Chapter 115 : What Is Most Important
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Lucius felt strangely serene. By now used to not carrying a wand, he sidled up to his wife and reached for her hand. "We will find him soon," he whispered as quietly as he could, hoping she could hear him. "We will find Draco."
"He's alive," she replied, her voice so soft it was almost swept away by the wind. "He's alive."
He squeezed her hand again, admiring her optimism but unable to share it. He did not see how Draco could have survived his latest assignment – to guard a tapestry in the castle in case the Potter boy went looking for it. While he didn't believe that Potter would have killed his son, he was not so sure about others who were fighting against the Dark Lord. To some people, any Malfoy was fair game.
Narcissa gripped his hand fiercely as they followed the dark shape of Lord Voldemort. She too was wandless, having given hers to Draco so that he would at least be armed on his foray into the battle zone. They, it was hoped, would not be disadvantaged by not having their wands. They would not be fighting.
However, things started going wrong almost as soon as they reached the castle proper. The Dark Lord's spells were not holding for some reason, and the Longbottom boy pulled an ancient sword from the Sorting Hat somehow and used it to slice off the head of Nagini. Worse still, Potter's body went missing.
"What happened to Potter?" he asked his wife, hoping the body hadn't been carried away by their opposition. Even in death, Potter still had some leverage.
"He's not dead," she muttered.
He stared at her. "WHAT?"
"Not dead," she repeated. Fortunately their conversation was muffled by the sound of the resistance and they were unlikely to be overheard. "He was breathing. And I asked him if Draco was still alive and he said that he was."
He kept staring. "You – LIED – to the Dark Lord?" He wasn't sure if he was more impressed with her nerve for trying it in the first place, or the fact that she had succeeded.
She nodded resolutely. "Yes. If it would enable me to come here and search for my son, I would do anything."
It was a sentiment he couldn't argue with, and for the first time since they had bade Draco farewell a few hours earlier, he allowed himself to hope that his family could be reunited. At that moment he felt he truly understood his wife – she felt that victory in the battle, in the war, was less important than having the three of them together again, safe and unharmed.
As they neared the castle, he was highly conscious that their lack of wands or weapons of any sort was a major hindrance. Not even the most naive combatant would believe that they would be able to just walk into the castle unassailed, not when they were well known to be in Voldemort's inner circle.
"How will we get in?" he asked.
She didn't need to confirm what he meant – they were both thinking the same thing. "Wait till my sister is distracted," she said. He shuddered a little: Bellatrix, a formidable witch with loyalty ONLY to the Dark Lord, would certainly ask questions about their intentions if she saw them skulking off. "If she and the Dark Lord are both occupied with other things, we might have an opportunity."
"But we can't just walk in the front door," he pointed out, stating the obvious while thinking furiously. "Following on the back of a victorious party, perhaps, but not if they are still fighting." He paused. "We will remove our masks and cloaks," he said eventually. "While we might be recognised for ourselves we won't be seen as Death Eaters. Some people may even think we're on their side." Another pause as he considered his position, including what would happen to him and Narcissa if Voldemort realised what they were doing. "Though they might not be as wrong as they think," he went on.
Narcissa nodded again. "If we stay close to the walls we might be able to move around to find him," she added. "Here –" and she tied a dark scarf around her brilliant blonde hair – "this might fool them for a moment."
"The resistance, or Bella?" he asked quietly.
"All of them," she responded.
There was enough confusion around them for them to be able to slip away unseen and head for the oak doors of the castle. Lucius kept his cloak and hood on until they reached the front steps, because his fair hair would have shone out like a beacon, but once under the shadow of the buttresses he discarded the garment entirely. As he had pointed out to Narcissa a minute ago, it marked him too readily as a Death Eater.
It was chaos inside and they spent a lot of time trying to dodge wayward spells, fighting tables and falling debris, all the while searching for the pale blond hair and pointed face of their son. Up stairs and along corridors, through tunnels and behind tapestries, they searched everywhere they thought Draco might be. They even looked in the Slytherin common room, on the theory that he might have sought shelter there from the tumult above.
Finally, after almost giving up, they spotted him. Just outside the Great Hall, staring transfixed at what was happening in that room, their son was partially hidden by a fallen statue. Narcissa ran to him.
"Draco!" she cried breathlessly. "You're all right!"
"Sshhh," Draco admonished, putting a finger to his lips. "Watch."
They turned and stared at the spectacle inside the Hall. Harry Potter, indeed alive as Narcissa had indicated, was staring down the Dark Lord himself, not far from the obviously dead body of Bellatrix Black Lestrange.
"What's happening?" Narcissa asked.
Draco shrugged. "Potter appeared from nowhere," he said. "Though I don't know what he's waiting for. One of them should just do it." His voice was dispassionate and Lucius worried that their son had become ruthless in his time in the Death Eaters. Proud, he expected. Superior was only to be expected of a Malfoy. Ruthless, however, was too much like Bella. Lucius did not like ruthless.
Suddenly they were accosted from behind. "What's this?" asked a voice, and they turned to see a sword pointed at their faces, its owner – the Squib caretaker, Filch – snarling with disgust. "Death Eaters, unmarked? We might need to do something about this."
He noticed Draco immediately reach for his mother's wand, but he put a hand over his son's and pulled both wife and child towards him. "We're unarmed," he said quickly, holding up both hands. "We just came in to find our son. We're not here to fight."
"A likely story," said Filch, leering a little at them as he waved his sword around randomly. "I should take you to the Aurors. See what they think, having Death Eaters at large."
"I think they might be busy right now," Draco said churlishly, jerking a thumb towards the Great Hall.
"Besides," Lucius added, pulling his family even closer as the scream of Voldemort carried from the adjacent room, "we're not Death Eaters." He realised the truth of the words as he said them, and a smile began to form on his lips. "Not any more."
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