Chapter 15: Secret Freedom
Cassiopeia Kellen was walking trough the Ministry corridor, humming to herself and holding a mug of hot coffee. Of avarage height, with a slender figure, long dark brown hair, she was the object of much longing looks from many of the young maintenance workers who seemed to be paying more attention to her passing figure than their work. Dispite the fact, that it was almost noon and it was Sunday, the workers were on-duty. They had been busy transforming one of the unsued spaces in the upper level for two hours now. The space itself was known to her of being merely a large room, used only for storage purposes for almost two decades and largely unused for more than five. Now however, the room will once more serve a purpose – thistime as the Vigilantee Task Force Office – Minister Fudge sure didn´t waste time.
Cassiopeia had heared of what happened over night on the Granger farm, but (keeping her opinion firmly to herself) she had a much different view on the matter and felt, that there was much more to this than first met the eye.
Secretly from everyone – especially her mother – she quite admired the Masked Wizard. If he is a menace or a Dark Lord, why in the world didn´t he kill anyone during his Ministry breach? From what she heared from her Auror sister, this bloke was a living terror to the Death Eaters. Plus a powerfull wizard...
She quickly stopped her musings as she entered the Repopulation Act Office. Her light-green eyes (her dear Dad´s eyes) softened as she spied the all-too familiar figure sitting behind his desk, possitively immersed in his paperwork. As she approached, Broderick Bode junior gave a large yawn, making her giggle and drawing his attention to her. He seemed to have snapped out of musings of his own and for a second there, he looked slightly alarmed.
"My my, Brodie... you seem to be an even harder worker than I am."she noted smilingly.
Broderick gave her a small nod.
"I do my best, Miss Kellen."he muttered.
Cassiopeia smiled and shook her head.
"Come now, Brodie. There is no need to be so formal with me. Simply call me "Peia", please."
He nodded at her request, but was suddenly overcome with another deep yawn. Cassiopeia at once reached for her wand and in an instant there was an identical mug of hot coffee on his table. Thanking her for it, he swiftly took a small sip, during which time she drew a chair from the nearby table and sat down next to him.
"You really should go home and rest, Brodie... You look very tired."she said in mild-concern.
Broderick´s face took on a look, almost identical to that of his late father´s.
"I´d rather finish this work here, Miss... um, Peia."
She giggled at his tone – one of boyish shyness and shook her head.
"No wonder why my Mum praises your dedication. You spend more time ON-duty than off."
"I enjoy my work. Besides... I find staying too long in a deserted house depressing."
He felt almost ashamed to admit it, something that didn´t go unnoticed by Cassiopeia.
"I´m sorry."she muttered, laying a hand on his in order to comfort him.
She knew about his late parents – his mother being murdered by Death Eaters a year previously and father, an Unspeakable, strangled by Devil´s Snare in St Mungo´s a year before that. Her Mum had shared Broderick´s file with her upon admitting him into her Office. As the last surviving member of the relatively poor, yet brilliant half-blood Bode family, Athena Kellen saw great potentional in him. Cassiopeia herself was very symathetic towards him and also recodnized him as a capable, intelligent and polite man.
"Cute as well."she thought to herself yet again.
"That´s all right, Peia. But anyway, what are you doing here at this time of the Sunday?"
She smiled gently at his question.
"Similar problem to yours in a way. With my Mum going over discussions with the Minister, Orphea preparing the Manor for the High Society event and Deia on Auror duty there is just no point staying at home. In any case Orphea is a bit... difficult when it comes to organizing events. Our poor house-elves are probably more tired than you are right now."
Broderick noted the small sour tone to her voice and his curiosity peeked.
"You... do not get along well with them...?"
Cassiopeia gave a small sigh as she took another swig from the mug.
"We have... different opinions, you see... we very rarely find ourselves on the same side of any issue. But I´m the youngest so... "
Broderick gave her a small nod.
"I think I understand..."
A small smile stretched on her lips as she once more pressed the mug to them.
"Orphea is very focused and intent on acting like a noble-lady. And Deianira is very authoritative and ..."
"I know her, Peia. We were classmates at Hogwarts. I was in Slytherin with her."said Broderick knowingly, well remembering the Queen-bee of Slytherin House at the time.
Cassiopeia gasped, this piece of information being new to her.
"Anyway... you know then, what I´m talking about. She is very bent on her rules and opinions. I remember how angry she was with me for having a crush on Harry Potter. And now ironicly, the family wants me to marry him."she said, turning bright red at the very thought.
Broderick´s – or as the boy in question calls him, Double B´s – eyebrows shot up in obvious curiosity.
"You´ve had a crush on Harry Potter?"he asked and Cassiopeia´s face grew even redder as she bowed her head.
"I think it was always there... I remember how cute he was as a first-year. He chaught my eye on the Hogwarts Express and I was so happy, when he was sorted into Slytherin – though I was about the only one there, people were surprised if not shocked. But then..."she shuddered, recalling the very first night in the Slytherin Common Room – the fifth-year boy flying trough the room at the powerfull curse cast by a tiny, yet intimidating first-year.
"On the first night, Marcus Flint insulted his friend and he cursed him straight into the Hospital Wing. None of us had EVER seen something like that. I remember, that even Orphea was shocked. She at once commanded me to stay away from him. But I couldn´t help but watch him as he was spending his time with Blaise Zabini, Draco Malfoy and that muggle-born boy. But soon enough they were joined by other Slytherins. As the years went by, I just couldn´t help but be attracted to him. But when I wanted to ask him to the Yule-Ball during the Triwizard Tournament, I was strongly advised to keep away... thistime by Daphne Greengrass."she shuddered again, but thistime much more than before.
Dispite her deep wish, the bad memory came once more to life – speaking most unwisely of her plan to ask Harry with the girls and then as she was making towards the Library, being hexed very painfully before being yanked up by the hair hard and coming face-to-face with a livid looking Daphne Greengrass.
"Listen carefully, because I will only say it ONCE, Kellen! Harry Potter is MINE! And MINE ALONE! If I EVER see you hankering after him like this, I will make sure you will never look at ANYONE again! Is that UNDERSTOOD?!"
The chilling strength of those words... the murderous look on her face... the manic flare in her eyes... the memory still had the power to utterly paralyze her with fear.
"The Junior Death Eater..."said Broderick in a quiet voice, recodnizing the name all too well – the girl having earned herself an astounding reputation in Voldemort´s ranks – as terrifying as Bellatrix Lestrange.
Cassiopeia nodded, trembling from head to foot now.
"B... Brodie... you have no idea what she was, even then..."she whispered and almost gasped as she felt Broderick place his hand atop hers in the very same comforting gesture she made previously.
She took a few moments to calm herself down as best she could before continuing.
"N...naturally this made me back away... but I´ve... I´ve always watched him from afar... watching him grow taller and sooo handsome... hearing all the rumors about him - using Unforgivable Curses, being an aspiring right-hand-man of You-Know-Who and then a Junior Death Eater... when I heared, that he was on our side all along I remember I was so happy and relieved. But I´ve never told him my feelings. But two days ago... when my Mum interviewed him and the Weasley girl... the power that went out of him when he stood up (she shuddered again)... I know why he refused so ferociously... he... he´s in love with her, I think..."
Broderick bit his lip in utter curiosity.
"Do you... do you still love him?"
Cassiopeia sighed, going once more red in the face.
"Well... I... I... "
Suddenly the office door swung open and the pair´s heads snapped towards the source of the noise. In the doorway stood a tall, slender woman with light brown shorter hair, surveying the scene with her pale grey eyes. The two barely breathed as Deianira Kellen walked towards them – a powerfull sence of authority sweeping trough the room.
"Peia, I need the files of the... Incompliable. Those we sent to Azkaban this morning."she commanded in a firm voice.
Cassiopeia at once sprang to her feet, her face burning.
"Yes, yes... at once, sis..."she muttered and moved towards her desk, desperate not to give away ANY hint of what she had just been discussing with Broderick.
Deianira looked at Broderick, her face sporting a smirk.
Broderick nodded back.
She instantly scrowled.
"You would do better, Bode, if you would kindly adress the deputy-head of the Vigilantee Task Force with more respect."she said coolly, before turning her head on the form of her younger sister behind the other desk.
"Hurry up, will you Peia?! I have a tight scheduele today! I am leaving with the Taskforce for Azkban shortly."she commanded imeriously.
Broderick snorted slightly as Cassiopeia fummed franticly, searching for the papers.
"Importaint business I´m sure, Miss Kellen."
"Most importaint, Bode. We are on our way to interrogate some of the inmates in regard to the Masked Wizard – we have been suspecting, that most of the old Death Eaters have enountered him before all of this. AAAND... its Mrs Malfoy soon, Bode. I am completly sure I shall be called as such in a few days´ time."she said, folding her amrs.
Broderick thought about Dray for the slightest moment and his feeling of worry was instantly repressed the urge to laugh hystericly.
"D´you think you can get young Mr Malfoy to comply with all of this, sis?"asked Cassiopeia delicately as she moved towards her with the neccessary papers in hand.
Deianira scrowled angrily at her younger sister as she took the papers into her hands.
"D´you think I can´t tame a snot-nosed brat like Malfoy junior?! He´ll be singing my tune in no time at all - I have an appointment at the Malfoy Manor straight after my return from Azkaban and I´m sure Lucius will stand my side on this matter. The young Malfoy will learn his place soon enough, mark my words."
Broderick and Cassiopeia shared a glance and instantly turned away from eachother – the temptation to laugh was unbearable.
"Well... you seem to have all of this thought out, sis... Though I´m not quite sure, that you are able to... ah... tame the young Malfoy."said Peia, a tone of almost-an-alien mischievousness to her voice.
Deianira glared her yougest sister very hard.
"Believe it, Peia. I´ll show this little brat, who´s boss around here..."
Double B had to punch his fist into his mouth in order to stop the hysterical laughter at the statement from reaching the light of the world. He could tell, that Cassiopeia too, was humoring her eldest sister – knowing Malfoy juinor from the Slytherin Common Room herself, if only slightly.
"In that case... I wish you the best of luck."she said, her face trying to conceal her grimace of humor.
"I have the tiniest feeling, that you will need SO much more than JUST that."she muttered quietly – so quietly as to let only the single man in the room to hear, enjoying the snort and his dissapearance under his desk made to mask the outburst of absolute laughter – feeling quite compelled to join him.
"I need no such thing as luck, Peia. Not with little Draco Malfoy."said Deianira authoritavely and Peia was able to hold her neutral face no longer.
Ignoring the obvious hilarity of her sister and the meaningless assistant of her mother, Deianira snatched to papers and stomped out of the room, ignoring the comment of the expandable worthless man in the room – "If Draco MALFOY bows his head in front of ANY woman so easily, I´m a Flooberworm." and the hysterical laughter coming from the room.
"I´ll show THEM! ALL of them!"she fummed in her mind as she positively stomped trough the corridor before stopping at the sight of her team-mates and several other members from the second new group of the Ministry.
"I have the papers needed."she informed Pius Thicknesse, the new Head of the Act Enforcement Division.
Thicknesse smiled automatically.
"That is most welcome news, Deia. With as much said, we can be off to Azkaban."he said in a bright voice, looking around at all the members of the Vigilantee Task Force assighned for the duty – a rowdy pure-blood bunch indeed.
Deianira however shot the two people behind Thicknesse a curious authoritative glance.
"And just who are they, may I ask?"
Pius side-stepped them and gestured to the first – a dreamy looking man of avarage height, in his late twenties, with short blondish hair, a pleasant face and bright misty-looking blue eyes.
"This is Alexander Cattermole - our guest from the Daily Prophet. I have agreed on showing him how the Task Force works on this disturbing case.
Cattermole only nodded dumbly.
The other man was a much smaller one. Slightly fat, with long mousy brown hair that were pulled into a ponytail. His full face sported glasses and he was dressed in a formal black tux. On his hands were a pair of jet-black leather gloves.
"This is Rodney Rodentivis, the Head of the Defence and Security Association. I´ve asked him to accompany us in regard to our planned enforcement of security. I am sure he can come up with brand new ideas."informed Thicknesse with a smile.
Deianira shrugged and looked to her teammembers.
"Well in that case, let´s get going. We have many Death Eaters to interview. I´m sure they will be most pleased about our visit."she added with a vain smirk.
With everyone´s attention on Deianira, no one saw the devilish smirk on the fat little man´s face.
"I can certainly say, that ONE of them will."thought Wormtail, already looking forward to complete the task ahead of him – this will make him a legend in his own right. He will prove to everyone, why his master calls him his "left hand man" – a statement that leaves a smile on his face everytime.
It was time to go and retrieve the Dark Lord´s right – hand man from the dark, icy tomb known as Azkaban Prision...
"Now be good you three... and Harry, please don´t wake your father OR don´t blow up the house while we are away."instructed Lily in a motherly voice as she and Ginny were preparing to leave the Cottage.
The warm sunny Sunday was positively inviting everyone outside and the girls decided to go out and enjoy it. With Ron and Hermione off to the Granger House, Susan and Angus heading towards Lennox Manor, Blaise and Luna towards Zabini Estate, Neville and Hannah at Bathilda Bagshot´s house, Fred and Alice helping George and Tammy in the jokeshop (or so the excuse sounded), Remus and Dora at her parents´, Sirius and Amelia at her appartment and James sleeping upstairs, Lily decided that she and Ginny should do a bit of girl-bonding, something to which the younger redhead whole-heartedly agreed. This meant, that only Draco, Astoria and Harry would remain in the house. But as Draco said, they had something to occupy their time, earning himself a smack from Torie.
Ginny smiled gently at her blushing fianceé.
"Muuuum... would I do that?"asked Harry, in a child-like pleading voice, looking at her innocently with his green eyes.
Lily smiled sweetly.
"Whenever you snakies say "occupy your time" it ussually means, that you´re up to your little experiments."
Ginny cut the distance between them and kissed him gently. Draco and Astoria turned and made their way towards Harry´s room. Smiling radiantly, Lily opened the front door and left, leaving Ginny free to give him her long, loving kiss.
"Blimey, what a goodbye-kiss that was..."whispered Harry breathlessly as they separated.
"Are you going away for an hour or forever?"he teased, grinningly.
Giggling, Ginny reached up and ruffled his hair.
"Oh, don´t worry, love. You´re never going to get rid of ME..."
Harry chuckled, enjoying the feel of her small hand in his hair.
"That´s comforting to know."
His eyes looked over her shoulder and saw, that his Mum was politely waiting for her outside. Ginny looked around too and then turned her sights back to him.
"Now... just as your Mum said, Harry. Be a good boy and don´t blow up the house."she said teasingly and Harry chuckled.
"Yeeees, dear."he said in a meek tone.
Stealing one more kiss, Ginny dashed out into the sunlit day and the two readheads were off, waving Harry goodbye, before he closed the front door.
As soon as he did, a devilish grin plastered itself on his face.
"Be a good boy? THAT´S a good one!"
He positively dashed into his room, thistime not even bothering to solve the door´s riddle. There was MUCH more importaint work to be done. Torie and Draco were already waiting for him, sitting at the worktable near his special safe with their wands out and ready. At the simple wave of his wand, the safe opened and revealed the sack Albus had brought yesterday. The portraits of the four founders were all eying them curiously as Harry crouched down and placed a hand into the sack.
His eyes sparkled with excitement as he looked over his shoulder at his two dear friends, barely able to control himself, an overjoyed grin on his face.
"So... which should we start with?"he whispered, looking to them.
"The locket."said Draco.
"Diadem."exclaimed Astoria, well aware of the looks the portraits of the founders were shooting them.
Harry grinned even more.
"In that case... we´ll start with the cup."
Draco and Torie both glared him. But Harry barely gave it a thought as he ran his hand in the sack and pulled out a small golden cup. The portrait of Helga Hufflepuff gasped as he placed it neatly on the table.
"Is... is that my...?"she whispered.
Harry grinned brightly at the four portraits.
"You bet, Professor Hufflepuff. Your famous cup."
She gasped again, but this time in hurt at the sight of her beloved cup with a big hole in it.
"Its... its brocken..."she whispered, tears starting to fall from her eyes.
Harry nodded, his sights on the stab-hole made by none other than the Gryffindor´s sword. By Neville in the Headmaster´s Study as he heared from Albus. But as far as he was aware, or as far as he discussed with the Headmaster, the cup (like other objects of the founders) originally held special powers of an yet-unknown sort. He doubted that Tom Riddle had ever bothered to research the cup´s powers before turning it into one of his precious Horcruxes. Harry however had a sneaky feeling, that the cup may indeed hold remarkable abilities.
"Don´t be sad, Professor... We´ll find a way to fix it. Or my name isn´t Harry Potter."he said proudly, a determined light positively shining in his eyes.
"You bet."nodded Draco staunchly.
"Leave it to us."beamed Torie, grabbing both boys by the shoulder.
Helga Hufflepuff smiled gently at the three young ones, Rowena Ravenclaw rolled her eyes (no doubt thinking that the young ones were being over-confident), Godric Gryffindor grinning appretiatively at them, while Salazar Slytherin folded his arms, a look of pure pride on his face.
"We will need to hear exactly what powers your Cup possessed, Professor. I think it is a decent place to start. I am also quite interested in the cup´s history during your time."said Harry eagerly, sitting at the table and pulling out his wand, setting it neatly on the table beside the golden brocken cup.
Helga Hufflepuff smiled again as Draco and Torie also drew their chairs closer, very eager to hear the story of her prized cup themselfs.
"Very well then. Where should I start? You see my children, the cup is..."
Suddenly she was interrupted when the three young ones started to fidget. The Four looked on as the teens rolled up their sleeves and looked at their wristbands.
"What is that?"whispered Rowena Ravenclaw curiously.
"Oh my..."whispered Helga Hufflepuff as she saw, that the Slytherin serpent on their wristbands was moving and hissing franticly.
The three teens looked at eachother open-mouthed.
"The GREEN alert?!"whispered Draco.
"What could´ve happened?!"breathed Torie, looking confused.
Harry wasted not a moment and pressed his wand to the serpent. At once it stopped hissing, as did the ones on Draco´s and Torie´s wristbands, which became still. The serpent on Harry´s wristband opened its mouth and a letter came out of it. Quickly smoothing it over, Harry began to read out loud.
"Development in the situation. Deianira Kellen is the deputy of the Vigilantee Task Force. She and a small group of it are on their way to Azkaban to interrogate Death Eaters. After that she has a meeting at Malfoy Manor. Dray is in danger. His father is firmly on their side and Deianira has been promised Draco as her prize. She is, to use her words, prepared to tame the young Malfoy and she is without a doubt the most dangerous of the Kellen sisters. The middle sister - Orphea is also set out for Blaise. And of course, the youngest Cassiopeia for Harry, although she herself isn´t very fond of her mother´s plans. A High Society party is being prepared and will be on in four day´s time, during which time Athena Kellen will be well prepared to move in on the three of you. Act quickly and BE CAREFULL! My best to everyone. Double B."
Hufflepuff had placed her hands on her mouth in concern, while Ravenclaw muttered "Oh my... this will complicate matters."
"To be sure."nodded Godric Gryffindor, his beard quivering.
"Well... that´s that, kids. Better start using your considerable talents and intelect into solving this problem, rather than repairing old objects. Especially YOU, Draco. As I understand it, your... ah, personal freedom is in peril."advised Salazar Slytherin silkily, a taunting smile playing on his lips – he was quite eager to hear or see, how his young charges deal with the situation.
"SALAZAR! This is hardly helping them right now!"exclaimed Helga Hufflepuff in a chastizing voice.
"Oh no..."muttered Godric Gryffindor, his eyes glued on Astoria.
Following his line of sight, Harry looked sideways tentactively at Torie. She was breathing hard, trying to conceal the powerfull storm this piece of information had caused. Draco was also breathing hard, but his face wore a look of shock. After a few seconds Torie stood up, her face wearing a positively murderous look.
"So...SO...! She wants to tame Dray...? MY Dray?! NEVER!"she screamed the last bit and the wand in her hand produced dark and green jets, making holes into the floor.
"Torie..."whispered Draco, hearing her say those words brought color to his pale cheeks.
Harry and Gryffindor looked at eachother, almost in fear. Both wondered briefly if Deianira Kellen realized, that she had just woken a sleeping dragon. Their thoughts were confirmed when he saw Torie´s face twist into the scariest evil-grin they had EVER seen in a girl – Harry almost let out a small gasp, because for a moment she looked even scarier than her sister Daphne. Slytherin grinned, Hufflepuff watched with scared eyes, Ravenclaw had hers wide open and Gryffindor – THE brave Godric Gryffindor actually gulped. There was no doubt in anyone´s mind, that the young girl had conjoured a plan in her mind´s eye.
"Aaaaalrighty then. Let her try her luck..."said Torie as sweetly as sugar.
Now Harry gulped also. Draco looked at her dumbfounded, struggling to understand what terrifying plan she thought up.
"T... Torie... you... you can´t be thinking..."he stammered, wide-eyed.
Astoria giggled and reached for his hand.
"Oh Dray... can´t you see? We have just been given an AMAZING position."
Harry´s eyes widened in understanding, the begingings of a smile forming on his face.
"You´re right, Torie... looks like you´ll be able to put your acting abilities to the test for us once again, Dray."
Draco shot up from his chair and looked at the pair of them as though they were mad.
"GIVE myself to Deianira Kellen?! You must be joking!"
Harry was grinning evilly too. So was Salazar Slytherin, seeing the plan as clearly and feeling a fantastic surge of pride at the girl.
"Give yourself, Dray? Merlin no...but SELL yourself, yes."said Harry, grinning.
A small light shined in Draco´s eyes at the realization.
"I get it. I´m a Malfoy afterall. And this way I´ll avoid confronting my father as well."
This plan was perfect. A perfect way to solve more than enough problems at the same time. And give their side the edge that even Double B wasn´t able to. However... there was a downside to the plan. His eyes widened upon realizing it and he looked at his still-fresh girlfriend with a measure of guilt.
"But... but Torie... that means... that... I... I don´t want to... no... NO! I love YOU..."
Astoria however continued to smile gently at him, her eyes sparkling as she heared him say it. She reached out her hand and instantly felt Draco grasp it, holding tightly yet gently.
"Dray... I know. But we must be fair. Let´s give the poor over-confident girl the chance she so longingly hopes for. Let us show her, how easy it is to... ah... tame a Malfoy."
Slytherin shared a glance with Harry and the two promtly roared with laghter, much to the reproving glances of the remaining three portraits. Draco looked at her in pure wonder.
"Just be your cute and lovable self, Dray. I´m sure that´s more than enough to drive Kellen and her mother up the wall."she said with a giggle as Draco´s face came closer.
"You´re truly a terrifying witch, Torie..."he whispered before locking lips with her.
"Harry? Would you mind leaving us alone? I want to give my Dray the protection he will need."said Torie mysteriously as soon as they separated.
Disregarding the enigmatic tone, Harry nodded and stood up and walked out of his room. Torie waited for the door to close with a snap before she fixed Dray her most serious look.
"Protection, Torie? What d´you mean?"asked Draco, not able to tear his gaze from her eyes.
"Dray... do you love me?"she asked suddenly.
"Of course!"he exclaimed, taken aback by the sudden question.
"Do you want to be with me?"she asked in the same tone.
"Yes! Torie what´re you...?"
"Then let´s do the Ritual of Two Hearts."she said with a determined look on her face.
"WHAT?!"exclaimed three voices in the room, but none of them belonged to Draco.
"OHO... the Ritual of Two Hearts... interesting..."muttered Slytherin with a mildly astonished look at the girl.
"My sweet little child, do you honestly believe such an extreme step is neccessary?"exclaimed a shocked Helga Hufflepuff.
"Agreed! Are you aware, that the results can NOT be undone?!"nodded an equally shocked Gryffindor.
"I´M more troubled by the fact, that this girl – a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL - apparently knows how to perform BLOOD MAGIC! Isn´t ANYONE troubled by THIS fact?!"exclaimed Rowena Ravenclaw, surveying Astoria with shocked wonder.
"T...Torie... you... are you... I mean..."stammered Draco in pure wonder.
Yes, the Slytherin Squad had learnt about Blood Magic a year back, having found old records and books about it (stored safely in Harry´s safe) thanks to Blaise and Angus. Each one of them was more than familiar with with many of the rituals that have not been used in centuries. And this particural one – The Ritual of Two Hearts – Draco was sure, that he would NEVER in his life see it being used. And Torie wanted to... the determined look in her eyes – there was no doubt... he was touched... in more ways than one.
"Look I´ve..."she whispered and Draco was shocked once more – she seemed so... vunerable.
"I... I´ve waited... I wanted you since the Japan holiday – it was there when I realized what you mean to me. I´m absolutely sure I never want to lose you, Dray. And I don´t EVER want to see another hag like Parkinson hanging on to you like an overgrown leech."
Draco almost laughed. It was pure joy hearing this from her.
"You DO of course realize that if we do this, we´re bonded together for life, literally. If one dies, the other does too."he said gently, ignoring the portraits.
Torie smiled and shook her head.
"Malfoy... I´m NOT stupid. I know very well the effects of this ritual, I wouldn´t propose it otherwise. I´m pretty sure, that I will never love anyone the way I love you. And I´m even more sure, that I wouldn´t be able to live if you weren´t around to get on my nerves everyday."she said, a slight giggle escaping her at the last part.
Draco also chuckled, as he reached out to gently run his finger trough her reddish brown hair.
"Well... how could I ever live without you on my case every five minutes?"he said, chuckling again at the small glare she saw shooting him.
"Watch it, Malfoy... I may just reconsider my offer."she warned with a grin.
The portraits saw the two laugh and embrace, before shooting glances at eachother.
"You... you are seriously going trough with this?!"exclaimed Gryffindor looking at them wildly.
"Children, I MUST protest!"exclaimed Hufflepuff.
But Draco already conjoured a silver dagger out of thin air with his wand. With a wave of her wand, jet-black curtains fell upon all four portraits.
"Curses! I wished to see the ritual, Astoria!"exclaimed Slytherin from under his curtains.
"SALAZAR!"exclaimed the portraits of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw in unism.
Draco snickered as Torie shot the portrait a small glare and sniffed.
"Nice excuse... but fat chance, you pervy professor."
Gryffindor´s portrait boomed with laughter.
"I have no idea what she just called you, Salazar... but it DID sound very beffiting."
"SILENCE, Godric!"snapped Slytherin and the two teens couldn´t help but laugh.
"Thank you for reminding me, professor... Silencio"said Torie sweetly before casting the Silencing Charm on the portraits.
Draco couldn´t help but explode in laughter – Professor Slytherin was no doubt fumming like mad right now.
"Okay, let´s get started. Take off your shirt."she instructed as she proceeded to move the chairs and table away with a wave of her wand.
"I´m looking forward to seeing Kellen´s face when she realizes, that Bonding enchantments of any kind won´t work on you."said Torie with a giggle, turning around to face her shirtless boyfriend.
Draco grinned and handed Torie the dagger. Taking it, she cut her finger and a few seconds later pressed it on Draco´s chest, just over his heart. She proceeded to draw a rune on his heart. Her eyebrow shot up as she felt him shudder and heared a small giggle escape him.
She grinned at him gently, and took his hand into one of hers.
"OW! That hurts!"he exclaimed as he felt the silver dagger cut his index finger.
"Awww. You´re such a big baby, Malfoy."she cooed before kissing him on the cheek as she let the dagger fall to the ground.
Draco´s eyes went wide as Torie pulled her shirt over her head.
"Bloody hell...!"he whispered at the sight before his eyes.
Though blushing a deep shade of red, Torie rolled her eyes.
"Come on, you perv. Draw the rune."
Her blush deepened more when she saw, that Draco was staring at her open-mouthed as though hypnotized.
Almost jumping, he shook his head and shakily pressed his bleeding finger over Torie´s heart.
"Sweet Merlin... he´s as jittery as Angus."she thought with amusement, but closed her eyes contently at the feel of Draco´s gentle touch as he slowly drew the rune.
As soon as she felt Draco´s finger withdraw she opened her eyes and reached for her wand, Draco reaching for his. Both performed a speedy Healing charm on their cut fingers before joining hands.
"Ready?"he asked in a whisper.
"As ready as I´ll ever be. And you´ll need to be looking into my eyes, pervert!"she added with a smirk, relishing the blood-red blush on his cheeks, and secretly very happy that he was unable to keep his gaze away.
"Sorry."he muttered as he pressed the tip of his wand on the blood rune he had drawn.
Torie did the same and a small red glow started to encircle them as they started to chant together. Once the final chant had been said, they locked lips and the glow turned blood red and swallowed them completly.
Memories kept flashing in their minds – shared and alive. The first time Torie met Draco as a six-year old girl during one of the High Society parties, Draco starting his third-year at Hogwarts watching Torie with the Sorting Hat on her head as it shouted "Slytherin", Torie in the Slytherin Common Room watching him along with his friends while her roommates whispered and warned her not to go anywhere near them, Draco grinning at her with appretiation when the Slytherin Squad had gained its fifth member, Torie red with rage as Pansy Parkinson held onto Draco´s arm declaring she has her date for the Yule Ball, Draco staring wide-eyed at the sight of Torie looking simply brilliant in her dress-robes as she went down with Blaise, Torie screaming for him when it appeared that he had fallen into his doom in a cavern with Angus and two of their Japanese friends during their summer adventure, their blazing argument as Draco was about to go spying on the Junior Death Eaters, the jealous and heartbrocken feeling she had when Pansy smashed her lips onto his in the Slytherin Common Room, the fear and rage he felt when Barty Crouch defeated her in a duel during the Battle of Hogwarts, the happiness she felt just yesterday when Draco finally stammered out the three magic words...
Opening their eyes, they saw that the glow had dissapeared. But there was a strong change in the air. Both feeling it strongly, they watched happy smiles form on their faces before hugging eachother tightly. Both now knew (and also felt), that no matter what crossed their path from this moment on, there would be ONE unchangable certainity in the future – they would always have what is most importaint. Eachother.
Azkaban was even worse than the rumors discribed it. It was a virtual Dementor nest. Luckily Wormtail had nothing to fear from them right now. Disguised and walking along with the group, a few of which had conjoured Patronuses, that kept the normally chilly air present on the cell-block corridor in a surprisingly warm temperature. Deianira Kellen looked to her teammates.
"All right, as planned. Everyone make a Patronus and separate toward individual cells. All of you know which questions to ask, right?"
She could tell, that her teammates were as eager to interview those scum as much as her.
"I´ll take Flint."said one of them.
"I´ll have a chat with Nott."said another.
"Okay then. I am going for Daphne Greengrass. Pius? What about you three?"asked Deianira.
For a while she wondered, why on Earth was Thicknesse smiling like that – this was bloody Azkaban and the man was smiling as though he were on holiday in a five star hotel.
"Oh, we shall make our rounds. Rodney here will definitely have many suggestions regarding our security."he said smiling in the wake of his two compagnions and his vulture Patronus.
Shrugging her shoulders she turned down her corridor and started to walk alongside her hyena Patronus. As soon as the three men were alone, Wormtail turned to Thicknesse.
"All right. Quickly. Lead the way to his cell."he said squeakily and his Impriused puppet – or rather ONE of them - turned towards the stairs.
"This way."he muttered blankly.
They walked up a staircase into the uppermost floor and passed all the way to the back. They met several Dementors on the way, but they all glided away and made room for them as Thicknesse´s Patronus cleared the way for them.
"You! Open the cell. We wish to interview the prisioner."commanded Thicknesse in his normal voice and the Dementor glided forward to fufill the order.
The three men entered the cell, which seemed to be darker than the others – casting shadows into the corners and practicly shrouding them in pitch-black darkness. A man was sitting in there in the darkness. Wormtail stepped closer and the man´s head turned toward him.
"Who are you?"croacked the man.
Instead of answering, Wormtail rolled up his sleeve and pulled off the black glove, revealing a silver hand. The man gasped as though he could hardly believe his eyes.
"Wormtail?"he breathed – this was the LAST person who´d he expect to see, especially here.
Wormtail grinned and used his other hand to pull a hip-flask out of his pocket.
"Its time we get you out of here. Our Master needs both his hands to be victorius."
The figure stood up and stepped closer to him, his features coming to light. He had a mop of fair straw-colored hair, his sunken and unshaven face sporting a manic smile.
"I knew it. I knew he wouldn´t die on us. He truly IS immortal."he whispered almost in a prayer.
Wormtail smiled and handed him the hip-flask. Barty Crouch – Lord Voldemort´s right-hand man took it and drained it in one. In an instant, he felt the lost strength return to him, the small pains and headaches he felt all the time vanish. His face regained some of its former healthy appearance, but not all that much. Nevertheless the smile on his face grew even larger.
"So we´re back to this again, aren´t we Wormtail..."he asked humorously, recalling Wormtail and Voldemort freeing him from his father´s control almost three years back.
Wormtail grinned and nodded and noticed Barty´s eyes dart towards his two compagnions standing between the vulture Patronus.
"Thicknesse? Ah... The Imperius Curse, I take it."he noted, giving Wormtail the hip-flask back.
"Both are under my control."said Wormtail, placing the flask into his pocket and drawing another one before beckoning the second man to come closer.
"And this one?"asked Barty, eying the man.
Wormtail grinned quite sinisterly.
"Your ticket out of here."he said, yanking out a hair from the man´s head, standing on tip-toes to do so.
Barty let out a low menacing laugh as Wormtail added the hair into the hip-flask – he didn´t even have to ask what was in it.
"Old tricks are the best ones, eh?"he remarked in cold humor and took the hip-flask from Wormtail.
Reaching up to the top of his head, Barty yanked a hair from his head. Wormtail had pulled out a third flask from his pocket and handed it out for Barty to add his hair to it.
"Here, Cattermole. Have a drink."he squeaked maliciously to his puppet, who obeyed without a word.
"Bottoms up then, my friend."chuckled Barty as he took a swig from his.
The two men started to transform in front of Wormtail´s eyes. A few seconds later there was Cattermole standing there in tattered Azkaban robes and Barty Crouch standing in the neat robes, a blank look on his face.
"Okay... now strip your robes off and switch them with him."commanded Wormtail.
Cattermole obeyed once again and in no time at all, the two had switched their clothes.
"Fine. Barty, stand close to me."said Wormtail and both of them retreated back towards Thicknesse.
Barty screwed Cattermole´s face into a curious look as he saw Wormtail rummaging his pocket again. His curiosity compounded when he saw Wormtail pulling out a small mirror and holding it out at the man standing in the middle of the room.
The mirror shined and its glass turned pure white. The man started to shake as though he was suffering some sort of a fit. He winced in obvious discomfort, even pain as he started to shine in a red glow, which was growing stronger and stronger. Coughing and shaking all over, something white started to escape from his eyes and mouth – it looked like some sort of vapor, that mixed with the blood red glow. The mix started to make its way towards the mirror and as it connected with it, the man gave out a scream of pure pain. The scream was growing weaker and weaker, as though life itself was draining out of him. The mirror was sucking out the red and white mix as though it were a vaccum. The man was chocking and barely standing and as the last bit of the vapor exited his body he collapsed on the ground. Once the vapor was inside the mirror, its surface became pure white and in a second turned into a quite ordinary glass.
"Most impressive indeed... you will have to explain this to me, Wormtail."
"Later. Let´s just get out of here. Thicknesse, lead the way."
Still wearing the same smile, Thicknesse turned and opened the cell door. Barty turned his sights back over his shoulder as he heared a weak moan from the man on the floor.
"He´s still alive...?"he asked, thinking briefly how strange it was to see his body lying on the floor, weak, feeble and moaning in pain while he was feeling fine and comfortable.
Wormtail grinned quite evilly, his two large front teeth (almost rat-like) visible in all their glory.
"Not for very much longer, I bet. The mirror drained the victim so much, that he will be die in a few minutes for certain."
Barty was about to question the certainity in his voice when a high-pitched squeal rang from outside. He knew very well what it was – every single prisioner of Azkaban Prision feared this sound. The Dementors only make that noise, when they sence someone´s death approaching.
Nodding, he exited the cell and with a ruthless smile shut the cell.
"Sweet secret freedom."he said maliciously, leaving the dying man to his fate.
"Now Dobby... remember the instructions I have given?"asked Draco patiently, handing the tiny house-elf his handkerchief.
Dobby nodded and started to wipe his eyes. He had burst into tears when he saw his master come home, no doubt thinking that he has no choice but to comply with the choice presented to him. As soon as Draco calmed him down a bit, he burst into tears again. But thistime it were the tears of joy at the news that he loves someone else (having taken a great liking to the said girl) and that they have made a plan to make sure that he will marry no other. Draco went over a few portions of his plan with him, though dispite how much he trusted his personal elf, he felt that some pieces of it should be kept only for himself or the rest of the squad.
"Now let´s go. I believe that our... guests (he screwed his face into an ugly scrowl at the word) are already here."he said and the tiny elf nodded.
"They is, master. Miss Deianira arrived last. A few minutes ago."
Draco sighed and opened the door leading from the courtyard. As he walked up the marble staircase with his trusty elf by his side, he could feel excitement growing.
"Like Angus says... time to get the show on the road."he thought.
To his delight there was one more feeling present. A warm feeling coming from the place, where Torie had drawn her blood rune a few hours previously. It was making him feel warmer than he would´ve believed possible and he felt that the task ahead of him was not only possible, but positively child´s play. He could tell, that Torie could feel the same warmth, miles away at the Potter Cottage.
"Ah... there he is. Our charming young man."came the voice of Athena Kellen as soon as he entered the main living quarters.
A handsome fire was roaring in the main fireplace and armchairs along with the table have been set close to it. On the table was a generous ammount of refreshments and Lucius´ handsome white peacock was jumping around, making his way towards the young Malfoy. Sitting in the comfortable armchairs were his father, mother, Athena Kellen and his aspiring Malfoy tamer. Lucius flashed him a proud look, while Narcissa quickly masked the sad look that crossed her face – she had tried to reason with Lucius, but he was adamant that the family should take part in the new intended regime. She had to mask another one as she saw her precious son bow his head respectively.
"I am very happy to see you, Madam Kellen."
His sights settled on the young woman sitting in one of the armchairs. She had a most calculating look on her face as she surveyed her young prey.
"And its a pleasure to meet you, Miss Kellen."
Deianira smirked, absolutely failing to see the automatic way that Draco had adressed her.
"Come and sit, Mr Malfoy... come..."beckoned Athena almost too enthusiasticly.
Shrugging Draco had made his way towards the armchairs, but not without a gentle pat on Dobby´s head, the elf turning around and leaving the room with a happy smile.
"You know, son... you shouldn´t treat your servants in such a lenient way..."said Lucius reproachevilly as soon as he sat down.
Narcissa glared her husband slightly – it was SHE who brought a very little Dobby to the Manor and made him her son´s little playmate, and it was she who saw the loving relationship between the two, being more than gratefull for it even if Lucius dissaprooved.
"He is MY servant, father. As such it is MY choice to decide how I should treat him."said Draco silkily, shooting a discreet wink at his dear Mum.
"Well... pitifull creatures aside..."started Deianira, but Draco at once cut her off with a glare.
"You would do well NOT to adress my possessions in such a way, Miss Kellen. You see I greatly dislike anyone who is insulting them."said Draco in a neutral, yet a strong voice.
Deianira´s mouth fell open.
"What?! You... how can you..."
Draco´s glare hardened.
"If you insult my elf, you insult ME, Deianira. And I don´t appretiate people insulting ME. Least of all someone who wishes to become close to me."he said stubbornly, crossing his arms for emphasis.
Deianira looked for a second as though Draco had slapped her. In an instant she shot up from her armchair, a death-glare fresh in her eyes.
"Why you...!"she growled.
"DEIA! SIT DOWN!"said Athena in a quiet, albeit strong growl.
Her death-glare still in place, Deianira obeyed her mother without a word and Draco couldn´t surpress a smirk. Athena fixed his sights on the young blonde man and frowned.
"As I have told you during the Relationship Counsil at Hogwarts, we offer you and your family a chance to be a part of the new age we are ready to start in our population. Your father had already see the wisedom in joining and as for you, young Mr Malfoy, I´m sure you could benefit greatly from this."
Draco smiled automaticly.
"I am well aware of that, madam Kellen. Otherwise I wouldn´t be here."
Deianira´s face took on a more shocked look – this kid...
"I will personally teach this brat some manners!"she thought furiously, her hand longing to reach her wand.
Athena Kellen was slightly surprised, but for the most part kept her face neutral.
"Yes, well... as I said, we offer you the chance to..."
Draco held up his hand.
"You can be honest with me, madam Kellen. You NEED the support and power of the Malfoy family. And not just now, but into the next years as well. Per Wizarding Law regaring old pure-blood families, I – as the heir to the Malfoy family – now have the authority, that surpasses that of my father´s since becoming of age, dispite the fact that most of it is still in his hands. Meaning, that you will need ME more than him."
Thistime Athena´s face took on a look of shock. She took a breath to calm herself a bit.
"Well... you surprise me. I wasn´t expecting a young one such as you to have such extensive knowledge on the matter."
"I´m no fool, madam Kellen. I am a Malfoy."
Lucius beamed with pure pride, his eyes on his son.
"I am well prepared to join you in this, madam Kellen..."said Draco.
Lucius looked in happy wonder, but Narcissa gasped, looking at her son in astonishment.
Athena Kellen beamed happily while her daughter looked shocked once again.
"What´s he playing at?!"she wondered.
"However... there will be things you will have to do for me, madam Kellen."he said with a devilish smile, shocking the entire room.
He reached into his robes and pulled out a rolled parchment.
"I´ve taken the liberty of preparing a list of little favours I shall ask of you before I agree on being a part of this."
Athena took the parchment and began to read – her eyebrows rising with each line she read.
"This...you... you ask too much, Mr Malfoy."she whispered, looking at this young blonde man in wonder.
Draco smirked once again.
"Don´t misunderstand. You wish for me to be a part of your new regime and become your eldest daughter´s husband. To have this fufilled, you will need to put up a reasonable price. Plus I am NOT gratified with the position in your new hierarchy – a Malfoy hankering around on the position of a mediocre lower level? I think NOT. I am a Malfoy and therefore will assume a high position – as high as Deianira. If you want me on your side... well, (he gestured to the parchment in her hands) THIS is my price."he said in a voice that made it very clear, that he will not change his mind.
Deianira looked at her mother and judging from the look on her face, she knew that she will have no choice but to agree to the young brat´s demands. Lucius smirked, his son was a TRUE Malfoy indeed.