Enter The Realm of the Pendragon
I Am Draco - Part One: Father To Son
Fandom: Harry Potter
The house was dark. I was standing over by the window in my room, looking out into the night-coloured grounds of the Manor. The sky was clear, the moon hanging low in the sky like a oversized shining sickle, painting edges with a luminescent glow. The light had a strange viscous quality to it, making objects appear closer than they really were so that I had to squint and focus hard on them. I could pick out various aspects due to their familiarity: the gravel path down to the lake looking like a silvery scar running through the grey black grass; the group of elder trees where I would spend most summers hiding from the sun lest it burn my pale skin over in the distance, the thick stone wall which marked the boundary of the estate.
All was silent, not even a whisper of a breeze could be heard from outside although I could see the dry empty branches of the trees stretching up to the sky, twisting and turning like the fingers of lost souls clawing desperately towards the heavens. Turning from the window, I glanced quickly round my moonlit room with no idea as to what it was I was looking for, though it felt as if I was waiting for something. The heavy oak door stood ajar and I could see light around the edge, beckoning me out into the hallway.
Even out here there was no indication of any sound; the ghosts and paintings, all usual providers of a low background noise, seemed to be otherwise occupied tonight. Frowning, I turned my attention to the stairs, the head of which I was now standing at, running my hand over the shiny wooden newel post at the end of the banister.
For some reason that I couldn't put my finger on, I felt compelled to go to Father's study and as quick as thought, I was standing outside the door. There was a strange weight in my stomach, almost as though I was there for a scolding, yet I knew my conscience was clear. pushing open the door with my fingertips, I peered in, eyes searching the room for any sign of life even though I knew it was an illogical thing to do; Father was gone and Mother was asleep in bed.
The small desklamp was lit, its flame dancing and throwing my shadow into relief onto all walls, twice as large as life. Stepping noiselessly into the room, I wondered why I had felt so obligated to go there as it was quite clearly empty and I hadn't really expected it to be otherwise.
The light flickered, seeming to grow larger yet the room didn't become any brighter and shadows still prowled round the edges. Turning slowly on the spot, I came round full circle and stood facing the desk. Father's large chair stood opposite me, looking welcoming and comfortable, and making me aware of how tired I was. With a quick glance over my shoulder at the door to make sure that there was no one coming in, I moved towards the chair only to be suddenly halted.
Father sat in the chair, side on to me, with his fingers steepled under his chin in a gesture I knew so well. He was talking eagerly but no matter how hard I listened, I couldn't seem to take in what he was saying; instead I found myself captivated by simple things, such as the way his hair glowed in the firelight, each strand appearing as though individually polished; the way he ran his tongue along his full lips to moisten them; the outline of his profile with the family's distinctive strong jawline and nose, and the graceful movements of those long elegant hands with perfectly manicured nails. He seemed to be everything I remembered and more, the specimen of perfect Malfoy manhood I should endeavour to become.
The room retreated, leaving a circle of light edged by shadows, containing Father seated behind his vast mahogany desk and myself standing in front, feeling like a condemned man before the judge. Looking up at Father, the power radiating from him as usual, I became conscious of my slight stature and the way he towered over me, even seated. Never a tall child, the height difference had always made me feel inferior and right now, particularly vulnerable.
Swallowing hard, I cast my eyes downwards and studied my bare feet, rubbing one over the other in a long forgotten manner. My fingers twisted the hem of my pyjama top, worrying at the stitching in an indication of my nerves. I was aware that they were my favourite pyjamas, the green and white ones which I recalled growing out of several years before but the thought shimmered and died like ripples on a pond.
I realised that Father had spoken to me, asking me a question, and I blinked rapidly, trying to recall what it was.
"Draco," he stated firmly, the implied menace resounded in both syllables in that way only bettered by Mother.
"Yes, Father?" I whispered in return, grasping my pyjama top more firmly.
"I asked you a question."
"I - I - I - " Eyes furiously darting from side to side, I tried frantically to think of a response which would appease him and hopefully result in a repeat of the question without getting me further into trouble.
"Look at me."
"Look at me!" he commanded and I peered up at him through my hair which had fallen over my eyes when I'd lowered my head.
Slowly he swivelled round in the chair, coming to face me full on. The lamp was situated at his right hand, so that the left side of his face and body was cast into shadows until the light flickered over it and the darkness fell away. I stared in amazement, unable to tear my gaze from him.
His face was speckled with dark patches which I initially presumed to be the effects of the flickering candlelight, until I fathomed it was where the flesh had started to rot away. The shimmering movement I could see there was due to tiny little maggots feasting on my deceased yet animated parent.
He rested his elbows on the desktop and I realised that the decay was not limited just to his face. The long slender fingers of his left hand were reduced to glistening white bone, the skin hanging from them in ragged tatters.
I managed to summon up the willpower to move and took a step back, shaking my head in denial.
"No ..." I whispered. This couldn't be real. My mind couldn't decide whether to turn away in horror from the abomination it was confronted with or to celebrate his apparent return from the grave.
"Draco," Father said clearly though his lips appeared to be dissolving into a gluey mass. "Hear the words that I say."
"Father?" I felt nauseated, unable to believe what my own eyes were showing me.
"Sing if you will, but the air you breathe I live to give you. Listen to the voices in your head."
He smiled at me, the teeth starting to be visible through the thin skin covering his cheeks and jaw, a veritable death's head grin as befitted a walking corpse.
He reached out to me with both hands, the right one now echoing the signs of deterioration as though contaminated by its mate. Against my will, I took a slight step forward. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I screamed at myself to stop, to turn around and just run, but I seemed to have no control over my own body.
"My son," Father said proudly as he fastened his hands round my neck and squeezed.
I screamed as best I could, though the bony fingers were clutching tightly, intent on cutting off my air supply. I was loath to reach up and touch them, to rip them away from my throat. All I could see was Father's maniacal grin and I wanted to close my eyes against the gruesome sight of his ravaged face, as if doing so would just make it all go away.
I felt a drop of sweat run the length of my spine, like a gentle finger tickling me there and shuddered. My face was turning red, my chest heaving and burning, and I knew I couldn't hold out much longer. Though the very idea made me sick to my stomach, I reached up with my hands towards my throat and grabbed at empty air.
My eyes snapped open, my hands fisted in the sheets tangled round my chest as my mind struggled to comprehend. My heart was hammering against my ribs and I was gasping for breath. I struggled to sit up and pushed my hair out of my eyes, feeling it wet and lank against my fingers, realising that my whole body was covered with a sheer film of sweat. Reaching under the pillow for my wand, I whispered "Lumos" and took a grateful deep breath as the gentle light illuminated the room.
Blinking furiously and trying to slow my breathing and heart rate back to something approaching normal, I wiped at my forehead with the back of my hand. Sliding out of bed, I padded across the floor to the bathroom where I quickly splashed my face with water. I looked at my reflection in the mirror, seeing my face paler than usual looking back at me. Running my fingers gently over my neck, I examined it closely, expecting to see bruises there but it was as smooth and unblemished as always. I could still feel the ghost of that tight grip, making me shiver and turning my stomach. It had been a long time since I had been assailed by night terrors and the idea of being so scared by something conjured up by my own mind was embarrassing.
"It was just a dream," I chided myself, "You're too old to be frightened by that sort of thing now."
I climbed back into bed, puffing up the pillows and covering myself with the sheet again. Wiggling into a comfortable position, I let my eyes roam round the room, checking for anything out of the ordinary but refusing to admit that was what I was doing. Nodding in satisfaction that all was normal, I whispered "Nox", returned my wand to its place and closing my eyes, prepared to sleep. Within seconds, my mind was reliving the horror it had just experienced and my eyes flew open to stare at the dark surrounding me.
Feeling unnerved and more than a little foolish, I quickly cast Lumos again.
"Just for a few minutes," I resolved, "Until I'm sleepy." It was the kind of bargain I used to make when I was a child in this situation, knowing that I would wake in the morning with my wand still lit. Small consolation, but it was all I had. Although determined that I was past such childish comforts now, I grasped my wand tightly, the wood warm and smooth under my fingers. I turned my mind to more delightful matters such as flying and Quidditch, which always soothed me, and forced myself to dream about a World Cup saved by a mysterious young blond man picked out of the crowd. Yet despite my best endeavours, I was aware that Father hovered on the sidelines of my mind.
I slept late the next morning and spent a further hour or so just dozing, feeling reluctant to actually leave my bed. As a result, I ended up feeling sluggish with a head that was so stuffed with cotton wool, it was on the verge of bursting. Even my usual shower failed to rouse me. The mirror reflected back a drawn face with dark circles under each eye which made me despair. As I dressed, I had a distinct feeling of unease which I was loath to attribute to the remnants of my nightmare that still clung to the corners of my mind.
It was more brunch than breakfast time, but I was nauseated by the thought of food so just sipped at a glass of juice instead. My broken night had done nothing for my temper and I snapped in irritation at the house elves, making them scuttle about in fear. Strangely, this didn't make me feel the slightest bit better. Drumming my fingers on the table top impatiently, I wracked my brain for something to do but nothing appealed. Finally I left the dining room and took to prowling round the Manor instead until I found myself staring at the grounds through the mullioned windows of the drawing room.
I couldn't help but notice how the weather seemed to echo my mood: the sky was covered with a thick blanket of clouds in varying shades of grey, starting in the far east with dove grey darkening through to slate and charcoal as they came more overhead. The clouds hung so low that they seemed to be resting on the very tops of the trees. The light had an odd yellow quality to it that made everything appear sharper; edges more clearly defined, colours brighter in a strange contrast to the darkness of the sky. The air practically crackled with electricity making my already tender head ache accordingly.
It was clear that a storm was on the way but I just couldn't stand to be cooped up inside any longer. A walk round the grounds seemed like the perfect remedy for my restlessness. Grabbing my cloak, I practically ran out of Manor and into the gardens at the back of the house. As soon as I stepped out into the fresh air, I felt strangely exhilarated though the sky seemed to be close enough to touch and threatening to collapse on me any second.
Taking a deep breath of cool sweet air, I set off strolling over the springy grass and soon came across the kennels and owlery which sat far enough back from the main building so as not to disturb but close enough for quick access should it be needed. Though we had handlers to look after all the animals, I took it upon myself to check on them; as lord of the Manor now, I had to ensure that all aspects of the estate were to my satisfaction.
The birds were fine, gazing at me solemnly with their large unblinking golden eyes as though astounded at my audacity to disturb their slumber. My eagle owl, Malachi, flew to me in the hope of treats and chastised me loudly on finding I had none. Father had always maintained that a spoilt animal was an impudent animal and treated them the same as everyone else on the estate. It was not the only thing we disagreed on.
The crups were not so happy; the oppressive nature of the coming storm unnerved them, making them whine and prowl in their kennels, much the same way I had done in the Manor earlier. One young pup seemed particularly affected and tried to bury itself in the folds of my cloak, huddling close to me to gain comfort from my presence. When I made to leave, the little thing whined pathetically and chased after me with its little forked tail wagging hopefully.
So the pup and I meandered from the kennels through the gardens with no particular destination in mind. The crup was feeling slightly braver now and was happy to run a little way ahead before turning to make sure I was still following. I was paying no attention to where my feet were taking me; my mind was occupied with the occasional flashbacks from the vision in the night and a strange sensation that I was heading towards something, something I couldn't avoid. It was a feeling not unlike falling.
A gentle breeze wafted over my face, trailing with it a familiar scent. For a second, I couldn't place it until I realised it was the perfume from Mother's beloved rose garden. She loved to tend it, tying back a stray branch here, pruning a bush there, all with a mere wave of her wand. With a smile, I remembered one occasion where the roses dared to reveal themselves as a pure simple white rather than the blood red blooms she had expected and she painstakingly ensured that every single one was transformed to the required shade.
The gravel path crunched under my feet as I strolled round the neglected garden. Roses drooped in an untidy manner as though the branches couldn't bear the weight of the flowers. Scattered petals littered the earth like confetti. Here and there, spiders had taken advantage to decorate the bushes with webs, bridging the gap between them and giving the area a forlorn air. I wondered how long it had been since Mother had been here, since she'd been anywhere. Looking back at the Manor, I sought out the windows of her suite and my heart sank as I noticed the curtains were still drawn.
The crup began to get bored of just standing around and decided to chase after the edges of my cloak which danced on the slowly increasing breeze. Watching it brought another image to mind: that of the curtains in Mother's room billowing out as pieces of parchment fluttered to the carpet like autumn leaves. I glanced up at Mother's window once more, sighed in exasperation and began to walk. The crup chased after me, yelping in enjoyment and worrying at the heels of my boots. I strode on at a pace as though trying to outrun the thoughts I had been denying; they had been withheld for too long and sensing a weakening in my resolve, one by one started to creep slowly into my mind.
"What on Earth is going on?" The words burst from me, fracturing the eerie silence. "What does it all mean?" The pup looked up at me questioningly as it ran along by my side. I glanced down at it, and spat the name with a sneer, "Potter." I shook my head in general distaste and puzzlement, then frowned and stood still for a second, head cocked slightly to one side as I thought. "Why is Mother writing about Potter?" It didn't make any sense to me and with a sigh, I began to walk again.
Before long, another thought worked its way through. "Where's she getting her information from though?" My feet led me along an unseen path and I just followed unquestioningly, feeling the steadily growing wind whip my cloak round my legs and blowing my hair into my eyes. Brushing it away with an impatient gesture, I tried to recall a particular passage I had read. "It was about a duel, the duel I had with Potter." I grinned down at the crup, treating it like a cross between a confidant and a sounding board. "One of several duels actually but this was the last one, just several weeks before -" I trailed off and took a deep breath. Just before my world began to unravel, I thought to myself.
I walked along in silence for a moment, going over the events of the last few weeks when the world seemed to spin and no one was really sure which way it was going to settle back down again. If it was going to settle back down again. Even at home, things were all topsy turvy; ordinarily the first few days of my return from Hogwarts would have warranted something that I could only describe as a grilling from Mother as to all the events of the school year. I loved the fact that she showed so much interest in what I did, such a change from Father who had started to spend more and more time cooped up in his study that I doubted he would have noticed if I'd not returned at all.
I suddenly stopped dead in my tracks, making the pup bash its nose in the back of my boots and whimper in anguish. "It was me," I whispered, "I was the source." I slapped my hand against my forehead and slowly dragged it over my face as realisation hit. "I can't believe it, I gave Mother all the information she needed. And there I was, all the time, thinking she was interested in me. How could I have been so blind?" I let my arm drop back down to my side and my shoulders sagged. The one person I thought I could actually rely on appeared to have been using me just like all the rest. I swallowed hard and set my jaw before emotion could cloud my thinking.
I felt lost. I slowly turned round in a circle, casting my eyes about me for help and inspiration and found none. I shivered for no particular reason and drew my cloak tighter around me. "Someone walking over my grave," I muttered to myself. An image from the nightmare forced its way into my mind at those words and I wished the thing would stop plaguing me so. Once again my skin crawled at the image of my partially decayed father, seated comfortably behind his desk in the study. Softly I heard his words repeated as though he was whispering them into my ear, "Listen to the voices in your head..." and I capitulated.
My mind span with the energy of a multitude of unanswered questions. I was vaguely aware of the sky darkening above me, the crup whimpering and clinging to my heel once more, my cloak whipping about my legs like a live thing. Running my eyes over the grey stone building before me, I knew I would never find the answers I sought out here.
"Hear the words that I say" - Father To Son, lyrics by Brian May
"Sing if you will, but the air you breathe I live to give you" - Father To Son, lyrics by Brian MayChapter Five.
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