Letters from a Pureblood to his son, commonly called the Azkaban Letters

My object is to have you fit to live; which, if you are not, I do not desire that you should live at all.

Lord Chesterfield's letters.

The First Letter.

My dear son,

Circumstances prevent me from completing your education in the way that I would have wished. You may feel, with some justice, that these circumstances preclude me from offering advice in any way – what can you learn from a man who has failed?

It is that failure that makes it imperative that you should listen to me now. I am anxious that you should profit by my mistakes, and not suffer for them.

The proper place of the world is indeed at the Malfoys' feet; all should be grist to our mill. Nonetheless the world is irrational and often has to be convinced of this fundamental truth.

What opportunity do you have of developing the practical skills you will need to make your way in the world in your present cloistered condition? More than I, in my more cloistered world, and yet there is opportunity enough for both of us.

Human nature is the same everywhere. I am uncertain whether this is a source of gratification or dissatisfaction: it is at least a source of instruction.

Your school is a microcosm of the wider world, with all its petty jealousies and jostling for position, but with fewer penalties for failure. All of your fellows absolutely convinced of their own worth, uneasily aware of the difference between that and the value that the world places upon them, and determined to make others acknowledge their superiority.

This is the fertile ground which you must plough. Flattery, if you can bring yourself to use it, sparingly applied, will yield far better results than any mercenary awards.

It is more economical too.

A softly murmured appreciation of the difficulties that a Minister – or prison guard – faces in dealing with others less intelligent and capable than himself, will achieve as much as a bag of galleons.

And when it comes from a Malfoy, how much the sweeter? Malfoys are proud and do not flatter, therefore those sentiments must be true. There is an old adage, vulgar as it is, that holds a germ of truth: buy a man once and you have to buy him again; flatter him, and he is yours for life.

Flattery is more powerful than Imperio, though not, I admit, as satisfying. Consequently, you should be careful of those that flatter you. Do not allow yourself to be tempted into unwise actions by the admiration of others. Make no Vows that cannot be broken, make no promises that cannot be dishonoured, and make no commitments that cannot be retracted.

Take particular care in the company of women. You are young, and it is inevitable that your attention will now be drawn to those incalculable and intoxicating creatures for the first time. They will always remain intoxicating, and it is likely that they will remain incalculable for a long time to come unless you master the art – given to few men, most being easily distracted by the flesh – to actually listen to them.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that merely because you do not understand them that they are foolish. Your mother should be example enough to the contrary, and your Aunt Bellatrix even more so.

I am sure you remember the last man that suggested that she was unsuited to the study of the Dark Arts. Doubtless the situation was more pleasurable to watch than to experience. Remember, witches have wands too.

You will have to find your own way in the art of seduction. You have good looks and money on your side; you will have no shortage of partners. You will not need to resort to Imperio and lust potions, as others do, but which bring no lasting satisfaction. Instead, you will always be in doubt whether their interest is in you or your position.

When it comes to forming a permanent attachment, always ask yourself whether you will be able to face her across the breakfast table in twenty years time. Malfoy Manor is large, but it will never be large enough to avoid a Xanthippe, and it is generally considered to be vulgar to eliminate ones own wife though if it becomes necessary I can always be called upon to help. That is what family is for.

Avoid redheads – passion so easily becomes petulance, and ceases to be engaging after a few months, and I would prefer my grandchildren not to bear any resemblance to a Weasley.

If your tastes do not incline to women, no matter.

You may suppose that you would understand a partner of the same sex better than a woman. I have no direct experience of such things, but this does not seem to be invariably – or even frequently – the case. Love is an awkward bitch no matter what the gender of the couple.

My father suggested it was better avoided. I did not listen to him, and I have never regretted it. It is a matter for you which path you choose to take, as is the case in many things.

Learn, and learn well. Experience is a better teacher than your father, but it is not a kinder one.

Your father,