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Chapter 5 : Draco Displaced
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Narcissa Malfoy winced at the sound of her son’s screams. She pulled her body along the smooth granite of the throne room floor. She had to reach Draco. The need was desperate and it drove her beyond the limits of her broken body. Something was wrong inside her–she could feel it. Her head hurt, her vision was blurry, her hearing muffled. Searing pain bit her consciousness with every centimeter she managed to crawl.
The Dark Lord was doing something to Draco, something painful and terrible. Voldemort stepped away and she could not clearly hear what he was saying. Something about the station to which he was born… and… Coward. Voldemort was calling Draco a coward.
Narcissa could no longer understand any of this. The truth was, she never had. Her husband’s ambitions and greed had taken her family down this path…
And for what?
Lucius was a prisoner in Azkaban, a confirmed Death-Eater, sentenced for life. And Draco, their only son, was paying a terrible price for the Malfoy failures under the yoke of the Dark Lord.
If Draco was a coward it was his father’s fault, she thought. And… my failure too... for never questioning Lucius’ actions.
She pulled hard along the floor, willing herself forward, despite the pain. She knew that the Death-Eaters would do nothing unless the Dark Lord ordered it, and so she forced herself closer, past them, toward her son.
Narcissa wanted to yell but her lungs rasped, refusing to hold enough air to utter sound.
The Dark Lord slashed at her sons face with his wand. Bright orange sparks flashed brilliant against Draco’s flesh, and as Voldemort turned away, she heard that word again; COWARD!
Draco fell to the floor, like a marionette, suddenly loosed from its strings. Narcissa reached him and pulled his body into her arms against her chest. He was limp, but she detected his shallow labored breathing. She could feel the blood of his wounds soaking the front of her robes as she held him tight.
“I am done with you both,” Voldemort’s voice was loud and angry… hateful.
Narcissa raised her eyes defiantly, as violet light erupted from the tip of Voldemort’s wand. There was a wrenching pull at the center of her being and she felt suddenly as though she were spinning off that pull. There was a burning flash of what seemed like lightless flame and the room disappeared. She clung to her son, closing her eyes against the dizziness that followed the spinning sensation.
The whirling persisted for what seemed a long time. She felt nauseous, but clung to her son, crushing him desperately tight in her clasped arms.
She felt the spinning begin to slow and the black-violet fog that was thick around them was fading green. Then, suddenly, everything was still and the world seemed bright in her eyes. The air was heavy and thick and fragrant with an Earthy rich under-scent. Her sight cleared and she could see a hundred shades of green as the shapes of trees and leaves filled her field of vision. The sun streamed down through a thick blanket of lush foliage.
Narcissa had never seen anything like this place. Her mind came up with a single word to identify it… Jungle… but the wildness of that word sent a shiver of fear down her spine. She felt her body giving way to unconsciousness, and she squeezed Draco in her arms to reassure herself that he was there.
And then the blackness consumed her.
Draco Malfoy stirred. He felt something tugging very gently at his hair. As awareness seeped into his consciousness, he felt weak, and sore, as though his whole body was stiff… hardened somehow. He moaned at the brightness intruding through his closed eyelids, but didn’t wish to open his eyes. As the fog of his mind cleared he registered strange sounds, birds; not the hoots of owls or the familiar caw of crows, but twitters and chirps, lighter and delighted. He could also hear splashing water, and oddest of all, the giggling laughter of children.
Draco opened his eyes. There was a child, tugging gently at his hair. A young girl, perhaps three or four years old, was coiling his white blonde hair around her small stubby brown fingers. The child’s face was broad and round and chestnut brown, and she had black hair, fine and straight shimmering like silk down her back. Her brown, nearly black, eyes shined with innocence and wonder as she examined him intently. She smiled wide at him and giggled delightedly at the sight of Draco’s pale gray eyes.
Draco’s confusion deepened. Where was he, how long had he been here, and how did he get to wherever here was? He was truly surprised that he was waking up at all, and so the incongruousness of his surroundings didn’t seem to register. He merely smiled at the girl and closed his eyes again.
Images welled in Draco’s mind, his body broken and bleeding… pain beyond tolerance, and the grotesque, serpentine face of Lord Voldemort, the narrow slit nostrils, the red, cat-like eyes, cruel and pitiless. Draco remembered, slowly, letting it wash over him.
Severus Snape had completed his task; he had been the one to kill Albus Dumbledore when Draco had hesitated. Then he had dragged Draco out of Hogwarts Castle. They had run, pursued by Harry Potter, to the entrance of the Hogwarts grounds and there they Apparated away. It had taken four separate Apparations, to arrive at the designated place, but they had made it. At first, Draco had thought this would mean safety, but he soon learned how punctilious the Dark Lord was.
The place appeared to be a very small open grove in an otherwise dark forest, but Draco had felt the hard stone at his feet. In the dim light of dawn he had noted the stones set in the ground in a circular pattern. A hooded Death-Eater had stepped forward from the shadows of the wood and held up what appeared to be the dry, fallen branch of a tree. Snape had taken it from the hooded figure and told Draco to grasp it. Amycus, Alecto and Fenrir Greyback each grabbed the branch as well and the five of them swirled away at the tug of the Portkey. Draco slammed hard against a cold stone floor and was hastily jerked up to his feet by Greyback.
The five of them stood before enormous doors, troll-sized double doors of carefully worked metals, entirety decorated in relief, the whole comprising a depiction of the violent mastery of all the known thinking races by one lone wizard. Giants, trolls dwarves, elves, centaurs, humans, and all manner of what Muggles would call mythical creatures were cowering at the feet of one all-powerful wizard. Draco scarcely had time to take in the images as the doors, groaned and creaked, pulling themselves open, inward on heavy iron hinges.
The Dark Lord was seated on a large throne at the opposite end of the room. He beckoned them to approach with a wave of his hand.
They had stepped forward as Voldemort rose from his seat. They reached the center of the room, some two or three meters before the Dark Lord, and dropped to their knees, each laying their wand on the stone before them. Voldemort approached, first stepping to the brother and sister Death-Eaters. He quietly commanded that they look up at him, and as they did he seemed to examine their faces at length, looking hard into their eyes. He flicked his wand whispering the incantation “Legilimens” and the two gasped a hard protracted intake of air. There were no words spoken thereafter, but clearly Voldemort was extracting the evening’s events.
After a minute Voldemort drew his wand away and the two slumped forward, bowing their heads. He placed his sickly gray, spidery hand on Amycus’ shoulder.
“Amycus, Alecto, Fenrir, You have served me well and faithfully this night, join the circle, my Death-Eaters.” The three had hastily retrieved their wands and backed quickly into the circle of cowled figures.
The Dark Lord had then stepped toward Draco and Snape. He seemed to ignore Draco, approaching Snape directly.
“Severus, my most valued servant…” his tone was oily, but betrayed no hint of emotion or intent, “How could you let this happen?” The Dark Lord did not wait for an answer, nor did Snape offer one. “The task was for the boy to complete… or to fail.”
Voldemort raised his wand at Snape and cried, “Crucio!” A green light leapt from the Dark Lord’s wand, engulfing Snape, who collapsed to the floor writhing in torturous pain. In a panic Draco leapt from his place, retreating away, but was caught and held fast by Fenrir Greyback.
“Did you think I did not know of Narcissa’s request?” Voldemort’s eyes glistened with delight as Snape’s body contorted and twisted on the ground. “Did you think I really wanted Dumbledore dead?”
A scream escaped Snape’s lips, such as Draco had not thought humanly possible.
“You entered into an unbreakable vow… which guaranteed your betrayal… And why?… To assuage the doubts of your fellow Death-Eaters… to prove your faithfulness to me…” Voldemort raised his wand and Snape rose from the floor, his body still twisting impossibly, jerking and seizing violently.
The Dark Lord stopped. Snape’s body crashed to the ground with a sickening thud. He was unconscious…or dead. Voldemort stepped near, crouching next to Snape. With an uncharacteristic tenderness he gently brushed a lock of slick hair out of Severus’ face.
“You were my most trusted servant… my most guarded spy… Is it possible that all this time you have been capable of deceiving me, your Lord… and Master?”
Voldemort looked confused, his voice a soft whisper. After a long pause, while the Dark Lord seemed to be staring at Snape… considering him carefully, his face changed, confidence flaming in his eyes, he spoke again, “No… That is simply impossible.” A grin slithered across the Dark Lord’s lips as he stood.
“Remove them from my sight,” he commanded imperiously, and Death-Eaters stepped forward to carry Severus and Draco away.
Greyback pushed Draco roughly from the room and escorted him down a long hall. They came to a broad spiraling staircase and descended several floors to a plain, thick wooden door. It was pulled open and beyond appeared to be several small rooms along a narrow damp corridor. Draco was unceremoniously tossed into one of these. He sat for a long time, shaking with fear, until exhaustion overcame him and he fell asleep in a heap on the floor.
Sometime later he was awoken roughly and dragged back before the Dark Lord. Voldemort had not demanded an explanation, or even offered to hear Draco’s pleas for understanding. He was simply forced to the floor and magically bound… and tortured.
Draco winced at the memory, the taunting, the whipping, the violation of his mind… and the mark.
Draco pushed himself up suddenly. He had been lying on a grass mat on a wooden floor, in some sort of open walled hut. There was a thatched roof above him. He glanced around frantically. The skin of his back felt sore, but he ignored it.
The little girl jumped back from him, surprised, but not really frightened.
“Who are you? Where am I?” he demanded.
The little girl looked at him wide eyed and said “Nuncha.”
Draco had no understanding at all what her word meant. It might have been a name. He pushed himself up to his feet and stumbled toward the edge of the wooden floor. His legs protested painfully as he tried to navigate the few steps to a crude wooden stair. He leaned heavily on a support pole and launched himself down the two steps.
He found himself falling face-first into the dirt. It was moist and cool against his skin. He pushed himself again noticing now that there were other huts clustered in a semi circle around a flat worn patch of land with a stone fire-pit at its center. There were people too, perhaps twenty, women and children, all of the same coloring as the little girl. They were noticing him, pointing and shouting to one another in a language that Draco could not understand. None seemed to be approaching.
On his feet again, Draco staggered across the flat ground toward the sound of falling water. He plunged down a worn path, clutching at tree trunks to steady himself as he slowly gained better command of his legs. He emerged from the path into a wide opening. There before him was a tall narrow waterfall, cascading into a pool of crystalline water. Here there were more people scattered about on large boulders at the waters edge and some in the water itself. These were, it seemed, mostly young girls, none older than himself. At another time he might have gapped at their nakedness in surprise, but as they clustered in the water away from him, shouting and pointing, he simply turned away moving toward the boulders at the waters edge.
Clamoring across the sun-warmed rocks, Draco sought a place amongst the stones where the water would be still and reflective. Beneath the shade of a large clutch of trees at the waters edge, he found it. He leaned down low against the rock, staring into the still water, and there it was. Cutting a jagged “X” across his face was the yellow stain that the Dark Lord had called the ancient mark of the coward.
Draco lifted his head skyward and screamed bayfuly, “No!”
He got to his hands and knees, still peering down at his own, now unfamiliar, face and began to sob.
There was movement behind him. He turned suddenly to face whatever it was and he was struck dumb at the sight of young woman. She was perhaps his age, within a year, two at most. Like the young girl at the hut, she was the rich deep brown of roasted chestnuts. She was dripping wet and wearing only a small drape of tanned leather across her hips. Her long black, wet hair, hugged her torso covering her breasts. Her face was pleasantly heart shaped with full cheeks, a small round nose and broad nostrils. She had a wide friendly smile, beneath shining black eyes. She spoke, but again Draco could not understand her words.
Instinctively, Draco launched himself back and toppled into the cool water with a splash.
He got to his feet sputtering in the waist deep water. He was aware suddenly of his own near nakedness, realizing that he was stripped to only his boxer shorts. He erupted in goose flesh in the coolness of the shaded pool.
The girl was giggling at him and shouting at her companions.
“Go away,” he yelled, and tried to wave her away. She stepped closer, considering him intently now.
She reached down and grasped an amber stone, which hung from a thong of leather at her hip. She deftly loosed its tie and raised it toward him, pointing. She spoke something, words clear and forceful, but still unfamiliar to Draco. A stream of yellow-gold light sparked from its tip and Draco felt a warm sensation wash over him. It felt as though a heated viscous liquid were dripping over his forehead, it seemed to encase his head and neck for a moment and then dissipate leaving a loud ringing in his ears. The rigging was slowly quieting.
Draco starred up at the girl in disbelief. This girl… this was a witch… a magical person like himself… but, nothing like himself. She deftly slung the stone back at her hip.
“You hear me now?” She said. “You understand my words?” Her voice was soft and cheerful, lyrical in his ears. His eyes widened with both recognition and disbelief.
“Come,” she said, “Come.” She stepped nearer the boulder edge and extended her hand toward him.
Hesitantly, still looking at her in wonder, Draco reached up and took her hand. As her flesh contacted his there was a pulse of something, like a beating of tiny insect wings along his arm and into his chest. It was gone before Draco could even properly consider it.
She pulled at him, helping him up onto the stone. He could hear the others giggling and it sounded to him distinctly like the twittering gossip of girls in the corridors at Hogwarts. He stood now next to this strangely beautiful girl. They were a study in contrast, she dark and exotic deep brown flesh, shining black hair and wide dark, dark eyes, and, he, pale pinkish flesh, with white-blonde hair and light gray eyes. He was a half head taller than her, as they stood, dripping on the shaded stone.
He moved to release her hand, but she held on, stepping away, guiding him cautiously across the boulders. He followed. Her hand was distinctly warm in his, the flesh of her fingers rougher than those of girls he had toyed with at Hogwarts, but pleasant and somehow reassuring.
They stepped to the path and started back toward the huts. The crowd of girls behind them were laughing and teasing with shouts that Draco was only half listening to. She blushed and smiled, and he smiled back at her as she led him away, up the path.
He noticed the lushness of this place now, the green everywhere, the softness of the earth beneath his feet, even on the well-worn path. The cool water had relieved much of the stiffness in his legs, but the pain of his back was still there. They moved quietly along the leaf canopied path and he began to notice the sounds of the place again, the twittering birds and shrieks of other animals in the trees around them. He looked up and noticed small dark monkeys leaping from limb to limb overhead.
“What is this place?” he asked finally.
She stopped, turning to him, her eyes bright and sparkling. She gestured around herself with her free hand. “This is our world,” she said with a smile. She could see that the answer was not enough for him. “The land of the Spirit People,” she offered.
“The Spirit People?” he repeated inquisitively.
“Yes, the Spirit People,” she said mater-of-factly as if no other explanation should be necessary.
Draco sensed that this was her understanding of the place and so he didn’t pursue it. “And, what is your name?” he asked.
“I am Titchi,” she said with a half giggle. “I am daughter of the Shaman, Watcher of the Word.”
“Titchi,” he repeated letting the simple two-syllable name echo in his mind. He smiled at her warmly, something that he felt his face was quite unaccustomed to. She smiled up at him shyly, suppressing another giggle and started up the path again tugging at his hand.
“Where is my Mother?” Draco asked Titchi, as the throng of people swarmed around him.
The people had approached as he and Titchi had emerged from the jungle path minutes before. They all, especially the children, seemed to want to touch him. It was momentarily disconcerting, but Draco realized that he was simply so different from them, and they were obviously curious. They were laughing and giggling, and some of them seemed to be saying words of welcome. He realized that he could only understand Titchi, her spell apparently only working between the two of them.
“They wish to know your name?” Titchi said, she was being tugged at too and apparently asked many questions.
“My name is Draco,” he said, “Draco Malfoy.”
“Dracho Malpoy,” Titchi repeated awkwardly.
“Dray-co… Maal-foy,” he said again slowly and a bit more loudly. She repeated his name once more, slowly, coming much closer with the second attempt. She turned to share this information with several women that were now surrounding her.
“Just call me Draco.” He said finally as he heard his name being pronounced poorly throughout the group now, and he began to laugh a little, the group laughing easily with him. He felt a gentle tug at the edge of his boxers and he looked down into the face of the little girl who had been at the hut where he had awakened.
“Dracho,” she said, smiling at him, and held out her arms, obviously wanting him to pick her up. He was aware suddenly that normally he would have found this whole scene rather repugnant. He shook the thought from his mind. That didn’t seem to be how he felt at the moment, these people were friendly and welcoming and he suppressed the notion that he should feel any particular way about them. He bent down and took the girl into his arms, pulling her up. She wrapped her arms around his neck with a smile and was saying something very animatedly.
Titchi was there again. “This is Nuncha,” she said, gesturing to the girl in Draco’s arms. “She says she is very glad that you woke up. And she likes your hair very much.”
The girl was curling Draco’s hair around her fingers again. Titchi pulled Nuncha away into her own arms and said something to her that Draco did not understand. The girl clearly frowned as she was set back to the ground, but she hurried away none-the-less.
“Nuncha, is my little sister,” Titchi said turning back to Draco, “Come,” she took his hand again, “You are still healing, we must get you back to the hut where you can be still.”
Draco allowed himself to be led a few feet, the gathering villagers moving with him, still reaching for him gently. Then the question had again occurred to him.
“Where is my Mother?” he repeated, this time more insistently.
Titchi Lead Draco toward a large raised hut. This structure was different from the surrounding huts of the village; it had solid wooden walls, made of rough-hewn planks. The seams where the planks butted together were sealed with some sort of thick tar, or tree sap mixed with mud. The door and windows were draped with sheets of leather. As they approached, Draco noticed smoke rising through the peak of the heavily thatched roof.
“My mother is in there?” he questioned as they came near the steps.
“Yes,” Titchi replied.
As they ascended the steps, Draco thought that it must be sweltering inside this closed hut, but as Titchi drew back the leather drape and he stepped inside he found it was definitely cooler. He realized that a simple cooling charm would do this, and he wondered what the extent of magic was within this unique community.
Once inside, his eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light of several low fires burning along a stone trough running through the center of the room. There were several earthen vessels suspended above the fires, each simmering with various colors of liquid. From all of the wooden beams there hung bunches of dried plants, and the air was full of fumes of various smoky and floral scents. Along one wall there were numerous clay pots of many shapes and sizes, some with lids of clay, or simple flats of wood that lay across their tops. There were also cages of woven wood containing small animals of several types.
Across the room at the far end there was a low platform upon which laid Narcissa Malfoy.
Draco stood still, watching his mother’s still form for some movement, which he could not detect. He felt Titchi’s warm hand on his arm.
“Go to her,” she urged, nudging him forward. “It is alright, she sleeps.”
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