This piece received 135 hearts on Figment, and Iím so very flattered by that. I thought Iíd post it on the archive so it could get properly bannered and shared with new readers. Thank you to everyone who commented or reviewed this story when it was on Figment!
Lyrics come from ďLosing My ReligionĒ by R.E.M.
Information about the Malfoy family crest comes from the Harry Potter Wiki.
Either the burning in his arm or the nightmare in his head woke him up. He wasnít sure which.
The scene from just hours beforehand had begun playing over and over again in his mind from the very moment he laid down underneath his lush goose down covers and fell into fitful sleep. The plot was mostly the same every time, with increasingly horrific alterations here and there. His mother being fed to the snake when he refused to taint his flesh with the Dark Lordís symbol. His father being tracked down and slaughtered in Azkaban when Draco did not comply. Perhaps worst of all, his aunt approaching him gleefully as he at last let the Dark Lord burn the tattoo into his sensitive skin, her freezing embrace draining the very life out of him even as the angry red welts began to bubble up around the edges of the ravenous snake and lifeless skull.
When it finally happened, it had been much less extravagant and climactic than heíd imagined. Aside from his mother and Voldemort, only Bellatrix and Rodolphus had been privy to the moment when he had formally accepted the reality of what he had to become. He adopted a number of roles all at once, each more frightening than the last. Voldemortís loyal follower. Dumbledoreís killer. His fatherís avenger. His motherís protector. What would be left of him?
Oh life is bigger
Itís bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I would go to
The distance in your eyes
He found his feet leading him down into the foyer of the massive, dark house he had lived in since the moment of his birth. His mother was fast asleep upstairs and would not hear him as he whiled away the hours on this restless night. He passed the grandfather clock that had once belonged to Brutus Malfoy, an ancient ancestor, noting that it was nearly three in the morning. At last, his steps came to a halt, and he realized he was looking at his fatherís pride and joy.
He did not stand before a mirror or self-portrait. The Malfoy family tree covered the entire wall.
Every whisper of every waking hour
Iím choosing my confession
Trying to keep an eye on you
Brutus was there, very close near to the ceiling. Draco wondered absently if this man, famous for his anti-Muggle literature, had been the originator of the Malfoy penchant for purebloodedness. Was there any chance that his family had been more like the Weasleys before Brutusís reign? It was discomforting to think about, the possibility that his ancestorsí twisted-up marital ties with families like the Blacks and the Lestranges had polluted the Malfoy line rather than preserve it. He shook his head, physically reminding himself of the motto on the family crest, which had been delicately embroidered into the center of the majestic tapestry and painstakingly touched-up by generation after generation of Malfoy brides who sought something to do with their free time.
Sanctimonia Vincet Semper. Purity always conquers.
The well-bred Malfoy heir at his core shamed him internally for doubting this perfect certainty.
Abraxas, his grandfather. He had lived a long, wealthy life before succumbing to dragon pox, which was an end that seemed surprisingly pleasant to Draco under the current circumstances. Lucius had paintings of this man hanging all over the manor, a clear sign that he remained devoted to his father even after death. Draco had always looked up to his father, but he had trouble mustering pride now, standing alone in the middle of the night with the responsibility of redeeming a lifetime of mistakes for which he was not responsible.
He and his mother had gone to visit Lucius shortly after the ceremony was finished. The elder Malfoy, who appeared as a shade of his former self, had not been in the mood for conversation, even after the Mark had been revealed to him. He said nothing to Draco; indeed, he barely looked him in the eye. Instead, he used up their visitation time whispering careful instructions to Narcissa. Draco realized it then; he was no patriarch, he was merely a tool. A temporary fix.
He traced the line on the wall down to Lucius now, wishing the fallen man had given Draco his fatherís name instead of his own. Truthfully, though, Lucius had tainted every Malfoy with his sins. Draco supposed he should be grateful; he could still try to save himself with his special task.
What if all these fantasies come flailing around?
Now Iíve said too much.
Draco ran his fingertips idly along the soft lines that connected his ancestors, thinking about the friends he had not seen since the end of last year. Pansy was growing distant, as evidenced by the dearth of letters she had sent this summer. She normally resorted to pet names and charm, but their final conversations as fifth-years had concerned decidedly platonic topics, and once or twice he had seen her cuddling up to Blaise at mealtimes and after classes in the common room. He and Theodore Nott had not spoken since they argued about Dracoís failing concentration during Quidditch practice, and even Crabbe and Goyle appeared to be avoiding his glances.
Even Potter, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, still had the luxury of assistance.
His hands and cold, secretive gaze followed the lines to the bottom of the tree, where his name stood alone. There was space for a wife and children, but he could not see that far ahead.
Thatís me in the corner
Thatís me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I donít know if I can do it
Sanctimonia Vincet Semper. His arm burned still, reminding him of the only remaining truth.
He forced himself to turn back toward the stairs and his bed. He would be needing his strength.