The funeral did not count, for he had not been mentally present. He figured the only times that should count were the ones where your mind could actually register the pain, and he had been entirely numb throughout the proceedings.
It was dusk, because, naturally, there was no other time to visit a graveyard. He had procrastinated as long as possible. He had sat at home with her picture in his hands and just stared at it, pretending there was no glass between them and the paper and ink staring back was really skin and blood. Before leaving the picture had fallen to the floor, the glass shattering. It remained there.
He wasn’t surprised that he knew exactly where her grave was. Maybe his soul felt hers and was pulling him to her like a wind up toy, or maybe he subconsciously remembered walking this path years ago when the funeral procession had trekked down these very cobblestones. He wondered bemusedly if wind up toys ever had a spring reaction and jerked back towards the person who had wound them.
Her grave was ordinary, and that hit him in the chest, his heart squeezing against the knowledge. Nothing about this woman had been ordinary. If only he had realized that before today.
He knelt before it, running his fingers around the uneven and unpolished rock. It scratched at his fingertips. He turned away from the marker and wondered why he was here. He should just go. He started to take steps in the opposite direction and paused. He would not make that mistake again. “You used to tell me you were proud of me,” he shook his head, raising his eyes to the darkening sky. The wind was picking up, a storm was blowing in. “How could you possibly be proud of me?”
“Where are you going, my son?”
“Out,” came the harsh reply.
She sighed, turning to him and gently closing her book, laying it on the table beside her. “You must return by eight,” she reminded him. “There is an initiation tonight.”
“I’m aware,” he said as he swung his cloak around him.
“Draco,” her voice was soft, her eyes cast downward.
“I’ll be home when I decide I am good and ready to come home,” Draco threw over his shoulder as he turned to leave the room. “Crabbe and Goyle will be with me, so make sure the house elfs make enough food.”
“Narcissa, I told you to make sure my things were in order!” His father’s voice came rampaging down the hall. There would be violence. Draco wanted to make his escape promptly. Narcissa knew this, motherly instinct taking over, she gave up.
She shook her head. “Be home before eight o’clock,” she said again.
His response was a slamming door in her face.
Draco turned back to the gravestone, the wind ripping his cloak almost off his shoulders. The air was chilly. “How dare you,” he scoffed. “How could you let them?” His fists clenched. His eyes scrunched tight. “If you were still here, I would beg you for forgiveness - you, who was proud of me until the very end.” His knees gave out beneath him, crashing into the soft dirt. She was here. She was right beneath him. All that separated them was six feet of dirt and three inches of wood. So little and yet so much.
“Step forward,” her voice was cruel and bitter, her wand held high. Just a simple flick of her wrist and the pain would be unimaginable. Her power was untouchable.
“P-please, m-mistress,” the slight man whimpered. “P-please spare m-me.”
One of her eyebrows raised. The corner of her mouth twitched. Draco could see it from where he stood on the other side of the parlor. The energy about her was that of a hurricane. She was imbued with it. Around her the people were clad in black, their faces mocking and shrouded by hoods. Draco’s palms were sweaty.
“Crucio!” Narcissa called as she flicked her wrist ever so delicately. Her sister, who stood next to Draco, snickered. He hated his Auntie Bella; she smelled like Azkaban. The man was now on the floor, writhing in pain. He screamed like a stuck pig. Draco put his hands over his ears.
When his mother lifted the curse the man was sobbing like a child. Draco shook his head in disapproval. On his other side Crabbe was laughing and clapping his hands, a huge grin on his pudgy cheeks.
“Remain in control, Narcissa!” Lucius bellowed angrily at his wife as he saw her hand shaking, her wand lowering.
“Please!” the man sobbed. “Just kill me! Please kill me!” He broke off into guttural sobs and could beg no more. Narcissa fulfilled his wish. Her husband nodded in cold approval to her. She turned away from him, a small satisfied smile on her lips, but as her eyes met her son’s that small twitch of her mouth faded quickly, replaced by a heavy crease above her eyebrows. He cast her a speculative glance, as if he was assessing her movements, and she turned from his gaze.
His hands fisted around the earth beneath him, dirt clinging to his fingernails. He was twenty four and he already wished his life was at its end. If this was the kind of knowledge he would live with for the rest of his days and continue to gain, he was not sure he wished to proceed. His hand raised to his chest, dirt smearing across his black shirt.
“I don’t give a bloody damn!” he cried as he raged across the room. “This is entirely your fault! Don’t tell me it isn’t!”
“Draco! Stop this now! It is time for you to step forward as a man! With your father in the ministry’s custody it is time for you to grow up.” Her voice was cold, and he could not hear her desperate reasoning behind the words.
“I don’t want to be one of them,” he crossed his arms against his chest and pouted. “I’m only sixteen. They don’t even let you initiate until 17!”
“The Dark Lord will make an exception for you, my child.”
“I don’t want an exception! I want to do what I want! Not what the Dark Lord wants me to! I want freedom!”
Narcissa was silent for a moment before casting a glossy look at her young . He was so very young, not in body, but in mind. “There is no such thing, my child.”
“Shut up!” he demanded. “If I’m the man now then you do as I say! I do. Not. Want. To be in the Dark Lord’s circle.”
“You must have loyalties, Draco. You can not float through life as a vagabond. You are either with him, or you are against him. He sees black and white, not grey. You must join him or he will kill you.”
“He may kill me anyways,” he muttered under his breath. “And that would be entirely your fault.”
The sun had disappeared from the sky. He hugged his cloak tighter against him and ran his hand over the polished letters of the stone. Narcissa Malfoy it said. Mother, Devoted Wife it finished off before listing her birth date and death date as if they were nothing but cold statistics. One more thing should have been etched into the stone. Right there beneath the numbers; Slave.
“Some days,” he whispered. “I feel as if this world is just going to-” he stopped. Even though he was here, finally telling her, he could not say the words. He hoped wherever she was she knew what he meant. For a moment he stopped and wondered where his father‘s body lay. He had never even seen it and he found that he did not care. All that man had done was leave a woman too weak to resist the world she was in and too strong to raise a child in her own manner alone.
“Hold your wand higher, boy.”
Draco’s hand was shaking. All he could see was that night he had watched his mother ‘Crucio’ a man. He remembered the fire in her eyes and wondered if it naturally came or if you had to force it there.
“Now, flick your wrist like this.”
The room was different then the parlor had been where she had committed her crime, but it was so like this one at the same time. The Dark Lord stood next to him, teaching him what he would need to know to execute his task correctly.
Draco cocked his head to the side, regarding the quivering child before him. He wondered what her parents were like. He wondered if she had pets, or stuffed animals. Maybe she had friends. He raised his wand. Her eyes grew large as he stepped forward. He was entranced by the curly red hair that fell across her eyes as they filled with water. He wanted to make her stop looking at him. He wanted her eyes to close. He wanted this feeling to go away.
He ‘Crucio”-ed her four times before performing the “Avada” curse. Every time he flicked his wrist her screams crescendoed. It was a symphony. Her eyes finally ceased looking at him. Finally closed.
After she had died, tears were still leaking from beneath her eyelids.
He turned and found his mother standing on the sidelines, her sister smiled at him, a large toothy grin, but Narcissa’s eyes were cast at the floor as if in shame, her hands clasped before her. She would not look at him.
The wind had picked up so much by now that leaves were whipping around the graveyard in a tumultuous roar. He felt like one of those leaves, tossed about by a force he could not control. His fists were tight, his eyes wet with tears he had never cried. “Was I was wrong?” he asked her, head tilting back, arms thrown out to his sides. He saw every face of every person he had ever murdered. Every life he had taken he lived. Every heart he had broken. Every family he had wrenched to pieces. He felt them, saw them, lived their pain. “Are you proud still?!” he bellowed at the night sky.
“If I only could,” he sobbed. Tears of release. “If I could let everything go," he gasped. "If I just wasn't who I am.” He struggled to his feet.
She had never looked weak. At least, Draco had never thought she had until this moment. He didn’t know if he would recognize this particular emotion in his mother, but here it was. She lay before him, strewn on the ground, her hand draped delicately over her chest where blood was leaking through her fingers. Draco could see the sharp piece of metal she had fallen on. Her head was elevated on the final stair, not having made it all the way to the landing.
Draco’s eyes, as ever, were dry.
“My son,” she said in a throaty whisper. “Your father didn’t mean it.”
A slave. To the very end.
“Yes, Mother,” Draco replied.
“Be strong, my child. Don’t ever let anyone control you. Don’t ever let anyone force you into actions you will one day regret. Be your own person, Draco.” They were words that she never was able to say. Words he should have heard, but she never relayed. A bubble of blood popped over her lips, leaving a red tinge to drizzle down her chin. Her eyes did not close when she died.
“Have the house elfs take care of that mess,” Lucius commanded Draco as he walked past where his son sat, staring at the warm corpse of his mother.
“Yes, Father,” Draco replied.
It didn't matter. No matter what he wished, or did, or even said. He was Draco Malfoy. A man bathed in the blood of innocent people. It was no one’s fault, despite the way people may blame his upbringing for his actions, or his connection to the Dark Lord. Some people blamed his cold father, who was eventually murdered by the Ministry. Some people said it was because his father had left him for an entire night alone with the body of his dead mother. They said the house elfs found him asleep, his head on her stomach. But it was Draco, that made Draco who he was. It was his mother who had tried to save him. It was this great woman. She had not wanted him to be a slave.
“I’m sorry I let you down,” he said as he knelt to the ground one last time, his mouth close to the dirt. “I understand now,” he ran his hand over the dirt, imagining her cheek was there, six feet beneath him. Soft and fleshy. White as marble. "I am cold too."
It was Narcissa Malfoy who had crafted him. Carved him from stone and placed him in a world where she had no control.