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He entered the room, slightly shivering from the cold. It was nearing winter anyway, the temperature was dropping, and the fire wasn’t enough to keep him warm at all. He was wearing a coat, a black one, with a black turtleneck and black slacks. They were all inside, seated at their respective areas. There was only one seat left, and it was at the center. He was to sit in the middle, alone, while everyone else flanked at his sides. It was a cavernous room, a tea room that housed the strangest wares, collections of Blaise’s mother. A long hardwood table and gilded chairs done in red was found in the center of the room, over thick carpets.

He stood for a moment, one hand rested calmly on the chair’s elegant headrest. He stared at each of them, mentally counting how many there were. Just nine…just nine…But nine counted as the privileged, those who were the children of previous Deatheaters, those with connections to the Dark Arts...and that included him…

Blaise smiled. “ Won’t you sit down, Draco? “

He didn’t say anything. Instead, he slid down the black leather chair and made himself comfortable. It was difficult. Seeing all of them…after six years…these were Slytherins, damn it! Now why was he uncomfortable? It wasn’t like he didn’t lord over them back in their Hogwarts years- of course he did! He saw their fairly uncomfortable glances at him too. He decided he had the upper hand after all.

“ So, my friends, Draco Malfoy has so courteously decided to help us with our cause, “ Blaise began. “ Who would want to progress without him? True, he may have been a traitor-“ Blaise emphasized the word and kept an eye on Draco, who showed no reaction at all. Miffed, Blaise continued. “ But now- now he comes to us in our time of need. “

Draco eyed Theodore Nott. He was joining now! True, his father had failed terribly, suffered, but- why would he? For retribution? He never took Nott as the type to actually meddle, to actually join such an association- Nott smiled at him genially, his eyes betraying no emotion, and Draco felt at ease. Someone still made sagacity here, and that was Nott. The esteem he had for Nott was still there, and although he had not seen Nott’s full potentials, he knew Nott had capabilities even Blaise couldn’t handle.

“ We’ve been planning this, since the fall of the Dark Master. Six years of waiting had to be enough, contacts had to be done, things had to be set up, researched, and now- meeting here, all of us complete, this inner circle- we have amassed quite an army, those still willing to destroy mudbloods- “ Blaise eyed Draco again, who apparently only yawned. “ We’ve gained a following in Eastern Europe, and Marko Sarovic was generous to help as well. “

Draco frowned a little. Marko Sarovic? One of those- a Durmstrang graduate…Pansy’s husband… Someone of pure stock, filthy rich in Europe, a marriage Pansy had contrived to actually try and gain his attention, to no advantage. He almost smirked. Marko was a tall man, muscular from playing as a beater for Durmstrang. He had a faint dark mustache from what Draco recalled, seeing pictures of them on the Daily Prophet to announce their engagement, the man also had bad teeth. He smiled faintly. Pansy had always been so impulsive.

“ Unfortunately, Marko isn’t here right now, as he is attending to more private matters- “

“ Like his marriage, “ Nott huffed with a smirk.

Draco almost snorted as he eyed Theodore Nott. The man was actually making fun of her and her husband, not only them, but even Blaise as he spoke. Blaise eyed Nott who immediately turned serious again. Draco wanted to laugh by then, but he saw Blaise’s cold dark eyes trail to his direction. Draco merely nodded, as if listening intently.

He saw Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, both had gotten away scot-free, cleared of everything, after naming in a few of the surviving members in exchange for their freedom. They had betrayed his father. Both of them, begging to be kept out of Azkaban, where Dementors were once again cooperative with the wizarding society…he hated them all of a sudden. Ferociously.

And there was Adrian Pucey- the former chaser a few years ahead of him… burly looking man with nervous, darting eyes…wasn’t the man slow or something? What the hell had gotten into him? The world had gone mad- he almost smirked again as he eyed Adrian. Surely Lord Voldemort would have considered him as paper waste.

He also eyed a woman, the only woman actually seated to his right, two seats away from him. Daphne Greengrass, a tall and rather nice-looking brunette, whose only look available on her face was a permanent scowl with her very red and pouty lips…she actually reminded her of someone he had seen once…And there was Colvin Warrington, another former chaser, who still retained his sloth-like appearance. He had last heard of Colvin as a chaser for a newly formed Quidditch team, playing for England.

Blaise Zabini, Theodore Nott, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Adrian Pucey, Daphne Greengrass, Colvin Warrington, Marko Sarovic- and him. Draco Malfoy. It was a horror reunion brought to life.

“ Draco’s got an amazing proposal- suggesting we break into the Artifacts Vault in a few weeks, instead of months, “ Blaise announced.

“ Isn’t that a bit impossible? “Daphne spat out, staring at Draco liked he had some weird skin disease or like he was growing scales or fur on his face. “ We just met months ago, and now, he thinks we should move fast and break in a highly- rather, heavily guarded- vault? “

Draco smiled at her genially. “ Time is of the essence. “

Blaise nodded. “ I’m afraid he’s right. “

“ Are you out of your mind? I’m not going back to that place! “ Goyle muttered loudly, his eyes squinting up and down Draco’s profile. “ I’m not going back there, never! “

Draco smiled toward Goyle’s direction. But he said nothing. His eyes had frosted over, staring at Goyle like he could se right through his soul. That’s right, you bastard, be afraid.

“ And just how do you bloody plan to do that? “ Daphne asked haughtily.

“ Walk in, “ Draco replied simply.

Daphne laughed throatily for a few seconds, so did the rest of the men in the room. It was probably the silliest proposal they’d heard. Walk in an overwhelmingly fortified hall, steal Lord Voldemort’s remaining splinters of his wand?

“ Living with those mudbloods, “ Adrian began. “ Has affected you mental capacities now, Draco? “

Blaise did not join their laughter; his eyes, however- did narrow. He eyed each of them and opened his mouth once more. “ Stop it. Draco’s right. “

The laughter died down and they all glared at Draco now.

“ Why the hell would he be right? Just because he was Lucius Malfoy’s son- “ Warrington said indignantly.

“ I’m right, because you’re wrong, “ Draco replied coolly. He looked at Nott who was trying desperately not to snicker aloud. Draco’s eyes scanned each of their faces, including Blaise’s. “ If you want me out, I can do that. “

Blaise’s eyes narrowed at Warrington’s. It was a warning glare. Blaise was angry. Why wouldn’t he be? Here he was, trying his best for the Dark Master, and his comrades just start doubting a man he knew would be of great use? The total imbecile! He decided to deal with him later. He cleared his throat. “ Draco’s right, “ he said again. “ If there’s anyone who can walk through that door, it’s him. “

“ What the hell is going on? “ Daphne demanded. “ Do you know something we don’t? Someone let you in a little secret? “ She looked at Nott who was seated calmly. “ He knows too, doesn’t he? Nott knows about something we don’t? “

“ I was going to save the exhilarating news later- “ Blaise began. “ But you seem quite intolerant, Daphne…” He paused for a moment.

Daphne’s eyes glittered maliciously. “ He’s been given a great dispensation to lord over this council over, hasn’t he? That’s why you seem to respect him this much, even though his father- “ she screamed pointing to Draco. “ Even though his father betrayed our master! “

“ We were too young to fight along side him! “ Blaise said. “ You know that! See why we had to wait for six years just to even the score for him? “

“ Resurrecting the Master won’t be easy, “ Daphne finally said, with a huff. “ You need a- some sort of- a horcrux- “

Blaise smiled and their eyes widened, particularly Daphne’s. Her mouth gave out a small gasp as she eyed Draco.

“ He knows where the horcrux is? “ Adrian pointed to Draco. “ I thought- how did you? “

Blaise smiled smugly. “ Professor Snape. “ He held up a little black notebook. “ He knew it would be a complicated undertaking, he felt that he would die- so he kept this little journal- a documentation of his failures, plans, the things he knew, he was personally trusted by the Master. This serves as our guide to the horcrux- “

“ Let me see it! “ Daphne said.

Blaise smiled. “ No. Not yet. You see, Severus Snape had been clever enough to conceal everything here, no matter what spell was used- to see this, you need to sacrifice a little blood- “

“ Blood? Meaning? “ Crabbe asked with a frown.

“ Literal blood. The blood of the innocent, and yours as well, “ Blaise said. “ Only to the one who sacrificed blood will it then show its contents, and mind you, it was not an easy task…” Blaise recalled the night he had killed two of England’s Aurors at Knockturn Alley. That had been fairly tiresome, but challenging and worth it. So he had done his part, and now they needed to do theirs. He had sacrificed three people all in all. The first, of course, was his stepfather. That had been weeks ago. It had been a perfect discovery.

“ This innocent part- how does it work? I don’t understand, “ Adrian said with a glower. “ Do we just choose them by random? Even muggles? Because I, personally, would like that- “

“ No! No dirty blood here! “ Blaise said, annoyed. “ Just pure bloods to be killed, even half-bloods will do fine, as long as they have wizard blood in them. “

“ How did you solve this? “ Daphne asked with incredulous eyes. “ It would be impossible to know right? “

Blaise nudged his chin toward Nott’s direction. Nott was sitting with his arms across his chest. He was smirking at Daphne.

“ He broke the hex? Or whatever was guarding it? “ she shrieked. She had never wanted Nott to be in the circle, never! He was a traitor! He didn’t have the spine to actually work to help the Master win!

“ He figured out the way, “ Blaise replied. “ That’s just it. “

Draco looked at Nott. He was impressed. So he had broken through Snape’s journal. But how did he do it? Did some enchantment guard it? Or was it just a simple riddle? He instinctively knew that the journal was found in Snape’s old muggle home, lying amongst the ruins of his house, hidden inside a leather bag. Nott had been clever enough. No, Nott was very clever. The once stringy Slytherin brat had some use for the Master, after all.

“ Tell us, “ Warrington said, his eyes suddenly looking alive.

Nott cleared his throat, as if enjoying the sudden attention; everyone was eyeing him now, even Daphne who had been such a bitch the entire time. “ I searched the house- Blaise had been thinking about it for quite some time- after Snape had died. Months ago, Blaise contacted me, needed my services, actually, my expertise in finding things- You do all remember Snape had been fairly secretive? But he always carried a little notebook, I’m sure you even caught a glimpse of that in Hogwarts? “

Daphne found herself nodding. Snape had inserted something in his pocket once, and she had accidentally come into the Potions room earlier than the expected time. He had glowered at her…

Draco recalled it as well, the night they had fled Hogwarts- the night Snape killed Dumbledore when he should’ve done it…he saw it twice, and each time Snape had been annoyed when he had been caught scribbling things on it. He had thought nothing of it, thought…it was just some little notebook with records of his potions, probably…until now….

“ So…I went to this dreadful muggle place and searched through the house. I found it, of course, and I knew it meant something. Why else would an empty notebook be wrapped up so much and placed inside a leather bag? Snape meant for us to find it. The Dark Lord had probably ordered him to do so; knowing Snape might meet his downfall. I tried all the spells I could; I took it back home, studied over it, and I must admit, Snape had been fairly good with sealing spells. I didn’t sleep for almost a month. Until one day, I accidentally cut myself, and as my blood dropped on the cover of the notebook, the notebook almost glowed before my eyes. So I cut an even deeper wound and spilled out quite a lot of blood, spilled it all over the cover just to be sure, but it didn’t work. It just gave a soft luminosity. But I knew then that blood had to be sacrificed. “

“ You killed someone then? Warrington asked.

Theodore Nott bobbed his head up and down. “ Definitely. Definitely. Some half-blood, I suppose, since I spilled his blood on the notebook and the words had come out faintly. The first entry was dated before we had our final year at Hogwarts. Snape had been working on this for quite some time, and this was an exceptional back-up plan. He wanted to make sure….so I killed someone, since I knew that we’re all for purity and we are Slytherins after all, but a half-blood was the first I could find, thus the faded looking words, but after I killed some pure-blood widow in Romania, the words came to life! Like they were freshly written! “ He was laughing now, sadistically. “ You have no idea how pleased I was! “

“ So it just needs plain blood? “ Daphne asked. “ Nothing more? It does not choose the reader at all? “ She eyed the book hungrily, eager to please the Master. “ It doesn’t matter what kind of blood is spilled as long as you’ve spilled yours as well? Not that- but Snape was a half- “

“ That I do not know, “ Nott replied. “ But so far, Blaise and I have read it. And I assure you, it would be worth all the killing and the blood. “

“ So when does the horcrux come in? “

“ Be patient, “ Adrian snapped at Daphne.

Daphne glared at him but she just pursed her lips together and looked at Nott once more.

“ Blaise and I read the book together- couldn’t live without me- the man, “ he said, looking at Blaise. Blaise frowned. “ We found it on the last entry, dated the night Harry Potter fought with Voldemort- “

“ Dated the night Draco betrayed him! “ Daphne said heatedly.

“ So, “ Nott continued, as if he hadn’t heard say anything at all. “ He mentioned something about a plan, some scheme to thwart the Master’s complete disappearance from the face of the earth. He had done it according to the Master’s bidding- and there was a reason then, that Harry Potter didn’t die. When the Avada Kedavra was cast on him, it rebounded to the Master. He hadn’t meant to create that horcrux, but it would be his last one as well- it seems as though his failed attempt to kill Harry shattered a part of his soul, a shard into Harry Potter’s heart. He had felt it, he knew it, but he was too shriveled up by then- “

“ All thanks to you! “ Daphne screamed accusingly at Draco. “ Where the hell is the eighth horcrux then? Where? Just where! “ Daphne had by then stood up and was pointing at Draco.

“ You’re pointing at him, “ Nott replied simply.

There was a collective gasp and Daphne slowly sank back into her chair, staring at Draco, her face as white as sheet. Her hands were trembling. She shook her head. “ He’s that important to the master? “ she asked tearfully. “ But he- he betrayed us- “

“ Then this is his atonement, “ Blaise said. “ That’s why I said Draco was right; he could walk into that room and snatch away the Master’s wand. He has a man’s heart- a heart recognized by the Vaults- someone pure, although I doubt he isn’t- “ he gave an uneasy laugh as Draco stared at him intensely. He felt uncomfortable and cleared his throat. “ He has Harry Potter’s heart. “

Daphne kept shaking her head. How? Why! She had no idea! Her parents never said anything about this! None at all! And they had been loyal, she had been loyal! And here he was, suddenly important, now more than ever!

“ How did that-? “ Warrington’s voice faltered.

“ Later, “ Draco said harshly. “ We talk about this later. First things first. A waltz would be too easy. We have to expect the worst, let’s not be brash. The Vaults recognize Harry, he’s been trusted, I however, still am Draco Malfoy, I only have his heart, and that may not be enough. Now Harry was an Auror, with access to the Vaults on specific days or tasks- I may have the possibility of cheating on the spells, using his heart- but that remains to be planned. “ He stopped and looked at Nott who had his hands clasped together. “ Nott? “

Nott looked at Draco’s eyes and nodded.

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A dark brown owl hooted above them, perched on a sinister-looking dead tree. Vines hung all over it, dead vines too, that looked ominous enough to any superstitious person- even for a witch or wizard.

“ I just heard, “ Dean said as they sat in the same place. It had been over an hour, and the shadowy movements in the windows had ceased. Ron looked at him. “ What? “

“ That Malfoy had a heart attack or something like that. “

“ Oh that, “ Ron said. He frowned. “ Just a mild one, I was there. word flies so fast, doesn’t it? Good old wizard communication. “

“ How’s Hermione? “ Lee asked, puffing a cigarette.

“ Fine, “ Ron replied quickly. “ And stop asking questions that isn’t my business or yours. “ He scowled.

His three comrades laughed.

“ Easy on the pressure now, “ Lupin patted his shoulder twice.

“ Just- just mind your own beeswax! “ Ron mumbled.

They laughed again. Lupin’s eyes drifted once more to the old Riddle house. There were strange shadows again…this time, they moved faster. “ Look, “ he said softly. He pointed to the house again. “ Did you see that? “

They all nodded. Dean stood up and dusted off his cloak as Lee took one last puff and squished the end with his dragon hide boot.

“ Shall we get going then, sir? “ Ron asked.

Lupin nodded. Whatever was in there, they were ready.

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They stepped inside the house as quiet as mice. Or rather, as quiet as cockroaches. It was dark, of course. The air was stale and it reeked of urine and decaying wood, probably some gang of kids broke the place up further since shards of glass were all over the floor.

“ Lumos, “ Lupin whispered. A tiny light emitted and he surveyed the room. They were standing in the middle of a living room. A chandelier hung overhead, missing a few pieces of crystal, the carpeted floor smelled of cats and moths. “ Keep your eyes open. “

Ron nodded, treading quietly. He looked up the fireplace and saw a fading portrait of what was once the great Riddle family of Little Hangleton. By all means, Tom Marvolo’s father was indeed a captivating man, who along with his father, the Senior Riddle, looked very dignified and haughty. Well, so was Mrs. Riddle. Her chin held high, with a string of white pearls around her neck. They sure were a nice family to look at….a nice family to wipe out entirely, all thanks to their grandson. Voldemort had done well on destroying the lineage.

“ And this is what Gringott’s wants to possess? Ugh, “ Lee whispered as he walked toward the kitchen. “ Bad property…”

“ Maybe there’s something here of value to them, ” Dean said. “ Like gold or something…or….something that belongs to he-who-must-not-be-named….”

“ Suppose there’s nothing here….” Ron said eyeing the kitchen. Half of the kitchen roof had fallen down. “ Maybe we should go upstairs? It’s almost always the upstairs. “ He rolled his eyes.

Lupin had gone ahead and was climbing the long staircase to the second floor. It creaked and groaned under his weight, and he knew it would crumble anytime soon. “ Be careful, “ he said to them as he began to ascend to the fourth step. All of a sudden, a shot of light burst forth from the landing of the second floor, hitting Lupin’s shoulder. Lupin fell and Ron rushed to him as Dean and Lee ran upstairs, wands in hand. Lupin groaned.

“ Did you see what that was? “ he asked as he stood up with Ron’s help.

“ No, too quick! “

“ Get going then! “

Ron ran up, his heart pounding. He always liked his missions. Gave him the feel of adrenalin. But somehow this mission gave him some ominous feel. He landed on the second floor and saw another flash of light.

“ Ron! Look out! “ Lee shouted.

Ron ducked just in time. The man was cloaked in black; his wand was brandished in the air. He cast another hex and Lee avoided it, and so did Dean. He was fast. Another hex missed Ron by a millimeter.

“Impedimenta!" someone shouted. Lupin had arrived, breathless as his hand stretched out for the hex. The man in the cloak froze immediately.

They rounded up on him, ready to expose the cloaked person. Lupin quickly pulled off the cloak, and it landed on the floor with a soft thud. Their eyes widened. This was not the usual cloaked man you captured during incursions!

“ Pansy Parkinson! “ Ron gasped and he wanted to laugh. But boy, she was a fast one when it came to hexes.

Pansy’s eyes moved slowly. She couldn’t move at all but her mouth turned ugly. “ Fuck it. “ Her voice was angry.

“ Is that all you can say? “ Dean asked stifling a laugh. Pansy glared at him and faced Ron Weasley, and her face turned sourer as she eyed him.

“ Mrs. Sarovic, “ Lupin began. Pleasure to meet you again. And what are you doing in the Riddle mansion at this time of the night? Does your husband know of your whereabouts? “

She held her chin high, her lush dark hair waving around her face and refused to answer. Ron took her wand away from her hand. She hissed. “ What would it matter to you Aurors? “ she spat out the ‘aurors’ quite sarcastically.

Ron laughed, finally. “ God, when you hissed back there, I would’ve mistook you for a snake. No wonder you’re in Slytherin! “

Lupin and the others laughed as well. She stubbornly held her head high, still bound by Lupin’s spell. “ What’s my affair is my affair. My husband will be looking for me, so I would demand that you release me, I’ve done nothing. “

“ We make it our affair when someone’s creeping about in the Riddle house, Mrs. Sarovic. “ Lupin smiled genially at her. “ And what’s with the defense mechanisms? We haven’t asked you anything, yet. “

“ What are you doing here, that’s a simple question. Now, if you would answer it, we’d be glad to release you, so you could go back to your husband, “ Lee said.

“ I wanted to see this place. I heard Gringott’s wanted to possess it, and I thought this would make a good addition to my husband’s estates. I plan to renovate the house if all goes well- “

“ In the middle of the night? “ Ron snickered. “ Please, Pansy, lie better for Slytherin’s sake. “

“ So what of the time? My husband’s busy, so I cater to my own affairs tonight. I wanted solitude, to get the feel of the house, to see if I really wanted it, “ she said with a raised brow. “ So far, I like it. “

Lupin shook his head. “ I don’t consider that a good excuse, Pansy. “

“ You let me go, or I will have my husband- “ she breathed out angrily but stopped.

“ Or you will have your husband what, Mrs. Sarovic? “ Lupin asked calmly.

“ I will have you burned and staked, I’ll make you suffer if you refuse to release me, “ she said indignantly. “ My husband will- “

“ I’m afraid he’s not here to do that yet, Mrs. Sarovic, “ was Lupin’s reply. Ron and the rest found themselves laughing. “ I suggest a simple explanation – the truth, would do you good. “

She took a deep breath, still hating the idea that she was still bound in Lupin’s spell. “ All right, I will tell you. “ She glared at them and took another deep breath before opening her mouth. “ I’m here because I wanted to help my husband. He is- “ she paused for awhile. “ He is a fan of he-who-must-not be-named- “

“ In other words, a supporter, “ Ron said sarcastically.

She raised a brow at him. “ No! Nothing like that! He collects- remnants of whatever is that of the deceased Riddle. He is quite a fanatic, having saved in even some of his clothing, placing it in some huge room. You could call it his museum for Tom Riddle and other things related to the history of being pure-blooded- “

“ Either your husband’s a fag, or he’s nuts, “ Ron muttered.

“ He is neither! “ she said angrily. “ I have done this on my own, for my husband. He does not know I am here. I had heard rumors once, years ago, that Tom Riddle used this place to recuperate for awhile, killing off a man, and the caretaker of this mansion. I had heard he had left a few precious things, like weapons, perhaps, even books that may contain his writings. “

“ All for love, “ Lee sighed mockingly. “ Isn’t that right, Pansy? “

She nodded once and brusquely. “ I have said it all. Release me. “

“ You will come with us, Mrs. Sarovic. We will escort you, personally to your husband, “ Lupin said calmly. “ He will be summoned of course, at the Ministry offices. “

Pansy blanched.

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Author notes:

So you guys read about the 'new deatheaters', a younger lot of them, and i must say i had fun creating the characters for this chappie. I have a soft spot for Slytherins too. I'd like to think of them as good looking and talented- not the way they're described in other stories. I think it's nice to be fair- give them a little edge too, instead of being described as stupid or arrogant, even ugly. This chapter is actually a definitive moment for this story, of course. hehehe. So the plot thickens for this chapter...will the next chapter be more exciting or will more cliffhangers be present? Will Draco have the courage to tell Hermione about everything?

Sorry if i updated late, as most of you know, i took a little vacation to thailand. and of course i had fun! thailand is like shopping heaven!

till next chapter? or not. ^_^

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