Draco glanced around nervously as he headed outside the
Slytherin Common Room. “Wish I had an Invisibility Cloak,” Draco muttered. He
had never been very brave and what he was attempting tonight made him simply
terrified. As he stood on the threshold, he saw the various ghosts gliding
about and alert over any possible intruder. “Darn that Dumbledore,” Draco
thought bitterly. With all those ghosts about, no one could defy the strict
rules that had been so recently imposed. “A Malfoy will always win, Dumbledore,”
Draco whispered and with barely suppressed glee, took out a vial with lightish
green liquid. With one single gulp, he downed the potion and waited for the
transformation to take place. Soon enough, he turned slightly translucent. He
looked down in wonder and where there had once been legs, only empty space
remained. “You’re a genius, Snape,” Draco thought exultantly and then after
checking that he was completely invisible, ran silently down the corridor.
Neville looked about in nervous tension. Though he had come
here every week for the past two months, the fear and anxiety had never left
him. The dark and watchful atmosphere that prevailed over here never failed to
depress his spirits. Just that morning, Ron had noticed his red and brooding
eyes and had commented about it. I can’t do this, Neville thought miserably. It
would be the death of me. He took out his wand and said softly, “Lumos”. A
small bubble of light appeared instantaneously. Neville looked at it with
fierce pride. His own wand. And brand new as well. It belonged to him in a
manner his father’s never did. Ollivander had even commented on it because it
contained a rare--
“Neville,” A soft voice broke his train of thoughts. “I
brought the poison sap. Do you have the leaf from the twirling creepers?” A
small, blond boy emerged from the foliage and looked intently at him.
“Yes, I do,” Neville said quickly. He glanced at the other’s
hand. “Be careful with that!” He almost dropped his wand. “Are…are you ok?”
“Yeah I am fine,” The boy winced and tapped at the pus on
his hand. “Thanks.” He smiled tremulously. “Hope Sprout never sees this.”
“Listen,” Neville said urgently. “Let’s finish this quickly.
The wind’s really weird tonight.” Sure enough, the branches were waving about
in a peculiar manner as if affronted by their presence. “I will get the Moon
Bud and we’ll leave. Stay here, ok?” Neville crawled down the ground and pushed
himself though two narrow bushes.
The potion had already worn off. Draco reached the edge of
the forest and shivered. His memories here were never good except the times
when Umbridge was disparaging that total clod, Hagrid. Draco breathed in that
sweet memory and set into the heart of the forest.
It happened in a split second. Just as he reached a small
clearing, a tall figure materialized out of thin air. Draco started and involuntarily,
moved back a step. “Well, Draco. Aren’t you glad to see me again?”
“De…Definitely Father,” To his shame Draco found that he was
shivering. He suddenly realized that he was not looking forward to this meeting
as much as he thought he would. “Are you alright?”
Lucius Malfoy burst into laughter. “I’ve spent more than 5
months in Azkaban and you ask me this?” His voice was cold and was ragged as
well and Draco realized with a thrill of horror that his father was furious.
“Why did you call me here, Father?” Draco asked, forcing his
voice to be calm as possible.
“I thought that you wanted to see your beloved father,” Lucius
said silkily. When his son did not reply, he went on “I came here for a
purpose, Draco. You should have figured out what that would be. “He paused and
looked appraisingly at his son. “You will do this with the others in your
group. Persuade those who are still loyal to Dumbledore.”
“They are very few.”
“They exist,” Lucius replied shortly. “The Slytherins must
be united and soon, we will get what we deserve…Retribution.”
“What do you want us to do, Father?” Draco asked in a
Lucius took a deep breath and told him his master’s plan. He
went through it with cold clarity and spoke in measured tones. It was obvious
that he had gone through this speech several times before in his head. It was a
brilliant effort and Draco could not help being lulled by the soft words. He
was undeniably impressed. The Dark Lord was a genius.
“I will do it,” Draco said when his father had finished. The
intensity with which he spoke convinced them both that he had been persuaded.
Lucius looked with cool pride at his son. “I knew you would.
Draco followed him deeper into the forest, his mind a whirl
of thoughts. He felt a detached pride at having heard what he had. Slytherins
always appreciated a cunning plan. However, these thoughts were banished when
he came to a larger clearing. Draco gasped as he saw a large, sleek unicorn
lying on the ground, dead.
“What have you done?” Draco whispered. In the absence of the
moon, the unicorn looked uglier than the one he had seen 5 years ago. “And
where is the blood?”
“There is no moon tonight,” Lucius replied but suddenly,
noises could be heard around them. Two Death Eaters arrived carrying a
struggling figure. They dumped him unceremoniously in front of the two Malfoys.
“A spy?” Lucius spoke sharply. “Who is he, Draco?”
Draco looked down at the pale, frightened boy. “Just a
Hufflepuff. I don’t even know his name.”
Draco stared in fascination as the boy simply crumbled and died.
He looked up at his father with effort. “Surely a unicorn was unnecessary.
Couldn’t a …?”
“I know,” Lucius replied and he too ignored the boy lying
inert on his feet. “But we never do things in half-measures. A unicorn has
other powers too and they will be important later. And also, boy, I want…. My…
revenge.” Lucius ripped off his mask and stared at his son.
Draco recoiled and stared back at his father’s lined and
aged face. “Look what Azkaban has done to me,” Lucius whispered. “Now you
understand the overwhelming, consuming thirst that I have.”
Draco looked at his father’s face, at the boy near his feet,
at the two other silent Death Eaters and his eyes crept to the edge of the
forest where a dark shape with milky eyes was staring at him. Then, turning
back to his father, he nodded once.
Up above the tree, Neville sat crouched, hidden by a large
branch. He had looked in shock at what had happened below. But, strangely,
Black’s death had steeled him and he did not cry out. Just when the Slytherin
nodded, he too had nodded with totally different intentions in his mind.
Two people had graduated in the Forbidden Forest that night.