Disclaimer: The characters named and referenced in this story are property of J.K.Rowling. But I doubt she'd want them after what I've done to them. Sorry, Jo.
AN: This started as a rather smaller fic, less than a page in length, though essentially the same story as that which you are about to read. I wrote it at the nibbling of a rabid plotbunny over a year ago and proceeded to utterly forget all about it. A twist of fate brought it back to me: my computer died and went into computer hospital, and when I got it back the Recent Files list on Word had been reset to months earlier. And the topmost file was the predecessor to this story. I read it over, realised it was a concept worthy of a bit more exploration, and proceeded to write this version, which implies a bit more of the psychology of it all. I also proceeded to dabble in the second person, after reading a fabulous DracoHarry fic (Threadbare by Marine Galdeone; find it on Schnoogle under the Astronomy Tower) that was written entirely in the second person.
Enough of my ramblings; onto the story. You should be aware that it contains Dark Arts, abuse and violence, and it not for the squeamish.
You are thankful for the window.
It's an odd thing to be thankful for, because it isn't even a proper window. Simply a hole in the stone, perfectly square. You know that if you could get up close to it, it would be about the size of your palm, but it's too high up to reach. Your ancestors, building the manor centuries ago, didn't want prisoners to be able to escape the dungeons.
So the window is twice your height above the ground, and covered with wards and hexes, and only the size of your palm, anyway. From the ground it looks approximately the size of your thumbnail, held at arm's length. You know this because you held all your nails up to the light, once, pinched between finger and thumb, to see which ones blocked the light completely. The thumbnail was best, though a bit of light escaped around the sides, like an eclipse.
The light would have come through the nail, too, but it was covered with dried blood from when he tore it off. So it didn't get through, which is a pity because you think it would have looked pretty.
But the light is pretty anyway, and you suppose that is enough. During the day, when you're conscious, the light shines through the hole and makes a square patch of gold on the stone floor. It makes the stones warmer, so you follow it around as it moves, slowly, across the floor, because you don't like the cold. It hurts to move, especially when he's visited you recently, but you don't mind. It's worth it for the warmth.
You remember that the light comes from something called the sun, which is a big ball of light and warmth, up in the sky, and the reason the light moves around your cell is that the sun is moving in the sky. And when the sunlight is blood red that means it's setting, and the light is about to vanish and leave you in darkness and cold.
You think you're a little like the sun, because your hair is the same colour. You can't remember what colour your eyes are, but your skin when it's clean is the same pale tone as the sunlight in winter, when it's weak, and you are weak too. And you move across the cell in the same way the sunlight does, every day. And you go red before everything goes black too, just like the sun, and you wonder whether the red light is the sun's blood, and whether the sun is unconscious at night.
If the red light is the sun's blood, then who is shedding it? The moon, perhaps, which makes sense. His eyes are grey, like the moon, and just as cold and cruel as the pale silver light that doesn't warm you at all.
Perhaps the sun and moon are father and son, just like you and he are. That would be fitting.
'Malfoys do not play with house elves,' Lucius said coldly. 'Malfoys do not play. Malfoys do not leave their rooms at midnight. Malfoys do not climb through their bedroom windows like common criminals. Malfoys do not run around on the lawns in their night clothes.'
Draco shivered. His night clothes were thin cotton, and damp with the dew that was already turning to frost on the grass outside. And Lucius, of course, had ordered him to sit on the very highest stair of the sweeping marble staircase that dominated the entrance hall, which was possibly even colder than the frost at this time of year.
'Malfoys always behave properly,' Lucius continued, slowly pacing across the second-floor balcony, looking out over the hall below, all cold, pale stone bathed in cloying grey shadows. His footsteps, clacking sharp as bones against the marble, were the only sound. 'Malfoys do not show such weaknesses as affection. Malfoys do not love. Malfoys do not care, and especially not for house elves. Do you understand me, Draco?'
A silent, brief nod.
Lucius drew his wand from his cloak, and almost lazily flicked it towards the boy. 'Crucio.'
Draco screamed, his face twisting in pain, and crumpled. He slid off the stair, his scream changing in tone as he realised, through the pain of the Cruciatius, that he was falling. Lucius kept the wand trained on his son all the way down the staircase, watching coldly as the child almost bounced from stair to stair, tumbling to the bottom, his voice one long unending scream of agony. About halfway down there came the hideous crack of bones breaking.
Lucius didn't remove the Cruciatius until Draco was collapsed in a crumpled heap at the bottom, and then he leant on the balcony railings and listened. He heard harsh breathing, as of a child in pain or frightened, and a weak, dry sob.
'Malfoys do not cry,' he added, into the silence, and then turned and went back to his bedroom, leaving his son at the bottom of the stairs. As long as he was alive, Lucius didn't care.
Draco was five.
Your cell doesn't have any doors. There are magical ways of getting in and out of it, passwords and wards and spells. You used to know them, but now the passwords have changed and you don't have your wand any more, and you don't think you could speak the spells if you tried.
When was the last time you spoke? You don't speak in here, because he never speaks to you except for curses, and the sunlight doesn't have a voice, or ears to hear you. At first you tried to make him let you go, with pleas or bribes, promises or threats, but there wasn't anything you could do, so you fell silent. Mute, except for screaming.
It must have been years; you can't remember the last time you spoke. He told the world that you're dead. Buried in the ground, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, nothing but bones left. Well. You are buried, you suppose, and you might as well be dead. You don't want to actually die, because you will miss the sunlight, and death is as cold and grey as your cell is when the sunlight goes in winter.
But at least winter gives you a warning. He never does. One moment you are alone in the cell, and then there is a crack, like glass or bones or stone breaking, and he walks through the wall.
You sit in your corner, in your pathetic patch of sunlight, and look at him. Once you would have screamed, fought, threatened, tried to escape. Or pleaded with him, the man tied to you by blood, to let you go, to free you, you'll do anything.
But he never listened, so you gave up. You just wait and watch and hope it doesn't last too long. Hope he uses the nice, simple curses, the quick and clean ones that are just pain. You aren't afraid, because you've been afraid of him for so long that fear is now normality and you don't even notice it anymore.
He walks over to stand in front of you, the sound of his feet sharp on the cold, dead floor, and it annoys you. You like the silence. Sunlight never makes a noise. But he blocks the light for a moment, standing in front of it, and you glance up at him.
He looks the same as always, though he must have changed in the past few years, grown older. His hair is the same colour as yours, because you are of the same blood after all, but his hair is cleaner, neater. You don't have a wand for a cleaning spell, and he doesn't give you enough water to wash it properly, but you make do with a bit of your drinking water. You want a hairbrush, too, to get the tangles out, and scissors to cut it to a more comfortable length. Malfoys should always look presentable.
Even in captivity, even being tortured. That's no excuse.
He raises his wand then, and you wait, watching him dully. His expression is ice; it makes you think of the winter winds which sometimes blow in through your little window and make you cold. He looks like the winds would if they were human, and he takes away your sunlight.
It starts as a horrible ache inside your leg, as though your bones are going numb or trembling or being slowly squeezed, only they aren't going numb because it starts to hurt, and you screw your eyes closed. Malfoys don't scream, you remember that from lessons with him, but then there is a cracking sound and a rush of agony from the bone and you can't help it.
It doesn't stop. The bone keeps on shaking, being squeezed, and you can feel it cracking inside your flesh, under your skin, you can feel it shattering, splintering into tiny needles of bone with pointed ends, and oh, it hurts, it hurts so you can't remember how to breathe or think because there is nothing but the pain, and you want your sunlight back…
There is the briefest of pauses between pains, a heartbeat, and your heart is beating so fast that one heartbeat is no time at all, and you know that if you move your leg the agony will start again, so you keep still. But it starts anyway.
Only now it's worse, because the thousand needles of bone are moving.
They shift slowly, agonisingly, and you scream again as one of them pierces your flesh from the inside, because you know what this spell does, and it burrows its way through your flesh, a thin sharp needle of pain. And then the rest of the needles join it, thousands of them forcing their way through wasted muscle, through skin, shards of your own bone forcing their way through your flesh, cutting and slicing through. They break the surface, and your open your eyes to see the splinters of bone rising from your skin, ivory covered with crimson, and then you think you faint.
Malfoys don't faint.
Lucius, by custom, held formal dinners every other Saturday. There could be anywhere from five to fifty guests in attendance; Death Eaters, social climbers, wealthy Purebloods, or the people with whom Lucius had business dealings. Legal or illegal.
As the Malfoy heir, Draco was required to attend from his eleventh birthday onwards, socialising and conversing with his father's guests, learning to make a good impression, to say and do the right things. When the night was over, Lucius would call him to his study, and tell him everything he'd done wrong. Perhaps he'd changed the subject too quickly in a boring conversation, or laughed a little too insincerely at a particularly bad joke, overfilled his wineglass or not filled his guests' enough.
There was always something he'd done wrong, and however slight the error, he was always punished for it. Punish meant Dark curses, and his father's repertoire was vast; Draco counted himself lucky if he got away with a Cruciatius. At least that was only pain, at least when it was over there were nothing but aches and twinges to cope with. The Ministry called the Cruciatius Unforgivable; that only showed their complete ignorance of what Dark Arts could do.
It went on the same for years; every fortnight of the holidays – in school he was safe – a new error, a new punishment. Draco never made the same mistake twice. He held onto the hope that, one day, he would be called into his father's study after a dinner and be told that he'd done everything right, that he'd made no errors at all. He was realistic, so he didn't expect much from his father, no open admissions of pride, no congratulations. A nod of the head, a cool word, a night without punishment. That was all he wanted, but he coveted it, craved it as a blind man craves the light.
And then that night came.
Draco did everything perfectly and he knew it. Every remark had been faultless, every gesture precise, every smile flawless and every topic of conversation aptly chosen. He had made the right allusions, the right comments, displayed the right thoughts and beliefs and the right attitudes. He had been perfect.
He was called to his father's study as usual, glowing with pride in himself. Lucius was sitting at his desk, writing a letter, and didn't look up when his son came in. Draco waited patiently, watching his father hungrily, waiting for the nod, the word that meant he'd finally succeeded, he had won.
Lucius finished his letter and folded it, then pushed it aside and turned his attention to his son. Draco could almost feel his heart stop beating in anticipation; this was it.
But instead of the expected cool word – You made no mistakes tonight, Draco – he saw his father raise his wand, his face calm and placid, and say, 'Sanguis Torquere.'
Draco knew the spell, could already feel the blood twisting and writhing beneath his skin, and he stared at his father in shock. 'What did I do wrong?' he asked, his voice barely above a whisper; the vessels in his throat were already thickening, tightening. He clenched his fists.
Lucius was calm as always, sitting back in his chair, utterly relaxed. 'You were perfect,' he replied mildly, watching with a kind of detached interest as the veins in his son's wrist fought and twisted and pulsed under his skin. 'Perfection is suspicious; some small flaw is always desirable.'
'No,' Draco whispered, a small, cold shard of cynical hatred already crystallising in his chest; he should have known that his father would never let him escape, never let him win. 'That's not fair.'
He flinched suddenly, pressing his clenched fists to his chest; the pressure from the capillaries beneath his fingernails was building, forcing the nail away from the skin, and he whimpered in pain, his eyes tightly closed.
'Malfoys do not show weakness,' Lucius reminded him firmly. 'And I never said I was fair,'
Draco couldn't answer; the pain was too great. A thin line of blood soaking down his shirt betrayed the fact that his fingernails were tearing themselves off, forced away by the pressure of the blood, and his skin was writhing. Lucius watched, detached, as a vein forced itself out of the skin on his son's hand, slithering and twisting across it like a snake before opening, spilling hot crimson blood. Quickly spreading patches of red on his clothes showed that the vessels there were bursting, too.
Draco was on his knees by now, fists clutched to his chest. Blood was pouring from his tightly closed eyes; the veins in his eyelids would have been one of the first to go. He coughed suddenly, and spat up blood. The lungs.
Lucius watched until Draco keeled slowly over and collapsed to the floor, unconscious, before raising his wand again to repair enough of the damage to ensure his son would live. That done, he turned back to his letters, ignoring the pale boy where he lay in a drying pool of blood.
He's still there when you awake. You can't have been unconscious for long, then, and somehow you take pride in that, even though you'd really prefer it if you'd been out long enough for him to have become bored with you and left.
He is watching you, no expression on his face but disgust. Which is all his fault; if he left you alone, if he gave you more water and soap and clean clothes, he wouldn't have to be disgusted. Malfoys hate dirtiness, both literal and metaphorical.
When you shift a little, trying to see the sunlight – it has moved a little across the floor – you note that your leg is whole and healed again. You know better than to feel grateful for this, though; he just doesn't want you to die too soon. He wants to have as much fun with you as possible; he's had years so far of watching his own family's blood spill out over the stones of the cell his ancestors built.
He will have many more years.
But you know better than to ask for water, for cleanliness, because that is part of his fun. Even if it repulses him so be near a creature with hair hopelessly tangled, filled with grease and dirt and dried blood, a creature with filthy skin mangled by old scars, with old clothes, unwashed, torn and shredded and by now barely even decent. You have so little of your old pride left, now. Where did it go?
You note that he is wearing what you would bet are the latest wizarding fashions, perfectly clean and without even a wrinkle. You wouldn't bet money because you don't have any; perhaps you could bet some of your water or the food that the house elves bring.
They aren't the kind of robes you torture someone in, especially when things are likely to get bloody, but you know why he's wearing them. The clothes in themselves are a kind of torture, reminding you that once you had fine, elegant robes and well-brushed hair and clean skin.
While you are thinking this he lifts his wand with a cruel smirk, watching you with the glittering of malice in his eyes, and you wait. Eventually he will leave you, or you'll fall unconscious again and he'll get bored with waiting, or perhaps he'll kill you. Which you don't want, because he has taken so much from you already and you don't want to lose anything else.
So you watch hopelessly as the next curse comes down. There is nothing else you can do, after all.
'Sangelidus,' he says, and you flinch, expecting a pain that doesn't come. This unnerves you, because while instant, agonising pain is unpleasant at least you know what's happening. But now he could have done anything to you, and it lurks in the future like a bad memory, a nightmare. You watch his amused face with a feeling of foreboding, and your blood runs cold.
It takes you a moment to realise that this time it is not a metaphor.
Your blood really is running cold: you can feel it pulsing through your wrist, through the thick artery in your neck. Slower than usual. Sluggish and icy, and you gasp for air. Partly from shock and partly from lack of oxygen, because the blood is flowing too slowly to carry it.
The cold is everywhere. Not only under the skin, but deep inside. The blood flowing through your heart is thick and slushy and half-frozen and you can feel it. Around your spine, coiled in your stomach, cold red ice moving slow as glaciers through the vessels.
You have never been so cold. Not even in the depths of winter, when the sunlight's gone away and you have nothing but stone to sleep on, stone so cold that snow would be as warm as blankets. Never been this cold, and you can feel your skin whitening.
You feel light-headed. You feel as though you've died, and the house-elves chipped the deepest grave they could out of frozen midwinter earth. And buried you there. Too cold for even the worms to survive, so you didn't decay, just lay there through an unending winter, with earth as hard and grey and lifeless as stones.
He told everyone that you died, you think through the impossible coldness that bites and burns and turns warm life into frozen corpses. So perhaps you are dead. Perhaps this is all a dream; perhaps this is Hell, although you'd have thought it'd be warmer. Though the Tibetans had cold Hells, for evil acts performed by calculation, and you've certainly done enough of those. The Vikings had a cold Hell too.
And you remember hearing, once, that after the initial cold shock, freezing to death is reasonably peaceful. Can you die twice? But you'll miss the sunlight. They don't have sunlight in Hell. So that means you must still be alive, because there is sunlight here, it is the only thing he can't take away from you, except for life.
And then you feel warmth inside you, and movement, and it feels like a monsoon or torrent or deluge, a flood of incredible warmth like you've never felt before, and you remember that he wouldn't let you die, not so soon, not while he can still have fun with you.
If only he would die. You imagine, so firmly it feels like memory, pointing your wand at him and hexing and hexing and hexing until there is nothing left of him. Then you can stay down here and watch the sunshine in peace.
It never happens.
'I hate you.'
Lucius shrugged, as elegant as always. Hate, love… they were meaningless. 'Hate can be as much of a weakness as love,' he remarked mildly, not even glancing at his son.
'I would rather be weak than be like you,' Draco replied, his voice scathing. His head was held high, chin tilted slightly upwards, the features that were mirrors of Lucius' own displaying the perfect picture of aristocratic disgust.
They were in the orchards, the pear trees ripe and heavy with fruit. The trees were spelled, of course, charmed to prevent rot, with runes for fertility carved into the trunks. Malfoys would never make do with inferior fruit. Lucius plucked a pear and examined it critically.
'Whatever you may wish to be, you have no choice,' he replied. 'You are a Malfoy and my son, and you shall follow in my footsteps whether you choose to or not.'
'You're wrong,' Draco replied. His voice was low in his throat, and threatening. 'I will never be like you. You don't love and you don't hate and you spend your time torturing anyone you disagree with until they're too cowed and terrified to say anything. You don't even give them the courtesy of hating them. You're foul, you're lower than Mudbloods, and I'll never turn into you.'
Lucius considered this, biting into the pear. Its flesh was juicy, delicious and perfect. As always. He took his time, chewing before swallowing, while his son stood behind him, angry and defiant, and the autumn air hung heavy and low around them, glutted with sunshine.
'You are defiant,' he said eventually, his tone mild. He could have been commenting on the weather, or the taste of the fruit, but Draco knew well enough what that meant, and his wand was in his hand and pointed in an instant, his eyes sharp and vicious, nothing but hatred fuelling him.
To use the Unforgivables, you had to truly want to cause pain.
'Crucio,' he hissed, wand aimed directly at his father's defenceless back, but Lucius was already expecting it and dodged in a swirl of robes. The curse flew past him and collided with a tree, which creaked ominously.
'Expelliarmus,' Lucius pronounced, quickly, and Draco's wand flew from his unresisting hand as the boy stared, open-eyed, at the spot where the Unforgivable had hit; and then at his father. His jaw tightened, eyes defiant. He knew what would happen now.
Lucius calmly pocketed his son's wand, then raised his own. Draco didn't try to run; he already knew that it would only cause him more pain in the end, so instead he lifted his head high and waited. His hands were clenched into fists.
'Caromorbus,' Lucius murmured, with the air of a connoisseur selecting a particularly fine specimen. A thick cut opened itself on Draco's arm where the curse hit, creating a wound which immediately started oozing large amounts of blood, but Draco was more than used to blood by now and didn't even blink.
But this was only the beginning. Still oozing blood, the wound began to turn faintly green at the edges, then started to swell, and this time Draco couldn't help but hiss a little in pain. Lucius bit into his pear again and watched with interest.
The green patch was spreading, creeping over his skin like a mould, and wax-yellow pus was slowly oozing out, covering the wound and the skin beyond with a thin coating of slime. Draco closed his eyes, fighting not to whimper, holding his arm very still and clenching his fists very tightly, forcing himself not to show pain. Normal infections were painful; speeded up so that what should last for days took mere seconds, it was excruciating.
When the edges of the wound were turning black and the arm was swollen to twice its usual thickness, Lucius waved his wand again. 'Finite Incantatem,' he said. The infection stopped spreading, but got no smaller. Draco, pale with the pain and fear raised his head. 'You may keep that until the dinner on Saturday as a reminder,' Lucius said. It was Monday morning.
Draco simply nodded, clutching his arm closer to him while trying not to touch it. He didn't ask for his wand back, but turned and walked away, wincing in pain whenever his arm moved.
He hated the monster that called himself his father, but what could he do? Lucius was stronger then he was. For now at least. The black and green festering wound on his arm was proof enough of that. Still, there was always the future. One day. One day.
As soon as warmth and feeling return he is crouching beside you, and you feel light fingers brushing your tattered sleeve up your arm. You turn your head away, because you don't want to see the skin, because you know that by now it is riddled with scars and bruises and sores. He doesn't have to be careful about not leaving a mark, because no one is going to see you, no one is going to know.
You know what he's about to do, because you saw the sunlight shine on the blade of the dagger he is holding before you turned your face away. Traitor. The sunlight, that is, for shining on his blade; it's only meant to shine for you.
Then again, the flash of light was pretty, so you suppose the sun might have been trying to make the best of things. Every dagger has a silver lining, or was that something else? Clouds?
It doesn't really matter any more, does it?
He slices into your skin impossibly slowly, with relish, with enjoyment, dipping down just far enough to reach the nerves. It feels as though he cuts through each nerve ending separately, allowing each one to scream its final cry of pain, before moving onto the next. You shudder.
There are spells to do this, of course, spells to flay the skin from the body in slices so thin they let the light through, but he prefers the personal touch, sometimes. And you see why, because having him sitting there, holding a dagger, carving your flesh with his own hand – that is worse than a spell. More frightening. You can hear the roughness of his breath with adrenaline, excitement, and you know he enjoys it.
The first slice comes free, a thick slice flayed from your own skin, and almost immediately he is slicing through the red, raw flesh again. You wince, trying to pull your arm away, but he holds it down with his free hand and carries on. It hurts even more, because the exposed flesh is damp and living and sensitive, and seems to be screaming as he slices through it, a silent scream only you can hear, which reached your ears as pure pain and nothing else.
Another slice finished, another one begun. Flesh of my flesh, you remember, and it's enough to make you laugh, a small hysterical sob of laughter. For this, he stabs the dagger deeper into you, cutting a thicker slice, and you cry out in pain.
It is amusing, though. You think about it when you're alone sometimes, you whisper it to the sunlight, because you have nothing else to amuse you. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. You won in the end, really, because you wanted him to be like you and he wanted to be different. And for all he hates you and loathes you and delights in torturing you, while you were utterly indifferent about hurting him, he could almost be your mirror image.
Another slice, deeper again. Is he trying to work down to the bone? You pull in the deepest breath you can, because the pain is making you forget how to breathe and you know you need oxygen.
Like father, like son; blood will out. In multiple senses. You tortured him to turn him into yourself, now he tortures you as revenge, and isn't it perfectly fitting? You won in the end, because he vowed never to be like you and he couldn't be more like if he tried.
You can't help it; laughter is like pain, it hurts and you can't hide it. So you laugh, a high-pitched, insane sound from a throat unused to anything but silence, and then you scream as your son's dagger slices through flesh and blood to jar against the bone, agonising in its sudden sharpness.
The sunshine keeps on laughing, though.
AN: Spell translations: Assulatim means 'in splinters', Sanquis Torquere means 'Blood, Writhe', and Caromorbus is from caro meaning 'flesh 'and morbus meaning 'rot'.
Alright, what I really want to know is:how long did it take you to guess?