head. He rubbed his temple, groaning from the pain, and looked over to where Astoria was.

She leaned against the wall, clutching her waist and gasping for breath. Isobel lay at her feet, clearly dead.

Draco walked over to the witch, his grey eyes travelling up and down her form with worry. “You’re hurt?” he asked.

She smiled weakly. “Just a scratch.” A wince. “Ah. Let's just go, before other’s arrive.”

Draco turned, and Astoria followed his gaze. Hermione lay on the floor, chest barely moving.

“What are you going to do with her?” Astoria asked.

What was he going to do? The danger with bringing Hermione back to the Ministry’s doorstep was the fact that she might know more than she needed to now—which meant so would the Ministry. He had come too far to be thrown in jail now due to their misunderstandings.

He sighed. He could always oblivate her memory, but he knew that she would be back, asking questions that didn’t concern her.

Witch.

But, maybe it doesn’t have to be this complicated,
he thought. Maybe it’s time I finally finish this.

If there was one thing that Draco Malfoy knew, it was manipulation—a fine art of cunning that he had inherited off the master himself: Lucius Malfoy. And Hermione, with all her knowledge and resources, was invaluable to his cause.

Draco bent down, picking his discarded wand off the floor. It was sturdy and familiar in his hands.

He smiled. “We’re taking Granger back with us.”

Chapter 5: No Rest for the Wicked
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

January 13, 2000
Department of Magical Law Enforcement
Investigation Department
Interviewer: Hermione Jean Granger
Suspect: Draco Lucius Malfoy

Hermione: Malfoy.

Draco: You’re not getting any more out of me, Granger. I told you to stay out of it.

H: For your information, we were not going to talk about your Object today. This is concerning your father.

D: The man’s dead, leave him be.

H: I understand you stopped seeing the counsellor we offered you. Your actions preceding your father’s death have been of some concern, and we really recommend your attendance—

D: My actions? I’ve been doing the Ministry’s dirty work; you should thank me.

H: The Ministry doesn’t need somebody to do their dirty work, Malfoy, least of all you.

D: Tell that to the people I’ve saved, Granger.

H: I know who you really are, Malfoy. Don’t think I’ve forgotten how you were in school.

D: People change.

H: I have difficulty believing that.

- End of Tape -





5. No Rest for the Wicked


11th of February

They weren’t dreams; they were memories. He knew that now. They were a certainty, like the rise of the sun, and the falling of snow in the winter.

He was twenty, standing on the ledge of a cliff. Below, the ocean stretched to the golden horizon, signalling the start of the morning. Salt spray from a large wave that crashed into the cliff flecked across his form, and he breathed in deep. The air was so fresh here it caused his head to spin. No wonder his mother loved it.

Loved. Past tense.

He fingered a ring on his finger, staring out across the emptiness. The snake ring curled around his index, a reminder of who he was and who he should be.

Draco did not know how much time passed. The sun’s rays were no longer silvers above the ocean line any longer when he heard the movement behind him. The fiery red ball hung high in the sky, and the cool breeze turned hot. Australian summer. He was not prepared for it. He slipped off his robe, draping it across his arm.

A voice behind him said, “I thought I would find you here.”

“I could say the same of you, father.” Draco did not turn.

Lucius swept up beside him, laying a firm hand on his shoulder. He sighed. “Your mother would not have wanted us to mourn her death.”

Draco glanced at his father. He wanted to pull away from the hand that held him in place, but he found he could not. Lucius’s grey eyes stared across the ocean, reflecting the sunlight in their depths. His face was emotionless, but not cold. He did not carry the demeanour of a man who had just lost his wife.

Draco wished he could be that strong. He wiped the tears from his eyes with the back of his hand.

“I’ll miss her,” Draco breathed.

“Yes. But it’s just us now, Draco,” Lucius replied. “You must accept that.”

Draco turned back to the ocean. Its expanse and depth held him captivated. He wanted to lose himself in there forever.

“I guess so,” he whispered back.

Lucius squeezed his shoulder. “Your mother was proud of you, Draco. And so am I.”

“Draco ...”

Draco...


“Draco.”

A hand was on his shoulder. It was squeezing, tightly, and shaking him lightly to wake him from his slumber. Draco’s breath caught in his chest, and he kept his eyes closed, not daring to believe what was happening.

His father was alive again. His hand was on his shoulder, right now.

“Draco.”

No.

Female voice. Not his father. A hand touched his forehead. “Please, please wake up.”

He sighed—from relief, or disappointment, he could not be sure. He opened his eyes slowly. The sunlight that streamed through the open window on the far wall burned his irises, and he hissed. He tried to roll away from the light but immediately regretted it. Pain shot from his head, down his spine and into every limb. It burned through his whole body, with wave after wave of nausea swirling in his stomach. He could barely feel his hands as they reached forward, throwing the woman that stood above him away.

He scrambled from the bed, smashing the ensuite door open and running to the toilet. He had barely made it there before he threw up. Everything was black, and the pressure in his head felt as though his brain was trying to explode.

I’m dying. I am literally dying. Shit.

He hurled again, closing his eyes firmly. It was sometime before the vomiting passed. Once he was sure he had finally emptied his stomach, he groaned, sprawling himself out on the floor. The tiles beneath his face were cooling, and the dark of his vision was a welcoming lack of stimulus.

A shadow stood in the door of the bathroom. He couldn’t make out the figure in the haze of pain. She hesitated for a moment, before walking forward and flushing the toilet.

She knelt down beside him. “Let me help you to bed.”

“Cho,” he breathed. A cold hand slipped around his waist. “Surely you have drugs for this.”

Cho Chang chuckled lightly, hoisting him off the floor with all the strength she had. Her long black hair brushed past his face, and he breathed in greedily. She smelt like cookies. She always smelt like cookies.

“I need you awake for that, Malfoy,” she said.

The two hobbled back to the bed, where Cho eased Draco in carefully, wary of all the cuts and bruises on his body. Once he was on his back, she turned to the bedside. She quietly examined the numerous potions she had placed there closely.

“Can you tell me what happened?” Cho asked eventually, taking a bottle and holding it to the light. It was green, and had numerous ... things floating in it.

He grimaced. “I don’t want to drink that.”

Cho ignored him, unscrewing the lid and shoving it in his mouth. His eyes widened, but from the stern look on her face, he really had no choice but to drink it.

It was thick, and tasted like dirty washing. It slid down the back of his throat slowly. As she pulled the bottle away, he gagged.

“So?” she pressed. He didn’t miss her satisfied grin at his discomfort.

Witch.

Draco sighed. “I ... don’t really remember.” Warmth from the potion was spreading like a fire through his body, and he felt every muscle relax in response. “They didn’t have one, though. I was wrong.” He groaned, rubbing his eyes. “Again.”

Draco felt the depression as Cho sat on the bed next to him. She touched his forehead, inspecting all his wounds closely. “You know it isn’t just that.”

He looked to her. “You’re talking about Granger?”

She sighed. “Granger, Malfoy. Grain. Jer.” Her hand fell to her side. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

He shook his head. “I’m never sure anything is a good idea. That’s what I have you and Daphne for.”

Cho jumped out of the bed as if she had been shocked, holding her hands up in submission. “Hey, I’m just your Healer. Keep me out of your ideas.”

He chuckled, falling back into bed with a small wince.

“I think you’ll be alright. Drink water, eat food, throw it up.” Cho walked to the door, pausing briefly. “Just get some rest, Malfoy. She won’t wake for another day at least. Please, tell me you’ll think it over.”

He closed his eyes, breathing in deep. Maybe she was right. Maybe he just needed some sleep.

* * * *


13th of February

She was no longer cold.

Hermione sighed, stirring in the large bed she lay in. It was unfamiliar—soft, with silky textures. Her head seemed to keep sinking further and further into the pillow beneath her. With her eyes still closed, Hermione listened intently to the sounds that flittered around her. Far away footsteps, laughter that travelled down corridors and the distinct hoot of an owl echoing through a window to her left.

Where was she? There was a dull pain throbbing in her abdomen, and every muscle felt lethargic and tired beyond her control—it was as though she had been run over. And then run over again. And again.

If she were in this much pain, than it had not been a dream. She had been captured, and tortured for information. Force to talk with a poison. But the whole memory was still a swirling blur of voices and unfamiliar colours and curses. If someone asked the witch to recount the ordeal, she would have naught but a name.

Draco Malfoy.

She stretched in the bed, hesitating before opening her eyes slowly. The room she was in was bathed in a silvery glow of the full moon that filtered through large, ornate French doors. They stood wide open, gracing her current quarters with a cold night breeze that seemed to not touch her in the warmth of the bed. A fire crackled on the other side of the room, but the flame was low, its light barely extending beyond the green velvet rug before it.

Hermione’s brown eyes rested on the chair by her bedside. It was leather, high-backed and made of a heavy, expensive wood—mahogany, by the look of it. The man who occupied it was indiscernible in the faint moonlight, though she could distinctly make out the bottle of wine that was in his hand.

She slowly sat up in her bed, wincing slightly at the lack of feeling in all her limbs. There was a movement, and the bottle of wine floated before her eyes. Hermione took it gratefully, drinking from it deeply. The burn of the alcohol travelled down her throat—a feeling that she usually despised, but a feeling nonetheless. She was grateful she was not devoid of it completely.

“I have it on good authority you’ll be okay,” Draco said, reaching over and flicking on the lamp beside him. The light burned her eyes, and she shielded them with her arm as she looked towards him. His pointy face was unreadable. “I wanted to be here when you awoke.”

“And here you are.”

Hermione put the bottle of wine on the small, square table by her beside with a loud plonk; and that was when she noticed it—The Object. But it was not just one—there were two.

Draco’s grey eyes followed hers. “I’m anticipating questions.” She could practically hear the smirk in his drawl.

Two Objects. She blinked, reaching over and pushing the bottle of wine aside. They were identical in every way, complete with the same symmetrical blue markings and cloudy mystique. Neither were glowing, a fact she found unnervingly odd.

Hermione’s eyes snapped to Draco. “What on Earth is going on, Malfoy?”

He chuckled. “So hostile, Granger. I just saved your life—a thank you would be nice.”

“Stop playing games,” she scowled. She would be damned if she ever thanked a Malfoy.

“But am I playing games?” His voice dropped to a menacing whisper, and he lent towards her in the chair, resting his elbows on his knees. Draco wasn’t far from her now, and his grey eyes betrayed the anger beneath his usually calm facade. “I did save your life, didn’t I, Granger? So tell me why you were there.”

She levelled with his gaze. The hate she felt for the man burnt her face, and she was thankful that the light from the lamp and moon were both too dull to reveal her lobster red cheeks.

“Why were you there, Malfoy?” she spat back, voice wavering with emotion. “And why did you bring me back here?”

She should be in St. Mungo’s; not in Malfoy Manor (the large fireplace and green decor gave her location instantly away). It should be Ron by her beside, worrying about her and kissing her; not this prat, antagonising her with every word. She clenched her teeth.

“A matter of convenience,” he quipped, reaching over and grabbing the neck of the wine bottle. He bought it to his lips. “I have a feeling we could ... help one another.”

He tilted his head back and took a deep drink, completely missing the look of shock and disgust that passed over Hermione’s face from his words.

“What could you possibly help me with?” she asked rhetorically when he was done. “And why do you think I would even want your help?”

He lowered the bottle, raising one eyebrow at her. “You aren’t stupid, Granger—at least, you think you aren’t.” She sneered at him. “Think about it: how long have you been working on my case? One year?”

“Nearly a year-and-a-half,” she answered. Her voice had dropped, exhaustion barely contained in her words.

“That’s a long case,” he pried.

“Too long.” She lowered her gaze.

“I can help you close it. I can give you answers, but I need a favour.” His voice had taken on a silky, silvery quality, and she could feel herself physically sway with his words. “A favour for a favour?”

Hermione looked up then, studying his face closely. Draco stared back calmly, and she sighed. He seemed to be telling the truth.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“Access to your files at the Ministry. Files about me, about my father, about Azkaban and the five Death Eaters that escaped.”

He listed them off as if reading for a script, and Hermione could tell he had been waiting for this moment for a long time. She shook her head in disbelief, staring at him open mouthed. Slytherins ... They were more cunning and patient than she could ever give them credit for.

“How long have you been waiting to get this leverage on me?” she breathed.

He leaned back, chuckling. “I wouldn’t say all our interactions were planned, Granger. Yaxley Manor was definitely a pleasant surprise—much smoother than wooing you.”

“Wooing—what!” she screamed. “What is wrong with you—I—You have been playing me this whole time?”

He frowned at her. “You’re honestly surprised?” Hermione tried to close her mouth, but it stayed open. He shook his head. “I won’t lie, Granger. I was going to obilivate the whole thing from your mind when we found you the other day, but how would I explain that to your co-workers? This”—he smirked—“is delightfully more efficient.”

Hermione wanted to kill him. There was no doubt about it now. She wanted to wrap her hands around his neck and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until his stupid grey eyes popped out of his head. She would never have to hear that antagonising drawl again or see that infuriating smirk.

“I—” She attempted to calm the chaos in her mind, but she was just short on chocking on her words. “I. Hate. You.”

He cocked his head. “This is news. I was under the impression we were friends! My feelings! My heart!” Draco placed his hand on his chest, feigning hurt. He then laughed, finding his own joke so funny that it took him a full minute for him to calm down. He eventually said, “I’m not here to make nice, Granger.”

Hermione folded her arms, glowering at him. “What do I get from this favour, then? So far you’ve only talked about yourself.”

He shrugged. “T’is a talent.”

“Malfoy!”

He leaned back, sniggering. “Okay, okay, calm yourself, Granger. I thought the answer was obvious anyway: you get me.”

Hermione frowned. “What ... what does that mean?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Really, I have to explain this, too?” She growled, and he hastily added, “Fine, fine! Once I have my answers—once I’m finished with my goal—you can file your case. Throw me in Azkaban.”

Now this ... it was too much. Hermione burst out with laughter, clutching her tender stomach. It still hurt from the poison inside, but she couldn’t stop laughing. Tears streamed down her face and she gasped for air. “You... you honestly expect me to believe that?” she finally managed.

The look on his face told her all she needed to know. She straightened herself, watching him carefully. She was trying to find the right thing to say, but Draco thankfully filled the unnerving silence.

“Yes. I will perform the Unbreakable Vow if that will convince you.”

“And sentence you to your own death?” Hermione scoffed. “Please, Malfoy, do me a favour and stop trying to pretend. I know you will run as soon as I give you what you need. Go back to your stupid world-saving charade and I’ll see you when we interview you next.”

Draco was frozen in his place. Hermione barely glanced at him as she moved the blankets and sheets off her body. The wind through the doors was cool on her bare legs, and she stretched them, grateful that she could feel them once more.

She had two feet placed on the cold tiles when he spoke. Her back was to him.

“There will be no world if I don’t get your help.”

She didn’t turn. “You’ve survived so far. I doubt—”

A loud crackle from behind cut Hermione off. The room dropped in temperature, and she watched, horrified, as the French doors in front of her slammed close of their own accord. Frost crept across the room, slowly creeping up her bed, covering the floor, and shrouding her body. She shivered, gasping in fear as the fire hissed into death and the lamplight dimmed.

Draco walked up to her, movements slow and determined. He sat next to her on the bed, and she looked down at the two Cube’s in his hand. They had joined together, humming and crackling loudly in his palm.

“There are four more,” he breathed. She looked at him. “They will kill everyone.”

With that fear-inducing note, Draco wrenched the two boxes apart. A shrill, ear-piercing scream sounded before it faded into nothingness. Silence filled the room, and Hermione felt her eyes travelling from floor to ceiling as the area seemed to shift. The doors opened, the fire crackled back to life and the lamp brightened again.

“What are they?” she asked, after some time. “I mean, I knew that it wasn’t ... I just ...”

Draco stood, placing them side-by-side on the bed. He walked to the balcony, and stood with his back to her. “I can’t answer that, Granger. There are six in total, created by a man who dabbled in Muggle science and the Dark Arts. He was appointed by the Dark Lord to create a weapon of mass elimination. It was to be a last resort.”

Draco turned. He was rubbing the sleeve of his forearm that hid the Dark Mark. Hermione wondered if it still hurt. “That was in the first war. He was to send all the pureblood families in England underground... The pieces are obviously volatile together, so He gave six of his loyal followers a piece each.”

Hermione looked down at the two seemingly harmless cubes. “Your father ...”

“Yaxley, Dolohov, Mulciber, Snape and Uncle Rodolphus,” he recited. “I have father’s, obviously, and the other—” He walked over to it, picking it up and holding it towards the moonlight. The blue clouds swirled rapidly at his touch. “The other is Professor Snape’s.”

Hermione stared at him. “All those other Death Eaters, though—weren’t they the ones who escaped?”

He stared down at her, grey eyes forming slits. “Obviously you can see how this situation is dire.”

“You should have told me this a year ago!” Hermione cried, jumping from her seat. She began to pace nervously back and forth across the room. “Instead of playing the hero—really Malfoy!”

Draco threw the Object on the bed. “I am not without need, Granger.” He spoke very carefully, annunciating every word.

Hermione spun towards him, frowning. “What aren’t you telling me?”

He straightened. “It is not the time for that discussion—you know why I am in need of assistance though.” He stuck out his hand towards her. “So do we have a deal?”

“When you get all the information and all the pieces, I can close the case with the Ministry?” she asked, looking down at his hand. “I can put you in jail for being a lying, evil, little—”

“Cockroach.” He smirked again. “And yes, you can throw me in prison, but not before I find them all.”

Hermione took a shaky breath. This was not what she had been expecting from Draco. It was a lot of information to process—the end of the world, Malfoy doing something good... It was all a bit much for the young witch. And to top it all off, she knew he was hiding something from her—not a huge shock considering who it was, but it was something. She had to watch him, keep an eye on him. She couldn’t trust him with all the Ministry’s information, or with Dark objects as delicate as this.

Hermione looked into his eyes. “Let me help you find them. I can tell my boss I’m on assignment. I don’t want everything ... Not after Harry ...”

Hermione slipped her hand into his, shaking it firmly.

Draco smirked. “I know. Welcome to the team, Granger.”




A/N: So why does Draco need all the pieces? What is he hiding? And what is he going to do with dear Mudungus Fletcher? Something to think on! :) Anyway, thank you very much to those who have taken the time to review. I have just re-edited this chapter and am much happier with it now. I hope you're all enjoying and thanks for reading! :)

Chapter 6: Untitled
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6. Commencement and Closure


15th of February

The world was afire. Every sense was bombarded. People weaved in between one another, shouting louder for every word to be heard. Shoulders brushed past lightly, some others pushed their way through—they were faces in faces in faces. The crowd was just a hurricane of bodies.

Mundungus Fletcher slipped a hand into the pocket of his worn torn coat and let out a low, satisfied chuckle. The feel of notes grazed his fingertips, soft and smooth to touch. Muggle money, but the importance of that paper was not lost on him. He removed his hand and smelt his fingers. It was a smell that would never get old.

Across the grounds, a loud gunshot was heard, and the PA screamed to life. The man talking listed off names, speaking so fast that his words never paused. That was an art Mundungus could never understand. How could anyone talk that fast without magic? He shook his head. Muggles: madness.

He was tempted to leave, but the thundering of hooves drew his wandering brown eyes back to the racetrack ahead of him. It smelt of horse dung and grass and mud, and he loved it. Breathing in deeply, he drowned out the cheering and the shouting of the people around him and focused on the steady, rhythmical thundering of the horses’ hooves on the racetrack ground.

Lost in the moment, he stuck his head forward, looking beyond the crowd. The group of jockeys and horses were rounding the corner. Stuck in the euphoria, he could not hold back the smile as his heart began to thump hard and fast against his ribs, keeping in time with the hooves. The sharp CRACK of jokeys’ whips drowned out the rallying cries of the crowd surrounding him, and he joined in on the screaming with them. He didn’t even have a bet on this race.

The group of horses streamed passed. It was going to be a nose-to-nose. The Muggles had giant flat things to work out winners though—good thing too, Mundungus mused, absently slipping his hand into his pocket again. He had some pretty close bets today.

Once the race was over, the crowd slowly retreated. Mundungus joined them. He had had a damn good day, and he was ready to finish it with a refreshing fire whiskey from the Leaky Cauldron. His wife would probably kill him for coming home late, but his winnings from today would buy her a nice bunch of roses to shut her—

Er, quieten her down.

He left the racetrack with an unmistakable jaunt in his step. Slowly, as he walked on, the sounds of the track died away, and he was bathed in the silence of suburbia. Finding a deserted alleyway, he promptly Apparated to his favourite pub, where his usual barstool sat, empty and awaiting.

“You’re looking mightily please with yourself, Dung,” came the sweet voice of the Cauldron’s landlady, Hannah. “What’s worked its way under your bonnet?” She eyed him suspiciously. “Nothing illegal, I hope.”

Mundungus chuckled, and took a seat as Hannah poured him a drink. She was a pretty young thing, with curly blonde hair and soft, rounded cheeks. She had only recently acquired the pub, just over six months ago, but in that time she had grown a soft spot for the conspicuous and suspicious old man.

“Nuttin’ bad, ’Annah,” he answered, taking his drink. He drank it greedily in one gulp, and motioned for another. “Just ’ad a good day.”

Hannah poured another shot of whiskey. “Oh? That’s good. More money for me, then.”

She grinned at him as he glowered, turning to a new customer that had entered. Before engaging him though, she let out a small ‘Oh!’ and slipped Mundungus a note.

“A man came in and dropped this off. It’s for you.”

Mundungus grabbed the note, studying it suspiciously in the dull light. I have a proposition. Meet me in Knockturn.

“Who was it?” he asked.

Hannah shrugged. “He had a hood on, and didn’t say much. Posh voice, though. Probably a lot of gold ta spend.”

Indeed. Mundungus downed another glass and scratched his unshaven chin, mulling his fortunes over. He could practically see himself now, once he had that Muggle money exchanged. Why, he would be rolling in the galleons! Rubbing his hands together to warm them, he bid goodnight to Hannah and slipped out the back door of the pub. Diagon Alley’s iconic wall loomed in front of him.

He tapped the bricks with his wand. The path of Diagon opened up before him, and he took the road in a hurry. Shops were closed, streetlamps flickered on, and the place was deserted. It was slightly ominous, and in honesty, very suspicious. However Mundungus felt no fear; he had had his fair deal of shady interactions. After all, he wasn’t put in Gryffindor for nothing.

He continued on. Knockturn Alley had been completely shrouded in the darkness this particular night. If it weren’t for the hand that shot out to grab his arm, Mundungus would have walked straight past the alleyway.

Startled by the contact, he spun around, his wand pointed at the man who had grabbed him. He was tall, Mundungus had to give him that—a good ruler length taller than Mundungus himself, in fact (not a great feat, though—he wasn’t exactly known for his height). The man was decked in fine, black robes, with the hood mysteriously covering his face.

He laughed coldly. Mundungus’s skin erupted with goosebumps.

“Calm yourself, Dung.”

He knew that voice—that drawl. Mundungus lowered his wand, but only slightly, as the man pulled down his hood. Cold, grey eyes pierced through the night, and a smirk graced the man’s face.

“Master Malfoy,” Mundungus greeted. “Ya lookin’ more an’ more like dear, ol’ Lucius.”

“Thank you,” Draco Malfoy drawled. It wasn’t intended as a compliment, but Mundungus wasn’t going to say that. “Here—for coming.”

He looked down. Draco held out a small coin purse in the palm of his hand. It would have at least contained fifty galleons.

Acknowledging the shock on his face, Draco added, “I understand my father and yourself did not have ... uh, the best business interactions. I am not my father.”

Mundungus grabbed the purse. “Oh, no! ’Coruse not, young Master! Ya doin’ well.”

“Well, very good. Then put your wand away.” Draco’s tone had taken on a cold, business-like quality. Despite the voice in his head telling him not to, Mundungus obliged, slipping his wand back in his pocket. “I’m looking for something, and I have it on good authority you possess it.”

Mundungus eyed Draco warily. “Whose authority?”

“A dead man’s. Some people just tell you anything when you’re about to kill them.”

Mundungus’s blood ran cold. The night air froze his limbs, and he watched, transfixed, as the young Malfoy began to pace back and forth in front of him.

“Goyle,” Draco ordered.

A huge shadow of a man loomed out from behind Draco, walking towards Mundungus. He was at least six and a half foot tall, and had nearly 110 kilograms of muscle to accompany that. He cracked his knuckles and grabbed Mundungus’s arm in a vice-like grip.

“You see, Dung,” Draco began, pausing in his pacing to face the older man, “I was going to make this a pleasant interaction, but then I remembered something: the day of my father’s funeral. You remember?”

He was too old for this. What had he been thinking, following the location on the note. Knockturn? In the dark? At least dear, young Hannah would look for him if he didn’t head back soon. But what if she was too late? What about his wife?

He tired to wriggle out of the giant’s grasp, but it was useless. “Whatta want, ya filthy Death Eater?” he growled.

Draco sighed, stepping forth and punching Mundungus square in the jaw. Pain reverberated through his skull and white spots clouded his vision. He was sure if the man had not had a hold of him, he would have fallen to the ground.

A sigh. “I didn’t want to do that. You should not have said that.”

Draco was close now. Mundungus stared at him. Bruises and cuts covered his face, throwing ominous shadows across his pale, pointed features in the dull light.

“Wha’ happened to ya?” Mundungus breathed.

Draco shook his head. “You see, when I look back to that day I came home to you rifling through my father’s belongings, I realise I should not have let you go.”

“That’s not ya style,” Mundungus said. His voice was filled with fear. “Ya gonna kill me?”

“No.” Draco stepped back from the man, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a long, gold chain. He held it up, where it glinted brightly even in the dull light. A beautiful, ornate ‘M’ dangled at the end. “Malfoy family heirloom. A present for my great-great-great grandmother from the king of the time. Priceless, as I’m sure you know.” His grey orbs locked onto Mundungus. “This was what you were looking for, right?”

“I don’t—”

“I have this,” Draco said, voice rising over Mudungus’s pleas, “so that you would not lie to me. I’m not going to torture you—people will say anything to make the pain stop. I’m sure you would prefer it this way, anyway.”

Mundungus looked at the locket. His heart had lifted its dead weight, and he sighed with relief. He wasn’t going to die. He swore if he got out of this, unscathed, it would be the last—absolutely the last—shady business deal he would do.

Draco spoke, voice quiet, “Sorry... I ... I know now if I didn’t let you go on that day, I don’t know what would have happened in... So... thank you.”

Mundungus blinked. He was perplexed. Was the kid on some kind of drug? His eyes were in focus, so probably not... But what in Circe’s tits was he talking about?

“Wha’?”

Draco looked up, glancing towards his companion. A flash of sadness passed over the Malfoy’s face.

“Sorry, right, business. I understand you raided Yaxley manor?—You don’t have to answer, I already know,” he added, somewhat cheekily, as Mundungus shifted uncomfortably. “Did you find anything... unusual?”

Indeed he did. It had been a strange thing, and one that had made the thief very, very distressed. Though a simple cube, it shifted and changed inside itself when touched, and produced a strange, low buzzing sound. He had sold it almost immediately, but what would have been a relief, did not feel as such. In fact, when he sold it, he felt nothing but despair for a few days.

He explained this to Draco, who nodded as if he expected this. “Very well. Goyle.”

The giant released his grip, and Mundungus was freed. His arm throbbed painfully from where the man had held it, and he rubbed it gingerly.

“Here.” Draco passed over the necklace. “I have more coin, if you wish to cooperate further.”

Well, he had just promised himself that he would end these shady interactions, but Mundungus did love coin. Perhaps a little too much.

“Wadda ya need?” he asked.

“The name of the man you sold it too,” Draco said, pulling another coin purse out of his robe pocket.

Too easy. “Alistair Martin.”

Draco smiled, passing over the purse. “Thank you, Dung. Until we meet again.”

With a loud CRACK, the two men disappeared from the street. Mundungus shook his head. He was in desperate need for a drink. Or two. Or eight.

* * *


“Alistair Martin,” Draco repeated for the sixth time, voice heavy with thought. “Alistair ... Martin ... Hmmm ... Have you heard of him?”

He looked up at the looming figure of Gregory Goyle beside him. They were back in Wiltshire, walking up the street towards Malfoy Manor. It lay at the end of the road, casting an ominous shadow down the street as the moon lingered behind it. Trees shrouded the road, but it was lit brightly by the lampposts on this particular night.

Goyle shrugged. “Nup.”

“Didn’t think so,” Draco grunted. He studied Goyle suspiciously. “What’s wrong?”

There was a time in his life where Draco would not have ever asked such a thing. Goyle was always fine. He was a constant. He was there for Draco no matter what. But that time had come and gone; where the young Malfoy had once believed that Goyle needed him, age and time had proven that he could not have been more wrong. He needed Goyle. He didn’t have any siblings or many friends—none, really—and Goyle was about the closest thing he had to both a brother and a mate.

He was ... grateful, for his companionship.

Goyle looked down at him. “You gave that thief a lot of money. The necklace, too.”

Goyle had always spoken in short, simple sentences. Draco was still not sure if it was because his brain couldn’t process too much information at once, or if he just didn’t care for conversation.

Probably a healthy mix of both.

“Hmmm, I suppose I did,” Draco mused. “That necklace was worthless to me, however.”

Silence settled between them as they begun the descent up the drive to the manor. Goyle broke it with a hefty grunt, and a, “Seems a waste.”

Draco stopped walking, smirking as Goyle turned to him. “Are you trying to tell me something, Goyle?”

The giant man was looking extremely uncomfortable, shuffling his feet and coughing slightly. Draco chuckled, walking passed him and up the steps to the door.

“I suppose I could pay you more. No one else would put up with me to be my bodyguard.” His face darkened slightly. “And I haven’t died ... yet.”

Goyle shadowed next to him. “I shoulda been there when—when those idiots got ya.” His voice was saturated in undisguised rage.

Draco smiled. “T’is alright, Goyle. It was unavoidable. I will endeavour to reward you better for your efforts.”

Draco knocked on the large doors in front of them. He was starting to get sick of them constantly being locked, but it was probably for the better. He sighed.

So, I have the location of an Object and a name that means nothing. Why can’t anything just be straight in and out? All this running around ... I hope it’s worth it. I just hope this Alistair Martin hasn’t grown attached to the Object yet.

Draco shuddered at the thought, closing his eyes briefly. A small squeak on the other side of the door had him smiling slightly.

“Pokey.” He opened his eyes.

“Masters Draco needs—”

“To give Pokey the password, I know. Memento Mori.” The door swung open at Draco’s words, and Goyle walked in, heading directly to the kitchen. Typical. Draco looked down at the little elf at his feet. “You could enchant the door to open at the password, Pokey.”

“Pokey doesn’t know that spells, Sir.”

Pokey stood to the side to let Draco in, looking up at him with big, violet eyes. She wore a simple white sack that Daphne had taken to drawing flowers and rainbows on. It looked like the house elf had just tied herself up in wrapping paper.

“You’re a free elf,” he said, shrugging off his robes and hanging them on the rack by the door. “Learn it.”

“Pokey does not have the time, Sirs,” she piped, matter-o-factly. “The other spells on the house take up all Pokey’s time.”

Draco yawned, walking through the entrance hall. “I guess that makes sense. Anyway, I might go to bed—if you see the rest of the team, tell them there will be a meeting in the dining room tomorrow morning.”

“Yes, Sir—wait!”

Pokey jumped in front of Draco’s path to the stairs, nearly tripping him over in the process.

He growled. “What?”

“Mistresses Astoria wants to see Master Draco in the office,” Pokey said. She then quickly scurried away to the kitchen, possibly to prevent Goyle from tearing it down in his search for food.

Of course she wants to see me. He sighed. I really don’t have time for this.

With heavy steps, Draco made his way up the elaborate staircase, shuffling down the hall. The door to his study was closed, and he hesitated briefly, hand above the handle.

I could turn around now, deal with her later. She needn’t know, right?

Words and memories swirled in his mind as he stood isolated in the hallway. He remembered a time when seeing her did not cause his heart to sink. A time when his stomach would flip when her blue eyes locked on his. A time—a memory—that he had been clawing haplessly for the other day when he kissed her.

It had been a mistake. And so was this.

Another sigh. He glanced down the hall, towards his bedroom. Then, distracted momentarily, as if it were moving on its own accord, Draco’s hand pushed open the door.

Astoria stood by his large, mahogany desk, twisting her hands around and around in apprehension. To the left, the fireplace crackled loudly, casting its warmth throughout the room. Red, velvet curtains were drawn closed and the candelabra above was alight, brightening the entire area and revealing the evidence of Draco’s seclusion. Papers, books, quills and miscellaneous objects scattered the surface of his desk.

She was as beautiful as ever. Every part of his body itched to touch the soft curls that cascaded down her back, feel how soft she was beneath his—

Stop. Just stop.

He walked forward, hesitating before veering straight towards the whiskey cabinet to the right. Draco grabbed a bottle, uncorked it and drank deeply.

“How did you go?” Astoria asked softly, turning to him.

He jumped. Her voice was tugged him forwards, like the soft plucking of guitar strings or the call a wren, breaking the unsteady silence between them with ease. Forcing his steps away from her, he walked to the table and slammed down his bottle, relishing in the harsh sound.

The room was too small. They were too close.

Compelling himself to speak, Draco said, “I have a lead. Better than nothing. Pokey said you wanted to see me.”

“Yes, I ... I wanted to talk about ...” She began to pace back and forth across the room, twisting her hands more furiously around each other. “About us.”

No.

“Can this not wait?” he choked. “Could we perhaps not do this... ever?”

She stopped pacing to turn to him, blue eyes sparkling curiously in the light. “I need to clarify what happened at Yaxley Manor, so it doesn’t ... I don’t ...”

“You don’t want to talk about this now,” he ventured.

Her eyes sharpened. “I think I do.”

Draco ran a hand through his hair, strands catching between each finger and distracting him momentarily. He was so tired. “You almost got me killed.”

Astoria didn’t take to this statement very well. Her mouth formed a thin line of disapproval and she frowned, looking past his form and to the bookcase behind. “I was trying to stop that woman from manipulating you,” she breathed. Her voice was vulnerable. Breakable.

Guilty.

Something in Draco snapped, memories of their time together slipping fast through the cracks in the floor, disappearing down into the earth. Others swam into the edges of his mind—memories of nights alone, words tipped in bitterness and spite, accusations that were quick to blame.

The haze of time where he couldn’t remember if they were still together, or when she had moved from his room to another. When eye contact was avoided, and they just became a forlorn he.

His mouth tasted acidic as he spoke. “Right. Professional concern then? ‘He is not yours’ is just a professional statement.” He walked over to his desk chair, sinking into the leather with a loud sigh and closing his eyes. “I don’t want to argue with you. I’m tired. Go.”

“No.” Draco’s eyes snapped open, and he stared at Astoria, bemused. “I will not go.”

“Artemis almost killed me when you left him unattended,” Draco said, drawing out every word menacingly. “So excuse me if I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Isobel was going to—”

“Kiss me?” He lent forward, snatching the bottle of whiskey off the desk and taking a heavy drink. He slammed the bottle back down, emotions he couldn’t quiet explain firing up his limbs. “That shouldn’t worry you. You left me, didn’t you?”

“This was—I—” Astoria stumbled over her words, and she began to pace again, blue robes fluttering and rustling softly behind her. “You were so obsessed with that Object. And now ... you almost died and you kissed me and you—you are so selfish, Draco.”

Astoria stopped, burying her face into her hands. Her shoulders began to shake from her sobs, and he watched.

He just watched.

There was no movement apart from the shaking of the woman’s shoulders and the crackling of the fire. The space between the two felt like a canyon—no, a forest, where he stood at one end and her at the other. He couldn’t see her. He couldn’t feel her—not physically, or in his heart. She was as far removed from him as he was to her.

And he missed her.

Swearing under his breath, Draco wiped a stray tear from his eye and reached for the bottle. The alcohol slid down his throat, dragging all the memories and damn emotions down with it.

Eventually, Astoria took a breath and turned, straightening her back.

“I think ... professionalism is called for here,” she rasped.

He raised an eyebrow. The whiskey was starting to make the room spin.

Astoria continued, “After we broke up, I didn’t see you for weeks. You never spoke about it, I never heard your opinion. I think, I just needed closure.”

“I would have married you,” he breathed.

She bowed her head. “I’m sorry, Draco. I loved you, but...”

But. There is always a but.

He clenched his fists. She was tugging on his heartstrings, threatening to rip it out and spit on it. Well, he wouldn’t let it get that far.

“You want closure, then?” he growled. “Here it is: do not speak to me about anything but our work. Do not see me on personal matters. Do not come into my office. I don’t want anything to do with you anymore.”

If it was the alcohol speaking—which he was sure it was—it was too late to backtrack now. The room suddenly felt like a slip, tight and claustrophobic, as Astoria stared at him, horrified.

Four years of loving. Four years of giving her everything. There it goes.

Astoria’s voice pulled him back. “If that is what you want.” Harsh, final. She then turned to leave, pausing by the door briefly for a moment to look back to him. Her mouth opened, as if preparing to say something—

Then, as though it was nothing—as if the whole thing was ridiculous to her—Astoria shook her head, stepped forward, and closed the door forcefully, the loud banging of wood against wood reverberating through the mansion.

He was alone.

Frustrated—at himself; at her—Draco threw his empty whiskey bottle across the room, relishing in the chaotic sound of smashing glass against the marble, the skittering of the pieces across the tiles. He didn’t need her anyway.




A/N: Chapter 7 was taken down due to me getting cold feet... Im tossing up between deleting this story or re-editing it. Not sure what I’m going to do, really. But it will be finished, and continued! I just don’t know when or how – I’m sorry :( Reviews/critique/views are still very much welcome/needed :/


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