Malfoy Manor. The building was an aesthetic masterpiece. Walls were decorated in intricate carvings, and dark wood furniture was perpetually polished to a glassy shine. Expensive rugs adorned the deep, rose colored marble of the floors, while high ceilings sloped elegantly overhead. *Home,* Draco thought. Somehow the word didn't sound right.
The portkey brought Draco to the entrance of the dining room. Four place settings had been laid out on the table. Narcissa stood on the far side of the room, a disturbingly pale cast to her skin, an unconscious tremor in her hands. Draco had the sudden urge to run to her, bury his face in her voluminous skirts, and beg her to make it all better. Of course, such an action would be pointless. Draco was no longer four years old, and Narcissa certainly couldn't do anything to improve the situation.
Her head snapped up as she became aware of Draco's presence. "Oh, you're here. I will inform your father." With that, she swiftly exited the room.
A moment later she returned, and his father followed a few steps behind. Lucius managed to keep his usual composure, but any close inspection would reveal dark circles beneath his eyes and a faint quiver to his lower lip. The man looked like hell.
"Draco - you've arrived." The words were curt and angry. Draco suppressed the urge to shudder. His father never sounded angry. Calculating, yes, but never angry. That Voldemort could so upset Lucius' composure was...disturbing.
The family stood in silence. And waited.
Draco knew the instant Voldemort arrived. An oppressive silence settled over the manor. It seemed even inanimate objects held their breath in the Dark Lord's presence. A moment or two passed. Voldemort glided into the dining room.
House elves pulled out chairs and then quietly exited. Voldemort sat at the head of the table. Draco sat opposite him. In normal circumstances, Lucius would have reserved that seat for himself, but this occasion was in Draco's honor. *Don't I feel special.*
Food was served, or rather, it materialized onto everyone's plates. It was an opulent meal. Unsurprisingly, no one in the Malfoy family was particularly hungry. Drinks were served, and amber liquid filled ornate glasses. No one noticed the almost imperceptible flick of the Dark Lord's wrist. Or the way Draco's beverage shimmered unnaturally under the soft yellow light of the chandelier.
The young blonde took a sip. He was momentarily surprised at the flavor. The drink was supposed to be alcoholic, was it not? It didn't taste alcoholic. It tasted sweet and...tart. Like blueberries. It seemed to warm as it hit his tongue. He swallowed the pleasant concoction with relish. A second passed. And another. Suddenly, the true nature of the drink was revealed. It left an abhorrent aftertaste - cloying, acrid, like syrup and bile together. Draco forced himself not to retch.
He surveyed the rest of the table, eyeing his parents carefully as they tasted their own drinks. Their expressions did not change. Draco glanced down at his glass, noticing for the first time how his drink seemed to glow. He looked for the same effect in his parents' glasses, but their beverages appeared perfectly normal.
He realized his own stupidity. Of course Voldemort wouldn't do anything to his parents' drinks. Lucius and Narcissa were of no concern to Voldemort. This dinner wasn't about them. It was about him. Draco tipped his glass to Voldemort in a mocking salute. A smile played on his lips. His eyes smoldered with challenge.
Voldemort opened his mouth to speak for the first time that evening. "Lucius, Narcissa, would you excuse us?"
Lucius raised his eyebrows at this statement, but complied. One might say he made his exit with almost undue haste. Voldemort flicked his wrist again. This time Draco noticed. The movement was followed by a faint static crackle - a sound which signified that the surveillance charms in the room had been turned off. And Draco was utterly alone with the beast. *And I'm not even soiling myself. How's that for courage? Should have been a Gryffindor...*
"What do you want from me?"
"Why...nothing, young Malfoy. I am quite finished with you, for now."
"Was it poison?"
"So many questions."
"So few answers."
Voldemort hissed with anger at Draco's daring. "Silence!" Draco was thrown across the room. He slid limply down the wall, his shoulder dislocated from the impact, his vision blurred from the pain.
"I shall not tolerate such disrespect. Disgusting ingrate. Did you come here hoping to gain the upper hand?"
A doleful glare was Draco's only reply.
"I thought at first that you intended to seduce Potter and hand him over to me. I can see that such is not the case. You view me as your enemy."
Again, the words were met with silence.
"We could have been great allies, Draco. But I am not one to wallow in regret. Even as my enemy I am certain you can be of great benefit to me."
Draco groaned softly in pain.
"You cannot protect him." A cold smile stretched the Dark Lord's reptilian features. "Until we meet again, young Malfoy -"
Voldemort let out a long, dry cackle. Draco felt the intense urge to claw his ears bloody just so as not to hear the maddening laughter. And suddenly, Voldemort was gone. Draco stumbled to his feet and staggered towards the dining room table, collapsing into a chair with what was left of his strength. Lucius strode purposefully into the room. His eyes lit on his son. He walked over to Draco and grabbed his son's arm with a bruising grip, violently yanking up the sleeve.
No Dark Mark. Lucius certainly hadn't expected this. If not to initiate Draco, then why had Voldemort come? "Draco?"
"I don't like it when I don't know what is going on in my own home."
Draco pulled his arm from his father's grip, crying out from the pain of that action. He turned his face to stare his father straight in the eye. He hissed - "This isn't about you, father."
He fumbled in his robes for his wand and muttered a healing spell to realign his shoulder. The bone popped back into place, eliciting another cry of pain. That done, he heaved himself from his chair to meet his father's gaze at eye level. He spoke again: "Do you have another portkey for me? Classes start early tomorrow."
For long moments, Lucius continued to stare into his son's eyes. They revealed nothing. Seeing that further interrogation would be fruitless, Lucius conceded to his son's request. He pulled a portkey in the guise of a galleon out of his pocket. "It is attuned to you, and it will only work once."
"Thank you," Draco whispered, palming the coin and closing his eyes.
When Draco opened his eyes again, he was back in his dorm room at Hogwarts. The clock read 9:18. *I was there longer than I thought,* Draco mused. He looked around the room to find Harry reclining on his bed.
"Where did you go?"
"It's none of your concern, Potter."
Harry flinched at the coldness of Draco's tone. So much for straightforwardness. Harry tried taunting. "Went to a happy little gathering with your father and his Death Eater friends, did you?"
Draco grimaced. "Something like that."
Confusion, and then betrayal flitted over Harry's features. For the second time that night, Draco felt his arm being grabbed and his sleeve being pulled up. Of course, this action revealed nothing but smooth, unmarred, porcelain skin. "What the hell are you playing at Malfoy?"
"I..." Draco stopped, giving careful consideration to his next words. "I think you ought to leave."
Harry growled in frustration. "Draco -"
"Leave Potter. Get the fuck out. You're not wanted here."
Draco took a steadying breath. "Go back to your Gryffindor friends. Don't stare at me across the dining hall. Don't owl me. I tried ignoring you, but since you're obviously too thick to get the message, let me spell it out for you: we're finished. It's been fun Potter, but quite frankly, I'm bored."
A wounded look crossed Harry's face for one brief moment. It was replaced with fury. "I hate you," he whispered, and swept silently towards the door.
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