Enter The Realm of the Pendragon
I Am Draco - Part One: Father To Son
Fandom: Harry Potter
A rumble of thunder sounded faintly as the storm began to work itself up for the grand finale. Heavy black clouds now covered the sky, totally obliterating any trace of the sun. The nice gentle breeze had whipped itself up into a frenzy, making the trees lash out in a maniacal dance. The rain and lightning would not be far off and then the fun would begin. It was the sort of weather that made you glad to be indoors; people who hated storms would be cowering under the bedclothes just waiting for it all to be over, while those who enjoyed them would be staring out of the window, enjoying the cosmic lightshow. Storms never bothered me and I couldn't understand those who were afraid of them; after all, a little noise and rain never hurt anyone.
I had other things on my mind though. I had automatically headed for the library, my usual response to any request for knowledge. The combination of the leaden sky and the high narrow windows meant that the room was full of shadows so I quickly lit the candles. As an afterthought, I also got a fire crackling merrily in the hearth; although summer was well into its stride, outsiders might still have found the Manor a little chilly. However, I was used to it so the fire was more to ward off the silence that hung heavy in the room. The noise of the storm barely pervaded through the thick walls to disturb me.
Unfastening my cloak with fingers that trembled from adrenaline, I casually slung it over the back of a chair before rubbing my hands together in an attempt to calm them. I had forgotten about the crup in my haste but the animal had swiftly followed me into the library and was now settling down in front of the fire making noises of contentment. I was momentarily thrown by the sight of it there and considered taking it out to the kennels where it belonged but my quest for answers had taken possession of me and I couldn't hold it back any longer.
Pushing the thought of the animal out of my head, I tried to stop my mind from spinning as it was bombarded with a barrage of questions. Where on earth did I start? All I knew so far was that I was providing Mother with information which she appeared to be keeping a written record of. The first question that sprang to mind of course, was 'Why?', closely followed by 'Who on Earth for?' Sinking into my usual comfy armchair, I gazed up at the ceiling for a second before running my eyes over the rows of books. I let my mind go blank, letting it process the information at its own pace. The recollection of the duel Mother had recorded in her precise handwriting came back to me and I found myself smiling as I remembered the actual event.
"Father would have been proud of me." I said to myself, though the crup turned to look at me upon hearing my voice. "Of course, Father was still alive then and I imagined how differently he would regard me when the news reached him. Mother too; she would be so pleased once I told her." I sighed at the thought of pleasures denied me until I realised what I had just said. "I never told her," I whispered, "I came home from school and she didn't ask, she didn't enquire as to what had happened this year. So how could she know?"
I rubbed at my forehead. Only a few days ago I was trying to figure out the possibility of Father knowing about his own death and now this! It seemed there was so much I didn't know about my own parents. My solution then had been that Father was a Seer; could that then resolve this riddle too? Perhaps he told Mother what he saw and she recorded it. I felt it was a plausible explanation. Getting up from the chair, I paced up and down the library as was my wont, shoving my hands in my pockets as I did so. My fingers touched upon something in the left hand pocket and drawing it out, I recognised the parchment I'd found in the spine of the Malleus Maleficarum the day before. I must have put it there when I returned Mother's writing to her room and forgotten about it.
I smoothed the note out and read it again: 'The Lynx will reveal all' and there at the bottom, the date which had made me so uneasy in the first place. I hung my head. The feeling of following a predetermined path returned and my anger flared. Father knew what I would do, where I would look and what my questions were so he'd responded accordingly and left information for me to find. The very idea of actually doing what he'd laid out was anathema to me but it seemed I had no choice. If I wanted answers, I had to follow where he led like the dutiful son I was.
"The Lynx will reveal all," I repeated and with resignation, began to put my footprints in those of Father's. If I recalled correctly, a Lynx was some kind of catlike creature but I couldn't see how it could tell me anything. The only animals on the estate were the owls and crups, not a cat in sight. I stood up and turned to run my gaze over the hundreds of books which surrounded me. One of them was bound to contain something to help me in my quest.
When I thought about it later, I realised I had reverted back to doing the one thing Father had always hated me doing: losing myself in research. Funny to think that it was practically at his request. The idea amused me all the more knowing how much it would have displeased him. I could imagine him struggling to come up with a different way for me to find the information, but short of actually writing it all down for me, there was no alternative. Father would never dream of giving me the answers I sought - he would prefer me to work for them. I ordered refreshments to be brought to me and began the unenviable task of working my way methodically round the room.
It was some time later, buried in a book entitled 101 Sinister Spells for Sardonic Sorcerers, that I moved slightly and was awakened to the fact that not only had I got sidetracked but I'd spent far too long sitting hunched over and my back was aching. Making a mental note to try out the Skriking spell I was reading as soon as I could, I pushed the book back on the shelf and gingerly clambered to my feet. Raising my arms above my head, I leant as far back as was comfortable to stretch out my cramped muscles and in doing so, noticed the silver tray sitting untouched on a nearby end table. I poured a glass of juice and munched on a pop biscuit which made the crup rush over to me in the hope of being fed. Breaking a biscuit into pieces and making the animal beg for each one, I found my spirits had risen remarkably in the last couple of hours, although I was still no closer to finding any answers. At one time, I would have been content to bury myself in books but having to do so against my will didn't give me quite the same level of enjoyment. Besides, I was too impatient to discover the solutions to find any pleasure in the task as I would have done previously.
I sat on the floor, leaning against a row of hefty tomes and the crup came to curl up at my side, licking my fingers for any remaining biscuit crumbs. Finding none, it rested its head on my knee, tail wagging in contentment and thumping on the books behind as I scratched behind its ears. There was a quiet thud as one thick volume was pushed to the back of the shelf and the neighbouring ones collapsed without its support. Stretching over the animal, I tried to retrieve the fallen book but only succeeding in knocking more over. Pushing the pup out of the way, I hauled myself to my knees and sorted out the situation. Holding the books back with one arm, I replaced the others one by one, giving each a quick appraisal as I did so. The last was entitled Muggle Animals and Other Strange Creatures and sitting back on my heels, I quickly flicked to the Contents page. Running my finger down the list of entries, I found Cats, Large and Small and In Between.
"This sounds promising." I informed the crup who pushed its head under my arm to try and see what I was looking at. Rapidly turning to the indicated page, I skimread until I came across something which made me stop. "Aha, now listen to this!" I told the creature animatedly, and sitting crosslegged, read aloud: "Another of these is the lynx. A stout bodied animal with thick soft fur and a short, stubby tail, this cat is characterised by disproportionately long legs and large heavy paws as well as having a tuft of hair at the tip of each ear. Lynx are particularly agile climbers and in good weather will spend a great deal of their time on the limbs of trees, waiting for their prey to pass underneath. In bad weather, they take shelter in caves or in hollow trees and logs. In the wizarding world however, the Lynx is the knower of secrets, symbolising silence, clairvoyance of the secrets of others, vigilance and non-judgmental counsel. They can help with psychic skills, particularly those of divination."
I shut the book with a satisfied snap and smiled delightedly at the crup who was sat on its haunches grinning at me. "It adds up, you see. The Lynx helps with divination, so that's how it reveals all and that's what the note was referring to." I returned the book to the shelf, still thoughtful. "So it looks like I was right - Father was a Seer. Now all I have to do is work out how this Lynx is going to answer my questions."
Obviously it wasn't going to be a real creature. Presumably I was searching for a picture of one or something representing it. My first thought was that it would be somewhere in the Manor in a place that was linked to Father. That narrowed my search down to three rooms: the Dark Arts room, his study and his private chambers. Being in the library already, I started with the Dark Arts room. As soon as I entered, I remembered the frieze that ran along the top of the bookcases surrounding the room. Standing in the very centre of the room with the candles shedding as much light as possible, I turned slowly full circle to best study the wooden figures. Displayed in carved scenes were important episodes from the history of the Malfoy family: from the first Malfoy who literally stabbed his sibling in the back to ensure he alone would inherit the estate, to my great-great-grandmother who thought that bathing in the blood of young maidens would help to retain her youthful looks, and practically emptied the nearby villages of peasant girls. I idly wondered if either Father or myself would ever be glorified in such a manner. Somehow I doubted it, especially as I was currently the end of the line.
It was difficult to study the dark images very closely. Not only was I too far away to see any particular detail, the figures had the added distraction of moving whenever I took my gaze off them. Finally, with eyes aching from the strain, I decided I was not going to find what I sought up there. The only creatures I had spotted were owls, crups and the occasional serpent. I turned my attention to the rest of the room but found nothing else. The bookcases were solid wood, decorated with only ornate silver locks which sparkled in the candlelight. There was no other decoration in the room, not even a portrait of Father, so I had to admit I was looking in the wrong place.
I hesitated outside Father's study, my sense of unease from earlier on returning. The crup had followed me here and it sat at my heel, waiting patiently for me to open the door. Pushing open the door with my fingertips, I peered into the room with an eerie sense of deja vu. The room was dark so I quickly ensured as much light as possible gave no shadows for any unwanted guests to hide in. I was inwardly disgusted with my behaviour but with no one to notice or rebuke me for it, I didn't care that what I was doing would be consider improper for a Malfoy. The crup ran around, exploring every nook and cranny with no fear or worries at all before settling down in front of the fire as before and I took some small comfort from the animal's presence.
Father's study was like a smaller version of the library but with more files and fewer books. From here, he ran the entire estate, Mother, myself as well as keeping busy with such work as required by either the Ministry or the Dark Lord. It was a room I associated with punishments and disappointments, a place that was the very essence of Father. Like the Dark Arts room, the study contained barely any decoration. The only colour came from the heavy emerald velvet curtains at the large window in the right hand wall. A simple painting of the Manor hung on the opposite wall over the wooden mantelpiece. I had a quick glance at the cabinets and shelves but they bore no embellishments of any nature. The only other furniture in the room was Father's desk.
Placed in the very centre of the back wall with the door opposite, it was the first thing you saw upon entering. An imposing piece of furniture indeed, it was dark mahogany with classic styling and beautiful in its simplicity. Many was the time I had stood before this desk, with Father seated imperiously behind it, dominating both the room and myself with ease. The surface was tidy, sporting merely quill and inkpot, paperweight and desk calendar as well as the Malleus Maleficarum I had left there from the day before. Father was a meticulous and organised man; everything had a place and that was where it belonged, whether paperwork, staff or family.
I gingerly seated myself behind the desk, feeling wary that Father might enter any minute, even though it was only a few days ago that I had been ensconced here with Mr Brass. How long ago that seemed, so much had happened since then that it felt like another lifetime. I knew that in order to take over as the head of the family I would have to spend a great deal of time in here, so I had tried to get accustomed to it but now it seemed that Father was adamant I would never be comfortable in here. I admired the front of the desk, the elaborate carving and intricate turning, but it was immediately apparent that the pattern was one of scrolls and curlicues without the trace of any animal, lynx or otherwise.
Idly, I pulled open one of the drawers - though I had no reason for doing so - and half-heartedly rummaged through the papers contained there. At some point, I would have to go through them all and familiarise myself with their contents in order to maintain the smooth running of the estate. A familiar crest caught my eye and I withdrew a letter bearing the Hogwarts shield. It was my yearly school report from Professor Snape as my Head of House, countersigned by Dumbledore. The drawer also held the other six, along with letters bearing the Malfoy coat of arms and written in my neat yet childish hand: 'Dear Father, I hope this finds you as well as it leaves me ... Another Hogsmeade weekend is planned for two weeks' time and I plan to indulge ... My classes are going well, particularly Potions, but I fear that studying with the Gryffindors is hindering my learning ... Our Quidditch team is particularly strong this year and I believe we have a chance in beating the Gryffindors, especially now that we have the new Nimbus ... Kind regards, your son, Draco'.
I sat back gazing at my find with some bemusement. Each of my school reports bore scribbled notes in Father's meticulous handwriting: Not acceptable; Draco must try harder; engage tutor for additional study; discuss with Snape. Father expected perfection from me and made sure he got it. The thought that he had kept the letters I sent him made me feel proud, although I couldn't believe it was due to any sort of sentimental streak. Truly it seemed Father would never cease to surprise me, even though he was no longer with us. I found myself thinking over my nightmare and rubbed at my neck, once more feeling the ghost of those decaying hands. Pulling at my lower lip, I tried to remember what else he'd divulged but the more I attempted to bring it back, the more it resisted and slipped away from my mental grip.
Irritated by my lack of success, I stood up sharply and strode to the door, flinging it open and storming out the room. As I made my way upstairs to my last hope, Father's private chambers, I couldn't help but feel as though I was being led on some wild goose chase and Father was somewhere watching and laughing at me. Stomping my way along the hallway, I muttered curses at him under my breath. Every new discovery simply revealed a more devious and secretive man, a man I couldn't help but idolise and desire to emulate like the true Slytherin and Malfoy I was. However, I wasn't sure I would ever be content to get ahead by blindly following orders and copying what had already been done; I wanted recognition for my own ideas and actions, for daring to do something new. It was something I'd already got in trouble for many times over. From an early age, I had shown I possessed an enquiring mind which had driven Father to distraction but Mother had had more patience and more time. She always seemed to understand what I wanted and was more amenable to answering my questions, or at least helping me find the solution if she herself was unable to provide it.
I stopped mid-rant. There was a time when I would have been happy to ask Mother if something was puzzling me but in her current state of mind, I was unsure as to what response I might get. If she was drunk, would I get any coherent thought from her? If she was sober, would I just push her further into her grief and to drink more? I took a small uncertain step back the way I had come towards her suite. In the end though, what did I have to lose?
I tapped on Mother's door with my knuckles but got no response. I didn't know whether this meant that she wasn't there, was unable to answer or just hadn't heard so I knocked again, louder this time, but to no avail. Gently opening the door, I called "Mother?", hoping she wouldn't be too upset should I disturb her slumber. Taking a few cautious steps into the room, I noticed that the bed, though crumpled, was most definitely empty. I didn't hear any sounds of movement but called her again. There was no reply and my shoulders sagged. She hadn't moved from her suite in days and the one time I came here to find her, she'd gone. I quickly checked her dressing room and sitting room and with some trepidation even rapped on the door of her bathroom but there was no sign of her.
I glanced round the room, wondering whether to look for Mother or to go to Father's chambers as I'd originally intended when I caught sight of the bureau. I stared at it for a second and then walked over to where it stood between the windows. For as long as I could remember, Mother had had this bureau and used it frequently for her correspondence. It was probably a family heirloom and as such an item of great sentimental value to her. Made of well polished mahogany, the bottom section contained three large drawers topped with two smaller ones and above that was the writing section with multiple little drawers, sections for paper, pens and envelopes and numerous nooks and crannies. The writing surface folded up to cover it and keep it secured if necessary but as Mother used it frequently, it was usually open. Today, however, the lid was closed.
Biting my lip, I studied the carved front. It had been so long since I'd seen it that I'd forgotten about the decoration it bore. Surrounded by the typical scrolls and curlicues was a gathering of creatures such as you would never find in real life: on the right, a tree bore a serpent dangling down from its branches and a centaur resting peacefully against its trunk; in the centre, a lamb nibbled at the grass while being carefully watched over by a lion and over on the left, another tree with two bears lying underneath. On a long thick branch that hung slightly lower than the rest was a creature that I had to study closely through disbelieving eyes. It was the unmistakable form of a lynx.
None this chapter.Chapter Six.
Unless otherwise specified.