2. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
"And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer."
The sun was casting its gentle, golden rays across the parlor at Malfoy Manor, making the room look as if it had taken a bath in the shimmering light. Three days had passed since Draco Malfoy had gotten one of the most curious birthday presents he had ever received; a book, written by a muggle. Narcissa Malfoy, his mother, was sitting in the parlor room, having a simple breakfast. She was thinking very hard about the Mysterious M, who had thought to give her son a birthday present, even though she had assured him that using her real name would stop him from opening it at all.
In her head she was rehearsing a talk with her son that she hoped would come about very soon.
"You know, dear, you are getting a bit old now… going to be of age in a few years… Maybe it's best to start looking for a proper wife… You see… I was thinking… if M isn't a half-blood or something ridiculous like that, I think she would be a nice replacement for the Parkinson girl… assuming you wouldn't want to marry Pansy, of course… but it's completely up to you, just consider it, won't you dear?"
She was even considering telling Draco to write another letter to M, prompting her to start a nice correspondence that would grow to something Narcissa could work with in the matrimony region.
But her simple, quiet breakfast filled with marriage-ridden thoughts wouldn't last very long. She had just started on her toast when a nice rat-ta-ta-tat could be heard, coming from the direction of the large, almost floor-to-ceiling window on one side of the room.
Narcissa turned towards the sound, and was promptly met with the image of the Mysterious M's bird, Artemis, tapping on the window sill. From her spot on the couch she could see that just a solitary letter was tied to the bird's leg.
"Artemis!" she exclaimed, setting her plate of toast down on the tray and walking very quickly to the window sill. Yes, this is going very nicely, Narcissa thought to herself. I like a girl who will take matters into her own hands.
Draco, who had been working on a Potion's essay, ran from the study three doors down to see what the screeching was about. He found his mother standing at the sill, looking through the glass and studying the bird with a mixture of delight and interest.
She looked up when he entered the room, eyebrows collecting towards the center of her forehead. "This is strange," she said, beckoning him over. "Did you expect M to write back?" Not that she was objecting, of course.
"Not at all, mother," Draco said, his own pale eyebrows mimicking Narcissa's. "Are you sure that's Artemis?"
"Well of course it is! Have a good look at it, won't you Draco? There are very few birds like her," she replied, poking the glass with her index finger repeatedly. Artemis seemed to look indignant for a moment, and pulled her head back to avoid the silly woman who was stabbing at the window between them.
Draco looked closer. "I'm not sure, mother."
"Look closer," Narcissa demanded, grabbing the back of her son's head and thrusting it closer to the window. Draco wrenched out of her grip and shook his head furiously.
"Yes, yes, alright, I see it. But what did the bird bring with her?"
"It's just a letter this time."
"Odd," was all Draco could reply with.
"Well, what are you waiting for, Draco?" Narcissa demanded. "Open the window for the animal!"
Draoc did as he was told, muttering about the fact that his mother was closer to the window by many inches along the way. Artemis hopped into the house, head bobbing side to side as if to say "Well, took you long enough." She jumped onto Draco's arm, and to his utter surprise, rubbed her head against his arm before holding out her foot. Narcissia muttered a quick charm to cut the string tying the letter to her foot, and it fell into Draco's hand. It was a simple envelope, nothing too extravagant or expensive and sealed with wax but no seal.
"Open it then, dear," she prodded. "Go on."
"What happened to seeing if it was cursed?" Draco asked, giving his mother a look and raising an eyebrow as he made his way back to the sofa.
"It doesn't matter now dear, does it? Now that we know that M isn't really dangerous," Narcissa replied, following her son.
"Sure, mother," he replied, rolling his eyes and settling down on the couch. Mrs. Malfoy settled down on the seat across from him, hands on her knees and looking expectant. Artemis had flown off his arm and landed on the coffee table.
He tossed the envelope once in the air, testing for weight, and found that it wasn't very heavy at all. Maybe just one piece of parchment?
He ripped open the seal and found just what he had predicted, and though it was very long and had to be folded into thirds, only a fourth of the parchment had been written on.
"Read it aloud again, if you please, Draco," Narcissa said. So he did.
First of all, I am not a stalker; I merely have a good memory. And it's sort of hard not to hear Pansy Parkinson when she lets loose a loud one. As to who I am, maybe you'll figure it out some day.
Secondly, I am glad that you liked the book so much. I have a whole shelf of double copies of books that I already own, all of the classics, and some of the newer ones. I can give you some of them, if you'd like. What do you say? They'd all be muggle books, of course, so I hope that fact doesn't bother you too much. Oh, and I'm sorry that I almost put you in that much trouble. But what's life without a little danger every once in a while?
Answer back quickly; I've already picked out a book for you!
He, of course, excluded that last couple sentences about the books being muggle-written and looked up.
"This girl must really like you, Draco, to be offering you an entire shelf-full of books," Narcissa said with a cheeky smile. "Now that you've read another letter, have you any ideas to who this charming young lady might be?"
For a fraction of a millisecond Draco considered telling her his theory of Hermione Granger, but quickly decided against it, knowing that his mother would stop all communication if he thought at all that it might be her.
"I have no earthly idea, mother," he lied smoothly.
"Well go upstairs and write back, Draco," she said. "Oh, and lunch will be on in two hours."
"Alright then, mother," he replied, taking the letter and bringing it back up to his room.
Narcissa smiled to herself as she watched her son step out of the room, bringing her cup of tea up to her lips.
She wouldn't realize the cost of playing matchmaker until much, much later.
Draco entered his room feeling a mix of things. For one, curiosity. For another, excitement. And for a last one, confusion. But he would have time to sort those feelings out later.
The Slytherin sat down at his desk like he had three days prior. He pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill and got to work.
You are definitely right about Pansy's scream.
Thank you for the offer; it was very much appreciated by me and my mother (Merlin help me). Not this time, but the next time (if you think that there will be a next time) would you mind sending your owl to my bedroom and not the living room? The fewer books my mother sees that don't look like wizardings ones, the better. Oh, and one question: My mother and I both thought that you might be a girl; are you? If you aren't… erm… no offense intended.
Anticipating a new book,
Short, sweet, and to the point, Draco thought as he put his quill back into the well.
Now that he was finished, he could sort through those feelings that were running laps around his brain a few minutes before.
The first to deal with, was, of course, curiosity.
As much as he hated to admit it, there were two things that were prodding him to continue writing to the mysterious M. One: The books. He was very curious as to what kind of books M was going to send to him, muggle-written or not. Two: He was also very curious about M. Who was she, and why did she care so much to give him books? He thought that maybe, if they continued their correspondence long enough, he might be able to figure out who she was, or she might even straight-out tell him.
The second was excitement. Why was he feeling excitement? He was going to get muggle books (books written by muggles, just to clarify) by a complete stranger who he seems to hate, though he doesn't know who she is. Why should he be excited?
Draco came up with two reasons, again, why he felt so excited. One: The danger of slipping muggle books right under his mother's nose, he found, was very exciting and worth the suspense to see how long he could trick her. Now, even though Draco loved his mother very much and would've never asked for a different one, everyone likes to play tricks on their parents, just to see if he or she is clever enough to pull a fast one on those who had given them life. Two: Someone had actually cared to give him a birthday gift that wasn't ridiculously extravagant or tacky. It was just perfect, and it felt like that person knew what they were doing as they picked. It made him feel, well, cared about, and as much as he would deny it to any student at Hogwarts, or to anyone, for that matter, Draco liked feeling cared about just as much as the next person.
Now, the final: confusion. And that, he supposed, was the most important emotion of all.
Why was M sending him birthday gifts to him if she hated him? And who in Merlin's name was she, anyway? Draco couldn't remember any girl from Hogwarts that had a name that started with an M that hated him. Most of the girls that hated him did so because wither A: they were half-blood, muggle-born, or just plain-stupid so he had made fun of them, or B: because he had locked lips with them and then dumped them unceremoniously.
There was always the possibility that it was Granger, and she was just using M as a cover-up. It did make sense in a way, because if Draco had come up with the Granger-theory before he had opened the first gift, he would've no doubt avoided opening it. Also, Granger was the only person who'd he'd think to give him a book for a gift, much less a muggle one. But then he'd think back to 3rd year, when she had slapped him across the face with a look in her eyes that he would never forget. It was a mix of hatred, anger, and disgust, and he would never say this to any one, either, but he had been terrified and transfixed at it at the same time.
Draco shook his head vigorously after this last thought, wishing it had never come up, and tried to focus more on action, rather than his own thoughts and feelings.
So he put the letter in an envelope and sealed it with the Malfoy crest, and then went back to the living room where his mother was still sitting. But instead of eating breakfast, she was reading a book.
"That took a bit long for just one little note," Narcissa said, not even looking up from the book's very dusty, very yellow pages.
Draco walked up to Artemis, who was still perched on the coffee table. "I got… distracted." He fit the letter in the owl's beak.
"Just… nothing, really," Draco said indecisively as he carried the bird to the window sill. She nudged the window pane open and flew out.
"That's really very vague, dear," Narcissa commented absent-mindedly. "Mind explaining?"
Draco hesitated. "I was trying to figure out who M was." Which was true, really; he just wasn't telling his mother everything that had been going through his mind. Which wasn't really lying at all.
"No," he replied.
"Alright then, dear, now you're free to do whatever until lunch." Narcissa said pleasantly.
Draco nodded and left the room, heading towards the back door that led out to the garden. Propped against the wall right next to the door was his broom, the Nimbus Two-thousand-and-one. When it came to brooms, Draco had just sort of given up after Potter had gotten his Firebolt. And besides; the broom had served him faithfully for three years, and he had become sort of attached to it. He could never beat Potter on it, (not that he would be admitting that, either; he was just full of public denial scenarios today) he knew, not with that Firebolt, but he could still fly brilliantly on it, anyway.
He picked up the Nimbus and heaved it over his shoulder, opening the door and stepping out into the summer air.
Draco found it very calming to just hop on his broom and zoom around the gardens, thinking of nothing in particular or maybe about something that was really bothering him. Like when they first heard that his father was in jail. Draco zoomed around the garden, trying to concentrate only on going as fast as he possibly could, and not on the fact that his father was incarcerated in one of the foulest places on earth.
But now, right this second, he was ready to forget all of that for now and just enjoy flying. After all, it was his favorite thing to do in the world.
Nothing very exciting was going on in the Malfoy house for the next few days. Draco found that he had finished all of his Hogwarts homework quite earlier than he thought he would. That was probably because that was all he did throughout the day, besides read for maybe an hour a day and ride his broomstick for a bit longer than that. For the quite a while, Draco thought that M would never reply at all, which was strange because M had told him to reply quick and that she had already picked out a title for him.
On the third day since he had sent his reply to M, he was almost worried; almost being the keyword. Malfoys don't worry about anyone else but them, and their families.
On the fourth day, July 12th, Draco hadn't expected a reply to come very soon, since the time before M had replied in two days.
On the fifth, he began to lose hope that she would ever reply at all. Narcissa, who had been fairly bright during the summer despite their difficult time with the Ministry, had her mood dampened, if slightly, by the prospect of her son never getting any further in his communication with M.
"Maybe you should write again, Draco," she said to him quietly in the afternoon of the fifth day.
Her son just shook her head. "She's obviously lost interest in me."
Draco was wrong, of course. M had not in fact lost interest in him; she merely had a lot more on her mind, I would guess. That was a busy summer for her and her friends.
So on the sixth day, while Narcissa was drinking her tea during her breakfast, she heard, once again, the tapping noise on the window. She turned around and nearly shrieked with delight. She would have, if Malfoys shrieked. She settled, instead, for a soft smile of anticipation.
"Draco!" she sang. "Something's here for you!"
Draco was currently in his room, and as soon as he heard his mother's announcement, he stood up from his desk very slowly, walked across his movement sluggishly, and tried as hard as he could to try and act like he didn't care at all.
"Draco, dear, if you don't get this package right now I'm going to make sure I don't have any grandchildren!" Narcissa called in a shrill, sing-song voice.
He began to hurry forward, almost slamming the door behind him as his went. Inwardly, Draco was just excited that he now had an excuse to go faster.
The Slytherin hurried down the stairs, trying to take them three at a time without killing himself, and arrived at the doorway of the parlor room practically devouring the air.
"Thank you, dear," Narcissa said with a sickly-sweet grin. "Artemis is on the sill."
Draco walked over and opened the pane mechanically; it was sort of becoming routine. Artemis hopped on his arm and blinked at him affectionately; or, at least, that's what Draco thought it looked like. He exhaled as he shook his head furiously. He was being delusional.
"Open it, then!" Narcissa hissed, unbeknownst to her son picturing a wedding in white and silver, with a faceless bride, very beautiful, of course, with her son leaning in…
"I am!" Draco replied, hurriedly pulled the string typing the parcel (Because it was a parcel this time, not a letter). Artemis quickly flew over to the coffee table and began waiting patiently for the two humans before him to finish their business and show her to where the treats were.
"Read the note first, Draco," Narcissa reminded her son before he ripped into the package.
He set down the little parcel on the coffee table and pulled out the envelope. It was attached to the package with a strip of clear material that was sticky on one side but not the other. The Slytherin ripped open the envelope and pulled out a piece of parchment.
Alright, I'll start off my saying yes, I do happen to be a girl. What does that have to do with anything, anyway?
Now that we've got that all cleared up… Here's the next book! It's an old favorite of mine; I'm sure you'll see why. If you just tell me which window is yours, I can make sure Artemis gets to that one and not wherever she's dropping it off now. Enjoy, and please write back very quickly!
Yours in correspondence,
P.S. I apologize for the terrible wait; I've had one hell of a week, pardon my language.
Again, when he read it aloud to his mother, he omitted all the parts that he didn't want Narcissa to hear. When he looked up again, she was grinning at him.
"Well, open the parcel then! What book did she pick?"
Draco ripped open the paper around the book, which seemed very small this time, trying to keep his hands from trembling with excitement. He really tried to look nonchalant about it, but it really was very hard.
It was another book, of course, with the title The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the author was in fact a man (he was assuming it was a man) by the name of C. S. Lewis; one he had never heard of before. On the cover there was the image of what he guessed to be a satyr on it, standing in the snow with a white umbrella, a parcel, and a red scarf.
"Another half-blood?" Narcissa asked as Draco handed her the book. She lifted an eyebrow.
"Er—yes," Draco replied, trying not to look nervous.
Narcissa sighed. "You know, your father would never have let you read this," she said.
"And if—when you're father returns, you can't keep these books in the library."
"Of course, mother," he replied.
She sighed again. "Go and read it then. But don't spend the whole day reading again, please; go outside and ride on your Nimby—"
"Nimbus, then… for a while and get some fresh air."
It did not take very long for Draco to go through this one, either, though he spent less time reading it than he did Eragon.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a beautifully written book, with wonderful imagery and really thought-out characters. But as he read it, he thought to himself, There are Susan's, Lucy's, Edmund's, Peter's, and White Witches everywhere. And then, sitting at his desk a few minutes later, he took out a piece of parchment and split it into five columns, each titled with one of those five characters from the book.
Most of the Slytherins were Edmunds, Draco found as he wrote his list; good people, deep down inside, he supposed, but really rotten on the outside (well, more like deep deep deep down inside, for most). He'd like to imagine Weasley as the White Witch, just to have a laugh, but knew he was probably more like Peter. Potter was, too, always acting like he knew best and playing the role of rooster to his chicks, or however you want to put it.
All the Gryffindor girls were a cross between Edmund and Susan, he thought, petty at times and only caring of themselves at others, but really quite brave and determined when they needed to be. Except for Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger, of course. Ginny Weasley, he thought, reminded him of a cross between Susan and Lucy. She was a right little spitfire at times, like Susan could be, and very commanding (again like Susan), but she had a pure goodwill and curiosity that only Lucy seemed to have of the bunch.
Draco would've liked to peg Granger as a Susan, obviously, what with being a bit snooty and bossy, but really, if he was ready to accept it, she was more like Lucy, what with her gentleness with those struggling with themselves, and hunger to do the right thing. So very slowly, almost grudgingly, he wrote her down as a Lucy.
In the school, there really weren't any White Witches, the closest being Umbridge, of course. The column was kept empty for a long while until Draco had a strange, terrifying thought; Voldemort was the Witch. With a trembling hand, he took his quill, and under Umbridge, he wrote the Dark Lord's name.
Despite what his father told him, Draco squeezed in a new column at the end and wrote Aslan at the top, and Dumbledore underneath it. Yes, that was inevitable.
The next morning Draco still had a chapter or two left of the book, so before he went down to breakfast he finished it up, not feeling quite satisfied about the ending. He didn't think it was very fair that, after all those years serving as Kings and Queens of Narnia, they would end up back at the Professor's house, with only their memories to remind them of their reign. But nonetheless, he enjoyed it whole-heartedly. Muggles may have had many misconceptions of how magic really worked, but they had stunning imaginations and a good way of writing them out.
Draco climbed out of bed and walked across the room to his writing desk and pulled out one of the drawers. It was completely empty except for one book; Eragon. He carefully set the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on top of it, closed the drawer, and sat down at the desk.
The blonde took out a piece of parchment and a quill, dipped it in his inkwell, and began to write again.
I enjoyed this title very much, and I am glad that you sent it to me. Just a question; do you think you would've done as Edmund did, and betray your family and whatnot to the White Witch, if she promised you something that you really wanted? I'm not meaning something silly like desserts and hot chocolate, but something you would really value. Just a question; feel free not to answer it. And why did I ask you if you were a girl? Because I was curious. I probably shouldn't have read that part aloud to my mother; knowing her, she's probably already hearing wedding bells or something ridiculous like that. (Praying that last bit doesn't scare you away)
Another thing: who says "Yours in correspondence" anymore?
P.S. I live on the east side of the manor, three windows across from the left and three up from the bottom. Does that help?
Draco folded the piece of parchment into thirds, stuck it in an envelope, and sealed it with the Malfoy crest. Then he headed downstairs, where his mother was starting breakfast without him, as per usual.
"Did you finish it overnight again, Draco?" she asked.
"No, I actually finished it this morning," he replied. "Exercising my power of self-control."
"Good," Narcissa said. "After breakfast, write a note back to M, would you?"
"I already did," said Draco, holding up the envelope up for his mother to see.
"Well then sit down next to me and have your breakfast; you can go back to Artemis in the Owlery afterwards."
The next morning Narcissa Malfoy was in the parlor again, sipping her tea and humming softly. Presently, she was wondering whether it was worth the money to get extra snacks from Honeydukes after the wedding dinner or not, and was just about to come to a decision when here was a little tap from the window pane again. Her breath hitched in her throat with excitement. This was going exactly as she had hoped.
"Draco! There's something here for you again!" she called towards the direction of the stairs.
She set her cup on the tray, stood up, and faced the window, only to see that the tapping sound was being made by a bird who was definitely not Artemis.
It was a Great Grey, looking imposing and fierce on her windowsill, with just a little scrap of parchment in its beak.
"Oh, my," she whispered, recognizing the owl at once.
Narcissa ran to the window and opened the pane, letting the Great Grey hop through. She took the parchment from its beak. It was folded in half, then in half again.
Mrs. Malfoy opened it slowly, dreading what she was about to read. But when her eyes scanned the page, she wasn't sure whether to feel relieved, overjoyed, scared, or nervous.
"So fast mother? I'd think it would've taken a few—" Draco froze as he entered the room, catching the conflicted look on his mother's face as she stared at the piece of parchment
"Mother, what is it?"
"It's Snape," she said. "He's sent me a letter." She looked up, eyes wide. "He's going to break them all out of Azkaban."
It did not need saying that "he" did not refer to Snape; it referred to Lord Voldemort.
I am so very sorry to you guys, for keeping you waiting for more than an entire month! Nearly everyone asked for a quick update, and that's exactly what I didn't do.
It took me a while to get into the swing of this chapter, and I found myself going back to check things many times and go through their letter again and again. But thank you for coming back, even though I'm sure you guys had almost forgotten this story.
One question; I am not very happy with the summary of this story. Do you guys like it? Do you have another one you could suggest? If so, that would be great!
Thank you to my lovely reviewers: Nicole0LiveLaughLove0, Ignorance-Your New Best Friend, LadyBookworm80, winsome wonder, ncislover1111, and the anonymous Shara.
Please leave a review, and I'll try to have the next chapter up much sooner than the last!