A/N: There’s a short mention of a suicide attempt in this chapter.
Draco and Elphaba had entered the room after they heard Hermione’s cry. The healers had removed Harry’s feeding tube and as soon as everyone had finished hugging and kissing Harry—Draco had stood awkwardly in a corner during these displays of affection—Harry had told them a story about meeting Ron. It had been quite interesting, Draco and Elphaba had glanced at each other, wondering if that had been the meaning of the text they’d so fiercely discussed.
Apparently Ron had given him some sort of message about Jemina Jennings. Something weird about her reflection and beating her with her own weapons. Draco didn’t have a clue what that was about… Oh, and Ron had talked about Hermione too! The whole thing had been highly uncomfortable…
He had been so relieved when he was urgently called away to assist in subduing an angry and strong warlock. Anything to get out of that room!
It didn’t help that Hermione had become a bit quiet and preoccupied in the following days. Ron’s message had thrown her. She was slightly jealous at Harry for seeing and speaking to him again, even halfheartedly contemplating creating the potion and drinking it herself solely for that purpose.
Draco was fed up with the whole thing. Everyone was ooh-ing and aah-ing over Harry—when were they ever not?—and Hermione’s silence was a little upsetting. He wondered if she would grow distant, worried that he might not get through to her. On top of that, no-one had even thanked him for preparing the potion, as they all thought Hermione had brewed it.
So Draco did what he always did at moments such as this, complain to his mother. Only to get scolded for being self-pitying…
Narcissa shook her head. “I’d never thought I’d say this, but: honesty is the best policy sometimes…”
Draco snorted. “Like you ever followed that advice…”
“I’m am rather good at being secretive… that’s true,” his mother granted him, “but when it comes to… well, to love… Just tell her how you feel. She will find out soon enough… No point in sitting here brooding. Oh… And ask her how she feels too!” she shouted as he angrily stalked out of the room.
“Trouble in paradise?” Lucius asked, with malevolently glinting eyes. “The Mudblood making you cry…?” he mocked.
“Father…?” Draco ignored his scathing remarks. “Have you ever visited the spirit world, or heard of a spell or potion to do so?”
“Heard of yes…. Visited no… Never…” he replied, suddenly interested and eager. He narrowed his eyes: “Why? Don’t tell me you’ve become suicidal?”
Draco laughed mirthlessly. “Of course not! I made a potion that caused a trip there….”
“Who went there? What happened?” A touch of fear in his father’s voice.
“Potter… Potter saw Hermione’s… saw Ron and he had a message about how to defeat that Jennings woman…”
“Potter…. Always Potter…. Potter and Weasley spawn….” Lucius gritted his teeth, pointing his sharp finger at Draco. “And you aiding him…” He nearly spat at his son, but didn’t want to destroy his canvas… “Following him like a devoted puppy….”
“I am not a puppy!” Draco roared. “I am searching for answers! I want children too!” He nearly stamped on the ground in anger.
“With her….” Lucius looked sour, his eyes filled with contempt.
“What do you know about the spirit world and messages? Are they reliable? Did Harry really meet him?” Draco was slowly getting used to being on the receiving end of his father’s insults and found it best to simply try to ignore them.
“I’m the wrong person to ask. Ask your mother… Her sister once went there… Or so I’m told..”
“Aunt Dromeda?” Draco suddenly felt lighter.
“Bellatrix….” Lucius grinned heartlessly. “To converse with her first lover. He died a tragic death: stealing dragon eggs from a nest. Incinerated he was…” His father’s hollow laugh followed him as he returned to his mother.
“It was a horrible evening…” Narcissa shuddered. “Bellatrix was brokenhearted and determined to meet him. There was nothing we could do….”
She described how both she and Andromeda tried to talk her out of it. Three teenage girls on a wet, cold and stormy summer’s eve huddled in the back of their formal garden. Bellatrix hadn’t listened to her sisters and Narcissa and Dromeda had watched as Bellatrix gulped down the potion. She had fallen on the grass near one of the well-kept hedges.
“It was so horribly eerie…” Narcissa remembered. “She was shaking and her eyes were all glazed over… It seemed to last for hours, but it actually was only a few minutes…”
“What happened? What did she tell you?”
“She went to find him. She needed to see if he was doing well. Bellatrix had been having nightmares about him standing in Dragon’s fire, in pain, you see…. She met him there and he wasn’t blackened or burnt nor in any pain. Not anymore. In the afterlife, he was as youthful and healthy as she remembered him. It was a big relief to her…”
“Father said something about being suicidal...? What was that about?” Draco recalled his strange remark.
“Simply that it is unwise to visit the spirit world, especially often. One might not want to leave… be tempted to join them…. It is dangerous magic to be fiddling with…” She looked sternly at her son. “I wish I had known about it beforehand…”
“It was the only way… We didn’t see any other solutions…”
“Be that as it may… I won’t have you going there yourself, do you hear me…!”
“Mother…please…” Her fear embarrassed him and he ended up promising her that he wouldn’t.
“You see… she stayed unhinged… after that…” Draco had often thought his aunt somewhat deranged in her fierceness… Others had noticed this as well.
“She was different before?”
His mother nodded solemnly. “More like me and Andromeda. All calm and collected,” she smirked. “More refined… After… she quickly became obsessed…. First with amulets, then the Unforgivable Curses , practicing them day and night, and finally…. Well, you know how lovingly she served the Dark Lord…”
“She was really good at them… those curses,” Draco said, strangely proud as well as appalled. He did have a notable family…
“You have to mean them… and she did...” His mother agreed.
“So are messages from the spirit world true then? Do they have foresight or knowledge we don’t?”
“Over the course of that summer, she went again and again…. Asking him to help and guide her. In secret, as our parents were firmly against it. She hated us for telling them in the first place. As strong as she was, she sure liked to be commanded… “
“And everything she asked him came true? He had messages for her?” Draco resolved not to share that little detail with Hermione. It might entice her to do the same!
“Yes… like her own private oracle… The spirits… It’s not meant for that… They don’t like to be used in such a manner. It is degrading. He eventually told her to leave, never to return….and she didn’t take it well. So, one day… a few days before term began again… we found her in the garden shed, preparing a noose…” Narcissa covered her face with her hands, a single tear trickling down from underneath her palms. “It was horrible,” she sobbed, “simply ghastly… Our Bella, all… changed…”
“What happened next?”
“She received a calming draught. Used it for months, a pewter a night, before she was well again. That’s when the obsessions began… and they never ended.”
“You’ve never… I didn’t know…” Draco stammered. His mother nodded silently, peering at him.
“We never spoke of it. That’s how we dealt with all unpleasant things. Which is precisely why you shouldn’t…” she said, “Since it doesn’t work. Everything only festers that way…”