Chapter 1 : A Lasting Impression
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Draco Malfoy was tired of staring expectantly out his window. He was tired of sitting in front of the fireplace at night, hoping there was a chance that his father would step through the flames, and he was tired of waiting for the wards to signal their master’s arrival.
He was especially tired now as he stood in the kitchen, watching a small, pug-nosed elf wring its knobby hands in front of an empty cooking pot. He had been in the library, and upon hearing a resounding crack coming from the ground level of the Malfoy Manor, had quickly abandoned his book to further investigate. Unfortunately, the sound was not an apparitioner, but merely the new house elf, Pan. Pan was cheap labour and had made a pot of stew explode with his less than adequate cooking.
Draco hadn’t been the only one hoping for a visitor, apparently. His mother hastily entered the kitchen only a moment after Draco had. Both Malfoys stood on either end of the room looking at each other, each determined not to seem disappointed for the sake of the other.
“Pan,” Narcissa spoke up finally, the sharp edge in her voice slicing through the silence, “clean up this mess. Dear Merlin, even our last house elf could manage to make a proper dinner without this.” She waved a hand at the bits of broth and food that were now dripping down the counters and walls.
“Yes, Madam,” squeaked Pan. He was quivering like a leaf, but quickly began to clean up the stew. Narcissa nodded curtly and turned towards Draco. “Dinner is still at six o’clock,” she announced. Her cool blue eyes swept over the kitchen once more before she turned to return to her garden.
Draco narrowed his eyes at the elf, hoping that it would have the sense to scald its hands later, or perhaps shut its fingers in a door. Without a backward glance, he turned on his heel and marched upstairs, hoping to find something that would occupy his mind.
Life hadn’t been easy without his father around. Whenever Draco and Narcissa went out in public, they were well aware of the whispers and looks being exchanged by various witches and wizards around them. Admittedly, it was becoming increasingly difficult pretending not to notice. Ignorance was bliss, but feigning it wasn’t so easy. Still, the Malfoys were proud, and mother and son kept their chins high even if their shoulders were aching to droop.
Draco sorely missed his father. Lucius was a strong, ambitious man and Draco idolized him. It was strange to be home over the summer and not have his father around. It was even worse to imagine a man like Lucius Malfoy crumbling away in Azkaban Fortress. Narcissa had queried whether it would be possible to visit him, but the ministry forbade it. They were keeping close tabs on all of the Death Eaters who were locked away in the gloomy cells and not taking any chances.
Draco wasn’t sure if he wanted to see his father in Azkaban, anyhow. It was better to keep his memories and thoughts of his father untainted, in his opinion.
He climbed the stairs to the top level of the manor, entering the dark attic. Candelabra on the walls lit immediately upon his entrance, and various pieces of furniture, boxes, and other abandoned household artefacts were illuminated in a warm, flickering light. He inhaled deeply, enjoying the antiquity of the attic’s smell. Only purebloods could appreciate a smell like that, he thought.
He’d spent some time in the attic with his mother as a young child, especially when she was going through her old belongings that had been tucked away after she'd married. As he grew older, however, he lost interest in digging through the trunks of memorabilia, keen on practicing his flying or shooting curses at the garden gnomes instead.
Now, though, he had a strange desire to look through his mother’s family’s belongings. Family seemed important. He was curious about the family he hadn’t ever had the chance to become acquainted with.
A big black trunk sat underneath an eave, its silver trim glittering in the soft light. A large snake was embossed on the lid, and it was unmistakeably his mother’s. Draco quickly knelt in front of it, unlatching the lid and opening it carefully.
The top of the trunk was covered in linens. Draco ran a hand across them, noting how soft they were—obviously of some value. Each piece was embroidered with the Black family crest. He carefully lifted them out and placed them in a pile next to the trunk, eager to see what was hidden below. Underneath of the linens were a few old photo albums. Draco picked up a large, leather-bound one and flipped it open.
The first page had two pictures of a man and women on their wedding day. The man had dark, black hair and a handsome face--sharp cheekbones and clear grey eyes, not unlike Draco’s own. The woman had blonde hair, pulled up into a knot at the nape of her neck. She was very beautiful, with long eyelashes and full lips that smirked at the camera as she glanced from her husband to the photographer. Draco recognized the couple immediately; they were his grandparents. His mother had a similar picture in a frame in the parlour.
As he searched through the book, he found pictures of his mother and her sisters as children. Bellatrix was the oldest, and had dark hair like her father, as did Andromeda, the second daughter. Narcissa, on the other hand, favoured her mother, and was obviously the great beauty of the three girls, though they were all quite attractive. He flipped through the pages, absorbing all of the information that the tiny moving pictures could give him.
Bellatrix’s dark hooded eyes always seemed to gleam wickedly, and some of the looks that she gave the camera made Draco shiver. He had never known his aunt Bella, and his mother rarely talked of her, save a few nonchalant comments here and there. She mentioned Andromeda even less, but that was because Andromeda had besmirched the family name. It was funny, he mused silently, that as the girls aged, Andromeda seemed to distance herself from her sisters, edging out of the photographs as though no one would notice.
Of course Draco noticed, but it was years later and he was well aware of the rift between Andromeda and her family.
His mother was beautiful, he thought, tracing a finger along one of her photos. She was in the garden, bending over an array of coloured blooms. When she turned to the camera, her face lit up and she beamed, brushing a lock of hair from her face. Draco couldn’t tear his eyes away from that picture for quite some time. He hadn’t seen his mother smile like that in ages. Who had taken the picture, he wondered.
The second album was even more interesting. Pages upon pages were filled with children, some of them laughing, some crying, some brooding. He recognized his mother and her sisters right away, but it was the two boys that appeared in some of the pictures that caught his attention. They looked very close in age, and they both had thick black hair and light eyes, though the younger boy had a narrower frame and sharper features. “Mother’s cousins,” Draco mused quietly, examining them more closely. Like the rest of the Black family, Narcissa never mentioned them much. In fact, she had been quite horrified when Kreacher showed up the winter before with news of Sirius’s relationship with Potter.
The children were playing in a backyard somewhere, and it looked as though there was a party in full swing. Fairy lights were scattered in the trees and a table of food was just visible to the left of the picture. Andromeda was sitting by herself at the table, watching Narcissa and Regulus with a weary eye. Sirius, the older boy, raised his chin haughtily and threw things at Bellatrix when he thought no one was looking. Bellatrix, obviously no fool, was eyeing him dangerously. Draco thought she looked like she was planning something, and decided that, had he been Sirius, he would have ceased the taunting immediately.
As he flipped through the pages, he wondered more about his mother’s family and cousins. He had no doubts that his mother would refuse to talk with him about them, so with some resignation, he pulled the last photo album from the trunk, opening it up to study the final batch of photographs.
“Cor!” a voice said suddenly.
Scared out of his wits, Draco let out a small yelp and scrambled to his feet, glancing around wildly.
“Is someone there?” the voice said again.
The source of the voice seemed to be coming from inside of the trunk. Hesitantly, Draco stepped forward and peered in.
“Lucius?” the voice said again. “Well, no. Surely you can’t be Lucius. You look about my age.”
Draco blinked at the source of the voice. It was a painting. A pair of blue-grey eyes was staring at him curiously, and the person’s lips curled up into a small smile.
“You look as though you’ve seen a ghost,” the painting said in amusement.
“S-sorry?” Draco replied. He quickly reached in and grabbed the painting, setting it upright on the floor. Kneeling down in front of it, he tried very hard not to gape.
“You’re quite pale,” the voice answered. “Though it looks as though you’re naturally pale to begin with. Are you a Malfoy? I didn’t realize that Lucius had a brother.”
Draco wasn’t sure what to tell the painting. “Er…yes. I’m a Malfoy.”
“I knew it,” the painting said proudly. “Do you know who I am?”
Draco nodded slowly, scanning the face painted on the canvas. The boy had a narrow face with sharp features and thick, dark hair. “Regulus Black.”
The painting gave him an impressed nod. “The very same. You must know my cousin Narcissa, then.”
“Yes, I know her.”
“Ah, good,” Regulus looked happy. “Keep an eye on her. I have an inkling that you just might be related some day.”
Draco swallowed. Obviously, Regulus had no idea how much time had passed since he had been locked up in the trunk. “We might,” he replied steadily, “just.”
“Lovely. I daresay it will make my family proud. The Malfoy’s are a worthy family.” Regulus eyed Draco shrewdly. “What’s your name, anyhow?”
Since he hadn’t existed when this painting was commissioned, Draco didn’t see any harm in revealing his name. “Draco. Draco Malfoy.”
“Nice to meet you, Draco. I’d shake hands with you, but obviously…” Regulus drifted off and grinned, shrugging his shoulders.
“No, that’s fine,” Draco said. He paused uncertainly, resting his hands on his knees. “How old are you?”
“Sixteen,” Regulus said. “At least, I was when this thing was painted.” He tossed his head to the side, acknowledging the frame. “I hung around for awhile, but it was awfully boring in an abandoned room and I think I fell asleep. I don’t remember waking up until now. It’s rather nice. I haven’t talked to anyone in ages.”
You have no idea, Draco thought to himself. He nodded at the painting. “So you know my fa--,” he shook his head quickly, correcting himself, “so you know Lucius, then?”
The painting nodded smugly. “Of course. He’s been chatting with me about,” he paused and bit his lip apprehensively. “Well, if you’re related to Lucius, surely you must support the cause,” Regulus decided, cocking a brow. “He’s been talking with me about the Dark Lord’s army.”
Draco’s lips parted in surprise. “He did?” He had eavesdropped on plenty of conversations concerning Lucius’s role with the Death Eaters, but he hadn’t heard of any sort of family recruitment until now. As he recalled, Regulus had died because of abandoning You-Know-Who’s cause. “What do you plan on doing?”
“Joining, of course. Everyone thinks I’m the baby, but I’m dreadfully tired of them coddling me. I’m ready to prove to them that I’m capable enough on my own.” Regulus sighed irritably, rolling his eyes toward the top of his frame. “What about you? Are you joining?”
“My mother would likely die if I joined now,” Draco said. This was true. Narcissa loved her son very much and wanted him to have no active part in the Dark Lord’s cause. “I should finish my schooling, anyhow.”
“I understand completely. Narcissa tells me I should finish school first. I think she’s rather worried about everyone’s involvement.”
“I’m sure she is,” Draco agreed. “She doesn’t want to lose anyone.”
“Even so, she realizes that this is an important cause. It’s split our family apart at the seams.”
Draco tried very hard to seem surprised. “Really? How so?”
Regulus’s face darkened. “Narcissa lost a sister and I lost a brother.”
“Might as well have. Andromeda went off and married a muggle-born. My brother, Sirius, he’s just a complete arse. Ran off from the family, claiming we’re all terrible people. He was practically adopted by another family.” Regulus scowled, and Draco felt a twinge of sympathy for the young boy in the painting. “He has another brother now. James Potter. Have you heard of the Potters?”
And, like everything else, Draco thought sourly, it all comes back to the Potters. He grunted quietly in assent. “I know them,” he said. “They think they’re so great. It’s too bad that your brother ran off with them.”
“I try not to think about it,” Regulus said confidentially. “Besides, I’ve found better friends to look up to in Slytherin house.” He suddenly narrowed his eyes. “Why don’t you go to Hogwarts? You’re not a squib, are you? Is that why I’ve never heard of you?”
Draco snorted. “Me? A squib?” He shook his head and let out a sharp laugh that cut through the air like a knife. “Hardly. I go to Durmstrang,” he lied.
“Durmstrang? That’s a good school, I hear. Do you learn a lot of Dark Magic there?”
“You’ll have to teach me someday. We’re sure to meet if Narcissa and Lucius become engaged.” Regulus paused thoughtfully. “I’ll introduce you to my friends. I’ve learned a fair few nasty hexes from a boy named Severus Snape. Have you heard of him?”
Again, Draco was surprised. He had no idea that Regulus and Snape had been acquaintances in school. To be quite honest, he had never given a thought about it one way or another. “I’m familiar with Snape,” he said quietly.
“I don’t know much about his background, mind you, but Snape is an alright bloke. Sharp as dagger and twice as nasty.”
“Sounds interesting,” Draco replied idly. He was almost feeling guilty for not telling Regulus how much time had passed since he had fallen asleep. He wondered if his mother kept Regulus upstairs in a trunk to spare him the pain of knowing the truth. “Who else are you friends with?” he asked, attempting to distract himself from his thoughts.
Regulus blinked at him. “Oh, a few others, I suppose. Bella’s not so protective of her friends any more, and she lets me run around with them. I get along all right with the Lestrange brothers and Evan Rosier,” he replied. “Oh, and Barty Crouch. He’s not too bad, though he can grate your nerves after a bit.”
Draco stared at the floor, afraid that his eyes would give away the truth. All of Regulus’s friends were dead or in Azkaban. Hell, Regulus was dead, he reminded himself. And Barty Crouch. Draco twitched at the name. He had never liked Crouch after the wizard had turned him into a ferret. Grate on your nerves, indeed. “I recognize some of those names,” he said, finally. “Er…Lucius has spoken about them.”
“I knew you would,” said Regulus. “It’s too bad that you attend Durmstrang. I’m rather certain that we’d be good friends if you were at Hogwarts.”
“Why don’t you have Lucius introduce us sometime?” Regulus smiled, flashing a set of white teeth. “Say, you don’t happen to have a sister, do you? Mum’s always saying that the Malfoys have Veela blood in their lineage.”
Draco gave Regulus a thin-lipped smile. It was an assumption that he heard a lot, and one not entirely untrue. “No sisters, Regulus, sorry.”
“Bugger. Ah well, it was worth asking.”
“Of course.” Draco was actually starting to like Regulus. It was nice to have entertaining company around again. Goyle and Crabbe didn't exactly provide what Draco considered to be stimulating conversation. The only problem was that this Regulus was a painting, and the real Regulus was dead. And, more importantly, he didn’t know it.
“Draco?” Regulus’s voice interrupted Draco’s thoughts.
“Where am I, anyhow? That is, where are you?”
Draco clenched his fists tightly. He had been hoping that Regulus wouldn’t think of asking. “I’m at the Malfoy Manor,” he responded.
Regulus looked genuinely surprised. “You are? Odd. I wonder how I ended up here.” He raised his brows at Draco, waiting for more information. “Are Lucius and Narcissa married now, then?”
Draco nodded and swallowed, unable to think of anything else to say.
“You don’t say. Why didn’t you tell me before?” Regulus made a face at Draco, and after a moment, his scrutinising look turned into an alarmed one. “I don’t understand how Narcissa would come by my painting. Where is my family?”
Draco’s eyes fixated on a knot in the wood of the floor, unsure of how to answer Regulus’s question.
“Draco,” Regulus continued, speaking in a hushed tone, “I’m not…I’m not dead, am I?”
Draco flinched, bringing his eyes up to meet the painting’s. He opened his mouth wondering how he could possibly answer the question. “No,” he lied. “You’re not dead.” He could feel the blood draining away from his face. Draco rarely felt guilty, but somehow, lying to the painting was making him feel just that.
“Then why am I here?” As Regulus asked his question, the grandfather clock downstairs began to toll six o’clock, each bell resounding throughout the Manor.
Draco let out a small sigh of relief. “It’s dinner time, Regulus,” he said. “I can’t be late.” He picked up the frame and started to put it back in the trunk.
“No, wait! Can you take me with you? It’s terribly boring sleeping all the time. I should really like to speak with Narcissa and Lucius. And myself, for that matter,” Regulus pleaded, his grey eyes wide and hopeful. “I won’t be a bother, I swear it.”
“Sorry,” Draco managed to choke out. He shook his head and dropped Regulus’s painting into the trunk. “I’m sorry.”
“Please, mate?” Just for a little—” The sound of Regulus’s voice became muffled by the photo albums that Draco was hastily placing on top of the canvas. Draco scooped up the linens and dropped them in a rumpled heap on top of everything. He couldn’t hear Regulus’s voice any longer.
Snapping the lid shut, he gave one last look at the trunk and let out a long, shuddering breath.
He wondered how his mother could stand it all. She must be a remarkably strong woman to be able to withstand so much loss, he decided. After all, he could barely put a painting back without his stomach knotting up with guilt. Draco had done plenty of mean and horrid things in his life, but never had he felt so terrible about his actions as he did at that moment.
Brushing off his robes with a hand, he made sure the attic was back to its normal state. If Narcissa ventured up into the attic for any reason, he doubted that she would suspect that he had been there.
He pushed back his silvery blonde hair from his face, making sure that he was presentable. He didn’t want to keep his mother waiting. He quickly descended the flight of stairs and stood in the doorway of the dining room, surveying the scene quietly.
Narcissa was already seated at the table, hands placed in her lap. She started at the sound of his entrance and gave him a small smile. “Draco,” she greeted him. “You’re late.”
“Sorry mother,” he replied, rushing forward and giving her a quick peck on the cheek. “Time got away from me, I’m afraid.” He took his seat at the table, forcing himself to smile. Pan entered a moment later and managed to place the food on the table without any major problems.
Draco and his mother served themselves, making small conversation as they ate.
Finally, Draco couldn’t stand the anticipation any longer. “Mother,” he said, voice unusually concerned, “you’ve never commissioned any paintings to be modelled after me, have you?”