Chapter 1 : I promise
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A deep shade of the color tinged the rims of Narcissa Malfoy’s electrifying blue eyes, the hue of it intensifying with every passing moment. The scene was a first for Draco as he took in his mother, her form crumpled as she lightly sobbed in the small hands of hers that held her face, her shoulders alone in movement as she cried. She sat in an exquisite chair, the decorative designs and fine lining showing off the wealth of the Malfoys. Her all-black gear hung limply onto her slender frame. The long, once-elegant robe she wore gave off a deadened vibe as it covered her from shoulder to toes. The flat, monotonous slippers she had on since exiting the bathroom had acquired tears and holes in them, noticeably having been uncared for for quite some time. And the cool, cashmere black cloth she had draped around her shoulders appeared ragged and rumpled.
It was clear Narcissa Malfoy was greatly distraught. A woman of poise and sophistication, Narcissa did all she could to look like the strong, independent woman she was, even when within her own home. And her current clear display of anything but her usual self shook Draco to the core.
His mother was in disarray and it was all because of one man, the man they all feared more than anything: the Dark Lord.
A few weeks ago, the Malfoys had been bestowed upon with the greatest of gifts - or as the Dark Lord had said. Draco was chosen to go on a mission, one of nobility and honor. He was assigned to kill his Headmaster at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledore. When having learned of the task given to their son, Narcissa and her husband, Lucius Malfoy, reached out to the Dark Lord, begging him to reconsider and pick another. It was Draco, their son. Their one and only child.
“Please, my Lord! I beg of you. Draco is but a boy. He is too young. He hasn’t even finished his schooling!” Narcissa cried out, her eyes frantic as she stared right at the man who was stealing her son.
“But don’t you see, Narcissa? Draco has potential, great potential! Do you not want him to make use of this from an early start? I do not see why you would want to stop your son from an advancement into a gratifying life of servitude. Are you not honored I chose your son?” the Dark Lord calmly questioned, a hollow smile spreading across his face as he peered right back at Narcissa.
“We are honored, my Lord! Greatly honored. Do not question our happiness in your choosing of our son. We could not be more pleased," Lucius spoke, his long, blond hair making its way down his backside, his eyes showing fatigue. Narcissa gave her husband a blank look, one he knew hid an expression of disgust at his words. Ignoring her, he went on, “My Lord, please, if you may. Give Draco another year. Another year to prepare, my Lord. This is an- an important task. I would not want Draco to be anything short of his best. Just another year, my Lord.”
The Dark Lord’s eyes became narrow slits as he took in the two pleading figures before him. “You, Lucius, made a grave error at the Ministry. You failed me and for that, I do not owe you any favors.” At this, Lucius looked down, no longer able to meet the Dark Lord’s eyes. “The two of you have been selfishly asking for a reconsideration when you have not even asked what Draco wants.”
Draco had quietly stood in the background, eying the exchange that went on between his parents and the Dark Lord wearily. He had known all along that their attempt was futile. But the small hope in him that had unexpectedly came about was dashed when the choice made was clear and irrevocable. At the mention of his name by the Dark Lord, Draco’s head shot up, fear instantly filling him as he looked at the man his life now belonged to.
“Draco, my boy. Surely you think your parents are being nonsensical, do you not? You are not as weak a they make you out to be.”
Draco knew not to take the Dark Lord’s compliment as such. Yet he could not help but let the words sink in a bit as he nodded. “They are underestimating me.”
“Yes, of course they are. You are much more capable than they believe. Is this not the greatest of opportunities that can be given to you?”
“It is, my Lord. I happily oblige to take on this honor.”
“As I thought you would,” the Dark Lord drawled, his petrifying eyes moving over from Draco to his parents, victory emitting from his features. “I have heard enough and so have you. Draco is eager to prove himself worthy to the Dark Lord and it is a chance I will give him. There is nothing you can do or say to change that.”
An audible, haunting whisper issued from Draco’s mother’s bedroom, breaking into his reminiscing.
Despite the softness of her voice, he shivered at the emptiness that was attached to it. His mother had always spoken to him in a fond tone; to hear his name uttered by her in anything but made Draco even more upset about his mother’s condition. Making his way around the door frame he had stood behind, Draco walked over to her, anxiety beginning to rise in him with every step as he wondered what she would say or do. It wasn’t that he feared her; rather, he feared how damaged the situation had made her. It pained him to see her like this, hurt and unwilling to recover from it. The toll of her son having to sacrifice himself made Draco ache inside.
“Yes, Mother?” Draco asked gently, easing his way into the chair beside her. He faced his mother, ignoring the harsh pink that still coated her blue eyes.
“I miss you, Draco,” his mother whispered, emotion beginning to fill her eyes and voice. She clasped both his hands in hers, dry marks of her tears tracing her pale, smooth face.
“I miss you too, Mum.” Draco did all he could to not choke as he held onto his mother. Weeks of mounting frustration and grief threatened to engulf him as he looked at the woman who mattered more than anything, even his own life.
“Draco, I want you to promise me something. Can you do that? Give Mother your word?”
“Of course. Of course I can. What is it? I’ll promise you anything.”
Narcissa Malfoy gave him a ghost smile, pride and love boldly present in her eyes as she took in the son she had become broken over. She patted his hands affectionately. “You were always so quick to do anything for me.” Narcissa paused, seriousness clouding her face as she looked at him. “Draco, listen to me and listen very closely. You’ll be off to Hogwarts soon, beginning another year along with the mission the Dark Lord gave you… Son, more than anything, I want you to not act alone.”
“Not act alone?” Draco repeated, his eyebrows furrowing as he frowned at her.
“To not act alone, that’s right. This is a dangerous mission, your life is at stake, and if there is ever a time you need help fulfilling it then do not hesitate in asking for the right help. Draco, your father and I are worried for you. We know you’re smart and gifted, but we also know how talented Dumbledore is. We don’t want to lose you.”
“Mum, I’m not -”
“You don’t know that! You don’t know if you will succeed or not. You don’t, Draco!” Narcissa exclaimed, causing Draco to wince. Seeming to regret her tone, she tried to cool down, taking calming breaths before continuing. “We have been around these things much longer than you have, Draco. We know better. We don’t want to risk losing you. It’s… something we can’t even bear to think of. Just please. Please promise to Mother that you will accept help when you need it. Promise you won’t act alone.”
“You know the Dark Lord wants me doing it on my own. I can’t take any assistance. Not if it will endanger you and Father. That is too costly of a move,” Draco grimaced at her. Here she sat, saying she and Father couldn’t bear to lose him, yet she expected him to do something that could very well cause him to lose them?
“It doesn’t matter. Your Father and I, we have lived. We have grown and experienced. You, Draco, are still young. It’s too soon for your time to end. So please son, please make me this promise. Please help Mother feel safer. Help me return to who I was, Draco. Promise me.” Her eyes glowed as she fervently pleaded with her son, intentionally drawing him to her current state. Draco couldn’t help but think back on the memory that had sprung in his mind earlier and how she had begged the Dark Lord just as she begged him now, hoping to get what she wanted.
Draco felt his heart beginning to break, his eyes staring at hers, the wetness that was spread throughout them earlier now gone. He looked down at their hands, the hold between them tight and solid. He could feel his pulse quickening, his palms starting to sweat as he drew his eyes level with his mother’s.
He took notice of the haunting pink reminder in her eyes once more before he lied, “I promise.”
Author's Note: No one seemed to notice this yet, but in case anyone did, I felt like explaining it in advance. Yes, this takes place during the summer before Draco's sixth year starts. I really wanted to show the Malfoy family's reaction to the Dark Lord's decision, so I brought Lucius instead of Bellatrix into the picture. Why? Because I needed Lucius' desire to protect his son to be shown just as well. I know, I know - Lucius is in Azkaban at the moment. But I decided to go out of canon there for a bit in order to show just how deeply Draco's parents cared for him. The Malfoy family were always very close and caring of one another; I just couldn't miss out on the chance to show it! That's all. :)