Disclaimer: Harry Potter, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. They are used here for entertainment purposes only.
Warnings: None yet.
Spoilers: Written Post-OotP.
Every fall since he was a small child, Narcissa Malfoy would dress Draco up very nicely and take him shopping. On these annual trips she would buy him toys and trinkets, and model dress robes for his amusement. When he was five, she'd bought him a tiny broom that flew about his head. He'd chased it around the Manor for months before it escaped through a window into the sprawling gardens of their home, never to be seen again.
He'd cried and sulked for a week.
When he was six, there'd been a real live snitch inspired by his early, yet intense, interest in the sport of Quidditch.
It had disappeared in three weeks, and he'd thrown a tantrum not unlike those Narcissa had been prone to in her youth.
This went on for many years, and Draco soon developed a gift for losing things out his bedroom window (though he held out hope that one day he'd find it all). When he was seven, there was a Special Edition™ one-time-only Super Chocolate Frog™, with the rare Evil Lord Grindelwauld card... which his chocolate frog decided to eat right in front of him before hopping out the window. When he was eight, his mother had bought him something she was sure he couldn't lose: dress robes. Normally, he hated dress robes, but this time they were made 'Quidditch-style' with his then favorite team's logo on the breast.
They went missing in the laundry four days later, and several house elves paid dearly. Draco searched the gardens on a whim for days before accepting that they were, indeed, lost for all time.
When he was nine, she bought him a tiny pewter dragon that would open its eyes and scowl at him. Once, the tiny beast spit out a jet of flame and singed his eyebrows.
He didn't look very hard for it when it went missing.
When he was ten he'd developed an interest in potions, so she'd bought him a Little Wizards Potion Set™ complete with real potion ingredients and plastic vials for storage. He'd been understandably upset to find it inexplicably gone off of his worktable in the den a few days after he'd gotten it.
When he was eleven, the trauma stopped, mainly because Lucius informed Narcissa that he did not want another temper tantrum before the boy left for school. So, she bought him a big, black, snow tipped owl to take with him to his first year at Hogwarts.
Because that was supposed to fly away.
That year was also the first year in which she dragged her poor son to Gringotts. It was early in the morning, and the bank had just opened. It was the first time Draco had ever been to the establishment, and he spent nearly the whole time in well-checked awe of the high, sloping ceilings. As they sat primly in the cart to their vault, he took a chance and looked over into the dark depths, only to see something with very large teeth smile up at him.
He moved closer to his mother.
She gave him an encouraging smile and then stared eagerly forward again, almost as if she couldn't wait to get a look at their vault. The goblin with them soon slowed to a stop next to a big, mechanical door that looked just like all of the other big, mechanical doors they'd passed. There wasn't even a marking near the door to inform a visitor which particular vault they were standing in front of. The goblin motioned to Narcissa, and she squealed before rushing forward and jamming her key into the lock.
Draco met the goblin's eyes only to see them rolled heavenwards.
The doors heaved open to reveal several very empty shelves. In fact, there were hundreds of shelves in various sizes and shapes. Little cubbies on one side and spaces big enough to fit a bed on the other.
All mysteriously empty.
Narcissa turned on her heel and stared at the little goblin, who was looking around the vault, astonished. Nothing had ever been stolen from Gringotts before-
"Thank you. We'll take it from here."
"Yes, mistress," he eeped, before scurrying to wait outside the open vault. If the lady was unconcerned that her vault was empty, who was he to care?
Draco looked around the empty room, and then patiently back up at his mother.
"This," Narcissa intoned solemnly, "is the Malfoy fortune." She spread her arms and let her head fall back dramatically.
Draco looked around again, then back at his mother, still paused in the center of the room.
"I'm going to have to get a job, aren't I? That's what this is about. Look, mum-"
"Oh, dear." She cut him off, looking bemused. "I'd forgotten..." she smiled and pulled her wand from her robes, fixing it in between his eyes.
To be fair, he only panicked for a second before realizing his mother would never hex him.
Draco felt dizzy for a moment, and then he was blinking at the sudden brightness in the room. Silks, jewels and chests were laying about in most of the shelves. Some were open and overflowing, while others were locked with giant padlocks. Gold Galleons flowed out around his feet and bunched up in piles against the walls. The room looked just like a real treasure trove should.
"Yes. I know. This is the cheap stuff."
Draco looked at her in surprise, but she only smiled and whirled around towards the back of the room. She began to move things out of the way, and he stepped forward to help her. Soon, they had cleared a path to the very last shelf which stretched from the floor of the vault to it's ceiling and was about five feet wide. This shelf at least was actually empty. Narcissa brought her wand forth and tapped three times in quick succession on the back wall.
A shudder swept through the floor of the vault and the wood swung back to reveal a black, cavernous, gaping hole. Narcissa gave her son one last, wicked look before disappearing into the darkness. He bit his lip and looked back at the bright treasure behind him.
A hand wrapped into the front of his dress robes and propelled him forward. He just barely avoided tripping over his own legs as he stumbled into the new, dank room, and he immediately clutched at his mother's hand. Her free hand reached above his head and slammed the door shut behind him, prompting Draco to dig his fingers into his mother's palm.
She scoffed and tugged at her hand. "Honestly, Draco. One would think you were afraid of the dark. Lumos."
He would have taken offense to that, if it weren't for the fact that his mother's now-lit wand revealed the menacing scowl of a past Malfoy, his portrait hanging just out of arms reach. Wild, bright blond hair hung down the man's sloping shoulders, and wide, light blue eyes were narrowed dangerously. The signature, aristocratic nose of the Malfoy line had obviously been broken at least once in this particular Malfoy's young life, and his pale visage was marked by a scar that had been slashed from the base of his left ear to mid-cheek.
He was wearing long, black robes, cut in a medieval style, hundreds of years out of fashion. Behind him loomed several sturdy bookcases, filled and overflowing with books labeled in fuzzy script. The man, who had finally stopped glowering at them, and now only stared, clutched one such book in his hand.
"Ah, Narcissa. You've brought the latest of my progeny down for a visit, hmm? How thoughtful. I was only saying to Salazar the other day that-"
"Yes, yes Loki. We've come to see the Ambition."
Loki Malfoy, Draco's brain stuttered to a halt and he stared up at the portrait on the wall opposite them, wide eyed. This, this, this young man was his great great great great... so many greats of a grandfather, and Draco had had no idea there was a portrait of him anywhere.
Draco tugged at his mother's dress robes, and got tutted into silence.
"How rude, Narcissa. I always said to Lucius' mother that her son's bride would embarrass her into an early grave."
"Nonsense," Narcissa purred up at the lecturing portrait, "she's still quite alive. We visit her at St. Mungo's every other month."
"You're an awful, disgraceful woman, I have no idea what Lucius was thinking-"
"You know what he was thinking, Loki, and you know what he was thinking with."
"How dare you make such insinuations in front of children?!"
Draco wasn't quite following the conversation, but it sounded interesting...
"For Merlin's sake, Loki, I was referring to the ring!"
"Of course, you low-brow buffoon. I'll believe that the moment I believe that blonde is your natural color."
"You are such a bitch!"
"What on earth do you want to show the child the Ambition for? You know very well he can't touch it yet."
"Do I?" She studied her nails, suddenly casual, and the painting switched its attention to Draco.
"You can't touch it."
"I can if Mother says I can," Draco said smugly, having lost his respect for the portrait the moment it had begun to insult his mum. "Is your paint in need of a refreshing charm? You're awfully rude for a portrait."
The man's eyes widened in surprise, and then he huffed down at the blond boy. "And you take after your mother."
"Thank you," Narcissa and Draco answered in unison.
"Now, Loki," Narcissa was back to purring, "if you don't mind, I'd like to show my son the family legacy."
"You mean my family legacy, insufferable girl."
"Why, Loki! We're relatives, if you'll remember. It's our family legacy."
"I wish I could forget," the man mumbled, and then sighed and swung open. Behind him was another cavern, this one decidedly not empty, and not at all dark.
"-and I said to him, 'Your Highness, you know very well that I can't run away with you, I'm promised to a Malfoy.'" A high pitched, grating voice spilled from inside, and Narcissa looked as if she was biting back a feminine squeal. The sounds from within drew to an abrupt halt, and then there was a squeal.
"Visitors! Loki, why didn't you warn me? I'm hardly dressed!" A young woman shrieked from one of the portraits, of which Draco counted nine. The room into which they'd stepped was a perfect, circular cavern, and each of the portraits was placed an equal distance from the others. Behind him, Loki's portrait swung closed and Draco whirled to find Loki scowling down at him again, from this side of the door, now left-handed.
"Nereid, dear," came the same grating voice that had been telling the story they'd interrupted, "you're always hardly dressed. Whatever possessed Willis to have you painted in that outfit, I'll never know."
Draco turned again to take in each one of the portraits, trying to guess which one of his relatives was portrayed where. The young woman who'd been yelling her head off a moment ago, was throwing on a robe over her skimpy red lingerie, and a man in a portrait across the room from her was chuckling good naturedly and leering at her.
"I was thinking that I'd like to look at my wife in it for the rest of eternity."
"Oh, Willis, you charming man!"
Beside the young man-Willis, Draco assumed-a slightly older man with darker blond hair lifted a glass of amber liquid in salute to Draco and threw it back, then slammed the empty cup onto a nearby wooden counter and picked up a painted decanter. The nameplate below his portrait named him 'Liam Malfoy'. Next was a Loki. On the other side of him was another man with nearly white blond hair, perfect aristocratic features, neatly dressed, and looking down his nose at Draco. His nameplate read 'Daimon Malfoy,' and Draco fought the urge to stare in rampant curiosity at the patriarch of their family. Beside the portrait of his long-dead ancestor sat a redheaded woman, who nodded to Draco and then looked quickly back into her book. It looked at first to be a text of some sort, before the words clarified for a moment as she shifted, and Draco realized she was reading a romance novel. The nameplate below her portrait read 'Eirene Malfoy'. Beside her was Nereid, the now conservatively dressed young blonde, who beamed down at him.
"Hello, there, little boy. Are you the newest Malfoy? My, you're young to be brought here."
"Nereid, darling," came the grating voice again from the portrait right next to her, identified by the shiny gold nameplate as 'Maened Malfoy', "don't talk to him like that. He's not a baby, he's a strapping young lad, who will hopefully follow in the footsteps of the greater men in his lineage."
Maened, a woman with dark, raven hair, shot a look of pure disgust at the drunken Liam across from her, and he toasted her scowl before throwing back his drink.
"Yes, mother." Came the bright response from Nereid, and Maened scowled.
"Don't call me that. Just because the damn ring chose you from whatever idiot wish Willis made, is no reason to think you're a part of this family."
"It wasn't an idiot wish, Mother," came Willis' cheery voice from across the room, "I wished to have someone who would keep me happy. What else could I wish for, with you and Father as a shining example of marriage."
"I was a fine choice in wife for a Malfoy, wasn't I, Liam?"
The drunken man snorted.
Draco moved past Maened to the picture directly across from Loki and the entrance, and found himself looking up into the deep, dark eyes of a portrait labeled in proud letters as, 'SALAZAR SLYTHERIN.'
"Mum! Salazar Slytherin is in our vault!"
"I know dear. Don't embarrass yourself in front of your relatives, now." Narcissa had broken off her conversation with the woman next to Salazar's portrait. 'Nyx Malfoy' was the name of the woman with white-blonde, curly locks and cold blue eyes that gave Draco a scathing look.
"Mind your manners, child. It's few there are who are lucky enough to be given the Malfoy name, I'd suggest you respect it." Her voice was heavy with Scottish brogue, and Draco nodded shyly up at her. Her scowl softened slightly and she nodded at him before turning back to his mother.
Draco looked back up at the smirking, dark man and back across the room at Loki, who was obviously mooning at them across the room.
"Why does he keep looking at you like that?"
Salazar said nothing on the subject, but leaned down so far that Draco was almost sure he'd fall out of the frame. "Young Mr. Malfoy. It is always a pleasure to meet those of your line. Tell me, will you be attending my school?"
"Yes, sir. In just a few weeks. I'll be attending with Harry Potter."
The cavern drew immediately silent and then Nereid began to try to get Draco's attention. "How is dear Tommy since that dreadful boy nearly killed him?"
"Who?" Draco asked, and Narcissa let out a forced laugh.
"Sweetheart, we're not here to talk about Harry Potter, okay?"
"But I'll get to meet him and be in his classes and maybe even be his friend and everything!"
Maened gasped at Draco's bouncing enthusiasm, but Nyx cut in before anyone could respond. "That's the best idea I've heard in a long while, Draco. Do your best to extend the Malfoy courtesy to him. He may be a powerful ally in the future."
"Nyx!" Nereid interrupted, as if Nyx had said something superbly scandalous. "The boy is completely-"
"I'll hear no more on the matter," came a harsh, gravelly voice from the portrait of Daimon Malfoy, adjacent to Loki's. Nereid shut her mouth with a sharp click, and Maened almost looked as if she would protest, but bit her words back. Beside Daimon, Eirene shoved herself further into her seat and brought her book up to cover her face.
Liam took another drink in the silence, and beside him Willis was sending comforting looks at a shocked Nereid. Loki was staring at Draco now, instead of Salazar, and refused to look away.
"Of course, husband," Nyx smiled demurely across the room at Daimon and then the conversations started back up again. Loki's gaze drifted back to Salazar, who met him with an equally intense look. Nyx began to talk to Narcissa again, and Nereid and Willis began to flirt while Maened broke in to insult Nereid every few moments. Liam watched in glee when his nearly empty bottle refilled itself as the magic of the paints brought it back to it's original, full state.
Draco bypassed his mother and stood looking up at the last portrait. In it was a younger man with bright blond hair who looked much like Draco's own father, but obviously wasn't. His hair was unkempt in a way that Lucius Malfoy would never have allowed, but just the same length, and he was bent over a sketch pad, pencil in hand, drawing Draco's mother. 'Evan Malfoy,' gave Draco a name to put to the face of a man who looked almost exactly like his father, and after staring for a moment, Draco turned to walk back to more interesting paintings.
A soft, low voice halted him, Evan having decided to say something to the boy after all. "So you're Draco, hmm?"
"Yes," Draco answered uneasily.
The man looked up from his sketch of Narcissa directly into Draco's eyes. "Why are you here?"
"Mother brought me."
The man smiled slightly and then gestured to the painting of the hidden redhead across from him. "That is my wife. Lovely, isn't she?"
"Father says red hair is nasty and common."
Evan shook his head, amused. "No, it's fiery and beautiful. She's my wild child. Do you want to hear something you won't hear anyone else in this room say in a thousand years?"
Draco raised an eyebrow and leaned close when Evan gestured for him to.
"I love her."
Draco pulled abruptly back and laughed shortly. "Father says there's no such thing as love."
"Isn't there? That's quite a pessimistic view of the world for an eleven-year-old to have." Evan shook his head at Draco again, a hint of sadness creeping into his voice, "You see that man next to her? Daimon Malfoy is the Malfoy who earned this family's fortune. We consider him the first Malfoy, and he has and always will be what our offspring will model themselves after. They will all fail. His son, Loki, the man who opened the door for you and your mother, failed him in that the partner he would have chosen would have ended the Malfoy line before it even began."
"Who?" Draco was actually quite curious, having been given a family history lesson from his father the summer before, and having learnt nothing about Loki's wife. The woman appeared in none of the texts he'd been given to read, though they had mentioned their son, Liam.
"That is a subject for another discussion, young man. Suffice it to say that you would not be standing before me if it weren't for the intervention of Loki's mother, the lovely Nyx."
Nyx looked up from her chatter with Narcissa and smiled at Evan, who smiled back.
"Nyx and Loki's good friend Salazar Slytherin-"
"Is that why he's in our vault?"
"No, child. As I said, that is a subject for another discussion. Nyx had Salazar fashion the Malfoy Ambition in the hope that it would help Loki see what possibilities his future held."
"The Malfoy Ambition?"
"That." Evan pointed to a table in the middle of the circular room, upon which sat a pillow, upon which sat a ring. It was slight and golden, a two-headed snake, one at each end of it's body, twined around a golden band, and each head gripped one side of a large, bright diamond in its mouth.
"It's a ring." Draco supplied the portrait instructing him in Malfoy legacy.
"It is the ring, Draco. The Malfoy engagement ring."
"It's not a normal ring, Draco, it has very distinct properties. It helps the heir to the Malfoy fortune choose a suitable bride."
"A girl? Mother," Draco whined, bringing Nyx and Narcissa's conversation to a stop, "is that what you brought me here for? To pick out a girl?"
"You're not to be trusted to pick out anything, Draco. Malfoys for generations after these ancestors have trusted the ring to pick for them."
Narcissa huffed and moved behind her incredulous son, propelling him towards the table. "Yes, now. I'm not going to force you to get married this young, Draco, but I want you to make your wish while your father isn't around to screw it up."
"Fine," Draco grabbed for the ring and scowled at his mother, "I wish I didn't have to marry a girl."
There was a moment of stark silence, and then Narcissa began choking as the portraits stared on in horror. "Draco, I was thinking we would discuss your wish before you made it! That's not the way it works! You have to wish for the qualities that you'd find admirable in a future wife! Like manners and sophistication. You have to wish for a suitable bride."
Draco snorted, gripping the ring tighter, "I wish for someone who I could talk to Quidditch about."
"Draco! Give me that ring before you make it worse!"
Draco skipped away from his mother, smiling smugly. "I wish for someone who won't bore me, ever."
Narcissa had stopped chasing him for a moment, and was leaning, panting against the wall between Daimon and Loki's portraits, gaping at him where he stood across the room from her between Nyx and Salazar. "Oh, dear God."
"I told you he was too young to see the ring," Loki murmured at her, smiling across the room at Salazar, who shook his head and looked down at Draco in amusement.
From across the room, Eirene slapped her book down and stood in her portrait, and spoke the first words she'd said the whole afternoon, in a sweet, clear voice that brought a smile to her husband's face. "For true love!"
"-for true love. No, wait..."
Maened screeched, "Eirene! Stop giving the boy ideas!"
Nereid, in the meantime was trying to get Salazar's attention, "Does it grant more than one wish?"
Salazar shrugged, "It's love magic, Nereid. It's tricky."
Nyx scowled at him, "It's not love magic. It's a locator spell. Isn't it?"
"Love magic and a locator spell."
"I can't believe this," muttered Maened. "This is horrific. In all my years, I never-"
"Shut up, woman," bellowed her drunken husband, "and if that ring is a form of love magic, I'll eat my shoe!"
The portraits began to argue heatedly, and Draco stared down at the little ring in his hand that had started the whole mess. Before he could utter another word, his mother's voice called a stop to the yelling.
All the portraits stared at her.
"I can fix this."
"I can. Draco, give me the ring, honey."
"Don't, 'But, Mum' me, young man. You are in a lot of trouble. Hand me that ring this instant."
"Yes, Mum." Draco slunk over to his mother's side and handed her the Ambition. She stared down at it for a moment, then withdrew her wand. She hesitated, and all of a sudden, her wand was once again pressed to his forehead.
"Obliviate!" There was a spark of power that brought silence to the room, and then nothing.
Draco blinked, and then his eyes fluttered closed for a moment, and then, weakly, "Mum?"
Narcissa nodded shortly and stalked over to the center table to slap the ring down on its pillow. "Why don't you wait out in the caverns with the nice Goblin for Mummy? All right, Draco?"
"But, I thought you were going to show me the real treasure?"
"Perhaps another day."
"But Mum! I want to talk to the portraits!"
"Out in the hall now, Draco. We'll be late for your appointment at Madam Malkins, and your father is waiting for us there."
"Yes, mother," said Draco sulkily.
Loki's portrait swung open and Draco trudged through it, throwing one last, hopeful look over his shoulder. It swung shut with a clang behind him.
"Are you insane?" Maened shrieked at Narcissa.
"Everything will be fine," Narcissa assured the portraits, which were in alternate stages of disbelief and anger.
"This is a bad plan, Narcissa," Nereid intoned.
"It's an awful plan," Loki agreed.
Liam had begun to laugh, which was hard to do as he was also attempting to down another glass of the rich brandy he'd been drinking all afternoon.
"It wasn't a bad wish, as wishes go," Evan offered, not looking up from his wife's heated gaze across the room. "True love isn't a total loss."
Eirene blushed and sat back into her chair to pick up her book again.
Beside Evan, Willis was shaking his head. "But... well, it won't work, will it?"
Everyone stared at him.
"I mean, his wishes will have to cancel each other out, won't they? Unless his true love is a boy."
One by one the portraits relaxed, and Narcissa sighed. "Good. Fine. Then, let us never speak of this again, or you'll find yourselves burning on the rubbish pile."
"Narcissa!" came Nyx' shocked voice in reprimand.
"I mean it. Lucius is not to know about this. I wouldn't push me, if I were you. We'll be back in a few years to make the proper wish and find me a daughter-in-law worthy of the Malfoy name."
The portraits exchanged uneasy glances, but Daimon answered for them. "As you wish, Narcissa. But, if I were you, I wouldn't threaten us again. Or you'll find there are consequences to your actions. And you'd better hope this works. I, for one, know that it is entirely possible that a son of our line is capable of loving another man."
Narcissa nodded shortly, and Loki swung inward to let her out, wanting to avoid the looks he was sure to be getting from the rest of the portraits.
Short, clipped footsteps sounded in the black anteroom to the Ambition's hiding place, and then the portrait swung closed, and Narcissa had to gather herself before making her way out of the vault.