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Hey everyone!

Wow, sorry for the horrendously late update. November has been a really rough month for me what with getting a new job, NaNoWriMo, the tyke getting sick, and just a whole lot of personal issues. Not to mention that the muse has been holding this chaper hostage for a while now.

Either way, I hope you enjoy!

xx LCF




Deep in the confines of Knocturn Alley, walked a man with dark hair in long and brisk strides. His cloak billowed out behind him and dark eyes looked piercingly ahead. Though it appeared that he walked on without the slightest regard to anything he came across, he was highly attuned to all of his surroundings. Including the hooded figure that followed him from several meters away.

Severus Snape took a sharp turn in the following alley, one he knew to be well secluded and a dead-end. When he reached the end of the alley before it turned to stone he whirled around.

“You may come out now, Narcissa.”

The Disillusionment charm she had placed on herself quickly faded and several wisps of her long blond hair escaped the confines of her hood. She looked at Snape with eyes that were both hard, yet yielding. It seemed the weight of Draco’s task sat heavily on her shoulders just as much as it did on her son and husband. She opened her mouth to being speaking, but Snape promptly cut her off as he walked forward and seized her arm before they disappeared from the alley altogether with an indistinguishable pop.

When they materialized once more, they stood atop a hill looking over an expanse of grasslands. The wind sent waves streaming through the fields and picked up Narcissa’s hair along with it. The air was warm where they stood, not yet marred with the cool foreboding of winter.

Narcissa turned sharply towards Snape as he let go of her arm. “Where are we?”

“Deep in the south of Portugal. The Dark Lord has eyes and ears every where, it would be most unwise to hold a conversation that could get us both killed.”

“So what is it?” he asked.

Narcissa took a deep breath before settling herself; her eyes grew hard with steadfast determination. “First and foremost, Severus, we shall follow the rules of diplomacy. I shall speak my mind and you will mind your tongue until it is your turn to voice your opinions.”

It was a demand for confidentiality, something she was going to share with him that she had no intention for to reach the Dark Lord’s ears. This could be treading very dangerous waters; Snape, however, merely nodded sharply and bore his gaze down on her.

“My son is in danger.”

“Indeed.” He agreed. “The Dark Lord is assured of his choice for this mission. He knows Draco will fail.”

“He knows that he will get him killed! If not by Dumbledore’s hand then by the Order’s, but either or, his death will ultimately be on the Dark Lord’s head and he knows this! He knows that Draco will die. He knows that Lucius and I will grieve terribly for the death of our only son.”

“The Dark Lord has yet to forgive Lucius’ failure to provide the Prophecy. The only reason that your husband is with us today and not in Azkaban is because he will be of more use to him here, and he intends to punish him, punish the both of you, for his mistakes.”

“But why Draco? Why not take something else, anything else, from us?”

Snape took pause as he took a deep breath. He knew that despite Narcissa’s hardened exterior that she was on the verge of hysteria. “He knows of your stillbirths Narcissa. He knows of the children who died before they ever lived. He may take your money, and he can take your power, but he knows that nothing will harm you as greatly, as deeply, as Draco’s death will. It is his wish.”

“Then change his mind, you whose opinion and thoughts he trusts explicitly!”

“You and I both know that I cannot do that. His mind is made up, and there is no going back. Aside from that, Draco has accepted the mission—“

“Because he had no choice!” Narcissa snapped. “My son can be a fool at times, especially in matters that concern his family! Draco will be relentless in his attempt to kill Dumbledore if he knows that my head and that of his father’s, lies on the line!”

“Then there is not much that we can do.” Snape replied evenly.

“I will not let my only son become a pawn in his game!” Narcissa hissed. She was clearly angry but the tears that welled in her eyes were nothing but full of worry.

“I cannot allow my son to do this, Severus.” She whispered brokenly. “He doesn’t understand what will happen to him—he doesn’t even understand what sort of burden that has been placed on him the moment he was born!”

“I am aware of that, Narcissa. It’s been two days since he unknowingly used… He has yet to wake up since his little incident in the drawing room. I must say though, the Dark Lord was very pleased at the spectacle.”

Narcissa said nothing, she merely crumpled onto her knees, and tears streamed down her cheeks as cries of despair rang through the air. At the sight of her, Snape bent down and when he spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically soft.

“I shall do what I can Narcissa, of that I will assure you. Do not lose hope. Draco is a competent and very talented wizard. He shall figure out a way to get out of this alive.”

After several moments, Narcissa looked up at him and nodded weakly. She stood with his aid and after another moment passed, they vanished from the hilltop.

***

When Draco opened his eyes, his limbs felt like they had been filled with lead and his head throbbed painfully. Slate-colored eyes opened for a moment before shutting firmly as a hiss of displeasure escaped him at the sight of the morning sun. It was first light, the usual time he woke up, and he groaned in displeasure to being woken from his sleep, wanting nothing more than burrow further into the silk sheets of his bed and bury his face beneath the pillow. But his body had other plans and Draco grudgingly stood up and trudged off to the bathroom to prepare for the day.

As he walked past his calendar, Draco stopped short. It was currently September 17, two days after his meeting with the Dark Lord. Two days. Had things really gone to hell in just that short span of time? Before Draco’s mind could sink further into the despairing topic, nature’s call was mercifully insistent that morning. He trudged off once more, intent on not dwelling on what happened two days ago if he could help it. He needed time to let it sink in before the gravity of the situation pulled him under…

The cool water from the marble basin coated his face as he looked into the mirror, Draco’s eyes taking in his appearance. Bags had formed beneath his eyes and his skin had a slight gray tinge to it. He’d been spending too much time indoors recently, and the lack of sun was beginning to grow obvious. This wouldn’t do, Draco was still Seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch team and he needed to look like he was still well. Forget well, he needed to look like he was alive.

Pulling an emerald towel from the silver hanger, Draco dried his face and brushed his teeth before making his way back into his room and slipping on his Quidditch gear. Today was a good day for flying and his new broom practically begged to be taken out.


***

Gray eyes closed thoughtfully as the sensation of the wind seeped down to the bone. Despite the fact that the air grew cooler by the day—a sure sign of winter’s steady approach—the familiarity of being up in the air, suspended by nothing but sheer will and an enchanted broom while he stormed through open sky, was one that Draco welcomed with open arms. It had been far too long since he’d mounted a broom, and even though this was barely his first lap around the Quidditch pitch, he was extremely glad to have it. Draco put gentle pressure on his handle, steering towards the right as he came around the next bend of the oval-shaped stadium. Reds, blues, greens, and yellows melded together in a blurred palette; and by the tenth stand, the world ripped by faster than what his own brain could keep up. He let out an exhilarated breath, relishing the feel of gliding through the air at breakneck speeds.

Up in the air, Draco was free. He could forget all about his troubles, forget about the impossibility of his task, forget about the weight of duty that rested on his shoulders, forget about everything except the way flying made him feel.

And for just a moment, he was nothing more than a boy in the sky.

After an hour of wasting time at the pitch, Draco touched down in one of the visitor stands (where the parents and other guests usually sat during a match), and took a seat; elbows propped on the second row of seats behind him as he reclined. His Firebolt—because there was no bloody way he was going to let Potter have one when he didn’t—was leaning against the first row of seats next to him, the polish gleamed dully because of the overcast weather. He tipped his head back, exhaling loudly through his mouth as he stared up at the bright sky.

“You know, I’m not an expert on these things, but surely being up this early and sighing at the sky is looked down upon by people our age. Especially seeing as there are no classes today and therefore no need to be up at this hour.”

Draco started, his back going rigid as he sat up abruptly. His gaze immediately landed on his intruder; a chap about his height with dark hair, dark eyes, a Cleansweep resting on both shoulders while he looped his arms over it like handlebars, and a bemused expression on his face. Draco instantly disliked him. Gray eyes narrowed before Draco snapped his head forward, going back to his silent musing and ignoring the intruder altogether. After a terse moment, it seemed that whoever this bloke was, he was clearly not getting the message of Leave Me the Bloody Hell Alone, since he took a seat a few spaces down from him.

“Fantastic weather we’re having, isn’t it?” He offered, giving him a quick grin.

Draco peered over at him from the corner of his eyes, slightly wondering why the hell he hadn’t left yet.

“It’s great weather for flying. If we get weather like this during a few of the matches, Hufflepuff might have a chance for the Cup this year.” He pressed on, not the least bit bothered that Draco sat there mute and fixed him an annoyed glare.

A Hufflepuff? Draco sneered distastefully at the thought.

“I’m Aleron Cyrus, by the way.” The bloke said, coming over and extending his hand in greeting.

Draco turned his head to the right slightly, casting a quick glance at the hand that waited to be shaken before snapping his eyes back to his face in a challenging manner. Really, was he serious? Draco shook hands with no one. He also didn’t tend to show respect or be courteous to people of little importance either. What was this guy thinking?

Aleron brought his hand down with a smirk. “Ah, a man of few words I see. No worries, I know who you are. You’re Draco Malfoy.”

Something uneasy nestled itself into the pits of Draco’s stomach. It wasn’t uncommon for other students to have heard of him. He had his reputation after all and it wasn’t like he didn’t just use the Potter Brigade to torment. Ruining peoples’ lives and reputations was an equal-opportunity pastime, and he was never one to discriminate when it came to that. Draco would have gone as far as to call it his hobby.

So his reaction took him completely by surprise at the fact that this bloke whom he’d never laid eyes on before now knew his name. But it seemed that the longer Draco sat with him, the more prominent the feeling was. It was like the previous annoyance he had felt had been replaced by this unease that he wasn’t accustomed to. It was more than enough to have red flags pop up everywhere.

Perhaps Draco had begun to grow paranoid.

“Not that I care, but is there something you need from me?” Draco asked icily. His eyes narrowed in distrust and obvious contempt.

Aleron, or whatever his name was, merely smiled at him and the notion sent a shiver down Draco’s spine. The bad kind (Yes there was a good one). Aleron opened his mouth to reply to him when suddenly loud steps could be heard on the wooden stairs. Draco whipped his head around in time to watch Blaise finish climb the last step and make his way towards him.

“Hey mate, I saw you flying a few minutes ago and thought I’d come get you so we could get a bite to eat. What are you doing up here anyway?” Blaise asked as he took a seat next to him.

“Nothing, I was just being bothered by…“ Draco whipped his head around to glare at the Hufflepuff but he had vanished. He turned back to Blaise, his brows furrowed. “—Nothing of importance, just clearing my head for a bit.” Draco amended as he stood.

Blaise threw him a confused look but shrugged it off. He seemed to be in a chipper mood this morning. “If you say so. Come on, let’s go eat. I’m bloody starving.”

Draco let out a droll snort. “Don’t ever say something like that again, Blaise. You sound like Weaselbee.”

“I’ll have you know that I take great offense to that, good sir.” Blaise said, looking affronted. However it was short-lived when his eyes zeroed in on Draco’s Firebolt that was perched innocently on the seats. A wicked smile came onto his face that Draco didn’t like for one bit. That was usually the smile Blaise got when he had something devious in mind, which normally wasn’t a bad thing, but this was the first time Draco had been on the receiving end. “As recompense I shall relieve you of your broom.”

Before Draco could react Blaise had snatched the Firebolt and threw himself over the railing. Draco rushed to the wooden railing and leaned over, his eyes falling on the small figure that suddenly launched itself into the sky. An exhilarated laugh met Draco’s ears.

“You better bring it back in perfect condition, you bloody git!” Draco yelled half-heartedly as he shook his head incredulously. Honestly, Blaise could be so immature at times.

Draco checked the time on his watch as he climbed down the stands. He still had three hours before breakfast was over, giving him plenty of time to head back to the Head’s Tower and take a quick shower and get a change of clothes. After that, he had to get back to business and Draco planned to take full advantage of the Hogsmeade weekend they had today.

***

Whatever it may be that you need, remember that the Malfoy name carries much weight. Use it to your advantage.

The words that Draco had read a quarter of an hour ago replayed in Draco’s mind. It had been his father’s message to him, the note that he had placed in his pocket before following his mother out of the Drawing Room several nights before. Had it really been just two nights ago that one of Draco’s most important people had been used as an ultimatum against him? Had it really been just two nights ago that he had been given an impossible task, an impossible choice? Was that really what his life had come down to? Kill Dumbledore or have his mother killed?

The thought made bile threaten to rise up his throat.

Mercifully, before his mind could take a turn towards darker, more sinister, thoughts, Draco was pulled out of his mind when he felt an arm loop through his own. He peered down to find Pansy’s piercing hazel gaze, the curve of her lips twisted in a semi-smile as she dragged him over to the gates where Blaise, Daphne, and Astoria waited.

“Pansy, I have something to do today.” Draco stated, allowing himself to be dragged along.

Pansy merely rolled her eyes. “Excuses, I swear. Draco, we haven’t seen much of you lately. I saw you once during the summer, Blaise three times, and the Greengrass’ didn’t until the Hogwarts Express where you sat with us. But even then you weren’t completely there. It’s been two weeks since beginning of term and we don’t see you unless we’re eating or in class. You haven’t even stopped by the Slytherin common room, for crying out loud. We’re worried about you, Draco. I’m worried about you. Just come have a round with us at the Three Broomsticks, no underage wizards are allowed entrance today. Please?”

Draco fixed her a flat stare that she took to be his agreeing. Letting a mischievous smile curve her lips, Pansy dragged Draco over to their little group with a satisfied aura, albeit it was slightly marred by the sheer smugness she emitted.

“Look who I found skulking around.” She said once they got there.

“I was not skulking around.”

“Technicalities,” Pansy waved off. “Anyway, Draco’s agreed to come for a round with us. Haven’t you, Draco?” she asked, her tone sweet but held the tiniest hint of malice. Not many people knew this, but Pansy could be terrifying when she wanted to be.

He fixed her a glare before muttering a succinct, “Yes”.

Blaise merely smirked before clapping him on his back and turned to extend Daphne and Astoria an arm each before he made his way down the down-trodden path, a smirk on his face all the while. No doubt the giant prat was still pleased with himself for managing to take Draco’s broom. The thought made Draco scowl slightly; if Blaise got one scratch on his precious broom, he was going to have to kill him. Or do something that would make him wish he were dead. Perhaps Draco should disclose the information that Blaise used to sleep (and sometimes still did when there was a particularly nasty storm out) with a stuffed dragon to the Daily Prophet’s gossip column. Yes, that would be an appropriate form of retribution.

An impatient tug from Pansy’s arm pulled Draco out of his daydream and with a small scowl from his part, and a smug smile on hers, they made their way after Blaise and the Greengrass’ and towards The Three Broomsticks.

True to her word, today the Three Broomsticks only permitted wizards that were of age to enter, which immediately raised Draco’s spirits slightly. It was always a good thing when one didn’t have to deal with sniveling First Years. Especially those from Gryffindor, though Hufflepuff came in a close second.

Pansy and Draco were first to arrive from their little group, which didn’t surprise them much. Astoria was still underage at fifteen, and there was no doubt in Draco’s mind that Blaise and Daphne had gone to find a secluded alley somewhere and sneak in a quick snog under the guise of dropping Astoria off with her year mates. Which was about time, Draco thought amusedly, those two had been dancing around each other for years.

Rosmerta came by and took their orders. Pansy ordered herself a cup of herbal tea while Draco ordered a quick shot of her firewhisky. When Rosmerta turned away with their orders Pansy raised a skeptical brow at him.

“Firewhisky?”

Draco shrugged. “Just needed a pick-me-up.”

Pansy rolled her eyes but didn’t press on it. Instead she crossed one leg over the other and rested her cheek on her hand in a bored fashion. A small moment of silence passed between them and with an irritated huff, Pansy broke the silence. No surprise there.

“So what have you been up to in these past few months?”

“Just here and there. Spent a week in France with mother in August, visited the châteaux.”

“—The one on the outskirts of Cannes?” came Blaise’s voice as he and Daphne slid into the booth.

“That’s the one.” Draco nodded, stealing a sip of Pansy’s tea that had arrived in a bewitched serving tray before setting it down with a grimace. “What is in that thing?”

“Rosemary and chamomile, it works as a cleanser and fat burner. It also does wonders to my skin, although the taste does leave much to be desired.”

Across from Draco, Blaise rolled his eyes. “I will never understand females. Honestly Pansy, you’re as thin as a rail. Personally I think you could stand to gain a few kilos. At least that way you’d get some sort of curvature. Why, take a look at Ginny Weasley. She may not be as voluptuous as some of the women that usually catch my eye, but she’s certainly got stuff worth holding on to. If you catch my drift.”

Both Pansy and Daphne wore incredulous looks while Draco snorted ruefully. “Really Blaise? What happened to last year’s speech on the train of ‘Not touching a filthy little blood traitor no matter how she looks’?”

“I’m shallow, alright?” Blaise said. Daphne muttered something under her breath that sounded a lot like “And shameless too.”, before she fixed a glare in his direction.

Blaise merely shot her a wink.

Draco rolled his eyes at their antics. Perhaps they hadn’t gotten together after all. Either way; he’d finished his round with them, and now there were more pressing matters that he needed to attend to. He placed a galleon on the table as he stood to leave.

“You’re leaving already?” asked Daphne.

“Yes, I’ve got things that I need to do.” He replied before casting Blaise a glance. The dark wizard sobered up immediately at the sight and nodded stiffly. “I’ll stop by later when I’m finished so we can return to the castle together. First round’s on me. I’ll see you lot later.”

“See you, mate.” Waved Blaise.

After Daphne and Pansy both gave their goodbyes as well, Draco was on his way.

***

Draco walked down the cobbled street alone, his eyes glanced about back and forth to make sure no one paid him any mind. They didn’t. He was just about to reach a small alley that turned off and lead to the Hog’s Head when the sound of raised voices stopped him short.

“—will you stop this already? It’s been our fifth fight in two weeks! What’s the matter with you?”

Hushed whispers met Draco’s ears and he guessed that whoever was replying for the first person’s voice was trying hard to provide discretion. As he rounded the corner, those responsible for the argument came into sight and he stopped short.Granger stood with her back to him as she talked with Weasley. Despite the gentle tone she used, her body was rigid and her hands were clenched tightly, forming tiny fists.

“I am not going to discuss this out here with you Ronald. We’ll talk when we’re back in the castle, please. Just not in front of Ginny and Harry. Not when we’re out here trying to have a nice time.”

Weasley opened his mouth to reply, when his eyes suddenly fell on Draco’s still form. He sent Draco a sneer before he turned on his heel and marched off, and left Granger to look after him with a confused expression on her face.

“Ron, wait! RON!” she called, but it seemed that Weasley was intent on ignoring her.

Granger exhaled loudly, her shoulders slumped forward as her head hung slightly. Draco took this as his cue to leave, but as luck would have it, the moment he started to walk forward was the very same one where she turned around. She froze at the sight of him, her entire body going rigid with apprehension and she quickly schooled her features into appearing indifferent.

They ignored each other as he walked forward, his gaze glued to what laid ahead of him, as if she weren’t there at all. It wasn’t until he was passing her by, that her soft voice reached his ears, far sadder than the tone it ever took on after he insulted her.

“How much of that did you see?”

He paused slightly, though he wasn’t entirely sure why he did so. Draco only stood there for a moment before he continued on his way. But not before he replied to her.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He didn’t stop to listen to what she had to say, he merely walked forward, intent on ignoring her and headed down the side alleys that lead to the dingier part of Hogsmeade and out into the outskirts. He had to try and put as much distance between he and the tiny village before he took his leave, if not he ran at risk of being seen by one of the students and with the large number that usually visited. That would be a very likely case to happen if he wasn’t careful enough.

As the distance between he and Hogsmeade grew, Draco’s thoughts became slightly scattered. Errant thoughts whirled in his mind as he moved closer to his destination. The note that his father had tucked into his coat, the anxiety his mother must surely be in at the moment, his own self-doubt gripping him like a vice, and, inexplicably, Granger’s face that had the expression of unfathomable sadness and heartbreak haunting it.

Deep in the recesses of his mind, Draco idly wondered if he looked the same.




You know what I love about filler chapters? They add more depth to the story. Yeah, they can lack anything remotely interesting but they give characters a sense of life, and that I think, is really good.

So... just thought you guys should know, this will be a SLOW BURN. And what I mean by that, is that the Dramione-ness of the story will come at a slow pace. And when I mean slow, I mean, so agonizingly slow you'll want to kill me because of how long it takes. But I want it to be REAL, or as real as it gets for us anyway, and I don't want a wishy-washy romance where they fall in love by chapter 10 or something. No. The Demon In Me wil be around thirty chapters at the least.

That is all. I hope you enjoyed it!

xx LCF

P.S. Another reason for the lack of chapter updates is the fact that I also created a new "story". And the reason I say "story" is because it's really more of a collection of one-shots and drabbles that I wrote while I experiment with some writing styles and techniques. So go check it out on my Author's page. :)

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