Enter The Realm of the Pendragon
I Am Draco - Part One: Father To Son
Fandom: Harry Potter
"Thank you for coming." I said politely and held out my hand.
"Not at all, young sir. Not at all." He took my hand, gave it a perfunctory shake and released it all in one smooth movement. I resisted the urge to wipe my hand on my trousers and indicated he should take a seat. Taking a deep breath, I walked round the desk and seated myself behind it. Although not the first time I had taken a seat on this side of the desk, I still felt uneasy: my usual position was standing in front of it while Father berated me for some misdemeanour or other. It had been my only reason for ever coming into his study.
Resting my arms on the desktop, I leant forward and met my visitor's gaze unflinchingly. How I hated the sight of this man. His bulbous eyes seemed able to take in far more than just outward appearances and he had a habit of constantly wetting his lips, his little pink tongue flicking over them as though he was gazing at a particularly tasty morsel. He fairly reeked of greed and corruption and I could never understand why Father had chosen him to take care of his personal deeds, papers and financial matters. Even at our first meeting, he had succeeded in making my skin crawl, no mean feat considering my background.
"Mr Brass, you are aware, of course, why you are here." I began, knowing full well my manner was brusque but I wanted the whole thing over and done with as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
"Absolutely!" he assured me and settled back into his seat. "Although I have to say that since we last spoke, events have proceeded as much as I predicted they would."
I narrowed my eyes. Extracting the information I sought from Mr Brass was not going to be easy. He delighted in flaunting his superior knowledge, showing quite clearly the contempt he had for me, knowing full well Father would never have stood for it. I, on the other hand, could do nothing about it but I was determined not to let him get the best of me.
"Very well," I said in as casual a tone as I could muster, relaxing back in my chair, "please continue."
Mr Brass gave me a slightly startled look and cleared his throat. "As I explained when we spoke shortly after your return from school, the Chancery Court has ruled to place all of Lucius's - I mean - your father's assets and property into a trust to be administered by myself and my associates, until such a time as he can be declared legally dead."
I considered this for a moment, wishing I had demanded to attend the hearing in person despite Mr Brass' insistence that it wasn't necessary. I had initially been satisfied with that, not wanting to spend more time than I really had to in his company. Of course, I wouldn't have understood a single thing anyway, ensuring he would have had to explain it all to me as he was doing now in the presumptuous and condescending manner he seemed to adopt when speaking to me. The less experience I had of that, the better, I felt.
Shaking my head to get my thoughts back on track, I held up my hands for a pause and clarification.
"Legally dead? You mean that because Father's body hasn't been found that he is considered, what? Missing?"
"Exactly," he replied swiftly, "Under the law your father is still alive until he can be declared dead by a doctor. Of course, under the circumstances, that is not possible and so we will have to wait until the seven year stipulated by the law passes to declare him dead. Until then, as I said, the Malfoy assets will be administered by myself and my firm. You need not worry, Master Malfoy, under the terms of the trust, you and your mother will be provided for by an allowance until the declaration of death can be made."
I refused to rise to his condescending use of the title Master. "Under the circumstances? You mean Father's death?" I was painfully aware that I was confused and therefore not presenting myself too well.
Mr Brass was quick to correct me. "The circumstances, Master Malfoy, would be the supposed death of your father."
Unintentionally copying a pose from Father, I steepled my fingers and rested my chin on them.
"Answer me this, Mr Brass," I said, my voice sounding cold and hard to even my own ears, "If Father is alive, where is he? Why hasn't he contacted his wife and only son? And the biggest question of all, how did he manage to survive when no other Death Eater came out alive?"
The solicitor narrowed his eyes at me, flustered for a while and took out an enormous handkerchief to mop at his sweaty balding head. "There is no proof that Lucius Malfoy is dead." he hissed.
I gave him a cool even gaze and said nothing, clearly unperturbed by the turn the conversation had taken although it was obvious he was not quite so comfortable. The silence in the room threatened to became oppressive but Mr Brass gathered his wits and fought back at me, armed with the law.
"Again, under the law, if there is no body, there is no death. Under such circumstances..." he stressed the word as though speaking to a child, "your father cannot be considered dead until seven years have elapsed. Only at that time, can his will be read and its terms carried out."
"Seven years," I said in disgust. "What actually happens till then?"
"The estate will be held in trust for you, and will be controlled by the Trustee," Mr Brass explained. "As I said before, there is provision for an allowance for yourself and your mother, and all of the family financial affairs will continue to be dealt with, you need not worry about lapsing into destitution quite yet. but until your father is officially dead, no one who is mentioned in your father's will can have ownership over his property. This ensures that any assets which are made provision for in his will are not sold or disposed of; the trust is to ensure that your father's property is kept intact until the will can be brought into effect, but also to ensure that you and your mother are provided for."
I sighed in irritation and looked away across the study, my mind thinking fast. Trust Father to turn around and do something like this. For God's sake, the man couldn't even die properly without leaving reams of paperwork behind for me to deal with. If I didn't know better, I could have sworn that he'd done it on purpose to test me and make sure I was worthy of inheriting before actually letting me get my hands on any of it. As for Mr Brass ... I rubbed my eyes tiredly. There was something strange there. He on his own was enough of a test for anyone, never mind the added complications of courts and trusts and wills.
A sudden thought occured to me and I voiced it slowly, still considering it even as I spoke. "If Father could be proven dead before the end of the seven years, then I won't have to endure this rigmarole and would simply inherit immediately."
Mr Brass simply looked at me before one of those smug smiles I had grown to loathe intently crept across his face. My heart seemed to plummet down into my boots, as though it instantly recognised I was going to be told something I wouldn't like one bit.
"Actually, that's not strictly true, Master Malfoy." he said and started to take out several papers bound with ribbon from various pockets in his robes. These he spread over the desk and perching a pair of pince-nez on his nose, started to peruse them, eventually picking up a sheet of parchment. Swiftly untying the ribbon and unravelling it, he spread it across the desk in front of me and indicating a particular paragraph with a stubby finger, invited me to read it.
As my son Draco attains the age of twenty-five (25) years, the trust created hereunder for such child care shall terminate, and all the remainder of the assets then contained in said trust shall be distributed to the aforementioned child so attaining the age of twenty-five (25) years outright and free of further trust.'
I read the paragraph twice, but the second time did not make any more sense than the first. I put the parchment down and glanced at Mr Brass who was looking sickeningly smug once again.
"Very well, explain it to me." I conceded in as dignified a manner as I could.
"The main gist of it, Master Malfoy, is that your father has decreed that you will not inherit any of his estate until you reach the age of 25. Again, the estate would have been held in trust for you, and controlled by the Trustee. When you turned 25, the estate would have passed over to you. Obviously, by the time your father can be declared dead and the will brought into effect, you will be 25 already and this trust will be unnecessary - unless your mother choses to contest the will, you should inherit immediately, once the death certificate has been issued."
Trying not to sound bitter, I said "So things pretty much carry on as they have been doing while I was at school, except you have taken over where Father left off." Mr Brass didn't respond to this and simply pulled the parchment away from my inquisitive fingers and swiftly began to roll it up.
I sighed and slumped back in my chair. I couldn't help but feel as though Mr Brass was quite right in his continued use of the derogatory term Master; it certainly appeared that even in the eyes of my Father, I was not considered to be an adult till I reached the age of 25. I was infused with a sudden flush of anger but good manners prevented me from releasing it then.
"Never in front of the staff." It was one of Father's favourite rules. I watched as Mr Brass return the papers and parchments to the pockets of his robes.
"So what am I supposed to do until such a time as I can inherit?" I asked softly.
Mr Brass stood up and looked at me squarely through his glasses, which made his eyes look even bigger than normal, if such a thing was possible. "Do, Master Malfoy? You don't have to do anything. Even without my assistance, the financial value of the estate is such that if you were to have a sudden desire to buy a new broom every day until you died, it would barely scratch the surface. but if you were so inclined, you could always get a job." He gave a curt nod which I returned automatically. "Good day to you, Master Malfoy."
He turned on his heel and rapidly left the room. I stared after him completely at a loss for something to say.
"A job?" I finally spat in disgust. I stood up rapidly, almost catapulting the chair into the bookshelves behind me. "No Malfoy would ever stoop so low." Granted Father had been employed by the Ministry, but it hardly counted as a job; his real employer was the Dark Lord after all.
The library had often been a place of sanctuary. Here I could lose myself in tales of long ago wizards, glory in their triumphs and feel their despair in their defeats. How I longed to have the same powers as they did.
"You are a Malfoy," Father would say to me, "your blood is pure and so is your power." It didn't really give me the answer I sought. Ever competitive, I wanted to know if I would be great. Did I have that in me?
"Every man has greatness in him," Mother replied when I put the question to her, "but it is what he does with it that determines whether or not he truly is great."
Somehow I couldn't help feel as though I was being fobbed off. I wasn't stupid, I knew that much. people took one look at me and saw a pretty blond head so automatically assumed I got by on my name alone. It couldn't be further from the truth; I could do the bare minimum amount of work and still manage to get high marks - though never as high as that mudblood Granger. After all, I had a life outside of studying.
It hadn't always been the case though. As a young child I spent a lot of time here and could always be found buried behind some large dusty tome. Father despaired that I would ever be able to live up to his expectations. I'm sure he envisioned me working at the Ministry, spending my future life cooped up in some untidy office, gleefully cross-referencing facts that nobody cared about apart from myself. That of course, could not be allowed to happen. It went against everything he had planned for me so he made sure that I had other interests and that I was dragged, kicking and screaming to them. Literally.
At least he had the sense to make one of them Quidditch. Mind you, Mother thought he had lost his mind when he announced that he was going to engage a flying instructor for me. Luckily, I had a natural aptitude for it and soon realised that it was much more fun to be outside actually creating havoc than just sitting inside reading about other people doing it.
And now look where I was. Father would be spinning in his grave. If we'd been able to bury him, that is.
I sighed, took up my old position curled up in the comfiest chair and snapped open today's edition of The Daily Prophet. With a small shudder of revulsion, I quickly flicked to the back pages and the classified section. Twiddling my quill between my fingers, I began looking through the Vacancies.
"I can't believe I'm doing this." I said to myself. "I'm a Malfoy, for crying out loud." I doodled my initials in the corner of the page. "I just can't let that Mr Brass think he can control my life with his smarmy little smile and his sweaty hands ugh!" I pressed down rather hard and the resulting snap brought to my attention the fact that I had managed to break the nib of the quill. In a childish fit of pique, I threw both quill and newspaper across the room. The quill disappeared into a dark corner but the newspaper separated out and the pages fluttered gracefully to the floor.
Setting my jaw, I simply folded my arms across my chest and sighed. "It's no wonder he refuses to call you Mister, the way you're acting now, Draco." I admonished myself, "if I were him, I wouldn't call you Mister either." The complexities of what I would call myself were enough to tangle my brain into a knot very quickly. I leant my head back against the chair, staring up at the rows of books that reached all the way to the darkness of the high vaulted ceiling. I realised that it was getting late and the already dim light in the room was receding quickly so without a second thought cast a spell to light the lamps.
Hauling myself out of the chair which creaked in relief, I wandered over to the nearest bookshelf and ran my fingers over the jewel coloured leather spines with their embossed gold lettering.
Over in one corner of the vast library was a small door which led to Father's legendary collection of Dark Arts writings. He had books that people weren't even aware had been printed and for various others he owned the only copies in existence. These were kept under a range of wards and protective spells, which I had never attempted to open, knowing that they had been specially configured to recognise Father and only Father. Now he was no longer here and I had taken his place as the man of the house; surely it was my birthright to be able to access them.
Squaring my shoulders and holding my head high, I marched over to the door and took a deep breath. Reaching out, I grasped the doorknob, noting its chilly smoothness against the warmth of my palm, and gave it a quick turn. With a sharp click, it opened easily and smoothly swung open. peering inside, I could see nothing in the gloom but as soon as I set a cautious foot over the threshold the candles in the wall sconces automatically flickered into light revealing its secrets to me. I suddenly realised I was holding my breath and let it out in a rush as I stood in the middle of the room.
For as long as I had known this room existed, I had imagined what it contained. In my mind, it had become the dwelling of unspeakable horrors safely locked away from prying eyes and fingers. The room itself was to be dank and dusty, full of cobwebs and lit only by a single lantern whilst the entrance would most certainly be secured by a solid oak door which squealed as it was moved. Opening it would involve incantations and possible bloodletting. The books themselves I pictured as old and worn through use and time: dull muted leather bindings where the gilt lettering had faded away, cracked spines and loose dog-eared pages with grease-spots from tallow and oils from fingers staining the parchment.
Having had some degree of acquaintance with the Dark Arts, though not quite as extensively as my fellow students presumed, I saw the books similar to those I knew in the restricted section of the Hogwarts library. books that screamed at you when you opened them without permission, books that read themselves to you, books that only revealed their contents when charms were spoken over them, even books that attacked you and had to be held down with rope.
The reality couldn't have been more different. The room was long and narrow with the doorway at the very end. The wall opposite me contained several windows through which daylight filtered faintly. I belatedly realised how odd this was, considering that wall was in the very centre of the Manor and to my knowledge not an exterior one. Each wall held bookshelves similar to those in the Library except these had mullioned glass doors; the open walls were panelled three quarters of the way up in rich mahogany and ornate carvings decorated the tops. As I stared at the embellishments, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye but whenever I looked directly at it, the motion stopped and the carvings were static wood once more.
There was no dust, no cobwebs and no squeaky door. Somehow I couldn't help but feel cheated. I doubted Father would trust anyone else entering even for cleaning purposes, but neither could I quite picture him rolling up his sleeves and cleaning it himself. I heard his voice in my head telling me, 'Just because they are called the Dark Arts, doesn't mean that one has to get filthy in the pursuit of them'.
Stepping further into the room, I walked over to the nearest bookcase causing the candles closest to flare and provide more light. both doors were banded with a thin line of silver round the edge and in the centre where they met, the lock took the figure of a coiled snake in silver. As I moved closer to study it better, it reared its tiny head making the light dance over the scaled surface. I took an involuntary step back and instantly scolded myself for doing so.
"All I need now, is the key." I muttered and slid my wand out of my pocket. I was sure that Father would have intended to pass onto me knowledge of the room and how to obtain access to the literature within at some point but without it, I would have to see if I could work out the puzzle for myself.
Aiming my wand at the snake, I quickly cast Alohomora, but the little silver figure simply yawned at me. Granted it was the easiest and most obvious spell and I hadn't really imagined it would be so simple. Searching my mind, I dredged up every unlocking charm I could think of and tried them all with no luck.
"Why do I get the feeling that the charm I need is hidden in one of the very books I'm trying to get at?" I muttered. I glared at the snake and I swear the damned thing winked at me though it might just have been a trick of the light. Without thinking, I reached out a finger and touched it gently on the top of its shiny metallic head. I expected it to rear up and either bare its fangs at me or sink them into my finger but instead it did the opposite. Subdued, it bowed its head to me as if waiting for some command. I bit my lip. Now what?
My brain went blank. Quickly casting my eyes about me for inspiration, I caught sight of the family coat of arms emblazoned in the coving above me. Without thinking I quoted our motto out loud - Quando anguis e vita emigrat, venenum suum vestitat infragilis - and then a small movement in front of me made me draw in a breath. The tiny snake was writhing over and about itself, coils sparkling in the candlelight until it took its tail in its mouth, forming a complete circle over the join of the bookcase doors.
The dancing pinpoints of light on the snake's metallic skin attracted me and I couldn't help running my finger over its diminutive form. Somewhere in the back of my mind, something was trying to surface. A name. The name of this circle. Round and round in a continuing loop, getting faster and faster, my finger traced the line of the silver snake. I followed the movement of my finger with my eyes, almost hypnotising myself until, like a figure approaching through swirling mist, the name I was searching for revealed itself to me.
"Ouroborous," I whispered and the doors swung open.
If Mr Brass had really wanted evidence that Father was dead, then surely this was it. A small shiver ran down my spine as I turned in a circle, watching all the bookcases silently release their contents to me in acknowledgement that I was now the lord of the Manor.
How did I feel about this revelation? Could I finally begin to grieve over my lost parent now all doubt had been removed? All my life I knew that one day this moment would come and I had been fully prepared for it; particularly so in the last few years. As for mourning, it was difficult to cry over the loss of someone who had never really been there anyway. besides, I had to be strong now, for Mother's sake.
I moved along the bookcases, glancing briefly at some of the treasures they held. As I'd imagined, many of the books were old and tattered; their leather spines cracked and broken, with the gilt lettering faded and worn away. These books had been well used, if not by Father, then by previous owners. Here and there, a title or author caught my eye: Great Wizards of the Twentieth Century nestled against Fifteenth Century Fiends, while King John's Daemonologie held court with Trimble's The Dark Forces: A Guide To Self Protection. I could barely believe the wealth of information held here. The Ministry would have a field day.
A sudden gurgling in my stomach reminded me that it had been some time since I last ate and a quick glance at my watch confirmed that dinner would soon be served. I was loath to leave the room now I had discovered its secret although I knew I had all the time in the world to explore. With a faint sigh of regret that I had to go so soon, I turned and made my way to the door. behind me, the candles dimmed and the light receded so how I actually made my find, I will never know. Something caught my eye as I passed; it could have been a flicker of flame reflecting off the surface or perhaps a pricking of my thumbs which indicated I was close to an item of particular charm.
Taking a step back and making the lights flare up again, I thoughtfully studied the shelves in front of me. I could see nothing out of the ordinary, just a wealth of information contained within parchment and ink. Biting my lip, I swept my eyes over the spines again and was just about to turn away when something belatedly struck out at me.
Kneeling down with complete disregard for what such treatment would do to my trousers, I stared wide-eyed at the fourth book from the left on the second shelf from the bottom. Instantly my skin began to prickle as goose bumps ran up and down my arms. If I hadnt known better, I would have sworn that the temperature in the room dropped just then. It was such an innocent looking object though undoubtedly antique. battered brown leather bindings so badly worn I feared the whole thing would just fall to pieces the second it left the protective support provided by its neighbours.
Reaching out a trembling hand, I tentatively touched the spine and snatched my hand back as though expecting to be burnt though mere contact. Realising I was holding my breath, I let it out in one long sigh and gently removed the book from its sanctuary, curious to see it though simultaneously loathe to disturb it. I could barely believe that I was actually holding in my own bare hands, one of the most infamous and controversial books, surpassed in public notoriety only by The bible of all things. One of the most blood-soaked works in human history, in that its very existence led to the prosecution, torture and murder of tens of thousands of innocent people. The effects of this Hammer were even felt across in the United States, such was its power. I swallowed hard and rising to my knees, took my find to peruse in great detail in a more comfortable setting.
'As my son Draco attains the age of twenty-five (25) years, the trust created hereunder for such child care shall terminate, and all the remainder of the assets then contained in said trust shall be distributed to the aforementioned child so attaining the age of twenty-five (25) years outright and free of further trust.' - Elvis presley's will, available here: www.ca-probate.com/wills.htm
"...perhaps a pricking of my thumbs which indicated I was close to an item of particular charm." - Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 4, ShakespeareChapter Three.
Unless otherwise specified.