Tangible Schizophrenia


The Black Road XI: Blood Money

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R. Sex and violence. Character death.
Pairing: Harry/Lucius, Sirius/Severus
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: These characters are J. K. Rowling’s, not mine.
Notes: AU. Does refer to all the books up to HP:HBP, and does not draw on the movies except for visuals (because the only one I ever saw was the first).
Summary: Draco gets things done and gets things done to him for it. Harry catches up.


“Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib’d
In one self place; for where we are is Hell,
And where Hell is, there must we ever be.”
--Mephistopheles, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

* * *

Heavy-bellied storm-clouds hung so low over the sky that it seemed as if they were menacing the earth, ready to drop and crush at any moment. It would’ve been more suitable weather for Ginny’s funeral than the insistent sun that had actually occurred on that day, but Draco supposed that was a sign of the Weasley family’s continuing inability to do things properly. It certainly was a sign that whatever Harry had done to Draco’s home and father, Voldemort was still around.

A bit of ash drifted onto the back of the hand he was resting on the sill. He cursed and shook it off, then turned away from the window. Since none of the Weasleys currently could stand the sight of him, he’d been moved along with Granger to the resistance’s excuse for a research center, which was housed in a small, abandoned Muggle office building. The first floor had had many well-padded, fully reclineable chairs with what looked like restraining straps on the arms and upon seeing them, Draco had asked Granger whether they’d been sent to a Mudblood’s idea of a torture chamber. She’d gone red, then white and glassy-eyed, and had coldly informed him that that used to be a dentist’s office. He hadn’t seen her since.

It was her parents’ old workplace, Lupin later told Draco, so that explained that. Well, Draco wasn’t entirely sad about the whole incident; as long as Granger kept herself occupied with the books on the third floor, that left Draco free to poke about the books on the second floor. He was supposed to be helping to research what Harry was, but instead he was spending his time looking up the golden cup Ginny had been clutching when she’d died.

He looked around himself, but as usual, he was the only one on the entire floor. Draco pulled up a chair, sat in it, and then dug the goblet—right now small enough to pass as a watch-charm—out of his pocket. He set it on the sill, then pointed his wand at it. “Finite.”

The goblet instantly resized itself. He’d cleaned it up a bit so the crest on its side could be clearly seen; that detail had made it easy to identify the goblet as being a relic of Helga Hufflepuff. All the books mentioning it assigned to it various magical powers, so though Draco still couldn’t get much of a feel for anything except that the cup was not Muggle-made, he had to assume that it could do something. It certainly could serve in any number of spells, both Dark and Light, but that didn’t really answer the question of why Harry wanted it.

Or why Voldemort, from whom it’d obviously been stolen, had had it in the first place. He should be far too powerful for something like the goblet to matter to him.

Draco tipped back the chair and stabbed out his cigarette in the ashtray on his desk. He let the chair fall back onto all four legs and shook out a new one. The white cardboard of the pack still had bloodstains on it, and if he didn’t light up quickly enough, he sometimes got a whiff of the lily-based perfume Ginny had used. He didn’t this time and had to blow vigorously out through his nose to rid himself of the smell.

It could be symbolic of his victory over Hogwarts…but then, having the school destroyed already served that purpose pretty well. Anyway, that explanation would mean Harry would want it only for embarrassing Voldemort, and Harry seemed to prefer doing that via killing senior Death-Eaters.


Granger. In the same motion, Draco re-shrank the goblet, swept it into his pocket and turned around. Only moments later, Granger barged into the room with a book that was thicker than she was—though that wasn’t difficult nowadays. She dropped it unceremoniously on top of his desk and flipped through the pages, then flattened them.

“Look,” she said.

He looked. The left-hand page was entirely taken up by a detailed woodcut, which showed the typical Muggle’s idea of a wizard—weird hat, unfashionable robes, wrinkled old man inhabiting them—standing next to a magical circle. Within the circle was a strange-looking figure, which was best likened to a Dementor holding a scythe. The right-hand page was in some sort of abbreviated Latin, so he couldn’t read it right away. “Political cartoon? Starting up your activism again, Granger? I didn’t realize we’d gotten house-elves in here.”

She compressed her lips. Then she expressionlessly slapped him. Before he’d even finished rocking back in his seat, she was hunched over the right-hand page so her hair completely covered it. Her left hand moved over the left-hand page as if it had a will of its own. “This is a ritual for binding Death. It doesn’t work, obviously, because there’s no such thing as Death. And shut up, Malfoy—there is the act of dying, and the state of death, and death-collectors that come when you die, but there’s no single entity that makes up Death. That’s what I mean. But this book is important because it does lay down circumstances in which you can stall the collector of your death.”

Draco was at first inclined to dig through her masses of frizzy hair till he found her neck so he could snap it, but as she talked, he got himself under control and paid attention. He didn’t do so because of what she had to say, but because in the engraving, objects were set at regular intervals around the magic circle and one of those objects happened to be a familiar-looking goblet.

It wasn’t the same, he decided after a closer look, but it was like enough so that the Hufflepuff cup could be substituted in its place.

“…break the contract,” Granger said.

“I’d say it’s been broken for a while, given how Harry’s been going after Voldemort,” Draco drawled. He sucked on his cigarette, letting the smoke trickle out of his nostrils in its own good time so it floated between him and her. It made her eyes a little less frighteningly bright. “Yes, I was listening. But your theory’s no good: it doesn’t explain how Harry ended up a death in the first place, and anyway, it only works if Voldemort made some deal with Harry after my father killed him. And I don’t know, but Potter never struck me as the kind that went for compromises before that happened. After? Well, now.”

Granger sat there and stared through the smoke-clouds with eyes like fresh-lit cinders. Then she abruptly swung at him again. He’d been expecting it this time and ducked, but she didn’t even seem to notice. She used her momentum to get out of her chair and turn around, and by the time he’d righted himself, she’d disappeared up the stairs.

Draco flicked ash into the corner and glanced at the page again. One phrase caught his eye and he leaned forward, frowning. Her theory was bad, but some of what Granger had been saying did fit. Ginny wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble if Potter didn’t really need the goblet, and Voldemort wanted to live forever—that, Draco well knew. So according to this text, the objects used could serve as repellants or as attractants of a death…

He pushed the cigarette between his lips and got up, then slid his arms under the book so it’d stay open. Then he walked up the stairwell and shouldered open the door to the next floor.

It was nothing but bookshelves. Bookshelves, cobbled together out of old planks and scraps of metal and in some places, a makeshift net of shoelaces, yarn, anything. The books were crammed together on them tightly but carelessly so they jutted out unevenly; Draco had no idea how anyone managed to get through the aisles because those essentially didn’t exist. And they weren’t well-cared for: some of the ones nearest him had pages half-out, and those pages had fresh water-spots and even some mold on them. Damp rot was rank in the place.

“Granger?” Draco called. He backed up to stop the door behind him from completely closing with his foot. Then he decided the book was thick enough and heavy enough, and stuck a handkerchief between the pages before he set it down as a door-stop. “Granger?”

At first he didn’t hear anything, but after casting an amplification spell, he detected a faint murmuring at the far end of the room. After two minutes’ waiting saw it come no near, Draco sighed and stubbed out his cigarette on the doorframe. He pitched the butt into the stairwell, pulled out his wand, and began shoving and squeezing his way through the widest aisle.

Some of the books here were magical, but they apparently were too depressed by their ruined circumstances and put up no fight, only grumbling and hissing when he passed them. Still, the sound of their whining was so loud it almost covered the sound of Granger’s voice.

He found her halfway up one of the bookcases, spread-eagled against the tomes like some gigantic spider. Her hands roamed ceaselessly over the spines, pressing on them not as if she cherished them but as if she possessed them, as if she lived on them like a flea did living things. Her cheek stayed jammed up against the same book; her face was towards him so he could see the half-lidded eyes, the lips constantly murmuring low weird nonsense. After everything that had happened, it managed to make Draco feel a little ill. “Granger. Listen. Did you find anything on destroying those—those—”

Memento mori,” Granger finally said. She lifted her head and opened her eyes so she looked a little more in the present. Her right hand skittered fearfully high and plucked a huge volume from the shelves as if it were an empty sac. “And I always thought the idea came from the Victorians. But never mind. That’s Muggle things. Yes, I did, but why should I tell you? You showed up with Ginny.”

“I didn’t kill her—fuck, I offered to get her out of there. Get it through your crazy mind, Granger: some people don’t want to be helped.” On second thought, Draco was better off working on his own. He turned to go.

The book dropped at his feet so it was touching his toes. If he’d gone any further, it would’ve—well, at least given him a terrible headache.

A thump behind him signaled Granger. She looked a little calmer, but in the way a wounded, plotting animal did. “What didn’t you say about Ginny, Draco?”

He looked at her with her mad, grieving, still-thinking eyes in her bony starving face, and for a moment he had to admit this might not be the best idea. Then he remembered nothing about his life now was a good idea, and relaxed. He took out the goblet and restored it to normal size, then held it up so Granger could see. “She was holding this—one of those memento mori things. It’s what she died to get—she told me to destroy it. For Harry.”

Granger’s eyes flicked back and forth between it and Draco. He could see the gears in her brain turning, turning, turning, and coming up with nothing too suspicious. “Why? And why didn’t you mention this before?”

“Well, have you lot given me a chance? I seem to remember spending most of my time before we came here hexing her brothers so they’d leave my neck intact, and the only times you’ve been down since then is to babble about your guesses about Harry,” Draco snapped. “As for why—I don’t know. She died before she told me.”

He turned around and stepped over the book.

“Wait.” When he turned back, Granger was stooping to retrieve the volume she’d thrown. She flipped it open without look, then tilted it towards him. “It’s here. I’ll have to help.”

“Of course,” Draco muttered. Though he actually was quite pleased.

The goblet might send Harry back to wherever he’d come from, in which case they’d still have Voldemort, but at least Voldemort was a known threat. It might help Harry, in which case they’d at least be down one. Or it might annoy both of them, which served them right. In any case, Draco didn’t care to let either of them have the damned thing, and he didn’t care to keep it himself. If no one was satisfied, then he could rest content with that.

* * *

Sometime in the middle of the night, Severus woke up to the feeling of warmth and comfort. He stiffened and it developed, inevitably, flaws—bony fingers digging into the flesh of his side, knees gouging the backs of his thighs, heavy hot breath on his nape. When he twisted, Sirius merely took advantage of the movement to curl tighter against him.

“It’s getting clearer,” Black muttered. He moved his head so the icy tip of his nose touched Severus’ neck, then crisscrossed it in weaving motions. “I knew it all back there, but since I got here, everything’s—so—fragmented—”

“You were to be confined to your room. Voldemort does keep an eye on this place, though he’s been distracted lately.” Severus unmercifully jammed his arm back till he heard the other man grunt, then jerked himself free. He turned over and in return, got an armful of gaunt, feverish frenzy.

It was dark in the room, the way Severus preferred it, and so Black seemed nothing but scrabbling sharp fingertips that pawed and shredded and ripped at Severus’ clothing, then tried to do the same to the skin they bared, and gnashing, chewing, sucking hot mouth. He inelegantly mauled his way up Severus’ front while Severus was still attempting to get rid of him, then came out with that accursed black-humored laugh of his just before he mashed their mouths together.

Fine. Fine. This pathetic, snapping shadow of a foolish bastard who should’ve been drowned at birth had been taunting Severus for days, pretending he knew what Severus wanted to do with him. And he was correct in that Severus wanted Black to depend on him, so Potter couldn’t kill him without hurting his godfather, but oh, was he ever wrong about everything else.

Severus threw him over onto his back. Black was wearing a long-sleeved shirt that, due to his emaciated state, hung well below his waist; his prick and balls bobbed in and out of view as the shirt-tails shifted. He was snarling even as his knees were clamping around Severus, and his teeth sank into Severus’ lower lip to the blood as Severus’ hands forced apart his thighs.

“Why—why you--” Sirius was half-railing at, half-pleading with Severus. He arched as Severus’ fingers stroked his prick, squeezed his balls, and the light from the single candle in the room glazed his face so that some of his former handsomeness came out. Then he twisted his head, hands splayed beneath the edges of Severus’ collar and digging into the skin, and the illusion twisted till it broke. “Why do I remember around you?”

“Because you hate me, you fool, and that lasts longest.” It was like trying to take apart molten shards of glass: Severus ran his hands up under Black’s shirt to sliver his palms on the protruding ribs, on the muscles strung tight as cutting wire, and he tasted blood even as the man beneath him melted.

Not into something soft and yielding, no, but into something that branded him from jawbone to ear with scraping teeth, that scalded him with a mockery of a laugh. “Right, right,” Sirius gasped, dragging at Severus’ back. He somehow found Severus’ nipple through all the fabric whipped up between them and bit down on it till Severus rammed two fingers into his arse. “I remember. I remember I wanted to break your fucking neck, and suck out the marrow from the bones. Remember—remember—”

He ceased babbling when Severus removed the fingers and shoved in his prick instead. Brittle as Sirius seemed elsewhere, there he didn’t yield—his flesh didn’t rip and tear, but instead stretched and clutched so that they rasped against each other, flaying off skin and ripping at nerves and muscle. It only worsened Severus’ already-snapped temper, for the son of the bitch couldn’t even give him this satisfaction, this pain, and he went at Black more savagely.

And Black rose to meet it like an unholy thing, sucking and clutching and clinging till Severus almost thought he was the one being consumed. He fought back every way he knew how, but the grip had him and took him to the edge, then—so close—over—

--not quite. He fell forward onto his elbows, feeling as if he’d just pulled the tides of the ocean back before their time. For a while, only their ragged breathing was audible.

“I want to climb inside your skin,” Black suddenly said. He hardened the lover’s comment with a jeering snort. “Rip it off your back and see what it’s like being Severus Snape, the man that’s always got the plot.”

Severus blinked. He was glad of the dark then. “You are and always were an idiot, Black.”

“A dead one, no less. But then, what do you call the bastard that fucks him?” Sirius moved beneath Severus, in a way that could’ve been an invitation to more or an attempt to get free. Then he twisted onto his side, pulling himself up, and it was clearly over with. He only moved far enough for Severus to attend to the bedsheets.

“You’re a cracked jar with nothing in it, and your thoughts are likewise,” Severus muttered. He began to reach for his wand, then tiredly flopped back onto the mattress. If Black had gotten out once, with all the wards and warning spells Severus had put on his room, then sending him back when he didn’t want to go was a futile fight. If he still wanted to fight, then Severus would simply hit him with the nearest heavy object; most magics might not work on him, but physical action still did.

Black laughed again, but this time it had life to it. Sobbing, fearful life, which was gone as quickly as it came. By the time his cold nose prodded into Severus’ shoulder, he was snickering with his old malice. “You have no idea, Snape. No idea.”

“Go away or shut up.” Severus closed his eyes. If he ever managed a full night’s sleep again, it would be a miracle, but he needed to at least get some rest. The past few weeks had taken too much of a toll on him, and he still had too far to go to let a moment’s inattention undo him.

“Push me.” When he didn’t get an immediate response, Black perversely took it as a sign to move closer. His arm dropped itself over Severus’ chest like a dead thing, landing at wrong angles, and his breath was too warm on Severus’ skin even though his skin was icy. “It must be a relief, isn’t it? Hating me isn’t all that complicated compared to Voldemort, or Albus—”

Not having had another visit from Potter was not the reprieve Severus had taken it for at first; he’d only exchanged one demon for another. “You know nothing about my relationship with Albus.”

Silence. The thin ray of light briefly showed a disembodied face above Severus. It had high cheekbones, black pits of eyes and a thin pair of lips that were slightly parted to disclose strangely luminous white teeth—in whole, it resembled an ancient funeral mask.

Then Black laid back down. He hissed in his breath between his teeth, then relaxed against Severus. “You’re going to miss it,” he sleepily said.

Thankfully, he said no more after that. He seemed to sleep quite deeply, as if he’d stolen that from Severus, who laid awake all night.

And then, barely an hour before morning, Sirius bolted upright with a scream. Then he folded over, and didn’t look up till Severus had shook him till his teeth had rattled. When he finally did, his eyes were looking at something that possibly was not even in their dimension.

“One down,” he said, and smiled in a way that made Severus suppress a shudder. Then he slowly turned his gaze on Severus, and it grew clouded with confusion. “Fuck. Who’s got the Snitch? Is it James? Please, Merlin, let it be James.”

* * *

Harry’s idea of checking up on Voldemort’s whereabouts, as it turned out, was to take Lucius to the Catacombs, watch the traffic going in and out and then snatch whichever Death Eater he pleased. Lucius was surprised that Voldemort was still using the place, considering that it’d been proven Harry could go in and out of it without any trouble, but when he brought up the subject, Harry merely shrugged.

“I got within a hair of pulling a piece of that son of a bitch’s soul out of him. He should still be feeling like shit now, and he probably still thinks like we’re linked. But I’m not even close to being alive, so I heal faster,” Harry said, checking over the shuttered window.

He seemed calmer now—almost icily rational. The way he’d cut out Pettigew from the packs in which Death-Eaters were traveling now and lured him beyond any help had been enough to impress the part of Lucius that wasn’t petrified with fear. Now they were in a nondescript house somewhere in the less…wealthy part of Muggle London, and Pettigew was tied to a table and just coming round. The whole situation was quite familiar, and Lucius desperately wished there was a chair in the room, or some decent ventilation.

Something hard and long abruptly knocked up the underside of his chin so he had to look up. Lucius did his best to meet Harry’s eyes. “You might as well keep the cane, at this point. Since you have such an affinity for it.”

Harry swung it out from beneath Lucius’ chin and used the snake-head to stroke the side of Lucius’ jaw. The head’s fangs lightly scratched Lucius’ skin: not hard enough to break, but hard enough to serve as a reminder. “It’s not me that’s got the affinity—it’s you. I don’t bother much with it with anyone else, do I?” he breathed, leaning in.

Then he abruptly stepped back, cane going down, and Lucius became shamefacedly aware that he’d been tipping towards Harry with parting lips. He pressed himself back against the wall.

“Would it make you feel better if I kept you tied up?” The look Harry shot Lucius was a parody of coyness—Lucius suddenly thought of the Weasley girl, and wondered what had happened to her since their last appointment, wondered if she’d call him the whore if they should ever meet again. “So you’d be sure you couldn’t do anything to stop me?”

“Get on with it,” Lucius muttered, looking away. He leaned against the wall to take some of the strain off his bruised and aching body. “Don’t pretend any of this is for my benefit.”

Oddly enough, Harry made no reply to that. After several minutes, Lucius’ curiosity got the better of him and he looked back at the table.

Pettigew was fully awake now, but frozen stiff and silent as he stared up at Harry, who was straddling him. Harry had left the cane leaning against the wall, and now was methodically unbuttoning his shirt-cuffs and rolling them up. “Hello, Pettigew,” Harry said. “You haven’t gasped and gone on about how I’m supposed to be dead, so I’m guessing the news has gotten round. How’s your master?”

“…what?” Pettigew eventually croaked.

“How. Is. He.”

Crack. Both Pettigew and Lucius had flinched before they realized that Harry had merely cracked his knuckles. A little bit of red bled into Harry’s eyes.

Suddenly Pettigew was talking like mad, throwing out anything and everything. It had always puzzled Lucius that Voldemort favored him so, considering that the man was a hopeless coward. That sort had their uses, but Voldemort entrusted Pettigew with tasks he’d give to no other wizard…because Pettigew was too stupid to use it to his own advantage and too scared to mess it up, possibly. But that meant he also gave up secrets at the drop of a knife.

Voldemort had indeed been seriously injured. He’d dragged himself to Pettigew’s door—here Pettigew actually preened a bit until Harry snarled at him to get on with it—and then spent three days in seclusion. Pettigew had had to get him unicorn’s blood. Pettigew had—

“—the girl, he’d asked for her before and he asked again so I took her to him, but the little bitch—” Pettigew blindly babbled.

He hadn’t noticed how Harry’s face had gone perfectly blank, nor how his eyes were completely red. He did notice when Harry suddenly plunged his fingers, splayed and curled into claws, into his chest. Lucius turned away at the first splash of red so he only heard the sick crunching of Pettigew’s ribs and breastbone yielding. Pettigew screamed.

“You mean Ginny?” Harry asked in a dangerously steady voice.

“I’m just telling you!” Pettigew squealed. He was beginning to develop a gurgle in his voice. “I’m telling you—I had to do it! I had to! Why—don’t get mad at me, be angry at Malfoy there! He fucked her and nobody ordered him to do it!”

Another scream accompanied Lucius’ swift turnabout. The sheer vitriol in Harry’s eyes left Lucius instinctively flinging himself back against the wall without attempting to explain himself.

Harry jerkily began to rise, then looked down as one of his fingers slid free with a wet pop. He shook his head and snarled to himself before shoving the finger back in; Pettigew twisted and whimpered. “What happened to her?” he tonelessly queried.

“Dead…she stole something from Voldemort and ran, but she couldn’t have lived from what he did to her…didn’t do it, I didn’t do it, I wasn’t even there, I only showed up afterward when he asked me to check on the locket…” Pettigew whined. Thick trickles of blood were beginning to stain his chest.

Now he had Harry’s full attention. “Locket? What locket? Where?”

“His! I don’t know, I just look after it sometimes.” Something ripped and Pettigew’s head abruptly twisted to the side. His eyes rolled till the whites showed. “Hogwarts! It’s at Hogwarts! In the old Slytherin dungeons—I can take you—please, I could—”

“No, thank you, I can see it clear enough in your mind.” Harry paused and cocked his head. Then his lips drew back in a vicious wolf’s grin and he suddenly snapped his fingers together, as if forming a fist in Pettigew’s chest.

Pettigew arched, a soundless scream making a circle of his mouth. The blood poured from his chest, then slowed to a sluggish flow as the light faded from his eyes, which remained fixed on Lucius till the very end. Lucius couldn’t help staring back, even when the sounds of wet slaps and rustling cloth signaled that Harry was getting off the table.

So that had been why Voldemort had been worried enough to send Lucius to Hogwarts’ ruins; Pettigew could keep watch, but certainly couldn’t be an effective defender. Any unusual happenings around there would threaten that Horcrux…and of course Voldemort wouldn’t say anything specific to Lucius about why he was being sent. Oh, Merlin. If Lucius wasn’t absolutely, completely positive that Harry was going to kill him right now over Ginny Weasley, he would have laughed.

A hard grip seized his jaw; Harry’s hand was still hot and sticky with blood, which it smeared all over Lucius’ face. Then, as after Greyback’s death, Harry savaged his mouth.

Lucius instantly yielded, but Harry continued forcing him as if he hadn’t. First Lucius’ knees went, and then he was hanging by Harry’s hold, and then his hands stupidly reached for Harry. The right one was smacked back to the wall with the cane and he hastily returned the left. He tried to breathe, but couldn’t, and he was on the point of passing out when Harry finally ripped away.

“Was that for Draco’s sake, too?” Harry harshly said, and Lucius slowly remembered that he’d just said ‘please’ to him without thinking.

He didn’t dare say or do anything except look at Harry, who still had his jaw in a punishing grip. It tightened to the point of white-hot pain, and then Harry…slowly ran his thumb across Lucius’ lower lip. Lucius trembled and moaned.

Then Harry let go and turned away while Lucius collapsed down the wall to the floor. “Well, you’re worse off enough now, and she’s better off, to take care of that. Get up. We’re—”

* * *

“This is it,” Granger said.

Draco hoped she didn’t expect him to come up with some little speech about how brave they were, or how much this was going to mean to the world, because he didn’t give a damn. He put out his cig, pointed his wand at the goblet sitting in the middle of the circle they’d drawn, and cleared his throat so he wouldn’t butcher the Latin. “Count of three, on three.”

Since he was looking at the goblet and not her, he didn’t have to see her reaction. After a moment, she started counting, and that was all that concerned him.

“Three!” She raised her wand, and he raised hers, and they started chanting.

It was a surprisingly short incantation, given all the preparation necessary—that had taken the whole night. When they were finished and nothing remarkable had happened, Draco…gave it a moment. It wasn’t his first time doing Dark Magic.

After that, he lowered his wand and backed up to get his cigarettes, which were in the pocket of his coat, which in turn was hanging on the chair that they’d shoved to the edge of the room. “Damn it, Granger, did you—”

“Don’t you—” she started, face finally developing some color from her rage.

And that, as it turned out, was the last he ever saw of her. The goblet suddenly exploded in light and heat and pain--pain that shot out a tentacle of white that seized Draco’s wand and crawled up it to stab into his hand before he could drop his wand. He stumbled back, blinded by light and hurt, and hit the wall. Twisted and fell to the floor and screamed till he had nothing left with which to scream.

* * *

“—to Hogwarts,” Harry absently finished. But instead of starting right off, he stared into space for several seconds. When he finally moved, it was to smile blackly, humorlessly and shake his head. “Well. Draco.”

“What—what about—” Lucius began to pull himself to his feet.

Before he’d gotten halfway, Harry had flung himself across the room and thrown open one of the shutters with such abruptness that Lucius was startled into falling back to the floor. Harry looked out the window, taken by a strange stillness. Then he laughed, and slowly withdrew. “Still stormy out. You know, I’m glad I threw your son out—he’s an idiot. An…idiot.”

He turned back and without any further explanation, jerked Lucius to his feet.

* * *

Voldemort stopped and looked at Nagini. “Draco,” he thoughtfully said.


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