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Chapter Three: Narcissa Malfoy

***

"...And about Harry Potter."

Harry let go of the sword he was holding; it clattered to the ground with a loud bang, causing Lucius and McNair to glance over at him.

Lucius frowned. "Yes, Draco? Did you have something to add?"

With an effort, Harry forced himself to speak. "What about Harry Potter?"

Lucius looked at him hard. "Draco," he said to McNair, "talks about young Harry all the time, donít you, boy?"

This bit of information did not gratify Harry in any way.

"I Ė I have to play him at Quidditch," he said stiffly.

"Where, if I recall," said Lucius coldly, "he has beaten you every time."

Harry couldnít restrain a broad grin, "Yes he has!" he said.

Both Lucius and McNair stared at him; finally, to Harryís relief, Dracoís father turned back to his friend. "You said you had news for me, McNair," he said. "Please tell me itís not yet another harebrained scheme to kill off the Potter boy."

McNair toed the ground. "Itís a really good scheme this time, Lucius," he said. "Itís really evil and cunning."

"Indeed," snarled Lucius. "And you said the same thing about the scheme to kill off Harry by sending him a poisoned birthday present at his relativesí house where, I might remind you, he is protected by Dumbledoreís Familius Charm. All that happened was that his cousin Dudley wound up eating the chocolates and vomited out the window on the Death Eaters whoíd come to collect Harryís body. Do you recall that, McNair? And then there was the time Nott tried to sneak into Hogwarts and abduct the boy, and was decapitated by the Whomping Willow. And when Zabini tried to send the boy an exploding broom, Dumbledore intercepted it and sent it right back in a different package. They had to bury Zabini in a matchbox!" yelled Lucius, waving his sword for emphasis. "More Death Eaters have been killed by stupid plots to murder Harry Potter than by Hit Wizards from the Ministry of Magic!"

Harry was astounded. Heíd had no idea. Well, come to think of it, heíd thought heíd heard yells of horror from the front garden that time Dudley had been sick out the window, but heíd assumed it was nosy Mrs. Figg from next door.

"Come on Lucius," whined McNair, "just hear me out."

Lucius crossed his arms over his chest. "You have five minutes."

"Itís true the boy is protected while in the care of his family," said McNair hurriedly, "and itís true heís protected at Hogwarts. Weíve tried before to lure him out of the castle Ė remember that time we sent him Knicks tickets? óbut Dumbledoreís never let him go."

"And that," said Lucius, "is not going to change."

"No," said McNair, "We know that. And weíve thought before of abducting someone close to the boy, so that heíd have to leave the castle to rescue them, but almost everyone dear to the boy is at Hogwarts. He loathes his Muggle family, and the Weasleys are protected by powerful charms."

Lucius was looking bored.

"But," added McNair, hastily, "that has changed. Weíve got someone nowósomeone the boy will do anything to protect."

Luciusís cold gray eyes flicked upward. "So youíve got someone close to Harry Potter in your greasy little clutches?" he asked. "Who?"

Harryís stomach clenched in dread. McNair was smiling, the same unpleasant smile that heíd worn when heíd come to Hogwarts to execute Hagridís pet hippogriff.

"Sirius Black," he said.

***

Draco found his way numbly back from the hospital wing to Gryffindor Tower. "Boomslang," he said dully to the Fat Lady, and stepped through the portrait hole. Out of habit, he walked over to the fire and sat down by Hermione, looking very pretty in pink robes, and Ron, who was reading a grim-looking tome, entitled The Art of Muggle Warfare.

"Dracoís dad came and took him back to Malfoy Mansion," said Draco numbly.

"Took him where?" Ron asked, lowering his book.

"Malfoy Mansion. Itís where they live."

"Brilliant," said Ron, starting to read again. "With any luck theyíll never bring him back."

Draco made a choked sort of noise. Hermione looked over at him in concern. "Harry," she said gently, Ď"itís not your fault, you only hit him because he hit you first."

Draco did not reply. His mind was full of the image of his father, glaring at him. If Harry didnít play along Ė if he resumed his normal appearance Ė if Lucius Malfoy somehow found out that the boy heíd brought home was not his own son, but the famous Enemy of Lord Voldemort -- he would kill Harry. Of that, Draco had no doubt. What was it his father had told him Voldemort had said?

Whoever brings me the dead body of the boy Harry Potter will be honored above all other Death Eaters.

Ronís voice broke in on his thoughts. "This Muggle warfare stuff is really interesting," he said. "Wonder if thereís any chance of getting the government to drop a what-díyou-call-it, nuclear bomb, on Malfoy Mansion?"

Draco stood. "I have to go upstairs," he said, and fled, heading for the stairs to the boysí dormitory. He heard running feet behind him and turned to see Hermione, her eyes filled with alarm.

"Harry," she said, "Harry, please wait."

Draco paused and let Hermione catch up to him.

"Harry," she said tentatively, "you seem so upset, whatís bothering you? It canít be Malfoy."

Draco just looked at her. All his emotions seemed to knotted up inside his stomach: the stress of playing Harry Potter for two straight days, rage, shock, pain and now terror, the terror of what horrible thing might be happening to Harry any moment, this moment, which would surely and completely be Dracoís fault when it did. He wasnít sure if he wanted to yell at Hermione or kiss her again. Both options had their appeal.

"Iím really tired, Hermione," he said. "I just want to go to bed."

"Is it what happened earlier today?" she asked. "After Ė after the Bludger? Because I didnít mean to be angry with you for kissing me, Harry, in factó"

She took a step closer to Draco, her eyes full of affection.

Affection for Harry.

Draco exploded. "Not everything is about you, Hermione!" he yelled at the top of his voice. "Not bloody everything is about you!"

And he darted back down the stairs, knocking her aside, and dashed out the portrait hole.

***

At the mention of Siriusí name, Harry felt his knees go weak. Show nothing, he told himself. Show nothing.

"Weíve long known he is the boyís godfather," said McNair. "The trouble has been finding him. Weíve tracked him down, actually Wormtail tracked him down, and it was most ingenious of him. He remembered a cave he had gone to with Sirius as a child, when he visited the Blacks. He returned to the site and put a Binding Curse on Black Ė"

"Get to the point, McNair," said Lucius. "Where do I come into this?"

McNair looked disappointed. "Well," he said haltingly, "itís simple, really. Wormtail is bringing Black up from Cornwall tomorrow, and we need a place to keep him, just for a night or two, while we wait for the boy to come. We canít leave the Binding Curse on him or heíll die, and you have the best dungeons of anyone Ė"

"Oh, thanks," said Lucius, with heavy sarcasm. "Well, itís a stupid plan and an obvious one, but still miles better than any of your other schemes. Iíll keep Black here. Iíve havenít seen him," he smiled coldly, "since we were at school together. Itíll be like a reunion."

He and McNair laughed. Harry didnít. He felt as if he were going to be sick.

The door opened and a tall, slim blonde woman came in. She was wearing not robes, but a long, black dress with a slit up the side. Harry recognized her immediately: she was Dracoís mother.

"Narcissa," said Lucius Malfoy. "Is anything wrong?"

The woman smiled. She was very beautiful when she smiled. Harry recalled having seen her at the Quidditch World Cup and thinking that that must be where Draco got his pale, refined good looks. "I wanted to borrow Draco," she said calmly. "I havenít even seen him since you brought him home, Lucius."

Lucius Malfoy waved a hand. "Certainly, take him," he said.

Harry looked at Dracoís father. He was desperate to stay and hear more about Sirius. "But, Ió"

"Draco." Lucius Malfoyís voice was like ice. "Go with your mother."

Reluctantly, Harry followed Narcissa Malfoy out of the room, where he rather expected that she would try to hug him or kiss him or greet him in some way. But she didnít. She merely turned and began walking down the corridor. Harry trotted after her, keeping his eyes open. He rather thought it would be a good idea to learn as much about the layout of Malfoy Mansion as possible.

Narcissa did pause in a corridor full of portraits of what at first looked like a number of dolls in differently colored outfits. With a start, Harry realized that these were pictures of Draco as a baby and as a little boy. He stopped, grinning.

"Oh," said Narcissa smiling, "Your baby pictures. They are cute, arenít they?"

Harry looked from one portrait in which Draco, aged about three, was wearing a pair of pink shorts and a bonnet, to another, in which he was about five and had been dressed in full Malfoy regalia, including a black cloak and long blond curls that looked extremely girly. The Draco in the picture had a mutinous expression and kept tugging at the collar of his ruffled robes.

"Yeah," said Harry, "theyíre cute all right."

Narcissa then led the way down a number of twisting corridors into a huge dining room, where she gestured at Harry to sit down while she went to get him some food.

Harry seated himself at the enormous dining room table, feeling very small. The table seemed to stretch on for miles, bare except for a huge silver candelabra holding seven green candles carved in the shape of lizards. More ugly Malfoy family portraits hung on the wall. One featured a grim-looking wizard in a ruff who glared at Harry, then drew a menacing finger across his throat. On the wall hung an enormous silk tapestry bearing the Malfoy family crest, which showed a huge green snake twisting itself into the letter M, while in the foreground the figure of a hooded man snuck up behind another man and stabbed him in the back. The Latin phrase DE GUSTIBUS NON DISPUTANDEM wound around the feet of the attacking man. Harry had no idea what that meant. Hermione would know, but thinking about Hermione was way too painful.

Narcissa came back into the room, bearing a silver tray on which rested a teapot and cup, a jug of milk, and a plate of biscuits. "Here you go," she said, setting them down on the table. She then seated herself opposite Harry and watched him as he ate. "Madam Pomfrey says youíre to eat lightly for the next day or so," she said, watching him stuff biscuits into his mouth.

"So, Mum," said Harry, wanting to fill the awkward silence, "whatíve you been up to?"

"Iíve been embroidering a blanket for you to take to school," she said eagerly, "itís got the family creed on it in gold, youíre father suggested it. He thought it was time you learned it by heart. Would you like to see it?"

Harry did not want to see it at all. "Sure," he said.

She rushed out of the room and almost immediately rushed right back in again, bearing what looked like a length of green velvet. She handed it to him, and he saw that there were words picked out across the front in gold lettering:

PUNISHMENT LEADS TO FEAR. FEAR LEADS TO OBEDIENCE. OBEDIENCE LEADS TO FREEDOM. THEREFORE PUNISHMENT IS FREEDOM.

At that moment it became clear to Harry just why Draco had the awful personality he did.

"Wow," said Harry in a lifeless voice. "Itís lovely, Mum. I bet all the other kids will wish they had a blanket with a really horrible motto on it just like this one."

For a moment, Harry thought he might have gone too far; but Narcissa just smiled blankly, and Harry turned his gaze away. It was a pity he did, for it he had looked at Dracoís motherís face, he would have seen her eyes were full of tears.

The double doors at the end of the hall banged open and Lucius Malfoy and McNair strode in. "Narcissa," snapped Lucius, "get McNair here a cup of tea, would you?"

Narcissa hurried to do her husbandís bidding, while McNair sat down opposite Harry and grinned at him. "So, Draco," he said in a fatherly tone. "I remember when I was a Slytherin at Hogwarts, we did have some fun. I bet youíre always stirring up trouble, arenít you?"

"Well," said Harry, "you know, weíre kept pretty busy having Young Death Eater meetings, and then we spend a lot of time making loads of other students feel bad about their lack of money and social standing. Sometimes we stay up all night and try to raise demons to do our loathsome bidding, but most evenings we just order pizza and pull the wings off a few flies."

Harry was quite aware that he was raving, but McNair did not seem to mind. "This is quite a fine boy you have here, Lucius!" he said, turning to Dracoís father. "You must be proud of him."

"He was a very unpromising baby," said Lucius Malfoy without a trace of emotion. "Weak and sickly. I told my wife that in the good old days of the Malfoys, a child like that would have been left on a windswept crag to die, but she would insist on keeping him."

McNair laughed, but Harry was fairly sure that Lucius Malfoy wasnít joking.

Narcissa came back in with the tea-tray. McNair went over to her and said, "Sorry, Narcissa, Iím going to have to take this with me. Got to go. Business." He took a cup off the tray and winked at Dracoís father. "See you tomorrow, Lucius," he said, and Disapparated.

***

Draco sat in the darkened library, his face in his hands. His elbows were propped on an open copy of Most Potente Potions, which seemed ironic to him, since it was on account of Polyjuice Potion that he was in this mess in the first place.

His mind kept running down options, but none of them seemed workable. He could send an owl to his dad, explaining what had happened, in which case Lucius Malfoy would realize that the boy he had in his house was Harry Potter, and would kill him. He could work on reversing the spell, which would turn Harry back into Harry, and Lucius would see who Harry was and would still kill him. He could go down to Malfoy Mansion himself and try to spring Harry, which would be a brave and spectacular move in many ways, but if his dad caught him he would think Draco was Harry and heíd wind up being murdered by his own father.

It did not occur to Draco to go to Dumbledore with his problem. He was still a Malfoy.

The library door opened, and a girl came in, carrying a wand. "Lumos," she said, and the room was suddenly bathed in light. Draco looked up, blinking.

It was Cho Chang.

"I thought Iíd find you here," she said, sounding satisfied.

"And I thought I got rid of you on the Quidditch field," said Draco.

Far from seeming affronted, Cho smiled. "That was before I realized you were playing hard-to-get," she said.

"So youíre back for more abuse, are you?" said Draco. "Women."

"I was feeling guilty," said Cho, "about the way Iíve treated you. Telling you you were too young for me to date and that your hair was too untidy, well, that wasnít really very fair of me."

"Youíve been a bad girl all right," Draco agreed. "Maybe you should go off by yourself and think about what youíve done wrong. Take as long as you like."

Cho came closer and perched on the side of the table, running her wand tip gently up and down his arm. "I know you donít mean it, Harry," she said, "Youíre just hurt, and I respect that."

Draco threw his hands up in disgust. "Look at you!" he said. "I bet you Harryís been running round you for years, carrying your books, sending you flowers, and all youíve done is ignore him. Now here he comes along and is an absolute bastard to you, and suddenly you wonít leave him alone!"

Cho stared at him. "Do you realize youíre talking about yourself in the third person?" she said.

"Er," said Draco.

"Excuse me," said a voice. Draco looked up. There was someone else in the library with them. "I hope Iím not interrupting, but Ė"

It was Hermione.

"You are," said Cho. "Go away."

"No!" said Draco. "Youíre not interrupting anything." He stood up with such haste that he knocked a pile of books to the floor. "Hermioneó"

Cho glanced from him, to Hermione, and back again. Then she screamed with rage. "Itís her!" she yelled. "Thatís why youíre ignoring me! I canít believe youíve thrown me over for this Ė this Ė bucktoothed Muggle!"

"I do not have buck teeth!" snapped Hermione, who had had perfectly normal teeth since her fourth year at Hogwarts.

"And she isnít a Muggle!" shouted Draco. "And I havenít thrown you over Ė we were never dating! Now go away!"

Cho glared. "Is because of that stuff about how youíre fabulous Harry Potter and you havenít got time for the likes of me?" she snapped.

"No," said Draco, "youíre just really annoying."

Cho grabbed her wand and stormed out of the library, slamming the door behind her.

Draco turned nervously to Hermione. "She just really, really likes me," he said, shrugging. "I canít explain it." Instead of responding, Hermione strode over to where he was standing, crossed her arms, and stared at him.

Draco had never been stared at like that before. It was like she could see right through his head to the back of his skull.

"Hermione, donít," he wailed, before he could stop himself. "Look, Iím sorry about what I said before."

"Youíre not," Hermione began.

Draco interrupted her. "Look, Iíve told you I am sorry, what more Ė"

"No," snapped Hermione, brushing this aside with an impatient wave of her hand, "I donít mean you arenít sorry. I mean you arenít Ė you arenít him."

"Arenít what?"

"Arenít Harry," said Hermione. "Youíre not Harry Potter."

Draco stared at her. He suddenly felt very tired. "Of course Iím not," he said. "Iím Draco Malfoy."




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