Disclaimer: Not mine. Jo’s. Love you, Jo.
Author’s Note: Hi, folks. Apologies to the people who
were hoping for a chapter of “HP and the Forty-Eleventh Fifth-Year Fic.” I am
working on it, but Narcissa Malfoy (the character, not the brilliant author
here on the Quill) invaded my head, and I had to write this to get her out.
This will probably just be a one-shot. (There are some latent plot-bunnies for
later chapters, but I’m trying to ignore them.) Hope you enjoy.
Also, just as a heads-up, it may be a while before that
update on the fifth-year fic. Just after I sent this story in for beta-ing
(done wonderfully, as usual, by Yolanda—thanks, Yo!), I wound up spending a
week in the hospital with some minor bleeding in the brain. It’s nothing too
serious, but they’ve said I’ll probably be a little head-achey for a while, and
computer work makes the headaches worse. So I won’t be around much on-line for
the next couple of weeks. Just so you know….
More Than a Malfoy
My son is a fool. I
have known this for some time now, but I have seen little that I can do to
remedy the situation. Today, that changes. Today, I will become the
parent who calls the tune to which he dances. I will become the one who
plays on his ill-controlled emotions and uses them to shape him into the man
she wants to see. And the young puppet will become a better man, now that I am
pulling his strings.
I am waiting for him in
the study, previously the sole domain of the man that I must still call my
husband. It is a tiresomely masculine room, all dark wood and drab colors,
with one of those out-of-proportion desks meant to make the person on the other
side feel small. I hate this room, but it will do Draco good to feel small.
And even he, who misses so much, will be unable to miss the symbolism when he
sees me seated in his father’s chair.
I told the house-elf to
send him as soon as he takes care of those hideous hex marks. These are even
worse than last year’s, and I shake my head at how little he learns. I had to
board the train to fetch him again. Last year, I patted him and consoled him
and helped him reverse the effects; this year, I refused to touch him when he
had allowed himself to end up in such a condition. Instead, I simply brought
him to consciousness and gave him a few moments to realize the state he was
in. I did not speak to him as he struggled to extricate himself from the
luggage rack into which he and his two minions had been stowed like so much
baggage. When his attempts proved unsuccessful, I simply sighed and
transfigured him. (Into a silver chess piece. A pawn. Again, even he could
not miss the symbolism.) Then I Summoned him, put him into my pocket, and
Apparated home. When we arrived, I removed him from my pocket, put him in the washroom,
and returned him to his abysmal state. “Repair yourself,” I said, and I closed
the washroom door before he could reply.
That was nearly forty
minutes ago. If I have to go and help him reverse the effects of those spells,
I will be most displeased.
Finally, he arrives.
He looks much better, but his hands are still oozing a bit. That hex is, I
recall from my school days, quite difficult to reverse, particularly if it
happens to be mixed with others. It was one of my sister’s favorites.
“Hold out your hands,”
I say, by way of greeting. He does, and I finish reversing the spell. His
hands stop oozing, and his fingers lose their slightly swollen appearance,
which was so faint that I did not notice it until it was gone. He drops his
hands to his sides and makes to sit in the visitor’s chair.
“Do not sit,” I tell
him. Draco does not possess sufficient control of his emotions to keep his
surprise from registering on his face. And well might he be surprised; making
him stand is Lucius’s trick, not mine. I have always coddled him. No more.
As of this day, I must be both mother and father to him; if that requires
adopting some of my still-husband’s tactics, so be it.
Would you be proud of
me, Lucius, if you could see that I can unbalance him, too? Or would you
simply be disappointed in how easy he is to unbalance? You always did
underestimate me, didn’t you?
I don’t speak; I simply
look at him for a long moment. Another of Lucius’s tricks. He bears the
scrutiny without squirming too visibly, and my hopes for him rise slightly.
(They are still in the sub-basement, but they are no longer lying prone on the
floor.) Finally, I say, in my most neutral tone, “You dealt … adequately …
with your hex marks.” Praise so faint that it is almost an insult; Lucius would
be proud of that.
begins to rave about Potter. I cut him off in mid-sentence. “I don’t recall
asking a question, Draco.” He immediately falls silent—a fool, but at least a
well-trained fool, in some respects—but his hands are shaking. “Since you
mention Harry Potter, though, tell me this: Did he outwit you or overpower
That was one of my
father’s favorite questions when I or one of my sisters tried to carry tales
about another. “Father, Bella took my wand!” “Did she outwit you or
overpower you?” “Father, Cissa stole my diary!” “Did she outwit you or
overpower you?” If we eventually learned to settle our differences amongst
ourselves, we learned it largely so that we would not have to face that
horrible, mocking question. None of us could ever find a satisfactory answer.
And Draco cannot find
one now. He stares at me. I can see that his shock and his fury are battling
to find expression, but the battle is so fierce that he cannot manage to
express anything at all. Finally, he says, “Potter—”
I cut him off again. “
… is none of your concern, and is completely beside the point of this
conversation. Do not mention him again.”
“Yes, Mother.” Good
“Do you know what is
the point of this conversation?” I ask him.
“No, Mother.” When I
do not reply after a few moments, he adds, “But I’m very interested to find
At this point, Lucius
would reprimand him for impudence, but I am gratified to see a
for-once-not-inappropriate display of spirit. I am so pleased with him that I
almost tell him to sit. Almost. I must leave him standing, though, for I wish
to see if he will prove able not to stagger when he hears what I have called
him here to tell him.
“Your father is in
Azkaban,” I say. I see Draco’s lips begin to form the “P” in “Potter.” I
raise one eyebrow, and he is silent, proving that he is not completely
incapable of following directions. Excellent. “I had the solicitor here
today. My solicitor.” I pause to see if he can put things together for
himself. He can’t, so I continue. “Your father has brought shame to this
family, and I will not have it.” I pause again, but he is still in the dark.
I enlighten him. “I have begun divorce proceedings.”
As I suspected, he staggers.
But he does not fall into the chair behind him; he remains standing. He opens
and closes his mouth a few times—quite fish-like, and really most
unattractive—and finally manages to ask, with suitable shock and anguish,
“Do you know my family
motto, Draco?” I half-expect him to quote the Malfoy motto, but he does not,
and I am again pleased with him.
“Of course,” he says.
“‘Toujours pur.’ Always pure. But what does that have to do with why
you’re leaving Father? Purity’s what he was fighting for!”
I scoff audibly. “Did
you think purity only has to do with blood, stupid boy?” He looks confused and
hurt. Of course that’s what he thought. He has never been taught to think
anything else. Lucius asked me to leave Draco’s education to him. Since I
did, it is, in part, my fault that Draco is so ignorant. I know that it is my
fault, and I acknowledge it freely. Draco did not inherit his self-justifying
attitude and blindness to his own faults from me.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I
should not call you stupid. You are not stupid, merely young and ignorant.”
Unlike stupidity, youth and ignorance are curable; youth is always temporary,
and ignorance sometimes is. “It isn’t just blood that’s to be kept pure.
Reputation, honor, the good name of one’s family … those are to be kept pure as
well. With his infamous behavior, your father has sullied our reputation. He
has not lived up to his name. And, if I stayed with him after he has sullied
his own reputation, the stain would carry over to my family’s honor as well. I
must leave him; a Black cannot remain tied to one who does what your father has
“But why now?” Draco
asks. “He didn’t do anything different from what he’s been doing for years.”
“Yes, he did. He got
Again, my son looks
baffled. “But Aunt Bellatrix was caught, and you didn’t cut her off.”
“It is different.”
“What difference does
it make whether it’s your husband or your sister who’s Dark?” He is angry, and
he does not understand.
“‘Dark’?” I repeat
quizzically. “Blacks have engaged in Dark activity for years. I am not
leaving your father because he was caught being Dark.”
“Then why?” he asks.
“You really don’t
understand, do you?” He shakes his head, and his silver-blonde hair—my
hair, the hair that marks him as a Black, as mine—glints in the
firelight. “He was caught serving. He made himself a servant. He
bowed his back to another man’s will. He crawled on the ground like some lowly
thing to kiss the hem of another man’s robe. He did all of this, and he didn’t
even have the sense to keep it discreet. He got caught, and now everyone knows
that my husband called another man ‘master.’ It is not to be borne.”
I stare into his eyes
(and silently curse them, for even if his hair marks him as mine, his eyes mark
him as Lucius’s) and say firmly, “Hear this, Draco, and hear it well: You may
be a Malfoy, but you are also a Black, and Blacks bow to no one. Do you
He looks at me for a
long moment, then unconsciously stands a bit straighter. “Yes, Mother,” he
says, with a firmness that is all too rare for him. “I understand.”
For once, I think
perhaps he does, and for this understanding, I reward him. “Sit down, Draco,”
I say. He sinks gratefully into the chair, but his back remains straight, and
there is a proud light in his eyes, making them look less like his father’s.
“Can you see why it is different for Bellatrix?” I ask.
He bites his lip
thoughtfully. The gesture reminds me of my former sister, and for a moment I
could almost forgive her blood-treachery because my son’s resemblance to her is
further proof that he is a Black and therefore as much mine as Lucius’s.
Finally, he says, “She didn’t have the reputation that he does.” I nod, and he
elaborates, “He is supposed to be powerful. In charge of things. A leader.
And Aunt Bellatrix … well, she was younger when she was caught, and she wasn’t
head of a family. Or of a fortune. It was acceptable for her to serve, so
long as she was choosing to serve someone better and stronger. But for Father
… well, there wasn’t supposed to be anyone better and stronger. And if
someone turned out to be better and stronger, then Father should have improved
himself. He should have become as strong and powerful as this other person.
He should have made himself into an equal. If he couldn’t make himself an
equal, he should have stayed away instead of being content to be a servant.
It’s … inappropriate.” He has been thinking out loud, and, when he realizes
what he has said, I can see that it shocks him. He has never been allowed to
question Lucius—or never felt himself to be allowed.
“Very good,” I tell
him. “You are beginning to understand.” I pause to arrange my thoughts, for
there is much that I must discuss with my son. (My son, Lucius. I will
see to it that he is no longer merely yours.) After a moment, I ask him, “Do
you know why you were not sent to Durmstrang?”
A year ago—and even
perhaps ten minutes ago—he would still have believed Lucius’s explanation so
unhesitatingly that he would have parroted it to me without a second thought. “Mother
cannot stand to have her little boy so far away. Mother is weak. She is not
strong like Father. That is why you must always listen to Father.” But he
is learning, and he does not mouth Lucius’s lines. Instead, he thinks for a
moment and then replies, “No, Mother. I do not know.”
I know that Draco would
face a Nundu before admitting to Lucius that he does not know something. “Ignorance
is weakness, Draco, and weakness is shameful. Never admit that you do not
know, for that is admitting that you are weak.” What would you know of
weakness, Lucius, you who spent your adult life bound in service to another?
“It is wise, Draco, to admit when you do not know a thing. If you do not own
up to your ignorances, you will never be able to cure them.” His eyes widen a
bit, making them look even less like Lucius’s, for Lucius would never allow
himself to show even that small sign of surprise.
“I would not allow you
to be sent to Durmstrang because at Durmstrang—at least at Durmstrang as it was
when that fool Igor Karkaroff was in charge—there are only two ways, and
neither is an acceptable one. At Durmstrang, a student can either be a servant
or an outsider. I would not have my son be either. At Hogwarts, there are
other ways. When the time came to decide where to send you to school, Hogwarts
was the only choice. It was the only place where I could see a suitable path
“But you haven’t chosen
a suitable path. Thus far, you have chosen very badly.” He makes an indignant
sound, an angry sound, and I wave it away. “Don’t worry, Draco, I don’t blame
you for choosing badly; it certainly isn’t your fault that no one ever equipped
you with the means to make a decent choice. There are adults who should have
guided you better. Your father, of course, and myself. And Severus.” I pause
to consider my son’s head of house for a moment, and then I muse aloud, “I am
actually quite disappointed in Severus ... though I suppose it was … overly optimistic
of me to think he might put his skin on the line for anyone if there weren’t
something in it for him.”
“What did you want him
to do?” Draco asks.
“Show you a better path
than your father’s. Show you that one can be a Slytherin, and strong, and not
be a Death Eater.”
“But he’s a
Death Eater. Why wouldn’t he want me….” He trails off, confused again—or
I sigh in frustration
at my son’s naivete. “Oh, do be your age, Draco. Everyone knows Severus
turned spy for Dumbledore well before the end of the last war. Why your father
believed Severus’s ludicrous triple agent story, I can’t imagine. No one else
did.” Actually, I can imagine: Accepting that Severus had turned spy
would have meant admitting that you, Lucius, had been wrong. And you never
could do that, could you?
Draco has gone rigid in
his chair. He is reeling, and his mind refuses to process what I have just
told him. “But … Father said … and Professor Snape has always treated me so….”
“Did you think, because
he coddled you, that he liked you? Severus never does anything because he
likes someone, Draco. If he’s nice to you, it means he wants something from
“I sent you to Hogwarts
certain that you’d be in his house and hoping that he would live up to his name.
That he would be severe with you … improve your deficiencies and curb your
excesses. Instead, he has ignored your deficiencies and fed your excesses. He
has done his best to turn you into the spoiled, blind, cosseted bully that he
wishes he could have been at your age. I suppose he has decided that, if he
must send the Dark Lord servants from his house, at least he won’t send Him
Draco is silent for
several moments. At last, he says quietly, “Is that what you think of me?
That I’m coddled and spoiled? And a bully? And incompetent?”
“I think that you have
behaved exactly as I describe,” I say. He looks like a man lost at sea who has
just had his life-raft pulled from beneath him, and I continue with words meant
as both a comfort and a challenge. “But I also think you can be better than
you have been. You are a Black, after all, as much as you are a Malfoy.”
He nods slowly,
thoughtfully. Finally, he says, “What do you want me to do?”
“Many things,” I tell
him. “But for now I want you to go and make sure that the house elves have
packed your things to your satisfaction. We are leaving tomorrow, and I do not
plan to come back.”
“Where will we go?” he
“Summerskye House,” I
reply. The very name conjures up images of my family’s light-filled, airy
vacation home, left to me when Mother passed away. It is so different from the
Malfoy family manor house where I have spent more years than I care to
consider. Though spacious, Malfoy Manor is oppressive; the old stone walls
seem to press in on one here. In Summerskye House, one can breathe.
Draco has never been to
Summerskye. It will not be a homecoming for him as it is for me; it will be
something new. Something different. And he will be different.
I study him for a
moment, taking in the angles of his face. He looks a great deal too much like
his father. That too-pointy chin, the petulance around the mouth, the arrogant
tilt of the nose—with those features, it will be hard for him to remember that
he is not merely a Malfoy. But these things cannot be helped. Other things,
“You may go now,” I
tell him. “We will talk more once we are settled into our new home.”
There is one advantage
to his resemblance to Lucius: It makes it easy for me to read him, even when
the feelings on his pale, rather pinched face are not ones that Lucius would
allow himself to show. Draco is apprehensive and uncertain; in the space of
the mere few hours since we left King’s Cross, his world and his loyalties have
shifted irrevocably. His life is changing, and he is not yet certain whether
he approves of the changes. But Lucius’s training has not all been to the bad,
and he accepts my dismissal with an obedient, “Yes, Mother.” Then he goes. In
a few minutes, I follow, for now is no time to sit brooding in my
still-husband’s over-furnished domain.
There is much to be