from Pure - Part I
several weeks before they found the place mentioned in Oswald Winterberry's Who's
Who in the Serpent's House. The weak dawn light etched out the scene in the
clearing as they crept to a vantage point. One look at the collapsed timbers
and overgrown foundations was enough to start sinking their hopes.
can't believe this!" Ron, frustrated and exhausted, rocked back on his
heels. Hermione remained where she was, checking the dilapidated building for
signs of life.
quieted Ron with a light hand on his shoulder. "It could still be the
entry said St John-Smythe had the gauntlets. Ravenclaw's gauntlets, Harry. The
St John-Smythe family I've heard about would not be in a place like
this." Ron cracked the top of his water-bottle and drank deeply.
book said that family was the last known one to have it, and this was one of
their properties. This place could be anyone's now, but Hermione's Tracing
Charm still highlighted this area." Harry looked at the map and tapped it
clear when he'd finished. "I'm going to check it out. You two'll keep
alone, Harry. You can't go there alone." Hermione shook her head. "It
looks deserted, but someone's there. There's smoke from that chimney at the
back. They've tried to hide it."
of them watched in silence for a while. Harry was about to suggest they circle
around when a door at the side fell open. A cloaked figure stepped out, carrying
a bucket and heading towards the low-set well nearby. Heaving the water back
towards the shack with apparent difficulty, the figure stopped a moment and
wiped a hand to his brow. The hood fell back.
hell!" Both Harry and Ron seemed to stop breathing.
that's where he's been," Hermione whispered.
weeks ago, rumours were rife in a Wizarding world still shocked by the loss of
a figure such as Albus Dumbledore. Rufus Scrimgeour and his Ministry used the fear
as an excuse to ramp up their monitoring and surveillance. Complaining about
"the extent of Aurors' powers these days" didn't stop people being
secretly grateful that there was such an ostentatious show of policing.
the increased patrolling, however, the number of deaths and casualties in both
worlds grew as the Death Eaters became bolder. Voldemort's talent for fanning
people's fears meant that his ranks were swelling with those who dared not
defy. The Muggle Prime Minister had even started to call the Minister of Magic
by his first name.
the increasing turmoil, the three friends were preparing to set off from the
least they're too busy to notice what we're up to most of the time." Ron
skimmed through the family kitchen, filling a backpack with some supplies.
mother has sure bought up on First Aid potions since all this started."
Hermione gathered a few of the stockpiled vials carefully, packing them into a
padded satchel. "I don't think I've seen so much murtlap essence in one
at the backdoor caught them by surprise and they only just managed to stash
their bags before Remus and Molly came in.
didn't know you'd be going there, Remus. Does Tonks
oh, hello, dears!"
Molly stopped short when she realised Ron and Hermione were sitting at the
of tea, Mum? Remus?" Ron drew his wand and started floating mugs down from
the cupboard. Another couple of things they'd gotten used to since Hogwarts
closed: making tea for the adults, and calling them by their first names.
Ron, that'd be lovely." Molly looked distracted as she walked through,
shrugging off her coat.
Harry? I wanted to say goodbye." Remus took the chair opposite Hermione.
His eyes were bloodshot and movements too careful. He hissed with pain as his
leg bumped the table-edge.
we can do, Remus? I thought Tonks was making you the potion that-" Ron
is, while Horace is away at the moment, anyway." Remus was quiet for a
long moment before a slow smile appeared. "I never thought I'd miss
Severus quite this much."
laughter had a slightly jagged edge.
walked in from the garden, smoothing down his shirt and quickly taking in the
gathering in the kitchen. "Remus. Mrs. Weasley."
call me Molly. How many times must I tell you?"
can't do it, Mrs. Weasley." Harry smiled. "Force of habit."
you're here, Harry. I was hoping to catch you before I left again, to say
goodbye." Remus sipped at his tea.
better than to ask where Remus would be going. Considered as adult, albeit very
junior, members of the Order now, they were very well versed in what types of
information would be shared. Instead, he nodded and asked, "Any
substantial." All attention focused on Remus as he hesitated.
're always rumours,
Harry. More incidents. Disappearances. We haven't heard from Seamus for a while
now." Remus sighed.
Bloody Seamus never did make it past OWLs for punctuality.
He'll turn up eventually, right?" Ron sought reassurance from those around
him and met noncommittal gazes.
I heard again that they'd found Draco's body," Remus continued. "This
time it was in the Thames."
stupid rumour, Molly," Remus rushed to reassure her. "He hasn't been
sighted since, well
he tried to kill Dumbledore." Harry was leaning against the sink, arms
crossed. He watched Remus. "And Snape?"
Remus looked apologetic.
you're going to tell me, thought Harry with familiar chagrin.
the Ravenclaw gauntlets after they'd found the entry in Winterberry's book had
taxed their abilities to the limit. Most of the Order members knew of the
Horcrux quests now. There was initial hostility
Dumbledore had entrusted such crucial information to a mere boy, someone who
wasn't even a trained Auror. When Harry destroyed Slytherin's locket and yet Voldemort's influence still
continued to spread, the muttering grew louder.
pure luck that Professor Flitwick had stopped by the Burrow after Bill and
Fleur's wedding. Leaning heavily on her favoured student status with Flitwick,
Hermione had gleaned enough about the intricacies of Tracing Charms to narrow
their search. That was a while ago. Since then, they'd spent too much time on
the road, finding nothing.
heaped their packs under a nearby bush.
going around the back. You
guys two go round the
other side." Harry was almost away before the others could stop him.
up, Harry," Hermione said, grabbing his forearm. "We're meant to be
nodded. "We're watching your back, remember?"
a moment, mouth open, looking as if he wanted to argue the point;
then he half-smiled and waved them to
building, wands drawn and faces wary. The front door appeared webbed over with
decades of dust and ivy, obviously not the entry of choice. The side-door was
slightly ajar and Harry heard someone moving around the darkened room inside.
Ron chanced a peek through one of the broken panes nearby, hunching down almost
straight away. He held up a single finger. They continued scouting and saw no
one else in the building.
the side entry, Harry mouthed a countdown and the three of them burst into the
room. They fanned out around the startled man, Ron hitting him with a partial
Body-Bind curse while Harry cast Silencio on him for good measure. The
man fell gracelessly to the dirt floor, mouthing soundless obscenities.
erHsaw him dart a glance at a
nearby table and immediately crossed the room to scoop up his wand.
pretty careless, Amycus," Harry commented, throwing open an adjoining door
and having a quick look. "Where's your psycho sister?"
out the back window. "Harry."
edge of the woods at the back of the shack, a shorter figure exited a garden
shed. It looked a lot like Alecto.
swore and immediately checked that Amycus hadn't rolled away.
waiting on either side of the door as Alecto came in. She soon joined her
brother on the floor: silenced, her eyes furious, and her wand in Hermione's
what's in the shed?" Harry muttered aloud, noting that Amycus' eyes
widened with apprehension.
and Hermione check it out," Ron said, looping some old rope around the
inert siblings. "I'll have a chat with my mates here. Probably a bit of a
they got to the garden-shed, the more Harry and Hermione realised how exposed
they were, crossing that unkempt back garden. The small building was in as
dilapidated a shape as the rest of the property, with trailing creepers and
splintery boards making up most of the walls. A rotting pile of hay slumped
against one side. The shed door's latch boiled with rust, and the screws hardly
seemed to be doing their job. The lock, however, was very new and almost
ridiculous in its sturdiness.
subtle if you're trying to hide something there," Hermione noted, before
casting Alohomora. The lock remained shut. She tried a few other
anti-impediment spells but only succeeded in turning the lock a deep green
give me a go." Harry stepped back a few paces before ramming his shoulder
into the door. The whole side of the shed shuddered but the door stayed shut.
He rubbed at his sore arm, frowning.
heard the sharp click at the same time, and watched in shock as a pale face emerged
from the space above the rotting hay.
door's not the door, geniuses."
wands were at Draco's throat in a moment.
you think I wouldn't have hexed you already if I had a wand handy?" He
showed them his empty hands. "What
the hell are
you doing here anyway?"
Hermione kept their wands out as they pushed him back inside the shed. It was a
dark, windowless space, with a lamp guttering atop a small desk. The walls were
bare and stained with damp. The bed was spartan but looked clean.
are the Bowtruckle twins?" Draco asked, crossing his arms and looking at
Harry and Hermione in turn.
being kept out of the picture for the moment," Harry said as he moved
through the room, noting there were no exits except for where they had entered.
Sounds felt uncomfortably muffled in that space.
that's where Weasley is then. Guarding those morons." Draco kept looking
at toward where they'd come in.
"There's no one else out there?"
about you answer some of our questions, Malfoy?" Harry's voice hardened,
and he was momentarily back in the Astronomy Tower, frozen and powerless. When
he spoke again, it was with cold fury. "Where's Snape? Why are you here
with those two?"
an expendable asset." Draco's expression barely changed as Harry's anger
filled the air. "And I don't know where Professor Snape is."
better get away from here." Hermione looked anxious. "There may be
others, and it'd be better for the Order to deal with Malfoy."
not leaving!" Draco's voice rose an octave.
be stupid. You're obviously being kept as some kind of prisoner here."
Hermione scanned the area outside. "It seems clear. Let's go."
told you. I'm not leaving." Draco sat by the desk, one hand
gripping its edge.
you're coming with us. End of story." Harry looked around at the barely
filled room. "You're hardly going to need to pack."
you Gryffindors deaf and dumb? I said I'm not leaving." By the
wavering lamplight, Draco's face was even sharper and more
sharp and hollowed.
His nervous demeanour didn't tally with the forced cockiness that coloured colouring his
voice. "I can't."
Hermione frowned. "You could leave here any time, couldn't you? But you
has my mother." Draco's voice was barely audible.
didn't need to ask who he
disappear, they'll kill her. If I don't do what they say, they'll kill her. If
I contact anyone other than one of them, they'll kill her." He glared at
them and his mouth had a bitter twist. "I'm the one who's meant to be
dead, anyway. After my failed mission."
mission succeeded, Malfoy." Harry's anger warred with the recurring image
from that night of Draco's lowered wand. "Despite you, Professor
the flimsy light in the room, they saw Draco flinch. He said nothing.
are they planning for you next?" Hermione asked.
don't trust me with that kind of information. All I know is that I wouldn't
have this second chance if Professor Snape hadn't spoken for me." Draco's
face stilled and went blank. "I won't know what they want until they send
you're just going to sit here and wait
till until they send
you on another suicide mission? You're real Death Eater material, you
are." Harry's disgust was palpable.
your blind loyalty, so are you," Draco retorted. He slipped by them and
scanned the area outside.
no one there. I just checked." Hermione kept her wand trained on him.
don't how fast he moves," Draco said. "You need to go. I can't be
seen with you."
moves fast?" Hermione and Harry spoke at the same time.
need you to leave. Get out."
Hermione! Where are you?" Ron's voice carried across from the middle of
quickly grabbed Ron and rushed him back into the shed, which was now getting
rather cosy with four of them crammed inside.
god!" Ron stared at Draco
part of 'get out' meant 'bring a Weasley in'?" Draco once again stuck his
head out of the shed, his manner even more jumpy.
you looking for, Malfoy?" Hermione tried to look over his shoulder.
comes every day. About this time." Draco suddenly swore and spun around.
"He's here! You need to go NOW."
It can't be Voldemort?" Ron grabbed Hermione's shoulder and pulled her
be bloody stupid." Draco pulled the entry shut and locked it from the
inside. "It's that mongrel werewolf."
Fenrir's fetid breath remembered
all too well
Harry started thinking Malfoy might be right about getting out.
not allowed in here. He knows that." Draco seemed to be saying it to
reassure himself more than anyone else. "But he's going to know you're
here, by scent."
could Apparate from here back to our stuff," Ron suggested, "and
again to the, er, where we're staying." He looked uneasily at Draco.
don't care where you go, Weasley, and I'm just as keen as you are for them not
to know you were in here. Go! He'll be finding quite a surprise up at the
house, I'm sure."
long as he doesn't hear us all
Apparating Disapparating from
here," Hermione muttered as she concentrated for a moment and then was
gone. Ron disappeared with a crack not long afterwards.
won't hear a thing that goes on in here," Draco said. "Can't you tell
what this shed was used for?"
looked at what he thought was creeping damp on the walls and noticed the bolts
and chains embedded in the planking. He felt his skin prickling. "And you still
choose to stay? We can get the Order in on this. They could probably
don't have much of a choice, Potter."
all have choices, Malfoy. Some are just harder to make than others."
A howl of
rage cut through to the muffled space, getting closer fast.
Draco's voice was harsh and urgent.
before Disapparating, Harry saw Draco tense with a familiar fear, and heard the
snarling thumps at the door of the shed.
Kingsley Shacklebolt who dropped by Grimmauld Place with the news a week later.
accidentally liberated Narcissa Malfoy. She was being kept at the same Death
Eater premises to which a senior member of the Ministry had been kidnapped. She
was imploring them to rescue Draco and bring him to her unharmed, promising
information about Voldemort and his plans.
sooner we sort out what we're going to do about Draco Malfoy" started
Minerva McGonagall, still unfamiliar with sitting in Dumbledore's seat.
boy's gone! Dead!" Moody thumped the table. "Once she was taken by
us, they'd have no leverage to make that pup do what they wanted. He'd be
be that as it may," Minerva continued, fixing Moody with a glare over the
top of her spectacles, "I'd rather we didn't make a habit of leaving
people to terrible fates if we can prevent it."
would never tell him they'd lost her," Remus murmured.
kitchen was packed with Order members. The meeting had already dragged on for
several hours. The Malfoy issue was by no means a top priority.
Ron, and Hermione sat on a bench at the back. They were still smarting from the
dressing down they got when they returned from the St John-Smythe property and
conveyed what they'd found there.
think we brought Greyback to tea, the way they carried on," Ron had said
at the time, none too quietly.
earned himself a solid hour with his father in the sitting room. When Arthur
strode out and straight upstairs, Harry and Hermione went in and found Ron
hunched over by the fireplace. His eyes were tellingly red. All he said was,
"He's not the only one to miss Charlie. We all do."
worth confirming one way or another, surely?" Arthur was saying now.
"Draco could be quite useful"
if he knows much, even if he
still is still alive. Too
junior; , and failed to get into
Voldemort's good books. At any rate, I doubt if Narcissa would tell us much of
consequence that we couldn't already get with Veritaserum. With Lucius imprisoned
all this time, I don't think Voldemort would've been keeping her in the
loop." Moody's false eye swivelled and fixed on Harry. "We've got
more important things to do. If the boy were to hear that his mother was safe,
that's all he'd need to get away."
meeting clattered on into the night, with solid decisions made about combatting
the impending harpy invasion to the west, who would attend the pressing
meetings with their international counterparts, the ubiquitous issues of
recruitment, and nothing more about the Malfoys.
sure this is what Moody meant?" Ron sounded more than a little dubious. He
knelt beside Harry, fixing his gaze warily on the St John-Smythe shack once
more. "They'll have moved him away from here for sure."
would've thought so, too, but Hermione's Tracking spell showed that he's still
here." Harry still couldn't quite believe that Hermione had slipped a
Tracker tack onto Draco's cloak last time they were there. She'd invented the
device after studying how the Marauder's Map worked. When she told them what
she'd done, she'd shrugged and said, "It was just in case. If we never
needed it, it wouldn't matter."
joined Hermione in casting a few scouting charms, checking for traps and webs
of surveillance spells. There were some low-level ones at the property's
entrance that had been added since their last foray. No smoke drifted from the
chimney. The place seemed deserted.
itself was empty. The side-door door hung open and there was no one inside. The
garden-shed looked almost as they'd left it, except for the huge scratch-marks
and dents that scarred the planking in one place.
straight to the section of the shed above the rotting bale of hay, Harry
pounded hard on the splintered surface.
You in there? You okay?"
doesn't matter if we blast this thing, does it?" Ron had his wand poised
at the wall. When Harry and Hermione shook their heads, he immediately shot a
powerful but narrow spell at the base of the wall. The side caved in with a
loud crash, sending up plumes of dust.
if Malfoy wasn't in danger before we arrived, he certainly is now," said
Hermione as she coughed and waved her hands to clear the air around her.
pierced the dim interior of the shed and its scarce contents looked even more
dirt settled, they all saw him at the same time. Ron's first thought was
amazement at how much blood a human being contained. Hermione clapped a hand to
her mouth, eyes wide with horror. Harry was at Draco's side in an instant,
checking for a pulse.
need a Healer now!" he shouted.
time Ron Reapparated with Remus and one of the Order's top Healers, their old
classmate Susan Bones, Harry had eased Draco's head onto a folded shirt.
Hermione's basic knowledge of medical spells meant that Draco was, for the moment,
pain-free. Susan immediately set to work on the injured man, her face taut with
concentration and not just a little compassion.
Remus saw Draco, he almost fell to his knees beside him. The vicious,
ribbon-like slashes that marred Draco's pale skin could only have come from one
source. They'd all seen them before on Bill Weasley. There was a particularly
nasty bite on Draco's left shoulder, a crescent of inflamed and ugly flesh.
was a full moon last week," said Remus in an oddly neutral voice.
been unconscious most of the time," Hermione said. "But he did say a
couple of things at first when he recognised Harry."
they were?" Remus prompted, uncharacteristically brusque.
said, 'You win, Potter.'" Harry's voice was soft. "Then he asked if
it was too late to make another choice."
never too late for another choice," Remus said quietly, then fell silent.
They watched the Healer work
on some of the minor injuries but Draco still looked in shocking
shape. Harry couldn't help noticing the silvery gleam of the old scar that
sliced across Draco's chest.
he be okay, Susan?" Harry crouched beside her.
live, if that's what you mean. Just." Susan sorted through the clutter of
empty bottles and pouches at her side. Her hands worked fast. "But we need
to get him to St Mungo's right now. He's stable enough to be Apparated, I
It was a
week before Draco was allowed to leave the depressingly full wards of the
hospital. As a precautionary measure, he and his mother were kept under guard
at Grimmauld Place. Narcissa commented occasionally about childhood visits to
the Black residence, even once telling Molly about playing Healer with Sirius.
she'd tell me things like that, I don't know!" Molly had said, embarrassed
at the surfeit of detail Narcissa had provided, and more melancholy about the
thought of young Sirius than she
'd cared to admit.
wasn't worried that the Malfoys would stray back to the Dark Lord's side, far
from it. Moody was more concerned that they'd return to Malfoy Manor, find
themselves the target of numerous murder attempts, and try to come back,
allowing Voldemort to trace Order headquarters. Moody was, after all, a master
anticipator. He cast his own complicated series of tether-charms on both
such that they could freely
move around most of the rooms but could not cross the front or back thresholds
of the house. If they tried it, they'd
be trapped in the doorway like overgrown flies in a spider's web. They were
also wandless, and Minerva had cast the dampening spells herself to ensure that
they couldn't practise magic within the walls of Grimmauld Place. Ron kept
making bets with Harry about when 'Ferret would blow his stack' about the
situation, and losing because it still hadn't happened.
found Draco in the gloomy Black library one afternoon. There were large tomes
piled around him, obscuring his slight figure behind their ornate leather
covers. The house had been very quiet when Harry had returned from the meeting
in Dover, where the Sirens were proving to be more of a problem with Channel
traffic than they'd anticipated. He was windswept and cold, his hair sticking
up in tufts. He'd turned down tea with Ron and Hermione at the Burrow. Hanging
up his overcoat, Harry had headed straight for the room with the warmest
your mother?" Harry asked without preamble, already knowing what the
watched by Spotty Stan upstairs." Draco didn't even look up from the page
where he was scribbling copious notes. Stan Shunpike had joined the Order
immediately after his release from custody. He retained an unnerving capacity
to stare when Harry was in the room, but the Order found him very useful as a
determined and vigilant guard for the Malfoys. It wasn't exactly a job for
which members fought to volunteer.
every opportunity to point out to Stan that he was only one step removed from a
Squib, what with only attending Hogwarts for a couple of years before dropping
out. Anyone expecting a personality change for Draco after his near-death
experience was disappointed; as Molly kept intoning, "A kneazle doesn't
change its spots." The wounds inflicted by Greyback remained as angry
welts that showed little sign of subsiding. The bite on Draco's shoulder also
refused to heal, so much so that he had trouble using his arm to eat.
if his regular wincing as he scribbled with the quill was anything to go by.
you researching?" Harry dropped into a nicely warmed armchair by the fire,
holding his hands toward the flames.
it look like, Potter? You did learn to read in between world-saving adventures,
didn't you?" Draco's words were combative from habit rather than malice.
He never expressed his gratitude to them for saving his life, but they judged
it reward enough that he kept to himself most of the time. His mother had
nothing to do with the household in general, asking him to bring all meals to
her room where she preferred to stay. Stan was most often to be found on a
bench outside Narcissa's room, reading whatever was the latest in the
Kennilworthy Whisp series of international Quidditch books. Last time, Ron had
surprised Hermione as she pored over Bulgaria: Only Brawn and Beaters?;
it was a week before they made up again.
the stamped text on the books' spines piled in front of Draco. They included Where-Wolf:
A Concerned Wizard's Guide by Igor Klawmoresky, Trinity McGillicuddy's Lycanthropic
Libations, and even Gilderoy Lockhart's Wanderings with Werewolves.
There was a small, very worn book that Draco was studying at that moment. The
pages were aged and their edges furled with repeated reference. He still hadn't
looked up since Harry came in.
you taking the Wolfsbane Potion?"
I can keep it down."
says it never stops tasting terrible, and he's been taking it before each new
moon for a while now," said Harry conversationally.
for that, Potter. I feel much better."
up, his frown creasing the wounds on his face so he looked additionally pained.
"What's so funny?"
Malfoy. You're such a consistent bastard." Harry shook his head, still
chuckling. He liked coming back to Grimmauld Place after an assignment, or
resting between his frequent searches with Ron and Hermione. It was his home,
even more so than the Burrow these days. After years of half-clues and
allusions to the danger of being Harry Potter, he found satisfaction in finally
knowing so much more. Even though precise details were elusive, he knew what he
needed to do. Being at Order headquarters and considered, for the most part,
being considered an adult,
Harry felt in control for the first time in his life. It was intoxicating, and
he thought he could afford to be gracious even to Malfoy.
Is that you?" Stan's head bobbed around the corner of the library door.
"I thought I heard voices."
sometimes outside your head, are they, Shunpike?" Draco smirked.
got back," Harry said, noticing Stan's wary manner. "Everything
Harry to his side, flicked a narrowed glance at Draco, and shut the library
door. "It's his
mamum, Harry. I think she's gone a bit,
you know." Stan twirled a finger next to his temple.
so, Stan? She still spending hours talking to her relatives on the walls?"
nodded. "Oh, yeah, I'm learning things about Death Eaters' tea parties
like you wouldn't believe."
stifled a laugh. "So?"
glanced towards the library door. "She keeps asking me about Mr
Harry's exclamation was louder than he'd anticipated.
hushed him, mildly panicked.
Harry dropped his voice. "Why's she asking you?"
I was in Azkaban at the same time, you know. For a while." Stan's normally
open expression was bleak and still for a few moments. "Before Scrimgeour
got that earful from Professor McGonagall after Dumbledore died and she took
one," Stan jerked his head to indicate upstairs, "wants to know
everything about him. Whether he'd been talking to anyone, whether he was cold
from being near a window, what he said, how he looks, whether they're treating
him all right. 'Treating him all right' in Azkaban, Harry, can you imagine? Even
without the Dementors there, it's hardly a trip to Blackpool now, is it?"
don't talk about it, Stan, if it makes you feel bad." Harry didn't know
what else to say. He'd hardly seen Narcissa since she was moved into the house.
The only regular visitors she had were her tailor, who always seemed to be
running about with bolts of material that were never good enough, and an elf
from Pretentious Potions, who brought her personalised mixtures that were meant
to soothe her nerves. Harry thought the household could well do with some of
those potions, too, to cope with having Malfoys in their midst.
was telling him sounded sad, but hardly dangerous.
it's not that I feel bad talking about it, Harry. It's just that, I don't know,
I wonder why she wants to know. Why she's so obsessed all of a
about to respond when Draco yanked open the library door.
talking about us yet, Shunnedpike?" asked Draco in a resentful tone.
yet, Malfoiled," retorted Stan with a sneer.
good lord," Harry muttered.
the front door slam.
Things okay here?" Remus called.
Professor, things're fine," Stan replied, moving into the entry hall after
one last glare at Draco. Stan still insisted on calling the ex-Hogwarts staff
by their titles.
at the door, did you?" Harry turned to the other man.
know what you're talking about." Draco stalked past Harry and disappeared
in the direction of the kitchen.
found Harry in the library after dinner that night. It had been a big
gathering. The kitchen was busy with many Order members shunting in and out
again in the space of a few hours. Draco, as usual, had sat by himself near the
sideboard before taking his mother's tray upstairs. He was always as far away
from Moody as possible.
gone again?" Harry asked, putting down Neville's letter about his current
work with Professor Sprout in the Alps.
be back in a few days. She's looking forward to seeing Ginny again."
heart gave a double beat. Ginny chose to work in Edinburgh and, considering
what close quarters they all had to work in at Grimmauld Place, it was just as
running a finger down Draco's stacked books. "He hasn't talked to me about
any of this, you know."
surprise me. That'd qualify as asking for help."
next full moon is less than a week away."
said he's taking the Wolfsbane Potion." Harry watched Remus flick through
Lockhart's book before tossing it aside with a short laugh.
looked up just as Draco froze in the library's doorway.
didn't realise you were in here. I'll come back later." He started backing
come in. Please." Remus used his professor's voice.
half-stood. "I should have a chat with Arthur before he leaves for
Harry, there's no need for you to go." Remus helped himself to some
scotch, made himself comfortable in a chair nearby, and gestured at Draco to
take the remaining one. "We have no secrets, do we, Draco?"
looked uncertainly at Remus, clutching the small, well-thumbed book to his
chest. He finally decided to sit down.
see you're reading Ballentine D'Argent's book," Remus commented, sipping
at his drink; as an aside to Harry, he said, "D'Argent was one of the
greatest werewolf hunters who ever wrote a book."
than Lockhart?" Harry couldn't help asking, smiling wryly.
laughed. "Indeed. And we know that's quite an achievement. One has to read
D'Argent with a large grain of salt, though, much like Lockhart's work. Any man
who claims to have fought a pack of Cypriot werewolves single-handedly and
talks about a cure," Draco interrupted.
looked at Draco with compassion.
there was a cure, do you think Remus would still be this way?" Harry
no one's tried to see if the cure works obviously," Draco said.
"Greyback's still around wreaking havoc."
parents did everything they could to find a cure. They knew full well what
would lie ahead for me with this condition." Remus spoke with a sharpness
that made Harry look at his old professor in surprise. Remus took a deep breath
and continued in his normal, thoughtful tone, "You're talking about the
slaying of the sire, I presume?"
D'Argent says, here," Draco flicked to the section he wanted and started
reading excitedly. "'In the summer of '69, I hunted the dread werewolves
along the steamy coastal jungles of Indonesia. My striking physique, honed from
weeks of machete-work, shone with the honest sweat-', I think I'll skip ahead a
bit. 'Accompanying me on this journey was a nubile young woman who wore nothing
but a string-', er, I think I'll skip this next bit, too. Ah, this is it: 'The
villagers say that the lupine curse can be cured. It is a matter of the victim
tracking the sire - the one who spread the taint - and eliminating him. This
must be done with metal and during transformation. Ideally, the head will be
separated from the rest of the body
blah, blah, hang on, here: 'Almost
instantly, victims will be free of the curse and fit to rejoin common
society.'" Draco put the book down and looked hopefully at Remus.
It was a
long moment before Remus responded. "Rumours of such a cure have been
around for a very long time. They are unproven and, worse still, attempts to
carry out the cure are the cause of many victims' deaths."
got to be better than living life as a mongrel freak," Draco muttered,
a restraining hand on Harry's arm.
don't consider my life so easily disposable," Remus said, again with
asperity. He looked at Draco for a moment before continuing in an even tone,
"Did you read further in that section?"
about the tribal fertility rites and how D'Argent had to bed-"
no." Remus half-smiled. "I meant the part about the victim having to
be in the first year of cycles to effect a 'cure'."
nodded, somewhat dismissively. "I know. Much too late for you, but not for
Remus didn't bother restraining him and in an instant Harry had crossed the gap
and was leaning threateningly over Draco.
can you talk to him like that, you selfish bastard! He helped save your useless
hide. You were totally bollocksed back there; your mates had left you for dead,
it's okay-" Remus started.
not okay! After all he's done, the idiotic choices he's made-"
no choice, Potter," Draco responded with similar heat.
Malfoy. I've told you before. Everyone has a choice, and we're all still living
with the consequences of yours."
off your high bloody horse,
Potter," Draco hissed, shoving Harry away and standing up, his face
flushed with anger. "What do you know about being given the 'choice' of
keeping your parents alive with your actions? Nothing."
to throw himself between them as Harry made a grab for Draco's shirt. After an
awkward round of swearing and jostling, Harry and Draco stopped, looking with
mild surprise at the patient hand resting on each of their chests.
we done, gentlemen?" Remus asked calmly.
stalked back to their chairs.
perhaps you should bid farewell to Arthur now," Remus said.
up a hand. "It's okay. Draco and I have some things to discuss."
glaring, looking as if he'd much rather punch Harry in the face than have a
discussion with Remus.
forced himself to leave the room without another word.
could he say that to Remus?" Ron demanded.
know!" Harry said, relieved that he didn't need to justify losing his
temper. The three of them were in Arthur's study at the Burrow the next day.
Ron was taking care of some of his father's paperwork while he was away.
stayed significantly quiet.
Hermione? You going to say that it was okay for Ferret to toss off at Remus
like that?" Ron looked at her challengingly.
of course it's not okay to be so insensitive, though Draco's hardly known for
his consideration of others, so it's not surprising." Hermione rolled up
the parchment she was working on and put away her quill.
winced, as usual, at her use of their nemesis' first name. It had more effect
on him than someone saying 'Voldemort' these days. She told Ron and Harry that
she refused to expend energy on hating Draco and, indeed, she'd been treating
him as she would anyone else.
Hermione looked thoughtful and seemed to be weighing her words before she
think Draco has a point."
for the spluttering and outraged exclamations to subside. "Specifically,
the slaying of the sire is a rumoured 'cure' that has never been disproven."
don't you think Remus would've done something about that if he thought there
was a chance it could cure him?" Ron asked,
don't know, Ron," Harry said, thinking back over the conversation last
night. "Remus did say that the cure is only effective if carried out within
the first year. Remus was attacked when he was pretty young. How's an
eight-year-old going to slay an adult werewolf?"
but surely, if it worked, there'd be something written somewhere saying
it was effective?" Ron persisted. "Wouldn't people who'd been freed
of it be dancing around being happy?"
shook her head. "You've seen the discrimination against Remus over the
years. Do you think people who've managed to get rid of this from their lives would
note it for posterity? All the books I've read are written by trophy-hunters or
charlatans like Lockhart."
used to fancy that git, Hermione, don't pretend you didnt." Ron laughed
until she pinned him with a look. He looked sheepish. "Er, not that others
weren't taken in by him, too. Like Mum."
lost in their own thoughts for a moment.
is working with information from the D'Argent book that Remus says is a bit
dodgy, but there was something about the way Remus was talking-" Harry
it's probably nothing, but Remus did seem a bit defensive when saying that his
parents would've done everything they could when he was bitten. I only thought
it was odd because he's usually so calm."
course he'd be defensive about that," Hermione murmured, her expression
soft. "Who wants to believe that there might've been a different way
that's now closed to them?"
hang on." Ron sat forward and turned to face Hermione properly.
"You're saying that if Malfoy somehow managed to infiltrate Death Eater
lines, find Greyback at the vulnerable time of transformation, smacks and
beheads him with a silver shovel or something, that he may be cured of
wouldn't have put it quite that way, and I don't think he's got a hope of
getting near Greyback, but yes, I wouldn't discount the theory."
don't believe it." Ron smacked a hand to his forehead. "Though the
part about sending Malfoy off to Greyback has a certain appeal. What do you
think all this is pure speculation." Harry rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"There's no way Malfoy can get out of Grimmauld Place for a start. Anyway,
we've got other things to talk about. I'm thinking we need to get back to the
St John-Smythe place to have a proper look around, to figure out why that
tracing spell took us there."
It was the
with the realisation that he was sprawled, naked, across the cold floor of his
room. He hauled himself to his hands and knees, swearing at how shaky his limbs
felt. The slow-healing wounds from Greyback's attack stung sharply and the
constant pain of his shoulder had blossomed tenfold. Wisps of terror from the
night before threatened to crowd his mind: wracking, uncontrolled spasms, the
disjointing agony, hearing himself scream
deflected these thoughts, feeling nauseous.
potion. Tastes disgusting and doesn't even work." His voice was hoarse and
his throat felt raw. Draco crawled to the bed and collapsed, shocked at how
close he felt to tears.
a quiet knock at the door. He didn't bother responding.
moments later, it came again. "Draco? Are you okay? Remus said to look in
on you after sunrise."
it wasn't Spotty. Still. Granger before nine o'clock in the morning.
you don't open the door, I'm coming in anyway."
of every phrase he'd ever learnt from the walls of the Slytherin bathrooms, he
forced himself to pull on some clothes, staggered to the door, and opened it
while trying his hardest not to sway.
look terrible." She had two flasks of
something on a tray,
and she was trying not to stare at him. He checked to make sure he had dressed
properly. "Here, this is meant to help."
He took it
from her and sniffed it suspiciously. "Does it taste as good as that
useless Wolfsbane Potion?"
It seemed to work perfectly well, considering your alternative was to be
chained in the cellar." Hermione's tone was sharp. "And you don't
need to look at it like that. If we wanted to kill you, there are better
befuddled mind didn't have time to come up with a retort before she was gone.
He heard her looking in on Remus down the hallway.
faint, haggard reflection in the glass, he stared out the window at the smoggy
London surrounds before downing the draught. He had to admit that the potion
did make him feel less jagged and sapped, even though it left a greasy, grassy
aftertaste that made him gag. Draco was sure he could make it taste less vile.
he'd be needing it again after he was cured.
found nothing; the shack had no trap
no attic spaces, no magically-cloaked
wall niches. Nothing. Harry already heard Ron's snores from the sofa, and saw
that Hermione had slumped across the desk. He was so tired when they returned
from their latest expedition that he collapsed in a chair and was soon joined ing his friends in sleep.
hand on his shoulder made him jump.
is it?" Harry demanded, pulling his shoulder away from the vigorous
shaking of Stan's hand.
gone?" Hermione yawned and rubbed her eyes. "Remus left for his next
Remus! Malfoy." Stan looked terrified. "I wasn't napping, I
can't get out of here, Stan," Harry reassured him. "Moody's
ridiculously complicated tether-spells mean both of them are stuck here."
hour later, after a thorough search of the house, they had to agree that Draco
wasn't there. They found Narcissa passed out in the bedroom, her usually
perfect porcelain complexion
and her figure bloated with inactive detention. Hermione leaned over the empty
potion bottle beside the table, sniffing cautiously. It had an animated, snooty
witch dancing on the label, tracing out the "Pretentious Potions"
name with her wand.
angry exclamation made Ron drop the papers he'd found on Narcissa's desk.
"She's been drugged!"
lightly shook Narcissa. There was no change in her deep, regular breathing.
guess she wouldn't be too thrilled about Ferret going off on a suicide mission
so he had to make sure she didn't interfere." Ron picked up another of the
potion bottles a full one from the dressing table. "What's in this
stuff?" He unstoppered it and waved it in front of his nose. "That's
took it from him and wafted it under her nose. "This smells just like"
potion," Ron finished.
No, that's her, Ron; I haven't let her out of my sight since she came
here." Stan was defensive and flushed with anxiety.
frowned. "Stan's right. This has to be Narcissa. Moody had her in a
holding room for hours
, to make
sure that it wasn't someone taking polyjuice."
it's a lot like polyjuice but isn't it exactly," said Hermione,
taking another sniff. "It's got a slightly sharper smell."
that handy; we'll have to show it to someone." Harry rubbed a finger to
his scar, deep in thought. "Where could Malfoy have gotten out?"
bet Mrs Black knows," Hermione said.
hag? I'm not going near her." Ron shuddered.
does that Tracker tack still work?" Harry asked suddenly.
wearing the right cloak. I didn't see it in his room, actually, and he's only
got one." She drew her wand and a sheet of mapping parchment from her
started the incantation and dipped the wand across the page. Immediately, a
spidery series of lines appeared on the sheet and a small, moving spot drew
there he is!" Stan was excitedly turning his head this way and that to
follow the spot. "But where is this? Where's he got to?"
going on here?" Remus appeared in the doorway. "Where's who got
else with you, Remus?" Harry asked quickly.
and Minerva are downstairs. We've just returned from a visit to the Minister's
office." Remus looked at their sombre faces. "Draco's gone, isn't
you know he'd get out?" Hermione asked, her voice anxious. She'd re-folded
nothing, ushering all of them out of the room while Narcissa slept on.
the library. All of you." He sighed. "It's about time we had a proper
meeting about this."
Stan, and Ron muttered amongst themselves as they made their way down the hall.
Remus strode quickly towards the kitchen.
Hermione followed him, getting the small bottle out of her pocket. "Do you
know about this potion? It's Narcissa's draught 'for her nerves'; we think it's
some kind of polyjuice."
it can't be! Moody"
Remus had stopped mid-stride.
know," Hermione said, then shrugged. "But there's something odd about
nodded. "Get it to Horace straight away, Hermione, and make sure you pick
up whatever Veritaserum he's got ready. We're going through our supplies so
quickly these days. Get back as fast as you can. We'll wait for you in the
was quickly convened quickly once when Hermione returned. Shortly
after they started, Harry had to stop his jaw from dropping . Remus
told them he'd helped Draco escape the house.
did what, Remus?" Minerva's voice squeaked with disbelief.
Wolfsbane must be pickling your brain," Moody said
after his initial grunt of surprise. "You've helped the Death Eaters get
what they want." Harry, Ron, and Hermione looked at each other when he
said this, but Moody didn't expand.
believe Draco's siding with Voldemort any longer, not after what they did to
him and his mother." Remus turned away from Moody's skeptical expression,
staring instead into the fire. "He was intent on testing this cure; if it
wasn't now, then it would've been some time in the next twelve months. You all
know I'm doubtful about this theory of slaying the sire, but if there was the
slightest chance that he might be rid of this curse"
so young, Remus. Young and untried, for all his machinations." Minerva
looked distressed. "He can't take on a malicious veteran such as
a chance!" Moody averred. "What were you thinking, man? And besides
getting himself shredded, he's been privy to too much Order strategy and he
knows where our people have been working
working with me all this time, Alastor, do you think I didn't weigh the
consequences of this act?" Remus' voice was angry and slightly brittle.
worked with you long enough to know what a burden your condition is, Remus,"
said Moody in a low growl, looking at him defiantly. "Long enough to know
how much a potential cure would mean to you."
don't think anyone knows how much that would mean to me," Remus
said, whipping around to face Moody.
locked glares. The room was silent but for the fire's occasional crackle.
were planning to go with him, weren't you?" Minerva's voice was soft.
meeting in Knockturn Alley tomorrow," Remus finally said.
we're coming with you, Professor," Stan said, standing to attention.
"You'll need all the help you can get with those sorts."
Stan, I don't want any of you endangering
can't go alone, Remus!" Harry came to stand beside Stan.
Hermione silently joined them.
them all a small smile and shook his head. "This is my folly. It's too
hazardous for you to join me."
right, Remus. This is a fool's mission. Do you even know how to find
Greyback? We've been trying to find him for months. Who's with him? How many?
We know nothing about the target's context." Moody snorted with
ill-concealed impatience. "I can't support this. It's too risky."
correct," Minerva said reluctantly. "There are so many unknowns. We
can't recall anyone from the field at the moment and I
says he knows where Greyback is." Remus leveled a determined gaze at both
his peers. "No one else is required."
moment, Horace Slughorn appeared in the fireplace.
Alastor. And Minerva! Very good. You're all here. Hello, Harry! Didn't see you
in the back there." Horace looked slightly agitated but beamed at Harry
nonetheless. He seemed oblivious to the tension in the room. "I went
straight to work on that potion Hermione brought just before, and I've got to
warn you that it's most suspicious."
it Polyjuice?" Moody demanded.
associated with Polyjuice. As far as I can tell, it's an anti-Polyjuice."
Stan said. "That sounds daft."
that then?" Horace's face turned to look at Stan. "Oh, Shunpike. I
should've known. Right, back to what I found: I'm saying 'as far as I know'
because I've never seen this particular formula made before."
is it, Horace?" Minerva prompted.
liquid you gave me seems to be a type of counter-potion for the Incommutabilis
Moody sat up and frowned. "That's not even a confirmed spell. We know that
the Death Eaters have been experimenting on captured Muggles because we've found,
er, some of the results, but it remains only a rumour that it can even be
what I've heard, it has moved beyond experimental phases," Horace said.
"And what you gave me confirms it. Is Narcissa still out cold?"
we checked, a short while ago," Remus said.
obviously, it's not her." Horace turned away then faced them again,
looking as if he was reading from some of his notes. "The potion contains
pomegranate juice, fluxweed, and
importantly powdered turquoise, which maintains
regenerative properties. Consider this as confirmation that you don't know who
you actually have upstairs!"
Incommutabilis is caster-specific and brings about a permanent change
whereas Polyjuice is only temporary and only the one who casts it has a
chance of reversing it," Hermione said. "Does that mean Narcissa's
potion helps with possible reversal?"
probably!" Horace was delighted that Hermione had caught on so quickly,
then his face fell. "Have you been reading my notes?"
asked me to bring them back and make a copy for you!" Hermione said,
flushing at his accusation.
I? Oh, yes. That's right; we had a parchment-rot scare recently." He
beamed at them all before nodding goodnight and disappearing in a scatter of
can't go without some help behind him," Ron said. "It's dangerous,
and I'm with Moody: I'd trust Ferret as far as I could throw him. Actually,
scratch that; Malfoy'd be an easy throw."
could just wait till Remus is gone, then follow him," Hermione suggested.
"We already know where Draco is."
didn't you tell them about the Tracker tack we've got on Malfoy?" Harry
asked Hermione, looking up from contemplating his cup of tea. They were sitting
in the Grimmauld Place kitchen early the next morning, whispering about last
uneasy. "It's something I worked on without approval. I was just trying
something out and it worked."
It's a brilliant idea." Ron pushed the last of bit of toast into his
mouth. "Anyway, Harry, it's just as well they don't know about it right
now or they'd know exactly what we're planning to do."
Moody's eye swivelling about more than usual, I'm thinking he might already
know what we're planning," Harry said. "We'll have to be
rushing around as it is. He's meant to be off to Argentina today. They won't
know." Ron drained his cup and flicked all the dishes into the sink.
cringed at the ensuing clatter.
Too keen." Ron grinned sheepishly, casting Reparo on a few of the
lot up already, then? I've been watching whoever-it-is upstairs. Still looks
like Malfoy's mum. Still out cold." Stan slouched into the room, rubbing his
eyes and wearing his slightly ragged striped pajamas. "What a to-do
yesterday, eh? I don't think the Professor should go by himself. I could be a
real help to him, y'know. Had experience on the Knight Bus getting louts off.
We see some hairy things go down on the Knight Bus. You get thrown off the Bus
only once, only the once, and you don't come back!"
stifled a yawn, then helped himself to some toast and tea, licking leftover jam
from his knife.
don't think taking on inner-circle Death Eaters would be much like turfing
louts from the Knight Bus, mate," Ron commented, laughing.
Stan looked at Ron, a challenging glint in his eye. He sat down at the table
and leaned forward on his elbows. "You making fun, Weasley?"
trying to say that what Remus is setting out to do is very dangerous, Stan.
That's all." Hermione nudged Ron until he nodded.
squinted at Ron suspiciously.
on watch all day then, Stan?" Harry chimed in, hoping to change topics.
I get that new bloke to take over this afternoon." Stan grinned. "I'm
following you lot to help Professor Lupin."
makes you think we'd go against Remus' own wishes on that
Hermione started, flustered.
back yourself down and unruffle those feathers, Hermione." Stan tapped his
nose. "I know what you're up to. You're not as rude as Malfoy, but I know
you all think I'm a bit slow." He stilled their protestations with an
upheld hand. "I'd be the first to admit I'm no competition for the WUSSES*,
1 but there's book-smarts and
smarts; yeah, I've got those others."
friends didn't know what to say.
you what." Stan sat back in his chair and eyed them all speculatively.
"If I go with you this afternoon, then none of the Profs find out where
you've gone. Simple deal, really."
blackmailing us, Stan?" Harry was so surprised he couldn't help smiling.
it what you like, Harry." Stan grinned slyly and held out his hand.
"Shake on it?"
afternoon, they waited till the house was once again clear of Order members in
transit. The roaming dot that was Malfoy had become stationary in a very
familiar part of their world.
was hunkered over Hermione's parchment in anticipation, their faces almost
swear it looks as if Ferret's at Hogwarts." Ron frowned.
at the Shrieking Shack, to be precise." Hermione spoke the coordinates out
loud so Ron could copy them down. She held her wand steady on the parchment.
"Seems an odd place to go."
could be debriefing with Remus?" Harry suggested. "Not many people
would know how to get to that place."
we all doing just gabbing about it? Let's find out, why don't we?" With
one grand sweep of his wand, Stan Mass-Apparated them straight away.
-unpike, you bloody fool!"
Ron was yelled ing
as they all reappeared, facing each other a second or so later in the familiar,
gloomy mustiness of the Shack.
did you do that?" Hermione was both aghast and excited. "Mass-Apparition
is really dangerous and difficult! You'd need at least a Warlock Level Four
Permit before you'd
let's just say we sometimes needed defensive moves to protect us from Ernie's
driving." Stan seemed none too keen to spell out his lack of a Warlock
Level Four Permit.
suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this," Remus' dry voice interrupted.
are you mob doing here? Don't you ever go anywhere by yourselves?" Draco
sounded irritated as he glared at the new arrivals.
up, Malfoy. We're not here for you. We're here to help Remus." Ron stepped
Well, nice try, Weasley, but we don't need any of you."
like to think so, Ferret, but
Remus' single, impatient word silenced them all. "I think our time might
be better spent not bickering."
we heading off to find Greyback, then?" Stan asked.
shook his head, gesturing to Draco. "Fill them in."
already got Greyback," Draco said.
everyone but Remus shouted, immediately whipping out their wands and surveying
the room with panicked eyes.
those away, you tossers," Draco said, sniffing in disdain. "He's not here.
He's my mother back at Grimmauld Place."
barmy werewolf?" Stan snorted with laughter before looking shrewdly at
Draco. "That's why she was asking me about your dad! They're going to try
something to get him out of Azkaban!"
not a totally lost cause, Shunpike," Draco conceded. "I thought she
was acting odd. I just wrote it off to what she'd just been through, but after
you told Potter about her asking after my dad like that, well, it's no secret
that she's washed her hands of him"
eavesdropping that day!" Harry said.
Potter, Shunpike's got the drop on you in
this conversation." After an admonishing look from Remus, Draco shrugged
and continued, "I milked Greyback for information for a while before I
left, and found out where they were keeping my mother. I even asked him how to
get in and out without a showdown. She wasn't in a very heavily guarded place;
they didn't think that we'd ever be able to tell that Greyback wasn't the real
thing. From the sounds of it, Voldemort cast that spell on him and he was set
up to be 'found' by your lot and taken to Grimmauld Place. It took a few dosed
sessions for him to admit that this assignment was his forced reparation for
mauling yours truly."
explains the Veritaserum running out all the time," said Hermione, looking
at Remus. She frowned. "But as a stalwart Death Eater, wouldn't Greyback
know how to withstand questioning?"
resisted it totally, especially given my interrogation skills, but
, as my mother, he
couldn't." Draco laughed bitterly.
where is your mother?" Harry asked.
in Edinburgh with Ginny and Tonks," Remus answered, glancing at Draco.
"She wasn't in the best of shape when we found her."
Greyback will pay for that when I go back," Draco said, a slightly feral
glint in his eyes.
Hermione looked at the older man. "You're going to let him return and
execute Greyback in cold blood?"
that what we were setting out to help with anyway?" asked Stan in
I don't know about you, but I was setting out to help Remus survive attacking a
mob of Death Eaters, not to help Draco murder someone," Hermione said
can always count on you to be sanctimonious, Granger," Draco muttered.
"I wonder how charitable you'd be if you were in my situation, you
it, Malfoy!" Ron warned, advancing on Draco with his wand drawn.
laughed. "Nothing as predictable as a Weasley." He snatched Ron's
wand and Disapparated with a sharp crack a moment later.
gone to kill Greyback!" Stan exclaimed.
won't, Stan," Remus said quietly. "Unless Greyback's transformed,
he transform last time, during the last full moon?" Harry asked. "Can
he transform if he's actually Narcissa?"
could answer that one.
he may not have a chance to see if the curse can be lifted." Harry saw
Remus' grim expression. "Neither of you will ever know."
Draco told me who it was back at Grimmauld Place, I knew it was probably over.
He left to find his mother immediately, and to see to it that she was safe.
Greyback wasn't going anywhere with all of Moody's spells and
restrictions," Remus said, leaning against the doorjamb and looking weary.
He thought for a moment before speaking again. "The only way it may work
is if we get Voldemort to reverse the spell and, somehow, I doubt he'd oblige
we get back there and stop him doing something drastic to Greyback
anyway?" Ron asked.
shook his head. "No rush. When I tampered with Moody's wards, Draco was
only allowed one exit and no entries. He'll be held for us by one of the
then." Stan held his wand aloft. "We all okay to zip back?"
thing Hermione did when they arrived back in Grimmauld Place was cast Silencio
on Draco, who was swearing with much vigour and volume, caught as he was in
Moody's doorway spell.
I haven't heard some of those before," Ron said with reluctant admiration,
earning himself an exasperated look from Hermione. He retrieved his wand from
Draco's immobilised hand.
on watch upstairs?" Remus asked.
boy from Falmouth. Name's Ned," Stan called over his shoulder, already
taking the stairs two at a time. They heard him talking to Ned, and opening the
door to Narcissa's room. His yelp of surprise brought the rest of them to the
first floor bedroom in no time.
about in the room was something that no longer sported the porcelain features
of Narcissa Malfoy. It still wore her dress but bulged out of it in odd,
unpleasant ways. Its feet were bare and it had tufts of wiry hair scattered
across its toes as well as yellowed, thick toenails. It was the head, though,
that brought a collective, horrified gasp from the group: it was misshapen,
seemingly frozen mid-transformation. Narcissa's fine, pale hair lay amidst
Greyback's matted grey clumps. The face was a grotesque mix of perfectly arched
eyebrows and patches of whiskers springing from mottled, dirty skin.
thing Remus did was reinforce Ned's hastily cast caging spell so that Greyback
couldn't leave the area immediately around the bed.
them, Greyback rushed to the boundary of the spell.
that Blood-traitor brat?" he snarled, flexing his menacing nails.
I heard, he was downstairs telling you what you could do to your mother,"
said Remus in a mild tone, moving dangerously close to Greyback's agitated
I'd step back a smidge. Ned said that he's tried to have a few swipes at
him." Stan flicked his eyes nervously between Remus and Fenrir. Ned was
watching the entire scene with fascinated revulsion, staying well outside the
okay, Stan. I need to test something." Remus' eyes glinted with resolution
as he stepped even closer, moving so that he was inside the spell's
boundaries. Fenrir's mouth stretched into a monstrous grin and he rushed at
Remus without hesitation-
Harry yelled, leaping forward.
Harry!" Remus flicked his wand, preventing
Harry from interfering.
arm was drawn back, his claw-like fingers outspread and ready for a ferocious
on, old chap," Remus cajoled. "Get on with it."
never came. Fenrir's face was almost comical with frustration when he realised
that Remus didn't fear him. He dropped his arm with a grunt.
I'd read about but hadn't had a chance to put to trial until now. Infiltrating
his pack was hard enough and I couldn't risk that mission, even for this."
Remus' smile was chilling and he deliberately stayed within slashing distance.
"The sire can't harm his family, can he, Greyback?"
only ever been an obscure theory, Remus!" Hermione's voice was sharp with
anxiety. "I only read about it in a couple of texts, neither of which were
that dependable. How could you"
yes, you mean the published works by D'Argent and Mohammed. There was also a
section from Hamish McSporran's unpublished papers, several smaller instances
in the Lake Ypacarai scrolls, not to mention three admittedly unconfirmed experiments by
Professor Dor-Gee on the Xi'an pack. But enough critique for now." Remus
gestured to Stan and Harry. "Bring Draco up here. Warn him about this,
would you?" He nodded towards Fenrir. "I'll release Draco from the
binding spell in a minute."
much too late to search for liberation from your condition now, Lupin."
Fenrir's breath was hot against Remus' face. "That's what this is about,
isn't it? If only your parents had realised there was a cure; they
could've tried harder to save you from this life you so despise."
A look of
pained understanding flashed across Remus' face but he stayed silent.
returned, Draco was so shocked by the sight of what was in the room that he was
speechless even after Hermione lifted her Silencio spell.
see the wounds aren't healing well, Draco. Your mother would be so
distressed." Fenrir's laugh was rasping and unpleasant as he eyed Draco
Draco tried in vain to shake off both Harry and Stan. "I'll get you for
what your lackeys did to her."
on with it then, pup!" Fenrir laughed again when Draco lunged but couldn't
you still looking like Narcissa?" Hermione asked Fenrir, her curiosity
overcoming her distaste. She saw his eyes flicker to a number of empty
Pretentious Potion bottles on the floor. "You overdosed on the
know how long I was out cold when that bugger dosed me, did I? If I don't take
enough of that stuff, I won't have a hope of having this reversed." He
gestured with disgust at his malformed body. "I'd be stuck looking like
that bloody ice-princess."
job, mate. That's a great improvement," Ron said.
Draco had stopped struggling, Stan relaxed his grip a bit and regretted it
immediately. Draco twisted out of his grasp, pulling hard away from Harry. He
dashed across the room and was within the spell-bound area in moments.
Draco!" Remus tried to push the other man out of harm's way, but Fenrir
was faster, sweeping in and slashing Draco across an already-scarred cheek. The
stripes bloomed with blood. Moments later, Fenrir fell to the ground stiff as a
board. He'd been hit with a beautifully precise Body-Bind curse.
stared at Stan, who tucked his wand away somewhat ostentatiously. "You
keep forgetting I worked on the Knight Bus. Fare-evaders, you know."
hurt you." Remus knelt beside Draco, who held part of his robe against his
freshly injured face. "That couldn't happen unless-"
wasn't the one to attack Draco in the first place," Harry said.
wind back the spell a bit so he can talk," said Remus.
started spitting out words the moment Stan toned down the spell. "Of
course it wasn't me that actually bit him. You don't stick around as
long as I have without learning a few things. I might've slashed him some, but
that was recreational." His leer was still ugly, hindered as it was by
was it then? Who bit me?" Draco's voice was tight with desperation.
father would be so ashamed of you," Fenrir mocked Draco. "The Malfoy
name brought to this."
fished a small vial from his pocket.
that Veritaserum?" Ron demanded.
Weasley." Draco was about to force-feed the liquid to Fenrir when the
other man sniggered. Draco hesitated.
sorry. I shouldn't have stopped you. Please, go ahead." Fenrir opened his
won't work, Draco," Remus observed, frowning. "He's too much back to
it!" Draco said, his voice unsteady. Blood steadily dripped from his cheek
as he moved back. He shut his eyes in frustration.
checked the bedside table, gathering all the anti-Polyjuice bottles he could
find. "Let's see if this helps." He threw one of the potions against
the wall. It shattered and left a smear of white, smoky liquid.
growled with anger when he realised Remus' ploy.
asked you a question, Greyback."
Dark Lord will come to free me." Fenrir's nervous eyes betrayed his words.
"And your motives are far from pure, Lupin, though I don't know why you
bother. It's too late for you; you should just enjoy it. The power, the taste."
bottles smashed into the wall.
do you think I choose children? They have no hope of lifting the curse."
A few more
potion bottles shattered. "Last one, Greyback," Remus said, his voice
turned a feral grin on Remus and said nothing.
see how long you last without your draughts." Remus dropped the last
bottle with studied nonchalance. "Then Draco will have his answer."
four months before the anti-Polyjuice wore off enough for Veritaserum to affect
Fenrir again. In that time, Draco distracted himself from the cycle of the moon
by helping Horace with potions work, proving himself a useful if perpetually snide member of the
Order. He did, indeed, improve on the Wolfsbane Potion: it now had a light peppermint
flavour, as well as assorted analgesics and invigorators to aid in the
after-effects of transformation. His mother recovered well in Edinburgh, and
he'd already visited her twice, each time guarded by Harry and Ron.
Pretentious Potions elf still delivered the draughts, and Horace had them fully
documented within a month. He made his first successful batch about a fortnight
later, and had intoned that it would be such a leap if he could just test out
its efficacy. A single snort of derision from Minerva put paid to that idea.
eyes shone with triumph the day he found out that Fenrir was so severely
weakened, haggard and sick from the ongoing effects of Incommutabilis and
incarceration in Azkaban, that he'd probably give up the name of the sire.
using their special Floo-pass to Azkaban, Remus found Draco packing for what
looked like a journey of a few weeks.
only take an hour or so." Remus flicked through the paperwork they'd have
to present to the Warden.
want to be on the trail as soon as I can," Draco said, carefully packing
the precious vial of Horace's specially brewed Veritaserum Forte alongside some
flasks of Wolfsbane Potion. "Full moon's in a week."
can't go alone." Remus' face was serious. "You'll be killed by the
rest of the pack. Just because the sire can't touch you doesn't mean your
siblings won't. Stan will be accompanying us, too."
already saved your skin once, Malfoy. Don't you forget that." Stan breezed
into the room as if on cue, and grinned. "You can write me a cheque when
it's all over. I wouldn't mind getting a nice place by the water."
and Shunpike?" Draco frowned, looking from one to the other. "I
didn't think you'd be interested in pursuing the sire now that you know it's
for you, I'm not as selfish as you believe," Remus said dryly. Draco had
to look away from the other man's steady gaze.
be waiting when you get back, Professor. Ron and Harry will be back by then,
too. Harry was guarding someone's transfer to Azkaban so you might even see him
there," Stan said, folding himself into a nearby sofa and hooking his legs
over one of its arms. "I can Mass-Apparate us to where we need to go; save
us some time."
Stan." Remus smiled. "Your Mass-Apparating days are over for the
moment. The Ministry's had a heads-up about your recent efforts and they're
keeping an eye on your spell-casting
for the next few months."
that's what that owl was about!" Stan guffawed. "I saw the Ministry
seal on that parchment and tossed it into the stove. Thought it was another
broom infringement notice; I've got a few of those already."
frowned briefly at Stan before continuing, "You could pack some supplies
for us while you're waiting. About a week's worth should do it, and we'll leave
soon after getting back from the prison." Remus glanced at Draco.
"Does that sound workable?"
shrugged, looking slightly resentful. "Don't talk to me as if you're
offering me a choice."
sighed. "Let's get going."
stepped out of the grate in the Warden's office, the bleak chill of the prison
was immediately palpable.
himself was waiting at his desk. His craggy features, topped by a shock of
reddish-grey hair, were unwelcoming.
Prewett?" Remus stepped forward with a proffered hand.
must be Lupin." Reeve Prewett eyed Remus with a frown, ignoring his hand.
"And you must be Malfoy." He ground out Draco's name with practised
Draco's face close with immediate wariness.
here to see the prisoner Fenrir Greyback, as per Permission Form 2990, signed
by the Minister himself." Remus pushed the paperwork in front of Prewett,
using his professorial voice and hoping to speed up proceedings with procedural
aye, I have the form in duplicate from the Ministry." Reeve didn't bother
looking at what Remus showed him. He'd crossed his arms and leaned back against
his desk, staring at Draco with disconcerting intensity.
on a tight schedule, Prewett; showing us through now would be
appropriate." Remus' temper was up, but his voice betrayed only a slight
is to help you, is it?" Reeve addressed Draco.
Draco's voice was terse, clipped with irritation and impatience.
about that." Reeve didn't move. "What makes you think I'd want to
help you, you murdering bastard?"
Minister has approved this visit, Prewett. If you have any problems with it,
take it through the proper channels. Right now, show us through before I"
you what, Lupin?" Reeve seemed unflustered, quirking a brow at Remus.
"What powerful friends does a werewolf have these days?"
and Remus were shocked into silence.
obviously don't know how things work around here. Azkaban's under my
jurisdiction and I say who sees whom. You've got all the right stamps and
signatures, of course." Reeve gestured at the form Remus held. "But it's
a pity you didn't know that Greyback's slated for Decommissioning today."
grin was bitter. Decommissioning was the last stage for prisoners at Azkaban.
It was the equivalent of the Dementors' kiss and was introduced specifically
for Death Eaters during the War. It was otherwise known as forced interrogation
with no limits, usually ending with the subject in a comatose or vacant state,
if they were lucky.
can't be right! We secured permission days ago to see him." Draco could
hear the strain in Remus' voice as he tried to reason with the Warden. "We
only want a few minutes."
always told me good things about you, Lupin, even if you were one of those
monsters. Having you here, trying to help a Death Eater?" Reeve shook his
head. "I figure my aunt's gone a bit soft in the head."
Molly's nephew?" The Warden's surname clicked into place; Molly's maiden
name was Prewett.
removed, or some such." Reeve took his time looking at the fob-watch at
his belt. "I'll be back in a moment." He left the room without a
backward glance, the heavy clunk of a lock echoing behind him.
have to talk to Greyback, Lupin. It's my only chance!" Draco's voice was
taut. "Otherwise, I'll never know, never be able to find who did this to
me and I'll"
He stopped short.
be like me," Remus finished for him, feeling incapable of offering any
It was a
long ten minutes before they heard the clatter of a key at the door.
just this way, sir." Reeve's voice was almost unrecognisable in its forced
deference. "They haven't been waiting too long. No, sir."
swung open and the Warden stepped in, standing back with a sickly smile. Harry
swept in after him, a quick look at Remus and Draco apparently telling him what
he needed to know.
we get on with it, then?" Harry's voice was sharp and authoritative. He
nodded at the others. "Warden Prewett met me on my way up here. He's been
assured that Draco's time with Greyback is necessary and will be
was pale and sweaty with suppressed panic. "Mr Potter, sir, Greyback's
been taken to Decommissioning since early this afternoon. He may be, er,
unvisitable as it is."
are we standing here for then, man?" Harry shouted at him. "Take us
them down the hallway at a near run.
here, Harry," Remus said as they sped after the Warden, who was several
paces ahead. "He wasn't going to let a mere Death Eater and a werewolf
have their way."
had to deal with this man
before." Harry was brandishing his wand. "He's used to
doing what he likes and doling out his own justice. They don't exactly get
loads of people wanting to work in Azkaban. I got a bit of leverage after I
found him, er, performing unauthorised cullings of Azkaban's staff. I reported
it to Scrimgeour, who did nothing, and Prewett assumed I'd kept his dirty
Scrimgeour signed the form-" Draco started. He was only a step behind
full knowledge that you'd then have to get past Prewett." Harry shook his
head. "I'm just sorry I didn't get here earlier. Trying to pick up my
charge from Dublin today was hell."
They all raced into a room
at the end of the long corridor. Reeve was already in there, somewhat
frantically instructing the two interrogators to revive their prisoner.
unconscious, his distorted features slack and his body ravaged by treatment in
Azkaban from recent hours as well as previous months. The air smelt bad: stale
and heavy with desperation.
trying all strengths of Ennervate and associated revivification spells, the
interrogators shrugged and put down their wands. "Sorry. He's gone. We've
been working on him all day," the older one said, not looking very sorry
at all. "We got some useful stuff about DE strategy around the West
day? I thought you said he was sent down early afternoon?" Harry turned
accusing eyes on Reeve.
He's been slated for Decommissioning for a long time." Reeve drew himself
up with a sniff. "I did what was asked. Not my fault if it's too late for
that can't be." Draco had pushed forward and grabbed Greyback before
anyone could stop him. He shook the limp body in disbelief, eyes hard with
unshed, angry tears. "This can't be it."
like he's only good for the Pit now." Reeve picked at one of his nails, a
small smile at his lips.
what?" Remus asked, appalled.
Pit. It's where the Decommissioned Death Eaters are left to die." Harry's
voice was harsh. "I'll be reporting this to the Order and the Ministry,
my guest, Mr Potter," Reeve said, deference now abandoned. "There's a
War on, in case you haven't noticed. We're full up in Azkaban, and we've
got better things to do than coddle Malfoys."
moment, Draco looked at Remus. The younger man's devastation found such an echo
in the gaze of his old professor that he had to look away. The prospect of
endless cycles of the moon
, and years
of discrimination and hostility because of this taint ,
made Draco feel nauseous.
Prewett saw them to his office without another word.
the desolate, sapping prison as soon as they could.
right, Draco?" Remus' quiet voice startled him; he thought he had the
kitchen to himself that morning.
thought you were away on assignment." Draco busied himself with fixing a
drink, hoping Remus wasn't going to try
and to counsel him.
It was a few months after their thwarted trip to Azkaban and Draco had it had been a difficult, angry time for Draco.
Horace had banned him from assisting in the potions lab, fearful that Draco's
frustration would adversely affect the delicate brews. Minerva had put him to
work in the Order's library, keeping him out of everyone's way with various
back last night with Tonks. Off again later this afternoon."
nodded, not wanting to engage.
and Harry tell me that you've been even more withdrawn than usual."
don't have tea and scones with them, if that's what you mean."
exhausted, Draco, so I'll speak plainly." Remus sighed, the large shadows
under his eyes darker than usual. "Acceptance will be some time coming; I
know it was for my parents. It was all I ever really knew so I can't say that
it took me a long time to get used to the idea. I can't say that finding out
there is a cure hasn't gutted me. In a way, it's worse that there was
something that could've been done that's now beyond my reach." He quirked
a smile. "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to seek you out for a chat. The
War and all."
apologise." Draco finally sat at the table, watching Remus with a defeated
expression. "I've been actively avoiding you since Azkaban."
pushed some crumbs around the surface of the table. "I think it's much
worse than being vilified as a Malfoy, or persecuted for having associated with
Death Eaters, and those are things I already put up with every day." He
hesitated. "Working in the library is a good way not to talk to people in
this house. I've had a lot of time to think about things."
and I thought it might be a good interim plan, while you're still getting used
to the situation."
nodded and managed half a smile.
in companionable silence until they could hear the rest of Grimmauld Place
you don't mind me asking, did Tonks always know you were
you know." Draco
werewolf?" Remus laughed, his face momentarily softened with ease.
"Oh, yes. That Tonks did." In the short conversation that followed,
Remus tried to convey to the other man what it'd be like to live with society's
enduring and angry fears, and how rewarding it was to work for the Order, to
feel like he had purpose. At a break in their discussion, he looked at Draco
with concern. "Do you still think you'd rather be dead?"
didn't say anything, and had to look away.
Remus sounded very sad. "That, too, may pass."
Draco asked in surprise.
won't lie to you. The feeling comes and goes," Remus said quietly.
for you now?"
Remus could answer, the brooding air in the kitchen was broken by a hearty
laugh as Tonks strode in, followed closely by Harry, who was insisting with a
grin that the mermaids he knew did not do things like that.
now? It's utterly unthinkable." Remus grinned as Tonks dropped into his
unthinkable?" she asked, leaning against his cheek and glancing at Draco.
"Are you sending Draco to do some work in the garden?"
is unthinkable." Harry snorted. "The plants would never
Remus' frank gaze. Apparently reaching a decision, he turned to Harry.
Longbottom can do it, Potter, how hard can it be?"
Malfoy, you're telling me you can tell a Snake-vine from a Gnarl-ivy?"
laugh was genuine. "Who am I fooling? I pride myself on not ever having
to know the difference between them. Now, if you were asking me about the
best cloak-maker in Diagon Alley, or the whereabouts of Ravenclaw's gauntlets,
that's another thing
"Ravenclaw's, have you known
all this time!" Harry's voice rose several octaves.
Potter. One never knows when it'll be useful."
"You, you" Harry
couldn't get the words out.
welcome. Let me know when you manage to re-acquaint yourself with the English
language, Potter, and we can get on with things." Draco smirked as he pushed
back from the table and left the room.
- END -
* Wizards United in Super-Smart