Friday, January 20, 2012


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IMPORTANT NOTE Welcome to DV Chapter Thirteen. If you are just joining us, great. If you have already read part one and are here for part two then click right here.

Dedication With all thanks to my betas, Amy, Ali, Brian, Mahoney, Clary, and Aja, who read the last part and contributed a certain amount of spasmodic weeping and a lot of emoticons. But mainly this chapter is dedicated to all of you You who have been reading this fic from the beginning, however long youve been with me, I feel Ive changed and grown so much as a writer thanks to your feedback and support. I am allowed to get mushy because Book Five is coming out, so you - I love you all.

Draco Veritas Chapter 1 The Malfoy Family Code of Conduct

Part One Home Country

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I would be happy enough, living in my home country, if Pelias would give his consent. May the gods see fit to free me from my labors, said Jason. And his voice is at once that of the ever-hypocritical lover trying to soften the cruelty of his desertion, and that of the hero who looks, weary and detached, over the scene where he is obliged to kill, cheat, travel, desert, and, finally, to be killed.

-Roberto Calasso.

Master, said the house elf-nervously, there is someone in the library.

Thaddeus Nott folded down the left side of the paper he was reading (The Daily Prophet, business section, Wizarding Market Update Wands Waver As Broomsticks Soar) and glared at the elf over his spectacles. Nonsense, he said. There cant possibly be anyone in the library.

Yes, sir. Binky is understanding that, sir. Except that, sir...


There is someone in the library, sir.

Nott threw the paper down with a bark of exasperation. Is it one of the children?

No, sir.

Well, who the bloody hell else can it be? I havent asked any guests here, Marthas off at the spa in Theamelpos, and the only uninvited person who can get through the wards is the Dark Lord... He paused, and paled markedly. Its not the Dark Lord, is it?

No, sir, it is not someone Binky is knowing, sir.

Oh, bloody hell, Ill go see who it is, Nott snapped, propelling himself to his feet. He winced a little - his back hurt these days, more than it once had. Not enough exercise, that was the problem. Too much time spent slaving away in dark little rooms, plotting with Francis and the rest of them. Get out of my way, you infernal bat-eared moron, he snarled, aiming a solid kick at Binky that sent the little creature sailing across the room into the bookcase.

At least he still had his excellent aim, Nott thought with some satisfaction, setting off down the hall towards the library. In his day, hed been one of the best Beaters Slytherin had ever seen. Tom Riddle himself had once congratulated him on a game. Hed never forgotten it.

If Malfoy Manor was both the oldest and possibly the grandest wizarding house in England, Notwick Estate was the wickedest. Its dungeons were the darkest, its gardens the most foreboding, and its corridors the most reliably unlit. The children were forever barking their shins on the legs of chairs but Nott refused to invest in more expensive torches or more powerful Illuminating Charms. His grandfather had liked it dark, and so did he.

He navigated the staircase to the third floor largely by memory, one hand guiding him along the rough stone wall. The library door was open slightly when he reached it, and pale light spilled out through the crack, throwing a narrow golden bar along the floor.

He stopped dead in the corridor and frowned. It wasnt that he hadnt believed Binky, but - well, perhaps he hadnt quite believed the daft little creature could possibly be correct. No one could get through the wards surrounding Notwick. No one. This had to be one of his children, playing a prank. He strode to the library door, threw it open -

The angry exclamation died on his lips. He stared around him in bewilderment. The library was full of light, a deep gold color like summer twilight, and like summer twilight it was tinged with a dark red. It poured from the walls, ceiling and windows and suffused the fire in the grate with layers of deeper color, as if thin sheets of hammered gold had been laid over the flames.

And in the center of the room a boy was standing, very still, his arms at his sides. He was wandless, in wizarding robes that hung loosely open to show dark clothes underneath. For a moment, Thaddeus Nott, who was hardly a man given to wild flights of fancy, wondered if he were seeing a ghost made corporeal. Those clothes, that looked as if they had been tailored fifty years ago, that posture, the easy tilt of his head. But this boys hair was like luminous candlelight and his face was warm and open, and he smiled as Nott hung in the doorway. Thaddeus, he said. You arent glad to see me?

H-how did you get into my house? If youve tampered with the wards -

Wards cannot keep out the one who made them, said the boy.

The Dark Lord Voldemort made those wards, barked Nott. I am under his protection -

Voldemort, the boy mused. I dont think I like that name very much. I suspect Lucius talked me into it. He always had a regrettable tendency towards the baroque.

I dont understand, muttered Nott, dizzily, but he almost did understand. Even as the possibility loomed before him, monstrous, unbelievable, his mind rejected it. He flung himself forward into the room, and the door banged shut behind him. He could have sworn the boy had gestured at it with his left hand - Stop that, Nott roared. You brat - you meddle in what you dont understand. Do you really wish to risk the wrath of the Dark Lord?

The Dark Lord whom you betrayed? The Dark Lord whom you renounced and threw to the rabble? You would rather have accepted the bitter charity of your enemies than lay down your life in loyalty -

It is not for you to rebuke me! cried Thaddeus Nott, forgetting for a moment that he was shouting at a child he had never seen before, seeing instead the accusatory face of his master, whom he had sworn to follow and obey, and whom he had betrayed. It is for my master to do so! And he has forgiven me!

Has he? asked the boy, his blue eyes reflecting the gold light in the room; and then, with a look of indolent amusement, he swept his left hand towards Nott. It described a shimmering silver arc in the air, which turned before Notts eyes into a razor-edged silver disc. The disc launched itself across the room with unbelievable speed, spinning itself into a blur; it struck Nott in the throat, severing his head neatly from his body as cleanly as a razor might slice a scrap of parchment, killing him instantly.

Tom watched, one light eyebrow arched in amusement, as the decapitated body thumped to the Aubusson carpet. The bloody, severed head itself rolled across the room, fetching up at his feet.

With a cats grace, Tom knelt and stared down into the dead face of Thaddeus Nott.

Perhaps your master has forgiven you, Tom said. But I have not.

As he reached to shut the staring black eyes with the tips of his fingers, a smile touched the corners of his mouth. He straightened up, and looked about himself in satisfaction.

One, he remarked, to the empty room.

When Rhysenn finished telling her story, Ron stood up abruptly, detaching himself from her hands and her cloak, and went to stand on the edge of the roof.

It was like standing at the edge of the world. The sky was not properly black but a deep transparent blue like the water at the oceans floor, five miles down. Charcoaled streaks of clouds touched the tops of the mountains in the distance and somewhere far below there was the sound of water crashing over rocks - a river? Or a waterfall?

He could hear Rhysenn behind him, getting to her feet. He turned around and looked at her. She looked smaller than he had first thought she was, and the wind took her black hair and whipped it across her face, hiding her expression. She had hair like Harrys hair, that black so black it looked unreal, as if each strand had been individually dipped in ink. Hair that made you think that if you touched it, the color would come off on your fingers. Harry, Ron thought, and felt that sharp slicing pain that came with thoughts of Harry, that was clean and sharp as the cutting edge of a piece of glass.

Did my tale upset you? Rhysenn said, pushing her hair out of her small white face. If it did, then I am sorry. That was not my intention.

No, Ron said. No. It wasnt you. Hate that was once love is the strongest hate there is, he thought, and realized how close he had been to hating Harry and hating Hermione and damning them along with himself for the mistakes they had all made, the ways in which they were imperfect. I was just thinking, he said, that Im a Diviner. So why cant I see what I should do? I dont know what to do. I wish I was more like - like Malfoy. Well, except for the being a giant arsehole part. Its just - its easier when only one thing matters to you.

No one is that simple, said Rhysenn. Nor do you have many choices. You are a prisoner, after all.

There are always choices, said Ron. I could throw myself off the roof right now. You couldnt stop me. Splatter myself all over the rocks. Voldemort wouldnt have much use for me then.

Is that what you want to do? Rhysenn looked at him curiously, sidelong, her eyes gray and bright. Kill yourself?

Ron pulled his cloak close about himself and shivered. No. I want to live. Does that make me a bad person?

I dont know, Rhysenn said. I dont know very much about people. I have only ever known the Malfoys.

Ron snorted. If you can call them people, he said. His hand was still at his collar, holding his cloak shut. The brooch Hermione-who-was-not-Hermione had given him, with its intricate design and winking single jewel, pressed against his hand. With a decided motion, he pulled it free and held it in his palm. You are marked now twice, Voldemort had said to him. With my sign.

She had never really loved him. Ron drew his hand back and flung the brooch hard; it arced out and tumbled down towards the darkness below, striking silver sparks from the air as it fell. Ron watched it go. The wind took his unfastened cloak and pulled it from his shoulders and it spun away from him as well, caught by the winds edge, fluttering and falling.

All your protections gone, said Rhysenn at his side. If he hadnt known better he would have thought she sounded sad.

No, Ron said. He squared his shoulders resolutely. Not all of them.

We interrupt Wake Up With Warbeck to bring you this emergency bulletin from the Daily Prophet. A surprise attack on a wizarding house in Devon during the night has left the magical community stunned. As of this report, there is one confirmed death. Information is sparse but it has been confirmed that a Killing Curse was not responsible for the death, although sources claim that a message was found written in blood on a wall inside the --

Hermione, groping blearily for the volume control on the Wizarding Wireless Alarm next to the bed, succeeded in knocking the radio to the floor. It made a sproinging noise, popped a coil, and fell silent. She gazed down at it for a moment, hanging off the edge of the bed. Oh, she muttered under her breath, honestly. What a way to wake up. As if we hadnt --

She broke off, suddenly wide-eyed. We. Of course. She wasnt sleeping alone in this bed. She bit her lip, remembering the night shed passed falling asleep with Dracos arms around her, her hands knotted across his back, her legs flung over his, tangled together. They must have untangled themselves during the night, somehow. She had no memory of it. Shed slept like the dead.

Hermione pulled herself back onto the bed, cleared her throat, and turned around. Draco, are you --

The words died on her lips. Apparently, shed been wrong. She was alone in the bed. The other side of the bed was unoccupied, the sheets pulled smooth, the pillow, jammed against the headboard, still crumpled where hed slept on it.

A feeling of unease washed over her. Then she told herself she was just being silly. Surely hed merely gotten up to go take a shower. Hed been sleeping badly lately, after all. She swung her legs over the side of the bed and padded, barefoot, into the living room.

It was empty. The fireplace was full of smashed glass. The wall was dented where the candlestick shed thrown had struck it. Dracos jacket was on the floor, but his boots were gone. She could feel the blood rise into her face and hurried towards the bathroom, pausing only to pick up the antidote flask she had thrown the night before. It had rolled to a stop beside the couch. For a moment, she cradled it against her chest. Then she tucked it into the pocket of her dressing-gown and hurried down the hall to the bathroom.

It was empty, although a damp towel flung over a rail showed her that he had, indeed, showered that morning, or some time during the night. The second bedroom was also empty, as was the kitchen. By the time Hermione reached the door to the balcony and flung it open, her heart was pounding.

The balcony was bare and the wind was icy - shivering, she slid her hands into her pockets. She picked her way over to the railings and gazed blindly down at the view of Diagon Alley below, its wheel-rutted streets glazed gunmetal gray with dirty snow. Crowds of black-clad witches and wizards, hoods up over their faces, hurried to and fro on the pavement. He could have been any one of them. Hermione tightened her grip on the flask in her pocket.

À la claire fontaine

Men allant promener

Jai trouv� leau si belle

Que je my suis baign�

Sous les feuilles dun chêne

Je me suis fait s�cher

Sur la plus haute branche

Un rossignol chantait

Il y a longtemps que je taime

Jamais je ne toublierai

Il y a longtemps que je taime

Jamais je ne toublierai

When he opened his eyes, she stopped singing, startled. He had been asleep so long that she had almost forgotten that she was waiting for him to wake up. When he stirred and exhaled and opened his eyes slowly, she broke off and leaned over him, her long hair brushing his hand, and whispered, Harry?

The green eyes looked up at her, leaded by their long black lashes. His sopping hair was pasted to his forehead in limp dark streaks. He had already sweated through four pairs of pajamas and the ones he wore now were comically oversized on him. Hermione? he said, squinting up at her. His voice was raspy-soft, vague with sleep. Is that you?

No, she said, and reached for the glass of water on the bedside table. No, its not Hermione.

I searched for you on the beach but I couldnt find you, he whispered, his eyes fixed on her but not seeing her. I wanted to tell you I was looking for him -

She halted with the glass in her hand, arrested by curiosity. Who are you looking for?

Ron, he said, impatiently, as if she ought to know this. I lost him, but Im going to find him again.

She lowered the glass of water to his mouth. Please drink, she said, but he turned his head away irritably and the water splashed down over his chin and onto his already soaked pajamas. His hand went to his throat and he closed his fingers as if he expected to find something there, but they closed on air. Your Epicyclical Charm is gone, she said. Have you lost it, Harry?

He shook his head fretfully. I left it for you, he whispered. With my letters. You got my letters, didnt you? I told you to look after Malfoy. Hes not well -

He started to struggle up to a sitting position, but she put a hand on his chest and pushed him back down. Weak as a kitten, he flopped back onto the pillows. Youre not well, b�b�, she said. Its not Draco thats ill, its you. And you need your rest.

He turned his head into the pillow, his eyes shut. Across his chest, he held his left hand tightly with his right, as if it were injured, although, when she had looked at it earlier, she had found thathe skin was unmarked. His breathing slowed, and he cried out a name. She wondered what he was dreaming.

Hermione was in the kitchen when she heard the door of the hotel room open and close. She had been making a new batch of the antidote -- Add tisane of bloodroot, flower of antimony, wormwood infusion, powdered mandrake -- when she heard the click of the lock. She dropped the pestle shed been using to smash the mandrake to powder, and bolted out of the kitchen.

Draco was standing in front of the hotel room door, unbuckling the front of his cloak. His hood was down and there were flakes of snow caught in his hair. He looked up as she raced into the room, a startled expression crossing his face as she flung herself at him, almost knocking him back into the wall.

I thought something happened --

His arms went around her and for a moment he held her so hard that she winced as the buckles on the front of his cloak dug into her skin through her blouse. Then, as if suddenly recollecting himself, he pushed her away. Be careful, he said. Theres ash all over my clothes.

Hermione glanced down at herself. The front of her white nightgown was smudged with dark gray streaks. I see that, she said, irritation beginning to flood over her relief. And where were you? You could have told me you were going out--

You were asleep. I didnt want to wake you. His voice was light, careless. He undid the last buckle on his cloak and threw it over the back of a nearby armchair. A pale cloud of ash rose from it, almost making Hermione cough. Sorry, he said. There were streaks of soot on his face; what she had thought was snow in his hair, she now realized, was ash. We went to bed rather late, if you remember.

His casual use of the phrase we went to bed threw Hermione briefly. She felt herself blush; Draco noticed, and smiled a blandly engaging smile at her.

I remember, she said tightly. That doesnt mean you should just go haring off without me, you know. I thought we were in this together.

We seem to be in a lot of things together, Draco said, pulling off his jumper. He threw it on top of his cloak, and went to work on his shirt buttons. Suddenly.

Hermione blinked at him. Where did you go, Draco?

Floo Hub, he said, pulling his shirt off. He was wearing a t-shirt under it. There was ash around the collar.

Looking for a lead on Harry?

No, I just have a kinky thing for fireplaces. Yes, looking for a lead on Harry.

And you went without me?

Do you actually want me to respond to that or can we both agree the answer is fairly self-evident?

If you do that again, Ill -

Youll what? He flung himself into the armchair, shedding ash all over the red leather, and went to work on the laces of his dragonhide boots. Or after Ive spent a bracing morning getting knocked into various fireplaces by the security trolls at the Floo Hub while looking for your misplaced boyfriend, youll stand there with your hands on your hips and glare at me like I just bashed your cat in the head with a steel-toed boot? Oh, wait. YOURE ALREADY DOING THAT.

Hermione glared at him. Are you done?

Draco glared back. No. Im just getting started. Im considering it as a career. Whining for England. He yanked off his left boot and tossed it on the floor. I need coffee.

Not until you take your antidote, said Hermione automatically.

Fuck my antidote, said Draco with great satisfaction. Fuck it upside down and sideways.

You really do need coffee, Hermione said. As repartee goes, that was not up to your usual par.

Draco took off his second boot, and dropped it with a deliberate thud. Its early yet.

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