He dusted some ash off his coat, as he stood, newly arrived at his family manor. He was inside their largest sitting room, standing inside a fire place that was at least three times taller than he was. The thick curtains were drawn and dust lingered in the air. Large paintings hung on the walls, faces so like his, faces of the long dead and pureblooded who were asleep. Someone cleared her throat. He turned facing to the right and saw his pale mother sitting on a red velvet upholstered chair. Her dark brown eyes were framed by thick lashes. She was wearing a black dress with a silver brooch of his grandmother’s, Druella; fastened about her neck. Someone else was in the room, sitting across his mother.
His eyes widened. “Aunt Bella-“
She smiled at him, her yellowish teeth gleaming in the subdued lights, her hair more or less in the same tangled state as he had last seen her. “Draco, my favorite nephew!”she said with relish. She stood up and strode over to him, touching his face with her palms on either side, near lovingly- except for that manic glint in her eyes.
“You’re here…” he stammered. “How-“ His heart was beating abysmally all of a sudden.
“A matter of good planning, my dear boy.”
He looked back at his mother and saw guarded ache in her eyes, torn with fierce allegiance for her sister and terror for the man they entitled as their master. “Your aunt will stay here for a day or two, depending on the plans.”
He almost couldn’t nod. His aunt standing before him meant that they truly were back in ‘business’. So this was what it was all about. But how were they going through with the plans? They had lost Hogwarts the last time…painfully so. He shuddered to imagine what-
“Anyway, my dear boy,” Bellatrix interrupted his thoughts. “What the Dark Lord requires of you is pretty simple. I want you to-“
“Wait, I thought I had fallen from his grace.”
Bellatrix laughed. “You have, but I was able to persuade him that you had some use still, you were instrumental with Dumbledore’s death, after all. Now listen my boy, I don’t have much time here, as Aurors have become rather stringent,” she grinned at the word ‘stringent’, “but I will lay down a few plans we’ve made with your Uncle Rodolphus.”
He almost cringed. His aunt’s husband was the male version of her; sadistic, manipulative, cunning and above all, fiercely loyal to the Dark Lord. One of the few who had searched for him upon his downfall.
He cleared his throat. “Does father know?”
Bellatrix’s brow rose. “I haven’t seen him in ages, boy.”
“So it’s just us four?” he looked at his mother. Narcissa’s lips pursed, revealing her resentment to another act for the Dark Lord. He saw his mother nod.
“For the meantime,” Bellatrix crooned. “Now Draco, I want you to listen and listen-“ she paused and her eyes darted for a crack in the door. She opened it with a flick of her wand and saw no one there. She flicked her wand once more and the door shut with a loud bang. “Can’t be too careless, now, can we? Anyway, where were we? Ah, now Draco, listen well. The Dark Lord is hidden safely as of the moment, he’s convalescing- he needs to draw strength, while he does, I want you to do a few things for his glory.”
“If this includes killing McGonagall-“
“Nonsense! She is of no use, although it would be pleasant enough as a past time later on. Draco, I want you to-“
“Bella, is this really necessary?” Narcissa interrupted almost feebly. The countless measures she had taken-
Bellatrix shot her a glare. “Cissy, you know we have to move! The Potter boy shall gain more skill if we do nothing to damage him now. We have to move while we can. This is buying the Dark Lord some time.
“There can be other ways. I don’t want Draco to-“
“What, Cissy, what? How many times do I have to tell you, you should be proud to have a son like Draco, keen and competent to serve the Master! No one gets another opportunity at-“
“I’m just saying, what if this could kill him?!” Narcissa trembled, standing up to face her older, taller sister.
Bellatrix was breathing roughly, intent on showing what an honor it truly was to be able to work for the Dark Lord. She towered over Narcissa, like a dragon breathing fire. Narcissa felt herself recoil. She held Bellatrix’s free hand.
“Bella, he’s the only one I have now,” she spoke quietly this time, still holding onto her hand with imploring eyes.
“Lucius, you’ll have him back soon. We just need to prod this a bit, you know, Cissy? It’s crucial. It’s a matter of life and death, the Dark Lord’s, ours and Draco’s!” she snapped, taking her hand away.
Narcissa stepped back and sank on the chair, unable to look at Draco, looking crushed and disheartened. Her pale hand fluttered around her mouth nervously as she stared at the drawn curtains, the fire in the grate casted strange, sinister shadows all around their faces, like the Dark Lord’s hands creeping about them without their knowledge.
Bellatrix knelt down beside her sister’s hunched figure. “Cissy, you remember what father told us? About sorting with the right kind? You married into the Malfoys, I married into the Lestranges. We all have our key parts to play. This is our part, to be subservient to the one master that will reinstate our status as sovereigns in this world- and perhaps in the muggle world soon. So let Draco play his part now. This is his fate.”
Draco felt a pit form in his stomach with his aunt’s last sentence. He stared, unable to move, watching his mother control her tears, looking strong for her older and more vicious sister. He cleared his throat.
“Aunt Bellatrix, what would he have me do?” he asked in a controlled voice.
Bellatrix stood up and slowly made her way for Draco. She stared at him for quite some time, her mouth forming into a twisted smile. Draco felt his brain being pushed back and forth somehow, some sort of pressure was forming. His head throbbed, he knew what was happening. Bellatrix was trying to get into his mind. Legilimency at its finest, only after the Dark Master and Dumbledore…The pressure was beginning to feel agonizing now and Draco stood ground, forcing himself to betray nothing, mustering all his courage to fight the invasion of his mind with Occlumency.
It seemed like his aunt’s hand was probing through the folds of his dura mater, he could feel light headedness and at the same time a throbbing pain. He could hear her speak; despite the fact the all she did in front of him was set her mouth in a straight line.
It’s simple, really. End the school year early, February should do, of course some of us will be there to help you…Your mother is weak at heart, my nephew. She’ll never get past the fact that risks need to be taken, life is treading precariously for you. But you should be grateful to have served the Dark Lord. No one gets another chance...There is a room in Hogwarts, near the….
Draco felt his jaw harden, his fist clutched tightly into a ball. His eyes narrowed once in awhile. He saw twisted images surface. He saw the Dark Lord’s hands pointing to something. Something inside the castle, something valuable held in a room. He saw the faces swimming in his mind, images formed of the Master’s bidding. He felt his throat go dry, his aunt was whispering to him in his mind still, telling him what to do, telling him how to move, teaching him like she had always been his mentor…
Then, in an instant, the voice was gone inside his skull and he felt his knees buckle, still reeling from the mental pain. He quickly held onto an armchair’s headrest and tried to breathe normally. His mother started for him but he quickly shot out a palm to make her stay where she was.
“I’m fine; mother.”
Narcissa almost glared at Bellatrix as she stood her ground.
“Come now, Cissy,” Bellatrix began. “I meant to confer wisdom, not harm my nephew.”
“I made that promise to keep my son safe a year ago, don’t make me do it again.”
Bellatrix huffed and plopped on a couch. “Boo-hoo, big Fidelius with good old Snape, we should never trust him, I don’t care what you say, Cissy. His intentions are far different from ours, besides that promise has been fulfilled and broken upon your agreement and Snape’s- well his death came in fortunately after-”
“My intention is to save my son.”
“He doesn’t need saving, Cissy! Do you need saving Draco?” she eyed her tall and pale nephew who echoed Lucius’ appearance down to the color of his hair… except she was quite fond of Draco and had thought of his father as a spineless servant to the Dark Lord. She once wished she could have had a son just like him, but quickly forgot this upon becoming a full pledged Death Eater.
“No,” Draco replied quickly, trying to sound as apathetic as possible.
“Oh Draco,” Narcissa stifled a sob, falling back onto the chair once more.
Bellatrix pursed her lips and rolled her eyes a bit. “Really now; Cissy. You sometimes act like mother.”
“I am a mother,” Narcissa said disconsolately.
Bellatrix laughed right out loud after hearing her sister say that. “Draco won’t be harmed in the process,” she sputtered, still laughing. “I did instruct him on how to move.”
Draco nodded. “I’ll be fine, mother.”
Bellatrix stopped laughing and started pacing up and down the room. She was twirling her wand around comically, but her eyes betrayed her hands. They had become cold and calculating again. She stood still for a second and then continued walking back and forth. “Don’t fail us Draco. Don’t fail your mother, don’t fail your Aunt Bellatrix and most of all don’t fall the Dark Lord. This may be his last chance at that Potter boy.”
“I won’t fail anyone,” Draco said lifelessly, unable to believe he had been able to utter such damming words.
Bellatrix smiled with relish again and cackled. “That’s a boy!”
Narcissa said nothing, but her lips quivered with ache and disgust.
It was past midnight when a door creaked open. Draco looked up from a chair and saw his mother come in. He resumed staring out into the expanse of their manor, the vast grounds covered in white, pure, like his blood, pure like his intentions for Hermione, pure like Hermione herself…
“Yes, mother?” he said, almost blearily.
She took a seat across Draco, looking around Draco’s room, saying nothing. It still looked the same, even after eighteen years. The room, which had been selected by Lucius, was closest to the library. It had its own terrace and bathroom. All in all, his room was probably bigger than the Slytherin Common Room. The four poster bed made out of dark oak was still the same bed Draco had had when he had turned three years old, and he had cried, hating the idea of sleeping alone. There was a bulky mirror fit onto a wall with intricate carvings of cherubs, roses and thorns, opposite to a large cabinet that could have fit around three hippogriffs inside, filled with his clothes Narcissa bought from various localities in Europe, mostly from the so called ‘finest wizardry’ haberdasheries. The dark wallpaper that surrounded his room was beginning to look faded now. From birth, she had chosen all of Draco’s things, except for his books, Narcissa mused, suddenly.
She looked back at her son and felt a pang of pain surge through her chest. “Draco-“
“If you’re worried for me, I can fend for myself well.”
“I- yes, I know you can,” she said, sighing. Draco had always been very independent, even as a little boy and she found it so difficult to show the least bit sentimentality, for Lucius had never liked the idea of his only son growing soft. The closest she could show her love was through carefully chosen words, a hand on the shoulder, or holding his hand for never more than a minute.
“This is the part we must play, I suppose,” Draco began. “I feel I was born to serve someone we all fear.”
Narcissa’s eyes widened, surprised to hear her son talk about something very private. “It isn’t like that at all. You were born to make us happy.”
“Happy?” Draco repeated in bitterness.”When have we been ever truly happy? We were born into families because of obligation, not out of pure happiness.”
Narcissa said nothing; the truth came to her like a cold rush to the head. She had denied it, said nothing. She was the subservient one, whether as a daughter, sister or wife. She had married once for love (it seemed so faint now) and then for convenience.
“Don’t add romance to the story, mother. I know how pleased father was to have a son, and how you would have even settled happily if you had a girl. But here I am now.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she told him, not looking at Draco.
“As what we all must do- we adjust. You didn’t have to do that Fidelius Charm.”
Narcissa’s eyes snapped up. “There are some things you will fail or refuse to understand.”
“I understood perfectly. And I was a coward. But not this time. Not anymore,” he said impersonally.
Narcissa sighed. “I don’t get to see you often. Sometimes I forget you’ve grown up.”
A shadow of a smile played on Draco’s lips as did Narcissa’s. “I should keep reminding you. But Aunt Bellatrix is doing a hell of a job.”
“Sometimes, I wish I was as strong as your aunt,” Narcissa said wistfully. “I tagged along with them all the time, your Aunt Bellatrix and that other sister.”
“She has a name.”
“I’ve tried to forget it.”
“Aunt Andromeda isn’t that bad.”
“Just a blood traitor,“ Narcissa quickly said, memories of that horrible fight within the family that eventually led to disowning Andromeda for marrying a muggle. All three of them had been inseparable, until they each entered Hogwarts.
“That was a highly perfect example of marrying for love, then.”
“Draco, would you honestly have me believe that you’re willing to allow contact with blood traitors and Mudbloods?” she said pursing her lips.
“It’s a highly derogatory term, mother. They still have magic in them anyhow.”
“Are you taking up Muggle studies?”
“Then why are you being sentimental all of a sudden?”
“I’ve read stuff. Not all blood traitors are horrible as you believe and neither are Mudbloods.”
“Your father will-“
“Kill me? Come on, mother. We’ve been living in fear all our lives, fear of the Master, fear of father’s rage, fear of blood tainting and all those other bloody prejudices.”
“A choice. All of them are because we have to choose which is best.”
“Fear is not a choice."
“Fear makes you choose.”
Draco was silent. It was true. Fear made his mother choose her path, fear made his father a slave to the Dark Lord, fear made his aunt Bellatrix blatantly devoted over the Dark Lord.
“We can always choose not to fear him,” he said, referring to the Dark Lord.
“It is too late for that,” she sighed. “It’s been too long.” She cleared her throat, determined to change the subject. “But still, we must look forward to things, like you inheriting the Malfoy manor in a few years.”
Draco’s gaze shifted to his mother’s face.”Inherit the what?”
“I’m not even married yet, it’s been stipulated in the will, I read it.”
“Your father changed it after your sixth year.”
Draco’s eyes widened a bit, and then they grew cold again.”He changed it, huh? I bet he’s coercing me to marry straight out of graduating from Hogwarts.”
“He wouldn’t divulge his reasons. But whatever that is, he’s giving it to you, whether you marry or not.”
“Marriage. It sounds so contrived.”
“We all have our reasons, Draco. I had my reasons to marry your father.”
“Did you ever love him at all?”
Narcissa blinked thrice. The question drummed into her brain. She nodded once, although it was a barely there nod. “I believe I did.”
“Did he ever love you?”
Narcissa stared out into the window. She saw fresh snowflakes falling on the black windowpane. Did he ever love her? She never stopped to think. Twenty years into a marriage, twenty years of never questioning whether there was the slightest possibility of affection from him…she paused, trying to recollect any moment of their lives together that he had shown her love. She closed her eyes, memories of their courtship in Hogwarts surfaced in her mind.
She had been a year lower than Andromeda and Lucius when the then fifth year Lucius had caught sight of her changing beauty. She recalled how Lucius approached her in the library one day and sat beside her, asking her if he could take her out to Hogsmeade the following weekend. Surprised at the sudden interest by the golden haired boy, she said no. He persisted, frightening her other suitors off, until his magnetism began to take its toll on her. He had coaxed her into making a perfect pure blood marriage; something their bigotry agreed on, her beauty came second and so did her other qualities. She was a prized catch first, a trophy wife who would do anything. The son came in as consolation. A good consolation, nonetheless…Narcissa looked at her son with a mixture of a mother’s pain and a wife’s duty. She sighed again and didn’t say anything more. She could deny that thought, as always.
“He never did,” Draco said bitterly again. “The one person who would have died for him…” his voice trailed off in disgust.
“I would die for you, Draco. Make no mistake about that too.”
“You deserve someone better.”
“I have you. That is all that matters.”
“Get some sleep, mother.”
Narcissa nodded, seeing that as a reason to depart from her son’s room. She stood up and stroked her son’s head once with her tapered fingers, decorated with rings. Then she retreated, closing the door without so much of a sound.
Draco stared at the door for a minute, wondering if his mother could even sleep a wink, for he knew he could not. The reality of the situation suddenly bagged him down, and he felt a growing concern slither through him once more. He remained seated and thought of how to move through every plan his aunt had told him, without compromising the one person he now had a reason to live and die for.
A/N: I miss uploading. I miss reviews. I miss the fanfiction world where I am generally at my happiest. hahaha. so yeah, love me?