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Chapter Eight: Malfoy Blood

Harry never thought he'd know a boy he hated as much as he hated Dudley, but that was before he met Draco Malfoy. (Book 1)


There was light, and it moved beyond the skin of his eyelids like darting points of fire. Harry groaned and opened his eyes.

He was in Draco's bedroom, lying spread-eagled on the bed -- he couldn't have laid any other way, since each of his wrists was tied to a bedpost. His head ached with a dull, booming pain as if someone were striking a gong behind his temples.

"Hold still," said a voice.

Harry whipped his head to the side and stared. It was Narcissa. She was holding a large, bone-handled saw.

Harry shut his eyes again. I'm having a nightmare, he told himself. And it's a really dumb one.

He opened his eyes, but Narcissa was still there. She had applied the edge of the saw to the ropes that bound his left hand to the bed and was sawing away at them. She was very pale, and her eyes were twitching from side to side in that weird little tic Harry was beginning to get used to. He did wish she wouldn’t do it while holding a saw so close to his artery, though.

 "Narcissa," he said. "I mean, Mum. What..?" His left arm came free, and he turned on his side to watch her slicing away at the ropes on his right.

"Your father," said Narcissa haltingly, "doesn't want you trying to get into the dungeons to get to your girlfriend." She held up a hand at the panicked expression that flashed across Harry's face. "She's fine. He put her in with Sirius Black." Her eyes twitched again. "Sirius will look after her."

His right arm came free. Harry sat up and started massaging the blood back into his hands. The last thing he remembered was being knocked to the floor by one of Lucius' Death Eaters. "They didn't hurt Hermione, did they?" he asked. "Because Lucius was about to…"

"Oh, he would have killed her," said Narcissa woodenly. "He did the Cruciatus Curse on her to try to get her to tell him where Harry Potter was. But she wouldn't."

Harry went from feeling numb to feeling like he was going to throw up. "What happened?"

"Your father," she said (he realized she never said Lucius' name, she had never, in his memory, said it once) "says that Harry Potter was there. Apparently he has an Invisibility Cloak of some sort. He revealed himself and," she showed no emotion as she said this, "the Death Eaters took him."

Harry struggled to sit up. He put his numb hands on top of Narcissa's hands, which were as cold as ice. She was still holding the knife. "Mum," he said. "Please believe me, this is really important. I know it's hard for you, but… is Harry still alive?"

She nodded.

"Where is he?"

"In the fencing room," she said. As she spoke, two huge tears slid out of her eyes and down her thin face. Harry felt horribly sorry for her, but his mind was on getting to Draco. He slid off the bed, tested his legs (they worked) and raced out the door. Narcissa watched him go.


In her dream, Hermione was in Diagon Alley. She was with Harry, and they were shopping for socks. This was a new one on Hermione - she had never dreamt about sock-shopping with Harry before. Harry made frequent appearances in her dreams, usually looking a lot better than he did in real life and sometimes wearing nothing but socks - but this dream didn't seem to be tending in that direction. This Harry was fully dressed and looking very serious.

They weren't getting far with their sock search. All the stores seemed to be boarded up, dark and empty. People on the street hurried past without looking at them, eyes on the ground. Hermione tried to take Harry's hand, but he shook his head.

"I've got to sit down," he said. "It hurts."

"What hurts?" she asked.

Harry drew his jacket open. She looked down and saw that the black handle of a ten-inch knife was protruding from between his ribs. His white t-shirt was turning red with blood and blood was pattering down onto his shoes like rain. "The knife," he said. "It's not mine, you know. It's Draco's."

Hermione screamed.

"Enervate," said a voice in her ear. "Come on, Hermione. Wake up!"

She opened her eyes and saw Sirius' face. What a horrible dream, she thought. Normally she never voluntarily cut short a dream with Harry in it. But she was glad to be rid of that one.

"Sirius," she said in a croaky voice. "Hey."

His face split into a tired smile. "You're awake," he said. "That's good. Sorry about yelling at you. I don't have my wand, so I had to do the best I could."

Hermione began to raise herself up on her elbows. Every part of her body hurt as if she had been beaten. She looked around. She was in a dank rock-bound cell with one barred wall. A stone bench ran along the opposite wall. She seemed to be alone with Sirius.

"Oh my God," she said, sitting straight up and grabbing Sirius' arm. "Harry. And Draco! Where are they?"

"I don't know," said Sirius, looking very sober. "I was hoping you could tell me that."

She shook her head wildly.

"A group of Death Eaters brought you down here," he said reluctantly. "Harry and Draco weren't with them. They tossed you in with me and left." He patted her shoulder awkwardly. "Do you remember what happened, Hermione?"

Hermione felt herself teetering on the edge of panicky tears. "It was horrible," she said. "The Death Eaters took Draco. They think he's Harry. And Harry..." The tears threatened to spill over, but she forced herself to speak slowly, filling Sirius in on the whole evening's events. "And then Draco took off the invisibility cloak and they sort of...closed in around him. I didn't see what happened after that, I didn't see what happened to Harry or to Draco. I think Lucius hit me with the Stupefying Hex." Now the tears did spill. "Draco could be dead, Sirius."

"They won't kill him," said Sirius. "They think he's Harry; they're going to put that Lacertus curse on him. And for that, they need Voldemort. So we have a little time."

"How much time does it take to summon Voldemort?" asked Hermione wildly. "How long does it take him to get here?"

"Well...." said Sirius reluctantly. "It's not like he takes the bus, Hermione. Voldemort can probably Apparate here instantly. But," he added, "if I know Lucius, he'll want to have everything prepared and perfect beforehand - no nasty surprises for the Dark Lord when he gets here."

"I hate Lucius," said Hermione vehemently. "He's a disgusting, evil, jewelry-wearing pervert who doesn't even care about his own son."

"He's a lot more than that," said Sirius, with a half smile. "He's-"

He broke off and looked at her thoughtfully.

"What?" said Hermione.

"What did you say about Lucius wearing jewelry?"

"He has this really ugly pendant he wears," said Hermione. "He seems very attached to it. He kept putting his hand on it when he know...trying to have it off with me in the study." She blushed furiously.

"Describe it," said Sirius.

Hermione described it: a silver chain with a clear glass pendant, in which an object was suspended, an object that looked a little like a human tooth. When she got to the part about the tooth, Sirius jumped to his feet and started pacing back and forth across the cell.

 "I thought so…" he muttered. "It's been in the back of my mind all this time…. I just didn't know how he was doing it."

"Doing what?" said Hermione, turning her head to follow Sirius' anxious progress.

"Controlling her," said Sirius.

"Controlling who?" demanded Hermione.

"Narcissa," he said, sitting down heavily on the bench.

"Sirius," she said firmly. "Enough with the free-association. Please speak English."

"I don’t know how he got her to marry him in the first place," said Sirius, obviously still thinking out loud, "She always hated him. I think he must have used some kind of Coercion Charm on her, if not the Imperious Curse itself."

"Are you saying he forced Narcissa to marry him?" said Hermione, interested despite herself. "Oh, that's just the sort of thing he'd do, isn't it?" She frowned. "But it doesn't make sense…he can't have kept her under the Imperious curse or something like that for seventeen years; she'd be dead, or mad."

"He wouldn't have needed to after the first year or so," said Sirius quietly. "He had something much better." He looked down at Hermione's bewildered expression. "Have you ever heard of an Epicyclical Charm?"

"Lucius has a book about them in his study. The Lacertus curse is in it." She shuddered. "It looks really nasty, the book, I mean."

"They’re spells that have to do with transferring the essence of people and animals into things. It's hard to explain, but a lot of it is Dark magic for reasons that should be obvious. You can take something from a person…the younger they are when you do it, the better…like hair, or a tooth, and turn it into an object. Like a pendant. And that object will contain the essence of that person, what the Greeks called the life-spark. If you destroy or damage that thing…"

"You kill the person?" said Hermione.


"So Lucius….you think he took one of Draco's teeth when he was a baby?"

"I think," said Sirius, "he's been wearing Draco's life around his neck since the day Draco was born. Draco wouldn't know about it, of course. But Narcissa would. All Lucius would have to do is break the pendant, crush it, and Draco would die. If Narcissa left him…if she defied him…"

"But Draco is his son," said Hermione, "his only heir, he said so."

 "He's just a possession to Lucius," said Sirius. "You don't know him, but I knew him at school. Even then he was a master manipulator, a pure careerist. Draco would just be a thing to him, something to own and control."

Hermione thought of her own boring dentist parents. "Poor Draco," she said.


Harry hurtled down the corridors, praying not to be seen, ("Hey! Kid! Slow down!" yelled the portrait of one of Draco's vampire ancestors as he passed it) and darted in through the oak double doors of the fencing room. It was just as it had been when Lucius had brought Harry on his first day at the Mansion -- or nearly so. The tapestries showing scenes of wizard battle were unchanged, so was the fencing ring, but in the far corner a weird kind of structure had been erected. It was like nothing Harry had ever seen before.

Glittering bars of light, each about five inches apart, ran from floor to ceiling. They were in the shape of a rough square, about five feet by seven feet. It was a cage, Harry realized, a cage made of light...and inside the cage was Draco.

Harry approached the cage cautiously. It was evident that whatever else it was, it was a powerful magical object, and Harry's experience with powerful magical objects told him that they were not to be messed with.

Draco was lying on his back on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. For a moment Harry was afraid they might have put the Body-Bind Curse on him, but he turned his head as Harry approached and almost smiled.

"Hey," he said.

He had a black eye and his upper lip was cut. Under his left sleeve cuff, Harry could see that one of his wrists was swollen to the size of a tennis ball.

"They knocked you around," said Harry flatly.

"It's all right," said Draco, returning his gaze to the ceiling. "If there's one thing I learned when I was a kid, it's to take a beating."

Harry knelt down next to the bars. "Malfoy," he said. "Narcissa told me what you did. That was the bravest thing I've ever heard of. Also the stupidest. But it was really brave."

"Thanks," said Draco. "It was probably you. The brave bit and the stupid bit."

Harry shook his head. "I don't think so. Well," he admitted, "maybe the stupid bit."

Draco smiled faintly.

"Look," said Harry. "I came up here to get you out. Then you can let me down into the dungeons and we can get--"

Draco shook his head. "Not possible," he said. "I know this Imprisonment charm. It would take a really powerful dark wizard or an Auror to take it off. And the bars are physically unbreakable."

Harry couldn't believe Draco seemed so resigned. "I won't leave you here," he said.

"This might be the time you learn there are some things even you can't do," said Draco. "Might be good for you."

"Not for you, though," said Harry. "Come on, Malfoy…think."

"Okay. There is one thing." Draco was looking at the ceiling again.


"I think you know, Potter," said Draco. "In fact, it's something you'll probably enjoy."

Harry shook his head, bewildered.

Draco sat up and crawled over to where Harry was kneeling, taking care not to put weight on his sprained wrist. "It's pretty simple, really," he said. "I need you to kill me."

Harry goggled at him. "What?"

"I can teach you to do Avada Kedavra," said Draco, in the helpful tone of someone offering him a pen he had asked for. "It won't be hard."

"You're mental," said Harry, awed. "I'm not going to kill you, Malfoy."

Draco was now kneeling opposite Harry. He looked at him very intently. "Think about it, Potter," he said. "It'll just be dying a little earlier than I will anyway when they get their hands on me, and do that Lacertus thing — and what'll happen it if works? They'll put the Imperius Curse on me and use me as a tool to kill Muggles and Mudbloods. I might not last as long as you - I haven't got a will as strong as yours - but I'll last long enough to kill the first Muggle-Born I come across. And who do you think that will be?"

Harry shut his eyes. "Oh, no."

"My dad," said Draco flatly, "will think it's pretty funny to make Harry Potter murder his own girlfriend. In fact, if he's keeping Hermione alive, that's probably why."

"I hate your father, Malfoy," said Harry without opening his eyes.

"Yeah," said Draco. "I hate him too."

And they were silent for a moment, neither of them looking at the other, heads bent in fierce contemplation — one dark, one fair; one outside the prison bars, one within.

"It's really a pity we're not related," said Draco finally, in a far-off voice. "I bet your friend Sirius down in the dungeon could take the imprisonment charm off. He's meant to be a really powerful wizard."

"Yeah," said Harry. "If only-" He broke off, jerked his head up and stared wildly at Draco. "That's it!" he breathed. "That is it! You're brilliant, Malfoy! I would kiss you, but that would be gross!"

Draco looked at him blankly. "Huh?"

"Give me your hand," said Harry.

"Why?" said Draco, suspiciously.

"Just give it to me," said Harry impatiently. With the expression of someone who no longer much cares what happens to him, Draco put his hand through the bars, and Harry took it. He reached into the pocket of his jeans with his other hand, took out the knife Sirius had given him for his 14th birthday, and flicked open the blade.

Then he slashed it viciously across Draco's palm. Blood spurted out of the cut, drenching the sleeve of Draco's shirt.

"Hey!" said Draco, trying to yank his hand back. "What're you doing?"

But Harry had now turned the knife on himself, and cut his own palm open. He dropped the knife, extended his hand, and seized Draco's bleeding one, pressing the cuts tightly together.

"I'm touched that you want to be blood brothers with me," said Draco, peering down at their bloody, interlocked hands. "But is this really the time?"

"Shut up, Malfoy," said Harry, who was grinning like a madman. "Come on, think about it. Malfoy blood. Only someone with Malfoy blood in their veins can open the trap door."

Draco's mouth fell open. Then he leaned forward, and gripped Harry's hand as tightly as he could, so tightly his knuckles turned white.

"What're you doing?" said Harry, laughing.

"What does it look like, Potter? I'm trying to bleed faster."


Harry approached the trap door nervously and put his right hand, still sticky with his own blood and Draco's, on the handle. Nothing happened. There was no screaming and no alarm. Emboldened, Harry yanked the door open and crawled down into the space below.

He wondered how long they had before Lucius and the others came for Draco. Draco -- he was actually thinking of him by his first name now, something he would never have thought was possible. Especially since it made him physically ill every time Hermione said the word Draco. I know you don't like Draco, Harry, but he's changed.

Changed. Maybe he has changed, Harry thought, rounding a cobwebby corner. He had been convinced it was all the Polyjuice spell, but was a spell like that really powerful enough to counteract an entire lifetime devoted entirely to self-interest and compel someone otherwise not heroically inclined to risk his own life for the life of a girl he hardly knew? Harry wasn't sure. What he did know was that, for whatever reason, Draco had saved Hermione from torture and probably death. That put Harry in debt to Draco. He didn't want to be like Snape, doomed to a lifetime of guilt and resentment; he wasn't going to let Draco Malfoy die while he owed him anything.

He was at the dungeon gate now. He lifted his bloody hand and closed it around the lock, which came away as if it had been made of spaghetti. He dropped it, pushed the gate open and hurried inside.

Sirius and Hermione were sitting together on the stone bench at the cell's far end, Sirius looking…well, extremely serious as he explained something to her, Hermione nodding and still looking ridiculously pretty in Narcissa's satin dress. She seemed to sense that Harry was there before he even said anything; she leaped to her feet and ran across the cell, thrusting her arm through the bars to catch at his hand.

"Harry…you're okay?"


He winced as she squeezed his slashed hand. She saw the blood and gasped: "Did Lucius…?"

"No. It's not all my blood," he said. "Some of it's Draco's."

She turned greenish. "Is he all right…is he hurt?"

"They beat him up, but not too badly. They're saving him for Voldemort," said Harry tensely. He turned to Sirius. "Do you know anything about Imprisonment spells?"


 Draco lay on his back, looking up at the ceiling. He supposed his should be writhing around in panic, but he wasn't. An icy sort of peace had descended on him and he felt almost nothing.

Harry was in the tunnels under the house now. Draco shut his eyes; he could find Harry better in the darkness. It was a little as if there was a cord of invisible light connecting them, with him on one end and Harry on the other -- sometimes it tugged at him, demanding his attention; other times, it was very hard to find Harry at the opposite end. Right now it was easy; he could almost see him. Weird visions, he thought. I'm having weird visions. But it kept him from feeling as if he was alone.

Hermione was with Harry now. It hurt to think about her, like the pain of a broken tooth. But she was alive, and that was at least partly because of him. He wasn't sorry he had done what he had done. He had always sat back and watched Harry doing the ridiculous heroic things that he did and wondered not only why he did them, but how. Now he knew. You just did what you had to do: there was only one choice that made sense, one way to go, and you took it. It was enviably simple. He wondered, though, would the choice seem so effortless if he didn't have Harry in his head?

When the door of the fencing room opened, Draco thought for a moment that he was imagining it. He turned his head slowly.

It was his father.

And Lucius wasn't alone. A very tall man in long black hooded robes was with him. He was wearing red gloves and carrying a wand. He walked quickly across the room and over to the cage. "Liberos," he said, and his voice was a horrible, hissing thing.

The bars of the cage vanished and Draco sat up. He suddenly felt naked, unprotected. The tall man came closer to him and peered down into his face. Then he reached up and drew his hood back.

Draco stifled a yell. A bald, hairless skull the color of blood-- yellow, slitted eyes with vertical cat pupils--- slits for nostrils---a lipless mouth.

"Lucius," said the horrible voice, which belonged, Draco now knew, to Lord Voldemort. "You have done very well here, very well indeed."


Once he let Hermione and Sirius out of the cell, Sirius made Harry describe the glowing cage in which they were keeping Draco several times before he was satisfied. "I can take the spell off," he said. "But I'll need my wand."

"You can use mine," offered Hermione, but Sirius shook his head.

"This is a very involved Charm," he said. "I need my own wand. I know where it is, I saw Lucius put it in a drawer in his study. Look," he added, "in dog form, I can get up there a lot faster than you can. I think I should go ahead, and you two come behind. I'll take the Imprisonment Charm off, if I can, and meet you in Draco's bedroom."

"What if…" Hermione swallowed hard. "You-know-who's already got him?"

Sirius looked grim. "Then I'll still meet you, and we'll figure out what to do from there," he said. He put his hand on Harry's shoulder and Harry looked up at him for a second. Then he nodded. "Okay."

Sirius let go of Harry, and turned immediately into his canine form, in which he loped out of the dungeon. Harry and Hermione followed more slowly. Harry was very silent and looked very unhappy. He was walking very fast, nearly running.

"Is Draco all right?" Hermione asked timidly. "I mean, you said he wasn't too badly hurt, but he must be really afraid."

"He's not too good. In fact, he asked me to kill him," said Harry, climbing over a pile of broken stone. He turned back to help Hermione over the pile and found that she had stopped climbing and was goggling at him.

"What? What did you say, Harry?"

"I took out my trusty knife and stuck it in his throat. What do you think I said?" snapped Harry, nettled. "I told him he was mental, I'm not going to kill him."

Hermione started to climb after him without assistance. "Why? Not why wouldn't you kill him, but why, you know, did he ask?"

"If they put the Lacertus curse on him, it'll kill him anyway," said Harry soberly. "He doesn't want them to do it, he doesn’t want to risk that he might end up murdering people. He said it would just be dying a little earlier than he would anyway."

Hermione stopped stock-still again. Harry began wondering if they were ever going to make any progress. "Harry…." she said.


"That's something you said. Our first year, when you were going after the Philosopher's Stone…you said that if you-know-who got you, it would just be dying a little earlier than you would anyway."

They looked at each other. "You think that was me talking?" said Harry uneasily.

Hermione looked extremely unhappy. "I don't know," she said. "I don't want to think so."

"I don’t think it was," said Harry, rather unexpectedly.

Hermione smiled at him. "I hope not," she said, "I already invited him to come visit me over the summer."

Now it was Harry's turn to stop walking. "He'll turn your whole family into toads, Hermione," he said, eerily echoing her own fears.

"He will not," she said obstinately. "My parents will like him. He's got really good manners, and he dresses well and…and he's read Hogwarts: A History."

 Harry turned around. Then he came up to Hermione, took her by the arms, and stared intently into her face, something he had never done before. "Do you like him, Hermione? I know you kissed him and all, but do you like him?"

"Yeah," she said, surprising herself. "I do, I really do."

"Do you love him?"


"Could you love him?"

"Yes!" she exclaimed. "Yes, I could!" She tried to yank her arms away, but he held on tightly.  "I'm getting really fed up with this whole big-brother thing, Harry," she added sharply. "I'm not twelve, and I'm not an idiot, and it is my business who I want to--"

 "Hermione," he interrupted her furiously, "you're so stupid."

And he kissed her.

It was nothing like kissing Draco. Kissing Draco was sweet and intoxicating and fun. Kissing Harry was none of those things; for Hermione, kissing Harry was the culmination of six years of frustrated love, six years of devotion and resentment, six years of hope and yearning and despair. It was a little like a bomb going off in her head. She felt herself clutching at Harry as if she might fall otherwise, felt Harry gripping her arms with a force that was painful. She would have bruises, but she didn't care. She couldn't breathe, but she didn't care. There was a rock digging into the small of her back but she didn't care. She could feel Harry's heart beating wildly against hers and that was what mattered.

It was a shock when he let go of her and stepped back. She saw that his chest was rising and falling rapidly as if he had been running. He continued backing up until he was standing against the opposite wall, staring at her in what looked a lot like horror.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't meant to do that. I'm really sorry."

She was bewildered. "Why? What are you sorry for?"

"This..." He gestured vaguely at her, at himself. "You and me. Things are chaotic enough already. I didn't mean to make the situation even worse."

"Worse?" Hermione stared at him. "Are you saying that kissing me was a bad thing?"

"No! Kissing you…was great," said Harry weakly. Then he straightened up, looking determined. "But I'm still not going to do it again."

"Why not?" said Hermione.

"Because," said Harry. He had taken his knife out of his pocket and was fiddling with it. It still had blood on the blade. "It would be wrong."

"Wrong?" Was he crazy? "Draco was right," she said flatly. "You have gone mad."

"I haven't. I've given this a lot of thought, Hermione, don't think I'm just--"

"You don't want to know what I think," she snapped.

"I do," said Harry. He was looking desperately unhappy, but Hermione had no patience left to feel sorry for him. She took two steps forward and grabbed him by the front of his robes.

"Say it," she said.

He refused to look at her. "I can't."

"Say it, Harry."

Now he looked angry and stubborn, as only Harry could be stubborn. "If you're asking me to tell you how I feel about you," he said, "I can't. I can’t and I won't."

"I asked you once before," she said. "I'm not going to ask you again. This is it, Harry, this is the last chance you get, do you understand?"

"I can't," he said again.

"Good," she said, and shoved him away. His knife fell to the floor and she bent to pick it up. When she straightened up, she saw Harry staring at her.

"Good?" he echoed in disbelief.

"Yeah," she said, handing the knife to him. Mechanically, he took it. "Good. For six years I've been wondering if you were, you know, the one for me. And now," she said, "Now I know you aren't."

Harry's eyes were wide. "Hermione, I —"

But she brushed past him and started walking. Harry stood there for a moment, gripping the knife very tightly in his hands. Then he followed her.


In dog form, Sirius raced up through the twisting corridors of the dungeons and hurtled out of the trap door. Keeping to the shadows, he crept through the hallways, heading in the direction he recalled that Lucius' study was located. It was lucky, he thought, very lucky that the house was so deserted -- he couldn’t imagine where Lucius and the Death Eaters were, but there didn't seem to be anyone around.

He turned the handle of Lucius' study door with a paw, and padded inside. What he saw there shocked him so much that he turned back into his human form without even thinking, and yelled out loud.

Narcissa was sitting behind Lucius' oak desk. She was very pale, and she was holding Sirius' wand in her hands. When she saw him, her eyes began to dart wildly around the room.

"Sirius," she said, and she held out the wand to him with a shaking hand. "I knew you'd come for this. Take it quickly, and go."

He took it. He had a mad urge to touch her hand as he did so, but repressed it. "The fencing room," he said gently. "How do I get there?"

She shook her head. "Just leave, Sirius."

"Narcissa," he said, "I need to get to Harry before the Dark Lord comes for him. Do you understand?"

"I understand," she replied. "But the Dark Lord has already come for him."


Draco couldn't believe how hideous Voldemort was. He had never really thought about it, but had always assumed that the Dark Lord looked a lot like any other Death Eater, maybe a little taller or paler, but still human. Looking at Voldemort's slitted, catlike eyes and scaley, noseless face, Draco suddenly felt sorry for Harry. Having to face him time after time. Seeing that face in his dreams. It would be horrible.

Draco knew he should be feeling panicky, but he wasn't. He didn't know why. Partly, he supposed, it was that he could still feel Harry and Hermione at the end of the invisible cord, they were coming up through the tunnels, looking for him, and he could feel their concern and worry. It made him feel less alone, even if he knew there was no way they would make it in time.

He looked over at his father, who was looking both anxious and greedily hopeful. "Are you pleased, Master?" Lucius Malfoy said.

"I am," said the Dark Lord. "Lucius, you and your Death Eaters have done very well."

"Lucius and the Death Eaters," said Draco, wishing his voice didn't sound so croaky. "Kind of sounds like a band name."

Lucius and Voldemort both stared at him. Draco stared back. If he was going to die, he was determined to die being obnoxious, which after all was what he was good at.

The Dark Lord bent and put his hand against Draco's forehead, directly on Harry's lightning scar. His hand was cold. "Does my touch burn you?" he said in his horrible voice. "Does it pain you, Harry Potter?"

"No," said Draco, "but it tickles like hell."

It was evident that Voldemort didn't have a sense of humor. He looked at Lucius, who looked back at him blankly and shrugged. "He's lying," said Lucius.

Voldemort's ugly cat eyes were slitted. "Is he?"

He reached down and drew off one of his gloves. The hand revealed underneath it was a dark red, almost brickish color, with long black nails. There were deep grooves along his palms, like healed cuts or burns.

"Take my hand, Harry Potter," he said, holding it out to Draco.

"Not until you put some lotion on those cuts," said Draco, "they look really nasty."

"Take my hand!"

Voldemort's hand whipped out with the speed of a striking snake and seized hold of Draco's, which he crushed in his grip. It was the hand Harry had cut open and the pain was sharp. The Dark Lord's own hand was as dry and scaly as lizard skin. He had no pulse at all. Draco wrenched his hand away as quickly as he could.

The Dark Lord turned to Lucius Malfoy and the look on his face was not pleasant at all. "Is this some kind of joke, Lucius?"

"I don't --- I don't know what you mean," Lucius stammered.

"This," and Voldemort waved a contemptuous hand at Draco, "this is not Harry Potter. Did you think a feeble disguise would fool me? I, who carry Harry Potter's own blood in my veins? I don't know who this is -- some Muggle you've tricked out with Polyjuice Potion---what were you hoping to accomplish, Lucius?"

Lucius Malfoy's face had gone the color of cottage cheese. "Not….Harry….Potter?" he gurgled.

"Don't pretend you didn't know," said Voldemort, but Lucius was in too advanced a state of shock to say anything at all. He was goggling at Draco. Draco waved at him.

"Who are you?" Lucius said to him, in a hushed voice. "One of Potter's friends…?"

"Not hardly," said Draco.

"There is a simple solution to this question, Lucius," said Voldemort. He took out his wand and jammed the tip of it into Draco's throat, which hurt quite a lot. "FINITE INCANTATUM!" said the Dark Lord.

For a moment, nothing happened, and Draco was sure the spell hadn't worked. Then the sensation of melting that he remembered washed over him again, accompanied by pain that tore through his nerves like a flight of tiny arrows. It was as if his own skin were being ripped away, his bones melted and reformed. He doubled up and fell to the ground on all fours, gasping, his vision blurring with pain.

He seemed to see his own body from a long way away, he saw himself changing. And he saw the narrow cord of light that stretched between himself and Harry snap like an overburdened fishing line. The vision of Harry he could see behind his inner lids spun away into the darkness — and he was alone.

Draco sat up slowly, feeling the pain ebb away. His vision was still blurred…but that, he realized, was because he was still wearing Harry's glasses, which he no longer needed. He reached up to remove them, but his hands were shaking so badly that it took him three tries before he could get them off.

He looked up. His father and Voldemort were staring at him, Voldemort with curiosity and Lucius with an expression that said that all his worst nightmares had just come true in one horrible moment.

"Isn't that your son, Lucius?" the Dark Lord said.

Chapter 9 >>>