Notes: Thanks to rosskpr for beta reading and giving good suggestions. She has been very patient with me. Chapter 21 is nearly done as well, just one more scene.
Comments and questions are always welcome. I find they inspire me to write further, knowing someone else cares about the story.
On to the Chapter:
Malfoy Family Plots
May 18, 1998
When the Auror brought Draco back to their cell that evening, Draco turned to speak before the man could close the door. “I’ve heard that the decontamination of the castle from dark residue is holding up the rest of the work.”
The Auror shrugged.
“I think I can help make it faster. But I need to talk to Filch.”
“Filch?” The Auror raised his eyebrows.
“He is coordinating the volunteers.”
“You’re not exactly a volunteer.”
“I was given a choice,” Draco said, his tone haughty. “I chose to help.”
The Auror looked at him disdainfully.
“Fine, Filch is coordinating the volunteers and conscripts. I still need to speak with him.”
“I’ll make a note in the daily report. Whether they see fit to pass it on, is up to them.”
“Make sure you tell them it’s for the sake of efficiency.”
The Auror floated a scroll toward himself and made an exaggerated note on it. It must have had some sort stiffening charm on it, since the Auror did not lean it against a wall or any solid object. He gave Draco a smirk. “Satisfied, conscript?”
Draco ignored him and strode through the door and let the Auror close it behind him, pretending for a moment that he was still at the Manor with house elves to clean and flunkies to open and close doors for them, allowing them to focus on important things.
He hoped his father was alert. They had a lot to discuss.
Lucius glanced up as Draco entered. Good. “Father, I have a plan.”
His father’s eyes focused on him, and Draco felt a thrill. They had done this before, planning for Slytherin Quidditch wins, planning for one success after another. He ignored the fact that so many of those ended with his father being disappointed in him, usually due to Harry bloody Potter and the know-it-all Mudblood.
By the time Draco needed plans for something bigger than schoolboy victories, his father had already been lost to him, his spirit broken and his mind distracted. This time his father was paying attention to him, and the plan was for their family’s success. This time, he would win.
“Harry Potter was put on our work crew today.”
“They risked put their precious Golden Boy by putting him on a cleansing crew?” Lucius’ voice rose in disbelief.
“I don’t think McGonagall knows. But Filch never liked Potter, and he is running the assignments. Potter knows nothing. He can’t draw the runes—he never took any more classes than he absolutely had to—and he hadn’t a clue of how to go about it. He almost went into the room with his wand.”
“You should get him taken off the team.” His mother insisted, speaking from their cramped bedroom. “Inform McGonagall, she’ll take care of it. If not, I’ll talk to her.”
“I believe he was just there to substitute, but I don’t think that would suit my needs. I want Potter on my crew.”
“Whatever for?” The incredulous question brought Draco’s mother out from the bedroom. This was a conversation that needed all three of them paying full attention. Draco knew it, and he suspected his mother was becoming aware of it. “Draco, you know it’s dangerous to have someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing assisting in the work. One false move…”
“He will need to be taught. I will graciously teach him.” His father let out a most un-Malfoy-like snort.
“I will teach him magical theory.”
“Draco, no! You will not teach that… boy our—” Draco’s mother stopped, the distaste in her voice giving way to understanding. She had showed the Malfoy Book to McGonagall. She understood necessity.
“I will teach him everything. The theory of magic. The necessary precautions. The workings that are needed to maintain the balance. The ways to protect the blood…”
As he spoke, his father’s face cleared, and by the end of it, he started to chuckle.
“I will teach him the beauty of magic. I will teach him life.”
“You have never impressed me quite as much as right now, son.”
Draco smiled. His father saw it too.
“What do you need?”
“Well, first, I need to talk to Filch. I suspect he still does not like Potter. I think I can convince him to keep sending Potter to our work crew.”
Lucius nodded. “I think, even from here that can be arranged.”
“McGonagall may be a problem, if she finds out where he is working.” Draco did not think the old cat would tolerate her Golden Boy working in an environment that not only risked Potter’s magic and his life, but also risked his chance at fatherhood. “She does not have respect for the magic, so she fears the dangers.”
Lucius gave a disgusted snort. “She would have you all work in ignorance of the dangers, limiting you to only one type of magic, as if the others did not exist.”
“What will her coddled students do when their own magic turns to bite them?” His mother asked.
“I don’t think she believes it ever will. ‘The pure magic taught at Hogwarts could never possibly harm them like our evil dark magic can.’” Draco inflected the words with disgusted sarcasm.
“How are you going to convince Potter to learn from you?”
“So far he seems resistant. He only wanted to learn exactly as much as he thinks he needed to do the cleansing.”
“Might I suggest… a practical demonstration?” Lucius enquired, his voice regaining that sly tone that Draco had missed.
“I don’t understand. We already have a practical reason for him to learn, but that has not influenced him.”
“Potter does not seem to recognize the danger of dealing with ungrounded magic. Perhaps he could have… a little accident?”
“I need him alive.”
“Nothing life-threatening, son. Nothing even threatening his magic. I only suggest that it is possible for him to have a small accident that demonstrates to him that the dangers are real, and that precautions might be necessary. He has been our enemy for a long time. I think Potter might ignore a recommendation for safety, if it were phrased in a particular way.”
“And then I can chastise him for ignoring me.” Draco grinned at the thought.
“No. Then you rescue him from his own incompetence, full of concern.”
“I don’t think he’d be convinced of any concern I might have for him.”
“If Potter were hurt on your watch, you would be punished for his idiocy. I think even Potter might recognize that as a valid fear on your part.”
“And being the noble Gryffindor he is…”
“… He will learn it for your sake, lest he put you at risk. That would not be in keeping with his righteous self-image.”
Draco gave his father a smirk. This was the father he respected so very much—the man who could always manage to find a way through the labyrinth, not stopping until he succeeded. This was the father that Voldemort had nearly crushed. It seemed that Voldemort had not succeeded.
“Once I get him learning the theory of what we are doing—if I can get him to appreciate what is behind the magic he casts without understanding it—I’ll need to entice him toward learning more. He will probably have to visit me here, as I cannot imagine I’d be allowed to teach him to that extent while we are working.”
“I can put up with his presence,” his father said with distaste, “but I can’t see him wanting to spend any time with us, not voluntarily.”
“I just have to find the right lure. The problem is, if he doesn’t know something he tends to go to that Mudblood friend of his to do his research for him.”
Lucius thought for a moment. “I can think of something she can’t find, no matter how much she researches.”
Draco stared at his father.
“You want me to share Malfoy family traditions? With Potter?”
His father gazed calmly at him.
“I won’t be able to bind the knowledge. None of us have our wands.” Potter still had Draco’s.
“You will have to bind it the old way.”
Draco stared at his father, stunned. To enter into that type of relationship with Potter… To have that kind of connection... Of course, he already had a slight connection. Potter was Head of the Black family, after all. He remembered the feel of the link, made stronger as they both were standing on Black land. It had faded, once he paid the necessary respect. If he worked at it, he could feel a slight twinge of the connection, but that was all. This, however... This was stronger, and permanent.
“How serious are you, Draco, about seeing your plan through? Potter has won. He is in a position of power. You can help him keep it, value it, use it.”
“He doesn’t know how to value it. The git uses his fame to preen for his audience; he never accomplishes anything worthwhile.”
“He won.” Lucius’ voice was odd. The note of finality was marred by pure disbelief.
“If I bind him the old way, I’ll be bound to him as well. I am not ready for an apprentice, let alone a brother in Magic. Let alone with him.”
Lucius remained silent. Draco wanted to hate it that he did that. The silence spoke louder than any words his father could have said to him. It spoke of respect, of trust, of waiting for Draco to bow to necessity. His father knew he would do it. Because he was Malfoy. Because he would win.
He turned to his father. “Would you at least do it with me? Both of you? Just in case…”
Lucius closed his eyes, hiding the pain. Draco knew it would be there, but he let his father have that privacy. If his father did not consent to this ceremony, Draco doubted that they would ever have a chance again. They had not had a chance since before The Dark—curse it! Voldemort began to use Malfoy Manor. The last time they had connected as a family was before his father had been imprisoned in Azkaban two years before.
Before they did what was necessary, Draco wanted to feel the Magic of his father and his mother wrapping around him, to feel the strength, the cunning, the intelligence and caring, to feel what it meant to be Malfoy.
Lucius spoke softly. “I believe Mr Potter will more easily accept the ceremony if you were to approach him about it alone. I cannot imagine him willingly entering into such familiarity with me.”
At that moment, Draco hated Potter more than he ever had in his life. More than when Potter had snubbed him in their first year. More than any of the Quidditch victories that Potter snatched out from under him. More than when he got his father imprisoned in Azkaban. Draco knew his father was right. This was one more joy that Potter would snatch from Draco.
The Unity of Family Rite was held once a year, at midwinter. Draco had gone home for it each year, after starting Hogwarts. It could also be held to bind a new person to the family. Draco would have done that willingly, even with Potter, if it meant that he could bring Potter to his senses, if he could get Potter to see what the Wizarding World was throwing away. The blood traitors had abandoned this rite, one of the deepest joys Draco knew, because it involved a drop, a single drop, of blood from each family member. And blood was sometimes used in dark magic. Blood was Life. Magic was Soul. Each year, he had been bound, blood and bone and breath to Malfoy Family, and they had been bound to him.
In the winter of his sixth year, his father had been in Azkaban. And in the winter of his seventh, Voldemort was already using the Manor as a regular base of operations. The Rite of Family Unity was done without outsiders. Draco wondered how he never realized what it meant that Voldemort did not respect the rite. And this year, his father would be in Azkaban again, and Draco would never again be able to celebrate it with him.
Some part of Draco was amazed at the extent he was willing to go to achieve this victory. Now that he was on the verge of losing everything, all the debris in his life fell away, and he saw what was important. He was losing his father. He might lose his mother. They had lost the hope that Voldemort had held out in front of them like the lure in a fox hunt.
The knowledge of what mattered sharpened in his mind, glittering like crystal. Family. Heritage. Their culture. Voldemort would never have given that to him, and in his excesses, had robbed his followers, and the Wizarding World, of the very thing they thought he would bring them.
But he would not be accepting Potter as a member of the Malfoy family. He would use the alternate, for close allies of the family. He would use this lesser form partially because it could be done at other times of year, but mostly because, as much as he needed Potter for his plan, the Gryffindor was not, and never would be, part of the Malfoy family.
Doing the lesser form with its more flexible timing meant he could have felt his father’s magic one last time before his father was locked away, if he were doing the ceremony with almost anyone but Potter. Potter would never complete the rite if his father were part of it. Draco knew that with absolute certainty. He wondered if he ever again would be able to enact the Rite of Family Unity. If he ever again would be able to feel his father and mother in his magic, in his soul.
The Plan Commences
May 19, 1998
The next afternoon, they were almost back to the full, regular team. Draco had been correct—Potter had not returned.
Adrien was again at the cauldron, and Daphne and Theo worked by his side. Pansy was not there that day, as her father’s trial had been at the end of the previous day, and he was scheduled to be sentenced today. Her mother’s trial was likely to be tomorrow—they seemed to be working their way through the Death Eaters who were actually in the battle quickly. Draco thought this probably meant that the trials were going as expected for the winners, and convictions were raining down like confetti.
He wasn’t surprised. He wished he had a newspaper, even the Prophet, to see what was happening. The Aurors told them little, unless they thought it would demoralize them, and the news he got from his crew was limited to what they could glean from their guards or from their days at trials or funerals. Theo had been a wealth of information that morning. Most of those at his father’s funeral were likewise incarcerated, allowed bereavement leave just long enough to mourn before being shuttled back to their various cells. The sheer number of restraining bracelets and anklets needed for a funeral of one of the Dark Lord’s followers was staggering. Theo had said there were at least ten Aurors for the funeral. It could not be held on Nott land. Draco grieved for Theo at that sign of disrespect. They used the proper herbs, and Theo sang the chants as he was now Head of his family, although he had not had the chance to accept it with all due ceremony. Draco trusted that would be enough. Theo could not be sure. Without having accepted the family as its head, he could not feel it as fully as he should. Theo didn’t say much more, only that he had been allowed to bring his father to be interred on Nott land. One of the Aurors had Nott blood from several generations back—from an ancestor who had married out—was able to accompany him else he might not have been allowed that much. He had not been allowed to use his wand, so he carried his father in his arms to the crypt, following the oldest traditions.
Despite all of that, Theo worked with them as if it was any other day—as if he hadn’t just said goodbye to his father, on land not his own, and with outsiders present. Draco knew his own face would be just as cold as Theo’s, and knew it didn’t mean what outsiders thought it meant. Such emotions were not to be shared.
They continued to work. It was difficult with three instead of four inside the room, especially once they got further in their room of the day and there was more space to cover, but Draco would not begrudge any of them a chance to see their families, in whatever circumstances they could contrive.
Filch stopped by their worksite, just as they were clearing up. Draco looked up from the cauldron he’d been cleaning for the next day, relieved. He didn’t like Filch, but the man could be used.
Theo took over at the cauldron, with Daphne seeing to the brushes and protective clothing. He could trust them to put them into the carry box so that they would be ready to use the next day. They could not risk holes or contamination, especially with their makeshift materials.
“Someone said you wanted to talk to me.” Filch said.
“You put Potter on our crew yesterday.”
“I did. I’d do it again. Thinks he’s above the rules. He and that friend of his were acting like none of this matters. I caught them, fair to rights.”
“But why our crew?”
“Th’ Headmistress says you lot have to finish your work before the rest of it gets done. Said it’s dangerous, that I should keep others away from you all. Not sure what painting a room with water has to do with anything, waste of time if you ask me. But she said to leave you all alone, let you get to it, so it would be safe for others.”
“There was a day when we could hang up troublemakers in irons. I figure troublemakers ought to be set to take the risks, especially when they made the mess in the first place. I figure, I can put Potter in a spot where he can’t make trouble for hardworking people. I see what you’re doing. How hard can it be? But th’ Headmistress says it’s dangerous. That you lot have to be careful, and the rest of us should stay away. Potter can take his chances with the rest of the troublemakers.”
Filch couldn’t seem to decide whether the work Draco and his friends were doing was dangerous or useless. In turn, Draco didn’t know whether to be pleased or offended. McGonagall had to know that what they were doing was important, necessary, and dangerous, but she clearly didn’t explain it very well to Filch. And Filch was acting as if Potter and Draco were equally to blame for the damage. He cringed inwardly. Still, the man could be persuaded.
“Yes, our work is dangerous. And it is necessary, as the headmistress said. Is our group the only one doing it?”
“The Headmistress said you lot are the only ones what knows how. Said you could put some of your skills to good use.” Draco heard the ‘for once’ in that comment.
“With just our group, it must be causing delays for you.”
Filch nodded. “Had to send some of the volunteers away. No sense in having them here getting in the way if there’s not work for them to do.”
Draco could see the Auror who guarded them shift uneasily. Theo, Adrien and Daphne had slowed down to give him the time he needed. It was so good to be among people who understood, who could act on subtle cues. Still, he’d have to convince Filch quickly.
“Pansy is out today. It takes a bit longer when we are missing someone. Some days we can do two rooms, when we have all of us.”
“The other teams are waiting on you. There’re only so many places they can work. Bunch of Aurors and Ministry brains came and put warnings all over. They’ve made her a bloody maze to get around in.”
It took a scant moment for Draco to realize Filch meant the castle. “How many d’you need?” The caretaker asked.
“It would be good if we always had five.”
“I could send someone to fill in when they take one of you lot away.”
“It needs to be someone who knows what they’re doing. I spent too much time training Potter yesterday, before he finally got it.”
A gleam sparked in Filch’s eyes. “He knows it now?” he asked.
“He does. But it takes practice. It’s not enough just to do it sometimes.” The lure was set.
“So, I should add someone to your team regular. Someone that knows the work?”
“Yes. Someone who can do it.”
“Potter worked out yesterday, you said?”
“Much as I hate the git, he could made to understand, so long as I gave him thorough instruction. With only a bit more coaching, all he would need is practice.”
“I can make sure he gets lots of practice.”
Draco repressed a grin. “That would certainly help us do our work faster. It would be a shame if it weren’t ready by September.”
Filch grimaced, likely at the thought of the throngs of students filling the halls. Draco had heard too many of the caretaker’s grumbles, especially when he was part of the Inquisitorial Squad in his fifth year, not to have gotten the measure of the man.
“One more thing: Potter did the easiest task last time. I’ll probably need to spend a bit more time training him if we want him to carry his weight.”
The grin on Filch’s face was frightening, wider than it should be, showing all of his crooked, yellowing teeth, making him look quite demented. “I’ll arrange for the two of you to have some time at the beginning of your shift for further training. I trust you to be thorough?”
“Oh, yes. I will make sure he learns everything he needs to know.”
Filch nodded and walked away, mumbling.
“What was that all about, Draco? Theo asked quietly. “Surely you don’t want Potter on our crew.”
“Oh, I think I do.” The look on Theo’s face was priceless. “I have my reasons. Potter is ignorant, but what if he weren’t?”
Theo looked at him. “Never mind.” He looked over at the Aurors. “There’s a reason for everything. And Theo? Rule Sixteen.” Theo looked mutinous for a moment, then nodded. Slytherins supported each other, unless there was a reason not to.
“All right, Draco. But this better be good.”
The Auror gestured them to pick up the carry box and follow him. Draco nodded to Theo. Without magic, it made the most sense for the taller, stronger man to carry it. Draco knew his strengths, and did not need to lower himself to manual labour. Theo picked it up and they set off. Halfway, they stashed the carry box in a room well away from the tainted areas, and sealed the door.
Another Auror met them there, and the two cast a few spells on their controllers, to transfer control of three of the minders to the second device. The second guard guided the other three Slytherins to the Dungeons, and the first brought Draco back to his own rooms.
Once the door was closed behind him, he gave his father a nod. The first phase was completed.
When he sat down, it hit him. He would have to put up with Potter, every day, for the foreseeable future. He groaned and dropped his head in his arms.
“Draco, what is it?” His father asked.
“Don’t ask,” he mumbled into his arms.
Chapter 1 (If you've not read the story yet, start here...)
Chapter 19 Part 1 (if you missed the previous chapter, click here)
Chapter 19 Part 2 (or click here if you only missed Part 2)
Chapter 19 Part 3 (or click here if you only missed Part 3)
Chapter 20 Part 2 (on to the next part)