Of Discoveries & Chains
He remembered the moment he knew.
It had been the eve of his twentieth birthday. The war had been over for three years. It was a quiet time in the wizarding world and his life was peaceful for the first time since he was a child. It was a peaceful life, the likes of which he'd never known and he savored it.
It wasn't necessary to shrink in fear, nor skirt silently around corners of his own home. The nightmares continued in their visitation, but even they were sporadic at best. He was almost a respectable member of society. Of course there were still those determined to cling to the last vestiges of hatred which stemmed from the war, but he did his best to look past their anger. He continuously reminded himself, he once was the same.
He had awoken trapped in the twisted satin sheets of his childhood, his skin slick with beads of sweat. His hair had been plastered to his forehead and he had difficulty drawing a full breath. He couldn't remember the dream but he knew something had changed. He felt positively primal. Something was missing. Something important, no, that wasn't quite right. Someone. Someone was missing and he needed them. Desperately. The very idea of allowing this someone to slip through his fingers was excruciatingly painful. He wanted them. He needed them. He lived…for them.
He remembered leaping from his four poster bed, his chest still heaving, his heart erratically pounding beneath his breast. He remembered stalking toward the window and ripping the heavy brocade draperies from the window in a single slash. He stared through the murky glass as the moon cast shadows and attempted to clear his head.
The moonlight had shone brightly onto his skin causing him to inspect every inch for flaws which no longer existed. Instinctively his long fingers had stroked his chest, searching for the thin threads of scars which remained from an unlucky confrontation with The Boy Who Was Completely Overrated. He had gasped in confusion, his eyes perusing his naked torso yet coming up empty.
He shook his head slowly, and retreated from the silvery moonlight, completely convinced it was playing tricks with his mind. These sorts of things didn't truly happen, did they? He had eagerly searched the darkness of his bedchamber for the silk pyjamas he had been wearing, his hands shaking, his thoughts muddled. He crinkled them in his hands before shoving his feet into them, tying them tightly on his hips. He had glanced at his wand lying on the bedside table and discarded the thought of retrieving it. He had also snarled, stomping across his bedchamber in a most unrefined manner, tossing the heavy oak door into the wall, his lip curling even as the oak splintered.
He remembered stalking angrily through the darkened corridors of the Manor, his fists clenched. The sconces lining the forest green walls leaping to life as he passed. He would have stopped to contemplate such a rarity but he was a man on a mission.
His sweat slicked body clenched around his soul, burning him from the interior with a want he didn't, couldn't understand. His muscles tightened angrily, dancing on the precipice of refusing his commands. He forced himself forward, ignoring the sizzle in the air, the barely discernible sounds of heirlooms crashing into the walls, shattering into pieces on the floor.
He had felt as if his blood were boiling him from the interior, feeling no relief, even as the cool marble of the foyer attempted to soothe the bare soles of his feet. A cacophony of bright flashing pictures flipped madly through his mind's eye, intent upon showing him pieces of the puzzle he was unable to solve. He didn't know when he had sunk to his knees, his damp hair held fast in angry fists, yanking it from his skull. Unable to continue, his head fell backward as the soul wrenching scream escaped pink lips, echoing into the night.
"I thought he had been spared." He remembered hearing the warbling concerned voice of his mother, whispering beside him. He had felt the soothing cool of a cloth pressed to his forehead, sighing as it eased the insistent fire determined to burn through him.
It was the conversation, this particular conversation that continued to plague him, haunted him really. It had altered everything he'd ever believed, everything he'd ever known. He was trapped in an endless loop of flirtation, never to take that which was his and it was slowly killing him.
"Draco? Lucius, I believe he's coming around." Narcissa Malfoy hovered over her only son, desperately clutching his clammy palm in her own, disregarding the state of her dressing gown.
He growled, ripping his hand from his mother's, confused to feel the strange sounds rumbling in his chest. His grey eyes immediately opened, squinting in the bright light of day. The fire continued to burn and he resisted the urge to rip his skin from his bones to find the slightest relief.
"What the fuck is happening to me?" He didn't recognise the raspy quality of his voice. The slight shuffling movement of his father caught his attention, his eyes narrowing into slits, his breath escaping his lips in forceful puffs.
"Draco, you must calm yourself. Your father and I wish you no harm. We aim only to aid you during this transition." Narcissa remained on her knees before her only son, silently willing her husband to remain still until their son was in complete control of his facilities.
He growled harshly, his grey eyes darkening to black as pitch. He didn't understand the want to tear his father limb from limb. He didn't understand why the desire to escape the Manor was becoming impossibly difficult to resist. He gripped the sofa, feeling the fabric tear beneath his...were those bloody claws?
"Tell me." He spat venomously, daring his mother to deny him. As his vision clouded and the haze encompassed him, he could easily envision ripping his mother's throat out with a single swipe.
"I'll have to bind you, for our safety as well as yours." Narcissa swallowed hard, her long blonde hair falling in unruly waves down her back.
Lucius hugged the wall of the sitting room, unwilling to draw his son's gaze. It wasn't anything he hadn't experienced before; however, watching his wife go through the transformation was decidedly different than facing the rage of his son. He was afraid to breathe, knowing anything could set him off.
"Do it." Lucius cringed. His son's voice sounded as if he had ground glass in his throat. His skin was flushed pink and he wondered if it was the burn causing such a reaction.
"NO! Do not speak to me. Do not let him speak to me. It hurts. I can't bear it. He's hurt her. I can feel it. Merlin he despises her." Draco curled unto himself, unable to bear the brunt of it all.
His knees shook as he felt the pure hate flow through him. It wasn't his, but it was as if tiny daggers were stabbing his soul. He didn't want to feel the emotions coursing through his father's cold veins. He didn't wish to be anything like his father, not anymore and allowing the emotionally bereft mind-set linger for even a moment, filled him with revulsion.
"Who Draco? Do you know who?" Narcissa resisted the urge to run the cool cloth over his face. Her hands hovered inches from his forearm, feeling the heat come off him in waves.
"No. I don't...I can't...I couldn't see. I tried, but I couldn't." The pain of such an admission caused angry tears to escape his closed eyes.
He had to protect her, he knew it. She wasn't safe. She'd never be safe without him but how could he protect her when he didn't know who she is? The irony of such a thing was not lost on him and he keened, his limbs rigid.
"Could you sense her?" Draco felt the magical ropes encircle his limbs and he refused to thrash against them.
"Mother, stop it. I can't breathe. Everything hurts, why does it hurt? What's happening?" Narcissa rebelled against her consciousness and brushed the slick hair from her son's forehead.
He shuddered, leaning into the touch. He felt her fingertips lightly brushing his cheek and the burn lessened, recognising the maternal comfort for what it was.
"Lucius, send for Apolline." Draco didn't know an Apolline, yet it didn't matter, he could almost breathe. His chest was still constricted, yet it was no longer as if he were attempting to suck in oxygen while a piece of stone laid upon his breast.
"It is done." Lucius whispered, cringing. He eased along the wall, slipping from the room before his life became forfeit.
"Draco, Apolline will come quickly. She's been waiting for this moment since your adolescence. She's much more knowledgeable than I when it comes to..."
"What Mother, tell me." Draco sighed, focusing his energies on relaxing the stiffness.
"It will be difficult."
"My life has been difficult." Narcissa risked her wellbeing and settled beside her son. She drew her pale green dressing gown closed, fiddling with the ties.
"When you were a child, you were quite a curious thing, constantly barraging me with questions. I tried to answer them to the best of my ability, but you were quite obsessed with one particular subject." Draco nodded, vaguely remembering the flare of anger from his father and his mother's tight lipped responses.
"Exactly. It's quite noticeable I look nothing like them. There's a reason for that which I had hoped I would never be forced to explain to you. However, certain situations are obviously out of our control and here we are."
"Mother, I'm dying, can you hurry it along a bit?" He groaned, disgruntled with the inability to draw his knees into his chest.
"Always such a flair for dramatics. You must get that from your father." Narcissa snorted, smoothing her hair and pulling it over her shoulder. She closed her sky blue eyes and enhanced her calm. "Your grandmother discovered me near the forest. I truly know nothing about it. She did not disclose such things to me until my own transformation which was quite different from yours. I went to sleep on the eve of my seventeenth birthday and awoke with a feral need to find him. I nearly tore a few first years into pieces in my quest until I stumbled into the boys' dormitories. He had just stepped out of his room and I flew into his arms and well, I sunk my fangs into him. I didn't give him a chance to catch his breath or Merlin forbid reject me. After that moment, he was mine. I suppose it could have been similar for Fleur in regards to that Weasley but I haven't the slightest. Apolline will tell you more."
"What the fuck are you going on about? Grandmum bloody found you? And what? She simply brought you home and said hello granddad we've got ourselves a girl child, isn't she pretty, let's keep her? Fucking FANGS? You bit him? Why would you do that? Are you a vampire? You're hurting my head and that's a pretty fantastic bloody feat considering how much PAIN I'M IN!" Draco struggled against his magical bonds, his head pounding behind his eyes. He felt an inexplicable rage building, oozing its way past his defences, slowly obliterating the last remnants of his humanity as the feral howl tore through his throat.
"Mon dieu!" Apolline Delacour swept into the sitting room in a flourish of dark purple robes, blonde hair flying with an intensity Draco had never witnessed beyond the brooding of his father. She perched on the edge of the marble coffee table; her eyes squinted in silent contemplation.
She waved a pale wrinkled hand absently, as if she were toying with the ripples in a pond, before forming a quick, tight fist. She twisted her fist clockwise slowly, until the tension ebbed from Draco's twisted form. She smiled quickly, so quickly in fact if he had not witnessed it himself, it would have been difficult to convince him such a thing had happened. Apolline Delacour was a perfect mask of controlled magic.
"Unbind him. I cannot work under such conditions." Her voice was a low, soothing timbre causing Draco's body to respond, slowly the tightness in his limbs receded and he felt moments of complete clarity.
"Oui Madame." Narcissa flicked her wand, ending the enchantment.
Draco had never heard his mother acquiesce to another witch so quickly. As the Matriarch of the Malfoy legacy, she was a proud woman, regal and elegant. She did not bow to the whims of anyone, not even her husband.
"He is strong. This is good. It will make his training much easier. You should have called for me sooner. I could have begun before the transformation." Apolline frowned lightly upon taking in Lady Malfoy's attire yet refrained from comment.
"When he came of age and nothing happened, we thought perhaps...he would remain unaffected." Narcissa remained contrite though she had half a mind to hex the condescending witch regardless of her expertise.
"I warned you. How much have you told him?"
"I'm right bloody here." Draco snarled, feeling the fire rear its excruciating head.
"I didn't feel there was a need for him to…"
"You were wrong, obviously." Draco's chin dropped, his lips falling open at the blatant audacity of the older witch. He was quite surprised and almost impressed his mother had not hexed the poor woman into oblivion.
"Madame Delacour, surely you cannot fault us for protecting our son?"
"Protect him? My dear, you've coddled him, spoiled him and left him completely uneducated in terms of his legacy. He doesn't know what he is, or what you are or even what his children will be. He's been besieged by visions which he can't possibly properly understand and that is your fault Narcissa. You have failed him."
"Yes, yes we're Malfoys and we're horrid people. Would you mind telling me what the fuck you're talking about?" Draco's hiss drew Apolline's attention and another ghost of a smile passed her pink lips.
Apolline ignored him then as her blue eyes darkening to pools of black. Her fingers elongated forming talons, even as her canines lengthened, pricking her bottom lip. She stood suddenly, tearing the cloak from her person, a strange cawing escaping what used to be her lips. Her pale face morphed into something Draco remembered well. Her plump lips formed a sharp, pointed beak, the cawing growing to a cacophony of screeches. Apolline curled unto herself and with one last shriek, a pair of pale grey scaled wings expanded, jutting from her shoulder blades, renting the fabric of her purple robes.
Draco Malfoy bit his cheek until it bled, unable to tear his eyes from the creature. He wanted to be completely revolted, but he couldn't. He remembered being at the Quidditch World Cup years upon years ago and watching the intriguing creatures weave their web before they grew angry. He had felt something then but dismissed it readily. It was different now and he still didn't wish to acknowledge it.
He blinked quickly and in a swirl of golden magic, Apolline Delacour was once more an elderly woman perched on the corner of the coffee table.
"I'm a fucking harpy?!" Even Apolline in all her regal aristocracy managed a small laugh at his outburst.
"My dear, you are so much more than that."
"I'm a wizard. I'm not a bloody bird." Draco's head compressed, in a vise grip if you will as he attempted to make a bit of sense of what he had seen.
"Draco, my dear boy, you are both. It's such a shame really, your parents had ample opportunity to begin your education and yet they refrained. Narcissa, if you don't mind?" Apolline might have smiled, but Draco sensed if she was refused the terrifying bird would make a hasty reappearance.
"Of course Madame. I'll see to afternoon tea." Narcissa placed a small kiss on her son's brow before hurrying from the now stuffy sitting room.
"Your mother was abandoned by her parents on the edge of the forest. They were magical creatures; therefore do not fret over your pureblood status. We do not know the circumstances of the abandonment nor are we apt to investigate such things. It is in the past and in the past is where it shall remain. Needless to say she was taken in by the Blacks and raised accordingly. They hadn't the slightest inkling of what she truly is. There was no way to know, not really, not then. As she grew and aged accordingly, it became obvious to those of us who know better. My family was sent for obviously. It's been in our blood for centuries. We didn't get to her in time and she claimed Lucius before she was aware of what was transpiring.
"Now, first I wish to dispel of the myths. Yes, you have a mate. One person to complete you body and soul for all of eternity. If you do not discover your mate, you shall not die. You will wish you had died, but you shall continue on with a half life. You will never marry or possess the ability to father an heir and eventually you will fade away as if you never existed. Most of our kind choose to end their existence than to suffer through a half life. If are you unable to identify your mate, that is where I come in. I would suppose you've already suffered through the dream. Since you are currently here instead of rushing about to claim her, I'm also assuming her identity was hidden from you." Draco nodded cautiously, still trying to piece together this new information, while tamping down the urge to tear her limb from limb.
"You will need to learn control. You only have one chance. If you find your mate and she refuses you, you will be reduced to excruciating pain for the remainder of your days. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not possess magical pheromones which turn every female into a simpering slag. However, your mate will have an undeniable attraction to you and perhaps she's even denied its very existence to herself. There have been instances of our kind never being able to identify their mate and they were reduced to most pitiful creatures. Others were only able to identify their mate by scent. Their mate's features remained hidden for good reason."
"What...what reason?" Apolline sighed heavily, crossed her long legs and purred. He wasn't aware people had the capable of purring, but then he realised she wasn't exactly a person, was she?
"Lucius was a bit of a bully. Were you aware? I'm assuming you were, considering he is your father. He tormented your mother terribly. Ridiculous, considering her heritage. He hexed her quite badly somewhere between their third and fifth year. He claims it was accidental, but with your father one can never be too sure. She snuck into his common room and cut off his hair. He deserved it, though he'll deny it. Lucius was always quite proud of his hair and to have the person he hated most deny him his most coveted possession...well, it was war between them. When your mother had her dream, she was incapable of discerning her mate. It's a protection of sorts. She sensed him only because his scent clung to her robes after a particularly rough physical altercation. She rushed from her dormitory and immediately marked him, taking away his decision to choose. You see, we might have a mate, the sort which lasts for a lifetime, but that doesn't mean our mates will choose us. It is quite heart breaking when that happens."
"The dreams do not show our mate if there's a chance of rejection. That's what you're saying isn't it?" He gasped, his shoulders curling inward, absorbing the extraordinary ricochet of pain slicing through him. The very thought she existed and would refuse him...
"The way you're feeling right now? That's how you would remain until the end of your days."
"It's excruciating. I can't bear it." He huffed, concentrating on drawing regular breaths. He'd do anything to make it stop, anything at all.
"Could you sense her?" Apolline leaned forward, her elbow on her knee while she stroked her chin.
"I don't..I'm not.."
"Concentrate Draco. You must concentrate. Can you sense your mother? Tell me, what does she smell like to you?" Draco's eyes closed once more and inhaled deeply.
The concentrations of scents swirling in the air confused him for a moment, his tongue flicked between his lips and he discovered he could taste the particles in the air. He quickly dismissed the scents and flavours which were decidedly masculine with the hints of pine, sandalwood and chocolate. Interlaced with such things was...there it was...flowers, various species of flowers, but the most prominent being roses.
"Flowers, mostly roses with hints of orange blossom and even some sort of lily. My father on the other hand reeks of pine and chocolate. I much prefer her scent."
"I'm quite impressed Draco. It took your mother weeks to be able to do such a thing. This will make things much easier for you. Now, I wish for you to delve into the remnants of your dream. You will not remember every moment and I do not expect you too. Though, I suppose it would be safe to assume, she passed you at least once and you were able to sense her. Recall that moment and see if you are able to discern her."
Draco reclined upon the floral sofa, his breaths slow and steady, which pleased Apolline immensely. She rose from her uncomfortable position and slowly wandered the sitting room patiently. She expected it would take him some time.
Apolline rolled her shoulders, prepared to work with Draco Malfoy for the long haul. She supposed he would be abjectly against returning with her to France. She couldn't imagine such a thing going over well with her daughter. She had acquired a distaste for the boy since marrying the eldest Weasley.
While it appeared Draco Malfoy had slipped into a restful slumber, Apolline decided she was quite peckish. She remembered Narcissa promising a tea tray and set off to find her.
Under different circumstances it would have amused Apolline greatly to see Lucius Malfoy nervously pacing while twirling his ridiculously long blonde hair. His fear was palpable and she understood it more than she wished too. Narcissa, at least had the decency to dress quite proper in a particularly striking dark blue dress while she sipped from a delicate china cup. Apolline was of the opinion it most definitely was not filled with tea and heartily approved.
"I was promised a spot of tea." Lucius Malfoy's feet left the ground in a most unbecoming fashion upon spying the intimidating and powerful creature.
He snapped his fingers and a house elf of no consequence procured a tea cup and saucer along with a spread of delicacies.
"I thought this affliction only affected females." Lucius sipped long and hard from his goblet, avoiding the probing blue eyes on all sides.
"Affliction? Really Lucius, is it possible for you to reign in your obvious distaste for that which you unable to comprehend? As for your question, it's a common misconception obviously. However would our race continue without male counterparts? Of course it's been over a century since there happened to be a half-blood..."
"My son is not a half-blood anything! How dare you?!" Apolline rolled her blue eyes, paying no mind to Lord Malfoy's outburst.
"Still quite caught up in your pureblood supremacy. Pity. Whatever shall you do if your son mates with a Muggle? I'm teasing of course, a Muggle would never be chosen. They haven't a touch of magical blood in them. However, a Muggle-born is most definitely not out of the question." Narcissa pinched the thin bridge of her nose as her husband seethed.
"Preposterous. He wouldn't...I mean...it's not possible is it?" Lucius shakily settled into a high back chair, his pallor an unattractive shade of green.
"Does it matter Lucius? Narcissa claimed you immediately and you've been quite content, have you not? Did it matter to you when you discovered her true heritage?"
"I can't imagine another woman in place of my wife. Her heritage was of no consequence. I would be lying if I said it didn't concern my parents. They were quite concerned and wished me to reconsider. It was impossible of course, I already loved her so. She infuriated me, but she challenged me in ways I'd never imagined." Lucius lost himself in a daydream, a light smirk gracing his lips.
"Exactly my point Lucius. Would you deny your son the same joy? Would you deny him his completion? For I tell you today, he will never feel whole without her." Apolline poured a liberal amount of whisky in her tea, offering Lucius the flask with outstretched fingers.
"He says I've hurt her. He says I detest her. I can't imagine..." His eyes widened in horror, his bony fingers fumbling with the clasp of his robe to scratch at his throat.
"While I find that incredibly interesting, it doesn't quite narrow it down now does it? Unless of course you've kept a tally of every young witch you've injured and detested? That would be immensely helpful." Apolline tapped her short fingernails on the mahogany, smiling sweetly, embracing the scathing glower.
"I've never laid a finger on any witch, pureblood or not. I can't imagine to whom he is referring." Lucius managed a disdainful sniff even a midst the leering grin of Apolline and the resigned sigh of his wife.
"You did inadvertently injure that Weasley girl with that ridiculous diary. I can't remember her name but she is the only female child." Narcissa's pointed glare almost had Lucius feeling apologetic, almost.
"Dear Merlin, a Weasley? Anything would be better than a Weasley." Lucius Malfoy's lip curled, imagining future grandchildren covered in soot with flaming red hair as he shivered in derision.
"Anything Lucius? Don't be too hasty..." Apolline smiled, a knowing sort of smile, the sort which instilled fear of a knowledge he did not possess.
He shivered, unable to quell the raised hairs on the back of his neck, or even the gooseflesh which rose on his arms. The creature knew something he did not, of this he was absolutely certain and it unnerved him more than he was willing to admit. While he contemplated the best ways to release the chains of unequivocal trepidation, his son stumbled into the conservatory, his bare feet sliding on the marble.
"Parchment. Fresh ink. Old books. Grass after a rain. Lavender." Draco collapsed in a heap, his forehead pressed against the cool marble.
His limbs shuddered, the strain of movement proving too much while he continued to burn. A thousand needles bored into the slick skin of his spine, his arms unable to keep him aloft. With the determination of his superior breeding he lifted the heavy emotional mass burrowing into his shoulders and met the blue eyes of Apolline Delacour.
He gasped, not in pain, but in surprise as he felt her sifting through the confines of his mind quite easily. He didn't have the strength required to halt her meandering. He didn't want her to know. He didn't want anyone to know. His father would never accept her. She would never accept him. He'd be forced to live a half life and as the torture of that particular thought ripped through him, Apolline gained entry to that which he begged remain hidden. She paused in the midst of his dream, studying the witch's profile, taking in every aspect of her very persona before retreating. He closed his tired grey eyes and slumped onto the floor in a dreamless slumber.
"You certainly have your work cut out for you my boy."