29 : Unspoken Truths
"Can I go now? We do have class starting soon you know…"
"No. I still have a few things we need to discuss…"
"From someone with an IQ greater than that of the combined male population of Gryffindor, you sure are slow on the intake Lea…"
"Is this about Horris?"
Draco was actually expecting a more hesitant answer, not one that hit the bull's eye… but this was Lea, after all.
"Um, yes…" He nodded, feeling slightly foolish under her stare.
"Did you actually think I would fall for his charade?"
"You've sure acted like it!" He defended himself,
"Honestly! No one could change so rapidly as Horris seems to, One does not stay silent for almost a week after spending two with You-Know-Who only to act perfectly normal the next day Draco… he's putting on a show for the students. That's why he started the day before break ended."
"So you knew from the start?"
"So why in hell have you played the fool all this time?"
He complied, ignoring the order-like tone. Draco knew damn well her explanations could go longer than record-making Filibusters 1, even if she didn't offer her audience a chance to get comfortable. His mind didn't fancy hours of leaning against the wall, thank you very much.
"You probably don't want to hear this, but Horris is a great deal like Harry." She paused there, probably awaiting his retort. He stayed silent though, an expressionless mask firmly on his face. "They're different in many respects, but very similar all the same… like twins, separated at birth."
"One good, the other evil? Bent on destroying each other?" Draco retorted, sneering.
"Heavens no!" She called back instantly, looking hurt at the very suggestion, "besides, aren't Slytherins supposed to take care of each other?"
Where's she going with this? He nodded, raising a brow.
"You do know… oh, maybe not… er… Harry was supposed to be in Slytherin."
"He WHAT?" Draco nearly screamed, half gagging at the thought of that goodie-goodie in Slytherin green.
"He fought the hat… anyway, we're getting off topic. All I was trying to say was that the two often behave alike… I see little bits of Harry in Horatius at times… the way he tries to protect everyone, his selflessness, his eyes… Harry always pretended he was fine, that nothing bothered him… he even hid the little things. I think he practiced on them so he could hide the big ones… the ones involving You-know-who and stuff."
So Potter wasn't simply an airhead?
"He thought he let the entire world down by showing weakness, 'hope of the wizarding world' can't be human- right? Horris is doing the same… to protect us I guess, or the professor…"
Draco nodded, knowing how protective Horris had gotten when it came to his father, as if Aurors would kill him the moment he let down his guard.
"Or to keep the other Slytherins and Asps in line, it would do him no good if they began questioning his leadership abilities…"
"No." Draco cut in flatly, "Asps can't disobey him, even if he ordered us to kill ourselves. Once we pledge we are bonded to follow him forever."
"Either way," She insisted, pushing the stunned look out of her eyes as she regained her voice, "I know what he is trying to do… if he thinks it isn't working he'll tune us out completely and get even worse. The best thing we can do now is pretend we can't see he's living a lie and let him think he's a great actor. His performance is far better than any I've seen before so no one but people really close to him will notice any foul play. For now, that's the professor and us. If we tell him he might do something unsafe in desperation, it's not like he can go back to his previous state… it's best he thinks we don't know."
"Don't know what?" A voice called from the doorway, sounding far from amused.'He was wet, dirty and tired. More importantly, he was frustrated with the mission, angry at the idiot he had believed actually knew where he ought to go, angrier at himself for trusting the man and worried sick about Harry. Not that he expected a swarm of owls or anything, the boy didn't write him too often during the school year… still, nothing since the end of summer worried him. Sure, with the amount of work Dumbledore had given him he couldn't actually worry too much, nor would he blame any owl for getting lost… he'd been sent on a scavenger hunt that tossed him from continent to continent… the apparating alone gave him a headache! Either way, he wished he could make sure Harry was alright, that You-Know-Who didn't try to kill him… again.
"Just find the stone." He muttered, readjusting the straps on his backpack. The headmaster had promised he could return as soon as he received the stone from some 'old acquaintance' of Dumbledore's, whose name was simply impossible to pronounce. From what little he had been told, even the person's sex hadn't been disclosed, he only knew that said person could be found by searching for the 'Blind Seer of the East'.
'At least he had found out his good looks had not all faded in Azkaban… all he had really needed was a good shave, a haircut, some decent clothes and a few good meals. Now no one could really associate the handsome blue-eyed stranger with the infamous escaped convict. Wouldn't Harry be surprised! Oh if only he could see him now… Sirius smiled as he pictured the surprise on his godson's face… like the look James had when he got elected Quidditch captain , or when Sirius invited them all for a week to his father's cottage in the Alps… As soon as he got the stone he would be able to see Harry… properly, face to face, hug to hug. Dumbledore had promised him a week, but Sirius could most likely puppy-eye three… six if Harry joined in… Oh, to just find the bloody stone!'"Don't do that!" Lea called out, "You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
"What do you know?" He repeated oddly, "Now."
His hands were shaking slightly, with rage or fear, and his eyes sparkled as if shielding a blazing inferno.
"We… we know you're not as well-off as you pretend to be Horris, we're worried." Horris relaxed slightly at Lea's explanation, unintentionally telling Draco that he had other secrets to hide. "I don't want to lose you too," Hermione exclaimed, moving to hug Horris.
"Don't touch me!" He yelled suddenly, making Draco jump and lea practically burst into tears as she stopped her advance mid-step. But Horris corrected himself quickly, "I'm not angry Lea, not at you anyway."
"It hurts." He stated sternly, making Draco raise a curious brow…
Hadn't I healed everything?
"what hurts?" He asked instantly, looking Horris over for any sign of limping or… something.
"Right, I'm leaving…" Lea agreed, having received a glare from Horris that told her to scram in no uncertain terms, "I have that… that class to get to…" She mumbled.
"Well?" Draco insisted, seeing her beyond earshot.
In response, Horris pulled up his sleeve, revealing his toned arm. He had gained a good deal of muscle during his stay with Voldemort, not that Draco was eager to get a similar workout…
"I don't see anything wrong mate…" And he wished he could take back his words as soon as they left his mouth. "What the hell!"
"Concealing charms." Horris explained flatly, mussing the meaning of Draco's questioning outcry.
"Two days after you healed me."
"WHAT! Why didn't you… why…who did this?"
"Voldemort." And Draco paled.
"Please tell me that psycho can't enter Hogwarts…"
"But when I was…'in his care'," Horris continued, "I sometimes healed myself with the venoms, so he targeted the area that produces them, our lower back if you're interested, just below our kidneys. Anyway, he screwed them up somehow… my control of them to be more precise, I never know which is which anymore."
"Permanent?" Draco asked feebly, too overwhelmed to ask anything more intelligent at the moment.
"Don't think so… I'm starting to notice the differences now, but it's still like trying to feel with a numb hand."
"But what's that got to do with this?" Draco asked, pointing at the seemingly endless number of spots that looked like rotten bruises all over his arm. The only place he'd ever seen anything like it was his father's Dark Mark.
"I'm immune to the killing curse because it's one of my venoms."
"But only in the sense of it's primary function."
Now Draco looked at Horris, away from the spots. "The killing curse is designed to kill. I'm immune to that aspect of it. It still hurts like hell. I figure it's akin to the Cruciatus, only the pain is not turned up from zero but ignited at full power… by increasing the pain instead of just blasting it the Cruciatus allows the body enough time to adjust- barely. You can't feel it going up it does it so fast, but that split second makes all the difference. The killing curse just overloads the body with pain, killing the person. The reason no one feels it when they die is because it kills faster than the brain can acknowledge the pain… except for me."
"What about the…" what were they, exactly, "the…er…spots?"
Horris sighed, a haunted look in his eye.
'"Ever wonder why the Dark Mark is permanent?" Horris asked sadly, "or why it hurts so bloody much?" Then he smiled. It wasn't a compounded smirk but a grim smile, almost like the one Black sported in all the wanted posters back in third year… it bordered on senile. "It's based on the killing curse, concentrated to only kill certain tissues in a limited area. A mirror spell is cast so that when the new skin grows it's also killed off… the mirror spell connects to Voldemort, allowing him to hit his followers with pain at will… it also turns dormant if he doesn't exploit it for a while, making the mark invisible after a period of non-use."
"But not undone…" Draco finished, Horris nodding. "Did he tell you this or-"
"He tried to mark me… a few times." Horris answered, not waiting for Draco to ask, rubbing his arm. "Each lasted a day, two at most… my body undid it using the venoms, neat little trick really, once I figured out what was happening… One thing he did right I guess, gave us some powerful self-preservation instincts…"
Horris was laughing, a laugh that could have easily passed for crying. It was no joyous laugh but one of self-preservation that scared Draco as it rang in his ears. It was as if the forced laugh was all that kept Horris from breaking down. "The 'spots', as you call them, are a result of my jumbled venoms… my body is shooting the killing venom in an attempt to heal me."
"Can I help?" Was about the only thing Draco figured to be an appropriate response. What was he supposed to say to that? 'Ouch' or 'That sucks mate'?
"You might… I know how to undo them, but I can't very well try with my venoms."
"It's odd really, a combination of healing and waking venoms. It can't revive the dead, but it does destroy the mirror spell and heals the marked skin"
"One to one ratio?"
"Three to one… you need far more heal than wake. I just hope I'm not immune to your waking venom."
"I just hope you don't accidentally let any of your AK venom lose while I'm doing this…" Draco retorted.
"I won't let any lose, promise."
'"What did he do to you, really?" Draco finally asked, unable to stop the words. "I won't believe he just wanted to torture you."
"He didn't want to, actually… he figured he'd win my loyalty, he needs my loyalty. When playing nice didn't seem to work he switched to… other methods. He knew I was Alpha since the first day we met him, did you know that? I was such a fool…"
"He tried to force you to submit?"
"Scare me into obedience more like it…"
"Did it work?"
"He went livid when the mark faded, tried to put it on over and over… I thought he'd kill me at times, sometimes I wished he did…"
"Three to one ratio, right?" Draco interrupted, changing the subject as quickly as he could and cursing himself mentally. Horris was already shaking in the seat Lea had occupied, wrapping his arms around his knees.
"Yeah. You have to blend them or it won't work properly… start on my arms; they don't hurt as much."
"Got it."'"No you sit down and listen… I've kept quiet so far but by Merlin, I am going to get answers!"
"I have enough problems right now Ginny… will you just-"
"No. I am not going to let this slide anymore. I can't believe you don't even care where he is… even if you weren't on the best of terms before he disappeared. Then again, you don't seem to worry about Harry either… or is he also a devil in disguise?"
"Don't you dare compare him to your brother!" She practically screamed, "I'm sorry I ever knew him!"
"How can you say that? Ron's been missing since before Christmas... he was your friend Hermione!" "You don't know anything!"
"Then enlighten me, oh all-knowing one!"
"Why? Because little Ginny ought to stay stupid all her life? Because I'm too fragile? Bull! I can handle as much as you and you know it!"
"Calm down… I wish I didn't know."
"You… you know where he is, don't you? You know and you won't tell anyone?"
"No! If you don't tell me… I'll… I'll make you tell me!"
"How? You think you could cast Imperious?"
"You really spend too much time with Slytherins if that's the first thing you think of!"
"Better safe than sorry."
"I've had the curse put on me twice… once in class and once by someone I thought was my friend… what am I supposed to expect from you?"
"You're comparing me to Snape ?" Ginny asked in outrage, her hands held in tight fists at her sides.
"Horris wouldn't do that… he can, he doesn't need to."
"Alright, if you think I'm lying I won't arguer with you. I'm far too tired to do so and I've got a million other things to worry about."
"Are you lying?"
"That's for you to decide. Right now I'm already late as it is…"
And with that she walked away, hoping she had done the right thing. Lea couldn't keep her from the truth, but the longer Ginny didn't believe her the happier she would be, the younger. No one ought to find out their loved one is a Deatheater… especially at so young an age. They'd find out soon enough, too soon probably, and shock is at times easier to deal with than confirmation.