You gaze at the trembling door, feeling the same trembling tingling in your wand hand. You don't let it show, however, as the Professor opens the wardrobe door. You stay, still, waiting, watching, as the door creaks open, almost too slow. You breathe, in, out, the pale fingers of the boggart curling around the lip.

"Steady now, steady," Lupin warns. You vaguely hear his words, he sounds too far away, too distant. For the boggart has just shown himself.

Your father steps from within. His eyes, identical to your own in every way, glare at you, colder than ice and harder than knives. One. Two. Three. He steps forward, such anger . . . disgust . . . disappointment—not his son—not a Malfoy—trash . . . garbage . . .

Your teeth clench together. This isn't real—this—can't—be—real . . .

Your father stand before you, eyes of winter, eyes of hate. He stands, tall, while you cower, small. He looks down at you.

Then

turns

away.

One. Two. Three. They're the footsteps your father takes away from you when your wand slips from your fingers. Your wand echoes off the polished wood floor, bouncing and clattering twice.

It

stretches

to

eternal

silence.

You run after him, the father abandoning you like you're six and set fire to an important paper. He walks away, back rigid, like you are eight and struggling through Knockturn Alley, searching for him through the dark streets. Like you're five, studying the travelers use the Floo network so maybe, maybe, you can go home, too, instead of lie in the streets where Mother and Father left you.

Like you mean nothing.

Your father steps back through the wardrobe—so odd for him to do, isn't it, but you don't wait. You follow, it's all you can do—then you see a scruffy-looking man with tattered cloaks step forward. He lifts his wand—Riddikulus!—and Father is no longer with you.

Like an Imperious curse lifted away, you regain control of your actions. You glare at Professor Lupin—how dare he interfere with you?

"You almost stepped in with a boggart, Mr. Malfoy," he tells you. You look from the wardrobe to your teacher. You can't hide the disgust on your face. Whether it's for yourself, or for your teacher, you cannot say. "I suppose I needn't inform you how disastrous that would have been?"

You scowl. You dare not say a word. This teacher—professor—knows too much of you already.

"Right, then. We'll try this test next week, same time. Do tell the next student they may come in when you leave."

Lupin turns his back to you—instinct, tells you to hex him into silence. He knows your fears. Sense rules though, and you turn your back to him.

"Oh, and Mr. Malfoy? Might I suggest you work on imaging how to ridicule your fear? Practice that over the week."

You nod, not agreeing, not daring to voice a retort.

You pass Pansy Parkinson in the hall, jerking your head to the classroom for her to enter. She winks and giggles for you, but you just pass her by—what once was annoying, now you wish to hex her for it.

In your mind's eye, you see it. Your father, once more, walking away from you. Like you're nothing—like you're a waste. You stare to the ground, not caring where you go, so long as you're gone and away from the boggart and Lupin.

Because, through your eyes, all you can see is one question, endlessly repeated:

How, how can you make a man like Lucius Malfoy something to laugh at?