Voldemort stood before him. Mouth open and smiling, teeth barred and laughing. Laughing at him, his entire body seizing in uncontrollable convulsions. His body was a demonic plaything for Satan, or perhaps, Voldemort made Satan his plaything.

Laughing still, on and on, his hollow gasps of air filled his dead lungs, releasing in puffs of blackness like an old train. The cold breeze overtook both of them momentarily. Draco stumbled to the left, Voldemort's laughing ceased.

When there was silence again, the howl of the wind dying down for the Dark Lord, Voldemort begun to chuckle and snigger.

"What's funny?" Draco called out.

"Murderer!" He gasped for breath between each word, his giggling insistent, he gave another round of howling laughter, "Mur-..Murderer!"

Draco positioned his wand. So did Voldemort.

This would be his end...

Whose?

Draco opened his eyes.

His hands clutched the sheets, and that was the first thing he realized when his mind came up to speed with his body. Mentally, Voldemort was still there, wand positioned at the ready and his bravery was about to be snuffed by fingers of evil.

His breath was rapid, his heart was in his throat, but he knew he was okay and this brought a chill over his sweating body.

He'd been the last to go to bed and he assumed he was the first up with the clock on the wall reading three in the morning.

The room was still dark and not a single ray of sun was out yet, it cast silence and peace, but at the same time, a bad feeling from inside of himself, like an omen.

Draco let his legs dangle over the side of his parent's bed. It was unnatural sleeping in a room he'd seldom been allowed to enter; and if he was aloud to enter, it'd been a punishment he was looking at. The same feeling was within his body then. However, he'd been exhausted last night and decided to retire to the only bedroom downstairs. The stairs had been far too daunting.

But now, more conscience and mentally alert than he'd ever been waking up in that bedroom, he felt haunted by his father's voice from the fights and sharp whispers he'd hear echo from inside those walls. What bothered him more than anything, was the lack of his mother's voice in his memory. His father's voice had always prevailed over his mother's and with each passing day, his mother's voice was becoming more and more distant to him.

Draco left the room in a hurry, silent and determined like a scurrying mouse in a kitchen full of knife wielding chefs.

He ascended the stairs with renewed strength and entered his usual respective bedroom, taking charcoal suit pants and a dark blue sweater from the dresser. He lingered for a moment. He thought about before his parent's death. Before this school year had even started. That summer, just before, all the moment's he'd spent in his bedroom; filled with anxiety attacks that had only ever been soothed by house elves. There'd only been one time his mother had soothed his panic and to her knowledge, it'd been the only one he'd ever experienced.

He couldn't ever bring himself to tell her they were regular occurrences.

He passed by the many rooms inhabited by the Weasley's, Potter, Granger, and Pansy who'd ended up staying the night without much explanation, but only asked if it was okay.

He entered the restroom, and turned on the shower. He stood in the bathroom as it begun to steam up, just allowing a moment to listen to the water fall against the tub. He released breaths slowly and continuously raking a hand through his hair. He brought it down to view it, that cursed hand, when he noticed how unsteady it had been. Anxiety had crept up on him again, seizing his hand like a disease. It always took control of his right hand first, then it'd spread to the left, and from there it attached to every fiber of his being.

He made it into a fist and looked away, closing his eyes again, focusing on it becoming steady.

He undressed and got in the shower. The hot pounding water on his back brought him temporary ease, opening his lungs for the first time in a while.

What would be his fate in a week from now?

What would be everyone's fate in a week from now?

He surprised himself with the last thought. Not only, he suddenly discovered, was his anxiety due to the question of his own future, but also due to the questionable future of everyone else around him.

He'd caused his parents to die. Was he just a catching disease?

He felt the newly forming scars lining every inch of his body. Over and over again, feeling the letters spell the word out like braille. Murderer.

But he could fix this. He could break the cycle- he could redeem himself this time. End the old Draco Malfoy. Bring forth a hero from this.

Hero.

A strange word for him to think of, he thought, when he'd felt such malice towards the word for so many years. Because he'd always associated it with Potter. But he saw now.

He was never trying to be the hero of the day. Maybe he enjoyed being the hero, but the goal of his life was to protect the good from the evil that had taken his parents from him. Was the glory redeeming? Yes, but it was given where it was due. Was he sometime too thick to see the grey area between the good and evil? Such as the struggling deatheaters, forced into slavitude? Yes. But just as Potter had been ignorant to the enslaved children of deatheaters, Malfoy had been ignorant to what Harry had been trying to do all along, from the start of his wizarding career. He'd always felt such powerful longing to be him, he'd never thought of what it meant to be Harry Potter. The boy who lived, but his parents didn't.

But no.

Now he knew.

He shut the water off.

He'd lost everything.

He stood in the tub, embracing the coldness that enveloped him. Lost everything.

The easier method to his problem would be to do as he'd told Voldemort he would do. Step into Dumbledore's office. Cry to him about the injustices done to him. Tell him his mission. Build trust and set a meeting. The astronomy tower. kill him when he least expected it, in the darkness, at night. Then take his leave. Voldemort would surely be done with him then. What other purpose could he serve?

But could he do that?

Save himself and live a life of meaningless loneliness?

Or re-build himself and join, fearlessly, the otherside of this war as an undercover Potter follower? Save those who'd helped him. Save those who hated him and save those that had saved him equally. Prove to be more than anyone thought he was. Prove he could change, prove he was human. Prove he was a reformed and changed Malfoy.

But is that who he was now?

Draco busied himself with putting his grey trousers on and pulled the blue sweater over himself. He brushed his teeth and combed his hair, then left down that same hall again. Quietley, he descended the stairs and walked through the formal living room, dining room, kitchen, and out the backdoor, he took a breath of the freezing cold air that chilled his wet hair.

He stuck his hands into his pockets and looked up into the sky. Constellations decorated the sky; the stars were brighter and clearer than they'd been in months. Draco made his way to the garden, decayed and ugly. But it was impossible to see the deathly state it was in in the darkness, so he closed his eyes and imagined it blooming again. Full of spirit like his mother had once had.

Listing the flowers to him like she'd done before, telling him about each of them, explaining they required different needs because they had varying personalities.

'These are gloomy. They don't like a lot of sunlight, so we keep them in the shade. These are happy little flowers, precious, but need sunlight. It's more important to them than water. So we put them right here, where they can get sun all day."

Lush, green, wind blowing fresh spring air.

'Will sunlight make the gloomy flowers happy?'

'No. Sometimes...gloomy things can't change. Like these flowers. They'll die in sunlight. And the happy flowers will die without it. It's just...nature.'

He dropped to his knees quietly and laid onto his back looking up into the early morning sky, eyeing the bright specks of light that were like holes in a thick black blanket covering the bright blue expanse of sky.

What would he do in a week?

"Draco?"

He flinched, refocusing his vision and fine tuning his ears as he sat up, but quickly was relieved to see it was only Pansy as he turned around and met her eyes despite the darkness surrounding them.

She was wrapped in a knit green sweater, slightly large on her frame, but flattering still.

"Pansy? Why're you up?"

"I heard you walk down the hall and I wanted to make sure nothing was the matter."

"No, nothing at all." He paused, thinking her statement over again, "Sorry I woke you."

"It's fine, I'm a light sleeper. I'll join you though. I don't believe I'll be going back to sleep anytime soon."

Draco shook his head, "Go ahead."

She sat beside him gently, wrapping herself in her sweater a little tighter against the bitter chill.

"I remember your mother's garden was quite beautiful. All that time ago and I still remember it."

"Mh." He agreed.

"Did you figure out what those things were? I mean...why she had them?"

"No. We spent hours...even Gran-...Hermione couldn't figure it out."

"Hermione? Oh, I'd say you were beginning to take to them."

"They've helped me. More than I ever would've for them. Before this, I mean."

"How about now? Would you do the same for them now?"

Draco thought this over critically, rationalizing it to it's fullest extent and playing every scenario he could think of. He imagined each in danger, calling out to him; he was their only hope.

"Yes."

"You've grown softer."

"No, I've grown wiser. I was ignorant."

"So was I." She whispered.

Draco looked to her for more and she understood his silent question from having been sharing a common room and classes with him for so many years. It was the same expression he'd given Goyle when he was trying to tell Draco bad news.

It asked many things. It asked mainly for an explanation.

"When my father ignored me all those years, I searched for...approval, I guess." She shook her head, rolled her eyes and flipped her hands towards the sky, as though it were all beneath her now and just a cruel joke, "I tried to share opinions with him to get him to take interest in me, I tried to enjoy quidditch, I tried to be the top in my class, I tried...everything- but he'd always wanted a boy. And I could never be what he wanted."

She paused and as she began to lay back into the grass, so did he.

He turned his head towards her. He felt compelled, interested in what she was having to say for the first time he ever remembered. But what was it now that drew him to her? She was different. Who was this woman laying beside him? Changed. So strong, educated, independent, beautiful. And sad. This was not the Pansy Parkinson he remembered.

But something else was changed too. Himself. He was less self absorbed, more understanding, more sympathetic. He was still harsh perhaps, his speech was blunt and he thought in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and dabbled less in emotion than the Gryffindors. That was why he still had those fleeting thoughts of self preservation, it was easier and more logical. But he could fight those thoughts, he knew they were wrong. And all the same: he was more human than he'd ever been. More broken and more damaged than he'd ever been. And with more purpose than he'd ever had.

He'd never be a Harry Potter, never be a Gryffindor, he was too much of a realist for that.

But Pansy and he had both come to terms with who they were. And both had come to terms with their missions in this life.

"I stopped trying to get his approval. So I tried to get other people's approval. Like yours. And all of the Slytherin...That stopped too though, when I realized I didn't need anyone's approval but my own. I hated who I was."

She gave an ironic laugh.

"But I guess more people hate me now than ever. I'm more than just a deatheater's daughter. I'm a traitor."

Draco looked into her eyes.

"You've switched sides?"

"I can't possibly be with them." She whispered, "It's safer, but it'd go against everything I stand for now. I realize it's dangerous but..."

She looked to the sky.

"A tiger can change it's stripes, Draco. Look at us. We did."

"We'll always be those people, Pansy. Inside." Draco whispered back, "We've fixed them, but inside, we're still what we've always been."

"You're still a blood purist, then? A muggle hater?"

"No, I've fixed that-" Draco looked to the sky, anger in his eyes.

"No, you've changed. You'll always be Draco Malfoy. But you have changed. Just like I'll always be Pansy Parkinson. The old me will haunt me for the rest of my life, it'll always be at the back of my mind. But I'll never be her again."

Draco looked back to her.

"You understand what I'm saying. Don't you?"

"Yes."

They were silent for a moment.

His hand met hers in the grass. His warm palm captured her frozen one.

"What did you tell your father?" Draco asked.

"I didn't."

"I like the new you." It was almost silent.

"I like the new you, too."


12


Song Bird Sacrifice


"Here, let me rub this on your face..."

Draco's instinct was to pull away and he started to, but then re-assumed his position and allowed her to try again. She smiled and rubbed a cream across the cuts that were beginning to turn to thin pink scars.

"What is it?"

"It'll help with the healing. Make sure it doesn't scar." Mrs. Weasley replied confidently.

He allowed her to continue, closing his eyes when she got to his cheekbone and pausing from the book he was currently flipping through.

They were reading a hundred books on collections, the different houses of Hogwarts, the history of Hogwarts and the dark arts, again, a repeat of last night. Mrs. Weasley knew her place wasn't really among the books and had took to creating meals, snacks, and her latest: a healing cream.

Everyone else had a book they were flipping through. No one took the task lightly, though Fred and George attempted to keep the atmosphere that way by reading particularly humorous passages out loud every once in a while.

'Says here that Gryffindor's make courageous heroes...' Fred begun.

'...and equally heroic lovers.' George ended, 'That sound about right, Ron? Hot cha cha.'

'I bloody hate that word.' Ron mumbled, a blush creeping across his face.

'Oh wait. And it's says Slytherin...' Fred started,

'...have an affiliation to snakes, ssssss...'

'...and dark arts creatures alike...oooh, creepy, hm, George?'

'...Indeed! i.e. spiders, roaches, and vultures.'

'That true, Malfoy?' They said in unison and then laughed.

'Praise Lord Spidamort!' Fred said, George snorting loudly at the joke in admiration that this was indeed, a 'good one'.

'...I hate spiders...' Malfoy replied with just the smallest twitch of a half-smile he could possibly give, as though refusing to forfeit some kind of game.

'And I can't stand roaches.' Pansy continued.

They laughed harder.

'I think that book you're reading was written by mad men.' Ron said, 'Bloody!'

Last night had ended with Hermione, Harry and Draco together as the last ones up. Everyone had stayed up late, but it was rooted obsession that had kept them up.

Harry and Draco having been obsessed with linking the artifacts to Voldemort and Hermione having been obsessed with finding the answer for them as she usually did. She felt as though she wasn't serving her purpose until she'd attained that answer from a book.

Hermione ended up with her face attached to a page in a book, asleep, and Harry and Draco together, had gotten her to her bed.

The night ended with Draco and Harry both admitting defeat: but just for the night.

"We won't be able to keep up this research for very long if we don't get any sleep..." Harry said, head in hand.

Draco didn't respond.

"We should get some sleep."

"Do what you like Potter, I'll be staying here." He said it was no anger, just determination.

Harry looked to him.

"You look like you could use a little sleep too."

"I'll get sleep when we've figured this out."

"You won't be much use if you're exhausted."

Draco pulled himself from the book and looked to Harry.

"Do you think a person can change?"

Harry was caught off guard.

"What?"

"Are you deaf? A person. Can they change?"

"For better or worse do you mean?"

"Either I suppose."

"Really it matters who we're talking about. If we're talking about Voldemort..."

"No. Not him."

"Who then?"

There was a pause.

"Anyone."

"Before your father died, Malfoy, were you thinking about switching sides? Or was it this, that made you change?"

"Who says I've changed, Potter? Don't be so quick."

Harry lost his breath, looking to him quizzically, about to drop his jaw and yell: But you said you'd rather die than let him live!

Draco turned to face him when he was met with silence.

"It was a joke."

Harry calmed.

"Hilarious, Malfoy. If you'd been that funny since day one at Hogwarts..." Harry trailed off sarcastically, flipping a page, but couldn't fight the smallest smile from coming across his face, "You didn't answer my question."

"Is it vital that I do?"

"No, not really. But I'm interested to know. Not sure if that persuades you any."

Draco cleared his throat, and pushed himself away from the book before him, moving his hand through his hair.

"I always wanted to be on your side."

Harry gave him an incredulous look.

"They why didn't-"

Malfoy already knew the words fumbling from his mouth.

"It's not that easy, Potter. You always want to simplify things. As if I had a choice." He shook his head, "It was complicated. You never had parents, so you don't understand." Malfoy laid his head into one hand, facing him with a determination to make him understand once and for all. Harry was waiting for him to continue with hateful biting words at the mention of his parents death. But none came. "It's like you and Dumbledore. Would you ever want to let him down?"

Harry's brow furrowed. He was comparing Dumbledore to a father to him? How had he known they'd been so close? But, Harry thought, were they truly that close at all? All he'd ever wanted to do was prove himself to him. Was that the bond between a father and a son?

"No, I...I guess not."

"I never wanted to let my father down. I thought he was something he wasn't. I'd been told he was good for so long, when I first heard someone tell me he was bad, tell me he was an evil murderer, actually, I thought it was just jealousy."

Draco paused.

"I couldn't go against him because I wasn't some...brave hero like you were, Potter." Draco finally whispered, turning back to the book.

The crickets outside were obnoxiously loud, and toads, perhaps having settled there were into the gucky beds of decayed flowers that were just outside the window, were contributing to the choir. The outside hum of life disallowed silence and gave the pause a feeling of humility. As though their conversation wasn't significant enough for utter silence.

"I would've been cast out. I would've been disowned. And I would've been embarrassed. You tell yourself you're doing the right thing enough times, and eventually you'll start to believe it: that's what I did. And it works...until you're proven wrong, that is. Like I've been proven wrong now."

Draco thought the moment called for eye contact, but refused it. He stuck his eyes harder than ever to the words on the paper page despite feeling the eyes resting on his profile.

"I've always wanted to be on your side. I was pressured to stay and I didn't have the...bravery to..." He shook his head and gave half of a smile, "They always had a weight attached to my ankle. Now that my parents are dead, I don't have anything holding me back anymore except fear." He said the word with disgust, "But I lost that." Draco swallowed hard, "I lost it when it was too late."

"It's not too late, Malfoy."

Draco looked to him.

"It is for them."

"But not for everyone else. It's not too late to save others. This shouldn't just be some revenge mission. Revenge doesn't work. You think it'll be..." Harry paused, giving a sigh, looking for the right word to use, "You think it'll be a lot more than it is. You think it'll solve problems and make you feel better, but it doesn't change anything. This is about preventing what happened to us from happening to anyone else ever again. "

"Is that what made you such a hero? Telling yourself that?"

"Yes. Because I believe it. If I can make sure one less boy's parents get taken away from him, I'll do anything necessary. You should understand what I mean more than anyone else right now."

Draco fell quiet, looking back to the book.

"I do." He said it beneath the croak of the toads, as if he was embarrassed.

"Nobody should have to feel forced to do what your mother had to do."

Draco swallowed again.

"Draco."

Draco refused to look up this time.

"My parents died for me." Harry said, "I'm making sure it means something. I'm not being a hero, or..or a god. I never intended that to be who I am. I'm trying to protect people from him, protect them so that what happened to me never happens to anyone else." He paused for a second, releasing a breath, "You're right, Malfoy. I never had parents, so I don't understand. And I've certainly never been in your same situation. But our goals are the same, Malfoy: to try and make sure future children live better lives than we did."

The toads were quieter, having gotten warm in their frosted muck and throughout the house, the walls whispered to each other with winds biting their granite skin.

Draco stood and closed the book.

"You're right. We should get sleep."

Draco begun to walk to the doorway.

"Draco."

Draco paused.

"Yes, is my answer. I believe people can change."

"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley." Draco murmured as she finished, pulling her hand from his skin.

"Not a problem at all, dear. How'd you feel today?"

"Better."

"Good then."

She took the emptied bowl away, "Your mother had such lovely taste in glasswear." She murmured, half a smile on her face, "Beautiful little glasses in her kitchen."

"Anyone finding anything?" Ron moaned.

"Nothing yet." Harry replied, sitting back into his chair.

"We've looked in every book a hundred times." Ron replied, no bemoaning included, but stated a simple fact.

"Dumbledore will have the answer." Harry replied, "If we can't find the answer in one of these books, he can tell us."

"But what if it's too late by then?" Hermione asked quietly looking up.

"Then we find another way." Harry replied with strength, "And we don't stop searching for an answer until we defeat him."

"We're not even sure they're connected, Hermione, so don't worry so much." Bill said from his corner of the room, tipping his chair backwards haphazardly, "Draco, you don't have any idea what your Mum might've been doing with those artifacts?"

"If I had, I would've said something before now." Draco replied blankly, he was looking out into space, "I'm trying to remember something."

"What do you mean?" Hermione looked to him, eyes attempting to search his, but she couldn't meet them.

"When I was young, if my father didn't want me to see something, he sent me to my room... if he was sober." The last part slipped from his mouth before he knew what he was saying, but swallowed and continued anyway, "If my mother didn't want me to know something, she made sure I was far from home."

"But she used a charm only you could break. That must stand for something."

Draco shook his head, "I've thought of that too...She never approved of my father being a deatheater. And if she wanted to hide it from him..." He paused, "She knew I didn't want to be a deatheater either, so she knew she didn't need to hide it from me..."

"You're saying it must be connected to him then?" Hermione asked.

"I'm saying it's likely. She always talked about leaving me with options. I never really understood what she meant until now: options to be something other than a deatheater."

A clap of two hands together brought attention to the library's entrance, "How about some lunch?"

Mrs. Weasley had been standing there for an unnoted amount of time, but she had a nervous expression on her face so it was clear she'd overheard at least part of the conversation.

"Sounds good, Mrs. Weasley." Harry stood just as Fred and George shut their books loudly.

"Yeah, Mum." Fred said.

"Way to go, Mum." George continued with a smile.

They competed towards the entrance, followed by Bill and Mr. Weasley who'd quietly been sitting in on the conversations, prepared to fill his wife in if she wanted any explanations later.

Ron and Hermione stood just as Draco pushed his book away, Harry looked to him with half of a smile.

Draco nodded to him once in acknowledgment and they all four headed towards the door, Hermione first, Ron second, then Harry, Pansy, and Draco last.

The corridor was colder than Draco had remembered, but he reasoned he'd been huddled in a library for hours. The empty breezeways of the corridor were bound to be cold with the back doors having been opened by Mrs. Weasley to let steam from her cooking escape.

They begun towards the dining room, happy to have an hour of normalcy ahead of them, their noses leading them to the dishes piled high with deliciously wholesome cooking.

"Your mother was smart." Pansy said to Draco matter-of-factly, "To have made her own charm, I mean. I remember as a final project, I tried to do it. I tried to make a spell of flight. I never really got there with it. Didn't have the effort to perfect it. She must've had a lot of passion."

Draco nodded curtly.

"Something...wrong?"

"No, it's just...my arms burning."

"Your...mark?"

"Yes. It's tolerable. I'll be-" He bit his cheek and gripped his forearm with the opposite arm, stopping in his tracks.

"Draco?"

He gave a pained gasp, "It's him."

"He's sending for you, isn't he?"

"No...no it's different. This is...it's worse."

Draco rolled up his sleeve. They were alone, in the middle of foyer, as he rolled up his dark blue cashmere sweater sleeve and observed the dark mark as it became darker, blacker against his skin.

"I'll go get the others."

"No, wait..Pansy." Draco opened his eyes to be met with Pansy's knees, and it was only then did he realize he'd fallen down to his knees.

He doubled over, bringing his arm within himself, but it was as though he had no control.

Draco looked up again and Pansy was gone. Before him, a mass of blackness welled up like a forming storm cloud and a face emerged from it's center, looking with snake-like eyes into his own.

He blinked, unsure, his breath labored, as he looked into the eyes of darkness. Like black beads of oily hate. An expression that told him he found no pity or sympathy for him, just mirth.

The entire affair was hilarious to him.

Of course it would be.

"Just making sure you didn't forget...dearest Draco...about our plans..."

He found his back arched even further. Pain slipping from every joint in his body, energy drained from every fiber of his being, feeding the swirling abyss before him.

"No...my lord..."

"Good then, no more mistakes or time delaying I expect, Mr. Malfoy. This charitable, philanthropic nature has come to it's end hopefully, for your own sake. I'll expect him dead by this time two weeks from now. That's all the time I'll give you, Draco." He gave a small laugh, "Two weeks from today."

And then he was gone. Sucking within himself, the smoke was gone as quickly as it had come.

And Draco was left with Pansy pulling him from his feet.

"Draco, was that him?" Hermione asked.

"Was it really him, Malfoy?" Ron asked.

Mrs. Weasley and Pansy equally helped him regain his balance and stood close beside him as they made their way back to the table. He seemed stable, though somewhat out of breath.

"Yes, it was him..." Draco finally managed, "Making sure I hadn't forgot about the plan."

He sat into a seat carefully as everyone else took their own, nervous and unsure now, it was a significant change to the moods they'd been in previously with the prospect of an uneventful meal.

"He won't come here...it's fine." Draco murmured as Mrs. Weasley passed a bowl of scalloped potatoes around the table.

'Draco's finally got his mark, hm? Oh, let's see it, love.'

Draco pulled his sleeve up like an automaton, without choice, silence filled the void.

The flashback became soundless. Around him in the house was darkness, her face almost grey in the poor lighting. Bellatrix's lips moved, but no sound was produced. He remembered that she'd said, 'How beautiful.' Looking into his eyes.

Benevolent, a strange word to come to mind, was the only word he could think of. He said it over and over in his mind.

He came back to reality.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Weasley. I'm not hungry. I'll be in the library."

He stood again, making his way out of the dining room, and at the sound of chairs scratching against wood, he turned.

Harry, Hermione, Ron, Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, Pansy,...he named the people off to himself that had moved their seats, about to stand to go after him.

Everyone.

He swallowed. Uncomfortable. He'd never faced this before.

"Eat your lunch." He said, "I'll just be reading."

The expressions were unconvinced.

"I've been under the cruciatus curse more times I can count." He said darker, "I'm fine."

With this he left, and heard no trailing footsteps coming after him. He sighed in relief, going back down the same hall he'd came from and entered the library alone.

'Draco...get your father a little more to drink...'

Draco looked into Lucius' eyes. All he saw was darkness. All he saw was fear. Fearful, but not for his family: for himself.

Draco pushed the book he'd been reading even further from himself, pushing it across the library table with something just a little short of anger.

'Lucius! What's happening? Just tell me what's happening!'

'Draco will be getting the mark. This ends this discussion. There's nothing more you need to know at the moment.'

He sat there, his fate was being screamed to him, to his mother, to the world. And he didn't get to even ask why.

'Lucius...Lucius, please, he's only seventeen.'

'He'll be eighteen soon enough. And by that time, a full grown man. This isn't for debate. The Dark Lord needs him. And it's our duty-'

'Your duty. Not mine. Never mine. I didn't conceive a son to hand him over as payment. That's my baby, Luc-'

'Enough!'

Draco pushed the book further still, his blood heating within his veins with every passing second, with every moment these walls reminded him of the dark days here at Malfoy Manor.

'I'm bad blood, Mother.' He said it as simply as he'd state the fact that the grass was green and he was named Draco Malfoy. Simple and without complexity.

'What? Draco, what did you just say?' She paused at his words, stunned, in fact, by his words.

'I'm bad blood. Because I do magic without trying to do magic.'

'Draco, you're perfectly healthy and..and..pure in every way. It's just you get a little...emotional and things get out of hand. That's all it is. And-...Wait.' Something dawned on her, 'You didn't...Draco, dear, you never told anyone you did unintentional magic, did you?'

'No, Mother, you told me not to.'

His mother took a breath of air and smiled.

'So who told you that unintentional magic means bad blood? Was it Gregory Goyle?'

'No.'

'The Crabbe child?'

"No, it was Father.'

Draco stood, hands grasping at his hair, heart pounding in his chest.

He wouldn't end up like him.

Never.

Not like his father, no.

'I named you after a constellation, Draco. Draco was a dragon who guarded golden apples on a very special tree. For his bravery and his loyalty, he was awarded with becoming a part of the stars, where he could look down on civilization forever and protect the midnight sky.'

'Bravery is Gryffindor...Loyalty is Hufflepuff...'

'Oh, stop worrying about those silly houses.'

'Father was a Slytherin and you were a Slytherin, and if I'm not a Slytherin next year-'

'Don't worry what you become. You'll be put into whatever house best fits you. You can't change it now or ever. And that's ok. I'll love you no matter what house you're in. Alright?'

Draco looked into his mother's eyes.

'Alright.'

Draco looked back to the table. Even gone, she had the ability to soothe his fear and make the hatred and the pain and the worry all go away. Warmth and confusion took over.

'My parent's died for me...I'm making sure it means something...'

He sat.

'Yes. I believe people can change.'

He released a breath looking quietly down into his lap.

'A Tiger can change it's stripes, Draco. Look at us. We did.'

"It'll always be there.."

He eyed the dark mark, blackness against cream white skin.

"...my mistake."


Thank you guys for reading! Reviews are GREATLY appreciated. I saw a lot of new favorites and followers last update and thank you so much for adding this to your lists. It means a lot to me that you actually WANT to be annoyed with ring tones whenever I decided to write something and post it (I mean, if you've got your email set up on your phone so you get notifications in ring tone form everytime something happens on any website you're signed up for but ANYWAY...). It certainly makes me try to give you at LEAST decent quality chapters...and THATS why I need to talk to you guys.

Sorry about all the drama and little to no action. I'm kinda delving into character complexity a little and not offering a whole lot of entertainment to my action-lover crowd. Am I right? But that's okay! BECAUSE you action-lovers are going to get your fill REALLY soon.

Next chapter is a little more memory delving (also, a small secret is revealed about Pansy and Draco's previous...what? I'm not telling.) and these things do in fact relate. (Memory delving and closet cleaning with Pansy.)

ANYWAY...

Get ready for an awesome show down of blood, love, and tears...and also manliness...

A little manliness.

ONLY A FEW CHAPTERS AWAY!

Remember to leave a review? Thanks!