The Darkness and The Light
“So…,” Ron said slowly, “he’s taken her to the manor?”
“Yup,” said Goyle as he knelt down on the ground now seeming interested in catching a fish by hand.
“How did they get there?” Harry asked.
“Apparated, I’d say,” said Crabbe, watching Goyle and continuing to throw rocks into the lake.
“He’s going to get in trouble!” Ginny exclaimed, not considering her words beforehand. The tone in her voice was not one of concern, but a general tone. However, this made her brother and Harry fix their eyes on her as if she had said something stupid; she had.
“Who cares?” Ron mouthed.
“Must be nice when your Dad is practically the head of the Ministry of Magic,” Crabbe went on. “You can do whatever you want and no one cares. Draco is always getting in and out of hot water because his dad works for the Ministry.”
“How can WE get there?” Harry asked.
Goyle nodded towards the woods off in the distance. “See that?”
Ron and Ginny followed the direction that he nodded to and saw nothing. They thought that whatever he was nodding to was perhaps concealed by trees and shrubbery. Harry, however, seemed to see exactly what Goyle was talking about.
“What’s that doing there?” he asked.
“It’s Draco’s,” Goyle took his hand from the water and got to his feet. “It’s been trained to find Malfoy Manor from anywhere. Kind of like a homing pigeon. Only it’s a…”
“A what?” Ron cut him off, craning his neck and even standing on tiptoes to see what they were talking about.
“It’s a Thestral,” Harry told them.
“It’s his pet,” Crabbe informed them. “That’s why it’s here. The groundskeeper takes care of it for him.”
Ginny was not the only one shocked to learn that Malfoy had a pet Thestral and that Hagrid was looking after it. She was, however, the only one to realize that the Slytherin boys were not as stupid as she originally thought. Then again, she thought that not only was the serum making them talk, but maybe it was making them seem like they had common sense.
“Do you think we could take it?” Harry ventured.
“Go ahead,” they said together.
Ron, Harry and Ginny looked at one another wide eyed, they couldn’t believe their luck. Leaving Crabbe and Goyle to themselves, they took off for the woods with Harry in the lead. Once out of earshot, Ron said:
“How did that happen? Why was that so easy?”
Ginny shrugged. “Maybe they’re highly susceptible to Veritaserum.”
Ron nodded to her in agreement. “Apparently.”
They were just a few feet away from the tall, black winged creature when Harry stopped dead in his tracks and turned to Ron, out of breath.
“Muggles have a saying, Ron. It goes ‘don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’.”
Ron and Ginny exchanged looks of confusion and then Ron’s gaze went to Harry.
“What does that mean?”
“It means don’t ask questions, just accept it for what it is and be happy about it.”
They headed for the Thestral again, walking this time. Ron and Ginny found themselves wondering exactly how they were going to get on a creature that they couldn’t see. They knew Harry would help them as best he could, but felt intimidated by the idea of mounting the beast just the same.
“See, Granger, I…” Malfoy began but was soon interrupted by the sound of screaming voices. Hermione knew without so much as a first guess that Lucius and Narcissa were fighting again.
She looked over her shoulder, where the noises outside were coming from, and to Draco who only sat and listened with a troubled frown on his face.
What was being said was hard to tell, but what seemed to be usual, the voices indeed got louder. Hermione secretly wondered how Draco endured such a life. After what seemed to be a great deal of time, the voices died down to a small roar, Hermione entertained the idea that maybe they were using normal speaking tones now.
A few moments more passed and soon there was the sound of approaching footsteps that went on passed the room where Draco and Hermione sat, the sound of a woman moaning in what could be deciphered as pleasure, and then the sound of a door slamming.
“The way he treats her is despicable,” Draco said with disgust.
“That happens often?” Hermione asked, now shutting out the guttural noises that came from the room where Narcissa and her husband were.
Draco nodded. “I don’t know that they have ever loved eachother. I’ve grown up around them doing this all the time, fighting like that.”
“Maybe it wasn’t always so,” Hermione said softly. “Maybe they loved eachother once upon a time. I mean, they had you, right? “
Draco smirked and for the first time since kidnapping her, he turned his back to her as though he wanted to be alone with his thoughts. Hermione thought he would stop here and continue to his usual brooding that he seemed to revel in, but much to her surprise, he spoke:
“Not all parents want their children, Granger. Maybe where you come from, but not where I come from. The only reason they have me around is…I’m lucky to have been born a boy. If I had been a girl, who knows what could have happened? Father wants someone who will take his place at the Ministry, a man who will carry on the Malfoy name.”
Hermione merely sat and listened, trying to show no sign that she felt sorry for him. She knew that she shouldn’t, but she somehow couldn’t help it. Draco got to his feet and walked towards the back of the room once more, out of her sight. She couldn’t see anything but the occasional sight of his white blonde hair as the moonlight played upon it. She heard his footsteps go from one point, stop, and then return to their original place. He was pacing.
“What that man thinks of children is appalling,” he went on, stopping in just enough light for Hermione to see that he was pointing in the direction that the noises were coming from. “I won’t tell you the sordid details, Granger, but I will tell you about something that happened about two months before the new term was to start. I was supposed to be in bed asleep, but for some reason, I wasn’t sleepy. I don’t remember. I just lay there wide awake and sometime later, I heard them in their bedchamber, talking. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was reluctant about what she had to say, whatever it was. She sounded as though she was trying to choose her words carefully, but Father wasn’t having it. He had had a long day at the Ministry and was in no mood for foolishness. She eventually told him that she suspected she was pregnant again,” his voice trailed off and when he spoke again, Hermione would have sworn that he sounded like he was on the verge of tears. He had come into the light again and stopped. He sat down on the floor, crossed his legs and hung his head as he brought his hands up to rest on either side of it. “This wasn’t exactly news to me, although I had kept that to myself. I had overheard her talking to a house-elf a few days before she decided to tell Father. She was happy. It came as a welcome surprise to her.”
Hermione found herself speechless and wondering why he was telling her this. “What did he say when she told him?” she managed to say after a moment.
“He was enraged. Said that there was no need for another Malfoy child. Said that I wasn’t supposed to have happened in the first place, but I was lucky that I had been a boy or…,” he caught himself, cleared his throat, and went on. “Then he accused her of sleeping with another. She denied it and I knew she was telling the truth, I know my mother. She’s loyal to my father. She loves him. He went on to yell about how he didn’t believe her and that if she was indeed pregnant, it wasn’t his. He accused her of sleeping with anyone less than a pureblood. The fight that night was the worst one I had ever heard. I wanted to go to her so badly, to protect her. I knew that he would hurt her.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“When I was twelve, I learned not to stand up to Father. He cast an Unforgivable Curse on me and made me almost drown myself in a pond just off the grounds.”
Hermione winced slightly and shook her head. She knew from past experience that Lucius Malfoy as a horrible man, but had no idea the lengths he would go to just to punish his own flesh and blood.
“How did you get out of that?” she asked, her voice almost a whisper.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m here,” he paused a moment, reflecting on the incident from his childhood. As if banishing the thought from his mind, he shook his head and continued:
“That night, I could hear him hurting her; he was hitting her and throwing her up against the walls. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I shut it all out and went to sleep. I’ve been kicking myself for months now because I was too scared to go to their chamber and stand up to him.”
Hermione didn’t like where this was going. From Draco’s words, she automatically assumed the worst:
“So, she was pregnant?” she asked as a sinking feeling came into her stomach. The loss of a child like that must be unbearable. She patiently waited for what he had to say, but hoped that she was wrong.
“No, thank Merlin. The worst part of it was, she spent two weeks in St. Mungos drinking internal healing potions because dad had messed her up so badly.”
“Draco, I’m sorry.”
He got to his feet and walked to her, standing over her and watching her. “Yeah, well…”
“Why am I here?” Hermione asked, hoping to catch him off guard with the question that he seemed to avoid so well.
“I keep telling you, you belong to me. I can’t have you messing around with Weaslby.”
“I love him, Draco. I’ve done all of this with you because of him. I never thought I was good enough for him, I thought he didn’t feel the same way. But now I know differently. He loves me back. That means more than you could ever know.”
“Love? You’re talking to me about love?” he smirked and once more crouched down so that he was at face level, looking her directly in the eyes. Although he was this close, his face was shadowed and the moonlight cast across his eyes; making them sparkle with something that Hermione could not pinpoint but she knew by the way her insides lurched she didn’t like it.
“I am. I’ve waited a long time for him to come around and now that I know he feels the same way I do, everything has changed. I want to marry him one day, Draco. Have his children,” she bowed her head with a frown on her face. “I wanted to lose my virginity to him, but you stole that.” She knew a hint of bitterness had crept into her voice and she didn’t care, she secretly caught a glimpse of the look on his face. It was pitiless, just like she had assumed it would be.
“Forget about him, what can he offer you? His family is poor, for Merlin’s sake. What we have is love…”
Those last words were what made Hermione jerk her head up and look at him as though he had just grown a third ear. “Excuse me?” she asked.
“What we have is what my parents have and that’s love,” he explained this a little too plainly for Hermione’s liking. What he had was a warped sense of reality.
“What we have is nothing, Draco,” her voice was not quite a yell, but was something close. “What we have is wrong and never should have begun!”
He grabbed her wrists and held on as tightly as he could. She could feel his fingertips pushing into their undersides as his gaze fixed squarely onto her face. “You see,” he growled. “This is exactly why you are here, you loathsome, filthy little mudblood! I am so sick of your self-righteous, better-than-thou attitude! You think that just because you are best friends with that Saint Potter,” he sneered at the name as though it made him physically ill to speak it, “that you can do anything and treat people any way that you like!” He shook her as he went on. “It isn’t that way! Just because you’ve read all those books and you’re so smart…”
“You said you liked that about me!”
“I lied, Granger! I’ve been lying for a month now! Don’t you know how you repulse me? Everything that has happened has been for one purpose and one purpose alone and that is to bring you down and put you in your place! See, the truth is, you aren’t worthy of anything that anyone could offer because you’re a foul, stupid, worthless Muggle born!” He gave her one last shake, bringing her off the floor ever so slightly and then threw her back down on the ground, sending a sharp pain through her knees as they met with concrete. “THAT, Granger, is why you are here…”
On those words, he drew out his wand and pointed it directly at Hermione. She watched in fear as she wondered in the back of her mind what spell he had in store for her.
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