I'll turn you out on a world that doesn't care if you belong
I'll push you off of the throne that you erected for yourself
You will be tossed on a pile of all the filth that you created.
-Godhead, The Reckoning
His cloak glowed a faint and peaceful blue at the same instant the familiar hook lodged itself behind his navel and pulled, as Harry screwed his eyes shut and his body lurched precariously off balance. He willed back the nausea and the traitorous voice that repeated over and over in the back of his head the same mantra acknowledging that he was probably going to die very, very soon. No Portkey ever took him anywhere good.
The floor appeared beneath him with a jarring thud, his legs shaking weakly for a moment before collapsing beneath him completely, leaving him sprawled on a cold stone floor. In a moment of brief, uncontrollable panic he squirmed his way out of the cloak, clawing as the sleeve caught round his arm and trapped him until it was finally free. He threw it as far from him as was possible, balling it up tightly and shying away as it landed draped over a dusty coffee table, the hem trailing on the ground. A Portkey. Of all the things he had expected that had been pretty far down on the list. And when had Snape even managed that? Harry had been clinging to the stupid thing ever since he found it; though looking back it was hardly surprising that Snape had chosen it, of all things, to act as some sort of backup to bring him here, wherever here was, in the event that everything got completely screwed up. He had a horrible sinking feeling, exacerbated by the dull throbbing in his scar, that whilst he wasn’t sure exactly where he was he could take a pretty good guess as to who was here with him though, nearby but probably not overly so. Forcing himself to take a couple of deep breaths Harry edged his way towards the door on the far wall.
A soft rustle from behind him had him rolling onto his back, wand drawn and pointed shaking at the corner of the room. Snape couldn’t have gotten away from Simon that quickly though, and he hadn’t, as Harry’s eyes widened at the sight of the man standing tall and arrogant, looking down on him with an expression of mixed surprise, horror and undeniable glee.
There were no words, but Harry’s wand was ripped from his grasp and sent sailing into an outstretched hand even as the man opened his mouth to whisper quietly in disbelief, as though his breath could somehow break the tentative spell that had settled on them. ‘Potter!’
‘Malfoy?’ Harry scooted quickly backwards as Draco stalked towards him, all hesitance having left, his pale robes bright in the shadows that shrouded the room.
‘I knew Snape was hiding something,’ he crowed triumphantly, the space between them closing too quickly, as Harry glanced in either direction for a possible escape, for anything that would give him even something as small as another minute, another second of delusional, although still comforting, freedom. There was nothing though, the room oddly homey for its dim lighting and neglect and the mess that was strewn into every corner. The nearby sofa was too low, and would have made a pretty pathetic hiding place at any rate, and Harry felt a strange revulsion at the thought of touching the dark wood that shaped into a tall and imposing desk. ‘If I had known that bloody something was you I wouldn’t have spent the last hour hunting through his rooms.’ Fingers grasped his hair, tangling irremovably in it and pulling him upwards and onto feet that could barely hold him as Harry struggled, clawing weakly at the hand that held him. His head swam with pain and humiliation as Draco Malfoy dragged him uncaringly towards the doorway he had been so eager to reach only moments before, but that now seemed an opening to Hell itself. With a flick of his wand the room cleared itself, paper fluttering through the air as the tipped contents of hastily emptied drawers righted themselves and Draco slammed the door behind them, his long strides carrying him easily down the narrow hallway with Harry in tow.
The floor beneath him was old and uneven, worn down with the years of passing footsteps so that the occasional crack or dip became an invitation to a painful fall. Harry could barely lift his feet to walk, a fact to which Draco seemed oblivious in the same way he appeared totally ignorant that he was not so much leading Harry as he was carrying him, dragging his almost dead weight through the maze of corridors by the roots of his hair. ‘Should have damn well guessed,’ he was muttering to himself, ignoring Harry’s occasional wince of pain or desperate bid to tear himself free. ‘Sealed his rooms up so tight I figured it was to stop people getting in.’ He took a moment to flash Harry a knowing smile, one that instantly made him wish he could once again become a forgotten passenger to this trip. ‘Never occurred to me it might be to stop someone getting out.’ Harry glared, trying to suppress the shiver that ran up his spine at the sheer spite that lit Draco’s gaze. But then they were moving again, as Harry stumbled, crying out in pain as he once again desperately tried to relieve the burning sensation that prickled along his scalp. He didn’t even hear the figure approach, as Draco halted to sneer contemptuously at the advancing woman.
‘What have you got there, young Draco?’ He recognised the voice. Harry didn’t think he would ever be able to forget it, that it would haunt his dreams, his nightmares, for years to come, bringing with it the onrush of anger that slammed into him and thrummed through his veins in her presence. She was the one who had taught Harry what it truly meant to hate someone, to despise them with every fibre of his being. Bellatrix’ voice lilted with insane malice, as a single dry and calloused finger trailed its way slowly down his cheek and Harry barely refrained from snapping at it to make it stop.
‘Nothing that concerns you,’ Draco gave a meaningful tug on Harry’s hair, his all ready stinging scalp protesting so that the pinpricks of pain seemed to band together in a mocking chant that taunted his helplessness. ‘He simply needs to be taught a lesson,’ Draco said with annoyed sincerity as Harry once again battled against the hand that held him, twisting in spite of the soreness as Bella watched him with interest.
‘Perhaps, when you are finished, I could teach him a little something of my own.’ She was still watching Harry hungrily, and the feel of her eyes on his skin made his flesh crawl. ‘He has such pretty eyes.’ Draco scowled at the comment, pushing his way past the woman with a muffled dismissal as Harry ranted incoherently.
‘Potter, shut up.’ Harry tried to kick him, but barely managed to brush his leg, falling to his knees as Draco stumbled, pulled downwards by the collapsed and unexpected weight. ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ The hand released him finally, leaving Harry feeling wonderfully lightheaded as he rolled onto his side, the coldness of the ground beneath him sinking through his thin clothes and chilling him, goose bumps rising down the length of his arm as he shivered.
‘Sleeping Potion.’ Harry ground out, not bothering to move. He could still see Bellatrix’ smile hovering in front of his face, and no matter the horrors he imagined inflicting on her; the skin melting away or the eyes bulging inhumanely, he could still hear the laughter that came with it. Draco couldn’t stop the snort of mirth, as Harry glared at the floor beneath him.
‘Snape gave it to me,’ even as he said it Harry realised how stupid he sounded, sighing in defeat as he rolled on his back to look up at the figure standing over him smirking with amusement. ‘What is it?’
Draco smiled. ‘Oh, I don’t doubt at least some of it was a sleeping draught. Personally I’d much rather deal with you away in the land of fairies,’ the chill seemed to have reached his bones, which ached in protest as Draco bent down next to him. ‘Mixed with a paralysing potion, most probably, if I know our beloved Potions Master.’
Harry felt another surge of hate at hearing Snape referred to so blithely and so personally by Malfoy, further drumming home that Snape was one of them, a Death Eater. He almost would have laughed at the surprising affirmation that he had, at least to some degree regardless of all his badmouthing and insistence to the contrary, not believed Snape was a true follower in the past. And it was the past now, feeling as far away and as disconnected from his as it actually was. ‘Why?’
‘To cure you of that annoying habit you have of running away.’ Draco wrapped a hand round the top of his arm, gripping hard enough to bruise as he dragged Harry upright again. ‘I take it you haven’t had much sleep though.’
‘Why do you say that?’ Draco was unaffected by the biting sarcasm, his grip remaining firm as Harry tried to shake it off.
‘Because you can still move, you fool. Had you fallen asleep for any length of time I can guarantee you would not be able to twitch so much as a finger.’ A noise had Harry glancing over his shoulder, peering down the hallway as Draco dragged him forward impatiently, his pace no slower than before as Harry started to speak, cut off after the first syllable. ‘Yes, Aunt Bella is probably following us. She has something of a limited attention span, but when she sees something she likes she can rarely think of anything else.’
‘I hate her.’ More than Snape? Less than Snape? It didn’t really seem to matter now; he felt the same loathing towards all of them as they coalesced and condensed into one single, overwhelming abhorrence. Suddenly Draco’s hand was removed with a small yelp and a muttered curse, as Malfoy stuck his fingers in his mouth in a ridiculous pose and Harry felt an uncontrollable bubbling of giggles rising to escape.
‘You know Potter,’ Malfoy said with disgust, flexing his fingers and wincing before reaching out, almost tentatively, to grab Harry by the neck of his robes. ‘You are about the only Wizard I have ever known not to outgrow his accidental magic.’ Ah, so that explained it. Somehow he must have shocked Malfoy or something. Harry just wished it had been harder. ‘Most people manage to attain a modicum of control by the time they finish their first year. It really is rather pathetic.’
‘It only happens when I get angry,’ Harry had no idea why he was defending himself, to Malfoy of all people. Draco merely cast him a critical glare though, yanking him back forwards again, towards the only door Harry could recall seeing since they left Snape’s rooms.
‘She doesn’t remember you Potter, but I wouldn’t push it if I were you.’ The smile was back, light and frightening with its frank friendliness. ‘She was very reluctant to let go of the memory of you. It took me several attempts, and even now I’m not sure the charm would necessarily hold if you reminded her a little too much of what she’s forgotten.’
‘Let her remember,’ Harry spat ferociously. ‘I’d like for her to know why I killed her, else what’s the point?’ The door flew open at Draco’s approach and he all but threw Harry into the room beyond. He was released without warning and Harry found himself once again on the floor, hands scraping on the rough carpet and barely able to crawl as Draco slammed the door behind them. Anger gave way rapidly to anxiety; the sudden shift in mood that grasped Draco completely unpredictably.
‘Why are you here?’ Harry blinked at the force of the question, delivered without preamble. This was not the Malfoy he remembered as he had certainly never feared the Malfoy he had known. But they were no longer equals, no longer schoolyard rivals. Snape had been right, although the thought gave Harry no joy. There was no way he could handle Draco now. Whatever he had possessed in his youth that had stunted his ability to intimidate was gone now and Malfoy had achieved the apparently impossible. He had grown up.
Lifting his head to meet the demanding gaze Harry scowled. ‘I’m not answering your questions.’ He yelped as the Cruciatus curse hit him for less than a second, gone almost as quickly as it had begun but still leaving his nerves alight and dancing.
‘Prolonged exposure to the curse, in your current condition, will have you drooling in the corner in minutes,’ Draco said calmly, his demeanour unnerving. His shoes scuffed on the carpet with a whisper as he stepped gracefully over Harry, the robes tickling his arm as it brushed past. ‘Which is fortunate, since that is all the time I have to get from you what I need. Why are you here?’
‘I don’t bloody know,’ Harry answered as Draco sat carefully on a nearby seat, the springs subsiding with a soft creak as he tapped his wand idly against his fingertips, drumming some repetitive rhythm, his eyes never leaving Harry.
‘You’re lying.’ He said flatly as Harry glared.
‘Get out of my head, Malfoy,’ he couldn’t corner off his thoughts though, didn’t even know where to begin. He couldn’t even feel Malfoy in with them. He had a horrible feeling he had been deceived about the nature of Legilimency, that you never needed to know it was even happening, unlike the outright attacks he had experienced. ‘Did Snape teach you that?’
‘Yes.’ And Malfoy knew, he knew that Harry had failed where his own lessons had been such an apparent success. ‘Now, why are you here?’
‘There was a timeturner. It was cracked.’ Harry said sullenly, turning his head to the side so he didn’t have to look at the man, instead absently counting the fibres of the carpet, pinching them between his filthy fingernails, snagging the thick strands as Draco quirked an eyebrow.
‘Do you still have it?’ Harry shook his head. ‘Shame, I would have rather liked to have seen it again. It was one of my greater achievements.’
‘You made it?’ It was Draco’s turn to nod. ‘But how did you get into Grimmauld Place?’
‘I did not.’
‘What about Severus? How did you meet him?’ He could feel Malfoy’s grin prickling the hairs on the back of his neck. He all ready knew the answer, damn it. He just wanted to make Harry say it, make him answer the questions he so obviously didn’t want too whilst blatantly ignoring anything sent back. But that was the Malfoy way, making themselves feel big by belittling all those around them. Harry’s hand to rose to scrub at his neck, to try and dispel the feeling that Malfoy was somehow branding him just by staring as he swallowed his pride with difficulty. He could answer of his own free will, or he could have them dragged from him. He had no doubt the latter would give Draco that bit more satisfaction.
‘I ran into him in Diagon Alley,’ his jaw was starting to ache from gritting his teeth, his ears ringing in sympathetic harmony as he tried to relax, exhaling deeply but still refusing to look round. ‘He was surprised, said there had been a mistake, that he wasn’t expecting me.’
‘No doubt it was a surprise,’ his breathing quickened angrily at Draco’s chuckled response and he jerked in shock as a soft chime rang from across the room, as Harry glanced towards the small clock that hung on the bare wall. It reminded him of Molly’s, containing too many hands for merely telling the time, although the details were blurred and indefinable. ‘You should not have arrived for another ten years.’
‘He said I shouldn’t have arrived in his lifetime,’ Harry snarled bitterly, ‘that he thought I was dead.’
‘Hoped you were, more like, and I’m sure he said a lot of things. Did he mention the Dark Lord?’
Harry opened his mouth and then paused, glaring angrily as his scar twinged. ‘You may as well kill me,’ he declared resolutely. ‘I’m not answering any more of your stupid questions. Either you do it or I’m certain Voldemort will shortly. Personally I’d rather not have to wait.’ Draco sighed, rising slowly and stepping away from the chair, the thick cushions rising slowly back into shape, and away from Harry.
‘Don’t think your getting off that easily,’ he commented. ‘You will face the Dark Lord, I just need to make sure of a few things first.’
Harry stared at the fine hair on the back of his head, his thoughts whirring madly as an occurrence, a subtle inconsistency Draco had so carefully avoided struck him. ‘Why didn’t you know I was here?’ Draco paused mid movement, his fingers wrapped round a glass as his face stiffening angrily before he replied, his words straining to sound casual.
‘It was not deemed necessary for me to know.’
‘Not as popular as you thought, huh?’ Draco whirled round, stepping forward as he raised his hand and Harry flinched back, but the blow never fell. Draco straightened himself back up, smoothing down some invisible crease in his robes before turning back on his heel, moving towards the open counter and claiming a bottle within, pouring the sparkling liquid with care.
‘I believe Severus has been spreading lies about me, sullying my name to the Dark Lord himself, giving him cause to doubt my loyalties.’ He raised the glass to his lips, swallowing slowly in a way that reminded Harry of just how thirsty he was. And hungry, now he remembered his stomach. ‘It is irrelevant now though, since I have you and he does not.’ He drained the last of the water from the glass, placing it back down with a gentle clink as the clock behind him chimed once again, a slightly different tune as Draco’s eyes lit up expectantly. ‘And I do believe it is now time for the Dark Lord to discover one or two truths about his right hand man to which he has remained oblivious for far to long. Severus has finally returned, no doubt he will be on his way here shortly. Looks like your little visit is over.’ Harry swallowed, panic gripping him as Draco prepared to leave, prepared to take Harry to his Lord and Master.
‘This is all some sort of stupid power battle?’ He questioned as a desperate stall. Draco just shook his head with pity at Harry’s lack of understanding.
‘No, Potter. This is about Severus stealing from me. You will be the means by which I take it back.’
‘But, I thought…’ Harry was stunned at the venom in the gaze Draco spun round to fix him with, and the seething and indomitable loathing that bubbled and pulsated underneath. He flinched under its weight, shifting nervously from his uncomfortable position on the cold floor. ‘You always seemed to admire and look up to him, and now you hate him instead?’
‘Things change, Potter,’ Draco snarled in response, looking down haughtily. ‘I grew up enough to realise he is not the man I once thought he was. Not that it matters,’ his voice picked up a cruel and sadistic quality, ringing with spiteful glee as Draco all but vibrated with anticipation. ‘I will have the rightful place that he kept from me, and that filthy, deceitful half-blood will get what he deserves. The Dark Lord will not be happy with him,’ Draco grinned maliciously in perverse pleasure at what he believed the future held, as Harry regarded him with disbelief.
‘You’re mad because Snape’s a half blood?’
Draco scowled at the comment, the few words that sounded to dismiss and belittle the grudge that had grown into a firmly rooted resentment and need for retribution. ‘I doubt even your fate will be as unpleasant as what will await our beloved Potions Master when my Lord hears this for himself,’ Draco leant forwards, the soft words brushing lightly across Harry’s face which felt all the more forceful for the gentleness with which they were delivered. ‘And your fate will be worse than you could possibly deign to imagine.’ Harry’s fingers clenched, his nails scouring on the coarse fabric beneath him as he fought to stop the tremors that ran up his spine. Draco straightened up with a smile, brushing down his robes and shaking his head with amusement as he turned back to the fireplace, Harry trying to swallow away the lump that had lodged itself in the back of his throat, his voice thin as he spoke.
‘Voldemort’s a half-blood too.’
The statement was greeted with a tense silence as Draco visibly stiffened, his hand pausing against the cool marble of the mantelpiece, Harry holding his breath as the man turned slowly to face him. ‘You had better be able to prove that, Potter,’ there was no expression beyond a blank and unforgiving coldness that froze Harry as Draco towered above him, monstrous and terrifying. ‘Or you will find yourself before Him having all ready visited the very brink of death at my hand.’
‘He told me himself.’ Draco’s fingers clenched around the fabric of his robes as he dragged Harry to his feet, reminding him of a time when he had shared the same information with the father of the man who now stood before him, both very much the same yet also so different. And as he stared rebelliously into the grey eyes he suddenly felt a wave of understanding as to exactly why Hermione had been so averse to him ever letting them know. There was something in the look; a glint of madness, nothing like that which plagued Bella, but a self created madness borne from his own mind, a madness that kept him sane whilst he served, that promised blood would be shed in payment for such forced service. And with it there was the smallest creeping wisp of fear, of shame that he could possibly have been so terribly deceived. No, he would not believe it, because if he believed it then everything he done was a lie, everything he had believed was as insubstantial as a soft morning mist.
‘And you are in the habit of sharing childhood stories now, are you?’ And Draco didn’t believe him that much was clear, but the undertones were there, wrapping themselves round his words. Make me wrong. Harry finally understood then, realised that Draco truly was nothing like his father. Lucius would never have even wanted to believe him, but Draco did. Lucius had joined the Dark Lord because it was what he had wanted, whereas Draco had been raised to the role.
He had also been raised with the knowledge that he was beneath no one, second to not a single soul.
‘In the second year,’ Harry hung limply in Draco’s grasp now, fabric bunched constrictively round his shoulders and digging into his arms. ‘When your father gave that diary to Ginny.’
‘Are you talking about the Horcrux?’ Draco shook him roughly.
‘Never mind, Potter,’ obviously wishing he had never mentioned it, as much as a Malfoy would lower himself to wishing for anything. It had been a slip of the tongue though. ‘I would worry more about getting to your point if I were you.’
‘Voldemort appeared, except I didn’t know it was him,’ he must have been getting heavy, as Draco’s strength ebbed away with the initial fury of his anger, his arm sagging as Harry felt solid ground beneath his feet, for all the use it was under his numb legs. ‘He was a student and his name was Tom Marvolo Riddle.’
Draco looked confused, the family unfamiliar. ‘Riddle?’
‘His fathers name,’ Harry emphasised desperately, ‘his muggle father.’ There was a brief internal battle, as Draco regarded Harry through narrowed eyes.
‘Lord Voldemort is the heir of Salazar Slytherin,’ he hissed menacingly.
‘I know,’ Harry insisted. ‘He is also the son of a muggle.’
‘No,’ Draco wasn’t convinced as he shook his head in disbelief, trying to dispel the last of the hope Harry knew was there. Draco wanted it to be true though, because once it was true then there was no one greater than him. ‘This is nothing more than a far fetched story.’
‘Rearrange the letters,’ Harry urged frantically.
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Of his name,’ Harry found himself thrown back down violently, his arm catching the side of the sofa with a dull throb as Draco drew his wand with a snarl, the faint red words hovering in the air as he snapped his wand around the jagged letters. Reaching into his robes he pulled out Harry’s own wand, looking fiercely at the boy before thrusting it forwards.
‘Show me,’ he said dangerously, his grip tightening as Harry moved to pull it from his hand. ‘And be assured you will regret trying anything else.’ Swallowing as the grasp was released and he slid his wand from between Draco’s fingers, Harry turned back to the name that still swam in the middle of the room in sharp contrast to the surroundings. With a flick of his wand the letters swirled and moved almost sheepishly under Draco’s penetrating gaze, dancing round each other, slotting firmly into place as Harry turned away, not wanting to once again read the simple message he could see hovering at the edge of his vision.
I Am Lord Voldemort.
‘To think,’ his voice was a wrathful whisper, ‘that I bowed before him.’ It was rising though, Draco seemingly mesmerised by the words before him, unable to tear himself away. ‘That I took his mark, the brand of slavery to a disgusting half-blood who was and is not fit to kneel before me,’ there was a terrifying light behind his eyes as he spoke, a fanatical need. Hermione had been right, Harry realised bitterly; trying to tell had been a bad idea then and remained a bad idea now. So much of Voldemort’s power came from his followers, but that didn’t mean his followers didn’t have power themselves. ‘He taints the World that I built for him. My World. My dream!’ Harry backed away as much as he could, until his back hit the leg of a table, the sharp corners digging between his shoulder blades. ‘And he would look down on me, a Malfoy, as though I were insignificant, as though I were the one who was unworthy.’ Draco moved forwards suddenly, causing Harry to jump and gasp with surprise, a nearby cupboard slamming open violently as he approached so that the wall behind it shuddered as he disappeared within, only the sound of clinking bottles filtering back until he re-emerged, stalking over to Harry and thrusting a small vial under his nose.
‘Drink this,’ he demanded, the acrid smell that wafted from the uncorked lid making Harry cringe away.
‘What is it?’ he questioned suspiciously.
‘The antidote.’ Harry looked up sharply, searching for the deception in Draco’s smooth face and unreadable expression as he rolled his eyes in annoyance. ‘Paralysis will set in eventually without it.’
‘Like I’d drink anything you handed me.’
Draco knelt down gracefully, speaking with soft menace. ‘Look at it this way then, Potter. I am going to hand you over the Him,’ there had been a brief pause, as though Draco was unsure of what title to give to his Master now. ‘I can do that with you on your knees, unable to move, or I can allow you at least the dignity of being able to stand and face him.’
‘Why would you care?’
‘Oh, I expect something in return,’ Draco said smoothly, offering the vial once again, ‘do not doubt that.’
‘You are going to help me kill him,’ Draco smiled again, brightly, as a knot of dread wormed its may into Harry’s stomach and crawled up the back of his throat. ‘You will destroy him, and you will put me in his place.’
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