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Draco has an expression of glee seeing Umbridge tearing Potter's excuse of hair from his scalp. Internally he was cursing Potter for his stupid inclination for rule-breaking fully aware that neither Dumbledore nor Professor McGonagall is here to save him.

'Who the hell was he so tempted to talk to that he could not wait for tomorrow to board the train and see them face to face.his muggle relatives? Nope, he doesn't seem to receive any letters and the condition of his clothes indicate a loveless and inattentive family then... Dumbledore... maybe... but what urgent matter needs to be addressed? It's surely related to his history of the magic paper incident.His cry of agony left even me with increased pulse and paranoia that something bad has happened. But it doesn't seem like he knows where Dumbledore is? Could he know?'  Draco shudders internally  remembering Potter's screams.


He was brought out of his thoughts with Theodore Nott, Vincent Crabbe, Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson bringing in the Weasley siblings who looked murderous and Longbottom trapped in a headlock by Crabbe which made him internally wince while Luna Lovegood's expression of nonchalance left him puzzled. That girl behaves so out of the expectations of the norm that makes you feel weird.


Umbridge spouted how she had put sensor spells on her office.

 'Honestly, if I had not this facade to keep I would have gagged from her girlish smiles and the mistaken sense of superiority, this woman is intolerable.Seeing her reaction to Fred and George Weasley made the hatred burning in me for her to cool down for the time being. That bint deserved it. The number of groundless and irrational decrees she had passed makes me question her basis of all actions. Giving detention who shows even a slight sign of opposition reflects her dictatorial behaviour.Slytherin are clever to protect themselves and their own but other houses are quite fascinated with the idea of rebellion.Dumbledore's army and now this. didnt potter learn his lesson in all these years? What could you do in this school when even the ministry has turned a blind eye to her inhuman means of punishment.But patience doesn't seem to be strong suit of these Gryffindors, just wait for an opportunity but no they have to rush in everything.Could not even wait for tomorrow and now this hag is trying to tear potter's scalp out.'Draco looks at everyone's faces and sees a hint of fear and desperation but is unable to further delve on it as Umbridge addresses Draco and sends him to get professor Snape and he complies smirking at Potter to keep up the act of enjoying all this.


'Just one more day, tomorrow I would board the train and leave behind this arrogant mask that I wear. I am loathing myself seeing  my moral agency twisted according to other people.always a puppet to be stringed around by my father.' Draco ruminated as he traipsed around the cervices to reach the dungeons swiftly.

'"Draco you will not fraternize with any Gryffindors", "Remember well son you are superior to others and the mudbloods are the dirt beneath your shoes. Do well to stay away from them","You are born to take over the Malfoy estate so behave like a worthy heir."By which he meant to treat my friends as minions who are only means to my selfish end and never show others what you truly feel, remain apathetic to everything around you, never trust anyone as all are out to grab your one moment of vulnerability and tear you into shreds. And he gives the lessons as they are taught to him to make a good Malfoy heir out of me he doesn't see anything wrong with them he has been born into it and his life is also governed by them that he never developed a sense to question them which has made him rigid in his stance while I accedded to his orders but the nagging feeling of compassion which my mother has inculcated in me reared it's ugly head when it wasn't needed, seeing Vincent and Gregory being ordered to follow me around for social standing and not given the choice to look for friends according to their tastes reasonated with my father's demand for trying to form connections to the hero of the wizarding world the-prat-who-acts-foolhardy ,seeing Pansy groomed into turning a suitable future lady and leave behind her desire to compete in quidditch against other boys just because her parents fear that it may threaten possible marriage proposal, who keeps grudge on a girl getting in quidditch purely on talent?, Blaise is asked to not voice his support for muggleborns as it may threaten his mother's prospect in rich pureblood husband hunting or Theodore's condition which is worse than mine as his mother concedes to everything his father says leaving no means to vent his frustration out .We are all  shaped by the choices made for us by others which have led us to develop a disdain for their control on our lives but we can't break through their commands as magic ties us to them and the resultant backlash would leave us vulnerable to hostile entities so we have to wear another mask and comply like the good little heirs and heiress we are and behave like a cold piece of meat.'Draco contemplated with a bitterness filling him up.

'Father doesn't even think to ask of my opinion or mother's which has led us to take this drastic step.Preaching to keep the feelings under lock and key he himself has become stone-hearted and I wonder what would he feel tomorrow... Regret?  Anger? Remorse? Or be his aloof self ?' Draco caressed the letter in his pocket which had arrived just before this whole bombshell occurred.

'Has he also made me like himself ? He doesn't see that being aloof makes people think that I don't value them .They think that I am in over my head and won't even spare my friends if it comes to fulfilling my goals.' Draco ponders remembering the mistrustful looks he earns.

'All purebloods have a set of lessons-more like rules, order, commands- to guide their heirs and heiresses on proper conduct in society which makes us appear like a heartless bunch of uptight teenagers who are out to manipulate others and spell them to be our subservient.Traditions are important to be upheld , I agree as they form the basis of our Sacred 28 and ensure their survival but change is also important as it's not always about manipulation and gain or loss.The ancestors made these rules as they were a tight-knit circle engaging in trade and society building where one wrong step may threaten the existence of a family and it's status in the community but now the magic community has opened up and has a lot of people half-bloods and muggle-borns and magical creatures of all kind. The magic community's number has been stable for quite some time regardless of the number of squibs born.It is not like ancient times where your burst of magic due to unchecked emotions will lead to witch hunt and witch trials.Muggleborns may be outsiders who are ignorant of the purebloods way of life but they are helping to keep the magic alive by bringing the new blood to the magic community.It is not like I am jumping to marry a muggle-born and the lower status that their lack of experience provides them in wizarding world is the root of the purebloods disdain for them but does it seem suitable to follow the same archaic rules and live this life as if it's a game.'Draco ponders sadly.

'Are we even living or just surviving? We don't outright show our affections but it's fine to show how much you loathe others and demean others due to their accident of birth ?' Draco questioned ruefully as he headed towards his potions class.


"Professor?" Draco asks knocking on the door and moving inside the potions class.

"What happened Draco?"Severus Snape comes out cleaning his hands on a towel and vanishing it to his room. Draco smiles seeing his godfather who is always busy in making one or other potion.

"You can never be the best.there is always a chance of improvement"-the mantra that Severus has given Draco whenever Draco saw him immersed in potions making. But Draco has observed and discerned that there is some kind of restlessness in him that is the driving force of his actions like if he just gets this right whatever opportunity he missed would be brought back. Draco shared this with his mother who just smiled and said: "You are quite perceptive for your own age but some personal matters need to be left alone". 

'Maybe if someone addresses his personal matters then he would come out of his shell and behave a little kindly towards others.His social circle is awfully limited and I guess I am the only student towards whom he has a tiny bit of affection seeing that I was dumped in his lap by father while mother mourned the loss of my could-have-been-godfather.Mother tells me of her Hogwarts days and father sometimes uses his experience as examples of suitable behaviour but Severus is quite hesitant to share his younger years that reflects in his withdrawn behaviour and the rarest glimpses of affection that he graces me with either by a smile or a pat on the shoulder for good work.But he seems wholly devoted to his potions which further ebb his regard for human contact and emotions.'Draco perpends noticing the sallow appearance of his godfather who seems content to be tied to his potions lab.

 

"Professor Umbridge is calling you. She caught Potter with his head in the floo."Draco tries to give a smile but remembering Potter's treatment at the hands of Umbridge his mouth twists into a grimace. Professor Snape sighs in a suffering manner and they move towards the toad faced woman's office in silence.

'Silence with Severus as familiar'Draco thinks remembering his childhood where after tutoring him Severus would sit in a corner observing him with his sharp emotionless eyes assessing how much Draco was able to comprehend the lesson. Severus is a man of few words which makes Draco wonder if his relationship with his could-have-been godfather would have been the same or they would have had more words, more contact more heart to heart with each other. If anything dire happens Draco could rely on his godfather but he still thinks what could have been if his mother's choice had prevailed.


"You wanted to see me, headmistress?"Snape asked with complete indifference on his face.Draco has come to read small reactions very well which is key to survival in the house of snakes where one thing is shown and other is hidden.He sees his jaw tighten just a bit taking in the whole scene.

'She used veritaserum on Potter !!! This hag has crossed the limit. She violated every rule and now she has threatened even a student's free will and mental abilities. I can't just tolerate this now. Potter is the epitome of self-rule and now she has tarnished the hope of other students who look up to potter to do the rightful even if its rash.I have to teach her a lesson. what hex to use on her? Something subtle that should not be evident till I board the train....hmmm....the pimples hex... juvenile...I could spell all her porcelains collection of cats to crack....oh her look of anguish and fury! It will take a night for the cracks to spread but the wait will be worth it. When she will try to repair the cracks it will further damage her collection. Quite fond of your collection you are , Umbridge? perfect move! She won't be able to detect it to any student.' His train of thought is broken by hearing his father's name. "Provide any input you can to the inquisitor." His father's note had declared.Draco's resolve strengthened to provide a parting gift to this poor excuse of a woman.

"He's got Padfoot.He's got Padfoot at the place where it's hidden."Potter shouted to Severus in what seemed like a desperate attempt for help.

'Padfoot? Sirius?? How? What? What is he talking about? How could anyone hostile enter the wards of Grimmauld place? The wards won't allow them.Mother!! Mother is also with him....what if any harm has befallen her. She just sent me the letter before I had to come along here.What could have happened in this span of time? What is Potter trying to say? Who he? is it the Dark Lord? But the Dark Lord can't enter the place not when he is not given the address.How?I have to speak to Potter.Now!'Draco's mind was racing from one possibility to another fearing for his mother and cousin's life while simultaneously reassuring himself that the letter and wards won't allow any harmful entity to attack them.


Severus moved out of the room denying knowing anything about Padfoot. He can't disclose his alliance with the light side nor could he threaten his position in the eyes of Umbridge.


Draco released his breath trying to think of how to get Potter out of the office and make sense of what he is saying.' I will have to use the spell that I saw in father's study. But I can't talk to him alone. He seems hysterical.I will need the trio's voice-of-reason Hermione Granger. She seems a bit aware of the happenings around her. I didn't want to reveal my position quite yet but I have to do it. Damn you, Potter!'


"Professor? If I may," Draco addressed Umbridge stepping forward with his wand in hand pointed downwards and waving it in a circle then an infinity sign and a square muttering "tamen bulla foris stare in Tempore"* calling out names of everyone present except Granger and potter.


A translucent white sheet covers the occupants face while Granger looks confused and warily at Draco. Potter moves back from Umbridge as Draco takes steps towards him. Taking a deep breath to calm himself and seeking comfort from the wooden ridges of his wand and the texture of parchment and softness of quill lying in the pocket of his robes Draco addresses Potter steadily." Potter, what happened? Who took Sirius? Who did you talk to?" While Potter seems to realise that Umbridge is frozen, makes eye contact with Granger who shrugs minutely but his attention snaps to Draco hearing Sirius's name.

'About to make a run for escape, thank Merlin the shock left him a bit disoriented or I would have had to cast a petrify on him.' Draco thinks as Potter opens his mouth and closes it looking suspiciously at Draco.


"Potter I asked something. I need to know who were you talking to.Is Sirius in danger? It's no time for suspicions and doubts, this time our goal is same-to protect Sirius so tell me."Draco gritted this teeth seeing Potter's indecision and her silent conversation with Granger through eye contact.

 

Granger nodded and said, "We flooed to where he lives and he was not there to answer the floo but we talked to his house-elf who said that Sirius wasn't there and that he will not return from the place he went to".

 

Draco analysed what she was saying, he appreciated her for being vague but still presenting a picture to show the situation but it was not helping at this time, he needed more clear information." House-elf? Do you mean Kreacher? That depressed unruly weird house elf? What did he say? Tell me clearly. I need what he said word to word. Anything you noticed.Anything you found strange. You know elves can twist their words if they are not asked upon by their master. And Kreacher is a vindictive old elf who has gone half-mad in isolation so seeing the faces of unruly kids of whom one is of a .... different parentage so he may have said something vague which fulfilled the purpose of your question but still it might not be the truth."Draco stressed and registered in his mind that both the Gryffindors were shocked that he knew the elf's name, good it would prove that he knew about the situation somewhat.

 

Granger seemed to ponder over this thought while Potter nodded and confessed,"Kreacher seemed quite happy...for the first time I had seen him this delighted.... and his hands were bandaged.....I asked him where is Sirius and he said that he is gone. I asked for..... others but he said no one was there but him.... and then he said that he is going to chat with his mistress and when I asked him if Sirius has gone.... to.... the department of mysteries he said Sirius won't return from there.It means he is in danger and I have to go to rescue him... Malfoy you have..."Draco turned sharp eyes to Potter while his mind turned gears taking all the information in and thinking of several possibilities.

"Is Sirius the type to punish house elves because Kreacher is not that devoted to Sirius to harm himself willingly for not obeying Sirius?"Draco asked to which potter replied promptly"Sirius could not be bothered to punish Kreacher.He just wants the elf to stay in his room and not cross him".

 

Draco nodded and wondered aloud,"Elves harm themselves when they have disobeyed a direct order which doesn't seem to be the case here....or when they act in a certain way that may bring harm to their masters....so Kreacher did something that put Sirius in danger but he can't actively harm the master of the house and he is still bound by the Black loyalty so what could have been the case? He might have lied about Sirius's presence in the house....it reasons his punishment.he didn't outright say that Sirius has gone to department of mysteries but merely implied that he won't return so there is a possibility that Sirius will go there".

 

Draco is startled by a frustrated sigh coming from Potter and raises his eyebrows." We don't have time for your theories.Sirius is getting tortured in the ministry and I am stuck here listening to you babbling about this and that. Malfoy just let us leave and we can forget all about this."Harry said with the edge of desperation creeping in his words blinding him to seeing Draco's reasoning.

 

"Harry, Malfoy might have a point"Granger calmly addressed him in a soothing tone.

 

"Tortured? What else are you not telling me? How do know he is being tortured? I asked for everything you know and instead of once behaving like the naive fools you lot are you are holding back important information?"Draco's anger was reflected in his voice. His worry for mother and Sirius left him annoyed with the incomplete information he was being accorded.

 

Potter glared at him while Granger said measuring her each word, "Harry had a vision during today's exam. He saw some Death Eaters and v-Voldemort torturing Sirius".

Draco looked at Potter incredulously and shook his head.' even Potter can't predict what happens with him.' 

"Okay so Dark Lord has Sirius so why would he enter the ministry and torture him there only?"Draco asked to which Potter replied solemnly," he wants something from there....a shining cloudy globe thing that sits on a counter in the department of mysteries".

 

Draco huffed and questioned,"You mean a prophecy? Potter a,you aware that the Dark Lord went after you because of a prophecy? It may be the same prophecy that now resides with the DOM and for your knowledge only the prophesied person can touch the prophecy so capturing Sirius is a moot point. If he is taken by the Dark Lord he is being used as a bait for you to go there and what will you do if it's just a vision that the Dark Lord has created and planted in your mind?You know he is a skilled legilimens so he knows how mind works and he can manipulate your emotions resulting in the expected rash behaviour from you which may put your life, as well as your friends, lives in danger. Are you ready to take a chance based on a vision? His occulmency shields are commendable so do you think that he would willingly let you take a peek in his mind? What if it's all a trap? What then?"

Draco seethed seeing Potter's adamant stance." It has happened before Malfoy and due to the vision a life was saved and honestly why are you worrying now? Just let us go!! I am giving you last warning."Potter was growing agitated and fidgeting with the need to move, to do something driving him on the edge of hysteria.

 

Draco glanced around and realised that 15 minutes have passed and he can't keep the spell on about half a dozen people for longer.He moved towards the floo and touched the floo powder but stepped back seeing a thin film covering the fire.

"Damn it!When did she block  her floo?"Draco asked annoyed,only as a rhetoric to express his anger.

"She did it when you went to get professor Snape." Granger answered softly.Draco could not remember the counter charm to make the floo working again and realised his hold on his spell was slipping away.

"Granger I am going to do something and you are not going to utter a word. Get Potter and meet me in the abandoned classroom near the charm classroom. Potter, you wish to know if Sirius is safe or not then you will do as I say." Draco made eye contact demanding his order to be followed. Granger nodded after a beat while Potter looked defeated.


"et conteram bulla,"Draco muttered pointing his wand downward repeating the motion made earlier in the opposite side." memoria auertisse, "he whispered pointing his wand to the other occupants while Granger and Potter looked at him unsure.

'The Malfoy spells of stealth, trickery,charm and manipulation work  well.'Draco  thought as Umbridge, Crabbe, Blaise, Theodore, Pansy and the Gryffindors and the eccentric Ravenclaw looked around dazed.


"Yes Professor I also think that he was trying to gain sympathy by his little act during the exam, "Draco said haughtily to which Umbridge blinked and nodded.

"Tell me, boy, why did you scream bloody murder during an exam? Just to gain popularity? Oh, Mr Potter even last day you have landed yourself in detention."Umbridge smiled her sickly sweet smile while Potter looked on pressing his lips into a thin line.

'Thank Merlin he is controlled for now but Umbridge is going to give him detention.... what to do?'Draco thought frantically and made eye contact with Granger.

'Legilimens,' he cast wordlessly maintaining eye contact with her.

 

"Harry would never do such a thing for popularity. He just saw a really bad dream."Granger said the words which Draco projected to her after recovering from her shock of hearing his voice in her ear.

 

Umbridge looked at her pleased and continued her to go on." He saw that.... his parents are being killed by v... Voldemort while his friends are.... already lying dead on his feet and him...he can't do anything but watch."Granger's voice turned to a whisper reaching the last word and Draco heard'i am sorry Harry' before withdrawing from her mind.

Draco felt a pang of regret for such a lie but it would be the most believable he could come up within this much time. Umbridge looked at Potter with a mock sorrowful expression and Draco decided to barge in the conversation... again.

"Professor I think Potter needs to visit the infirmary for a calming draught.I will assist him."Draco addressed her respectfully remembering all his mother's lessons on etiquette and conduct in boring tea parties.

 

Umbridge smiled at him wickedly as she was also aware of Potter- Malfoy rivalry and saw it fit for Potter to be harassed by Draco as she could not do anything unfair now since no punishment can be given for a nightmare, not in front of witnesses. Umbridge nodded and Draco tilted his head sideways mockingly signalling Potter to walk along.

"And you people are not allowed to eavesdrop on the headmistress's conversation.Mr. Potter is saved but not you. Now take a seat on the floor and I will arrange quills for you."Umbridge looked satisfied seeing the fuming faces of the Gryffindors and the sole Ravenclaw.

Draco clenched his teeth and turned to her again with a forced sneer." Headmistress it has been quite a hectic schedule for you.I request that you delegate this honour of punishing for trespass of Headmistress office to me and my Inquisitorial Squad and we shall not disappoint you."Draco sweet-talked to Umbridge giving glared to the others.

"Oh Draco, of course, I am tired and I do believe your suggestion is exemplary.I believe  my chosen students to carry out justice, "Umbridge exclaimed clapping her hands and the Slytherins moved with their captives outside alongside with Potter and smiled Granger.

 

Draco once smiled at Umbridge and turned to leave but thought something and turned back to her."Legilimens" he muttered making eye contact with Umbridge and after fulfilling his purpose went out smile satisfactorily for a moment before the worry took over.

 

 He moved  outside and told his friends in a cold tone " Leave  the Gryffindors.I had enough of drama for today." The  Slytherins looked at him puzzled but obliged taking a step back. He looked at Potter once nodding subtly and hoping that Potter doesn't fly off for the supposed rescue but he believes in his abilities of reasoning and persuasion and above that Granger and Potter's curiosity and whatever is left of their sense of reasoning would push them to meet Draco.

Chapter Text

Draco Malfoy had been many things in his life-Slytherin, Prefect,Bully, Cunning, Opportunistic, Caring….Scared….-but he had never thought that he would be a reckless stupid rescuer for the Boy-who-couldn't-think-rationally.Maybe it was bit of an exaggeration calling himself 'rescuer' but hearing that Potter was off to the Ministry based on a vision made his gut twist into unfathomable knots.His instinct pointed that the consequences would be horrendous and so he haplessly had to forgo his bully persona to convince two-third of the trio of his noble intentions.Not noble so much as selfish as his mother could also be harmed in this game  set up by the Dark Lord and his minions.

 

Game it was, for the Dark Lord only wanted to win no matter how many lives were at stake.'Kill Potter, Eliminate Dumbledore,Make minions out of the Purebloods and rule everyone'-this seemed to be his sole purpose of coming back to life. And his father followed such a thing!

 

Draco was overwrought with nerves thinking of anything happening to his cousin which would threaten his mother's already precarious position ,not forgetting his status also.So he had to help Potter with every resource available to him.

 

'Something grave must be going on or mother would not have preponed her rehabilitation to Black Manor with such haste.And then Potter breaking into Umbridge's office claiming a vision of Sirius trapped doesn't seem like a mere coincidence.I have to contact them and if Potter comes for the ride along then atleast Sirius would be assured that I kept my promise to help keep Potter out of trouble.' Draco considered gravely.

 

"Draco?"Pansy asked tentatively while Blaise and Theo looked at him with concern.

 

"I see your mental shields are holding strong.You remember what happened in Umbridge's office."Draco stated while the trio nodded warily. Purebloods had implemented ways to ensure that their heirs do not go advertising their feelings in front of everyone or what Draco thought,were ways to ensure no family secrets see the light of the day so all were trained in occulmency, legilimency, mind shields and their recognition to ensure as deemed fit by their parents. He shudders internally remembering the legilimency lessons with his father at the age of 12.

 

"I think my position in Slytherin is about to change.The knowledge that I won't follow in my father's footsteps will be revealed earlier than I anticipated due to certain unexpected circumstances."Draco looked at the horror dawning on Pansy's face,Blaise's blank face which hid his ongoing thought process and Theo's look of relief mixed with concern.

Status in pureblood society was reflected in the house of Slytherin and now that he had decided to disappear one night before boarding the Hogwarts Express questions will certainly rise. Draco just hoped that he would be far away to get the suspicious and venomous looks of others who would realise soon that he had shrugged off his duties of Malfoy heir, parted from the House of Malfoy , disregarded his loyalty for his father.

"The seniors won't let you live peacefully.""Strengthen your wards.""You should not come back to school."Pansy, Blaise and Theo said at the same time.

"Guys I will be fine.I am prepared for whatever the seniors throw at me.And you know the family wards are quite strong.The Dark Lord would not be able to know where I am.And I have always prepared for this.I won't run away now.It will be better than if I had chosen another course and become his puppet. I won't leave you alone in this time of turmoil.We know what is coming and we would need each other so I am not abandoning you for a sense of security."Draco looked at his friends sincerely.Pansy sobbed once and hugged him tightly.Blaise and Theo looked accepting but still troubled.

Anything was better than being under the thumb of Lucius Malfoy. Draco had always wanted to be free of the expectations of how a Malfoy has to behave and atleast now this burden would be lifted and whatever he has to face in the coming year he would atleast not be moved around like a pawn by his father.

"I am taking Potter with me to where I am going." Draco confided in them.

"Don't let the Potter brat get you killed."Theo murmured softly joining the hug.Blaise embraced the trio muttering,"I hope that some of your cleverness rubs of on him."

 

"I will explain everything later."

 

"You don't need to.Just don't become an idiotic gryffindor in their company."

 

He departed in the opposite direction while his friends went to the dormitory.This was the bond that he had created, the bond he will give even his life to preserve.Who would have thought that a bunch of troubled teenagers could find solace in each other.But Draco recognised that testing times will come soon and he had to stay strong for himself,his mother and his friends.

 

*********

 

"Harry let's go.What are you doing?"Hermione gritted her teeth seeing Harry moving towards the entrance door of Hogwarts.She had given Luna, Neville and Ginny the excuse that Harry could not handle more than her and Ron right now and they had agreed readily ,still dazed by spells cast on their minds.

 

"You honestly believe that I am going to trust that git not to sabotage my plan.If the opportunity has presented itself then I won't go to Malfoy to make a fool of myself but to the ministry where I am needed.And don't you find it suspicious that he took a 360° just when Umbridge caught us.He is a Slytherin and he has some ulterior motive.And I am not going to fall into his trap.I can't just suddenly believe him."Harry hissed moving hurriedly.

 

"Seriously?!Did you forget all we discussed in Umbridge's office.When you have to see reason then suddenly you become pig-headed.This motive you speak of, what could it be? Come on guess!He didn't seem like he was pulling a prank and will revel in sabotaging your plan.He,for once, acted like an adult. And you Harry James Potter are going to think for a minute or Merlin help me If I have to drag you by your ankle to the designated place I will happily do so."Hermione was getting impatient by each passing second,she prides herself on the strategies by which she governs her life. Study schedule,exam stress, assignment preparation, recreation time,hobby indulging, keeping everyone around her on line, but she didn't know what to do now. Her brain could not muster up any arguments in favour of Harry's action while Malfoy's side was brimming with reasons that she was sure were more reasonable than a vision and impromptu departure.

 

"Guys? So I am assuming, that ferret got us out of Umbridge's clutches.That's surprising...but Harry,mate,if you think that you are any wiser in analysing a situation better than Hermione then I am ready to do as you say. So tell me...do you think Hermione's judgement could be flawed? She has always been the most apt in reading people and their intentions."Ron spoke with pauses filled here and there, nodding to Harry and Hermione with an unsure smile on his face. He never doubted that the brightest of them was Hermione and if it came to Malfoy she had the right to discard his every action being rooted in  evil but since it feels like she would even -'drag Harry by his ankle'-resort to physical means to convince Harry he believed siding with her would be a wise choice for everyone.

 

"I know... that Hermione is right. But it's Malfoy and it's Sirius….I didn't had a family before him….He gave me a home without even knowing me beyond my name, ten minutes after I had raised my wand against him. I don't know what I will do if I make the wrong choice…. What about Remus? I won't be able to face him if he knew I had information regarding Sirius but I didn't do anything."Harry's voice cracked as he went on speaking.

 

"Okay so take it this way. I have always believed that Malfoy is just like his father,a death eater.So see the bright side...err...or not so bright...so he takes you to Voldermort himself. Maybe he is inviting you to grab you and drag you himself and win his favour.So you will get a free ride to ministry , you don't have to worry about transport. And you can prove me and Hermione wrong if Malfoy takes us to the Ministry. But we will be prepared, now that we have this thought in mind. And you didn't want to involve Ginny, Neville or Luna in this so now they are safe here. So let's go." Ron claps his hands trying to be enthusiastic but his twitching fingers gave away his nervousness.

 

Harry nods and they move towards the charms classroom with purposeful strides.

 

*******

 

"I had almost thought you forgot all this like a bad dream." Draco greeted the golden trio with his wry words.

 

Weasley clenched his fists but refrained from answering.Granger  raised an eyebrow at Malfoy who sighed and stepped forward.

 

"Here.Surely you recognise your godfather's handwriting." Draco waved a letter in front of Harry who hesitantly took it.

 

" Hi dragon, hope you have not implemented any of your schemes to murder Umbridge or your mother will gladly kill me.We would not want that now, would we?Or don't tell me you have your mother's evil streak.Now she is giving me her death glare, you should tell your mother to tamp it down or I will feel more like a trapped 'dog' and then do something stupid.

So yeah Narcissa came here suddenly but don't get your knickers in a twist,every outcome has been planned by your Slytherin mother.I will try to keep her out of trouble.And guess what? The old piece of rag was ecstatic,he gave a genuine smile to Cissa when he heard that she is shifting here permanently.I even heard him singing.I think he has finally lost his mind.

I heard that your mother has created a safe passage for you to come here. Don't engage in any unsavoury act till then. But I think we could still make a Black out of you. Just you come here soon and don't bother anyone and try to look out for and keep away from trouble.

Bye….

'Seriously' yours 

Cousin Constellation"

 

Granger read the letter aloud over Potter's shoulder and now the golden trio were looking at him with a funny expression.

 

Draco remembered how his Inquisitorial Squad was out of purview of Umbridge's scrutiny who believed that each one member of  the squad  is loyal to her.Atleast it warranted that Draco would be able to talk to his mother and his cousin.Sirius and him exchanged many letters  this year.They had shared Umbridge's frustrating rules and exchanged ideas to kill her.Calling him dragon had been a teasing start but it soon developed as a habit.To mask the letters' addressee Sirius used the pseudonym 'constellation'.

Sirius had written in his letters asking for Draco to see that his godson stays out of trouble and all he could do was take the patrolling duty near Room of Requirements from Filch, disappearing at opportune moments not letting anyone doubt him but he could not hold it for long and Umbridge caught 'Dumbledore's Army'.

 

"You were only supposed to check his handwriting and match it. Papyrus revelio." Draco said frustrated that Granger read the letter aloud.

 

The words 'Sirius Black' floated above the letter.Granger  looked fascinated.Potter had pressed his lips together while the red head looked on like a lost puppy.

 

"So what have you planned for now?" Potter addressed him with a cold calculating look in his eyes which impressed Draco.

 

"Here.The safe passage that he talked about is this.This is a portkey.It will activate with a password only and take you at the house. " Draco took out an eagle feathered quill from his pocket.

 

"Okay. So why couldn't have your mother come to  pick you up on the station?" Weasley asked.

 

"Look I have done everything I can.I have revealed some secrets that I was not comfortable revealing and now I am giving you the safe passage.If you still can't believe me then we should part ways now." Draco knew that to make others believe in you you had to show some weakness but if they kept on demanding answers then he did not know what will be his next step,how does he explain to an almost stranger-an enemy till now why his mother could not come to the station. Weasley's question would reveal too many things which he would never share with them willingly.

 

"Ron it's none of our business.We saw the letter and the evidence of safe passage so let's believe him." Potter shrugged and looked at the quill intensely.

 

"We need to inform the others that we are leaving or they will worry.I will just go and inform them." Granger made to move.

 

"Granger ,you have coins.Use the protean charm." Draco adviced her casually but was met with a deafening silence.

 

"How do you know?" Granger asked him incredously.

 

"I would love to play 20 questions but we are on a deadline here. If we don't take Potter to Sirius he might combust."Draco signalled towards Potter who was unconsciously clenching and unclenching his fists.

 

Granger nodded and spelled the coin to spell 'Going home,tell later' to be sent specifically to Ginny.

 

"Our luggage?" Weasley  looked uneasy raising this question.

 

"The house elves will take care of that." Draco told him impatiently.

 

"Malfoy we understand that there is no love lost between us but if this is your only passage to reach home safely then come with us." Granger addressed him calmly.

 

' I knew if I offered to go myself they would have denied me. They still think that I am in league with that thing. Well, they will know once we reach our destination.' Draco thought as he saw the trio exchanging looks.Draco nodded gravely.

 

"And Harry will stay in the centre.Me, Hermione and you Malfoy are going to surround him. I am not willing to take any risks." Weasley said adamantly.

 

"Okay, fine," Draco internally rolled his eyes. Weasley looked shocked hearing no protests.

 

 They took positions with the quill in Potter's hand and the others touching his shoulder from either sides.

" The password is Draco." Draco said without any inflection but saw Weasley scoffing.

 

'Never thought I would willingly touch Potter if not for a fight. No use in throwing a tantrum now.Everyone is highstrung now.It won't do any good.' Draco thought looking at the trio who held their wands in a defensive position.

He heard Potter mutter 'Draco' softly and felt a twinge of sadness. If Potter had accepted his friendship back in first year then they would have been 'Harry' and 'Draco' to each other.Draco might have saved him from taking any stupid decisions and Potter might have helped him….

His stomach turned as a hook seemed to hold on to his navel and he started in his journey to the unknown.

**********

Harry felt the headache building in the back of his head which was making thinking difficult.

 

He felt an itch at the back of his mind demanding him go to Ministry straight away.He tried to suppress the feeling but it was growing intense which had led him to approach the door of Hogwarts but Hermione's  and Ron's presence had made him feel grounded and he agreed to meet Malfoy.

 

Harry felt relieved reading Sirius's handwriting but boggled at the same time.Why would Sirius talk to Malfoy so amicably?

 

His thoughts were passing through his mind like a seive as his instinct to run off to the Ministry was turning stronger.With sheer will he held himself there while the discussions were going on.

 

And then he felt like life returning when he held the quill, his passage to reach Sirius which gave him a concrete thing to concentrate on letting his headache recede.

 

***********

 

"Mother," Draco was the first to recover, greeting his mother, cousin and godfather having tea.Tea, Sirius and Severus! He had never thought he would see them in the same room let alone having tea while glaring daggers at each other.

 

The adults stood up and a blur passed Draco as the boy-with-flailing-limbs crashed into Sirius, hugging him tight.

"Not that I am not happy to see you but I thought Sniv...Snape here said that you were just trying to get on Umbridge's nerves.You really were worried for me. Oh Harry, it's fine now.I am here.You are safe." Sirius caressed Potter's hair and rubbed his shoulders.Draco could hear sniffling sounds from the boy-with-unstable-emotions.

Weasley and Granger looked at Draco with grudging respect to which Draco turned his head away.

"What is happening here?Harry you here?! What happened?Is everything fine?" Remus Lupin came hurriedly to the godfather-godson pair in his rumpled clothing, disheveled hair and dark circles under his gaunt eyes.

 

'Full moon was day before yesterday.Well that explains his appearance.' Draco thought , trying to avoid his mother's and godfather's piercing gazes. 

 

"Mr. Lupin calm down.Everything is fine.Just early arrival of our charges." Narcissa Malfoy addressed Lupin in her solemn voice but every head turned to her.Draco had always believed that his mother could lighten a whole room with her mere presence and was always jealous when the functions organised at the Manor made his mother divert attention to everything else. But now he was relieved to have his mother's scrutinizing gaze away from his person.

 

"Well Harry here had a…. Vision….He saw Sirius captured by Voldermort, being tortured. He wanted Harry to go to the Ministry so we contacted here via floo…." Draco turned his attention inwards instead of listening to Granger's words. He had visited Grimmuald Place a handful of times but it seemed like the wards recognised him,sang to him, welcoming the Black blood to the house.

 

"Kreacher," Draco stated clearly, interrupting Granger's retelling.The summoned house elf bowed to him respectfully not paying attention to anyone else." Who did you supply the information to? You realise that many lives were at stake due to your unruly conduct? You serve the House of Black and this is how you show your loyalty?"

 

"Master Draco….I is honest sir,I is loyal to the House of Black….I would never harm the true heirs of the House of Black.I was following the orders of a Black only sir.Mistress speaks highly of her.Forgive Kreacher….he didn't mean to harm Master Draco…" Kreacher trembled, twisting his fingers in his pillowcase and looking at Draco with awe and fear. Draco felt chills running down his spine as he deduced that Kreacher was talking about Bellatrix Lestrange.

" You are not to leave this house till me or Mother tell you to.You will not go to Bellatrix Lestrange anytime now.We are your masters and if you dare to again betray the affairs of this house you better be prepared for consequences."Draco had not spoken so coldly to anyone.The timber of his own voice, the voiced words reminded him of his father,his cold warnings if Draco did anything not acceptable to Lucius Malfoy.Draco felt disgusted with himself but he was too scared, terrified that if  Potter's vision had been true then his mother could be in danger,he did not even know if his mother was alive if Sirius was captured by the Dark Lord.

 

Draco's hope had surged receiving his mother's letter telling him of her departure from Malfoy Manor(finally!) and her new residence in The Most Noble House of Black.He had been worried that something must have happened to hasten the process as it was communicated to him earlier that they will leave together after he came to the Manor.His mother had assured him in the letter that she will explain later. He had accepted it and was on his way to pack his stuff when he had been summoned to Umbridge who looked like a wolf hunting for it's prey.Then everything had changed so fastly and he was acting on instinct, trying to think of ways to ensure that nobody was harmed.Numbing himself to go into full fledged panic mode had helped for the time being but now seeing his mother safe all emotions hit him like a wave.

Anger, frustration, disgust,fear, panic-he felt everything and now it was bubbling out of him.Kreacher seemed the foremost culprit and now seeing him in front of himself Draco felt like lashing out.

But he did not want to become his father,he would not become his father so he reigned the most violent reactions in and used the piercing cold voice which could freeze his nerves anytime.Now seeing it's effect on the poor elf he felt a bit of guilt surging.

 

"As Master Draco orders.Kreacher will not go anywhere .I be serving the true heir of House Black now that you is here." Kreacher bowed still trembling with fear or excitement but Draco refrained from analysing it.

"Draco," Narcissa Malfoy spoke softly and Draco became aware of all the eyes on himself.He felt trapped in his body seeing the expression that screamed that he was not human but something vile which needs to be looked down upon.

 

"Draco, darling," Mother called him again and he finally looked at her with a blank expression.His mother, his beautiful mother who had gone through so many hardships to ensure that he was safe.His mother deserved a good son, not a shadow of his father.He would be good, for his mother.

 

"It is alright now darling." Mother whispered to him softly with her soothing voice, only reserved for her baby boy.He felt calming down with his mother's soft hands on his cheeks, giving him something tangible to focus on.

Draco did not want to think about anyone else so he didn't.His mother took his hand and directed him outside of the tea parlour to his assigned room.

*******

After the disorientation of traveling passed Harry had looked frantically around and spotting Sirius felt  all his worries turning into mist.Throwing himself at Sirius he had sobbed and sniffled, clutching tightly to him.

Remus had been cautious around him, keeping him at a distance maybe because of his lyncathropy. Remus had been a guardian in his own right with his soothing advice, careful demeanor but with Sirius Harry felt a child like glee that he had not felt with anyone. Sirius opened up to him and did not treat him like a child but like an equal,a partner in crime.

Sirius tried to comfort him but Harry was comforted by his mere presence alone,he did not even pay attention to others but his godfather.The godfather whom he had thought was being tortured by Voldermort while he trusted a Slytherin to show the right way.

He was glad that he trusted Malfoy for once.He had various questions running in his mind but those could wait.

Remus came to them with a flurry of questions but Mrs. Malfoy palacated him. Harry saw her as a formidable figure and with her control of her voice,her body language which didn't seem alarmed by the unexpected entrance of her son and the gryffindors reminded Harry that she was not a woman to break easily.

Hermione recounted the events while everyone looked at the four teenagers with varying expressions of worry, pride and then admonition.Harry tried to look innocent but no one was buying the facade.

Malfoy's cold voice cut their conversation and Harry looked on stunned at the cold venom dripping from Malfoy's voice.Seeing Kreacher grovelling in front of Malfoy made Harry feel sick.

' Only blood matters to some people.No matter how the purebloods treat them. 'Harry scoffed internally seeing the house elf literally prostrating in front of an ice-faced Malfoy.

He felt disgust seeing Malfoy using his position of power to bound Kreacher to Grimmuald Place by only his words. What would  his actions do to the elf? Harry pondered briefly.

 

Mrs. Malfoy calling Malfoy made Harry realise that something was going on but he could not fathom what it was.He looked towards Hermione,Ron, Sirius and Remus but all were looking at Malfoy with varying expressions of caution and dare he say it,a hint of fear.The whole room seemed like it was in standstill.

Malfoy turned and looked at his mother blankly that made Harry internally flinch.No one can wipe all their expressions so swiftly, looking like dead,not exactly after you had gone through what all he,his friends and the Syltherin went through.

 

His mother took him out of the room and Harry felt like he could breathe again.

 

*********

"Mother I am fine.Just a bit tired of all this emotional load.Are you okay?" Draco asked him mother softly.

 

"Yes I am okay. Let's get you to bed." Mother spoke in the same soft tone but Draco felt like he should warn Severus of some  things that were about to happen at Hogwarts.

 

"Mother let me do something first." Draco turned back before his mother could protest-which he knew he won't be able to deny-and barged in the consuming silence of the tea parlour.

 

Everyone looked grim so he  forgo making everyone puzzled with his words and directly addressed Snape." I think you should go back to Hogwarts.There is going to be chaos there."

 

Everyone looked at him puzzled which was not his intention or maybe it was."What do you mean Draco?" Severus asked him not letting any emotions reflect in his voice.

 

"The headmistress might be resigning…. and yeah Aurors may be heading there to arrest her.I think it would be better if you are at Hogwarts as even Professor McGonagall is not there.So all the duties fall on other Professors and they are quite soft to handle the ensuing chaos." Draco smiled fleetingly and turned back in the face  of questions.









Chapter Text

Harry looked at the retreating back of Malfoy, puzzled by his words. He was starting to recognise that Malfoy was a whole other kind of person, now that he seemed no longer a bully he had turned eccentric like Luna Lovegood.

 

" I shall depart for Hogwarts." Snape said formally in a clipped tone. Remus acknowledged by nodding and Snape disappeared through the floo to Leaky Couldron.

 

"So we know that Voldermort is in the ministry.We have his exact location. Should not we inform Professor Dumbledore?" Harry asked his godfather who looked to be pondering on it.

 

"I guess we should but he is there with his minions and we have to gather the Order members , only then it will be an equal fight." Sirius gave an apologetic look to Harry. 'Calling all the members will take time but it could be arranged,then why not start sending messages ,'Harry thought feeling a spike of irritation.

 

"Or better yet we can tip off the Daily Prophet and they can see for themselves who is seeking attention and who is blurring the facts." Ron remarked with disdain. Harry agreed wholeheartedly,he knew how he had suffered this whole year listening to taunts and jeers that he was nothing more than an attention seeking lunatic.

 

"Ron I understand that you would want to show the Paper what they are worth but this may put them in peril. If we don't care for others lives and behave recklessly then there won't be much difference between us and Voldermort." Remus spoke wisely.

 

' Sometimes I just wish to abandon all this. This hero status and this responsibility, these morals that bind me to act sagely even to the people who have treated me like shit. But then the guilt and worry won't let me be in peace. Why do people have to choose to be good and bad. Why can't everyone just stay happy in whatever they have. The childhood fantasy and bafflement of how could people be out there who are hell bent on making other lives miserable is turning less and less rational and believable.' Harry thought mournfully but stopped before his words pulled him in a downward spiral of his means of escaping the reality of unjust  treatment by the Dursleys.

 

" I have sent Dumbledore message to come here as soon as possible." Remus informed everyone solemnly.

 

Ron snorted making everyone look at him puzzled." I just… I am imagining Voldermort and his minions standing in the Ministry waiting for Harry to arrive. It's just…. They won't even know that we have one upped them till morning. And those mad people will kill each other to pass the time. Could you imagine them playing exploding snap to pass the time…." Ron broke into guffaws. Everyone looked at him as if he went nutters but then Sirius and Harry chuckled making Hermione and Remus smile indulgently.

 

They all sat down on the couch and available chairs enjoying the bit of relaxed silence.

 

"So now that we have to wait for Professor, you can tell about your association with Malfoys? I knew that Mrs. Malfoy was your cousin but this…." Harry broke off , looking at Sirius with a lost expression.

 

Sirius nodded in agreement and cleared his throat starting his narration." I should not tell you some bits but you will know them eventually. When I escaped Hogwarts in your third year I came here ,my home for years- which didn't particularly have good memories but it was guaranteed to protect me and keep me safe- for practical reasons. The wards are one of the strongest ever observed. So I rushed here running for my life. The wards recognised me and the urgency with which I was seeking asylum. I was readily granted access."

 

"But you should know this about the magical world ,magic seeps into the very core of the earth that we walk and the magic recognises our intents, needs and purposes, the Purebloods recognised this early on and made it concede to their will by not violating the magic itself, not twisting it. So when I was a teenager I was disowned from the Black family,my name struck down from the tapestry. The magic recognised the authority of my mother at that time and thus the magic deemed me unworthy to hold the title of Black and would not grant me the same rights other Blacks have. At time of emergency the wards allowed me in but with passing days when the situation was no longer dire I felt suffocating in this house…"

 

"This house is sentient?!" Hermione squeaked in alarm looking around the room as if it will open its mouth and spit acid.

 

"No... it's not like it's is going to attack you, not now atleast or maybe. So as I was recounting, I realised that I could not stay here without the permission of the keeper of this house." Sirius said but a look of uncertainty passed over his face.

 

" But Professor Dumbledore is the secret keeper of this house." Harry said  with a questioning lilt. He didn't understand what was Sirius on about,they had asked how Narcissa Malfoy came into contact with him and he was explaining  whole history of the house.

 

Sirius sighed but answered promptly." Yes he is the secret keeper but by keeper I mean that the one my mother appointed to take care of the house, you can say they are guardian...or hier which this house recognises. Narcissa was the best choice according to my mother. She came here after Mother's death once every year to keep the magic in control or it would have turned hostile and the house would have locked down. Dumbledore was chosen but the magic of this house recognised the authority of Narcissa through blood."

 

"So even Bellatrix can barge in here?" Hermione asked with a hint of fear. Harry thought it a formidable possibility which made him suddenly look around warily.

 

"No she cannot. Narcissa told me that she  limited access to this house to a select few. She can do so as the mistress of this house. So since this house recognises her magic I had to call her for help. It was a coincidence or fate but before I could contact her she herself came here, probably following her yearly duty. As I told you magic recognises intent and when she granted me permission to stay here I could."

 

"After that we had a full discussion why I could stay here and to what limit. She was looking for a way to escape from Malfoy Manor but magic of marriage and family is equally strong so she looked for manuevers around the magic. She recognised that it would take time and all this time I was in contact with her,she knew who was coming and going in this house but she didn't protest. Believe me if no one is happy with Voldermort's return you can definitely count Narcissa. So yeah she came suddenly in the afternoon as she was terrified that Lucius was going to do something really bad and now that we know what it is it is better that she came here. This ensured a safe passage for you also."

 

" And what about Malfoy? Both of them, could we trust them not to give this location away? " Harry asked. How could he believe that the people who had always been on the other side of spectrum his life had been would be amiable all of a sudden. These heavy words, magic,it's intent , authority- Harry had no idea such things happened till now. He regretted for one more reason not being raised in the wizarding world. It seemed normal for others who grew up here but he felt everytime like an outsider when these issues came up.

 

"Yes Harry we can. When Mrs. Malfoy came here I could sense her desperation and fear, she did not seem like acting. The look that I always had,of seeking a safe asylum-the desperation, restlessness, fragile hope and the fear that time will fly away and you will be stranded-I recognised it on her face. You may judge her but don't take any action without being aware of what she and Draco went through." Remus spoke, surprising everyone.

 

" But why would they leave Lucius Malfoy? He can protect his family. He is her husband and Ferret's father." Ron shook his head in exasperation.

 

" You will not mention it nor ask them for further details," Sirius spoke in a somber tone," Lucius is not a good man. Narcissa married him for her parents but she never truly wanted to marry. And Lucius had recognised it or it was that he became a death eater and hence prone to violence but he didn't do more than provide a roof over their head and that is me putting it mildly. I won't  say more on the matter seeing that it's not my place to speak." 

 

" So Narcissa Malfoy is in a way doing a favour on all of us by letting us stay here. This is technically her house, she is the owner. She can decide who comes and goes. Well, let's hope that shit doesn't hit the fan." Ron spoke with a hint of disbelief and amusement. Harry smiled briefly but soon the smile dispelled as he thought that the Malfoys were doing a favour on them and they could ask anything in return.

 

Harry was broken out of his thoughts by the sound of floo.

 

***************

 

Draco looked at the pinewood flooring as his mother walked on beside him in comfortable silence. He was feeling a wave of mental tiredness and just wanted to sleep till all the worries disappeared. 

 

"Draco," His mother whispered turning to him in front of a door." I sent you a letter,I wish to see it."

 

Draco looked at her puzzled but squared his jaw realising what was happening. His reached in his pocket and took out the parchment.

 

Narcissa took the letter at the same time Draco started speaking,

 

"My beloved son,

 I hope that your exams have gone well and if not then also you need not worry so much. You have always invested blind devotion  in studies but as I always advice don't take too much stress.

 How are your friends doing? Hope you have not been highly irritated by Blaise's mother hen nature and Pansy has not knocked him out yet. Theodore is taking care of himself? You have talked to him about what you wanted to say? 

 I am writing this letter to you to inform you of the changed circumstances and I assure you I am well.  The trip has been preponed and I have reached my destination earlier than anticipated. Once again I assure you I am well. Do not strain yourself.

 Since you are scheduled to arrive tomorrow and still have time I sent the eagle feathered quill that you have so desired. Try it out and remember this is the present I had promised you specially when you would complete your OWLs.

 Reach home safely and I shall be there to receive you.

 Your Mother"

 

 Draco had read it twice but he remembers the words from heart as they were his brief flicker of hope turning into a full fledged flame.

 

 Narcissa looked at him with pursed lips declaring with grim tone. "I checked the letter. I don't think anyone has intercepted it." His mother was always good in non verbal spells,a quality she had inculcated in him.

 

Her magic so subtle that you could not recognise till it was revealed itself. That's why she had created the portkey herself so that the magic in it could not be detected.  They were protected from Umbridge's watchful eyes but even she didn't go so far to remove the heavy magic detection spell on incomings of Hogwarts.

 

" But you know I would have checked for it , right, I am not that naive now." Draco had a hint of childish whining in his voice, trying to lighten the situation.

 

" I checked even you with spells. You know the position of here could not be compromised. There may be spies in Hogwarts mapping your every step. I suspect it won't be soon before  one of your housemates is initiated to be a death eater. Your father remains quite updated of everything in your life You are aware how your father is with…" her speech is broken by Draco turning his face away.


Narcissa rubs his shoulder in a bid to provide comfort." You do know that he is still your father and will always be. He is a part of your life,he helped in shaping who you are even if indirectly. You cannot run away from this part of your life,all you can do is make peace with it. Talk to me or your friends or however you want to project your feelings. Don't let the hurt and anger lurk in your heart,it will just poison you and manifest in ways you cannot imagine. Your magic recognises  your emotions and it would warp itself to give you comfort so you have to help yourself and remember that I would be always be there whenever you need me."

 

" But how could I mum? How do I make peace with the memories that haunt me? The horror that we have lived for years. It cannot be erased. I try to divert my mind and I think only ignoring will help ,I can't sit and analyze the why and how and be done with it. The man has abused us for years ,I couldn't do anything while he hit you and let me watch." Draco was feeling a whirlwind of emotions but quietened his mind forcefully.

 

"You remember when I whimpered instead of applauding his treatment of yours, how he had behaved? He told me to not feel the weak emotions. I am weak just because I cried seeing my mother getting hit? Which three year old won't react instinctively and supress it like his father wants him to? I can't just dwell in the memories now, now that I am free of him I don't ever want to think about him. I know emotions affect magic but I have categorised my emotions. Occulmency and legilimency, you have taught me that yourself, and I am only utilising them. I just cannot go on the road again where there is only hurt,pain and tears. I just cannot…" Halfway through Draco's eyes blur and he starts gasping and sobbing think of the cold environment of Malfoy Manor. 

 

Narcissa holds his hands tightly in hers and enters the room designated to Draco. She makes him sit on the bed and palming his cheeks swipes a tear travelling down his pale cheek. She speaks carefully, stressing every word," I know that you have gone through the trauma. But you cannot live like this my child. One day it all will explode and you won't recognise yourself. I don't want this to happen to you. And are you not doing as he bid by hiding your feelings? I am not suggesting that you pick up a fight with him in near future or sulk and grouse here if you don't want to. Just don't belittle your feelings, they are what make you you. "


"You feel other people's hurt, you worry for them as you learnt to worry for me. Where did that come from? Your experiences make you more knowledgeable and conscious person. Not acknowledging this part of your life would leave you bereft of your real personality. I am not telling you to keep on thinking about them but just share your feelings when you want to. You don't have to do this alone. I am here and there are other people for you, people who care for you. Remember that. " Narcissa gave him an understanding look.

"Remember that Lucius was not the only person who made you what you are. Remember that you are not just what you had been in his shadow, you are a person who cares and loves his mother to moon and back which I am grateful for for every moment of my life, remember that you are Pansy's friend who keeps her in line so that she doesn't get scolded later for murdering someone , you are Blaise's complaint box who hears  his every minimal complaint and commiserates on them, you are Theodore's shoulder to cry on, you are his pillar of strength just like you are mine. And you could be so much more when you accept yourself and your past. My child you are precious to so many people that I couldn't have been prouder to have a son like you." Narcissa looked at him with a warmth in her eyes only a loved one can express,her soothing words seemed like a balm on Draco's frayed nerves. 

 

Draco knew he had a long way to go to not feel so broken and his mother might be suggesting the right way to make him understand how he should go about it.

 

Draco jerked hearing the noise of floo chiming and looked at Narcissa puzzled with a hint of fear wondering if Lucius Malfoy has found some way to reach his wife and son.

 

*****************************

 

Harry first  noticed the white snow like beard of Professor Dumbledore as he stepped out of the floo. He stood as everyone else followed , surrounding the Professor.

 

" Harry what a pleasant surprise to see you here. Mr. Weasley,Ms. Granger I hope that your OWLs went smoothly." Dumbledore greeted them while he spared only a glance to the elders. The trio nodded looking at him expectantly.

 

He seemed to be checking them for any spells or injuries through his eyes only. He smiled again with that bright twinkle in his eyes. 

 

The Malfoys entered the room in confident strides as neutral expressions masked the tinge of fear from their eyes. They both looked at Dumbledore with a poker face but Malfoy's face revealed a hint of scowl slipping through.

 

" How surprising it is, I tried to enter here but was evaded five times before I was granted access. Tedious work these days on the floos or they might be getting too old." Dumbledore remarked casually chuckling slightly, inviting everyone to partake in the joke though what it was no one knew. 

 

Sirius and Narcissa Malfoy exchanged a split second glance with a hint of awe, fear and trepidation mixed in their shared eye contact. Harry looked at them stumped, this was his first glimpse of how the Black siblings behaved and he felt perplexed seeing his godfather who he could not even imagine as a teenager act like a sibling in just a shared gaze. Narcissa looked at Sirius who had again turned to her, looking like cat got the cream while Narcissa looked like cat got her tongue.

 

Now everyone was staring at the pair with unabashed curiosity. Narcissa Malfoy cleared her throat commenting ominously" The house is quite receptive to  magic."

 

Sirius guffawed ,teasing her " Oh come on don't behave like you just didn't do the most unusual thing. You accidentally blocked access to Dumbledore from entering the house."

 

" Careful there brother or the house might see you floating upside down in no time." Narcissa Malfoy smiled minutely,a spark in her eyes for a second but her mouth then tightened imperceptibly.

 

Harry looked at Malfoy who was looking at his relatives with an air of amusement but soon his eyes also took a faraway look with a wistful expression before it all shuttered down. Harry was  thought that Umbridge in prison would come sooner than him understanding the Malfoys' emotions.

 

" Well leave it at that. I got the message and I think that we should not go on fighting them just now. I have sent a message to the Ministry but they may take time seeing that they are busy elsewhere. It is not advisable that we go in battle without any strategies. It may prove more of a loss than an upper hand." Dumbledore looked at everyone in the eyes while his grave voice resounded in the room. 

 

Harry again wished just giving up this life and settling in a bizzare forest with no one to disturb. Think of that he can take up residence in Forbidden forest but no,it would be too near the scene of crime….errr action, well seeing that something happens each year the former name-calling is accurate.


" But we can have an element of surprise. They know that Harry is coming but not who else will accompany him." Remus adviced, appearing that he was calculating every consequence in his mind. Harry felt a rush of gratitude for Remus, he just wanted this business with Voldermort to end swiftly but everyone seemed to carry a sense of patience now. It was better that they had Dumbledore now who was the most powerful wizard Harry had ever known, they could easily defeat Voldermort and his band of death eaters.

 

" We may have the element of surprise but if Voldermort has planned this he must have planned an escape route, devices to know when Harry is coming, with whom. Taking Harry there would be risky and going there without him will alert him and he will escape. We cannot go there. I know we are all gearing for a fight but we should be thankful for the time and prepare ourselves in that time." Dumbledore substantiated his point of reasoning.

 

Everyone nodded with a look of relief passing over their faces that they won't have to fight today and loose someone.

 

" Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, Ms. Granger you all should be ready tomorrow and reach Kingsway Cross at the same time Hogwarts Express arrives there. It would not do well to have suspicion about your absence. You can go from there with your relatives." Dumbledore took a rusted key out of his robes, holding it out to them," This will help you reach there on time."

 

Harry felt a shiver of fear run down his spine. He had just met his godfather after months, after almost thinking that he lost him and now Professor Dumbledore wants him to go back to his relatives as if nothing happened. He was reassured that Sirius is fine but what happens if any other vision plagues his consciousness? He would be hysteric to know that now there will be more people on Voldermort's target list and they would be all vulnerable to his attack just by their association to Harry. Harry,who will have no way to know if everyone he cares about is safe when he would be trapped in that nightmare of a house.

 

Harry looks to Remus and Sirius who return his look helplessly. Harry feels something break inside him,he didn't want to go to that house,to the people who are named his relatives and are only for name sake.

 

He is broken out of his rumination by Sirius's blunt tone and the words registered only when Sirius repeats them for Dumbledore who looks dumbfounded.

 

" Harry will stay here." Remus and Sirius have a look of stubborn defiance on their faces. Ron and Hermione look like proud parents of Sirius and Remus while the Malfoys are sporting a neutrally disinterested look.

 

" You have to realise and remember that Harry has to go there due to the blood wards. He would be most secured in that location. The wards won't allow any foe near him. And if Harry fails to mark his presence in that house the wards will collapse without his magic to harness them. The wards require both his presence of magic and the blood relation that flows through him and his aunt." Dumbledore's tone seems like a light chastisement,a teacher who seems disappointed in his pupils.

 

Harry feels gloom spread through him hearing Dumbledore but surprisingly Remus counters Dumbledore.

 

"Well we earlier had an enlightening discussion about Grimmuald Place. And you would be glad to know that the wards here are one of the most powerful wards in wizarding society accounting to this being an ancestral home. So Harry can stay here,he will be safe and protected and above that his welfare would be ensured here."

 

Hermione looked awed by Remus's speech and Harry was feeling the same. Sirius looked like he would crush him into a bear hug.

 

" Yes but blood wards would leave out any discrepancy that may happen here and put Harry's life in peril. You have spent many years  in wizarding world, surely you recognise the importance of blood wards that is so pressed upon." Dumbledore was rationalising this from his own tangent, behaving like a neutral party who did not take into account the feelings but only facts and the most favourable outcome.

 

Harry felt a bout of irritation for the man he had always admired. He looked at others praying that Remus and Sirius would convince Dumbledore. He had been dumped with the Dursleys when he was a mere babe and had no choice for a shelter but now that he had a better alternative he would choose it.

 

"I want to stay here. I am cut out from the wizarding world whenever I am in Surrey. In times like this I don't think it to be suitable to stay there. What if I take a rash decision again or what if dementors come after me again, I will be in trouble with ministry again." Harry pleaded,he was not above begging if he could stay with Sirius and Remus.

 

"If I may," before Dumbledore could reply Narcissa Malfoy cut off in a clear tone. Harry would have found the open mouthed reaction of Dumbledore amusing if not for the steel in Narcissa Malfoy's voice." If it is about blood wards then I have a ritual in mind that would connect Mr. Potter here to the wards and would be more effective and efficient in guarding him, among the people who know of the danger that this time presents. So if you Mr. Potter decide to go with it we can perform the ritual." 

 

Harry would have clapped for her if he could react. He was still processing what was just said, Narcissa Malfoy had not only countered Dumbledore but also given an opposed view which was in agreement with Harry's feelings. She also had outright taken the authority to decide for Harry and handed him the opportunity for once to decide for himself. He had taken a stand for himself but he felt a warm feeling seeing a lady he had thought of as scornful only now supporting him.

 

The implications of blood magic were unknown to him but he was sure if any adverse effect was there then Sirius and Remus would reject the offer outright. And seeing that even Professor Dumbledore was not objecting it didn't seem to be a bad idea and on contrary it seemed the most accessible solutions where everyone's worry would be negated.

 

"Mother," Malfoy's scandalized voice brought him out of his speculation. Harry saw Malfoy's brief moment of vulnerability and fear that he was projecting in his whole body language which had gone straight and rigid, he felt an uncomfortable twinge of sympathy." You cannot," Malfoy's voice broke upon the word.

 

Narcissa Malfoy gave him a look and Malfoy deflated like a balloon,he seemed defeated. Harry came to a realisation that he knew from start but acknowledged now and pledged to himself to act accordingly.' Malfoy is also human. He also has his moments of vulnerability, he can be broken. He has a family, friends who care for him and he loves them in return. I never knew his side and the reason behind his actions. I should give him a chance. I would promise to forget all his past torments if he doesn't behave like his former self.'

 

*********************************

 

Draco looked at his mother , pleading her with his eyes not to do this. She gazed back, a silent command to not speak anything, that she will be fine. He had been subject to this stare for years when Lucius would spout ill about the world and gear to hit one of them but his mother always used to intercept his father and take the blows directed towards him. Though he was not forgiven and got vicious beating whenever this happened. But his mother would always look at him with resolve shining through, that she would not break, Lucius could not break her and this is temporary which will soon come to pass.

 

Draco had admired his mother for her sheer determination and resolve to never back down despite going through all that she went through.

 

But now they had free will,they could choose for themselves so why would his mother deliberately put herself in harm's way, Draco had an inkling,he knew his mother is aware of everything around her and could see through the veil people like to shield themselves behind.

 

He knew his mother was empathetic to Potter's treatment at his home. Even she could notice the despondence that crossed his face when Dumbledore asked him to return to his relatives. Then why Dumbledore could not observe it or chose to ignore it was anyone's guess.

 

Draco knew the basics of blood magic and was well aware of what it entails and it's consequences. He felt a stab of irritation towards Potter but suppressed it convincing himself that it doesn't matter as Potter is unaware of what his mother is proposing and Draco is not going to advertise his emotions towards the Boy-who-was-willfully-oblivious.


Blood magic would leave her drained of energy for days. It was no child's play, it would require a strong conviction on the part of the performer. If it would have been a relative and she was performing a duty to them like inheritance or marriage or magic rejuvenation it would not have been that dire like when a stranger is involved. 

 

Narcissa would have magical drain for days beside feeling the presence of Potter wherever in the house he would be atleast for some time till her magic rejuvenates. This recognition of his presence would be like a ticking clock,a pricking pin ever present in the back of her mind for days to come. Draco didn't want his mother to experience discomfort after everything that has happened already but he knew he could only ask her to not do the ritual and it will be her choice that would matter.

 

He understood that his mother could see a glimpse of herself and her son in Potter who was trapped behind the burdens placed on them. A person who felt suffocating in the present situation but could do nothing to change it except bear it. 

 

Potter nods and everyone looks on silently in agreement. No one protests not even Dumbledore or Granger to ask her interfering questions. Draco steels himself to the consequences and the state his mother would be in,a state like she was sometimes when she was gravely injured at times and bed ridden with no aid and magic to heal her. 

 

He had hoped after reaching here that he would not counter such scenario again yet his mother would be again hurt with him standing in the background helplessly. He figured he should be atleast grateful that this time there was no Lucius to harm her but it was of her own free will for a  cause she considers worthy.

 

Narcissa nods solemnly and moves towards Potter squaring her shoulders,her straight posture gaining an illustration of a soldier going to battlefield to protect their country. 

 

Draco saw his mother extend her right hand towards Potter's who clasped hers with his left hand. Draco was in a daze as he saw his mother speaking wordlessly,her lips moving in imitation of words but no sound came out.

 

Narcissa took out her wand waving it in the space between herself and Potter in a vertical line and repeating the motion again tracing the line halfway through and then one point spreading towards him and another towards herself in a wave.' Protection rune' Draco thought the rune to be a rendition of the rune taught in Runes in Hogwarts, it resembled a tree like shape where the lower part is pointed to the person who would take up the responsibility of protection of other.

 

Narcissa again moved her wand in a straight line , this time a golden spark appearing in the air,at one extreme point of the line she crossed in her direction and other point a small line towards Potter. The golden rune shimmered then parted into two images submerging once it came into contact with both the parties involved. ' Defense rune' Draco had read about it in the library when father was out during the summer before fourth year. It enabled one to erect wards to protect from foes.

 

His heart sped up as he realised what was coming. He felt nausea crept up his throat as he observed his mother make a clean cut in centre of her palm,her red blood gushing out leaving him  appalled. Mother did the same to Potter's right hand palm who barely flinched and then connected their bleeding palms, her blood mixing with his recognising the need of the magic called upon. Their hands formed a cross. Their both hands-,which were holding each other's-glowed silver then changed to luminous red and then vanished with a circle of red forming around their wrists and vanishing into their skins.

 

Draco moved forward without any prompting ready to hold his mother all the while keeping his eyes away from the blood that reminded him of years of torment,hurt, injuries and torture. 

 

He was relieved to see that his mother had not turned unconscious but merely swayed on her feet once and then righted her balance. But his relief vanished in thin air seeing her pale face and bloodless lips,she looked parched with her energy drained out of her. He knew his mother had recited some ancient spells that he would get to know when he inherits his title as a Malfoy -which seemed a bleak possibility now- the centuries old spells that transformed the nature of the  runes.

 

"Let me help." Sirius moved to hold Narcissa but Draco just gazed back at him and then at his godson signalling that he should be taking care of Potter who was being fussed upon by others except Dumbledore who stood in a corner with victory shining through his eyes. Draco would have felt miffed but his priorities were different.

 

Draco encircled his mother shoulders with an arm and walked with her to where she directed him to her room. He could feel slight tremors pass through her now fragile body, acclimatizing to the feel of the presence of someone else in her mind in  every waking moment. He wanted to feel anger and irritation towards others but just felt a bone deep weariness.

 

" He is just a boy, Draco, just like you." His mother spoke softly. Draco hummed not ready to comment. 

 

" If it had been anyone else I would have done the same. I would want someone to do the same for my son." Draco hummed again and wrinkled his nose smelling the coppery odour of blood that was still steadily flowing from her hand. 

 

"You should rest. I don't need to be convinced why you took such actions." Draco reached her room and entered , heading for her bed. He took out his wand after ensuring his mother had laid down comfortably and covered by duvet.

 

"Episkey," Draco spoke swiftly,years of experience healing injuries and bruises entrancing him to see this as a mechanical task without pondering on the thoughts milling through his head. He summoned a salve which he knew his mother always keeps in vicinity,a habit developed due to years of being prone to battery and violence by her spouse.

 

He rubbed the cream on her palm focusing solely on the task." Draco," his mother implores making him look at her alarmingly. He is met with tears shining through her eyes and realises the wetness on his cheeks and the harsh gasps he is taking to supress his sobs." That's why I wish for you to talk. So that you are done with that phase of your life and not let every thing remind you of what you and I have endured. Take it all out to bury it once and for all." 

 

" I will,Mother." Draco wipes his tears, giving her a tired smile which seems more like a grimace. His mother smiles nonetheless expressing fondly," My sweet boy."

 

Draco gets up and smooths the duvet over her beseeching her to rest to which she nods tiredly. Her words before he leaves the room are," He is strong in magic. I don't feel much drain."

 

***********************

 

Harry looks at his healed palm with a silver scar in middle. He had felt the complete force of Narcissa Malfoy's magic which had touched his core like a caress and then retreated subtly. He didn't feel any change in his body or magic and questioned if it even worked.

 

" It worked Harry. Don't worry. Now no one can find you, you are secured." Remus assured him with a comforting smile. Sirius smiled brightly at him which Harry felt like returning.

 

Dumbledore stepped forward announcing " I think your safety here is ensured. I am glad for you Harry, now no one would be able to trace you. The wards will ensure that any threat directed towards you is destroyed before even reaching you. Sirius I am glad that you have alliances with such knowledgeable and devoted people."

 

" I am not in alliance with you." Malfoy spoke loudly with a vicious twist to this mouth. No one had even noticed him entering and it seemed like he appeared out of thin air." Mother might have helped Potter but it was because she wanted to help him. Neither I nor she would work for your cause and entangle ourselves in your elaborate game. You may be the leader of the light side but you are not going to order me or my mother around or manipulate our choices. You better keep your politics to those who grovel to you."

 

Dumbledore broke the stunned silence with his patient words." I would never ask for you to carry out an action on my provocation. It is wholly your will which must guide you though I might try to persuade you and your mother as a valuable alliance would not harm us." 

 

Harry felt Malfoy's fist tighten when his mother was mentioned and he felt Malfoy reign in his anger by willpower alone. His flared nostrils, deathly glare gave way to a stone cold face and he stormed out of the room without any further action or gesture.' Never ever bring Malfoy's mother in a fight or you will surely come out worse than a pulp.' Harry made a mental note to himself.

 

Dumbledore nodded to everyone and departed wishing good evening to everyone.

 

****************************************

 

Draco had finished setting up his wardrobe after staring at his room dumbfounded for few minutes. Earlier he had not noticed the room due to high running emotions but once he saw it he was stunned.He would discuss that with his mother later.

 

He had just taken out his magical journal intending to communicate with his friends and reassure them that he was alright and there was no need to worry. He hoped that no one got the wind that he was not in Hogwarts till tomorrow so that his friends can avoid the inquires directed towards them.

 

He jerked hearing a piercing scream. ' Potter?!' Draco stood up and ran out of his room towards the source of the scream.

 

He reached an open door with Sirius and Remus looking horrified at a convulsing Potter in bed who was being shaken viciously by Weasley and Granger. Potter was hoarsely screaming but not opening his eyes while his limbs jerked as if he was being crucioed.


Remus moved towards Potter patting his cheeks but to no avail. Draco felt his mother's presence behind me and wanted to shield her away from such a gruesome view. His mother who had just tried to protect Potter,who knew how she would react to seeing that boy convulsing with tremors.


Draco looked at the growing dismay and terror on the faces before him as Potter didn't seem like waking up any time soon. Lupin moved hesitantly and checked Potter's forehead while Sirius and Weasley held his limbs to the mattress so that he doesn't hit his head or limbs.

 

Remus lifts one of the eyelids covering  Potter's eyes to inspect his condition. He backs away hastily, Draco himself would have done same if he had seen red instead of the normal vibrant green of Potter's  iris.



Chapter Text

Draco does not know what to do. One moment he is standing and at another, he is holding his hand out to stop his mother from moving forward. His exhausted mother, whose face is set with determination to help despite her exhausted magical energy.

 

Draco knows he could not let his mother rescue Potter-again. But his mother would not see the Wonder Boy writhing in pain so Draco has to do something. He looks at his mother with a grave expression, his mother stepped back seeing him looking so firm.

 

Draco moves forward ignoring the worried faces of Potter's friends around him."Step Back." Everyone looks at him puzzled but are ready to give him a chance for their saviour.

 

Draco crouches down, keeping a hand on Potter's thrashing shoulder. He takes a deep breath and flourishes out his wand. Weasley's alarmed cry is hushed by Lupin's silent assurance. "Legilimens," Draco is unsure if it would work but it does when Draco could feel chilling darkness dragging him down. He closes his eyes and mutters the spell for occulmency to shield the mind he entered into.

 

His mother has taught him mind magic for years, to protect from Lucius. Draco knew his mother was gearing up to do something along these lines for Potter. Draco was sure that neither Sirius, Lupin nor Granger or Weasley were skilled in legilimency and occulmency.

 

Potter's writing and thrashing stop gradually as Draco familiarises with the presence in his mind, Potter's presence. 

 

Draco had never seen such an effect on someone of mind magic. Potter's red eyes coincided with the description his father had given in his awed voice once. Draco still remembers the disgust he felt with his father's unbridled devotion for such a creature. He feels a sense of foreboding seeing his eyes gazing at everyone through Potter's. 

 

Draco does not let himself think of what he did just now, saving Potter's life-it did seem like he was dying-that was taking this too far too early. He had just wanted a safe place where no one's life would be at stake but guess he accepted it unconsciously or he would not have acted so quickly. 

 

Draco heard and felt a relieved sigh from the oblivious boy who was being placed on the mattress by Sirius. 

"Mother," Draco takes her hand as she sways slightly. Everyone turns towards them, Draco could feel their gratitude bursting to pour out but he didn't do it for them, he did it because his mother would have done it…. because he could not see the hope of the wizarding world losing his sanity unconsciously, a traitorous voice ringed in his head.

 

"Malfoy, thank you for what you did," Granger was the one to speak. Draco did not even feel like chiding them for dealing with dangers all these years and not learning such important skill. He jerked his head and moved out with his mother.

 

####################################

 

Harry felt the darkness and pain misting away in a different kind of darkness. The former darkness was heavy, suffocating but the latter gave him a sense of peace, a cool gust of wind on his heated skin.

 

The former darkness seemed like he was trapped in the cupboard under the stairs while the latter was the darkness he saw from the windows of his dorm, an assurance that sun will rise again and banish the darkness.

 

Harry breathed a sigh of relief, his lips turning into a small smile. He could not notice the unease slipping away from his friends' faces.

 

In another side of the wizarding world, a dark robe-clad figure fell on his knees. His mouth opening in a silent scream while his mind seemed on the verge of explosion. The figures around him scattered away but cautiously a few of them came near to him. 

 

A masculine figure with a mask hitched on tried to assist him in standing but received a tight slap for his tomfoolery. A wisp of blond hair fell out of the mask but the figure neither flinched nor reacted outward. Just stepped back, like a slab of ice craved into a human.

 

####################################



"Draco," Sirius knocked and entered Narcissa's room with Lupin in tow. Draco keeps the water glass down and sits beside his mother.

 

"You know we are really grateful for what you did today. All of it." Sirius tells him while Lupin is nodding alongside.

 

" Thank you so much for what you did today." Lupin gave him a grateful look.

 

Draco looks at them both carefully." You do realise I am not an ignorant teenager?". Sirius and Remus are looking at him puzzled.

 

"What happened there? What connection does Potter have with the Dark Lord?"Draco could feel the hitched breaths of the men standing in front of him.

 

"My... father is a devotee of that scum. Don't you think he might have gushed over him sometime?" Draco puts as much venom he could in his tone. His father might not have blushed and giggled like a sappy person but Draco had noticed the reverence in his eyes whenever he talked about the Dark Lord.

 

' Voldermort.He is Voldermort. Not any dark lord. Not my lord.' Draco chides himself for not being able to call the creature with his name.

 

Sirius and Remus looked at him with a sense of dread.

 

" His eyes are red. And Potter's eyes were red just now. He might be an excellent legilimens and occulmens but he could not cross a family ward just like that. So I ask you again, what connection does Potter have with… the dark lord?" 'COWARD !' His traitorous mind threw at him with a sneer sounding in his mind.

 

" We don't know. Now that you point it out I can see it. But I don't know what it means." Sirius was starting to freak out. Lupin rubbed his back to calm him but to no avail.

 

"What does it even mean? Voldermort could enter Harry's mind anytime,  anywhere? He has such a stronghold on Harry's mind. Could it be that that night created some connection between them?"Lupin shared his fears and frustrations but in a controlled manner.

 

Draco looked at the candelabra in the far corner of the room. Green stones shone brightly in the dim light of the candle. ' Green, like Potter's eyes. Potter's eyes were red. Just like... Voldermort's. Why? How?'

 

"We have to find it out. Maybe Dumbledore knows. He knows everything, doesn't he? He would surely know about this also!" Sirius asserted in a reassuring voice which didn't seem to work for long.

 

"Sirius," Lupin holds him by the shoulder and shakes him softly." It is just speculation. Don't be hysterical. We will ask Dumbledore. Till then you need to calm down." Sirius nods tiredly, worry lines still making his face gaunt.

 

Draco looks at him. He knew that the two men are friends from years but Lupin's calming effect left him wondering if there was more. ' Doing it again. Diverting thoughts to not think about serious issues.'

 

"I think we all need rest. You should go to bed and we will see what tomorrow morning brings." His mother whispered in the ensuing silence. Draco nodded to her and went back to his room.

 

#############################

 

Draco looks at his abandoned journal. There was a scribble in Pansy's loopy curly handwriting.' Draco, Is everything safe? The situation is stable here. No one has any doubt.'

 

Draco caresses the words smiling softly if anyone knows that  Pansy is capable of real worry and sympathy then that is her close circle. Otherwise, she is such an a-hole to everyone. He picks his white feathered quill and replies.

 

'Some things have happened. I am safe but certainly not happy with the ongoings. Your discreet is appreciated. Now go to sleep!'

 

Draco receives a reply in Blaise's messy handwriting.' Now that his majesty has commanded we shall sleep.' 

 

Draco could clearly imagine Pansy's giggle on Blaise pointing this out while Blaise would be smugly smirking. Theodore would just give his small smile but it will soften his stress lines.

 

Draco thinks of his friends and prays that the hard times to come would not leave them vulnerable. He would ensure that his friends are safe but his status may forfeit their fate. 

 

His father would surely disown him and then the heirs in Slytherin would treat him like scum beneath their shoes. If he was to ensure that his friends are not harmed he will have to convince his friends to maintain distance in the upcoming year. But he pledges to think of it when the time actually comes. Now, they need each other. 

 

Draco shakes his head and hopes that his father was not with Voldermort in the ministry. But his logic flashes at him that yes he would be there. Waiting patiently by his lord's side while the boy who lived never falls in their trap.

 

'Look, Father, I did it. Now, where do you stand? Didn't this imbecile son of yours rescue the saviour from under the grasp of your Lord's plans? Now would you appreciate my intelligence? Now at least say that I deserve your anger, your hate.'

 

####################

 Harry wakes up to find dim light filtering through the windows. He looks at Ron's bed and sees Hermione and Ron sitting on the duvet. From their looks, it appears they just woke up or were awake whole night.

 

'They hooked up or do I need tea before thinking?"

 

" Harry," Hermione notices him and her expression brightens considerably. 'Not hooked up maybe. Doesn't seem like they had a nice time. Blergh, what am I thinking!'

 

"Good morning," Harry's voice submerges with a yawn breaking its way to the surface. He looks at his two friends who are staring (scrutinizing)at him more than normal.

 

"You ought to brush," Ron speaks making a disgusted face. Harry let's go the matter to ask them what was wrong but seeing their tired but content faces he moves towards the bathroom.

 

He fails to notice the look exchanged between his two friends.

 

'Great! Have a gigantic house but can't have an in-suite with it. I even forgot to wear slippers. Cold feet in morning is not a good way to wake up! I should be thankful that this house is still standing. Arr! But the family magic ensures it! Make a complex branch of magic.'

 

Harry reaches the bathroom and enters inside.' Oh, the luggage is here. Good that I got my toothbrush here only. Seems like they needed a moment alone.'

 

Harry brushes his teeth while trying to remember what he dreamt to pass his time.' One of those days. Or maybe Voldermort could not reach me behind these blood wards….Sure, Mrs Malfoy looked sickeningly pale, I hope she has not taken that much of a toll. Malfoy would kill me if anything happens to his mother, only person around whom I saw him being soft. What am I thinking? Something is seriously wrong with me. But better than yesterday.'

 

Harry washes his mouth and after freshening up steps out of the bathroom and straight in a white-creamy blur.

 

'Well, shit!' Harry's first thought is this as he sees Malfoy back swiftly away before their bodies could even collide fully.' Malfoy is wearing a jumper. A creamy fluffy jumper! What has happened to this world today? The stoic Slytherin looks small in this. And tired. Those dark circles can't be healthy.'

 

"Potter have you taken it upon yourself in the morning to destroy my day?!" Harry would like to say that Malfoy screamed down upon him but he was deathly calm. Then why did Harry feel that he was thundering? It seems like the blonde's voice was echoing in his head, a mixture of anger, frustration, annoyance and a bit of tiredness.

 

Harry kept on looking at the Slytherin who rolled his eyes and moved forward.' Should come with a warning. He is himself in a sulky mood and blaming me.'

 

######################

 

Draco sits on the chair beside his mother. His mother looks rested and the tension in her shoulders is less than yesterday.

 

The smell of eggs, bacon and pancakes makes his stomach growl. He was not able to sleep properly last night as a presence in his mind made him hyper-aware of his consciousness. He could feel the person breathing and the feeling accounted for his uncomfortable sleep.

 

Now, he was fatigued as the spell was prolonged. He could feel Potter pattering about in his head. He decided to find an opportune moment and end the spell. Having the

boy-who-crashed-people-and-destroys-their-morning in his head was not a comfortable notion.

 

He heard footsteps and felt Potter's presence spike in his mind. His mother gave him a side glance but spoke nothing.

 

"Morning," Weasley wishes the Malfoys with an awkward smile. Draco could feel Potter's astonishment.

 

"Good morning, "Narcissa smiles lightly signalling them to sit. Sirius and Lupin enter together and both look tired.

 

'Seems like only Potter had a good night's sleep. Everyone is dead on their feet.' 

 

Kreacher brings the food to the table and bows deeply to his mother and then Draco. Surprisingly, he doesn't say a word and moves to where he came from.

 

"I am feeling ravenous," Potter exclaims turning his plate upside down. He moves to take pancakes with such eagerness that Draco feels like smiling and weirding out at the same time but controls himself.' Such a child.'

 

Everyone piles their plates with the available food."I was thinking that maybe Remus should drop you at the station." Sirius addresses Weasley and Granger solemnly.

 

"No, it is fine. The portkey is arranged so it won't be needed. You should stay here with everyone." Granger assures Lupin. No one refers to last night's incident and Draco is content until he is not.

 

"Harry, meet me and Draco in the study after breakfast." Potter nods but his scrunched eyebrows depict his confusion.

 

Potter makes eye contact with Draco hoping to see same confusion but Draco gives him a blank stare.

 

Draco could feel the flustered Potter trying to divert his mind. His blank stare works really well, though, the victims have only been his juniors or other houses. He had never given Potter the blank stare, he always enticed strong emotions in him, either by force or his incessant behaviour.

 




Chapter Text

' That guy has a death stare. Show some emotions man or at least blink, bloody blink! And now Sirius wants to talk to him and me alone. Maybe warning us to not fight.' Harry thinks as he moves towards his room.


"Even now, I cannot digest that Malfoy is involved in all this." Ron gestures around encompassing everything that is happening.


"Yes, mate. I also find it hard to believe. But can you believe it that I have to spend the whole summer living in the same house as him." Harry grumbles to which Ron grimaces.


"Might be good if you give him a chance. We don't know what all layers behind he have hidden his true self." Ron suggests meekly as he doubts Malfoy could be friendly enough to Harry to show his un-obnoxious self.

" Come on Potter you cannot even stay out of my sight. This house is big enough to hide you or for that matter myself. What have I landed myself into?" Harry tries to mimic Malfoy's posh tone but fails miserably.


"Never ever do that again." Ron chuckles and his guffaws turn into a full-blown laugh.


"I really don't want you to go." Harry almost whines, he would be alone here of Malfoy's age, they would be forced to interact. And Ron and Mione always make him feel better or at least lend an ear when he wants to the complaint.


"Mate, Sirius and Remus are here. Surely they could handle your tantrums," Ron snickers while Harry gives him an accusing look.


"You know what? Go and then I will become chummy with Malfoy. Then, you will be left with shocked."Harry acts dramatically, sniffling and all.


"You are a dramatic piece of shit." Ron glares at him mockingly but Harry smiles wider." On a serious note, I won't mind you being friends with Malfoy. He proved yesterday that he can be good. But it will need time." 


Harry looks at him weirdly."Okay. Didn't expect you to say that."


"We and Malfoy might have been fighting all these years but we need to get over it. I know he won't transform into a good person but a chance is all we can give him. Besides, it will get awkward if you stay in the same house but harbour negative feelings towards him. Let's see how it turns out."Ron speaks in a firm tone. 


Harry tries to find a hint of mirth in his friend's features but Ron is totally serious so he manages a weak "Okay".


################


"What do you want Granger?" Draco asks the frizzy-haired. Sirius, Lupin and his mother went to their respective rooms after having breakfast. Potter and Weasley went to the room they are sharing as Weasley had tumbled his clothes out and needed to repack.


"You are eating like a bird. Surely, I have seen you eat faster." Draco answers to her fake innocent look, not fooling him at all.


"Oh, no. I mean I am waiting for the Daily Prophet. It usually comes during breakfast." Granger reasons but her thinning lips speak otherwise.


"The owl might be unable to discern the location. Don't worry though, it will reach in a few minutes. The wards would allow it to see the location." Draco tells her casually but her eyes spark in excitement.


Draco feels strange. He is here sitting with a girl he has bullied brutally for all the years in Hogwarts. She is talking as if his torment hasn't left her dejected and in tears. 


But Draco sees this as an opportunity to apologise. Surely, he still considers that purebloods are superior to muggle-borns but calling them mudbloods is just not done. This, this will be his first step to a new direction in his life. His effort to move away from his father's upbringing. He can show the world that he could be sensitive to others, to the needs and grievances of others, unlike his cold minded father. However he has to do it for himself. To try to erase the memories of torment and pain which he,himself caused-knowingly and unknowingly while he was experiencing the same or more torment at his home. So he realises that what damage could one's words inflict and a girl like Granger surely did not deserve to be haunted by memories of discrimination. He could not erase the past but he could build the future upon a new foundation. And this is his start.


"Granger, I wish to apologise to you. I am really sorry. I cannot even understand the gravity of harm my words might have done. I think my anger for you stemmed from your excellence in academics despite being an outsider to this world, I mean new to this world."Draco thinks he has said whatever he could. He feels insufficient while communicating feelings to others who don't know him and again what all he wanted to say was left unsaid.


 Maybe it was not sufficient or was too overwhelming because Granger seems emotional.


" Are you going to say something?" Draco asks trying to break her continuous stare on his person.


"I just… never thought that you would apologise… you know….you don't seem like the type. But who am I to judge? I don't even know you properly. It's just that I never thought you would willingly appreciate my intelligence. It is weird. This whole experience is." Granger finishes with an uncomfortable smile.


"I know," Draco supplies just this in reply. He knows his change might seem superficial to others. But the anger, frustration and annoyance had pushed him to insult everyone. Oh, how he had wished that if Potter would refrain himself from acting heroically or Granger would tamp down her showing off intelligence. So that his father does not compare him with others. This provided his sure further ammunition to lash out verbally and even physically.


Draco realises that an owl has entered the room. He looks upwards and sees an owl sweeping through the high windows. 


Granger takes out a galleon while the owl perched, dropping the Daily Prophet on the table. The owl left after Granger offered it a piece of bacon which the owl refused to nibble upon."Professional," Granger smiles wryly.


"'Mione," Weasley entered into the room with Potter in tow. Draco could feel his headache pronouncing but he resisted the urge to massage his temples.


Granger nodded." The newspaper just arrived. Let me see it and then we will talk about whatever you want." Her eyes bulged as she scanned the front page's headline and content.


Weasley looked at her concerned, then he too was engrossed in the article. Potter fidgeted as he could not see the paper without cramping up. He bounced on his feet nervously and made eye contact with Draco. 


' Is he trying to smile at me? If yes, he is failing miserably. Should not even try. How would I handle this awkward kitten around me?' 


Draco looks at him stoically as he doesn't know how to react. Show his despair over being in his company for the summer or try to bridge the gap and at least have a truce?


"Harry, look at this." Potter seems troubled, moving near Weasley."Umbridge resigned from her post. Willingly. She called the Daily Prophet, the members of Wizengamot and even the Quibbler to give an interview for her reason to resign."


"That is a surprise."
"Did she lost her marbles and then found them?"
"Is this real?" 
The golden trio spoke simultaneously looking at each other with wide grins. Draco felt as if he was intruding on a private moment. The wide disbelieving smiles were not an expression he has seen around himself. He felt piercing gazes on him and looked at the trio who were giving him suspicious glances.

"What?" Draco asked calmly. He had a clue why they were looking at him but he was not going to act defensively and give them a hint.

"It was you, wasn't it?" Granger wiggled her eyebrows while Weasley was looking at him shocked though trying to compose himself. And Potter was giving him a weird look while Draco could feel confusion, apprehension,a bit of wonder in the back of his mind where he locked his connection to Potter.

" If you could refrain from talking in riddles I might be well equipped to answer your question." Draco spoke casually but Weasley started snickering. Draco did not frown or grimace but looked at him as if Weasley has personally offended him which he might have.

"What? Just hear yourself out! You talk like some regency period fellow or something, refrain,well equipped... You sure you are a teenager and not some old soul trapped in this body?" Weasley was definitely losing his marbles. But Draco did not feel insulted. Conversly it felt a friendly teasing which was shocking coming from Weasley.

Granger and Potter also noticed the tone and looked at the red head strangely.

"Well we are deviating from the topic at hand. And Weasley this is how most of us talk." Draco did not want to bring attention to the topic again but then they would start talking to him about him and that would be more of a nightmare.

"I understand you would not want to take the credit for all this. But this is such a contrast from your previous behaviour where you bragged about each and everything. But I guess we should start accepting that you can do decent things. You are on our side." Granger spoke sagely.

"I said this yesterday and I am going to say it again. I am not on your side. The circumstances might have made me acquaint with you people but I would be happy to be refrained from dragged into this whole fiasco." Draco did not want to create any expectations others might harbour after what he did. It would only lead to heartbreak and disappointment. And Draco did not want any part of these negative feelings. His father already was spouting Death Eater shit and the glory of war and it's noble agenda ,all the time convinced in the knowledge that Draco would revel in the legacy of his father and take the mantle of being a Death Eater with pride and devotion.

"Okay. We are not going assuming things. Sorry if it hurt you." Weasley was turning out to be the most drastic transformation which was making Draco suspicious.

"Well, thanks anyway Malfoy for whatever you did. It might not mean a lot for you but it has impacted us heavily." Potter was staring at him with gratitude but his confusion was clear in the furrow of his brows.

******

Malfoy is turning towards him but the adults entering the room attract their attention. All eyes fall on the newspaper and Sirius happily takes it away seeing Hermione's nervous glance. 

"Oh," Well Sirius could be more articulate but this is also an acceptable reaction. He turns to Remus showing him the headlines, his face splitting into a huge grin which makes Harry smile.

Remus eyes widen but even he doesn't say a word. Narcissa Malfoy looks at them coolly to which Remus hands her the paper. Her only reaction is a raised brow.

"Well I am expecting you guys did this somehow. But I am not going to question how but you did an awesome job!"Sirius crows happily clapping his hands once. Harry has never seen his Godfather this chipper but guess things are unveiling.

Remus looks at them all and carefully looks at everyone,still not speaking. Harry notices Narcissa's gaze flickering to her son once who stands a bit taller feeling eyes on him.

"You might not believe it but this time it was not us." Ron defends the trio but Sirius' smile is patronising.

"Well we came here as it is time for you two to leave. We have to reach the station before anyone noticing."Remus nods to Hermione and Ron reminding Harry that he won't see his friends for days,but he can send letters but what if he wants to talk about Malfoy urgently,shares his theory or assess his actions and speech. 'Stop thinking about him.'

The bags are sitting innocently at Remus' side while Hermione and Ron exchange hugs with the adult Gryffindors. 

"Be careful."Narcissa Malfoy wishes and warns them.

Harry hugs his friends tightly not wanting to let go. This is all going to be new. He has never stayed with people who truly care about him. His summers had mostly gone labouring outside or trapped in his room like a prisoner. But now he would experience how it feels like staying with people who care,who treat him lovingly. Though there would be also his schoolyar nemesis and his mother staying but it might not be anything compared to Dursleys.

Still Harry is feeling scared fir this new change, atleast his friends would have staved off his negative thoughts. But he can see himself spiralling into a hole with his overthinking. What if Remus and Sirius don't like me after living with me for some days? What if they get angry? What if the Malfoys turn out to be more of a problem than estimated? What if Malfoy turns truly evil? What if Dumbledore changes his mind and demands that Harry go back to Dursleys?

"Harry stop thinking so much, nothing is going to turn out wrong for you.We are just a letter and a floo away." Hermione squeezed his arm giving him a reassuring smile. Harry nodded.

"Bye Harry and we will be waiting for your letters." Ron teases,sure of the fact that there would be loads of letters.

"Let's go now." Remus reminds them and they disappear holding the portkey. Harry looks at the empty space for a numb moment not knowing what to do.

The green eyes flicker with uncertainty for a moment before the Gryffindor decides to take a deep breath.

"Harry,Draco I would like to talk to you now if you don't mind?" Sirius looks at them with his lips thinned and leaves towards the study.

Harry turns to Malfoy who is standing close to his mother with the slender hand of Malfoy matriarch resting on her son's waist. Narcissa looks concerned while the Slytherin is staring at him with a faraway look.

Harry does not know what happened but he can't help the concern bubbling in his chest. Is Malfoy well?

"Sirius wants to talk."Harry supplies lamely and turns to move to the study.

Slow and heavy steps follow behind him as if they are dragging their feet. Harry turns to look at Malfoy who is swaying sideways but still adamant to walk.

"Are you okay?" Harry hovers near him,hands outstretched if need arises to catch the blonde.

"Fine," Malfoy says gruffly but he is still tilting sideways. Harry looks unsure but then touches Malfoy's arm softly. Instead of jerking from his touch Malfoy gravitates towards him prompting Harry to wrap his hand around his arm and they start walking towards the study.

Sirius directs Harry to help Malfoy sit in a high backed chair. Harry is confused as to how Malfoy got unwell so quickly,and even then decided to meet Sirius and above that it seems like even Sirius knows what is going on leaving Harry to contemplate the reasons behind this sudden change.

"Stop thinking" Malfoy whispers though it seems like he wants to snap but cannot gather his wits about him.

"Harry," Sirius interrupts before Harry could reply to the half conscious boy." Something happened last night. You were sleeping and then you suddenly started screaming. We were not able to wake you up. And we think that it was Voldermort controlling your mind again. You were not gaining consciousness and Voldermort seemed to have a strong hold on you. We did not know what to do."

Harry feels dread pooling in his gut at the retelling,he has doubts that Sirius might not be telling the whole story. But apart from this he is scared that Voldermort could enter  Grimmauld Place even after the ritual yesterday. What more could He do if he could pass the wards specially cast for Harry's protection? Would Harry be required to go back to the Dursleys? He does not want to do so. Will Voldermort find him here and everyone will come to harm because of him? Is Malfoy sitting here to threaten him to leave so that no dangers come to him? Or did Malfoy somehow get injured last night due to Harry's incidence and convinced Sirius to send Harry back?

"Potter!" Malfoy's stern voice breaks his train of thought. He looks at Sirius who looks back worriedly and Malfoy who seems equal part irritated and concerned.

"But we got you out of it. It is fine. Everything is fine. Well everything will be fine but we need your help for that. You just have to take out your wand and cast Finite on Draco.Go on do it,I will explain why it is happening." Sirius encourages Harry softly. 

Harry takes out his wands warily and looks at Malfoy who nods tightly and closes his eyes."Finite" Harry's spell has immediate effect on the blonde whose shoulders relax from their tensed stance, his furrowed eyebrows smooth out and he falls back on the chair with a sigh.

"You have got to stop thinking so much." Malfoy says rubbing his temple. Why is Malfoy advising him to stop overthinking. Specially weird is that his voice is not hostile but sympathetic. Why?

"So you might have questions that I am going to answer. Draco,here, came amidst the chaos with an exemplary solution. He cast legilimens on you and then you stilled and fell into a assumably peaceful sleep. But I guess the toll on protecting a mind other than his own finally caught up with Draco which disrupted his balance." Sirius spoke lightly now since Malfoy seemed recovering.

"Err.." Harry tried to articulate himself but could not do so. He was shocked that Malfoy went to such limits to help him despite the danger to his mental well being.

The brunette did not know what to say or if he should say something. He looked at the lounging Slytherin who was reclining casually as if he hadn't helped Harry out of grave danger at cost of his own health. Malfoy was making him feel intense things: confusion most of all. Yes Harry's friends did help and saved him but they were his friends but his till-recent-nemesis turn strange ally who had stated in front of Dumbledore that he will not help their side. But now he had. He actually saved Harry from an attack which had cast shadow on even Sirius' joyful face. Malfoy did so much for Harry in a day that Harry felt himself filling with gratitude for the nonchalant Slytherin.

Harry kneeled in front of Malfoy's chair who opened his grey eyes feeling a presence nearby. Green met grey with emotions concealed behind one's eyes well while others were fill with wary gratitude expecting a catch but he was determined to thank Malfoy.

"Thank you" Harry could only say the two words as he felt more words would somehow undermine his gratitude. He has no words that could express the gratefulness he was experiencing. The exchange seemed like a sacred affair,an extraordinary moment which involved only them. Their breath fanned each other's faces and Harry realised that this is the first time they have been this close without any negative feeling masking their intentions. No excuse of a fight,of riling each other up was needed to reduce the gap between them. With this came the realisation that they had no emotions to distract them,no people to break them apart with their jeering or cutting commentaries.

Malfoy blinked breaking the moment. Harry stepped back as Malfoy averted his eyes. The gryffindor looked at his Godfather who was giving him a knowing look which Harry could not decide what was for.