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    Chapter Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    He found her...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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