The Sugar Quill
Author: Icarus (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: First Signs of Magic: Draco Malfoy  Chapter: Default
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First Signs of Magic: Draco Malfoy

First Signs of Magic: Draco Malfoy

by Icarus

Tiny pale arms were folded angrily across an embroidered velvet jacket. The little boy slumped in an intricately carved chair, hundreds of years older than himself and many sizes too large. The table before him stretched, long, black as jet and polished to a mirror-like shine, and the plates set on the table were silver, traced with a delicate pattern.

Draco Malfoy gave that table a good swift kick with his tiny boot, and pouted.

His father at the other end, halfway across the room, felt the reverberations. He looked up from his plate like a disturbed panther, and leveled a glare at his son. A victorious light flickered in the boy's eyes. He knew what irritated his father. And Draco was mad.

"I wanna go outside," Draco said petulantly, sinking further into the chair. Stupid party.

"Sit up. You're staying right here, Draco. You are going to finish your supper. Then you are going to get dressed for your mother's party. Is that understood?" Lucius Malfoy nearly growled. He was a young man yet, unused to defiance, and was confounded time and again by the small terror he privately referred to as 'that little shit.' Draco liked nothing better than to test his father's rather thin patience. If Draco were anyone but his son, Lucius would have happily wrung his neck. And may yet, he thought.

At the slow narrowing of his father's eyes Draco sat up. The barest fraction of compliance.

Kick. The water in Lucius' goblet shuddered.

Kick. The silverware moved an imperceptible hair. Nothing anyone would note, unless one was Lucius Malfoy and sensitive to this particular irritation. He didn't know why it got under his skin. Kick! Lucius glared, but it didn't work this time.

"Draco," he snapped, sharper than he intended. The tiny blond boy's mouth made a defiant line. "You will refrain from kicking the table this instant."

His five-year-old son squirmed in the chair, but still refused to eat. A servant, human like Draco's nanny, hovered to fill their goblets. Lucius allowed himself the luxury of a few human servants; Draco ignored her. As he ignored his father.

Kick. A light tap, but it was still defiance. Lucius threw his fine cloth napkin to the table.

"Ludmilla!" The frightened young nanny appeared, summoned from the kitchen in a puff of acrid green smoke, still holding her fork from her own supper. "Lock him in his room."

Mutely, the nanny seized Draco out of the chair, acting quickly before Draco could put up a good fight. She carried the squealing, squirming child out of the dining room, as the little boy struggled for a better angle. He knew he couldn't kick his father, but the servants were fair game. Unfortunately, they knew it too, and Ludmilla had grabbed and neutralized his feet. He arched away, flailing his tiny elbows and arms with a blood-curdling shriek. His father hated noise, too.

As they disappeared down the hall, Draco heard his father snarl, "…and lock him in there forever for all I care."

Daddy?

Draco's father always carried out his threats.

"Nonononononono! Don't lock me up! Don't lock!" Draco screamed shrilly. He flailed, and fiercely bit, kicked and clawed, screaming for dear life, nearly fighting clear of Ludmilla as they disappeared down the hall of reproving portraits.

Not forever!

Draco shut up and focused on fighting free, and managed a few good kicks before Ludmilla recaptured his feet. This was the worst Draco had ever been, and that was saying something. The servants were far too used to Draco's tantrums to recognize real panic.

The nanny reached Draco's quarters none too soon, and gratefully dropped him unceremoniously on the large four-poster bed. The door closed with a whump and a click before Draco could bounce back up and reach it. Magical Locking Charms sealed it shut.

Draco clawed at the door, rattling the doorknob. The fragile-looking little boy, perfect as a china doll, scrabbled at the crack underneath to door like a trapped animal and whimpered pitifully. Which should have told Ludmilla-the-nanny that something was genuinely wrong, because Draco usually vented his fury and screamed bloody murder. But she walked away down the hall thinking of dinner and was simply grateful to have escaped with only one kick to the stomach this time. She paid no attention to the unusual quiet.

Down the long hall behind her, tiny fingers reached under the door, then disappeared. The brass knob rattled frantically, clumsily, from the full weight of a child who was pathetically small for his age. The door fell suddenly still. Tiny footsteps crossed the large room on the other side of it at a scamper.

The nanny, had she been there, would have panicked at the next sound: the squeak, slow and complaining, of window jambs opening. Draco's rooms were on the fourth floor.

A winter draft shifted the torches in the hall, changing the shadows on the ancient portraits of Draco's ancestors, all long dead, though the portraits themselves still moved. The breeze shifted the crystal on a chandelier with a slight musical tinkle. On the other side of the door came a small strangled sob and a little gasp. Then a rustling, like the ivy parting outside Draco's window.

All at once, a sudden gust of wind snuffed the hall torches and rocked the chandelier as Draco's bedroom door flew open.

Little Draco turned from his perch on the sill, paused in his attempt to climb out the window. His slippery boots weren't gaining much purchase on the mossy stone wall, and the ivy kept tearing loose.

He had no idea how his wish had been granted and that door opened, but Draco knew freedom when he saw it.

Draco struggled back inside, leapt from the sill and pelted for the door before it could change its mind. He ran full out, feet quick and light, down the long hallways, past the portraits, for the drawing room where his father was most likely to be. Even now he was abnormally quiet.

Lucius Malfoy relaxed in his favourite chair in the drawing room, reading the paper before the fire. At that moment he was considering whether he should allow Draco something to eat before the party or whether the child should attend hungry, as an object lesson in obedience. He heard the patter of racing feet first, and his eyes went from slits to wide surprise as Draco flew into the room and buried his face in his father's knees, shivering.

"Who let you out?" Lucius asked. It was a rhetorical question. "Draco – "

But the anger was defeated by the small child cradled in his arms. As his father, Lucius knew genuine distress when he saw it, if and when he bothered to look. He had never seen Draco like this! He wondered what had gotten into his boy.

It was fortunate indeed that Ludmilla-the-nanny had gone home for the evening.

Half an hour later, Lucius Malfoy carried his sleeping and exhausted son down the long halls to his rooms, carefully trying not to wake him. It was surprising how small the boy was. Lucius himself had always been rather large for his age. Still, it was intelligence that counted in a Malfoy. Not to mention magical ability.

As he reached the hall to Draco's rooms, Lucius was irritated to find it cold, and all the torches out. He relit the torches with a word. They burned blue like blowtorches, and held nearly steady even in the frozen breeze. Who left a door open? Were his guests already here?

With his delicate sleeping child dangling in his arms, Lucius edged open the door, which had blown partially shut. His shoulder tingled with the remnant of a powerful Unlocking Charm. Wild Magic. Lucius realised at once that firstly, his son had shown his first signs of magic, and secondly, he was going to have to get Muggle locks. No one was going to be able to lock his boy anywhere.

Lucius felt a thrill of Malfoy pride. Five was very young to have shown first signs. And it didn't even bother him that Draco's first signs appeared at a younger age than his own. He enjoyed the thought of mentioning it to his guests. Not that Purebloods bragged about their progeny. After all, very early signs weren't a guarantee of powerful magical ability, he would say. But they were a good indication. They all knew that. It was a pleasant threat of a continued Malfoy lineage.

He edged open the door, lit all the candles in Draco's room - the next sight, the open window with its vivid plummet to paving stones below - wiped all thought from his mind.

Lucius' Spell to Seal the windows shut was so thorough and outraged, no one was ever able to open them again.

Ludmilla was very fortunate indeed she had gone home for the evening.

~*~

The next day, a preternaturally calm Lucius Malfoy was ever so gracious to Ludmilla.

Lucius apologised for the circumstances that forced him to terminate her employment. Of course it wasn't her fault, he reassured her. He was merely required to make an example so that it would never happen again, she could understand that, couldn't she? There, there, Ludmilla, don't cry. He lifted her chin tenderly. It was a mistake anyone could have made. Despite the fact he was forced by these terrible circumstances to let her go, he was more than happy to write her letters of recommendation if she needed them. Would she like that? Yes, to every family in the area if she liked. He would send them himself. Today in fact. Did she feel better now?

Ludmilla dried her tears and straightened her hair with a sniff. Losing your employment with the Malfoys usually meant the end of your career. But Mr. Malfoy was so kind. A letter directly from him would make a real impression.

She really ought not to have trusted him.

It should have seemed odd to her that he sent those letters so quickly and insisted on sending them himself. Normally the head butler, human or house elf, managed such things.

On her way out, Ludmilla mentioned that she had heard the Aberforths were looking for a nanny. Mr. Malfoy led her to the front door. The front door! Like a Lady! Servants were normally required to come and go through the kitchen door. He explained that he didn't know the Aberforths very well, but he would do what he could. Ludmilla thanked him profusely. He smiled. With a hard gleam Ludmilla was too innocent to notice.

Lucius did a little research on the Aberforths that day. Actually, he had never heard of them and was surprised to learn they lived not too far from Malfoy Manor, on a much smaller property.

That evening he wrote a letter of recommendation for her to Mr. Everston Aberforth. It read:

'Dear Mr. Aberforth,

While we have had little cause to make our acquaintance, I have been informed that Miss Ludmilla Perkiston has made, or will make, inquiries regarding employment in your household as a nanny.

Ludmilla Perkiston was until recently in my employ as a nanny for my son, Draco. I would highly recommend her for any position that involves little or no human contact. Rubbish removal comes to mind. Or possibly, shining shoes. She may be fit, even, to look after your kennel (my head maid Marguerite tells me you keep a fine collection of dogs for hunting). That is, if you care for the welfare of your animals so little.

Should you prefer more detail, simply owl me or stop by for cocktails sometime. I understand you have made numerous inquiries regarding a visit and I apologise for the oversight; we have been dreadfully busy. I would be more than happy to fill you in further on her qualifications.'

Yours truly,

Lucius Malfoy'

Finis.

//
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