Voldemort sat in a large armchair, reclining comfortably before a roaring fire, stroking the head of his snake. His lips curled into a chilling smile over his reptilian visage. He had a missive in hand. Goyle had proved to be a useful minion after all. "Lucius Malfoy. What a delicious secret your son has been keeping from us. Indeed, I would say we have some catching up to do."
He lifted his hand from the petting, grasped his wand, and held it in the air. A summoning spell hissed forth from his lipless maw like a dark wind. He turned again to his most beloved pet, curled elegantly beside him, and spoke, letting Parseltongue roll sensually out of his mouth. 'A dinner together, perhaps, and we shall see how his ungrateful spawn may be of use to me.'
Much time passed before Lucius apparated into Voldemort's chamber. He looked flustered and panicked. His face was drained of blood. When Voldemort turned his head to look Lucius in the eye, the frightened man unconsciously cringed. "My Lord." He bowed until he lay prostrate on the floor. "You called upon me. I, your humble servant, answered with all possible speed -"
"- and still you are late." The Dark Lord steepled his fingers and leaned back into his seat, at ease with the fear he was able to inspire. "It has in fact been no less than an hour since I called you here."
"I am deeply, deeply sorry, my Lord. Such an error on my part shall never be repeated. I -"
"Get up, Malfoy!" The words crackled with power and anger. They seemed to cause the room itself cower. Candles flickered out. The roaring fire gasped twice, choked, sputtered, and died. At once, the room was blanketed in darkness. Voldemort stood and a dim, red glow surrounded him - a residual effect of his violent release of wild magic. "Tomorrow I shall pay you a visit. I expect to dine with your family. I want your son to be there."
"But, my Lord, he is attending school."
"Then call him out. I am sure the headmaster can't object too much to a single evening away from studies."
Lucius opened his mouth to voice another complaint, but decided against it, and instead said, "When should we expect you?"
"I shall be arriving at seven o'clock. Sharp. And if I find anything amiss, we shall have words. Is that clear?"
"Yes, my Lord. Of course, my Lord. It will be arranged as you have requested."
A few sniveling apologies later, Lucius disapparated from the room.
After Pansy's shattering revelation, Draco had left the breakfast hall to think without distractions. When that plan failed, he decided to avoid thought, ignoring the world around him, keeping his mind a perfect blank. He spent lunch in one of the herbology gardens, far away from other students. He skipped Quidditch practice.
In the evening, Draco returned to his room to find a note from Harry lodged in the shutter of his window. He burned it without bothering to read it first. He then rummaged through his belongings for a bottle of dreamless sleep potion purchased half a year before, knocked the contents back in a single gulp, crawled onto his bed, and fell out of consciousness.
But of course, he could not avoid reality forever. Very early the next morning, Draco awoke to the sound of an owl tapping at the window with a letter. A Malfoy owl. *My, my, but news does travel fast, doesn't it.* Draco unfolded the parchment to reveal his father's handwriting.
We shall be having a very important guest. I'm sure you know of whom I speak. He has requested an audience with you, and though I have yet to be informed as to why, I suspect he intends to initiate you into the fold. Should this be the case, I am most pleased to see that you have done something worthy of such high esteem.
This letter will turn into a portkey at exactly four o'clock this afternoon. Be at the manor no later than five.
*Oh, fuck,* was the phrase that came to mind.
Draco knew from experience that all the truly important lines in any letter from his father were the ones left unwritten. Draco knew that there were nuances and implications to this message that literal interpretation couldn't begin to extract. Most importantly, Draco knew that his father never meant exactly what he said. Lucius was anything but pleased.
The elder Malfoy probably did believe that Voldemort intended to make Draco a deatheater. It was the best reason he could come up with as to why the Dark Lord was so interested in his son. The problem with this logic was that Draco had done nothing to qualify himself as deatheater material. *So, father, you think I've been hiding something from you. Something that's gained me Voldemort's favor. Well, you're half right.*
Being kept in the dark wasn't the only thing causing Lucius displeasure. The man was worried. He was worried that Draco might do something to anger Voldemort. He was worried that Draco had already done something to anger Voldemort. He was worried about the sudden interest Voldemort had in Draco. Lucius didn't like the idea of the Dark Lord devoting so much attention to his only child.
But Lucius also didn't want to die, and if the Voldemort wanted Draco, Lucius wasn't about to stand in his way. On the contrary - he would feed Draco to Voldemort on a platter if it served his self-interests. He may have held a certain affection for his son, but Lucius Malfoy always knew where his priorities lay.
After a long hour of deliberation, Draco decided to go along with his father's orders. He would be at the manor as requested. He wasn't the sort to run away from his problems. He needed to know how Voldemort planned to use him against Harry. He wouldn't learn anything by hiding away in his dorm room at Hogwarts. Besides - Lucius didn't tolerate dissention from Draco of any sort, and might disown him if he didn't show up. Draco wasn't prepared to give up the Malfoy fortune just yet.
He looked at the clock to see that it was seven. His roommates were just beginning to wake up. Draco resigned himself to another school day of mind-numbing classes. He climbed out of bed, grabbing his tooth brush and heading towards the bathroom for his morning hygiene ritual. He then returned to his room to dress and gather his books.
He was mostly back to his normal self at breakfast. Human contact seemed less of a torture now that the initial devastation of Pansy's little surprise had worn off and he had some idea of where he was headed - for the immediate future, at least. Blaise asked him why he'd run off the previous morning and looked like a ghost throughout the day. Draco merely shrugged. He noticed that Goyle was being his usual self, which meant that the boy's father probably hadn't told him anything. Draco could only hope that this was because Voldemort's plan required that the affair be kept secret. At least then, he didn't have to worry about being ostracized by the rest of the Slytherins.
He didn't look to see if Harry had come to breakfast. *Perhaps if I just ignore him, he'll get the message that it's over. No confrontation at all.* He shook his head at the thought. *Yeah - because my life is always that simple.*
Classes were worse than Draco had anticipated. He could feel Harry's eyes on him throughout the day, filled with worry and questions. He chafed under this scrutiny, though - and he was loath to admit it - a part of him relished the attention. *Oh gods, I am so fucked up...*
He had to skip Quidditch practice again in order to make it to dinner at the manor. He slipped away from his fellow Slytherins after class and headed up to his room. He felt as if he were being followed, but dismissed the notion as paranoia. He entered his room at eleven minutes after four. Not wanting to waste any time, he immediately made his way over to his bedside table and reached for his father's letter.
A rustling noise came from behind Draco. He spun around to see Harry pull back the hood of his invisibility cloak. But Harry was too late. Draco already had the portkey in hand, and could do nothing but watch helplessly as Harry's face melted
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