Draco stirred once, instantly regretting it. Every fiber was on fire; to move caused him agonizing pain. He opened his eyes and was surprised to find himself in his bed, the night sky making his room dark and cool.
He nearly jumped when he saw a handful of House Elves and his mother sitting in a chair against the wall, talking quietly to Stella.
“Mr. Malfoy, sir!” She exclaimed excitedly, peering over the edge of his bed and into his face, “You are awake!”
Narcissa perked up immediately, rushing over to sit on the edge. She stroked his forehead, panicking, “What happened?”
Draco ignored the question, looking to Stella, “Did you do what I told you?”
Stella nodded quickly, “Yes, sir. The Anti-Intruder Spell, Caterwauling Charm, Fianto Duri, Imperturbable Charm, Protego Maxima, Repello Inimigotum, and the Fidelius Charm.”
“The Caterwauling.” Draco repeated weakly, “Against who-’’
“All Death Eaters, especially Missus Lestrange, sir.” Stella squeaked.
Narcissa narrowed her eyes, “Bella? What’s going on?”
“Oh, yes, Missus. That’s who cast the Curse on Master Malfoy.”
Narcissa looked at him with rage in her eyes, “S-she did this-’’
“-Missus Bellatrix has a very specific way to use the Curse, Madam. Stella and Keely knew it was her handiwork as soon as Master Malfoy entered the house!”
Narcissa started at him, speechless.
“A-and the Fidelius Charm.” Draco coughed, trying to raise his head, but found that the motion contracted his abs too painfully. “My father never gave me the Secret.”
“You never had one on the house, sir!” Stella squeaked. “We put one on and named you as the Secret Keeper!”
“And what about mother?” He asked, “Is she one, too?”
Stella gave a hesitant look towards Narcissa. “No, Master Malfoy. We heard what Missus Bell said about Missus spilling secrets. We made you the only Keeper.”
Narcissa lips pursed in anger, unable to retort. Draco was glad for the elf’s quick thinking, knowing that there was a large chance that sooner or later, she would’ve told Bellatrix.
“Then, are you a Keeper?” Draco asked, whimpering as he struggled to sit himself up. Despite her anger, Narcissa rushed to help him fluff his pillows for support.
“Oh, no sir. Stella or Keely could never be Keepers.” She answered quickly.
“Then how were you able to cast the spell and not become one?”
“We elves seem to know more about spells than the wizards who created them.” Stella gave him a kind smile.
“Right.” Draco frowned in confusion, looking at his mother. “But she already knows where the Manor is, obviously. Wouldn’t that make her a Keeper?”
“No, sir.” Stella answered patiently, “As soon as Missus walks out of the house, she will not be able to get back in without knowing the Secret.”
“And what is the Secret?” Draco asked her.
“The location of the Manor.” Stella answered. “Now, you are the only one who will be able to locate it.”
“The only one?” Draco questioned, “Not even the Dark Lord could find it?”
“The Fidelus Charm is magic older than he.” Stella told him, “More powerful magic than he possesses. No, even he would not find it.”
“Well,” Draco trailed, “since you performed the spell, would you be able to locate the Manor too?”
“Perhaps.” She shrugged simply, “But Stella will serve Master Malfoy until she dies, sir. I do not need to know the Secret.”
Draco was taken aback by the sudden gesture of undying loyalty, wondering where it had originated. He had never treated her or Keely with the respect he knew they deserved, knowing that they were the two main elves that kept the Manor intact. He was torn between thinking that she was utterly thick or utterly forgiving. But then again, they had bought her; her life was bound to him; however, the outward gesture of acknowledgment and willingness was rare, even among the House Elves.
“Will someone please tell me what happened?” Narcissa exasperated.
Draco turned to her, “I couldn’t do it. I got lost in the smoke; Bellatrix went ahead of me, finding Delinda before I did. Before she killed her, Delinda told her I had turned her in.”
Narcissa sat there, paralyzed, “You did what?”
“I had to,” Draco fought his case quickly, “so I could join the Order.”
Narcissa looked as though he had slapped her.
“What have you done?” She breathed.
There was nothing she could say to undo the events that had come to pass in the last couple of days.
“They let me in.” Draco continued, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life. This isn’t the way.”
“This is the only way!” Narcissa bellowed, rising quickly of the bed.
“For what?” Draco growled.
“They’ll keep us safe.” Draco promised.
“Oh, I’m sure!” Narcissa boomed, “Let’s run to the hands of these Mudblood and half-breed lovers. I’m sure they’re just waiting to turn us in!”
“If this is about blood status, you’ve have bigger issues to prioritize.” Draco muttered darkly, grabbing at his side as he gingerly lay back down.
Narcissa’s nostrils flared.
“I’m leaving as soon as I’m able.” He told her. “You can go with me, or you can stay in the Manor, which you will never be able to leave unless you’re with me and I won’t be coming back for a while, it will be too easy for Bellatrix.”
Narcissa crossed her arms, huffing as she shuffled her feet on the green carpet, her flared slacks billowing with her movement.
“Mother.” He tried again weakly, quickly losing the remainder of strength it had taken hours of sleep to gain, “This is our chance that you’ve been waiting for. I know you better than you think; you just never wanted to be the one to ask for it.”
Narcissa stared at him, her blue eyes bright with anger.
“We’re not safe here.” Draco told her, “I’m sure she has already run back and told everyone. The charms may hold up now, but I have no doubt she’ll find a way through them. She’ll kill you to punish me and then she’ll go after Ashley.”
“’An eye for an eye’.” He quoted, his chest aching, “Everyone’s looking out for her now; she told me she would get Ashley as payment.”
Narcissa’s face fell, a sudden exhaustion washing over her. She was about to leave over thirty years of her life to a new way of living and she was supposed to blindly follow her son? Although she didn’t want to admit it, she was rather lost without a leading male figure. Draco had filled the place of head of house, but he didn’t have the same stature and commanding presence that Lucius did. Draco didn’t have the life experience required to lead a household. She was nervous, but didn’t have anyone else to follow.
“Who’s Delinda?” She asked, trying to get her mind off of the petrifying thought that she wouldn’t be coming back for an unsaid amount of time.
“The Head of the Board of Investigators.” Draco winced, his body pulsing with pain. “In exchange to getting into the Order, I had to surrender the memory. The bitch slipped the secret in the alleyway. Bellatrix found me as I was trying to get away...”
Narcissa’s face crumpled, her shoulders slumped as tears ran down her pale face.
“It wasn’t that bad.” Draco lied, shifting painfully on the feather duvet.
“Oh, please.” She dismissed, “I’ve known people who have been under that, they said they wished they had died. Bellatrix has perfected it; I remember her practicing on animals when we were younger. She always threatened me with it if I misbehaved.”
Narcissa scooted the chair closer to his bedside, grabbing for his hand gently and thumbing the soft skin, “Does it hurt?”
Draco nodded. She kissed his hand, turning to Stella, “Get him a pain potion, or something.”
“Firewhiskey.” Draco called after her.
Narcissa turned back to him in surprise.
“It’ll help, trust me.” Draco told her. He didn’t know if he wanted it because he knew it would help with the pain, or because in the back of his throat, he was itching for another shot.
Narcissa turned back to him, resting a cool hand on his burning forehead. “Where did I go wrong? To see such a young boy go through more than most men in their lifetimes, is beyond me.”
Draco gave her a weak shrug, “Probably when father pawned me off.”
Narcissa shifted in her seat.
“Why did you let him?” He asked her.
“You were going to be inducted either way.” She answered, “He did it sooner as punishment to Lucius.”
Draco started at her.
“Your father wasn’t the most affectionate.” She confessed, “But he did care for you, in his own way. Even he didn’t want you doing it this young.”
Draco wasn’t going to argue with her about his father’s affections, which he had known were never really there, despite what she said. When it came to Lucius, she had always been on his side, even if he was wrong. It was a lesson he had to learn quickly: to not rely on anyone, for even his shadow left him in the darkest of places.
“I’m proud of you.” Narcissa said quietly, “I know why you really did it.”
Draco didn’t want to talk about this with her. He was hurting too badly and the Crutacius Curse seemed to have revived his darkest demons.
“I’m glad that you’ve found a love like that.” Narcissa continued somberly, “Only the truly lucky ever get to experience it.”
A water film developed over his eyes and he dared not move in fear that they spill over
“I love her with you, Draco.” She choked, looking down at his hand, unable to look him in the eye. She wasn’t one for sentiments either, but realized when things had to be said. “Her bloodline bothers me, just as I know that the others at the Order will. It’s how I was raised, you know that and it was how you were raised too. I’m glad you can see past that, but… it’s going to take me a little time.”
“It’s only easier for me because she isn’t Muggle.” Draco confessed, “She’s Veela, she’s part of our world, she’s not from out there, where Granger and her kind are from.”
Narcissa took a breath to say something else, but Stella interrupted them.
She walked in carrying a tray full of various bottles, but the one he eyed stood above the rest, gold and red paper wrapping around the tall bottle.
Stella rested the tray on his bedside table, handing him a shot of the liquid. Draco waved her off, grabbing for the bottle.
“Draco!” Narcissa yelped as he put the bottle to his lips quickly. When he had a mouthful, he swallowed the painful drink, the combination of his burning throat and aching muscles almost making him pass out.
He took a deep breath, the fresh oxygen sending a new wave of pain. Before he could think about it, he took another and then a third.
“Stop!” Narcissa grabbed at the bottle, shoving it back into Stella’s arms, who looked rather alarmed herself.
Draco fell back onto his pillow, the Firewhiskey unlocking his muscles. His body went lax and some of the pain had subsided. His head was starting to swim and he felt sleepy.
“What is wrong with you?” Narcissa seethed, ushering the elf out of his room.
It was history repeating itself.
How long before he had become just as addicted as Lucius?
“How long have you been drinking that?” She asked, handing him a glass of water to dilute the alcohol.
“I had a few drinks before I left. It helps with the nerves.” Draco told her, his head lolling in sleepiness, “And the pain.”
Narcissa stared at him, knowing she couldn’t say anything if it helped with the aftermath of a Curse she wished she would have endured for him.
“I won’t-I won’t get addicted.” He promised her, but he couldn’t deny the beneficial side-effects it had on him. He could understand how someone like his father was so imprisoned by the drink.
“Well, sleep.” Narcissa finished, rising from chair, “I’ll go pack.”
“That’s not exactly what I meant by ‘light’.” Draco frowned at the large, black dragon hide trunk that Stella and Keely were struggling to drag into the parlor.
Narcissa raised an eyebrow, pulling on her mink lined traveling gloves that matched her traveling cloak and hat that had been pinned to her head.
“A Malfoy must always travel in style.” Narcissa reminded him.
“Yes, but it’s not like we’ll never return.” He told her, looking at his small knapsack by the fireplace.
“No, matter.” She waved off, “Let’s go.”
Draco turned to the pair of elves as they let go of the handles, huffing as they looked up at him.
There was an odd sensation of loss as he looked down at them. Without their presence and reliability, Draco wasn’t quite sure how to fill their absence. He didn’t want to admit, because it wasn’t the proper relationship between Master and Slave, but he would miss them.
“Hold down the Manor for me.” Draco told them. They bowed deeply in response. “Remember: no one in, unless a direct, verbal approval from me.”
Draco took one last look around the room, trying to think of any loopholes for someone to worm through. But he couldn’t think of any, he had gone over it again and again until he had exhausted himself.
Without another look, he roared into the fireplace, “The Burrow!”
It was dark and rather cold as they landed on the gravel pathway. Despite the dark sky, Narcissa seemed to have already noticed the rather low-maintenance living conditions.
“They live here?” Narcissa whispered harshly.
“It’s not so bad.” Draco tried to tell her, his side aching, not wanting to have to listen to her trivial whining, when he was sure this wasn’t the safe house they were going to be transported to.
“I can’t imagine this filthy place in the light.” Narcissa whispered aloud, making a surprised yelp as her heel splashed in a mud puddle. “This better not be where we’re staying.”
Draco grabbed for her trunk.
“Don’t you dare!” Narcissa hissed, “There’s no way you’re dragging this suitcase in this filth. This is Hungarian Horntail hide! Locomotor Trunk!”
Narcissa waved her wand as she led it to the front door, which Draco struggled to with great difficulty, grabbing the side frame for support.
“Try to act decent.” He scolded, knocking on the door.
He heard loud shuffling within the house and Mr. Weasley’s muffled shouts to his wife as he opened the door quickly.
“Oh, good, you’re here!” Mr. Weasly smiled, opening the door, “Please, come in, come in!”
Narcissa guided the trunk in after Draco, setting it down closely beside the door.
“Molly!” Mr. Weasley called from the entrance area, “They’re here.”
Molly shuffled in quickly, her look of anxiousness turning into a glare as soon as she saw Narcissa, who was having a difficult time pretending she wasn’t repulsed by the quaint and hand-me-down living conditions.
“Erm, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, this is my mother, Narcissa.” Draco introduced awkwardly.
“We’ve met before.” Mrs. Weasley said, distain coating her voice.
“Yes, well,” Narcissa took off her traveling gloves, trying to produce a smile, but came out as a painful grimace, “hopefully we won’t be in your hair for long.”
Narcissa said it more as a plea than she did a gesture of good behavior, as she continued to look at her surroundings questionably.
“I need to sit down.” Draco winced, grabbing at his side as his knees started to buckle.
“Oh, dear!” Mrs. Weasly scrambled for a seat, grabbing a stool near the laundry basket and placing it underneath him as his knees buckled, “You’re in a quite a state.”
“Crutacius Curse.” Draco’s face twisted in pain.
The couple looked at him with fear.
“Bellatrix.” He wheezed, struggling to breathe, “She found out we went to the Ministry. Delinda told her before she killed her.”
Mrs. Weasley looked to her husband worriedly, who told him, “Not a smart move on her part. People will do anything to save themselves.”
“Well, it was rather thick of her to think so, Bellatrix spares no one.” Draco wiped the cold sweat off his forehead.
“We’re ready whenever you are, Draco.” Arthur said, “They want to get you settled in as quickly as possible.”
“Draco.” Narcissa said softly, scooping him underneath the arm as he struggled up.
“Molly, if you would.” He gestured to Narcissa’s trunk. Molly hesitated as Narcissa looked from her expensive luggage to Molly, as if she wasn’t capable of levitating the trunk correctly.
“Mother.” Draco hissed in warning, “We owe them.”
Narcissa looked back to Molly, who gave her a small nod in permission. Molly rolled her eyes, waving her wand and guiding the luggage into the sitting room.
“Up you go.” Arthur hoisted him underneath his other arm.
“It getting worse.” Draco grunted. “She must have gotten me good.”
“It’ll wear off in a couple of days.” Arthur assured him.
They had to sit him down on a floral-printed couch once in the sitting room. Draco was exhausted and didn’t think he would be able to make the trip wherever they were going.
“Who’s going to be there if Dumbledore isn’t?” Draco asked.
“Molly and I frequently check up on things.” Arthur started, “But Remus Lupin and Tonks are the ones who hold the place down.”
Draco nodded, not particularly comforted in staying in the same place as a werewolf. At least he would be more pleasant the Fenrir.
“You’ll be alone most of the time, however.” Arthur told him, “There’s not much traffic throughout the week.”
“Will I be able to get owls there?” He asked, “I need to keep up with homework.”
“Yes.” Arthur added, “We’ll have to figure it out until you become a Secret Keeper.”
“They’ll let me do that?”
“Everyone in the Order is.” Molly told him, “Its how we are able to access it.”
They sat in silence for a moment. Draco tried to muster what he could for the journey, finally saying, “Alright, let’s go.”
They helped him up once more, and ushered all at once through the fire.
Draco stumbled into a dark room. His lip curled in disgust as he looked around the dank and rotting wood on the walls and floors.
“It’s not so bad in other parts.” Arthur reassured him, “We’ve been cleaning it up a bit during free time. We haven’t gotten to this area yet.”
Draco looked at the green, holey curtains that were shut tight around the windows, the desk underneath the window had a cracked leg and there was a portrait in the room that was too hard to make out.
“Where are we?” Draco asked.
Arthur was about to answer, but Narcissa interrupted him with a small gasp, “This is Grimmauld Place, my mother’s house.”