A Sixth year (pre-HBP) story: Harry decides the best way to fight back is to take the DA to the next level. He succeeds better than he thought he would. In this chapter, Draco realizes his options...
Tuesday, January 7, 1997
Draco Malfoy stalked through the ruins of the old abbey, with no particular aim or goal. He had much on his mind, and had had it there for nearly a week.
It was difficult to believe what Snape had told him. It was even more difficult not to.
Draco was not the type of teen to be introspective. Nor was he the type to be compassionate, sensitive, or anything except proud, complacent, and self-absorbed. His dealings with the Dark Lord and his minions, and his own father, over the previous eight months had certainly shaken his complacency, but it had not been totally eliminated, until now.
Donating a dose of the Marriage Night Potion once Pansy's pregnancy had been confirmed had not bothered Draco in the least. Ordering Pansy to donate blood had not bothered him either. Donating his own had cost him a tad more pain than the cut on his arm, but he had done it, confused by the lack of information.
Snape had given him the information.
Draco had not really slept since.
It was not that Draco cared much for Pansy. She had always been there for him, the most appropriate available female no more than two years older than him nor no more than four years younger. She had been his to use since the second half of their second year. There had been only one act forbidden, and since he had understood and agreed with the reason, that had been the one act he had refrained from. Pansy had yielded everything else he had demanded with joy.
What thirteen year old boy could resist that?
And how could he respect her, since he had never much liked her?
No, Draco Malfoy knew he did not love Pansy Malfoy. He knew, however, that she loved him. And he had developed a kind of affection for her over the previous three years.
This was why her fate bothered him. Could what Snape had told him possibly be true?
It was not that he put such an act past the Dark Lord, or his own father for that matter. It was not that Draco disapproved of murder, or even torture, being both a murderer and, in mild ways, a torturer, although he lacked the pure sadism that a number of the people surrounding him enjoyed. He did have trouble wrapping his imagination around the idea of cannibalism, let alone the live-cooking of the victim.
Loud laughing made Draco stop. It was Macnair and the two Crabbes. Draco looked, and saw that Goyle junior was there as well.
"What're we gonna butcher today?" Crabbe senior asked. Both Crabbes looked like they were eagerly awaiting the decision.
"Let's do the old sow," Macnair said. "We need to practice getting the piglets out and guttin' her without killing her or them."
"Why?" Crabbe junior asked.
Macnair and Crabbe senior rolled their eyes. They hadn't been told, but there was an obvious reason, even to them.
"You almost made it last time," Crabbe told his friend, ignoring the young men. "You managed to partially bleed out the body, too. She shouldn't have to last long, just long enough."
"But no one will say how long," Macnair grumbled.
"Probably because no one is certain," Crabbe said in a hoarse whisper.
Young Crabbe looked puzzled; young Goyle looked worried. Looking up, Goyle and Malfoy looked in each other eyes. Goyle shook his head slightly, and Draco backed off slightly, out of sight.
"Go tell Goyle to bring the sow, boy!" Crabbe told his son. "Help him if he needs it."
Less than a minute later, Draco heard the squealing sow. Its screams started soon after.
Although very intelligent, Draco did not have the most brilliant imagination. Never-the-less, it was very easy to imagine those screams as Pansy's, and the softer screams as his son's.
Draco did not have much of an appetite that evening.
Pansy was surprised that night when Draco came to bed and held her tightly, and actually made love to her, rather than his usual self-gratification inside her.
"Oh, Draco," she said, holding him afterwards, "I love you more than life itself."
"I know," Draco replied, realizing that this would indeed the case, unless he did something.
Draco thought everything through on last time. Pansy and he had pledged themselves to act as one. Draco had few morals, but he did have a very rudimentary code of behavior. He couldn't just abandon his partner.
Pansy had given him everything he had ever asked from her; she had never complained about his sexually using her, and at times abusing her. She had accepted his taking the Dark Mark; she had helped him plot against Potter and the Mudblood's spy squads. She had murdered with him. Despite her long-term jealously of Tracey Davis, Pansy would never have struck out against her, let alone killed her, without Draco's desire to strike out against someone that day. He would have preferred killing Potter, the Mudblood, or any Weasley, but Blaise had been a satisfactory substitute. Draco had discovered Zabini was the one rallying some of the Slytherins against the Dark Lord, and himself, after all. Pansy had helped him. She had always helped him.
And she carried a Malfoy inside her belly.
Killing for a purpose, even revenge, made sense to Draco. Killing just for fun made little sense. Torturing for information or revenge made sense to Draco. Torturing for fun did not.
Slicing a girl's belly open and roasting her and her baby alive, just for a possible magical advantage, did not make sense to him either. After all, even Snape had to admit that the ceremony and potion might not work. There was no known record of the Sacrifice being performed, even in ancient Carthage or the other Phoenician cities.
Could Draco allow this to go on, when it might not even work?
Draco could see the power of the Dark Lord, but no longer saw Him as a path to political power for anyone. He had built a tremendous momentum for himself back in the Seventies and early Eighties, but Potter had accidently stopped him. Draco saw no signs of momentum now.
If he could be fairly certain that he could succeed in saving his wife and child, Draco decided, he would have no qualms of loyalty to hold him back.
But where could they go? Where could they hide?
There was only one safe place they could go that he knew of.
Which meant accepting the rules of Dumbledore, and Potty.
Hogwarts, where he and Pansy were wanted for murder. Dumbledore would certainly not buy a claim of Imperius for either one of them. And the Ministry had already condemned them.
What would Dumbledore do to help if Draco didn't escape to Hogwarts with Pansy? (The idea of helping Pansy escape without his leaving to avoid any punishment did not occur to Draco.) If Snape knew, there was little doubt Dumbledore would at least have some idea of what was going on -- Draco had a much higher respect for Dumbledore's power than his father or the Dark Lord admitted to. Dumbledore wouldn't have Pansy killed; Draco was certain of that.
Dumbledore wouldn't; Potty wouldn't, and probably couldn't. Zoric would, and probably could kill them if the need arose, but only then. He had done more outrageous stunts in his career. And there was no place Draco knew of where they had any chance to be safe, other than Hogwarts.
So, his choices were clear. 1) Let Pansy suffer, possibly allowing the Dark Lord to triumph (which Draco was far from sure was a good idea). 2) Escape with Pansy to Hogwarts, and hope they wouldn't be punished too much for the murders, and be under the protection, at least partially, of Harry Potter.
Pansy suddenly snuggled close to Draco. "Are you alright?" she asked softly.
"Just worried," Draco said.
"Is there anything I can do?" she asked.
"What would you do for me?" Draco asked in return.
"I've loved you; I've killed for you; I've followed you. What more could you ask?" she asked.
"Would you be humiliated for me? Would you love me if we were humiliated together? impoverished?" he asked, curious.
"Would we be together?" Pansy asked.
"Yes, if this happens, we would at least be together."
"I love you," Pansy said simply. "I killed with you; I was arrested with you. I would have been glad to spend the rest of my life in prison, even if you had somehow been free, as long as I could still see you and you stayed committed to me. I'll bear you as many children as you want. I don't care if we're as poor as those Weasleys." She paused. "I'd prefer not to be that poor, but if the choice includes you, I could even bear that."
"We'll never be THAT poor, even if we have twenty children," Draco assured her.
Pansy was not very smart, but she was far from stupid. Just average. A realization hit her. "Are they going to try and take our baby? For some ritual?"
"I think so," Draco said.
"I don't want to give him up," Pansy said, tears in her eyes. "I will, if you command me -- after all, we can have more -- but I really don't want to."
"Pansy," Draco said slowly, "the ceremony doesn't just sacrifice the fetus."
That took a few moments for Pansy to process. Then she clung to Draco, crying. "Do you . . . must I. . . ." She looked up at Draco, although they really couldn't see each other well in the dark. "Shall I sacrifice myself for you, my love?"
"Would you really do that for me?" Draco asked, puzzled.
"Yes, my love."
"Why?" Draco asked, still puzzled.
"Don't you understand by now? I love you, Draco. You really do mean more to me than life."
Draco held her and gently stroked her hair. He suddenly realized something.
For the first time in his life, Draco Malfoy cared for someone other than himself. He wondered if it might even be love? "I don't know if I can fix this, but I'll try. We can't let on we know."
"I trust you, Draco. I know you can fix anything," she simpered.
Draco decided it was just affection, after all.
Friday, Valentine's Day, 1997
The spring term had progressed very calmly over the first five weeks. All four Quidditch teams practiced three times a week. Every Saturday, the Sixth Year Gryffindor Chocolate Club met, as did many other groups and associations. The Gryffindors Marched every Monday morning. The SDA still held practice on Monday evenings. Six mornings a week, over a third of the students went jogging (although they jogged inside the castle during the winter). The DA officers planned and worked out drills. The Ministry and the Order of the Phoenix sought information, and found little.
Classes proceeded with fewer problems and distractions than at any time since Harry's first year, and most of the students responded well (although there was still a fair amount of friction between Bellatrix Malfoy and her followers against Irena and Sudipta). Even Hermione was satisfied with her own progress, and the progress of those students she had a special interest in.
Harry had hoped that Hermione and Ron might come back together. Secretly, so had Hermione and Ron at first. Neither was willing to make the first move, however, and by the end of the second week of the term, each had given up on the other. Ron was flirting with a number of Fifth year girls (Gin Driver, and from Ravenclaw Merry Bishop, Deborah Smith, and Diana Sharp) before the end of January.
Hermione worked harder on her school work and the DA. Harry and Luna, and Neville and Ginny, made certain they kept her active in doing little social things.
The first night of the term, Dumbledore had announced a special Valentine's Weekend. Friday night would have a small feast and an exchange of cards and presents. Saturday would be a Hogsmeade day, and there would be an informal dance after dinner Saturday night for all students until 9:30.
Hermione had plunged into organizing the SDA for the Saturday in Hogsmeade. She had to make certain that couples were assigned patrols at the same time, but not on the same patrols. Since she was so willing to accommodate the first point, few made even token gestures of complaint about the second.
The great hall was decorated in pink balloons and multi-colored streamers that Friday and Saturday. Professor Flitwick had created a zone in a back corner where students could throw cards, small gifts, and even some preserved flowers. At 7:00 that Valentine's night, all would go and find their recipient.
As soon as the dinner was over that night, Hermione insisted on leaving. She had the feeling that Ron would be making the decision on who he was going to date, and she had no desire to actually see it. It would be difficult enough to deal with the result.
Going to her room, Hermione sat on her bed, dejected. Just as she had decided to go over the plans for Saturday one last time, a small pile of cards and candy appeared on her bed.
Harry, Luna, and Ginny had both sent her friendship cards and chocolate roses. Sudipta Patil, her crush still unrequited, had sent a card and a chocolate frog. A number of friends had sent her friendship cards as well.
And, she saw, her heart racing, there was a card from Ron.
Hermione opened it and read the message, /I will always be your friend,/
Hermione stared at the card, and went to bed, crying softly.
Saturday, February 15, 1997
No one was particularly surprised that Ron and Gin Driver had become a couple the night before. Both seemed more interested in the 'flirting-snogging-petting' aspects of dating than the 'getting-to-really-know-you' aspects. Neither was looking for a partner, let alone a partner-for-life, and so they seemed well-matched.
Hermione stayed on alert the whole time the students were in Hogsmeade. She had improved communications between herself, the school, and the student patrols, but no incidents were reported. The few still-openly hostile Slytherins (all the remaining suspect students were in Slytherin) were either very quiet or, like Bellatrix Malfoy, too young to be allowed into town.
That evening, as the fairly successful dance wound down, Tomas Zoric approached Severus Snape, who was standing in a corner, where none could over-hear them.
The two stood in silence for some minutes, watching the gyrations of the various students.
Finally, Snape spoke. "I must commend your apprentice," he said. "He's one of the few students not making a public fool of himself." Harry and Luna had 'danced' (or at least swayed in unison) to just three of the slower dances.
"They are both too shy to indulge in this type of dancing," Zoric said, adding with disapproval, "assuming that's what this is."
Snape gave a small sigh. "I believe we were about the last students who danced the more decorous styles of the past. Certainly not this . . . Muggle whirling."
"Muggles and wizards in the nineteenth century thought the waltz was even more scandalous," Zoric reminded his colleague.
"True," Snape admitted. "I really think Weasley and Driver will hurt themselves, if not their neighbors."
"Energetic, aren't they?"
After a few more moments of watching, Zoric asked, "Any news on the special dinner?"
Snape almost winced, but still he answered. "I understand it is no longer a surprise dinner. The guest of honor would prefer to bypass the honor entirely."
"Understandable. And the other person concerned?"
"Would like to avoid it as well. However, there aren't many places they could afford to stay, where they could avoid any fuss."
"True," Zoric agreed. There weren't many places on earth Draco and Pansy would be welcome if Voldemort as well as the Ministry was after them.
"I expect to see them pass through, however," Snape added. Zoric merely nodded. Professor Sprout was coming towards them, and although she was completely trustworthy, she was not in the information loop on this issue.
"The Headmaster would like to see you both after the students are in their common rooms," she said, before moving on to break Ron and Gin from their passionate embrace for the just-started slow number.
"He must be back from the Ministry," Zoric informed Snape.
"He's been going there a lot. Maybe tonight we shall finally find out why."
Later that night, the four Sixth year Gryffindor boys sat on their beds, talking about the dance.
"I still think you and Ginny were dancing entirely too closely," Ron complained to Neville.
"It's been almost six months," Seamus complained. "Get over it, Weasley."
"This is none of your affair, err, business," Ron retorted. "This is about Neville groping Ginny in public!"
"No one tried to make us move apart, other than you," Neville retorted. "McGonagall, Sprout, and even Snape walked past us without a word. How many times did they make you and Gin stop groping each other in the middle of the floor?"
"This isn't about me and Gin!"
"No," Seamus broke in, "it's about you having a double standard, and," he added, cutting Ron off, "since I have to hear about this damn near every day, that makes it at least partly my business!"
Ron sat on his bed in a huff.
"You didn't seem to be dancing with Parvati much," Harry commented to Seamus in the cold silence.
"No," Seamus admitted. "I like her, but Lavender and I have become more of a couple."
"I thought Lavender and Parvati were the couple," Ron said snidely.
"If they are, or were, it's really none of my business," Seamus said defiantly. "We're all going to stay close friends. . . ."
"Real close," Ron added.
"Look, Weasley, if you want to pick a fight, go some place else," Seamus retorted angrily. "I'm not interested!" Seamus went to bed and closed his bed curtains. Neville did the same.
"Do you want to yell at me, too?" Ron demanded of Harry.
"No, not especially," Harry replied. "You and Gin seem to know what you're doing, so I hope you're both happy together. And, since you seem to want my opinion, I don't know if Neville and Ginny are doing anything you should disapprove of or not, but they certainly weren't tonight."
"I guess not," Ron admitted. "But I don't like to see it."
"She doesn't like seeing you snog, either, but you don't hear her yelling about it," Neville's muffled voice said.
Harry stood up, "Nox!" he called, extinguishing the candles. "It's late, and we still have to get up and jog. May I please ask that we all get some sleep?"
"Alright," Ron grumbled.
"Alright," Neville agreed.
"Alright," Seamus agreed, adding "after all we all have a lot of sweet kisses to remember in our dreams!"
Ron growled, but said nothing.
Tuesday, February 18, 1997
Draco Malfoy's eyes went wide. Crabbe, Crabbe junior, and Goyle were dragging a struggling, heavily pregnant, Muggle into the kitchen. He felt a presence behind him, and saw it was Gregory Goyle.
"You don't want to be here, Draco," he said, obviously in some sort of emotional distress.
"Macnair will cast a silencing charm in a moment, and I have to go in there and help," Goyle said, looking sick. "You must know by now what we're going to do, and why we're practicing."
"You've . . . you've done this. . . ."
"This will be the third one," Goyle said. "That wasn't roasted veal we had last Thursday."
Draco swallowed nervously. "Right. I'll let you get on with it." He paused before leaving. "You know I take Pansy on walks outside every morning? For her health? Father doesn't like us to go out alone. Maybe you can join us some mornings."
"If your father asks, I'll be glad to walk with you." Goyle disappeared through the kitchen door. As it opened and shut, the pleadings of the pregnant woman could be heard.
Draco hurried away.