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Chapter 1: The Mission
A/N: Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Harry Potter characters or the world in which they live in; however, I did create Ashley Delacour myself, and would ask that she remain in my writing. I apologize for the weird formatting, as I had pre-written this entire story on a Word document, and unfortunetly, the indents came with it.
There are some elements that I took from the book and incoporated into the story, even if they don't match up with J.K.'s timeline of how they happened. Just thought I'd give you a head's up!
Thanks in advance for reading. I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it. Thanks!
A young man dressed in black pants and a matching sweater slowly walked down the crowded streets of Diagon Alley, his black shoes tapping nosily against the dirty cobblestone road. The sounds of young, pleading children filled his ears, crying to their parents to buy them the snowy white owl they had wanted since last summer, or the new broomstick that had just come. Draco Malfoy shook his head in disgust, for they did not know what would have happened to him if he cried out selfishly for something as stupid as a broom.
Recalling, however, his father had given him a new one his second year. Not because Draco wanted it, or deserved it for his hard work in his classes, but because Lucius was confident that he would make Harry Potter regret his refusal of being friends with his son from the previous year. But when Draco had failed that plan, he hadn’t received the smallest gesture of approval from his father for the next five years. It was as if the twelve-year old boy was a lost cause, something that had failed his father’s expectations more than once, and was no longer worth bothering with. Draco couldn’t even began to comprehend that something so small as failing to beat an opponent should receive the depth of disappointment that radiated off his father, as if it had time to fester while he was in Azkaban. Upon his release, Lucius seemed to have decided that his disappointment for a son was not worth a nod or a voice of approval anymore.
Shaking the memory out of his head, he looked at the others walking ahead of him. Old wizards with white hair and matching beards had hair sprouting unevenly over their faces. Young witches were crowded over a booth with a little woman promising eternal youth by using her Anti-age Miracle Cream. Infants were crying in the arms of their mothers, and young children pushed past Draco, screaming and playing tag as they shuffled through the crowd ahead of him.
He glowered at their uncontrolled behavior, knowing that he would have never been able to act out so poorly. He wondered, for a slight moment, what it would have been like to run and play carelessly. The carefree lifestyles of so many other wizards seemed to have passed him by, as if they had forgotten to hand him an invitation to a normal childhood.
He snapped back to his extremely foul mood, although he was most of the time anyway, especially since his father had been released. It was exhausting, having to put on a façade of happiness for his father’s return. He wished he had his mother’s energy, to pretend, but found it absolutely draining. The exhaustion of such an act resulted in the pent up anger that sealed his heart shut. He always took the opportunity to take it out on someone else, secretly envious of their normal lives.
While his father was in Azkaban, living in the Manor had been bearable. With Lucius’ absence, Narcissa was allowed to express her adoration openly for her only child, quietly joking and laughing with him, a rare indulgence, for Lucius thought a child would spoil should too much affection be shown. Draco missed the absence of Lucius, even the Manor itself seemed uptight since his return. It was a presence he did not miss.
He was brought from his dark thoughts when a curious group caught his eye. Just beyond him, up the cobblestone pathway were five young girls, all elaborately dressed in heavy velvet cloaks. Draco thought it rather odd choice for the hot weather, as he shifted uncomfortable at the fall humidity that lay trapped in his clothes. He couldn’t understand how they stood there unfathomed by the heat of August.
They stood out amongst the crowd, their colorful costumes shouting against the mute and ashen material of the townspeople. As he was getting closer, he noticed that the heavy cloaks weren’t the only things that seemed rather overdone. The eldest dressed in a cloak of soft yellow with a matching dress that flowed and swayed with her every movement. When she lifted up her arms to emphasize her story, bell sleeves with feet of fabric hung from her thin arms, hanging down to the dirty stones of the alley. He recognized her, but couldn’t place where he had seen her.
The other three, looking the youngest of the five, were wearing all cloaks of different shades of emerald green, also with matching robes and sleeves.
Still, he kept walking, his curiosity wanting a glimpse at the fifth one, hidden by the swishing cloaks of all the others. He cut sharply to his right, drawing closer to where they were standing.
He slowed his pace, walking past the fifth one; he caught her eyes of purest aqua blue.
She was angelically stunning.
She wore robes of lightest turquoise, drawing full attention to her eyes that were the color of a tropical ocean. They sparkled with a wild light, containing knowledge beyond her years. Her hair gleamed in the sun, almost blinding with how light the shade was, flowing in soft curls all the way down to the middle of her back. Her complexion was soft and creamy, glowing with happiness. Her jaw-line was sharp and defined along her thin, long face.
Draco didn’t realize that there was a sudden change in number on the streets as he was pushed even further to the girls until he lost his balance and was knocked into the one he was eyeing, making her fall to her feet with him.
“Are you alright?” She knelt down, scooping him under the arm and helping him up. For someone who looked so slim, she was surprisingly strong.
“I’m fine, I-” He stammered, lost in her eyes, “-am fine.”
She let go of his arm when she felt confident he was steady.
“You look familiar. What’s your name?” She asked him. Her surrounding companions snickered, embarrassing him beyond belief. He didn’t answer right away but looked to the other giggling girls. There, in the yellow cloak, was Fleur Delacour, or Weasley now, he supposed, the girl he thought he had recognized, glaring down at him with her sharp blue eyes.
He returned his attention back to the one who addressed the question. He now remembered why she was so beautiful: she was Veela.
“D-Draco Malfoy.” He stammered.
She smiled softly at him, sending his pale cheeks into a deep crimson flush, making the girls laugh even louder, whispering in French to one other. He glared at them, embarrassment burning at his insides. Anger filled his body at the show of such pansy emotions.
He took his arm from her grip and started to walk away. He could still hear the laughter of the younger girls, which was growing louder with each step he took. A small ounce of satisfaction bubbled within him as he sensed the Veela looking after him.
Later that night as he lay on his bed, thinking of how stupid he executed his response.
And I never even got her name; He cursed himself, ‘D-Draco Malfoy’. How could I have been so childish?
After pondering his foolishness for what seemed like several hours, there came a light knock on the door.
“What?” He growled, greatly agitated that he was being taken from his thoughts.
The door opened and in peeped in a scrawny house elf with watery eyes and a red nose.
“Master Malfoy demands your presence, sir!” It squeaked high. Draco could almost feel his eardrums splitting from an octave he didn’t know existed.
“Fine, go! Tell him I’ll be down in a minute!” He said, massaging his ears.
“Please hurry, sir. Master Malfoy said it was urgent!”
“Whatever.” He mumbled, sliding off the bed, his ears continuing to ring.
He looked up to see the house elf still there.
“I thought I dismissed you.” He glowered.
“Mr. Malfoy wants to assure that you make it to him, sir! I have been ordered to wait until you follow me.” The elf cowered.
The last couple of times his father had ordered for him, he ignored it, resulting in heavy punishment; he was completely numb to the cane that came in contact with his back, or the rough hand that slapped his face. What his father demanded of him anymore was completely pointless; he had lost his place of honor with Voldemort two years ago when he was unable to successfully receive the prophecy from Potter. Draco didn’t know why his father even interacted with the others anymore, knowing that their family’s image had been shattered and had lost their status among the Death Eaters.
Draco knew he blamed him for his falling out with the Dark Lord. Voldemort figured if his son could not obey orders, than neither could his worthless father. Lucius, even two years later, was still trying to disprove his harsh lord’s false accusations and do as he was bidden.
Draco’s lip curled disgustingly as he followed the house elf down the grand marble staircase that loomed before the door, the marble gleaming with polish that had not yet dried. The house elf hobbled down the stairs, rushing through the parlor and into a sitting room that had a landing leading to a shadowed door, menacing in its secluded corner.
Draco picked up the cold metal knocker that came from the mouth of a snake, glaring down at him with cold eyes as he let the ring fall with a loud knock; he scowled back at the serpent that announced that its master’s son was awaiting him.
“Enter.” Lucius said, cold and unwelcoming.
He slowly opened the door to his father’s office.
It was a grand room, with exaggerated high ceilings that were dark and cold, eluding that there might not be an end to them at all. Bookshelves on all four walls were filled with old volumes containing malicious documentations of the Dark Arts, such as Extracurricular Uses for the Imperious Curse and Fun Things to do with Boring Muggles. He pitied his father for being as lost as he was, who pathetically fought to restore his name to carry the weight that it once did.
In the middle of the room, sitting on top of a huge black and green patterned rug sat a high-backed leather chair. Directly in front of him sat his father, leaning over a piece of parchment, scribbling as fast as he could. He signed it, unstopping a bottle that contained a fine white powder, dusting the parchment with it. Draco watched as he folded it and stamped it with the family crest, the red wax oozing with the stamps pressure. His son wasn’t naïve enough to know that it was an untraceable weapon that had malevolent intent, a warning to whoever found the dead victim, suffering from lung infection from the undetectable powder. It was no doubt a threat to give someone that Voldemort ordered him to write.
“Sit.” He commanded, tying the letter to a brown and black hawk. Its yellow orbs glared at him, as if eyes for Lucius in case he should miss one of Draco’s movements.
Draco sat in the chair. As he waited, he looked down at the feet of the desk. There were sharp, brass claws that moved, scratching as they adjusted on the rug, tired of all the books and scrolls that were atop its back. They had torn at the rug so much that the dark wood underneath was starting to show, revealing years of scars the talons had engraved.
“Leave us, elf.” Lucius spat, not looking up from his papers he was reshuffling.
Draco completely forgot about the elf that had escorted him to his father’s study. The trembling creature did not say a word as he nodded and quickly left the room, shutting the door quietly behind him as he bounded off to finish his chores.
“Off for your last year at Hogwarts, Draco.” He began, straining on his opening sentence. A grimace pulled at his lips: an offering of forced conversation.
“Yes.” He simply answered.
“You will become of age in a couple of months.” He winced, as if he was trying to stir some conversation out of his carless son, the effort too much for him.
“Yes.” Draco repeated, becoming agitated with his father’s worthless efforts.
“You will be ready to receive the Dark Mark soon.” His statement was a command, letting Draco know that he still held power over him, even if he didn’t anywhere else.
Draco hesitated, but quickly recovered, “Yes, father.”
“Very good.” He said quietly, “The Dark Lord will be very happy to hear you are ready to serve him.”
I’d rather die! He screamed in his head.
“It seems, Draco, that we are not happy to see each other since my acquittal?”
It was a question that should be answered with the utmost care.
“You know that is not true, father.” He choked.
“I am so delighted to hear that.” He bore into Draco’s eyes, waiting for Draco’s to waver. “I thought perhaps it had caused upset in my house.”
All Draco could do was look back, unable to break his gaze, too prideful to admit loss. He was also unable to tear his eyes from his father’s pathetic physical state. Ever since the break-in at the Ministry last year, Lucius had declined quickly. His pale hair was losing its shine, his eyes pale and droopy, eyelids sagging to reveal red tissue, making his sickly eyes pop against his pale face. He neglected to shave himself for days at time, giving rise to a gray shadow settling over his hollow cheeks. His presence had lost all command and status, leaving him with a rather ludicrous appearance.
‘A Malfoy is never weak!’ He could remember his father hissing in his ear when he was done disciplining him at a younger age, bubbling with power as he watched his son squirm and squeam as he tried to not cry out in pain. But he looked at his father, who seemed to have given up on looking half-way decent, neglecting his own principles that he had beaten, both mentally and physically, into his son.
More silence filled the room, the desk scratched against the wood floor in restlessness.
“Is there something in particular you called me down here for, sir?” He gritted through his teeth.
Lucius eyed him, wondering if he should be punished for his cheek, but decided at the last moment to let it slide.
“There is something I would ask of you,” He started, “We must continue to break down Potter this year, seeing as your efforts have failed all the years previous. That Black filth was thankfully taken down by Bellatrix, leaving Potter without a guardian. I couldn’t have done it better myself, it almost makes me pity Potter to have suffered so.” His voice dripped with sarcasm.
This wasn’t news to Draco; it had been the plan since Potter came to Hogwarts. That’s all? As if you haven’t told me that since second year. As if that hadn’t been obvious since the bloody prat was born, Draco thought angrily.
He tried to keep his face as straight as possible; he didn’t want his father to know that he was mocking him.
“We must do significant damage this year, Draco!” He slapped his hand on his desk for emphasis, “Especially since Potter will be of age. We must break him down as much as we can before he slips through our hands. You have failed many times before, Draco. It is not only the Dark Lord you have failed, but me.”
Oh sure, that really hit a soft spot. It took immense strength to not roll his eyes.
“What do you want me to do?” He asked, bored with the conversation, seeing that it was going nowhere that it hadn’t already been before.
“I hear there will be a new student coming to Hogwarts whose relatives have already befriended Potter years before, and even have marital ties to those filthy Weasels. They have developed a soft spot for him, being heroic and saving the sister once before or something wonderful like that.” His eyes shot up to meet Draco’s, the icy cold glare remained on his face, whether it was for Draco and his “failed attempts” or the thought of Potter, he did not know.
“Do you know her name?” He asked.
“That’s for you to find out, Draco.” He sneered, “You’re a charming boy, I know Pansy is rather fond of you. Perhaps you can use that charm on her? It seems to be the only thing your good for.”
“You want me to make her…love me, or something?” He asked, the word sour in his mouth.
“Ah, I see you are not as slow as I thought, although your grades reflect otherwise.” He scowled, fingering the head of his snake staff.
Anger started to swell within him. He didn’t know how to respond for a moment, but recovered quickly, “What’s in it for me?”
“You selfish boy!” He boomed, standing up and slamming his cane on the wood floor, “How is not serving our Dark Lord not enough? I should punish you for your remarks!”
He rose, twisting the heavily jeweled ring on his right hand finger threateningly, making sure it would line up exactly with Draco’s cheek.
“Fine.” He gritted through teeth, glaring hard up at his father, squinting his eyes in a challenge.
Lucius’ eyebrow rose in interest, slowly sitting back down, hissing, “I assure you, that if you succeed and bring the girl to the Dark Lord, he will be very pleased. Get information from her about Potter if you can. Let her get close to the Golden Trio first, then make your move.”
“Why not go for Mudblood or the Weasel?” He asked.
Lucius smirked as his son’s ignorance, “We work our way up.”
“How do you know that Potter will become friends with this girl?”
“The Dark Lord knows all!” Lucius glowered; his icy eyes became mere slits in his boiling anger.
“How can he be so sure whose friends with Potter?” He challenged.
“How dare you insult the Dark Lord, you damned boy!” He rose from his desk, making a move to come around to Draco. Surprisingly, Lucius took a deep breath, smoothing his hair and adjusting his robes, “I thought I had raised you more respectfully. It seems that my time away has allowed your weak mother to soften you. No matter, you are to do as you are commanded.”
Draco glowered at his father for insulting Narcissa, never feeling more hatred in his life for someone, not even Potter. He was angered that Lucius had more compassion for someone that wasn’t even human than for his own son. It made his blood boil with loathing, a heat building in the back of his head, blinding him with white stars the floated in his peripheral vision. It took every nerve in Draco’s body to restrain himself.
“So what happens when I do this?” He hissed.
“We bring her in, I’m sure he would like to have his ways with her, a pretty girl she’s supposed to be. It will lead Potter and his little comrades to his layer, perhaps even the Ministry. Her father was in a high position in France and has retained that position here, no doubt they will send out an endless amount of search parties, then we’ll all have the sorry blokes at once. Potter can’t help the urge to save the day. They’ll be bored out of their mind when school ends.”
Merlin, can you be serious?
“‘Have his ways with her’? What do you mean?”
“I don’t know,” he waved off the thought angrily, “It is best to not question the Dark Lord. I’m sure he would like to know as much as he can about Potter and Weasel and that filthy Mudblood of theirs. You’ve seen what’s happened to him since Diggory and that scumbag Black. He will completely deteriorate if he loses someone else. He blames himself for the misfortune of others. Make it happen again.”
Draco solemnly nodded.
“Don’t attack too quickly, boy. Let her settle in.” Lucius glared at him, his icy eyes locking with the same of his son’s.
“Fine.” He growled, “And you don’t know her name?”
“I won’t repeat myself.” He said looking down at a document as he shuffled with his papers, becoming bored with the conversation.
“Then how am I going to know?”
“Do I have to spell it out for you?” He boomed, “She’ll obviously be in Gryffindor, figure it out! Be warned: I will not protect you if you fall short. I will not shield a disappointment. You are dismissed.”
He stood from his chair, glaring at his father, who had immediately taken interest in something else as soon as he had finished speaking. Draco thought that maybe if he stared long and hard enough, his glare would burn a hole in his head, but it didn’t. He was just as pale and deranged as ever.
Feeling powerless, he walked heavily out of the study, slamming the door behind him.
He didn’t know who this girl was, but he felt an odd and uncharacteristic need to warn her, despite his awful past.