June 26, 1992, 6:00 AM, Malfoy Manor
He was annoyed.
More than that, Draco was cranky.
“Draco?” His mother’s melodious voice came from his right, and Draco turned to give her an irritated look. “Eat your breakfast.”
Draco gave the woman a mutinous look, prompting Narcissa to give him an amused smile. “The mornings still don’t agree with you, love?”
“No.” Draco said, hating how scratchy his voice came out at that moment. He grimaced. “I hate mornings.”
Narcissa smiled, a glitter of pride entering her eyes. “A well-known trait of House Black, my son. We never could stand—”
“—The early rise of the light.” Draco muttered, finishing for her. “Yes, mother.”
“You remembered.” She said, her eyes glittering with happiness.
“How can I not?” Draco said, feeling himself relax a little as the annoyance faded away. “You’ve only told me a mere thousand times, or so.”
“Draco.” Narcissa affected a stern look, though the smile on her face told the boy that she was more exasperated than cross with him. “The histories of my House, as well as your father’s family are a precious thing, to be passed down from our elders to our young ones.”
“To preserve our heritage and culture.” Draco replied automatically, just as he had since the words were first taught to him, years before. “And our memory.”
“Good boy.” She said, reaching over and cupping his cheek for a moment. “Though, perhaps, not a boy. You’re becoming a fine, handsome young man right before my eyes!”
Draco felt the heat creep up his neck, suffusing into his cheeks from his mother’s praise. “Mother!”
She smiled, the expression on her face radiant. “It’s true! You’re doing so well— your father and I were most impressed with your grades.”
She let go of him, and Draco finally looked away, huffing for a moment before giving her a look. “Thank you, mother.”
“Of course, dear.” Narcissa said before her face turned stern. “Dobby!”
A small pop came from the woman’s right. Dobby stood there, staring at them with wide eyes before he bowed. “Yes, Mistress?”
“Have our breakfast brought here.” Narcissa said, looking towards Draco and seeing what he wanted.
“Eggs and sausage, Dobby.” Draco said, seeing Dobby’s nod and look of confusion. What’s that about?
The ruddy elf had been acting weird ever since Draco had returned, always twitchy and nervous. Draco didn’t understand why, and so it had been the source of much confusion. Had his father inflicted a punishment on it, or something.
Yeah. He thought as he watched his mother give the orders. That’s probably it.
“Lucius and I will have our usual.” Narcissa said, affixing the House Elf with a glare. “Go to work, and have it all ready in five minutes.”
Dobby trembled, gave another deep bow again and Disapparated.
Narcissa’s face scrunched with disapproval at the creature’s departure before shaking her head and taking the newspaper, reading through it as the two waited for breakfast time to start in a few minutes.
Preserving our culture, heritage and memory. Draco thought, frowning when his mother’s face was hidden behind the newspaper. That’s what it’s for, isn’t it? The preservation of my family— our honor and bloodline.
He said these words to himself, but they were infirm things, lacking any manner of meat and bone with which to enforce their sovereignty within his mind.
In truth, such views and beliefs had been challenged again and again, ever since he had seen Adam Clarke walk through his group with a powerful Shield Charm— a spell far beyond even what his then-apparent skill level would have had Draco believe.
And, with every revelation, every inconsistency he noticed, Draco felt his faith wither away, filling him with an ever-strengthening sense of guilt and disorientation.
But nothing could deny the facts; Adam Clarke was a generational prodigy the likes of which hadn’t been seen in half a century. No one knew exactly what had happened during the events of June the Tenth, when Dumbledore was called away, but stories of Clarke’s deeds had been shared far and wide in the school.
Battling multiple Fifth to Seventh Years and subduing them simultaneously, going into battle with teachers, beating down a Security Troll single handedly, killing a Dragon and a Cerberus— the stories had continued to grow wilder and crazier the more time passed, and so Draco didn’t know what was truth and what was an embellishment or a lie.
What he did know was that Clarke had been horribly injured in the affair. His arm had been severely burned, and his right eye… It had turned white. Had he been blinded? Draco wasn’t sure.
He hadn’t had a chance to meet with Clarke like the boy had jokingly promised a few months before. Draco snorted; it was a such a stupid thing to joke about, but Adam seemed to derive a strange amusement from it, anyway.
Clarke, the mystery. Draco thought. If he’s been blinded, it probably would be obvious, though. He wouldn’t be able to move properly for a while.
A loss of one eye messed with your balance— it didn’t take a genius to figure that one out.
He’d snuck a few peeks at the boy from afar; it never seemed like he was disoriented or suffered from any issues with his sight, though Draco did notice the boy’s gaze going over the empty air above people’s heads from time to time, as if he was looking at something only he could see.
Draco didn’t know how that made him feel.
Further thought on the matter was interrupted by footsteps coming in from the doorway behind him. Draco turned and saw his father, Lucius, entering the room.
“Father.” Draco said, giving the man a nod of greeting.
“Draco.” Lucius said, returning the nod in kind. “Having a good morning, are we? You look a little less vacant than usual.”
Draco opened his mouth to answer, but his mother’s light laughter filled the air, interrupting him.
“He becomes more and more like you every day, Husband.” Narcissa said as the man walked by her, taking his seat at the head of the table.
“Wife.” Lucius said as he settled himself in the ornate chair; platefuls of food appeared before the three members of the family. “Let us enjoy this day.”
Draco felt his mouth water as he inhaled the aroma of eggs and sausage, luxuriating in the bouquet of its spices for a few moments before he, too began to eat. “Yes, Father. Let’s.”
Narcissa nodded as well, taking the only thing that had appeared before her— a hot mug of coffee. She took a sip and closed her eyes, savoring the taste as Draco and his father shared a look of amusement.
He never understood why his mother liked coffee; he had tried it before, and it had been the worst thing he’d ever tasted.
That’s not even mentioning the bad case of jitters it gave me. Draco thought as the woman set the cup down. He stared at the swirling liquid within the mug with not a small amount of suspicion. Never again.
“So, Husband…” Narcissa said, directing her blue eyes to Lucius. Draco thought that they were like chips of arctic ice. “What is the occasion for such an… Early rise?”
Uh oh. Draco thought in response to his mother’s sudden change in tone. That was the tone she used whenever she was truly displeased by something or someone. Draco had been on the receiving end of it a few times too many.
It had been less pleasant than the coffee she drank— and that was saying something.
Fitting, I suppose. Draco thought as his father paused mid-bite to look at his wife through guarded eyes. That she’s as scary as that infernal drink of hers.
“Yes. I will explain when we are done eating, my blue star.” Lucius said, finishing his motion and taking a bite of his breakfast, which prompted Draco to get back to his own plate.
Draco speared a sausage with his fork and took a bite, relishing in the strong, yet somewhat sweet taste for a few seconds before scarfing his food down at a fast, but meticulous pace.
It wouldn’t do to look like a wild animal at the breakfast table, after all.
Lucius sent his son a look to indicate for him to slow down, and Draco conceded with a bashful look. I guess I wasn’t going as slow as I thought.
“Savor your food, son.” Lucius said a few moments later.
“Yes, Father.” Draco replied automatically and slowed his pace.
A few minutes later, their plates were empty. Draco leaned back into his chair, feeling satisfied with such a good meal— better than the ones at Hogwarts. Nothing like the food from your home.
“Well?” Narcissa asked. “Out with it, Husband. There is only so much suspense I can tolerate.”
Lucius gave his wife a mixture between a look of challenge and condescension in reply. Draco did his best to resist the urge to roll his eyes in front of them, knowing that neither parent would take kindly to such uncouth behavior.
Narcissa lost that particular power struggle, huffing as her eyes slowly gained a gleam of curiosity. “It must be important if you’ve been this tight-lipped on the matter for the past few weeks.”
Lucius drew his wand from his robe and gave it a light wave. A few moments later, an opened letter streaked through the doorway, landing into the palm of his hand. Lucius held it out for his wife without a word, his intent all-too-clear.
Narcissa stared at the offered letter and then into her husband’s eyes for a moment before she took it. Unfolding it, she began to read, her expression not changing in the least.
“I see.” Narcissa handed the missive back to him. “So it is an open invitation?”
“Indeed.” Lucius said, and the two shared a long look.
Draco opened his mouth to speak before thinking better of it. He was curious as to what exactly they were talking about.
“You’ve already made arrangements.” Narcissa concluded out of the blue.
“I have.” Lucius said, pulling out his pocket watch. “We leave in forty minutes.”
“Forty minutes.” Narcissa’s look turned frosty as she stood abruptly. “Then I shall prepare immediately, Husband.”
Narcissa exited the dining room without another word. Draco watched her go, confused as he always was when it concerned his mother’s sudden shifts.
Lucius shook his head at Draco’s expression. “It is pointless to try and understand, Draco. I gave up on that venture long ago.”
“Yes, Father.” Draco said. “Father, I was wondering…”
“You wish to know where it is that we’re going, I take it?” Lucius said, and his son nodded. “We are paying a visit to a prospective partner.”
“I see.” Draco said and paused. “We?”
“Oh, yes.” Lucius said and gave the boy a solemn look. “It’s time you started learning more about how our family business is run, my son— to see how it is all executed, firsthand. Sooner than you think, you shall have a family of your own and you will need to fulfill your duties to the Malfoy name.”
Draco felt the excitement in him rise, washing away any hint of grogginess he’d felt not ten seconds prior. “Yes! I mean— yes, father. I will make our family proud.”
“Of course you will.” Lucius said, standing up. “Dobby!”
Dobby appeared, and before he could even bow, Lucius had already turned his back on the elf and was part-way out of the dining room, with Draco quickly following him. “Clean this mess up, and do it right this time.”
“Yes, Master.” Was the last thing Draco heard from the elf before the door behind him closed and Draco banished any thoughts of the miserable looking creature away, so eager he was about the prospect of learning to lead the family.
“You are to wear robes that represent your station and birthright.” Lucius said.
“Yes, Father.” Draco said, nodding in excitement. “I will wear my finest robes.”
“Very good.” Lucius said. “The place to which we are going is called Phoenix’ Roost.”
“Phoenix’ Roost?” Draco said, repeating the words in confusion. “I’ve never heard of such a place, Father.”
“Of course you wouldn’t have.” Lucius said. “It is the location of a safehouse for certain men who are considered to be… enemies of the International Confederation of Wizards.”
Draco frowned for a few moments as he followed his father, trying to make sense of that information. His eyes widened as an idea struck him. “The Dark Lord, Grindelwald?”
“Correct.” Lucius said and stopped, turning to address his son when they reached the entrance hall. “However, remember that he has never identified himself as a Dark Lord; but as a wizard like any other, looking to better our world. You would do well not to call him that.”
“Of course, Father.” Draco said, nodding with a serious look. “Apologies.”
“None needed. Still…” Lucius said. “Your guess was well reasoned. I would expect no less of you, Draco.”
Draco preened at the praise, but his father’s look of warning stopped him short. “These talks could signify an important change to our family, Draco. So you are to be on your best behavior. You are to carry yourself as both a son of Malfoy and a son of Black. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Father.” Draco said, nodding to show his resolve. “I won’t let our families down.”
“Of course you won’t.” Lucius said, placing his hand on Draco’s shoulder and giving him a rare, genuine smile. “You’re my son.”
Draco felt his heart soar for a moment before Lucius’ smile fell away. “Go on, now. You’ll find us here when you’re done preparing.”
“Yes, Father.” Draco said and went up several sets of stairs to get to his room. He entered the premises and called for one of the house elves. “Finkly!”
Finkly appeared with a bow. “Master calls for Finkly?”
“Yes.” Draco said, gesturing at his wardrobe. “Fetch my finest robes, and make sure they are ready.”
Finkly the house elf nodded, snapping her fingers and levitating a set of black robes with silver trimmings out. The boy’s eyes widened, remembering the time he’d asked his father to get him robes that looked just like his.
Draco smiled at that, watching Finkly fix the clothes up, removing any wrinkles or dust that may have accumulated from disuse.
“It is done, Master.”
Draco nodded. “Good. Place it on the bed and you may go.”
Finkly blinked at him in confusion, but did as he ordered. Draco frowned as she gave him a slow bow and Disapparated from his presence. Her, too? What in Merlin’s name is wrong with the elves?
He didn’t get it, but he supposed it wasn’t important. As long as the stupid things did what they were told, he didn’t care. Draco sighed, shaking his head to clear it from confusion before turning his gaze to the set of robes laid nicely on his bed.
It took some time, and he had to fix his hair after he’d ruffled it twice, but Draco eventually stood in front of the mirror, looking pleased with himself. He gave a quick look to the clock on his wall and realized that he had ten minutes left. Finished with time to spare.
Draco took his hawthorn wand from his desk and pocketed it, ignoring the thrill he felt from its core at their touch. It was a shame that he wasn’t allowed to use magic outside of school— not that his parents particularly cared about his use of it within their household.
Still, to be unable to express his magic freely when out in public was a travesty upon wizard rights. Wizards and witches should be able to use their magic whenever they wish!
He shook such thoughts away and checked himself one last time before exiting his room, heading back towards the entrance hall. His father was already there, clad in robes matching his own.
“Father.” Draco said, standing beside the man without needing to be prompted.
Lucius nodded but said nothing else, his eyes lingering on the upper left side of the staircases, where his wife’s chambers were located. A minute or so passed before Narcissa came out, wearing a set of robes that Draco had only seen once on her before.
Clad in a robe so silver it almost looked like metal, Narcissa stepped down the stairs with an elegance Draco could scarcely comprehend. Her robes were bordered and inlaid with black patterns of crisscrossing branches, and upon the largest branch upon her left breast stood three ravens— the symbol of House Black. Draco only lingered at the sight for a single instant before turning his eyes away, feeling disgusted with himself and mortified.
“Wife.” Lucius greeted, giving her an amused look. “I see you indeed managed to get ready.”
Narcissa gave him a look of mild contempt, but Draco could tell it was half-hearted at best. “Are we ready to go?”
“Of course.” Lucius said, reaching into his robes and producing a long band of cloth. “I had this made yesterday.”
“A Portkey.” Draco said, already hating the piece of fabric. He didn’t like them at all; they always made him feel queasy. “Maybe I should have not broken my fast, Father.”
“Enough time has passed so that you will pass to the other side without incident.” Lucius said, giving the boy a stern look.
“Yes, Father.” Draco said and took the bit of cloth in his hand, grabbing it tightly. A moment later, Narcissa did as well.
“Exit.” Lucius said, and Draco felt like something hooked onto his navel and took him on a ride of multicolor light. He remembered his lessons and focused his mind, ignoring his protesting stomach as he waited for the exact moment to let go. And… now!
His hand unclenched and he landed on the ground a little hard, stumbling a few steps to bleed off the momentum. When he righted himself and regained his balance, Draco found himself staring at a long, paved path leading to a large manor, set in front of wilderness so green he could almost feel the life reaching into him.
If only it wasn’t so hot. Draco thought, adjusting his robes so that the heat didn’t kill him within seconds of standing in it. A second later, he relaxed, feeling the effects of a Cooling Charm cover his body.
“Much better than before, Draco.” Lucius said, and Draco turned to see the man’s approving gaze. Beside him, Narcissa pocketed her wand and gave her son a small smile before it disappeared under a frigid expression at the approach of a familiar face.
“Lucius.” Mr. Crabbe said with a nod before turning to Narcissa and her son. “Narcissa. It’s very nice to see you; you as well, Draco. Vincent has been telling me of all of your adventures.”
“The feeling is mutual, Chester.” Lucius said with a neutral gaze, even as Draco gave him a friendly nod and smile. His father turned to Mr. Goyle, who was here as well with a small cohort of wizards and witches.
“To business, then, Lucius?” Mr. Goyle said as the small group approached.
“Yes.” Lucius said, nodding and going straight to the heart of the matter. “Were you followed?”
“Not that we know of.” Mr. Goyle replied. “We shifted the schedules so that a few of our agents in the Auror department were making the rounds in our general vicinity. They will report any sign of anyone following us.”
Lucius considered these words with a critical look and nodded. “Good. Good. Secrecy is still our ally for the time being, and we should strive to keep it so for as long as possible.”
“Yes, of course, Lucius.” Mr. Crabbe said, nodding in agreement before turning to look at the structure.
Lucius did as well, raising his cane and taking the first step. Everyone followed him without a word. Draco, however, was full of questions. He did his best to keep them from his face, but judging from his father’s glance, it seemed that he failed.
“Out with it, Draco.” Lucius said. “It wouldn’t do for you to be confused at a time like this.”
“Yes, Father.” Draco said, taking a breath and trying to control his enthusiasm. “It’s just that, why are we bringing so many wizards and witches with us? I thought this was supposed to be a small meeting.”
“Indeed.” Lucius said.
“Consider this your first lesson, then, Draco.” Lucius explained as they reached the halfway point. “The wizards or witches you will see in this place are our potential partners in business; make no mistake, however. They are not our allies.”
“I see.” Draco said, absorbing the information. “And so we need to ensure our safety?”
“That is true, in a way.” Lucius said.
“What do you mean, Father?” Draco asked.
“Use your mind, son.” Lucius said, gesturing at the scale of the building. “Grindelwald has liberated hundreds of prisoners from France, alone. He will have taken the opportunity to arm every single one who pledged service to him.”
Draco frowned as he absorbed the words, making sense of them before his eyes widened.
“You mean to say that, should Grindelwald choose.” Draco said, feeling fear creep up his spine at the sense of impending doom. “He could beat us with his army?”
“Yes. He could in fact defeat our force with relative ease— much as I would hate to admit it.” Lucius said, an unpleasant look on his face. “But he will not.”
“Then…” Draco frowned. “Why hire wizards and witches to defend us at all?”
“It’s a sign.” Narcissa said before Lucius could open his mouth. They were almost at the main gate, now. “That your father can, at a whim, command many wizards. It shows Grindelwald that there is opportunity to be had, but also warning, should he indeed decide to oppose us in the future.”
“Not that he would. Only a fool declines a good opportunity to do business.” Lucius explained as the gates opened. “The time for questions is at an end, however. Be on your best behavior, Draco.”
“Of course, Father.” Draco promised, and they all entered through the main gate.
They were met with an expansive, well-kept garden, full of flowers of all manners and colors. Draco scrunched his nose at the pungent odor in the air as they trudged their way past the garden, heading towards the building’s main entrance.
There was a man there to greet them, flanked by two, vicious looking wizards with mean looks.
“Mr. Malfoy.” The man at the center spoke, gaining everyone’s attention. “Mrs. Malfoy. Thank you for accepting our invitation.”
“Of course.” Lucius said. “It was quite the intriguing prospect; I presume you are Matthias, Mr. Grindelwald’s Right Hand?”
“You presume correctly, Mr. Malfoy. Matthias Auer is my name.” Matthias said with a proud smile. “Mr. Grindelwald has been expecting you for some time.”
“Has he, now?” Lucius said, and Draco couldn’t read his expression. “I have been considering the matter thoroughly, of course.”
“Of course.” Matthias repeated. “One cannot be careful enough, Mr. Malfoy.”
“But I’m sure such business isn’t to be discussed here, out in the open.” Narcissa cut into the conversation, the dispassionate look on her face making her look like the epitome of what a noble lady should be. “Shall we?”
“Of course.” Matthias said, nodding towards the men to open the main doors.
Draco took a moment to look around one last time before he had to go in, when his eyes landed upon a small group of wizards and witches to the right, who looked to be parting to let two of their members engage in a duel.
Wait… Draco’s eyes fell on the odd one out, a small, black-haired child who looked to be around his age. He looks familiar…
A moment later, the boy turned to him, staring at Draco with eyes of white and black. Draco’s eyes widened in shock.
Adam Clarke? Draco was struck dumb.
What was he doing here? Shouldn’t he have been with Sirius Black, or something? Draco was so confused that he didn’t notice the doors opening, and that his entourage had mostly left.
“Draco!” Lucius’ voice came abruptly, cutting off his reverie and forcing Draco to tear his eyes away from Clarke. “Don’t dawdle.”
“Yes, Father.” Draco said automatically and, with one last look at his Ravenclaw classmate, entered the building.
Hooy boy. That’s trouble, in more ways than one.