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Three Turns Through Darkness

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Lucius wished that he knew the boy's name.

Potter had always been his primary concern. There was also the Mudblood, Granger, whom his son was always ranting about, but the Weasley boy was just Potter's hanger-on. No one of consequence at all.

Consequence was a matter of possessing power. Power of the unexpected and lethal sort, which it seemed had recently been given to Arthur Weasley's youngest son.

Lucius was trapped—wandless—in the Room of Requirement with the Weasley boy, and there was murder in the boy's eyes. If he knew the boy's name, he would have something to call him, to use as leverage. To remind him that there were—very possibly—other people who would hold him accountable, and ask questions about why Lucius Malfoy went into the Room of Requirement and never came out. It was a very, very thin possibility.

Lucius's throat was parched. He was injured, tired, and filthy in a way that could only come from wearing the same clothes for an entire week. He had been battered by the Weasley boy's hexes for the last half an hour, and he still had no idea what the boy wanted. Lucius unsuccessfully tried to swallow before he opened his mouth to yet again bargain for his family's life.

“Whatever you want, it's yours. Galleons, the Manor. Just let my wife and son leave here alive.”

The Weasley boy laughed. It was a ragged, harsh sound. “My brother's dead. You think offering me Galleons, your precious Dark Artefacts, is going to change that? Fuck you, Malfoy.”

“Anything you wish, it is yours,” Lucius wheezed, feeling an ache where he was sure his ribs had cracked. “I can—I can give you access to the Malfoy and Lestrange vaults. I can get you inside the Manor. I know the Dark Lord's secrets, I will—”

“You know what's funny, Malfoy?” the Weasley boy said, interrupting his plea. “The bit where you think you're getting out of here alive.” The Weasley boy raised his wand. “Crucio.”

The last thing Lucius felt was white-hot pain. It never ended.

This was not how Narcissa had expected events to unfold. When her family had managed to escape the final battle alive, she'd been unsure of their welcome at the Order's hands. When no wands were immediately pointed in their direction and no one had thrown them out of the victory feast, she'd allowed herself to begin to believe that they might truly have made it out of the war alive. They'd stayed until the feast had wound down, trying to gauge the lay of the land and see where small overtures could be made. It wasn't until Shacklebolt and McGonagall had appeared and quietly demanded their wands that Narcissa had realized that their ordeal was not at an end.

They'd been placed in some sort of storage room, stripped bare of its contents, and left to stew with only the occasional house-elf to attend to them. Not that the house-elves had been of much help, as they appeared to be under extremely strict orders. They'd been given no water with which to bathe, and were forced to use chamber pots. The only thing that saved the food from being a similar disgrace was that Hogwarts' house-elves were apparently unable to cook less than superbly, even when preparing bland and simple fare.

There was a small, high window in one corner of the otherwise unremarkable room, which was the only thing which allowed them to track the passage of time. On the seventh day of their imprisonment, they'd been escorted by Aurors through Hogwarts' corridors. Besides their guards, there was not another soul in sight. They had stopped before a blank stone wall, to no apparent purpose, before the stone seemed to fade away into a looming set of double-doors.

Her eyes had widened even as she'd turned to catch Lucius's equally startled eyes. The Room of Requirement. Another Hogwarts legend brought to life. The doors had opened, and her family and the Aurors had stepped into what was apparently a ten foot deep niche, facing a blank stone wall.

Blank stone was the last thing she remembered. When she came to, she was sitting at a table across from Harry Potter. The stone room's ceiling seemed unnaturally low, and the small area was lit by a dim glow that had no discernible source. Narcissa had feared interrogation, torture or even death, but none of her fears had come to pass. Instead she sat in a small, uncomfortable chair across from the Potter boy, who seemed more intent on drumming his wand—Voldemort's wand—against his hands than listening to whatever she might have to say.

It had been an hour, as best as she could tell, since she woke. Aside from a faint lingering headache—likely the aftereffects of a spell—she wasn't harmed in any way. The Potter boy seemed disinclined to talk, and silence was far better than some other courses. From what she'd seen, she was not the target of any sophisticated interrogation technique; rather, she was sitting across the table from a boy who was waiting for something else to occur.

She watched him carefully before she spoke. “My son. Draco—”

The Potter boy looked up and his eyes narrowed at the name. She hurried her request. “—is he all right?”

He looked at her with cold eyes, and she realized that he barely cared that she was there. He shrugged. “He's with Hermione.”

Hermione. The name was vaguely familiar. It took a few seconds for her to connect the name with the one that she was used to hearing, which was 'Mudblood Granger' as it fell from her son's lips.

The Mudb—the Muggle-born, she corrected herself—hadn't appeared particularly dangerous on the handful of occasions Narcissa had met her. There had never been murderous rage or hatred in her eyes, only a certain determination. Draco had never told tales of vicious Quidditch matches or bloody duels with the girl, unlike with the Potter boy or Arthur Weasley's son.

Narcissa allowed herself a small measure of hope. Perhaps it was better this way, that she was separated from her son, if it meant that he went to a girl who seemed to be brighter than most of her kind. Perhaps this Granger girl would show him mercy, or even plead his case to her friends, as opposed to the indifference Narcissa had found at the Potter boy's hands.

He had looked away again. He stared at the far wall and drummed Voldemort's wand against his hand, as if it was the only thing that mattered.

Granger wanted something. Draco knew that look from six years of watching her: a swotty Mudblood who never knew her place, dangling for attention from teachers and her betters. He knew the line between her brow, the puzzled curve to her lips, even the way that she placed one hand on her hip.

“I see that you've finally decided to remove us from that slum of a chamber,” he said. At least he was moderately safe with Granger, unlike Weasley or Potter, who'd likely have used fists as their method of persuasion. “Spit it out, whatever it is that you want, so that we can get this farce of an interrogation over with.”

Her look of contemplation washed away, replaced by irritation. “Fine words from someone who was on the losing side. How does it feel, Malfoy, from where you're sitting?”

“You're the one who has the wand. What do you think?” he sneered. He tried to lift his arms away from the chair, but whatever kind of modified Body-Bind she'd cast successfully kept him pinned down.

Her lips thinned. “There were a few ways we could have gone about this, but I find that I no longer wish to spend any more time in your presence. Let's get this over with, shall we?”

Draco hoped that meant she'd go away, but instead of relief, he felt a sour thread of fear curdle his stomach. He raised his chin, a paper-thin act of resistance.

Her lips curled in distaste. She raised her wand and spoke. “Legilimens.”

He fought. He fought with every trick that his Aunt Bellatrix had taught him, but he was exhausted and she was strong. He felt his defenses waver and crack. A stream of memories spilled through the spell, and he tried desperately to stop the flow. In a panic, he reacted instinctively, trying to gather up the ones which he most desperately wished to hide. Those become the ones which she targeted and quickly wrested from his grasp.

In the third year Slytherin dorms, a young boy with white-blond hair nurses a recently broken nose while working on a letter at his desk. He stops his writing and scans the lines, where he's asked his father to demand the expulsion of Hermione Granger. His face goes still, and then he viciously crumples up the letter and throws it in the bin. He pushes away from his desk and flops back onto his bed, one arm flung over his eyes, hiding his face from further examination.

As though far away, Draco heard someone gasp.

At the Quidditch World Cup, masked figures terrorize the crowds. A boy with white-blond hair and a pale, pointed face goes from tent to tent, practically breaking into a run before he spots a trio of school-age friends. He slows down enough to calm his breathing and check his hair before revealing himself, and harassing them to run and hide. The four of them exchange sharp words, but he stays and watches them go until the girl disappears from sight.

He tasted a bright copper tang and felt warmth trickle into his mouth.

At the Yule Ball, the boy is dressed all in black. His date is by his side, but throughout the night he keeps on darting glances at the girl in the periwinkle-blue dress robes.

There were many more fragments, some impossible to place in time, but they fell along a familiar theme. Always, the boy watched the girl from the outskirts, needling, insulting and interfering, in a clumsy, awkward bid for attention. The memories were laced with painfully sharp longing and bitter self-loathing, a noxious surge of feelings that rose up in Draco yet again.

When he came to from the swimming sea of memories, she was looking at him incredulously. He turned his head away, unable to meet her gaze. There was blood in his mouth. He spat the blood out and gently probed the throbbing pain in his lower lip. He'd bitten it in his struggles to fight her spell. For long, drawn-out seconds, neither of them made another sound.

When she laughed, it was dark, bitter and razor-sharp. “You fancy me. How unbelievably twisted.”

She walked forward until she stood directly in front of him, and reached out and grabbed his chin. She looked at him intently, and Draco found himself unable to look away from her gaze.

“Get your hand off me,” he said hoarsely, a shadow of his usual spite.

She took her hand off his face and made a show of dusting it off against her trousers. “Don't worry, Malfoy. I have no intention of laying a hand on you.” She looked at him archly. “Even though I know that's what you really want.”

His face burned with humiliation, and he looked away. He heard her laugh again, and a knot of shame and rage built in his chest

“Fuck you, Mudblood. You think that just because you won, that you're better than us.” He was spewing spiteful words, things he knew he shouldn't say.

“I am better than you. I'm better at magic. I'm better at fighting. I'm a better person. I'm better at everything that actually matters. You should remember that, but instead, you cling to your twisted delusions of blood purity. Blood purity. Has there been enough blood spilled for this stupid war, has there been—” She cut herself off and closed her eyes. Eventually, she drew a slow, deliberate breath. “Now I see it. I've been going about this the wrong way, waiting for you and your kind to change your minds.” She opened her eyes and looked at him. Her look wasn't reassuring. “I suppose it doesn't matter if you've paid attention to what I've said, because it's not like you'll remember.”

Her lips curved into a slow, cruel smile, and he wondered why he'd ever thought that he'd be safe with her.

She raised her wand once more. “Obliviate.”

When Draco came to, he was disoriented. Everything seemed fuzzy. He must have passed out from food and lack of sleep, but as he tried to collect himself, he realized that someone was standing in front of him. He looked up and his heart leapt. She was here.

“Granger, I—” He stopped, unsure of what to say. His words, spoken over a year ago, seemed foolish in retrospect. Did she even remember? Did she even still care?

“Hush,” she said. She knelt by his chair and took his hands. He grasped hers tightly in return. “I was so worried about you,” she said.

Relief bloomed in his chest. Such a thin promise to cling to: a handful of hastily exchanged words in the sixth year. A conversation, one late winter night, where he'd bitterly told her that regardless of what he wanted, he'd never be allowed to change his convictions or his mind. A conversation that ended with a hesitant offer, from her. Should he come around, she would give him shelter and understanding. Not an Unbreakable Vow or even a Wizard's Oath, just a simple promise made between mostly enemies and not spoken of again. It was a memory that he'd clung to during the war.

“I wanted to go to you,” he murmured. “I wanted to see you so badly.”

“I wanted to see you too,” she said, and he was seized with a great and terrible hope.

She looked so tired, but she was here. She was with him, and she was looking at him like he mattered, like she cared. He wasn't sure if it was nerves or a desperate need to do what he'd always wanted before anything else could happen, but something pushed him into action.

He leaned forward and kissed her, a bare brush of his lips against hers. There was a horrible moment where she did nothing, and then she kissed him back, ever so slightly. Eventually, he broke the kiss with a gasp, and his heart pounded wildly in his chest.

She looked at him with wide, startled eyes, as though she'd finally seen him. As though she were looking at him for the first time.

“Draco—” she said, and he leaned in to kiss her again. This time, she seemed to melt into his kiss, and he found himself cradling her jaw with his hand. When they slowly, reluctantly pulled apart, he was breathing quickly and she looked stunned.

He had to give her something, a token of how much she meant to him, a symbol of his trust. Something that would tell her that he meant everything that his kisses had tried to say. He tugged at his signet ring, fumbling it off his finger with shaking hands.

“Here, I want you to have this,” he said.

She gasped. “Draco, I can't.”

He pressed his gift into one of her hands, folding her fingers around it. He raised her hand and kissed it, trying to convey all of the desperate promises he wished he could keep.

“You were there for me, Hermione. You're here for me even now.” His hand tightly gripped hers.

She raised her other hand, brushing his hair away from his eyes, and he leaned into her touch.

“Oh, Draco,” she whispered, and he closed his eyes, taking comfort in her presence. “I wish I could stay, but I need to go.” He opened his eyes, and found that she looked distraught.

“It's okay,” he said shakily. “I'll wait.” He attempted a weak smile.

“The room's set for twenty-four hours. There's still another twenty to go, but someone will come for you before then,” she said, even as she stood. She started to turn and walk away.

“Will it be you?” he asked, trying to hide how desperate he was to see her again.

She paused and looked at him over her shoulder. “I'll be here. I promise.” She gave him a small smile, and his heart leapt. “Don't worry, Draco. You'll never be without me again.”

Three people stood outside of the Room of Requirement. They talked in low and intent voices, arguing about a plan.

“We need to get into that manor,” Harry said.

Ron snorted dismissively. “And I need a million Galleons. They're gonna have wards. Blood wards. You think you can get past that?”

Hermione's mouth curved into a smile. She reached into her bag and pulled something out. In her outstretched hand glinted a signet ring, a deeply carved 'M' visible on the smooth metal held by twining, serpentine bands.

“I don't think blood wards will pose too much of a problem. I know someone who would be willing to unlock the Manor for us.”

Harry looked on in puzzlement, and Ron swore softly.

“What did you do?” Ron asked.

“What needed to be done,” she said, and her voice sharpened. “Come along. I'll tell you the plan.” Her voice lowered. “It's not safe to talk here.”

They fell into step around her and walked away from the Room of Requirement. The corridor echoed with the sound of their footsteps and the fainter sound of the Elder Wand being passed between Harry's hands. The door to the Room of Requirement melded back into the wall, hidden from sight.

Eventually, the sound of their footsteps faded away. It was like no one had been there at all.