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Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Major Character Death
Harry Potter - J. K. Rowling
Draco Malfoy/Harry Potter
Draco Malfoy, Narcissa Black Malfoy, Lucius Malfoy, Severus Snape,
Harry Potter, Minerva McGonagall, Albus Dumbledore, Ron Weasley,
Dobby, Petunia Evans Dursley, Vernon Dursley, Gilderoy Lockhart,
Arthur Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Filius Flitwick, Remus Lupin, Sirius
Black, Anthony Goldstein, Alastor Mad-Eye Moody, Luna Lovegood,
Hermione Granger, Viktor Krum, Rita Skeeter, Voldemort, Bartemius
Crouch Jr., Nott Sr., Fenrir Greyback, Avery Sr., Bellatrix Black
Lestrange, Cornelius Fudge, Original Female Character(s), Kreacher
(Harry Potter), Sybill Trelawney, Neville Longbottom, Cho Chang,
Ernie Macmillan, Dean Thomas, Nymphadora Tonks, Emmeline
Vance, Kingsley Shacklebolt
Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Canon Rewrite, Plot, Dark,
Genius Draco, Ravenclaw Draco, Mentor Snape, Science,
Mathematics, Philosophy, Friendship, Friends to Lovers, Love, First
Kiss, First Time, Slow Build, Kidnapping, Torture, Psychological
Torture, Mind Control, Murder, Gore, Playlist, Novel
Part 1 of Chaos Theory & Quantum Flux
Published: 2014-04-25 Completed: 2014-07-09 Chapters: 78/78
Words: 102711

Chaos Theory
by Tessa Crowley (tessacrowley)

Chaos: when the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not
approximately determine the future. One gene varies, one neuron fires, one butterfly flaps
its wings, and Draco Malfoy's life is completely different. Draco has always found a
certain comfort in chaos. Perhaps he shouldn't.



because AO3 is dumb and won't let me modify the properties of my hyperlinks. Ugh,
right? As of 13 May, 2015, all playlist links should be working. If you come across a

broken playlist link, please leave a comment and let me know! I will dispatch my
highly trained team of computer-using monkeys to fix it.
This story will eventually get quite dark, and as such it comes with a HUGE TRIGGER
WARNING for graphic depictions of torture, physical violence, and murder. If these
might trigger you I absolutely cannot recommend reading!
Further, in an effort to be spoiler-free, I cannot guarantee a happy ending (though by the
same coin, I cannot guarantee a bad one, either). Read at your discretion!

See the end of the work for more notes

28 May, 1990
To be great is to be misunderstood.
Oscar Wilde

For his tenth birthday, Draco asks his parents for a double pendulum. He has to explain what sets
it apart from a standard pendulum (because if he doesnt, hes sure theyll get him the wrong
present), and that leads to a lengthy conversation about what makes it so special.
He spends a frustrating ten minutes trying to explain chaotic physical systems and dynamic
behavior before his mother cuts him off
Oh, she says, so its to help your little experiments!
Hearing his work in chaos theory referred to as little experiments by a woman who couldnt tell
Edward Lorenz from a hole in the ground is clearly a jab to the ego. He crosses his arms over his
chest to announce his displeasure.
My work is theoretical, not practical, he says. It speaks to your understanding of the field that
you think I would actually be able to replicate anything with a physical instrument as imprecise as
a double pendulum.
Draco, says his father, in that clipped, worldweary voice designed to make him feel guilty about
being so difficult, what purpose could a pendulum
Double pendulum.
could a double pendulum possibly serve you?
The truth is that it really doesnt serve a purpose, or at least not a practical one. As a
mathematician, Draco wants a double pendulum for the same reason historians want a globe. It is
a symbol of his chosen field. And beyond that, a double pendulum is, in itself, a reminder of
chaos, not just in mathematics but in life, something to humble the informed observer to the
entropy of the universe. Trust Dracos parents to not understand the value of symbolism.
And damn it, he just wants one. Why are they being so difficult?
I bet you wouldnt be this obstinate if I had asked for a Newtons cradle.
It certainly would be easier to find than a pendulum.
Double pendulum!
Whats wrong with a Newtons cradle? his mother asks. Thats the same kind of science, isnt
It is not at all the same kind of science! he says shrilly. The purpose of a Newtons cradle is to

demonstrate the preservation of energy. Thermodynamics have as much to do with chaos theory
as a C-major scale has to do with Mozarts symphonies!
Stop being so dramatic, Draco, his father says, as he crosses the drawing room to pour himself a
glass of brandy. Where would we even find one?
I dont know. Gift shops? Catalogues?
I suppose we could have one specially built, his mother offers with a small frown.
By then, his father has filled his snifter and finished off two mouthfuls of brandy. I suppose it
would have been too much to hope for that youd ask for a racing broom like a normal child, he
says, eyeing him disdainfully.
Draco has never understood his parents preoccupation with being normal. In any case, normal
seems to be a nebulous concept that shifts depending on what Draco has done to disappoint them.
Normal is, by turns, inoffensive, nonthreatening, unintelligent, quiet, and complacent. Whatever
normal means, it sounds terrible.
What possible use could I get out of a racing broom? he asks.
His father glares at him. That Draco had never taken to flying has been a constant point of
contention between them.
Merlin give me strength, he mutters, finishing off his brandy in a very large swallow.
Straight past the palate and into the gullet, Father. That is the way to drink a eighty-galleon bottle
of brandy.
Where did I go wrong in raising you? he wonders out loud.
He bites back a comment about him not raising Draco at all. Most of his needs are met by houseelves. Hed only earned the title of father in the most superficial sense.
The fireplace behind him rushes, and when he turns, he immediately forgets all his frustration.
Severus Snape has scarcely stood upright before Draco throws himself at him, and he stumbles
back a few inches with a small noise of surprise. His long, black robe is ashy, but he blows away
the bulk of it with a quick spell.
Good morning, Draco, he says, neutrally.
Thank goodness, Severus, his father says. Will you please do something with this little
Lucius, his mother chides, but she sounds more exhausted than upset.
Ive been tutoring him five days a week since he was four, Professor Snape says, resting a hand
on Dracos hair. What makes you think Ill have any luck this time around?
Draco looks up at him with a smile. Did you bring the textbook? he asks.
Its shrunken, in my robe pocket, he answers. I cant get to it if you dont let me go.
He eagerly steps back, and Professor Snape reaches into his robe, producing a small, thimble-sized

book that quickly expands in his hand. DETERMINISTIC CHAOS, the title reads, AN
INTRODUCTION. Its a heavy, weathered, paperback tome, one thats obviously seen quite a bit
of use. Not surprising, since Draco knows that its from Professor Snapes old days at Cambridge.
At once Draco snatches it from his grasp and Professor Snape sighs at the impropriety, but Draco
is too busy thumbing through the appendices to notice.
An entire chapter on strange attractors! Draco says, and hes so excited that he feels like he
might cry. The only other book on the subject hes been able to find barely touches it.
Lets go to the library and start the lesson proper, Professor Snape says, putting a guiding hand
on Dracos shoulder. Lucius, Narcissa.
Good luck, Severus; Merlin knows youll need it, his father says just before the sitting room
door swings shut.
What is it you did to get them so worked up, if I may ask?
Draco makes a face. Hes nearly found the chapter on strange attractors, though the speed at
which he can turn pages is hindered by the speed at which hes walking.
They asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told them I wanted a double pendulum.
Professor Snape sighs. Draco, you must go easier on them. You cant expect them to know what
a double pendulum is, let alone where to find one.
The question was what do you want for your birthday, not what do you want for your birthday
that we can readily comprehend. Its not my fault theyre undereducated.
Theyre not undereducated, Draco, youre just
Professor Snape stops short, sighs, and shakes his head. He doesnt bother saying it. Theres no
need to; they both know and saying it wont change anything. In any case, theyve had this
conversation too many times. Professor Snape has gleefully given up trying to make Draco
appreciate or even tolerate his parents.
What do you even want a double pendulum for?
Its a comforting metaphor, Draco answers. Id like to have one on my desk.
You find chaos comforting?
I find the certainty of uncertainty comforting. Existence is meaningless, no one knows whats
going on, and we are all eternally at the mercy of an uncaring universe. I just find it easier to
embrace it than to hide behind our abstract concepts of order like they can really protect me.
Youre far too young to be such a nihilist.
Whats wrong with nihilism? Just because life is meaningless doesnt mean its not worth living
or understanding. Id rather have interesting chaos than boring structure.
Together they enter the immense, two-story library of the Malfoy Manor. The large picture
window overlooking the garden illuminates the room with the hazy yellow-white glow of early
morning. Together, they take their usual seat at the table near the window by the nonfiction side,
stacked with parchment and quills.

You know, Professor Snape says, if its a symbol of chaos youre after, youve overlooked an
alternative that would be much easier for them to acquire.
Draco raises an eyebrow at him. Professor Snape reaches into his robe and produces a small, black
rubber ball. He bounces it once on the table demonstratively.
Draco grins. As an introduction to chaotic mathematics, they spent two weeks working out the
physical dynamics of a bouncing ball.
Now all I need is a sinusoidally vibrating table and a large, frictionless room, Draco says, taking
the ball from Professor Snapes hand when its offered to him.
For that, you are on your own, Professor Snape says. In the future, Draco, if you want to avoid
confrontation with your parents, you should let them do something simple for you.
Draco frowns. Psychology was always Professor Snapes area of expertise, not his. How would
letting them help me be of any benefit?
It will make them feel useful to their otherwise self-sufficient son. Run an experiment for yourself
and see.
Draco does like experiments.
Ill need a control group, he muses, studying the worn rubber of the ball. I dont suppose you
happen to know where I can get an identical set of parents.
Professor Snape doesnt rise to the joke. Chapter eight, he says instead. Lets talk about strange
Smirking, Draco sets the ball aside and picks up a quill.

31 July, 1991
Hell is other people.
Jean-Paul Sartre

He will be going to Hogwarts soon, and if Draco expends much more energy aggressively not
caring about it he feels like he might implode on himself.
Draco knows what to expect from Hogwarts. Hes tutored by a Hogwarts professor and is very
familiar with the curriculum. He is confident that there is nothing of any academic or intellectual
value he can gain from a Hogwarts education.
Pity that his attendance is required by law.
Today he is in Diagon Alley, at Madame Malkins robe shop, getting fitted for his uniform. Never
mind that he has plenty of perfectly serviceable black robes already that could be hemmed to
Hogwarts regulation, his mother was insistent on buying a new set. He has been following
Professor Snapes let them feel useful plan for over a year now, and to great success, so if letting
his mother waste fifty galleons on a new set of robes gets her off his back when he stays up till
three in the morning balancing equations, its a small price to pay.
In any case, the robe shop is nice and quiet, allowing him to immerse himself in a troublesome
gravitational equation in his head (the last few months have been a study in macrophysics and
cosmology) when all of a sudden
Startled out of his calculations, Draco turns his head. Standing on the stool next to him is a skinny
lathe of a boy with a head of wild black hair and large, round glasses.
Draco doesnt say anything, which seems to make the boy nervous. Or at least more nervous than
he had been initially.
Uh, the boy says. Hogwarts, too?
What a stupid question. Draco wonders if perhaps hes a bit slow.
I think thats fairly obvious, Draco answers, gesturing to the black robe for which he is presently
being fitted by a spelled needle.
Right, says the boy, looking appropriately embarrassed. I, uh. Have you been there?
To Hogwarts. Have you been there?
Oh, Draco thinks. Not stupid, Muggle Born.

Yes. Hed gone with Professor Snape a few times to raid the library when they couldnt find the
right book.
Whats it like? the boy asks, and his eagerness is showing.
Its a castle in Scotland.
But but what is it like?
Draco stares at him uncomprehendingly. What does he want, an essay? Maybe he is stupid after
all, in addition to being Muggle Born.
Is it big? the boy asks when Draco cant manage a response.
Of course its big. Its a castle.
The poor, possibly-still-stupid Muggle Born boy with the hair like a dead animal is staring at him
like hes expecting something. Draco suddenly realizes that this is what social interaction is like
with normal children his age.
It is terrifying.
Draco looks forward and tries to come up with an efficient way out of this conversation.
So is it?
Look, Draco interjects, I get the feeling that youre not really concerned with what Hogwarts is
like so much as you are rattled about the sudden dramatic shift in the frame of reference of your
reality. I understand thats quite common for witches and wizards raised with Muggles.
He stares at Draco in stunned silence. His mouth is shut tightly.
Theres no call to be nervous. The school has been catering to eleven-year-olds from Muggle
upbringings for hundreds of years. And going by the yellowing bruises on your neck and the state
of your clothes, its bound to be a significant step up.
The boys mouth opens, but he doesnt say anything. After a moment, he shuts it again.
Draco doesnt like the look on his face. He cant quite place the emotion but it looks suspiciously
like awe and Draco does not know how to handle that.
Youll be fine, Draco says, turning forward. The needle hemming the sleeve of his robe is
nearly done, thank Merlin, which means hes nearly ready to leave. People have gone through
this same existential crisis before. The world still makes sense; youre just seeing it from a different
angle. Just keep an open mind and low expectations and youll never be disappointed.
Whats your name? the boy asks, and yes, that is definitely awe in his voice.
Draco Malfoy.
Before the boy can respond, one of the shop assistants heads over to check the work the spelled
needle has done on Dracos robe. She smiles at him and says, Youre good to go.
Thank you. He accepts her help in pulling off the robe and steps off the stool.
Im Harry, by the way! calls Harry as Draco strides right for the exit.

Thats nice, Draco says, immediately forgetting his name.

1 September, 1991
Question everything.

Malfoy, Draco, says Professor McGonagall, pulling Draco out of his own head for the first time
that evening. Most of the day-long journey to Hogwarts had been gloriously unburdened by other
people. Still, as annoying as it is, he should probably do this sorting thing.
He pushes his way through the crowd up toward Professor McGonagall and the stool by which
shes standing. He sits down and she puts the Sorting Hat on his head.
He waits. For several long seconds, nothing happens.
Draco knows just enough about the sorting ceremony to know that something should be
happening, and hes about to say that maybe its broken when a voice suddenly floods his head:
You are not what I was expecting.
Draco is startled. He knows that the Sorting Hat is slightly psychic, but he hadnt considered that it
might be telepathic, let alone speaking in complete sentences. Is the hat actually sapient?
Not in the way you understand sapience, perhaps, but I am a thinking being, yes.
With most long, pureblood lines, its variations on the same theme, but you are a different
creature entirely, arent you?
Draco is wondering what sort of magic would be necessary to create sentience like this, and
whether or not such magic would even be ethical to perform. He is reminded of Frankenstein,
about the dangerous consequences for men who dare to play god.
Are you listening?
Sapience and consciousness without self-governance must be a nightmarish existence. If it were
Draco, he would be plagued at all hours with soul-crushing ennui. He would rot from the inside
out with idleness.
Thats really not
Come to think of it, Draco would also struggle with a profound crisis of identity. Express and
intended purpose does not necessarily equate to personal actualization. Is the Sorting Hat happy
being a Sorting Hat? Does it find fulfillment from sorting? Would it even matter if it didnt?
I dont think this is

And what if it yearns for something more than its intended design? What if, like Dr.
Frankensteins accursed monster, it has the full burden of sentience, of life and love and curiosity
and intelligence, but limited means of expressing it?
Oh, for goodnesss sake.
And for that matter, what kind of spell could even create sentience? Even magic obeys the laws of
conservation of mass, and sentience needs more than just energy to be realized. Surely something
would have to be transfigured into neurons thread, perhaps? But even then
Right, thats quite enough of that.
Silence follows. Professor McGonagall plucks the Sorting Hat from Dracos head, leaving him
blinking out into the Great Hall.
There is some scattered applause, though its slow and those clapping seem sort of confused.
Draco belatedly remembers that there hasnt been a non-Slytherin Malfoy in the history of his
house. He wonders if his father will be angry, decides he doesnt care, and goes back to thinking
about magically-created sentience as he heads toward the Ravenclaw table.
Draco does not pay attention to the rest of the ceremony. He stares off into space and considers
how energy might be manipulated to mimic sentience until Headmaster Dumbledore rises at the
front of the room and says, in between other much more boring start-of-term announcements,
something about students avoiding the third-floor corridor if they want to avoid a painful death.
He has never been so curious in his entire life.

6 September, 1991
Make tea, not war.
Monty Python

After his first potions class, as the other students make their way out, he heads up to the front of
the room, books under one arm. Professor Snape looks up from his notes and after doublechecking to make sure theyre alone offers a small smile.
Good first class, Draco says.
You werent paying attention, Professor Snape returns.
Well, I assume it was good. Youre a very competent teacher.
He imagines that Professor Snape would be more upset by the indirect admission he wasnt
paying attention if either of them were the least bit concerned with Dracos academic performance.
I suppose I should just take that as a compliment and leave it be.
That would be wise. I have a free block up next.
Professor Snape raises an eyebrow.
When he doesnt take the bait, Draco says, Tea?
This is depressing, Professor Snape says.
In what way?
Have you not met anyone your own age yet? Its been a week. Id have thought youd at least
make a few friendly acquaintances.
Ive managed to avoid learning a single name or face, thanks for asking. What would I want with
acquaintances, anyway? Children are useless.
I marvel that you can say these things without a trace of irony.
Professor Snape closes his folio of lesson plans and together they walk toward the back of the
classroom, through the door leading into his office.
Youre hardly one to talk, Draco says. According to castle gossip, youre the most miserly,
misanthropic son of a bitch in the British Isles. If its depressing that a first year isnt making
friends, it must be horrifying that the same can be said of a tenured professor.
Careful, he answers, tersely, as Draco sits down opposite his desk and Professor Snape goes to
put the kettle over the fire.

Im just saying, we might as well find solidarity in our mutual disdain for people.
Professor Snape doesnt answer. Dracos gaze wanders over the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves
lining the back wall, across the mixed selection of aging magical potions tomes and modern
Muggle chemistry textbooks. The whole office is a bit dreary, Draco thinks, but then, Professor
Snape has always valued function over form.
Classes going well? Draco asks.
Professor Snape sinks into his desk chair. The new crop of students is as disappointing as ever.
In fairness, you do have rather impossible standards.
Harry Potter started this year.
Draco makes a small sound of surprise. Did he? I didnt know. Though now that he thinks
about it, he would be about Dracos age.
Looks exactly like his father, Professor Snape says, and Draco cant help but raise an eyebrow
at the startling amount of venom in his voice. Acts like him, too, Im sure. Vile little creature. Its
the Marauders all over again.
Draco doesnt know what the Marauders are, but he can glean enough by context. Be careful,
Professor. To the unbiased observer, it sounds like youre judging someone by the sins of their
And youre an unbiased observer, are you?
Well, Ive never met Harry Potter or his father, so I should think Im less biased than you. Just try
not to make him too miserable is my general point.
Professor Snape sneers and Draco knows hes struck a nerve, which can only mean one thing.
Oh, Merlin, Draco says, what did you do to him?
Did you go twenty-questions on him? Thats what you do to me when youre in a mood.
The kettle whistles and Professor Snape goes to start the tea without answering, which is not a
good sign.
You did, didnt you?
He had his fathers same vacant, manic stare. It was annoying.
Hes eleven years old.
Change the subject, Professor Snape says, and even though he sounds angry, Draco knows that
hes made his point and that Professor Snape will back off. Good thing, too. Draco knows that
Professor Snape has quite a sociopathic streak in him and sometimes doesnt know when to stop.
Theyre silent for a while until eventually Professor Snape comes back over with two cups of tea
(the good kind, brewed with loose leaves Ceylon, by the smell). Draco takes a small sip. Its just
as well he wants to change the subject. Really, Draco only came here for one reason.
So, he says as Professor Snape sinks back into his chair, whats in the third-floor corridor?

Professor Snape nearly chokes on his tea. Its a very telling reaction.
No, he says.
No, he repeats. No, Draco. Absolutely not. We are not talking about this.
Strictly speaking, saying we arent talking about it is still talking about it.
Well, its hardly my fault the headmaster went and made such a ridiculous announcement at the
feast! Avoid the third-floor corridor if you dont want to die, indeed. Why not just ward it, throw
up a perception filter? Its like he wants us to be curious.
You are asking about something that is far larger than you know, Draco, and a great deal more
dangerous. The headmasters warning about death was not misplaced. Leave it alone.
Leave it alone.
Draco throws his head back, letting out his best aggrieved sigh, just to drive home how completely
unreasonable Professor Snape is being. What else am I supposed to do to keep myself occupied
in this intellectual wasteland?
Only you could think of a school as an intellectual wasteland, Professor Snape says. Draco
doesnt need to look to know that hes eyeing him, unsure of Dracos intentions. If you want
something to do, try making some friends. It will be good for you.
Drink your tea, he says, and Draco does.

7 October, 1991
Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
James Stephens

Draco knows where his strengths are. He knows he is almost always the smartest person in the
room, for example. He knows that he is capable of grasping difficult and abstract concepts without
much trouble. He knows hes able to think laterally, to see the whole in the parts, to deduce
abductively from details other people dont even notice. Hes also pretty fast.
But he is not brave. He has never been brave.
That, surely, is why his heart is racing.
He could die. Generally speaking, he could die at any moment from any number of things, but the
third-floor corridor apparently presents a higher-than-average chance of death. Unfortunately, hes
more curious than he is scared.
That would make a great epitaph, Draco thinks.
He breathes once and reaches out for the doorknob.
He casts a quick diagnostic spell. No wards, no filters. The lock on the door isnt even magical.
He could open it with a spell. Hell, with a lockpick. Why is this so easy? Cowardice flares up
again, drowning out curiosity.
He whirls on a heel, heart suddenly in his throat. Standing at the other end of the hallway is a boy
with big, round glasses and hair like a dead animal.
Who are you? Draco asks. How do you know my name?
The boy blinks at him in silence. He fidgets, looking uncomfortable.
We met before.
We did? Wait. Draco squints. His face is familiar, he realizes, and then it hits him. Robe shop.
He smiles, and yes, its definitely robe shop boy. Draco recalls being told his name, but he cant
remember it and is pretty sure it doesnt matter, anyway.
You remember, Robe Shop says, smiling like its great news.
What are you doing here? Draco asks.

I could ask the same of you. Robe Shop walks forward, stuffing his hands into the pocket of his
robe to fight the chill filtering through the hallway. Headmaster Dumbledore said that this
corridor is forbidden. You cant be here.
And yet here I am, Draco says blithely. Its a miracle.
Robe Shop laughs and its the most startling thing Dracos heard all day. Hes not used to making
people laugh not with genuine amusement, anyway. But Robe Shop is laughing, and its
because Draco said something funny, and Draco is no longer sure how to handle this situation.
Not concerned with rules, then? Robe Shop asks, once hes done laughing.
On the contrary, I dedicate my life to rules, Draco replies, doing a very good job of pretending
hes not hopeless with social interaction. Thats why I break them.
That doesnt make any sense, says Robe Shop.
It makes perfect sense if you know anything at all about science. He turns back to the door and
glares at it. A simple alohomora would open it, but Dracos hand wrings around his wand and he
cant bring himself to cast it. In his head, curiosity and cowardice duke it out for dominance.
Do wizards have science?
Everyone has science. Laws of nature dont just stop working because you dont understand
them. He pauses, then amends: Well, sometimes they do, but thats only on a quantum scale.
Are you some kind of genius? Robe Shop asks, and theres awe in his voice again. Draco is
uncomfortable with the word genius and always has been. Hes glad hes still facing the door so
Robe Shop cant see as much. He decides to change the subject.
A wizard as powerful as Albus Dumbledore should be able to hide this better.
Silence for a moment, then, What?
Its just a door, Draco says. Just an ordinary door with an ordinary lock. The spell to open it
could be performed by a six-year-old. There are no wards to prevent entry or filters to obscure its
existence. Why? Why is something so dangerous so easily accessible? And more to the point, why
would he warn an entire school off it and then leave it so exposed?
Robe Shop doesnt answer, which is fine, because the question had mostly been rhetorical.
His fingers itch. Dracos most base instinct has always been look, learn, figure it out, understand.
It pumps through his body with each heartbeat, it sparks in his nerves and ignites his senses.
At present, that instinct is warring with his other instinct to not die.
So are you going to open it?
Draco starts. Robe Shop is beside him now Draco isnt sure when that happened and looking
at him with open curiosity. Draco sets his face.
No reason not to, he says, hoping he can make himself believe it. I dont think anyone has ever
died from opening a door.
Probably not, Robe Shop agrees.
And if theres something dangerous behind it, I can always just close it again. It must be enough

And if theres something dangerous behind it, I can always just close it again. It must be enough
to contain it.
Draco takes a breath. Hes thinking of curiosity and cats when he raises his wand and says,
Click, goes the door, and Draco grabs the handle before he can give it too much thought and pulls
it open.
It appears to be a disused classroom, though any chairs and tables have been emptied out. The
windows are boarded up and all lights extinguished.
In the corner of the room, sleeping soundly, is a massive, three-headed dog on top of a trap door.
There is a curious and addictive sensation in Draco, something that hovers between absolute terror
and enthralling fascination. It makes his blood run hot and his senses razor sharp.
Wow, says Robe Shop.
One of the dogs heads snuffles in its sleep and Draco shuts the door, locking it again with another
Draco has never wanted to know anything so badly as whats under that trap door. In one corner
of his mind he goes through his mental map of the castle, trying to figure out whats beneath this
wing. In another corner, he runs through a list of people he might be able to interrogate for more
I didnt know dogs could have three heads, Robe Shop says.
Its such an obvious statement, miles behind, and the way it contrasts to all the careful charts and
maps in Dracos head pulls a startled laugh out of him.
And then Robe Shop is laughing because Draco is, and it just keeps going, and before Draco
really knows whats going on, he suddenly realizes that this is how friendships must start.

28 October, 1991
It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your lifes story will
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Draco is intimately familiar with the physics of it the effects of angle, velocity, rotational force
and has spent hours working it all out over countless sheets of parchment. He thinks about how
complicated the math is, how abstract the rules are, how wildly different the results if any variable
shifts even slightly, and he thinks about how it is all condensed into this throwing a rubber ball
at a wall.
Its just a matter of training his hand-eye coordination and all of that complexity, all those pages of
calculations and memorized formulae, all boil down to something so startlingly simple,
instantaneous, reactionary. Draco throws the ball; it hits the floor first, then the wall, then returns
to his outstretched hand. It is chaos given form, and the elegance of it is astonishing.
Draco is in awe at the simple majesty of the universe. Or rather, he would be, if it werent for a
particular weight in the pocket of his robe.
Mr. Malfoy.
He catches the ball and turns his head. Professor Dumbledore is coming down the hallway in
bright lavender robes, his eyes glinting over his half-moon spectacles. Draco takes a deep breath
and tucks the little rubber ball into his pocket.
Were you waiting for me?
I was, Sir, yes.
Not for too long, I hope.
No, Sir. May I have a word?
The headmaster closes the distance between them and gives Draco a once-over, his sharp gaze
lingering overlong on his Ravenclaw tie. For a moment, a bare instance, Draco thinks he sees
something like suspicion.
But it is gone in a heartbeat, replaced with a wizened smile. Of course.
Draco inclines his head in thanks. Professor Dumbledore moves past him and approaches the large
gargoyle outside of which Draco had been waiting.
Licorice wand, Professor Dumbledore says to the gargoyle, and it leaps aside with twice the
deftness a stone sculpture should have, opening up to a spiral staircase.
Draco follows him up and into the expansive office, glittering with a thousand instruments both

Muggle and magical. In another situation, Draco would be overcome by curiosity and asking a
thousand questions.
But not now. Not with the weight in his pocket. Not with the weight in his mind.
Whatever it is, Professor Dumbledore says, gliding to his desk and sinking into the high-back
leather chair, it must be quite serious if youre coming directly to me and not through Professor
I dont think it would have done to go though my head of house, Sir, Draco says.
He reaches into his pocket and sets the Philosophers Stone down on the edge of the headmasters
desk. It glints low and red in the light.
Professor Dumbledore does not react immediately. His blue eyes are steady, trained on it with a
great but detached intensity.
My, my, my, he says after a moments pause.
You are one of the most powerful wizards alive today, Draco says. If you had truly wanted to
make this safe, you could have crafted layers of impenetrable wards, put it under the Fidelius
Charm, locked it in a safe. Instead, you put it behind a series of booby traps that an eleven-yearold can successfully surmount.
In fairness, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Dumbledore returns, peering over his spectacles and up at
Draco, I think its clear that you are hardly an average eleven-year-old.
When you rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. Its
Occams razor, Professor. You made it recoverable because you wanted it to be recoverable. The
only thing I cant fathom is why. Why would you bring it up at the feast? Why would you leave
the first line of defense so flimsy? Why would you try so hard to make someone go after it?
Remarkable, says Professor Dumbledore. Truly remarkable. I admit, Mr. Malfoy, when I saw
you sorted into Ravenclaw, I was not sure what to think, but now I understand. I knew your
father. You are not what I expected his son to be.
I notice that you have not answered my question, Sir.
Dumbledore smirks. It would have been out of character if you hadnt noticed.
Dracos nostrils flare and he sets his face. Those booby traps were dangerous, he says. If
anyone stupider than me went down there, they could have died.
Dumbledore chuckles. Id ask why you went down there, but that questions answers itself,
doesnt it? The Sorting Hat chose well.
Draco can hardly believe what hes hearing. Is Dumbledore out of his mind? Draco is accusing
him of putting students lives in danger and hes laughing about it. He doesnt even have the
decency to deny it.
If you must know, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Dumbledore says, mildly, you are quite correct in
your assessment. I did indeed intend for someone to go down there. It was meant to be a test of
character and mettle. I just hadnt anticipated that it would be testing you.
A test of character and mettle? Draco answers, anger rising in his chest and voice. Sir, this is
beyond reproach! What could possibly?

All at once, several dots connect, and Draco is almost knocked over from the force of the sudden,
devastating clarity.
Whereas: there is only one person in the school remarkable enough to call this sort of attention
from the headmaster, and that person is Harry Potter.
Whereas: such a dangerous and elaborate test of character and mettle could not be undertaken
lightly or without serious reasons of profound import.
Whereas: the shortest distance between Harry Potter and anything of profound import is the Dark
Therefore: Lord Voldemort, in some capacity, is still a threat.
Further: Lord Voldemort is not dead.
Draco hates these moments, when his conscious mind races ahead of the rest of him, leaving his
body to catch up, dizzy, breathless, trembling. Its as though the floor has given way underneath
his feet and he cant figure out why because hes too busy trying to find something to hold onto.
Are you quite all right, Mr. Malfoy?
He takes a breath, wills himself to calm down, to not think about the Dark Mark on his fathers
arm, about what this information may mean for his family, for Professor Snape, for him. Theres
time. There must be time, if the Dark Lords greatest enemy can put together something like this.
Does he know? Draco asks in a soft, measured voice.
Does who know what?
Does Harry Potter know that the psychopath who killed his parents is still alive.
Remarkable, Professor Dumbledore says again. You worked that out just now? Yours is truly
a mind for the ages, Mr. Malfoy.
He has a right to know, Draco says, more loudly. Am I the only person in this school who
realizes that we are talking about a child? Conqueror of the Dark Lord or not, he is eleven years
old! I feel like Im the only person who cares about this and Ive never even met him!
Professor Dumbledore sobers a fraction and sits back in his chair. There are parts of this story of
which you are not aware, Mr. Malfoy, he says.
You were ready to throw him into a dangerous pit that could have gotten him killed. Tell me
what kind of context could possibly make that permissible.
He does not answer. Hes leaning back in his chair and staring at Draco in contemplative silence.
Hes just a child, Draco says, wishing that meant more to people.
A war is coming, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Dumbledore says, voice wan. Not tomorrow, not this
year, but it is coming. A war is no place for a child.
Then dont try to make him fight in it.
Draco cant take this a moment longer. He turns on a heel and stalks across the office. Take that
stone and put it where it belongs, behind some very powerful wards in a room no one knows

exists. And leave poor Harry Potter alone.

Mr. Malfoy, before you go?
He stops. His hand hovers over the brass handle of the door that leads to the spiral staircase. He is
half tempted to make a very rude gesture at the headmaster that will almost certainly get him in
trouble, but he manages to resist.
100 points to Ravenclaw.
Astonished, Draco looks back over his shoulder. Professor Dumbledore does not appear to be
In dark times, there often isnt room for integrity. I am pleased to see that you are the type who
will fight for it regardless.
Someone has to, Draco says, bitterly, before he can stop himself.
He expects him to be angry, but instead the look on Professor Dumbledores face is resigned,
almost sad.
Yes, the headmaster agrees. Someone has to.

14 November, 1991
Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
H. G. Wells

Young Mr. Malfoy.

Draco turns and smiles. Professor! You got my owl.
Professor Snape comes to a stop beside Draco, whos leaning against the wall just outside the
Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom and picking at a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavor
Beans. Draco likes the expression on his face. Its somewhere between frustrated, upset, and
giddy, with just a dash of Schadenfreude.
For the record, Professor Snape says, as much as I approve of the end result, I must thoroughly
admonish you for inserting yourself into this matter at all and therefore deduct five points from
Youre such a killjoy, Draco says. But at least youre a killjoy whos on time. They just went
into his office. Should be out any minute now. Bertie Botts?
Professor Snape plucks a bronze-colored bean and pops it into his mouth. He makes a face.
Beef bouillon, at a guess. Your letter was vague how, exactly, did you manage this?
A mind like Sherlock Holmes and a willingness to break into his office. Mostly the second thing.
Though really, after that ridiculously transparent stunt with the mountain troll, he only had himself
to blame.
I knew from the start there was something suspicious about him, Professor Snape says sourly.
I know. You didnt go to great pains to hide your dislike, Draco answers, and right at that
moment, the classroom door swings open.
Two aurors robed in scarlet are dragging out a hissing, spitting, thrashing, cursing, but thankfully
magically bound Professor Quirrell by either arm.
Draco and Professor Snape wave at him cheerfully as hes pulled away, screaming obscenities
about the Dark Lords vengeance.
Get him to take off his turban! Draco shouts after them. If he says its religious, hes lying!
When they pass out of view, Professor Snape straightens and fixes Draco with a harsh stare.
Dont do this again.

Dont do what? Save the school?

Put yourself in danger.
Its a chaotic universe, Professor, Draco says. Were all in danger. Ill see you for tea
Draco Malfoy, it will be a miracle if you ever make it to adulthood.
Ill take that as a yes, he says as he heads away, fishing out a pale sea-foam-colored bean and
finding that its mint-flavored. Hes scarcely made it down the adjoining hallway when he hears a
sharp, squeaky voice from behind him:
Oy! Malfoy!
Draco stops and turns. An angry ginger is storming towards him. Not a sight hes used to seeing.
Look, Ill only say this once, all right? Back off.
Draco frowns. He looks around, just to double check that his father isnt also in the hallway and
hes not the Malfoy the gingers referring to, because he cant imagine how that sentence could
have any possible meaning to him.
But no, the hallway is otherwise empty, apart from the pack of Gryffindors from whom the angry
ginger had broken off, who are now heading in the opposite direction. He is definitely talking to
All right, three part follow-up question, Draco says. One, who are you? Two, what are you
talking about? Three, why are you angry?
The angry ginger gets even angrier. You know what Im talking about.
I promise I have absolutely no idea.
Harry, he says. Back off of Harry. Youre a bad influence on him.
Who in Gods name is Harry?
The response seems to startle the angry ginger, and for a moment hes more surprised than he is
angry. But only for a moment.
Harry Potter, he says, which, if anything, only amplifies Dracos confusion.
What about him?
Back off!
Ive never even met him!
I saw you talking to him yesterday in the Great Hall!
Draco squints, then recalls: Wait, youre talking about Robe Shop? Robe Shop is Harry Potter?
The angry ginger is lost for words, which is a nice change of pace.
Draco hadnt ever stopped calling him Robe Shop. Maybe hed told Draco his name (probably in
the robe shop) and Draco forgot it. For the past few weeks, hed been following Draco around,

catching him in hallways between classes, in the Great Hall, in the library. Its cute, nice even, but
a little disorienting. Draco isnt used to having people like him and want to be around him. At least
not people his age.
Probably should have asked his name, Draco ruminates. Its been like a month. He really is
bad at this.
Look, the angry ginger sputters, just back off him. Every time he talks to you, he comes back
chattering about whatever bollocks youve said and how smart you are and I know about your
Draco raises both eyebrows. Oh, you do, do you.
I know your fathers a Death Eater, the angry ginger says. I know he fought for the Dark Lord.
And I know he bloody well bought his way out of going to Azkaban.
Yes, Draco answers. Hes not sure if that observation is meant to offend or intimidate him. It
really doesnt do either. Its not like its some big secret.
And Ive told him that youre bad news and hes not listening, so Im telling you instead: back
Draco thinks about it for a moment, then says, No. Then he keeps walking.
Theres a pause, then a scuffle the angry ginger is scrambling to keep up with him. What do
you mean no?
I wasnt aware there were multiple meanings.
Look, Im telling you
And Im saying no, Draco interjects. He seems nice and Im not going to stop talking to him
just because you tell me to, Weasley.
A beat of silence. Draco can almost hear the jaw fall. Howd?
Red hair, freckles, hand-me-down clothes, the better question is how anyone on the planet
doesnt know the moment they look at you. Look, Weasley. He stops in the hallway again, turns
to face him, meets him with an even stare. I dont care what you know about my family. None of
it is applicable to me. And if you think you have any sort of right to tell me who I can and cant be
friends with, youre out of your mind.
Weasley the angry ginger glares and turns slightly scarlet.
And damn, Draco belatedly realizes, he just referred to Harry as his friend.
He has a friend now.
Thats new.
Harry killed the Dark Lord, Ron hisses. He wont fall for the tricks of one of his henchmen.
It is the height of irony to prejudge someone of prejudice, Draco remarks.
He turns on a heel and vanishes before Weasley can come up with a response.

25 December, 1991
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Draco collapses in the chair across from the Harry formerly known as Robe Shop and seems to
catch him off-guard.
Happy Christmas, Draco says, smiling.
Draco? Harry returns. What are you doing here?
Literally or philosophically?
Harry laughs. Lets start with literally. I thought you went home.
Home is boring, Draco says dismissively, which is mostly true. The other half of the answer that
he does not feel like discussing is the fact that if he goes home for Christmas hell have to deal
with endless disparaging remarks about how he dared let himself be sorted into Ravenclaw.
Besides, I needed to be around to give you your present.
Draco pulls it out from his robe pocket. Its a small box, neatly wrapped in glossy red paper with a
shiny silver ribbon, about the size and dimensions of a wallet. Harry stares at it as though it is solid
gold and does not take it. In fact, he seems almost paralyzed by the sight of it.
Draco gives him a few seconds grace before he says, You going to take it or what?
He is struck by the expression on Harrys face. It hovers somewhere between abject astonishment,
unequalled gratitude, and wounded confusion.
One would think youd never received a Christmas present before in your life, Draco says, as
neutrally as he can manage.
Harry looks up and meets Dracos eyes.
Dracos worked it out, of course. It would have taken more effort to remain ignorant to the signs
of abuse the unhealthy weight, the spotty confidence, the old bruises to his mind, they are
giant and obvious. It infuriates him, of course, especially because he knows that with all the
fanfare surrounding his early childhood, someone, somewhere, had to know about it know about
it and done nothing.
Draco has plans to deal with it. It will make a nice birthday present, he thinks.
Thank you, Harry says reverently.

Youre supposed to thank me after you open it.

Hesitantly, Harry reaches out and takes it in both hands, holding as though it was made of glass.
He pulls at the end of the ribbon and takes off the top.
Oh, wow, he whispers.
You seemed so interested when I showed you my magical map of the Virgo Supercluster, so I
thought you might like an astronomical watch.
Its a small, handsome silver fob watch on a chain, and Harry rolls it between his hands like its
the most incredible thing hes ever seen.
It shows local time, time of year, relative position of the other planets, and position around the
Milky Way. But since it takes over 200 million years to orbit the center of the galaxy, I wouldnt
expect that last hand to move all that much.
Its beautiful, Harry says.
Draco opens his mouth to comment on how its far more useful than it is elegant, but then decides
against it. He certainly cant blame Harry for finding beauty in the awesome void that is the
universe. Draco recalls being five years old and staring through a telescope for the first time,
focused on Venus, and trying to wrap his head around the fact that this pale yellow dot was a
planet roughly the size of the earth.
Even these days, knowing all he does, he still finds the sheer scope of the universe one of the most
difficult concepts hes ever had to grasp. Whenever Draco gets too self-assured, he opens up that
magical map of the Virgo Supercluster and reminds himself that the observable universe likely
only makes up only a fraction of all that exists.
Draco smiles. Im glad you like it.
Harry is still studying the watch face, so Draco grabs his plate and gives himself a heaping helping
of scrambled eggs. Most of the students have, of course, gone home, and theres not as much food
laid out as their usually is. Still, Christmas breakfast looks sumptuous enough.
Heard you got into a bit of a row with Weasley before the break, Draco says.
At last, Harry looks up. Hes frowning, and he shuts the watch. Yeah, he admits reluctantly.
He was sort of acting like a pillock.
He sort of is a pillock, Draco says. He has still not forgiven the little bastard for demanding he
stop talking to Harry.
He just cant get over the fact that were friends, Harry sighs. He just kept saying hes a Death
Eater, hes a Death Eater! And no matter how many times I tell him you dont buy into it, he
keeps going on about it.
Draco takes a bite of egg. You never asked me if I buy into it, he says as he chews.
Harry gives him a strange look. You dont, do you?
Of course I dont, he answers. Purist dogma is fear mongering, prejudicial rubbish. Im just
saying that you never asked. You just assumed.

He doesnt seem to know what to say to that, and Draco cant help but smile. This, he realizes
this is why people have friends. Friends are people who assume the best in you without a second
thought, who will defend your honor for no other reason than your honor matters to them.
Thank you, Draco says before Harry can figure out the obscure meaning behind his words.
Thank me? You just gave me what Im sure is an absurdly expensive universe clock and youre
thanking me?
Its an astronomical watch, not a universe clock, and it wasnt that expensive.
Well, your familys rich, isnt it? You probably wouldnt know if it was.
Thats me, blinded by the light of my own privilege. He takes a sip of orange juice.
Harry grins, green eyes bright. Thanks, Draco. Its the best gift Ive ever gotten.
High praise, considering you were given an invisibility cloak not three days ago, Draco says.
He still cant believe that it even exists.
That was my dads, so I figure its not a gift so much as an heirloom.
Excellent, so my victory is unblemished on a technicality.
Harry laughs. Happy Christmas, Draco.
This friend thing is nice after all, Draco decides. Happy Christmas, and happy New Year. Lets
hope the rest of the semester is blessedly free of Dark Lord sympathizers posing as professors.
The subject drifts. They talk about classes and homework and macrophysics and dark matter, and
when Harry proposes that they go out and have a snowball fight, Draco calls him ridiculous and
juvenile but doesnt say no.

25 June, 1992
The story of love
Is hello and goodbye
Until we meet again
Jimi Hendrix

Youll write, wont you?

Draco looks up from his bag, where hes packing up the last of the books hed been reading.
Underneath their feat, the Hogwarts Express groans and rattles as it makes its arduous deceleration
into the station.
Of course I will, Draco answers. Why wouldnt I?
Harry frowns and shakes his head. Im half-afraid that this whole year has been just a dream, he
answers. That the minute I get off this train it will all be over.
Not all good things are too good to be true. Allow yourself at least a little optimism.
It takes a moment before Harry smiles, but Dracos pleased to see that the smile is genuine. Hes
gotten quite good at making Harry smile, hes discovered, and has found that he likes doing it.
Ill miss you, Draco, he says, and before Draco can answer, Harrys closing the gap between
them and pulling him into a hug. Harry smells like cedar and soap.
Draco is not and has never been a person who likes physical contact due in large part, he
suspects, to the fact that he simply didnt get a lot of it growing up. His father had always been
standoffish, especially after the early development of Dracos mind, and his mother, doting as she
is, prefers to show her love through gifts and cooing. Professor Snape is something of a deviation,
with his occasional affectionate touches to the head or shoulder, or even hugs, but they are quite
rare. And, as in all things, Professor Snape has always been the exception to Dracos rule. Mostly
and by most people, Draco does not like being touched.
But this is actually quite nice, Draco realizes with some surprise, and before he lets himself think
about it too much he returns the hug. Theres a great scraping of metal followed by a loud hiss,
and the train grinds to a halt.
Youll see me sooner than you think, Draco tells him.
Harry pulls back with the question in his eyes, but Draco smiles and heads out of the compartment
before he can ask it. No sense in ruining a good surprise.
Students are flooding into the narrow corridor and out of the train, a sea of contrast and color now
that all the uniforms have been shed for street clothes. When they empty out onto the platform, its
to the dull thrum of indistinct conversation punctuated by occasional happy squeals of reunion.

It is not hard to pick out his father in the crowd it never is. Lucius Malfoy is the tallest, blondest,
best-dressed person in every room he walks into. Draco spots him at once and carves a path
through the ever-thickening crowd towards him.
Draco, he says over the rumbling chorus of voices. Hes looking down his long, upturned nose
at him, fingernails drumming on the silver-plated head of his cane.
Father, Draco returns.
A good year, I trust?
Draco shrugs. Good enough. Hed received the top marks in his class, but that really wasnt
something worth mentioning.
Your mother and I missed you at Christmas.
Sorry, he says. Terrible head cold.
And Easter.
It was a really long head cold.
Draco, he says sternly.
Fine, you caught me, Draco sighs. I actually made a friend who didnt have a family to go
home to for the holidays, so I thought it better to stay with him. I hope we can move past the
disgust you must feel for me now, making friends and being nice.
Luciuss mouth twitches downward into a sneer.
A friend, he repeats. A fellow Ravenclaw?
Wow, Draco says, that couldnt have been more than twenty seconds. Id thought you
wouldnt bring it up my house for at least three minutes.
His father sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.
Can we go home now? Draco asks.
Yes, he grumbles, sticking out his arm for a side-along.
Draco takes it, and just before they vanish, he looks toward the entrance of the platform, where he
sees Harry and his trunk and his owl cage vanishing through the wall, alone.
He thinks about what Harry is going back to and comforts himself with the knowledge that he will
see Harry sooner than he thinks.
Then, with a loud crack and the smell of ozone, they Disapparate.

12 July, 1992
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their
John F. Kennedy

When Draco makes it back inside, hes soaked through with warm summer rain and grinning ear
to ear. Dobby the house-elf attends him at the door, taking his telescope and book full of star
Did Master Draco have a productive evening? he asks, casting a quick spell that dries Draco
with a soft snap sound and a thrum of magic.
Extremely productive, thank you, Dobby, he answers. Drying spells always make his hair wild,
and he uses both hands to smooth it back over his head. The new spelled lenses Professor Snape
gave me for my birthday worked perfectly. You should see the Horsehead Nebula in infrared!
Dobby is glad, Master Draco, he says with that big, lopsided smile of his. But its gone sooner
than it normally is, and he stares down at his knobbly feet.
When Draco began his study of Holmesian abductive reasoning, he practiced on Dobby
specifically because he was such a fantastically easy target. The house-elf is physically incapable
of hiding his emotions. As such, as Draco studies him, he can tell with no difficulty that
Somethings wrong, Draco says.
For several long seconds, Dobby doesnt answer. His spindly hands start to tremble.
Somethings very wrong, Draco continues, frowning.
The trembling gets worse until, quite abruptly, Dobby drops both the telescope and book of star
charts, darts for the nearby china cabinet, and starts violently beating his head into it.
Oh, for Dobby! Dobby, stop, I order you to stop!
Dobby stops, but he got several good whacks in and is swaying in his spot.
Draco hates this culture of fear his fathers instilled in the house-elves. Hes always entertained the
idea that, once he came into his inheritance, he would work to undo all the psychological damage
his father inflicts on them.
You forgot my standing rule, Dobby, Draco says. No punishments in my presence.
Dobby is sorry, he returns, voice quavering from the recent violence.
Draco picks up the book and telescope and crouches down to Dobbys level. Why dont you tell

me whats wrong? Its obvious you want to. Maybe I can help.
Dobby stares up at Draco with his wide, green eyes, his lower lip trembling. He wrings his hands
You can tell me anything, Dobby, Draco says. You know Im not like my father.
Dobby knows. He keeps wringing his hands, though the movements get less urgent. Dobby
has (he falters a moment) heard some things.
What sort of things?
Things from Master Luciuss study, Dobby answers, his voice dropping to a whisper. Dreadful
things, said by dreadful voices. The voices speak of serpents and chambers and death and and
Harry Potter.
Draco puts it together immediately, though he wishes he wouldnt. His throat suddenly feels very
dry and there is a coldness in his stomach that starts to seep through his veins.
Harry Potter is the one who saved us all, Dobby whispers, grabbing Dracos wrists urgently. If
he goes to Hogwarts, he will be in danger!
Draco doesnt answer. He feels sick, physically sick, like he might vomit. But he has to be sure.
He has to be absolutely sure.
Dobby, Draco says, how many voices did you hear?
Dobby heard two, Master Draco.
My fathers and?
Dobbys entire body shudders at the memory, and hope extinguishes.
Draco had never asked, of course, and his father had never volunteered information, but the story
was always there, in the back of his mind, carved into the history of House Malfoy.
He had thought after the first campaign but now? Still? After everything?
Draco finds that he can no longer support his own weight and he collapses against the wall of the
hallway, dropping his telescope and book next to him. For the first time in so many years, the
careful structure in his mind has turned to bedlam. Hes caught between a thousand thoughts
pulling him in a thousand directions. What does this mean for the Wizarding World? For his
family? For him? What does he do now? And how in Gods name is he supposed to protect
The voices say that a chamber must be opened and its ancient power released, a power that will
purge the school of the unworthy, Dobby whispers. He looks over one shoulder, then the other,
to confirm that theres no one else in the hallway. Dobby must warn Harry Potter of the danger,
Harry Potter must not go to Hogwarts
No, Draco says, shutting his eyes. No, Dobby, dont. Ill take care of this.
He can feel the suspicion in Dobbys gaze prickling his skin like nettle. What does Master Draco
intend to do?
Oh, you know, he answers, with an easiness that belies his thundering heartbeat, Ill do

something extremely convoluted and brilliant that is the perfect combination of deft, unexpected,
and effective.
Now if only he could come up with something. If only his thoughts werent so dreadfully
scattered. If only he could think. Why cant he just think?
Master Draco must protect Harry Potter, Dobby tells him urgently.
I know, Dobby. I know that.
Harry Potter saved us all, even the house-elves!
Draco laughs, but theres no humor or energy in it.
He does not know what to do, but he knows that he cannot do nothing. There is moral obligation
that Draco cannot ignore. He cannot call himself above his fathers indiscretions and then sit idly
by while they conspire anew. There are machinations that need stymieing. His best and only
friend needs protecting. Hogwarts needs warning.
Dracos hands tremble on his knees. He flexes his fingers and breathes deeply. He is terrified, but
there is no time for terror.
He needs more information. He needs an escape plan. He needs supplies.
He is no longer safe in his own home.

3 August, 1992
You cant be spontaneous within reason.
Alan Watts
Playlist MAGIC MAN - "PARIS"

When the door opens, Draco puts on his biggest, maddest, most manic smile.
Hello, maam, he says to the horse-faced woman at the door of 4 Privet Drive, do you have a
moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
Shes drying her hands on a small terrycloth towel and frowning. Goodness, she says, dont
they just get younger every year.
Were just eager to spread the Good News! Draco answers, and his smile is so wide its sort of
making his face hurt. Maam, have you given any thought to your immortal soul?
His fingers slip and he drops his pile of pamphlets all over the welcome mat in a large, haphazard
oh! he says. Oh, Im so sorry!
She sneers, but crouches down to help him gather them back up. As soon as shes low enough, he
produces the small aerosol can from his pocket and blasts her in the face with a two-second spray.
Instantaneously, she collapses face-first on the threshold, unconscious.
Draco slips it back into his pocket. Oh, no! he says, raising his voice in alarm. Is anyone there?
Hello? Please help, she just lost consciousness!
Soon, a man is poking his head through a door at the end of the hallway leading to the kitchen,
no doubt. He has a large, red face and a bushy moustache.
Sir, your wife! Draco begins, and the man with the moustache hurries down the hallway.
Petunia? Petunia!
He kneels down at her side and seizes her by both shoulders. Draco produces the aerosol can
again, and soon hes collapsing unconscious on top of her.
Draco whistles a jaunty tune as he steps over their bodies and into the foyer.
Harry! he calls. You in?
Its a rather squashed, cramped-looking place in Dracos opinion, though he did grow up in a
manor-house, so perhaps its not his place to judge. Still, though the size may be forgivable,
theres no excusing the gaudy, pseudo-Victorian decor. The place looks like an overpriced antique
shop, though not quite as classy.

When he hears footsteps from upstairs, Draco turns, and hes just in time to see Harry appear at
the landing at the top of the steps, staring at him with wide eyes.
Happy birthday! Draco says, spreading his arms as if to say tah-dah!
Its my birthday was three days ago.
Yeah, I know, sorry, he says. There was a last-minute change of plans, things had to be
rearranged, it was a big mess. Ill tell you all about it on the way.
On the way? Harry hurries down the steps. On the way to oh, my God, what did you do?
Hes staring past Draco, at the two bodies unconscious on the floor.
Nothing! All right, not nothing. Theyre fine, though. Just unconscious.
Theyre fine! Draco says again. Its just a simple sleeping draught. Aerosolized. He pulls the
can out of his pocket again, to show him. This is your birthday present; stop panicking.
Draco, you cant just knock out my aunt and uncle!
Sure I can. I did, in fact. Its not like I dont have the moral high ground in this situation,
considering what theyve put you through. Some would argue that twelve years of abuse would
call for something far worse than unconsciousness.
Harry stares at him, mouth open and moving, but silent, rather like a fish. Its not a good look on
him. Draco closes the distance between them and puts his hands on Harrys shoulders.
Look, he says, you dont need to explain anything to me. Youre in a bad situation one you
never should have been put in at all. They shouldnt be hurting you.
They dont Harry began, but he trailed off, looked to the side. I mean, they dont always
You dont need to explain anything to me, Draco repeats. Look, just come with me to your
birthday present. Im taking you to wizarding Paris. Itll be fantastic. Well go the Louvre and the
magical catacombs and Versailles and well stuff ourselves with French food and take a ferry ride
down the Seine. Sound good?
Harrys mouth is doing the fish thing again. For several seconds he cant seem to manage any
words. Eventually, however, he says, I I dont speak French.
Je le parle couramment! Draco says. Ill translate for you.
Youre really serious, Harry breathes, speaking like he cant quite believe it. Youre just going
to whisk me off to Paris, just like that?
Just like that. And you dont ever have to come back.
I dont. Its not quite a question, but nor is it a statement. If Draco had to call it something hed
say that it was a hesitance.
Harry, if I thought it would do anything, Id just call the Department of Child Welfare.
Unfortunately, they along with Headmaster Dumbledore are the ones who put you here in the

first place. Finding that out had been quite an unpleasant shock, and hed nearly blown his cover
with various colorful swear words in the records room in the Ministry.
The look of heartbreak and betrayal on Harrys face is plain. Professor Dumbledore put me
Draco frowns. Yes, he says, slowly. Search me as to why.
Harry swallows and stares at his feet.
My original plan was to take you back to the Manor after Paris, Draco continues after a
moment. I had thought that my parents wouldnt have minded, but then
Well, then hed discovered that his father was still working for the Dark Lord. Then his plan had
gone right out the window.
Draco still wonders if hed been stupid for giving them the benefit of the doubt, for feeling so
betrayed upon realizing that his father was still taking orders from a madman, twelve years after
his alleged death. He feels like he should have known somehow. Hed always seen through
peoples intentions before, after all.
And Merlin, hes never been so scared.
Then what? Harry asks with a frown, interrupting Dracos thoughts.
He purses his lips a moment. Ill explain later, he says, and he will, because theres no way he
cant. Today, were celebrating your birthday. So what do you say? The eleven oclock to Paris
leaves from Platform 6 in an hour.
Harry releases a breath. Hes staring at Draco with a strange expression mouth slightly open,
eyes wide and still, fixed on Draco, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides before slowly,
slowly, he breaks into a smile.
This is mad, Harry says.
What, two twelve-year-olds buggering off to Paris on their lonesome?
Harry laughs. You cant tell me you honestly think this isnt mad.
Draco smirks, shrugs. All right, slightly mad. Still, life is boring without a little madness.
Harrys smile gets even wider.
Pack your bags, birthday boy, Draco says, and Harry dashes back up the steps.

7 August, 1992
Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great and powerful one.
A.J. Jacobs

Professor Snape pulls open the door, and the only thing Draco can think to say is, Hello, Sir, do
you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
His nostrils flare as he stares down at Draco and he narrows his eyes like he doesnt quit get the
joke. Draco, he says warily. What an unexpected why is Harry Potter here?
Hi, Professor, Harry offers with a small wave.
The answer will take some saying, Draco returns. May we come in?
The suspicion on his face is plain, but he steps aside and together they make their way into the
foyer and away from the sweltering summer night.
Spinners End is a dismal little street and number 23 is a dismal little house to match it. It is small
and cramped and claustrophobic, with walls dominated by floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. It is lit,
warmed, furnished, and decorated insufficiently.
Draco loves it and always has.
As I recall, you mentioned something about spending the first week of August in Paris,
Professor Snape says, shutting the door.
We just got back, Draco answers.
It was brilliant, Harry adds brightly.
Professor Snape frowns and puts it together without much difficulty. You went alone.
It was a birthday present.
You went to Paris for several days alone.
Relax, Draco says. I know Paris better than I know London. We stayed at Aunt Fionas
summer home in Calais, back every day before dark. We were perfectly safe.
Professor Snape rubs the bridge of his nose. Draco is willing to bet that hes getting one of his
tension headaches that he only gets when Draco does something ridiculous.
Did you at least warn your parents? he asks.
That would have been difficult, since I wiped their memories of me.
You Professor Snape shuts his mouth tightly. He tries to start the sentence over, but all he

manages is, What.

I promise there was a very good reason, Draco assures him.
You wiped their memories of you?
Shall we have some tea?
Professor Snape is wearing a look of intense pain and exasperation, and Draco takes a moment to
marvel at the fact that, after twelve years of his occasionally dangerous, usually ridiculous, always
outrageous misadventures, Professor Snape has never throttled him.
No, he says. No, we will not have some tea. Youre going to explain to me why you magically
tampered with your parents memories before I take you back to Wiltshire and undo the spells
He can feel Harry looking across at him with a frown. Draco wets his lips.
Hes taking orders from him again.
His reaction is not immediate. It takes him a few seconds to put together the meaning in his words,
and a few seconds further to realize their gravity.
Tense silence screams in the quiet room.
And you thought the best thing to do would be to wipe your parents memories of their own
Draco lifts his eyes. Theres anger in them now, in addition to the nervousness.
Oh, he says acidly, Im sorry. What is the appropriate response to discovering that your own
father is taking orders from an allegedly dead mass-murdering psychopath? Do I contact the
Department of Child Welfare or do I just go straight to the Minister of Magic?
Is there a standard procedure? Some kind of rigmarole? Oh, its just another twelve-year-old
finding out his father is working for a dangerous war criminal, break out form 12-B?
Professor Snape sets his face. Draco, thats not
What was I supposed to do? Draco demands, and his voice is shaking, because despite his best
efforts, hes been sitting on all this fear for almost a month now. I couldnt stay! I did what I
thought I had to in order to protect myself!
Maybe we should have some tea, Harry interjects.
Draco drags in an unsteady breath and tries to calm himself down. Nervous tension is making his
limbs tremble.
Professor Snape sighs. Maybe we should, he agrees.
They cross into the tiny kitchen, where among piles of stacked jars full of potion ingredients and
delicate instruments, there are some signs of food preparation. Professor Snape fills a kettle with a
quick tap of his wand and sets it onto a stove. Draco sits down at the small table and bends
forward over it, his hands raking through his hair. Harry takes the chair next to him and, with a
worried frown, puts a hand on Dracos back.

worried frown, puts a hand on Dracos back.

As there are only two chairs at his kitchen table, Professor Snape leans against the counter and
folds his arms over his chest.
What was it that you heard? he asks, gently.
I only caught a few snippets of conversation, Draco answers. He was in his private study, the
one he warded to keep me out of. When those wards had first gone up, Draco had taken it as a
personal challenge and tried to break through them alas, though his father was no genius, he was
a singularly competent wizard, and the wards never budged. So far as I can tell, he doesnt the
Dark Lord wasnt physically in there with him.
After Mr. Potter was good enough to kill him twelve years ago, Professor Snape interjected,
dark eyes swivelling momentarily to Harry, he no longer had a physical body. He still doesnt, as
far as we know.
Harry frowns. Then how was he talking to Dracos dad? Or doing anything at all, for that
Professor Snape sighs. Were not sure.
By we, I assume you mean yourself and Dumbledore, Draco says, and Professor Snape nods.
You should know, then, that he has plans involving Hogwarts.
He frowns, shifts his weight. What sort of plans?
The terminology was vague, he replies. It was something about purging the unworthy, planting
the seeds of his second coming. Trust me, if I knew anything concrete, Id tell you.
Professor Snape is silent a moment. On the stove, theres the soft rattle of the kettle as the water
inside starts to simmer.
And then you ran away.
Draco swallows and shuts his eyes. I knew I couldnt just pack a bag and leave a note. Father
would have let slip the dogs of war to find me. I had to scrub my presence out. I cleaned out my
room, altered their memories, left standing orders with the house-elves. I socked away a few
hundred galleons and packed my things in my shrinking trunk and went to get Harry.
And why did you abscond to Paris first, hm? Professor Snape asks. You should have come
straight to me.
It was a birthday present, Draco said, not for the first time since arriving. His voice was
strangely wistful, his eyes unfocused. Also, his aunt and uncle were abusing him, so there was
some ethical obligation.
They what?
Yes, that was my reaction.
Harry stares into his lap and fidgets.
Albus was the one who
Yes, Draco interrupts, and thats why I couldnt just call in the Ministry. The flaws inherent in
the system, I suppose.

Professor Snape rubs the bridge of his nose again and tries to gather his thoughts. And now there
are two runaway twelve-year-olds in my house.
I was thinking we could take up something like a permanent residence in Aunt Fionas summer
home in Calais, Draco offers with some measure of hesitance. She never goes there, anyway,
and its far enough away
Absolutely not, Professor Snape interjects. Draco Malfoy, you may be a genius, but you are
also twelve-years-old and under severe emotional distress. You should not and must not be alone
in this.
Theres a pause. The kettle starts to whistle. Professor Snape goes to take it off the burner and fill
the teapot waiting on the counter. Draco stares after him, heart in his throat.
Merlin knows that this memory wiping plan of yours is hardly a permanent solution anyway, he
says, adding a metal tea infuser to the pot. Sooner or later theyll talk to someone who will ask
about you
I know, Draco says, its not perfect, but it was the best solution, and it buys me time
and in the interim, you will both stay here.
Draco and Harry stare at him in stunned silence. Professor Snape crosses to the table and sets the
teapot down. With a flick of his wand, three cups and saucers fly from the cabinet and place
themselves on the table.
While waiting for it to finish steeping, he rights himself and looks down at them. He tries to hide
his look of fondness, but he doesnt do it well enough to fool Draco.
I am not sure how long it can last, he admits with some reluctance. There may come a time
when neither of you will be safe with me. It may be sooner than we would like.
Draco takes in a slow breath. He thinks he has an idea of what Professor Snape is implying. The
only reason it would be unsafe to stay with him would be if the Dark Lord did come back and he
did join him and since he would never do that again with any willingness, that could only mean

But you He sighs and cards a hand through Dracos hair. How could I not?
Draco is staring up at Professor Snape, and his eyes are burning. I couldnt ask you
You dont have to.
He finds that its suddenly a little bit hard to breathe. I I had only meant to warn you of the
threat, I didnt think youd
Then clearly, you are not quite as smart as youd like to believe. Professor Snape bends down
and plants a benedictory kiss on the top of his head.
Draco makes a small, strangled noise, and then throws his arms around Professor Snapes middle,
burying his face in his chest. With a sigh, Professor Snape returns the embrace and strokes gently
at Dracos hair.
Professor Snape, Harry says reverently, I had no idea you were actually this nice.
Careful, Mr. Potter, he says, though he doesnt let go of Draco.

Its just you know youre always kind of scary in class

Just because school is out doesnt mean Im not still your professor.
Harry grins and looks sheepish, but also more than a little bit pleased. He pours the tea.

13 August, 1992
Stupidity combined with arrogance and a huge ego will get you a long way.
Chris Lowe

Whats left? Harry asks, peering over Dracos shoulder to look at the list.
Just the books and potion ingredients, Draco answers.
Were near enough to Flourish & Blotts, says Professor Snape, lifting one hand to shadow his
eyes from the glare of the August sun. Diagon Alley is bustling and sunny and loud, thick with
people in brightly-colored robes.
Can we stop at the broom shop? Harry asks, craning his neck to get a look at the front door of
Quality Quidditch Supplies through the crowd as they pass it.
Draco looks at him askance. Thinking of trying out for Quidditch this year, are you?
Harry looks back and grins clumsily. Thinking of it, yeah. I did well during flying lessons.
Madame Hooch says Im a natural on a broom.
Of course you are, Professor Snape says, sounding pained.
So can we go?
Later. Well get the rest of your supplies first.
And then have lunch, Draco says. Im starving.
When they come upon the wide double doors of Flourish & Blotts, the bustle and clamor thicken
exponentially. Draco frowns and stands on his tiptoes, trying to determine the reason for it.
Oh, no, says Professor Snape suddenly. Hes staring at something between the heads of the
others in the crowd, looking horrified and slightly nauseous. Oh, no, no, no.
Draco frowns up at him. Whats wrong?
No, no, he says. No, you boys are on your own for this one.
Youre leaving? Harry asks.
Ill get your potion ingredients. Well meet back at Cafe Leche. Good luck and godspeed.
And just like that, Professor Snape turns on a heel and strides away, robes billowing around his
feet. Draco stares after him in silence for a moment, then looks back to Harry, who is wearing a
mirrored look of confusion.
Well, Draco says, now Im curious.

Harrys face breaks into a grin and together they push their way through the crowd.
It turns out to be easier said than done. Now that hes in the thick of things, fighting for a way into
the shop, Draco can pick out snippets of sentences
cant believe its actually him!
Do you think hed take a photograph?
Look, there he is!
There are camera flashes going off from all around, and when Draco manages to break through to
the front of the pack, he finds a handsome, golden-haired man beside a stack of books, preening
and smiling brilliantly for the cameras.
Whos that? Harry asks into Dracos ear.
Gilderoy Lockhart, apparently, Draco answers, eyeing the books. Theyre all freshly-printed,
starch and glossy, and all the covers seem to feature their author.
Hes the one that wrote all our textbooks this year, isnt he?
Draco is about to reply, but before he can, theres a sudden voice that pierces through the noise:
It cant be Harry Potter?
Harry goes still and wide-eyed like a frightened deer. Gilderoy Lockhart is beaming at him, and he
swoops right forward, grabbing him by the shoulder.
Nice big smile, Harry, Draco can hear him say. Together, you and I are worth the front page.
And suddenly the crowd is muttering equal parts Gilderoy Lockhart and Harry Potter and the
camera flashing gets even more frequent. Draco watches, halfway between horrified and
incredibly amused, as Lockhart puts an arm around Harry and gives his best dazzling smile.
Harry gives Draco a desperate look. Help me, he mouths.
On the one hand, Draco knows how much Harry hates the spotlight. On the other hand, this is
hilarious and Dracos pretty sure he cant do anything, anyway.
Sorry, Draco mouths back, really trying to pretend this isnt funny.
Ladies and gentlemen, what an extraordinary moment this is! Lockhart begins loudly, and
Draco immediately tunes him out.
His eyes move across the crowd. Theyve sectioned off a large part of the shop surrounding the
table where, according to the poster, he will be signing copies of his autobiography, but Draco
thinks he spies a way around to get into the store proper and start gathering the books off the list.
He worms his way through the crowd slowly but surely. He manages to grab two copies of The
Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 when he hears a very familiar voice that sets his heart racing.
Busy time at the Ministry, I hear. All those raids
Draco swallows and looks over. Sure enough, his father is standing towards the back of the shop,
opposite Arthur Weasley and much of the Weasley brood, looking pressed and polished and

perfect as ever.
Draco has plenty of confidence in his abilities, of course. Hes sure that he can be seen or even
talk to his father without triggering the memories that Dracos obliviated. But if someone starts
asking questions about his son someone like Arthur Weasley, perhaps theres no easy way to
predict how hell react.
I hope theyre paying you overtime? his father asks, before reaching a hand into the cauldron of
a redheaded girl the youngest Weasley, no doubt and producing a ratty, second-hand textbook.
Obviously not. Dear me, whats the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they dont
even pay you well for it?
Dracos eyes swivel to Arthur Weasley. His face is flushed purple and his hands are clenching at
his sides. Draco is suddenly worried that he might actually attack.
We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy, says Arthur
Clearly, his father answers, gray eyes narrowed. He drops the textbook back in the young girls
cauldron and
what was that? Draco narrows his eyes and cranes his neck. Tucked in against the textbook is
another book, smaller, bound in green leather. Draco can smell the Dark Magic coming off it from
across the room hes certainly smelled it enough at the Manor to know.
Arthur Weasley is gritting his teeth and gearing up for an attack and Draco has to get that book
back because this obviously has something to do with whatever plan the Dark Lord has for his
father and without really thinking about it, Draco inserts himself between the two men.
He doesnt really have a plan beyond the knowing that neither of them will go for their wands
when theres a child standing between them. And, indeed, both of them glance to him briefly and
their hackles settle marginally.
Lets just pay and go, says Arthur Weasleys wife urgently, pulling at her husbands sleeve.
Good luck with that, his father ripostes, which draws a last snarl out of the Weasley patriarch
before he and his wife turn and head for the counter to pay.
Draco looks back at his father without really meaning to, and quite to his surprise, his father looks
back at him.
Theres no light of recognition on his fathers eyes, which is good, and Draco does not feel a tiny
pang of sadness because he definitely does not miss him and Mother in spite of everything.
When his father notices Draco staring, Draco says the only thing he can think of:
Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
His father makes a face and strides away. Draco releases a breath.
Good timing, says a voice from behind him, and Draco turns. The youngest Weasley, short and
quiet and smiling shyly, is inching over. I think they were about to rip each other apart. Youre
Draco, right?
Draco looks down at her cauldron.

Sorry, he says, I think my father dropped

He reaches in and pulls out the book. The smell of Dark Magic is heavy, and Draco is glad that
most witches and wizards dont recognize it. The girl blinks at the book in confusion.
Yeah, she answers, thats definitely not mine.
Must have been an accident, Draco says. Ill get it back to him. Thanks.
Youre friends with Harry Potter, arent you?
Uh, Draco says. Yes.
She grins and bites down on her lower lip. Is he nice? I hear hes nice.
Hes very nice, Draco answers, deciding that he has to get out of this before its too late. See
you at Hogwarts. Good luck with the Sorting.
He pushes past her before she can respond, tucking the book into his robe pocket. Its unbearably
heavy against his chest.

18 September, 1992
The true genius shudders at incompleteness.
Edgar Allan Poe

When Draco pops by the dungeons for his weekly tea with Professor Snape, he is surprised to find
that he is not alone.
... really think you should consider it! finishes Professor Lockhart with great enthusiasm.
Professor Snape seems intent on meeting his enthusiasm with an equal amount of apathy and
disdain. I am not the club-hosting sort of professor.
Oh, come now. Wheres your good sportsmanship? You are surely the most competent duellist in
the school well, apart from me, of course!
Professor Lockhart guffaws like he actually made a joke. Draco swallows the choke of laughter
lodged in his throat. Professor Lockhart may be the most wildly incompetent wizard Draco has
ever met, which makes his staggering amount of false bravado all the more hilarious. And yes, it
does make Draco question the hiring practices of Headmaster Dumbledore, but damn it all if hes
not the most entertaining man on two legs.
Of course, Professor Snape says acidly.
Perhaps I could at least get you to agree to a demonstration? prods Professor Lockhart, smiling
brilliantly. An example duel between two colleagues could prove a useful teaching method!
Oh, my God, Draco says before he can stop himself, and they both turn toward him.
Mr. Malfoy! Professor Lockhart cries. My apologies! I didnt see you there.
Professor Snape makes a small, pained sound.
Im sorry for intruding, Professors, and I couldnt help but overhear if I may say so, Professor
Lockhart, I think your idea sounds excellent.
Draco didnt think it was possible, but Professor Lockharts smile gets even brighter. Do you,
Oh, yes, Draco says, and it takes every trick in his book to keep his face earnest. I would love
to see you duel Professor Snape. I could learn so much.
Professor Lockhart spins on one of his shiny buckled shoes back towards Professor Snape. You
see, Severus? he says knowingly. Thats your star pupil urging you to do it!
Oh, yes, Professor, do.

Thats enough, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Snape says, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
I shant take no for an answer! Professor Lockhart decides flippantly. Ill speak to the
headmaster about arranging the first meeting of the Duelling Club as soon as possible, and I
expect you to be there, Severus! With bells on!
He glides down the aisle leading to the door, but stops beside Draco with a mischievous smile.
Play your cards right, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Lockhart says, and I may give you some personal
attention in imparting the art of duelling!
Draco manages not to laugh, somehow. He even manages some reverence when he answers, I
would be honored.
Professor Lockhart chuckles and claps Draco on the shoulder. Such a charming young man! he
says, gliding past and out of the classroom. It is not until Draco hears the telltale click that he lets
himself collapse into fits of laughter.
Thank you so very much, Professor Snape says wearily. Now I have to spend even more time
with the blowhard.
He wants to duel you! Draco laughs. You! Professor, youve got to do it I have to see!
It seems I hardly have a choice now, he grumbles, standing and heading back towards his
office. Draco follows behind, still laughing.
Did I tell you that he loosed a herd of pixies in class the other day? Draco says. Must have
been a hundred of them; thank Merlin I was able to
Draco stops quite abruptly when Professor Snape opens up the drawer of his office desk and
produces a familiar book bound with green leather. Dracos smile falters.
Any luck? he asks, looking at him.
None whatsoever, Professor Snape answers, setting it down. Youre right that its saturated
with ambient Dark Magic, but Ive checked it over a thousand times and in a thousand ways
theres no hex, curse, or jinx. Its saturated with Dark Magic but there doesnt appear to be any
Dark Magic actually attached to it. It seems to me to be nothing more than an unused diary.
Perhaps its absorbed some Dark Magic from proximity to more sinister artifacts.
Draco frowns and picks it up. The green leather is smooth and cool underneath his fingertips, and
the acrid scent of Dark Magic is almost unbearably thick.
It just doesnt seem like it can be a coincidence, Draco says, flipping through it. The pages are
yellowing and frayed, but blank. What are the odds that my father drops a book like this into the
arms of an unsuspecting girl by accident, so soon after hes been in contact with the Dark Lord?
Stranger things have happened, Professor Snape remarks. Ceylon or Assam?
Assam, Draco answers without thinking, and Professor Snape heads to the hearth to fill the
kettle. Im going to look into it a bit more. Not that I dont trust your assuredly more learned
opinion on the Dark Arts, but I just
Professor Snape shrugs. As in all things, be cautious, he says. Though I really dont think
theres all that much to worry about. Still, Ive been wrong before.

Draco doesnt answer. Hes thumbing through the pages slowly, frowning, wondering, lost in
thoughts of Dark Magic and blank diaries. Surely, he thinks, surely theres more to it than that.

9 October, 1992
Nature almost surely operates by combining chance with necessity, randomness with
Eric Chaisson

It is, Draco thinks, just like Alexander Fleming and his fateful yet unexpected discovery of the
fungus that destroyed staphylococci except it isnt like that at all.
In one instant, Draco is scribbling down a formula he wants to remember, and all he has to write
on is that damned diary smelling of Dark Magic. In another instant, the words are absorbing into
the paper and suddenly, the diary is responding.
Fascinating, the diary writes, and Draco drops his quill. This implies, if my vague calculations are
correct, that a particle can exist in multiple states simultaneously.
Draco feels a familiar, terrible, wonderful, addictive rush, the same one he felt staring down all
three heads of the dog that was guarding the Philosophers Stone. He is all at once terrified and
fascinated. His heart starts to race in the side of his throat and his hands start to tremble.
This does seem to violate the laws of commonly accepted physics, doesnt it? the diary writes. Its
penmanship is slanted and careful.
The words are staring up at him, almost like theyre challenging him to respond. Draco blinks a
few times just to ensure that his own mind isnt playing tricks on him after all, it is well past
midnight, and he hasnt been getting much sleep lately.
Despite his shaking hands, Draco manages to pick up the quill hed dropped on his desk and
slowly oh, so slowly, and so carefully scratches out a response
I gather that youre not familiar with quantum mechanics?
because if a sentient diary is going to casually strike up a conversation with him, Draco may as
well do it the service of being cordial.
Besides, he needs more information, and he needs it more desperately, more urgently than he
needs his next breath of air.
Eventually, a reply appears.
You must forgive me, the diary responds. I am somewhat temporally displaced, and any more
modern scientific advances are well beyond me. The term is unfamiliar.
Dracos fingers wring and flex around the quill. His heartbeat is ever-hastening. Dracos mind is
racing ahead of the rest of him, churning, roaring, and the pieces are starting to coalesce into a firm
idea, but its not enough.

It is called a superposition, Draco writes, slowly. Matter that exists in multiple states
The words sink away.
How appropriate, the diary answers after a moment.
Dracos head spins. He has to be very, very careful with this, because the scent of Dark Magic is
getting thicker with every word that appears on the page and he cannot must not forget to
whom this diary is tied.
What is your name? Draco writes.
How terribly discourteous of me, the diary returns. My apologies; I should have introduced myself
at once. My name is Tom Riddle.
Draco stands up so abruptly that the chair in which hed been sitting topples over and clatters onto
the floor. Fear and adrenaline surge through his veins like liquid fire. Draco stares at the words but
he cannot make himself believe them.
Because surely that is not possible. How can that be possible?
A door opens with a squeak and the noise of it shreds Dracos already white-hot nerves. He whirls
on a heel and sees Professor Flitwick, short and in his sky-blue nightclothes and silver dressing
gown, holding a cup of tea in one hand and frowning at Draco in concern.
Professor, Draco manages, though his voice is breathless.
Mr. Malfoy, says Professor Flitwick. You look as though youve seen a ghost.
Not a ghost, Draco says before he can stop himself, just matter in superposition.
Professor Flitwick gives a bit of a start. I beg your pardon?
Im fine, Draco breathes. He gives his wand a flick and the chair rights itself. Im fine. Im
fine. Maybe if he says it enough, he can make himself believe it. Im sorry. I didnt I hope I
didnt wake you, Professor?
No, says Professor Flitwick, still looking concerned. A nightly cup of tea is my ritual. Are you
sure youre quite all right, my lad? You look rather
Draco seizes the diary, strides across the room, and throws it into the hearth, where the fire is
burning low.
er, Mr. Malfoy?
The damn thing isnt burning. Why wont it burn?
Diffindo! Draco cries, pointing his wand straight at it. Several blackened logs break in half and a
brick cracks up the middle, but the diary doesnt even move. Confringo! A blast of red magic
causes the metal grate holding the firewood to collapse, but the diary only rattles.
Mr. Malfoy!
Expulso! An explosion that makes the flames roar, briefly, back to a burning brightness, but the
diary is unchanged. Deprimo! Nothing. Bloody nothing.

Mr. Malfoy! squeaks Professor Flitwick. What in Merlins name are you doing?
Draco pushes two hands through his hair and stares at the diary in silence, heart slamming in his
chest. In his head he is going through every high-powered destruction spell he knows by order of
severity and trying to judge whether it would be safe to do them indoors.
Professor Flitwick is suddenly beside him, though Draco can barely see him. He puts one of his
hands on Dracos arm and stares up at him with equal parts concern and anger but then, he takes
in a sudden breath of air and makes a face.
Merlins hat, he says, what is that smell?
He looks toward the diary.
Goodness! Thats quite a stink of Dark Magic! No wonder youre trying to destroy it.
Draco opens his mouth. He means to reply, but he isnt quite sure what to say and even if he
were, hes not sure hed have the faculties to say it. He wonders why Professor Flitwick is familiar
with the smell of Dark Magic.
He produces his wand from the sleeve of his nightshirt and gives it a swish-and-flick, and the
diary lifts up out of the broken firewood.
Come now, lets put this in a magical lockbox, shall we?
Draco stares at him dumbly. Its the best idea hes heard all night. Draco can hardly forgive
himself for walking around with it just out in the open like he has.
Right this way.
They leave the Ravenclaw common room and pad out into the hall, Professor Flitwick with his
cup of tea in one hand and the diary floating along behind him, its leather caked in char but
otherwise unharmed. His office isnt far just around a corridor and up a few flights of stairs but
for the pounding of Dracos heart it might as well have been a three-mile sprint up a mountain.
His cramped little office is decorated with strings of bluish-white fairy lights, stuffed with books
and pictures of family. Professor Flitwick goes rummaging through a small cupboard before he
finds what hes looking for a small, heavily runed and charmed box, about a foot long in each
dimension, made of handsome, polished mahogany.
If I may ask, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Flitwick says, guiding the diary into the box with his wand,
what on earth is this?
Draco swallows. Sort of a long story, Professor.
I hope its not cursed?
No, no, definitely not, Draco says. Granted, it does seem to be some sort of sentient, self-aware
echo of the Dark Lords consciousness, which is far more dangerous than any curse, but as long
as he keeps it in that lockbox and hides it in his trunk until he finds a way to destroy it Do
you mind if I keep the box?
Not at all, Professor Flitwick says, handing the box to Draco, who shuts and locks it with two
decisive spells. I have my sixth years make them as an exercise in preventative charms, so Merlin
knows I have plenty.

I appreciate it. Draco holds the box like it might explode at any moment, because it might.
If you want it destroyed, Professor Flitwick says, you might think of taking it to a professional.
Dark artifacts will need much more than a blasting curse to destroy.
Draco wets his lips. He knows that, but he slung destruction spells at it anyway. Fear, Draco
realizes with a steadily creeping dread, made him stupid. He flexes his fingers around the box and
makes a mental note to make sure that doesnt happen ever again. His mind is his best and,
really, only asset, and he cant let his fear compromise it.
Yes, he agrees. I mean, I know. I should have known. Momentary lapse of judgment.
Professor Flitwick smiles kindly. Even a mind like yours must lapse occasionally, he says. Ever
since receiving top marks last year, Professor Flitwick has rather taken to Draco, which is fine
because Draco rather likes Professor Flitwick. Good luck, Mr. Malfoy. Im sure youll need it. It
will take flames hotter than hellfire to burn a Dark artifact like that, Im sure!
Draco stares at Flitwick in silence a moment. In the back of his mind, Draco feels a familiar
prickle that always comes with a good idea.

17 December, 1992
Perhaps the best advice that chaos theory can give us is not to jump to conclusions; unexpected
occurrences may constitute normal behavior.
Edward Lorenz

Its called a Horcrux, Draco says.

Horcrux? Harry repeats, hurrying to catch up as they exit the Gryffindor tower.
Trouble and a half it was to find, too. Took me weeks to pin it down. Its some seriously rare and
volatile Dark Magic. I had to order in books special because the Hogwarts library just didnt have
anything on it.
What does it do?
Its a sort of receptacle, he explains. A wizard divides his soul in two and puts one half into
another object preferably, something with strong magical properties or emotional value. Then, if
the wizard dies, they can be brought back to life.
Harry takes in a breath. Thats how
Yes, Draco says. And it means there must be more than one. Its been locked up in the Manor
since the 70s, and if he was communicating with Quirrel last year
They round the corner into the main hallway, taking the steps down into the lower level. Theres a
steady trickle of students all filtering toward the Great Hall.
So how do you destroy a Horcrux?
There are a few ways, but theyre all really dangerous and difficult, so I figure we can just launch
it into the sun.
Harrys steps actually falter and he nearly falls down the last three steps.
Are youre serious? he asks.
Draco raises both eyebrows.
Can we do that? Harry continues. Can we launch it into the sun?
Draco shrugs. Sure. Build up enough magical energy in a single apparatus set to propel, aim
straight up at high noon. Im pretty sure not even a Horcrux wrought by a powerful wizard can
stand up against a giant ball of plasma with a surface temperature of nearly 6,000 degrees Kelvin.
I kind of doubt it will even make it through the atmosphere.
You can build a magical rocket?

Itll be a fun project, Draco decides. Harry laughs at first, but sobers after a moment.
Its a good thing you got to it, he says gravely. Can you imagine what would have happened if
it had gotten out?
A Horcrux cant really anything on its own, Draco says. It only would have been a problem if
someone had communicated with it long enough for it to affect them. And who would be stupid
enough to discover a sentient, talking diary and not immediately hand it over to a professor?
The Great Hall is crowded when they finally arrive. Draco had signed up for the Duelling Club
the moment he saw the posters pasted around the castle all of them, of course, plastered with the
smiling face of Gilderoy Lockhart because there was no way he would miss Professor Snape
and his demonstration duel.
He can see Professor Snape up toward the front of the room, speaking tersely to Professor
Lockhart and looking already like he wants to hex him.
This is going to be great, Draco decides.
Harry, comes a voice from their left. Draco turns and sees, to his surprise, Ron Weasley, his
arms folded over his fraying robes and his freckled face set into a frown. Malfoy.
Uncertainly, Harry returns, Ron.
So youve well and truly picked Malfoy, then, Ron says.
Well, if the alternative is you, Harry snaps back, and Rons face turns an unflattering shade of
Its not just me who thinks youre daffy, Ron hisses, putting his fists on his hips and levelling
Harry with a glare. Everyone in the castle is talking about it. Harry Potter, best friends with
Draco Malfoy? It seems like everybody but you knows how obviously a trap this is.
You dont know a thing about it! Harry says, and now hes getting angry, too. You have no
idea what hes been through, how his family!
Draco grabs his shoulder and turns him around to fix him with a quelling look. Harry frowns, but
dutifully says nothing further. He still glares at Ron, however.
Im sure this little sanctimonious rant will change Harrys mind, Weasley, Draco says. Its
worked so well for the past year-and-a-half, after all. You may rest assured that this is definitely
not a wasted effort that does not in any way make you look like a petulant infant.
Draco didnt think it was possible, but Weasley goes even more scarlet than before. No one
asked you, Malfoy.
No one asked you, either, but that certainly didnt stop you.
He looks so angry that for a moment Draco thinks that he might actually attack but luckily,
Professor Lockhart calls their attention and all the students present move to crowd around the table
set up in the center of the room.
The introduction and subsequent demonstration begins, and it takes all of Dracos willpower not
to dissolve into frantic laughter when Professor Lockhart opens with a loquacious and
mispronounced incantation and is promptly disarmed by Professor Snape with a sharp
expelliarmus. Harry, next to him, isnt doing as well at hiding his laughter and has to clamp a hand

over his mouth and nose.

But Professor Lockhart breezes right past his shame and, as if it hadnt happened at all, breaks
everyone up into pairs to practice the disarming spell.
Harry has already turned to Draco and opened his mouth to ask the inevitable question when
Lockhart is suddenly beside them.
Mr. Malfoy! he says. I believe I promised you some individualized instruction.
Uh, Draco says, looking between Harry and Professor Lockhart.
Mr. Potter, Professor Lockhart says, Im sorry to deprive you of your friend, but why dont
you partner up with Mr. Weasley?
At once, they both look to their right, where Ron is standing beside a Gryffindor girl who Draco
thinks is named Parvati. Ron looks back at them, frowning.
I dont Harry begins.
Splendid! Professor Lockhart interrupts, offering a hand to help Draco climb up onto the table.
Draco gives Harry an apologetic look and takes Professor Lockharts outstretched hand.
Once on top of the table, Professor Snape approaches, his hands clasped behind his back and his
robes billowing around his ankles. As Professor Lockhart prattles on about going easy on Draco
and making sure he learns as much as he can, Professor Snape bends his head to address him
Dont do too much damage to him, he says.
Dracos not paying as much attention as perhaps he should. Can you make sure Harry and Ron
dont kill each other? he asks, trying to crane his neck to get a good look at them. He can just
barely see Weasleys bright ginger hair opposite Harrys mop.
Professor Snape gives them a sidelong look. I cant guarantee anything.
Then I cant guarantee I wont do too much damage to Professor Lockhart.
Trust me, Draco, as a man who recently had the opportunity to hex him blind its like kicking a
puffskein. Its easy, unrewarding, and afterwards you feel guilty.
They just got into a bit of a row, Draco says. Just step in if they start exchanging blows.
Professor Snape sighs. Fine. But I expect you to hold up your end.
Yes, yes, he returns, producing his wand from his sleeve. No permanent damage. Honestly,
hes my professor, what am I going to do?
En lieu of answering, Professor Snape just raises an eyebrow, knowing full well what Draco
could do. Professor Snape steps off the table and goes to monitor the pairs of students as they start
practicing the disarming spell.
have no reason to be concerned, is my general point; Id never do anything to hurt you! Are
you ready, Mr. Malfoy?
Draco turns forward, though half his attention is still on Ron and Harry. Of course, Professor.

Just simple attack and deflect spells! I attack, you deflect, you attack, I deflect, and so on.
Right. He can see Ron growling something at Harry as they both produce their wands from
their sleeves.
This first one is called the stymieing jinx, a favorite of mine! You may recall that I used this to
great success in Voyages with Vampires when
Now theyre arguing. Draco really should be down there; he know they can both get very
hotheaded and Harry in particular can be overly protective when people start badmouthing Draco.
Professor Lockhart is chattering about something shortly before he sends out a useless little jinx;
Draco deflects it with a shield charm without looking away.
And now theyre shouting at each other. Fantastic. Draco scans the crowd for Professor Snape as
he distractedly casts a leg-locking jinx that should be harmless enough, right? but as Harry and
Rons argument gets more heated, they start throwing hexes at each other.
Somewhere in the periphery of his vision, Professor Lockhart crashes onto the table. Draco tunes
him out and strains to listen to their conversation. He can only make out bits and pieces.
cant just get over yourself!
bloody well obvious that hes up to something, if only youd listen to sense!
Listening to sense, thats rich, all the baseless gossip that goes around this school, nobody seems
to have any sense!
Their hexes are getting really nasty. Damn it, where is Professor Snape?
Ha ha-ha, Mr. Malfoy, that good shot! Very good shot! Of course, if I had so wished, I
would have deflected it, but I thought it better to show you
Halfway through his attempt to stand, Professor Lockhart collapses back onto the table, legs still
locked. Draco spares him a half-glance, dispels the jinx, then looks back to Harry and Ron.
You dont know anything about him! Harry cries.
I know hes a bloody snake! Serpensortia!
Several students scream. Draco knows the spell and swears under his breath, climbing off the table
and pushing his way through the crowd toward them.
The screams stop, replaced with a much deeper, more terrified silence. As he carves a path
through the students, he sees a massive anaconda slithering across the floor between them, moving
for Harry in slow, languid motions. Harrys lips are moving but Draco cant make out any words
he can, however, detect a low, fearsome hissing sound.
It takes Draco a moment to put together exactly what hes hearing.
Finite incantatem, says Professor Snape from behind, and the snake burns up and into
Ron is the most surprised of any of them, by the look on his face. In fact, the only one who
doesnt seem to understand what the fuss is about is Harry.

Draco swallows dryly.

Now I get it, Ron whispers. Now I understand. Hes not corrupting you. Youre already
Harry stares at him uncomprehendingly. I what?
Draco grabs his elbow. We need to go, he says to Harry. Right now.
But I whats he talking about?
Maybe thats why the Dark Lord came after him, says the-girl-who-is-maybe-named-Parvati in
a stage whisper. Getting rid of competition.
Everyone get back to work, Professor Snape barks. That is quite enough ogling!
Draco gives Harrys sleeve another tug, and he stumbles. He pulls him out of the Great Hall, mind
What did he mean? Harry asks as they walk, his voice tense. He said Im corrupted.
Draco is silent, mouth a hard line, until the doors of the Great Hall close with a resounding, fateful
sound behind them.
He stuffs one hand into his pocket and feels the familiar rubber ball beneath his fingertips. It seems
unbearably heavy and unmovable.
Youre a Parselmouth.
Im a what?
Draco turns. Harry looks so frightened frightened, and upset, and confused. Draco is confronted
with the strange reality that he felt when he first realized Harry was his friend, a reality he has
perhaps not given name until this very moment.
More than anything, Draco wants to protect Harry. He sees him thrust into a world forcing him to
grow up too fast and wants to slow it down; he sees him in a family that mistreats him and spirits
him to safety; he sees him scared and wants to make the fear go away.
Draco has never felt this way about anyone before. It makes his heart race uncomfortably fast.
Lets go walking, Draco says. Ill explain.
This is a coincidence, Draco thinks. It must be a coincidence. In the back of his mind, however,
Draco knows that he no longer believes in coincidence.

14 February, 1993
Love need not speak volumes.
Amit Abraham

Happy Valentines Day, Harry says, drawing Dracos attention away from the pile of papers
laid out in front of him at the Ravenclaw table.
Is it Valentines Day? Draco asks, looking up and noticing, for the first time, the red, pink, and
white streamers hanging from the ceiling, the boxes of candy scattered across the table, and the
heart-shaped decorative confetti on the ground. Oh. So it is.
Got a Valentine this year? Harry asks.
Youre feeling better, then, Draco answers, rather than answer his question. For the past few
weeks Harrys been in a bit of a funk as the rumors of his being a Parselmouth spread through the
school. Despite Dracos assurances that it was almost definitely a coincidence and does not in any
way assure that hes evil, children are vicious bastards, and one callous comment has more weight
than a thousand reassurances.
Harry sinks into the chair opposite him. Though Draco had never been welcome at the Gryffindor
table, the Ravenclaws most of them more preoccupied with their books or conversations never
minded Harry.
You know, Harry says, I take each day as it comes.
Hes nervous, Draco notices. Hes shifting his weight from side to side, and glancing toward the
door every few seconds, like hes expecting something.
Are you all right? Draco asks.
Harry looks back at him, chewing at his lower lip. Under all the apprehension, Draco can detect
the signs of some other emotion excitement? Its hard to tell.
Fine, Harry says. Whats all this?
He gestures toward the pile of papers. Most of them are covered in equations.
Doing some calculations for the sun-bound rocket for the Horcrux, Draco answers. Its a bit
more complicated than Id anticipated it being.
Well, you cant say its not rocket science, I suppose.
Draco stares at him uncomprehendingly.
Sorry, Muggle joke. So when do you think itll be ready?

Couple months, Draco answers, shrugging. May, perhaps. June at the latest. For now, its safe
in the lockbox. He takes a sip of pumpkin juice.
Harry nods. He keeps looking back at the door. Draco is about to ask him if hes waiting for
someone, when quite abruptly, said doors burst open, and a flock of white doves come soaring in,
each one with a letter clasped in its beak.
The arrival draws several startled shouts. The birds scatter across the Great Hall, each one landing
in front of a student. Just as Draco is putting together that these are part of the elaborate
Valentines Day celebration, one of the doves lands in front of him.
Draco blinks at the bird, startled. It lowers its white head and drops a large, starch, cream-colored
envelope atop his pile of papers. Draco Malfoy is written on it in silvery calligraphy.
The bird flies away again and Draco is left staring at the envelope in stunned silence.
Its for you, Harry says unhelpfully.
Draco looks up at him. He puts it together immediately, of course, and oh, Merlin. His face
suddenly feels a bit hot, which is a completely unacceptable reaction. He makes a small noise to
clear his throat and picks up the envelope. Theres a bright red wax seal which Draco breaks to
pull out a white card.
The front of the card has a moving, stylized illustration of a silver butterfly flapping its wings with
soft shimmers of magic. At once, Draco thinks back to the conversation hed had with Harry
several nights ago, where he had explained or at least tried to explain the concept of chaos
theory. Hed used Edward Lorenzs famous explanation of the butterfly effect, and Harry had
asked, with a small and wistful smile, if there were a lot of butterflies involved in mathematics.
Draco recalls laughing, and feeling that strange and ever-more-frequent pressure in his chest that
made his heart beat a little too fast.
He swallows and opens the card and all at once, catching him quite off-guard, dozens of magical
silver butterfly explode out from within. Draco laughs, startled, as the butterflies make elaborate
twists and loops through the air before dissolving into a fine silvery dust that showers back down.
Be my valentine is written on the inside of the card, though its unsigned. Draco is somewhere
between mortified, delighted, baffled, and giddy. Its a strange and wonderful feeling.
Whos it from? Harry asks.
Draco swallows the response of you, obviously and instead looks up at Harry, who seems to be
making a rather concerted effort to not be too interested in the answer.
So he plays along. It doesnt say, Draco answers, and Harry nods. Draco bites down on the
smile that arrives on his mouth, unbidden, and he looks back down at the card. Its sweet, he
adds, softly.
Harry looks more than a little pleased.

19 June, 1993
Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation.
John D. Rockefeller

and once I managed to quantify a unit of magical energy, it became a lot easier. Did you
know that no one ever thought to put magical energy into units? I suppose theres never been
much call for it in magical theory, but still, it seems like someone would have Harry? Keep up!
Physically or intellectually? Harry asks as he shakes a pebble from his shoe.
Cheeky. Come on, its nearly time.
Harry kicks back on his shoe and hurries to catch up. What are they called?
What are what called?
Your units of magical energy.
They dont really have a name. Ive just been using the Greek letter mu.
You should name them after yourself. It worked well for Watt.
Draco laughs. What, a Malfoy of magic? Doesnt exactly have a ring to it.
Grinning, Harry admits, Not really, no.
Out past the Quidditch Pitch, near the edge of the Forbidden Forest, theres a low, grassy hill that
commands a splendid view of the lake. In early summer, the air is saturated with the scent of flora
and bright with sunshine. As soon as they reach the top of the knoll, Draco sinks to his knees and
starts setting it up.
In the end, the device ended up looking rather like an upside-down teapot with four spouts. It is
alive and almost trembling with magical potential energy to send it flying when activated,
shrouded with stabilizing charms to keep it on its course, and painted bright red to make it look
Got your watch? Draco asks, producing the magical lockbox from his bag and opening it so he
could put the diary inside the bright red teapot rocket.
Harry fishes out the fob watch Draco gave him and clicks it open. Forty seconds till the top of the
hour, he says.
Just in time. He casts the last minute spells, then sets the teapot rocket down and hurries back
down the hill, Harry at his heels.
Twenty-five seconds, Harry supplies.

Draco conjures a blanket to spread out on the grass and sits down. He produces the shrunken
picnic basket from the pocket of his robe and expands it with a quick spell. Harry sits down next
to him, though hes got one eye on the watch.
Fifteen seconds.
Heres to a successful school year, Draco says, flipping open the picnic basket and grabbing a
quick bite of one of the packed muffins.
Five four three two one!
Draco shoots out a fast activation spell that hits the teapot rocket dead-center. The reaction is
tremendous; it moves so fast that Draco would have missed it if hed blinked. In one second its
there, in the next, its a streak of red screaming up into the air, trajectorized straight for the sun.
Harry laughs, and its not long before its well out of view.
That was fast, he says.
It has to escape earths orbit; of course its fast!
And its going all the way to the sun. Harrys voice is almost reverent and it makes Draco laugh.
Well, its certainly bound for the sun, Draco says. Chances are pretty good that the Horcrux
will get burnt to cinders in the atmosphere.
Harry grabs the flask of pumpkin juice Draco had packed and pours out two cups. Draco takes
one and Harry raises his. To creative problem-solving.
Draco laughs and knocks his glass against Harrys.
Theyre silent for a while. The shrieking has settled into a distant thrum from the sky before it
begins fading into silence.
Now, Merlin willing, Draco says, leaning back on one hand, the universe will finally leave you
alone for a while.
Harry gives him a sidelong smirk. Is that why you did all this?
It was mostly an excuse to build a rocket.
You dont have to protect me, you know, Harry says, but hes smiling when Draco looks at
Some days I feel like I do, Draco admits, with some reluctance. He takes a sip of pumpkin juice.
No one else seems to be doing a very good job of it.
So that automatically makes it your problem, does it?
Are you complaining?
Im not complaining, Harry says, Im just observing.
Thats my job.
Complaining or observing?

Harry smiles, and Draco feels a resurgence of that crushing sensation in his chest. Its been getting
more frequent lately, strongest in these quiet moments when the understanding is instinctual,
unspoken. After a great deal of deliberation, Draco has decided that he likes the feeling.
Now if only he knew what to do with it. Draco is sure that this is a product of his utter lack of
social graces.
Its a strange compulsion, Draco says, more quietly, staring into his pumpkin juice. And that is
the best word for it, I think. Compulsion. I felt it before I even knew who you were. I was
outraged on your behalf from the start over the way the world was treating you.
Harry is still smiling, though it seems a little more sad now. I do appreciate it, he says, though
the irony isnt lost on me.
You keep doing all of these impossible things because you say I shouldnt have to deal with
them. So then what is that means you should?
Draco is silent a moment. He stares up at the sky, at the wisps of cirrus clouds lit silver by the sun,
and considers his answer.
I dont know, he replies after a moment. I suppose its just the fact that I can.
You can, therefore you should?
Maybe. Draco finishes off his cup of pumpkin juice. Ethics are complicated.
Harry smirks. I hope I get to pay you back for it someday.
Draco opens his mouth, hesitating on the edge of you pay me back every day by being my friend.
At the last moment, he decides against saying it, and licks his lips. Too revealing, he thinks. Draco
doesnt like being revealing it makes him feel vulnerable.
Are you nervous about the Gryffindor-Slytherin game coming up? he says instead, and they
spend the rest of the afternoon sprawled out on the blanket in the grass at the base of the hill,
talking and laughing and watching the sky, and its the best day Dracos had in a long time.

31 July, 1993
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
Ernest Hemingway
Playlist DAUGHTRY - "HOME"

Were not going to sing, Professor Snape says, rather than something more appropriate like
happy birthday, Harry or and many more to come. He sets the cake down on the table store
bought, after he and Draco agreed that they were in no way qualified to bake a cake under the
awning of the back patio of 29 Spinners End. The sweltering summer heat is tempered to
bearable levels by the pale blue cooling charms that churn lazily overhead like silk submerged in
Harry is beaming. I think that would be weird, anyway, with just three people. Chocolate?
I thought that would be a safe choice, yes.
Happy birthday, Draco says, conjuring thirteen candles with a quick spell and lighting them
with another. Make a wish?
Harry laughs. I dont need anything.
Wishes generally arent made for things you need, Draco says.
Also, theyre almost always pointless without specific magical intervention, Snape adds as he
sits down, and Draco throws a balled-up napkin at him.
Stop being cynical, Draco chides. Its his birthday and he can make a wish if he wants to.
I wouldnt know what to ask for, Harry says.
You can come up with something, surely.
Harry looks at Draco in silence for a moment, then to Professor Snape, then to the cake, where the
conjured candles burn their conjured flames. A warm wind whispers through the air, snaking
between the buildings and rustling the trees.
I wish, Harry begins, slowly, like hes not sure, that life will be safe but not boring, that bad
things will only happen to make me more grateful for the good things, and that the people I love
are safe and happy.
Draco is strangely touched, though he hopes it doesnt register on his face.
And I wish for Gryffindor to win the Quidditch Cup this year. He blows out the candles.
You are so very much your mothers child, Professor Snape says suddenly, and Harry looks up
in surprise.

You knew my mother?

The lines of Professor Snapes throat roll as he swallows. Draco knows him well enough to see
the pain hes trying so desperately to hide. He had never spoken of it, of course Professor Snape
was never one to share, and Draco never one to pry but Draco had worked out most of the story
from a thousand little hints in the years hed known him.
I did, he says, softly. You have her eyes. Has anyone ever told you that?
They never stop, actually, Harry answers.
Professor Snape smiles, and its nothing but pain. Draco frowns, suddenly overcome with the
temptation to put a reassuring hand on his arm. He resists.
You look just like your father, but you have her eyes, he says. Her eyes and her spirit. When I
first saw you in my class, I thought I would never be able to survive with a walking reminder of
of her, so close, but I
Draco has never seen Professor Snape this close to inarticulate. He takes in a centering breath and
leans back in his chair, turning his face skyward.
Its better, I think, he says, this way. More difficult, but more rewarding. Its better to cherish a
living memory than cling to a dead one.
I Harry begins, but falters. I didnt mean to upset you
He releases a breath so long that he must have been holding it for twenty years. He smiles again,
with more strength, and puts an affectionate hand on Harrys hair.
Im not upset, he says, and seems to mean it. Im glad. Happy birthday, Harry.
Draco starts dividing up the cake with a series of careful spells. War looms, a madman seeks to
make his return, the world is conspiring against a thirteen-year-old, and here we are, glad. Does
that make us insane?
Too much perspective, Harry says, eagerly taking his slice of cake.
The burden of genius, Professor Snape says, smirking at Draco, is that you can never make
yourself forget the perspective.
Draco averts his eyes. He has not stopped disliking the term genius. He stares out into the cement
and mortar jungle of the little industrial neighborhood, thinking about wars and Dark Magic and
Eat your cake, Draco, urges Professor Snape, drawing him back out of his own mind. Draco
manages a smile and sets to eating.

1 September, 1993
The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
Nelson Mandela

Draco, were going to be late!

No, we arent, he says. He hands the vendor three knuts and takes the proffered copy of The
Daily Prophet with a nod of thanks.
I can hear the engines!
Would you just hold on? I promise were not going to miss the bloody train.
Come on.
Theres a hand around his wrist and Draco stumbles when it pulls him sharply to one side. Draco
sighs, knowing that he wont be able to scan the headlines until theyre aboard.
Hampstead Halfway, the glamoured little alcove tucked behind a perception filter in the middle of
Kings Cross Station, vanishes abruptly as Draco is tugged dragged, really past the ward. At
least he managed to get a copy of the paper.
Its not until theyre pushing through the platform pillar and up to the long, scarlet train that Harry
finally releases his wrist.
There, you see? Draco says as they climb into one of the train cars toward the end. I told you
we werent in any danger of missing it.
Harry doesnt answer. He pulls open a compartment door. Its open, save for a single man dressed
in torn, shabby clothes, slumped and sleeping in the corner.
Werewolf, Draco says before he can stop himself.
What? Harry asks.
Nothing. Seems weve got a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor this year. He sits
down and tucks his trunk under his seat.
What happened to Lockhart?
At an educated but completely random guess, I would say that someone must have sent a copy of
his final exam to Professor Dumbledore with all the questions like what is Gilderoy Lockharts
favorite color circled in bright red ink. Draco flips open his newspaper.
You didnt, Harry says.

I can neither confirm nor deny that I did anything.

Harry chuckles. Still, cant say he didnt have it coming.
Draco finds the article he was looking for and spends a while skimming it. Underneath them
theres a great hiss as the train starts to move, groaning and pulling from the station.
A few moments of silence pass as Draco reads. After a moment, Harry leans over and whispers,
just barely loud enough for Draco to hear, Who is that?
Professor Remus J. Lupin, Draco answers, just as quietly, without looking away from the paper.
What? How do you know?
It says so on his briefcase. It was one of the first things Draco had noticed when he came into
the compartment. That and the fact he is a werewolf.
If hes a professor, whats he doing taking the train?
How do you imagine a man breaks out of Azkaban? Draco asks, foregoing the whispering.
Whats Azkaban?
Draco looks at Harry in surprise a moment. I keep forgetting you dont know these things, he
says. Azkaban is a wizarding prison. Its on a rock in the North Sea.
Oh. I dont know. How would you break out of Azkaban?
Couldnt tell you, not without being there.
So who escaped? Harry asks, settling down next to Draco and stretching his legs out on the
My cousin.
The answer catches Harry off-guard, clearly; Draco can tell by the way he jerks slightly.
You youve got a cousin in Azkaban?
Not anymore, apparently, Draco says, folding the paper back up and sitting back. And I think
hes technically my second cousin.
Who is he?
Sirius Black, he says, and he detects the subtlest of twitches from the slumped figure on the
other side of the compartment. Not sleeping, then. Dracos not surprised. His breathing isnt slow
enough to be that of someone sleeping. Black sheep of the family. Or white sheep, as the case
may be.
What did he do? Harry asks.
If you mean what he did to become the Black family pariah, thatll take some saying. If you
mean what he did to get into Azkaban
Draco frowns at Harry. Perhaps he should have told him this story earlier. Still, theres never been
much of a call to do so. Its never really been relevant.

I think its worth mentioning that I dont believe the official story, Draco says.
What official story? asks Harry, as he sits forward.
That he sold your parents out to the Dark Lord.
He waits for some sort of reaction on Harrys face, but is left waiting for quite some time. Harry
leans back and looks toward the window, all while keeping his expression carefully and
studiously devoid of emotion.
Harry doesnt say anything, and Draco doesnt like that at all. Harry is only this quiet when
somethings wrong.
Draco isnt sure what to say, though he knows he should has to say something. He opens his
mouth, but right at that moment, theres a tremendous squealing sound, and the train rattles to a
very sudden halt, nearly throwing them both forward.
What in? Harry says, catching himself just barely on his seat.
At once, Draco stands and goes to the window, but he cant see anything out of the ordinary. But
with the window cracked open, he can smell.
Dark Magic, Draco whispers, and all the pieces connect rapidly in his head.
Draco? Whats going on? Why have we stopped?
Dementors, he says. Hes bound for Hogwarts. Why is he bound for Hogwarts?
What? Who? Whats a dementor?
Draco doesnt answer. He heads for the compartment door and pokes his head out just in time to
see the light in the corridor vanish, evaporated like water. At the far end, he can see living
shadow, warping, twisting, undulating, moving in ebbs like water on sand. He swallows.
Right, Draco says. The important thing is to be calm. These are Azkaban dementors, which
means they are under Ministry employ, and and should not be dangerous.
Merlin, though, theyre fucking terrifying. His heart is thrumming in his chest already.
Stand back, says a hoarse voice in his ear, and Draco whirls.
The werewolf is standing now, body tight and poised, his wand in one hand, his eyes focused on
the dementor as it ripples toward them.
Draco stands back.
Why is it dark? Harry whispers. His voice is wan, trembling.
Try to focus on a happy memory, Draco says. Can you do that, Harry? Think of something
happy and dont stop thinking of it.
I Harry is staring at the door, pupils blown wide and transfixed over Professor Lupins
shoulder, where Draco can hear feel the hissing darkness.
Think of Paris, Draco whispers, refusing to turn around. He grabs Harrys arms and inserts
himself between Harry and the door. Remember Paris? Last year? When I took you to the
Champs Elyses, to Cecilia Gilli, and we laughed about how we didnt understand the appeal of

haute couture?
Harrys skin is clammy underneath his fingertips, but his eyes are refocusing on Draco.
We were laughing so hard that all those classy Parisians were giving us dirty looks and it only
made us laugh harder. Do you remember?
Theres no one in here, Professor Lupin says, voice drawn. Move on.
Theres some dreadful snarling hiss in response and Harry shudders. Draco grips him even tighter,
though whether its for Harrys benefit or his own is unclear.
And then later that same day, Draco chokes, we went down to le de la Cit, to la SainteChapelle, and you said the stained glass was the most beautiful thing youd ever seen. You told
me you didnt know if there was a god, but the chapel made you think there might be. Do you
remember, Harry? Dont stop remembering.
Harry tries. Draco can see him trying. He knows it isnt easy. Keeping those memories in the front
of his mind is like holding water in cupped hands. The vividness turns grey, the smiles and
laughter sink away as though they had never been at all.
Go, snarls Professor Lupin. Theres no one here.
Harry looks like hes about to pass out. Draco squeezes his arms all the harder and shuts his eyes,
willing himself back to Paris in that heavy summer heat when everything was fine and beautiful.
Expecto patronum!
Theres a dreadful shriek, a rush of air and shadow, and then nothing. Draco rakes in a breath and
Harry makes a soft wheezing sound as he pulls himself upright.
What, Harry gasps, was that?
Professor Lupin turns. He looks a bit white, making the long scars on his face almost invisible, but
otherwise composed.
A dementor, he answers. Chocolate?
Any comment on what those dementors are likely to find on this train, Professor? Draco asks,
because he saw his reaction to the name Sirius Black, and really, whats he meant to do, not ask?
He looks down at Draco, hazel eyes sharp. His expression is, by turns, surprised, bemused,
thoughtful, then back to composed.
Not at present, Mr. Malfoy, he answers, then repeats: Chocolate?

15 October, 1993
Nothing is as frustrating as arguing with someone who knows what hes talking about.
Sam Ewing

Draco doesnt even realize he has company until he hears the chair across from him scrape across
the floor. He looks up from his book in time to see Harry, stony-faced and silent.
He doesnt bother asking whether or not hes all right; he wouldnt waste the breath. What
Ron Weasley, he answers.
Draco twirls his quill around his thumb and forefinger. He does seem to have a way of
Harrys lips curl briefly away from his teeth, then he looks averts his eyes. Apparently Im the
reason Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban.
Hes heard the rumor as much as Harry, of course. It would have taken more effort to remain
ignorant. I dont think thats true, he says.
When is it not about me? Harry asks, and the bitterness in his voice makes Draco frown. Lets
be honest, theres been a pattern these last few years.
Pattern does not causality make, Draco says. Not that I disagree with your assessment you
did get an underground death trap tailor-made for you at the age of eleven but I think, for the
first time, this actually isnt about you.
Youre the smartest person I know, Draco, but you cant just pretend like this isnt a huge
Draco shakes his head. It doesnt add up. There are too many unexplained gaps in the story. Hes
bound for Hogwarts that much I concede but if he was after you, why wait until now?
Maybe hes part of Voldemorts new plan, Harry spits.
Draco flinches. He has never gotten used to the way Harry so casually uses his name.
He doesnt work for him.
And you know that, do you?
Youre being combative, Draco says. Stop being combative.
Im just saying, you wouldnt know, not for sure!
He was just about the only one in the the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black who

Draco stops short when a few passing Hufflepuffs look at him askance. He frowns, wets his lips,
shuts his book, and leans forward, speaking more quietly:
who didnt take the Dark Mark. He was friends with your parents. He had no reason to
suddenly switch sides.
And thats why he went to Azkaban? Harry challenges, and though hes angry, hes also
keeping his voice down. Because he didnt sell them out?
He wasnt even given a trial, Draco says. I should know, I sent after for records.
I hope he finds me, Harry says. His voice is low, dangerous.
Draco frowns. Dont say that.
Let him come. I have a few choice questions.
He sighs and shuts his book, knowing he isnt going to be getting much more reading on magical
surgery done. Harry, he says, I know youre angry
Youre bloody right Im angry! he says as he stands, speaking so loudly that several eyes
around the study alcove are drawn to him a distressing effect, since Draco knows how hard it is
to distract a Ravenclaw from studying. Why shouldnt I be?
Sit down, Draco hisses. The last thing they need is undue attention.
If youre so convinced hes innocent
I never said he was innocent, he is breaking into a school I just dont think
then prove it. Thats what you do, isnt it, Holmes?
Draco bristles at the derisiveness of his tone. Im not Sherlock Holmes, and youre being a
As it stands, the evidence that hes a traitor and a Death Eater who got my parents killed is pretty
damn persuasive, so forgive me for not sharing your saintlike impartiality!
The comment stings, but Draco doesnt let on.
I cant talk to you like this, he says brusquely, gathering his books and things from the table.
Go flying for a while and come find me when youre not taking swipes at your best friend.
Wouldnt a best friend be taking my side? Harry growls. Were not arguing about Quidditch
here, Draco, were talking about the man who betrayed my parents!
No, Harry, Draco snaps back, a friend takes sides; a best friend reminds you that life is rarely
so simple, even when you dont want to be reminded.
I hardly think youre qualified to know the finer points of friendship!
If the last comment stung, this one is a slap. Draco nearly swallows his tongue in an effort to keep
himself in check.
Theres a moment of silence before some of the anger on Harrys face deflates, replaced by what

Draco thinks is remorse but then, how would he know? He doesnt know the finer points of
friendship, his mind supplies bitterly.
I didnt mean it like that, Harry begins haltingly, I
Fuck you, Draco interjects, turning on a heel and storming from the study room. He is
composed and collected as he makes his way back to the Ravenclaw tower. He is not turning over
Harrys remark in his head. He does not let it get to him. And his eyes are definitely not stinging
with the threat of angry tears.

31 October, 1993
A man has no more character than he can command in a time of crisis.
Ralph W. Sockman

Every night for the past two weeks, Draco has gone walking through the castle alone.
He is not entirely sure why. He tells himself that it does not matter, but he still wonders.
In the past, Draco has isolated himself because he prefers isolation, and while that fact remains
generally true, it does not explain why Draco decides to go walking only after several hours of
trying and failing to fall asleep, or why the walks are longer on days when Harry has attempted
(unsuccessfully) to pull him aside and talk to him.
He is forced to admit, however reluctantly, that there is probably more to it than the fact that Draco
likes being alone.
For a while Draco considered consulting Professor Snape for advice, but their weekly teas passed
without him uttering a word about it. Draco would like to make himself believe its because he
knows Professor Snape would be the worst person in the world to give advice on interpersonal
relationships, but he is aware that it also likely has to do with the fact that talking about it makes
his stomach hurt.
I hardly think youre qualified to know the finer points of friendship!
And, now that he thinks about it, it also makes him hate himself a little bit.
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. But if Draco thought the remark was nothing more than an
unfounded heat-of-the-moment insult, he would have no compunction in forgetting Harry had
ever said it and moving on. It follows logically that the reason he cant get it out of his head is
because it is not unfounded. It further follows that this truth bothers him on a level more profound
than he expected.
Draco knows he is not a naturally gregarious creature. He knows he sometimes misses otherwise
obvious cues in social situations, and that he is still training himself to remember the value in his
But he thought he was getting better. He had really been trying. If his best friends knee jerk
reaction was to the contrary, perhaps all the progress he thought he had made was in his head.
He is standing by the window and watching the dementors ripple through the moonlit sky like
inky stains when there is a sudden scream. It is coming from the base of the Gryffindor tower, and
the first thought to enter into Dracos mind is Harry.
He pulls his wand from his sleeve and runs.
As he approaches a corner he can hear strange, hiccoughing sobs and a low, snarling voice.

open the goddamned way, I know you can!

Help! Help, someone, help!
Draco recognizes the latter voice as belonging to the portrait guarding the entrance to the
Gryffindor tower. He does not recognize the other. He slows at the corner and presses his back
flat to the wall, peering around.
Ill burn you to cinders, you vile woman! Open the way!
Draco takes in a breath. He spends a few seconds putting together a plan. He checks his watch.
Help! the Fat Lady wails. She has a massive slash across the bottom half of her canvas and is
clutching her bosom tightly with both hands.
Plan formed by sheer luck and the grace of God, he spins around the corner, wand out.
Cousin, Draco says, and Sirius Black whirls on the heel of his foot, his own wand gripped
tightly in his hand.
Underfed, dirty, mad-eyed, shabbily-dressed, unkempt even if Draco hadnt known in advance
that hed been in Azkaban, he still could have read it in every line of his face.
He narrows his eyes. He looks ready to attack Draco, but his curiosity seems to be just barely
edging out his self-preservation.
Its been a while, Draco continues, keeping his posture primed and ready to react. Most if not
all of my life, actually.
It takes him a moment. His head cants to one side, and when he draws the connection he lifts his
chin, though he doesnt lower his wand.
To be that blond and call me cousin, he says, you can only be Narcissas boy.
The very same. Draco.
Good to meet you, Draco, he continues, though theres a distinct snideness to his voice. Wish
the circumstances were better.
One copes as one must. Looking to get into the Gryffindor tower?
Sirius bares his teeth but doesnt answer.
How dreadfully predictable. Youre making it rather hard for me to defend your honor to Harry.
As Draco suspected it would, the name evokes an immediate and very telling reaction the hard
lines of his face soften, and for an instant, he nearly drops his wand.
Harrys here, he says. You know him.
Hes not the reason youre here.
Of course not!
You must admit, then, that this behavior is rather suspect. What is it you want from the
Gryffindor tower?

He snarls. The filthy traitor is my problem, not yours.

Youre breaking into a school full of children in the middle of the night. That is everyones
He is about to ask who this traitor is when, right on time for a nightly cup of tea, the door down
the hallway leading to the nearby Ravenclaw tower opens with a groan.
Professor Flitwick! Draco shouts.
Siriuss eyes widen. He looks over Dracos shoulder, then back to Draco.
Out of the way, he snarls.
Not a chance, Draco ripostes.
Protego! The red light bounces uselessly of a glossy sheen of magic. Expelliarmus!
Defendare! Quick little bastard, arent you?
Quicker than you.
Theres a rush of magic, a jet of sparks shooting out over Dracos shoulder from behind and aimed
straight for Sirius. He doesnt react in time and takes the attack full-on and is thrown backward
into the wall.
Dont move, Black! Professor Flitwick shouts behind him, with a commanding tone that takes
Draco entirely by surprise. Incarcerous!
He stumbles and ducks, avoiding the spell by mere inches, then all at once he shifts into the form
of a massive, hulking black dog.
For a moment, Draco is startled, but he adjusts quickly and widens his stance. Is that meant to
intimidate me?
Sirius snarls. It is a much more feral sound than before.
Youre not getting out of this castle, Black, he says. You must know that. I can help you.
Cooperate with Flitwick and I can help you prove
But before he can finish, Sirius leaps at Draco, teeth bared and flashing, and tackles him to the
floor. Dracos head hits the flagstone with a dreadful crack, and stars explode behind his eyes.
The dog bounds over him. He can hear Professor Flitwick slinging spells and great clatters of
sound, along with a pained baying.
There is a slowly spreading wet heat at the back of his skull, and amid the thought-destroying
pain, Draco dearly hopes that its just blood and not brain matter. It feels like it could be either,
and Draco would be more scared if there wasnt so much pain to distract him
SIRIUS BLACK IS IN THE CASTLE, comes Professor Flitwicks magically amplified voice
a moment later, echoing from every corner of the corridor, and, likely, the entire building.
Draco tries to stand, but dizziness overtakes him and he collapses before hes halfway up. His
head is screaming with so much pain that he can barely see.

head is screaming with so much pain that he can barely see.

There are hands on his shoulders. Mr. Malfoy!
I Draco tries, but he cant finish the sentence. There is a disconnect between his mind and his
mouth. Scattered thoughts of brain anatomy and trauma tumble through his consciousness.
Professor Flitwick is standing over him. He reaches out and touches the side of Dracos head, and
when he pulls his hand back, its dark and shiny with blood. The edges of his vision are slightly
We need to get you to the hospital wing, Professor Flitwick says, and there is no panic in his
voice, which Draco finds terribly comforting. Dont stand. Ill levitate you down.
Hes Draco tries again, but the damned words catch in his throat. I need Professor Snape

Hush, Professor Flitwick says severely, and Draco is suddenly cocooned in magic that picks
him up off the ground; the shift sends waves of pain and nausea down his body. A shout of agony
rips out of Dracos throat unbidden. Stay still, Mr. Malfoy, stay still
The world goes out of focus and everything blurs together and then there is nothing.

1 November, 1993
I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
John Green

Somewhere in the periphery of his awareness, a clock chimes midnight.

Ten minutes or possibly fifty years later, theres a voice. It swims through darkness to reach him,
and at first, it sounds strangely foggy and indistinct.
Draco, my God, what did he do to you
Urgency, Draco thinks isnt there some urgency? Isnt there something dreadfully important that
Draco needs to do?
wring the bastards neck
Hazy memories of dogs and duels and towers surface in his mind, but theyre too jumbled to make
sense from. Draco is almost positive that there is something of vital import that he has to see to.
find Harry is he still in the Gryffindor Tower? The school is still
Dracos body surges with a kick of adrenaline and he shoots upright. He is in the hospital wing.
His mind is heavy with pain potions. He has to find Harry.
Draco! Draco, dont sit up so quickly!
His heart is thundering in his chest. Harry is fine. Isnt he? Sirius wasnt coming after Harry.
Somehow that knowledge doesnt make him feel better. Wheres Harry? He needs to see him, to
make sure hes okay, he just needs to be sure
He forces his eyes to refocus. The bed shifts and Professor Snape is suddenly in his field of vision,
expression drawn in lines of concern. His hands are on Dracos face and his eyes are searching
Professor he manages.
You had a fracture in your skull and a concussion, Professor Snape interjects. Madame
Pomfrey says she was able to heal the break in the bone and bring down the swelling, but that any
damage to the brain tissue would have to heal naturally. How do you feel?
It seems like such a simple question, but Draco doesnt know the answer, or what he might say
even if he did. The lack of response brings a look of quieted rage and alarm to Professor Snapes

I will kill him myself, Professor Snape vows, pulling Draco forward and into his arms. Draco
breathes in the scent of him a blend of a thousand exotic reagents, of unguents and salves and
smoke and dusty books and it does more to calm him than any combination of words could.
Attacking a child I knew he was scum, but I could have never imagined to what depths he
would sink
Draco returns his embrace, which seems to make his angry ranting fall short. Professor Snapes
arms tighten around him fractionally.
Dont you dare frighten me like this again, Professor Snape says into Dracos hair, and all the
rage has dissipated from his voice. Dont you dare, Draco.
Where is he? Draco asks. What happened?
Professor Snape pulls back, though he seems reluctant to do so.
The school went into lockdown, he answers. The dementors have been searching, but they
didnt find him. They think he escaped into the Forbidden Forest.
Draco nods slowly. Professor, he says, I think Ive worked it out.
Worked what out?
When his answer doesnt seem to clarify anything, Draco continues.
I know why Sirius Black came to Hogwarts. Or I know most of it. I think I have a way we can
corner him.
He gave me a concussion, Professor; its sort of personal at this point.
Professor Snape purses his lips.
Theres a slight creaking sound, a rustle. Draco takes in a breath. Several things happen all at once
in his chest and to various organs.
Harrys here.
Hes the worst invisible person ever.
Across the room, theres a deft flash of silver as Harry pulls off his invisibility cloak. Hes in his
flannel pajamas and bright red socks, looking nervous.
I suppose theres little enough point in asking you how you managed to get out of the Gryffindor
Tower during lockdown, Professor Snape says.
Draco Harry begins, but Draco pushes himself to his feet, ignores the way he wobbles, and
closes the gap between them to pull Harry into the tightest hug he can manage.
He can feel Harrys breath stutter. It ghosts across his jaw in uneven fits and starts. There is so

much they should talk about, Draco knows things they both need to say to each other but for
now, this is all he needs. This warm reassurance that Harry is fine, in his arms and pressed flush
against him.
I Harry begins.
Later, Draco promises.
A pause. Harry returns the embrace. Dracos heart beats a little bit faster. Cedar and soap.
Crushing sensation in his chest. Stomach churning. Electricity beneath his skin.
It hits him all at once, and for a moment the entire world is off-balance.
Would that I could never let you two out of my sight again, Professor Snape says, but Draco is
still reeling from the force of the realization how long have the signs been there, why did I never
put it together and he cant manage a response. He draws himself out of Harrys arms and looks
at him. Harry looks back.
Cedar and soap. Crushing sensation in his chest. Stomach churning. Fuck.
Green eyes meet his, hands grip his elbows. The clarity is devastating, but not as devastating as
the uncertainty.
Because what the hell is he supposed to do now?

9 November, 1993
We dont forgive people because they deserve it. We forgive them because they need it because
we need it.
Bree Despain
Playlist BRAHMS - OP. 51, 1st MOVT.

Mr. Malfoy, sighs Professor Dumbledore for what must be the fifteenth time since hes arrived
in his office, but Draco cuts him off.
Surely it has become painfully evident that there is no further recourse.
The dementors
have been completely ineffectual from the start. They were useless when he broke out of
Azkaban and they were useless when he broke in to Hogwarts. If anyone in this room is stupid
enough to think the Ministry of Magic is neither too useless nor too corrupt to handle this with any
degree of success, I beg them speak!
Draco spins on his heel to regard the others present. Professors Snape, Lupin, and Flitwick are all
varying degrees of resigned to the truth of Dracos words.
Headmaster, Professor Flitwick volunteers after a lapse of silence, if I have learned anything
about Mr. Malfoy in these past few years, its that he has two traits which could never be called
into question: his intelligence and his morality. I know for a fact that you have learned the same.
Professor Dumbledore doesnt answer immediately. Behind him, Fawkes gives a low, tender cry.
What do you think, Remus? he asks suddenly, his sharp blue eyes turning to Professor Lupin.
You've heard Mr. Malfoys plan. I think its fair to say that it relies heavily on his assumptions
about Sirius Blacks character and you would know it better than anyone.
Professor Snape makes a noise of disgust in the back of his throat. Professor Lupin gives him a
weary glance but otherwise doesnt react.
Headmaster, the plan is ironclad, Professor Lupin says, his voice soft and taciturn. It plays
directly into his nature as I remember it. If Mr. Malfoys deductions and theories are correct, I can
guarantee its success.
Of course my deductions and theories are correct, Draco says brusquely.
The plan does have the benefit of keeping the students out of harms way, Professor Flitwick
adds. It definitionally separates them from Black.
And what do you think, Severus?
Draco looks back to Professor Snape in time to see him lift his chin.

You know my answer, Albus, he returns, but Professor Dumbledore merely raises a silvered
eyebrow in response. I think if Mr. Malfoy offers you a plan to save the school and, potentially, a
life, you would have to be an idiot not to take him up on it.
Draco does his very best not to look pleased. He turns his gaze back to Professor Dumbledore and
notes the small, vague smirk on his face.
When would you recommend beginning, Mr. Malfoy? he asks.
Soon, Draco answers, but not too soon. He needs a few days to regain a sense of security.
Professor Dumbledore idly flicks his wand, making the pages of his day planner flip rapidly.
Shall we say the seventeenth?
After a pause, he nods. The seventeenth.
Ill warn Minerva and Pomona, then, shall I? Professor Flitwick offers, and with a nod of
dismissal from the Headmaster, he starts toward the door. With a start, Draco hurries after him.
Professor Flitwick!
Behind him, Professors Dumbledore, Snape, and Lupin talk of preparations in low tones, and
Draco speaks quietly so as not to interrupt.
I didnt get the chance to thank you, he says. For taking me to the hospital wing. And for
leaping in to help with Black.
Professor Flitwick gives him a sparkling smile, all bright silver eyes and dimples. You certainly
dont need to thank me for that, Mr. Malfoy.
That sparking spell was damn impressive, Draco says, grinning. It must have thrown him back
five feet.
Well, in fairness, Ive had plenty of practice. I was a world champion duelist in my day, you
It shows, Draco says, and he means it.
By the way at the risk of being perceived as self-serving, fifty points to Ravenclaw.
Draco gives a start. Sir?
For handling a catastrophe with tremendous intelligence and heroism, and for saving the poor Fat
Lady and possibly many others! You put yourself in harms way to protect your peers. He pats
Dracos arm affectionately. A rare quality, especially in a moment of crisis.
Draco can honestly say that hed never considered his reaction heroic. He thinks that perhaps
Professor Flitwick is being a bit too generous, but he doesnt say so.
Ill see you in class, Mr. Malfoy.
Have a good night, Professor.
Professor Flitwick departs, smiling and whistling a jaunty tune, and Draco watches him go. If the
position of favorite professor hadnt been already and forevermore occupied by Professor Snape,
Draco rather thinks that Professor Flitwick might take the honor.

still not half-convinced you didnt have something to do with it, says Professor Snape behind
him, and Draco turns.
Youre being unfair, Severus, Professor Lupin says softly. Draco turns in time to see his
expression edged with guilt. I would never put children in harms way.
Your words mean very little to me, Professor Snape hisses. Especially to me.
Professor Lupin flinches. The past is the past, Severus.
The past is breaking into the school and attacking our students, Remus.
Everyone leaves Azkaban as a criminal, Professor Lupin says, eyes downcast as if conceding
the painful truth of Professor Snapes point, even if they didnt go in as one.
Whatever sympathy I had for Blacks dubious conviction evaporated when he fractured my
godsons skull, Professor Snape snarls. If Mr. Malfoys plan works, you had best talk some
sanity back into him, because if he so much as glances in Dracos direction, Ill put him down like
the animal he has clearly become.
Ill talk him down. Professor Lupins voice is steady and self-assured, but his expression of
apprehension betrays him.
Draco slips out of the Headmasters office and down the spiral staircase leading into the castle
proper. As he emerges, he rubs the back of his head, where he can feel the thin, rough scar
underneath his hair. He traces the jagged edges of it with his fingertips, wishing that if he was
going to get a scar this interesting, it could at least be somewhere visible.
Howd it go?
Draco turns. Harry is standing by the wall, looking nervous. Draco feels the familiar flutter in his
stomach and he tries not to let on.
How long have you been waiting?
Harry shrugs. Not long, he says, and Draco knows at once that hes lying. How are the dizzy
Gone now, Draco assures him. Havent had once since yesterday.
Good, Harry says. He takes a breath, and Draco can see him gearing up for what is almost
assuredly a rehearsed speech. Good. Draco, I
I know.
Harry falters, frowns. I know you know, he says. You know most everything. Draco smirks.
Still, I think its important that I say it anyway.
Im sorry, he says. God, Draco Im so sorry. I didnt mean what I said. I dont even know
why I said it. I was angry at the situation and I took it out on you and
Harry, its all right.
Its not all right, he insists, stepping forward. I dont want you to think for a second that youre
anything less than the best friend Ive ever had.

anything less than the best friend Ive ever had.

At some point, the fluttering had turned into a dreadful churning, and Draco isnt sure if he wants
to bury his face in his hands and run away or grab Harry by the front of his robes and kiss him and
oh, Merlin, he wants to kiss Harry. This is not good.
Or maybe its wonderful. How the fuck should he know? To say this is new territory would be an
egregious understatement.
He takes a slow breath.
Im not going to pretend like it didnt hurt, Draco says. But it hurt because there was some
truth to it no, Harry, there was, you know there was. Im not Im not good at at this. At
being a friend. Im trying to learn, but sometimes
I think youre brilliant at it, says Harry quietly. In all the ways that matter, anyhow.
Draco manages a smile, though it feels weak. Harry returns it with more strength and it does
strange and wonderful things to Dracos heart.
You make me want to be even better, Draco says, realizing that he really is in so much trouble.

17 November, 1993
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Marcus Aurelius

The little, black rubber ball smacks against the window and rattles the glass each time Draco
throws it. Draco knows that the glass is quite fragile and that perhaps he should stop, but he needs
something desperately to keep his hands occupied. The waiting is unbearable.
Smack, goes the ball. Draco stares at the little hut on the far side of the window. Only a few hours
ago, it had been a bustle of activity, but now it was silent and unmoving against the sunset-colored
skyline. Smack. He wishes it would move, do something, anything. Who does Sirius Black think
he is, keeping them waiting like this? Smack. How long can one be expected to wait for
something so important?
So explain it once more, Harry says, leaning against the wall beside him.
Draco catches the ball and looks over at him. Third times the charm?
In my defense, its a damn convoluted plan.
It really isnt, Draco assures him. All things considered, its quite simple.
Youve rounded up all the pets in the school, Harry says, gesturing with one hand to the
window. And now youre not even doing anything with them.
We dont need to, Draco says. Not yet, anyway. Smack.
Why not? You told Professor Dumbledore you thought Sirius Black was posing as a pet!
No, I told Professor Dumbledore I wanted everyone to think I thought Sirius Black was posing as
a pet, he says. I helped spread the rumor myself. Its all anyones been talking about.
Harry frowns. I dont
Look, Sirius Black came here for revenge, Draco explains. I couldnt tell you for what, exactly
at a guess, something to do with his incarceration but I can tell you that revenge is a very
personal crime, so hes obviously after someone he knows. Smack.
Harry frowns. Like me.
No, not like you. You were just a infant, like everyone else in the Gryffindor Tower. Even the
seventh-years were still children when Sirius Black was a free man. Its hard to want screaming,
bloody vengeance on someone in nappies, wouldnt you agree?
Harry seems to concede the point, but still seems confused.

So so what, then? Hes got to be after someone in the Gryffindor Tower, but it cant be
anyone in the Gryffindor Tower?
Exactly, Draco says. Smack. Harrys confusion doesnt clear. Its got to be someone that no
one knows is in the Gryffindor Tower. Its got to be someone whos hiding in the Gryffindor
Tower. And Id be willing to bet that theyre also an unregistered animagus. Smack.
It takes Harry a moment, but when it hits, his eyes widen. You think the one hes after is posing
as a pet!
Draco allows himself a grin. Smack.
Thats Harry doesnt seem to know what thats.
So I spread the rumor that I remember seeing him shift into an animagus form, but that I cant
remember what animal it is. Head trauma. And in wild overreaction, the Headmaster, in
conjunction with Ministry officials, quarantine all the pets in the school to make sure none of them
are the escaped convict.
And you lure Black right into it, Harry finishes. Because whoever hes after will be in that
quarantine, and you get both of them at once. That Draco, thats brilliant.
I know, Draco says. Smack.
Harry stares at him wonderingly. You are incredible, he says, and the reverence in his voice
makes Draco suddenly feel a bit fluttery. Every time I think youve stopped surprising me
Draco swallows, though his mouth is dry. He tries not to meet Harrys eyes because hes not sure
what hed do if he did.
Draco, says a familiar voice suddenly, Harry.
Relieved at the interruption, because all of these feelings Harrys evoking now are far more than
Draco knows how to handle, he looks up. Professor Snape is standing in the threshold, his dark
hair tousled with wind and his dark eyes unusually bright.
We caught him.
Oh! Draco pockets the rubber ball. Hes restrained?
And disarmed, Professor Snape says. The headmaster has cleared you to interrogate him,
provided youre not alone with him.
Dont need to be alone with him, Draco says. He grabs his cloak from the floor and throws it
on. Lets go.
They follow him outside. Its a ramshackle little thing, weathered and dilapidated, about a hundred
yards away from the castle. The gardening tools usually stored within are in large crates stacked
outside, and the single window by its door is lit brilliant gold.
Draco, Harry, and Professor Snape duck through the half-broken door and inside. Cages are
stacked high against the walls, and the whole room is full of meowing, hooting, skittering,
croaking and in the far corner, Sirius Black is magically shackled to the wall, flanked by
Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Lupin, and Sprout. The expression on his face is
absolutely murderous.

Cheers, Draco says as he fingers the rubber ball in his pocket, hoping to defuse the tension.
Good evening, Mr. Malfoy, Professor Dumbledore says. I would make introductions, but as I
understand it, youve already met.
Ive had the displeasure, yes.
Youre no ray of sunshine, yourself, smartass, Sirius snarls.
Watch your mouth, Black, Professor Snape says sharply.
Sirius, Professor Lupin says, more gently, but with an obvious weariness, being combative will
only make the situation worse.
Remus, you bastard, youve got me in chains. You want me to smile about it?
Sirius he begins, sighing.
Youve been in chains for most of your adult life, Professor Snape interjects, surely a few more
hours wont kill you.
Fuck you, Snivellus.
Dont talk to Professor Snape like that! Harry says suddenly, moving out from behind Draco.
As Draco suspected he would, Harrys presence abruptly changes Siriuss disposition. The anger
falls from his face like water off glass, and he takes in a breath.
Harry, he whispers.
Hes twice the man youll ever be, he continues.
Harry, Professor Snape says, tone inscrutable.
That The sentence falls off, and he frowns. You dont know what youre talking about.
I know he never attacked a thirteen-year-old.
He fought for the man who killed your parents, Sirius says, suddenly angry, did you know
Of course I do, Harry scoffs. And I know hes not that person anymore.
Oh, isnt he.
Enough! Professor McGonagall says suddenly, and when Professor McGonagall calls for
silence, Draco has learned, the earth stops spinning lest it makes too much noise. This is not
Professor Snape is staring down at Harry in silence. After a moment, he reaches out and gently
strokes a hand across Harrys hair. He looks up at him and smiles, and the expression seems to
nearly undo Professor Snape where he stands.
Draco clears his throat. So now that weve got all the formalities out of the way, he says
blithely, lets get back to the matter at hand. The person youre after is in this room. Point them

Sirius narrows his eyes at Draco. The tension from the conversation hasnt left him, but it seems to
have settled enough to make him willing to cooperate.
A rat, Sirius says, slowly. I saw his picture on the cover of the Prophet, on the shoulder of one
of the Weasley boys.
Scabbers? Harry says suddenly, taken aback. Youre looking for Scabbers?
I thought the bastard was dead, Sirius snarls. When I saw him there knowing he was alive
while James and Lily
Lupin looks stricken, Draco notices, and faintly nauseous. Thats not he begins, voice wan,
but he loses the sentence. No. Hes dead. Peter thats not
I know, Sirius says. I know, Remus.
The explanation hits him all at once. Hes the one that betrayed James and Lily Potter to the Dark
Lord, Draco says. He set you up and faked his own murder.
I would have been able to prove it at the trial, Sirius says through his teeth. If Id been given
Youll be given one this time around, Professor Lupin vows. Headmaster Dumbledore will be
sure of it. So will I.
Professor Dumbledore inclines his head. A corrupt government can be corrupted in either
direction if the right strings are pulled by the right people, he says. At least this time around, you
have the testimony of several respected professors and of course Severus?
With a scowl, Professor Snape moves forward, reaching into the inner pocket of his robe and
producing a small vial full of clear liquid.
Sirius stares at it and him like hes just lowered the moon. Veritaserum, he says.
If you ask to be questioned under it, they cant legally refuse you, Professor Snape says,
bending down to slide the little bottle into Siriuss pocket.
Sirius doesnt seem to know what to say, though his mouth is open as if he wants to speak.
Youre welcome, Professor Snape snarls.
Because Ive moved on, he answers curtly, straightening and folding his hands behind his back.
But if you fracture my godsons skull again, all bets are off.
Sirius swallows, though not from nervousness. He stares up at Professor Snape with astonishment,
gratitude, wonder all of it far beyond verbal expression.
Well! Draco claps his hands. Shall we get that rat? Harry, you know what he looks like,
They spend a few minutes going through the stacks of rats in their cages until Harry finds
Scabbers, tucked away in an unremarkable corner. Draco lifts the cage and studies it a plainlooking specimen, if a bit ragged and ugly.
Minerva, says Professor Dumbledore, transfiguration is your area of expertise. Would you care

Minerva, says Professor Dumbledore, transfiguration is your area of expertise. Would you care
for the honors?
One simple spell and a very loud argument later, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew are escorted
outside and into the custody of the waiting dementors. Professor Dumbledore insists on going with
them back to the Ministry of Magic, just to be sure, he tells them.

5 June, 1994
my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
E. E. Cummings

He sent me a letter, Harry says once theyre a reasonable distance away from Honeydukes and
anyone who might overhear. Draco nearly asks who hes talking about before he works it out.
Harry nods. He used Professor Snapes veritaserum at his trial and they had to release him, he
says. He seems like he wants
Draco raises an eyebrow, taking a bite out of his Sugar Quill and remaining silent.
It seems like he wants to bond or something, Harry finishes, a bit lamely. Apparently, hes
legally my godfather.
Do you want to bond with him? Draco asks, hoping that he sounds neutral.
I dont know. No. Not really. He strikes me as kind of a prig.
Draco shrugs. In fairness, you caught him at a really bad time.
I guess.
Im sure he feels some compulsion to be in your life, Draco says. Your father was his best
friend. Maybe he sort of wants to you know.
Harry gives him a quizzical look. Wants to what?
Draco makes a dismissive hand gesture. Take up a sort of paternal role. I dont know. He is your
godfather. Maybe he feels responsible for taking care of you.
His reaction isnt immediate. Harry lifts his head and stares up at the sky clear and vibrant blue,
bright with sunlight, crisp and fragrant with the scent of nearing summer. Hogsmeade and,
really, all the Scottish countryside is beautiful this time of year.
I think I prefer Professor Snape, he says after a lengthy pause.
Well, obviously, Draco returns. No contest between them, really.
Harry grins. So have you had a good birthday?
Yes, thanks for asking, he answers with a mirroring grin.

Theres a moment of silence as they meander back toward the train station.
I got you a birthday present, Harry blurts out quite suddenly, shortly before his face contorts into
a look of pain, like he hadnt meant to say that.
Dracos brow knits. Uh, he says, okay. He wonders why he looks so nervous.
They slow to a stop. Harry reaches into his messenger bag and pulls it out. Its wrapped with
glossy silver paper and tied with a blue bow. Its about the size of a paperback novel, and Draco
can tell by the wear of the wrappings that its been fussed with and pawed at for months, though it
still looks nice enough.
I mean, I bought it originally for your Christmas present, but I didnt
Dracos not sure where Harrys going with this explanation, but the look of nervousness on his
face is doing uncomfortable, fluttery things to Dracos stomach. Its been months since Dracos
finally been able to name exactly what he feels for Harry, though he remains painfully unsure of
what to do about it. Thus far his tactics have included pretend like you dont want to kiss your
best friend. Its worked, more or less.
He hands Draco the present. Draco finishes off his Sugar Quill before he takes it.
When he pulls off the ribbon and lifts the lid, he is staring at a butterfly.
But no its not a butterfly, not quite. It certainly looks like a butterfly like a large, beautiful
monarch butterfly with delicate gossamer wings but upon closer inspection, Draco can see that
its just a facsimile of one, sitting neatly on a bed of silk.
Its a magical tattoo, Harry says. They come on and off, apparently. And they move some
when you touch them. Look.
Harry reaches out and draws a finger across one of the butterflys wings. It gives a strange, twodimensional flutter, and lifts a few inches off its box. Draco thinks of Valentines Day last year, of
the card full of butterflies, and his stomach knots.
Harry, Draco whispers, awestruck. Draco knows that only the very expensive, high-end tattoos
move and can be taken off. Coupled with the near-photorealistic artistry, Draco cannot imagine
how much this cost.
I know it might be a bit Harrys mouth twists. But I was thinking of your thing about
The butterfly effect, Draco supplies.
Yeah. I thought it might be a nice symbol.
Draco laughs, though its quite breathy. The butterfly isnt a symbol of chaos, he says.
No, Harry, its a symbol of
Draco looks up at him, and he has to physically bite his tongue to keep himself from finishing the

Draco looks up at him, and he has to physically bite his tongue to keep himself from finishing the
You, Draco wants to say but doesnt. Its a symbol of you, of the way you feel about me, of the
way I feel about you.
Harry is staring at him, looking just as nervous as Draco feels.
Theres a slight fluttering feeling on his wrist and Draco looks back down. The butterfly has
melted onto the skin of his forearm and is flying up towards his shoulder. Draco watches as it
disappears beneath the rolled-up sleeve of his shirt, then reappears beneath his collar, fluttering its
wings and settling down near his sternum.
Its beautiful, Draco says, because it is, and because he feels like his heart is going to rip itself to
pieces in his chest. He looks at Harry, and Harry is looking back at him.
Draco, Harry begins, I
Draco swallows. Harry is closer than he was a moment ago. And those are his fingertips he feels
ghosting across Dracos palm. And thats his breath on Dracos mouth.
And he is going to kiss him, Draco suddenly realizes.
His eyes are half-shut when Oy, Draco! Potter!
Dracos heart nearly leaps straight out of his throat. He whirls around and sees Anthony Goldstein
another Ravenclaw, one of Dracos friendlier acquaintances standing a few yards away and
Trains leaving! he calls.
We, Draco stammers, we should the th-the train
Yeah, Harry says. He sounds breathless. I mean yes. Come on.
They start toward the Hogsmeade station. Draco can feel the butterfly fluttering on his chest and
the ghost of the nearly-kiss on his mouth.

31 July, 1994
A friend loves you for your intelligence, a mistress for your charm, but your familys love is
Andr Maurois

When Harry returns through the kitchen door, his hair is windswept and he smells like summer
morning, and Draco is at once overcome with the desire to run his hands through his hair and kiss
his wind-stung face and stop it, Draco, stop it.
Good flight? Draco asks, hoping his voice is even.
Brilliant, he answers, leaning his Firebolt against the kitchen wall and sinking into the chair
across from him. Whod have thought Manchester could be so damn gorgeous?
Theres beauty everywhere if you know how to see it.
Harrys green eyes seem to sparkle. It makes Draco just a little bit dizzy.
Isnt there just, he says.
Draco clears his throat and looks back down at the book hed been reading.
Whats all this? Harry asks, gesturing to the stacks of medical books.
New pet project. Slightly insane, never-been-tested, wildly dangerous.
So standard fare for your sort of pet project, then, Harry says.
If youre referring to the incident with the teapot rocket, Draco returns, I would like to point
out that it did work.
You could have just let Professor Snape or Dumbledore destroy it, Harry reminds him, grinning
in a way that is uncomfortably close to completely irresistible. In fact, Im pretty sure I recall
them offering
By then I was already done with the blueprints. What was I supposed to do, not finish building a
rocket to the sun?
So the lesson here is that reckless and irresponsible science is fine so long as its finished.
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.
Harry grins again. Someone should have warned me before I became your friend.
Oh, Merlin, that grin. Draco is sure that grin will be the death of him.
Professor Snape enters before Draco has a chance to respond, and puts an affectionate hand on

Harrys head as he crosses to the stove to put the kettle on.

Morning flight? he guesses.
It was brilliant.
Good. Tea?
If youre putting it on.
The bag of loose tea flies out of the cupboard and lands next to Professor Snape on the counter as
he fusses with an aging teapot and mugs.
So you two have been unusually quiet about the fact that its my birthday.
Have we? Professor Snape says, sounding distracted.
A sort of conspiratorial silence, if I were to hazard a guess.
Im offended at the implication, Draco says.
If you must know, says Professor Snape, we purchased your gift several oh, honestly, Draco,
medical textbooks off the table.
Science doesnt stop for tea, Professor.
It does in England. Textbooks off the table.
Draco sighs, casts a few bookmark charms, and levitates them into a neat stack on the counter.
With the table now clear, Professor Snape sets down the mugs and sugar bowl, picking up where
hed left off in his explanation:
We purchased your gift several months ago. Wed planned on surprising you with it.
I hate surprises, Harry says, with a smile thats only slightly eager.
Professor Snape and Draco share a brief look. Draco shrugs. Professor Snape reaches into the
inner pocket of his robes and produces an envelope, which he hands to Harry.
Happy birthday, he says before turning back to the tea.
Harry opens the envelope and the card tucked inside. The tickets fall out, and Harry makes a small
sound of surprise. He makes another sound of surprise much louder and in a slightly higher
octave when he sees the tickets.
Are you kidding me.
I think he might like it, Draco observes.
The Quidditch World Cup?
Dracos father has a standing invitation to all World Cup games, Professor Snape explains. He
doesnt ever attend, however.
But, Draco interjects, as his heir, Im allowed to take up the offer.
Oh, my God.

Its a good match-up this year, Professor Snape remarks. Im very interested to see how Viktor
Krum plays.
I didnt know you even liked Quidditch! Harry says to Professor Snape. And Draco I know
you hate it, I wouldnt ask
I dont hate Quidditch, Draco says. I nothing Quidditch. I have no compunctions in putting up
with it for a few hours for my best friends birthday. He pauses, then adds, Though I may need
the rules explained to me.
And I played Quidditch, thank you very much, for four years.
You really? I had no idea! Which position?
Slytherin chaser, fourth through seventh years.
Are chasers the ones with the sticks? Draco asks as Professor Snape returns to the table and
pours the tea. Which is the one with the stick?
This is amazing, Harry says, beaming, sounding slightly breathless. You two are amazing.
Thank you so much.
Professor Snape offers one of his rare, uncharacteristic smiles, and he pushes a mug of tea into
Harrys hands. Happy birthday, he says.
Harry smiles like its the best day of his life, and Draco suddenly realizes that his gorgeous and
irresistible grin is nothing next to his smile.

25 August, 1994
Follow thy drum;
With mans blood paint the ground, gules, gules;
Religious canons, civil laws are cruel;
Then what should war be?
William Shakespeare

Heres what I dont get, though, Draco says, why do they have seekers?
Harry frowns and looks at him askance. What do you mean?
In the general structure of the game whats the point of them? Their role doesnt seem to make
a lot of sense.
I dont follow. Harry finishes off his popcorn and throws the emptied bucket into the nearby
bin. Theyre at the tail end of the slow-moving flood making its way out of the stadium, in no
hurry and under no illusion that theyll get out of the anti-Apparation zone anytime soon.
I understand the idea of chasers, of course, he says, they score the points. Keepers stop points
from being scored. And beaters both defend their teammates from and attack opposing teammates
with the bludgers. But then theres seekers. They dont really do anything, except hover around
waiting for this one little thing that almost assures an instantaneous victory. The role doesnt make
any sense.
Thats how teams win, Harry says. The game ends when the seeker catches the snitch.
But its a disproportionate amount of scoring power! It throws the entire game out of balance,
and it makes all the work the other players do virtually pointless!
Harry frowns, and Professor Snape says, I rather think youve wounded his pride as a seeker.
The game would make so much more sense if they got rid of that rubbish rule about the snitch
being worth 150 points, Draco continues heedlessly. It would speed up the game, for a start, and
put more pressure on the seekers to catch the snitch while their team is ahead and offer incentive to
distract the opposing seeker while their team is behind.
That Harry begins, but he cant seem to come up with a refutation.
You know what? I bet the entire role of the seeker came about because the poor bastard who
invented the game had an obnoxious kid brother who kept whining about wanting to play with
him, Draco says. And eventually, he just said, Okay, look, your job is to stay out of the way
and look for this tiny golden ball. No, no, its totally an important role because, uh, if you catch
it, you win the game!
Youre sort of ruining this for me, Draco, Harry says.

Its not my fault the game has logical inconsistencies.

Quidditch, Draco, like most things in the wizarding world, Professor Snape says, is the result
of atrophied tradition. It may have been logical and useful part of the game at some point, but it
was so long ago that no one remembers why or cares to change it.
I think you may have just summed up the vast majority of the problems with magical society and
government, Draco tells him with a grin. Atrophied tradition. I quite like that term.
Its part of a much larger problem, of course, he continues, breathing in night air as they finally,
finally, make it out of the crowded, claustrophobic stadium and into the moor. Wizard kind has a
storied history of
His words abruptly cut short, and Professor Snape seizes as if struck by a sudden and terrible pain.
Draco takes in a breath and puts a hand on his shoulder.
One of Professor Snapes hands reaches out and grabs at the opposite arm and he doubles
forward. Draco puts it together more quickly than he should like.
Whats wrong? Professor Snape? Harry grips his other shoulder. Are you Draco, should we
find a healer?
He doesnt need a healer, Draco says.
Theres a sudden scream then another, and another. Theyre coming from the far side of the
forest surrounding the arena, but Draco doesnt look toward their source he looks up at the sky,
instead, and his heart drops into his stomach.
What Harry breathes.
There in the sky, hovering like a spectre of death, is the Dark Mark, twisting and writhing against
a starry backdrop. The screams are becoming louder, more frequent.
Death Eaters. The word rips from Professor Snapes throat with all the ease of sandpaper.
Theyre close. Theyre killing.
We have to go, Draco says. His gut is tightening with fear, and despite his best efforts, he cant
look away from the terrible sigil in the sky.
I we cant, Harry says. Draco, we have to help them
Theres nothing we can do.
We can go in there and fight!
Draco can hardly believe his ears. He rips his eyes away from the Dark Mark and looks to Harry
to make sure he heard him right. But Harrys face is set and his green eyes are blazing. He did not
Were fourteen, Harry. Were hardly battle-ready.
Im recklessly stupid, youre outrageously clever between the two of us, we should be fine,
right? There are people in there who need help!
Dracos fists tighten at his sides. Its not that simple.

Dracos fists tighten at his sides. Its not that simple.

It is that simple! Harry insists.
Enough! Professor Snape says suddenly, sharply, and they both turn toward him. Hes still
gripping his arm, hunched slightly with pain, but hes pulling himself upright. Neither of you are
going anywhere near them. I will go in and start evacuating the campgrounds, you two go back to
Spinners End and alert the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Professor Draco says, his throat almost too tight with fear to let the word pass.
Now, he says, ripping his wand from his sleeve. I will not put you in harms way!
Harrys shoulders set. Professor, he says, I appreciate the sentiment, but look at the sky. Do
you honestly think you can keep protecting us?
Professor Snape stares down at him, his gaze intense, his hand clasped so tightly around his wand
that he can see it trembling.
I will never stop protecting you, he whispers. Now go.
Professor! Harry protests.
Draco swallows a hard lump in his throat and stuffs a hand into his pocket, producing the
emergency portkey to Spinners end, a small brass key in a terrycloth sack. With his other hand,
he reaches out and grabs Harry by the elbow.
I will not forgive you if you get yourself killed, Draco says to Professor Snape, and it would be
a very dark joke if it werent for the fact that he is deadly serious.
Then I suppose Ill have to survive, Professor Snape returns, with equal solemnity. Go.
Professor Harry says again, but Draco pulls out the portkey and warps away with him.

26 August, 1994
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.

Draco can no longer throw the black rubber ball with any accuracy because his hands refuse to
stop trembling. One slight shift in rotational force and all precision is lost. When it hits the wall
and flies off to the right to roll under an end-table, Draco forgoes trying to get it back and instead
buries his face in his hands. He cant focus. He cant think. What is the point of him if he cant
We shouldnt have left, Harry says from the other side of the sitting room, where hes been
pacing for the last several hours.
Shut up, Draco tells him, but theres no venom in his voice.
We should have stayed, Harry says. We should have gone with him.
No, we shouldnt have.
He could be dead.
Draco releases a breath and thoroughly banishes the thought. He does not like to have the idea of
death near any thought pertaining to Professor Snape.
He is a supremely competent wizard, Draco says, even though he knows that fact doesnt have
as much to do with whether or not hes dead as it should.
Harry doesnt respond, and Draco turns his bleary eyes toward the grandfather clock ticking softly
in the corner of the room. Half-one. Its been nearly three hours. This is taking too long.
So is that it? Harry asks. Theyre back? Hes back? My dreams, and now
We dont know that. Not for sure. His his supporters are rallying, but if he was really back,
Im sure wed know. Hed make it known.
We cant be sure of anything, Harry says softly. Isnt that the nature of a chaotic universe?
Draco falls face-first onto the leather loveseat. He cant believe Harrys using chaos against him in
an argument.
We need to be ready for this, Draco.
Draco doesnt say anything.
We cant be protected forever. I cant be protected forever. Theres a war coming. And if the past
is any indication, Im going to end up in the middle of it. And if I will, so will you. So will

everyone around me.

Draco can feel the butterfly twisting its way down his forearm before landing near his wrist.
Theres a rustle of fabric and the sound of soft footsteps. Harry is kneeling down on the floor next
to him when Draco lifts his head to look. He seems resigned, somehow, but not unhappy. His toogreen eyes are steady with purpose.
Im not frightened, Harry tells him.
You should be, Draco says, rolling over, propping himself up on his elbow.
I should be, he agrees, but Im not. I have Professor Snape. I have you.
Draco almost says you have no idea how much you have me but decides against it. Instead, he
says, The universe ought to be ashamed of itself for being so dreadfully unkind to you.
Harry smiles lopsidedly and all Draco wants to do is taste it and stop it, Draco, stop it. Its not so
bad, he says. Besides, I never had any delusions that life would be fair.
Its the human condition to struggle for justice and order in a universe that provides neither,
Draco says, and hes speaking softly, because Harry is so close that Draco can smell cedar and
I thought you preferred chaos, Harry says, also softly, and gooseflesh rises across Dracos skin
where Harrys breath whispers. Draco can feel his heart beating faster. Harry is so very close and
his hand shifts, fingertips brushing Dracos, and that impossibly light touch sets his skin afire.
Prefer? Its getting a little hard to focus, let alone put words into coherent sentences. I dont
know if prefer is the right word. I I appreciate chaos. Chaos protects me.
Has anyone ever told you that youre to young to be a nihilist?
Draco is dizzy and his heart is pounding. Hes cold despite the close heat of the sitting room,
shivering, aching. Kiss me, Draco wants to say, but doesnt, because Im either in mad for you or
about to have a heart attack.
Harrys fingers are twining into Dracos and hes leaning forward those last few inches when
theres a sudden rush from the hearth and they both whirl around.
Professor Snape!
It is, perhaps, the only thing in Dracos world at that moment more vital than kissing Harry, and
they both scramble to their feet and hurry to his side.
He is battered and weary, singed in places, but standing with his usual poise.
What happened? Harry asks.
How many Death Eaters were there? Did you see?
Was anyone hurt?
Were the aurors able to round them all up?
Boys, says Professor Snape wearily.

Youre not injured, are you? Harry asks, suddenly sounding alarmed, looking him over.
Ill put on some tea, Draco says, hurrying toward the kitchen.
Herbal or decaf, for Merlins sake, Professor Snape calls after him.
Come on, Professor, you look knackered, he can hear Harry say as Draco starts fussing with the
kettle, sit down.
By the time Draco has the kettle on and has filled an infuser with a nice Darjeeling white,
Professor Snape is sitting down at the table while Harry interrogates him incessantly about
whether or not hes in pain or if they should Floo for a mediwizard.
Im fine, he says, loud enough to get Harry to stop talking. I promise you I am fine.
Harry frowns and doesnt seem satisfied. He sinks into the chair across from him. What
happened? It was definitely an attack?
It became more of a riot, but yes, it was a deliberate attack by a band of Death Eaters.
Which ones? Draco asks, hoping he sounds casual.
Professor Snape glances at him, seeing right through it. They were masked, he says, then adds:
I didnt see him.
Draco stares down at his feet.
See who? Harry asks.
My father, Draco answers.
Harry gives a slight start, then looks down, as though feeling guilty for asking.
I couldnt be sure who was there, Professor Snape says, but Im more concerned with the
implications of the fact that it happened at all.
He cant be giving orders yet, can he? Draco asks.
Not directly, no. I think it likely he has a middleman.
Well, his last middleman was pretty shit, Harry remarks.
And he wont make that mistake twice, says Draco gravely. Hes out of his mind, but he is
absolutely not stupid. Quite the opposite. Draco thinks back to the diary, the fraction of the Dark
Lords conscious mind that speculated with him on quantum superposition.
Hes planning something, Professor Snape says. Hes gearing up for it.
To strike at something like the Quidditch World Cup is loud, Draco says. This was
psychological, not preparatory. It doesnt tell us anything about what his endgame is.
If we knew who he was acting through, we might be able to narrow things down, says
Professor Snape as he pushes a hand through his hair, but there were a lot of Death Eaters who
avoided conviction, and a lot of them were smart.
The kettle whistles and Draco turns to tend it.

So, to summarize, Harry says, we know he has a middleman, but we dont know who. We
know hes up to something, but we dont know what it is. We have no timeframe, and any
speculation would be about as effective as guessing.
Pretty much, Draco says as he sets the teapot down on the table and sits.
Well, cheers to having our shit together.
Professor Snape pours the tea without responding.

1 September, 1994
O love, O fire! once he drew
With one long kiss my whole soul through
My lips, as sunlight drinketh dew.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Youre not listening, are you?

Dracos eyes refocus and he turns away from the window.
No, he admits. Sorry.
Harry frowns, though he doesnt seem upset he looks more concerned than anything. Youve
been so quiet lately, he says.
Lot on my mind, Draco says dismissively, looking back out the window. The sun is sinking
behind the hills as they ripple past, washing the Scottish countryside with a golden-orange light.
You always have a lot on your mind, Harry says. Thats never shut you up before.
Draco leans his head against the compartment window without responding.
So I gather youre not excited about the Triwizard Tournament?
It takes Draco a moment to go back through the conversation to which hed only been half paying
I dont know, Draco says after a moment. I suppose. I mean, its bound to at least be
Im looking forward to it, Harry says, with an infectious brightness in his voice. It sounds
brilliant. Though I am slightly concerned apparently they discontinued it because of some kind
of massacre.
That was hundreds of years ago, Draco assures him. Im sure it will be much less deadly this
time around.
Dont you mean it wont be deadly?
Oh, no, Im sure it will be at least a little deadly. Wouldnt be the Triwizard Tournament if it
werent deadly.
Quidditch and its bludgers, chess pieces that kill each other, Exploding Snap cards that literally
explode, and now Triwizard Tournaments that kill, Harry says. What is it about magical society
and its obsession with bloodsport?

High stakes make it more interesting, Draco answers, and he arches off his seat in a long, slow,
languid stretch, head thrown back and arms stretched toward the ceiling. When he collapses back
down, its in time to see Harry staring at him, red-faced and looking a bit ruffled.
All right?
What. It doesnt quite sound like a question. Harry clears his throat and tries again. I mean
what? No. Fine.
Draco huffs a sigh and looks back out the window. He draws his knees up to his chest. He wants
to sink back into his own thoughts and yet, at the same time, he very much does not. His
thoughts are dark and terrible, but the world around him seems to be darkening just as swiftly,
becoming just as terrible.
A moment of silence passes. Are you sure youre all right? Harry asks.
Draco hesitates. Im frightened, he says.
Is that all?
Draco looks back at Harry, whos smiling. Draco melts, but only slightly, softening around the
edges like warmed chocolate.
Its okay to be frightened, Harry says.
Not for me, Draco returns. Im stupid when Im frightened.
Youre never stupid.
The butterfly, which had settled on his thigh, travels up his hip and onto his stomach in soft
fluttering movements. Draco hugs his legs a bit closer to his chest.
I am, though, Draco insists, when Im scared. Its a problem. My mind shuts down and I cant
think. Whats the point of me if Im stupid?
Harry frowns. Dont say that. Theres more to you than your brain.
But it is rather my most useful attribute, Draco says. And things the way they are, I need to
stay sharp. I cant afford to be frightened because I cant afford to be stupid. It could get me killed.
It could get you killed.
And I cant talk myself out of this fear, he continues, screwing his eyes shut. I can see it all like
a map in my head, and the odds are terrifying. Everything that could be lost, both in war and in
Theres a hand on his skin, near the junction between his neck and shoulder, and Draco opens his
eyes and looks across at him, with his heart suddenly in his throat and all his words forgotten.
I wont let anything happen to you, Harry says. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you
wont let anything happen to me. So between the two of us, we should be immortal.
Harrys thumb is on his jaw, sweeping in a slow, broad arc toward his lower lip. It takes every
ounce of Dracos willpower to suppress a shiver.

ounce of Dracos willpower to suppress a shiver.

Thats tautological, Draco says. Or maybe its cyclical. Draco isnt sure. Apparently hes just as
stupid when he wants to kiss Harry as he is when hes frightened. It might end up being a
problem, since Draco spends most of his time wanting to kiss Harry these days.
His thumb is on Dracos lip, and Draco hopes Harry doesnt notice the way he leans reactively
into the touch. He feels the now-familiar closeness, the heat of his body nearing to Dracos, the
accelerating thump of his heartbeat in his throat. There are three unbearable inches between them,
three inches and fifty miles, and it feels like stars will burn up and galaxies will rip themselves
apart before they finish that mutual movement toward each other, steadily but infinitely like
Xenos paradox, and Dracos eyes fall half-shut, and theres the barest brush of heat on Dracos
mouth as all the infinities collapse upon each other
The compartment door opens with a clatter and they both spring backward. Draco smacks his
shoulder into the wall and bites back a yelp of pain.
Oy, says Anthony Goldstein, the absolutely hateful kiss-preventing bastard who is 0 for 2, big
Exploding Snap tournament going on between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff down two train cars.
Draco, cant you count cards?
Draco wants to yell at him for having the worst timing in the world, but he doesnt. Instead he
says, What?
Come on, mate, he says, your house needs you.
Right. I mean yes. Okay.
He looks at Harry, who is straightening his tie.
Right, Draco says again.

26 September, 1994
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.
Mahatma Gandhi

Harry knocks into Dracos shoulder lightly, and when Draco looks back, Harry is grinning at him
in that very particular way that makes Draco want to tangle his fingers in his hair and kiss him
breathless and stop it, Draco, for Merlins sake.
Hi, he says, with a returned smile. Thursdays were double Defense Against the Dark Arts with
Gryffindor, and it was as a consequence Dracos new favorite class. In general, most of the
curriculum felt sort of useless, but at least when he had doubles with Gryffindor he had someone
to talk to and pretend to not stare at.
Were still doing Unforgivables, arent we? Harry asks.
I think so. Draco recalls hearing Professor Moody say something about the Imperius curse last
week, though he had only been paying half-attention.
I quite like Moody, Harry says as they round the corner leading to the Defense Against the Dark
Arts classroom. Shame about Lupin, though.
It had been a rather well-timed act of legislation that forbade werewolves from Ministry employ,
and Draco is not entirely convinced that it was a coincidence, but he had never said so. Truth
without evidence is as good as a lie.
But he doesnt disagree with Harrys assessment. All things considered, he does like Moody.
Sure, the man is borderline-paranoid and probably out of his mind, but if that was any sort of
reason not to like someone, Draco would never have gotten as close to Professor Snape as he had.
It had taken him a while to get used to the random shouting and loud calls for CONSTANT
VIGILANCE, however.
Class had nearly started by the time they make it to their seats. Professor Moody, dark and strange
and gnarled, comes shuffling up the aisle made by the two columns of desks.
The Imperius curse, he begins without preamble, is arguably the worst of the three
Unforgivables. Death is brief and pain may be overcome, but control
He trails off, letting the unspoken words send shivers through the students.
Its a bloody damn difficult spell to cast, and nearly impossible to shake off, he continues,
coming to a stop beside the podium at the front of the classroom. And thats exactly why were
going to practice it today.
But but you said its illegal, Professor, says a Gryffindor behind Draco, You said to use it

against another human was

Dumbledore wants you taught what it feels like. If youd rather learn the hard way when
someones putting it on you so they can control you completely fine by me. Youre excused. Off
you go.
The Gryffindor girl mutters something bashfully and Draco takes a moment to consider if he likes
or hates Professor Moodys flair for the dramatic.
The key to shaking off an Imperius curse is primarily in mental fortitude. Force of will. And, to a
certain extent, cognizance intellectual clarity and self-awareness. There have been some studies
showing that those of high intelligence have less difficulty resisting an Imperius curse
Moodys magical eye loops upward toward the ceiling before landing squarely on Draco.
Mr. Malfoy.
Draco straightens in his seat.
Rumor has it that youre a match for anyone in this castle. A certifiable genius.
I dislike the term, Professor, Draco says.
Do you, indeed? Whys that?
Draco hesitates. Because, as a category, genius implies the existence of not genius, he says.
Its stratifying. Just another unnecessary division that creates an other.
Harry is looking at him strangely. Granted, everyone in the room is looking at him strangely, but
he feels Harrys eyes most of all.
Professor Moodys face is tugged into a peculiar, lopsided smirk.
An experiment! he says loudly, making several students who are still not used to his random
bouts of shouting jump in their seats. Testing the hypothesis that high intelligence provides
resistance to the effects of the Imperius curse. Mr. Malfoy, to the front, if you please!
Draco grits his teeth and has a feeling this will not end well. He pushes himself to his feet and
moves past Harry, into and down the aisle that leads to the front of the room.
And because every good experiment needs a control group, we need a subject of average
intelligence for the sake of comparison. Mr. Weasley, I dont think its possible to get much more
profoundly average than you.
Draco turns in time to see Weasleys expression falling into a furious, smoldering frown. Draco
does his very best to keep his face straight as he rises and storms up to the front of the class.
Remember, both of you fortitude, clarity, cognizance. Understand and resist. All else being
equal, lets see how you fare.
Professor Moody rounds on Weasley first, wand pointed out. Imperio.
Almost before the word leaves his mouth, Weasleys posture relaxes as though hes under
sedation. Scarcely ten seconds pass before hes leaping up onto Professor Moodys desk and
doing an elaborate kick-flip back onto the ground a feat of acrobatics that Draco is certain he
would not otherwise be capable of without the assistance of the curse.

A few people giggle hesitantly at the display, but they are for the most part silent.
When Professor Moody dispels the curse, Weasley blinks out into the class dazedly, looking as
though he cant quite remember what happened.
Fortitude, clarity, and cognizance, Professor Moody says with some measure of well-concealed
disdain. Still, one keeps ones expectations low. Mr. Malfoy?
Draco takes in a breath and nods. He turns to face Professor Moody.
His wand is pointed at Dracos face a moment later. Imperio.
At once, Draco does not like the sensation. It is calming and sleepy, but not in a natural way. It
makes him feel as though hes under the effects of chloroform, an uneasy and heavy chemical
Jump onto the desk, a voice says to him softly, and Draco knows that the overwhelming desire to
jump is entirely manufactured.
He does not jump on the desk. He does not want to. That is obvious, just as obvious as the fact
that he does want to.
The pain comes then, crushing and intense, and Draco makes a soft sound of agony that starts at
the back of his throat and hisses out through his teeth.
Jump onto the desk, the voice says again, and Draco does and does not want to jump onto the
desk in equal measure, and all he has to hold onto is the understanding that one desire is false.
He does not jump onto the desk.
The pain redoubles and Draco collapses onto his knees. The world around him distorts, warps,
tunnels, and Draco does want to jump onto the desk, moreso than he wants to not jump onto the
desk, even if the desire is unnatural.
He does not jump onto the desk. He will not jump onto the desk.
Youre hurting him, someone says, and it sounds like Harry.
You see that? booms Professor Moodys voice through the terrible fog of pain. That is mental
fortitude! That is cognizance! Im going to intensify the magic, Mr. Malfoy, brace yourself!
JUMP ONTO THE DESK OR YOU WILL DIE, the voice roars, and with a strangled shout of
pain at his resistance, Draco believes it. Draco will die if he does not jump on the desk. Draco is
Draco does not jump onto the desk, he will not, he must not.
The pain is unbearable, so intense that he no longer knows that its worth it to fight. Surely it
would be easier to submit to failure than endure this torment. He is not sure what it is that keeps
him fighting.
But fight he does. Draco does not jump, he will not, he must not, he wants to, he needs to, he will
die without jumping, he is dying.

Stop it! Hes in pain! Take it off him!

Theres an audible crack of magic around him and the pain vanishes, along with Dracos desire to
jump onto the desk. He collapses forward onto the floor.
Damn good job, Mr. Malfoy! That was bloody impressive! Were you lot paying attention? First
time under the curse and he snaps it!
Draco wills his hands to stop shaking. The echoes of the pain are still thrumming in his muscles,
up and down his spine, at the base of his skull. He grabs hold of the nearby desk and uses it to
haul himself to his feet, swaying and trembling from exertion.
Fifteen points to Ravenclaw! Damn good job, Mr. Malfoy, damn good job!
Draco feels like he needs a strong cup of tea and a sit-down. He needs a nice fire and a
comfortable armchair and something interesting to think about so he can get his mind off the most
intense and dreadful pain hes ever felt in his life. He staggers down the aisle back toward his
desk, and Harry stands up to help him back into his chair.
In the periphery of his awareness he can hear Professor Moody prattling on about cognizance and
fortitude, but softly in his ear he hears Harrys gentle, concerned voice:
Are you okay? he asks, and Draco takes in a breath.
Ill live, he says.
Harry grips his hand like its the most intuitive and obvious gesture in the world. Draco lifts his
eyes and looks at him, and that gorgeous smile of his almost has him forgetting the pain.
Draco grips Harrys hand back.

31 October, 1994
The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination
to overcome bad luck.
Channing Pollock

Ever since Draco was very small, hes been able to put mind over matter. Once when he was
eight, he locked himself up in his bedroom with a spelled textbook and refused food, sleep, and
personal hygiene for three full days until he was passably fluent in French. It has never been a
concentrated effort of will quite the opposite. Ruthless single-mindedness came as naturally to
him as his curiosity. He has always put precedence, conscious or otherwise, on important tasks,
even when it means fasting and sleep deprivation.
But as he stands outside the entrance to the headmasters office, he is undone. His heart is
stuttering, his hands are clammy, he cannot focus. Its not as though there isnt plenty to think
about. Harrys name coming out of the Goblet of Fire raises many alarming questions that offer a
lot to consider, but Draco cant see past the single, obvious, aggressive fact that this is clearly has
something to do with Voldemort.
Because how could it not? There is no other explanation for all of the facts that comes anywhere
close to logical.
He hears the sound of stone sliding on stone and whirls. Karkaroff and Professor Moody exit,
followed by Madame Maxine, who ducks slightly beneath the arch. They all seem to be varying
shades of unhappy with whatever happened.
Finally, taking up the rear is Harry, looking far more composed than he has any right to be.
Howd it go? Draco asks at once, which gets him a few dirty looks from the others present.
Harry gives his head a jerk in the direction of the adjoining hallway. They go in the opposite
direction from the others into the darkened corridor. Harry stops beside a window that overlooks
the Quidditch Pitch, bracing both hands on the sill.
Theres nothing for it, he says. The Goblets choice is a magically binding contract.
Draco knows that, of course. That doesnt make it any less pleasant to be reminded.
I have to compete, he continues.
Harry, Draco says.
I know, Harry interjects. I mean, it doesnt take a genius to work it out.
Draco folds his arms around himself and stares at his feet.
You should have seen Professor Snape in there, Harry says, vaguely, fondly, with the traces of

a grin on his face. Spitting mad. I thought he was going to start slinging hexes at anyone who
That you put your own name in, Draco finishes, and Harry sighs. Idiots, all of them. You had
no motivation. They think your celebrity gives them some sort of license to prejudge you.
Draco starts gnawing at his thumb nail. Harry watches silently.
Do you remember what we talked about last summer? Harry asks.
Draco looks up at him.
About being ready?
I remember, Draco says. He mostly remembers the feel of Harrys breath on his jaw and how
very close they were, granted, but he remembers what they said, too.
This is a part of that.
Draco goes back to gnawing at his thumb nail. Harry sighs, closes the distance between them, and
takes him by the wrist. The butterfly, which had settled somewhere near Dracos ankle, spirals up
his calf and thigh at the touch. He looks up at Harry.
They wont kill me, Harry says.
I dont think thats the goal.
Harry raises his eyebrows. No?
Throw you into the Triwizard Tournament and expect you to die? Draco shakes his head. Not
a good plan. It relies too much on entropy. Were not dealing with someone whod just toss you
into danger and hope for the best. Theres something specific in this somewhere. I just I dont
I cant
Its all right, Harry says.
Its not all right, Draco hisses, yanking his wrist from Harrys grasp. Its happening again. Im
scared and Im stupid. I cant stop thinking about the varied and numerous ways you could be
ripped to shreds, and it scares the hell out of me.
Draco, Harry says, softly.
And I cant help but feel like if I could just detach myself from all this fucking fear, if I could just
see it objectively, maybe I could be useful about everything maybe I could come up with some
answers, see some vital clue that Im missing, work it out but I cant, because Im just too
fucking scared
And then both of Harrys hands are on Dracos face and Draco feels like hes being pulled under
by a riptide, suddenly and brutally, and its so abrupt that he is dizzy. He looks up at Harry and,
oh, Merlin, hes so close, thats his hip against Dracos hip, his knee against Dracos knee, and the
electricity that always comes as a product of proximity is stronger than ever, surging in his veins
and setting him on fire. His entire body is thrumming in response to the closeness, his blood is
pounding, and Draco is suddenly aware of the fact that this is what physical attraction feels like.
Its awful, and also incredible. Draco wants it to stop at once, and to feel it for the rest of his life.

Draco is noticing all the little details of Harrys face, the slope of his jaw, the near-invisible
freckling on his nose and cheeks, the impossible greenness of his eyes. Merlin, when did Harry
get so gorgeous? Had he always been this handsome? Had Draco just not noticed? When was the
last time Draco didnt notice something?
Ill be okay, Harry says, and it takes Draco a moment to remember what hes talking about.
Hed already left the conversation behind and has trouble coming up with a response.
I Draco attempts, but the thought falters and dies. The butterfly is fluttering near the junction
of his hip and pelvis.
Im not a terrible wizard, Harry continues. And I know its easy to forget when Im hanging
around you all the time, but Im also pretty smart.
Youre smart, is just about all Draco can manage. Polysyllabic words are a bit beyond him
when Harrys hands are still on his face.
You seem flustered, Harry says, more softly, lowly, and Draco shivers.
The tip of Harrys nose is brushing against Dracos cheek and his mind does a full shutdown. His
fingers are curving around the crux of his jaw, his stomach is pressing into Dracos, he is so close
that if Draco lifts his chin the barest fraction, they will
get killed, Albus!
Draco nearly screams in frustration as they both pull away. They cannot keep doing this. Draco
will go mad.
I know, Severus.
Professors Snape and Dumbledore are standing several yards away. Professor Snape is tight with
frustration; Professor Dumbledore is loose and weak with weariness.
Has all sanity left Hogwarts?
Years ago, my friend, Professor Dumbledore sighs. Years ago.
Professor Snape huffs and angry sigh and turns on a heel, stalking down the corridor.
Harry, he says when hes close enough, come with me. We need to speak at more length about
what you should expect from this godforsaken tournament.
I ah yes, Professor.
And Draco, he continues, Ill see you for our weekly tea tomorrow.
And then, with only a last glance between them, they vanish down the hallway, Professor Snape
muttering angrily and Harry struggling to keep apace.
But the moment lingers behind, on his lips, in his blood, and Draco is still dizzy. He leans against
the wall and puts one hand over his chest, willing away the far-too-distracting memories of Harry
and his skin, his smell, his fingers on his jaw, his body pressed against his own, the crushing,
intense, terrible-wonderful feeling of attraction.

22 November, 1994
Lips go dry and eyes grow wet
Waiting to be warmly met.
Keep them not in waiting yet;
Kisses kept are wasted.
Edmund Vance Cooke

There you are, says Harry, and it catches Draco so off-guard that he nearly destroys eight hours
worth of progress by knocking it onto the floor of the dormitory. He spins in his seat.
At least give us some warning the next time you drop off the face of the earth, he says, draping
his invisibility cloak over one arm.
Draco huffs an indignant sigh. I did not drop off the face of the earth. He turns back around. He
doesnt bother asking why Harrys in the Ravenclaw dormitories its not the first time hed
snuck into the tower, and he doubted it would be the last. Draco had done his own share of
breaking into the Gryffindor Tower, and privately counts it as more impressive, since hed never
had the benefit of invisibility in doing so.
Well, you werent at lunch or dinner.
Who needs food? Food is boring. Im nearly done.
Harry heads over to his desk and peers over his shoulder. Is this the whatever dangerous medical
thing you were working on?
No, that was put on hold. This is much more useful, especially with the First Task coming up.
Harry seems surprised. You built this for me?
Well, since I cant be in there with you, I figure this is the next best thing. Im thinking of calling
it a panic button.
A panic button?
Draco holds it up to the light. It ended up being the approximate size and dimensions of a lighter,
sleek and shiny silver with a cap on one end. Its either that or the oh, shit button, and who
knows when we might bring it up in polite company.
Harry sits down on the edge of Dracos bed near the desk. Whats it do?
A combination of things. Hit this button here and it warps you forward ten feet in a random
direction to avoid anything unpleasant that might be hurtling toward you. Ive adjusted it to avoid
inanimate objects so you wont end up with one leg stuck in a wall or anything.

Harry smirks and Draco does his very best not to let himself get distracted by it.
This second button creates a highly potent magical shield, Draco continues. Its holds at up to
10,000 Newtons of force and 800 degrees Kelvin, though it does need about an hour to recharge
after each use.
Thatll be useful, Harry says.
And finally, this last button is an emergency portkey. At the moment its bound to Professor
Snapes office, but it can be altered like any portkey. Not useful for the Triwizard Tournament,
maybe, but what sort of panic button doesnt have a portkey somewhere safe, right?
Not any panic button Ive ever heard of, says Harry. Granted, Ive never heard of any panic
buttons before today, but technically correct is the best kind of correct.
Youre not allowed anything but your wand, of course, but you should be able to summon it. Ill
be watching, and Ill have it on me, so it wont have far to travel.
May I?
Draco rises and heads over to where Harrys sitting on his bed. He hands it to him, and Harry
turns the device over in his hands carefully.
I suppose telling you what a genius you are wouldnt be very productive, Harry says, looking
up at him.
Draco rolls his eyes.
This is really impressive, Draco, he says. This is some seriously advanced magic. And it will
be bloody useful against a dragon.
Frowning, Draco says, Dragon?
Thats what I came here to tell you, Harry says. The First Task is dragons. I was out visiting
Hagrid and I saw them.
Draco takes in a breath and lets it out slowly. Dragons, he says. Damn, theyre really not
pulling any punches.
Professor Snape has been helping me brush up on defensive magic, which has helped loads, and
now I have this, which will help loads, but
But on the other hand, dragons.
Yeah, Harry sighs. Dont suppose youve got any tips.
A few, he replies. Ill grab some books and meet you after breakfast tomorrow.
Harry nods and looks back down at the panic button again. His thumb swipes idly across the
polished silver.
Are you frightened? Draco asks without really meaning to, and Harry looks up.
Of dragons?
Of everything.

Harrys response is not immediate. Im nervous, I guess, he says.

You could die. People have before, in these games.
I wouldnt dare, Harry says, grinning lopsidedly up at Draco, and Draco feels his edges start to
melt at the sight of it. If I had the audacity to die, youd resurrect me just so you could murder me
Thats your plan? Draco asks, his voice a bit thicker than hed intended. Survive by sheer force
of stubbornness?
Im a Gryffindor, Harry says with a shrug, instead of giving Draco a proper answer. Draco is
half tempted to kick him in the knee, but theres an uncomfortable vulnerability and fragility that
grows stronger as the conversation progresses.
Dont die, Draco says, rather with more emotion than he probably should have allowed. It
makes Harry lift his eyes and frown, gently, understandingly.
Ill be okay. He reaches out and takes both of Dracos hands in his own. Draco is suddenly
aware of how close they are, and he swallows. They both stare down at their hands in silence for
several long seconds.
Harry, Draco begins, and Harry looks back up, have I these past few months all these
moments have I been imagining things?
Harry swallows, though he remains otherwise composed. You havent been imagining things,
he says.
Draco was not and had never been the sort of person to see anything less than exactly what was,
of course, but hearing Harry say it out loud made his stomach tie in knots all the same. The
butterfly, which had been resting on his back, flutters around to his chest.
So all those instances where
Yeah, Harry says. I feel like Ive been trying to kiss you for the better part of a year.
There is an expanding pressure in Dracos chest that is hot and roiling and addictive. Hearing it
admitted, out in the open, brings with it the most purely serene and uncomplicated joy that Draco
has yet experienced. He takes in a slow breath.
For what its worth, Draco says, I had always intended to kiss you back.
Silence stretches between them. Harry, still sitting on the edge of Dracos bed, reaches one hand
up and slips it around the back of Dracos neck, fingers carding into his hair.
Kiss me now, then, he mutters.
His heart is no longer beating but thrumming in his chest, like a hummingbird, and Draco
swallows, ducks his head as Harry lifts his chin
Am I interrupting something?
Dracos not sure who it is but he is tempted to kill them on principle. He looks over his shoulder.
Luna, another of Dracos friendlier acquaintances, is standing in the doorway, her expression
halfway between unfocused and devious.

This is the boys dormitory, Luna, Draco snaps.

Its also the Ravenclaw Tower, she says with a vague, aimless giggle, and Harry clears his
What do you want? Draco asks, because he would very much like to get back to the kissing,
especially now that he knows it is explicitly and thoroughly wanted by both parties involved.
Anthony wants me to ask you to help him translate something into French, she says. Hes
trying to write a love letter to Fleur Delacour and knows you speak the language.
Tell him and its very important to use this exact phrasing to go fuck himself.
He thought you might say that, and gave me leave to bribe you with that first edition copy of
Merlins Lex Arcana from his fathers shop you wanted.
The worst thing about being a Ravenclaw, in Dracos opinion, is the fact that all your housemates
are just smart enough to make you do exactly what they want, even when its wildly inconvenient.
Draco had nearly licked the glass when he found that book in Goldsteins Goods and Gifts in
Hogsmeade (where had they even found a first edition Merlin in that kind of condition?), and the
sneaky bastard must have noticed.
Damn it.
And why couldnt he come up here himself and ask me? At least that way Draco could have
kicked him to make a point.
The same reason he wants your help, she answers. Fleur Delacour.
Draco groans. Veela.
Its all right, Harry says. I mean, I probably shouldnt hang about, anyway dont want too
many people knowing Im here.
Im sorry, Draco says, because he is.
Harry smirks. All things considered, he says, I dont mind so much.
And despite himself, Draco is biting down on his grin. See you later?
Definitely, Harry replies, grinning right back.
You boys are adorable, Luna decides.

24 November, 1994
The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.
Paul Bryant

Youre going to wear a hole in the sleeve of your robe if you keep fussing with it, Professor
Snape says, and Draco is so tightly-strung that he nearly snaps something very unkind.
Im tense, he says instead through gritted teeth.
Clearly, Professor Snape returns. Just dont take it out on your robe.
It has not been a good day.
The Triwizard Tournament had opened up the heavens in the skies over Hogwarts, and the arena
built for the First Task had to be magically expanded to accommodate everyone who came out in
droves to see it.
The media had taken a keen interest it. Reporters from all the major periodicals were in
attendance, if Lunas expertise was to be believed, and apparently several front page articles had
already been written about the champions.
Draco hasnt read them, though hes been told theyre quite sensational, particularly the ones
concerning Harry. He tells himself he doesnt care, but has a sneaking suspicion that hes lying to
himself. Either way, he never lets himself think about it too much.
Harry, of course, was selected to go last. Krum and Diggory and Delacour had all performed at
varying degrees of passable, but Draco could barely focus on them. He cant focus on anything
until the tent flap opens and Harry steps out into the sunlight.
Dracos breath catches in his throat. Beside him, Professor Snape places a reassuring hand on his
I have to But Draco doesnt bother finishing the sentence. He rises from his seat, ignoring
Professor Snapes small sound of protest, and races down the steps of the coliseum-style arena set
up for the event.
He stops when he comes to the front bulwark and braces both hands on the railing, wind and
sunlight making him squint. Harry looks damn handsome in his fitted, padded leathers, his hair
combed back and his wand in one hand. Draco swallows what feels like his entire heart back
down and produces the panic button from his pocket, setting it down on the railing.
The Hungarian Horntail is a particularly vicious specimen, all gleaming black scales and dreadful
horns. Draco cannot imagine being in Harrys place right now, staring down ten tons of dragon
with nothing but wand and wit.
The panic button rattles on the wood, then zips away. It moves almost invisibly through the air

and slaps into Harrys hand, which is still at his side. No one seems to notice.
Harry looks over at him and winks.
The cocky bastard winks.
Draco shoots him what he hopes is a vicious scowl, but knowing his luck, he probably looks
stupidly heartsick. Whatever his expression, it makes Harry smirk, palm the panic button in one
hand, and raise his wand with the other.
If Draco had had it his way, theyd have spent at least two weeks preparing via an entire dragonbased curriculum in the end, of course, theyd only had two days. Draco had packed as much
information in as he could, but when Harry casts his first spell, it suddenly feels like it was not
The strategy revolves around a simple mirroring spell, with dozens of Harry-shaped illusions
darting off in different directions. Dragons are quick and brutal and powerful, but their sensory
abilities are only about as good as a humans, and as Draco suspected it might, multiple images of
Harry confuse it.
The fight is terrifying. The dragon swipes its claws, snaps its teeth, breathes dreadful funnels of
flame, and the flimsy magical illusions evaporate one by one like drops of water on hot metal.
Harry is fast, ducking under massive sweeps of the beasts tail, dodging its talons, and making a
fast beeline for the nest with the golden egg.
Draco stares, transfixed, at the midway point between terrified, impressed, and turned-on. Harry is
doing astonishingly well, and as he scoops up the golden egg with one hand, the dragon turns its
massive black head and
Harry! Draco cries.
Harry whirls just as the dragon opens its mouth and takes in a deep breath. The flames come out in
a cone so bright that Dracos eyes sting.
For several terrible seconds, Draco cant see him until, quite suddenly, he can, standing precisely
where he was, under a broad arc of protective magic. The panic button, Draco realizes, has held
up against dragonfire.
Harry casts a confundus charm strong enough to send the beast staggering before leaping off the
nest and ducking between its legs and under its body, then out the other side.
The arena is on its feet, cheering and stomping and chanting his name.
Draco is dizzy. The dragon tamers leap in the moment Harry makes it back to the safe zone, and
from the crowd behind him, Draco can hear the low chanting Potter! Potter! Potter!
Without quite knowing what hes doing, Draco takes off in a run, out of the arena stands, down
through the labyrinth of tents and past the officials milling around. He pushes his way out to the
edge of the safety zone, where Harry is staring out in silent astonishment at the crowd. He turns
when he sees
Draco is not interested in talking. He comes at Harry like a force of nature, grabs him by the front
of his padded leathers, and kisses him with every ounce of strength he has, in front of God and

At once, Harry drops the golden egg under his arm and grabs Draco around the waist, matching
the intensity and wanting in equal measure.
It is not so much as a kiss as it is a head rush. Its a mind-bending, earth-shattering, life-changing
euphoria of a kiss, clumsy and passionate and insane and perfect. It is dizzying and electrifying
and ten times more wonderful than a first kiss has any right to be.
Harry tastes like mint and pumpkin juice, and his lips are pleasantly rough, chapped as they press
firmly, desperately into Dracos. Harrys hands slide up his back as Dracos arms move around
Harrys neck and at that moment there is absolutely nothing else that exists in the universe except
Harry, pressed into him, kissing him like his life depends on it, and maybe it does.
When Draco pulls away its only because he needs to breathe. Harry is staring down at him.
Wow, he says breathlessly.
Draco kisses him again.

18 December, 1994
There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected for which one has
refused to prepare.
Mary Renault

A CHAMPIONS QUEER REWARD, runs the headline, just above the large picture of Harry and
Draco tangled in each other at the edge of the arena. Its a good photo, Draco notices idly, with a
splendid angle that captures just the right moment of that incredible kiss, when Draco is sliding his
arms around Harrys neck.
And Rita Skeeter must be very proud of the double entendre in the headline.
You shouldnt read that dreck, it will rot your brain.
Draco looks away from the paper just as Harry sinks into the chair next to him. Hes wearing that
delightful little lopsided smile of his, and Draco grins without meaning to.
You shouldnt encourage more of it, Draco counters. Harry settles in next to him, just a little bit
closer than could be considered friendly, which Draco is more than fine with.
Oh, shouldnt I?
You more than anyone have an understanding of how these things go, Draco says. Keep
sitting this close and grinning like that and people will talk.
People do little else, Harry remarks, and Draco laughs. Do you want to go to the Yule Ball
with me?
Draco stops laughing quite abruptly and stares at him in astonished silence.
I mean, theyve done everything but actually tell me that Im required to bring a date, he
continues. I know youre not one for social gatherings, but I thought
Harrys assessment is, Draco thinks, a bit generous. Draco avoids most popular social events with
the same ardour and enthusiasm with which he avoids communicable disease. If someone had told
him two weeks ago that he would be asked to attend the Yule Ball, he would have called them a
And if that same hypothetical someone had implied that Draco would be feeling this giddy about
it, he would have kicked them in the knee.
I he begins, but hes not sure where that sentence would go, so he starts over: Is that are
we allowed? To go together, I mean.
Harry wets his lips. I wasnt sure, actually, he admits. I know that wizarding society is a bit
well, behind the times and everything, so I went to ask Professor Dumbledore. He said its fine.

He was pretty adamant about it, actually. Said that if anyone gave us problems with it, that we
could come to him.
Dracos opinion of Dumbledore has always been a bit on the unfavorable side, but that does earn
him a point in his favor.
There might it could cause some trouble, Draco says, carefully. Generally speaking.
I know, Harry replies. Ive known that for a while. I just cant make myself care. Trust me,
Ive tried.
Draco is suddenly aware of the fact that theyre no longer just talking about the Yule Ball. After a
moment, he smiles.
Draco, says Professor Snape, who must have approached the Ravenclaw table at some point but
who Draco hadnt even noticed. When Draco looks up at him, he seems unusually dour-faced,
and his hands are clasped behind his back in that way he only does when hes got bad news. We
need to talk.
I He looks between Harry and Professor Snape. All right.
Lets go to my office.
Draco nods and rises, but Harry grabs his sleeve before he can move.
Wait, Harry says, so so, whats your answer? Do you want to go?
He spares another glance back at Professor Snape, whos clearly impatient, and then back down at
Harry, who seems just a little bit apprehensive though hes doing his best to act otherwise. Draco
dares a smile.
Absolutely, he says, then he bends down and kisses him, just once, just lightly, on the mouth,
and when he pulls back, Harrys beaming.
Draco heads around the Ravenclaw table and hurries to catch up with Professor Snape, whos
already halfway out of the Great Hall.
As they walk, Draco spares him a sideways glance. Hes looking ahead, but he doesnt seem to be
actually seeing anything. Hes lost in his own thoughts.
No comments? Draco asks. No passing remarks?
Professor Snape is jerked out of his own head and looks back at him. What?
About Harry and I, he continues. Youve been unusually silent about the whole thing.
Was I meant to be surprised? he returns. Im fairly sure I saw this coming before either of you
two did.
Draco opens his mouth to come back at him with a more creative wording of shut up, no you
didnt before realizing that he probably did.
They make it down into the dungeons and into the quiet potions classroom, now smelling thickly
of Murtlap essence from a recent lesson.
So what is this about? Draco asks as they make it int his office.

Have a seat, Professor Snape says, which doesnt bode well. Draco sits down in his usual chair,
and Professor Snape sits opposite him, at his desk.
I went to do my usual check-in on your parents yesterday, he says.
Draco feels a sudden crunch of fear in his gut. Are they all right? Draco asks, sitting forward in
his seat. Did the memory charms reverse?
The memory charms were fine, Professor Snape says. Ive been reapplying them every visit as
necessary, like we agreed.
The crunch of fear gets even tighter. Is it to do with Voldemort?
No. No, Draco it
He falters. In Dracos entire life, he can only recall three instances where Professor Snape was
well and truly lost for words, and even fewer occasions when he was nervous. The fear heats with
Professor, Draco urges when the silence becomes too long.
Draco, he says, your mother is pregnant.
Oh, Draco says. Then, What?
Your mother is pregnant, he repeats, more gently. He reaches into his robe and produces a
small, eggshell-colored card from the inside of his robe. She gave me the announcement when I
stopped by.
The fear and alarm are gone. They are replaced with something new, some emotion or
combination of emotions that Draco cant quite place.
Professor Snape offers out the card across his desk. It takes a concentrated effort of will to reach
out his hand and take it.
A New Life is on the Way, reads the card in handsome golden script. Narcissa Black Malfoy is
expecting. The child is due June. En lieu of gifts, donations may be made to the babys trust fund.
June. So not only is his mother pregnant, shes entering into her second trimester.
Draco reads the card several times. He cannot think of what to say. He is not sure if there is any
combination of words in existence that express all that is going through his mind.
Its only when the words on the card start to shake that he realizes his hands are trembling. Draco
pushes the note into his lap and flexes his fingers.
The sentence doesnt go anywhere. Professor Snape seems patient, however, and waits for him to
try again.
Do do they know the sex of the child? Draco finally manages.
Yes, Professor Snape responds. Do you want to know the sex?
Its a damn good question and for a moment Draco isnt sure. Eventually, he says, Yes.

Its a girl.
Draco sinks into his chair. There were only two options, but somehow he is still surprised
rendered breathless by the force of the realization.
They had no heir to the Malfoy fortune, Professor Snape continues, gently. They expressed
some confusion as to why it took them so long to conceive at all.
Draco closes his eyes. He should have known this would happen. Perhaps some part of him had
known, but hed never thought hed never even considered
Will I ever get to meet her? Draco asks, finding that it is suddenly quite hard for him to speak.
Will I ever meet my sister?
Professor Snape doesnt answer, and Draco doubles over himself, elbows on his knees, face in his
hands. His throat hurts from the strain of trying desperately not to cry. He hears Professor Snape
rise and move toward the hearth to put on some tea.
Draco takes the opportunity to get himself under control as best he can. Its not an easy thing. His
mind is filling with questions more quickly than he cares to consider them, and with each one he is
crushed under an ever-growing weight of uncertainty. What will she be like? Will Draco have any
part in her life? Will she even make it out of the approaching war?
Several minutes later, Professor Snape gently urges a cup of tea into his hands. By then, at least,
Draco has mostly got himself under control, and he takes a sip of tea. Its far too hot, but Draco
finds he doesnt mind the burn.
Professor Snape sits down in the chair next to him rather then back at his desk.
I can do damage control, of course, Professor Snape says. I did a quick check of your old baby
things in storage and took out anything identifying. Most of it was inherited and wont cause any
suspicion. Ill do a more thorough look when I go back next week.
Draco is barely listening.
How am I supposed to know what to do? he asks. There are a million-million radiations from a
million-million instances of choice and chance and fate.
Thats chaos, Draco, Professor Snape says.
Draco takes another sip of his too-hot tea, hating chaos for the first time in his life.

25 December, 1994
Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.
Elinor Glyn

Holy shit, is the first thing out of Harrys mouth when Draco sees him that evening, and it
makes him look around to be sure that he hadnt missed something.
But theres nothing. The corridor outside the Great Hall is a drifting mass of people moving
toward the large double doors, and nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. What? Draco asks.
You look
Draco looks down at himself. Hed chosen a higher-end Justine St-Clair dress robe an inky
black piece with long, fitted sleeves and elaborate silver embroidery winding around the wrists, up
the forearms, around the collar, and along the lower hem. Draco had never been anyones
definition of fashion-conscious, but hed been raised in the world of the idle rich, and he had, if
nothing else, an eye for quality.
Good, hopefully.
Better than good, Harry says.
You dont clean up so bad, yourself, Draco remarks, eyeing his suit a matte black three piece
with a white shirt and a tie of bright Gryffindor scarlet. Whered you get that suit?
I uh, Gladrags, he answers. Harry tears his eyes away from the lines and folds of Dracos
robe, looking a bit flustered.
All right?
You just you look great. Amazing.
Draco realizes, rather abruptly, that Harry thinks hes attractive. Between the long months of
agonizing unconsummated romantic tension and the past few weeks full of lengthy sessions of
Harry kissing him up walls in abandoned hallways between classes (which, Draco had since
decided, was a very welcome addition to their relationship), Draco had of course known that there
was chemistry, but hed never really considered the fact that Harry might find him physically as
well as intellectually appealing. The idea that Harry appreciated him for his body as well as his
Draco swallows a sudden lump in his throat and puts that thought away before he lets himself get
too far with it. Now is not the time.
Thank you, Draco says instead. Shall we?
Harry smiles and moves forward to link his arm in Dracos, and his heart thumps against his ribs at

the heat and the closeness, and together they make their way into the Great Hall.
Gossip, as it always does, had spread more quickly and more pervasively than a virus, and when
Harry and Draco first make their entrance, there is a noticeable hush that falls through the room.
Draco can feel a thousand eyes prickling his skin like nettle, and he is suddenly glad that he
doesnt care as much as he could about the opinion of others.
In any case, the Great Hall looks beautiful, done up with silver streamers and dominated by a giant
Christmas tree. Though the Yule Ball hasnt begun in any formal capacity, the music is already
playing and there are a lot of couples dancing. Draco would have liked more time to admire it, but
before theyve gained their bearings, theyre being approached by the Durmstrang champion and
his date.
Harry! says the date, a bushy-haired Gryffindor girl that Draco vaguely recognizes. You look
great. And this must be Draco!
Harry sighs, looking put-off. Hermione, he says, hes really not
You promised an introduction, she returns, her smile tight and her words drawn.
Harry sighs again, looking resigned, and just a little bit annoyed.
Draco, he says, this is Hermione Granger.
Charmed, Hermione says at once. Her grip on her dates arm tightens.
Nice to meet you, Draco says, trying to determine the cause of her slightly manic expression.
And you know Viktor Krum, of course.
A pleasure. Krums accent is thick, but not impenetrable. He inclines his head.
Draco smiles thinly. Dobar wecher, gospodin Krum. Vesela Koleda.
That catches Krums attention. You speak Bulgarian!
Bits and pieces, Draco returns. I know Russian, in any case, which gives me something of a
head start. All those Serbian languages share commonalities.
Its so good to finally meet you in person, Hermione says, and Draco notices the subtle tensing
of her face that only makes her look madder and more manic. After nearly four years as rivals.
Harry sighs. Draco cants his head to the side.
Im sorry, he says, rivals?
Well, intellectual rivals, perhaps!
Her tone was somewhere between jocular and angry. Draco wonders if this is one of those social
cues thats obvious to everyone but him, and suddenly wishes he hadnt come.
Hermiones been sort of Harry begins, but falters, looking between her and Draco, uh,
sort of in competition with you. Youve gotten top marks every year since first, and shes sort
Oh, Draco says like that explains everything, even though it explains nothing and Draco is even
more confused.

Im sure youve noticed, she says, and her grip on Krums arm is so tight that hes looking
down at her hands with an expression of pain. Ive come in second! Second to you. Every single
year. For three years.
I dont really pay attention to the ranking, Draco admits. The response seems to anger her even
further and Dracos not sure why.
Of course you dont. Her voice is tight.
Herr-me-own, your hand Krum begins, but she keeps talking.
What is your secret? she asks. Harry says you dont even study, but I think we both know that
with marks like yours, thats simply not possible.
Hermione, Harry says, sounding pained.
Ive been tutored by Professor Snape since I was very young, Draco answers. I completed the
Hogwarts curriculum independently when I was six.
Hermione laughs and it is a terrifying sound. Did you indeed! Did you indeed.
Oh, wow, Harry says loudly, the musics starting up the champions dance! Draco, are you
Draco doesnt have time to answer. Harry tugs him along by the wrist until theyre at the center of
the dance floor, where the other students have given berth. The other two champions had also
taken Ravenclaws, Draco notices with some surprise Cedric Diggory had taken Cho Chang, and
Fleur Delacour had taken Roger Davies. Draco would have liked to think that it made Viktor
Krum and Hermione the odd couple out, but he couldnt make himself believe that. As they took
their places on the dance floor, Draco felt all the eyes back on them.
Im sorry about Hermione, Harry whispers as the music starts up, and after taking one of
Harrys hands and placing the other in his shoulder, they start a slow, even sashay across the floor.
Shes really nice, shes just she doesnt like not being the smartest person in the room. Shes
pretty competitive.
I dont think she likes me, Draco says with a frown.
This is hard, Harry says, looking down at their feet.
Thats because youre trying to waltz to a duple meter song.
The waltz is a triple meter dance, and never mind. Follow my lead.
With Draco guiding, the dance goes much smoother. Harry gets the hang of it quickly, and soon
enough hes moving quite naturally. By the crescendo, Harrys attention is back on Draco.
Despite the expression of open adoration that is soon falling across Harrys features, Draco cant
feel at ease. The judging eyes of his peers are burning into him.
Penny for your thoughts, Harry says.
As they usually are, Dracos thoughts are in several places at once, operating simultaneously.
They should be much brighter than they are.

In one corner of his mind, Draco is feeling exposed and vulnerable. He does not and has never
concerned himself with the opinions of those who would judge him for who he is, but it would be
ridiculous to ignore the fact that there are people in this school who could, and would, make his
life hell for daring to openly express affection for Harry. It certainly doesnt help that, since the
kiss which, with the clarity of hindsight, Draco does rather regret doing so publicly their
blossoming affections have become a matter of national interest.
In another corner of his mind, Draco is and has been every day since he learned of it working
through the news that his mother is pregnant. He is constantly preoccupied by questions that he
cant answer will he be a part of his sisters life? How can he be expected to be a big brother to a
sibling on the opposite side of a war? Will she even be safe? Will he ever even meet her?
And then, of course, in the darkest and most terrible corner, Draco is perpetually frustrated with
his inability to see through whatever plan the Dark Lord has concocted. He knows nothing
beyond the fact that he needs Harry specifically but for what? Why the Triwizard Tournament?
What is the ultimate goal? Why cant Draco figure it out?
He looks up from where hed been staring into the floor. Harry is watching him in concern.
My thoughts arent worth a penny, Draco says, rather belatedly.
The song ends to scattered applause. A new song starts up, and other couples filter onto the dance
floor. Harry and Draco gravitate away, to the edge of the room and through a pair of double doors
leading into a rose garden set up for the Yule Ball. Its chilly and snow-dusted, lit insufficiently,
and breathtakingly beautiful.
I know what you look like when youre scared, Harry says, and Draco looks out of him. And I
also know what you look like when youre scared and trying not to let on.
Im not that easy to read, Draco protests.
You are a little bit.
Draco tilts his head up toward the dark winter sky. Ever since he was very young, Draco has been
a creature of the cold, always favoring chill to heat. An icy wind rushes past and Draco breathes it
in, relishing the smell of snow and the shiver it sparks down his spine.
You can tell me.
Draco looks back down at Harry. In the silvery light of the rose garden, the lines of his face are
put into hazy relief. Draco is struck by the sudden notion that its fine or, at least, it will be.
Seeing Harrys expression of concern and affection fills him with a strange feeling of invincibility.
What am I going to do with you, Harry Potter?
Harry frowns like he doesnt understand.
I have every reason in the world to be terrified, he continues. There are forces conspiring
against us and I cant figure out how or to what end. Half the school thinks us sinful deviants, and
the Wizarding World is judging us for everything we are and many things we are not. By all
rights, we are a mess.
Harry doesnt answer, though by his expression of concern he seems like he wants to.

And somehow when Im here with you it all just blows away like so much snow in the wind.
A moment passes. Harrys expression softens. One arm slides around Dracos back and easily, too
easily, frighteningly easily, Draco melts into him, hands on his shoulders, head on his chest.
You know what your problem is? Harry asks.
Draco hums. He doesnt care as much as he probably should, but he likes to hear the sounds
through Harrys chest when he speaks.
You think too much.
Draco hums again, lifting the end so it sounds interrogative.
Youve got to give that gorgeous brain of yours a rest every once in a while or youll think
yourself to death.
Harrys lips press to his temple and Draco lifts his head to catch a second kiss against his mouth.
Draco loves these kisses, almost more than he loves the ferocious, breath-stealing snogs up the
hallway walls between classes. The softness, the closeness, the heat of him that melts all of
Dracos hard edges Draco wonders how he ever made it fourteen years without these kisses.
It doesnt just turn on and off, you know, Draco says into Harrys mouth.
Im pretty sure I can at least shut it up for a while, Harry answers, and then hes kissing him,
really kissing him, thoroughly, deeply, fantastically, the sort of kiss that makes Dracos head spin
and his toes curl. Harrys arms around his waist tighten and pull him that last impossible inch
closer, and Draco tangles his fingers in Harrys hair.
Time passes. Dracos not really sure how much. When Harry pulls back again, Draco blinks
dazedly against the soft silvery light.
Howd I do? Harry asks.
Draco cant remember what hes talking about. What?
Harry smirks.

14 February, 1995
Fame is a form, perhaps the worst form, of incomprehension.
Jorge Luis Borges

Valentines Day, Draco knows, is an obscenely overcommercialized holiday. The saint around
whom the tradition is based would have lived and died in complete obscurity were it not for the
fact that he was made a saint for reasons no reliable historical source can explain. These days it is
largely just an excuse to promote the sale of sweets and gifts, and is an unnecessary social
expectation for romantic couples and emotional burden on those who are unattached.
But damn it all if Draco hasnt enjoyed the hell out of his Valentines Day date with Harry.
Is it good? Harry asks after Draco spends a few moments experimentally rolling some of
Honeydukes special Valentines Heartburst candy along his tongue.
Mmn, Draco replies. Its sweet but rich milk chocolate with traces of mint. When he bites into it,
theres a small rush of flavor that breaks free soft, syrupy raspberry. Draco makes a very
undignified noise.
Harry grins and fishes out a few sickles to pay for the bag. Theyre still picking at it when they
make their way out of Honeydukes and onto the sunny, wintery streets of Hogsmeade.
So was it a good Valentines Day? Harry asks as Draco licks the last traces of raspberry from
his lips.
Very good, Draco answers, smirking. So good I feel sort of guilty for playing into all the
And really, it had been a good day. As soon as class let out, they took the long, snow-dusted walk
down to Hogsmeade, while Draco chatted about his medical project and Harry asked relevant
questions. Theyd had dinner and butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, did some window
shopping, and rounded off the day with a trip to Honeydukes.
Your intellectual resentment for it makes it more enjoyable, Harry insists, bending in to steal a
kiss before Draco can protest. Draco hums against Harrys mouth, tugging at his Gryffindor scarf
and returning it.
From behind them, a few older Hufflepuffs make a loud sound that reminds Draco of a cat
throwing up a hairball. Its just distracting enough to pull away Dracos attention.
Could have done without all the commentary, though, Draco mumbles. It had been following
them not just through Hogsmeade but for the past several months, getting worse with every article
published about them and there had been many, getting more numerous as the Second Task
Dont mind them, Harry says. Theyre just jealous they dont get to kiss someone who tastes of

Draco laughs and Harry tries to swallow the sound with another kiss. Draco is looping one arm
around Harrys neck when theres a sudden flash of white light from their left, and they both give
a start and turn toward it.
Rita Skeeter Draco had never met her, but if someone had asked him to picture what she looked
like, he would have envisioned someone an awful lot like the woman standing in front of him. Her
hair is blonde and perfectly coiffed against her oblong head, and her poison green fingernails are
tapping against the side of her camera.
Dont stop on my behalf, she croons, blood red lips curled into a smirk.
Did no one ever tell you that its in bad form to stalk people? Harry asks.
Darling, dont flatter yourself. Its strictly business. You boys are a hot item. My editor cant get
enough of you.
Good to know were putting bread on your table, Harry says lowly.
Lets go, Draco says, knowing better than to engage a reporter with anything they could quote.
Young Mr. Malfoy! Youve been quite a slippery one, havent you? Have you been ignoring my
With great enthusiasm, Draco says shortly, grabbing Harrys wrist and heading away. To his
dismay, Skeeter falls a few steps behind.
If youre upset by the publicity, an interview could be your chance to set the record straight, she
says, and her voice is saccharine. You could tell your side of the story.
If you think Im stupid enough to fall for that, you cant have done your research on me very
well, Draco says.
Leave him alone, Skeeter, Harry snaps, hes not your story.
Id have gone to his parents, but theyve been suspiciously tight-lipped about the whole thing!
Draco stops in his tracks and turns around. Theres a fire of anger in his chest that is only stoked
when he sees the look of glee on Skeeters face that she was able to provoke a reaction from him.
Leave my parents alone, he says shortly.
They certainly seem intent on keeping me away, she says. They havent responded to my owls
or anyones owls, for that matter.
That was likely due to the fact that Draco had designed a ward for the Malfoy Manor that kept
away owls and visitors bound out of major periodicals. Still, there was no reason Skeeter had to
know that. My parents know better than to associate with bottom-feeders.
Is that what it is? Because thats not the popular theory, she says, and her bright green quill is
poised at her notebook. Any comment on the rumors circulating that theyre being so quiet
because theyve disinherited you for your proclivities?
Draco purses his lips. His mind spins as he tries to come up with a suitable response. His
concentration wars with his growing anger.

After all, she continues, leaning forward, the leanings of the Malfoy family are well-known,
and I cant imagine that theyd take well the news that their son was romantically involved with
the Boy Who Lived. The question is whether or not theyd take it so badly that theyd strip you of
your inheritance and name.
Dracos nostrils flare. The anger is so intense now he wonders whether or not its actually hatred
hatred, thats new, he realizes. Draco has never disliked someone so suddenly, so intensely, so
passionately, that he has dared to call it hate, but there it is, snarling and snapping in his chest.
Your assertion is as patently ridiculous and overwrought as your prose, Ms. Skeeter, he says.
Perhaps you should think of switching to writing romance novels and penny dreadfuls. That is
clearly where your skill set lies; not in actual journalism.
Her smile widens and, without moving her gaze off of Draco, she scribbles a few lines in her
Draco spins on one foot and continues away. This time, Skeeter does not follow.
Are you all right? Harry asks.
Im fine, Draco says, a bit too loudly.
Right, yeah, I shout when Im fine, too.
I just rrrgh. Draco wants to rip out his hair. He hates this. He was never meant for celebrity.
Fuck Rita Skeeter and fuck The Daily Prophet. I have more important things to think about.
Yeah, Harry agrees, somewhat tentatively.
I can do more research on mermaids and put finishing touches on that gillyweed extract potion
and finish my pet project and try to fucking figure out what the hell Im missing in this grand
design of the Dark Lords that I cant bloody well untangle
Draco, Harry says.
and the point is there are a million things I can think about that arent bloody Rita Skeeter and
her fucking assertions
Draco, Harry says again, more loudly, grabbing him by the elbow.
Who the hell is she to make assumptions about my family? he snaps, whirling around to face
Harry. How can she profit on making those baseless fucking accusations? Its bad enough Im
getting bloody hate mail how dare I lead the Savior into sin and debauchery but now shes
bringing my family into it
Jesus, Harry says, what the hell happened?
Draco realizes, somewhat belatedly, that each breath is coming out as more of a wheeze, and his
hands are shaking, though not from cold. He swallows.
My mother is pregnant, he says. Perhaps he should have said it earlier. Perhaps he shouldnt
have let it fester inside his head like a wound.
Harry stares at him in silence, mouth open.
Shit, he eventually says.

Im going to have a sister and I dont know if if Ill ever even meet her, if she can even make it
out of this war thats apparently coming, and I cant I dont know what to do, I dont know how
to protect her, I feel like I cant do anything, and I just
Harry grabs him and pulls him into his arms. Draco buries his face in Harrys shoulder and
breathes in the familiar scent of cedar and soap.
It is not your job to protect everyone, Harry whispers into his hair.
If not me, then who? Shes my sister, I cant just
Harry kisses the side of his head without answering. There is no answer, of course. Draco would
have come up with one by now if there was.
They stand there for a while in the snow until Draco collects himself. The walk back to Hogwarts
is quiet, punctuated only by gusts of wind, and warmed only by the way Harry grips his hand in
silent, constant reassurance. And as they walk, Draco wonders how he had ever done without it.

24 February, 1995
If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.
Pablo Neruda
Playlist MR. PROBZ - "WAVES"

Draco dreams of water and song.

He dreams of deep blue and impenetrable black, of the thrush of current and an ever-encroaching
pressure from all sides. He dreams of music, dark and discordant yet beautiful in its strangeness.
He dreams in odd shadows and impossible shapes, in visions that warp and twist and ripple.
He dreams until he wakes up to a sudden crash and noise from all directions.
Draco! Draco!
He is cold and heavy and disoriented. There are hands on him, indistinct voices, the sound of
alarm. He does not move. He is not sure he can.
Draco, oh, God Professor Snape!
He should open his eyes. Why cant he open his eyes?
Professor Snape, please!
Hes in a bewitched sleep.
That certainly explains a lot.
Stand back, let me
Theres a cool press of wood to his forehead, and a moment later the hazy paralysis shatters
around him like glass. The need for air comes screaming back all at once and he jerks, dragging in
a harsh, grating breath.
Draco, oh, my God!
Someone is embracing him tightly. Draco blinks open his eyes and away the water running down
his face, and his mind races to catch up with what hes missed. Facts come in rapid fire, as do the
Outside lake cedar and soap Harry Professor Snape audience cameras flashing
Its the Second Task, Professor Snape says a moment after Dracos already worked it out,
crouched in front of him in the grass. Dont be alarmed.
Draco is too busy catching his breath to respond.
Are you all right? Harry asks him, pulling back to look him in the eye. Hes just as soaked

through as Draco, dark hair slicked back across his head, glasses covered in beads of water. When
Draco cant manages a response, he says, Draco! Are you all right?
He manages to nod. The bewitching comes off in fits and starts, uneven layers of delirium stripped
away one by one. He is still regaining his center when Harry closes the distance to kiss him.
Draco was already mostly breathless to begin with, but that kiss steals away any lingering hope
that he might ever catch up with it. In the periphery he can hear muted words and hear flashpots
bursting, and not only does he not care, he does not care aggressively, because he feels like he
nearly drowned and now Harry is kissing him and anyone who has moral qualms with it can
choke on their own outrage.
He returns the kiss as best as he can, but it doesnt last as long as he would have liked. A moment
later, Harry is pulling away and turning to Professor Snape.
I have to go back, he says. Gabrielle is still down there.
Harry, Professor Snape begins, the timer
But Harry isnt listening, clearly. He produces Dracos specially-brewed gillyweed extract potion
from the pocket of his soaked robe and throws back another mouthful. Ill be back! he says,
before taking off in a run and diving back into the lake.
Draco stares after him. If he had more control over his muscles he probably would have tried to
stop him.
The Task Draco manages, but Professor Snape cuts him off.
Yes, Draco, you did indeed misinterpret the clue the egg gave.
Draco swallows thickly.
Harrys most precious possession was not his invisibility cloak.
Draco is in no shape to be analyzing that idea too deeply, but he cant stop the slowly-spreading
warmth that starts in his stomach and heats him from the inside out.
He is a hopelessly sentimental Gryffindor fool, and Draco has never wanted to kiss him so badly
in his life.
So of course he had to swan off and put himself in danger to save someone else. Gryffindor
Lets get you dry, Professor Snape says, helping Draco to his feet. Draco knows that he will
wait however long it takes for Harry to come back. He will drag and drain the lake if he must. At
that moment, he is aware, in a very serene and uncomplicated way, that he will joyfully and
enthusiastically kill anyone who is a threat to Harry, that he will die for him, and it is the most
terrifying and unambiguous certainty he has ever known.

16 April, 1995
Chapter Notes

This chapter features some extremely mild hanky-panky. Just a head's up, as the
characters involved are both still underage!

Love is the answer. But while youre waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good
Woody Allen

A few drops of potion is all it takes to make the skin of Dracos hand grow back in strange pulses
in time with his heartbeat. Within about thirty seconds, his hand is completely healed over and free
of scars.
I think I did it, he says, scarcely daring to believe it. Nearly a year of research and planning and
its finally done.
Harry looks up from where hes lying on Dracos bed, alternating his attention between his
History of Magic textbook and the accompanying essay. Really?
Dracos wand lies dissected on the desk, its wood cut open and its unicorn hair core removed. He
moves the fragments out of the way and slowly, slowly flexes the freshly-healed hand. The
muscles are stiff and awkward, and the combination of sanitation and numbing spells hed cast on
it smell strange and bitter, but the hand seems to be fully functional.
He takes in a breath and holds his hand out towards the open textbook hed been consulting and
clears his mind.
Wingardium leviosa, he says, and after a few seconds of rattling, the textbook lifts off the table,
his magic channeled successfully through his hand instead of his wand. Dracos face breaks into a
Damn, Harry says, sitting upright and watching. I cant believe you did it.
Dracos having a hard time believing it, too. Logically, he knows that hes planned it all out
exhaustively, that hes checked and rechecked his theory and technique a thousand times, that
there was no reason it should have failed, but seeing the fruit of his labor is incredible: he has
replaced the tendons of his hand with unicorn hair and he no longer needs a wand.
Draco grins and gives his fingers a twitch; the book soars across the room and tucks itself on the
nearby bookshelf.

You should write a paper on this, Harry says. Im pretty sure youve just erased the need for
wandless magic as a field of study.
Calling wandless magic a field of study is a bit generous, of course wandless magic is
difficult, unreliable, often dangerous, and very limited, which is why Draco opted out of studying
it entirely in favor of this.
Draco still cant quite believe it worked.
This is good, Draco says. This is what I needed.
What you needed?
This will give me the edge I need, he says. I can be beaten and bound but I cannot be
Harry doesnt respond immediately. Draco casts a few more charms and simple spells, just to test
it he transfigures his trunk into a chair and then back into a trunk, summons a few simple
fireworks, and turns the Ravenclaw dormitory curtains from blue to green and then back to blue
again. Its working perfectly, just like a wand.
You really are scared, arent you?
Draco looks over at him. Harry is setting his textbook and half-finished essay down on the floor,
but his eyes arent leaving Draco.
Given who were dealing with, I hardly think its an unreasonable precaution, Draco says.
I didnt say it wasnt.
Draco rises and starts picking up the mess hed made performing magical surgery on himself
which is, he notices, not as much as one might expect. He stashes the wood from his dissected
wand into a bag, folds up all the charts and diagrams, picks up and burns all the gauze with a few
quick spells.
Ive said it before, you know, Harry continues. Its all right to be afraid.
Draco looks back at him. Hes sitting on the edge of his bed, in the quiet, abandoned dormitory.
During Easter break, the entire tower was desolate and, among other things, the ideal time to finish
his pet project.
This coming from a man who dove into danger to save a competitors sister?
Harry grins self-effacingly. How many times do I have to apologize for that?
As many times as it takes until Im satisfied, Draco answers, moving forward and neatly
straddling Harrys lap. Their kissing had recently started involving beds and other horizontal
surfaces now that they had the castle mostly to themselves, which Draco has decided is an
excellent development. Those heroics could have gotten you killed.
No good deed goes unpunished, Harry says, carding his fingers through Dracos hair, and
Draco shivers. He cant help it. He has a weakness for Harry playing with his hair, and ever since
Harry figured it out, hes been doing nothing but. We will be all right, you know. In the end.
And what makes you so damn sure? Draco asks.

Because youre outrageously smart and Im recklessly stupid and we would never let anything
happen to each other. Harry kisses his throat and Draco takes in a sharp breath.
Mm. Like that?
Draco cant quite answer because of how much he does like it. Dracos neck, as it turns out, is
another weak point of his, and if Draco didnt know any better, hed think that Harry was making
a concerted effort to go through and find each one of his weaknesses. Harrys tongue and teeth
glide up the lines of his neck and Draco shivers.
Fingertips slide down Dracos spine, light enough to set fires in his nerves that spread to every part
of his body. In some part of his mind, Draco is aware that much of this likely has to do with
hormones, but when the same hands that ghost down his spine move to his thighs, he quickly
decides that he doesnt care.
Harry, he says again, more tightly, as Harrys teeth gnash lightly at the skin over his Adams
There is a definite and unmistakable pressure building in Dracos pelvis, a sensation that Dracos
not quite sure how to handle. Harrys kisses are always dizzying and intense, but at the moment
theyre extra potent, like firewhiskey, pulling Draco apart as if trying to unravel him. He can feel
his heart beating in his inner thigh and Harry makes a soft sound against his throat.
Draco, he says, voice strained, are you all right with this?
He barely even knows what this is, but he knows he doesnt want it to stop. Draco bends his
head down and kisses Harry thoroughly in response, and Harry, releasing a shuddering moan
against Dracos mouth, takes him down until Dracos sprawled on his back on the bed, Harry over
him, where the kiss continues hastening, clumsy, tempered with
oh, Draco suddenly realizes, this is arousal. This is the culmination of several months of tension
and kissing and fantastic snogs against castle walls. This is Harry, making his blood pound and his
cock strain and oh
Harry is moving, and Draco can feel him, just as desperate and aching and hard and aroused as
Draco is, and the friction makes him groan and grip the back of Harrys shirt. Hes breathing hard,
and his limbs are trembling, and Merlin this feels so good, Harry feels so good, and Draco bucks
his hips up to meet the movements halfway and Harry moans into his jaw.
Draco, he whispers, God, you are incredible, how did I ever get so lucky?
Dracos mind supplies a weak joke about low standards, but he cant quite get it to connect to his
mouth thanks to Harry and his unique ability to shut off large parts of his central nervous system
with his kisses.
Theyre moving faster now, in tandem, hands and lips and teeth and tongues, and Draco gives,
hopefully, as much as he gets. With his tongue on Harrys pulse point he can tell that his hearts
beating nearly as fast as Dracos, and with his hips grinding down he can tell hes still just as hard.
One of Harrys hands moves under the hem of Dracos jumper and smooths across the skin of his
stomach and Draco is undone.
Harry, he says, and Harrys fingernails dig into the skin over his ribs, and they are frantic, hands
gripping, hearts pounding, aching, straining, burning, raging towards a peak, and Draco feels like
he could do this forever. Harry ducks his head and kisses his neck, and Draco claws at his back

through the sheer fabric of his shirt and yes, yes, yes, yes
Plateau, peak, static Draco can feel every inch of Harrys body pressed into his own, and he is
breathless, dizzy, and over him, Harry is shuddering and moving in slowing, weakening motions
that Draco echoes with the surprisingly little strength he has left.
And Harry kisses him, and Draco returns it, and Draco is far, far gone and doesnt want to come

5 June, 1995
I know that I know nothing.

There is a threshold in Draco that can only handle a certain amount of emotional, psychological,
and existential anxiety. It is a limit that, when crossed, moves him out of the realm of stable and
healthy and brilliant into scared and fragile and useless.
He crossed it once before when he was eight, when, in his self-guided study of metaphysics and
ontology, he was forced to arrive at the conclusion that life is fundamentally meaningless and
chaotic and that everything that defines his existence was a product of random chance. He spent
three full days curled up in bed, rendered inert from the weight of his existential crisis, and only
emerged after Professor Snape talked him into the idea that meaning, while fundamentally absent
from the universe, is a self-guided principle which must be chosen and not found. That was the
first day Draco referred to himself as a nihilist. It was also the day he decided that his goal in life
would be to learn as much as possible, and forward his species in any way he could, and
contribute to the best of his ability to the assurance that humankind would leave a lasting impact
on the universe.
As Draco sits by the window he feels it creeping up again. The fear, that dreadful and potent
Perhaps, Draco thinks, that threshold broke weeks ago. Perhaps all this time hes been thinking
and working and functioning by nothing more than sheer force of will.
Because Draco is terrified not just by what he does not know (and there is much he does not not
know), but by what he does. Draco does not know what the Dark Lord is planning, but he knows
there is only one thing he can do about it.
There you are.
Draco looks away from the window. Its Professor Snape, his hands folded behind his back, his
dark eyes fixed on Draco.
You werent at potions, he continues, when Draco says nothing. How long have you been
sitting here?
Draco wets his lips. What time is it?
Professor Snape consults his pocket watch. Half-seven.
About four hours.
Professor Snape doesnt answer immediately. After a moment, he sits down next to Draco on the
window ledge, back to the glass, looking out at the hallway as Ravenclaws pass, on their way
back to the common room.

I saw the ingredients you took from my store room, he says. I know what it is youre brewing.
Draco hugs his legs to his chest and looks out the window.
Does Harry know?
Of course not.
He will see this as a betrayal, Draco.
Draco shuts his eyes. I know.
I admit that Im not terribly fond of it myself, but
But there is no other way. Draco has been trying to think of one for months, stopped at every
turn by the fact that he does not know enough. The only thing we know for sure of the Dark
Lords plan is that it requires Harry, and the only way to stymie it is to make sure he does not get
him. Have you told Professor Dumbledore?
Professor Snape doesnt answer, but the expression on his face is answer enough.
And he didnt tell you to stop me? Draco continues. I hadnt expected his blessing.
I wouldnt call it his blessing, Professor Snape says. He sees it as necessary, because he knows
that he can neither stop you nor talk you out of it.
Its all a game of calculation and forethought, Draco supposes. Dumbledore is right in thinking
there wouldnt be any easy way to stop him Dumbledore is smart, but so is Draco, and for
Harry, he would find a way out of anything the headmaster might try.
Its funny, in a deeply troubling and dark sort of way, and Draco would laugh, but there is a
certain amount of joie-de-vivre necessary for laughter that Draco simply cannot muster.
You have your panic button, Professor Snape reminds him. You have your wits. If you think
you are in danger, get out.
Draco nods. He knows that he will avoid anything life-threatening if at all possible, and Professor
Snape knows he knows. His words hadnt been for Dracos reassurance, theyd been for his own.
Silence stretches between them. Draco looks back out the window. The last traces of sunset are
fading from the sky, and the canopy of the Forbidden Forest is edged with pale blues and violets
under a waning moon.
I have your birthday present, Professor Snape says suddenly, and Draco looks back at him. He
had almost forgotten it was his birthday at all. Professor Snape reaches into his robe and produces
a large parchment, rolled, magically sealed whatever it is, its clearly an important and official
document. Here.
Draco takes it carefully, taps it with his finger to open the magical seal, and slowly unrolls the
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT is written across the top and something deep inside Dracos
chest grips itself tightly.
What Draco begins.

I have named you and Harry inheritors of my estate, Professor Snape says, with a serenity that
Draco finds astonishing.
Professor, he breathes, you cant possibly
You two are the closest I will ever come to having children, he says before Draco can finish. I
know that the news of your mothers pregnancy has hit you hard. I know that you miss your
parents, though you wont admit it. I know being away from them has been difficult for you.
Dracos eyes burn. He stares at the words on the parchment, though they start to blur together.
I know family has always meant more to you than you ever would have said aloud, and I want
you to know, Draco, he says, that family is not limited to blood. I consider you, in every
capacity, both practical and legal, my son. I consider the same of Harry. You are my family,
Draco, and I dont want you to ever forget that.
Professor, he says, though the word is soft. Draco finds he can barely speak.
Whatever happens at the Third Task, Professor Snape continues, more urgently, reaching out
and gripping Dracos arm, whatever the outcome of this war, I do not want you to ever forget
that. I love you and I will always love you.
Dracos hands are shaking so badly that he drops the will. He bends forward and buries himself in
Professor Snape, in his soft and familiar scent of reagents and salves, curling into him as he
enfolds Draco into his arms. Any pretense of holding back tears shatters and he lies trembling and
sobbing in his godfathers embrace.
Im scared, Draco whispers, choking on the words. Im so scared. I feel powerless.
I know, Professor Snape returns. I know, Draco. If I thought I could do this for you I would do
so in a heartbeat. You are so young so very young
Professor Snapes voice is taut, and he stops speaking. Instead he kisses the top of Dracos head
and holds him more tightly, and it is not all right, nothing is all right, Draco is frightened and must
risk his life and betray his best friend and he must do it all, in the end, alone
but for now, it is enough. In his godfathers arms, calmed but not comforted, warmed but not
fearless, it is enough, it is enough.

24 June, 1995 - Part 1

I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.
Malcolm X
Playlist DVOK - OP. 75, 4th MOVT.

Draco should announce his presence, but he enters the tent sees Harry strapping on his padded
leathers, and he is paralyzed, though he isnt sure by what. Fear, maybe? Guilt? Dread?
Eventually, Harry turns to grab his belt and sees Draco. He gives a start, but soon hes smiling and
it tears the heart right out of Dracos chest.
Hey, he says. Come to wish me good luck?
The thrum of the crowd, the heat of the young Scottish summer its all muted by the thick
canvas of the tent. For Draco, it is isolating; it separates him from the world, but only makes him
closer to his deeds. He fingers the small vial in his pocket and, for the first time in his life, hates
Draco? Harry continues when Draco doesnt answer.
For what Draco knows are entirely selfish reasons, he strides across the tent, tangles his fingers in
Harrys hair, and kisses him. If their kisses are usually lightning, this one is a ground wire. It
catches lightning and buries it deep, keeping it safe. It is strong and simple and foundational and
wonderful in its own way. Draco commits it to memory, because there is some part of him that
knows it may be the last kiss he ever shares with Harry.
Harrys hands are on Dracos hips, and he withdraws a few inches to open his eyes and study
Dracos face. Draco, he says, and Draco silences him with another kiss.
Dont, Draco says. Please, dont speak. Dont make this harder than it has to be.
Harrys green eyes are soft, and the hands on Dracos hips slip around to the small of his back to
pull him closer. Draco rests his forehead on Harrys and shuts his eyes, breathing in cedar and
Im so sorry, Harry, Draco says. He tries to keep his voice even, but his heartache and
desperation and fear seep through the cracks.
Sorry? Sorry about what?
This is the only way, he says. God knows you never would have agreed to it if Id tried to do it
honestly. You wouldnt want me putting myself in danger. He smiles, but theres no joy in it.
Were both so ready to leap at death for each other, yet unwilling to let the other do the same.
The irony of the situation isnt lost on me.
There is a steadily growing look of alarm on Harrys face. He withdraws from Draco. What are
you talking about?

I cant ever ask you to really forgive me, but the selfish part of me desperately hopes you do
Draco, Harry says sharply. Draco, what are you talking about?
Youll work it out soon enough, Draco says, voice wan and miserable. The sedative will be
kicking in any second now.
The only thing we can be sure the Dark Lord wants from this competition is you, and we cant
give it to him, Draco says, watching with sad eyes as Harry puts a hand to his forehead and starts
to stagger.
What Draco, what have you done?
It will wear off in a few hours, Draco assures him.
Harry buckles and Draco lunges to catch him before he falls to his knees. Draco can see the fight
in his eyes as he valiantly, desperately tries to battle the sedative, and it kills him. Draco lowers
him onto the squashy cot against the wall of the tent.
Draco, Harry says, you cant
Im sorry, Draco whispers, and he is. His guilt is so heavy it feels like he might be crushed
beneath it. Im so sorry, Harry.
Draco stares down at him until Harry drops off entirely. He watches the muscles in Harrys face
relax one by one, until Draco would have thought him asleep in another situation. Dracos eyes
burn and his throat is tight but he will not cry. He must not. There is no time.
He strips the padded leathers off Harrys body and pulls them on one by one, ignoring the
dreadful pain in his chest. They are a size too big Harry always did have a few inches on him
but it doesnt matter. When hes dressed, he pulls the vial from his pocket and rolls it in his palm.
He plucks a single hair from Harrys head and adds it to the colorless Polyjuice potion. It promptly
turns a bright, vibrant green.
Dracos eyes move from the potion and down to Harry, now in just his plain shirt and trousers,
unconscious on the cot. He does not cry. He must not cry.
He downs the potion in one swallow. Three minutes later, hes pulling Harrys glasses off his face
and walking out into the sunlight to the sound of low, rhythmic chanting Potter! Potter! Potter!

24 June, 1995 - Part 2

We learn little from victory, much from defeat.
Japanese proverb

Draco makes it to the center of the labyrinth and the first thing that enters his mind is there is no
way its that simple.
But there it is gold and gleaming and impressive, the trophy rests on a raised dais in the middle
of the clearing. Its not as though the Third Task hadnt been a challenge there were a few tight
spots, though nothing that Draco couldnt handle but hed been going through the entire process
expecting, waiting, for the other shoe to drop.
Because he knows that this is the apex of the Dark Lords plan. He entered Harry into it for a
reason, and nothing had happened in the first two tasks, so whatever he was intending had to
come now. But Draco had made it through, and now here he was, staring at the proverbial finish
line, tense and terrified of everything that had not happened.
Draco gives another cursory look around the clearing. Has he been overthinking this? Is the Dark
Lords plan only tangential to the Triwizard Tournament? Had Draco overlooked something vital?
With his wand-hand flexing at his side, Draco moves up toward the dais. A quick diagnostic spell
tells him that theres no curse on the trophy, itself, just the portkey magic that Draco expects to
take him back to the outside of the labyrinth. Is that really it? Is it really so simple?
Draco takes another swig of the Polyjuice potion to top him off and, after pocketing the vial, grabs
hold of the handle of the trophy and
lands in a graveyard?
Danger. This is dangerous. Draco knows that before he knows where he is or why hes here. At
once he is on edge, chastising himself. Obvious. He should have seen this, should have known
Theres the man of the hour.
Draco whirls and drops the trophy in the brittle, drying grass, and standing several feet away,
twisted and gnarled
Professor Moody?
A crooked smile greets him. Draco watches him finger his wand. Professor Moodys stance is
sure, ready to attack. Both eyes normal and magical are transfixed on him.
Thats not possible, Draco says, and Professor Moodys smile turns slightly sour. No, thats not
possible. You were a member of the Order of the Phoenix during the first campaign, you cant

Before Draco can finish the sentence, Professor Moody is throwing out a hex that Draco only just
manages to deflect. He follows it up with two spells cast simultaneously, which is a damn smart
move, because theres no counterspell to keep both away, and Draco goes flying back until he
lands hard on the ground and goes rolling across the grass.
The pain from the spell that hit him comes slowly at first, then all at once a bloodfire hex, his
mind supplies, that landed hard enough to send him flying and sends terrible, burning pain through
his veins. All Draco can do is scream, writhing on the ground, his vision gray with agony.
Geniuses, Professor Moody says disparagingly. Strike when theyre thinking and they fall like
a house of cards.
The magic intensifies and oh, Merlin, it hurts, it hurts so terribly and eclipsingly that Draco cant
think, he cant even see, he needs to get out his panic button wheres?
He stuffs a hand into his pocket
Theres a boot that steps down on his wrist, pinning it into the soft dirt and dry grass. A quick,
wordless spell, and he can feel it slipping out of his pocket. It flies up into Professor Moodys
outstretched hand. Draco makes a strangled sound and tries to grab for it, but the pain is still
burning and intense.
This is a clever little thing, Professor Moody says as he turns it over in his hands. Did you
make this yourself, Malfoy?
Draco grits his teeth. His breath comes out in fits and starts. How does he?
Whats the matter? Professor Moody croons. Surprised I know? You shouldnt be. Did you
really think we hadnt taken this into account from the start? Did you think we werent ten steps
ahead of you from the word go?
Dracos fingers twitch in careful patterns and as he lies inert in the grass he manages, just barely,
to dispel the bloodfire hex. The pain evaporates but the terror remains, and its nearly as bad.
Geniuses, Professor Moody says again, more loudly, more viciously. You leave them around
ordinary people long enough and they start forgetting that there are those who might challenge
Draco abruptly casts the strongest propulsion spell he can and Professor Moody goes flying.
Draco scrambles to his feet and races for the trophy
Theres a dreadful crack of magic that catches Draco mid-sprint and he falls onto his side, more
pain screaming through him, this time focused to his side. Heat and wetness fountains from
beneath his leathers and Draco is pulled, pulled he scrabbles for the trophy but it is bare inches
out of his grasp, and he is dragged away.
You are quick, Professor Moody says, rasping through his teeth. That trick might have worked
on someone else.
Tendrils of Dark Magic snake around him, pick him up, throw him forward and before he knows
whats happening he is being bound to a large slab of stone a tombstone, some part of him
recognizes and Professor Moody is leering down at him.
Youre not escaping, he snarls, and Draco groans from the terrible pain in his side. I have

worked too hard sacrificed too much

Another crack of magic and Draco suddenly feels constricted, breathless there is a dreadful,
suffocating aura surrounding him. When Draco tries to dispel the tendrils of Dark Magic binding
him, he realizes that the aura is a muting spell, designed to keep him from casting magic, and the
fear in him redoubles.
You did a good job with the Polyjuice potion, Professor Moody says, hobbling a few feet away
Dracos propulsion spell must have hit him in the leg, because hes limping toward a small
bundle of black fabric. I would know. A bad Polyjuice leaves signs, but a good one is completely
Despite everything, Draco works it out. Youre not Professor Moody, he croaks, the pain in his
side making it hard to speak.
Heres the thing about a Polyjuice potion, he continues, hobbling several feet further with the
bundle of black cloth, and suddenly Draco sees a cauldron, full of poisonous-looking blue liquid,
next to a dug-up grave. The magic in it isnt superficial. Its not an illusory potion that only
changes the surface. Thats why it requires a sample it rewrites your entire genetic make-up.
Draco stares at him uncomprehendingly. Its too much information too quickly. What is in the
cauldron? What is that bundle of fabric? Why do genetics matter? Dracos mind roars as he tries to
make sense of all the clues laid before him.
The only thing it doesnt touch is your mind. Right now, every other part of you is, for all intents
and purposes, Harry Potter. His flesh, his bone. His blood.
Professor Moody drops the bundle of black fabric into the blue liquid and hunches over the
massive cauldron, shoulders stooped.
Blood is all that we need.
It all clicks into place at that moment blood, Horcruxes, Dark Magic, no, no, no, no, what has he
done, what has Draco done
Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son.
Silvery-white dust rises up from the dug-up grave and Draco struggles against the Dark Magic
holding him, no, no, no, Merlin, please no, how could have have done this, he gave them exactly
what they wanted
Professor Moody produces a long dagger from his robe. Flesh of the servant, willingly given, he
hisses, and theres a dreadful slicing and snapping and a spray of blood, but he doesnt even
move, his severed hand falls into the cauldron and his eyes are transfixed on the surface of the
liquid, you will revive your master.
Draco wants to scream, but there would be no use in it. The binding Dark Magic holds him firm
against the tombstone and Dracos breath comes out as terrible wheezing.
Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken
He staggers toward Draco; there is no pain on Professor Moodys or whoever is imitating
Professor Moodys face, but the stump of his left hand is still bleeding profusely, and the blood
loss has clearly taken its toll. The dagger digs into Dracos arm and he cries out in pain, and all he
can think is no, no, no, no, no.

... you will resurrect your foe.

Theres a wet sound, and then so much blinding white light, and Draco is undone. He did this, he
let this happen, how could he have been so stupid
He screws his eyes shut and he lies trembling against the stone. Time passes, he is not sure how
much. He trembles and dares not open his eyes.
You have done well, Bartemius.
The voice is high, clear terrifying. It chills Draco to his core and he does not cannot open his
eyes to look upon its source.
Thank you, Master.
You always were a cut above the rest, he says. And loyal to the last. You came when I called
Always, Master.
You balanced so much these past months. I am proud of you.
Thank you, Master.
And then
Draco does not need to open his eyes. He can feel the gaze burning into him. All Draco can do is
sit, and shake, and curse himself.
Well, well, well. Draco Malfoy. This is a meeting long overdue.
There comes the sound of rustling grass and the whisper of robes.
Open your eyes, Malfoy. Your fears will not go away just because you cannot see them.
It takes a concentrated effort of will, but he opens his eyes at once, he wishes he hadnt. The
face in front of him is just like the one Harry had described as having seen in his dreams a white,
skull-like head, red eyes, slit-shaped nostrils, and a set of wide, gleaming teeth. He is thin, with
hands like spiders, and he is crouched in front of Draco with what he can only assume is a smile.
So brilliant but so fragile. You know who I am.
Draco cannot find his voice. He feels paralyzed by the weight of his own fear.
Tell me who I am, Malfoy.
Voldemort. It comes out as little more than a shaking, fearful breath.
White lips pull back from those gleaming teeth.
I admit that I could not have anticipated anyone like you working against me, he says. When
that simpering fool Quirrel told me he had been ousted by an eleven-year-old, I almost killed him
for lying to me so brazenly
One of those spider-like hands reaches out and grabs Draco by the chin. He makes a small, weak

sound that is equal parts surprise and terror; he tries to recoil from the grip but the cold fingers hold
him firm.
But thats the thing about people like us, Malfoy, he says. We learn very quickly.
Draco jerks his head again, managing to free himself from the cold fingers.
And now here we are! he continues, rising suddenly to his feet, his black robe whirling around
him, staring out into the darkened graveyard. Any minute now, my followers will be returning to
me. I wonder who among them will be brave enough to come? Who will be foolish enough to
hide? Questions soon to be answered.
He looks back at Draco, his pale, oblong head canting to one side, his livid red eyes gleaming.
But then theres the question of what to do with you.
The fear in him intensifies for a terrible moment. Youll kill me, Draco says, and its not quite a
question. Hell kill him, and Draco will die, having betrayed his best friend and failed utterly to do
the only thing that would have made the betrayal worthwhile.
Kill you? the Dark Lord repeats, feigning astonishment. What, and waste all that potential? All
that genius? Bartemius!
Professor Moody Bartemius hurries over to his side. Hes pale from blood loss but seems
determined to overcome it by sheer force of will. Master?
Give me my wand.
At once, he produces it from his robe. The Dark Lord takes it and, without preamble, points it
directly at Dracos face.
I would never be so wasteful as to you kill you, Malfoy, the Dark Lord says, and with a
blinding jolt of pain, Dracos world goes dark.

26 June, 1995
Chapter Notes

HEY, GUYS! Remember all those terrifying tags you saw when you first clicked on
this story? That shit starts in this chapter.
Just to be perfectly clear: if there is any chance at all that you might be triggered or
otherwise profoundly uncomfortable with fairly intense descriptions of torture and
gore, for the love of Cthulhu, do not continue reading this story. I am super duper
serious. It starts bad and gets worse. Please read at your own discretion!
UPDATE: I have written a brief play-by-play of chapters 43-46, which explains
relevant plot details while, hopefully, avoiding any upsetting/triggering details. Ideally
it should let you pick up at chapter 47 without having missed anything important. If it
interests you:

It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.

Ursula K. Le Guin

And then he awakes with a spasm and a sharp intake of breath.

Welcome back.
Before he has full reign of his kinesthesia he is aware of a dulled pain in his side and another in his
arm. At once, his mind goes back the Triwizard Tournament, the trophy, the graveyard
My apologies for keeping you out so long. Special accommodations had to be made.
He tries to bring one hand to his side, only to find that something cold and metal is holding him by
both wrists. He blinks open his heavy eyes and finds that he is shackled to a stone floor by heavy
iron manacles. His heart starts to race.
After all, youre hardly just any prisoner, are you?
The room is wide and dark and cold, and Dracos eyes need a moment to adjust. There are two
figures, both tall and spare, standing near the opposite wall. There is just one torch, and they stand
in front of it, shrouding them in their own shadows. Draco swallows, knowing precisely who they
Do you know why you were brought here?
Draco doesnt answer. He cant. There is terror in him that runs bone deep, that would paralyze
him completely were it not for the unconquerable shaking.

The taller of the two figures glides forward, and a deep and visceral shudder runs the length of
Dracos body as the grim, skull-like face of Lord Voldemort comes into focus. His heart slams in
his chest and the skin at the back of his neck prickles.
So very, very fragile, the Dark Lord whispers, crouching down to Dracos level where he is
sagged against the wall, arms shackled to the floor. Like a little bird.
This close, every feature of his face is visible in absolute detail. The chalk white skin stretched
over fine bones, the bright red eyes, the slatted nose, the cracked lips. Draco cannot look away
despite how desperately he wants to. Somewhere in his throat there is a scream of terror trying to
escape, but it cant. Like everything else in him, it is paralyzed with fear.
Do you understand why I am doing this, little bird?
Draco does. He wishes he didnt, but he does. With absolute, devastating, soul-crushing clarity, he
You are an enemy I cannot afford and an ally I cannot spare, he says, and he sounds almost
ruminative. With anyone else, a simple Imperius would be more than enough but then,
Bartemius was good enough to test the spell on you and you, little bird, were strong enough to
break it.
Draco cannot stand to look at him a second longer. He screws his eyes shut, but his presence is
all-encompassing, persistent and oppressive, like winter wind that bites through the thickest cloak.
Intellectual clarity and mental fortitude, the Dark Lord says. Your genius gives you both in
spades and makes you particularly resilient. Therefore the question changes. How can I strip away
your intellectual clarity and mental fortitude without risking your genius?
The words curl low in Dracos stomach, absorbing all the heat from him.
The Dark Lord bends forward, leaning close to him so close Draco can smell him, smell the
Dark Magic that ripples off him like foul cologne
Answer my question, little bird, he says, softly, dangerously, and Draco makes a broken sound.
Torture, Draco says, hanging his head and trying to breathe through the fear that is collapsing
his ribs.
Torture, he repeats, precisely. Of course, with the Cruciatus curse out of the question in a
magical lockdown room such as this, our options are somewhat unrefined and a great deal
A sob rips its way out of Dracos throat. His mind is filling with possibilities that he cannot will
But dont worry, little bird. Bartemius, here, does have quite a bit of experience with torture and
an intellect that rivals your own. Im sure hell be able to come up with something fast and
effective that breaks down all those walls. It will be over before you know it.
Draco hates himself for crying but he cannot stop. The Dark Lord rises to his full composure, and
Draco can hear him turn around.
Nothing that might hinder him when he comes to work for us, he says shortly, but other than
that, be as creative as you like.

Yes, Master.
Footsteps, then, as the Dark Lord walks toward and opens a heavy door with rusty hinges.
Oh, and Bartemius?
A pause, then Keep him pretty, he says. I rather like him pretty.
Of course, Master.
Another squeal of hinges and a dreadful, resounding crash as the door slams shut. The silence it
leaves behind is an open wound in the dark dampness of the cell. Draco does not open his eyes.
He does not move. He sits, and he sobs, and he feels his hope die.
Theres another moment of silence, followed by the rustle of thick canvas and the heavy clunk of
something hitting the floor. Draco hears Bartemius rummage through something. There are
dreadful and ominous clicks of metal and the sliding of leather. Draco does not look up, he dares
Times like this, Bartemius says, sounding almost conversational, I wish your aunt were here.
Your Aunt Bellatrix remember her?
Draco does not answer.
No, I suppose you wouldnt, he says. She was always the creative one when it came to torture.
People think it was just the Cruciatus curse that drove the Longbottoms to insanity, but I was there
and I can tell you that the Cruciatus was hardly used at all. Some of the things she did He
whistles. Masterful. She broke them, inside and out. It was a thing of beauty to behold. Like art.
Draco screws his eyes even more tightly shut.
So I just want you to know, Bartemius says, over the next few weeks, when youre screaming
in agony and wondering who on earth could come up with something that could cause so much
pain it was your aunt.
There is a sudden, violent jolt of pain in his side, and four metal claws are digging into the stillhealing wound over his ribs and they twist, and Draco screams its a scream that rips up his
throat in an instant, that shreds him, and the barbs keep twisting and Draco screams and screams
and hot blood fountains down his side and he can feel his ribs bending and cracking and his vision
goes grey
the metal barbs retract and Draco collapses forward onto the floor, the metal chains slowing his
descent. He lies wheezing on his side, shaking, lifeblood pumping down across his stomach and
pooling beneath him
Bit of a screamer, arent you? His voice is strangely jocular, manic, strung taut to a fever pitch,
and Draco can barely hear him for the pain still screaming through his body. Id save my voice if
I were you. Were only just getting started!

3 July, 1995
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas

Draco has never been able to reconcile the idea of a deity any deity existing in a universe so
vast and chaotic. He has always held religion in the same regard as he holds mythology:
fascinating from an anthropological standpoint, steeped in rich history and profound import, but
fundamentally a work of human imagination.
But he knows, beyond any semblance of skeptical, atheistic doubt, that he is in hell.
He knows it is hell in the same way he knows up and down. Its not really a matter of discussion,
it just is. Up is above, down is below, and Draco is in hell.
In fairness, it doesnt seem to be any sort of particularly religious hell. Its far worse than that,
because it is not the creation of omniscient, omnipotent beings. Its all just people, whose
unfathomable cruelty and ingenious sadism would make the Devil of the Abrahamic religions
shudder in revulsion.
He has not slept for days (or at least he thinks its been days his cell has no windows and he is
not fed with any regularity, so the passage of time is impossible to track). The best he gets are
moments when the pain becomes too intense and he loses consciousness. Even then, he will
sometimes be woken up with a bucket of freezing cold water.
He is not healed, and there is much on him that needs healing. Burns, sores, open wounds,
abrasions, broken bones, infections. He is force fed just enough vitality potion to keep him alive,
to stimulate blood regeneration, to stymie the worst festering wounds, but he is otherwise left
without. Bleeding, aching, wasting away.
In the beginning, Draco begged. He screamed no, please, stop, mercy. He knew some part of
him had always known that it would make no difference, but it is a reflex that only went away
with time. Gradually, diminishing. Like everything else.
Draco does not beg anymore. Draco is done. He screams when he is in pain, he sobs when it is
too much, he whimpers when Bartemius enters with the barbed whip or the rake or the hot irons
or the needles, but he does not beg. There is nothing. Nothing to beg for, nothing to reason with.
There is just nothing. Not anymore.
A door opens. Draco does not lift his head. He is calculating happy primes in his head, which is
just about the only thing he can do to keep his mind away from the darkness that encroaches from
all sides. It is taking longer lately.

Its a different voice. Draco cant place it immediately, though its not as if it matters, anyway, not
really. Nothing does.
I thought I told him to keep you pretty.
Oh, Draco thinks. Its Lord Voldemort. Thats different.
He still does not lift his head. He couldnt even if he wanted to. The skin of his back is open and
bloody from Bartemiuss recent experimentation with the barbed whip.
Sit upright.
It seems absolutely impossible. He moves his hands across the floor, and the metal chains rattle as
theyre pulled over the stone. He tries to brace himself so he can push up into a sitting position, but
its no use. Hes weak from hunger and blood loss. He can barely keep his eyes open.
A sigh. Tedious.
The sound of footsteps, and then Draco is seized by the hair and pulled upright. Pain screams out
across his back and Draco cries out in agony, vision swimming and wounds splitting open again.
The pain is so abrupt and all-encompassing that he doesnt even notice that something is fastened
around his neck until after the fact.
When the hand releases him, Draco collapses again, trembling and weak. There is a definite
heaviness around his neck, and with a shaking hand he reaches up and touches it.
It seems to be a large metal collar with a hinge. Its snug around his throat, unornamented by the
feel of it, and cold as ice.
Bartemius has given his diagnosis. He deems you ready. This is the last piece, one that will
ensure long-term effectiveness.
Draco has no idea what he means. His mind is too heavy with pain.
It is still very much like a drug-induced delirium. In the back of his mind, Draco recalls hating the
sensation when he first experienced it but after so many days of endless agony, delirium is a big
step up. His body relaxes. The pain dulls. He feels, for the first time in quite some time, like he
might actually be able to fall asleep.
Stand up.
STAND UP, echoes the voice in Dracos mind.
Draco stands. It is easy to stand. He is still shackled to the floor, but the chains allow him just
enough leeway to rise to his full composure.
Open your eyes.
Had they been closed? Draco had scarcely noticed. Everything is so very hazy and uncoordinated
and nice. He opens his eyes. Lord Voldemort is standing across from him, robed in black, and
Draco is not afraid. Draco feels nothing at all. He has not been told to feel anything.
So obedient, little bird.

So obedient, little bird.

Draco is pleased. He is not sure why. He smiles deliriously.
Give me your hands.
As far as the chains will allow, he stretches his arms out toward him. The Dark Lord steps forward
and produces a ring of keys from his robe, with which he unlocks the shackles around his wrists.
They fall to the floor with two loud, startling clatters, but Draco does not jump. He stares down at
his hands, still outstretched, at the red, raw, blistered skin of his wrists.
Follow me.
He opens the heavy iron door and walks out. Draco follows. He is lightheaded, and when he
comes into the light of the hallway, he is strangely startled.
His surroundings are familiar, but he cant quite tell from where. He follows him down the
corridor and into another room.
It has a large, spelled window that fills it with magical daylight. It has a desk and an armoire made
of handsome mahogany. It has a bed. The bed looks wonderful, so soft and inviting with blue
sheets, and Draco wants nothing more than to collapse on it and fall asleep for days
Do you like this room?
Draco opens his mouth, but all he can manage is a soft, hoarse sound. Hes done nothing but
scream for so long, his voice is mostly gone.
The Dark Lord swoops toward him and presses his wand to Dracos throat, just above the heavy
metal collar. At once, the pain subsides and Draco takes a deep, refreshing breath.
He smiles at Draco, and it is all teeth.
Yes, Draco says. Yes, I like this room very much.
Good, the Dark Lord responds. This room is yours if you pass your first test.
Draco does not understand. The Dark Lord gestures behind Draco, toward the door from whence
they just arrived, and Draco turns.
At first, Draco is sure he is hallucinating.
Professor Snape?
He is ashen white, more so than usual, with a tenseness in his shoulders and a tremor in his hands.
He is staring at Draco as though he is only barely controlling his desire to scream.
Your godfather, the Dark Lord says from behind, was one of the first in the graveyard when I
returned. In these ensuing weeks, he has become invaluable to me. He is very close to many of
our enemies. I am sure he will be very useful.
Dracos brow knits. All of a sudden, the sleepy delirium of the Imperius curse feels

I understand you are very close, says the Dark Lord, almost crooning. Im sure this is difficult
for you, Severus.
Yes, My Lord, Professor Snape manages. His voice is hoarse and tight.
But it is for a very good cause. Surely you see the value of having young Mr. Malfoy, here, on
our side.
Yes, My Lord. It has precisely the same inflection as the last time he said it.
Little bird
Two spider-like hands rest on Dracos shoulders. A shiver grips him, and the motion of it sets off
little sparks of pain down his spine. Draco fights through them.
... this is your first test.
I dont understand, Draco says.
I need to know that this curse will hold, even when my orders are unpalatable, the Dark Lord
says. He is speaking very closely to Dracos ear. Draco can smell Dark Magic. I need to know
you will truly obey.
Cast the Cruciatus curse.
Draco is seized with sudden terror. The Cruciatus curse? On Professor Snape?
No Draco stammers, no, I cant!
Right at that moment, there is a sharp pricking sensation on his neck, beneath the snug metal
collar. Something stabs him shallowly over his carotid artery and
it is like fire, liquid fire under his skin, boiling and blinding, an incredible and intense pain, as
bad as anything hed endured under Bartemius. At once, Draco collapses onto his knees, then
onto all fours, and the liquid fire spreads ever wider.
Oh, little bird, the Dark Lord sighs, voice mild, did you think the collar was just a metaphor?
Draco is in so much pain that his vision tunnels momentarily. He is in so much pain that he forgets
how to speak.
Its all right, Draco, Professor Snape says suddenly. Its all right. Draco look at me
That burning you felt was a drop just a drop of venom from my familiar, Nagini, the Dark
Lord interjects. The collar is spelled to administer one drop every time you resist my Imperius
The pain is still radiating through Dracos body in gradually lessening waves. Draco is only barely
able to understand.
It is a very potent venom, as you can tell, he continues. Disobey too frequently and I cannot

promise the dosage will be survivable.

Draco struggles to catch up with his breath. His addled mind, still so broken and hazy from abuse,
spins as it works he could never he could never not on Professor Snape
Cast the Cruciatus curse.
CAST THE CRUCIATUS CURSE, repeats the voice in his head and no, no, Draco will not
torture Professor Snape, he must not
Liquid fire, deadly venom, pain, God, so much pain, it hurts, it is unbearable, Draco screams and
burns and it is too much, far too much
Draco, its all right! Professor Snapes voice is desperate. I have survived worse, Draco,
please, just do it, do it, Draco, do not fight him!
Do it, little bird.
Draco hurts so much. Too much. It is all too much. He doesnt have any fight left. There is
nothing, nothing, nothing.
Draco, please, its all right, its all right
Draco lifts his head. He can barely see through all the tears. Professor Snape is kneeling in front of
him, stooped, the gait of a man who wants to help but is afraid of hurting. Dracos mind is full of
memories, Professor Snape teaching him differential calculus, Professor Snape explaining
Newtonian physics, Professor Snape buying him his first telescope, sharing birthday cake, telling
Draco he loves him
Draco sobs. It hurts so badly. The memories pulse in time with the venom surging through his
veins. Professor.
Its all right, Professor Snape whispers. Draco, its all right, please, dont fight it.
He extends his hand. His treacherous hand, his shaking hand, his bloodied, broken, blistered hand,
he splays his fingers.
Professor, he says again, sobbing, voice choked.
Its all right, Professor Snape says, its all right.
It is not all right and Draco knows it. He sobs again. The word sticks in his throat before he
manages, Crucio.
The scream that follows brings a pain far worse than the venom ever could.
And there is nothing, nothing, nothing.

8 July, 1995
There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.
Neil Gaiman

What surprises Draco most is the self-awareness of it all.

Perhaps his mind, rational to the last, just cant make sense of it any other way. Draco knows he is
under the Imperius curse. He knows that he is acting profoundly out-of-character. He knows that
he should be frantic, horrified, guilty, frightened by the things he is forced to do.
But he is not any of those things, because he is under the Imperius curse. Its a closed, neat little
cycle that explains itself.
Bartemius brings him ingredients and a cauldron and tells him to brew distilled essence of
nightshade, one of the deadliest poisons in the world. Draco knows that it will be used to kill
people. He brews it anyway.
Avery brings him a map of Azkaban and asks him to devise a way inside. Draco knows the plan
will be used to release war criminals. He comes up with it anyway.
In the beginning he resisted. Some little piece of himself that the curse did not touch fought back,
telling him no, this is wrong, this goes against every moral fiber in your body. And Draco would
be stung with venom and he would scream with pain. And then that part of him would be quiet.
Everything he does is still menial, of course. Draco is still locked up in his room with the bed and
magical window at all hours because they are waiting to make sure that the curse has fully settled
and that Draco will not disobey. Honestly, Dracos just glad for the break.
He sleeps, he eats properly and regularly, he bathes, he heals, he puts on some of the weight he
lost, he even manages to do some basic exercises. The memories of torture are still fresh and vivid
and raw in his mind and some nights he wakes up screaming, his head full of ripping flesh and
needles in his skin and hot iron on his back.
Sometimes he wishes Professor Snape was there to help him make sense of it. Other times he does
Either way, Professor Snape does not show up. Draco wonders why.
Every night, Lord Voldemort visits him and they speak. He seems to like Draco. Draco is not sure
how to feel about that. It was strange at first, talking casually to the Dark Lord, the most feared
man in the world, but it became easier. Their conversations are surprisingly intelligent and candid.
Lord Voldemort, as it turns out, is a gifted conversationalist.
Sometimes they speak about magical theory, sometimes about current events. Once, they spent
nearly two hours discussing Nietzschean nihilism and its practical implications on everyday life.
His intelligence and perceptiveness astonishes Draco.

And Draco is rather surprised to find himself looking forward to the visits. He doesnt talk to
anyone else, after all, and he does get a little lonely.
I think youre nearly ready for your final test, he says one evening, sitting neatly at Dracos desk
chair as Draco brushes his hair by the vanity. Its been quite some time since youve had a taste
of Naginis milk.
Three days, Draco confirms. He looks in the vanity mirror at the collar. It is made of heavy
silver-plated iron. It took several days for Draco to get used to the weight of it around his neck.
The Dark Lord rises to his feet and crosses the room, coming to stand behind Draco. In the slight
warping of the mirror, he seems even more impossibly tall and thin. He lifts one hand and strokes
it through Dracos hair.
He has been doing that a lot stroking Dracos hair. It makes Draco think of Harry, who did the
same, but the similarities end quite abruptly. Harrys hands are warm and calloused. Voldemorts
are cold and smooth, like marble.
Sometimes Draco wishes Harry were here. Mostly he does not.
All of my orders up till now have been short-term, the Dark Lord says as he idly pets at Dracos
hair. I have one simple long-term order.
Draco watches him silently.
Be loyal to me.
BE LOYAL TO ME, the voice in Dracos head repeats. MY GOALS ARE YOUR GOALS. MY
In Dracos next breath, it is so. In Dracos next breath, the only thing in the world that matters to
him is the Dark Lords rise to power.
Are you ready for your last test?
Yes, My Lord.
A smile curves onto the Dark Lords pale lips.
Supplicant is a good look on you, little bird. Nott!
Theres a muffled consternation on the other side of the heavy door. Shouting, thumping,
If you pass this test, little bird, the Dark Lord says, his long fingers carding through Dracos
hair, I will give you the Mark and have you at my side. If you pass this test, you will earn my
trust. Do you want that, little bird?
And he does. He does so badly it physically hurts that he does not have it all right now. Yes, My
Lord, he says, softly, staring intensely at his reflection, at the gleaming red eyes. Very much.
The Dark Lord makes a small, low sound. The fingers in Dracos hair curl slightly. There was a
time it feels like so long ago that you would have evoked quite a marked reaction in me, little
Draco thinks he understands, but he does not dare presume. What reaction is that, My Lord?

The hand in Dracos hair stills, then retracts. Draco feels strangely bereft. How dreadfully
maudlin of me, he drawls.
Right at that moment, the door slams open and Draco hears a high, feminine scream. He turns
toward the source of the sound.
His mother, hugely pregnant and thrashing, is pulled into the room by Avery and Nott.
Draco feels nothing but surprise.
This is your final test, the Dark Lord says. Tie her to the wall.
Avery and Nott do just that, ignoring the way his mother thrashes and kicks and screams, with a
series of simple but strong spells that bind her arms above her head. Her hair is mussed and her
make-up is smudged.
Let her go, let her go, screams a voice and quite to Dracos surprise, he recognizes it as his
fathers from beyond. Draco can see him through the door, held back by two others, reaching
out toward her. My Lord, please have mercy Narcissa!
And shut the door, the Dark Lord says impatiently.
No! No! Narcissa!
Lucius! his mother sobs, and Avery flicks his wand. The door slams shut.
I noticed the memory charms, by the way, the Dark Lord says to Draco. His voice is easy,
casual, as though he were remarking on the weather. Narcissa collapses into frantic sobbing, her
hair covering her face. Masterful work. Very thorough job. Its a wonder you managed to keep it
up so long, considering their numerous connections to the outside world.
I Draco is staring at his mother. He cant stop staring at her. She is sobbing. She is so
extremely pregnant. She must be at least two weeks past her due date, by Dracos estimation.
There is something small in the back of Dracos mind that twists uncomfortably.
Still, for the purposes of the test, it would not do to keep it up.
The Dark Lord moves toward her, and Narcissa cries and quails before him, muttering things like
please and no and my baby. He pays attention to none of it. He produces his wand from his sleeve
and puts it to her forehead, and with a soft spell, removes the memory charm.
Her sobbing hitches a moment; her eyes glaze slightly as the spellwork crumbles around her.
Dracos mouth is half-open. The little something in his mind is twisting with more strength,
making him more uncomfortable.
Her eyes refocus, moving past the Dark Lord and landing on
Draco. The word is hoarse, broken. Draco Draco!
Draco jerks. He is startled. His hands are trembling. He does not feel anything. Except perhaps
uncomfortable. He feels very uncomfortable.
Oh, my God Draco, my baby what have how did I Draco!

She thrashes all the harder, screaming his name, tears pouring down her cheeks.
Your final test, the Dark Lord says, and he is suddenly beside him. Kill her.
It is unlikely that his mother heard the command through the sound of her own sobbing, but Draco
heard it with perfect clarity. He stares at his mother and feels nothing. He feels nothing at all. Just
This is the absolute test of devotion, he tells Draco. I want you to put nothing and no one
above me. Only then can I be satisfied of your loyalty. Only then can I trust you. Do you want me
to trust you, little bird?
Draco says nothing. He is staring at his mother. He doesnt feel anything. Just uncomfortable. Just
a tiny pinprick of pain in the back of his head. Just a knot in his throat and clammy hands.
My sister is inside of her, Draco says.
Indeed, she is, the Dark Lord answers.
Killing her means killing my sister, Draco says. His voice is neutral because he does not feel
anything except an itch, a prickle, a slight pain, a cold sweat on the back of his neck. Are your
orders for me to kill them both, My Lord?
My orders were for you to kill your mother, the Dark Lord says. I said nothing of your sister. If
you feel some impetus to save your sisters life, I would advise coming up with a way to achieve
both goals.
Draco, Draco, his mother sobs, and no, she has not heard their conversation. She does not
understand what the Dark Lord just asked of him.
I dont know anything about performing a Cesarean section, Draco says quietly.
I shouldnt imagine you would have to know all that much, the Dark Lord replies.
Draco supposes that is true. He flexes his wand hand.
Draco, my baby, please, please
Draco moves forward. His legs are stiff, his hands are clammy, and he feels nothing, he feels
nothing, there is nothing, nothing, nothing.
Draco, Draco
He presses a single finger to the side of her abdomen, over the luxurious blue velvet of her
maternity gown. He concentrates his magic and pulls.
His mother screams and hot blood pours over Dracos hand, but Draco keeps pulling.

9 July, 1995
We must take care of our families wherever we find them.
Elizabeth Gilbert

Draco knows he would otherwise be horrified. He knows he would be disgusted with himself.
But with those emotions kept at bay by the Imperius curse, he finds it strangely comforting. Poetic,
For the first time, all the theories of social justice are put into extreme clarity. Humans really are all
the same. Peel back the superficial layers of lifestyle and religion and skin color and they are all
just red viscera and bone. Bags of meat with the accidental miracle of sentience.
He is coated up to mid-bicep with gore, his chest and stomach splattered with blood. His mother is
sagged against the wall, still and quiet and carved open, her womb a red and gaping maw. Draco
sits on the floor in a large smear of her blood.
He has just managed to get his sister to stop crying.
There, Draco whispers. Thats better.
She gurgles and fusses in his arms.
Draco wipes away a glob of blood and placenta from her face. She is beautiful, the most
incredibly beautiful thing Draco has ever seen, even covered in blood and freshly ripped from her
mothers womb.
You have the Black nose, Draco tells her. He knows she cant understand him, he knows that
talking to her is pointless. He talks anyway. Thin, with a slight upward slope. Youll look very
much like your mother.
She gurgles again and kicks her legs. Draco hushes her and kisses her forehead, tasting the salty
tang of warm blood.
The tradition of my mothers family is to name children after stars, constellations, and other
astronomical objects, Draco informs her. I was named after the constellation Draco, the dragon,
which is near the north star. In mythology, the dragon is famous for getting killed in a myriad of
spectacular ways, mostly. Also there was a tyrant named Draco. I always did wonder why they
chose a name for me with such unfortunate implications. I suppose theres something to be said
about the strength and ferocity of a dragon, though Ive never been particularly strong or
She makes a sort of yelping sound and to Dracos ear its very close to a laugh. Draco smiles and
offers her his finger, which she eagerly grips. His heart dissolves in his chest. He knows it is a
gesture of pure instinct, but it doesnt make it less wonderful to feel her little hand curling around
his index finger.

Theres a constellation Ive always liked called Lyra, Draco says. Ancient Grecian wizards
named it after the lyre of the great bard Orpheus. It was a beautiful gilded instrument that Orpheus
used to charm great beasts and monsters even stones. Can you imagine? A musician so skilled
with an instrument so masterful that he could charm stones.
She brings Dracos finger to her mouth and begins gnawing at it. Draco doesnt stop her.
The brightest star in the constellation of Lyra is Vega, which is one of the most well-studied stars
in the sky, he says. Its very bright, you know. It used to be the north star and it will be again
But I think the best thing about the constellation Lyra is that it is bordered to the north by the
constellation Draco.
She gurgles around his finger.
It sort of wraps around like hes guarding it.
Draco swallows. His eyes are burning and his throat is a bit tight.
Do you like that name? Lyra? Lyra Malfoy?
She doesnt answer, of course. She keeps gumming on his fingertip, staring at him with those
wide eyes that are that particular shade of blue that only a baby has.
With his other fingers he strokes her cheek.
I hope this doesnt scare you, Lyra, Draco says, but I am startled and terrified by the depth of
how desperately and completely I love you.
She stares up at him. She doesnt seem scared.
I love you very, very much, he continues, his throat getting progressively tighter. I want to
protect you and raise you and love you until were both old and grey. Would that be all right with
you? I hope so. I dont think youll ever be able to keep me away.
I know why the Dark Lord has given you to me. I know he wants to use you as another method
of controlling me. I knew it from the start. Its worked, Lyra. The thought of protecting you
controls me more completely than any Imperius curse ever could.
I will do anything for you, Draco continues, surprising himself by how fast and brokenly the
words are coming. I will kill for you. I will die for you. There is no magic strong enough to
change that, Lyra.
Lyra yawns and blinks her eyes shut. Draco drops his voice to a whisper before he continues:
Sleep now, he whispers, Ill be with you.
Draco hums an old French lullaby under his breath and rocks her in his arms until her breathing
slows and she settles in to sleep. Dracos legs tingle uncomfortably from the way he sits on them
but he does not dare move. He wants to stay just like this forever, with his baby sister curled up
and sleeping in his arms, with her little heart beating against his chest, and her hand gripping his
Oh, how precious.

Draco lifts his head. The Dark Lord is standing in the threshold, hands clasped, staring adoringly
down at him. He is speaking quietly, as though he knows she is sleeping. Something in the back
of Dracos head prickles. Defensiveness. It seeps through the barriers of the Imperius curse like a
sieve. Draco does not let on.
The Dark Lord moves forward, his footsteps wet in the blood that coats the floor, and crouches
down next to him.
Does she have a name? he asks.
Lyra, Draco replies.
Lyra, Lord Voldemort repeats, his voice almost fond. A beautiful name. Traditional, yet
The Dark Lord strokes a single finger through Lyras hair and something very deep inside Draco
twitches. He knows exactly what this is. It is a show of dominance, a reminder of power
dynamics. He does because he can, because Draco has no choice, because the Dark Lord is in
control. Dracos eyes move from the hand in his sisters hair to his face. That deep-seated instinct
rages not against but alongside the curse in strange and inscrutable ways that Draco cant identify.
The Dark Lord gazes back at him, red eyes still and sure.
Its well after midnight, he says. Lyra is not the only one who should be sleeping.
Draco swallows his discomfort and looks back toward the bed. Its no place for a baby. And his
mothers corpse will doubtlessly start to stink before long.
Ive arranged a new bedroom for you, complete with a cot, the Dark Lord says.
Draco is silent for a moment before he says, Thank you.
You passed the test, he says, gesturing one pale hand towards the bloody, eviscerated corpse of
his mother still strung to the wall. I always keep my promises, little bird. In the morning, I except
you at my side. You will make, I am sure, a spectacular right hand.
With some difficulty, Draco rises to his feet. The blood that had soaked through his trousers
sluices down his shins toward his feet.
Who will take care? Draco begins.
Little bird, do you not recognize your own home?
It takes Draco a moment to put the pieces together. Were this is the Malfoy Manor?
The very same, he answers, rising to his feet and looming down over Draco. In the fairly
extensive dungeon system beneath the foundation. I suppose its understandable that you never
came down here.
Indeed, Draco never had. He had been made aware of its existence, told stories by the house-elves
of how they were used back when the Malfoy Barony was more than just a title but an actual
authority in wizarding Wiltshire, but he had never gone down to explore. Their mere existence
had always frightened Draco more than he had ever admitted.
Your house-elves will be able to look after her, he says, with a strange, cryptic smile. Go
upstairs and put little Lyra to bed. Take a bath. Eat. In the morning, come down to the drawing
room. There is much to plan.

10 July, 1995
Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the
strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.
Winston Churchill

When Draco emerges from the ensuite with a long green robe tied around his waist, the first thing
he sees is his father standing over Lyras cot.
His back is to Draco and his shoulders are trembling slightly. Draco hesitates a moment, then
clears his throat.
His father turns around. His eyes are bloodshot and his hair is unkempt. He looks an absolute
wreck, and Draco does not feel anything.
I gather that His Lordship removed the memory charm, Draco says.
His father doesnt answer. He stares at Draco as he crosses to the mirror and starts vigorously
drying his hair with the towel over his arm.
I didnt really have the opportunity to get your input, Draco continues, but Ive already named
her Lyra.
Still, his father says nothing. Draco can see him reflected in the mirror, staring at Draco as starts
combing his still-damp hair back. The expression on his fathers face is inscrutable, and his body
language is a mess of conflicting signs. Heartache in his face, rage in his fists, sadness in his
You might as well just say whats on your mind, Father, Draco says. It wont get any easier if
you keep it to yourself.
A moment of silence stretches between them. He hesitates, visibly, and when Draco sets the comb
down, he crosses the space between them and gathers Draco into his arms.
To say Draco is startled would be a tremendous understatement; he is shocked. Of all the possible
reactions for which Draco had been preparing, this had not been one of them.
Draco, he says into his hair, his arms firm around him, and Merlin, it feels utterly alien it has
been so very, very long, years, a lifetime. Draco, my son, what have I done what have I driven
you to?
Draco says nothing. His father smells like strong English Breakfast and cigarettes, like settled
leather and expensive cologne.
I drove you away, he says, voice breaking, and now
I would have thought this was what you wanted, Draco says, extricating himself from his

fathers arms to look up at him severely.

He sets his face. No, he says, never.
You spent my entire life disappointed that I wasnt your perfect little purist soldier, Draco
counters, frowning. I never lived up to your standards of what the future Lord Malfoy should be.
I was never
Draco, he interjects, grabbing him by both shoulders. There is urgency in his eyes, purpose, but
also a certain tragedy. You were difficult. Impossible, sometimes. Its not easy being parent to a
child whos smarter than you. But I never wanted you to change. Let alone let alone have
change forced up on you.
Draco does not feel anything at that remark. It may hold some substantial emotional meaning to
him, but not with the curse. With the curse, it is meaningless. Draco does not feel a thing and he
does not react.
But it is better this way, Draco says. I am sure you are glad to have me on the winning side of
this war. Arent you?
His fathers hands retract and he stares at Draco measuringly. It is a test and clearly his father is
aware of as much. Lucius Malfoy is not a genius, but he is also not stupid.
Of course I am, he says, lying so convincingly that Draco nearly believes him.
And Im sure you agree that the ends justify the unfortunate means.
His face is perfectly composed. Draco knows there is absolutely no way his father is without
resentment towards the Dark Lord for ordering the murder of his wife. The question is how much
exists and what, if anything, he plans on doing about it. Dracos new prime directive is to see the
Dark Lord rise to power, and he will not let anyone, including his father, hinder it.
Sacrifices are always necessary in war, his father says. His voice is so very careful. He has
always been excellent at telling people what they precisely what they need to hear.
Draco snatches his robe from where its draped over a chair. You should go down to the drawing
room, he says. His Lordship has called a meeting of the inner council at eight.
He ducks behind the dressing screen and sets to changing. He doesnt hear the sound of footsteps
that might signal his fathers departure.
I think it would be proper if her middle name was Narcissa.
Dracos hands do not fumble. The comment does not evoke any particular reaction, none at all.
Yes, Draco answers. I think that is suitable.
Another moment of silence. Draco fastens the robe. His father leaves the room without another
word, and the door clicks shut behind him.
A few minutes later, Draco is dressed and walking downstairs. Lyra is sleeping soundly in her cot,
and Draco left orders with the house-elves to feed her when she wakes up. He reaches the bottom
of the stairs just as the Dark Lord emerges from around a corner, tale and spare and pale, robes
billowing around his feet.
My Lord, Draco greets, bowing shallowly.

Good morning, little bird, the Dark Lord says. His tone is strangely affectionate. How is the
Sleeping soundly, My Lord. The house-elves think her healthy, but Id like to have her taken to a
mediwizard all the same, just for a routine check-up.
Im sure something can be arranged. They stop outside the door to the drawing room, and the
Dark Lord looks over him appraisingly. Thats a good color on you, little bird.
Draco looks down at himself. Hed chosen a well-fitted gray robe with a white cravat.
You should wear it more often.
WEAR IT MORE OFTEN. The order comes as something of a surprise to Draco, and he wonders
why what color he wears is worthy of a direct command. Before he can ask, their attention is
drawn away by Professor Snape, who moves into the corridor accompanied by a house-elf, Dolly.
My Lord, he says to the Dark Lord, though his eyes remain firmly on Draco.
Severus, the Dark Lord returns. His smile is strange and crooked. Go on in. We will be with
you shortly.
Professor Snape hesitates. His eyes are still on Draco, as though he wants to say something to him,
but whatever it is seems to be relegated. He inclines his head and moves into the drawing room.
Draco watches him go.
Does it bother you, Draco says once the drawing room door closes behind him, that Professor
Snape is an agent of Dumbledore?
Funnily enough, no, the Dark Lord answers. I dont need his loyalty. He provides invaluable
information regardless of his allegiance. Even when he lies, theres something to be gleaned. So
long as I control what he knows, his benefits outweigh his risks.
Youve known all along? Draco asks, looking sideways at him.
I knew before he did.
Somehow, Draco is both surprised and not surprised at the same time. Does he know you
Oh, of course, he replies easily. Its a game we play.
Draco hums. Together they walk into the drawing room.
A long table is set up, though its rather underoccupied. Only the members of the inner circle are
in attendance Draco, Professor Snape, Dracos father, Bartemius, Avery, Nott, Macnair and
though early morning daylight is filtering in through the windows, it is somehow insufficient,
leaving the room feeling dreary and dark. Its a feeling that is only strengthened, Draco is sure, by
the overpowering presence of the Dark Lord.
We have several goals which must be prioritized and executed, Lord Voldemort begins without
preamble, sinking down into a chair at the end of the table. Draco sits just to his right, across from
Snape, to his immediate left. Snape catches his eyes, and Draco smirks at him.
My lengthy absence forces us to start from scratch, the Dark Lord continues, but it is not an
insurmountable difficulty. I nearly did it once, and I dont intend any more mishaps. As it stands,

our primarily priorities should be infiltrating the Ministry of Magic, infiltrating Hogwarts, ridding
ourselves of Albus Dumbledore, and freeing my supporters from Azkaban.
All due respect, My Lord, Draco interjects, but I think our first priority should be gathering up
all of your Horcruxes and putting them in new hiding spots.
An unsteady quiet falls over the table. It takes Draco a moment to realize the cause of it.
Sorry, he says belatedly, were they supposed to be a secret?
He looks to the Dark Lord, who raises an eyebrow at Draco and looks, more than anything,
Because I figured out they existed when I was twelve, Draco continues, and I destroyed one
myself. You can be sure I told Albus Dumbledore, and Im certain he hasnt been idle since then. I
wouldnt be surprised if hes already managed to track a few down. We need to get them back and
make safe any remaining ones.
My Lord Nott suddenly says, what exactly is a?
The Dark Lord silences him with a stern gesture of his cadaverous hand.
Lead a team, he tells Draco. Youll need one. Ill tell you where to go and what to expect. I
trust you have something in mind to hide them?
Im wounded that you need ask, My Lord.
He smiles viciously. Excellent, he says. Take Bartemius, Avery, and Greyback. I presume that
will be sufficient?
Draco has come to trust Bartemiuss creativity and genius these past weeks, if nothing else. And
Avery (the senior, at least), is an accomplished duellist. Greyback is out of his mind, but at least
hes out of his mind in predictable and controllable ways.
Very, Draco decides.
Good. Lets discuss an itinerary.
Draco nods and looks over to Snape, who is sitting stiffly in his high-back chair and staring at
Draco with dark, inscrutable eyes. Draco does not feel a thing.

21 July, 1995
Love is everything its cracked up to be. Thats why people are so cynical about it. It really is
worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
Erica Jong

Still cant believe were taking orders from a fucking pup, says Greyback for the fourth time that
Shut the fuck up, Greyback, Draco says, pulling himself over the sheer rock face.
Ill rip open your goddamn neck, whelp.
Youll watch your fucking tongue, dog, Avery interjects. Unless youd like to make your
excuses to the Dark Lord.
Draco straightens against the howling wind off the sea. The mouth of the cave looms down over
them, dark and terrible, and their black hooded cloaks flutter and hiss in protest. Draco casts a
nonverbal lumos and holds his hand, now glowing with brilliant golden light. It seems to barely
illuminate a foot into the oppressive darkness of the cave.
Avery moves next to him. Is this it? With his hood up, Draco can only just make out the features
of his face a scruffy beard thats a bit more salt than pepper, crows feet, a Roman nose, sharp
Dont see how it cant be, Draco returns. No mistaking a giant cave in a rock in the middle of
the sea.
Were being watched, Bartemius says suddenly.
I know, Draco says. I saw them from the shore.
Bartemius turns and glowers at him. And you didnt think of pointing it out?
Were being watched? Avery repeats.
Greybacks nostrils flare and he inhales deeply. A moment later, his lips pull back from his teeth
and he growls low in the back of his throat.
Keep your fucking voices down, Draco snaps. We can still have the upper hand if they think
were unsuspecting.
Who is it? Avery asks.
Likely some of the Order. Im sure its reformed by now.
What are your orders, Malfoy? Greyback asks, voice low and snarling.

My orders are to fucking be quiet and follow my lead, Draco answers. He gives his hand a
shake, dispelling the lumos, and moves forward over the uneven stone, through the gale and ocean
spray, toward the mouth of the cave. The others fall into step behind him.
He knows that theyre perched behind a large boulder next to the entrance of the cave, likely
thinking they can ambush them. He knows that there are four of them, and that they havent been
here long. Draco sees the spiders web of possibilities radiating like a map in his head, and when
hes decided on the best course of action, he stops just sort of the radius they would need to attack
and calls
Congratulations! That was very nearly a well-executed plan.
Then he hurls an explosion hex at the boulder.
The sound is tremendous. Shards of stone go flying in all directions, and Bartemius is quick to
throw up a shield that catches several before they have a chance to land on anyone in their party.
Theres a force of magic that comes roaring out of the dust and debris and the battle is on.
It is a flurry of shouts and energy and sound. There are four of the Order, though in the darkness
Draco cant quite make out who. Spells go flying, and Draco burns with the heat of the fight,
slinging curses and shields and counterspells.
One of them deftly dodges Dracos slashing hex and fires off an incarcerous, which comes flying
at Draco like a silvery web, but Draco has his hand on his panic button and he uses it to warp out
of the way, which takes him into the mouth of the cave. He hears footsteps behind him, and Draco
takes off in a run, down and down and down, into what looks like an underground lake.
Petrificus totalus
Aspernari! The spell rebounds off a sheer layer of magic. Theyve come to a stop by the edge of
a vast, underground late. Draco stops at the edge of the water and whirls. I hope you werent
expecting to surprise me!
His assailant stops, caught under a thick shadow, face obscured.
Silence passes, deep and dreadful. Harry steps forward. He seems taller, darker, more dangerous.
Draco whistles.
Savage is a good look on you.
Cant say Death Eater is a good one on you, Harry returns. His hand is wringing around his
Well, Im not a big fan of the silly silver masks or the tattoo, but one copes as one must.
Harry laughs once, then grimaces, as though laughing or rather, the reminder that Draco can
make him laugh is painful. He grips his wand a bit tighter.
Id ask what brings you here, Draco says, but I make a point of never asking questions I know
the answer to. Scrambling to get to the Horcruxes, are we? That little ambush of yours was
obviously last minute.

We were a bit underprepared, Harry admits, moving forward in slow, uncertain steps. It would
be a lot easier if you would help.
Doubtlessly. Apart from one rather enormous fuck-up, I do tend to be the smartest person in
every room.
Help us, then, Harry says.
Draco raises an eyebrow. You do know how the Imperius curse works, right? You were actually
paying attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts?
I was, Harry says. And I saw you break it.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news
I know you can do it again.
Draco sets his face. Not going to happen.
Even in the darkness, Harrys too-green eyes seem to burn. Draco is suddenly full of memories of
those eyes smiling at him, staring at him as Draco studied, devouring him at the Yule Ball.
Something prickles at the back of Dracos neck.
Harry lowers his wand and spreads his arms. Kill me, then.
Draco could. He probably should. Harry is his enemy. He keeps his wand hand out, fingers
Kill me, Harry says again, with more volume.
Dont be so dramatic, Draco deflects, and he should kill him, one quick Avada Kedavra, it
would be over just like that. The prickling at the back of Dracos neck gets stronger. It feels an
awful lot like the pain Draco felt the first time he was put under the Imperius, at the front of the
You cant, Harry says. You cant. A part of you is still fighting. Draco, you are stronger than
this curse! You always have been!
That is sentimental nonsense. But Draco is still not killing him, and the pain is still there.
I had visions of you, Harry says, and his voice is suddenly thick with emotion. Every night. I
saw everything those those monsters had to do to break you. All the shit they had to put you
through just to bring down the walls. That would have killed anyone else, and they had to do it
just to control you. Thats how strong you are, thats how strong you can be again.
Harrys voice is desperate now. Hes close. When had he gotten so close? Draco flexes his fingers
and backs away in time until water laps at the heel of his boot.
Kill him. Draco should kill him. Draco should kill him.
But there is not nothing. There is something. It is small and it is fragile but it is something and it is
getting stronger the longer he stares at Harry and
Theres a pinprick on his neck and a familiar pain suddenly floods Dracos body. He grits his teeth
and makes a strangled sound, doubling forward. That unbearable liquid fire burns its way across

and makes a strangled sound, doubling forward. That unbearable liquid fire burns its way across
his skin and Draco is undone. With one hand he grips the collar around his neck.
Theres a sudden thunderous crash from the mouth of the cave. Dust and stone rain down and its
loud enough to distract Draco from the pain and Harry from Draco, loud enough to let the curse
reassert. Avery and Greyback come barrelling inside like a force of nature. Draco spins on one
foot and kicks a rock into the water.
Greyback! Draco calls, and he holds out one arm. Greyback shoves past Potter just as the black
surfaces of the lake shudders and ripples and the dark shadows begin moving out.
Harry staggers away from the edge of the water as the Inferius come shambling from the depths.
Greyback grabs Draco around the waist and, with one tremendous leap, bounds nearly twenty
yards in the air and three times as far, landing on the small island in the middle of the water.
Make it fast, pup, Greyback snarls, and Draco quickly regains his footing. Hes still dizzy with
pain from the sudden jolt of venom but he pushes it aside and dives for the basin of water.
Are they dead? he asks.
One of em nearly, Greyback answers shortly. And I think Averys taking care of the boy
Draco stills and looks back over his shoulder. Harry and Avery are duelling on the other side of
the water as the Inferi shamble up from the depths of the water and Draco has to go back he has to
go back Harry is in danger he needs to
Hnngghhha! Draco braces both hands on the edge of the large bowl full of potion that covers
the Horcrux, God, the pain is unbearable, he lifts a hand to the collar around his neck and stop it
stop it stop it
Hurry the fuck up, Greyback snarls and with a concentrated force of will that can only be
described as herculean, Draco pushes the pain aside. He shoves up his sleeve and puts his finger
to his Dark Mark.
Magic of thy maker, Draco says through his teeth, and the Dark Mark begins to glow, will of
thy master, bend and break and be unmade.
Theres a crack of magic. Draco pushes a hand into the potion and snatches the treasure inside.
Get me out of here, Draco says, and Greyback grabs him around the waist again.

2 August, 1995
You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.
Margaret Atwood

There is an itch.
It first appeared after Draco, Greyback, Bartemius and Avery had all Apparated away from the
island and back to safety.
It is a small itch, starting at the back of his neck and running up to the base of his skull. It is deep,
deeper than skin and muscle, as though its settled directly into his bones.
It gets stronger when Draco thinks of Harry. It is starting to affect Dracos ability to concentrate.
Avery says that youre nearly done.
Draco takes in a sharp breath and turns, but sees only darkness. It takes him a moment to
remember he is wearing heavy, tinted goggles to protect against the blinding sparks of magic. He
pulls them onto his forehead.
His fathers laboratory is a mess, even by its usual standards. The blackboard is full of complicated
equations that get progressively smaller as they run out of space, and twenty reference books are
left open, scattered across every available surface, save the large table in the center on the table,
Dracos drawn a complicated sigil with the energy from raw magic.
Yes, My Lord, nearly.
I saw the note, the Dark Lord says, moving through the laboratory like ink moves through
water. R.A.B. I might have known the Black boy would betray me.
Grimmauld Place has been turned into the headquarters of the enemy, Draco says, patting chalk
dust off his fingertips, but we do have the advantage in that they dont know its there.
We will arrange for its retrieval in due time, likewise with the diadem, he says. Tell me about
this new hiding spot for the goblet.
The term hiding spot is a bit of a misnomer, My Lord, as it wont really be hidden in any
particular place, Draco says. It will be everywhere and nowhere, at any point in time and space
yet constantly out of reach.
The Dark Lord stops by the chalkboard. His red eyes move across the formulae.
Spacial displacement, he says after a moment.
A magical rift in reality, Draco confirms. It will open and close to your magical signature
alone. It will keep it out of sync with the rest of the universe, out of space and time. It will be

completely beyond reach. Youll have to complete the ceremony, of course, for it to attune itself to
your magic.
He pulls his gaze away from the chalkboard and it lands on Draco.
You, little bird, he says softly, were an excellent investment.
Draco opens his mouth to respond, realizes that he doesnt know what to say, and snaps it shut
Do you know what makes you different from the common rabble?
Determining it to be a rhetorical question, Draco does not respond.
Not your intellect, superior though it is there is nothing you know that could not conceivably be
learned by anyone. What makes you different is the singular trait that cannot be learned, little bird
the spark of creativity.
He moves closer, his robes whispering around his feet. He looms down over Draco, so very close,
and Draco can smell the Dark Magic rippling off him. One of his pale hands reaches up and
strokes through Dracos hair. Draco remains still.
If I had asked any other follower to hide my Horcrux, they would have gone over-the-top
elaborate curses, exotic locales, wards, traps but you. I tell you to hide my Horcrux and you
think to put it outside reality entirely, as if your mind is not bound by the laws that govern the
universe and never has been. That is the true essence of genius.
The hand in Dracos hair curls slightly. The Dark Lord is very, very close now, and Draco is still.
He knows what is happening. He does not know how to react.
Avery tells me there was a bit of a skirmish outside the cave.
Draco swallows, though theres no point to it because his mouth is dry. Yes, My Lord. A few
members of the Order of the Phoenix were making their own effort to get to it.
He says Harry Potter was there.
The itch is back, strong, so strong it feels more like a burn.
Yes, My Lord.
Red eyes narrow fractionally. White lips curl back from gleaming teeth. The hand in Dracos hair
tightens and Draco makes a small sound of protest, and then
all at once, Draco can feel it, feel him, feel the Dark Lord in his mind, pushing through his
Legilimency, Draco belatedly realizes he knows the Dark Lord is a superb legilimens, but hed
never demonstrated the talent on Draco; thered never been call to.
Why didnt you attack?
His voice is soft, dangerous. Dracos memory at the edge of the lake, of Harrys too-green eyes, of
the tiny little something that replaced the nothing, is at the forefront of his mind, and the Dark
Lords presence claws at it.
My Lord Its an incredibly painful sensation.

My Lord Its an incredibly painful sensation.

What is that? he snarls. What is that sensation you felt? Answer me.
I The hand pulling at his hair, the painful presence in his mind, the oppressive scent of Dark
Magic, its all burning through him. I dont know, I
And then his presence is ripping through the rest of his memories of Harry, Harry at the robe shop,
Harry outside the third-floor corridor, Harrys valentine, Harry and the butterfly, Harry and that
spectacular first kiss, Harry at the Yule Ball, Harry kissing him deeply and thoroughly until
Dracos toes were curling, until Dracos mind was white with pleasure, Harry and his eyes, his
hair, his smell
A darkness comes over Lord Voldemorts eyes.
I do not want you to feel that ever again, he snarls.
My Lord
You hate Harry Potter.
And he does. It is an awkward and unnatural hatred, but it is hatred. Dracos breath stutters, and
the hand in his hair pulls him closer until he stumbles and is pressed into the long, sinewy body of
the Dark Lord.
The idea of him repels you, he says, disgusts you. It is the most intense hatred youve ever
known. Do you understand me?
Dracos breath comes out in wheezes. Yes.
Say it, little bird.
I hate Harry Potter, Draco says. The words feel clumsy on his tongue but the truth of them is
there, weighty and dreadful.
When weve made safe the rest of the Horcruxes, the Dark Lord growls, we will take care of
Harry Potter.
Draco hates Harry Potter and the idea of his death brings Draco satisfaction.
Doesnt it? It must. It does. Yes, it does, surely it does.
The Dark Lord releases his grip on Draco and Draco falls backward into the table, limbs shaking.
And when he storms from the laboratory, leaving Draco alone, the itch is still there.

20 August, 1995
The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature.
Antoine Franois Prvost

One of the more surprising side-effects of the Imperius curse is the way it gives Draco a resistance
to Dementors. Perhaps its because any true part of him is buried down so deeply that it cant be
affected, or perhaps its the similarities between the Dark Magic of the curse and the Dementors.
Either way, he stands by a tower on a rock in the middle of the sea, looking up at an army of them
assembled in the sky, and he feels nothing.
The key is absolute silence, Draco calls, shouting against the howling wind. Dont waste time
giving the Kiss to those who raise an alarm, just kill them. We want this to be fast and efficient
and untraceable.
He pauses, waiting for some sign of comprehension. He doesnt get one. They just hover,
shadows snarling and twisting, seemingly unaffected by the frigid, gale-force winds off the sea.
Start at the bottom and work your way up, he continues. When the building is clear, well
follow you in and start the jailbreak.
He stops again, but when they dont move, he says
They move like ripples toward the dark, menacing tower that is Azkaban. Draco lifts his arm up to
shield his eyes from the wind so he can watch them pass through the narrow, slatted windows as
though they were made of ink.
Its a good plan.
Draco looks over his shoulder. His father is standing just behind him, separated from the small
pack of Death Eaters Draco had elected to take with him.
Of course it is, Draco says. In case you havent noticed, Im extremely smart.
His father smiles joylessly.
The Dark Lords spellwork is impeccable, he says, and Draco cant quite place his tone. He
really has unmade the most fundamental parts of you.
Draco stares at him in silence. A strong gust of wind catches his fathers cloak.
I remember once when you were young, he continues, moving forward so he doesnt have to
shout over the wind, you must have been no more than five or six you were hunting through
the garden for caterpillars for one of your selective breeding experiments, but instead you found a

bird with a badly broken wing. You brought it to me and demanded that we take it straight to St.
Draco remembers that day, too, but he says nothing.
I tried to explain why St. Mungos wouldnt heal a bird, and why it might be better to put the
creature out of its misery after all, it was a very severe break and there was no way it would ever
fly again. But you were absolutely adamant.
A bird is more than flight, Father, you told me, and a life is more than limitations. You insisted
on starting that what did you call it?
Draco Malfoys Home for Handicapable Fauna, Draco says, voice neutral.
First it was the bird, then that garden gnome with the lame leg, then the field mouse. Merlin
knows where you found them all, but you set up a great terrarium in the laboratory for them to live
in, researched their diets, taught yourself basic veterinary medicine
The itching is back at the base of Dracos head. A part of him is almost angry. Whats the point of
this? And why is it making Dracos eyes burn?
That little boy, his father says, voice wan, with an understanding of life beyond his years that
only strengthened his empathy that little boy would never order the murder of so many men.
Dracos hands are not shaking. His throat is not tight. He does not feel anything. He does not feel
I wonder where hes gone.
Sometimes, Draco says, so do I.
The silence that follows is deafening. It lasts too long. Draco wonders if hes said too much.
Draco his father begins, but Draco holds up a hand.
Dont, he says. Dont say anything. Dont give me reason to doubt my certainty that your
benefits outweigh your risks. I need you.
The sentence startles them both, Draco most of all.
We, Draco corrects sharply. He finds he is suddenly breathless. We need you. The cause needs
you. Your your connections, your support
Draco, he says again, but his voice has changed. Its softer. It chews Draco up from the inside
out. There is nothing, nothing, and the nothing is burning him up.
Theres a terrible shrieking sound from behind him, coming from the tower. Draco swallows his
apprehension. He shoves down whatever had been flaring up inside him.
Thats the signal, Draco says, and he turns and strides toward the tower, willing away all that
dreadful, burning, aching nothing.
He stops and looks back, despite his better judgment.
I need you, too. You know that, right?

Even if he wanted to, even if he could, even if he knew what to say, Draco wouldnt have
answered. He stumbles on his way toward the great black doors of Azkaban.

23 August, 1995
In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
Friedrich Nietzsche

So is the rumor true?

Draco stops halfway down the steps and looks over his shoulder.
Her years in Azkaban have not been kind to Bellatrix. Granted, Draco has no point of comparison
he was still an infant when she was arrested but given the state the prison had left her in, there
was really nothing she could have been but better.
In the days since the jailbreak, she has regained most of her faculties, in the sense that she no
longer screams at things that arent there and can hold a conversation that makes some measure of
sense, but she still has a haunted look to her eyes and a strange, frenetic twitch that never seems to
go away.
Good to see you, too, Aunt Bella, he answers neutrally.
Word is that youre the Dark Lords new favorite, she continues as though she hadnt heard
The Dark Lord doesnt have favorites, Draco returns, continuing down the rest of the steps
when she catches up to him. That would imply that he actually likes anyone. Youre deluding
yourself if you think hes actually capable of seeing us as anything but means to his end.
They reach the bottom landing. Bellatrixs face is somewhere between surprised and furious, all of
it tempered by her usual amount of strange mania. How dare you speak ill of His Lordship!
she begins, but Draco cuts her off.
Im not speaking ill of him, Im making an observation. Hes obviously a sociopath. The only
reason he trusts me is because Im under his Imperius curse. He doesnt like me, Im useful to
Of course, theres the strange and uncomfortable attraction or whatever it is he seems to harbor
for Draco. Draco has been thinking about it a lot lately, ever since the Dark Lord ripped through
all of Dracos memories of Harry with what Draco could only describe as jealous abandon, and
wonders how or whether it would escalate.
Draco knows that anyone under the Imperius curse is legally incapable of giving consent. He also
knows that despite the fact that hes an intellectual and emotional match for any adult, he is still
He further knows that none of that would stop the most powerful Dark Wizard in the world from
taking what he wants, should he want it enough and have occasion to take it.

Draco is not as upset as he should be. He cant be as upset as he should be, not with the curse. As
with everything else, he thinks about the Dark Lord escalating, about what is by any reasonable
measure being raped, and he feels absolutely nothing.
All he can do is continue on.
Answer me!
Dracos eyes refocus. They have stopped outside the door of the drawing room, and Bellatrix is
glaring at him.
Sorry, Draco says, did you ask me a question?
Her lips pull back from her teeth in a strangely animalistic snarl, but the look is cut short when a
voice breaks through the silence
Little bird, there you are. You werent in the laboratory.
They both turn. The Dark Lord is striding towards them, all long limbs and billowing robes.
Beside him, Draco hears Bellatrix take in a sharp breath it is the first time she has seen him since
leaving Azkaban.
My Lord, she breathes.
Apologies, Draco says. I was doing a round of check-ups on your followers still in recovery.
How very assiduous of you. His eyes move from Draco and land on Bella, who is wearing an
expression that Draco can only accurately describe as worshipful. Its somewhere between
amusing, worrying, and embarrassing to see. Bella.
My Lord, she says again. I knew you would return.
I have always valued your zealotry, he responds dismissively. Come. Theres much to
Draco pushes open the sitting room door, and the Death Eaters newly reunited, freshly
assembled fall quiet as they enter. The Dark Lord sits first, and Draco takes his usual spot just to
his right, across from Professor Snape.
He smirks at Professor Snape, as always, and Professor Snape does not react, as always. They
have not spoken once since Draco was forced to torture him, and Draco wonders why.
Our new target is the Ministry of Magic, he says, sitting back in his chair and drumming his toolong fingers on the wood of the table. A lofty goal, but the most critical. Its a plan that will
require extreme coordination and careful planning. Draco.
Draco raises an eyebrow. My Lord.
He turns and focuses on Draco. Before the year is out, I need to be the de facto ruler of the
greater wizarding government. Think you can handle that?
Draco pauses, then sits back in his chair.
Turn the Ministry into a puppet regime and lay the framework for a shadow government that
extends throughout the entire system within four months? Draco purses his lips and turns a few
ideas over in his head. Sure, he decides. Should be a fun project.

The Dark Lord smirks viciously. Then I will leave that in your provably capable hands. Its far
too complex a job, of course, for you to think of returning to Hogwarts.
Draco opens his mouth, shuts it, then tries again: Well, I dont imagine Ill lose all that much.
Youre far too valuable to be wasted so far away. Lucius?
Further down the table, his father shifts in his seat. My Lord?
I trust you can withdraw him formally from the roster?
I He pauses, cringes. Yes, My Lord. Of course.
Splendid. The Dark Lord leans forward. Theres a new purpose in his eyes. And while youre
at it you still sit on the Hogwarts Board of Governors, do you not?
He tenses even further. At once, Draco sees where this conversation is going. Yes, My Lord.
Valuable as Severus is as our eyes and ears at Hogwarts, he has long been outnumbered. He
needs another one of us among him, especially now that my reach will be expanding. Avery.
A startled sound. My Lord? Avery returns.
You are, among other things, an accomplished duelist and good friend of Lucius. It would be
perfectly reasonable for you to be appointed to the role of Defense Against the Dark Arts
professor, wouldnt you think?
Avery looks sideways at Dracos father, who is sitting rigid in his seat. Ever since his wifes
death, everyone has been giving him a very wide berth, as if expecting, at any moment, for him to
suddenly turn coat. Honestly, Draco had spent the last several weeks expecting the same; every
day he woke up finding his father still present at meals was a surprise.
... I suppose that would be logical.
What do you say to that, Lucius? the Dark Lord says. His voice is almost crooning, darkly
saccharine, and he bends forward across the table to get a better look at him. His fathers
countenance is frightfully, dreadfully controlled. Are you still with us? With our cause?
He turns his eyes to the Dark Lord and meets his gaze unwaveringly. Of course, My Lord, he
Splendid. Then I expect you to appoint him and make sure he is approved. And once youve
arranged it, youll work with Draco and begin work on the Ministry.
Lord Voldemort looks at Draco again, then lifts a hand to crook a finger, the universal come here
gesture. Draco bends forward toward him.
Go with him, he says lowly, and make sure he doesnt forget his place.
Of course, My Lord, Draco returns, equally softly.
Red eyes glint. Long fingers trace the lines of Dracos wrist. Wherever would I be without you,
little bird?
A question worth considering, Draco is sure.

11 November, 1995
It is only in folk tales, childrens stories, and the journals of intellectual opinion that power is used
wisely and well to destroy evil.
Noam Chomsky

Lucius Malfoy walks into the central hub of the Ministry of Magic and he parts the crowds as
Moses parted the Red Sea. Draco is at his heels, adjusting the sleeves of his slate gray robe and
I must admit, I am more impressed than I thought I would be.
Money and notoriety are a potent combination, he answers, and his voice seems hollow. Draco
gives him a sidelong look. His father is dressed sharply, which makes for a change for the first
time since his wifes death, his robes are pressed, his hair is combed and tied back, his shoes are
polished but theres no hiding the dark circles underlining his eyes, the pallidness of his skin, the
weariness. He looks as though hes ready to collapse, though whether from exhaustion or
heartbreak is unclear.
I thought you were proud of your influence in government, Father, Draco says, recalling several
instances throughout his childhood where he would go on longwinded diatribes about the
importance of social standing.
I have had a recent reassessment of my priorities, he replies quietly.
Draco does not say or feel anything.
They take an elevator that screams up through the Ministry, rattling and clattering and generally
being far more terrifying than an elevator has any right to be, but it deposits them safely in a wide
corridor bustling with people moving in all directions, all of them with files full of parchment
under their arms and looks of determination.
At the far end, flanked by great marble columns and two armed aurors, is a set of wide, mahogany
doors with brass handles and knockers. Together they stride right towards them, and the aurors let
them right through with nothing but a cursory nod and a brief hello, Lord Malfoy.
Around a corner and through another set of doors (through which they are also allowed to pass
without question), sits Cornelius Fudge at a wide desk, scribbling out a letter. He looks up when
they enter, and his round face breaks into a startled smile.
Lucius Malfoy, as I live and breathe!
Good evening, Cornelius, his father returns, with none of his enthusiasm.
He stands and walks around the desk to offer his hand.
Good to see you, my friend, good to see you! he says. And this must be your son! Draco, isnt

it? The spitting image!

Draco smiles wanly and takes the Ministers hand when its offered. His palm is unpleasantly
sweaty but Draco doesnt let on.
Its been far too long, my friend, he says.
Since Christmas, his father says. Im afraid Ive been rather busy these past few months.
Oh, me, as well! You know how politics can be a dreadful combination of mind-bending
boredom and profound terror. And ever since all the nasty business with those dreadful rumors
Yes, he says, voice flat. The rumors.
Ive been doing all I can to contain them, of course, but they are saying
Indeed, Draco interjects suddenly, they are saying, frequently and with great ardour. So far
your only response has been to stick your fingers in your ears and bury your head in the sand.
The Minister gives a start and looks at Draco again this time properly, thoroughly. He seems
more startled than anything else. Clearly he isnt used to the feeling and sensation of blunt
I ah well
No official statements, Draco continues, no gag orders on the press, no nothing. Youve been
recklessly allowing panic to spread through your entire country, directionless, virulent, and
absolutely unchecked.
Minister Fudge blusters. I never!
Have you heard about the riots in Bristol? Seen the spike of criminal activity? People are frantic.
I am forced to wonder, Minister, if you actually have any plans of governing anytime soon while
your country collapses under the weight of its own paranoia.
I that isnt Lucius, your son
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Cornelius, his father says, voice cool, but my son is by
several orders of magnitude the most intelligent person in this building. A disposition like his only
survives by being right almost constantly.
The expression on Minister Fudges face can only accurately be described as flustered. Or perhaps
purple. Hes nearly as purple as he is flustered.
He spends a few moments staring at Draco, mouth working but with no sound produced.
Why are you here? he finally says.
Draco raises an eyebrow. Isnt it obvious? he returns. A rich man and a smart man have barged
into your office during a time of national crisis. Were here to do your job for you.

17 December, 1995
Chapter Notes

This chapter comes with a mild TRIGGER WARNING for EXTREMELY

CREEPY AND RAPE-Y BEHAVIOR. While no actual rape occurs, it still might be
troubling for some.

I have little left in myself I must have you.

Charlotte Bront

Good morning, sweet girl.

Lyra smiles and stretches out her hands toward him. Dracos mind goes through a few relevant
points about how six-month-olds will recognize familiar faces, but its all drowned out when she
Well said. Draco scoops her out of her cot and settles her on his hip. Did you sleep well?
She grabs a fistful of his hair and Draco doesnt mind the way she tugs.
So you managed to get the B sound down, Draco says as he carries her out of the bedroom
and into the hallway. How are you doing with D?
Ba, she answers.
She stares at him in contemplative silence for a moment, stuffs her hand into her mouth, then says,
All right, well, youre only six months old so Ill try not to hold this against you. Though just for
the record, I was saying my first word at eight months. But no pressure or anything.

Ever since the jailbreak or, to be more specific, ever since a few dozen war criminals began
living in and around the Malfoy Manor Draco had kept Lyra confined to the east wing, where
she is sequestered from anyone who had willingly tortured people. The wing has only a few
bedrooms, a study, and a small sitting room theyve been using as a dining room. Its not ideal, but
its perfectly serviceable, and a great deal safer.
He enters the makeshift dining room and tucks her into Lyra into her handsome mahogany high
chair just as Dobby pops in.
Draco has just asked him to bring breakfast (with a box of raisins for Lyra, because handling small
objects helps to improve hand-eye coordination) and fetched Lyras favorite blue spoon when he
hears the door open. He glances briefly over his shoulder, presuming it to be his father, but does a
sharp doubletake when hes proven wrong.
Lord Voldemort glides into the room with an unnatural stillness. At once, Draco is filled with
dread. He is always filled with dread whenever he and Lyra are in the same room. The trust and
obedience the curse forces on him has never been enough to make Draco forget that his very
young, very vulnerable baby sister is in the same room with a mass-murdering sociopath.
Draco is sure that he is not meant to forget.
My Lord, he says stiffly, deftly inserting himself between him and Lyras high chair.
Little bird.
As she always does when hes in the room, Lyra starts to fuss and kick. Draco wants to comfort
her, but he dares not take his eyes off the Dark Lord for an instant.
Word from Avery is that the strings youve pulled are working. Hes been put on a special
committee designed to review the faculty of Hogwarts and report his findings to the Minister in an
effort to remove anyone undesirable.
Draco nods.
And the front page of The Daily Prophet is decrying Harry Potter and his nonsensical, alarmist
allegations that the Dark Lord has returned.
Its amazing what a few well-worded bylaws will do, My Lord.
Speaking of Harry Potter.
Dracos breath stutters. The Dark Lord has stopped walking, and he is looming down over Draco.
He is extremely close, and Draco is suddenly aware of the fact that he is backed into the table.
Youll be leaving in a few days. He is so very close. His heart is stammering against his ribs.
Yes, My Lord.
I confess that I still dislike this plan of yours, he says.
I know, My Lord.
I dislike any plan that keeps my right hand so far away.
There is no alternative, My Lord.
I especially dislike any plan that puts you so close to Harry Potter.

I especially dislike any plan that puts you so close to Harry Potter.
I hate Harry Potter, My Lord.
The red of his eyes seems to darken. I know.
He bends down. Dracos throat tightens.
You wont forget who it is you belong to, will you, little bird?
I He swallows a knot in his throat. No, My Lord.
This little bird wont forget its cage, will it?
No, the Dark Lord echoes, and there is a fingertip tracing the curve of Dracos hip and no,
please, not now, not here, not in front of Lyra, is this really how it is going to culminate? No, you
wont. Do you know why I know you wont?
Draco doesnt answer. He shuts his eyes and reminds himself (over and over and over) that longterm memories do not form this early, she will not remember, Merlin, please let her not remember,
Draco could not bear it.
I know you wont forget, because you would never so recklessly endanger your sisters life.
He sees right through the veiled threat. There is fear and anger and resentment and hatred and it is
all wrapped up in the dreadful, oppressive nothing. The hand on his hip curls around the crest of
the bone.
You are frightened.
Lyra starts crying.
I I am unable to reconcile
The Dark Lord ducks his head. He lifts his free hand and knots it in Dracos hair. Draco makes a
soft, broken sound.
Say it, little bird, he says, voice low. Say what it is you fear.
The words are caught in his throat. Despite the subservience your curse forces upon me, I cannot
reconcile the fact that by by any definition you
Say it, he says again.
Draco squeezes his eyes shut. Rape. Its such a vile word, an ugly word. It feels clumsy and
terrible and heavy.
The Dark Lord makes a low, predatory sound.
Not a problem I had ever pictured myself confronting, he confesses. But as always, you are the
exception to the rule. The way you command my senses is staggering. You pull me in with every
movement, every act of simple, staggering genius. And how could I let you back to that filthy
mongrel even for a few days without staking a claim?

He is too close for Draco to see the expression on his face, but by the way the hand around his hip
grips more tightly, he does not want to. His legs feel like they are about to give out.
Lyra keeps crying.
His other hand grips Dracos other hip and pulls, and no, no, no, not in front of Lyra, not in front
of Lyra, please no, please no
Crack, from the doorway and Draco jerks with the force of the sound. The Dark Lord stills but
does not withdraw. Draco forces open his eyes. His father is standing by the door, which has
slammed against the wall.
He looks absolutely murderous, but he is not moving.
Hmm, the Dark Lord says. His tone is almost conversational. Your fathers timing is almost too
good to be true, isnt it?
Draco doesnt answer. He cant.
Do you have something to say, Lucius?
Bellatrix and Greyback have brought back the Muggle MP you asked for. His voice is short and
his words are clipped, brutal.
Hmm, he says again. Shame. Later, perhaps.
And he withdraws, and Dracos weight falls against the table, and he wills his legs to stop
The Dark Lord walks toward the door to leave but his father does not move out of the way. For
several very long seconds they stare at one another in dreadful, electric silence. The murder has
not left his fathers eyes. Its an entire conversation that goes completely unspoken. A challenge, a
counter-challenge, a threat, a defiance. Neither of them back down, but the Dark Lord eventually
pushes past and leaves.
Hands shaking, Draco moves around the table and scoops Lyra up. He hushes her as she wails
into his shoulder.
Draco doesnt answer. He keeps hushing her.
Has he forced himself on you?
Dont do this.
Draco, has he touched you?
Lyras tiny arms wrap around Dracos neck as far as they can and Draco strokes her back and
holds her and breathes in the scent in her downy blonde hair.
What difference does it make?

It makes every damn bit of difference!

Dont align yourself against him! Draco snaps, and it only makes Lyra cry more. Dont make
yourself into his enemy! Dont make me turn on you!
Draco, his father snarls, if he has laid a finger on you, youll have to kill me yourself to keep
me from ripping him apart.
Do you honestly think youre speaking in hyperbole? Draco snarls. Do you think I wont? He
made me kill Mother! If your risks outweigh your benefits, youll have the same fate!
The conversation is heavy with all the things they cannot, dare not say. His father is almost
shaking from rage, and Draco cannot get Lyra to stop crying. He sinks into a dining room chair
and holds her close, humming the old French lullaby.
He hears his father take a long, shuddering breath.
You need to be alive, Draco whispers. You need to make it out because if I dont, youll be all
Lyra has.
Draco, he says. He sounds broken.
Just dont, Draco says. Please, dont. Please, please.

21 December, 1995
But groundless hope, like unconditional love, is the only kind worth having.
John Perry Barlow

I think hes waking up.

Just remember you absolutely cannot trust him.
I know.
Harry, look at me.
Hes in pain, but its been dulled with potions. He tries to lift a hand to his face but finds that both
hands are bound to the wall against which he is leaning.
You cannot trust him.
I know. Hermione, I know.
Oh, good. So it worked, then.
Draco blinks open his eyes, but it takes a while for his vision to adjust to the brightness of the
room. The room smells of dust and the floor under him is hardwood. He seems to be in, he
discovers as his awareness sharpens, a cleared-out sitting room.
If Draco had to hazard a guess, hed say that he was in Grimmauld Place.
Hello, Draco.
Its a different voice this time higher, wispier, slightly dizzy.
Im sorry about tying you up, but youre very dangerous.
Luna is crouched down in front of him. Seeing her face is strange. It feels like its been half a year.
It has, he belatedly realizes.
Quite all right, Luna, Draco replies. I dare say Im rather used to being tied up in magical
lockdown rooms at this point.
He gives his wrists a tug again, and finds that theyre being held to the wall by two Ravenclaw
I appreciate the house loyalty, though.
Yes, Luna answers, I thought you might.

Its more comfortable than rope would be, says another voice Draco looks over and sees
Hermione Granger, arms folded over her chest, and theyre Goblin silk, so they wont go
Yes, well done, Draco says, youve successfully tied up an unconscious teenager. Im sure
youll look back on this fondly in your twilight years.
How are you feeling?
Draco looks over his other shoulder. Harry is standing a few feet away, in his ratty scarlet jumper
Draco could never get him to throw away.
Draco tries to identify what exactly is twisting in his chest, and decides that it is hate. Yes, it must
be hate.
He makes a face.
Im feeling tied up, thanks for asking, he snaps.
You know we have to.
The Dark Lord also tied me up, Draco says lowly. But then, you knew that, didnt you?
A look of intense pain passes over Harrys face, and Draco is pleased to see it. Isnt he?
The difference, Hermione interjects, is that everyone here cares about you and wont hurt you.
Were going to take the curse off you.
Mhm, Draco says. Does it bother you that its impossible?
No, Harry says.
Slightly, Luna admits.
Best of luck to you, then. Ill be over here being tied up.
You wont find it, Luna says suddenly.
Luna, sighs Hermione.
What? Luna returns, looking back at her. You think he doesnt know that we know that he
knows that we?
Im putting a preemptive stop to this sentence, Draco decides.
We know you let yourself get captured, Harry says. We know youre looking for the Horcrux.
But its not here.
That is neither surprising nor detrimental to my effort, Draco says, glaring up at Harry. None of
you really know how to search, anyway.
And you think you can find it while youre tied up? Hermione says indignantly.
Not only can I find it while Im tied up, Draco answers, I can do it in less than a week before
breaking out of here entirely.
Cocky bastard, Harry says, and theres a smile on his face thats more sadness than joy.

Then well just have to break the curse before then, wont we? says Hermione.
What are you even doing here? Draco asks, eyeing her. Since when are you and Luna
associated with the Order of the Phoenix?
Were not, strictly speaking, Luna answers. Were part of the DA.
Merlins pants, how many secret enemy organizations does the Dark Lord have to deal with?
Draco asks. And just what the hell is the DA?
It stands for Dracos Army, Harry says. His voice is quiet.
Draco purses his lips. Ive got my own army now, have I?
You always did, even when it was just me. Harry kneels down next to him. Youre not what
the DA is fighting for, youre just a symbol. Youre a reminder of exactly what were up against
and why its a battle worth fighting.
Draco meets Harrys eyes. The green of them seems more impossibly intense than Dracos
memory. It fills him with hatred so overpowering that it makes his heart stutter.
Were going to get this curse off you, Harry swears. Professor Snape has given us a lot of
I know, Draco returns. We were counting on him to collaborate with you to get me here.
This is all very messy, Luna says. Why do we pretend to have secrets when everyone knows
So that means it comes down to who can work faster, Hermione says, bypassing Lunas
comment, even though Draco thought it was a fair question, us or you.
Draco looks up at her and meets her gaze unwaveringly. And doesnt that just scare the hell out
of you?
Hermione lifts her chin, but the nervousness is there. Draco can see it smoldering in her eyes.
Im not frightened, Harry says. I know well break the curse, because if we dont, that means
Ill lose you again, and Ill never let that happen.
The hatred in Draco is intensifying even further, making his throat tight and his eyes burn. Its a
hatred so strong it almost physically hurts to look at Harry. It must be hate. It has to be hate.

23 December, 1995
I loved my friend
He went away from me
Theres nothing more to say
The poem ends,
Soft as it began
I loved my friend
Langston Hughes

Theres no way were breaking the curse before we get that collar off him.
Harry, Sirius sighs, breaking an Imperius curse from the outside is impossible enough, but this
collar we dont know how it works. Tampering with it could kill him.
Oh, my God, Draco says, mostly to himself, are you people actually thinking in slow motion or
have I spent my entire life overestimating normal people?
Ignoring the comment, Harry continues: It doses him with deadly venom every time he disobeys!
What do you think will happen when the curse is broken?
There are antivenoms Sirius begins, but Harry cuts him off.
In the doses hed need it, theyd be nearly as dangerous as the venom!
Is this really the speed your minds work at? Draco asks. What is it like in your heads? It must
be so boring.
Sirius glares at him. Or maybe we could just let the little bastard suffer through the venom.
Harry makes a sound like a snarl. Whats your problem?
Sirius looks back at Harry, frowning. All Im saying is he hasnt made the best impression
What, Harry interrupts, still holding a grudge against him after he stopped you from terrorizing
a school full of children?
Sirius straightens, darkens. You know thats not what it was about.
Hes being combative because hes under the Imperius curse, Harry snaps. Whats your excuse
for being an asshole to him?
Harry, says a soft, weary voice from the door, go easy on him.
Professor Lupin well, not a professor anymore, Dracos mind supplies is standing in the
doorway with a bowl full of clear amber liquid in one hand and a rag over his arm.

Maybe once he starts going easy on Draco, Harry says. He still sounds defensive, but his
hackles are back down.
Sirius has a deeply-rooted knee-jerk hatred for anyone of the Black bloodline, Lupin explains,
crossing the room and crouching down at Dracos side. He dips the rag into the liquid. He cant
help it.
Take a kid into your home and this is the thanks you get, Sirius says. He doesnt sound angry
anymore, mostly just tired.
Being preferable to the Dursleys doesnt say much, Harry reminds him coldly.
Lupin opens Dracos shirt and, with the dampened cloth, gently dabs at some of the old wounds
along his ribs the twisting map of angry scar tissue from the torture that had never healed right,
that had fractured some of the bones in strange ways and torn the muscles.
Essence of dittany? Draco guesses.
Its slow-acting, Lupin says, but it should help fix everything that healed wrong.
Somehow Draco is both surprised and not surprised at the kindness the Order has been showing
Ill try to look into the collar a little more, Sirius tells Harry, but just keeping him here while
hes still under the Imperius is dangerous. If we cant find any solid leads soon, well have to
focus on just breaking the curse.
Hermione and Luna can help with research, Harry says.
They already are.
Harry sighs. He looks over at Draco just as Lupin finishes with the essence of dittany and rises to
his feet.
Can we have a moment? Harry asks.
Harry, says Lupin gently.
Hell be fine.
Its not just him Im worried about.
Come on, Remus, Sirius says, its fine.
Lupin sighs, puts a reassuring hand on Harrys shoulder, and walks out, a few steps behind Sirius.
When the door closes, Harry has not moved.
This is not the first time Harrys been alone with Draco since he first arrived, of course. It had
happened at least five times in two days, and they only got more aggravating and uncomfortable.
If Draco didnt know any better, hed think
Its like youre trying to break the Imperius curse with sheer force of love.
Harrys reaction is not immediate. The smile that appears on his face is slow, tragic. It raises new
levels of hate in Draco that he did not know he was capable of.
Is that really so ridiculous a notion?

Of course it bloody well is, Draco snaps. Love cant break a curse.
Why not?
Because thats stupid and ridiculous and fairytalesque and doesnt happen in the real world.
There are more things in heaven and earth than exist in your philosophy, Harry says.
I never should have gotten you into Shakespeare, Draco groans, his head hitting the wall behind
Harry sits down next to him. The heat of him sends little sparks of of Draco doesnt even
know what it is but they move in arcs and currents along his nerves and Draco feels inexplicably
caught in Harrys gravity. This is hatred, isnt it?
This may be the first and last time Ill ever say it, but I think youre wrong, Harry says. I think
love can break a curse. I think it might be the strongest thing in the world.
That is sentimental poppycock, Draco says. He feels uncomfortable in his own skin, hot and
restless, almost itchy. Its unbearable.
Is it?
He ordered me to hate you.
Harry gives a start. Voldemort?
Draco bares his teeth. Obviously. He grips the silk ties binding his arms so tightly it hurts, so
tightly it cuts off the blood flow to his fingertips and they start to tingle.
Oh, Harry says. The expression on his face is inscrutable, and Draco is pretty sure he wants to
slap it. Do you?
Yes, Draco hisses. Yes, I hate you. I hate you so much I cant bear it. Just being near you
makes me crazy. Everything about you just you set me on fire, you make me insane, I cant
stand it.
Harry is silent a moment. That doesnt sound like hate to me, he says.
It is, Draco snaps. It has to be. What else can it be?
Harry swallows. All of a sudden, he looks like hes about to cry, though not from sadness. He
opens his mouth like hes going to respond, when the door suddenly squeaks. Draco is glad for
the distraction, because his hands are shaking and the hatred is making him physically hurt.
Kreacher has brought Master Draco food.
Harry takes a deep, shuddering breath. Hes not your master, Kreacher.
Master Draco is an heir of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black! Kreacher protests. He
shambles into the room, a large silver tray full of food floating along behind him. Kreacher is
happy to serve Master Draco.
The door swings open further and Luna pokes her head in before Harry can respond.
Harry, she says, Hermione wants to talk to you.

Harry opens his mouth, looks at Draco, and frowns. Draco frowns right back at him.
I Harry swallows down the emotion thats still written all over his face. Yeah, all right.
Draco watches him leave, flexing his fingers to keep his hands from shaking.
Kreacher thinks it is indefensible that they are holding Master Draco this way, Kreacher says,
bustling over just as the door closes and setting the tray down in Dracos lap. Master Draco is of
pure blood and good breeding and should not be bound!
Kreacher, Draco says, you served Master Regulus, didnt you?
Kreacher looks up at him, startled. Yes, he answers, Kreacher did.
Id like to ask you a few questions, Draco says. But you must not tell anyone.

25 December, 1995
And this love is about to carry me off somewhere. This currents too overpowering; I dont have
any choice. It may very well be a special place, some place Ive never seen before. Danger may
be lurking there, something that may end up wounding me deeply, fatally. I might end up losing
Haruki Murakami

How are you feeling?

Draco opens his eyes. Its Lupin with his bowl full of essence of dittany, looking exhausted and
somewhat bedraggled.
1,151 is the highest happy prime number I can come up with, Draco answers. Also my legs are
falling asleep.
That bad, huh?
Well, Ive already figured out where the Horcrux is, Draco says, so at this point Im sort of just
killing time before my escape opportunity presents itself.
Lupin arcs an eyebrow and kneels down next to Draco, dabbing the cloth in the essence of
dittany. Youre just going to share that information with me? Seems risky.
Not as risky as you might think.
As he opens Dracos shirt again, he asks, Whats a happy prime number?
Any number where the sum of the squares of its digits adds down to one is a happy number,
says Draco, watching as Lupin dabs at the scars. A happy prime is a number thats both happy
and prime. Its recreational mathematics. Keeps the brain busy.
You know, Sirius always thought Harry was exaggerating about you.
Well, no offense, but Sirius is a bit of a prick.
A bit, Lupin concedes, smiling tiredly, but then again, so are you.
Draco supposes he has to concede that point. The truth resists simplicity.
Doesnt it just.
Draco looks down, watching as Lupin dabs the sweet-smelling liquid across the ugly tangle of
scars across his ribs. Lupin sets the bowl down to adjust his angle.
Curious thing, essence of dittany, Draco says. Woefully underappreciated as a healing agent.
Lupin hums. It was a miracle when I discovered it, he says. Saved me a great many scars. If Id

known of it earlier I might not have any at all.

Fun fact, Draco continues, did you know that essence of dittany is also an abrasive agent?
Lupin glances up at him with a frown, as though hes not sure where Dracos going with his
Its very gentle on human skin, but it reacts violently with certain organic compounds. For
example, it can completely dissolve Goblin silk in seconds.
Before Lupin has a chance to react, Draco jerks his knee up and it cracks loudly against the side of
his head. Lupin jerks, then collapses, and with another quick movement of his foot, Draco knocks
the bowl of essence of dittany over, where it splashes into his arm with a hiss and a snarl of
smoke, the Ravenclaw tie dissolves. Draco grabs the bowl and does the same to free his other
He knows that he only has a few minutes to make this work. Over the past few days hes
memorized the routine, such that it is, of the Order through the door, and he knows that before
long Nymphadora Tonks (and really, how many cousins does he have in this organization?) will
be coming down and asking Lupin if he wants a cup of tea. He ducks out of the sitting room and,
pressing himself close to the wall, hurries down the hallway.
Hes made it out to the front corridor and has thrown on a nondescript black cloak from a hook on
the wall. He reaches out for the doorway
when, quite abruptly, the door bars itself. Draco whirls around.
Harry is standing on the opposite end of the foyer. His hand is outstretched but he doesnt appear
to have a wand.
You bastard, Draco says, though he finds he isnt actually angry, you stole my wand hand
Harry smirks, though he hasnt left his dueling stance. Hermione got into your notes, he
explains. Its a pretty popular procedure within the DA now.
That stupid-gorgeous-infuriating-hateful smirk of his sends new waves of anger radiating in all
directions through Dracos body. Its been so long since hes seen it.
You cant possibly think you can really stop me from getting out of here, Draco says.
Harry flexes the fingers of his outstretched hand.
No, he answers. No, I know I cant stop you. I was hoping I had wanted to get that collar
off, but we werent able to
Draco narrows his eyes.
Two days ago, Harry continues, taking a half-step forward, and Draco raises his own hand,
fingers splayed and ready to attack, you told me that Voldemort ordered you to hate me. I told
you what you described didnt sound like hatred, and you asked me what else it could be. I didnt
get to give you an answer.
Harry keeps moving closer. Draco knows that this is the perfect opportunity to attack; Harry
wouldnt expect it, and Draco could get away. A quick Avada Kedavra, a stupefy, anything,
anything at all. Cast it, Dracos mind tells him, but Dracos magic doesnt obey. Cast it! Hes not

expecting it!
Its the one thing that Voldemorts magic couldnt even touch, Harry says. His voice is low. It
tears things up in Dracos chest. The only thing that can break an Unforgivable Curse. You
scoffed, Draco, but its true. The Imperius can only mask it, but it cant change it. Voldemort
didnt understand. He couldnt understand.
The pieces fall into place on their own accord as Harry moves ever closer and no, no, thats not
possible, how is that possible?
I just want you to know, Harry says, I love you, too.
The fingertips of Harrys outstretched hand brush Dracos, and immediately following is a strange
but familiar sensation fluttering.
The butterfly passes off Harrys hand and flaps its way down Dracos forearm.
Something deep inside Draco twists. Its deeper than the curse, deeper than his bones. It is at the
very core of him, and it quavers with every tiny movement of that monarch butterfly as it spirals
around his elbow and onto his shoulder. Draco finds that his entire arm is shaking.
You took it off before the Third Task, Harry says. I thought you might want it back.
Draco makes a strange and broken sound.
There is pain, then. Hot and intense, burning him up. It follows the butterflys wings.
The venom, Draco realizes belatedly.
The pain grows in intensity but it cannot hold a candle to the force of emotion. He trembles like a
leaf in the wind an the butterfly finds its way to his chest, sitting on his breastbone and gently
flapping its wings.
Draco, Harry says.
No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!
The pain thrums, it burns, it boils; Draco is blind with tears and he casts a repulsion spell that
sends Harry flying back.
Draco spins and shoves at the bar on the door and the pain does not go away, it only gets more
intense, he pushes his way outside and runs, runs, runs, but he cant outrun the magic that is
cracking, burning, shattering him, the venom that rages through him, the pain that makes him
delirious, or the tiny butterfly that sits on his chest and flaps its wings.
He can feel the curse as it cracks and starts to crumble.

26 December, 1995
I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to someone elses whim or to
someone elses ignorance.
bell hooks

Draco makes it back to the still and quiet Malfoy Manor to the sound of the grandfather clock
chiming midnight and his heart beating in his ear.
He is in so much pain that he can barely force himself to move. He feels like he is on fire,
physically falling apart, breaking open at the seams. The venom sears, and that butterfly, that
damn butterfly
He pushes his way into his bedroom in the east wing and throws up a silencing spell before he
allows himself to scream from the sheer, utter agony.
Lyra immediately begins to cry, but Draco can barely hear her.
He collapses forward onto his hands and knees, sure that he is dying, this is dying, how could a
pain so intense be anything but? Draco remembers those agonizing weeks of torture and they are
nothing, they are nothing compared to this, and the only thing, the only thought that makes it
through the haze of mind-shattering pain
He is in love with Harry Potter.
And isnt that ridiculous? Isnt it hateful? Isnt it impossible, insane, preposterous? Isnt it in direct
defiance to the Dark Lords wishes?
And isnt it the most perfectly clarifying, uncomplicated thing in Dracos world?
In all the pain and chaos and misery and darkness, Draco is in love with Harry Potter, and it is
steady and strong like a rock in the stormy sea, brilliant and unignorable like the sun, vast and
calm and patient like the cosmos.
And it is breaking through the binding magic that holds it, breaking through and ripping Draco
apart with the pain of it, God, the pain of it will kill him, he is sure it will kill him.
Draco screams and screams and breaks and burns and
And for a few moments, there is nothing no sound, no light, no anchor to reality. He is freefloating, and Draco considers the possibility that he is dead.
But his senses come back to him, slowly, in pulses and rushes like the tide. There is pain first, but

it is muted and manageable. Then there is light, filtering through the hair that has fallen in front of
his eyes. Then there is crying.
He lifts his head, slowly, and looks toward her cot. The hazy shapes sharpen. He can see her
through the wooden bars, kicking her feet and reaching into the air.
Draco tries to speak and it comes out as a croak: Its okay
He pushes down the pain more venom, more venom and struggles to his feet. He stumbles to
her cot. The sight of him seems to calm her down, though she is still red-faced and gurgling.
Its okay, Draco says. Its okay, its going to be okay.
He scoops her up and finds he does not have the strength to hold both of them up, so he sinks
down onto the floor against her cot and cradles her to his chest.
Its going to be okay, Lyra, Draco says, and theres a wetness on his face tears, he realizes,
rolling unbidden down to his jaw. Its all going to be fine.
The venom comes in pulses, little droplets every second. Perhaps its the shock or perhaps its the
fact that his bodys just built up a certain level of immunity to the venom, but the pain seems
distant, almost manageable.
He kisses Lyras forehead and her tiny hands splay across his cheeks, smearing the tears.
Its going to be okay, he tells her, speaking even as his voice breaks, even though the pain,
while dulled, is still burning through his veins, were going to make it through this, you and I.
You dont have to be scared.
She sniffs and looks up at him, her blue eyes bloodshot, her cornsilk-colored hair mussed, her
pajamas twisted around her stomach. Draco forces himself to smile.
He swipes his thumb across the soft flesh of her cheek, wiping her tears away.
Its all over now, Draco tells her, and it is. That psychopath has no more power over me, he
says, and he doesnt. I am free. And he is. He is weakened and in pain and scarred almost
beyond recognition, but he is free and, Thats all that matters.
Lyra grips Dracos index finger with her hand.
Draco leans his head against hers. And Ill kill him, he whispers.
Da, Lyra says.
I will kill him, he vows. Ill kill him for what he did to me, what he forced me to do to mother,
to Professor Snape. What he put me through.
His voice breaks. His tears keep pouring, and he hugs Lyra to his chest.
I swear, Lyra, I swear, he says, you will grow up in a world in which hes nothing but a
Da, Lyra says again and Draco curls forward over her. He thinks of his mother, of Professor
Snape, of the torture, and he sobs not because it has broken him, but because its strengthened
him, because it has made him into the Dark Lords nightmare, because it means that he is free.

him, because it has made him into the Dark Lords nightmare, because it means that he is free.

12 January, 1996
May the God of vengeance now yield me His place to punish the wicked.
Alexandre Dumas

When Draco steps out of the Floo, the first thing he sees is Professor Snape, entering from the
adjoining lounge with a book under his arm. He starts when he sees him.
Draco takes in a breath. Hes sure its not easy for Professor Snape to see him. It isnt easy for
Draco, either.
I he begins, but falters, I didnt know you had returned.
I havent, officially, Draco says. He moves forward, but his gait is staggered and clumsy. He
flexes his hands at his sides. Professor, I need your help.
Professor Snape seems to recoil slightly. He hasnt worked it out, not yet. With what?
His reaction is slow coming. First, raised eyebrows then a straightened back and set shoulders
then, the brutal onslaught of sudden clarity.
I brewed myself a batch, but I ran out and my hands
Draco lifts them. He has not been able to stop them from trembling for nearly a week. Its made
spellwork difficult, writing almost impossible.
Oh, God, Professor Snape says.
I have a special brew with a strong numbing agent, but it has side-effects, Draco explains. I
brought the recipe, but its
The book under Professor Snapes arm thumps onto the floor. In a heartbeat he has closed the
distance between them and pulled Draco into his arms. He grips Draco so tightly that he almost
cannot breathe.
Draco, he says into his hair.
Draco suddenly finds that his eyes are burning. Its been so long
Draco returns the embrace, fisting his hands in the back of Professor Snapes robe.
Draco, he says again, oh, God, Draco how did you how could you possibly?
Does it matter? Draco asks, voice cracking.

Professor Snape makes a small noise a sob, he realizes and grips Draco all the tighter. It
doesnt matter, he says. It doesnt matter Draco, Im so sorry
Please dont.
I cant. Not now.
His pulls back and looks down at Draco. All the harsh lines of his face have softened.
If I confront it now, Ill fall apart, Draco says. And if I fall apart, Im not sure Ill be able to put
myself together again.
Professor Snapes hands are on his shoulders, and they grip tightly. Its the only sign of the rage
boiling just under his skin.
Does your father know?
Its better if he doesnt, Draco says. Safer.
He hesitates a moment, but eventually nods in agreement. He swallows visibly and kisses the top
of Dracos head.
Show me this recipe, he says.
Draco produces it from his pocket with his shaking hands, a small, folded piece of parchment that
Professor Snape takes when offered. He unfolds it and spends a while reading over the
And not to put too much pressure on you, Draco says, but if I dont get another dose soon, my
kidneys are liable to fail.
Draco, Professor Snape says severely, this potion
I know.
These ingredients are extremely potent
I know, Professor. You think I dont know?
The antivenom alone could shred your nerves, but this numbing agent!
Its all preferable to dying, Draco snaps, which seems to quiet Professor Snape. Look, I cant
take the collar off. Not yet. If I want to undo any of the damage Ive caused, I need to remain in
the Dark Lords inner circle. As soon as Ive done what needs doing, filled in the gaps in my
understanding, as soon as its safe, Ill take Lyra and get out.
Professor Snape frowns. So youre out for vengeance now?
Vengeance? To hell with vengeance, Im out for blood.
The response seems to startle him. Draco
He forced me to kill my mother. To torture you. He spent months dangling the threat of rape over
my head. I have blood on my hands thanks to him! I dont just want to destroy him, I want to

erase him, undo him, until all thats left is atoms and unpleasant memories!
Silence falls, tense and thick. Draco realizes, somewhat belatedly, that his heartbeat is slamming in
the side of his neck and theres hot fury boiling in his chest.
Perhaps he shouldnt have shouted.
Draco, Professor Snape says eventually, quietly, promise me that you wont let your thirst for
retribution become more important than your life.
Draco watches him for a while as he tries to catch up with his breath. It strikes him at first as such
a peculiar question, but eventually, he understands the premise. There is a dark and quiet part of
Draco that would gladly sacrifice his life if it meant ending Voldemort.
It does not scare him. Theres not much left that does, Draco supposes.
I can only promise to do my best, he says.
For my sake, Professor Snape says.
Draco sets his face, nods. For your sake. He might as well do it for Professor Snape, because he
wouldnt do it for himself.
He sighs and looks back down at the paper, dark eyes moving down the list of ingredients.
I can have it ready in twenty minutes, he says.
Good, Draco answers. Good. Im dying for a cup of tea would you mind?
Of course not. You know where it all is.
Draco nods and starts past him, rubbing his hands together. Professor Snape departs through the
other door, down toward his potions laboratory in the cellar. Draco is halfway to the kitchen when
he spies a familiar shape from the corner of his eye.
Lying abandoned in the corner of the room, beneath an endtable next to an armchair, is the tiny,
black rubber ball Professor Snape gave him all those years ago.
The sight of it gives him pause. Draco had thought it lost. He hesitates in the doorway between the
kitchen and sitting room, then crouches down and picks it up with his thin, trembling hands.
Its dusty and cold to the touch, and the rubber seems more worn than Draco remembers. He turns
it over in his fingers and, for the first time in so many years, thinks about the comfort he used to
find in chaos, the philosophical reassurance of meaningless entropy in an uncaring universe.
He finds that there is no more comfort there. Perhaps Draco has had enough chaos for his lifetime.
He pockets it anyway before moving through to the kitchen.

8 February, 1996
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once
hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
James Baldwin

The little bird has returned to his cage after all!

Draco stops and realizes that up until this point, he has never really understood hate.
Hate is nothing like the fire the Imperius curse tried to foist on Harry. It is nothing like the softly
simmering anger he felt for Rita Skeeter.
Hate does not burn. Hate freezes. It is cold and still and so intensely clarifying.
He turns and sees the Dark Lord walking toward him, and the hatred moves through his veins
with every heartbeat, sapping the warmth from his skin.
And Draco smiles.
Of course I did, My Lord.
How went the mission?
I traced the location of the locket, My Lord, Draco answers. It was in the hands of one Dolores
Umbridge, under the employ of the Ministry of Magic. She bought it off Mundungus Fletcher,
who found it in Grimmauld Place, thought it worthless, and tried to pawn it.
Voldemort hums vaguely, coming to a stop a few feet away from Draco. And where is it now?
Hurtling toward the sun, you snake-faced piece of human garbage.
Its a good thing Professor Snape gave him a crash course in occlumency. Its also a good thing
Draco had been smart enough to master it in a few days.
Safe for now, Draco lies effortlessly. Once we have the diadem, well send them both through
the rift together.
He makes a face. Yes, he says lowly, the diadem. Avery has been showing a startling level of
incompetence in retrieving it for me. If he takes much longer, I fear Ill have to send you in, little
bird, as much as I dislike the idea.
The Dark Lord cards a hand through Dracos hair and the sheer, overwhelming hatred nearly
freezes his heart in place.
And all Draco does is smile.
I have another very important mission for you.

Yes, My Lord?
It deals with Harry Potter.
Draco keeps a very tight reign on his expression. He only lets the vaguest look of surprise pass
over his face. Harry Potter?
He jerks his head toward the drawing room, now dark and empty. Draco shudders at the idea of
being alone with him, but knows he has no choice in the matter. He follows him inside.
Nagini is curled up by the fireplace, which gives the only light in the room. It casts strange, angled
shadows through the legs of the chairs lining the table and lights the ornamental weaponry along
the walls in a peculiar bas-relief.
Over these months you have proven yourself an invaluable resource and trusted ally, little bird,
Voldemort says, stopping beside Nagini near the fireplace, his back to Draco. It is for this reason
I am going to let you in on a most critical and guarded secret.
Draco takes in a breath. A secret to do with Harry Potter?
There is a prophecy
He trails off, and Draco frowns. For a few seconds all that can be heard is the soft crackling of the
firewood. Eventually, he continues.
A prophecy that says he has the power to vanquish me.
Draco nearly makes a comment about how hed done it once before but manages to swallow it
before it works its way out of his throat.
He has a power that I know not.
Draco frowns. Id as you what it is, but that seems antithetical.
I have recently discovered that I am missing half of this prophecy.
He turns sharply, robe swirling, and he looms down over Draco. Draco refuses to flinch on
I need the other half, he says. Now especially. Avery tells me that the boy is rallying an army
in Hogwarts, that he and the Order are conspiring. I do not like this, little bird.
Understandably, My Lord.
I am charging you with finding some record of the prophecy. There may exist a copy in the
Department of Mysteries.
Draco frowns, but shakes his head. No, he says. No, a prophecy can only be handled by its
subjects. We cant risk sneaking you into the Ministry, and it would be ridiculous to try and
somehow lure Potter in; far too many variables. Do we know who prophesied it?
He inclines his head. Sibyll Trelawney.
The answer catches Draco off-guard. Really? Sibyll Trelawney?

You seem surprised.

I am surprised, he admits. I didnt think she could prophesy her way out of a dark room.
Severus was there when she foretold it. It was most certainly her.
Draco shakes his head. Wonders never cease.
We should bring her in and interrogate her, he says.
She was in a trance, little bird. She wont remember.
Not under normal circumstances, My Lord, Draco says, but there are potions that can jog her
memory. Kickstart her Eye.
And quite without Draco noticing how he got there, the Dark Lord is in front of him close, very
close looming down over him, shrouded by the shadow cast by the firelight behind him.
In the past these moments elicited nothing but a sort of existential dread. Now Draco feels nothing
but pure, deep, visceral disgust. It takes everything in him to maintain his composure, to keep his
face straight and his eyes fixed on Voldemorts.
I will arrange for Avery to have her removed from Hogwarts, then, and brought here, he says.
Presumably he can handle that, if he cannot manage to find a simple diadem.
I am sure it has less to do with competence and more to do with Albus Dumbledore thwarting
him at every turn, Draco says.
He does not react well to Dumbledores name. It draws a snarling sneer from him, which deepens
the furrows of his chalk-white face.
Draco decides to bring up Albus Dumbledore more often, if only because he finds he quite enjoys
causing him pain.
Still, the Dark Lord does not move away. The hate twists deeper. Draco did not even know that it
was possible to hate someone so thoroughly, so profoundly, with such indescribable intensity and
I am certain you will not let me down, he says, and in his head Draco repeats what has become
his mantra: I will undo you. I will undo you.

19 March, 1996
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
Kurt Vonnegut

There is a part of Draco small, but loud that misses the days when he felt nothing.
He stands outside the entrance to the cellars. The screams of Professor Trelawney carry up the
Bitch is resisting. Go on up, pup, Ill get her to cooperate.
Draco shuts his eyes tightly, willing the memory out of his head, willing away the sadistic smirk
on Greybacks face, the way his thick fingers twitched in eager anticipation, the look of fear on
Professor Trelawneys face.
A hand rests on his shoulder. Dracos eyes fly open.
Professor Snape is standing across from him. The empathy on his face pulls all the little threads in
Draco that unravel him.
How do you do it? Draco asks.
Snape opens his mouth to answer but is cut-off by a high, frantic wail of pain from the cellar. He
Not easily, he admits.
Draco rubs his face with both hands. The pain from the venom comes and goes whenever Draco
can force himself to focus on other things, but tonight it is very, very strong, a consistent and
unbearable throb that runs along every nerve.
It helps to keep in mind why youre doing it, he says eventually, leaning against the wall next to
Draco. His voice is soft, even though Draco knows theres no one around to hear. I remind
myself of Lily. Of Harry. Of you.
Where does the ethical imperative come in? Draco asks, speaking into his hands. How much
good justifies what amount of evil? How can one be expected to stand by even with greater goals
in mind, when when
Theres another desperate scream of agony. Dracos entire body shudders at the sound.
Its a question I have wrestled with every day since I joined the Order, Professor Snape admits.
Dumbledore assures me that for every life I am forced to let end, a thousand more are saved, but
all I can think of is the one. Who am I to say one life is worth less than a thousand? Who is

Draco can hear Professor Trelawneys broken sobbing reverberating up the stairwell. A part of
him wants to close the door to muffle the sound of it. Another part of him dares not, because he
does not want to let himself forget what is happening even for a second.
There is no absolute morality, Professor Snape says. All the gods of man threaten different
hells for different sins and all of them are meaningless in a chaotic universe. Morality is something
that must be chosen. Once you know what you would kill for, what you would die for, the only
sin is betraying it.
I dont think I can do this for much longer, Draco whispers, and below him, Professor
Trelawney screams and screams. I want to undo him, but I cant do it like this.
Then dont.
There are footsteps on the stairwell. Draco stuffs his trembling hands into the pockets of his robe.
You should go, he says. We cant be seen speaking too often, it
I know.
Professor Snape puts a hand on Dracos head and kisses his temple before turning and striding
Moments later, Greyback emerges from the doorway leading into the cellar. He is splattered with
blood, mad-eyed, smiling with deadly and vicious Schadenfreude.
Softened her up, he says, and his voice is conversational. Shes ready to talk. See what you can
get out of her, pup.
Draco nods. He knows his face does not betray his thoughts. If nothing else, these past few
months have made him into a world-class actor.
And he descends the steps, even though he fears seeing what is at the bottom.
Around a corner and through a door, Professor Trelawney or what is left of her is magically
bound to a chair. The state of her sends waves of nausea through Draco, and triggers something
deeper in him
barbed whips ripping flesh breaking bones blood fountaining no no no no stop it stop it stop it
please stop please stop
For a moment Draco sways in his spot. He presses a hand to the wall to steady himself, to remind
him that this is real, this moment, the torture is over, its nothing but scars and memories now.
I can see into your heart.
Draco opens his eyes but has to blink them a few times to see past the tears that blur his vision.
Professor Trelawneys pupils are blown wide, and through the blood matting her hair and running
down her face, she is ashen.
Draco knows that she has been given an overlarge dose of distilled jasmine oil mainlined into her
carotid artery. It has made her hazy and uncoordinated, but it has opened her Eye, likely wider
than it ever has been.
You are not like the rest.

Draco swallows a sob.

Youve come to ask me about the prophecy.
It takes everything in Draco not to stare at the gashes that run across her stomach and chest, not to
look at her mangled, broken fingers.
I am so sorry, Draco says. Professor, Im so sorry
I dont want your pity, she tells him. All I want is your mercy. I will tell you what you need to
know if you promise me your mercy.
Draco shuts his eyes and takes a few breaths.
You know of what I speak.
Draco nods because he cannot manage to form words.
Swear me your mercy.
The words still refuse to come, even though Draco wills himself to speak.
There is no way I can make it out of this, she says, and Draco believes her. Your mercy is my
only chance at freedom now.
I promise, Draco chokes. The smell of blood is thick in the air; it twists all the darkest parts in
Dracos mind and makes him shake. I promise you my mercy.
A moment of silence passes. Her head sags to her chest and she takes a few breaths made wet by
the blood in her mouth.
You have questions about Harry Potter, she says. His destiny is a spiderweb. A thousand
radiations and connections that all lead to one fixed point.
Draco swallows. Fixed point?
That is what destiny is, she explains. Or fate, or prophecy call it what you like. Time is chaos
choice and chance and probability punctuated by specific moments that are fixed. Moments that
have to happen, that have always happened, that always will happen. Youve seen one already.
She looks up at him.
The graveyard, she continues.
His resurrection, Draco says, and she nods once, weakly.
That was a fixed point, she says, an event that was always going to happen. But it is not the
last that you will see. Before you come of age, you will see another you will see death.
Draco steps forward. Whose death?
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, she whispers, and at once
Draco knows he is hearing the prophecy. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the
seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the
Dark Lord knows not.
She lifts her eyes to Dracos.

And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.
So Harry is going to be the one to kill him, Draco says. Not impossible to believe. He nearly did
it once before when he was an infant.
Yes, she says. He will kill the Dark Lord. And the Dark Lord will kill him.
Time dilates. For a moment, Draco can hear the sounds of his own heart.
No, Draco says.
That is the fixed point, she says.
No, Draco repeats. That is not going to happen. I will not let that happen.
For all the chaos you have seen, one would think youd be grateful for a little certainty.
Fuck certainty, Draco says, and his voice is shaking. And fuck chaos. Fuck destiny and fuck
the prophecy. I will not let Harry die!
She laughs, but its a dreadful, pained sound, and it quickly dissolves into coughing and
wheezing. Draco stands motionless for a moment, throat tight, hands clenched and trembling.
Eventually he steps forward and raises his hand, casting a numbing spell that seems to drain some
tension from the rigid lines of her body.
Do you think your love for him is stronger than death?
I know it is, Draco says at once.
The response has her lifting her head again. For a moment they are both still. Her gaze is
measuring, his is sure. And Draco is sure, more sure than hes been about anything.
I hope youre right, she says after a lengthy pause. For your sake. And his and even mine, for
the sake of the legacy I leave behind
Draco finds himself on edge again. Mercy, shed called it. Is that what it is? His hand flexes at his
The wolf will be down soon, she says. You should do it now.
Morality is something that must be chosen. Once you know what you would kill for, what you
would die for, the only sin is betraying it.
Draco knows what he would die for. But what would he kill for? Mercy?
Greybacks heavy steps come tromping down the stairwell. Draco raises his hand again, and it
trembles in the damp air of the cellar.
Its a line in the sand and Draco is toeing it. What would he kill for? What would he kill for?
Oy, pup. She talking?
Nothing, Draco decides. Draco will not kill. Not again. Not ever, ever again.
Got what I needed, Draco says. Go let His Lordship know. Ill be up to report to him as soon
as Ive taken care of her body.

Professor Trelawney is staring up at Draco in silence as Greyback tromps back out of the room.
Draco bends down to her level and dispels the magical bindings around her ankles and wrists.
I know a secret way out of here, he says.
She stares up at him, hazy with pain and confusion. My fate
Fuck fate, he tells her, bending down and helping her to lean on him.

31 March, 1996
May I kiss you then? On this miserable paper? I might as well open the window and kiss the night
Franz Kafka

Dear Harry, he writes, and then pauses. This is not the sort of letter that should begin with the
word dear.
He vanishes the words with a twitch of his finger and instead writes, Harry, and then pauses
again. He wonders for a moment how to phrase this.
You gave me something of mine, and now Id like to give you something of yours.
Draco stops writing and looks over at the panic button. Its sitting near the edge of the desk, a bit
more scratched and scuffed than it was when Draco first made it. He licks his lips.
I have reset the location of the portkey function, he writes. He stops to frown at the uneven
handwriting. The trembling is better today than it is most days, but his writing is still barely
legible. He flexes his hand around the quill a few times.
Draco left Grimmauld Place before he broke the Imperius curse. He knows Harry would be wiser
not to trust him. Professor Snape would vouch for him, but he knows that Harry knows that he
could fool Professor Snape if he really wanted to. He hesitates before starting the next sentence.
If you trust me, use it on Easter Sunday at eight oclock in the evening. I will be waiting.
Draco takes a few breathes. He wants to say more. He wants to write I miss you, I love you,
I have not stopped thinking about you, you are the only thing that keeps me going in this
hellish place. He wants to write your love saved my life.
But he knows this letter might be intercepted, and so he does not write any of that. He cannot risk
it. The less context he can provide, the better. He just wishes he could think of something,
anything, to assuage his suspicion and distrust.
Though with the way his hands are shaking, it will be a small miracle if the letters even legible.
Draco looks over his shoulder. Lyra is sitting on the floor where her half-assembled tower of
blocks has collapsed under its own ineffective construction.
Still not good with the R sound, are you?
Day-ko! she cries again, urgently, eyes welling with tears. Draco sigh-smiles and pushes off his
chair, sitting down next to her on the floor.

Its all right, he says. Impermanence is a part of life. Everything is fleeting, but that only makes
our experiences more meaningful.
Bocks! she says in counterpoint, grabbing a block with a big red V on it and giving it a toss
for good measure.
What? Not a fan of Buddhist Dharma?
She makes a weak whining sound and reaches out to him with both hands. Deciding this tiny
blonde creature has far too much power over him, Draco scoops her up and sets her in his lap.
Bocks, she whimpers.
I know, Draco says reassuringly, kissing the top of her head. Its easy to be sad. Being alive
means accepting harsh inevitabilities like pain and loss and death. Or block towers falling over, I
guess. Everything is relative.
Bocks, Lyra agrees.
And sometimes its easy to forget all the good things that come with living because the bad things
seem so overwhelming. But the bad things dont diminish the good things. The good things are
still worth fighting for.
Draco looks up toward the desk as Lyra tugs at his shirt. Draco wets his lips, scoops her up, and
returns to the chair. He sets her down in his lap and continues the letter.
I am fighting, Draco writes.

7 April, 1996
Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.
Maya Angelou

From somewhere in the lower level, a clock chimes eight times. Draco counts them one by one
and screws his eyes shut, willing his heart not to beat so fast.
Outside the window, the sun is setting over the hillside, washing Hogsmeade with a vibrant
orange-red light. But in the two-bedroom suite, it is dark and quiet and still, lit only by a few
candles that burn low.
And Draco waits. Though his hands are shaking and his head is full of dreadful possibilities, he
When he hears the crack of the portkey, his heart nearly springs out of his throat. He turns around
and sees Harry standing by the door, the panic button in his hand, his face set.
Draco meets his gaze and his heart aches at the burning green.
Where are we?
Draco rises up out of the chair, ignoring the waves of venom-induced pain that go radiating
through his body. Hogsmeade, he says. The Three Broomsticks.
So close, Harry says. The look on his face is suspicious, but Draco can see through it, to the
core of it, to Harrys own heartache.
By necessity, Draco says. Im just Im glad you came.
Professor Snape says you broke the Imperius curse.
Draco moves forward in slow, uneven movements. Do you believe him?
I want to, Harry answers. I want to more than anything.
But you cant, Draco says. Not without proof. Its all right; I understand.
The pain beneath the suspicion intensifies on Harrys face. Hes gripping the panic button so
tightly that his knuckles turn white. Its as though looking at Draco is physically painful for him.
Draco manages to force a smile. He nods his head toward the door leading to the adjoining room
in the suite, and Harry follows him, movements stiff, as Draco moves over and opens the door.
Oh, my God, Harry says the moment he looks inside.

Sound asleep in the middle of the double bed, curled around a soft white blanket, lies Lyra, her
feet twitching occasionally.
Is that?
I just got her to sleep, Draco whispers.
Harry drops his voice. Thats your sister?
Lyra Narcissa Malfoy, he answers. I want take her back to Hogwarts.
Harrys head jerks around. Take her?
Shes not safe in the Malfoy Manor, he says. She never really was. But now theres someplace
I can finally put her where she wont be hurt.
All the careful walls that so desperately try to conceal Harrys emotions crumble down.
This is my proof, Draco says, closing the door. I would never trust Lyra with anyone I didnt

But Draco cant finish his sentence because Harry is coming at him like a force of nature, tangling
his fingers in his hair and kissing him so thoroughly and desperately that at once Draco is
consumed with the fire of it. They stumble until Dracos back hits the wall, and Dracos eyes
burn, his throat tightens, and he throws his arms around Harrys neck and returns the kiss with
everything he has.
Draco, Harry whispers against his mouth, oh, God, Draco
And God, to be in his arms again, to breathe in the scent of cedar and soap, to feel him, its as
though Draco is being awoken from the dead. Draco sobs and grips him more tightly, screwing
his eyes shut.
I thought I almost let myself believe
I love you, Draco interjects.
I love you, Harry says, kissing him again, pressing into him, and the heat of him burns away the
venom in Dracos veins, melts the pain. I love you so much, being without you for so long was
Draco cuts him off with another kiss, because for the first time in so long not only does he not feel
any pain, but he feels good, and he needs this, he needs this so badly he feels like he might die
without it. He needs Harry, Harrys scent, Harrys heat, Harrys touch
Harry makes a sound somewhere between a sob and a moan and presses more firmly against
Draco, and those warm, calloused fingers in his hair send sparks of electricity racing up and down
Dracos spine.
Theres so much we have to talk about
Later, Draco begs.
The Horcruxes, his plans

Later, please later, he whispers. The collar the venom its been ages and I just I need this,
need to feel something thats not pain
Harrys grip on him tightens and he presses his forehead into Dracos.
Okay, he says, and he kisses Draco again, this time on his jaw, moving lower across his neck,
and oh, Draco almost forgot he could feel this good, almost forgotten that pleasure this intense
even existed. Okay.
Draco shudders and the heat from Harrys lips expands across his skin. He shrugs off his outer
robe and Harrys hands are on his collar, fumbling with the buttons and pulling open his shirt.
When it falls open, Harrys hands abruptly still, eyes on his chest.
Draco looks down even in the dim candlelight, the ugly tangle of scar tissue is visible, twisted
concaves of hardened flesh set against pale skin. All at once, Draco feels self-conscious.
I will kill him for this, Harry whispers. Ill rip him apart
And then Harry is ducking his head and kissing Dracos chest and oh, God, its good, so good
Dracos mind blanks with pleasure. He tangles his hands in Harrys hair and Harrys fingertips
glide over his ribs, tracing patterns in his skin.
Harry tugs, and Draco follows, boneless, until he is collapsing on the bed. Harry crawls on top of
him and goes right back to kissing him, and Draco melts beneath it.
Ill never let it happen again, Harry vows, straightening briefly to pull his jumper over his head,
and all those years of Quidditch have been very kind to Harry he has a seekers build, lean but
well-constructed, with whipcord muscles under pale skin, and Draco feels ravenous at the sight of
Harrys mouth is on his stomach and Dracos head falls back. Teeth gnashing, hands splaying,
kissing, and Draco pants and arcs and twists and gasps in time with every tiny ministration. When
he feels Harrys fingers on his trousers he lifts his hips and waves his hand, disrobing them both
with a clumsy spell.
When Harry leans back down, the first thing Draco feels
is Harrys mouth, hot and wet and perfect, wide against the side of his shaft, and Draco can feel
every excruciating detail and its somehow both far too much and not nearly enough at the same
time. Draco trembles (for the first time in so long, from pleasure and not pain) and bucks his hips,
whimpering as Harrys hand curls around, as his tongue licks thick, wet stripes up towards the
Harry oh, God
Draco tries to say incredible, but it only comes out as a broken, desperate keening sound. Draco
knots his hands in Harrys hair and writhes underneath him. Harrys mouth closes around the head
and Dracos legs fall open, wanting more, needing more, needing everything. And Harry settles
himself between Dracos thighs and gives it to him with every movement, every moment of

unbearable perfection.
And Draco cant take it; pressure builds, tension burns, the pleasure rips him to shreds, and climax
comes barrelling forward.
Harry he manages, somehow, I I cant its
Theres a low sound of encouragement from the back of Harrys throat and his movements only
increase in speed. Desperately hoping he hasnt misinterpreted the signs, Dracos eyes shut and he
surrenders himself.
The plateau is an eternity of intolerable bliss knotted into a single instant; the peak is indescribable.
White-hot nirvana that breaks him as it fixes him, kills him as it resurrects him. Draco is undone,
shuddering and screaming and thrashing through the pulses of climax until after what must be a
thousand years Draco finally has some semblance of cogent thought.
He lies trembling on his back, weightless, breathless. He feels Harry remove himself and climb
back up his body.
Through the haze of post-climax Draco can see Harrys eyes blown wide with lust. He kisses
Draco and presses his hips down.
Draco returns the kiss, arms lifting, winding around Harrys neck. Harry makes a pained sound,
his length grinding into Dracos hip.
He moves his lips from Harrys mouth and to his ear. Fuck me, he says, and it is not quite a
question, but nor is it a request. Either way, it stills Harry; his body tenses.
Youre sure?
Draco sinks his teeth into the skin over Harrys pulse point and opens his thighs wider. Harry
groans, a heavy, eager sound, and his fingernails dig into his ribs.
Draco, please, Harry says, his voice strung taut, dont offer this unless
Who do you think youre talking to? Draco mutters in the direction of Harrys ear, his lips
ghosting over the soft skin near his jaw. I know what Im offering. I have never been so sure of
Harry groans again, more loudly, and one of his hands moves down to grip his thigh.
It was always you, Draco says, and his fingers twitch a few simple, careful spells, a muscle
relaxant, a lubrication charm a combination that makes him shiver, though not unpleasantly. I
love you.
Harry kisses him with such intensity that Draco would think he was trying to swallow the words.
I love you, he answers without pulling away, and the words are muffled against Dracos mouth.
He shifts his hips and Draco angles his own, tension and anticipation curling low in his stomach.
He can feel the soft head of Harrys cock pressing against him and the sensation sets off little
sparks of pleasure that Draco hadnt anticipated. His toes curl and his head falls back and Harry
kisses along his jaw and he pushes forward and oh

Draco can feel every inch of him as he moves, every individual nerve and every detail of that
slow, aching burn. And Harry is moving so carefully, so slowly, so scared of hurting him, but by
the sounds he is making so desperate for more.
He hilts himself fully inside of Draco and it is a strangely serene sensation. Draco tries to catch his
breath as Harry stills, panting and gasping against Dracos skin.
Good? he asks again.
Draco spends a moment trying to come up with the right words to describe the feeling of having
Harry inside him. Good? He supposes. More strange than anything, somewhat uncomfortable, a
definite fullness that he cant quite
And then Harry pulls back and thrusts at a slightly different angle and, Hhnnnggahhh!! Harry
oh, God!
A soft rush of breath on Dracos neck. Fire, electricity, fantastic pleasure prostate, Dracos mind
supplies by way of explanation, and he decides that they should have done this ages ago and he
feels his own length stirring again, twitching back to life.
Yes, good! Draco says, hoping he doesnt sound quite as desperate and frantic as he feels. Its
good it
Harry thrusts again, a subtle rolling of his hips that oh, God yes yes yes yesyesyesyes. Draco
throws his head back, arcs his back, trembles, dissolves.
Draco, Harry says, you feel God, you feel incredible
He sits up on his knees, braces himself on his elbows, and then he is thrusting in a steady rhythm
and Draco might actually die from how excellent this is; he bucks and moans and moves in time
with Harry, and the little pulses of electricity appear with every thrust and Draco grips him tightly
lest he fall into the ether and Harry kisses him and God, hes going to come again, he would be
astonished if he werent so desperately turned-on and delirious from pleasure
and Harry is moaning and shaking and Draco can feel him coming inside him in pulses of
surging heat and Draco spasms and reaches a second climax with a hoarse shout, and for now,
there is no pain for now, theres just this, just them, lost in each other, in love and on fire.

8 April, 1996
We never get over our fathers, and were not required to.
Irish proverb

Harry wakes up when Draco rolls over on top of him.

Good morning, Draco says.
He grins sleepily. It is, isnt it?
Draco laughs and kisses him. They are a tangled mess of limbs and sheets, lying in a stripe of
warm, golden sunlight. Draco really hadnt intended things to go this way, but after hours of
spectacular sex (that only got more excellent with further practice), he finds he cant be too upset
about it. Everything is hazy and muted and nice, and even the pain from the collar seems distant as
Harrys teeth tug gently at Dracos lower lip.
We really do have so much to talk about, Harry says as his fingertips glide down Dracos spine,
and we should definitely not have sex again.
I agree, Draco answers, tossing his sleep-matted hair out of his face and straddling Harrys
waist. At this point, it would be borderline irresponsible.
Harry doesnt respond, though his eyes do move up and down Dracos bare stomach
appreciatively, and despite all the ugly scars Draco feels gorgeous under Harrys gaze.
We did get a little bit of talking in, at least, Draco says. In between rounds four and five.
Harry hums. A smirk tugs at his lips. I quite liked round four.
I could tell.
Draco leans down and kisses him, and Harrys usual scent of cedar and soap is tempered with the
heady smell of sex. It is a fantastic combination, Draco decides.
Draco is halfway prepared to waste another hour like this when he feels a sudden jolt of pain from
his arm. He sits upright and his eyes move down to his Dark Mark.
Harry looks at it, too. It is glowing bright red. Draco grits his teeth and grips it.
Is that? Harry begins, but Draco cuts him off.
I have to go, Draco says. He climbs off the bed and casts a quick scourgify, followed by a few
spells to tame his hair.
Draco, you cant
Im still for lack of better term undercover, Draco says, hurrying to grab his clothes.

And how long are you planning on keeping that up?

Not much longer, he promises. He looks across at Harry and flinches at the look of worried
dejection on his face. Im trying to destabilize the Ministry of Magic. Im the one who designed
the shadow government; Im the only one who can start the process of taking it apart.
We need you with the Order, Harry says. Safe.
I will be, he promises. He throws on his robe and moves to the bedside, stealing a last kiss. As
soon as I can, I swear I will be. Youll take care of Lyra?
Of course I will, but Draco
I left you the food she likes and her blanket and toys in the shrinking bag. She really likes the
lullaby Fais dodo look it up.
Ill write you soon, Draco promises. He kisses him again, because how could he not, before
straightening and using his portkey back to the Malfoy Manor.
is he? thunders a familiar voice before Draco has entirely gained his bearings. Draco
straightens and hurries toward the source of the voice the drawing room.
The moment he pushes into the drawing room, several sets of eyes turn to him.
Draco notices several things all at once and connects them just as quickly:
One, Professor Snape is lying beside the fireplace, his body contorted in agony. The Dark Lord is
standing over him, wand in hand, red eyes all but glowing with hatred. The room is permeated
with the smell of Dark Magic, and it is obvious that the Cruciatus curse has recently been cast.
Two, many of the other Death Eaters have not yet arrived, but they are scrambling through the
other doorways leading into the drawing room when Draco makes his appearance. This meeting
must have been unplanned.
Three, Lord Voldemort is staring at Draco with murder in his eyes.
The obvious, dangerous conclusion: the Dark Lord knows.
Draco, he hisses. Where is your sister?
Draco sets his face and doesnt answer. He is suddenly aware of the fact that he is in an extremely
dangerous situation. He flexes his hand at his side, mind racing, trying to put together an escape
route that will get him and Professor Snape out. The possibilities are extremely, worryingly
Shall I order you to answer, little bird? he snarls, voice rising, stalking forward.
That would be rather pointless, dont you think? Draco answers.
Treacherous little whelp, you dare speak to me like that!
I dare and I relish, he says through his teeth, because theres no point in holding back, not
anymore. I am not your plaything any longer!

A spark of blinding red magic and a shout; Draco counters it with a shield, but the spell rebounds
and shatters a mirror on the wall with a tremendous sound. The Dark Lords lips curl back from
his teeth and he stalks forward.
Ungrateful little vermin! he bellows. I would have had you at my side! You would have tasted
true power!
I would rather die than be second to a lunatic!
That can be arranged!
And as he raises his wand, theres another flash of red light from the side and Lord Voldemort
snarls in sudden pain and before Draco can identify the spell that was cast
And there he is, appearing from nowhere, all taut muscles and burning eyes, standing in front of
Draco with his wand out and ready.
Do not touch my son!
All of Dracos plans about getting himself and Professor Snape out go out the window with this
development. His mind spins as he tries to come up with a new plan, but he cant, more Death
Eaters are arriving, there are too many variables, how is he
Something in the Malfoy bloodline, the Dark Lord says, his voice deadly. Traitors, all.
You took my wife from me, you creature, but you will not have my son!
Stand down, Lucius! comes another voice, and Draco recognizes it as Bellatrixs. Youre
And he is or rather, they are. Greyback, Avery, Nott, Goyle, Rodolphus, theyre all filtering into
the drawing room from the far doors, wands out, and the Dark Lord approaches.
He will die screaming, Lord Voldemort snarls. I will break his body and mind and soul and he
will beg for death before the end. And so will you!
Draco, run, Lucius says as the Death Eaters converge.
Draco looks from his father to Professor Snape to the Dark Lord to the other Death Eaters and he
cant think of a way out, there is no way out, he cant save everyone, he cant, he cant
Father Draco says, finding that he can barely speak.
Run! he cries. I couldnt save you from torture or your mother from death, but I can do this;
run, now!
And Draco knows there is no other way its run now or die but for a moment he cant move,
he cant even breathe his father Professor Snape no, no, no, please no
The spells start to fly and the shock of sound and energy and light sends Draco running, pushing
back out of the drawing room and running, running behind him, the clash and clatter of magic,
screaming, dreadful screaming, he runs and runs out the door of the Malfoy Manor and his father
is dead, his father is dead, and all Draco can do is run.

10 April, 1996
Destiny is not a matter of chance; its a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, its a
thing to be achieved.
William Jennings Bryan

Mr. Malfoy!
The arc of golden light that comes glaring out from the castle is enough to make Draco squint. He
cant make out the details of the figure at the door, but the voice and stature tell him enough, and
after nearly three days on the lam, its still a damn good sight.
Professor Flitwick
Come in, come in! The headmaster sent me down to fetch you the moment he got your owl oh,
goodness, dont you look a sight!
Draco has no doubts. Voldemorts grip on the Ministry is too tight to risk travelling through any
official channels. Draco has spent the last few days moving north into Scotland via an
uncomfortable but unpredictable combination of brooms, bootleg portkeys, and Muggle trains.
When he could not find accommodations, he conjured tents and slept in the forest.
Wheres Professor Snape? he asks as soon as Professor Flitwick closes the door.
Hes been missing
Damn it. He wasnt able to escape, then. Draco can imagine, all too well, what hes being put
through. The thought makes him ragged and raw and he has to do something, anything. Please
I need to see Dumbledore
Yes, my boy, of course, Professor Flitwick says. He told me to take you straight to him
come, come, this way.
He follows Professor Flitwick through the castle who leaves him at the Headmasters office (Jelly
Babies), trying not to think about what Professor Snape is going through.
As soon as he makes it to the top of the spiral staircase and through the double doors leading
inside, the first thing he sees
Day-ko Day-ko Day-ko Day-ko Day-ko!
Draco nearly sobs in relief at the sight of them, two of the most important people in his world,
both alive, both well, both safe, with Lyra squirming in Harrys arms and reaching out for him. He
closes the distance between them, gripping Harrys hands with his own and burying his face in
Lyras hair, and theyre fine, he chants to himself, theyre fine, theyre both fine.

Youre okay, Harry breathes. Professor Dumbledore called me in he wouldnt say

He knows, Draco says. Voldemort knows. He figured it out when he saw Lyra missing.
Shes missed you, Harry says, sounding choked and a bit teary. She barely sleeps.
Oh, my sweet girl, Draco says, taking her when Harry passes her off and hugging her to his
chest. Her tiny arms grip him tightly around the neck.
Mr. Malfoy.
Draco turns. Professor Dumbledore is standing at his desk, expression soft.
I understand you missed your sister, but there are things he begins, but Draco cuts him off.
There are exactly three Horcruxes left, he says, because theres no point in mincing words.
Theres Nagini, his familiar; Helga Hufflepuffs goblet, which is tucked away in a rift outside
space and time long story, Ill explain later; and then theres the diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw,
which is in the Room of Hidden Things. The diary and the locket are on their way to the sun, and
the ring unless Im much mistaken, Headmaster was destroyed by you.
His words seem to quiet the room. Even Lyra stops fussing. Professor Dumbledore is staring at
him, silent and just a little bit astonished.
Well, Professor Dumbledore says after a moment. If there was any lingering doubt as to your
true allegiance, I suppose thats been erased.
Hes not going to take my defection well, Draco continues. I had wanted to do it on my own
terms, to catch him off-guard, but obviously things havent gone to plan.
Day-ko, Lyra sighs contentedly into his neck.
Under the circumstances, youve performed admirably, Professor Dumbledore says.
Professor Snape has been taken prisoner.
We know, Harry says grimly, and Draco looks over at him.
You do?
The visions have been getting more frequent lately, he explains. I I saw like I saw with
Draco frowns, swallows. He does not envy Harry this bizarre, inexplicable connection he has to
the Dark Lord.
Our first priority needs to be getting him out, Draco says.
That wont be easy, Professor Dumbledore says, frowning. The Malfoy Manor, as you know,
is extremely well-fortified and -warded. And Im sure theyve already been changed from the ones
you remember.
I know it wont be easy, Draco returns. I didnt expect it to be. But theres no other choice. We
cant just leave him there.
Harry nods. Professor Dumbledore hesitates, opening his mouth as if to make a point, but seems to

second-guess himself and eventually nods as well.

Very well, he says, but we must be quick with it. Voldemorts grip on Hogwarts is tightening,
and he will not slow down now that he knows youre here. Then theres the matter of the four
remaining Horcruxes.
Ill come up with something, Draco says. Theres one other thing.
Draco wets his lips as they both look to him expectantly.
Theres a prophecy, he continues. Its about Harry.
Harry narrows his eyes in confusion. But to Dracos surprise, Professor Dumbledore has no
discernible reaction. He spends a moment wondering how
and then, all at once, it hits him. His mind races ahead of the rest of him, and all the dots
Whereas: Professor Dumbledore is not surprised at the existence of a prophecy about Harry
because he already knows, thus explaining his desire to test Harrys character and mettle in his
first year.
Whereas: knowing about the prophecy means knowing about Harrys foretold death, though
clearly Harry does not know.
Four Horcuxes, Draco says. You said four Horcuxes, you said
Mr. Malfoy
its all jumbled, the facts come rapid fire, tumbling one after the other four Horcruxes, Harrys
prophesied death, a power the Dark Lord knows not, the visions, the Parseltongue, oh, God
Dracos mind stutters to a halt
You son of a bitch, Draco says. His body is trying to catch up with his mind, but the coldness
and the rage is already there, a raw, instinctual reaction. You son of a bitch.
Draco, Harry says, frowning. Youre doing that thing where youre fifty steps ahead and not
How long have you known.
Professor Dumbledore is not having any trouble keeping up, clearly. He stares at Draco with an
even, tragic gaze.
Answer me! Draco shouts suddenly, and the sound of it startles Lyra and starts her crying. Harry
jerks back in similar surprise.
Since before the Triwizard Tournament, Professor Dumbledore replies. When Harry had his
first vision.
Two years! Draco cries, and Lyra wails even louder. For two years you knew you knew and
you never said you never even thought to mention!
Draco, what are you Harry begins.

Im so stupid, Draco says, knotting a hand in his hair as Lyra cries. I should have known,
should have seen it there are a million ways Dark Magic can leave lasting effects and
connections, but it was more than that, it was always more than that, I should have known
You couldnt have known, Professor Dumbledore says gently.
Then you should have told me! You should have told Harry!
I did what I thought was best.
It is not your life! You do not get to decide what is best! he shouts. Thats always what it comes
down to with you, isnt it? Doing what you think is best putting peoples lives in danger,
keeping secrets!
It is the fate of the Wizarding World! Professor Dumbledore suddenly bellows, slamming his
palms onto his desk. Who are you to say one life means more than all magical civilization?
Who am I? Who are you? What gives you the right to decide whats important?
Will someone please tell me whats going on! Harry cries suddenly.
Draco sets his jaw. He meets Dumbledores gaze unflinchingly, challengingly, and Dumbledore
does not shy away from it.
At least Voldemort is honest about his intentions, Draco hisses as Lyra sobs into his shoulder.
You youre a far worse breed of maniac. Harry is not your chess piece.
He storms from the office before Dumbledore can respond. He soothes Lyra with his shaking
hands shaking from the venom, or maybe from the sheer, blood-curdling rage, he doesnt know
and makes his way out. He hears Harry at his heels.
Draco! Draco, wait!
He stops when he reaches the corridor and leans against the wall, stroking Lyras back and trying
to calm her, or maybe himself, down.
You cant just what the hell was what happened?
Harry looks frantic, confused, terrified. Draco cant blame him. He stares at him and the words
catch in his throat, and for a moment he wonders if this is why Dumbledore never told him,
because he couldnt bear looking into the face of a teenager and saying
Youre a Horcrux.
Harrys reaction is not immediate. His mouth is open slightly, his brow furrowed.
And the prophecy Draco swallows, shuts his eyes. Ill come on, Ill explain.

15 May, 1996
Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.
Jim Morrison

For one instant, one terrible, fleeting moment, Draco thinks he sees the metal start to warp.
The frostflame burns cold, bright blue against glossy silver, and he tries, he tries so hard to focus,
to concentrate, to keep his hand steady, just for a little while, just long enough to
Damn it!
He presses the warm cloth to his jaw, over the streak of frostbitten skin. Its not the first time hes
injured himself with the frostflame spell tonight, but Draco thinks it might be the last.
This isnt working, clearly. Nothing is working.
Nothing can get the damned collar off.
All right? Harry asks from the other side of the room. Dumbledore has given Draco quarters in
one of the disused prefect bedrooms a small but handsome room with a large window and a
double bed, with a chair transfigured into a cot for Lyra.
Its not working, Draco says, voice tight and clipped. Nothings working.
Well come up with something, Harry says. We can find a curse breaker, maybe
The fucking thing isnt even cursed, Draco snaps. Its doesnt even use Dark Magic, its just
spellwork, and the layers of magic are so damned tight that I cant even tell them apart!
Well, Harry returns, patiently, I doubt Voldemort got to where he is by being a shit wizard.
Draco stands up so abruptly that he knocks his chair over. It clatters loudly against the floor, and
Lyra, playing with her stuffed dragon, yelps in surprise.
Draco, Harry says.
I wanted the damn thing off, he says, clawing at the skin around the collar to scratch an itch that
isnt there. I want it off, Harry. I cant handle it anymore.
I know, Harry says.
I have other things I need to think about! Draco continues, voice rising in volume, and he feels
like every nerve in his body is fraying at the end, unraveling. I need to come up with a way to
break into the Malfoy Manor and rescue Professor Snape and I need to figure out how to
dismantle a shadow government and win a bloody damned war and I cant because I cant get this
fucking collar off!

Draco, youre frightening Lyra.

How am I supposed to focus? He keeps clawing at the collar, tugging desperately, but it just
keeps stinging him, second by second, drop by drop, tiny pulses of deadly venom nullified only
by dangerous antivenom. How can I think when I just the fucking venom, and I cant and my
father and Professor Snape and and the prophecy, and you and I cant do it
And Draco realizes, for the first time, the truth of the words.
I cant do it, he says, sinking against the wall, and he feels his voice breaking under the strain of
the understanding. I cant do it, its too much, I cant. I cant do this, Harry.
He hears Harry stand up from where hed been playing with Lyra on the floor and walk toward
him, but Draco barely hears him.
I cant fall asleep without dreaming about my mothers gutted corpse or my father taking a
Killing Curse for me, Draco says, and the trembling turns into full-on shaking, and his eyes are
burning, and its getting hard to breathe. I cant go a single hour without thinking about what
they must be putting Professor Snape through, without thinking about the fucking prophecy that
says you have to die
and I just cant do it, Harry, I cant! Im just one person! I cant handle my parents deaths, my
godfathers torture, my boyfriends foretold doom and what I am beginning to suspect is an
untreated case of PTSD and still win a fucking war!
There are hands on his face, and Draco collapses under his own weight. Harry is there to catch
him, figuratively and literally, and lower them both onto the floor. Draco holds onto him for dear
life, face buried in the front of Harrys robes, and breaks down.
Draco, I know you dont see it, Harry says into his hair, but you are so much stronger than you
realize. What you went through would have killed anyone else. That youre still even here, still
thinking, still functioning, still a bloody genius is incredible. You can do this, I know you can,
because you practically already have.
And even if you cant do this alone, thats okay. You arent alone. You have me, you have the
Order and the DA, well all help you.
Draco hears his words and wants so desperately to be comforted by them, but hope seems
impossible and beyond that, hope seems like lunacy. What is there to be hopeful for? Draco
cant see past the dreadful, venomous darkness that shrouds his mind. He cant see past the vivid
memories of his parents dying, of his godfather being tortured, of Harrys death-yet-to-come.
Day-ko dagon.
It is perhaps the only thing that can distract Draco from the abyss that is his mind. He looks over at
Lyra, who has crawled over toward him with her stuffed dragon and is holding it out to him
Dagon, she says again.
I think she wants you to feel better, Harry says, smiling, and Draco takes a few hoarse,
shuddering breathes and scrapes at his eyes with the heels of his palms. Shes giving you her

Thank you, Lyra, Draco manages, gently taking the dragon and hugging it more for Lyras
benefit than his own. Lyra seems pleased, and sits down next to them.
Not even a year old and already looking out for others, Harry says, stroking a hand through her
hair. Dont be alarmed, Draco, but I think your sister might be a Hufflepuff.
Harry dagon? Lyra asks.
I think your big brother needs it more than I do, but thank you.
Day-ko dagon, Lyra answers, apparently understanding.
How come she can say the R in your name? Draco cant help but ask, though his voice is still
wet and strained with tears.
She likes me better, obviously, Harry says, sounding more than a bit cheeky. He scoops her up
and sets her in his lap. He tickles her and she lets out an uproarious laugh, squirming in his arms.
Despite himself, Draco smiles.
I cant believe youre the one comforting me, Draco says. Youre the one who
The smile on Harrys face fades, but only fractionally. He stops tickling Lyra, who grabs two
fingers of his hand as a defensive measure.
Well, Harry answers, slowly, I wont lie and say Im happy about it, but I guess if it is my
destiny to die, I might as well enjoy the ride.
I dont believe in destiny, Draco says him, and Harry smiles bitterly. Im serious. To hell with
the prophecy. We should talk to Trelawney. I bet she could
Draco, Harry says, did no one tell you?
Tell me what?
Harry frowns. Professor Trelawney is dead, he tells him softly. She died of her wounds not
long after you got her to safety.
Draco opens his mouth, but doesnt say anything.
At once, he thinks back to the conversation theyd had just after Greyback had finished with her,
about how certain she was that she was going to die. He also thinks back to how hed flown in the
face of it and broken her out anyway, in some furious attempt to defy fate.
Maybe, Draco thinks with sudden, brutal, painful clarity, that is what destiny is. Maybe destiny
cant be defied at all, simply because theres nothing to defy, because it exists independent of
human experience.
Maybe Harry really will die. Maybe it doesnt matter what Draco does.
They sit for a while in silence, and Dracos head is full of thoughts of time and chaos and fate in
the shape of spiderwebs.

20 June, 1996
There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,
but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

These are certainly lofty goals, Mr. Malfoy.

I know, Draco concedes as they leave her office. Can you do it?
Professor McGonagall looks again at the long roll of parchment covered in Dracos notes. The
severe lines of her face are contorted into a frown.
Yes, she says eventually. Not on my own, of course for sheer volume of spellwork, well
need all the professors and many more volunteers besides, but yes. I think it is doable.
Do you have a time frame in mind?
As soon as possible, Draco admits. At the moment this whole situation is stuck in some sort of
political limbo, but I dont imagine things will stay that way forever. The sooner we can prepare
for the inevitable crisis, the better.
If I may ask did you come up with all of this yourself?
Draco raises an eyebrow and doesnt answer. Profesor McGonagall allows herself a vague smirk
before folding the parchment up and tucking it into her robe.
Id be careful, Mr. Malfoy, Professor McGonagall says. With the way the Ministry is behaving
these days, I dont imagine such aggressive genius will be approved of.
Draco long ago became immune to compliments, particularly relating to his intellect, but he does
his best not to be ungracious. If you come up with any questions, you know where to find me.
She inclines her head, Draco inclines his, and they part ways. It is for that reason that Draco has
always quite liked Professor McGonagall: she has the unique gift of succinctness in her dealings.
As soon as he makes it into the corridor, he throws on Harrys invisibility cloak. Draco knows that
Voldemort knows (and therefore that Avery knows) that Draco is in Hogwarts, but he cant risk
making it obvious. Ever since escaping the Malfoy Manor, Draco has become a known fugitive,
wanted for unspecified crimes against the Ministry. Draco cant give Avery a reason to call in
aurors on him.
So most of his days are spent like this: moving from room to room under the safety of Harrys
invisibility cloak, deftly avoiding Avery and the more zealous supporters of the Ministry and their
recent surge of interest in blood purism, while he plots an intricate map of the coming war and

how they intend to fight in it.

He is halfway back to his room when he hears familiar voices shouting down the hallway, and he
slows to a stop.
will not allow it!
This is not yours to allow or disallow! This is a Ministry affidavit!
To hell with the Ministry and its affidavits! The system is broken beyond repair and I will not
allow you to oust our Headmaster!
Draco takes in a breath and hurries toward the source of the sounds.
I would advise that you step out of the way, snarls a low voice that Draco recognizes as
Averys, and when he comes around the corner he seems him glaring down at Professor Flitwick,
who is so livid that he is almost shaking.
Filius, says Professor Dumbledore, who is just behind Avery, please.
No! Professor Flitwick cries. Albus, I will not stand for this!
It is the opinion of the Minister, after considerable review, Avery says sharply, that Albus
Dumbledore is unfit for his current position of Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry, and that effective immediately, he is to be removed from the position
If you think for a moment that we dont see right through your motivations, you are out of your
mind! Professor Flitwick says shrilly, gesticulating wildly with both hands. This has nothing to
do with Albuss suitability as headmaster and everything to do with his political leanings and how
he refuses to act a sycophant to the Ministrys agenda!
Careful, Filius, Avery snarls. Youre starting to sound a bit unfit, yourself.
I will not be bullied by a Death Eater!
Gentlemen, please, Professor Dumbledore says warily.
This is bad very bad. Draco knows exactly how much sway Avery or to be more specific,
Voldemort has within the Ministry these days, and how quickly he could bring ruin not only to
Professors Flitwick and Dumbledore, but to Hogwarts. And beyond that, Draco knows that Avery
has a temper, and is nearly as skilled a duelist as Professor Flitwick, if not more so.
This is happening more quickly than Draco had anticipated it would. He realizes that there is no
longer any time. The lines have to be drawn and drawn now.
Step out of the way, goblin, Avery snarls, moving forward with a steady and dangerous gait,
producing his wand from his pocket, or you will be carried out in pieces.
Avery lets out a shout and his wand flies from his hand, skittering across the floor. He whirls on a
foot just as Draco pulls off the invisibility cloak.
Keep away from my head of house, Avery.
The expression on his face is inscrutable some combination of anger and surprise and certainty.

And now Hogwarts is harboring known fugitives.

Mr. Malfoy, Professor Dumbledore says. What are you?
Times up, Draco answers before he can finish the question. This is where it must start,
Headmaster. Theres no other option.
Are you sure thats wise? Professor Flitwick asks lowly.
It has less to do with wisdom and more to do with necessity.
I am sure the Minister will be very interested to know that Draco Malfoy is being harbored here,
and Im sure the repercussions will be
Yes, Draco interjects, stepping forward, go. Go tell them Im here. Tell them that this school
has been hiding a fugitive and a traitor. Tell them all about it. And then just try to change it.
Henceforth, Professor Dumbledore says, slowly, reluctantly, Hogwarts as an institution and
body defects from the control of the Ministry of Magic. We will no longer recognize or respect
their authority.
Averys dark eyes dart between them. His lips are pulled back from his teeth. You really believe
you can keep this up? he asks, voice dangerous. One school against the entire government? This
will be seen as sedition, an act of war against the Ministry
Youve seen what I can do, Avery, Draco says, stepping forward, hand flexing at his side.
Your puppet regime only exists as a product of my imagination. You know what Im capable of.
So ask yourself really ask yourself
he comes to a stop in front of Avery, eyes narrowed, body taut
do you honestly think you can stop me?
Avery does not answer. His face speaks of cool impassiveness, but Draco can see, deep under the
surface, the tremors and ripples of uncertainty.
Go tell your master what youve seen, Draco snarls. And make sure he knows that Im not
scared of him.

21 June, 1996
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be.
William Wordsworth

We will be putting up what is called a ward of intention, McGonagall calls out to the group of
people before which she is amassed. A complicated spell on its own right, and one made all the
more difficult by sheer size
Lyra, stop fussing
That! That!
Ssh, Harry says, hush.
I think she wants to play with the butterflies, Draco says.
will encompass not just the grounds of Hogwarts, but Hogsmeade as well
That! Lyra squirms and kicks Harry in the ribs in the process of reaching out towards the patch
of lavender, which is swarmed with monarch butterflies. Play!
Ssh! Harry says again. Be quiet, Lyra, you have to be quiet, sweetie.
pool our magical energy in order to cast it at the necessary strength and flexibility. This is not
an easy process, but it is one which will
Play! Lyra insists, all but falling out of Harrys arms in an attempt to get to the butterflies. A few
people toward the back of the group give them dirty looks. Draco smiles apologetically.
Harry groans. We should have left her with the house-elves.
She needs to spend more time outside, Draco says. Studies have shown that early exposure to
the outdoors boosts immune function.
When the hell have you had time to research that?
if successful, will act as a barrier to anyone whose intentions are not pure. That is to say, no
one will be able to pass through the ward who means to do anything duplicitous. The incantation
to pool magical energy
I can speed read, Draco answers.
Of course you can, Harry says, looking exhausted, but grinning. Lyra keeps squirming in his

arms and making grabbing motions in the direction of the butterflies.

Hi, Harry, comes a voice from behind, dizzy and vague and familiar. When Draco turns, Luna
is approaching, her blonde hair bright in the summer sun, Hermione at her side.
Hi, Harry, Hermione says, hi, Draco.
Hi! Lyra interjects, momentarily distracted from the butterflies. Hi is a new word for her, one
which she has been using at every opportunity.
Hello, Lyra, Luna says.
Luna, Hermione, what are you doing out here? Harry asks.
Looking for you, Luna answers. I thought we should tell you we found the diadem.
Draco gives a start. You did?
It wasnt easy, she says, and when Lyra reaches out for her necklace of butterbeer corks, Luna
slips it off her neck and hands it to her without compunction. It took us several weeks. It got a lot
easier once Professor Avery left. He was also looking for it.
Lyra gums enthusiastically on some of the butterbeer corks, but her eyes are back on the butterflies
near the patch of lavender.
Shes so cute, Hermione says, making what is clearly a concerted effort not to look too smitten.
Do you have it on you? Draco asks.
The diadem, Draco says. Do you have it on you?
Oh, Hermione says. Yes, its
She reaches into her bag and produces a small magical lockbox likely, Draco surmises, the one
Professor Flitwick had her make as an exercise and hands it to Draco. When Draco opens it,
hes nearly knocked flat with the scent of Dark Magic.
Yeah, he says, thats definitely a Horcrux. I cant believe you found it; well done.
Can I hold her? Hermione asks, clearly not listening.
Everyone form a circle! comes Professor McGonagalls voice.
Actually, that would be brilliant, Harry says. Could you take her to that patch of lavender? She
wants to play with the ow! Lyra, stop kicking me!
Shes reaching out for the butterflies with one hand and gnawing at Lunas butterbeer cork
necklace with the other, as if she cant decide where her attention should be.
Well look after her, Hermione assures him, and the minute Harry passes her off, Hermione, by
her expression, forgets Harry and Draco still exist.
Legs that strong, shell be a fine flyer, Harry says, rubbing his ribs.
Draco shuts the magical lockbox and slips it into his messenger bag as they move to join the circle.

Ill have to build another teapot rocket, Draco says.

Surely theres an easier way to destroy a Horcrux than launching it into the sun.
The circle of people is nearly fifty yards across, comprised of what looks like every professor and
faculty member at Hogwarts as well as several people from Hogsmeade. Draco and Harry insert
themselves into the ring. Draco takes Harrys hand as well as the hand of Professor Sprout, next to
him, who smiles cheerfully in his direction.
If there is, Draco says as the crowd quiets, I havent thought of one.
Incantatem junctim, Professor McGonagall says.
In junctim opis, choruses the rest of the circle, and at once, Draco feels a sensation that starts in
his fingertips and quickly courses through his entire body.
It is a raw, visceral feeling, profound and uncomplicated pure magical energy, pooled and
amplified. It is strong, stronger than Draco expected or prepared for.
It is incredible.
Incantatem junctim, Professor McGonagall says again.
In junctim opis, repeats the rest, though Draco finds himself strangely speechless. For a moment
Draco is not sure what about this sensation is so breathtaking, what about it makes his throat tight
and his eyes burn, until it occurs to him
Incantatem junctim.
In junctim opis.
its the connection. He feels it with everyone in the circle, with Harry and Professor
McGonagall and Madame Hooch and the dozen strangers from Hogsmeade. It is strong and
foundational like the earth, deep and quiet like the sea. It is binding them together, stripping away
all the petty things that divide and making Draco so incredibly, acutely aware aware of life and
consciousness and shared experience and spirit
There is a thrum of magic, deep and sonorous, and the air around them turns deep violet before
exploding outward with a crash of sound and light and energy, in an ever-expanding dome that
grows until it brushes the sky, until Hogwarts is shrouded, until the ward is secure, an invisible
And Dracos entire life has changed, somehow, in some inexplicable way.
He feels the ties that bind him to everything not just the people in the circle, but all
consciousness, all life and he is reminded of what makes him strong, of what he is fighting for.
For an instant, he sees through all the abstract rules that govern the universe and observes the
beautiful design in the chaos. He is conscious. He is alive.
Draco, are you all right?
Draco looks over at Harry, but he cant answer.
You have made yourselves enemies of the state today, Professor McGonagall says somberly.
You have slung the first spell in a war. There will be dark times ahead.

Youre crying
Harry pulls his hand from Dracos and swipes his thumb across Dracos cheek, smearing the tears
that Draco did not realize were there. Draco leans into his hand and shuts his eyes.
There are those that say despair is only a state of mind, Professor McGonagall continues.
Those people have never fought in a war. Despair is fearing for your life, for the future and
safety of your children; despair is taking a stand against the evils of the world while knowing that
it may not make a difference. Despair is war.
Human consciousness is a miracle, Draco says.
But there are things worth fighting for, she says, worth dying for. And despair, at its very
blackest, is a reminder of those things, in the same way pain is a reminder of being alive.
Draco closes the gap between them and buries himself in Harry. He breathes in the scent of cedar
and soap and relishes in it.
All right, hugging is nice, he says. I dont quite understand why its happening, but its nice.
Find what you fight for and hold onto it, Professor McGonagall says. And when you despair,
remember it.
I love you so much, Draco says into Harrys chest.
Draco, are you really all right?
Im wonderful, he says, and he is. He is a part of a grand, chaotic, impossible design. He is
despairing and hopeful and shattered and whole all at once. He is the universe experiencing itself.
For the first time in so many months, he feels steady. Still broken, maybe still hurting, still
frightened but reassured.
He remembers his meaning and why he chose it.

16 July, 1996
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
Dr. Seuss

When Draco pushes his way through to the Great Hall, he stops short in surprise at the sheer
number of people present.
Who the hell are you?
There must be at least two dozen of them, and when he speaks, they all look toward Draco. He
recognizes many but not, for the most part, past a distant familiarity. They are mostly Gryffindors
and Ravenclaws, with a scattering of Hufflepuffs and Slytherins, the bulk past their fourth year.
A boy near the door rises. Draco recognizes him but cant quite place his name.
Harry told us there would be a meeting, he says. Were the DA.
Draco runs his tongue along his teeth, looking out over their faces. They stare back at him in tightlipped silence.
The name occurs to him. Longbottom, right?
He smiles lopsidedly and nods. Neville. I dont think weve properly met.
Youre not wrong, Draco answers. What are you all doing here? The semesters out.
Professor Dumbledore made leaving optional, says a girl that Draco recognizes as Cho Chang.
He told us about how Hogwarts defected, and said if we didnt feel safe
With the Ministry doing all those vile Muggle Born roundups, supplies the boy next to her,
Anthony Goldstein. And Merlin, how long as it been since Dracos seen him?
Cho nods. If we didnt feel safe, she continues, we could stay here.
Draco hadnt been present for the speech, but he could picture it well enough. Not that Draco
wasnt still cross with Professor Dumbledore he most certainly was but he knows he could be
trusted to keep safe the student body at large, if nothing else.
So youre really back, says a boy a Hufflepuff Ernie something. Theres an edge of awe to
his voice. Harry said that
Draco frowns and shrugs his bag off his shoulder, setting it down on the table.
Is it true? Ernie something asks.
Look, theres the collar! says the girl across the table from him, one of the Gryffindor Quidditch

team players whose name escapes Draco. She stands up and reaches one hand out to touch it.
Draco jerks away from her hand and levels her with a distrusting look. At once, she stares down at
the table guiltily.
Sorry, she mutters.
So you all elected to stay? Draco asks. I know many of you have nothing to fear from the
Ministry in terms of blood status.
Its a matter of principle, Neville says, urging the girl whod tried to touch the collar to sit down.
We want to stand with Hogwarts and the reasons its defecting.
It strikes Draco as unusual for some reason. He is aware, of course, of the far-reaching and
destructive new machinations of the Ministry of Magic largely because he helped to design them
but after so much time within the microcosm of his own head, the reality that other people are
affected, passionate even, about it seems surprising.
How very idealist.
Neville smirks. Whats wrong with idealism?
Nothing, in proper doses, Draco answers. I just hope you all know that this war has very little
to do with social justice and blood egalitarianism. Or at least, less than you seem to think. Thats
just a convenient rallying cry.
No war is ever so simple that its reducible to a single to a single talking point, says a voice from
behind, and when Draco turns, Harry, Hermione and Luna have all arrived, with Professor
Dumbledore trailing behind.
Harry, Draco says, you might have warned me that my army was so large.
Harry grins and easily threads his hand in Dracos when theyre close enough. Draco takes a
moment to marvel at the fact that just a few months ago, this person discovered that he has been
prophesied to die. He envies Harrys resilience.
Im gladdened to see such enthusiasm for justice, Professor Dumbledore says, bright blue eyes
scanning the rows of faces assembled. I admit, when I made the offer for students to stay the
summer, I hadnt expected so many to take up the offer.
How are you feeling, Draco? Luna asks him, head canted to one side, wide eyes eerily still and
transfixed on Dracos face.
Been better.
That collar is ferocious, she comments lightly, with the same tone shed use to remark on the
weather. I can sense its magical aura from here.
Its proving to be a bit of a challenge to get off, Draco says with some reluctance, sitting down
at the table. Hermione bends down to look at it more closely.
Youve tried purging spells and counter-charms? she asks.
In every variation and combination under the sun.
I know a few books that might help, she offers, sitting down next to him. Luna takes his other

Have you considered that nargles might be involved? Luna asks.
Perhaps we should focus on the matter at hand, Draco says.
Right, Harry says. We did assemble you all for a reason. Resources being limited as they are,
were asking for the DAs help on a rescue mission.
Who needs rescuing? Neville asks, sitting down as Harry does.
Professor Snape, Harry answers. Draco thinks hes come up with a plan to infiltrate the Malfoy
Manor and get him out, but he cant do it with a team of less than twenty.
How do we know Cho begins, but she flinches and frowns sympathetically at Harry. Sorry,
but how do we know hes still you know alive?
The Dark Lord wouldnt kill him, Draco answers flatly.
How can you be sure? Cho challenges.
He has met him, Cho, Ernie something says. His voice is somewhere between reverent and
He would have killed my father to send a message, Draco says, but he wouldnt have killed
Professor Snape. Hes more valuable alive, as a bargaining chip. He knows Ill do anything to get
him out.
Anthony Goldstein sits up a bit straighter in alarm. So wait You-Know-Who knows that
were coming?
Of course he does, Draco answers. If he werent completely out of his mind, hed be smarter
than me. And mad as he is, he still has a not insignificant genius.
So then why the hell are we going right into what is surely a trap? Anthony says, sounding
somewhat shrill.
This mission is volunteer-only, Harry assures him, no one is expected to
I do have some advantage, Draco interjects. He knows what, but he doesnt know when or
how. All things considered, thats a pretty good edge.
Good enough to just walk into a trap?
Its only a trap if it catches you off-guard, Draco says. Otherwise its just an inconvenience.
The response doesnt seem to mollify anyone, except perhaps Neville, whos nodding.
Right, Neville says, Im in. When do we leave?
Professor Dumbledore smiles. We havent even told you the plan yet, Mr. Longbottom.
Im sure its brilliant, he says. No sense in not trusting the smartest person in a room.
Draco decides he likes Neville.
Still, Harry says, we should discuss the itinerary first. Once weve outlined how were going to

do it, well let you all decide for yourselves if you want to come.
Its going to be dangerous, Draco says flatly. Extremely dangerous. Your safety cant be
Tense silence stretches across the table, heavy and dark, until Neville abruptly breaks it:
Sounds like fun.

31 July, 1996
For mad I may be, but I will never be convenient.
Jennifer Donnelly
Playlist KESHA - "BLOW"

Traitor! Vermin! The Dark Lord will flay you for this! You will die screaming like your father!
There will be
Neville abruptly casts a spell that knocks Bellatrix unconscious. She sags forward and collapses
on the floor.
Dracos eyes scan the dark hallways stretching out from the main chamber in the cellar. Break all
the doors down.
Sirius takes one hallway, Harry takes the other, and one by one, they start sending doors clattering
You two, Draco says to Tonks and Lupin, watch the door. They probably wont come back
but I dont want to hang the success of this mission on an adverb.
There are Muggles! Sirius calls.
How many? Draco calls back.
Two in this room, comes his response, followed by another clap of a door flying open. Lots,
looks like.
Thomas Thomas, youre Muggle Born, arent you?
Dean Thomas is at his side a moment later, flexing his hand around his wand. Half-blood, he
says, but I can talk them down well enough.
Draco gestures down the hallway with a nod of his head and Dean heads into the nearest cell.
The little bird is all ready to go, Hermione says as she pushes her way down the steps past
Lupin and Tonks. I set it up in the drawing room and its waiting on your command.
Strange name for that, by the way, Neville interjects. Why little bird?
Draco! Harry shouts suddenly, and its a good thing, because Draco doesnt really want to
explain. I found him!
Draco feels a clutch of some awful combination of terror and excitement and anticipation and
dread that rips him up. He hurries forward on stiff legs and pushes into the last open door, where

Professor Snape!

Harry is crouched in front of him where hes shackled to the wall, and God, he looks awful
bruised and gaunt and matted with blood and Harry is gently patting his face, though his
expression betrays him. His eyes are full of tears, and all at once Draco finds his own eyes burning
as well.
Professor Snape, wake up, Harry says, voice thick, gently shaking him by the front of his robes
or whats left of them. Wake up!
His pulse, Draco says shortly, and Harry hurriedly presses two fingers into the side of his neck.
A beat, then Hes alive! Hes alive.
Professor McGonagall! Shes the only one with any field medical training, and by the state of
him, he needs some urgently. He swoops down next to Harry, though his legs protest the
movement his legs protest most movement these days, as do his hands, thanks to the antivenom
and puts a palm flat against his chest. Ennervate.
Professor Snape comes awake with a jerk and a dreadful wheezing sound.
Dont move, Draco says when, wild-eyed and frantic, he starts to thrash. Professor! Its all
right, youre all right now, dont struggle!
Harry grips the chain of the manacle keeping him shackled to the wall and it promptly turns bright
red before breaking apart with a hiss of steam. Professor Snapes newly-freed arm collapses at his
Youre all right, Draco repeats, though talking is becoming harder. This is your rescue mission.
Were getting you out.
Draco can see him fighting away the terror and delirium, and his dark eyes slowly begin to
refocus. He stares at Draco and wheezes while Harry goes around to free his other hand.
Ive had this dream before, Professor Snape rasps and Draco is not going to let himself break
down, not now.
If this were a dream, Draco says, you would doubtlessly be in less pain.
Professor McGonagall is hurrying in from the open door, pulling her wand from her sleeve.
But Professor Snape isnt looking at her hes staring at Draco, and, when his other arm is freed,
over at Harry.
My boys he begins, but the word hitches in his throat.
Youre all right, Harry tells him urgently, youre getting out. Youre going to be fine.
Ill take care of him, Professor McGonagall says. Ill get him walking. You need to get back
upstairs and help with evacuation.
Draco surrenders to the nearly overpowering desire to hug him, just once, and he feels Professor
Snape grip him as tightly as he can which, with what little strength he has, isnt very tight at all
and Draco buries his face in the crook of his neck. Under the smell of blood and festering wounds,
he can detect the familiar scent of reagents and salves and old books.

Hurry, Mr. Malfoy, Professor McGonagall says urgently, and Draco forces himself to let go and
rise to his feet.
Harry, he says, and Harry swallows and falls in line next to him as he leaves.
Wounded Muggles are hobbling down the hallway behind Dean Thomas, whos offering all the
reassurance he can. Draco pushes his way to the front of the pack and starts up the stairs.
We dont have much longer, according to your timetable, Harry says. We need to get everyone
out as soon as possible.
Draco briefly consults his pocketwatch. Were running behind schedule. Well leave through the
west exit; make sure everyone knows.
Harry starts barking out orders and Draco heads past Lupin and Tonks and up the steps, out of the
cellar. The corridors of the Malfoy Manor are dark and still, unnaturally. He moves into the study,
where several members of the DA and some from the Order are turning it over in search of useful
Mr. Malfoy, says Professor Dumbledore, standing by the door. Did you find him?
Draco nods. Worse for wear, but alive. Professor McGonagall is tending to him. Find the good
stuff yet?
Not much, but enough to go on, he answers, watching as Moody overturns a heavy oak desk.
Well have plenty to consider when we make it back to Grimmauld Place.
He was never a very assiduous record-keeper, but theres doubtlessly something worth reading

The conversation is cut short when theres a tremendous clatter from the entrance hall. Draco puts
it together at once and his blood runs cold with the familiar, icy hatred.
Everyone in the study, but particularly the younger members of the DA, looks up.
Hes here, Draco says lowly.
We need to confront him now, Moody growls, before he gets the jump on us.
Emmeline, stay with our younger allies and get them out, Professor Dumbledore says. Alastor,
Hestia with me.
Draco pushes his way out of the study. Its a short enough walk to the wide marble foyer, and as
soon as he comes around the corner
crack! Magic comes clattering out, and Draco realizes that another group has beat them to the
Spells are already being slung he sees gashes of bright red light, hazy green fogs, hears
tremendous clashes and rumbles of energy, and the battle is underway Lupin and Tonks are
engaging Dolohov, Avery is taking on Shacklebolt, Sirius is fighting Greyback Dumbledore
immediately joins the fray, and Draco is considering the best way to help
There he is! My little bird, so indignantly tearing up his cage in protest!
The battle keeps raging, but all at once Dracos focus is razor-sharp.

Lord Voldemort parts the bedlam of the battle as he walks, arms open, white head luminous in the
moonlight streaming through the high window. Draco did not think it possible, but the sight of
him makes him all the colder.
A bomb at the Ministry! Voldemort says, his voice high and clear and hateful. The only thing
you might have given precedence to over freeing your beloved godfather. Well-played; I am
Oh, but youre not as fooled as you might think, Draco says. I did make a bomb, I just didnt
put it in the Ministry. Its waiting for you in the drawing room.
White lips curl back from teeth in the most revolting smile Draco has ever had the misfortune of
seeing. So angry! Is my little bird throwing a temper tantrum?
You think Im bluffing?
Im sure the bomb exists, but I know youd never use it. You were and ever will be valued for
your mind, little bird, not your mettle.
Draco bares his own teeth and flexes his hand at his side. Ill take you down with me if I have to
you, you creature.
All at once, Harry is throwing himself in front of Draco. He is taut and fierce and his magic is
almost warping the air around him from the force of his rage.
Dont you touch him!
Lord Voldemort laughs, just once. Its a dreadful sound. This is not the first time a simpleton has
thrown himself in harms way to save my little birds life. What did happen to that last fellow who
tried this, little bird?
Hes not your little bird, Harry growls. He was never yours.
Oh, but for a time, he was, he says. His voice is almost crooning, light and painfully saccharine.
You should have seen him, Potter. The way he shivered and quaked when I pulled him against
me, the tension, the way he trembled.
Flashes of awful memory batter down the walls of Dracos mind, the weakness and vulnerability
that came with that constant threat of rape and no, not now, he will not let this get to him, not now.
You son of a bitch, Harry hisses. His hand is extended, ready to attack, but trembling visibly.
I could have had him, Voldemort continues, smiling viciously, his wand extended, stalking
toward Harry as he speaks. I could have taken him, claimed him. I still might, once this is all over
once Ive won, I could keep him, have him, my little bird, caged forever
Harry jerks forward and roars, AVADA KEDAVRA!
And almost at the same time Voldemort answers with, EXPELLIARMUS!
Voldemorts red meets Harrys bright green, and it causes a flash of light so tremendous that the
entire room shudders and alights with it two streams of magic meeting in the middle, roaring,
burning, boiling against each other, screaming at an impossible, deafening level that makes the
ground tremble the force of it is so strong that the wards around the Malfoy Manor crack and

start to dissolve, the building itself may actually be collapsing

It is a display of such incredible power that Draco can hardly believe it; hes never seen this much
raw magical energy generated by just two people, and he doesnt know how it will end, he cant
just stand here, the building is falling apart, he has to get them out, but he cant just disarm
Voldemort, not with a spell, not in the middle of all this energy, who knows how any spell might
affect this much tempestuous magic
the idea hits him all at once he needs physical matter to disrupt it Draco reaches into the
pocket of his robe, produces the tiny black rubber ball, and hurls it with all his strength.
It smacks into Voldemorts wrist, just enough force to break the magical stream both spells selfnullify in midair and the force of it cracks open the marble floor with a tremendous sound.
Out! Dumbledore cries.
The building is going to collapse! cries someone else, it sounds like Tonks.
And Draco grabs Harry, who, like Voldemort, has staggered from the force of the energy, and
pulls him, and people are running, running, running to the west exit, and the building is starting to
fall apart great, heavy columns come crashing down, walls break along the seams, windows
shatter they run and run and the dust of his home billows up around him, and as they make it
into the cold night air, Dracos fingers twitch, just once.
In the drawing room, as the building crumbles, as the battle ends, the little bird explodes.

5 August, 1996
Dying is easy, its living that scares me to death.
Annie Lennox

The biggest thing we learned from the documents is that they have plans to put a taboo on the
word Voldemort, Hermione says, leafing through the pile of parchments until she finds the one
she is looking for. More institutionalized fear. Clever, though.
Draco is staring down at his hands. While Hermione is preoccupied with the papers, he presses the
nail of his thumb into the skin of his pointer finger as hard as he can, until blood starts beading.
He should feel pain but he does not.
Apart from that, they seem to have plans for raids, she continues. Going through to addresses
of Muggle Borns who havent come in for registration. Im sure that will be destructive. Well
have to start Project Haven quickly to protect the families of some of the members of the DA.
He presses his thumbnail into his palm of the opposite hand.
He can barely detect any sensation at all.
There are records that theyve been taking more Muggle prisoners, Hermione says. MPs, local
politicians. I think its a fair assessment that theyll be trying to take over the Muggle world once
theyve secured their hold on ours.
Unsurprising, Dumbledore says.
Draco flexes his hands. The stiffness is worse than ever.
He knows what this is. Some part of him has always known. In the doses hes been taking it, the
antivenom is nearly as dangerous as the venom. It has been slowly eating away at his nerves,
making his hands shake, making it difficult to walk, numbing his extremities.
He knows that the symptoms will only get worse. He knows eventually they will paralyze him,
kill him.
Draco is dying, and he cannot muster the effort to be scared.
Right, Tonks says on the far end of the table. So this is bad. Very bad.
Actually, Hermione returns, on the grand scale, Id say this is a good thing. We know what
their plans are, and thanks to the little bird, they dont know we know. And yes, most of them
managed to get out of the manor alive under a strong shielding charm, but considering that we
only lost one, Id say we came out ahead
Never say that again, Draco interjects suddenly. He doesnt look up from his hands, but he can

feel the eyes of everyone else in the room land on him. Dumbledores office is suddenly very,
very quiet.
I Hermione begins, but falters. Im sorry, what?
Death is not a statistic, he continues, lifting his head, and neither is Alastor Moody. He died
saving Siriuss life.
Hermione straightens in her chair, frowning. I didnt mean it like that
I know you didnt, Draco says, but you said it that way and implied it all the same.
We all value Alastors sacrifice, Professor Dumbledore says, but
I will not be lectured on the value of human life by you, Albus Dumbledore, Draco says. He
supposes he should say it with more fire, more anger, but he just cant manage it. Hes just so
Watch it, kid, Sirius growls, but Dumbledore raises a pacifying hand in his direction.
This isnt what we should be discussing, Lupin says. We need a counter-offensive. We need to
come up with a way to prevent these raids, to undermine
Ill take care of the government, Draco says.
What, on your own? Tonks asks, sounding amused.
Sure. Its a one-man job.
Mind sharing with the class? Sirius snaps.
Draco, says a voice from behind, and Draco looks over his shoulder. Harry is standing at the
door, one hand braced on the doorjamb. Hes smiling.
Hes awake.
Draco sits up a little straighter. He rises to his feet, with some difficulty.
Ill take care of the government, Draco says again. Start worrying about Project Haven; thats
going to take all of us to pull off.
Ignoring the stunted half-questions that none of them manage to finish, Draco heads out of the
headmasters office with Harry.
How is he? he asks as soon as the door closes.
Frail, Harry says, but he says hes feeling better. Hes walking.
And mentally?
Frail, Harry repeats, more gently.
Draco doesnt blame him. He knows what it means to be mentally frail.
They head down the steps and out into the corridor, down through the castle in tense, anticipatory

silence, until they reach the dungeons. Professor Snapes quarters arent far from his classroom
and office, and they head inside after a perfunctory knock and answering grunt.
There he is, sitting at his desk, and without the extra gauntness of his face and the lingering scars
peeking out of the sleeves and neckline of his dressing gown, one never would have known that
the man had just been freed from weeks of heinous torture.
Hes going over his large folio of student records when they enter and he says, by way of
greeting, This is Pomonas handwriting.
Draco opens his mouth, but shuts it again.
She took over your classes, Harry says. She was really the only one even sort of qualified.
As if the poor woman didnt have enough to do, Professor Snape sighs.
Well, youre back now, Harry says. Youll be in your old post next year.
It seems doubtful that school will be in session next years in any official capacity.
Professor Snape looks over at Draco, and for a moment, the room is quiet. Draco becomes aware
of the ticking of the clock, of the soft crackling of the fire.
He finds he does not quite know what to say.
Perhaps he does not know what to say, Draco considers, because he knows from experience that
there is nothing to say. There is no combination of words in existence that can explain, justify, or
ease the pain of what hes been through. There is nothing but the slow, arduous, unbearable
journey into something like normality.
Draco crosses the distance between them, kneels down next to Professor Snapes chair so he
doesnt have to stand, and hugs him around the middle, burying his face in his chest.
He can hear Professor Snape swallowing, hear his breath catching. A moment later, a thin hand
rests on Dracos hair.
I couldnt save you in time, Draco whispers.
I could say the same of you, Professor Snape answers.
Draco chokes on something a sob? A laugh? He doesnt know; it doesnt matter. His grip on
Professor Snape tightens.
Im dying for a cup of tea, Draco says through the tightness in his throat. Hes dying for other
things, too, but decides not to mention it. Not yet.
Professor Snape laughs once its a weak, hollow sound, but genuine and looks toward the
hearth. Theres some Assam by the fire.
Ill put some on, Harry says.
And in a world full of things that are not all right, this is good. In the middle of so much death and
darkness, this is warm and reassuring. Even though the chance that any of them will make it
through this war alive is ever approaching zero, this is good, this is good. Draco clings to the
moment with everything left in him.
Harry puts the kettle over the fire and moves to Professor Snapes side, hugging him around the

Harry puts the kettle over the fire and moves to Professor Snapes side, hugging him around the
My boys, Professor Snape says, my boys, what is to become of us?

14 August, 1996
We apologize for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution.
Subcomandante Marcos
Playlist EMINEM - "MOSH"

Draco steps into the headmasters office.

It is much the same as it always is, though the furniture has been rearranged somewhat. Nearest
the window, three chairs have been set up in a semicircle. Harry and Professor Dumbledore are
both seated already, leaving the middle chair open for Draco.
He crosses the room and sits down. He looks out into the empty room and says, to no one, Good
morning, Britain.
First, allow me to apologize for breaking your routine. Im sure many of you were sitting down
for your morning cup of tea or stepping into the shower and were in no way expecting to be
confronted with three strange wizards.
Let me explain. At the moment, as Im sure many of you have already deduced, you are inside
what is effectively an extremely makeshift pensieve. To be more specific, you are inside my
memory, experiencing this conversation which, if you are wondering, is taking place on the
fourteenth of August, 1996.
My name is Draco Malfoy. To my left is Albus Dumbledore, headmaster at Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Good morning, Professor Dumbledore says, inclining his head.
To my right is Harry Potter.
Harry waves awkwardly out at the empty room.
By the time you are experiencing this, I have already replicated the physical memory several
million times and released it into the magical water supply, Draco continues. Hence why you
were unwittingly pulled into this memory of mine. Again, Im sorry for taking you off-guard, but
the sad fact of the matter is that there was really no other way for us to speak.
And there is much to speak about, dont you think?
Of course, Professor Dumbledore says, there are those who have already done quite a bit of
speaking, and most have been punished viciously for it. Its happened in communities all over
wizarding Britain. Men and women ripped from their homes and away from their families, thrown
in Azkaban without trial, called dissidents, called traitors all because they chose to say aloud
what is so dreadfully obvious.
Muggle Born registration, suppression of the media, endless streams of propaganda through
every medium imaginable Im sure the implications have occurred to you at least once, even if

youve never dared to say it out loud for fear of the repercussions.
But no one can hear us here, Harry interjects suddenly. So we might as well just come out with
it: the government has been corrupted. And not just by anyone.
This is the point, Draco says, where some of you may be metaphorically sticking your fingers
in your ears and humming Ministry-approved songs about how the Dark Lord is dead and that
those who claim otherwise are liars and traitors. But were not here to speak to those people; we
cant help those people.
Were here for those of you who are hearing us, standing in tense silence at our words. Those
vast majority of you who know, who see, who understand who burn with rage against a broken,
corrupted, hateful government. Maybe you have lost someone you love because they were
deemed a dissident maybe you had a spouse or sibling or child taken in for registration
maybe you were taken in, yourself, tagged like an animal.
So far, however, he says, you havent done anything about it.
We dont blame you, Harry interjects. Voldemort has created a world where speaking out is
dangerous, where it could mean putting your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk, so we
understand why the majority of you havent spoken up.
But the time for simply coping is long past, Professor Dumbledore says. We have reached a
threshold a point where the risks of failure are outweighed by the possibility of change. In a few
weeks, the Ministry of Magic will give itself permission to raid your homes, search your
belongings, detain you without reason. This bad situation will only get worse, and options have
simply run out.
As you may know, Harry says, Hogwarts has defected from the Ministry of Magic. Of course,
the story was twisted in the papers and by the government as having become a hotbed of lies and
treason, and was called shut down, to be replaced with a new educational system. There were
even rumors spread that the building had been demolished but here we are in the Headmasters
Office. We are still here. We are still fighting.
And we invite you to join us, Professor Dumbledore adds.
We are launching Project Haven, Harry says. Hogwarts Castle and the neighboring city,
Hogsmeade, now exist under the control of the rebel force your Ministry loves to hate, the Order
of the Phoenix. We stand in defiance of the government, against Lord Voldemort, and fighting for
what is left of our world. We are taking refugees, pureblood, Muggle Born, half-blood, rich and
poor. Anyone who stands against the government can stand with us.
On September the first, come to Kings Cross Station and take the train to Hogwarts. Take with
you only the possessions you need. When you arrive, you will be safe. We will protect you and
your family.
Of course, there will be attempts to discredit us, Draco says. Even now as you hear these
words, there are people in the Ministry shouting through fire-calls and arranging for this to be
written off, to be corrected but what they dont understand is that words are stronger than they
can ever be. Words are ideas, and ideas have more power than any magic.
They will lie to you about what you have seen here. Do not believe them. They will call you
treasonous if you go. Go anyway. They will fight you. Fight back. It is worth fighting for, because
all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Draco rises to his feet, despite the stiffness in his legs, and Professor Dumbledore and Harry rise
with him. Quite enough nothing has been done already, Draco says. Stand with us on
September the first and do something.

1 September, 1996
People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.
Emma Goldman

When did you first lose sensation in your hands? asks Professor Dumbledore, and Draco lifts his
eyes sharply.
Keep your voice down.
Relax, he says, theyre well-occupied.
The rest of the Order and scattered volunteers from the DA are congregated on the other side of
the darkened, quiet platform. Draco is unaccustomed to seeing Platform 9 in such a state;
without the sunlight filtering in from the glass ceiling or the chattering of students, it seems
fundamentally incomplete.
Even the Hogwarts Express looks wrong. It sits quiet and still, shrouded with a few dozen
powerful perception filters and disillusionment charms, while a few people move in and out,
bringing out barricade equipment.
A few weeks ago, Draco answers without knowing why. He rubs his wrist with his opposite
hand, tracing the line between where he can and cannot feel.
And your godfather doesnt know?
Theres no point in telling anyone. It wouldnt do any good.
Professor Dumbledore peers at him over over his half-moon spectacles, blue eyes searching.
Draco can see him putting it together.
Youre dying, he says, arent you, Mr. Malfoy?
Draco averts his eyes. He watches Luna and Neville set up a section of the barricade with
unnecessary scrutiny.
After a moment, he answers, Yes.
Theres nothing to be done about the collar, then?
If there were a way to take it off, Id have found it by now, Draco answers with what is perhaps
unnecessary anger. All I can do is modulate my antivenom intake and wait for paralysis to set
A moment of silence passes between them before Dumbledore says, Well, then perhaps we shall
keep each other company in the afterlife.

He holds his withered, blackened hand up to a shaft of moonlight slicing down through the roof.
Draco saw it ages ago, of course, and knew what it was at once, but he has never managed to
muster any sympathy for him not after doing what he did to Harry.
I dont believe in the afterlife, Draco says.
No? I suppose you wouldnt. Professor Dumbledore tucks the blackened hand back into the
pocket of his robe. You dont strike me as one to indulge in comforting lies.
Do you suppose dying will hurt? Draco asks.
For us, I imagine it will hurt a great deal.
That would be the way. Far be it from the universe to give him a painless death after everything
Dracos been through.
You should tell them, Professor Dumbledore says.
Hypocrite, Draco counters.
Professor Dumbledore raises both eyebrows and inclines his head in deference to the point.
A moment later, theres a familiar rushing sound that is amplified by the quiet of the room. All at
once, every wand in the room is turned toward the far wall, where
Dont attack! Dont attack!
Wands down, Draco says. He pushes his way through the crowd.
A woman is standing by the wall with a very young child bundled up to her chest. She looks
frantic, all dark eyes and wild hair. Draco knows at once that she is not a threat.
I just I want to get on the train, Im not my baby
Its all right, Draco says as he approaches her. Youre all right now. The train is waiting.
Its not too early?
Its not too early, he assures her. When hes close enough, she gives a start.
Its you!
It takes Draco a moment to realize what shes talking about.
From the memory, its really
Yes, Draco says.
She swallows. Thank you, she says, and she reaches out with one hand to grip Dracos forearm
reassuringly. My baby her fathers a Muggle I just got the owl yesterday, they wanted to
register her
You will both be safe at Hogwarts, he tells her. No one will touch her. Go on; theres food and
healers on the train.
Thank you, she says again before hurrying past him.

A moment later, Harry is at his side. Barely past midnight and people are already showing up.
Desperation will do strange things.
Harry sighs. I suppose, he says. Were just about set up. Once we put the wards up, it will only
be a matter of waiting it out. God knows what the Ministry will have up their sleeve.
Nothing good, Im sure.
Tonks comes barrelling through the wall as if she heard their conversation and was hoping for a
cue. You need to see this.
The Order of the Phoenix exchange a few nervous glances among themselves before a few follow
her back out through the wall.
At this time of night, Kings Cross was nearly as unnatural-looking and eerie as the platform,
itself. All the tracks were empty and still, half the lights unlit, and at the very far end, Draco can
just detect the sound of
Whats that? Sirius asks lowly.
It sounds like wait, those are people whats?
Draco can see them now people, so many people, scrambling and running down toward them.
They are chased by a mass of living shadow. The lights flicker out one by one as they run,
individual lights bursting out, and Draco realizes
Dementors, he says.
Shit, Tonks says.
Okay, Harry offers, a calm eye in the storm, everyone stick to the plan: keep the ward up on
the platform, red sparks if the ward breaks, and do your best not to die.
Draco steps forward and takes a few breathes, deep and centering. He throws his mind back to
Paris, so many years ago, when he and Harry let themselves get lost in the city, when they ran
along the bank of the Seine and shared pastries on the steps of Sacre Coeur. He smells the dust
and grit of the city, feels the heat of the August sun, and raises his hand to shout
Expecto patronum!
All at once, an immense, silvery dragon comes soaring out from his finger tips, its massive wings
spread and flapping. It makes a broad arc in the air and flies toward the approaching crowd; a few
of them duck their heads as it passes over them and collides with the wall of moving, undulating
shadows in an explosion of light and energy.
Nice, Tonks decides.
Draco lowers his hand. The cloud of dementors is dented and slowed, but still approaching.
Look alive, he says, and the others present ready their wands. Hold the line, hold the platform,
and lets make sure these people get what they came for.
Youre home free! Harry calls, voice magically amplified. The train is waiting; get through to
the platform!
We may have to make two trips, Professor Dumbledore remarks lightly as the crowd grows ever

nearer, and hes not wrong there must be at least two hundred people, many of them with
children and luggage, all of them sprinting forward.
Wands up! Professor McGonagall calls, and just as the first people rush past them and through
to the platform, the volley of patronuses burst forth, eliciting a dreadful cacophony from the cloud
of dementors overhead.
The battle hits like a force of nature. The sound and the heat and the energy explode in the
darkness of the train station, and Draco comes alive with the heat of the fight. The dementors snarl
and hiss and snap but rebound off wards surrounding the platform, and the Order pushes forward,
carving a path through them with hexes and spells.
The shouts of pain are tempered by the unholy screeching of the dementors, and Draco can tell
that they must be making some headway. Even though they seem to keep coming, even though
some of the refugees stumble and fall and are overtaken, the path the Order carves grows ever
Draco takes out one dementor, then another the adrenaline pumping through his body keeps his
shaking hands focused and for a while it works, its good, the smoke and shadow and light of
the battle is a welcome relief
until, of course, he is blitzed from behind and
is it pain he feels? Draco cant quite tell. Its definitely something; intense in a sort of crushing
way, starting at the base of his spine and moving down his leg in a numb throb. He feels icy claws
embedded in his back but he cant quite scream all he can do is fall
Expecto patronum! someone shouts, and it sounds like Harry, and though the claws retract,
Draco is already on the ground. He is dizzy, oppressed by the strange numbness, even as hands
grab him, even as he is pulled away
Youre all right! Draco, youre all right!
He collapses against the wall on the other side of the platform. He tries to take stock of his body
what hurts? Its a surprisingly difficult question. Somehow, the answer is nothing and everything,
all at once.
Youre all right, I saw the wounds, theyre shallow, youre fine Draco, I think its working!
He does not feel pain. And isnt that bad? Shouldnt he be feeling pain feeling something,
feeling anything?
Goddamn, the wards are holding! If we can hold the line for a few hours, get through everyone
that needs getting through, this might actually work!
His kneecap is broken. Draco can see it twisted unnaturally. But he cant feel it. Its just that
dreadful, numbing throb, and he realizes
The wards are holding, we can get them all out, we can get them to safety!
People are rushing past him, pouring onto the train
Harry, I cant move my leg.

If we can what?
I cant move my leg, Draco says, and he looks up. Harry is staring down at him, mouth halfopen. Its not an injury; Harry is right, his wounds arent severe.
Its the venom, he realizes with sudden, dreadful clarity, and he cant move his leg, its started

5 October, 1996
What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?
Jim Butcher

Theres a loud cracking sound and a tremendous flash of light that blinds him. It takes a few
seconds to blink away the stain on his eyes.
Thats it, Professor Snape says. It worked.
When his eyes finally readjust, he sees Harry standing against the wall, near the complicated sigil
Draco drew on it. Hes looking a bit dizzy and disoriented, but otherwise pleased.
Hes holding the goblet in one hand. Draco can smell the Dark Magic on it from the other side of
the room.
Whod have thought itd be a lucky thing Id have a bit of Voldemorts soul in me?
Dracos not sure hed call it lucky it had been a leap of faith, hoping that the rift spell
concealing the goblet would respond to Harry because of the Horcrux inside him, but it had
apparently paid off. He still cant quite believe it worked.
Professor Snape rises to his feet and heads over toward Harry, taking the goblet and turning it over
in his hands.
Ill arrange to have it destroyed, he says.
Launch it into the sun, Draco offers.
It seems a lot easier to use the Sword of Gryffindor.
And yet its so much more poetic to launch it into the sun.
Draco grabs the cane on the desk and leans on it, pushing himself to a stand. A cane coupled with
a strong mobility spell from Madame Pomfrey kept him walking though perhaps walking isnt
the right term for it, its closer to hobbling which, in the grand scheme, is all he really needs.
Draco, you shouldnt be walking, Professor Snape says severely.
I shouldnt be dying, either, but one does what one must.
He heads to the window and looks down. The top of the Ravenclaw Tower commands a splendid
view of the lake and, just around the edge of the forest, Hogsmeade, short and sprawling and
packed with people moving in all directions. When they had run out of beds in the dormitories,
theyd set up barracks in the classrooms. When those beds had filled out, theyd started moving
people into Hogsmeade. Now even Hogsmeade was starting to get crowded. They will need
campgrounds soon, for all the people still coming on foot to seek refuge at Hogwarts.

Dont say that, Harry says, and Draco sighs. Weve got all the Horcuxes now, or nearly all of
them you can focus on getting the collar off.
Harry he says, but Harry keeps talking.
You just havent had time to really work at it yet, he says, and hes at Dracos side a moment
later, a hand on his back. Now you do. Weve intercepted Voldemorts intelligence, we know he
isnt planning any attacks yet. Theres time.
Harry, he says again, do you really think that its just a matter of me not having time to think
about it?
Harry frowns. You cant just give up.
They have been having variations of this conversation for nearly a month now. Draco hates it a
little more each time. It is reaching a point where Harry is not just stubborn but willfully ignorant
of the situation, no matter how many times Draco explains.
There are experts we have not yet consulted, Professor Snape adds, and Draco screws his eyes
shut because this is unbearable, options we have not yet explored. There may be a way to
Can we all just stop, Draco says, more loudly than he intended. Can we just stop, please can
we stop pretending that everything will be all right!
He opens his eyes and stares them both down. Harrys eyes are on the window, but Snapes are
on Draco, sad and still.
Do you not realize the situation were in? Draco asks, finding that its difficult to keep himself
from shouting. Theres nothing I can do! Theres nothing anyone can do!
I am dying, he says. My nerves are shredded and getting worse every day. I have tried
everything under the sun that might reverse the effects or get the collar off and none of it has
worked. If by whatever miracle I make it through the end of this war alive, I will still be on an
inevitable path leading to paralysis and death!
And Harry, who the hell are you to tell me to not to give up? Youve already resigned yourself to
the fact that youll die facing Voldemort!
Thats not
It is the same, Harry, its exactly the same! Draco says. We are dead men walking! I just seem
to be the only one really accepting it!
Silence hits the room like an oncoming train, abrupt and devastating.
I spent all my life hiding behind chaos and uncertainty, Draco says, and now its a slow,
inexorable march toward inevitability that is going to kill me and the man I love. He laughs
bitterly and looks back out the window. Thats fucking irony for you.
Another moment passes, then: No, says Professor Snape.
Draco looks over at him.
What do you mean, no?
I mean no, he says. I do not accept this defeatist attitude in you, Draco Malfoy.

Inexplicably, Draco is angry. Why is he being so selfish? Why does he have to make this
impossible situation so much harder?
Youve been so caught up in questions of chaos and destiny and unpredictability and certainty
that youve forgotten the biggest question of philosophy, Draco, he says. Youve forgotten
about choice.
Draco almost laughs. Almost. What the fuck does choice matter?
You think destiny invalidates choice? You think fate or chaos override it? Draco, its the other
way around. He grabs Draco by both shoulders, as though this is the most important thing hell
ever say. Fate and chaos are both slaves to choice, to human will.
Youre dying because of a million choices a million people made throughout their lives, because
you chose to let yourself love, because you chose to fight back against a madmans Imperius
curse. Entropy didnt force those choices, the choices forced the entropy.
And Harry, he continues, youre not the subject of the prophecy because of some great cosmic
dart that just happened to land on your name. Its you because you know that youre the only
person in the world strong enough to kill him. You proved it to yourself and everyone at the
Malfoy Manor. You know you would always choose to face him, to save all those lives. You will
always be the person who chooses to make that sacrifice, and not because of any prophecy.
Draco finds that he does not have anything to say to that.
He looks at Harry, and Harry is looking back at him.
You boys are incredible, he says. You have made tremendous sacrifices, shown exceptional
courage, all the while battling the storms of war and death and tragedy. I will not have either of
you thinking for a second, for an instant that what you do doesnt matter. I will not accept you
surrendering to anything.
Maybe you will
He falters a moment and cringes, as though the thought that occurs to him is physically painful. He
swallows the expression and continues.
Maybe you will die, he says. The price of choice is that everyone has it. So yes, maybe you
will die. But dont you dare, boys dont you dare go down without giving them hell for it.
Draco feels a hand on his wrist. Harry is gripping him so tightly that he can still feel the pressure
of it through the creeping numbness.
Maybe I can run some more obscure magical diagnostics on the collar, Draco says, with some
reluctance, even though it is the hardest thing in the world to be optimistic.
Maybe we can buy a set of defibrillators for the final battle for me, Harry suggests, and Draco
lets loose a startled laugh.
There we go, Professor Snape says. He is trying to sound wry, Draco can tell, but his eyes are
bloodshot and his expression is fragile. Thats the sort of positivity that rebuilds nations.
Draco tucks himself against Harrys side and nestles his head under his chin. Harry slides an arm
around Dracos shoulders. Professor Snape kisses Harrys head and gathers them both into his
embrace. And Draco thinks of chaos and fate and choice and wonders if maybe this tiny little twist
in the pit of his stomach is hope.

13 November, 1996
Life is pain and the enjoyment of love is an anesthetic.
Cesare Pavese

According to Tonkss report, hes entered into negotiations with giants

Harry flips the parchment over to look at the back, where Tonks scribbled a few extra notes.
Draco is straddling Harrys waist as he lies on the bed, carding his fingers through the narrow V
of dark hair along Harrys chest, wishing desperately he could actually feel it. He wouldnt mind
the coarseness, just to feel it would be a breath of fresh air but the numbness is nearly at his
elbows now, and all Draco can detect is the heat of his skin.
And vampires, Harry adds. I think this is going to be his plan. An army of magical creatures to
supplement the fact that half of wizarding Britain is here at Hogwarts.
Draco should be listening, but he cannot force himself to care about any of it. Not when he knows
theres nothing to actually do but wait, and especially not when he is straddling an extremely
naked Harry. He bends down and drops a series of kisses across Harrys shoulder.
You have got to stop distracting me.
There is nothing in that report that matters, Draco says, more than this distraction.
Draco moves lower until he grazes his teeth across the skin of Harrys nipple, which draws a
shudder out of him.
What has gotten into you lately? Harry murmurs, threading his fingers in Dracos hair. You are
insatiable these past few days.
Hes not wrong, Draco supposes. Intimacy has been a luxury ever since Hogwarts defected all
those months ago, but lately Draco has been taking time out of his schedule a bit too much, if the
DA were to tell it for time with Harry.
Were young and in love and theres no risk of pregnancy, Draco says. I cant imagine why we
arent just fucking at all hours.
Harry laughs, a deep and gorgeous sound from his chest. Draco rakes his fingertips down Harrys
ribs appreciatively.
Well, Harry says, theres that whole war thing.
No sense in worrying about that at this point. Weve fortified the wards and barricades; now
were just waiting for Voldemort to make the first move.
Theres also the prophecy and how to stymie it.

Defibrillators, Draco says slyly, and Harry laughs again. The hands move from Dracos hair and
ghost down his spine.
And theres the collar, of course.
Working on it, he says. All thats left to do at this point is think. I can think anywhere,
including while riding your cock.
Harry hums. Again? Werent you just doing that a little while ago?
Draco smirks. He was, in fact, with a little assistance from an altered mobility spell on his bum leg.
It had been nice. Draco is still slick and open from it with remnants of Harrys orgasm on his
thighs. He grinds himself down against Harrys pelvis, and he feels hands grip his hips.
Are you sure you dont want to talk about what this really is? Harry asks. Not that you arent a
sexual creature, and not that Im not enjoying the hell out of whatevers gotten into you, but three
times a day seems a bit more than your usual.
Draco stalls by shifting his hips back slightly, and hes pleased to find Harry half-hard and getting
harder, the pleasantly thick shaft sliding along his thigh. Harrys head falls back and he mutters
something that sounds a bit like fucking Christ. Draco bites back the obvious joke about how
Harry doesnt have to call him Christ.
The numbness is getting worse, Draco says once Harrys distracted enough, rutting his hips up
against Draco, cock sliding along the cleft, teasing at but never quite pushing past the still-slick,
still-open ring of muscle. I miss physical sensation something awful. Sometimes it seems like the
only time I can feel anything is when were having sex.
Jesus, Draco, Harry says, hands tightening on Dracos hips, you suck at pillow talk.
You asked, Draco reminds him, and he shifts his hips up to
Fuck! Harry gives his hips one sharp jerk and buries himself in Draco. Not a wise move in any
other situation, but Dracos body is hot and pliant like warm butter after two bouts of recent sex,
and Harry is able to thrust right in with minimal resistance. Dracos entire body shudders at the
sensation, the heat and fullness. He will never get sick of this.
Merlin, this feels so good Im surprised the Ministry hasnt outlawed it.
Harry laughs, but it fades into a groan when Draco starts moving, hands planted on Harrys chest,
hips rocking at the steadiest rhythm he can manage with the mobility spell. The pleasure of it
smolders, low in his gut and spreading out through his chest and limbs in steady pulses of hot,
electric wanting. Its not real sensation, but God its close, its close enough.
You are so fucking beautiful, Harry says, low in the back of his throat, and his hand slides
around the back of Dracos neck to pull him down. Draco kisses him hungrily, trembling hands
lifting to splay across his jaw.
Moving his hands turns out to be a mistake, because without the leverage, the mobility spell snaps
under the weight. Draco swears loudly and stills for no other reason than he cant move, and he
wants to scream with frustration.
Fucking leg, he hisses through his teeth, I hate this I hate being lame
Its okay, love, Harry whispers, and all of a sudden Draco is being rolled over onto his back,
being kissed deeply and thoroughly; the force of it blanks his mind of all his complaints. Its

okay, Ive got you.

Harry nudges Dracos bad leg up over his shoulder and smoothly pushes back into him and tiny
sparks of pleasure rocket up and down Dracos spine; the angle is perfect, pushing right past that
sensitive bundle of nerves and Draco melts underneath him.
Just you watch, Harry mutters, bending down to lick and bite and nip at his neck, when we
both make it out of this alive and you manage to get that collar off, well have tons of weird sex in
impossible positions.
Its stupid and ridiculous and it makes Draco grin like an idiot, laugh, and buck against Harrys
thrusting. Yeah?
We will go through the Kama Sutra alphabetically, Harry promises, through his panting. We
will have all the time in the world.
Now its starting to make Draco a little sad because they both know theres really no guarantee,
and he tries not to think about it, which of course doesnt work. Draco swallows and lets his head
fall back, hands fisting in the sheets and messy piles of papers.
Thats thats awfully optimistic fuck, there, just there.
Harry angles his hips and drives for that perfect spot and yes fuck yes yes yes. Draco lifts his hands
and claws at Harrys back.
I know, Harry confesses, breathing hard into Dracos hair. But I dont see the point in not
being optimistic. Either fuck, Draco either well both live or both die.
Both? Draco asks, despite his better judgment.
Id never go anywhere without you, Harry says by way of answering, and the heat of the words
sets Draco on fire. Merlin, he has never been more in love with him, the stupid sentimental
Gryffindor bastard.
Draco feels Harrys hand around his cock, which is heavenly, and combined with all the other
sensations both physical and emotional, it doesnt take long before his scarred, battered body is
spasming, until hes shouting himself hoarse with climax and falling apart.
Harry makes a small, strangled noise and speeds up, and Draco digs his fingernails into his
shoulders. He loves these moments after Dracos reached his own release, the only time when
Harry will let himself focus on his own pleasure. He ruts and strains and hisses and holds onto
Draco as though hes the only thing keeping him attached to earth, like its the last night theyll
spend together, because maybe it will be.
When Harry stills and trembles and digs his teeth in Dracos neck, Draco can feel the heat of his
climax in those last few moments before Harry slowly withdraws and collapses next to him. Draco
rolls slightly and nestles against Harrys sweat-slicked chest.
God, I hope threes enough, Harry pants, because I dont think Ill be able to even move for at
least a day.
And theres more they could say, Draco supposes. Heartfelt, preemptive goodbyes, perhaps;
reaffirmations of how much they love each other; promises to either make it through or die
But those things dont need saying. They both know them all already.

So they lie together talking about nothing, at the edge of chaos and destiny and choice, hiding
from the war that waits just around the corner. Its quiet and serene and meaningless and
profound, and Draco would never want to spend the time any other way.

17 November, 1996
With my last breath, Ill exhale my love for you. I hope its a cold day, so you can see what you
mean to me.
Jarod Kintz

Everyone stay behind the barricades! Draco shouts into the Great Hall, packed with frantic and
muttering refugees. Do not approach the windows! Listen for any instructions from Ms. Vance!
Boom, from outside, a great and terrible sound that Draco can feel rattling his bones. A few people
If an evacuation is called for, Ms. Vance will escort you outside; there will be transport waiting
to take you out of Scotland! he cries, hoping to keep them distracted. These, after all, are only
those who cant fight the too young, too old, too wounded and they are terrified. But for now,
this is the safest place you can be!
Terrified, Emmeline Vance says next to him, the lot of them.
Its a battle, Draco answers, leaning heavily on his cane, theyre allowed to be terrified.
Boom, again, from the other side of the castle, and Draco flinches because he knows that means
theyre attacking from multiple sides, stretching their manpower thin.
Its a familiar but wispy voice. Draco turns and sees a hare patronus loping through the air toward
him Lunas.
Theyve broken through the wards, Lunas patronus tells him. Hogsmeade is burning. We
need you on the battlefield.
Shit, Draco says as the patronus vanishes like smoke in the wind.
Malfoy, Vance says gravely, you cant honestly think youre in any shape to fight.
I dont think that at all, he answers, conjuring his own patronus, but that wont stop me from
going anyway.
Youll get yourself killed.
They need me, Draco says as the dragon appears off the end of his fingertips and spreads its
wings. It turns its massive, silvery head toward him. Go to Luna. Tell her Im coming, and tell
her not to waste time with water charms; use bubble-wards and starve the flames of oxygen.
The dragon seems to nod its head and then take off through the wall toward Hogsmeade.

Keep them safe, Vance, Draco says, and Vance only nods, her expression grave and tragic.
Draco walks as quickly as he can out of the Great Hall, though his leg keeps him from going as
fast as hed like.
He passes through the foyer and out of the front courtyard, and as soon as he makes it onto the
heath, he stops and stares.
There is a massive wall of smoke rising off the horizon, a bright orange stain on the sky. Draco
can hear the screams, the ferocious sounds of crashing magic, even from the distance. He can see
the giants, tall and ferocious, battering their way across the grounds, swatting away hexes as
though they were gnats. He can see a pack of loping werewolves running out of the forest, a cloud
of vampires soaring through the sky, and a great wall of shadow that is an entire army of
And then, quite abruptly, he is hit in the side with a hex.
He is sent falling, rolling down a shallow knoll, pain searing through his side. His cane falls to the
side and he whips around as soon as hes still enough to see
Protego! Draco counters with a jerk of his hand.
Bartemius Crouch comes down the knoll, his wand out, and the sight of his face, twisted with glee
and Schadenfreude, brings back memories Draco thought buried under scar tissue.
Just make it easy, Malfoy, he says, sounding manic and jocular, His Lordship wants you back
Defendare! he says, and the red light of Dracos disarming spell rebounds.
All at once, Draco is back in that tiny, windowless cell. He is shackled to the floor, being
whipped, being beaten, being burned with hot irons and having his bones broken with terrible
twisting metal claws. He is screaming for mercy that does not come, weeping from pain that does
not stop.
Bartemius looms down over him and Draco tries to scrabble away from him, heart slamming in his
Come on, Malfoy! he leers. Considering the fate that His Lordship has in store for his other
enemies, yours is quite lax! You wont even be killed! Unless His Lordship gets bored of fucking
you, of course, though if thats the case
Theres no light, just a sudden dark stain up the front of Bartemiuss robes. He sways slightly and
puts a hand over his chest, over the growing wetness, as though hes not sure what just happened.
Draco looks past him. Professors Snape and Dumbledore are rushing forward, wands blazing.
As though he hadnt been hit at all, Bartemius roars and throws out two hexes in quick succession;
Professor Snape is able to block his, but Professor Dumbledore takes his as a glancing blow.
Draco is trying to push himself to his feet, but the mobility spell has weakened from the force of

the hex he took. He manages to stagger to a stand, leaning heavily on his good leg, and he looks
up just in time to see Bartemius, bloody and ashen, taking on Snape and Dumbledore, holding his
own, somehow curses fly, magic burns, the scent of blood saturates the air
Avada Kedavra!
Albus! Albus!
His head is still heavy with the force of the memories battering him and his world is still
swimming but he can see Professor Dumbledore falling, Professor Snape spinning, Bartemius
raising his wand
Incarcerous! Draco cries, and before Bartemius can cast the spell he has primed at Professor
Snape, threads of magical energy bind him, locking his limbs and forcing him to drop his wand.
With a few gestures of his hand, he forces him to spin around, and then lifts him up in the air. His
hand is shaking but the magic holds.
Bartemius growls down at him, thrashing against the bonds. He chokes as Draco tightens them by
clenching his hand into a fist.
How the tables have turned, Draco says through a mouthful of blood. How is it, being on the
receiving end of imprisonment?
Bartemiuss lips pull back from his teeth in an expression that is somewhere between a snarl and a
smile. Going to torture me, Malfoy?
Perhaps I should, Draco says lowly. Its certainly tempting. A very dark part of Draco is itching
to cast the Cruciatus curse, to give him just a taste of the hell he put Draco through, and it would
be so easy, so satisfying
Before you do, he says through the ever-tightening bonds, I should ask have you met my
Draco narrows his eyes, but before he can process the meaning of the sentence, there is a sudden,
searing, unbearable pain in his bad leg and Draco screams, falling forward and whipping around
Nagini, long and vicious, fangs deeply embedded into his thigh, venom, venom, venom, pulsing
and hot and ripping him up
he casts the strongest slashing spell he knows, and it splits Naginis scaly skin open like a burst
seam, but it only succeeds in sending those awful fangs deeper, and he stumbles onto one knee
and casts another slashing spell, another, then grabs the beast by the head with both hands and
pulls with all his strength
the fangs come ripping out of him with the sound of tearing flesh and a fountain of blood.
And Draco, through the near-impenetrable haze of pain, knows three things:
One, Naginis fangs have punctured his femoral artery and he is losing blood rapidly.
Two, though Nagini has dosed him with enough venom to kill a man several times Dracos size
five times over, the long-term exposure to it via the collar has given him a resistance but not
enough, not nearly enough, not in this quantity.
Three, Draco has minutes left to live. Less, maybe.

He looks back and over his shoulder. Professor Snape is standing over Bartemiuss bloodied
body. Professor Dumbledore lies dead several feet away.
And Draco can only stare at him, lost in his own pain and the certainty of his nearing death.
Then boom, from the distance.
Draco looks toward the source of the sound and sees green light meeting red light, an expanding
wave of magical energy in the middle of the battlefield. Draco has seen this before. He knows
And he is dying, he is dying, but he moves anyway, standing though he is bleeding to death,
moving though he has never been in such intense pain in his life, stumbling down the hill toward
Harry, because theres nothing left that matters except Harry, Harry, Harry
And the magic crackles and burns, unstable past anything that could reasonably be called safe, but
it burns on, boiling and burning and warping the air around it. Harry stands at one end, Lord
Voldemort on the other, and Draco knows it will reach an apex, that it is incredibly volatile, that it
is set to blow. That much unstable magic is liable to take them both out in the crossfire and no, no,
no, no.
He stumbles and bleeds and the magic is so strong that it seems to warp time and space, ferocious
and unceasing and primed to
But his cry is muted by the ensuing explosion. The shockwave is so powerful that it knocks Draco
flat and for a moment he is both deaf and blind. He gropes at the ground and struggles to sit up
he blinks rapidly, willing for his vision to come back.
And theres Harry, lying on the grass and
he isnt moving and
and maybe its pointless, and maybe its mad, but Draco decides chooses despite all their
promises, that he does not want Harry to die and he will not let him.
And he crawls because he cannot walk, pulling himself through the grass, ears ringing, body
broken, dying, and he reaches Harrys side.
Get up.
God, he looks awful bloody and beaten and raw, eyes shut and no, hes not dead, Draco will
not let him be dead.
Get up, get up.
His throat is like a vise, so tight the words almost cant make it out. He grabs Harry by both

Get up, Harry.

He puts one hand to the center of his chest.
Get up! Ignis!
The jolt of electricity races down his arm, out through his hand, and into Harrys heart. Harry jerks
once and goes still again. Dracos eyes burn with tears.
Get up, please get up, please, Ignis!
Another jolt, another jerk, but only more stillness.
Draco cant keep casting this spell, he doesnt have the strength, hes fading so fast and the edges
of his vision are going black with a dreadful, swallowing darkness. He summons up everything
left in him, every ounce of magical energy, every drop of strength remaining in his battered body

and with a wheeze, Harry comes alive, body quaking.
Draco sobs, just once, and drops his head to Harrys shoulder. His body is a mess of pain and
venom and relief and the ever-encroaching, ever-deepening darkness, but Harry is alive, Harry is
Hngh Draco?
Dracos hand drops from Harrys chest. He can feel the last of it, the last of him, leaving his body
in weakening shudders.
Draco what
Defibrillator, Draco rasps, because he might as well go out with a joke.
But Harrys not laughing. Oh, God Draco
Hes rolled onto his back. He can only see in blurry shapes a bluish smudge of sky with a
Harry-shaped blur set against it.
Draco no, no, no someone get a healer! His voice is hoarse, as though it hasnt yet come
back to him, as though its about to break. Draco, hang on, dont die, dont die!
Its okay, Draco says, though it comes out slurred. Its okay.
Dont do this to me, Draco, I promised you, I said I wouldnt go anywhere without you! Dont
go where I cant follow you! Hands on his face, warm and calloused.
Sorry, Draco says. Disappointingly predictable of me. Couldnt couldnt watch you
He swallows what tastes like blood. He means to make a point about Kierkegaardian philosophy
of passionate choosing and selfishness through selfless love, but he cant make the words form.
Everything is so dark.
But its okay
No! Its not okay! Draco, stay with me!

its okay; we had we had butterflies, you and I

Draco! Draco!
But his voice is getting quieter, as though Dracos being pulled away down a tunnel.
We had butterflies, and they were wonderful, and they were worth it, and Draco would do it all
And the darkness swallows him and the pain disintegrates like sand, and the last thing Draco feels
before he dies is the butterfly fluttering on his chest and Harrys mouth on his lips.

24 December, 1996
Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The first thing of which he becomes aware is the fact that he is aware, which is strange enough in
its own right.
Two possibilities:
One, he has been wrong this entire time about his rigorous atheism.
Two, he is not dead.
With some concentration of will, he opens his eyes. For a while, everything is blurry. But slowly,
the fuzzy shapes come into focus.
He is lying on his back, staring at a vaulted ceiling, the haute relief lit in strange ways with pale
golden light.
If he is indeed dead, the afterlife looks an awful lot like the hospital wing.
Opening his eyes was challenge enough, but sitting up proves to be nearly impossible. Every
muscle in him protests the mere suggestion of movement, and by the time he finally struggles into
an upright position, hes so tired he feels like he needs to lie back down again. He lifts his hands to
his face to rub his eyes
and, quite to his surprise, they are not trembling.
He stares down at them in marvelling silence, just to confirm and yes, there is no mistaking it.
His hands are perfectly steady.
And now that he thinks about it
One hand flies up to his neck.
The collar is gone.
All thats left beneath his fingertips is rough, toughened scar tissue that
that he can feel, Draco can feel the scar tissue.
Oh, my God, he says, or tries to say, because it comes out as more of a dreadful croaking sound
quite some time must have passed but he doesnt care. He presses both hands to the scar tissue
around his neck. Its hard and craggy but it doesnt matter because he can feel it, feel every detail
of it with absolute clarity and he can feel the bedsheets, too, soft and luxurious under his hands;
he can feel the cool metal of the bed frame

With both hands he pushes himself around and lets his legs dangle over the side. He holds his
breath and tries to flex his bad leg.
Its stiff and awkward and a little bit painful, and it doesnt feel like the sort of wound that will
ever really go away, but he can move it.
Draco claps a hand over his mouth to stifle a sob. It doesnt work and he sobs anyway.
Hes so caught up in the emotion that he doesnt even notice that he isnt alone until
He looks up through tear-blurred eyes. Climbing out of a squashy, transfigured armchair, rubbing
sleep from his eyes and stumbling to a stand is
Harry, he half-sobs, half-croaks, and Harry barrels toward him, knocking him flat onto his back
with the sheer force with which he kisses him. Draco doesnt even mind the weight of him. He
throws his arms around Harrys neck and buries his fingers in his hair (and he can feel it) and
kisses him for everything hes worth. Harry makes what feels like a concerted effort to devour
Draco whole, and it sort of works.
God, Harry says, into Dracos mouth so he doesnt have to move away, I cant believe for
weeks, you didnt Madame Pomfrey said you might never
Draco cuts him off by deepening the kiss because they can talk later. Harry makes a pained,
strangled sound, and Draco rolls over on top of him. The kiss is all passion and no finesse, but that
suits Draco just fine. If he really is dead and this is some personalized version of heaven, he is
perfectly fine with spending the rest of eternity just doing this.
Oh, God, Harry says, turning his head away. Draco whines. No I mean, no, Draco,
seriously, I promised Professor Snape Id let him know
At once, Draco pushes himself up. Professor Snapes?
Harry smiles up at him. His hair is mussed (more than usual, anyway) and his lips are kiss-bruised,
but that gorgeous smile is still there, ripping the heart right out of Dracos chest in an all-toofamiliar way.
Hes fine, Harry says. He made it out. Not everyone did, but hes fine.
Luna? Draco asks. Hermione? What about Neville? I know he was fighting
Theyre fine, theyll be dying to see you once they know youre up, Harry says, giving his hand
a wave and summoning his glossy silver stag patronus. Go find Professor Snape, tell him Dracos
The stag gallops through the wall and Draco sits back on his haunches, letting Harry pull himself
upright. Who did we lose?
Harry flinches.
Lupin, he says. Caught a hex from Avery. Hestia. Dumbledore, too. About a dozen refugees.
Draco stares down at his knees. He remembers Dumbledores death. He shifts into a less horribly
painful position (no more kneeling anymore, apparently) by throwing his legs over the side of the
bed. Harry joins him.

Hey, he says, fingertips catching Draco by the chin and forcing him to look over. Those wards
of yours held up against three vicious volleys of fiendfyre bombs. If it hadnt been for you, we
would have lost a lot more. You won this war, Draco.
Despite himself, Draco rolls his eyes. I won the war? Youre the one that had to kill Voldemort.
Dont get me wrong, Harry says, grinning, I was pretty fucking spectacular.
Good to see war hasnt changed you that much.
But you. Harry leans forward and presses his forehead to Dracos. Draco breathes deeply, filling
himself with the scent of cedar and soap. His heart aches from the joy of it. You were
phenomenal. Every step of the way. You were general, strategist, soldier and spy. Who knows
how many others would have died without you around?
My ego cant handle this, Draco says honestly, and Harry laughs.
Youd better get used to it, Harry returns, because there have already been two front-page
articles written about you.
Draco groans. Wizarding society in shambles but the papers are still printing.
Harry smirks. Draco looks down at his knees.
How did I?
Harry doesnt answer immediately, as though hes not sure how to begin.
The explosion that killed Voldemort was something like a seven on the Richter scale, a
catastrophic magical event, Harry explains. It snapped the remaining wards like brittle glass and
broke the collar in two.
Draco frowns. He doesnt remember that, but then, he was bleeding quite profusely and actively
dying, so perhaps he couldnt be expected to.
It should have killed me, too, Harry says. It did, in fact, but in Madame Pomfreys words, it
should have liquified my insides like it did to Voldemort. Professor Snape speculates that your
love for me quite literally saved my life.
I was close to the epicenter, too, Draco says with a frown. Why werent my insides?
Harry smiles, slowly. I saw you, just before the bang. Be as cynical as you like, Draco, but it was
the fact that we loved each other that kept us alive.
Draco does his best to conceal the fact that hes smiling.
All right, he says, I am willing to submit in the face of empirical evidence that love is a
powerful magical force that can protect someone in a time of acute crisis, as utterly ridiculous and
sentimental as it sounds, but I refuse to believe that love can rebuild my nerves. He holds up his
hands demonstratively.
Harry laughs. That was Madame Pomfrey, he says. She said as long as you were in a coma,
she might as well put you through the long, excruciating process of regenerating your damaged
nerves. She couldnt undo all of the damage, but obviously she did a pretty good job. He smiles

down at Dracos bad leg as he flexes it slowly.

I wont ever be able to walk without a cane, Draco says.
Harry shrugs, grins. Its a good look on you. Classy.
Draco punches his shoulder in an effort to keep himself from grinning as well. Youre
We won a war, saved the world, and lived to tell the tale, Harry returns, voice dropping to a
purr, leaning into Dracos space. I have every reason in the world to be ridiculous.
Draco cant argue that point, though hed like to, just on principle. He leans in to steal a kiss when

He whirls around in his seat. Professor Snape is hurrying in from the door and Professor Snape
Ignoring the flinch of pain in his leg, he stumbles to his feet he only makes it a few painful,
shambling steps before he is caught in his godfathers arms and gripping him tightly and having
his ribcage crushed and he doesnt even mind that he can barely breathe.
Five weeks, Professor Snape says into his hair. You kept us waiting for five weeks?
Draco manages to laugh into his shoulder with what little air the vise-like embrace allows him.
Professor Snape makes a sound halfway between a laugh and a sob, gripping Draco all the tighter.
I expect you to make it up to me.
Knowing your standards, that may take a while.
It may take the rest of your life. Professor Snape pulls back, looks down at him meaningfully.
The rest of your very, very long life.
Draco swallows a little knot of something in his throat. Professor Snape kisses his forehead and
envelopes him into his arms again.
The rest of my life, Draco promises, burying his face in Professor Snapes chest. He cannot wait
to get started.

9 July, 1997
A true leader does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and
the integrity of his intent.
Douglas MacArthur

Draco! Look!
Im looking, Draco says over his mug of tea. Lyra holds up a garden gnome by one foot,
looking very pleased with herself. Thats a big one. Give it a good toss.
Not that she doesnt try, but she is only two years old and a good toss for her limited upper body
strength is about three feet. The gnome lands hard on its face in a patch of roses and starts kicking
and growling.
Youre terrible at child-rearing, Professor Snape says as he steps out through the sliding glass
door that connects the garden to the kitchen. Getting a two-year-old to de-gnome the garden for
you? That surely violates child labor laws.
She volunteered, Draco says. And who are you to be riding around on that high horse? Getting
a cripple to de-gnome the garden is almost as bad as getting a child to do it. He taps his cane
against his leg for good measure.
The cripple card never runs out for you, does it?
How dare you, Draco says without venom.
Now shes getting into the azaleas Lyra!
Professor Snape heads into the garden and Draco smirks.
In the months after the war, they had all taken up the hobbies theyd never had time for. Professor
Snape had turned the lot out back of 29 Spinners End into a fairly impressive garden. Draco had
built a particle collider. More useful in the grand scheme of human progress, perhaps, but he has to
admit that if he could only have one, hed choose the garden. Particle colliders dont make teatime
this enjoyable.
The door slides open. Oy! Look whos here!
Draco looks back just in time to see Harry emerging from the kitchen, followed by
He ducks out into the bright July sun just as Lyra, on the far end of the garden, lets out a loud
shriek of laughter.
Just Flooed in, Harry explains. Says hes here for you.

Draco has a sneaking suspicion he knows why hes here, but for now he plays along. To what
do we owe the pleasure? Tea?
If youve got it out already, Shacklebolt says with a smile. He sits down on the wire patio chair
to Dracos left; Harry comes around and sits down at the one to his right, though not before
stealing a kiss.
So why did the Minister Elect slip away to our humble home? Draco asks, using a series of
spells to pour a second, and then third, cup of tea. And more importantly, how did he ditch his
security to do so?
Shacklebolt grins. Well, that second question involves state secrets. And I think you know the
answer to the first.
Draco raises his eyebrows coyly and smiles.
I feel like Im missing something, Harry says as he adds sugar to his tea.
Little bit, Draco concedes. Hes here because he wants to groom me for Minister of Magic.
By the sound he makes, Harry breathes in most of his mouthful of tea.
In my defense, I wouldnt have been so blunt about it, Shacklebolt says.
Mm, yes, Draco says, that is the important part of this discussion. Tact.
Minister of Magic? Harry says once he coughs up his lungful of tea. But hes only seventeen!
Hell be twenty-seven by the time my second term runs out, Shacklebolt says, giving Draco a
knowing smile. And there was a nontrivial portion of the voting public who were lobbying to
lower the age limit so he could run against me.
Draco remembers reading that in the papers. It had kept him and Professor Snape in stitches for
the better part of an hour.
Really? Harry asks, surprised.
Can you blame them? He all but rebuilt the Ministry of Magic by hand.
Not as though it wasnt due for a good overhaul, Draco says, looking out into the garden where
Professor Snape chases Lyra around the willow tree. All that institutionalized corruption and
outdated policy Working to fix it had been nearly as exhausting as it had been rewarding.
I still need to fill out my senior staff, Shacklebolt says. I could pull a few strings, arrange to
have you as my Deputy Chief of Staff.
Draco nearly laughs. Merlins tits, no.
Absolutely no, Draco says, the laugh he was trying to suppress breaking through. Are you out
of your mind?
Shacklebolt frowns. You showed incredible passion and talent for policy these past few months,
rebuilding the Ministry of Magic; I would have thought
Its been seven months since I nearly died in a war, Draco says. I helped you to rebuild the

Ministry of Magic because I didnt want the entirety of magical society to collapse, not because I
was looking for an excuse to go into politics. I have a two-year-old sister, a lingering case of
PTSD, and a long-term relationship, all of which are much more important to me than political
Shacklebolt rolls his eyes. Its not about having political power.
Oh, call it what you like, Draco says, lifting his cup of tea, it still doesnt interest me.
Draco, I dont know if youve noticed, Shacklebolt says, but you were brilliant, rebuilding the
Ministry. You are good at this, and people love you for it. If you took the time to learn the ins and
outs of the political process, of running a country, you could do a hell of a lot of good.
You know, Harry interjects suddenly, and to Dracos dismay, his tone is thoughtful, as if hes
actually considering this, hes not wrong.
Are you two conspiring? Draco asks, eyes narrowed.
No, but seriously I remember you told me once that your biggest goal in life was to forward
humanity as a species in any way you could, he says, and Draco wonders how on earth he
remembers that but not that he likes his toast with raspberry jam and not strawberry, and
wouldnt this be a way to do that?
But politics are awful, Draco protests.
No arguments, Shacklebolt says. Unfortunately, theyre also incredibly important.
I say give it some thought, Harry says, standing up and gathering up the now-empty teacups
with a spell. No sense in throwing the idea out before youve thought it through.
Harry bends down, ostensibly to grab the teapot, and while hes down he whispers in Dracos ear:
We could fuck on the Ministers desk.
Draco wonders if it is unethical to consider running for political office for the sole purpose of
having sex over a very famous piece of furniture.
He watches as Harry heads back inside with the cups and teapot, biting back his grin.
So? Shacklebolt prompts.
Draco shakes his head. Ask me again in five years, he says, after your first term ends. I just got
finished fighting a war. Id like a little while to not worry about the fate of the world.
Professor Snape arrives with a shrieking, giggling, kicking Lyra thrown over one shoulder.
I dont remember you ever being this rambunctious as a child, Professor Snape says, voice
clipped. Good morning, Shacklebolt.
Morning, Snape.
What brings you here?
Shacklebolt opens his mouth to respond, shuts it, and then tries again: You know, Ministry stuff.
Its my birthday! Lyra tells Shacklebolt as Professor Snape sets her down.

Happy birthday, Shacklebolt says with a smile. Any plans?

Shes developed a deep interest in marine biology, Draco says, not without some measure of
By which he means shes become slightly obsessed with sharks, Professor Snape supplies as he
tries to smooth out her hair. Lyra makes exaggerated biting motions in what Draco can only
assume is her best shark impression.
So were going to take her down to the aquarium. But not before she gets cleaned up.
Lyra scrambles for the door, yelling something indistinct about sharks.
Draco pushes himself to his feet, leaning on his cane. Shacklebolt rises with him.
So, he says, five years?
Five years, Draco says with a nod. Well see.

28 August, 2006
When love is not madness it is not love.
Pedro Caldern de la Barca
Playlist TRAIN - "MARRY ME"

The latest numbers are looking good, but I think we should Floo someone down at the Prophet
to have something to cross-reference.
Draco sighs and looks up from the letters scattered over his desk. Hermione
Weve definitely got Jennings in the bag, she continues, pacing the length of his office and
clearly not listening. She keeps fussing with the stack of parchments in her hands, flipping
between the same four pages over and over. Im a little concerned about Dorner, though; he was
quite cross at you for that jab you made about his bill being discriminatory to sentient non-human
magical creatures.
Draco knows by now from experience that when Hermione gets into a state like this, theres really
nothing to do but let her talk herself out. Even when there is no point to it.
So he shakes his head and looks back down at his papers and lets her chatter on about
probabilities and numbers and percentages, and he answers his correspondence.
Hermione is halfway through a point about how Luna might be able to pull some strings down at
the Quibbler if they asked when a great white shark floats through Dracos office door.
Hello, Draco, the shark says in a familiar, businesslike voice, the house is on fire.
Draco and Hermione both give a start.
No, wait, the shark says. Thats not what I meant to say. The house is not on fire.
I never should have taught her how to conjure a patronus, Draco says. Really, she shouldnt be
actually conjuring it, either, especially at the age of eleven, but as it turns out theres some sort of
genetic component to Dracos genius because Lyra Malfoy is smarter than Draco was when he
was eleven.
The house is not on fire, the shark patronus assures Draco as it slowly rolls onto its back in
midair. But something important is happening. It is very important but not life-threatening, and
you should come home now to handle it. Bye.
The shark vanishes.
Your sister is an odd one, Hermione remarks.
Runs in the family, Draco says, stacking up all his papers with a gesture of his hand. I should
probably go.

Hermione looks aghast. Now? But Draco, theyre going to any minute now!
Hermione, he says patiently, either the Wizengamot is going to approve the nomination or they
arent. Theres no point in fussing about it until we have news.
This is sort of important! Hermione says, sounding only slightly shrill.
And Im sure whatever it is they need me for wont take very long, Draco assures her. Our
wards will let you in. If anything happens anything significant, that is, please dont Apparate in
just to tell me a percentage point went down you know where to find me.
He grabs his cane from where its leaning against the wall and pushes himself to his feet. He
leaves the office before Hermiones stuttering turns into actual words.
Outside his office is a wide room crowded with desks and people, many of whom offer smiles and
waves and Evening, Lord Malfoys as he passes. Its not usually so crowded this time at night, but
then, theyre all waiting on rather auspicious news.
He takes the Floo back to Spinners End and the first thing he sees is Lyra, arms crossed,
frowning, her long blonde hair braided down her back.
Draco gives a precursory look around the foyer.
I was expecting fire, he says.
There is no fire, she tells him. Harry made me party to his lies.
Did he, indeed?
I thought aurors werent supposed to lie.
Hes only an auror when hes on-duty, Draco tells her. The rest of the time hes my goofy
boyfriend who lies sometimes. Why did he lie, by the way?
He wanted to get you home quickly without saying why. I knew telling you the house was on
fire would get you home right away, but he insisted
Harry is coming out of the kitchen. Hes pushing down the sleeves of his Oxford shirt that hed
rolled up, and at once Draco detects the scent of roasted lamb and garlic wafting through the nowopen kitchen door.
Youre setting a bad example, Lyra informs him.
I know, Harry says, Im just dreadful. Hello.
Draco smiles. Hello. Hes about to ask why Harry brought him home in such a strange and
apparently duplicitous fashion, but he cant because Harry is kissing him and after all these years,
Harry still knows how to turn off his brain with one of his kisses. Draco may be biased, but this
one seems exceptionally nice all soft lips and gentle tongue, hands sliding along his back, and
that tempting aroma of roasting lamb.
I have a surprise for you, Harry says when he pulls away, and when Dracos brain kicks back
into gear, he detects a fine layer of nervousness over Harrys smile.
This isnt the best time, Draco says.

This isnt the best time, Draco says.

I know. But it needs to happen now. Come on.
Harry knows what day it is and what sort of news hes waiting for, so Draco gives him the benefit
of the doubt and lets Harry lead him through the kitchen and into the dining room just beyond,
Harry! Whats all this?
The table is done up for an intimate dinner: a white lace tablecloth, a vase with a single rose, the
good china, red wine decanting in a glass bottle, and candles by the dozen floating all around the
perimeter of the room.
Its your surprise, Harry says, the nervousness intensifying along with the smile. Part of it,
anyway. Roast leg of lamb with a garlic-rosemary rub, stuffing, green beans.
This is Draco doesnt really know what this is. Lovely, to be sure, but he cant quite figure
out why its happening. What day is it? Did he forget some special occasion?
Harry ushers him to one of the chairs. Draco hooks his cane over the edge of the table as he sits
and looks at the spread. It smells incredible.
I had banked on you coming home at your usual time. I suppose I might have known youd be
late. Thats why I had Lyra send her patronus. Always easier to get you home when its her.
What is all this? Draco asks again as Harry uses a few flicks of his fingers to serve the lamb.
Cant a bloke do something romantic?
He certainly can, but traditional romance has never been what Draco would call a staple of their
relationship. They love each other, absolutely, and have for years, but elaborate dinners and
candlelight have never been a part of expressing that love.
The look on Dracos face must show what hes thinking, because Harry smiles sheepishly as if to
admit to the fact that its unusual.
Its just weve been together for ages now, and I
He falters and falls off, like he isnt sure where he intended that sentence to go. Draco takes a
hesitant bite of lamb. It tastes just as good as it smells, and Draco makes what is surely a very
undignified noise.
Before things get really crazy or crazier than usual and since Lyra will be going off to school
soon I thought it might be a good time to, ah
Draco is perfectly content to let him think through wherever this sentence is going if it means he
can keep eating this lamb.
I dont know, Harry laughs, rubbing the back of his head. Should I wait till after we eat? Is that
how its meant to go?
I have no idea, Draco says, mostly because I dont know where youre going with this. Not
that I dont appreciate it. This lamb is incredible.
Harry smiles, wets his lips, reaches out for Dracos hand. This sort of thing isnt supposed to
happen, you know.

What isnt?
People arent supposed to find their soulmate on the first go, Harry explains, and despite
himself, Draco smiles. I mean, when does that happen? You were my first love, and after ten
years, I know youll be my last.
That is very sweet, Draco says, gripping Harrys hand back, and incredibly soppy.
I know. Sorry.
Do you want to just tell me whatever it is youre trying to say? Surely it will be easier than all this
pomp and politesse.
Harry doesnt answer immediately. Hes nervous, Draco can tell, though Draco cant imagine for
Yeah, he says after a moment. Yeah, all right. He sucks in a breath, grips Dracos hand all the
tighter. Draco, will
And then the door opens with a clatter.
Its happened!
Draco wrenches around. Hermione is standing in the the doorway, looking slightly frantic.
It takes a moment for the words to sink in. Draco has been preparing himself for this moment for
years now, but somehow the news still knocks him flat.
Its happened, Draco! she says, lunging forward and grabbing him by the shoulder. The
Wizengamot just approved the nomination! Youre running for Minister of Magic!
Oh, is all Draco can manage.
Come on! She grabs his cane off the edge of the table and shoves it into his hand. We have to
go; the press are waiting for your acceptance speech!
What, Harry says. No, wait. Hermione, wait.
Oh, hi, Harry! Draco is willing to bet Hermione hadnt even seen him. She has that singlemindedness in her eye that she always gets at important moments.
You cant have him yet. I need him.
Surely whatever you need him for isnt more important than his campaign for Minister of
It sort of is, thanks!
All right, both of you stop, Draco says, rising to his feet. Harry, this is gorgeous and thank you
and I love you and put it all under a stasis charm. This wont take long. Ill be back in less than an
Harry looks alarmed. He rises to his feet. But you dont understand, he says. This is really
Just a quick press briefing! Draco insists, bending forward to peck him on the lips. Ill be back
before you know it and you can romance the hell out of me, I promise.

Im sorry! Draco says as he follows or, to be more accurate, is dragged by Hermione out of
the dining room. Love you!
I picked up notes for the speech, Hermione says, pulling him back toward the hearth. Theyre
already waiting in the press briefing room. I cant believe its finally happening!
Draco laughs. Youre more excited than I am.
As well I should be, she says. Ive done more work on it than you!
He supposes thats true. Hermione has been one hell of a campaign manager, and Dracos sure
shell be an even better Deputy Minister.
He follows her back through the hearth into the Ministry, where he is promptly assaulted by
several people all at once a few assistants with words of congratulations from Shacklebolt and
Headmistress McGonagall, his image consultant to fix his hair and robes, Hermiones deputy with
last-minute prep and hes shaked them all and is nearly at the door of the press briefing room
when all of a sudden, he is grabbed by the front of his robes, pressed into the wall, and snogged
He isnt quite aware of whats going on other than the fact that whoevers snogging him is doing
quite a good job of it, and when they pull away
Harry, what are you doing here? I told you Id be right back!
From the first day I met you, you were the most remarkable person in my life, Harry says,
sounding quite rushed and a bit breathless (Draco is willing to bet he ran through the Ministry to
catch up with them). Every day you astound me with your intellect and humor and incredible
empathy and I want to spend the rest of my life with you will you marry me?
Draco opens his mouth, sure he misheard.
He feels something pushed into his hand, small and covered in soft, buttery velvet.
Its a ring box.
Draco swallows.
The door to the press briefing room opens; a page is standing just inside.
Lord Malfoy, she says, come on!
Hes tugged inside, though hes still staring at Harry, who is staring back at him with those
entirely-too-green eyes, looking just as lost as Draco feels.
He stumbles up to the podium. A few cameras go off, but hes not looking at the reporters. Hes
looking at the ring box.
He cracks it open. Inside is a small, plain band of brushed silver. A small, engraved butterfly is
flapping around the inside.
Draco suddenly finds that his eyes are burning with tears. He does his best to bite back the smile,

but it arrives anyway. He pushes the ring onto his finger.

Lord Malfoy?
Draco looks up. The cloud of reporters are looking at him in confused silence, all of them primed
and waiting, expecting a speech. Draco cannot think of anything in the world less important.
Harry? he asks, scanning the crowd. Harry, are you?
Harry pushes through the door. Every line is drawn taut and tense, and his eyes are fixed at once
on Draco.
Yes, Draco says, voice hitched. That my answer. Yes.
The reporters all spin. A few more pictures are taken, this time of Harry.
The tension in Harry melts out; Draco can see it from across the room. His face breaks into a
Its going to be absolutely mad, Harry says, though he has to raise his voice to be heard across
the room, planning a wedding while youre running for Minister of Magic.
Whispers break out across the room. More cameras flash.
I know, Draco laughs, rubbing a knuckle into his eye. Lets do it anyway, though, all right?
Thats when the shouting starts. Its an incomprehensible cacophony of Mr. Potter and Lord
Malfoy, and even if Draco could make out all the individual questions, he wouldnt have cared to
answer them. Harry pushes his way past the reporters and makes it up to the podium, and the force
with which he embraces Draco nearly breaks his ribs. Draco gives as much as he gets.
Probably should have thought this out a little better, Harry mutters into his ear, voice sounding
drawn and tight with emotion. This is going to be a PR nightmare, isnt it?
Draco laughs. Any pretense of fighting back emotions is gone. Draco kisses him and the cameras
flash and Harrys probably right about this being a PR nightmare, and somehow it doesnt matter.
And under the layers of starched dress robes, after all these years, strong as it ever was, the
butterfly flaps its wings.

End Notes

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