“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
To Lady Narcissa Hera Malfoy ne Black,
Well, mother dear, it’s been nearly 6 months now, can you believe it? It was February when I rescued Ginevra Weasley from two of the Dark Lord’s less intelligent goons and here we are packing up for the summer holidays and trying not to panic over mock exams. How time flies.
I believe I will do tolerably well in my mock NEWTs, especially as I have had some new friends tutoring me in my weaker subjects. With the aid of Hermione Granger in Ancient Runes and Ginny Weasley in Offensive Magics I believe I shall exceed my previous results. Though Miss Weasley is a year below me, she has demonstrated such an ability in the field of Hexes and Curses that the teachers allow her to study spells that most would consider far beyond the capabilities of a mere OWL year student. She manages them all with barely any effort and is in great demand for tutoring. Of course one must also balance this help against the distractions that new friendships and certain new... past-times I have also discovered inevitably bring, but I believe these too have helped me to work hard.
I’m afraid I will not be seeing you this summer. Harry Potter has offered me his kindest hospitality and I’m sure you’ll understand that I felt it expedient to accept. This especially as we are engaged in a relationship of sorts. It may be a little unconventional (and between two members of the same sex of course) but we both take it seriously. Of course I would never presume to enter into any formal betrothal contract without yours and father’s express approval, but I am happy with him nonetheless. Staying with him will also make it easier for me to fulfil the promise I have made to myself that I will be with him, when the time comes. When the storm breaks.
I did not intend to change sides. That choice was made for me by my conscience, something I thought father had beaten out of me long ago. But when it came down to it, I could not stand by and watch a happy, beautiful, innocent girl die, not even to save my own skin. I was as shocked as anyone to discover that there is good still in me, but now I know I cannot turn my back on it. I am sorry for any pain and worry I have caused you, and doubly sorry to anyone father chose to take his anger out on. I’m afraid some things are simply too important to be squandered on something like family honour, and integrity is one of them. “All we have is an inch, but within that inch we are free” as a very fine Muggle once said.
If you would, I would ask you to be so good as to pass on a message for me. I would do it myself but I’m afraid my owls no longer receive a welcome at many of the old Wizarding homes. If you would, please tell the Parkinsons that I am sorry that I will not be able to marry Pansy and fulfil the contract between our families. It was something we both desired, Pansy and I, but unfortunately it is not to be. I am sorry that I have wasted their time. ‘Though they seem to have wasted little time in finding a new fiancé for Pansy. It will be interesting to see whether a man in his 60s and in poor health is any more capable of performing his martial responsibilities than I would have been. ‘Though at least if I had managed it our children would have been attractive. Thank the ancestors my conscience has prevented me from having to attempt to perform with a woman.
Oh, did you know I’m gay? That means homosexual, by the way. It’s a Muggle term that’s in common usage at school and I think it’s rather charming, especially when compared the words father uses for it. I seem to remember that I never mentioned it, and I was never sure how much you’d worked out by yourself. I would like to say that I can be sure that it was nothing you or father did that made me this way, but frankly given some of the things you’ve made me I really can’t be sure. I’m pretty sure my unusual sexual proclivities are your fault, so blaming the fact that I indulge them with men is hardly much of a stretch is it? Still I don’t mind at all, and Granger says that Muggle research is beginning to show that homosexuality is an inherited trait, so perhaps it’s nothing to do with the abuse. Though that opens up the amusing and intriguing question of which one of you I get it from.
I know it is futile to attempt to dissuade you from the path both the Blacks and the Malfoys have followed for centuries, but I cannot rest easy with myself unless I at least try. The Dark Lord’s cause is doomed, has been doomed right from the very start. How many will remain loyal to him beyond the inner circle once the storm comes? His followers will notice his habit of killing those loyal to him sooner or later. They will remember all the purebloods he has maimed and tortured. They will notice his blatant disregard for Wizarding law and custom. He will lose mother, it’s only a matter of time. And of course that time will be all the shorter once people begin to remember that Tom Marvolo Riddle (his real name) is himself a half blood.
You will find some of my possessions which remained in my room while I have been at school have been removed. I felt it best to instruct the house-elves to bring me everything of mine now, rather than bother you for them at some later date. You will also find that the small portrait of Grandfather Abraxus which hung in Great Aunt Miriam’s sitting room is gone (it really is time you redecorated in there, mother, the colour is hideous. Didn’t anyone ever tell you Miriam Malfoy was colour-blind?). I hope you will not mind my taking it, not that there’s anything you can do about it if you do, but I wanted some link to my old life, if only to remind me that I am free of it, and Grandfather Abraxus was always my favourite relative. A shame about his politics, but he was always a ready man with a dirty song and a barley sugar or three, which is important to a child.
It seems unlikely that we will ever meet again, at least in peacetime. This is also the last time we will be able to communicate in writing before the storm breaks, as the house in which I am staying is protected appropriately. I therefore wish to say a few things which are not easily said on a battlefield, especially to one who stands against you. Thank you mother, for all you have given me – a good education, cultured tastes, good looks and a wonderful metabolism. But curse you, you and father both, for the great wrong you have done me. I will see death before my 18th birthday, of that I am sure, and that is thanks to you. I leave for the holidays knowing that the next time I meet many of my classmates; it will be their life or mine.
I hope we never meet in battle, but if we do, know that however much I have loved you, do love you, my loyalty now is to Harry and to the light, and I will fight all the harder for them because they are not forcing me.
I know that whatever you and father decide to do I will always be a Malfoy in my heart, but I will be me too, and that is more important than either of you ever understood.
Yours in sorrow and parting,
* * * * * * * * * *
Harry’s palm was sweaty against Draco’s as they ascended the moving staircase that lead to the headmaster’s office. Dumbledore already knew about the catastrophic change which Harry had undergone the previous summer, but now they had to explain about their personal arrangement so that the Headmaster, as the secret keeper, could give Draco permission to use Harry’s house for the summer.
Draco was nervous, understandably so, but Harry was terrified. Despite the fact that the headmaster had not always treated him as well as he might have, he loved him as though he were his own flesh and blood and he was haunted by the idea that the old man might not approve of his relationship with Draco. A relationship which was becoming less an arrangement and more real by the day.
Draco squeezed Harry’s hand comfortingly. “It’ll be fine, Harry,” he said quietly. “Knowing Dumbledore he probably already knows. This is just a courtesy call. If he disapproved he would have said so by now. Besides, what is there to disapprove of?” He blushed slightly, then leant over and pressed a gentle kiss on Harry’s cheek. “It’ll be fine. I’ll do all the talking.”
At last the staircase came to an abrupt halt. Before them was the arched door that led to the Headmaster’s study. Harry knocked nervously.
“Come in,” came the reply from within.
Harry pushed open the door. Draco looked around him with interest. He’d never seen the inside of the Headmaster’s study before. It was a light airy room but it was nearly overflowing with trinkets and ornaments and curios. Every available bit of wall space has been covered in paintings, mostly portraits of previous headmasters. There were a few photographs, mostly of previous Quidditch champions. There were even one or two Muggle style paintings, their staring unmoving eyes oddly disturbing. The headmaster was sitting in a large throne-like carved chair pulled up to his desk, intent on some papers before him; probably writing school reports from the look of it.
“Hello my boys,” he said, looking surprised. Perhaps he hadn’t known after all. Then again, perhaps it was all an act because as his sharp eyes took in their clasped hands a faint smile twitched his lips. “What can I do for you?”
Harry cleared his throat, then blushed and looked at his shoes when the others turned to look at him. Draco sighed. It looked as though he would have to do the explaining after all.
“I need your permission to enter 12 Grimmauld Place, sir,” he said calmly. “I will be living there this summer. And all summers until the war is concluded.”
“I see,” Dumbledore said, sounding grave. “And why will you be doing this, may I ask?”
“Because I intend to survive the war,” said Draco bluntly and the Headmaster’s lips twitched again with ill-concealed amusement. “And because Harry has offered me protection.”
The headmaster nodded gravely, his blue eyes twinkling with secret mirth. “But in such matters you are the consummate politian Mr Malfoy. You would not have accepted if you did not feel you could repay the debt in some way.”
Draco fought the urge to roll his eyes at the man’s unsubtle attempt to fish for more information, but he told the man what he wanted to know. “Of course not, sir. It is not a good idea to be in any man’s debt. You never know when and how he may call for repayment. In return Harry gets my blood. He will no longer be requiring blood potions. That should please Professor Snape no end. I know he feels brewing them is not a useful use of his time.”
“Surely you cannot supply Harry with all the blood he needs? Not without endangering your own health? He is a healthy young man with an appetite to match.”
“I can!” Draco cried, suddenly unaccountably angry. “He won’t drink anyone else’s blood if I have any say in it.”
Harry looked amazed at this uncharacteristic outburst, but Dumbledore merely smiled knowingly. “Very well, Mr Malfoy, I understand. I will of course make arrangements for you to be allowed entry to Grimmauld Place. But you understand that that will not be possible until you have undergone a brief questioning under Veritaserum. To confirm you are indeed the admirable young man you appear to be.”
Harry started to protest, but Draco put a restraining hand on his arm and said quietly, “Of course, Sir, I would expect nothing less of you. But I feel I should tell you now, to avoid any embarrassments later on, that Harry and I are involved.”
The headmaster smiled beatifically and said “My dear Draco, I may old but I am not blind. It would take a fool not to see that you two charming young people are, as we called it in my day, ‘stepping out together’. I am very happy for you both and you have my assurance that I will ask no questions of a personal nature unless I believe them to be of direct importance.”
Draco sighed with relief. “Thank you, sir. When would you like me to return?”
“Oh I think we may as well get it over with now, don’t you, Mister Malfoy? I wouldn’t want to waste any more of your valuable time. After all, I’m sure you have important things to be getting on with, like terrorising the first years, and providing Professor Snape with an adequate supply of shampoo. But I must ask you to leave poor Trelawney alone, I really fear she’s going to have a breakdown.”
“Yes sir.” Draco said, carefully hiding his pleased smirk under the familiar Malfoy mask of blankness.
“Would you like me to leave now sir?” Harry asked, glancing nervously at Draco.
“I think that would be for the best, don’t you?” Dumbledore replied. “I will not keep him long.”
Harry nodded mutely and gave Draco’s hand a squeeze. “I’ll wait for you by the gryphon,” he said, and slipped noiselessly out of the room.
When he was gone the Headmaster went to a portrait in the far right hand corner of the room and rapped on the frame. “Hippoclaus, would you kindly inform Severus Snape that I require his presence and a bottle of Veritaserum. He should be alone in his chambers at this time. If you would also be as good as to inform Minerva that I am not to be disturbed for the next 30 minutes, I would be grateful.”
“Of course headmaster,” said the painting. Draco leant forward and just caught sight of a shock of platinum hair, so like his own, disappearing behind the frame. Of course he realised. Hippoclaus must be great-great-great granduncle Claus, the only Malfoy ever to be headmaster of Hogwarts. He was sorry he couldn’t have had a word; he would have liked to have spoken to the old man. He liked getting to know his ancestors, especially the ones his father didn’t approve of. He was never sure what it was Hippoclaus had done that could outweigh the honour of his Headmastership but when he had questioned his father about him he’d simply said that he “wasn’t our sort.”
Draco and the Headmaster sat in silence for several minutes, broken only by Dumbledore offering Draco Sherbet Lemons, Acid Drops, Barley Sugars and even a sugar mouse while they waited. At last Snape appeared from the fireplace, carrying a small crystal bottle containing a clear liquid which could only have been the Veritaserum Dumbledore had requested. He looked shocked when he saw Draco.
“Good morning, Professor,” Draco said politely. “Surely you knew I was defecting to the side of the light?”
“I did indeed Draco. I was merely surprised to find you submitting so willingly to Veritaserum. You are normally an intensively secretive person.”
“I know when to make prudent sacrifices. And I trust both you and the Headmaster to keep anything said in this room to yourselves and away from my father,” he replied stiffly. “Even now he can still make things difficult for me.”
Snape merely nodded in understanding and agreement.
Dumbledore beamed at them both. “Shall we get on with this?” he said. “No sense in taking too long over the thing.”
Draco nodded and held out his hand for the little bottle of potion. Snape handed it to him and said quietly, “Just a sip should suffice, Draco.”
Draco nodded and put the neck of the tiny bottle to his lips. The potion had a strange, fragrant taste, a little like cough drops. Any Muggleborn would straight away have identified it as the taste of Cola Cubes but to Draco it simply tasted a little like his mothers coughs and colds potion. Draco was surprised to find he didn’t feel any different. He had heard stories of course of people being questioned under Veritaserum and they were always described as being in a trance.
Dumbledore seemed to read his thoughts. “The more you resist, the more like Imperius it becomes. One who takes it willingly, like yourself, will feel no affects until they attempt to lie.”
Draco tried it. He attempted to say “All bananas are purple.” It seemed a safe and non-controversial thing to say, and it was on his mind as changing the colour of fruit had been part of that morning’s transfiguration lesson. McGonagall would never let them off a lesson, even when they’d finished exams for the term. As soon as he opened his mouth to speak, however, he found he could not. His mind felt sluggish and numb, as though he’d had a high dosage of painkilling drugs, and his tongue could not form the words. He shut his mouth again and shook his head to clear the fog.
Snape nodded. “It has worked then,” he said in his clipped dry way. “Would you like to begin the questioning Headmaster?”
Dumbledore nodded and picked up a sheaf of paper from his desk. He consulted the first page. “Do you truly intend to leave Voldemort’s side, Mr Malfoy?” He asked calmly.
“Yes,” said Draco simply.
“Do you still support his cause, in your heart if not with your actions?” asked Snape.
“I never supported his cause,” said Draco with a vehemence he hadn’t known he felt. “But it would not have been prudent to defy him and my father without some sort of surety for my safety.”
Snape looked amazed, but he obviously trusted his potion-making skills because he did not question this statement.
“Will you stay loyal to the cause of the light, even if you face danger?” Snape asked, his voice still the calm tone he used when explaining potion making, belying the seriousness of the subjects under discussion.
“If I had a choice, perhaps not,” Draco replied, blushing slightly at the candour of his own words. “But even if I were to take them vital information, Voldemort’s side would still kill me for my treachery. And I haven’t the skills or the experience to hide from either side. So yes, I will remain true because what other option do I have?” He gave Snape a small, taunt, smile. “It’s Harry or Nott, sir. Which one would you take?”
It was impossible to tell whether Dumbledore had understood that last or not, his expression remained one of twinkly eyed benevolence. Snape on the other hand looked shocked for a moment then nodded his understanding.
“A very Slytherin answer Mr Malfoy. Not that I would expect any less from one of your upbringing, which I’m afraid leads me to ask the question, will you truly be content being subservient in your relationship with Mr Potter? Being his victim?”
Finally, Draco thought. A question I can answer. “Sir, I appreciate that you will not want any kind of details, so I will simply say that Harry is as close to my perfect lover as I’m going to find. He suits me just fine.”
“Excellent,” Dumbledore said, interrupting whatever it was Snape had been about to say, probably something both scathing and offensive, “in that case Mr Malfoy I will meet you at the house tomorrow to allow you to enter.
“Now I’m sure Harry is waiting for you. It wouldn’t do to keep him waiting.”
Recognising a dismissal when he heard it, Draco nodded to the two professors and let himself out, aware of ebony eyes boring into the back of his skull as he left.
* * * * * *
Draco stared at his case in despair. He had a reputation for being organised and tidy, and certainly his wardrobe was organised with military efficiency, but he just couldn’t get the hang of packing. He knew his clothes would go back into this case – they’d all come out after all, but no matter what he tried he just couldn’t make it work. He just thought he’d got it all in and had shut the lid of his trunk, when he discovered that he hadn’t yet emptied his underwear draw.
He mentioned his inability to pack to Granger when they’d been studying together last week and she’d laughed and said something about it being like ‘Tetris’ which according to her was a Muggle game. Draco felt this was probably reasonable evidence that Muggles really were as insane as his father insisted. What kind of sick people would make a game out of this torture!
The dorm was a tip. Crabbe and Goyle never packed until it was almost too late and they seemed to be allergic to tidying, so their possessions were strewn across the room. Nott junior had done his usual trick of going through his cupboard, finding all the things his mother wouldn’t allow his to take back into the house – like his Muggle porn collection – and abandoned them for the house elves to clean up, so the floor was covered in a thin layer of magazines that slipped and slid whenever you tried to walk. Blaize and Draco were usually both fairly tidy but when he’d discovered his omission in packing Draco had thrown all his socks and boxers on the floor in a fit of pique.
He was just beginning to seriously contemplate casting an Incendio on the whole lot and going commando for the summer when he heard a smart rap on the door frame. Rat-tatta-tat-tat-tatta-tat. Pansy’s code for ‘I’m here to see if your okay’.
He turned and smiled at her wanly. “’Lo Pans. Come to laugh at my complete lack of packing skills?”
They both knew that this might well be the last time they saw one another – the war was coming sooner rather than later and they were both going to be on the front lines – but by unspoken agreement they never mentioned it. It was enough that they both knew.
She did her best to smile at him. “Honestly, husband of mine,” she said with nearly her usual amount of cutting disbelief, “Have you really not got the hang of it yet?”
Draco managed a real smile then, for the nick-name if nothing else. Pansy had been calling him that of and on since they were three. She’d heard her mother use it and copied her as children do. Of course she’d been too young then to know that even before she was born her parents had had understandings with the parents of other pure blood children. She would marry the Malfoy boy is she was female or the Bulstrode’s youngest if she was a boy. She was constantly grateful she was a girl.
Draco held out his hands to her and she took them and led him to sit of the edge of his bed. They just sat, holding hands tightly, for long moments before Draco finally spoke.
“I’m so sorry I can’t marry you, Pansy. So very sorry. I’m sorry I’m abandoning you and I’m sorry you’re marrying Alastair Turnwise and I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do to help you.”
He managed to keep his voice from catching but Pansy knew him well enough to see the emotion hidden beneath the Malfoy mask. She pulled him close and wrapped her arms around him and he clung to her, all too aware that this might be the last time he ever got to hold the most important person in his life. He could cope without mother. He definitely wouldn’t miss father. But the thought that he might lose Pansy was unbearable.
He was aware that his shirt was wet with her tears, and that his own face was damp with them, but he had the good grace not to mention it.
At last they pulled apart and offered one another identical weak smiles, full of pain and sorrow.
“I’ve got something for you,” he told her, suddenly remembering the precious package tucked away in his robe pocket.
He pulled out a long thin dark wooden pencil box, decorated with delicately hand painted pansies in shades of soft purple. The box rattled when she took it from him so Pansy opened it, revealing a single HB pencil. Along its length words had been inscribed gold lettering reading, “I am a Portkey. No not use me unless you really really mean it.”
She stared at it for a long time, her expression unreadable. At last she said, very quietly, “Thank you.”
Draco shook his head. “It was all Harry. As soon as I told him what had happened he made this. Didn’t even wait for me to suggest it. He picked out the box too. He said to tell you he hopes you don’t think the box is too twee, he’s not good at knowing what girls like and that he’s sorry but it’s a one way key. Use it in emergencies only because he doesn’t think he’d be able to get you back once you’ve used it.”
Pansy nodded, her breathing slow her face calm. Only the slight tremor of her hands betrayed the emotions she was feeling. “Where will it take me?”
“To what Harry described as the slightly mouldy drawing room of his house. I think he was joking. I hope so anyway.” Pansy half smiled at him then and he put his arm round her shoulders. “Makes it all more real somehow doesn’t it?
“We’ll get through this, Pans, you and me. We always do. We’re Slytherins. Not what those pompous do-gooders on the side of the light think Slytherins are, but real ones. Resourceful, cunning, diplomatic and good at surviving. We can do this.”
Pansy’s hand stroked the soft locks of hair tucked behind her friend’s ear. “I hope so Dray. I really hope so.”
Neither of them broke the silence that followed until the other Slytherin boys descended with the news that the carriages left in one hour.