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 Author's Note: I do not own anything HP. There is a reference to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 21, which has been marked with an asterisk. 






Incredible CI by flyingdove @ TDA!

It hadn’t been that long since Draco had left his compartment, but by the time he got back everyone was dozing peacefully in their seats. He was able to sit quietly for a bit, occupied by his own giddy thoughts (Ginny kissed him! She actually kissed him!) until the trolley witch rapped on the door, waking the others. After that, it was all talk and excitement again, until the train finally pulled into the station.

Students and luggage flooded out of the train. Many parents were already on the platform, waiting for their children. Draco didn’t bother looking for his own father and mother -- he’d Apparate himself back to the Manor.

He spotted Ginny closer to the front of the train, dragging her trunk behind her. She caught his eye and winked. Loony Lovegood was walking dreamily beside her. Before Draco could smirk back, he saw something advancing behind the pair that made his stomach drop.

A cloaked, masked figure, still unnoticed by the rushing crowd, was behind Ginny. Actually -- Draco looked around, panicked -- many masked figures. The platform was swarming with Death Eaters, suddenly appearing left and right.

All hell broke loose. Parents were screaming for their children, trunks were flying, and blinding lights from spells ricocheted overhead. Draco frantically tried to find Ginny again. He dropped his trunk, not caring if he found it again, and ran towards the place he’d last seen her. He couldn’t call out to her -- that would put her in even more danger. With blind panic he raced through the stampeding crowd, trying to catch a glimpse of Ginny’s bright hair.

Something hit him hard from the side, knocking him off his feet. He clutched his wand, trying to regain his balance, and pushed forward. Finally he saw her. She was still with the Lovegood girl, but something was wrong. A Death Eater had grabbed both Ginny and Lovegood around the wrists, his feet planted, ready to Apparate away. Draco discreetly pointed his wand at the Death Eater, muttering, “Relashio!”

The Death Eater was blasted away from Ginny, but still held tightly to his other hostage. Draco watched as Ginny launched herself at the Death Eater. But she only met air as the Death Eater Apparated away, taking Lovegood with him.

Ginny shrieked with fury. “Luna! No!” Her parents got to her before Draco could, dragging her from the platform. She kicked and screamed as they held her, angry tears streaming down her cheeks.

Draco felt sick. It all had happened so quickly. He wanted to run to her, to go with her, to help somehow, but even attempting to do so would put them both in danger. He just stood, helpless, as the platform emptied. The Death Eaters seemed to get what they wanted, and Disapparated quickly out of the station. A tall man in colorful robes ran to the spot where the Lovegood girl had disappeared. The man fell to his knees, sobbing openly crying for “Luna, my Luna!”

Draco turned away from the sight, sick to his stomach, and disappeared from the station with a crack.

------

He landed hard in front of the Manor. A searing pain shot through his arm, but surprisingly it was not the arm that was Marked. Draco swore as he pulled back his right sleeve, which was already soaked with blood. A large portion of his arm, muscle and all, seemed to have been hacked out of his body.

The adrenaline that had shot through his body on the platform was wearing off. Draco trembled as he hurried through the gate. The front doors opened before Draco reached them. Blood was flowing freely from his arm, and he swayed slightly on the spot as his mother pulled him into the house, ushering him up the stairs instead of into the dining room. Once he was in his own, familiar bedroom, he allowed himself to succumb to the pain and blood loss, his vision going black.

------

Light filtered through the curtains in Draco’s bedroom.  He allowed himself to wake slowly, the events of the previous day rushing back to him. A dull pain throbbed in his right arm.

He sat up in his bed, examining himself. His mother had left him in his pants, but had apparently long since Vanished the bloodied dress shirt. The wound in his arm looked about half-healed. New, pink skin covered the area. He’d have to check with his mother to see if it would leave a scar. A bit of dried blood was still on his arm.

Draco’s body protested as he pushed himself out of bed and into the shower. He knew he didn’t have much time; his mother was probably already aware he was awake, and itching to check on him.

Fully showered and dried, and dressed in a clean shirt and trousers, Draco made his way down the stairs of the Manor. His mother met him halfway.

“Darling,” she smiled as she greeted him.

“Mother. How long was I out?”

Narcissa enveloped him in an embrace, holding him close for a moment.

“Two days,” she said, sighing as he held her son. “You gave us quite a scare. But we must move quickly, son. They’re waiting for you.” A frown crossed her face. Draco didn’t need her to say it. He knew without words that his mother hated the fact that their home had been overrun by the Dark Lord and his lackeys. That it was being used in such a disgraceful way, harboring criminals and keeping helpless people in the cellar.

Draco’s shoulders slumped. He’d been hoping for at least a few days of normalcy. It was stupid to even think it. A normal, happy Christmas wasn’t possible for anyone these days. He wondered vaguely if Ginny--

He stopped himself. He couldn’t let himself think of that while he was here. Couldn't let himself think of her while he was here. It wasn’t safe.

“What do I have to do this time?” he asked his mother, trying to distract himself from the memory of Ginny’s lips that suddenly invaded his mind.

Narcissa’s face darkened. “You’ll be in the basement,” she muttered bitterly.

So Lovegood had been brought here after all. Draco should have expected it. He nodded once at his mother and continued down the stairs.

“Draco!” exclaimed Aunt Bellatrix as she swept into the Hall. The doors of the dining room swung shut behind her. “Finally! We have a special job for you, my pet.” She practically buzzed with excitement. Insane, demented woman, Draco thought. He allowed himself to be led through the Hall and down another set of stairs to the basement.

Bellatrix opened the old door, revealing the prisoners inside. The sight of Ollivander was no surprise -- the old man had been down there since the summer -- although he looked thinner and more sickly than the last time he’d seen him, but Draco wasn’t fully prepared to see the battered blonde girl sitting next to Ollivander. She looked up as the light flooded into the damp dungeon. Her long hair was tangled and dirty, and she looked as if she’d already experienced a fair bit of torture in the short amount of time she’d been down there. Thick ropes cut into her wrists, as if there was a way she could even escape from the dark room. Neither of the prisoners had their wands. There were no windows.

“Make sure they don’t die,” Bellatrix said disdainfully, as if she didn’t care if they actually did. She turned and left Draco with the prisoners.

He stood in the doorway, unsure of what to do. Interacting with the old man had been fairly easy -- Draco’s main job was to bring him upstairs for “questioning”, and carry him back down afterwards. But Lovegood couldn’t be there for interrogation. She couldn’t know anything.

Draco went through the motions of unbinding Lovegood’s hands and checking around the room for anything that could be used as a weapon. Suddenly a serene voice punctured the silence.

“Thank you for taking off the ropes.”

He turned, looking at Lovegood curiously. A grateful smile lit her face.

“Do you know why I’ve been brought here? It’s a bit damp.”

Draco shook his head, taken aback. Was she actually being polite to the person who was helping keep her locked up? Loony Lovegood must be more loony than he had originally thought.

“That’s all right,” she continued. “I’m sure I have a purpose. Could I please have some water?”

Still stunned silent, Draco nodded and left the makeshift dungeon, bolting the door behind him. A great rush of air left his lungs, as if he’d been holding his breath the whole time he’d been in there.

A few minutes later he returned, levitating a tray behind him. No one would notice a few sandwiches missing from the kitchen, and Draco knew the two prisoners would never survive without more nourishment. He placed the tray and a jug of water on the floor of the dungeon. Ollivander and Lovegood watched him. As Draco turned to leave, he heard Lovegood thank him again.

He shrugged, not knowing what to say, and again locked the door behind him, leaving the prisoners in darkness once more.

------

Draco quickly became accustomed to his responsibility of watching the prisoners. It was rather repetitive. Each morning he was to bring a meager portion of food down for them, and a small jug of water. Barely enough to keep them alive. The Dark Lord wasn’t even doing anything with them, just holding them there.

After tending to the prisoners the first day, Draco’s mother explained that Lovegood was brought there to help “persuade” Xenophilius Lovegood to support the Dark Lord. He’d get his daughter back once Potter was found. The editor of the Quibbler had immediately started printing “Undesirable No. 1” on the cover of his magazines. Draco asked what would be the fate of the Lovegoods after they caught Potter. His mother just pursed her lips, not answering. Apparently the Death Eaters didn’t intend to keep their promise to old Lovegood.

------

Christmas was a sad affair. Although the Dark Lord had been inexplicably away the last few days, the Manor was still infested with Death Eaters. There was no tree, no presents, no cheery Christmas dinner prepared by house-elves. Draco spent the day in his room, trying not to sulk. He wasn’t a child anymore -- he didn’t need those things. All the same, he avoided everyone, choosing to not even take daily rations to the prisoners in the cellar. He didn’t think he could look into their sad, sunken eyes again. It was selfish of him, he knew. At least that evening he’d be fed something, even if it wasn’t a savoury feast.

It was after dark when his mother knocked on Draco’s bedroom door, letting herself in.

“Darling,” she said gently. “Have you been down today?”

He knew she was referring to the prisoners. As cold and proud as Narcissa could be, she was still a mother with a heart. The thought of an elderly man and a child shivering and starving in the Malfoys’ basement on Christmas was apparently too much for her.

“We are not animals,” Narcissa chided.

Draco rose from his bed with a sigh. He followed his mother to the kitchen, where a small tray had already been laid out with a meager meal. Narcissa passed it to Draco, and he carried it to the cellar.

“All right, stand back,” he announced, as he always did when visiting the prisoners. He pushed the door open. The light from the hall illuminated the dank space, and Draco saw Ollivander hastily hide something in his hands. The wandmaker and Lovegood stared at Draco in dismay.

Lovegood looked back and forth between Draco and Ollivander. “Er, Draco,” she said, drawing attention to herself. “Thank you for bringing us some food. We were just discussing whether or not it’s actually Christmas.”

Draco couldn’t get used to her polite tone, no matter how many times she conversationally thanked him over the days. She should hate him.

He shrugged. “Yes, it’s Christmas,” he whispered, speaking to them for the first time since he’d been put on guard duty.

Lovegood’s pale face beamed at him. “Happy Christmas, then.”

Draco hesitated before wishing her a stuttered happy Christmas back. His eyes fell on Ollivander, who was still holding his hands behind his back.

“What have you got there?” asked Draco tiredly. He honestly didn’t care if it was a pebble or a wand. He just wanted everything to be over.

Lovegood answered for him. “It’s a nail,” she replied with a defeated sigh. She looked at the floor sadly. “Mr. Ollivander, would you hand it to me please?”

Draco stood as Ollivander passed a small object to Lovegood. She held the nail out in her hand, waiting for him to take it. In the back of his mind a voice spoke. You can help them, it said. You don’t have to be like the others. He almost ignored it, but the voice pressed again.

You’re not bad.

It sounded like Ginny.

“A pale?” Draco blurted without thinking. He knew he sounded like an idiot. “Pale? Yes. I am pale.” He spoke mechanically, blundering over his words. He didn’t know really what he was doing, but he set the tray on the ground and backed out of the cellar, ignoring the flabbergasted expressions on the prisoners faces.

Back in the safety of his bedroom, he realised what he’d done. Part of him was panicked -- what if someone found out? -- but another part of him felt oddly weightless. It was such a small act, seemingly insignificant, letting them keep a rusty, old nail. They couldn't do anything with it, surely. But somehow he felt like it would help them. Somehow it was important.

------

Christmas break was almost over. Luckily the Dark Lord had rarely been at the Manor, so everyone was able to relax a bit over the holiday. Draco had dutifully brought meals to the cellar, often sneaking more food than he was instructed to. He whined about his assignment to his parents, acting like he was above such tasks, and declaring he was being treated like a house-elf. But he was grateful the lot fell to him. Others wouldn’t be so gentle with the old man, who was looking more and more like a skeleton every day. Draco knew he couldn’t sneak enough food for Ollivander to put more meat on his bones. And Lovegood, who was one of Ginny’s best friends, was slowly losing her brightness, becoming a shadow of her once vibrant self. Draco knew she was worried for her father. “He’ll do it,” she whispered one afternoon, as Draco passed her a cake from upstairs. “I wish he was stronger, but if he finds Harry, he’ll do it…”

He’d never seen someone look so utterly defeated. Even when classmates bullied and teased Loony Lovegood she had kept her serene smile on her face, choosing to see the best in others. And yet there, in the dark, damp cellar, Lovegood still found a way to be polite to Draco. Even after he’d told her, in a rushed whisper, that her father had not only *tried to trick the Death Eaters into believing he’d caught Potter, but also tried to trade a ridiculous headdress as well as an Erumpet horn for his daughter. She had only sighed sadly and thanked Draco for his news.

“What will they do with him?” she asked in a small voice.

Draco shrugged. “Probably Azkaban. They won’t bring him here, and they won’t kill him, not yet anyway…” Lovegood nodded once, retreating back into a corner of the cellar.

Draco tried to smuggle them as much food as he could before he had to leave for Hogwarts, abandoning all sense of protecting himself. He knew he would pay dearly for it if he was found out, but some things were more important than self preservation. Ginny taught him that.
 







 

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