Chapter Five: Death of a Malfoy

Resembling a pair of street urchins, Draco and Harry appeared with their trunks and Hedwig's cage at the Leaky Cauldron at precisely 11:28 a.m. Tom, the Cauldron's bartender, clapped jovially and smiled at the boys. "You made it safe and sound, I see."

"The portkey worked fine, sir," Harry said, handing Tom the garish lady's handbag that served as the portkey. The teens had appeared in the room they'd be renting for the night. Harry had made arrangements for a taxi to take them to King's Cross in the morning.

"Very good." Tom headed for the door. "I'll leave you boys to it. Busy day and all."

After Tom left, Harry turned to Draco. "Gringotts?"

Draco checked to make sure he had the Malfoy vault key and nodded. "The sooner I obtain new clothing, the better. People are going to think I've been adopted by the Weasleys if they see me like this."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Just don't toss anything. I plan for our lessons to continue once we return to Hogwarts and you might be more comfortable in the old Muggle clothing."

Draco snorted as he followed Harry out of the room. "You honestly believe I'll continue to associate with you at school?"


"And why's that?"

Harry stopped on the stairs and looked back at Draco. "Because knowledge and power are addictive. Because you know I won't ask anything in payment. Because you know eventually the student exceeds the Master."

Draco was irritated by Harry's factual tone of voice. "Then what do you get out of this, Potter?"

A blank mask descended over Harry's features. It was a mask Draco was familiar with; Harry wore it ninety percent of the time.

Harry turned and continued down the stairs, saying over his shoulder, "Ask me another time."

Draco's lips compressed in a thin line. He fell back into step behind the aggravating Gryffindor. If what Harry had said wasn't true about Draco's reasons for continuing the lessons, Draco would tell the other boy where to shove it. If they had still been within the boundaries of the Dursleys home, Draco might have shoved it to Harry himself.

Diagon Alley was bustling with wizards and witches as the two boys crossed through the portal behind the Leaky Cauldron. Students and parents hurried from shop to shop, gathering school supplies. Excitement permeated the air as classmates met again after the summer holidays. Conversation was loud and boisterous, punctuated by laughter and the occasional childish scream.

Draco and Harry strode in fluid step, side by side, as they made their way to Gringotts Bank. Draco was amused by the number of heads they turned. Staring and whispering followed in their wake, and the few snatches he heard questioned their identity and commented on their clothing. A group of girls giggled when they passed and Draco shot them a wink. They squealed.

Harry didn't react to the attention they were getting. Draco didn't see him look in any direction except the way they were heading, but he had a feeling Harry saw everything that was going on around them.

At Gringotts, their ragged appearance didn't matter as long as they had their vault keys. Draco was pleased to find the Malfoy vault untouched. He'd secretly feared his mother would have cleaned it out, though he wouldn't have blamed her. With Lucius in Azkaban, their saved wealth was their only source of income.

After signing some papers that transferred the vault into his name -- Draco assumed because of his father's imprisonment -- and with a bag filled with galleons, Draco bid goodbye to Harry in the lobby and made his way to Madam Malkin's alone.

Madam Malkin was measuring two first years for their robes when Draco entered the shop. The smell of fabric and tailors chalk greeted him, sending him back in time. Having had a private tailor fit him when he'd last grown, he hadn't needed to come to Madam Malkin's since his own first year -- when he'd unknowingly met Harry Potter for the first time. Draco didn't remember being as small as the two students on the measuring blocks, though.

"I hope I'm sorted into Slytherin." The tow-headed eleven-year-old on the left slanted a look at the brunet on the second block. "What about you? What House do you want to be sorted into?"

"Gryffindor," the other first year replied. "Slytherins are slimy. Gryffindors are great!"

"Sly, not slimy," Draco spoke up, drawing the children's attention. Madam Malkin looked around the Gryffindor-wannabe's legs and smiled in welcome.

"Mr. Malfoy! My how you've grown," Madam Malkin said. The measuring tape hanging around her shoulders twitched in anticipation. "Come for new school robes, have you?"

"An entire new wardrobe, actually," Draco corrected. Both students were now staring at him with a mixture of fascination and fear. "I'm sure you've heard about my father."

"Terrible, that," Madam Malkin said, though whether she was referring to the fact that Lucius had murdered a Muggle family or that he was locked away in Azkaban, it was hard to tell.

"Isn't it, though?" Draco responded, equally as vague. "In any event, I'm in need of clothing, as I'm sure you can see."

"I'll be with you as soon as I finish with these boys," she said and continued to work.

"Are you Draco Malfoy?" the Slytherin-potential asked tentatively.

"I am," Draco acknowledged with an affirmative nod.

"Aren't you supposed to be kidnapped?"

Draco's pale brow arched. "Kidnapped?"

"The Daily Prophet reported you were missing," the dark-haired one piped up. "And Rita Skeeter sepcu- specta- suspec-a-lated that it had something do with your father."

"You're both finished," Madam Malkin quashed further conversation. "Off you go, now. Your robes will be delivered later today." She turned to Draco. "Now, Mr. Malfoy, let's see what we can do for you."

Dressed comfortably in new school underrobes, which resembled a Muggle shirt and trousers tightly cuffed at the ankle and billowed in the legs, Draco left Madam Malkin's with a faint smirk. The tattoo spider was still crawling around his body and it had caused Madam Malkin to shriek when she saw it.

Draco had school supplies to purchase -- Snape had owled his list shortly after Potter's birthday -- but his feet took him from the sunny and populated Diagon Alley to the shadowy and silent Knockturn Alley. He had potion ingredients he needed to replace that weren't available to students in the regular shops. Most of the ingredients for Harry's sleeping draught, which Draco knew he needed to replenish soon, were just a few of the items.

Draco had visited Knockturn Alley with his father since he was old enough to walk. The sliding shadows and hidden, watchful eyes had no effect on him. He was left alone by the vendors and not beckoned by side-alley cutthroats as he made his way confidently through the streets.

Thecary's Potions smelled cloyingly of cloves and Draco wrinkled his nose as he entered the dark, dreary shop. Deep wood shelves, lined with jars and boxes, were covered in dust. Cobwebs stretched across corners, catching the faint sunlight coming through the chipped paint-covered window.

Draco crossed purposefully to the long wooden counter and rapped his knuckles hard on the surface. Those who shopped at Thecary's knew that most of the business was held in the back rooms of the shop. While Draco waited for the shopkeeper to emerge, he removed his ingredients list from his pocket and double-checked to make certain everything that he needed was on it.

Conversation preceded the shopkeeper and a customer as they emerged from the back. Draco recognized the witch in fuchsia robes as Pansy Parkinson's mother, Posey, and he sniffed in disdain. Posey was a whiny clinger like her daughter, always fawning over the Malfoy men.

Draco put on false airs and smiled politely. "Mrs. Parkinson, how lovely to see you again."

"Draco, darling!" Posey rushed over and hugged him to her ample bosom. "How are you? Everyone's been worried about you!"

Draco doubted that, but he refrained from saying so. "I've been busy," he lied smoothly. He extracted himself from her hold and laid his list on the counter. "I require these, if you would, sir."

"Yes, Master Malfoy," the shopkeeper said, taking the list and heading into the back again.

"How have you been, sweetums?" Posey asked, brushing invisible lint from his shoulders. "I'm dreadfully sorry about your father. Nasty business, that, but you know how it is."

Draco frowned slightly. "How what is?"

"Why, the sacrifices one must make in the name of our Dark Lord," Posey said. "Really, Draco, your father couldn't have expected anything less after being tossed into Azkaban, not after last time. The Dark Lord isn't taking any chances."

"Chances about what?" Draco was getting annoyed. Posey was talking without saying anything.

"About anyone confirming His return." Posey shook her dark head. "It's a pity. Your father was a good man. I'm sure his death was painless."

Draco stared at her, unblinking. The shop was extremely quiet suddenly and his breathing very loud. "My father... is dead?"

Posey's face pinched. "I'm sorry, luv, it must still hurt so. And to have the news splashed on the front page of The Daily Prophet," she tisked. "The reporters should be ashamed of themselves, taking advantage of someone's grief to sell papers. I would want to pretend to be kidnapped, too, if I were in your place. I imagine it would be dreadful to be asked what I felt like knowing that my father was toes up in the dirt."

Posey Parkinson was a rather insensitive cow, Draco noted absently. He turned to the shopkeeper, who had returned from the back. "Send everything to the Cauldron for me, please," he instructed, placing a handful of galleons on the counter. He nodded to Posey. "Mrs. Parkinson. It was a pleasure. You'd best make your purchases. I think the shop has broke a water pipe." At the volume of the rushing sound in Draco's ears, he figured they'd soon be swimming.

He left Thecary's Potions and started back to the Leaky Cauldron. He needed to be there for the delivery and wanted to hide the ingredients deep in his trunk. Plus, his chest hurt something fierce and he was having trouble breathing. If he lay down, perhaps it would stop. He hoped he wasn't becoming ill. He'd rather not spend the first days of school in the Hospital Wing with Madam Pomfrey.

"Ow! Hey, watch where you're bloody going, Malfoy!"

Draco blinked. An extremely tall Ron Weasley was suddenly towering over him and glaring daggers. The noise of hundreds of people speaking at once bombarded Draco. He was in Diagon Alley in front of The Daily Prophet. A photo of the Publisher beckoned for him to go inside and purchase the latest edition.

"Aren't you going to apologize?" Hermione Granger stood at Ron's side, hands on her hips. Harry had been right, Draco thought dazedly. She was taller than him.

"I doubt I'll get one unless I beat it out of him," Ron stated, his overly large hands clenched into fists.

Harry abruptly stepped between Ron and Draco. Draco hadn't seen Harry before, but where there were two, the third couldn't be far away.

Green eyes focused intensely on Draco for a long second and Draco felt like Harry was reading his mind. Perhaps it was something he'd learned in Trelawney's class.

Harry finally asked softly, though Draco heard him clearly because everyone else had suddenly gone quiet again, "Have you gotten your books?"

"No." Draco hadn't had time to get his books. His potion ingredients were to be delivered and he needed to return to the room at the Leaky Cauldron and his father was dead and he didn't want to leave the ingredients out because he technically wasn't supposed to have them...

"I'll get them. You go on," Harry told him.

Draco nodded once in affirmation. It was getting rather cold out, anyway. He was shivering already. He rounded Harry and Ron and continued to the Cauldron and up to the room.

The moment he crossed the threshold his knees gave out and he collapsed to the floor. Harry must be testing him again. He could've done without the floor burn, though, and the pressure in his chest rather hurt.

"Finite incantatum," he choked out, but nothing happened. He was stuck on his knees on the wood floor, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe. Oh, and his father was dead.

It was later when Harry came into the room, though how much time had passed was unknown. Silently, Harry set a few parcels down, pressed a handkerchief in Draco's hand, and left again.

The handkerchief had to have been hexed like the floor, because Draco's cheeks were suddenly wet.

"My father is dead," Draco spoke for the first time since yesterday, when he had found out the news. He and Harry were pushing baggage carts with their trunks and school supplies along the Muggle platform at King's Cross Station. The train to Hogwarts was due to leave in a quarter hour.

The prior evening and the entire morning was a blur to Draco. He had moved on automation, following Harry's lead. He had a vague recollection of breakfast and the taxi ride to the station. Harry had made it simpler by not trying to console him, or even talking to him other than a few instructions. Whether by instinct or experience, Draco was thankful for the silence, until now.

"I know," Harry responded. "I'm sorry. No one deserves to lose a parent."

"You-Know-Who killed him," Draco continued conversationally.

"I presumed as much."

Draco's hands tightened on the baggage cart handle, knuckles whitening. "I hate him."

"Hmm," Harry made a sound of acknowledgment. They arrived at the entrance to Platform 9 3/4 and waited as another wizard family used it.

"Do you mind terribly if I killed him?" Draco inquired, glancing over at Harry.

"Since that's already the plan, I suppose not," Harry replied. He gave Draco a measuring look. "You do realize that if you kill him, you become a murderer." Harry's gaze shifted and his eyes became unfocused. "Once you take that step, something inside you is forever gone and the way you view life is eternally altered."

Harry turned abruptly and started for the brick curving column between Platforms 9 and 10. "Wait for me after breakfast tomorrow in the Great Hall and we'll go over our timetables," he said over his shoulder before disappearing through the wall.

Draco followed more slowly. Harry's words had made him uncomfortable. He had expected cheers to wanting the Dark Lord dead. Acceptance of help at the very least. What he got instead was a second glimpse of what really lay beneath the mask Harry had worn all summer; the first being on Harry's birthday when he'd received Hermione's book.

Draco didn't want to know what made Harry tick. Harry was not his friend, nor did he want the other boy to be. Their relationship was a business arrangement,lessons for potions, and nothing more. Friendship required caring and he hated Potter... right?

"Get on the train, Malfoy," he mumbled to himself. Standing around wasn't solving anything and neither would missing the train to school. Besides, he was still angry and upset over his father's death and not thinking with a clear head. His feelings of animosity toward Harry would return to normal once he arrived at Hogwarts.

Or so he hoped.

Chapter 6