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Chapter 38: The Alleyway
A/N: This is my absolutely favorite chapter in the whole entire story. So, if you only had only one chapter to reivew, let it be this one! I've been so excited and anxious to have this one validated ever since I've started submitting this story. I'd really love to hear from all of you. Thoughts, opinions, criticisims...anything is welcomed and will be responded to. This is one of the longer chapters of the story, if not the longest, so I've worked really hard on it. A word or two from you would be awesome :) Cheers and happy reading!
He had minutes to prepare.
Sleep had completely abandoned him. He stood in his bathroom, staring at the shadows that were starting to settle underneath his eyes, turning from a light gray to a more pronounced purple. His grey eyes were crazed, giving his paling skin a rather dead look. His haunting appearance was starting to adumbrate that of his father, just after he had failed his Dark Lord and had sunken into an imminent depression.
With shaky hands, he turned on the faucet, splashing some cold water onto his face. He gasped at the freezing temperature, but didn’t feel any more alert.
He needed something, anything to help him through the next few hours.
He continued to stare at himself, looking at the face who tried its hardest to warn her. He couldn’t understand how someone could be so stupid, to not heed a warning from a person that was in the innermost circle of the most powerful being in the world.
Not even Potter was that thick.
Realizing that standing in the green marble washroom wasn’t helping his confidence, he made his way down the parlor, where he figured it was better to be ready than to have his aunt come looking for him.
He sat on the plush couch and then got up quickly, pacing the room. Making his way to the window, he peeked out from behind the white curtains, peering out to the white peacocks that were flocking in couples near the lake. Bellatrix wouldn’t be at the front door, but he couldn’t help but feel jittery about what the forest beyond could be hiding.
Wiping his mouth nervously, he turned from the window, looking for anything within the spotless parlor that he could occupy himself with. Even with all the money they had, they never bothered with mindless knick knacks to decorate the house, which he cursed his family for in his time of need.
He had to get out of the room, all the white was starting to give him a headache. Not having a concrete plan of where he was going, he exited through the leftmost door, entering into the hall that led to the hidden staircase where he tried to escape the Aurors and the landing that led to his father’s office.
He stood there for a moment, knowing that the first floor circled and twisted into endless rooms, looking around at the various bookshelves and statues, wondering which ones were secret passages that led to more secluded parts of the Manor.
His eyes fell to a large green rug to the left, where he knew led down to even lower landings in the house.
Huffing as he grabbed the edges of the rug, he pulled until it slid into the wall, revealing a trap door with an iron handle. Pulling at the handle, he found it stuck. Draco squatted, heaving as he pulled with all his strength. Nearly falling back, the door sprang open, clouds of dust stirring at the exposed entrance.
“Lumos.” Draco said quietly, casting his wand light into the narrow stairway. Checking the surrounding area one more time, he slowly descended down into the cellar.
The underground vault was narrow, just wide enough for two people to squeeze through, but it was at least the length of the Great Hall. His heels clicked as he looked left and right to rows stacks of the world’s oldest, most expensive wines, Scotches, brandies and anything else that had ever been distilled. Draco searched in amazement, astounded by how little empty spaces there were, depleted by the occasional high-profile dinner party or gathering. Black and green bottles glittered dully in his wand light, covered with years, if not decades, of dust.
And then he found what he was subconsciously looking for. Halfway down the cellar aisle, there were many bottles missing from the collection of golden wrapped necks with blood red bodies encasing the amber liquid.
He wondered if this was why Lucius got into such blood-craze frenzies, enraged with ferocious hatred and desiring to inflict pain on others. He flicked his wand to the left and right of the large selection of Firewhiskey, noticing that it was by far the most drunken of.
He stepped up to the closest one, taking out the long bottle, the liquid swished back to the end, making Draco buckle under the unexpected awkwardness of the length. Flipping it in his arms, he read that this particular vessel was over a hundred and fifty years old.
Swallowing hard, he set the bottle down on the bar-like strip that ran down the length of the cellar. Cocking his wand firmly, he flicked it, a sharp pop filling the stuffy air as the cork flew off, a dull thud echoed from its landing place further towards the stairs.
A sharp smell filled the air, the distilled aroma burning his throat and making his eyes water.
Before he could think twice, Draco grabbed for the bottleneck, which almost slipped from his grasp as the golden paper slid from the glass, locking his lips with the rim.
He sputtered immediately, setting down the bottle. Gasping for air, he clutched at his throat, his eyes spilling over with tears. It was if someone had sent Fiendfyre down his throat, the fiery beasts clawing at the delicate tissue. The pain brought him to his knees as he clutched the bar for support.
After several moments, the agony had subsided as quickly as it came. His body filled with a slight buzzing, ridding of the shake and anxiety he had experienced moments before.
He grabbed for the bottle again, taking another shot. The same pain, perhaps even more tormenting than before, consumed him with stronger affects. He took a deep breath; a cool burning sensation filled his chest as the oxygen expanded his lungs.
He felt steadier than he had in the last few hours, the ringing in his ears deafening. Every nerve in his body was vibrating, from the tips of his fingers to his bottoms of his toes.
He was about to take another drink when he heard the sharp step of heels overhead. Panicking, knowing that is was Narcissa, he abandoned the bottle on the bar. Grabbing his wand, he dashed back up the stairs.
Scrambling to cover back up the cellar door, he managed to straighten the rug just before Narcissa walked in.
“Draco.” She said surprised, furrowing her thin eyebrows, “What were you doing?”
“Nothing.” He lied quickly, knowing that his face was red, betraying his cool demeanor.
“She’s going to be here any moment.” Narcissa’s lip worried, smoothing her sweater as a distraction.
“I know.” Draco answered, walking past her back into the parlor.
Right on cue, Bellatrix stormed through the door, quickly followed by Greyback.
Draco mustered a glare, the Firewhiskey settling in his system, giving him more confidence than he normally would’ve felt.
“What is this animal doing in my house?” Draco sneered.
“Draco.” Narcissa breathed in a warning.
Bellatrix’s gave him a bewildered look, her mouth twisting up in a warped smile of approval.
Fenrir gave a low growl, stepping forward. Bellatrix threw out a pale arm, holding the beast back.
“None of that.” Bellatrix teased. “Are you ready?”
“Fine.” Draco hissed, straightening up his jacket.
“Here.” Bellatrix smirked, throwing a him a heavy cloak and silver mask. Draco turned it in his hands, seeing the face of a skeleton, the mouth grilled shut. Black swirls lined the face, adding more menacing properties than it did decorative touches.
Draco looked to her, noticing that she only had one outfit.
“And where’s yours?” He asked.
Bellatrix twisted smile grew even wider. “We don’t have one, we must protect the baby.”
A long fingernail trailed down his smooth cheek. Draco stood there, looking down into her black eyes.
“Go on, put it on!” Bellatrix cackled, straightening the black robe and securing his mask, reaching over his shoulders to pull on his hood, sending malicious shadows over the iron mask.
Bellatrix stepped back to admire her handiwork. Clapping her hands together, she spun him around. Bellatrix rested her head on Draco’s shoulder, giving Narcissa a pout.
“Look at him now, Cissy! You should be so proud!”
He could see through the slits in his eye holes that it was hard for Narcissa to mask the fear on her face. She looked him over, his tall frame indistinguishable from that of his father’s. Narcissa swallowed hard, trying to control her shaking. How had such a young man become so malignant and corrupt? That was her only son, her baby, and yet, there was not trace to be found of the young boy as he stepped closer to her.
Narcissa grabbed her necklace in reaction, taking a step back from him.
“Come, Draco.” Bellatrix drawled, pulling on his shoulder.
“Bell-’’ Narcissa pleaded weakly.
“None of that!” Bellatrix narrowed her eyes, leaving Draco’s side to confront Narcissa, taking an offensive stance.
Narcissa seemed to falter for a moment, but found courage deep within her to narrow her eyes at her older sister.
“He’s not even eighteen!” Narcissa hissed.
“He’ll be fine, no one will know!”
“You can’t do this, he’s my son!”
“He belongs to the Dark Lord now! That was your pathetic husband’s fault, pawning off his only child when he failed to get the prophecy!”
Her statement struck Draco and Narcissa hard. Draco was glad for the mask, because his face crumpled into an agonizing grimace. The Firewhiskey quickly washed the deep feeling of betrayal away, replacing it with a fiery anger that he needed to release, feeling like a shaken bottle ready to explode.
“I’ll be fine.” His cold voice echoed in the mask.
As if he had passed off his feelings of deception onto her, Narcissa took another step away from him, knowing that she had been utterly defeated.
“Fine. Then go.” She hissed venomously.
Bellatrix rolled her eyes, “Always one for theatrics.”
She turned to him, offering her arm. As if she could see his confused face through his mask, she told him, “We have to appartate to the exact spot.”
Her stare challenged Draco even though she couldn’t meet his eyes. “Come, my pet. Away we go.”
The familiar sensation of being squeezed through a tube nearly made him sick. Just as he thought that he was about to lose his stomach contents, his feet hit the cobblestone. A rough hand pushed him back, the putrid stench of Greyback filled his nose.
“You take that area, and I’ll take this one!” Greyback cackled madly, shooting red sparks into the air, sending panic among the rather empty alleyway.
“We still have a few minutes.” Bellatrix whispered close to him, “The workday is just about to end.”
The few dozen people that were currently roaming the streets took sight of them, hollering and screaming in fright. Many of them apparated, their robes swishing quickly after them. Some dodged into shops; locking their doors, wands pointed at them through the window should they attack.
Before Draco could think, Greyback pointed his wand at the people who were unable to think quickly enough, shooting sparks of varying colors at the crowd. Those he hit flew back, hitting stands of inkpots and carts of flowers, disappearing underneath the rubble that toppled on them. Greyback let out a spine-tingling howl, bounding off on all fours down an alleyway towards the left.
A crowd of wizards started to make their way down the alleyway, completely oblivious to what were only yards from them. Those that were unable to escape moments before ran into the newly appearing crowd, stumbling over their words in fright. They pointed frantically to the pair just beyond; the growing crowd dissipated into chaos.
Draco looked to Bellatrix for the next move, who crossed her arms and smiled evilly. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out two black balls the size of Snitches.
“Follow me.” Bellatrix told him, bending down and rolling the ball forcefully down the pathway.
A white gas emitted from a narrow opening at the top. Draco looked to Bellatrix, then the ball in his hand.
“Where did you get these?” He asked.
“Your vault.” Bellatrix smiled, leaving him as she disappeared into the smoke.
“How will I be able to see through this?” He called after her.
“The caster can see through the gas!” She called, cackling as faint red jets whistled through the air.
The Firewhiskey continued talking to him, filling him with a rage and an evil curiosity.
He bended at the knees, throwing his black ball, filling the rest of the alleyway with a thick smoke.
Bellatrix was right. He was able to make out the shops that had been boarded up quickly, the collapsed wizards that had crashed into cart stands and the witches that cowered in the shadows, whimpering for him to have mercy.
Draco frowned in confusion, his confidence faltering for a moment as the sudden realization of what he was doing hit him.
“Bellatrix!” Draco panicked.
The alleyway had grown rather quiet; although he could hear faint screams and howls from Fenrir somewhere off in the distance.
“Bellatrix!” Draco called again.
He heard a familiar muffled cackle to the left, hidden within the layers of narrow alleyways. Ducking into a narrow path, he followed the cackles that were growing louder and louder.
“You knew we were coming for you sooner or later!”
Draco silently wormed his way through the shadows, not feeling so confident in his attire. He knew that his identity was hidden, but felt as if anyone who looked at him would see nothing but a young boy who had no bloody idea what he was doing.
He caught himself just before he walked into a small opening where Bellatrix had his back to him, a wandless Delinda feet from her. Delinda didn’t look so brave now that she had been disarmed. Draco was sure that the smoke bombs had confused the Aurors and those who were watching Delinda for signs of trouble. Diagon Alley was in complete chaos and he knew Bellatrix would not disappoint.
“Oh, Delinda.” Bellatrix tapped her wand in her hand, her mocking tone not carrying past the alleyway. If Delinda were to scream, it wouldn’t carry far. If the Aurors were disbanded, they wouldn’t reach her until she was already dead.
But Bellatrix liked to play with her food before she ate it.
Delinda stood shaking, watching as Bellatrix paced back and forth.
“You have been digging your filthy little nose in the wrong business for years now.” Bellatrix’s voice was low. “I think it’s time that you are stopped.”
The Delinda that Draco had gotten to know seemed to dissipate into thin air, her cocky demeanor abandoning her just like the rest of the crowd abandoned the alleyway. Delinda pursed her lips, not daring to take her eyes off of Bellatrix.
“I don’t think you’ll be needing this anymore.” Bellatrix held up Delinda’s wand, snapping it in half.
Delinda let out a muffled whimper, looking horrified as Bellatrix discarded of the splintered pieces of wood.
“Now, what to do, what to do?” Bellatrix scratched her chin, feigning thought as she paced back and forth.
“Oh! I know…Crucio!” Bellatrix bellowed, pointing her twisted wand at her.
Delinda let out a horrifying scream, rattling Draco to the core. He could hear his teeth chatter within the metal mask, racking his ears painfully.
“WHAT SAY YOU NOW, DELINDA?” Bellatrix screamed in her ear, her voice hoarse.
Bellatrix flicked her wand, leaving Delinda crumpled and panting on the ground.
“You’ll pay for this.” Delinda forced weakly, grabbing her side.
“I’m not the one on the ground, you snitch.” Bellatrix seethed. “I’ve warned you plenty of times to stay out of our business. It was rather thick of me to think that Mudbloods understood warnings.”
Bellatrix flicked her wand once more, sending Delinda into convulsions, her back arching in pain and her glasses falling from her face, splattering into a puddle.
Draco turned back to his hiding place, taking deep breaths to calm himself.
“They-they’re coming for you.” She tried again weakly, her sad appearance stripping her of all authority. “They already know.”
“They-they-they.” Bellatrix stuttered in mocking tone, “I’m Bellatrix Lestrange, bitch! I fear no one!”
“H-he told us.” She croaked.
He couldn’t see Bellatrix’s face, but she stepped up to Delinda, placing a heel against her neck.
“Who?” She sneered.
“D-Draco.” She choked, pushing against her heel as she struggled to speak, “He showed us everything. You can’t run for long.”
There was a truthful look in Delinda’s fading eyes. Her tone was so exact that there was no reason for Bellatrix to doubt her.
Shit had hit the cauldron. Hard.
Draco panicked, scrambling from his hiding place, bounding back up the alleyway, the temporary loan of confidence from the Firewhiskey completely evaporating from his system. A green light illuminated the passageway, casting an eerie glow to the lanterns and rotting crates as a final scream filled his ears, making Draco trip over his cloak in fear. The screams of people began to fill his ears once more, those brave enough to stay behind shot spells at him wildly as he ran back out into the main street. Draco dodged and ducked, feeling shattering glass fall on the back of his cloak.
He ducked into another dark opening to the right, ripping off the cloak and his mask, flinging them carelessly into a puddle of water. Withdrawing his wand, he ran down the alleyway. He was running so fast that he nearly ran into a figure much shorter than him. Instinctively, he grabbed the shoulders of the person, holding them at arm’s length.
“Please!” The woman cried; look up at him with blue eyes. Draco heard a muffled cry, looking down to see a young child in her arms, tears running down his red face.
“Please, let me go.” She sobbed, hugging her son closer to her, as if his innocence would protect her.
Draco stared at her in horror, unsure of what to do. His mind told him to let go of her, to let her flee.
Draco took his hands off of her. “You have to go.”
The woman looked up at him in surprise, “Y-you mean, you won’t-?”
He shook his head quickly, “I would never…I-I can’t…”
She took a step back, looking him up and down, she asked wearily, “Then why are you with them?”
“Sometimes, you have to do things in order to protect those you love.” Draco told her, looking to her son. A great pain hit him, as he took a good look at her in the face. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five, blue eyes sparkled with fear and dirty blond hair framed her face. She pressed her son’s face close to her chest in motherly protection, a spitting-image of her: blond hair that wisped across his forehead, dark blue eyes looked up at him in an innocent trust.
“But this?” She questioned.
He grabbed her gently by the shoulders, leading her back towards the main alleyway, “I do it in hope that I may have what you do someday.”
She didn’t say a word, but followed him willingly.
They came to the end of the alleyway. Draco stopped her short of exposing her to the main street. Poking his head out carefully, he looked both ways. The streets were relatively abandoned now that the smoke had cleared, except for the few wounded that were groaning, slumped up against the shop walls.
“Is there somewhere you could go?” He asked her, checking the alleyway once more.
She nodded quickly, “I live off the main alleyway, past Ollivander’s.”
Draco looked desperately across the street, the Flourish and Blott’s sign notifying him that it would be quite difficult to get her down to the other end of the alley.
“You have to leave.” He told her, “Tell everyone in sight that we’re here.”
She nodded her head quickly. Holding her son tightly, she checked to see that the coast was clear.
“What is your name?” She turned back to him.
Draco was caught off guard by the question.
“D-Draco.” He choked, “A-and yours?”
“Emily.” She offered, “And Oliver.”
Draco took one more look at the boy.
“Do you have your wand ready?” He asked her.
She nodded, pulling it from her pocket.
“We have to take the main road.” He told her, “The rest of them are in the alleyways.”
“You’re coming with us?” She looked puzzled.
“I have to make sure you’re safe.” He said, grabbing her sleeve, “C’mon, we don’t have time.”
Draco held his wand in front of him, quickly moving it along the buildings and at anything that moved in the inconsistent breeze. It was extremely quiet, although he thought he could hear distant yells far off.
They were very close now, Draco knew, as they passed Quiddie’s Quick Quills and a second hand robe shop.
All of sudden, Draco was blasted off of his feet and thrown into the stone structure of a building. The wind was knocked out of him, his vision was doubled, but he could see a dark figure looming near.
“You. Little. Snitch!”
He felt himself being lifted into the air, his head throbbing painfully. He went limp, unable to control any of his movements. Within moments, he was thrown further down the pathway.
“Emily, run!” Draco called out blindly, his vision still swimming.
His head felt like a ton of lead as his cheek pressed against the cold stone. Black heels made his way towards him. He managed to roll himself onto his back, the sky was bright with gray clouds, making him squint and groan in pain.
A cloak of black hair tickled his face, reeking of smoke. Draco tried to blow it away, turning his head to see Emily hurrying down the pathway.
She dug her nails into his chin, forcibly turning his face towards hers, her black eyes crazed with hatred.
“Bellatrix.” Draco choked.
“After all I’ve done for you.” She spat venomously, “I rid you and your poor excuse of a mother of that monster and this is how you repay me?”
Her shrill voice echoed in the empty alleyway, letting Draco know that absolutely no one was around.
It was only him and a woman fueled on betrayal and revenge.
“No matter.” She drawled in her usual slur.
She rose from his limp body, chewing on the end of her crooked wand, just as twisted and gnarly as its owner.
“You were my favorite, you know.” She raised her eyebrows, “I loved you as my own. And this…this is how you repay me?”
There was an underlying tone of betrayal as Bellatrix choked. This was the closest he had ever heard her cry.
“Aunt Bell.” Draco forced, his head still spinning, “I-I…”
“You WHAT?” She screamed, her voice ringing in his ears, “You didn’t mean to? They forced you do to do it? Did they threaten you, Draco? Or did you willingly give them the information?”
Draco looked up at her, fear quickly growing within him. He knew what was to come, and hoped all of his life he would never have to endure it, especially from her.
“Well, an eye for an eye.” Bellatrix spat on him, “Crucio.”
Draco arched his back in extreme pain, a sense of fire spread throughout his body. The Firewhiskey couldn’t hold a candle to the torment that lit his body on fire. He could feel instant tears running down his face, sweat dripping from his body. He wished for death, just as a way of release. He felt as if a hook had been jabbed into his heart, slowly pulling the organ out of its cavity.
It had all come down to this. He had left the one thing that had truly made him happier than he had ever been in his life…for this? To lie pathetically in an alleyway, being tortured by the woman who may as well invented the Crutacious herself. He was nothing but a scared little boy, a pathetic excuse for a recruit.
Without Ashley, the desire to fight had quickly dissipated, just as quickly as the Firewhiskey drained him of his resistance to become like his father. But there was nothing he could do. He couldn’t call her, or go looking after her, knowing that this was his fate. After all the lies he had told himself over the last month, about protecting her and doing the right thing for her wellbeing, one fact had forever haunted him in the back of his mind.
He had left her.
And now, there would be no way to say goodbye.
He hoped for death and he could almost feel its light breath tickle his ear, waiting for the perfect moment to dip its hand into his chest and pull out his soul.
Bellatrix flicked her wrist, lifting the spell.
Draco gasped, feeling like a fish out of water. He cried out, his chest shaking with sobs.
“If they’re going to take my life, perhaps I should take one in return.” She crouched by his ear, purring menacingly. She held up the portrait of the couple that fell out of his pocket when she had blasted him off her feet. “Perhaps that bitch of yours?”
Draco forced himself to look at her, struggling to stifle whimpers as he looked at Ashley’s silhouette, laughing at him mockingly, as if to say, Haha, you left me and this is what you get.
Bellatrix flicked her wand at him once more, the wave of pain settling once more into every crevice of his body. The longer it went on, the more and more he thought his body would burst, sending his blood and bones splattering onto the windows and rooftops.
Bellatrix retracted the spell once more, snarling down on him.
“Please!” He breathed. It was unbearable and he was sure he would die within moments from the excruciating pain. Bellatrix smiled at him evilly, tracing his chin with a long fingernail.
“Is there anything I should tell her before the life slips out of her body?” She asked smoothly, “Hmm?”
Without warning, a jet of red light from overhead made direct contact with Bellatrix’s chest, sending her sprawling backwards. Her curse had completely broken, Draco’s lungs screamed for air, leaving him gasping and searching for his savior.
Emily crouched over him, grabbing him by the scruff of his collar.
“Hurry!” She pleaded, looking back to Bellatrix’s unmoving form, “We have to get out of here! Can you move?”
“Hardly.” He answered hoarsely, grimacing as he rolled onto his side. He looked up to see her, childless.
“Where’s Oliver?” He croaked.
“Later!” She whined, pulling him up. “We have to get you out of here!”
She put her head underneath his arm, hurrying down the alleyway. She looked back worryingly, plugging forward as fast as she could drag him.
“Where are we going?” He asked her, feeling as if he was fading in and out of consciousness.
“My house.” She breathed, looking to a wooden door on her left, just past Ollivander’s.
“Daniel!” Her voice cracked, “Daniel, please!”
The door opened suddenly, and a loud cry emitted from the shadows. A blond man with a light beard came out onto the stair landing, a look of alarm quickly consuming his face.
“Hurry, hurry!” She pleaded, handing him off to her husband. Taking his other arm, they helped Draco up the steps, closing the door quickly.
He could hear Emily behind him performing some incantation to further secure the door as Daniel helped him to the couch. He set Draco down gingerly, scurrying over to the small kitchen, the clinking of dishes and silverware competing with the cry of Oliver in his playpen near the window.
“Here.” Daniel came over to him, handing him a shot glass.
He recognized the Firewhiskey immediately, regarding the drink as a familiar friend, although their acquaintanceship still new. He chased it quickly, the burning sensation dull compared to the pain that remained locked into his body. He wished to never move from that couch, the thought shooting stabbing pains throughout every nerve.
“What a monster!” Emily came into the room, shaking as she crossed her arms over her chest.
“That’s my aunt for you.” He forced a small laugh.
“You’re aunt?” She stammered, “That woman?”
“Bellatrix Lestrange.” Draco shook his head.
“So you’re a M-Malfoy then.” Daniel took a step back.
“Dan.” Emily cooed at him softly, “He let us go. We owe him.”
Daniel continued to look at him wearily, casting a nervous look towards his son across the room, Draco’s position leaving him in between the two.
“I couldn’t curse you even if I wanted to.” Draco struggled, his head lolling from side to side.
“You need to go to St. Mungo’s.” Emily told him, her eyebrows furrowing.
“You think they would help Death Eaters?” Draco asked her, raising his eyebrows.
“You’re not like the others.” She stated.
Draco scoffed at her, “No, I just need to sit here for a minute. It’ll ware off.”
They sat in silence for many minutes, a grandfather clock ticking off the time. Even Oliver stood silent in his crib, looking from his parents to the stranger in his living room.
“Is there anything we can do?” Emily asked after several moments.
“Warn the Ministry, when I’ve gone.” Draco told her, opening his eyes.
With great effort, he pushed himself off of the couch. It took everything he had to prevent himself from crying out in pain. He bent over to grab his wand from the table.
“Thank you.” He breathed, his muscles screaming out at him to stop moving.
Draco struggled to regain his balance, holding out his hands to prevent form falling.
“Would you happen to have a fireplace?” He asked them.
Daniel stood at once, eager to get him out of the house. “Yes, in the drawing room.”
Draco followed him slowly out of the small living room, dragging his feet down a hallway, where Daniel quickly opened a door to a plain room with a few sitting chairs and small window.
Daniel eagerly offered Draco a small clay pot of Floo Power. Before Draco took a handful, he looked at him, “She’s not the only one here. You’ll be safe at the Ministry.”
Daniel gave him a curt nod, offering the bowl to him.
“Thank you.” Draco took a small pinch, “Hopefully, I won’t see you again.”
Daniel gave him a small smile, stepping back as emerald flames erupted from the white fireplace.
“Malfoy Manor!” He choked, stepping into the warm flames.
He collapsed onto the white rug, choking on the loose threads.
Stella ran into the room, cast iron skillet held high above her head, ready for the attack.
“Mr. Malfoy!” She squeaked in surprise, dropping her skillet onto the marble floor, which objected with a loud clang. Draco’s head throbbed with the awful noise.
“What happened Master Malfoy?” She asked, helping him onto the couch.
“Bellatrix.” He heaved himself onto the couch, rubbing his head as he lay down. “I need you to put every protection charm and security spells you and the others can on the Manor. Hide yourself if anyone is able to come in. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Mr. Malfoy. But what about you, sir?”
“I can’t move very far.” He told her, “I’ll stay here. Find a way to warn me if anyone comes.”
“Yes, sir!” Her high pitched voiced racked Draco’s head.
She bent to pick up the iron pan, telling Draco, “Should anyone come in, I shall warn you like this, sir!”
Stella dropped the iron skillet once more, clanging loudly on the ground.
Draco cried out in surprise and pain. “Alright, alright! Go do what I told you!”
“At once Mr. Malfoy!” She bowed quickly, running out of the room.
Draco lay his head down on the cushion of the couch, hearing the echoes of her squeaky voice bouncing off the entrance hall walls, hollering commands to the others.
He just needed a few hours sleep, he thought, and then he would leave for the Weasley’s.
He couldn’t do this anymore. If this is what being a follower entailed, he had to find another option. Bellatrix wouldn’t stop searching for him until he was dead. As far as he knew, he was as good as dead to any of them.
He had to find some way to get to Ashley.