Author's Notes: This next part is very long. It contains both pathetic!Draco (who I'm coming to really like), gratuitious use of a veritaserum, some Ron-Draco bonding (wait, bonding might be too strong a word), some Draco childhood flashbacks, and a typically brilliant Hermione.

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, settings, or spells. I am only borrowing them to entertain myself and a few others. Don't make me stop this car, do you hear me?


Chapter Nine - Veritas

By Ivy Blossom


Hermione dropped a manila envelope on the coffee table, followed by a file folder covered in gray, inky fingerprints. "Draco," she said, settling herself down into an armchair in front of her archives and picking up her tea cup, "why don't you tell us about your mother."

"My mother?" Draco looked incredulous. He folded his arms across his chest and leaned back against the couch. "Why on earth do you want to know about her, and why should I—"

"Alright," Hermione said sharply, looking tired and frazzled. Her hair was damp from the rain outside, her hands cold and trembling a little. She had hardly slept. She was terrified, angry, and desperate after the events of the last week. She had no patience for Draco Malfoy's pride. "Question and answer then. First: is your mother a Death Eater?"

Draco narrowed his eyes at Hermione. "Is this some kind of repayment for all those mudblood comments? Because I—"

"You're hardly in a position to get haughty with us, Malfoy." Ron shot Draco a dark look across the table, putting a hand on Hermione's shoulder at the use of the term 'mudblood'. "Don't you ever use that word in this flat again, do you understand? If it weren't for Dumbledore and Harry you'd be snogging a Dementor about now. Just get on with it."

Draco said nothing. Ron was, unfortunately, right. The last week and a half had been outrageously awful. That first article in the Daily Prophet had not only condemned Draco, but had also effectively announced the return of Voldemort, which until that point had been left to the realm of private knowing and general rumour. In the weeks previous there had been a series of interviews with former Death Eaters who had noted the burning in their Marks that day, which had certainly raised eyebrows. Pointing a finger at Draco was more tabloid rumour than real accusation, and probably would have blown over, had it not been for the events that followed directly thereafter. There had been four Death Eater attacks, all in the London area, killing twenty-one people. All of them but one had been Muggle-born wizards, caught on their way home to their families, at sporting events, or visiting with friends. The only non-muggle born wizard on the death toll was a thirteen year old Hogwarts student, home visiting her ailing grandmother. She had tried to stop two Death Eaters who had appeared in her grandmother's garden, presumably set to attack her neighbours. All that remained of her was a wand, broken, a torn robe, and a fair amount of blood on the grass.

Somehow classified information was being leaked to the press, without any concrete details. It was generally understood that Voldemort's tricky prison could only be unlocked by a small number of elite and trusted ministry officials, and, as if due to his own evil intentions, also by Death Eater Draco Malfoy. The word 'former' had dropped from his public appellation. Crowds had clamoured for his arrest, which had not come. Dumbledore and Harry had vouched for him in a special tribunal, and along with a search of his possessions, a dose of veritaserum, and several stern inquisitions, the ministry officials had let him go, insisting, however, that he not leave London, and that he make no attempts to prevent ministry monitoring. There had been numerous threats to Draco's life, and two actual attempts on it. His flat had been sacked, his front door ripped from its hinges, his office was torn into pieces. For the last five days he had been staying at Harry and Ron's flat in secret.

Fortunately for Ron, however, Draco hadn't actually been that troublesome, particularly after they had worked a couple of things out. He was morose, angry, and snapped at the slightest thing, of course, but Ron actually understood that. He spent most of his time sitting at Harry's desk next to the kitchen, poring over large books filled with strange writing. Occasionally Ron would hear a pop or a bang, see flashing lights from his direction, and some grumbling cursing. Day by day he looked more frustrated.

One major advantage Ron saw to having Draco stay over was the marked improvement in their meals. The first day Draco had spent alone in the flat Ron had returned home early in the afternoon to find the place smelling of yeast and frying bacon. Pulling off his coat, he saw Draco in the kitchen, wearing a plain green apron, mechanically digging the heels of his flour-covered hands into a large ball of dough. He hadn't heard Ron come in. Ron watched him for a few moments, kneading as if in a kind of trance, his eyes half-closed. Press, tuck, flip, press, tuck, flip, press, tuck, flip.

Ron watched him, and considered what he was about to do. Several nights before, Harry had quietly explained a few things to him. Draco's burden of guilt (well deserved and self-wrought); the process of torture he had endured under Death Eater care; the violence of his father, of Voldemort; Draco's struggles against the Death Eaters; Dumbledore's convictions; Harry's suspicions, and his beliefs about Draco's innocence. It had been humbling, and Ron had felt pangs of pity for that scornful, hateful man. Those pangs resurfaced as he watched Draco pounding meditatively into the dough; he had spent the morning being grilled by the ministry after an over-large dose of Veritaserum, and Ron knew it. He knew that Draco was weakened, that he was defenseless. He walked stern-faced into the kitchen.

"Baking? How domestic of you."

Draco saw him suddenly, surprised. He blinked, narrowed his eyes, the sad, peaceful look disappearing from his face. "Leave me alone, Weasley."

"No. I know the ministry let you go, but I have questions too." Draco glared at him. His arms trembled a little, his hands balling into floury fists. His face went red with anger and embarrassment. He knew he was helpless; he had nowhere to go, and he couldn't help but answer Ron's questions. He was not shocked. He figured someone would try this; hell, I wouldn't even waste time explaining myself if I were him. Harry was too good, too noble to try a stunt like this, but Ron? He was so devoted to Harry, like a good little pet dog, that he would even resort to cruelty to try and protect him.

"I see. You want to rape my brain, do you? Force me to divulge information against my will? Well. How devious. How cruel of you. Perhaps you should have been sorted into Slytherin. Enjoy yourself. Realize you're not the first to do this, and that this will give you something nicely in common with Voldemort."

Ron cringed. "I'm not trying to hurt you, Malfoy. I have to know or I won't sleep at night with you here. I care about Harry and I have to do what I can to help protect him. I'm sure you'll understand that. So you didn't have anything to do with Voldemort escaping?"

"No. Gods, do you think the Ministry didn't already ask that? What kind of an idiot are you? Too many Weasleys, you got short-changed on brains."

"Do you know who stole the charm? Do you know where Voldemort is now?"

"No, and no. Wow, what brilliantly original questions. Good to know what your peace of mind is worth."

Ron accepted that this process was going to involve a lot of insults and sarcasm. He was prepared for that, and, in fact, realized that he deserved it. "Do you love Harry?" he asked.

"Yes. You goddamn pig-faced bastard, how dare you." Draco trembled with anger. Ron was aware that Draco had also been given a series of potions to ensure that he would not erupt into violence. It was considered more humane than binding him, but Ron wondered now if it actually was. He realized this was terribly unethical, but for Harry's sake, he needed to ask.

"Does Harry know?"

"How the hell should I know what Potter knows?" He spat out. He turned around and started kneading again. The kitchen counter rumbled under his pounding.

"Did you tell him?"

"No." The pounding got louder.

"Why not?"

"Fuck you, Weasley. This is none of your goddamn business. Because I don't want to see his face when he has to tell me he doesn't love me. God, I'm going to flay you when this shit wears off. I'm going to beat into you so hard your mother won't recognize you."

Ron blinked. "Malfoy. Are you blind? Are you utterly blind?"

"I see just fine, Weasley. Twenty-twenty, in fact."

"No, you don't. You really think Harry doesn't love you?"

"Yes. You flea-ridden piece of trash."

Ron shook his head slowly in utter amazement. "Are you actually that insecure?"

Draco looked briefly over his shoulder and shot him a murderous look. "Yes." He buried his fingers into the dough in front of him.

"My God, Malfoy. Pay attention once in a while. Look at what Harry has done for you. You were a complete asshole to all of us for years. YEARS. I can't even count how many ways you hurt him, and me, and Hermione. Especially Hermione. Then you give him this hint that maybe, maybe there's more to you…and he accepts it. He gives you another chance. And you blow it. And still he doesn't give up on you. He waited a whole year for you. Do you know how disappointed he was when you didn't turn up? ("No.") You betrayed him to Voldemort and he's forgiven you. Do you have any idea how many feet of letters he wrote to you that he couldn't send? ("No.") I had to edit the papers for him for months so he wouldn't have to see all those pictures of you and fall into a blue funk. And he still went back to you, after that. Do you know how lucky you are? ("Yes.") . That he bothered to read your confession? ("Yes.") That he was willing to see you again at all? ("Yes.") Do you understand the chances his taking being anywhere near you? ("Yes.") You think he does this because it's a lark?" ("No.") Ron was shocked, angry, and confused. This was not the way he expected this conversation to go. He could hear Draco mechanically answering his rhetorical questions, but ignored him.

"And now, when it looks like you're guilty as sin, Harry is putting his reputation on the line, his LIFE on the line, he's opening OUR home to you, he's giving you yet ANOTHER chance, which you will probably muck up, and you think he doesn't love you? ("Yes.") Are you an IDIOT? ("NO.") Do you have any idea who Harry is at ALL?"

Draco mumbled something incoherent, and then he noted loudly, "I'd really rather not be talking about my personal life, Weasley, particularly not with someone who is so impossibly bad at having one himself."

"Do you intend to hurt him?"

"No." Pound, tuck, flip, pound, tuck, flip. He kneaded, back to Ron, shaking with anger and with fear, with anticipation and with disgust.

Ron sighed. He was frankly shocked. So. Harry does have some idea what he's doing. Draco loves Harry. Draco, apparently, was under the impression that he wasn't the one holding all the cards, where as far as Ron was concerned it was Harry who was being left vulnerable. Unbelievable. Ron had thought he understood this: Draco had used Harry. He had brutalized Harry at Hogwarts, and then, at the last moment, got him to imagine that Draco could be all sensitive and good, and it was all part of the plan. He would find Harry's weak spot; his willingness to forgive. And as soon as Harry forgave him, gave him a shot, trusted him at all, he betrayed him. Ron had pictured Draco with Harry ground comfortably under his heel, prepared to jump if he said so, scared to be hurt again. That's what Draco was all about. But it's not Harry who's scared. It's Draco. Well, he should have known, really. He should have known by the way Draco treated Harry. He does treat him well, after all. He practically dotes on him. I should have guessed. "Have you taken out many other lads, then?" Aw, hell. He thought. Harry doesn't have a mother or a father, someone has to ask.

Draco turned and eyed him darkly. "No. Shit, Weasley, what the hell kind of gossip-mongering question is that?"

"Okay, any other lads other than Harry?"

"No." Draco shook his head, and turned back to his dough. Pound, flip, tuck. Pound, flip, tuck. He tried to pretend this wasn't actually happening.

"Ladies, then?"

"No." Pound, flip, tuck.

"Hmm. I would have thought….well, slept with lads other than Harry? Any girls?"

"Godammit, Weasley. Yes, and yes. Fuck you."

Well, now Ron found himself just plain curious. "How old were you, the first time you, you know, had sex with a man?"

There was a painful pause. "I was eight." Draco growled, his hands squeezing the dough.

Ron's mouth dropped open. "Oh. Oh my god. I'm. Um, I'm sorry. Shit, Malfoy." Ron sat down heavily. "There are some fucking monsters in this world."

"This is not news to me."

"Shit. Malfoy, I mean, did you tell anyone at Hogwarts, or something? ("No.") Damn. I mean, if I had known…I mean, shit, that explains a hell of a lot."

Draco shook his head and laughed coldly. "It explains nothing, Weasley." Ron sat silent for a while. That smug little kid, smart mouth, always thinking he was better than everyone else, raped before Ron had ever laid eyes on him. No wonder he was so hateful. No wonder he was such a prick. No wonder he was so insecure. So, Harry was on to something. There was more to this fellow than you'd think.

"Do you think…I mean, do you think you'd aim for something…long term…with Harry? Lifelong, like?"

"Yes." He stopped pounding, his head bowed down toward the dough, fingers clenched around the edges of the counter. "Weasley. Please. Enough." His voice was sharp, but Ron realized he had pushed too far already. He was the torturer in this scenario; raw truth like this was beyond Draco's normal abilities. He might as well have stretched Draco out on a rack and prodded him with a white hot poker. He had admitted far more than he ever wanted to from the beginning. He sighed. This was all so complicated. He rose, opened the fridge, and pulled out two bottles of muggle beer. He twisted off the caps and dropped one in front of Draco. "You probably need that. It's good stuff, Wellington Porter, local brew, strong." Draco eyed him disdainfully, and reached for the bottle.

"Look," Ron said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be hurtful. I didn't mean to stir anything up, either. It's just…I'm sure you can understand. Harry's been through an awful lot lately, and I don't want to see him get hurt again. I'm sure, if the circumstances were reversed, You'd do the same?"

"Yes." He took a long pull from the bottle, drowning out his answer to the question.

"Right. Okay, so." Ron stumbled. Draco still had his back turned. It was barely mid-afternoon. He looked down at his hands and saw that his ball of dough was more than ready. He pulled out a large, stainless steel bowl, oiled the bottom, and dropped the dough into it, covering it with a damp towel. He put it in a spot of sunlight in the kitchen window and took a knife out of a drawer. Ron felt nervous, and moved to grab his wand. Draco didn't look at him. He took an onion from the counter and began dicing it while drinking liberally from the bottle.

Ron sighed. Had he done the right thing? Did he feel more likely to trust Draco? And what precisely had he been testing, Draco, or Harry's judgment? He wasn't sure. But he was surprised. Draco was not out to destroy Harry, at least, not at the moment, and not consciously. He was so easily destroyed himself. Oh, he was dangerous, yes. But in a way Ron couldn't quite put his finger on. He watched Draco pull a bowl of diced, cooked bacon out of the fridge, and drop the onion into it. He added salt and pepper, and stirred it together, covered the bowl, putting it back into the fridge. He drained the bottle. Ron reached for a second, uncapped it, and handed it to Draco, who nodded. He noted that he was close to needing a second himself, and grabbed one. He had been cruel. He had ripped Draco open and picked through his innards. He felt slightly ill.

When he turned around again, freshly-open bottle in his hand, Draco was leaning against the counter, apron now off, arms crossed over his chest, looking slyly at him. "Pay back time," he said. The corners of his lips curled up evilly.

Ron cringed. "What do you want to know?"

Draco rubbed his chin. "Well, let's see. This will be fun. Where to start? Oh, I know. Are you in love with Granger?" He knew he was the one who couldn't lie because of magical means, but Ron's guilt over what he had just done would serve the same purpose.

Ron twisted his lips. Ah. That kind of payback. "Yeah, I guess so."

"She's got no idea, has she."

"You're one to talk."

"Hey. At least I'm getting some ac—"


Draco snickered. "Well then. So how old were you when you finally found a nice girl to take your virginity off your hands, Weasley?"

Ron blushed. "Well, ah, ehm…"

"Ah. Well, isn't that unexpected. Haven't found one yet? Saving yourself for Granger? Here I thought you had hooked up with that little Hufflepuff girl I saw you chatting up. Aha. Well, that's that Weasley charm for you."

Ron scowled.

"Defintely girls for you, then?"

"As far as I can tell. Why, are you interested?" Ron asked sarcastically, raising an eyebrow. Draco laughed, nearly choking on his beer. "Alright, alright it's not THAT funny. I guess you really are that serious about Harry, aren't you."

"Yes. Fuck off, Weasley, no more questions. It's my turn."

"Right, sorry. That one was rhetorical."

Draco smirked. "Well. So tell me the gossip, then, since I have my bit of blackmail information. Did Harry…date other lads? Girls?"

"Don't tell me you haven't had this conversation already."

"Just answer the question, Weasley."

"Well, yeah, sure he did. Not at first, mind you. We didn't find out about the whole lad business until after…well. There was one fellow, Devon, he was…interesting. It took a bit of getting used to. But that didn't last very long at all. I think he was just a fan, really, wanted to swing with 'The Boy who Lived' and all that." He took a swig from his bottle. "Then there was Michael. That lasted longer, he was a good guy. A muggle, you know. I think it was all too much for him in the end, he didn't understand. Well, then he started with the women. Harry's got crap taste, if you ask me. No offense. The first one, what was her name, Lydia. She was boring. Shy and boring. Ugh! Then there was Susan, I guess he broke up with her when he hooked up with you again. Can't say I was sorry to see her go, she was a smarm." Ron tipped what remained in his bottle into his mouth. "And then there's you. Don't know what the hell to make of you."

When Harry arrived home several hours later, the first thing he heard was Ron laughing. He turned and looked into the kitchen, and was shocked at the sight. Ron sat at the dining room table. His hair was entirely white with flour, he had a black eye, and he was grinning like a mad man. There was a broken bowl on the floor. Draco was stirring something in a stock pot on the stove. Harry noted that there were clearly more than a dozen empty muggle beer bottles lined up on the kitchen counter.

"Ron?" Harry asked, puzzled.

"Harry! Welcome home!" He jumped up and hugged him stupidly. "Sit, sit! These are really good, try." He pointed to a plate filled with small, shiny, browned buns. "There's stuff in them. They're really good. You should try them. I've already had three. Malfoy can cook, did you know?" Harry brushed flour off his shoulders, looking at Ron, and then at Draco, and then back at Ron.

Ron took a swig from the bottle in his hand. "We made dinner!" He sounded profoundly surprised, as if he were announcing that he had grown a third arm, or that he had just discovered a colony of house elves in the living room. He brushed a bit of flour off his eyebrows.

"We did not make dinner, Weasley. I made dinner. You watched me make dinner." Draco turned from the stove and grinned at Harry with slightly unfocused eyes. "I know, Potter. You don't have to say it. We're drunk."

"So I see." He raised an eyebrow at him, and smiled, turning to his flour-coated flatmate. "Ron, what happened to your eye?" He decided to not ask about the flour just yet.

"Oh. Well, Malfoy and I had a little altercation. It's alright now. We made a deal." Harry grimaced. He figured he probably didn't want to know.

Later that week, Hermione had owled. She had some questions, she thought she might be on to something. She needed to speak to Draco. She didn't move about after dark without an escort, so Ron went to accompany her; the current Death Eater target being wizards born of muggle parents, Hermione took no chances. It was pouring rain that evening, and when they arrived, wands still drawn and at the ready, Hermione threw the dampened file folder and marked manila envelope on the coffee table.

Draco sighed. Why on earth was Granger asking about his mother? She was a gentle creature, not interested in politics, power, war, violence. She liked good food, fine jewelry, beautiful, expensive, valuable things. She doted on him, pinched his cheeks, sang him little songs, daydreamed about grandchildren, brushed his hair for him, but managed somehow to blissfully ignore the violence that pervaded his life. When he was eight, and stumbled into his bed at midnight, the smell of woodsmoke and nightshade and pine sap on his torn robes, gashes across his face, blood dripping thickly down his thighs, bawling out of his gut, certain he would die, certain the universe had collapsed, certain he was about to fall into oblivion and never return, his mother had tucked him into bed, blood-stained face, sticky robes and all. She kissed his forehead, told him that tomorrow would be a lovely day, and that he should sleep well, sang a little lullaby and closed the door behind her. She ignored his cries, the streaks of blood on the coverlet, his screaming after her. "No, my mother isn't a Death Eater. She didn't like the look of the Mark. No one ever really commented on it. It was really more of my father's thing. My mother isn't…a political creature, you see. Not terribly interested in…ah…things of consequence, shall we say."

Hermione nodded. "That's what they said in the papers three years ago, you know. That she was an innocent pawn, that she had nothing to do with your father's political ambitions. That she wasn't really...well, that she wasn't bright enough to understand what was going on." Draco rubbed his temple, and nodded. "Yes. Well, I did a little research on that topic. Your mother is not some kind of beautiful idiot. I found her academic records. She was at the top of her class, you know." Hermione pulled out some parchments, and passed them to Draco. "She wrote a particularly stellar paper on sixteenth century witchtrials in France, in fact."

Ron harumphed. "Perhaps she's mad." Draco glared at him.

"Hmm. Well, I never thought she was stupid, you know. Just…disinterested in…well, most things. I never saw her participate in anything. But she must have seen…I saw everything, I just couldn't…ignore it the way she did." Draco shrugged. "What is this all about?"

"What was she doing in North Africa?" Hermione picked up the file folder, and pulled out a magazine article. She turned to a page full of pictures, and handed it to Draco. "Don't be startled. It's a muggle magazine, the pictures don't move." Draco looked at the images, puzzled. The heading read, "An Englishwoman in Morocco: a photo interview." In it, Narcissa, beautiful, her long, blonde hair draped over her shoulders, was pictured reading letters, looking out the window sitting at an ornately carved table, standing with a suitcase on the threshold of an elegant Moroccan flat, it's rough terra cotta walls in stark contrast with her pale skin, her long, nearly-white hair. "These pictures were taken in September of last year. Do you see the knife, there, in the foreground of this picture, and here, sitting on the table?"

Draco squinted at the picture. "It hardly looks like a knife at all. It's wrapped in something. Wait…I recognize that print…that's goblin. Argh, if she would move a bit to the right I could get a better look."

"There's more. Look at this." Hermione pulled out a series of photographs. "These were taken about fifteen years ago, for an article about the homes of rich and famous wizards. These are two pictures of—"

"My mother's sitting room. Yes. Ah…" Draco pointed. "The knife. There, on the wall. Yes, I remember it now." He picked up the muggle magazine page again, looking at the knife in both pictures. "I reckon that's it." He looked closely at it.

Hermione sighed. "I thought that looked like goblin script. You read goblin, don't you. Can you make it out?" Draco squinted.

"Just barely. Belong, belong, dozens of times. Then it says, 'Your qualities belong in me.' Or 'what's in you belongs in me.' Something of that nature. And then long strings of 'belong, belong, belong. And that phrase repeated again. I can't tell if there's more…" Draco looked thoughtful. "Hold on, I know what this is." He rose, and hurried over to Harry's desk. He scanned a stack of books, pulled out one from the middle, and flipped through it quickly, running a finger down a large chunk of text. "Ah!" He said after a moment. "Yes, as I thought. This is a form of charm. A specially prepared scroll, they're monumentally expensive and very difficult to produce. Not even made in Europe anymore, which explains the north African connection." He turned toward the others again, leaning against the desk, running a knuckle thoughtfully over his lip. "These scrolls are generally wrapped around objects for several months, in order to…well, let me explain. All objects have a series of ranked characteristics in goblin magic; certain of these can be tagged, so that they can be…transferred, or copied. Let's say…if were to wrap Harry's invisibility cloak with one of these scrolls, I could tag the quality of invisibility, and use this scroll to copy that quality to another cloak, to a house, to my shoes, anything. It takes months, though, to actually tag properly and perform the transformation." He turned and returned the book to its place.

"Could it transfer qualities to a person, rather than to an object?" Hermione asked. Draco returned to the couch and sat next to Harry, Ron sat directly across from him, giving him a vaguely approving look, which Draco resolutely ignored.

He chewed his lip. "Well. Yes, in principle. It would be rather dangerous. It's…not the most stable process, really. Tagging qualities is notoriously difficult and often faulty. Even when the procedure is done properly, to the letter, occasionally the wrong quality will be tagged, and then you'll end up transferring a colour, a texture, or some magical quality other than the one you're aiming for. And the scroll can only be used once, there's no room for error. Who knows what you'd end up transferring." Hermione put her face over her mouth, her eyes widened.

"Do you know what that knife does?" Harry asked, looking at the pictures. The knife was silver, long and thin, with an intricate handle covered with elegant scrollwork. Harry found it beautiful, fluid, ancient-looking. An artifact from some age long-past.

Draco shook his head. "No. I don't think I've ever seen it come off the wall."

"I think I know." Hermione sighed. "I'm not certain, but…this is dreadful. Draco, the charm Harry used to trap Voldemort, you said it…it requires blood, is that right?"

Draco nodded, and shrugged. "Well, it requires blood in the same way that a retinal scan requires a retina. Blood is the means by which it identifies the owners of the key."

Hermione hesitated, and then said quietly, "I'm sorry to ask, but…were you…cut…as a child? Did you ever bleed a great deal?" Draco said nothing. Harry paled.

Hermione looked down at her feet. "I'm sorry to bring it up like this, Draco. I really am. But I found some information on knives that match that description. I might be wrong, but I believe it’s a sanguitoratus, a blood collector. Extremely rare. It's a knife that causes no wounds, but absorbs the blood of wounds caused by other means. Normally sanguitoratum have sister knives, and they can only absorb blood from a wound made by the sister knife."

Draco looked straight ahead, at a spot beyond the wall in front of him. Ron, sat with his elbows on his knees, reading one of the old newspaper clippings spread across the coffee table, keeping his eyes down. Hermione knew she had struck a chord. Harry looked nervous and Draco seemed absent, lost in some distant memory. She watched him carefully. Harry shuffled closer to him, his arm resting discreetly across Draco's back, his hand pressed into the couch beside Draco's hip. She watched them communicate for a moment, without looking at each other. Harry's hand caught one of Draco's, sitting idly on his thighs. Hermione watched him trace his finger tips along Draco's fingers, the palm of his hand, his wrist, back to his fingers. It was such a quiet, delicate intimacy. After a moment, Draco squeezed Harry's hand, and leaned toward him almost inperceptibly.

"Yes." He said, rather woodenly. "I was cut with one particular knife. Would it look similar? I know that it was also silver, other than that I don't know, I didn't really…look at it."

Hermione reached down into her bag, and pulled out a small vial. It was filled with a clear liquid. "Here." She said, passing it to Draco. He took it hesitatingly. "This will reveal marks created with a knife like that, with a knife with a sanguitoratus, where blood was taken from you. But…" Hermione sighed. "It still doesn't entirely make sense. In order for this to work, a lot of blood would be required, correct? The bloodprint, for the charm, requires…well, a complete transfusion, doesn't it, if…if someone managed to transfer the blood from the sanguitoratus to themselves." Draco nodded grimly.

"I suspect this will clarify that point for you, Granger. I'm afraid it makes perfect sense." He uncorked the bottle. "Do I just knock it back?"

"Yes. It will only last a few minutes." Ron and Hermione both sat straight up, eyes fixed on Draco. He looked over at Harry, then at Hermione, tilted back his head and swallowed the clear fluid. They all watched him recork the bottle, and place it on the coffee table in front of him. After a moment, his muscles seized and he winced.

"It's not supposed to hurt, are you alright?" Hermione sounded concerned. Draco smiled rather coldly. He stood, and pulled off his shirt.

Draco was glowing. His arms, chest, stomach, his neck, were covered with thin lines of light. Some were thin and long, ancient scars from his infancy, faded to nothing along the edges; some were ragged and thick, the mark of a heavy hand, glowing hotly. Some were sharp and angular, some traced figure eights, letters, scroll-like patterns across his stomach. There were several that looked like flowers, drooping in the heat of the sun. He turned, and they saw more of them, criss-crossing, waving lines, cursive letters, grid patterns written in brilliant silver ink over the crest of his shoulder blades, inching across the nape of his neck, trailing down his spine, fanning out along his hipbones, and disappearing into the thankful darkness of his trousers. There were hundreds of them.

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