Draco Malfoy and the Tome of Entrapment




Chapter Nine: Illusor




Then



The letter ruining his life was delivered on Friday.  It came by Special Owl, down the chute into the Slytherin House common room, marked with the Malfoy seal.

Seated in front of the empty fireplace the last weekend before Hogwarts left out for the term, Draco, Vince, and Greg had been playing Exploding Snap and gorging sweets.  They had completed taking their O.W.L.s Thursday and, aside from a small incident with Harry Potter and his friends in Professor Umbridge’s office, things had become rather boring.

Then, the letter came, telling him that his father was in Azkaban.

“In Azkaban, even the strongest wizard cannot survive,” Lucius had told six-year-old Draco.  “Your soul is sucked away and you’re left to rot in a cell, wearing rags and without soap.  It is better to be dead than disgraced like that, you’d best remember.”

Vince took the parchment from Draco’s nerveless fingers and read it quietly to Greg.  Draco stared blankly into space, completely shocked, trying to grasp what it meant.  His mother had to be mistaken.  His father couldn’t be there. 

Greg poked Draco in the arm, gaining his attention.  “Do you want us to get Pansy?”

“No.”  Draco’s reply was hardly a whisper. 

“It’ll be fine, mate,” Vince said.  “Your mum will contact the law wizards and your father will be out in no time.”

Draco blinked at him and stood.  “I’ll be in my room.”  He saw Blaise enter as he left.

He made it downstairs, behind the closed door of his dormitory, before the shock wore off.  He sank onto his bed, staring at the stone floor without seeing it.  His father was in Azkaban.

Draco’s fingers dug into his thighs, his robe providing little protection to his legs.  He grit his teeth, nostrils flaring and eyes burning, as fear and anger flowed through him.  His father couldn’t be in Azkaban.  It had to be a mistake. 

He scrubbed his hand across his eyes.  Of course, it was a mistake.  His father would never do anything that would put him in Azkaban. 

The door creaked and Blaise stuck his head inside.  “Malfoy, you have a minute?”

“What do you want, Zabini?”

Blaise entered the dormitory, shut the door, and leaned against it.  His expression was tense.  “I just got done talking to Longbottom.”

“I don’t really care at the moment what Potter and his cronies have done,” Draco snapped.

“It involves your father.”

Draco stiffened.  “What about my father?”

“He’s a Death Eater, Malfoy.”

Draco’s wand was in his hand, pointed at Blaise instantly.  “Take that back.  My father is not a Death Eater.”

“Potter and his friends were at the Ministry last night—”

“Your father went to the Ministry—”

“—and they fought a group of Death Eaters.  Your father was one of them.”

“—and apparently they thought he was with a group of Death Eaters who’d broken in, and the Aurors took him into custody.”

Draco clenched his wand so hard his hand trembled.  “Get out.  Get out!  GET OUT!”

Blaise left swiftly, slamming the door behind him.  Red spell-light exploded where his head had been, charring the wood of the door. 

Draco sat abruptly on the edge of his bed, panting harshly from between clenched teeth.  Rage shook his body and hatred bubbled inside him.  It was all Harry Potter’s fault.  If it weren’t for him, nothing like this ever would’ve happened.  After all Draco had done for Harry, protecting him for years now, this was how he was repaid?

He imagined cursing Harry, torturing him until he died.  He imagined gutting Harry with a knife, watching as the blood seeped from the split body and stained the stone floor deep, dark red.  He pictured Harry lying there under him, choking beneath his bare hands, the life in those bespectacled green eyes dying slowly—

A sound of misery escaped his throat.  Draco closed his eyes tightly, fighting against the tears that stung his eyes.  He wrapped his arms around himself, shaking visibly.  He couldn’t hurt Potter – he couldn’t – no matter how much he deserved it.  The thought of his father being at Azkaban was horrifying, but picturing Harry dead by his own wand, by anyone’s wand, ripped at a place inside him that he hadn’t known existed.  It was unexplainable and excruciating, and he didn’t know what he was going to do.

And then there was the fact that his father was a Death Eater.  Draco curled forward, over his lap, suppressing a hysterical sound.  He could care less about You-Know-Who, thought his ideology was spot on, actually, ridding the world of Mudblood filth and promoting purity of the wizarding race.  Draco was all for it, as long as he stayed far away from Potter, and that included his Death Eaters, which, apparently, his father was one.

What was he going to do?  How could he be loyal to his family, to his name, if his father was a Death Eater and he was protecting Harry, the very symbol of their downfall, from them?








Now





If days passed the same as outside the book, Monday morning dawned with pale sunlight streaming through the open window.  Draco blinked sleepily, his fogged mind slow to wake.  It took a few moments for him to get his bearings.  He was alone, though evidence of rumpled blankets and an indentation in the pillow beside him indicated that the others had slept in the room.  Someone had also cleaned up the things he’d spilled on the floor and the backpack was gone.  He must’ve been exhausted if he hadn’t heard them come and go, especially in light of his paranoia about Death Eaters. 

Draco stretched, rubbed his eyes, and rolled out of bed.  He found the toilet at the end of the hall and performed morning ablutions.  Feeling much more alert, he combed his fingers through his wet hair, slicking it back temporarily – spell-gel on a wet head would turn into cement – before heading downstairs.

The others were finishing breakfast at one of the tables near the empty hearth.  They all looked up at his entrance and Pansy graced him with a smile.  “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” Draco returned, taking the empty seat between her and Harry.  It was the same set up as yesterday: Neville between Pansy and Hermione, with Ron beside Hermione and Harry beside Ron.  Draco didn’t bother adjusting his chair away from Harry.  He snatched a piece of bacon from Pansy’s plate and bit into it.  “Why didn’t you wake me?”

“Pansy said she’d disembowel us if we did,” Neville said with a smitten grin at Pansy.

“And I would have.”  Pansy lifted her hand, indicating to Madam Stein to bring another dish of food.  “However, I did not force anyone else to get up early, either.  You all rose on your own.”

“Any progress on getting us the feck out of here?” Draco said.  “Granger, what book are you reading?”

Illusor: A History,” Hermione said.  “It’s devoted to the establishment of Illusor, which is what the world within the Tome of Entrapment is called.  The book says that Illusor is surrounded by an impassable desert on all sides but then references people from exotic lands coming here.  Whether that refers to the people from our world who get trapped or if there are places further past the deserts is unknown.”

Draco looked at the others as he tucked into the meal Madam Stein set in front of him.  Pansy and Neville were making coy eyes at each other, which amused him.  Ron’s head was propped on his fist, eyes closed, and therefore he missed Harry nicking the food off his plate.  Hermione’s nose was in a book, her hair escaping from the braid looped around her head.

Ron opened his eyes suddenly, stabbing his fork against Harry’s, as it hovered above the chocolate muffin on his dish.  “Not the muffin, mate.”

Harry smiled sheepishly and withdrew his fork.  He set it aside, picked up his plate of scraps, and stood.  “I’m going to feed Dog.”

Draco watched Harry walk to the door and go outside.  He shifted so he could still see Harry through the window.  Simply because it was a nice, bright morning didn’t mean any lurking Death Eaters would skive off.

“I think this might help us.” Hermione pushed aside her empty plate, laid the book on the table, and pointed at the page.  “It’s a copy of the oldest known map of Illusor.”

Neville rose and peered closely at the open book.  “It’s hard to see any details.”

“Use the omnioculars,” Ron suggested.  He dug into the backpack on the floor by his feet to retrieve them.  “Here.”

Neville unshrunk the omnioculars and held them to his eyes as he looked at the book.  “I’m too close.”

“Go stand by the fireplace,” Pansy said with a wave of her hand.  She picked up the book and angled it towards Neville.

“That’s better.”  Neville looked through the omnioculars at the page.  “I can see more detail, but a lot of it’s still fuzzy.  It must’ve been the mimeospell.”

“Is there a way to get a clearer map?” Ron said, as Harry came back inside.

“We can check the bookshop again,” Hermione replied, as Neville returned to the table.  She took the book from Pansy and skimmed her finger along the page.  “Or we could try the source.  It says here that the map is from Philos Scribner’s collection.”

“How do we find him?” Pansy asked.

Hermione opened to the back of the book and skimmed the pages.  “According to the bibliography, Philos Scribner lives in Fabula.”

“We copied the map of Fabula off Harry’s arm somewhere.”  Ron shifted through the other parchments.  “Here it is.”

“Where’s the hunter’s map?” Pansy asked, piling her empty plate on Neville’s so she could lean forward without getting soiled. 

“Here.”  Harry pulled the rolled up map from the backpack on the floor and handed it to her.

She smoothed the map out in the centre of the table.  “It appears it will take more than a day to walk there.”

“Perhaps we should see if there’s transportation of some sort,” Neville suggested.  “Even brooms would do.”

“Black Twig’s Broom Emporium is located on Fiddler’s Row,” Harry said immediately.

“Why am I not surprised you know that?” Hermione said.  Harry grinned unrepentantly.

“Did the book say anything about transportation?” Pansy said.

“‘Travel is by broom, hoof, water, or foot,’” Hermione quoted.  “I read nothing about Apparating, flooing, or portkeys.”

“So brooms it is.”  Neville glanced at the closed door at the front of the inn.  “What do we do about Dog?”

Everyone looked at Harry.  Harry stared impassively back and answered without inflection.  “We leave him behind.”

“Maybe Madam Stein could use a pet,” Hermione said gently.

“Maybe.”  Harry shrugged and lowered his eyes.

“Why don’t we transfigure him into something else and bring him with?” Neville said.

Harry shook his head.  “I don’t want to chance him getting stuck as a thimble or something.  Plus, we’d have to keep stopping every few hours to transfigure him back, so he doesn’t change permanently.”

“Can we even afford brooms?”  Draco made a face.  “So this is what it feels like to be a Weasley.”

“Piss off, Malfoy,” Ron said, ears reddening.

“We’ll have to stock up on food, too,” Pansy pointed out.  “Unless we find another conveniently deceased wizard’s empty home.”

Harry took out the pouch of coins and dumped it on the map on the table.  He separated a few sickles.  “That’s for breakfast this morning, which leaves us with eight galleons, thirteen sickles, and seven knuts.”

“Even if we rode two to a broom, I don’t think that’s enough,” Hermione said.

Neville glanced at Pansy and Draco, at Hermione and Ron, and then looked directly at Harry.  “I can fly without a broom.”

“Pardon?” Ron said.

Harry, however, half-smiled.  “I’m not surprised.  What are you?”

“Sparrow.”

“Snowy owl,” Harry said.  “Hermione and Ron aren’t flyers, though.” 

“Harry!” Hermione exclaimed in scolding. 

Harry cut a glance at Draco.  “Neither is Malfoy.”

Hermione and Ron appeared surprised and a bit peeved.  Draco glared at Harry.  “Keep quiet, Potter, or I’ll silence your tongue for you.”

“It doesn’t matter who is what.  We’ll all be walking if we can’t afford brooms,” Pansy said.

“Pansy’s right,” Neville said.  “We should go and price brooms, see what we might be able to get and still have money left for food supplies.”

“Ron, pass me the backpack.” Hermione began rolling the various maps and parchments on the table.

Harry scooped the coins in the purse, minus the sickles to pay for breakfast, and rose.  “I’ll pay Madam Stein and see if she wants Dog.”  He picked up the sickles and walked towards the bar.

Draco followed him.  “So, we’re going, just like that?”

“It’s better than sitting around,” Harry shrugged.  “Besides, Hermione’s usually right.  If this map caught her attention, it’s bound to be something important.”


The two Starburst brooms trailed behind an owl and a sparrow as they flew under the hot sun and sunblock charms.  Below stretched fields of wheat, weeds, and flowers, greens and browns of various shades notched together like a patchwork quilt.  Hermione wore the bespelled backpack, riding behind Ron on one of the brooms, while Pansy rode behind Draco.  The cheap brooms were used and very old, but they worked and saved them from hiking from Piègens to Fabula.

“Do you think Granger’s right?” Pansy asked, raising her voice to be heard from behind Draco.

“About?”

“About this map possibly showing the way out of the book.”

“I don’t know.  She might be grasping at nothing,” Draco replied. 

“I suppose,” Pansy said.  “I think I’d rather have a definite goal than wandering around aimlessly.”

They had checked the bookshop, but had been unable to locate a better copy of the map, and the decision to search out Scribner became definite.  “I am curious as to how the map would show the way out.”  Draco shifted on the cushioning charm.  “Pointing arrows or signs reading ‘exit here’?”

“Fly closer to Granger and I’ll ask,” Pansy said.  “I’m certain the Brainiac has already figured it out.”

Draco nudged the Starburst and coasted closer to the other pair.  Ron glared at him, hands tightening around the wood grain broomstick.  “What do you want?”

“To knock you to the ground and laugh as your head cracked open,” Draco replied succinctly. 

“Granger, I have a question,” Pansy began, forestalling Draco from doing as he’d said.  “How will we know that we’ve found the way out?  I doubt it’ll be labelled on a map.” 

“I suppose it depends on what else is on the map.” Hermione gasped at the broom’s sudden movement as Ron adjusted.  “The labels should be uniform and anything unknown or unusual should be marked as such.  Also, if we compare the oldest map to a current map, we can see where changes have occurred, which may help us.”

“What if this is a dead end?”

“I suppose we could speak with some of the people who contributed to Illusor: A History, if they’re still alive.  They’ve had to travel all over Illusor to compile the book.”

There was no one below them as they soared through the sky.  Occasionally, the fields were flattened in circles and patterns, mooncalf markings.  Other beasts, both recognizable and not, leapt and grazed in the grasses.  A few blackbirds paced them awhile before shifting course and flying west. 

The heat of the sun beat on Draco’s head and wind burned his cheeks, as afternoon traversed into evening.  His palms hurt from gripping the shoddy broom handle and Pansy was making his back hot and sticky from leaning against him.  They landed once for a too short respite before continuing on.  Idle chatter drifted between Ron and Hermione.  Pansy was content to sit in silence and let Draco be.

Eventually, they set down in a tall wheat field.  Draco stood and watched, rubbing his sore lower back, as Harry, Ron, and Neville trampled the wheat flat, creating a campsite.  Hermione cleared a spot in the centre and used the chaff to light a fire.  Incendio.”

“Did you cast a protective ring around that?” Harry said, taking the backpack from her.

“Of course.”

“Anything interesting for dinner?” Ron asked Harry.

“Cabbage and crull-meat,” Harry replied.  “I picked some Princess Petals, too, so we can have baked apples for dessert.”

“Have I mentioned how glad I am you can cook, mate?”

“You can show your appreciation by helping.”

“Pansy, take a walk with me?” Hermione requested. 

“All right.” Pansy said, and the two disappeared into the wheat.

Neville transfigured six chairs similar to the ones the Death Eaters had, from individual wheat stalks.  They wobbled on the flattened field and he frowned momentarily before utilizing the spell Hermione had used to create the fire circle. 

Draco indicated to Neville with a hand-motion that he was going to walk around just before the ground exploded where Neville had aimed his wand.  Chaff and dirt flew up and shouts from Harry and Ron echoed in the quiet.  “Neville!” 

Draco marked the distance the girls had gone, careful not to get too close to where he heard them, and then doubled back to hear what they were talking about, only to get an earful about Neville.  He relieved himself and then continued on, making sure they were alone in the field. 

Harry had a pan hovering over the fire, with meat frying inside of it along with cabbages and other bits of vegetables, and was currently coring apples, when Draco returned.  The wheat had been cleared properly and chairs set up on level ground around the fire.  Neville and Ron were playing noughts and crosses on a scrap of parchment, using the Illusor: A History book as a lap-table.  Next to Neville, Pansy sat with Hermione and the two were working together on a parchment.

Draco sank down on the chair on the other side of Pansy, rested his head on the backrest, and looked up at the night sky.  Stars studded the inky blackness of space.  Mars shone brightly still and Draco shifted his attention to look out over the thigh-high fields.  He felt more relaxed about the possibilities of Death Eaters out in the middle of nowhere than in Piègens, but with his attention less focused, he had to fight so as not to give into the urge to pick a fight with Harry because he was bored.  Besides, Harry was cooking and it’d be best not to disrupt if he wanted to get fed.  He was hungry, too.

“We should add Madam Stein, the book seller, and the broom seller on here,” Pansy said, glancing up to look at Hermione. 

“Good idea.”  Hermione waved at Neville and Ron.  “They nicked the quill.”

Pansy leaned over and plucked it from Neville’s hand.  “Not anymore.”

Neville handed over a small bottle.  “Here’s the ink, too.” 

Actuosa,” Ron cast at their parchment.  The noughts and crosses moved to the side of one of the drawn boards.  The boys used the tips of their wands to slide the characters into place in a new game.

Pansy added to the parchment she had with a flourish.  “What about the other people from town?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione said.  “We didn’t really interact with any of them.”

“What are you doing?” Draco asked.

“Attempting to figure out if we’re following a plot or not,” Pansy replied. 

Draco stared blankly at her.

“Because we’re in a book, Draco,” Pansy said.  Harry snickered and Draco shot a glare at him.  “There has to be more to the Tome of Entrapment than simply being an interactive container.”

“If we’re following a plot, everything native to the environment should have some purpose in directing us,” Hermione said. 

“Like Dog.”  Harry flipped the meat in the pan, then returned to the apples. “Dog led us to the hunter and to the hunter’s shack.”

“Where we found a map that led us to Piègens,” Hermione continued.

“What about the elk-like herd, the worgs, and the mud hole?” Neville asked.

“All three were dangerous,” Harry said.  “They all occurred in the same day, too.”

“The worgs were chasing the elk-herd, but the mud hole happened in the morning,” Hermione said.

“How does that fit into this plot-thing?” Draco said.  “By killing off the characters?”

“Neville was nearly drowned at the mud hole and then clawed somewhat badly by a worg,” Pansy agreed.

“Potter was injured by the worgs, too,” Draco said, staring tensely into the distance with the memory. 

“So were you,” Harry said. 

Draco waved him off.  “A scratch.”

“Your ear was partially chewed off.”

“Pansy does that all the time.”

Pansy chuckled.  “Only because you deserve it.”

Neville cleared his throat.  “Um, should I be jealous?”

“Perhaps,” Pansy answered coyly.

“I don’t know why life-threatening creatures would be included, other than to make the plot more interesting,” Hermione said. 

Ron drew a line with his wand and grinned triumphantly at Neville.  “Makes me wonder, who the plot would be interesting to.”

Everyone went silent and looked at Ron.  Ron’s ginger brows rose into his hairline.  “What?”

“Do you think he may be right?” Pansy said to Hermione.  “Could there be a- an author to this madness?”

“It’s possible,” Hermione said, visibly thinking as she spoke.  “But if there is an author, would he be inside the book?  Outside?  Could he be the book, a sentient object like our Third Year Care of Magical Creatures text?”

“Well, we’re not going to figure it out tonight,” Draco said.  “I’m starved, Potter.  Is dinner ready yet?”

“Oh!”  Harry pushed aside his apples and grabbed the stack of plates off the empty chair behind him.  “Yes, dinner’s served.”

Night had fallen and overhead, the moon rose, full and heavy and bright.  Dinner was delicious, just like the other meals Harry had made.  Draco wondered when the Boy Who Lived learned to cook so well.  He was admittedly ignorant when it came to Harry’s home life.  The Twins were the closest to Harry and they never told the PRATS how Harry spent his summer holidays.

“I can’t believed we missed an entire day of lessons,” Hermione said, continuing the conversation.  “N.E.W.T.s are less than two months away and we cannot afford to skip any lessons.”

“I reckon you’ll manage somehow, Hermione,” Harry said.  He chased a piece of baked apple around his plate with his fork. 

“How many N.E.W.T.s are you going for?” Pansy asked curiously.

“Too many,” Ron piped in, pink sugar coating the corners of his mouth.  “It’s not like she needs them all, either, to get the jobs she wants.”

“Really?” Pansy said, interested.  “What is it you’re looking at, Granger?”

Hermione shrugged bashfully.  “I’ve been invited to work for the University of Merlin in their research department.  There are various invitations for further studies at several other universities and direct requests for employment at Verduen, Sickle & Bones, and Underhill.  Oh, and Auror training, as well.”

“Wow, Hermione, that’s brilliant,” Neville said.  “I didn’t know about some of those offers.”

“Nothing is certain until I pass my N.E.W.T.s,” Hermione said dismissively.  “How about you, Pansy?  What are you doing after Hogwarts?”

“I’ve been accepted as a Mediwitch apprentice at St. Mungo’s,” Pansy replied. 

“So that’s why you’re so good at healing spells,” Harry said.

“Yes.  I’ve been taking N.E.W.T.-level courses with Madam Pomfrey.”  Pansy set aside her empty plate.  “Since we’re pretending to be Hufflepuffs, what are you doing after Hogwarts, Potter?”

“Auror training,” Harry said promptly, almost before she’d finished her question.

Draco snorted.  “As if you’d do anything else.”

Harry simply looked at him in response.

A sneer pulled at Draco’s lips, while inside he felt uncomfortable.  Damn Potter.  It was moments like these Draco wanted to kick him for being such a martyr.  Or kiss him.

“What are you going to do, Malfoy?” Hermione said with a hint of disdain in her tone.

Draco shifted his gaze from Harry to her.  “I’m going to get more N.E.W.T.s than you.”

Hermione’s nose went up at the challenge.  “We’ll see.”

“How about after school?” Harry said with what sounded like genuine curiosity.

“My options are open right now.  Professor Snape instructed me to take N.E.W.T.s in all the O.W.L. classes I received high marks in, so that my choices wouldn’t be limited.”  Draco hadn’t gotten any offers like Hermione and nowhere had sparked his interest for him to send an application.  He knew he’d be living with Pansy, but other than that… 

“Right,” Ron snorted.  “No one would hire you because your father’s a known Death Eater and they know you’ll be following in his footsteps.”

“Don’t speak about my father, Weasley,” Draco warned.

“I see you didn’t deny it,” Ron said with a smug look. 

“I don’t hear you sharing your vaunted future plans,” Draco said snidely.  “Are you following in your father’s wake, as scut worker number twelve?”

“I’d rather clean up after blast-end screwts than have a scum like Lucius Malfoy as my father.”

“My father is not a scum,” Draco hissed, reaching for his wand.

“He’s a bottom-feeding, boot-licking Death Eater—”

“Ron!” Hermione exclaimed.  “Enough!”

“We are not going to do this!” Pansy jumped in, putting her hand on Draco’s arm.  She glared between him and Ron.  “I’m tired of the two of you acting like children, as I’m sure everyone else is.  Grow up already.”

Draco jerked his arm out of her grasp, furious and hurt that she’d speak out against him.  He flicked a glance at Harry, who was looking at Ron with a frown on his face.  Probably worried about his precious Weasel’s feelings.  Draco rose and strode stiffly out from the campsite without another word. 

The wheat shushed against his trousers as he stalked through the field.  He could hear the others’ raised voices behind him, but he didn’t listen.  He hated Ron Weasley - hated them all, including Pansy at that moment.  His father was a sore point for him, especially when he’d be leaving school soon, and Pansy knew that.

The overhead moon was bright enough to see by as Draco cursed all and sundry under his breath.  He needed to get out of the book.  He needed to get away from the Weasel, the Mudblood, and the stupid Boy He Loved before he went spare.  He needed to take Pansy’s (traitor) advice and shag until he couldn’t remember his own name.  Perhaps that Fifth Year Ravenclaw was still interested.

Brilliant, now he was horny and pissed off.

Draco blew out a breath of disgust, stopped walking, and glowered off into the distance.  The uncut fields of wheat stretched on as far as he could see.  The brown stalks with frayed tips were traced with silver moonlight, standing perfectly still in the breezeless night.  A nighthawk skimmed low across the field, silently ruffling the stalks.

The night was quiet, nothing disturbing the peacefulness except for Draco and the buzz of voices behind him, back at the campsite.  He brushed his hands against the contradictory prickly-soft tips of the stalks, tickling his palms and sending a rain of fawn-coloured bits on his boot-tops.  He wondered what time it was, for he’d be eighteen once the clock struck midnight.

The field was not flat.  It crested and dipped in a pattern that undoubtedly created the illusion of rolling waves when the wind blew.  Out of the corner of his eye, Draco caught sight of movement.  He turned slowly and saw the wheat parting in four places, like sea serpents part the water just beneath the surface.  The four grey shapes moved steadily forward, coming over a rise not very far away.  The faint shush of wheat brushing against something reached Draco’s ears, and he cautiously drew his wand.

From out of the thigh-high field of wheat rose four large animals with smooth, pale grey skin.  Mooncalves, Draco noted with awe.  Magical beasts that resembled thin cows with spindly legs and enormous flat feet, rarely seen by wizards in person, only the after-effects of their presence.  He’d seen those after-effects from the air, shapes and circles in the fields he flew over earlier.

Balanced upright on their hind legs, the mooncalves raised their bulging, round eyes to the night sky and, at a silent signal, began to dance under the full moon.  The mooncalves’ feet flattened the stalks as they moved in an intricate pattern, flattening it in an unknown design.  Every full moon, the mooncalves would dance in fields of wheat with fluidity and grace that belied their awkward form.

The beauty of the mooncalves weaving their wordless, worshipful tale entranced Draco.  The smooth grey of their skin took on a pale glow from the moonlight.  Their sinewy forelegs traced mesmerizing patterns in the air, their bovine faces lifted to the starry sky. 

Draco jumped slightly at the soft noise to his right and he reached for his wand, only to drop his hand again with a roll of his eyes.

“Mooncalves,” Harry whispered in awe, stepping up beside Draco.  “Brilliant.”

Draco hummed in agreement.  He was somewhat peeved at being disturbed.  A glance behind him showed Pansy and Neville changing course and following the perimeter, stopping a fair distance away.   He faced forward again and watched the mooncalves fan out, creating a geometric design in the wheat.  No sounds rose from their steps to distract from the visual beauty of the dance.

Harry shifted closer, his shoulder bumping Draco’s arm.  “The others will be furious that they missed this.”

“Too bad for them,” Draco said in quiet irritation.  The mooncalves bowed gracefully towards each other from four separate corners of the design. 

“Why do you defend your father if you’re not going to join Voldemort?”

Draco winced at the name, and glanced sidelong at Harry.  “I don’t have to explain myself to you.”

Harry glowered at him.  “Just answer the question.”

Draco turned back to the mooncalves, dismissively.  “The two are not related.”

“Not related?”

“Yes, Potter, as in one action has nothing to do with the other.”

Harry scoffed softly.  “Your father is a murderous Death Eater.”

“He’s still my father.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Harry said.

“If you had parents, it would.”  Draco could feel Harry’s irate glare boring into the side of his head.  He sighed exasperatedly.  “Look, Potter, it’s not that simple.  I know he’s a Death Eater and I know he’s killed both Muggles and wizards alike, but he’s never lifted a hand against me. He gives me anything that I ask and is still proud of me.  Same with my mother.”

“But they’re not good people—” 

“And your parents were the epitome of perfection, never to be tainted by something called reality,” Draco said sarcastically. 

Harry fell silent, a pensive frown marring his brow.  The mooncalves weaved patterns in the air, inviting the moonbeams to dance with them. 

Draco wondered if he could foist Harry off on Pansy and Neville again.  He looked over to where they had been standing, and didn’t know whether to grimace or smile.  Neville wasn’t that handsome (and Draco knew from blokes), but Pansy seemed to like him anyway.  Perhaps Neville was like the mooncalves, the dancing attractiveness of his soul hidden beneath a dumpy, way too hairy exterior.

He felt Harry move beside him and turned from the snogging couple.  Harry stared intently at the mooncalves, as if they were going to give him the answer to some important question.  The bright moonlight made his hair shine and glinted off the edges of his glasses.  His white school shirt appeared to glow and Draco remembered the body hidden underneath.

Draco shifted, crossing his hands in front of his groin.  He did not want a repeat of what had happened in the shower; his secret had been literally exposed enough.  Even though Harry was looking so very kissable…

Harry lifted his wrist to his ear, lowered his arm and looked at his watch, then made a face at it and dropped his hand.  “I reckon it’s close enough.  Happy birthday.”

Draco stared at him, gobsmacked.

The mooncalves continued dancing under the pale full moon.



Chapter Ten