It was an unspoken rule, but one that I was certain existed nonetheless. Rules were the quintessence of my family, the framework that held us together. If there was a Malfoy Family rule-book - and I would not be surprised to find out that there was - it would be at least a few thousand pages long, and each rule would be more ridiculous than the last: Malfoys may not shout, Malfoys may not show emotion, Malfoys may not speak or breathe or do anything to indicate that they are alive.
I purposefully clanged my fork against my plate, disrupting the dead silence that was smothering the dinner table. My mother nearly jumped out of her chair at the sudden noise; the hand bringing her fork to her mouth trembled and sent peas flying everywhere. A house elf scurried to clean them up.
I hadn't touched the food on my plate, but I wasn't hungry. "May I please be excused?" I asked, directing the question at my father, who was less likely to ignore my existence. He merely nodded, his tired eyes fixed on his plate as he mechanically lifted food to his mouth.
The legs of my chair screeched across the floor as I stood up, and I savored the sound - the way it echoed throughout the massive dining room. My mother sent another spoonful of peas through the air and I hurried from the room, impatient to get away from the pathetically vacant expressions on both of my parents faces.
It was difficult to decide what was worse: Malfoy Manor or Hogwarts. When I was little, I had been eager to go to Hogwarts - eager to escape the gloomy, lifeless nature of my home that made it feel like a coffin. At Hogwarts, children talked and laughed and danced through the corridors; the castle was constantly alive, with the exception of the History of Magic classroom. The only downside was that, at Hogwarts, I stood out.
Even if people didn't know my name, they could tell who I was by my appearance; with pale blond hair and grey eyes, I was a carbon-copy of my father. No one ever stopped to think that the similarities might stop there. Ever since the Sorting Hat had called out Slytherin, I had only been known as the son of a Death Eater, a traitor, a man who made mistakes. As soon as I realized that I was the one who was going to have to pay for those mistakes, my illusions about Hogwarts vanished.
Hogwarts was much bigger than Malfoy Manor, but I liked to think that Malfoy Manor had more secrets. Minutes after I had left my parents at the dinner table, I was in the deserted half of the Manor - the part that my father deliberately avoided, the part that even the house elves left alone. I rarely visited it, but just then it felt right to be wandering through rooms and corridors that were as rejected as I was.
Most of the rooms I passed by were empty, but as I walked further from the occupied part of the Manor I found more and more forgotten objects. In one room, there was a wardrobe with elaborate snakes carved into it, and even though it was covered in dust and clearly ancient, I could tell by the expensive wood that it had once been someone's prized possession. I traced the outline of a carved snake briefly, wondering what type of person had owned the wardrobe, and if they had felt as trapped and burdened by their last name as I did.
But the room I stopped in was the one with the marble fireplace. It was larger than most of the other rooms, with a shabby mattress in the center and an empty portrait propped up against the wall. Unexpectedly tired from my exploring, I sank onto the mattress and studied the gilded picture frame, wishing that I could escape as easily as the person in the portrait so obviously had. Without the task of putting one foot in front of the other to occupy my mind, I was overwhelmed by bitter thoughts.
When people looked at me, the only thing they saw was a Malfoy, and it wasn't fair. I didn't ask to be a Malfoy, didn't ask to have a coldhearted coward as a father, didn't ask to be born into a world that hated and feared me before they even knew me. And yet that's how things were, and I couldn't change them - I couldn't change the fact that I was a thirteen-year-old boy with practically no family and definitely no friends. Even the other Slytherins stayed away from me, fearful of the consequences of being seen with me.
Worse than the way my dorm-mates deliberately rejected me - the way they drew their hangings around their four-posters whenever I entered the dormitory, the way they pointedly scooted away when I sat near them in the Great Hall, the way they pretended not to notice when I dropped my things in the corridors - was the way other students acted towards me: hissing insults, glaring maliciously, and casting hexes under the cover of their robes. But worst of all was the way James Potter treated me.
The thought of the fifteen-year-old Gryffindor made me involuntarily curl my fingers into tight fists. I could remember our last encounter as easily as if it were yesterday; after all, it had only been a few days ago.
I was sitting in an empty compartment. The only advantage to my reputation as a social pariah was that most people went out of their way to stay out of my way; the Hufflepuffs that had been sitting in the compartment before had immediately scurried out when I sat down.
Pressing my forehead against the cool glass of the window, I watched the countryside roll by, torn over what to feel now that I was finally going home for the Christmas holidays. I was just settling on regret - the last few days at Hogwarts really hadn't been all that awful - when the door to my compartment slid open, and there they were: the fifth year Gryffindor blokes.
Potter was leading the four of them, as he usually did. He had shed his school robes, his shirt was rolled up at the sleeves, and his face was carved into a sneer. I felt the familiar taste of fear and dread at the back of my throat, but I stubbornly pushed it down; I would never give Potter the satisfaction of seeing me tremble.
"We've come to give you your Christmas present," he said mock-sweetly, and two of his lackeys chuckled.
And maybe I should've kept my mouth shut - maybe I should've let them hex me and get it over with - but I couldn't do it. I wasn't a Gryffindor, but I would sell my soul to Voldemort before I would let anyone, least of all James Potter, walk all over me.
"Please tell me it's something creative," I drawled, adopting a bored expression. "I'm rather tired of listening to your idiotic insults." Before the last word had even rolled off of my tongue, all of our wands were out and pointed at each other. There was no beating around the Devil's Snare with this lot.
I fired first. "Stupefy!" Unfortunately, Potter ducked out of the way just in time, and the beefy blonde boy who had been standing behind him fell stiffly to the floor. But it was still four against one, and the only way I had any chance of winning was if I could distract them enough.
Shouting to be heard over the din of spells, I said, "I should've gotten you a Christmas present as well - some logic, perhaps? You need at least ten more people for this to be an even fight." I winced as one of the boys - in the blur of movement, I couldn't exactly tell which one - hit me with a Twitchy Ears hex.
Potter's voice sounded behind me, and I whirled around, narrowly dodging his jinx. "Oh, believe me," he called back, "I don't need any more Christmas presents. You see - I've got a family that gives me plenty of them. It's alright to be jealous, Malfoy."
I smoothed my face into a detached expression before he could see how much his words stung; he couldn't know how jealous I really was, how much I hated my family, how much I wished I was someone else's son. One of the other fifth year Gryffindors got hit with my Stunning spell, but not before hitting my right arm with a Petrificus Totalus. I switched my wand to my left hand, and aimed to hurt.
"Spot on, Potter; I'm so jealous of your amazing family," I sarcastically retorted. "Who wouldn't want the wonderful Harry Potter for a father? It must be so nice to have a dad whose so famous he doesn't even have time for his own children." Recently, The Daily Prophet had been running some interesting stories about how the Boy-Who-Lived was turning into the Boy-Whose-Wife-Might-Leave-Him, and, judging by Potter's flinch at my words, there was at least some truth to those rumors.
In blatant proof of how daft they were, the other two Gryffindors mistakenly fired at each other; both of them crumpled to the floor, so that it was just Potter and me. We stood panting in the middle of the compartment, facing each other. Our eyes locked, grey to brown, and he hesitated, his wand dropping to his side. I cautiously lowered mine.
"Maybe my father isn't around all the time," he said angrily, his eyes blazing, "but I know he cares about me. That's more than you can say about yours." And, without waiting for a response, without even bothering to help his Gryffindor mates, he stalked out of the compartment.
I stared after him, stunned; it took me a minute to realize that the train had stopped moving. A glance out the window confirmed that we had arrived at King's Cross. I could see Cookie, the house elf my parents always sent to pick me up, standing timidly on the platform; next to her, a swarm of people watched expectantly as the students started pouring off of the train.
When Potter stepped onto the platform, the swarm rushed forward to engulf him, and I felt empty inside.
Even though it had happened days ago, the memory still made my blood boil. Unable to stay still any longer, I hoisted myself off of the mattress and started pacing in front of the fireplace, thoughts darting furiously through my head.
It was one thing for me to think that my father didn't care about me, but it was quite another thing to hear someone else say it as if it were a well-known fact. What right did Potter have to go and say those things? What right did he have to treat me like that? I had never done anything to him - he was the one who had come up to me on my first day at Hogwarts and tried to shove my head down a toilet. It wasn't fair for him to loathe me just because of my last name; I couldn't change it, no more than he could change his.
And maybe that was just it: Malfoys and Potters, they weren't supposed to be friends. That was probably another rule in the Malfoy Family rule-book - just another thing I couldn't change.
But no matter how true my conclusions might be, I couldn't let go of how ridiculous they were. I knew my anger was irrational and unnecessary and probably a direct violation of that blasted rule-book, but I didn't care anymore. I could practically feel sparks of anger bursting from my fingertips and, in a surge of childish rage, I punched my foot through the picture frame, again and again and again, until the empty portrait was in splinters on the floor and I was practically straddling the gilded frame.
Once the thrill of destruction wore off, I felt silly about what I had done - what good would come from destroying a poor old picture frame? It was a relief that no one had been around to watch me act like an insolent child throwing a temper tantrum.
When I reached down to carefully dislodge my foot from the pile of rubble, my eyes were drawn to something shiny on the floor – something that had been tucked behind the frame, as if to hide it. My mind ablaze with anticipation, I quickly untangled my legs from the remains of the portrait and plucked the abandoned treasure off the floor.
It was a pocket watch - one of those antique silver ones attached to a chain that only grandfathers carry around. While finding an old pocket watch in Malfoy Manor wasn’t particularly odd in itself, there were a couple things about the pocket watch that did strike me as odd.
First, it didn’t look old; unlike everything else I found in this part of the Manor, it wasn’t covered in a thick layer of dust. In fact, it was remarkably shiny – as if someone had just polished it. But even more odd was the slip of parchment stuck between the cover and the face of the clock.
Carefully opening the cover, I removed the piece of parchment (which, I noted, didn’t look old either) and unfolded it. The irrational, little boy inside of me was hoping for a treasure map or a secret message – anything to make this Christmas a little more exciting.
But what I found scrawled across the parchment in girlish cursive was much better: poetry.
Turn my hands around my clock,
Tick and tock, for a major shock.
Every circle around my face is another year,
And time will make sure you're no longer here.
Practically shivering with excitement, I stared down at the pocket watch with awe. The cryptic poem could only mean one thing: this wasn't just any old pocket-watch – it was a time-turner. My mind had barely registered this fact before it was whirring with possibilities.
I knew that whatever God there was up there in the sky had heard my cries of unfairness, because here, right in the palm of my hand, was my chance to make things fair.
If I could go back to my father's first year at Hogwarts, I could change his mistakes - he would never become a Death Eater, he would never try to kill Dumbledore, and he would never make Harry Potter his enemy. I could change everything; the thought gave me an unexpected thrill.
Quickly calculating the math in my head - my father was thirty-nine, which meant that he would have been eleven twenty-eight years ago - I threw the chain around my neck, flipped the pocket watch open, and eagerly started turning the hands around the clock, counting as I went.
A/N: This is the first time I've written from Scorpius' point of view - and definitely the first time I've written from a thirteen-year old boy's point of view. The concept of this story is loosely inspired by Disney's Meet the Robinsons, an adorable movie that I highly recommend you check out. And I want to thank all the helpful people on the forums for giving me many amazing title suggestions, and especially hpfan45 for suggesting the winning one.
Note: parts of this chapter were re-written on 6/4/12.
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