Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
The Unforgivable Curses
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
Draco had vehemently disliked their last Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin, but that was nothing compared to how he felt about Professor Moody. The man's oversized, electric blue fake eye was unnerving, but it was made even worse by the fact that his other eye, dark and beady, was blazing with nothing less than pure hatred. Even that wouldn't normally have been enough to disturb Draco, but he knew that the man was perfectly capable of following up on that hatred. He already had.
Draco touched his right arm gingerly and noticed that it still ached despite Madame Pomfrey's healing skills. It had fractured in four places after Moody decided that it would be amusing to Transfigure him into a ferret and humiliate them into the whole school – and worst of all Potter, Weasley and that mudblood Granger. That was no way to treat anyone, least of all a Malfoy.
It took Pansy, Gregory and Vincent almost half an hour to convince him to come to class. He didn't want to go anywhere near Moody if he could help it, not if it was possible that he'd end up being humiliated in an even worse way by the demented old Auror. Draco was certain that the man had a vendetta against the sons of Death Eaters, if only because he was still bitter about the fact that he hadn't been able to sentence their fathers to rot away in Azkaban for a lifetime.
Still, Draco eventually decided to come to class, if only because he was afraid of what Moody would do to him if he didn't turn up. Besides, he couldn't go showing any sign of weakness; if he did someone was bound to try to use that against him. He regretted that decision almost instantly though; the Slytherins were only a few minutes into their first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson of the year, and already he was wishing that they had Professor Lupin again, werewolf though he was, or even Professor Quirrell, no matter that he had been found to be insane. Even Lockheart would have been better than Moody, because at least Lockheart was simply incapable; there wasn't a bit of malice – or ability in the man. Moody, on the other hand… well, he wouldn't have put if past Moody to curse them all if any of them so much as breathed too loudly.
Draco felt Moody's gaze linger on him for a moment too long once again: it was almost as though the man was trying to figure him out. He noticed that Vincent, Gregory and Theodore were all being subjected to the same thing. Evidently this was because they were the sons of Death Eaters, and thus Moody thought that they were the ones he needed to watch. Draco noticed that the man spent almost as much time glaring at Pansy, Blaise, Daphne Greengrass and Lilith Moon, all of whom came from families with ties to the Dark Arts. Millicent Bulstrode, whose family were half-bloods, and Tracey Davis, who came from a family of Hufflepuff mudbloods, weren't even spared a second glance by the insane professor; they may as well not have been there at all.
Draco found himself envious of the two half-bloods for the first time. Why couldn't Mad-Eye Moody be oblivious to his existence as well? It would make his life a lot easier. But no, Moody had to look at him as though he were scum, an attitude that was certainly not befitting to take with any pureblood, let alone a Malfoy. The man may be a great Auror, but he was certainly stupid. He evidently thought that the sins of the father were also the sins of the son. The fool. Aurors of all people should have known that prejudice like that was what lead many wizards and witches to practice the Dark Arts in the first place.
The mad professor had started to rant about the importance of constant vigilance, but Draco could not be bothered to listen to this. Who did he think he was to teach Slytherins how to be vigilant? Teaching Slytherins how to be vigilant was as pointless as teaching mermaids how to swim.
"You will pay attention rather than painting your nails while I'm talking, Miss Parkinson," Moody shouted, causing Pansy to start and get a line of acid green nail paint down her hand. Draco felt his heart drop as he realised that the man could obviously see through solid objects; in a way he really did have eyes in the back of his head.
"Now, I've had a letter from Professor Lupin telling me about every single one of his classes. Apparently your year has a good knowledge of dark creatures but knows absolutely nothing else." His lip curled up into a sneer as he surveyed each and every one of them, this time actually bothering to look at Millicent and Tracey. It seemed as though he would have had no problem with killing each and every one of them there and then. "Then again, I'd be surprised if you didn't all have at least some knowledge of dark magic."
This was said in exactly the venomous tones Draco would have expected from an Auror. Then again what did Aurors really know about dark magic? If his father was to be believed (and so far as Draco was concerned his father was almost always right) then Aurors thought that the Dark Arts were heinous and disgusting and not to be practiced by anyone in their right mind. Draco knew better than that already; the Dark Arts truly were an art, only people like Moody were somehow completely incapable of seeing that.
"Now, let's not waste any more time," Moody said. "We're going to be learning about curses. By all accounts you've had very little formal instruction on them."
Draco was annoyed by this. How dare the man assume that just because he was teaching a class of Slytherins, they all obviously knew about the Dark Arts? It was irrelevant that they all did know about such things. Anyway, knowing didn't equate to practicing.
"I've got one year to teach you fools that dark magic isn't the amusing plaything you want it to be. The Dark Arts require subtlety, power and control, three things you all evidently lack."
Draco felt pure rage bubbling up inside him. He hadn't felt so angry in a very long time. How dare this decrepit Auror assume that they were weak, feeble and incapable? They were Slytherins: of course they were powerful. Power was the thing they handled the best. How dare this filthy old bloodtraitor suggest that they were more inept than a class of Hufflepuffs?
He felt his magic radiating out of him, spinning out of control, and knew that there was nothing he could do about it. His inkpot shattered, spattering glass and green ink all over the room. Moody smiled icily at him and Draco realised that he had just proved that the last thing Moody had said was true. Moody disappeared all the mess with a flick of his wand, leaving Draco scarlet with frustration.
"Now, what do we know about curses?" Moody hissed. "Obviously you all know that they come in all sorts of different forms. According to the Ministry of Magic I'm supposed to teach counter-curses and nothing else until sixth year, but it'll be to late by then. How will you ever be able to hold your own in a duel if you can't identify the dark curses your opponent's throwing at you until it's too late? Now, luckily for us Professor Dumbledore thinks more of your nerves than the Ministry, and I think he's right. You're old enough to cope with how cruel wizards can be to their own kind by now I'm sure." Again there was the implication that they were Slytherins, the cruellest of all children, so obviously they had a much better idea of the workings of the human mind than the average Hufflepuff, Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. "Now, who can tell me what curses are most heavily punished by wizarding law?"
Nobody answered. No one so much as moved. None of them wanted to be the one to be singled out by this mad professor of theirs as a youthful practitioner of the Dark Arts.
"You, Malfoy!" Moody barked out suddenly, making everyone jump. Draco felt his heart stop; had the professor decided to punish him for his momentarily loss of control? He didn't want to end up as a ferret again, never again in his life. "Lucius Malfoy's son, aren't you?"
Draco nodded, pursing his lips together in the expression of disgust he usually deserved for mudbloods – but this man was so obviously an anti-Slytherin, prejudiced bloodtraitor that frankly he deserved contempt.
"Name one of the curses and tell me what it does."
Draco frowned. He knew all three of the Unforgivable Curses, of course, but he doesn't really want to give the answer. Who could tell what sort of comments Moody would make if he did? Then he decided that giving an answer would be easier than risking ending up as a ferret permanently.
"The Cruciatus curse," he muttered at last. "It inflicts pain."
"Inflicts pain?" Moody said. It looked as though his eyes were about to pop out of his head with rage. "It doesn't just inflict pain, boy. It is absolute torture. If you can inflict the Cruciatus properly then you don't just cause someone pain; you can drive them over the edge of sanity into madness." He stopped and smiled that cruel smile of his at Draco again, to which Draco only glared back. "That was a favourite of your Aunt Bellatrix's, once. She was one of the Dark Lord's most loyal followers and now she's rotting away in Azkaban."
Draco felt the blood drain from his face. What was Moody saying? He didn't have an Aunt Bellatrix. He didn't have an aunt at all, and he certainly didn't have an aunt who was rotting away in Azkaban for using the Unforgivables. The man was sadistic and mad and obviously just wanted to put him on edge. Either way, Draco was going to write to his father later and see what in Merlin's name had possessed Moody to spout such an outlandish lie.
Moody, meanwhile, had taken a glass jar out of his desk draw. Inside it were three large, black spiders. Moody reached in and placed one on the desk then waved his wand at it, causing it to become the size of a baby acromantula.
Draco glanced over to his left and saw that Crabbe's face had completely drained of colour. He looked as though he didn't even want to be in the room, but he knew that he'd lose face if he showed quite how terrified he was. Crabbe, for some reason, had always been utterly petrified of spiders.
Moody raised his wand and hissed one word. "Crucio."
The reverential way in which the professor said this was enough to make Draco's stomach turn. It was as though he were speaking to a beloved friend, not as though he were inflicting pain on a helpless creature. Draco knew that a certain sadistic streak was necessary to cast the Cruciatus properly, and it didn't surprise him at all that Moody had it. He was sure that if it weren't illegal to do so Moody would have cruciated every single one of them by now.
The spider's legs have bent in on themselves, completely distorting its shape. It was thrashing about wildly, twitching from side to side as though by doing that it could escape from the pain it was in. Draco had read enough about the Cruciatus curse to know that if the spider were a human, it would have screamed its throat raw by now.
Moody raised his wand again and released the curse, but the spider was still twitching horribly. Draco recalled that it was not uncommon for humans to shake uncontrollably for days after being released from the vice-like grip of the Cruciatus.
"Zabini," Moody shouted, causing Blaise to jump. "Name me another."
"Umm, the Imperius curse" Blaise stuttered out at last. "It controls people's thoughts and actions. Basically turns them into living Inferi."
Moody was smiling that strange smile again, only this time at Blaise rather than Draco. In a way it was even more unnerving when it was aimed at somebody else. "Yes, you would know about that, wouldn't you, Zabini," he drawled. "With a mother like yours I'm sure you've seen it used many a time."
"Leave my mother out of this," Blaise snapped back, angry. It was common knowledge in Slytherin that Blaise was not fond of women at all, but despite this he was impossibly protective of the mother that hated him. "Of course she's never used the Imperius curse. Do you think she's stupid enough to risk going to Azkaban for life?"
"Then why do all of her husbands seem to die suddenly and leave her lots of money?" Moody snarled.
"She's just been unlucky, that's all," Blaise replied curtly.
"No, Zabini," Moody snapped. "This is what your mother has done to every single one of her husbands." He pointed his wand at another of the spiders and said "Imperio."
The spider began to walk on its hind legs then started to spin a perfectly stable web in thin air, something that would normally have been impossible.
The tone in Moody's voice disturbed Draco even more this time. He could hear the desire of control in the man's voice; it had a sharp edge to it that he remembered his father often using. But of course his father had never used the Imperius curse; he wasn't so stupid as to risk his freedom. Privately Draco thought that only a weak wizard would ever have to resort to use of the Imperius in order to control people.
"Absolute control," Moody said. "During the last war, a lot of people were controlled in just this way. This made it especially difficult to figure out who had actually been followers of the Dark Lord and who hadn't been in control of their own actions at the time. Of course this meant that a lot of Death Eaters escaped Azkaban." His gaze lingered on Draco, Gregory, Vincent and Theodore once again. Draco glared back, telling himself that there was really nothing to be afraid of. Moody had already humiliated him in front of the school and tarnished his reputation – was there really anything worse he could do to him?
"Nott," Moody said eventually. "Name the last curse."
"Avada Kedavra," Theodore drawled in reply. He looked bored out of his mind, as though they were in History of Magic discussing goblin rebellions rather than in Defence Against the Dark Arts watching demonstrations of the Unforgivable Curses. "The killing curse."
They all knew what was going to happen next but none of them could tear their eyes away. Moody shouted the incantation and Draco could hear the hatred in his voice. He truly wanted that spider to die: if the intention wasn't there then the curse wouldn't work. There was a flash of green light and the spider lay dead on the desk. One moment it had been alive, the next it was gone forever, its soul never to return.
"Not so glamorous as you'd thought, were they," Moody said, sounding for all the world like a bully taunting a young child. "Now remember this - using any single one of these curses on another human being is enough to land you in Azkaban for life."
There was the unspoken sentiment in his eyes that that was exactly where each and every one of them belonged.