Song Bird Sacrifice
There was a fever, and it was catching.
It started with fear, caught by Lucius in the heat of things. In the rush and desire for power, in the desperation to continue on the Malfoy legacy. Taking on a mask, taking Narcissa's hand, having a child. Fearful with every move he made, fear turned to anger and anger turned to hate.
There was a fever, and it continued to spread with the hate that bloomed in Draco in response to his father. In response to the suffering, the sadness welling up in his heart and the jealousy of other children's happiness. The hatred in Draco, the suffering, turned to a fever that his mother caught. A fever that could be easily cured with a smile or a laugh.
Watching her husband pick up the key to the liquor cabinet more and more often, watching her son's content expression turn to a frown. Watching the shaky anxiety that ate at her child like a disease. Wondering most nights, if she could save this family.
Wondering if she could cure this fever.
Draco watched with placid eyes that were bobbing in his sockets from old tears welled up beneath his eyes that left a constant burning in his nostrils. The same thought repeated itself over and over in his head, like a rhythmic torturer.
Could he do it? Could he do it?
He had to do it. Had to do it.
It brought on fear, a tangible pain in his heart that couldn't be described, and a sinking sensation.
It choked him in the middle of class, it made his hand shake so much that he couldn't write with his quill and left illegible markings across parchment after parchment.
This mental torture, which had become normal in Potions, was interrupted one day by the opening of a door and the soft footsteps of Albus Dumbledore.
A rare occurrence, he came down the aisle way in flesh and bone, making his way towards a loyal Severus. Or so Dumbledore would assume.
Draco watched with a feverish haze what was happening before him, shaking and labored breath. Dumbledore looked to him and made a motion with his hand, but all he could hear was a constant buzzing sound.
Draco slowly stood with wide and curious eyes, but realizing how uncharacteristic this may seem and provoke further suspicion, he blinked and attempted to force himself to a calm. But if Dumbledore was wise of his attempts at-...
His heart raced.
No, it'd be a good thing.
His heart stilled in his chest as he re-taught himself to breathe.
If Dumbledore were to find out...it'd be over..it'd finally all be over.
The image of the small bird dead in the vanishing cabinet came to mind.
No more song bird sacrifices.
Draco made his way to Dumbledore's side who lead him out of the room. It was a silent walk to his office, but the curiosity piqued inside of him and it was impossible to follow him in the suspense.
"Why do you need me? What is this?" Draco whispered, his usual harsh tone significantly softer.
Vulnerability noted and in check, Dumbledore looked down to him with soft eyes, though dull and absent of any twinkle that other students may have noted being a characteristic of the old man.
Dumbledore was silent, "It's alright, Draco." Was the only response he gave after what felt like forever.
And what seemed to be such a simple reply brought a certain calm to Draco. Whatever this was...he said it was alright. And though he didn't particularly like Dumbledore, he knew he was a more trustworthy man than his father and he could take his word with something a little heavier than a grain of salt.
His office smelled like strong spice and he brought Draco to an overstuffed red chair sitting opposite of his desk. He sat carefully, no smile evident on his face. Just a dull look of pragmatic guilt and waited for Draco to take the seat offered to him.
"I received a letter this morning." Dumbledore begun, "I'd be happy to give it to you, but let me explain it first."
Draco didn't respond, a tightness in his chest building, just waiting for some keyword to provide release. Something to convince him he wasn't going to be sent off to Azkaban. A burning sensation bloomed from the Dark Mark and a throbbing burst somewhere within his head.
"In order for friendship to thrive, Draco, a form of trust is instilled in each of the persons. A trust that should only be strengthened to keep the friendship alive. To strengthen this trust, it's necessary to do whatever you might could to be helpful. It's because of tightly threaded friendships that I've been notified so early of your father's...death, Draco."
Draco's eyes blinked unnaturally.
"Yes. As well, some news that would've come even later is your mother's current absence. She's gone missing."
"This morning, and because of how early this news is, I'm unable to tell you how. They're almost positive it was a heart attack. Draco, it's a hefty burden to tell this news, but even a harder bearing to try and accept this. I understand how you must feel. But never feel helpless or lost, you've always got a home at Hogwarts. I'm here to help you, by yourself, this news can be more than just overwhelming."
"Yes. Unfortunately. I am...I am sorry. It's a shock to everyone."
"And missing. You said my mother, that she was..."
"Missing. There's no signs of kidnap. As a current consequence...you'll be staying in our care at Hogwarts for the time being. Though winter break is nearing."
"Where will I go during the break? During the summer? Will I stay here?"
"No...by then the authorities will want a suitable home for you. They've begun to ask your relatives. Your parents...they never left any written form of command who you should belong to in these events."
"I don't need a guardian. I'm seven-" Draco spoke fast, his words as rapid as the wings of a fly.
"Seventeen, yes. And legally, not an adult."
"Professor Snape's my Godfather. It's who my father would've wanted." Draco continued in his trepid ramble.
"Yes, in your father's words he was to be appointed as your legal guardian. The Ministry will look into this after going through all your relatives.
Draco stared off nervously.
"Doesn't my say count in anything?" The question was more of a plea and a whisper than an actual question.
He looked to Dumbledore.
Then looked down to his hands.
Did he want Snape as a guardian? Or was he following his father's orders again? Even after death?
"With the Ministry, yes. In court, you'll have say. Outside of that, these people will do what they see best until you complain. You see, the process is difficult and arduous. Considering you have no legal godfather or godmother, and no immediate family enlisting to take you, it falls onto the written laws, and the ministry can often be very devoted to these laws. For example-"
Draco's pink-tinged eyes turned from him, staring with shaky breath at his trembling hands. Dumbledore's voice became a distant echo, a buzzing noise like the whispers of an insect.
When he blinked and the buzzing begun to clear, all he heard was, "Draco? Draco, are you alright?"
Draco looked up slowly and Dumbledore cleared his throat, blinking and allowing his eyes to stay shut for a few moments. When he re-opened them, they stared directly into Draco.
"I know you're feeling grief and...confusion perhaps. I'll give you a little while to process this information if you'd like to be alone. I should have an answer as to your new living arrangements very soon, and perhaps that could grant you some feeling of security, Mr. Malfoy,-"
"No. Don't...Not Mr. Malfoy. Mr. Malfoy was my father..." He whispered sullenly as he stood from his seat, eyes glancing from Dumbledore's glasses to the wooden floors.
"...I apologize, Draco."
Draco turned from the seat and with heavy footsteps, exited the room.
Draco looked for that spark of gold against the suns intermittent rays that came through the clouds, just a flash of something shiny so he could make his attempt, hopefully just catch the damned thing so the game could end, and go into his dorm to sleep or stare at the ceiling. One of the two. Either way.
Draco held his hand firmly around the wooden neck of his broom, scanning the skies and then gave a glance at Potter who seemed just as lost as he was in the mix of things.
It hardly seemed appropriate.
A dead and missing family. And he was playing a game. People cheering for him. People smiling and laughing. People booing him. People hoping he'd fall off his broom.
It hardly seemed appropriate at all.
His hands were attached like flesh to bone to that broomstick though, holding firmly and legs pressed against the sides, ready to chase after that golden snitch.
Then a flash of something against a greying cloud caught his eye and before he could decipher if it was truly the snitch or trick of his imagination, he was off, at full speed, toward the speeding golden flash of light.
He eyed Potter just before he had the brief chance of either detouring around him for the possibility of avoiding his gaze and therefore attention or he could blatantly right in front of him. To others it'd look cocky.
He chose to fly right past the tip of his nose, his robe brushing across his cheekbones. But he did it for other purposes than just a cheap thrill.
On his tail, as expected, was Potter. Coming up next to him with excellent skill. In his eyesight was the snitch. Draco had his hand out to attempt to catch the snitch, it was too far and Potter was gaining on him, matching his speed.
Draco looked at him with a blank expression and Harry mustered his best glare, then upon realizing his expression wasn't being matched, he settled for a face of confusion.
"Take it?" Potter replied with an incredulous look, "If I...If you let me, Griffydnor wins, you understand the rules of quidditch, don't you?"
Draco lowered his eyebrows and gave a seething, "Yes."
"Have you received a massive brain injury, Malfoy?"
"Have you? Take the damned thing, Potter. I just want this match to be over."
"Why're you still chasing after it then?"
"Wouldn't look very good if I blatantly let you have it, would it?"
"...No, I suppose not. Then you're alright with this? Slytherin won't be happy I imagine."
"I don't care, Potter. Take the-"
"How about your father? He won't like to hear you lost."
He was being considerate. Malfoy knew this despite his enemy-ship with this boy he liked to call bastard. With all quarrels aside, Potter was trying to offer a fair competition to him, offer a second, third and forth chance to reconsider his decision.
But the words didn't sit well.
"Take the snitch." His voice was lower now, reserved and defeated, "Just take it."
Potter gave him a long stare, turned to look back at the snitch one last time. Draco's gaze didn't move from his eyes, they were still and reminded Harry of the calm before a storm.
He snatched the winged orb in a single reaching grasp, Draco brushing against him for good theatrical measure.
"Harry Potter catches the snitch! Griffyndor wins!"
The sounds rang in Draco ears and with a heavy heart, but lighter with the prospect of the whole affair ending, he begun to descend.
"Never thought I'd say this but...Thanks, Malfoy."
"Bask in your glory, Potter." Draco replied quietly, though the menace was lacking and it came off as almost a playful joke, Harry couldn't help but gain a tiny smile and give just the smallest of a curious eye at the boy.
Draco landed on two feet, swung his broom over his shoulder despite the questioning from his team mates and the empty glares. It was somewhat obvious he hadn't given it his all, and they'd been asking just moments before the game what was 'with the new sulky attitude? Trying to attract more women, Captain?' Then they all laughed. Malfoy had simply walked away and seeing their captain didn't enjoy the humor, they immediately stopped and put on their straightest faces, scared for their position on the team.
Harry, held by the hands of his team mates who were in an uproar of hysterical happiness, couldn't help but glance just one last time at the boy who'd simply given him the snitch, watching as he made every step.
Draco exited the playing field without a single glance at the boy who lived and without a single word to anyone.
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Next chapter speeds up quite a bit, just for an FYI.