The train came to a stop and students began to disembark. School was over for another year and no one was soon to forget this one. The Tri-Wizard tournament was still fresh in their minds, dueling dragons, saving people from drowning, and battling through an impossible maze. But Dumbledore’s words came back as they stepped through the gate onto the muggle platform and greeted their parents. “Voldemort has returned.”
Most students had yet to accept the fact. Some of the older ones, and many of the seventh years who had just recently passed the NEWT examinations understood the implications of what their Headmaster had said. He told them so that they could be watchful. They knew many wizards, like their young classmates, would flatly refuse to believe that their worst enemy could dare return. They had lived without his threat, and with little reminders of him, for too long to just let him come back into their lives. They would act as if it weren’t true until something terrible happened and forced them to accept the facts.
Narcissa Malfoy stood at the gate waiting. She wore a robe of pale sky blue and a white silk throw over her shoulders. Her hair was pulled back, it hung just below her shoulders and was just as blond as Draco’s. She wore a very expensive pair of Italian high heels and tapped her foot in annoyance. Silver rings covered her fingers and a diamond pendant hung around her neck. There was a look of superiority on her face as she stared at the students and their parents coming through the barrier. This look was quickly being replaced by one of deep aggravation.
Her cold, steel gray eyes narrowed as the train’s conductor came into view. Where was her son, he knew they were in a rush. Finally, exasperated, she crossed through onto platform nine and three quarters. He wasn’t on the magical platform either, she could see his trunk sitting outside the train. He couldn’t be far. “Draco!” she called out sternly. She waited impatiently.
She was most unhappy as she boarded the train she hadn’t set foot in for so many years. She looked down the long corridor and saw him immediately. He was lying in a crumpled mess on the floor, and what was he covered in? She walked quickly to where he laid, “Draco get up!” Her tone was becoming very angry and her voice rose in pitch. She pulled her wand hastily from her pocket, “Ennervate!” Her son’s eyes rushed open and looked around him furiously. He suddenly recognized his Mother’s shoes and followed her form up to look into her narrowed eyes. “Well don’t just lay there mister, you’re father’s waiting for us.” Draco jumped to his feet, obedient to his mother’s harsh words.
She shook her head as she looked him over and walked off the train, “Oh you are a fine mess aren’t you?” He began to protest, “But mother it’s all Potter’s…” She cut him off with a quick tap to the back of his head, “Have you or have you not been trained in the ways of dueling? Has our hard earned money gone to waste? If Harry Potter can best you at dueling it is your own god damn fault and no one else’s.” She shook her head, “Hold still, we can’t go out with you looking like that.” There was pride in her voice that she herself didn’t look the way he did, and a certain disgust that he did. “Finite Incantatem!” The marks left his body and he breathed a sigh of relief. “Hurry up.” His mother called from behind, not giving him any time to think on the absence of pain.
He stepped down off the train and picked up his trunk. He began dragging it behind him as his mother led the way through the gate out to a waiting car. The driver bowed respectably to Narcissa and Draco. He put the boy’s luggage into the trunk of the luxury car and climbed behind the wheel. He tapped the steering wheel with his wand, “Malfoy Manor!” The car lurched forward. It darted in between cars and squeezed through alley ways.
Narcissa kept her body totally rigid as the car tried to shake her from side to side. Draco was having a harder time staying in his seat. He had just turned fifteen in April, he was now growing taller than his mother, but he wasn’t used to these types of automobiles. He jerked back and forth, sometimes he had to put his arm out to keep from falling into his mother’s lap. The look of disgust hadn’t left her face, in fact it had grown. She clucked her tongue as his head flung forward and nearly hit the seat.
The car had come to rest in front of Malfoy Manor. It was a very large estate, which was located many kilometers outside of London, far away from prying muggle eyes. There was a wrought iron fence around the entire property, the house was set back from this obstacle and the driveway came up in a half circle right to the door.
The chauffeur held the door open for Narcissa, who stepped out gracefully as if there were people watching her. Draco clambered out after his mother and sneered at the driver. He walked up the stone path to the door. The Malfoy Coat of Arms was engraved in the set of double doors and they were opened as Narcissa and her son approached by a wrilly looking house elf. She bowed low to the ground in fearful patronage, “Madame Malfoy and her son, Master Malfoy.” Narcissa didn’t respond. She pushed past her servant and entered the drawing room.
“Your father’s in his study Draco, he wants you to see him before you do anything else.” Draco nodded and walked through the long hallways. Even though it was the start of the summer months, the hallways were cold and unwelcoming. The paintings and armor that hung on the wall were uninviting to Draco and a shiver ran up his spine.
The door to his father’s study was slightly ajar and Draco pushed it open. His father had a trunk open in the middle of the room and was running wildly around pulling books off shelves and throwing them in. He emptied a large armload and looked up as he heard Draco come in. “I’m leaving for a while Draco, something important has come up.” Draco’s cold eyes met his father’s with no change, “Dumbledore told us about the Dark Lord. Is it true then father, he has returned?” Lucious seemed to have expected this, “Yes, Dumbledore would have told you all wouldn’t he. Still trying to protect his students.”
He lifted up a rug behind his large wooden desk and opened a vault. “Yes Draco, it’s true. Our Lord has finally returned.” He pulled out a brightly glowing sword and the same sort of shield to go with it. He closed his trunk once and opened it again. He deposited the two items into another compartment and then shut and locked the lid. He walked slowly over to his son and placed both hands onto his shoulders. He looked into the gray eyes that were so much like his own. “Soon he will be back to his old self again, and you can have an introduction Draco. But for now there is nothing you can do. Keep watch over the house and finish your studies so that you can pass your OWLs next year. When I return I will take you and we shall initiate you into our order.”
Draco was horrified. He felt no desire to meet the wizard that so many people feared. He was quite content to finish his summer without incident and to return to Hogwarts. He smiled his twisted smile at his Father, trying to hide the emotions raging inside him. His father seemed please at Draco’s solemn response. He took it as a sign that his son would soon be ready to pledge his life to the work of the Dark Lord he served. He would wait until he had finished his school work before fully enrolling him. Dumbledore would become suspicious of their family if the dark mark was to show up on Draco while at Hogwarts. And it would be impossible for Draco to respond to the Dark Lord’s calling. Yes, best to wait until after graduation. By then Voldemort would be at full strength and that despicable child Potter would be dead.
Lucious picked up his trunk and walked out of his study. Draco stepped out of the way to let his father pass and then followed him into the drawing room where his Mother sat drinking tea from their best set of china. “Are you leaving now then, dear?” she asked without leaving the chair she occupied. Lucious nodded once as he set down the trunk he’d been levitating, “Yes. I’ll be home shortly before the boy is to leave for Hogwarts again.” He spoke as if Draco were not standing directly behind him. Narcissa inclined her chin down in acknowledgment, “Do try and be careful.” The scorn she wore was sickening to her husband and his eye twitched as he tried to control an outburst of anger. He grimaced, “Of course my dear. And now I’m off.” He smiled once at Draco behind him and disapparated.
Narcissa breathed a sigh of relief once her husband had left and she vacated the room herself. Draco stared at the spot his father had just occupied, why did he have to leave so soon after he’d arrived home and why did he have these hopes of Draco following in his footsteps? Draco let out a small sigh and sauntered out the door and up the winding stone steps that led to his room.
His room was on the third floor of the mansion, it was on the opposite side of the Manor from his Mother’s, and his Father normally slept in his study or in his lounge bar in the dungeons. Draco opened his door and stared at the room which hadn’t been touched in a year. Although no dust had collected on his things he could tell that nothing had been disturbed by prying servants, or parents for that matter, Draco thought.
To one side of the room was a large wood desk and chair. A lamp stood off to one side so that Draco could finish his studies at night, and an ink stand made like a serpent sat on the other. He despised snakes, he hated the thought of them. Every where he looked in Malfoy Manor he saw snakes. On the taps, on the walls, in painting, in the tapestries, they were even carved into his ceilings. Why was his family so obsessed with snakes?
A large armoire was pushed against the wall opposite his bed. He kept his dress robes as well as some of his more preferred summer wear in this so that they wouldn’t become wrinkled during his long months away at Hogwarts. His walls were bare. There were no pictures, no posters, nothing that indicated an adolescent lived in this room.
He shut his door behind him and opened up his trunk, which the chauffeur had brought up. He took out his books and set them on his desk. He pulled out his Slytherin robes and stuffed them at the very rear of his closet, he didn’t want to see those robes until he boarded the train again in September. He stripped off the ones he was wearing, there were holes from where Potter and is little friends had cursed him. He crumpled them up and threw them into the waste paper basket. He pulled out a pair of loose fitting pants and a casual black robe from his armoire. He sat down lazily onto his four poster and leaned his head against the wall.
He was angry at his father. How could his father simply assume that Draco would follow the same path as he did? His father expected top grades, Draco had average marks in everything. Everything except potions which he excelled in to the point he had higher marks even than that silly girl Granger. His father expected obedience, Draco would rather laugh in his father’s face than perform some of the services he’d done. His father expected him to lust after the dark arts and to become loyal to his master, Draco…
“Draco.” His mother’s voice interrupted his thoughts. Why did she always need him for something? She paraded him around in front of her friends like he was a show dog. She had him run errands that any of the house elves could have done. Every time she looked at him there was the same disgrace on her face. He could see the hatred in her eyes. Why did she despise him so? Was he not good enough to be her son? Were his grades and social ineptitudes that embarrassing to her? Was he really that bad that…
“Draco, come dear we have company. Come downstairs and say hello.” His summer had begun and it was hardly a vacation for him.
He swung his feet over the side of his bed and let out a long sigh. Only three years left and then he could move as far away from this place as he could. That is to say unless his Father forced him into the service that he himself was a slave to. He walked across the room and went to answer his Mother’s call.
He was a week into his vacation, if anyone could call this a vacation. At least once a day his mother had had company, and each time he was expected to put in an appearance. He showered and put on clean robes before going down and acted like the young Malfoy he was supposed to. After a half an hour or so he would make an excuse to leave and traipse back up to his room. He would strip off the uncomfortable robes for more casual ones and sit on his bed reading.
This Sunday was no different. It was two O’clock when he was rudely awoken by one of the house elves. “Young Master Malfoy must get up!” it squeaked in a panicky, high pitched voice. He rolled over and pulled the covers up over his head, “Go ‘way.” He could sense the servant had not left, “Madame Malfoy requests that you show your hospitality to her guests, Mrs. Crabbe and Mrs. Goyle.”
He slowly lowered the covers and peered out at the elf standing very nervously just inside his room. She was wringing her hands continuously as he stared at her. If Crabbe and Goyle were here that would at least give him something to do. He got up out of bed and could see the house elf breathe a sigh of relief before she bowed low and left the room. Draco showered quickly and threw on a pair of his more relaxed robes, ones he felt comfortable in and ones he knew his mother would not scold him for wearing.
He took the steps two at a time and burst into the drawing room. He stopped dead in his tracks. His mother was sitting with Mrs. Crabbe and Mrs. Goyle but their sons were no where to be seen. Perhaps they’d found their way to the kitchen already, thought Draco, those two were always hungry.
He straightened his robes quickly and proceeded the rest of the way into the room. “Mrs. Crabbe, Mrs. Goyle, how nice to see you.” He bowed his head slightly as he said each of their names. They each nodded in return but didn’t speak. “Are your sons around here somewhere?” Draco asked in a voice which he hoped would not give away his eagerness. Even if he hated being around those two, hated their stupidity, and hated their families, having lousy company was better than no company at all.
A slightly evil grin had come across his mother’s face, one which she usually wore when he had done something foolish and made himself look bad. “You mean you haven’t heard, Draco?”
Draco disliked the games she played with him, he shook his head, “Haven’t heard what Mother?”
Her grin spread further across her face and the same ones appeared on the faces of the large women sitting opposite her. “It seems that young Misters Crabbe and Goyle did so bad on their exams that their father’s sent them away to Durmstang for the summer to catch up.” His mother was taking great pleasure in telling his this terrible news.
He was surprised that the two women sitting across from her were not defending their children. “We’ve been after our husbands for years to do something about their ineptitude, and their recent exams were the final straw.” Mrs. Goyle nodded in agreement to what her best friend had said, “Yes it seems that Durmstangs runs a very rigorous summer class schedule. It should be enough to get them back up to the same level as their classmates, although they will only be returning home a day or so before they’re bound for Hogwarts again.” Neither one of the women sitting down seemed to care that their son’s were horribly stupid people, and made no effort to hide that fact either.
Now though Draco’s summer was looking dim. Before it had looked bad, the thought of spending the entire time, as usual, with the two people that he least wanted to spend time with. Now he would probably end up playing show dog for his mother all summer.
“Oh don’t look so worried Draco,” his mother interrupted, “I’ve got something special planned for you. You won’t be desperately lonely this summer without your little friends.” There were two lies in what his mother had just said, “little,” and “friends,” but he didn’t correct either as she continued. “The Quidditch Association of England is starting up a youth program this year. It’s a new type of Quidditch, a revised edition I should say, which only consists of three chasers and one hoop. It sounds most entertaining.” Draco rolled his eyes, his mother’s idea of entertainment was having him out of the house. “Practices are every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from five until nine and games are Saturday nights. It starts tomorrow, you can use the floo network to get there.” She smiled at him, he hated the floo network. He came out covered in soot and the dust made his lungs tighten inside his chest.
This new development made the summer look a little more interesting. Although the thought, the knowledge, that his mother had only signed him up for this league to get him out of her way made him feel uneasy. He would have to show off for her friends during the day and then go off tired and play Quidditch at night after supper.
He asked to be excused, his lie this time being that if practices started tomorrow he would have to tune up his Nimbus 2001 before he started using it again. He slowly made his way up the steps and into his room. He gave the door a good slam and plopped down onto his bed. Why did he seem to have all the good luck? His father had gone off chasing muggles and mudbloods with his dear leader Voldemort, who was, Draco though, a mudblood himself. The two people he thought he could count on for a least a bit of entertainment and company were off at some god forsaken school taking remedial classes. And his mother disliked him so much she’d sign him up for summer Quidditch, which the way she explained it didn’t even sound like proper Quidditch or any where near it. The way his luck was going he’d be stuck on a team with Scar head and his trusted side-kick carrot top.
He shrugged off the robes he’d put on for his Mother and picked his broom up, which was leaned in the corner. He sat down on his desk chair and pulled out the broom servicing kit he’d used during the year. He neatly trimmed back the stray straw. Draco hadn’t used his broom much last year since there had been no Quidditch season, only that stupid Tri-Wizard Tournament.
He had despised that competition. It was no more than a competition of fools. Cedric Diggory couldn’t have been the Hogwarts champion. There had to have been someone who would have stood up to the Dark Lord’s little helper. Someone who wouldn’t have died. That veela whore Fleur was no better. She had charmed the Goblet to pick her name just as she had charmed all of the boys who had asked her to the Yule Ball. Viktor Krum, now he was a champion. He was smart, courageous, and an excellent seeker. The only thing Krum lacked was finesse. He was so awkward and had such a hideous face Draco was surprised, to say the least, at how girls at school had acted around him.
Which brought him to Potter. Famous Harry Potter couldn’t even get through one school year without saving the world. Harry Potter saved them all from Quirrel. Harry Potter saved the school from a Basilisk. Harry Potter…Draco had had enough of Harry Potter to last him a lifetime.
But Harry had it easy. Harry could save the world as many times as he wanted to but he could never do the things that Draco did. Draco had to put up with a Mother who couldn’t bring herself to look at her own son without hatred flooding her face. Draco, who’s own Father simply wanted a son who would follow in his footsteps and serve a wizard Draco thought the world might be better without. Draco, who could only have friendships with Slytherins and the children of DeathEaters. Draco, who’s family name haunted him wherever he went. Hanging like a storm cloud above his head for the whole world to judge him as he walked through life. Draco, who couldn’t even be sorted properly. His name had been called and the hat had never touched his head. Every Malfoy who had ever attended Hogwarts had been sorted into Slytherin and that was no accident. Draco couldn’t even be himself around friends. His friends were sons and daughters of family friends and if he said or acted out of place, even at school or in his own dormitory, it would get back to his Father somehow.
Yes, Potter had it easy, Draco thought. All Potter had to do was smile and wave at the cameras. Potter couldn’t even do that right though. Potter cowered away from the fame. He cowered away from the media. He walked in the shadows to avoid the glory of who he was. And it only made Draco hate him more. Why couldn’t Potter be arrogant so that Draco could hate him properly? Why couldn’t Potter hate Draco the way he hated him? Why did Potter have to show remorse, have to show pity, have to show compassion? These things were as alien to him as money was to the Weasleys, thought Draco. His Father had never taught pity. “If your enemy lets his guard down, run him threw.” His Father had taught him that fencing.
He glanced down and realized that he had been polishing the wood of his broom now for an hour. It was dark outside as the sun had set and Draco had taken no notice, he hadn’t even lit his lamp.
He put away the different components of his servicing kit and stood his broom back into the corner of his room. He lit the lamp on his desk with a quick prod from his wand. The enchantments on the property kept ministry eyes from seeing anything that went on inside the gates and so Draco was able to his use wand freely over the summer months away from Hogwarts, it was one of the only things Draco enjoyed about the Manor.
He pulled on clean robes and tidied his hair. No doubt Crabbe and Goyles Mother’s were staying for dinner. They had the same appetites as their sons, and Draco knew that their chef was far superior to any other in England. The prospect of having to sit through dinner with his mother was bad enough. But the thought of having to watch those two glutinous women eat and gossip was almost too much for him. Perhaps he could claim he was ill and simply eat in his room before going to bed? Or perhaps he could…
“Draco.” His mother had a way of knowing exactly when he was trying to avoid her and always called him directly to her side. “Draco, dinner is in a few minutes. Our guest will be staying as well, why don’t you come down and join us for a drink before hand?” She had probably already had quite a few to drink, as had her guests, Draco assumed, and it only made her voice more irritable to him.
He let out a long sigh and left the sanctuary of his bed chamber and headed out into the unknown. What Draco wouldn’t have given at that moment to simply have vanished on the spot. Yes, his summer prospects were looking dimmer and dimmer by the day, only a month and some weeks left, Draco told himself as he walked down the spiral stairs, until it would be time for him to board the Hogwarts Express and go back to school. Hogwarts had become like a home for him, he felt more comfortable in the castle than he did his own Manor. He looked forward to going back and was mentally counting off the days.
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