Chapter 3 : The Letter
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It was supposed to have been just another ordinary evening at The Burrow. Arthur Weasley would come home from work; late again, as always, and sit down to have another quiet meal with his wife. Meals were always quiet nowadays, because he and Molly were the only two there at The Burrow to enjoy them anymore.
Charlie had decided to move closer to home to help the support the Order, but he wasn’t staying with them. He was staying with Bill & Fleur at their cottage, claiming that the serene atmosphere of the sea helped him to focus more on the research he was doing for work.
Percy had is own flat in London. He wanted to be closer to his job at the Ministry, which Molly and Arthur were perfectly fine with. They had never fully made amends with their third son after he had chosen to walk out on them three years prior. Arthur saw Percy at work every day, and they were usually civil to one another for the sake of professionalism. They would make smalltalk from time to time, but it was always the same. Percy only ever asked his father about work, and how things were going with the Order. He never once asked about his mother or inquired about how any of his other family members were doing. A fact that Arthur had not once overlooked.
Fred & George were also in London, running their own rather successful joke shop out of Diagon Alley. They too were in the Order now. The twins were helping them to develop new weapons and spells that they could use to fight the Death Eaters with. After all; if Voldemort could invent his own spells and curses, then why shouldn’t they?
Molly and Arthur had both agreed that Ginny ought to finish her last year of school. And so, despite her best efforts to get out of going back, she had gotten on the train last week to go to Hogwarts for her seventh and final year of schooling. She was resentful at her parents for forcing her to go back, even though her older brother, Ronald, had not finished his seventh year before her. Ginny had wanted nothing more than to leave Hogwarts early and join the Order, but Molly and Arthur would not have their only daughter put in harm's way before she was even of age.
As for Ron, well, who knew where he was at anymore. It was hard to tell what he and Harry and Hermione were doing. They hardly ever came home these days, and when they did; it was only ever for a couple of days here and there, and then they would be off again. This had been going on for over a year now, ever since Dumbledore had passed on. They would never tell anybody where they were going, or what they were doing, so Molly and Arthur had both stopped trying to keep track of the three of them. For Arthur, it was easy not to think about Harry, Ron and Hermione; with everything that he had going on at work. But he knew that his wife did nothing but sit at home each day and wonder where their youngest son was, when he was coming home, or even if he was still alive for that matter.
And now the house that was once so full of life and activity, was empty and silent almost every day. All except for one night out of the week when the entire Order of the Phoenix would come together for another pointless meeting. Those nights were never fun, they were strictly business. And these days, business meant more and more increasingly bad news.
So far, both the Order and the Ministry were losing in the war against Voldemort, and everybody knew it. It always seemed that somehow, someway or another, the Dark Lord was always one step ahead of them. The Order’s members were dwindling down and they really couldn’t recruit too many more people, because they could never be entirely sure if the person was trustworthy or not. It was the same story in the Ministry as well. Rufus Scrimgeour was slowly losing the support of the people because the people didn’t trust each other anymore, let alone their own Minister. Good help was getting so hard to come by, because no one wanted to work at the Ministry anymore. Everyone knew that Voldemort was desperately trying to gain control over it, and no one wanted to be there when he inevitably accomplished this goal.
This, in turn, meant that Arthur’s work days were progressively growing longer and longer. He was spending more time at work than he was at home. And when he was at home, he was constantly thinking about work. Therefore, he looked forwards to coming home each evening and relaxing with his wife after a nice hot meal, before turning in for the night. This night, however, things were going to be different for a change. Their house was about to become full again, they just didn’t know it yet...
Arthur Weasley knew that something was off the second he apparated onto the front lawn. The atmosphere just didn’t feel right. He took in his surroundings. The first thing he noticed out of place was that there was something white sitting on the first porch step. He cautiously crept toward it, wand at the ready. Once he was close enough to examine the object, he realized that it was just an envelope.
Arthur breathed a sigh of relief, chuckling to himself for getting so worked up over something as small as an envelope. I guess one can never be too cautious, he thought to himself. He picked the envelope up and turned it over. It was addressed to him. The front of it said: Read this alone.
The sensation that something was wrong returned to him as he began to feel like someone was watching him. Arthur quickly scanned the area to make sure that no one was there. Once had reassured himself that he was alone, he turned his attention back to the letter.
The handwriting on the front of the envelope did look slightly familiar. Arthur had definitely seen it before, though he could not place who it belonged to. It didn't take him long to remember, however, for he realized at once whom this letter was from the second he opened it and started reading.
It was signed by the last person that Arthur Weasley ever would have expected to be writing to him: Lucius Malfoy. The letter read:
Please continue to read this. Do not throw this letter out, I beg of you. I know that I have absolutely no right to ask you for anything, and I know that you have every right to deny this request. But please, just hear me out. My circumstances have left me with no other option but to turn to you for help. Severus was right about one thing: the Order of the Phoenix are truly the only ones whom we can trust with this.
I need someone to help me save my son. When the Dark Lord finally rescued me from Azkaban, I thought that perhaps he had forgiven me for my past failures. But instead, he has decided to punish me by taking away the only two things that have ever mattered to me: my wife and my son. Narcissa is dead now; she gave up her life to protect Draco. The Dark Lord just killed her, without even thinking twice about it. Then he left Draco for dead, right along with Narcissa, and ordered me to deal with cleaning up their bodies.
I know it’s only a matter of time before he kills me too. But my life is of no importance to me anymore, not without Narcissa by my side. With Draco, however, it is a different story. She gave up her life to save his, so I must now honor her death by devoting what time I have left to protecting our son. But Draco cannot survive in this world alone, not yet. That is why I need someone to look after him. Someone who can take care of him and teach him right from wrong. Someone who can give him the love and attention that I never could. Someone like you, Arthur Weasley. You and the Order are the only ones who can offer Draco the protection that he so desperately needs right now. If the Ministry were to get a hold of him, he would be thrown into Azkaban for certain. If that were to happen, then he would surely die there, for he is not strong enough right now to withstand much more.
The Dark Lord has given Draco some sort of poison that was intended to end his life. Severus did what he could to try and slow it down, but we were in a rush to get him out of there. Should you decide to help him, and I truly hope that you will, I have provided you with a business card that may be used to contact our private Healer. Her name is Saleena Blackwell, and she’s the best there is. I am aware that her services will not come cheap, which is why I will also be leaving you with one thousand Galleons. I know that this is not much, and I wish that I had more to give, but that is the last of the money I have left to my name right now. As I’m sure you already know, once I was convicted, Gringotts put a freeze on my account. I cannot access my vault until the Minister allows it, and you and I both know that'll never happen, so long as I live.
But should you choose to take Draco in tonight, then the money will appear on your porch at midnight. Should you chose not to help him though, then the money will stay here with me and we will have to come back for Draco. I understand that you do have every right to refuse this request, Arthur. However, I am hoping that you will be able to set aside our differences; if not for my own, then for Draco’s sake.
No matter what happens after tonight, could you please just let Draco know that I am so sorry for everything. I love my son very much, and I have done all that I could to do right by him over the years. I just wish that I could have had the chance to explain everything to him myself. There is so much that he does not yet know... Just please Arthur, please find it in your heart to help him. Please do not accuse him for the sins that I have committed against you. It is not Draco’s fault, after all. None of this is. He is innocent. Just please… please help him Arthur.
Signed, Lucius Malfoy
Arthur scanned the letter several times, looking for any signs that might prove this was some kind of hoax. There were none. And, as if to confirm that everything stated in this note were true, he then heard a wheezing noise coming from the direction of their porch swing. He looked up and sure enough, there lay Draco Malfoy.
From a distance, he appeared to only be sleeping, but Arthur knew better. Poisons were not to be toyed with. Arthur sighed to himself as he wrestled with this new-found situation in his head once more.
The strangest thing is that Lucius isn’t just asking me to take Draco in, he thought to himself. He’s practically begging me to do this, and it isn’t like Lucius Malfoy to beg for anything. Is he really that desperate?
Arthur pondered over Lucius’ letter again for a moment. “He must be out of his mind for just leaving Draco here like this,” he muttered to himself. “I mean, what would he do if I said no? After all he's done, I very well could just walk away and leave the boy out here.”
From up on the porch, Draco groaned and stirred in his sleep. Arthur walked up to where Draco was laying and stared down at him, deep in thought. On the outside, Draco looked like the same boy he had seen on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters when Harry and Ron were in school, but Arthur knew for certain that the young man before him was suffering on the inside. That was the thing with magical injuries; they barley left any trace of pain or injury on a person from the outside view.
Again, Arthur found himself wrestling with the decision. Who would even put their child in this position? He wondered to himself.
Draco started coughing and gagging as he began struggling to catch his breath. He lost his balance and began rolling off the porch swing, but Arthur caught him and gently lowered him onto the floor. He noticed how oddly light Draco was and, upon taking a second look at him, he saw that the boy was incredibly thin as well.
Arthur knew, right then and there, that not taking Draco in was not an option.He sighed to himself. What if this were my son? he thought. Would I be desperate enough to trust his care with someone else; even someone like Lucius Malfoy, if that were the only sure way to save him?
The mere thought of this made him shudder, but he knew in his heart that he would do just that, if it was necessary, to save any of his children.
Arthur looked back down at Draco. Judging by his appearance, his condition seemed to be worsening by the minute. He knew right then that if he were to walk inside and refuse to help Draco, then he would not survive the night.
And in that moment, Arthur had his mind made up. If anything were to happen to Draco, it would be on his conscience, and he could not bear to have that. Especially not knowing that, even in his last moments, Dumbledore himself seemed to have been bent on saving the Malfoy boy. Arthur sighed to himself. “ I just don't know how I am going to break this to Molly,”
Just then, the front door creaked opened and Molly stepped out onto the porch. “Arthur?” she inquired. But when he did not answer her, she began to make her way towards him. “The clock showed that you got home about ten minutes ago, and when you didn't come inside I began to worry. What has kept you out here for so long? Is everything alright?”
She reached down and placed a hand on her husband's shoulder. He still didn’t look up at her though, so she followed his gaze down to the floor. She took one look at the boy who was laying before them and she recognized him at once. “Arthur!” she exclaimed, “is that who I think it is?”
“Yes. It’s Draco Malfoy,” he answered shortly.
“And what is he doing here?” she snarled.
“Lucius wants us to take care of him.”
“Yes, I'll bet he does,” Molly spat. “What’s wrong with him anyways? Why can't Draco just take care of himself? He's of age now, isn't he?”
“It seems that Voldemort has gotten a hold of him,” Arthur quietly replied.
“Enough said,” Molly nodded, calming down a bit. “But how exactly do you know all of this, dear?”
“Draco was out here on the porch when I got home. Lucius left me a note. Here,” he handed Molly the letter so that she could read it.
There was a brief moment of silence as Molly read over what Lucius had written. By the time she finished reading, she was outraged once more. “Oh, so now he has decided to step-up and be a parent for once in his life!” she exclaimed. “I don’t like this Arthur. I don’t like this one bit. And to be honest, I really want no part in any of it.”
Arthur shrugged. He was tired from work, and therefore not in the mood to argue with his wife. “Molly, we should at least bring him in and contact his Healer, don't you think? I mean, just look at the boy. He clearly needs help from a professional. Here, look. Lucius even left us with a card to contact her.” He held out the contact card for Saleena Blackwell, but Molly just glared at it.
“Since when do we abide by what Lucius Malfoy wants?” she spat.
“Molly, are you kidding me?” Arthur asked. He could not believe that she was reacting like this. “You’re not seriously asking me that question. Don’t you remember how Dumbledore wanted Draco to be safe, more than anything? He even extended the Order’s protection to Draco on the very same night that he- well, you know. That night. This was Dumbledore’s idea before it was Lucius Malfoy’s. So I just feel that we should respect Dumbledore’s wishes. His last ones at that.”
“Yes, of course I remember that,” Molly exclaimed. “But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it any. Do you honestly think that I want that thing,” she pointed a hand at Draco, “in my house after all of the damage that he has caused already? The Order can protect him all they want to, but I will be damned if I allow a Malfoy to dwell under this roof!” Molly stopped raging and paused to catch her breath.
“Are you through now?” Arthur asked calmly. She merely glared at him. “Right. Well, Molly dear, we very well can't just leave him out here to die, now can we? I for one do not want this boy's death on my conscience. Therefore, I think that we need to take him in and contact his Healer, and soon too.” But his wife did not seem to be changing her mind on the matter. “Molly, he’s just a boy,” Arthur said softy. “Imagine if this were one of our boys, and we had to ask someone else for help.”
“I would never let anything like this happen to one of my boys!” she said defensively.
Arthur sighed. He needed a way to make his wife see where he was coming from on this. He decided to try a new approach. “Molly, if we agree to take Draco in, the letter says that Lucius will send us a thousand Galleons to take care of him.” This approach, however did not work.
“I don’t want Lucius Malfoy’s money!” she shrieked. “He can take his money and shove it up his -”
“- Alright, Molly, I get it,” he yelled, cutting her off sharply. “Look, I don’t like the thought of this any more than you do. But we need this right now. We have given everything we have to keep the Order stable and running. Our funding is running out, even with all of the extra hours I’ve been pulling at work. It’s just not enough, dear. But Lucius has given us enough to take care of Draco, and then some. Why can’t you just let go of his past and give this boy a second chance?”
“You’re not seriously being conned into one of Lucius’ bribes, are you Arthur?” Molly shook her head disbelievingly. “This is what he does to people, Arthur. This is how he gets his way all of the time. Why can’t you see that he is just playing with you to get what he wants?” Molly was yelling again. “I never thought I’d live to see the day when my husband would be bought out by Lucius Malfoy; of all people!”
“I am NOT being bought, Molly!” he yelled back. “I don’t give a damn about Lucius Malfoy, or his filthy money. In fact, I’ll tell him where he can shove it, if that’s what you want. But this is not about Lucius, Molly. It’s about Draco, for crying out loud. I know that that, realistically, this would never happen with one of our children. But could you at least try to imagine, for just a moment, if this were our son? What would you do, Molly, if Lucius Malfoy was your only option?”
Molly sighed. She did see where he was coming from, but she still didn't like it any. “Well, I guess that I would do whatever was necessary to save my baby,” she admitted. “But Arthur, this is way diff-”
“It is not any different,” he said, speaking calmly now. “Surprising as it is, Lucius has decided to cast aside our differences and be a real father for a change. Now, if you ask me, I’d say that he made the wisest decision tonight, bringing Draco here to us. You read that letter, so you know that Voldemort killed his mother and then left him for dead tonight. Draco has been poisoned, and he is clearly suffering as a result of this. Just look at him, Molly. This boy needs us.”
Molly looked down at Draco once more and there was silence between the two of them. The only sound that could be heard was the wheezing and gasping of Draco's breath. Arthur could not tell what his wife was thinking, but he could tell that he was beginning to wear her down.
“Just think about it this way,” he offered. “If we allow him to stay here, Draco would have to follow our rules. We could fix him up, set him straight. You know, teach him what it’s like to go without, and how it feels to actually work for something you really want.”
“You can’t fix the world, Arthur,” Molly sighed.
“No, you're right. We can't do that,” Arthur agreed. “But if we straighten Draco Malfoy up, it will certainly be doing the world a favor. After all, we don’t need another Lucius Malfoy clone running around.”
Molly couldn't help but to chuckle. “That’s for sure!”
At that moment, Draco began gagging again and gasping for air. This time, he coughed up a small amount of blood. Molly gasped in surprise as she stared down at Draco in horror.
Arthur started patting him on the back in an attempt to help, but it didn't seem to be doing him any good. He noticed then that Draco's skin was hot to the touch and he gently placed a hand to Draco's forehead. "He's burning up, Molly. We have to get him inside and contact his Healer. NOW!”
Molly was staring at Draco in shock. He was, after all, the same age as Ronald, which was way too young to be dealing with things like this in her opinion.
What evil has Draco actually caused? she wondered to herself. None that she could think of. The only sin she could accuse the boy of was running around with the Death Eaters. But then again, when your father was one and your mother went along with whatever, did you actually have a choice?
Maybe he just did what was expected of him, Molly thought. After all, it really is all about how you’re raised and brought up. Parents need to love and nurture their children so that they’ll grow up and turn into respectable adults. They need guidance in order to keep a good head on their shoulders. They need to be encouraged, and taught right from wrong. All things in which I am certain that Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy clearly have failed to teach this poor boy. He really is just a victim of bad parenting, if you ask me...
And it was then that Molly Weasley finally understood where her husband had been coming from all this time. Draco was innocent. Dumbledore knew it. Arthur knew it. Even she knew it, although she was reluctant to admit it.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Molly said, shaking her head. “But, I think that we really do need to take Draco inside and help him tonight. You’re right Arthur; he needs us right now, and it would be dreadful of us to just leave him out here to die. This boy is innocent. I’ve searched and I can find nothing to accuse him of. After all, he can’t help who his parents are.”
Arthur smiled warmly at his wife. “Thank you, Molly. You know we’re doing the right thing.”
“I know,” she said smiling back. “Because you always know what’s right Arthur. You tend to always find the good in people, and you believe in giving anyone a second chance. You are the most kind and forgiving person I know, Arthur Weasley, and that is why I love you. In fact,” she leaned down and kissed her husband on the cheek. “That is just one of the many reasons that I married you.”
“Now there’s the Molly I know and love,” he joked, hugging his wife. “It’s funny how the tiniest things in a war can threaten to tear people apart. Why, just look at how terribly we were fighting a moment ago. And over something so trivial, at that. All we have to do is lay our differences aside and work together for the greater good. Is that not what Dumbledore always tried to tell us? Wasting our breath on silly prejudices will get us nowhere. ’The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ they always say. And I highly doubt that Draco is friends with Voldemort after tonight.”
“In a weird way, what you just said actually makes perfect sense, dear.” Molly and Arthur both laughed together. “Oh no, Arthur. I’ve just had another thought!” she exclaimed.
“And what might that be dear?”
“How are we ever going to break this to the kids?”
“Well, they aren’t children anymore, Molls” he answered. “And besides, the only one we’ll really have to worry about is Ginny, when she comes home for break. Ron, Harry and Hermione are hardly ever here, and they won’t tell us where they’ve been going or what they’ve been doing. They always opt to act in secrecy, so I don’t see how they should be given much of a say in anything we so choose to do in our own home.”
“Well yes and no. I mean, this is still Ron and Harry’s home too.”
“Technically speaking, Harry has his own place to go to if he doesn’t like the way we run things around here.”
“Arthur, you know how he feels about going there,” she said in Harry’s defense. “He hasn’t fully dealt with loosing Sirius yet. You can’t possibly ask him to go and live in that place.” Little did Molly know, however, the trio had been spending quite a bit of time at Grimmauld Place recently.
“You know I wouldn’t do that to Harry, dear,” he reassured her. “I was just saying that we have the right to do as we please now. This is our home, and even though they are all technically adults now, they are still the children, and we are still the parents.” Molly nodded in agreement. “Now, lets get him inside and get him all settled in, shall we? I'll take him in and lay him on the sofa. In the meantime, could you please summon his Healer?” He handed his wife the contact card. “Here’s her card.”
Draco winced and groaned again as Arthur lifted him up. He carried him inside and carefully laid him on the couch. Molly did as she was asked, and summoned the Healer. Then she went inside to join her husband in the living room. Together, they awaited her arrival in silence...
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