It wasn't the siren currently blaring through the halls that alerted the occupants of Malfoy Manor that something was wrong. The siren went off the second it should have, and it warned them just as it was supposed to. Lucius had raced out the door in his pajamas, robe and cloak, waving his wand this way and that to find the person suspended above the fence where they had tried to sneak out. The rest of the house began to stir as he searched, trying to avoid the peacocks as he went. It wasn't until Lucius returned from the lawns and found Bellatrix and Narcissa alone in the sitting room that they even realized something was amiss. “What was the matter dear?” Narcissa asked from a wing back chair near the fireplace, gripping her night coat against her to guard from the cold.
“I couldn't find anything.” Lucius said, shedding his fur lined cloak and hanging on the hook near the door. He brushed a few flakes of snow off his hair and silenced the high pitched siren with a wave of his wand. “The alarm went off because someone crossed the fence, but the gate was in tact and no one was on the grounds. The barrier should have kept anyone that wasn't allowed to leave from going any other way...” Lucius paused for a moment and looked around the room as if he expected to see someone else. “Have either of you seen Draco?”
Narcissa paused a moment as he stomped his feet and stepped out of his shoes, “Well that is odd.” She mumbled before she gave him an odd look, “I'd thought he'd gone out with you as he wasn't in his room.” She looked past him towards the front door as if expecting him to make an appearance.
Lucius looked at her as if she were mad. He hadn't even glanced in Draco's room as he'd raced past to go check the grounds. The alarm had gone off before when someone or another from the ministry had tried to sneak into the manor and spy on them and Draco had come lumbering in a few moments after everyone else, having just woken up. He glanced around again before turning back to the women. “No I was very much alone I assure you.... Bellatrix, have you...?”
Bellatrix looked as if she might laugh if he finished his question. “Every time I see the boy he acts as if he's frightened of me. How could his dear aunty be so terrifying I wonder? If I had sons I would never hesitate to give them to the Dark Lord's services nor would they be afraid of their relatives.” She stated as she absently looked at her fingernails. Narcissa was still glancing at the hall and toward the front door as if she expected him to appear, and Lucius was giving her a look that could only be explained as, unkind. She rolled her eyes and added a short, “No I haven't seen him in days, he's been hold up in his room again I expect.”
“Draco?” Narcissa said loudly, hurrying off toward the staircase that lead to their bedrooms with a horror struck look on her face. Her nightgown vanishing around the corner of the stairway as she raced up the steps.
“Hold up in his room?” Lucius asked, watching as Bellatrix smoothed her robe over her legs.
“Yes hadn't you noticed?” Bellatrix asked halfheartedly. “Please tell me you haven't been so distracted by our Lord's comings and goings you've all together stopped paying any attention to your son.” She watched as Lucius' face turned down to a scowl and he glared at her. She couldn't help the small grin that crossed her face as the thought seemed to resonate with him.
He opened his mouth as if he was going to say something but before he could get a sound out his ears turned him to meet the frantic footsteps of his wife as she flew down the stairs toward him. Narcissa looked horrified, the robe she'd been holding closed flying out behind her as she hurried down the stairs. “He's gone Lucius!” She looked positively horrified as she flung herself at her husband who barely managed to catch her. “He's not in his room and when I tried to use the 'find it' spell it wouldn't point me anywhere! He's not in the house! He's outside the shield! He's gone!” She began to sob, her breath cracking as she tried to form another word.
Bellatrix lifted herself out of her chair a little and looked over at her sister as she began to sob into her husbands chest. She looked entertained, or at least bemused, and watched for a moment as Lucius attempted to calm Narcissa down. “You mean he's left?” She asked, her brows disappearing into her hairline.
Narcissa looked over at her sister with a glare akin to murder, “He's been taken, something's gone horribly wrong, the alarm was set off by a kidnapper!” Narcissa broke down into hysterics and while Lucius attempted to console her Bellatrix climbed out of her chair, rolling her eyes as she started toward the upstairs.
Nearly a half mile away Draco was beginning to slow down, his lungs burning from the cold air. He stopped to keep himself from falling and doubled over, his hands on his knees to allow him time to catch his breath. The rook sack he'd been carrying dropped off his shoulder and onto the grass beneath his feet. While he huffed and tried to catch his breath his mind reeled with what he'd just done. Three days before he had slipped quietly out the window, walking out the gate without a problem due to the tattoo on his left fore-arm. It allowed any Death Eater safe passage through the gates of Malfoy Manor. He had taken some money and a few essential supplies and he'd gone. It wasn't until he was gone for two days that he realized he didn't have enough money to get clothes and food, especially after getting himself a room in a hotel. His family was rich yes but he himself didn't have much money.
Without a second thought he'd apperated just outside the manor wall, waiting until night fell before he'd let himself back in through the gate. It was a simple matter of sneaking in, throwing some clothes and food and a few odds and ends into the bag and walking back out through the gate. What he had forgotten was that after his mother and father were both in bed a security charm took effect. It had only been added when Lord Voldemort himself had taken up residence in the manor, although he could still leave he set the charm off by walking through the gate. It had surprised him at first and he'd only just managed to apperate out of the drive when his father had come rushing through the front door, and landed a few yards back, running as if his father might somehow have caught him up.
He took a few more steadying breaths and grabbed the rook sack again, pulling the string to open it. It was a moment before he managed to take another breath and finally reach into it. He dug around in the bag, grabbing a small bottle of pumpkin juice and taking a drink from it as he crouched beside the bag. He glanced back over his shoulder and knew his mother was most likely in hysterics, his father most likely trying to console her and failing miserably. After a moment he took another small sip of the juice and put the cap back on. He stood up again, swung the pack over his shoulder and disapperated with a pop.
When he reappeared he was in the midst of a large forest, surrounded by nothing but trees. In the dead of night it was almost impossible to tell where he was. He took a moment to glance around, dropping his bottle of pumpkin juice back into his rook sack and trying in vain to peer through the fog and gloom at the wood around him. He was standing near the shore of a lake, he could tell by the sound of the water and the rocks under his feet, but which lake he didn't know. It was only a matter of moments before the chill from the water at night began to creep over him. He shifted a bit under his cloak and starting to walk to warm himself and decided he wasn't about to stay here. He would find a place to sleep where he was guarded from the wind and the next morning he'd continue till he found it. He had only taken a few steps before he saw a glow, shaped much like a tent, near the bottom of the hill. He paused momentarily to see if he could see anyone and the sound of something moving through the leaves ahead of him caught his attention.
He pulled his wand from his pocket quickly, holding it up and out from him and gave a short mumble of “Lumos.” The tip of his wand exploded with a blue-green light and bathed the person that was a few yards ahead of him in it's unearthly glow. “Granger?” Standing there, her wand held defensively in front of her, was Hermione Granger. She looked stunned and terrified, and it was almost as if she had been crying. He stared at her for a long moment, neither of them moving as if it might make the other react. “What are...”
There was a flash of motion from Hermione and he was hit squarely in the chest by a ball of orange light. He tried to stay standing but dropped like a rag doll into a crumpled mess on the forest floor. He was dazed, not even aware of half of what was going on, voices, movement. His head was a swirl of darkness and faces and forest and night sky, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn't snap himself out of it.
“...without Ron...... he's...”
“....need....... even if........ him.......”
There was a rush of movement and he felt hands on him, holding him up as if he needed to sit. He didn't want to sit he wanted to sleep... he needed to lay down and take a nap, or rest, something. His head was splitting down the middle. He just wanted to sleep.
He might have sat there for a minute or an hour he wasn't sure, there was no sense of time as he was. It suddenly lifted of him, the warmth, the darkness, the odd sort of pressure he'd felt. It all vanished as if he were suddenly given a cup of strong coffee on a cold day. His head rolled around a little as he tried to snap himself back into reality.
His head snapped up and he blinked a few times, tightly closing his eyes and opening them again. Hermione was standing a few feet from him in a tent of some sort. This must have been what he'd seen before, or had he seen anything? Was this all some sort of game brought on by running too far and passing out? He was still so tired, from the running, that odd feeling, his muscles felt as if he was weighed down by something. He started to try and get up, to stretch himself but the heaviness in muscles wasn't just tiredness. He was bound, a little excessively in his opinion, to a chair. He stared at the face in front of him, almost as if somehow he would know what was going on just by starring, in all honesty however he was trying to speak but all he could do was make his breathing loud.
“Draco you've been charmed so you can't speak. I'll lift it but only if you won't yell for help. Do you swear it?”
Draco stared at her as if she had gone mad but nodded slowly, and watched as she waved her wand over him and his lungs seemed to suddenly come unplugged. He coughed a few times, clearing whatever it had been from him throat, “Nice way to treat visitors isn't it Granger?”
Hermione looked at him for a moment and as he opened his mouth again she reached out and grabbed hold of his nose, pinching it tightly shut, “Harry.”
Harry appeared as if from nowhere, a cup in his hand, and poured it's contents down Draco's throat. He gasped and sputtered a few times before he managed to swallow the mouthful of liquid. As soon as most of it was down Hermione released his nose and he shook his head a few times to make the odd feeling in his nose go away. “What the bloody hell...” He coughed a few more times, trying to make the burning from what little of it had gone down the wrong pipe go away. “What was that!?” He spat sharply, staring at the two of them as if they had gone mad. “Trying to add drowning to a kidnapping charge!?”
Hermione took the cup from Harry and set it on a table somewhere behind him. “That was a drink of water with Veritaserum in it. We can't have you lying to us about anything when we ask it. Do you understand?”
Draco raised his eyebrows, “Are you bleeding mad yo....es.” He stopped suddenly and stared around at them.
“What is your birthday, and what comprises your wand?” Hermione said shortly.
“June fifth, nineteen eighty. My wand is Hawthorn, ten inches with unicorn hair.” Draco said simply. “Why are you asking, and for that matter what do you care?” He said after a bit of concentration. It was as if saying anything besides an answer was not allowed. As if it were somehow being held inside him.
“Where do you live and who lives with you?” Hermione asked quietly.
“I... I live in Malfoy Manor, Wiltshire. I live with my Mother, Father, and Aunt. The Dark Lord was staying with us but has found somewhere else recently.” He looked around the tent for an instant, “Where....am I why the bloody hell am I bound to a chair?” He forced the question out as if it were somehow more difficult for him then it should have been.
Hermione gave him a bit of a look. “You're not here to get us?”
“No.” he said sharply, looking aghast. “I was just...”
Hermione raised a brow and glanced across at Harry. “You were just.... what?”
Draco tried very hard to clamp his mouth shut but whether he liked it or not he was going to talk, his lips seemed more then inent on that. “I was just running away.” He said levelly, “Look if you just let me rest a minute.... you can throw me out somewhere in the woods and I'll be gone...”
Hermione looked as though she was considering his answer and didn't press further right away. Harry however glared at him for a moment and asked the one question it was obvious he had been hoping to avoid. “Why were you running away?”
Draco took a breath and said simply, “I'm tired of it. I don't want to watch any more of our teachers drop dead on my dinning table, I don't want to listen to people scream when I try to sleep. I can't take living in that mad house anymore. The Dark Lord gave Pansy's uncle a job to do and he failed. He turned on them, gave names, and went into hiding. The Dark Lord doesn't forgive and he never forgets... He gave me a job once school starts, I... ” He paused for a moment, “I am supposed to go back to school after the break and kill Pansy Parkinson.” His eyes slid down to the floor. “I'm supposed to kill one of my best friends because her uncle did something wrong. I can't do it. I can't kill her just like I couldn't kill Dumbledore and I already got a second chance I'm not supposed to be getting. My father failed last year, now me, if I didn't go through with it I would have been killing them.” He paused for a long moment, “I couldn't kill a half dead old man, now I can't kill a woman... I'm useless...”
Hermione was looking at him with a look of horror on her face, although he couldn't see it. Harry looked absolutely disgusted. “So you're running? Where do you think you're going to get to apparating into the woods at night?”
Draco's face turned back up toward them so he could answer properly. His eyes were distant as if answering was something he could do without thinking, although it was more likely something he simply didn't want to think about. “Tracy Davis told me about a cottage in the Forest of Dean, her father was a muggle-born and used to take her there all the time. It's been unused for years and she told me right where it was so I thought I'd use it, no one from my family is going to find me there...”
Harry looked at him as if every word was a bit harder to believe then the previous one. “How d'you know she won't tell anyone else about this 'cabin'?”
“Because Tracy's dead.” Draco answered shortly, his eyes falling back to his feet. “Has been since the start of term, her father tried to resist arrest because he was a muggle born...”
“Harry...” Hermione said quietly, putting a hand on his arm. When he looked over at her she lead him toward the table behind Draco. “As I said before, with Ron....”
Whatever she was alluding to Harry obviously didn't like it. “I won't have it Hermione! He's a liar and he would be a murderer if not for the yellow streak running down his back!” Draco almost looked angry excepting of course that Harry was, for the most part, correct.
“Harry, he's dosed with Veritaserum. Two drops, he can't lie. It's impossible.”
“Fine, let's see then.” Harry came back to stand in front of him again and looked down at him with an odd mixture of hate and revulsion in his eyes. “How did you get onto the quidditch team?”
“My father bought the team new brooms.”
“Did you imperious Madam Rosemertta?”
Harry looked as though he might spit on him at that and he glared a bit more menacingly at him,“So you sent the cursed necklace to kill Dumbledore?”
“Yes.” Draco shifted a little, trying to get the weighted and uncomfortable feeling in his muscles to go away.
“You know you could have killed Katie!? She almost died because of your stupid plan!” His hands had begun to shake and while he spoke he lifted his wand from his pocket, clutching it so hard his knuckles were going white.
“I know...” Draco said calmly, “I never meant for her to touch it. I didn't think she would because I hadn't told her to but she opened it to look inside and touched the necklace...” He wasn't upset, he knew the risks when he had taken the job from the Dark Lord in the first place. It was simply the fact he wasn't particularly versed in the imperious curse that had caused that particular situation.
“Harry.” Hermione said, appearing at the boy's side and putting a hand on the arm Harry was currently holding his wand in. “Think about this.”
Harry looked at her, “Hermione I don't care, he's lying!”
“Harry, he can't lie!” Hermione said shortly. She snatched something from the table behind Draco and grabbed Harry's arm, putting it into his hand. “There, do you feel better now?” She gave him a long look as he stared at the small crystal bottle labeled Veritaserum that had more then the small dose they had apparently given him missing from it. For a long moment neither of them seemed to realize Draco was still there as they both watched the clear liquid slosh back and forth in it.
“I hate to break up this lovely moment but I'll gladly leave if you lot don't want me here.” Both Hermione and Harry paused for a moment and turned to look at him. “Stupify me, wipe my memory, throw me out in the woods. I'll disapperate when I wake up and never look back.” He shifted uncomfortably as the conjured ropes that held him seemed to tighten on him. “If you don't mind I'd very much like to be untied.”
Harry glared at him, “Absolutely not.”
“No Hermione.” Harry spat.
“We don't have a choice Harry!” Hermione said sternly, stepping between him and Draco. “There is no other option, unless you'd like to go find someone else?”
“What if he goes off and finds somebody else?” Harry said sharply. “What is he walks off and finds Greyback or his mum and dad?” They stared at each other for a long moment again, almost as if they had come to a decision about something. Draco watched as Hermione pointed her wand at him slowly and pushed himself back into the chair. It was as if he was suddenly realizing these two might actually mean him harm, but before any such thought could cross his mind he felt the death grip of the restraints loosen.
He stared as the ropes that had bound him melted away to nothing and looked as though he was going to thank her just after he stood up when she twisted her wrist and a thin wisp of white light shot out from the tip of her wand and circled him quickly from head to toe. The light vanished as it touched the floor for a brief instant, and everything seemed still. “What was that?” Draco asked shortly, glancing between Harry and Hermione as if they somehow had an answer hanging between them.
“That,” Hermione began to explain, “Was a binding charm. If you go more then thirty feet from the tent in any direction an alarm will go off and let us know you're running. After that, we will use our own discretion...” She glanced at Harry who was still gripping his wand as if his life depended on it. “We can't just let you leave you understand?”
“Yes.” He said shortly. “I understand but you have to understand I'm not going to hurt you or tell anyone about you....” He knew why Harry found the idea so hard to swallow, it honestly sounded strange to say. It wasn't his fault he had been like that, or so he would like to think, and he was trying to change, ever sonce the order had come down to kill Pansy in lu of her uncle he'd made up his mind. There was jsut no way they could understand what was in his head, and for taht he was a bit sorry.
“I know.” Hermione said simply, “But for the time being it's easier this way. Once you're done helping us we'll remove the hex and you'll be free to go on your way.” She took a deep breath and glanced around the tent toward the beds Draco could now see at the far side. “We're going to sleep now, you'll forgive me if I don't exactly trust you, so we're going to conjure you a cot here.” She waved her wand and a small but comfortable looking bed appeared beside the chair. “I'm warning you, it will alert me if you get off it at any point during the night.”
“And my wand....”
“Will be taken care of.” Hermione said, producing it from the table and tucking it into her back pocket. “Alright then, I think it's about time for us all,” And at this she looked particularly long at Harry, “To get some sleep, we'll be starting bright and early in the morning.”
“Start what exactly?” Draco asked, rubbing his arms to try and relax the soreness. Hermione ignored him and started toward the beds, grabbing Harry's arm as she passed him, tugging him off toward the beds as well as he glared at Draco.
Left standing there very much alone Draco proceeded to rub his arms a bit more, trying to rub the soreness out of them. He stared around the tent for a moment until all the lights simultaneously went out, leaving him standing alone in the dark. He took a few deep breaths and slowly crawled his way onto the cot, pulling a blanket over himself. It was odd, but he soon found himself drifting off to sleep as he listened to the sounds of breathing.