Pansy dreamed of secrets. This time there was no comfort in the fact that Draco’s skin was not radiating heat against hers. Instead, she tossed briefly against the images invading her eyes- the telltale green light she had come to associate with impending death shining in each scene. She watched the Dark Mark illuminate a familiar skyline. Screams rent her visions. Hogwarts was crumbling, the stone walls collapsing, and London was teeming with armies of wizards even as the ground split and shook Then, suddenly, all was quiet. The city’s streets were gray and silent, the sky an opaque white, and ashen rain was falling. In the center of a street stood Draco, dressed in black, and he turned his eyes on her. Even as her gaze penetrated the storm tossed depths of his, they silver-grey irises she knew so well narrowed and deepened in color, revealing crimson slits.
Pansy awoke, and for a moment her lungs were iron. The breaths within her coiled like fog.
Forcing herself to relax, she breathed audibly. The sky was still dark, and intuition told her this was not the stony silence preceding dawn. It was still night.
Forever, she had dreamt of secrets.
Not always hers, though her secrets would certainly be enough to drive her to sleepless nights. She dreamt of the secrets of centuries, of shadows, of shades. Upon waking, however, her secrets were always what kept her eyes open, and tonight was no different.
Secretly, she wished for youth.
She wanted the carelessness of childhood, yearned for the freedom that she had always taken for granted. She wanted the choices, wanted the simple decisions that had seemed so agonizing, wanted the thrill of exploring, of a new touch, a new word, a new discovery.
Secretly, she wanted to dream.
She wanted to feel as though she were climbing toward her every fantasy, wanted to feel as though if she only tried harder, stretched farther, she could touch everything she had ever wished for. She wanted to envision her own world, and not one in which she played the same part as a hundred others.
Secretly, she was tired. Secretly, she was ashamed. Secretly, she was hopeless and regretful and disgusted and sorrowful and desperate and so very afraid.
Secretly, she worried that the one thing she might actually need might just be lost.
Draco, fearing his father’s wrath, had spent almost an hour searching for the potion ingredient he had been sent to fetch, but it wasn’t anywhere in or near the stables that he could see. Why he had been sent and not a servant, he couldn’t fathom, but at seven years old he was hardly going to ask.
He wondered if Pansy was still in the playroom. Surely she would be waiting for him, as she always did- but even as the thought occurred, he heard a scream, a high-pitched and frightened scream that could only have come from the voice of a little girl.
The voice seemed to have come from above him, and the playroom was a floor below. Sure she had done something silly again (like the time he pushed her in the stream and screamed bloody murder until Narcissa Malfoy could levitate her out) her ran up the stairs and toward the source of the scream.
When he saw that the door to his father’s study was open, however, he hesitated. Both of them were strictly forbidden from entering the room, but even as he hoped he had mistaken the source of her noise, he heard a whimper and, sighing, he pushed the door open.
“Pansy?” he called down the stairs. “Pansy, what’d you do now?”
“Draco?” she said, sounding frightened. “It’s cold, Draco.”
He found her lying stiffly on her side, one half of her body so frozen it seemed she couldn’t move it. “Pans?” he said, whispering. “I’ll get my father.”
“No!” she cried, he fears of the wizard battling with her pain. “Please stay here, please don’t leave me-“
“Pansy, there’s nothing I can do,” he said exasperatedly. “Just stay here.”
Pansy wasn’t sure why this particular memory rose within her at that moment, but she swept it away. She had no time for memories, and no time for dreams.
It was then that she heard the voices.
They were loud and heated, and obviously belonged two men having an intense argument. Pansy slipped her clean robes on and emerged from her room, and stood in the shadows. The two men approached rapidly, and before they reached her she could tell their identities- Blaise and Theodore Nott.
“They couldn’t have been,” Blaise said wildly, waving his arms in emphasis. “The Ministry had no idea of the Dark Lord’s plans. There wouldn’t be any reason for them to be staking out that particular house.”
“I tell you, I saw them! At the Ministry, escorted by Aurors! You know they were never bright, any one of them could have let it slip-“
“Without the Dark Lord knowing? Without him seeing into their worthless minds? You said yourself, Crabbe and Goyle were never bright. You were mistaken, Nott,…”
They had passed her by now and their voices faded with the distance.
The pain from Draco's ankle had dulled somewhat, and with vigorous effort he had managed to wriggle his gag out.
Life had improved.
But still, his head was throbbing, and without his wand he felt weak and powerless. The ropes that bound him were as tight as ever, and he couldn’t turn into a more comfortable position without agony from his broken bone.
At the moment, however, he wasn’t struggling. His mind was focused, his eyes shut, as he concentrated with all his will on his wand, willing the magic to call it to him. He had been trying for hours, it seemed, and nothing had happened but for a dull ache arising where he had clenched his teeth.
At least he knew he had time to escape before Azkaban. Ministry regulations meant there was paperwork to be filled and witnesses to call, he probably wouldn’t be moved from the Ministry holding cells until several days had passed. It surprised him how dirty the cell was, knowing the Ministry and the regulations that had cropped up after Rufus Scrimgeour’s death- the new Minister, a self-righteous but powerful man- believed in fair treatment of all convicts.
And yet, here Draco was, feeling anything but fair.
Shockingly enough, this wasn’t the worst he had felt, though undoubtedly this was one of the worse situations.
“Crucio!” high, cold voice called, and both their screams echoed off the walls. Twitching and writhing in agony, Draco and Blaise Zabini yelled almost in unison.
Abruptly, the pain stopped, though both knew it was only a matter of time before it began again. Failure was not something looked kindly on by the Dark Lord, especially failure by some of his highest ranking servants.
“After explicit instruction,” the Dark Lord said, his voice low and dangerous, “I find that the two of you managed to make such a mistake. Was I not clear enough?”
As he spoke, he drew his wand slowly up, and both men were dragged upright as though rope were tightening around their necks.
“You kill the subjects, yes- and then allow a witness to escape?”
They were gasping and panting now, rising upwards, their feet unable to find purchase on the ground.
“A witness that could have jeopardized the entire plan- that could have reported straight to the Ministry had not I intercepted him?”
They were moving forward, closer to him, both turning steadily blue as their airways were constricted.
“You are glad, no doubt, of my mercy. You will leave this hall alive, because I am a kind and just Lord.”
They were now only a foot apart, both forced to look deep into the haunting crimson eyes as the lowered one hand to each of their left forearms. Their cries of pain rebounded once more around the chamber as he touched them, and burns began to spread from the point of contact. He held his hands there for several long moments before raising his wand once more. With a contemptuous flick, they were thrown bodily from the hall, slamming open the doors.
”You will not fail the Dark Lord again.”
Draco couldn’t imagine pain more excruciating than the pain he had felt that night. It had been beyond him, beyond his every imagining, until had he not been who he was he would have begged for death rather than a continuation.
He hadn’t failed the Dark Lord since, until the events of last night, but his mind wasn’t focusing on the punishment sure to await him, for it could never come if he were locked in Azkaban, feeling his sanity drained from him as he awaited the date of his last kiss.
Slowly he began to drag himself toward the door, disgusted by his weakness yet unable to perform any more dignified movement. He could see, from a certain angle, a portion of the hallway outside the door. A lone table sat nearby, by no one occupied the chair beside it. This was strange, as he knew for a fact Ministry prisoners were kept guarded at all times. On the table he could see only a tankard, what appeared to be an old wireless, and a copy of the Daily Prophet. From the headline he could see, there was no mention of a capture of several Death Eaters- this too was highly unusual, as the Prophet made a point of announcing every capture made, to raise the country’s low morale. Again, Draco felt the brush of realization on the edge of his consciousness, but exhausted, he slumped down and didn’t concentrate on it further.
The situation was dire. He could see no escape until the situation changed- until he were brought upstairs for trial, perhaps, and that could take days.
Days in which the world could change.
Not for the first time, he thought of Hogwarts. This thought led him logically to Pansy.
She was so different, from him, from anyone else he knew, from any of the girls he had previously spent frenzied, heated nights with. She was so unusual in the way her eyes saw what no one else could, in the way she could know his thoughts without his ever speaking them aloud, in the way she, like no one else, could look at him and remind him of rain and fear and fire and quiet all in the same instance. She, who’s touch could change from soothing to burning in seconds.
For a moment, he pondered her, his mind calling on a thousand memories of whispers and fights and kisses and denials. She wasn't good for him- he was worse for her.
He forced his mind to anything but Pansy and it landed, resolutely, on his surroundings once more. Why did it seem so surreal to be here? He hated with a passion the feeling of wrongness, the feeling that told him he was missing something desperately important, but it persisted until his eye fell on the wall in front of him, stained and filthy and covered in dirt, and shockingly, blood, as though the Ministry had suddenly forgotten its humanitarian aims, as though the previous occupant had clawed, desperate and caged, against its boundaries.
As though they were trapped in a horror beyond capture.
As though they were trapped in the den of demons.
And with an overwhelming wave of nausea, Draco knew what he had missed. He was not in the Ministry, had not been captured by Aurors.
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