The Sugar Quill
Author: PiperX (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Educating Draco  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. This story is rated PG-13 for violence and bad language.

 

A/N: This fic takes place during Harry's fifth year and war is raging in the wizarding world.

 

*****

 

Educating Draco

 

 

Draco stared at the cretin sleeping by the entrance of the cave. A single ray of sunlight crept in to light up its glistening black fur.

The dog didn't move. Small puffs of air formed underneath its shiny nose.

Breathe.

It was cold. The air smelled like winter. Draco shivered.

So cold.

His right side had fallen asleep again. He winced as he felt sharp stabs of pain work their way up his arm.

I'm still alive.

He struggled to rearrange himself, forcing the blood to circulate to his limbs, too numb to feel the ropes digging into his wrists and ankles.

It was Friday. He was missing his Potions class.

Did they even notice?

A fly landed on the rocky floor, eye level to Draco. He stared at it. It stared back. Its large, red eyes had many facets. Dozens of little Dracos in hexagonal shaped images swam together.

Seeming to tire of the boy, it lifted up its two front legs to rub its head. Flies were meticulously clean. Much cleaner than humans. They've even been known to wash themselves after being touched by humans. At least, Draco had been told as much by an arrogant Ravenclaw in his Herbology class. Draco looked down at his own dirty robes. Robes that covered the clothes he'd been wearing for seven days.

The fly continued to bathe.

Suddenly, he wanted to smash it. He wanted to see its legs splayed underneath its flattened body. Transparent wings bent and broken. Globules of blood and tissue sticking to his fist like molasses.

He clenched his empty stomach and slowly raised his shoulders from the ground. The fly froze momentarily. Draco was still. The fly continued cleaning itself, unconcerned. A small grin pulled at the corner of Draco's mouth. He slowly positioned himself over the fly. All at once, he let himself fall. The fly easily escaped without injury just as Draco hit the cold, smooth surface. Not having access to his arms which were tightly bound behind him, Draco's cheek hit the stone floor making a soft slapping noise. The boy lay still on the ground, wincing in pain, shutting his eyes tightly, trying to keep the tears in.

The fly landed softly on the boy's forehead and resumed washing.

 

 

*****

 

 

Seven days earlier...

 

It was a cool, late autumn evening. Draco had managed to slip away from the dorms without being seen. Of course, it wasn't too difficult to give Crabbe and Goyle the slip. They were too involved in shoving some Mudblood's head in the toilet. Normally, Draco would have liked to stay and watch, but there were much more important matters to contend with.

He quietly crept to the side exit of the castle. The sun was setting and the night sky glowed in a pink and purple haze. He walked along the edge of the Forbidden Forest, listening. Finally, he heard their voices. He knew they would be there. He had accidentally overheard them talking in the Great Hall. Of course, the eavesdropping amulet dropped into Weasley's bag helped quite a bit, too. Draco's heart began to beat faster. What could they be talking about?

Despite Draco's constant questioning, his father hadn't told him how Potter had once again escaped from the Dark Lord last year. But Draco knew enough to know that what the Dark Lord wanted more than anything was to see Harry Potter dead. Draco wanted more than anything to help his father to this end.

Draco stealthily followed Harry, Ron and Hermione down towards the greenhouses, close to the edge of the Forbidden Forest. They were speaking, as they always did, in hushed voices. They were obviously discussing something important.

Draco wrapped his cloak around him tightly as he huddled behind a shrubbery in Professor Sprout's garden. Even though the clear night air was silent, he could barely make out their voices. He heard only snippets here and there.

"...Dumbledore won't let..."

"...but Sirius and Mrs. Figg.."

"...they'll be there..."

A breeze swept through the nearby trees preventing any more words from reaching Draco. Nonetheless, he could hardly contain his excitement. He had distinctly heard the word 'Sirius'. They must be talking about Sirius Black, he thought, though he couldn't imagine why they would be talking about someone who was supposedly a faithful supporter of the Dark Lord. This 'Mrs. Figg' character sounded quite important, as well. Very slowly and as quietly as possible, he stepped forward a few feet to hear more.

"Do you think it's a trap?" came the unmistakable voice of Ron Weasley.

"We have to trust them, right? I mean, they know what they're doing," came the voice of Harry Potter in response.

"Oh yes," Draco recognized the next voice as the Mudblood. "They've been through this before. If it's a trap... well, I'm sure they'll be prepared for that possibility..."

A trap? What trap? Draco wondered. He was now leaning so far forward that he had to catch himself from falling into the bush in front of him. He grabbed onto one of the branches to right himself. He sat on the ground motionless, fearing that the threesome had been alerted to his presence, but they didn't acknowledge him.

He closed his eyes and took a deep but silent breath. That was close. He couldn't let himself get caught. He imagined the look on his father's face if he ... But Draco couldn't let himself even think of that possibility. If he had to, he would stay there all night.

He turned his attention back to the Gryffindors. The wind had kicked up and the rustling through the trees was preventing him from hearing their voices. He moved, ever so slowly to get a little closer but found that his foot was caught under a tree root. He tried to pull it free, but it wouldn't budge. He reached down to feel his leg and found the vines of a plant were wrapped around his ankle. The horror of his predicament sank in immediately.

He had wandered into a batch of Devil's Snare.

He instantly stopped struggling, desperately trying to recall what he knew about Devil's Snare. His mother had planted some around the edge of the Malfoy family tomb, but he had never been so stupid to get near it, so he'd never had to learn how to break free from it. Perhaps if he didn't struggle, it would stop climbing up his leg. He could still reach his wand in his pocket, but what good was that? Even if he could think of how to repel the Snare, any spell would surely be seen by Potter and his friends. He would just have to wait it out.

Unfortunately, no matter how still he was, the Snare's tendrils continued to wind their way up his leg, to his chest and arms. Draco decided that he'd rather deal with the Devil's Snare than get caught by Potter's bunch.

He sat quietly, being careful not to move, but immobility was rapidly becoming more and more difficult. The Snare had now completely wrapped itself around his body and was inching up around his neck and head. He couldn't get to his wand now if he tried.

Suddenly, a vine tightened around his neck. Silence was no longer possible.

Panic surged through him as he gagged and thrashed in the tangle of vines that had consumed him. He couldn't breathe. The plant was incredibly strong; he couldn't break free. The more he fought, the tighter it gripped. Suddenly, he felt a warmth coming from somewhere and the dozens of vines wrapped around his body fell away as one. He lay on the ground panting, afraid to see what had saved him.

He heard Ron first. "Unbelievable!"

Draco looked up to see three very shocked and concerned faces looking down at him. There was a small blue flame at his feet and Harry, Ron and Hermione were pointing their wands at him.

There was no way Draco would be able to reach his wand in time. He stayed very still not daring to breathe, looking into those eyes. Those bright green eyes. The eyes of the Hero.

If he was going to get out of this, he'd better do some fast talking. He tried to sound casually annoyed. "Damn that Professor Sprout! You'd think she'd warn me that she had Devil's Snare in her garden." He slowly leaned up and started to brush the dirt and leaves off of his lap.

"What the hell are you doing in her garden, Malfoy?" Ron sneered.

Harry continued to point his wand at Draco's chest with a steady hand and an unwavering gaze.

Draco adopted an indignant air. "Not that it's any of your business, Weasley, but I'm doing some extra credit work. She gave me permission to work with the Belladonna plants tonight. I should be asking what you're doing out here sneaking around in the dark."

"As if you didn't know. I bet you heard every word, didn't you?" said Harry steadily, not taking his eyes off Draco.

"Really," said Draco, as he slowly got to his feet. "You do think the world revolves around you, don't you, Potter?"

Harry, Ron and Hermione continued to stare at him, wands pointed.

"Honestly, do you know how completely paranoid the three of you look? Maybe you all need a little vacation. I hear Mungo's is very nice this time of year."

He casually turned his back to them and started walking back towards the castle. Out of the Gryffindors' line of sight, his hand crept to his pocket preparing to grab his wand... but it was too late. He felt the curses hit him in the back as he fell face down into the cold, wet grass and everything went black.

*****

When he opened his eyes, the world around him was still black. He heard familiar voices. He instinctively reached for his wand but found that he couldn't move. He was tied to what felt like a tree, most likely in the Forbidden Forest. Harry, Ron and Hermione were standing around him. He couldn't see them but he could hear their low voices and feel the warmth from their bodies. They were debating what to do.

"We have to think carefully about this."

"We have to go to Dumbledore, Harry."

"No, let's just tie him up and leave him here. Some beast is bound to come by and dispose of him for us."

"I don't know, Hermione. I don't think we should go to Dumbledore."

"Why not?"

"He shouldn't get involved in this. He's having enough trouble with Fudge and the Ministry. Lucius Malfoy has Fudge wrapped around his little finger. If Malfoy thought that Dumbledore had something to do with his son getting hurt... it could really complicate matters with him and Fudge."

"Lucius Malfoy doesn't have to find out. Dumbledore will figure out a way..."

"Dumbledore doesn't have all the answers to everything. We can't always rely on him. He's got too many other things to deal with. How happy do you think he would be if we dropped another little problem into his lap. No. We're not going to do it. This is our problem. We can handle it. It's only Draco! We've handled him before."

"Oy, I know! We can take him to Aragog!"

"I think he's awake."

Suddenly, Draco felt the presence of someone very close to his face; warm breath hit his cheek.

"What d'you think, Draco? Would you like to meet the giant spiders? I'm sure they'd love to have you for dinner. You'd probably feed them for weeks. I think they have to keep you alive while they nibble, you know, so you'll be fresh..."

"Ron! That's disgusting!"

Draco spat a furious response. "You better untie me right now or you're really going to regret it."

Ron only seemed to get angrier. "You're going to regret snooping around, you little -"

"Ron, this isn't helping."

"I'm sick of him, Hermione!" he shouted. "... Always threatening you. This is the perfect opportunity to arrange for a little accident."

Draco couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Let me go, right now!"

Harry, who'd been thinking quietly, suddenly pounded his fist on the ground.
"Damn it, Draco! Why do you have to be so nosy!"

"Isn't it obvious?" said Ron. "He's spying for his dear old Death Eater father! I bet he couldn't wait to get back to him and tell him what he found out. Isn't that right, Draco? You're a young Death Eater in training?"

"You're delusional!" Draco seethed. "This is kidnapping. I believe you get a healthy sentence in Azkaban for kidnapping."

"Do you think anyone was with him?" Hermione asked anxiously.

"I think they would have shown themselves by now," said Harry.

"I'm telling you guys, it was no accident he overheard us. He's probably been spying on us for a long time!" Ron reached over and grabbed Draco by the front of his robes and shoved his wand in his face. "How long have you been spying on us?"

"I don't know what you're talking about! You think I don't have anything better to do than waste my time following you around. Really, Weasley, you and Potter do think a lot of yourselves, don't you?"

"Don't play dumb, Junior Death Eater, unless you want to be hung by your ankles from that tree over there."

Draco figured he better stick to his story. "I didn't hear any of your stupid conversation, now let me go!"

"Don't give me that crap, you lying bastard!"

"Look, Ron, I'm sure you're right, but he's not just going to tell us what he knows. We have to figure out another way."

"I can think of a few good ways to make him talk..."

"Maybe we can get a hold of some Veritaserum."

"Oh yeah, good idea, Hermione. Let's just go to the apothecary on our next trip to Hogsmeade and pick up a vial."

"Maybe he didn't hear anything and then we can just let him go."

"Or better yet, we could just ask Professor Snape. I'm sure he has some extra Veritaserum lying around he doesn't need. I'm sure he would love to give it to us, no questions asked."

"I'm trying to think of a solution to this problem, Ron! I don't see you coming up with any better ideas."

Harry finally interrupted. "Enough, you two! This isn't helping. Veritaserum's a good idea, Hermione, but Ron's right; it would be impossible to get. Besides that, I'm sure that he overheard our conversation about Sirius. Who knows how long he's been spying on us. I think we just have to assume that he knows too much. The best bet is a memory charm."

"Oh, those are way too complex, Harry. There's no way we can learn that charm in a short amount of time."

"It's not like we could test it either," said Ron. "I mean, how would we know if it had worked or not? He could just lie like he always does."

"Yeah, you're right. We'll have to ask someone for help. Someone we can trust."

Hermione let out a sigh of relief. "Yes, absolutely. We need help from-"

"NOT Dumbledore!"

"My dad knows how do to memory charms!"

"No..." said Hermione.

"No way, Ron. We're not getting your dad involved in this."

"He could get into big trouble with the Ministry. He would lose his job, at best. He'd probably get sent to Azkaban."

Ron added, "Great, we can all be there together."

Hermione scoffed. "Oh, that's optimistic!"

"We'll get Sirius," said Harry. "He'll know what to do. And it's not like he can get into any more trouble than he's already in."

"All right."

"Agreed."

 

That was how Draco had come to be trapped in a dark, damp cave with the wretched, foul-smelling cretin named Sirius Black.

Draco had quickly ascertained that Sirius Black was not a loyal supporter of the Dark Lord and he had never been a Death Eater. This did not ease his distress. He was still a murderer. He looked completely insane. His hair was short and stuck out at odd angles. It looked like someone had tried to cut it with a scythe. It was reminiscent of Potter's messy mop top, but Potter didn't have the excuse that he was on the run from the law. Black's eyes were dark and sunken into his face. He was skinny and sallow, like he had been living under a bridge for fifteen years. One would have thought his thin body would blow away with a small gust of wind. But Draco knew better. Black's grip was strong and he easily carried Draco up the meandering mountain trail to the cave. He wielded a long knife; it was more like a sword, really. And he carried it deftly.

He lay in the cave, on the cold, hard floor, night after night. He was used to his arms going numb by now. He still had to wriggle desperately to keep the pain away.

The first day was the worst.

The cretin had sat and stared at him for what seemed like hours. He was obviously mad. Draco wanted to scream at him, but he couldn't speak. He wanted to hit him, but his hands were bound. Most of all, he wanted to escape. He wanted to go home. Home to his mother, who would make everything all right. Home to his father, who would make sure that these bastards paid for daring to hurt his son.

The cretin stood up and walked towards him.

Draco braced himself. What was he going to do?

The mangy man stood over him and pulled on the cloth stuffed in Draco's mouth. Draco grinded his aching jaws together. The cretin's eyes bored into him.

"How old are you?"

Draco didn't answer.

"Thirteen?"

Draco fumed. "I'm fifteen! And you'd better let me go right now!"

The man continued to stare at him. "Fifteen," he said thoughtfully. "Fifteen years old."

"Did you hear me?" Draco spat. "Untie me! Now!"

Black didn't seem to be listening to him. "Do you have a girlfriend back at school?"

Draco felt a stab of pain in his heart as he thought of Pansy. She was probably worried sick about him.

"When my dad finds you, he's not going to kill you. But you'll wish he would. You'll be begging for death when my dad gets done with you."

"I'd never beg for anything from your father. You can count on that."

"He's a powerful wizard! He's going to crucify you when he finds you. And he will find you!"

"Proud of your dad, are you?"

Draco didn't respond. He wouldn't lower himself to conversing with him, a cretin, about his father.

"So I hear your dad's pretty tight with Voldemort?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"He's Voldemort's right hand man. Have you ever seen Voldemort, Draco?"

Draco couldn't believe it. Was this thing, this cretin, actually trying to get information out of him? Ha! thought Draco. There were some benefits to not knowing anything. Perhaps he should make something up.

"I'm not trying to get information from you, Draco. I know very well that you know nothing. You think you know a lot. But you don't.

"I know what's going to happen to you when they rescue me! You'll be lucky if the Ministry finds you first. If my father finds you, they'll just be finding pieces of you."

"Do you think by becoming a Death Eater, you'll be somebody special?"

"I never said I wanted to be a Death Eater!"

"But you do, don't you? Just like your father."

Draco didn't answer.

Sirius continued, "You screwed up your first assignment pretty badly, didn't you?"

"It was not an assignment! I was just minding my own business when that nut case, Potter, and his friends grabbed me!"

"Do you know what Voldemort would do to you if you screwed up an assignment?"

Draco was silent.

"Or what he'd do to your little girlfriend?"

Draco couldn't stay quiet any longer. "What the hell do you know? You're not a supporter of the Dark Lord!"

"I know all about the Death Eaters, Draco. I spent twelve years living next to them listening to them relive their worst nightmares. Voldemort doesn't appreciate it when his followers make mistakes."

You don't know what you're talking about.

"You want to be just like them, don't you? You have no idea what you're getting into. You're just a stupid, naive little kid, thinking you can run with the big boys.

Well, you're just a dirty cretin and I'm tired of listening to you. "I have to go to the loo," Draco demanded.

"So go then," said Sirius.

Draco looked at him indignantly. "I can't even stand up. How do you expect me to do it myself?"

"You're an enterprising young man. You figure it out."

"You have to let me out sometime! I have to go! Do you expect me to go in my pants?"

Sirius shrugged. "I don't care."

Draco couldn't believe his ears. He wasn't even going to let him out to relieve himself. This was far worse than he could have ever imagined. He glared at the cretin, who, ignoring him, turned into a dog and lay down by the entrance to the cave.

*****

By nightfall, Draco really did have to go, but he refused to soil himself. He would not give this cretin the satisfaction of seeing him so humiliated. It was getting very painful, however. The hours passed. The moon was close to full. It was a bright night but perhaps it was dark enough that Draco could convince the cretin to let him outside. The pain in his bladder was making it increasingly difficult to think clearly. But he had to try a different approach. One that would appeal to the cretin.

Draco looked over at the sleeping dog by the door and said as meekly as possible, "Mr. Black?"

The great dog stirred slightly and almost imperceptibly opened his eyes to stare at Draco.

"Please," Draco started, "I really have to go. It's dark outside now. No one will see me. You can keep me tied up." Draco stopped short of offering to don the gag. "I won't try to run away. I promise. I know you'd catch me."

The dog gave a great grunt, shifted his paws underneath his head and lazily closed his large black eyes.

He was going back to sleep.

Draco hadn't prepared himself for this response. He found he couldn't stop the tears which now streamed down his face as he pleaded desperately with the dog. "Please... please, let me go outside. It hurts. It really hurts."

The dog didn't move. It was so still, for a wild, joyous moment, Draco thought it might be dead. But that was too much to hope for.

"Please, Mr. Black? I promise I won't run. I'll be really quick. Don't make me go in here."

No response from the dog.

Draco cried harder than ever now. He wasn't going to be let out. He'd have to go in his pants like a helpless infant. Desperation seized him.

"If you make me go in here, it'll stink so bad," he seethed. "Do you want to spend your time cooped up in a pee-stinking cave?"

This got the dog's attention. He opened his eyes and lifted his head. Draco imagined that the dog was smiling, if a dog could smile. Suddenly, he was no longer a dog, but a man. The cretin.

Still lying on the ground, Sirius spoke with an air of indifference. "I can get some fresh air anytime I want to."

"But you have to stay here most of the time to watch me," Draco reasoned. "This place is bad enough. I can tell you don't like it either. Do you really want it to smell like a toilet too?"

Sirius ran his hands through his hair scratching his head. "What I would like is some sleep."

Draco wasn't sure if this was good or bad but he had to keep trying. "Please? I'll be quick. And then I won't make a sound for the rest of the night."

Sirius sighed as he stood up and walked towards Draco. He was holding a small black cloth in his hand.

Draco recognized the gag at once. "No, not the -" But his voice died as the dry salty cloth was shoved into his mouth.

"C'mon then," said Sirius gruffly. He grabbed Draco's arm and roughly pulled him to his feet. Draco had barely managed to find his feet beneath him when he felt something cold against his neck.

It was the dagger.

"Don't try anything," Sirius warned. "You're right, I could easily outrun you. And there isn't anyone for miles so don't bother trying to yell."

Wide-eyed with fear, Draco nodded to show he understood.

Finally, Sirius dragged Draco outside of the cave for the first time. The cool, clear air felt like a refreshing bath in a spring. Sirius took him behind a bush and helped him with his clothes.

But as the pain in Draco's bladder was relieved, the pain of the humiliation took it's place.

It could be worse, Draco kept thinking to himself. It could be worse. He tried to stay focused on the positive but a dull and constant anger gnawed at him. He had never felt this much hatred. It seemed to be consuming him.

*****

Subsequent nights were a little easier to take. The cretin let Draco go outside every night just long enough to relieve himself. There were times when it was difficult to wait, but as long as he knew night would come eventually, he could wait it out. The fact that Draco rarely got food or water also helped out the wait for nightfall.

The nights were cold but it wasn't completely black inside the cave. The full moon somehow managed to bounce some light in.

One night, the cretin left and didn't return for many hours. He made sure the ropes were extra tight before he left, making painful, red marks in Draco's skin. As much as Draco tried, it was impossible to escape. He began to long for the moment when the cretin returned and the ropes were loosened. Then he worried that the cretin would never come back at all. He imagined that he was left to die a cold and lonely death.

But the cretin came back.

Draco longed for news of the outside world. Were they still looking for him? Of course they are! he reassured himself. He hoped the cretin would tell him something. But instead, he taunted him and Draco went back to wishing he would go away.

"You owe a lot to Harry. If it wasn't for him, you wouldn't be alive right now."

Draco's stomach gave another painful jolt. The last bit of food he'd had was two days ago. The cretin had made him beg for a leg of a rat. It was disgusting. But he actually made him beg for it.

"You could say that you're in his debt." Sirius sniggered. "What do you think of that, Draco?"

Draco focused on a crack in the ceiling. There was one splinter on one side and two tiny splinters on the other. He tried to imagine what animal it resembled. This was a childhood game played to pass the time, but the cretin's voice bored into his thoughts.

"See, Draco, you're learning. You're learning what comes with being a Death Eater. I'm teaching you better than your dear father could. You have to learn to be tough. The Dark Lord doesn't like weaklings. When you bow down to Voldemort, be expected to give up everything."

"I didn't do anything. I wasn't spying for my father."

Sirius gave him a tragic look. "Oh? You mean to say that you're innocent?"

Draco didn't dare answer this question.

"My dear Draco. Don't you know? Innocence means nothing." Sirius's voice seethed with bitterness.

Draco closed his eyes, trying desperately to stop the flow of tears. His feelings of hopelessness seemed to be drowning him.

"Don't cry now. A good Death Eater never cries. The others will think you're pathetic and weak and they'll take advantage of you. These people will be your only friends. Sounds like fun, eh?" Sirius shook his head. "You have no idea, Draco."

*****

Hope came back to Draco two days later when the cretin made an announcement.

"Harry's coming this afternoon. I'm really looking forward to the show you're going to put on. Harry's got a good heart but I can assure you he'll see through you. Don't bother trying to take advantage of his sympathies."

With news that Harry was coming, Draco found renewed strength. Yes, Potter was a bleeding heart. He would never let Draco die. Once Harry got here, things would be better. He would tell him that Sirius Black was nutters, that he'd lost it. He was going to kill Draco. Harry couldn't let him die, could he? No, he wouldn't. He doesn't have it in him. Draco would just have to swallow his pride and try to get his sympathy. He would have to look pathetic. Well, that won't be too difficult, Draco thought bitterly. He tried not to think about what he probably looked like at this stage but he knew it had to be dreadful. He spent the morning longing for the moment when Harry walked through the entrance to the cave. He never would have imagined that he'd be so happy to see Harry Potter. He'd probably have food, too. His stomach lurched at the thought. Would they give him some of their food? He couldn't bear the thought of them, the cretin and the Hero, eating some heavenly dish while he, Draco, got nothing, not even a drop of water.

As the sun rose and the shadows in the cave disappeared, Draco heard someone walking outside. Harry Potter stepped into the cave and immediately a look of revulsion come over him as he covered his mouth and nose with his hands.

"Sirius, it's a bit ripe in here, don't you think?"

"Sorry, the maids don't come till Tuesday." The large black dog had transformed into a man, the cretin. "What did you bring? Ham?" he said grabbing Harry's bag from his back.

Draco stared at Harry, willing him to look back, willing him to remove the gag, willing him to give him some ham.

Harry wouldn't face him, though. He looked a little green. "It'd help if you got rid of these bones all over the floor."

"Draco likes to nibble on them. He asked me to keep them out in case he wants a midnight snack." Sirius said in a mouthful of food.

Harry looked at Draco but quickly looked away when he saw the pleading look on his face. "I'm glad you can find the humor in all this, Sirius."

"Speaking of Draco," Sirius gave him a look, "I think he has something he's dying to tell you."

Harry sighed. "What?"

"He's going to try to appeal to your good nature. Try to convince you that he won't say anything about what he knows. Ask you to find some room in your heart to release him. Isn't that right, Draco?"

Draco ignored Sirius and concentrated on Harry. His only hope remained with Harry. He didn't care if Sirius knew it.

"Well, it won't do any good." Harry said and with much effort, he looked in Draco's eyes. "He got himself into this."

Draco felt his heart drop. But he wouldn't give up hope. He couldn't.

Finally, Harry walked over to him and removed the gag from his mouth. Draco wasted no time. He summoned up all the energy he had in him to commence his pleadings. "Harry - don't leave me here with him. He's completely insane. All those years in Azkaban have taken away his sense of reality. He's going to kill me. Please don't leave me here to die."

"Sirius is not going to kill you," Harry said firmly.

"Probably not," said Sirius thoughtfully.

"But, he is. You don't know. You haven't been here. You haven't seen the fits he gets. He's completely out of control."

Sirius was laughing softly now. "Oh, you can do better than that, Draco."

"Harry, I'm starving. He hasn't given me food or water for a week!"

"What a drama queen," Sirius spouted. "He got some water yesterday. Don't let him wind you up, Harry."

Harry looked at Sirius incredulously. "You think he's acting?"

Sirius looked straight at Draco and nodded.

"You gave him water yesterday, Sirius?"

Sirius shrugged.

"How often do you give him food and water?" Harry asked warily.

"He's gotten water every day, pretty much."

"Pretty much?"

"Hmm... give or take. He doesn't eat the food I provide him. He shouldn't be such a picky eater."

"That rat was rancid!" Draco cried. "There were maggots in it!"

"Sirius," Harry continued, "What about the chicken I sent? Did you give any of it to him?"

"I asked him if he wanted some and he didn't say anything," Sirius smirked.

"He's had me gagged the whole time! I could hardly breathe!"

"Sirius, you need to at least give him water every day." Harry got up and went to the entrance where there was a half full jug of water. He carried it over to Draco.

Draco tried to conjure up his strength to lift himself up from the floor but found he was too weak. The thought of the water jug gave him an inexpressible joy but he couldn't help feeling a tinge of bitterness as Harry had to lift him up and prop him against the wall so he could take a drink.

As he got close to Draco, Harry's face screwed up involuntarily in disgust. Draco was suddenly furious. The humiliation was too much to take. He summoned up all his strength and pulled his hands apart. The rope burned as it dug into his skin. He ignored the pain which was shooting up his arm. He felt like his hands were being ripped off. But suddenly, his hands were free!

He stood up and grabbed the hero who was frozen in fear and gave him a powerful shove. Harry dropped the water jug and fell back. There was a great CRACK as Harry's head hit the stone wall. Blood began to trickle down his neck. The hero slid down the wall and slumped onto the floor, his face still frozen in fear and the acknowledgment of his own impending death.

Draco turned to the cretin to see that he had pulled out the knife. But Draco was too quick for him. He rushed forward and grabbed the handle of the knife underneath the cretin's fingers. They were both holding the knife now, each struggling to gain control of it. Draco could feel ripping pain in every muscle as he strained to bring the knife around to point at the cretin's heart. The cretin's expression showed complete shock and fear. Draco felt the cretin's fear of him and it fed his determination. He gave an almighty lurch and plunged the knife into the cretin's slowly beating heart.

"Draco?"

Draco looked up to see Harry holding up the water jug. Draco instinctively tried to put his hands in front of him but found they were still bound tightly behind him. The anger swelled as the image of his glorious escape faded away. But the cramp in his stomach made him forget his anger, for the moment, and he let Harry support him as he drank.

Sweet, glorious, refreshing water cascaded into his mouth. He could never remember water tasting so good. The cretin had never let him drink directly from the jug. The cretin had always soaked a piece of fabric, essentially a rag, and wrung the water into his mouth. Draco felt the cool water that didn't make it into his mouth, splashing down his face and into his lap. It felt so wonderful. He was in such ecstasy, he didn't realize he was choking. He wondered bitterly if he had forgotten how to drink properly.

Harry pulled the jug away from his mouth as Draco fell back to the floor in a coughing fit with his stomach cramping as if it were in a vice.

"You still think he's acting, Sirius?" Harry said.

"He'll do whatever it takes, including taking advantage of your good nature. Look at him. He's working you. He knows that you're too kind to let him suffer, so he's laying it on extra thick."

"Please." Draco croaked looking at the water jug. Harry pulled him up and held the water jug to his mouth to let him drink again.

When he had finished, the cretin said in a menacing voice, "What do you say to Harry?"

Draco looked down, desperately masking his fury. "Thank you, Harry."

The cretin spoke louder this time. "Look at him when you're talking to him."

Draco flinched as if he had hit him. He looked up at Harry and said quickly, "Thank you, Harry." Harry turned away, looking uneasy. He got up and grabbed a large piece of ham and a napkin. He rocked a tree stump over to Draco and put the meat on the napkin on the stump so Draco could reach it with his mouth.

Draco couldn't remember ham ever tasting so wonderful. The salty meat made his previously dry mouth water more than ever. There were some spices or seasonings on it. Something he knew he'd had before. Was it ... honey? He had almost forgotten what real food tasted like. Normally, he would have savored every bite but now he gulped it down in one swallow before anyone could take it away from him.

"You see? Now he's going to make himself sick." Sirius shook his head in disgust.

"I'll cut the pieces smaller," said Harry slicing off another chunk of ham.

Sirius stared at Harry. "It would have given him great pleasure to personally hand you over to Voldemort, Harry. Don't forget that."

"I know, Sirius," Harry looked at him to show him he was listening to him. "I'm just going to give him a little more."

Harry put the meat on the napkin for Draco and went back to sit next to the cretin.

"Sirius, are you sure we have to involve..." he broke off and looked toward Draco. Draco looked back down to his ham and pretended not to be listening.

"Yes, Harry. The fact of the matter is that I don't know how to do a memory charm. It's not something that the Ministry likes for non-Ministry personnel to know. Moony can do it once he gets his strength back, and more importantly, we can trust him."

"How is it that Profess-" Harry caught himself. "How is it that Moony knows how to do a memory charm?"

Draco quickly glanced at the cretin to see him smiling.

"I think he felt a little left out of the illegal fun when we were learning how to become animagus. So he taught himself the Oblivius charm."

"Oh," said Harry. "But it's been over a week. What are they going to think when they find him?"

"We'll think of a story to give him. It'll be all right, Harry. We'll arrange it so that by the time anyone finds him, Moony and I will be long gone."

"What do you mean? They won't find him right away? I thought you were just going to modify his memory and let him go?" there was a slight sense of panic in Harry's voice.

"He'll be fine, Harry. Honest. I really don't know why you would worry about this slimy little git. He would sell your soul to the devil for a knut."

"I'm not worried about him. I just... I don't want to kill him if we don't have to, that's all."

"Of course not," Sirius said. "Not if we don't have to."

Draco gulped, still savoring the lingering taste of meat on his tongue.

They were going to subject him to a memory charm. He didn't want to forget. He wanted to remember who had done this to him. He wanted to make them pay.

*****

Draco awoke one morning to hear voices from outside the cave. They were whispering to each. Draco strained to hear what they were saying.

Suddenly two forms blocked the light in the cave entrance. It was the cretin and somebody else. Draco squinted to make out the silhouette. He was slightly familiar to Draco. The sight of him brought back a memory from one of his Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. A deranged, axe-wielding Muggle. Of course, it hadn't been a psychotic Muggle, at all. It had been a boggart, which his professor helped him to defeat. Professor Lupin! His ex-professor, Remus Lupin was in the cave with them.

Any hope that he had come to rescue Draco was immediately dashed when it became clear that he had come with the cretin. I should have known, thought Draco. After all, he is a werewolf...

"Let's get this done with."

Remus Lupin bent down over Draco and looked at him sympathetically. "I'm sorry, Draco."

Draco's heart started to race. Was he going to be eaten by the werewolf?

Remus took his wand out and pointed it at Draco's forehead.

Draco desperately concentrated all his thoughts and energies to do one thing. Remember. He must remember the cretin. Remember his face, his words.

But as Remus chanted, "Obliviate", the images that Draco was clinging to slowly began to fade and he felt a calm, nothingness take over his mind and he knew no more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPILOGUE

 

Inside the Great Hall, students were chatting noisily and the smell of ham and sweet potatoes filled the air. The enchanted ceiling was cloudy and a light snow was falling but mysteriously never hitting the ground.

Pansy Parkinson cut her meat and looked over to Draco who was sitting silently, staring at the food on his plate. He hadn't touched it. Pansy hoped this wasn't going to be another bad day.

"Aren't you hungry?" she asked timidly.

Draco stared down at his plate and didn't answer.

Draco had had good days and bad days since he was found wandering the streets of Hogsmeade two weeks earlier. He hadn't been able to remember anything of where he had been.

His father, Lucius Malfoy, had refused to allow his son to be subjected to the excruciating procedure that might restore his memory. This had surprised Pansy. She had always thought that Lucius Malfoy was a cold, uncaring man. He had shown in his small way that he did care deeply about his son's welfare, and she was grateful for it. But that didn't make it any easier. Draco had changed. He was no longer the funny, considerate friend she had grown so close to over the years. He was distant with her; cold. She wished she could help him; bring the old Draco back. The Draco she knew and loved. She hid the pity she felt for him; it would only make him angry.

"After dinner, we can work some more on your Animagus essay," she said.

Draco didn't look up. "I've got plans."

Pansy took a deep breath. "Draco," she said delicately, "McGonagall only gave you an extension until Friday. You really shouldn't put it off any more." She looked at him sadly. "You used to be so excited about learning how to become an Animagus."

"There're more important things in life, Pansy."

Pansy bit her lip. She knew it was asking for trouble to push him on the matter.

Draco continued to stare at his plate wrinkling his brow as if trying to remember something from a dream.

"I thought you liked ham?" she said, taking a deep breath. "Here, I'll cut some for you."

As she reached across the table, a ray of candlelight flickered off the blade of her knife and lit up Draco's face. In one swift movement, Draco grabbed her wrist tightly and pushed her back.

"I don't want any damn ham," he seethed. "Stop treating me like a child!"

Pansy fought the tears that soon fell from her terrified eyes. A few students nervously glanced over but quickly looked away when they saw who it was.

"I'm sorry, Draco."

Draco sneered. "What? Are you going to cry? God, you're pathetic."

Pansy looked down at her lap, tears streaming down her face. "I miss you, Draco," she whispered.

Draco looked at her contemptuously. "What the hell are you talking about? You miss me? I'm sitting right here! You're talking like an idiot!"

Pansy sniffed. "I just miss the old Draco."

"Pull yourself together. You're disgusting. These are serious times, Pansy. You've got to toughen up if you're going to support the right side in the war."

Pansy had heard Draco make comments such as this, more and more since he had come back from his disappearance. This time, she found she couldn't keep her usual silence. "I don't want to fight in a war, Draco! I just want to be with my friends, do well in my classes, and be a normal student! Watch Quidditch games... Don't you even like Quidditch anymore?"

"Quidditch is just a game, Pansy. I know what's important now, the success of the Dark Lord and I'll be there to help him to that end."

Pansy wiped her wet face with a napkin. "Why does it have to be you? We're just kids."

Draco scoffed. "If you want to be a kid, why don't you just go up to your room and play with your dolls, then?"

She looked deep into his eyes, only to see hatred and loathing. "Draco, I-"

"You heard me!" he spat. "Get out of my sight. Go to your room. Better yet, go to the first years' dormitory where you belong, you pathetic loser."

She desperately tried to mask her pain as she hurriedly got up from the table and ran towards the doors of the Great Hall. She didn't stop until she got to the corridor. She looked back through the doors, hoping to see him running after her, apologetic and concerned. The old Draco would have done so.

But he was still in his seat at the table, conversing with Vincent. And laughing.

Pansy wiped away her tears. He was right, of course. They weren't kids anymore. They could never go back. It was time to let go of the past. "Time to get tough," she said, with new determination.

 

~The End~

 

//
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