Asymmetric Warfare, Part 2
“People promise according to their hopes, but perform according to theirfears.” - Lucius Malfoy
They came just after midnight.
By tradition - almost as old as Hogwarts itself - Slytherin plots inside thedorms were limited to maneuvering. No fights, no thefts, no duels (savingSlytherin Duels) took place in the Dungeons itself. A Slytherin could restsafely inside his room, inviolate, protected by tradition. Pranks occurred,but actual attacks were unheard of.
Draco heard a quick shout, then Somnium! cast three times. Gregory slumpedoff his bed just as Draco’s eyes opened, then his sight was cut off quickly, abag placed over his head, and a few punches thrown in for good measure. Therewere voices, muffled voices, and Draco was carried away. Thoughts of theywouldn’t dare mixed in his head with a voice that replied they did. Dracothought they were taking him upstairs, but they doubled back and went down.Draco could tell they passed through the common room, and now the voices spokeup, more jovial. How many were there? _The hands holding him circled hisbiceps easily. Older students. _His wand? Probably dropped besides his bed.The Sigil? Draco thought for a moment, then decided to hold that in reserve.
_They mean to scare me. Not kill me. _Thinking it didn’t make it less scary.
Eventually they threw Draco into a chair and ripped the bag off his head.There were just three assailants, Draco thought there would be more, but justthree. _Maybe some had left? _The wall torches flickered behind his captors,they hadn’t bound him but then again he had no wand, and they were upperyears. Draco could see the stairs leading up and out, but couldn’t make itpast them. They wore black robes and black gloves, but plain white masks shonedimly in the reflected torchlight.
There didn’t seem to be anything worth saying, at this point.
The tallest one cast Petrificus Totalus! _Draco went rigid in his chair, butdidn’t quite slide out of it. His breathing grew more ragged, shallow. Twoothers started casting _Frigidero while the tall one created water and dousedDraco repeatedly. Their voices were distorted and impossible to recognize, butDraco didn’t think the tall one was Robert Jugson. A bit too round. Maybe hewas just hoping, though. Draco started shivering and, as the temperature gotcolder, panicking.
It hadn’t been real, his duel last spring with Hermione.
He hadn’t actually been cursed by a Blood Cooling charm. But fake memoriesfeel just as vivid as real ones. Draco remembered lying on the wooden floor,shivering and unable to move. He remembered getting so cold that he felt hot,wished he could slip out of his robes but limbs too tired to move, teeth notso much chattering as vibrating.
After a few more spells his captors seemed satisfied. Draco shivered but itwasn’t that cold, nothing compared to the Blood Cooling curse. The tall onekicked Draco’s feet up, he slid out of the chair and cracked his head againstthe stone floor and his vision exploded into lights.
“Now, you just stay here and think about how we don’t need saving. We’vegotten along fine without Little Lord Malfoy and we’ll do it again this year.”They doused him a few more times, cast a few more Frigidero spells, andextinguished the torches. Draco shivered, alone, and tried to get hisbreathing under control.
Draco focused and saw Harry’s face over him as several spells freed him andwarmed him up. Gregory, a hard look on his red face, burst down the stairsfollowed by Padma Patil, wand out. A second later, Colin Creevey came. Gregoryhelped him up, then handed him his wand. Draco pulled himself into the chair,not really listening to any of the questions or comments. Potter was sayingsomething about contacting the Headmistress.
“You can’t, Harry,” Draco said, “You know you can’t. No! You handled yourbullying yourself.”
“General,” said Padma, reaching out and touching his still wet sleeve, “thisisn’t just bullying. All the upper classman, in the common room, you know whatthey were doing this morning? Casting Aquamenti and Frigidero. To put outthe fire, they said.”
Draco realized the implication. Any inspection of wands will hide theculprits. A show of solidarity, against me. Draco took his wand and driedhimself, fixed his clothes, hid his bruises. .
“I suppose I should lose,” he said calmly. “There’s too many of them and theyare unified, apparently. They aren’t playing by any rules. It’s the smartplay.” Draco, who spent last night remembering the false memory of his neardeath, felt his blood run cold. “I suppose I should.” Draco made his decisionand quickly went up the stairs, taking them two at a time, as Harry shoutedafter him. Gregory ran behind him, whispering in his ear.
“Calm down. Don’t do anything rash. We can handle them, if you think aboutit. We’ve been doing well, we just misjudged. We’ve got allies, we need tofigure what to do.” Gregory’s words ended when they made it to the publicarea, the common room full of laughing upper class students who smiled andwaved, overly amiable. Padma hadn’t exaggerated much, if at all.
Harry Potter came up the stairs just in time to see Draco, face composed,walking back into the common room with Gregory by his side. Gregory’s wand wasout, as was Draco’s. Draco’s left hand held his cane, he tapped it slightlyalong the ground as he walked.
Harry reached for his wand. Padma, seeing Harry’s motion, drew hers as well.Draco walked over to a large upperclassman. The room hadn’t gotten quiet,students still chuckled as Draco stopped in front of MacNair, sitting in aplush chair.
Draco’s right hand came up and pointed his wand at the boy, who gave a bemusedsmile and said with mock indignation “Why Malfoy, what has gotten…” Dracobrought down the cane hard against the floor.
With a loud crack, Draco Malfoy and Michael MacNair disappeared from theSlytherin Common Room.
In the white haze MacNair reached for his wand and Draco lifted up his cane,shoving the head against the older boy’s cheek. Michael gave a start as herealized the snake head was hissing, fangs bared.
“Do you know, Michael, we keep a Krait at Malfoy Manor. It’s the symbol of myhouse, but don’t you think that’s carrying it a bit far? Who keeps a deadlysnake as a pet? Around small children? Why would you do that? I never reallyconsidered it until I got this. I wouldn’t reach for your wand.” Draco movedthe cane up slightly, and now the fangs dominated Michael’s view, a scant inchfrom his eye.
Michael’s hand slowly slipped out of the robes. Draco lowered his cane,slightly.
“I honestly have no idea if you were the ringleader behind that stunt, aparticipant, or just found it amusing. I had plenty of time to think about it,but I don’t particularly care. If I get attacked by anyone in the future,I’m blaming you. It’s nothing personal, but you’re one of the oldest andstrongest. Innocent or not, if I ruin your life everyone will think twice.Even if it costs me detention, expulsion or worse. The way I see it, if mylife becomes a horror I may as well deserve it.”
Draco could feel the strain of keeping them isolated draining him. Michaelstarted to say something, but Draco didn’t have time to make this aconversation.
“So if I get attacked by masked Slytherins I’m blaming you and we discoverjust how many friends are willing to avenge you. Well, I find out. You shouldprobably keep that to yourself if you have enemies. I’d hate to encouragesomeone who hates us both.”
“You just publicly attacked me,” said Michael, who had found his voice.
“That just makes it interesting,” said Draco, then added a sneer to his voice.“Just imagine, I’d be the first Malfoy to publicly get away with a crimeeveryone knew he committed.” He dropped his voice back to normal. “And are youreally just going to admit that I got the better of you in here?” The snakeslowly retracted its fangs, closed its mouth and returned to its originalform. Draco cracked the cane against the ground, and the Slytherin commonsjumped back into view.
Draco turned and walked back to his room, ignoring Harry Potter’s questions,while a visibly shaken MacNair settled back into his seat.
“What do you think that’s supposed to accomplish?” asked Harry, when they wereback in their room. Draco carefully set his cane back on his desk.
“Well, I doubt anyone will attack Gregory again, even if they attack me.That’s got to count for something.”
“Look, we’re in this together,” said Gregory
“You can’t just threaten,” said Harry over him, then they both stopped.Draco’s eyes shifted between them, and he realized that Padma had started tofollow them in, but had stopped in the doorway. He waved her in. ColinCreevey, thankfully, was nowhere to be seen.
“Did I threaten anyone?” said Draco. “Did you see me threaten anyone? MacNairwon’t say anything. That’s not how things work.”
“Yes, just like we are always safe in our dorm,” said Gregory. “I don’t thinkwe can rely on that anymore. I’m not saying it was a bad move, whatever youdid.”
“You escalated,” said Harry. “But I understand. I’ve done my share of thingsthat weren’t smart.”
“Just because it isn’t the smart play,” said Draco, “doesn’t mean it waswrong.”
Padma let out a sigh. “What can we do to help?”
Author’s Note - Lucius’s Quote is actually by La Rochefoucauld.