A Dragon and a Phoenix

Chapter 30

I opened the door and found the rooms to be much like my own, but a bit smaller and lacking the view that I had. Dad was the first to see me standing awkwardly in the doorway. He rose from his chair and came over to hug me.

"Well it took you long enough to get here," Mother snapped, ruining the moment.

I sighed and stepped away from Dad, walking over to where she sat. "It's lovely to see you for the holidays too, Mother. Yes, the Malfoys have treated me brilliantly," I replied waspishly.

"You always were an ungrateful little snot. I'm sure Narcissa has treated you better than you deserve," she retorted.

"Not that it would matter to you either way. You're just happy to be rid of me. You never would have had me or Dakoda if it wasn't for the continuation of the family name." I snapped. "What did you summon me here for anyway?"

Before Mother could get in full argument swing, Dad intervened. "We really just wanted to see you, princess. I know you never wanted an arranged marriage and I'm sorry for how this all happened. I thought maybe we should talk about it so you can have the whole story."

I relaxed and nodded at him. I trusted Dad to tell me the truth, and he was right, I did want the whole story. Based on the few details that I had been told, I figured that it couldn't hurt to hear him out. I walked to the small sofa and perched on the edge of the seat. This shouldn't take long, and despite the fact that I was happy to see Dad, I didn't want to spend any more time than necessary with Mother.

He unbuttoned his suit jacket as he sat down in the armchair across from me. "There are a few things that we haven't told you because we didn't want you to panic. I'll start at the beginning so nothing gets confused," he took a deep breath. "While you were at Hogwarts, your brother went missing."

I gaped at him, blindsided with this information. Before I could berate him with questions, he continued, "He had gone outside to play quidditch with some of his friends and we didn't think anything of it. When he wasn't back for dinner, however, we started searching for him. All of the other children insisted that he had left just after lunch to come home. We returned home and were just about to contact magical law enforcement to widen the search and get alerts out, but there was a knock at the door and we thought someone had found him. Narcissa was there. She said that she had heard what had happened to Dakoda and insisted that she could help us find him, but there was something that she wanted in return."

I could already see where this was going. She'd had my brother abducted so she could corner my parents into signing me into a marriage contract and tie her family to mine. Seething with anger, I tried to reign in the building rage. I did not want to set the room on fire.

"Of course, we wanted whatever help we could get to find him, so we invited her in to find out what she wanted. I assumed she wanted me to use my contacts at the ministry to get Lucius' sentence reduced in some way. What she asked for shocked me to say the least. She wanted us to arrange a match between you and Draco. I knew how you felt about him, and when she explained why she thought you would be perfect for what she wanted, I immediately suspected that she had kidnapped Dakoda. When I accused her, she laughed and said that she would have if she'd thought of it, but it wasn't her. Apparently she had overheard a couple of Death Eaters discussing a 'job' that some young recruit had been given in order to bring a family of purebloods into the fold. She found out who they were talking about, and formulated her own plan to use his disappearance to broker a deal with us. She knew where the kidnapper would be keeping him and how to get him out without being caught. If we hadn't agreed, they would have used him as leverage to force us all to accept the Dark Mark," he looked at me imploringly, silently begging me to understand.

I wanted to be angry with him for making a deal with Narcissa Malfoy, but I had to admit that under those kinds of circumstances there weren't a lot of choices. "Why didn't you just agree to what she wanted and then refuse to sign once you had Dakoda back?" I asked, although I already knew that she was smarter than that.

He looked at me sadly, as though I were ripping his very heart out. "Princess, you know I would have done anything to keep you from losing your freedom this way, but Narcissa insisted on the Unbreakable Vow that we would do as she asked before she would bring Dakoda back to us. After we performed the Vow, she left and went to rescue him. We were worried that something like this would happen again once his captors realized that he was gone, so we took extra security precautions around the manor. Your mother still felt that there was a risk that they would come back for him, so we had her take Dakoda to your aunt's instead of bringing him home for a while. It's safer there for him."

Throughout his explanation Mother had been exceedingly quiet. She tapped her nails unconcernedly; changing the color of her polish as if we'd merely been discussing the weather. It was infuriating to see the plight of her children affected her so little.

"Do you even care that Death Eaters had Dakoda, or that your only daughter is being forced to marry the son of one?" I demanded.

Shooting me a glare, she retorted hotly, "I feel worse for the Malfoy boy, being shackled to such a mouthy, uncouth girl such as you. You should be happy to become a member of such a powerful family. We're lucky Narcissa wanted you at all. Dakoda is unharmed, and it's not like he is in any real danger," she hissed.

Dad registered what she said just as I had. He looked as though he'd been slapped. I shot to my feet in a blind rage, filled with hatred for the woman that bore me. I'd never known anger like this before, and something inside me was breaking free.

Tendrils of air swirled around me, gathering strength and speed. "YOU SOLD US OUT FOR YOUR OWN SELFISH REASONS! YOU NEVER WANTED ME, BUT HOW DARE YOU USE DAKODA LIKE THAT! AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S NOT LIKE HE IS IN ANY REAL DANGER? IS HE EVEN REALLY AT AUNT PERSEPHONE'S HOUSE?"

As I yelled at her, I began to rise in a whirlwind. My hair fanned out behind me, only gently disturbed by the gale that surrounded me. Dad reached for me, hoping to stop the vicious transformation taking over before his eyes. With barely a thought I raised my hand at him without looking and winds forced him back into a chair and shoved it out of the way against the far wall. Pinned safely from harm's way, I returned my full attention to the pathetic excuse for a mother that stood in front of me.

"You think this slight show of power scares me, little girl?" she sneered.

"You think I care what scares you? This is about your lack of humanity and the way you traded us about as if we were some cheap commodity, just a means to an end. I've never had any delusions that you were a good mother, that you actually even liked me, much less loved me, but I thought you at least cared a bit about Dakoda!" I yelled.

She scoffed, "The two of you were never more than a way to please your father. He insisted that I give him an heir, so I did. You should have been a boy, then I wouldn't have to deal with you and I would have only had to go through the whole ordeal of having a child once! This marriage is the best thing that you could do for this family, for me! I traded you like the livestock you are, and my only regret is that I wasn't able to do it sooner. You're right, I planned this with Narcissa. She needed a respectable family name associated with her own because status is everything, and your father having connections at the Ministry only sweetened the deal. When she asked me, I had to hide my eagerness so she wouldn't know how glad I was to be rid of you. We staged the abduction and then had your poor fool of a father make the Unbreakable Vow to ensure your compliance. I knew that once you understood that his life would be forfeit you'd go through with it no matter how much you hated the thought of it. And no, Dakoda isn't at your Aunt Persephone's house. I'm not sure where they're keeping him. Narcissa isn't the one who took him. I've been assured that he is safe and sound, though. He will be returned home when you're married."

My vision changed, became more acute, and somehow I knew that if I could see them there would be nothing but darkness there. The whites completely consumed with fathomless pits of black, lightened only by the burning flames dancing in their centers. Hot tears of rage streamed down my face and my soul screamed for vengeance.

Glaring at her, I realized that she suddenly looked a bit startled by what she was seeing. A pale reflection glinted off of the windows behind her and I could see why. What I had thought were tears were streams of liquid flames that traced lines of fire down my cheeks and either side of my neck before trailing across either shoulder and down my arms to collect in my hands. Globes of fire licked at my fingers, neither frightening, nor harming me.

Without giving it much thought, I began throwing these fireballs at her. She somehow knew when she saw them forming, however, what I was about to do. She flicked her wand, quickly deflecting them. They each sailed across the room, one setting fire to the spare chair, the other catching the drapes alight.

"YOU SENT MY TEN YEAR OLD BROTHER AWAY WITH STRANGERS, WITH DEATH EATERS! YOU SIGNED ME AWAY TO SOMEONE YOU KNEW I DIDN'T EVEN LIKE, MUCH LESS WANT TO MARRY, AND YOU HAD THE NERVE TO COME HERE AND THROW IT IN MY FACE!" I screeched, still hurling orbs of fire at her.

She continued to deflect them, and now half the room was on fire, but she laughed at my frustration that none of them had hit their target. Wrapping my arms around myself, I held back the scream that was threatening to emerge. I felt a growing heat in my chest, one that was nearly overpowering, and instinctively I flung my hands out toward my mother, a blast of heat and fire bursting forth from me. Her dress caught fire, and she shrieked in panic. The windows behind her had shattered with the force of the blast and I willed myself out of them; the winds surrounding me carrying me out into the frigid night air.

I went to the only truly familiar place on the grounds, the labyrinth. My anger subsided by the time I made it there, and I collapsed on the bench in the center garden utterly exhausted. Apparently such a show of emotions took a toll on you physically. Who knew? I never would have thought that I was capable of such things before tonight. I'd never seen anyone in our family truly lose control like that though, and obviously I wasn't the only one. Mother had looked positively shocked by my hidden talents.

I sat there wondering how Dad had ever ended up with someone like her. He was so calm and collected. He was always in control, always handled things so well. She was so shallow and mean spirited. Other than her appearance, she had no redeeming qualities that I had ever seen. I suppose she did see to his every whim, though. She always wanted all of his attention; so much so that she was even jealous of the love he showed for their children. He had always made allowances for her behavior, been tolerant of her sulking. I suppose there weren't many men that wouldn't want a wife that adored him so much. It just didn't seem fair that Dakoda and I had suffered the consequences.

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