“Mr. Malfoy? I assume you have come under dire conditions, considering you are suppose to be on patrols.” McGonagall stated through pursed lips.
“I’ve swapped my schedule with Pucey for tonight, Professor.” The boy walked further into the office.
“What, I am required to ask, is your purpose for coming at such a time?”
“I would like to visit the Manor for a couple hours.” Draco lowered his head in an attempt to fake a weakened state. “I received an owl this morning stating I must be present with the signing of my mother’s burial papers.”
McGonagall nodded her head in a sympathetic motion. Her glasses began to fog with unwanted tears, remembering the young, lively Narcissa Black that used to walk through Hogwart’s very halls. “Yes, please send your father my condolences. You have two hours to do so.” She glanced at the portrait of Dumbledore to her right. Lifting up the floo barriers, she heard a large puff as the green flames diminished.
Standing up, she returned her gaze to the old Hogwarts headmaster and potion-master, “You have let two students leave at neighboring time intervals, Minerva. They must be up to something.” Snape said slowly.
“Draco is just a boy, he deserves to know what is going to happen to his mother’s body.” She said in a gloomy tone.
Snape hissed, “Malfoy is known to deceive, Minnie.” He tossed a greasy strand of hair out of his face.
Dumbledore watched the whole scene in satisfaction; he gave a knowing grin and exited his portrait.
At Malfoy Manor…
Draco stumbled into the Western Gallery. With a large huff, the blonde got himself together and silently brushed the ashes off his cloak. He looked at the magnificent portraits around him and quickly began to walk towards the door, avoiding eye contact from his family members isolated in their frames.
“Draco, you’re back!” cried his great Aunt.
“He’s finally going to do it. Bring an end to the Malfoy line.” Argued another cousin.
“Just get it over with, he’s a coward.”
Draco covered his ears in anger and hissed at their remarks. Opening the large wooden door with his wand, he began to step out of the haunting room, but then caught sight a small being at the foot of the door.
“Master Draco! Nellie was not informed of your visit! It is not safe for Master Draco to be here!”
“I know Nellie. I’ll be out in a couple of minutes.” He spoke to the house elf.
“Does Master Draco need Nellie to do anything during his visit?”
Draco began to walk swiftly towards his bedroom with the small elf following him close behind. “Where’s my father?”
“Master Lucius is in the third floor veranda.” The elf huffed trying to catch up with Draco’s strides, “Master Draco should not be here. Master Lucius will find Master Draco.”
Draco nodded his head; “Hold him off as long as you can. Have Estie cut a rose from the garden and place it on the grave. I’ll be gone in a few minutes.”
“Yes, Master Draco. Nellie wishes Master Draco with the best.” The elf swiftly hugged Draco’s leg and apparated into the air.
The blonde smiled at the elf’s actions and entered his room. It was in the same tattered state in which he left it. ‘The bastard.’ Draco thought. Taking out his dress robes from his pocket, he undid the spell and hastily began to dress himself. After finishing the cuffs, Draco looked at himself one last time in the mirror. He was going to do this right. Stepping into his bedroom fireplace, he yelled the name for his desired destination, “ZABINI MANOR!”
Back at Hogwarts…
Grace sat on her bed still reviewing the Weasley files. She had read all the way up to Ron’s Great Aunt Tessie, a parchment that made her grin in satisfaction. Grace stretched out her body across her bed, crinkling some of the papers under her elbow. Quickly smoothing out the parchment on Cedrella Black, Grace caught sight of a paper caught between her ankle and the bed sheets. She sat up as fast as she could, careful not to ruin any other files and picked up the parchment. Her face blanched as she viewed the sheet and she quickly wrapped her comforter around her, knowing there was no time summoning a cloak, and ran down the dorm steps. ‘Ron, Ron…Oh Merlin Ron.’ Grace thought as her legs dashed down the stairwell, she looked down at the parchment again. The ink was fading.
At Zabini Manor…
Blaise stepped out of his bedroom fireplace with ease and quickly took in the view from his room. The night air brushed against the frosted glass and the bare trees looked like thin shadows along the carpet. Snapping out of his reverie, Blaise stepped into the hallway and began wandering to the Manor Library. He had spent much time thinking it through, and just like any Slytherin, he decided what his parents didn’t know would most likely be best.
Once he managed to get to his destination without running into his parents or the house elves, Blaise walked over to the family wooden chest. Placing his wand between the two carved characters, he scoped the files and carefully grabbed the Malfoy files within his hands. Blaise had never once dared to open the file about his best friend, knowing it was the best for his own safety and the respect of the most prestigious pureblood family in all of England. Yet, Blaise had always possessed a fiery curiosity for the secrets of the Malfoys and he needed to know what his closest mate was hiding, knowing it could be potentially fatal. The Italian knew Draco had a secret during the year of the final battle and he knew it was something other than Deatheater orders. Could his past possibly be haunting him?
Blaise stepped back into the hallway and immediately fell to the floor. Withering in pain, the boy clutched his chest to apply pressure but then hastily remembered his sister’s orders. He clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white and took steady breaths. When the pain numbed a level or two down, he wiped the bead of sweat that was collecting on his face and unbuttoned his dress shirt. The Malfoy emblem was now seared onto his skin and it took all of his energy for him not to touch it. Blaise got up and started pacing towards his bedroom, hoping he could get out of there as soon as possible.
Climbing up the fourth stairwell, the Italian caught sight of a particular blonde entering from the fireplace in the main parlor. Suddenly, his parents appeared and began welcoming the new guest. Why Draco was at his home of all nights was beyond him, but he wanted to know. Walking back to the third floor and entering his sister’s bedroom, he searched for something to give him access to the meeting passing just a few meters below him. Blaise wandered around the room and rummaged through her things, hoping to find a logical muggle gadget of some sort. Instead he found something he though he would never use, a Weasley Extendable Ear. Blaise crouched down against the hallway carpet and gently lowered the ear over the marble banister and into the Visitor’s Lounge.
“Draco? Is everything alright son?” Mr. Zabini asked.
“Yes sir, everything is quite fine.”
“Dear, its very considerate for your visit but…is everything okay at home?” The Zabini matriarch insisted.
Blaise could hear Draco gulp, “Splendid, Mrs. Zabini. Splendid.”
“I was just wondering, we were hearing some rumors and…well I haven’t heard from your mother in a while. How is sh-”
“Ana leave the boy alone.” Blaise’s father interrupted, “Draco, son, is there something wrong with Grace? Blaise?”
The Italian a floor above strained his ears to the sound of Draco shifting in his seat. “I do have some concerns about Grace.”
“What?” Both of his parents said at once.
The next thing Blaise heard made him grin ear to ear.