Draco held the vial up to his eyes, grimancing in disgust. “I’m not drinking this,” he stated, shaking the vial slightly, watching as the thick, murky liquid sloshed around. Ron rolled his eyes. He was sitting by the fire, Lavender standing behind him with her hand resting lightly on his shoulder.
“It’s fine, Malfoy,” the redhead replied wearily, rubbing at his head.
“I’m not drinking this,” Draco repeated, throwing Ron a thoroughly disgusted look.
“Malfoy, don’t be such a baby. It’s perfectly fine. Right, Hermione?” Ron asked.
Hermione was peering into the cauldron on the table, examining the contents with a small frown on her face, her eyes occasionally flying to a Potions textbook open at her elbow. At Ron’s words, she lifted her head and sighed. “Yes Ron, it’s fine. You did a good job, although I think we are all lucky Lavender was here to help,” she added, and Ron scowled at the insult to his potion making skills, muttering something under his breath that Draco was sure sounded like, “stupid Malfoy.”
“You ready then?” Harry asked, coming to stand beside Draco, who shook his head.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for this,” the blonde muttered, trying desperately to clamp down on his nerves. Within half an hour, he would be disguised as Snape, meeting a dangerous Death Eater in a dark, deserted alley. He would rather be home in bed, watching television, Hermione curled beside him, trying to sleep and complaining that the television was too loud. Draco watched warily as Harry picked up a small glass jar from the table, holding it up to his eyes. Inside the jar was a single hair, long, black and greasy looking, and Draco swallowed. Harry raised his eyebrows, opening the jar and lifting out the hair gently.
“Glad it’s you and not me, Malfoy,” he said with a grin, turning to Draco.
“Very comforting, Potter. Can we get on with it?” Draco snapped irritably, holding out the vial. Harry very carefully dropped the hair into the potion, which hissed and instantly turned a lurid grey, the colour of dirty dishwater. Lavender gave a weak, girly scream as the potion spat and bubbled, and Draco saw Hermione roll her eyes as Ron put his arm around the other woman, pulling her close in comfort. Draco eyed the potion suspiciously, resiting the urge to vomit. The smell pouring from the vial was the most putrid thing he had ever smelt, and by the looks on the faces of those around him, he could tell they felt the same. A slight shudder went through his body at the thought of drinking the horrid liquid. Draco pressed his lips together tightly. There was no way he was going to swallow that stuff; no way in hell.
“Malfoy, come on. We’re running out of time,” Harry hissed at him, and Draco sighed. He glanced across the room to find Hermione looking at him, a sad and rather desperate expression on her face. Draco shoved the vial at Harry, who almost dropped it in surprise, before crossing the room to gather Hermione in his arms, pulling her body as close to his as he could. He kissed her deeply and passionately, not caring that they had an audience, only releasing her when Harry hit him across the back of the head, telling him to hurry up. With a sigh, Draco held out his hand, tipped his head back and swallowed the contents of the vial in one go. If anything, the taste was worse than the smell, and Draco silently cursed Ron, swearing under his breath that the redhead must have put something exceptionally foul in there just out of spite. Draco stood still, waiting. Nothing seemed to be happening yet, and he rolled his eyes.
“You appear to have stuffed things up again, Weasley,” he drawled, and then froze in shock, realizing that the voice escaping his lips was not his own pleasant tenor but the droll, flat monotone of Severus Snape. Without warning, Draco was hit with an incredible burning sensation. He doubled over with the force of the pain, feeling flames race through his blood. He itched terribly, as if a thousand ants had made his body their home. His very bones seemed to break apart, before fusing back together; his skin seemed stretched and then shrunken; his vision blurred and his head felt like it was about to split open. He closed his eyes, falling to his knees, and preyed it would end soon.
Almost as soon as it began, the burning stopped. Draco opened his eyes; his first thought was that he had gone blind, before he realized he was looking at the world through a curtain of greasy black hair. Draco reached up, brushing his nose as he pushed the hair out of his eyes. As his fingers came away slightly oily, he swallowed in disgust, realizing at the same time that his nose was no longer perfect and straight, but rather large and hooked. With a shudder, Draco pulled himself to his feet, using the edge of the table for support. Lavender screamed, and Draco spun to face her, startled. Ron was staring at him with a look of horror. Lupin, seated in the shadows on the other side of the room merely smiled in satisfaction, giving Draco a slight nod. Supressing a sigh, Draco turned to Hermione, who took a small step away from him in shock, blinking rapidly. He narrowed his eyes at her, watching her sink weakly into a chair.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, staring at him. “It’s just been such a long time since …” She attempted a smile, and failed, turning her gaze instead to the table. Draco switched his irritation to Ron, who was still standing staring at him as if he had grown another head, his mouth slightly open, and his face pale.
“Shut your mouth, Weasley,” Draco snapped, and Ron shook his head.
“Bloody hell!” he whispered. “That’s just so wrong.”
“Malfoy,” Harry said quickly, laying a restraining hand on Draco’s arm. Draco had taken a step towards Ron, his face murderous, wanting desperately to unleash his frustration and fear on somebody. He turned to Harry, noticing his pale face and angry eyes. Harry was only just keeping his hatred for Snape beneath the surface, and Draco had no wish to be on the receiving end of his anger.
“So what now, Potter?” Draco snapped, feeling incredibly irritated. McGonagall had sent some of Snape’s old clothes over, and Draco had changed earlier, before taking the potion. He tugged at the high collar of his stiff shirt. No wonder Snape was always annoyed, Draco thought, feeling very uncomfortable in the tight shirt.
“We’ll apparate directly to Knockturn Alley. Yes Malfoy, I’m still coming with you,” Harry added sternly as Draco opened his mouth. Ron came forward, his wand out, and Draco watched with interest as the redhead tapped Harry gently on the top of his head. Slowly, Harry’s form dissolved, until Draco could not see him at all. He nodded, impressed, realizing Harry’s body had taken on the colour and texture of everything around him.
“Alright, Potter, you can come,” he said, feeling slightly foolish talking to someone he could not see clearly. Lupin gave a small cough, standing up, his face sickly and pale in the firelight.
“You have less than an hour. Remember, Draco, don’t do anything if you feel you are in danger. This is not about you playing the hero. Harry will be there to back you up if something does go wrong, and Fred and Angelina will be stationed nearby just in case you need them. Good luck,” Lupin said softly, before sitting down again, folding his robes around his thin body. Lavender gave Draco a hesitant smile, which he returned with a scowl. Feeling Hermione at his side, Draco turned to face her. She gave him a weak smile.
“I’d kiss you, but …” she mumbled, and he shrugged.
“Let’s go, Malfoy,” Harry spoke from somewhere behind him, and Draco jumped as a hand descended on his shoulder. Draco nodded, his heart dropping into his stomach as nerves gripped his insides. He took a deep breath, before allowing Harry to drag him through the suffocating darkness to Knockturn Alley.
Draco looked around nervously, trying desperately to see into every dark pocket of Knockturn Alley. It was bitterly cold, and he shivered, watching with dread as mist swirled ominously over the wintry, black ground. Knockturn Alley was swathed in darkness, and Draco felt eyes boring into his body. He knew members of the Order were nearby, but this felt different. He tugged at his robes, pulling them closer to his body, feeling extremely vulnerable.
“I don’t like this,” he whispered to Harry, who he assumed was standing somewhere close by.
“Shut up. You’ll blow our cover,” Harry hissed from the darkness behind Draco’s shoulder, his voice low and angry. Draco felt a hand in the small of his back, and he scowled as Harry pushed him deeper into the Alley. Draco bit back an angry retort, freezing as he heard slow, hesitant footsteps echoing from the blackness around him. He stood up straight, adjusting his robes and taking a deep breath, focusing his thoughts, preying silently that Blaise did not know Legilimency. He did not feel strong enough to be able to repel any attacks on his mind.
Blaise Zabini stepped from the shadows, suprising Draco with his nearness. He was wearing a long black cloak, the hood pulled up, concealing his features. Seeing Draco, Zabini reached up and slowly removed his hood, dipping his head slightly in a respectful greeting.
“Severus,” Zabini said meekly, his voice whispered.
“Don’t use my name you fool,” he snapped, enjoying watching the blood drain from Zabini’s face. Blaise narrowed his eyes, recovering quickly.
“You contacted me,” he replied pointedly, and Draco scowled. He reached forward and grabbed hold of Zabini’s arm, dragging him deeper into the Alley, his nrvousness evaporating now that the mission had begun.
“It’s not wise to speak so blatantly Zabini, or did my Master never tell you that?” Draco replied in a low voice, letting his lip curl in what he hoped was a perfect imitation of Snape.
“You dare refer to the Dark Lord as Master? Where have you been Snape? Where were you when the Dark Lord fell, murdered by that pathetic Potter and his Mudblood girlfriend?” Blaise retorted angrily. Draco was momentarily stunned. He had no idea Hermione had been there when Harry killed Voldemort. Blaise made it sound like she had even helped. Draco felt a strong surge of pride run through his veins. How could he have not known she was there? He had never thought to ask her what happened during the war, assuming she would not want to talk about it. Blaise was looking at him with narrowed eyes, and Draco quickly pulled himself together, slipping effortlessly back into character.
“The Dark Lord never questioned where my loyalties lay, Zabini. He knew I was his true servant, even through all those years of playing Dumbledore’s pet,” Draco hissed in reply. “I proved that, as you know.”
Zabini laughed with relish, his eyes twinkling. “Oh yes, I remember, Snape. You had to clean up the Malfoy brat’s mess. I always knew he was too cowardly to do it. The Dark Lord should have picked me instead.”
Draco felt anger fly through his body, but he controlled his expression, shifting his face into a sneer. “Malfoy’s failing was…unfortunate, but not of our concern anymore. He’s gone.”
“He returned, Snape. Several years ago. He came back to us, claiming, as he did before, that he was a loyal servant of the Dark Lord. But he lied! When things got too tough for him, he ran to Potter and his little mates,” Blaise hissed with hatred, before narrowing his eyes at Draco. “How do I know it’s really you?”
Draco felt his heart drop into his shoes, and his mouth dried up at the look in his former friends eyes. He reisted the urge to swallow. “Do you think I would be stupid enough to leave anything of mine just lying around where someone could get their hands on it?” he improvised. Blaise suddenly drew his wand, pointing it at Draco’s heart. His blood ran cold as he stared in terror at the wand tip, hovering not two inches from his chest, and he preyed Potter would live up to his reputation if needed. He glared at Blaise.
“Show me,” Zabini demanded, motioning towards his arm, and Draco sighed in relief, instantly rolling the sleeve of his robe up, exposing the Dark Mark. Blaise gripped Draco’s forearm tightly, running his fingers over the Mark, examining it. Draco repressed a shudder at the touch of Blaise’s skin on his. He jerked his arm away, pushing his sleeve back down. He reached up and roughly pushed Zabini’s wand away from his body, sneering at him. Blaise nodded, satisfied, sliding his wand back into his pocket.
“So,” Draco said flatly, “you want to know why I contacted you?” Blaise nodded, his eyes eager and alert. “You have been careless,” Draco continued smoothly, “word has reached my ears that the Death Eaters are active again. I am assuming you have a plan, Zabini, and this is not just an opportunity to engage in a little pointless activity to indulge your lust for bloodshed.”
Blaise nodded again. “I have found a spell. One that will allow me to attain the powers of the Dark Lord, drawing them from beyond the grave. I will become the vessel for this power. Nothing will be able to stop me, not even Potter. I will succeed. It is my destiny,” he cried, his voice rising slightly in both volume and pitch. He was looking at Draco expectantly, and Draco got the unsettling feeling that Snape was meant to know about the properties of this spell. Draco, however, had no idea what Zabini was talking about.
He rolled his eyes. Stupid little zealot, he thought, vowing to be there when the Order took Zabini down. “Naturally,” he drawled sarcastically. “You were one of my top students, but just what makes you think you have the expertise to work this spell?”
Blaise opened his mouth to reply, but was prevented from answering. A light female voice cut through the darkness.
“Blaise? Are you there?”
Blaise’s face contorted in anger, and he spun to face the newcomer. The woman was tall and slim, her body wrapped in a dark cloak, the hood pulled over her head. She was standing in the shadows behind Blaise. Draco studied her, feeling a tingle run along his spine. There was something familiar about her. He had no idea where she had come from. He could only guess she must have apparated soundlessly further along the alley.
“I didn’t realize we would have company, Zabini,” Draco intoned coolly, watching the woman closely.
“What are you doing here? You shouldn’t have come,” Blaise snapped at her, and Draco noticed she took a slight step away from the force of his anger. Draco saw her lips curve into a pout, and he felt his heart speed up. He had seen that look before, and recently.
“Malfoy came to my house,” the woman answered bluntly, and Draco felt his breath catch in his throat. He hissed into the darkness, a small sound escaping his lips, and she lifted her eyes to his face. “Professor, how are you?”
“Take that hood off your head, Parkinson; you look ridiculous,” Draco managed to ground out, his brain feeling like it was floating outside his body. Pansy smiled and blushed, lifting her hands to pull the heavy woolen hood away from her face. Draco felt his blood run cold at the sight of her pale face. Her eyes were glowing with sickening triumph. He swallowed, realizing he had sorely underestimated the extent of her hatred.
“So Malfoy came to visit you? What did he say?” Blaise asked Pansy, drawing her closer to his body, his arm sliding around her waist. Pansy smiled up at him with the same adoring look she used to bestow on Draco, who instantly felt extremely ill. Fire began to race through his veins, and his shirt suddenly became more constricted around his chest. His skin itched, and his scalp began to tingle. With horror, he realized his time was up.
“As interesting as this is,” Draco drawled, “I cannot stand around here all night. Don’t contact me, Zabini – wait for me to contact you.”
Blaise nodded, and Draco turned and slipped gratefully into the darkness, hurrying back to where Harry was waiting, his head spinning with the force of a hurricane.
A/N: Well, what did you think? Comments? Suggestions? Did it live up to what you thought it would be? Thanks guys!!