A green flash, laser-thin, shot through
the air to impact on something soft at approximately floor level. A cry
of pain followed by muffled groans elicited a high-pitched laugh from
the figure standing by the desk. Giggling uncontrollably, he raised his
wand to rain a volley of identical attacks in the same direction, almost
jumping up and down in glee at the resulting howls of torment. With a
flourish, he took aim once again.
"Crucio!" he declaimed
triumphantly, eyes afire with unholy delight as his victim writhed in
unspeakable agony. The anguished screams were getting quieter, the vocal
chords raw and lacerated. Abruptly there was silence. The torturer, his
manic grin fading into uncertainty, repeated his Curse. In the firelight
a shapeless lump jerked once as the magic hit home, but was otherwise
"Fool!" Snarled a new voice, harsh
and angry. A third person rose swiftly from behind the desk and strode
over to the prone figure sprawled on the exquisite Chinese silk rug. He
kicked it indifferently in the ribs. It remained motionless.
"You are just as incompetent at torture
as you are at everything else!"
"I'm certain he isn't dead, sir, just
unconscious." The voice was oily and uncertain, the face flabby,
pale-eyed beneath a thinning head of grey hair.
"Of course he isn't dead! You're not
even adept enough to kill him. The essence of torture is control: assessing
the victim's pain threshold and keeping the level just below unconsciousness.
It is an art - an art in which you have absolutely no ability, just like
everything else!" The man was virtually spitting with rage by this
time. He waved a negligent arm.
"Have him put in the dungeon. The East
Wing. Nothing but the highest security for this one - he was a very able
and promising student at one time. And, of course, blood will always out."
He sighed and sat back in his chair, smoothing his silver hair gently.
"After all, he spent more than twenty years in my house, under my
instruction." He sighed then added almost inaudibly, "As my
son." The other had not heard, he was issuing instructions for the
removal of his handwork from the library. The silver-haired man sighed
again then opened an inlaid mahogany cabinet and proceeded to pour himself
a substantial drink. The other, having followed his orders, hovered nervously
in the shadows by the doorway until the silver-haired man waved him away
"Are you still here? Get out of my
sight - I've endured enough of your dismal ineptitude for one day. It
defeats me how you ever managed to train as a wizard in the first place,
let alone become an Animagus. Away! Don't taunt me with your uselessness.
You're a constant reminder of how difficult it is to get good help these
days. Take your miserable hide out of my sight and keep it there until
I summon you. And stay away from the East Wing dungeon. When he wakes,
I'll deal with him, and perhaps then you might learn a thing or two about
torture - from an artist."
Wide-eyed, the balding man fled the library,
wiping sweating palms on the seat of his trousers. For a long while his
superior sat motionless at his desk, gazing unseeingly at the blotter.
Eventually he reached for his untouched drink, twirling the amber liquid
around the glass thoughtfully. The light from the dying fire caught on
a carefully fashioned device etched into the glass and the man sighed.
He knew its design so well he could have sketched the crest in its entirety
on the blotter without a moment's thought. And the motto "Ambition
is the mother of power", in Latin of course, had been the mantra
which had dominated the entirety of his adult life. He had done his duty:
married well, maintained the family honour, produced an heir to continue
the family line. Making a sound of disgust, he drained the glass at one
gulp and crashed it down forcefully on the desk. He crossed to the door
in three impatient strides, slamming it forcefully after him. The contents
of the desk trembled in the aftershock and the glass, already unsteadily
poised, tipped over, spilling its dregs over the neat stack of writing
paper. The liquid soaked into the letterhead, blurring the title: "Lucius
Draco Malfoy came to slowly and painfully.
He felt like he'd been on a three-day bender with the Bulgarian International
Quidditch team, then comprehensively stomped on by a herd of mastodons.
Come to think of it, that amounted to the same thing, didn't it? Gods,
his head ached. It seemed like several days later, when he'd managed to
drag his eyelids open, it registered that he was lying in a sprawled puddle
at the far corner of a damp, dirty and extremely smelly basement. Further
examination of the bars on the windows and the heavy iron door led him
to revise that conclusion. This was, in fact, a dungeon. To be precise,
his dungeon, in his house. At least, it used to be his house.
Draco sighed. By his calculations, he was in the East Wing. That fact
alone made the chances of escape more or less negligible, although he
could pass some time prowling around to make sure. Just as soon as his
legs agreed to hold him up, that is. How in hell had he managed to get
into this situation anyway?
Draco fell back against the wall and let
his mind travel backwards. It wasn't that he had expected to get off scot
free for allowing Ginny Weasley to slip through his fingers. He knew he
was due for some pretty serious punishment - Lucius didn't tolerate failure
- but he hadn't bargained for Veritaserum. Something in Draco's explanation,
his words, his demeanour, had obviously set Lucius's suspicious antennae
twitching, and he had chosen to use the truth drug rather than accept
Draco's word. However, he had never seen his father so overcome with shock
as when the real truth of the matter was forced out of his son's own mouth.
Initially, this numb disbelief had proved to be Draco's salvation: Lucius
had been careless and Draco had escaped. However, he had not been functioning
on all four cylinders and had left a trail as wide as Hogwarts Lake. It
had only been a few months before Lucius's minions had caught up with
him. Macnair had actually made the capture - Draco's face burned with
humiliation at the memory. This was a Malfoy lackey whose contract he
would take great pleasure in terminating - with extreme prejudice.
The pain of his injuries and the effects
of starvation and thirst made Draco light-headed. His mind wandered into
unfamiliar territory, dogged by memories he wanted to suppress. That moment
of weakness on the brink of achieving something no other Dark Wizard,
including you-know-who, had been able to accomplish - to seriously damage,
perhaps destroy, the famous Harry Potter. He called himself every name
he could think of - why had he been so weak? His father would have revelled
in the experience, would have viewed the girl's coercion as arousing,
her helplessness exciting. Just as he would take a twisted pleasure from
his next task. Draco knew he had no future, he was facing little more
than slow torture and death. He had already given Lucius every scrap of
information that might prove useful, and a good deal that would not. He
was an empty husk, drained, bled dry, useless now except for the entertainment
of watching him die.
Draco had no illusions about his father's
regard. His mother, Narcissa, had been a career wife: beautiful, educated,
willing to tolerate an arranged marriage for the sake of money and status.
She had been unaware of her husband's cruel, sadistic streak until Draco
was born. Draco himself had been conceived purely out of duty because
the Malfoy family needed an heir. However, after Draco's birth, Lucius
no longer felt it necessary to conceal his true nature from his wife.
Instead he used the young boy as a lever to ensure Narcissa's obedience
to his every whim. Draco was a very observant child and grew up believing
this to be both normal and acceptable. He had very few memories of his
mother. After her death, he deliberately suppressed them, scorning her
for her weakness and her lack of the true "Malfoy spirit". Lucius
hardly paid lip-service to her memory. His father had been discreet, but
Draco had always been wired for sound and had learned very early on, even
before his mother's death, that there were many other women in Lucius's
life. Narcissa slipped quietly away: Draco himself was the only concrete
reminder that she had existed at all.
Unaware that he had slept, Draco was aroused
by a scratching at the prison door. The key was turned and the door swung
open on its hinges to reveal a strange stooping figure carrying a tray.
Draco let out an unsteady breath and consciously relaxed muscles tight
with anticipation. He watched the House Elf diffidently approach him and
nerved himself to sit up, registering as he did so the chains on his wrists
and ankles. The pain was not as great as he had anticipated, but he felt
as weak as a kitten. The House Elf put down the tray without raising its
eyes, then, before he could blink, it shot a bolt of silver sparks from
its fingertip directly at the chains around his wrists. Draco opened his
mouth in surprise, but the House Elf raised its head, a finger over its
lips. It turned back to its task, opening the shackles on his ankles without
destroying the chains themselves. It then gestured urgently towards the
tray, lowered its hood and made as if to leave.
"Why are you helping me?" Draco's
question was so quiet as to be almost inaudible. He shook his head. This
was impossible. There was no one at Malfoy Manor who would give him a
glass of water if he was on fire, and his reputation with House Elves
was far from good. The Elf paused then lifted its hood once more.
"The mistress says 'All debts are now
paid'. That is all I is saying. I must go now." The House Elf scuttled
quickly away. Draco stared after it, something niggling at the back of
his mind. He shrugged, sat up - more comfortably now without the chains
- and investigated the tray. Bread, a slab of reasonable-looking cheese,
a pitcher of water. He looked for a knife to cut the cheese and his fingers
curled round something slim and wooden. Feeling his fingertips tingle
at the contact, Draco's thin lips curved into a smile. His wand! Now he
had a fighting chance to escape. It would be difficult, but suddenly hope
came flooding back. He broke off some of the break and took a long drink
from the pitcher of water. A frown spread across his forehead. Why
did the House Elf help me? Who sent it? A faint wisp of memory chased
its own tail for a while, and finally broke through to the surface. Dobby.
He affirmed silently. And the mistress? Well, I think I can risk a
guess who that is. So all debts are paid are they? He shook his head,
smiling enigmatically. We'll see about that.
"Bring him in." The bald-headed
man scuttled quickly out of the library, returning moments later pushing
a suitably battered and chained Draco before him. One particularly spiteful
shove sent Draco sprawling bonelessly forward onto the Chinese rug, smearing
it liberally with nameless filth from the dungeon floor.
"Get on your feet, you worthless piece
of excrement!" Lucius was already beside himself with impatience.
Draco allowed himself an inner smile: Dad was losing it already, and he
hadn't even started. It took him three attempts to lever himself off the
floor, and each effort ground more and more dirt into the pastel silk.
In actual fact, Draco had made good use of his time in the dungeon. The
bread and water had, of course, saved his life, giving him the energy
to perform healing spells for his considerable hurts and to provide the
wherewithal for a comfortable night's sleep. The wand he had hidden in
the emergency sleeve sheath, one of which he ensured had been sewn into
every shirt he owned. Draco smiled: the clothes he was wearing might be
filthy, torn, smelly and disgusting, but at least they were his own.
Lucius rose slowly from his desk, gradually
bringing his temper under control. Gradually and with the utmost care,
he removed his cufflinks and began to roll the sleeves of his immaculate
bespoke robes to his elbows, taking his time, prolonging the expectancy.
The bald-headed man was watching with barely concealed excitement, tongue
darting rapidly over his lips as he eagerly anticipated the promised demonstration.
Draco glanced briefly at him and felt the first stirrings of nausea: now
he remembered why he had been revolted by Peter Pettigrew from the very
"Now, Wormtail." Began Lucius,
silently sliding open a desk drawer and removing his wand. "The promised
demonstration. I told you torture was an art form, and indeed it is -
one that must be carefully prepared and meticulously studied before the
practitioner can be truly effective. I studied with a master of the art
- my father, who you never knew. That fact is, of course, very fortunate
for you. He would never have tolerated a feeble, useless wretch like you
as a servant, but then," Lucius sighed in an exaggerated fashion,
"He always did accuse me of being too soft." For the first time
his eyes lit upon Draco, hard as flint and just as unyielding. Draco flinched
"Father," he began, swallowing
convulsively. Lucius sent a sudden bolt of fire into the rug at Draco's
feet, obviously having written off the antique carpetwork as beyond salvage.
"I have disowned you." Lucius
hissed savagely, "You are no longer my son, you are no longer a Malfoy.
You are nothing! Just a piece of dirt, a miserable, snivelling
vermin, a failure and a turncoat." Draco looked terrified.
"But I did my best …"
"If that is your best, then the Dark
Forces are well rid of you!" Lucius snapped back. "You are worthy
of nothing better than the Avada curse." He raised his wand.
Draco's drew in a sudden breath, preparing to duck, but Pettigrew could
not contain himself.
"Oh, go on, sir!" he chuckled
evilly, clutching Lucius's left elbow in his excitement. Lucius glared
down at Pettigrew's hand as though it had leprosy. He shook him off violently
and leaned over him, glowering in fury. Pettigrew cringed.
"If you ever lay a hand on me again
…" rumbled Lucius, leaving the threat unspoken. He turned back to
"But Father, one mistake - just one!"
Draco was trying again. Lucius took an infuriated step towards his son.
"One mistake? One mistake?!"
he shouted. "If it were only that, perhaps something could be salvaged.
But you were always a disappointment, Draco, never the Dark Wizard
you should have been!"
"But why? How did I disappoint you
so badly?" Draco was shaking his head in confusion.
"Why? How?" Lucius was
starting to pace around in his agitation. "No family of any status
in the wizarding world has had to endure such a pathetic failure as a
son and heir. You disappointed me at Hogwarts, you were hopelessly inept
as a post-graduate, the rank you finally achieved was so low as to be
a disgrace to the name of Malfoy. My influence wasn't enough - even that
couldn't redeem you. Crabbe and Goyle, brainless as they are, at least
produced biddable canon fodder. My only son and heir couldn't even be
classed as that! Why even your useless sister would have …" Draco's
eyes shot wide open.
"My sister? What about her?" But
Lucius had turned away and was walking back to the desk. Draco straightened
up, all thoughts of escape forgotten.
"Father, look at me." his voice
held an unmistakeable ring of command. Reluctantly, Lucius turned to face
Draco, his face stained a dull red.
"I shouldn't have said that."
he admitted, avoiding his son's eyes. Draco felt his muscles tensing,
his breathing quickening. It had to be soon.
"Lucius." He said calmly, coldly.
"What about Aurora? What have you been hiding from me all these years?"
Lucius struggled, his face working.
"Silence!" he bellowed, then with
a roar he drew his left hand back and struck Draco hard across the head.
This was the opening Draco had been waiting for. Watching his father's
body language, he predicted the blow and moved to avoid it. He was not
totally successful, but at least he maintained his footing. The heavy
iron chain fell away from his legs, but he held on to the one between
his wrists. With a nimbleness at odds with his injured exterior, he kicked
the wand from his father's right hand while freeing his own from the sleeve
sheath. He pointed it straight at Lucius.
"Stupefy!" he shouted,
simultaneously swinging the chain in an arc until it wrapped itself firmly
around Pettigrew's neck. Pettigrew gave a horrified gurgle and snatched
at the chain with both hands, his eyes starting out of his head. Draco
took the opportunity to connect his right foot hard against Pettigrew's
groin, grimacing in satisfaction at the resulting shriek of agony. Lucius
crashed headlong onto the abused Chinese carpet like a fallen tree. Pettigrew
grovelled, scrabbling at his master's feet, paralysed with pain and vomiting
helplessly. Draco shook his head, looking indifferently at the tableau
before him. That carpet has to be a write-off, he thought, then
stunned Pettigrew too, for good measure. He stood for a moment regaining
his breath and listening for the sound of reinforcements before once more
aiming his wand at the two prone figures.
"Astringo!" he muttered.
"Nothing like both belt and braces." Cords flew out of
his wand, trussing them quickly and efficiently. He then moved to the
door, opening it slowly and carefully. Nothing. Apparently the cavalry
were on holiday. Draco stood hesitating. In all honesty, he had not expected
to get this far. He now had no idea what to do next. Brain working in
overdrive, he moved quickly to the desk, selected a pen and a stack of
headed paper and began to write: he had to buy himself as much time and
freedom of movement as possible, and chaos within the Malfoy empire would
achieve both of those things.
Thirty minutes later saw Draco, having sent
off the last of the owls, showered, newly attired in his own clean clothes
and carrying a backpack containing a number of useful items, most of which
were not his own. He stood in the library surveying the unconscious forms
of the two wizards, deep in thought. His eyes flickered over to the desk.
Moving over to it, he began to take it carefully apart, destroying documents,
throwing items apparently at random into the fire. Methodically, he searched
it for hidden drawers and, finding two, examined the contents, burning
what he did not transfer to his own backpack. Finally he stood up holding
one small item between finger and thumb: the Malfoy seal. Tossing it up
to the ceiling, he caught it in the palm of his hand and pocketed it with
"Finders keepers." He said quietly,
and left the library without a backward glance. Five minutes later he
was astride a Nimbus 2000 stolen from the house collection, arrowing his
way through the clouds, a very thoughtful expression on his face. Draco
Malfoy had made up his mind where he was going - at least for a while.
The title "Sorcerors' Endgame" is taken from the excellent "Belgariad"
by David Eddings. I have just changed the grammatical format to suit my
own purposes. This is the third and [probably] final story in this series,
as I aim to tie up all the loose ends herein [famous last words!] Many
thanks to all at Sugarquill who have been reading my efforts to predict
what kind of adults the Potter characters would develop into. I hope this
one isn't a disappointment.