Draco Malfoy didn’t understand much of what was going on these days. Everything around him seemed to be crazy. He had no idea how the Death Eaters had suddenly gotten through Hogwart’s defenses, no one seemed to know that. Perhaps some of the professors knew, but if they did, they weren’t talking. Then there was what his mother had told him. That was the most puzzling of all.
“For your own safety, Draco, avoid Harry Potter at all costs.” Avoid him? What kind of advice was that? He abhorred him. The two had spent much of their spare time at school infuriating each other. But the strangeness of the request wasn’t that Draco would’ve done it anyway. It was the fact that, according to the rest of the school, Harry had died when the Death Eaters suddenly entered. It wasn’t that difficult to avoid a dead person. So naturally, he had questioned his mother on it.
“Avoid him? He’s dead, isn’t he?” His mother was distraught and nervous, as she had been for several weeks now. They were far from Voldemort’s favor, and any little slip up, anything at all, was a perfectly good excuse to wipe their family off the map. How far the Malfoys had fallen, Draco thought dejectedly.
“Draco, if I explain this to you, you’ve got to swear you won’t say it to anyone else. Please.”
He’d promised all kinds of things while at school, and done very few of them. He agreed to this as well. What his mother had said next still echoed in his mind.
“Harry is alive. And he’s one of the Death Eaters now. The dark lord’s favorite, it seems.”
“What?” Draco had whispered incomplete disbelief. “Mother, you’ve gone mad. Harry’s…”
“Do not argue with me. You asked and I told you. Most of the rest of us saw it, but you were still inside the castle. The dark lord has been keeping the boy at his side almost constantly. Almost all the rest of us are merely second-rate in comparison, and believe me, it’s pushing Bellatrix to insanity. If you see him, avoid him. And don’t presume you’re alone, he’s been prowling around in that cloak of his too.”
“You’re presuming we’re alone,” Draco had pointed out. Clearly, this was not a comforting thought to Narcissa, and he immediately apologized for making the point.
“Sorry. I’ll remember it. Thank you.”
He remembered, all right. He couldn’t get it out of his head. When and how had Harry come to join the Death Eaters? And why would Voldemort even allow it? Hadn’t he been trying to kill Harry all this time? Why suddenly make him an ally? It didn’t add up, in his mind. For once, he actually wanted to see his rival again, just to disprove his mother’s story, but if Harry was trying to stay hidden, what were the odds that…?
“Harry!” Draco froze. It was the Granger girl who had spoken, he recognized her voice. Quickly, he ducked behind a large column. She and someone else were talking in the empty section of hallway just ahead of him. The next time a voice spoke, it was hushed, so it was difficult to hear. Still, he made out most of it.
“Shh! Not so loud! I’m supposed to be dead, remember?”
“I’m sorry,” Hermione replied. “I’m sorry, but… but we were so scared. We heard you came back, and then all the Death Eaters started appearing and, oh, Harry, it’s just awful!”
“I know… I know…” Harry’s voice was sappily sympathetic. It sounded just like the same person Draco had always known. Perhaps his mother had finally broken under the stress.
“Listen, I think I know how we can beat the dark lord,” he said quietly. Draco froze. Hermione’s next words voiced his thoughts.
“Since when do you call him that?”
“What does it matter what I call him? Listen, though, I’ve got the perfect solution. It’s so obvious we should have thought of it before.”
“And what’s that?” If Hermione had suspicions, her tone indicated she was pushing them off.
“Felix felices,” Harry whispered. There was a long pause as Hermione contemplated her reply.
“Harry, if you’re suggesting I can make that potion, there’s no way. The ingredients are incredibly rare, and the process is hugely complicated, not to mention a total secret. Maybe Snape would’ve been able to, but anyone else…”
“Oh, Snape can do it,” Harry assured her.
“Harry,” she said seriously. “Snape died. We both saw it.”
“Of course he died. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t teach.” That made no sense to Draco whatsoever, but apparently to Hermione it did.
“You used the resurrection stone?”
“Of course. It was the only way to get him back. Listen. Snape can teach you how to make it, and I can take care of finding the materials, so don’t worry about that. Once it’s made, all I have to do is take a bit of it, and…”
Hermione wasn’t listening. “You used the resurrection stone…” she was repeating. “Harry, I know Snape’s evil and all of that, but you remember the story. It’s like torturing a person to bring them back.”
“Snape deserves it, doesn’t he?” Harry pressed. He got no positive response, so he changed his tactics. “Besides, who else could I ask? We have to do this, Hermione. It’s our only chance.” Again, she still did not answer. At least not for a good minute.
“He’s agreed to help?” she finally asked with suspicion.
“I’m… I’m working at that,” Harry finally admitted. “He will, though, trust me.” Harry sounded so completely confident that Draco even believed him, even though he only had half a clue what he was talking about.
“I’ll see you later. Think about it,” Harry finally said, sounding like he was getting ready to leave. Draco froze. If Harry started walking this way, he would see him for sure. However, the footsteps began heading in the opposite direction, before they were snuffed out by the swishing of the Invisibility Cloak. Draco waited a good long while even after he was sure Harry was gone before walking out from his hiding place. The Granger girl was still sitting there wringing her hands, in confusion and whatever else she was feeling right now.
“Hey,” Draco whispered quietly. She jumped a mile and gave out a yelp like an injured dog. Her eyes fell to Draco and immediately burned with dislike.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said defensively. “I just…” Well, he didn’t have any decent way to explain himself other than the truth, so that’s what he gave her. “I was just listening in.”
Clearly, this news was not pleasing to Hermione. She was shaking her head frightfully, and yet she looked like she might go for her wand at any moment.
“You low… you’d tell them, wouldn’t you? Go straight to the Death Eaters and tell them that Harry’s still alive?”
“They already know,” he said.
“Oh, right.” She had never used sarcasm when he was around her, and it sounded strange.
“They do! My mother told me, right before I came here and overheard you two talking. She said that…” Here he stopped himself immediately. He knew when he promised his mother he would say nothing, that he was only somewhat likely to hold to it, but he didn’t expect to be breaking his promise less than an hour after making it.
“She said that what?” Hermione was asking, impatient but curious. Draco’s mind raced. Should he tell her? He still wasn’t sure he totally believed it himself, but the way Harry talked, the way his mother was so worried…
“She said he’s a Death Eater now,” he told her, quietly as possible. That really made her mad.
“You’re low, Draco.”
“I’m just repeating what she told me. She said he’s Voldemort’s favorite, and was telling me to avoid him, and…”
“I’m not listening to your nonsense!” Hermione said angrily. She gripped her books as tightly as she could and turned to leave.
“Have you ever heard him use the term, ‘dark lord’ before? Ever?” Draco asked her. That got Hermione to stop walking away from him, though not to turn around and face him. There was a long awkward silence.
“If you want to check,” Draco finally said quietly. “The Dark Mark is branded on the left arm. It’ll be black now, what with you-know-who so close.”
“I know where it is,” Hermione snapped. She continued walking, buried in her anger. Her drab brown, tattered robed followed behind her. That was one of the first changes Voldemort had made. The mudbloods he didn’t decide to kill were given completely different dress, to make it obvious how low they were. He only hoped her intelligence would still serve her just as well. There wasn’t much else to do besides that.