A/N: I know, I know. You're wondering "what are you thinking; coming out with two new fanfictions just as you finally finished the other two?" I can't just work on one, I have to be able to alternate between the two when I get stuck... I was sleeping, and the idea for this story literally woke me up, I wasn't aware I wrote stories in my dreams, but it seems like I do, so here it is.
Thanks to arrandomness for being a wonderful beta and fixing my mistakes! There were a lot of them. I believe something about my eternal debt was mentioned... I'll work on that.
Disclaimer: Nothing's mine except the plot... All recognisable characters and concepts aren't mine, etc. etc. This will continue to be true for the entire story, so I'm only going to write this once.
It all started when Draco was rushing down a back hallway of the Manor, using it as a shortcut from the library where he had been secretly taking a conference call with his business associate for the Muggle company he had purchased so he could start making money on his own rather than waiting for his inheritance. If his father found out that he had used some of the money in his trust fund to purchase a Muggle company, Lucius would kill him. Sure, the war was over, but old habits die hard, and the older the family, the harder the habits were to break – and the Malfoys were one of the oldest families out there.
When he had noticed the time, Draco had been forced to end his call and shove his cell phone in a pocket – set to vibrate of course, he didn't want to have to be explaining the thing if it went off while he was at dinner with his parents - the dinner for which he was currently late. His mother insisted that the three Malfoys living in the Manor sit together for dinner at least twice a week; their home was so big that it was entirely possible for them to all live there and never come across each other for days on end, and while this suited the Malfoy men just fine, Narcissa wouldn't have it.
The end of the hallway was in sight, really only a few strides of his long legs away, but he suddenly froze, staring in confusion at one of the pictures on the wall. How had he missed that before? The woman in the picture looked just like Granger. The resemblance was eerie. This woman was even painted in a library, the one Draco had just left in fact. He made a mental note to come back to it after dinner and rushed on his way once again – Mother was a little touchy when Draco of his father missed one of the dinners she planned for them, and life was easiest when Narcissa Malfoy was happy.
He slipped into the dining room and sat down at the place set for him; both of the elder Malfoys looked up at his entrance. Draco cleared his throat, "Sorry I'm late," he told them.
"Again," his father snapped at him. The underlying meaning was if I'm going to go through these annoying dinners to please your mother, then you're going to deal with them too. No one ever said the Malfoys weren't a spiteful bunch.
"It won't happen again," Draco tried.
Narcissa frowned at her two boys; was it really so much trouble for them to take the occasional evening out of their busy schedules and sit with her while they ate? She didn't believe that her son would never be late again, but none of them did. These polite words were necessary for them to continue playing the "Happy Family" game that they had been playing since the Dark Lord rose again. After the fall, their family ties had become ever more stretched as Draco resented them for dragging him into the mess they had created for themselves ten years before when they bound themselves to a madman.
"Yes it will, Draco, but we'll wait for you next time as well," his mother told him, causing Lucius to frown; Draco was allowed to be late, but Narcissa would kill him if he was late for her dinner.
"What are the pictures in the back hallway of the east wing?" Draco asked, knowing his father liked to find out that kind of thing – the man's obsession with his own lineage went hand in hand with his tendency towards blood supremacy.
"Those are the Malfoys, by blood or by marriage, who were disgraced and exiled." Lucius told his son calmly, taking another bite of the asparagus on his plate.
Draco knew for a fact that the Black side of his family completely eliminated any member they exiled from the big family tree on display at the Black residence. The Malfoys weren't exactly a soft, caring lot, so why would they keep pictures of those they exiled? "Why would we want a record of the disgraced and exiled on the walls?"
Lucius was happy that his son was finally taking an interest in the history of the family, but why did it have to be that particular hallway that he focused on? "Those paintings are special; they were made with a piece of the subject that allowed the family to trace them should they need to bring them back into the family. Our ancestors did this after the wizard plague of 1372 wiped out almost all of the Malfoys; they had to hunt down an exiled son in order to keep the line pure. It took them months to find the boy, even with magic, so they made those paintings, ensuring that so it wouldn't be as difficult to do again should the need arise."
Draco quickly finished the rest of his dinner, politely asking to be excused and leaving the room. "That boy has no appreciation for the traditions of our family," Lucius sighed as he stared at the door his son had just disappeared through.
Narcissa smiled and patted her husband's shoulder. "Just be happy he bothered to learn the traditions," she tried to comfort him. Lucius sighed again and continued to stare in the direction of the door, wondering what was in store for the future of the Malfoy family.
Draco left the dining room and headed straight back to the portrait that had stopped him while he was on his way to dinner. She was watching him with curiosity in her eyes, but didn't speak as he approached and read the little nameplate set into the frame, is said "Emerence Elise Malfoy b.1813." Draco frowned; that didn't really tell him anything.
He leaned closer and examined her further, and now that he was looking at her this closely, there were minute difference between this woman in the portrait and Granger; Emerence had smoother hair that was almost a golden colour instead of brown, and this woman had dark green eyes instead of the golden brown ones that always glared at him.
He had been so focused on examining her features that Draco had forgotten that the painted woman could see him as well – she may not have been alive, but she wasn't some inanimate object incapable of thought. She was looking at him questioningly, with her head tilted to the side exactly like he had seen Granger do whenever she faced a particularly difficult question.
"I know someone who looks just like you," he told the woman, half speaking to himself.
Emerence looked like she wanted to tell him something, but started waving her arms around instead of just saying it, looking more and more frustrated as she tried to relay some information to him. It was then that Draco realized that this hallway was completely silent compared to other rooms in the Manor where the paintings were constantly chattering at you. The paintings in the exiled hallway must have had some sort of silencing spell placed on them to keep them from harassing the people who had banished their living counterparts.
He watched as she waved her arms around for a second before turning abruptly and heading back to the library. It has to be around here somewhere, he thought as he scanned the room. Ah, there it was. He grabbed the copy of the Daily Prophet he had been reading while he waited for the conference call to start earlier. On the cover was a full colour photo of the golden trio and their precious Order as they celebrated the one year anniversary of the fall of Voldemort. Potter had come through at the last minute and saved them all and that sort of thing, while the families and the followers of the Dark Lord were left to face the law. Draco and his mother had been let off easily, because they hadn't really committed any serious crimes, but his father had been restricted to house arrest for the next fifteen years.
Emerence started waving at him again the second she could see him from her frame. Draco held up the paper for her to see, showing her the three happy Gryffindors stuck in a loop of hugs and happy smiles.
When the painting caught a good look of the Gryffindor princess, she took a step back with wide eyes and stared. Her hands came up to her mouth and she sat down heavily in one of the chairs behind her as all of the blood drained from her face. Draco was confused; was it really so disturbing to find out someone with similar looks existed a few hundred years after her death? "What's the big deal?" He asked the painting.
She looked up at him from where she had buried her head in her hands, looking at him helplessly. He watched as an idea seemed to occur to her and she jumped up from her chair and ran to one of the bookshelves in the background of her painted prison. She ran back and showed him a book. Draco looked from the book to the woman waving it. "The Delamater Secret?" He asked her, confused.
She nodded and pointed frantically between herself and the word Delamater. Draco distantly remembered something about one of the oldest pureblood families, along with the Malfoys, being called the Delamaters. "Oh, you're a Delamater?" He asked. The woman nodded again, but continued to wave the book at him.
He furrowed his brow in confusion as he watched her; what did she want? It appeared she was beginning to get frustrated with him. Then something occurred to him, "are you telling me that the book you're holding is actually in the Malfoy library and you want me to read it?" He questioned.
Silently sighing with relief, the small painted woman nodded and smiled at him. Draco was momentarily struck by how pretty she was when that smile was directed at him; was Granger that beautiful when she graced people with her smile? Draco wouldn't know, as she'd never had cause to turn that particular expression his way.
The trance he had been in from her smile in was broken when the tiny woman, looking impatient, shooed him back towards the library – apparently the book she wanted him to read was an urgent thing. He shrugged; it wasn't like he had anything more interesting to do with his evening now that he was finished with the conference call and dinner. Emerence looked immensely relieved when she saw the he was heading back towards the library. Draco gave her one last look over his shoulder, seeing her encouraging expression, but anxious body language.
The library, like most rooms in the Manor, was large, lavishly decorated, and void of life. The beams if the setting sun coming into the room from the windows showed all of the dust particles floating around in the room – the house elves were good, but they just had so much to clean. Draco made his way to the general area Emerence had gone to in her portrait and scanned the titles quickly, glad that no one had changed this part of the library in several hundred years, save for adding a few tomes here and there. He quickly located the book he had been searching for and brought it over to one of the cushy leather chairs that were placed by the fire.
The spine of the book made a creaking sound as he opened the ancient covers; it seemed it was unhappy with him for disturbing its rest. Before he could even start reading the first page, a piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor.
Draco tilted his head as he looked at it laying on the floor, it appeared to be on some sort of stationary, a letter, perhaps? Reaching down and retrieving it, he confirmed his suspicions as he got a closer look: written across the top of the paper in metallic gold ink was the name "Emerence Elise Malfoy nee Delamater". His pale eyebrows disappeared under his hair as Draco read what the paper said.
To my dear descendent,
I am the last of the Delamaters, and if you are reading this after my death, you are now as I was, the last of the Delamaters; for we've been cursed that each member of our family can only have one child until we're once again living in our ancestral home. Before they were killed, my parents arranged my marriage to a Malfoy man, and I must respect their last wishes by keeping this promise to wed. In doing so, I have ensured that any child of mine will also be a Malfoy, so their ancestral library is where I leave this book for you to find.
Listen carefully, dear descendent, for what I am about to tell you is very important: our family has a secret, a very big secret. You need to read this book carefully before your twentieth birthday and understand if you want to live.
I wish you the best of luck,
When he finished reading the letter, Draco scowled; she better not be thinking that Granger was related to her. There was no way that was true; the woman had said it herself: she was married to a Malfoy man, and Granger was most definitely not a Malfoy. In fact, she was a Mudblood, so how was she supposed to be related to a Pureblood woman?
He rolled his eyes at the insanity of listening to portraits that couldn't even speak and were obviously delusional, but he opened the book nonetheless. He was shocked to find that most of the book was blank, save for a small grouping of pages towards the middle of the book.
For centuries now, the once royal Delamater family have been cursed with the ability to only have one child per generation, reducing their numbers drastically and limiting the spread of their reign.
It has been said that this curse was the result of one of the older Delamater men refusing to acknowledge a child that resulted from an affair. The mother of this child became bitter after her fiancé refused to marry her once he discovered she had been unfaithful to him and was having the child of another. Left alone and exiled, this woman swore that every Delamater generation would only be able to produce one child, so the entire family would be forced to acknowledge the child whether it was legitimate or not. She also intended this to ensure that the entire line would eventually die out.
Somewhere along the Delamater line, a Naiad (sea nymph) was introduced into the bloodline, whether through marriage or an affair it is uncertain. Regardless of how it happened, the Naiad blood reacted with the magic flowing through the veins of the Delamaters allowing them to exist for the early part of their lives without their own body of water to support them. Once a Delamater witch reaches her twentieth birthday, however, she will perish unless she claims an unclaimed source of freshwater.
This condition seems to only affect the females in the Delamater line, possibly because the Naiad are only female. To counter this unfortunate weakness, one Delamater man came up with the idea to magically create a small lake on the grounds of his ancestral home, allowing the women in his family to claim it as theirs and to continue living supported by the freshwater there. The ancestral home will allow anyone with the blood of the family into the grounds, but all others must have a member of the family present with them in order to enter, unless the wards are altered by a member of the family.
Draco paled as he saw the last page; it was a family tree going back hundreds of years, and the last entry on the page was 'Hermione Jean Granger'.