3. The Hobbit, J R R Tolkien

"It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it."

July 16th

There weren't many times when Draco Malfoy was lost for words. It very seldom happened, because Draco liked to always have some sort of witty comeback up his sleeve, especially when he was dealing with Weasley or someone along those lines. And even though sometimes they weren't the best of retorts, they were still something, and preferable compared to just a dumb silence that would make him feel as if he wasn't intelligent enough to come up with a clever reply.

But this was one of those rare times, and Draco was well aware of how strange the silence felt to him, bearing down on his brain and giving him a hard time thinking of something to say. Isn't it funny how when you need the words the most, they purposely hide in the corner of your brain, refusing to com out?

So he just stood there, frozen, staring at his mother with a look that was in between surprise and fear. "Let me see that, please," he finally managed to get out of his mouth, though it sounded hoarse and weak. Narcissa handed him the note, barely seeming to notice her son's sudden voice change. She seemed deep in thought. Draco scanned it quickly, then again, and then once more, to make sure that he had read everything right.

Narcissa and Draco,

He told me that I should tell you what he plans to do in a week's time. He wants you to know that he and the others that haven't gotten thrown into Azkaban (your sister, Narcissa, for one) are going to get them out and round up the dementors in one go. But in return he has asked—more like ordered—housing at Malfoy Manor. A refusal is not in the question, you two. The Dark Lord assures that nothing will go wrong.

Stay safe.
-the Half-Blood Prince

"What the hell is the 'Half-Blood Prince'?" Draco asked as if the rest of the information in the letter meant nothing to him. But really, that was all he could think of saying at the moment. "Some sort of code name?" What a stupid question, the blonde chided himself. I really hate when I draw a blank.

"Sort of," his mother replied, apparently oblivious to both her son's sudden stupidity or his frustration with it. "But Draco, the Dark Lord… he's to be coming here. To our house. He'll live here."

Draco shivered at the thought of having that… that… monstrosity sleep in the same building as he. Then he quickly banished the thought from his brain, pushing as far away from his conscious mind as possible. Even the simplest of thoughts were dangerous when you had a master so skilled in the art of Legilimency.

"There's no way to prevent it, Snape said?" he then asked; almost pleaded.

"No, he was quite clear about that, Draco," she replied, whipped the letter out of her son's hands, as if annoyed at his reaction. "But think… your father; he'll be out. He'll be out of Azkaban, and back… back home…"

And Narcissa, who had been quite composed for the past few weeks and had even smiled and laughed while they had gotten the last few letters, seemed on the verge of tears at that moment, as if she wouldn't be able to hold herself together any longer.

"He'll be back…" she whispered, and then turned to her son.

"Aren't you happy, Draco?" Narcissa demanded, for it seemed as if Draco was taking this information in at the same speed as his mother. But while she was on the brink of joyous, relieved tears, Draco was silent and contemplative.

It would be strange to have his father back, he decided, after living in such peace without him. For one, Draco wouldn't have Lucius breathing down his back every minute of every day, barking orders on how to do things, and when to do things, and what not to do, and why he was doing it wrong. For another, his mother seemed to idolize his father, but he didn't, of course. There was no doubt in his mind of his father's brilliance, but Draco wasn't blind. He could tell that most arguments at Malfoy manor started with something that Lucius had said, either about the Death Eaters, or something elitist, and Narcissa had asked him to stop, and Lucius had refused to. That, or it was about how to spend the money. Though it seemed a sort of pathetic reason to be even the least bit happy about his father's absence, Narcissa Malfoy now had cart blanche, almost, of their family's money, and she could choose what to and what not to spend it on.

But whatever difficulties his mother and father were having between themselves, Narcissa Malfoy never ceased to almost worship the ground on her husband's feet. The level of her devotion to her spouse was almost disturbing, and it made Draco's palm's tingle with apprehension every time he thought about it.

"Draco?" Narcissa said again, as it appeared that the blonde had left the question hanging in between them for longer than expected.

"Yeah, Mum, it's going to be great to have him back," Draco said quickly, as if making up for some blunder. "Excuse me," he said after another second or two, "but I'll be in my room."

"Yes, alright, Draco, I'll be down here, with the house elves, preparing for your father's arrival," Narcissa said.

He climbed up the stairs to his room and pulled out a quill and a piece of parchment. The Slytherin had to write all of this down, get all of his ideas out onto paper, because he thought if he kept it all in his head, it might explode.

My father's going to get out of Azkaban, he wrote, furiously fast. He's going to get out of Azkaban, and I don't' know how I'm supposed to feel about that. Is it wrong, what he's been doing? Is it right? Is it worth it? What if everything goes wrong and he's stuck in Akzaban for another eternity? And would I feel a shred of happiness at that? Should I feel guilty if I think I would? And the Dark Lord; he's coming. He's going to stay. What a revolting thought! But how am I supposed to keep anything secret from him anymore? What if he asks to search my mind for some random reason? Am I supposed to be able to try and keep things away from him? Another thought suddenly came to him.

And is he going to be able to find out about M that way? How terrible that would be… for me, mostly, because he has no idea who M is. And I would probably get into loads of trouble, because M is obviously not really on our side, if she's reading muggle books, which obviously shows she hasn't got any "good, Death eater, pureblood pride". Would he be able to find her? I don't really want that to happen, though…

Draco put his quill down and rubbed at his temples, trying to fend off the oncoming headache that he could feel creeping around his skull, poised to attack. He really wished that a note from M would come and take his mind off things.

When did Snape say that they were coming back?

Oh, yes, in a week's time. M should have sent him something by then. And after that, he'd just have to ask her to stop sending letters to him.

Might as well not risk it, Draco thought to himself, still hunched over his desk though he wasn't writing anything anymore. Better not launch myself out the window when there's a perfectly good door on the other side of the room.

But he really didn't want to give up M and her sincere, real letters and good books. Even though he had only read two so far. But that didn't take away from the fact that her letters felt more genuine than Pansy's whining, simpering, annoying ones that were filled with false compliments and often sprayed with perfume and tied with pink ribbon.

And though they hadn't been talking very long, Draco could feel things about her that he could never sense from a girl before, even one that he had known for a decade and talked to almost every day.

For example, he could tell that she had a nice sense of humor. Even though the letters didn't show it very much, just by the way that she wrote, Draco could tell that M could crack a few nice jokes. And she was pretty intelligent.

I mean, it's not often that you see a teenager sign their letters with yours in correspondence, Draco thought. And sometimes, the way she wrote had a sort of haughty air to it, as if she were used to being right.

And, of course, she had to be kind, to not like him very much and yet still extend a hand and give him a birthday present. I wouldn't do that in a million years, Draco said to himself honestly.


For the next two days, Narcissa Malfoy decided that Malfoy Manor needed another cleaning, even though she strove to keep the place spotless every single minute of every single day.

So she sent all of the house elves into a cleaning frenzy, making sure that they dusted all of candelabras and chandeliers (even though most of them were dazzlingly shiny anyway), rubbed down the stove and all the other metallic surfaces in the kitchen, replaced all the wood in the fireplaces (all twenty seven of them), cleaned all the sheets, and then cleaned them again, and every other Godforsaken chore that had ever been invented to make one's house pretty.

For the most part, Draco stayed hidden in his room, scribbling on scrap pieces of parchment, trying to come up with a suitable reply for M that she could read and not be offended about. He was either doing that or he was outside, riding his broom around the garden, the latter being the less likely of the two.

It was on July 19th, three days after Snape had sent them the letter, when Artemis appeared at Draco's window. At that point in time, Draco had not been in his room; it had been one of those moments that he hadn't locked himself inside to write and think, and when he returned some twenty minutes later the barn owl had decided to make itself at home on his windowsill.

"Artemis!" Draco said, almost dropping his broom. He carefully placed it against his desk and hurried over to the sill. When he opened it the bird jumped onto his arm, as usual, and nipped his arm sharply with her beak, as if reprimanding him for not getting there faster.

The blonde laughed. "Alright, alright, come here, you silly owl," he said, carrying her over to the desk. She let out a deep hoot, and Draco was quick to shush her.

"My mother can't know that you're here," he whispered conspiratorially. "So you've got to keep quiet, okay Artemis?"

For the shortest of moments Draco thought that the bird had nodded her head.

Draco set her on the desk and delicately took the letter and the parcel from her talons. "Thank you, Artemis," he said. "I'll just be a moment, so there's no need to go down to the owlery."

The bird seemed to stare up at him indignantly, as if saying, "But where are my treats?"

"Erm…" Draco rummaged through the drawers of his desk, finally taking out a little package of owl treats. "Hm," he said, "I don't remember how these got here." He shrugged, poured a few into his hand, and gave them to Artemis.

Then he turned his attention back to the parcel and the letter, opening the letter first.


I do hope this gets to you the right way. If not; my sincere apologies. As to your question: No. I would never betray my family or my friends. What a horrible thought. Would you?
And no, you're not scaring me away. Actually, you just made my day. I didn't think Narcissa Malfoy would be that interested in your wedding plans that she'd be willing to pair you up with someone that you have no idea of their identity, just like that. I think I scared my mum, though, when I laughed so loudly :) (And if you don't know what that is, turn the parchment ninety degrees)
And for your information, I say "yours in correspondence", and if it annoys you so much, I think I may just use it every time I send a letter. What now!

So here the next book; another classic. Hope you enjoy it!


Draco chuckled to himself softly. He was going to miss writing to this girl.

He sat down at his desk and took out his quill and parchment, and tried, once again, to write a respectable letter saying he couldn't continue writing anymore.

Dear M,

I'm sorry about this, but I can't continue to write to you anymore. Thank you for all the books; I'm enjoying reading them. And thanks for a nice start to my summer. You gave me something to look forward to every once in a while.
Again, I'm sorry I've got to stop. But would you do the favor of telling me who you are when we get back to Hogwarts?


There. That would have to do it, he decided.

The Slytherin stuck the parchment into an envelope, and looked to his right, where he could've sworn Artemis was before. But the barn owl was gone for the moment, and Draco swiveled around as quickly as he could to see where she would've gone.

She was on his bed, a little scrap of parchment in her beak. Draco's eyes widened as he recognized it.

"No, you stupid owl, you can't have that!" he yelled, dropping his letter to the desk and lunging towards the bird.

Artemis leapt off the bed as soon as he landed on it, sweeping towards the desk while giving a great hoot of outrage.

Draco rounded back on the bird, making another grab for her, but by that time she had already grabbed his letter to M and was flying for the door, seeing as the window pane had been closed.

The blonde cursed at himself profusely as he realized he hadn't closed the door all the way when he first walked in, and Artemis soared through the opening and out into the hall way.

Draco chased after her, realizing where Artemis was heading: the owlery, where the windows were glass-less, and where she could make a clean getaway.

Nevertheless, he chased after her, sprinted as fast as he could up stairs and around corners, nearly killing himself a few times in the process.

He leapt into the owlery just in time to see Artemis taking off from one of the windows, the letter and the piece of parchment trapped in her beak.

"BLAST!" Draco roared as she went, running up to the windowsill. From there he let out a long, boisterous string of curses.

When his voice began to hurt, he sank to the floor, ignoring what mess he was landing in, and raked his hands through his hair in frustration, several times.

For you see, if you haven't already suspected, Artemis had taken the parchment on which Draco had scribbled down all his thoughts on after reading Snape's letter; the one describing his situation in annoying detail.

Mum's going to murder me. Violently. And then dance on my grave.


Whoo! It's up in less than a month! But, then again, this chapter is probably the shortest of the three. It was supposed to be a lot longer, but I decided to cut it off here and leave you guys with a bit of a cliffhanger. I don't think any chapter will get any shorter than this, though, I think.

To krazykiki: I didn't get to M's point of view in this chapter, but I'll have a bit of it in the next one ^_^

I've decided to change the title of this story to "Yours in Correspondence". If you disagree, just leave me a review telling me so. But unless I get a majority of objections, the next time you get an alert for this story, it'll be "Yours in Correspondence". Just so you know and don't think, "Hey, I never alerted this story! Wtf?"

A big thank you to all of my brilliant reviewees, favoritiers, and alerters! You guys are too amazing for words.

Yours truly,