- Albus Severus Potter Draco Malfoy Ginny Weasley Harry Potter James Potter II Lily Potter II Teddy Remus Lupin The Weasley Family
- Children of Characters in the HP novels
- Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix Half-Blood Prince Deadly Hallows (Through Ch. 36) Epilogue to Deathly Hallows Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them The Tales of Beedle the Bard J.K. Rowling Interviews or Website
Published: 03/17/2010Updated: 04/16/2016Words: 449,284Chapters: 98Hits: 153,722
Questions and Answers
- Story Summary:
- What happens when the past collides with the present and threatens to cast the Potters' and Weasleys' lives into disarray...
Chapter 63 - In Their Skins
Hannah paced the corridor with Eric, her arms beginning to ache from carrying him down to the end and back. Neville had offered to take him, but Hannah just shook her head, and continued to slowly walk to the suit of armor that guarded the entrance to the corridor of the staff living quarters to the lion that marked where she and Neville lived. Eric snuffled and buried his face in her neck, one hand clutching the front of her jumper. His chin was coated in saliva, and her jumper bore a widening splotch under Eric's cheek.
The soft scrape of a door opening beyond the suit of armor made Hannah turn, her arms tightening around Eric. Scorpius slipped through the door, a bulky book tucked under one arm. She stood slightly behind the suit of armor, watching him curiously. It wasn't uncommon for any of the staff to find Scorpius tucked into a remote nook or cranny of the school, reading a book or letter from home, or sometimes studying, when he wasn't in the company of the myriad Potter and Weasley children. He settled on a bench under a window and let the book fall open to a spot marked by an old quill.
Scorpius stared at the chapter heading. Draco Malfoy. He didn't particularly enjoy delving into his family's past, but figured he'd gone this far. It would be cowardly to turn back now. -And Gryffindors aren't cowards! he thought fiercely, inhaling deeply, steeling himself, then let his eyes drop to the page.
Of all the Death Eaters, Draco Malfoy is thought to be one of the most complex enigmas of the war.
Unlike the other members of Lord Voldemort's inner circle, Draco's reasons for joining at such a young age are somewhat muddled. Whereas the members of his father's generation had explicit desires to serve the Dark Lord, Draco was pushed into the role vacated by his father's arrest and imprisonment in Azkaban following the battle at the Department of Mysteries. Draco was an unusual case - not only was he underage, it's unclear just how enamored he was of Voldemort's cause. What scant anecdotal evidence that exists of Draco's initiation into the inner circle, the general impression is one of great reluctance. In fact, the only reliable account comes from the transcripts of his own mother's trial, slightly less than a year after the war ended, nearly three years after Draco joined the Death Eaters.
From what little we can glean from Narcissa Malfoy's recollections, Draco was ordered to appear before Voldemort on pain of death if he foolishly chose not to obey. Once inducted into the Death Eaters, Draco was commanded to murder Albus Dumbledore, a task Draco failed at miserably - something to which even Draco admitted to in his trial. In the process of trying to kill Dumbledore, Draco nearly killed two other students, due to his rather half-hearted attempts. In fact, by attempting to use intermediaries to carry out the deed, via a cursed necklace and poisoned mead, Draco merely set himself up for failure, as he was unable to fully control what happened with the necklace or the mead once they left his hands. He was even offered the chance for both him and his mother to be hidden by the Order of the Phoenix. He refused.
It was by Draco's own devices that the Death Eaters were allowed to enter Hogwarts, thus beginning the first battle of Hogwarts. He conspired to repair a Vanishing Cabinet, which has since been destroyed, that would create a clear path inside Hogwarts, and therefore bypass all the security charms that were placed on the castle.
After Dumbledore's death at the hands of Severus Snape, Draco found himself enmeshed even more tightly in the inner circle of the Death Eaters. Voldemort appropriated their home for his headquarters and Draco, by his own admission, was present for the murder of Chastity Burbage, the Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts. It should be noted that he had nothing to do with Burbage's murder, he was simply required to be in attendance. During his trial, Draco was quite forthcoming with his activities during that year, both at school and at home. He was forced to torture other Death Eaters when they failed in their missions and other students by the Carrows, actions that Draco confessed repulsed him. However, during the final battle of the war at Hogwarts, Draco was charged with the capture of Harry Potter by Voldemort, a task Draco said he gave his fullest effort, in the hopes that if - if - the Dark Lord were to win, his successful apprehension of Potter would restore his family to their places of honor in Voldemort's inner circle - a place lost two years before after the battle in the Department of Mysteries, their status slipping even further upon Draco's failure to murder Dumbledore.
Probably the one saving grace that kept him out of Azkaban occurred when Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger were captured by Snatchers, along with Dean Thomas in April of nineteen ninety-eight, shortly before Easter. When Draco had the opportunity to hand Potter over to the Death Eaters, he refused to identify Potter, even though Potter said in his testimony during the trial that Draco obviously recognized him, but lied to protect his identity. Potter also stated that while Draco and two of his friends tried to capture him at Hogwarts, Draco's only attempt to participate in the battle was trying to convince a fellow Death Eater who was attacking him that he was, in fact, Draco Malfoy and not someone else.
All in all, Draco's Curriculum Vitae as a Death Eater is rather ignominious: unsuccessful and humiliated at every turn. Some have theorized that was also a measure in keeping him out of Azkaban. However, the terms of his probation, like his father, have kept him a virtual prisoner of the Ministry, regardless of a lack of actual prison time. The terms of his probation are remarkably similar to his father's, with one exception: he was allowed to keep his wand. Some members of the Wizengamot protested vociferously at this condition, but the Minister of Magic argued Draco would be under constant surveillance, and seeing as a term of his probation automatically sent him to Azkaban for using it in a malicious manner at all, not merely Unforgivables, it might be enough of a deterrent to Draco to avoid any and all attempts to reprise Voldemort's philosophies or resurrect the Death Eaters.
Again, the question arises of what would have been worse - a lengthy sentence in Azkaban, or the countless humiliations heaped upon Draco's personal freedoms as a result of his probationary terms. At the very least, a sentence in Azkaban would have allowed Malfoy to fade into the mists of memory.
In the end, Draco could have avoided much of what he did that last year of the war had he accepted the offer of sanctuary within the Order of the Phoenix Dumbledore offered before he died. But the pull of Voldemort and what he could offer Draco was too strong.
Hannah watched as Scorpius closed the book, his face impassive - almost too impassive. She shifted Eric a bit and her eyes narrowed as she tried to read the title of the book from her position behind the suit of armor. Able make out the faded title on the spine, she turned and padded quietly down the corridor, shouldering the door to their quarters open. 'Nev,' she whispered, so as not to wake Eric. 'Scorpius is in the corridor, and I think he might very much like someone to talk to.' When Neville looked at her in bemusement, Hannah added, 'He's been reading...' When Neville's face still showed signs of confusion, she sighed and laid Eric into the travel cot near the sofa. 'He's reading about the last war,' she said significantly.
Neville's face cleared and he slid off the sofa, trailing a stack of seventh-year essays behind him. 'And all his friends are still at home...' he murmured distractedly, hurrying out of the sitting room.
Scorpius sat motionless on the bench, the fading light throwing shadows over his face. He blinked slowly as Neville settled next to him. Scorpius waited for Neville to stay something, but Neville seemed to be waiting for him. 'I hate him,' Scorpius said quietly.
Neville glanced at the cover of the book, Scorpius' hands clenched around it. 'Which one?' he asked.
Scorpius' mouth twisted. 'Both of them,' he said finally. 'But mostly my...' His lips pressed together in a white line. 'Father,' he ground out.
'Why?' Neville asked, startled. He knew Draco hadn't made much of an effort to maintain contact with Scorpius since he'd started school, but Scorpius seemed to have managed to make some sort of peace with it.
Scorpius shook his head slowly. 'He should have died than submit to... to...' He was unable to say the name. 'Him.' He stared at Neville. 'You knew him... Was he always such a coward?'
Neville didn't know what to say. As much as he had disliked Draco in school, he was loathe to demean the man any further than the book had managed to do. He heaved a sigh and let his head fall back against the wall behind them. 'Let's just say your father chose to do what was easiest, because to go against what his father's wishes could have been... Well...' Neville shifted uneasily. He didn't feel it was his place to voice his suspicions that Draco had been abused by his father, mentally, if not physically. 'It wouldn't have gone over well,' he muttered.
Scorpius snorted derisively. 'I've done nothing but go against my father,' he scoffed. 'I'm not exactly damaged.'
Neville arched an eyebrow. He could argue with Scorpius about that, but decided now wasn't the time to belabor the point. 'Different circumstances,' he said pointedly. 'It's not life or death with you. With your father...' He shrugged a little. 'Forging his own path might have cost him his life. And the lives of his parents. Because that's what V...' Neville screwed his eyes shut. Even after all these years, he still had difficulty saying the name, not unlike several others of his generation. 'Voldemort,' he managed to say on a gust of air, 'would have done.' He gently ran a hand over Scorpius pale blonde hair. 'That's why you can do what you do, because you haven't got that hanging over your head.'
Scorpius eyed Neville for a moment. 'I know what you're trying to do, professor,' he said wryly. 'I don't feel sorry for him. Because as far as I can tell, he hasn't changed since then. And doesn't really want to.' He slid off the bench and slipped through the door, leaving Neville staring after him in open-mouthed shock.
Teddy slipped into Courtroom Five. It wasn't the legendary Courtroom Ten of the Death Eater trials, but it was still foreboding. A single chair occupied a space in the middle of the room, surrounded by stone benches. Torches ringed the walls in heavy sconces, their light flickering ominously. He took a seat in the topmost row, his back braced against the wall. He tucked his hands into the sleeves of his jumper against the slight chill and waited, staring intently at the chair.
Members of the Wizengamot filed into the courtroom in ones and twos, their plum velvet robes seeming to absorb the light, rather than reflect it. The seats in the observation gallery began to fill. Some of them were victims of Sampson's schemes, but others were merely curious onlookers. Teddy kept his gaze on a solid wooden door directly behind the chair. It was where Sampson would emerge, escorted by four burly Hit Wizards, laden with so many anti-Apparition jinxes, it was a wonder he could move of his own volition. So preoccupied was Teddy with watching the door, that he didn't see Harry slide onto the bench next to him. 'I didn't see your name on the witness list,' Harry commented idly.
Teddy jumped, his back slamming painfully into the wall. 'It's not,' he hissed through gritted teeth. 'Just wanted to see it all end,' he muttered.
Harry gave his godson a thoughtful glance and joined him in looking down at the chair in the center of the room. 'Looked up to him, did you?'
Teddy squirmed a bit. 'Some,' he admitted. 'I didn't work with Sampson much before he retired, but all of us in the training program admired him somewhat when he was teaching us. He'd been round for ages, and was an amazing Obliviator. Plus, he could do Legilimancy. And not very many people can do that, as you know...'
Harry nodded. 'Difficult when you realize someone you admire isn't quite what you imagined.'
Teddy shrugged, trying to maintain an air of nonchalance. 'I suppose,' he murmured. The room grew quiet as Shacklebolt strode into the courtroom. Harry's brow rose slightly. He had assumed Percy would oversee the trial, but Shacklebolt was making quite a statement by handling it personally - this kind of behavior was not to be tolerated. Harry knew the fact it would be an open-and-shut case mattered little to Shacklebolt. His presence gave the trial a certain amount of legitimacy that would send a message to the group in Ireland that while talking about their dislike of all things Muggle was permitted with great reluctance, any sort of actions would result in what was sure to be plastered all over the -Prophet for days to come.
As Shacklebolt took his seat in the large chair reserved for the Minister, or his assistant, he flicked his wand at the door and it opened, revealing the expected Hit Wizards and Kieran Sampson. If Teddy thought Sampson would be cowed by the surroundings, he would have been terribly mistaken. Sampson glared at the witches and wizards in the observation gallery, then turned his scathing gaze to the Wizengamot. Teddy felt his fists clench, and he leaned back into the wall. The Hit Wizards manhandled Sampson into the chair and heavy ropes firmly bound him to it. Harry shifted uneasily. It reminded him far too strongly of Dumbledore's memories of the first Death Eater trials.
Shacklebolt rose to his feet and fixed Sampson with a stern look. 'Kieran Sampson, you are hereby charged with the following counts of Muggle-baiting.' He read a long list of incidents, pausing after each one. 'You are also charged with the conspiracy to commit murder, and the attempted murder of the Head Auror, Harry Potter. Do you understand these charges?'
'Perfectly,' Sampson sneered.
'Do you have anything to say in your defense?' Shacklebolt intoned.
'Only that the boundaries between our world and theirs keep shrinking... Soon we'll be working side-by-side with people who don't understand us and have no desire to try. They're limited by their inability to see things as they really are.'
'If I may...?' A voice chimed softly from the back rows of the assembled Wizengamot. Harry glanced toward the rustling sound and started when Hermione stood, a faintly pitying look on her face. He hadn't thought she'd be back at work so soon. 'Why did you think throwing up walls between the wizarding world and Muggles world would be in any way productive? History teaches us walls serve no other purpose than to create a sense of paranoia and irrational fear about the "other". I fail to see the rationale for your actions. Perhaps you could explain them to me in terms I might be able to understand.' She remained standing.
'Look at your own family,' Sampson retorted coolly.
'I'm somewhat bemused as to how my family fits into this,' Hermione said quietly.
'It's the prime example why I did it. I've no argument with Muggle-borns. It doesn't do to concentrate the bloodlines. The Black family alone is an argument to look elsewhere for marriage partners.'
Hermione's lips thinned, but she remained silent.
'The rest of them...? They've all married half-bloods at the very least. Except for your husband's oldest brother. Now, the family's littered with beasts... Veela, werewolves...'
Teddy jerked angrily, the heels of his boots thudding heavily on the stone floor.
Hermione's eyes flicked toward the visitor's gallery. Teddy's hair gleamed dully in the darkness, dark red in the gloom. 'But even that's acceptable,' she said neutrally. 'According to you, because they can manipulate magic. Is that right?'
'Yes,' Sampson spat. 'Better to wed a werewolf that happens to be a wizard than a Muggle,' he grunted, staring straight at Teddy.
'So you don't deny any of your actions?' Hermione persisted evenly.
Sampson turned his gaze to her. 'Why would I? And I'm not ashamed of them.'
'Is that why you felt the need to Imperius several wizards who were already on probation for their activities as Death Eaters to not only perform the Muggle-baitings, and then to modify their memories as well to cover your tracks?' Shacklebolt rumbled, his sonorous voice quiet, but it rolled off the walls nonetheless.
'I did nothing of the sort,' snorted Sampson. 'I just allowed them to do what they've been dying to do for the past twenty years.'
'Then why did you have to put them under an Imperius curse in the first place?' Shacklebolt wondered.
'They kept protesting it was against the terms of their probations. I merely put aside their misgivings.'
'With brute force,' Hermione chimed in. 'Or what amounts to brute force,' she amended. 'The very nature of an Imperius curse is that for most people -' She cast a wry glance at Harry. 'For most people it represses their own ability to even comprehend the consequences of their actions. You effectively put a stumbling block in front of a blind man.'
Sampson was, at last, speechless, under the onslaught of verbal logic from Hermione. Shacklebolt smothered a smile and turned to the assembled members of the Wizengamot. 'I think we can come to a decision now,' he said. 'All those who find Kieran Sampson guilty...?' All the hands rose into the air. Hermione nearly thrust a clenched fist into the air. Shacklebolt nodded. 'Kieran Sampson, you have been found guilty as charged. You will spend the remainder of your life in Azkaban.' He nodded at the Hit Wizards, who flicked their wands and Sampson and the ropes that bound him to the chair loosened briefly, then wound around his wrists and arms. He was guided from the courtroom through the door behind the chair. The door slammed shut with a resounding thud.
Harry and Teddy remained seated while the rest of the observers filed out of the courtroom. Hermione wound her way to them and perched on the bench next to Harry, smoothing her hair back into its simple chignon. 'It's a bit anti-climactic, don't you think?' she said idly. 'All those years of investigation and surveillance boils down to a crackpot who thinks he can make things go back to the way they were.'
Harry inhaled deeply through his nose. This was where Draco and Lucius' trials had been. He could still recall how Draco had strode through the door behind the chair, head held proudly high, but so pale, Harry could see the veins pulsing in his forehead. Lucius on the other hand had treated the proceedings with his usual contempt. A way to scrape together the dregs of his dignity, knowing the rest of his life wouldn't amount to a single Knut. His mind took a sideways turn and the photograph of Lavinia Malfoy in a file on his desk intruded into his thoughts. What would have happened to Lucius had Lavinia's disappearance been common knowledge and we would have been able to connect him to it...? he wondered. He turned to Hermione with a wry smile flitting over his face. 'Might have been anti-climactic,' he allowed, standing up. 'But there's always another case...'
Scorpius slid into a chair next to Al at the long table the cousins had claimed as their own in the library. 'Finished the book,' he murmured.
'Was it worth it?' Al shot back.
Scorpius inhaled strongly through his nose. 'Yes. And no. The chapter about my father was about as clear as one of Geoffery's potions.'
'So you didn't learn anything,' Al stated, opening his Arithmancy textbook.
'Oh, no, I did,' Scorpius corrected. 'I learned a lot about my father. Maybe I didn't learn much about his motivations or why he did this or that, but I learned a lot about him.' He followed Al's actions and opened his own Arithmancy textbook. 'And I've come to a decision.'
'About what?' Al glanced at Scorpius, who was studying the set of problems they were to solve with an intent he'd never seen before.
'My father. I'm done,' Scorpius said softly. 'I'm done trying to gain his approval. It's not worth it.'
'So you're giving up?'
'No. Not giving up. It's just not worth the effort to try and get him to notice I'm there. He doesn't want to have anything to do with me, so...' Scorpius shrugged with one shoulder. 'It's like if anything takes too much effort on his part, he won't do it.' He looked at Al. 'That's what I learned about my father.' His eyes dropped back to the half-solved problem on the parchment in front of him. 'And I'm probably better off just getting on with things. I don't care what he thinks anymore. Because it doesn't matter what I do, it's not going to be good enough, so why bother trying?' Scorpius waited for Al's argument, that he should keep trying, that Gryffindors didn't just give up like that, but to his surprise, Al remained silent. Instead, Al just nodded a few times, his dark brows drawing together in a frown.
'All right, then...'
'No lecture about familial loyalty?' Scorpius drawled.
Al sat back and gazed at his friend for a long moment, then said, 'Why do people bang their heads against walls?'
'Is that some sort of sick riddle?'
'No, it's a genuine question.'
Scorpius ran his fingers over the edge of his quill. 'I don't know. It's a rather silly thing to do, bang one's head against a wall...'
Al nodded. 'Exactly. Because it feels really good when you stop. Who am I to ask you to keep banging your head against a wall when you really want to stop?' He met Scorpius' sober grey eyes and nodded once more. 'Right, I think when Professor Vector talked about this, was the day we were gone...' He indicated a problem in the textbook with the point of his quill.
'Yes, it was. Here, let me show you...' Scorpius grabbed a scrap of parchment and wrote down the problem, explaining how the number chart worked.
Draco dropped into his customary armchair and reached for the small squishy ball on the table and began to lightly toss it from hand to hand, as was his habit. It gave him something else to focus on, other than the fact he was divulging intimate information about himself to another person. Each month it got a little easier, felt a little less like he would choke on the words. Andrew handed him a glass of water. 'How are you feeling?'
Draco shrugged. 'Better, I suppose. Nothing like a life-threatening illness to relieve one of their dignity.'
Andrew settled into his chair across from Draco and examined him for a long moment. 'Something on your mind?'
Draco hooted softly. 'If there wasn't, would I even bother coming here?' he asked sardonically.
'Something more than usual, then,' Andrew amended.
Draco's fingers convulsed around the squishy ball. 'Daphne has decided she won't make a decision about our marriage until she and I, and I quote, "get to know each other".'
'What's the problem with that? Unless you've been leading a double life all this time.'
'The problem is, I don't know the first thing about it,' Draco sighed. 'How do I do that?' he added in bewilderment.
Andrew set his notebook aside and leaned forward. 'Did you ever date?'
'Not even before you were married?'
Draco shook his head. 'No. Daphne and I seldom had any social interactions before our wedding.'
'What about women other than your wife? Girls at school?'
'Not really. I mean, there was the girl I had sexual relations with on a regular basis during school and for a while after, but we didn't talk much. Not about personal things.'
'Take your wife on a date. A real one. Get out of the house.'
'And do what?'
'What everybody else does on a first date,' Andrew said dryly. 'Talk about things you like and see if you've got anything in common.' He picked up his notebook and sat back in his chair. 'Do you even like your wife?'
Draco's mouth dropped open. 'I... I don't know... She's maddening.'
'Obstinate, headstrong, infuriating...' Draco muttered.
'Well, that's something, isn't it?'
'She gets under your skin. It's a start.'
'How can that in any way be a good thing?' Draco asked.
Andrew let a smile spread slowly over his lips. 'If you didn't care about her, Daphne wouldn't bother you at all.'
Draco stared at the Healer. 'That makes absolutely no sense!' he spluttered.
'People have an odd way of doing that,' Andrew replied. 'Makes them interesting.'
Draco frowned. 'So where am I supposed to take Daphne...?'
Andrew scribbled something in his notebook, then ripped the paper out, handing it to Draco. 'For you, keep the first one simple. Going for a coffee will probably be a decent start.'
Draco glanced down at the paper. It contained an unfamiliar address. 'I don't know this place,' he began. 'And I know everywhere in the wizarding world.'
'That's because it's not in the wizarding world. It's in a Muggle neighborhood.'
Draco felt his brows rise into his hairline. 'Muggle...?' he breathed uncertainly.
'You'll be unknown there. First dates are stressful enough without people giving you looks.'
Draco nodded and tucked the scrap of paper into his pocket. 'Good idea...' He looked up at Andrew and resumed tossing the squishy ball from hand to hand. 'What if she doesn't like me? Or, to use your words, I don't get under her skin? She's got no reason to, really.'
'Have you mistreated her?' Andrew asked sharply.
Draco audibly gulped. 'There are things I've done that I'm not proud of,' he stuttered. 'I used the only example of a marriage I had - my parents'. Although I did my father one better,' he snorted. 'I never kept a mistress.'
'If anything, what I've done with Daphne is no better than benign neglect. She hasn't wanted for anything materially. She's had a roof over her head, clothes... But I've never made an effort to try and get to know her.' Draco rubbed his fingers over his eyes. 'Just as well, since I don't know myself very well. And I've never given her a reason to want to get to know me. Even from the beginning.' He methodically squeezed the ball in his hands. 'How much do you believe in dreams?'
'My Muggle counterparts say dreams are your subconscious trying to work things out,' Andrew said slowly. 'For witches and wizards, dreams can be somewhat more complicated. They can be harmless manifestations of your imagination, or a way for your subconscious to try and figure something out, or...' he trailed off, looking slightly embarrassed. 'In the wizarding world, the line between life and death can be somewhat blurry. Not very many of my peers agree with me on this one, but...' He straightened his shoulders visibly. 'Those who choose to continue through to death sometimes use dreams to communicate with the ones they've left behind. They can't do it directly, since they're not ghosts. Using dreams would be somewhat less jarring, and most people wouldn't think anything of it. We often dream of people we know.' Andrew shrugged. 'I've only been able to do a somewhat limited study of the subject, so it's only a hypothesis at the moment.' He eyed Draco speculatively. 'Why do you ask?'
'When I was ill, I had this... dream, I suppose. I attributed it to the fever, and I don't remember much of it, but...' Draco's mouth twisted wryly. 'It was suggested that I attempt to apologize to people I've wronged.'
'Either way,' Andrew said slowly, 'whether it's your subconscious or someone you've known attempting to talk some sense into you, you're trying to leave your past behind. And the best way to do that, is to take responsibility for your mistakes.' He held out a placating hand as Draco stiffened. 'Sometimes, all you need is to acknowledge that whatever you did was a terrible thing to do, and offer a sincere apology. Then, the onus is on them to do something with it. Some people my have let it go, and others... It might take longer.'
Dudley glanced at Harry, perched in a chair behind him. 'What makes you think this woman's in our papers? Or was...?'
'She wasn't in ours. I checked.' Harry repressed a shudder at the archival files of the Prophet. They were dim and dusty and smelled of something he'd rather not try and identify.
Dudley's face creased in confusion. 'How does someone go missing and it not be noticed? Especially if her family was as posh as you say.'
Harry leaned forward, peering at the monitor of Dudley's computer. 'Money talks with us. Just like it does here. Her brother could have paid off anyone questioning it. Or, if her brother never said anything to anybody...' At Dudley's still dubious expression, he elaborated, 'If I'd never come back from school, would your parents have raised a fuss?'
'Probably not,' Dudley said promptly. 'And none of the neighbors would have asked, either. Not that they did while you were there, anyway.'
'Her brother wouldn't have said a word. And everyone else would have followed his lead... And if he did tell them something, he might have said she went abroad, and that would have silenced any questions about her...'
Dudley scrolled down the screen, skimming the results of their searches. 'Sounds like a warm, caring family environment,' he scoffed. 'Don't see her... Are you sure of the name?'
Harry reached for the keyboard and carefully tapped out "Lavinia Malfoy". 'I don't think she would have used another name. She could have, I suppose...'
'Do you know what it would be?' Dudley asked.
Harry scrubbed his hands over his face. 'Try using Prewett in place of Malfoy,' he said slowly.
Dudley's hands hovered over the keyboard. 'Spell it?'
'P-R-E-W-E-T-T.' Harry leaned forward in anticipation.
Dudley shook his head. 'Nothing...'
'Damn it!' Harry whispered, mindful of Sarah in the travel cot, playing. She was starting to talk, and like most children her age, seemed to be able to filter out the exact words her parents did not want her to say. He raked his hands through his hair. 'Now what?'