Chapter 08

Harry’s insides froze. Draco Malfoy wanted to submit?To him? And give up his blood? Harry’s teeth clenched along with his fists as he fought to control his breathing.

While he knew the Dark Arts demanded a hefty price – in fact, he was keenly aware of how heavy said price could be, considering his inability to stand after translating Parseltongue – Harry wasn’t sure he was willing to pay this price.

“Are you seriously telling me that you’re okay with me spilling your blood?” Harry asked, barely managing to control his rage. “You are not a sacrificial pig being led to a slaughter.”

Draco stared at him for a moment, then arched an eyebrow. “I never said I was,” he said. “Besides, I hardly think a single drop of blood counts as a slaughter.”

Harry frowned. “A single drop?”

“Why does that surprise you?” Draco asked.

Harry flushed. “I thought more blood would be required.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “We’re only releasing a little Dark magic,” he said.

“And?” Harry asked, aware that he was being slightly defensive. “How would I know that a single drop of blood would suffice? I’ve never done this before, remember?” His words came out sharper than he intended them to, and he bit off a wince, hoping Draco didn’t take the tone too personally.
To his relief, Draco didn’t seem to have noticed. “I’m aware of that,” the blonde said. “Which is why I’m going to explain the ritual to you before we do it. But I expected you to know enough about the Dark Arts to know that a drop of blood is more than adequate for the majority of rituals.”

Harry sighed. The only Dark magic he really practiced was Parselmagic, and that was a subset of Dark magic that had its own set of rules. Rules that he had, incidentally, figured out through a rather painful process of trial and error. “I’ve never done a Dark Arts ritual,” he said.

Draco stared at him. “Never?” he asked, and the quiet tone he used to convey his disbelief may have well as been a shout.

Harry shook his head. “Never,” he said.

“Then I suppose I should start by explaining the basics to you,” Draco said. “I didn’t realize you had no knowledge of basic Dark magic theory.”

Harry flushed at the reprimand in the tone, but he motioned with a hand for the other to continue.

Draco sighed. “Just to clarify, how much do you know about magical theory?”

“In general?” Harry thought about the question for a moment, then shook his head. “Not much, I’m afraid. I know how to release and capture energy, I know that Dark magic can’t activate Light magic or vice versa, and I know how to control my own magic, for the most part, but that is the extent of my knowledge.” He flushed as he spoke, realizing that he really knew next to nothing about the wizarding world. And that made him feel incredibly ignorant. For the first time, he wished he had listened to Hermione when she had insisted he take the time to study magical theory. From the looks of it, though, he was about to get a crash course.

“Pitiful,” Draco said. “It’s appalling how little you know. I’m pretty sure even Longbottom knows more magical theory than you do.”

Harry growled low in his throat. “Don’t insult my friends.”

Draco stared at him. “I’m not insulting anyone,” he said evenly. “I’m merely pointing out the fact that Longbottom has an abysmal magical record with anything that isn’t Herbology. The fact that he knows more than you about magical theory is absolutely ridiculous.”

Harry closed his eyes. “Fine, you’re insulting me. Would you like to throw another few barbs my way first, or could you get to the part where you explain what the hell you are talking about?” He nearly yelled the last few words, simultaneously gratified by the way Draco flinched back and horrified at the satisfaction he felt at seeing the blonde back down.

“Certainly,” Draco said. “Since we’re dealing with Dark magic, I’ll start there. Light magic is different, but I’ll let Granger explain the theory behind that type of magic to you. When it comes to Dark magic, there are two types of casters. Wardens and Anchors. All Dark Arts rituals require blood, submission, and willpower. If blood and submission are forcibly taken, then that changes the ritual from a Dark Arts ritual to a Necromantic ritual. Anchors are the witches and wizards who are able to offer blood and submission to a Warden for use in a Dark ritual. A Warden cannot offer either. For a Warden’s blood to be used, it must be obtained unwillingly, and that is the basis of the Necromantic Arts. Wardens are incredibly rare. Anchors are exceedingly common. In fact, there are fewer than 100 known Wardens in the wizarding world today. You, Harry, are one of them.”

Harry’s eyes widened. “How can you possibly know that?” he asked, voice unsteady.

“Two reasons,” Draco said, holding up a hand to show two fingers. “First, your blood was used in a Necromantic ritual. That means you have to be a Warden by default.” Draco hesitated.

“And the second reason?” Harry asked, prompting him.

“Your power calls to me,” Draco said, face flushing. “I’m an Anchor. Because of that, I am always keenly aware of when I’m in the presence of a Warden. My magic calls for me to offer it to the strongest Warden around.”

“That’s actually rather fascinating,” Harry said. And it was. He hadn’t studied magical theory because it seemed like such a dry subject. “So, explain to me how the ritual to release the Dark magic within me actually works.”

Draco rolled his eyes, but answered, “Through the blood and submission I give, you have to focus your intent to release the Dark magic within you into the world around you. Since Dark magic, by its nature, is unbound, it has to be released into the wild.”

“I’d already gathered that much,” Harry snapped, barely managing to keep from speaking through gritted teeth. He wasn’t an idiot, and he didn’t appreciate being treated like one. His magic folded around him, crackling with the need to retaliate for the insult. Harry took a deep breath and wrenched down on his magic, forcing it to respond to him – he was not going to lose control in the middle of nowhere.

A smooth, expressionless mask fell over Draco’s face. “Have I insulted you in some way?” he asked, tone unreadable.

Harry sighed, feeling guilt stir underneath his anger. Draco was trying to help him, and here he was, allowing his emotions to run away with him. “Not directly,” he said, feeling compelled to honesty. “Indirectly, however, you seem to have implied that you consider me an idiot.”

The mask fell off Draco’s face and he blanched. “Harry,” he said, voice coming out in a near hiss. “I have never considered you an idiot. Do you honestly think that the rivalry between us when we were in school would have existed if I thought you incapable of thought? I was jealous of you, you absolute berk.”

Harry was too stunned by the admission to feel insulted. “Jealous?” he said, cutting off a laugh. “What did you have to be jealous of?” he asked. “From what I remember, you were content in your life as the son of a nobleman.”

Draco’s teeth clenched, and his hand inched down towards his wand holster before he visibly forced himself to move his hand away from it. “Are you really that thick?” he asked. “With everything you know about the war, do you really think I felt content with the lot I was given? In case you’ve forgotten, Potter, I was forced by my parents to follow in the footsteps of a madman. And, in reward for the loyalty my family gave him, I was forced to try and kill the Headmaster in order to keep Voldemort from killing the rest of my family.” Draco was trembling with the anger coursing through him.

Harry started to speak, “I –

Draco cut him off. “So yes, Harry, I was incredibly jealous of you. I know that you never knew your parents because of the circumstances surrounding your birth, but you also never grew up having to conform to the beliefs of the people around you. In some ways, you had more freedom than I’ve ever experienced. And yeah, you were saddled with the expectations of the wizarding world, with the fate of killing Voldemort, but some part of you must have wanted it. Some part of you must have wanted to kill the man responsible for tearing your family apart. And you got the chance. You got the vengeance you needed while I got to watch my family implode because I couldn’t kill an innocent man. I couldn’t kill the Headmaster. My father never forgave me for that weakness, and my mother killed herself because of the shame brought on our name.” By this point, Draco was breathing heavily, hands clenched into fists at his sides.

Harry’s eyes widened, surprised that Draco had so willingly spilled all of his emotions for Harry to see. He cleared his throat. “I know that it’s inadequate,” he said, voice soft. “But for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” Harry made sure not to let any pity into his tone – he knew firsthand that pity was the last thing Draco needed from him.

Draco scowled at him, then gave a sharp nod. “Accepted,” he said. “Now can we do the bloody ritual?”

Harry sighed, then nodded. “Just tell me what I have to do.”

Chapter Seven     Index     Chapter Nine

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