Erasing Time's Tracks
Disclaimer: This work of fan-fiction is not intended for personal profit. All characters utilized herein which are not creations of myself belong to J. K. Rowling.
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A blond-haired wizard staggered outside of the large Muggle mansion and made his unsteady way towards the silent graveyard that was near the dilapidated house that sat on the hill. Had Harry Potter or Albus Dumbledore seen the house, they would have realised it was the Riddle Mansion.
They would also have identified that wizard as Draco Malfoy. Unfortunately, Dumbledore was no longer among the living, and Harry Potter was still reeling from the aftermath of the previous night's events.
As Draco Malfoy unsteadily walked, he recalled what had led up to his current situation. He and Snape had recently arrived to report on the success (or failure, depending on how one saw it) of Dumbledore's death; the Dark Lord had been extremely displeased to learn that Draco had ended up needing the now-former Defence teacher to save his bacon, thus depriving Voldemort of his valuable spy within Hogwarts.
The punishment that followed afterwards had been quite intense but fully deserved; the blond coughed weakly and felt something rattle in his chest. He was in no doubt that he had, at the very least, some bruised ribs, and something bitter and metallic was in his mouth. He spat it out, and then realised a second later that it was his own blood. He wished that the bouts of the Cruciatus curse that he had received had been less severe than they were.
Groaning, he leaned against a cold and mossy gravestone and wheezed quietly to himself; he winced as the waves of pain spread throughout his chest. He realised that he could do no-one any good in his current state. He had few resources left to boot; the Malfoy fortune was being steadily stripped from Lucius and Narcissa, by means of the Dark Lord's incessant demands for money to finance his private army, or, if the war went against the Dark Lord, by a Ministry led by Potter or Granger, who would swoop down on the wealthy purebloods for old-fashioned revenge in the form of pauperisation.
In addition, he had clearly failed as a Death Eater. The Dark Lord had washed his hands of Draco Malfoy.
As for Dumbledore's Order, he doubted that Potter and his group would be very benevolently-minded towards him, given his complicity in Dumbledore's death.
He was screwed.
And he knew it.
Luckily he had never before had to use the emergency single-use Portkey his father had given him two years ago, which would draw him to just outside Malfoy Manor. Now seemed like a good time though.
So tired, thought Draco. If I tried to App—
He never finished that thought because his Portkey activated; the village of Little Hangleton disappeared in a swirl of colour and a jerk behind his navel, disturbing his thoughts and forcing him to concentrate on not vomiting. The journey ended with him plopping from out of nowhere outside of the tall front gates of the Manor; they were crowned by spikes and a swirling M insignia, with weathered gilding. He collapsed as soon as he saw that he'd arrived safely.
Draco would have died that night had a house-elf not come out to investigate the unexpected visitor; it was horrified at the state of its young master (who had been moderately more benevolent to the house-elves than Lucius had been) and instantly transported him into the grand house. A tearful Narcissa Malfoy had come running out of the parlour to cast healing charms on her only child before she settled him in his comfortable bed.
When Draco woke up two days later, he marvelled that he was alive at all.
He wearily pushed himself up in bed, and idly ran his right hand along the silk bedspread as he looked at the Dark Mark on his left arm. He'd been so naïve that day, to think that his mother bringing him to the Dark Lord would redeem the Malfoy name, allowing Draco to stand by the Dark Lord's side the way his father had always bragged had happened during the first rise of Voldemort.
His first clue that the Dark Lord wasn't really all that he'd been built up to be was when Draco had gotten that mission to kill Dumbledore. During sixth year, he had realised he'd been set up to fail. He turned his head away from his offending arm, and got out of bed.
After carefully going through his morning ablutions, Draco went into the manor's large dining room, which had several windows letting in the sunny summer morning. His mother looked up from her breakfast plate, and rushed up, worriedly fussing over her son. He'd looked at himself in the mirror and had been shocked at how ragged his hair had looked and how weak and frail he appeared. What she couldn't see were the numerous ugly-looking bruises and red blotches on his skin from the stress his body had been under due to the Cruciatus curses. Still, his appearance, such as it was, was enough to shock anyone.
It seemed that his mother thought the same, too, because she had said, "Oh, Draco, you poor child! Thank Merlin you're awake; I was worried you wouldn't ever wake up again! Sit down, and get some food into yourself!"
Draco had been so happy to be away from the stress of school, the Dark Lord, his mission—all that rot, that he didn't even sardonically question why his mother was babbling like some Weasley.
She'd refused to leave the table until he'd cleared his plate of breakfast and swallowed a nutrient potion followed by a general healing and strengthening potion. His mother looked quite unwell. Her once-shiny blond hair was dull and dreary. He also could have sworn he saw flecks of grey in it, even though she was not yet forty and was, in wizarding years, nowhere near middle age.
His mother said, "Draco, I forbid you, I absolutely forbid you to go back to the Dark Lord! He will force you into another mission designed to kill you, and it will! I will make your excuses to Severus. You have still not regained your strength and I will not have you leaving this manor at all!"
Wearily, Draco said, "Mother, you know it doesn't matter what you want. If the Dark Lord wants, he can level this manor to the ground and kill both of us. We probably have two weeks, if that, to come up with a way out."
Over his mother's protestations, Draco shouted, at some cost to his ribs, "Mother!"
Now that he had gotten her attention, he continued talking. "You know it's true. Professor Snape will have to eventually report in to the Dark Lord, and eventually nobody will believe I'm still on the mend from when I left Hogwarts."
Narcissa closed her eyes, her lips trembling as she bowed her head and acknowledged that they were playing a waiting game, trying to stave off the inevitable. She said, in a low voice, "Draco, all I can do for you then, my son, is help you rebuild your strength. I will order the house-elves to bring you refreshments and food. Severus foresaw the possibility that Lucius or you might need healing potions, and left plentiful stocks of them. The house-elves will bring you two nutrient potions a day, and one strengthening potion a day. Take them with your meals."
Draco, his own head bowed, mumbled, "Yes, mother."
He'd left the table that day, all hope lost.
That night, however, he proved the aphorism that desperate times tend to bring out the best and most innovative measures humans can come up with.
Draco had been sitting at his desk in his bedroom, a piece of parchment in front of him, while he stared at the wall, eyes unfocussed.
If he didn't have any options in the present, there was nothing stopping him from trying to seek options in the past.
And the past was certainly a much better cauldron to boil, as it were.
He had two weeks to come up with a plan.
So, a Draco-goes-back fic. I wanted to write a twist on the usual theme of Hermione-goes-back or Harry-goes-back.
I think I've got a handle on POV changes with some creative use of line dividers to separate changes of scene from changes of POV. Hopefully it'll be a bit less jarring than the name-above-a-section thing which just doesn't work right for me.