A/N - I've been told the prologue is a bit gory, so I'm dropping a warning in here. x
Fear, anger, hatred - they were his power, his source of strength, a seething mass of emotion lending his magic a force he'd never known before. His mind was closed, his spells silent and made vicious by panic. Greyback was no Occulumens - even the spells he didn't bellow out loud, Draco could still see the intention long before the words were thought. He blocked, retaliated, blocked again, and tried to ignore the tiny stab of hope - the mad thought that he might actually stand a chance…
No - you're not getting me with that one -
He felt the force of the curse even through his hasty shield charm. Greyback was getting desperate.
Good. If, for just one second, I could make him fear me as I fear him…
They were getting closer together, trapped by their increasingly large audience. Draco didn't know which was the more distracting - the buzz of their voices or Greyback's stench, overpowering even at eight paces, stale sweat and never-washed skin and blood. Enough to turn the stomach - and to make something inside Draco cringe and whimper. He felt like ants were crawling about beneath his skin.
Some fragment of that dangerously debilitating revulsion must have shown in his eyes, because Greyback's face contorted, grime and scars and hair moving, pointed yellow teeth appearing as he grinned. Draco wanted to close his eyes - to shut out that gloating grin and hungry eyes.
But that's surrender. Fuck that. If he gets to touch me again it'll be over my cold dead body… And it probably will be…
"Little one, this has been fun. But -" Greyback tossed aside his wand and lunged.
Greyback was close enough when the curse slashed out that Draco saw his blood like mist in the air, and felt it on his face. The werewolf blinked, looked down at himself, at slashed robe and deep bloody gouges pumping out blood, and roared.
He kept coming, as Draco backed away and hit him with the curse again and again, mind too blank with panic to think of another spell. Bloody fingers slipping on his wand as he slashed it through the air, he watched the curse open up flesh and muscle, blood spraying into the air and bone gleaming inside the wounds.
The crowd opened up, allowing Draco to retreat a few more steps, until he felt his back up against cold stone. Greyback was on his hands and knees, leaving a trail of gore as he crawled. His hand, for once covered with his own blood, found the hem of Draco's robes, claws twisting into the fabric. Swinging madly between fear that froze and blind fury, Draco watched Greyback force his head back, and looked down into a face that was a mass of blood and raw flesh. Into eyes that still glittered with mad hunger.
"Pretty -" the werewolf croaked, blood bubbling from his lips, and for a second, as Draco's robe tore and his stomach wound itself into a tight squirming ball, he was back in that cell -
"No!" The anger tore up through him, merged with his magic to form a power that that was almost painful as it beat inside his head and through his flesh, desperate to be free, to tear through his skin and - "AVADA KEDAV-"
He felt rather than heard Impedimenta - the breath was driven from his body and the bones of his back cracked in protest as he was slammed back against the wall. His wand dropped from suddenly nerveless fingers.
Into a silence broken only by Greyback's wheezing, bubbling breath came the sound of slow clapping. Draco frantically blinked away the blackness bleeding across his vision and bowed his head to his master. His torn and blood-soaked robes barely still hanging on his body, magic leaking from his pores, he waited for his punishment.
To his surprise, he wasn't scared. The feel of his own power was too exhilarating. And the Dark Lord had seen it - probably felt it. Surely he could no longer dismiss Draco as 'weak'? Not after that.
"I can't let you kill Fenrir - he's too useful." Draco stole a quick glance at his master. Voldemort actually looked happy - or satisfied, anyway - it was hard to read emotions on a face like that. "But that was…impressive."
"Thank you, my lord." Draco kept his head bowed and fought the hysterical laughter bubbling up in his throat. Fuck - he must have hated saying that. "I aim to please."
Later, curled in a corner of the huge bathtub, water pink with Greyback's blood, there was no more laughter. Draco had kept his head under the water until his lungs felt like they were bursting, sharp burning pain that brought him to the surface to gasp in air.
The plan, such as it was, had failed. For the second time in his life, he'd deliberately set out to kill someone. For the second time in his life, he'd failed. He looked at the water, with its browny-pink tinge, and felt his stomach flip.
He'd already been sick - there was nothing left to throw up - but he hauled himself out of the tub, just in case. His reflection looked back at him from the mirrored walls, gaunt and accusing.
He hated this bathroom - hated the mirrors that didn't speak, the water that didn't foam, the darkness and coldness of the place. But most of all he hated the image the mirrors showed him in multiple, actual evidence of how far he'd fallen. There was no room for vanity during a fight for survival, but -
Draco moved over to the wall, touching its smooth cold surface. From its gloomy depths he looked back at himself, at the shadows beneath his eyes, hollowed cheeks making cheekbones look like blades beneath his skin. The perfectly straight, perfectly lined up scars on his jaw and chest - caused by the same spell he had used to protect himself tonight - were fine lines of pink, nothing in comparison to the thick ugly - but healing - scratches on his belly. Or the teeth marks on his shoulder, a bite precisely and almost lovingly applied, seeping blood again. Greyback hadn't taken any flesh - but, then he hadn't needed to, had he? That particular mark of ownership pissed Draco off even more than the one burnt into his forearm.
Scrawny, scarred, polluted. The mirrors, he'd already discovered to his disgust, were unbreakable.
"Vanity, thy name is Draco Malfoy." Draco chose not to react as his old teacher swept into the room; it was already established that any requests for privacy would send Snape into new and biting realms of sarcasm. "You are aware, I assume, of the myth of Narcissus, who died pining away over his own reflection?"
"And you are aware, I assume, that all your 'private talks' with me seem to be when I'm in bed or the bath?" Draco smiled sweetly, watching Snape digest his words. "All this effort to catch me naked - you know, people are starting to talk."
"Idiot boy. If you're so concerned for your reputation, you could at least cover yourself."
Draco turned his eyes from the bony face in the mirror. Snape's glare and curled lip were hardly an improvement to the view. "Whoever said I was concerned? I like it. One day you'll admit to your mad repressed lust for me and we can be infamous lovers in fact instead of reputation."
Snape shook his head wearily. "It is as I feared - the duel with Greyback has irreparably damaged your brain." He took a small bottle from beneath his robes. Draco beamed; Snape scowled. "Your mind is clearly disturbed."
The potion was cold against his skin, stinging against still open wounds as Snape dabbed it against his shoulder. "I must admit, the duel was impressive," Snape continued. Draco recognised the tone of voice. Having tolerated, as always, Draco's attempts to wind him up, he was now heading for more serious subjects. "You managed to put aside your usual verbal diahorrea and mental instability very nicely."
"Thanks," Draco replied. "Your compliments never fail to depress me."
"And had the Dark Lord allowed you to finish that killing curse, you would have definitely killed Greyback. You would have also decimated his Death Eaters, since so many of us were standing there gaping."
Draco felt a little warm rush of satisfaction at that, but "Cool," was all he said. Casual, offhand, as if it scarcely mattered. Weak, am I? "'Decimate' is killing one in ten, right?"
"In the word's most archaic form," Snape said, a hint of approval in his voice. Star student. "I meant it in the modern sense - which is a much higher percentage." His fingers poked at the scratches.
"You sound pleased by that - do you wish I'd done it? Wiped out all your rivals for you?"
Snape sniffed. "It would hardly have benefited me, since I was standing right there with them. And I doubt the Dark Lord would have been much amused. No - be glad it ended as it did. Greyback will not be bothering you for a while, and neither will anyone else. Copious amounts of blood-letting, power, sadism and a complete disregard for onlookers' safety - just the things to impress your fellow Death Eaters. You have acquired status. Which may be fortunate, or not, depending on your point of view."
"People are scared of me -"I'm not meat anymore. "- how can that be 'unfortunate'?"
"Well, your Aunt has decided that you should accompany her - and some others - on a mission."
Draco didn't say anything, but the shock was almost a physical blow. I'm being trusted? They're actually going to let me out of here? Outside…
He must have blanked out Snape while he was speaking, because his next words didn't seem to connect with the former. "You have brains, Draco. Don't let yourself be turned into an attack dog." Draco had the nasty feeling he'd just missed out on an important warning.