Chapter Six: In Vino Veritas
". . . a French fishing village."
Draco considered his former professor, who was sitting with him in his new office at Hogwarts. Severus had just informed him that Harry had been seen in France by an . . . associate of Mundungus Fletcher.
"How interesting," he drawled. "But why tell me?"
"Draco, you are not your father. Spare me the interlocutory games. You know very well that the land in question is part of your family's holdings."
"Not officially, of course."
Draco said nothing.
"I am not a solicitor. I do not care about those resources you have managed to hide. My interest is in Potter's whereabouts."
"Just because she may have been in France near my fa—near my land—it does not follow that I know where Harry is now, Severus."
"Forgive me, Professor Malfoy, but I think you at least suspect her whereabouts."
Draco preened a bit to hear Snape use his title. Of late, any respect he received was welcome. "Of course, we all have our theories, but I see no reason to share mine with you."
Severus leaned back into his chair feeling smug and sipping meditatively from his glass of fire whiskey.
The boy is careless, he thought, watching Draco take a sip from his glass.
It had been a simple enough matter to break Malfoy's personal wards and interfere with the contents of his liquor cabinet. The Veritaserum would be taking effect in moments.
"Tell me, boy," Severus said with deliberate rudeness, "just how did you kill your father?"
"How dare—how dare—what did you do to me?" Draco spluttered. "Veritaserum! But my wards—"
Wait for it, Snape told himself. He'd formulated the potion to have a delayed effect, so that in the event that Draco drank before he had occasion to visit him, the boy would attribute the wooziness he was beginning to feel to the effects of the alcohol. "How did you kill Lucius?"
"With the Killing Curse, damn you!"
Severus was impressed. It was unusual for a subject under Veritaserum to display anger. His control is strong. Perhaps Albus wasn't wrong to offer Draco the position.
The Potions master elected to ask a few more questions to ensure that the boy was completely under the thrall of the draught before asking what he had truly come to discover.
"How did you get close enough to Lucius to cast that particular Unforgivable?"
Not resisting as much as before, Draco replied, "I convinced Aunt Bella to break off with her squad from the Ministry attack to help me hunt Father down. She hated traitors."
"You were always a favorite of hers, which was fortunate for you. The last time Bellatrix and I spoke, she seemed to suspect that Lucius had engineered your . . . defection as a means of positioning you as a spy among Dumbledore's ranks. She greatly esteemed your father."
As Severus' words had not been phrased as a question, Draco did not respond.
"Was Bellatrix surprised when you killed her?"
"She never saw her death, none of them did."
"Why did they not see their deaths?"
"Because I used one of Father's special traps."
Ah. An Avada Kedavra bomb. "How did you manage to come by one of those?"
"Mother sent me Father's journals. I built it."
"Why did you never tell anyone about the journals?"
"Harry convinced me not to. We agreed that the Ministry couldn't be trusted with such information."
"Do you still have Lucius' journals?"
"Why keep them?"
"Because I want to construct countermeasures to my father's inventions, and they . . . the journals . . . are all I have left of him."
You still love him, Severus thought sadly. But he did not dwell on this fact, for he knew the Veritaserum would soon be wearing off. "Draco, did you tell Harry about the fishing village?"
"In what context?"
"In the context of reminiscing about my childhood because she was interested in it—in me," Draco said, his knuckles white against the arms of his chair as he clutched them in resistance to the potion.
"Tell me about the fishing village."
"It's abandoned, and Lord Voldemort took refuge there because it . . . it's . . . it's located on a node of power."
"Why would Harry have wanted to—" Severus began, but stopped as Draco stood.
The Potions master stood, as well, and went to his godson, pressing him down firmly into his chair again. He was pleased that he had had the foresight to relieve the boy of his wand when he'd first arrived. You have a great deal to learn, he thought as he conjured a glass of water and handed it to Draco.
The younger man drank, but then sputtered, "Damn you, Severus! I trusted you!"
"That was a mistake, but an honest one, given our affiliation."
"Our 'affiliation' . . . Gods, I'm no Dark Arts instructor."
"Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor, Draco, and you'll make a fine one—once you learn when not to trust. I have faith in you."
It was the shock of recent weeks more than guilt that compelled Severus to be kind, but pragmatism made him gracious.
"I am not a well-liked man, for the simple reason that I have never sought anyone's esteem. I take what I need, and damn the consequences. It pleases me to know that you are not so . . . hard of heart. I would, however, suggest that you cease to use your family warding magics. Lucius trusted me, as well."
"Is that all you have to say to me, godfather?"
"No, it is not. I truly believe that your lack of viciousness will ultimately make you a far more powerful wizard than your father ever was. Your actions have already proved that you are the greater man."
Draco appeared stunned to have received such praise from the wizard he'd long idolized.
"You have my respect, Draco. I hope you will forgive my . . . methods, so that, in time, you and I may explore how we might become as true family to one another."
Severus laid his godson's wand down next to the boy in a gesture of trust, and then he turned and left the room.
And what place in "our" family might Harry take? Draco wondered before resolving never to drink again.