Chapter 2 : One: "You Killed Him!"
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There was a blizzard on the first day of Christmas holidays. It started slowly enough that the train was able to depart, but it meant that those left at the school were stuck there without connection to the outside world. Wizards cannot apparate onto the Hogwarts grounds, and apparating in such weather as this would have been plain stupid. All those particles flying about ... well, you get what I mean. It’s just necessary to understand that no one from the outside world could get to Hogwarts.
“What about the Floo?” Albus scratched his cheek.
“Let’s say that it’s down too, but how?”
“They ran out of powder!” Lily cried.
Teddy shrugged. “That’ll do. Now to continue....”
Due to some circumstances with his parents, Draco Malfoy was one of the people stuck at Hogwarts during this snowstorm. He was one of the few Slytherins remaining behind, and definitely the only one of his friends. His only consolation was that the whole crowd of Weasleys, including Potter and the Mudblood, were not there either.
If he was truly lucky, the train would crash on the way to London and he’d be rid of the lot.
The image of the crushed train cars with many red-headed and blood-covered victims amused him enough to keep his mind occupied as he sauntered down the corridor, prefect badge gleaming. He didn’t mind having to stay at Hogwarts too much. His parents were becoming overly annoying lately, bothering him about “his mission” and his need to find a decent girl to marry. Better to stay here, in that case, and get some practice shooting curses at Peeves.
Draco hummed a little tune aloud, walking to the rhythm of the song. What was it? Not the Weird Sisters. He didn’t like them much. He didn’t really like any music. So why was he humming? It was a stupid tune anyways.
He passed by a window. The snow was falling faster and faster, faster than Crabbe and Goyle could consume a jelly baby each. That was a record to beat. How long before the snow mounds reached the front door of the castle? How much longer before the door was covered? At this speed, not long enough. He didn’t want the Weazle-bees coming back anytime soon.
Even if it meant being stuck in a castle with Longbottom, the Creevys, and the professors.
He could always use one of those secret passages to escape, if necessary.
“Wait! What secret passages? I’ve never heard–”
“Shut up, James!”
“I bet you know where they are, little brother.”
“Rose is right, shut up!”
“If you all don’t stop, I won’t finish this story."
“You haven’t even started it yet!”
Draco didn’t like having his thoughts interrupted. He didn’t like a great many things. He kicked at a pencil lying on the ground, wondering if he should place it outside of the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. It would be hilarious to watch Longbottom fall on his big bottom, crying out to his old bag of a grandmother in pain. With a laugh, Draco picked it up and put it in his pocket. You never knew when things like this could come in handy.
There was a noise from one of the intersecting corridors. A sort of squelched yelp. It was probably Peeves, Draco thought, yawning. This walk was boring him. There weren’t enough stupid first years to push around at this time of year; most of them had packed off to be with their families. Losers. Let them gather around their giant plump turkey and all the stuffing and all the desserts and all the.... Was he turning into Crabbe and Goyle, for Merlin’s sake? This was not a time to be thinking of food!
The noise repeated, this time weaker.
It was not a ghost.
He could have sworn the noise had been a word, a soft whisper clinging to the air.
But of course it couldn’t have been that word. There’d be no one down that corridor just now, would there?
Draco stepped forward, fumbling for his wand. He hated times like these, when he would sneak a glance behind him to see if his cronies were there, armed and dangerous. But no, he was alone with whatever else was there in the corridor.
The light from his wand did little to illuminate the shadows surrounding him. Even the torches in this area weren’t burning. That was strange. They only went off at night, and even then never completely.
There was something on the ground, a large lump. A person? He could see the arms and legs. Who? Whoever it was did not have on their robes, simply a jumper and trousers. Muggle clothes, Draco thought with a sneer. It was a wizard no better than he ought to be, and also one that appeared to be dead, or at least unconscious.
Grey eyes searching the shadows, Draco knelt down beside the prone body. He didn’t know why he was even sticking around in this creepy place. All the hairs on the back of his neck were raised, as though something was lurking in the shadows behind him, waiting to pounce. With a shudder, Draco swung around, nearly sprawling on the ground.
Nothing. There was nothing there.
He felt like was he trying to hard to convince himself of that, so he turned his attention back to the body in the corridor.
Perhaps he had already guessed that there would be no pulse if he touched the clammy throat. It was like he could smell death in the air, a pervasive scent his Aunt Bella would like as an au de toilette. He didn’t see or feel any blood, nor did he smell it. This was a death of a different sort. Probably magical. Perhaps poison. Who knew? Who cared?
He stopped himself. Why did he think this was murder? There were dozens of health-related issues which could easily cause someone to die, even if they were school-aged. Why in Merlin’s name was he thinking about someone being murdered? Was it because of his previous thoughts about the Weasleys dying on the train with Potter and Granger? As much as the picture of their mangled and lifeless bodies pleased them, he didn’t exactly want to be so close to death as he was now. It was a bit... creepy. Not that his father ever had to know that.
Who was this person, anyway?
Draco tipped his wand over the face. Scrawny face; spectacles; wide open green eyes; a lightning bolt scar... Oh no.
It was Harry Potter.
And he was dead.
He was supposed to be on the train back to London.
But he was here at Hogwarts.
Draco crab-legged back from the body, his wand falling aside, the light going out.
He was in the dark with the body of his nemesis and possibly there was a murderer hanging about waiting to kill someone else who happened to stumble past. Like him. He gulped, glad that no one else was there to see his terror, other than Potter, of course, but did that count?
Footsteps. He could hear footsteps. Someone was coming.
And then the thought finally occurred to Draco: what would someone think if they found him beside Potter’s very-much-dead body?
“Merlin’s pants! You mean he didn’t do it?” Hugo squeaked.
“What would mum say if she heard you swearing like father?”
“No more interruptions, please!”
Draco felt a bead of sweat trickle down the side of his face. He had to escape, get away from this ghastly scene of dreadful death, before someone found him there. Most of them didn’t trust him; they would string him up as the murderer of the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived. Then where would be his future glory as a great dark wizard?
He looked back at dead Potter. How could he think about being a dark wizard when he couldn’t even stand being near a dead body?
The footsteps were approaching, making their way down the same path Draco had only moments before. He wished that he had that gift of recognizing people’s footsteps. Pansy swore that she could do it, though he never believed a word she said in the first place. They echoed against the floor – the person was walking slowly, but with a heavy foot. He heard the person stumble against the uneven floor tiles.
Oh great. It was Longbottom.
A reasonable assumption in the circumstances, even though some of the younger students may also have been clumsy, but was anyone as truly awkward as Longbottom? Draco’s flustered brain was unable to come up with any other options. His flesh was creeping in the darkness of the corridor, the cold air draughting through the walls only making his goose-pimples more pronounced. His heart was racing, like he had been running a race, or snogging a girl, or... or...
Committing a murder.
It was beginning to sound like something from one of those mystery books.
He could see Longbottom’s silhouette against the backdrop of the torches in the next corridor. If he was lucky, Longbottom wouldn’t look this way, wouldn’t see his pale face in the torch-light with the beads of nervous sweat glistening upon his brow. The shadows surrounding him would mask these things, cloaking him in inky blackness.
Or maybe he had been seen.
He cursed the genetic line of his family for having light hair.
“What are you doing? Planning trouble?”
Yes, because Draco very much liked going around ‘planning trouble’ for the world.
“Go away, Longbottom.” He pulled the pencil out of his pocket. “A stupid arse like you dropped their pencil and I slipped. Now piss off.”
Longbottom hesitated, squinting into the shadows.
“Why are the torches off?”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Because I’m practising dark magic, you dolt.”
“What’s that beside you on the ground?”
Oh no, he wasn’t about to let Longbottom see the body. That would not turn out well.
“None of your business,” he sneered.
“What sort of dark magic were you doing anyway?”
Was the idiot actually taking him seriously? Draco had never thought Longbottom was this stupid, surely there was some semblance of brain matter lurking in that head of his.
“If you believed that–”
“Oh Merlin, it’s Harry!”
“You killed him!” Longbottom pointed at Potter’s prone form, his finger shaking.
“No.” In times like these, a matter-of-fact tone served best.
“You killed him with your dark magic! Just like... like... like...”
“The Dark Lord?” Draco sighed, wondering when this verbal tennis match would stop.
“Him! Your master!”
But Longbottom wasn’t about to listen. He tore off down the corridor.
“Help! Help! Malfoy’s killed Harry!”
Draco felt his skin go cold. The wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong body.
They were going to send him to Azkaban for murder. He took one look at the body and shuddered, already feeling the icy stone against his fingertips, the prison that could not be broken, the place in which his bones would rot... forever.
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