Author’s Note: As always,
thank you to Zsenya for the beta. Also, to Kirixchi for inspiration and Fatima for encouragement.
came into the room as he was unpacking his school trunk. It was an unusual
thing, the custom being to let him have the afternoon to settle before dining
with his parents and recounting the events of the past term. He searched her
face. As usual, her expression gave little away, but years of experience
allowed Draco to discern the tightness across the brow, the slight downturn of
the mouth. She was angry.
wishes for you to read this." Draco barely checked his shocked expression.
She held out a book; it was thin and leather-bound, with gilt pages. The
creases on the spine showed that it was very old, or very well read, or both.
He reached for it, inadvertently taking the tips of his mother's fingers into
his grip. They stood, eyes locked, fingers touching, and for a moment, she
looked as though she might say something. Then she simply dropped her hand and left
He stared at the
blank cover for a moment. Draco could feel anger begin to knot the pit of his
stomach. A book? He had been humiliated and hexed, his father was in prison, no
one would tell him a bloody thing about what was going on, and he was supposed
to read a book? Bugger that. He threw it as hard as he could towards the
opposite wall. As the book flew across the room, an envelope slipped from
between the pages and fluttered to the ground. Draco recognized his father's
With a sigh he
went to his trunk and pulled out a silver letter opener and a clean, white
handkerchief. He picked up the envelope and made a halfhearted attempt at
slicing it open. As expected, the blade slid across the paper. Sighing again,
Draco collected the book from where it had fallen, toed off his shoes, and went
to sit on the bed. He settled cross-legged, took a deep breath, and then
brought the letter opener swiftly across the pad of his left index finger.
It took a moment
for the blood to bloom in the narrow well of the cut. Draco pinched the finger
and let the blood drop on the dark seal of the envelope. Two more drops and the
seal began to dissolve, with a faint hiss, into a thin plume of red vapor. With
a muttered curse, he wrapped the corner of the handkerchief around his finger
twice, then wound the rest around his palm and tucked in the loose end.
the letter and ran his hand over the elaborately worked “M” at the top. Lucius’
personal stationery was hand illuminated in Italy. As a child, Draco had found
its beauty deeply impressive. His mother used to enjoy telling him the story of
the time that Lucius had gone to the continent on business, and she had passed
by the study only to find the wards down and the door ajar. Drawing her wand
and peeking carefully inside, she had come upon a charming scene: little Draco,
emulating his father’s habitual pose behind the mahogany desk and scrawling
“important letters” on the expensive parchment. Breaking into his father’s
study had been Draco’s first sign of magic.
He never told anyone, but he remembered that
day. Though he couldn’t have been more than five, he had a distinct
recollection of standing in the corridor, staring at the study door. He knew it
would be locked, his father always locked the study in his absence, but Draco
had wanted so badly to go inside. Suddenly, the air in front of the door began
to glow. It grew in intensity until he had to shield his eyes from it, and then
the light splintered into thousands of pieces and a gust of air pushed him
right onto his bum. When he looked up, the light was gone and the study door
had swung silently open on its hinges. The fireplace crackled to life as little
Draco settled himself at the enormous desk. He had pulled out a handful of the
beautiful parchments and a fine quill, and decided that “Father” was the best
game there was.
When Lucius had returned from his trip, he had
been so pleased that he hadn’t punished Draco for his trespassing. A few days
later he had even brought home Draco’s very own parchment, not so nice as his,
but with a swirling green “M” at the top that had thrilled Draco. For the
remainder of the summer, whenever Lucius was at his desk, Draco would sit on
the floor beside him, mirroring his father’s posture over the antique ottoman
he had commandeered for a desk. There had been something in the room that
summer that Draco later recognized as pride. His father had been proud of him.
Lucius’ rarely bestowed smiles had intoxicated the little boy, and he had been
chasing them ever since.
The crackle of parchment under his fingers
brought Draco back to himself. He looked down at the crumpled letter in his
hands. It didn’t matter what his father thought of him. Lucius was in prison,
and no matter if he broke out tomorrow, it didn’t change the looks of scorn
Draco had received from his schoolmates, or the fact that Aurors had swept
through the Manor, or that Potter had got one over on him yet again. His father
had disgraced them all, why should Draco listen to anything he had to say? He
threw the book and the letter off into a corner and finished unpacking.
Dinner was a tense affair, though it would
have been indiscernible to an outside observer. They sat in the informal dining
room, another break from custom, but Draco was glad of it. Lucius’ absence was
pronounced enough; it would have been unbearable in the cavernous formal dining
room. As they talked politely about the events of the previous months, avoiding
all mention of unpleasantness, Draco got his first good look at his mother. She
seemed fragile, a realization that surprised him. Narcissa was elegant,
delicate featured, but never weak. She was the only one Draco knew that could
bring his father to heel.
Draco returned to his rooms
feeling unsettled. It was disturbing to see a chink, however small, in his
mother’s perfect veneer. The implacability of both his parents had been an
anchor in his life. But if Draco understood anything, it was that things were
changing. He would learn to adjust. He was a Slytherin after all, and a
Malfoy. Even as he thought it, his eyes fell upon an elaborate “M”. The letter
was sitting on top of his desk, the creases carefully smoothed. The elf must
have retrieved it from the floor when it came to take his trunk. Draco regarded
at the letter; he would have no peace if he didn’t read it. His shoulders
sagged as sat down and took the parchment in his hands.
I will not waste my time, or
yours, lecturing about Pureblood pride. I have said what I have said, you know
what I believe. I am not in the habit of giving an accounting of myself to
anyone. I feel no shame for the things I have done in the name of my ancestors.
However for you, my son, I will make an exception. You are owed an explanation
of the choice that I have made.
Like my father before me, I
have watched as wizards of inferior blood have infiltrated our world. Tainted
by Muggles, they bow down to their gods of progress and innovation, chasing a
nightmare they call the future. For every new thing they have brought into the
magical world, some of the old ways have fallen aside. The poison of the
Muggles has slowly strangled the traditions of our forbears. The Mudbloods
would draw that poison into the Wizarding world until there is nothing left of
our noble heritage. I would stand and fight.
The book I have given you is a
family chronicle, commissioned by Augustus Malfoy in the late nineteenth
century. It records the Malfoy line as far back as it is possible to go. My
father gave it to me when I was sixteen, as did his father. When I read it, I
truly understood myself for the first time. A Malfoy stood with the
Merovingians when Paris was born from the muck of the Seine. In the court of
Arthur the Briton, close to Merlin himself, was a Malfoy. A Malfoy studied
under the tutelage of the great Salazar Slytherin in the first class at
Hogwarts. There have been Malfoys in the Triwizard Tournament, on the Wizard’s
Council, as counselors and as kingmakers. You will find that where there was
magic, where there was power, there were also Malfoy.
This is who I am. It is what I
fight for. For the old gods, the ancient magics, the traditions spanning
centuries. For Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, even Hogwarts. For a world that is our
own. For that, I believe, is a cause worthy of my life or death.
Read the book. It is time for
you to decide what you believe.
Draco was on his feet, picking up the book and
crossing to the bell-pull before he could even put clear words to his thoughts.
It didn’t take long to get the elf to do what he wanted; after all, Draco was
now the master of the manor. Still, when the heavy door swung open he paused on
the threshold of the room. He felt like an intruder here, in this room that was
undeniably Lucius’, but he stepped inside anyway. The sconces on the wall
flickered to life as he moved towards the mahogany desk, and the elf moved
silently to the hearth and lit the fire.
There were no wayward parchments on the
desktop, not a quill out of place. It was exactly as Lucius had left it;
complete with a copy of the Daily Prophet from the day he was…taken.
Draco waited until the house elf shuffled out and closed the heavy door behind
it, then with shaking hands he pulled out the chair and sat. For a moment he
was overwhelmed. He was five years old, crouched in his father’s chair. Then he
placed the book on the desk, opened it, and began to read.