Chapter 10 : Draco
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He held her captive for the rest of the day – controlling her mind and ensuring she would do as he asked. He had to keep her out of the corridors. He had to make sure his Aunt and the other vile Death Eaters he would be letting into the school wouldn't lay their eyes on her.
It wasn't easy to control her. If he hadn't been drilled all of last summer by Aunt Bellatrix to make sure he mastered the Imperius curse – and if he hadn't practiced even harder by controlling the minds of Madame Rosemerta and Katie Bell earlier in the year, Draco was sure she'd have been able to throw him off her.
Only two things allowed him to keep his hold over her mind. The first was that he made sure she was doing things she'd ordinarily have done anyway – exerting his will over her subtly rather than attempting to have her do things she might never usually do. Keeping with her intentions, he made sure she stopped at the library and borrowed some books on the Transfiguration homework they'd been given before having her attend lunch with her friends.
Her own explanation and distraction earlier in the day allowed for her slightly vacant expression and for how she wasn't paying any attention in her lessons. Throughout dinner he made sure she ate, not wanting her to go hungry as a result of his interference in her life. His own stomach twisted with nervousness and fear over what he knew was coming, but having Granger to focus on helped somehow.
He had a job to do. Let the Death Eaters in and keep Granger the hell out of the corridors. He relinquished enough control over her to convince her to do her homework in the common room, amused by the subtle attempts she made as she tried to overcome the subtle prods he gave her about being sure they all stayed in the common room.
When Potter and Weasley returned from Quidditch practice after dinner, Draco pushed Granger to assist them with their homework too, as a means of keeping the three of them in the common room. He knew Potter and Weasley would be only too willing to take advantage of her apparent generosity if it meant they'd get help with their homework. He even pushed her to instigate a game of chess with Weasley and he took great delight in prodding her to outwit the ginger bastard at his favourite game.
He squashed every notion she had about warning Potter and Weasley of what he'd told her. Every urge she had to run to Dumbledore and warn him of what was coming. The only spanner in the works was when Potter announced he had a meeting with Dumbledore and disappeared to attend it. Draco had scowled his way through that. He couldn't alter their plans. The Death Eaters would be invading tonight, no matter how he tried to put them off.
He had known already that Potter was meeting with Dumbledore and had been most of the year. Draco didn't know what it was about but unless they were carrying on some torrid affair that Draco didn't want to contemplate, he assumed it had to do with bringing down the Dark Lord.
When the time came, Draco prepared to make his way up through the halls to the Room of Requirement unaccompanied. He'd not needed to warn his friends of where he was going and why it would be in their best interests, lest they be expelled, to remain in the Common Room of the Great Hall rather than anywhere in there corridors anywhere near where they might be accused of being involved in the plot to bring down Dumbledore. Crabbe and Goyle had both shaken his hand before letting him leave the corridor. Zabini had rolled her eyes and handed Draco a flask full of whiskey without saying a word.
Theo had surprised him the most. Following him out of the corridor, the other boy walked in silence along with him.
"So," Theo said, having long since forgiven him for the pummelling with snowballs that Draco and Granger had given him at Christmas.
"So?" Draco asked, raising one eyebrow.
"Are you ever going to tell me about you and Granger," Theo asked in a low voice, pulling Draco into an empty alcove along one of the first floor corridors. Draco's heart clenched inside his chest and he nearly lost control of the curse he was using to control the witch they spoke of.
"I don't know what you mean," Draco replied evenly.
"Don't play dumb with me, mate. You've had a thing for that swotty little witch since third year," Theo told him, "And we both know what happened at Christmas."
"Nothing happened at Christmas," Draco denied.
"Yeah, and I didn't climb into a snow fort with Harry bloody Potter and pelt you with snowballs or charm mistletoe to trap you in your fort with her," Theo rolled his eyes, "I know you snogged her. And you were missing at New Year's."
Draco kept his face carefully blank.
"You always do that," Theo sighed, eyeing him, "Clam up. Hide everything from me as though I haven't learned every quirk and expression you've got since birth. I know how you feel about her. I know you went well over the recommended limit on the Secret Santa exchange after you drew her name – yeah, I know you drew her. And I've seen the bloody promise ring."
Draco wondered if it was possible to keep his face blank whilst suffering a heart attack. He was sure as hell going to try.
"What did you promise, Draco?" Theo asked him, "And don't bullshit me. Tell me so I can bloody help you keep your promise."
Draco opened his mouth before closing it again slowly and glancing out into the corridor.
"It's not important what I promised I'd do," he replied, "I need to go. She won't ever forgive me for what I'm about to do, so the point is nulled."
"I'll keep her safe," Theo swore softly, holding his gaze, "I don't know how you think you'll ever have a shot with her, what with the way your folks are about blood and the way the war's about to tip, but I'll do what I can to protect her."
"She's under the Imperius curse right now," Draco admitted quietly, "I didn't want to risk her getting into the corridors tonight and being caught in the crossfire."
Theo nodded his head.
"Promise me something?" Theo asked quietly.
Draco raised his eyebrows in question.
"I… well, I… Don't do it, alright?" Theo begged quietly, "Don't murder Dumbledore yourself. Let Snape do it."
Draco simply stared at him, longing to make that promise.
"I have to do it," Draco said stonily.
"Fine, promise me something else then," Theo said, his voice dropping to a whisper before poking his head out to check the corridors, "If you ever… I don't know what good it will even do, but if there ever comes a day when you've got to choose between giving up Granger or Potter to the Dark Lord…. Just…. Don't do it. Please?"
Draco stared at him for a long moment, realising everything Theo was asking of him and suddenly jolting with knowledge he ought to have known about his best friend by now.
"You fancy him," Draco said quietly, eyeing Theo in surprise to learn he fancied blokes.
"I… don't look at me like that," Theo warned, "I didn't tell you because I didn't bloody know, did I? Never fancied any other bloke, even with you parading around looking like that."
He waved his hand at Draco's face and them his body.
"Six days out of seven I'm a fuckin' skirt-chaser and proud of it," Theo went on, "But the seventh I want…"
"Potter," Draco finished for him when Theo trailed off, "Why? How do you even know? You realise he's straight, don't you?"
"I bloody know that," Theo hissed, "But when I got stuck in that bloody snowball fight with him and we all spent the bloody day at Christmas just being teenagers instead of victims of this fucking war, I bloody realised, didn't I? I like his eyes and he's sassy as hell and… shit, I don't know. I want to stick my hands in his messy hair and just…"
Theo shook his head, his cheeks turning red at his own words.
"Oh, I know that one," Draco muttered, "Granger's fucking curls drive me round the twist with that particular yearning."
Theo glanced back at him, looking shocked that he'd admitted it.
"Fuck, we're messed up," Theo sighed, "Sons of Death Eaters who'd murder us if they knew the types of people we want to drag home with us. Look, I'll make you a deal, mate. I'll watch out for her however I can and you do the same for him and we'll call it even. And if, at the end of all this, it doesn't bloody work out, we don't survive or they fucking reject us, well… first drink will be on me, yeah?"
Draco snorted at his friend's suggestion. He didn't say it, but right then he was beyond grateful to Theo for his friendship, his admission and his bloody honesty that he didn't share with anyone but Draco. He was meant to be on the way up to make the worst mistake of his life, letting his deranged Aunt and the other Death Eaters into the school to terrorise the place and to have them witness him committing a murder he was bloody positive he couldn't commit. And Theo was distracting him in the best possible way.
"Deal," Draco held out his hand, waiting for Theo to shake it.
When the sod did so, Draco yanked on his hand, pulling the other git into a one-armed hug. More than words could ever express passed between them and Draco let the support and friendship between him and the boy who was the closest thing to a brother that Draco was every going to get buoy him along on silent footsteps until he reached the seventh floor. He was there and waiting outside the Vanishing Cabinet when Bellatrix and the others all came through, his stomach roiling and his heart in his shoes when he spied Greyback among them.
He didn't realise until much too late that Theo had distracted him just enough that his Imperius upon his favourite little muggleborn witch had slipped and set her free, putting her right back in harm's way.
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